Tag Archives: Cody Durden

UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall – Early prelims predictions

After a three year absence the UFC returns to London and the O2 Arena for a huge UFC London fight card, headlined by heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall.

A stacked card will see the two heavyweights competing to get title contention with a win, while we’ll also see the likes of Arnold Allen take on Dan Hooker, Paddy Pimblett makes his UK return while Jack Shore, Nathaniel Wood and Muhammad Mokaev also compete too.

In case you’re unaware, we’ve done a list of five things you must not miss from this card too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 50 we went 11/14 with three perfect picks to move to 568/879 (64.62%) with 241 perfect picks (42.43%). You can see our full record here.

We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the early prelims.


Muhammad Mokaev (6-0) vs Cody Durden (12-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A super interesting card opener at flyweight between debutant prospect Mokaev and the new most-hated Durden. Mokaev is 6-0 with a stacked 23-0 amateur record making his company debut, while Durden snapped a two-fight winless streak last time out by defeating Aoriqileng before going off on a racist rant in the octagon interview.

Mokaev has earned plaudits and comparisons to Russian duo Khamzat Chimaev for his quick rise, and has solid grappling and striking skills despite being just 21-years-old. Durden is a grinding wrestler who looks to put his opponents on their back and work them over with ground-and-pound. This is a tough debut for ‘The Punisher’, but he has got some great abilities and a chance to claim victory.

Durden will push a hard pace for the first round but his history tells you he will gas. Mokaev will scramble plenty and use his excellent hand speed and kicking techniques, before using his pressure and wrestling himself to wear on Durden and earn a hype TKO win midway through the second after a tough first round.
PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Knockout, Round 2

Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs Vince Morales (11-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very fun bantamweight fight here between one of Britain’s own against a very game opponent. ‘The Prospect’ came into the UFC with really high hopes but has suffered defeat in two of his last three, dropping a decision to Casey Kenny at UFC 254 most recently. Morales steps in on short-notice for this fight on a two-fight win streak, earning a decision against Drako Rodriguez at UFC 265 and then KO’ing Louis Smolka at UFC Vegas 44.

Wood is a talented grappler with solid submission skills and nasty low kicks, which serves as a great antidote against Morales’ biggest strength which is a monster right hand. Morales has struggled against pressure fighters with good takedowns in the past and on short notice that makes this an even worse stylistic match up than it would be normally.

After a long period out, Wood should be able to use his low kicks from range and mix in takedowns and his speedy one-two to cause trouble and out-point Morales for a much-needed win.
PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision



Cory McKenna (6-1) vs Elise Reed (4-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting strawweight bout in this one between one homegrown prospect and an American with aspirations of making a name for himself. McKenna is on a four-fight win streak, going 1-0 in the UFC so far aged just 22 with a decision win over Kay Hansen at UFC Vegas 14, while Reed lost her UFC debut getting smashed by Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 32.

McKenna is a good pressure fighter with great hand speed and some good wrestling skills too, mixing up all her techniques well and never losing any sharpness. Reed is a kicker who likes to strike, but she’s naturally smaller having usually competed at atomweight outside the UFC.

This seems like a fight to get McKenna on the radar of the home crowd. At just 22 she’s got a huge future ahead of her and has the edge almost everywhere in this fight if she’s able to close the distance, so I expect her to mix it up well enough to claim a decision win.
PICK – Cory McKenna via Decision

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira vs Tate – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for a women’s bantamweight main event bout between Ketlen Vieira and former champion Miesha Tate.

Tate will be looking to keep the UFC’s dreams of a potential rematch with Amanda Nunes alive with a win in the main event, while Vieira is hopeful of killing off her comeback plans.

In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa will be looking to fight off gatekeeper claims in the welterweight division when he takes on the undefeated prospect Sean Brady.

Last week at UFC Vegas 42 we had a poor showing with our picks, earning jut 5/11 correct with three perfect picks to move to 476/741 (64.24%) with 200 perfect picks (42.02%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that this week with this 12 fight card, starting with the early prelims here.



Luana Pinheiro (9-1) vs Sam Hughes (5-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun strawweight bout to open the card this week at the Apex. Pinheiro returns to the octagon on a seven-fight win streak, with a win via disqualification against Randa Markos last time out after she was hit with an illegal upkick at UFC Vegas 25. Sam Hughes on the other hand has lost both of her UFC bouts to date, with doctors stopping her debut defeat to Tecia Torres at UFC 256 before a decision loss to Loma Lookboonmee.

Pinheiro is a solid grappler with great submission skills and pretty average striking, using her jiu-jitsu black belt to earn seven submission wins in her career. Hughes on the other hand is a fairly decent striker, looking to use pressure to get on the inside and grind her way to victories. The issue for Hughes in this one is that she’s just not at the UFC level yet.

Hughes got taken down regularly by Lookboonmee, who is an undersized striker, so a judo specialist like Pinheiro should find it relatively easy to take this fight to the ground where she’ll have a huge edge and likely be able to use her jiu-jitsu to earn yet another submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 1

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (19-7) vs Sean Soriano (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting featherweight bout between two unranked guys up next. Nuerdanbieke was beaten in his UFC debut by Josh Culibao back in May and will look to bounce back here, while Soriano suffered a submission loss in his own debut at UFC 262 to Christos Giagos.

Nuerdanbieke is an incredibly wrestle-heavy fighter with his plan A, B and C always to take his opponent to the mat and grind out victories or pound his way to a TKO victory. Soriano is a solid striker on the feet who is notorious for having problems with his grappling, succumbing to submissions five times in his professional career. The difference this time though, is that Nuerdanbieke is as predictable as they come.

Soriano has a huge edge on the feet and in his most recent fight with Giagos he did show some improved takedown defence. If he is able to stuff the takedowns that he should know are coming, then the fight is his to lose on the feet. Because of that, I think he could be able to secure a big knee or a nice counter-strike to drop Nuerdanbieke and earn a victory.
PICK – Sean Soriano via Knockout, Round 2

Cody Durden (11-3-1) vs Aoriqileng (18-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun flyweight bout in the UFC up next. Durden is winless in his two UFC outings, earning a draw against Chris Gutierrez back at UFC Vegas 5 before being tapped out by Jimmy Flick at UFC Vegas 17. Aoriqileng came to the UFC with a big reputation, but suffered a decision defeat to Jeff Molina at UFC 261.

Durden is an excellent fighter, with brilliant wrestling skills and some great ground and pound to go with his submission skills. Aoriqileng on the other hand is a relentless pressure fighter, with great striking and brilliant cardio to go with it. For Durden however, this fight is right up his wheel house.

He is a powerful striker on the feet, has good footwork to evade pressure and brilliant wrestling to get the fight down to the mat. Once he gets it there, he’s a demon with a great nose for a finish and Aoriqileng is likely to find himself in a lot of trouble. Durden’s nasty low kicks set up an eventual takedown and then he pummels Aoriqileng for a ground and pound schooling.
PICK – Cody Durden via Decision

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

Fast start to the round from Christos Giagos here as he comes out with a big overhand right hand that goes straight into a level change for a takedown. Minus immediately tries to scramble out but gives up his back and Giagos goes straight into full mount. He’s floating well and landing some good ground and pound, while also threatening with a rear-naked choke relentlessly. Minus gets back up but Giagos is more than comfortable on the feet and gets it back down again as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 for Giagos.

Second round is essentially the exact same thing as first. Complete domination on the ground from Giagos with plenty of attempts at head and arm chokes, rear naked chokes and ground and pound. Minus is being totally controlled but doing just enough to avoid being finished. Potentially 20-16 after two rounds in favour of Giagos.

Third and final round starts in the same way as the previous two, with Giagos circling before eventually securing a takedown that Minus just can’t defend. Minus gets back up this time though as Giagos is clearly fatigued and starts landing some nice jabs and one-twos. Minus lands a stiff uppercut as the fight draws to a close, with Giagos just circling to survive the final 60 seconds. Easy win in the end for Giagos, 30-25 on my scorecard.

Jimmy Flick def Cody Durden via Submission (Triangle choke), Round 1 (3:18)

Great start to the fight from Durden as both fighters exchange strikes before he grabs a takedown and moves quickly to take the back. He lands some decent punches on the ground but Flick gets back to his feet relatively quickly and they separate. Durden looks explosive and lands some big punches, as Flick covers up well and keeps his guard high. Flick goes for a head kick that Durden catches, but Flick turns it into a flying triangle choke! He pulls him into his guard, tightens the choke and gets the tap! Unbelievable! Wow!

PRELIMS

Tafon Nchukwi def Jamie Pickett via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

Nchukwi makes a fast start and comes across the cage throwing heavy strikes but Pickett tries to avoid using his speed and mobility. Nchukwi throwing combinations and ending with a head kick a lot, but not landing them. Pickett scores a nice takedown against the cage, but Nchukwi does well to get back to the feet without taking too much damage. Nchukwi gets the fight down to the ground himself and shows good control but Pickett gets back up. Spinning elbow lands from Nchukwi as his cardio seems to be holding up well, with lots of knees to the body landing in clinches too. 10-9 Nchukwi.

Fast start against from Nchukwi as he powers out of the traps with a big overhand right hand. Nchukwi is still pressuring Pickett against the cage and whenever they clinch he starts dirty boxing with lots of body strikes and knees to the body too. Left hand landing a lot from Nchukwi but it’s lacking the big power now, although still doing damage. Pickett lands a nice one-two that snaps Nchukwi’s head back, but then he returns with a right hand of his own. Pickett lands a big four or five punch combination that sends Nchukwi backwards. Pickett comes forward and there’s a big clash of heads as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Nchukwi but he’s slowing a little.

Before the third round starts with the doctor checking out Pickett after the clash of heads but the fight goes on. Nchukwi lands a big left hand out of the gate as the round begins and Pickett looks dazed still. Nchukwi is starting to land more flush now and Pickett is hurt. Big knees to the body against the cage again followed by a big left elbow and Pickett is down! Big ground and pound from Nchukwi but Pickett is covering up well and surviving. Nchukwi lets him back up to his feet into the final minute and continues to walk him down looking for a finish. Great fight, but that’s a 10-8 for Nchukwi and a big win. 30-26 for me.

Taila Santos def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-28)

A quick start to the fight for Robertson as the two end up in a clinch against the cage and she goes for a flying armbar quickly! Santos is in danger but she stays calm and eventually gets out of the position and ends up in full guard, controlling the position and landing some nice ground and pound. Robertson throwing elbows from her back to create space and damage but Santos is doing well to nullify her. Robertson tries to scramble back up to her feet but once agains Santos is able to over-power her and land strikes on the ground to see the round out. 10-9 Santos.

Second round begins and once again a clinch against the cage ends up with Taila Santos on top and landing some nice short shots to the face. Santos ties her up and ends up on top with a reverse triangle choke with the legs, but Robertson defends really well and escapes into top position. Santos slides out of the back and ends up back on top once again, landing strikes and making Robertson very uncomfortable. Impressive round from Santos. 20-18.

Santos comes out in the third round and lands two nice punches, showing her striking chops, before Robertson throws a head kick and goes for a takedown. She ends up catching Santos in a guillotine, but the Brazilian stays patient and escapes, ending up back against the cage in top position. More short strikes from Santos as Robertson keeps working for a submission but nothing is working. Robertson finally manages to isolate an arm and rolls through for an armbar but Santos fights out of it once again and ends the round taking the back of Robertson. Dominant performance from the Brazilian. 30-27 Santos.

Deron Winn def Antonio Arroyo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Explosive start from Arroyo as he comes in with some powerful strikes before Winn hits an early takedown. Arroyo scrambles back to his feet but then Winn gets another takedown early. A third and fourth takedown follow as the pattern of this fight continues as we pass the halfway point. Arroyo throws up an armbar attempt and then gets back to his feet once Winn escapes. He lands a big knee to the face and then a combo that hurts Winn, but he steps back and recovers. Arroyo starts stalking with hands low, but Winn looks for another takeodwn. Again Arroyo gets to the feet and lands a nasty front kick to the face but Winn eats it and gets another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Winn but Arroyo looks more likely to win it at this rate.

Winn opens up the round with a wheel kick attempt that misses before landing a takedown, which he sees keep Arroyo down a little longer this time but Arroyo eventually gets back up to his feet. The round continues with the same pattern of Winn landing lots of takedowns and Arroyo getting back to his feet and landing nice strikes before going down again. Arroyo is exhausted at this point, throwing lazy kicks and accepting the position on his back while Winn lays on top to take a breather also.

Third round and once again Winn continues to blast takedown after takedown, taking him into double figures officially for the fight. Arroyo is exhausted and is accepting the position, being lazy off his back throwing up-kicks before Winn lets him back up. A nice head kick lands but Winn just goes straight back in for another takedown as we enter the final 30 seconds of the fight. They get back to the feet and Arroyo lands a body kick as the round comes to an end. Should be a win for Deron Winn.

Pannie Kianzad def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A strong start for Eubanks as she lands a flurry of punches before getting the takedown at the first attempt. Lots of floating position and some good strikes from top control as Kianzad is clearly at a disadvantage in these instances. Eubanks controls the entire round with top control and ends the round taking the back of Kianzad, but she runs out of time before she can sink in a choke. 10-9 Eubanks.

Kianzad starts the second round well, landing some good strikes and then defend against the takedown attempt from Eubanks. Kianzad lands some nice knees to the body in the clinch and some good body shots that are doing some damage. Eubanks blasts a takedown and gets it but Kianzad immediately throws up her guard and defends. She looks to sink in an armbar from her back but Eubanks escapes well and Kianzad manages to get back to her feet. A few more body shots land and the round ends with Kianzad throwing elbows to the side of the head as she defends a takedown. 19-19, big round incoming.

Third round continues from where the second left off, as Kianzad keeps the fight standing and starts landing some nice jabs. Eubanks looks laboured now but then lands a big right hand on Kianzad that gets her attention. Kianzad throwing knees to the body again and her jab is landing but Eubanks is walking forward. Both women exchange jabs in the centre before a wild left hook misses the target completely. Final minute now as Eubanks lands a right hand before Kianzad steps in and out landing a nice one-two. Big left hook from Eubanks lands but Kianzad responds with a hook of her own. Fight comes to an end with the women exchanging blows in the centre. 29-28 Kianzad for me but that’s a great fight.

Anthony Pettis def Alex Morono via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A blistering start to this fight as Morono charges across the cage and gets an immediate takedown with a hook in to take the back. He starts raining down huge punches and busts the nose of Pettis early. Body lock tightens as Morono looks for a rear naked choke, but Pettis rotates into him and reverses the position well before getting back up to his feet. Pettis starts flicking out strikes, looking for his big left hand but Morono countering well and forcing Pettis to move backwards. Big spinning kick from Pettis lands clean to the chest but Morono eats it and continues to come forward. Morono goes for another takedown and drags Pettis down to the mat but Pettis reverses it perfectly and ends the round on top. 10-9 Morono but great fight so far.

Fast paced start for the second round as Pettis comes out looking for jabs and kicks but Morono still coming forward. He’s beginning to slow down now a bit though as Pettis looks for a huge spinning elbow but hits fresh air. Pettis throwing some nice leg kicks and a straight left that is causing Morono some trouble, as Pettis throws an axe-kick that grazes the face of Morono. Body kick from Morono as he continues to come forward, but Pettis is landing shots and avoiding any big damage coming back his way. Body kick lands and then a jab from Pettis as both men look for spinning attacks at the end of the round. 19-19, Pettis looking good right now.

Morono lands a nice strike to open the round, before Pettis throws another axe kick that grazes the head. Pettis turns his back after a strike attempt and Morono charges for a takedown, but Pettis rolls through and ends up on top in control. Pettis doing brilliant work to remain on top, stacking Morono against the cage and landing short shots to stay busy. Morono battles back to his feet but Pettis controlling head position and landing knees to the body as we enter the final minute. Separation from the clinch and Morono charges forward with a flurry, but Pettis responds with a clean uppercut. Spinning wheel kick lands to the top of the head by Pettis and Morono is wobbled! Pettis charges for the finish and drops him, but then goes for a guillotine which he doesn’t quite get and ends the round on top raining down punches.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 2 (4:31)

An interesting start to this fight as both guys looking to fight from range using jabs, while Tybura looking to add a few kicks too. Hardy lands a nice right hand but Tybura eats it and throws a nice body kick. Hardy lands three big right hands in a row and Tybura is wobbled! Hardy slows it down again and Tybura goes for a single leg takedown but it’s defended well. Hardy then lands SEVEN heavy right hands in a row that really hurts Tybura but the round comes to an end. Best we’ve seen Hardy. 10-9.

Better start to the round for Tybura this time as he starts to time the shots of Hardy and countering well. He’s walking Hardy down and throwing kicks and jabs, feinting takedowns constantly too. Tybura shoots in for a takedown this time against the cage and Hardy defends it well at first before ending up flat on his back. Tybura flattens Hardy out onto his back and starts throwing bombs down! Hardy starts covering up and Tybura keeps punching until the referee stops the fight! Big comeback win for the Polish fighter!

Rob Font def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 1 (3:47)

Explosive start to the fight from Font as he comes out with two big hooks, which makes Moraes change levels and get a takedown quickly. Font manages to reverse the position and lands some nice knees to the body, but then Moraes picks him up and slams him down and takes control from top position. Font gets back to his feet and Moraes lands a nice head kick that sends Font backwards. Font then throws some bombs that rock Moraes and he drops him with a beautiful uppercut. He jumps on him for the ground and pound and the referee stops it! Wow! What a knockout!

Michel Pereira def Khaos Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very tactical start to the fight with both guys throwing feints and just testing their range for the opening minute. Pereira throws a big one-two and a front kick to the body that connects hard, but Khaos doesn’t flinch. Halfway through the round, Khaos throws some leg kicks as the two clinch and separate quickly. Body kick from Pereira is caught by Khaos and the throws a big one-two that wobbles Pereira. Another front kick by Pereira is caught and another big right hook lands flush, but Pereira eats it and continues to come forward. Right hand lands by Pereira now and he follows it up with a knee up the middle. Flying knee attempt at the end from Pereira but it’s a tight round. 10-9 Khaos.

Another slow start to this round, but it bursts into life as Pereira counters a low kick with a straight right hand flush on the chin. Khaos comes forward and launches a flurry, that leads to a clinch in the centre that ends in a stalemate. Some nice leg kicks land from Khaos and then he starts attacking the body. Pereira responds with a body kick of his own and Khaos charges across the cage throwing punches, landing three in a row to the chin. Clinch against the cage and Pereira throws big knees to the body before they separate. Seconds to go and Pereira jumps on the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. Super close round, 20-18 Khaos for me though.

Fancy footwork from Pereira as he looks to get in and out with powerful strikes, but Khaos is throwing hooks that are landing too. Pereira goes for a weird mule-kick but misses completely and then Khaos throws a flurry of shots to the body and head. Pereira throws a body kick again and then changes levels to secure a takedown. Pereira tries to pass into mount but Khaos defends well and gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute. Khaos eats a kick to the head and then Pereira changes levels again and gets another takedown, ending the round with lots of ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Khaos at the end for me but could go either way.

Jose Aldo def Marlon Vera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Tense start to the fight as Vera and Aldo stand in boxing range and exchange leg kicks early before Vera initiates a clinch against the cage. Aldo eats some knees to the thigh before reversing the position and separating. Big left hook to the body from Aldo gets a reaction from Vera and he throws it again shortly after. Straight right and a big leg kick from Aldo followed by a third body shot, as Vera throws straight kicks to the lead leg of Aldo. Vera throws a head kick which Aldo avoids then throws a big body shot and right hook combo. 10-9 Aldo as the round ends.

Aldo starts the second round with another big left body shot followed by a right hand to the head. Vera still throwing that stabbing leg kick to Aldo’s lead leg, but Aldo is countering with good head shots. Aldo catches a body kick and Vera spins and lands a back fist, moving out of range of Aldo’s counter at the same time. Clinch against the cage as Vera throws knees to the thigh, then looks for a trip. Aldo stays on the feet and throws a knee to the body before they clinch up again against the cage. Better round for Vera there, could well be even.

Vera charges across the cage to start strong but misses a strike and Aldo latches on to the back and locks in a body triangle. He jumps up to the back and eventually flattens Vera out, before eventually rolling through as he looks for a rear-naked choke. Vera is battling the position but Aldo controlling from the back. Vera manages to stand up with Aldo still on his back and walks him over to his corner, slamming him down, but Aldo keeps the body triangle synched up. Aldo keeps the back for the rest of the round and threatens the choke but the buzzer goes and that’s that. Should be an Aldo win.

Stephen Thompson def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Competitive start to the fight from both men as Wonderboy manages the distance expertly as usual, using kicks and jabs. Neal marching him down, looking to close distance to then explode with flurries of strikes but Wonderboy landing combos and then evading. Wonderboy looks very sharp, landing good strikes. Both men go for an exchange of strikes but clash heads, opening up a cut on both men just above their eyes. Fight is paused for a short while but only lasts for another 5 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Wonderboy.

Neal comes out in the second round and looks to engage in a clinch, but Wonderboy defends well and they separate quickly. Wonderboy then lands a stiff one-two down the middle, followed by some clean body kicks. Neal responds with a body kick of his own but Wonderboy counters with short strikes and stabbing body kicks. Straight right lands from Wonderboy as he continues to evade Neal’s attacks with excellent footwork. Neal traps Wonderboy against the cage and finally lands a big left hand, but Wonderboy eats it and responds with a strike of his own to end the round. 20-18 Wonderboy.

Wonderboy continues in the third as he has gone in the first and second so far with good kicking and nice one-twos before moving out of the way. Neal closes the distance and gets a clinch position against the cage, throwing knees to the thigh. Wonderboy swivels and separates well and goes back to landing strikes from range. Both throwing jabs, with Neal landing a couple of nice ones in particular before another clinch against the cage with Neal leaning on Wonderboy, but the veteran separates well then lands a lovely combination. Big straight right hand from Wonderboy lands twice before Neal lands a big left hand just before the buzzer. 30-27 Wonderboy.

More of the same in this fourth round, with Wonderboy using his jab perfectly. Big right hand lands flush and Neal looks like he’s hurt, so Wonderboy lands three more. Nice body kick lands on Neal, that causes an audible burp in the octagon, but Neal is just being outclassed right now. Clinch situation against the cage at the end of the round, Wonderboy is cleaning up right now. He ends the round with what looks like a knee injury though… 40-36.

Final round and Neal comes out aggressive, throwing his big left hand and Wonderboy is clearly compromised by that injured leg. Big exchange against the cage and both men land some big bombs but nobody flinches yet. Body shots from Wonderboy as Neal gets a clinch against the cage. Big body shots from Neal with 70 seconds left as they separate in the clinch, Wonderboy steps forward with a couple of right hands of his own. Neal lands two clean shots but Wonderboy returns with shots of his own as they trade in the centre of the cage to end the round. Great fight, vintage Wonderboy performance. 50-45 for me.

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Early Prelims Predictions

The final UFC card of the year looks to end 2020 with a bang with a welterweight main event that could decide on a new contender for the belt.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal step into the headline slot following the collapse of the fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. Neal is looking to extend his win streak against the highest level of competition he has faced, knowing a win puts him into the top five conversation.

Elsewhere on the card Jose Aldo looks for his first win at bantamweight against Marlon Vera in the co-main, on a card that has an insane 14 fights on the night.

Last week at UFC 256, we had a poor showing as we scored just 4/10 on the night on a night of incredible fights. That moved us to 185/292 (63.36%) with 80 perfect picks (43.24%) since starting predictions back in June.

With so many fights the predictions will be split into three parts this week, starting with the early prelims here.

EARLY PRELIMS

Jimmy Flick (15-5) vs Cody Durden (11-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

This fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC Vegas 16, but was scrapped due to a non-COVID related illness on fight night. Here is the prediction from that event.

Cody Durden saw a seven-fight win streak end with a draw in his UFC debut against Chris Gutierrez back in August and will look for a win against the mightily impressive debutant in Jimmy Flick. Flick has 13 submission wins from 15 professional wins and is currently on a three fight win streak coming from Dana White’s Contender Series in September. Durden is pretty well rounded and has a physicality edge for sure, so if he ends up in a dominant position on the ground then don’t be shocked to see him hold his own. The problem would be if Flick gets a dominant position, he fishes constantly for submissions and always always ends up finding one to end the fight. I think Flick is able to do that here with an impressive rear-naked choke in the first round, but it won’t look as easy as it sounds.
PICK – Jimmy Flick via Submission, Round 1

Tafon Nchukwi (4-0) vs Jamie Pickett (11-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A UFC debut for Cameroonian fighter Nchukwi as he steps in to take on another Contender Series graduate in Jamie Pickett. Nchukwi has won all four of his professional fights by knockout, beating Al Matavao with a vicious head kick back in September. Pickett has won his last two-in-a-row including his own KO win on the Contender Series, his third appearance on the show following two defeats previously. Nchukwi is a skilled striker but is still very green. He has usually fought at 205lbs and looked quite slow, although powerful, so a move down to 185lbs is interesting. With that said, Pickett’s defence isn’t great and he has a habit of being backed up against the cage. That spells danger against someone as powerful as ‘Da Don’ so I expect a big knockout win.
PICK – Tafon Nchukwi via Knockout, Round 1

Aiemann Zahabi (7-2) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The brother of the legendary trainer Firas, Aiemann Zahabi entered the UFC with six first round knockouts under his belt, then won his company debut in 2017. Since then though, he’s suffered back-to-back defeats against Ricardo Ramos and Vince Morales. This will be his first fight since May 2019. Drako makes his UFC main roster debut in this one, following a successful win on Dana White’s Contender Series in September, thanks to a first-round triangle choke submission. Zahabi is a technical striker but Rodriguez has shown in the past that he has a real killer instinct and is more than happy wherever the fight goes. Rodriguez isn’t completely outclassed on the feet and has good wrestling to go with his submissions. It’s a close fight, but I’m going with the more well-rounded fighter in Rodriguez.
PICK – Drako Rodriguez via Decision