Bantamweights lead the way at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend when Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt go toe to toe in the main event.
The number three and four ranked 135lbers in the world will battle it out to give UFC president Dana White a headache when it comes to the top of the division right now, as ‘No Love’ looks to prove he really is back while Font looks to prove he’s a real contender among the elite.
Elsewhere on the card Yan Xiaonan takes on Carla Esparza in the co-main event to potentially determine the next contender for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title, while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan meet in their delayed middleweight scrap too.
Last week at UFC 262 we didn’t have the best of nights prediction wise, going 6/12 with two perfect picks to move up to 314/494 (63.56%) with 136 perfect picks (43.31%).
We’ll look to improve that here with this 13-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
Rafael Alves (19-9) vs Damir Ismagulov (19-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight bout to open the card up as Alves makes his debut to take on Russian Ismagulov. Alves got the call to come into the UFC after winning on the Contender Series, but then missed weight by a crazy 11.5lbs for his debut a few months ago after he got some tragic personal news. Ismagulov is on a 14-fight win streak, including his three UFC fights – the last one coming in August 2019.
Alves is a very tricky, unorthodox striker with good submission offence too splitting his 14 finishes equally via knockout or tap out. Ismagulov is a very well-rounded fighter, with excellent grappling skills on the mat to go with some steady fundamentals on the feet too. While Alves is explosive and powerful himself, Ismagulov just tends to dominate his opponents and we’ve not seen him have to come out of second gear for the most part.
Overall, this fight is set up for a good welcome back for Ismagulov. He’s better technically across the board and while Alves has the power advantage to potentially land a game changing shot out of nowhere, Ismagulov should be able to out class him for a wide decision.
PICK – Damir Ismagulov via Decision
Yancy Medeiros (15-7) vs Damir Hadzovic (13-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Likely a ‘loser leaves UFC’ bout at 155lbs here as former fan favourite Yancy Medeiros takes on Damir Hadzovic with both men on losing streaks. Medeiros has lost his last three in a row to Donald Cerrone, Gregor Gillespie and Lando Vannata, while Hadzovic has lost two in a row to Christos Giagos and Renato Moicano.
Medeiros’ record recently doesn’t look great, but he’s lost to only very capable fighters. He’s a great, technical striker with power in his hands and feet and has good wrestling to back himself too unless he’s coming up against someone as elite as Gillespie. Hadzovic isn’t elite at anything, and will look to step in and have a straight up fire-fight in the octagon.
If that’s the case, Medeiros should fancy his chances. Hadzovic has been finished twice in his last two and while he has decent power himself, I think Medeiros still has the tools to use his big reach advantage for a decision.
PICK – Yancy Medeiros via Decision
Josh Culibao (8-1-1) vs Sha Yilan (17-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight bout between the hot prospect Culibao against UFC debutant Sha Yilan. Culibao entered the UFC at 8-0, but was beaten by Jalin Turner in his debut before a split draw against Charles Jourdain last time out. Yilan has won seven of his last eight fights with six finishes including his last two in a row.
Culibao has fantastic power in his hands and prefers to stand and strike with his opponents, knocking out five of his opponents. He uses his jab well and has a great uppercut too, which is something the wrestling heavy Yilan must watch out for. Yilan will wrestle the entire fight, looking for takedown after takedown to control position and land some big ground and pound. On the feet though, Yilan is like a fish out of water.
If Culibao is able to prevent the takedown, it’s his fight to lose and I expect he’ll be able to get the finish on the feet too.
PICK – Josh Culibao via Knockout, Round 2