The UFC returns with yet another banger of a title fight rematch at UFC 287 when Alex Pereira defends his middleweight title for the first time against long-time rival Israel Adesanya in the main event.
This will be the fourth time these two have met in a fight, with Pereira winning each of the previous three but Adesanya running him super close every time.
We’ll also see Gilbert Burns fight Jorge Masvidal in the co-main event, while we’ll also see the likes of Kevin Holland, Raul Rosas Jr, Adrian Yanez, Rob Font, Kelvin Gastelum and Chris Curtis fighting on the card.
Last time out at UFC San Antonio we got the main event pick correct with Cory Sandhagen beating Marlon Vera, although it wasn’t a perfect pick. You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve our overall record here, starting with the early prelims.
Jaqueline Amorim (6-0) vs Sam Hughes (7-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
An interesting strawweight bout to open up the card. Amorim is an undefeated fighter making her UFC debut, having won all six of her previous bouts via stoppage (5 submissions, 1 knockout). Hughes on the other hand saw her two-fight winning streak halted by Piera Rodriguez last time out via unanimous decision.
Amorim is a stunning submission artist, with medals at the world championships for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with strong takedowns but poor striking. Hughes is a wrestler with strong takedowns too, and decent striking on the feet, but her takedown defence is a massive hole in her game. There is every chance that Hughes keeps this fight standing and brawls her way to a win because she has the advantage on the feet and with power.
But we’ve seen Hughes really struggle in the past with takedown defence, and while Amorim isn’t the greatest takedown artist she should have enough to get it down once. If she does that, her submission skills are so advanced that I doubt it gets out of the round to make it seven straight first-round finishes to open her career.
PICK – Jaqueline Amorim via Submission, Round 1
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (39-10) vs Steve Garcia (13-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Featherweight scrap between two veterans in this one. Nuerdanbieke is on a three-fight win streak heading into this one, earning decisions over Sean Soriano and TJ Brown before a first-round knockout win over Darrick Minner. Garcia on the other hand is 2-1 in his last three, KO’ing Charlie Ontiveros and Chase Hooper with a KO loss to Maheshate sandwiched between those bouts.
Nuerdanbieke is an excellent grappler with really strong wrestling takedowns and good movement on the feet to keep his opponents honest in the stand up exchanges. Garcia on the other hand is a power puncher with a lot of aggression. His takedown defence hasn’t been the best in his career, and with his tendency to plant his feet and throw bombs that opens up the takedown for Nuerdanbieke.
If Garcia lands flush early, he has every chance of putting Nuerdanbieke down. But on the balance of probability, expect “Wolverine” to be able to get enough top control racked up over the 15 minutes to claim a win on the scorecards.
PICK – Shayilan Nuerdanbieke via Decision
Ignacio Bahamondes (13-4) vs Trey Ogden (16-5) – (Catchweight/160lbs)
Banger up next at a catchweight between two very interesting fighters. Bahamondes has won his last two in a row, destroying Roosevelt Roberts via spinning wheel kick with five seconds remaining before submitting Zhu Rong last time out over a year ago. Ogden has won four of his last five, but is 1-1 in the UFC after losing his debut to Jordan Leavitt before beating Daniel Zellhuber last time out. Ogden steps into this fight on two weeks’ notice to replace the injured Nikolas Motta.
Bahamondes is a fantastic kickboxer with great size and power, to go with some solid grappling and takedown defence. He’s also got superb kicking as shown in his two wins in the UFC. Ogden on the other hand is a wrestler with great grappling skills and good takedowns, but his striking is shaky and his volume isn’t the greatest either. That’s a big problem against someone like “La Jaula”.
The Chilean fighter is likely to walk forward and kick a lot, crowding Ogden to prevent takedowns and use his excellent cardio to wear on him. He has the power advantage and is by far the better striker of the two. His takedown defence should be able to hold up against Ogden too, so he will pour the pressure on and attack the body to claim another late stoppage.
PICK – Ignacio Bahamondes via Knockout, Round 2
Cynthia Calvillo (9-5-1) vs Lupita Godinez (8-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun strawweight bout up next with Calvillo battling to save her UFC career. She has lost each of her last four fights, dropping decisions to Katyln Chookagian and Nina Nunes while being stopped by Jessica Andrade and Andrea Lee. Godinez on the other hand saw a two-fight win streak snapped by Angel Hill last timeout, after beating Loma Lookboonmee and Ariane Carnelossi via decision.
Calvillo is a solid wrestler with great takedowns and okay striking, but she had a really tough time after moving up to flyweight with size. She’s now coming back down, and her strengths should be on show more. But she’ll be facing Godinez, who is a fantastic grappler while also possessing really strong boxing and some solid cardio. On paper Godinez should win this based on their recent performances.
But fighting doesn’t happen on paper and Calvillo has the wrestling to control Godinez from top position. Godinez has a horrible habit of fighting where the opponent is at their best, and while she’s a solid wrestler too Calvillo will have a size advantage and that could help her to claim an upset win and get back in the W column for the first time since June 2020.
PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision
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