Tag Archives: Chris Gutierrez

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the mecca of combat sports for UFC 281 when Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight crown against long-time rival Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden.

The two kickboxing rivals will go toe-to-toe in the octagon to see who is MMA’s best middleweight in the headline fight of the card, but is supported by one of the most stacked cards of the year.

In the co-main event we have the strawweight title on the line as Carla Esparza makes her first defence against former champion Weili Zhang, while Dustin Poirier will meet Michael Chandler in a lightweight war and Frankie Edgar has his retirement bout among other things.

Last week at UFC Vegas 64 we had a rough time with our picks going 6/11 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 766/1188 (64.48%) with 319 perfect picks (41.64%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Dan Hooker (21-12) vs Claudio Puelles (13-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun lightweight fight up next. Hooker is currently in freefall, losing four of his last five across two weight divisions. He dropped first round finishes to Michael Chandler (UFC 257), Islam Makhachev (UFC 267) and Arnold Allen (UFC London) most recently, but did claim a decision win over Nasray Haqparast at UFC 266. Puelles on the other hand has won his last five in a row, including each of his last two via kneebar against Chris Gruetzemacher (UFC Vegas 44) and Clay Guida most recently.

Hooker is a very technical striker with excellent range and kicks, as well as great durability on the feet despite the first-round finishes recently. He’s a good boxer, has good power and an amazing gas tank, so can cause anyone problems on his day. Puelles on the other hand is a superb jiu-jitsu practitioner who wants this fight on the ground by any means necessary. That will be hard because his wrestling isn’t the best and Hooker’s takedown defence is usually very good.

Hooker has more paths to victory in this fight. He’s the better striker by a distance, has more varied attacks and has the defence to nullify Puelles’ best attacks. But he’s been in freefall for a while now and if he isn’t the fighter he once was, he’ll get beaten here. I do expect that he’ll be able to do what he does best though, and that’s force a high-pace kickboxing fight. I saw enough against Haqparast that he’s still got something to give to the division, just not against the very top guys, and Puelles isn’t that yet.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Decision

Frankie Edgar (23-10-1) vs Chris Gutierrez (18-3-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A retirement fight in his back yard, this is Edgar’s farewell. He’s coming into this off the back of four defeats in his last five, with nasty KO losses against Cory Sandhagen (UFC Vegas 18) and Marlon Vera (UFC 268) in his last two bouts. Gutierrez has won six of his last seven, with a draw against Cody Durden stopping it being a 7-fight win streak. He has beaten Andre Ewell (UFC 258), Felipe Colares and Batgerel Danaa via KO in his most recent fights.

Edgar is one of the most well-rounded fighters in UFC history, but his wrestling has always been his bread and butter and where he has the most success. Mix that in with unbelievable heart and durability, and Edgar is a future hall of famer. Gutierrez on the other hand is a violent striker with vicious Muay-Thai and incredible kicks to go with a destructive right hand. He will kick the living daylights out of Edgar’s lead leg. Guaranteed.

It’s all about if Edgar can cope with that. My guess is he can’t. He’s been out for a year after back-to-back violent KO’s and that legendary chin has left him. He knows he’s retiring after this bout, and this is a hungry Gutierrez who as all the tools to send the crowd home unhappy. Edgar’s done and he knows it, this is a passing of the torch moment.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Decision

Dustin Poirier (28-7) vs Michael Chandler (23-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Fight of the night right here, and maybe even fight of the year. Poirier is 3-2 in his last five, with those defeats coming in title fights to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira (UFC 269) via submission. He beat Dan Hooker (UFC Vegas 4) and Conor McGregor twice (UFC 257 and UFC 264) to earn those positions. Chandler on the other hand is 2-2 in the UFC with violent KO’s against Hooker and Tony Ferguson most recently, while he was beaten by Oliveira for the belt (UFC 262) and Justin Gaethje in an unbelievable fight (UFC 268).

Poirier is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC with excellent boxing skills and some good wrestling too, but he also has great power and a phenomenal gas tank to work with. Chandler is one of the better wrestlers in the division with a solid double leg takedown, but he also has tremendous power and durability too as shown against Gaethje in their war. This is going to be explosive, but I think Poirier has the edge pretty much everywhere.

He’s more powerful, has more volume, better accuracy and more variety to his game. He’s more than good enough when wrestling defensively to deal with that, and his combinations will do real damage to Chandler’s chin, where he usually takes the one big haymaker well. It will be fast paced and could well go the distance, but I think “The Diamond” makes a statement with this one.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Knockout, Round 2



Carla Esparza (20-6) vs Weili Zhang (22-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweight title fight up next in the co-main event. Esparza has won six in a row, winning the title at UFC 274 in one of the worst fights of all time against Rose Namajunas. Zhang bounced back after consecutive losses to Namajunas (UFC 261 & UFC 268) with a stunning KO win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in their hotly anticipated rematch at UFC 275 to get another title shot.

Esparza is a wrestler, who tends to throw potshots in the hope of a reaction before shooting for the takedown and controlling her opponent on the mat. Zhang on the other hand is an absolute powerhouse with unbelievable speed and power on the feet, but she’s also a solid wrestler herself with good submission abilities. It’s weird to see the challenger so heavily favoured over the champion, but it’s hard to argue with in this instance.

Zhang has the advantage in all the striking and with physicality, but Esparza is by far and away the best wrestler she will have ever come up against. Esparza is able to be relentless with her attempts over 25 minutes, but Zhang should just be able to overwhelm her and really make a statement. Expect “Magnum” to overcome a slow first round to claim a big KO win in the early rounds.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 2

Israel Adesanya (23-1) vs Alex Pereira (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch years in the making, but in an entirely different sport and with very different stakes. Adesanya is undefeated in the 185-pound division in the UFC, with five successful title defences against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa (UFC 253), Marvin Vettori (UFC 263), Robert Whittaker (UFC 271) and Jared Cannonier (UFC 276). Pereira is 3-0 in the UFC with knockout wins over Andreas Michailidis (UFC 268) and Sean Strickland (UFC 276), plus an impressive decision win over Bruno Silva between those.

Both of these guys are world class, world champion kickboxers who excel in the striking realm. They fought twice previously with Pereira winning both times, once by decision and once by violent knockout. But that second bout was going in Adesanya’s favour until “Poatan” landed that ridiculous left hook of his. The game plan will be similar for both men, stand and strike and prove they’re the best. But in MMA it’s a different animal.

Adesanya will be able to move more with a bigger cage and less sharp corners to be trapped in, while he’s also arguably the better grappler of the two if he wants to throw that in there to catch Pereira off guard. I doubt he will, but he could. I think his speed advantage is the big thing here though. He’s much quicker than Pereira and while the striking exchanges will be close, I expect Izzy will leave more of a lasting impression. His cardio should hold up well too into the latter rounds such is his experience, and I expect he’ll exact his revenge to claim another title fight victory and cement himself as the best in the world.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Decision

UFC Columbus: Blaydes vs Daukaus – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the USA and a full crowd for a fight night event this weekend as Curtis Blaydes fights Chris Daukaus in Columbus.

After an amazing trip to London, we have another heavyweight main event this time with two fighters battling to stay in top five conversations and enter their name into the round-robin that’s buzzing in Francis Ngannou’s absence.

We’ll also see a huge flyweight eliminator between Askar Askarov and Kai Kara-France to see who could be the next title contender in the division.

Last time out at UFC London we had a great night, going 10/12 with our picks with three perfect picks to move up to 578/891 (64.87%) with 244 perfect picks (42.21%).

We’ll look to improve on that and after starting with the early prelims here, we move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Aliaskhab Khizriev (13-0) vs Denis Tiuliulin (10-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Two big debutants go head to head in the middleweight division up next. Khizriev is an undefeated 13-0 fighter, with victories split fairly evenly at 5-4-4 between knockouts, submissions and decisions. Tiuliulin has won four of his last five fights, including a first-round TKO last time out over a year ago.

This will be Khizriev’s second fight in just four years due to fights falling out and the COVID pandemic, but his talent is undeniable. He is a solid striker on the feet with good boxing skills, but he also has tremendous submission skills and is a brilliant wrestler. Tiuliulin is an explosive striker with very little ground game and after taking this fight on just three weeks’ notice, he better hope that Khizriev is rusty.

I just don’t see that he will be though, despite his lack of action recently. Khizriev will drag him to the mat very early on and while Tiuliulin flops around on the mat like a fish out of water, Khizriev will be deciding whether he looks for a choke or to just land violent elbows from the top. My guess is he wraps up a neck and gets the tap early on for a comfortable win.
PICK – Aliaskhab Khizriev via Submission, Round 1

Chris Gutierrez (17-3-2) vs Batgerel Danaa (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Exciting bantamweights go toe-to-toe up next in this one. Gutierrez is undefeated in his last six fights, with a draw against Cody Durden stopping it being flawless. He’s earned decisions against Andre Ewell (UFC 258) and Felipe Colares (UFC Vegas 39) in his last two fights. Danaa has won his last three in a row, earning first-round KO’s against Guido Cannetti (UFC 248), Kevin Natividad (UFC 261) and Brandon Davis (UFC Vegas 40).

Gutierrez and Danaa are both strong strikers with good power, volume and accuracy and both will be coming up for the toughest test of their careers so far against each other. Gutierrez is a sharp boxer with good technique, while Danaa is just pure power who tries to back his opponents up to the cage and tee off until the get chopped down. Gutierrez mixes in kicks a little bit more to his attacks, especially chopping at the lead leg and that could be the difference here.

Danaa will come forward without a doubt but Gutierrez will look to chop away at the leg and body from range with his legs and then punish him on the feet with crisp technique if he gets past that barrier of defence. Danaa has good wrestling, but he tends to ignore it, and that should allow Gutierrez to do enough damage to accumulate for a nice finish midway through.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Knockout, Round 2



Sara McMann (12-6) vs Karol Rosa (15-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An intriguing bantamweight bout between two talented women up next. McMann has lost three of her last four, with the most recent coming against Julianna Pena at UFC 257, while Rosa is on a six-fight win streak and a decision over Bethe Correia at UFC Vegas 38 in her most recent bout.

McMann is a 41-year-old freestyle wrestler who is way past her prime years right now and doesn’t really have any place being on the roster right now. Rosa on the other hand has gone from strength to strength in her UFC appearances, with her straight striking doing damage and some decent grappling in her own right. McMann’s game plan is obvious and the same in every fight. She will wrestle and look for top position then try to hold them down and advance for head-and-arm chokes. Rosa has an over 90% takedown defence though, and is capable of holding her own on the ground if she needs to also.

Rosa is a heavy favourite in this fight for a reason and I’d be absolutely stunned if she lost this. Her striking volume is excellent, she mixes in kicks, knees and punches really well, is more active and just overall better. Expect Rosa to run her over over 15 minutes.
PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision

Neil Magny (25-9) vs Max Griffin (18-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Big welterweight bout is the featured prelim fight of the night. Magny bounced back from a suffocating defeat to Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Island 8 by earning a dominant win against Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 26, while Griffin is on a three-fight win streak including a decision win over Carlos Condit most recently at UFC 264.

Magny is a great wrestler, who uses his length and range to keep fighters against the cage and then tries to take them down and control them on the ground. He’s got a good point style for his striking too, but he’s not really elite in any field. Griffin on the other hand is a decent boxer with good power in his hands, but he’s also a primary wrestler and I don’t see him as being better at that than Magny. Griffin is very explosive with his striking, but this seems like a tough bout for him.

Magny is good at fighting on the back foot and throwing lots of volume, but that leaves the door open for Griffin to land power shots. His best bet will be to break up the rhythm with clinches and takedown attempts, while landing good strikes from range to claim a relatively comfortable decision win.
PICK – Neil Magny via Decision

UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs Rodriguez – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a strawweight main event that could decide the next title contender for the division.

Mackenzie Dern looks to continue her win streak when she goes up against Marina Rodriguez in the main event, with both women aware that a win could pit them against the winner of Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 at UFC 268 next month.

Elsewhere on the card is a fun welterweight clash between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while there is also an exciting flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau as well as the return of heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.

Last week at UFC Vegas 38, we went 7/11 on picks with just one perfect pick to move us up to 428/670 (63.88%) with 184 perfect picks (42.99%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this ten-fight card, starting with the prelims.


Steve Garcia (11-4) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting fight to start off the card as two fighters who lost their UFC debuts clash here. Garcia made his UFC debut in February 2020 against Luis Pena, while Ontiveros is a previous welterweight who made his debut at middleweight and got slammed to defeat by Kevin Holland last year at UFC Vegas 12.

Garcia is a natural featherweight who has decided to stick around at lightweight for now, with good striking volume and decent power. Ontiveros is another with great strength in the striking department. Both have been absolutely battered on the ground in the past and that means this should be a fun, stand-up affair.

With that said though, it’s unlikely to last very long. Between them they have had 33 professional fights and only one of them has taken place at lightweight before but further to that, Ontiveros has been KO’d SEVEN times in his career. This doesn’t stand to go better for him, with Garcia powerful enough to fold him early.
PICK – Steve Garcia via Knockout, Round 1

Lupita Godinez (5-1) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A short-notice strawweight bout here as ‘Loopy’ takes on debutant Silvana Gomez Juarez. Godinez suffered a split-decision loss on her debut to Jessica Penne back in April, while Juarez is on a three-fight win streak as she makes her UFC debut.

Godinez is a striker first with some decent grappling in her back pocket too, but lots of volume and a great gas tank. Juarez is a brilliant striker on the other hand, with a brilliant boxing stance and even a 4-0 professional boxing record. She is a cardio machine with good power and great cardio too, even though she is 37.

Juarez has the edge on the feet and Godinez really needs to make this an ugly fight to get the win. Short-notice helps her, but Juarez was due to fight next week anyway on the Contender Series so it’s not a massive factor. However the grappling is a big factor for Godinez and I think she’ll be able to control from the top to grind out a decision.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision

Charles Rosa (14-5) vs Damon Jackson (18-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very interesting grapple-heavy bout in the featherweight division up next. Rosa has alternated wins and losses ever since joining the UFC in 2014, beating Justin Jaynes most recently at UFC Vegas 30. Jackson is 1-1 in the UFC, beating Mirsad Bektic at UFC Vegas 11 before defeat last time out against Ilia Topuria at UFC Vegas 16.

Rosa is a solid submission artist with eight tap-out wins in his career but some really poor takedown defence. Jackson is also a brilliant grappler and one of the premiere back-takers in the UFC, with 14 submission wins in his career. His top control game is really, really good and if Rosa leaves any limbs dangling then Jackson will take them.

Jackson has been KO’d three times in his career and Rosa is a decent enough striker to land some clean shots and hurt him, but overall the defensive takedown struggles of Rosa lead me to believe that Jackson will be able to get on top and control for a win.
PICK – Damon Jackson via Decision

Alexandr Romanov (14-0) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight banger coming up as the undefeated Romanov returns to the cage to take on Vanderaa. Romanov has run through opponents in the UFC until he came up against Juan Espino, with the fight ending in a technical decision after a low blow saw the fight ended early. Vanderaa got a win the last time out when he beat Justin Tafa back in May, taking his UFC record to 1-1.

Romanov is an absolute monster with the wrestling, who just charges forward with a takedown and dominates on the ground with pure aggression. Vanderaa is a fighter with decent striking and some good cardio, but considering he’s a heavyweight he doesn’t have the most power in the world. He is the cleaner and more technical fighter in this bout, but Vanderaa likes to clinch up and get inside on his opponent which plays into the strengths of Romanov.

Unfortunately for Vanderaa, that is just not ideal. Romanov will find a way to get the fight down to the ground early and do plenty of damage with strikes and submission attempts, before probably getting a finish.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1

Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2) vs Felipe Colares (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Banger in the bantamweight division steps into the place of the featured prelim bout in this one. Gutierrez is unbeaten in his last five with four wins and a draw, beating Andre Ewell at UFC 258 most recently, while Colares has alternated wins and losses in his last four with a win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 25 last time out.

Gutierrez is a decent wrestler who is one of the best leg kickers in the entire company, with a large percentage of his strikes in all his fights being leg kicks. Colares on the other hand is a solid striker with some decent jiu-jitsu, but his takedown defence is lacking and often his weakness. Gutierrez is often someone who works at quite a slow pace, which could work against him in this one because Colares is quick and super durable.

That said though, Gutierrez has the advantage in the wrestling and has the advantage in the striking which means Colares will need to catch a kick to get him down. That’s unlikely and I think Gutierrez will be able to piece him up from range and do lots of damage with the leg kicks for a decision win.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Decision

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Results (Highlights)

**Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick was cancelled hours before the event after Robertson withdrew due to a non-covid related illness.**

**Jim Miller vs Bobby Greene was cancelled the day before the event due to Greene collapsing following his weight cut.**


EARLY PRELIMS

Gabe Green def Phil Rowe via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the fight as Rowe opens with a leg kick and flicks out some long punches to use his range. Both men exchange leg kicks but Rowe lands a couple of nice right hands. Green looking to go first with his strikes but Rowe using his footwork well to step away. The two clinch up and Green gets a takedown, but Rowe quickly reverses the position and ends up in mount. Rowe looks for a few submissions but Green defends well and eventually gets back up to his feet and goes for a submission of his own. Rowe defends it well and eventually gets back up, with the two clinching against the cage to end the round. 10-9 Rowe.

Fast start to the round for Green as he comes out with a heavy low kick that drops Rowe! He gets on with some ground and pound but Rowe gets up quickly and the two start exchanging heavy strikes. Green throws a body kick but it hits Rowe in the cup and there is a short pause in the fight. The two come back and Green lands a huge right hook that wobbles Rowe! He looks for the kill with big shots against the cage but then accidentally lands another low blow that allows a pause for Rowe to recover. They come out swinging again and Green lands some nice shots before Rowe lands a flying knee and clinches up quickly. They break and meet in the middle and Rowe lands a huge right hand but Green eats it and keeps coming forward. Green throws another heavy leg kick and Rowe drops again, so Green throws some ground and pound until the end of the round. 19-19.

Green lands a big leg kick early in the round and immediately Rowe starts hobbling and limping. Green tries to throw a head kick but Rowe catches it and shoots for the takedown and gets it. Green tries to get up and transitions into a leg lock but doesn’t really know what he’s doing there and as they try to get up again, Rowe trips him and gets another takedown. Green fighting off his back and not really trying to get back to his feet weirdly, so Rowe continues riding him from mount until Green finally gets up with 90 seconds to go. Green throws a big leg kick again that drops Rowe but then he steps in for ground and pound and Rowe is able to clinch up and battle until the end of the round. I think the top control has won this for Rowe, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)

A tactical start to this one with both men flowing between stances, with Gutierrez feinting a lot while Ewell is flicking out right hands. Ewell lands a flush left hand but Gutierrez eats it and the tactical battle continues, with some leg kicks beginning to be thrown. Not much action as we enter the final minute, with Ewell on his bike and circling. Gutierrez rushes in to close the distance and they clinch against the cage, which allows Gutierrez to land a nice knee to the body and he’s opened a cut above Ewell’s eye. We enter the final 10 seconds and Ewell dips for hook and Gutierrez counters with a big head kick that drops him! He charges for the finish but the buzzer may well have saved him. 10-9 Gutierrez.

Ewell still looks a little wobbly as they come out for the second round and Gutierrez is landing some nice leg kicks again that are taking their toll on Ewell’s movement. Ewell is trying to counter Gutierrez’s striking with his range but he’s not landing anything of note. Gutierrez’s lack of volume costing him again at the moment as Ewell continues to move and uses his left jab well to land more frequently. Ewell pushes forward and forces an exchange, catches a kick and gets a takedown with 40 seconds to go in the round. He looks for a heel hook and has it in deep but Gutierrez is able to escape as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Gutierrez comes out strong and is throwing heavy leg kicks again and even gets Ewell to acknowledge the pain. Gutierrez starting to up the pace a little and pushes forward and lands a huge spin kick that Ewell eats. More leg kicks and Ewell is struggling to stand now, so he starts landing some big punches that have Ewell wobbling. More leg kicks from Gutierrez and Ewell is really struggling to move around, but he doesn’t have the power to put Gutierrez away. Ewell looks for a takedown late on but Gutierrez stuffs it and ends the round looking for a submission. Great round for him and that should be a win for Gutierrez.

Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:18)

Quick start to the round from both women as they stand and exchange before Martin grabs for a clinch and Viana pulls guard immediately. Viana starts throwing lots of elbows on the ground and is moving constantly to prevent Martin from holding her down. She throws up a triangle and it’s in tightttt! Martin tries to escape but Viana grabs and arm and starts throwing elbows to the head with the triangle still synched in. Martin is still fighting it and stands up and tries to slam Viana, which just makes the triangle tighter. She refuses to tap and Viana starts attacking the arm, first going for an Americana and then she transitions to a full armbar before she gets the tap. What a performance from the Brazilian!

Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Immediate pressure from Muhammad who walks straight over to Lima and starts pressuring him. He shoots for a takedown against the cage but Lima defends it will and they separate. Nice leg kicks in response from Lima land well, but Muhammad continues to come forward with big, looping hooks and some body work. Straight left hand lands from Muhammad as he fakes the level change and he’s controlling the pace of this fight. Takedown attempt from Muhammad again and he gets it in deep but Lima is able to defend it once more. Lima throws a big right hand that snaps the head back of Muhammad and gets his attention. Muhammad responds with a beautiful combination of jabs, hooks and body shots to take back control and see the round out. 10-9.

Muhammad comes out and once again looks to control the range by backing Lima up against the cage and throwing nice combinations. Lima throwing out some jabs of his own but Muhammad really dominating the striking exchanges early on. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad but easily defended by Lima to keep the fight on the feet. Big overhand right from Muhammad lands but Lima responds with a calf kick that wobbles him! Lima throws two more in the exchanges that follow but Muhammad is trying to grit his teeth and keep going, pushing the pace still. Muhammad’s pace starting to take it’s toll on Lima, who’s breathing heavy, and he shoots in for a takedown which Lima defends again. Round ends with the two clinching against the cage, in what should go Muhammad’s way. 20-18.

Lima opens the round with a leg kick and then a head kick, but Muhammad comes back with some big shots of his own. Muhammad shoots in for a takedown again and manages to take the back while standing, but Lima defends really well against the cage. Muhammad pouring on the pressure now and landing some solid strikes against the cage before shooting for another takedown that gets stuffed. Lima breathing really heavy now and eats a huge right hand but Muhammad just keeps coming forward, landing jabs and one-twos to the face. Lima goes for a single leg takedown but he’s exhausted and Muhammad easily stuffs it and starts pouring on more shots. Muhammad shoots for a takedown again and finally gets it with a minute to go in the fight. Muhammad takes the back but Lima stands with him on top of him still as Muhammad reigns down punches until the end of the round. 30-27, great performance.

Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:53)

An immediate takedown shot from Vieira allows him in deep and he picks Hernandez up and slams him down immediately. He ends up on top and starts pressuring for an arm triangle immediately, then switches to take the back. He looks to crank the neck, but Hernandez turns and allows him into mount before defending an armbar attempt and getting back to the feet. Hernandez pours the pressure on and starts landing bombs and Vieira is hurt! Hernandez is landing huge strikes and now he’s going for a choke but the buzzer goes and saves him! What a round! 10-9 Hernandez.

Second round starts and Hernandez knows that Vieira is out on his feet already. He’s completely exhausted and Vieira is throwing kicks, elbows and hooks looking to take his head off. A huge elbow lands from Hernandez and opens up a massive cut on his face! Vieira is out on his feet and shoots for a takedown but it’s easily defended by Hernandez, who syncs in a guillotine choke and forces Vieira to tap out! Unbelievable!

MAIN CARD

Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 3 (4:17)

No feeling out process in this one as Pitolo comes out and immediately throws a calf kick, a head kick and then a combination of strikes that ends with an uppercut. They clinch up against the cage and Pitolo seems like the stronger man off the bat and eventually gets a takedown. Pitolo completely dominating on the ground and landing some heavy ground and pound as Marquez works his way back up to his knees, before Pitolo looks to drag him back down again. He gets up again and Pitolo just starts grinding him against the cage but Marquez throws him off and then sinks in a guillotine! Pitolo stays standing and is able to fight the hands to break the grip before Marquez lands a heavy right hand to end the round. 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round starts out on the feet and Marquez looking to take the centre and establish a striking battle. He gets the better of the first couple of exchanges and then a kick from Marquez grazes the cup and the fight is paused for a short while. Fight resumes and Marquez comes marching forward again and slips, which allows Pitolo to grab onto his body and start wrestling again. He rag dolls Marquez for a few seconds before a striking exchange and change of levels allows Marquez to go for that guillotine again! It looks like it’s in really tight but Pitolo rolls through and escapes. Some good ground and pound from Marquez but Pitolo explodes up and is able to get on top himself once again. The rest of the round has Pitolo landing solid ground and pound and searching for submissions, 20-18 Pitolo.

Marquez comes out hard in the final round knowing he needs the finish. Lots of heavy strikes from Marquez land hard and Pitolo is looking tired. Body kick lands and Marquez lands big against the cage with a spinning elbow! Pitolo moves away but he’s rocked and shoots for a takedown, which Marquez defends with a guillotine again. Pitolo eventually gets the takedown and moves for a submission but Marquez escapes and starts landing huge strikes again. Big three punch combo rocks Pitolo and then he lands a big knee to the head. Pitolo shoots again but Marquez stuffs it and sinks in a d’arce choke for the win! What a round! Unbelievable!

Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this fight as both fighters meet in the middle of the octagon and exchange before Simon shoots and scores a takedown. He immediately starts throwing big ground and pound strikes and as Kelleher looks to escape he jumps back on him and takes the back. Kelleher has a big cut above his eye as Simon squeezes him and looks to grind him. More ground and pound before Kelleher eventually gets to his feet, with the cut really bothering him. More pressure from Simon, who gets another takedown before Kelleher fights his way back up before the end of the round. 10-9 Simon.

Another fast start for Simon as he comes in quickly with some jabs and lovely uppercut to the body. Kelleher responds with a front kick to the face that snaps Simon’s head back, but he continues to come forward and lands another body shot. Another big front kick to the face lands from Kelleher but Simon eats it and walks forward for a takedown, but Keller is able to get back to his feet quickly. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and check them well, before Simon shoots in for a takedown and gets it – avoiding the guillotine attempt from Kelleher. They clinch against the cage and Simon throws a big spinning elbow on the break that just misses. Fun round, 20-18 Simon.

Bit of a slower start to this one, with Simon happy to circle on the outside as Kelleher comes forward. Some nice upwards elbows from Simon look good before he ducks under an attempted elbow from Kelleher and clinches up. Simon changes levels against the cage and takes him down, with Kelleher looking for a guillotine but Simon gets out easily and starts landing nice ground and pound to the face. Kelleher goes for a kimura from the bottom but Simon defends it by reversing the position and going for his own kimura, which allows Kelleher to scramble back to his feet. Simon keeps him against the cage and takes the back, landing big knees and just dominating the position and then holding his own in the striking for what should be a comfortable win. 30-27 Simon.

Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Heinisch comes out early and quickly and lands a leg kick followed by shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Gastelum quickly gets to his feet and rolls through to end up on top, so Heinisch attacks a kimura. He’s got the arm extended but Gastelum stays calm and is able to escape it. He takes Heinisch down again and ends up in mount, but another kimura attempt allows him to get towards the cage and kick off it to escape. Clinch against the cage and Gastelum changes levels to score takedowns, although he is unable to keep Heinisch down. Both men miss a head kick as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum.

Heinisch looking to land heavy shots early in this second round with wild hooks and cracks Gastelum twice, but he just eats it and walks forward. Flying knee lands clean from Heinisch, but Gastelum catches the leg too and ends up with a takedown. Heinisch gets back to his feet and Gastelum lands a leg kick, then clinches against the cage again. Another shot from Gastelum as he gets a body lock and pushes Heinisch all the way back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Gastelum, but Heinisch trying to make it a dirty fight with more wild exchanges. Wild hook misses and Gastelum shoots and drives to the cage again to end the round, 20-18 Kelvin.

Gastelum starts the round with a lazy shot that is easily defended by Heinisch, who then shoots for his own takedown and gets it before Gastelum scrambles back to his feet quickly. Gastelum using his jab and straight left hand more in this round, as Heinisch goes for a flying knee that gets caught once again and ends up with Gastelum on top of him. Beautiful roll through from Heinisch sees him reverse the position and take Gastelum’s back. He lands some nice ground and pound as he searches for a submission but Gastelum is able to reverse and ends up on top before they get back to the feet and clinch. Looping left hook by Gastelum misses and and Heinisch shoots and gets one last takedown, although Gastelum reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own to end on top. 30-27, he’s back in the win column.

Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight from Grasso as both women throw out a few feeler strikes before clinching up against the cage and coming to a stalemate before separating. Sharp one-two from Grasso lands flush on the chin of Barber and forces her to move in for another clinch position. Nice elbow lands in the clinch from Grasso before Barber throws some nice knees in the clinch. Big elbow and left hand on the break from Barber lands clean but Grasso eats it. Both girls lands huge shots that land clean on each other before they clinch up and see the round out. 10-9 Grasso, but it’s close.

Barber throwing a lot of feints from way out of range that are serving little to no purpose other than wasting energy right now. Short exchange leads to a clinch before a quick separation before both women lands huge right hands at the same time. Barber seems to be rocked a little more than Grasso from it and they clinch up again. Barber lands an elbow on the break before they clinch up once again. Barber separates and throws a straight left hand that lands clean before a right hook follows it up. Grasso ends up on her back and Barber goes hunting for ground and pound, but Grasso transitions with an armbar attempt then switches to a head-and-arm choke before taking the back and ending the round in dominant fashion. 20-18 Grasso.

Barber comes out in the third throwing wild strikes with no real end goal to them as Grasso keeps out of range and looks calm. Grasso eats a right hand and then they clinch against the cage, with Grasso landing big knees to the body. Nice trip by Barber gets her into top position and she lands a huge elbow on the ground. A few more shots and Grasso gets back to her feet. Barber lands a knee in the clinch and keeps throwing big hooks and power punches that have got Grasso wobbling. Another clinch as Barber fails with a takedown attempt, with Barber throwing big elbows from the clinch too. Final 30 seconds and Barber going hell for leather but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the win. 29-28 Grasso.

Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns via Knockout, Round 3 (0:34)

Crazy start to the fight as Burns comes out early and lands a huge right hand that rocks Usman! Burns pours on the pressure early but Usman defends himself with a jab and some composure. Burns goes for a head kick but Usman catches it and sends him to the mat, but then doesn’t follow him down. The next two minutes are spent with Burns on his back tempting Usman to come to the ground, but instead he just kicks the legs and throws body shots. They get back to the feet and Usman lands a stiff jab several times and stuffs a Burns takedown attempt to end the round. Fun stuff! 10-9 either way, but to Usman for me. Just.

Slower start to this round from both fighters, as Burns takes the centre of the octagon again. Usman’s jab still landing nicely, but Burns coming forward with an overhand right that seems to stun Usman whenever it lands. The jab is having a big effect, and Usman throws a big overhand right that lands flush and hurts Burns! He follows up with more hooks and jabs and Burns is wobbling bad. Burns shoots for the takedown but Usman stuffs it and lads another jab that drops Burns. Burns tries to tempt Usman down to the floor again but Usman makes him stand again and sees the round out with his jab. Huge round for Usman! 20-18 Usman.

Third round starts and Usman comes to take the centre early. Big left jab lands clean and drops Burns once again! He lands a huge overhand right that puts Burns’ lights out on the ground and keeps punching as Burns tries to stand up. A few more shots and Herb Dean waves the fight off! Huge knockout win for the Nigerian Nightmare! Wow!

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Prelims Predictions

The first of six UFC title fights in the next six events takes place this weekend as Kamaru Usman finally defends his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two have seen the fight collapse twice before, having originally been scheduled to meet at UFC 251 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Burns out, before injuries to Usman meant their December date didn’t come to fruition either.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.

Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card, starting with the seven prelim fights here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the decision as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior to getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time out against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.

Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Gabe Green (9-3) vs Phil Rowe (7-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

There will be fireworks in this one, as Gabriel Green looks to bounce back from his debut defeat in the UFC against ‘The Fresh Prince’ Phil Rowe.

Green was on a six-fight win streak with six finishes before losing to Daniel Rodriuez via decision in May 2020, while Rowe is currently on a seven-fight win streak after beating Leon Shahbazyan on the Contender Series in 2019. He had several fights fall out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but finally returns here.

Both men are incredibly powerful on the feet and have decent ground games too, although Rowe has the slight edge down there. The likelihood these two will go to war with heavy striking and it is Green who has the power advantage. He will need to get on the inside due to the big reach disadvantage, but don’t be surprised to see it happen.
PICK – Gabriel Green via Knockout, Round 2

PRELIMS

Andre Ewell (17-6) vs Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2) – (Catchweight/140lbs)

A fight that was put together on late notice, Andre Ewell will take on ‘El Guapo’ Chris Gutierrez in a catchweight bout. Ewell won his last fight via split decision against Irwin Rivera back in September, while Gutierrez got a draw against Cody Durden in August.

Ewell was supposed to fight against Cody Stamann last weekend, but a false positive COVID-19 test put an end to that. He was quickly re-booked for this fight with a completely different match up, as Gutierrez is a primary striker. Ewell is also a striker, who stays at range and looks to catch you on the end of his strikes. Gutierrez is a heavy leg kicker and that could have a big say on the outcome of this fight.

With that said, it’s a very even match up but I think Ewell has the striking advantage with the power and speed and he should be able to land more for a close decision win.
PICK – Andre Ewell via Decision

Polyana Viana (11-4) vs Mallory Martin (7-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very interesting fight down at 115lbs as Viana looks to make it consecutive wins for the first time in the UFC when she takes on Martin, looking for her first win streak in the company.

Viana had lost three in a row before getting matched up with Emily Whitmire in August and winning via submission in the first round. Martin made her debut against Virna Jandiroba who absolutely dominated her, before she got a submission win of her own against Hannah Cifers to bounce back on the same card.

Viana is the more powerful striker and has a great ground game from her back, while Martin is a competent striker with a good wrestling game. The submission game of Viana could put her off shooting for the takedowns but if she’s brave enough she should have the wrestling chops for the win.
PICK – Mallory Martin via Decision

Belal Muhammad (17-3) vs Dhiego Lima (17-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A clash between two fighters currently on three-fight win streaks in the welterweight division should be lots of fun. Belal Muhammad has beaten Curtis Millender, Takashi Sato and then Lyman Good in June while Lima’s last fight came in 2019 with a split decision win.

Muhammad’s style is typically a boxing style that leads to takedowns and a wet blanket approach, with dominant top position and wrestling while Lima is a solid striker who has a decent ground game too. This one though is a bit of mismatch.

Muhammad has incredible wrestling and while Lima has the height and reach advantage, it doesn’t mean much when you can’t stay on the feet and stop the takedowns. Muhammad takes Lima down with ease and cruises to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Hot prospect Rodolfo Vieira looks to make it three wins in a row in the UFC and remain unbeaten against ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez.

Vieira is 7-0, with six submission wins including his most recent fight against Saparbek Safarov in March 2020 while Hernandez has lost two of his last three including getting knocked out in 39 seconds back in May against Kevin Holland.

Hernandez got submitted by Markus Perez in his UFC debut back in 2019, and Vieira is clear of Perez when it comes to ground game. He has better takedowns and is much more physical, which begs the question about how Hernandez stops him. The answer is he doesn’t. Hernandez’s striking is better but it means next to nothing considering he’ll probably be on his back rather quickly, and Vieira should be able to dominate to get another submission win in relatively quick fashion.
PICK – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, Round 1