UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer | Televised Prelim Predictions

UFC 250: Nunes vs Spencer | Televised Prelim Predictions
145lbs- Alex Caceres vs Chase Hooper

The entertaining Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (15-12-0 1NC) headlines the undercard fresh off a win over Steven Peterson. He has traded wins and losses over his last 6 fights. Caceres has a history of close fights; he is 4-3 in split decisions.

The TUF alumni throws a variety of kicks and flowing offense. He doesn’t possess one-punch knockout power, but he can put enough volume together to do damage especially if he gets them back up to the wall. In the majority of his wins, he usually puts up solid volume while limiting his opponent’s offense.

“Bruce Leeroy” is a capable grappler and good scrambler, but also quite vulnerable. He has been submitted on multiple occasions, including 2 of his last 3 defeats.

In his sophomore appearance, Chase Hooper (9-0-1) will look to build on his impressive start. Against David Teymur, he threw an early strike and shot almost immediately. Hooper will pull guard, dive on a leg, or take his opponent’s back- anything to generate a grappling exchange.

At 6’1″, Hooper is 3 inches taller than Caceres to go along with 1″ reach advantage. Hooper is the younger man by 11-years.

Hooper is not a strong striker and ate some big shots from Teymur early before getting on the inside.

Caceres should have a marked advantage on the feet, but he lacks the power to keep Hooper at bay. Alex is simply too willing to engage on the mat to avoid Hooper’s aggressive grappling onslaught. Caceres’ length has traditionally aided him on the mat, but against Hooper he won’t have the edge in that department. Hooper forces the grappling exchange, works to a dominant position, and either sets up the submission or lands brutal GNP- my prediction is Chase Hooper to defeat Alex Caceres by submission.

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185lbs- Ian Heinisch vs Gerald Meerschaert

A positive COVID test for one of Ian Heinisch’s (13-3-0) coaches temporarily forced “Hurricane” from the card. Replaced by Anthony Ivy, Ivy has now be pulled from the fight and Heinisch reinserted after the test was ruled a false positive.

Heinisch’s back to back UFC wins and 5-fight winning streak has given way to a pair of tough decision defeats.

Defensively, there are some crack’s in Heinisch’s game. He has been taken down multiple times in each of his fights, accounting for 11 overall. Over his last 2 bouts, he gave a combined 134 significant strikes and ate some big power shots from Omari Akhmedov.

“Hurricane” is a willing combatant and will engage anywhere the fight goes. In his first 2 fights, he benefited from his opponents slowing down, pulling away as the bout advanced.

Milwaukee-based veteran Gerald Meerschaert (30-12-0) is coming off an upset submission win of Deron Winn. It was his second win over his last 3 with a questionable split decision loss in the middle. “GM3” has finished his opponent in all 6 of his UFC victories with both of his decision losses coming via split.

Meerschaert is a capable striker, but his primary focus is on getting his opponent to the mat where he can utilize his battle-tested grappling skills. He has been submitted 8 times in 42 bouts, he has also secured an impressive 22 submission victories.

Never out of a fight, Gerald has a couple of come-from-behind wins on his record. Against Winn, it was a back and forth fight with GM3 getting hurt in the third before rocking Winn and eventually submitting him.

Heinisch has some power and “GM3” can be hit, but he is durable. Ian needs to avoid the mat at all cost, stay standing, and pick away at his foe. The reach advantage and reliance on kicks will aid for Meershchaert in the exchanges, but his best opportunities will come on the mat. Heinisch is too vulnerable to takedowns and GM3 is lethal on the floor, especially when Ian starts to slow down- my prediction is Geral Meerschaert to defeat Ian Heinisch by submission.

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145lbs- Brian Kelleher vs Cody Stamann

Back to back wins and less than a month turn around for Brian “Boom” Kelleher (21-10-0) has the New York native back on the right track. For his second straight contest, Kelleher entered the cage as the underdog and took home finish victory.

Against Hunter Azure, “Boom” effectively targetted the body with hooks and front kicks while pushing a pace that clearly taxed his foe. While Brian ate some big shots along the way, he eventually found the mark for his 8th career knockout.  Conversely, his offense-first approach has resulted in 7 of his 10 losses coming by finish- 6 by submission.

Despite scoring the finish, Kelleher absorbed a lot of damage and was behind in striking stat count by a ratio of nearly 2:1. He has given up more strikes than he has landed in 4 of his 5 Octagon triumphs.

Riding 2-fight unbeaten streak, Cody Stamann (18-2-1) was on the wrong end of a peculiar decision that many felt he won straight up, but even after his opponent was docked a point- the fight ended in a draw. At 4-1-1 in the promotion, Cody has faced a nice mix of veterans and developing prospects- only falling to Aljamain Sterling.

Stamann offers a nice combination of power punching, solid wrestling, and a capable grappling attack. While owning a strong record on the scorecards, he is 2-1 in split decisions including the majority draw against Song Yadong.

Not a high volume striker, Stamman does a solid job of limiting his opponent’s offense to magnify his own. He does his best work when he can land takedowns to augment his striking.

Kelleher’s quick turn around and recent upsets will give him confidence coming into this bout. For Stamann, he does an excellent job of shutting down his opponent’s offense, and with “Boom” already carrying a negative striking exchange rate- that will give Stamann a big edge on the feet. Cody will prevent Kelleher from landing takedown to further diminish his offense. Brian may very well need a finish. Fighting at Featherweight will be less taxing on Stamann’s muscle heavy frame as he lands more frequently and scores a few key takedowns- my prediction is Cody Stamann to defeat Brian Kelleher by decision.

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185lbs- Charles Byrd vs Maki Pitolo

In the opening fight of the televised prelims, Charles Byrd (10-6-0) attempts to secure his first UFC win since his debut. Byrd has suffered back to back TKO losses to Edmen Shahbazyan and Darren Stewart- he submitted John Phillips in his first UFC fight. He has been finished in 4 of his 6 defeats.

Against Phillips, “Kid Dynamite” went for the takedown at the early onset of the fight, eventually submitting the grappling deficient Phillips. He attempted a similar start against Stewart and Shahbazyan, with no success. As a pro, he has 5 wins by submission.

Fighting out of Fortis MMA, Byrd throws a solid overhand right and has a kickboxing background. Before getting knocked out, he was winning the majority of the striking exchanges at range and in the clinch against Darren Stewart.

Debuting in enemy territory, Hawaiian Maki Pitolo (12-5-0) was unable to overcome Aussie Callan Potter- dropping a decision. While Pitolo debuted at Welterweight against a natural Lightweight he is moving up to Middleweight for this bout.

Known as “Coconut Bombz”, the heavy-handed islander has recorded 6 knockouts including a first-round stoppage on the Contender Series to warrant the call to the big show.

Maki effectively varies his striking, attacking both the body and head. He appeared to rock Potter early but also got stung a couple of times and began to slow as the fight progress. He gave up multiple takedowns that sealed his fate.

Byrd was beating Stewart before getting finished which will be a major concern here as well. Pitolo has some pop and he throws decent volume. If he can land with regularity he could put his opponent down. If Pitolo tires before getting the finish or can’t fend off Charles’ takedowns, his striking offense will be a non-factor. Byrd will utilize his size in the clinch to wear on his foe, land a few takedowns, and connect on distance strikes once Maki slows- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat Maki Pitolo by submission.

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