Tag Archives: Gillian Robertson

UFC Vegas 60: Sandhagen vs Yadong – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas after the wild ride that was UFC 279 for a huge bantamweight main event.

Former title challenger Cory Sandhagen headlines the card against hot prospect Song Yadong, in his first main event and a real step up in competition.

A stacked 14-fight card will see several fights with some good debutants and some impressive prospects a chance to make themselves a name in the UFC.

Last time out at UFC 279 we went 8/13 with three perfect picks for the night to move to 723/1119 (64.61%) with 305 perfect picks (42.19%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that, starting with the early prelims picks now.


Nikolas Motta (12-4) vs Cameron VanCamp (15-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fun lightweight scrap to open the card here. Motta suffered defeat in his UFC debut when he got KO’d by the legendary Jim Miller back in February, while VanCamp suffered the same fate against Andre Fialho at UFC 274 in his debut.

Motta is a counter striker who likes to use pressure to force his opponents into decisions they don’t want to make, before landing bombs of his own to starch opponents. He has won eight of 12 via knockout. VanCamp on the other hand is a striker too, but he has rather unorthodox technique and likes to use it to set up his solid submission game which has seen him earn nine tap out wins in his career.

Despite both guys getting knocked out last time they were in the cage, this fight tends to lean towards Motta’s style. He is aggressive with his strikes and has good takedown defence to keep the fight standing. VanCamp will look to create space using his size, but I expect Motta to be able to slip and counter to score a big knockout and get into the win column.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Knockout, Round 2

Tony Gravely (23-7) vs Javid Basharat (12-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An exciting bantamweight clash up next between two fun guys. Gravely has won his last two after claiming a decision over Saimon Oliveira (UFC 270) before a knockout win over Johnny Munhoz Jr back in June. Basharat is an unbeaten fighter who claimed a decision win over Trevin Jones back in March in his debut.

Gravely is a very underrated 135-pounder with heavy hands and excellent wrestling in his back pocket and plenty of experience. Basharat is a super well-rounded fighter who has great striking and a decent submission game too, splitting his wins 6/5 between submissions and knockouts. This is a big step up in competition for him though and he’s never faced a wrestler as good as Gravely.

If Basharat is capable of moving well and stuffing takedowns against a guy that he has a decent size advantage on, then he will be proving that he’s ready for ranked opponents in my eyes. Gravely will be a phenomenal test, but I think he could be more eye catching with his strikes to claim a close decision win.
PICK – Javid Basharat via Decision



Mariya Agapova (10-3) vs Gillian Robertson (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting women’s flyweight bout next. Agapova came into the UFC as a wrecking ball but has lost two of her last three, including a submission loss to Maryna Moroz at UFC 272 last time out. Robertson on the other hand is highly rated, but has lost three of her last four in the UFC dropping decisions to Taila Santos (UFC Vegas 17), Miranda Maverick (UFC 260) and JJ Aldrich most recently. She did submit Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 269 though.

Agapova is a powerful striker with great speed and movement in her arsenal, but big struggles with the grappling side of her game. Robertson is the opposite, a brilliant grappler with trouble on the feet against top strikers. So obviously, this fight will be exciting. Agapova will want to keep the fight standing and use her boxing combinations, while Robertson will try to wrestle and drag her to the mat to work her jiu-jitsu game.

Ultimately this is a question about whether or not Agapova is powerful enough to get a finish on the feet before she gets taken down, because she will get taken down. Robertson looked off against Aldrich but she’s shown enough in the past to convince me she can get this to the mat, and then she’ll work to get the back of a panicking Agapova and eventually take the neck for a choke.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1

Trey Ogden (15-5) vs Daniel Zellhuber (12-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight scrap now closes out this section of the card. Ogden came into the UFC on a three-fight win streak, but suffered a split decision loss to Jordan Leavitt in his debut last time out. Zellhuber is an undefeated fighter, who earned a contract a year ago on the Contender Series thanks to a decision win.

Ogden is a wrestler with good cardio but he showed in his debut that his striking defence is essentially non-existent, especially when it comes to low kicks. That’s a big problem in this fight, as Zellhuber is a powerful striker with great footwork, cardio, crushing kicks and good defensive grappling. Stylistically it’s a really tough match up, but Zellhuber has the advantages.

“Golden Boy” has got good volume and his length should see him control the range, meaning he will be able to pick Ogden off with more leg kicks and eventually hurt Ogden with his combinations for a solid decision win.
PICK – Daniel Zellhuber via Decision

UFC Vegas 50: Santos vs Ankalaev – Prelims predictions

After a banger of a pay-per-view card last weekend the UFC returns to their APEX in Las Vegas for a big light heavyweight headline fight card as Thiago Santos takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

The 205-pound division is wide open at the top end and a big win for either man could see them enter title contention in the very near future.

We’ll also see Marlon Moraes take on Song Yadong in a bantamweight co-main event, while the likes of Drew Dober, Terrance McKinney, Miranda Maverick and Alex Pereira competing too in a sneakily stacked card.

Last time out at UFC 272 we went 9/13 with four perfect picks to move to 557/865 (64.39%) with 238 perfect picks (42.73%) with our picks.

We’ll look to improve on that going forward and after starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card here, we round off our prelims picks now.


Damon Jackson (19-4-1) vs Kamuela Kirk (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A short-notice featherweight fight brings great interest in this one. Jackson has won two of three in his most recent UFC run, with a KO defeat to undefeated Ilia Topuria sandwiched between wins over Mirsad Bektic at UFC Vegas 11 and Charles Rosa at UFC Vegas 39. Kirk on the other hand has won three-in-a-row, including a win over Makwan Amirkhani in his debut at UFC Vegas 28.

Jackson is a very talented all-rounder, with decent striking and a nasty ground game to go with his wrestling skills. Kirk on the other hand is a very skilled striker with good takedown defence and a decent ground game if he does end up on his back. If Jackson is able to get on top then he’ll have the advantage, because that is where he’s at his best, but aside from that I have Kirk with an advantage in most areas.

He’s a much superior striker, he’s a good wrestler defensively and offensively and his cardio doesn’t usually let him down. It’s a short notice bout so that could change, but I think Kirk could claim a big decision win here.
PICK – Kamuela Kirk via Decision

Trevin Jones (13-7) vs Javid Basharat (11-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A really fun bantamweight fight up next that’ll see an undefeated prospect make his debut. Jones earned a big KO win over Mario Bautista at UFC 259 after his debut was overturned to a no contest, before getting submitted against Saidyokub Rakhromonov most recently at UFC Vegas 34. Basharat is 11-0 and undefeated having finished each of his bouts inside the distance.

Jones is a good wrestler with a killer right hand and some serious knockout power, while Basharat is a composed Taekwando fighter with some excellent submission skills in his back pocket, contributing to six of his 11 finishes so far. Basharat has a size advantage in the fight, although a slightly lesser reach, and he will look to bounce around on the outside and counter with rangy attacks while dictating the pace.

He loves to attack the legs and body, which could allow Jones the chance to catch one and take him down, but even on the mat he has a very solid chance of controlling the bout. So long as he doesn’t get lamped with a one-and-done strike, I expect Basharat to claim the victory although I think he’ll see the judges for the first time.
PICK – Javid Basharat via Decision



JJ Aldrich (10-4) vs Gillian Robertson (10-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another short-notice bout here in the women’s flyweight division this time. Aldrich is on a two-fight win streak after decisions against Cortney Casey at UFC Vegas 21 and Vanessa Demopoulos at UFC Vegas 35, while Robertson snapped a two-fight losing streak last time out against Priscila Cachoeira with a submission win at UFC 269. Robertson steps in on three-weeks notice, replacing Ariane Lipski.

Aldrich is a striker who looks to avoid wrestling on the mat, but she has little chance of doing that here against Robertson. ‘The Savage’ is a brilliant wrestler with exceptional jiu-jitsu skills on the mat and with a big experience difference, this weighs heavily in her favour.

Robertson is capable of holding her own on the feet for a short period before looking to change levels for a takedown or clinch against the cage and look for trips. Once she gets hold of her, it will be tough for Aldrich to step away from that and then Robertson has the big grappling advantage. Expect her to get it down, control her on the mat before finally sinking in a rear-naked choke.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 2

Matthew Semelsberger (9-3) vs AJ Fletcher (9-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout is the featured prelim of the night with an interesting debutant. Semelsberger is a UFC veteran and scored a 15-second knockout win most recently at UFC 266 against Marin Sano to make it six wins in seven fights. Fletcher is an undefeated prospect who earned a contract with a flying knee KO win on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out. He’ll have Dustin Poirier in his corner this weekend.

Semelsberger is a heavy-handed puncher with a solid wrestling game, while Fletcher is also a well-rounded fighter who prefers his wrestling game to his striking, but he’s well capable of knocking guys out as his four career KO’s show. Despite the clear potential that Fletcher has though, this is a rough match up for him to debut in the organisation in. Semelsberger has terrific cardio and his wrestling is also good enough to compete against Fletcher, who is still relatively green in the MMA world.

Fletcher throws some naked kicks and has some good explosiveness, but those naked kicks are what Semelsberger thrives on to threaten takedowns and counter with his cement block of a right hand. Fletcher’s chin has never really been tested but we know Semelsberger has cardio for days and enough power to sleep people, so mixed with the wrestling I expect him to hand the newcomer his first defeat.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson def Priscilla Cachoeira via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 1 (4:59)

Fast paced start to this fight as Robertson looks to take the centre and attempts a couple of takedowns early. Cachoeira defends them well and is starting to land some decent strikes on the feet, landing good jabs and starting to do damage. Robertson suddenly changes levels in the centre though and scores a nice takedown before looking to secure a kimura lock. She transitions into side control and then full mount and starts raining down huge elbows! Cachoeira is in danger and Robertson switches to the back and gets a choke in under the neck. Cachoeira tries to defend it by sticking her thumb in Robertson’s eye but she refuses to let it go and then gets the tap with one second left! What a performance!

Tony Kelley def Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Very fast start from Kelley who steps forward immediately and starts chasing Costa across the cage looking to land big shots. Costa trying to weather the storm and countering with his jab, but Kelley continuing to come forward aggressively. Clinch against the cage and Kelley is trying to wear on Costa early, landing some nice knees but Costa seemingly the stronger fighter physically. Kelley switching stances as he throws his combinations and Costa is struggling to make reads, before they clinch up against the cage once again and tangle until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelley.

Another fast start from Kelley as he comes forward quickly again and starts the clinch battles again once again. Costa looks a little fatigued but he’s defending himself well and and staying in it. Costa starting to land his jabs well but Kelley closing the distance and making this fight ugly. Costa lands a nice kick and follows it up with a short right hand that hurts Kelley, but he clinches up quickly and starts defending. Kelley gets him in a Thai clinch and lands some big knees to the body and Costa drops to his knees! Kelley battering the body and thrashing elbows onto Costa who’s just trying to defend himself now. Kelley going for the finish and the referee steps in! What a performance from Kelley.

Ryan Hall def Darrick Minner via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)

Tactical start to the fight from both guys here as Minner lands a couple of leg kicks and misses wildly with some big strikes. Hall very patient and lands a nice body kick and then Hall shoots for the legs. Lots of transitions and rolling for submissions but Minner defending against the kneebars and heel hook attempts well. Minner gets back to the feet and lands a big right hand that cracks Hall who starts to retreat. Hall starts to go for a takedown again and ends up in top position landing some decent ground and pound to end the round. 10-9 either way, but I lean to Hall just.

Hall coming out more aggressive now as he starts swinging kicks, before Minner lands a nice right hand and gets a takedown as Hall goes for a leg. Minner in Hall’s full guard and looking for ground and pound, but Hall is looking to throw up an armbar or triangle submission. Minner stands up and slams Hall down to escape it and goes back for ground and pound. Hall throws up another triangle and it’s tight and he starts throwing big elbows from his back but Minner surviving. Hall looks to advance to a straight armbar but Minner denies it and then he rolls to an omoplata attempt and ends the round with ground and pound. 20-18 Hall.

Final round and Hall rolls under a punch and secures a triangle attempt immediately from his back. Minner defends it well but Hall then switches and is able to get on top. He advances to full mount and is in complete control here, looking for an arm triangle.

Erin Blanchfield def Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the bout for Maverick as she steps forward aggressively and throws a few strong strikes. Maverick looks to step in with a right hand but Blanchfield ducks under and immediately has a body lock from the back. She maintains the lock and continuously forces Maverick to the ground with excellent wrestling. She moves to full guard and maintains position again, dragging Maverick to the mat every time she tries to get back to the feet. 10-9 Blanchfield.

Maverick starts up well with a little blitz but immediately Blanchfield is able to hip throw her and end up on top. Blanchfield quickly transitions to a crucifix position and starts blasting elbows down on Maverick, but she manages to just about escape as Blanchfield switches to an armbar attempt. Maverick just about defends but Blanchfield then goes for a kimura, but Maverick defends it well. Blanchfield switches to another armbar attempt but Maverick defends it by scissoring the head of her and the buzzer goes. 20-18.

Final round and Maverick is trying to go for a finish because she knows she needs it, but Blanchfield is landing well too. Clinch up against the cage and then Blanchfield catches a leg and moves straight into a takedown. She moves into top control and looks to dominate again and starts landing some big shots from mount. She controls the rest of the round from the top and claims a dominant decision win.

Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:13)

Good start to the fight for Anders as he takes the centre and starts to throw powerful strikes early. Muniz does well and throws a nice calf kick before throwing a short left hook. Anders goes for a right hand again and Muniz ducks under and changes levels with a big takedown. Muniz looks to pass from side control straight into mount but Anders defends it well. Anders gets to his feet but Muniz has a body lock and drags him back down after a bit of back and forth and takes the back. He threatens with a choke and then switches to an armbar attempt and forces the tap from Anders. What a performance.

PRELIMS

Bruno Silva def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1 (1:28)

Crazy start to this fight as Wright charges forward and looks to engage quickly with hard strikes. Wright continues to come forward and attack and he hurts Silva! They clinch up and Wright lands some big knees but Silva lands some big strikes too. They separate and Silva lands two huge blows and Wright is wobbled! Silva goes for the finish and drops him! Some huge shots and the referee steps in! What a KO by Silva!

Tai Tuivasa def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2 (0:26)

Slow and steady start so far with Tuivasa in the centre stalking Sakai, who’s throwing leg kicks and circling on the outside. Tuivasa goes for a nice combination and Sakai retreats, before they clinch up and Sakai lands a nice knee to the body. More knees to the body from Sakai as he holds Tuivasa close to him, before they separate and Tuivasa just misses with a big uppercut. Sakai landing heavy knees and hurting Tuivasa, but he then retaliates with a big right hand and forces Sakai to cover up before they clinch again to end the round. 10-9 Sakai, but Tuivasa looking dangerous too.

Second round and Tuivasa lands a huge left hook early and Sakai is rocked! Tuivasa steps forward and goes for the kill, landing huge hooks as Sakai tries to cover up. Another huge strike and Sakai is out coldddd! What a KO!

Dominick Cruz def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to this fight as both guys look to take the centre and trade leg kicks and movement. Munhoz throwing hard low kicks but Cruz making him miss big. Munhoz throwing bombs but only just missing and Cruz is doing well to land blitzes and flurries of strikes. Cruz goes for a big right hand and Munhoz lands first with a big left hand that drops him! Munhoz lands a huge left hook and goes for the finish but Cruz grabs a leg and somehow survives. He gets up and continues the pattern of the earlier fight. 10-9 Munhoz.

Second round and Munhoz coming forward again and looking for his big bombs. Cruz using his excellent footwork well again though and is using his speed brilliantly. Cruz throwing great combinations on the feet and Munhoz is eating shots, but there isn’t enough power in them to hurt him. Cruz throws a hard low kick that hurts Munhoz and continues to throw his strikes brilliantly. 19-19.

Final round and Cruz has definitely taken over now with his speed and footwork. Cruz has made his reads now and is landing his combinations well, but Munhoz is throwing powerful strikes back and just barely missing. Cruz lands a big one-two clean down the pipe and Munhoz is starting to back up a little. Munhoz lands some nice jabs but Cruz is too slick and is moving so well, throwing leg kicks and left hands. Cruz lands a big combo in the centre as the round comes to an end and that should be the comeback victory for him. 29-28 Cruz.

Josh Emmett def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nothing happens between these two in the opening minute and them Emmett explodes with a massive overhand right that drops Ige! Emmett goes down for a finish but Ige recovers quickly and starts to wrestle. Both guys scramble well and end up back to their feet where they separate. Ige taking the centre now and using his jab well and sees out the round relatively comfortably. 10-9 Emmett most likely for the knockdown, but could go either way in honesty.

Emmett comes out with a big right hand early once again but Ige takes it and continues to come forward. Good exchanges on the feet and Ige landing his jab well with movement and power. Emmett looking for one big shot but he keeps missing it. Ige replies with a big strikes and wobbles Emmett with a big left hook. He stays patient and Emmett eventually recovers. Ige staying so calm though and using that jab well again, circling on the outside and threatening then ending the round with a big right straight. 19-19, Ige round.

Final round and Ige takes the centre once again, looking to use that jab and counter with his left hook. Emmett still looking for the power right hand but Ige seems to have him scouted now. Emmett steps forward and throws a straight right down the middle and wobbles Ige but he recovers very quickly and circles out. Ige lands his jab over and over, but Emmett is being more aggressive and coming forward. Both guys are missing with big shots as we enter the final minute. Emmett ducks under a big head kick but then eats a big uppercut. Both guys throw a final flurry, but that’s a super tough fight to call. Great fight.



MAIN CARD

Sean O’Malley def Raulian Paiva via Knockout, Round 1 (4:42)

Composed start to this fight from both guys as Paiva looks for an early takedown attempt but O’Malley sidesteps him into the cage. Body kick grazes the cup of Paiva and causes a short pause in the action. Paiva throws a hard low kick that gets a reaction, before O’Malley steps in with a hard straight left hand. Paiva trying to apply pressure but O’Malley moving well and avoids a leg kick then lands two left jabs and a big right hand behind it. O’Malley steps well to his right and lands a huge right hand that wobbles Paiva! He stays composed and lands a beautiful combination that hurts him badly! Huge body shot and hook combo drops Paiva and the referee steps in, huge win for O’Malley! Amazing!

Kai Kara-France def Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 1 (3:21)

Lots of range finding in the opening minute of this fight as Garbrandt finds himself with his back against the cage circling, throwing some loose kicks. Kara-France just misses with a big overhand right and then just avoids a big right-hook from Garbrandt. Kara-France lands a big right hand that flattens Garbrandt! A big follow up shot drops him again but Garbrandt retreats and eggs him on, but he’s clearly hurt! Kara-France staying patient and then he lands a stunning combination that ends with a massive uppercut and Garbrandt is out! Kara-France lands a couple of strikes before Herb Dean steps in, but that’s that! What a KO!

Geoff Neal def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Steady start to the fight for Neal with plenty of bouncing on his toes and throwing his jab and some leg kicks, forcing Ponzinibbio backwards. Both guys trade leg kicks and are starting to try and hold their ground in the centre. Neal lands a nice high kick and the referee warns both fighters about having their fingers out. A few short strikes each but not much damage so far. Neal using his jab well and both guys exchange before an accidental low kick from Neal causes a pause. They get back to it and Ponzinibbio lands a huge one-two right on the buzzer to end the round. 10-9 Neal for me.

More active start to the round as Ponzinibbio comes forward with a hard low kick and some straight right hands. Big one-two from Ponzinibbio down the middle to counter Neal’s leg kick and then a short right hand from Neal lands too. Ponzinibbio changes levels and blasts a takedown before Neal sweeps him to get back to his feet nearly immediately. Hard left hand lands from Neal, but Ponzinibbio lands a nice left jab-right hand. Neal lands a hard right hand but then eats a big leg kick in return, before a one-two of his own down the middle into the final minute of the round. Neal lands a big shot and Ponzinibbio claims it was a finger but the referee says no. They stare at each other and then trade a couple of strikes before the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Ponzinibbio lands a right hand before Neal lands a left. More exchanges in the centre and Neal lands a hard right hook that wobbles Ponzinibbio but he recovers quickly and lands a hard low kick. Neal starting to come forward and throws his left hand before a left high kick that just misses. Right hand gets a reaction from Ponzinibbio again, but then he lands a hard low kick to get Neal to back up. Hard left hand from Neal lands but Ponzinibbio replies with a solid right hook himself. Hard low kick and Neal steps backwards, but then he counters another attempt with a right hand. Neal coming on strong with jabs but Ponzinibbio continues to come forward too. Neal lands a big three-punch combo with the left hand and Ponzinibbio is wobbled! Final 30 seconds and Ponzinibbio just misses with a right hand to end the fight. Good fight. 29-28 Neal for me.

Julianna Pena def Amanda Nunes via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 2 (3:26)

Nunes opens up with a hard low kick that drops Pena immediately. Nunes lets her up and kicks the leg again, before Pena tries to throw a small flurry. Nunes throws a right hand that drops Pena and then she eventually drops on top of her looking to control on the ground. Nunes looks to transition to the back for a rear-naked choke but Pena just about defends it, before Nunes gets back to top position. Pena threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Nunes stays patient, defends it and sees the round out on top. 10-9 champ.

Nunes takes the centre and she starts looking for huge strikes early doors but Pena isn’t going anywhere. Pena is landing her jab at will and Nunes is getting hurt! Nunes trying to slug it out but she’s slow and looks exhausted already. Pena keeps coming and is smashing Nunes up! Big strikes from Pena and Nunes is rocked! Pena goes for a takedown and immediately goes to the back and locks up a choke! NUNES TAPS! NUNES TAPS! AND NEWWWW!!!

Charles Oliveira def Dustin Poirier via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 3 (1:02)

Fast paced start to the fight as Oliveira looks to take the centre and land body shots and his jab, but Poirier lands a right hand that knocks Oliveira off balance. Oliveira lands a big strike of his own and backs Poirier up and then he clinches looking for knees. Poirier getting kicked in the body and firing back with big combinations and drops Oliveira again. He lands a huge shot on the ground but Oliveira ties him up and then Poirier stands them up again immediately. Body work from Oliveira again is affecting Poirier and the rounds ends. Wow. 10-9 Poirier.

Huge start to the second round again as the frantic pace starts again and Oliveira immediately goes in for a takedown against the cage. He drags Poirier to the ground but as he tries to escape Oliveira takes the back. Poirier tries to escape but Oliveira holds his arm in place and illegally holds the glove before rolling into full guard. He lands some huge, thudding elbows as Poirier looks to defend off his back. Oliveira absolutely dominant with pressure and elbows but Poirier survives. 19-19.

Oliveira comes out fast once again and shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to a body lock from behind. He drags Poirier down and then jumps on to his back, sinking in hooks and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. Poirier defending the hands but Oliveira continues to switch the grips, sinks in the choke and forces the tap! Amazing!! What a fight!

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Early prelims predictions

The final pay-per-view card of 2021 is finally upon us and it is absolutely stacked, with the lightweight championship bout between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier headlining the card.

‘Du Bronx’ is looking to legitimise his title reign when he takes on ‘Diamond’, who knows it is now or never to become undisputed champion during his career.

The co-main event features women’s G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes as she looks to silence all doubters when she takes on Julianna Pena in a bantamweight title fight.

Also on the main card will see the flyweight debut of Cody Garbrandt, who is looking to prove it’s the perfect weight class for him while Sean O’Malley hopes to kickstart a huge 2022 for himself when he takes on Raulian Paiva.

Last time at UFC Vegas 44 we had a pretty good night with our picks, as we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to move to 491/765 (64.18%) with 207 perfect picks (42.16%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this massive 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims.


Gillian Robertson (9-6) vs Priscilla Cachoeira (10-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A women’s flyweight bout opens up the card live from the T-Mobile Arena. Robertson has lost her last two-in-a-row against Taila Santos at UFC Vegas 17 and Miranda Maverick at UFC 260, while Cachoeira has won her last two via knockout against Shana Dobson and then Gina Mazany at UFC 262.

Robertson is a skilled grappler who is very keen on securing takedowns and then working her submission game, scoring six submission wins in her career. Cachoeira on the other hand is a strong striker with good power and solid stand-up skills, but she has had troubles with the grappling game in the past.

Cachoeira has the ability to end this fight on the feet, but if it goes to the ground then it’s all Robertson. Robertson has better cardio than Mazany, who dominated Cachoeira in their bout before her cardio ran out. Robertson shouldn’t have any such issues and if she can secure the takedown early with her wrestling, then she has the skills on the ground to tie up and early submission win.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1

Randy Costa (6-2) vs Tony Kelley (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger at 135-pounds up next. Costa has been impressive in victory and defeat so far in the UFC, but was stopped in his last fight by Adrian Yanez at UFC Vegas 32. Kelley on the other hand is 1-1 in the UFC so far, with a win over Ali AlQaisi at UFC Fight Island 5 last year coming via decision last time out.

Costa is a brilliant young boxer, with excellent combinations and head movement to go with his power and kicking game too. Kelley is a well-rounded fighter who can mix up takedowns with some striking on the feet. Costa’s biggest issue in this fight is his cardio, because he seems to fade in the second round every time. He throws with great power but it goes against his gas tank, but if he slows it down his technical deficiencies come to the surface.

Kelley is going to have issues here. He is skilled enough to cause problems, but his big flaws play straight into Costa’s strengths and that likely leads to a short night. He throws lots of naked kicks while in range of his opponent and he doesn’t defend his body relatively well, so expect Costa to drop him early with a counter and finish it with follow up shots.
PICK – Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 1

Ryan Hall (8-2) vs Darrick Minner (26-12) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A grappler’s paradise in this one between two of the best jiu-jitsu artists in the game. Ryan Hall saw his winning streak snapped at UFC 264 when he got KO’d by Ilia Topuria, while Minner got KO’d by Darren Elkins at UFC Vegas 32 in his last outing too.

Both of these guys are jiu-jitsu masters. Hall is one of the most feared submission artists in the world, with his leg lock attacks absolutely brutal and dangerous. Minner is just as feared in the grappling world in MMA, with his 22 submission wins in his career. Defensively though, Minner has been submitted eight times himself and that shows that he isn’t the best when he’s not on offense.

Hall is the greatest jiu-jitsu player in MMA since the Gracie’s probably and with both of these guys guaranteed to try and take it to the ground, it’s just an open goal to Hall eventually claiming a submission win yet again.
PICK – Ryan Hall via Submission, Round 1



Alex Perez (24-6) vs Matt Schnell (15-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A super fun flyweight bout up next. Perez makes his return to the cage after his title fight submission loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255, while Schnell looks to return to winning ways after a decision loss to Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 262 earlier this year.

Perez is a very well-rounded fighter with good boxing skills and some excellent grappling skills too, while Schnell is equally well-rounded with some decent submission skills and a good high guard when striking, although he doesn’t have show-stopping one-punch power. His wrestling isn’t the best and I think Perez has the edge there, while on the feet he also has a disadvantage int his match up.

Schnell’s best hope in this one is to either clip Perez on the feet in an exchange, or locking up a submission in a scramble. Perez is likely to be able to out-box him in a striking battle and he has the grappling to survive for the most part so I think he grinds him down on the feet with leg kicks and lands the bigger shots in the fight to earn the judge’s decision.
PICK – Alex Perez via Decision

Miranda Maverick (11-3) vs Erin Blanchfield (7-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A really, really competitive women’s flyweight bout closes out the early prelims section of the card. Maverick suffered a close defeat to Maycee Barber last time out at UFC Vegas 32 to snap a five-fight win streak, and replaces her in this fight. Blanchfield made it four wins in a row when she earned a decision over Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 37.

Maverick is a solid wrestler who looks to take her opponents down and grind them down with ground-and-pound attacks, while her power on the feet is good too. Blanchfield is of a similar ilk, with brilliant wrestling and a very good jiu-jitsu game while her striking game has seen huge improvements in recent years.

This is such a 50/50 fight that it’s really hard to pick. I think Maverick has a slight edge in wrestling, but Blanchfield definitely has the submission edge in grappling exchanges while Maverick probably has a slight edge in striking. Defensively Maverick leaves herself open a lot, but her experience against top level opponents is also a factor. Ultimately, it’ll be razor thin but I think Maverick can use that experience to earn a decision win.
PICK – Erin Blanchfield via Decision

UFC 260: Miocic vs Ngannou 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Marc-Andre Barriault def Abu Azaitar via Knockout, Round 3 (4:56)

Fast start to the bout for Azaitar as he comes out with some powerful hooks to begin but they miss the target for the most part. Barriault throws a hook back that makes Azaitar lose his balance and the two clinch up against the cage but Barriault accidentally lands a low blow for a short pause in the action. Azaitar comes forward very aggressively once more, with flurrys that end with a nice knee to the body before another clinch. Nice elbow in the clinch from Barriault but Azaitar responds with a big knee in the clinch that lands flush. Azaitar working the body well as they clinch up once again and staying very busy as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. More knees to the body in the clinch from Azaitar but Barriault stay in there and eating, while returning with shots of his own. Nice counter left from Barriault lands in an exchange but Azaitar should take that round. 10-9.

Barriault takes the centre at the start of this round and is landing his jab well early on as Azaitar looks considerably slower than the first round. Barriault landing the better shots but then Azaitar comes forward with a nice leg kick. Azaitar throws a big hook that lands and wobbles Barriault, but he continues to come forward and continues to push a fast pace. Azaitar looks for a takedown, which his corner isn’t happy about, but Barriault defends it well to keep the fight standing. Big one-two lands from Barriault as Azaitar takes a big deep breath and is slowing down a lot. Nice uppercut lands from Azaitar and then a front kick lands but he’s very lathargic with his strikes and Barriault is walking him down now with big right hands. Barriault slips a left hook and lands three strikes in a row that wobble Azaitar but he’s staying in there and survives the round! 19-19.

Barriault takes the centre at the start of the third round and eats a big leg kick to make up ground and start landing big right hands. Azaitar is stiffened up and is fighting purely off instinct right now. Barriault lands a big right hand that drops Azaitar but the referee doesn’t stop it. Azaitar spits out his mouth guard with Barriault on top landing ground and pound and the referee stops the fight to allow him to put it back in and then the ground and pound continues, with Barriault landing huge shots. Azaitar continuing to move but it’s pure instinct and he’s taking a battering right now. This fight could be stopped at any moment but Azaitar is trying to move away. Barriault keeps landing huge strikes on the ground but the referee is letting them go with 30 seconds to go. Barriault is battering him and somehow Azaitar is surviving but the referee ends the bout with four seconds remaining! Huge win for the Canadian.

PRELIMS

Omar Morales def Shane Young via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Slow fight to this bout as both men engage in a feeling out process, both circling and flicking jabs but not going too hard. Young checks a leg kick from Morales and then both continue to just throw out feelers. Young pushes forward for a takedown against the cage but Morales defends well, puts in a body lock and reverses the position before picking up and dropping Young. Young gets back to his feet quickly and they clinch up against the cage to a stalemate as we enter the final minute of the round. Morales lands a nice uppercut as Young tries to enter for another takedown and they clinch up once more as the round ends. 10-9 Morales, but close.

Second round starts and Morales throws a leg kick pretty early that gets caught and Young immediately moves into top position. Morales defending off his back and as Young moves for a leg lock, Morales is able to stuff it and get back to his feet quickly. Morales doing well on the feet with a nice jab and some good leg kicks too, but Young is checking them well and closing the distance well. Young shoots in for a takedown again but Morales defends it well, then throws a knee that just misses. Morales takes the centre well and forces Young backwards then lands a nice leg kick, followed by an uppercut that Young just eats. Two jabs and then a one-two from Morales lands clean and forces Young backwards again. Morales pours on the pressure towards the end of the round with his right hand and a knee attempt as they end in a clinch. 20-18 Morales for me.

Morales looks to take the centre early in the third round and throws his jab well, but Young does well to change it around and they clinch in the centre. Morales is able to get a trip and gets into a dominant position in side control, but Young is able to scramble and chase a single leg takedown of his own to get back to his feet. They clinch against the cage again and Young shows a physical strength advantage, but Morales lands a couple of nice leg kicks as they separate and fighting well behind his jab. Nice right hand lands from Morales as we enter the final minute, but Young keeps coming forward and then ducks a high kick to look for a takedown but Morales defends well to end the fight and likely take the win. 30-27 Morales.

Michal Oleksiejczuk def Modestas Bukauskas via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Bukauskas opens the fight with a spinning heel kick that misses by a matter of inches, before Michal steps forward and lands a big left hand early. BUkauskas lands a decent right hand but Michal is walking him towards the cage well. Bukauskas shoots for a takedown but it’s well stuffed, before a clinch exchange allows Bukauskas to show his strength advantage as he powers him all the way across the octagon. Bukauskas lands a nice right hand flush and then steps forward with a nice flurry that hurts Michal! He goes for a finish but Michal defends well and recovers. Bukauskas throws a straight that Michal slips and throws a big overhand left that lands clean! Michal starts walking Bukauskas backwards again and misses with a left hand but then lands a nice right hand. Bukauskas throwing lots of kicks to try and maintain the distance but Michal continues to step forward and close it. Both men land a few more shots and Bukauskas ends the round with a head kick that is partially blocked. Really competitive round, I lean 10-9 to Bukauskas.

Second round is more of the same, as Michal comes forward and throws lots of hooks but Bukauskas continues to circle on the outside and uses his length well to keep a distance. Michal keeps marching forward and lands a nice left hand but Bukauskas eats it well. Michal throws it again and lands flush on the chin, but Bukauskas continues to move well and then throws a nice front kick to the body. Bukauskas lands two straight rights nicely then misses a wild overhand, as Michal looks to grab a leg but does nothing with is. Bukauskas lands a nice lead elbow but Michal clinches up and eats it, before Bukauskas shows the physicality advantage again and is able to reverse the position and then separate. Bukauskas lands a head kick and then ends with a round with a big flurry of hooks that land, but Michal still there and probably takes that round. 19-19 for me but it’s close.

Bukauskas and Michal in the final round following a similar pattern to the previous two, with Bukauskas circling on the outside. Both men throw a right hook but it’s Bukauskas who lands better and then he follows it up with a straight and an uppercut too. Michal goes in for a body lock looking for a takedown but Bukauskas defends it really well and uses the cage well to keep the fight standing. Michal throws a couple of knees but nothing that troubles Bukauskas who is able to separate and is starting to land some good strikes of his own. Michal continues to march forward but Bukauskas is happy to trade with him now as we enter the final 90 seconds. Big right hook lands from Michal but Bukauskas eats it and throws a right hand of his own. Michal throws a huge uppercut to the body that has really hurt Bukauskas but Michal hasn’t noticed how hurt he is and both men go out swinging as the fight goes the distance. Great fight, 29-28 Bukauskas for me.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov def Jared Gooden via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Gooden opens up the round super relaxed, carrying his hands down by his hips ready for any takedown attempts and throwing some jabs that immediately redden the eye of Nurmagomedov. Gooden has a big speed advantage and is able to get in and out quickly but Nurmagomedov not rushing for any grappling and is throwing his jab very well too. Nurmagomedov closes the distance and lands a big one-two flush on Gooden’s chin that rocks him! He closes the distance and looks to take the fight down but Gooden is able to escape quickly. Nurmagomedov throws a strong leg kick and then a big knee in the clinch too. Another jab from Nurmagomedov has Gooden backing up and he’s now started to carry his hands a bit higher in respect of Nurmagomedov’s strikes. A big left hook from Nurmagomedov lands again and he just misses with a follow up head kick, then ends the round with a nice jab. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov takes the centre in the second round and lands his jab well once again as Gooden starts to throw his right hand some more. Nurmagomedov steps back and slips the punches brilliantly before landing a nice right hand of his own. Nurmagomedov is piecing Gooden up on the feet right now, completely dominating the striking exchanges. Big right hand lands and then throws a huge head kick that lands and hurts Gooden! Nurmagomedov backs Gooden against the cage and looks for a clinch, throwing elbows and a nice left hand. Gooden can’t get near him right now as he eats another jab flush to the nose. Big left hand lands clean on Gooden whose chin is holding up well right now as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Nurmagomedov.

Nurmagomedov using his jab once again early on, completing in control of the striking exchanges. Gooden takes the centre and loads up a nice uppercut but Nurmagomedov shoots in for a takedown and ends up with a body lock on the back. He picks him up and drops him down, but Gooden does well to get back to his feet before Nurmagomedov shoots in for a takedown once again and ends up on top. Gooden throwing great elbows from the bottom but Nurmagomedov eating them well and controlling the position before landing some ground and pound of his own. He steps over into half guard and starts setting up an arm triangle, but Gooden is aware and defending it well. Both men throwing body strikes on the ground as we enter the final minute of the round. Nurmagomedov controls the position for the remainder of the round and should take a comfortable decision win.

Alonzo Menifield def Fabio Cherant via Submission (Von Flue Choke), Round 1 (1:11)

Menifield comes out flying with a big one two and then goes for a takedown early. Cherant looks to lock up a guillotine but Menifield is able to turn him and slam him down with a big takedown into side control. Cherant keeps hold of the neck, all the while Menifield is synching in a Von Flue choke. He gets it tight and heavy and Cherant has no choice but to tap out! What a win for Menifield!

MAIN CARD

Jamie Mullarkey def Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 1 (0:46)

Fast start to the round for both guys as Mullarkey lands a nice left hand early before Worthy responds with a couple of jabs. Mullarkey fakes a couple of shots and then throws a big, tight left hook that catches Worthy on the chin and gets him wobbling and faceplants! Mullarkey rushes in with a few ground and pound strikes and the referee steps in the wave it off! Huge win for Mullarkey!

Miranda Maverick def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Nice active start to the fight from both ladies, with Maverick throwing nice combinations early and staying out of range of Robertson’s attacks. Maverick holding the centre well and and landing the better strikes in the exchanges on the feet, but Robertson not backing up too much and throwing some strikes of her own. Maverick lands a nice short-right hook and lots of leading leg kicks to the body. Maverick pushes Robertson onto the ground and then jumps on top with really heavy top pressure, then lands a couple of ground and pound strikes as Robertson looks to get back up to her feet. Maverick shoots a power double leg and gets the fight down with ease as the round comes to an end to take the opening round. 10-9 Maverick.

Busy start to the second round for Maverick as she seems to be more aggressive, landing some heavy punches and coming forward with more intent. Nice superman punch lands from Maverick then Robertson changes levels and shoots in for a takedown, then secures top position. Maverick tries to escape by kicking out and swinging her hips, but Robertson adjusts perfectly and looks to take the back now. Robertson sticking to her like glue and trying to find submissions, but Maverick is doing well to keep moving and not settling for positions. Robertson keeps looking for the positions but Maverick is eventually able to get back to the feet with about 45 seconds remaining in the round. Maverick spends the rest of the round walking Robertson down and landing big shots against the cage but should still be a Robertson round. 19-19.

Maverick comes out swinging in this third round and is walking Robertson down, landing some big straight punches. Robertson shoots for takedowns but Maverick defends them twice and then is able to take Robertson’s back herself. She switches into full mount and then side control and is landing some big ground and pound strikes, but Robertson is threatening with an armbar. Maverick is able to escape the armbar and gets back on top to land more ground and pound. Robertson tries to sweep her but Maverick too strong and gets back to the feet. Maverick lands a couple of straights against the cage then shoots for a takedown of her own and sees out the round in a dominant position to take a decision.

Sean O’Malley def Thomas Almeida via Knockout, Round 3 (3:52)

Good start to the round for O’Malley as he opens with a clean one-two on Almeida’s chin. O’Malley switching stances well and landing kicks to the body and legs, with Almeida seeming quite hesitant early on. O’Malley lands another one-two and then a nice spinning back kick to the body before Almeida lands a big hook of his own. O’Malley throws a big head kick that seems to land with the knee and then a big left hand drops Almeida! O’Malley walks away but the referee doesn’t wave the fight off and he goes back in with a spin kick that misses. O’Malley looking for style points for a finish but Almeida has recovered now and O’Malley sees the round out with some more clean striking. 10-9 O’Malley for sure.

O’Malley opens up with some front kicks to the body and a calf kick, but Almeida coming forward still and lands a couple of leg kicks of his own. O’Malley landing with his left hand in a one-two quite cleanly and often, but Almeida refusing to go away. Some knee stomps from O’Malley and kicks as he continues to switch stances, showing great speed to be first in the exchanges. O’Malley goes for a flying knee towards the end of the round and misses, falling onto his back. Almeida lands a big shot on the ground but O’Malley uses his long legs to defend really well and sees out the round. 20-18 O’Malley.

O’Malley opens up the round with a huge calf kick that takes Almeida’s balance away, before a knee stomp once again makes Almeida very uncomfortable. A few more leg kicks land and then O’Malley throws a nice one-two, but Almeida continues to come forward. Exchange near the cage and Almeida lands a decent left hand, but O’Malley continues to slip the majority of the shots and landing well himself. Beautiful one-two from O’Malley lands and Almeida just can’t get near him. Huge left hand as he moves backwards catches Almeida and drops him and O’Malley tries to walk off again but the referee doesn’t stop it again! O’Malley strolls over and lands one nasty ground strike that puts his lights out and that’s that! The ‘Suga’ show is back!

Vicente Luque def Tyron Woodley via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 1 (3:56)

Woodley comes out and immediately goes for a body lock and takedown against the cage. Luque defends it well and is able to rotate Woodley against the cage, but they fight to a stalemate and eventually separate. Woodley lands a big overhand right and then a couple of one-twos before going back to his wrestling, where Luque is able to steady him and get him back against the cage. Luque throwing punches to the body while Woodley looks for knees as they clinch up before separating. Woodley throws a huge right hand that wobbles Luque and he goes for the kill with big punches, then Luque fires back with a huge right overhand that lands on Woodley’s chin and wobbles him! Luque comes forward and throws bombs and Woodley is in trouble! He throws a hook that lands on Luque and wobbles him back then goes for a takedown but his legs give out on him. Luque drops down and locks in a d’arce choke and despite fighting it against the cage, Woodley is forced to tap! Huge win for Luque!

Francis Ngannou def Stipe Miocic via Knockout, Round 2 (0:52)

Ngannou opens the round with a heavy low kick that Miocic eats and continues to circle on the outside. Miocic lands a couple of leg kicks of his own before Ngannou explodes with a big right hand that lands clean and Miocic just eats. Ngannou explodes again and Miocic shoots in for a double leg takedown but Ngannou defends it brilliantly, sprawls and is able to take Miocic down himself! He takes the back of Miocic and starts throwing some heavy shots but the champion eats them and separates. Ngannou then throws a head kick that lands clean but once again Miocic eats it. A couple more leg kicks from Miocic in the remainder of the round, but it’s a Ngannou round. 10-9.

Miocic comes out and knows he needs to be a bit more aggressive. Ngannou being patient in the middle once more and lands a nice leg kick. Ngannou throws a big left hand that rocks Miocic and drops him! He goes for the finish and lands some big shots but Miocic gets back up and eats an uppercut. Miocic lands a massive left hand of his own but Ngannou eats it and then lands a short left hook that puts Miocic’s lights out! He lands one more huge shot before the referee gets there but this is all over! NEW CHAMPION!

UFC 260: Miocic vs Ngannou 2 – Main card predictions

It’s the big one, as the baddest man on the planet is decided in the main event of UFC 260 when Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight championship against Francis Ngannou.

The two met previously during Miocic’s first reign as champion, and he dominated to a victory but yet he is still the underdog coming into this fight. Overlooking Miocic seems crazy, but it’s happening again and not least because of the sheer power of his opponent.

In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley fights for his career in the UFC as he takes on Vicente Luque after the featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Last week at UFC Vegas 22, we went 6/10 with three perfect picks to move to 262/416 (62.98%) with 118 perfect picks (45.04%).

There are scheduled to be ten bouts on this card and having already predicted the prelims here, lets look to improve it with the main card also.


Jamie Mullarkey (12-4) vs Khama Worthy (16-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A really fun lightweight fight between two guys looking to get back in the win column to open up this main card. Mullarkey has lost his last two bouts, dropping decisions to Brad Riddell and Faras Ziam most recently at UFC Fight Island 6. Worthy had a seven fight win streak snapped in a little over 90 seconds when he was put away but Ottman Azaitar at UFC Vegas 10 back in September.

Mullarkey is a wrestler who is capable of standing and striking, but he’s often a sitting target when it comes to the stand-up game. Worthy is a powerful striker with nine knockout wins in his career. If Mullarkey can’t get the fight to the ground, he is in big trouble. He’s got a granite chin but with the power that Worthy hits at, plus the fact that Worthy isn’t a sloppy wrestler himself, ‘The Death Star’ should be able to get himself a hard-fought victory.
PICK – Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 3

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two very highly rated women’s flyweight prospects go head-to-head in this one.

Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the division as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior toΒ getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time outΒ against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.

Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Sean O’Malley (12-1) vs Thomas Almeida (22-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

My pick for fight of the night here in the bantamweight division as ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley makes his return to the octagon following his first defeat to take on Thomas Almeida. O’Malley was en-route to superstardom, stopping Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 before being stopped by Marlon Vera at UFC 252, getting knocked out after a leg injury. Almeida has suffered all of his professional defeats inside his last five fights, including three in a row and most recently against Jonathan Martinez at UFC Fight Island 6.

O’Malley is a super-technical striker who can work off either stance and has legitimate one-punch knockout power. Almeida is a great technical striker himself, but his biggest issue is his durability. Almeida has been knocked out whenever he’s been hit clean and O’Malley is one of the most accurate strikers in the 135lbs division. This is certainly a favourable match up for O’Malley to get back on track towards a title shot with a height, reach, technique and power advantages and he should get an impressive win.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 1

Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) vs Vicente Luque (19-7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A very big fight in the welterweight division between the former champion Tyron Woodley and the ‘Silent Assassin’ Vicente Luque. Woodley has lost three in a row, including most recently when he verbally submitted to Colby Covington at UFC Vegas 11 following a rib injury. Luque on the other hand is on a two-fight win streak, knocking out Niko Price before a stoppage win over Randy Brown at UFC Vegas 5.

Woodley is known for his fantastic wrestling defence and impressive knockout power, but in his last three fights he’s been gun shy when it comes to striking and has been taken down with ease. Luque is a boxer who pressures his opponents and walks them down, happy to take a shot to give one in the belief he will knock them out. Luque hits harder than any of Woodley’s last three opponents and is a long-time training partner of both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. If Woodley comes back in this fight and shows his old self where he throws heavy punches and threatens with his wrestling, he could very well get the win. But it’s hard to expect that from a guy who’s lost his last 14 rounds in a row and was finished in the 15th. Luque has youth on his side, is confident and has great pressure, work-rate and power, so I think he is able to get a win in this fight.
PICK – Vicente Luque via Decision

Stipe Miocic (20-3) vs Francis Ngannou (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The baddest man on the planet will be decided as the greatest heavyweight of all-time makes the second defence of his second reign as champion against ‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou. Miocic beat Ngannou back in 2018, before going 2-1 in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier which came to an end at UFC 252. Ngannou lost his next fight after that loss to Derrick Lewis, but has since won four-in-a-row against Curtis Blaydes, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all via first round knockout.

Miocic is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights ever, with fantastic wrestling skills but also legitimate knockout power himself. Ngannou is a banger, who comes in with explosive power and one-punch knockouts. The first fight was incredibly one-sided, with Miocic wrestling his way to a dominant win. Since then, Ngannou has become “obsessed” with grappling but it’s not something we’ve been able to see in the cage yet. Miocic is quicker, the better wrestler and in the first fight he was able to eat Ngannou’s punches that landed. He’s taken a lot of damage since then, being KO’d by Cormier so whether he can take the punches this time is questionable but he is so much better than that first fight too.

Ngannou’s skillset is limited despite his success, but his power is absolutely unreal. The issue is that he’s so big his cardio just can’t go for 25 minutes. Miocic can and has several times. It only takes one punch from Ngannou, but it’s hard to see this fight going much differently to the first one – except this time I think Miocic gets the stoppage on an exhausted, grounded Ngannou.
PICK – Stipe Miocic via Knockout, Round 4

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Prelims 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, starting with the seven prelim fights here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the decision as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior to getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time out against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.

Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Gabe Green (9-3) vs Phil Rowe (7-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

There will be fireworks in this one, as Gabriel Green looks to bounce back from his debut defeat in the UFC against ‘The Fresh Prince’ Phil Rowe.

Green was on a six-fight win streak with six finishes before losing to Daniel Rodriuez via decision in May 2020, while Rowe is currently on a seven-fight win streak after beating Leon Shahbazyan on the Contender Series in 2019. He had several fights fall out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but finally returns here.

Both men are incredibly powerful on the feet and have decent ground games too, although Rowe has the slight edge down there. The likelihood these two will go to war with heavy striking and it is Green who has the power advantage. He will need to get on the inside due to the big reach disadvantage, but don’t be surprised to see it happen.
PICK – Gabriel Green via Knockout, Round 2

PRELIMS

Andre Ewell (17-6) vs Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2) – (Catchweight/140lbs)

A fight that was put together on late notice, Andre Ewell will take on ‘El Guapo’ Chris Gutierrez in a catchweight bout. Ewell won his last fight via split decision against Irwin Rivera back in September, while Gutierrez got a draw against Cody Durden in August.

Ewell was supposed to fight against Cody Stamann last weekend, but a false positive COVID-19 test put an end to that. He was quickly re-booked for this fight with a completely different match up, as Gutierrez is a primary striker. Ewell is also a striker, who stays at range and looks to catch you on the end of his strikes. Gutierrez is a heavy leg kicker and that could have a big say on the outcome of this fight.

With that said, it’s a very even match up but I think Ewell has the striking advantage with the power and speed and he should be able to land more for a close decision win.
PICK – Andre Ewell via Decision

Polyana Viana (11-4) vs Mallory Martin (7-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very interesting fight down at 115lbs as Viana looks to make it consecutive wins for the first time in the UFC when she takes on Martin, looking for her first win streak in the company.

Viana had lost three in a row before getting matched up with Emily Whitmire in August and winning via submission in the first round. Martin made her debut against Virna Jandiroba who absolutely dominated her, before she got a submission win of her own against Hannah Cifers to bounce back on the same card.

Viana is the more powerful striker and has a great ground game from her back, while Martin is a competent striker with a good wrestling game. The submission game of Viana could put her off shooting for the takedowns but if she’s brave enough she should have the wrestling chops for the win.
PICK – Mallory Martin via Decision

Belal Muhammad (17-3) vs Dhiego Lima (17-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A clash between two fighters currently on three-fight win streaks in the welterweight division should be lots of fun. Belal Muhammad has beaten Curtis Millender, Takashi Sato and then Lyman Good in June while Lima’s last fight came in 2019 with a split decision win.

Muhammad’s style is typically a boxing style that leads to takedowns and a wet blanket approach, with dominant top position and wrestling while Lima is a solid striker who has a decent ground game too. This one though is a bit of mismatch.

Muhammad has incredible wrestling and while Lima has the height and reach advantage, it doesn’t mean much when you can’t stay on the feet and stop the takedowns. Muhammad takes Lima down with ease and cruises to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Hot prospect Rodolfo Vieira looks to make it three wins in a row in the UFC and remain unbeaten against ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez.

Vieira is 7-0, with six submission wins including his most recent fight against Saparbek Safarov in March 2020 while Hernandez has lost two of his last three including getting knocked out in 39 seconds back in May against Kevin Holland.

Hernandez got submitted by Markus Perez in his UFC debut back in 2019, and Vieira is clear of Perez when it comes to ground game. He has better takedowns and is much more physical, which begs the question about how Hernandez stops him. The answer is he doesn’t. Hernandez’s striking is better but it means next to nothing considering he’ll probably be on his back rather quickly, and Vieira should be able to dominate to get another submission win in relatively quick fashion.
PICK – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, Round 1

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

Fast start to the round from Christos Giagos here as he comes out with a big overhand right hand that goes straight into a level change for a takedown. Minus immediately tries to scramble out but gives up his back and Giagos goes straight into full mount. He’s floating well and landing some good ground and pound, while also threatening with a rear-naked choke relentlessly. Minus gets back up but Giagos is more than comfortable on the feet and gets it back down again as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 for Giagos.

Second round is essentially the exact same thing as first. Complete domination on the ground from Giagos with plenty of attempts at head and arm chokes, rear naked chokes and ground and pound. Minus is being totally controlled but doing just enough to avoid being finished. Potentially 20-16 after two rounds in favour of Giagos.

Third and final round starts in the same way as the previous two, with Giagos circling before eventually securing a takedown that Minus just can’t defend. Minus gets back up this time though as Giagos is clearly fatigued and starts landing some nice jabs and one-twos. Minus lands a stiff uppercut as the fight draws to a close, with Giagos just circling to survive the final 60 seconds. Easy win in the end for Giagos, 30-25 on my scorecard.

Jimmy Flick def Cody Durden via Submission (Triangle choke), Round 1 (3:18)

Great start to the fight from Durden as both fighters exchange strikes before he grabs a takedown and moves quickly to take the back. He lands some decent punches on the ground but Flick gets back to his feet relatively quickly and they separate. Durden looks explosive and lands some big punches, as Flick covers up well and keeps his guard high. Flick goes for a head kick that Durden catches, but Flick turns it into a flying triangle choke! He pulls him into his guard, tightens the choke and gets the tap! Unbelievable! Wow!

PRELIMS

Tafon Nchukwi def Jamie Pickett via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

Nchukwi makes a fast start and comes across the cage throwing heavy strikes but Pickett tries to avoid using his speed and mobility. Nchukwi throwing combinations and ending with a head kick a lot, but not landing them. Pickett scores a nice takedown against the cage, but Nchukwi does well to get back to the feet without taking too much damage. Nchukwi gets the fight down to the ground himself and shows good control but Pickett gets back up. Spinning elbow lands from Nchukwi as his cardio seems to be holding up well, with lots of knees to the body landing in clinches too. 10-9 Nchukwi.

Fast start against from Nchukwi as he powers out of the traps with a big overhand right hand. Nchukwi is still pressuring Pickett against the cage and whenever they clinch he starts dirty boxing with lots of body strikes and knees to the body too. Left hand landing a lot from Nchukwi but it’s lacking the big power now, although still doing damage. Pickett lands a nice one-two that snaps Nchukwi’s head back, but then he returns with a right hand of his own. Pickett lands a big four or five punch combination that sends Nchukwi backwards. Pickett comes forward and there’s a big clash of heads as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Nchukwi but he’s slowing a little.

Before the third round starts with the doctor checking out Pickett after the clash of heads but the fight goes on. Nchukwi lands a big left hand out of the gate as the round begins and Pickett looks dazed still. Nchukwi is starting to land more flush now and Pickett is hurt. Big knees to the body against the cage again followed by a big left elbow and Pickett is down! Big ground and pound from Nchukwi but Pickett is covering up well and surviving. Nchukwi lets him back up to his feet into the final minute and continues to walk him down looking for a finish. Great fight, but that’s a 10-8 for Nchukwi and a big win. 30-26 for me.

Taila Santos def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-28)

A quick start to the fight for Robertson as the two end up in a clinch against the cage and she goes for a flying armbar quickly! Santos is in danger but she stays calm and eventually gets out of the position and ends up in full guard, controlling the position and landing some nice ground and pound. Robertson throwing elbows from her back to create space and damage but Santos is doing well to nullify her. Robertson tries to scramble back up to her feet but once agains Santos is able to over-power her and land strikes on the ground to see the round out. 10-9 Santos.

Second round begins and once again a clinch against the cage ends up with Taila Santos on top and landing some nice short shots to the face. Santos ties her up and ends up on top with a reverse triangle choke with the legs, but Robertson defends really well and escapes into top position. Santos slides out of the back and ends up back on top once again, landing strikes and making Robertson very uncomfortable. Impressive round from Santos. 20-18.

Santos comes out in the third round and lands two nice punches, showing her striking chops, before Robertson throws a head kick and goes for a takedown. She ends up catching Santos in a guillotine, but the Brazilian stays patient and escapes, ending up back against the cage in top position. More short strikes from Santos as Robertson keeps working for a submission but nothing is working. Robertson finally manages to isolate an arm and rolls through for an armbar but Santos fights out of it once again and ends the round taking the back of Robertson. Dominant performance from the Brazilian. 30-27 Santos.

Deron Winn def Antonio Arroyo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Explosive start from Arroyo as he comes in with some powerful strikes before Winn hits an early takedown. Arroyo scrambles back to his feet but then Winn gets another takedown early. A third and fourth takedown follow as the pattern of this fight continues as we pass the halfway point. Arroyo throws up an armbar attempt and then gets back to his feet once Winn escapes. He lands a big knee to the face and then a combo that hurts Winn, but he steps back and recovers. Arroyo starts stalking with hands low, but Winn looks for another takeodwn. Again Arroyo gets to the feet and lands a nasty front kick to the face but Winn eats it and gets another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Winn but Arroyo looks more likely to win it at this rate.

Winn opens up the round with a wheel kick attempt that misses before landing a takedown, which he sees keep Arroyo down a little longer this time but Arroyo eventually gets back up to his feet. The round continues with the same pattern of Winn landing lots of takedowns and Arroyo getting back to his feet and landing nice strikes before going down again. Arroyo is exhausted at this point, throwing lazy kicks and accepting the position on his back while Winn lays on top to take a breather also.

Third round and once again Winn continues to blast takedown after takedown, taking him into double figures officially for the fight. Arroyo is exhausted and is accepting the position, being lazy off his back throwing up-kicks before Winn lets him back up. A nice head kick lands but Winn just goes straight back in for another takedown as we enter the final 30 seconds of the fight. They get back to the feet and Arroyo lands a body kick as the round comes to an end. Should be a win for Deron Winn.

Pannie Kianzad def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A strong start for Eubanks as she lands a flurry of punches before getting the takedown at the first attempt. Lots of floating position and some good strikes from top control as Kianzad is clearly at a disadvantage in these instances. Eubanks controls the entire round with top control and ends the round taking the back of Kianzad, but she runs out of time before she can sink in a choke. 10-9 Eubanks.

Kianzad starts the second round well, landing some good strikes and then defend against the takedown attempt from Eubanks. Kianzad lands some nice knees to the body in the clinch and some good body shots that are doing some damage. Eubanks blasts a takedown and gets it but Kianzad immediately throws up her guard and defends. She looks to sink in an armbar from her back but Eubanks escapes well and Kianzad manages to get back to her feet. A few more body shots land and the round ends with Kianzad throwing elbows to the side of the head as she defends a takedown. 19-19, big round incoming.

Third round continues from where the second left off, as Kianzad keeps the fight standing and starts landing some nice jabs. Eubanks looks laboured now but then lands a big right hand on Kianzad that gets her attention. Kianzad throwing knees to the body again and her jab is landing but Eubanks is walking forward. Both women exchange jabs in the centre before a wild left hook misses the target completely. Final minute now as Eubanks lands a right hand before Kianzad steps in and out landing a nice one-two. Big left hook from Eubanks lands but Kianzad responds with a hook of her own. Fight comes to an end with the women exchanging blows in the centre. 29-28 Kianzad for me but that’s a great fight.

Anthony Pettis def Alex Morono via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A blistering start to this fight as Morono charges across the cage and gets an immediate takedown with a hook in to take the back. He starts raining down huge punches and busts the nose of Pettis early. Body lock tightens as Morono looks for a rear naked choke, but Pettis rotates into him and reverses the position well before getting back up to his feet. Pettis starts flicking out strikes, looking for his big left hand but Morono countering well and forcing Pettis to move backwards. Big spinning kick from Pettis lands clean to the chest but Morono eats it and continues to come forward. Morono goes for another takedown and drags Pettis down to the mat but Pettis reverses it perfectly and ends the round on top. 10-9 Morono but great fight so far.

Fast paced start for the second round as Pettis comes out looking for jabs and kicks but Morono still coming forward. He’s beginning to slow down now a bit though as Pettis looks for a huge spinning elbow but hits fresh air. Pettis throwing some nice leg kicks and a straight left that is causing Morono some trouble, as Pettis throws an axe-kick that grazes the face of Morono. Body kick from Morono as he continues to come forward, but Pettis is landing shots and avoiding any big damage coming back his way. Body kick lands and then a jab from Pettis as both men look for spinning attacks at the end of the round. 19-19, Pettis looking good right now.

Morono lands a nice strike to open the round, before Pettis throws another axe kick that grazes the head. Pettis turns his back after a strike attempt and Morono charges for a takedown, but Pettis rolls through and ends up on top in control. Pettis doing brilliant work to remain on top, stacking Morono against the cage and landing short shots to stay busy. Morono battles back to his feet but Pettis controlling head position and landing knees to the body as we enter the final minute. Separation from the clinch and Morono charges forward with a flurry, but Pettis responds with a clean uppercut. Spinning wheel kick lands to the top of the head by Pettis and Morono is wobbled! Pettis charges for the finish and drops him, but then goes for a guillotine which he doesn’t quite get and ends the round on top raining down punches.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 2 (4:31)

An interesting start to this fight as both guys looking to fight from range using jabs, while Tybura looking to add a few kicks too. Hardy lands a nice right hand but Tybura eats it and throws a nice body kick. Hardy lands three big right hands in a row and Tybura is wobbled! Hardy slows it down again and Tybura goes for a single leg takedown but it’s defended well. Hardy then lands SEVEN heavy right hands in a row that really hurts Tybura but the round comes to an end. Best we’ve seen Hardy. 10-9.

Better start to the round for Tybura this time as he starts to time the shots of Hardy and countering well. He’s walking Hardy down and throwing kicks and jabs, feinting takedowns constantly too. Tybura shoots in for a takedown this time against the cage and Hardy defends it well at first before ending up flat on his back. Tybura flattens Hardy out onto his back and starts throwing bombs down! Hardy starts covering up and Tybura keeps punching until the referee stops the fight! Big comeback win for the Polish fighter!

Rob Font def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 1 (3:47)

Explosive start to the fight from Font as he comes out with two big hooks, which makes Moraes change levels and get a takedown quickly. Font manages to reverse the position and lands some nice knees to the body, but then Moraes picks him up and slams him down and takes control from top position. Font gets back to his feet and Moraes lands a nice head kick that sends Font backwards. Font then throws some bombs that rock Moraes and he drops him with a beautiful uppercut. He jumps on him for the ground and pound and the referee stops it! Wow! What a knockout!

Michel Pereira def Khaos Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very tactical start to the fight with both guys throwing feints and just testing their range for the opening minute. Pereira throws a big one-two and a front kick to the body that connects hard, but Khaos doesn’t flinch. Halfway through the round, Khaos throws some leg kicks as the two clinch and separate quickly. Body kick from Pereira is caught by Khaos and the throws a big one-two that wobbles Pereira. Another front kick by Pereira is caught and another big right hook lands flush, but Pereira eats it and continues to come forward. Right hand lands by Pereira now and he follows it up with a knee up the middle. Flying knee attempt at the end from Pereira but it’s a tight round. 10-9 Khaos.

Another slow start to this round, but it bursts into life as Pereira counters a low kick with a straight right hand flush on the chin. Khaos comes forward and launches a flurry, that leads to a clinch in the centre that ends in a stalemate. Some nice leg kicks land from Khaos and then he starts attacking the body. Pereira responds with a body kick of his own and Khaos charges across the cage throwing punches, landing three in a row to the chin. Clinch against the cage and Pereira throws big knees to the body before they separate. Seconds to go and Pereira jumps on the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. Super close round, 20-18 Khaos for me though.

Fancy footwork from Pereira as he looks to get in and out with powerful strikes, but Khaos is throwing hooks that are landing too. Pereira goes for a weird mule-kick but misses completely and then Khaos throws a flurry of shots to the body and head. Pereira throws a body kick again and then changes levels to secure a takedown. Pereira tries to pass into mount but Khaos defends well and gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute. Khaos eats a kick to the head and then Pereira changes levels again and gets another takedown, ending the round with lots of ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Khaos at the end for me but could go either way.

Jose Aldo def Marlon Vera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Tense start to the fight as Vera and Aldo stand in boxing range and exchange leg kicks early before Vera initiates a clinch against the cage. Aldo eats some knees to the thigh before reversing the position and separating. Big left hook to the body from Aldo gets a reaction from Vera and he throws it again shortly after. Straight right and a big leg kick from Aldo followed by a third body shot, as Vera throws straight kicks to the lead leg of Aldo. Vera throws a head kick which Aldo avoids then throws a big body shot and right hook combo. 10-9 Aldo as the round ends.

Aldo starts the second round with another big left body shot followed by a right hand to the head. Vera still throwing that stabbing leg kick to Aldo’s lead leg, but Aldo is countering with good head shots. Aldo catches a body kick and Vera spins and lands a back fist, moving out of range of Aldo’s counter at the same time. Clinch against the cage as Vera throws knees to the thigh, then looks for a trip. Aldo stays on the feet and throws a knee to the body before they clinch up again against the cage. Better round for Vera there, could well be even.

Vera charges across the cage to start strong but misses a strike and Aldo latches on to the back and locks in a body triangle. He jumps up to the back and eventually flattens Vera out, before eventually rolling through as he looks for a rear-naked choke. Vera is battling the position but Aldo controlling from the back. Vera manages to stand up with Aldo still on his back and walks him over to his corner, slamming him down, but Aldo keeps the body triangle synched up. Aldo keeps the back for the rest of the round and threatens the choke but the buzzer goes and that’s that. Should be an Aldo win.

Stephen Thompson def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Competitive start to the fight from both men as Wonderboy manages the distance expertly as usual, using kicks and jabs. Neal marching him down, looking to close distance to then explode with flurries of strikes but Wonderboy landing combos and then evading. Wonderboy looks very sharp, landing good strikes. Both men go for an exchange of strikes but clash heads, opening up a cut on both men just above their eyes. Fight is paused for a short while but only lasts for another 5 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Wonderboy.

Neal comes out in the second round and looks to engage in a clinch, but Wonderboy defends well and they separate quickly. Wonderboy then lands a stiff one-two down the middle, followed by some clean body kicks. Neal responds with a body kick of his own but Wonderboy counters with short strikes and stabbing body kicks. Straight right lands from Wonderboy as he continues to evade Neal’s attacks with excellent footwork. Neal traps Wonderboy against the cage and finally lands a big left hand, but Wonderboy eats it and responds with a strike of his own to end the round. 20-18 Wonderboy.

Wonderboy continues in the third as he has gone in the first and second so far with good kicking and nice one-twos before moving out of the way. Neal closes the distance and gets a clinch position against the cage, throwing knees to the thigh. Wonderboy swivels and separates well and goes back to landing strikes from range. Both throwing jabs, with Neal landing a couple of nice ones in particular before another clinch against the cage with Neal leaning on Wonderboy, but the veteran separates well then lands a lovely combination. Big straight right hand from Wonderboy lands twice before Neal lands a big left hand just before the buzzer. 30-27 Wonderboy.

More of the same in this fourth round, with Wonderboy using his jab perfectly. Big right hand lands flush and Neal looks like he’s hurt, so Wonderboy lands three more. Nice body kick lands on Neal, that causes an audible burp in the octagon, but Neal is just being outclassed right now. Clinch situation against the cage at the end of the round, Wonderboy is cleaning up right now. He ends the round with what looks like a knee injury though… 40-36.

Final round and Neal comes out aggressive, throwing his big left hand and Wonderboy is clearly compromised by that injured leg. Big exchange against the cage and both men land some big bombs but nobody flinches yet. Body shots from Wonderboy as Neal gets a clinch against the cage. Big body shots from Neal with 70 seconds left as they separate in the clinch, Wonderboy steps forward with a couple of right hands of his own. Neal lands two clean shots but Wonderboy returns with shots of his own as they trade in the centre of the cage to end the round. Great fight, vintage Wonderboy performance. 50-45 for me.

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Main Card Predictions

The final UFC card of the year looks to end 2020 with a bang with a welterweight main event that could decide on a new contender for the belt.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal step into the headline slot following the collapse of the fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. Neal is looking to extend his win streak against the highest level of competition he has faced, knowing a win puts him into the top five conversation.

Elsewhere on the card Jose Aldo looks for his first win at bantamweight against Marlon Vera in the co-main, on a card that has an insane 14 fights on the night.

Last week at UFC 256, we had a poor showing as we scored just 4/10 on the night on a night of incredible fights. That moved us to 185/292 (63.36%) with 80 perfect picks (43.24%) since starting predictions back in June.

With so many fights the predictions will be split into three parts this week, starting with the early prelims here and with the rest of the prelim card here. We move into the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs Greg Hardy (7-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight clash between the Polish fighter looking to go 4-0 in 2020, against the former NFL star who looks to make it three wins in a row. Tybura is coming off wins over Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin and most recently Ben Rothwell, while Hardy got the TKO win over Maurice Greene in October. Tybura is a well rounded fighter who carries power and has submission skills, although he hasn’t won via tap-out since 2014. Hardy is a powerhouse, who uses boxing to get in close and tries to take your head off quite simply. Tybura has been KO’d in each of his last three defeats, so Hardy will take encouragement from knowing that if he lands clean he can put Tybura away. Should this one get out of the first round, Hardy will start to gas and the Pole can then take over and using his good range striking and grinding takedowns against the cage. For that reason, Tybura takes a decision win after surviving the early pressure of Hardy.
PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision

Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs Rob Font (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes returns to the UFC after his defeat to Cory Sandhagen back in October where he was dominated and knocked out in the second round. Rob Font makes his first appearance in over a year but is coming off a two-fight win streak having beaten Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. Moraes is a phenomenal striker in the Muay-Thai discipline and carries scary speed with his punches and kicks. Font is a kickboxer who has a great jab and is more than durable enough to have an all-out war. Font is a pretty standard striker style-wise, who tends to step forward and is very traditional with his footwork. Moraes is world-class when it comes to a kickboxing match and should be able to read Font’s attacks and counter with heavy hands to earn himself a knockout win.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2

Michel Pereira (24-11) vs Khaos Williams (11-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The human highlight reel that is Michel Pereira looks to make it back-to-back wins following a beautiful submission win against Zelim Imadaev back in September. Khaos Williams has won his last eight fights in a row, including his two UFC fights so far. He smashed through Alex Morono in 27 seconds back in February, before annihilating Abdul Razak Alhassan in just 30 seconds with a violent one-punch knockout in November. This fight is highly unlikely to see the judges scorecards, with both guys carrying insane power in their hands and happy to engage in a war for the fans. Pereira has great submission and jiu-jitsu skills, but his go-to is always to strike with venom in his heart. He’s got great kicks and really good head movement, but he doesn’t have the one-punch power of Khaos. If Williams can land, there is every chance it ends there and then but if Pereira can use his movement and avoid using his wild antics to encourage a slug-fest then he should win. I just don’t think he does that and therefore gets chinned into unconsciousness.
PICK – Khaos Williams via Knockout, Round 1

Jose Aldo (28-7) vs Marlon Vera (16-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the greatest pound for pound fighters in UFC history, Jose Aldo has had a rough time recently. He’s lost five of his last seven, including his last three in a row including a knockout loss to Petr Yan in their vacant title fight on Fight Island. Marlon Vera though is on an upwards trajectory, having won six of his last seven including a shocking knockout win over Sean O’Malley back at UFC 252. Aldo is one of the best boxers the UFC has ever seen, with phenomenal counter-striking and dangerous leg kicks and speed. Vera has a good kicking game himself and has a great ground game but everywhere he excels, he’s just a level below Aldo. While Vera is super talented in his own right, this is just a step too far for the Ecuadorian. Aldo completely outclasses him on the feet and eventually gets a TKO win.
PICK – Jose Aldo via Knockout, Round 2

Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs Geoff Neal (13-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Wonderboy’ makes his first appearance in the octagon in over a year following his big win over Vicente Luque in November 2019. Geoff Neal saw a fight with Neil Magny fall through earlier this year and steps into the cage for the first time since KO’ing Mike Perry in December last year. ‘Wonderboy’ is an excellent striker, using his karate style to stay out of range and use his kicks phenomenally well. He’s also a tremendous counter striker which could come in handy against ‘Handz of Steel’. Neal is one of the best finishers in the UFC and has legitimate one-punch power, but is also a very composed and accurate striker too. He throws great volume and has shown the ability to maintain a good pace throughout three rounds, although this is his first five round bout. Thompson is without a doubt the best striker Neal has ever fought and his range management is phenomenal. It’s a really close fight because Neal has never had a step up in competition like this, but he is clearly good enough to be at this level. With that said, I think ‘Wonderboy’ has a style so hard to beat. He was dominating Pettis before a shock knockout and most people had him beating Darren Till in that decision loss. For that reason, I think Thompson stops the Neal train in it’s tracks with a clinic.
PICK – Stephen Thompson via Decision

UFC Fight Island 6: Ortega vs Korean Zombie – Prelims Predictions

The long awaited featherweight clash between Brian Ortega and ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung is finally upon us as the UFC gives us the fourth instalment of the Fight Island series.

The two men will face off in a clash described as a No.1 contender fight by UFC president Dana White, with personal pride as well as a future title shot on the line.

In an 11 fight card that will also see Jessica Andrade move up to strawweight for the first time to take on Katlyn Chookagian, I will break down every fight and give my predictions.

Last week I correctly predicted 8/13 overall with five perfect picks (winner, method, round) although I was wronged by arguably the greatest knockout of all-time for one of them.

PRELIMS

Said Nurmagomedov (13-2) vs Mark Striegl (18-2 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting fight to open the card as the brother of UFC lightweight champion Khabib takes on a UFC debutant at bantamweight. Nurmagomedov is a very good striker who is super active with great takedown defence, while Striegl is a Sambo fighter with good wrestling credentials and a really solid submission game. Striegl is undefeated in his last five fights, winning four in a row before a a no contest last time out due to a low blow. Nurmagomedov however lost his last fight via decision to Raoni Barcelos. This fight depends entirely on whether or not Striegl can get it to the ground. Nurmagomedov leaves himself open for takedowns with his vast array of spinning attacks but his defence is very good. He hasn’t fought anyone with a takedown game as good as Striegl’s in the UFC though and has been beaten already after allowing a late takedown last time out. If he can keep it standing, I think he should be able to light Striegl up on the feet to earn himself a decision win.
PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision

Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7) vs Maxim Grishin (30-8-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After a great run between 2011 and July 2020, Maxim Grishin came into the UFC in the heavyweight division to take on Marcin Tybura on short notice and was handily beaten when he couldn’t cope with the sheer size of his opponent. He returns to his natural weight class of 205lbs when he takes on Gadzhimurad Antigulov who looks to snap a three fight losing streak. Antigulov won his first two UFC fights via submission, but was then knocked out in the first round by Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk before being tapped out in the first round by Paul Craig last time out. Grishin is a pretty well rounded fighter, with good grappling defence and much better striking than Antigulov who will simply look to drag this fight to the ground. If Grishin can avoid the initial burst of energy and takedown attempts from Antigulov then he will see him zap all his energy and he’ll become target practice before a stoppage win.
PICK – Maxim Grishin via Knockout, Round 2

Jamie Mullarkey (12-3) vs Fares Ziam (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fight between two fairly young fighters looking to bounce back from a defeat last time out in this bout. Mullarkey made his debut in the organisation back in October 2019 at UFC 243, where he was outclassed by Brad Riddell on the night. Fares Ziam’s debut was on short notice back in September 2019 where he took on Don Madge at UFC 242 and was also just bettered by the better man on the night. Both men have all their wins bar one (11 for Mullarkey and 9 for Ziam) via stoppage so both are capable of finishing the fight but I believe Mullarkey has the edge. He’s a better striker and a more experienced grappler who has fought against better level opposition. For that reason, I expect he’ll be able to catch Ziam with a nice shot and then lay on the ground and pound for the win.
PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 1

Jun Yong Park (11-4) vs John Phillips (22-10 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

This one seems a bit of a mismatch on paper, until you remember that John Phillips has got a stupid amount of knockouts on his record. The Welshman has a staggering 19 KO wins in his career, but that meant nothing in his last bout when he was handsomely destroyed by Khamzat Chimaev. Park himself is a decent boxer but has more than enough wrestling acumen to cause Phillips a lot of issues. He’s 1-1 in the UFC following a defeat to Anthony Hernandez before a win over Marc-Andre Barriault last time out. If Park is silly enough to go to war with Phillips and exchange punches in a phone booth then he’ll get knocked out. If anything else happens, then he should win this comfortably. My bet is he takes the fight down early like Chimaev did and works the Welshman over before sinking in a choke for the win.
PICK – Jun Yong Park via Submission, Round 1

Gillian Robertson (8-4) vs Poliana Botelho (8-2) – (Strawweight/125lbs)

A strawweight bout between two prospects in the division as 25 year old Gillian Robertson looks to make it two wins on the bounce when she takes on Poliana Botelho. Her last fight was a submission win over Courtney Casey back in June. Robertson is a member of the American Top Team and has a fantastic wrestling game that opens up her superb jiu-jitsu. Botelho is a good boxer and has good power in her hands as her six knockout wins show, but she hasn’t fought in over 18 months. She has a very wide stance which could make the takedown hard for Robertson to get and she also has a height and reach advantage. The issue is she prefers for a big punch rather than to pop her jab and throw combinations, so I think Robertson should be able to slip the power shots and secure a takedown on an off-balance Botelho before putting her ground work in and securing a submission win.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1

Mateusz Gamrot (17-0 1NC) vs Guram Kutateladze (11-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

After watching his teammate Khamzat Chimaev take the UFC by storm on Fight Island back in July, Guram Kutateladze steps in on a little over a week’s notice to take on undefeated Pole and former KSW featherweight and lightweight double champ Mateusz Gamrot. Gamrot is a very intelligent fighter who has power in his hands but tends to lean more on his wrestling and submission skills to finish fights, while Kutateladze is a Muay-Thai fighter with exceptional striking skills. The Georgian has the speed and power advantage on the feet but his grappling leaves plenty to be desired. Unless he has developed some new wrestling defence techniques, I expect Gamrot to take him down and control him against the fence for a comfortable decision win in his UFC debut.
PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Unanimous Decision