The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event got even weirder on the day of weigh-ins, as the top three fights of the card all got switched.
Initially supposed to be Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz in the main event, “Borz” missed weight by over 7lbs which sparked mega changes.
It will now be Nate Diaz fighting Tony Ferguson in the main event, a five-round welterweight bout, while Chimaev will now fight Kevin Holland at a 180lbs catchweight.
Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight, who was originally supposed to fight Kevin Holland. Crazy.
Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Darian Weeks (5-2) vs Yohan Lainesse (8-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Two guys yet to taste victory in the UFC open up the card. Darian Weeks has lost his last two, dropping decisions to Bryan Barbarena (UFC Vegas 44) and Ian Garry (UFC 273) while Lainesse was KO’d by Gabriel Green back in April in his debut.
Weeks is an all-rounder but doesn’t have any standout attributes really with decent wrestling and okay striking, but no real submission threat and little KO power. Lainesse is of a similar ilk in style, but he has got far more power in his hands as his six career KO wins show. Weeks’ wrestling wasn’t enough to contain Barbarena and on the feet against Garry he struggled. Lainesse should dominate the first round, but his cardio may then drop off a cliff.
If it does then Weeks will be confident of being able to take over down the stretch and earn a win. If he’s fixed that, Lainesse should cruise to a victory landing the more eye-catching shots and mixing in takedowns too. Ultimately if the cardio does fade, I expect it will be late enough that he’s already done enough to win on the scorecards.
PICK – Yohan Lainesse via Decision
Melissa Martinez (7-0) vs Elise Reed (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun strawweight scrap up next. Martinez makes her UFC debut as an undefeated fighter with five knockouts from seven career wins, while Reed is 1-2 in the UFC with a win over Cory McKenna sandwiched between losses against Sijara Eubanks and most recently Sam Hughes. This will be Martinez’ first MMA fight since December 2019.
Martinez is a pure striker and has been training that skill over recent years as she went full-time kickboxer, but her grappling was already pretty weak before that break. Reed is a striker with poor wrestling, who also sees herself as a bit of a kickboxer. If she tries to make it a striking battle though, she could be in trouble.
Reed isn’t a good enough wrestler to be able to take it to the ground at will and throw Martinez off her game, and the power difference is in the Mexican’s favour. If her cardio holds up and her grappling hasn’t got any worse, then she should be able to claim the victory.
PICK – Melissa Martinez via Decision
Chad Anheliger (12-5) vs Alatengheili (15-8-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Bantamweight banger up next. Anheliger was 2-5 at one point in his career but comes into this on a seven-fight win streak with a KO win over Jesse Strader in his UFC debut last time out. Heili is 1-1-1 in his last three, losing to Casey Kenny, drawing with Gustavo Lopez and then finally earning a KO win over Kevin Croom in just 47 seconds.
Anhelinger is a powerful striker whose defensive wrestling has been a disaster since arriving in the UFC, while Heili is a strong wrestler who also has great knockout power and this fight seems like one that is heavily in his favour.
He’s powerful and fast, plus his wrestling is more than good enough to dictate where this fight ends up. He should dominate the position and absolutely control this fight for the full 15 minutes, and could even earn finish from top position in the latter rounds.
PICK – Alatengheili via Decision
Norma Dumont (7-2) vs Danyelle Wolf (1-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An interesting featherweight scrap here. Dumont is arguably the only natural 145-pounder in the UFC right now, but she was beaten by Macy Chiasson last time out at UFC 274 to see a three-fight win streak snapped. Wolf is 1-0 professionally after being an excellent amateur boxer, earning her spot on the roster with a controversial win on the Contender Series.
Dumont is a very powerful striker with good boxing combinations, but she also has decent Brazilian jiu-jitsu and good wrestling skill too. Wolf is a top boxer with a very good jab and a nice right cross, but her grappling game was non-existent in her only pro fight and her improvements are likely to be limited by the fact she’s 38-years-old.
It would be a real surprise if Dumont doesn’t completely dominate Wolfe in this fight. She’s capable of holding her own in the striking realm but if it starts to get a bit sticky she can switch to a grappling game plan and will have her way with Wolf. It’s a baptism of fire for her, and Dumont should get back in the win column with relative ease.
PICK – Norma Dumont via Submission, Round 1