UFC Fight Night 163: Zabit vs Kattar | Prelim Predictions

UFC Fight Night 163: Zabit vs Kattar | Prelim Predictions

205lbs- Magomed Ankalaev (11-1-0) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1-0)

The final fight of the night goes down in the Light Heavyweight division as Magomed Ankalaev puts his 2-fight winning streak on the line against promotional sophomore Dalcha “Champion” Lungiambula. Ankalaev’s shocking debut defeat has given way to wins over Marcin Prachnio and Klidson Abreu. Lungiambula made a successful debut, finishing Dequan Townsend in his debut to extend his current winning streak to 6 consecutive bouts.

At 6’3″, Ankalaev will stand a full 7-inches taller than Dalcha, but the South African will have 1″ reach advantage. Magomed is the younger man by 5-years.

Lungiambula is a physical specimen with a strong judo background. He recorded his 5th win by knockout in his debut, overpowering his foe throughout the fight before dropping and finishing him early in the final round. Despite his long fight experience, which includes a pair of 5-round fights, he has been known to have some cardio issues if he is unable to score an early finish.

He made his debut after almost exactly 1-year away from competition.

The Russian wrestler has put together a strong UFC start, with his only loss coming via last-second submission in a fight that Magomed dominated. Despite his wrestling and Sambo background, he has yet to complete a takedown in the UFC. Working behind a solid jab and power straight right, he was able to bust up Abreu, resulting in a badly broken nose. He doesn’t throw with a great deal of volume, but his defense helps him to limit his opponent’s success.

Ankalaev went the distance in each of his first 4 pro bouts, but he has since scored knockouts in 6 of 8 wins.

Lungiambula is a physical specimen and has the talent to back his skills up. Ankalaev is the much larger man and has shown a less erratic and more consistent offensive attack. Look for Magomed to bring his size to bear, utilizing his takedowns to both secure top control time and tire “Champion” Dalcha out as he attempts to defend. As the fight advances, the takedowns and control should come easier and the distance striking more effective for the Russian- my prediction is Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Dalcha Lungiambula by decision.

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170lbs- Rustam Khabilov (23-4-0) vs Sergey Khandozhko (25-5-1)

Moving up in weight, Russia’s Rustam “Tiger” Khabilovs battles fellow-countryman Sergey Khandozhko in the Welterweight division. Khabilov is coming off an upset loss to Carlos Ferreira, he had won 6 consecutive bouts including a narrow split decision win over Kajan Johnson in Moscow. Khandozhko made a successful debut in the UFC last June, securing a decision win over fellow debutant Rostem Akman- he has won 3 in a row.

Khandozhko will have a 1″ reach advantage despite standing a full 5-inches taller than the former Lightweight. Sergey is the younger man by 6-years.

With a diversified record, Khandozhko has shown he can finish on the mat and the feet with a solid record in decisions. He put together a solid debut performance in a close fight, leaning on his striking repertoire. He has a tendency to expose himself to takedown when opening up his striking attack with more aggressive and high-risk techniques.

He has bee subbed twice and gave up a pair of takedowns to Akman.

With Khabilov moving up in weight, there could be a concern regarding how well his wrestling heavy attack will hold up against larger men. He has taken down all but 1 of his 12 UFC opponents and averages nearly 4 completions per fight. Rustam has had issues maintaining top position, but his aggressive pursuit of the takedowns allows him to keep his opponent on the defensive.

On the feet, he prefers to counter strikes which has created issues against more active opponents.

This fight should come down to the TDD of Khandozhko and Khabilov’s unending pursuit of the takedown. If Khandozhko can stay vertical, he could outwork Rustam on route to a decision win. If Khabilov can produce his expected wrestling numbers he should be able to do enough in the limited time on the feet to stay ahead of his opponent. Top position time will be key for Rustam- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Sergey Khandozhko by decision.

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185lbs- Roman Kopylov (8-0-0) vs Karl Roberson (7-2-0)

Carrying an undefeated record into his debut, Russian Middleweight Roman Kopylov takes on 5-fight UFC veteran Karl Roberson. Roberson is coming off of a split decision win over Wellington Turman- he is 3-2 in the UFC. Kopylov is fighting for the first time in 2019 after a strong 2-0 run in 2018- he made his pro debut in early 2016.

Roberson is an inch taller, but Kopylov will have a 1″ reach advantage and is the younger man by a year.

The American comes from a striking background, but he has found a great deal of success on the mat. Roberson has recorded a trio of submission wins and bested Jack Marshman largely on his ability to complete takedowns.

Conversely, he has also been subbed twice and gave up 4 takedowns in a narrow split decision in his last fight.

Kopylov ented the UFC having finish 7 of his 8 opponents by knockout- but only 1 in the first frame. He owns a pair of 3rd round knockouts and 2 more in the 4th frame. In his most recent outing, he scored the finish with a vicious body shot but routinely allowed his opponent to lead the striking exchanges.

His debut was originally scheduled for April against Krzysztof Jotko.

Roberson may opt to take this bout to the floor in order to short circuit the striking skills of Kopylov. The Russian has demonstrated strong defensive skills on the regional circuit. On the feet, Kopylov appears to be the sharper striker with better finishing instincts. The long fight experience is a positive for a young fighter. Debuting is difficult, but so is fighting in Russia for the first time. Look for Kopylov to deny the TDAs and progressively land more and more strikes as the fight advances- my prediction is Roman Kopylov to defeat Karl Roberson by TKO.

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170lbs- Abubakar Nurmagomedov (15-2-0) vs David Zawada (16-5-0)

Following in the steps of his cousin, Abubakar Nurmagomedov makes his UFC debut against German David Zawada in the Welterweight division. Nurmagomedov is coming off a PFL draw against UFC veteran Bojan Velickovic- he is 7-1-1 over his last 9. Zawada 5-fight winning steak ended in his promotional debut, he has now lost back to back fights to Danny Roberts and Jingliang Li.

The German is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by a year.

This will be the first time that Zawada has had a full camp for a UFC bout. He has recorded 11 wins by knockout but is 5-5 in all other fights that end via another method.

That being said, he is willing to compete on the mat. In his fight with Roberts, he relinquished top position on a couple of occasions to look for a submission which arguably cost him the fight.

With an extensive freestyle wrestling and Sambo background, Nurmagomedov builds his attack around his ground game. He offers a solid level change, often punching and changing levels for a deep double leg. His top control is strong and he is more apt to look for GNP finish that submission.

On the feet, he can throw hands and will mix it kicks and knees, but his striking is a second aspect of his offense. He got dropped in his most recent loss prior to getting subbed.

Zawada will most likely engage Abubakar in the battle on the mat which isn’t ideal for the German. If David can maintain separation he may have just enough power to wobble the Nurmagomedov and take over the fight. Zawada’s gas tank is a concern, especially if he spends the majority of the fight defending takedowns and top position. Fighting at home, Nurmagomedov puts together a strong, grinding attack against a willing, but fading foe- my prediction is Abubakar Nurmagomedov to defeat David Zawada by decision.

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155lbs- Alexander Yakovlev (24-8-1) vs Roosevelt Roberts (8-1-0)

In the UFC’s Lightweight division, Alexander “Thunder of the North” Yakovlev defends home turf against American Roosevelt Roberts. Yakovlev secured a submission win in his last fight, to end a 2 fight skid that included a decision loss to the current Welterweight champion. Roberts is coming off the first loss of his career, dropping a decision to Vinc Pichel after starting his UFC tenure with back to back wins.

Yakovlev has formerly fought at Welterweight. He is an inch taller than Roberts to go along with an inch reach advantage. Roberts is the younger man by 10-years.

With both fighters standing above the Lightweight average, it will be interesting to see who it effects more.

The Russian is coming off a fight that was contested largely on the mat and he appeared to be getting the worst of the exchanges until he secured a submission.

Yakovlev has been submitted 4-times and is 0-2 in fights where he losses the takedown battle.

Roberts is coming off his first career loss which is a motivating factor. The majority of his success has been grappling based. He earned the 4th submission of his career in his debut and has completed 4 takedowns over his last 2 fights.

Against Pichel, Roberts was unable to maintain control of his opponent on the floor and couldn’t match him on the feet.

Roberts is replacing Pichel on 3-weeks notice.

Yakovlev has been an up and down fighter and his UFC wins haven’t held up that well. Roberts is the better wrestler and should be able to close the gap with regularity to set up his wrestling. Roosevelt’s striking game is still a work in progress that opens the door for the Russian to edge him out if he can stay away. Look for a motivated Roberts to control Yakovlev in the clinch and on the mat while outhustling him in the in-between stages- my prediction is Roosevelt Roberts to defeat Alexander Yakovlev by decision.

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135lbs- Jessica-Rose Clark (9-5-0 1NC) vs Pannie Kianzad (12-5-0)

In a rematch from 2015, Aussie Jessica-Rose Clark takes on Sweden’s Pannie Kianzad in the women’s Bantamweight division. Clark won a trio of bouts to begin her UFC tenure before falling to eventual title challenger Jessica Eye by decision. Kianzad is 0-2 in the UFC with losses to Macy Chiasson and Julia Avila.

Clark had been fighting at Flyweight in the UFC, but she has previously competed at 135-pounds. Pannie will stand 2-inches taller and have a 2″ reach advantage. Pannie is the younger girl by 4-years and has previously fought at Featherweight dude to her own issues making weight.

Their first fight took place under the Invicta banner with Kianzad taking a decision to remain undefeated. She has gone 3-5 since the victory. Clark has gone 4-3 with a No Contest in the aftermath.

In their first meeting, the striking exchanges were relatively even. Pannie turned the fight in her favour with takedowns in round 1 and 2. Clark attacked off her back, but she was unable to get vertical.

JRC had more success in round 3 pressuring forward, but she was clearly tired and unable to make up for the first 2 rounds.

This fight could very well play out in a similar fashion to their first meeting. Pannie is the longer and larger girl which will be a factor when they lock up. At 5-5, Clark’s record in decisions is not strong and the layoff is a concern if it results in a slow start in a close fight. At 0-2 in the UFC, Kianzad needs a win and this will necessitate a return to her previously successful gameplan- my prediction is Pannie Kianzad to defeat Jessica-Rose Clark by decision.

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135lbs- Grigorii Popov (13-1-0) vs Davey Grant (10-4-0)

The first fight of the night features the sophomore appearance of Grigorii Popov as he takes on the UK’s Davey Grant in the Bantamweight division. Popov’s 9-fight winning streak came to an end with a vicious knockout defeat against Eddie Wineland. Grant has lost 2 in a row and 3 of 4 with his only win during that stretch coming over Marlon Vera.

Grant is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Davey is also the younger man by a year- he hasn’t fought in 16-months.

Popov came to the UFC with a striking based attack, finishing 7 of 13 opponents. He struggled with the accurate, power-punching of Wineland prior to getting finished. Early in round 2, he hurt Wineland but couldn’t finish him.

Prior to coming to the UFC, his last 3 regional opponents were a combined 5-8. This raised some questions about his ability to deal with the improved level of competition at the UFC level.

Grants’ career has largely been determined on the mat. Of his 10 career wins, 8 have come on the floor. Conversely, all 4 of his pro losses have come on the mat. The 4 fighters that have defeated Grant have a combined 24 wins by submission.

In his only UFC win, he landed an impressive 72 significant strikes.

Grant’s layoff is concerning, but his grappling skills represent the most significant skill set in this fight. Popov has had issues with grappling oriented fighters less skilled than Davey. The Russian has some pop in his hands, but unless he can defend the takedowns he won’t be in a position to utilize those skills. Popov’s lack of quality victories are hard to overlook- my prediction is Davey Grant to defeat Grigorii Popov by submission.

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