The UFC featherweight division headlines a banger of a card in the APEX as Edson Barboza takes on Giga Chikadze in the main event, while The Ultimate Fighter finals take place too.
Chikadze takes on the former lightweight contender in his first main event, but before that the finale of both the bantamweight and middleweight division from the Ultimate Fighter Returns finale will take place as Ricky Turcios takes on Brady Hiestand, followed by Bryan Battle taking on late replacement Gilbert Urbina.
Kevin Lee also makes his return to the octagon against Daniel Rodriguez at welterweight in his first fight since he was submitted by Charles Oliveira back in March 2020.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 34 we went a disappointing 6/12 with two perfect picks for the night to move to 389/612 (63.56%) with 171 perfect picks (43.96%). We’ll look to improve that here, and after starting with the early prelims here are the picks for the rest of the prelims.
Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) vs Darren Stewart (12-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A very interesting fight at 205lbs as the UK’s ‘Dentist’ moves up to light heavyweight. Jacoby won four-in-a-row before a draw against Ion Cutelaba last time out at UFC Vegas 25, while Stewart is winless in his last three after defeat to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11 before a no-contest and then a defeat to Eryk Anders at UFC 263.
Moving up to light heavyweight is an interesting decision from Stewart, because he’s not really the biggest 185lber in the land. Jacoby has good boxing skills and while his gas tank and wrestling skills aren’t the greatest, Stewart doesn’t really have any stand-out attributes himself. He’s very aggressive and is probably at his best when implementing ground-and-pound, but he may be undersized in this one.
Stewart is really hard to get a read on and while Jacoby isn’t exactly a world-beater, he has a clear path to victory here and I think his size will see him earn a win.
PICK – Dustin Jacoby via Decision
Sam Alvey (33-15-1) vs Wellington Turman (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Another bout with some big men on this card as ‘Smilin’ Sam Alvey takes on Brazilian sensation Wellington Turman. Alvey is winless in six fights, with five defeats and a draw including his most recent outing against Julian Marquez when he was submitted at UFC Vegas 23. Turman is a youngster with crazy experience, but he’s lost his last two fights by knockout to Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 6 and then Bruno Silva at UFC Vegas 29.
Alvey is a powerful striker with very heavy hands and an iron chin, but a real lack of technique and anything else. Turman on the other hand is a talented grappler who has recently tried to show off his striking and been knocked out twice. Both these guys are likely to be on their way out of the UFC sooner rather than later but one of them will earn a stay of execution here.
Ultimately, Alvey has great takedown defence and great power while Turman tries for takedowns and doesn’t have a chin either. It’s a perfect storm for chaos and I think Alvey makes it 20 career KO’s and earns his first win since 2018.
PICK – Sam Alvey via Knockout, Round 1
Alessio Di Chirico (13-5) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Another fun big-man fight in this one as Di Chirico takes on a short-notice replacement in Alhassan here. Di Chirico lost three-in-a-row before a stunning first-round knockout over Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Island 7 in January, while Alhassan has now lost three-in-a-row himself against Mounir Lazzez, Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 14 and most recently Jacob Malkoun.
Di Chirico is a good grappler who has a chin and great strikes too, while Alhassan is as one-dimensional as they come. He has a boulder of a right hand in the opening minutes but once that fades, so does he and he tends to get dominated. Di Chirico has never been stopped by strikes despite being in there against bigger guys and hard hitters too and should he avoid the initial explosion, he has all the skills to dominate this fight.
Alhassan is moving up to middleweight so he will naturally be the smaller man and that only plays more into Di Chirico’s hands, so I think he’ll be able to score the win in this one.
PICK – Alessio Di Chirico via Decision
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