Misha Cirkunov (15-8) vs Alonzo Menifield (12-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Big boys open up the main card. Cirkunov has lost four of his last five fights, being finished in three of them. He got KO’d by Johnny Walker at UFC 235, before submitting Jimmy Crute later in 2019. Since then though he got KO’d in 71 seconds by Ryan Spann at UFC Vegas 21, before dropping a decision to Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Vegas 38 and then being submitted by Wellington Turman 89 seconds into the second round. Menifield has won three of his last four, submitting Fabio Cherant at UFC 260 and dominating Ed Herman at UFC 265 before losing to William Knight at UFC Vegas 44. He returned to the win column in June, dominating the controversial Askar Mozharov and earning a first round KO.
Cirkunov made his name as a brilliant grappler with decent striking, but his decline in recent years has been hard to watch and he’s a shell of his former self now. Menifield on the other hand looks at his physical peak and as powerful as ever with his striking, while his defensive grappling has improved somewhat too.
Cirkunov on paper has the skills to claim a win here, but his performances in recent times mean it’s hard to be sure he can still go at this level. With Menifield’s power in his hands, it’s very possible that he lands hard early on Cirkunov and completely scrambles his brain, which then allows him to land an early finish as the faster and stronger fighter. PICK – Alonzo Menifield via Knockout, Round 2
Jordan Wright (12-3) vs Dusko Todorovic (11-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Middleweight banger next and someone is going to sleep. Wright has never gone the distance in his career and has been finished in three of his last four getting KO’d by Joaquin Buckley (UFC 255), Bruno Silva (UFC 269) and most recently Marc-Andre Barriault. He did beat Jamie Pickett with a first-round KO at UFC 262. Todorovic’s last four have gone a similar way, going 1-3. He was KO’d by Punahele Soriano at UFC Fight Island 7 and then dropped a decision to Gregory Rodrigues at UFC Vegas 28. He beat Maki Pitolo at UFC Vegas 44 with a first-round KO, but was stopped by Chidi Njokuani most recently back in May.
Wright has an unorthodox karate style and charges forward with reckless abandon, knowing that if he lands flush he can put you out. But he also leaves himself wide open and isn’t the most durable. He’s kill or be killed and we love it. Todorovic is a well-rounded fighter alternatively, with good grappling and pacing but also with the power to end a fight too.
“Thunder” tends to start a little slowly and that tells me Wright could take advantage. If he steps forward and lands one of his nasty elbows or knees when Todorovic is coming in for a takedown it could end the night early. The longer it goes the more it leans in Todorovic’s favour, but I think Wright gets the upset win here with a big KO with his early blitz catching Todorovic cold. PICK – Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1
Askar Askarov (14-1-1) vs Brandon Royval (14-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Fight of the night right here in the flyweight division. Askarov was unbeaten and set for a title match before his last fight, but he ran into Kai Kara France and couldn’t get the job done so comes into this off his first career loss. Royval lost back-to-back bouts to Brandon Moreno (UFC 255) and Alexandre Pantoja but has since bounced back with big wins over Rogerio Bontorin (UFC Vegas 46) and most recently submitted Matt Schnell at UFC 274.
Askarov is a wrestler, plain and simple. He looks to get hold of your legs, drive you to the mat and keep you there while landing some ground and pound to keep the referee happy. He’s also got some decent kickboxing in his pocket, but he’s primarily a grappler looking for control. Royval is an absolutely wild fighter who looks to do the opposite of whatever his opponent wants because he’s so well-rounded. He is a genuine submission threat on the ground but is also an excellent scrambler capable of keeping the fight standing if needs be.
Royval likely needs a finish to win here, because if it goes the distance it’s because Askarov has been able to hold him down and win rounds. If he’s able to scramble up and strike, he’s by far the bigger finishing threat in this fight. The blueprint to beat Askarov is there now, but Royval’s takedown defence isn’t as good as Kara France’s and if you keep getting taken down it doesn’t really matter how often you get up, so expect the Russian to earn another decision win. PICK – Askar Askarov via Decision
Cub Swanson (28-12) vs Jonathan Martinez (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger of a co-main event here. Swanson has won three of his last four, bouncing back from being KO’d by Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 25 to KO Darren Elkins himself at UFC Vegas 45. Martinez on the other hand has won three in a row, earning decision wins over Zviad Lazishvili, Alejandro Perez and most recently Vince Morales.
There is no doubting that Swanson is all about controlled chaos. He’s very powerful on the feet and also a very big ground threat too, while his wrestling has always been good enough to cause problems to opponents. Martinez on the other hand is a great striker with some of the most powerful kicks in the UFC, while his boxing combinations are solid and his takedown defence good enough to keep the fight where he wants it the majority of the time.
Swanson dropping down a division at this stage of his career is a weird move, and I don’t think it pans out too well for him here. Martinez is very quick and powerful, but he also has the footwork to keep opponents at distance and control range. Swanson likes to swing heavy and if he misses that is sure to affect his cardio. With Martinez whipping that vicious left body kick in constantly too, he could match Chikadze with a body kick finish, but I think an entertaining decision win is more likely for “Dragon”. PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Decision
Alexa Grasso (14-3) vs Viviane Araujo (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Main event in the flyweight division up next. Grasso has won each of her last three fights, claiming decision wins over Ji Yeon Kim and Maycee Barber (UFC 258), before submitting Joanne Wood back in March in the first round. Araujo has won three of her last four, defeating Montana De La Rosa and Roxanne Modafferi (UFC Fight Island 8) before losing to Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 262. She got a decision win over Andrea Lee last time out.
Grasso is a great striker with solid boxing combinations and nice low kicks. Araujo on the other hand is a specialist kickboxer and striker, with some great Muay Thai skills too but she struggles to mix in any sort of grappling with her game. She is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has four submission wins on her record, but she very rarely is able to do anything on the ground. Grasso will be comfortable on the feet, knowing she is unlikely to need to defend anything.
Both fighters are far more likely to go the distance than get a finish, and with their skillsets matching up the way they do this is unlikely to be a super entertaining, back and forth bout. Someone is going to get blown away most likely. Araujo’s cardio is alarmingly bad, and Grasso’s never been in a five round fight before either but she’s never given out before the buzzer. Araujo’s power may be more eye catching early on, but the steady pressure and constant buzzing of Grasso should see her claim the decision win. PICK – Alexa Grasso via Decision
Eryk Anders (14-6) vs Junyong Park (13-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An interesting middleweight scrap opens up the main card here. Anders picked up a big win over Darren Stewart back at UFC 263, but then had his arm ripped off by Andre Muniz at UFC 269 in no time at all last time out. Park picked up a good win over Tafon Nchukwi at UFC Vegas 10, before getting stopped by Gregory Rodrigues in the second round in his last bout.
Anders is a solid wrestler with some good straight punches, but his durability in the past has been questioned and his cardio has never been the greatest. Park is a super steady fighter with a solid all-round game, although none of his attributes really stand out among others. This is likely to be a pretty steady fight with both guys waiting for the other to move first.
Because of that, I expect Park’s fundamentals to get him the win. He has good variety in his attacks, has good wrestling and his straight cardio usually holds up so expect him to pick up an underwhelming decision victory. PICK – Junyong Park via Decision
Polyana Viana (12-4) vs Tabatha Ricci (6-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Strawweights go head-to-head in this main card scrap. Viana snapped a three fight losing streak when she submitted Emily Whitmire via first-round armbar at UFC Vegas 8, then did the same to Mallory Martin in her last bout at UFC 258 too. Ricci got stopped in her UFC debut by Manon Fiorot at UFC Vegas 28, but got back in the win column against Maria Oliveira at UFC Vegas 41.
Viana is an excellent grappler with brilliant submissions off her back and on top, while her striking is pretty solid too earning her four knockout wins in the past. Ricci will walk forward to try and blitz strikes before clinching and looking for a takedown herself, so where this bout ends up will be pivotal to the result. Whoever is on top will have the greater success, with both women Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts.
Ricci’s awkward striking makes me lean towards Viana though. Viana has a big size advantage for height and reach, but she does struggle technically with her striking. But the size should be enough to avoid any strikes and clinches with the judoka and lots of scrambles, but I think Viana should be able to get on top and control position enough for a win. PICK – Polyana Viana via Decision
Chidi Njokuani (21-7) vs Dusko Todorovic (11-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Another middleweight scrap here between two guys who know how to bang. Njokuani is on a three-fight win streak including a violent knockout win over Marc-Andre Barriault in just 16 seconds back in February. Todorovic snapped a two-fight losing skid with a first-round knockout win over Maki Pitolo in his last bout back at UFC Vegas 44.
Njokuani is a powerhouse with fantastic hand speed and great striking, while he has got decent wrestling in his back pocket too. Todorovic is a former Serbian grappling world champion, but loves to step forward and use his kickboxing although his defensive striking is pretty poor. Todorovic tends to stand up straight and with Njokuani’s hand speed, that makes the target bigger and easier to hit.
Both of these fighters are strong in the stand up and steady in the grappling, able to mix it up well so where this fight goes will be interesting. But with that said, the lack of head movement from Todorovic and his willingness to move backwards will open up the chance for ‘Bang Bang’ to land a nasty combination that turns the lights out. PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Knockout, Round 2
Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-5) vs Michel Pereira (27-11) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Fight of the night, bar none, without question. Ponzinibbio once upon a time was a serious contender at welterweight, but a long injury layoff saw him miss several years and he’s returned to mixed fortunes. He was flatlined by Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7, before earning a brilliant win over Miguel Baeza at UFC Vegas 28. Last time out though, he was beaten by Geoff Neal at UFC 269. Pereira on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, with impressive decision wins against Niko Price (UFC 264) and Andre Fialho (UFC 270) most recently.
Ponzinibbio is a stud striker with great boxing and superb power in his hands, while his kicks are among the best in the division even today. Pereira is one of the wildest fighters in UFC history, pulling off capoeira techniques including back flips and spinning attacks to go with his incredible dynamic power and excellent grappling. This fight has got fireworks written all over it.
Pereira will likely lean on his grappling in this fight quite heavily, because a firefight with Ponzinibbio is a huge risk he just doesn’t have to take. After a few initial blitzes and exchanges, expect Pereira to change levels and get a takedown to control him on the ground in order to save his energy for any blitzes that he needs in the latter rounds. PICK – Michel Pereira via Submission, Round 3
Holly Holm (14-5) vs Ketlen Vieira (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Main event time as the former champion returns to the cage. Holm has won her last two, defeating Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana via decision but hasn’t fought since October 2020. Vieira on the other hand picked up a huge win over Miesha Tate back in Novemeber to put her name firmly on the map, claiming a unanimous decision win.
Holm is one of the best pure strikers in women’s MMA history, using a karate style and kickboxing skills that secured her several world championships outside of the UFC. Her kicks are remarkable and her footwork excellent, but her volume is sometimes lacking and her power isn’t what it once was. Vieira on the other hand has shown great improvement in her striking recently, but it’s the grappling where her bread gets buttered and she will be looking to get this fight to the ground ASAP.
Vieira absolutely needs this fight on the mat to win. Holm is so good with her striking and movement that she can piece her up on the feet, and her defensive grappling has been solid in the past. But Vieira is the best grappler she’s faced probably and it’ll be tough, especially now that she’s 40. With that said, her style suits this match up favourably and she should claim a decision win quite comfortably. PICK – Holly Holm via Decision
Vince Morales def Louis Smolka via Knockout, Round 1 (2:02)
Good early start from both guys as Smolka lands a low kick or two while Morales lands a few jabs cleanly and then goes to the body too. Smolka trying to push the pace and step forward, but Morales evading relatively easily and landing some nice strikes of his own. Smolka goes to clinch with a knee and as they separate Morales lands a huge right hand that puts Smolka out cold face first! He follows up with a couple but the referee stops it quickly and that’s that! What a KO!
Claudio Puelles def Chris Gruetzemacher via Submission (Kneebar), Round 3 (3:25)
Hard body kick to open up the fight for Puelles, but Gruetzemacher fires back with one of his own. Puelles shoots for a takedown and gets it, ending up on top and working from full guard. Gruetzemacher defending well from his back, taking very little damage. He throws up a lazy armbar which Puelles uses to pass guard and try to take the back, but Gruetzemacher gets his back to the cage and staying calm while fighting hands. Puelles steps over and moves into full mount and starts raining down elbows and strikes. Gruetzemacher avoiding most of the strikes and gets half guard back well and survives the round well. 10-9 Puelles.
Puelles opens up with kicks again and then goes for a couple of lazy takedowns again. Gruetzemacher denies it but rather than keeping the fight standing he tries to transition and ends up on top but not doing much offensively. Puelles throws up a triangle as a threat but Gruetzemacher defends well and eventually they get back to the feet. Puelles lands some big kicks and a nice left hand before another lazy takedown attempt that Gruetzemacher denies easily. Puelles trying to throw some hard head kicks but Gruetzemacher avoiding damage and lands some low kicks of his own. Clinch against the cage and Puelles lands some nice elbows and knees before switching levels for a takedown but it’s not a good attempt and the round ends. Probably 19-19 but could be 20-18 Puelles.
Final round and Gruetzemacher comes forward more aggressively and looks for a knee in the clinch but accidentally lands a low blow to cause a pause in the action. Restarted now and Gruetzemacher coming forward again with more volume. Nice body shots and a left hand before Puelles shoots and it gets sprawled. Some nice short elbows in the clinch by Gruetzemacher force another shot but he sprawls and then spins on to the back of Puelles for a few strikes before they get back to the feet. Gruetzemacher gets a nice foot sweep to be on top but Puelles goes for a leg and tries for a heel hook but Gruetzemacher defends it and ends up on the back. Nice ground and pound but Puelles rolls for the leg again and extends a straight kneebar to get the tap! Big win for Puelles!
William Knight def Alonzo Menifield via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Knight comes out quickly and goes straight for a takedown attempt but Menifield is able to sweep him as he hits the ground and ends up in side control. Knight manages to slip out around the back and tries to get into mount quickly before moving to the back and looking to lock in a rear-naked choke. Menifield defends it well and explodes back to the feet himself before they clinch up against the fence. Knight holding on to the neck of Menifield to stay standing, but Menifield doing well to stay out of a guillotine and force Knight to continue defending. Menifield throws a right hand but Knight counters with a big left hook that drops him! He goes for the finish but the buzzer goes and he survives. 10-9 Knight. Great round.
Menifield opens with a low kick and then a big strike that sends Knight backwards and literally running away from Menifield. Menifield lands a big right hand flush that wobbles Knight, but he stays patient then throws a low kick. Nice left hook from Menifield again and Knight looks very hesitant to throw now. Knight throwing wild strikes but missing hugely and Menifield staying calm and just looking to pick Knight off a little bit now. Left hand landing well for Menifield again and Knight doesn’t really have an answer for it. Knight explodes with the right hand with 15 seconds to go and starts going wild again but doesn’t land flush and the round ends. Definitely a Menifield round. 19-19.
Both guys look more hesitant in this round as they clinch up and Menifield pushes Knight to the cage. Menifield holding Knight against the cage and not much happening as we hit the halfway point of the round. 90 seconds left and it’s just more of the same position for this round. Separation as we get into the final minute and Knight goes for a flying knee. Some wild head kicks miss and Menifield stays on the outside for the rest of the round to likely earn a victory.
Cheyanne Vlismas def Mallory Martin via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Fast start to the fight from both women as Martin takes the centre and they start throwing hands. Some beautiful combos from Vlismas land but Martin is trading back and landing some shots of her own. Vlismas defending against Martin’s strikes well and landing some excellent counter strikes from the outside. Martin in the centre and start to fake some strikes but Vlismas reading well and countering. Martin lands a beautiful short left hook and Vlismas clinches up to throw some short uppercuts and dirty boxing before stepping out of the way again. Lovely right hand lands again as the rounds closes out. 10-9 Vlismas.
Fast start again from Vlismas as she steps forward with fast combinations again and excellent lateral movement. Martin standing in the centre again but she’s being more hesitant to throw now. Nice right hand, left high kick combo from Vlismas lands sbut Martin continues to come forward and then lands a nice body shot. Vlismas lands a beautiful counter right hand. Martin clinches and starts looking to wrestle a bit, but Vlismas defends it well and keeps it standing for now. Nice knees from both ladies landing but Martin is getting the better of the exchanges. They separate and both land a right hand simultaneously before going back to the pattern of the fight. 20-18 Vlismas.
Martin moves for a takedown early on in the final round but Vlismas defends it brilliantly against the cage again before separating. Beautiful one two lands from Vlismas and Martin goes for another takedown but Vlismas defends it well again. Martin lands some knees in the clinch but Vlismas is able to separate and comes forward with some more clean strikes of her own. Big right hand lands from Vlismas in the exchange and Martin steps back slightly before changing levels and going for a takedown again, but Vlismas keeps her balance and keeps it standing again. Both women landing their jabs together but then Vlismas lands a couple of extra shots that she adds to the end of it. Vlismas’ striking has just been a level ahead and she ends the fight stepping forward with big combinations! Great fight! 30-27 Vlismas for me.
Bryan Barbarena def Darian Weeks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Weeks coming out of the gate confidently throwing lots of kicks but nothing really landing. Barbarena launches forward and Weeks changes levels with a body lock and then secures a takedown, but Barbarena gets back to his feet quickly. Weeks looking very comfortable and throwing plenty of strikes, but Barbarena lands a big inside low kick and gets a big reaction. He throws a few more quickly after and Weeks is limping now, but fighting through it. Change of levels from Weeks as he gets it against the cage, but Barbarena reverses the position and starts chopping at the leg again. Weeks having problems with his leg but still stepping forward. Barbarena staying patient and lands a nice left hand before another heavy low kick to end the round. 10-9 Barbarena.
Weeks comes out early and secures a takedown immediately but Barbarena defends well from his back before eventually getting back to his feet. Weeks continuing to be aggressive but Barbarena using his experience well to stem the tide. Weeks throwing some wild hooks and Barbarena throwing some tired ones of his own and both are landing, but nothing doing too much damage yet it seems. Barbarena lands another hard low kick and starts to go to the body as the round ends. That’s anybody’s round but I lean towards Barbarena again. 20-18.
Barbarena turning the pace up in the final round, coming forward and throwing combinations but Weeks gets another body lock and pushes him against the cage. Nice knee from Barbarena and they trade big hooks before going back into the clinch. Barbarena throws a high kick and slips but he gets back up quickly. Weeks is tired now and Barbarena is coming forward, landing some big hooks to the body and then a left hand to the chin. Weeks lands a couple of hooks of his own but Barbarena eating them and coming forward again with the body shots. Hard low kicks again from Barbarena but Weeks is digging in and landing some big hooks of his own. A few hard strikes land well but Barbarena takes them and fires back with his own. He’s really taken over in this round and is continuing to pour the pressure on in the final minute. Weeks changes levels under a hook and secures a big takedown in the final seconds but Barbarena jumps up and lands a big strike that wobbles Weeks! He moves forward with big swinging strikes that miss as the buzzer goes! Great fight. 30-27 for me but could be 29-28 too with round two being close.
Manel Kape def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Knockout, Round 1 (4:02)
Super fast start to this one as Kape opens with a flying knee attempt before both men trade combinations. Zhumagulov throwing hard leg kicks and hard right overhands and connecting with some, but Kape moving well and landing a few counters of his own. Zhumagulov lands a big right that sends Kape stumbling backwards, but he responds with a nice right hand too. Zhumagulov coming forward hard and fast and pushing the pace but Kape is moving well and countering effectively too. Kape lands a nice body shot and a knee and he starts picking his shots. Hard one-two lands and drops Zhumagulov! Kape steps forward and looking for the finish but staying calm, then lands a huge string of punches that puts Zhumagulov down covering up and the referee steps in! What a knockout! What a performance!
Dusko Todorovic def Maki Pitolo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:34)
Lively start from both guys looking to step in and land first with their jabs and some low kicks. Pitolo lands a low kick and then a big right hand lands flush. Another low kick gets a reaction from Todorovic but he changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Pitolo latches on to the neck and goes for a guillotine but Todorovic stays calm, rides it out and eventually secures top position as he starts to look for ground and pound. Todorovic dominating on the ground and trying to move to a crucifix position while landing big strikes and then he moves into full mount. Todorovic flattens Pitolo out and starts raining down heavy ground and pound until the referee waves it off! Hugely impressive win.
Alex Morono def Micky Gall via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start from both guys as Morono takes the centre and tries to feel his way into range before firing a strong right hand to the chin of Gall. Hard low kick from Gall lands but both fighters being very patient and not throwing much early on. Morono lands a nice right hand and then eats a body kick, before firing in another nice one-two that lands on Gall. Lots of feinting and patience and then Morono lands a jab that sits Gall down! Morono goes for the finish but Gall manages to tie him up on the ground by going for a leg lock and recovers enough to get back to his feet at the end of the round. 10-9 Morono.
Gall comes out for the second round with a jab to the body before a nice right hand lands. Morono comes back with a powerful hook himself and then he steps in with a left hook that lands well too. Gall charges forward and lands two big hooks and Morono just misses with a check-left hook counter. Gall continues to come forward with hooks and a jab and he’s fighting very well from range right now. Lovely right hook counter from Morono just clips Gall before he misses with another in the next attack. Gall trying to use his size to be first, but Morono using his technique to match him or even beat him to it. Gall changes levels and shoots for a takedown but Morono sprawls to deny it and ends the round landing a hard left hook. 20-18 Morono.
Big overhand right lands from Morono on Gall, who fires back with a body kick that just misses. Another nice right hand from Morono connects but Gall replies again with a nice double jab followed by a low kick. Morono staying out of range but stepping in quickly when he wants to throw his strikes. Gall misses with a big right hand as we enter the final two minutes. Hard right hand from Morono before both guys trade wild swings in the final minute. Spinning back fist from Morono lands and Gall starting to come forward with his hands down. Both guys swing wildly as the buzzer goes, should be comfortable for Morono.
Chris Curtis def Brendan Allen via Knockout, Round 2 (1:58)
Fast start from Allen as he comes out with a few strong strikes that just miss before a big takedown attempt sees him pick Curtis up and slam him down, before taking the back. Curtis defends well and they separate quickly though. Curtis lands a nice four-punch combo to the head of Allen but he eats it and comes back with a nice knee. Allen goes for a head kick before Curtis returns with some big strikes again. Hard body kick from Allen before they trade low kicks together. Lead elbow from Allen lands before Curtis lands a nice right hook counter and then goes to the body himself. Head kick from Curtis just misses but he follows it up with a nice one-two. Allen goes for a takedown and then transitions for a leg lock but Curtis defends it well and ends up on top to end the round. Close round, 10-9 Allen for me but only just.
Hard low kick early from Allen drops Curtis to one knee before another hard low kick lands. Both guys trade in the pocket and Allen just misses with a knee. Allen lands a hard body kick but Curtis replies with a nice one-two down the pipe. Both guys trade big right hooks and Allen is wobbled!! Curtis going for the finish and lands a strong knee and Allen goes down again and the referee waves it off! Amazing! What a KO!
Slow start to this one as Santos looks to keep his distance and use his powerful strikes from range. Santos lands a powerful body kick and Guida drops in pain! Santos goes for the kill with huge ground and pound strikes to the head and body but Guida is surviving currently. Santos blasting him with big strikes and the referee is looking closely but Guida is holding a leg and surviving! Guida gets up and manages to create separation and Santos is exhausted! Guida goes on the offensive for the final minute with his crazy pressure and wrestling! What a round! 10-9 Santos.
Guida comes out super aggressive and lands a big left hook then goes for a takedown again. He gets the fight down to the ground quickly and starts blasting knees to the body of Santos who is completely out of it through exhaustion. Guida goes for the neck, takes the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke and forces Santos to tap! Incredible! What a comeback.
Jamahal Hill def Jimmy Crute via Knockout, Round 1 (0:48)
Crute comes out hard with some heavy leg kicks and high kicks but Hill stepping out and avoiding too much damage. Hill fires a hard right hand down the pipe and drops Crute who immediately shoots for a takedown out of instinct. Hill gets some separation and counters with another solid right hook to the chin that puts Crute down and out! One more strike on the ground before the referee gets there and that’s that! Unbelievable from Jamahal Hill! Wow!
Rafael Fiziev def Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3 (2:20)
Tactical start to this one from both guys as they throw out some feelers for each other. Fiziev looks to land one of his trademark head kicks but just misses, before both guys trade hooks. Big exchange of counter strikes from Fiziev in particular as he rips the body with his lead leg. Riddell just misses with a right hand and then slips a kick from Fiziev. Riddell goes for a jab to the body and overhand right but just misses as Fiziev takes the centre and pushes him back against the cage with pressure. Both guys land a big right hook each before Fiziev fires a hard low kick at the end of it. Hard body kicks again from Fiziev before Riddell ends the round with a beautiful combination that sees two strikes land on the chin. Good round, 10-9 Fiziev.
Hard low kick from Riddell opens the round up. Riddell throwing his jab out before committing to combinations, but Fiziev lands a nice right hand counter too. Fiziev lands a jab followed with a step-in elbow that cuts Riddell badly over the eye. Nice left hand from Riddell lands though and then Fiziev lands with a short left hook. Both guys fire the same combination that ends with a left hook at the same time and both land too. Lovely right hook lands from Fiziev and then he goes for a knee but Riddell ties him up in a clinch before they separate. Back to the body kick from Fiziev and that’s the round. 20-18 Fiziev for me but could be 19-19.
Fiziev goes for a low leg kick but Riddell catches it and shoots for a takedown and briefly gets it, but Fiziev pops up to his feet quickly. They clash together again and Fiziev lands a hard right hand in the exchange, but Riddell’s right hand landed too. Big left hook from Riddell lands after a body shot as he starts to get more aggressive in this final round. Riddell changes levels and attempts a takedown but Fiziev denies it, before a big clash of strikes yet again from both guys. Riddell circles away on the outside and Fiziev throws a spinning wheel kick and catches Riddell clean in the face!! Riddell is out on his feet and Herb Dean steps in quickly before any more damage can be done!! WOW! What a KO! Amazing!
Jose Aldo def Rob Font via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x2, 49-46)
Fast start to this fight as Font comes forward and starts to use his jab immediately, following up with one-twos. Aldo lands a body kick before Font charges forward and gets a surprising takedown. Font forcing Aldo to be very defensive in the early going, landing his jab clean and following it with a right hand too. Font just misses with an uppercut but lands a glancing elbow as Aldo looks to step away. Aldo ducks under a straight right and counters with a pull right hand, but Font is putting it on him so far. Big body shot from Aldo lands and both guys trade leg kicks. Font lands his jab again and a nice right hand before Aldo rolls and blocks the follow up strike attempts. Aldo lands a one two straight down the pipe and Font goes down! Aldo goes for the finish but after a couple of shots on the ground the buzzer goes to end the round. Whew. 10-9 Font.
Font coming forward once again behind his jab with a relentless pace trying to offset Aldo’s rhythm. Nice right hand from Font lands but Aldo seems calm. Aldo lands a huge one-two again and the right hand is flush and sends Font backwards reeling, but Aldo goes for a big knee that misses and Font is able to recover. Aldo just misses with a big left uppercut and then blocks a right hook from Font. Right hand lands from Font and gets Aldo’s attention, so he fires back with another hard right hand himself. Font trying to land but he seems to be lacking in power, so Aldo returns with a big right hand again. Font goes for a takedown but Aldo denies it easily, but then eats a right hand. Huge body shot from Aldo. Round ends, what a fight. 19-19.
Aldo has returned to his old ways and lands three very hard low kicks early on that are affecting Font immediately. Nice one-two from Font and then he goes for a takedown that Aldo manages to defend and reverse to end up on top himself. Aldo into side control and lands a nice short elbow before going back into full guard. Font looking to be active from his back but Aldo doing well to control him and minimise the threat. Font gets back to his feet and looks for some combos but Aldo pushes him off. Aldo’s right eye has closed up now but he lands a hard body shot before Font comes over the top with a right hand that just misses. Hard low kick again from Aldo and it drops Font! Another hard one but Font is coming forward again and landing his jab well. Another low kick from Aldo to end the round, but he looks like he’s tiring. 29-28 Aldo.
Font comes aggressively but Aldo rolls with it and lands a huge right hand once again that drops Font! Font is wobbling badly and Aldo going for the finish but Font is scrambling and Aldo eventually settles in side control. Font trying to find a way back to his feet, but Aldo controlling him well and looking to pass. Aldo eventually passes into mount but Font quickly gets full guard back. Aldo looking to get some ground and pound off but Font is defending it well and landing some short elbows of his own off his back. Aldo continuing to control the position on the ground though as the round ends and he’ll take the round. 39-37 Aldo.
Fast start from Font as he comes out swinging hard in combinations to the body and to the head. Aldo looks hesitant and tired now but Font is coming forward much fresher. Font clinches up and Aldo is tying him up against the cage, then Font lands a big elbow. Aldo coming forward and lands a big right hand again before Font clinches again against the cage. Font throwing some strikes but Aldo fairly comfortable with where the fight is currently. Font creates space and lands a big uppercut but Aldo responds with a hard right hand and wobbles Font again! Aldo lands two more and Font goes down but Font ties up Aldo on the mat to try and recover. Aldo gets to his back and gets two hooks in and is seemingly looking for a choke, but he’s not rushing. Aldo locks in a body triangle and is looking for a rear-naked choke with 30 seconds left but Font fights out of it and survives the round to make the buzzer. What a fight. 49-46 Aldo for me.
Cheyanne Vlismas (6-2) vs Mallory Martin (7-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
The only ladies on the card step up next in the strawweight division. Vlismas (aka Buys) lost her UFC debut to Montserrat Ruiz at UFC Vegas 22 before earning a head-kick KO next time out at UFC Vegas 33. Martin on the other hand earned a win over Hannah Cifer at UFC Vegas 8 before being submitted by Polyana Vieira at UFC 258 last time out.
Vlismas is a solid striker who throws with good technique and great power, while Martin generally tends to wrestle her opponents and look to secure top control in her fights. That bodes well for Martin stylistically, but Vlismas has shown in the past that her wrestling isn’t as bad as it may have seemed on her UFC debut.
Martin has had some big problems on the feet in the past and defensively she has big flaws that Vlismas can exploit. If she is able to rediscover her wrestling defence and keep the fight standing, then she should piece up Martin on the feet for a potential stoppage win. Ultimately though, I think this goes the distance. PICK – Cheyanne Vlismas via Decision
Jake Matthews (17-5) vs Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A banger at welterweight between two unranked fighters in this one. Matthews saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Sean Brady back at UFC 259 last time out, while Wells secured a second-round KO win over Warlley Alves at UFC Vegas 30 in his debut last time out.
Both guys are strikers primarily, but Matthews is far more technical than the powerhouse that is Wells. The only times Matthews has looked in trouble during his UFC run has been against supreme wrestlers, and that is something Wells is not.
Wells has issues with his cardio mainly, but he does have legitimate power to end a fight early at times. Both guys are solid wrestlers in their own right too, but ultimately the technique and cardio of Matthews should see him secure a fairly comfortable decision win. PICK – Jake Matthews via Decision
Bryan Barbarena (15-8) vs Darian Weeks (5-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A super short-notice welterweight bout opens the main card. Barbarena is on a 1-3 run currently with a loss to Jason Witt most recently, and he’ll take on Weeks who is 5-0 in his professional career. Weeks steps in on less than one week’s notice for Matt Brown, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Barbarena is a powerful striker with good wrestling skills and plenty of experience, fighting from southpaw with a great jab. Weeks on the other hand is a powerful right-handed striker himself, with great pressure and some decent wrestling in his back pocket too. The short-notice aspect of this fight is telling, because it could well come down to conditioning in the latter rounds.
Barbarena is capable of fighting on the outside but if Weeks is able to time the takedown attempts when Barbarena throws his one-two, then he could secure some control and manage his gas tank. Ultimately though, I think the experience of Barbarena and the fact it’s on short notice means he will be able to earn a close decision win. PICK – Bryan Barbarena via Decision
Manel Kape (16-6) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An intriguing flyweight bout between two ranked stars looking to move towards the top of the division. Kape lost his first two UFC bouts where a lack of volume cost him on the scorecards, but he secured a highlight reel flying knee KO of Ode Osbourne last time out at UFC 265. Zhumagulov suffered defeats in his first two UFC bouts too, before earning a submission win at UFC 264 over Jerome Rivera last time out.
The former RIZIN champ has got brilliant striking techniques and legitimate knockout power for the weight class, but volume has been a big problem for him and has cost him in the past. He has decent wrestling too but it’s his flurries on the feet that are where he’s at his best. Zhumagulov is a relentless pressure fighter with good wrestling and eyecatching flurries that could catch Kape out if he is a deer in the headlights once again.
If Kape is flying though, then he should win this bout. He is the better striker, with more power and more routes to win the fight on the feet and with a reach advantage too he should be able to stay on the outside and secure a victory with a counter-strike knockout. PICK – Manel Kape via Knockout, Round 1
Maki Pitolo (13-8) vs Dusko Todorovic (10-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A middleweight clash is the featured prelim bout for this card. Pitolo has lost his last three in a row with a submission loss against Julian Marquez at UFC 258 last time out, while Todorovic has suffered the only defeats in his career in his last two fights with a decision loss against Gregory Rodrigues at UFC Vegas 28 in his last outing.
Pitolo is a decent boxer who has really let himself down with his showings so far in the UFC, while Todorovic is a bit of an all-rounder with no stand-out skills. This fight is in a weird spot on the card, because it shouldn’t be the featured prelim. But with that said, the match up is interesting. If he’s firing, Pitolo is more than capable of using his boxing skills to light Todorovic up who tends to block punches with his head.
The issue is that he almost never uses his skills, often trying to stop his opponent from dominating rather than trying to dominate himself. Todorovic is able to step forward and use his kickboxing, but also hold Pitolo against the cage in clinch situations and likely will secure a victory using that tactic. PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Decision
Claudio Puelles def Jordan Leavitt via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Interesting start to the fight as both men trade leg kicks and body kicks before Leavitt changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Puelles immediately rolls through to try and reverse but Leavitt holds onto the single leg and forces a scramble for the position. Neither men give anything up and eventually Leavitt is able to get into the guard but only for a few seconds before Puelles kicks him off. Leavitt doesn’t let go and tries to hold him down again but Puelles is eventually able to get back to the feet where they trade leg kicks again. Puelles shoots in for a takedown this time but Leavitt defends it pretty well before Puelles gets into his guard with about 40 seconds left. Neither fight lands any real offence as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Leavitt probably.
Second round more of the same early on from both guys with a few rangy kicks before Leavitt shoots in for a single leg takedown again. Puelles defends it well once again and manages to reverse to end up on Leavitt’s back, but he’s able to reverse into a kneebar attempt to escape and ends up with Puelles in his guard again. Puelles stands up and avoids an up-kick before landing a big left hand as Leavitt looks to get back up and they end up on the ground once again. Puelles looks to take the back and starts throwing a few strikes to free it up but Leavitt is defending faitly well. Puelles locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds to go but nothing else happens and the round ends. 19-19.
Puelles opens up the round with a takedown early on this time and he gets it easily, with Leavitt pretty content to work from his back currently. Leavitt tries to scramble back to his feet but Puelles doing really well to shut it down and starts landing some ground and pound too. Position over submission for Puelles so far but Leavitt is trying to get up again and goes for an inverted triangle but Puelles avoids it pretty easily. Puelles in the north-south position but not doing enough so the referee stands them up with 90 seconds to go, only for Puelles to score an instant takedown once they resume. A bit of ground and pound but nothing crazy and Puelles should waltz to the victory 29-28.
Sean Woodson def Youssef Zalal via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Fast paced start to this one as Woodson takes the centre and looks to pump out his jab, while Zalal is firing leg kicks and firing overhand rights to counter. Zalal starts landing some nice strikes from the middle and Woodson starting to back up a bit, so Zalal shoots for a takedown. Woodson is able to stuff it against the cage though and then lands a couple of nice kicks before a left hand wobbles Zalal! Zalal recovers well and seems to have the speed advantage so is landing first and preventing the jab of Woodson from being effective. Zalal moves in for another takedown but Woodson defends it well against the cage again before they break and Zalal goes for a double leg this time and gets it to end the round on top. 10-9 Zalal but close round.
Woodson comes out strong in the second round and lands some nice body kicks to back Zalal up, but the ‘Moroccan Devil’ avoids it and goes in for a takedown against the cage once again. Zalal breaks and lands an elbow before shooting back in again, then lands another elbow as they separate again. Woodson loading up with kicks and Zalal finding it pretty easy to avoid them, but Woodson lands a nice straight left. Zalal throws a nice left hook that lands before both guys trade leg kicks and then Woodson lands a nice left hand and jab again. Zalal shoots for a takedown against the cage with 20 seconds left but Woodson synchs up a guillotine but just runs out of time. 19-19 for me.
More of the same at the start of the final round as Zalal goes for another takedown and puts Woodson against the cage, but he is able to defend it well again and break out into the centre. Woodson takes the centre and is forcing Zalal backwards now, landing some decent strikes but then Zalal shoots in again to stop that momentum. Woodson throws a couple of nice knees to the body and is looking for a guillotine again but Zalal picks him up to escape with a minute to go. Zalal shoots in again but Woodson switches it and goes for a guillotine from the top, but Zalal explodes out and they get back to swinging to end the fight. 29-28 Woodson but close for sure.
Manon Fiorot def Tabatha Ricci via Knockout, Round 2 (3:00)
Tentative start from both ladies early on as Fiorot uses her significant size advantage to land he patented side kick and jab. Ricci circling on the outside and bursting with some flurries, but Fiorot staying calm and composed and lands a nasty body kick. She follows up with a nice left hook straight to the chin, but Ricci keeps moving and looking for an entry. Huge left straight from Fiorot down the pipe lands and easily denies a takedown attempt. Fiorot fires off a combination but Ricci just about slips it and gets away. Fiorot has the centre and lands a big left hand again but Ricci responds with a nice strike as the round ends. 10-9 Fiorot but Ricci is showing promise.
Fast start to the second round for Fiorot as she starts to hunt Ricci down and throw combinations against the cage. Fiorot goes for a takedown inexplicably but Ricci denies it and eats another combination up top. Ricci trying to throw some leg kicks but Fiorot checks and keeps coming forward, clinching up and landing two big elbows. Fiorot steps forward with a big combination and drops Ricci and starts teeing off! Ricci gets back to her feet but Fiorot keeps pouring it on and eventually the referee mercifully steps in to end it. Huge knockout win!
Alan Patrick vs Mason Jones – NO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)
Absolutely wild first round to start as Jones takes the centre of the octagon and looks to counter some crazy strikes from Patrick. The Brazilian shoots for a takedown but Jones avoids it and lands a nice right hand. Patrick throws some spinning kicks and back fists but Jones is slipping then and responding with big counters. Big exchange of punches from both men as Jones lands a left hand that staggers Patrick. Jones pushes forward with more pressure and Patrick clinches up and pulls guard but Jones starts smashing him with ground and pound. Big, heavy elbows from top position and huge strikes from the top and the referee nearly waves it off but he just runs out of time. 10-9 Jones, great round.
Patrick opens the second round with some more wild techniques before Jones steps in, gets a trip and starts working from top position once again. Some nice ground and pound strikes land but Patrick is able to jump back to his feet. He eats a big left hand and then an accidental eye poke causes a stop. Patrick tells the doctor he can’t see and the fight is waved off. Tough break for Jones.
Steady start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out early on. Amirkhani shoots in for two takedowns but Kirk is able to slip his leg out both times pretty easily. Kirk steps forward and looks to land a right hand but Amirkhani then steps in to close the distance with another shot. This time he gets hold around the body of Kirk and throws him over his head and refuses to let go, before securing a trip and getting heavy on top. Kirk is able to push Amirkhani off and get up relatively quickly though and with no damage before a nice left hand clips Amirkhani. A bit of pressure from Kirk but the round ends, 10-9 either way.
Good start to the second round from Kirk as he steps in with some nice body work and a few straight right hands. Attempted flying knee just misses from Kirk, who then lands a massive right hand right to the side of the head. Three big body shots in a row from Kirk and Amirkhani shoots in again for a takedown but this time gets it, with Kirks attempts at a guillotine and heel hook coming to nothing. Amirkhani now in top position, staying heavy but Kirk throws up a triangle armbar and it’s tight! He locks it out and extends but Amirkhani refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. 20-18 to Kirk for me but could be 19-19 or 20-18 the other way too to be fair.
Final round and Amirkhani lands a big left hand clean on the chin to open up. Both guys look tired and after another left hand from Amirkhani he shoots for the takedown and secures it. Amirkhani heavy on top again, but Kirk throws up another triangle that just can’t get locked up. Kirk gets him back up to the feet but Amirkhani keeps hold of him and drags him down to the mat again, but this time Kirk reverses it and ends up on top. Kirk throwing body shots from the top as Amirkhani just holding him down to stall for time. Kirk postures up and lands a big left hand and the round ends with a stalemate for position. Super close fight, honestly could go either way.
Muslim Salikhov def Francisco Trinaldo via Decision (30-27 x3)
Very tense opening to this fight as both men throw out lots of feints and feelers early on, with Trinaldo coming forward. Salikhov throws a beautiful body kick that slaps, but Trinaldo rushes forward and lands a nice left hand in response. Salikhov taking his time and trying to counter, lands a big overhand right after missing with a left hook and then throwing a big body kick again. Trinaldo coming forward in bursts again and lands a nice left hand to the chin. Salikhov throws a leg kick but it gets checked and then follows up with a big left uppercut that drops Trinaldo! He follows up with some big ground and pound but Trinaldo stays calm on his back and sees it out until the bell. Whew! 10-9 Salikhov.
Good start from Trinaldo in the second round as he comes forward again and bull-rushes Salikhov, landing a nice right hand. Salikhov looks for the uppercut again that just misses, but then follows up with a couple of right hands himself that do land. Trinaldo lands a nice left hand before Salikhov lands a huge right hook that wobbles Trinaldo again! Trinaldo swings some huge punches after he recovers but Salikhov slips them all and lands some nice right hands of his own in between to really start piecing Trinaldo up. Salikhov is seeing the punches coming now and slipping then countering as he throws Trinaldo to the ground. 20-18 Salikhov but Trinaldo is still in this fight.
Final round and Trinaldo comes out swinging once again, but Salikhov counters with a left hook and gets a big eye poke for his troubles. After a pause in the action Trinaldo comes forward and lands a big left hand to that eye that wobbles him. Salikhov responds with a body kick and leg kick, but Trinaldo continues to come forward and look for that big left hand. Salikhov lands a nice leg kick and pushes Trinaldo to the ground at the same time, then eats up some time with a few leg kicks to his grounded opponent too. The referee stands him up and Trinaldo continues to come forward again as we enter the final minute as Salikhov lands a nice straight right hand. Big left hand from Trinaldo forces Salikhov to change levels and dump Trinaldo to the mat to see out the final 30 seconds and surely claim a win. 29-28 Salikhov for me.
Boser taking the centre early on and being the aggressor with some head kick attempts. Latifi just circling on the outside as Boser bounces around and feints some strikes, before another kick attempt gets caught and Latifi puts him on the mat immediately. Latifi works from guard into side control and looks to grind, but Boser is able to swivel his hips and explode back to his feet. Boser steps in with some nice jabs and a left straight but Latifi looking to clinch up every time. Boser lands another big jab and throws another two kicks to see out the round. Tough to score to be honest but I lean to Boser.
Latifi looking to punch his way in early in the second round, stepping forward with a nice overhand right. Boser responds with good foot work and his jab, slipping Latifi’s big punches and just piecing him up rather than landing bombs of his own. Boser steps forward and lands a big right hand that makes Latifi go down holding his eye, but the referee doesn’t step in and Boser goes for the kill! Huge ground and pound strikes against the cage but Latifi defends himself well and eventually clinches up. He shoots for a takedown but Boser defends it and goes for his jabs once again to end the round. 20-18 Boser for me.
Final round and Boser steps out with his jabs again but Latifi goes for an early takedown this time and gets it. Straight into Boser’s guard and this time Latifi is throwing some ground and pound strikes with heavy top pressure, stopping Boser from doing anything significant from his back. More grinding ground and pound from Latifi for almost two minutes at the end of the round and it’s his round but I think Boser will get the nod. 29-28 Boser for me.
*TOM BREESE VS ANTONIO ARROYO CANCELLED DUE TO A MEDICAL ISSUE FOR BREESE*
Montana De La Rosa def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:27)
Very patient start to the fight from both women, as Lipski using some feints as De La Rosa keeps the distance short. A few kick attempts from Lipski but eventually De La Rosa closes the distance, secure a body lock and gets Lipski to the ground. De La Rosa stays heavy on top and works her way to full guard where she starts raining down elbows and cuts Lipski wide open to the side of her eye. Lipski not doing much to get up and De La Rosa is able to just land big strikes at will here as the round ends. 10-9 De La Rosa.
Second round and Lipski lands a big right hand immediately, but De La Rosa shoots and gets the takedown perfectly in response. De La Rosa is able to slide into side control and has Lipski against the cage, keeping her in a really tough position and landing those big elbow strikes once again. Lipski is threatening with a kimura but it doesn’t have much hope and then De La Rosa slides into full mount and starts raining down huge elbows and punches. Lipski trying to roll away but De La Rosa refuses to let her and just keeps thumping away until the referee steps in and ends it! Huge win for De La Rosa!
Gregory Rodrigues def Dusko Todorovic via Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
A super start to the fight from the UFC newcomer as Rodrigues steps forward and is landing his power jab well. Rodrigues firing his right straight perfectly too and is catching Todorovic clean very, very often. A clinch up against the cage sees Rodrigues with a judo throw put Todorovic down, but he gets back up to his feet immediately. More crisp right hands land from Rodrigues as Todorovic just eats them, but he’s walking back with his chin high. Todorovic lands a nice right hand of his own to see out the round but that’s a Rodrigues round clearly. 10-9.
Rodrigues coming out aggressive in the second round and finding a home for that right hand over and over again. Some digs to the body from Rodrigues and another big right hand, before a power double leg secures him a takedown too. Todorovic tries to get up using the cage and eats a knee to he head but is able to get away. Rodrigues lands a big straight right hand on the chin again as Todorovic steps forward and throws a little flurry. Final minute and Rodrigues slips a punch and lands a beautiful left-hook, right hand combo. 20-18 Rodrigues, but he’s start to slow down a little.
Third and final round and Todorovic looks like he’s still trying to make reads. Good jab lands twice and forces Rodrigues backwards, but he replies with another big right hand that lands flush. Rodrigues goes for a takedown but Todorovic defends it well this time. Rodrigues steps forward again and lands some big combinations and then eats a jab for his trouble. Rodrigues lands a big right hand once more and then goes to the body, but Todorovic replies with a nice left hand of his own. Into the final 30 seconds and Todorovic lands some great body shows but eats another right hand. Todorovic goes for the takedown at the end of the round but the buzzer goes and it should be a win for the newcomer.
Santiago Ponzinibbio def Miguel Baeza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this one as Ponzinibbio takes the centre of the cage and looks to land some jabs and his right hand as backs Baeza up against the fence. Baeza responding with his kicks, throwing a lot of heavy leg kicks to the lead leg and throwing his right hand behind it. Baeza blasting those calf kicks and forcing Ponzinibbio backwards, and then he lands a nice left-right hand combo. Ponzinibbio comes forward again and lands a nice left hand but Baeza is throwing more and more leg kicks and they’re really totalling up now. Big flurry from Ponzinibbio at the end of the round lands a couple of strikes but ultimately that’s a Baeza round. 10-9.
Fantastic start to the round from Baeza as he targets the calf kicks once again. Baeza lands three body kicks in a row and as Ponzinibbio throws a jab he gets kicked in the calf once again. Big overhand right from Baeza wobbles Ponzinibbio but Baeza stays calm and doesn’t go straight for the kill. Ponzinibbio throws a few calf kicks of his own and a nice right hand but Baeza then goes back to work with the leg kicks. Ponzinibbio starting to land his jab a lot more now as he comes forward with a big flurry of strikes. Ponzinibbio coming forward constantly and is landing lots of strikes in the second half of this round with big combinations to end the round. 19-19.
Fast start to the final round too as Ponzinibbio steps forward again and they trade jabs. Baeza lands two leg kicks again then follows with a right hand that staggers Ponzinibbio. The Argentine continues to come forward with the lead jab and is now throwing a right hand behind it, but Baeza retaliates with a nice right hand combo to the head and body. Ponzinibbio lands a huge flurry and Baeza is hurt, but Baeza lands two right hands and hurts Ponzinibbio right back! Body kick from Baeza before a left hook lands from Ponzinibbio! Both men trade huge leg kicks and exchange wild hooks. Big uppercut from Baeza but Ponzinibbio lands a big one-two, followed by a Baeza right hand again. Both men spend the final 30 seconds going absolutely crazy with hooks and power punches, with Ponzinibbio getting the better of the exchange to end the round! What a fight! 29-28 Ponzinibbio for me.
Roman Dolidze def Laureano Starapoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Staropoli comes out very early and very quickly with a solid body kick, followed by two heavy leg kicks. He goes for a head kick that misses and Dolidze immediately shoots in for a takedown. Staropoli gets to his feet against the cage but Dolidze keeps a body lock and drags Staropoli down over and over again for almost the full round. A few knees to the thigh from Dolidze but otherwise a pretty dull round. 10-9 Dolidze.
Second round starts with an immediate power double leg from Dolidze who gets the fight down momentarily before they end up against the cage once again, in the same way as they did the first round. Staropoli eventually is able to spin away and get away from the grip of Dolidze and then lands a couple of kicks again. Big left uppercut from Staropoli lets Dolidze change levels and get another takedown. More clinching against the cage as Staropoli tries to escape and finally he does, before going for a takedown of his own and the same stalemate occurring again. 20-18 Dolidze.
Third and final round and we see more of the same from both fighters, with Staropoli unable to get his striking game going at all because of Dolidze’s strength whenever he gets close. Dolidze holding him against the cage throughout and any spec of danger is evaded. 30-27 Dolidze, next please.
Marcin Tybura def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)
Fast start to the round from Harris as he comes forward with intent and starts throwing bombs early. Huge rights and lefts from Harris landing clean but Tybura still standing and wobbling. Harris tries to clinch and goes for knees, then throws a flurry of hooks that drops Tybura again. He goes for a finish but Tybura drives forward for a takedown and gets it against the cage. Harris does well but then Tybura catches a kick and sweeps the leg to get on top. He transitions to the back and puts one hook in, working for a rear naked choke. He then starts landing heavy strikes that are having a big effect on Harris and eventually the referee steps in and ends the fight! Huge knockout win for Tybura!
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)
Slow start to this one as Rozenstruik takes the centre and flicks out a leg kick or two, but generally both guys just feeling each other out for now. Another leg kick is matched by Sakai this time and then goes for another but Rozenstruik catches it and just misses with a counter right hand. Sakai throws a right hand that misses and Rozenstruik fires back with an overhand that whistles past Sakai. Rozenstruik backs Sakai against the cage and throws a flurry of shots but Sakai defends well. He does it again and this time lands a left hook right hand and Sakai is down! He lands a couple of follow ups just before the horn goes but it’s all over! Huge win!
Breese is a powerhouse of a striker with good takedowns and fantastic jiu-jitsu from the top, but on his back he almost seems to freeze against anyone who can get him there. Arroyo is also a grappler but he has really struggled since coming into the UFC and has completely frozen every time he’s got in the octagon.
Breese is in a bit of a rut right now but his skillset is far too well rounded to be caused problems by Arroyo and he should win this one pretty comfortably. PICK – Tom Breese via Submission, Round 2
Dusko Todorovic (10-1) vs Gregory Rodrigues (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A short notice middleweight clash as Dusko Todorovic looks to put the first defeat of his career behind him when he takes on replacement opponent Gregory Rodrigues. Todorovic had won ten in a row heading into UFC Fight Island 8, where he was knocked out in the first round by Punahele Soriano. Rodrigues replaed Maki Pitolo on a two-fight win streak, having won his last fight just two weeks ago.
Todorovic is a good kickboxer with some decent kicks but really good straight punches and power. An issue he has however is that he often steps out of exchanges with his hands low and chin high, which could allow for the powerful Rodrigues to cause an upset. The Brazilian is a solid striker himself but he also some good grappling skills to work with and Todorovic on the ground isn’t something we’ve seen much, if any, of.
The short notice nature of the bout makes Todorovic a wide favourite, simply because he has good combinations and hand speed and is at his best when pressuring opponents. Rodrigues could catch him with a big overhand, but the most likely option is Todorovic gets a win with a big blitz. PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1
Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4) vs Miguel Baeza (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Ponzinibbio is a brilliant striker, with huge power in his legs and hands and real explosive power. He’s also a more than decent grappler, but he’s got nothing on Baeza when it comes to the ground game. Baeza is a tremendous grappler but also has exceptional power on the feet as shown by his seven knockout wins in his career. The old version of Ponzinibbio would have won this fight no question, but the version who fought Li is likely to lose.
Baeza has had trouble against guys who force him backwards, which Ponzinibbio will likely do, but he’s got such big knockout power in his hands that you have to now question ‘Gente Boa’s’ chin. It’s going to be one-sided, but it completely depends on which Ponzinibbio turns up and after so long away, I just don’t think the old version exists anymore. PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2
Roman Dolidze (8-1) vs Laureano Staropoli (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Dolidze is a solid wrestler, who looks to get takedowns and secure top position as much as possible before landing his good ground and pound game, while Staropoli is a man who prefers to stand and strike if he has the option. It’s a real clash of styles, but there is a big size difference between the two. Dolidze was fighting at 205lbs not long ago while Staropoli has fought at 170lbs in the past and that could be a big factor here.
Staropoli has the striking advantage, but Dolidze will be able to get hold of him and get him down to the ground for long spells of control and a decision victory. PICK – Roman Dolidze via Decision
Walt Harris (13-9 1NC) vs Marcin Tybura (21-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A banger at heavyweight in the co-main event as ‘Big Ticket’ Walt Harris looks to get back in the win column against Marcin Tybura. Harris was knocked out by Alistair Overeem last year before Alexander Volkov outclassed him and stopped in in round two at UFC 254. Tybura is on a four-fight win streak after beating Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin at UFC 251, Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Island 5 and Greg Hardy at UFC Vegas 17.
Harris is as much a first-round heavyweight that there is in the UFC. He’s got incredible power in his hands, winning all 13 of his victories via knockout, and has a relatively poor gas tank considering the level he fights at. Tybura on the other hand is a tidy striker with good techniques and some leg kicks too, but a fantastic gas tank and really good takedowns too.
This was just a weird fight to make in the first place considering their recent records, but it’s also one of those that is quite lopsided stylistically too. Tybura can piece him up on the feet or take him down and land ground and pound to get a comfortable win. PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) vs Augusto Sakai (15-2-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight main event that sets up the cushion for those in the heavyweight title picture as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai. Rozenstruik is 1-2 in his last three, getting starched by Francis Ngannou before a big win over Junior Dos Santos and defeat to Ciryl Gane most recently. Sakai had won six-in-a-row before his last fight, getting knocked out and dominated by Alistair Overeem.
Rozenstruik is an excellent, technical kickboxer with some legitimate one-punch knockout power in his arsenal too. Sakai is also a big, powerful striker and his biggest problems have come against guys who have grappled him and closed the distance. Rozenstruik won’t do that, but he’s without doubt the more technical striker of the two and I’d argue he has the power advantage too.
Both of these guys have big power but while I’m not totally sold on Rozenstruik as a top level guy in this division, he is better than Sakai for me and I expect him to get a spectacular knockout win here once again. PICK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Knockout, Round 3
Austin Lingo def Jacob Kilburn via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
A fast start to the night as Lingo steps forward and takes the centre of the cage early and lets his right hand fly. Some big shots land clean and Kilburn goes down hurt, but he gets back up quickly. Lingo lands some nice left hooks around the guard to keep Kilburn shaky on the feet. Kilburn shoots for a takedown against the cage and is able to recover his senses. The jab is landing clean and Lingo is in control of the round. 10-9 Lingo.
Lingo comes out hard again and lands a few nice shots early, but Kilburn changes levels early and lands a takedown for the first time in the fight. Lingo is able to create space and kick him off almost instantly though and the fight goes back to the feet. Lingo lands a nice left straight that snaps Kilburn’s head back but he is doing well to circle and threaten with takedowns in this round. Kilburn gets another takedown but Lingo once again escapes back to the feet immediately, then gets a takedown of his own against the cage before he allows Kilburn back up as the round ends. 20-18 Lingo.
Kilburn comes out for the final round and showing good energy, throwing nice combinations and attempting the takedown again. In the scramble Kilburn goes for a judo throw and gets it but ends up on the bottom with a kimura grip. Lingo stays patient on top and eventually escapes back to the feet and starts striking on the feet again, landing his jab well. Lingo counters a low-kick with a beautiful one-two as Kilburn goes for a lazy single leg takedown. Big right hand again from Lingo lands inside the final minute as the round comes to a close for what should be a comfortable Lingo decision win. 30-27 Lingo.
Vanessa Melo def Sarah Moras via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Slow start to this one as Melo takes the centre of the octagon and Moras continually circles, flicking out the jab. There’s more noise coming from the octagon than the stands right now as Moras channels her inner Maria Sharapova every time she throws a strike. Melo starts cutting her off instead of just following, but the pattern remains the same as Moras flicks the jab and Melo looks for a power right hand. Nice one-two lands from Moras but a bit of a non-event this round. 10-9 Moras, I guess?
Another slow start to the round but Melo lands the biggest shot of the round with a left hook that knocks Moras’ mouthpiece out. Moras bleeding from the mouth now and Melo continuing to stalk her around the octagon, and Moras’ circling has significantly slowed now. Moras shoots for a takedown inside the final 30 seconds but Melo defends it perfectly and the round ends. Probably even going into the final round, 19-19.
Pattern of the fight is established by now, but Moras has thrown some leg kicks early on. More circling, more jabs and more straight rights from Melo that are just missing. Nice leg kicks land again and more jabs from Moras but there is no urgency really from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Bit of a flurry from both ladies in the final ten seconds but that was a fight I won’t be watching back again. 29-28 Moras for me.
Ramazan Emeev def David Zawada via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29 x2)
Competitive start to this fight as Zawada looks to take the centre of the cage and keep Emeev on the back foot. Emeev throws a beautiful right hand that instantly causes some swelling under Zawada’s eye. Zawada starts throwing some nice leg kicks and Emeev then starts shooting for the takedown and gets it. Zawada gets back up quickly but Emeev puts him back down again quickly and starts to land some nice ground and pound. Zawada eventually gets back up towards the end of the round but Emeev lands some huge strikes on the way up that rocks him! Emeev round for me. 10-9.
Early leg kick from Zawada in the second round and Emeev wobbles instantly, which forces him straight into the takedown attempt. He gets the fight down early on and Zawada accepts the full guard position, with Emeev landing some nice strikes from the top before Emeev explodes back up. Big one-two from Emeev lands clean but Zawada responds with two leg kicks and Emeev is struggling now. Another two takedown attempts from Emeev denied by Zawada as the round comes to a close. Close but Zawada’s for me. 19-19
Final round opens up with a beautiful takedown immediately from Emeev, as he tries to push Zawada towards the cage. Zawada very aggressive off his back, landing strikes and attempting submissions but Emeev very confident and calm to avoid and land some strikes of his own. Zawada gets the fight back to the feet and then gets a single leg of his own and ends up in side control. Emeev tries to scramble up to his feet but Zawada is able to move into full mount! Emeev escapes by giving his back and then reversing before both men get back to the feet for the final 90 seconds. Left hook from Emeev lands and it staggers Zawada but they stay standing in the centre of the cage. Final punch of the fight is a big right hand from Emeev, in what should be a decision win for him. 29-28 Emeev.
Carlos Felipe def Justin Tafa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Pretty slow fight early on with Felipe throwing jabs and feelers while Tafa looks to counter everything. A few leg kicks from Tafa land and then he rips a body kick too that lands clean. Felipe starts to load up his right hand but is missing a lot and Tafa looks very calm, firing a big left hand down the pipe. 10-9 Tafa after the first.
Big body kick lands to open the round from Tafa, but Felipe fires back with some big right hands to the body and follows up with some hooks. Felipe looks for a single leg but Tafa avoids it easily then lands a lovely left hook to the body before a left uppercut through the guard. Another big left body kick from Tafa and Felipe fires back with a right hook that misses wildly. Tafa throws a kick but Felipe comes forward and throws some big combinations that land clean and hurt Tafa! Shots to the body and Tafa is in pain and clinches to survive. Big right hand lands again and a big uppercut has Tafa wobbled but he fires back with a big shot of his own as the two engage when the round ends. 19-19, what a round!
A bit more of a tentative start to the final round as Felipe looks to up the pace once again. Both heavyweights are going forehead to forehead and swinging combinations to the head and body. Felipe misses with a straight right hand and Tafa changes levels to look for the takedown. They clinch against the cage, throwing body shots at each other before Felipe reverses the position and steps away from the cage. Tafa goes for a big trip and both men fall to the ground. Final 30 seconds and both men stand toe to toe and swing to bring the crowd to their feet! What a fight! 29-28 Felipe but could go either way.
Very intense and impressive first round as Wu Yanan looks to take the fight to the ground early but Edwards stays calm on her back. Suddenly Edwards switches her hips and looks for an armbar and Wu is in trouble! She defends well but the position is locked in for a good few minutes before Wu finally manages to escape before a scramble sees Edwards back on top for the end of the round. 10-9 Edwards.
Wu comes out in the second round more aggressive and lands lots of stabbing body kicks to keep Edwards away. Nice strikes land and Edwards looks hesitant now, but a big elbow lands and seemingly wakes her up. She starts charging forward and lands some big shots, forcing Wu to shoot for the takedown again but as they hit the floor Edwards reverses the position and starts landing big ground and pound. Edwards’ combos are causing problems for Wu and the round comes to an end. 20-18 Edwards in her debut.
Final round and it’s more of the same, as Edwards lands great kicks and powerful combinations but Wu keeps coming forward. Wu starting to pressure Edwards against the cage but Edwards staying very calm and responding with explosive power of her own. Final minute of the fight and Edwards still has gas in the tank and is coming forward now with aggression and speed. She fails with a takedown attempt at the buzzer but should have enough in the bank to get the win here. 30-27.
Punahele Soriano def Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1 (4:48)
Fun start to the main card as Todorovic and Soriano immediately trade bombs early on. Todorovic seems to be a bit quicker so far, landing nice jabs and using excellent head movement to evade the big shots of Soriano. Soriano throws a big head kick that Todorovic avoids by leaning back, before Soriano lands a big left hand. Soriano continues to march forward and lands a huge left hand that drops Todorovic! He looks to finish but Dusko tries to recover and grapple, but Soriano gets the referee to stand it up. Another big left hand against the cage and Todorovic is down again and without a mouth guard! The referee pauses the fight to get the mouth guard before Soriano steps forward and drops him again with a big left hand!! It’s all over! What a knockout!
Alessio Di Chirico def Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1 (2:12)
Buckley comes out quickly with lunging strikes and lots of power, as Di Chirico looks to use kicks to maintain distance. Buckley with some body attacks but Di Chirico is keeping his range well and lands a nice right hand of his own. The two clash in the centre and Di Chirico throws a big head kick that knocks Buckley out cold!! It’s over!! WOW!
Jingliang Li defSantiago Ponzinibbio via Knockout, Round 1 (4:25)
Cagey start to this one with both men respecting each other’s power and speed early on as they put out feelers together. Li is constantly moving, throwing some nice leg kicks but Ponzinibbio checks one or two of them. Lots of leg kicks from Li as Ponzinibbio is struggling to figure out the range right now. Li throws a right hand, left hook combo and Ponzinibbio IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!! WOW!!
Carlos Condit def Matt Brown via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Interesting start to the fight as Condit comes out with elbows and straight shots, while Brown parries and throws some leg kicks. Brown shoots for a takedown and gets it against the cage, but scrapes his head against the cage on the way down that cuts him open. Brown controls the position on the ground and lands some good strikes, but Condit keeps moving and eventually is able to switch the position and ends the round on top. 10-9 Brown.
Second round starts faster and Brown continues to step forward. Both charge at the same time and Brown lands a sharp elbow straight down the middle that rocks Condit! He gets his wits about him and lands a strong body kick that has Brown breathing heavy. Condit steps forward with a combo but Brown avoids and then Condit with a flying leg sweep takedown to end up on top. Nice ground and pound from Condit in the top position. He looks to pass into a crucifix position but Brown defending well and the round ends. 19-19 going into the final round.
Final round starts with a big cup shot from Condit that pauses the fight again. Nice combo attempts from Condit before Brown shoots for the takedown against the cage. Condit is able to reverse the position and ends up on Brown’s back landing nice ground and pound and looking for a rear-naked choke but Brown continues to defend. Both men get back to their feet and Condit looks to dump Brown down again but he reverses and ends the round in top position with both guys trading blows. Great fight, 29-28 Condit for me.
Max Holloway def Calvin Kattar via Unanimous Decision (50-43 x2, 50-42)
Holloway comes out busy in the opening round with jabs, low kicks, straights and body shots as he looks to ascertain his dominance early on. Holloway throws a nice combo as Kattar is still trying to adjust his range. Nice jab from Kattar immediately reddens the face of Holloway, and then another one lands for good measure. Significant speed difference right now between Holloway and Kattar, with ‘Blessed’ dominating the exchanges. Spinning back kick to the body lands followed by a straight right by Holloway. First round was a clinic. 10-9 Holloway.
Fast start to the second round from Holloway again as he just constantly throws strikes and keeps it moving. More combos from Holloway land flush but Kattar eats it and keeps walking forward. Nice straight right from Kattar lands flush on the chin but Holloway doesn’t flinch and keeps coming. Nice strike from Holloway drops Kattar, but he gets back up quickly before Holloway can react. Another nice right hand from Kattar but Holloway keeps coming forward. Kattar throws a body kick but Holloway catches it and drops Kattar with a right hand. Huge elbow from Holloway rocks Kattar but he stays on his feet. Holloway pouring it on looking for the finish and lands two more huge elbows. Big head kick wobbles Kattar again and as Holloway charges the buzzer goes. Wow. 20-17 Holloway.
‘Blessed’ comes out quickly again in the third with good strikes and combos. Another big combo from Holloway forces Kattar to clinch but Holloway steps away again. Holloway swings for the elbow again but misses and Kattar replies with a massive uppercut! Big right hand again from Kattar forces Holloway backwards but he steps forward again and lands more combos. Big one-twos land again, Kattar wobbling every time he gets hit clean. Holloway is reading Kattar’s shots, slipping them, showboating and then firing back with his own. This in an unbelievable performance. 30-26 Holloway.
More of the same in this fourth round as Holloway is showing no signs of slowing up. Nice body shots from Holloway are starting to hurt Kattar bad. Big elbow from Holloway again and Kattar is rocked against the cage. Holloway throwing body shots, knees, elbows, straights, uppercuts and all sorts as Kattar just refuses to hit the floor. Body kicks, head kicks, leg kicks and more violent elbows from Holloway but the round goes the full five minutes. Unbelievable performance from Holloway. 40-34.
Final round and Holloway is picking Kattar apart. More punches, more body shots, more kicks and now he’s talking to Kattar. He side steps a Kattar right hand and screams at the commentary desk that he’s the best boxer in the UFC then dodges another punch without even looking. More shots as he continues to showboat for the most one-sided main event I may have ever seen. 50-42 Holloway.
The UFC is finally back after a month away and kicks off on Fight Island with an absolute belter headlined by Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar in the featherweight division.
Both men are looking to make a case for the next title shot with a win, and are accompanied on the card by two legends in Carlos Condit and Matt Brown in the co-main event. Knockout of the year winner Joaquin Buckley also returns to action on the main card, taking on Alessio Di Chirico.
Punahele Soriano (7-0) vs Dusko Todorovic (10-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Two unbeaten studs go head to head in the middleweight division in the main card opener. Soriano won his UFC debut in December 2019 with a big knockout win, while Todorovic stopped Dequan Townsend in October in his own debut.
Soriano is a decent wrestler, who uses those skills to throw big shots with his hands and take people’s heads off. Todorovic is very similar, but better when it comes to the striking game. If his opponent looks to defend the strikes, he takes the opportunity to land a takedown and control from the top with ground and pound.
It’s a really well matched up fight and while neither have got huge wins in the UFC on their resumé, Todorovic seems to have a slight edge in the striking and a bigger edge in the overall grappling so I expect he’ll take the decision win. PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Decision
Joaquin Buckley (12-3) vs Alessio Di Chirico (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Arguably the fighter who made the biggest impression among MMA fans from the unknown in 2020, Joaquin Buckley returns to the octagon to take on a fighter on a three-fight losing streak at middleweight.
Buckley went 2-1 in the UFC last year, and showed a fantastic striking game that saw him walk opponents down and fire off heavy shots. His chin was tested and failed against Kevin Holland, but stood well against Impa Kasanganay and Jordan Wright. Di Chirico is well rounded and enjoys the clinch aspect of the fight, but he’s out-gunned everywhere for me here.
‘New Mansa’ wants to start the year with a bang and I think he does it early in this one. PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1
Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) vs Jingliang Li (17-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A return to the octagon for one of the highest rated welterweights in the company, as he steps into the cage for the first time since November 2018 to take on Jingliang Li.
Ponzinibbio is on a seven fight win streak, beating Neil Magny most recently, while Li lost his last fight in March 2020 to none other than Neil Magny. Ponzinibbio is a stunning striker who’s had so many injuries to his hands that we don’t know how this fight goes anymore. Li is a striker himself and has eight knockout wins in his career, but he is not on the level of a 100% Ponzinibbio.
Overhand strikes and powerful calf kicks, partnered up with super fast combinations is a devastating spell for Li. He’s never been knocked out, but he was dropped twice by Jake Matthews and if Ponzinibbio lands flush it could be night night. PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision
Carlos Condit (31-13) vs Matt Brown (22-17) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Co-main event time between two legendary welterweights. Carlos Condit was at one point considered the uncrowned champion, but had lost five in a row prior to his most recent fight – a win over Court McGee back in October. Brown has lost three of his last five, including his most recent fight when he got knocked out by Miguel Baeza.
Condit prefers to strike but is more than confident when it comes to grappling, while Brown leans more the opposite way. Stylistically the fight etches towards Condit, who has double digit wins in both knockouts and submissions throughout his career.
Both men are at the end of their careers in reality and the fight could go either way, but considering Brown’s last four defeats have all come via stoppage I think Condit gets it done with a submission following a knockdown. PICK – Carlos Condit via Submission, Round 2
Max Holloway (21-6) vs Calvin Kattar (22-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Both men are exceptional boxers and this fight will almost certainly take place exclusively on the feet, with Holloway using his footwork, jab and speed while Kattar looks to use his excellent jab and powerful hooks. Kattar is without doubt the more powerful fighter, but ‘Blessed’ has never been knocked down in his UFC career. He has out-struck every opponent he’s fought in recent memory barring Dustin Poirier during his brief stint at lightweight.
This is my pick for fight of the night and I think Holloway will be able to get it done. Kattar has never fought anyone as good as Holloway and won, while ‘Blessed’ has dispatched of fighters better than Kattar in the past with relative ease. Holloway will pick Kattar off as we go through five rounds and ease to a decision win. PICK – Max Holloway via Decision