A super highly anticipated grudge match main event at UFC 272 is finally upon us as Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will clash in the welterweight division.
‘Chaos’ and ‘Gamebred’ will finally settle their very personal differences in the octagon after their friendship went sour several years ago, but while fans are hoping for a scrap it could actually be a bit of a mistmatch.
We’ll also see a five-round co-main event that was put together on short-notice as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Renato Moicano at a 160-pound catchweight.
The last time we made picks was at UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill a couple of weeks ago and we did pretty well, going 9/12 with three perfect picks to move to 548/852 (64.32%) with 234 perfect picks (42.7%).
Check out our full record for our predictions to date here.
Serghei Spivac (13-3) vs Greg Hardy (7-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A big heavyweight fight that got delayed a few months from UFC 270 and placed at the start of this main card. Spivac saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Tom Aspinall most recently at UFC Vegas 36, while Hardy has suffered consecutive KO defeats to Marcin Tybura at UFC Vegas 17 and then Tai Tuivasa at UFC 264 most recently.
Spivac is a fighter who looks to chain together his takedowns and uses his wrestling to get the fight to the ground and use vicious ground and pound. Hardy is a powerhouse who just brawls, but has been trying to use his kicks more as fights have gone on and his career has developed. Unfortunately for him though, his ground game is non-existent and if he ends up on his back then this fight is as good as over.
His takedown defence has been pretty good so far considering his short amount of time in the sport, but Spivac is one of the better wrestlers in the division. So long as he doesn’t get blitzed with a big shot early on, the fight begins to lean into his favour the longer it goes and eventually he will secure a takedown and then it’s a matter of when not if he gets the finish. PICK – Serghei Spivac via Submission, Round 2
Kevin Holland (21-7) vs Alex Oliveira (22-11-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A really intriguing fight for the 2020 Fighter of the Year winner as he finally makes the move into a new weight class. Holland got defeated by Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22 and Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 23 in short succession, before a no-contest against Kyle Daukaus following a clash of heads means he’s three fights without a win. ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira has lost his last three in a row, with submissions against Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 254, Randy Brown at UFC 261 and then a decision against Niko Price at UFC Vegas 38.
Holland is an excellent kickboxer with some solid grappling skills too, but his wrestling defence has let him down in fights against dominant wrestlers. Oliveira is not that, although his jiu-jitsu skills are great and he has decent power in his hands. Holland will look to stay away from the body lock of Oliveira, using his range to land kicks and long, straight strikes and he absolutely has the power to put people out in this division.
Oliveira is good and is definitely a threat in some situations, but this seems like Holland’s fight to lose. He is the bigger fighter, the more powerful striker and has a huge speed advantage. I expect Oliveira to make a go of it early on, but Holland will land big later in the first round and claim an impressive finish to get his career back on track. PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 1
Edson Barboza (22-10) vs Bryce Mitchell (14-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This is a really exciting featherweight fight between two guys with title aspirations in their sights. Barboza saw a two-fight win streak ended when Giga Chikadze blitzed him in the main event at UFC Vegas 35, while Mitchell is undefeated in his professional career officially although he did get beaten on TUF by Brad Katona. His most recent win came via unanimous decision over Andre Fili at UFC Vegas 12.
This is as big a striker vs grappler fight as you will see in the UFC at the top level for a while. Barboza is a skillful striker who uses hard leg kicks, spinning techniques and brilliant boxing skills too, while Mitchell is all about securing a takedown and then wrapping you up in submissions. His striking isn’t horrendous, but it’s certainly his glaring weakness.
If this fight stays standing, then I expect Barboza to do a lot of damage. Mitchell’s head movement isn’t very good and he relies heavily on getting those takedowns, something that Barboza blows hot and cold on defending. If it stays standing, Barboza wins. If Mitchell gets it down, he’ll keep getting takedowns and control rounds as well as anyone. It’s tough to call, but I have to go with the pressure of Mitchell to eventually secure those takedowns and claim the win. PICK – Bryce Mitchell via Decision
Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) vs Renato Moicano (16-4-1) – (Catchweight/160lbs)
A very short-notice five-round fight between two excellent Brazilians in the co-main event. Dos Anjos was supposed to fight Rafael Fiziev before VISA issues and then COVID put an end to that. RDA hasn’t fought in over a year, with a win over Paul Felder at UFC Vegas 14 his last bout. Moicano is ona two-fight win streak after submission wins over Jai Herbert at UFC Vegas 30 and then Alexander Hernandez just a few weeks ago at UFC 271.
Dos Anjos is a former world champion, with an incredibly well-rounded skillset that can see him strike, wrestle and grapple with the very best at 155-pounds. Moicano is a slick striker with phenomenal jiu-jitsu skills, who spent a lot of his career at featherweight. Dos Anjos is usually at his best when he secures a takedown, takes control on the ground and then starts working for submissions. If he is on the ground with Moicano though, there is danger there.
In his advantage though, this is a full camp RDA who used to fight at welterweight taking on Moicano who is coming in on five-days’ notice in a 25-minute bout. On the feet RDA should have the advantage with his size despite the height and reach disadvantage, because he’ll use hard leg kicks and his weight to lean on Moicano. Eventually he’ll get him down, wear on him and secure a late finish against a game Moicano. PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Submission, Round 4
Colby Covington (16-3) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-15) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The biggest fight of the night and the one everyone will be waiting for. Covington 1-2 in his last three fights, with a win over Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 sandwiched between defeats to Kamaru Usman in title fights, the most recent coming at UFC 268 in November last year. Masvidal is on a two-fight losing streak, with both defeats coming to Usman in title fights too at UFC 251 and UFC 261. Prior to that he had won three in a row, all via knockout.
Covington is the best wrestler in the division after Usman, with incredible cardio and much improved striking in his game since leaving American Top Team. Masvidal is a brawler with excellent boxing, a great switch kick and good defensive wrestling skills. The fact these two are former best friends and teammates with a personal rivalry means we’re expecting a scrap, but Covington is unlikely to engage in a straight up war with ‘Gamebred’.
Expect the younger fighter with the better wrestling to use his pressure to force Masvidal backwards, strike from range to set up his takedowns and constantly drag him down against the fence to wear on him. Masvidal will try to get back up, but Covington will bring him down again and land dominant shots on the ground to earn a wide decision victory in a fight that won’t have the fireworks many people are hoping for. PICK – Colby Covington via Decision
Interesting start to the bout as Perez comes out with a weird, bouncing stance and Eduardo lights him up with three heavy low kicks early on. Perez stops the bouncing and lands a few jabs but Eduardo responding with leg kicks again but not much volume from either guy so far. Eduardo lands a nice combination to the body and then head, but Perez responds with a heavy left hook that immediately gets the attention of Eduardo. Almost a pedestrian pace to the fight currently, with Eduardo landing another very heavy leg kick. Perez fires a right straight that grazes the chin, but Eduardo controlling the range and pace and despite the lack of action he’s ahead in the round for me. Eduardo lands a nice right hook to the chin as we enter the final 30 seconds of the round and that’s that. 10-9 Eduardo.
Eduardo opens up the round with two more very heavy leg kicks inside the first ten seconds. Perez goes for a blitz but misses and then eats a spinning heel kick to the body. Perez goes to charge with a blitz again but Eduardo does well to avoid for the most part, clinch and secure a takedown and top position. Perez ties Eduardo up well initially before bouncing back to his feet quickly. Perez lands two big right hands and steps up the aggression to land a few more strikes himself. Eduardo throws a big left hand that lands too, before Perez shoots in for a takedown and ends up on top himself. Two big strikes from the top by Perez and as Eduardo looks to get up Perez grabs for his neck but Eduardo rolls to his back. Perez scrambles for the back and ends up in side control. He has a side headlock and takes Eduardo’s arm, slides it between his legs and secures an armbar! Eduardo can’t deal with the pressure and taps!! Big win for Perez!
Stephanie Egger def Shanna Young via Knockout, Round 2 (2:22)
Egger comes out and takes the centre early on, throwing some nice straight right hands to keep the range and pose a threat. Young goes with a blitz and puts a blind kick behind it which Egger catches, and she tries for a trip but Young defends it well. Egger lands a nice one-two but it seems to wake Young up a bit and she starts applying more forward pressure. Few strikes land and then Young goes to clinch but Egger throws her down immediately and is almost in full mount. Young defends it with a leg lock attempt and after defending it well Egger is able to stack her and start landing some big ground and pound strikes from standing and side control. Egger landing big elbows from the top but Young survives the round. 10-9 Egger.
Another good start to the round for Egger as she takes the centre and throws some big right hands again. Young starts to come forward and lands a few good strikes in a blitz but Egger grabs hold of her and immediately hip tosses Young to the ground. Big elbows and ground and pound from Egger and Young is hurt. Egger stands and the referee stops the fight!? Bit of a weird stoppage there. Great performance from Egger though.
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Gaetano Pirrello via Knockout, Round 1 (2:04)
Pirrello hanging on the outside and throws a couple of hard leg kicks early on with Andrade taking the centre and just feinting a lot. Andrade steps forward and lands a big right hand and follows it up with a couple more shots before they clinch up and separate. Andrade lands a left hand and then a jab to the body, while Pirrello looks for his range. Pirrello goes for a head kick but Andrade counters with a check left hook and puts Pirrello OUT!!! A few hammer fists before the referee gets there but what a KO that is!
Jamie Mullarkey def Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2 (2:51)
Nice even start to the fight for both guys as they trade feints and short jabs, with Mullarkey mixing in a low kick. Smith lands a clean one-two down the pipe and follows up with a couple of attempts but Mullarkey smiles at him. Mullarkey throws another hard leg kick but Smith fires back with two nice left hooks and then a huge right hand again that rocks him! He goes for a combination and jus misses with a big knee up the middle too. Nice jab from Smith and a big one-two behind it again before a big knee lands from Smith and rocks Mullarkey! Smith lands a head kick partially but Mullarkey is still in front of him and throwing those low kicks, then just misses with a big one-two. Smith’s speed a clear advantage as he lands a few more strikes but Mullarkey smothers him and gets a takedown late on in the round, lands some ground and pound before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Smith.
Strong start to the round again from Mullarkey as he steps forward early and takes the centre. Heavy low kick from Mullarkey again and it gets a big reaction from Smith who looks hurt from it. Mullarkey throws another as Smith gets on his bike and starts moving away. Mullarkey pushing the pace like a mad man and clinches up with some big knees to the body. Mullarkey keeps throwing knees and then rips two big hooks to the body that makes Smith cover up. An uppercut and hook to the head then back to the body and Smith drops! Mullarkey hits some strikes on the ground and the referee stops it! Huge win for Mullarkey! Impressive performance!
Karol Rosa def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Rosa makes a dominant start to this bout as she takes the centre, slips a jab and lands a right hand. Rosa gets a Thai clinch early and lands some big knees to the body and Correia responds with a hook that misses. Rosa staying patient in the centre before coming for more knees again. Nice one-two lands clean from Rosa before a nice body kick and another one-two. Rosa being so patient and sliding out of the way of all Correia’s attacks, then jumps in with a flying knee straight to the face that Correia just eats. Rosa pops out her jab twice and starts cutting the cage off, but Correia lands a nice right hand. Rosa shoots for a takedown against the cage but Correia defends it well and sees out the round. 10-9 Rosa.
Correia takes the centre early this time around but Rosa throwing her jab well once again and landing with ease. Nice left jab a few more times and then Correia tries to charge her and eats a massive knee to the nose! Rosa lands a nice one-two again and Correia goes back to the outside and circles, but Rosa staying patient and firing in right hands behind her jab. Rosa staying out of range until she’s ready to engage. Big knee to the body from Rosa again and she’s upping the pace now, landing some combinations to the head too and forcing Correia backwards. Correia clinches up against the cage but eats a big knee to the body and an elbow to the face twice for good measure. Rosa just misses with another big elbow as the separate, but she lands a nice right hook when they engage again. Rosa lands another flying knee and big elbow but Correia manages to survive the round. 20-18 Rosa.
Rosa coming out nice and aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, with knees to the body again and solid right hooks behind it. Correia is still there though and trading with her as she lands a nice right hand of her own. Rosa fires back with a jab followed with a low kick and yet another running knee into the body with a right hook behind it. Rosa staying patient again with her jab, low kicks and right hand at the end of combinations. Both women trade low kicks and Correia lands a right hand, but Rosa goes back to the step-in knee before they clinch against the cage with a minute to go. They separate again and Rosa lands another one of her knees to the body before they clinch up again. Correia goes for a takedown but Rosa reverses it and ends the round with ground and pound strikes. 30-27, dominant win.
Casey O’Neill def Antonina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 2 (4:47)
Very fast and aggressive start to the fight from O’Neill who puts the pressure on immediately. O’Neill lands a nice right hand but Shevchenko replies well with a one-two after a warning about out-stretched fingers from the referee. O’Neill changes levels and looks for the takedown but Shevchenko ends up on top and gets her in a crucifix position landing big ground and pound strikes. O’Neill escapes but Shevchenko is landing nice strikes on the feet whenever she counters. O’Neill changes levels again and finally takes Shevchenko down and is in a dominant position in half guard. O’Neill landing some nice ground strikes but Shevchenko gets it back to full-guard before eventually getting back to her feet with 30 seconds left in the round. O’Neill catches a kick and gets Shevchenko back on the ground to end the round on top. Tough to call, but I’d probably lean 10-9 to O’Neill.
Even start to this round as O’Neill gets the pressure going again and Shevchenko looks to counter strike from range. Clinch against the cage and Shevchenko lands some nice knees again before they separate, then O’Neill lands a left hand and then changes levels and secures a takedown. Shevchenko rolls onto her knees but O’Neill lands some nice strikes and then rolls onto her back and drags her back down with the hooks in. O’Neill looks to pass into full mount and does, then lands a big elbow as she starts to control. Big elbows from top position from O’Neill and Shevchenko gives up her back again. O’Neill goes for a choke but can’t quite get it then continues to land some big elbows! Shevchenko is hurt but O’Neill raining down bombs with her elbows and punches and the referee steps in to end it! What a performance from O’Neill!
Jared Gordon def Joe Solecki via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Very quick start for Solecki as he gets an immediate takedown and moves straight to mount on the ground. Gordon defends well and escapes the position but Solecki landing some good strikes on the ground and controlling the position well. Gordon wall-walks into space but Solecki follows him around and takes the back while landing heavy strikes to the head. Solecki starting to look for the neck but Gordon not panicking. Solecki starting to switch grips for the choke while controlling him completely but Gordon gets back to his feet with 40 seconds to go and is able to get on top himself. Nice elbow from top position by Gordon but that’s the round. Easy 10-9 for Solecki.
Gordon lands two nice strikes early but Solecki changes levels immediately and goes for a takedown once again. Gordon defending it against the cage but Solecki pushing for the takedown again. Gordon lands a nice knee and elbow while defending but Solecki not going anywhere. Gordon throws some elbows before Solecki finally gets the trip and ends up on top. Gordon gets the reversal though and ends up on top himself halfway through and lands some short elbows. Solecki tries to sweetp to get back on top but Gordon defends it well and is landing a few shots on the ground and wearing on him. Gordon prioritising position over damage in that round but he takes it. 19-19.
Composed start to the final round from both guys as they stay standing to begin with. Gordon more comfortable and landing his jab well, but Solecki exploding well and lands a body kick. Nice one-two by Solecki followed by a jab but Gordon starting to force him backwards. Solecki changes levels and comes over the top with a right hand that just misses, before Gordon shoots in for a takedown but Solecki defends it. Both men land a jab before Gordon gets a takedown against the cage, but he allows Solecki up immediately. Clinch in the centre sees Gordon use his strength and lands a couple of knees. Big right hand lands from Solecki and the round ends. I think that’s a 29-28 Gordon but third round is tough to score.
Alexander Hernandez def Mike Breeden via Knockout, Round 1 (1:20)
Very quick start to the fight from Breeden as he steps forward with some hooks and a heavy low kick early on. Hernandez right there with him and returns fire then shoots for a takedown, but Breeden denies him. Hernandez backs up then shoots in again but again he’s denied. Hernandez puts the pressure on him and lands a big one two that hurts Breeden. Hernandez lets the combinations fly and Breeden is covering up. Hernandez blasts his mouthpiece out with a big right hand and keeps going. Breeden fires a left hand but misses and Hernandez smashes a right hand just behind the ear and puts Breeden out cold!!! What a knockout!
Krzysztof Jotko def Misha Cirkunov via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Cirkunov takes the centre early on and steps forward to force Jotko against the cage, before shooting in for a takedown early. Jotko defends it well and gets back to the feet, before another attempt from Cirkunov sees a trip get him down but bounce straight back up. Jotko defending the clinch against the cage before separating and taking the centre. Both guys trade leg kicks and then Cirkunov steps in with a jab, before Jotko lights him up with a nice combination. Cirkunov still keeping the centre but Jotko is moving well and landing his counters well. Cirkunov fakes with a takedown attempt and Jotko clinches with him immediately which allows Cirkunov to get hold of him against the cage until the end of the round. Tough to score, but I lean 10-9 Cirkunov.
Even start once again in this second round as they continue with Cirkunov in the centre and Jotko bouncing around on the outside. Cirkunov goes for a clinch and throws a knee to the body but it’s a bit low and there’s a pause in the action. Nice combination lands from Jotko that ends with a left uppercut, then Cirkunov responds with a low kick. Cirkunov keeps going for clinches and takedowns but Jotko is very easily defending and separating. Hard low kick from Cirkunov to counter a right hand from Jotko. Another clinch and denial before Jotko throws a big knee and that’s the end of the round. Tough to score again, but I’d go 19-19.
Better start to the round for Cirkunov as he finally gets a takedown after changing levels and securing a single leg. Immediate bearhug position on the back and he’s dragging Jotko around and landing big knees to the thighs and back. Jotko explodes up and gets to the feet and tries to land a big elbow, but Cirkunov ducks under it and scores another big takedown. Jotko gets back up quickly though and goes for a takedown of his own before looking to explode with strikes against the cage. Jotko explodes with a knee but accidentally gets a finger in Cirkunov’s eye and the referee pauses the fight. Jotko fired up and as they restart he fires in some hard one-twos that narrowly miss. Nice jab from Jotko with 40 seconds to go and he goes for a takedown but Cirkunov denies it easily. Both guys clinch and Jotko gets a takedown with ten seconds to go to end the fight. Tough call, could go either way, but I’d give it 29-28 Cirkunov.
Niko Price def Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Action packed start to this one as both guys look to take the centre and start trading heavy blows straight away. Nice exchange of strikes and Oliveira goes for a knee which Price catches and charges him up against the cage. Oliveira manages to reverse it and push Price down to the mat but Price holds on to the neck and rolls through to end up on top. Price looking to create space for ground and pound but Oliveira defending well. Price trying to move to side control but Oliveira defending well. Hard body shots from Price and then some elbows from the top to see out the round. 10-9 Price.
Good start to the round again from both guys with lots of feinting and some leg kicks just to touch each other. Oliveira lands a nice left hand before both men narrowly miss with big hooks. Price misses a head kick but lands a right hand hammer fist instead. Oliveira lands a right hand after catching a kick and Price falls backwards, so Oliveira looks to jump on top. Lots of scrambling for position but Oliveira manages to retain top position throughout. Some nice ground and pound and transitions from Oliveira but Price defending relatively well from the bottom and the round ends. 19-19 even.
Final round and both guys are going for it early. Hard low kicks from Oliveira and then a big right hand lands but Price not moving away at all and continues to threaten. Big body shot from Oliveira then a right hand. Price goes for the right hook but Oliveira responds with one of his own. Price lands two big shots and a right hook wobbles Oliveira, but he side steps and avoids. Both guys throwing big strikes and just missing, before Price throws a big right hand that stumbles Oliveira. Price going for a takedown against the cage but Oliveira defends it and they separate. Side kick from Oliveira to the body but Price continues to walk forward and Oliveira is exhausted. Price goes for a big superman punch but Oliveira ducks it and clinches him, looking to drag Price down to the mat. Price manages to throw Oliveira down and ends up on top and he’s hammering ground and pound to end the round. That should win it for Price. 29-28.
Kevin Holland vs Kyle Daukaus – No Contest (Accidental headbutt led to fight ending sequence)
Good start to the round for Daukaus as he comes forward with two hooks and goes straight for a takedown. Holland defends it well against the cage and shows excellent balance to stay on his feet before he looks to break away in a clinch. Daukaus then puts him back in a full nelson and the referee breaks up the position. Daukaus lands a nice one-two, and then as Holland throws a right hand they clash heads and Holland goes out cold! Daukaus goes on to continue to look for a finish and eventually gets a rear-naked choke locked in and Holland is forced to tap out despite fighting hard to stay in the fight.
After the fight, a significant review takes place over the footage and the referee deems the fight a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads leading to the fight-ending sequence.
Thiago Santos def Johnny Walker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
First strike of the fight comes 30 seconds in as Walker throws a low kick, and the second comes 30 seconds later when Walker blocks a high kick from Santos. Walker takes the centre and is backing Santos up against the cage, but neither man throwing anything as we approach the halfway point of the round. Walker continues with a couple of low kicks and Santos goes to throw a high kick, but lots of feinting from both guys and not much action at all. Teep kick from Walker lands. More jockeying from both guys as the round ends. That’s an impossible round to score because nothing happened. 10-10.
Second round starts quicker as Santos takes the centre and shoots for a takedown with a single leg. Walker defends it well but both guys swing big hooks on their way out of the clinch and Santos lands the left hand grazing him. Santos throws a head kick but Walker blocks it and replies with a low kick. The round has gone timid again and Walker misses with a big overhand right, then lands another low kick. Nice left body kick from Santos lands and then he lands two more too with a left hand behind it. Walker eats them though and comes forward. More touching and feinting as the round ends. Round 2 goes to Santos for me, 20-19.
Lots of feints again in the third round as Walker looks to go back to the teep kicks and leg kicks from the first round. Santos grazes him with a head kick and then misses with a wild left hand. Walker throws more kicks but Santos side steps it and lands a left cross on the chin. Walker still there and doing lots of feinting again but Santos looks comfortable. Big exchange from both guys but they both miss and the fight is starting to open up a little bit now. Santos parries a body kick and lands a strong left hand again but Walker is still standing and moving. Walker throws a leg kick again and Santos replies with a left hook. Big spinning wheel kick misses from Santos but then he throws a head kick that is partially blocked. 30-28 Santos.
Santos comes out aggressive in the fourth and lands a nice body shot. Walker coming forward but not really throwing anything of note. Head kick attempt from Santos misses again, then Walker throws one and just misses. Santos throws a jump knee that misses and then Santos goes for his left hand again. Hard leg kick from Santos but Walker doesn’t look too affected by them. Walker’s kick gets caught but he lands two big right hands of his own before eating one from Santos. Big one-two lands from Santos again but Walker eats it well and threatens with a reverse elbow. Another hard left hand from Santos just misses, before he lands a body kick to end the round. Close round that one, 40-37 Santos for me.
This has not been the type of fight we all expected, but we go into the fifth round anyway. Slow start again with lots of feints and a slow pace. Santos comes forward and lands a left hand to the side of the head but Walker is still looking to chop the legs. Santos lands a HUGE left hand clean but Walker eats it and calls him on for more. Body kick from Santos lands twice before Walker slides forward to close distance. Santos staying out of danger for the most part and both men faking a lot again. Left hand lands from Santos and Walker lands a right hand at the same time. Big head kick from Santos lands but again Walker just eats it. Capoeira kick from Walker misses and that’s the round. 50-36 Santos for me, maybe 49-47 but very weird fight to score.
A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.
Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.
Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.
Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here and after starting with the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.
Alexander Hernandez (12-4) vs Mike Breeden (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A short-notice bout at lightweight to open the main card as ‘The Great’ Hernandez takes on Mike Breeden. Hernandez has alternated wins and losses in his last five, with a defeat against Thiago Moises last time out at UFC Vegas 20. Breeden has won his last two outside the UFC, beating Ken Beverley and Nick Compton most recently back in May.
Hernandez is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands, solid kicks and a good, durable chin. Breeden is a good boxer who has great combinations but also with a solid calf kick and someone who is always game to fight. Hernandez is really well-rounded, with his best performances coming when he mixes up clinches and takedowns with his powerful striking.
Breeden is a good fighter in his own merit, but this is a huge step up in competition for him and even moreso on just a week’s notice. He’ll come forward and be game, no doubt, but Hernandez will push the pace and eventually his body work will pay dividends to get him a stoppage win. PICK – Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 3
Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Macy Chiasson (8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An intriguing fight at the top of the women’s bantamweight division as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson. Ladd is a great striker, who’s only defeat came in just 16 seconds against Germaine De Randamie. She bounced back from that with an impressive KO win over Yana Kunitskaya back in 2019 but hasn’t fought since. Chiasson won TUF 28 and has since gone 4-1 in the UFC proper, with her most recent win coming against Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 22.
Ladd is a brilliant wrestler who has some violent ground and pound and vicious striking on the feet to go with it, while Chiasson is a super well-rounded fighter herself too with an even split of finishes via knockout and submission. Ladd is returning from a torn ACL/MCL injury but while Chiasson has got some good names on her resumé she’s not fought anyone of the calibre of Ladd before.
Ladd is powerful, quick, a great striker and has the advantage with the wrestling too which means she can dictate where this fight goes. Because of that, she’ll only need one takedown per round to control and land some vicious shots and therefore I think she’ll get the win. PICK – Aspen Ladd via Decision
Misha Cirkunov (15-6) vs Krzysztof Jotko (22-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A fun middleweight clash between two Europeans in this one. Cirkunov has lost four of his last six bouts, getting KO’d by Ryan Spann in just 71 seconds last time out at UFC Vegas 21. Jotko on the other hand had won three-in-a-row before coming up against Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 25 and getting dominated on the feet.
Cirkunov is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who is the most grapple heavy fighter on this card. He is a brilliant submission artist, with eight of his 15 wins coming via tap out. Jotko on the other hand is a great kickboxer with a terrific amount of power in his strikes, although his ground game is next to non-existent.
It’s a true grappler vs striker bout and I’d be surprised to see it come out of the first round in all honesty. If Cirkunov gets a takedown, he gets a submission win. If Jotko keeps it standing, he blasts the chin and gets a KO. As it goes, I think Cirkunov does get the takedown and locks up a head-and-arm choke for the win. PICK – Misha Cirkunov via Submission, Round 1
Alex Oliveira (22-10-1) vs Niko Price (14-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Potentially the fight of the night in the welterweight division here. ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira is a veteran of the sport who doesn’t know how to have a boring fight, having lost five of his last seven including his last two against Shavkat Rakhmonov and Randy Brown at UFC 261 most recently. Niko Price is in the same boat in terms of entertainment value, and has also lost two of his last three (the third a draw overturned to a NC) against Vicente Luque and Michel Pereira at UFC 264.
Oliveira is a good boxer with solid wrestling and nasty body kicks, but he’s seen his durability wane in recent years and that will harm him. Price is a powerful puncher who pushes a relentless pace and just straight up loves a war in the cage, willing to give it his all no matter where it goes.
On the feet Price has him outpowered and on the ground Oliveira has the edge, but realistically they’re going to brawl at some point and Price is far more durable which means he’s likely to slam him with a big right hand that puts him into orbit and close the night early. PICK – Niko Price via Knockout, Round 2
Kevin Holland (21-7) vs Kyle Daukaus (10-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very intriguing fight in the middleweight co-main event here. Holland was the 2020 Fighter of the Year racking up five wins in a row, but 2021 hasn’t been kind to him as he’s been dominated by both Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori most recently at UFC Vegas 23. Daukaus hasn’t had a great UFC run so far, especially in comparison to his brother Chris, with a decision win against Dustin Stoltzfus sandwiched between defeats to Brendan Allen and Phil Hawes most recently at UFC Vegas 26.
Holland is a very powerful striker with great kickboxing and Muay Thai, but he’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the mat. Daukaus is a grappling heavy fighter who is very heavy handed himself, but he looks to rain those punches down from top control. Daukaus is a good grappler but being unranked, this is a huge step up in competition for him. If he gets a takedown and gets on top then he’ll have success, but on the feet Holland has a huge edge.
Ultimately it’s a stylistically fun match up, but the level between the two fighters should see Holland able to keep the fight standing and slam punches down the pipe to earn himself a way back into the win column. PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 3
Thiago Santos (21-9) vs Johnny Walker (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An absolutely wild fight in the 205lbs division makes the main event here. Santos is on a three-fight losing skid after earning his way to a title shot, losing to Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic most recently at UFC 259. Walker on the other hand halted a two-fight losing streak by bouncing back with a brilliant knockout win over Ryan Spann at UFC Vegas 11.
Santos is one of the most terrifying strikers in MMA, with ridiculous power in his hands and really powerful calf kicks and body kicks too. Walker is one of the most erratic fighters on the roster, with scary one-punch knockout power too and some really good clinch techniques too. Santos ripped his knees to shreds against Jones which has seen him stop kicking since his return, with limited movement.
That doesn’t bode well for Santos realistically because of how explosive Walker can be, but I think Santos is slightly more durable and has the faster hands which means he could land first and end the fight early. It could very realistically go the other way, but I lean towards Santos. PICK – Thiago Santos via Knockout, Round 1
Ariane Carnelossi def Liang Na via Knockout, Round 2 (1:28)
Super fast start to this fight as the two women meet in the middle and Na lands a big right hand that drops Carnelossi to one knee immediately! Na pushes for a finish with a clinch and knee, then Na drops for a takedown. They scramble and Na ends up on top landing some nice ground and pound, but Carnelossi is defending quite well considering. Carnelossi gets back to her feet and lands some nice right hands, but Na gets another takedown and ends up on top again. Carnelossi threatens with an armbar from her back but Na defends it and ends up on bottom, but then she throws up an armbar of her own! Carnelossi defends it and ends on top landing big ground and pound strikes. Carnelossi takes the back of Na but is able to avoid. Carnelossi transitions to a mounted triangle during a scramble and lands some big shots on the ground as the round closes out! What a round! 10-9 Carnelossi.
Fast start to the second round again as Na lands a nice head kick and goes for a flurry of punches before a judo throw takes the fight to the ground again. Carnelossi is able to take the back of Na after escaping a headlock and starts raining down ground and pound once again. The referee tells Na to defend herself, she doesn’t and he stops the fight! Hugely impressive win for Carnelossi.
Jeffrey Molina def Aoriqileng via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)
A strong start to the round from Aoriqileng steps forward and starts walking Molina down early, backing him against the cage and cutting off the angles. Molina moving well and trying to counter Aoriqileng but the Chinese fighter staying long and landing well. Nice flurry in the clinch as Aoriqileng looks to take the fight down but Molina is scrambling well and fighting it off. A bit of a stalemate between both men as they trade clinch knees. Both men just miss with the right hand as they separate but the round ends without too much more action. 10-9 Aoriqileng.
Molina trying to keep off the cage at the start of this round but Aoriqileng’s pressure paying off right now as he uses his length well. Molina landing his left jab well as he circles but Aoriqileng is throwing his counter right hand well and it’s landing hard and flush too. Both men throwing bombs in the middle of the octagon now and Molina lands a nice one-two that sits Aoriqileng down! Aoriqileng returns fire and as Molina throws a high kick it gets caught and then he gets dropped with a right hand too! Molina starts to circle and move backwards again and as Aoriqileng throws a lazy kick right at the end of the round, Molina lands a perfect right hand that drops him! Molina goes for the finish but the buzzer goes. 19-19!
Aoriqileng is coming forward in this final round and “fighting angry” according to the commentary team but he’s landing some nice right hands with the extra pressure. Molina moving well though and landing his jab well and great counter shots. Aoriqileng shoots for a takedown but Molina stuffs it really well and keeps the fight standing. Molina starting to throw some great combinations and is throwing in body shots too. Big left hand from Molina forces Aoriqileng to cover up and Molina is starting to pick him apart now. Big elbow as Aoriqileng is starting to slow down and eat these big shots. Big body shot followed up with a clean one-two and Molina is picking him apart as we enter the final minute. Aoriqileng throwing back but just eating so many shots and taking so much damage. Molina bites down and looks for a finish with 10 seconds to go but gets rocked! Aoriqileng goes for a finish but the round ends. 29-28 Molina.
Kazula Vargas def Rongzhu via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)
A much more composed start to this fight from both fighters as Vargas looks to get some offence off early with feints and some low kicks. Vargas is landing really well, striking first and hard as Rongzhu seems to have a case of the nerves. A couple more low kicks lands and sends Rongzhu to the mat. Both guys land nice right hands simultaneously but as Vargas lands first Rongzhu is missing with the majority of his counters as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vargas.
Second round sees Rongzhu come out fast and take the centre and a quick takedown attempt but Vargas defends well. A second attempt sees Vargas synch in a guillotine and it’s tiiiight! Rongzhu fighting the legs(?) of the closed guard from Vargas as he squeezes the choke, but Rongzhu refusing to tap and staying calm. Vargas blowing his load squeezing and eventually Rongzhu escapes and starts landing some ground and pound and riding Vargas. He tries to take his back but Vargas is able to escape it and ends up on top again with top control. Rongzhu eventually gets back to his feet and shoots for another takedown as the round ends, close round. 20-18 Vargas for me though.
Vargas being very patient in this final round as he looks a bit more fatigued and almost expects to be winning the fight currently. Rongzhu flicking out his jab and looking to land a straight right hand, but Vargas keeps coming forward. Rongzhu lands a huge right hand on the chin but Vargas eats it and lands a jab, before Rongzhu lands a big right again on Vargas’ entry that drops him to one knee. Vargas landing his jab well now as Rongzhu starts to walk him down in the final 90 seconds. Vargas keeps circling away and Rongzhu almost chasing him now. Rongzhu shoots for a takedown and after a scramble ends up on top with 10 seconds to go, landing ground and pound. Close round again, 29-28 Vargas in the end for me.
Batgerel Danaa def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 1 (0:50)
Natividad starts quickly, rushing in with a couple of heavy right hands. Danaa throws a front kick that just misses and a right hand that lands on the temple. Natividad charges forward and Danaa steps forward, slips the punch, switches stances and lands a stunning left hook that puts Natividad down! Danaa lands some heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in to end the fight! What a knockout!
Patrick Sabatini def Tristan Connelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Lots of pressure from Connelly early on as he forces Sabatini backwards and looks to flick out his jab and land a right hand down the pipe. Sabatini moving well and quickly changes direction to land a right hand that drops Connelly! Sabatini moves into top position quickly and starts working to pass guard, landing some short shots and forcing Connelly to defend from the bottom. Sabatini moves into an arm triangle position and Connelly gives up his back immediately, which allows Sabatini to lock in a body triangle and look to work for a rear naked choke. Sabatini starts landing some punches to try and open up the neck for the choke but Connelly is defending the hands really well and manages to see out the round. 10-9 Sabatini.
Connelly comes out in the same way as the first, with lots of pressure to back Sabatini against the cage moving backwards. Sabatini nice and calm though and eventually changes levels and lands a power double leg takedown to end up in top position early on. Sabatini avoids the upkicks of Connelly and moves into side control before looking to step into mount, but ends up in half guard. Sabatini floats through and ends up taking the back and is looking for a submission but Connelly escapes and continues to get dominated. Sabatini takes the back and locks in a body triangle again, then moves for an arm triangle and then takes the back again. Connelly is defending the submissions well but Sabatini is in complete control and sees out the round in control again. 20-18 Sabatini.
Sabatini and Connelly both spend the entire first half of the final round competing in the clinch, exchanging knees and positions against the cage but next to no strikes thrown between them. Connelly throws a solid right hand that lands on the chin, and Sabatini immediately shoots for the takedown but Connelly stuffs it well. Connelly walking Sabatini down as we enter the final minute and lands a nice overhand right, but Sabatini clinches up again to slow the fight down. Connelly gets a nice trip and ends up on top with 30 seconds to go, but Sabatini defends well and grabs a leg to stifle any attacks and the round ends. 29-28 Sabatini but it was a much more lopsided fight than that will suggest.
Brendan Allen def Karl Roberson via Submission (Straight Ankle Lock), Round 1 (4:55)
Fast start to the fight as both men open up with a head kick attempt, throwing heavy shots behind them too. Roberson throwing his left hand well and lands his jab nicely too, before a big right hand cracks Allen. Allen steps forward with a left straight and the two clinch up, which allows Allen to get the takedown against the cage. He’s able to step over into mount while Roberson is upright against the cage, but he keeps his chin tucked and is able to fight off the guillotine attempt. Allen overpowers him and is able to move him across the octagon and starts controlling on top again. Roberson looks to attack a leg to escape, but that allows Allen to grab a leg too. Allen then torques on an ankle lock and leans back and Roberson taps! Beautiful submission win from Allen!
Dwight Grant def Stefan Sekulic via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
A conservative start from both fighters as Sekulic takes the centre and pumps out a jab along with some feints, while Grant is looking to get his range with feelers and feints of his own. Sekulic is trying not to rush in and get Grant on the end of his punches but Grant doing well to avoid for the most part. Head kick from Sekulic but Grant returns fire with a heavy low kick. Sekulic coming forward again and leaps in with a flying knee that just grazes Grant. Sekulic shoots in for a takedown in the final 30 seconds and gets it to probably snatch the round. 10-9 Sekulic.
A slow start once again to the second round as they continue to try and establish range and set traps for each other, but not much action in the opening minute or so. Sekulic shoots for a takedown but Grant stuffs it well, then throws a big right hand that wobbles Sekulic! He goes in to land a few more shots but Sekulic threatens with a knee up the middle and then a spinning wheel kick that both just miss and they both reset. Wild left hook from Grant just misses the chin of Sekulic as both guys trade low calf kicks before Sekulic shoots in deep for a takedown again and gets it. Sekulic starts trying to advance but Grant pops up to his feet with 45 seconds left in the round. Sekulic shoots in again and they clinch against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Sekulic.
Grant comes out with a bit more urgency in this round, and gets an early takedown of his own to end up on top. Sekulic looks for a shoulder lock off his back but Grant defends it, lands some big ground and pound strikes then gets up to bring the fight back up to the feet. Sekulic doing really well to stay at distance and gets a takedown of his own, but Grant gets back up quickly. Sekulic is landing nice straight shots with good movement and he lands a big shot that drops Grant! He moves in for a finish and sinks in a deeeeep guillotine attempt and just as Grant is going out the buzzer goes to end the round! 30-27 Sekulic, great performance from him.
Randy Brown def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:50)
A very intense start from both fighters as Brown comes out hard looking to do damage. Cowboy responds with lateral movement and some nice leg kicks that are causing problems early for Brown. Cowboy throws three, four more kicks and Brown drops down to one knee. Brown comes forward again and clips him with a left before he lands a BOMB of a right hand to drop Oliveira! Brown goes for the kill with ground and pound but Cowboy starts to grab him and eventually survives. Brown gets to mount and then takes the back of Cowboy who’s fighting the hands, but then Brown gets one arm under the chin. Oliveira fights the other hand to stop a grip but Brown presses his hand against the shoulder of Cowboy and eventually brings Cowboy down to force the tap with a one-handed rear-naked choke! Wow! What a performance!
Anthony Smith def Jimmy Crute via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)
Slow start to this one as it takes around a minute for both guys to start engaging, with Crute opting for low kicks and Smith landing nice jabs. Crute’s leg kicks are having an early effect on the movement of Smith so far, but the jab is landing clean and often and has stunned Crute! Smith lands a big, clean right hand and works Crute out. Smith returns a huge leg kick of his own that lands just behind the knee and Crute’s leg gives way completely. Crute shoots for a takedown and ends the round on top but he’s in trouble.
Between rounds the doctor examines Crute and waves the fight off as he can barely walk without it giving way. Crazy ending!
Uriah Hall def Chris Weidman via Knockout (Broken Leg), Round 1 (0:17)
Chris Weidman threw a leg kick and his leg has snapped in half! Oh my God! The literal first kick of the entire fight. Oh my goodness that is horrific. Get well soon Weidman.
Valentina Shevchenko def Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)
Very composed start from both ladies, as Shevchenko flicks a jab and then lands a nice one-two down the middle. Andrade misses with a couple of leg kicks and then Shevchenko closes the distance quickly and gets a takedown! Shevchenko dominating the position as Andrade gets back up and then dragged back down again. Shevchenko just misses with a head kick as they break, but then they clinch up again and Shevchenko trips her. She works for position and ends up on Andrade’s back and sinks an arm under the chin but the angle doesn’t allow the squeeze for a choke. She lets Andrade back up, holds her in place and then drags her down one more time to end the round in top position. 10-9, could argue a 10-8 maybe.
Both women come into the middle to start the round and after a short flurry between them both, Shevchenko overpowers Andrade and slams her to the mat once again. Andrade gets back up and pushes her against the cage but Shevchenko is overpowering Andrade and not allowing her to lift her for a takedown. Shevchenko then once again rag dolls Andrade and trips her down to the mat. Shevchenko quickly moves from side control and into a crucifix position and starts hammering away on Andrade’s face. Andrade trying to defend but Shevchenko turns the punches into elbows and the referee mercifully stops the fight. What a performance!
Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 1 (1:18)
Nice start from both women as Rose bounces around on the outside while Zhang throws some low kicks. Rose lands a jab and steps out to avoid a big right hand from Zhang. Namajunas fakes a low kick and goes to the chin and Zhang is OUT!! Rose lands three follow up shots and the referee steps in to wave it off! It’s over! AND NEWWWW!
Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Knockout, Round 2 (1:02)
Tense start to the title fight as Usman takes the centre of the cage and looks to land his excellent jab, while Masvidal is throwing some leg kicks. Usman lands a big overhand right flush on the chin but Masvidal shouts in his face after eating it. A few tighter exchanges and Masvidal goes for a flying knee, but Usman catches it and dumps him on his back. Masvidal fights get his full guard and starts throwing elbows from the bottom, but Usman stays strong on top and prevents him from getting back up to his feet too quickly but he eventually does. Usman lands a right hand and then a jab but Masvidal responds with a flurry of strikes and a big knee as the round ends. Close round, but 10-9 Usman for me.
Both men standing in the centre, not looking to give up an inch as Masvidal throws a few leg kicks to keep distance. Usman drops his level and throws a huge right straight that knocks Masvidal out cold!!!! Usman follows up with heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in! AND STILLLL!! What a knockout!
Patrick Sabatini (13-3) vs Tristan Connelly (14-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A UFC debut for the submission specialist Patrick Sabatini as he takes on former lightweight Tristan Connelly in the featherweight division. Sabatini has won five of his last six, evenly split 2-2-2 with KO’s, submissions and decisions. Connelly won his last bout at WELTERWEIGHT against Michel Pereira way back in 2019 in his UFC debut.
Sabatini is a brilliant chain wrestler and has a deep submission bag, with seven rear-naked choke wins from nine tap-out wins. Connelly is a wrestler too, who looks to get top position and land some nice ground and pound to grind out wins. A big issue for Connelly is that not only is he coming off a neck injury, but he’s 35 and cutting to 145lbs for the first time in six years.
Sabatini has him beat where he’s strongest and is as good where they’re both weaker so I expect the younger man to get him down, eventually take his back and earn another rear-naked choke submission win. PICK -Pat Sabatini via Submission, Round 1
Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Brendan Allen (15-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Roberson is a striker by nature with good kickboxing skills, while Allen is a ground specialist who has a nasty submission game to go with his heavy hands. Roberson is a rangy fighter who isn’t afraid to throw kicks and if he does that here, Allen will be grinning from ear-to-ear as he’ll catch it and chuck him to the mat. Roberson does have decent offensive wrestling, but his defence is poor and Allen is more than capable of holding his own on the feet until an opportunity arises to take him down himself.
Because of those reasons, it’s hard to see this fight going any other way than Allen securing a dominant submission win. PICK – Brendan Allen via Submission, Round 1
Dwight Grant (10-3) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Grant has incredible power in his hands and has scary knockout power, but he rarely throws strikes other than one at a time. That’s a big problem because it allows opponents to get their own attacks together and cause his issues. Not to mention the fact that Grant seemed to blow his load in last fight against Rodriguez, which is a concern. Sekulic is a good wrestler on his own accord and is very good at grinding away from top position on opponents.
Grant has cracking hands and has shown in the past that he’s able to get up off his back if he does get taken down, so as long as he doesn’t sit on his hands he should get the win here. PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Randy Brown (12-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Oliveira is a super well-rounded fighter who is entering the twilight of his career now. He has great boxing and good power, but is also excellent on the ground and has good evasive footwork. Brown is a potential contender at 170lbs, with great power in his strikes and really good wrestling too. He is powerful and has great cardio too, but has shown skills off his back with a submission of Warlley Alves and with where they both are currently it’s hard to see him not taking over the longer this fight goes.
Brown has the striking edge on the feet, the clear advantage in the cardio department and is competent enough in the grappling to hold his own, so I think he dominates to a decision win. PICK – Randy Brown via Decision
Last week we went 6/12 for predictions with just two perfect picks, taking us to 236/371 (63.61%) with 106 (44.92%) perfect picks since starting in June 2020. We’ll look to improve that this weekend with a fun 12 fight card, starting with the seven prelim fights here.
Dustin Jacoby (13-5) vs Maxim Grishin (31-8-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) **Maxim Grishin weighed in 3.5lbs over the weight limit of 206lbs**
Jacoby is a solid striker who had a few cardio issues during his Contender Series bout, but considering it was only his second MMA bout since 2015 you can probably make a case of exception. Grishin is a talented kickboxer with great conditioning and a huge experience advantage. It’s a pretty even contest and one that will likely go the distance, but considering the cardio issues in the past and the level of inactivity I think Grishin can sneak a decision win here. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Vince Cachero (7-3) vs Ronnie Lawrence (6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An intriguing fight between two guys looking for their first UFC wins as Cachero takes on Lawrence. Cachero was 1-2 in his last three LFA fights before taking a super-late notice fight with Jamall Emmers up in the featherweight division in August, being dominated to a wide decision defeat. Lawrence on the other hand got a dominant decision go his way on the Contender Series despite being a huge underdog.
Lawrence is a super talented wrestler, who has a gas tank for days and secured a dozen takedowns in his last fight. That doesn’t bode well with Cachero struggling in the past against people who are great wrestlers. That said, Cachero is a powerful striker and Lawrence sometimes throws lazy shots which could give him a chance to land some valuable strikes. Despite that, I think Lawrence is able to get the takedowns he wants and secures a decision win for a debut victory. PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision
William Knight (9-1) vs Alonzo Menifield (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Knight’s striking isn’t the cleanest and his offensive wrestling isn’t the most impressive, but he uses his brute strength in clinch situations to get the fight down to the ground and then unleash violent ground and pound. Menifield is a bit more well rounded but seems to lack some cage IQ and struggles to make in-fight adjustments. He seemed shocked by the strength of OSP and if that’s the case, then Knight could blow him out of the water.
That said it’s a 50/50 fight between these two and I think the ground game of Knight and the fact he’s been to a judges decision before and won is a positive. It’s a solid match up and I think Knight just edges a good, competitive bout. PICK – William Knight via Knockout, Round 2
Alexis Davis (19-10) vs Sabina Mazo (9-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fight between two women at completely different points of their UFC careers in the women’s bantamweight division. Davis is a UFC veteran who has lost her last three fights by decision to Katlyn Chookagian, Jennifer Maia and Viviane Araujo most recently back in 2019. Mazo on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, beating Shana Dobson, JJ Aldrich and Justine Kish last time out in September 2020.
Davis is a solid grappler, even fighting her way to a title shot back in the day against Ronda Rousey. She has eight submission wins on her record, plus two knockouts too. Mazo is a fantastic kickboxer with some great wrestling defence and she has a decent ground game herself, winning her last fight by rear naked choke. The ‘Colombian Queen’ is only 23, but she’s super busy and has good footwork and I think she should be able to deny the takedowns and land enough on the feet to get a win. PICK – Sabina Mazo via Decision
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Ramazan Kuramagomedov (8-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A highly anticipated short-notice debut for Kuramagomedov as he takes on the wily veteran ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira. Oliveira has lost four of his last six fights, including his most recent to Shavkat Rakhmonov via a first-round submission at UFC 254. Kuramagomedov got a win against Jordan Williams on the Contender Series back in 2019 but didn’t get signed, but has maintained his unbeaten record and now gets a big chance on five days’ notice.
Oliveira is a powerful striker but he has relatively low output in most bouts and likes to get top control to reserve his energy until the later rounds. Kuramagomedov is a versatile striker with a suffocating top game too, who focuses heavily on leg attacks to make the takedowns a bit easier. When someone fires back with lots of volume, like Williams did on the Contender Series, then his defence gets called into question. This fight is unlikely to go that way though, with the Russian able to outland on the feet with his volume and he’s the considerably better wrestler too.
Kuramagomedov should be able to get the win here, but you can never rule out Oliveira in a fight like this. PICK – Ramazan Kuramagomedov via Decision
Alexander Hernandez (12-3) vs Thiago Moises (14-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really exciting lightweight bout as the featured prelim in this one between two of the better prospects in the division. Hernandez started his UFC run with knockout wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier, before being stopped in his tracks by Donald Cerrone. His last fight was a knockout win over Chris Gruetzemacher in October. Moises is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with unbelievable grappling skills who has never been stopped in his career, winning his last two fights against Michael Johnson and Bobby Green in October.
Hernandez has all the tools to win here. He’s a powerful striker and loves to take the centre of the cage, with excellent wrestling defence and a fantastic gas tank. Moises struggles off his back foot and will look to get his hands on Hernandez to bring the fight down to the ground. If Hernandez stays aggressive like he has in all his UFC wins so far and fights on the front foot, he gets the win. Unfortunately, I don’t think he does so Moises should do enough for the victory. PICK – Thiago Moises via Decision
After a month-long stay on UFC Fight Island, the grand finale is upon us as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his UFC lightweight championship against interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
A stacked card, with a six-fight main card, has been put together for the fans’ viewing pleasure and should be one of the best events we’ve seen since the pandemic started back in March.
With 12 fights scheduled to take place, I will break down each fight and give my prediction as to the winner, method of victory and round while giving my analysis on both fighters too.
Last weekend I got a very respectable 8/11 correct predictions with three perfect picks, so lets see if I can better that on this 12 fight card.
Joel Alvarez (17-2) vs Alexander Yakovlev (25-10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Joel Alvarez makes his return to Fight Island on the card opener in this one where he takes on veteran lightweight Alexander Yakovlev. Alvarez has won 12 of his last 13 fights, including his last two in a row and has never won a fight via the judges scorecards. Yakovlev on the other hand has lost three of his last four and this will be only his fourth fight since losing to Kamaru Usman in 2016. Alvarez has stunning submission skills but his striking isn’t his strong suit, while Yakovlev is a wrestler who uses his striking to open up the takedown. The issue with that is that if he takes it to the ground, it opens him up to all of Alvarez’s submission game and that will be his downfall. Alvarez takes the neck for a guillotine submission win. PICK – Joel Alvarez via Submission, Round 1
Liana Jojua (8-3) vs Miranda Maverick (7-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
In the women’s flyweight division, it’s a debut for Invicta’s Miranda Maverick where she takes on Liana Jojua. Jojua is a submission artist who has five of her career wins come by armbar, including her last win over Diana Belbita on Fight Island back in July. Maverick is a strong striker and wrestler who also the majority of her career wins via submission. Jojua’s best chance of winning the fight is by getting a takedown and working her submissions, but Maverick has a huge edge when it comes to takedown defence and offence so if anyone is getting taken down in this fight it’s Jojua. With her top control and striking to set it up, I can’t see past Maverick dominating for a comfortable decision win. PICK – Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision
Nathaniel Wood (17-4) vs Casey Kenney (15-2-1) – (Catchweight/140lbs)
A fight that was put together at short notice sees Brit Nathaniel Wood look to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC when he takes on highly rated Casey Kenney at a catchweight. Both fighters come into this one 4-1 in their five UFC appearances and that’s only the start of where their similarities begin. Both are solid strikers that rely on wrestling and scrambles in the octagon while they also have great cardio, hand speed and decent power in their hands. Wood is two years younger than Kenney but he has more professional bouts so he has the ever so slight experience edge. It’s a fight that will likely be decided by who can establish their wrestling game more and I believe that Kenney may have the advantage in that aspect. With that said, Wood is a natural finisher in the cage with only three decisions in his career while Kenney has gone the distance ten times. Wood has the skillset to hurt Kenney and if he does, I back him to finish it. It’s a real coin flip of a fight but I’m going to be slightly biased and go with the Brit. PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Unanimous Decision
Da Un Jung (13-2) vs Sam Alvey (33-14 1NC) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
In what will be his fifth UFC bout, Sam Alvey comes into this fight on a four-fight losing streak to take on Korean power-puncher Da Un Jung. Jung is undefeated in the octagon, submitting Khadis Ibragimov before knocking out Mike Rodriguez in under a minute in his first two UFC fights. Alvey has been knocked out twice during this four-fight streak and despite being known as a power puncher himself, he has won a fight via that method just once in his last 11 bouts – stretching back to 2016. His chin looks like it’s cracking and Jung hits so hard that I think this will be the last time we see Alvey in the UFC as a fifth loss in a row will likely see him released. PICK – Da Un Jung via Knockout, Round 2
Alex Oliveira (22-8-1) vs Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Another contender for potential fight of the night in this one as ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira steps up on short notice to take on undefeated Kazakhstani Shavkat Rakhmonov. Rakhmonov has 12 wins and 12 finishes, never seeing a professional fight going beyond the second round before. Alex Oliveira is a veteran of the UFC and is currently on a two-fight winning streak, defeating Peter Sobotta last time out on Fight Island via decision. Oliveira is a tricky welterweight with solid but unorthodox striking as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, while Rakhmonov is a very talented striker with a good top control game. This is another coin flip of a fight in all honesty. Rakhmonov’s power has seen him starch guys early on, but we’ve seen Oliveira ride out the storm before and even knock guys out himself. I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say the step-up in level of competition for Rakhmonov might be a little too much here and Oliveira can ride out a close decision win. PICK – Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision
Stefan Struve (29-12) vs Tai Tuivasa (10-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Two heavyweights who are arguably fighting for their UFC careers in this bout as Stefan Struve looks to bounce back from a defeat to Ben Rothwell against Tai Tuivasa who is looking to snap a three-fight losing streak. Struve is a submission specialist who stands at 7 foot tall, while Tuivasa is a knockout machine who’s recently been found out in the octagon. It led to his UFC release earlier this year but he is back for a Fight Island card and looking to make the most of his second chance. Struve himself left the UFC for a retirement stint before realising he couldn’t stay away and is since 1-1 in the company. It really is a fight that is determined by where it goes. If it stays on the feet then Tuivasa has more than enough power and striking credentials to put Struve to sleep, but if it goes to the ground then Tuivasa is like a fish out of water and Struve will tap him out. As I see it going though, Tuivasa will walk forward and back Struve against the cage before crashing heavy punches in for a knockout win. PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 1
As the UFC brings to an end the first edition of Fight Island, the middleweight division is hotting up. Former champion Robert Whittaker makes his return in his first bout since losing the belt as he takes on former welterweight title contender Darren Till in the main event.
Before that though, a stacked FIFTEEN fight card will see plenty of big fights and talented fighters enter the octagon. I’ll break down the main card here, and offer up my predictions for each fight.
Last time out for UFC Fight Island: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2, I correctly predicted 6/10 winners on the night with just one of those completely correct (winner, round, method). I expect to do much better this time around and hope to improve on that record.
Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) vs Rhys McKee (10-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
After a mesmerising debut just 10 days ago, Chimaev returns to the Octagon looking for his second win in his second weight division when he takes on Cage Warriors’ ‘Skeletor’. McKee is a solid striker with great jiu-jitsu and will definitely be able to put up more of a fight than John Phillips did. Chimaev though was so dominant against Phillips, a big middleweight, that it’s very hard to discount the size and strength difference. Chimaev has a rocket strapped to his back right now and another dominant win on Fight Island will only see his stock rise further. PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Submission, Round 1
Alex Oliveira (21-8-1, 2NC) vs Peter Sobotta (17-6-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Another potential fight of the night contender here, as ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira looks to make it back-to-back wins in 2020 against the returning Sobotta. The German hasn’t fought since 2018, when he was well beaten by Leon Edwards. Both fighters are technical strikers, with Oliveira loving a hard kick, but also both are more than comfortable on the ground. Sobotta is a better grappler than striker and will want the fight on the ground if he can be in control there and he could go for a submission. If Oliveira ends up in control, we’ll see big ground and pound strikes that could potentially set up submissions. Overall, Sobotta’s inactivity is likely going to cost him here and Oliveira should be able to sneak a win. PICK – Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision
Paul Craig (12-4-1) vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Two wild submission artists who both struggle against fighters with real, genuine quality, this is a weird fight. Craig drew his last fight against Shogun, which many think he won, but before that he had exchanged between wins and losses since 2017. Antigulov had been a finishing machine until recently, where he now lost his last two by knockout. Antigulov has struggled to get through the first round previously and if he does this time he’ll start to fade. But his game plan is constantly to go for the takedown and Craig is so confident on his back that he likes to pull guard so he may not have his cardio tested in the end. This is really a ‘pick-em’ fight where nothing would surprise me, I’d avoid betting on this one. PICK – Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Decision
Carla Esparza (16-6) vs Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun women’s fight coming up where both have a severe disadvantage in the others comfort zone. Despite being only 5ft 1, Esparza loves to try and impose her wrestling game on her opponents while Rodriguez is a muay-thai fighter who throws vicious knees and elbows in the clinch. In both of Rodriguez’s draws she was ragdolled on the ground in 10-8 rounds and while Esparza isn’t as physically imposing as Calvillo she is good on the ground. If Esparza can get the takedown, Rodriguez will find it hard to get back up and will likely lose that round. I’m going to back Esparza to get enough takedowns and control enough on the floor to secure a decision win. PICK – Carla Esparza via Unanimous Decision
Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) vs Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Another weird fight on the card sees two all-time greats of the sport clash in the heavyweight division. Werdum has lost his last two, including being KO’d by Alexander Volkov while Gustafsson lost his last two by finish against Jon Jones and Anthony Smith. Werdum dominated on the ground against Oleinik in his last bout but was overwhelmed on the feet. If you’re going to get overwhelmed on the feet by Oleinik, then Gustafsson will probably murder you. If the fight hits the ground for whatever reason though, Werdum has a big advantage on the mat. Overall though, I think Gustafsson has too much of a striking advantage for Werdum and now that he’s at heavyweight he should have more power too. PICK – Alexander Gustafsson via Knockout, Round 2
Mauricio Rua (26-11-1) vs Antonio Nogueira (23-9) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A fight that should probably be happening in Brazil if it’s happening at all, but the trilogy bout has arrived between ‘Shogun’ and ‘Minotouro’. Rua won the previous two bouts via decision but now I’ll be shocked if this goes the distance. Rua is 38 and Nogueira is 44, both are likely to retire by the end of the year. This is a fight for the nostalgia and it should end up in the same result. Nogueira has pop at the end of his shots but is slow and laboured now, while Rua is 4-1-1 in his last 6 bouts. The gas tank is nearly empty for both and both have shown that their chins are not what quite what they used to be anymore in recent times. Noguiera hasn’t fought for over a year and at this age I expect that to make a massive difference. Rua will land clean and end this one early. PICK – Mauricio Rua via Knockout, Round 1
Robert Whittaker (20-5) vs Darren Till (18-2-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The main event is a fight that everyone has been looking forward to and rightly so. A high level striking bout is almost certain to take place here and with five rounds on the clock should be a very fun one. Whittaker’s last fight was when he was destroyed by Israel Adesanya in their title fight, while Till’s last bout was an underwhelming win over Kelvin Gastelum in his middleweight debut. Whittaker has a wide stance and focuses a lot on kicks to maintain his distance, while Till uses his kickboxing background to stay out and then his footwork to steam in and land his big left hand. Whittaker seems to be very underrated because of the way he lost to Adesanya and it’s interesting to see for me. The Australian has powerful striking and excellent defence, something we saw against Yoel Romero. Till’s chin was touched by Woodley and Masvidal and if Whittaker lands in a similar fashion then the results could be the same. Whittaker himself has been prone to a big punch too recently though, as he was dropped 4 times in his last two fights. Till will pressure from the off but Whittaker is proven at this level and will be prepared for it. His pacing has been proven too since he’s done the five round haul many times. I think overall, Whittaker is just too well-rounded to fall into Till’s traps for his big left hand and while I think Till will land some big shots, Whittaker will do enough for the decision win. PICK – Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision