The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a featherweight clash in the main event between Calvin Kattar and Arnold Allen in a potential title eliminator.
Both guys are coming off great wins last time out and will be hoping to put their case forward for a shot against Alex Volkanovski in 2023.
There’s a pretty good undercard to go off too in comparison to recent weeks, so it’s a good set of fights to look forward to.
Last time out at UFC 280 we went 8/12 with four perfect picks to move to 749/1166 (64.58%) with 317 perfect picks (42.1%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and then moving on to the rest of the prelims here, we push on to the main card.
Dustin Jacoby (18-5-1) vs Khalil Rountree Jr (11-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Some brilliant kickboxers go head to head here. Jacoby is unbeaten in his last nine, with eight wins and a draw including winning his last four in a row. Rountree has won his last two, snapping Modestas Bukauskas’ ACL before smoking Karl Roberson back in March.
Jacoby is a legitimate kickboxer with elite striking skills to get in and out of range, while landing great boxing combinations at the same time too. Rountree is a striker too who’s performance blow from hot to cold and back again at the drop of a hat. You never know what you’re going to get from him, apart from lots of kicks and a solid clinch game.
With that said though, you surely have to go with the fighter who is consistently at a good level whether in victory or defeat. It’s been a long time since Jacoby lost a fight and that’s because he comes in and fights to his plan perfectly with great execution. His power and height advantage could play a big part too, despite a slightly shorter reach, so go with Jacoby on the cards.
PICK – Dustin Jacoby via Decision
Josh Fremd (9-3) vs Tresean Gore (4-2) – (Middleweight/185llbs)
Ultimate Fighter finalist returns to the octagon in this one. Fremd suffered defeat in his UFC debut to Anthony Hernandez back at UFC 273, while Gore’s first two trips to the octagon ended in defeat when he lost to Bryan Battle via decision and then got knocked out by Cody Brundage most recently.
Gore is a decent striker with some good kickboxing and excellent power, but he’s incredibly green in the MMA game and he’s been shown up on the UFC stage so far. Fremd is a volume heavy fighter who thrives in chaos, and also has some decent grappling in his back pocket if he needs to use it. This is a bit of an odd bout though on paper.
Fremd can make this a horrible fight for Gore if he uses his cardio and chaos, but if it’s a tidy, technical bout then Gore should be able to win this relatively comfortably. An uptick in volume, plus his added size and good power has me leaning his way but this really is last chance saloon for Gore.
PICK – Tresean Gore via Knockout, Round 1
Waldo Cortes-Acosta (7-0) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-9) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big boys back in the cage now. Cortes-Acosta is an undefeated fighter making his UFC debut after a first-round knockout win on Dana Whites’ Contender Series back in August. Vanderaa is a UFC veteran on the other hand, who has lost five of his last six including his last four against Alexander Romanov, Andrei Arlovski, Alexei Oleinik and Chase Sherman.
Acosta is an absolute powerhouse with good boxing and a huge overhand right that can turn the lights out in an instant. There’s also a bit of wrestling there too which can see him be content on the ground, but he wants the fight on the feet. Vanderaa on the other hand is a fighter who likes to mix in his big strikes with wrestling and grappling as a jiu-jitsu guy, but he tends to just stand and that gets him in a lot of trouble.
This is a very strange fight at a very strange spot on the card. With Vanderaa’s recent performances and results, it seems like a bit of a setup fight for Cortes-Acosta. A former pro boxer, he will be very happy with this matchmaking and I expect him to land a nasty combination to end the night early and make a statement.
PICK – Waldo Cortes-Acosta via Knockout, Round 1
Tim Means (32-13-1) vs Max Griffin (18-9) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A banger of a bout at welterweight that could really take the shine off the main event. Means was on a three-fight win streak before being submitted by Kevin Holland most recently in June, while Griffin had the same before Neil Magny beat him in March.
Means is a technical striker with good boxing skills and a decent wrestling game too, while Griffin in a well-rounded fighter with really good wrestling to go with his striking skills. This is a fight between two guys who are incredibly well matched and have a very similar skillset that could go either way in reality. Means is 38 now though and past his best, so Griffin will be confident that he can get the job done.
Expect that Griffin will come forward and meet him in the middle to land good striking combinations and mix in his takedowns. Means will no doubt be able to hold his own and compete in this fight, but the age difference is big and Griffin should be a bit quicker and more eye-catching to earn the win on the cards.
PICK – Max Griffin via Decision
Calvin Kattar (23-6) vs Arnold Allen (18-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
What. A. Fight. Kattar bounced back from a horror loss to Max Holloway (UFC Fight Island 7) by destroying Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 46, but then dropped a split decision to Josh Emmett most recently. Allen on the other hand is undefeated in the UFC with an 8-0 record and made a huge statement with a first-round knockout over Dan Hooker at UFC London back in March in his last fight.
Kattar is one of the best pure strikers in the UFC with terrific boxing combinations and incredible power, while he loves to mix in elbow strikes and showed his wrestling credentials against Chikadze. Allen on the other hand is a fantastic wrestler with a great grappling game, but he also has super power in his hands and good kickboxing combinations too. These two guys are well-rounded, but this is Allen’s biggest step up in competition in this division.
“Almighty” beat Hooker with ease, but that was a depleted lightweight. Kattar has been at the top of the mountain against the very best guys and while we saw that he’s not of that calibre, he knows what it feels like. Allen is likely to use his wrestling more, rather than standing and striking with Kattar who will have the advantage there. It could go either way in reality, but momentum is huge in this sport and I think Allen can do enough damage and use his wrestling well enough to get the decision on the cards.
PICK – Arnold Allen via Decision