Not to be left out of the injury parade, “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means (29-11-1 1NC) will also make the walk to the cage to square off with a late notice replacement. Means was in need of a strong performance and got it with a guillotine choke out of former title challenger Thiago Alves.
Traditionally, Tim does his best work on the feet with a lethal Muay Thai striking attack. Unfortunately, in his last defeat, a strong start against Niko Price gave way to a first-round knockout that also resulted in a broken leg.
Means has had issue with opponents that attempt to take him down and he is also prone to fighting close contests where he has struggled to convince the judges that he is worthy of the nod.
A natural Lightweight, Daniel Rodriguez (10-1-0) is replacing Ramazan Emeev on short notice. A mid-2019 decision on the Contenders Series extended his streak to 5-straight victories but it was enough to get the call to the big show.
He secured 1 more regional win to round out 2019.
With the majority of his wins coming by stoppage, including 6 by knockout (just 3 in round 1) Rodriguez has demonstrated strong finishing instincts. His last 3 non-Contenders opponents offer a combined record of 39-46.
Despite moving up a division, he will stand just an inch shorter with a 1″ reach deficit against Means.
Means needs to be mindful of not having a let down in the wake of his opponent change. Rodriguez is tough, durable, and hits hard. If he clips Means, Tim could be going down. That being said, the newcomer can get overzealous and sloppy, opening opportunities for Means to go to work. Tim is the bigger man with a full camp behind him. Look for Rodriguez to hold his own, but Means ultimately gets the nod in a slugfest- my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Daniel Rodriguez by decision.
135lbs- John Dodson vs Nathaniel Wood
Representing the veteran portion of a prospect versus battle harden veteran showdown, former Flyweight title Challenger John Dodson (20-11-0) enters the cage having lost back to back bouts and 3 of his last 4.
Dodson as faced top-flight competition during his current skid, but it certainly can be argued that he has taken a step back from prime. He is 35-years old and lighter weight fighters that rely on speed tend to age quicker.
“The Magician’s” UFC success has been highlight by solid TDD, speed, and punching power. Dodson has knocked out 9 opponents, but none since 2016. More recently, he has struggled to match his opponents’ vertical output and his elusive striking style has equated to his opponent’s doing more work on the feet.
Dodson is 2-5 in his last 7 decisions including winning just 1 of 3 splits.
British fighter Nathaniel Wood’s (16-3-0) success has been grounded in his submission skills. A trio of UFC tap outs has pushed his overall total to 5. On the regional scene, he had knocked out 4 straight opponents before getting the calls.
A knock on Wood (yes, on purpose) has been his willingness to take damage. He has been knocked out once and rocked in a couple of his UFC fights. Similar to his mentor Brad Pickett, he is more than willing to stand and trade at the expense of his defense.
Dodson’s level of competition has been stiff, to say the least. Where does the Brit fit into the equation? If Nathaniel can pressure John and outwork him that will be his key to success. The lack of grappling that Wood will be able to incorporate is a concern. Look for Dodson to land a decent amount of offense against the defensively vulnerable foe, potentially finding a home for his big left. A split or contentious decision is certainly possible- but my prediction is John Dodson to defeat Nathaniel Wood by decision.
155lbs- Scott Holtzman vs Jim Miller
On the strength of back to back wins and a trio of victories over his last four outings, New Jersey’s Jim Miller (31-13-0 1NC) remains a difficult task for the majority of the Lightweight division even 12-years removed from his debut.
Miller has returned to his grappling roots, submitting his foe in each of his last 3 victories. An opportunistic grappler, Miller had completed takedowns in 5 of his 6 previous wins before submitting fellow-veteran Clay Guida.
On the feet, Miller does a decent job targetting his opponent’s mobility with a hard low kick and he has shown improvements in his boxing.
Scott Holtzman (13-3-0) has proven himself to be a constantly improving, but still flawed fighter. He has routinely outclassed his opponents when able to get the upper hand with his striking. Battering his foes on the feet, including a pair of knockout wins in each of his last 2 triumphs.
Conversely, Holtzman has proven vulnerable to capable wrestlers. Nik Lentz was the most recent fighter to ground “Hot Sauce” on route to a decision win.
He has been taken down in 7 of his 9 UFC contests and is 1-3 when giving up at least 2 takedowns.
At bell time, Miller will pull even for the most career UFC appearances. If he can utilize his ground attack, he can make it a successful trip to the cage. Holtzman is the more impactful striker, but his struggles against talented grapplers makes it difficult for him to utilize those skills. This fight is close if it stays vertical, but Miller is the better mat man and that shoes up here- my prediction is Jim Miller to defeat Scott Holtzman by submission.
205lbs- Devin Clark vs Dequan Townsend
Devin Clark’s (10-4-0) original opponent, Gadzhimurad Antigulov, withdrew from the fight and was replaced by Dequan Townsend on less than 2-weeks notice.
Clark has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights, winning a fight, receiving a step up in competition and coming up short. At his best, Clark has some pop in his hands but he has been more successful utilizing his wrestling to stall out his opponent on he cage and from top position.
He nearly upset Alexandar Rakic via knockout, before faltering and getting finished- all inside the opening frame.
Townsend is stepping after fighting less than a month ago in a Middleweight bout. He took his debut outing on short notice, also at Light Heavyweight and was stopped via strikes for the first time in his career.
A veteran fighter with stopping power and a length advantage, Dequan will need to keep Clark on the outside of his reach and do damage. In his debut, he struggled with the takedown heavy approach of his opponent prior to getting stopped.
Clark has been finished 4 times, twice by knockout, and his cardio is far from perfect. Towsend has an avenue to victory if he can capitalize on either of these scenarios. Clark is a little undersized at LHW, but he should have no issues muscling Townsend around once he closes the distance. Devin’s wrestling and superior physical attributes will allow him to dictate where the fight takes place. He grinds his foe out on the mat for the majority of the contest- my prediction is Devin Clark to defeat Dequan Townsend by decision.
135lbs- Merab Dvalishvili vs Casey Kenney
Fresh off back to back upsets of Ray Borg and Manny Bermudez, Casey Kenney (13-1-1) will face another difficult ground-based opponent.
Despite spending the majority of his UFC tenure on the mat against talented grapplers, Kenney surprisingly escaped both bouts with upset wins. While he was able to complete 4 takedowns, he also gave up 10 completions. Against Bermudez, he was able to counter Manny’s attempts to set up his subs and work to a superior position.
Volume-based wrestling has been the primary focus of Merab Davalishvili (9-4-0). He averages an astronomical 6.75 takedowns per fight and has taken down each of his 4 opponents.
In a similar fashion to Kenny’s UFC opposition, Dvalishvili was able to utilize his wrestling for the duration of the fight, but he struggled to find much success with his top control. More recently, he has been able to convert his takedowns to prolonged top control.
Dvalishvili’s ability to land takedowns will be his key to success- as per usual. Conversely, Kenney’s success will come down to how often he can get back to his feet or scramble to a better position and score with his hands. Kenny’s wins have been narrow and giving up multiple takedowns will eventually catch-up to a fighter. Dvalishvili will be relentless with his wrestling and Kenney won’t be able to make up the gap- my prediction is Merab Dvalishvili to defeat Casey Kenney by decision.
135lbs- Macy Chiasson vs Shanna Young
With former Flyweight Champion Nicco Montano pulling out during fight week, TUF winner Macy Chiasson (5-1-0) will face a new opponent as he looks to rebound from her first career defeat.
Chiasson turned heads with a trio of finishes to begin her UFC tenure, but an upset loss to Lina Lansberg has slowed her momentum. Macy had demonstrated a multi-faceted finishing touch- capable of putting her opponent away with strikes and via sub.
She should be considerably larger than her foe, standing 4-inches taller and competing formerly at 145-pounds while her foe has fought at 125 before.
Shanna Young (7-2-0) is stepping up with less than a week to prepare. She has fought twice under the Invicta banner, winning once and lost her 2019 Contenders bout by round 2 submission.
Young’s gritty and willing to mix it up, but she is defensively vulnerable.
In her Contenders’ defeat, she was eating some big shots on the feet and routinely getting the worst of the grappling exchanges.
Young is tough, but the short notice debut and size/physicality issue present by Chiasson is simply too much for her to overcome. Macy should come out motivated after the first defeat of her pro career. Whether it be on the feet or from top position, Chiasson should be able to pile up the damage until her foe relents- my prediction is Macy Chiasson to defeat Shanna Young by TKO.
125lbs- Mark De La Rosa vs Raulian Paiva
Back to back losses has Texas-born Mark De La Rosa (11-3-0) reeling after a respectable start to his Octagon career. “Bumblebee” offers a grappling heavy-attack, recording 6 wins by submission including 1 in the UFC.
De La Rosa does his best work on the mat, but he capable of holding his own on the feet. He has just a single win by knockout but throws decent short-range punching combinations and effective low kicks.
A common theme in De La Rosa’s defeats have been his inability to take his opponents down.
Mark is the husband of main card competitor Montana De La Rosa.
Similar to his opponent, Brazilian Raulian Paiva (18-3-0) comes into this fight following back to back defeats. An area of concern for Paiva has to be his TDD, as he has given up 4 takedowns in just under 18-minutes of cage time.
He has defended 8 of 12 TDAs in that span.
Paiva is coming off a loss due to a cut against Rogerio Bontorin and a questionable split decision loss to Kai Kara-France. Paiva was previously 12-0 in decisions.
The Brazilian’s girlfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident prior to his UFC debut and he got a couple of tough breaks in the UFC. If De La Rosa can take him down with regularity, he could score a submission or grind out a full 15-minutes. Conversely, Raulian’s TDD has looked good and his ability to scramble out of bad spots will give the American fits. On the feet, the length and striking skills of Paiva will be too much for DLR- my prediction is Raulian Paiva to defeat Mark De La Rosa by decision.
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.
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.