A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.
Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.
In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.
We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night we move on to the rest of the prelims section of the card.
Virna Jandiroba (17-3) vs Angela Hill (13-11) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A banger at strawweight between two fighters going through rough patches recently. Jandiroba has 1-2 in her last three, beating Kanako Murata via TKO (UFC Vegas 29) in between decision defeats to Mackenzie Dern (UFC 256) and Amanda Ribas (UFC 267). Hill has gone 1-4 in her last five, with a decision win over Ashley Yoder (UFC Vegas 21) sandwiched in the middle of decision defeats to Claudia Gadelha, Michelle Waterson (UFC Vegas 10), Tecia Torres (UFC 265) and Amanda Lemos (UFC Vegas 45).
Jandiroba is a tremendous grappler with some excellent wrestling and nasty ground and pound, while her submission game is top notch having earned her 13 wins in her career. Hill is a striker, with excellent Muay Thai skills and some decent defensive wrestling skills but she regularly leaves fights in the judge’s hands by giving one to take one. This one seems like an unfavourable match up though because her recent performances have seen her struggle against top wrestlers.
Hill could easily have won three of her four recent defeats with different judges, but when you leave it open like that you’re asking for trouble. Jandiroba has had cardio problems in the past and Hill will go strong for the full 15 which could help in the latter rounds, but I expect Jandiroba’s wrestling to be enough to claim at least two rounds and another judge’s decision. PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Decision
Michael Johnson (20-17) vs Alan Patrick (15-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A bit of a retirement bout in the lightweight division here as Michael Johnson takes on Alan Patrick at 155-pounds. Johnson hasn’t won since 2018, losing four in a row, with defeat to Clay Guida most recently at UFC Vegas 18. Patrick is winless in his last three after defeats to Scott Holtzman and Bobby Green, before an accidental eye poke saved him from another defeat to Mason Jones at UFC Vegas 28.
Johnson is a striker, with great power in his hands and nasty body kicks as well as some solid wrestling in his back pocket too. Patrick is a powerful wrestler who wants to use his top game to dominate position , but his wrestling to get the fight there isn’t good. These are two fighters who probably shouldn’t be in the UFC at this point, but here we are.
Patrick just isn’t very good, to put it plainly. If he manages to get the fight to the ground he will have success, but his cardio means he probably has about a round and a half in him before Johnson takes over. Overall, Johnson should be able to stay at range and piece him up on the feet while avoiding the takedowns to secure a win. PICK – Michael Johnson via Decision
Viviane Araujo (10-3) vs Andrea Lee (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun women’s flyweight fight sits as the featured prelim bout in a highly competitive affair. Araujo saw a run of seven wins in eight bouts snapped last time out when Katlyn Chookagian claimed a decision win against her at UFC 262. Lee on the other hand has earned consecutive wins after a run of three defeats in a row, defeating Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 262 via submission before a TKO win against Cynthia Calvillo at UFC Vegas 42.
Araujo is a brilliant athlete, with great on-punch power as well as a gruelling top game from wrestling. Her big undoing however is her cardio, as she tends to only be able to go for two rounds or so before she fades away and rapidly. Lee on the other hand has improved her ground game well, while her striking game stands out among the contenders in the division although she struggles with wrestling defensively.
If the Brazilian has improved on her cardio then she should win this with her aggression and power. But if she hasn’t, it smells like a potential upset in ‘KGB’s favour with her effective striking and pace. The likelihood is that she hasn’t, because it’s always been an issue, so expect Lee to overcome a tough opening round to take over and claim the decision win. PICK – Andrea Lee via Decision
Sean Woodson (8-1) vs Collin Anglin (8-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight bout here between two highly-rated prospects in the division. Woodson bounced back from the first defeat of his career against Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 4 with a decision win over Youssef Zalal at UFC Vegas 28. Anglin suffered defeat last time out when he was KO’d by Melsik Baghdasaryan at UFC Vegas 33 in his debut.
Woodson is a rangy fighter for the division with great boxing skills and much improved wrestling and scrambling abilities in recent bouts. Anglin on the other hand is a fighter with a wrestling background who likes to try and see fights out on the feet. That preference could cost him here, because he has a big advantage when it comes to the grappling and a big disadvantage in the striking.
Anglin is likely to try and wrestle Woodson a lot, but ‘The Sniper’ showed in his last fights that he is good at getting back to his feet and his volume is excellent. Woodson isn’t the most powerful, but he’s quick and I think he’ll be able to counter when Anglin moves in and land enough to earn the victory. PICK – Sean Woodson via Decision
Cynthia Calvillo (9-3-1) vs Andrea Lee (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight fight once again on this card buried on the prelims. Calvillo has lost her last two-in-a-row after dropping a decision to Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 before getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade at UFC 266, while Lee snapped a three-fight losing streak to defeat Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 262 via submission.
Calvillo is a solid wrestler who is still finding her feet in the division, following defeats to two of the top contenders in the weight class. Lee is a striker with good finishing instinct, having stopped seven opponents in the past inside the distance. While Calvillo has started falling in love with her striking in recent fights, the results in those bouts likely means she’s going to go back to what she does best which is bad news for Lee.
Every fighter that has attempted to take Lee down has done so at least once and Calvillo is more than good enough to only need one takedown to keep the fight on the mat. Ultimately, Calvillo secures top control and rides out 15 minutes with ground and pound to get back in the win column. PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision
Thiago Moises (15-5) vs Joel Alvarez (18-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight in this one in a super exciting match-up. Moises was on a three-fight win streak before suffering a submission defeat against Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31 last time out. Alvarez on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, but hasn’t fought since a submission win over Alexander Yakovlev at UFC 254 last year.
Moises is an excellent grappler on the mat with good wrestling and solid kicks in his arsenal to rack up wins over opposition. Alvarez in the other corner is a grappling wizard, with 16 career submission wins including each of his last two. On the feet Moises absolutely has the advantage, because Alvarez tends to try and close the distance and pull guard to work his jiu-jitsu but Moises is a great grappler in his own right.
Alvarez absolutely has the skills and ability to submit Moises on the ground, but he’d need a mistake from Moises in my opinion. Moises is the better wrestler and solid enough on the ground to know all about the traps Alvarez will look to set. Hard strikes and mixing in wrestling should see Moises collect a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Thiago Moises via Decision
Christos Giagos def Sean Soriano via Submission (D’arce Choke), Round 2 (0:59)
Big start to the fight for both guys as Giagos lands a nice right hand to open that wobbles Soriano, who responds with a nice low kick that puts Giagos down to one knee. Giagos shoots for a takedown and pushes the fight against the cage before switching to take the back, before letting it go before they separate. Soriano lands a nice one-two down the middle and Giagos is wobbling again, but he responds with a combo of his own. Soriano’s speed is causing Giagos big problems and he’s landing clean. Giagos goes for a takedown but Soriano sprawls well and denies it. Both guys head hunting with the punches right now, but Soriano mixing in some leg kicks too and it’s serving its purpose so far. Head kick from Soriano lands partially as he slips, before Giagos shoots for a takedown and dumps him down as the round ends. 10-9 Soriano.
Soriano comes out heavy once again and lands a big right hand but Giagos goes for a takedown much earlier this time and gets top position quickly. He flows through the position and Soriano tries to get back up, but Giagos locks up a d’arce choke and sits down on it! It’s super tight and Soriano stops fighting it and goes to sleep! Huge win for Giagos!
Tucker Lutz def Kevin Aguilar via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Fast start from Aguilar as he presses forward and applies pressure early looking to throw big strikes to the head. Lutz looking to slow him down a little with leg kicks and then a clinch, but Aguilar doing well to separate and lands a nice left hook. Lutz now starting to come forward more and he lands a nice left hook of his own clean, before a head kick lands partially too. Aguilar is doing well to be dangerous in the pocket and make Lutz think first, then Lutz lands a huge uppercut. Big takedown from Lutz, with perfect timing and minimal effort, before shifting Aguilar over to the cage and starts landing some decent ground and pound to control the position. Aguilar trying to get back up but Lutz does well to keep him down and end the round on top. 10-9 Lutz.
Aguilar charges forward early once again at the start of the round but Lutz times him well and lands a decent left hook counter once again. Good little flurry while moving forward from Lutz again, but Aguilar looking to counter with a hard right hand. Aguilar looks to grapple against the cage but Lutz is able to stop him in his tracks easily then separates with a knee to the head. Aguilar comes forward and lands a nice body shot, but Lutz is timing everything perfectly so far and shoots in for a takedown to get it with ease again. This time though Aguilar is able to battle back to his feet quickly with his legs, before Lutz starts up on the leg kicks and left hooks once again. A more even round certainly, but still Lutz’s for me. 20-18.
Big left hand lands early from Aguilar and gets the crowd on their feet, before another left hand lands and sends Lutz backwards. Lutz replies with a big uppercut and hook combo that rocks Aguilar, but he keeps coming forward and lands more shots making this ugly and hurting Lutz. Aguilar goes for a one-two but Lutz ducks under it and gets the takedown, shuffling him over to the cage and stacking him. Aguilar explodes back to his feet and eats a couple of punches and a knee for his troubles, but he continues to come forward looking to be aggressive. Aguilar shoots for a takedown of his own but Lutz denies him and they go back to trading. Lutz keeping distance with leg kicks and clinching whenever Aguilar gets close as we enter the final 30 seconds. Big left hand from Aguilar snaps Lutz’s neck back but he keeps calm, keeps moving and should take the win. 29-28 Lutz.
Priscilla Cachoeira def Gina Mazany via Knockout, Round 2 (4:51)
Cachoeira comes out of the blocks very aggressive, right hand loaded looking for a power strike but Mazany nice and busy early with her jab and a small flurry. Mazany clinches up and is able to trip Cachoeira down to the top position and while Cachoeira gets up quickly, she’s immediately brought back down to the mat. Mazany starts landing some nice ground and pound as she controls the position, before Cachoeira eventually gets back up and starts landing some nice right hands. Mazany ducks under and gets another takedown to control the rest of the round from top position with ground and pound. 10-9 Mazany, easily.
Immediate takedown at the start of the round for Mazany has them in exactly the same position that they ended the first round in, with top control and suffocating pressure. Cachoeira looks to get back to her feet but Mazany transitions and takes the back, before Cachoeira rolls back onto her back to go into full guard again. More control from Mazany on top as she lands a couple of big elbows. The referee pauses the fight after she fails to advance position and stands them up and now Cachoeira is walking Mazany down and has thrown some big punches. Huge right hands landing from Cachoeira and Mazany is exhausted and hurt! Mazany looking for the takedowns but can’t get it and Cachoeira is beating her up and the referee steps in! Huge win for Cachoeira!
Andrea Lee def Antonina Shevchenko via Submission (Triangle Armbar), Round 2 (4:52)
Busy start to the fight from Lee early on, looking to land some kicks and a jab early on while Shevchenko is getting her reads and looking to counter. Lee clinches up against the cage and looks for some knees but she gets overpowered by Shevchenko who lands some of her own before the separate. Shevchenko engages in a clinch this time and lands several knees to the body before Lee is able to get away from it. Shevchenko goes for a spinning back first but Lee lands a big head kick and wobbles her, then goes for a takedown and eventually is able to trip her. Lee looks for a big hammer fist that just misses but she’s controlling the top position and sees the round out on top. Close round that Lee probably takes because of the takedown. 10-9.
Lee opens up the round with a huge spinning back elbow that lands flush and rocks Shevchenko! She goes for a finish and Shevchenko grabs her but Lee hip tosses her and ends up in a very dominant position. Big elbows to the head of Shevchenko and she transitions into a mounted triangle and rolls through. She starts throwing elbows off her back with the triangle on and she’s looking for an armbar too but Shevchenko is just about surviving. Huge elbows from Lee with the triangle still synched in and she finally is able to extend the arm of Shevchenko and gets the tap right at the end of the round! Huge win!
Jordan Wright def Jamie Pickett via Knockout, Round 1 (1:04)
Pickett opens the round with a big body kick and charges in for a takedown. Wright stays standing and starts throwing some big elbows to the side of the head and Pickett is hurt! Wright lands some big knees and sends Pickett stumbling as he swings a big right hand. Wright holds on to Pickett in a clinch and throws a big knee up the middle that drops him! He starts landing some huge ground and pound and the referee steps in to end if mercifully! Huge win for Wright! What a performance.
Lando Vannata def Mike Grundy via Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)
A very tactical start from both guys as Vannata bounces around on the outside throwing feints and leg kicks while Grundy is switching stances and staying out of range. Grundy charges in for a takedown but Vannata holds up and both men throw a knee and land in the groin to cause a pause. They resume action and Vannata lands a couple of nice strikes before Grundy gets a single leg takedown. Lots of scrambling as Grundy looks to keep the grip but eventually Vannata is able to escape. Vannata lands a nice knee and then a right hand behind it, before Grundy goes for another takedown but he gets back up to his feet very quickly. Vannata doing well to defend all these takedown attempts and get back up and separated quickly, but not enough action from him so that’s likely a Grundy round. 10-9.
Vannata looks very fluid and relaxed in the second round here as he fakes a knee up the middle, but Grundy fires forward with a takedown attempt once again. Vannata stays standing once again before both men exchange nice, tight right hooks. Vannata pushing forward with pressure and lands a nice kick, before Grundy explodes forward with a big right hand that lands clean. Vannata lands a nice combo that ends with a leg kick before Grundy shoots for yet another takedown. Head kick from Vannata lands and then as he starts faking uppercuts Grundy replies with a big overhand right. Vannata having more success in this round as it ends, 19-19 heading into the third.
Grundy opens up the round with two immediate takedown attempts but Vannata denies them both and fires back with a hard calf kick. Grundy shoots in again but Vannata throws a hard knee that lands flush on the chin but Grundy powers through it and gets Vannata down finally. He starts working to the back but Vannata gets back up, avoiding a submission attempt from Grundy, before picking up and slamming Grundy down to the mat. Grundy explodes back up to his feet and Vannata starts pressuring forward once again as both fighters exchange head kicks. Final minute and both guys still look sharp as Vannata denies yet another takedown attempt to end the round. Great fight, I’ve got it 29-28 Vannata.
Andre Muniz def Jacare Souza via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:59)
Good start to the fight for Jacare as he comes forward landing some nice kicks to the body with a few flurries of strikes before shooting in for a takedown against the cage. Jacare lifts and sweeps the legs to complete the takedown, immediately stepping over and throwing some good ground and pound strikes. Muniz is able to kick his way up and then shoots in for a takedown of his own and lands it. Jacare is able to work his way back up to the feet but Muniz gets him down again and Jacare jumps up again quickly. Muniz jumps on the back and tries to roll over the top, but holds on to Jacare’s arm and sinks in a deep armbar. Jacare’s arm visibly snaps and the referee waves the fight off! Insanity! What a submission win!
Edson Barboza def Shane Burgos via Knockout, Round 3 (1:16)
Big start to the fight from Barboza as he steps forward and lands four huge calf kicks to Burgos that immediately causes problems. Burgos starts firing out his jabs but Barboza is looking to counter them with a heavy leg kick every time. Jab starts to land for Burgos and opens up a cut over the eye of Barboza, who then throws a spinning back kick to the body. Burgos starting to land more and then rips the body big and follows up with a nice left hook too. Barboza throws the uppercut and Burgos replies with a right hand. Barboza spins with a wheel kick and rocks Burgos, then follows up with two or three big right hands! Burgos keeps coming forward though and gets wobbled off a jab. Barboza continues to land the right hook and leg kicks as the round ends. 10-9 Barboza.
Burgos comes forward to apply pressure early in this round but Barboza continues to throw the leg kicks. Burgos goes body, body head while standing and lands nicely. Barboza throws another heavy leg kick and follows it up with a huge left hook, but Burgos keeps coming. Burgos throwing a nice front kick to the body, then follows up with a left hook to the body too. Burgos lands two leg kicks of his own now, before a spinning back kick to the body from Barboza. Burgos throws another calf kick but Barboza responds with a big left hook combo to the body and then the head. Three big body shots from Burgos and then Barboza goes for the wheel kick that just misses as the round ends. What a fight this is. 20-18 Barboza for me, but could be 19-19.
Final round and Burgos is pouring on the pressure now, but Barboza standing with him and throwing those leg kicks once again. Burgos comes forward with the body shots again, and Barboza lands a great body shot before a left hook and overhand right land flush. Both men reset but suddenly Burgos starts to stagger backwards and just falls against the cage! Barboza goes for the finish and the referee ends it quickly! What a fight.
Fast start to the fight for Araujo as she steps forward looking to land hard shots and closing the distance to prevent Chookagian’s kicking game from getting going. A nice left hook from Araujo leaves a mark on the cheek of Chookagian, but she fires back with a nice front kick to the body. Araujo throwing a lot of power into all of her shots and missing wildly so far and Chookagian is starting to get her kicks and jab working. Araujo starting to slow down a bit already and Chookagian lands two nice kicks to the body before Araujo shoots in for a takedown. They clinch up against the cage as Chookagian stuffs it and both ladies trade knees to the body as the round ends. 10-9 Chookagian.
Good start to the round from Chookagian as she seems to have figured out her range now, slipping a couple of Araujo strikes before landing a push kick to the chest that sits Araujo down. Chookagian moving well and throws a body kick but Araujo catches it and puts her on the ground. Araujo gets on top and looks to move into full mount. She looks to synch up a guillotine but Chookagian survives it and eventually is able to get back up to her feet. Chookagian now starts throwing big strikes to an exhausted Araujo as the round starts coming to an end. 19-19. Big final round incoming.
Araujo comes out aggressive in the third, looking for nice hooks but Chookagian showing her range once again and landing nice jabs and body kicks. Araujo still coming forward and looking to cause damage with her hands, but Chookagian’s footwork has been great throughout this fight and she is sticking and moving well. Side kick to the body of Araujo, then she counters Araujo’s right overhand with a left high kick. Araujo goes for a takedown but Chookagian does brilliantly to defend it then lands a huge knee up the middle as they separate. Big right hand lands from Araujo in the final 10 seconds but Chookagian fires back with a flurry of punches and kicks to end the round strong. 29-28 Chookagian for me, but it’s all on how the first round was scored.
Rogerio Bontorin def Matt Schnell via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Pretty slow start to this one as both guys look to go make their reads early on. Schnell takes the centre of the cage and cuts off the centre as Bontorin circles on the outside, with the odd jab and low kick each. Schnell finally strings together a flurry of strikes but Bontorin does well to avoid damage, before landing a big right cross. Left hook and then a jab follows it, before a calf kick puts Schnell down on one knee. Bontorin lands a left hand but Schnell replies with a beautiful right hand then a pull left-hook counter that wobbles Bontorin. Bontorin lands a hard calf kick and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Bontorin.
Right high kick from Schnell opens up the round and lands flush on the nose, before following it up with a nice right hand too. Schnell lands a nice jab, low kick combo but Bontorin replies with another strong leg kick of his own. Bontorin is landing his left hook cleanly at will, but Schnell is still coming and landing some good strikes of his own. Schnell throws a nice four-punch combination before Bontorin replies with a low kick and left hook. Bontorin lunges forward and lands a big left hand that wobbles Schnell and he lands two or three more before missing with a big knee as they separate. Another short flurry from Schnell as the round ends, very close round but it’s probably Bontorin’s again for the more eye-catching strikes.
Both men look fearful of making a mistake to lose this fight as we start the third round. Schnell looking to get his combinations off but Bontorin landing the bigger strikes once again. Bontorin moves forward with a big left, right, left combination that rocks Schnell! He changes levels as Schnell is hurt and gets a takedown and starts landing some big elbows on the ground. Schnell tries his best to get out but Bontorin controls the position and sees the round out on top. 30-27 for me.
Beneil Dariush def Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Very aggressive start to the fight from Dariush as he takes the centre and throws a big left hand early. Ferguson not really throwing anything yet and Dariush closes the distance quickly and shoots in for a takedown against the cage. He locks the hands and dumps him down on the mat and Ferguson immediately starts throwing elbows from the bottom. Dariush starts swinging some heavy ground and pound but nothing really landing. Dariush controlling the position from the top and while there’s not much damage being handed out, he’ll take that round. 10-9 Dariush.
Second round starts in a similar way and Dariush rushes him for a takedown and immediately gets it against the cage. Ferguson looks to synch up a d’arce choke but Dariush stays so calm and eventually pops his head out with no danger. Dariush starts raining down ground and pound again and Ferguson eventually tries to sweep him, but they end up entangled on the ground. Dariush synches in a heel hook super deep and Ferguson is grimacing with pain but he refuses to tap out! Dariush lets it go then moves to control top position for the rest of the round again. 20-18 Dariush.
Third round and Fergusons leg is in bits after the heel hook. Dariush lands a nasty body kick and then shoots in for a takedown once again and gets Ferguson down with a slam. Dariush goes into side control and is just completely controlling the positions. Ferguson is looking for some type of offence from his back but Dariush dominating him from top position into the final 30 seconds. Dariush rains down some ground and pound to end the fight but that is as one-sided a fight as you’ll see. Huge win. 30-27 Dariush.
Charles Oliveira def Michael Chandler via Knockout, Round 2 (0:19)
Fast start to the fight as Oliveira comes out and drops Chandler with a calf kick early. Chandler comes forward and throws a flurry of strikes, with a left hook busting open the eye of Oliveira. Oliveira shoots in for a takedown and Chandler sinks in a deep guillotine! Oliveira manages to escape and then Chandler gives up his back trying to get back up. Oliveira sinks in both hooks and starts working for the rear-naked choke but Chandler works back to his feet with Oliveira on his back and just drops backwards. He explodes out of the body triangle and gets back to his feet, then rocks Oliveira with a huge punch. He starts teeing off on Oliveira and cuts him up but Oliveira survives the round. Crazy! 10-9 Chandler.
Chandler comes out hard in the second round and Oliveira slips a big shot then lands a picture perfect left hook that drops Chandler! Oliveira charges over and starts blitzing Chandler who is in trouble! Oliveira lands another left hook that crumbles Chandler and it’s all over!!! AND NEWWWW!
In the co-main event both Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush will bring the chaos as both men enter a crossroads phase of their career, trying to get to the top but having to cross a top guy on their path.
Last week at UFC Vegas 26 we went 6/9 on an interesting card with one perfect pick to move to 308/482 (63.9%) with 134 perfect picks (43.51%).
We’ll look to improve that record with this 12 fight card and after starting with the early prelims here, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Andrea Lee (11-5) vs Antonina Shevchenko (9-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Both Lee and Shevchenko are good strikers on the feet but Lee is also a very competent wrestler when it’s needed too. Shevchenko’s biggest struggles have come whenever a fighter puts her on her back, with next to zero bottom game in her arsenal. This issue Lee has is that she definitely prefers to stand and trade, but her lack of real power encourages her opponents to come forward through those strikes.
Shevchenko does have a decent top game of her own though and this is a pretty even fight on paper, but because Shevchenko is likely to push forward more the takedown should be there for her moreso and she can grab a decision win. PICK – Antonina Shevchenko via Decision
Jordan Wright (11-1) vs Jamie Pickett (11-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Wright is a great striker, with great kicks and good footwork around the cage while Pickett is a good striker of his own. The problem for Pickett is that he struggles to lead the fight, with not enough volume and pressure going forward and too easily backed up to the cage. Wright will pressure forward and get those kicks going looking to land his big right hand.
Pickett is a pretty durable opponent and will throw back with heat, but Wright has the power advantage and stylistically this bout suits him more. He should be able to back Pickett up against the cage and I think he could land hard and clean to get a stoppage. PICK – Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 2
Lando Vannata (11-5-2) vs Mike Grundy (12-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Vannata is a striker with decent power on his hands, once dropping Tony Ferguson in a fight, but over the years his level has plateaued while everyone else has continued evolving. Grundy is the polar opposite, with takedowns the sole intention in his mind to then get control from top position and dominate fights. Vannata’s only path to victory is to KO Grundy early or avoid takedowns for the entire fight.
With Grundy’s high level of wrestling and good durability on the feet, it’s highly unlikely that happens and Grundy should cruise to a pretty one-sided decision win. PICK – Mike Grundy via Decision
Jacare Souza (26-9) vs Andre Muniz (20-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An absolute banger at middleweight as the veteran Jacare Souza steps back into the octagon to take on the hot prospect Andre Muniz. Souza has lost five of his last seven fights, including his last three in a row which ended in a a KO defeat by Kevin Holland at UFC 256, while Muniz has won six-in-a-row including wins over Antonio Arroyo before a submission win over Bartosz Fabinski.
Jacare is a highly-skilled all-rounder with great striking and brilliant jiu-jitsu, while Muniz is a great judo fighter with brilliant submission skills off his back. Souza was able to hold his own in the grappling with Yoel Romero and Chris Weidman in the past and while he’s not the same fighter anymore he’s still not a pushover. He has a clear power advantage on the feet and if Muniz was able to out-grapple him to get a submission it would be the upset of the year.
Muniz’s only path really is to win the grappling exchanges and control on top, but Souza should be able to use his experience, power and solid grappling to get the win via ground and pound. PICK – Jacare Souza via Knockout, Round 2
Sabina Mazo def Justine Kish via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:57)
Kish comes out to start the round super aggressively, charging in with wild swings and some heavy leg kicks. Mazo uses her reach well to get away and land nice shots of her own, before a big head kick settles the fight down. Kish trying to use speed to get inside and land but Mazo staying calm and eating the leg kicks but landing some jabs. 30 seconds to go and Kish catches a kick and takes the fight to the ground but good defence sees nothing land as the round ends. 10-9 Mazo.
Kish aggressive once again in this second round and the leg kicks are starting to add up now. Mazo looks timid and hesitant to throw shots from range and Kish using her speed well to step in and land well. She seems to be the more powerful of the two but she is struggling with the range to make them really count. As the round goes on Kish seems to be getting stronger while Mazo looks a little lost. 19-19, all to play for in the final round.
Mazo using her reach really well in this round, landing two more big head kicks and the jab very effectively. Kish continuing to push forward with leg kicks and strikes on the inside but Mazo’s reach causing a lot more problems now. Big head kick lands again and Kish is down! Mazo pounces on the back and goes for the rear naked choke and eventually sinks it in for the tap. Huge win for Mazo!
Bryan Barbarena def Anthony Ivy via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
The whole first half of the first round is essentially Anthony Ivy trying to complete his first takedown attempt of the night. Barbarena defends really well against the cage and lands some nothing shots to distract Ivy but manages to stay on his feet throughout. Barbarena then comes forward and lands some nice shots that see Ivy turtle up in a defensive mode, trying to get away. Ivy wants absolutely nothing to do with this stand-up battle and lands a big takedown 30 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Barbarena.
Second round is more of the same as Ivy looks intent on getting a takedown but Barbarena is defending brilliantly and landing nice return shots of his own. Every time he lands Ivy looks hurt, but he then returns fire with a shot of his own. Bam Bam’s cardio looks much better as the round draws to a close and he starts walking Ivy down landing elbows. 20-18 Barbarena.
Final round and Ivy lands a takedown inside the first minute and Barbarena is seen clearly mouthing “sh*t!”. He gets back to his feet quickly and starts landing heavy shots yet again. Every time there’s any type of exchange, Ivy shoots for a takedown quickly and Barbarena defends them mostly. The pattern continues for the rest of the round until the end. 30-27 Bam Bam for me.
A fun start to the round as Turner comes out very aggressive and starts lighting up Weaver early. Lightning quick jabs and crosses bust up the nose of Weaver and Turner looks really sharp. Fight settles down with Turner throwing jabs and Weaver throwing leg kicks before Turner throws a big right hand that drops Weaver! He jumps on him looking to finish but good defending by Weaver gets him back to his feet and he scores a takedown of his own as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Turner.
A slower pace to the second round as both fighters look to use the jab more. Turner is quicker and more powerful than Weaver but Brok is trying hard to stay in this fight. Heading into the final 90 seconds of the round and Turner lands a beautiful right uppercut and right hook combo that drops Weaver! Turner walks off as if the fight is over but the referee doesn’t wave it off so he stands the fight back up. Turner puts Weaver down again, lands some ground and pound and then sinks in a rear naked choke for the win.
Alexandr Romanov def Roque Martinez via Submission (Head & Arm Choke), Round 2 (4:22)
What a crazy round that is. Romanov comes out with a scary offence immediately and goes straight for the takedown. Martinez fights it and gets back up but then Romanov just throws him across the octagon with a german suplex. Huge ground and pound from full mount has the referee looking at stopping the fight but Martinez survives. A straight armbar attempt almost secures a tap but Martinez guts it out and survives the round. 10-8 Romanov.
More of the same in this second round. Romanov gets an early takedown and lands more huge ground and pound strikes. He’s levelled off the pace slightly and not being so gung-ho, but Martinez has absolutely no answers for him. This is heading for another 10-8 round but then Romanov locks up a head and arm choke, squeezes real tight and gets the tap. What a performance.
Kevin Croom def Roosevelt Roberts via Submission (Standing Guillotine), Round 1 (0:31)
WOW! Roberts comes out aggressively but Croom slips a shot, lands a nice straight to the body and then a massive left hook that drops Roberts! He pounces, locks up the neck in a modified guillotine before adjusting the grip for the tap! Amazing!
Sijara Eubanks def Julia Avila via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)
Really fun first round there! Avila came out charged up and started swinging for the fences early and Eubanks engaged with her. They both landed huge bombs and Eubanks was forced to pull out of the firefight and charged forward with a big takedown. Nice battle on the ground and Avila got back to her feet before getting a takedown of her own and doing her own good work on the mat. Fun, competitive round. 10-9 Avila.
Avila comes out strong in the second round again, having a lot of success with her right cross. She goes for a front kick but Eubanks catches it and takes the fight to the ground once again. Good grappling battle on the mat but Eubanks showing her jiu-jitsu credentials and dominating the transitions on the floor. Several submission attempts by Eubanks but Avila defending with everything she has and the round ends with Eubanks landing ground and pound. Could be a 10-8 round for Eubanks. 19-19 for me.
More of the same in round 3 as Avila comes out looking for a war on the feet but Eubanks survives it and then gets the fight down to the ground. Avila scoots towards the fence trying to get up but Eubanks strong on top and controlling the position. A flat third round as Eubanks looks to ride it out and stays safe throughout and takes the win. 29-28.
Billy Quarantillo def Kyle Nelson via Knockout, Round 3 (0:07)
Nelson comes out firing in this one with a big overhand right that catches Quarantillo flush but he eats it well. Nice leg kicks by Billy land but Nelson charges forward with a nice body shot combo into a clinch/takedown attempt. Quarantillo defends it well and after more leg kicks gets a takedown of his own. Nelson gets back to his feet but Quarantillo lands a knee to the groin against the fence which causes a stop in the action. Nelson recovers nice and quickly and the round comes to an end. Close round but I’ve got it 10-9 Billy Q.
Second round is much of the same, but Quarantillo starting to turn the pace up a bit and Nelson is starting to tire a bit. Quarantillo marching forward with more takedown attempts and some big elbows in the clinch against the cage but Nelson is returning fire when he can. Quarantillo turning it on now and pushing forward and ends the round in dominant ground and pound. 20-18 Quarantillo.
Round 3 starts, Quarantillo lands a HUGE right hand and it’s all over. 7 second round. What a punch, great performance from Billy Q.
Bobby Green def Alan Patrick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A fast paced round as Patrick tries to fly into a takedown attempt but Green bounces off the cage and ends up on top. Green lands some nice ground and pound before they get back to the feet and Green lifts and slams him back onto the mat. More ground and pound as Patrick throws up an armbar but Green defends well. Round comes to an end as both men get back to their feet and Green lands a nice right hand that puts Patrick down to one knee. 10-9 Green.
More of the same in round 2 as Green proves too big and too strong for Patrick in every department. The fight stays on the feet for the most part with Green keeping his hands low and staying out of range of Patrick. A nice right hand with 30 seconds to go drops Patrick again and then Green goes for a Thai clinch with knees but Patrick avoids it as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Green, Patrick needs a finish.
Third and final round and Patrick knows he needs a finish. He comes forward looking for a takedown again but Green uses his power to switch positions and slam Patrick down to the mat again. Nice ground and pound keeps the time ticking over but Patrick rolls through and they get back to the feet. Green cruising through the round with his hands down and landing right straights at will but not really pushing for a finish here as the round comes to a close. Should be a comfortable decision for Green.
Ed Herman def Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Kimura), Round 3 (2:41)
An interesting first round between these two as both men use the clinch to their advantage. Rodriguez using his huge reach advantage by throwing out push kicks like jabs to maintain the range, while Herman is using leg kicks to try and close the distance. Rodriguez throwing big knees in the Thai clinch and throwing heavy elbows on the break too. He lands a massive elbow to the face that lands flush and Herman is wobbled but Rodriguez follows up with a knee and ends up clinched so Herman survives the round. 10-9 Rodriguez.
All Rodriguez in the second round here. He continues to use that push kick and elbows but he’s really working the body of Herman a lot with knees in the clinch. Rodriguez avoids a takedown attempt and gets back up to his feet quickly. He lands two big knees to the body that drop Herman but the referee calls time for a groin strike. Replays show it was nowhere near the groin but Herman is milking this and takes several minutes to recover. Fight resumes and then Rodriguez drops him again with more body shots but the buzzer goes. 20-18 but this fight should’ve been over already.
Herman comes out looking for a big takedown and gets it early but Rodriguez gets back to his feet and starts landing big elbows to the side of the head and body. Herman ends up going down due to the strikes and Rodriguez looks to land ground and pound but Herman locks up a kimura out of nowhere for the comeback win! Controversy will ensue.
Roxanne Modfferi def Andrea Lee via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
First round is a wild affair as both women keep up a fast pace and exchange strikes and takedowns. Modafferi has top control for slightly longer throughout the round and lands nice ground and pound to take a close first round. 10-9 Modafferi.
Second round is more of the same but Andrea Lee seems to have her timing down a little bit more in this one. Nice jabs and front kicks as well as crosses and hooks see Lee turn the pace up a bit and score the second round for herself. 19-19.
Third round with all to play for with both women pushing the pace once again. Lee lands nice strikes and kicks once again but Modafferi charges forward and secures a takedown halfway through the round. She secures top position and lands some nice ground and pound that while it isn’t putting Lee in any trouble, it’s scoring her points. The fight comes to an end and Modafferi’s takedown has likely got her the win. 29-28 Modafferi.
Ottman Azaitar def Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 1 (1:33)
Fireworks!!! After an initial minute or so of feints and feeling each other out, Azaitar lands a big one-two combo that wobbles Worthy! He moves in for the kill and lands several heavy shots that drop him. He takes the back and lands big shots on the ground and the referee steps in and waves it off. What a win for Azaitar!
Michelle Waterson def Angela Hill via Split Decision (49-46, 48-47, 47-48)
Intriguing opening round here in the main event as Angela Hill shows her punching prowess with some nice right hands causing huge swelling on the head of Waterson. Waterson trying to use her clinch and kicking game but Hill is crowding her and throwing bombs while denying takedown attempts. Hill more physical and in a five-round fight that could be telling. 10-9 Hill.
Second round and Waterson is stringing some nice combos together. She’s throwing jabs followed by front leg kicks to keep range but also threaten with damage. Hill doing well to eat them and continue to step forward though, landing nice overhand rights and jabs of her own. Waterson moving well but Hill cracks her with a nice hook that seems to stun her, but she sees out the round. 19-19, but close second round.
Third round and Hill goes for a push kick to the body but Waterson catches it and trips her for a takedown. She holds top position well and starts to progress with nice ground and pound. She transitions and tries to take the back but Hill defends really well to avoid a submission attempt but eats some big punches for her troubles. As the buzzer is about to go and Waterson lands some more ground and pound, Hill throws an up-kick to a Waterson’s face while she’s down. Referee gives a stern warning but nothing more. 29-28 Waterson for me.
Fourth round now and Waterson is starting to find her rhythm and land kicks and punches much more frequently. Hill continuing to push forward but the energy is clearly draining and she’s not as crisp and sharp as she was. Waterson lands a nice side kick to the body and then a side kick straight to the chin that stuns Hill. Waterson goes for another takedown but Hill denies her as the round comes to an end. 39-37 Waterson for me but could easily be 38-38 going into the final round.
Final round and it’s all up for grabs. Both women come out and exchange kicks as Hill looks to inject her physicality advantage into the fight by walking forward and throwing big punches, but Waterson continues to use her kicks to keep her range. A really even round into the final minute as Hill throws a big overhand that lands flush onto Waterson’s chin and hurts her but she charges forward with some kicks of her own in response. Both women start exchanging big strikes into the final seconds as the buzzer goes. What a fight. 48-47 Waterson for me but could easily go the other way.
The UFC looks to get back on track with another card at the APEX in Las Vegas this weekend as Michelle Waterson takes on Angela Hill in the main event.
Originally scheduled to be headlined by Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira, that bout was postponed after Glover tested positive for COVID-19. However after last weeks card fell apart at the last minute and ended up with just 7 fights, the UFC are making up for it with a 12 fight card this weekend.
Billy Quarantillo (14-2) vs Kyle Nelson (13-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An interesting bout between two very well rounded fighters in the featherweight division. Billy Quarantillo is a fantastic wrestler with good grappling skills with five submission wins on his record. He’s also a solid striker which shows when he employs his favoured game-plan of a fast pace and grinding strikes into top position. Nelson on the other hand lost his first two UFC fights being stopped by Diego Ferreira and Matt Sayles before finally getting a win against Marco Polo Reyes in 96 seconds with strikes. When Nelson was beaten by Sayles, he was the stronger man physically but his cardio eventually let him down when the pace was picked up and he ended up getting beat. I feel Quarantillo’s pace will do similar to Nelson here and he’s arguably a better wrestler too. While he may not get the finish, he should get the win at least. PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision
Ed Herman (25-14) vs Mike Rodriguez (11-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
After two straight wins for 39 year old Ed Herman, he looks to make it 3 in a row for the first time since 2012 when he takes on ‘Slow’ Mike Rodriguez. Rodriguez won his last fight just a few short weeks ago, knocking out Marcin Prachnio with a vicious elbow and punches in the first round. He’s the far bigger man for the fight, with a 2.5inch height advantage and a 5.5inch reach advantage but he’s also far more powerful and energetic. Herman himself has stopped shooting for takedowns in recent years and now prefers to clinch and land big knees. If Rodriguez chooses to try and steamroll Herman, it’s all on how the elder statesman’s chin holds up. If it does, he will look to use all his experience to drain the energy of Rodriguez and land his own heavy shots. Herman hasn’t beaten anyone still on the UFC roster since 2013 and I don’t think that changes with Rodriguez riding a wave of momentum. PICK – Mike Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1
Andrea Lee (11-4) vs Roxanne Modafferi (24-17) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Roxanne Modafferi has traded wins and losses since May 2017, going 4-4 in the UFC. Her most recent fights saw her beat the hottest of prospects in Maycee Barber, before being well beaten by Lauren Murphy last time out. Andrea Lee has lost her last two bouts via split decision, including her last bout against Lauren Murphy also. Lee is a solid kickboxer with good wrestling takedown defence, something that will come in handy against Modafferi. These two previously fought each other in Lee’s 3rd professional bout, where Modafferi managed to get a decision win. But six years later with the age and experience gap the same, Lee is a much better fighter now. I struggle to predict Modafferi’s fights because she tends to turn up against fighters she shouldn’t and vice versa. Lee is good enough though to avoid Modafferi’s best attempts and land shots of her own to get her a win on the scorecards. PICK – Andrea Lee via Unanimous Decision
Ottman Azaitar (12-0) vs Khama Worthy (16-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
My pick for fight of the night, as two hard hitting knockout artists square off. Ottman Azaitar made his UFC debut just over a year ago with a stunning knockout of Teemu Packalen, forcing the Finnish fighter to faceplant into the mat with one punch. Khama Worthy’s most recent fight was against Luis Pena back in June, where he scored a surprising submission win in the last round with a guillotine. Between them, 23 of their 28 wins have come via stoppage. This will be a straight up war and I can’t see it going the distance. Azaitar has never lost and throws absolute bombs but he’s never fought anyone remotely as good as Khama Worthy. The issue there, is that Worthy has been knocked out five times before and therefore we know he has a limit to the damage he can take. We saw though that he can fight on the ground as well as throw bricks of his own. His experience advantage and the fact that he has fought (and knocked out) fighters better than Azaitar mean I’ll pick Worthy for this, but it could honestly go either way. PICK – Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 2
Michelle Waterson (17-8) vs Angela Hill (12-8) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A late main event change means these two strawweights headline the card as ‘Karate Hottie’ Michelle Waterson looks to bounce back from two straight losses against Angela Hill, who fights for the fourth time in 2020 and fifth time in the last 12 months. Hill was on a three-fight win streak before a controversial split-decision loss to Claudia Gadelha last time out. Waterson’s fighting style goes with her nickname. A karate base with rangey striking skills and good defence takedown and crafty submission skills, while Hill uses her range well and comes with volume and a gritty heart to push limits. Hill has Muay-Thai skills and uses her knees really well on the inside, so Waterson needs to look to take this to the ground. Overall, Waterson has always been deemed as undersized for this division and despite being very similar in build to Hill she’s nowhere near as powerful. Hill can grind out a win everywhere and physically is just too strong in my opinion, so I believe she’ll land the bigger shots and secure a decision. PICK – Angela Hill via Unanimous Decision