In a fight that could determine the first title challenger, once the UFC finally crowns a new Champion- Mexico’s Brandon Moreno (16-5-1) takes on Brazilian grappling star Jussier Formiga (23-6-0).
Formiga is quite familiar with title eliminator bouts. He has fought and lost to 5 separate opponents that have gone on to contend for the title in their next contest. He also holds wins over a trio of failed title contenders, including a recent victory over Deiveson Figueiredo.
Similar to other grappling aces on this card, Jussier’s striking as improved and he can more than hold his own on the feet. He dropped Ben Nguyen prior to locking up a submission. Ultimately, his mat game is where he does his best work. Formiga is a nightmare on the mat and lethal if he is able to get to his opponent’s back- 9 wins by RNC.
“The Assassin Baby” has secured a pair of UFC submission of capable grapplers and 10 overall as a pro. He has showcased a strong offensive grappling acumen, but his defensive work has left him open at times.
Moreno is an excellent scrambler, which allows him to work out of some bad positions on the mat. That being said, attempting to scramble with Formiga could prove problematic.
His victory over Kai Kara-France was primarily orchestrated on the feet, with a noticeably improved striking attack. He will want to employ something similar again Formia. Jussier has been knocked out 3 times (50% of his defeats).
There is an avenue to victory for Moreno and with Formiga’s track record of coming up short in big fights, a win for the Brazilian is not a foregone conclusion. Formiga’s gas tank has been hit and miss and if Moreno can push a torrid pace in the opening round, he could take the contest over in rounds 2 and 3. Conversely, Moreno’s inability to stay vertical against Askar Askarov doesn’t bode well against a fighter who is adept and keeping his foe grounded with extreme proficiency. Formiga will do a decent job striking, but look for him to close the gap and drag Moreno to the floor where he will control the majority of the action- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Brandon Moreno by decision.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle115lbs- Randa Markos vs Amanda Ribas
A growing force in the Strawweight division, Amanda Ribas (8-1-0) took a dominant decision over formerly undefeated Mackenzie Dern to improve to 2-0 inside the Octagon. Ribas submitted Emily Whitmire in her debut.
Ribas muted Dern’s ground game with solid TDD and countering with her own throws and strong top position. Against Whitmire, she was dominant on the floor prior to securing her 3rd submission win.
The Brazilian’s striking looked solid against Dern, stepping in with solid power and leaning just out of range with Dern attempted to fire back. She worked in a couple of flashier techniques, but her balance of volume and power was well-paced.
Canada’s Randa Markos (10-7-1) is stepping in on short notice for Paige VanZant. She most recently scored a split decision win over Ashley Yoder and has alternated wins and losses or almost her entire UFC career.
“Quiet Storm” is a dismal 6-6 on the scorecards including a 2-2 record in split decisions. Her only trip to Brazil ended in a majority draw against Marina Rodriguez.
Markos is a capable grappler in her own right and the majority of her wins have come over fights that she could get the better of on the mat. Her striking is solid, but not nearly as diverse as her grappling attack.
Ribas’s win over Dern might be a little inflated as Dern is still pretty green at this level. Markos will pose a solid test for Ribas, but for the most part, Randa might be good enough to hold her own but not get the better of Amanda. Look for Ribas to take Randa down when she wants and cut her up on the feet with a more accurate and impactful striking offense- my prediction is Amanda Ribas to defeat Randa Markos by decision.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle170lbs- Aleksei Kunchenko vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
The 35-year old former M1-Global Welterweight champion Aleksei Kunchenk (20-1-0) is coming off the first loss of his career. The Russian was unable to overcome short notice replacement Gilbert Burns, falling by decision in Argentina.
Kunchenko’s usually reliable striking offense was stunted by the grappling skills of Burns, as he spent large portions of the fight on his back.
With 13 wins by knockout, Kunchenko has power and offers a pretty solid short-range striking attack. His debut fight against Alves ended with a positive result, but the aging Brazilian had a lot of success trading with Aleksei and actually landed more strikes over the first 2 rounds.
In a similar fashion, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos will need to rally after suffering his first loss in 8 fights. After dropping his debut by split decision, dos Santos won 7 in a row before running into Li Jingliang in China.
He is 3-1 fighting at home while in the UFC.
The Brazilian is a dangerous striker, finishing 14 of his 21 wins by knockout. He has had a tendency to get off to a slow start, but he carries his power deep into fights.
His TDD has also been a point of contention, but when he is able to avoid getting put on his back his striking volume benefits significantly.
Had Kuchneko fought Alves in Brazil and not at home in Russia, he might have dropped a decision. Fighting on the road in China, dos Santos didn’t look like himself. That shouldn’t be an issue here. The Brazilian is the more active striker and should have the edge in power. There is also the potential that he mixes in a few takedowns to keep his foe off balance. While dos Santos has talked about being more defensive, his offensive pressure gets it done here- my prediction is Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Aleksei Kunchenko by decision.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle135lbs- Enrique Barzola vs Rani Yahya
The ultra unassuming BJJ ace Rani Yahya (26-10-0 1NC) enters the Octagon on the heels of having his 3-fight winning streak snapped by Ricky Simon. Yahya, the owner of 20 pro submission wins, has lost just twice in his last 9 fights.
Despite making noticeable improvements in his striking, Rani remains a grappling specialist. He effectively closes the distance and drags his foe to the floor and often only needs 1 completion to control the duration of the round on the mat.
Conversely, when his opponent is able to avoid the grappling game of his foe, Rani is at a significant deficiency. Additionally, the Brazilian’s cardio is a weak point of his game and often fails him in the final frame. This often results in him winning the opening 2 rounds and holding on over the final round.
Attempting to avoid the BJJ of Yahya will be Peru’s Enrique Barzola (16-5-1). Barzola put together a similar period of success with 8 wins over 10 fights, but he has since dropped 2 of his last 3 outings.
Stemming from a strong wrestling background, Barzola has built the majority of his MMA success around a volume-based takedown game. He has averaged 6.5 takedowns per victory compared to 0.6 completions per defeat.
Barzola has developed a serviceable striking game which will be at the focal point of his success if he can force Yahya to stay on his feet.
Yahya is fighting at home, but he is also coming off a 13-month layoff. For Barzola, his cut to Bantamweight will allow him to augment his wrestling (offensively and defensively) with an improved physical edge. Yahya needs to score takedowns and top control and he needs to do it early. Barzola has a vastly superior gas tank and striking game which will be his key to success. Look for Rani to come up short in his bid to control his foe on the mat and fade as the fight progresses- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Rani Yahya by decision.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle125lbs- Maryna Moroz vs Mayra Bueno Silva
A successful debut submission win over Gillian Robertson gave way to a 17-month hiatus for Brazil’s Mayra Silva (5-0-0). She spent the majority of the Robertson fight on the defensive, especially when put on her back.
She was able to turn the fight in the final second of the round, snatching her 3rd career win by submission.
The majority of the Brazilian’s wins have come in the opening round. Her only non-first round finish was a 25-minute decision victory in 2017.
Ukraine’s Maryna Moroz (9-3-0) scored an upset win of Sabina Mazo to halt a minor losing streak. It was her 6th straight trips to the scorecards. She had previously finished the first 6 opponents of her career.
Moroz found success against Mazo utilizing a more aggressive striking attack. She had previously struggled to find her range, often coming up short on the majority of her combinations.
After submitting JoJo Calderwood in her debut, Moroz has failed to land more strikes than any of her 6 opponents.
Bueno Silva has been out of action for a while which could be a concern, but it also opens the potential for significant improvements. Moroz looked better in her last fight, but her opponent’s tendency to start slow was a major contributor. With Moroz’s record of close decisions and issues landing volume, fighting in Brazil will not be kind to her on the scorecards. It might not matter if they don’t make it to the scorecards- my prediction is Mayra Bueno Silva to defeat Maryna Moroz by submission.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle125lbs- David Dvorak vs Bruno Silva
The rebuilding of the UFC’s Flyweight division continues as Czech champion David Dvorak (17-3-0) makes his UFC debut. Dvorak has won 13-straight fights including- finishing each opponent. He is 2-2 on the scorecards compared to 8 wins by knockout and 7 victories by submission.
His regional level opposition has been decent with his last 3 opponents combining for a record of 35-18.
As Dvorak’s record indicates, he offers a decent striking repertoire and is willing to hit the mat in pursuit of a finish.
Filling in on short notice, Bruno Silva (10-4-2) moved up to Bantamweight for his debut but returns to his more natural weight class. Silva suffered an early knockdown against Khalid Taha, but lasted into the 3rd frame before getting finished on the mat.
Silva throws a nice variety of spinning attacks and has scored a knockout with a spinning wheel kick. More conventionally, he will target the body with hard kicks and mix in some leg attacks as well.
The TUF Brazilian alumni changed the complexion of the fight with a middle-round takedown and decent top control. He will most likely look for something similar against Dvorak.
Dvorak is getting the call with a month to prep, travelling from Europe, and he hasn’t fought more than 2 rounds in each of his last 14 fights. These scenarios create some uncertainty when taking that step up in competition. Silva struggled with the power-punching of Taha and while Dvorak isn’t as heavy a hitter- he is more active and technically sound than the Brazilian. If Silva can’t take him down, the Czech will get the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is David Dvorak to defeat Bruno Silva by knockout.
icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle135lbs- Veronica Macedo vs Bea Malecki
Snatching victory from defeat, Veronica Macedo (6-3-1) scored a surprising submission win over Polyana Viana. The victory ended a 3-fight losing streak. Macedo has proven herself to be scrappy during her UFC run, but she has also been finished in 2 of her 3 Octagon losses.
Macedo is a Black belt in BJJ and Taekwondo. She has been taken down 8 times over her first 4 UFC fights, including 7 over her trio of defeats.
Despite coming from a striking background, Bea Malecki (3-0-0) utilized her ground skills to secure a submission win in her debut- the 2nd of her career.
During her previous experience with the promotion, the Swede faltered on TUF 28, losing in the opening round to Leah Leatson.
Malecki will have a massive 10″ reach advantage and stand 5-inches taller than her foe. Macedo is fighting at Bantamweight after spending time at 125-pounds.
Macedo has the experience edge in both quality and quantity, but she has been on the losing side of the majority of her time spent inside the Octagon. Regardless of her approach, she will need to overcome some considerable length issues to get into range to strike or grapple. Look for Malecki to continue to show improvements with her MMA game, keeping Macedo on the outside with her range weapons and using her size to stay vertical once they are in close- my prediction is Bea Malecki to defeat Veronica Macedo 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.