Tag Archives: Gabriel Benitez

UFC San Diego: Vera vs Cruz – Prelims predictions

The UFC heads to San Diego, California for a bantamweight banger in the main event between Marlon Vera and former champion Dominick Cruz.

A 13-fight card that has got plenty of fire match ups on it is headlined by the two contenders in the 135-pound division, where a win could put them firmly in title contention for early 2023.

Last week a UFC Vegas 59 we went 7/10 with one perfect pick, moving to 690/1069 (64.55%) with 292 perfect picks (42.32%). You can see our full picks 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 picks.


Gabriel Benitez (22-11) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very interesting lightweight scrap up next. Benitez has lost four of his last five, with a KO win over Justin Jaynes sandwiched between losses to Sodiq Yusuff, Omar Morales, Billy Qurantillo and most recently David Onama. Ontiveros on the other hand lost a short notice debut to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 12, before being KO’d to Steve Garcia most recently.

Benitez is a very tidy striker on the feet with excellent boxing combinations, and he’s also a decent grappler too on his back. Ontiveros is an absolutely huge man standing at 6ft 2 and previously fighting at middleweight, but his striking is decent and he’s the more powerful guy. This is a really weird scrap in reality, but Benitez is clearly the more skilled of the two.

The intangibles in Ontiveros’ game are in his favour for sure, with his size and unorthodox style causing problems for a lot people. But against someone who is a better striker and comfortable on the mat, he can dictate wherever this fight goes and his body work could pay dividends later in the fight to a diminished Ontiveros to claim a stoppage win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Knockout, Round 3

Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs Nina Nunes (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight bout up next in the final women’s bout of the night. Calvillo started her flyweight career with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 2), but has since lost three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255) via decision and then getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade (UFC 266) and a corner stoppage at the end of the second round against Andrea Lee most recently. Nunes on the other hand has lost her last two, with an armbar defeat to Mackenzie Dern most recently in her first bout since becoming a mother.

Calvillo tends to use her striking to set up her wrestling, using her top game to stay heavy on the opponent and land ground and pound strikes. Nunes is an all-rounder who is capable of striking and using her grappling to win fights, but she lacks power and isn’t a natural grappler either.

With that said, Calvillo has really struggled in this weight class. Nunes’ footwork and speed is something that has caused Calvillo problems in previous bouts but Nunes was outwrestled most recently and Calvillo is a strong wrestler. Despite that though, I expect a Nunes win. Her strengths outweigh her weaknesses in relation to her opponent and she should be able to bounce around the cage enough to nullify the wrestling and land some solid strikes to earn the win.
PICK – Nina Nunes via Decision



Martin Buday (10-1) vs Lukasz Brzeski (8-1-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

An absolute banger at heavyweight up next. Buday has won nine in a row including a TKO win over Chris Barnett back in April, while Brzeski has won six of his last seven although the most recent was overturned to a no contest on appeal.

Buday is a powerful striker with good combinations on the inside, as well as some good takedown defence to go with his own good wrestling skills. Brzeski on the other hand is someone who likes to push forward and use volume to close distance, before getting a clinch and trying to get top control to work his ground and pound. The big problem for Brzeski is that he’s going to be outweighed by about 30-pounds on fight night.

“Badys” is far bigger, and technically is the more superior striker. Add to that the issues that Brzeski has had with his cardio in the past and the huge size discrepancy I expect Buday will be able to do enough damage to earn a stoppage later in the fight.
PICK – Martin Buday via Knockout, Round 2

Angela Hill (13-12) vs Lupita Godinez (8-2) – (Catchweight/120lbs)

A fun catchweight scrap at 120-pounds in this one for a short-notice scrap. Hill has lost five of her last six, including getting out-grapple by Virna Jandiroba last time out to make it three in a row. Godinez on the other hand has won her last two in a row, earning decisions over Loma Lookboonmee and Ariane Carnelossi most recently at UFC 274.

Hill is a Muay-Thai fighter with great kicks and volume, who is best known for her relentless pressure and the amount she fights every year. Godinez is a grappler who has good wrestling and judo skills and tends to try and smother her opponents on the mat, something Hill has notoriously struggled with in the past.

That makes it a long night for Hill. Godinez will trade on the feet, knowing that Hill doesn’t really have the power to hurt her and will eventually change levels for the takedown then control the fight on the mat from that point. Expect no more than five takedowns over the course of the fight, but plenty of top control for “Loopy” for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision

UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this week for a card that has been littered with changes on short notice.

Originally scheduled to be headlined by Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, that fight was forced to be moved to UFC 272 due to visa issues and will now be headlined by Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill.

It’s not the greatest of cards, with the only ranked fighters scheduled to compete in the main event but there are some decent fights expected to take place.

Last week at UFC 271 we had a great night, correctly predicting 11/14 fights with seven perfect picks which takes our picks totals to 539/840 (64.17%) with 231 perfect picks (42.86%).

Lets see if we can improve that here and after starting with the early prelims, we round up our prelims picks here.


Diana Belbita (14-6) vs Gloria De Paula (5-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight bout opens up the main prelims. Belbita lost her first two UFC fights before finally claiming a win over Hannah Goldy last time out via unanimous decision. De Paula on the other hand is nearing a 50/50 record having lost her first two UFC fights, dropping a decision to Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 21 before getting KO’d by Cheyanna Vlismas last time out.

Belbita is a pressure fighter with some good striking and great work rate and volume, while De Paula is a technical striker on the feet who has struggled so far with the level of competition. That said though, stylistically this one suits her well. De Paula should be able to land relatively clean shots from distance if she can maintain it, but Belbita will be looking to close it quickly and use her slight size advantage to wear on De Paula as much as possible.

De Paula will almost certainly land the better strikes throughout the fight, but Belbita will win this fight if she can make it ugly. She will come forward with pressure to force De Paula to take steps backwards, which will prevent the kicking game and I think she’ll mix in takedowns too to edge a close decision win.
PICK – Diana Belbita via Decision

Chas Skelly (18-3) vs Mark Striegl (18-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight between two great fighters with excellent professional records. Skelly hasn’t fought since 2019 when he earned a decision win over Jordan Griffin, while Striegl suffered a 51 second knockout defeat in his only UFC bout against Said Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 6 in 2020.

Both of these fighters will be looking to get the fight to the ground at the earliest convenience considering their strengths laying in the world of submissions. All 14 stoppage wins in Striegl’s career have come by way of tap out, while Skelly has earned ten submissions of his own throughout his career. Neither of these fighters have a great gas tank and their striking isn’t the best, so a stand-up war between them is unlikely.

But on the mat, Skelly has a big advantage. He’s the better wrestler of the two and has submitted the greater level of competition in the past, while he also has more power in the striking department while the fight is there. His layoff is a big concern obviously, but I expect he will be able to control Striegl on the ground for long enough to earn a decision win on his comeback.
PICK – Chas Skelly via Decision



Jessica-Rose Clark (11-6) vs Stephanie Egger (6-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Two women coming off victories go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Clark is coming off two consecutive wins, KO’ing Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11 before earning a decision win over Joselyn Edwards most recently. Egger claimed a win in her most recent fight by KO’ing Shanna Young in the second round via a nasty elbow at UFC Vegas 38.

Clark is a wrestler who takes her opponents towards the cage and looks to grind them out until an opportunity opens up to either slide a submission in or land ground and pound. Egger on the other hand is a talented judoka who has some very crisp striking in close, although her technique is lacking on occasion. Egger is very good with her throws and takedowns, but she’s shown a weakness to being taken down herself which suits Clark perfectly here.

Egger has the capabilities of being able to reverse takedown situations into her favour, but Clark is more than good enough to work her way back up if that happens. If she can not be too predictable with her grappling and level changes, then I expect Clark to be able to do what she does best and grind her way to a victory.
PICK – Jessica-Rose Clark via Decision

Gabriel Benitez (22-10) vs David Onama (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A potential fight of the night contender in this one at 145-pounds. Benitez has struggled recently with three defeats in her last four, including most recently to Billy Quarantillo via unanimous decision. Onama on the other hand saw his UFC debut end in defeat, snapping his undefeated start to his career, as Mason Jones dominated him up a weight class on short notice.

Benitez is a very talented striker, with leg kicks like a mule and nasty body attacks too. He uses his kicks like a jab, trying to maintain distance from his opponent with them and setting up other attacks too. Onama on the other hand is an absolute powerhouse with explosive striking and an ability to wrestle too. He switches stances well and likes to close his distance too, which spells trouble for Benitez.

Onama looks to have all the tools to really make a name for himself in the UFC and it seems as though the UFC have set him up with a really good stylistic match-up in this one. Benitez got dropped by an overhand from Quarantillo last time out and if Onama lands one, he’s going out. Ultimately, Onama’s strengths lie where Benitez’s weaknesses are and that should lead to a highlight reel KO.
PICK – David Onama via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 46: Kattar vs Chikadze – Prelims predictions

The UFC makes it’s return for 2022 with the first banger of a main event at UFC Vegas 46 live from the UFC Apex as Calvin Kattar takes on Giga Chikadze in the featherweight division.

Kattar returns after taking 2021 off following his defeat to Max Holloway in the opening event of the year, and will look to kick off this year in a way he couldn’t last year.

For Chikadze, it’s his second main event and he knows he has the opportunity to enter title contention this year with a victory over a top five opponent.

We ended 2021 with a decent 8/13 return with three perfect picks at UFC Vegas 45 to move to 508/792 (64.14%) with 214 perfect picks (42.13%).

We’ll look to improve that here, starting with the prelims of this 10-fight card.


Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-3) vs Vanessa Demopoulos (6-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
FIGHT MOVED TO UFC 270 DUE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

An interesting women’s fight to kick off the year in the strawweight division. Juarez got smoked in her UFC debut against Lupita Godinez, getting submitted via armbar in round one at UFC Vegas 39. Demopoulos also suffered defeat in her UFC defeat, losing a unanimous decision to JJ Aldrich at UFC Vegas 35.

Juarez is a crisp, fast and powerful striker on the feet, with some decent grappling skills that are usually enough for her to at least try and keep a fight standing. Demopoulos on the other hand is a terrific grappler, but outside of that she tends to struggle big time in her opponents wheelhouse because her wrestling is pretty average at best. If she can’t get the fight down, she leaves herself open to problems which explains her pretty poor record.

As mentioned already, Juarez has the ability to generally keep the fight standing against non-wrestlers and if she can do that here she should be able to strike her way to a comfortable decision win. If Demopoulos is able to get her down though, this could end quickly. Unfortunately, I see Juarez standing firm and earning the victory.
PICK – Silvana Gomez Juarez via Decision

Charles Rosa (14-6) vs TJ Brown (15-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fight put together on short notice after a drop-out on fight week, Charles Rosa steps in by chance to take a fight now at lightweight. Rosa has alternated wins and losses since 2014, claiming a defeat to Damon Jackson at UFC Vegas 39 most recently. Brown on the other hand earned a split decision win over Kai Kamaka at UFC Vegas 25 in his last bout to snap a two-fight losing streak.

Both of these fighters are primary grapplers and have amassed 17 submission victories combined in their careers. Rosa is a karate striker, but his black belt in jiu-jitsu is where he looks to take fights towards at all times. Brown on the other hand is a very fast striker who also likes to use his blitzes to try and score takedowns and secure submissions. For the most part, Brown has the advantage in the striking department and with his own decent ground game he will likely be quite comfortable here.

Brown will look to keep this fight standing for as long as possible and use his speed to close distance and land big strikes. If Rosa gets the fight down he’ll have the advantage but Brown is no slouch himself in the grappling so I expect ‘Downtown’ to be able to navigate his way to a victory.
PICK – TJ Brown via Decision



Brian Kelleher (23-12) vs Kevin Croom (21-13)- (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fight that was made on Wednesday night as Kevin Croom steps in on mega-short notice to fight Brian Kelleher, who moves up to featherweight for this one. Kelleher bounced back from defeat to Ricky Simon at UFC 258 to earn a decision win over Domingo Pilarte most recently at UFC Vegas 34, while Croom was beaten by Alex Caceres last time out at UFC Vegas 20.

Kelleher is a relentless pressure fighter with some good power in his strikes and a good wrestling base to fight from. Croom on the other hand is a well-rounded fighter who also has a good wrestling base with some decent power in his strikes. Kelleher is going to be at a big size disadvantage in this one, moving up a division and being shorter with less reach too. But against Pilarte that was the same (without the weight) and he dominated that fight from start to finish.

Looking at their skillset, Croom and Kelleher are very similar but Croom definitely looks to wrestle a lot more and keep volume high. That plays well into the favour of Kelleher, who is styled towards that type of fight. He has been in camp so the pace shouldn’t be an issue, and he has the power to land a counter and end this early.
PICK – Brian Kelleher via Knockout, Round 3

Court McGee (21-10) vs Ramiz Brahimaj (9-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A banger at welterweight between two exciting fighters at 170-pounds. McGee is a grizzly veteran who snapped a three-fight win streak last time out with a decision win over Claudio Silva at UFC Vegas 27, while Brahimaj claimed a first-round submission win over Sasha Palatnikov at UFC Vegas 34.

‘The Crusher’ is a relentless pressure fighter with a bottomless gas tank and excellent wrestling skills, while Brahimaj is a super talented grappler with all nine victories in his career coming via submission and eight of those coming in the first round. McGee’s best chance of victory comes if he is able to wear Brahimaj out over the course of the fight, which is possible if he can continuously stuff takedown attempts.

McGee has never been submitted in his career, so it would be some achievement if Brahimaj was able to do that. Ultimately though I do expect the younger fighter to be able to use his wrestling to neutralize the cardio and grapple his way to a victory, but probably by decision.
PICK – Ramiz Brahimaj via Decision

Jamie Pickett (12-6) vs Joseph Holmes (7-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A short-notice bout is the featured prelim bout for this card in the middleweight division. Pickett bounced back from a first-round KO defeat to Jordan Wright at UFC 262 by earning a decision win over Laureano Staropoli at UFC Vegas 41, while Holmes steps in on less than one week’s notice for his UFC debut on a seven-fight win streak.

Pickett and Holmes are both rangy strikers, with a long reach for the division among both of their weaponries. The issue Pickett has despite the fact it’s a short-notice fight, is that Holmes uses his range in a far better way and is far more consistent. He’s faster, seems to have more power and is a much better grappler too.

Neither fighter is particularly keen on throwing tonnes of volume, so I wouldn’t expect a barn burner by any stretch of the imagination. But ultimately, Holmes is a better version of Pickett and considering they’re matching up against each other, I expect Holmes to claim a career-best win.
PICK – Joseph Holmes via Decision

UFC Vegas 31: Makhachev vs Moises – Main card predictions

The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.

Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.

Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.

Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card and after starting with the early prelims and prelims here, here are the picks for the main card.


Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super fun fight in the featherweight division as Benitez takes on fan-favourite Quarantillo. Benitez bounced back from two defeats in a row with a nasty knockout win over Justin Jaynes at UFC Vegas 16, while Quarantillo suffered the first defeat of his UFC run at UFC 256 against Gavin Tucker.

Benitez has got some incredible body kicks and good striking technique with his hands, while also using a chopping leg kick to his advantages. Quarantillo is a good wrestler with good striking too, using his range well and some great cardio. When you match them up skill-for-skill at 145lbs it’s hard to see Benitez losing but he’s had trouble making weight in the past and with his cardio.

Benitez will land plenty of strikes and damage but if Quarantillo can close the distance and drag the fight down to use his wrestling and wear on Benitez’s cardio issues. It’s a close fight but I think the damage will be enough to earn a decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The return of the jiu-jitsu phenom that is Rodolfo Vieira as he takes on another good grappler in Stoltzfus. Vieira is known as the black-belt hunter, but lost his last fight via submission against Anthony Hernandez after completing exhausting himself in the first round. Stoltzfus lost his UFC debut against Kyle Daukaus via decision at UFC 255, but his overall record is decent.

Vieira is a jiu-jitsu master with six of his seven wins coming via submission, while Stoltzfus has won five of his 13 victories via submission too. Vieira’s striking is completely non-existent but the level of his jiu-jitsu usually means if he gets you down it’s a wrap. Stoltzfus has got decent kicks in his arsenal, attacking the thigh and knee often knowing that he’s safe on his back. He isn’t against Vieira though.

Despite his last fight, Vieira is a supreme athlete with amazing jiu-jitsu and I do think he’d be able to get him down and get a submission. But Stoltzfus is good enough too to survive the opening round and capitalise on Vieira’s cardio issues to get the win himself as an underdog.
PICK – Dustin Stoltzfus via Knockout, Round 3

Jeremy Stephens (28-18) vs Mateusz Gamrot (18-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The delayed lightweight debut of Jeremy Stephens against Mateusz Gamrot is finally here. Stephens has lost his last four fights at featherweight and hasn’t fought in over a year, while Gamrot bounced back from a split decision defeat at UFC Fight Island 6 with a KO win over Scott Holtzman at UFC Vegas 23.

Stephens is a great boxer with a bomb of a left hand, great durability and decent defensive grappling and is a veteran on the UFC roster. Gamrot on the other hand is a tremendous wrestler with decent striking to back him up which makes this fight a really interesting one. Stephens had legitimate one-punch KO power at featherweight and the move up to 155lbs will only help him in that regard but Gamrot is a very well-rounded fighter.

Gamrot is the naturally bigger man, and if he gets hit flush he’ll either go out or go straight into wrestling mode. If it’s the latter, then this could be a very long night for the veteran.
PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Decision

Marion Reneau (9-7-1) vs Miesha Tate (18-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A final run against a returning champion in the women’s bantamweight division as Reneau takes on Tate. Reneau is 44 and in her final fight of her contract, coming off four defeats in a row against Cat Zingano, Yana Kunitskaya, Raquel Pennington and Macy Chiasson most recently at UFC Vegas 22. Tate retired back in 2016 after a loss to Pennington, but returns now after five years away from the cage.

Reneau is a jiu-jitsu black belt with a limited striking game, while Tate is a strong wrestler with good submission skills of her own. Reneau is awful off her back and Tate is a good enough wrestler to get her down quickly and hold her down, using her boxing well to enter range. Reneau has much more power in her hands but her technique isn’t great.

Realistically this is set up for Tate to win the fight impressively and make her comeback a moment to remember.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision

Islam Makhachev (19-1) vs Thiago Moises (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The next big thing at 155lbs as Makhachev takes on Moises who is coming in off a three-fight win streak. Makhachev returned from a year-and-a-half lay off back in March with a highly impressive submission win over Drew Dober at UFC 259, while Moises beat Bobby Green at UFC Vegas 12 and Alexander Hernandez at UFC Vegas 20.

Makhachev is an excellent striker with even scarier grappling, with his top position among the best in the entire sport never mind in the UFC lightweight division. Moises is a solid striker himself but he is also known for his jiu-jitsu skills, with six submission wins in his career. Makhachev’s wrestling is just such a big differential between the fighters that I can’t look past him winning.

He has his own submission skills but his positioning and pressure from the top is just as good at holding someone down and wearing them out and pounding them out. Moises has threats, but Makhachev’s cardio is likely to hold out and he’ll secure a big win.
PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Prelims predictions

The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.

After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.

Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with the prelims of this 12 fight card.


EARLY PRELIMS

Luke Sanders (13-4) vs Felipe Colares (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting fight in the featherweight division as both men look to get back into the winning column after defeats last time out. Sanders was submitted by Nate Manness at UFC Vegas 15 last time out, while Colares was on the wrong end of a war against Montel Jackson and suffered a decision loss in January 2020.

Sanders is an okay grappler with good jiu-jitsu skills, but in recent fights has looked to use his power punching more. He rocked Manness in their fight before eventually getting rocked himself, while Colares is a striker himself with good durability and speed. Neither man are any good fighting on their back foot and defensively they both have gaping holes in their game, with Sanders’ defensive wrestling in particular woeful.

It’s a fight in the perfect spot on the card as they’re two of the not-so-good fighters performing on the night, but I trust Sanders’ power to come through and get a stoppage as they both go for it on the feet.
PICK – Luke Sanders via Knockout, Round 2

Andreas Michailidis (12-4) vs KB Bhullar (8-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight bout between two impressive newcomers who lost their UFC debuts in 2020. Michailidis had a strong first round against Modesta Bukauskas back at Fight Island 2, but some elbows to the side of the head saw him unable to make his corner when the buzzer went and the referee waved it off. Bhullar made a short-notice debut against Tom Breese at UFC Fight Island 5, getting knocked out in the first round.

Michailidis is a decent wrestler who throws great kicks and has good powerful hands too, while Bhullar tends to throw fancy kicks but doesn’t really land and can sometimes blow his load too early. Bhullar tends to keep his hands quite low because of the way he throws kicks, but Michailidis just seems to be the better martial artist.

Good grappling skills, great kicking game and good cardio, Michailidis should be able to start fast and put it on Bhullar enough for an early win.
PICK – Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 1

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee (5-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

One of the best muay-thai fighters in the strawweight division, Lona Lookboonmee makes her return to the UFC to make it back-to-back wins for the first time in her octagon career against Sam Hughes. Lookboonmee bounced back from a defeat against Angela Hill with a comfortable win over Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 9. Hughes’ debut was on short-notice against Tecia Torres and her corner stopped the fight after round 1 after an eye injury at UFC 256.

Lookboonmee is a tremendous striker with great kicks and clinch work, with her grappling defence improving with every fight. Hughes is a classic wrestler style fighter who works for submissions once she gets the fight down to the ground. Hughes has a decent size advantage physically, but she is more than hittable on her feet and that’s dangerous against Lookboonmee.

Ideally both women want to be marching forward and forcing their opponent backwards, and I think Lookboonmee is able to use her kicks better to keep distance and earn a decision win.
PICK – Lona Lookboonmee via Decision

Poliana Botelho (8-3) vs Luana Carolina (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight bout to open up the main card as both women look to bounce back from defeat to get back in the win column in the UFC. Botelho was well beaten by Gillian Robertson at Fight Island 6 in a unanimous decision, while Carolina returned from a spine injury to get knee-barred by Ariane Lipski at UFC Fight Island 2 last summer.

Both women are preferential strikers with decent ground game to back themselves up, but you’d expect the fight to go the way of a kickboxing match. Both women have better offensive takedowns than defensive and if they find themselves getting pieced up on the feet, they may shoot. If that happens, Botelho seems like the more physical of the two and I’d back her to be able to keep Carolina down.

It’s a close fight but I think Botelho has slightly more paths to victory and therefore she gets the nod.
PICK – Poliana Botelho via Decision

Kai Kamaka III (8-3) vs TJ Brown (14-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight bout again on this card as Kai Kamaka III looks to bounce back from defeat when he takes on TJ Brown, who has lost his last two in a row. Kamaka defeated Tony Kelley at UFC 252 in his UFC debut but was knocked out against Jonathan Pearce at UFC Vegas 15. Brown is yet to win in the UFC, being submitted by Jordan Griffin in February 2020 before a decision defeat against Dany Chavez at UFC 252 too.

Kamaka is a great striker who looks like he hits with a lot of power, but he has just one knockout win in his career so far with the rest coming via decision. Brown is a good wrestler with great scrambles and decent power of his own, but he also has some very good cardio too. Kamaka’s cardio has been a huge issue in his career and if Brown can push the pace you could see Kamaka wilt as the fight goes on.

Brown is at a disadvantage on the feet but only just, while the gap in cardio and wrestling is much bigger, so I think the underdog takes the win here.
PICK – TJ Brown via Decision

Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Jonathan Pearce (10-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

One of the best kickers in the sport looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on ‘JSP’ in the featherweight division. Benitez had lost two in a row before stopping Justin Jaynes via a knee to the body and strikes at UFC Vegas 16, while Pearce beat Kai Kamaka at UFC Vegas 15 in his last fight.

Benitez is a remarkably powerful kicker, using distance well and throwing them in combination with his punches too. Pearce is a good wrestler with good power in his hands as eight knockouts from his ten career victories show. Benitez will undoubtedly look to stay at range and use his leg kicks and body kicks to stop Pearce from trying to close the distance to use his wrestling to get this fight to the ground.

Benitez is very good at getting back up to his feet when he does get taken down and with Pearce’s lead leg an obvious target, I think he should be able to earn a competitive decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision

Randa Markos (10-10-1) vs Luana Pinheiro (8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The featured prelim bout is a strawweight fight between UFC debutant Luana Pinheiro as she takes on the veteran Randa Markos. Markos has lost four of her last five and each of her last five, getting tapped out by Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 11 before dropping a decision to Kanako Murata at UFC Vegas 14. Pinheiro has won six-in-a-row with six finishes, including four submissions and two knockouts.

Markos is a wrestler who likes to lay in top position and look for openings either through strikes or submissions, but is entering the twilight of her career now. Pinheiro though is a beast of a prospect. She is a black belt in judo and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and is so aggressive when looking for a finish in her fights. Markos isn’t a bad fighter, lets be clear, all her recent defeats have been against top fighters, but Pinheiro is better right now.

Despite a slight disadvantage in size, I think Pinheiro can use her massively improved striking to hurt Markos before eventually grabbing hold of her neck and earning a huge submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 2

UFC Vegas 16: Hermansson vs Vettori – Results (Highlights)

Originally scheduled for 11 fights on the night there are only eight fights taking place on this card now after the following fights fell through on fight night:

– Taila Santos vs Montana De La Rosa
(positive COVID-19 test, Santos re-booked vs Gillian Robertson for Dec 19th)
– Roman Evloev vs Nate Landwehr
(positive COVID-19 test)
– Jimmy Flick vs Cody Durden
(undisclosed injury, fight re-booked for December 19th)


PRELIMS

Jake Collier def Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the fight for both guys as Collier comes out with jabs and leg kicks, while Villante looks to counter it with big right hands. Villante coming forward and is cracking Collier, busting his nose open in the process. Collier lands a big knee and a big left hand to the body that lands clean. Collier lands a big left hand that rocks Villante and he goes for the kill but he doesn’t quite land with any of his follow up punches. Both guys exchange big punches as the buzzer goes, great round. 10-9 Collier for me.

A slower round this time as Collier comes out leading with the jab and Villante looks for an answer to counter it. Collier looks for a left hook but Villante avoids it and then throws an uppercut-hook combo that lands flush to the chin. Both fighters landing big hooks but neither seemingly with the power to put the other away as we enter the final minute of the round. Collier visibly starting to tire as the round comes to a close. 19-19.

Final round and Collier looking to be very active with push kicks and jabs early on while Villante continues to look for the one big shot. Collier landing a big left hook pretty much at will and looks light on his feet, landing nice body kicks and keeping Villante away. Round comes to an end with Collier pushing the pace and it should be enough for the win. 29-28 Collier.

Ilia Topuria def Damon Jackson via Knockout, Round 1 (2:38)

Very fast, active start to the fight from Topuria as he comes out landing big hooks to the body and beautiful jabs. Jackson swinging back for his own attack but Topuria quite clearly the more comfortable of the two on the feet. Big body shots again from Topuria as Jackson looks to clinch against the cage, but they break quickly. Topuria comes forward again and lands a big uppercut followed by a vicious body shot tha hurts Jackson! Topuria lands a big one two that drops Jackson and then one more violent strike as he’s down and the referee steps in to end it! Masterful performance from the Georgian, who moves to 10-0.

Louis Smolka def Jose Quinonez via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Positive start to the round for Quinonez as he lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a heavy takedown early on. Smolka gets back to his feet quickly and lands a nice kick to the body but Quinonez seems much quicker and more accurate so far. Quinonez landing lots of short shots and adding low kicks on to the end of his combos but Smolka’s right hand is finding a home too. Smolka eats a knee which opens up a cut but he gets the takedown and searches for a submission but Quinonez gets up to end the round. 10-9 Quinonez.

Another quick start to the round for Quinonez as he comes out landing jabs well before landing a takedown inside the opening minute. Smolka gets up very quickly once again though and they continue to throw big shots at each other. Smolka lands a big judo throw and ends up in full mount immediately landing big ground and pound! Quinonez looks to escape but Smolka just floats, gets back into full mount and starts throwing bombs. Quinonez gives up his back and Smolka flattens him out and continues the big ground and pound until the referee steps in. Huge win for Smolka.

MAIN CARD

Jordan Leavitt def Matt Wiman via Knockout, Round 1 (0:22)

The two meet in the centre, Leavitt shoots in for a double leg and lifts Wiman. He walks him over to his corner and slams him to the mat and Wiman is out COLD! What a win!

Roman Dolidze def John Allan via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

A very intriguing start to this fight as Dolidze lands an early takedown and has to avoid some armbar attempts from Allan before talking to his corner, almost taunting him, before attempting a heel hook submission. Allan manages to escape and they get back to their feet, with Dolidze landing some straight lefts. Allan lands some body kicks and his jab is much quicker than Dolidze’s but not much damage being done. A clash of heads sees Allan go down and Dolidze goes for a leg lock submission again instead of ground and pound as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Dolidze.

A more tactical second round as the pace naturally slows a little and Dolidze is able to land an excellent takedown into a dominant top position. Lots of ground and pound from Dolidze as Allan is looking for sweeps to reverse the position from half guard, but he’s not allowing it and is controlling on the ground well. Dolidze goes for another leg lock submission with 20 seconds to go in the round and doesn’t get it, but a dominant round for the Georgian. 20-18.

Dolidze playing it safe in the final round as he is moving his feet well and landing his jab well. Allan is stepping forward looking to land big shots because he knows he needs the finish. Dolidze shoots for a tired takedown which is easily defended and Allan lands a big punch that wobbles him! Allan trips him and ends up on top, but Dolidze defends excellently and gets back to his feet straight into a double leg takedown of his own. He sees out the rest of the round landing ground and pound from top position for a dominant decision win. 30-27.

Gabriel Benitez def Justin Jaynes via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)

Aggressive start to the fight from Benitez as he comes out with heavy kicks and some big punches. Jaynes looks to counter it by closing the distance and throwing big shots to the head. He lands a left hand that causes Benitez’s eye to begin swelling almost instantly. Jaynes steps forward again and Benitez lands a big uppercut that forces Jaynes to take a step back. More solid leg kicks from Benitez and then he fires a HUGE knee that drops Jaynes! Some quick ground and pound and the referee steps in to wave it off! Hugely impressive win from Benitez!

Jamahal Hill def Ovince Saint-Preux via Knockout, Round 2 (3:37)

A measured start to this fight from both fighters as OSP maintains his usual calmness as Hill looks to attack the body. OSP throwing lots of side kicks and push kicks but Hill throws a beautiful right hand right to the chin. OSP switches to southpaw and starts landing some nice calf kicks as Hill tries to get back into power striking range. Wild exchange at the end of the round, pretty even fight but I give the round to Hill. 10-9.

Hill looks much more lively and aggressive in this second round as he starts landing big shots early in the round. OSP doing well whenever he’s in a southpaw stance but in his orthodox stance he’s getting lit up. Hill lands a big right hand against the cage and forces OSP to clinch up because he’s hurt. Hill gets separation and goes on the offence again, landing big combinations to the head. OSP is out on his feet and Hill keeps pouring it on until the referee pulls him off! Huge win for Hill!

Marvin Vettori def Jack Hermansson via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 49-45)

Vettori comes straight out and takes the centre of the octagon, throwing big left hands straight down the middle. Hermansson lands a nice leg kick as there two stand and trade. Vettori throws a straight left once again and drops Hermansson! He drops down for the ground and pound attack but Hermansson covers up and manages to defend himself by getting himself into half guard. Vettori stacks Hermansson against the cage and looks for ground and pound again, trying to open up an opportunity for a submission but it’s not quite working out for him as the round ends. 10-9 Vettori.

Hermansson comes out very aggressive in the second round with some wild swings before shooting for a takedown. Great defence from Vettori stuffs it several times before he is able to reverse the attempt and ends up on top himself. Vettori looking to just control Hermansson so far as both fighters fight to a stalemate on the ground, so they get back to their feet. Hermansson looks to take the fight down again and lands a big knee to the body as they round comes to an end. 19-19.

Hermansson growing into this fight now as Vettori looks like he’s starting to slow down. ‘Joker’ throwing lots of takedown attempts but isn’t being successful with them as Vettori defends expertly. High kick attempt from Hermansson looks like it’s blocked but Vettori keeps touching his arm, potentially hurt? Hermansson comes forward and lands a nice right hand but Vettori fires back with a left of his own and then a body kick. Nice jabs from Hermansson land as the round comes to an end. Hermansson round. Could be 29-28 either way.

Vettori seemingly has a second wind as he comes out for the fourth round and starts popping shots off with real venom. Hermansson ducks a left and counters with a nice right hook as the pace has considerably slowed since the first round. Both guys fighting in a phone box now, standing toe to toe and just exchanging shots. Another two straight lefts from Vettori land clean as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. Hermansson comes forward and lands a beautiful combination that forces Vettori to step back but then he replies with a combo of his own. Another straight left lands from Vettori on the buzzer. What a fight this is. 38-38 going into the final round for me.

Vettori comes out in the fifth essentially looking like he wants a finish, landing big combinations but Hermansson refusing to give in. He responds with some combos of his own. Vettori landing his left hand at will but Hermansson staying in range and hitting uppercuts too. Big three punch combo ends with a right hook from Hermansson but Vettori eats it and comes forward with an uppercut of his own. Final minute and Vettori grabs a clinch and pushes the fight against the cage to try and grind out the end of the fight. Hermansson rolls through for a leg lock with 10 seconds to go but Vettori gets out as the buzzer goes. What a fight. 48-47 Vettori for me.