Tag Archives: Charles Oliveira

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev – Main card predictions

The UFC returns with arguably the most stacked card of the year at UFC 280 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as Charles Oliveira puts his 11-fight win streak on the line against the man on a ten-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev.

In the co-main event we’ll see the bantamweight title on the line when Aljamain Sterling defends for the second time, taking on former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round bout.

We’ll also see Petr Yan take on Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush fight Mateusz Gamrot, Belal Muhammad scrap with Sean Brady and many, many more top bouts.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 62 we went 8/11 with three perfect picks to move to 741/1154 (64.56%) with 313 perfect picks (42.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we moved on to the rest of the prelims of the card and now make our picks for the main card.


Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) vs Manon Fiorot (9-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
*Chookagian missed weight by 1.5lbs, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout*

A potential title eliminator in the flyweight division opens the main card here. Chookagian has won five of six since losing her title show to Valentina Shevchenko, winning four decisions in a row to see off Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 255), Viviane Araujo (UFC 262), Jennifer Maia and Amanda Ribas. Fiorot on the other hand in undefeated since losing her pro debut, going 4-0 in the UFC with an impressive win over Maia most recently.

Chookagian’s style is the same no matter the opponent and very few people have been able to do anything about it. She has a great karate style which sees her kick from a distance and use great footwork to get in, land shots, and get back out. Her takedown defence isn’t the best though and good wrestlers have had their way with her in the past. Fiorot is a world class kickboxer with incredible kicking abilities, but her wrestling has also been a big surprise as she’s been able to dominate everyone she’s come up against in the UFC so far.

This seems like a really tough fight for Chookagian to keep her momentum going. Fiorot is more than skilled enough to go toe-to-toe in a kickboxing fight with her at range, an her takedown offence should see her able to get in close too if necessary. Her greater power makes her a finishing threat too, so I think “The Beast” can secure a career-highlight win here.
PICK – Manon Fiorot via Decision

Beneil Dariush (21-4-1) vs Mateusz Gamrot (21-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Absolute banger in the lightweight division up next. Dariush was all set for a title eliminator before picking up an injury a year ago, but he’s still sitting on a seven-fight win streak that saw him dominate Tony Ferguson most recently at UFC 262. Gamrot on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, KO’ing Scott Holtzman at UFC Vegas 23 before submitting Jeremy Stephens, KO’ing Diego Ferreira and then earning a super-close call against Arman Tsarukyan last time out.

Dariush is one of the best wrestlers and jiu-jitsu fighters in the lightweight division, probably only behind the two men in the main event in both areas. But his striking has significantly improved in recent years and he’s now a real threat on the feet too. Gamrot alternatively is a supreme striker on the feet with really good wrestling too, and has taken the division by storm recently. This is a huge step up in competition for him though, that is levelled out by how long Dariush has been out for.

“Gamer” will likely look to use his cardio as a weapon and step forward to force Dariush to engage with him, which could open up takedowns. But Dariush is experienced and I think he has the edge as the better wrestler so could welcome that. I expect a real chess match between these two, but Dariush should just edge it with more power on the feet and a better grappling game.
PICK – Beneil Dariush via Decision

Petr Yan (16-3) vs Sean O’Malley (15-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fight that is absolutely baffling, but must-watch television at the same time. Number one ranked Yan has lost two of his last three after losing his title to Aljamain Sterling via DQ at UFC 259, before winning the interim title against Cory Sandhagen via decision at UFC 267. He then lost the rematch via split decision to Sterling at UFC 273. O’Malley was on a three-fight win streak after KO’ing Thomas Almeida (UFC 260), Kris Moutinho (UFC 264) and Raulian Paiva (UFC 269) before a no contest against Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 due to an accidental eye poke.

Yan is arguably the most well-rounded MMA fighter in the organisation pound-for-pound, with world class boxing and a sensational ground game with his wrestling too. O’Malley alternatively is one of the most entertaining fighters in the world with incredible striking and knockout power, as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that he doesn’t need to use much because he puts people out on the feet. I love O’Malley and do think he could be a future champion, but there are levels to this right now.

On the feet Yan is better, and while O’Malley absolutely has the speed and power to hurt him, he has to hit him to do that. Mix in the fact that Yan has got excellent wrestling and a stifling gas tank to march forward constantly, and enough power to hurt O’Malley himself, I think the ‘Suga Show’ takes a hit to his reputation in this one.
PICK – Petr Yan via Decision



Aljamain Sterling (21-3) vs TJ Dillashaw (18-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Big time bantamweight title fight up next. Sterling is on a seven-fight win streak with an 88-second submission win over Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 setting him up for his title fight wins over Yan. Dillashaw was stopped by Henry Cejudo before popping for injectable EPO and serving a two-year ban. He returned to beat Sandhagen controversially, but tore his ACL and fights for the first time in a 15 months.

Sterling is a lengthy grappler, with an excellent gas tank that he uses as a weapon but it’s his jiu-jitsu and control on the mat that set him apart from his foes. Dillashaw on the other hand is arguably the best 135-pounder of all-time with a perfectly rounded MMA game. His wrestling is excellent, he can grapple in submission situations but also has genuine KO power in his hands. This is a super fight.

Dillashaw has been out for a while, but he looked great against Sandhagen after two years out so I don’t see rust being an issue. I did think he lost that bout, but his ability to mix everything together is a problem for Sterling. On the feet he has a clear advantage and he’s arguably a better wrestler too. I think Sterling will want to grapple and control, but it’s nigh on impossible to do that to Dillashaw and I expect a new champion to be crowned in Abu Dhabi.
PICK – TJ Dillashaw via Knockout, Round 3

Charles Oliveira (33-8) vs Islam Makhachev (22-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Potentially the fight of the year in one of the most exciting divisions in the MMA world. Oliveira is on an 11-fight win streak including ten stoppages. People started taking notice when he submitted Kevin Lee, before he dominated Tony Ferguson at UFC 256. Since then he’s been on a killing streak, KO’ing Michael Chandler (UFC 262) and then submitting Dustin Poirier (UFC 269) and Justin Gaethje (UFC 274), although he missed weight in the latter bout and was stripped of the belt. Makhachev is on a ten-fight win streak, finishing Drew Dober (UFC 259), Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker (UFC 267) and Bobby Green in each of his last four fights.

Oliveira is the greatest submission artist in UFC history but has developed into one of the very best strikers in the company too, with his Muay-Thai style and power doing a lot of damage. Makhachev is the best wrestler in the division and potentially the company, with a suffocating style and solid submission game that comes from being in the Nurmagomedov camp for his entire career. This fight is absolutely wild and could go in any direction, it’s so hard to call.

With that said though, I see two potential outcomes. One is that Makhachev is able to use his wrestling early, control Oliveira on the ground and wear on him until getting a finish in the latter rounds with a dominant performance. The other is a wild start in which Oliveira marches forward just like he did against Chandler, Poirier and Gaethje and lands a huge shot to drop Makhachev and gets an early finish by taking his back or pounding him out. Both are as likely as the other, but after under-estimating Oliveira for so long I can’t do it anymore. “Do Bronx” is the best fighter Makhachev has ever fought by a distance and we don’t know if he can do it at this level. With the advantage on the feet and his amazing guard, I’ve got the Brazilian to get it done again.
PICK – Charles Oliveira via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Arizona for a huge pay-per-view card this weekend headlined by two massive title fights in the lightweight and strawweight divisions.

The main event will see Charles Oliveira defend his 155-pound title for the second time against Justin Gaethje, who looks to earn the belt at the second time of asking.

In the co-main event we’ll see Rose Namajunas defend her 115-pound title for the second time of her second stint as champion when she takes on Carla Esparza, reigniting a rivalry years in the making from the inaugural title fight in the division.

We’ll also see Michael Chandler fight against Tony Ferguson in a huge lightweight fight, as well as ‘Shogun’ Rua, Donald Cerrone, Randy Brown, Khaos Williams, Danny Roberts and more.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 53 we had a poor night with our picks, going 5/11 with four perfect picks. That moves us up to 613/951 (64.46%) with 259 perfect picks (42.25%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this massive 15-fight card, and after starting with the early prelims then moving on to the rest of the prelims here, we finish up with our main card picks now.


Donald Cerrone (36-16) vs Joe Lauzon (28-16) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A retirement (?) fight opens up the main card between two legends of the UFC. Cerrone is winless in his last six fights with five losses and a draw (overturned to a no contest), with a first-round knockout defeat to Alex Morono at UFC Vegas 26 most recently. Lauzon on the other hand has lost three of his last four, with a win over Jonathan Pearce most recently via knockout way back in 2019.

Both of these fighters are super well-rounded with crisp striking and a solid ground game too. Cerrone looks to use his kickboxing skills while on the mat his jiu-jitsu is always capable of helping him out of a hole, while Lauzon is a brawler who comes forward and looks to land big strikes or force mistakes to latch on to submissions.

This is interesting because stylistically they match up great but their approach is very different. Cerrone is a notoriously slow starter while Lauzon tends to explode early and blitz his opponents, which could help him earn a quick win here. But skill for skill, I do think Cerrone has him here. He’s been more active in the cage and he is the bigger man naturally so I think he claims a decision win in an all-out war.
PICK – Donald Cerrone via Decision

Mauricio Rua (27-12-1) vs Ovince Saint Preux (25-16) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight fight that really has no business being on the main card between a legend and a legend killer. ‘Shogun’ got well beaten in his last fight back at UFC 255 when he tapped out to strikes against Paul Craig, while OSP has suffered back-to-back knockout defeats against Jamahal Hill at UFC Vegas 16 and then Tanner Boser and UFC Vegas 30.

These two fought way back in 2014 with OSP earning a knockout win in just 34 seconds. ‘Shogun’ is a talented striker with powerful punches, excellent kicks and decent grappling skills when the fight hits the ground. OSP is a rangy striker with a beautiful left hook counter, while his ground game has seen him pick up an excellent eight wins via submission including his patented ‘Saint Preux choke’.

If the weight cut goes well, Saint Preux wins this fight. It’s really that simple. He has the range and style to keep Shogun away in a striking battle, has the power to knock him out and if he gets the fight down to the ground he has the qualities to control him and even get a submission. This should be a pretty straightforward fight for OSP to claim a win.
PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Decision

Michael Chandler (22-7) vs Tony Ferguson (26-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Absolute banger in the lightweight division between two of the top seven ranked fighters, both coming in on losing streaks. Chandler made his debut with a first-round KO against Dan Hooker at UFC 257, before suffering a KO loss to Charles Oliveira for the title at UFC 262 and then a fight of the night loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 in November. Ferguson saw a 12-fight win streak snapped by Gaethje back at UFC 249 in a one-sided five-rounder, before getting dominated by Oliveira at UFC 256 and then Beneil Dariush at UFC 262.

Chandler is a gladiator who walks his opponents down and swings huge hooks to the head, setting them up with jabs to the body and threatening with his excellent wrestling skills. Ferguson is a wild fighter, with incredible cardio ability, amazing jiu-jitsu skills and great power to go with an iron chin. But he has looked a shadow of himself in recent fights and his decline looks set to continue here. Against both Oliveira and Dariush they were able to nullify him entirely with wrestling and keep him on his back, something Chandler is more than capable of doing.

Ferguson will want the fight standing and will want to encourage a war with Chandler, who has proven to be chinny in the past and reckless when he gets carried away. But the blueprint to beat Ferguson is there and his tank seems to be emptying after being unbelievable in his prime. Chandler clips Ferguson in a big exchange, takes him down and dominates for 15 minutes for a huge win.
PICK – Michael Chandler via Decision



Rose Namajunas (12-4) vs Carla Esparza (19-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Huge title fight between the two women who competed against each other in the first ever strawweight title fight in UFC history. Namajunas won the belt with a first-round KO win over Weili Zhang at UFC 261, before winning a close fight in a rematch at UFC 268. Esparza has won five in a row coming into this bout with decisions over Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez (UFC Fight Island 3) and Yan Xiaonan most recently via knockout.

‘Thug Rose’ is a very well rounded fighter. She has got amazing striking, with great speed and power in her kicks and punches while her footwork and range management is near perfect. She’s also very good on the ground, with five submission wins across her career. Esparza is a terrific wrestler, who looks to use those skills to get the fight to the ground and work her own terrific submission game, as she did against Namajunas in their first fight where she won via rear-naked choke.

This fight is eight years later though and Namajunas is so much better than she was back then. She has completely evolved as a fighter to go up several levels and while Esparza is still great, it feels like Namajunas has to make a mistake to lose this fight. Add to that her record in rematches (4-0), I can’t look past Namajunas landing a hard kick at some point and getting another finish in a title fight to retain the belt.
PICK – Rose Namajunas via Knockout, Round 3

Charles Oliveira (32-8) vs Justin Gaethje (22-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The best fight of the night on a wild card headlines the event for the lightweight championship. Oliveira is on a ten-fight win streak, with a submission win over Dustin Poirier most recently at UFC 269 in December. Gaethje bounced back from defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 with a huge win over Michael Chandler in his most recent fight.

Oliveira is one of the most complete fighters in the UFC. He has terrific Muay Thai striking skills with vicious knees and elbows, as well as crisp boxing and a snappy front kick to the body to go with the best submission skills in UFC history and amazing cardio. Gaethje is, like Chandler, a gladiator who just walks his opponents down and looks to take their head off with crazy power punches. He also has chopping low kicks, great wrestling defensively and an insane will to just never quit as well as amazing cardio of his own. This is, quite simply, going to be amazing.

In a straight up fire fight on the feet, Gaethje has the edge. He’s the more powerful fighter and he has got excellent head movement to go with it. But the grappling of Oliveira is an incredible game changer in this fight. The ease with which Khabib was able to get Gaethje down and advance positions to get a submission was scary, so Oliveira will feel and know he can do the same if he gets the chance to grapple. There is always a chance that Gaethje lands a nasty uppercut or a violent hook that turns the lights out, but with how good Oliveira has looked recently I expect him to be able to work his grappling patiently and eventually take the neck of Gaethje to leave him sleeping just like Khabib did before him.
PICK – Charles Oliveira via Submission, Round 3

Major UFC fights announced for coming months

The UFC have been busy planning some big fights for the coming weeks and months.

Title fights, fight night main events, contender bouts, rumoured scraps in the pipeline and more have all been mentioned over recent weeks so here’s the big round-up for everyone that needs it.

Starting with April’s pay-per-view opener, we’ll list off all the fights that have been officially announced or rumoured for cards going through the summer so far.



UFC 273 takes place on April 9th after a two-week break in action with a big title-fight double header.

Already announced is the headliner between Alexander Volkanovski v Korean Zombie for the featherweight title, while Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will finally meet in their rematch for the bantamweight title.

But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.

The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.

Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.

We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.

The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.

Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.

We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.

Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.

It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.

UFC 274 gets second title fight as co-main event

The UFC have announced a second exciting title fight for UFC 274 as Charles Oliveira will fight Justin Gaethje for the lightweight belt.

The two are set to go to war at 155-pounds following both fighter’s successful bouts at the end of 2021.

Justin Gaethje confirmed himself as number one contender with a unanimous decision win over Michael Chandler at UFC 268 in the fight of the year, while Oliveira retained his title by submitting Dustin Poirier at UFC 269.



It’s expected to be one of the very best lightweight fights in history, with two absolute warriors going to war over the undisputed title.

Gaethje has challenged for the belt before, but was submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 on Fight Island in ‘The Eagle’s’ final bout before retiring and vacating the title.

Oliveira is now on a ten-fight win streak which includes wins over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 and Chandler to win the title at UFC 262 prior to the victory against Poirier.

The card is expected to take place in Brazil, with the UFC looking to go abroad for a pay-per-view for the first time since before the pandemic (barring trips to Fight Island).

That isn’t confirmed however and the location is still yet to be officially announced.

Gaethje was recently interviewed by BT Sport about the potential fight, where he he mentioned wanting “all the chaos” that came with a title fight in the champion’s home country.

The card will also see the first defence of Glover Teixeira’s light heavyweight championship, when he takes on Jiri Prochazka at 205-pounds having won the title at UFC 267 in October.

The UFC 274 card is scheduled to take place on May 7th 2022.

Who will be a male UFC champion at the end of 2022?

The UFC returns to title fights this weekend at UFC 270 when the heavyweights and flyweight strap is on the line.

Both of those belts changed hands in 2021, as Francis Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 and Brandon Moreno submitted Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 263.

We also saw a new bantamweight, lightweight and light heavyweight champion crowned during the year, so how will 2022 pan out? Lets take a look.



Flyweight (125lbs) – Askar Askarov

Flyweight is one of the better divisions in the UFC right now and I think we’ll once again see a new champion crowned at some point in 2022.

Askar Askarov has been undefeated throughout his career with a 14-0-1 record, with the only draw coming in his UFC debut against… Brandon Moreno. Askarov will get his title shot by the end of the year, and his wrestling is too good for anyone to be able to navigate past him so I think he holds the belt come 2023.

Bantamweight (135lbs) – Petr Yan

The only reason Yan isn’t the champion right now is because he got over excited and threw a knee to a downed Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259. He was winning the first fight quite comfortably at the time, so the fight was re-made for later in the year.

Sterling was forced to withdraw and it’s now set for UFC 273 in April, which means Yan will head into the summer as champ. He’ll likely defend the strap at the end of the year against TJ Dillashaw in a brilliant fight, but I think he edges that and takes a huge boost in credibility this year.

Featherweight (145lbs) – Max Holloway

What a division, and what a title fight that awaits us later this year.

Alexander Volkanovski defended the belt successfully in 2021 with a dominant win over Brian Ortega at UFC 266 and was set to fight Max Holloway at UFC 272 until the Hawaiian got injured and saw it get cancelled.

If Volk can see off the Korean Zombie at UFC 273 now in the new bout, he will face off against Holloway at some point in 2022 and I think ‘Blessed’ finally gets his win over the Aussie to reclaim the title.

Lightweight (155lbs) – Islam Makhachev

Arguably the most exciting division in the company right now when it comes to the title picture, I’m predicting yet another new champion at lightweight.

Charles Oliveira claimed the crown at UFC 262 when he beat Michael Chandler, then defended it successfully when he submitted Dustin Poirier at UFC 269. He’ll now fight Justin Gaethje at some point in 2022, and the winner will fight the winner of Beneil Dariush vs Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 49 in February.

I think Makhachev gets the victory there, then gets the victory in the title fight too to fulfil Khabib Nurmagomedov’s prophecy that he will become champion and rule over the division for a long time to come.

Kamaru Usman of Nigeria reacts after his victory over Gilbert Burns of Brazil in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 258 event...

Welterweight (170lbs) – Kamaru Usman

The best in the world right now pound-for-pound, and I don’t see that changing in 2022.

Usman went 3-0 in 2021 with wins over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258, Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 and Colby Covington at UFC 268 and is now not expected to return to the cage until the summer.

That means one or two fights at most this year, with Leon Edwards certainly one of them, and I don’t see him losing to anyone so soon so I think he holds onto the belt yet again.

Middleweight (185lbs) – Israel Adesanya

The best middleweight in the world and one of the best of all-time, Israel Adesanya will be the 185-pound champion when we enter 2023.

His biggest test will come in February when he faces Robert Whittaker in a rematch at UFC 271, which I think he’ll win again. With that said though, a loss will almost certainly result in a rematch later in the year with their personal series set at 1-1 and he’d then reclaim the belt there.

Either way, ‘The Last Stylebender’ will be the champ when 2022 closes.

Light Heavyweight (205lbs) – Jiri Prochazka

This division isn’t particularly stacked at the top end but one thing it does have is a pathway for the title picture.

Glover Teixeira dethroned Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 to finally claim the strap, but it feels short-lived because he’s due to take on the killing machine that is Jiri Prochazka next and that means he probably gets violently finished.

Aleksandar Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev are likely to find themselves in contention too by the end of the year, but stylistically none of them suit a fight with ‘Denisa’ and he holds the throne until 2023.

Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic poses on the scale during the UFC 267 official weigh-in at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island on October 29, 2021 in...

Heavyweight (265lbs) – Ciryl Gane

The big boys are in the best shape they’ve been in, maybe ever, in the UFC right now and it’s created arguably an amazing year in the division in 2022.

Ciryl Gane will take on Francis Ngannou this weekend and a fight with Jon Jones seemingly awaits the winner. Stipe Miocic is likely to return at some point this year too and head for the title once again.

With Miocic back as well as Jones and Ngannou’s contract situations there are plenty of routes to the title this year, but ultimately they all end with ‘Bon Gamin’ as the heavyweight champion of the world heading into 2023.

Fights to make in 2022 – Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje

After the absolutely incredible fight year that was 2021, 2022 is promising to be bigger, better and badder than ever before in the UFC.

There will be title fights, shocking upsets, incredible wars and new rivalries created throughout the year, but there are some that already spilling over from this year.

With that, we’re going to name you ten fights that the UFC should make in 2022 at some point to give the fans the ultimate fight experience.



Kicking off our fights to see in 2022, it’s one that we’ve already pretty much had guaranteed is going to happen next at the top of the lightweight division.

After a huge win at UFC 268 over Michael Chandler in one of the fights of the year, Justin Gaethje is the man who is considered as the number one contender to the undisputed title.

That title is held by Charles ‘Du Bronx’ Oliveira, after he submitted Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 the following month in order to ensure that he is seen as ‘the man’ at 155-pounds.

This fight now is one that has got the entire MMA world on it’s feet, waiting for a date to be announced so that we can all be glued to our television sets at home.

Much like both of their previous fights, this one is guaranteed to be an all-action bout that will be exciting no matter where it takes place.

Gaethje will almost certainly have the advantage on the feet and after seeing both Chandler and Poirier hurt Oliveira and dropped him with strikes in his two title fights, he will feel he can get the job done as he is the power puncher of the division.

Oliveira will be very aware of that and will take his own encouragement from watching Gaethje’s last undisputed title shot against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, when he was dominated on the ground and submitted in the second round.

But this will once again be a fight between the two very best fighters in the world in their weight division, and there is nothing better than that for a fight fan.

At some point in 2022 this one will take place, and we can’t wait for it.

Tap Ins & Tap Outs 2021 Awards – Fighter of the Year

An amazing year of fights has come to an end and that means it’s time to hand out the annual awards for the fight game.

After 509 fights in 2021 after the global pandemic was worked around, the UFC produced some amazing fights with incredible moments throughout the year. But which were the best? Who was the best?

For our second annual end of year awards, we’ll be handing out the honours for each of the following categories:



FIGHTER OF THE YEAR

3. Ciryl Gane (3-0 in 2021)

It’s has been a great year for the heavyweight division and the man leading the charge for the new generation is none other than Ciryl Gane.

The undefeated Frenchman came into the year knowing that he had the opportunity to make a charge towards the top of the division and he took it with both hands.

He started the year by cruising to a decision win over the dangerous Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20, before yet another dominant display against Alexander Volkov got him into the top five of the rankings.

With the UFC keen to get a title fight for UFC 265, Gane stepped in to fight Derrick Lewis for the interim belt and seamlessly picked him apart for a vicious second-round knockout of ‘The Black Beast’.

3-0 against top contenders without barely a scratch, 2021 is the year ‘Bon Gamin’ really made an impression and he’ll get the chance to become the undisputed champion at UFC 270 against former teammate Francis Ngannou.


2. Charles Oliveira (2-0 in 2021)

It’s been one hell of a journey for Charles Oliveira but he finally made it to the top of the mountain this year and made sure nobody could question him.

After eight wins in a row, Oliveira got his chance at the undisputed title after Khabib’s retirement was confirmed and he took on Michael Chandler at UFC 262. After almost getting stopped in the first-round, ‘Du Bronx’ recovered and stopped Chandler himself with a crisp left-hook just seconds into the second round to claim the belt.

There were question marks over whether his reign was legitimate though because he didn’t beat the previous champion or number one contender to claim it, but a brilliant performance at UFC 269 saw him submit Dustin Poirier brilliantly to make sure all those doubts disappeared.

The best lightweight in the world, with two stoppage wins in title fights against against top competition, Oliveira had one hell of a 2021.


1. Kamaru Usman (3-0 in 2021)

How do you top top two stoppage wins in two title fights? You add another title fight victory to your tally for the year, duh.

That’s what Kamaru Usman did this year, to further separate himself from the pack at 170-pounds and put forward a legitimate claim to be the best welterweight of all-time.

A beautiful knockout win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 was quickly followed up by a stunning KO against rival Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 to cement himself as the best in the world. He then capped off the year with a war against long-time rival Colby Covington in yet another rematch at UFC 268, where he earned a unanimous decision win once again to stretch his unbeaten streak in the UFC to a record 13.

Undoubtedly the pound-for-pound best fighter in the UFC currently, Usman had the best year of his career to date and takes the fighter of the year award.

UFC 269 Fallout: Pena shocks the world to top amazing card

The UFC closed out an unbelievable year of fights with arguably the biggest upset in the history of the sport at UFC 269 as Julianna Pena became the bantamweight champion.

In an absolutely stacked card that saw nine finishes from 14 fights, we saw the incredible reign of Amanda Nunes as champion come to an end when Pena took her back in the second round and secured a submission.

It was by far the biggest upset of the year and potentially ever, as Pena overcame all the odds to fulfil her dream of being world champion with the win.



The fight didn’t start too well for Pena, who was dropped by the first leg kick Nunes threw and then dropped by the first right hand that connected too.

She kept coming forward though, just as she said she would, and turned the fight into an all-out brawl in the second round after Nunes controlled the first round on the ground following the second knockdown.

Pena stood toe-to-toe with Nunes and started landing her jab and clearly hurt Nunes, who looked out of sorts on the night compared to her usually efficient and lethal self. When Pena saw that Nunes was suddenly exhausted, she landed some big shots, got a takedown and immediately choked her for the tap.

It snapped a 12-fight win streak for Nunes and means that for the first time since UFC 200 she isn’t the title holder in the women’s 135-pound division.

A rematch will almost certainly happen, with Dana White confirming that the fight is there for her if she wants it and the ‘Lioness’ claiming in her post-fight interview that she will “go back to the gym and come back better”.

In the main event it saw the culmination of two amazing journeys to the top of the UFC lightweight division go head-to-head, and it was Charles Oliveira who came out on top after once again coming from behind.

Oliveira started with a tremendous pace but saw himself get knocked down twice in the opening round by the power and combinations of Poirier on the feet. He switched it up in the second round, using his takedowns to dominate on the ground and earn the round back with tremendous control and vicious elbows.

The third round ultimately saw Oliveira go for the kill, jumping on a standing rear-naked choke after changing levels for a clinch again and forcing a submission.

It means he has now won an insane ten fights in a row and extended his record of having the most finishes in UFC history and most submission wins in UFC history during his career.

For Poirier now, it seems as though his title chase is over once again but the era of ‘Du Bronx’ can now truly begin.

We also saw the ‘Suga’ show live and direct once again as Sean O’Malley earned a brilliant first-round knockout win over Raulian Paiva in the main card opener.

It was a mature performance from O’Malley, who showed great composure and intelligence in his shot selection once he had Paiva hurt with a big right hand. He threw plenty of strikes but all were accurate and mixing up targets, before a huge body blow and right hook ended things.

While star continued to rise, Cody Garbrandt’s has fallen to an all-time low after he was knocked out in the first-round of his flyweight debut by Kai Kara-France.

The former bantamweight champion was knocked down three times in the fight en route to a fifth defeat in six fights and his future in the company looks bleak now following the recent run of results.

It was a brilliant card all in all, but it was forever be remembered as the night that the ‘Venezuelan Vixen’ tamed the ‘Lioness’.

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson def Priscilla Cachoeira via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 1 (4:59)

Fast paced start to this fight as Robertson looks to take the centre and attempts a couple of takedowns early. Cachoeira defends them well and is starting to land some decent strikes on the feet, landing good jabs and starting to do damage. Robertson suddenly changes levels in the centre though and scores a nice takedown before looking to secure a kimura lock. She transitions into side control and then full mount and starts raining down huge elbows! Cachoeira is in danger and Robertson switches to the back and gets a choke in under the neck. Cachoeira tries to defend it by sticking her thumb in Robertson’s eye but she refuses to let it go and then gets the tap with one second left! What a performance!

Tony Kelley def Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Very fast start from Kelley who steps forward immediately and starts chasing Costa across the cage looking to land big shots. Costa trying to weather the storm and countering with his jab, but Kelley continuing to come forward aggressively. Clinch against the cage and Kelley is trying to wear on Costa early, landing some nice knees but Costa seemingly the stronger fighter physically. Kelley switching stances as he throws his combinations and Costa is struggling to make reads, before they clinch up against the cage once again and tangle until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelley.

Another fast start from Kelley as he comes forward quickly again and starts the clinch battles again once again. Costa looks a little fatigued but he’s defending himself well and and staying in it. Costa starting to land his jabs well but Kelley closing the distance and making this fight ugly. Costa lands a nice kick and follows it up with a short right hand that hurts Kelley, but he clinches up quickly and starts defending. Kelley gets him in a Thai clinch and lands some big knees to the body and Costa drops to his knees! Kelley battering the body and thrashing elbows onto Costa who’s just trying to defend himself now. Kelley going for the finish and the referee steps in! What a performance from Kelley.

Ryan Hall def Darrick Minner via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)

Tactical start to the fight from both guys here as Minner lands a couple of leg kicks and misses wildly with some big strikes. Hall very patient and lands a nice body kick and then Hall shoots for the legs. Lots of transitions and rolling for submissions but Minner defending against the kneebars and heel hook attempts well. Minner gets back to the feet and lands a big right hand that cracks Hall who starts to retreat. Hall starts to go for a takedown again and ends up in top position landing some decent ground and pound to end the round. 10-9 either way, but I lean to Hall just.

Hall coming out more aggressive now as he starts swinging kicks, before Minner lands a nice right hand and gets a takedown as Hall goes for a leg. Minner in Hall’s full guard and looking for ground and pound, but Hall is looking to throw up an armbar or triangle submission. Minner stands up and slams Hall down to escape it and goes back for ground and pound. Hall throws up another triangle and it’s tight and he starts throwing big elbows from his back but Minner surviving. Hall looks to advance to a straight armbar but Minner denies it and then he rolls to an omoplata attempt and ends the round with ground and pound. 20-18 Hall.

Final round and Hall rolls under a punch and secures a triangle attempt immediately from his back. Minner defends it well but Hall then switches and is able to get on top. He advances to full mount and is in complete control here, looking for an arm triangle.

Erin Blanchfield def Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the bout for Maverick as she steps forward aggressively and throws a few strong strikes. Maverick looks to step in with a right hand but Blanchfield ducks under and immediately has a body lock from the back. She maintains the lock and continuously forces Maverick to the ground with excellent wrestling. She moves to full guard and maintains position again, dragging Maverick to the mat every time she tries to get back to the feet. 10-9 Blanchfield.

Maverick starts up well with a little blitz but immediately Blanchfield is able to hip throw her and end up on top. Blanchfield quickly transitions to a crucifix position and starts blasting elbows down on Maverick, but she manages to just about escape as Blanchfield switches to an armbar attempt. Maverick just about defends but Blanchfield then goes for a kimura, but Maverick defends it well. Blanchfield switches to another armbar attempt but Maverick defends it by scissoring the head of her and the buzzer goes. 20-18.

Final round and Maverick is trying to go for a finish because she knows she needs it, but Blanchfield is landing well too. Clinch up against the cage and then Blanchfield catches a leg and moves straight into a takedown. She moves into top control and looks to dominate again and starts landing some big shots from mount. She controls the rest of the round from the top and claims a dominant decision win.

Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:13)

Good start to the fight for Anders as he takes the centre and starts to throw powerful strikes early. Muniz does well and throws a nice calf kick before throwing a short left hook. Anders goes for a right hand again and Muniz ducks under and changes levels with a big takedown. Muniz looks to pass from side control straight into mount but Anders defends it well. Anders gets to his feet but Muniz has a body lock and drags him back down after a bit of back and forth and takes the back. He threatens with a choke and then switches to an armbar attempt and forces the tap from Anders. What a performance.

PRELIMS

Bruno Silva def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1 (1:28)

Crazy start to this fight as Wright charges forward and looks to engage quickly with hard strikes. Wright continues to come forward and attack and he hurts Silva! They clinch up and Wright lands some big knees but Silva lands some big strikes too. They separate and Silva lands two huge blows and Wright is wobbled! Silva goes for the finish and drops him! Some huge shots and the referee steps in! What a KO by Silva!

Tai Tuivasa def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2 (0:26)

Slow and steady start so far with Tuivasa in the centre stalking Sakai, who’s throwing leg kicks and circling on the outside. Tuivasa goes for a nice combination and Sakai retreats, before they clinch up and Sakai lands a nice knee to the body. More knees to the body from Sakai as he holds Tuivasa close to him, before they separate and Tuivasa just misses with a big uppercut. Sakai landing heavy knees and hurting Tuivasa, but he then retaliates with a big right hand and forces Sakai to cover up before they clinch again to end the round. 10-9 Sakai, but Tuivasa looking dangerous too.

Second round and Tuivasa lands a huge left hook early and Sakai is rocked! Tuivasa steps forward and goes for the kill, landing huge hooks as Sakai tries to cover up. Another huge strike and Sakai is out coldddd! What a KO!

Dominick Cruz def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to this fight as both guys look to take the centre and trade leg kicks and movement. Munhoz throwing hard low kicks but Cruz making him miss big. Munhoz throwing bombs but only just missing and Cruz is doing well to land blitzes and flurries of strikes. Cruz goes for a big right hand and Munhoz lands first with a big left hand that drops him! Munhoz lands a huge left hook and goes for the finish but Cruz grabs a leg and somehow survives. He gets up and continues the pattern of the earlier fight. 10-9 Munhoz.

Second round and Munhoz coming forward again and looking for his big bombs. Cruz using his excellent footwork well again though and is using his speed brilliantly. Cruz throwing great combinations on the feet and Munhoz is eating shots, but there isn’t enough power in them to hurt him. Cruz throws a hard low kick that hurts Munhoz and continues to throw his strikes brilliantly. 19-19.

Final round and Cruz has definitely taken over now with his speed and footwork. Cruz has made his reads now and is landing his combinations well, but Munhoz is throwing powerful strikes back and just barely missing. Cruz lands a big one-two clean down the pipe and Munhoz is starting to back up a little. Munhoz lands some nice jabs but Cruz is too slick and is moving so well, throwing leg kicks and left hands. Cruz lands a big combo in the centre as the round comes to an end and that should be the comeback victory for him. 29-28 Cruz.

Josh Emmett def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nothing happens between these two in the opening minute and them Emmett explodes with a massive overhand right that drops Ige! Emmett goes down for a finish but Ige recovers quickly and starts to wrestle. Both guys scramble well and end up back to their feet where they separate. Ige taking the centre now and using his jab well and sees out the round relatively comfortably. 10-9 Emmett most likely for the knockdown, but could go either way in honesty.

Emmett comes out with a big right hand early once again but Ige takes it and continues to come forward. Good exchanges on the feet and Ige landing his jab well with movement and power. Emmett looking for one big shot but he keeps missing it. Ige replies with a big strikes and wobbles Emmett with a big left hook. He stays patient and Emmett eventually recovers. Ige staying so calm though and using that jab well again, circling on the outside and threatening then ending the round with a big right straight. 19-19, Ige round.

Final round and Ige takes the centre once again, looking to use that jab and counter with his left hook. Emmett still looking for the power right hand but Ige seems to have him scouted now. Emmett steps forward and throws a straight right down the middle and wobbles Ige but he recovers very quickly and circles out. Ige lands his jab over and over, but Emmett is being more aggressive and coming forward. Both guys are missing with big shots as we enter the final minute. Emmett ducks under a big head kick but then eats a big uppercut. Both guys throw a final flurry, but that’s a super tough fight to call. Great fight.



MAIN CARD

Sean O’Malley def Raulian Paiva via Knockout, Round 1 (4:42)

Composed start to this fight from both guys as Paiva looks for an early takedown attempt but O’Malley sidesteps him into the cage. Body kick grazes the cup of Paiva and causes a short pause in the action. Paiva throws a hard low kick that gets a reaction, before O’Malley steps in with a hard straight left hand. Paiva trying to apply pressure but O’Malley moving well and avoids a leg kick then lands two left jabs and a big right hand behind it. O’Malley steps well to his right and lands a huge right hand that wobbles Paiva! He stays composed and lands a beautiful combination that hurts him badly! Huge body shot and hook combo drops Paiva and the referee steps in, huge win for O’Malley! Amazing!

Kai Kara-France def Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 1 (3:21)

Lots of range finding in the opening minute of this fight as Garbrandt finds himself with his back against the cage circling, throwing some loose kicks. Kara-France just misses with a big overhand right and then just avoids a big right-hook from Garbrandt. Kara-France lands a big right hand that flattens Garbrandt! A big follow up shot drops him again but Garbrandt retreats and eggs him on, but he’s clearly hurt! Kara-France staying patient and then he lands a stunning combination that ends with a massive uppercut and Garbrandt is out! Kara-France lands a couple of strikes before Herb Dean steps in, but that’s that! What a KO!

Geoff Neal def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Steady start to the fight for Neal with plenty of bouncing on his toes and throwing his jab and some leg kicks, forcing Ponzinibbio backwards. Both guys trade leg kicks and are starting to try and hold their ground in the centre. Neal lands a nice high kick and the referee warns both fighters about having their fingers out. A few short strikes each but not much damage so far. Neal using his jab well and both guys exchange before an accidental low kick from Neal causes a pause. They get back to it and Ponzinibbio lands a huge one-two right on the buzzer to end the round. 10-9 Neal for me.

More active start to the round as Ponzinibbio comes forward with a hard low kick and some straight right hands. Big one-two from Ponzinibbio down the middle to counter Neal’s leg kick and then a short right hand from Neal lands too. Ponzinibbio changes levels and blasts a takedown before Neal sweeps him to get back to his feet nearly immediately. Hard left hand lands from Neal, but Ponzinibbio lands a nice left jab-right hand. Neal lands a hard right hand but then eats a big leg kick in return, before a one-two of his own down the middle into the final minute of the round. Neal lands a big shot and Ponzinibbio claims it was a finger but the referee says no. They stare at each other and then trade a couple of strikes before the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Ponzinibbio lands a right hand before Neal lands a left. More exchanges in the centre and Neal lands a hard right hook that wobbles Ponzinibbio but he recovers quickly and lands a hard low kick. Neal starting to come forward and throws his left hand before a left high kick that just misses. Right hand gets a reaction from Ponzinibbio again, but then he lands a hard low kick to get Neal to back up. Hard left hand from Neal lands but Ponzinibbio replies with a solid right hook himself. Hard low kick and Neal steps backwards, but then he counters another attempt with a right hand. Neal coming on strong with jabs but Ponzinibbio continues to come forward too. Neal lands a big three-punch combo with the left hand and Ponzinibbio is wobbled! Final 30 seconds and Ponzinibbio just misses with a right hand to end the fight. Good fight. 29-28 Neal for me.

Julianna Pena def Amanda Nunes via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 2 (3:26)

Nunes opens up with a hard low kick that drops Pena immediately. Nunes lets her up and kicks the leg again, before Pena tries to throw a small flurry. Nunes throws a right hand that drops Pena and then she eventually drops on top of her looking to control on the ground. Nunes looks to transition to the back for a rear-naked choke but Pena just about defends it, before Nunes gets back to top position. Pena threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Nunes stays patient, defends it and sees the round out on top. 10-9 champ.

Nunes takes the centre and she starts looking for huge strikes early doors but Pena isn’t going anywhere. Pena is landing her jab at will and Nunes is getting hurt! Nunes trying to slug it out but she’s slow and looks exhausted already. Pena keeps coming and is smashing Nunes up! Big strikes from Pena and Nunes is rocked! Pena goes for a takedown and immediately goes to the back and locks up a choke! NUNES TAPS! NUNES TAPS! AND NEWWWW!!!

Charles Oliveira def Dustin Poirier via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 3 (1:02)

Fast paced start to the fight as Oliveira looks to take the centre and land body shots and his jab, but Poirier lands a right hand that knocks Oliveira off balance. Oliveira lands a big strike of his own and backs Poirier up and then he clinches looking for knees. Poirier getting kicked in the body and firing back with big combinations and drops Oliveira again. He lands a huge shot on the ground but Oliveira ties him up and then Poirier stands them up again immediately. Body work from Oliveira again is affecting Poirier and the rounds ends. Wow. 10-9 Poirier.

Huge start to the second round again as the frantic pace starts again and Oliveira immediately goes in for a takedown against the cage. He drags Poirier to the ground but as he tries to escape Oliveira takes the back. Poirier tries to escape but Oliveira holds his arm in place and illegally holds the glove before rolling into full guard. He lands some huge, thudding elbows as Poirier looks to defend off his back. Oliveira absolutely dominant with pressure and elbows but Poirier survives. 19-19.

Oliveira comes out fast once again and shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to a body lock from behind. He drags Poirier down and then jumps on to his back, sinking in hooks and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. Poirier defending the hands but Oliveira continues to switch the grips, sinks in the choke and forces the tap! Amazing!! What a fight!

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Main card predictions

The final pay-per-view card of 2021 is finally upon us and it is absolutely stacked, with the lightweight championship bout between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier headlining the card.

‘Du Bronx’ is looking to legitimise his title reign when he takes on ‘Diamond’, who knows it is now or never to become undisputed champion during his career.

The co-main event features women’s G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes as she looks to silence all doubters when she takes on Julianna Pena in a bantamweight title fight.

Also on the main card will see the flyweight debut of Cody Garbrandt, who is looking to prove it’s the perfect weight class for him while Sean O’Malley hopes to kickstart a huge 2022 for himself when he takes on Raulian Paiva.

Last time at UFC Vegas 44 we had a pretty good night with our picks, as we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to move to 491/765 (64.18%) with 207 perfect picks (42.16%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this massive 15-fight card and after starting with the early prelims, and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.


Raulian Paiva (21-3) vs Sean O’Malley (14-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger in the bantamweight division to open the main card. Paiva is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC thanks to victories over Mark De la Rosa, Zhalgas Zhumagulov and most recently Kyler Phillips at UFC Vega 32. O’Malley bounced back from his only career defeat against Marlon Vera after a leg injury to earn back-to-back highlight reel KO’s against Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 and Kris Moutinho at UFC 264.

Paiva is a well-rounded fighter with good striking technique and decent takedowns to earn top control. O’Malley on the other hand is a specialist striker with legitimate one-punch power. He’s also a very skilled jiu-jitsu grappler, it’s just not something he needs to use much because of how good his striking is. ‘Suga’ is excellent and changing angles and mixing up his attacks with kicks and punches and to the head and body.

O’Malley has a big height and reach advantage, has a clear power advantage in the striking battle, is the better grappler of the two and is on an upwards trajectory. Paiva has a chance if he checks kicks and can get top position, but realistically I expect O’Malley to put his lights out after putting on a show yet again.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 2

Kai Kara-France (22-9) vs Cody Garbrandt (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A former champion debuts in a new weight class in this one. Kai Kara-France welcomes Garbrandt to the division on a 2-2 run. He was submitted by Brandon Royval at UFC 253 but bounced back with a KO win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 259. Garbrandt has lost four of his last five at bantamweight, with a KO win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 sandwiched between two losses to TJ Dillashaw, Pedro Munhoz and most recently Rob Font.

Kara-France is a well skilled all-rounder, with good boxing combinations and power mixed in with decent wrestling and good kicks. He’ll have a reach advantage over Garbrandt, who is a great boxer with tremendous one-punch power and good wrestling too. This is a really even match up because Kara-France’s abilities are similar to that of Font, who beat Garbrandt last time out.

If Garbrandt is to win he needs to use his power strikes and wrestling, much like he tried to do against Font too. He has the speed to match up with Kara-France and the power to end the fight in one shot, but with the reach advantage on ‘Dont Blink’s side he could land first in any exchanges. Ultimately, the big experience factor and power edge leans me towards picking ‘No Love’, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
PICK – Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 2

Geoff Neal (13-4) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Banger at welterweight up next between two guys who are desperate to get a win and get back up the rankings. Neal has lost his last two, getting taken the distance by Stephen Thompson at UFC Vegas 17 and then Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 26. Ponzinibbio on the other hand returned from a long lay-off to get KO’d by Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7 before earning a big decision win over Miguel Baeza at UFC Vegas 28.

Neal is a solid southpaw striker with genuine knockout power and some good wrestling skills in his back pocket too. Ponzinibbio is a top level boxer with good power, but injuries have taken their toll on his career to date. Neal’s best attacks are his straight left hand and left kick, which will be wide open against the orthodox Ponzinibbio.

Ponzinibbio will need to establish range and use pressure to force longer striking exchanges, where his superior boxing skills and combinations can land and cause damage. Neal is likely to stall the fight in those instances with clinches to stop any momentum, and land that body kick and left hand. I don’t think this one ends early and it’ll be razor close throughout 15 minutes, but with Neal looking gun shy in his last two bouts I think Ponzinibbio will be able to be busier to claim a win.
PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision



Amanda Nunes (21-4) vs Julianna Pena (11-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The women’s G.O.A.T makes her return to the bantamweight division for the first time in two years. Nunes is on a UFC-high 12-fight win streak, with her last two wins coming at featherweight against Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson at UFC 259. Pena on the other hand has just two wins since 2017, beating Sara McMann at UFC 257 to claim this title shot against her long-time rival.

Nunes is the best ever for a reason. She has abnormal punching power on the feet, is a tremendous boxer with great combinations and has the ability to wrestle and submit opponents with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to her name too. Pena on the other hand is a jiu-jitsu fighter with good wrestling herself and she looks to secure top position and work from there.

This fight is only happening because Nunes needs to defend her belt and Pena just keeps saying her name out loud. ‘Lioness’ has the advantage in every single aspect of this fight and it’s really up to her how she wants to finish this one. I think Nunes blitzes her early to make a statement and claims a vicious KO victory early doors.
PICK – Amanda Nunes via Knockout, Round 1

Charles Oliveira (31-8) vs Dustin Poirier (28-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Without a doubt my favourite fight of the year, and it’s for the lightweight championship of the world. Oliveira is on an amazing nine-fight win streak which includes a dominant win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 before winning the belt by knocking out Michael Chandler at UFC 262. Poirier on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his first undisputed title shot back at UFC 242 to defeat Dan Hooker in a war at UFC Vegas 4 before back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 and UFC 264.

Oliveira is a scarily good all-rounder, with the most submission wins in UFC history to add to some new-found striking credentials that have seen him generate fight-ending power. Poirier is one of the best boxers in the UFC with brilliant cardio, great power in both hands and a good wrestling game too. This is such a good fight, because both fighters excel everywhere but are at their most comfortable in different places.

If Oliveira is to be successful, he needs to make this a grappling match. Much like against Ferguson, he can take the fight down and use his amazing jiu-jitsu to secure a submission win or control for long periods. While the fight is on the feet though, Poirier is the man in the driving seat. His takedown defence is good and his ability to mix up his attacks stand him in good stead, because Oliveira won’t hide from the striking exchanges. Because of that I think Poirier keeps the fight standing for long periods, does damage with his combinations before eventually earning a stoppage at some point in the championship rounds to finally become champion.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Knockout, Round 4