Tag Archives: Aspen Ladd

UFC Vegas 60: Sandhagen vs Yadong – Prelims 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, 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

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie – 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 and after starting with the early prelims picks, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Mickey Gall (7-4) vs Mike Malott (7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout up next as Mickey Gall looks to earn a much needed win for his record. Gall has gone 3-3 in his last six after initially starting off 3-0 in the UFC, with a defeat to Alex Morono last time out at UFC Vegas 44. Malott on the other hand makes his UFC debut after a 39 second victory on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out to earn his contract.

Gall is a brilliant jiu-jitsu practitioner who has been working on his striking in recent years to try and round out his game. Malott alternatively is a powerful striker with quick hands, who has won all of his fights in under two minutes. He’s also an adept grappler himself, but the lack of in-cage experience makes it hard to pick this fight.

Based on what we’ve seen, Malott has got a great chance of getting a big name on his record. But what happens if Gall manages to survive the initial two minute burst? Does Malott have the cardio to go 15 minutes if he needs to? Nobody knows but we can only go on what we’ve already seen from these guys, so I think Gall will survive the initial burst and be able to go for the full fight and edge out a close decision.
PICK – Mickey Gall via Decision

Aspen Ladd (9-2) vs Raquel Pennington (13-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting bantamweight bout between two of the bigger names in the division. Ladd missed weight last time she was due to fight at bantamweight, but then moved up to featherweight on short notice and was beaten by Norma Dumont. Pennington on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, with victories against Marion Reneau, Pannie Kianzad and most recently Macy Chiasson.

Ladd is an aggressive wrestler who has a very active top game, with the ability to finish bouts from that position as the six KO wins in her career show, while Pennington is an absolute grinder who has solid boxing and good clinch work. Ladd’s recent performances have been underwhelming and the weight is a big issue here. She was incredibly hesitant against Dumont and Pennington looks back to her best currently.

If Pennington is able to put the pressure on and make Ladd go backwards then she has a great chance of victory here. If Ladd makes weight easily though she has the wrestling credentials to make this a long night for Pennington. But the weight is a big problem and Pennington is quick enough and active enough to be able to earn a big win here.
PICK – Raquel Pennington via Decision



Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3) vs Marcin Tybura (22-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights assemble! ‘Big Boi’ has alternated wins and losses in his last six, falling to defeats against Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 20) and Curtis Blaydes in his most recent fight at UFC 266. Tybura on the other hand was on a five-fight win streak before running into Alexander Volkov most recently at UFC 267 where he dropped a decision.

Rozenstruik is a former world champion kickboxer who has got incredible one-punch knockout power and solid kicks, while Tybura is a good pressure fighters with decent boxing and a solid array of leg kicks to dip into. This will almost certainly be a striking battle and that means that Rozenstruik will have the advantage. That is, unless Tybura goes into his wrestling well and looks to just drown Rozenstruik with pressure.

There is a big opportunity for Tybura to get takedowns and work his top pressure for 15 minutes to get another big scalp on his resume, but Rozenstruik’s power makes that dangerous. Especially considering Tybura has been KO’d several times in the past. His durability has improved over recent fights, but Rozenstruik is the best striker he’s come up against in a while and the Suriname native should claim a big KO win here.
PICK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Knockout, Round 2

Ian Garry (8-0) vs Darian Weeks (5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two super hot prospects get the featured prelim headline spot in this one. Garry made his UFC debut at UFC 268 and claimed a Conor McGregor-esque knockout in the first round over Jordan Williams, while Weeks suffered defeat to Bryan Barberena in his debut at UFC Vegas 44 on short notice.

Garry is a brilliant striker, with great kicks and really quick counters that have got genuine knockout power. Weeks is a good wrestler, but he really struggled against Barberena to hold him down and get any sort of control so he doesn’t stand much hope of doing that here against Garry. There’s a huge gap in skill on the feet, and Garry is also decent on the ground himself with good defence and good front chokes.

This fight, on paper, looks like a setup fight for Garry’s star to continue to rise. He had more issues against Williams than initially expected, but that was likely debut nerves. Here he has the edge pretty much everywhere, so expect a violent TKO win for the Irishman.
PICK – Ian Garry via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 40: Ladd vs Dumont – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas once again for yet another fight night card, this time headlined by female featherweight Norma Dumont and short-notice replacement Aspen Ladd.

Ladd was pulled from UFC Vegas 38 just two weeks ago after missing the bantamweight limit by one pound, scrapping her fight with Macy Chiasson. But after Holly Holm pulled out of this card with an injury, the UFC called her in up a weight class to fill in for this main event.

Elsewhere on the card the legendary Jim Miller makes a return while two Contender Series alum in Jordan Wright and Julian Marquez meet in a fun middleweight scrap.

Last week at UFC Vegas 39, we went 6/9 with three perfect picks on a rather forgettable card to move us up to 434/679 (63.92%) with 187 perfect picks (43.09%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelim bouts here and the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Julian Marquez (9-2) vs Jordan Wright (12-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Potential fight of the night in this one in the middleweight division between two guys with a 100% finish rate in their careers. Marquez earned a submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 before another submission win over Sam Alvey at UFC Vegas 23. Wright on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Joaquin Buckley at UFC 255 to earn a brilliant first-round win over Jamie Pickett most recently at UFC 262.

Marquez is a very good all-round fighter but he doesn’t seem to excel in any particular path. He’s got good power, very good cardio, decent grappling skills and an ability to go with the flow in each bout. Wright on the other hand is a terrific striker, with explosive power and solid kicks in his arsenal.

This fight will either be incredible explosive with a big finish, or both fighters will be wary of their opponent’s power and scoot around the outside like Thiago Santos vs Johnny Walker did. Either way, I think Marquez has the edge and Wright has been finished before so I lean with ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2

Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun flyweight bout up next on the main card as the highly rated Manon Fiorot returns to take on Mayra Bueno Silva. Fiorot is udnefeated in the UFC and on a seven-fight win streak with KO’s over Victoria Leonardo at UFC Fight Island 8 and Tabatha Ricci at UFC Vegas 28. Silva is 1-1-1 in her last three, with a submission win over Mara Romero Borella before a draw last time out against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Vegas 20.

Fiorot is a brilliant kickboxer with supreme technical quality and plenty of power in her striking, while Silva is an excellent grappler with five submission wins in her career so far. Fiorot’s ground game is relatively untested in the UFC up to this point and Silva is sure to change that statement. The issue she has however is that her takedown game is non-existent. If Silva gets the fight to the ground, she has a huge edge but she’s never had a successful takedown in her UFC career.

If she can overpower Fiorot down to the ground though, she has a real chance to secure the upset. With that said though, Fiorot has a massive edge on the feet and has the technical ability to pick her apart with combinations at range and finish the fight with elbows and knees if she gets into clinches.
PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 3

Jim Miller (32-16) vs Erick Gonzalez (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight out between the grappling expert Miller as he takes on short-notice debutant Gonzalez at 155lbs. Miller has lost three of his last four, dropping decisions to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252 and Joe Solecki at UFC Vegas 23 most recently. Gonzalez is on a two-fight win streak and steps in on two-weeks notice.

Miller is a submission wizard, with 18 wins via tap-out throughout his career but he also has some decent striking to mix in with it too. Gonzalez on the other hand is a striking heavy fighter, with good technical boxing ability and some decent kicks to go with his combinations too. It’s a real clash of styles fight in this one and is also a big void in experience too.

On the ground Miller has the advantage, but Gonzalez is very good at pushing forward with blitzes and his takedown defence is decent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either guy get their hand raised at the end of this one, but the experience and grappling of Miller should see him earn a submission win.
PICK – Jim Miller via Submission, Round 3



Andrei Arlovski (31-20) vs Carlos Felipe (11-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight bout between the past and potential future of the division. Arlovski is a former world champion who was submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19, before bouncing back with a decision win over Chase Sherman at UFC Vegas 24. Felipe is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC, defeating all of Yorgan De Castro, Justin Tafa and Jake Collier by decision at UFC 263 most recently.

Arlovski is a well-rounded striker, with good boxing and some decent wrestling in his back pocket too to try and keep fights standing. Felipe on the other hand is a cardio heavy fighter who uses volume and low kicks to secure wins. Neither of these fighters are the most powerful of strikers, but at heavyweight everyone hits hard. This will likely be stand-up affair and Felipe is deceptively quick with his hands so could catch him with a big strike.

Despite that possibility though, this fight is almost sure to go the distance. Neither guy really goes for the finish too much and Arlovski isn’t fighting like a 42-year-old. But his level has dropped from where he once was and Felipe is always improving, so I think he claims the win.
PICK – Carlos Felipe via Decision

Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Norma Dumont (6-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very weird fight in the main event at featherweight here that was put together on short-notice. Aspen Ladd is moving up to featherweight after missing weight at bantamweight just two weeks ago to step in for the injury Holly Holm to face Dumont. Ladd hasn’t fought since 2019 after tearing her MCL and ACL. Dumont on the other hand has two wins in a row with decisions over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Felicia Spencer.

Ladd is a great wrestler with some excellent control and ground and pound in her arsenal, while Dumont is a very good striker with good speed and power. Ladd is very good at getting the fight down to the ground from the inside and then she just has this ability to hold her opponent in place to unleash some nasty ground strikes, leading to six KO career wins so far.

Dumont’s takedown defence isn’t amazing but on the feet she has the speed to keep range. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the power to put Ladd off coming forward to close the distance and get the takedowns needed. Once there, it’s just about how long Dumont can survive. Sucks to be her, but I don’t think it’ll be that long.
PICK – Aspen Ladd via Knockout, Round 3

UFC setting a bad example with Aspen Ladd main event spot

Weight cutting has long been a topic of discussion in the MMA world, with many disputing just how necessary it is for fighters.

Often you’ll see fighters cutting 20+lbs of weight during fight week in order to make their weight class before pouring the weight back on before they get in the cage, just so that they can have as much of an advantage as possible on fight night.

In recent years, we’ve started to see a change in mentality from fighters though as the sport evolves and fighters become more and more skilled.



Fighters like Michael Chiesa, Henry Cejudo, Dustin Poirier and Israel Adesanya have opted to move up in weight and found great success at their more “natural” weight class, as opposed to killing themselves for a slight edge.

With the women’s weight classes being so light however, the 10lbs space between the divisions tends to leave a few of them in the in-betweener stage.

Take for example Aspen Ladd, the women’s bantamweight contender who has suffered defeat just once in her professional career. Ladd has however struggled with the 135lbs weight limit throughout her UFC tenure.

Her debut was scrapped when she fell ill on the day of the fight owing to a rough weight cut. She then missed weight by 1.8lbs two fights later and the fight was scrapped when Leslie Smith refused to fight at a catchweight.

She then just about made weight against Germaine De Randamie, despite shaking and wincing in pain on the scale. She was cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission but following her 16-second knockout defeat, she was suspended after it was found that she had gained 18% of her weight back between weigh-ins and fight night.

Most recently though, her fight against Macy Chiasson at UFC Vegas 38 was scrapped when Ladd once again was visibly shaky and in pain on the scale as she missed weight by 1lbs. The fight was cancelled when the doctors failed to clear her.

Yet just two weeks later, the 26-year-old finds herself named as the A-side in a main event bout against Norma Dumont at UFC Vegas 40 in the featherweight division.

Now, granted that the bout is up a weight class, but how is it that Ladd is being rewarded with an immediate new date and main event slot so soon after missing weight yet again?

Chiasson will have to wait for a new opponent, have a new fight camp in preparation and continue working her way up the ladder, while her opponent who broke the rules gets an upwards push.

Considering that UFC president Dana White has regularly slated fighters for not making weight as unprofessional, his decision to move Ladd into this spot is odd.

Should she win, the UFC will likely pretend it never even happened and she’ll be pushed as a potential contender to Amanda Nunes’ second belt.

Maybe it’s the timing that makes the entire thing seem off, but the UFC have rewarded someone who couldn’t do their job properly and tried to shortcut their way to success.

Aspen Ladd poses after failing to make weight during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on October 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

She’ll now get her show money that she missed out on previously because she gets a new fight so quickly, a potential win bonus and performance bonus if it goes well and a brand new opportunity to start fresh.

It’s a bad example that the UFC have set and if it continues to happen in the future, don’t be surprised to see even more fighters missing weight because of a lack of consequences.

UFC Vegas 38: Santos vs Walker – Main card predictions

A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.

Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.

Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.

Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here and after starting with the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.


Alexander Hernandez (12-4) vs Mike Breeden (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A short-notice bout at lightweight to open the main card as ‘The Great’ Hernandez takes on Mike Breeden. Hernandez has alternated wins and losses in his last five, with a defeat against Thiago Moises last time out at UFC Vegas 20. Breeden has won his last two outside the UFC, beating Ken Beverley and Nick Compton most recently back in May.

Hernandez is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands, solid kicks and a good, durable chin. Breeden is a good boxer who has great combinations but also with a solid calf kick and someone who is always game to fight. Hernandez is really well-rounded, with his best performances coming when he mixes up clinches and takedowns with his powerful striking.

Breeden is a good fighter in his own merit, but this is a huge step up in competition for him and even moreso on just a week’s notice. He’ll come forward and be game, no doubt, but Hernandez will push the pace and eventually his body work will pay dividends to get him a stoppage win.
PICK – Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 3

Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Macy Chiasson (8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An intriguing fight at the top of the women’s bantamweight division as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson. Ladd is a great striker, who’s only defeat came in just 16 seconds against Germaine De Randamie. She bounced back from that with an impressive KO win over Yana Kunitskaya back in 2019 but hasn’t fought since. Chiasson won TUF 28 and has since gone 4-1 in the UFC proper, with her most recent win coming against Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 22.

Ladd is a brilliant wrestler who has some violent ground and pound and vicious striking on the feet to go with it, while Chiasson is a super well-rounded fighter herself too with an even split of finishes via knockout and submission. Ladd is returning from a torn ACL/MCL injury but while Chiasson has got some good names on her resumé she’s not fought anyone of the calibre of Ladd before.

Ladd is powerful, quick, a great striker and has the advantage with the wrestling too which means she can dictate where this fight goes. Because of that, she’ll only need one takedown per round to control and land some vicious shots and therefore I think she’ll get the win.
PICK – Aspen Ladd via Decision

Misha Cirkunov (15-6) vs Krzysztof Jotko (22-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun middleweight clash between two Europeans in this one. Cirkunov has lost four of his last six bouts, getting KO’d by Ryan Spann in just 71 seconds last time out at UFC Vegas 21. Jotko on the other hand had won three-in-a-row before coming up against Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 25 and getting dominated on the feet.

Cirkunov is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who is the most grapple heavy fighter on this card. He is a brilliant submission artist, with eight of his 15 wins coming via tap out. Jotko on the other hand is a great kickboxer with a terrific amount of power in his strikes, although his ground game is next to non-existent.

It’s a true grappler vs striker bout and I’d be surprised to see it come out of the first round in all honesty. If Cirkunov gets a takedown, he gets a submission win. If Jotko keeps it standing, he blasts the chin and gets a KO. As it goes, I think Cirkunov does get the takedown and locks up a head-and-arm choke for the win.
PICK – Misha Cirkunov via Submission, Round 1

Alex Oliveira (22-10-1) vs Niko Price (14-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night in the welterweight division here. ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira is a veteran of the sport who doesn’t know how to have a boring fight, having lost five of his last seven including his last two against Shavkat Rakhmonov and Randy Brown at UFC 261 most recently. Niko Price is in the same boat in terms of entertainment value, and has also lost two of his last three (the third a draw overturned to a NC) against Vicente Luque and Michel Pereira at UFC 264.

Oliveira is a good boxer with solid wrestling and nasty body kicks, but he’s seen his durability wane in recent years and that will harm him. Price is a powerful puncher who pushes a relentless pace and just straight up loves a war in the cage, willing to give it his all no matter where it goes.

On the feet Price has him outpowered and on the ground Oliveira has the edge, but realistically they’re going to brawl at some point and Price is far more durable which means he’s likely to slam him with a big right hand that puts him into orbit and close the night early.
PICK – Niko Price via Knockout, Round 2

Kevin Holland (21-7) vs Kyle Daukaus (10-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very intriguing fight in the middleweight co-main event here. Holland was the 2020 Fighter of the Year racking up five wins in a row, but 2021 hasn’t been kind to him as he’s been dominated by both Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori most recently at UFC Vegas 23. Daukaus hasn’t had a great UFC run so far, especially in comparison to his brother Chris, with a decision win against Dustin Stoltzfus sandwiched between defeats to Brendan Allen and Phil Hawes most recently at UFC Vegas 26.

Holland is a very powerful striker with great kickboxing and Muay Thai, but he’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on the mat. Daukaus is a grappling heavy fighter who is very heavy handed himself, but he looks to rain those punches down from top control. Daukaus is a good grappler but being unranked, this is a huge step up in competition for him. If he gets a takedown and gets on top then he’ll have success, but on the feet Holland has a huge edge.

Ultimately it’s a stylistically fun match up, but the level between the two fighters should see Holland able to keep the fight standing and slam punches down the pipe to earn himself a way back into the win column.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 3

Thiago Santos (21-9) vs Johnny Walker (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An absolutely wild fight in the 205lbs division makes the main event here. Santos is on a three-fight losing skid after earning his way to a title shot, losing to Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic most recently at UFC 259. Walker on the other hand halted a two-fight losing streak by bouncing back with a brilliant knockout win over Ryan Spann at UFC Vegas 11.

Santos is one of the most terrifying strikers in MMA, with ridiculous power in his hands and really powerful calf kicks and body kicks too. Walker is one of the most erratic fighters on the roster, with scary one-punch knockout power too and some really good clinch techniques too. Santos ripped his knees to shreds against Jones which has seen him stop kicking since his return, with limited movement.

That doesn’t bode well for Santos realistically because of how explosive Walker can be, but I think Santos is slightly more durable and has the faster hands which means he could land first and end the fight early. It could very realistically go the other way, but I lean towards Santos.
PICK – Thiago Santos via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 32: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw – Main card predictions

Arguably the best fight of the year not on a pay-per-view card headlines UFC Vegas 32 this weekend as Cory Sandhagen puts his number one contender status on the line against the returning former champion TJ Dillashaw.

The two were supposed to fight back in May, only for Dillashaw to sustain a cut in training forcing the bout to be postponed. In what should be an incredibly close fight, the winner is likely to get the next title shot against the winner of Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan’s rematch.

Elsewhere on the card, two young female prospects go head-to-head when Miranda Maverick and Maycee Barber square off on the main card in the flyweight division. Knockout sensation Adrian Yanez also returns to the octagon to take on Randy Costa too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 31, we went 7/10 with one perfect pick on the night to move up to 370/576 (64.24%) with 164 perfect picks (44.32%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card and after starting with the early prelims here and finishing off our prelims picks here, we move on to our main card picks here.


Adrian Yanez (13-3) vs Randy Costa (6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger of a scrap at bantamweight as two super hot prospects go head-to-head here. Yanez is 2-0 in the UFC with two stunning knockout wins over Victor Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 12 and then Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 22. Costa has won his last two in the UFC, including a stunning head-kick KO over Journey Newson at UFC Vegas 11.

Yanez has been dubbed the ‘mini Masvidal’ for his brilliant boxing skills and great kicks to the body, while Costa is a fantastic striker himself. Yanez is really good at setting up his kicks to the body and he has genuine knockout power in his hands. Costa on the other hand is a tricky fighter who switches stances, and that could allow Yanez to catch him on the inside.

It’s due to be a phenomenal striking battle and neither will want to give up anything against the other which could see a finish and I think Yanez will edge it, but don’t be surprised if Costa scores the win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2

Miranda Maverick (11-2) vs Maycee Barber (8-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An incredibly fun UFC flyweight fight in this one as two of the hottest prospects in the division. Maverick is on a five-fight win streak and is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Liana Jojua at UFC 254 and Gillian Robertson at UFC 260. Barber on the other hand was looking to become the youngest champion in UFC history before a defeat to Roxanne Modafferi where she tore her ACL, then lost her return against Alexa Grasso at UFC 258.

Maverick and Barber are both excellent strikers with genuine knockout power. Barber is a very solid wrestler who will look to hold her opponent down and slam ground and pound until she separates them from their consciousness. Maverick is really good at throwing in combinations on the feet and using her elbows and kicks well.

It’s a really tight fight and one that could well be the birth of a star and also fight of the night. Both have a path to victory but I think if they both tire, Maverick’s technique may help her out to land the better shots late and eek a close decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Darren Elkins (26-9) vs Darrick Minner (26-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The worst tattoo in the UFC (maybe the world?) returns to the octagon to take on Minner in the featherweight division. Elkins snapped a four-fight win streak last time out with a submission win over Luiz Garagorri at UFC Vegas 13, while Minner has won his last two against TJ Laramie at UFC Vegas 11 and then beating Charles Erosa at UFC Vegas 19.

Elkins is a well rounded fighter who is excellent at firing strikes with volume and pushing the pace. Minner on the other hand is a remarkable submission artist with 22 of his 26 wins coming via tap out. Elkins has some good body kicks and solid wrestling too and his scrambles are solid but Minner is so good on the ground it might not even matter.

‘The Damage’ is 37 now though and past his prime and while he beat Garagorri, that’s not a big teller of where he is right now. Minner on the ground is unreal and this fight will almost certainly go to the ground, so I can’t see how he doesn’t secure a submission once again.
PICK – Darrick Minner via Submission, Round 2

Kyler Phillips (9-1) vs Raulian Paiva (20-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very fun bantamweight banger as ‘The Matrix’ takes on the the decision master that is Paiva. Phillips has won four-in-a-row including all three of his UFC bouts against Gabriel Silva, Cameron Else and most recently Song Yadong at UFC 259. Paiva has won his last two, including his most recent against Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 251.

Phillips is a solid striker on the feet with a background in wrestling to fall on where needed. He’s got good kickboxing and mixes it well with takedowns and makes it really hard to make reads on him for his opponents. Paiva is a good striker in his own right but he is a flyweight moving up and that won’t stand him in good stead here.

Phillips is bigger, stronger, more well rounded and this should be a pretty easy win barring something miraculous happening.
PICK – Kyler Phillips via Decision

Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Macy Chiasson (8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An intriguing fight at the top of the women’s bantamweight division as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson. Ladd is a great striker, who’s only defeat came in just 16 seconds against Germaine De Randamie. She bounced back from that with an impressive KO win over Yana Kunitskaya back in 2019 but hasn’t fought since. Chiasson won TUF 28 and has since gone 4-1 in the UFC proper, with her most recent win coming against Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 22.

Ladd is a brilliant wrestler who has some violent ground and pound and vicious striking on the feet to go with it, while Chiasson is a super well-rounded fighter herself too with an even split of finishes via knockout and submission. Ladd is returning from a torn ACL/MCL injury but while Chiasson has got some good names on her resumé she’s not fought anyone of the calibre of Ladd before.

Ladd is powerful, quick, a great striker and has the advantage with the wrestling too which means she can dictate where this fight goes. Because of that, she’ll only need one takedown per round to control and land some vicious shots and therefore I think she’ll get the win.
PICK – Aspen Ladd via Knockout, Round 2

Cory Sandhagen (14-2) vs TJ Dillashaw (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Arguably the best main event of the year so far for a fight night card, Sandhagen takes on the returning Dillashaw in the headline fight. Sandhagen has won nine of his last 10 fights, including two in a row against Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Island 5 and Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 18. Dillashaw is coming off a two-year suspension for failing a drugs test, after losing in under a minute to Henry Cejudo at flyweight last time out.

Sandhagen is an amazing technical striker, with his last two wins coming via a spinning wheel kick followed by ground and pound and then a flying knee walk-off KO. Dillashaw is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division with excellent wrestling and powerful striking and kicks. Having been out for two years though, at this level, is something that is incredibly tough to overcome.

If Dillashaw can get in and wrestle Sandhagen he has a good chance, but ‘Sandman’ is one of the best at range management in the division and he has been very active while Dillashaw has been away. For that reason, I think he’s able to secure a huge win for his career in a real banger of a fight.
PICK – Cory Sandhagen via Decision

UFC 250 Fallout – What’s Next For Nunes?

Another UFC PPV is done and into the history books as UFC 250 lived up to it’s billing with a highlight filled card.

Double champion Amanda Nunes retained her featherweight belt with a dominant performance over Felicia Spencer, where the two 50-44 scorecards were deeemed generous in Spencer’s favour. A striking masterclass from the Brazilian, who’s now on an 11-fight win streak stretching back to 2014, saw ‘The Lioness’ become the first fighter in history to defend two belts, in two different weight classes, while holding both belts simultaneously.

It means she continues her streak of cleaning out her divisions and it begs the question “who’s next?”

UFC commentators Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Joe Rogan began discussing this during the fifth round of her bout, such was her dominance against Spencer. Dana White said in the post-fight presser that “there is always someone next” and that he had “no interest” in making a trilogy super-fight with 125lbs champ Valentina Shevchenko because Nunes is 2-0 up. So who is really available?

When you go down the rankings of the 135lbs division, there are no stand-out challengers. #1 Germaine De Randamie and #2 Holly Holm have already been beaten recently and convincingly by Nunes. #3 is Aspen Ladd, who has won four from five of her UFC bouts. Three of those were KO/TKO victories, but the first time she stepped up to top level competition she was KO’d in 16 seconds by Germaine De Randamie. With a 9-1 record she’s best placed for a title fight but the expectation would once again be that Nunes storms to victory.

Beyond Ladd, Juliana Pena and Irene Aldana are hovering in the rankings at #4 and #5 but again neither of their CV’s stand up as a firm competitor for Nunes’ belt.

With Amanda Nunes’ revelation that she’s likely to take the rest of the year off to heal up and prepare for parenthood (her partner Nina Ansaroff is due to give birth in September), it may give the UFC a chance to build a new challenger for her.

A mini tournament between Ladd, Pena, Aldana and Ketlen Vieira could be the way forward. Aldana and Vieira fought most recently in December 2019, with Aldana earning a KO victory. Mixing the matches of the tournament up may be a way to bring new eyes to the division too with new matchmaking.

Aspen Ladd vs Irene Aldana would be an interesting battle of striking. Ladd would have to fight down the rankings which could be an issue for the likes of Sean Shelby to convince her, however the promise of a title shot with two back-to-back wins should be enough to do it.

The winner of that fight would then face the winner of Juliana Pena vs Ketlen Vieira in what could become an interesting grappling match. Pena has the advantage on the feet between the two but with Vieira’s priority to take the fight down to the ground it may not matter too much.

The winners fight each other and the UFC bill the “tournament finale” as a big deal, maybe even a co-main event slot on a PPV card to give it more eyes. While the skillset of each fighter won’t change in two fights, the reputation could grow massively. Two back-to-back performances against high level competition also makes them seem like a much more dangerous threat towards Nunes’ crown.

The Lioness right now is overseeing her kingdom with little threat of a real challenge coming her way any time soon. The UFC need to build for the post-Nunes era and this may be the only solution.