Tag Archives: Edmen Shahbazyan

UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 282 as they will crown a brand new undisputed light heavyweight champion when Jan Blachowicz takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

Originally a three-round co-main, former champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Glover Teixeira and vacate his title after suffering a shoulder injury in training, which saw this fight bumped up to a title fight.

We’ll also see the UK’s own compete as Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till compete on the main card, while there is some deep prelim fights on the card too.

Last time out at UFC Orlando we had a shocking night, going 5/14 with just one perfect pick to move to 789/1227 (64.3%) with 325 perfect picks (41.19%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Chris Curtis (29-9) vs Joaquin Buckley (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A super fun fight in the middleweight division between two guys with real knockout power and a fan friendly style. Curtis saw his eight-fight win streak snapped in a relatively boring fight against Jack Hermansson at UFC London last time out. Buckley was on a three-fight win streak ahead of his last fight against Nassourdine Imavov, but lost a decision at UFC Paris.

Curtis’ nickname is Action Man and it suits his fight style. He likes to walk forward and use his excellent boxing skills to land strikes inside a close distance, while also using good wrestling to keep fights standing. Buckley is a powerhouse who has got great cardio, and explosive power that makes him capable of putting anyone’s lights out if necessary.

These two fighters are really well matched up. Curtis will likely go to the body more and use a variety of attacks, but Buckley is the man with more power and the more eye-catching moments without a doubt. Both should be able to hold up for the full 15 minutes, so I do expect it to go the distance. With that said, Buckley is the more active guy and I think he’ll edge it on the cards.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Decision

Edmen Shahbazyan (11-3) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (11-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

More middleweight action up next. Shahbazyan was the next big thing before he ran into Derek Brunson to suffer his first professional loss (UFC Vegas 5), and has since lost two more against Hermansson and Imavov (UFC 268) to make it three in a row. Lungiambula has lost four of his last five, including his last three in a row too, dropping a decision to Marc-Andre Barriault, getting submitted by Cody Brundage and knocked out by Punahele Soriano most recently.

Shahbazyan is a world-class kickboxer with great movement, excellent footwork and solid power, but his chin has absolutely been tested recently and his takedown defence is a massive glaring hole in his game. Lungiambula is a decent wrestler with great power striking, but some weird techniques that leave him open to counter striking from his opponent.

There are still plenty of tools and lots of time in the favour of Shahbazyan and this is the perfect fight for him to get back on track. He’s excellent on the feet and will have a big edge there, and while Lungiambula could take him down his top game isn’t the best and “Golden Boy” should feel as though he can get back up. Shahbazyan could put on a striking clinic, and I think a big head kick lands in the first half of the fight for a win.
PICK – Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 1



Raul Rosas Jr (6-0) vs Jay Perrin (10-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The youngest fighter on the UFC roster makes his debut in this one. Rosas Jr earned a contract on the Contender Series as a 17-year-old back in September to move to 6-0, while Perrin has lost his last two against Mario Bautista and most recently Aoriqileng (UFC 278).

Rosas Jr is a spectacular grappler with som excellent wrestling and really good top control, able to pass guard and transition to new positions quickly and accurately to go with his ground and pound skills. Perrin is a well-rounded fighter with good boxing and power, plus a solid bit of wrestling in his back pocket to go with it. He’s also far more experienced than Rosas, which could have a huge say.

With that said though, Rosas looked at home on the Contender Series and had some serious skills. If he can stay composed, he has the size and length to cause problems. Perrin will surely look to overwhelm him early on, but Rosas looks special and I think this is the beginning of his journey.
PICK – Raul Rosas Jr via Submission, Round 3

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-4) vs Chris Daukaus (12-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Ranked heavyweights go at it in the featured prelim bout of this card. Rozenstruik has lost his last two in a row, dropping a decision against Curtis Blaydes at UFC 266 before getting knocked out by Alexander Volkov most recently back in June. Daukaus on the other hand saw his great start to the company shattered by the first of Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 45, before Curtis Blaydes KO’d him in March too.

Rozenstruik is a power puncher, straight like that, but he has also got good kicks and a decent kickboxing game too. Daukaus is a jiu-jitsu wizard on the mat, but he’s also got good boxing and terrific hand speed for a man of his size. It’s quite clear how this fight plays out in my mind. Daukaus will hang around on the outside looking to pop his jab and use combinations, then quickly close the distance to look to use his big advantage on the ground.

“Bigi Boy” is going to have to find a way to avoid that, and his best bet for that is to walk forward and set the pace of the fight. He has the type of power that ends the fight in an instant, just ask Alistair Overeem, but he was getting handily beaten in that fight. Daukaus is capable of putting together a performance like Volkov did last time out and just using sheer volume to overwhelm him before getting a finish on the mat.
PICK – Chris Daukaus via Submission, Round 2

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ode Osbourne def CJ Vergara via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start to this fight with both guys staying in range and feinting a lot before exploding into strikes. Osbourne lands a nice left hand and then attempts a jump knee that just misses. Another left from Osbourne but Vergara trying to flick his jab and land hooks. Check-hook from Vergara lands but Osbourne rolls with it and replies with a strong right straight. Nice right hand from Vergara but neither fighter landing particularly flush yet. Osbourne goes for a takedown but Vergara gets himself to the cage and is able to defend it as we enter the final minute of the round. More close exchanges from both fighters before a strong right hand and head kick lands from Vergara right at the end of the round. 10-9 Osbourne for me, but close.

Vergara taking charge of the second round as we begin, stepping forward and throwing strong strikes on the inside. Osbourne starting to throw kicks to try and get some distance back between the two of them, but Vergara is doing well. Nice hook from Osbourne lands but Vergara replies with a left hand of his own. Osbourne growing into the round, landing his left hand more and busting up the nose of Vergara. Osbourne changes levels in the middle of an exchange to go for a takedown but Vergara defends really well. Osbourne continuing to throw combinations to the head and Vergara is slowing down. Front kick to the head just misses from Vergara, then he attempts another and Osbourne catches it and takes him down to end the round. 20-18 Osbourne.

Vergara trying to empty the tank in the final round, possibly feeling as though he’s behind, and Osbourne is starting to counter more and more. Two big left hands land and he drops Vergara, but he gets back up immediately and continues to step forward applying pressure. Osbourne goes for some takedown attempts but Vergara denies them and continues to walk him down. Vergara and Osbourne clinch in the middle and then Vergara trips him and ends up on top in Osbourne’s full guard. Osbourne is visibly tiring but is trying to tie him up to stall, but Vergara lands a big elbow from the top. More ground and pound attempts from Vergara but Osbourne is shifting his hips and looking to set up submissions. Vergara lands three big elbows from the top as we enter the final minute and now Osbourne is trying to get up to his feet. Vergara is able to pin him down and lands some more ground strikes but the round comes to an end and Osbourne should claim the tight decision win. 29-28 Osbourne for me.

Melsik Baghdasaryan def Bruno Souza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Slow start to the fight with both guys feeling each other out early on, as Melsik lands two nice low kicks inside the first minute. Baghdasaryan starting to walk Souza down against the cage, but not much action so far. Souza goes for a jump knee but misses, before Baghdasaryan lands a nice left hand. Souza tries to create some distance with a few body kicks but Baghdasaryan showing real disdain for his power and walking him down with his hands really low. Souza shoots for a takedown after eating another hard low kick, but Baghdasaryan denies it excellently and they separate. Spinning kick from Baghdasaryan causes Souza to lose balance before a hard body kick, but Souza is struggling with speed and distance. 10-9 Melsik.

Souza opens up with a right hand but Baghdasaryan stepping forward again and just forcing him to fight on the back foot. Another hard low kick from Melsik, and another. Souza doing a lot of moving but not much else and Melsik currently seems content just to outwork him for a win. Melsik lands a nice overhand left but the two clinch and then separate. Another left hand lands and Souza lands two nice jabs, before Melsik evades and lands a beautiful uppercut-left hook combo. End of the second round, 20-18 Baghdasaryan.

Final round and Souza trying to come forward to claim the initiative. Baghdasaryan throwing low kicks and forcing Souza to switch stances a lot and buckling the leg. Lots of hesitation from both guys so far, before a strong knee from Souza. A longer exchange sees Baghdasaryan land a nice left hand. Entering the final minute and Souza goes for a takedown but once again Baghdasaryan defends it really well and kicks him away. More movement from both guys before a big right hand lands from Baghdasaryan and a final exchange before the bell. 30-27 Baghdasaryan for me. Not a great fight.

Dustin Jacoby def John Allan via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Very intriguing start to this fight with both guys standing right in front of each other and trading blows. Jacoby using his jab well and landing some low kicks, but Allan is throwing them too and landing them much heavier. Battle of the low kicks so far but Jacoby’s hands flowing much better and landing more fluently. Strong body kick from Allan followed up by a jab, but Jacoby is growing in confidence. Hard strikes from both again, but Jacoby has a slight speed advantage it seems. Head kick attempt from Jacoby just misses, then he follows up with a hard low kick again. Hard right hand from Jacoby right on the buzzer ends an entertaining round. 10-9 Jacoby.

Both guys throwing out hard low kicks once again in this second round. Jacoby’s jab starting to get through the guard of Allan, but neither guy going anywhere currently. Nice one-two from Jacoby but Allan steps forward and lands a nice left hand. Allan starting to apply more pressure and Jacoby is slowing down, but he’s still landing his jabs well. Allan getting more physical as he walks forward but Jacoby counters with a good one-two and a right hand down the middle. Final minute of the round and Allan pouring the pressure on, which causes a second accidental eye poke of the fight by Jacoby. The referee decides it’s accidental and the fight resumes without further punishment for 30 seconds before it ends. 20-18.

Final round and Jacoby is landing his leg kicks well and throwing the jab out there once again. Allan on the front foot trying to pressure Jacoby, but his counters are quick and his movement still good enough to evade. Nice right hand lands from Allan knocks his mouthpiece out but Jacoby not hurt by it. Nice right hand lands down the pipe from Jacoby as we approach the half-way point of the final round. Allan continuing with the hard pressure to force Jacoby backwards but not throwing enough output right now. Head kick from Jacoby lands but is partially blocked as we enter the final minute. Nice body shot from Allan but Jacoby responds with three or four strikes to earn marks with the judges and the round comes to an end. 30-27 Jacoby.

Chris Barnett def Gian Villante via Knockout, Round 2 (3:22)

Some front kicks to the body attempted early on by Villante but they all miss, before Barnett lands a low kick. More low kicks from Barnett land but very little output from these two guys so far. Villante lands a nice body kick finally, before Barnett lands a nice body kick of his own and then they trade low kicks. Left hook lands for Villante but everything is singular right now from both guys. Villante looks for a head kick before Barnett counters with an uppercut and then blitzes forward with four strikes. Spin kick to the body by Barnett lands before the two fighters clinch up to end the round. 10-9 Barnett, but could be anything.

Another slow start to the round before Barnett throws a double spin kick that lands and gets a reaction from the crowd. Barnett throws a nice overhand right that lands, but Villante looks slow and goes for a head kick that misses. Barnett throws a wheel kick to the head and drops Villante! He follows him up with some heavy ground and pound strikes and Villante is just covering up and the referee stops it! Huge win for Barnett!

PRELIMS

Ian Garry def Jordan Williams via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Garry goes in for a low kick and Williams counters with a fierce one-two that wobbles him! Garry recovers quickly and goes for another leg kick, but Williams lands another big one-two that snaps his head back. Williams staying patient though and looking to counter more. Nice body kick from Garry lands as he circles on the outside. Williams goes in for a big shot but over-reaches and misses then grabs a leg to engage a takedown against the cage. Garry defends it well and then switches the position briefly to gain some control as they battle in the clinch. Nice knee from Garry in the clinch to the head before a hard right hand lands on the break. Hard left high kick lands from Garry, but Williams drops his hands and continues to walk forward. Garry looking to counter and just about avoiding big strikes. Williams goes in for a big left hand that he slips and then lands a huge right straight that puts Williams out!! He lands a follow up and walks off before the referee waves it off! What a knockout! Wow!

Nassourdine Imavov def Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 2 (4:42)

Lots of feinting early on between these two, as Shahbazyan lands a few hard low kicks. Imavov pushes Shahbazyan against the cage with pressure and lands a hard right hand, but Shahbazyan throws another hard low kick. Shahbazyan landing hard low kicks and he buckles Imavov’s leg with one, but Imavov responds with a hard right hand too. Clinch against the cage and Shahbazyan goes for a takedown and eventually gets it, but Imavov sinks in a guillotine! Shahbazyan is able to escape and gets back to the top position before they get back to the feet. Clinch against the cage and Imavov lands a big elbow before Shahbazyan switches the position and sees the round out. 10-9 Shahbazyan for me.

Another hard low kick by Shahbazyan and he’s getting reactions from Imavov for it now. Nice body work from Shahbazyan but Imavov looking to turn the pressure up a little in this second round, as they cinch up against the cage. Shahbazyan goes for a takedown again but Imavov looking for a standing guillotine and it looks really tight but Shahbazyan just about escapes! He drops down for another takedown and once again leaves his neck hanging out and Imavov takes it for a big submission but again Shahbazyan shows great heart to survive and escape! Imavov looks for a takedown and Shahbazyan takes his neck but he is able to switch sides and relieve the pressure. Shahbazyan is exhausted now and Imavov lands some huge elbows! He transitions on the ground into a crucifix position and lands some huge elbows until the referee calls an end to the fight! What a performance!

Chris Curtis def Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:27)

Good start to the fight for Hawes as he steps forward and lands some powerful shots down the middle and some brilliant front kicks. Hawes keeping the pace high and throwing lots of combinations, ripping body kicks and hard right hands to the face. Curtis tries to fire back but Hawes is too quick and too powerful so far, just throwing lots of shots and constantly stepping forward. Hawes lands a nice overhand right and fakes a level change too to keep Curtis guessing. Hawes looks brilliant so far, but Curtis counters a right hand with a left hook to the body. Both guys throw at the same time and Curtis lands a brilliant left hand straight to the chin that wobbles Hawes!! He goes for the finish and lands a knee to the body, then they separate and Hawes just falls to the ground! The referee steps in and it’s all over! What a comeback win!!

Bobby Green def Al Iaquinta via Knockout, Round 1 (2:25)

Fast start to the fight from both guys with Iaquinta stepping forward and looking to box, but Green standing with his hands low and using his great shoulder roll defence. Nice right hand lands from Green as he moves away from Iaquinta and avoids more strikes. Iaquinta steps forward and Green lands a left jab with a straight right hand behind it that drops Iaquinta!! He stuffs a takedown attempt and then rains down ground and pound until the referee steps in! Huge win for Green!

Alex Pereira def Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 2 (0:18)

Both guys starting on the feet with distance and looking to land low kicks. Pereira goes for a one-two but Michailidis ducks under it and shoots in for a takedown. Pereira looks to defend it well but Michailidis overpowers him and gets him down to the mat. He looks to take his back and get some shots in, but Pereira defends it really well and gets back to his feet. The referee separates them after a lack of action, but then Michailidis goes straight back in for the takedown and they remain in a clinch against the cage for the rest of the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Pereira comes out early with a head kick attempt. Michailidis fakes a level change and Pereira comes up with a flying knee and puts him out!! He follows up with one shot and then the referee ends it! Wow!

MAIN CARD

Justin Gaethje def Michael Chandler via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Gaethje opens up with a low kick that just misses and then Chandler lands a nice left hand. Gaethje slips a right hand and counters with one of his own, then lands a leg kick that wobbles Chandler. Chandler lands a hard leg kick of his own and then they exchange. Chandler lands a huge right hand in the exchange and both men are trying to take the other’s head off. Hard low kicks being exchanged and then Chandler lands a big right hand but Gaethje eats it! Both men land a jab and then Gaethje lands a hard low kick. Huge left hook from Gaethje lands and then Chandler lands a flush one two! Gaethje is hurt and Chandler goes for a flying knee! Chandler goes for the kill and wobbles Gaethje, but he fires back and now Chandler is hurt! Big hooks from Gaethje and Chandler eats it! Gaethje lands some huge uppercuts and Chandler is hurt! Huge right hand from Gaethje again, Chandler is exhausted and shoots for a takedown but Gaethje stuffs it! What a round! I have no idea how to score that!

More of the same in the second as Gaethje looks to counter Chandler’s jab with a hard one-two. Chandler fighting behind his jab now but Gaethje is countering brilliantly. Big right hand from Gaethje and then an uppercut. Hard left hook from Gaethje and then a massive uppercut drops Chandler! He goes for the finish but Chandler grabs onto a single leg and just stalls him to try and recover. Gaethje finally gets back to his feet and starts teeing off on Chandler again. Big uppercut from Chandler but Gaethje eats it, then stuffs a takedown. Chandler kicks off the cage with a superman punch that lands flush, but Gaethje lands a hard leg kick and Chanlder is wobbled. Hard right hand again from Gaethje and then Chandler lands a hard right hand, but seems to poke Gaethje and the referee pauses it. Quick restart and then the end of the round. Gaethje round with the knockdown. Amazing fight.

Hard low kick early in the third from Gaethje again and Chandler is suffering with it. Gaethje’s right hand lands, but then Chandler lands one and has to eat a huge leg kick again. Chandler starts working to the body and then Gaethje lands a big left hook and a hard leg kick. Gaethje follows up with two huge hooks and then Chandler shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Gaethje scrambles out and ends up on top landing ground and pound. Chandler egging Gaethje on and he’s getting absolutely smashed now. Gaethje throwing huge hooks and Chandler is literally walking through him like a terminator! This is insane! Final minute and both men are exhausted but it’s Gaethje coming forward and that is the end of the night! What an incredible fight. Absolutely amazing. Gaethje wins for me. Insane.

Shane Burgos def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast start to this one as Burgos starts popping his jab and landing some hard low kicks. Nice right hand from Burgos lands and Quarantillo starts to get a little wilder and just misses with a jump knee. Burgos lands a jab, low kick and then grabs a body lock to try and control Quarantillo. A few knees each in the exchange and both guys are landing huge shots now. Burgos slipping with a big right hand, but Quarantillo’s jab is doing damage and busting the nose of Burgos up. Lots of low kicks from Burgos but Quarantillo still coming forward. Both guys trading hooks and Burgos gets the better of it and then Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown. Well defended by Burgos and then they separate. Burgos lands a huge right hand that drops Quarantillo to one knee and then he smashes him while he’s down but he just eats the shot. More back and forth as the round ends. 10-9 Burgos for me.. just.

Huge right hand from Burgos to start the round but Quarantillo returns with a big overhand right of his own. He pressures forward and just misses with a spinning back fist, and then Burgos digs to the body and lands a hard right hand. Quarantillo throwing jabs relentlessly but Burgos slipping some and then lands a hard low kick that drops Quarantillo down again. Quarantillo looking to be physical in the clinch but Burgos holding his own and then lands a nice hook to the body. Clinch again and Quarantillo just seems a physically stronger guy and is having his way here. Burgos lands two big hooks and then a hard low kick as Quarantillo misses with a wild overhand right. Quarantillo goes for a takedown but it’s denied and then they exchange big strikes again. Hard low kick again from Burgos but Quarantillo lands a flush right hand. Burgos starts slamming his shots in and Quarantillo is hurt! Burgos slamming in low kicks and smashing him with right hooks but the buzzer goes! Unbelievable fight! 20-18 Burgos for me but it’s close.

Final round and Burgos wants the kill. He’s stepping forward and landing his right hand, with the low kicks absolutely taking their toll now on Quarantillo who’s struggling to stand. Burgos lands a hard right hand again but Quarantillo clinches up after some failed takedown attempts. Quarantillo looking for some haymakers but Burgos is slipping and countering with short shots and now winning the clinch exchanges against a one-legged Quarantillo. Quarantillo shoots in for a takedown but again Burgos defends it well. Quarantillo trips him but Burgos jumps back up immediately and they start trading strikes again. Burgos chops at the leg again but Quarantillo responds with a big uppercut and then they clinch again exchanging knees. Wild flurry from both men at the end but Burgos should take the W.

Marlon Vera def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 3 (3:50)

Fast start from Edgar as he steps forward with a nice right hand and then a level change to attempt the takedown, but Vera stuffs it. Vera taking the centre and throws a hard body kick that Edgar catches, but he again denies the trip attempt. Edgar bouncing around a lot and Vera staying calm in the centre. Edgar shoots for the takedown scrambles his way to the top and starts looking for ground and pound in the centre of the cage. Edgar lands some short elbows and starts going to the body, but Vera is landing some heavy elbows from the bottom too. Vera defending well from the bottom, but Edgar controlling the position and then lands another big elbow. Big upkicks from Vera land and Edgar drops down to his knee and back into full guard to work the short elbows. Edgar ends the round on top and Vera looking for an upkick. 10-9 Edgar.

Hard low kick from Vera at the start of the second and then a great left hand lands as they exchange strikes. Edgar lands a nice right hand over the top as Vera fires back with a right cross. Edgar changes levels and gets the takedown, but Vera immediately throws hard elbows to the head and lands some upkicks from the bottom too. Edgar stacking him and moving to get into full guard and attack with ground and pound but Vera rolls through and gets back to his feet. Vera denies another takedown from Edgar but he’s starting to walk forward now and trying to cut the cage off. Hard knee from Vera up the middle grazes Edgar and then a big left hand behind it. Vera closing the distance and lands another knee that drops Edgar momentarily. Low kick from Edgar lands hard and then a big right hand lands on the chin of Vera. Vera lands a short elbow that wobbles Edgar and then goes for another big knee right at the end of the round. 19-19 for me!

Both guys a little more hesitant in this final round to start, knowing it’s a close fight. Vera is pushing forward a lot now and forcing Edgar backwards to close distance. Edgar goes for a takedown but Vera stuffs it and makes him eat a nice left uppercut. Hard low kick from Vera lands and then a hard front kick to the body again. Jab lands from Vera but Edgar lands a nice body shot in return. Vera closing distance and he lands a hard left hook. Edgar goes for the takedown and gets it but Vera gets back up to his feet quickly and continues the pressure. Vera throws a HUGE front kick to the face and Edgar is out!!! Wow!!! What a knockout win!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

Three hard outside leg kicks land from Zhang early on in the opening round, with Namajunas taking the centre and feeling her opponent out. Zhang lands another low kick, before Namajunas throws a low kick of her own then blitzes forward with some nice strikes to the face. Namajunas stepping forward again and lands another low kick followed by a left hook, before Zhang shoots for a takedown and gets it. Namajunas grappling well and defending her position on her back, but Zhang using her physicality to get on top and land some good strikes. Rose sweeps and gets back to her feet really well. Zhang throwing haymakers but Namajunas quick enough to evade so far and lands a few low kicks for good measure. Weili slips and Namajunas throws a beautiful right hand clean as the round ends. Close, but I think it’s 10-9 Zhang.

Namajunas moving well early in this second round and she lands a nice one-two that ends with a low kick that gets a reaction from Zhang. Namajunas threatening with the high kick from the first fight, but Zhang lands a big combination. Namajunas responds with one of her own though and Zhang just misses with her own head kick. Namajunas lands a left hook as Zhang lands another hard leg kick. Another hard leg kick from Zhang, but Namajunas still moving very well. Zhang lands a big right hand that wobbles Namajunas, who responds with a big head kick! Namajunas goes for another head kick but Zhang catches it and takes her down to the mat. Namajunas lands a big upkick, but then Zhang replies with a big strike from the top position before they get back to the feet. Namajunas with an outside trip for a takedown of her own and she moves into full mount but the buzzer ends her chances of success. Another very close round. 19-19.

Third round and Namajunas feinting a lot and making Zhang miss with a wild hook. Both women trade low kicks and then go back to bouncing and feinting each other. Zhang misses big with a few hooks, but Namajunas trying to counter and just missing herself. Hard low kick from Namajunas and then she slips out of the way of a big right hand. Hard right hand from Namajunas again but Zhang responds with a big low kick and then a body kick. Big exchange and Namajunas lands a left hook and low kick combination that drops Zhang! She looks to finish but Zhang clinches up and recovers against the cage before they trade low kicks again. Overhand right from Zhang but Namajunas counters with a left hook, right hand. Zhang fires back with a huge left hook that lands flush, but Namajunas still there. Zhang goes for a takedown and gets it, now tries to transition to the back. Namajunas is able to defend until the buzzer, but that’s a Zhang round. 29-28.

Championship rounds and they’re going for it! Zhang looks for a hook and Namajunas lands a big right hand that stuns Zhang! Namajunas lands it twice more and then Zhang catches a kick and takes the fight to the mat, but Namajunas with upkicks get back up immediately. Namajunas goes for a right hand but Zhang shoots in and gets the back of Namajunas again. Namajunas staying calm though and defends it well, then sweeps and explodes to get top position. Decend ground and pound strikes from Namajunas on top and Zhang fighting to control her. Namajunas on top and lands a big left hand as the round comes to an end. 38-38 going into the final round for me!

Final round and Zhang going for the leg kicks once again. Zhang goes for a big strike but Namajunas slips it and then flies into a takedown with a big outside trip. Namajunas lands a big strike on the ground and is controlling from top position and Zhang looks very tired. Zhang looking for upkicks but Namajunas able to avoid damage and trying to move to side control now. Zhang gets it back to full guard and is throwing elbows from the bottom as well as upkicks now. Namajunas however staying calm and controlling position as we enter the final minute. Nice elbows from the bottom but then Namajunas stands, lands a leg kick to a downed Zhang and then a big left hand to go back into guard to see the round out on top. That should see her retain the belt! What a fight!

Kamaru Usman def Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)

Early jab lands for Usman with both fighters far more cautious in the opening moments of this fight than their first. Usman pressuring forward and forcing Covington backwards, who just misses with a wild left hand. Covington goes for a takedown and Usman immediately rolls through it, takes the controlling position and then they get to the feet. Hard left hand lands for Covington but Usman eats it and looking to land his jab again. Usman steps in to strike but Covington moves and lands a good left hand. Usman shoots for the takedown as Covington looks to blitz, but Covington able to get back up immediately too. Covington throwing a straight left well, but Usman eating it and fires back with a right hand of his own. Nice left by Covington again as the round ends. Close one, 10-9 Covington.

Usman opens the round up with a nice left hook but Covington staying calm and fighting a slower pace than either usually fight at. Covington goes for a left hand and Usman clinches up, with boy guys trading body shots before they separate. Big body shot from Usman and Colby just misses with a left hand. Hard low kick from Covington but Usman responds with a body kick and a jab. Big right hand from Covington lands and then he changes levels for a takedown, but Usman defends it really well against the cage and muscles his way out of it. Usman by far the more aggressive so far and leading the fight. Usman lands a big left hook that drops Covington! Colby gets back up but Usman lands another hard left hand that drops him again. Covington grabbed on to a leg and survived 15 seconds until the bell. Mad. 19-19 for me, but Usman could be 20-18 up.

Round three and Usman taking the centre again and staying patient. Using the jab well again but then Covington lands a big one-two that lands clean. Usman pawing away with the jab as both guys fake takedown attempts. Covington lands a body kick but Usman just walking him down and lands a nice right hand. Covington lands a big left hand clean and then goes for a takedown but Usman defends it with ease and lands some ground strikes from the front headlock position. Big body kick from Usman and then a straight right hand. Both guys trading strikes and Usman lands a nice right hand before going back to his jab. Covington lands a few big left hands and then finally secures a late takedown with a trip and a few strikes before the buzzer. 29-28 Usman.

Championship rounds now and Usman seems to have lost a little focus. Covington landing his left hand well and clean. Nice jab from Covington before Usman throws a wild hook to the body. Covington lands a left hand and just misses with an uppercut. Covington lands the big left hand again and then follows up with a jab, right hand and left hook again! Usman stays calm though and responds with some big right hands of his own and this is becoming more like the first fight now. Usman lands a big right hand but Covington now taking the centre. Covington lands a big body kick and then three or four big left hands that have Usman wobbled. Covington goes for a takedown but Usman defends against the cage. Nice strikes from Covington and then a big left hand wobbles Usman right on the buzzer!! Wow! 38-38 going into the final round!

Final round and Usman looking to work the body, but Covington looking to land his left hand again. Usman lands a nice right hand before Covington lands two big lefts and Usman starts wobbling again! Covington shoots for a takedown and Usman stuffs it well, then lands a great jab once they’re back on the feet. Head kick from Usman lands but then Covington lands a nice left hand again. Covington goes for a head kick but Usman slips and then Covington goes for a takedown again. Usman defends and keeps it against the cage. Covington lands a big elbow as they break but Usman stepping forward in the final minute with his jab. Usman looks to evade a strike but gets a finger in the eye accidentally with 40 seconds left to pause the action. Head kick from Usman and they trade strikes until the final buzzer. What a fight. Who knows what the score is.

UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 – Prelims predictions

An absolute banger of a card takes place from Madison Square Garden this weekend as UFC 268 finally is upon us.

A welterweight championship rematch headlines the card as Kamaru Usman looks to lap the division when he takes on Colby Covington in the main event, while Rose Namajunas is looking to bring some stability to strawweight but she’ll have to dispatch of Weili Zhang once again in the co-main.

We also have violence guaranteed in the main card opener between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler in a lightweight contender bout.

Last week at UFC 267 we had a great night, picking 12/14 fights correctly with four perfect picks to move us up to 458/716 (63.97%) with 194 perfect picks (42.36%).

We’ll look to continue that good momentum with this 14-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, we complete our prelim picks now.


Ian Garry (7-0) vs Jordan Williams (9-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A super exciting bout at welterweight as Cage Warriors’ Ian Garry makes his debut. Garry is an undefeated prospect who claimed the belt in the UK’s premiere promotion, with four knockout wins in his career. Williams on the other hand has lost each of his last two, getting tapped out by Micky Gall in his last bout.

Garry is an excellent striker with good range, with some good takedown and mat skills including vicious ground-and-pound and good submission skills too. Williams is also a decent striker with some solid wrestling, but it just hasn’t clicked together for him yet and he’s a few levels below Garry at this point in their careers.

‘The Future’ has great finishing instincts whether it be on the feet or mat, but he won’t rush into it at all. He likes to stay patient on the feet using his range, but he’s also capable of taking the fight down to the mat and grinding wins out. Williams has good power and could always land a big punch, but I expect Garry to control this from start to finish and even secure a finish after 10-15 minutes of punishment.
PICK – Ian Garry via Knockout, Round 3

Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (10-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very intriguing middleweight bout here as the young prospect looks to get back to winning ways. Shahbazyan was one hell of a prospect, but has since suffered back-to-back defeats against Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 5 and then Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 27. Imavov earned an impressive win over Ian Heinisch last time out too, putting his stock at an all-time high.

Shahbazyan is one of the better kickboxers in the middleweight division, with brilliant striking accuracy and clean technique. Imavov is also a great striker on the feet, who has shown an excellent knack of getting off his back quickly when taken down. That shouldn’t come into play here, with a striker’s paradise likely to take place.

Shahbazyan’s cardio has caused him a lot of problems recently and Imavov has the ability to push a pace. In a stand-up battle, I think he has the advantage in power but if he doesn’t score a first-round knockout the performance tends to fall off a cliff and Imavov has more than enough about him to hurt him and pour the pressure on. Ultimately, Shahbazyan could win it but Imavov is too good of an opponent on this occasion and will take over as the fight goes on to claim a victory.
PICK – Nassourdine Imavov via Decision

Phil Hawes (11-2) vs Chris Curtis (26-8) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight bout next that was supposed to take place last month. Curtis agreed to fight at UFC Vegas 39 on super-short notice after Deron Winn withdrew, only for Hawes to decline the opponent change. Hawes is on a seven-fight win streak, with a decision over Kyle Daukaus most recently at UFC Vegas 24, while Curtis makes his UFC debut in this one on a five-fight win streak.

Hawes is an excellent wrestler with scary power in his hands, capable of turning out the lights on anyone in the division. Curtis on the other hand is a powerful striker himself with decent wrestling in his back pocket. The big issue for Curtis however is that he’s fighting up a weight class against someone who’s huge for the division.

Curtis has a nasty left hand, but Hawes’ right hand should scare him into using it too much and the wrestling of Hawes is likely to be able to keep Curtis relatively quiet. He’s a great fighter and deserves his chance, but he’s been fed to the wolves here. If Hawes controls the pace, he earns a wide decision using his size and physicality to earn another victory.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Decision



Al Iaquinta (14-6-1) vs Bobby Green (27-12-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A bout between two vets of the MMA world in this one. Iaquinta is fighting for the first time since 2019 when he was beaten by Dan Hooker, while Green has been super active recently but is currently on a two-fight losing streak with decision defeats to Thiago Moises at UFC Vegas 12 and then Rafael Fiziev at UFC 265.

Iaquinta is a strong wrestler with okay boxing skills, who’s best skills are arguably mental rather than technical. Green on the other hand has shown some excellent boxing and wrestling skills too, with solid cardio and great defensive abilities. This fight will not be a showcase of elite skills, but more a bout between two guys who love a scrap and can grind it out.

Green’s the better striker by a bit of a distance here and with their wrestling pretty evenly matched, I expect ‘King’ to be able to go the distance with him. Green has gone to the judges in each of his last ten fights and I expect him to land the cleaner strikes to earn himself a close decision win once again.
PICK – Bobby Green via Decision

Alex Pereira (3-1) vs Andreas Michailidis (13-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A UFC debut for the two-weight Glory kickboxing champion who once knocked Israel Adesanya out cold headlines the prelims of this card. Pereira is in the UFC off name value alone, but he has three KO wins in a row in his last three. Michailidis fell out of the cage to get the fight stopped in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 1, before earning a decision win last time out at UFC Vegas 25 against KB Bhullar.

Pereira is a world renowned kickboxer, with tremendous power and unmatched technique with his striking. Michailidis alternatively is a bit of a mixed bag, with okay striking and okay wrestling but not much else going for him. Put it this way, there is a reason why the UFC have made this fight and put it in this slot at Madison Square Garden.

‘Poatan’ has a size advantage in height and reach, an insane power advantage and an unreal advantage when it comes to the stand up game. Michailidis will undoubtedly look for takedowns, but his cardio has caused him a lot of problems in the past so even if he gets one it’s not over. Pereira pieces him up on the feet and finds a highlight reel knockout with his killer left-hook to close the show.
PICK – Alex Pereira via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 27: Font vs Garbrandt – Main card predictions

Bantamweights lead the way at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend when Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt go toe to toe in the main event.

The number three and four ranked 135lbers in the world will battle it out to give UFC president Dana White a headache when it comes to the top of the division right now, as ‘No Love’ looks to prove he really is back while Font looks to prove he’s a real contender among the elite.

Elsewhere on the card Yan Xiaonan takes on Carla Esparza in the co-main event to potentially determine the next contender for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title, while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan meet in their delayed middleweight scrap too.

Last week at UFC 262 we didn’t have the best of nights prediction wise, going 6/12 with two perfect picks to move up to 314/494 (63.56%) with 136 perfect picks (43.31%).

We’ll look to improve that here with this 13-fight card, and after picking the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move onto the main card now.


Jack Hermansson (21-6) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fight that could easily have been a headline bout this time last year opens up the main card as the veteran Jack Hermansson takes on the prospect Shahbazyan in the middleweight division. Hermansson was on a decent run before getting knocked out by Jared Cannonier, before he bounced back with a very quick heel hook win over Kelvin Gastelum then got dominated by Marvin Vettori last time out. Shahbazyan was on an absolute tear himself, before his first main event against Derek Brunson saw him get dominated and finished in the third round.

Hermansson is one of the best grapplers in the division, with a sneaky submission game and fantastic top control once he gets on top, while Shahbazyan is as pure a striker as they come in the division with sensational kickboxing. Hermansson will be happy to stand if he can keep the distance short, but if he gets hold of him will almost certainly look to put him on his back.

While Shahbazyan has got great talent for all to see, his hype has made people forget he’s only 23. He’s in no rush to hit the top of the mountain right now and I think he still has holes in his game that ‘Joker’ can expose and I think he’ll get the win here.
PICK – Jack Hermansson via Knockout, Round 2

David Dvorak (19-3) vs Raulian Paiva (20-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A potential fight of the night at flyweight here as two 125lbers look to break into the top ten of the rankings with a big win. Dvorak has won 15 fights in a row, including wins over Bruno Silva and then Jordan Espinosa in 2020, while Paiva bounced back from consecutive defeats to earn back-to-back wins over Mark De La Rosa and then Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 251.

Dvorak is a special grappler, with good striking to set up his takedowns where he will look to control position and eventually try and get to the back and look for chokes. Paiva on the other hand is a super striker with quick hands and great kicks, who’s ground game is okay but not so much when it’s against someone like Dvorak. ‘The Undertaker’ is relentless with his pressure and can hold his own on the feet too, meaning those kicks Paiva throws leave him susceptible to getting them caught and taken down.

Paiva could win the striking battle on the feet, but Dvorak will win any grappling battles on the mat and that’s where the difference lies. For me, Dvorak gets the fight down and controls position to nullify the threat of Paiva for a wide decision win.
PICK – David Dvorak via Decision

Felicia Spencer (8-2) vs Norma Dumont (5-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The first ladies on the card get a nice spot on the main card as former title challenger Felicia Spencer looks to get back in the win column against Norma Dumont. Spencer took ‘Cyborg’ to a decision in a losing effort before beating Zarah Fairn dos Santos via KO in the first round to set up a defeat to Amanda Nunes at UFC 250. Dumont got slaughtered in her first UFC performance against Megan Anderson, before earning a win at bantamweight over Ashlee Evans-Smith.

Spencer is a natural 145lbser among the women which is a positive immediately, with great striking and decent grappling to boot. Dumont on the other hand is a grappler with jiu-jitsu skills and a decent bit of striking on the feet, but will have a huge size disadvantage that she’ll need to overcome. Spencer is the far better wrestler and has better striking and this fight just seems like a lay up for the bigger woman in a division that is limited in it’s contenders.

Spencer should be able to have her way entirely in this one for a dominant decision win.
PICK – Felicia Spencer via Decision

Justin Tafa (4-2) vs Jared Vanderaa (11-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big men get a run-out in this one as ‘Bad Man’ Justin Tafa takes on Jared Vanderaa in the heavyweight division. Tafa is 1-2 in the UFC, losing his debut to Yorgan De Castro before knocking out Juan Adams and then losing to Carlos Felipe at UFC Fight Island 7 in January. Vanderaa on the other hand also lost his UFC debut, getting KO’d by Sergey Spivak at UFC Vegas 19.

Tafa is a brawler, with tremendous power in his hands but an interesting chin and not the best boxing skills as he showed against Felipe. Vanderaa is a striker/wrestler type, who will look to step forward to close the distance with his hands and then get hold of you to put you on the ground. He has a big height and reach advantage meaning Tafa will have to take risks to step inside.

Despite that, I don’t think Vanderaa will be able to get a finish. If Tafa lands a heavy shot or two early on it could cause big problems, but Vanderra should be able to use his size and experience to see out a pretty comfortable win.
PICK – Jared Vanderra via Decision

Yan Xiaonan (13-1 1NC) vs Carla Esparza (18-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A huge fight at the top of the strawweight division between a touted future champion against the inaugral champ of the weight class. Xiaonan is on a six-fight win streak and undefeated in her last 12 fights, with an impressive win over Claudia Gadelha back at UFC Vegas 13, while Esparza has won four-in-a-row including a split decision over Marina Rodriguez at UFC Fight Island 3 last summer.

Xiaonan is a great striker, with terrific speed and solid kicks to go with some brilliant takedown defence. That will be put to the test though against Esparza, who’s biggest strength is her wrestling skills. She can get you to the ground and control the top position, with decent strikes and submission skills. Xiaonan’s path to victory is clearly on the feet, with decent power although all her UFC fights thus far have gone the distance.

Ultimately it comes down to whether or not Esparza can put Xiaonan on her back and keep her there, but I’d be very shocked if that’s the case. Expect Xiaonan to piece her up on the feet and deny the takedown attempts to cruise to a huge win on the judge’s scorecards.
PICK – Yan Xiaonan via Decision

Rob Font (18-4) vs Cody Garbrandt (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger of a main event that will almost certainly be the fight of the night as Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt do battle at 135lbs. Font is coming off the back of a three-fight win streak, with a stunning first-round knockout over Marlon Moraes last time out at UFC Vegas 17, while Garbrandt snapped a three-fight knockout loss streak with a stunning knockout win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250.

Both Font and Garbrandt are boxing heavy fighters, with terrific hand speed and legitimate one-punch power. Font is the technically cleaner fighter of the two, working behind his jab with great footwork and combinations, while Gabrandt is quicker and more powerful but a bit looser with his technique. Font’s biggest win came in his last fight and while impressive on paper, Moraes has proved to be rather chinny in recent fights and that’s definitely something to consider. Garbrandt’s three losses were all by knockout because he refused to fight smart but we’ve seen his brilliance in the past and he looked much better against Assuncao too.

It’s a super even fight, between two guys who will feel they can beat the other at what they do best. For Font, he’s never been knocked out in the past but also never had to go five rounds. Despite that, I think Garbrandt’s past of being knocked out viciously could play against him in this one. Font hits hard and clean and with his speed to counter, I think he gets the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Rob Font via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Shahbazyan – Results (Highlights)

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez vs Cody Durden – Unanimous Draw (28-28 x3)

A potential 10-8 round to the underdog to start the card. Durden threw a leg kick first and then got the takedown early, transitioning to take his back and getting his hooks in deep. Durden threatens with a rear-naked choke, neck crank and strikes while Gutierrez almost looking like he’s just waiting for the referee to stand it up for him.

Second round much more aggressive from Gutierrez. He lands his own leg-kicks and starts stuffing takedown attempts before an attempted knee to the face misses and the foot comes up and catches Durden in the groin. A long break in the fight before they start again and Gutierrez starting to take over with his striking. He’s found his flow much more in this round and Durden is visibly tiring now. Another takedown attempt sees a tussle and Gutierrez ends up on his back but he throws up a great armbar attempt that’s tight. Durden stacks him to see the round out but Gutierrez is back in it.

Gutierrez much more patient in the third while Durden is visibly tired and throwing lazy strikes. Durden attempts a lazy takedown but Gutierrez stuffs easily and is landing his jab and some leg kicks with absolute ease. Gutierrez chipping away at the armor of Durden who is essentially running on empty. Another takedown attempt and Durden gets a single leg but Gutierrez drops him with a hook and then lands a few shots on the ground before the claxon goes. I think this is going to end up as a draw.

Jammall Emmers def Vincent Cachero via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A very fun first round. Both men flowing well and landing shots at full extension but Emmers is using his reach much better. Lots of kicks to the body to Cachero, who took this fight on one day’s notice, and it’s taking its toll. Emmers using an old skool Thai clinch with nasty knees to the body. A fantastic first round for Emmers. 10-9.

The size difference in this second round is evident. Emmers is landing heavy punches and elbows right now but Cachero is eating them and trying to return fire himself. Emmers lands a four punch combo then switches to a takedown where he lands some nice ground and pound but Cachero jumps back up. Emmers is tiring now so shoots for a takedown once again to rest and see out the rest of the round. 20-18 Emmers.

Really good fight management from Emmers in the final round. He’s tired but the bigger man, so uses his superior wrestling to secure a takedown and control from top position. Emmers goes for a kimura attempt but Cachero scrambles away and manages to get back up to his feet. Emmers goes for another takedown almost immediately but Cachero stuffs it well and keeps the bout standing. Cachero throws a big right hand but Emmers ducks under and gets the takedown beautifully and transitions to take his back. He’s attempting for a rear naked choke with 10 seconds to go but the klaxon goes and it should be a comfortable win for Emmers.

Nathan Maness def Johnny Munhoz Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Two debutants and it’s a great first round for the unbeaten Munhoz Jr. Two groin strikes cause stoppages in the fight but he eventually gets it to the ground and threatens with submissions. He eventually flattens Maness out and lands some big ground and pound strikes but the klaxon goes to prevent the referee from needing to make an immediate decision. 10-9 Munhoz Jr.

Second round and Maness comes out much more aggressive. He lands a big right hand that forces Munhoz to shoot for the takedown again but Maness stuffs it and keeps the fight standing. A big elbow against the cage has cut Munhoz above the eye and he’s shooting for the takedown more and more. Final 30 seconds and Munhoz shoots for a single leg, lifts Maness and slams him down to the mat to complete but before anything happens on the ground the klaxon goes. 19-19 for me.

Third round starts and Munhoz goes straight for a body kick but it’s low again! 3rd time in the fight and this time the referee deducts a point for it. Munhoz needs the finish for a win now and goes on the offensive looking for a takedown. The referee breaks them up for a lack of action but they get straight back into it in the same position. Lots of clinch work against the fence from both guys until Maness gets a trip with less than a minute to go. A scramble on the floor and Munhoz attempts for a calf slicer but he just doesn’t have enough time.

Jonathan Martinez def Frankie Saenz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:57)

A fast start from Saenz soon sees Martinez start to take over with his striking and dominate. He got a very early takedown but Martinez got straight back up and started throwing lots of knees and kicks to deter Saenz from even attempting them anymore. Lots of body shots and his left hand is finding a home towards the end of the round but the klaxon goes. 10-9 Martinez.

Second round is more of the same once again. Saenz can’t initiate a takedown because of Martinez’s offence just constantly having him on the defensive. He’s so calm and cool and just picking his shots. A big head kick lands over the guard and rocks Saenz! Martinez moves in for the kill but Saenz puts his feet on the hips and tries to kick away. Martinez continues to land big shots but lets him back up but as the round ends Martinez lands another big shot that drops Saenz again. Referee moves in to call it but tells Saenz to fight back so he grabs hold of Martinez to see out the final 10 seconds of the round. 20-17 for me, that was a 10-8 round.

Third and final round and we finally see a stoppage on the card. After an accidental low blow break, Martinez continues to land multiple shots as Saenz continues to rush forward looking for a takedown. The next time he rushes in proves fatal though as Martinez moves backwards with him and throws a huge left knee up the middle straight onto the chin of Saenz that drops him! Two or three unanswered shots on the ground and the referee steps in to end it. Huge knockout win.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland vs Trevin Giles – CANCELLED

UFC report on-air that Trevin Giles fainted in the hallway just before his walk-out for this fight and the Nevada State Athletic Commission has cancelled the fight.

Bobby Greene def Lando Vanatta via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)

This one was fun. Both fighters taunting each other and talking to each other in the cage as they exchange big punches in the centre of the Octagon. Both men swing wild right hooks and both land, knocking the other down! No rush following that as they get back to their feet, acknowledge the punch and continue to fight. Another knockdown by Greene slightly later with a short right hand but Vanatta does well to grab a leg and hold on to not get ground and pounded. Solid round but Greene’s boxing gives it to him for me. 10-9.

Second round is less action-packed and better for Vanatta. Still some boxing exchanges but a slower pace and some more clinching. Vanatta landed a takedown at the end of the round which I believe may have stolen the round for him but I’m still going for Green. 20-18.

Third round opens with trash talk and a huge right elbow by Greene that drops Vanatta. He gets on top and lands some huge ground and pound but Vanatta hanging in there. Green goes for the takedown and eventually gets mount to start landing bombs, forcing Vanatta to give up his back. Greene tries to sink in a rear naked choke but he’s so slippery he gets out immediately and eventually return to the feet. Greene managing his cardio well and gets another takedown and lands more elbows on the ground before the klaxon goes. Big win for Greene in my book. 30-27.

Vicente Luque def Randy Brown via Knockout, Round 2 (4:56)

Picture perfect round from Vicente Luque. The Brazilian using calf kicks to displace the excellent jab of Brown, before throwing a big overhand right to mix it up for him. Luque slips a jab from Brown and lets rip with a big right hook that drops him. He goes on top for the ground and pound or submission but Brown defends very well and eventually gets back to his feet. 10-9 Luque.

In the second round, Luque throws his leg-kick a lot more and troubles Brown. ‘Rude Boy’ is even forced to switch stances at one point, which takes his jab away and means Luque can close the distance and land big strikes. Leg kicks so vicious at this point that Brown actually goes down because of them but Luque forces him back to his feet immediately. Body lock against the cage now for Luque and Brown leans down to put his hands on the mat but before they reach, Luque throws a gigantic knee that floors Brown. He follows it up with big ground and pound strikes and the referee waves the fight off.

Jennifer Maia def Joanne Calderwood via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (4:29)

Maia looks very bouncy to start the fight, throwing punches freely while Calderwood being more strategic and methodical. Maia landing a lot though and gets in and out with a beautiful 1-2. Maia throws a kick but Calderwood catches it and secures a takedown. Maia using her superior jiu-jitsu on the ground and is tying up Calderwood’s arms from the bottom, landing elbows and short punches to stop her from posturing up. Maia throws her legs up looking for an armbar and manages to get Calderwood on her back. She adjusts and straightens the arm and Calderwood taps out! What a win for Maia!

Derek Brunson def Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 3 (0:26)

A fairly slow start from both men as they try to feel each other out with light shots and feints. Brunson throws a big overhand left and shoots in for the takedown. Shahbazyan fights immediately to get back to his feet but eats a few shots on his way back up. He lands a beautiful right hook of his own as they continue to let the hands go in a what ends up being a very fun opener. 10-9 Shahbazyan.

Brunson using his takedowns and lunging left hooks more in this round and controlling the top position the longer the fight goes on. Shahbazyan lands some nice body kicks but Brunson’s experience is starting to tell and he’s taking over. A nice combo that ends with a takedown and Brunson is on top landing bombs. He gets into full mount and starts raining down punches with Shahbazyan visibly tired and hurt but the klaxon goes as Brunson lands a massive elbow.

Between rounds the referee has the doctor check in on Shahbazyan but they deem he is okay to continue. As soon as the third round begins, Brunson lands a punch and another takedown again. He gets behind Shahbazyan and lands three big punches to the head before the referee steps in and waves it off correctly. Massive win for Derek Brunson!

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Shahbazyan – Main Card Predictions

After the excitement of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Las Vegas for their fifth card at the Apex Centre where Derek Brunson headlines against top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan in the middleweight division.

This is a considerably smaller card than the last one we saw, with just 9 fights on this card rather than the 15 we saw last weekend. I broke down and predicted the prelim fights on this card here, and now will do the same for the five main card fights.

Last time out, I got 11/15 correct with 7 of those 11 absolutely perfect (winner, round, method). Lets see if I can do any better this time around.

Kevin Holland (17-5) vs Trevin Giles (12-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting bout between two prospects in the middleweight division here. Kevin Holland is an impressive all-round fighter who’s last win in the Octagon came via a body-shot knockout just 39 seconds into the fight. Giles’ last bout was a win over James Krause, who stepped in at short-notice a weight class up. Giles is predominantly a wrestler but is capable on the feet, while Holland is the opposite. Both guys have a tendency to make some strange decisions in the cage, with Holland often pulling a Jon Jones and fighting his opponent at what they’re best at. If he does choose to wrestle with Giles, he’ll be beaten soundly but should he fight to his own strengths I think he’ll have enough to get a win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

Lando Vannata (11-4-2) vs Bobby Green (25-10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another battle between two very well rounded fighters but this time in the lightweight division. Lando Vannata had a lot of problems with his cardio despite excellent striking at the start of his UFC tenure and it cost him a lot of wins on his record. Green is a veteran who’s experience has helped him in the latest part of his career when coming up against better opposition in the cage. Green is a solid boxer who is more than competent in the grappling exchanges, while Vannata relies more on volume. In the last outing for “Groovy”, he circled and landed leg kicks to maintain his stamina and outpoint Yancy Medeiros. A similar game plan here will not work against Green who is a better boxer and more aggressive. Green should be able to land crisper strikes on the feet and hold his own on the ground for a decision win.
PICK – Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision

Vicente Luque (18-7-1) vs Randy Brown (12-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Fight of the night pick here. Two explosive fighters who carry power and won their last bouts via finish. Luque is a big power puncher with vicious muay-thai and a good choke game, while Randy Brown is a long kickboxer with his own power and clinch abilities. Ultimately, Luque is too powerful for a fighter with Brown’s style. Using his jab and range, he should be able to keep Luque away from him for a short while but ‘The Silent Assassin’ won’t be deterred because of taking some shots and will eventually find his way to the inside. When he does, he’ll be able to counter ‘Rude Boy’ much more efficiently and eventually land that knockout blow.
PICK – Vicente Luque via Knockout, Round 2

Joanne Calderwood (14-4) vs Jennifer Maia (17-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A big fight at the top of the women’s flyweight division as Joanne Calderwood puts her likely title fight with Valentina Shevchenko on the line to take this short-notice fight against former Invicta champ Jennifer Maia. Calderwood has won 3 of her last 4 and Maia 2 of her last 3, with both women’s defeats coming to Kaitlyn Chookagian. Maia was originally scheduled to fight Julia Araujo but she pulled out due to coronavirus complications. Calderwood is the type of fighter to just overwhelm you with a mix of techniques. She’s a good striker who isn’t afraid to shoot for takedowns and is comfortable when taken down. Maia’s striking is also her main weapon although she is also great on the floor with 4 KO’s and 4 subs on her professional record. Her last 8 fights have gone the distance though and if that is to happen again, she’ll need to be at her absolute best and hope Calderwood’s near year-long layoff means she’s a step slower. Calderwood should be good enough to control the distance and throw enough for a decision.
PICK – Joanne Calderwood via Unanimous Decision

Derek Brunson (20-7) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A three round main event this one has a different type of feel to it. Shahbazyan has a perfect 11-0 record with 10 first round finishes among them, including against Brad Tavares and Jack Marshman. Brunson is the current gatekeeper of the middleweight division, with his only defeats coming against the very best in the division. Shahbazyan is seen as the next big thing in the division and rightly so with a record like that, but this is the biggest test of his career so far. Brunson is a heavy wrestler but interestingly enough he tends to reach a lot for his takedowns. He suffered against a crisp striker when he fought against Israel Adesanya and was knocked out in the first round because of that reaching and it could be a similar story in this fight if Shahbazyan can remain on his feet. He has crazy power on the feet and if he somehow ended up in an offensive position on the ground he has got submission skills. Brunson will want to get this to the ground early and use his experience to put Shahbazyan in deep waters but if he can’t he will probably get knocked out.
PICK – Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 1

Edmen Shahbazyan Gets Main Event Slot To Prove If He’s The Real Deal

August is off to a rough start for the UFC, as the main event of the August 1st card at the Las Vegas APEX Centre has been cancelled.

Holly Holm was scheduled to fight Irene Aldana in the women’s bantamweight division, with the winner moving into title contention against Amanda Nunes in the future. However Holm’s management have confirmed that Aldana has had to withdraw from the fight and despite attempts to find a new bout for the event, the fight has just been postponed instead.

Dana White took to his Instagram account to announce the news and alongside hall of famer Ronda Rousey, announced that her client Edmen Shahbazyan’s fight with Derek Brunson will now take over as the main event for that card.

With a perfect 11-0 record (4-0 in the UFC), Shahbazyan has made a name for himself in the middleweight division with his exciting striking arsenal. He has three stoppage wins in a row, including a stunning head-kick knockout of Brad Tavares in his last bout.

Brunson has been in and around the division’s Top 10 ranking for a number of years now and has taken on all the top middleweights of his time including Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva, Jacare Souza, Yoel Romero and Lyoto Machida.

While he’s never really been in title contention due to his up-and-down record, Brunson is now almost booked as a gatekeeper. It was Adesanya’s win over Brunson that set up his title eliminator with Anderson Silva, while his last two wins have come against guys that were on big win streaks in Elias Theodorou and Ian Heinisch.

The promotion to the main card certainly says more about the UFC’s thoughts on Shahbazyan and the fact he is managed by Ronda Rousey will do him no harm in the eyes of the wider MMA media. He is certainly a prospect and the idea of him eventually getting to fight Israel Adesanya for the 185lbs title is mouth-watering, but it’s far from being realistic any time soon.

Derek Brunson is a horrible match-up for him if he sticks to his strengths. An incredibly strong wrestler, he will look to get this fight to the ground ASAP and not allow Shahbazyan to use his striking skills. With that said, many said the same thing about Brunson when he fought Adesanya – and ‘The Last Stylebender’ knocked him out in the first round.

Either way, it’s a sign that the UFC believe they have a star in their ranks and they are now giving him the platform to sink or swim. Derek Brunson is the shark in deep waters just waiting to be fed.