The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.
After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.
Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that with our main card picks, having predicted the prelims already.
Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) vs Cody Stamann (19-3-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A wrestler’s paradise in the bantamweight divsion as Merab looks to make it six wins in a row while Stamann looks to return to the win column. Merab beat Brad Katona and Casey Kenney before Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 2 and John Dodson at UFC 252 in his last four, all via unanimous decision as he secured the record for most takedowns in division history. Stamann beat Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 before getting well beaten by Jimmie Rivera on Fight Island 1 just a month later.
Both guys will without a doubt look for takedowns and top control, but the big difference between the two is that Merab’s gas tank is absolutely ridiculous and he marches his opponents down. Stamann is happy to use strikes to set his takedowns up and it seems unlikely that will work in this fight. Merab is so physically strong and literally doesn’t stop for the entire 15 minutes.
Work as usual for Merab in this one as he overpowers Stamann and gets the fight to the ground and works ground and pound for another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision
Sean Strickland (22-3) vs Krzysztof Jotko (22-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A contender for fight of the night in the middleweight division as these two powerhouses go toe to toe. Strickland came back from a two-year lay-off to beat Jack Marshmann at UFC Vegas 12 before knocking out Brendan Allen just two weeks later at UFC Vegas 14. Jotko has won three in a row too, beating Eryk Anders last time out in May 2020 by unanimous decision.
Both guys are really fun strikers to watch, which should make this a great fight. Strickland is a really good boxer with good knockout power and great combinations, while his volume and gas tank make him a nightmare for everyone in the division. Jotko is a clean, technical striker himself but he doesn’t have that power to go with it although his kicks are better than Strickland’s.
While both guys are strikers, Strickland’s striking style should really suffocate Jotko’s counter heavy style and while I don’t think he gets the finish I do think he gets a comfortable decision.
PICK – Sean Strickland via Decision
Ion Cutelaba (15-6) vs Dustin Jacoby (14-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An absolute barn burner coming up in the light heavyweight division as two very heavy-hitting 205lbers go head-to-head. Cutelaba suffered back-to-back defeats to Magomed Ankalaev, the first rather controversially before a decisive ending to their fight at UFC 254. Jacoby is on a four-fight win streak, including 2-0 in the UFC with a knockout over Justin Ledet at UFC Vegas 12 before a controversial decision win over Maxim Grishin at UFC Vegas 20 in February this year.
Cutelaba has never had a boring fight in his life, as he walks forward with heavy hands looking to take someone’s head off but he also has good grappling skills too. Jacoby is a skilled kickboxer with good power and a much more measured approach but his grappling game isn’t the best.
Cutelaba will use his physicality and overwhelm Jacoby early on and he hits hard enough to potentially get a finish in the first five too.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1
Giga Chikadze (12-2) vs Cub Swanson (27-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A really, really good fight in the featherweight division as Giga Chikadze gets his shot at a ranked opponent when he takes on Cub Swanson in the co-main event. Chikadze has won seven-in-a-row building up to this fight, including a decision win over Omar Morales and a knockout win over short-notice fighter Jamey Simmons at UFC Vegas 13. Swanson has won his last two, defeating Kron Gracie by decision before knocking out Daniel Pineda at UFC 256 in a highly impressive performance.
Chikadze is a brilliant kickboxer with brilliant kicks and cross punches, but his volume is always a bit on the low side for what it should be for a man of his talent. Swanson is a talented striker with great boxing skills, but he’s also an elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Chikadze will likely take note from the Pineda fight and fire a lot of leg kicks Swanson’s way, while also using his great speed to get in and out. That said, Swanson will never let him rest. He will push the pace, come forward and look to eventually get the fight down to the ground if he can.
Swanson is a really good fighter and has surprised me in the past, but I think Chikadze should be able to use his kicks well and stay at range enough to outland him and get the decision win in a really entertaining fight.
PICK – Giga Chikadze via Decision
Dominick Reyes (12-2) vs Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A huge scrap at the top of the card as Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon to take on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division. Reyes was unbeaten before losing controversially to Jon Jones in February 2020, before being knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 in a fight for the vacant title. Prochazka on the other hand is a hugely underrated fighter coming into this fight on an 11-fight win streak with ten of those by knockout, including his UFC debut against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251.
Reyes is a specimen of an athlete who has tremendous boxing skills and a lethal left hand, while he also has some good leg kicks and a nice body kick too. Prochazka is a wildly unorthodox striker who often walks his opponent down his hands down, but 24 knockouts in 27 career victories tells you just how hard he hits. Reyes’s skillset is fairly limited and Blachowicz showed in his last fight just how to shut him down completely.
Prochazka is just ridiculously powerful and his head movement is great. His aggression could land him in trouble if Reyes lands that straight left, but Prochazka will almost certainly be prepared for it and after being knocked out violently last time out I think Reyes goes to sleep again.
PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 3