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, we move on to the rest of the prelims now.
Denise Gomes (6-1) vs Loma Lookboonmee (6-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun strawweight scrap up next. Gomes is making her UFC debut on short notice after a successful venture onto the Contender Series last month. Lookboonmee on the other hand is looking to get back on the winning trail after she saw a two-fight win streak snapped by Lupita Godinez back in November last year.
Gomes is a powerful 115-pounder with great aggression and an impressive gas tank, earning four of her career wins via knockout. She marches forward with great pressure and in a war, she almost exclusively manages to land the more eye-catching strikes. Lookboonmee on the other hand a technical striker with excellent wrestling and top game, which allows her to control fights at her own pace.
This one comes down to whether or not Lookboonmee can execute her wrestling when being forced backwards from the pressure of a wrecking ball. If she can’t, then Gomes will look to do as much damage as possible in that short window. If she can then she will dominate this fight on the mat with control and ground and pound. With her experience and the short-notice nature of the fight, I think Lookboonmee gets it done.
PICK – Loma Lookboonmee via Decision
Trevin Giles (14-4) vs Louis Cosce (7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A big welterweight bout comes next between two hard hitters. Giles was on a three-fight win streak before he ran into Dricus Du Plessis and got KO’d at UFC 264, before losing again last time out when Michael Morales knocked him out at UFC 270. Cosce on the other hand has been out nearly two years after getting knocked out in his last fight by Sasha Palatnikov at UFC 255.
Giles was a top prospect before heading off to the police academy. He had phenomenal boxing technique with great combinations and skills on the ground earning him 11 stoppages in his 14 wins, split 6/5 in favour of KO’s. Since returning though he’s lost a lot of that, while his urgency has decreased and his chin has left him. Cosce however is a powerhouse with great striking in his hands and an explosive nature to his style.
His big problem is his cardio though. Cosce really struggles outside of the first six or seven minutes and that’s one area where Giles hasn’t struggled. Despite that, Cosce is aware of it and tends to blitz his opponents early. With Giles being a slow starter, that’s a recipe for “The Monster” to step forward and clip him for an early finish.
PICK – Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 1
Aspen Ladd (9-3) vs Sara McMann (13-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs) A strange bantamweight scrap comes up next. Ladd has lost three of her last four after getting smoked by Germaine De Randamie, and then dropping decisions to Norma Dumont and Raquel Pennington after a KO win over Yana Kunitskaya. McMann on the other hand bounced back from a submission defeat to Julianna Pena at UFC 257 with a decision win over Karol Rosa last time out. Ladd is a terrific wrestler with a fearsome top game and nasty ground and pound. She has struggled making weight in recent fights though, and has been blown away physically in her last two fights. McMann is also a good wrestler, who tends to push opponents against the cage and just grind her on the mat to do more damage than her opponent and get wins. Whoever gets the takedown wins this fight, it’s pretty simple. Ladd has failed to battle back from adversity and her takedown defence is pretty poor, which will give McMann loads of confidence when engaging in wrestling exchanges and scrambles. But if Ladd ends up on top for any reason, she should be able to smash her way past McMann. It won’t be the most entertaining fight of the night, that’s for sure, but with a 14-year age swing in her favour too I think Ladd can get it done.
PICK – Aspen Ladd via Decision
Damon Jackson (21-4-1) vs Pat Sabatini (17-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun featherweight fight and contender for fight of the night here. Jackson is on a three-fight win streak after beating Charles Rosa, Kamuela Kirk and Dan Argueta. Sabatini is on a six-fight win streak himself, with UFC wins over Tristan Connelly (UFC 261), Jamall Emmers, Tucker Lutz and most recently TJ Laramie.
Both of these fighters are absolute geniuses in the grappling department, with fantastic wrestling and nasty submission skills earning them a combined 25 wins via tap out in their careers. Jackson is the bigger guy physically, but who the better wrestler is is definitely up in the air and we’ll find out during this fight.
Usually when two fighters who wrestle come up against each other it turns into a striking battle, but it would be a real shock if that happens here. Both will look to shoot and gain top control, with both fighters capable of finding the finish with their ability from that position. With that said, it’s a straight up hunch. Judging both on them on their UFC performances, I think Sabatini has the edge in that department and because of that he should be able to earn the nod on the scorecards in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Pat Sabatini via Decision