Tag Archives: Ben Rothwell

UFC Vegas 42: Holloway vs Rodriguez – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX centre in Las Vegas this week for a banger of a featherweight main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.

Holloway is considered the people’s champion of the division and wants to show the world why he is rightfully considered as the number one contender for the title, while Rodriguez is desperate to finally fulfil his potential after being considered a future champion for years.

It’s a very fun card also including the likes of Ben Rothwell, Cynthia Calvillo, Marc Diakiese, Thiago Moises and Khaos Williams.

Last week at UFC 268 we had a brilliant night, securing 13/14 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 471/730 (64.52%) with 197 perfect picks (41.83%).

We’ll look to improve on that this week and after starting with the early prelims here and finishing off the rest of the prelims here, we’ll finish off the with the main card now.


Song Yadong (17-5-1) vs Julio Arce (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight between two guys on the edge of a ranking. Yadong bounced back from defeat to Kyler Phillips at UFC 259 with a split decision win over Casey Kenney at UFC 265. Arce returned from a near two-year absence with a KO win over Andre Ewell at UFC Vegas 32.

Yadong is a brilliant all-round fighter with great wrestling and even better striking, with tremendous speed and power. Arce is a great boxer in his own right with good power and great volume, but he has proven to be hittable on the inside in the past. That is somewhere that Yadong excels and could be a big problem for him in this fight.

Song is so experienced for a 23-year-old and ultimately I think the fact he is so well-rounded can only help him here. He has the power and speed to catch Arce in a stand-up battle and has the wrestling skills to make him think twice and therefore leaving him open to getting caught and getting beaten.
PICK – Song Yadong via Knockout, Round 2

Felicia Spencer (8-3) vs Leah Letson (5-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A women’s featherweight bout in this one, but I’m not sure why it’s on the main card. Spencer has lost her last two, losing a title fight to Amande Nunes at UFC 250 before Norma Dumont earned a split decision win at UFC Vegas 27. Letson is on a five-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since the TUF Finale back in 2018.

Spencer is a natural featherweight with decent boxing skills and a real lack of grappling skills in her weaponry. Letson is making a return after a bunch of health issues kept her out, but she is a good wrestler with decent volume on the feet too. Spencer has fought five times since Letson last did and she’s been in there with some of the best ever.

Ultimately these two have been matched up simply because the featherweight division is empty. Letson will make it competitive for the most part, but Spencer is comfortably better than her and will show it over 15 minutes to earn a victory.
PICK – Felicia Spencer via Decision

Miguel Baeza (10-1) vs Khaos Williams (12-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute BANGER at welterweight in this one and my pick for fight of the night. Baeza was undefeated and brilliant before he stepped into the cage against Santiago Ponzinibbio last time out, while Khaos has won nine of his last ten bouts including a decision over Matthew Semelsberger at UFC Vegas 29 last time out.

Both of these guys are absolute powerhouses when it comes to striking. Baeza is a more technical striker on the feet with great power, while Khaos is one of the hardest hitters in the division with great speed. An issue for Baeza is that he has been hittable in the past and that is a big problem against someone like Williams, who will punish you for it.

Baeza has got brilliant leg kicks which can effect the footwork of Williams and when they get into exchanges, that could be the difference maker. Neither guy has been finished before, but I don’t see this one going the distance and I think Baeza’s greater technique serves to earn him a highlight reel KO.
PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2



Ben Rothwell (39-13) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (18-8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A big heavyweight bout is the official co-main event for this one. Rothwell has won three of his last four, earning a submission win over Chris Barnett last time out. De Lima on the other hand has alternated wins and losses since 2014, going 6-5 in his last 11 fights with a win over Maurice Greene at UFC Vegas 26.

Rothwell is a powerful striker with great boxing and good submission skills too. De Lima on the other hand is also a super exciting striker with crazy knockout power and good Muay-Thai skills, but the elephant is the room is that he is an out-of-shape light heavyweight. That is a big problem, because he’s big by choice and Rothwell isn’t.

Both of these guys love a first-round knockout, with THIRTY-SIX (36!) between them and the likelihood is we’ll see that again. De Lima is aggressive and has good hand speed, but Rothwell has an iron chin and a granite fist too. Rothwell catches him with a hook in the exchange early and earns a KO win.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 1

Max Holloway (22-6) vs Yair Rodriguez (14-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A title eliminator in the featherweight division is the main event of the night. Holloway bounced back from consecutive defeats to Alexander Volkanovski with a stunning performance at UFC Fight Island 7 in January over Calvin Kattar. Rodriguez hasn’t fought since a win over Jeremy Stephens back in 2019 but is still ranked at number three in the world.

Holloway is a sensational boxer, arguably the best in the entire UFC, with brilliant power, volume and an incredible gas tank that he uses to just annihilate opponents as the fight enters deep waters. Rodriguez is a very kick-heavy striker with good elbows and spinning attacks too, but generally using his legs to keep range and attack. These are the two best strikers in the division going toe-to-toe and it’s set to be a truly brilliant fight.

But when you look at the style of both of these fighters, it’s Holloway who stands out more. His boxing is so good with his head movement, footwork and jab and there is nobody in the UFC who closes the distance better than him. Rodriguez will have his moments, but overall Holloway is just a level above and I think his body work and boxing ultimately melts Rodriguez for a late finish.
PICK – Max Holloway via Knockout, Round 4

UFC Vegas 27: Font vs Garbrandt – Prelims predictions

Bantamweights lead the way at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend when Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt go toe to toe in the main event.

The number three and four ranked 135lbers in the world will battle it out to give UFC president Dana White a headache when it comes to the top of the division right now, as ‘No Love’ looks to prove he really is back while Font looks to prove he’s a real contender among the elite.

Elsewhere on the card Yan Xiaonan takes on Carla Esparza in the co-main event to potentially determine the next contender for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title, while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan meet in their delayed middleweight scrap too.

Last week at UFC 262 we didn’t have the best of nights prediction wise, going 6/12 with two perfect picks to move up to 314/494 (63.56%) with 136 perfect picks (43.31%).

We’ll look to improve that here with this 13-fight card, and after picking the early prelims here we move onto the rest of the prelims now.


Bruno Silva (11-5-2) vs Victor Rodriguez (7-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An absolute banger at flyweight as two bulldozers meet in the octagon here. Silva bounced back from two defeats in a row to get a big knockout win over JP Buys at UFC Vegas 22 in March, while Rodriguez lost his debut in spectacular fashion to Adrian Yanez back in October at UFC Vegas 12.

Silva is a powerhouse at 125lbs, with great striking and some nasty body kicks to go with some great grappling skills. Rodriguez is highly rated because he has crazy knockout power, with all his wins coming via knockout. Aside from that, he doesn’t offer much in the way of beating Silva. ‘Bulldog’ has the advantage in speed, power, technique and experience, as well as having fought and beaten better competition more recently.

It seems a pretty one-sided fight where Rodriguez’s chances are landing the big shot first in a fire-fight, but I can’t see Silva not getting an impressive win.
PICK – Bruno Silva via Knockout, Round 2

Court McGee (20-10) vs Claudio Silva (14-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two veterans go toe to toe in the welterweight division as ‘The Crusher’ takes on ‘Hannibal’ in an intriguing fight. McGee has lost five of his last six, including his last three in a row to Dhiego Lima, Sean Brady and Carlos Condit. Silva on the other hand was on a 14-fight win streak which included the likes of Leon Edwards before he got beaten via decision by James Krause at UFC Fight Island 6 last October.

McGee’s best attributes are his physical gifts. He has brilliant cardio and a fantastic chin, with his wrestling getting set up by his striking in the clinch and ability to close the distance. Silva is a jiu-jitsu freak on the mat, with nine submission wins in his career which makes this fight a very interesting stylistic match up.

Both guys will want the fight on the ground, meaning the stand up will be extra important. McGee has that slight edge on the feet but I think Silva will be more likely to get the takedown at some point and his top control is so good he should be able to edge out a win.
PICK – Claudio Silva via Decision

Ben Rothwell (38-13) vs Chris Barnett (21-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big banger at heavyweight as Ben Rothwell steps in on short notice to take on debutant ‘Huggy Bear’ Chris Barnett. Rothwell was beaten last time out by Marcin Tybura and was supposed to fight against Phillipe Lins just two weeks ago, while Barnett steps in on short notice himself to replace Askar Mozharov on a six-fight win streak.

Rothwell is the typical heavyweight, with a big overhand right and some okay cardio with a decent chin. Barnett is as far from that as you can get, with a Tae Kwon Do background, who throws spinning kicks and has incredible athleticism for a 5ft 9′ heavyweight. He also has brilliant power, with 16 knockout wins in his career and has never really had cardio issues despite what you’d think looking at his body type.

With that said, Rothwell’s recent performances haven’t been good and while he hasn’t been KO’d since his UFC debut back in 2009 I do think Barnett’s unorthodox approach could take everyone by surprise and he could make headlines with a big finish. Rothwell has the ability to make this boring and just suffocate Barnett with pressure to get a win himself, but I’m going with the more exciting option.
PICK – Chris Barnett via Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Ramos (14-3) vs Bill Algeo (14-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very, very fun fight at featherweight is the featured prelim bout between Ricardo Ramos and Bill Algeo. Ramos lost his last bout via knockout against Lerone Murphy on Fight Island last July, while Algeo lost his UFC debut to Ricardo Lamas before winning last time out against Spike Carlyle.

Ramos is a dynamic striker with the ability to achieve true violence both on the feet and on the mat with good submission skills too, while Algeo has got an attitude that is just that he can hit you harder than you can hit him. Algeo has so many defensive deficiencies on the feet that Ramos could pick him apart at range, but Algeo’s pressure is relentless and we’ve seen Ramos’ gas tank empty out in the past.

With that said, it’s hard to look beyond Ramos just using his technical qualities to out-land Algeo on the feet and trust his skills on the mat if the fight ends up down there too.
PICK – Ricardo Ramos via Decision

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Prelims predictions

A rather short-notice card finally comes together this weekend when Marina Rodriguez takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event.

After the original main event between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw fell through due to an injury to the former champion, the UFC were left scrambling and managed to throw together two strawweights competing at flyweight to headline the card.

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will now also face off against a short-notice opponent when Alex Morono replaces Diego Sanchez in the welterweight division. There’s also a big welterweight bout on the card between Geoff Neal and Neil Magny, with both men looking to get back on the winning trail and among the contenders of the division.

Last week at UFC Vegas 25, we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to improve to 302/473 (63.85%) with 133 perfect picks (44.04%).

With a fun 12 fight card ahead of us this weekend, lets look to improve that record starting with the prelims here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Christian Aguilera (14-7) vs Carlston Harris (15-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout to open up the card as Christian Aguilera looks to get back on the winning trail against UFC debutant Carlston Harris. Aguilera beat Anthony Ivy on his debut at UFC Vegas 2 via knockout, before being submitted by Sean Brady at UFC Vegas 8 in August, while Harris won his last three including most recently in January via submission.

Aguilera is a striker with a very heavy right hand and good pressure, but his gas tank has given him problems in the past. Against a solid grappler and cardio machine in Harris, that is a bad recipe. Aguilera has got the power to turn a fight around with just one punch but the way Harris shoots in at the hips and holds his opponents down, the opportunities to land that big punch will be few and far between.

Harris should be able to get a takedown and work his top game and search for submissions, but I think he grinds out a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Carlston Harris via Decision

Jun Yong Park (12-4) vs Tafon Nchukwi (5-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight bout between two relative newcomers to the UFC is next. Park is on a two-fight win streak, with a win over John Phillips on Fight Island 6 most recently while Nchukwi is an undefeated prospect who went the distance for the first time in his UFC debut win over Jamie Pickett at UFC Vegas 17.

Park is a very adept boxer but has shown great wrestling chops in his most recent wins, making him able to dictate where this fight takes place. Nchukwi on the other hand is still very green, with activity on the feet not the best although he does possess great power. Nchukwi has won his last five fights before he’s entered the cage, with his frame just intimidating guys into respecting him way too much.

The skillsets aren’t too indifferent but with Park’s experience and ability to switch it up, I think he’ll come in confident and stick to his game plan of working behind the jab and mixing in takedowns to get the decision.
PICK – Jun Yong Park via Decision

PRELIMS

Ryan Benoit (10-7) vs Zarrukh Adashev (3-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight bout between two guys who have lost their last two in a row. Benoit has fought a bunch of top level competition in the UFC, but his most recent defeats came against Heili Alateng and Tim Elliott at Fight Island 1 last summer. Adashev on the other hand is a weird one, currently 0-2 in the UFC, losing to Tyson Nam in 32 seconds at UFC Vegas 2 and Su Madaerji at Fight Island 8 in January.

Benoit is an okay striker with decent best takedowns, but he has great cardio and absolutely never gives in. Adashev is a brilliant kickboxer who hasn’t had the rub of the green with opponents, who have had him outgunned in size. Adashev has good power of his own too and has won two of his three victories via knockout. Benoit has good power in his hands and has a much better ability of mixing the fight up to make it happen in different places.

It should be a high energy fight between the two but I think Benoit is able to mix it up enough to take a close decision.
PICK – Ryan Benoit via Decision

Ludovit Klein (17-2) vs Mike Trizano (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A hugely fun fight coming up at 145lbs here as kickboxing demon Ludovit Klein takes on former Ultimate Fighter winner Mike Trizano. Klein won his UFC debut at UFC 253 with a beautiful knockout against Shane Young, while Trizano returns after almost exactly two years out following a loss to Grant Dawson.

Klein has brilliant striking and has won each of his last three fights via head kick, but also has good submissions on the mat too. Trizano is a good kickboxer on his own accord, but also has really good takedowns and is a bit more of a physical fighter. If the fight is a clean, technical bout then Klein will eat him alive but if Trizano can make it ugly and mix it up he has a path for victory.

Overall though, I think Klein’s stopping power just seems to be the biggest difference between the two. He has good takedown defence, nasty knees and elbows and is a powerful puncher so I think he could get the finish.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Knockout, Round 2

Ben Rothwell (38-13) vs Phillipe Lins (14-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight banger in the featured prelim slot as the veteran Ben Rothwell takes on Phillipe Lins. Rothwell has lost four of his last six including his most recent bout against Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Island 5, while Lins has lost his last two to Andrei Arlovski and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 4.

This is not going to be a great fight in all honesty. Rothwell has great power and a good chin but other than the big right hand there’s nothing special going on for him. Lins is a wrestling heavyweight who doesn’t really go for takedowns much and just tends to throw strikes that are there for the sake of being active.

This fight won’t be the most memorable, but Lins got knocked out by Boser who doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Rothwell so I think this one goes a similar way.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Tagir Ulanbekov def Bruno Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Really fun first round here as both men come out swinging heavy blows. Silva works on the leg with some big calf kicks and Ulanbekov looks to counter it with his range and big punches. Both men land heavy shots throughout the round and Ulanbekov does score a takedown at one point but doesn’t land much damage while down there. Silva did more damage in the round, but it’s super close. 10-9 Silva for me.

Another thrilling round as Ulanbekov avoids the leg kicks for the most part and pops the jab to secure some dominance. He’s landing the jab and countering the leg kicks that do come with a big right hand that opens up a cut under Silva’s eye. A nice takedown where he lands some damage but a scramble gets them back up. Good round, frantic pace. 19-19.

More jabs and more control from Ulanbekov in the final round as he establishes more control. Silva is throwing haymakers but Ulanbekov countering with strikes of his own. Takedown attempts are generally denied by Silva and there are several scrambles to keep everyone on their toes. Ulanbekov continues to land nice jabs and avoid leg kicks and despite a late flurry from Silva, he should take the win here.

Tracy Cortez def Stephanie Egger via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A competitive first round between the two ladies as Cortez does well with the striking before then jumping into a takedown and controlling the fight on the ground. Egger does well to eventually get back up but Cortez really controlling where the fight takes place and what happens there too. 10-9 Cortez.

A very active second round for Cortez once again here as she lands some nice shots again before landing a takedown. She lands some heavy ground and pound but then gets rocked by an up-kick by Egger! She jumps on Cortez’s back and tries to sink in a rear-naked choke but Cortez does well to shake her off and get back on top. More heavy ground and pound and she takes the back too to land more damage and control the rest of the round. Great performance so far from her. 20-18 Cortez.

Final round and it’s more of the same from Cortez. Egger tries to push forward for a takedown of her own but Cortez defends it well and lands some nice strikes. She defends really well against the cage again to deny the takedown before spinning out and landing a trip of her own to take the back. From there on out she controls the rest of the round with ground and pound and should earn a comfortable win. 30-27 Cortez.

PRELIMS

Giga Chikadze def Omar Morales via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A competitive opening round between these two featherweights. Giga Chikadze throwing lots of kicks to maintain distance and range but Morales is retaliating with haymakers. Chikadze keeps with the body kick that lands beautifully but Morales continues to come forward. Good pressure and a good pace for the Georgian. 10-9 Chikadze.

Second round is more of the same as Chikadze throws nice kicks again to try and maintain distance but Morales coming forward with hooks, overhands and jabs. Some leg kicks from Chikadze cause a big lump on the front of Morales’ leg and he’s struggling to move too freely on it but both guys continue to put everything into their strikes as the second round closes. 20-18 Chikadze.

Final round and Morales marches forward to close the distance early. Chikadze unable to set his feet too well and is moving around well but lots of jabs landing but big punches missing the target. Chikadze throws a huge straight right that lands flush and knocks Morales down! He jumps on him and looks for ground and pound to finish the fight but Morales defends well to avoid the majority of the strikes and manages to get back to his feet. Chikadze desperate for the finish starts throwing axe kicks, superman punches and even a rolling lariat kick but he doesn’t quite get it. 30-27 Chikadze.

Tony Kelley def Ali AlQaisi via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

A very fun round! AlQaisi gets an early takedown and lands lots of knees to the body before a scramble. AlQaisi gets a nice trip but Kelley sinks in a deep triangle and attacks the the arm too for the second half of the round. AlQaisi is tough and Kelley extends the arm fully but he refuses to tap out! The round comes to an end, crazy round. 10-9 Kelley.

Kelley comes out in the second round a bit more aggressive, looking to take the centre again and throw strikes. AlQaisi moves for a takedown but Kelley blocks well, then AlQaisi steps forward and eats a huge knee! Kelley lands a right straight too and pounces on top looking to finish the fight but AlQaisi does well to avoid it and get back up in a clinch. AlQaisi secures a trip of his own and ends up on top looking for ground and pound before looking for another guillotine to finish the round. Tough round but 20-18 Kelley for me.

Immediate takedown for AlQaisi to open the round but Kelley gets straight back up. Another clash and Kelley lands that huge knee again to drop AlQaisi! Big punches as he tries to put him away but AlQaisi survives again. Kelley looks to sink in a submission but he never gets the chance to really lock it up. AlQaisi gets back to his feet and lands a beautiful spinning back-fist flush on the chin! Kelley stays standing though and lands a low blow accidentally. A short pause and they get back to with Kelley taking the centre and the two exchanging wild swings before the buzzer. 30-27 Kelley but a great fight.

Joaquin Buckley def Impa Kasanganay via Knockout, Round 2 (2:03)

What a fight this is! Both men come out with bombs and Buckley is getting the better of the shots. Big hooks land and back Kasanganay up against the cage but he throws huge shots back and connects too. Big uppercut from Buckley lands right on the eye but neither man goes backwards at all. Buckley lands a takedown and throws some vicious elbows but Kasanganay gets back to his feet well and lands a nice knee up the middle that knocks the mouthguard out of Buckley’s mouth. Fun first round. 10-9 Buckley.

Second round is much of the same with both men throwing heavy shots looking to take each other’s heads off. Kasanganay marches forward then throws a knee and Buckley responds with a head kick. Kasanganay catches the kick but Buckley, with his foot still in Kasanganay’s hand, spins and throws a spin kick with his other foot into the face and gets a violent knockout!! WOW! Knockout of the year!

Chris Daukaus def Rodrigo Nascimento via Knockout, Round 1 (0:45)

That was quick! Chris Daukaus steps forward and lands a bomb of a right hand that instantly hurts Nascimento. He lands some big ground and pound and is clearly hurting Nascimento with the power and speed. Nascimento gets back up but a big one-two lands again that drops him and the referee stops it. Hugely impressive knockout win.

Tom Breese def KB Bhullar via Knockout, Round 1 (1:42)

Tom Breese is back! He starts the fight with a snapping jab to the chin, Bhullar starts countering with leg kicks. Breese lands a beautiful left hook into the jaw of Bhullar who’s rocked but Breese keeps calm. He steps forward and lands another big jab that drops Bhullar and then some ground and pound gets the referee to stop the fight. Big win for Breese!

MAIN CARD

Illia Topuria def Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Zalal comes out and is bouncing around the octagon with movement to stay away from the takedown attempts that are inevitably on the way. Topuria steps forward with nice jabs and then finally shoots, clinches up and throws Zalal over his head for a lovely suplex takedown. Topuria immediately jumps into mount and looks to sink in several submission attempts but Zalal survives them all as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Topuria.

The second round starts with Zalal looking for a takedown against the cage but Topuria defends himself perfectly well and then secures a trip of his own to take the fight down. More submission attempts from Topuria again but Zalal showing his jiu-jitsu chops to defend everything well but he looks tired and out of ideas on the feet. 20-18 Topuria.

Final round and an immediate takedown from the Spaniard gets him back in control. Scrambles and attacks on the ground see Topuria take Zalal’s back but once again the Moroccan defends multiple submission attempts. Back to the feet with a minute to go and both men are now exhausted. Zalal comes forward with some nice punches but Topuria shoots and gets another takedown to see out the fight. 30-27 for me.

Tom Aspinall def Alan Baudot via Knockout, Round 1 (1:35)

Both men come out swinging big, heavy shots nice and early. Baudot throws some spinning attacks that miss wildly as Aspinall just waits out for the right moment. He rushes him against the cage with a front kick to the thigh and then lands two big short right hands to the jaw of Baudot. He changes levels and gets a takedown straight into mount and pours on some heavy ground and pound with elbows. Baudot curls up in a ball and the referee stops the fight. Another quick win for the Brit.

Dricus Du Plessis def Markus Perez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:22)

Perez storms out across the octagon and pressurises the debutant immediately, suffocating him against the cage. Du Plessis throwing lots of leg kicks but Perez eating them and returns a solid body kick of his own. Du Plessis throwing lots of volume but not landing much of anything significant as he continues to throw leg kicks. He rushes across with a combo but misses them all and both fighters end up against the cage. Perez tries for a back elbow and Du Plessis lands a short left hook to the side of the head that drops Perez! He lands two big shots while Perez is down and the referee waves it off. Huge debut win fo Du Plessis!

Marcin Tybura def Ben Rothwell via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

A straight up slug fest of an opening round between these two heavyweights. Rothwell comes out with punches in bunches and lots of forward pressure, almost forcing Tybura to just cover up and take them. He moves around well and starts landing some of his own shots but both guys basically sitting in a phone box and swinging. Great entertainment. 10-9 Rothwell.

Second round is more of the same but at a bit of a slower pace. Rothwell has lost the pop he had in the first round but is still coming forward and landing short hooks and straights, while Tybura is landing kicks and jabs well. Tybura landing heavy shots on a very tired Rothwell now but he continues to march forward and bite down on his mouthpiece. Into the final round! 19-19.

Tybura comes out in the third round as the much fresher fighter and starts picking Rothwell apart using his speed and jab. Rothwell is still throwing heavy shots but Tybura using his footwork and head movement to make him miss and lands a lovely uppercut against the cage. Another flurry from Rothwell but again Tybura avoids and this time he changes levels and secures a takedown. Tybura gains the top position and goes to work with the ground and pound. Completely dominant third round and a big win for the Pole. 29-27 for me.

Edson Barboza def Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)

A very tentative start to the fight from both guys as then just circle the outside of the octagon trying to make reads and make their opponent bit on feints. Barboza throws a nice body kick, Amirkhani responds with a nice jab. Takedown attempt by Amirkhani is well defended by Barboza who separates immediately and breaks away. Barboza throws a body kick but Amirkhani catches it and takes Barboza down with 5 seconds of the round left. That probably steals the round too. 10-9 Amirkhani.

Second round begins and it’s still pretty tentative between the two. Barboza throws a nice leg kick but lots of feints and reads. Barboza throws a beautiful right straight that drops Amirkhani! He looks for the ground and pound but Amirkhani survives and pops back up to his feet. Barboza feinting again and lands the exact same shot again and gets another knockdown! He goes for the ground and pound again but this time he tries to wrap up an anaconda choke but Amirkhani breaks out of it. Final seconds of the round and Amirkhani lands another takedown to close it out but that’s a Barboza round. 19-19 at best for Amirkhani. 20-17 at worst.

Final round and Amirkhani comes out firing looking for a takedown early. He powers through after an initial good bit of defence from Barboza and stacks him up against the cage. Now he’s raining down ground and pound but Barboza moving well off his back to avoid all the damage. The referee stands the fighters back up bemusingly and Barboza lands a big left hand to the head. The fight ends with both men raising their arms but there’s only one winner here. Barboza back in the W column.

Cory Sandhagen def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (1:03)

A combative and intense opening round as both fighters look to take control early on. They trade leg kicks with Moraes throwing overhand rights to counter the rangier Sandhagen. Both guys taking it in turns to step forward and initiate the attacks. Spinning back fists from both guys too and then a nice one-two combo from Sandhagen is followed up with a solid body kick. Sandhagen throws another one but Moraes catches it and drags the fight to the ground as the round ends. 10-9 Moraes but it’s a very close, competitive fight so far.

Second round comes out and lots of feinting and leg kicks from Sandhagen. Out of nowhere Sandhagen shouts out to the commentators that Moraes’ orbital bone might be broken. More leg kicks and Moraes flies in with heavy hooks that miss wildly. Sandhagen throws a spinning wheel kick that lands on the top of the head and drops Moraes! Sandhagen pounces on top and lands ground and pound before the referee waves it off. What a finish! What a win!

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.

Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.

It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go. I’ve already predicted the early prelims of the card here and predicted the prelims of the card here.

Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.

MAIN CARD

Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs Illia Topuria (8-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Youssef Zalal makes his fourth appearance of 2020 and looks to go 4-0 against the undefeated debutant in Illia Topuria. Zalal is a great kickboxer and show his well-rounded skills in his wins over Austin Lingo, Jordan Griffin and Peter Barrett. Topuria on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who is all about the choke as his record shows. Seven wins from his eight have come via submission showing that if the fight goes to the ground he is in his element. His trouble will be that Zalal has proven he manages distance so well so far throughout his UFC career and his striking is on another level to that of Topuria. He hasn’t got the knockout power to end the fight with one punch which will give the Spaniard hope but overall I think Zalal keeps the fight standing to outscore his opponent with the judges.
PICK – Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision

Alan Baudot (8-1) vs Tom Aspinall (8-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A big heavyweight clash between two up and comers in the UFC as debutant Alan Baudot takes on the UK’s Tom Aspinall looking for his second win in a row. Aspinall fought back in July on Fight Island and knocked out Jake Collier in just 45 seconds. He is an ex-professional boxer with crazy power in his hands and big things are expected of him in the UFC. Alan Baudot is making the step up to heavyweight for this one, with his entire career prior to this taking place at 205lbs. Neither man have ever seen the judges scorecards in a fight and I think it’s safe to say that continues here. Baudot is a fast and accurate striker but defensively he’s questionable. Against guys his own size he can get away with it but in the UFC against a striker as lethal as Aspinall, it only goes one way.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1

Markus Perez (12-3) vs Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An clash between a veteran and a true blue-chip prospect at middleweight as Markus Perez looks to bounce back from a defeat in his last outing against short-notice step in Dricus Du Plessis. Perez is an explosive striker on the feet but also a very ample technician on the mat, as his six submission wins show. Du Plessis though is one of the best middleweights outside of the UFC prior to this fight and has held the KSW middleweight title. The South African is aggressive, athletic and capable wherever the fight may go. More to the point, he is a finisher. He’s never seen the judges scorecards in a fight before and is always a threat. Neither fighter has fought this year but I think Du Plessis has a big chance to make a name for himself here. He has the power, the athleticism and the fight IQ to cause Perez problems and potentially even score the finish.
PICK – Dricus Du Plessis via Submission, Round 2

Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs Marcin Tybura (19-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are back in action on Fight Island as two UFC veterans face off in the heavyweight division. Rothwell is coming off two wins in a row, knocking out Stefan Struve before taking a decision win over Ovince St. Preux in May. Marcin Tybura is also coming off back-to-back wins, beating both Sergey Spivak and Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision. Rothwell is 50 fights and 21 years deep into his career at this point so we know what to expect. He is a powerful puncher with deceptively fast hands and has a great choke game, while Tybura is a fighter who looks to take his opponent down and grind out wins from top position. Rothwell is the bigger puncher in this fight and if Tybura mistimes a takedown, Rothwell is more than capable of taking his neck and wrapping this fight up quickly.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 2

Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) vs Edson Barboza (20-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

This will be one hell of a fight. ‘Mr. Finland’ has won four of his last six fights including his last bout against Danny Henry back in July, while somehow Edson Barboza has lost five of his last six. That includes his move down to featherweight, where he lost a razor close decision to Dan Ige last time out. Amirkhani is a submission specialist, with 11 of his career wins coming via tap-out. Barboza on the other hand is one of the best strikers the sport has ever seen. If you’re in any way a fan of MMA, you’ve probably seen his spinning wheel kick knockout win over Terry Etim. His wrestling defence is sublime but in recent fights he’s been overpowered. The Paul Felder fight could have gone either way as could the Dan Ige fight, so the record looks much worse than it actually is. This will be Amirkhani’s toughest test yet, and on short notice, is a big ask. Barboza knocked out Beneil Dariush in 2017 who has a similar submission heavy style, so with short notice and power on his side, I think Barboza gets back in the win column in this fight.
PICK – Edson Barboza via Knockout, Round 2

Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs Cory Sandhagen (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The main event is one of the best match-ups in the bantamweight division and could have title implications. Marlon Moraes was in title contention and even took on Henry Cejudo for the vacant title after TJ Dillashsaw vacated, and dominated the opening round. He gassed out after the first round though looking for a finish and Cejudo turned it around and got the knockout win himself. He then took on Jose Aldo and while many believed he lost the fight, the judges gave him the win. Cory Sandhagen was on the title hunt too before his fight with Aljamain Sterling went as badly as possible when he was choked unconscious back in June at UFC 250 in under 90 seconds. He is a stud wrestler with good hands and submission skills and will be looking to get back into the win column. Moraes is a Muay Thai black belt who loves to throw leg kicks, head kicks and can switch stances. It’s a tough fight in general because Sandhagen definitely has the advantage on the ground, but he has to get it there. Moraes has a good wrestling defence and the experience of a five round fight. While he struggled with the pace agains Cejudo and Aldo, if he can iron that out I expect him to get the win here.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 3