All posts by Daniel Feliciano

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). 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 and then moving on to the prelims section of the card, we finish up with our main card picks now.


Eryk Anders (14-7) vs Kyle Daukaus (11-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Middleweight scrap opens up the main card and it’s a good’n. Anders has lost his last two in a row, getting submitted by Andre Muniz at UFC 269 before dropping a split decision to Jun Yong Park back in May. Daukaus on the other hand earned a first-round submission win over Jamie Pickett in his first fight of the year, but was KO’d by Roman Dolidze in June last time out.

Anders is a stout wrestler with great upper body strength and heavy hands, but he’s never quite been able to string it all together for a run at the top end of the division. Daukaus is in a pretty similar boat, although much earlier on in his UFC career, but he has a much better ground game when it comes to submissions as his nine submission wins and nickname “The D’Arce Knight” show you.

Usually this type of fight favours Anders, because he can avoid being on the bottom with his wrestling and uses his heavy hands to flatline people. But he hasn’t got a KO win in over three years and Daukaus has the wrestling ability to stuff his advances too. He’s far more active on the feet too so the volume should be a factor, and if he does manage to get this fight down he’ll have the edge, so I lean towards Daukaus in this one.
PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Decision

Jack Hermansson (23-7) vs Roman Dolidze (11-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another fun middleweight bout next, but this one came together on short notice. Hermansson is on a 3-3 run in his last six, alternating wins and losses in that time. He suffered a split decision loss to Sean Strickland in February, but claimed a decision win over Chris Curtis at UFC London last time out. Dolidze is replacing Derek Brunson on one weeks’ notice, on a three-fight win streak, beating Laureano Staropoli via decision before KO wins over Kyle Daukaus and Phil Hawes most recently in October.

Hermansson is a terrific grappler, with some of the best submissions and ground and pound in the entire division, but his stand up game has seen him struggle on occasion and a title shot continues to evade him at this point in his career. Dolidze is a stud grappler himself, but since dropping to middleweight he has looked far more powerful and has been a huge threat in the stand up too. Hermansson is a good boxer and his cardio has never, ever been tested, while Dolidze is a bit more wild and has had issues with his gas tank in the past.

Dolidze has the ability to go in there and land one of those power shots to close the show, but against someone as good as Hermansson it seems unlikely. The Swede is capable of winning this fight wherever it goes and having had a full camp, plus his advantage in the boxing with his jab, he should edge a competitive fight.
PICK – Jack Hermansson via Decision

Tai Tuivasa (15-4) vs Sergei Pavlovich (16-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big time heavyweight bangers up next. Tai Tuivasa had won five-in-a-row by knockout against Stefan Struve (UFC 254), Harry Hunsucker (UFC Vegas 22), Greg Hardy (UFC 264), Augusto Sakai (UFC 269) and Derrick Lewis (UFC 271) before losing to Ciryl Gane at UFC Paris back in September in a thrilling fight. Pavlovich has won his last four in a row, KO’ing all of Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene, Shamil Abudrakhimov and Derrick Lewis.

Tuivasa is a straight up brawler with some decent leg kicks and other-worldly power in both hands, as well as hugely improved cardio that he showed in his last fight. Pavlovich is also a dangerous puncher with great combinations and nasty power, and at 6ft 3 he has a slight size edge here.

With that said, there isn’t much that separates these two. I went against both when they fought Lewis because I expected them to get flattened, and the opposite happened. Lewis is the best guy Pavlovich has fought, while we saw a lot of Tuivasa against Gane and he really impressed. It’s the level of competition that leads me this way, but I think Tuivasa gets it done in a war.
PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 2



Matheus Nicolau (18-3-1) vs Matt Schnell (16-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Huge flyweight bout up next. Nicolau comes into this fight on a five-fight win streak, including 3-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Manel Kape (UFC Vegas 21), Tim Elliott and David Dvorak most recently. Schnell is 1-1 in his last two, losing to Brandon Royval via submission at UFC 274, before bouncing back with a submission win of his own against Sumudaerji in one of the comebacks of the year.

Nicolau is a super well-rounded threat and is destined to be in the title mix at some point in his career. His kickboxing is excellent, he has a solid wrestling game and five submission wins tell you all about his ground threat. Schnell is very similar, but far more aggressive which leaves him open to counters more but also more of a danger when it comes to securing a finish. Nicolau is unlikely to change his game for this fight, because overall he is the more polished MMA man.

With that said he will have to be careful. Schnell seems to be the more powerful guy on the feet and his submission threat is certainly more dangerous. If he tightens up defensively he could be a big problem, but based on what we’ve seen from them both it would be more of a surprise if Nicolau didn’t do enough everywhere to earn the nod from the judges.
PICK – Matheus Nicolau via Decision

Bryan Barbarena (18-8) vs Rafael Dos Anjos (31-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting welterweight bout up next between two unranked guys. Barbarena has won his last three, claiming decisions over Darian Weeks and Matt Brown, before earning a KO win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 276 most recently. Dos Anjos is returning after a stint back at lightweight, where he beat Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14) and Renato Moicano but most recently got stopped by Rafael Fiziev.

Barbaerna is a power puncher with great boxing and counter-punching skills, while he has a decent bit of wrestling in his back pocket too. Dos Anjos is no doubt one of the best, all-round MMA fighters there is in the UFC and it’s no surprise he was a champion at one point, but age is catching him up. His striking mixed in with excellent wrestling and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu makes him a true great in the sport.

This seems like a mismatch. Barbarena is riding a wave of momentum, but he doesn’t have any real notable wins on his record and any time he’s tried to step up to face someone better he’s been handily beaten. That’s going to happen again. Expect RDA to land clean a few times and then mix in his wrestling for a dominant 30-26 win on the cards.
PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision

Stephen Thompson (16-6-1) vs Kevin Holland (23-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A super intriguing welterweight bout up next between two ranked contenders. “Wonderboy” has lost each of his last two, being grappled heavily by Gilbert Burns (UFC 264) and Belal Muhammad. Holland was on a great run after moving to 170-pounds with wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, before the chaos of UFC 279 saw him matched up with Khamzat Chimaev on less than 24 hours notice and run over in just over two minutes at a catchweight.

Thompson remains one of the best pure strikers in the company, with his awkward karate style and footwork allowing him to control the tempo of fight and do damage for long periods of time. Holland is a very explosive and powerful striker on the feet, but he is also an underrated grappler with great jiu-jitsu skills which could be a route to victory for him here. His preference is striking though, and it seems unlikely he will have an edge there.

If Holland wants to be successful he needs to be able to cut the cage off and land big shots, and mix in the threat of the takedown and grappling. If he can’t do that, Wonderboy will do what he’s always done and just pick him apart from the outside with little threat of anything coming back at him. Wonderboy is a super tempting underdog, but I really like Holland at 170 and think this could be his statement win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Decision

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). 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.


Darren Elkins (28-10) vs Jonathan Pearce (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight next between the past and potentially future of this division. Elkins has won three of his last four, losing to Cub Swanson and beating Tristan Connelly in his last two bouts. Pearce on the other hand has won his last four in a row with three finishes, beating Kai Kamaka III, Omar Morales (UFC 266), Christian Rodriguez and most recently Makwan Amirkhani at UFC London in July.

Elkins is a fighter with a bit of everything in his arsenal, but nothing to an outstanding level outside of his heart and durability. He pushes and pushes when others wouldn’t to grind out the win, using a rushing style and excellent cardio to his advantage. Pearce alternatively though is a sensational wrestler with a suffocating ground game as well as some technical standup on the feet, with a gas tank that seemingly never waivers.

Considering Elkins’ best chance of winning is turning this into a war of attrition, something that JSP thrives in, him winning this would be a miracle. Pearce should be able to overwhelm him everywhere and while he could get the finish to make a statement, I think Elkins should be able to survive that much at least.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Decision

Michael Johnson (21-18) vs Marc Diakiese (16-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight fight between two guys who have had solid UFC careers. Johnson snapped a four-fight losing streak when he KO’d Alan Patrick back in May, but he lose a split decision against Jamie Mullarkey back in July most recently. Diakiese on the other hand bounced back from defeats to Rafael Fiziev (UFC Fight Island 2) and Rafael Alves to beat Viacheslav Borshchev and Damir Hadzovic in his two most recent bouts.

Johnson is a solid boxer with legitimately scary power in his hands and a decent wrestling background too but he really struggles if he ends up on the bottom. Diakiese is an excellent, technical kickboxer on the feet but has always been willing to wrestle if he needs too, which may be his best route to victory here.

Diakiese will feel he has the edge wherever this fight goes and when his confidence is flowing he’s at his best. Johnson will know he likely needs to land one of those detonators to win this bout which could see him chase it, but eventually he’ll be on his back and Diakiese will cruise to the win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision

Clay Guida (37-19) vs Scott Holtzman (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Lightweight scrap up next. Guida is one of the legends of the sport but he’s struggled in recent outings, losing a decision to Mark O. Madsen, before a knee bar submission loss to Claudio Puelles most recently. He earned a submission win over Leonardo Santos between those fights at UFC Vegas 44. Holtzman has lost his last two outings, but both came against elite opposition in Beneil Dariush (UFC Vegas 6) and Mateusz Gamrot (UFC Vegas 23).

Guida is a wrestler. That’s it. He will rush forward with great energy and bounce and look to take you down or push you against the cage and take you down. As for Holtzman, he has struggled in the past against persistent takedown offences, but his striking game is excellent and his takedown defence isn’t horrible. Add to that Guida’s takedown accuracy leaves plenty to be desired, Holtzman has a great shot here.

Guida won’t get tired and will be relentless with his shots for the takedown, but Holtzman can light him up like a Christmas tree on the feet with his punches and nasty knees. I don’t anticipate a finish on either side, but I think Holtzman lands enough killer shots to catch the judge’s eyes and claim a close decision.
PICK – Scott Holtzman



Angela Hill (14-12) vs Emily Ducote (12-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweights up next looking to break into the rankings. Hill has lost five of her last seven officially but there are some dodgy decisions involved. Last time out though it went her way, claiming a decision win over Lupita Godinez to snap a three-fight losing streak. Ducote on the other hand has won her last four in a row, including a decision win over Jessica Penne in her UFC debut back in July.

Hill is a Muay-Thai fighter with good striking and a relentless work rate, constantly scrambling on the mat and pushing forward when on the feet to get her opponent moving backwards. Ducote is a decent boxer on the feet with good combinations and footwork, and she’s also got some good wrestling in her back pocket too.

Ducote will know that if she’s at her best then she should have too much for Hill, but Hill’s specialty is making people not be able to perform at their best. That should see Ducote even more tuned in and more focused, and with a deeper toolbox to delve into over the course of 15 minutes she should get the win.
PICK – Emily Ducote via Decision

Niko Price (15-5) vs Phil Rowe (9-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute banger at welterweight as our featured prelim bout next. Price is 1-2-1 in his last four, losing to Vicente Luque and drawing with Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 11 (later overturned to a NC for cannabis), and losing to Michel Pereira (UFC 264). He bounced back with a big decision win over Alex Oliveira most recently though. Rowe recovered from defeat in his UFC debut at UFC 258 to Gabriel Green by knocking out Orion Cosce and Jason Witt in each of his last two bouts.

Price is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, constantly pushing forward to land heavy strikes and knock opponents out, while also being willing to eat a few shots to give them back. Rowe tends to start quite slowly, but has got incredible punching power and good combinations once he starts going, as well as some okay wrestling to fall back on.

The problem he faces is that while he starts slowly, Price rushes out of the gate and against someone who can finish you in an instant that is dangerous. Price will respect the power coming back at him so it may take a few minutes to really start flying, but expect Price to up the pressure early and land a few big shots to close the show before Rowe gets the chance to really wake up.
PICK – Niko Price via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims section of the card.


Yazmin Jauregui (9-0) vs Istela Nunes (6-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight banger opens up the card in this one. Jauregui is an undefeated fighter, who won her UFC debut last time out back in August with a decision win over Iasmin Lucindo, while Nunes has lost three of her last four including her two UFC outings against Ariane Carnelossi and Sam Hughes.

Jauregui is a powerful striker with good wrestling in her back pocket and a fantastic set of lungs to make her a threat throughout 15 minutes. Nunes on the other hand is also a powerful striker, with great counters and skill but she has a habit of leaving herself open for counters and running out of steam as the fight goes on. That’s a problem against someone as dangerous and well-rounded as Jauregui.

Expect the Mexican to stand and trade early to see how she feels in the fight, but quickly switch to her wrestling if she gets caught. As the fight goes on she’ll be able to land more and take over in more dominant fashion, and I expect she’ll be the one to claim the decision win.
PICK – Yazmin Jauregui via Decision

Marcelo Rojo (16-9) vs Francis Marshall (6-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very exciting featherweight clash up next. Rojo has lost his two UFC outings after being stopped by Charles Jourdain at UFC Vegas 21 before suffering a submission loss to Kyler Phillips at UFC 271, but has proven to be exciting and capable of performing at this level thus far. Marshall makes his UFC debut having earned a contract on the Contender Series back in August.

Rojo is a very exciting striker with great power and tremendous cardio, allowing him to push forward and use his length well against all opposition. Marshall on the other hand is a wrestler with an excellent ground game, looking for submissions once he gets the fight to the mat. He’s also beginning to develop a decent stand up game too as he continues to improve. Rojo is a big threat, but his weakness is Marshall’s strength.

Marshall will wrestle, there’s no doubt and that will almost certainly stop Rojo kicking away at his leg as he likes to do. That could force Rojo backwards which makes the takedown easier, but if Rojo is brave and throws those kicks hard and effectively, it will open up more strikes on the feet to the head. Marshall is super talented but this isn’t an easy debut, and I get the feeling Rojo finally gets his UFC win with a big knockout after landing a sharp one-two down the middle.
PICK – Marcelo Rojo via Knockout, Round 2



Natan Levy (7-1) vs Genaro Valdez (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Fun lightweight scrap between two relative UFC newcomers next. Levy is 1-1 in the octagon after losing to Rafa Garcia in his debut via decision, but claimed a win over Mike Breeden most recently back in April. Valdez earned a UFC contract on the Contender Series in October 2021, but lost his UFC debut in January when he got stopped by Matt Frevola at UFC 270.

Levy is a fantastic wrestler with a nasty leg kicking game to boot, and a great gas tank that allows him to drag opponents into the deep waters if necessary. Valdez alternatively is a straight up brawler, who comes into bouts looking to kill or be killed and that doesn’t bode well for him here.

Expect Levy to stay at range and use those leg kicks, before shooting for the takedowns and dominating on the mat with control and damage. He may even be successful in finding a finish after lots of wearing on Valdez, but it would come later in the fight if at all in my opinion.
PICK – Natan Levy via Decision

Tracy Cortez (10-1) vs Amanda Ribas (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight scrap next. Cortez is on a ten-fight win streak, including a 4-0 run in the UFC with decision wins over Vanessa Melo, Stephanie Egger, Justine Kish and most recently Melissa Gatto. Ribas is 2-2 in her last four, alternating wins and losses against Paige VanZant (UFC 251), Marina Rodriguez (UFC 257), Virna Jandiroba (UFC 267) and Katlyn Chookagian most recently.

Cortez is a strong wrestler with dominant positional gains and some okay striking to open up those opportunities and a decent submission game from the mat. Ribas on the other hand likes to strike on the feet with her clinch game being strong, but her defence is poor. Her jiu-jitsu on the mat is excellent though, as her four submission wins show. This is all about who can take control of the octagon and force the other fighter backwards.

That leans me towards Cortez, because she’s the better wrestler by far and the one with the better gas tank. Ribas may think she can catch an armbar from the bottom and instead of working to get up stay there, but Cortez is very good defensively and with a mix of decent strikes, lots of takedowns and decent damage on the mat, she should do enough to get the decision win.
PICK – Tracy Cortez via Decision

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, and after starting with the early prelims section of the card and moving on to the rest of our prelims picks, here are our main card picks.


Jack Della Maddalena (12-2) vs Danny Roberts (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night opens up the main card here. Maddalena is on a 12-fight win streak after losing his first two professional bouts, earning first-round knockouts over Pete Rodriguez (UFC 270) and Ramazan Emeev (UFC 275) to date in the UFC. Roberts returned from a two-year layoff to defeat Emeev back in October 2021, but lost to Francisco Trinaldo at UFC 274 via decision last time out.

Maddalena is a tremendous boxer with unbelievable power in his hands, earning 11 finishes in his last 12 fights which were all victories. He’s got an excellent kicking game too, to go with a pressure that exhausts his opponents. Roberts is a decent kickboxer himself too, but he has a lack of volume. He usually makes up for that with his decent wrestling game though, and his grappling is decent too earning him five tap out wins in the past.

But this seems like a bit of a set up fight for Maddalena. Roberts is a fighter who always brings it, and his name is probably bigger than his abilities. Maddalena is going to push forward, land lots of power shots and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see him just melt Roberts as the fight goes on before landing a nasty shot to earn the win.
PICK – Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout, Round 2

Andre Fialho (16-5) vs Muslim Salikhov (18-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Another really exciting welterweight scrap up next between two guys who love to strike. Fialho is 2-2 in the UFC, losing to Michel Pereira (UFC 270) before knocking out Miguel Baeza and Cameron VanCamp (UFC 274). He was KO’d himself last time out though by Jake Matthews at UFC 275. Salikhov saw a five-fight win streak snapped last time out against Li Jingliang, with “The Leech” KO’ing him with strikes in the second round.

Fialho is a powerful boxer, who walks forward like Terminator and lands lots of power shots while being willing to take some of his own too. There is a decent kicking game in him too, but his game leans quite heavily on his boxing skills. Salikhov is a sambo world champion, with phenomenal kung-fu skills including spinning attacks and distance management. He lacks real power in those strikes though, without a KO win since 2019.

This is a battle of technique vs power, but on this occasion I expect power to come out on top. Fialho isn’t short of technique and after Salikhov got put out last time out, he’ll want to test the chin. Fialho is likely to come forward and close the distance to limit the kicks of Salikhov and eventually I expect him to back him against the cage and start landing big shots before the referee steps in.
PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 2

Chase Sherman (16-10) vs Waldo Cortes-Acosta (8-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big boys step up to the plate once again in this one in an interesting fight. Sherman has lost four of his last five, snapping a losing streak by claiming a KO win over Jared Vanderaa most recently back in July. Cortes-Acosta made his UFC debut just a couple of weeks ago, beating Vanderaa too via unanimous decision.

Both of these guys are your typical heavyweight scrappers, with Sherman having a decent leg kick to go with his overhand right while Cortes-Acosta is simply a boxer in an MMA cage. Sherman is also good with his elbows and his cardio is decent, but Cortes-Acosta definitely has the power edge here.

Neither of these guys are tearing up any trees in the UFC any time soon, but the low kicks are almost certainly going to play a big part here. Cortes-Acosta has good combinations with his striking and decent body work, but the experience of Sherman added on to those leg kicks means he should claim the win.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision



Kennedy Nzechukwu (10-3) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-8-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Fun light heavyweight scrap up next in the co-main event. Nzechukwu is 2-2 in his last four with knockout wins over Danilo Marques and Karl Roberson either side of defeats to Da Un Jung and Nicolae Negemereanu. Cutelaba has just one win in his last six (1-4-1), losing each of his last two via submission to Ryan Spann and Johnny Walker most recently.

Nzechukwu is a pressure fighter with good Muay-Thai skills in the clinch and big power in his hands, but his takedown defence leaves plenty to be desired and is a big hole in his game. Cutelaba alternatively is a seriously impressive wrestler with scary power in his hands, but absolutely no fight IQ whatsoever and a lack of ability to pace himself while going in with crazy aggression. Both of these fighters have flaws where the other has strengths, which makes this a hard fight to pick.

Cutelaba has just struggled once too many in fights that he’s supposed to win for me to pick him. He has the big advantage in wrestling for sure, but his will to always go at 100 mph means if he doesn’t get it done early then he will burn out. Nzechukwu may not be able to cope with the early blitz, but his ability to be able to push a pace and retain his power late leads me to think he survives that initial blast from “Hulk” and puts him away later in the bout with combinations against the cage.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Knockout, Round 3

Derrick Lewis (26-10) vs Serghei Spivac (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights step up in the main event of this one as they look to put together a run for a potential title run in 2023. Lewis has lost three of his last four, getting KO’d by Ciryl Gane (UFC 265), Tai Tuivasa (UFC 271) and Sergei Pavlovich (UFC 277) with a KO win of his own against Chris Daukaus coming in the middle of that. Spivac on the other hand has won his last two after defeat to Tom Aspinall, KO’ing Greg Hardy and UFC 272 before a KO win against Augusto Sakai most recently in August.

Lewis is the scariest puncher in UFC history, with the record for the most knockout wins in the organisation’s history. He has also got much improved takedown defence in recent years, although his chin isn’t great and his cardio still lets him down at times. Spivac is a grappler who looks to wrestle and use his size to wear on his opponents although his striking has been improving in recent bouts, but he will almost certainly reset to default here.

The blueprint to beat Lewis has been there for years – take him down or overwhelm him with volume. Spivac is capable of doing both of those things, but he’s never fought someone who can put his lights out with one punch like Lewis can. He will know that Spivac wants to take him down and much like when he fought Curtis Blaydes, he will be loading up that uppercut. He’s never fought a five-round bout before and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spivac just wrestle and grapple for 25 minutes, I think Lewis gets back in the win column with a nasty knockout early on.
PICK – Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks 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 our prelims picks.


Vince Morales (11-6) vs Miles Johns (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweight banger up next in this section of the card. Morales saw a two-fight win streak over Drako Rodriguez (UFC 265) and Louis Smolka (UFC Vegas 44) snapped last time out when Jonathan Martinez claimed a decision win. Johns on the other hand was in the same boat, KO’ing Kevin Natividad (UFC Vegas 12) and Anderson Dos Santos (UFC 265) before being submitted by Jonathan Castaneda last time out. Johns steps in on just two weeks’ notice for this bout.

Morales is a boxing-heavy fighter with a demonic right hand that can turn the lights out with ease, but his grappling game needs work and that could be a problem here. That’s because while Johns is a decent striker, he’s at his best when mixing in takedowns and wrestling to grind his opponents out and make them work.

If Johns turns up fully focused and in good condition then his ability to mix things up and make Morales think should win him the bout. There is every chance that Morales catches him and claims a big win too, but with only one knockout win since February 2018 I’ll go with Johns to outwork him and claim the win.
PICK – Miles Johns via Decision

Jennifer Maia (19-9-1) vs Maryna Moroz (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight between the only other ranked fighter on the card outside the main event and a woman on a great winning streak. Maia has lost three of her last four, with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC 264) followed up with back-to-back defeats against Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Vegas 46) and Manon Fiorot most recently. Moroz has won three-in-a-row, with a second-round submission over Mariya Agapova most recently at UFC 272.

Maia, like her male namesake, is a fighter who excels in the world of jiu-jitsu but has limited striking and her takedown game needs improvement. Just like each of her most recent opponents, Moroz is a volume striker who has good distance management, decent power and a solid gas tank. Maia’s wrestling is better than anything Moroz has faced previously, but she is still physically bigger and more active.

Her movement should see her avoid being back up against the cage where the takedowns will be most effective, and if she can strike consistently and stay out of danger like Chookagian and Fiorot before her then this should be a pretty comfortable win in a rather uneventful bout.
PICK – Maryna Moroz via Decision



Charles Johnson (11-3) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Featured prelim bout up next in the flyweight division. Johnson made his UFC debut last time out in London and suffered a dominant and demoralising defeat via decision to star prospect Muhammad Mokaev. Zhumagulov has lost four of his last five, including each of his last two against Manel Kape (UFC Vegas 44) and most recently Jeff Molina back in June.

Johnson is a solid wrestler who is always at his best when he can get top control and grind his opponents out with some ground and pound and submission threats, earning four finishes via each method in the past. Zhumagulov is also someone who looks to wrestle, but his takedowns tend to come against the cage while his kickboxing is wild and reckless. Bad judging has cost him in recent fights, but this bout isn’t in his favour at all.

“InnerG” has the gas tank for five rounds and is sometimes at his best in that environment, but that should allow him to really empty the tank here and push hard. He’s also bigger, stronger and the better wrestler so he should be able to claim a pretty dominant win and send Zhumagulov out of the UFC.
PICK – Charles Johnson via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 65: Lewis vs Spivac – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas after a stunning pay-per-view card last weekend for two heavyweight scrappers as Derrick Lewis takes on Serghei Spivac in the main event.

The number seven and number 12 ranked big men in the UFC go head-to-head in this headline clash, with both guys knowing a win puts them on track to get into title contention during 2023.

It’s a fun card with a few debuts and some sleeper fights, so be sure not to miss it.

Last weekend at UFC 281 we went 10/14 with one perfect pick to move to 776/1202 (64.56%) with 320 perfect picks (41.24%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims section of the card.


Natalia Silva (13-5-1) vs Tereza Bleda (6-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Women’s flyweights open up the card here in an interesting bout. Silva made a winning debut in the UFC in her last bout, claiming a unanimous decision win over Jasmine Jasudavicius back in June, while Bleda makes her debut in the organisation after winning a contract on the Contender Series in September.

Silva is a rapid striker, with decent power and snap to her kicks and punches in bunches, and excellent volume to boot. Bleda is a suffocating grappler who is able to chain takedowns together and control opponents, and at only 20 years old the world is truly her oyster. This is a tough bout for her though, because all her weaknesses seem to lie where Silva’s strengths are.

Bleda is quite flat-footed on the feet and she tends to be quite open to kicks, which is Silva’s wheelhouse. With her last fight being against a more experienced version of Bleda (albeit a talent with a lower ceiling), she should be able to land flurries from range and push the pace enough to claim a decision win.
PICK – Natalia Silva via Decision

Brady Hiestand (6-2) vs Fernie Garcia (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweights up next in fun fight. Hiestand’s UFC debut ended in defeat when he dropped a split decision to TUF champion Ricky Turcios back in August 2021, while Garcia earned a UFC contract with a KO win on the Contender Series before losing his debut in a decision loss to Journey Newson at UFC 274.

Hiestand is a decent striker with good power, but it’s his wrestling and takedown game that have stood him out throughout his career thus far. Garcia is a power puncher with good combinations on the feet, but he has struggled with pressure coming back his way and with keeping his fights standing against better opposition. That all adds up to a tough night at the office.

“Bam Bam” must ensure that he doesn’t have the same cardio issues in this fight as he has done in the past, but with Garcia lacking genuine one-punch KO power he should be able to close the distance quickly and secure takedowns for top control and a relatively comfortable win.
PICK – Brady Hiestand via Decision



Vanessa Demopolous (8-4) vs Maria Oliveira (13-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweights up next in another interesting bout. Demopolous has won her last two in the UFC, submitting Silvana Gomez Juarez at UFC 270 before earning a decision win over Jinh Yu Frey most recently. Oliveira has gone 1-1 in the UFC to date, losing her debut via decision against Tabatha Ricci before earning a win last time out against Gloria De Paula via split decision.

Demopolous is at her best when he’s grappling with an opponent, but getting it to the ground has been an issue in the past with bang average wrestling and even worse striking, which can be described as basic at best. Oliveira is a powerhouse who looks to push forward and cause chaos to then catch her opponent out, earning seven KO career wins so far. But she has a reckless abandon for defence, especially to takedowns, and eventually she’s going to end up on her back here.

With that said, Demopolous has to stay out of danger while the fight is on the feet or she could get clipped big. “Lil Monster” should have enough about her with her height and reach advantage and a gas tank that has never let her down to be able to get Oliveira on her back, and then it’s just a matter of time.
PICK – Vanessa Demopolous via Submission, Round 2

Ricky Turcios (12-3) vs Kevin Natividad (9-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

TUF champion back in the octagon in this one. Turcios won the show with a split decision win over Brady Hiestand, but then lost his last bout via decision against Aiemann Zahabi back in July. Natividad on the other hand is 0-2 in the UFC so far, getting KO’d in his debut by Miles Johns at UFC Vegas 12 before getting KO’d by Batgerel Danaa at UFC 261 most recently in the first round. This is first fight in 18 months.

Turcios is a fighter whose greatest attribute is his heart, with a love for chaos and a phenomenal gas tank to go with a remarkable ability to scramble to his feet whenever he needs to. Natividad has made his name as a power puncher who doesn’t like to take a step back, with five KO’s in his career so far. There is a clear blueprint to beating Turcios, as shown in his last fight, but Natividad is just not that guy.

“Quicksand” is going to do what he always does, come forward looking for that one big strike and mix his wrestling in to open up the striking. Turcios will love that as he will look to pick Natividad off from range with kicks and flurries, and avoiding being controlled on the mat. it will be chaotic and wild, but expect Turcios’ volume to be enough to get the job done.
PICK – Ricky Turcios via Decision

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the mecca of combat sports for UFC 281 when Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight crown against long-time rival Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden.

The two kickboxing rivals will go toe-to-toe in the octagon to see who is MMA’s best middleweight in the headline fight of the card, but is supported by one of the most stacked cards of the year.

In the co-main event we have the strawweight title on the line as Carla Esparza makes her first defence against former champion Weili Zhang, while Dustin Poirier will meet Michael Chandler in a lightweight war and Frankie Edgar has his retirement bout among other things.

Last week at UFC Vegas 64 we had a rough time with our picks going 6/11 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 766/1188 (64.48%) with 319 perfect picks (41.64%). 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 selecting the rest of the prelims, we move on to the main card here.


Dan Hooker (21-12) vs Claudio Puelles (13-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun lightweight fight up next. Hooker is currently in freefall, losing four of his last five across two weight divisions. He dropped first round finishes to Michael Chandler (UFC 257), Islam Makhachev (UFC 267) and Arnold Allen (UFC London) most recently, but did claim a decision win over Nasray Haqparast at UFC 266. Puelles on the other hand has won his last five in a row, including each of his last two via kneebar against Chris Gruetzemacher (UFC Vegas 44) and Clay Guida most recently.

Hooker is a very technical striker with excellent range and kicks, as well as great durability on the feet despite the first-round finishes recently. He’s a good boxer, has good power and an amazing gas tank, so can cause anyone problems on his day. Puelles on the other hand is a superb jiu-jitsu practitioner who wants this fight on the ground by any means necessary. That will be hard because his wrestling isn’t the best and Hooker’s takedown defence is usually very good.

Hooker has more paths to victory in this fight. He’s the better striker by a distance, has more varied attacks and has the defence to nullify Puelles’ best attacks. But he’s been in freefall for a while now and if he isn’t the fighter he once was, he’ll get beaten here. I do expect that he’ll be able to do what he does best though, and that’s force a high-pace kickboxing fight. I saw enough against Haqparast that he’s still got something to give to the division, just not against the very top guys, and Puelles isn’t that yet.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Decision

Frankie Edgar (23-10-1) vs Chris Gutierrez (18-3-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A retirement fight in his back yard, this is Edgar’s farewell. He’s coming into this off the back of four defeats in his last five, with nasty KO losses against Cory Sandhagen (UFC Vegas 18) and Marlon Vera (UFC 268) in his last two bouts. Gutierrez has won six of his last seven, with a draw against Cody Durden stopping it being a 7-fight win streak. He has beaten Andre Ewell (UFC 258), Felipe Colares and Batgerel Danaa via KO in his most recent fights.

Edgar is one of the most well-rounded fighters in UFC history, but his wrestling has always been his bread and butter and where he has the most success. Mix that in with unbelievable heart and durability, and Edgar is a future hall of famer. Gutierrez on the other hand is a violent striker with vicious Muay-Thai and incredible kicks to go with a destructive right hand. He will kick the living daylights out of Edgar’s lead leg. Guaranteed.

It’s all about if Edgar can cope with that. My guess is he can’t. He’s been out for a year after back-to-back violent KO’s and that legendary chin has left him. He knows he’s retiring after this bout, and this is a hungry Gutierrez who as all the tools to send the crowd home unhappy. Edgar’s done and he knows it, this is a passing of the torch moment.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Decision

Dustin Poirier (28-7) vs Michael Chandler (23-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Fight of the night right here, and maybe even fight of the year. Poirier is 3-2 in his last five, with those defeats coming in title fights to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira (UFC 269) via submission. He beat Dan Hooker (UFC Vegas 4) and Conor McGregor twice (UFC 257 and UFC 264) to earn those positions. Chandler on the other hand is 2-2 in the UFC with violent KO’s against Hooker and Tony Ferguson most recently, while he was beaten by Oliveira for the belt (UFC 262) and Justin Gaethje in an unbelievable fight (UFC 268).

Poirier is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC with excellent boxing skills and some good wrestling too, but he also has great power and a phenomenal gas tank to work with. Chandler is one of the better wrestlers in the division with a solid double leg takedown, but he also has tremendous power and durability too as shown against Gaethje in their war. This is going to be explosive, but I think Poirier has the edge pretty much everywhere.

He’s more powerful, has more volume, better accuracy and more variety to his game. He’s more than good enough when wrestling defensively to deal with that, and his combinations will do real damage to Chandler’s chin, where he usually takes the one big haymaker well. It will be fast paced and could well go the distance, but I think “The Diamond” makes a statement with this one.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Knockout, Round 2



Carla Esparza (20-6) vs Weili Zhang (22-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweight title fight up next in the co-main event. Esparza has won six in a row, winning the title at UFC 274 in one of the worst fights of all time against Rose Namajunas. Zhang bounced back after consecutive losses to Namajunas (UFC 261 & UFC 268) with a stunning KO win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their hotly anticipated rematch at UFC 275 to get another title shot.

Esparza is a wrestler, who tends to throw potshots in the hope of a reaction before shooting for the takedown and controlling her opponent on the mat. Zhang on the other hand is an absolute powerhouse with unbelievable speed and power on the feet, but she’s also a solid wrestler herself with good submission abilities. It’s weird to see the challenger so heavily favoured over the champion, but it’s hard to argue with in this instance.

Zhang has the advantage in all the striking and with physicality, but Esparza is by far and away the best wrestler she will have ever come up against. Esparza is able to be relentless with her attempts over 25 minutes, but Zhang should just be able to overwhelm her and really make a statement. Expect “Magnum” to overcome a slow first round to claim a big KO win in the early rounds.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 2

Israel Adesanya (23-1) vs Alex Pereira (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch years in the making, but in an entirely different sport and with very different stakes. Adesanya is undefeated in the 185-pound division in the UFC, with five successful title defences against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa (UFC 253), Marvin Vettori (UFC 263), Robert Whittaker (UFC 271) and Jared Cannonier (UFC 276). Pereira is 3-0 in the UFC with knockout wins over Andreas Michailidis (UFC 268) and Sean Strickland (UFC 276), plus an impressive decision win over Bruno Silva between those.

Both of these guys are world class, world champion kickboxers who excel in the striking realm. They fought twice previously with Pereira winning both times, once by decision and once by violent knockout. But that second bout was going in Adesanya’s favour until “Poatan” landed that ridiculous left hook of his. The game plan will be similar for both men, stand and strike and prove they’re the best. But in MMA it’s a different animal.

Adesanya will be able to move more with a bigger cage and less sharp corners to be trapped in, while he’s also arguably the better grappler of the two if he wants to throw that in there to catch Pereira off guard. I doubt he will, but he could. I think his speed advantage is the big thing here though. He’s much quicker than Pereira and while the striking exchanges will be close, I expect Izzy will leave more of a lasting impression. His cardio should hold up well too into the latter rounds such is his experience, and I expect he’ll exact his revenge to claim another title fight victory and cement himself as the best in the world.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Decision

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the mecca of combat sports for UFC 281 when Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight crown against long-time rival Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden.

The two kickboxing rivals will go toe-to-toe in the octagon to see who is MMA’s best middleweight in the headline fight of the card, but is supported by one of the most stacked cards of the year.

In the co-main event we have the strawweight title on the line as Carla Esparza makes her first defence against former champion Weili Zhang, while Dustin Poirier will meet Michael Chandler in a lightweight war and Frankie Edgar has his retirement bout among other things.

Last week at UFC Vegas 64 we had a rough time with our picks going 6/11 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 766/1188 (64.48%) with 319 perfect picks (41.64%). 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 prelim section of the card.


Andre Petroski (8-2) vs Wellington Turman (18-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Exciting middleweight scrap up next. Petroski is 3-0 in the UFC after competing on TUF, KO’ing Michael Gillmore before submission wins over Yaozong Hu (UFC 267) and Nick Maximov most recently back in May. Turman is on a two-fight win streak, defeating Sam Alvey and then submitting Misha Cirkunov most recently in February.

Petroski has proven to be an excellent wrestler in this division with some solid submission skills, but he’s also a more technical striker than many though and has good power too. Turman is a bit of a reckless striker with some nasty low kicks, that play perfectly into his world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. The problem he has here is that he’s outmatched pretty much everywhere.

Turman’s best hope of winning is landing a big counter punch that Petroski doesn’t see coming during an exchange or tapping him from his back, and both are very unlikely. Petroski should be able to dominate this fight wherever it goes, and he should be able to claim another finish to keep his run going.
PICK – Andre Petroski via Knockout, Round 2

Erin Blanchfield (9-1) vs Molly McCann (13-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Women’s flyweight bout up next between two ladies on a great run. Blanchfield is undefeated in the UFC with dominant wins over Sarah Alpar, Miranda Maverick (UFC 269) and most recently JJ Aldrich, while McCann has won her last three in a row, including her last two against Luana Carolina and Hannah Goldy via spinning elbow knockout.

Blanchfield is arguably the best wrestler in the division, maybe outside of Valentina Shevchenko and Taila Santos, and that is where this fight will end up if she has her way. She is decent on the feet too, but wrestling will always be her bread and butter. McCann on the other hand is a straight up brawler, with a good boxing background and incredible aggression and durability, but she’s very small for the division. This is a lopsided match up.

McCann has tried to step up her level of competition before and fallen flat on her face, and it’s likely to happen again here. Blanchfield has a six-inch reach advantage which should see her comfortable on the feet, but if it ever gets hairy she’ll get a takedown relatively easily and maul “Meatball” on the mat for a dominant decision win.
PICK – Erin Blanchfield via Decision



Dominick Reyes (12-3) vs Ryan Spann (20-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The return of “The Devastator” up next. Reyes arguably beat Jon Jones in their title fight back at UFC 247 but ultimately lost on the cards and was since KO’d by Jan Blachowicz (UFC 257) and Jiri Prochazka (UFC Vegas 25) in subsequent bouts. Spann got dominated by Anthony Smith in his first main event back in September 2021, but bounced back with a submission win of his own over Ion Cutelaba most recently back in May.

Reyes is a boxing specialist with a piston-like left hand and nasty body kicks to go with amazing durability and decent wrestling chops too. Spann is a decent wrestler himself but he has tremendous submission skills, earning 12 of his 17 finish wins via tap out. His striking however is bang average and with a lack of head movement to go with Reyes’ excellent takedown defence, this is his fight to lose.

Spann isn’t the most durable guy and he has a tendency to panic when faced with adversity. Reyes has the ability to put the pressure on early and has great accuracy with his left-hand that can put people out. He was able to keep up with Prochazka until his brains got scrambled, so if he can do that here he should be the one on the end of a big knockout win.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2

Brad Riddell (10-3) vs Renato Moicano (16-5-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Lightweight banger in the featured prelims slot up next. Riddell was on a great run before getting stopped by Rafael Fiziev at UFC Vegas 44, and was since submitted by Jalin Turner at UFC 276 in just 45 seconds. Moicano stopped Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271 with a rear-naked choke but stepped in on super short notice at UFC 272 to face Rafael Dos Anjos and got dominated for 25 minutes in his last bout.

Riddell is a stunning kickboxer, with unbelievable technique and decent power to go with a relentless volume, but his durability has taken a downward turn in recent bouts. Moicano is a superbly well-rounded fighter too with great striking and world class jiu-jitsu skills, with wrestling skills that help him implement that submission game. This is a mixed bag and could go one of two ways.

Moicano has the ability to get this fight to the ground quickly and work his submission game, which is relentless and almost certainly too much for Riddell to handle. But if he is able to survive the early round, his pressure and power is likely to overwhelm Moicano and he should be the one getting his hand raised. It’s a tough one to call, but momentum is on the Brazilian’s side and he’s also able to hold his own on the feet, so I think Moicano gets it done early by taking the back and getting a choke.
PICK – Renato Moicano via Submission, Round 1

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the mecca of combat sports for UFC 281 when Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight crown against long-time rival Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden.

The two kickboxing rivals will go toe-to-toe in the octagon to see who is MMA’s best middleweight in the headline fight of the card, but is supported by one of the most stacked cards of the year.

In the co-main event we have the strawweight title on the line as Carla Esparza makes her first defence against former champion Weili Zhang, while Dustin Poirier will meet Michael Chandler in a lightweight war and Frankie Edgar has his retirement bout among other things.

Last week at UFC Vegas 64 we had a rough time with our picks going 6/11 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 766/1188 (64.48%) with 319 perfect picks (41.64%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Carlos Ulberg (7-1) vs Nicolae Negumereanu (13-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A banger at light heavyweight opens up this card this weekend. Ulberg is a world class kickboxer who has gone 2-1 in the UFC, losing his debut to Kennedy Nzechukwu (UFC 259) before bouncing back with a win over Fabio Cherant (UFC 271) and then most recently beating Tafon Nchukwi in June. Negumereanu is on a four-fight win streak, defeating Aleksa Camur (UFC Vegas 29), Isaac Villanueva, Nzechukwu and Ihor Potieria.

Ulberg is a super speedy, powerful striker with perfect technique and combinations that can put anyone in the division out. Negumereanu is a relentless pressure fighter who likes to chain wrestle to gain top control, and isn’t afraid to eat a strike to get that control. It’s an interesting clash of styles, because outside of that cardio tank Ulberg should have all the technical advantages.

He showed against Cherant that he’s capable of defending a takedown and using his size advantage to just rack up points for the judges, but Cherant doesn’t chain the wrestling together much. That is likely to wear on the gas tank of Ulberg which could affect the power and takedown defence. If he doesn’t get his jaw smoked in the opening round, I think Negumereanu takes over down the stretch and wins on the cards.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Decision

Julio Arce (18-5) vs Montel Jackson (11-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweights up next. Arce has alternated wins and losses in his last five, claiming a decision win over Daniel Santos most recently at UFC 273 back in April. Jackson on the other hand has won his last two, KO’ing Jesse Strader (UFC Vegas 22) before a decision win over JP Buys back in September 2021 last time out.

Arce is a super well-rounded fighter with good technical skills, but his stand-out attribute is his heart and durability. He’ll need that all against Jackson, who is one of the bigger 135-pounders in the division and packs the power to shut your lights out early. The best way to stop Jackson is seemingly to take him down and have him on his back, where he isn’t useless but is certainly nullified and his threat diffused.

Unfortunately for Arce, wrestling isn’t his strong suit and control isn’t his game. He’ll likely try to keep on his bike and land his jab and low kicks while avoiding the power, which is possible, but Jackson is used to that type of fight and his left hand is like a piston, so I do think he could land a knockout blow in front of the MSG crowd.
PICK – Montel Jackson via Knockout, Round 2

Mike Trizano (10-3) vs SeungWoo Choi (10-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Featherweights next in an interesting bout. Trizano returned from a two year hiatus to beat Ludovit Klein on short notice at UFC Vegas 26, but has since lost two in a row against Hakeem Dawodu and Lucas Almeida. Choi saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Alex Caceres, and then he dropped a split decision to Josh Culibao at UFC 275 to make it back-to-back losses coming into this one.

Both of these fighters are well-rounded with little that stands out above the rest, but Trizano has got a huge experience edge in this bout. He does often fail to pull the trigger when necessary though which is a problem, and Choi is a powerful puncher who loves his combinations. He leaves himself open defensively when throwing though, and that could leave Trizano with a window to attack.

It’s all about whether Trizano can survive the blitzes and land his own counters, or if he shells up and just gets hit. I’m going to lean on his experience and say that he won’t let the occasion get to him, meaning he lands enough counters and mixes his attack up well enough to earn a win on the cards.
PICK – Mike Trizano via Decision



Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13-7) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (11-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Interesting strawweight scrap up next. Kowalkiewicz had lost five in a row heading into her last bout, but she finally got a win over Felice Herrig via submission to get her career back on track. Juarez lost her first two UFC bouts via first-round submission, but claimed a first-round knockout last time out over Nia Lang at UFC 275.

Kowalkiewicz is a well-rounded fighter who was one of the better kickboxers in her division before her skid, but looked back to her old ways last time out with solid knees in the clinch and a decent ground game too. Juarez alternatively is a bulldozer, with incredible power for the weight division and aggression for days. Grappling has been a big weakness of hers though, but Kowalkiewicz is unlikely to adopt a wrestle-heavy game plan.

That means they’ll likely go strike for strike, and with Koawlkiewicz’s tendency to stand up straight with her chin exposed that’s not ideal. Juarez is more than powerful enough and fast enough to land a heavy right hand in an exchange to put her out, and I expect that is exactly what will happen.
PICK – Silvana Gomez Juarez via Knockout, Round 1

Matt Frevola (9-3-1) vs Ottman Azaitar (13-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very intriguing lightweight scrap closes out this portion of the show. Frevola is 3-3-1 in the UFC since 2018, going 1-2 in his most recent bouts. He was beaten by Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 257, KO’d in seven seconds by Terrance McKinney at UFC 263, but bounced back with a first-round KO win over Genaro Valdez at UFC 270. Azaitar makes his first appearance for two years, with a KO win over Khama Worthy back at UFC Vegas 10.

Frevola’s nickname is “The Steamrolla” and it fits him perfectly, with his incredible aggression and cardio allowing him to push a hard pace and push for finishes. Azaitar alternatively is a super powerful striker with nasty knockout power, but his cardio isn’t the greatest and he’s coming off a long layoff. It’s hard to ignore, especially when you figure it was enforced due to a positive drug test and Frevola is easily the best fighter he’s come up against.

Frevola will certainly want to earn his respect on the feet, but he must stay patient and grind away before really going for it as Azaitar has the ability to put him out with one shot. If he grinds away, does damage and avoids the hail Mary strike, he should be able to take over later in the fight and earn a stoppage win to really get his name out there.
PICK – Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 64: Rodriguez vs Lemos – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a big women’s flyweight main event between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos.

The two ranked contenders will be looking to earn victory in the five-round headliner with an eye on a future title shot in 2023.

There are other big names on the card including Neil Magny, Daniel Rodriguez and Miranda Maverick.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 63 it wasn’t the best card, but we went 7/11 with two perfect picks to move to 760/1177 (64.57%) with 319 perfect picks (41.97%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, then moving on to the rest of the prelim section of the card, here are our main card picks.

Grant Dawson (18-1-1) vs Mark O Madsen (12-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Very interesting lightweight scrap up first on the main card. Dawson is unbeaten in his last ten with a record of 9-0-1, earning a submission win over Jared Gordon last time out following a majority draw with Ricky Glenn in his prior bout. Madsen is an undefeated MMA fighter, having transitioned from Olympic wrestling in a dominant fashion with victories over Clay Guida and Vinc Pichel as his last two opponents.

Dawson is a super talented wrestler with world class jiu-jitsu skills and great power in his hands, making him a real threat for any opponent. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler as already mentioned, and he has shown his qualities in that field throughout his short MMA career to date. He’s got decent kickboxing to go with it, but the wrestling is his bread and butter. This is a very interesting match-up between two guys looking to earn a ranking next to their name.

Madsen has the edge in Olympic wrestling, but that’s very different to MMA wrestling and you could argue that Dawson has the edge there. Mix in his advantages in the striking and submission game, he could claim a win here but the short-notice nature of this bout makes it a hard call that could go either way.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Decision

Tagir Ulanbekov (13-2) vs Nate Maness (14-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Super fun flyweight scrap up next. Ulanbekov was on a five-fight win streak before he ran into Tim Elliott last time out, dropping a decision at UFC 272. Maness on the other hand was on a four fight win streak before he ran into Umar Nurmagomedov in his last outing back in June.

Ulanbekov is your typical Dagestani fighter, with incredible chain wrestling and sambo skills to go with a unique striking style that is deceptively effective. Maness is a well-rounded fighter too, showing great ability to take the fight to his opponent wherever it goes and a great durability and toughness too. But just like his bout against Nurmagomedov, this seems like a nasty match-up for him in his new weight division.

Hitting the weight won’t be easy, and if he does make it then expect Ulanbekov to use his pressure an kicks to the body before making him wrestle for 15 minutes in what could be a really long night for Maness.
PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Decision

Chase Sherman (16-10) vs Josh Parisian (15-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights collide next. Sherman has lost four of his last five fights, but claimed a knockout win over Jared Vanderaa in his last outing back in July. Parisian alternatively is 2-2 in his last four, alternating wins and losses with defeats to Parker Porter and Don’Tale Mayes and victories over Roque Martinez and Alan Baudot most recently.

Both of these guys are your typical heavyweight scrappers, with a decent low kick and incredibly powerful overhands and hooks with little else to their game. Parisian has more wrestling in his arsenal too, but he does struggle to get fights to the ground. When he does though, he’s quite dominant in top position.

Sherman has got a decent takedown defence and is the better striker by a decent margin. Both fighters are susceptible to being stopped, but in this one it seems far more likely that Sherman lands big than Parisian does. It won’t be fun while it lasts, but hopefully it won’t last too long anyway.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Knockout, Round 1



Neil Magny (26-10) vs Daniel Rodriguez (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Big time scrap between two ranked welterweights up next. Magny saw a two-fight winning streak after victories over Geoff Neal and Max Griffin snapped by the imperious Shavkat Rakhmonov last time out. Rodriguez made it four wins in a row with a controversial decision win over Li Jingliang at UFC 279 last time out, after the crazy situation that saw three bouts put together on 24 hours notice.

Magny is a solid wrestler. He uses his excellent length and footwork to get his opponents moving and then uses his great wrestling to gain control and tends to ride fights out in that manner. Rodriguez on the other hand is a terrific boxer with some of the best combinations in the division, and his defensive wrestling is pretty good too. His last showing against Jingliang was cause for concern though, because he looked way off it only two months ago.

Magny has the skillset to stifle Rodriguez no doubt, but he’s also struggled against the better opposition in the division. Rodriguez believes he’s up there and his striking should cause Magny big problems if he’s performing the way we know he can. It’s a tough call, but I think D-Rod’s jab and defensive wrestling should be enough to claim victory, but don’t be surprised if Magny outwrestles him for 15 minutes either.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision

Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2) vs Amanda Lemos (12-2-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Women’s strawweight main event up next between two specialist strikers. Rodriguez has won each of her last four in a row with the most recent being a split decision over Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272. Lemos alternatively has won six of her last seven, with a loss to Jessica Andrade the only flaw in the run. She bounced back from that with a submission win over Michelle Waterson most recently.

Rodriguez is a fantastic boxer with terrific combinations and a really nice, long jab. Lemos is far more of a power puncher than Rodriguez, but her technical skills are still there although not quite as refined as Rodriguez’s. Rodriguez’s abilities to work from distance could really work in her favour here, and that’s why she’s my pick.

She’s already proven that going the full 25 minutes is something she can do, and she keeps her gas tank in check and holds her power throughout. Lemos isn’t a grappler despite the submission last time out, and that’s Rodriguez’s biggest weakness. With the match-up as it is, I expect Rodriguez to strike her way to a decision and claim an impressive win and potentially seal the next title shot in the division.
PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Decision