The UFC returns after a two week break with two middleweights battling to get back into contention at the top of the rankings as Jared Cannonier takes on Kelvin Gastelum.
Originally supposed to be Paulo Costa, Gastelum stepped in to take over this bout and knows that a win for him can get him back in the conversation for a future title shot while Cannonier knows he’s just two big wins away from a title shot in all likelihood.
In a 12 fight card, it’s a card with a few sleeper fights and a killer main event so lets see how we do with our picks.
Last time out at UFC 265 we went 9/13 with four perfect picks to move to 383/600 (63.83%) with 169 perfect picks (44.13%). We’ll look to improve that here, starting with the early prelims.
Sasha Palatnikov (6-3) vs Ramiz Brahimaj (8-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A great start to the card as two very fun welterweights go head-to-head. Palatnikov was beaten in his last fight, getting submitted by Impa Kasanganay at UFC Vegas 23 while Brahimaj got stopped by Max Griffin after some nasty ear damage at UFC Vegas 13.
Palatnikov has some great top control and usually chooses to fight on the feet, using his decent length and takedown threats to his advantage. Brahimaj on the other hand is a great striker with deadly submission skills – all eight of his professional wins have come via tap out. On the ground it’s a no contest between the two with Brahimaj having the advantage, but on the feet it’s much more of a 50/50 call.
Brahimaj has got some fast hands and will be able to keep Palatnikov away on the feet, but if you can get submitted by Kasanganay then you don’t stand much chance in the grappling with Brahimaj.
PICK – Ramiz Brahimaj via Submission, Round 1
Roosevelt Roberts (10-2) vs Ignacio Bahamondes (11-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fun lightweight fight between two up and coming fighters next. Roberts was submitted by Jim Miller in his at UFC Vegas 3, before a submission defeat to Kevin Croom at UFC Vegas 10 was overturned to a no contest. Bahamondes was beaten in his UFC debut, losing a split decision to John Makdessi at UFC Vegas 23.
Roberts is a powerful striker who likes to trade in the pocket and has good finishing instincts with his hands and submissions, while Bahamondes is a true mixed martial artist with a wide variety of strikes in his arsenal. Bahamondes is 6ft 3 and uses that range advantage really well, but he is also good in the clinch. His main issue is that he’s worryingly easy to hit and Roberts has really good power in his combinations.
‘La Jaula’ however is insanely durable and Roberts has been rocked a fair bit in his most recent fights. Both guys will come forward a lot and it will be a war, but I think Bahamondes is able to use his range better than last time around to earn a fun decision win.
PICK – Ignacio Bahamondes via Decision
William Knight (9-2) vs Fabio Cherant (7-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A very interesting fight at light heavyweight here between two highly rated young fighters coming off losses in their last fight. Knight earned a win over Aleksa Camur at UFC 253 before being beaten to a pulp by Da Un Jung at UFC Vegas 23, while Cherant got choked out in his UFC debut by Alonzo Menifield at UFC 260.
Knight is criminally underdeveloped as a fighter at 33-years-old, with a fierce overhand right and damning top control. His issue however is that his takedowns aren’t the best and he’s pretty slow with his strikes. Cherant on the other hand has some more skills with fast hands to go, but he often backs himself against the fence and hesitates to pull the trigger.
This won’t be the highest quality fight, but someone is probably going to sleep. I think Knight’s overhand right and low kicks will land with Cherant worried about any possible takedowns and he’ll claim a win.
PICK – William Knight via Knockout, Round 2