Krzysztof Jotko (24-5) vs Brendan Allen (19-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really fun middleweight scrap up next. Jotko has won five of his last six including each of his last two, claiming decisions over Misha Cirkunov (UFC Vegas 38) and Gerald Meerschaert most recently. Allen has won four of his last five including his last two, submitting Sam Alvey in February before a decision win over Jacob Malkoun at UFC 275.
Jotko is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, with an ability to wrestle and strike to a very high level depending on the opponent. Allen is in a very similar boat however, with more of a killer instinct to finish fights and that gives him a slight advantage here.
On the feet he is the more active and powerful striker with his kickboxing, while the wrestling looks pretty even when comparing their style and size. That additional output on the feet should be enough to claim a big shout on the scorecards, but he’ll have to be alert in a fight that is likely to lack big moments throughout. PICK – Brendan Allen via Decision
Joaquim Silva (11-4) vs Jesse Ronson (21-11) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Two lightweights clash looking to get back in the win column here. Silva has lost his last two, getting KO’d by Nasrat Haqparast back in 2019 before his comeback fight ended in 37 seconds when Ricky Glenn KO’d him at UFC Vegas 29. Ronson also suffered defeat in his last bout, getting submitted by Rafa Garcia back in April.
Neto’s nickname is “Netto BJJ” but he is a straight up brawler when it comes to fight style, stepping forward and either killing or being killed. Ronson on the other hand is a power puncher too, with great durability and skill on the feet but he has real trouble when it comes to being taken down. This fight is really down to how Silva chooses to fight.
Should he opt to use his wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills then he should realistically be able to control him and potentially lock up a submission on the mat. But if he goes in as he has done throughout his UFC career and just goes for a brawl, he’ll get knocked out in the first round. I can’t pick someone off the basis of a ground duel when they’ve only attempted two takedowns in seven fights, so Ronson takes his head off early. PICK – Jesse Ronson via Knockout, Round 1
Jessica Penne (14-7) vs Tabatha Ricci (7-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Baby shark returns to the cage to take on a veteran in this one. Penne saw a two-fight win streak, including an armbar win over Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 265, snapped last time out against Emily Ducote. Ricci on the other hand has won her last two in a row, beating Maria Oliveira and then Polyana Viana most recently.
Both these women are at their best when grappling on the inside, with Penne using her wrestling and Ricci trying to use her judo to win fights. Ricci is also a decent striker from range, using her reach and length to jab before looking to instigate the grappling. Penne will certainly try to grind her way to a win, but I think Ricci’s volume could be the difference.
Ricci has multiple avenues to takedowns and she’s more than capable of being able to grind out control on the ground and beginning to threaten with submissions. Penne has a size advantage which could help with her takedown attempts, but I’m going with youth on the scorecards on this occasion. PICK – Tabatha Ricci via Decision
Ilir Latifi (16-8) vs Aleksei Oleinik (60-16-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Featured prelim bout of the night has the heavyweights going at it. Latifi snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out when he claimed a split decision win over Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 28. Oleinik on the other hand snapped his own three-fight losing streak after being KO’d by Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 6) and Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 19) before dropping a decision to Sergei Spivak when he submitted Jared Vanderaa at UFC 273.
Latifi is a serial wrestler, who looks to step forward and use double legs or single legs to get the fight to the ground where he can grind on top and control his opponent. He loves to loop his right hand over the top too and it does carry power. Oleinik on the other hand throws absolute bombs while he marches forward to get his hands on you and drag you to the mat to strangle you. Oleinik has a big size advantage and while Latifi has the wrestling advantage there is a huge submission threat even if Oleinik is on the bottom.
Expect Latifi to try to get on top with wrestling and be relatively successful with that, but eventually he’ll tire and Oleinik will be able to wrap him up with some kind of choke to earn the win. PICK – Aleksei Oleinik via Submission, Round 2
The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.
Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.
In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.
We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.
Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Julio Arce (17-5) vs Daniel Santos (10-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Arguably one of the fights of the night opens the card this weekend in the bantamweight division. Arce has lost two of his last three, including getting KO’d by Song Yadong in his last bout at UFC Vegas 42, while Santos makes his UFC debut on a two-fight win streak but he hasn’t competed since December 2019.
Arce is a very technical fighter who is no stranger to high-intensity brawls, with excellent kickboxing skills. Santos alternatively is an absolute powerhouse, who has incredible spinning techniques and great knockout power in his hands with wildly unpredictable striking. Arce’s experience and technical edge gives him an advantage but the fact he’s coming off his first ever KO loss and fighting someone who hasn’t fought in over two years leaves us with lots of question marks.
This is a really difficult fight to pick because of those variables, but I lean towards Arce. His technique should see him land well, especially considering Santos’ flimsy defence on occasion. He doesn’t have the sort of grappling to worry Arce too, so I think he lands clean enough to earn a very entertaining judge’s decision. PICK – Julio Arce via Decision
Piera Rodriguez (7-0) vs Kay Hansen (7-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
An undefeated prospect against a young and hungry prospect next up in the strawweight division. Rodriguez earned this fight by coming through an winning a decision on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out, while 22-year-old Hansen is currently on a two-fight losing streak after losses to Cory McKenna at UFC Vegas 14 and Jasmine Jasudavicius at UFC 272 in her last outing.
Rodriguez is a boxer with good power in her hands, but she tends to stand quite square and flat footed because of her attack style. That opens up a big window for Hansen to wrestle, which is where she’s at her best, and she can start to work her strong submission game too.
Hansen has only ever been KO’d once before so will be confident that she can eat a shot to get in on her takedowns. There is every chance that Rodriguez can splatter her with a big strike, but if Hansen leans on her wrestling and doesn’t hesitate on her shots she should earn a win here. PICK – Kay Hansen via Submission, Round 2
Anthony Hernandez (8-2) vs Josh Fremd (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An intriguing middleweight bout next between two interesting prospects. Hernandez claimed a big win against Rodolfo Vieira at UFC 258 last time out, earning a stunning submission win against the ‘black belt hunter’. Fremd makes his UFC debut off a two-fight win streak, earning a submission win most recently in February.
Hernandez is a great grappler in his own right and has got decent striking too, but his defence was impressive in the last fight against Vieira. Fremd is a good wrestler who uses steady pressure throughout the 15 minutes to wear his opponents down, but ‘Fluffy’ showed last time out that he isn’t one to crumble under it.
Fremd isn’t a scary strong grappler, so Hernandez won’t be scared to go to the ground if needs be and he has the power on the feet to really hurt Fremd. Ultimately I expect him to clip Fremd early and then wrap up a submission on the ground to earn another win. PICK – Anthony Hernandez via Submission, Round 1
Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big heavyweight fight up next between a wiley veteran and an interesting prospect for the big men. Oleinik has lost his last three in a row, getting KO’d by Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 6), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 19) and Sergey Spivak most recently at UFC Vegas 29. Vanderaa on the other hand has lost his last two, getting KO’d by Alexandr Romanov and then dropping a decision to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 272.
Oleinik is a terrifying submission artist with a stunning 46 submission wins in his career including 14 ezekiel chokes. He looks to walk through strikes, swinging a wild overhand right before getting hold of you and taking the fight to the ground. Vanderaa on the other hand is a decent boxer who uses calf kicks well, and will have a considerable size advantage in this bout. On the feet Vanderaa will walk forward and pressure, but Oleinik will enjoy that.
The issue for Oleinik here ultimately is the fact he is 44-years-old now and he will be much smaller. If he can get the fight down to the ground then it’s his fight to lose, without a doubt. But Vanderaa will have a big weight advantage and it could be difficult to do. That said, Vanderaa is coming into this bout on just ten days notice, so I think Oleinik does get him down in the first round and ties up a choke for an impressive victory. PICK – Aleksei Oleinik via Submission, Round 1
The UFC returns to the USA and a full crowd for a fight night event this weekend as Curtis Blaydes fights Chris Daukaus in Columbus.
After an amazing trip to London, we have another heavyweight main event this time with two fighters battling to stay in top five conversations and enter their name into the round-robin that’s buzzing in Francis Ngannou’s absence.
We’ll also see a huge flyweight eliminator between Askar Askarov and Kai Kara-France to see who could be the next title contender in the division.
Marc Diakiese (14-5) vs Viacheslav Borshchev (6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A lightweight bout to open up the main card in this one. Diakiese has lost five of his last seven and is battling for his UFC career right now, having lost to Rafael Fiziev and then Rafael Alves most recently at UFC Vegas 42. Borshchev is 6-1 professionally with a huge body shot KO against Dakota Bush at UFC Vegas 46 in his debut last time out.
Diakiese and Borshchev are both strong kickboxers with good explosive power in their attacks, while grappling is their weakness although they’re strong enough to hold their own. Diakiese has a major speed advantage between the two and from the outside will look to land kicks and combinations, while Borshchev will look to walk forward and counter with power shots and he has the ability to end the show early.
This will be a highly entertaining striking battle and I’ll be surprised to see it go the distance. Diakiese’s defeats have come to some of the top guys in the division, and Borshchev is one of the best strikers in the division. It’ll be fun and competitive, but I think the power advantage will take it’s toll as the fight goes on for him to score a late finish. PICK – Viacheslav Borshchev via Knockout, Round 3
Ilir Latifi (16-8) vs Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big heavyweight bout in this one to warm the crowd up for the rest of the main card. Latifi is a former light-heavyweight who has lost three of his last four, but picked up a win against Tanner Boser last time out at UFC Vegas 28 via split decision. Oleinik has lost his last three, getting KO’d by Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 6), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 19) and dropping a decision to Sergei Spivak most recently at UFC Vegas 29.
Latifi is a little man for the division with big weight and an excellent wrestling skillset, while Oleinik is a submission specialist looking for his 60th professional win. He is the master of the Ezekiel choke and is even capable of getting taps off his back with it, so Latifi must be careful. He has an incredible squeeze and can take a huge shot on the chin. Age is a big factor in this fight with a combined age of 82, so I don’t think it lasts too long.
Latifi is going to look to take the fight to the ground with wrestling and stay on top, throwing elbows and ground and pound to earn a win. Oleinik will happily go to ground and will look to sweep him with jiu-jitsu and then explode with chokes and limb attacks.
If this fight is on the way to the mat, then there are plenty of avenues from which Oleinik can secure a submission. He’s by far the bigger man, with Latifi way undersized for the division, and with great experience and submission skills I expect him to be be able to stay on top for long enough to wrap something up and squeeze the life out of Latifi for a win. PICK – Aleksei Oleinik via Submission, Round 1
Askar Askarov (14-0-1) vs Kai Kara-France (23-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An absolute banger and my pick for the fight of the night in this flyweight bout. Askarov is undefeated earned a dominant win over Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259 last time out. Kara-France has found a resurgence recently and earned a huge KO win over Cody Garbrandt at UFC 269 toset this title eliminator bout up.
Askarov is phenomenal. His wrestling is so clean and crisp, and his grappling skills deserve far more praise than they get and they already get plenty. Askarov’s striking is decent too, with decent power and enough to concern opponents to back up to the cage which allows his takedowns. Kara-France has got solid boxing skills and great power in his hands, while his takedown defence is decent and his lateral movement is solid.
This is a really good match-up, with different outcomes possible for both fighters. Ultimately though, the wrestling of Askarov just looks like too much for Kara-France to handle. Despite his good scrambling skills, Askarov has a habit of controlling guys once he has them down and his attempts are relentless until he gets them there. I’ve not seen anybody deny him on the mat yet, so until Kara-France does it it’s hard to predict he will. PICK – Askar Askarov via Decision
Matt Brown (25-18) vs Bryan Barberena (16-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big banger at welterweight incoming here. ‘The Immortal’ Brown is on a farewell tour and earned a big KO win over Dhiego Lima at UFC Vegas 29 in his last bout, while Barberena is 2-2 in his last four with a win over Darian Weeks at UFC Vegas 44 last time out bringing him on a wave of momentum.
Brown is a brawler at this stage of his career, with violent striking and great power in his limbs while he looks to take your head off. He’s also a solid wrestler when he needs to lean on it, which isn’t very often. Barberena is a powerful brawler too, but he’s been more prone to punishment since getting badly beaten by Vicente Luque five fights ago.
This fight will almost certainly be a barn-burner. Barberena will walk forward into the range that makes Brown incredibly dangerous and they’ll brawl in a phone booth until someone falls. Brown could get clipped, but the likelihood is he uses his clinch game well to land elbows and knees too. Ultimately that will be the difference and Brown climbs further up the all-time knockout list. PICK – Matt Brown via Knockout, Round 2
Joanne Wood (15-7) vs Alexa Grasso (13-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A women’s flyweight fight as the co-main event, but no idea why considering some of the fights on this card. Wood (formerly Calderwood) is on a two-fight losing streak, dropping a decision to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 and then getting submitted by Taila Santos at UFC Vegas 43. Grasso on the opposite hand has won each of her last two, claiming a decision win against Maycee Barber most recently at UFC 258.
Wood is a solid striker on the feet with good pressure fighting, mixing in clinches but struggling to battle against submission and grappling experts. Grasso is a solid boxer with some decent takedown skills of her own, while the volume of her striking is high. Wood likes 50/50 positions quite a lot to try and stamp her authority on fights, but Grasso will look to avoid them and just pump her jab and kicks from distance.
Defensively both of these women are not good defensively when it comes to grappling, so expect it to stay on the feet as much as possible. Wood needs to close the distance and will try to clinch, but Grasso has good movement and excellent boxing and that should ultimately be enough to stay away from the clinch and claim a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Alexa Grasso via Decision
Curtis Blaydes (15-3) vs Chris Daukaus (12-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweight main event, stake your claim for fight of the night. Blaydes was on a great run before running head first into a Derrick Lewis uppercut at UFC Vegas 19 and going unconscious, but bounced back with a dominant win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 266. Daukaus was doing the same until Lewis KO’d him against the cage at UFC Vegas 45 in the final card of 2021 to snap a five-fight win streak.
Blaydes’ game plan is the same against everyone – shoot for the takedown and dominate you on the ground until you can’t get up or the timer runs out. Daukaus on the other hand has got brilliant boxing and hand speed and is believed to have tremendous jiu-jitsu skills although it’s not been seen in the UFC just yet. If he’s going to win here though, he’ll need to show it from his back.
Blaydes will use his looping hooks on the feet and some low kicks to set up takedowns against the cage and while that’s the plan Daukaus will use his speed to land as much damage as he can. Once Blaydes shoots though, it’s unlikely he doesn’t get the fight down and then it’s a case of whether or not Daukaus can get back up or submit him from his back. I’d hedge my bets that is highly unlikely. Blaydes will lay and pray for 25 minutes from top position and do enough damage to earn a dominant win. PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision
Fast start to the fight from Procopio as she comes forward with some nice strikes before clinching up and using he strength and knees. O’Neill fires back with some fine combinations of her own, kneeing back in the clinch too and using her jab well. Procopio fires off some hard leg kicks and big right hands before clinching up again and pushing O’Neill against the cage. Lovely takedown from Procopio sees her on top with 90 seconds left but O’Neill is able to bounce back up very quickly and they start trading strikes again. Procopio using her strength to her advantage and pushing O’Neill against the cage again and the round ends with a scramble. 10-9 Procopio.
Another fast start to the second round but this time from O’Neill, as she marches forward with some good strikes and a knee before Procopio catches it and takes her down. Procopio tries to control position but O’Neill fires off some big elbows from the bottom which forces her to move and allows O’Neill to kick her off and get back up. O’Neill has picked up the pace well and Procopio struggling to cope. O’Neill takes Procopio down and lands some big elbows on the ground from side control, before grinding her elbow across the face of Procopio. Procopio tries to set up a submission from the bottom before a scramble sets up a heel hook attempt, but O’Neill stays heavy on top to defend and sees out the round with ground and pound. 19-19.
O’Neill comes out quickly again and lands some decent strikes before tripping Procopio and immediately transitioning to a crucifix position. O’Neill landing lots of ground and pound strikes but not much damage being done, although Procopio struggling to escape. She finally gets her arm free and O’Neill switches to take her back, then goes full mount and then takes her back again looking for a rear-naked choke. Procopio stands with O’Neill on her back but she locks up the choke and squeezes until Procopio drops unconscious! What a win for O’Neill!
Rick Glenn def Joaquim Silva via Knockout, Round 1 (0:37)
RICKY GLENN!! FIRST LEFT HAND OF THE FIGHT LANDS AND DROPS SILVA! He follows it up with some ground and pound and then drops Silva again and the referee ends it! What a knockout!
Interesting start in this one as Martinez steps forward straight into the pocket to close the distance and starts roughing Parisian up with some clinches and dirty boxing. Some big punches from Martinez against the cage and he lands a huge slicing elbow that cuts Parisian. Parisian fires back with a knee and then two big hooks, but Martinez closes the distance again and just misses with a one-two. Martinez landing some heavy punches, with three nice uppercuts in a clinch and Parisian is struggling.Parisian trying to fight behind a jab but Martinez slips it and counters with a huge overhand right that wobbles Parisian! They clinch up again and Martinez doing plenty of damage as the round ends. 10-9 Martinez.
Parisian takes a dominant position early in the second round, getting hold of Martinez and pushing him against the cage but Martinez is landing lots of strikes to the head to try and get him off. Parisian being very heavy and leaning on Martinez, throwing some nice knees to the body and then a big elbow to the head. More short strikes but Parisian lands an inadvertant knee to the groin to cause a pause in the action. Martinez takes the centre and puts Parisian against the cage now but he gets away and then lands a flush right hand to the chin. Another clinch and Parisian lands three big elbows in a row before they clinch again. Martinez tries to sink in a guillotine but Parisian rolls through and avoids as the round ends. 19-19, big final round incoming.
Final round and Martinez trying to push the pace again, landing a nice four punch flurry while forcing Parisian backwards. Parisian lands a nice left hook but Martinez fires back with a right overhand that connects and Parisian is wobbled! He lands three more strikes but Parisian ties him up and pushes him against the cage. Martinez forces himself off the cage and lands some more strikes but Parisian using his size to try and wear Martinez down again. Parisian looking for a takedown but Martinez denying it well against the cage and forces the break. Martinez comes forward again but Parisian throws a lazy kick to the groin and causes a break with a minute to go. Another clinch once we restart sees both guys throwing short strikes as the round ends. Close third round but I think Martinez should get the nod.
Khaos Williams def Matthew Semelsberger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Very fast start to the fight as Williams explodes with a big punch that cracks Semelsberger right on the nose and wobbles him! Lots of blood coming from the nose as he looks to tie Williams up and recover. They eventually separate and both trade big right hooks, with Semelsberger landing nicely himself. Williams goes for a big combo after catching a kick but Semelsberger steps to the side then lands a big right hand himself to counter. Williams firing first but Semelsberger countering well, good round. 10-9 Khaos.
Early exchange from both guys as they trade powerful hooks but both miss narrowly. Semelsberger lands a flush one-two that stuns Williams but he’s okay. He comes forward again and lands a nice right hook of his own that sends Semelsberger backwards but Semelsberger now is starting to back Williams up more. Williams lands some nice leg kicks and then lands a nice counter right hook of his own as Semelsberger tries to shoot in first himself. Nice one-two again from Semelsberger and his own leg kicks are having an effect on Williams. Good charge across the cage with some wild hooks from Williams to end the round. 19-19 for me but could easily be 20-18 too.
Khaos takes the centre early on in this one and lands a few tight hooks, but Semelsberger is coming forward to try and be first now. Another leg kick gets a reaction, but Williams returns with two of his own. Beautiful combination lands from Williams that ends with a heavy left hook cutting Semelsberger over the eye, but he’s walking gingerly on his front leg now from the leg kicks. Semelsberger not throwing enough volume in this round as Williams lands two more big hooks, but Semelsberger counters with a right hook that just misses. Big right hand from Semelsberger then Williams responds with one of his own before they clinch and end the round. 29-28 Williams for me.
Virna Jandiroba def Kanako Murata via Doctor Stoppage (Arm Injury), Round 2 (5:00)
Fast start to the round from Jandiroba as she comes forward with some decent striking and catches Murata with some big one-twos. Jandiroba lands three big right hands and Murata is wobbled but she evades well and steps back. Murata closes the distance and clinches up and then Jandiroba looks to pull guard from against the cage. Murata slams her down and lands some heavy ground and pound strikes, but Jandiroba eats it and then throws up an armbar! It looks tight but Murata doesn’t tap and is able to step over and eventually get out of it, ending the round on top trying to land ground and pound. 10-9 Jandiroba.
Another good start to the round from Jandiroba as she starts throwing her big right hand early on once again. Murata is eating strikes and her left arm is clearly injured from the armbar in the first round, with Jandiroba landing a huge head kick. She follows it up with some big right hands too and Murata is defenceless at this point but still looking to fight back. 20-18.
The doctor looks at the arm between rounds and tells the referee immediately to wave it off, this one is over. Big win for Virna Jandiroba!
Nicolae Negumereanu def Aleksa Camur via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Good start early on for Camu as he lands a nice jab and is showing feints that Negumereanu is struggling to read. Two more jabs and a power right hand land too and Camur is doing well, then slips a left hand. Negumereanu finally lands a big left hand and Camur is staggered immediately, then starts turning up the pressure and lands big shots. Camur slowing down and getting hit a lot more and Negumereanu is growing into the fight. 10-9 Nicolae.
Second round and Negumereanu does really well with forward pressure and lands another nice left hand early. They clinch up against the cage and Negumereanu has the controlling position, but Camur defending himself well to keep the fight standing. Both fighters start trading hooks in the centre that land, then Negumereanu lands a big left hook before the round ends. 20-18 Nicolae but it’s close and Camur is still in it.
Final round and Negumereanu comes forward with good pressure and heavy strike attempts early on. Camur countering well but Negumereanu keeps coming forward and is really turning the pressure up. Nice jabs and Camur lands some shots of his own but Negumereanu’s chin is unreal right now. Camur goes for a takedown but it’s denied easily and then Negumereanu lands a big elbow and two left hands. Negumereanu puts Camur against the cage and holds him with strikes but gets an incredibly stern warning for holding the fence, when really he should have a point deducted at this point (he’s been warned countless times already). Final 30 seconds and they strike it out to the buzzer. Great fight but should be 30-27 Nicolae.
Matt Brown def Dhiego Lima via Knockout, Round 2 (3:02)
Slow start to this fight from both guys, with Brown taking the centre of the cage and faking for his shots while Lima throws some heavy calf kicks as usual. Nice body kick from Brown before a jab to the body as Lima throws another big calf kick. Lima slips Brown’s jab and hits two hard leg kicks before looking for a takedown, but Brown stuffs it. More hard leg kicks from Lima and while Brown looks for the jab neither guy really taking control. 10-9 Lima but this one is up in the air in reality.
Another close start to the round as Lima comes out early with leg kicks, while Brown moving gingerly already. Lima throws two leg kicks in a row and gets a reaction from Brown, but then he goes for a takedown and Brown stuffs it well. Lima using his strength advantage to get a clinch situation against the cage but Brown is stuffing them well. Lima goes for a right hand but Brown slips it and lands his own right hand straight down the middle and Lima faceplants!!! Oh my what a knockout!!! Matt Brown!!
Bruno Silva def Wellington Turman via Knockout, Round 1 (4:45)
Fast start from Turman who steps forward and goes straight for a takedown against the cage. After some back and forth, Turman is able to lift him and slam him down to the mat but Silva reverses the position and looks to control Turman against the cage. Turman uses a kimura grip to escape and he reverses and goes back to takedowns against the cage. Turman takes the back of Silva who’s standing and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Silva is able to shake him off and ends up in Turman’s guard, firing off big ground and pound strikes from top position. Silva lands a right hand then a left to the temple and Turman is out cold! Silva lands one more as the referee waves it off!! Huge win for Bruno Silva!
Seeungwoo Choi def Julian Erosa via Knockout, Round 1 (1:37)
Powerful start to the fight from Choi as he lands his big right hand on three separate occasions, but Erosa stays standing. Erosa fires back with a left hook but Choi lands another big strike and Erosa looks taken aback by his power. Choi slips, throws a right hand that just misses but follows with a big left hook that drops Erosa!! Choi jumps on with ground and pound and the referee waves it off! Huge win for Choi! Wow!
Marlon Vera def Davey Grant via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26)
Nice start from both guys with lots of feelers and leg kicks getting thrown in the octagon early. Grant throwing plenty of volume, with high kicks, wheel kicks and some overhand rights but Vera blocking almost everything and taking the centre. Big leg kick misses from Vera and then Grant lands a nice left hook. Grant throws a body kick but Vera catches it and puts him on his back, but Grant makes his way back up to the feet but has a cut on his forehead. Nice leg kick from Grant again but Vera responds with one of his own. Nice right hand from Vera but then he follows that with some heavy leg kicks again and Grant is switching stance. Good round, could be 10-9 either way.
Vera takes the centre in the second round and starts throwing teep kicks to the body as well as leg kicks. Vera upping the pace a little and lands a nice left hook but Grant comes back with some hooks of his own. Thai clinch from Vera and he throws four big elbow to the face that open up a big cut on Grant’s head. Head kick from Grant before another elbow from Vera and a knee to the body. Clinch and Grant manages to throw Vera onto his back and ends up in top position. Vera looks for a triangle then tries to escape but Grant keeps him down and takes side control. Nice elbows from Grant but Vera rolls out of a guillotine attempt to end up on top and start raining down ground and pound to end the round. Another close one, I think that could be Vera’s though. 19-19.
Great start to the third round from Vera again as he presses forward, gets a takedown and locks up the back. He goes for a rear-naked choke but Grant escapes, then Vera moves into full mount with an arm-triangle. Again he escapes and they end up back on the feet, when Grant lands a huge left hook that staggers Vera! Vera blocks the next one and lands a lovely straight elbow to the head and starts attacking the body of Grant and he’s hurt. Vera trips him and gets on top again and lands another big elbow that hurts Grant, then a big body shot as Grant tries to get back to his feet. One minute to go and Grant looks for a kimura but Vera defending it very well and is able to escape it and get into full mount. Grant surviving and gives up his back but Vera sinks in a rear-naked choke! Grant refuses to tap and sees out the fight! What a fight, should be a Vera win.
Serghei Spivac def Aleksei Oleinik via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Encouraging start from Spivac as he is able to escape from an immediate clinch attempt from Oleinik before landing a really nice left hook. Spivac keeping his distance and lands a nice right hand again on his break, but Oleinik fires off a hard leg kick. Oleinik goes for a single leg takedown but Spivac defends it well and currently looks too strong for Oleinik. Nice overhand right lands from Oleinik but Spivac counters with a big uppercut too. Spivac right hook misses by inches and Oleinik goes to clinch again, but Spivac clinches and finally manages to get his back and drags him down to the ground. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik is looking for a head and arm choke but then he moves into full mount and goes for a scarf hold but the buzzer goes. 10-9 Oleinik.
Second round starts and Oleinik is walking Spivac down, but the pace is slow and the power is waivering on his punches. Spivac keeps moving and then Oleinik clinches and pulls guard, which allows Spivac to throw a few strikes on the ground. Oleinik looking to sweep from the bottom but Spivac starts throwing elbows. Oleinik starts looking for submission but Spivac is controlling the position with power and landing some nice elbows and ground strikes. Spivac goes for an anaconda choke but Oleinik escapes and rolls into full mount. He switches to the scarf hold again but once more, the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Oleinik is absolutely exhausted going into the final round and Spivac opens up with a big right hook that opens a cut on Oleinik’s head. He goes for a takedown again but Spivac denies it and then lands some big shots while Oleinik is on his knees, forcing him to get up quickly. Oleinik still walking forward and throwing his big overhand right before he goes for another takedown against the cage. Spivac ends up on top and starts throwing some short elbows. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik starts throwing strikes off his back but Spivac fires back from a more dominant position and sees the round out that way. 29-28 Spivac for me.
Korean Zombie def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)
Nice, competitive start as Jung takes the centre and throws a nice leg kick early, then follows up with a left straight. Ige throws a few leg kicks of his own then smashes a big body shot in range and then steps out. Ige goes for another big looping hook but Jung times it and shoots under it for a takedown. Zombie on top but Ige explodes out from under him and they both get back to the feet. Zombie lands a big right hand and smells blood but Ige retreats and seems okay now. Zombie lands some nice jabs and sees out the round. Close, but 10-9 Zombie.
Both guys trade leg kicks early in the second round, with Zombie using his reach to land first as it stands. Zombie landing jabs nicely and disguising the calf kicks well too, but Ige still trying to come forward too. Nice right hand from Zombie lands and Ige shoots for a takedown, but his defence is too good and he denies it. Heavy leg kick again from Zombie but Ige shows no reaction. Ige goes for another takedown but Zombie defends it and in a scramble ends up on Ige’s back looking for a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes. 20-18 Zombie.
Ige comes out aggressive in the third but Zombie immediately flicks out the jab and ends up in top position after getting a takedown. Ige throwing big elbows from the bottom but the Zombie lands a big slicing elbow of his own. Zombie stacks him and lands a nice shot then takes the back of Ige and goes for a rear-naked choke but Ige fighting the hands and just about surviving. Zombie has a body triangle locked up and he’s throwing some good strikes but Ige looking to tie him up and prevent the submission. Zombie goes for a crank with ten seconds to go but no chance of getting it and the buzzer goes. 30-27 Zombie, dominant so far.
Tight fourth round now as Zombie is pumping out the jab and Ige is being far more aggressive. Zombie trying to counter strike while Ige looks for an opening and he lands a big right hand. He moves for a double jab then clinches up but Zombie just moves him away and resets. Big right hand from Ige again but Zombie eats it and lands a nice counter left-hook. Ige having a much better round this time but then throws a body kick and Zombie catches it, throws a straight right hand and then gets taken down with a minute left in the round. Zombie stacks Ige and lands a bit of ground and pound before the round ends. 39-37 Zombie.
Ige knows he needs a finish and comes forward aggressively early on, but Zombie looks very composed and calm just staying behind his jab. Ige throws a nice shot to the body and follows it with a left hook and it hits hard. Zombie didn’t like it so Ige does it twice more, then stuffs a Zombie takedown! Zombie lands a nice right hand counter but Ige goes to the body again. Another takedown attempt that Ige denies but Zombie lets the jab go again. Both guys trade body shots then Zombie lands a knee that hurts Ige and he’s able to drag him down and take his back with a body triangle again. Zombie just riding out the clock as Ige tries to escape but Zombie just too strong on the ground and sees out the clock for a big win. 49-46 Zombie.
The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend for a featherweight banger of a main event as ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung takes on Dan Ige.
Both men have earned a reputation as one of the better guys at 145lbs but having previously lost to the best of the best, they want to prove they’re not nearly men by getting a win in this main event.
In this 12 fight card, you also have two heavyweights in the co-main event as Aleksei Oleinik takes on Serghei Spivac while Davey Grant takes a step up in competition to take on Marlon Vera at bantamweight.
Last week at UFC 263 we had an incredible night of picks, going 10/14 with NINE perfect picks to take us up to 338/530 (63.77%) with 151 perfect picks (44.67%). We’ll look to improve that record here and having started with the six prelim bouts here, here’s our main card picks.
Matt Brown (24-18) vs Dhiego Lima (17-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Brown is a top level wrestler but is now 40-years-old and his durability has really started to waiver as he’s got older. Lima on the other hand is a competent striker and grappler himself, but he’s just not a top level guy in any aspect. Brown will look to take Lima down, control from top position and land ground and pound but Lima has got good takedown defence and a range advantage too.
Lima has been rocked in the past but I think he’s big enough to take the strikes of Brown who isn’t close to what he once was and get himself a win. PICK – Dhiego Lima via Decision
Wellington Turman (16-4) vs Bruno Silva (19-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger of a fight in the middleweight division between the experienced youngster Wellington Turman and Bruno Silva. Turman has lost two of his last three, including a KO loss to Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 6 while Silva returns from a two-year USADA suspension to make his long-awaited UFC debut on a four-fight win streak.
Silva is an absolute monster on the feet, with incredible power in his hands as his 16 knockout wins in his career show you. He has good cardio and steps forward with tremendous pressure to just suffocate opponents, forcing them into a war and eventually knocking them out. Turman is a jiu-jitsu expert with some okay striking to set up his takedowns, but fighting backwards is not something he is good at.
Silva will walk him backwards against the cage and swing his chin into oblivion to land a knockout win and a bonus for the night. PICK – Bruno Silva via Knockout, Round 1
Julian Erosa (25-9) vs Seungwoo Choi (9-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Erosa is a striker who can take plenty of damage and has good submission skills, while Choi is a really well-rounded fighter who switches up his attacks based on whatever his opponents weaknesses are. The problem is, Erosa doesn’t have many weaknesses. Yes he gets hit too much, but he has power himself and wild technique to catch opponents off guard. Choi is patient and able to mix it up well, but his best bet in this one will be on the feet.
Overall, I think Choi is too well-rounded for Erosa to exploit. His jab is good and he’ll be able to pick Erosa off over the course of 15 minutes while also mixing in his own takedowns and preventing Erosa’s. PICK – Seungwoo Choi via Decision
Marlon Vera (16-7-1) vs Davey Grant (13-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Vera is a good wrestler with some excellent striking in his repertoire, with heavy leg kicks a big part of his arsenal. Grant is a grappler naturally but has found out recently that he has dynamite in his left hook to earn back-to-back KO wins. Despite that though, there are levels between these two fighters. Vera has solid grappling himself and is definitely the better striker on the feet and I think the leg kicks will have a big say in the fight.
‘Chito’ will use his kicks and takedown defence to empty the gas tank of Grant and use some takedowns of his own to secure a fairly comfortable win for himself. PICK – Marlon Vera via Decision
Aleksei Oleinik (59-15-1) vs Serghei Spivak (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight clash of styles in the co-main event as the veteran Aleksei Oleinik takes on the up and coming Serghei Spivak. Oleinik has lost his last two-in-a-row, getting knocked out by Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 8 before getting knocked out by Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Spivak has won his last two, earning a decision over Carlos Felipe before knocking out Jared Vanderaa.
Oleinik is a submission specialist, with 46 submission wins in his career. He is not a good striker and looks to close the distance to get hold of his opponent and take them to the ground to work his unorthodox submission game while Spivak likes to take his opponents down to beat them up and earn a submission of his own. But the striking gap between the two is very, very wide.
Spivak is good enough as a grappler to avoid submissions from Oleinik and with a size and strength advantage, Spivak should earn himself a stoppage as Oleinik’s gas tank empties out. PICK – Serghei Spivak via Knockout, Round 2
Korean Zombie (16-6) vs Dan Ige (15-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Zombie is a pressure fighter with crazy power in his strikes and some solid grappling skills on the mat, while Ige is more of a volume puncher with good wrestling to fall back on too. Ige’s got good boxing and skills but only four KO wins in his career tell you that Jung can walk forward to land his shots. Jung is physically stronger and also the bigger man and I feel that he has the speed and power edge too.
Overall, TKZ is still just better than Ige is. He has the edge everywhere and unless the beating that Ortega put on him has sent him into a shell of himself, Jung should pop him into oblivion to earn a wide decision win much like Kattar did. PICK – Korean Zombie via Decision
*Drakkar Klose vs Luis Pena was cancelled a few hours before the event after one of Klose’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.*
*Rafael Alves vs Pat Sabatini was cancelled after the weigh-ins, after Alves weighed in a 157.5lbs for their featherweight (146lbs limit) fight.*
Serghei Spivac def Jared Vanderra via Knockout, Round 2 (4:32)
Good start to the fight for Spivac as he responds to being back up against the cage with some nice overhand rights, before catching a leg kick and charging forward to get a takedown. Vanderra is able to get back to his feet and clinch before Spivac sweeps him and ends up on top in half guard. Spivac looks to advance into side control but Vanderra does well to get him back into half guard, while Spivac looks to touch him with ground and pound. Lots of top control from Spivac but not much damage from him as Vanderra seems content to see out the round from the bottom – and that’s what he does. 10-9 Spivac.
Another quick start for Spivacas he ducks a head kick attempt from Vanderra and gets the fight back to the ground early to dominate from the top once again. Spivac content to stay in half guard and rain down short elbows and short punches, while Vanderra isn’t active enough at all to try and get out of the position. Vanderra is busted up bad with Spivac blasting him. The referee taking a close look as Spivac moves into full mount and continues to blast him with strikes, with Vanderra barely defending himself and the referee finally calls it off. Impressive from Spivac.
Aiemann Zahabi def Drako Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:05)
Interesting start to this one as Rodriguez takes the centre of the cage but both men seem to be waiting for the other to throw. Rodriguez throws a nice uppercut down the middle and Zahabi fires back with some strikes of his own, before a short clinch. Nice calf kick from Rodriguez and he seems to be loosening up a little now. Both men go for a right hand and Zahabi starches him! Rodriguez goes down and Zahabi lands one more shot before the referee steps in and ends it. Wow what a punch!
Chas Skelly vs Jamall Emmers – CANCELLED
Unbelievable. Skelly makes the walk to the octagon and before Emmers comes out, the broadcast team tells us that he is suffering from back spasms backstage and can’t make the walk. The fight is cancelled. Crazy scenes.
Casey O’Neill def Shana Dobson via Knockout, Round 2 (3:41)
Very fast start to this fight as O’Neill comes out quickly, they both exchange strikes and O’Neill goes for the takedown with a single leg. Dobson defends it well and O’Neill lets go, before another exchange and finally getting the takedown she craved. Dobson rolls through and ends up on top but O’Neill scrambles and they get back up. Dobson throwing some powerful strikes but O’Neill isn’t fazed at all and after a clinch she dumps Dobson back to the ground and goes into side control. O’Neill landing some nice elbows from the top but Dobson defending well and forces a scramble, which O’Neill wins by coming out on top before getting another takedown. Lots of ground and pound but Dobson doing well to not take too much damage, as the round comes to an end with O’Neill trying to lock in a heel hook. 10-9 O’Neill.
Fast start to the second round again, with Dobson throwing a nice body kick but O’Neill catches it and takes the fight to the ground. She tries to take the back of Dobson but it’s defended well despite two hooks being in. O’Neill gets into full mount and starts raining down crazy levels of ground and pound and Dobson tries to escape by kicking off the cage, but O’Neill maintains the position and keeps landing damage. Dobson tries to escape by O’Neill just stays tight to her and continues to stay in dominant positions landing elbows and punches and forces the referee to step in and end it. What a performance from the debutant!
Julian Erosa def Nate Landwehr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:56)
HOLY!! What a fight!!! Both men come out all guns blazing, Erosa sends Landwehr flying backwards with a right hand, Landewehr drops Erosa with strikes in the clinch, Erosa rattles the brain of Landwehr with some uppercuts in the clinch and then knocks him out with a flying knee! Landwehr protests to the referee but I think it was the right call. What a knockout for Julian Erosa! Wow!
John Castaneda def Eddie Wineland via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44
Tactical start to the fight early on as Wineland takes the centre of the cage and looks to pressure forward, with Castaneda circling on the outside. Wineland with lots of head movement and feints, with his rapid right hand landing hard a couple of times. Leg kick from Castaneda as he continues to circle, before an exchange of strikes sees Wineland get caught with a counter left hand. Lead right hand lands from Castaneda and wobbles Wineland and Castaneda charges for the finish. He lands four or five shots clean that drop Wineland and pours on the pressure with ground and pound to force the referee to stop the fight. Huge knockout for Castaneda!
Jared Gordon def Danny Chavez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this bout as both men look to feel each other out with feints and movements. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage but misses with some big strikes before they exchange calf kicks. Big one-two from Chavez backs Gordon up momentarily before he comes forward again with some leg kicks. Chavez throws a kick that hits Gordon right on the cup and there’s a brief pause in the action. Fight restarts and Gordon lands two nice leg kicks that Chavez tries to check, before he throws a beautiful spinning wheel kick that Gordon just avoids. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage again and the two play with throwing heavy strikes but they’re both tentative about it and keep missing. Heavy leg kick from Chavez and Gordon goes for a takedown but it’s stuffed quite easily. Good round, very close. 10-9 Gordon for me but could go either way really.
Quicker start to this round from Chavez, as he comes out quickly for a takedown and gets it only for Gordon to pop back up to his feet quickly. Chavez trying to take the centre now but his leg is definitely hurting him and Gordon shoots for a takedown and gets it. He takes him against the cage and starts applying good top pressure from the guard position. Chavez tries to get back up to his feet but Gordon defends the position really well and is able to stay on top. More ground and pound as he goes body-head and Gordon is completely dominating on the ground right now. Chavez kicks Gordon away and tries to get back up but Gordon is able to recover and push him back down before he gets back up. Gordon passes guard with seconds remaining and takes the second round clearly. 20-18 Gordon.
A more tentative final round as Chavez takes the centre and starts walking Gordon down now. Some good shots from Chavez land but his leg is definitely compromised, and Gordon goes for a takedown which is denied. Chavez lands a couple more right hands and Gordon lands a few more of his own before shooting for the single leg and getting the takedown. Chavez looks exhausted on the bottom as Gordon keeps busy from top position and looks to pass guard while throwing lots of ground and pound. Chavez gets back to the feet and goes for a flying knee but once again Gordon gets hold of him and clinches to force the grappling exchange to see out the round. 30-27 Gordon.
Tom Aspinall def Andrei Arlovski via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:09)
Very positive start to the fight for you Brit as Aspinall takes the centre and is using excellent footwork to step in and out of range. A few leg kicks from both and some nice blitzes but Aspinall staying very calm. Aspinall slips a shot and lands a big right hand that rocks Arlovski! He throws a barrage of strikes with tremendous hand speed and Arlovski looks hurt, then he keeps going to the body to try and get Arlovski to stop covering up before the veteran clinches up with him. Arlovski slowing this fight all the way down with a clinch as we enter the final 30 seconds and the clinch is broken. Both guys connect with a big right hand simultaneously just as the round ends. 10-9 Aspinall, good round.
Arlovski opens the round with a nice leg kick before landing a beautiful right hand that pushes Aspinall back. A bit more feinting and moving from Aspinall before he shoots in for a big power double leg takedown and gets it. He immediately wraps his arm around the neck of Arlovski and sinks in a rear naked choke which Arlovski taps too! Beautifully done! We have a new contender at heavyweight!
Phil Hawes def Nassourdine Imavov via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28 x2)
Quick start from Hawes as he comes out and lands lots of calf kicks early on to chop away at Imavov. Big combination of strikes land too but Imavov covers up well, before Hawes kicks at the leg again and drops Imavov. Hawes misses a looping right hook and Imavov clinches up with him, which allows Hawes to go for a takedown but it’s good defending from Imavov to keep it standing. Imavov throws and lands a big elbow but Hawes responds with an immediate takedown and then slams him down too to end up in side control. A couple of nice shots on the ground from Hawes land as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Hawes.
Couple of kicks each start the round before Hawes ducks a straight right from Imavov and goes for the takedown against the cage once again. The clinch battle continues before Imavov is able to separate after a few minutes against the cage. Imavov lands a straight right and then another that wobbles Hawes! He comes forward with a big right hand again but Hawes ducks it and blasts a takedown against the cage. Hawes is able to get the back and drag him down to the mat back into side control and starts throwing ground and pound strikes once again. Imavov doing a good job of defending from the bottom but Hawes ends the round on top. 20-18 but Imavov is still in this.
Imavov comes out quickly and heavy, but Hawes ducks immediately and gets a takedown once again. Imavov is able to get back to the feet but Hawes continues to hold him against the cage and throws knees before they break. Imavov tries to walk forward and throws an uppercut but Hawes avoids it and clinches up against the cage once again. Imavov frames off and lands two big elbows and then breaks away and lands some big right hooks that have Hawes wobbling! Hawes steps away and Imavov goes for a Thai clinch, which allows Hawes to clinch up against the cage again. Imavov breaks away and lands more shots but Hawes clinches up again and survives to the buzzer. 29-28 Hawes in the end for me. Great fight.
Chris Daukaus def Aleksei Oleinik via Knockout, Round 1 (1:55)
Very quick start to the fight as Daukaus comes out and throws a big right hand but Oleinik grabs hold of him and clinches up. He starts looking for a key lock but Daukaus does well and then he tries to pull guard for that famed Ezekiel choke but Daukaus stays standing. Huge shots land from Daukaus and they rock Oleinik, who comes forward again and throws a big overhand right that misses. Daukaus stays patient, fires of some big shots that are all landing flush including knees to the head and the referee steps in and waves it off! Hugely impressive win for Chris Daukaus!
Darrick Minner def Charles Rosa via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
Minner comes out with a fast pace to start the fight, closing the distance quickly and clinching up. Rosa goes for a guillotine immediately but Minner pops out and the two separate. Minner pushes forward and throws some heavy shots but only a couple land and Rosa eats them well. Minner gets the fight down to the ground with a nice takedown and then starts riding the positions. Both men transition really well throughout the round and Minner takes the top position for the most part to take the round. 10-9 Minner.
Second round and Minner lands a beautiful leg kick and follows it up with a big right hand that drops Rosa! Minner pounces for a finish and takes the back looking for a choke. Rosa defends it well and Minner continues to land some ground and pound while fishing for the submission but Rosa continues to defend it well. Minner controls the position and Rosa explodes back up to his feet, but Minner takes the back, and drags him back down and ends up in full mount. Minner threatening with a head and arm choke and it looks tight but Rosa transitions to an armbar attempt to escape! Minner lets it go and sees the round out on top. Potentially a 10-8 round. 20-17 Minner.
Minner opens the final round with a big right hook that wobbles Rosa and he ends up taking the top position once again after dragging him to the ground. Rosa threatens with a kimura but it’s perfectly defended by Minner who gets back into top position and stacks Rosa against the cage looking for ground and pound. Rosa looking to attack an armbar and transitions to an omoplata but he’s cut open bad and Minner is able to defend it very well. Minner goes into north south position and controls the neck and Rosa looks to cage walk to roll out but Minner stops him again and just takes the back. Minner stretches Rosa out as we enter the final 30 seconds. Rosa starts throwing elbows and punches from the bottom but Minner eats the shots and rides it out until the buzzer. Big win for Darrick Minner.
Yana Kunitskaya def Ketlen Vieira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Vieira opens the fight up with a couple of right hands before going straight in for a takedown. After some battling against the cage she gets Kunitskaya down, but the Russian battles her way back up and they re-engage in the clinch. Lots of knees to the body from Kunitskaya in the clinch which Vieira is not enjoying at all. Vieira goes for a throw, Kunitskaya throws a knee which lands but Vieira follows through with a takedown and gets it. Vieira steps over into mount pretty quickly but Kunitskaya does well to get back to half guard before Vieira steps into mount again and starts looking for submissions. Kunitskaya battles for half guard again and Vieira spends the last 90 seconds trying to get back into mount while they exchange ground and pound strikes. 10-9 Vieira.
Kunitskaya comes out fast in the second round and applies pressure from the off with strikes before clinching up against the cage. More of those uncomfortable knees to the body and as Vieira tries to get a takedown, Kunitskaya reverses it and gets herself on top as they fall to the ground. Vieira looking for submissions from the bottom while Kunitskaya defends well and throws lots of good ground and pound. Vieira transitions for an armbar but loses it and then goes for a knee bar which is close, but Kunitskaya kicks off and gets back to her feet. Vieira tries to drag the fight to the ground again but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing those knees again. Vieira goes for a kimura but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing big knees to the body on the ground followed by solid elbows too to end the round. 19-19.
Calf kicks for Kunitskaya to start the third round before Vieira changes levels and gets the takedown within the first minute. Vieira ends up in half guard on top and throws some nice ground and pound and is trying to pass into guard but Kunitskaya is defending well and the cage isn’t helping her either. She goes chest to chest and finally passes into mount and starts looking for a head and arm choke. Kunitskaya trying to escape but Vieira’s level is so high and she takes the back now. Kunitskaya starts fighting the hands and legs to break the locks but Vieira is still controlling the position well as she searches for an opening for a rear-naked choke. Kunitskaya throwing punches from the top with Vieira on her back and she reverses the position with 10 seconds and starts raining down huge ground and pound to end the round. Should be a Vieira round though which would give her the fight. 29-28 Vieira.
Derrick Lewis def Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 2 (1:26)
A very static start to this fight as Lewis stands pretty much still in the centre and invites Blaydes to come towards him. Blaydes moves in to close the distance and Lewis cracks him with a big right hand that sends Blaydes retreating. He comes back in and lands a nice jab, but Lewis loops a big right hand again and misses. High kick attempt from Lewis misses and Blaydes is staying very patient, and then lands a big right hand. He slips Lewis’ counter and lands two more right hands that rock Lewis a little, then follows that up with some leg kicks. Blaydes is controlling the striking with his speed and movement and is throwing lots of leg kicks to destabilise Lewis. Lovely jab from Blaydes followed by another leg kick and Lewis is hurting on that leg. 10-9 Blaydes.
Second round and Blaydes comes out quickly with some nice right hands once again. He shoots for the takedown and Lewis denies it brilliantly. They meet in the middle again and Blaydes shoots for another takedown and Lewis throws an uppercut and Blaydes is out cold!! Lewis lands two more huge shots while Blaydes is unconscious and the referee ends it! Holy wow! What a knockout!
Arlovski is the epitome of a mixed martial artist, with fantastic striking and a solid ground game to his name too. Aspinall is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who took time away from the cage to become a professional boxer, training with world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. He has tremendous one-punch power, great hand speed and technique and is so confident in his ground game that he isn’t hesitant to throw hands.
Arlovski is a veteran and knows how to stuff momentum, but with where they both are in their careers right now this could be the statement win Aspinall’s career needs to really take off. PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1
Phillip Hawes (9-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
After getting a random, undisclosed injury during fight week of UFC Fight Island 7 this fight was rescheduled for this card. Someone’s winning streak end as Hawes and Imavov go to war at 185lbs. Hawes has won each of his last five fights, including an 18 second knockout on his UFC debut at UFC 254, while Imavov has won each of his last six including his UFC debut against Jordan Williams in October.
Hawes is a violent counter striker who is very physical in his approach, while Imavov is a bit more of a rounded fighter. His issue is that when he’s out-gunned on the feet he tends to use his wrestling, but Hawes is the better wrestler here. Imavov has good footwork but with a range and power deficit, but Hawes should be able to get the victory here. PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 2
Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1) vs Chris Daukaus (10-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A very, very interesting fight at heavyweight between a true veteran of the sport against an up and coming prospect. Aleksei Oleinik will be competing in his 75th professional fight here against Daukaus, who has was his last three in a row including both of his UFC fights.
If you have knockout power, which Daukaus has with nine knockout wins in ten victories, you can beat Oleinik. But you have to do it before he gets his hands on you and puts you on the ground. He can submit you from the top or the bottom but Daukaus’ striking is so powerful and heavy hands have beaten Oleinik in three of his last five fights. I’ll either get this spot on or horribly wrong, but I think Daukaus pulls out the big knockout win. PICK – Chris Daukaus via Knockout, Round 1
Charles Rosa (13-4) vs Darrick Minner (25-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fight that will take place between two unranked fighters with two of the best submission artists in the featherweight division. Rosa has won eight of 13 via submission, but his most recent fight was a split decision win over Kevin Aguilar. Minner on the other hand has won 22 of 25 wins by submission and in each of his last 13 wins, including his most recent fight against TJ Laramie back in September.
Rosa has a great karate style on the feet and he fights in a similar way to Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, but Minner will pressure him well with boxing and attack the legs with solid calf kicks. Rosa has the advantage on the feet and his movement could see him look to keep it there, but Minner has a great wrestling background and looks to land a big shot then take the fight down to the ground.
It’s a very close fight between the two but I think with Minner more likely to get Rosa to the ground than Rosa is to keep the fight standing, I’ll go with Minner to get the win. PICK – Darrick Minner via Submission, Round 2
Ketlen Vieira (11-1) vs Yana Kunitskaya (13-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Both women are grapplers by trade, by Vieira is a legit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and is comfortable off her back and on top, while Kunitskaya prefers to lay and prey from the top and uses her kicking game when on the feet. It seems like a recipe for disaster against Vieira, who is among the elite grapplers in the women’s MMA world.
It’s close, but stylistically Vieira seems to have a path to victory wherever the fight ends up while Kunitskaya will need to win in a realm where her opponent is at her best or where she isn’t at her best also. PICK – Ketlen Vieira via Decision
Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
That Oleinik fight doesn’t bode well for Lewis though. He was taken down and dominated on the ground by the much smaller man and only got back to his feet when the bell went to end the first round. Blaydes will take this to the ground and look to blast him out of there from top position. If Lewis somehow survives the first round, he will need a knockout just like against Oleinik but Blaydes is elite and will take it back to the ground for a dominant win. PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 2
Everyone loves a good slug-fest when it comes to a fight. Two fighters looking to take each other’s head off with strikes will almost always be the way to a casual fan’s heart.
But submissions can sometimes be just as brutal and creative. I took a look back through the archives and decided on my Top 10 most creative submissions in MMA history.
#10 Aleksei Oleinik – Ezequiel Chokefrom the bottom
Aleksei Oleinik has made this choke more known now, but when he pulled it off from the bototm nobody knew what had just happened. ‘The Boa Constricter’ looked like he was in trouble when his opponent Viktor Pesta was ground and pounding him from a half mount position. The veteran had already pulled the choke off in his 12 times career, but when he slid one arm under the neck and then tightened down his grip it was the first time a fight was ended with the choke in UFC history. Pesta went from punching to tapping in a matter of seconds and Oleinik got the historic win.
#9 Ben Saunders – Omoplata
A relatively popular submission for its rarity in being able to actually successfully pull it off, Ben Saunders grabbed the first Omoplata submission victory in UFC history. During his fight with Chris Heatherly in 2014, Saunders found himself in a promising position and decided to proceed despite the difficulty of the task. He got his leg over the shoulder of his opponent before cranking on the joint, bringing Heatherly to near tears due to the excruciating pain. He got the tap and to this day it remains one of only two Omoplata victories in UFC history.
#8 Korean Zombie – Twister
Back in 2011, Chan Sung Jung was an up and coming Featherweight looking to make a name for himself. ‘Korean Zombie’ put himself into the history books that night by securing the first ever Twister submission victory in the UFC. Similarly to the Omoplata, the submission is notorious for it’s difficulty to pull off, with so many factors at play. Sung Jung didn’t care though, as he took the back of Leonard Garcia before switching his hooks to controlling just one leg, putting his opponents arm behind his own head and then cranking the head to completely contort the spine for the tap. A submission befitting of its name.
#7 Chris Lytle – Triangle Choke & Americana Combo
There aren’t many things worse than finding yourself caught in a reverse triangle choke. Imagine that but then the man applying the choke grabs your arm for an Americana too. That’s what happened when Chris Lytle fought Jason Gilliam back in 2007. ‘Lights Out’ found himself in top position with a triangle applied to his opponent and despite Gilliam turning bright red, he was surviving. So Lytle decided to take a limb too and grabbed Gilliam’s right arm and proceeded to apply an intense Americana, forcing his opponent to tap-out to two submissions at the same time.
#6 Luke Rockhold – Kimura & Inverted Triangle Choke Combo
We’ll never know if this was inspired by the previous entry but I’m going to suggest that it was. When Luke Rockhold fought Tim Boetsch back at UFC 172, he was the favourite having just knocked out Costas Philippou 3 months earlier. But nobody expected the level of dominance that came. In the first round, Rockhold had got the fight to the ground and got himself into a dominant position. With a triangle choke applied to Boetsch, Rockhold then decided to turn the pressure up further and locked in a kimura. Boetsch tried to defend it but was left helpless and forced to tap out.
#5 Charles Oliveira – Reverse Calf Slicer
Charles Oliveira is one of the most creative fighters in the UFC, with over 25 fights in the organisation to date. With a record of 29-8-1, nobody will be surprised to see him make this list with one of his 19 submission wins. It’s his submission of relative nobody Eric Wisely that stands out the most of all though. In the first round, Oliveira had the back of Wisely before locking a leg and dragging his opponent over his head. He controlled the upper body with pure strength while forcing the leg of Wisely back under himself and squeezing with his own two legs. A phenomenal submission and one we haven’t seen since in MMA.
# 4 Pat Curran – Peruvian Neck Tie
The Peruvian necktie submission is one of the tightest chokes in the game. A d’arce choke wasn’t enough for Bellator’s Pat Curran in 2011 as he squared off with Luis Palomino. When ‘Baboon’ managed to partially escape, Curran decided to explode and leap over his opponents heads placing both legs on his back and sinking in the Peruvian necktie submission against his Peruvian opponent.
#3 Nick Pace – The Pace Choke
During his fight with Will Campuzano in 2010, Nick Pace wrote himself into MMA folklore with his very own submission. While on his back, it looked like he was looking for a triangle choke submission. However he never quite locked it in, but his opponent tapped. Joe Rogan was astonished and once the replay was shown, it came to light that Pace had thrown his right arm under the neck of Campuzano and his leg over the neck. He then pulled down on his foot for extra leverage before finally securing a gable grip and forcing the tap. During his post-fight Octagon interview, he revealed he made it up on the spot and when pressed for a name for his new move Nick named it after himself and thus, the Pace Choke was born.
#2 Zabit Magomedsharipov – Suloev Stretch
A man more known for his spinning strikes and creativity on the feet, Zabit Magomedsharipov stunned everyone when he pulled out this submission win back in 2018. Fighting Brandon Davis, Zabit used a swift leg sweep to take the fight to the ground before locking in both hooks and taking the back. After attempting a rear-naked choke, Zabit switched his attack and rolled through while keeping the leg locked in place. He forced Davis to essentially do the splits while laying with Zabit underneath him and forcing his leg toward his head. A phenomenal display of adaptability from Zabit and an all-time great submission.
#1 Demetrious Johnson – Flying Armbar
For me, the greatest submission victory in UFC history belongs to Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson during his World title fight against Ray Borg in 2017. After completely dominating his opponent during his record-setting eleventh title defence, Mighty Mouse shocked the world when he pulled this submission out of nowhere. While having the back of Borg, DJ threw a knee to the thigh before suplexing the ‘Tazmexican Devil’ over his head. But as Borg went for a ride, Johnson adjusted in mid-air and stepped to the side while grabbing an arm and locking in a deep armbar all in one swift motion. Borg held out for a few seconds but as the grip was adjusted and torqued, he had no option but to tap and Johnson retained his belt while winning Performance of the Night for the stylistic win.