The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for the TUF 30 finale card, headlined by light heavyweight bangers.
Thiago Santos will take on Jamahal Hill looking for a place in the top five of the rankings at 205-pounds in the main event, while Vicente Luque will also fight Geoff Neal in the co-main event.
The TUF finale also takes place as the heavyweights Mohammed Usman, brother of Kamaru, takes on Zac Pauga while the women’s flyweights will see Brogan Walker take on Julianna Miller.
Last time out at UFC 277 we went 10/13 with two perfect picks to move to 683/1059 (64.49%) with 291 perfect picks (42.61%). 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.
Bryan Battle (8-1) vs Takashi Sato (16-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
TUF 29 winner vs MMA veteran in this one. Battle moves down to welterweight for this bout, having won each of his last six including a submission win over Gilbert Urbina before a decision win over Tresean Gore. Sato meanwhile has lost his last two getting submitted by Miguel Baeza before losing a dominant decision against Gunnar Nelson at UFC London back in March.
Battle is a jack of all trades with good wrestling and submission skills as well as his fast hands with boxing combinations and range management. He does lack big power in his hands however. Sato is someone who tends to rely on a big strike from the power in his hands, while he has pretty poor takedown defence and a lack of volume. With that said, this is a super tough match up for him.
“Pooh Bear” is likely to use his movement and physical strength to wear on Sato, while his volume should be more than enough to keep Sato away from him. Add to that his decent wrestling to make his opponent think about the next attack constantly, this should be a pretty comfortable win for Battle.
PICK – Bryan Battle via Decision
Terrance McKinney (12-4) vs Erick Gonzalez (14-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
The big lock of the card between two bangers in the lightweight division. McKinney lit the UFC up initially with a seven-second KO of Matt Frivola at UFC 263 before a first-round submission win over Fares Ziam. He was beaten last time out though as Drew Dober put him out with a knee and strikes. Gonzalez lost his UFC debut to Jim Miller back in October when he was KO’d in the second round and hasn’t fought since.
McKinney is an incredibly powerful striker with a really strong wrestling game in his back pocket to go with it, and he’ll be hungry to get himself back in the win column after his positive UFC start. Gonzalez on the other hand is not a UFC calibre fighter, with poor takedown and striking defence with his best form of defence coming via offense.
Gonzalez will look to start a brawl and hope he lands the harder, cleaner shot first but against McKinney that’s nigh on impossible. “T-Wrecks” is going to come in, put his lights out and send him home early.
PICK – Terrence McKinney via Knockout, Round 1
Sam Alvey (33-17-1) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
No idea how, but Sam Alvey is still in the UFC and he’s in the featured prelim bout this weekend. Alvey has lost 7 of his last 8 fights, getting stopped in four of them including his most recent bout when he was submitted by Brendan Allen. Oleksiejczuk saw a two-fight win streak snapped last time out when he dropped a decision to Dustin Jacoby at UFC 272.
Alvey is done, honestly. Once upon a time he had a feared big left hand, but in recent times he’s just become a punching bag and someone who is tentative and looks like he shouldn’t be in there. Oleksiejczuk is a good kickboxer with good power and counters, and usually has solid cardio to go with it. The one issue could be the weight cut with Oleksiejczuk making his 185-pound debut.
With that said, it’s also the only way that he loses this fight. He’s got the speed, power and physical attributes to dominate Alvey and unless he absolutely fluffs the weight cut and is struggling physically then he should be able to back Alvey up against the cage and finish him with nasty combinations to finally end “Smile’n”‘s UFC run.
PICK – Michal Oleksiejczuk via Knockout, Round 1