Tag Archives: CJ Vergara

UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje – Early prelims 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, starting with the early prelims.


Journey Newson (9-3) vs Fernie Garcia (10-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight fight opens up the card between two interesting fighters. Newson is on a three fight winless streak, after dropping losses to Ricardo Ramos and Randy Costa (UFC Vegas 11) most recently. He did KO Domingo Pilarte in between those, but it was overturned to a no contest for a failed drug test. Garcia on the other hand makes his UFC debut after a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Newson is a steady boxer with a decent wrestling game, but it’s hard to get a read on someone who has fought for less than 90 seconds in the last three years and is coming off a near two-year layoff. Garcia on the other hand is a volume striker with good speed and good wrestling defence to keep the fight in his wheelhouse. Neither guy has got great power, with just four KO’s across their combined 19 wins so it’s all about winning the 50/50 battles.

Newson will likely look to strike early on but when he realises that he’s not got the speed to match Garcia in the exchanges he’ll look to tie him up against the cage and wear on him. Garcia must be able to escape and get back to his boxing, which I think he will, to be able to claim a decision win.
PICK – Fernie Garcia via Decision

Ariane Carnelossi (14-2) vs Lupita Godinez (7-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting strawweight bout up next between two women coming off wins. Carnelossi has won her last two by finish, knocking out Na Liang at UFC 261 before submitting Istela Nunes in her most recent outing. Godinez had three fights in six weeks at the back end of 2021, going 2-1 in that run with a defeat to Luana Carolina sandwiched between wins over Silvana Gomez Juarez and Loma Lookboonmee all by decision.

Carnelossi is a powerful striker with a good jab, good low kicks and a decent wrestling game when on the attack. Godinez on the other hand is a sharp boxer too, but she has excellent wrestling both offensively and defensively and that would surely give her the edge here. On the feet Carnelossi’s power is a game changer. She swings big hooks and has the ability to turn the lights out as her nine career KO’s show. but if she ends up on her back she is in trouble.

Godinez is a relentless grappler when she knows she can secure a takedown and from top position she should be able to keep Carnelossi exactly where she wants her. If she avoids the big contact in the early rounds, I expect Godinez to be able to wrestle her way to a relatively one-sided decision win.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision

Kleydson Rodrigues (7-1) vs CJ Vergara (9-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Flyweight banger up next between two exciting prospects at 125-pounds. Rodrigues has won his last six in a row, including his last fight on Dana White’s Contender Series where he dominated Santo Curatolo. Vergara on the other hand saw a five-fight win streak snapped when he lost his UFC debut to Ode Osbourne via decision back at UFC 268 in November.

Rodrigues is a striker who likes to use his length well and kicking game to set up range and straight strikes and has got a huge technique advantage in this bout. Vergara is a bit more of a brawler than that, but he has got a great clinch game that looks to wear his opponents down with hard knees and elbows. Unfortunately for Vergara though, he seems to be outmatched on this occasion.

‘K.R.’ has got the power to land well and early, while stylistically he is similar to Osbourne who gave Vergara lots of trouble last time out. Vergara will have to try and close the distance with his boxing and that should open him up to a big counter from Rodrigues, who’ll claim the statement KO win.
PICK – Kleydson Rodrigues via Knockout, Round 2



Tracy Cortez (9-1) vs Melissa Gatto (8-0-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun flyweight fight between two prospects in the division up next. Cortez is on a nine-fight win streak and is unbeaten in the UFC, claiming a split decision win over Justine Kish in her most recent outing. Gatto on the other hand has won each of her last three bouts, including finishes in her UFC debut against Victoria Leonardo at UFC 265 and then a KO win over Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 45 last time out.

Cortez is a grinding wrestler who has surely been working on her jiu-jitsu game in recent times since starting a relationship with Brian Ortega. She tends to get takedowns and control opponents on the ground, while her striking is good enough to hold her own in the exchanges. Gatto on the other hand is a solid striker with decent power and kicks, while she showed her ground game is of more than adequate level when she went toe-to-toe with Eubanks.

If Gatto keeps the fight standing then it’s her bout to lose. She has a small reach advantage but also she has got some nasty jiu-jitsu off her back and that could be a problem for Cortez. With that said though, Cortez will do some big wrestling movements and will look to grind her way to a win, but she must stay very aware of the submission threat that is posed against her. Overall, there are more paths to victory for the Brazilian, so I expect her to edge out a tough fight.
PICK – Melissa Gatto via Decision

Andre Fialho (15-4) vs Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A banger in the welterweight division that was put together on super short notice. Andre Fialho returns to the octagon just three weeks after a huge win over Miguel Baeza last time out, having been beaten in his UFC debut by Michel Pereira at UFC 270 at the start of the year. VanCamp makes his organisation debut on the back of a four-fight win streak with three submissions in a row.

Fialho is a powerhouse who constantly walks forward and throws heavy strikes as he closes the distance, with good defensive wrestling too. VanCamp on the other hand is a solid grappler with excellent submission skills, but his striking leaves plenty to be desired and that puts him in a world of trouble here. He’s a technical boxer with a nasty left hook and so long as the quick turnaround doesn’t negatively impact him this is his fight to lose.

VanCamp needs to get the fight to the ground and control the grappling exchanges to win this fight, but he’ll need to eat a host of strikes to get it there and I don’t see him being able to cope. Fialho lands big and early to hurt VanCamp and earn a nasty KO win.
PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 1

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

EARLY PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN CARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Early prelims predictions

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

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

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

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

We’ll look to continue that good momentum with this 14-fight card, starting off with the early prelims here.


CJ Vergara (9-2-1) vs Ode Osbourne (9-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A banger at flyweight to open the card up. Vergara is making his UFC debut after a 41 second KO win on Dana White’s Contender Series in September, while Osbourne is looking to bounce back from a knockout defeat against Manel Kape at UFC 265.

Vergara is a very exciting striker with great power and a ‘kill-or-be-killed’ mentality going into his bouts. Osbourne is pretty similar, with explosive power and great skills on the mat when on the offensive. Defensively though, both fighters are open to getting hit and that lends itself to a great fight this weekend.

Osbourne is likely to come out swinging to get his win back, having never seen a second round in his UFC run to date. He will look to keep his range with a five inch reach advantage, but Vergara is very good at getting on the inside and popping shots. Should be a great fight, but I think Osbourne’s edge in power leans towards him getting the finish.
PICK – Ode Osbourne via Knockout, Round 1

Melsik Baghdasaryan (6-1) vs Bruno Souza (10-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting featherweight bout up next between ‘The Gun’ and ‘The Tiger’. Baghdasaryan earned a debut win in the UFC at UFC Vegas 33 via a head-kick knockout, while Souza makes his UFC debut on a ten-fight win streak. Souza is stepping in on one week’s notice, replacing TJ Laramie.

Baghdasaryan is a powerhouse of a striker with five of his six career wins coming via knockout. Souza on the other hand is a karate fighter who is the protege of the legendary Lyoto Machida. In what is sure to be a stand-up battle between two strikers, it really is power vs technique. In this instance, power should come up trumps.

Souza has been cracked before and while he has great technique, he doesn’t have the power to stop someone like Baghdasaryan coming forward. If this one goes into the latter stages, then Baghdasaryan’s cardio could come into question but I expect he’ll be able to land bombs and score another KO win.
PICK – Melsik Baghdasaryan via Knockout, Round 2



Dustin Jacoby (15-5-1) vs John Allan (13-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Another short notice bout as Dustin Jacoby steps in during fight week to take on John Allan. Jacoby earned a first-round knockout win over Darren Stewart last time out at UFC Vegas 35, while John Allan was beaten by Roman Dolidze last time out at UFC Vegas 16.

Jacoby is a technical kickboxer with decent power and good wrestling defence in his back pocket, while Allan is a powerhouse who looks to use his physicality and striking to win fights. This is the stylistic fight that Allan would have wanted, but he’s getting it against someone who’s a level or two ahead of him.

With great technique, excellent low kicks plus an advantage in height, reach and speed, Jacoby stands to pick Allan apart throughout the 15 minutes and earn a comfortable decision win in the end.
PICK – Dustin Jacoby via Decision

Gian Villante (17-13) vs Chris Barnett (21-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A retirement bout at heavyweight as Gian Villante makes his final walk to the octagon. Villante has lost each of his last three fights, getting finished in two of them while Barnett lost his short-notice UFC debut against Ben Rothwell in May via submission.

Villante is your bog-standard heavyweight, with looping hooks and power in the one-shot-at-a-time he throws. Barnett on the other hand is far more unorthodox, with plenty of spinning techniques and great power despite his size and physique. Villante doesn’t have the wrestling to test Barnett’s takedown defence and with one foot out of the door, it doesn’t bode well for him.

Barnett has genuine knockout power, good speed, good variety in his strikes and a point to prove. I expect him to show up and show out to secure a big finish in the first half of the fight and let Villante go out on his back.
PICK – Chris Barnett via Knockout, Round 1