Tag Archives: Brad Riddell

UFC Vegas 44: Font vs Aldo – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Vince Morales def Louis Smolka via Knockout, Round 1 (2:02)

Good early start from both guys as Smolka lands a low kick or two while Morales lands a few jabs cleanly and then goes to the body too. Smolka trying to push the pace and step forward, but Morales evading relatively easily and landing some nice strikes of his own. Smolka goes to clinch with a knee and as they separate Morales lands a huge right hand that puts Smolka out cold face first! He follows up with a couple but the referee stops it quickly and that’s that! What a KO!

Claudio Puelles def Chris Gruetzemacher via Submission (Kneebar), Round 3 (3:25)

Hard body kick to open up the fight for Puelles, but Gruetzemacher fires back with one of his own. Puelles shoots for a takedown and gets it, ending up on top and working from full guard. Gruetzemacher defending well from his back, taking very little damage. He throws up a lazy armbar which Puelles uses to pass guard and try to take the back, but Gruetzemacher gets his back to the cage and staying calm while fighting hands. Puelles steps over and moves into full mount and starts raining down elbows and strikes. Gruetzemacher avoiding most of the strikes and gets half guard back well and survives the round well. 10-9 Puelles.

Puelles opens up with kicks again and then goes for a couple of lazy takedowns again. Gruetzemacher denies it but rather than keeping the fight standing he tries to transition and ends up on top but not doing much offensively. Puelles throws up a triangle as a threat but Gruetzemacher defends well and eventually they get back to the feet. Puelles lands some big kicks and a nice left hand before another lazy takedown attempt that Gruetzemacher denies easily. Puelles trying to throw some hard head kicks but Gruetzemacher avoiding damage and lands some low kicks of his own. Clinch against the cage and Puelles lands some nice elbows and knees before switching levels for a takedown but it’s not a good attempt and the round ends. Probably 19-19 but could be 20-18 Puelles.

Final round and Gruetzemacher comes forward more aggressively and looks for a knee in the clinch but accidentally lands a low blow to cause a pause in the action. Restarted now and Gruetzemacher coming forward again with more volume. Nice body shots and a left hand before Puelles shoots and it gets sprawled. Some nice short elbows in the clinch by Gruetzemacher force another shot but he sprawls and then spins on to the back of Puelles for a few strikes before they get back to the feet. Gruetzemacher gets a nice foot sweep to be on top but Puelles goes for a leg and tries for a heel hook but Gruetzemacher defends it and ends up on the back. Nice ground and pound but Puelles rolls for the leg again and extends a straight kneebar to get the tap! Big win for Puelles!

William Knight def Alonzo Menifield via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Knight comes out quickly and goes straight for a takedown attempt but Menifield is able to sweep him as he hits the ground and ends up in side control. Knight manages to slip out around the back and tries to get into mount quickly before moving to the back and looking to lock in a rear-naked choke. Menifield defends it well and explodes back to the feet himself before they clinch up against the fence. Knight holding on to the neck of Menifield to stay standing, but Menifield doing well to stay out of a guillotine and force Knight to continue defending. Menifield throws a right hand but Knight counters with a big left hook that drops him! He goes for the finish but the buzzer goes and he survives. 10-9 Knight. Great round.

Menifield opens with a low kick and then a big strike that sends Knight backwards and literally running away from Menifield. Menifield lands a big right hand flush that wobbles Knight, but he stays patient then throws a low kick. Nice left hook from Menifield again and Knight looks very hesitant to throw now. Knight throwing wild strikes but missing hugely and Menifield staying calm and just looking to pick Knight off a little bit now. Left hand landing well for Menifield again and Knight doesn’t really have an answer for it. Knight explodes with the right hand with 15 seconds to go and starts going wild again but doesn’t land flush and the round ends. Definitely a Menifield round. 19-19.

Both guys look more hesitant in this round as they clinch up and Menifield pushes Knight to the cage. Menifield holding Knight against the cage and not much happening as we hit the halfway point of the round. 90 seconds left and it’s just more of the same position for this round. Separation as we get into the final minute and Knight goes for a flying knee. Some wild head kicks miss and Menifield stays on the outside for the rest of the round to likely earn a victory.

PRELIMS

Cheyanne Vlismas def Mallory Martin via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Fast start to the fight from both women as Martin takes the centre and they start throwing hands. Some beautiful combos from Vlismas land but Martin is trading back and landing some shots of her own. Vlismas defending against Martin’s strikes well and landing some excellent counter strikes from the outside. Martin in the centre and start to fake some strikes but Vlismas reading well and countering. Martin lands a beautiful short left hook and Vlismas clinches up to throw some short uppercuts and dirty boxing before stepping out of the way again. Lovely right hand lands again as the rounds closes out. 10-9 Vlismas.

Fast start again from Vlismas as she steps forward with fast combinations again and excellent lateral movement. Martin standing in the centre again but she’s being more hesitant to throw now. Nice right hand, left high kick combo from Vlismas lands sbut Martin continues to come forward and then lands a nice body shot. Vlismas lands a beautiful counter right hand. Martin clinches and starts looking to wrestle a bit, but Vlismas defends it well and keeps it standing for now. Nice knees from both ladies landing but Martin is getting the better of the exchanges. They separate and both land a right hand simultaneously before going back to the pattern of the fight. 20-18 Vlismas.

Martin moves for a takedown early on in the final round but Vlismas defends it brilliantly against the cage again before separating. Beautiful one two lands from Vlismas and Martin goes for another takedown but Vlismas defends it well again. Martin lands some knees in the clinch but Vlismas is able to separate and comes forward with some more clean strikes of her own. Big right hand lands from Vlismas in the exchange and Martin steps back slightly before changing levels and going for a takedown again, but Vlismas keeps her balance and keeps it standing again. Both women landing their jabs together but then Vlismas lands a couple of extra shots that she adds to the end of it. Vlismas’ striking has just been a level ahead and she ends the fight stepping forward with big combinations! Great fight! 30-27 Vlismas for me.

Bryan Barbarena def Darian Weeks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Weeks coming out of the gate confidently throwing lots of kicks but nothing really landing. Barbarena launches forward and Weeks changes levels with a body lock and then secures a takedown, but Barbarena gets back to his feet quickly. Weeks looking very comfortable and throwing plenty of strikes, but Barbarena lands a big inside low kick and gets a big reaction. He throws a few more quickly after and Weeks is limping now, but fighting through it. Change of levels from Weeks as he gets it against the cage, but Barbarena reverses the position and starts chopping at the leg again. Weeks having problems with his leg but still stepping forward. Barbarena staying patient and lands a nice left hand before another heavy low kick to end the round. 10-9 Barbarena.

Weeks comes out early and secures a takedown immediately but Barbarena defends well from his back before eventually getting back to his feet. Weeks continuing to be aggressive but Barbarena using his experience well to stem the tide. Weeks throwing some wild hooks and Barbarena throwing some tired ones of his own and both are landing, but nothing doing too much damage yet it seems. Barbarena lands another hard low kick and starts to go to the body as the round ends. That’s anybody’s round but I lean towards Barbarena again. 20-18.

Barbarena turning the pace up in the final round, coming forward and throwing combinations but Weeks gets another body lock and pushes him against the cage. Nice knee from Barbarena and they trade big hooks before going back into the clinch. Barbarena throws a high kick and slips but he gets back up quickly. Weeks is tired now and Barbarena is coming forward, landing some big hooks to the body and then a left hand to the chin. Weeks lands a couple of hooks of his own but Barbarena eating them and coming forward again with the body shots. Hard low kicks again from Barbarena but Weeks is digging in and landing some big hooks of his own. A few hard strikes land well but Barbarena takes them and fires back with his own. He’s really taken over in this round and is continuing to pour the pressure on in the final minute. Weeks changes levels under a hook and secures a big takedown in the final seconds but Barbarena jumps up and lands a big strike that wobbles Weeks! He moves forward with big swinging strikes that miss as the buzzer goes! Great fight. 30-27 for me but could be 29-28 too with round two being close.



Manel Kape def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Knockout, Round 1 (4:02)

Super fast start to this one as Kape opens with a flying knee attempt before both men trade combinations. Zhumagulov throwing hard leg kicks and hard right overhands and connecting with some, but Kape moving well and landing a few counters of his own. Zhumagulov lands a big right that sends Kape stumbling backwards, but he responds with a nice right hand too. Zhumagulov coming forward hard and fast and pushing the pace but Kape is moving well and countering effectively too. Kape lands a nice body shot and a knee and he starts picking his shots. Hard one-two lands and drops Zhumagulov! Kape steps forward and looking for the finish but staying calm, then lands a huge string of punches that puts Zhumagulov down covering up and the referee steps in! What a knockout! What a performance!

Dusko Todorovic def Maki Pitolo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:34)

Lively start from both guys looking to step in and land first with their jabs and some low kicks. Pitolo lands a low kick and then a big right hand lands flush. Another low kick gets a reaction from Todorovic but he changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Pitolo latches on to the neck and goes for a guillotine but Todorovic stays calm, rides it out and eventually secures top position as he starts to look for ground and pound. Todorovic dominating on the ground and trying to move to a crucifix position while landing big strikes and then he moves into full mount. Todorovic flattens Pitolo out and starts raining down heavy ground and pound until the referee waves it off! Hugely impressive win.

MAIN CARD

Alex Morono def Micky Gall via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Slow start from both guys as Morono takes the centre and tries to feel his way into range before firing a strong right hand to the chin of Gall. Hard low kick from Gall lands but both fighters being very patient and not throwing much early on. Morono lands a nice right hand and then eats a body kick, before firing in another nice one-two that lands on Gall. Lots of feinting and patience and then Morono lands a jab that sits Gall down! Morono goes for the finish but Gall manages to tie him up on the ground by going for a leg lock and recovers enough to get back to his feet at the end of the round. 10-9 Morono.

Gall comes out for the second round with a jab to the body before a nice right hand lands. Morono comes back with a powerful hook himself and then he steps in with a left hook that lands well too. Gall charges forward and lands two big hooks and Morono just misses with a check-left hook counter. Gall continues to come forward with hooks and a jab and he’s fighting very well from range right now. Lovely right hook counter from Morono just clips Gall before he misses with another in the next attack. Gall trying to use his size to be first, but Morono using his technique to match him or even beat him to it. Gall changes levels and shoots for a takedown but Morono sprawls to deny it and ends the round landing a hard left hook. 20-18 Morono.

Big overhand right lands from Morono on Gall, who fires back with a body kick that just misses. Another nice right hand from Morono connects but Gall replies again with a nice double jab followed by a low kick. Morono staying out of range but stepping in quickly when he wants to throw his strikes. Gall misses with a big right hand as we enter the final two minutes. Hard right hand from Morono before both guys trade wild swings in the final minute. Spinning back fist from Morono lands and Gall starting to come forward with his hands down. Both guys swing wildly as the buzzer goes, should be comfortable for Morono.

Chris Curtis def Brendan Allen via Knockout, Round 2 (1:58)

Fast start from Allen as he comes out with a few strong strikes that just miss before a big takedown attempt sees him pick Curtis up and slam him down, before taking the back. Curtis defends well and they separate quickly though. Curtis lands a nice four-punch combo to the head of Allen but he eats it and comes back with a nice knee. Allen goes for a head kick before Curtis returns with some big strikes again. Hard body kick from Allen before they trade low kicks together. Lead elbow from Allen lands before Curtis lands a nice right hook counter and then goes to the body himself. Head kick from Curtis just misses but he follows it up with a nice one-two. Allen goes for a takedown and then transitions for a leg lock but Curtis defends it well and ends up on top to end the round. Close round, 10-9 Allen for me but only just.

Hard low kick early from Allen drops Curtis to one knee before another hard low kick lands. Both guys trade in the pocket and Allen just misses with a knee. Allen lands a hard body kick but Curtis replies with a nice one-two down the pipe. Both guys trade big right hooks and Allen is wobbled!! Curtis going for the finish and lands a strong knee and Allen goes down again and the referee waves it off! Amazing! What a KO!

Clay Guida def Leonardo Santos via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:21)

Slow start to this one as Santos looks to keep his distance and use his powerful strikes from range. Santos lands a powerful body kick and Guida drops in pain! Santos goes for the kill with huge ground and pound strikes to the head and body but Guida is surviving currently. Santos blasting him with big strikes and the referee is looking closely but Guida is holding a leg and surviving! Guida gets up and manages to create separation and Santos is exhausted! Guida goes on the offensive for the final minute with his crazy pressure and wrestling! What a round! 10-9 Santos.

Guida comes out super aggressive and lands a big left hook then goes for a takedown again. He gets the fight down to the ground quickly and starts blasting knees to the body of Santos who is completely out of it through exhaustion. Guida goes for the neck, takes the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke and forces Santos to tap! Incredible! What a comeback.

Jamahal Hill def Jimmy Crute via Knockout, Round 1 (0:48)

Crute comes out hard with some heavy leg kicks and high kicks but Hill stepping out and avoiding too much damage. Hill fires a hard right hand down the pipe and drops Crute who immediately shoots for a takedown out of instinct. Hill gets some separation and counters with another solid right hook to the chin that puts Crute down and out! One more strike on the ground before the referee gets there and that’s that! Unbelievable from Jamahal Hill! Wow!

Rafael Fiziev def Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3 (2:20)

Tactical start to this one from both guys as they throw out some feelers for each other. Fiziev looks to land one of his trademark head kicks but just misses, before both guys trade hooks. Big exchange of counter strikes from Fiziev in particular as he rips the body with his lead leg. Riddell just misses with a right hand and then slips a kick from Fiziev. Riddell goes for a jab to the body and overhand right but just misses as Fiziev takes the centre and pushes him back against the cage with pressure. Both guys land a big right hook each before Fiziev fires a hard low kick at the end of it. Hard body kicks again from Fiziev before Riddell ends the round with a beautiful combination that sees two strikes land on the chin. Good round, 10-9 Fiziev.

Hard low kick from Riddell opens the round up. Riddell throwing his jab out before committing to combinations, but Fiziev lands a nice right hand counter too. Fiziev lands a jab followed with a step-in elbow that cuts Riddell badly over the eye. Nice left hand from Riddell lands though and then Fiziev lands with a short left hook. Both guys fire the same combination that ends with a left hook at the same time and both land too. Lovely right hook lands from Fiziev and then he goes for a knee but Riddell ties him up in a clinch before they separate. Back to the body kick from Fiziev and that’s the round. 20-18 Fiziev for me but could be 19-19.

Fiziev goes for a low leg kick but Riddell catches it and shoots for a takedown and briefly gets it, but Fiziev pops up to his feet quickly. They clash together again and Fiziev lands a hard right hand in the exchange, but Riddell’s right hand landed too. Big left hook from Riddell lands after a body shot as he starts to get more aggressive in this final round. Riddell changes levels and attempts a takedown but Fiziev denies it, before a big clash of strikes yet again from both guys. Riddell circles away on the outside and Fiziev throws a spinning wheel kick and catches Riddell clean in the face!! Riddell is out on his feet and Herb Dean steps in quickly before any more damage can be done!! WOW! What a KO! Amazing!

Jose Aldo def Rob Font via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x2, 49-46)

Fast start to this fight as Font comes forward and starts to use his jab immediately, following up with one-twos. Aldo lands a body kick before Font charges forward and gets a surprising takedown. Font forcing Aldo to be very defensive in the early going, landing his jab clean and following it with a right hand too. Font just misses with an uppercut but lands a glancing elbow as Aldo looks to step away. Aldo ducks under a straight right and counters with a pull right hand, but Font is putting it on him so far. Big body shot from Aldo lands and both guys trade leg kicks. Font lands his jab again and a nice right hand before Aldo rolls and blocks the follow up strike attempts. Aldo lands a one two straight down the pipe and Font goes down! Aldo goes for the finish but after a couple of shots on the ground the buzzer goes to end the round. Whew. 10-9 Font.

Font coming forward once again behind his jab with a relentless pace trying to offset Aldo’s rhythm. Nice right hand from Font lands but Aldo seems calm. Aldo lands a huge one-two again and the right hand is flush and sends Font backwards reeling, but Aldo goes for a big knee that misses and Font is able to recover. Aldo just misses with a big left uppercut and then blocks a right hook from Font. Right hand lands from Font and gets Aldo’s attention, so he fires back with another hard right hand himself. Font trying to land but he seems to be lacking in power, so Aldo returns with a big right hand again. Font goes for a takedown but Aldo denies it easily, but then eats a right hand. Huge body shot from Aldo. Round ends, what a fight. 19-19.

Aldo has returned to his old ways and lands three very hard low kicks early on that are affecting Font immediately. Nice one-two from Font and then he goes for a takedown that Aldo manages to defend and reverse to end up on top himself. Aldo into side control and lands a nice short elbow before going back into full guard. Font looking to be active from his back but Aldo doing well to control him and minimise the threat. Font gets back to his feet and looks for some combos but Aldo pushes him off. Aldo’s right eye has closed up now but he lands a hard body shot before Font comes over the top with a right hand that just misses. Hard low kick again from Aldo and it drops Font! Another hard one but Font is coming forward again and landing his jab well. Another low kick from Aldo to end the round, but he looks like he’s tiring. 29-28 Aldo.

Font comes aggressively but Aldo rolls with it and lands a huge right hand once again that drops Font! Font is wobbling badly and Aldo going for the finish but Font is scrambling and Aldo eventually settles in side control. Font trying to find a way back to his feet, but Aldo controlling him well and looking to pass. Aldo eventually passes into mount but Font quickly gets full guard back. Aldo looking to get some ground and pound off but Font is defending it well and landing some short elbows of his own off his back. Aldo continuing to control the position on the ground though as the round ends and he’ll take the round. 39-37 Aldo.

Fast start from Font as he comes out swinging hard in combinations to the body and to the head. Aldo looks hesitant and tired now but Font is coming forward much fresher. Font clinches up and Aldo is tying him up against the cage, then Font lands a big elbow. Aldo coming forward and lands a big right hand again before Font clinches again against the cage. Font throwing some strikes but Aldo fairly comfortable with where the fight is currently. Font creates space and lands a big uppercut but Aldo responds with a hard right hand and wobbles Font again! Aldo lands two more and Font goes down but Font ties up Aldo on the mat to try and recover. Aldo gets to his back and gets two hooks in and is seemingly looking for a choke, but he’s not rushing. Aldo locks in a body triangle and is looking for a rear-naked choke with 30 seconds left but Font fights out of it and survives the round to make the buzzer. What a fight. 49-46 Aldo for me.

UFC Vegas 44: Font vs Aldo – Main card predictions

After a two-week break from action, the UFC returns with a very fun 15-fight card at the Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 44, headlined by two top five bantamweights.

Rob Font will look to break through the glass ceiling and become a genuine title contender when he steps into the octagon against former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, who knows a win could set up a dream bout next for himself.

We also get to finally see the exciting bout between Brad Riddell and Rafael Fiziev, while Jimmy Crute and Brendan Allen also return to action on the main card.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 43 we went 6/11 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 482/752 (64.1%) with 202 perfect picks (41.91%).

We’ll look to improve on that this time around and after starting with the early prelims here then moving on to the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Alex Morono (20-7) vs Micky Gall (7-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A very interesting welterweight fight between two guys still looking to make a big impression in the UFC. Morono is on a two-fight win streak after KO’ing Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 26 before a decision win over David Zawada in September. Gall on the other hand has alternated wins and losses since 2016, going 4-3 with a first-round submission win over Jordan Williams in his most recent outing.

Morono is a powerful striker with looping hooks and good timing with his counter strikes, while Gall is a supreme jiu-jitsu grappler with decent wrestling in his back pocket too. Gall has however shown more of a willingness to strike in recent fights, and that is a recipe for trouble in the one. Morono has the power to stop him, but if Gall chooses to wrestle and use his jiu-jitsu then he will likely have much more success.

Morono isn’t hard to take down but he is hard to keep down, so that will be an interesting battle. Ultimately however, Morono’s ability to get back to his feet and keep pushing will likely wear Gall down over the 15 minutes and be able to earn a decision win.
PICK – Alex Morono via Decision

Brendan Allen (17-4) vs Chris Curtis (27-8) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute banger at middleweight as Brendan Allen takes on the short-notice replacement Chris Curtis in this one. Allen is on a two-fight win streak after submitting Karl Roberson at UFC 261 before a decision win over Punahele Soriano last time out. Curtis on the other hand made his debut at UFC 268 against Phil Hawes and after overcoming a tough first-round, he landed a nasty right hand a KO’d him for a huge upset win.

Allen is a primary grappler with terrific wrestling, while he has also improved his striking in recent fights to be able to mix it up well. Curtis on the other hand is a very well-rounded fighter with tremendous power in his hands to go with his high level wrestling. He was a UFC calibre fighter way before his debut, and he proved it on the night. In this one though, it could be a rough night. Allen is relentless with his pressure and his takedowns, then once he gets it down he possesses a very real submission threat.

Curtis has the ability to knock anyone in the division out, without a doubt, but Allen just seems to be a bit too much of a level up on this occasion. Curtis is a natural welterweight too and Allen is as big a middleweight as there is. He’s going to pressure him, use his size and eventually grind his way to a relatively comfortable decision win.
PICK – Brendan Allen via Decision

Clay Guida (36-18) vs Leonardo Santos (18-5-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The grizzly veterans go head-to-head in the lightweight division here. Guida is 1-3 in his last four, with a split decision defeat to Mark O Madsen last time out. Santos on the other hand saw a 13-fight unbeaten run snapped last time out when Grant Dawson knocked him out in the final second of their bout at UFC Vegas 22.

Guida is a grinder, who steps forward with reckless abandon and then shoots for a double leg takedown to try and earn top control. Santos uses his jiu-jitsu and Muay-Thai skills generally to damage his opponents, but at 41-years-old now he is certainly slowing down. He seems to fatigue earlier and earlier in bouts, but he is still super dangerous in the first round.

With that said, Guida’s chin hasn’t started letting him down yet and with his amazing cardio and volume-heavy style the likelihood is that he grinds his way to another career win.
PICK – Clay Guida via Decision



Jimmy Crute (12-2) vs Jamahal Hill (8-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very fun light heavyweight bout in this one as two prospects look to bounce back from unfortunate defeats last time out. Crute was beaten by Anthony Smith at UFC 261 when a leg kick caused his leg to completely give way, forcing the doctor to stop the fight after the first round. For Hill, he took on Paul Craig at UFC 263 and saw his arm disturbingly dislocated and then was elbowed into oblivion for defeat.

Beyond those defeats though, both of these guys are excellent prospects. Crute is a decent striker with a good job and winging hooks, but it’s his amazing wrestling and ground game that separates him from the pack. Hill on the other hand is a power striker with unbelievable knockout power and good speed on the feet. He probably has a slight edge in a striking battle, but Crute has a huge edge when it comes to the ground game.

Crute will likely stand on the feet for just long enough to time a takedown and secure top control, where he will work his way to the back via ground and pound and then secure a rear-naked choke at some point in the middle round.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Submission, Round 2

Brad Riddell (10-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

This one is a genuine contender for fight of the night. Riddell is on a seven-fight win streak with four coming in the UFC, including a decision over Drew Dober at UFC 263. Fiziev is on a four-fight win streak, with a decision over Bobby Green at UFC 265 in his last outing.

Both guys are amazing strikers, with brilliant kickboxing technique and knockout power as well as some decent wrestling defence on both sides too. Both have kick heavy attacks, with Fiziev’s body kick a trademark weapon of his while Riddell is arguably more comfortable with his hands in the striking department.

Both will throw leg kicks but Fiziev’s preference to fight at range is likely to be a difference maker here. He’s had some cardio issues in the past which Riddell could look to target in the latter rounds, but I do think that Fiziev’s kicking game and edge in power will see him claim a hugely entertaining victory.
PICK – Rafael Fiziev via Decision

Rob Font (19-4) vs Jose Aldo (30-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A truly brilliant main event to headline this card between two top five bantamweights. Font is on a four-fight win streak, after stopping Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17 and dominating Cody Garbrandt most recently. Aldo on the other hand has picked up consecutive wins for the first time since February 2019 when he earned decisions over Marlon Vera and Pedro Munhoz most recently at UFC 265.

Both of these guys could easily have turned professional when it comes to their boxing skills, with brilliant jabbing skills and excellent combinations. They both also have solid leg kicks, while Aldo is also a jiu-jitsu black belt although he very rarely uses it at all. Font has a slight reach advantage in this one which will undoubtedly play a part in the striking battle that will ensue.

Font’s combinations are truly great and if he can work the body of Aldo then it could pay dividends in the latter rounds, with the Brazilian fading in his most recent fights. However Aldo has got his own combinations, throws super-hard leg kicks and his own body work is great too. The grappling is something we could end up seeing out of Aldo which would lean it towards him, but it’s the low kicks and combinations to the head that have me edging the victory in Aldo’s favour.
PICK – Jose Aldo via Decision

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.

PRELIMS

Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Prelims predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here lets move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Movsar Evloev (14-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight between the undefeated Evloev against the impressive Dawodu. Evloev got wins at UFC Fight Island 3 over Mike Grundy and UFC 257 against Nick Lentz via decision, while Dawodu is on a five-fight win streak himself including a split decision over Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 253.

Evloev is among the elite wrestlers in the UFC, who will take you down and hold you down for as long as he wants to beat you up on your back. Dawodu on the other hand is a striker with good power, but he has a mean leg kick and a tight front guillotine too. While those kicks will be key to his path to victory, they also give Evloev a constant chance to catch them and take him down and that’s a big problem.

Overall, Evloev’s wrestling is just too good for Dawodu and he should be able to beat him up for 15 minutes for a wide win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Lauren Murphy (14-4) vs Joanne Calderwood (15-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two UFC veterans go head-to-head in the women’s flyweight division here to break into the title conversation once again. Murphy has won four-in-a-row, with a decision over Roxanne Modafferi at UFC Vegas 3 before a submission win over Lillya Shakirova at UFC 254. Calderwood went 1-1 in 2020, losing to Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5 before beating Jessica Eye at UFC 257.

Murphy is a terrific striker, with her clinch game among the best of the rest in the division outside of the champion. She uses her long limbs well and loves to land an elbow, while Calderwood is a decent striker in her own right but she has wrestling to fall on too. Calderwood is arguably the better striker, but Murphy has more tools in her belt to push for a win.

She’s got striking, grappling and size and I think this win sets her up for a title fight.
PICK – Lauren Murphy via Decision

Eryk Anders (13-5 1NC) vs Darren Stewart (12-6 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The UK’s Darren Stewart makes a return to the octagon after a mixed 2020 when he takes on Eryk Anders looking to get back on track. Stewart went 1-2 last year losing to Bartosz Fabinski on a Cage Warriors card after UFC London got cancelled, beforeΒ submitting Maki Pitolo in the first round at UFC Vegas 6Β and losing aΒ split decision to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11. Anders has lost four of his last six, most recently to Krzysztof Jotko in May before missing weight in November. These two fought each other in March at UFC Vegas 21, but it was a no contest after an illegal knee from Anders.

Both guys are quite well rounded all over the mixed martial arts world, but Anders seems to struggle under pressure. Stewart seems super confident in his chin and that means he’s happy to walk forward and he’s certainly more active. I think he has the physicality advantage too and with good submission skills and good power he will be confident. Anders showed that he has the power to hurt Stewart though in their first bout and that could lead to a more wrestle heavy approach from Stewart.

Ultimately, ‘The Dentist’ runs it back and snaps a two-fight winless run.
PICK – Darren Stewart via Decision

Drew Dober (23-10) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A truly brilliant fight for the feature prelim bout as Dober and Riddell meet in a striker’s paradise type fight here. Dober was on a three-fight win streak before taking a short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev and getting choked out at UFC 259, while Riddell got a win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253 before a fight with Gregor GIllespie fell through in March.

Dober is a terrific boxer with good leg kicks and a great gas tank, with plenty of power in his right cross. Riddell on the other hand is a world class kickboxer with power in all his limbs and joints, while his footwork often opens up new angles for him to strike. Both guys are durable and skilled with power too.

Riddell sometimes starts slowly, but his experience in a purely stand-up battle tells me he has the edge here. Neither guy will need to prepare for takedowns and when it comes to just pure striking, there aren’t many 155lbers better at it than Riddell.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs Holland – Main card predictions

The middleweight division picks up this weekend as Derek Brunson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event of UFC Vegas 22.

In a big month in the division, with six of the top contenders facing off against each other, ‘Trailblazer’ looks to make it six wins in a row after going 5-0 in 2020 by going up against the middleweight gatekeeper.

Elsewhere on the card, Gregor Gillespie makes his return to the cage for the first time since the vicious head-kick knockout against Kevin Lee back in 2019 at UFC 244, to take on the kickboxing mastermind in Brad Riddell in the co-main event.

Last week at UFC Vegas 21, it was a strange card that saw two no decisions meaning our picks got cut down to just 11. We went 6/11 on the night with four perfect picks, to take our total to 256/406 (63.05%) with 115 perfect picks (44.92%).

On a 12 fight card this week, lets see if we can improve that with the main card picks. You can see our picks for the prelims here.


Tai Tuivasa (11-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (6-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys open up the main card as Tai Tuivasa looks for consecutive wins in the UFC against super-late notice replacement Harry Hunsucker. Tuivasa had lost three in a row before a first round knockout win over Stefan Struve at UFC 254, sending ‘The Skyscraper’ back into retirement. Hunsucker is a brawler, who has never seen the second round in his professional career.

Both men love a fire fight and have been knocked out in the past and considering the short-notice nature of the fight this one isn’t likely to last long either. Both guys will come out swinging and it’s all about who has the better chin. Tuivasa has fought by far the higher calibre of fighter throughout his career and we’ve seen him eat big shots before, while Hunsucker’s best shot is his left hook. Hunsucker will look to land a big shot and then shoot for a takedown to work submissions or ground and pound, but the likelihood is that Tuivasa catches him with one of his trademark big shots and start the night with a bang.
PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 1

Adrian Yanez (12-3) vs Gustavo Lopez (12-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A big banger at bantamweight as Adrian Yanez returns following his big debut win back at UFC Vegas 12 to take on Gustavo Lopez. Lopez went 1-1 in 2020, getting dominated by Merab Dvalishvili in his promotional debut before getting a win over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 13.

Yanez is compared to a certain Jorge Masvidal for his style with fantastic boxing, great kicks and knockout power with all his limbs. Lopez is a wrestler with good top control and some very good submissions, with six tap-out wins in his career. Yanez has some decent takedown defence and it should be enough for the skills of Lopez. Yanez will use good footwork, his excellent boxing and some knees to avoid the takedown and eventually score a knockout win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2

Cheyanne Buys (5-1) vs Montserrat Ruiz (9-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A big debut in the women’s strawweight division as Cheyanne Buys makes her first appearance in the big time against a very short notice opponent in Montserrat Ruiz. Buys has won four in a row including her Contender Series bout against Hilarie Rose in August, while Ruiz went 1-1 in Invicta before getting this call-up on just nine days notice.

Buys is a striker with excellent kickboxing skills, using distance management and kicks to her advantage to outstrike opponents, while Ruiz is also a is a pressure fighter with very good clinch fighting. Both women have an excellent work-rate and lots of volume but the fact Buys has the height, reach and kicking advantage this is her fight to lose. Neither woman has one-punch knockout power so the chances of this fight ending early are slim, but it should still be a pretty fun fight for the 15 minutes it goes.
PICK – Cheyanne Buys via Decision

Gregor Gillespie (13-1) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another possible fight of the night between two very highly rated lightweights in Gregor Gillespie and Brad Riddell. Gillespie was an undefeated contender in his last fight, before getting head-kicked into oblivion by Kevin Lee back in 2019. This is his first fight since that bout. Brad Riddell is a kickboxer for City Kickboxing gym and has enjoyed a 3-0 start to his UFC career including his most recent decision win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253.

If there has ever been a clash of styles bout in the UFC, this is it. Gillespie is a power wrestler with decent striking but moreso a huge ground and pound scrapper. Riddell is a technically gifted striker who lands nice power shots and uses excellent footwork to evade his opponent, but also has a fantastic ability to pop back up to his feet after being taken down. With that said, Riddell has never fought a wrestler as good as Gillespie. ‘The Gift’ will take you down, hold you down and break your spirit before beating you into oblivion. If the fight stays on the feet, then Riddell will probably knock Gillespie out. The likelihood is though that Gillespie gets the takedown in each round and clubs him to a wide decision win.
PICK – Gregor Gillespie via Decision

Song Kenan (16-5) vs Max Griffin (16-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A potential fight of the night bout here at welterweight. Song Kenan is 4-1 in the UFC and currently on a two-fight win streak, with wins over Derrick Krantz and Callan Potter in his most recent fight back in February 2020. Griffin on the other hand has lost four of his last six and two of his last three, but won his most recent fight against Ramiz Brahimaj at UFC Vegas 13 via doctor’s stoppage.

Both guys are power punchers who have a wild, brawling style that test the will of their opponent. Griffin has developed a great jab and a good kickboxing game but also has an excellent wrestling game now too. Kenan’s record is somewhat padded, with the majority of his opponents not really UFC calibre fighters. If Griffin comes out looking to just swing for the fences as he has in the past, then he probably gets clipped and knocked out by the Chinese fighter. If he decides to use his wrestling game and gets the takedowns then he should do enough for a comfortable decision win. The likelihood is that Griffin swings early to test the power out and then shoots the takedowns for a win in a highly entertaining bout.
PICK – Max Griffin via Decision

Derek Brunson (21-7) vs Kevin Holland (21-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A big middleweight main event, as both men look to break into the top five of the division en route to a potential title shot. Brunson is on a three-fight win streak having beaten Elias Theodorou, Ian Heinisch and most recently Edmen Shahbazyan, while Holland went 5-0 in 2020 including his most recent win – a huge first-round knockout of Jacare Souza from his back.

Brunson is a very wrestle heavy fighter, who will look to get hold of his opponent and put him into the mat then land big ground and pound from the top position. Holland on the other hand is a fantastic kickboxer with ridiculous power in his hands, but also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. We’ve seen Brunson struggle against power punchers before like Israel Adesanya but he’s only ever been beaten by the elite of the elite in the UFC. If Holland is a legit threat, he should be able to deal with the wrestling and on the feet he has a clear advantage. Confidence is key and he will believe he can knock Brunson out and survive on the ground if he gets taken down. It’s a super close fight and I could get this totally wrong, but my gut tells me Holland lands a big punch or three for a career-defining win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Prelims Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I’ll look to see if I can do better this time around, starting with the prelims here.

EARLY PRELIMS

Khadis Ibragimov (8-3) vs Danilo Marques (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that deserves the opening spot on the card as Khadis Ibragimov looks to end a three-fight losing streak against Danilo Marques, making his UFC debut after almost 3 years without a fight. Ibragimov hasn’t won in the UFC yet, being choked out by Da Un Jung, held to a decision loss by Ed Herman and knocked out by Roman Dolidze in his three outings so far. Marques’ time away from the cage makes it hard to know what he’ll do but in previous fights he has shown some okay wrestling and not much else. His 8 stoppage wins are evenly split between knockouts and submissions but it’s no surprise he hadn’t made it to the UFC before now. Ibragimov has the advantage everywhere in this fight so as long as he doesn’t do anything ridiculous he should be able to get his first taste of victory in the octagon.
PICK – Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision

Juan Espino (10-1) vs Jeff Hughes (10-3 1NC) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The most recent Ultimate Fighter winner Juan Espino takes on Jeff Hughes with both men looking to earn a first UFC win for their record. Espino came through the TUF house in 2018, winning the UFC contract with a straight armbar submission win over Justin Frazier, while Jeff Hughes has tasted defeat to Maurice Greene (who Espino beat in the TUF house) and Raphael Pessoa either side of a no contest against Todd Duffee. Espino is an excellent wrestler and has a similar style to Curtis Blaydes, in that he insists on takedowns followed by damage except he goes for tap-outs over knockouts. Hughes is a capable boxer but he just isn’t of the level of his peers in the UFC and it’s shown. He was demolished by Pessoa in a fight he really had no reason for losing, so I can’t see past Espino getting a takedown and locking in a choke early doors.
PICK – Juan Espino via Submission, Round 1

PRELIMS

William Knight (8-1) vs Aleksa Kamur (6-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After earning a UFC developmental contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in August last year, Knight has won three out of four fights since then to earn a full contract. His most recent win came just three weeks ago when he knocked out Cody Brundage. Aleksa Kamur is a training partner to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and has shown similar boxing skills to that of the GOAT big-man. Kamur has five knockout wins from six fights, with the only flaw being his UFC debut against Justin Ledet where he won a unanimous decision. Knight’s best attribute is undoubtedly his top game, but his wrestling defence and takedowns aren’t great. He seems to hope for a sweep on the ground before blasting off his patented ground and pound but Kamur has good takedown defence and is a much better stand-up fighter. If he can stay composed and avoid the takedown, Kamur should be able to get a knockout win on the feet.
PICK – Aleksa Kamur via Knockout, Round 2

Shane Young (13-4) vs Ludovit Klein (16-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

After almost 18 months away from the octagon, Shane Young returns to take on UFC debutant Ludovit Klein in the featherweight division. After a five fight win streak, Young was matched up with now-champion Alex Volkanovski in his UFC debut and was beaten by decision but has since gone on to win two in a row including a performance of the night against Rolando Dy. Klein comes into the organisation on a seven-fight win streak having finished six of those opponents. If the card didn’t have Adesanya vs Costa on it, this would be a contender for fight of the night. Both guys are explosive, with good kickboxing skills and are comfortable if it gets to the ground. Klein has the advantage on the ground with his 8 submission wins over his career but it’s on the feet where he prefers to do his work. He has a bit more snap and power to his shots and he kicks really well, especially to the head. Klein is coming in on relatively short notice but he seems to always stay ready and with Young looking to return with a win, both guys could come with power. Ultimately, I think Klein just has the slight edge everywhere and if both fight to their best Klein should be able to edge it.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision

Diego Sanchez (30-12) vs Jake Matthews (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The wild man veteran of the welterweight division makes his return as Diego Sanchez stops off on Fight Island during his farewell tour to take on the ‘Celtic Kid’ Jake Matthews. Sanchez KO’d Mickey Gall with ground and pound before being dominated by Michael Chiesa in his next bout. His last fight however ended up as a disqualification win after he was smashed by Michel Pereira who landed an illegal knee. Sanchez took the result over more punishment. Matthews has won his last two, defeating Rostem Akman and Emil Meek via unanimous decision. Sanchez’s crazy pace and takedown heavy style wears many an opponent out and he has power in his hands during a wild exchange but his issue here will be that Matthews is just as dangerous. A very well rounded fighter, Matthews can hang regardless of where the fight goes and he’s a bigger, stronger man. He will likely use his natural power to avoid the takedowns and dominate the fight, landing enough to earn a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Jake Matthews via Unanimous Decision

Brad Riddell (8-1) vs Alex Da Silva (21-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The lead striking coach of Tiger Muay Thai continues his transition over to MMA as Brad Riddell looks to make it 3 wins in a row in the UFC against youngster Alex Da Silva. Despite his impressive 23 professional fights, with 20 finishes from 21 wins, Silva is still only 24 years old. Despite a mixed bag of talent among those opponents, the performances he’s churned out have been impressive. Riddell though is one of the best kickboxers on the planet. Now training MMA with Alexander Volkanovski and co, he is taking his game to the next level. He showed in his decision win over Magomed Mustafaev that he is improving his ground game but that he is also on a whole different level on the feet. Da Silva has a decent ground game but he prefers to kickbox too, which will see him in a world of trouble. He could try to score takedowns but he’s not the ultimate wrestler so there is no guarantee he gets the fight down. Overall, I think Riddell keeps the fight standing and eventually lands a flurry of punches and kicks to end the fight.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 2