Tag Archives: Hakeem Dawodu

UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson – Prelims predictions

The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event got even weirder on the day of weigh-ins, as the top three fights of the card all got switched.

Initially supposed to be Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz in the main event, “Borz” missed weight by over 7lbs which sparked mega changes.

It will now be Nate Diaz fighting Tony Ferguson in the main event, a five-round welterweight bout, while Chimaev will now fight Kevin Holland at a 180lbs catchweight.

Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight, who was originally supposed to fight Kevin Holland. Crazy.

Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Jake Collier (13-7) vs Chris Barnett (22-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
*Chris Barnett missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

Two heavyweight strikers up next. Collier has alternated wins and losses since 2014, with his most recent fight seeing him drop a split decision to Andrei Arlovski. Barnett earned a stunning spinning wheel kick KO against Gian Villante at UFC 268, before getting beaten by Martin Buday in his most recent bout.

Collier is a good boxer with good hand speed and some decent low kicks, while his movement comes from his previous career as a middleweight once upon a time. “Huggy Boy” is a powerhouse who likes to use unorthodox attacks to catch his opponents out, but ultimately he finds himself at a big disadvantage in this one.

“The Prototype” is the better striker with better movement and he’s also got good wrestling which he has shown in recent fights to be able to take the fight down to the mat if necessary. So long as he avoids the crazy strikes from Barnett and keeps the fight in his own wheelhouse, this should be a comfortable win on the scorecards for Collier.
PICK – Jake Collier via Decision

Denis Tiuliulin (10-6) vs Jamie Pickett (13-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight scrap is due up next. Tiuliulin was submitted in his UFC debut against Aliaskhab Khizriev back in March, while Pickett saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he lost to Kyle Daukaus via submission in February.

Tiuliulin is a powerful striker with great technique and decision making that means he fights the same way no matter who his opponent is. Pickett is a striker too who likes to keep his range and use his kicks too, and where he misses out on technique he makes up for in volume. Pickett also has good wrestling, but he’s not really known as a killer in this division.

Pickett’s best path to victory is undoubtedly by mixing in his wrestling and staying at range. Tiuliulin will come forward and look to avoid that, and if he lands flush then he should be able to finish Pickett. It’s going to be close, but I’m going to back the one-punch knockout power of Tiuliulin because he’ll be the guy coming forward and dictating the pace.
PICK – Denis Tiuliulin via Knockout, Round 1



Jailton Almeida (16-2) vs Anton Turkalj (8-0) – (Catchweight/220lbs)

A short notice scrap up next. Almeida is on an 11 fight win streak including first round finishes in both of his UFC bouts, beating Danilo Marques and Parker Porter. Turkalj steps in on ten days’ notice, as an undefeated fighter with a win on the Contender Series back in July.

Almeida is a terrifying prospect at 31-years-old. He is a powerhouse of a puncher, but it’s his grappling game that makes him a real threat to his opponents, with ten submission wins in his career. Turkalj will no doubt want to stand and strike because of that, but his boxing isn’t the best and his head movement is basically non existent.

This fight will last as long as “Malhadinho” wants it to basically. Turkalj usually wants to wrestle but with the submission threat he’ll want to stand and that gives Almeida the chance to take his head off. If that isn’t working out, he’ll shoot and end up in top position and Almeida will surely be able to find his neck relatively quickly to claim a dominant victory and set Almeida up for a highlight reel win.
PICK – Jailton Almeida via Submission, Round 2

Hakeem Dawodu (13-2-1) vs Julian Erosa (27-10) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
*Hakeem Dawodu missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

A very fun featherweight scrap is the featured prelim of the night. Dawodu has won six of his last seven fights, with Movsar Evloev earning a decision win at UFC 263 before Dawodu bounced back with a decision win over Mike Trizano. Erosa on the other hand has won his last two, submitting Charles Jourdain before a split decision win over Steven Peterson.

Dawodu is a superb Muay Thai fighter who has got great power, good takedown defence and excellent cardio which should see him have the advantage in this match up. Erosa is a super submission artist with a big right hand, but if he can’t get the fight to the ground he tends to struggle to get wins. Getting Dawodu down to the mat will be hard enough, but holding him down there will be even harder because he’s a super scrambler.

“Juicy J” could potentially land one of his big right hands and then step onto a submission, but that’s a very slim hope. Dawodu is far more likely to tee off with body kicks, leg kicks and punching combinations while keeping himself at range to avoid the takedown. A combination of those things could see him earn a stoppage, but a decision win is more likely to see him get another win.
PICK – Hakeem Dawodu via Decision

UFC Vegas 47: Hermansson vs Strickland – Prelims predictions

After a short two week break following on from the return of fights in 2022, the UFC is back with a middleweight main event at UFC Vegas 47 this weekend.

In the headline fight Jack Hermansson looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on Sean Strickland at 185-pounds, where we could either see a new contender in the division or find out that neither are championship calibre.

Last time out at UFC 270 we had a bad night, going 5/11 with one perfect pick to move to 519/813 (63.84%) with 218 perfect picks (42%).

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims of this 13-fight card, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Alexis Davis (20-11) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting women’s bantamweight fight to open up the prelims. Davis is 1-4 in her last five, with all her defeats coming against top level competition. Her most recent win came two fights ago when she beat Sabina Mazo at UFC Vegas 20, before she lost last time out to Pannie Kianzad at UFC 263. Stoliarenko has lost each of her last two fights to Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 6 and then got stopped by Julia Avila at UFC Vegas 30.

Davis is a strong striker with good boxing and excellent Muay-Thai, while her grappling game isn’t horrendous either. Stoliarenko on the other hand is a recently graduated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, who has eight of her nine wins via armbar. She tends to get the fight down and try to explode into submissions, but on the feet she is very poor and tends to leave her chin high and loads everything up.

This isn’t the best fight on the card at all and realistically it’s Davis’ fight to lose. She has the edge on the feet and while Stoliarenko is the better grappler, I think Davis has enough about her to hold her own down there and do enough damage on the feet to earn a decision win.
PICK – Alexis Davis via Decision

Chidi Njokuani (20-7) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (13-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight fight that could see the crowning of a new fan favourite here. Njokuani earned a win on the Contender Series last time out to earn a UFC contract and move to a two-fight win streak, while Barriault recovered from defeat in each of his first three UFC bouts to be on a two-fight win streak now and have momentum on his side.

Njokuani is a very technical striker, with solid front kicks and really nice counter punching on his side while Barriault is a good fighter who tends to rely on his one-punch power and then clinches his way to victories. He has nine knockout wins in his career. This fight goes one of two ways; Njokuani gets a highlight reel KO against the one-paced Barriault, or Barriault wears on him enough to slow the pace right down and get a unanimous decision win.

Looking at the tape and the styles, I think the former is the more likely. Njokuani’s kicks and counters should be enough to stop Barriault’s forward pressure right in it’s tracks and eventually land a big combination to secure a knockout win.
PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Knockout, Round 2



Hakeem Dawodu (12-2-1) vs Mike Trizano (10-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

One of the best fights on the card here as two featherweights go head-to-head. Dawodu has had an impressive run in the UFC to date with five wins in between losses in his first and most recent fights in the organisation. Movsar Evloev earned a decision win at UFC 263 in his last fight. Trizano on the other hand returned from two years out of the cage to earn a decision win over Ludovit Klein in his most recent fight at UFC Vegas 26 last time out.

Dawodu is a very talented Muay-Thai fighter who uses his knees brilliantly and his excellent striking technique to the best of his abilities at all time. He’s also got solid power, enough to earn seven KO wins in his career. Trizano on the other hand is a pressure fighter who looks to walk his opponents down and use his speed to land first, while mixing in decent wrestling too. He will need that wrestling to earn a win here, because he’s totally outgunned on the feet.

Unfortunately for Trizano, I don’t think his wrestling is at the level needed to control Dawodu for long enough to take rounds and the fight. On the feet Dawodu should have the edge and if he can keep the fight standing for the majority, he should claim the wide decision win with his combinations and power.
PICK – Hakeem Dawodu via Decision

Miles Johns (12-1) vs John Castaneda (18-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135-pounds is the featured prelim bout on this card. Johns has won each of his last two fights via knockout, defeating Kevin Natividad at UFC Vegas 12 and then Anderson Dos Santos at UFC 265. Castaneda on the other hand bounced back from being well beaten by Nathaniel Wood at UFC Fight Island 3 with a knockout victory over Eddie Wineland at UFC Vegas 19.

Johns has got an excellent jab and some good boxing, while his wrestling is of a strong enough level that he can fall back on it whenever he needs to. Castaneda is a pressure fighter who has good knockout power but his wrestling skills aren’t the best, although he does have great speed in his striking. Johns has a habit of self-sabotaging and just sitting on a lead in a fight, but he can’t do that here because Castaneda won’t stop.

Johns has a good enough jab to control the fight and is the better wrestler of the two to get takedowns. Castaneda throws a lot of leg kicks which could make a big difference but if Johns catches one and sees the round out on top he’ll take the win. It’ll go the distance and it’s not a lock of a pick, but I think Johns takes the win.
PICK – Miles Johns via Decision

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.

PRELIMS

Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Prelims predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here lets move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Movsar Evloev (14-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight between the undefeated Evloev against the impressive Dawodu. Evloev got wins at UFC Fight Island 3 over Mike Grundy and UFC 257 against Nick Lentz via decision, while Dawodu is on a five-fight win streak himself including a split decision over Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 253.

Evloev is among the elite wrestlers in the UFC, who will take you down and hold you down for as long as he wants to beat you up on your back. Dawodu on the other hand is a striker with good power, but he has a mean leg kick and a tight front guillotine too. While those kicks will be key to his path to victory, they also give Evloev a constant chance to catch them and take him down and that’s a big problem.

Overall, Evloev’s wrestling is just too good for Dawodu and he should be able to beat him up for 15 minutes for a wide win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Lauren Murphy (14-4) vs Joanne Calderwood (15-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two UFC veterans go head-to-head in the women’s flyweight division here to break into the title conversation once again. Murphy has won four-in-a-row, with a decision over Roxanne Modafferi at UFC Vegas 3 before a submission win over Lillya Shakirova at UFC 254. Calderwood went 1-1 in 2020, losing to Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5 before beating Jessica Eye at UFC 257.

Murphy is a terrific striker, with her clinch game among the best of the rest in the division outside of the champion. She uses her long limbs well and loves to land an elbow, while Calderwood is a decent striker in her own right but she has wrestling to fall on too. Calderwood is arguably the better striker, but Murphy has more tools in her belt to push for a win.

She’s got striking, grappling and size and I think this win sets her up for a title fight.
PICK – Lauren Murphy via Decision

Eryk Anders (13-5 1NC) vs Darren Stewart (12-6 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The UK’s Darren Stewart makes a return to the octagon after a mixed 2020 when he takes on Eryk Anders looking to get back on track. Stewart went 1-2 last year losing to Bartosz Fabinski on a Cage Warriors card after UFC London got cancelled, before submitting Maki Pitolo in the first round at UFC Vegas 6 and losing a split decision to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11. Anders has lost four of his last six, most recently to Krzysztof Jotko in May before missing weight in November. These two fought each other in March at UFC Vegas 21, but it was a no contest after an illegal knee from Anders.

Both guys are quite well rounded all over the mixed martial arts world, but Anders seems to struggle under pressure. Stewart seems super confident in his chin and that means he’s happy to walk forward and he’s certainly more active. I think he has the physicality advantage too and with good submission skills and good power he will be confident. Anders showed that he has the power to hurt Stewart though in their first bout and that could lead to a more wrestle heavy approach from Stewart.

Ultimately, ‘The Dentist’ runs it back and snaps a two-fight winless run.
PICK – Darren Stewart via Decision

Drew Dober (23-10) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A truly brilliant fight for the feature prelim bout as Dober and Riddell meet in a striker’s paradise type fight here. Dober was on a three-fight win streak before taking a short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev and getting choked out at UFC 259, while Riddell got a win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253 before a fight with Gregor GIllespie fell through in March.

Dober is a terrific boxer with good leg kicks and a great gas tank, with plenty of power in his right cross. Riddell on the other hand is a world class kickboxer with power in all his limbs and joints, while his footwork often opens up new angles for him to strike. Both guys are durable and skilled with power too.

Riddell sometimes starts slowly, but his experience in a purely stand-up battle tells me he has the edge here. Neither guy will need to prepare for takedowns and when it comes to just pure striking, there aren’t many 155lbers better at it than Riddell.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Main Card Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I have already predicted the prelims of this card here and will look to try and improve my total this time around.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A real toss-up of a fight to open the main card as these two up and coming featherweights face off. Dawodu is currently on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Austin Arnett, Kyle Bochniak, Yoshinori Hori and Julio Arce while Tukhugov has a win, a loss and a draw in his last three bouts. Both fighters are pretty well rounded all-in-all and could go either way. Dawodu has a power advantage on the feet but Tukhugov has a ground advantage, although Dawodu has excellent takedown defence to combat that. With just half an inch reach between the two also, there really is barely anything between the two fighters. If I had to pick, I’d side with Tukhugov simply because if he can get the fight to the ground then he should be able to control the fight from there but this could genuinely go either way.
PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Unanimous Decision

Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Another razor close match up here, this time in the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira makes her first appearance since December last year where she was beaten by Irene Aldana, while Sijara Eubanks makes a quick turnaround following her win over Julia Avila just two weeks ago. Vieira is a rangy striker who uses her striking to land takedowns and top control, where she can work for submissions, while Eubanks is a kickboxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Vieira has a natural size advantage and has great takedowns, something that Eubanks could struggle with considering the way she won her last bout but as a black belt she will feel that she is capable of hanging with her opponent. The fight essentially comes down to who lands heavier on the feet and who ends up on top on the ground. With a wave of momentum on her side, I’ll go with Sijara Eubanks but her fights are notoriously hard to pick.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision

Kai Kara-France (21-8 1NC) vs Brandon Royval (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between two very exciting prospects in the division as Kai Kara-France makes his first appearance since February’s win over Tyson Nam when he takes on Brandon Royval. Royval won his UFC debut on short-notice against Tim Elliot back in May when he ragdolled the veteran and ended up submitting him. This is a fight between two very good fighters who are looking to work their way up the rankings. Kara-France is the better striker of the two marginally and has the better wrestling, while Royval’s jiu-jitsu is mightily impressive. The issue for Royval is that because of the wrestling edge Kara-France has, the best chance he has of getting this to the ground to work his submissions is via a knockdown. That’s unlikely in my eyes so I think Kara-France is able to out-strike his opponent on the feet to a fairly comfortable but entertaining decision win.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (26-8) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The new era in the light heavyweight division begins with this fight, as a new champion will be crowned. Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon for the first time since his controversial defeat to Jon Jones back in February while Blachowicz comes in on a three-fight win streak following wins over Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson. Reyes is a powerful southpaw fighter, who’s boxing caused so many problems for Jon Jones in his last fight. He has amazing power but also tremendous footwork to evade attacks, plus a fierce body kick. His takedown defence was on show in that fight too as Jones went 2/9 on takedown attempts. Blachowicz is a more aggressive wrestler than Jones, although I wouldn’t say he’s better. He’s got scary power in his hands too but he tends to prefer securing takedowns and using his jiu-jitsu game. If he employs those tactics again, Reyes will look to use that same defence that he used against Jones and if he lands as much this time around as he did in his last fight he will surely land the knockout in this one.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 3

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The fight of the year. The middleweight title crown is up for grabs but also both men put their undefeated records on the line in this one. Adesanya is 19-0 having beaten Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in his last three bouts while Costa beat Romero, Uriah Hall and Johnny Hendricks in his last three. There will be no grappling in this bout, that much is almost guaranteed. Adesanya is a former world kickboxing champion while Costa is one of the most powerful punchers in the entire company. Costa has a tendency to tuck his chin in and just storm forward, happy to eat punches in order to give some back. He loves to rip to the body in combinations before throwing hooks to the head, something Adesanya will look to avoid by not getting stuck up against the cage. Adesanya will look to use his feet to maintain some distance but he will use his speed advantage to land strikes in the inevitable wild exchanges that Costa will look to force. Interestingly enough, despite both of these men being fierce knockout artists I don’t think this fight ends in a knockout. We’ve seen that both of these guys are ready for war and do possess a chin to go with their striking and I think that while there will be some wobbly moments for both guys, Adesanya’s movement and fight IQ will see him come out on top on the judges scorecards.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision