UFC ESPN 13: Kattar vs Ige | Prelim Predictions

UFC ESPN 13: Kattar vs Ige | Prelim Predictions

Additional Main Card Predictions

125lbs- Ryan Benoit vs Tim Elliott

Newly promoted to the co-main event, former title challenger Tim Elliott (15-11-1) looks for his first Octagon win since his return to the Flyweight division. Elliott is coming off a submission loss to UFC newcomer Brandon Royval and hasn’t won a fight at 125-pounds since 2017 against Louis Smolka.

Elliott started strong against Royval, but fell victim to his own pace. Tim likes to meld together bulk takedowns and a striking barrage in an attempt to overwhelm his foe. He noticeably gassed and was subbed in round 2.

Takedowns have been a crucial aspect of Elliott’s attack, but he has also been submitted 5-times which is concerning for a fighter so heavily reliant on grappling.

With a trio of split decisions over his last 4 bouts and just a single win in those close contests, Ryan Benoit (10-6-0) is also suffering through a difficult run inside the Octagon. Benoit debuted and despite scoring an upset win over Sergio Pettis, he hasn’t strung back to back wins together since his 2012 run in Legacy FC.

Benoit has legit knockout power, with 8 of his 10 wins coming by (T)KO including 2 in the UFC. He has had some issues with conditioning, with the majority of his wins coming inside the first half of the fight. He is 2-4 in bouts that enter the 3rd frame.

“Baby Face” has had some issues with his counter wrestling. He has given up 4 or more takedowns on a trio of occasions.

The willingness of Elliott to press an almost unsustainable pace is concerning, but his struggles have come against top-level competition. Benoit has heavy hands and demonstrated improved striking in his last fight, but he is cutting back to 125 and his cardio and poor TDD leave him open to Elliott’s style of attack. Tim needs to be mindful early of the power, but the ground control will be there- my prediction is Tim Elliott to defeat Ryan Benoit by submission.

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125lbs- Molly McCann vs Taila Santos

In the Women’s Flyweight division, England’s Molly McCann (10-2-0) looks to build on a strong 2019 that saw her go 3-0. “Meatball” was submitted in her debut, but has since doubled down on her own grappling with a takedown heavy offense.

In addition to an improved focus on her takedowns, McCann’s volume has also been a key aspect of her attack. She has landed over 100 significant strikes in each of her wins and throws with respectable power.

Despite having yet to record a pro win by submission, Molly will look for an arm triangle standing or on the mat. If unable to secure the sub, she will transition to a more GNP prominent position.

Out of action for roughly 17-months following her debut, Taila Santos (15-1-0) is looking to rebound from the first loss of her career. Prior to her debut, Santos has finished 13 of her 15 wins, 11 by knockout, and 11 in the opening frame.

Talia started strong, taking Mara Romero Borella’s back, but lost the position and never found much success until the final minutes of the last round. She was able to land some decent strikes at range, but needed her opponent to tire to do so.

Prior to the slowdown, Santos had issues with her opponent’s takedowns and top control.

Santos came off the regional scene with wins over a pair of opponents with a combined 0-11 record which raised some questions about her quality of opposition. She struggled with the grappling of Borella and McCann should offer something similar. When separated, the Brit will be able to match the striking of Taila. Santos will have her moments, but “Meatball” scores a few key takedowns and outworks her on the feet- my prediction is Molly McCann to defeat Taila Santos by decision.

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Preliminary Fight Predictions

185lbs- John Phillips vs Khamzat Chimaev

An 0-3 start to his UFC career had Welsh knockout artist John Phillips (22-9-0 1NC) on the cusp of a pink slip. It only took him 17-seconds to snap that slump, with a vicious knockout of Alen Amedovski. It was the 20th knockout of Phillips’ career.

Phillips scored the knockout after his opponent elected to stand in the middle of the cage and exchange. Previous opponents had opted or a more elusive game, avoiding a brawl and exploiting Phillips’ lack of defense.

Devoid of a defensive front, Phillips has been finished 7 times, including 5 by submission.

With just over a week to prepare, Sweden’s Khamzat Chimaev steps in as an injury replace to make his debut. He has split his 6 pro wins evenly between submissions and knockouts with just a pair of fights escaping round 1.

Chimaev is aggressive often sprinting across the cage to engage his opponent. He will swing wild barrages but often ends the exchange on the mat in top position.

In his most recent outing, he grabbed a single leg behind his initial strikes and slammed his opponent to the mat. The rest of the fight play out on the floor prior to the submission finish.

Training out of the Allstars Training Center Chimaev works alongside Alexander Gustafsson and Ilir Latifi. So while he is inexperienced, he is building on a strong base. If Phillips can draw him into a slugfest, he could clip him and score the finish. The manner in which Chimaev pursued the takedown in his last fight is encouraging considering Phillip’s clear vulnerability- my prediction is Khamzat Chimaev to defeat John Phillips by submission.

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145lbs- Chris Fishgold vs Jared Gordon

Prediction included on the UFC on ESPN 13 Prediction Episode: Click Here

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145lbs- Lerone Murphy vs Ricardo Ramos

Despite entering the Octagon on short notice and has an underdog, Lerone Murphy (8-0-1) maintained his undefeated record with a draw against Russian Zubaira Tukhugov.

A rough opening round saw Murphy get dropped and controlled on the mat. In rounds 2 and 3, Lerone found success with his striking. Murphy was landing a solid jab and good combinations along with some hard low kicks.

As the fight advance, a tired Tukhugov was still able to take Murphy down, but Lerone was able to get back to his feet and score points with his striking.

An early 2019 loss to Said Nurmagomedov ended a strong start to Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos’ (14-2-0) UFC career. He has since rebounded with back to back wins including a victory in his UFC Featherweight debut.

Ramos can finish both on the feet and the floor, most recently securing a win via RNC- his 7th by submission. He has landed takedowns in 4 of his 6 UFC outings, winning all 4 contests. In his last fight, he secured a well-timed takedown and seamlessly rotated to his opponent’s back before sinking in the choke.

Ricardo will throw a variety of kicks and moves fairly well around the Octagon. He power in his strikes, but is far from a high output striker. Instead, he will look to do some damage on the feet and keep his opponent out of range until he opts grapple.

The Brazilian has been known to tire in longer fights and he was unable to demonstrate if the move Featherweight had improved that concern. Murphy clearly benefited from his foe fading, but until then the Brit was quite susceptible to Tukhugov’s takedowns. Murphy needs to force Ramos to stand with him, where Lerone is more than capable of holding his own. Unfortunately, unless he has improved his TDD Ricardo should be able to take him down- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Lerone Murphy by submission.

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205lbs- Modestas Bukauskas vs Andreas Michailidis

With Vinicius Moreira testing positive for COVID-19, one and done Bellator and Titan FC veteran Andreas Michailidis (12-3-0) gets the call to the UFC. A native of Athens, Michailidis makes his debut with roughly a week to prepare. He has won 3 in a row including a TKO victory over UFC vet Marcel Fortuna.

Michailidis has competed at Middleweight but is not unfamiliar with the Light Heavyweight division. All but 1 of his 12 wins coming inside the distance, 7 by knockout. He is just 1-2 over his last 3 fights to last beyond the 5-minute mark.

A confident striker, Michailidis throws hard low kicks and more flashy spinning kicks. He likes to taunt his opponent behind a lead left jab and hooks. He will look for takedowns, but in his last defeat, he struggled to complete his shots. He noticeably tired and lost a decision.

Entering the UFC after a strong showing under the Cage Warriors banner that included capturing their 205-pound title, Modestas Bukauskas (10-2-0) has won 6 straight fights- all inside the distance. The 26-year old has only seen the scorecards once his career; he has recorded 4 opening round stoppages and a 2019 4th round TKO to win the title.

The Lithuanian has had some issues with takedowns, but in recent fights, he has survived the early grappling onslaught and finished his foe as they faded down the stretch.

He offers well-timed combinations and snapping low kicks. He stays relatively light on his feet, stepping into range to throw a quick jab and dangerous over-hand right. He will also mix in hard uppercuts a nasty turning side kick to the body.

WIth Michailidis coming in on short notice and already predisposed to fading outside of the first round, his window for victory could be limited. Bukauskas is far more economical with his offense and has a better track record outside of round 1. Michailidis has power and could catch Modestas who has been stumbled before. Instead, the younger and longer fighter will throw hard combos, but be mindful of the flashier kicks coming back his way, avoid them and stretch this fight out- my prediction is Modestas Bukauskas to defeat Andreas Michailidis by TKO.

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125lbs- Diana Belbita vs Liana Jojua

With 4 consecutive wins earning her the call to the big show, Diana Belbita (15-3-0) of Romania was unable to continue her success in the UFC. A 15-minutes decision loss to Molly McCann ended her streak and dropped her record to 3-2 in decisions. “The Warrior Princess” will stand 3-inches taller than her foe to go along with a 6″ reach advantage.

Building on her kickboxing background, Diana put forth a solid 98 significant strikes in her debut. Overall, she has finished 10 opponents- 6 by knockout. She was landing with a solid jab/hook combination and working in low and body kicks. Belbita will also utilize the clinch to land hard knees.

Belbita struggled on the mat as McCann completed multiple takedowns and moved to a dominant position that wiped out any success that Belbita had on the feet. Diana has been submitted on 3 occasions throughout her career.

Winning the Fight Nights Global title was followed by a 19-month layoff and 3rd round TKO defeat at the hands of Sarah Moras in Liana Jojua’s (7-3-0) UFC debut. “She Wolf” debuted at Bantamweight and has fought at Featherweight before, but will be making the cut down to 125-pounds for this bout.

The Russian has submitted her foe in 5 of her 7 wins- 4 by armbar. Liana was able to complete a pair of takedowns against Moras, but ended the grappling exchange on the defensive and was eventually finished on the mat with strikes. Even in her title win, she found herself on the grappling defensive until his opponent tired.

Despite her sub heavy resume, Joual is capable on the feet working behind active straight punches and snappy low kicks. Against Moras, Jojua was getting clipped with Sarah’s jab and was waiting too much during the exchanges.

The Russian looked hesitant in her debut, but she should be a little more comfortable in her 2nd fight. Additionally, the move to Flyweight appears more appropriate for her frame. Belbita’s volume is solid and if she can stay vertical that will be her key to victory. Jojua could exploit that vulnerability, but her wrestling is far from strong and she herself has struggled with takedowns. “The Warrior Princess” will capitalize on her reach and pace to outwork Liana as she slows down the stretch- my prediction is Diana Belbita to defeat Liana Jojua by decision.

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135lbs- Aaron Phillips vs Jack Shore

A 3rd round submission victory in his debut helped Welsh fighter Jack Shore (12-0-0) maintain his perfect record. “Tank” secured his 7th win by submission and 6th by rear-naked choke.

Shore started with a quick jab, but he was focussed on closing the gap and eventually dragging his foe to the floor. Once on the mat, he worked quickly to his opponent’s back where he controlled the majority of the opening round. His timing on his entries is excellent, changing levels under his foe’s strikes.

“Tank” won the Cage Warriors Bantamweight title in 2018 via 3rd round TKO.

In 2014, Aaron Phillips (12-3-0) went 0-2 in the UFC, losing fights to Sam Sicilian and Matt Hobar by decision followed by a defeat on the regional scene to Chris Gutierrez. After taking 3 years off, he snapped his losing streak, he has won 5 in a row including 4 first-round finishes.

His level of competition has not been strong with a trio of opponents holding record under .500, combining for a 23-28 record. In his last fight, he was hurt early but rallied and scored the finish on the mat via GNP.

His struggles inside the Octagon centered around his inability to remain vertical. He gave up a combined 11 takedowns in 2 fights. In his only fight to go the distance over his last 5, he was taken down multiple times, but he was able to attack off his back and work to top position.

Phillips is a scrapper and has turned his career around, but that has largely been a product of low-level competition. Even with the success, his troubling takedown defense remains to be a concern. Shore’s impressive debut centered around an effective grappling attack and he won’t deviate from attack. Shore should be able to take Phillips down at will, work his way to back control, and set up his preferred submission- my prediction is Jack Shore to defeat Aaron Phillips by submission.

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205lbs- Kenneth Bergh vs Jorge Gonzalez

With Timo Feucht pulled from the fight related to issues outside of the cage, Jorge Gonzalez (16-5-0) gets the call to the UFC. Gonzalez is getting the call with under a week to prepare, but just fought on July 3rd and will be making less than a 2 week turn around for this bout.

Gonzalez has fought beyond the first round just once, finishing 12 of his 16 opponents by knockout. He has also been submitted 4-times and suffered his only knockout loss in his lone fight to advance into round 2. The TKO defeat also came on the floor.

Holding a win over UFC veteran Luke Barnatt, Gonzalez was taking some damage prior to landing a massive right hand that crumpled the Brit. Jorge thrives in a firefight, absorbing damage and marching forward to land with power.

Norway’s Kenneth Bergh (8-0-0 1NC) suffered a first-round submission loss on the Contender Series, only to have the fight overturned to a No Contest. He has secured 6 submissions of his own to go along with a pair of TKO wins. He has only fought beyond the first round once- subbing Bellator veteran Norma Paraisy.

Bergh’s level of competition has been a little hit or miss. After his Contenders fight, he scored a 41-second RNC over a then 0-0 opponent followed by 21 second TKO over another sub .500 adversary. He lost to Eric Spicely via submission in the TUF 23 qualifying round.

During his Contender loss, he moved into the clinch quickly, landed some knees to his opponent’s legs, but was thrown and subbed via arm-triangle choke.

With a combined 29 of 31 fights ending inside the opening round, the judges will most likely not be required for this bout. Gonzalez’s gas tank isn’t great and the short notice won’t help. Regardless, look for him to come out throwing big power from the opening bell. Conversely, Bergh will look for the early takedown in an effort to put Jorge in a position he has struggled in. Bergh should be able to take Jorge down, negating his power and tiring him out in the process- my prediction is Kenneth Bergh to defeat Jorge Gonzalez by submission.

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