The UFC returns to Perth, Australia for one of the biggest main event bouts in history as Alexander Volkanovski moves up to lightweight to challenge Islam Makhachev for the title.
The undisputed featherweight champion is currently ranked as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, while Makhachev is ranked at number two, making this the first time the top two fighters in the company have gone head to head.
We’ll also see an interim featherweight champion crowned in Volkanovski’s absence from the 145-pound division, as Yair Rodriguez takes on Josh Emmett in an exciting fight too.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 68 we went 6/10 with three perfect picks (we don’t count draws) to move to 829/1287 (64.41%) with 340 perfect picks (41.01%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims section of the card, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Jamie Mullarkey (15-5) vs Francisco Prado (11-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Absolute banger in the lightweight division up next. Mullarkey has won three of his last four, knocking out Khama Worthy and Devonte Smith, before defeat to Jalin Turner. He claimed a split decision win over Michael Johnson last time out in a razor close bout. Prado is an Argentine prospect who has finished all 11 of his fights via finish, splitting them with five knockouts and six submissions.
Both of these fighters are eerily similar in style, with incredible aggression to go with their smothering grappling and excellent power in their striking. They have also got some incredible toughness and cardio, but the difference between the two that will be key is that Mullarkey has done it at a far higher level in his career so far.
Prado will surely make it in the UFC eventually and his fan-friendly style will also win plenty of love, but in this one against the home favourite and more experienced fighter it’s a tough task. Mullarkey will give more than he takes and eventually take over before getting a late finish in an absolute war.
PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 3
Shannon Ross (13-6) vs Kleydson Rodrigues (7-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight fight next up. Ross has actually lost two of his last three, including being KO’d in his last outing on the Contender Series by Vinicius Salvador back in August. Rodrigues on the other hand saw a six-fight win streak snapped by CJ Vergara last time out in his UFC debut at UFC 274 via split decision.
Ross is a fighter with an ability to do a bit of everything, but he has got a glaring problem that will stop him from making it too far in the UFC and that’s the fact that his chin is essentially non-existent. He gets dropped with worrying regularity, and Rodrigues comes into the fight as an excellent striker and decent grappler too. He’s by far the better fighter of the two and has the advantage pretty much everywhere.
Expect Rodrigues to use his jab and low kicks to beat Ross up a bit, and eventually do enough damage with a knockdown and flurry for the referee to step in and end it.
PICK – Kleydson Rodrigues via Knockout, Round 2
Josh Culibao (10-1-1) vs Melsik Baghdasaryan (7-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Absolute banger in the featherweight division up next. Culibao has won his last two in a row, defeating Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Seung Woo Choi via decision. Baghdasaryan is undefeated since losing his professional debut back in 2014, winning each of his two UFC bouts against Collin Angling and most recently Bruno Souza back at UFC 268 in November 2021.
Culibao is a fine striker with great boxing and kicks, while he also has some decent wrestling and trips in his back pocket too. “The Gun” alternatively is almost exclusively a striker, with his kickboxing world renowned and having great power to go with his timing and footwork. Baghdasaryan is more of a counter striker than a pressure fighter, and that could suit him against Culibao who likes to push forward and force opponents backwards.
In the striking it’s Baghdasaryan who has the advantage in my opinion, but Culibao’s ability to mix it up more gives him an added avenue to victory. With that said, if he can’t get him down then that should give Baghdasaryan the chance to really pick him apart as the fight goes on. Culibao is also someone who can be sluggish if he’s not really on it on the night, so I’m going to go with Melsik to edge out a close win on the cards.
PICK – Melsik Baghdasaryan via Decision
Tyson Pedro (9-3) vs Modestas Bukauskas (13-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Big boys up next in the featured prelim bout of the night. Super popular Pedro is on a two-fight win streak since his return after a near four-year layoff, knocking out Isaac Villanueva and Harry Hunsucker in the first round. Bukauskas returns to the UFC after losing his first three fights and being released, before winning two in a row after his return to Cage Warriors.
Pedro is an absolute powerhouse with fantastic striking ability, including some violent leg kicks too. Bukauskas is a strong fighter too with powerful striking and a black belt in karate, while he also has some decent grappling too. His problem in the UFC is that his chin just couldn’t stand up to the power, and Pedro is arguably the biggest hitter he’s come up against.
With just 2.5 weeks notice and the skillset to really end this quickly, Pedro is the man. His kicking game is enough to keep distance, he has the power to sleep Bukauskas and he’s a great grappler too. Bukauskas’ tendency to back up to the cage doesn’t bode well either, so Pedro should get the crowd up on their feet in this one.
PICK – Tyson Pedro via Knockout, Round 2
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