The UFC returns to the Apex this weekend with some giant European heavyweights headlining the card as Ciryl Gane takes on Alexander Volkov with a potential title shot looming for the winner.
A make-believe European title will be on the line as the two top five heavyweights clash, coming into the fight off the back of win streaks over top contenders too.
Elsewhere on the card in the co-main event, Ovince Saint-Preux moves up to heavyweight to take on short-notice opponent Tanner Boser while Raoni Barcelos gets back in the octagon to take on Timur Valiev in an absolute banger at bantamweight.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 29, we went 8/12 on the night with four perfect picks to go up to 346/542 (63.84%) with 155 perfect picks (44.8%).
We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card, starting off with the early prelims here.
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
Charles Rosa (13-5) vs Justin Jaynes 16-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An interesting featherweight bout in this one as ‘Boston Strong’ takes on ‘The Guitar Hero’ Justin Jaynes. Rosa has alternated losses and wins since his UFC debut in 2014, including a defeat to Darrick Minner at UFC Vegas 19 while Jaynes has lost three-in-a-row – getting submitted by Gavin Tucker at UFC Vegas 6, before stoppage defeats to Gabriel Benitez at UFC Vegas 16 and Devonte Smith at UFC Vegas 18.
Rosa is a great grappler with an active guard off his guard, while Jaynes is a good wrestler who has fallen in love with his hands in recent fights after his knockout win over Frank Camacho back at UFC Vegas 2. Rosa is far too happy to accept his guard position and especially against someone who overpowers him, but Jaynes seems unlikely to use his wrestling any more now that he’s moving down to 145lbs.
Rosa has the technique edge and a great chin and the longer the fight goes, he will have the advantage so I think stylistically he’ll claim another yo-yo win for his record.
PICK – Charles Rosa via Decision
Julia Avila (8-2) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two women looking to get back into the win column in the women’s bantamweight division as ‘Raging Panda’ Julia Avila takes on former Invicta fighter Julija Stoliarenko. Avila started her UFC career with two wins against Pannie Kianzad and Gina Mazany in just 22 seconds, before losing to Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 10. Stoliarenko was on a five fight win streak coming into her debut against Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 5, but lost a decision.
Avila is a wonderful stand-up fighter, who has good power in her hands and good takedown defence. With that said, Stoliarenko has a fantastic ground game which includes eight armbar submission wins in her career. If Stoliarenko is able to get the fight down to the ground then it’s highly unlikely the fight sees an end, despite Avila’s skills. While the fight is standing, Avila has the advantage and I think he’s overall skillset will help her to avoid the takedowns and outland Stoliarenko on the feet – but she will be a threat for the entire three rounds.
PICK – Julia Avila via Decision