UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson – Prelims predictions

The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event got even weirder on the day of weigh-ins, as the top three fights of the card all got switched.

Initially supposed to be Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz in the main event, “Borz” missed weight by over 7lbs which sparked mega changes.

It will now be Nate Diaz fighting Tony Ferguson in the main event, a five-round welterweight bout, while Chimaev will now fight Kevin Holland at a 180lbs catchweight.

Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight, who was originally supposed to fight Kevin Holland. Crazy.

Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Jake Collier (13-7) vs Chris Barnett (22-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
*Chris Barnett missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

Two heavyweight strikers up next. Collier has alternated wins and losses since 2014, with his most recent fight seeing him drop a split decision to Andrei Arlovski. Barnett earned a stunning spinning wheel kick KO against Gian Villante at UFC 268, before getting beaten by Martin Buday in his most recent bout.

Collier is a good boxer with good hand speed and some decent low kicks, while his movement comes from his previous career as a middleweight once upon a time. “Huggy Boy” is a powerhouse who likes to use unorthodox attacks to catch his opponents out, but ultimately he finds himself at a big disadvantage in this one.

“The Prototype” is the better striker with better movement and he’s also got good wrestling which he has shown in recent fights to be able to take the fight down to the mat if necessary. So long as he avoids the crazy strikes from Barnett and keeps the fight in his own wheelhouse, this should be a comfortable win on the scorecards for Collier.
PICK – Jake Collier via Decision

Denis Tiuliulin (10-6) vs Jamie Pickett (13-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight scrap is due up next. Tiuliulin was submitted in his UFC debut against Aliaskhab Khizriev back in March, while Pickett saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he lost to Kyle Daukaus via submission in February.

Tiuliulin is a powerful striker with great technique and decision making that means he fights the same way no matter who his opponent is. Pickett is a striker too who likes to keep his range and use his kicks too, and where he misses out on technique he makes up for in volume. Pickett also has good wrestling, but he’s not really known as a killer in this division.

Pickett’s best path to victory is undoubtedly by mixing in his wrestling and staying at range. Tiuliulin will come forward and look to avoid that, and if he lands flush then he should be able to finish Pickett. It’s going to be close, but I’m going to back the one-punch knockout power of Tiuliulin because he’ll be the guy coming forward and dictating the pace.
PICK – Denis Tiuliulin via Knockout, Round 1



Jailton Almeida (16-2) vs Anton Turkalj (8-0) – (Catchweight/220lbs)

A short notice scrap up next. Almeida is on an 11 fight win streak including first round finishes in both of his UFC bouts, beating Danilo Marques and Parker Porter. Turkalj steps in on ten days’ notice, as an undefeated fighter with a win on the Contender Series back in July.

Almeida is a terrifying prospect at 31-years-old. He is a powerhouse of a puncher, but it’s his grappling game that makes him a real threat to his opponents, with ten submission wins in his career. Turkalj will no doubt want to stand and strike because of that, but his boxing isn’t the best and his head movement is basically non existent.

This fight will last as long as “Malhadinho” wants it to basically. Turkalj usually wants to wrestle but with the submission threat he’ll want to stand and that gives Almeida the chance to take his head off. If that isn’t working out, he’ll shoot and end up in top position and Almeida will surely be able to find his neck relatively quickly to claim a dominant victory and set Almeida up for a highlight reel win.
PICK – Jailton Almeida via Submission, Round 2

Hakeem Dawodu (13-2-1) vs Julian Erosa (27-10) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
*Hakeem Dawodu missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

A very fun featherweight scrap is the featured prelim of the night. Dawodu has won six of his last seven fights, with Movsar Evloev earning a decision win at UFC 263 before Dawodu bounced back with a decision win over Mike Trizano. Erosa on the other hand has won his last two, submitting Charles Jourdain before a split decision win over Steven Peterson.

Dawodu is a superb Muay Thai fighter who has got great power, good takedown defence and excellent cardio which should see him have the advantage in this match up. Erosa is a super submission artist with a big right hand, but if he can’t get the fight to the ground he tends to struggle to get wins. Getting Dawodu down to the mat will be hard enough, but holding him down there will be even harder because he’s a super scrambler.

“Juicy J” could potentially land one of his big right hands and then step onto a submission, but that’s a very slim hope. Dawodu is far more likely to tee off with body kicks, leg kicks and punching combinations while keeping himself at range to avoid the takedown. A combination of those things could see him earn a stoppage, but a decision win is more likely to see him get another win.
PICK – Hakeem Dawodu via Decision

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