The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.
Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.
It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go. I’ve already predicted the early prelims of the card here and predicted the prelims of the card here.
Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.
Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs Illia Topuria (8-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Youssef Zalal makes his fourth appearance of 2020 and looks to go 4-0 against the undefeated debutant in Illia Topuria. Zalal is a great kickboxer and show his well-rounded skills in his wins over Austin Lingo, Jordan Griffin and Peter Barrett. Topuria on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who is all about the choke as his record shows. Seven wins from his eight have come via submission showing that if the fight goes to the ground he is in his element. His trouble will be that Zalal has proven he manages distance so well so far throughout his UFC career and his striking is on another level to that of Topuria. He hasn’t got the knockout power to end the fight with one punch which will give the Spaniard hope but overall I think Zalal keeps the fight standing to outscore his opponent with the judges.
PICK – Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision
Alan Baudot (8-1) vs Tom Aspinall (8-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A big heavyweight clash between two up and comers in the UFC as debutant Alan Baudot takes on the UK’s Tom Aspinall looking for his second win in a row. Aspinall fought back in July on Fight Island and knocked out Jake Collier in just 45 seconds. He is an ex-professional boxer with crazy power in his hands and big things are expected of him in the UFC. Alan Baudot is making the step up to heavyweight for this one, with his entire career prior to this taking place at 205lbs. Neither man have ever seen the judges scorecards in a fight and I think it’s safe to say that continues here. Baudot is a fast and accurate striker but defensively he’s questionable. Against guys his own size he can get away with it but in the UFC against a striker as lethal as Aspinall, it only goes one way.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1
Markus Perez (12-3) vs Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An clash between a veteran and a true blue-chip prospect at middleweight as Markus Perez looks to bounce back from a defeat in his last outing against short-notice step in Dricus Du Plessis. Perez is an explosive striker on the feet but also a very ample technician on the mat, as his six submission wins show. Du Plessis though is one of the best middleweights outside of the UFC prior to this fight and has held the KSW middleweight title. The South African is aggressive, athletic and capable wherever the fight may go. More to the point, he is a finisher. He’s never seen the judges scorecards in a fight before and is always a threat. Neither fighter has fought this year but I think Du Plessis has a big chance to make a name for himself here. He has the power, the athleticism and the fight IQ to cause Perez problems and potentially even score the finish.
PICK – Dricus Du Plessis via Submission, Round 2
Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs Marcin Tybura (19-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The big boys are back in action on Fight Island as two UFC veterans face off in the heavyweight division. Rothwell is coming off two wins in a row, knocking out Stefan Struve before taking a decision win over Ovince St. Preux in May. Marcin Tybura is also coming off back-to-back wins, beating both Sergey Spivak and Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision. Rothwell is 50 fights and 21 years deep into his career at this point so we know what to expect. He is a powerful puncher with deceptively fast hands and has a great choke game, while Tybura is a fighter who looks to take his opponent down and grind out wins from top position. Rothwell is the bigger puncher in this fight and if Tybura mistimes a takedown, Rothwell is more than capable of taking his neck and wrapping this fight up quickly.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 2
Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) vs Edson Barboza (20-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This will be one hell of a fight. ‘Mr. Finland’ has won four of his last six fights including his last bout against Danny Henry back in July, while somehow Edson Barboza has lost five of his last six. That includes his move down to featherweight, where he lost a razor close decision to Dan Ige last time out. Amirkhani is a submission specialist, with 11 of his career wins coming via tap-out. Barboza on the other hand is one of the best strikers the sport has ever seen. If you’re in any way a fan of MMA, you’ve probably seen his spinning wheel kick knockout win over Terry Etim. His wrestling defence is sublime but in recent fights he’s been overpowered. The Paul Felder fight could have gone either way as could the Dan Ige fight, so the record looks much worse than it actually is. This will be Amirkhani’s toughest test yet, and on short notice, is a big ask. Barboza knocked out Beneil Dariush in 2017 who has a similar submission heavy style, so with short notice and power on his side, I think Barboza gets back in the win column in this fight.
PICK – Edson Barboza via Knockout, Round 2
Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs Cory Sandhagen (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The main event is one of the best match-ups in the bantamweight division and could have title implications. Marlon Moraes was in title contention and even took on Henry Cejudo for the vacant title after TJ Dillashsaw vacated, and dominated the opening round. He gassed out after the first round though looking for a finish and Cejudo turned it around and got the knockout win himself. He then took on Jose Aldo and while many believed he lost the fight, the judges gave him the win. Cory Sandhagen was on the title hunt too before his fight with Aljamain Sterling went as badly as possible when he was choked unconscious back in June at UFC 250 in under 90 seconds. He is a stud wrestler with good hands and submission skills and will be looking to get back into the win column. Moraes is a Muay Thai black belt who loves to throw leg kicks, head kicks and can switch stances. It’s a tough fight in general because Sandhagen definitely has the advantage on the ground, but he has to get it there. Moraes has a good wrestling defence and the experience of a five round fight. While he struggled with the pace agains Cejudo and Aldo, if he can iron that out I expect him to get the win here.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 3