The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.
Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.
Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card, starting with the early prelims and prelims here.
Alan Baudot (8-2) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight banger to open the card as Baudot looks for his first UFC win against Nascimento. Baudot lost his debut, getting KO’d by Tom Aspinall at UFC Fight Island 5 while Nascimento won his debut but was knocked out by Chris Daukaus on the same card in 45 seconds.
Baudot is a heavy handed striker but quite slow on his feet, loading his strikes up but when landing taking someone’s head off. Nascimento is a supreme jiu-jitsu player with seven submissions from eight career wins, with superb top pressure and good sweeps from his back too. It’s a weird match up between them, but realistically Nascimento is likely to secure a takedown early and dominate to an early submission win if he can afford getting his head taken off first.
PICK – Rodrigo Nascimento via Submission, Round 1
Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1) vs Malcolm Gordon (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The brother of the former champion in Figueiredo takes on Malcolm ‘X’ Gordon in the flyweight division. Figueiredo won his debut with the company with a win over Jerome Rivera at UFC Fight Island 8, while Gordon went 0-2 in 2020 with first round defeats to Amir Albazi at UFC Fight Island 2 and Su Mudaerji.
Figueiredo fights in a similar way to his brother, just without the x-factor power and submission skills. Gordon on the other hand is a good wrestler with heavy top pressure and tiring his opponent out from above. Figueiredo will almost certainly look to use his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and just piece him up on the feet, while Gordon will try hard to take him down and wear him out.
Unfortuately for Gordon, Figueiredo’s got good power in his left hand and good takedown defence so he should be able to secure the win.
PICK – Francisco Figueiredo via Decision
Miles Johns (11-1) vs Anderson Dos Santos (21-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun bantamweight bout here as Johns and Dos Santos look to make it two wins in a row against each other. Johns was stopped by Mario Bautista before bouncing back with a stoppage win of his own against Kevin Natividad at UFC Vegas 12. Dos Santos lost his first two UFC fights via decision, but finally got a win when he submitted Martin Day.
Johns has a stiff jab that lands very often and always has his wrestling skills to fall back on whenever necessary. Dos Santos on the other hand has good power in his hands but the techniques are limited to hooks mostly, while his submission game on the ground is great and dangerous.
Johns’ wrestling is good enough to control where the fight goes and has the better striking on the feet, so as long as his cardio holds up this should be a good win for him.
PICK – Miles Johns via Decision
Khalid Taha (13-3) vs Sergey Morozov (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger coming up at 135lbs as Taha and Morozov look to bounce back from defeats last time out in the UFC. Taha put on an okay performance against Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 13 but was beaten, while Morozov got beaten up and submitted by Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 8.
Taha is a solid striker with good pressure and volume to his game, while Morozov has excellent grappling skills despite the defeat in his last bout via submission. Both fighters have issues with the other’s strengths and realistically this is a fight that has two outcomes.
Either Taha can avoid the takedowns and batters Morozov on the feet, or Morozov eats a few punches to get the fight to the ground and dominates on the mat. The latter is more likely in my eyes judging by Taha’s previous attempts at defending takedowns, so Morozov gets my pick.
PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
Amanda Lemos (9-1-1) vs Montserrat Ruiz (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun fight in the women’s strawweight division between Lemos and Ruiz, both coming into the bout on win streaks. Lemos has won her last three, beating Mizuki Inoue at UFC Vegas 18 before KO’ing Livinha Souza at UFC 259. Ruiz on the other hand won her debut against Cheyanne Buys with an impressive performance at UFC Vegas 22.
Lemos is one hell of a striker, with great strikes and knees and also some really good takedown defence too. Ruiz is short and aggressive and in her last bout she showed that from the clinch she’s really dangerous with the head and arm throw to wear her opponents down.
Lemos is so powerful and has really good leg kicks to go with it too, so I’d be surprised if Ruiz can cope with this level of fighter right now.
PICK – Amanda Lemos via Knockout, Round 2
Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs Preston Parsons (9-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Featured prelim bout is an interesting welterweight clash between the young Daniel Rodriguez against UFC debutant Parsons. Rodriguez is 2-1 in his most recent fights seeing a decision loss to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 sandwiched between wins over Dwight Grant and Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 22. Parsons is on a four-fight win streak coming into this fight and steps in on short notice.
Rodriguez is a sensational boxer, with fantastic jabs and a powerhouse of a left hand. Parsons is a very heavy wrestler who has excellent submission skills and a violent clinch game too. While Rodriguez has never fought a fighter as heavily reliant on wrestling, he was preparing for Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Rodriguez is by far the best fighter Parsons has ever fought and on short notice it’s surely a hurdle too much to overcome.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2