Tag Archives: Anthony Smith

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very interesting middleweight bout to open the main card as Buckley and Arroyo look to get back into the win column in this one. Buckley had the world at his feet after his mind-blowing KO over Impa Kasanganay and then Jordan Wright at UFC 255, but he got starched with a head kick by Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7. Arroyo came into the UFC very highly-rated, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Andre Muniz and Deron Winn most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Buckley is a pressure fighter with lots of power in both his hands and feet, but he’s only 5ft 10′ and in the middleweight division that’s not the biggest. Arroyo on the other hand is a good striker who has seriously struggled with wrestling since coming to the UFC. Buckley moves a lot and has a considerable athletic advantage, but Arroyo is better when he’s allowed to stand and Buckley can prove to be pretty predictable sometimes with his timing.

With that said, Arroyo hasn’t shown me anything that gets me excited about his future yet. We saw Buckley come back from getting KO’d by Kevin Holland in the past and I think he’ll come back in this one with a bang once again.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Nate Maness (13-1) vs Tony Gravely (21-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135lbs in this one between two highly-rated potential future contenders. Maness has won both his UFC bouts so far, cruising past Jonny Munhoz Jr before a submission win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 15, while Gravely has also won his last two with a split decision over Geraldo De Freitas before a KO over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 24.

Maness is a good all-rounder, with good striking and good wrestling to be able to compete everywhere the fight could possibly go. Gravely on the other hand is a spectacular wrestler with good power in his hands and a nasty finishing instinct if he gets an opponent hurt, shown in his 12 stoppage wins. Gravely is arguably better at everything in this fight, but has had issues in the past with cardio and that’s where he could find himself in trouble.

If he goes too hard, too early then Maness could stay in there and cause him big issues in the later rounds. If he starts too slowly then the same could happen also. If he however paces himself properly, boxes his way to the inside and secures some top control then it’ll be a long night for Maness.
PICK – Tony Gravely via Decision

Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs Christos Giagos (19-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An absolutely brilliant bit of match-making in this one as one highly rated prospect takes on an up and coming veteran at lightweight. Tsarukyan has won three-in-a-row with his most recent win coming against Matt Frevola at UFC 257, and his only defeat since 2015 coming against Islam Makhachev. Giagos has won his last two fights, including a submission win over Sean Soriano at UFC 262 last time out.

Tsarukyan has a brilliant freestyle wrestling background as well as tremendous cardio and a good kickboxing arsenal to go with it. Giagos on the other hand is a tidy kickboxer himself who is also at his best when he’s coming forward and securing takedowns on his opponent. Giagos has had issues with his cardio in the past and Tsarukyan showed some terrific takedown defence against Makhachev, which spells bad things for Giagos.

Unfortunately for Giagos, Tsarukyan seems to have the advantage in the wrestling world and on the feet they’re pretty evenly matched. Both prefer the grappling world, which makes me lean towards the Russian in a decision victory.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision

Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs Mandy Bohm (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun fight in the women’s flyweight division between two big strikers at 125lbs. Lipski is 2-2 in her most recent fights, losing her last two-in-a-row to Antonina Shevchenko and then Montana De La Rosa via knockout at UFC Vegas 28. Bohm on the other hand is a very highly rated undefeated fighter coming over from Bellator, winning her most recent fight via decision just under a year ago.

Lipski’s nickname is ‘Queen of Violence’ for a reason. She is a nasty striker who loves to use knees and elbows and has some good striking and clinch control. Bohm on the other hand has a beautiful jab and will look to drag her opponent down to the ground, take their back and synch up some submissions. Lipski’s defeats all generally have come against top level fighters but she does struggle on the ground and that could be a problem here.

Lipski will without a doubt look to maintain distance, use her kicks and stay away from the mat. But where she loves to clinch up for knees and elbow strikes, she puts herself into danger. With that said, Bohm hasn’t fought anyone at Lipski’s level or with her experience yet. It’s due to be a fascinating fight that could go either way but when it’s grappler vs striker, I tend to lean towards the grappler.
PICK – Mandy Bohm via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1) vs Devin Clark (12-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very intriguing light heavyweight scrap between two ranked fighters among the big men in the company. Cutelaba is winless in his last three fights, getting knocked out twice by Magomed Ankalaev before a split draw against Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25. Clark was beaten in the main event at UFC Vegas 15 by Anthony Smith last time out but won his last two before that.

Cutelaba is a fighter who straight up likes to brawl. He’s a power puncher who throws with reckless abandon and solid technique with some good accuracy and a good chin of his own. Clark on the other hand is a fighter who puts W’s above entertainment with his style, generally trying to wrestle his opponent to the ground and keep them there. Clark is a great wrestler but he’s not among the top fighters in the division, and while Cutelaba isn’t either I think he’s still a level above Clark.

The power in the hands means he will land and likely hurt Clark but it’s whether or not Cutelaba can either prevent the takedowns or stop Clark from holding him down. He has a wrestling background and has shown an ability to be able to do that in the past, so I believe Cutelaba can land and keep it standing enough for a win.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Decision

Anthony Smith (35-16) vs Ryan Spann (19-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight main event sees former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith take on first-time main eventer Ryan Spann. Smith bounced back from a dominant defeat against Aleksandar Rakic to cruise past Devin Clark and then Jimmy Crute in his last bout at UFC 261. Spann on the other hand has won nine of his last ten fights, losing to Johnny Walker before bouncing back with a win via violent knockout against Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 21.

Smith is a former golden gloves boxing champion with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to go with over 50 professional fights worth of experience. Spann is a powerful striker in his own right, but he doesn’t really throw combinations and his gas tank is absolutely a worry in a five-round fight. Smith has a solid chin and is incredibly well-rounded and ultimately here, Spann’s tool box just isn’t that deep.

‘Lionheart’ has multiple paths to victory in this fight and while he may look to be wary early on because of Spann’s power, he will take over and show that there are levels to this mixed martial arts game to secure a third straight victory.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ariane Carnelossi def Liang Na via Knockout, Round 2 (1:28)

Super fast start to this fight as the two women meet in the middle and Na lands a big right hand that drops Carnelossi to one knee immediately! Na pushes for a finish with a clinch and knee, then Na drops for a takedown. They scramble and Na ends up on top landing some nice ground and pound, but Carnelossi is defending quite well considering. Carnelossi gets back to her feet and lands some nice right hands, but Na gets another takedown and ends up on top again. Carnelossi threatens with an armbar from her back but Na defends it and ends up on bottom, but then she throws up an armbar of her own! Carnelossi defends it and ends on top landing big ground and pound strikes. Carnelossi takes the back of Na but is able to avoid. Carnelossi transitions to a mounted triangle during a scramble and lands some big shots on the ground as the round closes out! What a round! 10-9 Carnelossi.

Fast start to the second round again as Na lands a nice head kick and goes for a flurry of punches before a judo throw takes the fight to the ground again. Carnelossi is able to take the back of Na after escaping a headlock and starts raining down ground and pound once again. The referee tells Na to defend herself, she doesn’t and he stops the fight! Hugely impressive win for Carnelossi.

Jeffrey Molina def Aoriqileng via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)

A strong start to the round from Aoriqileng steps forward and starts walking Molina down early, backing him against the cage and cutting off the angles. Molina moving well and trying to counter Aoriqileng but the Chinese fighter staying long and landing well. Nice flurry in the clinch as Aoriqileng looks to take the fight down but Molina is scrambling well and fighting it off. A bit of a stalemate between both men as they trade clinch knees. Both men just miss with the right hand as they separate but the round ends without too much more action. 10-9 Aoriqileng.

Molina trying to keep off the cage at the start of this round but Aoriqileng’s pressure paying off right now as he uses his length well. Molina landing his left jab well as he circles but Aoriqileng is throwing his counter right hand well and it’s landing hard and flush too. Both men throwing bombs in the middle of the octagon now and Molina lands a nice one-two that sits Aoriqileng down! Aoriqileng returns fire and as Molina throws a high kick it gets caught and then he gets dropped with a right hand too! Molina starts to circle and move backwards again and as Aoriqileng throws a lazy kick right at the end of the round, Molina lands a perfect right hand that drops him! Molina goes for the finish but the buzzer goes. 19-19!

Aoriqileng is coming forward in this final round and “fighting angry” according to the commentary team but he’s landing some nice right hands with the extra pressure. Molina moving well though and landing his jab well and great counter shots. Aoriqileng shoots for a takedown but Molina stuffs it really well and keeps the fight standing. Molina starting to throw some great combinations and is throwing in body shots too. Big left hand from Molina forces Aoriqileng to cover up and Molina is starting to pick him apart now. Big elbow as Aoriqileng is starting to slow down and eat these big shots. Big body shot followed up with a clean one-two and Molina is picking him apart as we enter the final minute. Aoriqileng throwing back but just eating so many shots and taking so much damage. Molina bites down and looks for a finish with 10 seconds to go but gets rocked! Aoriqileng goes for a finish but the round ends. 29-28 Molina.

Kazula Vargas def Rongzhu via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)

A much more composed start to this fight from both fighters as Vargas looks to get some offence off early with feints and some low kicks. Vargas is landing really well, striking first and hard as Rongzhu seems to have a case of the nerves. A couple more low kicks lands and sends Rongzhu to the mat. Both guys land nice right hands simultaneously but as Vargas lands first Rongzhu is missing with the majority of his counters as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vargas.

Second round sees Rongzhu come out fast and take the centre and a quick takedown attempt but Vargas defends well. A second attempt sees Vargas synch in a guillotine and it’s tiiiight! Rongzhu fighting the legs(?) of the closed guard from Vargas as he squeezes the choke, but Rongzhu refusing to tap and staying calm. Vargas blowing his load squeezing and eventually Rongzhu escapes and starts landing some ground and pound and riding Vargas. He tries to take his back but Vargas is able to escape it and ends up on top again with top control. Rongzhu eventually gets back to his feet and shoots for another takedown as the round ends, close round. 20-18 Vargas for me though.

Vargas being very patient in this final round as he looks a bit more fatigued and almost expects to be winning the fight currently. Rongzhu flicking out his jab and looking to land a straight right hand, but Vargas keeps coming forward. Rongzhu lands a huge right hand on the chin but Vargas eats it and lands a jab, before Rongzhu lands a big right again on Vargas’ entry that drops him to one knee. Vargas landing his jab well now as Rongzhu starts to walk him down in the final 90 seconds. Vargas keeps circling away and Rongzhu almost chasing him now. Rongzhu shoots for a takedown and after a scramble ends up on top with 10 seconds to go, landing ground and pound. Close round again, 29-28 Vargas in the end for me.

Batgerel Danaa def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 1 (0:50)

Natividad starts quickly, rushing in with a couple of heavy right hands. Danaa throws a front kick that just misses and a right hand that lands on the temple. Natividad charges forward and Danaa steps forward, slips the punch, switches stances and lands a stunning left hook that puts Natividad down! Danaa lands some heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in to end the fight! What a knockout!

PRELIMS

Patrick Sabatini def Tristan Connelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Lots of pressure from Connelly early on as he forces Sabatini backwards and looks to flick out his jab and land a right hand down the pipe. Sabatini moving well and quickly changes direction to land a right hand that drops Connelly! Sabatini moves into top position quickly and starts working to pass guard, landing some short shots and forcing Connelly to defend from the bottom. Sabatini moves into an arm triangle position and Connelly gives up his back immediately, which allows Sabatini to lock in a body triangle and look to work for a rear naked choke. Sabatini starts landing some punches to try and open up the neck for the choke but Connelly is defending the hands really well and manages to see out the round. 10-9 Sabatini.

Connelly comes out in the same way as the first, with lots of pressure to back Sabatini against the cage moving backwards. Sabatini nice and calm though and eventually changes levels and lands a power double leg takedown to end up in top position early on. Sabatini avoids the upkicks of Connelly and moves into side control before looking to step into mount, but ends up in half guard. Sabatini floats through and ends up taking the back and is looking for a submission but Connelly escapes and continues to get dominated. Sabatini takes the back and locks in a body triangle again, then moves for an arm triangle and then takes the back again. Connelly is defending the submissions well but Sabatini is in complete control and sees out the round in control again. 20-18 Sabatini.

Sabatini and Connelly both spend the entire first half of the final round competing in the clinch, exchanging knees and positions against the cage but next to no strikes thrown between them. Connelly throws a solid right hand that lands on the chin, and Sabatini immediately shoots for the takedown but Connelly stuffs it well. Connelly walking Sabatini down as we enter the final minute and lands a nice overhand right, but Sabatini clinches up again to slow the fight down. Connelly gets a nice trip and ends up on top with 30 seconds to go, but Sabatini defends well and grabs a leg to stifle any attacks and the round ends. 29-28 Sabatini but it was a much more lopsided fight than that will suggest.

Brendan Allen def Karl Roberson via Submission (Straight Ankle Lock), Round 1 (4:55)

Fast start to the fight as both men open up with a head kick attempt, throwing heavy shots behind them too. Roberson throwing his left hand well and lands his jab nicely too, before a big right hand cracks Allen. Allen steps forward with a left straight and the two clinch up, which allows Allen to get the takedown against the cage. He’s able to step over into mount while Roberson is upright against the cage, but he keeps his chin tucked and is able to fight off the guillotine attempt. Allen overpowers him and is able to move him across the octagon and starts controlling on top again. Roberson looks to attack a leg to escape, but that allows Allen to grab a leg too. Allen then torques on an ankle lock and leans back and Roberson taps! Beautiful submission win from Allen!

Dwight Grant def Stefan Sekulic via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A conservative start from both fighters as Sekulic takes the centre and pumps out a jab along with some feints, while Grant is looking to get his range with feelers and feints of his own. Sekulic is trying not to rush in and get Grant on the end of his punches but Grant doing well to avoid for the most part. Head kick from Sekulic but Grant returns fire with a heavy low kick. Sekulic coming forward again and leaps in with a flying knee that just grazes Grant. Sekulic shoots in for a takedown in the final 30 seconds and gets it to probably snatch the round. 10-9 Sekulic.

A slow start once again to the second round as they continue to try and establish range and set traps for each other, but not much action in the opening minute or so. Sekulic shoots for a takedown but Grant stuffs it well, then throws a big right hand that wobbles Sekulic! He goes in to land a few more shots but Sekulic threatens with a knee up the middle and then a spinning wheel kick that both just miss and they both reset. Wild left hook from Grant just misses the chin of Sekulic as both guys trade low calf kicks before Sekulic shoots in deep for a takedown again and gets it. Sekulic starts trying to advance but Grant pops up to his feet with 45 seconds left in the round. Sekulic shoots in again and they clinch against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Sekulic.

Grant comes out with a bit more urgency in this round, and gets an early takedown of his own to end up on top. Sekulic looks for a shoulder lock off his back but Grant defends it, lands some big ground and pound strikes then gets up to bring the fight back up to the feet. Sekulic doing really well to stay at distance and gets a takedown of his own, but Grant gets back up quickly. Sekulic is landing nice straight shots with good movement and he lands a big shot that drops Grant! He moves in for a finish and sinks in a deeeeep guillotine attempt and just as Grant is going out the buzzer goes to end the round! 30-27 Sekulic, great performance from him.

Randy Brown def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:50)

A very intense start from both fighters as Brown comes out hard looking to do damage. Cowboy responds with lateral movement and some nice leg kicks that are causing problems early for Brown. Cowboy throws three, four more kicks and Brown drops down to one knee. Brown comes forward again and clips him with a left before he lands a BOMB of a right hand to drop Oliveira! Brown goes for the kill with ground and pound but Cowboy starts to grab him and eventually survives. Brown gets to mount and then takes the back of Cowboy who’s fighting the hands, but then Brown gets one arm under the chin. Oliveira fights the other hand to stop a grip but Brown presses his hand against the shoulder of Cowboy and eventually brings Cowboy down to force the tap with a one-handed rear-naked choke! Wow! What a performance!

MAIN CARD

Anthony Smith def Jimmy Crute via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)

Slow start to this one as it takes around a minute for both guys to start engaging, with Crute opting for low kicks and Smith landing nice jabs. Crute’s leg kicks are having an early effect on the movement of Smith so far, but the jab is landing clean and often and has stunned Crute! Smith lands a big, clean right hand and works Crute out. Smith returns a huge leg kick of his own that lands just behind the knee and Crute’s leg gives way completely. Crute shoots for a takedown and ends the round on top but he’s in trouble.

Between rounds the doctor examines Crute and waves the fight off as he can barely walk without it giving way. Crazy ending!

Uriah Hall def Chris Weidman via Knockout (Broken Leg), Round 1 (0:17)

Chris Weidman threw a leg kick and his leg has snapped in half! Oh my God! The literal first kick of the entire fight. Oh my goodness that is horrific. Get well soon Weidman.

******TRIGGER WARNING*****

Valentina Shevchenko def Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Very composed start from both ladies, as Shevchenko flicks a jab and then lands a nice one-two down the middle. Andrade misses with a couple of leg kicks and then Shevchenko closes the distance quickly and gets a takedown! Shevchenko dominating the position as Andrade gets back up and then dragged back down again. Shevchenko just misses with a head kick as they break, but then they clinch up again and Shevchenko trips her. She works for position and ends up on Andrade’s back and sinks an arm under the chin but the angle doesn’t allow the squeeze for a choke. She lets Andrade back up, holds her in place and then drags her down one more time to end the round in top position. 10-9, could argue a 10-8 maybe.

Both women come into the middle to start the round and after a short flurry between them both, Shevchenko overpowers Andrade and slams her to the mat once again. Andrade gets back up and pushes her against the cage but Shevchenko is overpowering Andrade and not allowing her to lift her for a takedown. Shevchenko then once again rag dolls Andrade and trips her down to the mat. Shevchenko quickly moves from side control and into a crucifix position and starts hammering away on Andrade’s face. Andrade trying to defend but Shevchenko turns the punches into elbows and the referee mercifully stops the fight. What a performance!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 1 (1:18)

Nice start from both women as Rose bounces around on the outside while Zhang throws some low kicks. Rose lands a jab and steps out to avoid a big right hand from Zhang. Namajunas fakes a low kick and goes to the chin and Zhang is OUT!! Rose lands three follow up shots and the referee steps in to wave it off! It’s over! AND NEWWWW!

Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Knockout, Round 2 (1:02)

Tense start to the title fight as Usman takes the centre of the cage and looks to land his excellent jab, while Masvidal is throwing some leg kicks. Usman lands a big overhand right flush on the chin but Masvidal shouts in his face after eating it. A few tighter exchanges and Masvidal goes for a flying knee, but Usman catches it and dumps him on his back. Masvidal fights get his full guard and starts throwing elbows from the bottom, but Usman stays strong on top and prevents him from getting back up to his feet too quickly but he eventually does. Usman lands a right hand and then a jab but Masvidal responds with a flurry of strikes and a big knee as the round ends. Close round, but 10-9 Usman for me.

Both men standing in the centre, not looking to give up an inch as Masvidal throws a few leg kicks to keep distance. Usman drops his level and throws a huge right straight that knocks Masvidal out cold!!!! Usman follows up with heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in! AND STILLLL!! What a knockout!

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, lets move on to the main card.


Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jimmy Crute (12-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A true veteran vs prospect bout as former title challenger Anthony Smith takes on the highly rated Jimmy Crute. Smith bounced back from consecutive defeats to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Vegas 8 with a triangle-choke submission win over Devin Clark at UFC Vegas 15. Crute on the other hand bounced back from his only career defeat to Misha Cirkunov with stoppage wins over Michal Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Fight Island 6.

Smith is a former golden gloves champion boxer while also possession a Gracie black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Crute is a powerful striker with a very wrestling heavy approach, with aggression and power in everything he does. Smith’s takedown defence is not the greatest at just 51% in his UFC career and if he’s on his back he does sometimes just shell up. Crute is so aggressive he could leave himself open for submissions against a guy who is very good at applying them and finishing but he will surely be aware of that.

Crute will go for takedowns and likely get them, but if the fight does stay on the feet Smith absolutely has the advantage on the feet. Despite that, I can’t look past Crute getting the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Decision

Uriah Hall (17-9) vs Chris Weidman (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch 11 years in the making in the middleweight division as ‘Prime Time’ takes on the former world champion. Hall has won his last three bouts in a row defeating Bevon Lewis and Antonio Carlos Jr before knocking out Anderson Silva at UFC Vegas 12 in the main event. Weidman had lost five of six via knockout prior to his last fight against Omari Akhmedov, which he won via decision at UFC Vegas 6.

Hall is a fearsome striker with incredible techniques and power, but volume is something he has always struggled with throughout his UFC career. Weidman is a power wrestler who has good submissions, but generally he looks to get takedowns and grind his opponent out from top position. Hall isn’t the best when it comes to takedown defence which helps Weidman hugely, but ‘The All-American’ has been knocked senseless so many times recently and Hall is a great counter-striker which just adds up to violence.

Weidman could easily grind out a great win with top control but Hall could just as easily put his lights out with a single shot and looking at their recent history I’m choosing Hall with something spectacular.
PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3

Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) vs Jessica Andrade (21-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The greatest women’s flyweight of all-time takes on the biggest threat to her crown so far as she takes on a former strawweight champion in one of three title fights on this card. Shevchenko has won her last six in a row with three of those coming by finish, although her last bout against Jennifer Maia ended in a judge’s scorecard win. Andrade lost her title to Weili Zhang then lost a rematch to Rose Namajunas at UFC 251 before moving up to 125lbs, defeating Kaitlyn Chookagian via body shots at UFC Fight Island 6.

Shevchenko is arguably the most well rounded women’s fighter around along with Amanda Nunes, with phenomenal striking, clinch work and solid grappling. Andrade however is a powerful wrestler who has incredible power in her punches too. The issues Andrade will have is closing the distance, because Shevchenko is an excellent counter striker and has brilliant footwork to be able to evade it. Andrade is good enough to be able to get in close and land big strikes and threaten takedowns, but from what we’ve seen of both I don’t know if that will be enough to dethrone the flyweight queen.

‘Bullet’ will evade the big slam takedowns, work behind her strikes and eventually land a big counter strike as Andrade starts to fade in the championship rounds.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 4

Weili Zhang (21-1) vs Rose Namajunas (10-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

My pick for fight of the night is the strawweight title fight between China’s Weili Zhang and ‘Thug Rose’ Namajunas. Zhang has won 21 fights in a row, including a knockout win over Jessica Andrade to win the title before one of the greatest fights of all-time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first defence. Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk twice before getting slammed on her head to lose the belt to Andrade, although she got her win back at UFC 251 with a split decision win.

Both these women are incredibly well rounded, with 15 submission wins between them but they also both have great striking too. Zhang is by far the more powerful of the two, while Namajunas is the more technical and arguably has a speed advantage between the two also. Namajunas is physically the bigger girl with a height and reach advantage, but Zhang is so much more physically imposing and powerful. I expect the volume of Zhang will be able to eventually start to wear on Namajunas and the power could close the show early.

Namajunas will need to mix it up brilliantly to come out on top here and I think Zhang is just too good for her right now.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 4

Kamaru Usman (18-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The biggest rematch on the card as the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his second title defence of the year against ‘Gamebred’ Jorge Masvidal. Usman beat Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer and followed that up with a knockout win over former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. Masvidal hasn’t fought since his defeat to Usman last time out.

Usman is an incredible wrestler but has shown in his more recent fights that he is a more than capable striker too. He has one of the best jabs in the company and has shown a durability in his game now that champions almost always have. Masvidal is a brawler with brilliant kickboxing skills and power in his hands, but he is also an excellent grappler in his own right. The issue is, Usman is just better. Masvidal landed some good shots in the first fight and Usman just walked through them and got takedowns relatively easily so it’s hard to see anything but that happening once again.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is promising a finish but Masvidal has only been finished three times in 49 fights prior to this, so I expect the same result as the first fight but in an even more dominant fashion this time around.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision

UFC Vegas 15 Fallout: Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith Not Done Yet

The light heavyweight division can’t get rid of one of their top contenders just yet, after Anthony Smith got a quick and impressive win over Devin Clark in the UFC Vegas 15 main event.

Smith and Clark stepped into the main event slot on a day’s notice, changing their fight to a five-rounder in the process, after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19 forcing his bout with Derrick Lewis to be scrapped.

The extra two rounds never came into play however, after Smith got rocked early on and decided to implement his wrestling and jiu-jitsu game to lock up a triangle choke from his back for a first round submission.

It was Smith’s first win of the year following back-to-back defeats against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, with the former title challenger admitting that he wasn’t sure what he’d do with his future going forward.

The fight against Clark was a way for Smith to measure himself, to see if he still had it and just had bad performances or if he was really done. He said in the post-fight press conference that he was happy with his performance, but it wasn’t more than he expected.

I did to Devin Clark what I’m supposed to do to Devin Clark. I’m not saying that I’m not happy with that win but if anything other than that happened, then we have a problem. I’m not going to be the guy who says ‘I’m next in line’. If I have to stay around the bottom of the rankings for a while and fight my way back up to fight those top five guys then that’s what I’ll do.

When asked what was next, Smith picked out someone who came off an impressive win themselves just last week – Scotsman Paul Craig.

“I think I saw that Paul Craig dropped my name or something, thats a fun match-up. That would be a fun, grappling match up with Paul Craig. I love his style, I could listen to his interviews forever, he seems like a good dude.

As far as a timeline, as long as I have enough time to get ready then I’m good.”

It seems like a sensible route that Smith is taking, just trying to get back into a flow and a rhythm of fighting regularly and winning again. The Teixiera fight he was winning for the first two rounds, so he knows he has the ability but it’s about getting the momentum now.

He is currently ranked sixth, so fighting the No.14 in Paul Craig next is a risk for him but more wins are all he cares about and that’s a positive.

It was a card of not much else in terms of storyline with the main event being cancelled at the last minute but Smith showed he can still deliver at the top of the card with his seventh consecutive main event appearance.

UFC Vegas 15: Blaydes vs Lewis – Main Card Predictions

The heavyweight scene steps to the front of the queue for attention as Curtis Blaydes gets the fight he called for against Derrick Lewis.

The main event is a chance for both men to push towards the front of the queue for a title shot, with both fighters on impressive win streaks.

In the co-main, Anthony Smith looks to get back to winning ways when he takes on Devin Clark in the light-heavyweight division on a relatively below par card.

Last weekend we had an okay showing, with 7/12 correct picks but only two correct picks for the night. This moved our overall picks up to 175/264 (66.29%) with 80 perfect picks (45.71%) since starting our picks in June.

With eleven fights on the card scheduled, lets see what we can rustle up starting with the prelims here.

MAIN CARD

Bill Algeo (13-5) vs Spike Carlyle (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A four fight win streak culminated in Spike Carlyle making it into Dana White’s Contender Series, where he scored an 85 second knockout win as an underdog to get into the UFC. His debut wasn’t as successful though, as he was beaten by Billy Quarantillo back in May. Algeo lost his Contender Series fight before going away and winning again on the regional scene to get into the UFC. He also lost his debut on just 16 days’ notice, in a decision loss to Ricardo Lamas back in August. Carlyle is a great wrestler with excellent top control while Algeo is a striker who gives up takedowns like his life depends on it. While the fight is on the feet, Algeo will have the advantage but he doesn’t have the power to stop Carlyle or the ability to keep the takedowns away and this could get nasty on the ground.
PICK – Spike Carlyle via Knockout, Round 2

Miguel Baeza (9-0) vs Takashi Sato (16-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

After a victorious appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Miguel Baeza has seen his hype levels rise with two stoppage wins against Hector Aldana and then Matt Brown back in May. Takashi Sato KO’d Ben Saunders in his debut back in 2019 but was stopped by Belal Muhammad in September of the same year. He bounced back from that with a 48-second KO win over Jason Witt in June. Both men are heavy hitters with powerful striking, and Baeza loves a chopping leg kick. I can’t imagine this one lasts very long and for me Baeza has the power advantage. That said, he got hit a lot against Matt Brown and if Sato hits him with those shots it could be lights out. With more experience at the top level, Sato gets it done as the underdog.
PICK – Takashi Sato via Knockout, Round 1

Josh Parisian (13-3) vs Parker Porter (10-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A UFC debut for Josh Parisian as the Conteder Series graduate looks to add to his impressive tally of 12 finishes from 13 wins. Parker Porter lost his UFC debut to Chris Daukaus back in August when he was knocked out in the first round, ending a 4-1 run of fights. Parisian is a super strong striker, with good spinning techniques and great power while Porter is your bog standard heavyweight who plants his feet and swings for the fences. Porter is fairly slow and Parisian should be able to walk him down and drop him early for a big knockout win on his debut.
PICK – Josh Parisian via Knockout, Round 1

Anthony Smith (33-16) vs Devin Clark (12-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After losing in his UFC title shot to Jon Jones, Anthony Smith has since gone 1-2 after an impressive submission win against Alexander Gustafsson before being dominated by Glover Teixeira and Alexander Rakic. Devin Clark on the other hand has won three of his last four fights, all by decision including a dominant performance against Alonzo Menifield. Smith struggled with the grappling of Rakic, who is known for his striking more than anything. The size difference troubled Smith greatly and Clark will have a similar advantage. He loves a good clinch battle and should have physical strength advantage. Smith is by far the better striker and has power, but after recent performances it’s hard to think Smith will do well against this style of fight.
PICK – Devin Clark via Decision

Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)*

The ultimate takedown vs stand up battle. Blaydes has the record for most takedowns in heavyweight history, while Lewis has the record for the most knockout wins in heavyweight history. Blaydes is currently on a four-fight win streak, including his most recent dominant decision against Alexander Volkov. Lewis is on a three-fight win streak, including his knockout of Aleksei Oleinik. That Oleinik fight doesn’t bode well for Lewis though. He was taken down and dominated on the ground by the much smaller man and only got back to his feet when the bell went to end the first round. Blaydes will take this to the ground and look to blast him out of there from top position. If Lewis somehow survives the first round, he will need a knockout just like against Oleinik but Blaydes is elite and will take it back to the ground for a dominant win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 1

*The UFC Vegas 15 main event has been cancelled after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19.*

UFC Vegas 8 Fallout: Does Rakic Deserve A Title Shot?

A fun UFC Vegas card this past weekend was headlined by a light heavyweight contender showdown as prospect Aleksandar Rakic dominated former challenger Anthony Smith to a unanimous decision win.

A fight that was expected to be fireworks ended up in a strategic battle as Rakic chopped down his opponent with leg kicks before controlling from the top position on the ground, with neither fighter taking serious damage to anything above the waistline.

As Smith revealed after the fight, it looked like the two men were in different weight classes. Rakic had more power everywhere, meaning Smith was powerless to prevent Rakic from laying on top of him and landing some ground and pound to give the judges an easy decision to make. With Rakic taking the win and surely now entering the Top 5 in the division, talk obviously heads towards that of a title shot for the Austrian.

But is he deserving? Not just yet for me.

Rakic has an impressive record in the UFC, winning five of his six fights, and his only defeat coming to former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in a split-decision. At just 28 years of age, Rakic isn’t even close to his fighting prime yet which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the division. But Saturday night was his first ever main-event and it wasn’t even five rounds.

After a short-notice bump up to main event status, the parties couldn’t agree on a pay-increase for the new spot and thus it was decided to keep it as a three-rounder. That means despite the dominance Rakic showed, he’s still never had to go the full 25 minutes in a fight. He’s never been dragged into deep waters.

It was also Rakic’s first ever opponent inside the Top 5. While the win was obviously very impressive, I don’t think it’s enough to warrant a title shot. Dominick Reyes had to beat Jared Cannonier, Volkan Oezdemir and then Chris Weidman before he received his title shot. Jan Blachowicz will fight Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253, having beaten Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson in his last three bouts.

In a bout scheduled just after that one, Thiago Santos will fight Glover Teixieira. Santos hasn’t fought since his narrow defeat to Jon Jones over a year ago, where he blew out both knees after landing several leg kicks. Prior to that he was on a violent run where he beat Kevin Holland, Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz in a six month period. Glover just dismantled Anthony Smith to put himself back into contention after accumulating a three fight win streak prior to that knockout win.

UFC Fight Night: Smith v Rakic : News Photo

The best option for Rakic in my eyes, is either the loser of the title fight between Reyes and Blachowicz or the loser of the fight between Santos and Teixeira. It may seem weird to set him up against losers of fights, but they would all be the best competition he has ever fought and would act as an indicator of whether or not he’s able to hang at that level consistently.

The winner of the Santos and Teixeira will likely be next in line for a title shot, meaning the loser of both fights will have to work their way back up. With Rakic, it would provide a perfect opportunity for all to show they belong there.

For Smith, talks of a potential move back down to middleweight seem premature. He has done exceptionally well at light heavyweight and one loss against a top prospect shouldn’t detract from the good work he has done. Losses to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira are also nothing to be ashamed of. He may need to reset and build again but at just 32 years old he has plenty of time to do so. He shouldn’t feel the need to rush or cut weight back to 185lbs where the division is stacked. He’d be putting himself at a disadvantage which he clearly doesn’t need considering his most recent performances.

205lbs is lacking star power with Jones’ relinquishing of the title. Rakic could be the next coming of superstardom among the UFC’s big men.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Mallory Martin def Hannah Cifers via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:33)

A slow start to the fight with lots of feints and jabs exploded into life halfway through as Hannah Cifers landed a big one-two down the pipe and knocked Martin down! She rushes in and lands huge ground and pound but Martin refuses to quit. More punches against the cage and the referee is super close to ending it, but Martin shoots for the takedown. Cifers stuffs it and lands more big shots but Martin pulls guard to survive the rest of the round. 10-8 Cifers.

Second round, Martin has recovered and immediately shoots for the takedown and gets it. She lands big ground and pound of her own on Cifers who can’t get out from under her smothering top pressure. She lands big elbows that cut Cifers and force her to turn on to her stomach. Martin immediately sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap. Huge comeback win!

Polyana Viana def Emily Whitmire via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (1:53)

A quick start sees both women land big strikes with the hands, with Whitmire marking Viana’s face up. She goes for a clinch and looks for the takedown and after a scramble ends up on top, but Viana is throwing big elbows from the bottom and moving well to not let Whitmire settle. Viana continues with the elbows and then throws up an armbar out of nowhere, she rolls through and forces Whitmire to verbally tap almost instantly. Beautifully done and another first-round finish for the Brazilian.

Sean Brady def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:47)

Good opening round for both fighters here as both Brady and Aguilera choose to stand for the majority of the round and exchange punches. Brady is landing a nice left hook quite often, which opens up a small cut over the eye of Aguilera but he continues to push forward and pressure. Aguilera lands a nice right hand and that’s the cue for Brady to rush in for a power double leg. He lands a bit of ground and pound in the final 60 seconds before the round ends. 10-9 Brady.

Second round starts with Aguilera looking to land a calf kick and punches but Brady is wise to it and lands a big power double leg takedown again. He’s looking to pass the guard and ties up the neck of Aguilera in doing so. He passes the knee over into mount and after a short scramble sinks in the mounted guillotine and puts Aguilera to sleep. Still undefeated, that was an excellent performance.

Alex Caceres def Austin Springer via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:38)

A very strange fight this one. Both men come forward throwing punches and leg kicks but making their opponent miss a fair amount. Springer throws lots of inside leg kicks but Caceres doesn’t mind too much. Caceres moves forward and lands a big body shot, which makes Springer shoot for the takedown. Caceres stuffs the takedown, moves immediately to the back and throws in a rear naked choke with a body lock too that puts him to sleep. 3 in a row for Bruce Leeroy.

Zak Cummings def Alessio Di Chirico via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

A tame first round between these two who are both throwing wild in the pocket exchanges but nothing much either side of that. Di Chirico lands a big left and right hook but Cummings eats it and continues to walk forward. As the round starts to wind down, the Italian lands a few more big shots that may have wobbled Cummings but overall a more strategic round than anything else. 10-9 Di Chirico.

Another very tactical round between the two fighters but Cummings seems to have been able to make the reads he needs. Di Chirico throwing a lot of the same shots as the first round but this time Cummings isn’t there to be hit, while he’s landing his left hand more often although not crazy powerfully. Nice inside leg kick towards the end of the round from Cummings drops Di Chirico but other than that a very close round. 19-19 for me.

Third round and Di Chirico comes out SWINGING. He’s throwing wide, looping hooks and he connects a few times but Cummings is countering with a straight left that lands flush on the nose. Cummings doing well to manage the distance between the two but lots of respect between both fighters with shadow-boxing and feints. A low blow from Cummings causes a short pause in the fight but as soon as they get back in there Cummings ducks a hook then lands a big left hook of his own. As the buzzer goes Cummings lands a huge head kick to Di Chirico and stumbles back to his corner, just about under his own power. That head kick wins him the fight for me on the scorecards. 29-28 Cummings.

Impa Kasanganay def Maki Pitolo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Really fun first round between these two Contender Series fighters. Pitolo landing nice combos and snappy hooks while Kasanganay is looking for looping overhands that are connecting and causing damage. Pitolo stuffs a clinch attempt well and throws a head kick on the break but misses, before a huge overhand lands flush for Kasanganayand cuts Pitolo over the eye. A razor close first round, but for sheer volume I’d go 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round is a bit slower this time around but it’s more of the same in terms of action. Pitolo landing jabs well and snapping out counter strikes but Kasanganay’s big overhand is landing regularly again. Kasanganay starts upping the volume as the round begins to come to an end and lands a huge elbow off the clinch before a big one-two straight to the chin. Pitolo looks tired and Kasanganay is fresh. 19-19.

Pitolo’s cardio looks drained in this final round as Kasanganay continues to march forward and throw big hooks. Another big overhand right cracks the chin of Pitolo, but Pitolo is struggling to land anything significant in return in this round. Kasanganay seems stronger, fresher and quicker in this round but Pitolo showing an impressive chin just eating the shots. Round comes to an end with both men at a stalemate as Kasanganay will take the decision.

MAIN CARD

Ricardo Lamas def Bill Algeo via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

A fast paced start to this first round as both guys throw big attacks early. Lamas is throwing a lovely front kick to the body and now mixing in head kicks while Algeo is keeping his hands low but throwing punches in bunches and stepping forward. Lots of wild exchanges but Lamas is now throwing a calf kick that is having great success and affecting the mobility of Algeo. A nice elbow at the end of the round for Algeo hurts Lamas but the experienced fighter clinches and holds out for the end of the round. 10-9 Lamas but a very close round.

Second round starts with a fast pace yet again but Lamas looks to slow it down with a takedown. He takes the back quickly but Algeo breaks the grip and scrambles out back to his feet quickly. More wild exchanges from both as Algeo cuts Lamas open with what could be a broken nose. Lamas now desperate for the takedown but Algeo continues to block them and land big strikes. Lamas goes for another takedown but Algeo throws a huge knee up the middle and rocks Lamas, who moves away and looks to avoid. Algeo goes for the takedown but after a scramble the fight goes back to the feet where Lamas has now recovered. Another fantastic round but that’s Algeo’s for me. 19-19.

Algeo starts on the front foot in this third round but Lamas gets an early takedown to take control in this round. He starts landing big ground and pound in an unorthodox crucifix position which cuts up Algeo and forces him into defence mode. Lamas lands big elbows and continues to hold him down in as many ways as possible, with hooks and taking the back into full mount too. Big elbows and huge punches can’t put Algeo away but they secure a 10-8 round for Lamas which should be a 29-27 win.

Alexa Grasso def Ji Yeon Kim via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A slow start to the round as both women look to feel each other out in the early exchanges. Grasso throws out stiff jabs and one-twos while Kim keeps constantly moving and then countering during any exchanges. Kim lands a huge left hook followed by a right overhand that both land but Grasso eats it well and continues to come forward. Another nice shot from Kim followed by a body kick as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Kim.

A much better round for Grasso in the next two rounds as she uses her heavier hands to inflict more damage and outmuscle her opponent. A dominant, professional win.

Neil Magny def Robbie Lawler via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

An interesting opening round between these two welterweights. Lawler comes forward with a nice body shot and then goes for a takedown but Magny stuffs it and reverses the position really well. A nice grappling exchange between the two ends with Magny on top with a neck crank, but Lawler defends it well. A small amount of ground and pound sees him inflict some damage but overall it’s a wrestling match win for Magny. 10-9.

Second round and Lawler comes out aggressive once again and lands a few strikes before Magny goes back to the wrestling that gave him so much success in the first round. He’s being very heavy on top and causing Lawler lots of problems. During transitions on the ground Magny attempts a Twister submission but can’t quite get the position and Lawler lands nice elbows to get out but Magny too strong and dominant in the wrestling department yet again. 20-18.

Lawler comes out all guns blazing in this final round, knowing he needs the finish for a win. He lands a nice right hand that hurts Magny, but the lanky fighter pulls guard and controls the fight from therein. He is just physically too strong for Lawler and able to dominate everywhere. On the feet again and Magny is landing his jabs and front kick to the body at will. Complete dominance and a masterful performance from the Haitian sensation.

Aleksandar Rakic def Anthony Smith via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

A war between two light heavyweights with title aspirations starts out with big leg kick exchanges between them. Rakic is firing them off and Smith is noticeably in pain, before two quickfire kicks land on Smith and he goes down! Rakic gets on top looking for ground and pound but Smith uses his grappling experience to survive well and take minimal damage while on the bottom. 10-9 Rakic but an odd round compared to what we expected.

Second round and Rakic comes out with an immediate leg kick again but Smith walks through it to close the distance. Smith throws a big right cross that catches Rakic flush and hurts him but then shoots in for a takedown, which Rakic uses his physical strength to deny it and ends up on top himself. Much like the first round now, Smith taking minimal damage but is on the bottom and struggling for anything significant. Rakic staying heavy on top as Smith tries to get back to his feet and ends the round dominant against the cage. 20-18 Rakic.

Rakic opens the final round with yet another leg kick and Smith is in agony. He closes the distance and looks for the back of Rakic, but they’re too sweaty and he slips off, ending up on the bottom once again. Half the round to go and Smith gets to his knees but Rakic so heavy on top and landing big knees to the leg and body. Into the final minute and the fight is the same as it’s been throughout with Rakic dominant on the ground. Hugely impressive performance in a fight that didn’t go anything like what was expected. 30-27 Rakic.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Main Card Predictions

A three round main event on top of a decent looking card is what the UFC have put together for the fans this weekend, as they return for yet another Fight Night card at the APEX in Las Vegas.

Anthony β€˜Lionheart’ Smith takes on prospect Aleksandar Rakic in the light-heavyweight division, with all eyes on the top of the division following Jon Jones vacating the belt for a move up to heavyweight.

With 11 fights on the night including a stacked main card considering it’s a Fight Night event, i’ll break down the card and pick my winners for each fight. Last weekend’s card chopped and changed so much between the predictions being written up and the card happening (Thurs-Sat) that we didn’t keep track of the picks. Hopefully no such thing will happen here.

I picked the prelims already, which you can see here.

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs Ion Cutelaba (15-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The first time these two fought each other was one of the strangest fights in UFC history. Cutelaba came out super aggressive and nearly came to blows in the octagon with Ankalaev before the fight even started, before employing a “drunken master” strategy where he acted hurt when getting hit to egg Ankalaev on. It backfired though when the referee stepped in insanely early and handed Ankalaev a TKO win. The fight has been rescheduled three times since but fallen apart due to COVID-19 but is now finally set to happen. Realistically, Ankalaev is the better fighter. Both are strong wrestlers with powerful strikes but the Russian mixes his strikes up better with kicks too and his defence is much better. Cutelaba’s best chance is to hang in there until Ankalaev gets tired, or he lands a big punch.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Lamas (19-8) vs Bill Algeo (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The legend that is Ricardo Lamas was supposed to take on Uriah Hall this week but with that falling apart, it’s UFC debutant Algeo who he’ll come up against instead. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who’s sole aim in every fight is to get the fight to the ground, take his opponents back and strangle them. Lamas is a veteran who knows how to cope against all types of threats, but is on a 1-3 streak currently. He is a range fighter on the feet but if the fight goes to the ground Lamas has some of the best ground and pound in the game. I think it’s likely that this fight ends up with Lamas in top control landing shots with Algeo looking for a sweep and submission. Without a full camp though, ‘The Bully’ should be able to dominate his way to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

Alexa Grasso (11-3) vs Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting bout here between a former strawweight and a former bantamweight. Alexa Grasso is a fantastic boxer who has spent her entire career at 115lbs up to now. She’s struggled in the past against wrestlers and grapplers, but won’t have to worry about that against the bigger opponent in Kim. Both women are strikers first but with Grasso being at her more natural weight class for this fight, I expect her to be able to be quicker and with the more naturally heavy hands she should land the bigger shots throughout. The size discrepancy could potentially be a problem but Kim is likely to suffer in the cardio battle too, so Grasso should be able to get back in the win column.
PICK – Alex Grasso via Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler (28-14) vs Neil Magny (23-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The fight of the night in the co-main event of the night. Robbie Lawler steps in on short-notice to take on Neil Magny after Geoff Neal dropped out injured. Lawler is known for his violent style, in which he steps forward and goes for the kill at all times. He’s not fought since he was dismantled by Colby Covington just over a year ago. Magny is a rangy striker who has won his last two fights against Anthony Rocco Martin and Jingliang Li via decision. He used his footwork well and his karate style to counter strike and avoid any problems. Magny will have a 6 inch reach advantage and therefore will be able to implement his favoured style well, which has me leaning in his favour. Lawler has incredible power and wrestling skills though, so it’s not a sure-fire pick but I’ll go with my head and pick Magny via decision.
PICK – Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Anthony Smith (33-15) vs Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A firework in the light heavyweight division as former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith takes on top prospect ‘Rocket’ in a fight that could determine who the first challenger to the soon-to-be-crowned new champion is. Smith went on a tear through the division beating legends Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans then Volkan Oezdemir before losing his title shot to Jon Jones. He bounced back from that by submitting Alexander Gustafsson in Stockholm but was then dismantled by Glover Teixiera in May. Rakic was on a 12 fight win streak including a violent first-round head-kick knockout of Jimi Manuwa before he was beaten by Oezdemir back in December. Both men are violent strikers with one punch power, but Smith is a talented grappler too which often gets overlooked. This main event is just three rounds, so cardio shouldn’t come into the equation so it’s all about who can land the bigger shots to catch the eye of the judges. It’s unlikely to get to the ground but just in case it does, I’m going with Smith to shut down the prospect and keep himself in the top of the division.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Split Decision