It’s finally a Leon Edwards fight week! After almost two years away from the cage for several reasons, the Briton returns to the octagon to take on short-notice opponent Belal Muhammad in the main event.
Edwards has been promised a title shot with a big performance and knows that just winning isn’t enough, while Muhammad will be keen to show he does belong in there and isn’t just a late replacement.
Elsewhere on the card former RIZIN champion Manel Kape looks to avenge his disappointing debut with a quick turnaround against Matheus Nicolau in the flyweight division.
Last weekend at UFC 259 we managed to go 10/15 on our predictions with four perfect picks to take our total up to 250/395 (63.29%) with 112 perfect picks (44.8%).
We will look to improve that further with this 13 fight card, split into three starting with the early prelims here.
Matthew Semelsberger (7-2) vs Jason Witt (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A fun scrap to open the card in the welterweight division as both men look to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC. Semelsberger made his debut on short-notice against Carlton Minus back at UFC Vegas 7 and fought his way to a decision win, while Witt lost his debut to Takashi Sato in embarrassing fashion at UFC Vegas 4 before bouncing back with a submission win against Cole Williams at UFC Vegas 12.
Semelsberger is a power striker who looks to put fights away as his four knockout wins show. He has decent takedown defence too, which will come in handy against Witt who looks to take fights to the mat and control position and look for submissions. With Semelsberger’s aggression, he can leave himself open to takedowns by someone as good and willing as Witt. With that said, Witt has been knocked out four times in his career before and against the power of Semelsberger it’s a fair question to ask how his chin will hold up. Overall, I back Witt to be able to get the takedown and control the top position enough drain Semelsberger of his power and take a decision win.
PICK – Jason Witt via Decision
Gloria de Paula (5-2) vs Jinh Yu Frey (9-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A UFC debut in the strawweight division as Gloria de Paula takes on Jinh Yu Frey, coming off two straight losses. De Paula earned her spot with a win on Dana White’s Contender Series back in November, while Frey was submitted via kneebar back in June 2020 by Kay Hansen before being outclassed by Loma Lookboonmee in October.
De Paula is a fantastic Muay Thai striker, who loves to throw combinations and has a considerable size advantage in this fight against Frey, who used to fight at atomweight before joining the UFC. Frey will have to press forward and make in an uncomfortable fight which totally goes against her style or grind out a decision from top position which is unlikely considering De Paula’s improving grappling skills. This fight arguably couldn’t be a worse match up for Frey and she should be dominated by the bigger fighter, in what will likely be the last fight of her UFC career for now.
PICK – Gloria de Paula via Decision
Cortney Casey (9-8) vs JJ Aldrich (8-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A couple of UFC vets in the women’s MMA world match up in the flyweight division here. Casey went 1-1 in 2020, tapping Mara Romero Borella before being tapped herself by Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 3 just a month later. Aldrich has gone 1-2 in her last three, being knocked out by Maycee Barber and losing a decision to Sabina Mazo with a win over Lauren Mueller sandwiched between them.
Both women are strikers by trade but haven’t knocked anyone out in the UFC yet despite lengthy runs with the company, which means we should have an entertaining bout on our hands. Aldrich is the sharper and more crisp striker but Casey is more physical and aggressive which allows her to bite down on her mouthpiece and go toe-to-toe with anyone in the company. The accuracy of Aldrich is likely to mean she lands the more eye-catching shots and that could be the difference between getting a judge’s decision.
PICK – JJ Aldrich via Decision