Tag Archives: Gilbert Burns

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.

Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.

In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.

We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.

Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims picks and finishing off the rest of the prelims here, we move on to our main card picks here.


Vinc Pichel (14-2) vs Mark O Madsen (11-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A really interesting lightweight fight opens up the main card here. Pichel has won seven of his last eight including his last three in a row against Roosevelt Roberts, Jim Miller and Austin Hubbard all via decision. Madsen is an undefeated fighter, going 3-0 in the UFC including a split decision win over Clay Guida last time out.

Pichel is a well-rounded fighter, with some crisp striking and good power that has earned him eight knockout wins in his career. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler, who tends to fight behind his jab and walk forward. While the takedown will be there all day for Madsen, Pichel is very good at getting up and tends to get stronger as the fight goes on.

Madsen has had a problem with his cardio in the past and if he tries to fight like he did against Guida here, it won’t be enough to earn a win because he has more power and a far better gas tank. Madsen will likely start well and could even win the first round, but eventually Pichel should be able to turn the tide and land enough on the feet while tiring Madsen out to earn a tight decision win.
PICK – Vinc Pichel via Decision

Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs Tecia Torres (13-5) – (Strawweight/125lbs)

A really fun women’s strawweight fight up next. Dern was on a four-fight win streak before stepping into a main event against Marina Rodriguez, who out-struck her to earn a decision win. Torres on the other hand snapped a four-fight losing streak and is now on a run of three wins in a row, defeating Angela Hill at UFC 265 most recently.

Dern is one of the very best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet, male or female, and looks to get fights down to the ground as quickly as possible to work that submission game. She does struggle with takedowns, but her striking has improved in recent fights too. Torres on the other hand is a bulldog who uses great forward pressure and boxing skills, while her defensive wrestling is pretty good too. This is a battle entirely about whether or not Dern can get the fight down, and her size advantage leans me to think she can.

Torres is only 5ft 1 tall and while Dern isn’t the biggest at 5ft 4, she’s got a two inch reach advantage. Dern will likely kick from distance and try to clinch to be able drag Torres down, who will need to get in and out with her boxing. I just can’t see her doing that for 15 minutes, so I expect Dern to be able to get her down, find her way to an arm or the back and sink in a submission to get back on the winning trail.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2



Gilbert Burns (20-4) vs Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

One of the most highly anticipated fights of the year so far takes place in the welterweight division. Burns went on a huge six-fight win streak before falling to Kamaru Usman in a title fight at UFC 258 last year. He returned to the win column by dominating Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 in his last fight. Chimaev is the most exciting fighter in the UFC right now, winning all four of his bouts while absorbing a combined total of just one strike. His most recent win against Li Jingliang at UFC 267 saw him choke him unconscious in the first round while talking to Dana White.

Burns is a wrestle-boxer who has got legitimate world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills too, with good knockout power and some brilliant cardio too. Chimaev is an absolute man mountain, who either knocks your lights out early or just launches in for a takedown and dominates you until the referee pulls him off. This is such a hard fight to call, because it’s by far the toughest fight of Chimaev’s career but you cannot ignore what he’s done so far in the octagon.

It’s highly unlikely that Chimaev will dominate Burns in the same way he has won all his previous fights in the UFC, but I do think he will win. He has got a huge size advantage, having fought at middleweight in the past too and his wrestling was good enough to dominant Jack Hermansson in a wrestling match not too long ago. He has great power in his hands, amazing control and while Burns could definitely cause an upset, I can’t look past Chimaev to earn the victory.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Decision

Aljamain Sterling (20-3) vs Petr Yan (16-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The rematch we’ve all been waiting for, is finally upon us. Aljamain Sterling hasn’t fought since the first bout back at UFC 259, where Yan kneed him in the head illegally and was disqualified which put Sterling on a six-fight win streak. Yan bounced back from that disappointment to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 to become the interim champion and means he’s now won 11 of his last 12.

Sterling is a fantastic wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter, with unorthodox striking on the feet and a very rangy style. Yan is the most well-rounded fighter in MMA right now, with no real weaknesses and some of the best boxing and defensive wrestling in the world. In the original fight I picked Sterling to score a submission win, but after watching the fight it’s pretty clear that Yan has his number.

The Russian was able to stuff takedowns regularly, box him up from the inside and outside and his cardio held up much better than Sterling’s too. With the added bad blood now involved, expect Yan to really turn it up in the later rounds and pour on the pressure to score a late finish and reclaim his championship.
PICK – Petr Yan via Knockout, Round 4

Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) vs Korean Zombie (17-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The featherweight king returns against a new opponent and has a chance to further cement himself as the best in the world here. Volkanovski has won 20 fights in a row, including consecutive bouts over Max Holloway and then most recently Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Korean Zombie has won three of his last four, getting dominated by Ortega at UFC Fight Island 6 but bouncing back with a dominant win over Dan Ige at UFC Vegas 29 last time out. He gets this fight after Holloway withdrew due to injury.

Volkanovski runs Yan close for being the most complete fighter in the world right now. He has got unbelievable cardio, is an accomplished striker with good power and also some excellent wrestling skills to go with it. Zombie earned his nickname because of his ability to take damage and keep coming forward, but Ortega really showed the holes in his game in their fight.

The champion has got plenty of avenues to victory, because he has the edge everywhere. Jung definitely has the power to land clean and hurt Volkanovski, but I’ll be incredibly surprised if that happens. Volkanovski is cerebral enough to take a decision win if he needs too, but I expect him to lay claim to some big ground and pound after landing a takedown and earn his first finish since beating Chad Mendes back in 2018.
PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Knockout, Round 3

Major UFC fights announced for coming months

The UFC have been busy planning some big fights for the coming weeks and months.

Title fights, fight night main events, contender bouts, rumoured scraps in the pipeline and more have all been mentioned over recent weeks so here’s the big round-up for everyone that needs it.

Starting with April’s pay-per-view opener, we’ll list off all the fights that have been officially announced or rumoured for cards going through the summer so far.



UFC 273 takes place on April 9th after a two-week break in action with a big title-fight double header.

Already announced is the headliner between Alexander Volkanovski v Korean Zombie for the featherweight title, while Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will finally meet in their rematch for the bantamweight title.

But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.

The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.

Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.

We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.

The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.

Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.

We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.

Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.

It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.

UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3 – Results (Highlights)

**Hu Yaozong vs Alen Amedovski was cancelled just before the card started due to COVID-19 protocols.

EARLY PRELIMS

Zhalgas Zhumagulov def Jerome Rivera via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (2:02)

Good start to the fight from Rivera as he uses that long reach advantage to stab some kicks into the gut. Zhumagulov starts throwing some nice overhand right hands and is moving well but Rivera is putting the pace on him. Zhumagulov lands a nice left hook that drops Rivera and then synches up a nasty looking standing guillotine and forces the tap! Huge win!

Brad Tavares def Omari Akhmedov via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

Great start to the fight from Tavares as he uses his boxing well to light Akhmedov up nice and early. A nice exchange in the pocket and Tavares comes out on top of it. Nice low kick from Akhmedov but Tavares counters with a nice right hand. Akhmedov shoots in for a takedown and after a bounce on the cage gets it, but Tavares bounces straight back up. A few more takedown attempts but Tavares denies them all and lands some nice strikes in the exchanges to end the round. 10-9 Tavares.

Akhmedov steps into the second round with a nice jab and then a takedown attempt and while he gets him down he can’t hold him there and Tavares gets back up early. Tavares starts landing some heavy leg kicks and Akhmedov is feeling it. Nice jabs from Tavares but now Akhmedov is landing some heavy leg kicks of his own. Tavares steps in for a clinch and lands a big knee to the face, followed by a heavy low kick again. Akhmedov goes for another takedown but Tavares defends it well and should claim that round too. 20-18 Tavares.

Fast start to the final round from Tavares but staying patient with the volume of strikes, just pressing forward and forcing Akhmedov backwards. Tavares throws a heavy leg kick that drops Akhmedov, then lands another big one as he gets back to his feet. Great movement from Tavares and his jab is landing clean too. Akhmedov goes for a takedown but Tavares stuffs it brilliantly. Final minute and Tavares has rocked him! Big strikes just miss but Akhmedov is stumbling. Tavares lands a nice kick to end the round, great fight. 30-27 Tavares.

Jennifer Maia def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Interesting start as both women stay standing and Eye is landing really well. Nice kicks and some good hooks but Maia fires back too with a big knee up the middle. Eye lands some more short strikes and is just too fast so far. Some nice shots from Eye land and send Maia stumbling backwards and then Eye goes for a takedown and ends the round on top. 10-9 Eye.

Another good start from Eye as she continues to walk forward and lands short shots and apply pressure to Maia, who is being forced to fight on the back foot. Eye throwing some nice leg kicks but Maia is responding with a nice one-two up the middle that is landing well and often. Maia is pushing the pace now and landing big strikes. An accidental clash of heads opens up a massive cut on the head of Eye as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Maia is staying patient and not going straight for the cut. Lots of short strikes again but Eye is coming forward and landing some decent hooks and leg kicks of her own. Maia is doing really well to land the right hand and counter Eye’s pressure on the back foot. Big strikes from Maia as she applies heavy pressure herself with Eye bleeding heavily now. Great scrap, 29-28 Maia for me

PRELIMS

Dricus Du Plessis def Trevin Giles via Knockout, Round 2 (1:41)

A very tense start to the fight for both guys as they both show lots of feints and bouncing on their feet. Du Plessis throwing some leg kicks to get some score with the judges and just misses with a flying knee. Du Plessis goes for the takedown against the cage and gets it, then passes into mount immediately. He starts targeting submissions but Giles defending fairly well and scrambling to safety. Du Plessis ends up back on top and looks for a big elbow but ends the round on top. 10-9 Du Plessis.

Good start to the round from Giles as he steps forward looking to land big heavy strikes early on. Du Plessis staying patient and avoids a big flying knee but backs up to the cage after landing a nice left hand. He throws a left jab that misses then throws a big right hand that lands flush and puts Giles out! He lands some follow up punches but this one is all over! What a knockout!

Ilia Topuria def Ryan Hall via Knockout, Round 1 (4:27)

Very tense start to the fight with Hall backing up against the cage and Topuria pressuring him. Hall throws a big spinning back kick that lands well. He starts rolling for emenari rolls but Topuria is avoiding them all and doing really well to skip out. Several minutes pass of Hall rolling for legs but missing, and then Hall goes for another spin kick. Topuria catches it and forces Hall to the ground, then lands some heavy shots that put Hall out! Huge win for Topuria!

Michel Pereira def Niko Price via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Slow start to the fight as Pereira lands a nice jab and Price starts to go for some takedowns against the cage. Pereira defends well against the cage and starts firing off some big shots and his speed is troubling Price. Some superman punch attempts just miss but Pereira is doing well to keep attacking with volume. Rolling thunder attempt to finish the round and it’s 10-9 to the Brazilian.

Second round and Pereira is coming out strong, throwing a nice body kick that hurts Price. He goes on the attack and starts throwing some heavy strikes and gets Price down to the ground. Pereira starts looking for an americana submission but Price defends it, so Pereira starts raining down strikes instead. Price is just about surviving and Pereira moves to his back looking for a choke, but Price is able to roll out and get back to his feet before the round ends. 20-18 Pereira.

Final round and Price is pouring on the pressure nice and early as he sees Pereira is tiring. Price landing some big shots and Pereira just doesn’t have the same pop to his counters or movement in his legs anymore. Price pouring it on and landing some big strikes but Pereira is surviving. Nice left hand from Pereira but Price keeps coming forward. He goes all out before the end of the round but it’s likely not enough. 29-28 Pereira for me.

Max Griffin def Carlos Condit via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Hugely impressive start to the fight from Griffin as he lands some heavy leg kicks early that are getting big reactions from Condit. Griffin keeping a big pace and is doing lots of work on Condit who just can’t get going at all. Griffin landing some big strikes and Condit is in trouble! Griffin goes for the finish but Condit survives and the round ends. 10-9 Griffin, potentially even a 10-8.

Second round and Condit has come out and is walking forward and Griffin has slowed down considerably. Condit more willing to take the strikes as he comes forward and Griffin has so far completely stopped with the leg kicks. Condit continuing to step forward and landing some nice strikes but Griffin not getting hurt too much and is trying to counter. Condit lands a few more as the round ends, 19-19.

Griffin coming out much more aggressive in the final round and landing some nice jabs. Few big haymakers from Griffin are getting through, and Condit is being forced to back up now as he starts to tire. Condit starts firing back with some heavy body shots and a right hand, but Griffin throws a couple of leg kicks to snap the momentum immediately. Nice right hand again from Griffin and Condit backs up, so Griffin goes for the takedown and keeps the fight there until the round ends. 29-28 Griffin for me. Great fight.

MAIN CARD

Sean O’Malley def Kris Moutinho via Knockout, Round 3 (4:33)

Solid start to the fight from O’Malley. Suga is pushing the pace and landing some really nice jabs. Lots of heavy strikes landing but Moutinho stepping forward and looking for a right hook. O’Malley continues with the jabs and hooks through the guard and he is beating Moutinho up badly. Big right hook lands and drops Moutinho and then he goes for a spin kick that just misses. Lots of strikes and Moutinho is getting pieced up. O’Malley throws a pull right cross counter and drops Moutinho! He goes for the guillotine submission but time runs out. 10-8 O’Malley.

Second round and O’Malley is doing more of the same, just landing heavy strikes and really beating Moutinho up. Moutinho keeps storming forward though and is just missing with his right hooks. O’Malley smashing hooks and jabs through the guard but starting to tire. Moutinho keeps going forward and is talking to O’Malley and surviving the beating somehow. 20-17.

O’Malley comes out in the third round firing once again but Moutinho is just a zombie coming forward. O’Malley throwing knees, kicks, strikes and uppercuts but Moutinho is talking to him and smiling. O’Malley is fading but still throwing beautiful jabs and combinations. As the round comes into the final 30 seconds O’Malley lands a huge combination and Moutinho is hurt! He’s still standing but the referee waves it off after an accumulation.

Irene Aldana def Yana Kunitskaya via Knockout, Round 1 (4:35)

Good start to the fight from Kunitskaya with some kicks to counter the boxing attack of Aldana early on. Kunitskaya goes for a spinning wheel kick and then clinches up looking for a takedown, but Aldana defends it really well. Aldana slips a charge and lands a big right cross to the nose and then a jab, then lands a beautiful left hook to the body that hurts Kunitskaya. Some good jabs and slips and then she lands a big left hand again that drops Kunitskaya. Aldana rains down ground and pound but Kunitskaya tries to survive it by holding her hands for control. Aldana gets on top of her, slams big strikes into her face and the referee steps in to end it! Huge performance from Aldana!

Tai Tuivasa def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 1 (1:07)

Tuivasa comes out and lands some heavy leg kicks to start that Hardy immediately feels and struggles with. They start going wild with strikes and Hardy tags Tuivasa bad! He rushes in for the finish but Tuivasa counters with a crazy left-hook that puts Hardy out!!! Wow! What a knockout!!

Gilbert Burns def Stephen Thompson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very cagey start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out. Burns steps forward with some looping hooks but Thompson avoids and moves out of range once again. Burns shoots in for a takedown against the cage and after a stalemate gets the fight down. He holds top position for the remainder of the round without landing too much damage. 10-9 Burns.

Thompson comes out more on his toes and lands some good side kicks and lots of body shots to keep Burns at distance. Some nice right hands and Burns bites down on his mouthpiece to fire back but Thompson is out of the way swiftly. More kicks from Thompson and as the round comes to an end Burns gets Thompson down once again and lands some decent strikes but that’s a Thompson round. 19-19.

Final round and Burns comes out hot and heavy ready to go. Nice right hand lands and then Burns shoots for the takedown and gets it around halfway through the round. Burns sits on top of Thompson and applies pressure, with good ground and pound and just staying heavy to take what should be a decision win for him. 29-28 Burns.

Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor via Doctor Stoppage (Broken Ankle), Round 1 (5:00)

McGregor comes out and lands two sharp spinning kicks to the body followed by his teet kick. Poirier coming forward but McGregor slams some hard leg kicks into him to slow him down. Poirier responds with a couple of his own but McGregor going for the kicks. McGregor lands a nice left hand but Poirier responds with a combination that seems to buzz McGregor. McGregor clinches and Poirier goes for the takedown, but McGregor looks to sink in a guillotine choke. Poirier avoids and starts slamming in some heavy ground and pound shots, big elbows to McGregor who’s hurt! Poirier piling on the pressure and looking for a finish but McGregor is surviving for now. Poirier lets McGregor back up and he throws a punch that misses but as he plants his back foot his leg gives way and snaps! Poirier lands some shots on McGregor while he’s down as the round ends.

McGregor tells the referee and doctor his leg is broken and the doctor waves the fight off immediately! What an anti-climax to a crazy fight and trilogy!

UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3 – Main card predictions

The biggest trilogy fight in UFC history arguably is finally upon us as Dustin Poirier takes on Conor McGregor to break the deadlock between them at UFC 264.

McGregor knocked Poirier out in their first fight back in 2014, but Poirier got his own back in January at UFC 257 with a knockout win of his own to level it up at 1-1. The winner of this bout is highly likely to challenge for the lightweight title in their next bout, so the stakes could not be any higher.

In the co-main event we have a huge welterweight contender fight too as former title challengers Gilbert Burns and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson go head-to-head with each other to try and climb towards another shot against Kamaru Usman in the near future.

Also on the card is the return of ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley as he opens up the main card, while the prelims are full of exciting bouts too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 30, we went 12/6 with two perfect picks for our selection for a not so good outing. That took us to 352/554 (63.54%) with 160 perfect picks (45.45%) since starting up.

We’ll look to improve that with this huge 13 fight card, and after starting with the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, here are our main card picks.


Sean O’Malley (13-1) vs Kris Moutinho (9-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun fight to open up the main card as ‘Suga’ returns to action against short-notice opponent Kris Moutinho, making his UFC debut. O’Malley bounced back from the first defeat of his career to Marlon Vera at UFC 252 with a stunning knockout win against Thomas Almeida at UFC 260, while Moutinho has won his last two including most recently in May.

O’Malley is a phenomenal striker, with quick kicks and bricks for hands as well as his excellent jiu-jitsu skills too. Moutinho is a good striker too, with good front kicks and a nice right cross to go with it. His issue in this fight is going to be the speed difference, where O’Malley absolutely blows him out of the water.

He’s too fast, too strong and too precise and this is more of a showcase fight for O’Malley than anything else.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 1

Irene Aldana (12-6) vs Yana Kunitskaya (14-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very fun fight in the women’s bantamweight division between two potential title contenders in the near future. Aldana lost her last fight, getting dominated by Holly Holm while Kunitskaya has won her last two in a row via decision against Julija Stoliarenko at UFC Vegas 6 and Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 19.

Aldana is a very good boxer, with a good reach and a great left hook that knocked out Vieira in the past. She’s quite one dimensional though and Kunitskaya is very good at battling against her opponents strengths since she is so well rounded herself. She has good punches and kicks and some good takedown abilities, much better than Holm at least who dominated Aldana on the ground.

That leads me to believe that Kunitskaya will be able to do the same and if she can avoid getting hit clean and hard early on, but I’m not sure she will.
PICK – Irene Aldana via Decision

Tai Tuivasa (12-3) vs Greg Hardy (7-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are on the card once again as the heavyweights take up the midway point of the main card. Tuivasa had lost three-in-a-row but has since bounced back with big knockout wins over Stefan Struve at UFC 254 and then Harry Hunsucker at UFC Vegas 22. Hardy on the other hand won two in a row including a KO win over Maurice Greene at UFC Vegas 12 before getting KO’d himself by Marcin Tybura at UFC Vegas 17 last time out.

Tuivasa is a juggernaut who has legitimate one-punch knockout power but he also has a great calf kick to set up his big right hand and okay cardio for a heavyweight. Hardy is ever improving and has good power in his hands too, but is still struggling with pacing himself in fights and often blows his load in the cage. Both guys have the power to put the other away but I trust Tuivasa’s chin more than Hardy’s and he paces himself better too.

Overall it won’t be the highest quality but there will be bombs thrown and I expect Tuivasa to land one on Hardy’s chin that sends him to a new realm of consciousness.
PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 2

Gilbert Burns (19-4) vs Stephen Thompson (16-4-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger of a bout at welterweight in a real contender bout at 170lbs between Burns and Wonderboy. Burns went on a six-fight win streak to earn himself a title shot against Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 but he was knocked out in the third round by his former teammate. Thompson on the other hand has overcome a bad run to win his last two, including a dominant win over Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 17.

Burns is a jiu-jitsu fighter predominantly but he has recently fallen in love with his hands and has terrific power in both his fists for a knockout, while Thompson is a karate-style fighter who uses excellent footwork to move and his long range to score points on his opponent. Burns is at a disadvantage in height and reach and that means he has to come forward to close the distance, which is where Thompson is at his best.

He hasn’t been taken down in over four years and his striking looks crisper than ever before, so I think this could end up being quite a one-sided decision win for ‘Wonderboy’.
PICK – Stephen Thompson via Decision

Dustin Poirier (27-6) vs Conor McGregor (22-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The biggest fight of the year so far for the UFC and there isn’t a title in sight as Poirier and McGregor look to end their stalemate once and for all. Poirier is currently on a run of seven wins in nine (one no contest) with the only defeat coming to Khabib Nurmagomedov, and his most recent wins coming over Dan Hooker at UFC Vegas 4 and McGregor himself in January. ‘Notorious’ has actually lost three of his last six stretching all the way back to 2016.

Poirier is a boxer with good grappling skills and some solid kicks too as seen in the most recent bout between the two. McGregor on the other hand is a sensational kickboxer who took a more boxing heavy approach last time out to his detriment. It’s the same fight as six months ago in reality, with the difference going to be who makes the better adjustments from that bout.

The crowd being back will be a boost for McGregor but Poirier is legitimately one of the all-time great lightweights ever and he seemed to be able to take Conor’s left-hand in the first round last time. If he can do that again, the longer the fight goes the better it is for Poirier and I see him taking a unanimous decision win in a scrap that will send fans home happy.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Decision

‘Wonderboy’ can work himself back to the top with a win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 264

It’s been a long, windy road back to the top of the mountain for Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson but he’s arguably now just one fight away from earning himself another welterweight title shot in the UFC.

‘Wonderboy’ steps into the octagon and goes head-to-head with former title challenger Gilbert Burns in the co-main event at UFC 264 this weekend, knowing that a win puts him on a three-fight win streak and right back in the conversation to face Kamaru Usman for the belt.

But it hasn’t been easy since his double headers against Tyron Woodley back in 2016 and 2017.

That decision loss to Woodley in their second fight was the first of three defeats in four fights for Thompson, including the first and only knockout loss of his career against Anthony Pettis.

Since then however he has re-grouped, re-focused and scored dominant, bonus-earning decision victories against Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal to put himself back inside the top five. A win over Burns, who is currently ranked at number two, would elevate him straight into title contention for the first time in four years.

Dana White has already stated and confirmed that Colby Covington will receive the next title shot against Usman later this year, while Leon Edwards’ win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263 should have earned him the winner of that fight in theory.

But Thompson has the chance to grab the headlines on one of the biggest cards of the year when he takes on Burns, where a spectacular performance could arguably see him leapfrog Edwards into that spot to further rub salt into the wounds of the Brit.

The most likely option is probably for Edwards to fight the winner to set up the number one contender, but he won’t be keen on that after rattling off ten fights unbeaten since his last defeat back in 2015 to the current champion.

Burns is no pushover, so talk of Wonderboy just waltzing into that position is false anyway. But this is the opportunity that the karate expert has been waiting for and talking about for years. This is arguably his last chance to get there, considering he’s now 38-years-old.

A defeat relegates him from the conversation once more and with his injury issues and how stacked the division is, he’ll find it hard to get back into the conversation any time soon.

But this is a fight that is favourable to him stylistically and has huge implications on the rest of the division’s future. ‘Wonderboy’ has a chance to get back to the top of the mountain on Saturday night and take all the welterweight headlines at UFC 264.

UFC announce several high-profile bouts for second quarter of 2021

The UFC have announced a host of huge main event bouts for the remainder of the second quarter of 2021 as they look to return to normality following the COVID-19 pandemic.

After it was announced that the company would return to a full, sold-out, capacity crowd for UFC 261 on April 24th – headlined by Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal 2 for the welterweight title – they have looked to put together some mega fights and cards as we close out the first half of the year.

UFC 262 will also take place in front of a sold out arena on May 15th, with the vacant lightweight title on the line as Charles Oliveira takes on Michael Chandler in the main event. That card will also feature Leon Edwards taking on Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title five-round co-main event in UFC history, while Tony Ferguson will battle Beneil Dariush also.

Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno will then meet in their much anticipated rematch for the flyweight title at UFC 263 on June 12th before the big trilogy bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264 on July 10th.

With the pay-per-view main events set for the foreseeable future, the UFC have now announced some of their Fight Night main events and some other notable bouts too.

After UFC 261, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon following his defeat at UFC 253 when he takes on Jiri Prochazka on May 1st in their main event bout. Prochazka made his UFC debut at UFC 251 with a stunning knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir to shoot himself into contention for the top five. This fight was originally scheduled for February but Reyes was forced to withdraw due to injury.

The bantamweight division will then see its next contender rise to the top of the rankings as Cory Sandhagen takes on returning former champion TJ Dillashaw in the main event on May 8th. Sandhagen impressively knocked out Marlon Moraes on Fight Island in October before flatlining Frankie Edgar in February and was expected to challenge for the title before the controversial finish to Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259.

These two will now battle it out for the number one contender spot, with Yan and Sterling certain to compete in a rematch later this year. Dillashaw makes his return to the octagon after serving a two-year suspension after admitting to injecting EPO ahead of his flyweight title fight with Henry Cejudo in 2019.

The following weekend will see UFC 262, before a return to the bantamweights headlining as Cody Garbrandt takes on Rob Font in a battle of heavy hands. ‘No Love’ last fought at UFC 250 with a highlight reel knockout over Raphael Assuncao, before being scheduled to move down to 125lbs for a flyweight title fight against Figueiredo. Garbrandt was forced to withdraw with injury and ‘Deus da Guerra’ instead fought Alex Perez at UFC 255.

Font on the other hand made it three wins in a row when he took out Marlon Moraes in the first round of their bout at UFC Vegas 17 in the final card of 2020. A win for him will push him into the title picture too as he currently sits at number three in the rankings.

UFC 217 Weigh-ins : News Photo
TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will both return to the octagon in May

Moving into June, at UFC 263 welterweight jiu-jitsu king Demian Maia will make his return to the octagon for the first time since being brutally knocked out by Gilbert Burns at UFC Brasilia last year – the first event to take place without fans due to the pandemic – when he takes on Belal Muhammad.

Muhammad stepped in on short notice to fight Leon Edwards last month but the fight was unfortunately cut short after an eye-poke from the Brit meant ‘Bully’ was unable to continue. He’s seemingly been rewarded for the short-notice step in though, as he’ll shoot up the rankings with a win as he takes on number eight Maia despite currently sitting at number 13.

The following Fight Night card on June 19th will be headlined by two top featherweights as the Korean Zombie returns to the cage to take on Dan ’50K’ Ige. Zombie was given a striking lesson in his last bout when he was dominated by Brian Ortega on Fight Island, while Ige bounced back from a defeat to Calvin Kattar last summer with a huge knockout win over Gavin Tucker at UFC Vegas 21 to live up to his nickname with a performance bonus.

Following on from that on June 26th, two heavyweight contenders will main event a Fight Night card as Alexander Volkov and Ciryl Gane meet in the octagon. Both giants have already picked up main event wins in 2021, with Volkov knocking out Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18 before Gane dominated Jairzinho Rozenstruik to remain unbeaten at UFC Vegas 20 just a few weeks later.

With the top of the division currently at a standstill as Jon Jones and the UFC have a contract impasse and Derrick Lewis waiting on a decision to see if he will fight new champion Francis Ngannou next for the title, Volkov and Gane have chosen to stay busy and look improve their own situations in the running for a potential title shot in the future.

That fight will be backed up by a bantamweight banger between two of the most underrated fighters in the division as Raoni Barcelos takes on Timur Valiev. Barcelos returned after nearly a year away from the cage with a masterful performance against Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 13 before seeing his next three bouts fall through for various reasons. He has won his last nine fights professionally and is 5-0 in the UFC.

Valiev earned himself a unanimous decision win over Martin Day at UFC Vegas 18, which followed a no-contest against Trevin Giles who failed a drug test following their bout at UFC Vegas 7. Valiev was knocked out in that fight but since it was overturned, he is officially unbeaten in eight bouts in a row.

Last but not least, the UFC also announced blockbuster welterweight co-main event for UFC 264 on July 10th when Gilbert Burns returns to the cage to take on Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Burns was on a tear at 170lbs and fought Usman for the title at UFC 258 in February, only to suffer a third round TKO loss to his former teammate. He’ll be taking on former title challenger Thompson who has won his last two fights in a row, defeating Vicente Luque and then Geoff Neal most recently at UFC Vegas 17 in December. Both men are looking to get back into the title picture as soon as possible and with Leon Edwards hoping that a win over Nate Diaz at UFC 262 can earn him a fight against the winner of Usman vs Masvidal later this year. A win for either of these two competitors in July could see them challenge next for the title, especially if they can do it impressively.

What should be next for Leon Edwards?

It’s not often that a UFC card ends with an anti-climax in terms of what happens next, but that’s exactly what happened at UFC Vegas 21 between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad.

The two met in a welterweight main event after Muhammad agreed to step in on short-notice following the withdrawal of Khamzat Chimaev due to complications with COVID-19. It was short-lived though, and not in a spectacular finish type of way.

After a comfortable first round for Edwards, he poked Muhammad in the eye at the start of the second round accidentally when going for a head-kick and the fight was brought to a premature end by the ringside doctor.

After the fight Edwards was quick to state that he didn’t see a need for a rematch despite the bitter ending to the fight, especially considering it’s not a fight that was supposed to take place anyway.

Muhammad responded on social media after revealing that there was no permanent damage to the eye, calling Edwards out and saying he is ‘soft’ for claiming a rematch isn’t warranted.

While some agree with Muhammad the vast majority, including myself, agree with Edwards – a rematch isn’t necessary. The fight had no business taking place as it was and only happened because nobody else would step up. While it’s admirable that he did, that doesn’t mean he gets a permanent boost up the rankings with match ups.

It was an opportunity that was unfortunately taken away from him, but that same thing has happened to Chimaev. He’s lost his opportunity to jump the queue and will now have to have a new match up with someone closer to his ranking. It’s unfortunate, and maybe unfair, but it’s also unfair to make Edwards fight someone so far below a ranking he’s earned while he pursues a title shot.

Muhammad of course challenged Li Jingliang due to their ranking positions after his most recent win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258, so that is a match up that can be revisited.

As for Edwards, I don’t totally agree with his belief that he earned a title shot off the back of this one rounder. If he’d got the finish, then definitely, but you can’t award someone a title shot off the back of a no contest following a year and a half out – even if they were on an eight-fight win streak before that.

His best bet is a fight with Colby Covington in a title eliminator, or go up against the most recent number one contender in Gilbert Burns.

Burns challenged Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 but got KO’d in round three following an excellent stand-up display from the champion. Since then, he has claimed he wants to get back in quickly against a top contender to earn another shot – calling out Covington also.

Covington believes he’s due another shot at the belt already after destroying Tyron Woodley in his most recent fight at UFC Vegas 11, but the UFC champion disagrees. Usman has called out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch later this year after their UFC 251 bout in July last year happened on just six days’ notice.

With that fight confirmed to take place at UFC 261 in front of a full capacity crowd on April 24th, Covington holds the keys to the future of the division.

The fight was the UFC’s pick to fill in when Chimaev dropped out and it’s the fight that makes the most sense, but Covington has shown in the past that he is more than willing to turn fights down if he doesn’t want to take them.

That could open the door up for Burns to jump into the position and get himself in the reckoning once again.

Burns and Covington are the only fighters ranked above Edwards right now that aren’t the champion so one of those has to be his next opponent if any of this is to make sense. The obvious answer is Covington in a title eliminator, with the winner fighting against the winner of Usman vs Masvidal 2 (which doesn’t need to happen btw).

The welterweight division is finally opening up now and with a few correct decisions from the match-makers with some willing fighters could make this an absolutely belting years at 170lbs.

UFC 258 Fallout: Usman shows the levels at 170lbs

The welterweight monarchy has been settled and Kamaru Usman is still at the top of the food chain, after a spectacular performance saw him defeat Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two former Blackzilians teammates met in the main event with the welterweight championship on the line, with many believing that the former lightweight would pose the biggest threat to the Nigerian Nightmare’s crown.

It looked like that might be the case too, as the first big punch of the fight that was thrown by Burns and rocked Usman more than he’s ever shown in a fight before. He was clearly stunned by the punch and used his jab to circle away and shake the cobwebs, which ended up being the pattern of the rest of the fight.

Interestingly enough Usman refused to engage with Burns on the ground when he did get him down on a few occasions, instead opting to throw kicks from a standing position and the odd body shot too. From then on, Burns seemed to buzz Usman whenever he landed the overhand right but the champ took the fight over with his jab.

He dropped him several times in round two with it, switching stances and landing power shots including a beautiful pull right-hand counter that rocked Burns to the point of him doing a dance. He ended up getting the finish early in the third round, having dropped Burns with another jab and then ground and pounding him until Herb Dean stepped in.

It was a tremendous performance from the 33-year-old, who moved ahead of Georges St-Pierre for most consecutive wins in the welterweight divisions at 13 while also tying Khabib Nurmagomedov for best start to a UFC career with 13 wins. Only Anderson Silva went longer before tasting defeat in the octagon, with 16 wins.

The win proved to many what they already believed, Usman is levels above everyone else in the welterweight division. It means he has now defeated six of the current top eight ranked 170lbers in the company, more than any other champion.

He called out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch following back and forth online, stating that he wants ‘Street Jesus’ to have no excuses this time so he can finish him and shut his mouth. He finished the “call out” by also stating that “any of these fools can get it” if it ends up being someone else. While that fight is possible, he’s also got the likes of Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Michael Chiesa chomping at the bit for a shot at his gold.

A performance like that, with a resume like his and the potential challenges going forward that he has, Usman is well on his way to cementing G.O.A.T status in his division.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber’s return to action was spoiled by an excellent boxing display from Alexa Grasso as she toughed out a unanimous decision win. Grasso landed crisper strikes and showed that flyweight is her natural weight class as she was able to hold her own in the clinch exchanges and even showed some excellent grappling transitions in the second round too.

Grasso will move into the top ten now where a fight against the likes of Viviane Araujo become a fun prospect, while Barber’s chances of becoming the youngest UFC champion in history are completely over now if they weren’t already before this.

She will have to go back to the drawing board, but she showed enough toughness and skill at just 22-years-old to prove that she will be around for a long time and will only get better as time goes on.

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Results (Highlights)

**Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick was cancelled hours before the event after Robertson withdrew due to a non-covid related illness.**

**Jim Miller vs Bobby Greene was cancelled the day before the event due to Greene collapsing following his weight cut.**


EARLY PRELIMS

Gabe Green def Phil Rowe via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the fight as Rowe opens with a leg kick and flicks out some long punches to use his range. Both men exchange leg kicks but Rowe lands a couple of nice right hands. Green looking to go first with his strikes but Rowe using his footwork well to step away. The two clinch up and Green gets a takedown, but Rowe quickly reverses the position and ends up in mount. Rowe looks for a few submissions but Green defends well and eventually gets back up to his feet and goes for a submission of his own. Rowe defends it well and eventually gets back up, with the two clinching against the cage to end the round. 10-9 Rowe.

Fast start to the round for Green as he comes out with a heavy low kick that drops Rowe! He gets on with some ground and pound but Rowe gets up quickly and the two start exchanging heavy strikes. Green throws a body kick but it hits Rowe in the cup and there is a short pause in the fight. The two come back and Green lands a huge right hook that wobbles Rowe! He looks for the kill with big shots against the cage but then accidentally lands another low blow that allows a pause for Rowe to recover. They come out swinging again and Green lands some nice shots before Rowe lands a flying knee and clinches up quickly. They break and meet in the middle and Rowe lands a huge right hand but Green eats it and keeps coming forward. Green throws another heavy leg kick and Rowe drops again, so Green throws some ground and pound until the end of the round. 19-19.

Green lands a big leg kick early in the round and immediately Rowe starts hobbling and limping. Green tries to throw a head kick but Rowe catches it and shoots for the takedown and gets it. Green tries to get up and transitions into a leg lock but doesn’t really know what he’s doing there and as they try to get up again, Rowe trips him and gets another takedown. Green fighting off his back and not really trying to get back to his feet weirdly, so Rowe continues riding him from mount until Green finally gets up with 90 seconds to go. Green throws a big leg kick again that drops Rowe but then he steps in for ground and pound and Rowe is able to clinch up and battle until the end of the round. I think the top control has won this for Rowe, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)

A tactical start to this one with both men flowing between stances, with Gutierrez feinting a lot while Ewell is flicking out right hands. Ewell lands a flush left hand but Gutierrez eats it and the tactical battle continues, with some leg kicks beginning to be thrown. Not much action as we enter the final minute, with Ewell on his bike and circling. Gutierrez rushes in to close the distance and they clinch against the cage, which allows Gutierrez to land a nice knee to the body and he’s opened a cut above Ewell’s eye. We enter the final 10 seconds and Ewell dips for hook and Gutierrez counters with a big head kick that drops him! He charges for the finish but the buzzer may well have saved him. 10-9 Gutierrez.

Ewell still looks a little wobbly as they come out for the second round and Gutierrez is landing some nice leg kicks again that are taking their toll on Ewell’s movement. Ewell is trying to counter Gutierrez’s striking with his range but he’s not landing anything of note. Gutierrez’s lack of volume costing him again at the moment as Ewell continues to move and uses his left jab well to land more frequently. Ewell pushes forward and forces an exchange, catches a kick and gets a takedown with 40 seconds to go in the round. He looks for a heel hook and has it in deep but Gutierrez is able to escape as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Gutierrez comes out strong and is throwing heavy leg kicks again and even gets Ewell to acknowledge the pain. Gutierrez starting to up the pace a little and pushes forward and lands a huge spin kick that Ewell eats. More leg kicks and Ewell is struggling to stand now, so he starts landing some big punches that have Ewell wobbling. More leg kicks from Gutierrez and Ewell is really struggling to move around, but he doesn’t have the power to put Gutierrez away. Ewell looks for a takedown late on but Gutierrez stuffs it and ends the round looking for a submission. Great round for him and that should be a win for Gutierrez.

Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:18)

Quick start to the round from both women as they stand and exchange before Martin grabs for a clinch and Viana pulls guard immediately. Viana starts throwing lots of elbows on the ground and is moving constantly to prevent Martin from holding her down. She throws up a triangle and it’s in tightttt! Martin tries to escape but Viana grabs and arm and starts throwing elbows to the head with the triangle still synched in. Martin is still fighting it and stands up and tries to slam Viana, which just makes the triangle tighter. She refuses to tap and Viana starts attacking the arm, first going for an Americana and then she transitions to a full armbar before she gets the tap. What a performance from the Brazilian!

Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Immediate pressure from Muhammad who walks straight over to Lima and starts pressuring him. He shoots for a takedown against the cage but Lima defends it will and they separate. Nice leg kicks in response from Lima land well, but Muhammad continues to come forward with big, looping hooks and some body work. Straight left hand lands from Muhammad as he fakes the level change and he’s controlling the pace of this fight. Takedown attempt from Muhammad again and he gets it in deep but Lima is able to defend it once more. Lima throws a big right hand that snaps the head back of Muhammad and gets his attention. Muhammad responds with a beautiful combination of jabs, hooks and body shots to take back control and see the round out. 10-9.

Muhammad comes out and once again looks to control the range by backing Lima up against the cage and throwing nice combinations. Lima throwing out some jabs of his own but Muhammad really dominating the striking exchanges early on. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad but easily defended by Lima to keep the fight on the feet. Big overhand right from Muhammad lands but Lima responds with a calf kick that wobbles him! Lima throws two more in the exchanges that follow but Muhammad is trying to grit his teeth and keep going, pushing the pace still. Muhammad’s pace starting to take it’s toll on Lima, who’s breathing heavy, and he shoots in for a takedown which Lima defends again. Round ends with the two clinching against the cage, in what should go Muhammad’s way. 20-18.

Lima opens the round with a leg kick and then a head kick, but Muhammad comes back with some big shots of his own. Muhammad shoots in for a takedown again and manages to take the back while standing, but Lima defends really well against the cage. Muhammad pouring on the pressure now and landing some solid strikes against the cage before shooting for another takedown that gets stuffed. Lima breathing really heavy now and eats a huge right hand but Muhammad just keeps coming forward, landing jabs and one-twos to the face. Lima goes for a single leg takedown but he’s exhausted and Muhammad easily stuffs it and starts pouring on more shots. Muhammad shoots for a takedown again and finally gets it with a minute to go in the fight. Muhammad takes the back but Lima stands with him on top of him still as Muhammad reigns down punches until the end of the round. 30-27, great performance.

Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:53)

An immediate takedown shot from Vieira allows him in deep and he picks Hernandez up and slams him down immediately. He ends up on top and starts pressuring for an arm triangle immediately, then switches to take the back. He looks to crank the neck, but Hernandez turns and allows him into mount before defending an armbar attempt and getting back to the feet. Hernandez pours the pressure on and starts landing bombs and Vieira is hurt! Hernandez is landing huge strikes and now he’s going for a choke but the buzzer goes and saves him! What a round! 10-9 Hernandez.

Second round starts and Hernandez knows that Vieira is out on his feet already. He’s completely exhausted and Vieira is throwing kicks, elbows and hooks looking to take his head off. A huge elbow lands from Hernandez and opens up a massive cut on his face! Vieira is out on his feet and shoots for a takedown but it’s easily defended by Hernandez, who syncs in a guillotine choke and forces Vieira to tap out! Unbelievable!

MAIN CARD

Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 3 (4:17)

No feeling out process in this one as Pitolo comes out and immediately throws a calf kick, a head kick and then a combination of strikes that ends with an uppercut. They clinch up against the cage and Pitolo seems like the stronger man off the bat and eventually gets a takedown. Pitolo completely dominating on the ground and landing some heavy ground and pound as Marquez works his way back up to his knees, before Pitolo looks to drag him back down again. He gets up again and Pitolo just starts grinding him against the cage but Marquez throws him off and then sinks in a guillotine! Pitolo stays standing and is able to fight the hands to break the grip before Marquez lands a heavy right hand to end the round. 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round starts out on the feet and Marquez looking to take the centre and establish a striking battle. He gets the better of the first couple of exchanges and then a kick from Marquez grazes the cup and the fight is paused for a short while. Fight resumes and Marquez comes marching forward again and slips, which allows Pitolo to grab onto his body and start wrestling again. He rag dolls Marquez for a few seconds before a striking exchange and change of levels allows Marquez to go for that guillotine again! It looks like it’s in really tight but Pitolo rolls through and escapes. Some good ground and pound from Marquez but Pitolo explodes up and is able to get on top himself once again. The rest of the round has Pitolo landing solid ground and pound and searching for submissions, 20-18 Pitolo.

Marquez comes out hard in the final round knowing he needs the finish. Lots of heavy strikes from Marquez land hard and Pitolo is looking tired. Body kick lands and Marquez lands big against the cage with a spinning elbow! Pitolo moves away but he’s rocked and shoots for a takedown, which Marquez defends with a guillotine again. Pitolo eventually gets the takedown and moves for a submission but Marquez escapes and starts landing huge strikes again. Big three punch combo rocks Pitolo and then he lands a big knee to the head. Pitolo shoots again but Marquez stuffs it and sinks in a d’arce choke for the win! What a round! Unbelievable!

Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this fight as both fighters meet in the middle of the octagon and exchange before Simon shoots and scores a takedown. He immediately starts throwing big ground and pound strikes and as Kelleher looks to escape he jumps back on him and takes the back. Kelleher has a big cut above his eye as Simon squeezes him and looks to grind him. More ground and pound before Kelleher eventually gets to his feet, with the cut really bothering him. More pressure from Simon, who gets another takedown before Kelleher fights his way back up before the end of the round. 10-9 Simon.

Another fast start for Simon as he comes in quickly with some jabs and lovely uppercut to the body. Kelleher responds with a front kick to the face that snaps Simon’s head back, but he continues to come forward and lands another body shot. Another big front kick to the face lands from Kelleher but Simon eats it and walks forward for a takedown, but Keller is able to get back to his feet quickly. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and check them well, before Simon shoots in for a takedown and gets it – avoiding the guillotine attempt from Kelleher. They clinch against the cage and Simon throws a big spinning elbow on the break that just misses. Fun round, 20-18 Simon.

Bit of a slower start to this one, with Simon happy to circle on the outside as Kelleher comes forward. Some nice upwards elbows from Simon look good before he ducks under an attempted elbow from Kelleher and clinches up. Simon changes levels against the cage and takes him down, with Kelleher looking for a guillotine but Simon gets out easily and starts landing nice ground and pound to the face. Kelleher goes for a kimura from the bottom but Simon defends it by reversing the position and going for his own kimura, which allows Kelleher to scramble back to his feet. Simon keeps him against the cage and takes the back, landing big knees and just dominating the position and then holding his own in the striking for what should be a comfortable win. 30-27 Simon.

Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Heinisch comes out early and quickly and lands a leg kick followed by shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Gastelum quickly gets to his feet and rolls through to end up on top, so Heinisch attacks a kimura. He’s got the arm extended but Gastelum stays calm and is able to escape it. He takes Heinisch down again and ends up in mount, but another kimura attempt allows him to get towards the cage and kick off it to escape. Clinch against the cage and Gastelum changes levels to score takedowns, although he is unable to keep Heinisch down. Both men miss a head kick as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum.

Heinisch looking to land heavy shots early in this second round with wild hooks and cracks Gastelum twice, but he just eats it and walks forward. Flying knee lands clean from Heinisch, but Gastelum catches the leg too and ends up with a takedown. Heinisch gets back to his feet and Gastelum lands a leg kick, then clinches against the cage again. Another shot from Gastelum as he gets a body lock and pushes Heinisch all the way back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Gastelum, but Heinisch trying to make it a dirty fight with more wild exchanges. Wild hook misses and Gastelum shoots and drives to the cage again to end the round, 20-18 Kelvin.

Gastelum starts the round with a lazy shot that is easily defended by Heinisch, who then shoots for his own takedown and gets it before Gastelum scrambles back to his feet quickly. Gastelum using his jab and straight left hand more in this round, as Heinisch goes for a flying knee that gets caught once again and ends up with Gastelum on top of him. Beautiful roll through from Heinisch sees him reverse the position and take Gastelum’s back. He lands some nice ground and pound as he searches for a submission but Gastelum is able to reverse and ends up on top before they get back to the feet and clinch. Looping left hook by Gastelum misses and and Heinisch shoots and gets one last takedown, although Gastelum reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own to end on top. 30-27, he’s back in the win column.

Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight from Grasso as both women throw out a few feeler strikes before clinching up against the cage and coming to a stalemate before separating. Sharp one-two from Grasso lands flush on the chin of Barber and forces her to move in for another clinch position. Nice elbow lands in the clinch from Grasso before Barber throws some nice knees in the clinch. Big elbow and left hand on the break from Barber lands clean but Grasso eats it. Both girls lands huge shots that land clean on each other before they clinch up and see the round out. 10-9 Grasso, but it’s close.

Barber throwing a lot of feints from way out of range that are serving little to no purpose other than wasting energy right now. Short exchange leads to a clinch before a quick separation before both women lands huge right hands at the same time. Barber seems to be rocked a little more than Grasso from it and they clinch up again. Barber lands an elbow on the break before they clinch up once again. Barber separates and throws a straight left hand that lands clean before a right hook follows it up. Grasso ends up on her back and Barber goes hunting for ground and pound, but Grasso transitions with an armbar attempt then switches to a head-and-arm choke before taking the back and ending the round in dominant fashion. 20-18 Grasso.

Barber comes out in the third throwing wild strikes with no real end goal to them as Grasso keeps out of range and looks calm. Grasso eats a right hand and then they clinch against the cage, with Grasso landing big knees to the body. Nice trip by Barber gets her into top position and she lands a huge elbow on the ground. A few more shots and Grasso gets back to her feet. Barber lands a knee in the clinch and keeps throwing big hooks and power punches that have got Grasso wobbling. Another clinch as Barber fails with a takedown attempt, with Barber throwing big elbows from the clinch too. Final 30 seconds and Barber going hell for leather but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the win. 29-28 Grasso.

Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns via Knockout, Round 3 (0:34)

Crazy start to the fight as Burns comes out early and lands a huge right hand that rocks Usman! Burns pours on the pressure early but Usman defends himself with a jab and some composure. Burns goes for a head kick but Usman catches it and sends him to the mat, but then doesn’t follow him down. The next two minutes are spent with Burns on his back tempting Usman to come to the ground, but instead he just kicks the legs and throws body shots. They get back to the feet and Usman lands a stiff jab several times and stuffs a Burns takedown attempt to end the round. Fun stuff! 10-9 either way, but to Usman for me. Just.

Slower start to this round from both fighters, as Burns takes the centre of the octagon again. Usman’s jab still landing nicely, but Burns coming forward with an overhand right that seems to stun Usman whenever it lands. The jab is having a big effect, and Usman throws a big overhand right that lands flush and hurts Burns! He follows up with more hooks and jabs and Burns is wobbling bad. Burns shoots for the takedown but Usman stuffs it and lads another jab that drops Burns. Burns tries to tempt Usman down to the floor again but Usman makes him stand again and sees the round out with his jab. Huge round for Usman! 20-18 Usman.

Third round starts and Usman comes to take the centre early. Big left jab lands clean and drops Burns once again! He lands a huge overhand right that puts Burns’ lights out on the ground and keeps punching as Burns tries to stand up. A few more shots and Herb Dean waves the fight off! Huge knockout win for the Nigerian Nightmare! Wow!

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Main Card Predictions

The first of six UFC title fights in the next six events takes place this weekend as Kamaru Usman finally defends his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two have seen the fight collapse twice before, having originally been scheduled to meet at UFC 251 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Burns out, before injuries to Usman meant their December date didn’t come to fruition either.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.

Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card and with the prelims already predicted, lets get on the main card!


Maki Pitolo (13-7) vs Julian Marquez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight bout between Pitolo and the returning Marquez, who makes his first appearance in the octagon since July 2018.

Pitolo is 1-3 in the UFC, including losses in his last two against Darren Stewart and Impa Kasanganay, while Marquez lost a split decision to Alessio Di Chirico before tearing his latissimum dorsi muscle and being told he’d never fight again.

Pitolo is a good grappler and good striker, pretty well rounded all over while Marquez was a relatively hittable striker back in the day. The fact he hasn’t fought for so long is worrying but he has a power advantage from what he had in the past and with Pitolo happy to take a punch to give a punch, that could land him in trouble. It’s tough to call, but I’ll lean with the power of Marquez.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2

Ricky Simon (17-3) vs Brian Kelleher (22-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A quick turnaround for Simon as he takes on β€˜Bam Bam’ Kelleher in the featherweight division.

Simon got a win on Fight Island last month with a fantastic performance and submission win against Gaetano Pirrello, while Kelleher went 3-1 in 2020 including a 39 second submission win over Ray Rodriguez back in October.

Simon is a fantastic wrestler, who applies phenomenal pressure and looks to work his submission game once he gets down there while Kelleher is a powerful striker who has a violent guillotine in his locker too. Kelleher’s wrestling isn’t awful, but Simon has a huge advantage in that area. He has shown a wobbly chin before and Kelleher has finished all but one of his wins in the UFC. With that said, Simon’s wrestling is so good I do expect he’ll get the takedowns in a safe way to avoid the guillotine chokes and dominate from top position for a decision win.
PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision

Jim Miller (32-15) vs Bobby Green (27-11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Two UFC veterans come together in this one in what should prove to be a relatively exciting fight at lightweight. Miller went 1-2 in 2020 losing to Scott Holtzman in February, beating Roosevelt Roberts in June and then losing to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252, while Green went 3-1 in 2020 with wins over Clay Guida, Lando Vannata and Alan Patrick before a controversial loss to Thiago Moises.

Miller is a submission monster, with 18 wins coming by way of tap-out in his career. He’s excellent on the mat but he comes up against Green who has been excellent on the feet in his most recent fights but has also shown fantastic grappling defence and solid wrestling.

Green has power to hurt Miller and a speed advantage, so I expect Green should be able to out land Miller on the feet an keep the fight standing with his takedown defence so I expect a decision win.
PICK – Bobby Green via Decision

Kelvin Gastelum (15-6 1NC) vs Ian Heinisch (14-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight clash that will see two men battling to get back on track to work their way up the rankings in the 185lbs division. Gastelum put together a decent run at middleweight before losing to Israel Adesanya in the interim title fight, before losing to Darren Till and then getting ankle-picked by Jack Hermansson in July in just 78 seconds. Heinisch lost two in a row at the back end of 2019 before bouncing back with a win over Gerald Meerschaert in June.

Gastelum is a heavy handed striker with a good wrestling background, while Heinisch is very similar in style. In a very even match up, the difference between the two is generally in the cardio department where Gastelum rarely gasses out. Heinisch is the crisper striker of the two but Gastelum has a speed advantage and is coming back with a point to prove after three losses in a row.

It’s a really close fight and there’s not much in it either way, but I think Gastelum’s power and speed could be enough to get him a close decision win once the fight gets into the later rounds.
PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Decision

Maycee Barber (8-1) vs Alexa Grasso (12-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The return of Maycee Barber is the co-main event of this event as she takes on Alexa Grasso in the women’s flyweight division. Barber was 8-0 before losing her last fight to Roxanne Modafferi, where she tore her ACL in the second round and got dominated on the ground. Grasso has alternated wins and losses since 2016, with a win in her last bout against Ji Yeon Kim in August last year.

Both women are great strikers with Barber having a big power advantage, but Grasso’s boxing is arguably more polished. Barber is bigger physically, stronger, faster and just has a lot of advantages in this bout. While Grasso is a good talent in her own right, she’s been set up to fail in this one.

Barber should return to the octagon with a statement win here, and I expect a one-sided display for ‘The Future’.
PICK – Maycee Barber via Knockout, Round 2

Kamaru Usman (17-1) vs Gilbert Burns (19-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The welterweight division can finally move on from this match up after this weekend as ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ takes on his long-time teammate Gilbert Burns for the title. Usman is undefeated in the UFC and has won 16 fights in a row in total, defeating Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington before dominating Jorge Masvidal last time out. Burns is on a six-fight win streak of his own, with wins over Demian Maia and Woodley himself in his last two fights to set this bout up.

The two trained together for many years under Henry Hooft but when this fight was made, Usman went to work with Justin Gaethje and Trevor Wittman which means his striking will almost certainly have improved while he’s been away. Burns is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who has started leaning on his knockout power more in recent times, because he’s so confident on the ground.

He’s going to need that grappling more than ever in this one, with Usman’s style always to back his opponent up to the cage then use his incredible physicality to get a takedown and dominate on the ground. He showed in his fight with Covington that he has a great chin and knockout power too and while Burns will cause him problems from the bottom, Usman is a level above any welterweight in the world and should win this one.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision