The UFC brings UFC 271 to Houston, Texas for a middleweight showcase at the top of the card.
In the main event we’ll see the undisputed 185-pound title on the line when Israel Adesanya takes on Robert Whittaker in a rematch from 2019, where the best of the generation will be crowned too.
Slightly further down the card will be a middleweight title eliminator too, as Jared Cannonier takes on Derek Brunson to potentially decipher who the next contender will be for the belt.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 47 we went 9/13 with six perfect picks to move to 528/826 (63.92%) with 224 perfect picks (42.42%).
We’ll look to improve on that this week with this huge 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
William Knight (11-2) vs Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
**William Knight missed weight by 12 pounds. Fight will proceed at heavyweight!**
Two powerhouses going head-to-head here in what could be a fight full of fireworks. Knight is on a two-fight win streak having stopped Fabio Cherant at UFC Vegas 34 before a decision win over Alonzo Menifield at UFC Vegas 44. Grishin on the other hand is an experienced pro who suffered defeat to Dustin Jacoby last time out at UFC Vegas 20 last year.
Knight is a powerful striker, with impressive low kicks and a winging overhand right that can do real damage. He also has great ground-and-pound skills, but his wrestling isn’t the best and he can’t drag fights to the ground. Grishin is also a striker, but far more technical than powerful and has great defensive wrestling to ensure the fight stays where he wants it. Ultimately that will be the difference here.
Grishin will want the fight standing because it’s where he holds the advantage and Knight isn’t a good enough wrestler to force it anywhere else. Grishin should be able to control the range and use his jabs well enough to secure a wide, but uneventful, decision win here.
PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs Blood Diamond (3-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An intriguing welterweight fight to open the card between a sturdy UFC fighter and a debutant. Wells is on a three-fight winning streak, including a KO over Warlley Alves at UFC Vegas 30 in his organisation debut. Blood Diamond is only 3-0 in MMA but had over 50 kickboxing bouts in his career, and has evenly split his wins across KO’s, submissions and decisions.
Wells is a powerful striker on the feet, who explodes into his attacks, but he also has his wrestling chops and some decent grappling skills too. As expected, Blood Diamond is a technically brilliant kickboxer with amazing kicks and speed. But his defensive grappling chops are yet to really be tested, although he hasn’t fought in just under two years.
The improvements could very well be there for Diamond, but that’s hypothetical at this point. We’ve seen Wells knockout a seasoned veteran in his last fight and we know he has good enough wrestling to take the fight down. With three submission wins on his record, I expect him to get the fight to the mat, move to the back and eventually secure his neck to claim a win.
PICK – Jeremiah Wells via Submission, Round 2
Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs Sergey Morozov (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun bantamweight fight next between two super underrated fighters. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, but he claimed a big KO win last time out against Gaetano Pirrello at UFC Vegas 38. Morozov on the other hand was submitted in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 8 but then bounced back with a decision win over Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 31.
This is a big striker vs grappler bout, with one punch knockout power coming up against relentless wrestling and grinding. Andrade has secured 20 knockouts from 27 career wins and is so explosive despite being 36-years-old, while Morozov is a great wrestler who is able to rack up takedowns at will and consistently across 15 minutes. While Morozov has struggled against pressure fighters in the past, Andrade has struggled with specialist wrestlers and battling off his back.
Andrade absolutely has the power to end this fight with one big punch, but he’ll struggle to land the punch if he’s looking up at the ceiling for the night. Morozov’s takedowns are just relentless and with Andrade’s history of being taken down too open, it’s hard to look past a controlling win for Morozov but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to sleep.
PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
AJ Dobson (6-0) vs Jacob Malkoun (5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really exciting middleweight fight between two hot prospects in the UFC. Dobson made waves with his victory on Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his debut here, while Malkoun got smoked in his debut at UFC 254 in just 18 seconds but bounced back with a decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC Vegas 24.
Dobson is a powerful blitzer with excellent power in his hands and good forward pressure. He’s earned three knockout wins and two submissions in his six fights. Malkoun on the other hand is a great boxer too, with professional experience, and he also has some decent jiu-jitsu credentials. The loss to Hawes really affected his stock, but his performance against Alhassan certainly showed what he’s capable of too.
Dobson’s reputation is big right now because of the hype, but Malkoun certainly isn’t just a walk in the park here. Malkoun will likely lean on his wrestling heavily again and we haven’t really seen Dobson off his back yet. Dobson could earn a knockout win, for sure, but I think Malkoun will be able to grind on him and make it a rough debut for a victory.
PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-2) vs Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two fighters on big win streaks go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Martinez is on a three-fight winning run, being successful in his UFC debut against Guido Cannetti at UFC Vegas 35 while Lawrence grabbed a third-round knockout win over Vince Cachero at UFC Vegas 20 in his debut.
Martinez is a fighter with great power in his hands, the ability to put anyone’s lights out with one clean shot and great boxing technique in both directions. Lawrence on the other hand is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands too and a consistent takedown-heavy approach to secure control. Martinez has definitely got the edge in the striking game, but he suffered badly in his debut win with the pressure of Cannetti.
That’s a problem, because Lawrence is far better than Cannetti is. His pressure is relentless, his wrestling solid and his grappling is far more advanced than Martinez’s is. With that said, ‘Manaboi’ has fight-ending power which is hard to go against. I will go against it on this occasion though, because Lawrence is a big step up in competition but don’t be surprised to see a highlight reel finish in his favour instead.
PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision