After the end of an era at UFC Vegas 12 last weekend, the UFC looks on setting up future events with this card.
In the main event, Thiago Santos takes on Glover Teixeira with both fighters hopeful that a win will put them in line to take on Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title in the near future, despite Israel Adesanya being lined up for the next title shot from middleweight.
There are currently scheduled to be 11 fights on this card, with six prelim bouts followed up by a five-fight main card.
Last time out I secured a great round of predictions with 10/11 correct picks, including four perfect picks. Lets see if I can’t improve that this time around, starting with the prelims picks here.
Gustavo Lopez (11-5) vs Anthony Birchak (15-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A short notice fight put together to open the card sees a return to the UFC for Birchak against Lopez, who looks to get the first win of his UFC career. Lopez was completely dominated by Merab Dvalishvili in his debut back in June, while Birchak is on a three fight winning streak with three first-round finishes although he hasn’t fought in over a year. It’s a tough fight to call, with Birchak’s ground game significantly improved from his previous run in the company but with a big break in competition and the short notice influence I think Gomez could get a win here. His kicking game is good and he’s the powerful striker on the outside, so I think he is able to stuff the takedowns and control the fight on the feet for a decision win.
PICK – Gustavo Lopez via Decision
Max Griffin (15-8) vs Ramiz Brahimaj (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Max Griffin is a UFC vet, but one who hasn’t been super successful during his tenure. He is 3-6 in the company and has lost four of his last five fights, including his last two via decision. Brahimaj on the other hand is making his UFC debut finally, after his original debut in June was scrapped following one of his cornermen testing positive for COVID-19. Brahimaj is a stud grappler, with 8 submission wins from 8 career wins but his wrestling is just average. If the fight goes to ground he’s dangerous but Griffin has a big edge on the feet in this one and a three inch reach advantage to boot. Griffin is also a strong wrestler if he needs to take the fight down for top control but with good cardio and a solid game-plan, ‘Pain’ should be able to take a fairly comfortable decision on the feet.
PICK – Max Griffin via Decision
Darren Elkins (25-9) vs Eduardo Garagorri (13-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very strange match-up in this one, as Darren Elkins looks to snap a four-fight losing streak against Uruguayan fighter Eduardo Garagorri. Garagorri won his UFC debut by comfortably out-striking Humberto Bandenay, before being choked out by Ricardo Ramos in November last year. Elkins has lost his last four in a row against some top quality opposition, although his most recent bout against Nate Landwehr. This match up however is perfectly set up for him. ‘The Damage’ usually has a game plan of walking through his opponents attacks to get a takedown and dominate from there. Garagorri showed how much he struggled against strong wrestlers in the Ramos fight and this could go a similar route. Elkins will take some shots to get the takedown but once he’s there, he grinds out a win.
PICK – Darren Elkins via Decision
Alexander Romanov (12-0) vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima (17-7-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Another match up that one paper seems pretty one-sided. Romanov made his debut in September with a stunning demolition of Roque Martinez inside two rounds, while Marcos Rogerio De Lima has alternated wins and losses since December 2014. De Lima has stunning power, but he prefers to fight at light heavyweight but can’t cut anymore. He’s hopeless on the mat, despite a decent jiu-jitsu background and Romanov is going to eat him alive. The Moldovan will trap him against the cage, grab him, literally throw him into the air and just dominate until he gets a stoppage or a submission. It won’t last too long for my money.
PICK – Alexander Romanov via Submission, Round 1
Giga Chikadze (11-2) vs Jamey Simmons (7-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Yet another mismatch on the UFC card as the highly impressive Chikadze takes on debutant Jamey Simmons. The Georgian fighter outclassed Omar Morales last month to make it six wins in a row, while Simmons has been thrown to the lion’s den in a three-fight win streak. Simmons has decent wrestling skills but his stand-up isn’t great and he’s coming up against a truly top class kickboxer. Chikadze has good counter wrestling these days too so that’s Simmons’ only path to victory firmly shut off. ‘Ninja’ Chikadze will use his huge striking and height/reach advantage and get his first stoppage victory in the UFC.
PICK – Giga Chikadze via Knockout, Round 1
Trevin Giles (12-2) vs Bevon Lewis (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A clash between two perennial underachievers in the UFC as both Giles and Lewis look to make it back-to-back wins. It’s an uninspiring match up in all honesty, but Giles is the more complete and well rounded fighter. Lewis is a striker who’s output is very low and he has zero takedown threat, although his takedown defence is at 100% so far in the UFC. Giles has shown a wider skillset during his tenure and despite the reach disadvantage, I think his experience will come into effect and he should be able to to just out-grind Lewis for a decision.
PICK – Trevin Giles via Decision