UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler | Prelim Predictions

UFC on ESPN 5: Covington vs Lawler | Prelim Predictions

170lbs- Mickey Gall (5-2-0) vs Salim Touahri (10-3-0)

The final fight of the night goes down in the Welterweight division as Mickey Gall faces Poland’s Salim “Grizzly” Touahri. Gall has fought all but 1 of his pro bouts in the UFC and after starting with a trio of wins he has gone 1-2 with losses to Randy Brown and Diego Sanchez. Touahri is winless since coming to the promotion, falling on the scorecards to Warlley Alves and Keita Nakamura.

At 6’2″, Gall is 4-inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Mickey is the younger fighter by 3-years and took this fight with a month to prepare.

Gall’s record is a clear indication of his path to success. All 5 of his pro wins have come by submission, all by RNC, and 4 of 5 inside the first frame. Mickey looks to close the gap, initiate a grappling exchange and work towards his foe’s back. In his 2 UFC defeats, Gall struggled or outright failed to find success with his grappling.

In Gall’s 2 UFC losses, he lost the TD battle 5-0 compared to 4 completions and no takedowns given up in his 4 Octagon victories.

In 30 minutes of UFC action, Touahri has defended 9 of 11 takedowns attempts- he gave up 2 in his debut loss to Warlley Alves. He has recorded 6 wins by knockout in addition to a pair of submission wins- 7 ending in the opening round. The Polish fighter hits hard, throwing mainly wide punches. His vertical output is far from overwhelming which does leave him open to being outworked.

Salim made his debut on short notice before taking a nearly 17-month layoff before fighting again.

This fight most likely comes down to whether or not Gall can take Touahri down and keep him there. Gall’s lack of success beyond the first frame is concerning and while Touahri is far from a lock beyond the first 5 minutes, his style seems better suited to hold up over a full 15-minutes. The much taller Gall will struggle to change levels against Touahri and find himself exposed to his superior and more impactful striking as the fight advances- my prediction is Salim Touahri to defeat Mickey Gall by decision.

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125lbs- #15 Antonina Shevchenko (7-1-0) vs Lucie Pudilova (8-4-0)

Looking to rebound from her first career defeat, Antonia Shevchenko meets the Czech Republic’s Lucie Pudilova in the Flyweight division. Shevchenko earned a victory in her debut, but struggled with the takedowns of Roxanne Modafferi on route to a split decision loss. Pudilova is 2-3 in the UFC, coming off back to back losses to Irene Aldana and Liz Carmouche.

Both fighters are 5’8″ and share a 67″ reach. Lucie is the younger fighter by 10-years. This will be Pudilova’s 2nd UFC fight at 125-pounds.

Shevchenko is a talented striker and coming off a pair of fights where she outlanded her opponents almost 2-1. She does her best work in the clinch, landing hard elbows and knee strikes while controlling the movement of her opponent.

Modafferi upset Antonina on the strength of 5 takedowns and prolonged top control.

In a similar fashion, Pudliova has struggled against ground-oriented fighters. In her loss to Carmouche, she gave up a trio of takedowns and struggled early with Sarah Moras on the feet until the Canadian faded.

Pudliova is an active striker and will stand and trade. Her willingness to absorbed damage is a major concern, especially considering she tends to wear a lot of visible damage in her fights.

Pudilova will look to utilize a constant flow of aggression to put Shevchenko on her back foot for the majority of the fight. Antonina will counter with the more technical arsenal, punishing Pudilova as she wades forward before initiating her own forward offense. It is worth noting that Shevchenko did secure a couple of takedowns in her debut and could look to return to that gameplan during this fight. Shevchenko will land the more impactful offense and secures a takedown or 2- my prediction is Antonina Shevchenko to defeat Lucie Pudilova by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Jordan Espinosa (13-5-0 1NC) vs #14 Matt Schnell (13-4-0)

With the Flyweight division taken off life support for the time being, promotional sophomore Jordan Espinosa and Matt “Danger” Schnell collide looking to further establish themselves as a future contender. Espinosa made a successful debut, besting Eric Shelton by decision for his 5th straight victory. Schnell has won a trio of fights, most recently defeating Louis Smolka by submission in a Bantamweight bout.

Schnell is the taller man by 2 inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Schnell is also the younger fighter by a year.

In his debut, Espinosa utilized a lot of movement- working in and out of range. He does a decent of job working faints to pull out the offense of his foe and keep them guessing defensively. Jordan does have a tendency to hang his hands low, leaving him open if his foe can time him. He has recorded just a pair of knockouts compared to 7 wins by submission.

Espinosa completed just a single takedown in his debut but showcased a more takedown oriented fight in his first Contenders contest.

“Danger” Schnell got off to a rough start to his UFC run with back to back knockout defeats. Since his losses, he has returned to form with an improved striking attack and an opportunistic grappling attack that led to the 8th submission win of his career. He maintains solid pressure when engaging on the feet and recently put up his UFC personal best 71 significant strikes.

Despite a submission heavy-record, Schnell has never completed more than a single takedown in any of his Octagon bouts.

Espinosa looked good in his debut, but he fought an opponent that has traditionally struggled in decisions. Schnell’s more aggressive forward push will put more pressure on Jordan to execute and not just bounce in and out of range. Espinosa has some pop in his strikes, but he lacks the knockout numbers to suggest he can score a finish. Look for Schnell to engage his foe and tax his questionable cardio, pulling away as the fight advances- my prediction is Matt Schnell to defeat Jordan Espinosa by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Lauren Murphy (10-4-0) vs #10 Mara Romero Borella (13-5-0 1NC)

Attempting to make the jump into the top 5, Lauren Murphy battles Italy’s Mara Romero Borella in the Women’s Flyweight division. Murphy is coming off a loss to Sijara Eubanks to fall to 2-4 during her UFC career. Borella is 2-1 inside the Octagon, most recently earning a split decision over Taila Santos.

Borella is the taller fighter by an inch and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Murphy is the older fighter by 2-year and hasn’t fought in nearly 14-months.

The Italian fighter has focussed her attack on the ground, taking each of her opponents down at least once. In her last fight, she survived a near RNC and turn the action in her favour with takedowns and prolonged top control. When she wasn’t able to get the fight to the floor, she spent the majority of it in the clinch with her foe pushed into the cage.

In Borella’s loss to Katlyn Chookagian, she landed 11 more significant and the only takedown of the fight.

Murphy is gritty and willing to grind out a victory by taking the best her opponent has to offer and returning fire. Unfortunately, she has also struggled to distance herself in close fights. She is 3-4 in decisions, including a 1-1 record in split decisions. She has done her best work when she can win the takedown battle and pile up the offense from top position.

While fighting at Bantamweight, Murphy fought and lost to current Flyweight title challenger Liz and the aforementioned top contender Chookagian.

This fight will come down to who finds more success in implementing their ground attack. Borella has been more consistent with her takedowns and Murphy has had issues against opponents that look to take her to the floor. Even if Borella can’t score takedowns, her clinch attack and superior striking volume will give her the edge. Murphy’s track record in decisions is very concerning- my prediction is Mara Romero Borella to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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170lbs- Claudio Silva (13-1-0) vs Cole Williams (11-1-0)

Originally scheduled to square off with Ramazan Emeev, Claudio Silva will now meet promotional newcomer Cole Williams in the Welterweight division. Silva owns a 2014 victory Leon Edwards and returned to his winning ways after a massive layoff with back to back wins over Nordine Taleb and Danny Roberts. Williams has won 9 straight fights dating back to his only career loss coming at the hands of Eric Wisely.

Williams is an inch taller and a year younger than Silva. Williams is replacing Emeev with roughly a week to prepare.

The Brazilian’s approach is relatively simple, close the distance, initiate a grappling exchange, and work towards a submission finish. Despite the straight forward approach of his attack, he has completed 10 takedowns over 4-fights and secured back to back submission.

Silva gutted out a tough performance against Roberts, eventually catching him in a late submission.

Williams has split his 8 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions to go along with a trio of decision wins. His last 3 opponents have a combined 28-41 with a single fighter accounting for 28 defeats. He appears to be a bit of a generalist, capable in most areas with no real standout skill.

In 2013, Willian took part in Bellator’s Fight Master series, winning a trio of bouts before suffering a defeat to Joe Riggs in the semi-finals.

Silva, as per usual, will want this fight to the hit the floor. His cardio isn’t great and his striking is not that strong which will open the door for Williams if he keeps the action vertical and/or can extend the bout into the later stages. Silva has found success against more experienced and capable fighters and once he gets Williams to the floor he will be in over his head. Silva continues to find success with his ground attack- my prediction is Claudio Silva to defeat Cole Williams by submission.

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125lbs- Miranda Granger (4-0-0) vs Hannah Goldy (2-0-0)

The first fight of the night pits the debuting Miranda Granger taking fellow UFC newcomer and Contender’s series graduate Hannah “Queen of Sparta” Goldy. Granger turned pro in 2017 and picked up a pair of wins in each of her first 2 years of competing- she has not fought in 2019. Goldy scored a decision win over Gillian Robertson in her pro debut back in 2016, but didn’t fight again until her 2019 Tuesday Night Contenders Series victory.

Granger will have a large 7″ reach advantage while standing a full 3 inches taller. They are roughly the same age.

Granger’s last 3 opponents are a combined 11-12, with her most 2 recent opponents carry above .500 records. She has never seen the scorecards, earning a trio of first-round submission wins and one early round 2 TKO stoppage.

Hannah doesn’t have quite as much pro-MMA experience. Both of her fights have gone the distance- with her last opponent holding a respectable 6-3 record with all defeats coming against current or former UFC fighters.

This fight will shake out as the typical striker (Goldy) versus grappler (Granger). Both can hold their own in the other area, but will most likely get second best in this contest if forced to compete there.

Granger is a capable grappler but doesn’t have the takedown game to be a consistent threat against Goldy. Hannah’s striking is solid and her TDD has proven difficult to get past for most. Look for Miranda to come out early looking to take her foe down, but once the early TDAs are nullified- Goldy will take over against a foe with limited long fight experience- my prediction is Hannah Goldy to defeat Miranda Granger by decision.