Tag Archives: Billy Quarantillo

UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 282 as they will crown a brand new undisputed light heavyweight champion when Jan Blachowicz takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

Originally a three-round co-main, former champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Glover Teixeira and vacate his title after suffering a shoulder injury in training, which saw this fight bumped up to a title fight.

We’ll also see the UK’s own compete as Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till compete on the main card, while there is some deep prelim fights on the card too.

Last time out at UFC Orlando we had a shocking night, going 5/14 with just one perfect pick to move to 789/1227 (64.3%) with 325 perfect picks (41.19%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Cameron Saaiman (6-0) vs Steven Koslow (6-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight opens up the card between two UFC debutants. Both guys come into this with undefeated records, with Saaiman earning a UFC contract on the Contender Series most recently, while Koslow has won all six of his professional fights via first-round submission.

Saaiman is a talented striker with great power, technique and a really deep gas tank too. His takedown defence isn’t the best though, and that’s a big problem against someone like Koslow who is an absolute wizard on the ground in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.

With that said, Saaiman is a decent grappler on the mat and a good wrestler too. If he can get out of the first-round without being dragged down and dominated, then he has a great chance of landing his power strikes on the feet and earn a big knockout win as the fight progresses. It’s a tough fight to pick early on in the card but Saaiman is the more well-rounded guy so I’m going with him to get the win.
PICK – Cameron Saaiman via Knockout, Round 2

Vinicius Salvador (14-4) vs Daniel Da Silva (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Flyweight fun up next. Salvador makes his UFC debut on a four-fight win streak, with a knockout win on the Contender Series back in August securing his contract with the company. Da Silva on the other hand has lost all three of his UFC bouts, getting stopped by Jeff Molina, Francisco Figueiredo and Victor Altamirano.

Salvador is a powerhouse of a striker in the flyweight division, with excellent hooks and 13 of his 14 career wins coming via knockout. Da Silva is a really well rounded fighter, but he’s struggled to bring it all together in the UFC and has been losing fights he is supposed to win. This is another fight that he is supposed to win realistically.

He’s the better fighter when it comes to skillsets, but with his recent performances it’s hard to expect him to do what he’s supposed to do. But it’s also hard to back Vinicius when I know he isn’t the better fighter. I expect a knockout to occur, and I’m going to go with Da Silva to get it done despite by gut warning me against it.
PICK – Daniel Da Silva via Knockout, Round 2



TJ Brown (16-9) vs Erik Silva (9-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

More fun at featherweight up next. Brown beat Kai Kamaka III and Charles Rosa (UFC Vegas 46) via decision, but was beaten by Nuerdanbieke in June last time out. Silva makes his UFC debut on an eight-fight win streak, winning on the Contender Series last time out after a KO win in just 92 seconds.

Brown is a well-rounded fighter with some really good striking and solid grappling too, but his recent performances have seen him struggle to put it all together. Silva on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who likes to wrestle, control and land damage on the ground, while also having slick jiu-jitsu skills too.

Silva’s style is similar to the way that Nuerdanbieke was able to nullify and defeat Brown last time out, but he’s largely untested against the better fighters in the world. Whether he has the quality to execute his style is yet to be seen, but if he can he should be able to claim a career-defining win for himself.
PICK – Erik Silva via Decision

Billy Quarantillo (16-4) vs Alexander Hernandez (13-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A banger at featherweight as Hernandez makes his debut in the division. Quarantillo is 2-2 in his last four with wins over Kyle Nelson (UFC Vegas 10) and Gabriel Benitez, while he lost to Gavin Tucker (UFC 256) and most recently Shane Burgos at UFC 268. Hernandez is 4-4 in his last eight, alternating results in each. His last two saw him beat Mike Breeden with ease (UFC Vegas 38) before getting smashed by Renato Moicano at UFC 271.

Quarantillo is a brilliantly entertaining fighter, whose best attribute is his heart and grit to go with his striking and grappling skills. Hernandez alternatively is a strong boxer with really powerful hands and a good gas tank, but this weight cut could have a big effect on how he usually fights.

Early on I expect Hernandez to use his wrestling and boxing to keep Quarantillo at bay, but without getting a finish his cardio could begin to fail him and Billy Q will almost certainly be able to take advantage and push the pace for the full fight. I expect a brilliant fight between them, and a late surge from Quarantillo could be enough to sway the judges in a really tight call on the cards.
PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ode Osbourne def CJ Vergara via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start to this fight with both guys staying in range and feinting a lot before exploding into strikes. Osbourne lands a nice left hand and then attempts a jump knee that just misses. Another left from Osbourne but Vergara trying to flick his jab and land hooks. Check-hook from Vergara lands but Osbourne rolls with it and replies with a strong right straight. Nice right hand from Vergara but neither fighter landing particularly flush yet. Osbourne goes for a takedown but Vergara gets himself to the cage and is able to defend it as we enter the final minute of the round. More close exchanges from both fighters before a strong right hand and head kick lands from Vergara right at the end of the round. 10-9 Osbourne for me, but close.

Vergara taking charge of the second round as we begin, stepping forward and throwing strong strikes on the inside. Osbourne starting to throw kicks to try and get some distance back between the two of them, but Vergara is doing well. Nice hook from Osbourne lands but Vergara replies with a left hand of his own. Osbourne growing into the round, landing his left hand more and busting up the nose of Vergara. Osbourne changes levels in the middle of an exchange to go for a takedown but Vergara defends really well. Osbourne continuing to throw combinations to the head and Vergara is slowing down. Front kick to the head just misses from Vergara, then he attempts another and Osbourne catches it and takes him down to end the round. 20-18 Osbourne.

Vergara trying to empty the tank in the final round, possibly feeling as though he’s behind, and Osbourne is starting to counter more and more. Two big left hands land and he drops Vergara, but he gets back up immediately and continues to step forward applying pressure. Osbourne goes for some takedown attempts but Vergara denies them and continues to walk him down. Vergara and Osbourne clinch in the middle and then Vergara trips him and ends up on top in Osbourne’s full guard. Osbourne is visibly tiring but is trying to tie him up to stall, but Vergara lands a big elbow from the top. More ground and pound attempts from Vergara but Osbourne is shifting his hips and looking to set up submissions. Vergara lands three big elbows from the top as we enter the final minute and now Osbourne is trying to get up to his feet. Vergara is able to pin him down and lands some more ground strikes but the round comes to an end and Osbourne should claim the tight decision win. 29-28 Osbourne for me.

Melsik Baghdasaryan def Bruno Souza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Slow start to the fight with both guys feeling each other out early on, as Melsik lands two nice low kicks inside the first minute. Baghdasaryan starting to walk Souza down against the cage, but not much action so far. Souza goes for a jump knee but misses, before Baghdasaryan lands a nice left hand. Souza tries to create some distance with a few body kicks but Baghdasaryan showing real disdain for his power and walking him down with his hands really low. Souza shoots for a takedown after eating another hard low kick, but Baghdasaryan denies it excellently and they separate. Spinning kick from Baghdasaryan causes Souza to lose balance before a hard body kick, but Souza is struggling with speed and distance. 10-9 Melsik.

Souza opens up with a right hand but Baghdasaryan stepping forward again and just forcing him to fight on the back foot. Another hard low kick from Melsik, and another. Souza doing a lot of moving but not much else and Melsik currently seems content just to outwork him for a win. Melsik lands a nice overhand left but the two clinch and then separate. Another left hand lands and Souza lands two nice jabs, before Melsik evades and lands a beautiful uppercut-left hook combo. End of the second round, 20-18 Baghdasaryan.

Final round and Souza trying to come forward to claim the initiative. Baghdasaryan throwing low kicks and forcing Souza to switch stances a lot and buckling the leg. Lots of hesitation from both guys so far, before a strong knee from Souza. A longer exchange sees Baghdasaryan land a nice left hand. Entering the final minute and Souza goes for a takedown but once again Baghdasaryan defends it really well and kicks him away. More movement from both guys before a big right hand lands from Baghdasaryan and a final exchange before the bell. 30-27 Baghdasaryan for me. Not a great fight.

Dustin Jacoby def John Allan via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Very intriguing start to this fight with both guys standing right in front of each other and trading blows. Jacoby using his jab well and landing some low kicks, but Allan is throwing them too and landing them much heavier. Battle of the low kicks so far but Jacoby’s hands flowing much better and landing more fluently. Strong body kick from Allan followed up by a jab, but Jacoby is growing in confidence. Hard strikes from both again, but Jacoby has a slight speed advantage it seems. Head kick attempt from Jacoby just misses, then he follows up with a hard low kick again. Hard right hand from Jacoby right on the buzzer ends an entertaining round. 10-9 Jacoby.

Both guys throwing out hard low kicks once again in this second round. Jacoby’s jab starting to get through the guard of Allan, but neither guy going anywhere currently. Nice one-two from Jacoby but Allan steps forward and lands a nice left hand. Allan starting to apply more pressure and Jacoby is slowing down, but he’s still landing his jabs well. Allan getting more physical as he walks forward but Jacoby counters with a good one-two and a right hand down the middle. Final minute of the round and Allan pouring the pressure on, which causes a second accidental eye poke of the fight by Jacoby. The referee decides it’s accidental and the fight resumes without further punishment for 30 seconds before it ends. 20-18.

Final round and Jacoby is landing his leg kicks well and throwing the jab out there once again. Allan on the front foot trying to pressure Jacoby, but his counters are quick and his movement still good enough to evade. Nice right hand lands from Allan knocks his mouthpiece out but Jacoby not hurt by it. Nice right hand lands down the pipe from Jacoby as we approach the half-way point of the final round. Allan continuing with the hard pressure to force Jacoby backwards but not throwing enough output right now. Head kick from Jacoby lands but is partially blocked as we enter the final minute. Nice body shot from Allan but Jacoby responds with three or four strikes to earn marks with the judges and the round comes to an end. 30-27 Jacoby.

Chris Barnett def Gian Villante via Knockout, Round 2 (3:22)

Some front kicks to the body attempted early on by Villante but they all miss, before Barnett lands a low kick. More low kicks from Barnett land but very little output from these two guys so far. Villante lands a nice body kick finally, before Barnett lands a nice body kick of his own and then they trade low kicks. Left hook lands for Villante but everything is singular right now from both guys. Villante looks for a head kick before Barnett counters with an uppercut and then blitzes forward with four strikes. Spin kick to the body by Barnett lands before the two fighters clinch up to end the round. 10-9 Barnett, but could be anything.

Another slow start to the round before Barnett throws a double spin kick that lands and gets a reaction from the crowd. Barnett throws a nice overhand right that lands, but Villante looks slow and goes for a head kick that misses. Barnett throws a wheel kick to the head and drops Villante! He follows him up with some heavy ground and pound strikes and Villante is just covering up and the referee stops it! Huge win for Barnett!

PRELIMS

Ian Garry def Jordan Williams via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Garry goes in for a low kick and Williams counters with a fierce one-two that wobbles him! Garry recovers quickly and goes for another leg kick, but Williams lands another big one-two that snaps his head back. Williams staying patient though and looking to counter more. Nice body kick from Garry lands as he circles on the outside. Williams goes in for a big shot but over-reaches and misses then grabs a leg to engage a takedown against the cage. Garry defends it well and then switches the position briefly to gain some control as they battle in the clinch. Nice knee from Garry in the clinch to the head before a hard right hand lands on the break. Hard left high kick lands from Garry, but Williams drops his hands and continues to walk forward. Garry looking to counter and just about avoiding big strikes. Williams goes in for a big left hand that he slips and then lands a huge right straight that puts Williams out!! He lands a follow up and walks off before the referee waves it off! What a knockout! Wow!

Nassourdine Imavov def Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 2 (4:42)

Lots of feinting early on between these two, as Shahbazyan lands a few hard low kicks. Imavov pushes Shahbazyan against the cage with pressure and lands a hard right hand, but Shahbazyan throws another hard low kick. Shahbazyan landing hard low kicks and he buckles Imavov’s leg with one, but Imavov responds with a hard right hand too. Clinch against the cage and Shahbazyan goes for a takedown and eventually gets it, but Imavov sinks in a guillotine! Shahbazyan is able to escape and gets back to the top position before they get back to the feet. Clinch against the cage and Imavov lands a big elbow before Shahbazyan switches the position and sees the round out. 10-9 Shahbazyan for me.

Another hard low kick by Shahbazyan and he’s getting reactions from Imavov for it now. Nice body work from Shahbazyan but Imavov looking to turn the pressure up a little in this second round, as they cinch up against the cage. Shahbazyan goes for a takedown again but Imavov looking for a standing guillotine and it looks really tight but Shahbazyan just about escapes! He drops down for another takedown and once again leaves his neck hanging out and Imavov takes it for a big submission but again Shahbazyan shows great heart to survive and escape! Imavov looks for a takedown and Shahbazyan takes his neck but he is able to switch sides and relieve the pressure. Shahbazyan is exhausted now and Imavov lands some huge elbows! He transitions on the ground into a crucifix position and lands some huge elbows until the referee calls an end to the fight! What a performance!

Chris Curtis def Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:27)

Good start to the fight for Hawes as he steps forward and lands some powerful shots down the middle and some brilliant front kicks. Hawes keeping the pace high and throwing lots of combinations, ripping body kicks and hard right hands to the face. Curtis tries to fire back but Hawes is too quick and too powerful so far, just throwing lots of shots and constantly stepping forward. Hawes lands a nice overhand right and fakes a level change too to keep Curtis guessing. Hawes looks brilliant so far, but Curtis counters a right hand with a left hook to the body. Both guys throw at the same time and Curtis lands a brilliant left hand straight to the chin that wobbles Hawes!! He goes for the finish and lands a knee to the body, then they separate and Hawes just falls to the ground! The referee steps in and it’s all over! What a comeback win!!

Bobby Green def Al Iaquinta via Knockout, Round 1 (2:25)

Fast start to the fight from both guys with Iaquinta stepping forward and looking to box, but Green standing with his hands low and using his great shoulder roll defence. Nice right hand lands from Green as he moves away from Iaquinta and avoids more strikes. Iaquinta steps forward and Green lands a left jab with a straight right hand behind it that drops Iaquinta!! He stuffs a takedown attempt and then rains down ground and pound until the referee steps in! Huge win for Green!

Alex Pereira def Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 2 (0:18)

Both guys starting on the feet with distance and looking to land low kicks. Pereira goes for a one-two but Michailidis ducks under it and shoots in for a takedown. Pereira looks to defend it well but Michailidis overpowers him and gets him down to the mat. He looks to take his back and get some shots in, but Pereira defends it really well and gets back to his feet. The referee separates them after a lack of action, but then Michailidis goes straight back in for the takedown and they remain in a clinch against the cage for the rest of the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Pereira comes out early with a head kick attempt. Michailidis fakes a level change and Pereira comes up with a flying knee and puts him out!! He follows up with one shot and then the referee ends it! Wow!

MAIN CARD

Justin Gaethje def Michael Chandler via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Gaethje opens up with a low kick that just misses and then Chandler lands a nice left hand. Gaethje slips a right hand and counters with one of his own, then lands a leg kick that wobbles Chandler. Chandler lands a hard leg kick of his own and then they exchange. Chandler lands a huge right hand in the exchange and both men are trying to take the other’s head off. Hard low kicks being exchanged and then Chandler lands a big right hand but Gaethje eats it! Both men land a jab and then Gaethje lands a hard low kick. Huge left hook from Gaethje lands and then Chandler lands a flush one two! Gaethje is hurt and Chandler goes for a flying knee! Chandler goes for the kill and wobbles Gaethje, but he fires back and now Chandler is hurt! Big hooks from Gaethje and Chandler eats it! Gaethje lands some huge uppercuts and Chandler is hurt! Huge right hand from Gaethje again, Chandler is exhausted and shoots for a takedown but Gaethje stuffs it! What a round! I have no idea how to score that!

More of the same in the second as Gaethje looks to counter Chandler’s jab with a hard one-two. Chandler fighting behind his jab now but Gaethje is countering brilliantly. Big right hand from Gaethje and then an uppercut. Hard left hook from Gaethje and then a massive uppercut drops Chandler! He goes for the finish but Chandler grabs onto a single leg and just stalls him to try and recover. Gaethje finally gets back to his feet and starts teeing off on Chandler again. Big uppercut from Chandler but Gaethje eats it, then stuffs a takedown. Chandler kicks off the cage with a superman punch that lands flush, but Gaethje lands a hard leg kick and Chanlder is wobbled. Hard right hand again from Gaethje and then Chandler lands a hard right hand, but seems to poke Gaethje and the referee pauses it. Quick restart and then the end of the round. Gaethje round with the knockdown. Amazing fight.

Hard low kick early in the third from Gaethje again and Chandler is suffering with it. Gaethje’s right hand lands, but then Chandler lands one and has to eat a huge leg kick again. Chandler starts working to the body and then Gaethje lands a big left hook and a hard leg kick. Gaethje follows up with two huge hooks and then Chandler shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Gaethje scrambles out and ends up on top landing ground and pound. Chandler egging Gaethje on and he’s getting absolutely smashed now. Gaethje throwing huge hooks and Chandler is literally walking through him like a terminator! This is insane! Final minute and both men are exhausted but it’s Gaethje coming forward and that is the end of the night! What an incredible fight. Absolutely amazing. Gaethje wins for me. Insane.

Shane Burgos def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast start to this one as Burgos starts popping his jab and landing some hard low kicks. Nice right hand from Burgos lands and Quarantillo starts to get a little wilder and just misses with a jump knee. Burgos lands a jab, low kick and then grabs a body lock to try and control Quarantillo. A few knees each in the exchange and both guys are landing huge shots now. Burgos slipping with a big right hand, but Quarantillo’s jab is doing damage and busting the nose of Burgos up. Lots of low kicks from Burgos but Quarantillo still coming forward. Both guys trading hooks and Burgos gets the better of it and then Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown. Well defended by Burgos and then they separate. Burgos lands a huge right hand that drops Quarantillo to one knee and then he smashes him while he’s down but he just eats the shot. More back and forth as the round ends. 10-9 Burgos for me.. just.

Huge right hand from Burgos to start the round but Quarantillo returns with a big overhand right of his own. He pressures forward and just misses with a spinning back fist, and then Burgos digs to the body and lands a hard right hand. Quarantillo throwing jabs relentlessly but Burgos slipping some and then lands a hard low kick that drops Quarantillo down again. Quarantillo looking to be physical in the clinch but Burgos holding his own and then lands a nice hook to the body. Clinch again and Quarantillo just seems a physically stronger guy and is having his way here. Burgos lands two big hooks and then a hard low kick as Quarantillo misses with a wild overhand right. Quarantillo goes for a takedown but it’s denied and then they exchange big strikes again. Hard low kick again from Burgos but Quarantillo lands a flush right hand. Burgos starts slamming his shots in and Quarantillo is hurt! Burgos slamming in low kicks and smashing him with right hooks but the buzzer goes! Unbelievable fight! 20-18 Burgos for me but it’s close.

Final round and Burgos wants the kill. He’s stepping forward and landing his right hand, with the low kicks absolutely taking their toll now on Quarantillo who’s struggling to stand. Burgos lands a hard right hand again but Quarantillo clinches up after some failed takedown attempts. Quarantillo looking for some haymakers but Burgos is slipping and countering with short shots and now winning the clinch exchanges against a one-legged Quarantillo. Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown but again Burgos defends it well. Quarantillo trips him but Burgos jumps back up immediately and they start trading strikes again. Burgos chops at the leg again but Quarantillo responds with a big uppercut and then they clinch again exchanging knees. Wild flurry from both men at the end but Burgos should take the W.

Marlon Vera def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 3 (3:50)

Fast start from Edgar as he steps forward with a nice right hand and then a level change to attempt the takedown, but Vera stuffs it. Vera taking the centre and throws a hard body kick that Edgar catches, but he again denies the trip attempt. Edgar bouncing around a lot and Vera staying calm in the centre. Edgar shoots for the takedown scrambles his way to the top and starts looking for ground and pound in the centre of the cage. Edgar lands some short elbows and starts going to the body, but Vera is landing some heavy elbows from the bottom too. Vera defending well from the bottom, but Edgar controlling the position and then lands another big elbow. Big upkicks from Vera land and Edgar drops down to his knee and back into full guard to work the short elbows. Edgar ends the round on top and Vera looking for an upkick. 10-9 Edgar.

Hard low kick from Vera at the start of the second and then a great left hand lands as they exchange strikes. Edgar lands a nice right hand over the top as Vera fires back with a right cross. Edgar changes levels and gets the takedown, but Vera immediately throws hard elbows to the head and lands some upkicks from the bottom too. Edgar stacking him and moving to get into full guard and attack with ground and pound but Vera rolls through and gets back to his feet. Vera denies another takedown from Edgar but he’s starting to walk forward now and trying to cut the cage off. Hard knee from Vera up the middle grazes Edgar and then a big left hand behind it. Vera closing the distance and lands another knee that drops Edgar momentarily. Low kick from Edgar lands hard and then a big right hand lands on the chin of Vera. Vera lands a short elbow that wobbles Edgar and then goes for another big knee right at the end of the round. 19-19 for me!

Both guys a little more hesitant in this final round to start, knowing it’s a close fight. Vera is pushing forward a lot now and forcing Edgar backwards to close distance. Edgar goes for a takedown but Vera stuffs it and makes him eat a nice left uppercut. Hard low kick from Vera lands and then a hard front kick to the body again. Jab lands from Vera but Edgar lands a nice body shot in return. Vera closing distance and he lands a hard left hook. Edgar goes for the takedown and gets it but Vera gets back up to his feet quickly and continues the pressure. Vera throws a HUGE front kick to the face and Edgar is out!!! Wow!!! What a knockout win!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

Three hard outside leg kicks land from Zhang early on in the opening round, with Namajunas taking the centre and feeling her opponent out. Zhang lands another low kick, before Namajunas throws a low kick of her own then blitzes forward with some nice strikes to the face. Namajunas stepping forward again and lands another low kick followed by a left hook, before Zhang shoots for a takedown and gets it. Namajunas grappling well and defending her position on her back, but Zhang using her physicality to get on top and land some good strikes. Rose sweeps and gets back to her feet really well. Zhang throwing haymakers but Namajunas quick enough to evade so far and lands a few low kicks for good measure. Weili slips and Namajunas throws a beautiful right hand clean as the round ends. Close, but I think it’s 10-9 Zhang.

Namajunas moving well early in this second round and she lands a nice one-two that ends with a low kick that gets a reaction from Zhang. Namajunas threatening with the high kick from the first fight, but Zhang lands a big combination. Namajunas responds with one of her own though and Zhang just misses with her own head kick. Namajunas lands a left hook as Zhang lands another hard leg kick. Another hard leg kick from Zhang, but Namajunas still moving very well. Zhang lands a big right hand that wobbles Namajunas, who responds with a big head kick! Namajunas goes for another head kick but Zhang catches it and takes her down to the mat. Namajunas lands a big upkick, but then Zhang replies with a big strike from the top position before they get back to the feet. Namajunas with an outside trip for a takedown of her own and she moves into full mount but the buzzer ends her chances of success. Another very close round. 19-19.

Third round and Namajunas feinting a lot and making Zhang miss with a wild hook. Both women trade low kicks and then go back to bouncing and feinting each other. Zhang misses big with a few hooks, but Namajunas trying to counter and just missing herself. Hard low kick from Namajunas and then she slips out of the way of a big right hand. Hard right hand from Namajunas again but Zhang responds with a big low kick and then a body kick. Big exchange and Namajunas lands a left hook and low kick combination that drops Zhang! She looks to finish but Zhang clinches up and recovers against the cage before they trade low kicks again. Overhand right from Zhang but Namajunas counters with a left hook, right hand. Zhang fires back with a huge left hook that lands flush, but Namajunas still there. Zhang goes for a takedown and gets it, now tries to transition to the back. Namajunas is able to defend until the buzzer, but that’s a Zhang round. 29-28.

Championship rounds and they’re going for it! Zhang looks for a hook and Namajunas lands a big right hand that stuns Zhang! Namajunas lands it twice more and then Zhang catches a kick and takes the fight to the mat, but Namajunas with upkicks get back up immediately. Namajunas goes for a right hand but Zhang shoots in and gets the back of Namajunas again. Namajunas staying calm though and defends it well, then sweeps and explodes to get top position. Decend ground and pound strikes from Namajunas on top and Zhang fighting to control her. Namajunas on top and lands a big left hand as the round comes to an end. 38-38 going into the final round for me!

Final round and Zhang going for the leg kicks once again. Zhang goes for a big strike but Namajunas slips it and then flies into a takedown with a big outside trip. Namajunas lands a big strike on the ground and is controlling from top position and Zhang looks very tired. Zhang looking for upkicks but Namajunas able to avoid damage and trying to move to side control now. Zhang gets it back to full guard and is throwing elbows from the bottom as well as upkicks now. Namajunas however staying calm and controlling position as we enter the final minute. Nice elbows from the bottom but then Namajunas stands, lands a leg kick to a downed Zhang and then a big left hand to go back into guard to see the round out on top. That should see her retain the belt! What a fight!

Kamaru Usman def Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)

Early jab lands for Usman with both fighters far more cautious in the opening moments of this fight than their first. Usman pressuring forward and forcing Covington backwards, who just misses with a wild left hand. Covington goes for a takedown and Usman immediately rolls through it, takes the controlling position and then they get to the feet. Hard left hand lands for Covington but Usman eats it and looking to land his jab again. Usman steps in to strike but Covington moves and lands a good left hand. Usman shoots for the takedown as Covington looks to blitz, but Covington able to get back up immediately too. Covington throwing a straight left well, but Usman eating it and fires back with a right hand of his own. Nice left by Covington again as the round ends. Close one, 10-9 Covington.

Usman opens the round up with a nice left hook but Covington staying calm and fighting a slower pace than either usually fight at. Covington goes for a left hand and Usman clinches up, with boy guys trading body shots before they separate. Big body shot from Usman and Colby just misses with a left hand. Hard low kick from Covington but Usman responds with a body kick and a jab. Big right hand from Covington lands and then he changes levels for a takedown, but Usman defends it really well against the cage and muscles his way out of it. Usman by far the more aggressive so far and leading the fight. Usman lands a big left hook that drops Covington! Colby gets back up but Usman lands another hard left hand that drops him again. Covington grabbed on to a leg and survived 15 seconds until the bell. Mad. 19-19 for me, but Usman could be 20-18 up.

Round three and Usman taking the centre again and staying patient. Using the jab well again but then Covington lands a big one-two that lands clean. Usman pawing away with the jab as both guys fake takedown attempts. Covington lands a body kick but Usman just walking him down and lands a nice right hand. Covington lands a big left hand clean and then goes for a takedown but Usman defends it with ease and lands some ground strikes from the front headlock position. Big body kick from Usman and then a straight right hand. Both guys trading strikes and Usman lands a nice right hand before going back to his jab. Covington lands a few big left hands and then finally secures a late takedown with a trip and a few strikes before the buzzer. 29-28 Usman.

Championship rounds now and Usman seems to have lost a little focus. Covington landing his left hand well and clean. Nice jab from Covington before Usman throws a wild hook to the body. Covington lands a left hand and just misses with an uppercut. Covington lands the big left hand again and then follows up with a jab, right hand and left hook again! Usman stays calm though and responds with some big right hands of his own and this is becoming more like the first fight now. Usman lands a big right hand but Covington now taking the centre. Covington lands a big body kick and then three or four big left hands that have Usman wobbled. Covington goes for a takedown but Usman defends against the cage. Nice strikes from Covington and then a big left hand wobbles Usman right on the buzzer!! Wow! 38-38 going into the final round!

Final round and Usman looking to work the body, but Covington looking to land his left hand again. Usman lands a nice right hand before Covington lands two big lefts and Usman starts wobbling again! Covington shoots for a takedown and Usman stuffs it well, then lands a great jab once they’re back on the feet. Head kick from Usman lands but then Covington lands a nice left hand again. Covington goes for a head kick but Usman slips and then Covington goes for a takedown again. Usman defends and keeps it against the cage. Covington lands a big elbow as they break but Usman stepping forward in the final minute with his jab. Usman looks to evade a strike but gets a finger in the eye accidentally with 40 seconds left to pause the action. Head kick from Usman and they trade strikes until the final buzzer. What a fight. Who knows what the score is.

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Main card predictions

An absolute banger of a card takes place from Madison Square Garden this weekend as UFC 268 finally is upon us.

A welterweight championship rematch headlines the card as Kamaru Usman looks to lap the division when he takes on Colby Covington in the main event, while Rose Namajunas is looking to bring some stability to strawweight but she’ll have to dispatch of Weili Zhang once again in the co-main.

We also have violence guaranteed in the main card opener between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler in a lightweight contender bout.

Last week at UFC 267 we had a great night, picking 12/14 fights correctly with four perfect picks to move us up to 458/716 (63.97%) with 194 perfect picks (42.36%).

We’ll look to continue that good momentum with this 14-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, we completed our prelim picks here and now move on to the main card.


Justin Gaethje (22-3) vs Michael Chandler (22-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Not only my pick for fight of the night, but arguably and potentially the fight of the year opens up the UFC 268 main card. Gaethje is coming off his lightweight title shot defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 last October, following a four-fight win streak before that. Chandler is 1-1 in the UFC after KO’ing Dan Hooker at UFC 257 before losing his lightweight title shot to Charles Oliveira at UFC 262.

Gaethje is a straight up brawler, with persistent forward pressure and amazing punching power with a brilliant wrestling pedigree in his background too. Chandler is also a brilliant wrestler with a solid background, with powerful punching and solid hooks also. This fight is sure to be fireworks and that means Gaethje has the advantage.

His constant pressure and amazing cardio is brilliant to watch and he has genuine one-punch knockout power. He has great combinations and his leg kicks are legendary. With that said though, Chandler is arguably a more willing wrestler and that is his path to victory. Chandler could throw up a shock, but I can’t look past Gaethje earning yet another highlight reel knockout win.
PICK – Justin Gaethje via Knockout, Round 1

Shane Burgos (13-3) vs Billy Quarantillo (16-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight next between two guys looking to become contenders in the division. Burgos is on a two-fight losing streak after a decision loss to Josh Emmett before getting KO’d by Edson Barboza at UFC 262. Quarantillo suffered defeat to Gavin Tucker at UFC 256, but bounced back with a KO win over Gabriel Benitez at UFC Vegas 31.

Burgos is a very, very good boxer and is up there with Rob Font and Max Holloway as the best strikers in the division. Quarantillo is a fan favourite who is a brilliant cardio fighter, using his gas tank as a weapon to go along with his solid striking skills. This is set to be a striking fan’s paradise, with both guys going toe-to-toe and using their excellent technique to get one over their opponent.

Quarantillo has a jiu-jitsu advantage but Burgos’ wrestling is good enough to avoid that even coming into the equation and on the feet, I think he has the edge. He has big power, great combinations and excellent body work so I think he claims a fun decision win that gets fans up on their feet throughout.
PICK – Shane Burgos via Decision

Frankie Edgar (24-9-1) vs Marlon Vera (17-7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very exciting fight in the bantamweight division between two guys looking to become contenders. Edgar opened his 135lbs career with a decision win over Pedro Munhoz at UFC Vegas 7, before a jump-knee KO defeat to Cory Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 18. Vera in the other corner has alternated wins and losses recently, KO’ing Sean O’Malley at UFC 252, then dropped a decision against Jose Aldo at UFC Vegas 17 before bouncing back with a win over Davey Grant at UFC Vegas 29.

Edgar is a legend of the game, previously holding the title at 155lbs, who has tremendous wrestling and an excellent ground game. Vera is a fighter who stylistically is relatively similar, with excellent ground game and powerful striking on the feet too with heavy leg kicks. This is a really even match up, but ultimately father time may have finally caught up with Edgar.

At 40-years-old now and with four defeats in his last six, it’s hard to see him claiming victory here. Vera can match him in the wrestling, is probably the better striker and has the output and cardio to go hard for 15 minutes so I think he claims an important decision victory.
PICK – Marlon Vera via Decision



Rose Namajunas (11-4) vs Weili Zhang (21-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Without a doubt the hardest fight to pick on the entire card is the women’s strawweight title fight. Namajunas has won her last two-in-a-row, defeating Jessica Andrade before KO’ing Weili Zhang at UFC 261, snapping the Chinese fighter’s 21-fight winning streak.

Namajunas is a very well-rounded fighter, with much improved striking over the years and good power in her punches and kicks. She is also a very good grappler, with half of her career wins coming via submission. Zhang is a powerhouse of a fighter with ten knockout wins but also good wrestling and submissions herself. It’s a very well-rounded and evenly matched fight, which makes it so hard to pick.

In their first fight at UFC 261, I predicted Zhang to use her physicality and power to grind away and earn a stoppage. But after that fight, it’s hard to go against Namajunas. She has a speed advantage, uses her kicks brilliantly and can more than hold her own on the ground so I think she’ll be able to go 25 minutes and hang with Zhang to earn yet another win and cement herself as one of the best ever at this weight.
PICK – Rose Namajunas via Decision

Kamaru Usman (19-1) vs Colby Covington (16-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The grudge match of all grudge matches at welterweight as the champ defends his title in a rematch from 2019. Usman is on an 18-fight win streak including a fifth-round KO of Covington in his first title defence at UFC 245. He’s since beaten Masvidal twice and KO’d Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 too. Covington has only fought once since, stopping Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas 11 in September 2020.

Usman and Covington are both primary wrestlers, but have great volume and striking on the feet too which led to zero takedown attempts during their first fight. Usman has however greatly improved his striking since that fight, with two KO’s in three fights since. Covington went back to his pressuring wrestling against Woodley to earn a dominant win, but whether he can implement that style against Usman is hard to say.

Colby is unlikely to get into a straight striking war again after he got his jaw broken in their first fight, which means he’ll probably try to wrestle more. But Usman is the physically stronger fighter and arguably the superior wrestler, so it’s really tough to see how Covington can get a win. Usman’s striking is powerful and greatly improved under Trevor Wittman, and his wrestling is still unmatched in the division (maybe the company?). Ultimately, Usman is the best and won’t lose this title until he retires probably so I think he earns the big win yet again to cement his legacy as one of the best ever.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 31: Makhachev vs Moises – Main card predictions

The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.

Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.

Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.

Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card and after starting with the early prelims and prelims here, here are the picks for the main card.


Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super fun fight in the featherweight division as Benitez takes on fan-favourite Quarantillo. Benitez bounced back from two defeats in a row with a nasty knockout win over Justin Jaynes at UFC Vegas 16, while Quarantillo suffered the first defeat of his UFC run at UFC 256 against Gavin Tucker.

Benitez has got some incredible body kicks and good striking technique with his hands, while also using a chopping leg kick to his advantages. Quarantillo is a good wrestler with good striking too, using his range well and some great cardio. When you match them up skill-for-skill at 145lbs it’s hard to see Benitez losing but he’s had trouble making weight in the past and with his cardio.

Benitez will land plenty of strikes and damage but if Quarantillo can close the distance and drag the fight down to use his wrestling and wear on Benitez’s cardio issues. It’s a close fight but I think the damage will be enough to earn a decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The return of the jiu-jitsu phenom that is Rodolfo Vieira as he takes on another good grappler in Stoltzfus. Vieira is known as the black-belt hunter, but lost his last fight via submission against Anthony Hernandez after completing exhausting himself in the first round. Stoltzfus lost his UFC debut against Kyle Daukaus via decision at UFC 255, but his overall record is decent.

Vieira is a jiu-jitsu master with six of his seven wins coming via submission, while Stoltzfus has won five of his 13 victories via submission too. Vieira’s striking is completely non-existent but the level of his jiu-jitsu usually means if he gets you down it’s a wrap. Stoltzfus has got decent kicks in his arsenal, attacking the thigh and knee often knowing that he’s safe on his back. He isn’t against Vieira though.

Despite his last fight, Vieira is a supreme athlete with amazing jiu-jitsu and I do think he’d be able to get him down and get a submission. But Stoltzfus is good enough too to survive the opening round and capitalise on Vieira’s cardio issues to get the win himself as an underdog.
PICK – Dustin Stoltzfus via Knockout, Round 3

Jeremy Stephens (28-18) vs Mateusz Gamrot (18-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The delayed lightweight debut of Jeremy Stephens against Mateusz Gamrot is finally here. Stephens has lost his last four fights at featherweight and hasn’t fought in over a year, while Gamrot bounced back from a split decision defeat at UFC Fight Island 6 with a KO win over Scott Holtzman at UFC Vegas 23.

Stephens is a great boxer with a bomb of a left hand, great durability and decent defensive grappling and is a veteran on the UFC roster. Gamrot on the other hand is a tremendous wrestler with decent striking to back him up which makes this fight a really interesting one. Stephens had legitimate one-punch KO power at featherweight and the move up to 155lbs will only help him in that regard but Gamrot is a very well-rounded fighter.

Gamrot is the naturally bigger man, and if he gets hit flush he’ll either go out or go straight into wrestling mode. If it’s the latter, then this could be a very long night for the veteran.
PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Decision

Marion Reneau (9-7-1) vs Miesha Tate (18-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A final run against a returning champion in the women’s bantamweight division as Reneau takes on Tate. Reneau is 44 and in her final fight of her contract, coming off four defeats in a row against Cat Zingano, Yana Kunitskaya, Raquel Pennington and Macy Chiasson most recently at UFC Vegas 22. Tate retired back in 2016 after a loss to Pennington, but returns now after five years away from the cage.

Reneau is a jiu-jitsu black belt with a limited striking game, while Tate is a strong wrestler with good submission skills of her own. Reneau is awful off her back and Tate is a good enough wrestler to get her down quickly and hold her down, using her boxing well to enter range. Reneau has much more power in her hands but her technique isn’t great.

Realistically this is set up for Tate to win the fight impressively and make her comeback a moment to remember.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision

Islam Makhachev (19-1) vs Thiago Moises (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The next big thing at 155lbs as Makhachev takes on Moises who is coming in off a three-fight win streak. Makhachev returned from a year-and-a-half lay off back in March with a highly impressive submission win over Drew Dober at UFC 259, while Moises beat Bobby Green at UFC Vegas 12 and Alexander Hernandez at UFC Vegas 20.

Makhachev is an excellent striker with even scarier grappling, with his top position among the best in the entire sport never mind in the UFC lightweight division. Moises is a solid striker himself but he is also known for his jiu-jitsu skills, with six submission wins in his career. Makhachev’s wrestling is just such a big differential between the fighters that I can’t look past him winning.

He has his own submission skills but his positioning and pressure from the top is just as good at holding someone down and wearing them out and pounding them out. Moises has threats, but Makhachev’s cardio is likely to hold out and he’ll secure a big win.
PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision

UFC 256: Figueiredo vs Moreno – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Chase Hooper def Peter Barrett via Submission, Round 3 (3:02)

Good start to the round for Barrett as the two meet in the middle and he immediately sprawls to deny a takedown attempt. Hooper throwing some kicks to keep his opponent at range, but Barrett is landing nice, powerful strikes. Hooper looks uncomfortable in the striking exchanges, but suffers a low blow as both men throw a kick at the same time. A second low blow soon after causes another pause and the referee gives Barrett a warning. Barrett defends a takedown attempt but Hooper rolls through and attacks the leg, looking to sink in a heel hook. He looks like he’s synching it up as the buzzer goes! Close. 10-9 Hooper.

Second round and Barrett throws some heavy leg kicks that have a visible effect on the youngster. Hooper limping heavy and shoots for a takedown but Barrett stuffs it and stands back up immediately. Hooper dives in for an imanari roll and the two battle for position before eventually getting back to the feet. Barrett lands some nice punches and takes the round. 19-19.

Third round now and Hooper switches to southpaw and keeps throwing kicks and strikes to avoid more damage to his leg. Hooper dives in with another imanari roll and this time Barrett is in danger. Hooper throws some strikes to the head, which Barrett keeps headbutting to avoid losing his two-on-one grip. Hooper manages to break the grip, switches the heel hook to the opposite side and torques it beautifully for the submission win. Beautifully done and a great win.

PRELIMS

Tecia Torres def Sam Hughes via Knockout (Doctor stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)

A quick start to this fight by Torres who uses her experience early on and is landing some big shots despite the reach disadvantage. Torres lands a big flurry and backs Hughes up against the cage and she looks hurt, but Hughes clinches up to protect herself. Torres gets out of it and starts landing more big shots, causing Hughes’ nose to bleed. Big superman punch lands and she’s throwing combos, while slipping out of the way of Hughes’ attacks. Dominant opening round from the veteran.

The doctor waves the fight off between rounds as Sam Hughes says she cannot see out of her left eye. Hugely impressive win for Torres.

Gavin Tucker def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast pace to start the round as Tucker comes out and lands some big straight shots early. Nice body kick lands too but Quarantillo lands a looping right hand followed by a body kick that looks like it may have hurt Tucker. Clinch against the cage and both men battle for position before they separate. Tucker landing jabs and then a big head kick! Straight right hand again and it forces Quarantillo to shoot for a takedown which Tucker defends well against the cage, before getting a trip of his own and ending the round on top. 10-9 Tucker.

Second round and Tucker’s body work is starting to take over in this fight. Lots of jabs landing with ease and the straight line shots are landing while Quarantillo is looping shots and missing. Every time they clinch together, Tucker is landing big knees to the body and it’s slowing Quarantillo down. Clinch against the cage now and Tucker manages to hold him down before landing a trip as they get back up. Tucker transitions onto his back and looks for a choke but Quarantillo reverses the position and gets back to his feet. More strikes on the feet from both guys as the round ends. Another Tucker round for me. 20-18.

Tucker comes out aggressively once again, stick and moving with punches and securing takedowns again. Tucker looks to get onto his back for a choke but Quarantillo defends it well and eventually gets back to the feet. More strikes from Tucker as he just is dominating this round. Quarantillo looking to get wild and lands a big knee but once again Tucker gets the takedown. He dominates the round, and the fight in total, for a big win.

Rafael Fiziev def Renato Moicano via Knockout, Round 1 (4:05)

A tactical start to this fight as both men start the feeling out process with feints before Fiziev lands a hard leg kick. Some nice body kicks from Fiziev land too but Moicano fires back with a straight right hand and some head kicks too. Moicano lands a big overhand right hand that lands flush and then shoots for a takedown but Fiziev stuffs it well then comes forward with a right hand of his own. Fiziev throws a big left hook to the body, followed by a right hand flush to the jaw and a left hand that drops Moicano stiff!! He jumps on him for the ground and pound but the referee jumps in (maybe a bit early!?) but a hugely impressive win for Fiziev.

Cub Swanson def Daniel Pineda via Knockout, Round 2 (1:52)

A fun start to the fight as Swanson moves forward to start throwing straight right hands down the pipe. Pineda responds with a few of his own and a big leg kick. The leg kicks keep coming and Swanson’s leg gives out under him. Pineda looks for a submission but Swanson defends well. They get back to the feet and Swanson begins landing more and more power punches, Pineda is hurt! Swanson looking to finish it but he’s taking his time with it and eventually the round ends with Pineda still hurt. 10-9 Swanson.

Swanson comes out in the second round in a very karate-based style to protect that left leg and Pineda still looks a bit woozy. Swanson starts throwing combinations with speed and avoiding the wild swings of Pineda. Swanson lands an uppercut, left hook, uppercut, left hook, right cross combination that puts Pineda out!! What a knockout! What a performance from Cub Swanson.

MAIN CARD

Ciryl Gane def Junior Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 2 (2:34)

A feeling out process opens this fight up as Gane takes the centre and fires in some leg kicks while Dos Santos looks to jab to the body. Gane using his kicks to keep Dos Santos away at range, mixing up the speed of the kicks to rest JDS’ reaction time and blocks. A low blow from Gane lands accidentally and causes a brief pause in the action but Gane is bouncing around the octagon and landing from range, while avoiding Dos Santos’ power strikes. Big, wild swings from Dos Santos graze Gane to end the round, but it’s the Frenchman who takes this round. 10-9.

Second round is more of the same as Gane continues to throw these leg kicks from range while Dos Santos is throwing wild hooks. JDS is struggling to close the distance and Gane looks very comfortable so far. Big leg kick hurts Dos Santos and he’s visibly hurting. Gane lands a jab that stuns Dos Santos and he follows it up with two big elbows that drop the former champion before the referee steps in to end the fight. Huge win for Gane and he remains undefeated. Super impressive.

Kevin Holland def Jacare Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (1:45)

The two men meet in the middle and Jacare shoots for a double leg straight off the bat. Holland throws up a triangle immediately and rains down elbows that hurt Jacare! They scramble back up to the feet and Jacare looks for another takedown but Holland defends brilliantly. He ends up on his back but is still throwing big shots off his back. He throws an elbow that stuns Jacare, creates space with his legs and lands two vicious right hooks that rock Jacare and then he stands up and pummels him until the referee steps in. What an incredible win. What a knockout!

Mackenzie Dern def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast paced start to this fight as the two ladies seem keen to keep this one standing, knowing their opponent excels on the ground. Dern throwing big hooks and flurries with speed to force Jandiroba backwards, but nothing significant landing just yet. Big overhand right from Jandiroba cracks Dern square above the eye but Dern eats it. Dern goes for a takedown finally but Janidroba defends it well against the cage to keep the bout standing. Nice on two lands for Jandiroba before they meet and clinch as the buzzer goes. That round could go either way, but I give it to Dern for coming forward more. 10-9.

Quick pace to the second round too as Dern’s speed continues to see her land some nice strikes. Dern starting to loop her strikes and Jandiroba is reading them well and countering with shots of her own. Jandiroba countering with nice knees to the body and a straight right before Dern lands an accidental eye poke that causes a pause in the action. Following the pause both women come out very aggressive and Dern looks for a takedown but eats a big knee that breaks her nose and causes a lot of blood. Jandiroba gets the takedown and blood is flowing into the eyes but both women battling for position. Dern looks to roll through into a leg lock but the buzzer goes. 19-19 going into the third. What a fight.

Third round and it’s more of the same as both women know it’s pretty even now. Jandiroba lands some clean right hands and Dern giving it back too! Jandiroba pushes forward with the jab but Dern returns it with a big one-two that rocks Jandiroba. She shoots for a takedown against the cage but Jandiroba stuffs it and looks to work some more damage. Clinch against the cage as we enter the final 30 seconds and Jandiroba pulls guard (?!) looking for a submission but Dern is alert, stays on top and ends the round landing ground and pound. Super close fight, I lean towards Jandiroba but could go either way.

Charles Oliveira def Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)

Quick start to the round as Oliveira comes forward looking to land straight punches and then lands a heavy leg kick. Ferguson spins and lands some nice punches himself before they clinch together against the cage. Oliveira immediately lifts Ferguson and slams him down to the mat then controls Ferguson on the ground for the remainder of the round. He locks in a deep armbar with seconds to go but Ferguson completely refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. Wow. 10-8 Oliveira.

Second round starts and Ferguson can’t move his left arm at all. Oliveira throws a few kicks to the body to test it, gets no reaction and then takes the fight back down to the ground. Ferguson throws some elbows off his back and cuts Oliveira above the eye but then lands an up-kick to a downed opponent, causing a pause in the action. Upon the restart, Oliveira is able to stack Ferguson against the cage and is just dominating him on the ground for the entire round. 20-17 Oliveira.

Oliveira comes out in the third and throws an uppercut and pops his jab. Ferguson goes for a big hook but Oliveira goes for the takedown and once again lifts and slams him down. Immediately passes into full mount and starts moving Ferguson wherever he likes. Total domination from Oliveira as he transitions into a triangle attempt, then moves off into top control again. He ends the round on top once again, but that was absolute domination from start to finish. 30-25 for me.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno – MAJORITY DRAW (47-46, 47-47 x2)

Aggressive start from the champion as he opens with a spinning back kick to the body before a clinch attempt from Moreno ends up with a scramble on the ground. Figueiredo manages to get back up to the feet and lands a couple of stiff jabs, but Moreno returns with a few of his own. Head kick lands from Moreno but then Figueiredo lands one back. A very fun round, but the champ edges it. 10-9.

Second round and the pace is still so quick. Moreno lands a nice overhand right before the champ lands a spinning back kick to the body once again. Nice leg kick from Figueiredo before both men end up in a scramble on the mat again. As the champ looks to push off he accidentally lands a finger in the eye and the action is paused. Fight is restarted on the ground and Figueiredo gets back to the feet with both guys throwing bombs! Figueiredo lands a big combo to the body and head and hurts Moreno! The Mexican is in clear pain with his eye swelling but he lands a takedown to end the round. 20-18 Figueiredo but it’s close.

Third round and Figueiredo is swinging haymakers but Moreno is game and very much in this! Figueiredo lands a nasty body shot combo with a left hook but Moreno is still there and fires back with a head kick and left hook of his own. Figueiredo is throwing huge, wild hooks and missing big. He throws a front kick that lands flush on the cup and Moreno is hurt bad. The referee takes a point off Figueiredo and the two fighters push forward again. Figueiredo goes for a takedown but Moreno gets back to the feet and lands a big right hook before the buzzer to take the round. With the deduction that makes it 28-28 on my card.

Into the championship rounds and Brandon Moreno is flying! Big strikes from Moreno as he lands hooks, jabs and kicks before Figueiredo looks for a takedown. Moreno reverses the position and ends up on top against the cage. Figueiredo gets back to his feet and both men start throwing bombs and they’re both wobbling! Figueiredo looks dazed and Moreno is landing first when they exchange but the champ is still standing and banging. Big left jab from Moreno lands but then Figueiredo returns fire with two big hooks and a body shot that force Moreno to shoot for the takedown! Moreno lands on top but Figueiredo gets back up to his feet and Moreno lands three big shots to end the round. 38-37 Moreno going into the final round for me.

Final round and Figueiredo throws three beautiful body kicks and follows it up with some big punches. The commentary team point out that Moreno may have broken his left forearm at some point blocking kicks in this round. Moreno isn’t throwing much because of it, but Figueiredo landing good shots. Big right hand from Figueiredo snaps the head back but Moreno still coming forward. Clinch against the cage inside the final minute, Figueiredo switches the position and ends up putting Moreno on the ground landing ground and pound to end the fight. 47-47 for me, I’ve got it as a draw. What a fight.

UFC 256: Figueiredo vs Moreno – Prelims Predictions

A historic three-week turnaround for the top two flyweights in the organisation as Deiveson Figueiredo defends his title against Brandon Moreno in the main event.

It’s the fourth title fight that has been scheduled for this event after Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns and Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson fell through, before replacement bout Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling also fell out.

In the co-main event, two of the most exciting lightweights in the world look to stake their claim at the next title shot as Tony Ferguson takes on Charles Oliveira in what will be a three round war.

Last week we had a bit of a meh showing in the predictions. Three fights were cancelled on fight night, meaning we were left with just eight fights on the night. We successfully picked five of them correctly, although no perfect picks fell our way.

This takes our total up to 181/282 correct picks (64.18%) with 80 correct picks (44.2%). Lets see if we can improve that on this card, starting with the prelims here.

EARLY PRELIMS

Chase Hooper (9-1-1) vs Peter Barrett (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A clash between two prospects in the featherweight division as Hooper looks to bounce back from his first career defeat against Alex Caceres in June. He takes on Barrett who lost his UFC debut against Youssef Zalal in August. Hooper is a solid grappler with great choke skills, who doesn’t have the greatest striking chops, while Barrett is the complete opposite. Hooper’s first step up in competition saw him beaten, but Barrett is way below the level of Caceres and Hooper sits somewhere between the two. If Barrett can keep the fight standing he has a chance but his takedown defence isn’t great so I expect Hooper to be able to get him down and eventually choke him out.
PICK – Chase Hooper vs Submission, Round 2

Sergey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderra (11-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight clash between two prospects as 25 year old Spivak looks to make it back-to-back wins, following his win over Carlos Felipe in July. A hard hitter who has good submission skills, Spivak has six of his ten wins from inside the distance via tap out. Vanderra makes his UFC debut following a first-round knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series. You tend to see him at his best when he’s in top position using his ground and pound. If the fight stays standing, Spivak wins the kickboxing battle quite comfortably but if it hits the ground it’s all about who ends up on top. It should be close, but I’m backing the younger fighter to come away with a win.
PICK – Sergey Spivak via Decision

PRELIMS

Tecia Torres (11-5) vs Sam Hughes (5-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A bit of a throw away fight on this card as veteran Tecia Torres takes on the short-notice replacement Sam Hughes, after Angela Hill’s positive COVID-19 test ruled her out. Torres is a striker who uses her karate background to maintain distance and flurrys of punches while Hughes is a good submission grappler with three of her five wins coming via tap-out. Torres has more experience, better chops on the feet when it comes to striking and has sufficient submission defence to cope with anything that Hughes can throw at her, so she should waltz to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Tecia Torres via Decision

Gavin Tucker (12-1) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun fight in this one as Gavin Tucker looks to make it three wins in a row against hot prospect Billy Quarantillo. Tucker beat Justin Jaynes in August with a third round submission, while Quarantillo is currently on an eight-fight win streak after a knockout win against Kyle Nelson in September. Tucker’s sole defeat in his career came against a fighter who he should be able to control but was relentless with high output, much like Quarantillo. He has more experience now, but Quarantillo is arguably a better fighter than that Glenn was and he should be able to outwork Tucker for another win.
PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision

Renato Moicano (14-3-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (8-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

One of the best fights on the card as former featherweight Renato Moicano takes on the highly impressive Fiziev. Moicano made his 155lbs debut last time out against Damir Hadzovic in March, where he won with a 44 second submission. Fiziev had his UFC break-out on Fight Island, defeating Mark Diakiese via unanimous decision. Fiziev is a stunning striker, who coaches at Tiger MMA as the kickboxing coach. He’s a fantastic kicker and has great power in his hands too, while Moicano is all about the grappling and clinches. While Fiziev has great takedown defence and a good sambo background, he hasn’t fought anyone of the level of Moicano in MMA before. Moicano has the experience to deal with his striking skills and fight his way to a big decision win in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision

Cub Swanson (26-11) vs Daniel Pineda (27-13 2NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

UFC veteran Cub Swanson finally got back in the win column following four defeats in a row when he beat Kron Gracie 14 months ago. Daniel Pineda got back into the UFC after a six year absence when he knocked out the high flying Herbert Burns in August. Pineda is a super dangerous fighter who has finished all of his 27 wins, with 19 coming via submission. Swanson is very talented in all areas but against the top fighters in recent times he has struggled. Pineda has great in both striking and grappling realms and should have enough about him to end Swanson’s UFC career.
PICK – Daniel Pineda via Submission, Round 2