Tag Archives: Damon Jackson

UFC Vegas 60: Sandhagen vs Yadong – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas after the wild ride that was UFC 279 for a huge bantamweight main event.

Former title challenger Cory Sandhagen headlines the card against hot prospect Song Yadong, in his first main event and a real step up in competition.

A stacked 14-fight card will see several fights with some good debutants and some impressive prospects a chance to make themselves a name in the UFC.

Last time out at UFC 279 we went 8/13 with three perfect picks for the night to move to 723/1119 (64.61%) with 305 perfect picks (42.19%). You can see our full picks history here.

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


Denise Gomes (6-1) vs Loma Lookboonmee (6-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun strawweight scrap up next. Gomes is making her UFC debut on short notice after a successful venture onto the Contender Series last month. Lookboonmee on the other hand is looking to get back on the winning trail after she saw a two-fight win streak snapped by Lupita Godinez back in November last year.

Gomes is a powerful 115-pounder with great aggression and an impressive gas tank, earning four of her career wins via knockout. She marches forward with great pressure and in a war, she almost exclusively manages to land the more eye-catching strikes. Lookboonmee on the other hand a technical striker with excellent wrestling and top game, which allows her to control fights at her own pace.

This one comes down to whether or not Lookboonmee can execute her wrestling when being forced backwards from the pressure of a wrecking ball. If she can’t, then Gomes will look to do as much damage as possible in that short window. If she can then she will dominate this fight on the mat with control and ground and pound. With her experience and the short-notice nature of the fight, I think Lookboonmee gets it done.
PICK – Loma Lookboonmee via Decision

Trevin Giles (14-4) vs Louis Cosce (7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A big welterweight bout comes next between two hard hitters. Giles was on a three-fight win streak before he ran into Dricus Du Plessis and got KO’d at UFC 264, before losing again last time out when Michael Morales knocked him out at UFC 270. Cosce on the other hand has been out nearly two years after getting knocked out in his last fight by Sasha Palatnikov at UFC 255.

Giles was a top prospect before heading off to the police academy. He had phenomenal boxing technique with great combinations and skills on the ground earning him 11 stoppages in his 14 wins, split 6/5 in favour of KO’s. Since returning though he’s lost a lot of that, while his urgency has decreased and his chin has left him. Cosce however is a powerhouse with great striking in his hands and an explosive nature to his style.

His big problem is his cardio though. Cosce really struggles outside of the first six or seven minutes and that’s one area where Giles hasn’t struggled. Despite that, Cosce is aware of it and tends to blitz his opponents early. With Giles being a slow starter, that’s a recipe for “The Monster” to step forward and clip him for an early finish.
PICK – Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 1



Aspen Ladd (9-3) vs Sara McMann (13-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A strange bantamweight scrap comes up next. Ladd has lost three of her last four after getting smoked by Germaine De Randamie, and then dropping decisions to Norma Dumont and Raquel Pennington after a KO win over Yana Kunitskaya. McMann on the other hand bounced back from a submission defeat to Julianna Pena at UFC 257 with a decision win over Karol Rosa last time out.

Ladd is a terrific wrestler with a fearsome top game and nasty ground and pound. She has struggled making weight in recent fights though, and has been blown away physically in her last two fights. McMann is also a good wrestler, who tends to push opponents against the cage and just grind her on the mat to do more damage than her opponent and get wins. Whoever gets the takedown wins this fight, it’s pretty simple.

Ladd has failed to battle back from adversity and her takedown defence is pretty poor, which will give McMann loads of confidence when engaging in wrestling exchanges and scrambles. But if Ladd ends up on top for any reason, she should be able to smash her way past McMann. It won’t be the most entertaining fight of the night, that’s for sure, but with a 14-year age swing in her favour too I think Ladd can get it done.
PICK – Aspen Ladd via Decision

Damon Jackson (21-4-1) vs Pat Sabatini (17-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super fun featherweight fight and contender for fight of the night here. Jackson is on a three-fight win streak after beating Charles Rosa, Kamuela Kirk and Dan Argueta. Sabatini is on a six-fight win streak himself, with UFC wins over Tristan Connelly (UFC 261), Jamall Emmers, Tucker Lutz and most recently TJ Laramie.

Both of these fighters are absolute geniuses in the grappling department, with fantastic wrestling and nasty submission skills earning them a combined 25 wins via tap out in their careers. Jackson is the bigger guy physically, but who the better wrestler is is definitely up in the air and we’ll find out during this fight.

Usually when two fighters who wrestle come up against each other it turns into a striking battle, but it would be a real shock if that happens here. Both will look to shoot and gain top control, with both fighters capable of finding the finish with their ability from that position. With that said, it’s a straight up hunch. Judging both on them on their UFC performances, I think Sabatini has the edge in that department and because of that he should be able to earn the nod on the scorecards in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Pat Sabatini via Decision

UFC Vegas 50: Santos vs Ankalaev – Prelims predictions

After a banger of a pay-per-view card last weekend the UFC returns to their APEX in Las Vegas for a big light heavyweight headline fight card as Thiago Santos takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

The 205-pound division is wide open at the top end and a big win for either man could see them enter title contention in the very near future.

We’ll also see Marlon Moraes take on Song Yadong in a bantamweight co-main event, while the likes of Drew Dober, Terrance McKinney, Miranda Maverick and Alex Pereira competing too in a sneakily stacked card.

Last time out at UFC 272 we went 9/13 with four perfect picks to move to 557/865 (64.39%) with 238 perfect picks (42.73%) with our picks.

We’ll look to improve on that going forward and after starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card here, we round off our prelims picks now.


Damon Jackson (19-4-1) vs Kamuela Kirk (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A short-notice featherweight fight brings great interest in this one. Jackson has won two of three in his most recent UFC run, with a KO defeat to undefeated Ilia Topuria sandwiched between wins over Mirsad Bektic at UFC Vegas 11 and Charles Rosa at UFC Vegas 39. Kirk on the other hand has won three-in-a-row, including a win over Makwan Amirkhani in his debut at UFC Vegas 28.

Jackson is a very talented all-rounder, with decent striking and a nasty ground game to go with his wrestling skills. Kirk on the other hand is a very skilled striker with good takedown defence and a decent ground game if he does end up on his back. If Jackson is able to get on top then he’ll have the advantage, because that is where he’s at his best, but aside from that I have Kirk with an advantage in most areas.

He’s a much superior striker, he’s a good wrestler defensively and offensively and his cardio doesn’t usually let him down. It’s a short notice bout so that could change, but I think Kirk could claim a big decision win here.
PICK – Kamuela Kirk via Decision

Trevin Jones (13-7) vs Javid Basharat (11-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A really fun bantamweight fight up next that’ll see an undefeated prospect make his debut. Jones earned a big KO win over Mario Bautista at UFC 259 after his debut was overturned to a no contest, before getting submitted against Saidyokub Rakhromonov most recently at UFC Vegas 34. Basharat is 11-0 and undefeated having finished each of his bouts inside the distance.

Jones is a good wrestler with a killer right hand and some serious knockout power, while Basharat is a composed Taekwando fighter with some excellent submission skills in his back pocket, contributing to six of his 11 finishes so far. Basharat has a size advantage in the fight, although a slightly lesser reach, and he will look to bounce around on the outside and counter with rangy attacks while dictating the pace.

He loves to attack the legs and body, which could allow Jones the chance to catch one and take him down, but even on the mat he has a very solid chance of controlling the bout. So long as he doesn’t get lamped with a one-and-done strike, I expect Basharat to claim the victory although I think he’ll see the judges for the first time.
PICK – Javid Basharat via Decision



JJ Aldrich (10-4) vs Gillian Robertson (10-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another short-notice bout here in the women’s flyweight division this time. Aldrich is on a two-fight win streak after decisions against Cortney Casey at UFC Vegas 21 and Vanessa Demopoulos at UFC Vegas 35, while Robertson snapped a two-fight losing streak last time out against Priscila Cachoeira with a submission win at UFC 269. Robertson steps in on three-weeks notice, replacing Ariane Lipski.

Aldrich is a striker who looks to avoid wrestling on the mat, but she has little chance of doing that here against Robertson. ‘The Savage’ is a brilliant wrestler with exceptional jiu-jitsu skills on the mat and with a big experience difference, this weighs heavily in her favour.

Robertson is capable of holding her own on the feet for a short period before looking to change levels for a takedown or clinch against the cage and look for trips. Once she gets hold of her, it will be tough for Aldrich to step away from that and then Robertson has the big grappling advantage. Expect her to get it down, control her on the mat before finally sinking in a rear-naked choke.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 2

Matthew Semelsberger (9-3) vs AJ Fletcher (9-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout is the featured prelim of the night with an interesting debutant. Semelsberger is a UFC veteran and scored a 15-second knockout win most recently at UFC 266 against Marin Sano to make it six wins in seven fights. Fletcher is an undefeated prospect who earned a contract with a flying knee KO win on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out. He’ll have Dustin Poirier in his corner this weekend.

Semelsberger is a heavy-handed puncher with a solid wrestling game, while Fletcher is also a well-rounded fighter who prefers his wrestling game to his striking, but he’s well capable of knocking guys out as his four career KO’s show. Despite the clear potential that Fletcher has though, this is a rough match up for him to debut in the organisation in. Semelsberger has terrific cardio and his wrestling is also good enough to compete against Fletcher, who is still relatively green in the MMA world.

Fletcher throws some naked kicks and has some good explosiveness, but those naked kicks are what Semelsberger thrives on to threaten takedowns and counter with his cement block of a right hand. Fletcher’s chin has never really been tested but we know Semelsberger has cardio for days and enough power to sleep people, so mixed with the wrestling I expect him to hand the newcomer his first defeat.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 2

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 Vegas 16: Hermansson vs Vettori – Results (Highlights)

Originally scheduled for 11 fights on the night there are only eight fights taking place on this card now after the following fights fell through on fight night:

– Taila Santos vs Montana De La Rosa
(positive COVID-19 test, Santos re-booked vs Gillian Robertson for Dec 19th)
– Roman Evloev vs Nate Landwehr
(positive COVID-19 test)
– Jimmy Flick vs Cody Durden
(undisclosed injury, fight re-booked for December 19th)


PRELIMS

Jake Collier def Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the fight for both guys as Collier comes out with jabs and leg kicks, while Villante looks to counter it with big right hands. Villante coming forward and is cracking Collier, busting his nose open in the process. Collier lands a big knee and a big left hand to the body that lands clean. Collier lands a big left hand that rocks Villante and he goes for the kill but he doesn’t quite land with any of his follow up punches. Both guys exchange big punches as the buzzer goes, great round. 10-9 Collier for me.

A slower round this time as Collier comes out leading with the jab and Villante looks for an answer to counter it. Collier looks for a left hook but Villante avoids it and then throws an uppercut-hook combo that lands flush to the chin. Both fighters landing big hooks but neither seemingly with the power to put the other away as we enter the final minute of the round. Collier visibly starting to tire as the round comes to a close. 19-19.

Final round and Collier looking to be very active with push kicks and jabs early on while Villante continues to look for the one big shot. Collier landing a big left hook pretty much at will and looks light on his feet, landing nice body kicks and keeping Villante away. Round comes to an end with Collier pushing the pace and it should be enough for the win. 29-28 Collier.

Ilia Topuria def Damon Jackson via Knockout, Round 1 (2:38)

Very fast, active start to the fight from Topuria as he comes out landing big hooks to the body and beautiful jabs. Jackson swinging back for his own attack but Topuria quite clearly the more comfortable of the two on the feet. Big body shots again from Topuria as Jackson looks to clinch against the cage, but they break quickly. Topuria comes forward again and lands a big uppercut followed by a vicious body shot tha hurts Jackson! Topuria lands a big one two that drops Jackson and then one more violent strike as he’s down and the referee steps in to end it! Masterful performance from the Georgian, who moves to 10-0.

Louis Smolka def Jose Quinonez via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Positive start to the round for Quinonez as he lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a heavy takedown early on. Smolka gets back to his feet quickly and lands a nice kick to the body but Quinonez seems much quicker and more accurate so far. Quinonez landing lots of short shots and adding low kicks on to the end of his combos but Smolka’s right hand is finding a home too. Smolka eats a knee which opens up a cut but he gets the takedown and searches for a submission but Quinonez gets up to end the round. 10-9 Quinonez.

Another quick start to the round for Quinonez as he comes out landing jabs well before landing a takedown inside the opening minute. Smolka gets up very quickly once again though and they continue to throw big shots at each other. Smolka lands a big judo throw and ends up in full mount immediately landing big ground and pound! Quinonez looks to escape but Smolka just floats, gets back into full mount and starts throwing bombs. Quinonez gives up his back and Smolka flattens him out and continues the big ground and pound until the referee steps in. Huge win for Smolka.

MAIN CARD

Jordan Leavitt def Matt Wiman via Knockout, Round 1 (0:22)

The two meet in the centre, Leavitt shoots in for a double leg and lifts Wiman. He walks him over to his corner and slams him to the mat and Wiman is out COLD! What a win!

Roman Dolidze def John Allan via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

A very intriguing start to this fight as Dolidze lands an early takedown and has to avoid some armbar attempts from Allan before talking to his corner, almost taunting him, before attempting a heel hook submission. Allan manages to escape and they get back to their feet, with Dolidze landing some straight lefts. Allan lands some body kicks and his jab is much quicker than Dolidze’s but not much damage being done. A clash of heads sees Allan go down and Dolidze goes for a leg lock submission again instead of ground and pound as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Dolidze.

A more tactical second round as the pace naturally slows a little and Dolidze is able to land an excellent takedown into a dominant top position. Lots of ground and pound from Dolidze as Allan is looking for sweeps to reverse the position from half guard, but he’s not allowing it and is controlling on the ground well. Dolidze goes for another leg lock submission with 20 seconds to go in the round and doesn’t get it, but a dominant round for the Georgian. 20-18.

Dolidze playing it safe in the final round as he is moving his feet well and landing his jab well. Allan is stepping forward looking to land big shots because he knows he needs the finish. Dolidze shoots for a tired takedown which is easily defended and Allan lands a big punch that wobbles him! Allan trips him and ends up on top, but Dolidze defends excellently and gets back to his feet straight into a double leg takedown of his own. He sees out the rest of the round landing ground and pound from top position for a dominant decision win. 30-27.

Gabriel Benitez def Justin Jaynes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)

Aggressive start to the fight from Benitez as he comes out with heavy kicks and some big punches. Jaynes looks to counter it by closing the distance and throwing big shots to the head. He lands a left hand that causes Benitez’s eye to begin swelling almost instantly. Jaynes steps forward again and Benitez lands a big uppercut that forces Jaynes to take a step back. More solid leg kicks from Benitez and then he fires a HUGE knee that drops Jaynes! Some quick ground and pound and the referee steps in to wave it off! Hugely impressive win from Benitez!

Jamahal Hill def Ovince Saint-Preux via Knockout, Round 2 (3:37)

A measured start to this fight from both fighters as OSP maintains his usual calmness as Hill looks to attack the body. OSP throwing lots of side kicks and push kicks but Hill throws a beautiful right hand right to the chin. OSP switches to southpaw and starts landing some nice calf kicks as Hill tries to get back into power striking range. Wild exchange at the end of the round, pretty even fight but I give the round to Hill. 10-9.

Hill looks much more lively and aggressive in this second round as he starts landing big shots early in the round. OSP doing well whenever he’s in a southpaw stance but in his orthodox stance he’s getting lit up. Hill lands a big right hand against the cage and forces OSP to clinch up because he’s hurt. Hill gets separation and goes on the offence again, landing big combinations to the head. OSP is out on his feet and Hill keeps pouring it on until the referee pulls him off! Huge win for Hill!

Marvin Vettori def Jack Hermansson via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 49-45)

Vettori comes straight out and takes the centre of the octagon, throwing big left hands straight down the middle. Hermansson lands a nice leg kick as there two stand and trade. Vettori throws a straight left once again and drops Hermansson! He drops down for the ground and pound attack but Hermansson covers up and manages to defend himself by getting himself into half guard. Vettori stacks Hermansson against the cage and looks for ground and pound again, trying to open up an opportunity for a submission but it’s not quite working out for him as the round ends. 10-9 Vettori.

Hermansson comes out very aggressive in the second round with some wild swings before shooting for a takedown. Great defence from Vettori stuffs it several times before he is able to reverse the attempt and ends up on top himself. Vettori looking to just control Hermansson so far as both fighters fight to a stalemate on the ground, so they get back to their feet. Hermansson looks to take the fight down again and lands a big knee to the body as they round comes to an end. 19-19.

Hermansson growing into this fight now as Vettori looks like he’s starting to slow down. ‘Joker’ throwing lots of takedown attempts but isn’t being successful with them as Vettori defends expertly. High kick attempt from Hermansson looks like it’s blocked but Vettori keeps touching his arm, potentially hurt? Hermansson comes forward and lands a nice right hand but Vettori fires back with a left of his own and then a body kick. Nice jabs from Hermansson land as the round comes to an end. Hermansson round. Could be 29-28 either way.

Vettori seemingly has a second wind as he comes out for the fourth round and starts popping shots off with real venom. Hermansson ducks a left and counters with a nice right hook as the pace has considerably slowed since the first round. Both guys fighting in a phone box now, standing toe to toe and just exchanging shots. Another two straight lefts from Vettori land clean as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. Hermansson comes forward and lands a beautiful combination that forces Vettori to step back but then he replies with a combo of his own. Another straight left lands from Vettori on the buzzer. What a fight this is. 38-38 going into the final round for me.

Vettori comes out in the fifth essentially looking like he wants a finish, landing big combinations but Hermansson refusing to give in. He responds with some combos of his own. Vettori landing his left hand at will but Hermansson staying in range and hitting uppercuts too. Big three punch combo ends with a right hook from Hermansson but Vettori eats it and comes forward with an uppercut of his own. Final minute and Vettori grabs a clinch and pushes the fight against the cage to try and grind out the end of the fight. Hermansson rolls through for a leg lock with 10 seconds to go but Vettori gets out as the buzzer goes. What a fight. 48-47 Vettori for me.

UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs Vettori – Prelims Predictions

A sneaky good card takes centre stage this weekend as the UFC look to end the year strong with a middleweight clash between number four ranked Jack Hermansson against short-term replacement Marvin Vettori.

Ovince Saint-Preux makes his return to the octagon too in his light heavyweight clash against Jamahal Hill in the co-main event in this eleven fight card.

Last weekend was a nightmare card in terms of picks, as we racked up a career-worst 1/10 correct picks for the night. The poor results sees our overall picks drop to 176/274 (64.23%) with 80 perfect picks (45.45%) from those too. We will look to improve that now with a strong showing on this card, starting with the prelims here.

PRELIMS

Gian Villante (17-12) vs Jake Collier (11-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Two undersized, poorly disciplined fighters meet at heavyweight in this one as Gian Villante takes on Jake Collier. Villante went 7-8 in the light heavyweight division before piling on the pounds and moving up, where he was beaten by Maurice Greene in June by submission. Collier has alternated wins and losses since 2014 but got flattened last time out by Tom Aspinall who knocked him out in 45 seconds back in July. Both these guys are pretty mediocre when it comes to their skillsets but Villante has fought the higher calibre of fighter and was naturally the bigger man. He has the power to end Collier’s night early once again.
PICK – Gian Villante via Knockout, Round 1

Ilia Topuria (9-0) vs Damon Jackson (18-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun fight in the 145lbs division as the undefeated Topuria takes on the experienced Damon Jackson. Topuria came into the UFC on short-notice back in October where he put together a top drawer performance to defeat Youssef Zelal via decision, while Jackson also won his short-notice UFC debut by submitting the highly rated Mirsad Bektic in September. Topuria has the edge on the feet with his boxing and his power and is also the better wrestler of the two, although Jackson’s jiu-jitsu is incredibly efficient as as his 14 submission wins show. Topuria proved against Zelal though that he is very good at following a game plan and I believe his power and wrestling skill should see him avoid the submissions of Jackson and potentially land a heavy shot to end it before the scorecards.
PICK – Ilia Topuria via Knockout, Round 2

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

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

Matt Wiman (16-9) vs Jordan Leavitt (7-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Veteran Matt Wiman comes into this one looking for a first win since 2014, with two back-to-back defeats since returning from five years out. Jordan Leavitt is an undefeated prospect who earned a UFC contract with an impressive first round win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August. Wiman was slaughtered in both of his most recent fights against ground specialists in Luis Pena and Joe Solecki and now comes up against a third grappling genius who has five submission wins from seven fights. Leavitt is bigger, stronger and younger and excels exactly where Wiman has struggled most recently which spells bad news. Wiman seems to have retained his excellent submission defence but the takedowns and cardio should see him beaten pretty comfortably here.
PICK – Jordan Leavitt via Decision

Louis Smolka (16-7) vs Jose Quinonez (9-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

This was originally supposed to happen on the UFC Vegas 14 card, but was cancelled on fight day after Smolka had issues with his weight cut. I predicted it then, so I’m going to just copy that over here.

A bantamweight clash between two guys trying to find their standing in the division. Louis Smolka, who has been around forever but mainly as a flyweight, is a submission starlet who also carries power in his hands. After leaving the UFC off a four-fight skid, he returned after winning his next three and has since alternated wins and losses. He lost his most recent fight to Casey Kenney back in May when he was submitted in the first round. Jose Quinonez has an interesting record where he is 5-3 in the UFC but none of the guys he has beaten are still with the company, while his defeats have come to contenders in Alejandro Perez, Nathaniel Wood and Sean O’Malley. Overall, Quinonez has the advantage on the feet and physically is the bigger man. He’s got good wrestling chops too but Smolka is good enough on the ground to wrap up a submission if he is successful with just a single takedown attempt. It should be a back and forth fight but I believe Quinonez will be able to land more and more significantly throughout the 15 minutes for a big win.
PICK – Jose Quinonez via Decision

Gabriel Benitez (21-8) vs Justin Jaynes (16-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting bout between two very powerful fighters in the lightweight division as Gabriel Benitez looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against Justin Jaynes. Jaynes won a with a shocking 41 second KO on his return to the Octagon in June against Frank Camacho, but wasn’t so fortunate against Gavin Tucker in August when his knockdown wasn’t enough to prevent being submitted in the third round. Benitez is a super technical kickboxer who has unbelievable body kicks and a solid jiu-jitsu game. He hits in straight lines and hits hard and Jaynes tends to struggle with cardio if the first round power punches don’t quite work. Jaynes has good wrestling but uses it more in a defensive way than offensive and that should allow Benitez to dictate the range. He will use body kicks and jabs throughout and could eventually get the finish for a big win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision