The UFC returns to the APEX centre in Las Vegas this week for a banger of a featherweight main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.
Holloway is considered the people’s champion of the division and wants to show the world why he is rightfully considered as the number one contender for the title, while Rodriguez is desperate to finally fulfil his potential after being considered a future champion for years.
It’s a very fun card also including the likes of Ben Rothwell, Cynthia Calvillo, Marc Diakiese, Thiago Moises and Khaos Williams.
Last week at UFC 268 we had a brilliant night, securing 13/14 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 471/730 (64.52%) with 197 perfect picks (41.83%).
We’ll look to improve on that this week starting with the early prelims here.
Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) vs Da-Un Jung (14-2-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Very fun light heavyweight fight to open the card here. Nzechukwu is on a three-fight win streak, with a TKO win over Danilo Marques most recently at UFC Vegas 30 while Jung is undefeated since 2015 with a draw against Sam Alvey the only thing preventing a 14-fight win streak. He picked up a dominant win over William Knight last time out at UFC Vegas 23.
Nzechukwu is a powerful pressure fighter, with a formidable gas tank that has got him through a lot of tough situations so far in his career. Jung on the other hand is an awkward striker, who uses his physicality well and has good takedown skills. That could be a problem for Nzechukwu, who has struggled with takedowns in the past.
These two fighters are highly unlikely to rip up any trees in the division but this should be a fun fire-fight. Nzechukwu will walk forward and while he may get taken down, I think he will get back up and really wear on Jung to land heavy late on and take a decision win.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision
Marc Diakiese (14-4) vs Rafael Alves (19-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another fun fight next up on the early prelims in the lightweight division. Diakiese suffered defeat last time out to Rafael Fiziev at UFC Fight Island 2 over a year ago, while Alves was beaten in his UFC debut by Damir Ismagulov at UFC Vegas 27 in May to snap his five-fight win streak.
The Briton is a well-rounded fighter who’s four defeats in the UFC have come against the upper echelon of fighter in Dan Hooker, Nasrat Haqparast and Drakkar Klose. He has a solid low kick, good striking skills and can hold his own in the grappling too. Alves on the other hand is an explosive striker with good submission skills too, with his 14 career finishes split evenly between KO’s and tap-outs.
Alves is a dangerous opponent but he lacks an in-between game. He’s either exploding for attacks or getting pieced up, with a real disdain for setting up shots. Diakiese is at his best from range and with an advantage in the volume category, he should be able to stay there and control the fight for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision
Cortney Casey (9-9) vs Liana Jojua (8-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A flyweight bout between a veteran and a prospect in this one. Casey has lost six of her last nine bouts, with two-in-a-row to Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 3 and then JJ Aldrich at UFC Vegas 21. Jojua has lost two of her last three, with a win over Diana Belbita at UFC Fight Island 1 sandwiched between defeats to Sarah Moras and Miranda Maverick at UFC 254.
Casey is a good striker on the feet, who uses her range well and likes her kicking game a lot. Jojua on the other hand is a specialist grappler, whose wrestling skills aren’t the best but if the fight hits the ground it’s usually a wrap. With the tape on both of these women, it’s hard to gauge where this fight ends up.
On the feet, Casey should absolutely batter her. Jojua’s striking defence is horrible and she tends to walk through shots to try and get her hands on her opponent. Casey doesn’t have a lot of power though, which means Jojua could potentially drag her down. Unfortunately for her though, Casey’s defence is decent so I think she pieces her up for 15 minutes and claims a win.
PICK – Cortney Casey via Decision