Category Archives: Fight Predictions

Fight Predictions

UFC Fight Island 6: Ortega vs Korean Zombie – Main Card Predictions

The long awaited featherweight clash between Brian Ortega and ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung is finally upon us as the UFC gives us the fourth instalment of the Fight Island series.

The two men will face off in a clash described as a No.1 contender fight by UFC president Dana White, with personal pride as well as a future title shot on the line.

In an 11 fight card that will also see Jessica Andrade move up to strawweight for the first time to take on Katlyn Chookagian, I will break down every fight and give my predictions. I have already predicted the prelims here, and now I’ll take to the main card.

Last week I correctly predicted 8/13 overall with five perfect picks (winner, method, round) although I was wronged by arguably the greatest knockout of all-time for one of them.

MAIN CARD

Thomas Almeida (21-3) vs Jonathan Martinez (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

This one could be fun to open up the main card in the bantamweight division. Thomas Almeida was a 20-0 title contender before he got knocked out by Cody Garbrandt back in 2016 while Jonathan Martinez has had an intriguing run in the UFC so far. Almeida hasn’t fought since January 2018 due to an eye injury but prior to that he had lost three of four while Martinez is currently 3-2 in the UFC including his most recent knockout win over Frankie Saenz back in August. Both guys are Muay-Thai fighters with good hand speed, power and size and it’s a really tough fight to pick. At his best, Almeida would have the advantages but after almost three years away from the cage it’s hard to know what he’s bringing to the fight. Martinez is coming off a big win and he hits hard and accurately so with the likelihood of ring rust coming into play, I’m backing Martinez to take a close decision win.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Unanimous Decision

Claudio Silva (14-1) vs James Krause (27-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Another short notice fight on the card as James Krause saves the day yet again, stepping in with around two weeks notice to take on 38 year old Claudio Silva. Despite his age, he doesn’t have a lot of cage miles on his clock, with Silva fighting just three times since 2014. He’s suffered injuries upon injuries but now looks to win a tenth fight by submission. Silva has zero striking proficiency so Krause should be able to pick him apart there, but Silva has a knack of finding a way to win. Krause is coming off a loss but it’s hard to consider it, since he stepped up to middleweight for the first time ever and lost a split decision on ONE DAYS notice. I think Krause’s striking matched up with his good ground game should see him scrape a close decision.
PICK – James Krause via Unanimous Decision

Jimmy Crute (11-1) vs Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A clash between two future contenders in the light heavyweight division here as Australia’s Jimmy ‘The Brute’ Crute takes on the British-Lithuanian Modestas Bukauskas. Crute will be making his first appearance since February, where he defeated Michael Oleksiujczuk via a kimura in the first round while Bukauskas returns to Fight Island following a successful debut where he knocked out Andreas Michailidis with elbows. Bukauskas is a former British kickboxing champion and showed his striking chops in that debut fight but he also showed that his takedown defence isn’t the greatest. Against a guy stepping up from middleweight, he only just stayed on his feet and Crute is a fierce grappler himself. A natural 205lber, Crute is one of the most well rounded fighters in the division and has the ability to knock people out, out wrestle them and even submit them if necessary. Bukauskas is an impressive prospect for the future but right now he’s not on Crute’s level and the Aussie should be able to get an impressive stoppage win.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Submission, Round 1

Jessica Andrade (20-8) vs Katlyn Chookagian (14-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very, very good fight on the cards here in the women’s flyweight division as the former strawweight champion moves up to take on a former title challenger in the division. Chookagian is a kickboxer who uses her kicks and range to outpoint her opponents as her 11 decision wins shows on her record. Andrade on the other hand is a brawler who is happy to walk through the fire to get her hands on her opponent and be able to drag her down to the mat to use her wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills. She has lost her last two fights though, being knocked out by Weili Zhang and losing out to Rose Namajunas last time out on the judges scorecards. Chookagian has a huge height and reach advantage in the fight so it will suit her style perfectly, but Andrade is just so powerful and durable and will be able to push a pace that Chookagian has never had to keep up before. Andrade is much more likely to finish this fight than win on points which makes her super dangerous throughout and for that reason I think she’ll be able to get the win via stoppage.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Submission, Round 2

Brian Ortega (14-1) vs Korean Zombie (16-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Almost guaranteed to be the fight of the night, this grudge match will surely be a lot of fun. Brian Ortega is making his first appearance since December 2018 where he got absolutely battered by Max Holloway while the Korean Zombie looks to make it three wins in a row after he knocked out Frankie Edgar in December last year. ‘T-City’ stands for ‘Triangle City’ and that nickname is well earned, with Ortega’s jiu-jitsu game among the absolute best in all of MMA, while Zombie lives up to his nickname too with a kill or be killed style that has seen him destroy so many opponents in violent fashion. When Ortega tried to stand and bang with Holloway he ended up with a broken orbital bone, nose and hand and Holloway doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Zombie does. Chan Sung Jung is also not a slouch when it comes to grappling. He has submission wins via twister and d’arce chokes while his takedown defence is among the best in the division too. Overall, Ortega needs Zombie to make a mistake for him to win this fight. Zombie is too powerful and too well rounded and I think he may be able to get himself a knockout win if he lands heavy on the chin of ‘T-City’.
PICK – Korean Zombie via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Fight Island 6: Ortega vs Korean Zombie – Prelims Predictions

The long awaited featherweight clash between Brian Ortega and ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung is finally upon us as the UFC gives us the fourth instalment of the Fight Island series.

The two men will face off in a clash described as a No.1 contender fight by UFC president Dana White, with personal pride as well as a future title shot on the line.

In an 11 fight card that will also see Jessica Andrade move up to strawweight for the first time to take on Katlyn Chookagian, I will break down every fight and give my predictions.

Last week I correctly predicted 8/13 overall with five perfect picks (winner, method, round) although I was wronged by arguably the greatest knockout of all-time for one of them.

PRELIMS

Said Nurmagomedov (13-2) vs Mark Striegl (18-2 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting fight to open the card as the brother of UFC lightweight champion Khabib takes on a UFC debutant at bantamweight. Nurmagomedov is a very good striker who is super active with great takedown defence, while Striegl is a Sambo fighter with good wrestling credentials and a really solid submission game. Striegl is undefeated in his last five fights, winning four in a row before a a no contest last time out due to a low blow. Nurmagomedov however lost his last fight via decision to Raoni Barcelos. This fight depends entirely on whether or not Striegl can get it to the ground. Nurmagomedov leaves himself open for takedowns with his vast array of spinning attacks but his defence is very good. He hasn’t fought anyone with a takedown game as good as Striegl’s in the UFC though and has been beaten already after allowing a late takedown last time out. If he can keep it standing, I think he should be able to light Striegl up on the feet to earn himself a decision win.
PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision

Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7) vs Maxim Grishin (30-8-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After a great run between 2011 and July 2020, Maxim Grishin came into the UFC in the heavyweight division to take on Marcin Tybura on short notice and was handily beaten when he couldn’t cope with the sheer size of his opponent. He returns to his natural weight class of 205lbs when he takes on Gadzhimurad Antigulov who looks to snap a three fight losing streak. Antigulov won his first two UFC fights via submission, but was then knocked out in the first round by Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk before being tapped out in the first round by Paul Craig last time out. Grishin is a pretty well rounded fighter, with good grappling defence and much better striking than Antigulov who will simply look to drag this fight to the ground. If Grishin can avoid the initial burst of energy and takedown attempts from Antigulov then he will see him zap all his energy and he’ll become target practice before a stoppage win.
PICK – Maxim Grishin via Knockout, Round 2

Jamie Mullarkey (12-3) vs Fares Ziam (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fight between two fairly young fighters looking to bounce back from a defeat last time out in this bout. Mullarkey made his debut in the organisation back in October 2019 at UFC 243, where he was outclassed by Brad Riddell on the night. Fares Ziam’s debut was on short notice back in September 2019 where he took on Don Madge at UFC 242 and was also just bettered by the better man on the night. Both men have all their wins bar one (11 for Mullarkey and 9 for Ziam) via stoppage so both are capable of finishing the fight but I believe Mullarkey has the edge. He’s a better striker and a more experienced grappler who has fought against better level opposition. For that reason, I expect he’ll be able to catch Ziam with a nice shot and then lay on the ground and pound for the win.
PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 1

Jun Yong Park (11-4) vs John Phillips (22-10 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

This one seems a bit of a mismatch on paper, until you remember that John Phillips has got a stupid amount of knockouts on his record. The Welshman has a staggering 19 KO wins in his career, but that meant nothing in his last bout when he was handsomely destroyed by Khamzat Chimaev. Park himself is a decent boxer but has more than enough wrestling acumen to cause Phillips a lot of issues. He’s 1-1 in the UFC following a defeat to Anthony Hernandez before a win over Marc-Andre Barriault last time out. If Park is silly enough to go to war with Phillips and exchange punches in a phone booth then he’ll get knocked out. If anything else happens, then he should win this comfortably. My bet is he takes the fight down early like Chimaev did and works the Welshman over before sinking in a choke for the win.
PICK – Jun Yong Park via Submission, Round 1

Gillian Robertson (8-4) vs Poliana Botelho (8-2) – (Strawweight/125lbs)

A strawweight bout between two prospects in the division as 25 year old Gillian Robertson looks to make it two wins on the bounce when she takes on Poliana Botelho. Her last fight was a submission win over Courtney Casey back in June. Robertson is a member of the American Top Team and has a fantastic wrestling game that opens up her superb jiu-jitsu. Botelho is a good boxer and has good power in her hands as her six knockout wins show, but she hasn’t fought in over 18 months. She has a very wide stance which could make the takedown hard for Robertson to get and she also has a height and reach advantage. The issue is she prefers for a big punch rather than to pop her jab and throw combinations, so I think Robertson should be able to slip the power shots and secure a takedown on an off-balance Botelho before putting her ground work in and securing a submission win.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1

Mateusz Gamrot (17-0 1NC) vs Guram Kutateladze (11-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

After watching his teammate Khamzat Chimaev take the UFC by storm on Fight Island back in July, Guram Kutateladze steps in on a little over a week’s notice to take on undefeated Pole and former KSW featherweight and lightweight double champ Mateusz Gamrot. Gamrot is a very intelligent fighter who has power in his hands but tends to lean more on his wrestling and submission skills to finish fights, while Kutateladze is a Muay-Thai fighter with exceptional striking skills. The Georgian has the speed and power advantage on the feet but his grappling leaves plenty to be desired. Unless he has developed some new wrestling defence techniques, I expect Gamrot to take him down and control him against the fence for a comfortable decision win in his UFC debut.
PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.

Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.

It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go. I’ve already predicted the early prelims of the card here and predicted the prelims of the card here.

Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.

MAIN CARD

Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs Illia Topuria (8-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Youssef Zalal makes his fourth appearance of 2020 and looks to go 4-0 against the undefeated debutant in Illia Topuria. Zalal is a great kickboxer and show his well-rounded skills in his wins over Austin Lingo, Jordan Griffin and Peter Barrett. Topuria on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who is all about the choke as his record shows. Seven wins from his eight have come via submission showing that if the fight goes to the ground he is in his element. His trouble will be that Zalal has proven he manages distance so well so far throughout his UFC career and his striking is on another level to that of Topuria. He hasn’t got the knockout power to end the fight with one punch which will give the Spaniard hope but overall I think Zalal keeps the fight standing to outscore his opponent with the judges.
PICK – Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision

Alan Baudot (8-1) vs Tom Aspinall (8-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A big heavyweight clash between two up and comers in the UFC as debutant Alan Baudot takes on the UK’s Tom Aspinall looking for his second win in a row. Aspinall fought back in July on Fight Island and knocked out Jake Collier in just 45 seconds. He is an ex-professional boxer with crazy power in his hands and big things are expected of him in the UFC. Alan Baudot is making the step up to heavyweight for this one, with his entire career prior to this taking place at 205lbs. Neither man have ever seen the judges scorecards in a fight and I think it’s safe to say that continues here. Baudot is a fast and accurate striker but defensively he’s questionable. Against guys his own size he can get away with it but in the UFC against a striker as lethal as Aspinall, it only goes one way.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1

Markus Perez (12-3) vs Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An clash between a veteran and a true blue-chip prospect at middleweight as Markus Perez looks to bounce back from a defeat in his last outing against short-notice step in Dricus Du Plessis. Perez is an explosive striker on the feet but also a very ample technician on the mat, as his six submission wins show. Du Plessis though is one of the best middleweights outside of the UFC prior to this fight and has held the KSW middleweight title. The South African is aggressive, athletic and capable wherever the fight may go. More to the point, he is a finisher. He’s never seen the judges scorecards in a fight before and is always a threat. Neither fighter has fought this year but I think Du Plessis has a big chance to make a name for himself here. He has the power, the athleticism and the fight IQ to cause Perez problems and potentially even score the finish.
PICK – Dricus Du Plessis via Submission, Round 2

Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs Marcin Tybura (19-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are back in action on Fight Island as two UFC veterans face off in the heavyweight division. Rothwell is coming off two wins in a row, knocking out Stefan Struve before taking a decision win over Ovince St. Preux in May. Marcin Tybura is also coming off back-to-back wins, beating both Sergey Spivak and Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision. Rothwell is 50 fights and 21 years deep into his career at this point so we know what to expect. He is a powerful puncher with deceptively fast hands and has a great choke game, while Tybura is a fighter who looks to take his opponent down and grind out wins from top position. Rothwell is the bigger puncher in this fight and if Tybura mistimes a takedown, Rothwell is more than capable of taking his neck and wrapping this fight up quickly.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 2

Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) vs Edson Barboza (20-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

This will be one hell of a fight. ‘Mr. Finland’ has won four of his last six fights including his last bout against Danny Henry back in July, while somehow Edson Barboza has lost five of his last six. That includes his move down to featherweight, where he lost a razor close decision to Dan Ige last time out. Amirkhani is a submission specialist, with 11 of his career wins coming via tap-out. Barboza on the other hand is one of the best strikers the sport has ever seen. If you’re in any way a fan of MMA, you’ve probably seen his spinning wheel kick knockout win over Terry Etim. His wrestling defence is sublime but in recent fights he’s been overpowered. The Paul Felder fight could have gone either way as could the Dan Ige fight, so the record looks much worse than it actually is. This will be Amirkhani’s toughest test yet, and on short notice, is a big ask. Barboza knocked out Beneil Dariush in 2017 who has a similar submission heavy style, so with short notice and power on his side, I think Barboza gets back in the win column in this fight.
PICK – Edson Barboza via Knockout, Round 2

Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs Cory Sandhagen (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The main event is one of the best match-ups in the bantamweight division and could have title implications. Marlon Moraes was in title contention and even took on Henry Cejudo for the vacant title after TJ Dillashsaw vacated, and dominated the opening round. He gassed out after the first round though looking for a finish and Cejudo turned it around and got the knockout win himself. He then took on Jose Aldo and while many believed he lost the fight, the judges gave him the win. Cory Sandhagen was on the title hunt too before his fight with Aljamain Sterling went as badly as possible when he was choked unconscious back in June at UFC 250 in under 90 seconds. He is a stud wrestler with good hands and submission skills and will be looking to get back into the win column. Moraes is a Muay Thai black belt who loves to throw leg kicks, head kicks and can switch stances. It’s a tough fight in general because Sandhagen definitely has the advantage on the ground, but he has to get it there. Moraes has a good wrestling defence and the experience of a five round fight. While he struggled with the pace agains Cejudo and Aldo, if he can iron that out I expect him to get the win here.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Prelims Predictions

The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.

Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.

It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go. I’ve already predicted the early prelims of the card here.

Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.

PRELIMS

Ali AlQaisi (8-4) vs Tony Kelley (6-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

After a five-fight win streak to enter the UFC, Ali AlQaisi dropped a decision in his UFC debut back in August against Irwin Rivera. Kelley made his UFC debut in August also, following a win after a three year layoff. He took on Kai Kamaka III and was also beaten via decision, but that bout came at featherweight. With a cut down to bantamweight, the big question mark for this fight is whether or not his gas tank holds up. Other than that, Kelley outclasses AlQaisi in every aspect of the fight so if the weight cut goes well I expect a comfortable victory for the Team AlphaMale fighter.
PICK – Tony Kelley via Unanimous Decision

Impa Kasangnay (8-0) vs Joaquin Buckley (10-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Two Contender Series products coming off quick turnarounds of differing fortunes from their UFC debuts. Kasanganay fought Maki Pitolo just two weeks after his win on the Contender Series and outclassed his opponent to a decision win on his debut. Buckley didn’t have such luck, taking on Kevin Holland just a week after his Contender Series win but suffering a knockout loss in the third round. It’s an interesting bout because of these guys have explosive power and good movement, but Kasanganay just has a bit more to his game. He’s got the length advantage and a great jab and he’s a naturally bigger guy too with Buckley fighting a lot of his career at 170lbs. Overall it will be a fun watch but I’m backing Kasanganay to take the decision.
PICK – Impa Kasanganay via Unanimous Decision

Rodrigo Nascimento (8-0) vs Chris Daukaus (9-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Right, fireworks time. The big boys face off in this bout as Chris Daukaus returns to the octagon following his knockout win back at UFC 252 against Parker Porter, while Rodrigo Nascimento also looks for back-to-back wins following his submission win against Don’Tale Mayes in May. Daukaus is a mobile boxer, despite his physique, and has tremendous hand speed to go with his power. Nascimento though, is a stud grappler who can throw hands and has a chin too. If the fight stays on the feet, Daukaus has the advantage but the likelihood is that it won’t stay there for long enough for that to matter. Nascimento will use his striking to get close enough for a takedown and eventually get the submission win to move to 9-0.
PICK – Rodrigo Nascimento via Submission, Round 2

Tom Breese (11-2) vs K.B Bhullar (8-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fight that was supposed to take place last weekend but due to short notice got moved, prospect Tom Breese takes on would-be Contender Series fighter K.B Bhullar who jumped the queue and got a contract without having to appear on the show. Breese was 7-0 when he joined the UFC and won his first three in a row, before a decision loss to Sean Strickland. He bounced back from that with a knockout win over Daniel Kelly but then fell again, this time to Brendan Allen with a first round knockout. Bhullar is an unorthodox striker who is well-rounded enough to be considered a viable threat wherever the fight goes. His issue is that he hasn’t fought anyone of the level of Tom Breese. On the feet I think Breese has the advantage and on the ground they’re likely to be pretty equal. I’ll be honest and say I’ve not seen nearly enough of Bullar to put him up against Breese and for that reason the Brit gets the nod for me.
PICK – Tom Breese via Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Early Prelims Predictions

The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.

Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.

It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go.

Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.

EARLY PRELIMS

Bruno Silva (10-4-2) vs Tagir Ulanbekov (10-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

‘Bulldog’ Bruno Silva makes his third walk to the octagon looking for the first victory of his UFC career when he takes on Tagir Ulanbekov making his UFC debut from the Eagles MMA camp alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov. Much like the lightweight champion, Ulanbekov is a world class wrestler and grappler who’s style relies entirely on taking you down and smothering you on the mat. Silva is a great jiu-jitsu fighter but the likelihood is that he ends up on the bottom and suffers great pain for 15 minutes before a very one-sided decision.
PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Unanimous Decision

Tracy Cortez (7-1) vs Stephanie Egger (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting fight in the women’s 135lbs ranks as Tracy Cortez looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC over debutant Stephanie Egger. Cortez is a pressure fighter who is very well-rounded in all aspects of the sport, while Egger is a renowned judo fighter who holds a win over Ronda Rousey in her judo career. She has since rounded out her skillset and is a blue belt in jiu-jitsu while also adding kicks and striking to her game. She’s the larger woman physically but Cortez is more skilled. She’s a good wrestler herself so is no stranger to the ground and to clinches. She’s not the strongest physically which is where Egger has the advantage but if Cortez uses her greater experience and can use her striking efficiently she should be able to claim a decision win.
PICK – Tracy Cortez via Unanimous Decision

Giga Chikadze (10-2) vs Omar Morales (10-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fascinating scrap expected in the featherweight division when two fighters undefeated in the octagon face off with each other. Giga Chikadze has won three in a row in the UFC and five overall while Morales has never tasted defeat in his professional career and has won twice in the octagon previously. On the face of it, both men are stand up fighters who like to use their kicks from range and Chikadze for me is the better of the two when it comes to that type of fight. Despite that however, Morales showed some decent wrestling chops in his last fight and that could be a more than viable plan B. Morales is the bigger man, moving down from lightweight for this fight and Chikadze has struggled convincing judges unanimously so far with two out of three split decisions. Overall, if Morales’ weight cut doesn’t effect him too much he could pull off the upset but I think Chikadze will do just enough to scrape another close decision.
PICK – Giga Chikadze via Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 4: Holm vs Aldana – Main Card Predictions

After a successful return to Fight Island last weekend for UFC 253, the women take over the island this weekend.

Holly Holm takes on Irene Aldana in the main event on a card with plenty of room to make new stars as lots of relatively unknown names make the cut for this one. With 11 fights in total on the card, I’ll look to have a much better weekend of picks this time around. I’ll go through the card in it’s entirety and break down each fight and offer up my predictions.

I have already predicted the prelims here, so now lets check out the main card.

Last weekend at UFC 253, I managed to get just 5/11 in total with only two perfect picks. It was comfortably the worst showing I’ve had while doing these picks.

MAIN CARD

Dequan Townsend (21-11) vs Dusko Todorovic (9-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fight for the younger man to make a name for himself in this fight as Dequan Townsend looks to earn his first UFC win at the fourth attempt against young Serbian Dusko Todorovic. After picking up a win on Dana White’s Contender Series, Todorovic makes his UFC debut in this one and will look to overwhelm his opponent with a fast pace and good striking skills. He has finished all but one of his wins inside the distance with five knockout victories. While Townsend has knockout power and good counter striking, his lack of ability to control a fight often sees him struggle against the higher output type fighters. This bout looks tailor-made for Todorovic to come into the UFC and impress.
PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Unanimous Decision

Kyler Phillips (7-1) vs Cameron Else (10-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

This is one of those fights where the records and streaks are a little bit off. Cameron Else has come up training under Donald Cerrone and is currently on a six-fight win streak but it’s a very padded record. He beat Cage Warriors star Paddy Pimblett back in 2013 but other than that he’s fought nobody of substance and only one of the six in his current streak had a winning record. Phillips is a super striker and won his UFC debut back in February with a decision win over Gabriel Silva. He will arguably be the best striker that Else has come up against in his career and the way he dealt with the previous two really good strikers he fought doesn’t stand him in good stead. Phillips showed in that Silva fight that he is more than capable of defending takedowns too, so Else will need to look to land a big one-punch knockout before Phillips ends his night early.
PICK – Kyler Phillips via Knockout, Round 1

Germaine De Randamie (9-4) vs Julianna Pena (10-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The former featherweight champion and bantamweight championship contender Germaine de Randamie makes her return to the octagon for the first time this year against Julianna Pena. A former kickboxing world champion, de Randamie is an excellent striker with fantastic power as she showed in her knockout win over Aspen Ladd. Pena is as pure a grappler as they come in the women’s division and she can take a punch too but the way this fight goes really is dependant on if she can get the takedown. When de Randamie came up against Pennington, she managed to stuff the takedowns and deliver big shots for the full duration of the fight. If she can do something similar she should win this fight but with Pena’s skill it will be tough. Pena will take encouragement from Nunes’ ability to take de Randamie down and hope she can do the same to lock up a submission. With just one fight in three years though, I think ‘The Iron Lady’ will be able to keep it standing for the most part to be able to take a decision win.
PICK – Germaine de Randamie via Unanimous Decision

Yorgan De Castro (6-1) vs Carlos Felipe (8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The weirdest co-main event fight of the year comfortably. Two unranked heavyweight fighters square off coming off losses in their last bouts. De Castro is a short heavyweight but he packs good power in his hands and has a really nice low kick that he showed off in his fight with Greg Hardy before injuring his foot. Felipe is your standard unranked heavyweight. Big, powerful and one-punch power but he lacks athleticism and any sort of plan B. He has a height and reach advantage in this fight but I am not expecting this to be a fight that many people remember going past the night. It’ll either be an early knockout or a slow, tiresome decision win for De Castro.
PICK – Yorgan De Castro via Knockout, Round 1

Holly Hom (13-5) vs Irene Aldana (12-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A former world champion kickboxer, Holly Holm made her name with a world-shaking knockout win over Ronda Rousey way back when. Since then, Holm has gone 3-5 though while Aldana has gone 5-1 in her last 6 since 2018. Holm is the more experienced fighter but she’s also fought the better calibre of fighters in the UFC too. She’s physically stronger and despite a one inch height disparity, she also has the slight reach advantage. That will suit her kickboxing style but Aldana isn’t a woman to be messed with either. She has 6 knockouts and 3 submission wins in 12 career victories but 6 of her last 8 fights have gone the distance. She’s yet to do five rounds in the UFC and I think that will be a big advantage for Holm. The experience will be enough to see her through the fight and land enough big shots to get the nod from the judges.
PICK – Holly Holm via Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Island 4: Holm vs Aldana – Prelims Predictions

After a successful return to Fight Island last weekend for UFC 253, the women take over the island this weekend.

Holly Holm takes on Irene Aldana in the main event on a card with plenty of room to make new stars as lots of relatively unknown names make the cut for this one. With 11 fights in total on the card, I’ll look to have a much better weekend of picks this time around. I’ll go through the card in it’s entirety, starting with the prelims, and break down each fight and offer up my predictions.

Last weekend at UFC 253, I managed to get just 5/11 in total with only two perfect picks. It was comfortably the worst showing I’ve had while doing these picks.

EARLY PRELIMS

Jessin Ayari (16-5) vs Luigi Vendramini (8-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting fight to open up the card as both fighters return to the UFC after two year lay-offs. Ayari has lost his last two bouts, being beaten comfortably via unanimous decision to both Stevie Ray and Darren Till while Vendramini was 8-0 coming into the UFC before taking a short-notice fight on his debut up at welterweight and being KO’d in the second round by Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos. Ayari is a karate-style striker who keeps the distance well and does have a nice pop to his shots, while Vendramini is a wrestler mostly who has good submission skills on the ground. Ayari is the bigger man physically but it’s really a fight with one of two outcomes. If Ayari can keep the fight on the feet, he should be able to out-strike his opponent relatively comfortably to a decision win. If Vendramini can score a takedown, he should be able to finish it on the ground pretty quickly. Due to the size advantage I mentioned though, I think Ayari can keep away and land enough to get his first win since 2016.
PICK – Jessin Ayari via Unanimous Decision

Casey Kenney (14-2-1) vs Heili Alateng (14-7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun fight in the bantamweight division as two guys looking to break into the top 15 face off. Kenney is 3-1 in the UFC, with his sole defeat coming to ‘The Machine’ Merab Dvalishvili but he bounced back with a submission win over Louis Smolka last time out. Alateng is on a four-fight win streak coming into this one, including a split decision win over Ryan Benoit last time out. Alateng has got heavy hands but a reluctance to throw them as much as he should, while Kenney is comfortable wherever the fight goes as a true all-rounder. He focuses that little bit more on his wrestling than Alateng and when ‘The Mongolian Knight’ can’t get the knockout with one punch, he tends to grapple too. That should make for an exciting opening round but after that, Kenney should be able to control the grappling exchanges with his superior wrestling skills and grind out a decision win.
PICK – Casey Kenney via Unanimous Decision

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee (4-2) vs Jinh Yu Frey (9-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fight in the lightest weight-class in the company between two women who are undersized for the division. Loma Lookboonmee is a tremendous Muay-Thai fighter who’s an active striker with great punches and kicks but lost last time out to Angela Hill. Frey is also a clinch fighter with better wrestling, but her output is questionable as she showed when she got beaten by Kay Hansen in June. She has a height and reach advantage but I can’t see her using it well enough to keep the Thai fighter away from her. I think Lookboonmee should be able to quite comfortably strike her way to a decision win to get herself back into the win column.
PICK – Loma Lookboonmee via Unanimous Decision

Jordan Williams (9-3 1NC) vs Nassourdine Imavov (8-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very interesting fight here between two undersized middleweight fighters as Jordan Williams looks to ride the wave of his Contender Series win just two weeks ago into this one against Imavov on a five-fight win streak. Williams got a knockout win against Gregory Rodrigues on the Contender Series but the fight was originally supposed to be Rodrigues vs Imavov before the Frenchman pulled out. Williams stepped in for his third appearance on the show after having his initial win overturned for a positive marijuana test and then losing a split decision the second time around. Imavov hasn’t fought since December 2019 but moves up from welterweight to step into the octagon for the first time. Williams is a powerhouse, who walks forward and is happy to take a shot to give one back. Imavov has the speed advantage but doesn’t really have the power to put Williams’ lights out for me. It should be a fun striking match and if Williams can land big, he can end it. For my money though, Imavov will be able to avoid the heavier shots and strike his way to a decision win.
PICK – Nassourdine Imavov via Unanimous Decision

Josh Culibao (8-1) vs Charles Jourdain (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fight that for me is arguably the biggest lock of the night. Josh Culibao has got one previous fight in the UFC, where he stepped in on late notice to fight up a weight class against one of the divisions bigger men in Jalin Turner and he got expectedly battered. He returns to his natural weight division now to take on ‘Air’ Jourdain who looks to bounce back from defeat to Andre Fili last time out in a split decision. Prior to that, Jourdain showed the crazy power he possesses with a fight of the night performance against Doo Ho Choi in Korea. Culibao is good on the feet but doesn’t have real power to cause Jourdain problems and his grappling skills are untested at this level. Jourdain for me has the advantage everywhere in the fight and if he isn’t able to put him away with the power, he should do more than enough to get a decision.
PICK – Charles Jourdain via Knockout, Round 2

Carlos Condit (30-13) vs Court McGee (19-9) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Once upon a time Carlos Condit was one of the most feared welterweights on the planet but he’s now on a five-fight losing streak with no wins since 2015. He takes on Court McGee who is 1-4 in his last five fights too, making this a battle to stay in the company most likely. Condit has decided that when he gets taken down his best bet is now to fight from his back, despite having not submitted anyone for over 12 years. Against McGee, it just seems like a bad idea. ‘The Crusher’ is a good wrestler and more than comfortable in top position, so with that being said it’s hard to see this fight going any other way than towards him. 13 of his last 14 fights have gone the distance, so I expect he’ll take the win via the judges once again.
PICK – Court McGee via Unanimous Decision

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Main Card Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I have already predicted the prelims of this card here and will look to try and improve my total this time around.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A real toss-up of a fight to open the main card as these two up and coming featherweights face off. Dawodu is currently on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Austin Arnett, Kyle Bochniak, Yoshinori Hori and Julio Arce while Tukhugov has a win, a loss and a draw in his last three bouts. Both fighters are pretty well rounded all-in-all and could go either way. Dawodu has a power advantage on the feet but Tukhugov has a ground advantage, although Dawodu has excellent takedown defence to combat that. With just half an inch reach between the two also, there really is barely anything between the two fighters. If I had to pick, I’d side with Tukhugov simply because if he can get the fight to the ground then he should be able to control the fight from there but this could genuinely go either way.
PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Unanimous Decision

Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Another razor close match up here, this time in the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira makes her first appearance since December last year where she was beaten by Irene Aldana, while Sijara Eubanks makes a quick turnaround following her win over Julia Avila just two weeks ago. Vieira is a rangy striker who uses her striking to land takedowns and top control, where she can work for submissions, while Eubanks is a kickboxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Vieira has a natural size advantage and has great takedowns, something that Eubanks could struggle with considering the way she won her last bout but as a black belt she will feel that she is capable of hanging with her opponent. The fight essentially comes down to who lands heavier on the feet and who ends up on top on the ground. With a wave of momentum on her side, I’ll go with Sijara Eubanks but her fights are notoriously hard to pick.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision

Kai Kara-France (21-8 1NC) vs Brandon Royval (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between two very exciting prospects in the division as Kai Kara-France makes his first appearance since February’s win over Tyson Nam when he takes on Brandon Royval. Royval won his UFC debut on short-notice against Tim Elliot back in May when he ragdolled the veteran and ended up submitting him. This is a fight between two very good fighters who are looking to work their way up the rankings. Kara-France is the better striker of the two marginally and has the better wrestling, while Royval’s jiu-jitsu is mightily impressive. The issue for Royval is that because of the wrestling edge Kara-France has, the best chance he has of getting this to the ground to work his submissions is via a knockdown. That’s unlikely in my eyes so I think Kara-France is able to out-strike his opponent on the feet to a fairly comfortable but entertaining decision win.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (26-8) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The new era in the light heavyweight division begins with this fight, as a new champion will be crowned. Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon for the first time since his controversial defeat to Jon Jones back in February while Blachowicz comes in on a three-fight win streak following wins over Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson. Reyes is a powerful southpaw fighter, who’s boxing caused so many problems for Jon Jones in his last fight. He has amazing power but also tremendous footwork to evade attacks, plus a fierce body kick. His takedown defence was on show in that fight too as Jones went 2/9 on takedown attempts. Blachowicz is a more aggressive wrestler than Jones, although I wouldn’t say he’s better. He’s got scary power in his hands too but he tends to prefer securing takedowns and using his jiu-jitsu game. If he employs those tactics again, Reyes will look to use that same defence that he used against Jones and if he lands as much this time around as he did in his last fight he will surely land the knockout in this one.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 3

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The fight of the year. The middleweight title crown is up for grabs but also both men put their undefeated records on the line in this one. Adesanya is 19-0 having beaten Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in his last three bouts while Costa beat Romero, Uriah Hall and Johnny Hendricks in his last three. There will be no grappling in this bout, that much is almost guaranteed. Adesanya is a former world kickboxing champion while Costa is one of the most powerful punchers in the entire company. Costa has a tendency to tuck his chin in and just storm forward, happy to eat punches in order to give some back. He loves to rip to the body in combinations before throwing hooks to the head, something Adesanya will look to avoid by not getting stuck up against the cage. Adesanya will look to use his feet to maintain some distance but he will use his speed advantage to land strikes in the inevitable wild exchanges that Costa will look to force. Interestingly enough, despite both of these men being fierce knockout artists I don’t think this fight ends in a knockout. We’ve seen that both of these guys are ready for war and do possess a chin to go with their striking and I think that while there will be some wobbly moments for both guys, Adesanya’s movement and fight IQ will see him come out on top on the judges scorecards.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Prelims Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I’ll look to see if I can do better this time around, starting with the prelims here.

EARLY PRELIMS

Khadis Ibragimov (8-3) vs Danilo Marques (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that deserves the opening spot on the card as Khadis Ibragimov looks to end a three-fight losing streak against Danilo Marques, making his UFC debut after almost 3 years without a fight. Ibragimov hasn’t won in the UFC yet, being choked out by Da Un Jung, held to a decision loss by Ed Herman and knocked out by Roman Dolidze in his three outings so far. Marques’ time away from the cage makes it hard to know what he’ll do but in previous fights he has shown some okay wrestling and not much else. His 8 stoppage wins are evenly split between knockouts and submissions but it’s no surprise he hadn’t made it to the UFC before now. Ibragimov has the advantage everywhere in this fight so as long as he doesn’t do anything ridiculous he should be able to get his first taste of victory in the octagon.
PICK – Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision

Juan Espino (10-1) vs Jeff Hughes (10-3 1NC) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The most recent Ultimate Fighter winner Juan Espino takes on Jeff Hughes with both men looking to earn a first UFC win for their record. Espino came through the TUF house in 2018, winning the UFC contract with a straight armbar submission win over Justin Frazier, while Jeff Hughes has tasted defeat to Maurice Greene (who Espino beat in the TUF house) and Raphael Pessoa either side of a no contest against Todd Duffee. Espino is an excellent wrestler and has a similar style to Curtis Blaydes, in that he insists on takedowns followed by damage except he goes for tap-outs over knockouts. Hughes is a capable boxer but he just isn’t of the level of his peers in the UFC and it’s shown. He was demolished by Pessoa in a fight he really had no reason for losing, so I can’t see past Espino getting a takedown and locking in a choke early doors.
PICK – Juan Espino via Submission, Round 1

PRELIMS

William Knight (8-1) vs Aleksa Kamur (6-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After earning a UFC developmental contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in August last year, Knight has won three out of four fights since then to earn a full contract. His most recent win came just three weeks ago when he knocked out Cody Brundage. Aleksa Kamur is a training partner to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and has shown similar boxing skills to that of the GOAT big-man. Kamur has five knockout wins from six fights, with the only flaw being his UFC debut against Justin Ledet where he won a unanimous decision. Knight’s best attribute is undoubtedly his top game, but his wrestling defence and takedowns aren’t great. He seems to hope for a sweep on the ground before blasting off his patented ground and pound but Kamur has good takedown defence and is a much better stand-up fighter. If he can stay composed and avoid the takedown, Kamur should be able to get a knockout win on the feet.
PICK – Aleksa Kamur via Knockout, Round 2

Shane Young (13-4) vs Ludovit Klein (16-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

After almost 18 months away from the octagon, Shane Young returns to take on UFC debutant Ludovit Klein in the featherweight division. After a five fight win streak, Young was matched up with now-champion Alex Volkanovski in his UFC debut and was beaten by decision but has since gone on to win two in a row including a performance of the night against Rolando Dy. Klein comes into the organisation on a seven-fight win streak having finished six of those opponents. If the card didn’t have Adesanya vs Costa on it, this would be a contender for fight of the night. Both guys are explosive, with good kickboxing skills and are comfortable if it gets to the ground. Klein has the advantage on the ground with his 8 submission wins over his career but it’s on the feet where he prefers to do his work. He has a bit more snap and power to his shots and he kicks really well, especially to the head. Klein is coming in on relatively short notice but he seems to always stay ready and with Young looking to return with a win, both guys could come with power. Ultimately, I think Klein just has the slight edge everywhere and if both fight to their best Klein should be able to edge it.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision

Diego Sanchez (30-12) vs Jake Matthews (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The wild man veteran of the welterweight division makes his return as Diego Sanchez stops off on Fight Island during his farewell tour to take on the ‘Celtic Kid’ Jake Matthews. Sanchez KO’d Mickey Gall with ground and pound before being dominated by Michael Chiesa in his next bout. His last fight however ended up as a disqualification win after he was smashed by Michel Pereira who landed an illegal knee. Sanchez took the result over more punishment. Matthews has won his last two, defeating Rostem Akman and Emil Meek via unanimous decision. Sanchez’s crazy pace and takedown heavy style wears many an opponent out and he has power in his hands during a wild exchange but his issue here will be that Matthews is just as dangerous. A very well rounded fighter, Matthews can hang regardless of where the fight goes and he’s a bigger, stronger man. He will likely use his natural power to avoid the takedowns and dominate the fight, landing enough to earn a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Jake Matthews via Unanimous Decision

Brad Riddell (8-1) vs Alex Da Silva (21-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The lead striking coach of Tiger Muay Thai continues his transition over to MMA as Brad Riddell looks to make it 3 wins in a row in the UFC against youngster Alex Da Silva. Despite his impressive 23 professional fights, with 20 finishes from 21 wins, Silva is still only 24 years old. Despite a mixed bag of talent among those opponents, the performances he’s churned out have been impressive. Riddell though is one of the best kickboxers on the planet. Now training MMA with Alexander Volkanovski and co, he is taking his game to the next level. He showed in his decision win over Magomed Mustafaev that he is improving his ground game but that he is also on a whole different level on the feet. Da Silva has a decent ground game but he prefers to kickbox too, which will see him in a world of trouble. He could try to score takedowns but he’s not the ultimate wrestler so there is no guarantee he gets the fight down. Overall, I think Riddell keeps the fight standing and eventually lands a flurry of punches and kicks to end the fight.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Main Card Predictions

A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.

The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.

Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).

With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here and the rest of the prelims here, so now I’ll try my hand at the stacked main card to better last weeks attempts.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland (18-5) vs Darren Stewart (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

With so many contenders for fight of the night, this is another that stands out. Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart are making quick turnarounds after wins in their last bout. Holland knocked out Joaquin Buckley with a stunning punch in the third round last month, while Stewart secured a first round submission win over Maki Pitolo on the same card. Holland is a top level striker with good wrestling chops and has come into his own in recent months but has shown a propencity to showboat in the cage. Stewart is a powerful puncher who’s usual style is to sprawl-and-brawl, making himself very difficult to take down which allows him to open up his kickboxing game. With both guys preferring the stand-up game, it comes down to accuracy and power. Either fighter could knock the other out, but Holland is that little bit more dynamic and I think he should be able to get the win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs Randa Markos (10-8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

This will be a fight that will almost certainly take place on the ground if Mackenzie Dern has anything to do with it, but Markos may need to have other ideas. Both women have only ever stopped fights via submission but Markos has a wrestling advantage. Dern is a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion and holds a black belt, making her super dangerous no matter her position on the mat. After suffering her first defeat, she bounced back in her last bout with a kneebar submission win over Hannah Cifers back in May. Markos has alternated wins and losses over the last six years and lost her last fight to Amanda Ribas also. She would usually rely on top control to get a win but on the ground, she’s in danger in this bout. She will have to look to use striking to win this and while it’s not her usual path to victory, she has the edge on the feet. Dern’s takedowns aren’t good and her striking arsenal comprises of a looping hook and some wild overhands. Dern has the advantage on the ground which is where both women usually do their work, but she needs to get it there first.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

Johnny Walker (17-5) vs Ryan Spann (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight showdown where a one-time top prospect in Johnny Walker looks to get back to winning ways against another top prospect in Ryan Spann. Walker was on a wrecking path when he entered the UFC, with showreel knockout wins over Khalil Rountree, Just Ledet and Misha Cirkunov but he fell in to Corey Anderson in his biggest test via a first round knockout. His comeback fight in May against Nikita Krylov didn’t go his way either as he was held to a decision. Spann is on an eight-fight win streak including 4-0 in the UFC, with his latest win a split decision over Sam Alvey. Walker is an explosive kickboxer with vicious power and acrobatic ability while Spann is more of a boxer who uses his leg-kicks to set them up. Spann has severe cardio problems and we’ve seen Walker’s main issues come against those who are prepared to wrestle him. Anderson KO’d him simply because Walker wasn’t expecting anything other than takedown attempts, but he won’t have that issue with Spann. In a striking match, Walker should be able to land heavy blows for a knockout win as Spann begins to fade.
PICK – Johnny Walker via Knockout, Round 2

Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (31-13) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The hype train for Khamzat Chimaev returns to the APEX as he looks for his third UFC win against the biggest name he’s faced so far in Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev destroyed John Phillips at middleweight and Rhys McKee at welterweight in just 10 days last time around, while Meerschaert was knocked out by Ian Heinisch in his last fight back in June. Chimaev has shown in his last two fights that he will go straight for takedowns and dominate with relentless strikes until he gets the submission or the referee stops it, but Meerschaert is a black-belt and will be able to hold his own on the ground. He also has good power in his hands but he is most dangerous on the ground, as his 23 submission wins show. Chimaev is a skilled kickboxer though and will have no issues keeping the fight standing for a while and using his superior striking skills for the first time in his short UFC career. Despite the big jump in competition, Chimaev is so skilled and good at what he does that he should be able to get a mightily impressive win here. The UFC obviously think so too, having already booked him for a fight after this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 2

Donald Cerrone (36-15 1NC) vs Niko Price (14-4 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Cowboy’ Cerrone looks to ensure he doesn’t take the gatekeeper tag just yet as he looks to get into the win column after four straight defeats when he takes on Niko Price. Price is a knockout artist who is a natural 170lbs-er and that spells bad things for Cerrone. Both men throw great kickboxing combinations and while Cerrone is slightly better technically, Price’s extra power makes up for it. If Cerrone wants success he’ll need to use his footwork to get in and out quickly but Price has a three-inch reach advantage so will likely stay out of range. This is a fight where both men will employ similar tactics and it’s simply about who can outland the other. I think because of Price’s physicality advantage and power edge, he will be able to stay for the full three rounds and secure a big win.
PICK – Niko Price via Unanimous Decision

Colby Covington (15-2) vs Tyron Woodley (19-5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The grudge match of the year. A fight over two years in the making is finally among us as Colby Covington looks to get back into the win column following his title defeat in December last year while Woodley looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against his long time rival. Woodley’s style is usually to sprawl and brawl, with his huge power in his right hand his most trusted weapon. He’s failed to throw it with any real vim in his last two fights though as he was crushed by both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Covington is almost the worst possible match up for Woodley at this point. He has a suffocating wrestling style, much like Usman does, but he showed in that fight for the title last year that he has good striking too. His heavy hands caused damage to Usman and although he ultimately lost, he showed that he is the second best welterweight in the world. This fight is the type that ‘Chaos’ would have been dreaming of to get back into the picture – a big name, but past his best in the cage. Colby could go for a finish in this one just to make a statement, but I think he takes it the full 25 minutes for a dominant win.
PICK – Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision