The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 282 as they will crown a brand new undisputed light heavyweight champion when Jan Blachowicz takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.
Originally a three-round co-main, former champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Glover Teixeira and vacate his title after suffering a shoulder injury in training, which saw this fight bumped up to a title fight.
We’ll also see the UK’s own compete as Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till compete on the main card, while there is some deep prelim fights on the card too.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Cameron Saaiman (6-0) vs Steven Koslow (6-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A banger at bantamweight opens up the card between two UFC debutants. Both guys come into this with undefeated records, with Saaiman earning a UFC contract on the Contender Series most recently, while Koslow has won all six of his professional fights via first-round submission.
Saaiman is a talented striker with great power, technique and a really deep gas tank too. His takedown defence isn’t the best though, and that’s a big problem against someone like Koslow who is an absolute wizard on the ground in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.
With that said, Saaiman is a decent grappler on the mat and a good wrestler too. If he can get out of the first-round without being dragged down and dominated, then he has a great chance of landing his power strikes on the feet and earn a big knockout win as the fight progresses. It’s a tough fight to pick early on in the card but Saaiman is the more well-rounded guy so I’m going with him to get the win. PICK – Cameron Saaiman via Knockout, Round 2
Vinicius Salvador (14-4) vs Daniel Da Silva (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Flyweight fun up next. Salvador makes his UFC debut on a four-fight win streak, with a knockout win on the Contender Series back in August securing his contract with the company. Da Silva on the other hand has lost all three of his UFC bouts, getting stopped by Jeff Molina, Francisco Figueiredo and Victor Altamirano.
Salvador is a powerhouse of a striker in the flyweight division, with excellent hooks and 13 of his 14 career wins coming via knockout. Da Silva is a really well rounded fighter, but he’s struggled to bring it all together in the UFC and has been losing fights he is supposed to win. This is another fight that he is supposed to win realistically.
He’s the better fighter when it comes to skillsets, but with his recent performances it’s hard to expect him to do what he’s supposed to do. But it’s also hard to back Vinicius when I know he isn’t the better fighter. I expect a knockout to occur, and I’m going to go with Da Silva to get it done despite by gut warning me against it. PICK – Daniel Da Silva via Knockout, Round 2
TJ Brown (16-9) vs Erik Silva (9-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
More fun at featherweight up next. Brown beat Kai Kamaka III and Charles Rosa (UFC Vegas 46) via decision, but was beaten by Nuerdanbieke in June last time out. Silva makes his UFC debut on an eight-fight win streak, winning on the Contender Series last time out after a KO win in just 92 seconds.
Brown is a well-rounded fighter with some really good striking and solid grappling too, but his recent performances have seen him struggle to put it all together. Silva on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who likes to wrestle, control and land damage on the ground, while also having slick jiu-jitsu skills too.
Silva’s style is similar to the way that Nuerdanbieke was able to nullify and defeat Brown last time out, but he’s largely untested against the better fighters in the world. Whether he has the quality to execute his style is yet to be seen, but if he can he should be able to claim a career-defining win for himself. PICK – Erik Silva via Decision
Billy Quarantillo (16-4) vs Alexander Hernandez (13-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger at featherweight as Hernandez makes his debut in the division. Quarantillo is 2-2 in his last four with wins over Kyle Nelson (UFC Vegas 10) and Gabriel Benitez, while he lost to Gavin Tucker (UFC 256) and most recently Shane Burgos at UFC 268. Hernandez is 4-4 in his last eight, alternating results in each. His last two saw him beat Mike Breeden with ease (UFC Vegas 38) before getting smashed by Renato Moicano at UFC 271.
Quarantillo is a brilliantly entertaining fighter, whose best attribute is his heart and grit to go with his striking and grappling skills. Hernandez alternatively is a strong boxer with really powerful hands and a good gas tank, but this weight cut could have a big effect on how he usually fights.
Early on I expect Hernandez to use his wrestling and boxing to keep Quarantillo at bay, but without getting a finish his cardio could begin to fail him and Billy Q will almost certainly be able to take advantage and push the pace for the full fight. I expect a brilliant fight between them, and a late surge from Quarantillo could be enough to sway the judges in a really tight call on the cards. PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Slightly further down the card will be a middleweight title eliminator too, as Jared Cannonier takes on Derek Brunson to potentially decipher who the next contender will be for the belt.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 47 we went 9/13 with six perfect picks to move to 528/826 (63.92%) with 224 perfect picks (42.42%).
We’ll look to improve on that this week with this huge 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
William Knight (11-2) vs Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) **William Knight missed weight by 12 pounds. Fight will proceed at heavyweight!**
Two powerhouses going head-to-head here in what could be a fight full of fireworks. Knight is on a two-fight win streak having stopped Fabio Cherant at UFC Vegas 34 before a decision win over Alonzo Menifield at UFC Vegas 44. Grishin on the other hand is an experienced pro who suffered defeat to Dustin Jacoby last time out at UFC Vegas 20 last year.
Knight is a powerful striker, with impressive low kicks and a winging overhand right that can do real damage. He also has great ground-and-pound skills, but his wrestling isn’t the best and he can’t drag fights to the ground. Grishin is also a striker, but far more technical than powerful and has great defensive wrestling to ensure the fight stays where he wants it. Ultimately that will be the difference here.
Grishin will want the fight standing because it’s where he holds the advantage and Knight isn’t a good enough wrestler to force it anywhere else. Grishin should be able to control the range and use his jabs well enough to secure a wide, but uneventful, decision win here. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs Blood Diamond (3-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An intriguing welterweight fight to open the card between a sturdy UFC fighter and a debutant. Wells is on a three-fight winning streak, including a KO over Warlley Alves at UFC Vegas 30 in his organisation debut. Blood Diamond is only 3-0 in MMA but had over 50 kickboxing bouts in his career, and has evenly split his wins across KO’s, submissions and decisions.
Wells is a powerful striker on the feet, who explodes into his attacks, but he also has his wrestling chops and some decent grappling skills too. As expected, Blood Diamond is a technically brilliant kickboxer with amazing kicks and speed. But his defensive grappling chops are yet to really be tested, although he hasn’t fought in just under two years.
The improvements could very well be there for Diamond, but that’s hypothetical at this point. We’ve seen Wells knockout a seasoned veteran in his last fight and we know he has good enough wrestling to take the fight down. With three submission wins on his record, I expect him to get the fight to the mat, move to the back and eventually secure his neck to claim a win. PICK – Jeremiah Wells via Submission, Round 2
Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs Sergey Morozov (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun bantamweight fight next between two super underrated fighters. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, but he claimed a big KO win last time out against Gaetano Pirrello at UFC Vegas 38. Morozov on the other hand was submitted in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 8 but then bounced back with a decision win over Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 31.
This is a big striker vs grappler bout, with one punch knockout power coming up against relentless wrestling and grinding. Andrade has secured 20 knockouts from 27 career wins and is so explosive despite being 36-years-old, while Morozov is a great wrestler who is able to rack up takedowns at will and consistently across 15 minutes. While Morozov has struggled against pressure fighters in the past, Andrade has struggled with specialist wrestlers and battling off his back.
Andrade absolutely has the power to end this fight with one big punch, but he’ll struggle to land the punch if he’s looking up at the ceiling for the night. Morozov’s takedowns are just relentless and with Andrade’s history of being taken down too open, it’s hard to look past a controlling win for Morozov but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to sleep. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
AJ Dobson (6-0) vs Jacob Malkoun (5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really exciting middleweight fight between two hot prospects in the UFC. Dobson made waves with his victory on Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his debut here, while Malkoun got smoked in his debut at UFC 254 in just 18 seconds but bounced back with a decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC Vegas 24.
Dobson is a powerful blitzer with excellent power in his hands and good forward pressure. He’s earned three knockout wins and two submissions in his six fights. Malkoun on the other hand is a great boxer too, with professional experience, and he also has some decent jiu-jitsu credentials. The loss to Hawes really affected his stock, but his performance against Alhassan certainly showed what he’s capable of too.
Dobson’s reputation is big right now because of the hype, but Malkoun certainly isn’t just a walk in the park here. Malkoun will likely lean on his wrestling heavily again and we haven’t really seen Dobson off his back yet. Dobson could earn a knockout win, for sure, but I think Malkoun will be able to grind on him and make it a rough debut for a victory. PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-2) vs Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two fighters on big win streaks go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Martinez is on a three-fight winning run, being successful in his UFC debut against Guido Cannetti at UFC Vegas 35 while Lawrence grabbed a third-round knockout win over Vince Cachero at UFC Vegas 20 in his debut.
Martinez is a fighter with great power in his hands, the ability to put anyone’s lights out with one clean shot and great boxing technique in both directions. Lawrence on the other hand is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands too and a consistent takedown-heavy approach to secure control. Martinez has definitely got the edge in the striking game, but he suffered badly in his debut win with the pressure of Cannetti.
That’s a problem, because Lawrence is far better than Cannetti is. His pressure is relentless, his wrestling solid and his grappling is far more advanced than Martinez’s is. With that said, ‘Manaboi’ has fight-ending power which is hard to go against. I will go against it on this occasion though, because Lawrence is a big step up in competition but don’t be surprised to see a highlight reel finish in his favour instead. PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision
An amazing year of fights has come to an end and that means it’s time to hand out the annual awards for the fight game.
After 509 fights in 2021 after the global pandemic was worked around, the UFC produced some amazing fights with incredible moments throughout the year. But which were the best? Who was the best?
For our second annual end of year awards, we’ll be handing out the honours for each of the following categories:
Submission of the year
Knockout of the year
Fight of the year
Breakthrough fighter of the year
Fighter of the year
SUBMISSION OF THE YEAR
3. Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC 263, June 2021)
It was one of the most highly anticipated rematches in recent memory following on from their fight of the year contender in 2020, but this fight was remembered for different reasons.
The first fight ended in a draw, but this one was pretty much dominated from start to finish by the challenger as Moreno claimed a victory in the third-round to become the first-ever Mexican born champion in the UFC.
Moreno went for a takedown and quickly transitioned to the back of Figueiredo before locking in a body-triangle and immediately going for the choke. The then-champion tried to defend it by fighting the hands but Moreno switched grips, got it under the chin and squeezed until he forced the tap. It was a brilliant performance, capped off by a brilliant submission.
2. Jacare Souza vs ANDRE MUNIZ (UFC 262, May 2021)
This fight was deemed a very interesting one by MMA fans around the world because it was two world-renowned grapplers going head-to-head.
Jacare was well known as one of the best grapplers in the sport, but Muniz was a jiu-jitsu specialist in his own right and the question marks were about whether he would be able to secure a submission in his specialist world and what would happen if he couldn’t. We didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
Muniz initiated the grappling exchange and when he took the fight to the ground he scrambled in a way to trap the arm of Jacare in an awkward position. When Jacare didn’t move, he simply snapped his arm with a sickening thud and earned the first-round win. It was new and incredible, and earns the number two spot for the year.
1. Rodolfo Vieira vs ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ, (UFC 258, February 2021)
So when you watch the clip, you’ll see a straight up guillotine choke and think, ‘why is this the submission of the year?!’ but it needs some back-story to truly understand what happened.
Rodolfo Vieira is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world. He has the nickname ‘The Black Belt Hunter’ because it’s what he does for a living, he submits other high level black belts in submission tournaments. So when he took purple belt Hernandez to the ground early in their fight, it should’ve been all over.
Instead Hernandez survived, got back to his feet and put a beating on an exhausted Vieira for the rest of the round. The second round started, Vieira was basically out on his feet so Hernandez beat him up a little more and then tapped out the legendary grappler himself. A genuinely insane victory and one that will go down in history as the best submission of 2021.
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
Angela Hill vs Ashley Yoder was cancelled on the day of the event due to a positive COVID-19 test from one of Yoder’s cornermen. The fight has been rescheduled for UFC Vegas 21, on March 13th.
The card will proceed with nine fights.
Dustin Jacoby def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Pretty steady start to the fight from both fighters as both men meet in the middle and trade calf kicks. A few attempts that miss from both guys before Grishin looks for a shot and takedown. Jacoby avoids it then as he steps forward Grishin lands a nice straight right that drops Jacoby. Grishin lands a big strike onto him on the ground then looks to take the back but Jacoby defends well and gets back up to his feet relatively unscathed. Heavy calf kick from Grishin lands before Jacoby just misses with a mean overhand right. Jacoby lands a nice head kick but Grishin walked through it and lands a big leg kick in return. Grishin lands a big punch after catching a kick and drops Jacoby again and ends the round on his back looking for a rear naked choke. 10-9 Grishin.
Jacoby with a better start to this round, landing some nice calf kicks and his jab well too, as Grishin fakes a few level changes and looks for some counter strikes. Jacoby circling on the outside against the cage, with Grishin looking to cut him off with good footwork and some nice hooks. Nice jab from Jacoby and then a clean left hook lands as Grishin starting to slow down a little. Grishin looks to clinch up but Jacoby lands a huge right hook that pushes Grishin onto his back foot. Lazy shot from the Russian is easily stuffed by Jacoby and he looks to be in the ascendancy as the round comes to a close. 19-19 going into the third.
Grishin doing well in this third round by taking the centre and landing the left hand well. Grishin throws a nice leg kick that takes Jacoby off balance but he bounces up quickly again. Grishin throws another leg kick but Jacoby checks it and sends Grishin off balance. Jacoby throws a flying knee that partially lands, but Grishin grabs hold of him and tries to tie him up on the cage, switching positions and landing a nice combo. Final minute of the round and it’s still up for grabs but Jacoby’s leg attacks are stacking up. Grishin now avoiding the leg attacks and lands a nice combo against the cage to end the round. Really close, but I lean towards Grishin for that final round. 29-28 Grishin.
Ronnie Lawrence def Vince Cachero via Knockout, Round 3 (2:38)
Lots of fast movements from both fighters in the opening minute of the fight, with Lawrence bouncing around on the outside and throwing leg kicks and spinning body kicks, while Cachero looks to land shots as he comes in. Lawrence finally shoots and gets the takedown immediately, but after some scrambles Cachero manages to get back to the feet. Lawrence continues to strike well on the feet with Cachero still looking for counter strikes, landing a big right hand before another takedown attempt. Lawrence gets into top position and avoids a triangle attempt from Cachero and ends the round in a dominant position. 10-9 Lawrence.
More of the same in the second round as Lawrence comes out really aggressive with kicks and body work. Cachero looks to be a step behind on the feet and Lawrence is so busy too, constantly touching him or moving. Takedown from Lawrence again and he holds the position well this time on top and passes into side control. Lawrence looks for the neck and Cachero gets back up to his feet, then Lawrence takes him down again but Cachero grabs the neck and goes for a guillotine. He transitions to a d’arce choke attempt but Lawrence defends it perfectly, stands up and then takes the fight down once again. He looks for a head and arm choke from three-quarter mount but Cachero defends well until the round ends. 20-18 Lawrence.
Both fighters meet in the middle and Lawrence throws a spinning body kick again. Nice leg kick lands and drops Cachero and Lawrence goes straight for a finish. Lots of short ground and pound strikes before a German suplex slams Cachero down again. Lawrence maintains control on the top and starts landing ground and pound and looks to take the back. Cachero defends well but Lawrence ends up back on top and is throwing big ground and pound strikes from mount now. So many strikes from Lawrence as Cachero keeps trying to move but Lawrence is relentless and gets the stoppage win. What a performance.
Alexis Davis def Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Fast start to the fight as both women open up with big combo exchanges, with Mazo landing hard and heavy early on. Mazo throws a body kick as Davis throws a leg kick which drops Mazo, and Davis drops down to make it a grappling match quickly. Davis passes into side control relatively quickly and Mazo tries to explode up, but Davis holds on and takes her back. Both hooks in and she rolls away from the cage and as she hunts for a rear-naked choke Mazo tries to reverse the position but Davis holds it and ends the round landing shots while having back control. 10-9 Davis but Mazo was dominant on the feet early on, so will have confidence.
Davis comes out aggressive in the second with lots of peppering leg kicks and marching forward, but Mazo is staying calm and throwing shots back herself. Lots of jabs and straights from Mazo landing clean on Davis, but the leg kicks are persistent and causing lots of damage to Mazo right now. The Colombian Queen continues to come forward with her jab but Davis’s leg kicks are so relentless. Final 30 seconds of the round and Davis shoots for the takedown and gets it and ends the round on top. Close round, but probably Davis’. 20-18.
Final round and Mazo throws a body kick that gets caught and she gets sent back to the ground almost immediately. Mazo looks for a heel hook to threaten but Davis defends it well and gets back on top with ground and pound before taking her back early on in the round. Mazo looks to reverse into her guard but Davis looks fresher and stronger and pops back onto the top. More ground and pound from Davis and Mazo looks for an armbar but it’s defended well and she’s able to take the back once again. Final minute and she’s hunting for a finish but Mazo defending honourably and manages to see the round out. 30-27 Davis, very good performance from the veteran.
Thiago Moises def Alexander Hernandez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Fun start to the round with both guys pushing forward and throwing heavy strikes together. Hernandez taking the centre of the cage and forcing Moises to circle along the cage, with the Brazilian throwing lots of heavy calf kicks. Hernandez lands a nice body kick and is throwing good shots to the head and body. Moises lands a nice right hand on Hernandez and then Hernandez fires back with a body kick that clips the top of the cup and causes a pause in the action. Both fighters meet in the middle once the action resumes and the both miss wild overhand rights at the same time. Moises lands a heavy right hand that cracks Hernandez and he pushes forward for a finish, but misses everything and the round ends. Close, but I edge it to Moises. 10-9.
Hernandez opens the round with a right hand that misses and Moises lands a beautiful counter strike of his own. Hernandez is trying to be first a lot the time and Moises seems content with that and counters back perfectly almost every time. Spinning back kick from Moises is partially blocked but does some damage, before a nice left hand stuns Hernandez. Moises’ striking defence has been stellar so far and the round ends with Moises coming forward with big swings but Hernandez avoiding them and landing a nice counter of his own. 20-18 but again, close round.
Moises comes out hard early in the final round and lands some nice right hands. Hernandez still in this as Moises shoots for a takedown but Hernandez stuffs it and lands some nice punches as Moises holds his foot before they separate. Moises throws a few head kick attempts that narrowly miss as they continue to swing and miss on each other. Big head kick from Moises lands and he starts talking to Hernandez while walking him down and throwing big strikes and kicks. Hernandez stays composed but doesn’t land anything significant as the round ends. 30-27 Moises for me.
Alex Caceres def Kevin Croom via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
Croom comes out hard early on with some heavy swings but Caceres stays composed, avoids them and lands some nice kicks to the legs and body. Croom comes forward though and is looking to make it a dirty fight, clinching up and trying to grind him down. Caceres gets double underhooks and looks for some knees but Croom escapes well and continues to press against the cage for a trip. Croom finally manages to get the fight down by dragging Caceres from his back, but he ends up on the bottom and eats some big ground and pound shots. He gets back to the feet and tries the same takedown again to end the round. 10-9 Caceres.
Croom comes out looking for a takedown early once again, but Caceres defends it really well once again. Croom goes in for another shot and eats a beautiful check right-hook that stuns him, but he continues to come forward again. Another takedown attempt and Caceres starting to feel it so Croom finally gets him down. He lands a nice elbow but then Caceres throws up a triangle and it looks tight. He picks the ankle too and tries to tighten it and as it looks like no way out for Croom, he then inexcusably just lets it go!? They battle for position for the remainder of the round but that is probably a Croom round. 19-19.
Final round and Caceres lands some huge counter strikes that wobble Croom! He keeps walking forward and is throwing some really lazy takedown attempt, clearly is absolutely exhausted. Caceres is defending the takedown attempts with ease and landing some nice strikes and eventually Caceres is the one who gets the takedown. He takes the back and wraps in a body triangle and starts throwing some ground and pound, before looking to sink in a rear naked choke. More ground and pound strikes from Caceres as he takes the round, potentially a 10-8, and the victory.
Pedro Munhoz def Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Crazy start to this one as Munhoz rushes out and goes for a high kick that gets countered and he ends up on his face. Both men stand in the pocket and trade big hooks and crosses each, with Rivera landing the heavier shots. Munhoz throwing some heavy calf kicks to the lead leg, while Rivera is countering with huge hooks that are landing flush. Rivera starting to return the leg kicks now too as Munhoz is wearing the damage more on his face. Munhoz lands two big calf kicks and drops Rivera both times! Rivera responds with a nice one two but his leg is in bits as the round ends. 10-9 Rivera.
Munhoz goes for another leg kick but Rivera moves and counters with a straight right hand and then charges forward to get the fight down to the ground. Munhoz instantly goes for a leg lock but Rivera rolls through into a 50/50 position and both fighters let go and stand back up. Rivera lands three big shots in a row but Munhoz fires a nasty leg kick in the middle of it that drops him to one knee again. Rivera throwing a few kicks of his own and then they both exchange big left hooks that land simultaneously. Munhoz lands another kick that drops Rivera and denies a takedown attempt from Rivera too. A wild exchange in the centre ends the round and it’s a Munhoz one. 19-19.
Final round and it’s all to fight for, so Rivera comes storming out and starts throwing big hooks and straights that land clean. Munhoz continues to throw the leg kicks and then throws one up to the head too. Rivera still throwing big punches but Munhoz showing that chin that has seen him never get stopped. Two accidental low blows from Munhoz cause short breaks but they go again. Final minute and Rivera lands two huge left hands and Munhoz is wobbled. He catches the leg kick and throws some big strikes and has Munhoz backing up but it’s not enough for the knockout and it’ll go to a decision. 29-28 Munhoz.
Montana De La Rosa vs Mayra Bueno Silva – Majority Draw (27-28, 28-28 x2)
Fast start from De La Rosa as she comes out and lands a couple of nice punches square to the face of Silva early on. Silva looks for a Thai clinch on a couple of occasions but De La Rosa is able to get the underhooks and push her against the cage. She gets the takedown nicely and Silva is able to get back up, but De La Rosa tries to put her back down immediately and is denied only by a fence grab. The referee stops the fight and deducts a point from Silva because it prevented a takedown. They go again and Silva lands more excellent knees while De La Rosa’s right hand is connecting well too. Great round, 10-8 De La Rosa.
Second round starts quickly again and Silva lands a big head kick that rocks De La Rosa! She’s throwing with some real venom and forces De La Rosa to shoot for a takedown, but Silva defends it well and ends up on top. Some big ground and pound from the Brazilian but De La Rosa gets back up to the feet well and recovers. Nice takedown attempt from De La Rosa and she eventually is able to dump her down and control from top position. Lots of ground and pound strikes and ends the round looking for a head and arm choke. Very close round, but 20-17 for me.
Silva opens the round once again with a Thai clinch and a head kick attempt that just misses. Silva throws a nice left hand that lands but De La Rosa closes the distance well and they tie up against the cage. De La Rosa looks for a takedown against the cage and Silva starts throwing elbows and punches, which busts up the nose of De La Rosa. She gets her up against the cage and goes for a single leg but instead of taking her down just holds against the cage and tries to beat her up. Into the final minute and De La Rosa gets the takedown and ends the round on top landing ground and pound for what should be a decision win.
Magomed Ankalaev def Nikita Krylov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A tentative start to this one as Krylov closes the distance early and immediately goes for a takedown, not looking to trade on the feet too much. He gets him against the cage and eventually drags him to the ground, isolating the leg and trying to hold him down. Ankalaev is able to get up to his feet and they separate, which allows Ankalaev to start throwing some strikes. Nothing significant from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Ankalaev shoots for a takedown but Krylov is able to stay on the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Krylov, just.
Wild start to the round as Ankalaev comes out and looks to land some big shots early on. Krylov circling on the outside with his back to the cage, as Ankalaev circling and taking the centre cutting him off. Nice left hook from Ankalaev lands but Krylov responds with a right cross of his own. Takedown attempt from Krylov denied and then Ankalaev gets a clinch and lands a big knee up the middle. Krylov goes for a spinning attack but Ankalaev reads it and gets a takedown off it and ends up in top position. Krylov defending well from the bottom in his butterfly guard, so Ankalaev pops up and forces the issue to get Krylov on his back and lands a couple of elbows before the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Body kick from Krylov opens up the round but Ankalaev continues to march forward. Krylov goes for a takedown but it’s shrugged off and seconds late it’s Ankalaev who shoots against the cage. Nice inside trip gets the fight down and he’s looking to land some ground and pound, but Krylov is able to get back upright. Ankalaev holds on to him and eventually trips him back down against the cage and starts throwing some ground and pound. Complete control from top position by Ankalaev for the remainder of the round and that should be enough to get him a victory. 29-28 Ankalaev.
Ciryl Gane def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
Very slow start to the fight as both mean stand in the centre and just kind of stare each other out for the first two minutes. Gane flicks out a lovely jab and avoids a wild swing from Rozenstruik but other than that not much action so far as we hit the halfway point of the round. Gane throws a lazy body kick that Rozenstruik catches and then he throws a combo, of which one punch lands. Gane throws a better body kick and then changes levels to go in for a takedown against the cage. Rozenstruik defends and then goes for some elbows, which allows Gane to get the takedown to end the round. 10-9 Gane.
More of the same from both fighters in the second round as Gane throws the snappy jab and some body kicks, while Rozenstruik is just waiting for the right moment to throw a big counter strike. A couple more jabs and Rozenstruik steps forward to start an attack and Gane changes levels quickly and turns him against the cage. Gane then throws Rozenstruik to the ground and jumps to take the back for a choke, but Rozenstruik escapes quickly. Rozenstruik catches a kick and walks him backwards but doesn’t throw anything and allows Gange off the hook and the second round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Gane starting to loosen up a bit in this round with a nice head kick early on that brings a smile from both competitors. More jabs and some leg kicks too from Gane, while Rozenstruik is still very flat and throwing next to nothing. Big swing from both men lands simultaneously but they both continue to stand tall. More jabs from Gane to the chin and body, before a nice on-two followed by a leg kick lands too. Jab and leg kick combo from Rozenstruik lands nicely and he ends the round landing a big right hook that Gane eats and goes for a single leg as the buzzer goes. 30-27 Gane, light work right now.
Gane continues from the outside with the jab and fighting at a really easy pace, with Rozenstruik essentially refusing to throw at this point. Gane on the front foot and landing lots of leg kicks and jabs, but just really untroubled. Gane goes to close the distance against the cage and throws a knee that glances the cup and causes a pause in the action. Nice jab from Gane followed with a big left hook lands clean as he sees out the round with ease. 40-36, this isn’t a good fight at all.
Final round and Gane continues with what he’s been doing for the past 20 minutes – jabs and leg kicks. Rozenstruik still seemingly forgetting he’s allowed to hit Gane back, as Gane closes the distance and clinches up against the cage. Both men throw some light knees before they separate and get straight back to the pattern of the fight so far. Rozenstruik throws a left hand and Gane overpowers him back to the cage and clinches up as we enter the final 90 seconds. Gane uses his strength again and takes the back of Rozenstruik before dragging him down momentarily and the fight ends against the cage. 50-45 Gane, bleh.
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
Miles Johns def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 3 (2:51)
Competitive start to the fight as both men put out feelers for each other early on. Johns lands a nice low kick and then shoots for a single leg against the cage, but Natividad defends very well to deny. They break and Johns starts landing a long, lead jab to keep Natividad away. Natividad starts letting off combinations against the cage on Johns, but he ducks under and shoots for a takedown once again. He gets it down but Natividad jumps up as he looks to land ground and pound. Round comes to an end but it’s been steady from both. 10-9 Johns for me.
Natividad comes out in the second round more aggressive, throwing hooks over the jab attempt but not landing with anything flush. Johns still looking to land his jab and then shoots for the takedown once again and gets it, but Natividad once again is able to get back to his feet quickly. Johns holds him against the cage for a while but the referee breaks them apart due to inactivity. Natividad coming forward with big punches again as Johns looks like he’s tiring and a flying knee attempt just misses. Natividad goes in for a takedown of his own but Johns sprawls out of it and lands a big spinning back fist as they get back to the feet. Wild hook attempt from Natividad is ducked under and Johns goes for a takedown again as the round ends. 20-18 Johns.
Final round and Natividad comes out very aggressive in this one. Both men exchange big hooks but they eat it well and continue circling. Natividad starts trying to work the body, but Johns fires back with two nice low kicks. Johns shoots for a single leg takedown and pushes Natividad against the cage. Natividad threatens a d’arce choke attempt and as they break Johns lands a huge uppercut that knocks Natividad unconscious! What a knockout!
Dustin Jacoby def Justin Ledet via Knockout, Round 1 (2:38)
Strong start to the round for Jacoby as he comes out and attacks the legs of his opponent. Ledet looks to land a hook but Jacoby avoids and counters with a big straight right hand of his own that wobbles Ledet. Calm pressure from Jacoby but Ledet lands a nice jab and swings an uppercut that just misses. Jacoby lands three more leg kicks and drops Ledet then jumps on the ground and pound. He lets Ledet back up and then knocks him out cold with a huge right hand. What a performance from Dustin Jacoby.
Jason Witt def Cole Williams via Submission (Head & Arm Choke), Round 2 (2:09)
Witt comes into the centre and immediately shoots for a takedown with the single leg. He gets him down immediately and takes Williams’ back, but against the cage and he defends a precarious position well and gets him into full guard. Witt starts throwing some heavy ground and pound and Williams moves away from the damage but is showing no signs of being able to get back up to his feet. Witt lands a beautiful short elbow that opens up a massive cut above the left eye of Williams and blood is pouring down his face now. Witt continues with the strikes on the ground as the round comes to an end. 10-8 Witt for me.
Quick start to the round again as both men throw some big shots before Witt shoots in for a takedown, picks Williams up above his head, walks him over to the opposite side of the octagon in front of his corner and slams him down. Witt advances to full mount and is searching for the submission, but Williams slips out of the rear-naked choke attempt. Witt switches to a head and arm choke and squeezes, then gets the tap. Hugely impressive win for Jason Witt.
Sean Strickland def Jack Marshman via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Strickland comes forward immediately and starts walking him down across the cage, throwing out feel punches while Marshman responds with big hooks that hit fresh air. Strickland starts mixing in a leg kick too and lands a huge left straight, right hook combo. Marshman starting to feel the effects of the shots he’s absorbing as Strickland continues to walk him down across the octagon. Strickland backs him up against the cage again and throws a huge one two that lands flush, before a big body shot lands too. Marshman throws a big right hook that lands flush and stings Strickland but the round ends. 10-9 Strickland.
Strickland once again comes out and takes the centre, landing his jab with ease. He lands a big double-jab and follows it up immediately with a right cross that lands clean. Marshman starting to look banged up but is holding firm and still throwing strikes of his own. Another strike from Strickland opens up a cut under Marshman’s eye as he stays out of range and counters well. Strickland landing his jab at will and Marshman throwing wild hooks that aren’t even close to landing for the most part. Dominant round again for Strickland. 20-18.
Third and final round and both guys start exchanging words in the centre of the cage as they trade blows. Both guys going back to back with big hooks, crosses and stiff jabs but Strickland has been completely dominant. A nice jab and head kick combination lands and the two start screaming at each other. Strickland asks Marshman “why won’t you fall?!” as they exchange wild hooks until the buzzer goes. 30-27 Strickland.
Adrian Yanez def Victor Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1 (2:46)
Quick start to the round for Rodriguez who shoots in for an early takedown against the cage, but Yanez defends well after about a one minute clinch and they break back into the centre. Rodriguez throws a big overhand right that lands but Yanez eats it and moves forward. Big combination lands and wobbles Rodriguez! He starts hunting landing big shots and gets a knockdown. Rodriguez gets back to his feet but Yanez lands another big right-left combo that drops him again. Rodriguez gets back to his feet, Yanez throws a right hand followed a head kick that puts Rodriguez’s lights out. Superb performance from Yanez.
Alexander Hernandez def Chris Gruetzmacher via Knockout, Round 1 (1:46)
Gruetzmacher comes out and lands two heavy leg kicks immediately but Hernandez fires back with one of his own. Hernandez landing jabs, hooks and kicks at will and staying out of range perfectly well. He’s really showing his talents here, dominating every exchange and he looks a level above right now. Big one-two lands and a head kick wobbles Gruetzmacher! Hernandez hunts for the knockout and lands a four-piece combo that knocks Gruetzmacher down and out! What a stunning performance!
Thiago Moises def Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Strong start to the fight by Thiago Moises in this one as he comes in throwing bombs early including some vicious leg kicks that force Green to switch stance. A head kick lands by Moises but Green eats it and comes forward with a nice right hook of his own. Moises shoots for a takedown and is able to pick up Green and slam him down. Moises moves straight to the back but Green shakes him off and ends up on top himself. Big knee to the body and they break. Lots of feints and small strikes land before Moises lands a big right hand flush to the face that hurts Green, but he takes it and survives. Flurry of punches from Green ends the round. 10-9 Moises.
Fun second round as the two meet in the middle and exchange hooks early on. Green lands a beautiful step back right hand that lands on Moises who is wobbled for a second, before Green shoots in for a takedown. He lifts the single leg and sweeps the standing leg to get the top position. Moises gets back up quickly and takes the back of Green, then rolls through with a reverse heel hook. Green fights it in a panic and eventually escapes. Moises looks tired now and Green is teeing off against the cage while the Brazilian looks to recover. Flying knee attempt by Green just misses and then Moises lands a big right hook as the buzzer goes. Close round but 19-19 for me.
A tense final round as both guys are landing big strikes and swinging big. A wild exchange ends up with Green having a big cut over his right eye but it doesn’t stop him coming forward and looking to land heavy right hooks. Moises pushes Green back against the cage and looks to load up a takedown but Green tries to counter it with a kimura. Moises avoids and takes the back but can’t get Green down on the mat properly. They get back to the feet for one final wild exchange as the fight ends. Great fight, 29-28 Moises for me but super close fight.
Kevin Holland def Charlie Ontiveros via Verbal Submission, Round 1 (2:38)
Interesting start to the round as Holland with a big swing and a miss puts himself on his butt, then when he gets back up Ontiveros lands a big axe-kick to the head of Holland. Holland responds with an immediate takedown and ends up in north-south position landing big elbows to the head. Ontiveros fights for position and tries to get back up against the cage but Holland gets a firm grip and slams him to the mat again. The referee then waves the fight off out of nowhere and Ontiveros is saying he’s injured. The broadcast tell us after the decision that he needs to be stabilised and removed on a stretcher having not moved since the fight ended. Best wishes to Charlie Ontiveros.
Greg Hardy def Maurice Greene via Knockout, Round 2 (1:12)
Aggressive start to the fight by Greg Hardy, who checks a leg kick and marches forward. Greene throws a body kick attempt that Hardy catches and he lands two huge right hands that drop him! He runs for the finish with heavy ground and pound and Greene looks to defend with up-kicks before Hardy scrambles and ends up on top. A huge elbow lands but Greene manages to tie him up enough to frustrate him and Hardy stands the fight back up. Nice one-two lands for Greene but Hardy eats it as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Hardy.
Second round starts slowly, with both fighters tiring already. Lots of feints and jabs, but Hardy throws a big lead left uppercut and drops Greene! He jumps on for the ground and pound again and despite him moving still, Greene is taking unanswered shots and the referee waves it off. Big win for Hardy!
Bryce Mitchell def Andre Fili via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)
Quick start from Mitchell in this one as he comes out with jabs and then goes for an early takedown. Fili gets back up quickly but Mitchell drives him back down again and wraps up the legs as he looks to pass but Fili escapes. Mitchell latches on again though and takes the fight back down immediately, stacking Fili against the cage and landing some ground and pound. Mitchell eventually passes into full mount but not doing much damage, just taking his time and looking for openings. Fili escapes full mount but Mitchell once again is able to step into it before Fili reverses the position and gets back to his feet. Mitchell throws a huge overhand right and catches a kick at the same time to get the fight back down once again as the opening round comes to an end. 10-9 Bryce.
Second round starts with Mitchell landing a big overhand left twice, before shooting for a takedown. Fili sprawls expertly well and defends against it, before landing a big right-hand of his own. Fili throws a flying knee that lands well and Mitchell starting to look uncomfortable on the feet. Both men throw a right hook and Mitchell changes levels to shoot for a takedown, but Fili defends superbly against the cage. Fili coming forward now on the feet and is teeing off on Mitchell, who shoots for another takedown and this time lifts Fili and slams him down to complete it. Fili threatens with a guillotine but Mitchell stays calm and moves away from the position. Fili kicks off the cage and rolls through to get back to his feet and both men land big strikes as the round ends with Mitchell attempting a takedown and failing. 19-19.
Final round begins with Fili swinging big and looking to apply pressure, but Mitchell changes levels and gets an early takedown in the centre of the octagon. Mitchell looking to advance but Fili defending really well and manages to kick back up, but Mitchell holds onto a leg and takes him back down. Fili switches the position and ends up on top, lands a couple of shots but Mitchell gets back to his feet. Mitchell throws a big right hook that lands then goes straight back to the takedown and now starts landing short elbows and punches. Final minute of the fight and Mitchell is still on top forcing Fili to defend strikes. More ground and pound for Mitchell as he manages to stay on top for the remainder of the round and likely take the win. 29-28 Mitchell.
Uriah Hall def Anderson Silva via Knockout, Round 4 (1:24)
A very, very slow start to this fight. In the first two minutes we get a leg kick each before Silva opens up a bit more with a head kick. Silva has a leg kick checked by Hall and then decides to come forward with some punches and apply that infamous pressure against the cage. Some decent shots land but nothing that effects Hall before a stalemate in the centre of the octagon again. Two nice jabs from Hall land before Silva charges forward with a three punch combo. Big jab from Hall again keeps Silva away as the round ends. 10-9 Silva.
Another slow round from both fighters as they continue to feel each other out. Silva bouncing around on the outside while Hall is snapping his jab. Both fighters are exchanging leg kicks too but neither man doing any damage whatsoever. Hall seems hesitant to fire anything powerful and Silva seems content to just touch him. Spinning body kick from Hall connects and the two exchange jabs as the round ends. 19-19.
Silva’s footwork is moving him out of Hall’s range constantly, but he isn’t throwing nearly enough to really trouble ‘The Spider’ so far. Still lots of feeling each other out with neither fighter seeming willing to throw hands with any real venom just yet. Hall throws a right hand followed by a spinning body kick but both miss, as Silva misses with an axe kick. Left overhand lands for Silva but Hall is the one moving away on the outside now. Both guys exchange a body kick and then Silva lands a right hand that catches the eye of Hall. He comes forward with pressure now as Hall shows he’s struggling but nothing heavy lands and he recovers. Hall lands a big right hand that drops Silva! He follows up with big ground and pound but Silva grabs a leg and the round ends! Saved by the bell. 29-28 Hall.
Hall comes out more aggressive in the fourth round after the end of the previous round. Silva charged forward with a rushing one-two that completely misses and Hall lands a counter right hand that drops Silva again! He lands some huge ground and pound and the referee waves it off! Big knockout win for Uriah Hall!
After the fun of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a 12 fight card with some interesting fights including a featherweight clash between Bryce Mitchell and Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili in the co-main event.
I will break down each fighters skills and style and give my prediction for each fight, starting with the seven prelim fights.
Last weekend at UFC 254, I got 9/12 picks correct with five perfect picks. Since starting my predictions back in June, my current record stands at 145/222 total picks, with 67 perfect picks in that time. I will look to improve that this week with these picks.
Miles Johns (10-1) vs Kevin Natividad (9-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two very well rounded bantamweights are scheduled to open the card up as Kevin Natividad makes his UFC debut against Miles Johns. ‘Chapo’ won his debut in September last year, a split decision against Cole Smith before losing his last fight when he was mauled by Mario Bautista and eventually knocked out. Natividad was supposed to debut against Brian Kelleher in September but withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19. He comes into this fight on a five-fight win streak including a knockout in his most recent fight in July. Johns has the advantage in boxing and wrestling, so he probably should control where the fight takes place but Natividad has got fantastic power. If Johns employs and sticks to a game-plan to mix it up he should be able to get a decision win, but he needs to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots from a man looking to make an impression. PICK – Miles Johns via Decision
Cortney Casey (9-8) vs Priscilla Cachoeira (9-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Cortney Casey returns for her third appearance in the octagon of 2020, after beating Maria Romero Borella before losing to Gillian Robertson a month later. Cachoeira lost her first three UFC fights, including her debut against the division champion Valentina Shevchenko but finally got herself in the win column with a knockout of Shana Dobson back in February. Casey is a solid all round fighter but has real issues with consistency, not winning back-to-back fights since back in 2016. Cachoeira however is a power puncher and nothing more. She has heavy hands but struggles on the ground and isn’t particularly fast either. Casey has the skillset to nullify her and get a win, but knowing her she’ll make it tougher than it needs to be. PICK – Cortney Casey via Decision
Dustin Jacoby (12-5) vs Justin Ledet (9-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A return to the Octagon for the first time since 2012 for Justin Jacoby as he takes on former heavyweight Justin Ledet. Jacoby was in the UFC previously, but consecutive defeats saw him leave the company without a win. Ledet started at 3-0 in the heavyweight division but then moved down to 205lbs and has been battered ever since. He was dominated by Aleksandar Rakic, KO’d in 15 seconds by Johnny Walker and then beaten convincingly by Aleksa Camur back in January. Jacoby went into kickboxing after leaving Bellator and had lots of success before returning to MMA in 2019. Ledet is a talented boxer but his output is poor and he gets hit far too easily for someone who relies on striking. Jacoby should be able to use his kickboxing skills to control the fight and pick up a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Dustin Jacoby via Decision
Cole Williams (11-2) vs Jason Witt (17-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
This is a fight that in all honesty has no business on a UFC card. Both guys have had decent regional careers but when they entered the UFC, albeit on short notice, were both trounced in no time by specialists of their craft. Williams was submitted in the first round by Claudio Silva back in August, while Witt was knocked out in under a minute by Takashi Sato in June. Both guys are well-rounded but not to a particularly high level and it’s tough to predict who will come out on top. Williams has the slightly sharper striking skills but is also now 36 years old having fought just three times in the last three years. Witt has been much more active with 12 fights since January 2017 and has a decent submission game in his arsenal. It won’t be the most memorable of fights, but I think Witt has enough about him to get another tap out on his record. PICK – Jason Witt via Submission, Round 2
Sean Strickland (20-3) vs Jack Marshman (23-9) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An exciting fight between ‘Tarzan’ Sean Strickland and Wales’ Jack Marshman who steps in on short-notice for Wellington Turman, who tested positive for COVID-19. Strickland has fought some of the best welterweights around, losing to Kamaru Usman and Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos but beating Court McGee and Nordine Taleb but this is his first fight since 2018 and first fight at 185lbs since 2014. Marshman is a powerful striker but has lost four of his last six fights in the UFC, including his last bout against Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC 239. On the feet the fight is close, with Strickland’s reach advantage likely to give him the edge but on the ground it’s as one-sided as can be. Strickland has good submission skills and great wrestling so I think he uses the jab to get in on a takedown and gets a quick submission on his return to the cage. PICK – Sean Strickland via Submission, Round 1
Adrian Yanez (11-3) vs Victor Rodriguez (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
This could be a blowout. Adrian Yanez is arguably the hottest prospect in the 135lbs division, with unbelievable boxing and hand power coming up against a short-notice opponent in Victor Rodriguez who hasn’t got much to show for his record. Yanez demolished his opponent on Dana White’s Contender Series in just 39 seconds and Rodriguez is so easy to hit that this might as well be an exhibition fight to show off Yanez’s skills. A highlight right hand lands in the first round and turns out the lights of ‘Vicious’ early. PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 1
Chris Gruetzmacher (14-3) vs Alexander Hernandez (11-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
This is another fight that seems like a bit of a mismatch on the card as Chris ‘Gritz’ Gruetzmacher takes on Alexander ‘The Great’ Hernandez. Hernandez was one of the top prospects in the division until he was smashed by Donald Cerrone and has since struggled to gain momentum, beating Francisco Trinaldo but then being knocked out by Drew Dober. ‘Gritz’ has also lost two of his last three, being submitted by Chas Skelly and Davi Ramos in 2017 before winning his last fight against Joe Lauzon in 2018. Hernandez is the better striker, better grappler, more physical fighter and more skilled fighter. Hernandez isn’t really a finisher and ‘Gritz’ has never been knocked out before but so I expect ‘The Great’ to dominate the fight wherever it goes for the full 15 minutes to get himself back in the win column. PICK – Alexander Hernandez via Decision