UFC 245: Usman vs Covington | Televised Prelims

UFC 245: Usman vs Covington | Televised Prelims

170lbs- #14 Geoff Neal (11-2-0) vs Mike Perry (13-4-0)

The final fight of the prelims features potential future Welterweight contender Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal battling the polarizing “Platinum” Mike Perry. Neal has won 6 in a row, including 4 in the UFC; he finished Nikko Price by TKO and battered Belal Muhammad over 15-minutes. Perry’s Fight of the Year candidate split decision loss to Vicent Luque dropped his UFC record to 6-5.

Neal is an inch taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Perry is the younger fighter by a year.

Perry is a capable striker with power and solid finishing instincts. He has finished 11 opponents by knockout- 4 in the UFC. Conversely, he has struggled with more technical opponents that are able to negate his aggression. Perry has not recorded a knockout victory over his last 6 fights. He matched Luque in volume, but wasn’t able to do enough to earn the split-decision nod.

Perry took a beating early in the Luque fight, but rallied late. He has finished 4 opponents outside of the first round compared to 6 within the first 5 minutes.

Offering a similarly knockout-heavy record, Neal has finished a pair of UFC opponents by knockout to go along with a submission win in his debut. Against Price, Neal got rocked in round 1, but was able to recover, return to his feet, and take Price down. “Hanz of Steel” utilized an effective takedown and top game, grounding his adversary while landing big strikes that eventually led to the finish.

Both of Neals’ defeats have come via stoppage (TKO and submission) and both came in the 3rd round which could suggest an issue in longer fights. He is 7-2 outside of the opening round and 3-2 in bouts that enter the 3rd frame.

The war between Perry and Luque occurred just 4-months ago. Including his badly broken nose, there could be concerns regarding how much “Platinum” Mike has recovered. Perry is arguably the more durable fighter, but he is also less defensively sound. Neal is the more diverse striker, mixing in his jab, and varying his offense more effectively. Neal’s use of wrestling could provide a solid foil to Perry’s aggression. Perry could score a stoppage, especially if Neal begins to falter in the later stages. More likely, Neal mixes up his offense, landing a solid array of strikes and key takedowns/ top control- wearing down a defensively vulnerable Perry- my prediction is Geoff Neal to defeat Mike Perry by decision.

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135lbs- #2 Ketlen Vieira (10-0-0) vs #10 Irene Aldana (10-5-0)

A future title shot could be up for grabs as undefeated contender Ketlen Vieira takes on Irene Aldana in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Vieira is 4-0 in the UFC, including back to back wins over former title contenders Cat Zingano and Sarah McMann. Aldana defeated Vaness Melo in her last fight to improve to 4-1 in her last 5 fights- she dropped a split decision to Raquel Pennington.

They share the same 68″ reach, despite Aldana standing an inch taller. The Brazilian is the younger fighter by 3-years.

It has been nearly 21-months since Vieira last fought.

A Black belt in both BJJ and Judo, Vieira has showcased her strong grappling acumen in recent outings. She defeated McMann via sub and controlled the majority of the fight versus Cat on the mat. She has taken down each of her UFC opponents, totalling 8 over 4-fights. Her striking is serviceable, showcased most effectively in her 71-strike win over Ashlee Evans-Smith.

Against McMann, she spent the majority of round 1 on her back before rallying to take the Olympic wrestler down and submit her.

Mexico’s Aldana has found her stride since a bit of a slow start. She offers a strong boxing attack with improving volume. She is coming off of her second 100+ strike performance. Equally as important as her volume, has been her improved ability to pace her attack. Prior to coming to the UFC, all of her wins came by stoppage while she was 0-4 outside of round 1.

Aldana is 4-1 over her last 5 fights to go 3 rounds. That being said she is 1-1 in splits, fought a couple of short-notice opponents, and scored a late submission when she was possibly behind on the cards.

If Aldana can stay on the outside, land long combinations, and utilize movement she can win a decision. Ketlen’s repaired knee could be an issue if she has to chase Irene. Conversely, the physical grappling offense of Vieira is going to give Irene issues on the clinch and the floor. Aldana has struggled with pressure, especially outside of the opening round. Once she starts to slow down, the takedowns will come easier for the Brazilian- my prediction is Ketlen Vieira to defeat Irene Aldana by submission.

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185lbs- #14 Omari Akhmedov (18-4-1) vs Ian Heinisch (13-2-0)

Former LFA champion, Ian “Hurricane” Heinisch takes on Russian Omari Akhmedov in the UFC’s Middleweight division. Akhmedov is 2-0-1 since returning to Middleweight- he most recently defeated Zak Cummings. Heinisch won back to back fights to start his UFC run, but came up short in his bid to take the next step- he lost a decision to Derek Brunson.

Omari is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. The American is a year younger.

Akhmedov is a heavy-handed striker with a nice wrestling complement to his power punches. He utilized a pair of solid takedowns and prolonged top control to grind out Cummings over 15-minutes. His cardio has been an area of concern, but he has gone the distance in each of his last 5 fights with a record of 4-0-1.

Omari’s last 2 defeats both came by 3rd round stoppage in fights that he was arguably ahead in.

“Hurricane” Heinisch’s first 2 fights came against similar opponents. He bested both Brazilians by defending/surviving takedowns and pushing a pace that they could not match. Against, Brunson he struggled to land with regularity and gave up a couple of key TDs. He is an active fighter but doesn’t land a lot of volume.

Heinisch has been taken down 11-times over 3-fights.

There is a misconception regarding Heinisch’s cardio- it isn’t that great. He has benefited from opponents simply fading harder then he does. Omari has become more patient, pacing his offense with fewer explosions and more consistent volume. The key here will be Akhmedov’s takedowns. He has solid top control and Ian has given up 11 completions over 3 UFC fights. Look for Omari to land the more impactful strikes couple with crucial top control time- my prediction is Omari Akhmedov to defeat Ian Heinisch by decision.

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170lbs- Ben Saunders (22-12-2) vs Matt Brown (21-16-0)

A pair of long-time UFC competitors open the televised prelims as 24-fight UFC veteran Matt “The Immortal” Brown takes on 18-fight UFC vet Ben “Killa B” Saunders. Brown’s most recent efforts produced an unreal knockout win over Diego Sanchez, ending his 3-fight skid. Saunders is coming off of a loss to Takashi Sato, his 3rd straight defeat and 5th in 6 fights.

Saunders is 2-inches taller than Brown and he will have a 2″ reach advantage. Matt is the older man by 2-years.

Brown has been out of action for over 2-years after pulling out of a 2018 bout with Carlos Condit. Saunders has fought 5-times since “The Immortal” last graced the cage.

With a wealth of experience comes a considerable amount of damage, worn on both sides of this fight.

For Brown, his body has been an area of concern for several years. His opponents have found success targetting his midsection to do damage and open up other targets. Brown has been finished via strikes just twice- each coming in his last 2 defeats.

Saunders has had similar durability issues, more connected to his chin. He has been knocked out 8-times, including in 6 of his last 7 defeats.

How does Saunder’s win the fight? If Saunders can get Brown the mat, Ben has some nasty submission skills he could draw upon to secure the win. A body kick might be enough to floor Matt.

For Brown, he needs to get on the inside and test Ben’s durability. Brown can do damage in the clinch and from range (13 wins by knockout)- and the numbers suggest he is the more durable fighter.

The prolonged layoff is not ideal for an older fighter like Brown. It is also worth noting that Saunders is looking to rebound from a trio of defeats, which is a scenario that often produces positive returns. Matt is getting up in age and returning from an injury- he is not the same fighter he used to be. Look for Saunders to target Brown’s body with kicks at range and knees in close, eventually finding his way to the floor for a finish- my prediction is Ben Saunders to defeat Matt Brown by submission.

Scott Johnson

scott

Starting in 2010, Scott began posting UFC and NFL predictions videos on youtube under the name Kamikaze Overdrive MMA Predictions. Eventually, MMA became his main focus and as the channel's popularity grew Kamikaze Overdrive eventually expanded to include a website. Scott has worked for various MMA and Sports betting information sites and now posts UFC Predictions, Betting Breakdowns, and Content along with other sports-related betting information.

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