But with Dariush out, the UFC have moved quickly to replace him in the bout and Bobby Green will step in on just ten days notice to take the fight.
Green most recently fought at UFC 271 last weekend, earning a unanimous decision victory over Nasrat Haqparast on the main card with an impressive striking performance.
It was his fifth win in his last seven bouts and a second consecutive victory, having knocked out Al Iaquinta in the first-round at UFC 268 in November previously.
But he will step into the cage to fight Makhachev, who many see as the next champion in the division, on a nine-fight win streak and ready to challenge for the championship.
Due to the short notice nature of the bout, it will be contested at a 160-pound catchweight according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Dariush’s injury was said to have happened just this week, with Okamoto claiming to have been present at the gym when the incident took place.
He says as Dariush went for a takedown in training, his toe got caught in the mat and as he and his partner’s weight came crashing down it left his foot in a very awkward position and thus causing some quite ‘severe’ damage.
There is no time-frame on Dariush’s return to the octagon, however it seems as though his chances of getting into the title picture in the immediate aftermath are now in doubt.
A win for Makhachev will likely cement his place as the number one contender for the title later this year, but a win for Green could see one of the most remarkable MMA stories in recent years.
As of writing, Green isn’t even ranked in the UFC lightweight rankings but will be taking on the number four fighter in the world.
UFC Vegas 49 is scheduled to take place at the Apex Centre in Las Vegas on February 26th.
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Bobby Green (28-12-1) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight banger to open up the main card between two impressive fighters. Green is a veteran in the UFC and earned his first KO victory since 2013 last time out when he beat Al Iaquinta at UFC 268. Haqparast is a hot prospect who is struggling to live up to his skillset, having been comfortably beaten by Dan Hooker at UFC 266 in his last bout.
Green is a great all-rounder who has great boxing and some decent takedowns in his weaponry too. His pressure is relentless and he makes every fight competitive, arguably putting in his best performances in during his most recent fights. Haqparast is also a terrific boxer, arguably one of the best in the UFC, but his power has seemingly deserted him since coming to the UFC. His wrestling is decent too, but he was completely undone by Hooker in his last fight who isn’t known for his grappling at all, and that is worrying.
Haqparast has got the boxing ability to win this fight, because he’s probably better technically. But Green is going to make this a dirty fight with plenty of clinching and wrestling mixed in with the striking exchanges. It’s bound to be an entertaining fight to open the card up, but I think Green’s ability to mix it up more will be able to drag him to a victory. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs Renato Moicano (15-4-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really fun bout in the lightweight division between two experienced pros in the UFC. Hernandez is 3-2 in his last five bouts, with a KO over Mike Breeden in his last bout as expected. Moicano on the other hand is 2-3 in his last five, with a knockout loss to Rafael Fiziev at UFC 256 being followed up by a submission win over Jai Herbert at UFC Vegas 30.
Hernandez is a pressure fighter, with great striking and lots of power and volume to follow it. His body kick is solid too and he will always come forward. Moicano alternatively is a similar fighter to champion Charles Oliveira, he’s just several levels below. Moicano has got good striking and even better jiu-jitsu with eight submission wins in his career, but zero knockouts.
This is a tough fight to predict, because both guys are at different points in their careers and match up quite evenly despite having their primary strengths in different areas. The difference in their ground games though is significant and it makes me lean towards Moicano. If he’s getting outdone on the feet then he has the ability to take the fight down to turn it around, whereas Hernandez doesn’t have the option. For me, that makes it Moicano’s fight to lose. PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision
Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs Derek Brunson (23-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A middleweight title eliminator up next. Cannonier was on a three-fight win streak before suffering a loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 254, but has since bounced back with a decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. Brunson on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak having stopped Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC Vegas 5 and Darren Till most recently. He also dominated Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 22 in between those bouts.
Cannonier is a power puncher, full stop. He has got some of the heaviest hands in the division and knows it, so looks to walk forward and use hard low kicks to set up his overhand right. Brunson on the other hand is a heavy wrestler, who looks to use his striking just enough to close the distance and grab you. Cannonier’s wrestling isn’t the best, but defensively he will be looking to hold out being taken down so he can land the big strikes.
Brunson has shown, even in his most recent wins, that he doesn’t take punches very well. Holland and Till both hurt him, but then he used his wrestling to stifle their attacks. Cannonier hits much harder than them, so it’s unlikely he’ll get that chance if he eats a big shot. That said, Cannonier isn’t as quick so I think Brunson will be able to get his takedowns in early in the rounds and control the fight on the ground for 15 minutes for a victory. PICK – Derek Brunson via Decision
Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs Tai Tuivasa (14-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight smasher that is highly unlikely to go the full 15 minutes here. Lewis has won five of his last six fights, bouncing back from a KO defeat to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 for the interim title by knocking out Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 45. Tuivasa has won four in a row, all by knockout, with the most recent coming against Augusto Sakai at UFC 269 via second-round knockout.
Both of these fighters are brawlers who look to land a clean punch, because it will put you to sleep. Whoever you are, if you get caught clean, you’re going to sleep. Unfortunately for Tai Tuivasa though, Lewis hits far harder and has the better chin of the two. He is also a good leg kicker, has flying knees and has been at the highest level for a long time.
Tuivasa got rocked and hurt by Greg Hardy, but recovered to hurt him back and win by knockout. Lewis will stay patient and know that when Tuivasa rushes in to blitz with his strikes, he will leave himself open to land a huge strike and end this one early doors. PICK – Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 1
Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs Robert Whittaker (24-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The two best middleweight fighters in the world, and two of the best ever, go head-to-head for the world title once again. Adesanya is undefeated in the middleweight division, with a win over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 most recently following the first-and-only defeat of his career to Jan Blachowicz up at light heavyweight. Whittaker has gone 3-0 since losing to Adesanya, with decision wins against Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and most recently Kelvin Gastelum.
Adesanya is a world-class kickboxer, with the best striking in the entire UFC in his weaponry. He’s also shown incredibly improved wrestling takedown defence in recent fights, while his range and distance management remain at the top of the division. Whittaker is a top level Muay Thai fighter, with brilliant wrestling and top level striking too. Neither man is particularly known for their power and finishing ability, but they usually just outclass their opponents throughout.
Whittaker has made his game plan clear, stating that Blachowicz gave him the blueprint for victory, meaning he’s going to look to wrestle more and mix in his takedowns. Adesanya will likely perform in a similar way; defend takedowns, land kicks and counter with hooks to do damage. While Whittaker is better since the first fight, so is Adesanya. I don’t think this one ends in a finish like the first did, but Adesanya has all the skills to nullify Whittaker’s new game plan, as he has done with everyone else, and earns an exciting decision win. PICK – Israel Adesanya via Decision
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 complete our prelim picks now.
Ian Garry (7-0) vs Jordan Williams (9-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A super exciting bout at welterweight as Cage Warriors’ Ian Garry makes his debut. Garry is an undefeated prospect who claimed the belt in the UK’s premiere promotion, with four knockout wins in his career. Williams on the other hand has lost each of his last two, getting tapped out by Micky Gall in his last bout.
Garry is an excellent striker with good range, with some good takedown and mat skills including vicious ground-and-pound and good submission skills too. Williams is also a decent striker with some solid wrestling, but it just hasn’t clicked together for him yet and he’s a few levels below Garry at this point in their careers.
‘The Future’ has great finishing instincts whether it be on the feet or mat, but he won’t rush into it at all. He likes to stay patient on the feet using his range, but he’s also capable of taking the fight down to the mat and grinding wins out. Williams has good power and could always land a big punch, but I expect Garry to control this from start to finish and even secure a finish after 10-15 minutes of punishment. PICK – Ian Garry via Knockout, Round 3
Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (10-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very intriguing middleweight bout here as the young prospect looks to get back to winning ways. Shahbazyan was one hell of a prospect, but has since suffered back-to-back defeats against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 5 and then Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 27. Imavov earned an impressive win over Ian Heinisch last time out too, putting his stock at an all-time high.
Shahbazyan is one of the better kickboxers in the middleweight division, with brilliant striking accuracy and clean technique. Imavov is also a great striker on the feet, who has shown an excellent knack of getting off his back quickly when taken down. That shouldn’t come into play here, with a striker’s paradise likely to take place.
Shahbazyan’s cardio has caused him a lot of problems recently and Imavov has the ability to push a pace. In a stand-up battle, I think he has the advantage in power but if he doesn’t score a first-round knockout the performance tends to fall off a cliff and Imavov has more than enough about him to hurt him and pour the pressure on. Ultimately, Shahbazyan could win it but Imavov is too good of an opponent on this occasion and will take over as the fight goes on to claim a victory. PICK – Nassourdine Imavov via Decision
Phil Hawes (11-2) vs Chris Curtis (26-8) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very fun middleweight bout next that was supposed to take place last month. Curtis agreed to fight at UFC Vegas 39 on super-short notice after Deron Winn withdrew, only for Hawes to decline the opponent change. Hawes is on a seven-fight win streak, with a decision over Kyle Daukaus most recently at UFC Vegas 24, while Curtis makes his UFC debut in this one on a five-fight win streak.
Hawes is an excellent wrestler with scary power in his hands, capable of turning out the lights on anyone in the division. Curtis on the other hand is a powerful striker himself with decent wrestling in his back pocket. The big issue for Curtis however is that he’s fighting up a weight class against someone who’s huge for the division.
Curtis has a nasty left hand, but Hawes’ right hand should scare him into using it too much and the wrestling of Hawes is likely to be able to keep Curtis relatively quiet. He’s a great fighter and deserves his chance, but he’s been fed to the wolves here. If Hawes controls the pace, he earns a wide decision using his size and physicality to earn another victory. PICK – Phil Hawes via Decision
Al Iaquinta (14-6-1) vs Bobby Green (27-12-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A bout between two vets of the MMA world in this one. Iaquinta is fighting for the first time since 2019 when he was beaten by Dan Hooker, while Green has been super active recently but is currently on a two-fight losing streak with decision defeats to Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 12 and then Rafael Fiziev at UFC 265.
Iaquinta is a strong wrestler with okay boxing skills, who’s best skills are arguably mental rather than technical. Green on the other hand has shown some excellent boxing and wrestling skills too, with solid cardio and great defensive abilities. This fight will not be a showcase of elite skills, but more a bout between two guys who love a scrap and can grind it out.
Green’s the better striker by a bit of a distance here and with their wrestling pretty evenly matched, I expect ‘King’ to be able to go the distance with him. Green has gone to the judges in each of his last ten fights and I expect him to land the cleaner strikes to earn himself a close decision win once again. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Alex Pereira (3-1) vs Andreas Michailidis (13-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A UFC debut for the two-weight Glory kickboxing champion who once knocked Israel Adesanya out cold headlines the prelims of this card. Pereira is in the UFC off name value alone, but he has three KO wins in a row in his last three. Michailidis fell out of the cage to get the fight stopped in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 1, before earning a decision win last time out at UFC Vegas 25 against KB Bhullar.
Pereira is a world renowned kickboxer, with tremendous power and unmatched technique with his striking. Michailidis alternatively is a bit of a mixed bag, with okay striking and okay wrestling but not much else going for him. Put it this way, there is a reason why the UFC have made this fight and put it in this slot at Madison Square Garden.
‘Poatan’ has a size advantage in height and reach, an insane power advantage and an unreal advantage when it comes to the stand up game. Michailidis will undoubtedly look for takedowns, but his cardio has caused him a lot of problems in the past so even if he gets one it’s not over. Pereira pieces him up on the feet and finds a highlight reel knockout with his killer left-hook to close the show. PICK – Alex Pereira via Knockout, Round 1
Johnny Munoz def Jamey Simmons via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 2 (2:35)
Cagey start from both men to start out, with neither man looking to grapple early on. Simmons swings a big overhand right that Munoz ducks and goes for a takedown but Simmons avoids easily. Munoz flicking out the jab to keep the distance while Simmons has him against the cage and looks for some more power strikes. Munoz pushing forward with the jab and gets clipped by a left hand by Simmons that causes him to lose balance, but he’s not hurt and gets back to his feet immediately. Short blitz from Munoz and he just misses with a head kick as we enter the final minute of the fight. Simmons lands a nice one-two and then Munoz ducks under and lands a big takedown late in the round. Simmons battles well off his back and the round ends. Super close, I’d go 10-9 Munoz for the takedown but could really go either way.
More of the same to start the second round as Simmons comes out looking to blitz through some jabs, before Munoz ducks under and times a takedown perfectly. Munoz starts working for position and as soon as Simmons goes to his knees Munoz takes his back and puts the hooks in. He starts landing some ground and pound and looks for the rear-naked choke but Simmons fights the hands and breaks the grip. He goes back to his knees but Munoz drags him back down, locks in the choke and gets the tap! Big win for Munoz!
Melissa Gatto def Victoria Leonardo via Doctor’s Stoppage (Broken Arm), Round 2 (5:00)
Good start to the bout from Gatto as she lands a quick one two and then secures a body lock against the cage. She controls the clinch and then with an inside trip gets the takedown nice and easily before starting to search for submissions. She goes for the neck, then moves to a kimura attempt and then ends up on Leonardo’s back looking for chokes and armbars. Leonardo defending well though and eventually is able to roll through and get on top to land a bit of ground and pound herself. Gatto throws up a high guard and is being very active but Leonardo is defending well, following the hips and eventually allows the fight to get back up. Both women clinch and go for an inside trip but both fail at it and the round ends. 10-9 Gatto, but Leonardo can take some encouragement from the ground exchanges.
Second round and Gatto looks a lot fresher than Leonardo, landing a nice jab and forcing Leonardo backwards. Leonardo lands two nice left hands but Gatto is still there and pushing the pace with her range, landing a one-two. Then another one-two and Leonardo looks rocked there, but she comes forward again with a low kick. Gatto continuing to push the pace and lands a nice kick. Leonardo looks tired and Gatto putting the pressure on with strikes, forces Leonardo to shoot but it’s well defended. Leonardo goes for another takedown but is denied again and is stepping backwards a lot, clearly exhausted. 20-18 Gatto for me but could be 19-19.
Between rounds Leonardo says her right arm “isn’t working”. Doctor comes in, takes a look and says that it’s broken. Leonardo says she can fight through it but the referee waves the fight off. Gatto gets the win.
Miles Johns def Anderson Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 3 (1:16)
Tactical start to the fight from both men as they look to control the range, but it’s Johns who is landing the better shots early. Santos looking for clinches but Johns lands two big left hands and then two leg kicks, the last of which drops Dos Santos. Johns landing his jab with ease, but Dos Santos fires back with a right hand. Johns landing jabs at will and another leg kick is causing big problems for Dos Santos. Straight right hand just misses from Johns and Dos Santos forces his way forward but he’s in a lot of trouble with his leg. Johns lands a couple more strikes and Dos Santos is visibly limping. 10-9 Johns, Dos Santos needs to find a solution.
Johns opens up the second round by staying just out of range and using his big right hands to use the injured leg against Dos Santos. Some huge right hands land from Johns but Dos Santos is still standing and lands a nice knee himself. Johns lands a nice body shot and follows with a hook but Dos Santos shoots for a takedown. Johns denies it and lands a huge leg kick again that drops Dos Santos. Dos Santos coming forward but his leg is jacked and Johns is being patient, to the point where Dos Santos puts his hand behind his back. Johns lands a big one two and stays out of the way of any counters but Dos Santos takes it and the round ends. 20-18 Johns.
Final round starts and it’s more of the same from both men, as Johns lands a big right hand followed by a nice combination. Wild exchange from both guys as Dos Santos keeps coming forward. Johns digs a left body shot and lands a huge right hook and puts Dos Santos out cold!! What a knockout!! Wow!!
Manel Kape def Ode Osbourne via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44)
Osbourne takes the centre early on as both men are bouncing and feeling each other out. Kape lands a nice one-two and then a jab to the body, while Osbourne is looking to counter with his big left hand. Kape throws a kick but Osbourne catches it and as Kape falls Osbourne lands a big left hand. Kape and Osbourne both looking to counter each other, and Osbourne lands two excellent left hands clean on the chin. Kape responds with a left straight of his own and steps away. Kape stepping backwards switches stances and lands a huge flying knee bang on the chin that puts Osbourne down! He follows it up with some ground and pound and the referee steps in to end it! What a knockout! Wow!
Interesting start to the fight as Penne lands some quick strikes to rattle KK early. Penne throws a kick that KK catches and Penne falls backwards, which allows KK to throw some big leg kicks while she’s down. She chooses to engage on the ground and Penne is able to sweep her and take top position. She lands some decent strikes from the top and KK fights well from the bottom and attacks a kneebar, but Penne scrambles well and eventually rolls through into an armbar. KK is looking to extend the arm and is attacking the body to free up KK’s grip but she’s battling hard. Penne finally manages to extend the arm and gets the tap! Impressive performance from the veteran!
Alonzo Menifield def Ed Herman via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Menifield comes out fast with some heavy right hands but Herman just about avoids them, before Menifield lands some nice leg kicks. Herman lands a jab, but Menifield responds with one of this own before an overhand just misses again. Herman jab again but Menifield just misses with the counter right and Herman lands a check-left hook that rattles Menifield and cuts the eye. Menifield starting to throw the jab more but Herman throwing with him, so Menifield throws a hard low kick again. Menifield lands two more big leg kicks and gets some big reactions from Herman because of it. 10-9 Menifield.
Herman comes forward very aggressive out of the gate in this round looking to land his left hand, but Menifield moving well and then lands a big right hand of his own. Herman lands a jab but then eats a hard low kick and a jab himself. Menifield loses balance and falls but explodes back up to his feet and then starts throwing bombs of his right hand. Herman is hurt but still standing and Menfield stops pushing for the finish to save himself. Herman lands a big uppercut himself but Menifield eats it. A few hard leg kicks again from Menifield and some good footwork to avoid Herman who’s hunting him right now. Another hard leg kick and Herman is limping badly and forced to switch stances. Lots of jostling in the final seconds but then Herman goes for a push kick and Menifield moves away and then smashes a hard low kick again that drops Herman on the buzzer. 20-18 Menifield.
Menifield comes out hard in the final round and Herman pulls guard immediately but eats some heavy ground and pound shots. Menifield moves to side control, lands some strikes then gets up and tells Herman to get back up too. Menifield staying very patient and lands a nice left hand against the cage, but Herman is just looking to survive right now by circling and avoiding damage. Big head kick from Menifield lands but not much action in this round so far. Big right hand from Menifield lands clean but Herman is still standing somehow. Big one-two from Menifield as he stays on the outside. Big right hand misses and Herman lands a left but Menifield lands a jab and moves away to end the fight. 30-27 Menifield.
Cagey start to this fight from both men, with Morales stepping forward but not throwing much and Rodriguez just flicking out the stiff jab well. Morales throws a decent right overhand to counter Rodriguez’s jab, but the jab lands cleaner and is doing a fair bit of damage to the nose. Morales keeping Rodriguez pinned to the cage but he’s moving well and then Rodriguez lands a nice right hand to create himself some space. Right overhand and uppercut just misses from Morales before he ducks under a Rodriguez shot and secures a body lock to try and get the takedown. Rodriguez does well to get to the cage though and then separates to stay on the feet. Short exchange and Rodriguez lands a flush right hand on the buzzer. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.
Second round starts very well for Morales as he catches a low kick from Rodriguez and throws a straight right hand down the pipe that drops him! He goes to ground but Rodriguez defends and he then steps up and allows Rodriguez back to his feet. Rodriguez lands a short left hook back on the feet and then he goes for a takedown of his own, but Morales defends mostly until Rodriguez switches to a single but then he scrambles back up to his feet. Rodriguez then sweeps him back down but Morales gets back up quickly again before being dumped down and getting back up. Morales starting to land his right hands but Rodriguez responds with a low leg kick and a right hand. Short one-two lands from Rodriguez before a left hook lands again, but Morales is still in there and doing well. 20-18 Rodriguez for me.
Cagey start to the third round once again as Morales starts to come forward a bit more aggressively, but Rodriguez landing his straight right hand well. Both men throwing at a similar volume and Rodriguez goes for a takedown but it’s denied. Morales starts chasing but Rodriguez avoiding a lot of damage with good footwork. Morales goes for the takedown but Rodriguez defends it brilliantly against the cage and then misses with a head kick. Final minute of the fight now and Morales is pushing forward throwing heavy left hands, but they’re largely missing. Rodriguez lands a big counter right hand and then Morales lands a big left as the fight comes to an end. Morales round, but 29-28 Rodriguez for me. Could go either way though.
Rafael Fiziev def Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Cagey start from both men as Fiziev looks to land some kicks early but Green is out of the way relatively easily. Nice right hand from Green lands as Fiziev looks to throw another body kick and two hooks. Left hand from Green misses then Fiziev charges forward with a nice combination that ends with a kick, but he mostly misses. Green is landing some slick shots but Fiziev is dangerous and busy with his kicks and then just misses with an elbow. Right hand and body kick lands from Green but Fiziev responds with a nice elbow before both men make each other miss just on the buzzer. Really tough round to score, 10-9 Green probably but really could be either way.
Second round and Fiziev lands a hard low kick and a big right hook but Green eats it. Green clinches up but eats an elbow before responding with a nice right of his own, before Fiziev steps forward with two hooks. Green catches a kick and tries to force Fiziev down but he stays standing so well and steps forward again with hooks and kicks. Green is slipping strikes perfectly but he’s eating leg and body kicks more frequently now. Both men land big body kicks but Fiziev then lands a big strike that rocks Green. Fiziev throws knees and hooks but Green eats it and pushes him away, then clinches after avoiding a head kick. Fiziev’s kicks starting to take effect but Green is still there and throwing hands back well. Both guys trade leg kicks then Fiziev lands a big elbow and cuts Green. Both guys throwing hooks and jabs and really going to war. What a round. 19-19 for me.
Fire start to the final round once again as Fiziev steps forward again and lands a big right hand that rocks Green. Green stands firm and both men start throwing down in the centre of the octagon. Fiziev throws some hard leg kicks but Green throwing one-twos down the middle again. Fiziev and Green going to war with hard hooks and feints. Green lands some big hooks and two one-twos of his own down the middle. Fiziev throwing body and leg kicks but Green is still pushing forward with big punches of his own. Green looks fresher and is landing the jabs and then catches Fiziev’s body kick attempt to land a knee to the body of his own. Huge short elbow from Fiziev and then Green lands some huge bombs with the right hand as the fight ends! What a crazy fight. 29-28 Green for me, but it’s all on that first round.
Song Yadong def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Fast start to the fight as Yadong steps forward and throws fast combinations early, while Kenney looks to close the distance and pressure Yadong. Body kick from Kenney lands but Yadong catches it. Kenney taunts Yadong by laughing at him so Yadong throws a solid body kick and Kenney responds with a hard low leg kick. Yadong throwing good combinations and kicks, not allowing Kenney to settle and back him against the fence. Yadong goes for a kick but slips and Kenney jumps on him immediately, but Yadong works his way back up to the feet quickly and escapes. Both guys just miss with big hooks as the round ends. 10-9 Yadong.
Second starts off exactly the same as Yadong steps forward but Kenney looking to apply pressure. Nice body shots from Yadong and then Kenney replies with a nice left hook onto the chin. Kenney forcing Yadong backwards and throwing low kicks, but Yadong replies with his own low kicks too. Yadong circling away but Kenney is pushing and Yadong is slowing down. Not a single takedown attempt yet from Kenney is surprising. Nice left hand from Kenney but then Yadong replies with a nice right. Two left hands land from Kenney and Yadong clinches against the cage, before Kenney switches and goes for the takedown himself to end the round. Closer round, 19-19.
Final round and Yadong is landing his strikes better, with Kenney slowing down a little and being less bouncy and mobile. Yadong with three hard body kicks but Kenney continues to come forward and looking to land jabs. Kenney throws a head kick and the knee connects with the head but Yadong eats it and comes forward. Good body shots from Yadong and Kenney shoots for a takedown, but Yadong sprawls and denies him. Yadong lands a jab and two body kicks but Kenney throws a nice right hook. Final minute and Kenney goes for the takedown again but Yadong sprawls once more. Kenney ducks under a strike and secures a takedown with seconds left and lands some big elbows from the top to end the round. I think that’s 29-28 Yadong but that’s a really close fight again.
Tecia Torres def Angela Hill via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Good start to the fight from Torres as she gets herself into range and lands some nice strikes and flurries. Hill looks to clinch up and then catches a kick to put Torres on the ground then looks to hold her down, but Torres does really well to get up and out of it. Hard leg kick from Torres on Hill, who comes forward with a one-two and a head kick attempt but they all miss. Torres shoots for a takedown but Hill gets immediately back up. Torres lands a body kick then just misses with a spinning back fist. Torres ducks under a strike and goes for a takedown but bails and lands some big strikes, but Hill replies with three of her own. Big kicks from Torres to end the round as Hill tries for a takedown. 10-9 Torres.
Hill pushing the pressure in the second round as Torres uses her side kicks to push her away and keep the range between them. Hill lands two nice strikes as Torres looks for a kick, but then she lands a big check-right hook and pivots away. Big side kick to the body again from Torres and then two big hooks. She goes for the kick again but Hill catches it and pulls her in for a body lock and takedown attempt, before landing some knees against the cage and a right hand on the break. Head kick from Torres and Hill grabs for the clinch. Hill throws knees but Torres avoids most of them and lands some huge hooks of her own in the clinch before they break. Wild exchange from both ladies and Hill gets the better of it with a big left hand. Big flurry ends with Torres on her back and Hill moves into mount immediately but the round ends. 20-18 Torres for me.
Final round and Hill is coming forward aggressively again and looks to clinch and trip her. Torres too quick though and is moving well, landing nice right hands well. Hill putting the pressure on and sprawls to deny a Torres takedown then lands a nice right hand. Torres goes for a kick that Hill catches again and lands a big right hand down the middle, but Torres keeps throwing strikes in return. Nice right hand from Hill and then a knee in the clinch but Torres breaks away. Big lunging right hand from Torres lands again before Hill goes in for a takedown but gets denied. Torres changes levels and gets a takedown with 20 seconds to go and lands some good ground strikes before the buzzer goes. 30-27 Torres for me, competitive but pretty straight forward.
Vicente Luque def Michael Chiesa via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 1 (3:25)
Very cagey start to the round with Chiesa circling on the outside and Luque holding the centre. Hard low kick lands from Luque and Chiesa fires off a big one-two that cuts Luque’s eye immediately. Luque comes forward hard and Chiesa ducks under and gets the takedown. Immediately he slides the knee over and takes the back to start searching for a rear naked choke. He has a crank in tight but Luque fights the hands and Chiesa switches to an armbar but loses it. As they go to get up to the feet Luque sinks in a d’arce choke and it’s tight! Chiesa tries to fight it but Luque tightens it and Chiesa taps! Wow!
Jose Aldo def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to the fight from Munhoz as he takes the centre and throws a couple of hard leg kicks. Head kick attempt misses from Munhoz and then Aldo makes him miss with the hands too. Nice one-two from Aldo and then a straight right lands nicely too. Nasty left hook to the body from Aldo and a jab, but Munhoz still has the centre and is throwing bombs with his right hand. Nice right hand from Munhoz and he’s swinging for the stands, but Aldo counters with a body shot and uppercut. 10-9 Aldo.
Munhoz coming very aggressive again with some leg kicks but Aldo is checking them and then throws one of his own. Munhoz stepping in with more leg kicks and a looping right hand but Aldo hangs in there and fires back with a big right hand before a combination to the body. Aldo’s jab is landing well and defensively he looks sound as usual, with Munhoz struggling to land anything of note so far. Aldo checks a leg kick then goes back for the body combination, but Munhoz’s leg kicks are still there and he’s still in Aldo’s face. Aldo fakes the right knee and lands a big right straight as the round ends. Another close round, but I think that’s 20-18 Aldo.
Final round and Munhoz comes out with a big blitz early on. Aldo returns fire with a beautiful combo of his own before Munhoz clinches up. Aldo working the jab again as Munhoz goes for a spinning capoeira kick and misses. Triple jab from Aldo lands and he follows it with a big combination to the chin. Hard low kick from Aldo but Munhoz responds with a hard right hand and Ado retreats a little. Big leg kick from Aldo drops Munhoz and he follows it up with two hard right hands that cut Munhoz over the eye. Aldo lands a three-punch combo and follows it with a leg kick that gets a big reaction from Munhoz again. Final 30 seconds and Munhoz goes for a big spinning wheel kick before Aldo hits him with another big combo and leg kick to see the fight out. Should be a big win for Aldo. 30-27.
Ciryl Gane def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 3 (4:11)
Lewis opens the fight with a high kick and slips and then Gane slides a right hand in on his way back up. Gane bouncing, with some light leg kicks and pokes to the knee as Lewis starts to step forward. Lewis changes levels to load up his right hand but Gane scoots out of the way and evades before he even throws. Leg kicks from Gane once again and then Lewis throws a right hand to the body. Lewis goes for an inside leg kick but catches the cup flush and causes a pause in the action. Lewis steps forward again and Gane immediately ducks under and clinches up before they break. Lewis swings a big right hand again but Gane literally runs away from it before resetting. Big right hand from Gane before a hard low kick and then a stiff jab to the face as the round ends. 10-9 Gane.
Second round and Gane once again comes out with his jab landing flush. Lewis lands a hard leg kick and then tries a flying switch kick but Gane is too quick and is gone before he gets there. Gane with some more short kicks to the leg before Lewis explodes and tries to rush Gane, only for Gane to throw him off to the side. Flying knee attempt from Gane sees them end up in a clinch and Gane throwing big knees to the thighs and overpowering Lewis against the cage. Gane lets a big elbow and right hand fly but both just miss as the round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Some heavy leg kicks land from Gane to open the round before a right hand over the top just clips Lewis. Another hard leg kick, then another and then another as Lewis struggles to get any sort of offense going. High kick from Lewis is blocked and then Lewis goes to clinch up, but once again Gane just stuffs his attemts. Knee to the body in the clinch and then a big leg kick again and Lewis is hurt bad! Gane goes in for the finish and lands some huge strikes to the head and Lewis is covering up. Lewis throws a few haymakers but misses wildly and then Gane throws a big knee and more strikes that drop Lewis. He gets on top and lands some bombs and the referee steps in! It’s allll over! Ciryl Gane with a huge knockout win. What a performance.
The UFC heavyweight division moves a step closer to naming a solidified number one contender as Derrick Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265.
After a deal with Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones couldn’t be found, the UFC moved to keep the division moving and will see the number two and three ranked heavyweights battle it out in the main event with the winner essentially guaranteeing themselves the next shot at the belt.
In the co-main event Jose Aldo continues his push for bantamweight greatness when he takes on Pedro Munhoz, while the welterweight division looks to create a new contender too as Michael Chiesa takes on Vicente Luque.
We skipped last week’s Hall vs Strickland card, which means we remain on 374/387 correct picks (63.71%) with 165 perfect picks (44.12%).
We’ll look to improve on that now with this 13-fight card and after starting with the early prelims here, we move onto the rest of the prelims here.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6) vs Jessica Penne (13-6) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
An intriguing strawweight fight to open the prelims here as Kowalkiewicz looks to snap a four-fight losing streak against the veteran Penne. KK hasn’t won a fight since a split decision over Felice Herrig in 2018 while Penne earned herself a win last time out against Lupita Godinez back in April.
KK is a good kickboxer with her kicks really excellent, and her takedown defence has improved greatly even in defeat. Penne is a grappler who moves to control her opponent on the ground, pound them out a bit until she can find the submission opportunity.
Penne is on an upwards wave of momentum while KK has flirted with the idea of retirement already and that doesn’t bode well. While KK’s takedown defence has improved, it hasn’t improved enough and Penne will win this via a decision after racking up some top control. PICK – Jessica Penne via Decision
Alonzo Menifield (10-2) vs Ed Herman (27-14) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Menifield is an absolute powerhouse with genuine knockout power who has good wrestling too and showed a new submission game last time out. Herman is a great wrestler himself but his striking leaves plenty to be desired and if he’s going to close the distance to try and claim takedowns he’s putting himself into the danger zone.
Menifield has good cardio but his power means this likely won’t go that far and he should claim an impressive knockout. PICK – Alonzo Menifield via Knockout, Round 1
Vince Morales (9-5) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Yet another top bantamweight bout on the card as both these fighters look to get back in the win column. Morales has lost his last two, last losing to Chris Gutierrez in May 2020 via leg kicks, while Rodriguez suffered defeat last time out via knockout to Aiemann Zahabi at UFC Vegas 19.
Morales is a good boxer with a very solid right hand, while Rodriguez has shown his ability on the feet but also on the ground too with plenty of skills in the submission realm of fights. Rodriguez has solid kicks and with Morales’ problems with low kicks that could be a serious problem too. That said, Morales’ right hand has the ability to end the night early, especially if Rodriguez makes the same mistakes he did against Zahabi.
Despite that though, Rodriguez has shown in the past that he’s pretty tight defensively and has a very well-rounded game. That gives me confidence that he can avoid the heavy right hand and just mix it up enough to earn a comfortable decision win to get back on the horse. PICK – Drako Rodriguez via Decision
Bobby Green (27-11-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Green is a really exciting fighter who is well rounded throughout. He has good striking with excellent volume and some excellent wrestling defence as he showed in his win over Clay Guida. Fiziev on the other hand is a stunning striker, who uses kicks brilliantly but also is a powerful puncher with heavy low kicks. His feints are excellent and he’s so fast that his countering is an easy path to victory in this one.
Green is game and 12 of his last 13 fights, including the last nine in a row, have gone to decision. With that said, I can’t see Fiziev getting ground out on the ground and on the feet it’s a no contest, so I think Fiziev takes the decision. PICK – Rafael Fiziev via Decision
In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.
Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.
Maki Pitolo (13-7) vs Julian Marquez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An interesting middleweight bout between Pitolo and the returning Marquez, who makes his first appearance in the octagon since July 2018.
Pitolo is 1-3 in the UFC, including losses in his last two against Darren Stewart and Impa Kasanganay, while Marquez lost a split decision to Alessio Di Chirico before tearing his latissimum dorsi muscle and being told he’d never fight again.
Pitolo is a good grappler and good striker, pretty well rounded all over while Marquez was a relatively hittable striker back in the day. The fact he hasn’t fought for so long is worrying but he has a power advantage from what he had in the past and with Pitolo happy to take a punch to give a punch, that could land him in trouble. It’s tough to call, but I’ll lean with the power of Marquez. PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2
Ricky Simon (17-3) vs Brian Kelleher (22-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A quick turnaround for Simon as he takes on ‘Bam Bam’ Kelleher in the featherweight division.
Simon got a win on Fight Island last month with a fantastic performance and submission win against Gaetano Pirrello, while Kelleher went 3-1 in 2020 including a 39 second submission win over Ray Rodriguez back in October.
Simon is a fantastic wrestler, who applies phenomenal pressure and looks to work his submission game once he gets down there while Kelleher is a powerful striker who has a violent guillotine in his locker too. Kelleher’s wrestling isn’t awful, but Simon has a huge advantage in that area. He has shown a wobbly chin before and Kelleher has finished all but one of his wins in the UFC. With that said, Simon’s wrestling is so good I do expect he’ll get the takedowns in a safe way to avoid the guillotine chokes and dominate from top position for a decision win. PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision
Jim Miller (32-15) vs Bobby Green (27-11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Miller is a submission monster, with 18 wins coming by way of tap-out in his career. He’s excellent on the mat but he comes up against Green who has been excellent on the feet in his most recent fights but has also shown fantastic grappling defence and solid wrestling.
Green has power to hurt Miller and a speed advantage, so I expect Green should be able to out land Miller on the feet an keep the fight standing with his takedown defence so I expect a decision win. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Kelvin Gastelum (15-6 1NC) vs Ian Heinisch (14-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A middleweight clash that will see two men battling to get back on track to work their way up the rankings in the 185lbs division. Gastelum put together a decent run at middleweight before losing to Israel Adesanya in the interim title fight, before losing to Darren Till and then getting ankle-picked by Jack Hermansson in July in just 78 seconds. Heinisch lost two in a row at the back end of 2019 before bouncing back with a win over Gerald Meerschaert in June.
Gastelum is a heavy handed striker with a good wrestling background, while Heinisch is very similar in style. In a very even match up, the difference between the two is generally in the cardio department where Gastelum rarely gasses out. Heinisch is the crisper striker of the two but Gastelum has a speed advantage and is coming back with a point to prove after three losses in a row.
It’s a really close fight and there’s not much in it either way, but I think Gastelum’s power and speed could be enough to get him a close decision win once the fight gets into the later rounds. PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Decision
Maycee Barber (8-1) vs Alexa Grasso (12-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The return of Maycee Barber is the co-main event of this event as she takes on Alexa Grasso in the women’s flyweight division. Barber was 8-0 before losing her last fight to Roxanne Modafferi, where she tore her ACL in the second round and got dominated on the ground. Grasso has alternated wins and losses since 2016, with a win in her last bout against Ji Yeon Kim in August last year.
Both women are great strikers with Barber having a big power advantage, but Grasso’s boxing is arguably more polished. Barber is bigger physically, stronger, faster and just has a lot of advantages in this bout. While Grasso is a good talent in her own right, she’s been set up to fail in this one.
Barber should return to the octagon with a statement win here, and I expect a one-sided display for ‘The Future’. PICK – Maycee Barber via Knockout, Round 2
Kamaru Usman (17-1) vs Gilbert Burns (19-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The welterweight division can finally move on from this match up after this weekend as ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ takes on his long-time teammate Gilbert Burns for the title. Usman is undefeated in the UFC and has won 16 fights in a row in total, defeating Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington before dominating Jorge Masvidal last time out. Burns is on a six-fight win streak of his own, with wins over Demian Maia and Woodley himself in his last two fights to set this bout up.
The two trained together for many years under Henry Hooft but when this fight was made, Usman went to work with Justin Gaethje and Trevor Wittman which means his striking will almost certainly have improved while he’s been away. Burns is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who has started leaning on his knockout power more in recent times, because he’s so confident on the ground.
He’s going to need that grappling more than ever in this one, with Usman’s style always to back his opponent up to the cage then use his incredible physicality to get a takedown and dominate on the ground. He showed in his fight with Covington that he has a great chin and knockout power too and while Burns will cause him problems from the bottom, Usman is a level above any welterweight in the world and should win this one. PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision
After the fun of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a 12 fight card with some interesting fights including a featherweight clash between Bryce Mitchell and Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili in the co-main event.
Last weekend at UFC 254, I got 9/12 picks correct with five perfect picks. Since starting my predictions back in June, my current record stands at 145/222 total picks, with 67 perfect picks in that time. I will look to improve that this week with these picks.
Bobby Green (27-10-1) vs Thiago Moises (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Bobby Green comes into this fight on his first three-fight win streak since 2014 to take on Thiago Moises who has alternated wins and losses since his win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2018. Green beat Clay Guida in June, then defeated Lando Vannata in August and Alan Patrick in September while Moises’ last fight was a win over Michael Johnson back in May via submission. It’s a true veteran vs up-and-comer fight and in this instance the advantages are with the experienced fighter. On the feet, Green has more power and so long as he keeps up his rejuvenation when it comes to volume he should win those exchanges. His wrestling is excellent too and he is notoriously hard to take down, meaning Moises will find it hard to use his superb jiu-jitsu. I think Green will be able to keep the fight standing and use his superior striking to get another decision win. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Greg Hardy (6-2 1NC) vs Maurice Greene (9-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Greg Hardy has the MMA world in the palm of his hand because of his reputation rather than his talent. The former NFL star has done reasonably well in MMA since turning professional a few years ago and losing his UFC debut via disqualification. His only fight this calendar year got him back in the win column, when he outlasted Yorgan De Castro for a decision. Maurice Greene however is 1-1 in 2020, losing via submission to Aleksei Oleynik before defeating Gian Villante via submission in June. Both these fighters have similar issues with either not being able to last three rounds when trying to KO someone, or not being able to KO someone when trying to last three rounds. Since that’s the case, Hardy will need to avoid Greene’s submission game by keeping the fight standing and trying to just out-strike him which I think he should be able to do. PICK – Greg Hardy via Decision
Kevin Holland (19-5) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
This is a fight that has been put together on very short notice and due to that is a complete mismatch. Kevin Holland is 4-0 in 2020 and was looking to blast his way into the Top 15 with a short-notice win over Makhmud Muradov. The Uzbekistan fighter pulled out due to a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday though and Charlie Ontiveros has stepped up on three day’s notice to make his UFC debut. ‘The American Bad Boy’ has won his last two fights via first round knockout but hasn’t fought yet in 2020. Holland is on a hot-streak and I expect his showmanship will be on full display once again. He’s bigger, better on the feet and good enough not to be taken down to find out if he’s better on the mat or not. Holland blasts his way through his new opponent in one round with a flurry of punches after a knockdown. PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 1
Bryce Mitchell (13-0) vs Andre Fili (21-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This fight has got fight of the night written all over it as the undefeated Bryce Mitchell takes on UFC veteran Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili in the co-main event. Mitchell has won all four of his fights in the octagon, including winning via twister submission against Matt Sayles back in December last year. He followed that up with a convincing decision win over Charles Rosa in May too. Fili is a super well rounded fighter, who is 3-2 in his last five fights in the octagon, including a win in his last fight against Charles Jourdain. It’s a typical fight where both guys strengths are the other fighter’s weakness. Bryce Mitchell is a demon on the ground, with all his wins inside the distance coming via submission while Fili has a huge advantage on the feet with his jab and boxing skills. The likelihood all-in-all though is that Mitchell can get this fight to the ground eventually and he will take over. Fili has a habit of being comfortable working off his back and if he does that then Mitchell will have a field day. PICK – Bryce Mitchell via Decision
Uriah Hall (15-9) vs Anderson Silva (34-10 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The end of the career of greatest middleweight of all time is upon us and Uriah Hall is the man chosen to put the final nail in the coffin of Anderson Silva. After going 16-0 in the UFC, his loss to Chris Weidman was the start of a bad downward spiral. Since then, Silva has one win in his last eight fights and even that was incredibly controversial against Derek Brunson. Both men are dynamic and exciting strikers but Silva is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt of over a decade. His best chance to win this fight is via submission, something he hasn’t done since he forced Chael Sonnen to tap out way back in 2010. Hall is the more powerful striker at this point but Silva hasn’t lost his chin yet. His knockout against Weidman was a complete fluke and his other two TKO losses on his record were due to leg injuries. Despite that, Hall hits really hard and will likely head hunt to some extent. He had enough power to knock down Paulo Costa (unofficially) in their fight two years ago so I can’t imagine he won’t be able to do the same to Silva. PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3
The UFC looks to get back on track with another card at the APEX in Las Vegas this weekend as Michelle Waterson takes on Angela Hill in the main event.
Originally scheduled to be headlined by Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira, that bout was postponed after Glover tested positive for COVID-19. However after last weeks card fell apart at the last minute and ended up with just 7 fights, the UFC are making up for it with a 12 fight card this weekend.
Sabina Mazo (8-1) vs Justine Kish (7-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting fight to open the card with, as the ‘Colombian Queen’ Mazo looks to make it three wins in a row against Justine Kish. Kish will be entering the octagon for a sixth time, having lost two in a row before bouncing back with a decision win in her last bout against Lucie Pudilova. Mazo lost her UFC debut to Maryna Moroz but returned to form with back-to-back decisions over Shana Dobson and J.J. Aldrich. Mazo will have a six-inch reach advantage plus a technical advantage in the striking game and while Kish is a good wrestler and excellent on top, her takedown game needs work and she’ll struggle to get this to the mat. Due to this, Mazo should be able to pick her off from range to secure a decision win. PICK – Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision
Bryan Barbarena (14-7) vs Anthony Ivy (8-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Another fun fight on the prelims, this time in the welterweight division as ‘Bam Bam’ Barbarena looks to bounce back from two defeats in a row as he takes on Anthony Ivy, who was knocked out in under a minute of his UFC debut. With both fighters looking to get back into the win column, it’s a true grappler vs striker affair. Barbarena is known for his knockout power, with 10 of his 14 wins coming by way of knockout, while Ivy is a super wrestler who looks to get the fight down as quickly as possible to avoid striking on the feet. The issue in Ivy’s last bout was that he didn’t get the chance to try and wrestler before Christian Aguilera annihilated him, so Barbarena will surely look to employ a similar tactic. If he can, Ivy will go out once again to the power. If he can’t, Ivy should be able to secure a takedown relative easily. The problem is, ‘Bam Bam’ is so aggressive I can’t see him being able to get the takedown before he takes a few big shots. PICK – Bryan Barbarena via Knockout, Round 1
Jalin Turner (9-5) vs Brok Weaver (15-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fight that has been changed at the very last second before this was published, as Frank ‘The Crank’ Camacho has withdrawn due to a positive COVID-19 test and Jalin Turner steps in on short-notice to fight Brok Weaver. Weaver is a former bare-knuckle fighter who has good knockout power in his hands, while Turner was due to fight last weekend against Thiago Moises before that fight fell apart. Turner has 9 stoppages in his 9 wins and uses his impressive reach to stay out of range and land shots. Weaver has great durability but considering his past, he lacks knockout power. If he can’t stay out of the way and last the full 15 minutes against Turner, he’ll likely get knocked out. PICK – Jalin Turner via Knockout, Round 2
Bobby Green (26-10-1) vs Alan Patrick (15-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
After two wins in six weeks for Bobby Green, he steps in on just two weeks notice to take on Alan Patrick who fights for the first time in just under two years. Green outworked Clay Guida in June before putting in a fight of the night performance to avenge his draw with Lando Vannata. He showed great striking in both fights but also an ability to stay on his feet against a grinder who wants to put him on the mat. He will need to do similar in this fight because Patrick is far more reliant on a takedown than either of those two. On the feet he’s almost completely lost and unless he’s improved significantly in his two years away, he will need the performances of a lifetime to beat Green, even on just two weeks notice. PICK – Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision
Roosevelt Roberts (10-2) vs Matt Frevola (8-1-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
After his win on Dana White’s Contender Series, Roberts has gone 4-2 in the UFC but lost his last fight against veteran Jim Miller when he was submitted via armbar in the first round. Frevola has won his last two fights in a row, but his last bout was almost a year ago when he defeated Luis Pena via split decision. Frevola’s greatest strength is his wrestling and he will surely look to secure a takedown in this fight but he will need to mind his neck. Roberts has a tremendous guillotine and is happy to use it at any time. On the feet he has the range and technical advantages, while he’s also no slouch on the ground. Frevola doesn’t have the power that Vinc Patel had when he beat Roberts and he’s not as slick on the mat as Jim Miller. I see Roberts having an advantage in most places, so it would need a perfect performance from Frevola to win. PICK – Roosevelt Roberts via Submission, Round 2
Julia Avila (8-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (5-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Originally scheduled to fight Karol Rosa last weekend, Sijara Eubanks has made a quick turnaround after it was cancelled at the last minute and will now take on Julia Avila. Avila’s last fight ended in just 22 seconds when she demolished Gina Mazany with strikes back in June. Much like the bout for last weekend, Eubanks is a great boxer with a black-belt in jiu jitsu and solid wrestling, while Avila is a high-level Muay-Thai kickboxer who relies on a crazy output to overwhelm her opponents and win by decision. Eubanks’ best performances came in the 125lbs flyweight division and yet she went 3-2 in that division. Avila has won three of her last four via stoppage but Eubanks has never been finished. Avila should have enough about her to get a win although a finish is probably pushing it a bit too far. PICK – Julia Avila via Unanimous Decision
Matt Schnell (14-5) vs Tyson Nam (19-11-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The featured bout of the prelims sees a demon grappler in Matt Schnell come up against one of the hardest punchers in the division in Tyson Nam. Nam fought most recently in June, with a stunning knockout inside 32 seconds ending the night early for Zarrukh Adashev, while Schnell won four-in-a-row before he was flattened by Alexandre Pantoja back in December. All three of Schnell’s UFC defeats have come via first round knockout but his game mostly revolves around the mat. He has 8 submission wins in his career, including his two most recent victories. Nam though, has over 30 professional fights and has never been submitted. His takedown defence is excellent and his counter-strikes are lethal. He has enough power to put Schnell’s lights out early considering ‘Danger’ has had issues with power punchers in the past, Nam should find confidence in landing at any point in the fight. PICK – Tyson Nam via Knockout, Round 2