Tag Archives: Aleksandar Rakic

UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Main card predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night, and moving on to the rest of the prelims section of the card, we finish off with the main card picks here.


Jake Hadley (8-0) vs Allan Nascimento (18-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A grapple-heavy affair coming up to open the main card here. Hadley is an undefeated former Cage Warriors champion, who earned his UFC debut with a submission win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Nascimento on the other hand was defeated in his UFC debut back at UFC 267, dropping a split decision to Tagir Ulanbekov.

Both Hadley and Nascimento are grapplers by nature, but they’re different in their approach. Hadley is a brilliant wrestler, who looks to smother his opponents with his takedowns and work for submissions by taking the back as quickly as possible. Nascimento looks to stand and use his kicking game, unafraid to be dragged into a scrap because he knows if he’s on the ground his submission game is excellent too. This is a super evenly matched fight and very hard to call.

One advantage that Hadley has is that he’s comfortable whether he’s on top or on the bottom, while Nascimento does not look comfortable when he’s underneath someone else. They will contest takedowns against the cage without a doubt and it will be finely contested, but in these matches it’s those fine margins that make the difference and I think Hadley claims the win.
PICK – Jake Hadley via Decision

Frank Camacho (22-9) vs Manuel Torres (12-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight bout between a veteran likely on his way out and an upcoming talent from Mexico. Camacho has lost four of his last five stretching back to 2018 and was KO’d in just 41 seconds by Justin Jaynes in his last fight at UFC Vegas 3. Torres is making his UFC debut here on a three-fight win streak after victory on Dana White’s Contender Series back in October last year.

Camacho is a veteran of the sport despite being only 32 years old as his record shows. ‘The Crank’ is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s more known for his slugfest style where he brawls and entertains. Torres is a very physical and aggressive fighter, with great power in his hands and a killer instinct with 11 finishes in 12 fights. This is a real test to see where Camacho stands in his career.

Both men have the power to really hurt the other, but whether Camacho’s chin can still stand up after his latest knockout is a big worry. There is the fact that he has a lot more experience, and if he mixes up his attacks to include some ground game then he has a great chance of victory. With that said though, it’s not often that he leans on his grappling as his initial game plan, so I expect a hungry Torres to claim a big stoppage win.
PICK – Manuel Torres via Knockout, Round 1

Katlyn Chookagian (17-4) vs Amanda Ribas (11-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two women’s flyweights looking to get into title contention in a division dominated by one queen. Chookagian has already fought for the belt and got dominated, but she has gone 4-1 since then, including wins in each of her last three against Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 255), Viviane Araujo (UFC 262) and Jennifer Maia (UFC Vegas 46) all by decision. Ribas saw her hype reach an all-time high when she submitted Paige Van Zant at UFC 251, but she was brutally stopped by Marina Rodriguez next time out at UFC 257. She bounced back with a great decision win over Virna Jandiroba at UFC 267 in her last bout.

Chookagian is a karate fighter who uses her range really well and volume strikes to dominate her opponents. Her body kicks are excellent while she has good boxing too and often just completely outworks her opponent. Ribas is a pretty rubbish striker on the feet, but on the ground she is a terrifying prospect with her submission skills. The problem here is that she may not be able to get the fight to the ground.

‘Blonde fighter’ is very good when it comes to ensuring fights go the way she wants, unless it’s against Valentina Shevchenko. She dominates the range, has good takedown defence and is the better striker as well as having the size advantage. Expect her to put in a vintage performance to claim yet another decision win.
PICK – Katlyn Chookagian via Decision



Davey Grant (13-6) vs Louis Smolka (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Very fun 135-pound scrap coming up in this one. Grant has lost his last two in a row, dropping decisions to Marlon Vera and then Adrian Yanez respectively. Smolka has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, being on the wrong end of a knockout finish to Vince Morales at UFC Vegas 44 in his most recent outing.

Grant is a terrific grappler who has completely transformed his game in recent years to start chasing knockouts with nasty combinations and wild hooks to the head. Smolka is another entertaining fighter, who uses his cardio as a weapon while throwing good combinations and threatening with chokes when the opportunity presents itself. When you match them skill for skill, Smolka seems to be in a world of trouble with this one.

The Brit is bigger, stronger, the better grappler and hits harder. His cardio is more than good enough to really go the distance at a good pace too and he is by far the more durable of the two fighters. This one will likely turn into a war, and that means Grant clips him midway through the fight for the finish.
PICK – Davey Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Ryan Spann (19-7) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The big boys take up the co-main event slot in this one as light heavyweights collide. Spann has lost two of his last three, including getting absolutely squashed by Anthony Smith in the first round in his last bout. Cutelaba overcame a three fight winless run after KO losses to Magomed Ankalaev and a draw with Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25, by earning a decision win in his last bout against Devin Clark.

Spann is a tidy grappler on the mat with 11 submission wins to his name in his career. His wrestling is decent, while his striking on the feet is okay, but anything outside of his comfort zones is a huge problem for him. Cutelaba on the other hand is a super aggressive fighter who charges forward and threatens with constant takedowns by landing huge power punches in combinations. Spann needs to be able to get this fight down with himself on top to win this, because he’s outmatched by Cutelaba.

‘Hulk’ will look to put Spann on his back foot regularly and will try for takedowns against the cage before swinging huge combinations to try and take his head off. Spann won’t be comfortable with that, and when that happens he tends to just kind of melt away. That’s not ideal against someone so aggressive, so Cutelaba could claim a violent finish early on.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1

Jan Blachowicz (28-9) vs Aleksandar Rakic (14-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that could easily have been contested for the 205lbs title at some point last year now takes place as a contender bout in the division. Blachowicz was dominated in his last outing by Glover Teixeira as he lost the belt at UFC 267, bringing to an end his five fight winning streak. Rakic on the other hand has won his last two, with just one defeat since losing his pro debut. He dominated Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos (UFC 259) in his most recent bouts.

Blachowicz is a brilliant fighter who is very well-rounded. He has got the legendary ‘Polish power’ in both hands where his boxing combinations score him knockout wins, while his wrestling is also good as he showed against Israel Adesanya back at UFC 259. Rakic’s wrestling has been shown to be brilliant too, while he also has scary power in his hands earning him nine career KO wins. This is a super hard fight to call, because both guys match up so well.

Rakic is nine years younger and the fact that Teixeira was able to take Blachowicz down so easily and control him on the mat will be of big encouragement to him. It shows that he is capable of being controlled and Rakic is very good at that. I think Blachowicz is now going to start a steady decline as age catches up to him, and Rakic is going to pile on the misery for a huge win and secure himself the next title shot.
PICK – Aleksandar Rakic via Decision

Major UFC fights announced for coming months

The UFC have been busy planning some big fights for the coming weeks and months.

Title fights, fight night main events, contender bouts, rumoured scraps in the pipeline and more have all been mentioned over recent weeks so here’s the big round-up for everyone that needs it.

Starting with April’s pay-per-view opener, we’ll list off all the fights that have been officially announced or rumoured for cards going through the summer so far.



UFC 273 takes place on April 9th after a two-week break in action with a big title-fight double header.

Already announced is the headliner between Alexander Volkanovski v Korean Zombie for the featherweight title, while Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will finally meet in their rematch for the bantamweight title.

But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.

The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.

Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.

We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.

The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.

Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.

We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.

Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.

It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.

Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic to fight in March

The UFC light heavyweight division has got a huge main event set for 2022 after former champion Jan Blachowicz was matched up with Aleksandar Rakic.

Blachowicz was the champion until his most recent bout, where he was submitted in the second-round by Glover Teixeira at UFC 267. He will look to bounce back immediately against the number three ranked Rakic, who is currently on a two-fight win streak.

The two have agreed to a main event bout on March 26th 2022, in a location yet to be determined.



Blachowicz will be looking to get back to winning ways after seeing his title reign and five-fight win streak snapped in October.

He had beaten top contenders Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Corey Anderson, Dominick Reyes to win the title at UFC 253 and then Israel Adesanya in his only successful title defence before the defeat at UFC 259.

Rakic on the other hand has won 14 of his last 15 bouts, with the only blemish in that run coming in a split decision defeat to Volkan Oezdemir. Most recently he has seen off the threat of Anthony Smith at UFC Vegas 8 and Thiago Santos at UFC 259.

He was scheduled to face Smith in a rematch at UFC 269 this month, but Smith was forced to withdraw with an injury.

He will now get the chance to beat the former champion and cement himself as the number one contender for the title, with Teixeira expected to make his first title defence against Jiri Prochazka at some point in the second quarter of 2022.

Ariel Helwani was the first to report the bout agreement.

The bout will take place as a five-round main event bout on a Fight Night card. Those events have taken place exclusively at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas since the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s possible that could change between now and the fight happening in March 2022.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Trevin Jones def Mario Bautista via Knockout, Round 2 (0:47)

Tentative start to the card as Bautista and Jones trade leg kicks and feints to feel each other out for the first minute or so of the bout. Bautista pushes forward with a flurry that Jones avoids and the two clinch up, with Jones controlling the underhooks and landing some nice knees to the thigh. Both fighters exchange body kicks, with Bautista landing a bit cleaner. Jones landing lots of leg kicks from the outside, as Bautista responds with some fast hands with a nice hook in particular. Jones lands a left hand and goes for a takedown as the round ends but Bautista fights it off well. 10-9 Bautista but not much in it.

Bautista comes out with some nice combos once again and Jones goes back to the leg kicks. Both exchange strikes and Jones slips a punch then throws a lead uppercut that drops Bautista! He follows up with some big ground and pound and the referee ends it early! Huge knockout win for Jones!

Uros Medic def Aalon Cruz via Knockout, Round 1 (1:40)

Fast start to the fight from Medic as he walks forward and clips Cruz with a big right hand quickly to the temple! Cruz looks for a takedown but Medic brushes him off and lands a big left hand too, then follows it up with a flying knee. Medic lands a barrage of strikes and the fight goes too long before the referee steps in and ends it! What a debut.

Amanda Lemos def Livinha Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (3:39)

Slow start to the bout as Lemos takes the centre of the cage and backs Souza up against the cage, landing jabs and hard leg kicks. Souza looks wary on the feet early on as Lemos lands a straight right hand that drops her! She goes for the ground and pound but Souza tries to grapple to survive and manages to tie her up. She goes for a heel hook but Lemos avoids it and starts landing huge strikes from the ground once again too. Lemos lands a stinging jab that drops Souza again and a few more strikes sees the referee step in and call it a night. What a performance from Lemos.

Sean Brady def Jake Matthews via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (3:28)

Competitive start to the round with both guys standing in range of the other and exchanging small flurries of punches and leg kicks. Matthews using his range advantage well and throwing his jab nicely, but Brady avoiding it well and landing nice leg kicks. Matthews throws a big right hand that drops Brady but Brady doesn’t seem too hurt and manages to recover into top position after Matthews tried to grab the neck. Brady landing nice short shots from the top and trying to control the posture by holding the neck, but Matthews doing well to avoid too much damage in the final minute as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Matthews.

Brady opens up the round a bit more aggressive, taking the centre and being first with the jabs and short hooks. Matthews eventually takes control once again though and uses his length to start throwing some nice strikes. Brady shoots for the takedown and gets it first time and immediately takes the top position. He tries to work to the back but Matthews defends against the cage as Brady starts working for a guillotine. Good defence from Matthews as Brady continues to work the top mount and starts throwing nasty body strikes while wrapping up the neck. Matthews really struggling to do anything from his back as he gives up the position and Brady starts raining down punches as the round ends. Definite Brady round, 19-19 for me.

Matthews takes the centre early in the final round and tries to land a couple of flurries, but Brady trying to slow him down with some chopping leg kicks again. Brady lands a beautiful counter left hook that drops Matthews to one knee, but he stays patient and stays standing. He fakes a takedown but Matthews sprawls and it allows Brady to jump on his neck to threaten a guillotine. He moves to take the back and takes him against the cage to start throwing nice strikes on the ground and dominant once again. Brady continues to work the position and steps over into a head and arm choke to secure the tap out. Brilliant performance.

Kennedy Nzechukwu def Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Fast start from Ulberg as he hurts Nzechukwu! Ulberg on the back foot but threw some front kicks and a combination of strikes wobbles Nzechukwu but he keeps a high guard and survives the beating for now. Nzehukwu continues to walk forward but Ulberg stays patient and lands some nice leg kicks. Nzechukwu starting to come forward and land strikes of his own and a left hand wobbles Ulberg! Ulberg starts throwing some heavy body shots but Nzechukwu keeps coming forward and both men are trading in the centre now! Ulberg is very tired nowbut still landing the heavier shots as the round ends. 10-9 Ulberg. What a round!

A slower start to the round for Ulberg as he starts picking his shots more and landing jabs nicely. Nice on-two from Nzechukwu lands but both men landing heavy on each other. Big body kick from Ulberg followed with a one-two but there’s an accidental thumb in the eye that causes a short break in the action. Ulberg’s volume is higher but the power has diminished greatly from the opening exchanges and Nzechukwu’s cardio is carrying him through this bout right now. Nasty low kicks from Ulberg and a right hand lands then Nzechukwu lands a HUGE right hand!! Oh my god what a knockout!!! Kennedy Nzechukwu!

Tim Elliott def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)

Fast pace to start this fight with Espinosa flicking out jabs and kicks as Elliott walks him down and applies pressure. A clinch against the cage and Elliott lands some nice knees before they break and Espinosa lands a nice left hook before another clinch against the cage. They separate again and Espinosa throws a big head kick that misses by inches and Elliott is able to take him down and get on his back. Espinosa fighting the hands well as Elliott looks for a rear-naked choke but he gets his back to the cage and is able to avert that threat. Elliott controls the position for the rest of the round and should have that in the books. 10-9 Elliot.

Second round starts exactly as the first ended, with Espinosa throwing a head kick that Elliott ducks and gets the takedown but this time Espinosa is able to get back up to his feet quickly. Elliott pushes the pace and lands a second takedown quickly and stays in the half guard grinding away with short strikes. Elliott starting to suffocate Espinosa with pressure and a great wrestling game, riding the back and looking to sink in a rear-naked choke. Espinosa gets away from it but Elliott is smothering him and beating him up bad as he lands elbows and chokes him with his forearm until the round ends. That’s a 10-8 round, so 20-17 Elliott.

Espinosa opens the round with a flying knee but Elliott catches him with ease and takes the fight down to the ground immediately and starts throwing heavy strikes. Espinosa throwing some elbows from the bottom and cuts Elliott open badly, but he continues to be completely smothered by the top game. Elliott throwing heavy shots and some elbows of his own and then Espinosa throws up an armbar attempt that Elliott avoids and he controls from top position for the rest of the round. Great performance from Elliott.

PRELIMS

Kai Kara-France def Rogerio Bontorin via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)

Good start to the round from Bontorin as he comes forward and strikes well, with a few leg kicks and some nice right hands. A right cross wobbles Kara-France and Bontorin goes in for a takedown and dumps him down with ease, then takes the back immediately. Bontorin threatening the rear-naked choke straight away and dominating on the back, flowing perfectly with a body triangle locked in but Kara-France is fighting the hands brilliantly to avoid the submission. He finally shakes Bontorin off and they get back to the feet with 30 seconds remaining. Bontorin looks tired but Kara-France comes forward and lands a three punch combo that puts Bontorin out!! Walk off KO!! Wow!!

Askar Askarov def Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2. 30-26)

Good competitive start to the fight as Askarov throws some nice front kicks from the lead leg, while Benavidez looks to throw looping hooks. Askarov’s kicks doing damage early on to the mid-section, but Benavidez lands a nice one-two. Askarov keeps it coming and lands a big right hook, then a left hand behind it. Askarov eats a right hand from Benavidez then lands another right hand of his own, before he goes in for the takedown. He closes the distance, wins the scrambles and lifts before taking the back and threatening the submission before the round ends. 10-9 Askarov.

Benavidez comes out strong in the second round, looking to swarm him against the cage with his looping hooks but Askarov takes it and returns fire with his own. Askarov wobbles Benavidez with a right hand and goes right back to the takedown attempts, getting a lift and putting the fight on the ground immediately. Askarov dominating the grappling exchanges, landing short strikes on the ground while taking the back and threatening with choke positions too. Benavidez stays on the ground for the remainder of the round until with five seconds to go Askarov cracks him with a huge right hand on the feet. Huge round for Askarov again. 20-18.

Final round and Askarov staying very patient as Benavidez comes forward knowing he needs a finish. Lovely question mark kick lands flush on the chin of Benavidez but he eats it and comes forward again, moving forward with a head kick of his own that just misses. Right hook from Askarov lands and knocks Benavidez off balance but he gets back up quickly. Head kick again from Askarov is partially blocked by Benavidez but still lands enough to wobble him as we enter the final two minutes. Benavidez throws a big superman punch that lands clean but Askarov eats it and replies with a jab into the final minute. Lots of attempts from Benavidez for big strikes but he’s nowhere near Askarov and this should be a comfortable decision win. 30-27.

Kyler Phillips def Song Yadong via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Positive start for Phillips as he comes with a big right hand earlier then a spinning kick that just misses. Yadong eventually takes the centre and starts throwing some straights but Phillips throws a stunning head kick that lands flush but Yadong just eats it. Amazing. Phillips tries another spin but misses again as Yadong lands with a nice uppercut then misses with a spin kick of his own. Phillips landing first with his jabs and right straights so far but Yadong continues to move forward. Phillips changes levels and goes for a takedown but Yadong scrambles back up to his feet immediately and eats a one-two as the round ends with an exchange against the cage. 10-9 Phillips.

Yadong comes out strong in the second round but Phillips being first again. Phillips slowing down a little from the first round but still landing heavy and as they break from a clinch he throws a beautiful spinning back kick again. Song trying to close the distance and landing big hooks but Phillips doing well to be first and stay out of the way. Nice jab from Phillips knocks Yadong off balance on his way in, then after some back and forth on the feet Phillips slides in for a big takedown and gets it beautifully. Yadong scrambles his way back to the feet once again but he’s starting to look desperate. Big right hand lands from Yadong but the round ends with both men fresh. 20-18 Phillips.

Phillips looks calm as they enter the final round, with Yadong knowing he needs the finish. Phillips shoots for a takedown early but Yadong sprawls quickly and gets up to throw heat straight away. Nice flurry to the body ends with a left hook to the chin, but Phillips moves away and keeps his guard high. Both men exchange a straight right and Yadong is starting to close the distance a bit more and land better shots. Another exchange in the pocket that Yadong wins, but Phillips shoots in for a takedown and for the first time is able to keep him down. Phillips looks to take his back but Yadong reverses and ends up on top in the final minute. The round ends with Yadong on top and Phillips looking for a submission in what should be a Phillips decision win. 29-28.

Dominick Cruz def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Cruz starts with an immediate takedown attempt that is sprawled on by Kenney but breaks away from the front headlock position and starts landing some leg kicks. Kenney takes the centre and starts backing Cruz up against the cage with both guys exchanging low kicks. Big left hand lands from Cruz but Casey eats it and keeps walking forward, before Kenney throws another strong leg kick. Very back and forth round, I edge it 10-9 to Cruz.

Strong start to the round from Kenney as he lands a big leg kick that drops Cruz to one knee for a second. Cruz rallies with a nice one-two but Kenney starting to get the timing down a bit more and is landing cleaner shots now. Straight left from Kenney lands before two more leg kicks. Cruz lands a nice right hand to the body followed by a straight right to the face, but Kenney keeps coming forward and throws a body kick. Cruz avoids a right hand and charges forward with several clean shots to the face but Kenney takes them and lands two back of his own. Big right hand from Cruz lands but Kenney responds with another leg kick. Left hand from Kenney lands on the chin and then he grabs the neck for a guillotine attempt but Cruz is safe and the round ends. 19-19 but close yet again.

Cruz shoots in for a takedown early on then abandons it and lands a big left hook up top. Shoots back in for a takedown again against the cage, but Kenney looks to defend with a guillotine attempt although Cruz is on the right side to avoid the threat too much. Cruz takes half guard and starts landing some body shots but Kenney then gets up to his feet with ease and they go back to striking. Left hand from Kenney staggers Cruz who then is able to evade an attack and lands a counter right hand. Kenney lands a couple of big hooks but Cruz responds with three big punches of his own as we enter the final 90 seconds. Cruz denies another takedown attempt from Kenney and lands a big knee to the body, then follows up with a one two. Cruz then shoots for a takedown of his own and gets Kenney down and holds him down against the cage to see out the fight. 29-28 Cruz for me, but a great fight.

MAIN CARD

Aleksandar Rakic def Thiago Santos (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tense opening to the fight as both men throw out feints and feelers but neither committing too much just yet. Santos charges forward with his left hand but Rakic steps back and lands a nice check right hook. A few leg kicks from each guy as Rakic takes the centre, but Santos staying patient on the outside. Big left hand from Santos but it’s blocked well from Rakic and they reset in the middle. Rakic fakes the right hand and Santos throws his left, which he slips and he throws a big head kick but Santos ducks under it. Nice jab from Rakic then a big body kick from Santos lands. 10-9 Rakic but not much action in that one.

Rakic takes the centre immediately as the round starts and lands a nice jab but both men being cautious once again. Rakic faking a level change and Santos threatens with a kick up the middle before trying to close the distance with his left hand but just missing. Rakic clinches up with Santos against the cage and both guys trade knees to the body and thighs. Another action-less round for the most part as we enter the final minute. Santos swings his left hand but misses and Rakic counters with a right hand and the round ends. 20-18 but not the most impressive performance so far.

Santos shoots for a takedown early on in the third round but Rakic is able to hold him off easily and turns the tables to put Santos against the cage. Huge body kick from Santos lands and Rakic tries to grab the leg but it looks like it hurt him a little. They trade leg kicks again before more feinting and missed hooks from both fighters. Rakic goes for a takedown but Santos defends well and starts landing some big elbows to the head. Rakic tries again but it’s defended well and Santos lands some nice knees in the clinch that follows as we enter the final minute. Not much happens in the final minute and it should be a win for Rakic on the scorecards. 30-27 or 29-28.

Islam Makhachev def Drew Dober via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (1:37)

Good start from Dober as he fires in a low kick followed by a jab, before Makhahev shoots for a single leg takedown and gets the fight to the ground immediately. Makhachev in half guard but very heavy on top in a chest to chest position as he goes body head with strikes. Makhachev slides into mount momentarily but Dober gets it back to half guard before he passes into side control. Makhachev tries to slide onto the back of Dober but he manages to move away before Makhachev slides through quickly back into side control. He takes the back and then transitions to an armbar, but runs out of time and Dober survives. 10-9 Makhachev.

Second round once again and Makhachev avoids a big hook before another single leg takedown and trip gets the fight back to the ground. Makhachev is able to tie the legs of Dober up between his own and starts pressuring with his top game again with body strikes. Completely dominant so far from Makhachev in full guard, landing more and more ground and pound with a flush elbow to the face. Round ends with Makhacehv in control, 10-8 round. 20-17.

Dober throws a big left hand that Makhachev slips and then he goes for a bear hug like takedown and gets it. Dober attempts a kimura to defend but Makhachev is able to step over and defend it. As soon as Dober lets go Makhachev slides his shoulder under the chin of Dober and secures the submission out of nowhere! Super impressive performance from Makhachev.

Aljamain Sterling def Petr Yan via Disqualification (Illegal Knee), Round 4 (4:29)

Fast paced start to this fight from Sterling as he moves forward quickly and is right in the face of Yan applying lots of pressure. Constantly touching him and kicking his body and making it really uncomfortable. Body kick attempt from Sterling lands and gets caught by Yan who throws him to the ground. Sterling lands a flying knee and keeps coming forward then gets a takedown himself. Yan is able to get back to the feet then lands a big right hand that drops Sterling! Both fighters keep up the high pace for the rest of the round, super close. 10-9 Sterling but could go either way.

Sterling comes out fast again in the second round and goes for a takedown but Yan is able to defend it well and ends up standing with Sterling on the floor under him. The referee stands them up after some leg kicks from Yan and then Sterling goes in for the takedowns once again, but Yan defends well for the most part. Sterling goes for the takedown against the cage but Yan is defending well as we enter the final minute. Sterling steps away and tries to trip him but it fails and he continues to come forward. Yan ends up behind Sterling and takes him down for the final 15 seconds. 20-18 Sterling for me, but could be 19-19.

Third round and Yan is starting to go for the body a bit more as Sterling starts to slow down. Sterling still touching him with jabs but Yan is taking over now a bit more, landing more shots and seeing everything Sterling is doing. Sterling trying to throw more strikes but he’s considerably tired and the champ is opening up a bit more with some takedowns of his own as well as a few solid right hands. 29-28 either way.

Fourth round and Yan is taking over the fight now. Sterling is shooting in with lazy takedown attempts and Yan is dominating the striking exchanges and landing at will almost. Yan stuffing all the takedown attempts at chopping away at the legs and body of Sterling, controlling the entire pace of the fight. Yan holds Sterling down and throws an illegal knee to the head of Sterling! Oh my goodness. Sterling is out of it right now and the referee calls in the doctor and waves the fight off. Wow. New champion via DQ.

Amanda Nunes def Megan Anderson via Submission, Round 1 (2:03)

Anderson takes the centre of the cage and Nunes takes her time to step forward.. big overhand right lands from Nunes and rocks Anderson immediately. She steps forward and lands two more that drop Anderson. She lands some ground and pound then switches to an armbar and triangle at the same time to force the submission. The best ever.

Jan Blachowicz def Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (49-45 x2, 49-46)

Composed start to the fight from both fighters as Adesanya looks to get his range with feints while Blachowicz takes his time coming forward. Adesanya throws a few head kicks that are blocked by Blachowicz, who throws a few leg kicks that land and some right hands that miss. A few more leg kicks from each fighter as the fight continues at a relatively slow pace. Adesanya lands a nice body kick but is forced backwards as Blachowicz comes forward with a left straight. Round comes to an end without much action but probably an Adesanya round for pressing the action.

Adesanya comes out with a bit more speed in this round and flicks out his leg kicks well, but Blachowicz starts checking them. Blachowicz fires back with a nice one-two that lands on Adesanya but doesn’t connect quite flush. Adesanya chopping away at the leg of Blachowicz who lands a nice jab to the body and closest the distance and tries to clinch, but Adesanya escapes quickly. Adesanya lands an inadvertant low blow that causes a very short break in the action before a second low blow moments later is also accidental and causes a break. Blachowicz comes forward with a flurry into a clinch pop Adesanya gets out and keeps landing jabs and low kicks. 20-18 Adesanya but not a lot of big moments so far.

Blachowicz comes out harder in the third round and starts blasting some punches that land, then shoots in for a takedown and gets it. He tries to take Adesanya’s back but Izzy slips away and counters with a big left hand that rocks Blachowicz! Adesanya lands a few jabs but stays relatively calm before Blachowicz clinches up with him again against the cage but Adesanya once again pulls away. Both fighters exchange jabs and then Blachowicz lands a nice stiff right straight. Adesanya goes for a body kick that gets caught but nothing comes from it and the round ends. 30-27 Izzy, but could be 29-28.

Fourth round and Adesanya is opening up a bit more now. Some nice jabs and leg kicks land as Blachowicz is still looking for the big hooks and straights. More of the same as the round progresses before Blachowicz shoots for a takedown and gets it. From there on, he controls from half guard and side control and drops big ground and pound strikes and just wears on Adesanya. Jan’s round without a doubt. 39-37 Izzy for me but could be 38-38.

Final round and Blachowicz is breathing very heavily, so Adesanya comes forward with a bit more pace. Lots of jabs and he tries to follow it up with a straight right hand but Blachowicz avoids. Not much urgency from either fighter just yet and Blachowicz blasts a takedown half way through the round. Blachowicz starts hammering away with ground and pound and moves into half guard. He continues to control the round and then moves into mount as it comes to an end to reign down punches. 3-2 either way.. good fight.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Main Card Predictions

The biggest and best card of 2021 is finally upon as as a title fight triple header takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Petr Yan will defend his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling in potentially the best 135lbs title fight ever, before Amanda Nunes returns to the octagon to fight Megan Anderson in a featherweight title fight. The card will be headlined by Israel Adesanya trying to become just the fifth dual-weight simultaneous champion in the companies history as he moves up to light heavyweight to take on Jan Blachowicz.

Elsewhere on the card, Islam Makhachev returns to the octagon to take on Drew Dober while bantamweight great Dominick Cruz headlines the prelims against Casey Kenney in a do-or-die fight for his career on a blockbuster 15 fight card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 20 we had a poor night for predictions going 4/9 on the night, although it was worsened by a majority draw and a dodgy decision too. It moved us to 240/380 (63.16%) with 108 perfect picks (45%) since starting our predictions.

We’ll look to move ahead with a big week this week on a stacked card, breaking the card down into three this week. We’ve already predicted the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, so lets move onto the main card now.


Thiago Santos (21-8) vs Aleksandar Rakic (13-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An absolute war is sure to happen here in the light heavyweight division between the scarily powerful Thiago Santos and the hottest prospect in the division in Aleksandar Rakic. Santos was on a tear in the 205lbs division before losing a close decision to Jon Jones in the title fight where he blew out both knees, before being finished by Glover Teixeira last time out at UFC Vegas 13. Rakic bounced back from a decision defeat to Volkan Oezdemir with a dominant decision win over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Vegas 8.

Santos is a tremendous kickboxer with enough power to put anyone out cold with one punch, while Rakic is a really technical striker who showed his excellent wrestling game against Smith last time out. Rakic has knockout power of his own with nine stoppage wins and has the youth and size factor on his side too. The likelihood is Rakic uses his boxing game and mixes in takedowns for a decision win.
PICK – Aleksandar Rakic via Decision

Islam Makhachev (18-1) vs Drew Dober (23-9) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A lightweight fight between two guys expected to be contenders in the future as Makhachev takes on Drew Dober. Makhachev hasn’t fought in almost 18 months, but is on a six-fight win streak coming into this one. Dober on the other hand has won six of his last seven, with his only defeat coming to Beneil Dariush in the middle of that run.

Makhachev is an active striker who uses his length brilliantly and also has a hugely impressive ground game, which you’d expect considering he trains with the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Dober is a decent boxer with a pretty impressive ground game too, as shown by his six submission wins in his career. The likelihood of this fight is that while Makhachev should get the win, we won’t see him at his free-flowing striking best. I think they’ll exchange on the feet and Makhachev will take it down to the ground and just control his way to a win.
PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision

Petr Yan (15-1) vs Aljamain Sterling (19-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

For my liking, the best fight on the card. The bantamweight division is arguably the most stacked in the entire company and these two are the very best of that bunch. Yan is on a a ten-fight win streak and currently sits at 7-0 in the UFC, winning the title in his last fight by KO’ing Jose Aldo on Fight Island at UFC 251. Sterling is a UFC veteran but is only 31 years old and is currently riding a five-fight win streak beating all the top guys in the world en route, including Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 with a sub-90 second submission.

Yan is a stunning boxer who’s punching and footwork in the pocket saw him outstrike the legendary Aldo and has seen him rack up seven KO wins in his career. He’s also got excellent takedown defence as he showed when he avenged the only defeat of his career against Magomed Magomedov outside the UFC. Sterling is potentially the best grappler in the division with super jiu-jitsu but he’s also a decent striker too. It’s a really intriguing fight between the two and it could quite easily go either way.

We’ve not had to see Yan on the ground in the UFC and if anyone is going to get him there it’s Sterling. Sterling has a four inch reach advantage too and likes to use his kicks to keep distance. While it’s more than possible that Yan closes that distance and just outboxes him from the pocket but something tells me that Sterling will be able to get a takedown in the rounds and control from the top position for a new champion.
PICK – Aljamain Sterling via Submission, Round 4

Amanda Nunes (20-4) vs Megan Anderson (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The women’s G.O.A.T is back to defend her 145lbs belt once again as she takes on a legitimate featherweight in Megan Anderson. Nunes is on an 11-fight win streak having won two belts and beaten everyone there is to beat en route to this fight, including Felicia Spencer most recently at UFC 250. Anderson is a world class fighter on a two-fight win streak after beating Zarah Fairn dos Santos and Norma Dumont.

Nunes is the hardest hitting woman ever while also being a truly great grappler and an extremely good kicker. While Anderson is a hard hitter too with a great right cross and a good clinch game, she doesn’t match up to Nunes’ level anywhere. It’s really hard to see how Anderson can get a win here, with the truest description of the outcome here being that if Nunes is motivated then she wins by stoppage.
PICK – Amanda Nunes via Knockout, Round 3

Jan Blachowicz (27-8) vs Israel Adesanya (20-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The main event sees champion vs champion with the light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz making the first defence of his title against middleweight king Israel Adesanya. Blachowicz is on a four-fight win streak, knocking out Luke Rockhold, Corey Anderson and Dominick Reyes in that run. Adesanya is undefeated and has run through everyone in the division, KO’ing his rival Paulo Costa at UFC 253 last time out to retain his title.

This should prove to be Adesanya’s toughest test yet. He’s expected to weigh in at around 193lbs, way below the limit, while Blachowicz will be cutting weight to get there so there is a considerable size difference between them. Blachowicz is a powerful puncher with good submission skills and decent grappling, but at 38 years old he isn’t the quickest or sharpest anymore. Adesanya has a height and reach advantage over the Polish fighter and he will look to use that and his speed to avoid anything and point score/counter strike. Blachowicz will undoubtedly look to put this fight on the ground to use his size advantage but I think Adesanya will be too quick and be able to get a stoppage. I’m envisioning a head kick followed by a TKO by strikes, but it should be a super main event.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Knockout, Round 2

2021 Will Be the Year of New Male Superstars For the UFC

After years of the same names at the top of the world in the mixed martial arts, 2021 is set to spark the start of a new era.

2020 will end with all the same champions as it started with except for three. Deiveson Figueiredo, Petr Yan and Jan Blachowicz are now the reigning champions of the flyweight, bantamweight and light heavyweight divisions but even they only got into that spot because Henry Cejudo and Jon Jones vacated the belts.

As the crazy chapter of this year ends though, the UFC has set itself up nicely for a huge year in 2021.

In every division in the men’s realm, there is at least one hot up and comer on their way up towards a title charge looking for a new spell of domination.

Brandon Moreno has the chance to enter the year as a champion by de-throning Figueiredo at UFC 256 on a three-week turnaround, while at bantamweight Aljamain Sterling has a chance to push his popularity through the roof with a win over Petr Yan.

135lbs may be the deepest division there is though with the likes of Marlon Vera, Nathaniel Wood, Sean O’Malley, Cory Sandhagen, Song Yadong, Casey Kenney and more making there way up the rankings. A run of wins for any of them would see them push into that top five and title contention which is only a positive.

UFC 252: O'Malley v Vera : News Photo

Featherweight is in a similar spot. Brian Ortega is set to be next up to challenge Alex Volkanovski but the competition after that fight is exciting too. Zabit Magomedsharipov, Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar, Bryce Mitchell and Shane Burgos are all ranked and could all boost their title aspirations with some wins in 2021, which would almost certainly create a new star at the top of one of the most stacked divisions around.

Lightweight is likely to see the end of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s reign, whether or not he decides to go for 30-0. If he does and is successful, the next champ will be an instant superstar anyway. The most star-studded division the UFC has is also home to some top prospects. The likes of Islam Makhachev, Beneil Dariush, Diego Ferreira, Gregor Gillespie and Drew Dober could be put on a hot streak to gold with a string of victories.

Welterweight has superstars already but in terms of prospects they’re probably closer to title contention than other divisions. The likes of Geoff Neal, Leon Edwards, Khamzat Chimaev, Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa are all likely to etch towards title contention with a win or two and all will be fairly new names to the casual fan looking at the top of the division.

UFC Fight Night: Smith v Rakic : News Photo

Middleweight has the likes of Marvin Vettori, Edmen Shahbazyan, Omari Akhmedov, Darren Till and even Paulo Costa all under the age of 30 already in the rankings and some big name wins for them will see them in the conversation to challenge Israel Adesanya for his belt.

Light heavyweight and heavyweight are likely the divisions with the least amount of prospects coming through currently who look ready for title contention. The likes of Aleksandar Rakic and Jiri Prochazka could potentially be in the picture before the end of the year with a win or two but beyond that you’re looking at guys who’d need a big step up. Nikita Krylov, Johnny Walker, Jimmy Crute and Misha Cirkunov could be in the upper echelons of the division with a good run.

With heavyweight severely lacking in prospects, Cyril Gane is likely the only one that will get anywhere near the top end of the rankings but the potential of Francis Ngannou holding the belt is something the UFC would love. His presence in Africa along with the fact that his style will have casual fans buzzing with the violence is the stuff superstars are made of.

It’s a chance for the UFC to put on some incredible fights that fans would love to see and build new, genuine superstars quickly and legitimately.

2021 is the start of a post-COVID era for the fight game and they need someone to take it by the scruff of the neck to march into the future.

UFC Vegas 8 Fallout: Does Rakic Deserve A Title Shot?

A fun UFC Vegas card this past weekend was headlined by a light heavyweight contender showdown as prospect Aleksandar Rakic dominated former challenger Anthony Smith to a unanimous decision win.

A fight that was expected to be fireworks ended up in a strategic battle as Rakic chopped down his opponent with leg kicks before controlling from the top position on the ground, with neither fighter taking serious damage to anything above the waistline.

As Smith revealed after the fight, it looked like the two men were in different weight classes. Rakic had more power everywhere, meaning Smith was powerless to prevent Rakic from laying on top of him and landing some ground and pound to give the judges an easy decision to make. With Rakic taking the win and surely now entering the Top 5 in the division, talk obviously heads towards that of a title shot for the Austrian.

But is he deserving? Not just yet for me.

Rakic has an impressive record in the UFC, winning five of his six fights, and his only defeat coming to former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in a split-decision. At just 28 years of age, Rakic isn’t even close to his fighting prime yet which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the division. But Saturday night was his first ever main-event and it wasn’t even five rounds.

After a short-notice bump up to main event status, the parties couldn’t agree on a pay-increase for the new spot and thus it was decided to keep it as a three-rounder. That means despite the dominance Rakic showed, he’s still never had to go the full 25 minutes in a fight. He’s never been dragged into deep waters.

It was also Rakic’s first ever opponent inside the Top 5. While the win was obviously very impressive, I don’t think it’s enough to warrant a title shot. Dominick Reyes had to beat Jared Cannonier, Volkan Oezdemir and then Chris Weidman before he received his title shot. Jan Blachowicz will fight Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253, having beaten Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson in his last three bouts.

In a bout scheduled just after that one, Thiago Santos will fight Glover Teixieira. Santos hasn’t fought since his narrow defeat to Jon Jones over a year ago, where he blew out both knees after landing several leg kicks. Prior to that he was on a violent run where he beat Kevin Holland, Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz in a six month period. Glover just dismantled Anthony Smith to put himself back into contention after accumulating a three fight win streak prior to that knockout win.

UFC Fight Night: Smith v Rakic : News Photo

The best option for Rakic in my eyes, is either the loser of the title fight between Reyes and Blachowicz or the loser of the fight between Santos and Teixeira. It may seem weird to set him up against losers of fights, but they would all be the best competition he has ever fought and would act as an indicator of whether or not he’s able to hang at that level consistently.

The winner of the Santos and Teixeira will likely be next in line for a title shot, meaning the loser of both fights will have to work their way back up. With Rakic, it would provide a perfect opportunity for all to show they belong there.

For Smith, talks of a potential move back down to middleweight seem premature. He has done exceptionally well at light heavyweight and one loss against a top prospect shouldn’t detract from the good work he has done. Losses to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira are also nothing to be ashamed of. He may need to reset and build again but at just 32 years old he has plenty of time to do so. He shouldn’t feel the need to rush or cut weight back to 185lbs where the division is stacked. He’d be putting himself at a disadvantage which he clearly doesn’t need considering his most recent performances.

205lbs is lacking star power with Jones’ relinquishing of the title. Rakic could be the next coming of superstardom among the UFC’s big men.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Mallory Martin def Hannah Cifers via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:33)

A slow start to the fight with lots of feints and jabs exploded into life halfway through as Hannah Cifers landed a big one-two down the pipe and knocked Martin down! She rushes in and lands huge ground and pound but Martin refuses to quit. More punches against the cage and the referee is super close to ending it, but Martin shoots for the takedown. Cifers stuffs it and lands more big shots but Martin pulls guard to survive the rest of the round. 10-8 Cifers.

Second round, Martin has recovered and immediately shoots for the takedown and gets it. She lands big ground and pound of her own on Cifers who can’t get out from under her smothering top pressure. She lands big elbows that cut Cifers and force her to turn on to her stomach. Martin immediately sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap. Huge comeback win!

Polyana Viana def Emily Whitmire via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (1:53)

A quick start sees both women land big strikes with the hands, with Whitmire marking Viana’s face up. She goes for a clinch and looks for the takedown and after a scramble ends up on top, but Viana is throwing big elbows from the bottom and moving well to not let Whitmire settle. Viana continues with the elbows and then throws up an armbar out of nowhere, she rolls through and forces Whitmire to verbally tap almost instantly. Beautifully done and another first-round finish for the Brazilian.

Sean Brady def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:47)

Good opening round for both fighters here as both Brady and Aguilera choose to stand for the majority of the round and exchange punches. Brady is landing a nice left hook quite often, which opens up a small cut over the eye of Aguilera but he continues to push forward and pressure. Aguilera lands a nice right hand and that’s the cue for Brady to rush in for a power double leg. He lands a bit of ground and pound in the final 60 seconds before the round ends. 10-9 Brady.

Second round starts with Aguilera looking to land a calf kick and punches but Brady is wise to it and lands a big power double leg takedown again. He’s looking to pass the guard and ties up the neck of Aguilera in doing so. He passes the knee over into mount and after a short scramble sinks in the mounted guillotine and puts Aguilera to sleep. Still undefeated, that was an excellent performance.

Alex Caceres def Austin Springer via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:38)

A very strange fight this one. Both men come forward throwing punches and leg kicks but making their opponent miss a fair amount. Springer throws lots of inside leg kicks but Caceres doesn’t mind too much. Caceres moves forward and lands a big body shot, which makes Springer shoot for the takedown. Caceres stuffs the takedown, moves immediately to the back and throws in a rear naked choke with a body lock too that puts him to sleep. 3 in a row for Bruce Leeroy.

Zak Cummings def Alessio Di Chirico via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

A tame first round between these two who are both throwing wild in the pocket exchanges but nothing much either side of that. Di Chirico lands a big left and right hook but Cummings eats it and continues to walk forward. As the round starts to wind down, the Italian lands a few more big shots that may have wobbled Cummings but overall a more strategic round than anything else. 10-9 Di Chirico.

Another very tactical round between the two fighters but Cummings seems to have been able to make the reads he needs. Di Chirico throwing a lot of the same shots as the first round but this time Cummings isn’t there to be hit, while he’s landing his left hand more often although not crazy powerfully. Nice inside leg kick towards the end of the round from Cummings drops Di Chirico but other than that a very close round. 19-19 for me.

Third round and Di Chirico comes out SWINGING. He’s throwing wide, looping hooks and he connects a few times but Cummings is countering with a straight left that lands flush on the nose. Cummings doing well to manage the distance between the two but lots of respect between both fighters with shadow-boxing and feints. A low blow from Cummings causes a short pause in the fight but as soon as they get back in there Cummings ducks a hook then lands a big left hook of his own. As the buzzer goes Cummings lands a huge head kick to Di Chirico and stumbles back to his corner, just about under his own power. That head kick wins him the fight for me on the scorecards. 29-28 Cummings.

Impa Kasanganay def Maki Pitolo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Really fun first round between these two Contender Series fighters. Pitolo landing nice combos and snappy hooks while Kasanganay is looking for looping overhands that are connecting and causing damage. Pitolo stuffs a clinch attempt well and throws a head kick on the break but misses, before a huge overhand lands flush for Kasanganayand cuts Pitolo over the eye. A razor close first round, but for sheer volume I’d go 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round is a bit slower this time around but it’s more of the same in terms of action. Pitolo landing jabs well and snapping out counter strikes but Kasanganay’s big overhand is landing regularly again. Kasanganay starts upping the volume as the round begins to come to an end and lands a huge elbow off the clinch before a big one-two straight to the chin. Pitolo looks tired and Kasanganay is fresh. 19-19.

Pitolo’s cardio looks drained in this final round as Kasanganay continues to march forward and throw big hooks. Another big overhand right cracks the chin of Pitolo, but Pitolo is struggling to land anything significant in return in this round. Kasanganay seems stronger, fresher and quicker in this round but Pitolo showing an impressive chin just eating the shots. Round comes to an end with both men at a stalemate as Kasanganay will take the decision.

MAIN CARD

Ricardo Lamas def Bill Algeo via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

A fast paced start to this first round as both guys throw big attacks early. Lamas is throwing a lovely front kick to the body and now mixing in head kicks while Algeo is keeping his hands low but throwing punches in bunches and stepping forward. Lots of wild exchanges but Lamas is now throwing a calf kick that is having great success and affecting the mobility of Algeo. A nice elbow at the end of the round for Algeo hurts Lamas but the experienced fighter clinches and holds out for the end of the round. 10-9 Lamas but a very close round.

Second round starts with a fast pace yet again but Lamas looks to slow it down with a takedown. He takes the back quickly but Algeo breaks the grip and scrambles out back to his feet quickly. More wild exchanges from both as Algeo cuts Lamas open with what could be a broken nose. Lamas now desperate for the takedown but Algeo continues to block them and land big strikes. Lamas goes for another takedown but Algeo throws a huge knee up the middle and rocks Lamas, who moves away and looks to avoid. Algeo goes for the takedown but after a scramble the fight goes back to the feet where Lamas has now recovered. Another fantastic round but that’s Algeo’s for me. 19-19.

Algeo starts on the front foot in this third round but Lamas gets an early takedown to take control in this round. He starts landing big ground and pound in an unorthodox crucifix position which cuts up Algeo and forces him into defence mode. Lamas lands big elbows and continues to hold him down in as many ways as possible, with hooks and taking the back into full mount too. Big elbows and huge punches can’t put Algeo away but they secure a 10-8 round for Lamas which should be a 29-27 win.

Alexa Grasso def Ji Yeon Kim via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A slow start to the round as both women look to feel each other out in the early exchanges. Grasso throws out stiff jabs and one-twos while Kim keeps constantly moving and then countering during any exchanges. Kim lands a huge left hook followed by a right overhand that both land but Grasso eats it well and continues to come forward. Another nice shot from Kim followed by a body kick as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Kim.

A much better round for Grasso in the next two rounds as she uses her heavier hands to inflict more damage and outmuscle her opponent. A dominant, professional win.

Neil Magny def Robbie Lawler via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

An interesting opening round between these two welterweights. Lawler comes forward with a nice body shot and then goes for a takedown but Magny stuffs it and reverses the position really well. A nice grappling exchange between the two ends with Magny on top with a neck crank, but Lawler defends it well. A small amount of ground and pound sees him inflict some damage but overall it’s a wrestling match win for Magny. 10-9.

Second round and Lawler comes out aggressive once again and lands a few strikes before Magny goes back to the wrestling that gave him so much success in the first round. He’s being very heavy on top and causing Lawler lots of problems. During transitions on the ground Magny attempts a Twister submission but can’t quite get the position and Lawler lands nice elbows to get out but Magny too strong and dominant in the wrestling department yet again. 20-18.

Lawler comes out all guns blazing in this final round, knowing he needs the finish for a win. He lands a nice right hand that hurts Magny, but the lanky fighter pulls guard and controls the fight from therein. He is just physically too strong for Lawler and able to dominate everywhere. On the feet again and Magny is landing his jabs and front kick to the body at will. Complete dominance and a masterful performance from the Haitian sensation.

Aleksandar Rakic def Anthony Smith via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

A war between two light heavyweights with title aspirations starts out with big leg kick exchanges between them. Rakic is firing them off and Smith is noticeably in pain, before two quickfire kicks land on Smith and he goes down! Rakic gets on top looking for ground and pound but Smith uses his grappling experience to survive well and take minimal damage while on the bottom. 10-9 Rakic but an odd round compared to what we expected.

Second round and Rakic comes out with an immediate leg kick again but Smith walks through it to close the distance. Smith throws a big right cross that catches Rakic flush and hurts him but then shoots in for a takedown, which Rakic uses his physical strength to deny it and ends up on top himself. Much like the first round now, Smith taking minimal damage but is on the bottom and struggling for anything significant. Rakic staying heavy on top as Smith tries to get back to his feet and ends the round dominant against the cage. 20-18 Rakic.

Rakic opens the final round with yet another leg kick and Smith is in agony. He closes the distance and looks for the back of Rakic, but they’re too sweaty and he slips off, ending up on the bottom once again. Half the round to go and Smith gets to his knees but Rakic so heavy on top and landing big knees to the leg and body. Into the final minute and the fight is the same as it’s been throughout with Rakic dominant on the ground. Hugely impressive performance in a fight that didn’t go anything like what was expected. 30-27 Rakic.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Main Card Predictions

A three round main event on top of a decent looking card is what the UFC have put together for the fans this weekend, as they return for yet another Fight Night card at the APEX in Las Vegas.

Anthony β€˜Lionheart’ Smith takes on prospect Aleksandar Rakic in the light-heavyweight division, with all eyes on the top of the division following Jon Jones vacating the belt for a move up to heavyweight.

With 11 fights on the night including a stacked main card considering it’s a Fight Night event, i’ll break down the card and pick my winners for each fight. Last weekend’s card chopped and changed so much between the predictions being written up and the card happening (Thurs-Sat) that we didn’t keep track of the picks. Hopefully no such thing will happen here.

I picked the prelims already, which you can see here.

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs Ion Cutelaba (15-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The first time these two fought each other was one of the strangest fights in UFC history. Cutelaba came out super aggressive and nearly came to blows in the octagon with Ankalaev before the fight even started, before employing a “drunken master” strategy where he acted hurt when getting hit to egg Ankalaev on. It backfired though when the referee stepped in insanely early and handed Ankalaev a TKO win. The fight has been rescheduled three times since but fallen apart due to COVID-19 but is now finally set to happen. Realistically, Ankalaev is the better fighter. Both are strong wrestlers with powerful strikes but the Russian mixes his strikes up better with kicks too and his defence is much better. Cutelaba’s best chance is to hang in there until Ankalaev gets tired, or he lands a big punch.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Lamas (19-8) vs Bill Algeo (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The legend that is Ricardo Lamas was supposed to take on Uriah Hall this week but with that falling apart, it’s UFC debutant Algeo who he’ll come up against instead. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who’s sole aim in every fight is to get the fight to the ground, take his opponents back and strangle them. Lamas is a veteran who knows how to cope against all types of threats, but is on a 1-3 streak currently. He is a range fighter on the feet but if the fight goes to the ground Lamas has some of the best ground and pound in the game. I think it’s likely that this fight ends up with Lamas in top control landing shots with Algeo looking for a sweep and submission. Without a full camp though, ‘The Bully’ should be able to dominate his way to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

Alexa Grasso (11-3) vs Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting bout here between a former strawweight and a former bantamweight. Alexa Grasso is a fantastic boxer who has spent her entire career at 115lbs up to now. She’s struggled in the past against wrestlers and grapplers, but won’t have to worry about that against the bigger opponent in Kim. Both women are strikers first but with Grasso being at her more natural weight class for this fight, I expect her to be able to be quicker and with the more naturally heavy hands she should land the bigger shots throughout. The size discrepancy could potentially be a problem but Kim is likely to suffer in the cardio battle too, so Grasso should be able to get back in the win column.
PICK – Alex Grasso via Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler (28-14) vs Neil Magny (23-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The fight of the night in the co-main event of the night. Robbie Lawler steps in on short-notice to take on Neil Magny after Geoff Neal dropped out injured. Lawler is known for his violent style, in which he steps forward and goes for the kill at all times. He’s not fought since he was dismantled by Colby Covington just over a year ago. Magny is a rangy striker who has won his last two fights against Anthony Rocco Martin and Jingliang Li via decision. He used his footwork well and his karate style to counter strike and avoid any problems. Magny will have a 6 inch reach advantage and therefore will be able to implement his favoured style well, which has me leaning in his favour. Lawler has incredible power and wrestling skills though, so it’s not a sure-fire pick but I’ll go with my head and pick Magny via decision.
PICK – Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Anthony Smith (33-15) vs Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A firework in the light heavyweight division as former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith takes on top prospect ‘Rocket’ in a fight that could determine who the first challenger to the soon-to-be-crowned new champion is. Smith went on a tear through the division beating legends Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans then Volkan Oezdemir before losing his title shot to Jon Jones. He bounced back from that by submitting Alexander Gustafsson in Stockholm but was then dismantled by Glover Teixiera in May. Rakic was on a 12 fight win streak including a violent first-round head-kick knockout of Jimi Manuwa before he was beaten by Oezdemir back in December. Both men are violent strikers with one punch power, but Smith is a talented grappler too which often gets overlooked. This main event is just three rounds, so cardio shouldn’t come into the equation so it’s all about who can land the bigger shots to catch the eye of the judges. It’s unlikely to get to the ground but just in case it does, I’m going with Smith to shut down the prospect and keep himself in the top of the division.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Split Decision