Tag Archives: Anthony Hernandez

UFC Vegas 60: Sandhagen vs Yadong – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas after the wild ride that was UFC 279 for a huge bantamweight main event.

Former title challenger Cory Sandhagen headlines the card against hot prospect Song Yadong, in his first main event and a real step up in competition.

A stacked 14-fight card will see several fights with some good debutants and some impressive prospects a chance to make themselves a name in the UFC.

Last time out at UFC 279 we went 8/13 with three perfect picks for the night to move to 723/1119 (64.61%) with 305 perfect picks (42.19%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that and after starting with the early prelims picks and then moving on to the rest of the prelims picks, we finish up with the main card now.


Anthony Hernandez (9-2) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (14-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A banger at middleweight opens the main card here. Hernandez shocked the world with a submission win over Rodolfo Vieira at UFC 258, before returning with a decision win over Josh Fremd at UFC 273 most recently. Barriault bounced back from a 16 second KO loss to Chidi Njokuani with a submission win over Jordan Wright in his most recent bout.

Hernandez is a technical freak with great wrestling and solid submission skills to go with excellent durability, footwork and decent striking. Barriault alternatively is a powerhouse striker with aggression and durability that tend to make up for his technical flaws. The Canadian tends to attempt to outwork his opponents and grind them out, but that’s unlikely to work in this one.

Barriault has struggled against fighters who pose a consistent takedown threat, and that’s exactly what Hernandez has. He rarely gets tired, can hold his own on the feet and has the wrestling to not allow Barriault a chance to find his rhythm on the feet. Expect relentless takedowns and some decent strikes on the feet to carry “Fluffy” to a win on the cards.
PICK – Anthony Hernandez via Decision

Tanner Boser (20-8-1) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (9-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big boys back in the cage for this one. Boser snapped a two-fight skid when he claimed a KO win over Ovince Saint-Preux in his last fight back in June 2021, while Nascimento suffered a 45 second KO loss to Chris Daukaus before a KO win over Alan Baudot was overturned to a no contest in his last bout in July 2021.

Boser is a talented kickboxer, using solid leg kicks, feints and footwork to set up his huge right hand and keep opponents ticking over rather than standing still. Nascimento is an elite grappler who has fantastic submission skills and nasty ground and pound from the top too. He has finished all nine of his victories, including the overturned result.

Nascimento will look to close the distance and drag this fight to the mat, because on the feet he’s outmatched by Boser. Boser isn’t the best defensive grappler, but he’s very good at avoiding getting into grappling matches with his movement and range management. He should be able to stay on the outside and use his kicks and jab to earn a decision win, but there is a risk of Nascimento blitzing him and dragging him into his world on the floor.
PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision

Joe Pyfer (9-2) vs Alen Amedovski (8-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

“Be like Joe Pyfer,” said Dana White. Now he gets a chance to do it in the UFC after his KO win on the Contender Series earned him a contract back in July. Amedovski has lost his last three in a row, getting submitted in 64 seconds by Joseph Holmes back in May after almost two years out.

Pyfer is a power striker with good boxing combinations and the 25-year-old has got an experienced mind beyond his years. Amedovski on the other hand is a really powerful striker himself, but he lacks technique and timing and it’s a mystery how he’s still on the roster in reality. If we’re being honest, this is a bit of a set-up fight to get Pyfer some hype in the UFC.

He’s the bigger and more powerful fighter and he’s also got decent wrestling in his back pocket, something Amedovski simply won’t be able to cope with. But Pyfer will step forward and go to war, and that leaves him susceptible to getting KO’d. But with more ways to win, an advantage in technique and arguably more power too, I expect him to get the job done in highlight reel fashion.
PICK – Joe Pyfer via Knockout, Round 2



Andre Fili (21-9) vs Bill Algeo (16-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An absolutely brilliant bit of matchmaking in the featherweight decision up next. Fili has just one win in his last five, losing to Bryce Mitchell and getting KO’d by Joanderson Brito in just 41 seconds last time out with a no contest sandwiched between them. Algeo on the other hand is on a two-fight win streak after beating Brito at UFC Vegas 46 and then making Herbert Burns retire mid-round last time out.

Fili is a really exciting striker who has slick boxing and a nice kicking game, while also being a more than competent grappler on the mat too who excels in the scramble. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s always ready for a war and he tends to get involved in striking battles a lot due to his love for Muay Thai. He tends to come forward a lot and that will leave him open to counter shots from “Touchy”.

If he chooses to make this a grappling match he has a far better chance of success, but it won’t be easy because his wrestling has never dominated and Fili is a good defensive wrestler too. With his volume and counters on the feet and his ability to defend takedowns or get back to his feet, expect Fili to get back into the win column in this one.
PICK – Andre Fili via Decision

Chidi Njokuani (22-7) vs Gregory Rodrigues (12-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A really fun middleweight fight takes up the co-main event slot here. Njokuani is on a four-fight win streak, including knockout wins in the UFC over Marc-Andre Barriault and Dusko Todorovic most recently. Rodrigues saw his own four-fight win streak snapped by Armen Petrosyan, but he got back in the win column by KO’ing Julian Marquez most recently.

Njokuani is a powerhouse striker with excellent Muay Thai skills and great experience when it comes to clinch work and grappling defence. Rodrigues is a powerful striker too who tends to walk opponents down and encourage a brawl, but that is a dangerous strategy in this one.

“Bang Bang” is the more technical striker and if he extends his combinations on the feet he could potentially get a finish here. But Rodrigues is capable of switching it up and going for takedowns to make this ugly, which is his best way to win. The problem with that though is that isn’t “Robocop”s usual game plan and it could have an adverse effect on him, so I think Njokuani will be able to claim a decision victory in a tight affair.
PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Decision

Cory Sandhagen (14-4) vs Song Yadong (19-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the best bantamweight fights available right now in a stacked division. Sandhagen suffered back-to-back defeats against TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan (UFC 267) most recently despite stunning performances in both bouts, while Yadong enters on a three-fight win streak after beating Casey Kenny (UFC 265), Julio Arce and most recently Marlon Moraes.

Sandhagen is an incredible striker, with brilliant boxing and kicks as well as explosive attacks like flying knees and superman punches to go with his 5ft 11′ frame. Yadong is a powerful boxer with a more traditional style, with great footwork and decent grappling too that he tends to avoid using. Sandhagen will enjoy this fight because Yadong is often quite static and he often relies on his big right-hand or a short combination to do the damage.

“Sandman” is always happy to go the distance if he needs to, because he’s constantly touching his opponent with good jabs, low kicks and body work. His constant activity is going to be really difficult for Yadong to cope with, and this is comfortably the biggest test of his career. In his first five-rounder, this is a tough task. I expect Sandhagen to wear him out with constant attacks, and while Yadong is powerful I don’t see him putting Sandhagen out with one shot. I think Sandhagen touches him up and puts on a clinic for 25 minutes to claim a win.
PICK – Cory Sandhagen via Decision

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.

Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.

In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.

We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.

Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Julio Arce (17-5) vs Daniel Santos (10-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Arguably one of the fights of the night opens the card this weekend in the bantamweight division. Arce has lost two of his last three, including getting KO’d by Song Yadong in his last bout at UFC Vegas 42, while Santos makes his UFC debut on a two-fight win streak but he hasn’t competed since December 2019.

Arce is a very technical fighter who is no stranger to high-intensity brawls, with excellent kickboxing skills. Santos alternatively is an absolute powerhouse, who has incredible spinning techniques and great knockout power in his hands with wildly unpredictable striking. Arce’s experience and technical edge gives him an advantage but the fact he’s coming off his first ever KO loss and fighting someone who hasn’t fought in over two years leaves us with lots of question marks.

This is a really difficult fight to pick because of those variables, but I lean towards Arce. His technique should see him land well, especially considering Santos’ flimsy defence on occasion. He doesn’t have the sort of grappling to worry Arce too, so I think he lands clean enough to earn a very entertaining judge’s decision.
PICK – Julio Arce via Decision

Piera Rodriguez (7-0) vs Kay Hansen (7-5) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An undefeated prospect against a young and hungry prospect next up in the strawweight division. Rodriguez earned this fight by coming through an winning a decision on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out, while 22-year-old Hansen is currently on a two-fight losing streak after losses to Cory McKenna at UFC Vegas 14 and Jasmine Jasudavicius at UFC 272 in her last outing.

Rodriguez is a boxer with good power in her hands, but she tends to stand quite square and flat footed because of her attack style. That opens up a big window for Hansen to wrestle, which is where she’s at her best, and she can start to work her strong submission game too.

Hansen has only ever been KO’d once before so will be confident that she can eat a shot to get in on her takedowns. There is every chance that Rodriguez can splatter her with a big strike, but if Hansen leans on her wrestling and doesn’t hesitate on her shots she should earn a win here.
PICK – Kay Hansen via Submission, Round 2



Anthony Hernandez (8-2) vs Josh Fremd (9-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An intriguing middleweight bout next between two interesting prospects. Hernandez claimed a big win against Rodolfo Vieira at UFC 258 last time out, earning a stunning submission win against the ‘black belt hunter’. Fremd makes his UFC debut off a two-fight win streak, earning a submission win most recently in February.

Hernandez is a great grappler in his own right and has got decent striking too, but his defence was impressive in the last fight against Vieira. Fremd is a good wrestler who uses steady pressure throughout the 15 minutes to wear his opponents down, but ‘Fluffy’ showed last time out that he isn’t one to crumble under it.

Fremd isn’t a scary strong grappler, so Hernandez won’t be scared to go to the ground if needs be and he has the power on the feet to really hurt Fremd. Ultimately I expect him to clip Fremd early and then wrap up a submission on the ground to earn another win.
PICK – Anthony Hernandez via Submission, Round 1

Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big heavyweight fight up next between a wiley veteran and an interesting prospect for the big men. Oleinik has lost his last three in a row, getting KO’d by Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 6), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 19) and Sergey Spivak most recently at UFC Vegas 29. Vanderaa on the other hand has lost his last two, getting KO’d by Alexandr Romanov and then dropping a decision to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 272.

Oleinik is a terrifying submission artist with a stunning 46 submission wins in his career including 14 ezekiel chokes. He looks to walk through strikes, swinging a wild overhand right before getting hold of you and taking the fight to the ground. Vanderaa on the other hand is a decent boxer who uses calf kicks well, and will have a considerable size advantage in this bout. On the feet Vanderaa will walk forward and pressure, but Oleinik will enjoy that.

The issue for Oleinik here ultimately is the fact he is 44-years-old now and he will be much smaller. If he can get the fight down to the ground then it’s his fight to lose, without a doubt. But Vanderaa will have a big weight advantage and it could be difficult to do. That said, Vanderaa is coming into this bout on just ten days notice, so I think Oleinik does get him down in the first round and ties up a choke for an impressive victory.
PICK – Aleksei Oleinik via Submission, Round 1

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Results (Highlights)

**Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick was cancelled hours before the event after Robertson withdrew due to a non-covid related illness.**

**Jim Miller vs Bobby Greene was cancelled the day before the event due to Greene collapsing following his weight cut.**


EARLY PRELIMS

Gabe Green def Phil Rowe via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the fight as Rowe opens with a leg kick and flicks out some long punches to use his range. Both men exchange leg kicks but Rowe lands a couple of nice right hands. Green looking to go first with his strikes but Rowe using his footwork well to step away. The two clinch up and Green gets a takedown, but Rowe quickly reverses the position and ends up in mount. Rowe looks for a few submissions but Green defends well and eventually gets back up to his feet and goes for a submission of his own. Rowe defends it well and eventually gets back up, with the two clinching against the cage to end the round. 10-9 Rowe.

Fast start to the round for Green as he comes out with a heavy low kick that drops Rowe! He gets on with some ground and pound but Rowe gets up quickly and the two start exchanging heavy strikes. Green throws a body kick but it hits Rowe in the cup and there is a short pause in the fight. The two come back and Green lands a huge right hook that wobbles Rowe! He looks for the kill with big shots against the cage but then accidentally lands another low blow that allows a pause for Rowe to recover. They come out swinging again and Green lands some nice shots before Rowe lands a flying knee and clinches up quickly. They break and meet in the middle and Rowe lands a huge right hand but Green eats it and keeps coming forward. Green throws another heavy leg kick and Rowe drops again, so Green throws some ground and pound until the end of the round. 19-19.

Green lands a big leg kick early in the round and immediately Rowe starts hobbling and limping. Green tries to throw a head kick but Rowe catches it and shoots for the takedown and gets it. Green tries to get up and transitions into a leg lock but doesn’t really know what he’s doing there and as they try to get up again, Rowe trips him and gets another takedown. Green fighting off his back and not really trying to get back to his feet weirdly, so Rowe continues riding him from mount until Green finally gets up with 90 seconds to go. Green throws a big leg kick again that drops Rowe but then he steps in for ground and pound and Rowe is able to clinch up and battle until the end of the round. I think the top control has won this for Rowe, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)

A tactical start to this one with both men flowing between stances, with Gutierrez feinting a lot while Ewell is flicking out right hands. Ewell lands a flush left hand but Gutierrez eats it and the tactical battle continues, with some leg kicks beginning to be thrown. Not much action as we enter the final minute, with Ewell on his bike and circling. Gutierrez rushes in to close the distance and they clinch against the cage, which allows Gutierrez to land a nice knee to the body and he’s opened a cut above Ewell’s eye. We enter the final 10 seconds and Ewell dips for hook and Gutierrez counters with a big head kick that drops him! He charges for the finish but the buzzer may well have saved him. 10-9 Gutierrez.

Ewell still looks a little wobbly as they come out for the second round and Gutierrez is landing some nice leg kicks again that are taking their toll on Ewell’s movement. Ewell is trying to counter Gutierrez’s striking with his range but he’s not landing anything of note. Gutierrez’s lack of volume costing him again at the moment as Ewell continues to move and uses his left jab well to land more frequently. Ewell pushes forward and forces an exchange, catches a kick and gets a takedown with 40 seconds to go in the round. He looks for a heel hook and has it in deep but Gutierrez is able to escape as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Gutierrez comes out strong and is throwing heavy leg kicks again and even gets Ewell to acknowledge the pain. Gutierrez starting to up the pace a little and pushes forward and lands a huge spin kick that Ewell eats. More leg kicks and Ewell is struggling to stand now, so he starts landing some big punches that have Ewell wobbling. More leg kicks from Gutierrez and Ewell is really struggling to move around, but he doesn’t have the power to put Gutierrez away. Ewell looks for a takedown late on but Gutierrez stuffs it and ends the round looking for a submission. Great round for him and that should be a win for Gutierrez.

Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:18)

Quick start to the round from both women as they stand and exchange before Martin grabs for a clinch and Viana pulls guard immediately. Viana starts throwing lots of elbows on the ground and is moving constantly to prevent Martin from holding her down. She throws up a triangle and it’s in tightttt! Martin tries to escape but Viana grabs and arm and starts throwing elbows to the head with the triangle still synched in. Martin is still fighting it and stands up and tries to slam Viana, which just makes the triangle tighter. She refuses to tap and Viana starts attacking the arm, first going for an Americana and then she transitions to a full armbar before she gets the tap. What a performance from the Brazilian!

Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Immediate pressure from Muhammad who walks straight over to Lima and starts pressuring him. He shoots for a takedown against the cage but Lima defends it will and they separate. Nice leg kicks in response from Lima land well, but Muhammad continues to come forward with big, looping hooks and some body work. Straight left hand lands from Muhammad as he fakes the level change and he’s controlling the pace of this fight. Takedown attempt from Muhammad again and he gets it in deep but Lima is able to defend it once more. Lima throws a big right hand that snaps the head back of Muhammad and gets his attention. Muhammad responds with a beautiful combination of jabs, hooks and body shots to take back control and see the round out. 10-9.

Muhammad comes out and once again looks to control the range by backing Lima up against the cage and throwing nice combinations. Lima throwing out some jabs of his own but Muhammad really dominating the striking exchanges early on. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad but easily defended by Lima to keep the fight on the feet. Big overhand right from Muhammad lands but Lima responds with a calf kick that wobbles him! Lima throws two more in the exchanges that follow but Muhammad is trying to grit his teeth and keep going, pushing the pace still. Muhammad’s pace starting to take it’s toll on Lima, who’s breathing heavy, and he shoots in for a takedown which Lima defends again. Round ends with the two clinching against the cage, in what should go Muhammad’s way. 20-18.

Lima opens the round with a leg kick and then a head kick, but Muhammad comes back with some big shots of his own. Muhammad shoots in for a takedown again and manages to take the back while standing, but Lima defends really well against the cage. Muhammad pouring on the pressure now and landing some solid strikes against the cage before shooting for another takedown that gets stuffed. Lima breathing really heavy now and eats a huge right hand but Muhammad just keeps coming forward, landing jabs and one-twos to the face. Lima goes for a single leg takedown but he’s exhausted and Muhammad easily stuffs it and starts pouring on more shots. Muhammad shoots for a takedown again and finally gets it with a minute to go in the fight. Muhammad takes the back but Lima stands with him on top of him still as Muhammad reigns down punches until the end of the round. 30-27, great performance.

Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:53)

An immediate takedown shot from Vieira allows him in deep and he picks Hernandez up and slams him down immediately. He ends up on top and starts pressuring for an arm triangle immediately, then switches to take the back. He looks to crank the neck, but Hernandez turns and allows him into mount before defending an armbar attempt and getting back to the feet. Hernandez pours the pressure on and starts landing bombs and Vieira is hurt! Hernandez is landing huge strikes and now he’s going for a choke but the buzzer goes and saves him! What a round! 10-9 Hernandez.

Second round starts and Hernandez knows that Vieira is out on his feet already. He’s completely exhausted and Vieira is throwing kicks, elbows and hooks looking to take his head off. A huge elbow lands from Hernandez and opens up a massive cut on his face! Vieira is out on his feet and shoots for a takedown but it’s easily defended by Hernandez, who syncs in a guillotine choke and forces Vieira to tap out! Unbelievable!

MAIN CARD

Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 3 (4:17)

No feeling out process in this one as Pitolo comes out and immediately throws a calf kick, a head kick and then a combination of strikes that ends with an uppercut. They clinch up against the cage and Pitolo seems like the stronger man off the bat and eventually gets a takedown. Pitolo completely dominating on the ground and landing some heavy ground and pound as Marquez works his way back up to his knees, before Pitolo looks to drag him back down again. He gets up again and Pitolo just starts grinding him against the cage but Marquez throws him off and then sinks in a guillotine! Pitolo stays standing and is able to fight the hands to break the grip before Marquez lands a heavy right hand to end the round. 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round starts out on the feet and Marquez looking to take the centre and establish a striking battle. He gets the better of the first couple of exchanges and then a kick from Marquez grazes the cup and the fight is paused for a short while. Fight resumes and Marquez comes marching forward again and slips, which allows Pitolo to grab onto his body and start wrestling again. He rag dolls Marquez for a few seconds before a striking exchange and change of levels allows Marquez to go for that guillotine again! It looks like it’s in really tight but Pitolo rolls through and escapes. Some good ground and pound from Marquez but Pitolo explodes up and is able to get on top himself once again. The rest of the round has Pitolo landing solid ground and pound and searching for submissions, 20-18 Pitolo.

Marquez comes out hard in the final round knowing he needs the finish. Lots of heavy strikes from Marquez land hard and Pitolo is looking tired. Body kick lands and Marquez lands big against the cage with a spinning elbow! Pitolo moves away but he’s rocked and shoots for a takedown, which Marquez defends with a guillotine again. Pitolo eventually gets the takedown and moves for a submission but Marquez escapes and starts landing huge strikes again. Big three punch combo rocks Pitolo and then he lands a big knee to the head. Pitolo shoots again but Marquez stuffs it and sinks in a d’arce choke for the win! What a round! Unbelievable!

Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this fight as both fighters meet in the middle of the octagon and exchange before Simon shoots and scores a takedown. He immediately starts throwing big ground and pound strikes and as Kelleher looks to escape he jumps back on him and takes the back. Kelleher has a big cut above his eye as Simon squeezes him and looks to grind him. More ground and pound before Kelleher eventually gets to his feet, with the cut really bothering him. More pressure from Simon, who gets another takedown before Kelleher fights his way back up before the end of the round. 10-9 Simon.

Another fast start for Simon as he comes in quickly with some jabs and lovely uppercut to the body. Kelleher responds with a front kick to the face that snaps Simon’s head back, but he continues to come forward and lands another body shot. Another big front kick to the face lands from Kelleher but Simon eats it and walks forward for a takedown, but Keller is able to get back to his feet quickly. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and check them well, before Simon shoots in for a takedown and gets it – avoiding the guillotine attempt from Kelleher. They clinch against the cage and Simon throws a big spinning elbow on the break that just misses. Fun round, 20-18 Simon.

Bit of a slower start to this one, with Simon happy to circle on the outside as Kelleher comes forward. Some nice upwards elbows from Simon look good before he ducks under an attempted elbow from Kelleher and clinches up. Simon changes levels against the cage and takes him down, with Kelleher looking for a guillotine but Simon gets out easily and starts landing nice ground and pound to the face. Kelleher goes for a kimura from the bottom but Simon defends it by reversing the position and going for his own kimura, which allows Kelleher to scramble back to his feet. Simon keeps him against the cage and takes the back, landing big knees and just dominating the position and then holding his own in the striking for what should be a comfortable win. 30-27 Simon.

Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Heinisch comes out early and quickly and lands a leg kick followed by shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Gastelum quickly gets to his feet and rolls through to end up on top, so Heinisch attacks a kimura. He’s got the arm extended but Gastelum stays calm and is able to escape it. He takes Heinisch down again and ends up in mount, but another kimura attempt allows him to get towards the cage and kick off it to escape. Clinch against the cage and Gastelum changes levels to score takedowns, although he is unable to keep Heinisch down. Both men miss a head kick as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum.

Heinisch looking to land heavy shots early in this second round with wild hooks and cracks Gastelum twice, but he just eats it and walks forward. Flying knee lands clean from Heinisch, but Gastelum catches the leg too and ends up with a takedown. Heinisch gets back to his feet and Gastelum lands a leg kick, then clinches against the cage again. Another shot from Gastelum as he gets a body lock and pushes Heinisch all the way back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Gastelum, but Heinisch trying to make it a dirty fight with more wild exchanges. Wild hook misses and Gastelum shoots and drives to the cage again to end the round, 20-18 Kelvin.

Gastelum starts the round with a lazy shot that is easily defended by Heinisch, who then shoots for his own takedown and gets it before Gastelum scrambles back to his feet quickly. Gastelum using his jab and straight left hand more in this round, as Heinisch goes for a flying knee that gets caught once again and ends up with Gastelum on top of him. Beautiful roll through from Heinisch sees him reverse the position and take Gastelum’s back. He lands some nice ground and pound as he searches for a submission but Gastelum is able to reverse and ends up on top before they get back to the feet and clinch. Looping left hook by Gastelum misses and and Heinisch shoots and gets one last takedown, although Gastelum reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own to end on top. 30-27, he’s back in the win column.

Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight from Grasso as both women throw out a few feeler strikes before clinching up against the cage and coming to a stalemate before separating. Sharp one-two from Grasso lands flush on the chin of Barber and forces her to move in for another clinch position. Nice elbow lands in the clinch from Grasso before Barber throws some nice knees in the clinch. Big elbow and left hand on the break from Barber lands clean but Grasso eats it. Both girls lands huge shots that land clean on each other before they clinch up and see the round out. 10-9 Grasso, but it’s close.

Barber throwing a lot of feints from way out of range that are serving little to no purpose other than wasting energy right now. Short exchange leads to a clinch before a quick separation before both women lands huge right hands at the same time. Barber seems to be rocked a little more than Grasso from it and they clinch up again. Barber lands an elbow on the break before they clinch up once again. Barber separates and throws a straight left hand that lands clean before a right hook follows it up. Grasso ends up on her back and Barber goes hunting for ground and pound, but Grasso transitions with an armbar attempt then switches to a head-and-arm choke before taking the back and ending the round in dominant fashion. 20-18 Grasso.

Barber comes out in the third throwing wild strikes with no real end goal to them as Grasso keeps out of range and looks calm. Grasso eats a right hand and then they clinch against the cage, with Grasso landing big knees to the body. Nice trip by Barber gets her into top position and she lands a huge elbow on the ground. A few more shots and Grasso gets back to her feet. Barber lands a knee in the clinch and keeps throwing big hooks and power punches that have got Grasso wobbling. Another clinch as Barber fails with a takedown attempt, with Barber throwing big elbows from the clinch too. Final 30 seconds and Barber going hell for leather but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the win. 29-28 Grasso.

Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns via Knockout, Round 3 (0:34)

Crazy start to the fight as Burns comes out early and lands a huge right hand that rocks Usman! Burns pours on the pressure early but Usman defends himself with a jab and some composure. Burns goes for a head kick but Usman catches it and sends him to the mat, but then doesn’t follow him down. The next two minutes are spent with Burns on his back tempting Usman to come to the ground, but instead he just kicks the legs and throws body shots. They get back to the feet and Usman lands a stiff jab several times and stuffs a Burns takedown attempt to end the round. Fun stuff! 10-9 either way, but to Usman for me. Just.

Slower start to this round from both fighters, as Burns takes the centre of the octagon again. Usman’s jab still landing nicely, but Burns coming forward with an overhand right that seems to stun Usman whenever it lands. The jab is having a big effect, and Usman throws a big overhand right that lands flush and hurts Burns! He follows up with more hooks and jabs and Burns is wobbling bad. Burns shoots for the takedown but Usman stuffs it and lads another jab that drops Burns. Burns tries to tempt Usman down to the floor again but Usman makes him stand again and sees the round out with his jab. Huge round for Usman! 20-18 Usman.

Third round starts and Usman comes to take the centre early. Big left jab lands clean and drops Burns once again! He lands a huge overhand right that puts Burns’ lights out on the ground and keeps punching as Burns tries to stand up. A few more shots and Herb Dean waves the fight off! Huge knockout win for the Nigerian Nightmare! Wow!

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Prelims Predictions

The first of six UFC title fights in the next six events takes place this weekend as Kamaru Usman finally defends his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two have seen the fight collapse twice before, having originally been scheduled to meet at UFC 251 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Burns out, before injuries to Usman meant their December date didn’t come to fruition either.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.

Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card, starting with the seven prelim fights here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the decision as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior to getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time out against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.

Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Gabe Green (9-3) vs Phil Rowe (7-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

There will be fireworks in this one, as Gabriel Green looks to bounce back from his debut defeat in the UFC against ‘The Fresh Prince’ Phil Rowe.

Green was on a six-fight win streak with six finishes before losing to Daniel Rodriuez via decision in May 2020, while Rowe is currently on a seven-fight win streak after beating Leon Shahbazyan on the Contender Series in 2019. He had several fights fall out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but finally returns here.

Both men are incredibly powerful on the feet and have decent ground games too, although Rowe has the slight edge down there. The likelihood these two will go to war with heavy striking and it is Green who has the power advantage. He will need to get on the inside due to the big reach disadvantage, but don’t be surprised to see it happen.
PICK – Gabriel Green via Knockout, Round 2

PRELIMS

Andre Ewell (17-6) vs Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2) – (Catchweight/140lbs)

A fight that was put together on late notice, Andre Ewell will take on ‘El Guapo’ Chris Gutierrez in a catchweight bout. Ewell won his last fight via split decision against Irwin Rivera back in September, while Gutierrez got a draw against Cody Durden in August.

Ewell was supposed to fight against Cody Stamann last weekend, but a false positive COVID-19 test put an end to that. He was quickly re-booked for this fight with a completely different match up, as Gutierrez is a primary striker. Ewell is also a striker, who stays at range and looks to catch you on the end of his strikes. Gutierrez is a heavy leg kicker and that could have a big say on the outcome of this fight.

With that said, it’s a very even match up but I think Ewell has the striking advantage with the power and speed and he should be able to land more for a close decision win.
PICK – Andre Ewell via Decision

Polyana Viana (11-4) vs Mallory Martin (7-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very interesting fight down at 115lbs as Viana looks to make it consecutive wins for the first time in the UFC when she takes on Martin, looking for her first win streak in the company.

Viana had lost three in a row before getting matched up with Emily Whitmire in August and winning via submission in the first round. Martin made her debut against Virna Jandiroba who absolutely dominated her, before she got a submission win of her own against Hannah Cifers to bounce back on the same card.

Viana is the more powerful striker and has a great ground game from her back, while Martin is a competent striker with a good wrestling game. The submission game of Viana could put her off shooting for the takedowns but if she’s brave enough she should have the wrestling chops for the win.
PICK – Mallory Martin via Decision

Belal Muhammad (17-3) vs Dhiego Lima (17-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A clash between two fighters currently on three-fight win streaks in the welterweight division should be lots of fun. Belal Muhammad has beaten Curtis Millender, Takashi Sato and then Lyman Good in June while Lima’s last fight came in 2019 with a split decision win.

Muhammad’s style is typically a boxing style that leads to takedowns and a wet blanket approach, with dominant top position and wrestling while Lima is a solid striker who has a decent ground game too. This one though is a bit of mismatch.

Muhammad has incredible wrestling and while Lima has the height and reach advantage, it doesn’t mean much when you can’t stay on the feet and stop the takedowns. Muhammad takes Lima down with ease and cruises to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Hot prospect Rodolfo Vieira looks to make it three wins in a row in the UFC and remain unbeaten against ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez.

Vieira is 7-0, with six submission wins including his most recent fight against Saparbek Safarov in March 2020 while Hernandez has lost two of his last three including getting knocked out in 39 seconds back in May against Kevin Holland.

Hernandez got submitted by Markus Perez in his UFC debut back in 2019, and Vieira is clear of Perez when it comes to ground game. He has better takedowns and is much more physical, which begs the question about how Hernandez stops him. The answer is he doesn’t. Hernandez’s striking is better but it means next to nothing considering he’ll probably be on his back rather quickly, and Vieira should be able to dominate to get another submission win in relatively quick fashion.
PICK – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, Round 1