Tag Archives: Gregor Gillespie

Paul Felder’s retirement opens up the lightweight division once again

It’s not been long since the UFC were finally able to move their 155lbs weight division on from Khabib Nurmagomedov at the top, but now the top ten is open to a new move too after Paul Felder announced his retirement.

‘The Irish Dragon’ was the last man to beat the new lightweight champion Charles Oliveira way back in 2017, with a second-round knockout via elbows enough to end the night early. But as Oliveira went on an unbeaten run over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, Felder’s career went the other way.

He fought just five more times, going 2-3 including his most recent fight against Rafael Dos Anjos which he took on just five days notice.

All five of the next fights went the distance, with the defeat to Dan Hooker in February 2020 proving to be one of the best fights of the year.

It was a war and one that showed all the absolute strengths that Felder had in his game. A wonderful striker, with a style that encompassed all eight limbs that a UFC fighter is blessed with when it comes to the world of MMA.

He was also a more than decent grappler, hanging on the ground with Oliveira in their fight to avoid chokes and while he only got one submission win himself in his career he is a Gracie purple belt. One of the most durable fighters around, in 24 professional fights he was only ever stopped once before the judge’s scorecards and that was by the doctor rather than an actual strike or submisison.

On top of all his physical gifts, he is also one of the better minds and personalities in the organisation. That much has been evident since he moved to the announcers desk in a part-time capacity and now it seems as though he’s going to move into that role full-time.

Speaking on the broadcast announcing his decision, he spoke of his wish to not hold up the division any more. Sitting in the top ten of the rankings, he was ahead of the likes of Islam Makhachev, Drew Dober, Gregor Gillespie and Thiago Moises – all of whom are looking to make a run towards glory.

Makhachev had even called Felder out for a scrap a couple of times, but it never came to fruition and now we know why.

With Felder admitting he didn’t have the ‘fire’ in his stomach any more when it came to competing, the division can open up more for people who are pushing harder than ever to move higher up in everyone’s thinking.

Makhachev recently got a win over Dober at UFC 259 and will meet Moises on July 17th, while Gillespie recently got back in the octagon with a mightily impressive knockout win over Diego Ferreira at UFC Vegas 26.

The chance is there now to pair up Dober with Gillespie and then get the division really rolling once again, with the rest of the higher ups potentially planned out already.

It’s goodbye inside the octagon for Felder, but it’s hello for the next batch of lightweights who have a chance now to step up in his absence. Thanks for the memories, now lets make some new ones.

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Results (Highlights)

**Ryan Benoit missed weight and wasn’t cleared medically to compete, so his fight with Zarrukh Adashev was cancelled.

Phillipe Lins fell ill before the weigh-ins and wasn’t able to get on the scales, so his fight with Ben Rothwell was cancelled.

Amanda Ribas and a member of her corner team tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the event, so her bout with Angela Hill was cancelled.

The card will proceed with nine fights.**


PRELIMS

Carlston Harris def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Anaconda Choke), Round 1 (2:52)

Positive start for Aguilera in the opening minute as he tries to close the distance with strikes but Harris grabs him and looks for the takedowns. Aguilera is able to stay on his feet though and lands a big uppercut that seems to rock Harris. Harris stays calm and starts using his range well with kicks to recover, then lands a big left hand of his own that hurts Aguilera! Harris lands a nice right hand down the middle and then Aguilera shoots for a takedown to try and recover. Harris sprawls, locks up Aguilera’s neck with an anaconda choke and puts him to sleep! What a debut win!

Jun Yong Park def Tafon Nchukwi via Majority Decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28

Good start to the fight from both men, as they both look to take the centre and be first ahead of their opponent. Park doing well behind his jab, using his great speed advantage to land well but Nchukwi is throwing good strikes too with more power. Park establishing the jab really well and trying to get Nchukwi to throw more so he can counter back. Nchukwi goes for an inside low kick but lands on the cup of Park and causes a pause in the action. Action resumes and Park continues with the jabs, both men trade leg kicks and the round ends. 10-9 Park.

Better start to the round for Nchukwi this time as he fakes a few times and lands a nice flurry of strikes to the face of Park. Park responds with his jabs once again but Nchukwi starting to throw some powerful kicks to the body. Park catches one of those kicks and looks for a takedown against the cage with it and gets a front headlock. Nchukwi fighting the hands and throws a knee to the body but misses and hits the cup once again for another low blow. The referee deducts one point from Nchukwi. Park continues to land his jab and come forward with his speed advantage and then changes levels for a takedown. Nchukwi reverses it with pure power and ends up on top but can’t land any damage before Park is able to work his way back up to the feet and start landing the jab again. Nchukwi goes in for a takedown but Park stops him with a headlock. Nchukwi uses pure power to lift him but Park locks in a guillotine and it’s tight, but the buzzer goes to end the round and save him. 20-17 Park.

Good exchanges at the start of the final round as Park’s jab goes to work once again while Nchukwi looks to come forward with a bit more urgency. A few low kicks from Nchukwi and some big swings with his right hand, but Park rolling well and is able to jab away with ease. Park changes levels and gets a takedown against the cage and is starting to wear on Nchukwi, putting all his weight on him and dragging him to and from. Park gets into three-quarter mount and starts throwing big elbows and heavy strikes, looking for a choke and big ground-and-pound as we enter the final 90 seconds. Nchukwi is bleeding badly but Park eases up on the mauling as the round ends and that’s a very dominant win. 30-25 for me.

Mike Trizano def Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nice, tactical start to the fight from both guys as Trizano takes the centre and forces Klein backwards immediately. Klein lands a nice one two and Trizano responds with a right hand of his own before the exchange body kicks. Trizano’s pressure is forcing Klein to fight backwards and he’s struggling to get his attack going, but Trizano not landing much of his own. Klein shoots in with a nice double-leg takedown and gets Trizano down against the cage and tries to wrap his legs up Khabib-style. Trizano works his way back to his feet and the clinch and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Klein for me but it was close.

Nice right hand lands early on in the second round that puts Klein on his heels as Trizano continues his forward pressure. Klein goes for a head kick that just misses but follows it up with a nice right hand and a big left behind it. Klein shoots for a takedown again but Trizano is wise to it and stuffs it this time. Nice inside kick from Trizano as he forces Klein backwards again, but Klein explodes forward and lands a big left hand again. Trizano landing his jab well as he continues to push Klein backwards but he keeps bursting forwards with nice flurries. Klein bursts forward once more and gets another takedown and ends the round on top, but Trizano active off his back with body shots and should take that round. 19-19 for me.

Forward pressure once again from Trizano and it pays dividends early as he lands a big right hand that rocks Klein! Klein goes for a desperate takedown to survive and Trizano stuffs it, but Klein moves and manages to shake the cobwebs for now. Klein lands a nice left hand of his own but Trizano eats it, then Klein lands a nice leg kick. Body kick from Klein lands and Trizano goes for a right straight to the body. Trizano starting to land his strikes more as he forces Klein backwards and it forces another takedown from Klein. They get back up and then Klein takes him down again, but Trizano looks to sink in a guillotine but runs out of time. 29-28 Trizano for me but could go either way.

MAIN CARD

Phil Hawes def Kyle Daukaus via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-27)

Big pressure early on from Hawes as he backs Daukaus against the cage, while Daukaus looks to keep him at range. A few wild exchanges from both on the feet and Hawes goes in for a takedown early. He gets him down and passes the legs, but Daukaus holds on to the neck and it looks like Hawes has a Von Flute choke in. Daukaus elevates his hips and sweeps Hawes to end up on top and starts looking for control. Hawes eventually gets back to the feet and Daukaus goes in for a takedown again immediately but Hawes defends really well and the rest of the round plays out in a stalemate. 10-9 Daukaus for controlling the grappling against the cage.

Huge start to the second round from Daukaus as he comes out swinging with short hooks and combinations. He lands six or seven big punches and Hawes looks badly hurt on the feet before Hawes is able to clinch up and stall until he has recovered. They separate and Hawes lands a few strikes of his own and Daukaus gets wobbled! Daukaus immediately clinches up too but Hawes then breaks with a big elbow. Nice right hand against from Hawes and they clinch up, then both throw a knee at the same time but Hawes hits the cup to cause a pause. Action resumes and Hawes goes back to working the body with big hooks, slowing Daukaus down as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Hawes lands a big right hand early before shooting in for a takedown and getting the fight down. Daukaus trying to be very active off his back, but Hawes defending everything well and landing some nice short strikes from top position. Daukaus looks to sweep again but Hawes denies it and goes back to the ground pound, going body-head. Hawes starts landing heavy shots and forces Daukaus to try and cover up and the referee is threatening to call the fight off here. He moves enough to supress that, but Hawes is working brilliantly from top position and in complete control. Final 30 seconds and Hawes continues the ground and pound to win the round and probably the fight. Great performance. 29-28 Hawes.

Gregor Gillespie def Diego Ferreira via Knockout, Round 2 (4:51)

Interesting start to the fight as Gillespie takes the centre and lets off a nice left hook. Ferreira shoots a few strikes of his own before Gillespie goes for the early takedown, but the Brazilian defends with submission attempts and eventually gets back up to the feet. Gillespie shoots for another takedown but it’s denied, then Ferreira lets off a couple of right hands that have wobbled him! Gillespie keeps going to the well for the takedown but Ferreira is scrambling brilliantly and using his jiu-jitsu to escape regularly. Ferreira scrambles and sweeps to Gillespie’s back with hooks in, going for a choke and ground and pound but the round ends. 10-9 Ferreira.

Second round and Gillespie looks tired but he’s shooting in for the takedowns still and avoiding the big swings of Ferreira. Lots of scrambling on the ground and Ferreira looks for a kimura from the bottom but Gillespie just keeps moving and floating to the next position as Ferreira is tiring. Gillespie starts landing some big strikes and threatening with chokes of his own and is really wearing on Ferreira. Gillespie takes his back, flattens him out and starts landing big elbows and strikes and the referee steps in to end the fight! Huge win for Gregor Gillespie!!

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def Maurice Greene via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Fast start to the heavyweight bout as de Lima starts throwing wild hooks looking to take Greene’s head off. Both men swing and miss for the most part before they clinch up and de Lima takes the fight down to the ground in Greene’s full guard. Nice ground and pound from de Lima from top position as he’s putting some big pressure on to win the round. 10-9 de Lima.

Second round and immediately de Lima gets the fight down to the ground and gets control. Lots of control and ground and pound from top position as Greene looks to tie him up but it’s just more and more control and ground and pound. As the buzzer goes to end the round, Lima throws a big bomb and Herb Dean gives him a very serious warning. 20-18.

Third and final round and once again de Lima gets a very early takedown into top position and controlling the fight. Plenty of ground and pound again from de Lima as Greene just continues to accept bottom position and get beaten up. This is a completely one-sided fight and relatively pointless as the round ends. 30-27 for me because of a lack of damage, but could be a 10-8 for each round in reality.

Neil Magny def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to the round from Neal as he steps forward quickly and immediately puts Magny on the back foot. Nice straight shots as Magny looks to throw a kick or two, but Neal catches it and pushes him back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Neal before they clinch up and Magny starts to throw some nice knees to the body. Magny bursts forward with a flurry of punches to get a clinch, but Neal takes him across to the cage. Magny changes levels and gets a takedown and looks to take the back, but Neal spins out and gets back to the feet once again. Another clinch against the cage as the round ends. 10-9 Neal.

Magny looking to up the pressure a bit in the second now as he starts throwing some kicks to the body and nice flurries to the head too. Neal doing well to block most of them though and firing back with some nice combinations of his own. Neal clinches and gets a nice trip before a big left hand lands, but Magny gets up and then shoots for a takedown of his own. Neal sprawls and puts Magny against the cage. Nice straight left lands from Neal before Magny goes for a single leg takedown but Neal defends it relatively well until Magny changes the angle and is able to take the back with a body lock. Magny is able to escape it again as they go back to trading in the centre. Magny just touching him with more jabs and kicks as Neal’s output is starting to slow a little. Another clinch against the cage and Neal lands a big elbow as the round ends. 19-19, great fight.

Neal looking to close the distance in the third but trying to avoid a clinch situation, as Magny continues to throw out jabs that are barely landing. Magny definitely the more active of the two, but not much damage being done by either guy at the moment. Neal stuffs a Magny takedown attempt, as he starts to walk Magny down more. Nice one-two lands against the cage but Magny immediately grabs him and clinches before separating and landing some nice jabs. Neal looking frustrated now and Magny gets hold of him and drags him down to the mat, but Neal gets back up quickly once again. Final 30 seconds and Neal lands a huge straight left but Magny sees out the round with with jabs to probably take the win. 29-28 Magny.

Alex Morono def Donald Cerrone via Knockout, Round 1 (4:40)

Fast start from Morono as he charges out into the centre, but Cerrone grabs hold of him and clinches up against the cage to drain that early start out of him. Morono swinging bombs as they separate but Cowboy avoiding it for now and landing a few shots of his own. Nice body kick from Cerrone and then Morono swings in hard again, but Cerrone changes levels and goes for a takedown that is denied. Morono gets a trip of his own but allows Cerrone up and hits him with a right hand on his way up. Morono throws a big right hand that lands clean on Cerrone and he’s backing up. Cerrone throws a left hand and Morono ducks under and a huge looping left overhand cracks Cerrone clean! He’s badly hurt and Morono goes for the finish, throwing a big body shot and knees to the head. Big right hands again from Morono and the referee steps in with Cowboy out on his feet! Wow! What a knockout win for Morono!

Marina Rodriguez def Michelle Waterson via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46 x2)

Slow start to the fight in this one as both women look to feel each other out early on, with Waterson throwing some hard leg kicks that are just missing. Rodriguez takes the centre as the round goes on, throwing some nice body kicks and hard punches while Waterson looks to counter with some nice spin kicks. Rodriguez trying to close the distance to nullify the kicks but Waterson moving well so far to stay out of danger. Bit of a wild clinch at the end of the round ends with a nice knee from Rodriguez, good round that could go either way. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.

Waterson unloading with kicks in this second round, looking to really keep Rodriguez at distance with a side kick counter. Rodriguez continues to come forward and throw the right hand, but Waterson keeps moving away. Waterson goes for a takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it easily and then lands two big punches. Rodriguez grabs a clinch against the cage and lands a nice knee to the body and Waterson separates. Both women trade leg kicks before Rodriguez goes for another clinch and lands some more knees. Waterson goes for a leg kick that just misses but then she lands a body kick and avoids a big right hook from Rodriguez. Big flurry of hooks from Rodriguez followed up by some big knees and an elbow to end the round. 20-18 Rodriguez.

Waterson goes for a leg kick early but misses and ends up on her butt, before Rodriguez catches her with a nice head kick on her way up. Waterson clinches against the cage but Rodriguez defends well and the separate with the Brazilian back in the centre. Rodriguez lands some huge hooks and Waterson covers up hurt, before stepping out and escaping. Two hard leg kicks by Waterson put Rodriguez down for a second, before a nice body kick too. Rodriguez swinging with a lot of power, but Waterson is absorbing it for now. Rodriguez is landing heavy punches but Waterson is still moving and countering with leg kicks and side kicks. Leg kick from Rodriguez followed up by a three-punch combo lands nicely. Rodriguez clinches and throwing big knees but Waterson replies with an uppercut to end the round. 30-27 Rodriguez.

Rodriguez staying patient in the centre as we enter the main event rounds, throwing some low kicks and searching for a home for the big right hand. Waterson keeps moving around the cage, throwing leg kicks of her own as Rodriguez lands a body kick. Waterson goes in for a takedown and gets it, straight into the guard of Rodriguez. Waterson controls the position and lands some heavy elbows on the ground with Rodriguez pinned against the cage. Rodriguez threatens a kimura to try and escape but Waterson rains down big elbows again to end the round on top. 39-37 Rodriguez.

Final round and Waterson staying calm in the centre, not shooting straight in for a takedown as many would have expected. Rodriguez just misses with a right hand and then Waterson throws back-to-back head kicks with the second one clipping Rodriguez. Side kick to the body from Waterson looks like it hurts Rodriguez, but she stays calm and then hits Waterson with a big right hand of her own. Waterson finally goes for the takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it and lands a nice body shot. Another big body shot and left hook from Rodriguez but Waterson replies with a right hand. Waterson steps forward and lands a side kick to the body again, but Rodriguez throws a jab and then looks to clinch up. Big knee and head kick from Rodriguez but Waterson keeps moving and the two women go out swinging as the round ends. 49-46 Rodriguez for me. Great fight.

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Main card predictions

A rather short-notice card finally comes together this weekend when Marina Rodriguez takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event.

After the original main event between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw fell through due to an injury to the former champion, the UFC were left scrambling and managed to throw together two strawweights competing at flyweight to headline the card.

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will now also face off against a short-notice opponent when Alex Morono replaces Diego Sanchez in the welterweight division. There’s also a big welterweight bout on the card between Geoff Neal and Neil Magny, with both men looking to get back on the winning trail and among the contenders of the division.

Last week at UFC Vegas 25, we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to improve to 302/473 (63.85%) with 133 perfect picks (44.04%).

With a fun 12 fight card ahead of us this weekend and after predicting the prelims here, let’s look to improve that record with the main card now.


Phil Hawes (10-2) vs Kyle Daukaus (10-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute banger at middleweight as Phil Hawes takes on Kyle Daukaus in this one. Hawes is on a six-fight win streak including an 18 second KO against Jacob Malkoun at UFC 254, before a dominant decision win over Nassourdine Imavov at UFC Vegas 19 in February. Daukaus lost his UFC debut to Brendan Allen at UFC Vegas 4, before winning against Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC 255 in his most recent fight.

Hawes is an incredibly powerful striker with legit one-punch knockout power, but he showed his wrestling chops in his last fight too. Daukaus on the other hand is a brilliant grappler, who has good height and reach against most opponents. He’s taller than Hawes, but not longer and that’s an issue for him. Hawes will know that and will look to stand and strike with him, using his wrestling only defensively to keep this fight standing.

Daukaus is pretty hittable and has shown a good chin in the past, but he’s never been hit by someone like Hawes. If Hawes lands clean as Daukaus tries to close the distance for a takedown, this will be a short night.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1

Amanda Ribas (10-2) vs Angela Hill (13-9) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very fun strawweight fight to open up the main card as Ribas looks to bounce back from a defeat when she takes on the most active woman in the division. Ribas was on a five-fight win streak beating Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and then Paige VanZant at UFC 251 before losing to Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257. Hill bounced back from her main event defeat to Michelle Waterson at UFC Vegas 10 with a decision win over Ashley Yoder at UFC Vegas 21 in March.

Ribas is a brilliant jiu-jitsu grappler and decent striking on the feet, while Hill is a great all-round mixed martial artists. Hill loves an active fight, where she keeps pushing forward with kicks and Muay-Thai clinches using knees. Her issue with going for those clinches could be that Ribas will try and get her to the ground which is a whole world of trouble for her.

On the feet Hill has the advantage but Ribas can hold her own and won’t get overpowered, and I can’t imagine Hill keeps the fight standing for the full 15 minutes and Ribas is skilled enough to finish it quickly down there.
PICK – Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 3

Diego Ferreira (17-3) vs Gregor Gillespie (13-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An especially fun fight in the lightweight division here as Diego Ferreira takes on the returning Gregor Gillespie. Ferreira lost his last fight via decision against Beneil Dariush at UFC Vegas 18, while Gillespie hasn’t fought since getting knocked out by Kevin Lee at UFC 244 in November 2019.

Ferreira is a solid technical striker with good jiu-jitsu skills on the ground, while Gillespie is arguably the best wrestler in the division now that Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired. Ferreira will use his kicks and speed to avoid the wrestling, but if Gillespie gets hold of him it could be a long night for the Brazilian. He’s a good scrambler and if he ends up on top the level of jiu-jitsu he has is far superior to Gillespie’s, but ‘The Gift’ is likely to get that top position and look to hold it throughout.

From the top, Gillespie will land ground and pound and control the position en route to a good decision win.
PICK – Gregor Gillespie via Decision

Maurice Greene (9-6) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are back in the heavyweight division as two guys coming off losses meet here. Greene has lost three of his last four, beating Gian Villante via submission at UFC Vegas 4 before losing to Greg Hardy via knockout at UFC Vegas 12. de Lima has lost two of his last three including getting dominated by Alexander Romanov and submitted in round one at UFC Vegas 13.

Greene is a power striker with a solid chin and in his last fight showed some decent kicking too. de Lima is a good striker too, with good Muay-Thai and some good takedown defence to back it up also. He has alternated wins and losses in every fight since 2015 but he has got skills. Fast hands (for the division), good power and despite a size advantage Greene doesn’t really know how to use it.

Greene has the advantage of the ground but he rarely looks for takedowns and doesn’t have a wide enough advantage to work a submission, so I think de Lima lands one of his big overhand rights and ends the night early.
PICK – Marcos Rogerio de Lima via Knockout, Round 2

Neil Magny (24-9) vs Geoff Neal (13-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

My pick for fight of the night right here, as two scary welterweights go head to head. Both men lost their last fights after good win streaks, with Magny losing to Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Island 8 while Neal got well beaten by Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in December at UFC Vegas 17.

Magny is an excellent wrestler who has used that to beat some top level opposition in the past, but he also has some really good striking too. Neal on the other hand is a powerhouse with a nasty left-hand, who stays very technical and tight at all times. Neal has some good leg kicks too and is without a doubt the more powerful of the two, but if Magny is able to get the fight to the ground he has the ability to grind his opponents out and land good ground and pound.

With that said, Neal seems to have all the tools to get the win here. His takedown defence is decent and the power and accuracy with which he lands his left hand should cause Magny enough problems to earn ‘Handz of Steel’ the win.
PICK – Geoff Neal via Decision

Donald Cerrone (36-15) vs Alex Morono (18-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Short-notice co-main event alert as Donald Cerrone looks to snap a five-fight winless streak against Alex Morono in the welterweight division. Cerrone has lost to Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis before a draw against Niko Price got overturned to a no contest due to a positive marijuana test for Price. Morono has lost two of his last three, getting a win over Rhys McKee at UFC Vegas 14 in between defeats to Khaos Williams and Anthony Pettis at UFC Vegas 17.

Cerrone is a great kickboxer with so much experience, but also has terrific wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills if he needs it. Morono on the other hand is a solid wrestler who uses his striking to get close enough to clinch up and get it down for a grind. Cerrone has got a brilliant head kick in his arsenal and if Morono keeps his hands relatively low to look for takedowns he could quite easily get caught with it, but Morono’s submission skills are really good and dangerous enough to make Cerrone be wary.

‘Cowboy’ is notorious for being a slow starter and Morono could look to take advantage, but if he performs as he did against Pettis then he could get lit up at kickboxing range. It’ll be close, but the short-notice nature of the bout takes me in Cerrone’s direction.
PICK – Donald Cerrone via Decision

Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) vs Michelle Waterson (18-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An even shorter notice main event as two ranked strawweights meet in the flyweight division. Rodriguez won her last fight against Amanda Ribas via knockout at UFC 257, while Waterson won her last fight against Angela Hill at UFC Vegas 10 via split decision.

Rodriguez is a power puncher with great range and kicks, while Waterson is a karate fighter who uses her kicks a lot to maintain distance and look to work the body a lot. Rodriguez is without a doubt one of the better strikers in the division and that doesn’t bode well for Waterson. She has got nine wins via submission in her career and her takedowns are decent, but Rodriguez has a lot of size on her and with them both moving up a division for this short-notice clash she’ll be at even more of a disadvantage.

I don’t think Waterson will have enough to get the fight down to the ground and Rodriguez’s power is excellent so I think she could get the stoppage win pretty early on.
PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs Holland – Main card predictions

The middleweight division picks up this weekend as Derek Brunson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event of UFC Vegas 22.

In a big month in the division, with six of the top contenders facing off against each other, ‘Trailblazer’ looks to make it six wins in a row after going 5-0 in 2020 by going up against the middleweight gatekeeper.

Elsewhere on the card, Gregor Gillespie makes his return to the cage for the first time since the vicious head-kick knockout against Kevin Lee back in 2019 at UFC 244, to take on the kickboxing mastermind in Brad Riddell in the co-main event.

Last week at UFC Vegas 21, it was a strange card that saw two no decisions meaning our picks got cut down to just 11. We went 6/11 on the night with four perfect picks, to take our total to 256/406 (63.05%) with 115 perfect picks (44.92%).

On a 12 fight card this week, lets see if we can improve that with the main card picks. You can see our picks for the prelims here.


Tai Tuivasa (11-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (6-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys open up the main card as Tai Tuivasa looks for consecutive wins in the UFC against super-late notice replacement Harry Hunsucker. Tuivasa had lost three in a row before a first round knockout win over Stefan Struve at UFC 254, sending ‘The Skyscraper’ back into retirement. Hunsucker is a brawler, who has never seen the second round in his professional career.

Both men love a fire fight and have been knocked out in the past and considering the short-notice nature of the fight this one isn’t likely to last long either. Both guys will come out swinging and it’s all about who has the better chin. Tuivasa has fought by far the higher calibre of fighter throughout his career and we’ve seen him eat big shots before, while Hunsucker’s best shot is his left hook. Hunsucker will look to land a big shot and then shoot for a takedown to work submissions or ground and pound, but the likelihood is that Tuivasa catches him with one of his trademark big shots and start the night with a bang.
PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 1

Adrian Yanez (12-3) vs Gustavo Lopez (12-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A big banger at bantamweight as Adrian Yanez returns following his big debut win back at UFC Vegas 12 to take on Gustavo Lopez. Lopez went 1-1 in 2020, getting dominated by Merab Dvalishvili in his promotional debut before getting a win over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 13.

Yanez is compared to a certain Jorge Masvidal for his style with fantastic boxing, great kicks and knockout power with all his limbs. Lopez is a wrestler with good top control and some very good submissions, with six tap-out wins in his career. Yanez has some decent takedown defence and it should be enough for the skills of Lopez. Yanez will use good footwork, his excellent boxing and some knees to avoid the takedown and eventually score a knockout win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2

Cheyanne Buys (5-1) vs Montserrat Ruiz (9-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A big debut in the women’s strawweight division as Cheyanne Buys makes her first appearance in the big time against a very short notice opponent in Montserrat Ruiz. Buys has won four in a row including her Contender Series bout against Hilarie Rose in August, while Ruiz went 1-1 in Invicta before getting this call-up on just nine days notice.

Buys is a striker with excellent kickboxing skills, using distance management and kicks to her advantage to outstrike opponents, while Ruiz is also a is a pressure fighter with very good clinch fighting. Both women have an excellent work-rate and lots of volume but the fact Buys has the height, reach and kicking advantage this is her fight to lose. Neither woman has one-punch knockout power so the chances of this fight ending early are slim, but it should still be a pretty fun fight for the 15 minutes it goes.
PICK – Cheyanne Buys via Decision

Gregor Gillespie (13-1) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another possible fight of the night between two very highly rated lightweights in Gregor Gillespie and Brad Riddell. Gillespie was an undefeated contender in his last fight, before getting head-kicked into oblivion by Kevin Lee back in 2019. This is his first fight since that bout. Brad Riddell is a kickboxer for City Kickboxing gym and has enjoyed a 3-0 start to his UFC career including his most recent decision win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253.

If there has ever been a clash of styles bout in the UFC, this is it. Gillespie is a power wrestler with decent striking but moreso a huge ground and pound scrapper. Riddell is a technically gifted striker who lands nice power shots and uses excellent footwork to evade his opponent, but also has a fantastic ability to pop back up to his feet after being taken down. With that said, Riddell has never fought a wrestler as good as Gillespie. ‘The Gift’ will take you down, hold you down and break your spirit before beating you into oblivion. If the fight stays on the feet, then Riddell will probably knock Gillespie out. The likelihood is though that Gillespie gets the takedown in each round and clubs him to a wide decision win.
PICK – Gregor Gillespie via Decision

Song Kenan (16-5) vs Max Griffin (16-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A potential fight of the night bout here at welterweight. Song Kenan is 4-1 in the UFC and currently on a two-fight win streak, with wins over Derrick Krantz and Callan Potter in his most recent fight back in February 2020. Griffin on the other hand has lost four of his last six and two of his last three, but won his most recent fight against Ramiz Brahimaj at UFC Vegas 13 via doctor’s stoppage.

Both guys are power punchers who have a wild, brawling style that test the will of their opponent. Griffin has developed a great jab and a good kickboxing game but also has an excellent wrestling game now too. Kenan’s record is somewhat padded, with the majority of his opponents not really UFC calibre fighters. If Griffin comes out looking to just swing for the fences as he has in the past, then he probably gets clipped and knocked out by the Chinese fighter. If he decides to use his wrestling game and gets the takedowns then he should do enough for a comfortable decision win. The likelihood is that Griffin swings early to test the power out and then shoots the takedowns for a win in a highly entertaining bout.
PICK – Max Griffin via Decision

Derek Brunson (21-7) vs Kevin Holland (21-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A big middleweight main event, as both men look to break into the top five of the division en route to a potential title shot. Brunson is on a three-fight win streak having beaten Elias Theodorou, Ian Heinisch and most recently Edmen Shahbazyan, while Holland went 5-0 in 2020 including his most recent win – a huge first-round knockout of Jacare Souza from his back.

Brunson is a very wrestle heavy fighter, who will look to get hold of his opponent and put him into the mat then land big ground and pound from the top position. Holland on the other hand is a fantastic kickboxer with ridiculous power in his hands, but also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. We’ve seen Brunson struggle against power punchers before like Israel Adesanya but he’s only ever been beaten by the elite of the elite in the UFC. If Holland is a legit threat, he should be able to deal with the wrestling and on the feet he has a clear advantage. Confidence is key and he will believe he can knock Brunson out and survive on the ground if he gets taken down. It’s a super close fight and I could get this totally wrong, but my gut tells me Holland lands a big punch or three for a career-defining win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2