The flyweights take over the UFC Apex on Saturday night as both Deiveson Figueiredo and Valentina Shevchenko defend their 125lbs titles at UFC 255.
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Alex Perez looks to become the first contestant from the show to wear UFC gold, but Figueiredo will be looking to begin his reign of terror on the division. Shevchenko on the other hand is looking for a fourth consecutive title defence when she takes on Jennifer Maia in the co-main event, with her legacy as the greatest female 125lber ever on the line too.
A twelve fight card looks full of fun fights and prospects too, with seven prelims fights preceding a stacked main card.
Last week was a poor outing for our predictions, as we got just 5/9 correct picks with four perfect picks. It takes our overall pick numbers to 168/252 (66.67%) with 78 perfect picks (46%) since starting up our predictions back in June 2020.
Lets see if we can improve those numbers with this big card, starting with the prelims here.
Louis Cosce (7-0) vs Sasha Palatnikov (5-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An absolute powerhouse in the welterweight division in Louis Cosce makes his UFC debut after a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in August. He’ll take on Hong Kong’s first UFC fighter in Sasha Palatnikov, who makes his company debut also. Cosce has won four of his last five fights in 79 seconds or less and it’s hard to see this one going any way other than a quick knockout win. Palatnikov is a good wrestler with decent kicks but Cosce is arguably the better wrestler and has a big edge in power and technique on the feet. It may not be as quick, but my money is on it happening in the first round.
PICK – Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 1
Kyle Daukaus (9-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Kyle Daukaus makes a second appearance in the UFC following his short-notice defeat to Brendan Allen back in June, when he takes on debutant Dustin Stoltzfus. Both men are grappling experts with Daukaus claiming eight of his nine wins via submission, while Stoltzfus has five submissions of his own. On the feet, Daukaus has a slight boxing edge while Stoltzfus has the power advantage but this bout will almost certainly take place on the ground where I believe Daukaus takes the cake. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu and his takedowns are good enough to present him with the top position. Stoltzfus loves a guillotine choke which will often see him on his back and Daukaus should be able to move through the positions to secure a choke win for himself.
PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Submission, Round 2
Alan Jouban (16-7) vs Jared Gooden (17-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A super even bout between two experienced welterweights as Alan Jouban takes on Jared Gooden at 170lbs. Jouban has lost three of his last four and makes his return to the octagon for the first time since his defeat to Dwight Grant in April 2019. Gooden on the other hand makes his UFC debut on the back of three straight wins, including a TKO stoppage win back in July. Both guys are incredibly well rounded and open themselves up to a brawl, which will suit Jouban that little bit more. He’s got a slight edge everywhere for me, but Gooden has the youth factor and is a bit more explosive. ‘Nite Train’ is a good offensive wrestler, but defensively he struggles. Jouban is very capable of getting back to his feet if he gets taken down and he has the power to end the fight on the feet. Ultimately I think it goes the distance but don’t be shocked if someone gets put to sleep.
PICK – Alan Jouban via Decision
Nicolas Dalby (18-4-1 1NC) vs Daniel Rodriguez (13-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A potential barn burner in the welterweight division as Daniel Rodriguez steps in on short notice looking to go 4-0 during 2020 to take on UFC veteran Nicolas Dalby. Rodriguez was supposed to fight Ryan Barbarena last week but after that fight fell through, he now comes in to replace Orion Cosce on a week’s notice. He currently sits on a nine-fight win streak including a KO win over Dwight Grant in August, while Dalby was beaten last time out after getting submitted by Jesse Ronson on Fight Island. Rodriguez has great power and Dalby has a habit of starting slowly, despite his obviously great skillset. If Dalby can avoid that, he has the technical edge in most places but I think Rodriguez could get it done early.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1
Antonina Shevchenko (8-2) vs Ariane Lipski (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
There’s another Shevchenko family member on this card and it’s the older sister of the champion, as Antonina looks to bounce back from two losses in her last three against up and comer Ariane Lipski. ‘Pantera’ saw the unbeaten start to her career ended by Roxanne Modafferi in April 2019, before bouncing back with a win over Lucie Pudilova. She went back into the loss column in May of this year, being dominated by Katlyn Chookagian. Lipski is on a two-fight win streak including a win last time out against Luana Carolina on Fight Island. It’s a true striker bout, with both women awful at defending takedowns and more comfortable on their feet. It should be a banger but I think Lipski has the power advantage and better footwork to be able to continue her winning run.
PICK – Ariane Lipski via Decision
Joaquin Buckley (11-3) vs Jordan Wright (11-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The human highlight reel Joaquin Buckley returns following his incredible knockout win over Impa Kasanganay back in October. He takes on Jordan Wright, who looks to make it 2-0 in the UFC and maintain an unbeaten record in his career. Buckley is an absolutely powerhouse with excellent striking techniques and a great chin, while Wright is also a fine striker in his own right. Both guys possess fantastic power but Wright struggles when it comes to fighting off the back foot. Buckley is happy to take a shot on his way in and once he’s in the pocket he is violent and it won’t be long until he turns Wright’s lights out.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1
Brandon Moreno (17-5-1) vs Brandon Royval (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
One of the best fights on the card for me as we could be potentially looking at the next contender for the title. Brandon Moreno has won his last two fights, outclassing Kai-Kara France and Jussier Formiga following a draw to Askar Askarov. Royval entered the UFC in May and has taken it by storm, beating Kai-Kara France and Tim Elliot using his aggressive submission skills. Both of these guys thrive in chaos with scrambles from takedowns while also holding their own on the feet which makes this arguably the most even fight on the card. Moreno has the edge in power and has performed well in scrambles before in previous fights but Royval’s unbelievable work-rate is something he hasn’t come up against before. Royval is so slick on the ground and so aggressive that it’s hard to see him letting the opportunity slide if he gets into a dominant position on the ground and I think he goes into 2021 as the next big thing in the flyweight division.
PICK – Brandon Royval via Decision