Grant Dawson (18-1-1) vs Mark O Madsen (12-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Very interesting lightweight scrap up first on the main card. Dawson is unbeaten in his last ten with a record of 9-0-1, earning a submission win over Jared Gordon last time out following a majority draw with Ricky Glenn in his prior bout. Madsen is an undefeated MMA fighter, having transitioned from Olympic wrestling in a dominant fashion with victories over Clay Guida and Vinc Pichel as his last two opponents.
Dawson is a super talented wrestler with world class jiu-jitsu skills and great power in his hands, making him a real threat for any opponent. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler as already mentioned, and he has shown his qualities in that field throughout his short MMA career to date. He’s got decent kickboxing to go with it, but the wrestling is his bread and butter. This is a very interesting match-up between two guys looking to earn a ranking next to their name.
Madsen has the edge in Olympic wrestling, but that’s very different to MMA wrestling and you could argue that Dawson has the edge there. Mix in his advantages in the striking and submission game, he could claim a win here but the short-notice nature of this bout makes it a hard call that could go either way. PICK – Grant Dawson via Decision
Tagir Ulanbekov (13-2) vs Nate Maness (14-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Super fun flyweight scrap up next. Ulanbekov was on a five-fight win streak before he ran into Tim Elliott last time out, dropping a decision at UFC 272. Maness on the other hand was on a four fight win streak before he ran into Umar Nurmagomedov in his last outing back in June.
Ulanbekov is your typical Dagestani fighter, with incredible chain wrestling and sambo skills to go with a unique striking style that is deceptively effective. Maness is a well-rounded fighter too, showing great ability to take the fight to his opponent wherever it goes and a great durability and toughness too. But just like his bout against Nurmagomedov, this seems like a nasty match-up for him in his new weight division.
Hitting the weight won’t be easy, and if he does make it then expect Ulanbekov to use his pressure an kicks to the body before making him wrestle for 15 minutes in what could be a really long night for Maness. PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Decision
Chase Sherman (16-10) vs Josh Parisian (15-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights collide next. Sherman has lost four of his last five fights, but claimed a knockout win over Jared Vanderaa in his last outing back in July. Parisian alternatively is 2-2 in his last four, alternating wins and losses with defeats to Parker Porter and Don’Tale Mayes and victories over Roque Martinez and Alan Baudot most recently.
Both of these guys are your typical heavyweight scrappers, with a decent low kick and incredibly powerful overhands and hooks with little else to their game. Parisian has more wrestling in his arsenal too, but he does struggle to get fights to the ground. When he does though, he’s quite dominant in top position.
Sherman has got a decent takedown defence and is the better striker by a decent margin. Both fighters are susceptible to being stopped, but in this one it seems far more likely that Sherman lands big than Parisian does. It won’t be fun while it lasts, but hopefully it won’t last too long anyway. PICK – Chase Sherman via Knockout, Round 1
Neil Magny (26-10) vs Daniel Rodriguez (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big time scrap between two ranked welterweights up next. Magny saw a two-fight winning streak after victories over Geoff Neal and Max Griffin snapped by the imperious Shavkat Rakhmonov last time out. Rodriguez made it four wins in a row with a controversial decision win over Li Jingliang at UFC 279 last time out, after the crazy situation that saw three bouts put together on 24 hours notice.
Magny is a solid wrestler. He uses his excellent length and footwork to get his opponents moving and then uses his great wrestling to gain control and tends to ride fights out in that manner. Rodriguez on the other hand is a terrific boxer with some of the best combinations in the division, and his defensive wrestling is pretty good too. His last showing against Jingliang was cause for concern though, because he looked way off it only two months ago.
Magny has the skillset to stifle Rodriguez no doubt, but he’s also struggled against the better opposition in the division. Rodriguez believes he’s up there and his striking should cause Magny big problems if he’s performing the way we know he can. It’s a tough call, but I think D-Rod’s jab and defensive wrestling should be enough to claim victory, but don’t be surprised if Magny outwrestles him for 15 minutes either. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision
Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2) vs Amanda Lemos (12-2-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Women’s strawweight main event up next between two specialist strikers. Rodriguez has won each of her last four in a row with the most recent being a split decision over Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272. Lemos alternatively has won six of her last seven, with a loss to Jessica Andrade the only flaw in the run. She bounced back from that with a submission win over Michelle Waterson most recently.
Rodriguez is a fantastic boxer with terrific combinations and a really nice, long jab. Lemos is far more of a power puncher than Rodriguez, but her technical skills are still there although not quite as refined as Rodriguez’s. Rodriguez’s abilities to work from distance could really work in her favour here, and that’s why she’s my pick.
She’s already proven that going the full 25 minutes is something she can do, and she keeps her gas tank in check and holds her power throughout. Lemos isn’t a grappler despite the submission last time out, and that’s Rodriguez’s biggest weakness. With the match-up as it is, I expect Rodriguez to strike her way to a decision and claim an impressive win and potentially seal the next title shot in the division. PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Decision
The UFC featherweight division headlines a banger of a card in the APEX as Edson Barboza takes on Giga Chikadze in the main event, while The Ultimate Fighter finals take place too.
Chikadze takes on the former lightweight contender in his first main event, but before that the finale of both the bantamweight and middleweight division from the Ultimate Fighter Returns finale will take place as Ricky Turcios takes on Brady Hiestand, followed by Bryan Battle taking on late replacement Gilbert Urbina.
Kevin Lee also makes his return to the octagon against Daniel Rodriguez at welterweight in his first fight since he was submitted by Charles Oliveira back in March 2020.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 34 we went a disappointing 6/12 with two perfect picks for the night to move to 389/612 (63.56%) with 171 perfect picks (43.96%). We’ll look to improve that here, and after starting with the early prelims and the rest of the prelims we’ll pick the main card now.
Makhmud Muradov (25-6) vs Gerald Meerschaert (32-14) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very fun middleweight fight to open the main card as Muradov and Meerschaert meet in a classic striker vs grappler bout. Muradov has won 14-in-a-row including three-in-a-row in the UFC with his most recent fight against Andrew Sanchez ending with a flying-knee KO at UFC 257. Meerschaert bounced back from two losses in a row against Ian Heinisch and Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 11 before a submission win over Bartosz Fabinski.
Muradov is a sensational striker with great boxing skills and excellent footwork for a big man, while Meerschaert is a submission expert with 24 wins via tap out in his career. While he’s a great grappler though, he’s not a good wrestler and that is what Muradov is best at – denying takedowns and beating people up on the feet. Muradov has a tremendous speed advantage in this one and with his crisp striking it seems most likely that he can secure a win.
Overall, Muradov should have way too much for Meerschaert here. 17 wins via knockout tells me he has a killer instinct too and I think he’ll hit Meerschaert clean enough to get that big KO once again. PICK – Makhmud Muradov via Knockout, Round 2
Andre Petroski (5-1) vs Micheal Gillmore (6-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Two TUF contestants from this season go head-to-head on the finale in this one at middleweight. Petroski is 5-1 with a defeat in his most recent professional fight via knockout, while Gillmore is on a three-fight win streak in his professional career before losing in the first round of the TUF house to finalist Gilbert Urbina.
Petroski is a powerhouse wrestler with powerful striking too and a good submission game. Gillmore on the other hand is a former karate champion with great striking and okay wrestling to try and keep fights standing. The issue for him is that his wrestling isn’t even close to that of Petroski’s and his showing in the TUF house won’t do much to convince anyone of anything different.
He walked backwards with little aggression and that allowed Urbina to score an early takedown so if Petroski gets that chance then this fight won’t last long at all. PICK – Andre Petroski via Submission, Round 1
Kevin Lee (18-6) vs Daniel Rodriguez (15-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
‘The Motown Phenom’ is back in the octagon as he takes on the highly impressive ‘D-Rod’ in the welterweight division. Lee has struggled in the octagon recently, with just one win in his last four and no fights since March 2020 while Rodriguez has impressively won his last two-in-a-row against Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 23 and Preston Parsons.
Lee is a tremendous wrestler with great pedigree, but has spent most of his career in the lightweight division making him a bit of an inbetweener for division. Rodriguez on the other hand is a natural welterweight with tremendous boxing and a big size advantage for the fight. Rodriguez will use his jab plenty, but Lee will be happy to strike with him as he tries to open up the opportunities for takedowns.
The fight comes down to whether or not Lee can get a takedown and I’m not sure he can. Rodriguez absolutely has the striking advantage and power edge, and I think the size he has will be enough to stop Lee getting significant takedowns enough to score a close decision win. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision
Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs Brady Hiestand (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The first final from this year’s TUF series is the bantamweights. Turcios won two wars on the series this year but his most recent professional fights have been mixed, going 2-2 in his last four. Hiestand on the other hand had a close fight in the first round before securing an early TKO in his semi-final, while he is 1-1 professionally in his last two fights.
Turcios is a freestyle fighter who has good strikes with lots of volume and awkward movements, while he also has really good jiu-jitsu too. Hiestand is a solid wrestler with good top control and decent striking, but he has a lot less experience in this fight. Turcios knows how to work a crowd and judges and his volume is great, always moving forward with an iron chin.
Overall, I think once again we’ll see Turcios bring an entertaining fight but come out with a big win to be crowned the winner of this series and earn the contract. PICK – Ricky Turcios via Decision
Bryan Battle (5-1) vs Gilbert Urbina (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The middleweight finale for TUF has a short-notice replacement involved after Tresean Gore pulled out with injury. Bryan Battle makes his UFC debut after two big wins as an underdog during the competition, while Urbina is brought back in to the finale after being KO’d by Gore in the semi-final in the house.
Battle is a mixed-style fighter with lots of heart and excellent cardio, with solid striking and excellent scrambles on the ground. Urbina on the other hand is a good striker with good volume but with some great wrestling to back him up too. The issue for Urbina is that he’s a welterweight naturally and against a natural middleweight he could struggle to get that wrestling going.
Battle is a great scrambler if he does get taken down and he has the volume and size advantage so should be more than able to secure an impressive win and earn himself a UFC contract. PICK – Bryan Battle via Decision
Edson Barboza (22-9) vs Giga Chikadze (13-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Barboza is a stunning striker, with incredible kicks but also brilliant power in his hands with fun body shots and ripping crosses to the chin, while Chikadze is a super accurate kickboxer with a trademark body/head kick and crisp hands. The problem for Chikadze in this banger of a fight is that Barboza throws more volume and also has some pretty good grappling too.
Overall, it comes down to who can hit their opponent the most and harder and I think that Barboza has that advantage in this fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chikadze won, but Barboza is so polished at the highest level that I can’t go against him here. PICK – Edson Barboza via Decision
The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.
Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.
Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card, starting with the early prelims and prelims here.
Alan Baudot (8-2) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight banger to open the card as Baudot looks for his first UFC win against Nascimento. Baudot lost his debut, getting KO’d by Tom Aspinall at UFC Fight Island 5 while Nascimento won his debut but was knocked out by Chris Daukaus on the same card in 45 seconds.
Baudot is a heavy handed striker but quite slow on his feet, loading his strikes up but when landing taking someone’s head off. Nascimento is a supreme jiu-jitsu player with seven submissions from eight career wins, with superb top pressure and good sweeps from his back too. It’s a weird match up between them, but realistically Nascimento is likely to secure a takedown early and dominate to an early submission win if he can afford getting his head taken off first.
PICK – Rodrigo Nascimento via Submission, Round 1
Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1) vs Malcolm Gordon (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Figueiredo fights in a similar way to his brother, just without the x-factor power and submission skills. Gordon on the other hand is a good wrestler with heavy top pressure and tiring his opponent out from above. Figueiredo will almost certainly look to use his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and just piece him up on the feet, while Gordon will try hard to take him down and wear him out.
Unfortuately for Gordon, Figueiredo’s got good power in his left hand and good takedown defence so he should be able to secure the win. PICK – Francisco Figueiredo via Decision
Miles Johns (11-1) vs Anderson Dos Santos (21-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun bantamweight bout here as Johns and Dos Santos look to make it two wins in a row against each other. Johns was stopped by Mario Bautista before bouncing back with a stoppage win of his own against Kevin Natividad at UFC Vegas 12. Dos Santos lost his first two UFC fights via decision, but finally got a win when he submitted Martin Day.
Johns has a stiff jab that lands very often and always has his wrestling skills to fall back on whenever necessary. Dos Santos on the other hand has good power in his hands but the techniques are limited to hooks mostly, while his submission game on the ground is great and dangerous.
Johns’ wrestling is good enough to control where the fight goes and has the better striking on the feet, so as long as his cardio holds up this should be a good win for him. PICK – Miles Johns via Decision
Khalid Taha (13-3) vs Sergey Morozov (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger coming up at 135lbs as Taha and Morozov look to bounce back from defeats last time out in the UFC. Taha put on an okay performance against Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 13 but was beaten, while Morozov got beaten up and submitted by Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 8.
Taha is a solid striker with good pressure and volume to his game, while Morozov has excellent grappling skills despite the defeat in his last bout via submission. Both fighters have issues with the other’s strengths and realistically this is a fight that has two outcomes.
Either Taha can avoid the takedowns and batters Morozov on the feet, or Morozov eats a few punches to get the fight to the ground and dominates on the mat. The latter is more likely in my eyes judging by Taha’s previous attempts at defending takedowns, so Morozov gets my pick. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
Amanda Lemos (9-1-1) vs Montserrat Ruiz (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Lemos is one hell of a striker, with great strikes and knees and also some really good takedown defence too. Ruiz is short and aggressive and in her last bout she showed that from the clinch she’s really dangerous with the head and arm throw to wear her opponents down.
Lemos is so powerful and has really good leg kicks to go with it too, so I’d be surprised if Ruiz can cope with this level of fighter right now. PICK – Amanda Lemos via Knockout, Round 2
Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs Preston Parsons (9-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Featured prelim bout is an interesting welterweight clash between the young Daniel Rodriguez against UFC debutant Parsons. Rodriguez is 2-1 in his most recent fights seeing a decision loss to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 sandwiched between wins over Dwight Grant and Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 22. Parsons is on a four-fight win streak coming into this fight and steps in on short notice.
Rodriguez is a sensational boxer, with fantastic jabs and a powerhouse of a left hand. Parsons is a very heavy wrestler who has excellent submission skills and a violent clinch game too. While Rodriguez has never fought a fighter as heavily reliant on wrestling, he was preparing for Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Rodriguez is by far the best fighter Parsons has ever fought and on short notice it’s surely a hurdle too much to overcome. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2
Great start to the fight for Kasanganay as he comes forward to close the distance early and lands a nice right hand. Palatnikov throws a kick which Kasanganay catches and then he lands another big right hand before getting a body lock and taking Palatnikov down to the ground. Kasanganay using heavy top pressure but not landing much damage and Palatnikov is able to get back to his feet. Kasanganay goes for another takedown but Palatnikov defends it well and they clinch against the cage now. Palatnikov starts teeing off against the cage but Kasanganay does well to avoid any strikes and clinch up again. Nice left hand lands from Palatnikov at the end of the round but should be 10-9 Kasanganay.
Kasanganay comes out quickly in the second round and lands a big right hand that drops Palatnikov! He forces the takedown with pure power and scrambles to take his neck. He locks in a rear-naked choke and squeezes, forcing Palatnikov to tap out! Big win for Kasanganay!
Da-Un Jung def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
Reserved start from both fighters as Knight comes out throwing low calf kicks to prevent Jung from letting his jab fly. Knight goes in for a takedown and lifts Jung but he defends it well, switches the position and is able to get a throw perfectly to end up in top position. Knight is landing some nice right hands from the bottom as he holds Jung in place, but Jung fires back with a couple of right hands of his own to shut that down. Jung passes into half guard and tries to move into side control but Knight sweeps him really well and explodes back onto his feet. Knight clinches up once again and Jung is able to get the same trip once more to get back in top position. Some decent ground and pound from Jung as Knight looks quite tired now but he’s able to explode to his feet again as the round ends. 10-9 Jung.
Knight comes out throwing lots of low kicks once again, but Jung is backing him up to the cage and looking to hunt him down. Both guys land a nice right hand each before Knight shoots in for a takedown. Jung defends it, clinches up and then lands the same outside trip once again to take top position and starts landing ground and pound against the cage. Knight tries to get to his feet but Jung stays heavy and drags him down to the mat once more, then takes his back and sinks in both hooks. Jung starts raining down punches and Knight is trying to explode out again rather than use technique. Knight is just surviving right now and Jung continues to smash him up from his back on top. Lots of damage but Knight survives the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 20-17 Jung.
Jung comes forward early in the final round and Knight has abandoned the leg kicks and is throwing bombs. Jung lands a nice uppercut, then switches levels and gets a big takedown! Knight explodes to his feet again but Jung is able to drag and throw Knight back to the mat with relative ease. Jung floats through the positions and ends up in side control, landing knees to the body and just completely dominating all the exchanges in this fight. Jung stays busy from top position on the ground landing damage for the rest of the fight for a very comfortable win. 30-26 Jung.
Luis Saldana def Jordan Griffin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Really good start to the fight for Saldana as he comes out with his hands low and is throwing quick kicks to the legs and body. Saldana throws a night three punch combo that clips Griffin, who shoots in for a takedown and gets it but Saldana gets back up very quickly. More leg kicks from Saldana take Griffin off his feet but he keeps coming forward and lands two big punches as he rushes forward and goes in for a takedown again. Saldana defends well against the cage and they break, but Griffin stays in his face and keeps throwing big punches. He keeps pouring punches and then eventually gets the takedown, but Saldana is able to roll through and escape before Griffin gets a headlock and looks for some sort of bulldog choke. Saldana is able to escape and Griffin charges once again and just misses with a big head-kick before the round ends. Very close, but I go 10-9 Griffin.
Slower start to the round from both guys as Saldana comes out again looking for low kicks and front kicks to the body, but Griffin pressures him again. Saldana slips as he throws a kick and Griffin jumps on top. Saldana looks for an armbar and then switches to a heel hook to create space which gets both guys back up. Saldana jumps on the neck of Griffin looking for a guillotine, but Griffin is calm and escapes before getting the fight back down. He starts looking for a bulldog choke again but Saldana escapes it only for Griffin to continue with his pressure and get back into a dominant position. Griffin starts floating and then takes the back and sinks in a rear naked choke deep but he runs out of time so we’re going to the final round. 20-18 Griffin.
Saldana comes out in the final round and knows he needs a finish. He’s trying to stay out of wrestling range, using punches rather than kicks to avoid being taken down but he looks exhausted. Griffin isn’t exactly fresh himself but he’s coming forward still but doing enough to stay out of range. Saldana looks to kick off the cage with a superman punch but just misses with that and the follow up hook, before Griffin shoots in for a tired takedown against the cage. Saldana defends it well and switches the position around but Griffin gets his arm under the chin and looks for a rear-naked choke! Saldana stays calm and escapes and ends up on top with 90 seconds to go. Saldana is able to take the back of Griffin for a split second, but Griffin then switches around and finishes the round on top looking for a submission. Probably a Saldana round but should be a win for Griffin. 29-28.
Jack Shore def Hunter Azure via Split Decision (30-27 x2, 28-29)
Composed start to the bout from both men as they feel each other out with jabs and low kicks before they both clinch up against the cage. Shore looking like the stronger fighter as they battle for position and he gets a body lock in nicely and picks Azure up and sweeps the legs for a takedown. Azure gets back up quickly but Shore keeps the hands locked and continues to drag Azure around. Shore tries to take the back but Azure drops to his knees and counters by turning into Shore’s guard. Shore kicks off the hips to get back to his feet quickly before Azure can do any damage and they clinch against the cage again before separating. Both men throw a simultaneous kick that makes for a big thud before a nice high kick lands from Shore. Azure looks for a takedown against the cage but Shore defends and the round ends. 10-9 Shore.
Fast start from Azure in the second round as he goes straight in for a clinch against the cage and lands some nice knees to the body and thighs. Shore is patient and eventually gets back up and catches a kick from Azure and lands a right hand that drops Azure. Azure gets back up quickly though and Shore looks for a clinch against the takedown before going for a takedown of his own. He shoots in and Azure looks for a guillotine which forces Shore to abandon and go to his back to escape, but Azure ends up on top in half guard. Shore uses his long legs and hips really well to get back up to the feet and the clinch continues against the cage once again. Accidental low blow from Azure causes a short pause in the action but they clinch again when they resume. Azure lands a nice right hand when they separate and then lands a good right hook but Shore starts landing some strikes of his own too. Azure lands a big right hand clean but Shore responds with an uppercut as the round ends. Very close round, probably in Azure’s favour. 19-19.
Azure goes straight in for a takedown at the start of the third but Shore stuffs it well and starts working off his jab from the outside. Azure changes levels to avoid a right hand and goes for a single leg, but Shore defends it brilliantly once again against the cage. Stiff low kick from Shore and then a nice left hook lands that stings Azure, who shoots for a takedown quickly after but is denied. Shore stuffs another attempt and then takes Azure down himself, landing some short punches against the cage and leaning all his weight on Azure to drag him back down. He looks to take Azure’s back and then moves into mount, switching between both positions. Azure is able to get back to his feet but Shore keeps hold of him and is able to take him down once again as we enter the final 90 seconds. Azure scrambles and rolls through to escape Shore’s grip and ends up on top and looks to land ground and pound but Shore defends brilliantly and then escapes a rear naked choke attempt to see out the round. Should be a win for Shore, 29-28.
Jarjis Danho def Yorgan De Castro via Knockout, Round 1 (3:02)
Slow start to the fight for both guys as they throw some leg kicks and circle each other. Danho throwing more and more leg kicks but not much action in the first two minutes. Danho looks to clinch up but De Castro throws him off and lands a big left hand that wobbles Danho! He comes forward with more punches but Danho avoids and goes for a takedown. The two separate and De Castro continues to come forward, then both men throw big right hands and Danho lands on the side of the head and puts De Castro’s lights out!! He lands one more on the ground but it’s all over! What a knockout!
John Makdessi def Ignacio Bahamondes via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Bahamondes using his length well very early on, with long jabs and front kicks. Bahamondes doing really well to mix up his attacks, landing leg kicks, jabs, straight rights, body shots and kicks while changing up his stance constantly. Makdessi just can’t get a read right now as Bahamondes keeps moving. Makdessi lands a big right hand that makes Bahamondes do the chicken dance and he pushes on for the finish, but Bahamondes clinches up to try and recover. Bahamondes now is trying to stay away and land from range but Makdessi continues to pour on the pressure. Bahamondes goes for a takedown against the cage but Makdessi defends it well. Bahamondes lands a couple of elbows on the break and they exchange strikes again as the round ends. That’s a really close round could go either way. I go Makdessi for the damage.
Bahamondes seems to have recovered now as he comes out popping his jab once again and circling on the outside. Makdessi taking the centre and looking to catch Bahamondes on his way in, but it’s not working too well for him just yet. Three jabs in a row land for Makdessi who returns with a big left hand of his own. Bahamondes lands a big straight left then misses with a few kicks before shooting in for a takedown, but Makdessi defends it with ease. Bahamondes starts throwing some knees against the cage before they separate and go back to trading straight punches. Both guys trading jabs and straights and landing, then Bahamondes lands a huge spinning heel kick to the head but Makdessi eats it. Makdessi responds with two body shots and a short left hook to the chin then lands a clean one two. Another super close round, I’ve got it even.
Third round following the pattern of the previous two, with Bahamondes landing from range but Makdessi standing firm in the middle and popping him back too. Bahamondes lands some nice jabs but Makdessi keeps landing the straight right and left jab in response. Bahamondes looks for a big knee that just misses and then he shoots in for a takedown to mix it up. Makdessi stuffs it and lands a nice right hand, before Bahamondes starts pouring on pressure and lands a big one-two. Bahamondes lands another nice left hand that sends Makdessi backwards but they continue to stand in a phonebox and trade for the remainder of the round in what was a brilliant fight. Another very close round, I don’t know how to call it. 29-28 either way, I lean to Bahamondes.
Mateusz Gamrot def Scott Holtzman via Knockout, Round 2 (1:22)
Good start to the round from both guys, with Gamrot looking to land from range to set up his takedowns while Holtzman is looking to counter with heavy punches. Gamrot steps in for a takedown and grabs the leg and tries to go for a heel hook but Holtzman defends it well. Gamrot lands a nice left but Holtzman responds with a huge left hand on his way in! Gamrot responds with a couple of left hands again and then goes for single leg again and transitions to a double leg to get the takedown against the cage. Gamrot allows him back up and throws a huge elbow to the ear that wobbles Holtzman towards the end of the round. 10-9 Gamrot.
Holtzman comes out very aggressive and starts walking Gamrot down, but he’s loading up his attacks with big uppercuts and overhands. Gamrot moving side to side to stay out of the way and he throws a big one two down the middle which folds Holtzman! He jumps on and lands a couple more shots before the referee gets in and waves it off. Huge win for Gamrot!
Joe Solecki def Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Very positive start from Solecki as he looks to be first in the striking exchanges between the two, but Miller just misses with his big left hand. Nice calf kick lands from Miller but Solecki is coming forward and landing nice short flurries of punches. Big right hand lands and forces Miller to think twice but then the veteran lands a nice body kick. Solecki shoots in for a takedown but Miller stuffs it and ends up on top, so Solecki goes into full guard and starts defending. Miller is landing some nice short elbows from the top position and stacking Solecki up to prevent him from being able to get back to his feet easily. Miller misses with an elbow as the rounds ends, probably a Miller round because of the top control. 10-9 Miller.
Solecki comes out aggressive in the second round and lands a nice right hand before shooting in for the takedown. Miller looks to defend it but Solecki takes the legs from under him and moves into full guard. Now it’s Solecki looking to stack Miller against the cage and throw some ground and pound, but Miller is staying busy from his back too. A few body shots from Solecki as he looks to wear Miller down heading into the final 90 seconds of the round. Not much action in this round but Solecki controlled it and takes the round. 19-19 going into the final round.
Both men see the route to victory as being on top and so immediately they both move into a clinch position. Solecki the physically stronger guy right now and gets a body lock, which Miller tries to roll through from but Solecki holds on and ends up on top once again. Solecki throwing short shots on the ground from half guard but Miller is trying to get back to his feet now rather than accepting the position. Solecki doing really well to control the position now and just doing enough damage to stop the fight from being stood back up. Solecki maintains the position for the rest of the round to secure what should be a straight forward decision win.
Daniel Rodriguez def Mike Perry via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Tense start to this one with both men respecting the power of their opponent early on. Perry throws a few le kicks and Rodriguez is throwing his jab well and has already busted up the nose. Rodriguez throws a big one-two down the middle that staggers Perry but he continues to come forward to look for a finish. Rodriguez is landing big one-twos at will and Perry is getting pieced up, so he changes levels and powers through with a takedown. He lifts Rodriguez up and slams him down but Rodriguez holding on for a guillotine which Perry does well to defend against and avoid. Perry stays in top position and works for some ground and pound to see the round out. Perry still in it, but that’s a Rodriguez round for me. 10-9.
Second round and Rodriguez is doing really well on the feet, with his jab landing at will and the left hand following up behind it cleanly too. Perry is throwing some nice leg kicks and is just struggling to be first with the punches because of the range difference. Perry gets a body lock and looks for a takedown which he gets, then tries to transition onto Rodriguez’s back, but Rodriguez does well to stay strong and get back up pretty quickly. Rodriguez continues to land the jab and left straight at will, but Perry is still standing in front of him and throwing shots of his own. Big right hook, left hand from Rodriguez lands clean. Perry comes forward looking for a takedown with 20 seconds to go but Rodriguez defends it well to claim the round again. 20-18 Rodriguez.
Final round and the pattern continues, as Rodriguez lines up the jab and takes the centre of the cage. Perry is struggling to land anything of note because he keeps getting pummelled every time he tries to go first. Perry shoots for a takedown but Rodriguez denies it again and shrugs him off in the clinch. Rodriguez throws three huge left hands in an exchange but Perry is still taking the punishment and trying to come forward. Perry’s face is so busted up right now and at this point it’s just about not getting finished as Rodriguez shoots in for a takedown but Perry stuffs it to see the round out with a big exchange. 30-27 Rodriguez, excellent performance.
Fast start to the fight from Dern as she charges forward throwing big punches with a couple landing but Nunes responds with a couple of her own. Dern charges forward again and lands a nice left hand, but Nunes throws a good right hand to counter it too. Dern shoots in for a takedown against the cage and lifts the leg high then sweeps the standing leg and dumps her down. She immediately works to advance the position and threatens with a leg attack to pass into half guard. From half guard she quickly moves into mount and starts raining down elbows from the top. She transitions into an armbar position and despite Nunes’ best attempts to defend it, Dern extends the arm and gets the tap out.
Julian Marquez def Sam Alvey via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (2:07)
Pretty tame opening to the round as Marquez takes the centre early and looks to figure out his range by flicking out his lead hand. Neither men throw anything really for the first two minutes barring a couple of missed hooks. Alvey is loading up big with his left hand and it’s allowing Marquez to avoid it well. Marquez lands a big right hook clean and Alvey is hurt. Marquez goes in again and lands two more that drops Alvey but he falls into Marquez and quickly recovers. Two more big right hands land from Marquez but Alvey just about stays standing and now throws a huge left of his own. Alvey is all the way back against the cage and just trying to hit Marquez on his way in but he’s missing wildly. 10-9 Marquez at the end of the round.
More of the same in the second round as Marquez backs Alvey up and lands a nice body shot, but Alvey explodes forward and lands a nice right hand of his own. Marquez throws an overhand right that lands clean on Alvey’s chin but he’s still there throwing his own heat. Marquez lands a huge right hand that drops Alvey and he goes all in for the finish with big strikes. Alvey looks to defend with a takedown but he’s eating big shots. Marquez abandons the strikes and goes for a rear-naked choke and puts Alvey to sleep for the win. Great performance.
Arnold Allen def Sodiq Yusuff via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Good start for Allen as Yusuff comes forward and throws a body kick which he catches and immediately gets a takedown. Yusuff does well to defend well against the cage and hooks up a guillotine choke that forces Allen to roll to his back and abandon the takedown attempt. Yusuff comes forward and is chopping away at the leg of Allen, but both men are throwing heat. Allen lands a big left hand but Yusuff keeps coming and clinches up. Allen lands a big left hand that drops Yusuff and he moves in to take top position but Yusuff does well to recover and avoid further damage. Allen goes for a takedown against the cage but it’s defended well and the round comes to an end with a nice exchange in the centre. 10-9 Allen.
Yusuff continues to push the pace and pressuring forward, but Allen is threatening with the big left hand once again. Yusuff lands some nice chopping leg kicks again and Yusuff is starting to land with his jab. He’s starting to touch Allen more and more, then Allen throws a huge head-kick that rocks him! Allen slips as it lands but he jumps back up and goes to land some ground and pound, but Yusuff recovers well once again and they get back to competing in the middle. Clinch against the cage and Allen is physically stronger and able to dictate the position more, and he sees out the round in control. 20-18 Allen.
Good start from Allen as he looks to back Yusuff up to the cage with his physicality and shoot for takedowns, but Yusuff refusing to accept it and defending really well. He switches the position on the cage and lands some nice knees to the body of Allen before they separate and go back into the centre. Lots of short exchanges and clinch work against the cage for the rest of the round as Yusuff arguably takes the round but it won’t be enough for a win. 29-28 Allen for me, very competitive fight.
Marvin Vettori def Kevin Holland via Unanimous Decision (50-44 x3)
Holland makes a fast start throwing some leg kicks and big right hands but early on he lands a low blow to cause a pause in the action. Vettori comes in tight for the clinch after the action resumes, but Holland is striking from range and lands a heavy right hand. Vettori finally gets a body lock and clinch against the cage to start wearing on Holland, but he defends the attempted trip well which forces Vettori to change to a double leg. Holland defends it well again and Vettori separates, but he’s right in Holland’s face and applying lots of pressure. Vettori is able to drag Holland down to the ground, but Holland starts throwing up-kicks to try and create space to get up to his feet. Vettori is able to get full guard and starts applying lots of pressure and looking to land ground and pound. Holland is able to roll through and gets back to the feet, but then eats a big left hand. Good first round from both, very close to score. 10-9 Vettori for me but could go either way.
Holland comes out fast once again and lands some sharp punches and straight kicks but Vettori is trying to close the distance earlier this time. Holland lands a big one-two but Vettori eats it, slips a shot and then shoots in for another takedown against the cage. He gets him down quickly this time and avoids the guillotine attempt to go into full guard and land big ground and pound strikes. Vettori starts stacking Holland against the cage and raining down strikes, completely dominant. Holland tries to kick out of it but Vettori controls the position well and gets right back to work with the ground and pound from the top position. More strikes from Vettori opens up a cut on Holland’s face and he tries to scramble out but Vettori just controls his position even once Holland gets back to his feet to end the round. 20-17.
Holland’s left eye is closing up but he’s battling on and Vettori comes out like a freight train and looks to go straight for the takedown again. He gets it quickly and then moves into mount almost immediately. He looks to set up an arm triangle submission and locks it in tight, but Holland doesn’t tap and is able to escape from the bottom to get back up to his feet. Vettori goes straight back for the takedown again but Holland does well to avoid it. Holland lands a couple of nice strikes standing but then once again Vettori changes levels, clinches against the cage and controls the position. Holland lands a couple of huge strikes that seem to wobble Vettori a little but the buzzer goes. 30-26 Vettori.
Big early left hand lands at the start of the fourth for Vettori, but Holland responds with a couple of big hooks of his own. Vettori shoots in for a takedown and gets it down pretty easily once again and goes straight into full guard to land some ground and pound. Vettori looks to stack Holland who rolls through to avoid it and gets back to full guard. Holland is able to get back to the feet after a short scramble but very quickly Vettori is able to drag him back down and goes straight into mount. He looks for the arm triangle submission again, but Holland stays calm and takes it back to half guard. Vettori lands some heavy strikes and then goes back into full guard before passing into half guard again. Vettori tries to stack him and Holland starts throwing up-kicks again but Vettori is just too strong and sees out the round on top. 40-35 Vettori.
Holland still looks fresh and lands a bomb of a right hand that gets Vettori’s attention, so the Italian changes levels and gets the takedown immediately and goes into full guard. Holland kicks off the cage and finds a way to get back to the feet but once again Vettori just locks his hands, finds an angle and drags him back down to the mat. Vettori steps over into half guard and starts throwing some more ground and pound with Holland fighting off his back. Vettori steps over into mount once again looking to set up the arm triangle choke, but Holland explodes back up to his feet. Vettori holds the body lock once again though and drags the fight to the mat again with 40 seconds to go and he sees the round out in control. 50-44 Vettori, pure domination.
Elsewhere on the card, Nina Nunes (formerly known as Ansaroff) makes her return to the octagon after giving birth last year when she takes on another new mother in Mackenzie Dern in a fight high up on the strawweight rankings too.
Last time out at UFC 260, we went 8/10 on the night to improve our record to 270/426 (63.38%) with 121 perfect picks (44.81%).
‘Platinum’ is a striker with powerful punches and a pretty decent wrestling game, but despite being naturally talented when it comes to fighting he just doesn’t care. He’s had issues with alcohol and dieting in the past and now he comes up against a man who hits harder and is taking this game very seriously.
Rodriguez has crazily heavy hands but Perry has an iron chin and both guys have got some deficiencies in their cardio but it’s hard to pick Perry when you don’t know which version will turn up. He hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2017 and I think Rodriguez does enough to get a decision win. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision
Nina Nunes (10-6) vs Mackenzie Dern (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A battle of the mothers in the strawweight division as Nina Nunes (formerly Ansaroff) returns from child birth to take on Mackenzie Dern.
Nunes has tremendous wrestling and cardio and throws some really good combinations with her hands, while Dern is a jiu-jitsu master who has started working on her kickboxing game. The striking still needs work and she will need to get the fight to the ground to stand a chance of winning and I back Nunes to be able to keep the fight standing for the longest period because Dern’s takedown attempts are awful. If the fight goes down it’s Dern’s to lose. PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2
Sam Alvey (33-14-1) vs Julian Marquez (8-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Alvey has good takedown defence and a good right hook counter, but other than that he tends to just wait for a chance to land it and is hilariously bad to watch in the cage. Marquez on the other hand loves absolute chaos and throws big punches in bunch with wild aggression, who has pretty decent submissions too.
The likelihood is that Alvey will land his big right hand at some point, but with 20lbs of less power behind it against a young fighter with a sturdy chin, I don’t think it gets the job done. That means Marquez can go crazy as he loves to and I think he’s able to get a stoppage win. PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 1
Arnold Allen (16-1) vs Sodiq Yusuff (11-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An absolute banger of a featherweight bout between England’s Arnold Allen and another hot prospect in Sodiq Yusuff. Allen has won nine in a row including wins over Gilbertz Melendez and Nick Lentz most recently while Yusuff is on a six-fight win streak himself. Both make their first appearances since January 2020.
Yusuff is a tremendously powerful striker, who has great calf kicks and a very solid overhand right while Allen is a really good, well-rounded fighter who has split his knockout and submission wins at 5/4. Allen is a really good pressure fighter and opts for volume over power, using those combinations to close distance and get takedowns.
Yusuff is one of the most powerful fighters in the division and he does a good job of landing accurate strikes, so if he can take Allen’s takedowns away from him he has a great chance of landing those heavy strikes and moving into the rankings with a big win. PICK – Sodiq Yusuff via Knockout, Round 2
Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) vs Kevin Holland (21-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Vettori has good power in his hands but his best work comes when he gets hold of you, takes you down and lands ground and pound from top position. Holland has got genuine one-punch knockout power on the feet, or his back if you ask Jacare Souza, but he struggles against wrestlers who know how to control him from the top.
Vettori is one of those fighters, who has a good chin but is just efficient in all his movements. If Holland comes in with the same antics he did against Brunson where he plays up to the camera then he will get punished, but if he comes in focused and with a solid game plan he could land big punches on Vettori’s way in to put him out.
That seems highly unlikely to me though, because Vettori just doesn’t waste any chances and knows exactly how to get the job done. Vettori gets takedowns, beats Holland up for 25 minutes and then calls out Israel Adesanya for a rematch. PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision
Lets see if we can improve those numbers with this big card, starting with the prelims here.
Louis Cosce (7-0) vs Sasha Palatnikov (5-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An absolute powerhouse in the welterweight division in Louis Cosce makes his UFC debut after a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in August. He’ll take on Hong Kong’s first UFC fighter in Sasha Palatnikov, who makes his company debut also. Cosce has won four of his last five fights in 79 seconds or less and it’s hard to see this one going any way other than a quick knockout win. Palatnikov is a good wrestler with decent kicks but Cosce is arguably the better wrestler and has a big edge in power and technique on the feet. It may not be as quick, but my money is on it happening in the first round. PICK – Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 1
Kyle Daukaus (9-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Kyle Daukaus makes a second appearance in the UFC following his short-notice defeat to Brendan Allen back in June, when he takes on debutant Dustin Stoltzfus. Both men are grappling experts with Daukaus claiming eight of his nine wins via submission, while Stoltzfus has five submissions of his own. On the feet, Daukaus has a slight boxing edge while Stoltzfus has the power advantage but this bout will almost certainly take place on the ground where I believe Daukaus takes the cake. He’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu and his takedowns are good enough to present him with the top position. Stoltzfus loves a guillotine choke which will often see him on his back and Daukaus should be able to move through the positions to secure a choke win for himself. PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Submission, Round 2
Alan Jouban (16-7) vs Jared Gooden (17-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A super even bout between two experienced welterweights as Alan Jouban takes on Jared Gooden at 170lbs. Jouban has lost three of his last four and makes his return to the octagon for the first time since his defeat to Dwight Grant in April 2019. Gooden on the other hand makes his UFC debut on the back of three straight wins, including a TKO stoppage win back in July. Both guys are incredibly well rounded and open themselves up to a brawl, which will suit Jouban that little bit more. He’s got a slight edge everywhere for me, but Gooden has the youth factor and is a bit more explosive. ‘Nite Train’ is a good offensive wrestler, but defensively he struggles. Jouban is very capable of getting back to his feet if he gets taken down and he has the power to end the fight on the feet. Ultimately I think it goes the distance but don’t be shocked if someone gets put to sleep. PICK – Alan Jouban via Decision
Nicolas Dalby (18-4-1 1NC) vs Daniel Rodriguez (13-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A potential barn burner in the welterweight division as Daniel Rodriguez steps in on short notice looking to go 4-0 during 2020 to take on UFC veteran Nicolas Dalby. Rodriguez was supposed to fight Ryan Barbarena last week but after that fight fell through, he now comes in to replace Orion Cosce on a week’s notice. He currently sits on a nine-fight win streak including a KO win over Dwight Grant in August, while Dalby was beaten last time out after getting submitted by Jesse Ronson on Fight Island. Rodriguez has great power and Dalby has a habit of starting slowly, despite his obviously great skillset. If Dalby can avoid that, he has the technical edge in most places but I think Rodriguez could get it done early. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1
Antonina Shevchenko (8-2) vs Ariane Lipski (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
There’s another Shevchenko family member on this card and it’s the older sister of the champion, as Antonina looks to bounce back from two losses in her last three against up and comer Ariane Lipski. ‘Pantera’ saw the unbeaten start to her career ended by Roxanne Modafferi in April 2019, before bouncing back with a win over Lucie Pudilova. She went back into the loss column in May of this year, being dominated by Katlyn Chookagian. Lipski is on a two-fight win streak including a win last time out against Luana Carolina on Fight Island. It’s a true striker bout, with both women awful at defending takedowns and more comfortable on their feet. It should be a banger but I think Lipski has the power advantage and better footwork to be able to continue her winning run. PICK – Ariane Lipski via Decision
Joaquin Buckley (11-3) vs Jordan Wright (11-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The human highlight reel Joaquin Buckley returns following his incredible knockout win over Impa Kasanganay back in October. He takes on Jordan Wright, who looks to make it 2-0 in the UFC and maintain an unbeaten record in his career. Buckley is an absolutely powerhouse with excellent striking techniques and a great chin, while Wright is also a fine striker in his own right. Both guys possess fantastic power but Wright struggles when it comes to fighting off the back foot. Buckley is happy to take a shot on his way in and once he’s in the pocket he is violent and it won’t be long until he turns Wright’s lights out. PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1
Brandon Moreno (17-5-1) vs Brandon Royval (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
One of the best fights on the card for me as we could be potentially looking at the next contender for the title. Brandon Moreno has won his last two fights, outclassing Kai-Kara France and Jussier Formiga following a draw to Askar Askarov. Royval entered the UFC in May and has taken it by storm, beating Kai-Kara France and Tim Elliot using his aggressive submission skills. Both of these guys thrive in chaos with scrambles from takedowns while also holding their own on the feet which makes this arguably the most even fight on the card. Moreno has the edge in power and has performed well in scrambles before in previous fights but Royval’s unbelievable work-rate is something he hasn’t come up against before. Royval is so slick on the ground and so aggressive that it’s hard to see him letting the opportunity slide if he gets into a dominant position on the ground and I think he goes into 2021 as the next big thing in the flyweight division. PICK – Brandon Royval via Decision
The UFC hosted yet another card from the APEX in Las Vegas, but it was chopped and changed a crazy amount in the 24 hours prior.
Calen Born didn’t weigh in for his fight with Dwight Grant, while Takashi Sato successfully weighed-in before being pulled from the fight against Daniel Rodriguez by the medical team. Grant and Rodriguez will now fight each other.
Marc Striegl pulled out of the opening fight following weight-cut related issues and was replaced by Trevin Jones on short notice to make the bout a catchweight 140lbs fight.
Ovince Saint-Preux tested positive for COVID-19 on the day of the fight and therefore his fight against Alonzo Menifield was cancelled. It will be rescheduled for some time in September, per the UFC.
Trevin Jones def Timur Valiev via Knockout, Round 2 (1:59)
A fast paced opening round between these two with Valiev putting in plenty of body work to begin with. Valiev showing good movement and excellent kicking skills while he’s making Jones bite on all his feints. A beautiful teep kick down the middle sees Jones fold in pain and Valiev jumps on the attack with knees, elbows and body punches but Jones stays in the fight. Jones shoots for a takedown with seconds remaining and gets it to end the round on top and get into the second round. 10-9 Valiev.
With the encouragement of that takedown at the end of the first round, Jones comes out a bit looser and looks for another right off the bat but Valiev does well to stuff it against the cage. More kicks and feints from Valievas he lands three nasty leg kicks in a row. Valiev goes for another leg kick but Jones counters with a beautiful right hook that drops him! He jumps on top with the ground and pound and the referee stops the fight! Huge upset, huge win, huge knockout!
Matt Semelsberger def Carl Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
A fun, evenly matched first round in the books of this one as these two UFC debutants look to make a good first impression. Both men staying in boxing range and exchanging punches, with Semelsburger throwing heavier punches but Minus landing a bit more accurately. Minus is on the back foot more but both men are well in the fight and it could have gone either way. 10-9 Semelsberger for me, simply for the extra power in the shots.
A very similar start to the second round with Semelsberger still throwing extra power in the exchanges between the two. A big right hand in counter to a body kick by Semelsberger puts Minus on his ass. He rushes over for some ground and pound but Minus makes him miss before giving up his back. Semelsberger locks in a body triangle and attempts for a rear naked choke but Minus defends very well. He spins out and gets back to the feet as the round ends. 20-18 Semelsberger for me.
A much better third round from Minus as Semelsberger seemed to slow down a little. Minus lacking power but he’s putting some nice combinations together and landing almost at will. Semelsberger, visibly tired, shoots for the takedown and gets it but Minus defends well on the ground and gets back to his feet quickly. Final minute and both guys throw heavy punches in the pocket as the round comes to an end. 29-28 Semelsberger for me.
Jordan Wright def Ike Villaneuva via Knockout (Doctors stoppage), Round 1 (1:31)
Well that didn’t last long! Wright opens the fight with a spinning heel kick to the head of Villaneuva who hits the mat immediately. He jumps up and Wright gets him in a Thai clinch and lands huge knees to the face that busts the eye wide open. The referee stops the fight so the doctor can take a look and he calls the fight off immediately. What a win for the Beverly Hills Ninja.
Amanda Lemos def Mizuki Inoue via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A violent first round from Amanda Lemos showed that she is well within her rights to be in the octagon with Mizuki. Inoue used her usual pressing style to get Lemos against the cage and wear her out but Lemos was physically strong enough to withstand it and then throws huge bombs. After landing a big four-punch combo, she steps back and lands a big one-two down the middle that drops Mizuki but she manages to hold Lemos down while she’s on her back. She threatens with an armbar attempt but Lemos defends it and lets her up as the round ends. 10-9 Lemos.
More pressing from Mizuki at the start of the second as she pins Lemos against the cage in a clinch looking for the takedown. Both ladies throw big elbows before Mizuki eventually tries to drag Lemos down. Lemos too physically strong again though and powers out and eventually ends up on top of Mizuki looking to pass her guard. Lemos is starting to tire now but Mizuki still pouring forward with pressure as the round ends. 20-18 Lemos.
Mizuki pushes Lemos against the cage quickly and early in the final round but the Brazilian still too strong for her and is able to stuff all attempts. Mizuki trying to wear her down and shoots for the legs but Lemos defends well before breaking away from the clinch and landing a big elbow to Mizuki’s eye. Once again Mizuki pushes the clinch against the cage and Lemos is just cruising at this point. She lands a big knee to Mizuki who separates from the clinch and then she lands a big right hook. Mizuki still marching forward but this fight is done. 29-28 Lemos.
Daniel Rodriguez def Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 1 (2:24)
What. A. Fight. Inside the first 30 seconds Rodriguez charges forward and Grant lands a big right hook on the way backwards that drops him! He pounces on the ground and pound and lands lots and lots of punches but Rodriguez is moving and trying to get to his feet while covering his head. As he gets back to the feet and Grant is visibly exhausted from trying to finish the fight, Rodriguez lands a left hand that drops Grant. He charges and walks Grant down landing heavy shots, before he connects with another big left hook that drops Grant again! Some more punches against the cage sees Grant drop a third time and the referee steps in and ends the fight. Crazy!
Shana Dobson def Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 2 (1:38)
Agapova is absolutely mental! She essentially sprints out as the round starts and throws bombs, showing several high kicks and big elbows but Dobson goes for a takedown to slow it down quickly. Agapova though starts throwing heavy elbows from the bottom and explodes back to her feet. She lands some ground and pound but Dobson gets back up and lands another takedown. Agapova is now looking more tired as Dobson takes her back but the Kazakhstani reverses the position and looks to attack with a rear naked choke. Good defence from Dobson though as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Agapova.
Second round and Dobson has come out aggressive and she’s lighting Agapova up on the feet. Agapova looks exhausted and shoots for a takedown early to seemingly get a bit of a rest. She gets into the guard and lands some nice punches but Dobson sweeps her from the bottom and ends up in full mount. She lands some big ground and pound and Agapova is barely responding through sheer exhaustion. More punches land and the referee finally ends it. What an upset!
Joe Solecki def Austin Hubbard via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:51)
What a performance from Joe Solecki! Both fighters exchange some nice boxing in the centre before Solecki gets Hubbard against the cage. He goes for a single leg before transitioning to the back and slowly climbs up the back of Hubbard, locking in a standing body triangle. He starts landing a few punches and keeps the triangle locked in. After a short hand fight, Solecki sinks the arm under the chin and gets the tap without the fight ever hitting the ground. Brilliant from Solecki.
Mike Rodriguez def Marcin Prachnio via Knockout, Round 1 (2:17)
A feeler of a start for both as both fighters throw out some leg kicks and jabs to establish range. Rodriguez using his Muay-Thai background to land some nice knees to the body in the clinch which is causing Prachnio some issues. Another clinch and this time Rodriguez throws a big elbow to the head as Prachnio looks to defend the body and puts his lights out! Two big punches land as an exclamation point but Prachnio is out and the referee calls this one off. Impressive win for Mike Rodriguez.
Frankie Edgar def Pedro Munhoz via Split Decision (48-47 x2, 46-49)
A quick start for both fighters in this bout as Edgar uses his excellent footwork and speed advantage to land combinations and then get out of range. Munhoz throwing bombs and heavy leg kicks to try and prevent Edgar’s movement. Munhoz cutting the angles off for Edgar to move too much and lands a nice three punch combo of hooks to mark up Edgar’s face. Munhoz lands a big left hand as Edgar steps away after a small exchange as the round ends. 10-9 Edgar but could go either way.
Edgar comes out more aggressive in the second round and lands some nice right hands to open up a cut over the eye of Munhoz. Edgar mixing in the threat of the takedown as Munhoz continues to pressure forward and close the angles down. Edgar shoots for a takedown and gets it, but Munhoz uses his scrambling to shoot back up quickly. Edgar is landing a lot more regularly now that Munhoz is worrying about the takedowns, but he continues to pressure forward. Big left hook from Munhoz lands followed by a kick as the round ends. 20-18 Edgar.
Third round a bit tamer from both fighters but with a similar pattern, Munhoz charging forward and Edgar moving around and landing combinations. Munhoz landing lots of leg kicks and they’re starting to have an effect on Edgar who’s moving gingerly on it. More jabs from Munhoz as he uses his range well and prevent Edgar shooting for any takedowns. Fun third round where both were busy, I give it to Munhoz. 29-28 Edgar for me.
Edgar comes out and goes straight for a takedown in round 4 and gets it, but once again he’s unable to hold Munhoz down for any period of time. Munhoz lands more leg kicks and a big body kick as Edgar is moving considerably slower in this round. Edgar lands some nice jabs but both fighters are cancelling each other out at the moment. Edgar moves forward with a three punch combination but Munhoz eats them and then lands a big overhand right. Edgar throwing lots of combinations but not putting anything behind them really, so no chance of him stopping Munhoz in this fashion. Great round for both, but I think Munhoz takes it for landing the bigger shots. 38-38 for me.
Final round and Munhoz comes out with two body kicks and a head kick attempt. Munhoz then throws a leg kick and Edgar looks for the single leg but Munhoz defends brilliantly, then throws another leg kick for good measure. Edgar steps forward into the pocket and throws a big combination that Munhoz matches, and both fighters land big shots to the head. Edgar lands a big right hook and then follows it up with a spinning back fist, but Munhoz not being put off coming forward in the slightest. Both guys exchange a bit left hook each as we enter the final 90 seconds. Edgar lands a great straight right hand to the chin, Munhoz continues to pressure forward. Final 10 seconds and Munhoz throws a big right hook and leg kick as the buzzer goes. 48-47 Munhoz for me.
The UFC returns to it’s Fight Night schedule this weekend following UFC 252 last week at the APEX Centre in Las Vegas.
11 fights await us on this card, as Frankie Edgar drops down to Bantamweight finally to take on Pedro Munhoz in the main event. Ovince Saint-Preux returns to light heavyweight in the co-main event for a clash with Contender Series contestant Alonzo Meinfield who steps in on short-notice.
Last week at UFC 242: Miocic vs Cormier, I correctly predicted 7/11 on the night with four of the seven completely perfect picks (winner, method, round). I’ll break down this card and try to do better on this occasion than the last. You can see my picks for the prelims here.
Mariya Agapova (9-1) vs Shana Dobson (3-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
This is a fight that I’m not entirely sure on the reason that it’s happening. Agapova is coming off a three-fight win streak, including a first-round submission win over Hannah Cifers back in June, while Dobson has lost three in a row including being knocked out in just 40 seconds back in February. Agapova is a lethal striker with a good ground game to back her up and while she has inexperience and is still green at just 23 years old, Dobson doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get her down where she’s uncomfortable. Agapova has the pick of how she wants to win this fight and I think she ends it violently with a first-round knockout. PICK – Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 1
Takashi Sato (16-3) vs Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A bout between two powerhouse knockout artists which could end up being the fight of the night, Sato looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC while D-Rod looks to extend his win streak to nine in a row. Both fighters carry crazy power in their hands but Rodriguez tends to be a bit more of a counter-puncher than Sato. Sato has good boxing but his KO wins have come against two fighters he was clearly better than and Rodriguez and he are on a similar level. It could be a case of whoever lands the first clean punch wins and with Rodriguez often countering, he’s likely to catch Sato unaware before he gets caught himself. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2
Marcin Prachnio (13-4) vs Mike Rodriguez (10-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Both these big hitters come in on the back of defeats, with Rodriguez losing to Da Un Jung back in December last year while Prachnio lost to Magomed Ankalaev and Sam Alvey back to back in 2018 and hasn’t fought since. In reality this fight has no business being on the main card here, but it is. Overall its a real pick-em fight, it could go either way and it won’t be of the highest quality at all. Despite having the slightly more impressive CV, two years without competing is a long time and I think that may be the difference here. PICK – Mike Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision
Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs Alonzo Meinfeld (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A short notice fight for Meinfeld after stepping in on one week’s notice for Shamil Gamzatov, he is looking to bounce back from his first professional defeat against Devin Clark back at UFC 250. Ovince Saint Preux was once an opponent for Jon Jones in a title eliminator, but he has now lost four of his last six bouts. Meinfeld’s last appearance saw him get completely outclassed and when he couldn’t land that big punch, he was beaten. OSP will have a four inch reach advantage, a wrestling advantage and is experienced enough to avoid that big punch. If he can get the fight to the ground, it’s impossible to rule out OSP landing ground and pound before ending the fight with his signature Von-Preux choke. PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Submission, Round 2
Pedro Munhoz (18-4-0 1NC) vs Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A super main event in store as the legendary Frankie Edgar moves down to his natural weight class of 135lbs for the first time, to take on UFC veteran Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz most recently got himself into the contender conversation with a sensational knockout win over Cody Garbrandt, but was then beaten dominantly by Aljamain Sterling in his last outing. Edgar has lost three of his last four including being knocked out decisively by both Brian Ortega and Korean Zombie, while he took a beating in his 145lbs title fight against Max Holloway too. Both fighters have a great wrestling background and are therefore not afraid to let their hands go, knowing that they’re more than comfortable on the ground too. The problem for Edgar here, is that while both men have been around for a long time it’s he who has been in there with far bigger men for most of his career. Having previously stood up with his chin in fights, his last three defeats have been humbling and at 38 years of ageit’s unlikely it’s going to get any better now. Munhoz has power in his hands, as he showed against Garbrandt, and is an excellent wrestler capable of securing takedowns against anyone. Overall, I think the miles on the clock will harm Frankie Edgar more than they’ll help him in this fight. PICK – Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision
Do you agree with my picks? Let me know on Twitter.