The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.
The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.
In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.
Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.
With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims now.
Patrick Sabatini (13-3) vs Tristan Connelly (14-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A UFC debut for the submission specialist Patrick Sabatini as he takes on former lightweight Tristan Connelly in the featherweight division. Sabatini has won five of his last six, evenly split 2-2-2 with KO’s, submissions and decisions. Connelly won his last bout at WELTERWEIGHT against Michel Pereira way back in 2019 in his UFC debut.
Sabatini is a brilliant chain wrestler and has a deep submission bag, with seven rear-naked choke wins from nine tap-out wins. Connelly is a wrestler too, who looks to get top position and land some nice ground and pound to grind out wins. A big issue for Connelly is that not only is he coming off a neck injury, but he’s 35 and cutting to 145lbs for the first time in six years.
Sabatini has him beat where he’s strongest and is as good where they’re both weaker so I expect the younger man to get him down, eventually take his back and earn another rear-naked choke submission win.
PICK -Pat Sabatini via Submission, Round 1
Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Brendan Allen (15-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An intriguing clash of styles in the middleweight division as both men look to bounce back from defeats last time out. Roberson was smashed by Marvin Vettori in a grudge match between the two at UFC Vegas 2, while Allen got knocked out by Sean Strickland in a catchweight fight at UFC Vegas 14.
Roberson is a striker by nature with good kickboxing skills, while Allen is a ground specialist who has a nasty submission game to go with his heavy hands. Roberson is a rangy fighter who isn’t afraid to throw kicks and if he does that here, Allen will be grinning from ear-to-ear as he’ll catch it and chuck him to the mat. Roberson does have decent offensive wrestling, but his defence is poor and Allen is more than capable of holding his own on the feet until an opportunity arises to take him down himself.
Because of those reasons, it’s hard to see this fight going any other way than Allen securing a dominant submission win.
PICK – Brendan Allen via Submission, Round 1
Dwight Grant (10-3) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A fun welterweight fight here between ‘The Body Snatcher’ and a returning Sekulic. Grant is 2-2 in the UFC, getting knocked out in his last bout against Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 7 while Sekulic lost his UFC debut to Ramazan Emeev in 2018 and then tested positive for steroids and was banned for two years.
Grant has incredible power in his hands and has scary knockout power, but he rarely throws strikes other than one at a time. That’s a big problem because it allows opponents to get their own attacks together and cause his issues. Not to mention the fact that Grant seemed to blow his load in last fight against Rodriguez, which is a concern. Sekulic is a good wrestler on his own accord and is very good at grinding away from top position on opponents.
Grant has cracking hands and has shown in the past that he’s able to get up off his back if he does get taken down, so as long as he doesn’t sit on his hands he should get the win here.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Randy Brown (12-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The veteran ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira finally takes on Randy Brown in the welterweight division in the featured prelim bout of the card. Oliveira has lost three of his last five, beating Peter Sobotta at UFC Fight Island 3 before being submitted by Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 254 after missing weight. Brown’s most recent defeats have come against the excellent Belal Muhammad, Niko Price and then most recently by knockout to Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 5.
Oliveira is a super well-rounded fighter who is entering the twilight of his career now. He has great boxing and good power, but is also excellent on the ground and has good evasive footwork. Brown is a potential contender at 170lbs, with great power in his strikes and really good wrestling too. He is powerful and has great cardio too, but has shown skills off his back with a submission of Warlley Alves and with where they both are currently it’s hard to see him not taking over the longer this fight goes.
Brown has the striking edge on the feet, the clear advantage in the cardio department and is competent enough in the grappling to hold his own, so I think he dominates to a decision win.
PICK – Randy Brown via Decision