A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.
The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.
Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).
With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here and the rest of the prelims here, so now I’ll try my hand at the stacked main card to better last weeks attempts.
Kevin Holland (18-5) vs Darren Stewart (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
With so many contenders for fight of the night, this is another that stands out. Kevin Holland and Darren Stewart are making quick turnarounds after wins in their last bout. Holland knocked out Joaquin Buckley with a stunning punch in the third round last month, while Stewart secured a first round submission win over Maki Pitolo on the same card. Holland is a top level striker with good wrestling chops and has come into his own in recent months but has shown a propencity to showboat in the cage. Stewart is a powerful puncher who’s usual style is to sprawl-and-brawl, making himself very difficult to take down which allows him to open up his kickboxing game. With both guys preferring the stand-up game, it comes down to accuracy and power. Either fighter could knock the other out, but Holland is that little bit more dynamic and I think he should be able to get the win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2
Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs Randa Markos (10-8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
This will be a fight that will almost certainly take place on the ground if Mackenzie Dern has anything to do with it, but Markos may need to have other ideas. Both women have only ever stopped fights via submission but Markos has a wrestling advantage. Dern is a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion and holds a black belt, making her super dangerous no matter her position on the mat. After suffering her first defeat, she bounced back in her last bout with a kneebar submission win over Hannah Cifers back in May. Markos has alternated wins and losses over the last six years and lost her last fight to Amanda Ribas also. She would usually rely on top control to get a win but on the ground, she’s in danger in this bout. She will have to look to use striking to win this and while it’s not her usual path to victory, she has the edge on the feet. Dern’s takedowns aren’t good and her striking arsenal comprises of a looping hook and some wild overhands. Dern has the advantage on the ground which is where both women usually do their work, but she needs to get it there first.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2
Johnny Walker (17-5) vs Ryan Spann (18-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A light heavyweight showdown where a one-time top prospect in Johnny Walker looks to get back to winning ways against another top prospect in Ryan Spann. Walker was on a wrecking path when he entered the UFC, with showreel knockout wins over Khalil Rountree, Just Ledet and Misha Cirkunov but he fell in to Corey Anderson in his biggest test via a first round knockout. His comeback fight in May against Nikita Krylov didn’t go his way either as he was held to a decision. Spann is on an eight-fight win streak including 4-0 in the UFC, with his latest win a split decision over Sam Alvey. Walker is an explosive kickboxer with vicious power and acrobatic ability while Spann is more of a boxer who uses his leg-kicks to set them up. Spann has severe cardio problems and we’ve seen Walker’s main issues come against those who are prepared to wrestle him. Anderson KO’d him simply because Walker wasn’t expecting anything other than takedown attempts, but he won’t have that issue with Spann. In a striking match, Walker should be able to land heavy blows for a knockout win as Spann begins to fade.
PICK – Johnny Walker via Knockout, Round 2
Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (31-13) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The hype train for Khamzat Chimaev returns to the APEX as he looks for his third UFC win against the biggest name he’s faced so far in Gerald Meerschaert. Chimaev destroyed John Phillips at middleweight and Rhys McKee at welterweight in just 10 days last time around, while Meerschaert was knocked out by Ian Heinisch in his last fight back in June. Chimaev has shown in his last two fights that he will go straight for takedowns and dominate with relentless strikes until he gets the submission or the referee stops it, but Meerschaert is a black-belt and will be able to hold his own on the ground. He also has good power in his hands but he is most dangerous on the ground, as his 23 submission wins show. Chimaev is a skilled kickboxer though and will have no issues keeping the fight standing for a while and using his superior striking skills for the first time in his short UFC career. Despite the big jump in competition, Chimaev is so skilled and good at what he does that he should be able to get a mightily impressive win here. The UFC obviously think so too, having already booked him for a fight after this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 2
Donald Cerrone (36-15 1NC) vs Niko Price (14-4 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
‘Cowboy’ Cerrone looks to ensure he doesn’t take the gatekeeper tag just yet as he looks to get into the win column after four straight defeats when he takes on Niko Price. Price is a knockout artist who is a natural 170lbs-er and that spells bad things for Cerrone. Both men throw great kickboxing combinations and while Cerrone is slightly better technically, Price’s extra power makes up for it. If Cerrone wants success he’ll need to use his footwork to get in and out quickly but Price has a three-inch reach advantage so will likely stay out of range. This is a fight where both men will employ similar tactics and it’s simply about who can outland the other. I think because of Price’s physicality advantage and power edge, he will be able to stay for the full three rounds and secure a big win.
PICK – Niko Price via Unanimous Decision
Colby Covington (15-2) vs Tyron Woodley (19-5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The grudge match of the year. A fight over two years in the making is finally among us as Colby Covington looks to get back into the win column following his title defeat in December last year while Woodley looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against his long time rival. Woodley’s style is usually to sprawl and brawl, with his huge power in his right hand his most trusted weapon. He’s failed to throw it with any real vim in his last two fights though as he was crushed by both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Covington is almost the worst possible match up for Woodley at this point. He has a suffocating wrestling style, much like Usman does, but he showed in that fight for the title last year that he has good striking too. His heavy hands caused damage to Usman and although he ultimately lost, he showed that he is the second best welterweight in the world. This fight is the type that ‘Chaos’ would have been dreaming of to get back into the picture – a big name, but past his best in the cage. Colby could go for a finish in this one just to make a statement, but I think he takes it the full 25 minutes for a dominant win.
PICK – Colby Covington via Unanimous Decision