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. I’ve already predicted the prelims here, so we move on with the main card now.
Mauricio Rua (27-11-1) vs Paul Craig (13-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
The rematch nobody wanted or needed to see, but it’s happening. These two met back in November 2019 and fought to a draw. Since then Craig has submitted Gadzhimurad Antigulov on Fight Island in July, while ‘Shogun’ got a win over Antonio Nogueira on the same card. Craig will almost certainly look to get this fight to the ground, with 12 submissions wins from 13 career victories. ‘Shogun’ Rua is a black belt in jiu-jitsu but he isn’t active off his back and prefers to just crack jaws if he can help it. It’s a tough one to call considering how the first fight went but I think Craig can get it done this time. He dominated the first round in that fight and if he can do it again this time, I think he gets the finish.
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 1
Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A good fight between two top contenders in the women’s flyweight division. Chookagian fought for the title and was beaten to a pulp before bouncing back with a win over her sister, Antonina Shevchenko. Last month though, she was beaten thanks to a nasty body shot by Jessica Andrade as she looked to climb back up the rankings. Calvillo made her debut in the division back in June with a big win over then ranked #1 Jessica Eye. Chookagian is a kickboxer by trade, who can clinch if she needs to as she showed against Andrade. She’s going to need her grappling skills in this one as Calvillo will look to get the fight to the ground and dominate with her excellent top game and chokes. Chookagian will look to use her kicks to stop Calvillo getting into range but she is capable of boxing her way into that range to get the clinch and takedown. It will be close with not many highlights but I think Calvillo takes the decision.
PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision
Mike Perry (14-6) vs Tim Means (30-12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
This was supposed to be a wild battle between Mike Perry and Robbie Lawler, but when ‘Ruthless’ dropped out it fell to the veteran Tim Means to step up to the plate. Perry won his last bout with a dominant decision over Mickey Gall in June while Means got a decision win over Laureano Staropoli in August. Perry is essentially a street fighter, with looping hooks and big kicks his main forté. Means is primarily a Muay-Thai fighter who throws nice combinations, including elbows and knees. His issue is that he is very open to having his lights turned out with one punch, and Perry has the power to do that. He’s also got a fantastic chin, but has a four inch reach disadvantage. I think it goes the distance and it could honestly go either way, but I’m going with my gut with Means.
PICK – Tim Means via Decision
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
This is the lock of the night. Shevchenko is the greatest female flyweight fighter of all time and has a complete skillset when it comes to mixed martial arts. Her expert kickboxing technique keeps her at range from her opponents, while her wrestling skills mean she can mix it up whenever she needs too. Maia is a jiu-jitsu fiend, who got a big win in her last outing against Joanne Calderwood back in August to get this bout with a first round submission win. For her to get a win here, she needs a takedown into a dominant position then enough time to sink something in. The chances of that are incredibly slim though and I think Shevchenko beats her up on the feet for a couple of rounds before landing one of her trademark head kicks to end it early.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3
Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs Alex Perez (24-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The most powerful striker in the division’s history, Figueiredo will be throwing bombs early in this one. Alex Perez is a very impressive grappler with fantastic cardio and submission skills, winning his last three in row including his last bout against Jussier Formiga in June. His only loss in the UFC came against Joseph Benavidez, when he was KO’d back in November 2018. His style is eerily similar to that of Benavidez, which doesn’t bode well against Figueiredo. Figueiredo destroyed Benavidez in both of his last bouts. ‘God of War’ is a vicious striker who is also very good on the ground himself. The power is scary enough but Perez’s way out is blocked by the fact he’s matched on the ground too. Perez’s best chance of a win is if Figueiredo makes a mistake which I don’t see happening. Figueiredo lands a huge hook or two and ends this one early and violently.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 1