Tag Archives: Darren Stewart

UFC Vegas 35: Barboza vs Chikadze – Prelims predictions

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 here are the picks for the rest of the prelims.


Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) vs Darren Stewart (12-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very interesting fight at 205lbs as the UK’s ‘Dentist’ moves up to light heavyweight. Jacoby won four-in-a-row before a draw against Ion Cutelaba last time out at UFC Vegas 25, while Stewart is winless in his last three after defeat to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11 before a no-contest and then a defeat to Eryk Anders at UFC 263.

Moving up to light heavyweight is an interesting decision from Stewart, because he’s not really the biggest 185lber in the land. Jacoby has good boxing skills and while his gas tank and wrestling skills aren’t the greatest, Stewart doesn’t really have any stand-out attributes himself. He’s very aggressive and is probably at his best when implementing ground-and-pound, but he may be undersized in this one.

Stewart is really hard to get a read on and while Jacoby isn’t exactly a world-beater, he has a clear path to victory here and I think his size will see him earn a win.
PICK – Dustin Jacoby via Decision

Sam Alvey (33-15-1) vs Wellington Turman (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another bout with some big men on this card as ‘Smilin’ Sam Alvey takes on Brazilian sensation Wellington Turman. Alvey is winless in six fights, with five defeats and a draw including his most recent outing against Julian Marquez when he was submitted at UFC Vegas 23. Turman is a youngster with crazy experience, but he’s lost his last two fights by knockout to Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 6 and then Bruno Silva at UFC Vegas 29.

Alvey is a powerful striker with very heavy hands and an iron chin, but a real lack of technique and anything else. Turman on the other hand is a talented grappler who has recently tried to show off his striking and been knocked out twice. Both these guys are likely to be on their way out of the UFC sooner rather than later but one of them will earn a stay of execution here.

Ultimately, Alvey has great takedown defence and great power while Turman tries for takedowns and doesn’t have a chin either. It’s a perfect storm for chaos and I think Alvey makes it 20 career KO’s and earns his first win since 2018.
PICK – Sam Alvey via Knockout, Round 1

Alessio Di Chirico (13-5) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another fun big-man fight in this one as Di Chirico takes on a short-notice replacement in Alhassan here. Di Chirico lost three-in-a-row before a stunning first-round knockout over Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Island 7 in January, while Alhassan has now lost three-in-a-row himself against Mounir Lazzez, Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 14 and most recently Jacob Malkoun.

Di Chirico is a good grappler who has a chin and great strikes too, while Alhassan is as one-dimensional as they come. He has a boulder of a right hand in the opening minutes but once that fades, so does he and he tends to get dominated. Di Chirico has never been stopped by strikes despite being in there against bigger guys and hard hitters too and should he avoid the initial explosion, he has all the skills to dominate this fight.

Alhassan is moving up to middleweight so he will naturally be the smaller man and that only plays more into Di Chirico’s hands, so I think he’ll be able to score the win in this one.
PICK – Alessio Di Chirico via Decision

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.

PRELIMS

Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Prelims predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here lets move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Movsar Evloev (14-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight between the undefeated Evloev against the impressive Dawodu. Evloev got wins at UFC Fight Island 3 over Mike Grundy and UFC 257 against Nick Lentz via decision, while Dawodu is on a five-fight win streak himself including a split decision over Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 253.

Evloev is among the elite wrestlers in the UFC, who will take you down and hold you down for as long as he wants to beat you up on your back. Dawodu on the other hand is a striker with good power, but he has a mean leg kick and a tight front guillotine too. While those kicks will be key to his path to victory, they also give Evloev a constant chance to catch them and take him down and that’s a big problem.

Overall, Evloev’s wrestling is just too good for Dawodu and he should be able to beat him up for 15 minutes for a wide win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Lauren Murphy (14-4) vs Joanne Calderwood (15-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two UFC veterans go head-to-head in the women’s flyweight division here to break into the title conversation once again. Murphy has won four-in-a-row, with a decision over Roxanne Modafferi at UFC Vegas 3 before a submission win over Lillya Shakirova at UFC 254. Calderwood went 1-1 in 2020, losing to Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5 before beating Jessica Eye at UFC 257.

Murphy is a terrific striker, with her clinch game among the best of the rest in the division outside of the champion. She uses her long limbs well and loves to land an elbow, while Calderwood is a decent striker in her own right but she has wrestling to fall on too. Calderwood is arguably the better striker, but Murphy has more tools in her belt to push for a win.

She’s got striking, grappling and size and I think this win sets her up for a title fight.
PICK – Lauren Murphy via Decision

Eryk Anders (13-5 1NC) vs Darren Stewart (12-6 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The UK’s Darren Stewart makes a return to the octagon after a mixed 2020 when he takes on Eryk Anders looking to get back on track. Stewart went 1-2 last year losing to Bartosz Fabinski on a Cage Warriors card after UFC London got cancelled, before submitting Maki Pitolo in the first round at UFC Vegas 6 and losing a split decision to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11. Anders has lost four of his last six, most recently to Krzysztof Jotko in May before missing weight in November. These two fought each other in March at UFC Vegas 21, but it was a no contest after an illegal knee from Anders.

Both guys are quite well rounded all over the mixed martial arts world, but Anders seems to struggle under pressure. Stewart seems super confident in his chin and that means he’s happy to walk forward and he’s certainly more active. I think he has the physicality advantage too and with good submission skills and good power he will be confident. Anders showed that he has the power to hurt Stewart though in their first bout and that could lead to a more wrestle heavy approach from Stewart.

Ultimately, ‘The Dentist’ runs it back and snaps a two-fight winless run.
PICK – Darren Stewart via Decision

Drew Dober (23-10) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A truly brilliant fight for the feature prelim bout as Dober and Riddell meet in a striker’s paradise type fight here. Dober was on a three-fight win streak before taking a short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev and getting choked out at UFC 259, while Riddell got a win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253 before a fight with Gregor GIllespie fell through in March.

Dober is a terrific boxer with good leg kicks and a great gas tank, with plenty of power in his right cross. Riddell on the other hand is a world class kickboxer with power in all his limbs and joints, while his footwork often opens up new angles for him to strike. Both guys are durable and skilled with power too.

Riddell sometimes starts slowly, but his experience in a purely stand-up battle tells me he has the edge here. Neither guy will need to prepare for takedowns and when it comes to just pure striking, there aren’t many 155lbers better at it than Riddell.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 21: Edwards vs Muhammad – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Matthew Semelsberger def Jason Witt via Knockout, Round 1 (0:16)

HOLY JESUS. Matthew Semelsberger lands a bomb of a right hand after 16 seconds and puts Witt out cold. Goodnight.

Jinh Yu Frey def Gloria De Paula via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Frey comes out with a nice left hand before the two ladies clinch and Frey gets an early takedown. De Paula threatens with an armbar from the bottom but Frey defends well and lands a few nice strikes from top position before a scramble allows her to take De Paula’s back. De Paula defends it well and is able to bring it back to full guard, before landing a couple of elbows from the bottom. Frey controlling the position with ease at the moment from the top although not much action from either fighter as we head into the final 90 seconds. Frey controls the position for the remainder of the round too as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Frey.

Slower start to the round from both women in this one as Frey lands a couple of nice left hands in exchanges. De Paula lands a few leg kicks from distance then goes up top with a nice head kick that lands clean. Frey continues to come forward to close the distance but De Paula doing well to get in and out quickly. De Paula in control of the exchanges on the feet halfway through the round and being first in the exchanges every time. Frey closes the distance and gets a clinch against the cage, but De Paula lands some nasty knees to the body and they separate. De Paula takes the centre now and is landing clean and fast into the final minute. Frey catches a kick but De Paula keeps her balance excellently to deny the takedown and should win the round. 19-19 going into the third.

De Paula comes out and throws her hands quickly once again, then has a kick caught and Frey sweeps her other foot away and gets an early takedown once again. Frey passes into half guard but De Paula threatens with a kimura grip, which allows Frey to pass into mount. De Paula tries to explode out but Frey takes the back and looks to sink in a rear naked choke. Frey staying composed on the back of De Paula who isn’t looking to get back to her feet at all as we enter the final minute. Frey gets the arm under the chin and tries for a one-armed choke but De Paula does really well to defend it and see the round out. Clear 29-28 win for Frey.

JJ Aldrich def Cortney Casey via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Aldrich takes the centre of the cage early on and has Casey circling the outside for the first 40-odd seconds before she engages in a clinch against the cage. Casey is able to stay strong and Aldrich separates, a big boost for Casey. Aldrich landing lots of leg kicks early on but Casey retaliates with some nice knees and a right hook as they clinch up once again. Casey charges forward once again with a flurry but Aldrich shoots and gets the takedown. Casey tries to threaten with a triangle and while Aldrich defends it will and lands a bit of ground and pound, Casey gets back to her feet. Aldrich gets it down again with a guillotine attempt in the final 30 seconds but Casey defends well and sees out the round. 10-9 Casey for me.

Casey looks stronger on the feet so far and she lands a big right hand that wobbles Aldrich! Casey follows it up with a head kick attempt that Aldrich catches and then Casey tries to jump on the back but ends up on the ground with Aldrich on top of her. Casey landing some nice strikes from the bottom but Aldrich now has wrist control after eating those shots and starts landing some huge ground and pound strikes with her left hand. Casey works her way back up to her feet against the cage with 90 seconds to go and throws two big right hooks that are blocked. Aldrich throws a right hook and then shoots in for another takedown with 20 seconds to go and gets it to end the round on top. 19-19 for me.

Final round and Aldrich comes forward again to get Casey backing up and she lands a nice one-two. Aldrich continues to push forward but Casey lands a couple of jabs nicely too. Big right hook and left straight from Casey lands and rocks Aldrich’s head back. A big exchange from the two sees them both landing well as we hit the halfway point. Aldrich lands a jab and then Casey turns away to move and Aldrich throws a big left straight down the pipe. Casey throws a hook that just misses and then Aldrich changes levels with a beautiful takedown. Casey gets back to her feet against the cage but Aldrich maintains a body lock until Casey is able to break the grip and separate. Casey comes forward with flurries again and is landing hard shots. Spinning back kick from Aldrich lands in Casey’s nether-regions and the referee pauses the fight with three seconds to go. Super close round, I’ve got it 29-28 Aldrich just.

PRELIMS

Nasrat Haqparast def Rafa Garcia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Good start to the round for the debutant as Garcia takes the centre of the octagon and starts looking to land strikes through the guard of Haqparast. Lots of feelers and blocked strikes from both as Haqparast throws a very heavy left hand that that is partially blocked too. Garcia shoots in for a takedown against the cage but Haqparast denies him, but Garcia lands a nice knee to the body on the break. Garcia fakes a takedown and throws a huge overhand right that lands flush and wobbles Haqparast, but he recovers quickly and keeps going. Great rip to the body from Haqparast but Garcia backs him against the cage and throws a nice elbow that just misses too. Garcia goes for two more takedowns against the cage but they get stuffed well too as the round ends. 10-9 Garcia but it’s a close round.

Garcia comes out quickly in the second round once again and puts the pressure on against the cage well. Garcia lands a couple of nice hooks but Haqparast stays composed and starts digging to the body with some great punches. Nice elbow from Haqparast lands and Garcia comes forward with a right hand of his own. Haqparast lands two nice left hands and Garcia charges forward again with jabs and front kicks to the body. Haqparast denies a takedown attempt and then lands a left hand, before throwing Garcia to the floor with a judo throw. Great uppercut lands from Haqparast but Garcia continues to walk forward with jabs, before Haqparast lands a big body kick too. Big front kick to the body again from Haqparast who denies another takedown on the buzzer. 19-19 for me, but could be 20-18 Haqparast.

Garcia looks a bit slower in this final round but is still coming forward with intensity. Haqparast has started finding his timing now though and lands a great elbow followed by an uppercut and hook that land clean. Another elbow and uppercut from Haqparast lands as Garcia continues to come forward, but Haqparast throwing body kicks hard that are slowing Garcia down more and more. Straight left lands against for Haqparast as Garcia is bleeding now and getting picked apart on the feet. Garcia lands a nice right hand as we enter the final minute of the round and they exchange kicks. Big head kick from Haqparast twice lands but he doesn’t get the finish as the round ends. 29-27 for me.

Rani Yahya def Ray Rodriguez via Submission (Head and Arm Choke), Round 2 (3:09)

Fast start as Rodriguez goes for a head kick off the bat and then lands a straight right in an exchange, but Yahya goes straight for a body lock looking for a takedown and eventually gets it. Yahya with heavy top pressure, landing some nice ground and pound but really just trying to maintain position from half guard. Yahya looking to move into side control with great shoulder pressure but abandons it after decent defence from Rodriguez. Final minute now and Rodriguez manages to get into full guard for a few seconds before Yahya looks to lock up a head and arm choke with 20 seconds left but Rodriguez defends well and survives the round. 10-9 Yahya, easily.

Rodriguez opens the second round with some nice boxing once again, keeping a distance and doing well but he backs up to the cage and Yahya gets another takedown at the first attempt once again. Straight back into half guard once again and Yahya starts threatening with the head and arm choke early on. Rodriguez tries to explode up with the butterfly guard but Yahya jumps over it, gets back into half guard and passes to the other side. He sinks in the head and arm choke and forces Rodriguez to tap. Beautiful performance from Yahya.

Charles Jourdain def Marcelo Rojo via Knockout, Round 3 (4:31)

Fun start to the first round as both men trade hard kicks to begin, with Jourdain throwing lots of head kicks. Rojo throws a right hook that misses and then they clinch, with both men landing nice knees before Jourdain separates. Nice left hand from Rojo looking to counter but just misses, then Jourdain lands a nice uppercut in the clinch. Rojo throwing lots of knees in the clinch towards the face, but they’re not quite landing yet. Rojo lands a leg kick that drops Jourdain, then lands a one-two as Jourdain gets back to his feet. Very even round as we head into the final 90 seconds and Rojo throws a nice flurry that lands nicely before looking to rip Jourdain’s body with a left hook. Jourdain retaliates with nice body shots in the clinch before the round ends. 10-9 Rojo for me but genuinely could go either way.

Rojo comes out hard in the second round and throwing some hard shots and combinations that either graze or just miss Jourdain. Strong leg kick is responded to by Jourdain with a great jab, who then lands a big right hook. A close exchange sees Jourdain accidentally eye-poke Rojo which forces a pause in the action but they get back to it quickly with flurries. Jourdain catches a kick and lands a big body shot and right hook, before Rojo charges forward and lands a big three-punch combo to the head, followed by a knee and body shot. Clinch against the cage is a stalemate and Rojo looks for a spinning elbow on the break. Snappy jab from Jourdain lands flush but Rojo continues to come forward and just misses with that big knee again. Jourdain eats some big leg kicks and responds with a huge flying knee that lands! He lands a couple of big hooks too with Rojo rocked but he survives the round. Another close one, 19-19 for me.

Fast start for Jourdain in this final round as he comes forward and puts the pressure on Rojo immediately, landing his left hand a lot. Rojo is considerably slower now and Jourdain is picking him apart, then lands a huge left hand down the middle that drops him! Jourdain jumps on him and looks for the ground and pound finish, then runs and jumps off the cage to continue the strikes. Heavy shots on the ground but Rojo is tiring and Jourdain is landing big. Jourdain lets Rojo back up and they start throwing haymakers against each other looking for a finish. Jourdain keeps pounding away and lands another left hand that drops Rojo and the referee ends it! What a performance!

Angela Hill def Ashley Yoder via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Competitive start to the fight with Hill looking to land straight rights and Yoder landing some nice kicks so far. Hill has the centre of the cage and is feinting the body shots, then shoots in against the cage for a clinch. Hill lands some nice knees before Yoder looks for a head and arm throw but it’s well defended by Hill. Hill responds with a huge elbow and then goes back to the clinch before they separate with about 90 seconds to go in the round. Hill controlling the range right now and landing shots freely and has a big speed advantage to get in and out, avoiding the attacks of Yoder. Hill steps in with a front kick to the body then lands three huge overhand rights that rock Yoder! She goes for a finish and takes Yoder down but she recovers enough to see out the round. 10-9 Hill.

More of the same in this second round as Hill takes the centre and looks to land body kicks and overhand rights. Yoder can’t get close enough for the takedown and is getting picked apart on the feet. Hill lands a big straight right hand once again that snaps Yoder’s head back and she’s in total control right now. Hill goes for a clinch and lands some nice knees to the body, with Yoder starting to slow down a bit. Hill lands more right hands and now is chopping down the legs of Yoder. Big knee to the body followed by a kick and Yoder is hurting. Flurry of punches to the head and Yoder is surviving right now, then Hill goes for a knee to the body and Yoder catches it and secures a takedown to end the round on top. 20-18 Hill.

Yoder comes out like a bull in a china shop looking to close the distance and get a takedown but Hill immediately out-muscles her, clinches up and starts landing big knees to the body against the cage. Hill just too strong physically for Yoder and completely dominating the position and pace of the fight. Big punch to the body again from Hill before another clinch and some more nasty Muay Thai knees to the body allow Yoder to overpower her onto the floor. Yoder controls the position from the top and is fighting Hill well, but Hill is too strong and gets back to the feet and lands more knees again. Round comes to an end with Hill landing two big right hands to take a wide decision. Great performance. 30-27 Hill.

MAIN CARD

Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart – NO CONTEST (Illegal knee)

Lots of feelers being put out by both guys early on with feints and flicks before Stewart lands a nice left hand. A good exchange between the two and it’s Stewart who comes out on top once again, as he starts showboating a little. Anders shoots in for a takedown but Stewart does well to defend it and the battle in the clinch. Stewart lands some good knees but then Anders lands a huge left hand that rocks him! Anders lands some huge punches and drops Stewart but the Brit continues to fight back. Anders throws an illegal knee (d’oh!) against the cage and the referee stops the fight. Stewart tries to continue but the doctor calls the fight off. No contest called.

Matheus Nicolau def Manel Kape via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Fun start to the fight as both men look to feint early. Nicolau lands an immediate leg kick that hurts Kape but he continues to come forward with jabs and leg kicks of his own. Nicolau being more explosive and faster right now and Kape falling into the same trap as his first fight by being not active enough. Nicolau gets a takedown and Kape is able to work his way back to the feet and slip out of a guillotine attempt. Nicolau gets another takedown and ends the round on top. 10-9 Nicolau.

Second round and Kape comes out with more urgency this time. Big left uppercut lands and rocks Nicolau early! He follows it up with a couple of other shots and when he’s landing he’s hurting Nicolau. He stuffs a takedown attempt and comes forward again, but this time Nicolau lands a big hook of his own. Kape lands a leg kick and then a knee followed by a right hand that lands flush. Kape walking Nicolau down against the cage and letting strikes flow but Nicolau shoots for a power double across the cage and gets him down, but Kape bounces straight back up. Nicolau tries to launch forward with a left hand but misses and Kape counters with a right hook. 19-19, much better.

Kape takes the centre in the third round and is letting his hands go again. Kape throws a nice leg kick but Nicolau throws a nice left hand that lands on the forehead. Kape stings him with a nice jab and then lands a nice counter right hook again. Nicolau goes for a takedown but Kape stuffs it brilliantly and stands back up immediately. Nicolau gets back up and drops Kape with a leg kick and starts landing with a lot of volume. Big hooks and straight land but Kape replies with a right hook well. Final minute and Kape throws a head kick then follows it up with a left hook. He stuffs two takedown attempts brilliantly and is throwing big combinations too. Huge flying knee lands from Kape and then he follows it up with another to the body! Nicolau lands a spinning back elbow as the round ends! Super close round but I think Kape edges it. 29-28.

Davey Grant def Jonathan Martinez via Knockout, Round 2 (3:03)

Good start to the round from Grant as he comes forward well and applies pressure with lots of strikes and kicks. Martinez happy to stand and trade with him and throws an excellent leg kick to hurt Grant. Grant continues with spinning kick attacks and high kicks but Martinez is countering really well with his fast hands. Grant with a switch step and a big right hook but it’s well blocked by Martinez. Big leg kick from Martinez again but Grant keeping the pressure on with kicks from range and heavy hooks. Huge left hook from Martinez lands on the chin and Grant gets dropped! Martinez looks to land some ground and pound but the round ends and allows Grant a chance to recover. 10-9 Martinez.

Grant comes out nice and aggressive in the second round and continues to chop away at the leg, before Grant lands a right hand on the chin. Grant continues to come forward with flurries and then shoots in for a takedown but Martinez defends it brilliantly. Grant lands another right hand and is throwing combinations now just to touch him and is stopping Martinez from throwing anything significant because of the pace. Grant throws a body shot and left hook and Martinez is OUT!! Grant follows it up with an extra shot but it’s all over! Wow!

Dan Ige def Gavin Tucker via Knockout, Round 1 (0:22)

DAN IGE!!! ONE PUNCH KNOCKOUT!! HOLY COW!

Ryan Spann def Misha Cirkunov via Knockout, Round 1 (1:11)

Fast start to the round from both fighters as they exchange jabs and kicks, as Cirkunov lands a low blow by accident after 30 seconds. A short pause and they get to it again and Spann lands a straight right hand that drops Cirkunov! He goes for the ground and pound but Cirkunov kicks him off and so Spann makes him get back to the feet. Spann stays calm and then lands a big punch on the side of the head that drops him again and after some ground and pound the referee waves it off! Huge KO for Ryan Spann!

Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad – NO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)

Tentative start to the fight as Edwards takes the centre of the cage and forces Muhammad backwards immediately, landing a body kick and following up with a big one two. Edwards goes for a takedown against the cage but Muhammad clinches up and reverses the position well before they separate. Edwards throws a head kick and wobbles Muhammad! Edwards throws some wild hooks but Muhammad blocks them all and then Edwards shoots for a takedown but once again it’s denied well by Belal. Body kick from Muhammad lands nicely but it’s Edwards pushing the pace and pressuring forwards. Big one-two from Edwards lands again and wobbles Muhammad before the buzzer goes to end the round. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round starts and both guys are aggressive early on. Edwards goes to throw a head kick and his hand accidentally pokes Muhammad in the eye as it lands. Muhammad goes down screaming and crying, saying he can’t see anything. Herb Dean waves the fight off almost immediately and it’s another no contest.

UFC Vegas 21: Edwards vs Muhammad – Main card predictions

It’s finally a Leon Edwards fight week! After almost two years away from the cage for several reasons, the Briton returns to the octagon to take on short-notice opponent Belal Muhammad in the main event.

Edwards has been promised a title shot with a big performance and knows that just winning isn’t enough, while Muhammad will be keen to show he does belong in there and isn’t just a late replacement.

Elsewhere on the card former RIZIN champion Manel Kape looks to avenge his disappointing debut with a quick turnaround against Matheus Nicolau in the flyweight division.

Last weekend at UFC 259 we managed to go 10/15 on our predictions with four perfect picks to take our total up to 250/395 (63.29%) with 112 perfect picks (44.8%).

We will look to improve that further with this 13 fight card and having already predicted the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, lets move onto the main card.


Eryk Anders (13-5) vs Darren Stewart (12-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The UK’s Darren Stewart makes a return to the octagon after a mixed 2020 when he takes on Eryk Anders looking to get back on track. Stewart went 1-2 last year, losing to Bartosz Fabinski on a Cage Warriors card after UFC London got cancelled before submitting Maki Pitolo in the first round at UFC Vegas 6 and losing a split decision to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11. Anders has lost four of his last six, most recently to Krzysztof Jotko in May before missing weight in November.

Both guys are quite well rounded all over the mixed martial arts world, but Anders seems to struggle under pressure. Stewart seems super confident in his chin and that means he’s happy to walk forward and he’s certainly more active. I think he has the physicality advantage too and with good submission skills and a power advantage, I think Stewart does enough to start 2021 off the right way.
PICK – Darren Stewart via Decision

Manel Kape (15-5) vs Matheus Nicolau (15-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

After a disappointing UFC debut, Manel Kape makes the quick turnaround to take on Matheus Nicolau in the flyweight division on short notice. Kape fought Alexandre Pantoja at UFC Vegas 18 but hesitancy to throw shots saw him miss out on a decision that was there for the taking, while Nicolau has won his last two and makes his UFC return after two fights away from the promotion.

Kape is an explosive fighter with great power and tremendous speed, who has pretty good takedown defence too. Nicolau loves to push the pace and come forward with pressure, throwing leg kicks really well. He’s a fairly hittable fighter though, which doesn’t stand him in good stead against the power of Kape. While offensively he’s solid, defensively he has plenty of lapses and Kape is the better overall fighter in this bout. Without having too much wrestling to worry about, Kape should be able to be more free-flowing in his attacks and I think he could get the stoppage win.
PICK – Manel Kape via Knockout, Round 2

Jonathan Martinez (13-3) vs Davey Grant (12-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Two fighters in the bantamweight division look to make it three wins in a row in this one as the impressive Martinez takes on grappler extraordinaire Davey Grant. Martinez’s wins came in a a two month window, KO’ing Frankie Saenz at UFC Vegas 5 before beating Thomas Almeida to a decision at UFC Fight Island 6. Grant beat Grigory Popov in November 2019 before knocking out Martin Day in the third round at UFC 251.

Grant has a fantastic ground game as his eight submission wins show, but he’s recently started backing that up with a wild-brawling style to set those takedowns up to get it down. Martinez however is a better, more powerful striker than Grant and has supplemented his striking style with some really improved takedown defence. Grant is 35 now and his durability won’t last forever against younger, stronger, more powerful strikers and this is one of those fights. While I don’t think Martinez quite has the power to put Grant’s lights out, he should clinically out-strike him for a wide decision win.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Decision

Dan Ige (14-3) vs Gavin Tucker (13-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

‘Dynamite’ Dan Ige returns to the octagon for the first time since July 2020 as he takes on the prospect that is Gavin Tucker in the featherweight division. Ige was on a six-fight tear before running into Calvin Kattar on Fight Island, being beaten up for five rounds in a defeat last time out. Tucker on the other hand has won his last three in a row, submitting Justin Jaynes at UFC Vegas 6 before beating Billy Quarantillo in a decision at UFC 256.

Ige is a pressure fighter who loves to box and throw excellent combinations, although his power isn’t among the top of his attributes. Tucker on the other hand is also a good boxer but he relies more on his wrestling and top position in fights. Both guys are pretty well rounded and while Ige is definitely beatable and has clear flaws to his game, he is a better version of Tucker. He’s the better wrestler, better striker and neither have great knockout power so I expect Ige to use his experience to grind out a decision win.
PICK – Dan Ige via Decision

Misha Cirkunov (15-5) vs Ryan Spann (18-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The big boys of the card square off in the co-main event in the light heavyweight division. Cirkunov has lost three of his last five and hasn’t fought since a win over Jimmy Crute back in 2019, while Spann was on an eight-fight win streak before getting KO’d by Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 11.

Cirkunov is one of the best grapplers in the division, with eight submission wins in his career including each of his last five wins. Spann is also a grappler with great submission skills with 11 wins via tap-out in his career but there are levels to this ground game in MMA. Cirkunov is the smaller fighter in this fight but he’s so powerful and knows exactly how to place his weight to keep you wherever he wants you. Neither are the best strikers so I expect Cirkunov to show his skill in the ground game and dominate from start to finish with top control.
PICK – Misha Cirkunov via Decision

Leon Edwards (18-3) vs Belal Muhammad (18-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A welterweight main event as Leon Edwards finally returns to the octagon to take on a short-notice opponent in ‘Bully’ Belal Muhammad. Edwards is on an eight-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since beating Rafael Dos Anjos in July 2019 after fights with Tyron Woodley and Khamzat Chimaev x3 fell through. Muhammad is now on a four-fight win streak after a win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258 just a few weeks ago.

Edwards is a super-fit and well rounded fighter, with great boxing to set up his fantastic wrestling and top control game. Muhammad is a very similar fighter in that sense, but he’s never been able to show it against the calibre of fighter that Edwards has done in the past. Muhammad had some problems with the leg kicks that Lima gave him in those fights and it’s a path that Edwards could look to expose to make takedowns a bit easier as both fighters will look to take the centre and control positions. Edwards will throw elbows in the clinch and as Muhammad tries to close the distance which will give Edwards the edge and he should win this one pretty comfortably, although a finish is unlikely on either side.
PICK – Leon Edwards via Decision

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Tyson Nam def Jerome Rivera via Knockout, Round 2 (0:34)

A competitive opening round of the night between these two flyweights. Rivera staying at distance for the most part of the round, using heavy inside leg kicks and push kicks to maintain the range while Nam is looking for a big right hand. Nam forcing Rivera against the cage to land a big overhand right but Rivera doing well with his footwork to avoid it for the most part. A solid round that Rivera edges. 10-9 Rivera.

Second round starts and Rivera goes for another leg kick but Nam counters with a huge overhand right that drops Rivera! Some ground and pound is enough and the referee ends it. Big win for Nam!

Andre Ewell def Irwin Rivera via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Really competitive opening round again. Ewell opened up well landing some nice strikes and using his range really well. Rivera adjusts well to the range and starts countering the straight left with a big knee and lands one flush. Rivera shoots in for a takedown and Ewell stuffs it, then searches to take the back. He eventually gets it but Rivera reverses into his guard as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Ewell.

Another competitive round between these two as the pace slows a little bit and Ewell uses his range and superior striking well. Both men throwing one shot at a time for the most part but then Ewell starts ripping the body well. Rivera tries to counter with the same shots but Ewell uses his length to stay out of the distance and land more to take another round, but he’s tired. 20-18 Ewell.

Third round and Ewell using his range well yet again to stay out of distance and danger from Rivera. Nice jabs and kicks by Ewell keeps him active and lets him recover despite him looking tired but Rivera just not quite pushing the way he probably should be. Rivera lands his first takedown of the night with 10 seconds remaining but it should be a comfortable decision win for Ewell.

Randy Costa def Journey Newson via Knockout, Round 1 (0:41)

WOW! Randy Costa and Journey Newson begin the fight with a feeling out process, which ends with Randy Costa throwing a straight left-hand and following it up with a left high kick that knocks Newson out! A couple of follow up blows but this one is over. WOW!

PRELIMS

Darrick Minner def T.J Laramie via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (0:52)

Well that was quick. Minner locks up a clinch and then locks in a quick guillotine and it’s over just like that. Wow.

Jessica-Rose Clark def Sarah Alpar via Knockout, Round 3 (4:21)

Clark opens up the fight with some nice body kicks and strikes from distance, using her legs to keep Alpar’s inevitable takedown attempt away. Alpar throws a one-two and changes levels and shoots for the double leg but Clark defends it very well and after a long battle, it’s Clark who ends up in top position in side control. 10-9 Clark, great confidence boosting first round for her.

Better start to the round for Alpar as she secures two nice takedowns, but Clark gets back to her feet quickly both times. Clark lands a nice knee to the body in the clinch and reverses the position to put Alpar against the cage and then lands a big elbow on the break. Clark enters into a clinch exchange again and is physically just too strong for Alpar. She eventually gets the fight down herself and starts landing heavy ground and pound strikes but the buzzer likely saves Alpar. 20-18 Clark, Alpar needs a finish.

Clark comes out and starts landing big shots once again as Alpar goes for a takedown again. Clark lands big elbows and against the cage as Alpar seemingly sits down in the cage hurt she eats a huge knee to the nose and is hurt. The referee stops the fight believing the knee was illegal and Alpar receives treatment. The referee then discovers the knee was legal, meaning the fight should be stopped after use of instant replay, but he instead restarts the fight! Clark goes on the offence and absolutely batters Alpar for another two minutes before the referee finally ends the fight. Big win.

Mayra Bueno Silva def Mara Romero Borella via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (2:29)

Borella opens up the round by initiating a ground exchange so you know she’s a lunatic. She lands some nice ground and pound strikes but nothing damaging and Silva is looking to set things up the entire time. She throws up an armbar out of nowhere and gets the early tap-out for the win. Baffling decision by Borella.

Damon Jackson def Mirsad Bektic via Submission (Guillotine), Round 3 (1:21)

Bektic comes with an immediate one-two followed by a double leg. Lots of scrambles and positional changes but Bektic ends up on top and lands a big punch to the back of the head. The referee pauses the fight and stands the fighters up as punishment, but Bektic rocks Jackson as the fight resumes and gets the fight back down to the ground quickly. Jackson locks up a really deep kimura but Bektic doesn’t even think about tapping and instead just steps over and lands nice ground and pound strikes to break it. Bektic sees the round out with more ground and pound. 10-9 Bektic.

Fast start to the second round as Bektic opens up again with the takedown but Jackson does well to grab the neck and locks in a really tight guillotine. It’s in deep but Bektic fights it with body shots and eventually pops out and continues to dominate the grappling exchanges on the mat with raw strength. Bektic attempts for a guillotine of his own in the final minute of the round but Jackson reverses and lands some nice elbows on the ground to end the round. 20-18 Bektic.

Third round starts with Bektic engaging in a clinch yet again but this time Jackson ends up on top by grabbing for the guillotine again. He sweeps to end up on top and gets a mounted guillotine in deep. Bektic fights for a while, but Jackson is too good here and gets the tap. Huge win for Jackson!

David Dvorak def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A methodical opening round from both fighters as both men look to land leg kicks to slow their opponent down. Espinosa trying to move on the outside and Dvorak using good boxing to land some nice left hooks to counter. A few slips from Espinosa throughout but never really hurt, but I give the opening round to Dvorak for landing a bit more flush throughout and pushing the pace a bit more. 10-9 Dvorak.

More feeling out going on in this second round as Dvorak avoids the heavy right hand of Espinosa by continuing to throw leg kicks and left hooks. Espinosa is struggling with the left leg and is forced to switch stance repeatedly as he has to decide between landing the big right hand and eating more kicks to the leg. Dvorak staying aggressive and busy and takes the second round too. 20-18 Dvorak.

Dvorak comes out in the third with leg kicks on the brain yet again as Espinosa looks to counter. A quick clinch sees both men exchange in the pocket but Dvorak is landing heavier with the hands and on the leg kicks too. Dvorak has limited Espinosa’s movement with the kicks and is able to walk forward and close the distance better to land big hooks. Into the final minute and a heavy leg kick lands that wobbles Espinosa but that’s all and it should be a comfortable win for Dvorak. 30-27 Dvorak.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland def Darren Stewart via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A real fun first round in this middleweight fight. Holland and Stewart both come out throwing bombs early but nothing lands clean and they engage in a clinch against the cage. Stewart lands an inadvertant low blow which causes a pause in the action. Stewart eats two heavy shots from Holland but they both continue to feel each other out and exchange heavy blows. 10-9 Holland but it’s a close fight.

Early second round and Stewart rushes in and catches a kick and trips Holland to the ground. He attempts ground and pound but Holland defends well. Stewart gets to his feet with Holland still down and they exchange a few kicks before the referee stands them up. Holland goes for a takedown and Stewart grabs the neck for a guillotine but he can’t quite secure it so gets back to his feet and lands two big punches. Stewart throwing nice teep kicks to the lead leg of Holland before the two exchange in another clinch as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Holland.

Third round and both guys are coming looking for a finish. Stewart goes for another takedown and secures it but Holland gets up quickly before being dumped back down immediately afterwards. Holland goes for a kimura but can’t quite get it and they both get back to their feet. Holland beginning to tire now and shoots for a takedown but Stewart reverses and puts Holland on his back with 90 seconds to go. Big ground and pound for the rest of the round as both men trade verbals in the cage as the buzzer goes. 29-28 Holland for me.

Mackenzie Dern def Randa Markos via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:44)

The fight opens with a rush from Dern before she misses a head kick and ends up on her back. Markos engages on the ground and Dern quickly locks in a triangle but Dern is looking for an armbar. Markos is defending well but Dern sweeps into top position and keeps working transitions until she locks an armbar in deep! Markos refuses to tap but Dern adjusts slightly and it’s hard to watch but eventually Markos taps out. A grappling clinic from the Brazilian.

Johnny Walker def Ryan Spann via Knockout, Round 1 (2:43)

Walker comes out and explodes immediately which forces Spann straight into a takedown attempt. He gets Walker against the cage and both men clinch for a short while, throwing short knees to the thigh of one another. Walker separates and Spann lands a huge left hand that drops him! Spann goes for the finish but Walker escapes from full mount and gets back up. Both men land massive punches simultaneously that rock one another, but Spann rushes over looking for a takedown again. Walker starts landing big punches to the side of the head, before a massive elbow knocks Spann unconscious. A few more punches and the referee steps in to finish it. What a comeback win!

Khamzat Chimaev def Gerald Meerschaert via Knockout (0:17)

Chimaev comes out, throws a body kick then throws a straight right hand and knocks Meerschaert out cold. Goodnight.

Donald Cerrone vs Niko Price – Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28 x2)

A frantic pace to the start of this fight as Niko Price puts it on Cowboy early. Big strikes early on using his extra physicality to just walk forward and land heavy blows. Cerrone is stunned but surviving and comes back with some knees to the body. They go to clinch up and Price accidentally pokes Cerrone in the eye which causes a short break. They get back into it and Price lands a big one-two immediately that rocks Cerrone. He clinches up again and lands some nice knees but then Price pokes him in the eye again and the referee takes a point away! Round ends and what would be a Price round is now a tie. 9-9.

Second round is more even as both men look to go for steady combinations instead of those bombs. Price is visibly slower in this round but still has power, while Cerrone is finding a home for his jab. Cerrone getting in and out very well, but once again Price landing with a bit more power and a bit more volume to take the round but it could go either way. 19-18 Price for me.

Third and final round and the fight is up for grabs. Both men continue to walk forward on each other and land strikes but the pace is slowing and less power is in these strikes. ‘Cowboy’ steps forward and lads nice jabs, then lands a big head kick that Price just eats and continues to walk forward. The fight continues to go in the same direction as we enter the final 30 seconds, with Cerrone landing blows to a visibly tired Price. The round ends and I’ve got this as a draw. 28-28.

Colby Covington def Tyron Woodley via Knockout (Injury), Round 5 (1:19)

Woodley rushes out and takes the centre of the octagon as the two fighters exchange leg kicks. Woodley throws some jabs to establish distance then lets his right hand fly and Colby ducks under and blasts a double leg for a successful takedown. Woodley is patient and eventually makes his way back to the feet and separates. Colby has the centre now and throws a solid body kick and then a big right hook that lands clean before engaging in the clinch against the cage. Covington breaks away with a big elbow and an uppercut follows up but just misses. 10-9 Colby.

Woodley comes out with a nice right hand to open the round but once again Colby moves away and looks to engage in a clinch. Colby pushes forward and Woodley backtracks all the way to the cage constantly, as a defence mechanism to defend the inevitable takedown attempts. Flying knee attempt from Colby just misses and then another clinch. Every attack from either fighter leads to a clinch at the end of it, the respect for each other’s skillset is obvious. 20-18 Colby.

Third round opens up and Colby starts with an early eye poke that causes Woodley a lot of trouble. The fight pauses for almost two minutes but they get back into it as Woodley comes out with a nice combo attempt. Colby avoiding that power of Woodley and landing jabs before then engaging with a clinch against the cage. Woodley reverses the position momentarily but Colby then turns it back. Woodley visibly tiring against the cage as Colby lands annoying, point-scoring shots that don’t do much damage but will catch the eye of the judges. 30-27 Colby.

Into the main event rounds and Colby lands a beautiful body kick immediately before engaging in a takedown attempt. Woodley defends with a guillotine attempt but Colby pops out and puts Woodley down. In full guard and Colby is using the cage to try and prevent Woodley moving while landing some nice ground and pound to the body and head. A big elbow from Colby cuts Woodley open just below the eye and he’s landing a lot of volume on the ground, Woodley unable to get up but trying to defend himself. Colby continues with the ground and pound but Woodley survives the round. He needs a finish into the final round. 40-35 Colby.

Final round and Colby comes out with the same mentality to try and get the takedown. He lifts a high crotch against the cage but Woodley holds onto the neck. Suddenly, Woodley starts screaming in pain and the referee waves the fight off. Bizarre ending but the result is the same regardless.

UFC Vegas 11: Covington vs Woodley – Main Card Predictions

A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.

The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.

Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).

With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here and the rest of the prelims here, so now I’ll try my hand at the stacked main card to better last weeks attempts.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland (18-5) vs Darren Stewart (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

With so many contenders for fight of the night, this is another that stands out. Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart are making quick turnarounds after wins in their last bout. Holland knocked out Joaquin Buckley with a stunning punch in the third round last month, while Stewart secured a first round submission win over Maki Pitolo on the same card. Holland is a top level striker with good wrestling chops and has come into his own in recent months but has shown a propencity to showboat in the cage. Stewart is a powerful puncher who’s usual style is to sprawl-and-brawl, making himself very difficult to take down which allows him to open up his kickboxing game. With both guys preferring the stand-up game, it comes down to accuracy and power. Either fighter could knock the other out, but Holland is that little bit more dynamic and I think he should be able to get the win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs Randa Markos (10-8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

This will be a fight that will almost certainly take place on the ground if Mackenzie Dern has anything to do with it, but Markos may need to have other ideas. Both women have only ever stopped fights via submission but Markos has a wrestling advantage. Dern is a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion and holds a black belt, making her super dangerous no matter her position on the mat. After suffering her first defeat, she bounced back in her last bout with a kneebar submission win over Hannah Cifers back in May. Markos has alternated wins and losses over the last six years and lost her last fight to Amanda Ribas also. She would usually rely on top control to get a win but on the ground, she’s in danger in this bout. She will have to look to use striking to win this and while it’s not her usual path to victory, she has the edge on the feet. Dern’s takedowns aren’t good and her striking arsenal comprises of a looping hook and some wild overhands. Dern has the advantage on the ground which is where both women usually do their work, but she needs to get it there first.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

Johnny Walker (17-5) vs Ryan Spann (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight showdown where a one-time top prospect in Johnny Walker looks to get back to winning ways against another top prospect in Ryan Spann. Walker was on a wrecking path when he entered the UFC, with showreel knockout wins over Khalil Rountree, Just Ledet and Misha Cirkunov but he fell in to Corey Anderson in his biggest test via a first round knockout. His comeback fight in May against Nikita Krylov didn’t go his way either as he was held to a decision. Spann is on an eight-fight win streak including 4-0 in the UFC, with his latest win a split decision over Sam Alvey. Walker is an explosive kickboxer with vicious power and acrobatic ability while Spann is more of a boxer who uses his leg-kicks to set them up. Spann has severe cardio problems and we’ve seen Walker’s main issues come against those who are prepared to wrestle him. Anderson KO’d him simply because Walker wasn’t expecting anything other than takedown attempts, but he won’t have that issue with Spann. In a striking match, Walker should be able to land heavy blows for a knockout win as Spann begins to fade.
PICK – Johnny Walker via Knockout, Round 2

Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (31-13) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The hype train for Khamzat Chimaev returns to the APEX as he looks for his third UFC win against the biggest name he’s faced so far in Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev destroyed John Phillips at middleweight and Rhys McKee at welterweight in just 10 days last time around, while Meerschaert was knocked out by Ian Heinisch in his last fight back in June. Chimaev has shown in his last two fights that he will go straight for takedowns and dominate with relentless strikes until he gets the submission or the referee stops it, but Meerschaert is a black-belt and will be able to hold his own on the ground. He also has good power in his hands but he is most dangerous on the ground, as his 23 submission wins show. Chimaev is a skilled kickboxer though and will have no issues keeping the fight standing for a while and using his superior striking skills for the first time in his short UFC career. Despite the big jump in competition, Chimaev is so skilled and good at what he does that he should be able to get a mightily impressive win here. The UFC obviously think so too, having already booked him for a fight after this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 2

Donald Cerrone (36-15 1NC) vs Niko Price (14-4 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Cowboy’ Cerrone looks to ensure he doesn’t take the gatekeeper tag just yet as he looks to get into the win column after four straight defeats when he takes on Niko Price. Price is a knockout artist who is a natural 170lbs-er and that spells bad things for Cerrone. Both men throw great kickboxing combinations and while Cerrone is slightly better technically, Price’s extra power makes up for it. If Cerrone wants success he’ll need to use his footwork to get in and out quickly but Price has a three-inch reach advantage so will likely stay out of range. This is a fight where both men will employ similar tactics and it’s simply about who can outland the other. I think because of Price’s physicality advantage and power edge, he will be able to stay for the full three rounds and secure a big win.
PICK – Niko Price via Unanimous Decision

Colby Covington (15-2) vs Tyron Woodley (19-5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The grudge match of the year. A fight over two years in the making is finally among us as Colby Covington looks to get back into the win column following his title defeat in December last year while Woodley looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against his long time rival. Woodley’s style is usually to sprawl and brawl, with his huge power in his right hand his most trusted weapon. He’s failed to throw it with any real vim in his last two fights though as he was crushed by both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Covington is almost the worst possible match up for Woodley at this point. He has a suffocating wrestling style, much like Usman does, but he showed in that fight for the title last year that he has good striking too. His heavy hands caused damage to Usman and although he ultimately lost, he showed that he is the second best welterweight in the world. This fight is the type that ‘Chaos’ would have been dreaming of to get back into the picture – a big name, but past his best in the cage. Colby could go for a finish in this one just to make a statement, but I think he takes it the full 25 minutes for a dominant win.
PICK – Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision

UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Oleinik – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Irwin Rivera def Ali Al-Qaisi via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Fight pass issues mean I didn’t get to see this one in it’s entirety. The final minute of the second round and whole third round however were razor close and the commentators weren’t even sure about who won. Both fighters landed heavy punches, big kicks and were able to secure takedowns but it was ‘The Beast’ who got the nod from the judges.

Youssef Zalal def Peter Barrett via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Fun first round in the books as the Moroccan opens the fight with a low calf kick and follows it up with a huge spinning back kick that catches Barrett flush in the face and knocks him down. Zalal sprints over and lands a barrage of ground and pound trying to put him away. Barrett recovers though and uses his wrestling well, but Zalal is staying out of range and enjoying the striking exchanges. 10-9 Zalal.

A second round that is majority grappling as Zalal shows his skill level is just a notch above Barrett’s. A lovely throw from Zalal takes the fight to the ground and he immediately takes the back. The rest of the round is Zalal looking for a rear-naked choke but Barrett is very tough and avoids it throughout to get through to a third round. 20-18 Zalal.

Third round is excellent fight management from Zalal. He gets the fight back down to the ground and controls it once again staying out of danger and looking for chokes throughout. A comfortable win for the Moroccan Devil.

PRELIMS

Gavin Tucker def Justin Jaynes via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (1:43)

What a round! Both guys come out with a similar game plan to throw straight punches, high kicks and to control the octagon. It’s a razor close round and Jaynes lands a huge uppercut that drops Tucker. Jaynes runs in for some ground and pound but Tucker does well to survive before turning it around and getting back to his feet. A few more punches land from Jaynes before Tucker shoots for a single leg that Jaynes turns into a guillotine attempt. Tucker escapes, losing his shorts in the process, and manages to reverse the position to an arm-triangle choke! Jaynes survives the round still in the choke. 10-9 Tucker for me, despite the knockdown.

Second round seems like Tucker was woken up and angered by the knockdown in the first. He’s hunting Jaynes down and stalking him across the octagon, landing heavy punches and kicks. He’s mixing up strikes from head to body to legs and Jaynes is visibly tiring as the round goes on. A super round for Tucker that is unquestionably his. 20-18 for me.

Jaynes comes out swinging for the fences in the third but Tucker lands a beautiful knee that would have dropped Jaynes if not for the fence holding him up. Jaynes is wobbling and shoots for the takedown but Tucker sprawls well and turns a tired and hurt Jaynes over and takes his back. He locks in a body triangle, finds the rear-naked choke and secures the tap. Big win for Tucker.

Andrew Sanchez def Wellington Turman via Knockout, Round 1 (3:46)

Turman comes out aggressive in the first and looks to take Sanchez down immediately, tying him up in a clinch but ‘El Dirte’ defends well and keeps it on the feet. Both men start striking and landing some heavy blows, but Sanchez seems to be landing cleaner and harder shots. Turman goes for a head kick but Sanchez evades the kick and lands a lovely right cross counter that stuns Turman. He steps forward and lands a jab followed by another heavy right hand that drops Turman out cold. He follows up with two more hammer fists but the referee stops it immediately. Huge win for Andrew Sanchez.

Nasrat Haqparast def Alex Munoz via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A tense first round between these two lightweights that starts off with an immediate takedown from Munoz. Haqparast gets back up quickly and Munhoz lands a low blow against the cage as they clinch which causes a pause in the action. Following that though, Haqparast seems to go up a level with his striking. He starts landing a nice uppercut and hooks, while reading Munoz’s level changes well. Towards the end of the round Munoz starts to mix it up a bit more but Haqparast is comfortable and takes the round. 10-9.

Haqparast is turning up the heat in this second round. Heavy shots land and more stuffing of Munoz’s takedowns have him in complete control of this fight. There’s a clear speed and power advantage for Haqparast and he shows it with a big one-two that staggers Munoz! He presses forward for more shots but Munoz avoids flush strikes for a while and recovers. More damage lands and cuts open Munoz below his right eye and a clash of heads opens up a cut on Haqparast’s head too but it’s another round for Baby Gastelum. 20-18.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Haqparast out-boxing Munoz and allowing absolutely nothing in terms of takedowns from Munoz. He’s landing at will and cutting up the face of Munoz and not taking much damage himself. Round ends with Haqparast on the attack yet again and Munoz well and truly beaten. 30-27.

Kevin Holland def Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 3 (0:32)

Fireworks! Buckley has come to take Holland’s head off with huge hooks and Holland is looking for something spectacular too. Buckley is throwing big, powerful combinations to the body but Holland is looking to throw elbows whenever he gets inside. Buckley is loading up way too much and Holland is reading the shots easily now and lands a crisp right straight that drops Buckley! The debutant recovers quickly and gets back to his feet and the round ends. Holland’s round but Buckley is in this fight. 10-9.

An interesting second round, where Buckley was the aggressor but the reach disadvantage really stopped him landing anything significant. Holland wasn’t as active but ensured he countered successfully and probably landed the bigger shots of the round. 20-18 Holland but could go the other way.

Well…. that close round didn’t matter. Holland comes out in the third round and lands two body kicks, avoids a looping hook from Buckley, readjusts and then lands a sniper-like right straight that knocks the mouthpiece out of Buckley’s mouth and lands him a walk off knockout. What a punch, oh my goodness.

Tim Means def Laureano Staropoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Fight starts off with a fast pace and Means gets an early takedown. Staropoli jumps up to his feet quickly and the two start exchanging body shots as Means looks for the clinch and knees. Both fighters throwing similar shots and landing at a similar rate. A thumb to the eye from Means causes a short pause in the action but following that both guys get right back to it. Close round but I’m giving it to Means. 10-9.

Second round starts with a huge spinning elbow by Staropoli as Means runs in for a takedown. Means eats it though and holds on to a body lock to recover. More exchanges from both guys and Means lands a huge kick that drops Staropoli! He rushes in for the ground and pound to finish the fight but Staropoli defends well and recovers. Lots of body shots from Means as Staropoli is visibly beginning to tire now. Means closes the round out looking for a takedown against the cage before landing a heavy elbow. 20-18 Means for me.

Third round is excellent wrestling from Tim Means. The veteran used his wrestling well to keep the fight at a safe distance and had him up against the cage for a large portion of the round. The referee separated them at one point due to a fence grab but Means did well to land punches and then take it straight back. Excellent fight management. 30-27 Means for me.

MAIN CARD

Beneil Dariush def Scott Holtzman via Knockout, Round 1 (4:38)

Big body kick by Dariush opens the fight but almost immediately after Holtzman accidentally puts a thumb in his eye. They get back to it and Dariush lands a glancing low blow and then Holtzman with another eye poke, all within the first 60 seconds. Dariush now goes for a takedown against the cage but Holtzman reverses against puts Dariush against the cage. They engage in a clinch and Dariush lands a huge knee to the face. Dariush pushes forward looking for a finish but Holtzman recovers well. Dariush continues to push forward, throws a nice body kick then fakes the jab and lands a huge spinning back fist! Walk off knockout! Oh my God! Wow!

Yana Kunitskaya def Julija Stoliarenko via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Aggressive start from Stoliarenko but Kunitskaya turns it around and gets a clinch against the cage. She lands some nice knees to the body and is showing that he’s physically stronger right now. Stoliarenko attempts to pull guard with a guillotine but Kunitskaya defends well and gets the fight back into the previous position for the remainder of the round, landing knees and the odd punch. 10-9 Kunitskaya.

Second round starts off exactly as the last round ended, with Kunitskaya overpowering Stoliarenko and getting the fight to the cage in a clinch and landing knees. Stoliarenko is desperate to get this fight to the ground but Kunitskaya defending it perfectly and keeping the fight exactly where she wants it. Countless body shots with the knees really taking their toll on Stoliarenko and she pulls guard again. This time Kunitskaya stays there and lands a big elbow but Stoliarenko eats it and throws up her patented armbar. It’s closing to getting locked in but the cage position saves Kunitskaya and she manages to hold out for the end of the round. 20-18.

Third round goes straight back to the clinch exchange against the cage to open the round, but Stoliarenko manages to get it down to the mat much quicker this time around. She attempts to throw up a rubber guard but there’s just not enough space to do anything with it. Referee stands them up and it’s more of the same before the round and fight comes to an end. 30-27 Kunitskaya but it’s not a fight anyone will remember.

Darren Stewart def Maki Pitolo via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (3:41)

A tense start to the fight sees both men circling the octagon throwing out short combination punches but nobody really landing anything. Pitolo lands a nice right hand that seems to stun Stewart but he shakes it off and continues to come forward himself. Pitolo shoots for a single leg takedown but Stewart slides an arm under the chin and locks in a guillotine choke. He adjusts the grip to tighten it up and secures the tap. Huge win for The Dentist!

Chris Weidman def Omari Akhmedov via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)

Weidman comes out bouncing on his toes before shooting immediately for a takedown. Akhmedov avoids the first few attempts but Weidman relenteless in his search. Akhmedov lands a nice right straight that stuns Weidman, but he recovers well and goes back to his search for the takedowns. Akhmedov shoots for his own takedown but Weidman holds him down and eventually ends up in top position, controlling but not landing much damage. 10-9 Weidman.

Second round starts with Akhmedov landing a takedown of his own. He hits some nice ground and pound but Weidman gets back to his feet and now it’s almost a complete reverse of the first round. Akhmedov is getting more and more aggressive and persistent with his takedown attempts and Weidman is exhausted. Akhmedov lands more takedowns but Weidman is getting up pretty quickly. 19-19 going into the third in a stalemate of a fight.

Round 3 and Weidman flies out for the takedown to open the round. He drives Akhmedov against the cage, before a beautiful trip gets Weidman into a dominant position. Weidman attempts for a variation of a ‘Suliev Stretch’ but it’s not quite working so he transitions himself to the back and then into full mount. He attempts for an arm triangle but doesn’t quite have the squeeze so starts dropping big elbows to close out the round. 29-28 Weidman for me.

Derrick Lewis def Alexei Oleinik via Knockout, Round 2 (0:21)

Lewis starts the fight with a high kick and starts throwing bombs. Oleinik weathers the storm and engages the clinch, but Lewis literally throws him to the ground and goes for ground and pound strikes. Oleinik does well to ride it out and takes control on the ground, reversing positions and dominating the grappling. Oleinik attempts to go for a scarf-hold but while he’s not close to securing a tap he’s definitely making Lewis uncomfortable. The round ends with Oleinik very close to securing a key-lock submission. 10-9 Oleinik.

Second round starts and Lewis charges out with a flying knee to the chest and huge right hand! Oleinik falls and Lewis pounces with the ground and pound for the finish. 3 wins in a row for The Black Beast.

UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Oleinik – Main Card Predictions

A bizarre UFC card last weekend saw just 8 fights take place after a number of withdrawals in the build-up, including one on the night.

We’ll be looking for a more action-packed card this time around when Derrick Lewis meets Alexei Oleinik in the main event in the heavyweight division. Prior to the headliner though, there are 11 other fights scheduled for the card including seven on the prelims and five on the main card.

I got 5/8 picks right last weekend with 2/5 being completely correct (winner, round, method). Not the best but in a card that got chopped up so much in the build-up I’m not too worried overall. Hopefully I can do better this time around though. I have already made my picks for the prelims here, so lets break down the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Beneil Dariush (18-4-1) vs Scott Holtzmann (14-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A four-fight win streak for Dariush has seen him finish his last three opponents in a row and is now matched up with Holtzmann who has won two in a row but is entering the twilight of his career now at 36 years old. Dariush is largely a ground grappler, he’ll wrestle you down and then with his top control wear you down and submit you, while Holtzmann is a power puncher who looks to set up his hard punches with exchanges in the pocket. Dariush’s biggest flaw though is his durability against power punches, which opens up the possibility of a shock in this bout. ‘Hot Sauce’ will need to avoid being taken down early or he could be in trouble since he has big issues with getting up off his back. If he can avoid that then he has a chance, but in reality I don’t think he can avoid it.
PICK – Beneil Dariush via Submission, Round 1

Yana Kunitskaya (12-5) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-4-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The reincarnation of Ronda Rousey has arrived in the UFC as Julija Stoliarenko makes her debut against former featherweight title challenger Yana Kunitskaya. Stoliarenko has 9 professional wins, with 8 by submission and all of those by armbar. Kunitskaya took on Cyborg in her debut but since moving back to her natural weight class has been more impressive, winning two in a row before being KO’d by Aspen Ladd in her last fight. Stoliarenko is a brown-belt in jiu-jitsu but also a Lethwei champion, meaning she absolutely knows how to strike. Kunitskaya is a world class kickboxer though and will be by far and away the best fighter that Stoliarenko has ever come up against. It’s because of that gap in competition that I think ‘Foxy’ will be able to get the win using her superior striking ability to maintain distance and out-point her opponent.
PICK – Yana Kunitskaya via Unanimous Decision

Darren Stewart (11-5) vs Maki Pitolo (13-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

London born and bred, Stewart returns to the Octagon for the first time since his defeat to Bartosz Fabinski back in March on a Cage Warriors card following UFC London’s cancellation. Maki Pitolo has won four of his last five fights with all coming via finishes. Stewart is a straight up knockout artist, but his UFC record is poor at 4-5-1 since his debut in 2016. Both men like to exchange at close distance, with Pitolo loving to rip body shots while Stewart prefers to use the point of his elbow to punish his opponents. Overall, this fight will be about who is more durable and considering Stewart has never been KO’d before I think he’ll be able to take the win.
PICK – Darren Stewart via Knockout, Round 2

Chris Weidman (14-5) vs Omari Akhmedov (20-4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman is desperate to snap his losing run as he has lost five of his last 6 bouts coming into this, being knocked out every time. Akhmedov is unbeaten in his last six fights, after beating Ian Heinisch in his last outing. All of his those fights have gone the distance and I can’t see this one ending early either. Weidman is a world class wrestler with legit jiu-jitsu skills and heavy hands but his confidence has truly suffered since losing his world title back in 2015. He tried to move up to light-heavyweight most recently but was knocked out in the first round by Dominick Reyes and has now come back down to his natural weight class for this bout. Akhmedov is a good all-round fighter but Weidman should be able to get him down and keep him there with grinding ground-and-pound to snap his run and get back in the win column.
PICK – Chris Weidman via Unanimous Decision

Derrick Lewis (23-7) vs Alexei Oleinik (59-13-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Knockout artist vs submission expert. This is a war about whether or not someone can get the fight where they want it to be. Lewis has won 18 of his 23 victories via knockout, while Oleinik has 46 submission wins from 59 wins. Oleinik has a grinding style where he marches forward with a not-so-great guard as he usually eats punches on his way in for a clinch and takedown. If he does that against Lewis, he’s getting knocked out. In fairness, I think he’s getting knocked out regardless but he definitely has a path to victory in this fight. His grappling skills are among the best in the UFC and he’s dangerous from top or bottom position. If he tries to set up submissions from the bottom though, Lewis has a nasty ground and pound game that could put to an end any plans Oleinik has. Overall, Lewis’ path to victory via knockout is far wider than Oleinik’s via submission and that’s the reason for my pick.
PICK – Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2