UFC on ESPN 8: Overeem vs Harris | Prelim Predictions

UFC on ESPN 8: Overeem vs Harris | Prelim Predictions
170lbs- Miguel Baeza vs Matt Brown

With retirement not suiting “The Immortal”, a 2019 return for veteran Matt Brown (22-16-0) produced a victory over fellow battle-tested vet Ben Saunders. Brown has now won back to back fights for the first time since his 7-fight winning streak ended in 2014.

Brown carries a brutal pace, punishing his foes in the clinch with elbows and punches. He can do damage at range with his kickboxing, but he is notoriously vulnerable to the body. He has been hurt on multiple occasions with well-placed strikes to his mid-section.

To go along with his 14 knockout wins, he has 6 submission victories. While capable on the mat, he has also proven susceptible to his opponents’ grapplings skills. Brown has suffered double digits submission defeats, most recently at UFC 198 to Demian Maia.

Looking to add to Brown’s growing number of stoppage losses will be the undefeated Miguel Baeza (8-0-0). “Caramel Thunder” has 6 knockouts wins on his record, 4 in the opening frame. He stopped Hector Aldana with a hard low kick in the middle frame of his debut.

Baeza is 11 years younger, but Brown will have a massive experience advantage in both quantity and quality. With the exception of Jake Ellenberger, the last 4 men to beat Brown all have multiple UFC title fights under their belt. Brown should have the advantage in work rate and variety as Baez can be too willing to sit back and can also be a little predictable with his strikes. Unless Baeza can hurt Brown, Matt should be able to overwhelm him with his pace and pressure- my prediction is Matt Brown to defeat Miguel Baeza by TKO.

 icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle

185lbs- Anthony Hernandez vs Kevin Holland

Despite his willingness to step in on short notice and face Marvin Vettori, Kevin Holland (16-5-0) didn’t get the call. Holland’s offer to fight twice in a week could have been an attempt to rebound from a tough submission loss to Brendan Allen.

The loss snapped his 3 fight winning streak. Holland is a capable and confident fighter. He offers a nice variety of strikes and can grapples.

Where Kevin has struggled as been on the mat. He is too willing to fight ot his opponent’s strength, grappling when he should strike and striking when he should grapple.

Anthony Hernandez (7-1-0 1NC) is coming off his 5th submission wins of his career, rebounding from getting tapped out in his debut by Markus Perez. Hernandez’s final pre-UFC win came over the aforementioned Allen on the scorecards.

Back to back middle-round fights have extended Hernandez’s long fight experience as the majority of his bouts have ended in the first frame.

“Fluffy” is very aggressive, throwing hard combinations and pushing forward behind them to clinch. He can get a little overzealous and will eat some big strikes as a result. Perez hurt him with a brutal body kick and Jun Yong Park was also hurting him during the exchanges.

Holland is too willing to go where the fight takes him and his lack of urgency is concerning. The aggressive power punching and grappling attack of Hernandez will create issues if Kevin is allowed Anthony to set the pace. Holland will slow down in the face of Hernandez’s aggression, spending too much time on the defensive- my prediction is Anthony Hernandez to defeat Kevin Holland by decision.

 icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle

145lbs- Giga Chikadze vs Irwin Rivera

Continuing the trend of late notice fight cancellations, Mike Davis was forced to withdraw due to weight cutting issues and in his place Titan FC Bantamweight champion Irwin Rivera (9-4-0) takes his shot on short notice.

“The Beast” is moving up to Featherweight which should make the weight cut more manageable. He went 3-0 in 2019, winning all 3 fights by TKO including a pair of Championship fight stoppages in the 4th round.

While primarily a striker, Irwin has been finished twice by knockout. In recent bouts, his opponents have focussed their attack on takedowns and grappling. Irwin has done a decent job surviving early and rallying once his opponent starts to fade.

Back to back close fights to start his UFC career have tested Giga Chikadze’s (9-2-0) will to win. The Georgian has been a strong starter, relying on his kickboxing background to carry the action early.

All 7 of his pre-UFC wins ended in the opening round and he was 0-2 outside of the first frame during that span. These stats in conjunction with his back to back debatable split decision wins suggest Giga is prone to fading down the stretch.

With a nice variety of kicking techniques, Giga will work up and down his opponent’s body including his self-named “Giga kick” to the liver.

Rivera is making his debut on incredibly short notice and moving up a weight class. He is also fighting a very talented kickboxer that will have a considerable length advantage. That distance will be further magnified by the kicks of Chikadze. Irwin is a bit of a slow starter, but could rally if Giga fades in the second half. That being said, Rivera doesn’t appear to offer the ground game that has troubled Chikadze. Rivera will struggle to work into boxing range, eating kicks at distance from the rangier and more impactful striker- my prediction is Giga Chikadze to defeat Irwin Rivera by TKO.

 icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle

125lbs- Mara Romero Borella vs Cortney Casey

Desperate for a victory, Cortney Casey (8-7-0) makes her 11th walk to the cage. Casey has had less the good luck to say the least- she has gone to the scorecards on 8 times inside the Octagon, winning just twice. She is 1-2 in split decisions.

After fighting at Strawweight, Casey is moving up to 125 pounds for this bout.

Casey has shown she can do little bit of everything inside the cage. She demonstrated her submission skills with a round 1 armbar of Randa Markos. Her improved striking has been showcased as well, throwing with decent volume and some power on multiple occasions.

Over her career, Casey has not faired well in longer bouts. She is 2-7 in after the opening 5-minutes compared to 6-0 inside the first frame.

Mara Romero (12-7-0 2NC) appeared on the cusp of a big win over Lauren Murphy before getting stopped via strikes midway through the final round. She has been finished 4-times by knockout and was dropped in her last fight

Unlike Casey, Borella has found success in close fights, carrying a 3-0 record in split decisions.

The Italian has found some success on the mat, taking down each of her opponents at least once. Her striking volume is not great, often relying on holding top position to grind out the clock or look for a submission.

The American is a bigger Strawweight so the lack of a cut could help her, but she might lose the ability to muscle a larger opponent around. Casey has faced better competition than Borella and fought them close. On the feet, “Cast Iron” should have the edge in volume, and Borella’s durability is a concern. Unless MRB can routinely take her down, she will struggle to commit enough volume to edge her out- my prediction is Cortney Casey to defeat Mara Romero Borella by decision.

 icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle

145lbs- Darren Elkins vs Nate Landwehr

A fairytale run between 2015 and early 2018 saw Darren Elkins (24-8-0) rise into contention, but a loss to the now Champion Alexander Volkanovski was followed by 2 more defeats.

“The Damage” has relied heavily on his durability and grinding offensive pressure. In his last victory, he dropped the opening round against Michael Johnson only to rally in the middle frame for a submission win.

A capable wrestler, Elkins has put up some solid takedown numbers especially during his 6-fight winning streak. Elkins is a decent striker as well, but is far from quick and often absorbs a lot of damage.

In a battle of debutants, Nat Landwehr (13-3-0) got second best against Herbert Burns- falling via first-round knockout. It was the first knockout loss of his career compared to 8 victories by knockout.

Landwehr is an aggressive striker but has just a pair of first-round finishes, instead finishing 6 opponents in the 2nd round or beyond. He often starts slow and rallies in the later stages of his fights.

Against Burns, Nate gave up an early takedown and his aggressive style opens him up to counter level changes by Elkins. If Landwehr can’t stay on the feet, a potential striking advantage becomes a non-factor.

Elkins is facing the potential end of his UFC career with a 4th straight defeat. He is taking a step back in competition compared to his recent opponents and he should come out desperate. Elkins presses a consistent pace and if Landwehr can’t defend the takedowns Darren will pile up the points. Look for Elkins to get off to a strong start and not allowing Nate to find his striking rhythm- my prediction is Darren Elkins to defeat Nate Landwehr by decision.

 icon-circle icon-circle icon-circle

265lbs- Don’Tale Mayes vs Rodrigo Nascimento

The opening fight of the night features 3-time Contender Series competitor Don’Tale Mayes (7-3-0) attempting to jump start his UFC career following a submission loss to the heavily favoured Ciryl Gane.

The UFC sophomore stands a towering 6’6″, 4-inches taller than his opponent and roughly 15-pounds heavier than his foe, but he will have just a single inch reach advantage.

Mayes is improving his physical makeup and he moves well for a big fighter. He struggled with the kickboxing of Gane, but he has power in his hands and will mix in some spinning techniques. His durability was also put on display- taking big shots to the chin and body fron Gane.

Brazil’s Rodrigo Nascimento (7-0-0) has finished all of his opponent, 5 by submission and all but 1 of those 7 finishes came in the first round.

Prior to his Contender’s series win, his 3 opponents were a combined 6-11-1.

In his last fight, Nascimento got the fight to the floor and cut through his guard with relative ease. After some solid positional control and GNP he moved to an arm-triangle choke for the win.

Rodrigo had been out of action for almost 2-years prior to his Contender Series win.

Mayes struggled with the mat game of Gane, a noted striker. He did take a significant amount of damage prior to hitting the floor which clearly softened him up. Nascimento is a talented BJJ player with great finishing instincts. If he can take Don’Tale down, he has a legit chance of ending the fight. The biggest concern for Rodrigo is his lack of long fight experience and poor level of competition. Look for Mayes to use his size and movement to shuck off the takedown attempts of the Brazilian, potentially drag this bout beyond round 1, and do damage on a fading opponent- my prediction is Don’Tale Mayes to defeat Rodrigo Nascimento by TKO.

%d bloggers like this: