The UFC heavyweight division moves a step closer to naming a solidified number one contender as Derrick Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265.
After a deal with Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones couldn’t be found, the UFC moved to keep the division moving and will see the number two and three ranked heavyweights battle it out in the main event with the winner essentially guaranteeing themselves the next shot at the belt.
In the co-main event Jose Aldo continues his push for bantamweight greatness when he takes on Pedro Munhoz, while the welterweight division looks to create a new contender too as Michael Chiesa takes on Vicente Luque.
We skipped last week’s Hall vs Strickland card, which means we remain on 374/387 correct picks (63.71%) with 165 perfect picks (44.12%).
We’ll look to improve on that now with this 13-fight card and after starting with the early prelims here, we move onto the rest of the prelims here.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6) vs Jessica Penne (13-6) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
An intriguing strawweight fight to open the prelims here as Kowalkiewicz looks to snap a four-fight losing streak against the veteran Penne. KK hasn’t won a fight since a split decision over Felice Herrig in 2018 while Penne earned herself a win last time out against Lupita Godinez back in April.
KK is a good kickboxer with her kicks really excellent, and her takedown defence has improved greatly even in defeat. Penne is a grappler who moves to control her opponent on the ground, pound them out a bit until she can find the submission opportunity.
Penne is on an upwards wave of momentum while KK has flirted with the idea of retirement already and that doesn’t bode well. While KK’s takedown defence has improved, it hasn’t improved enough and Penne will win this via a decision after racking up some top control.
PICK – Jessica Penne via Decision
Alonzo Menifield (10-2) vs Ed Herman (27-14) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A banger at light heavyweight as both guys look to extend their winning run. Menifield lost two fights in a row before bouncing back against Fabio Cherant at UFC 260 with a first-round submission win, while Herman has won three-in-a-row with his most recent win coming via kimura against Mike Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 10.
Menifield is an absolute powerhouse with genuine knockout power who has good wrestling too and showed a new submission game last time out. Herman is a great wrestler himself but his striking leaves plenty to be desired and if he’s going to close the distance to try and claim takedowns he’s putting himself into the danger zone.
Menifield has good cardio but his power means this likely won’t go that far and he should claim an impressive knockout.
PICK – Alonzo Menifield via Knockout, Round 1
Vince Morales (9-5) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Yet another top bantamweight bout on the card as both these fighters look to get back in the win column. Morales has lost his last two, last losing to Chris Gutierrez in May 2020 via leg kicks, while Rodriguez suffered defeat last time out via knockout to Aiemann Zahabi at UFC Vegas 19.
Morales is a good boxer with a very solid right hand, while Rodriguez has shown his ability on the feet but also on the ground too with plenty of skills in the submission realm of fights. Rodriguez has solid kicks and with Morales’ problems with low kicks that could be a serious problem too. That said, Morales’ right hand has the ability to end the night early, especially if Rodriguez makes the same mistakes he did against Zahabi.
Despite that though, Rodriguez has shown in the past that he’s pretty tight defensively and has a very well-rounded game. That gives me confidence that he can avoid the heavy right hand and just mix it up enough to earn a comfortable decision win to get back on the horse.
PICK – Drako Rodriguez via Decision
Bobby Green (27-11-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really fun fight in the lightweight division as the always game Bobby Green takes on striking expert Rafael Fiziev in the featured prelim bout. Green had a great 2020 going 3-1, but lost his last one against Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 12 while Fiziev has won his last three including a highlight reel KO against Renato Carneiro at UFC 256.
Green is a really exciting fighter who is well rounded throughout. He has good striking with excellent volume and some excellent wrestling defence as he showed in his win over Clay Guida. Fiziev on the other hand is a stunning striker, who uses kicks brilliantly but also is a powerful puncher with heavy low kicks. His feints are excellent and he’s so fast that his countering is an easy path to victory in this one.
Green is game and 12 of his last 13 fights, including the last nine in a row, have gone to decision. With that said, I can’t see Fiziev getting ground out on the ground and on the feet it’s a no contest, so I think Fiziev takes the decision.
PICK – Rafael Fiziev via Decision