The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this weekend as heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivac headline another card.
After their initial fight back in November fell out on fight night when “The Black Beast” suffered illness and was forced to pull out, they’re now going back to the well to finally settle their score in the Octagon.
This card will also see the finale of the Road to UFC tournament too, so there are plenty of new faces to take notice of during the card too.
Last time out at UFC 283 it was a great night of fights, where we managed to go 10/15 with our picks with three perfect picks, moving us to 823/1277 (64.45%) with 336 perfect picks (40.83%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims on the card.
Tatsuro Taira (12-0) vs Jesus Aguilar (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A banger at flyweight opens up the card. Taira is an undefeated fighter and one of the biggest prospects on the roster, having gone 2-0 in the UFC so far with a win over Carlos Candelario and a submission over CJ Vergara most recently. Aguilar makes his UFC debut after earning a contract on the Contender Series via submission win against Erisson Ferreira da Silva.
Taira is a very well-rounded fighter, with excellent striking on the feet and some brilliant grappling and submission skills too. He doesn’t have the greatest power in the world, but his solid ability to fight at range makes him hard to beat. It’s a big problem for Aguilar, who is decent at everything but considerably behind Taira in every facet of the game.
If Aguilar wins he will land a hail Mary strike out of nowhere or catch Taira in a guillotine on the way down from a takedown. Outside of that, Taira is likely to completely dominate this fight wherever it goes and he should be able to work enough damage to snatch a neck on the mat and claim another win.
PICK – Tatsuro Taira via Submission, Round 1
Junyong Park (15-5) vs Denis Tiuliulin (11-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Middleweight scrap up next. Park is on a two-fight win streak after a decision over Eryk Anders before a submission win against Joseph Holmes most recently back in October. Tiuliulin is 2-2 in his last four, with a TKO win over Jamie Pickett most recently back at UFC 279.
Park is a fighter who relies heavily on his excellent cardio and his relentless takedown skills, and that will come in very handy here. Tiuliulin is a powerful striker with good kicks, but his grappling is relatively poor and he struggles to keep fighters off him or get back to his feet if he does get taken down. This seems like a pretty straight up match up for Park to navigate.
Expect him to use that pressure to force Tiuliulin backwards where he can’t use that striking, and eventually take him to the mat where he will overwhelm him with ground and pound before sinking in a choke and claiming the win.
PICK – Jun Yong Park via Submission, Round 2
Ji Yeon Kim (9-6-2) vs Mandy Bohm (7-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A women’s flyweight scrap up next between two women without a win in a long time. Kim has lost her last four in a row, dropping decisions to all of Alexa Grasso, Molly McCann, Priscila Cachoeira and Joselyne Edwards. Her last win came back in 2019. Bohm on the other hand has lost her last two against Ariane Lipski and Victoria Leonardo, with her last win coming in Bellator in 2020.
Kim is a high volume fighter, constantly being busy in the cage even if she isn’t actually doing much damage to her opponent. Bohm on the other hand has all the tools to do lots of damage, but rarely uses them as she fights with such a slow output and still struggles with her cardio. The early exchanges could be close, but the more the fight goes on the more likely it is that Kim takes over with her work rate.
Expect “Fire Fist” to push forward, attack the body and mix in her wrestling with her striking to really make Bohm think, and do enough down the stretch to claim a relatively comfortable decision.
PICK – Ji Yeon Kim via Decision
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