Tag Archives: Ion Cutelaba

UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Main card predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night, and moving on to the rest of the prelims section of the card, we finish off with the main card picks here.


Jake Hadley (8-0) vs Allan Nascimento (18-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A grapple-heavy affair coming up to open the main card here. Hadley is an undefeated former Cage Warriors champion, who earned his UFC debut with a submission win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Nascimento on the other hand was defeated in his UFC debut back at UFC 267, dropping a split decision to Tagir Ulanbekov.

Both Hadley and Nascimento are grapplers by nature, but they’re different in their approach. Hadley is a brilliant wrestler, who looks to smother his opponents with his takedowns and work for submissions by taking the back as quickly as possible. Nascimento looks to stand and use his kicking game, unafraid to be dragged into a scrap because he knows if he’s on the ground his submission game is excellent too. This is a super evenly matched fight and very hard to call.

One advantage that Hadley has is that he’s comfortable whether he’s on top or on the bottom, while Nascimento does not look comfortable when he’s underneath someone else. They will contest takedowns against the cage without a doubt and it will be finely contested, but in these matches it’s those fine margins that make the difference and I think Hadley claims the win.
PICK – Jake Hadley via Decision

Frank Camacho (22-9) vs Manuel Torres (12-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight bout between a veteran likely on his way out and an upcoming talent from Mexico. Camacho has lost four of his last five stretching back to 2018 and was KO’d in just 41 seconds by Justin Jaynes in his last fight at UFC Vegas 3. Torres is making his UFC debut here on a three-fight win streak after victory on Dana White’s Contender Series back in October last year.

Camacho is a veteran of the sport despite being only 32 years old as his record shows. ‘The Crank’ is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s more known for his slugfest style where he brawls and entertains. Torres is a very physical and aggressive fighter, with great power in his hands and a killer instinct with 11 finishes in 12 fights. This is a real test to see where Camacho stands in his career.

Both men have the power to really hurt the other, but whether Camacho’s chin can still stand up after his latest knockout is a big worry. There is the fact that he has a lot more experience, and if he mixes up his attacks to include some ground game then he has a great chance of victory. With that said though, it’s not often that he leans on his grappling as his initial game plan, so I expect a hungry Torres to claim a big stoppage win.
PICK – Manuel Torres via Knockout, Round 1

Katlyn Chookagian (17-4) vs Amanda Ribas (11-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two women’s flyweights looking to get into title contention in a division dominated by one queen. Chookagian has already fought for the belt and got dominated, but she has gone 4-1 since then, including wins in each of her last three against Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 255), Viviane Araujo (UFC 262) and Jennifer Maia (UFC Vegas 46) all by decision. Ribas saw her hype reach an all-time high when she submitted Paige Van Zant at UFC 251, but she was brutally stopped by Marina Rodriguez next time out at UFC 257. She bounced back with a great decision win over Virna Jandiroba at UFC 267 in her last bout.

Chookagian is a karate fighter who uses her range really well and volume strikes to dominate her opponents. Her body kicks are excellent while she has good boxing too and often just completely outworks her opponent. Ribas is a pretty rubbish striker on the feet, but on the ground she is a terrifying prospect with her submission skills. The problem here is that she may not be able to get the fight to the ground.

‘Blonde fighter’ is very good when it comes to ensuring fights go the way she wants, unless it’s against Valentina Shevchenko. She dominates the range, has good takedown defence and is the better striker as well as having the size advantage. Expect her to put in a vintage performance to claim yet another decision win.
PICK – Katlyn Chookagian via Decision



Davey Grant (13-6) vs Louis Smolka (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Very fun 135-pound scrap coming up in this one. Grant has lost his last two in a row, dropping decisions to Marlon Vera and then Adrian Yanez respectively. Smolka has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, being on the wrong end of a knockout finish to Vince Morales at UFC Vegas 44 in his most recent outing.

Grant is a terrific grappler who has completely transformed his game in recent years to start chasing knockouts with nasty combinations and wild hooks to the head. Smolka is another entertaining fighter, who uses his cardio as a weapon while throwing good combinations and threatening with chokes when the opportunity presents itself. When you match them skill for skill, Smolka seems to be in a world of trouble with this one.

The Brit is bigger, stronger, the better grappler and hits harder. His cardio is more than good enough to really go the distance at a good pace too and he is by far the more durable of the two fighters. This one will likely turn into a war, and that means Grant clips him midway through the fight for the finish.
PICK – Davey Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Ryan Spann (19-7) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The big boys take up the co-main event slot in this one as light heavyweights collide. Spann has lost two of his last three, including getting absolutely squashed by Anthony Smith in the first round in his last bout. Cutelaba overcame a three fight winless run after KO losses to Magomed Ankalaev and a draw with Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25, by earning a decision win in his last bout against Devin Clark.

Spann is a tidy grappler on the mat with 11 submission wins to his name in his career. His wrestling is decent, while his striking on the feet is okay, but anything outside of his comfort zones is a huge problem for him. Cutelaba on the other hand is a super aggressive fighter who charges forward and threatens with constant takedowns by landing huge power punches in combinations. Spann needs to be able to get this fight down with himself on top to win this, because he’s outmatched by Cutelaba.

‘Hulk’ will look to put Spann on his back foot regularly and will try for takedowns against the cage before swinging huge combinations to try and take his head off. Spann won’t be comfortable with that, and when that happens he tends to just kind of melt away. That’s not ideal against someone so aggressive, so Cutelaba could claim a violent finish early on.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1

Jan Blachowicz (28-9) vs Aleksandar Rakic (14-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that could easily have been contested for the 205lbs title at some point last year now takes place as a contender bout in the division. Blachowicz was dominated in his last outing by Glover Teixeira as he lost the belt at UFC 267, bringing to an end his five fight winning streak. Rakic on the other hand has won his last two, with just one defeat since losing his pro debut. He dominated Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos (UFC 259) in his most recent bouts.

Blachowicz is a brilliant fighter who is very well-rounded. He has got the legendary ‘Polish power’ in both hands where his boxing combinations score him knockout wins, while his wrestling is also good as he showed against Israel Adesanya back at UFC 259. Rakic’s wrestling has been shown to be brilliant too, while he also has scary power in his hands earning him nine career KO wins. This is a super hard fight to call, because both guys match up so well.

Rakic is nine years younger and the fact that Teixeira was able to take Blachowicz down so easily and control him on the mat will be of big encouragement to him. It shows that he is capable of being controlled and Rakic is very good at that. I think Blachowicz is now going to start a steady decline as age catches up to him, and Rakic is going to pile on the misery for a huge win and secure himself the next title shot.
PICK – Aleksandar Rakic via Decision

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very interesting middleweight bout to open the main card as Buckley and Arroyo look to get back into the win column in this one. Buckley had the world at his feet after his mind-blowing KO over Impa Kasanganay and then Jordan Wright at UFC 255, but he got starched with a head kick by Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7. Arroyo came into the UFC very highly-rated, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Andre Muniz and Deron Winn most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Buckley is a pressure fighter with lots of power in both his hands and feet, but he’s only 5ft 10′ and in the middleweight division that’s not the biggest. Arroyo on the other hand is a good striker who has seriously struggled with wrestling since coming to the UFC. Buckley moves a lot and has a considerable athletic advantage, but Arroyo is better when he’s allowed to stand and Buckley can prove to be pretty predictable sometimes with his timing.

With that said, Arroyo hasn’t shown me anything that gets me excited about his future yet. We saw Buckley come back from getting KO’d by Kevin Holland in the past and I think he’ll come back in this one with a bang once again.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Nate Maness (13-1) vs Tony Gravely (21-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135lbs in this one between two highly-rated potential future contenders. Maness has won both his UFC bouts so far, cruising past Jonny Munhoz Jr before a submission win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 15, while Gravely has also won his last two with a split decision over Geraldo De Freitas before a KO over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 24.

Maness is a good all-rounder, with good striking and good wrestling to be able to compete everywhere the fight could possibly go. Gravely on the other hand is a spectacular wrestler with good power in his hands and a nasty finishing instinct if he gets an opponent hurt, shown in his 12 stoppage wins. Gravely is arguably better at everything in this fight, but has had issues in the past with cardio and that’s where he could find himself in trouble.

If he goes too hard, too early then Maness could stay in there and cause him big issues in the later rounds. If he starts too slowly then the same could happen also. If he however paces himself properly, boxes his way to the inside and secures some top control then it’ll be a long night for Maness.
PICK – Tony Gravely via Decision

Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs Christos Giagos (19-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An absolutely brilliant bit of match-making in this one as one highly rated prospect takes on an up and coming veteran at lightweight. Tsarukyan has won three-in-a-row with his most recent win coming against Matt Frevola at UFC 257, and his only defeat since 2015 coming against Islam Makhachev. Giagos has won his last two fights, including a submission win over Sean Soriano at UFC 262 last time out.

Tsarukyan has a brilliant freestyle wrestling background as well as tremendous cardio and a good kickboxing arsenal to go with it. Giagos on the other hand is a tidy kickboxer himself who is also at his best when he’s coming forward and securing takedowns on his opponent. Giagos has had issues with his cardio in the past and Tsarukyan showed some terrific takedown defence against Makhachev, which spells bad things for Giagos.

Unfortunately for Giagos, Tsarukyan seems to have the advantage in the wrestling world and on the feet they’re pretty evenly matched. Both prefer the grappling world, which makes me lean towards the Russian in a decision victory.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision

Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs Mandy Bohm (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun fight in the women’s flyweight division between two big strikers at 125lbs. Lipski is 2-2 in her most recent fights, losing her last two-in-a-row to Antonina Shevchenko and then Montana De La Rosa via knockout at UFC Vegas 28. Bohm on the other hand is a very highly rated undefeated fighter coming over from Bellator, winning her most recent fight via decision just under a year ago.

Lipski’s nickname is ‘Queen of Violence’ for a reason. She is a nasty striker who loves to use knees and elbows and has some good striking and clinch control. Bohm on the other hand has a beautiful jab and will look to drag her opponent down to the ground, take their back and synch up some submissions. Lipski’s defeats all generally have come against top level fighters but she does struggle on the ground and that could be a problem here.

Lipski will without a doubt look to maintain distance, use her kicks and stay away from the mat. But where she loves to clinch up for knees and elbow strikes, she puts herself into danger. With that said, Bohm hasn’t fought anyone at Lipski’s level or with her experience yet. It’s due to be a fascinating fight that could go either way but when it’s grappler vs striker, I tend to lean towards the grappler.
PICK – Mandy Bohm via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1) vs Devin Clark (12-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very intriguing light heavyweight scrap between two ranked fighters among the big men in the company. Cutelaba is winless in his last three fights, getting knocked out twice by Magomed Ankalaev before a split draw against Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25. Clark was beaten in the main event at UFC Vegas 15 by Anthony Smith last time out but won his last two before that.

Cutelaba is a fighter who straight up likes to brawl. He’s a power puncher who throws with reckless abandon and solid technique with some good accuracy and a good chin of his own. Clark on the other hand is a fighter who puts W’s above entertainment with his style, generally trying to wrestle his opponent to the ground and keep them there. Clark is a great wrestler but he’s not among the top fighters in the division, and while Cutelaba isn’t either I think he’s still a level above Clark.

The power in the hands means he will land and likely hurt Clark but it’s whether or not Cutelaba can either prevent the takedowns or stop Clark from holding him down. He has a wrestling background and has shown an ability to be able to do that in the past, so I believe Cutelaba can land and keep it standing enough for a win.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Decision

Anthony Smith (35-16) vs Ryan Spann (19-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight main event sees former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith take on first-time main eventer Ryan Spann. Smith bounced back from a dominant defeat against Aleksandar Rakic to cruise past Devin Clark and then Jimmy Crute in his last bout at UFC 261. Spann on the other hand has won nine of his last ten fights, losing to Johnny Walker before bouncing back with a win via violent knockout against Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 21.

Smith is a former golden gloves boxing champion with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to go with over 50 professional fights worth of experience. Spann is a powerful striker in his own right, but he doesn’t really throw combinations and his gas tank is absolutely a worry in a five-round fight. Smith has a solid chin and is incredibly well-rounded and ultimately here, Spann’s tool box just isn’t that deep.

‘Lionheart’ has multiple paths to victory in this fight and while he may look to be wary early on because of Spann’s power, he will take over and show that there are levels to this mixed martial arts game to secure a third straight victory.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Felipe Colares def Luke Sanders via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Colares opens up with a big body kick that Sanders half catches and slams home a nice flurry of strikes to counter it. Colares continues to throw those huge kicks but Sanders avoiding damage for the most part and then charges in with a flurry and lands a big left hand that drops Colares! Sanders goes for the finish and lands some huge elbows in the clinch and a big knee that puts Colares down again! Big ground and pound from Sanders but Colares still moving and trying to survive. They eventually get back to the feet and Sanders steps back to separate, then starts throwing that heavy left hand once again. Sanders is landing clean right straights with left uppercuts and Colares is hurt, but he’s surviving again. Sanders now slowing down a bit and Colares coming forward and throws a big right hand that wobbles Sanders! Both men exchange body kicks as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Sanders.

Great start to the round as Sanders comes forward with big left hands once again and lands them well. Both men much slower in this round but Sanders still landing with good power, then he changes levels and gets himself a takedown. Colares defends well on the ground and eventually they get back to the feet. Sanders much, much slower now and Colares starting to pressure more and lands a nice body kick again. Colares is able to get Sanders against the cage and locks his hands and picks Sanders up. He walks him across the cage and slams him down, then takes his back and flattens him out. Colares starts pounding away looking for a finish and the referee is looking at stopping it, but Sanders just about survives as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and both guys are exhausted already, but Sanders is keeping some distance and landing his heavy hands well. Colares coming forward working the body well with kicks, but Sanders is controlling the pace and landing more cleanly. Colares throws another kick but Sanders catches it and tries to take him down with a trip, but Colares gets back up quickly. Both men are basically out on their feet and Colares gets a judo throw to end up on top of Sanders with 30 seconds left. He looks for ground and pound but Sanders gets back up and they see the round out. Great fight, 29-28 Sanders for me.

Andreas Michailidis def KB Bhullar via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Tentative start from both fighters as Bhullar flicks out a few kicks while circling on the outside, as Michailidis looks to step forward and get inside. Nice little flurry of punches lands from Michailidis but Bhullar moving away and avoiding getting hit flush with the strikes before the clinch up against the cage to a stalemate. Bhullar starting to throw those kicks again to the head and body, then Michailidis throws a wild head kick that lands and follows up with another flurry of hooks. Michailidis changes levels and gets the takedown and starts controlling on the ground in the final minute, taking the back and floating threatening with a choke but Bhullar sees out the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Good start again from Michailidis as he comes forward and throws those flurries once again, then Bhullar lands an accidental low blow to pause the action. Fight resumes and Michailidis comes forward again, with Bhullar trying to use his kicks to keep range but not really doing any sort of damage or making Michailidis think about coming forward. Huge one two lands from Michailidis but Bhullar eats it, but he’s not throwing with any sort of intent at all. Little low kicks from Bhullar and then he misses with a big spin kick as Michailidis continues to march him down. Big swing and a miss once against from Michailidis as the round ends. 20-18.

Slow start to the final round as Michailidis is recharging for a flurry, while Bhullar is just prodding small kicks with zero intent or aggression. Michailidis starting to try and egg Bhullar on with taunts but not much really landing from either fighter. A few more flurrys from Michailidis that don’t really land too clean while Bhullar is throwing nothing back to make him think about it. Another low blow from Bhullar causes a pause in the fight as we enter the final minute but it’s Michailidis who is showing more intent to get a finish. 30-27 Michailidis in a less than memorable fight.

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee def Sam Hughes via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight for Lookboonmee as she lands a few kicks from range and a couple of nice right hands. Hughes looks to close the distance to look for a takedown but Lookboonmee defends it well and unleashes some huge knees in the clinch before tripping her and dumping her to the mat. Lookboonmee works top position well and lands some big elbows on the ground before getting back up and allowing Hughes back to her feet. Hughes goes for the takedown again but Lookboonmee defends it really well again and is able to reverse the position and take her down again, landing some more elbows on the ground before letting Hughes up again. Hughes lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a good right hand as Lookboonmee looks to counter but just misses. Hughes closes the distance and goes for a takedown again but Lookboonmee defends well against the cage and sees the round out in top position as she falls onto Hughes.. 10-9 Lookboonmee.

Hughes comes out aggressive in the second round and goes straight for a takedown, but Lookboonmee defends well and goes for a couple of trips of her own. Hughes relentless though and finally gets her down as Lookboonmee looks to defend with a guillotine. Hughes defends and gets a body lock to try and drain her against the cage, but Lookboonmee finally gets back up, breaks the lock and separates. Hughes lands a couple of nice right hands clean but Lookboonmee comes forward with kicks again. They clinch up again and battle for position with Lookboonmee landing some big knees to the body while angling away from Hughes. Hughes goes for a single leg takedown but Lookboonmee defends it really well and then lands a big knee again. Hughes switching from single leg to double leg constantly but Lookboonmee defending brilliantly and keeps the fight standing, then ends the round on top as they clinch at the end and she falls on Hughes once again. 20-18 for me.

Tentative start to the final round as Hughes looks to keep it standing early on, landing some nice early strikes that are making Lookboonmee a bit uncomfortable. She goes for a Thai clinch but Hughes defends it well and pushes her against the cage looking for a takedown once again. Lookboonmee defends it well once again with more knees and then they separate, as both women exchange a big right hand each. The women clinch up again against the cage and exchange knees before the separate and Hughes lands a big right hand. Lookboonmee fires back with some push kicks to the body as we enter the final minute of the fight. Hughes clinches up again and the fight comes to an end with the two women against the cage. 29-28 Lookboonmee for me.

Luana Carolina def Poliana Botelho via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to the fight as Botelho comes out a bit more aggressive, throwing some nice body kicks and leg kicks while also leading with her jab. Carolina struggling to get anything going just yet, trying to reply to kicks and a jab of her own but looking very nervous and backing up. Botelho steps forward with a four-hit combo that doesn’t land clean but then she clinches up and gets a takedown into Carolina’s guard. Botelho using great shoulder pressure to control Carolina’s posture on the ground and working to pass into mount which she does after a few big strikes to the head. 30 seconds left in the round and she looks to transition to an armbar but Carolina survives and the round ends. 10-9, could even argue a 10-8 for Botelho.

Better start to this round from Carolina as she comes out more aggressive and goes straight for a clinch after a head kick attempt. She uses strength to hold Botelho in position and starts throwing some nice knees to the body that sees Botelho looking a bit uncomfortable. Botelho looks to switch position and goes for a trip but Carolina defends it excellently and ends up in a dominant position of her own on the ground. She goes for a submission but Botelho gets back to the feet well and the rest of the round plays out against the cage in a clinch position with both women exchanging knees to the body. 19-19.

Slower third round as both women look to exchange body shots and kicks but Carolina being a bit more aggressive so far. Nice flurry from Botelho but Carolina replies with a kick and Botelho goes for a takedown. A scramble on the ground sees Carolina end up on top in the closed guard of Botelho and after a bit of a stalemate she works her way to Botelho’s back. Carolina starts working for a rear-naked choke but Botelho defending well against the cage and both women trade shots on the ground as the round comes to an end. Carolina’s round, 29-28 Carolina for me but could be a draw if the first round was a 10-8.

TJ Brown def Kai Kamaka III via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 27-30)

Fun start early on as Brown comes forward and lands good jobs and front kicks before Kamaka responds with a flush right hand to the chin. Brown keeps coming though, moving a lot and looking to mix it up but Kamaka is investing in his calf kicks well. Both men throw body kicks at the same time before Brown lands a good one-two in response that sends Kamaka backwards. Kamaka lands a punch as Brown goes for a kick and knocks him off balance, but Brown very active off his back to not allow any sort of advantage to be gained before he works back up to his feet quickly. Kamaka fires off another nice low kick but Brown is still coming forward and after a few more exchanges the round ends. Could go either way but I edge 10-9 to Brown.

Much faster start to this round as Kamaka lands a nice shot that sends Brown backwards early. Brown just flowing with the strikes but Kamaka landing some nice combinations and throws a huge head kick that lands flush! Brown keeps coming forward and lands a big right hand that rocks Kamaka! He starts looking for the finish but Kamaka is still there and then Kamaka lands a huge strike that drops Brown! Kamaka goes for the ground and pound finish but Brown surviving and then he gets a kimura synched up! Kamaka survives it but they get back to the feet and the round ends with Brown on top after a successful shot. 19-19 for me, great fight.

Final round and both men come out with a sense of urgency. Brown shoots in for a takedown early but Kamaka stuffs it and manages to reverse it to get into top position. Kamaka trying to push Brown against the cage to control the position but Brown fighting to get back up to the feet and eventually does. Nice combinations from Brown land and Kamaka blocks a body kick before he pushes him down to the mat once again and looks to move into full mount, but Brown denies it. Brown eventually gets back to the feet again and throws a big right hand that drops Kamaka. He goes for an ankle lock finish but gives up position, then goes for a kimura again but the round ends. 29-28 Kamaka, great fight.

Luana Pinheiro def Randa Markos via Disqualification (Illegal kick), Round 1 (4:16)

Brilliant start to this fight from Pinheiro as Markos rushes forward with a flurry of strikes but gets caught with a huge right hook counter. Markos goes to clinch but Pinheiro dumps her on her head with a beautiful judo throw and then starts raining down some heavy ground and pound. She manages to judo throw Markos several times and strike hard and Markos looks rattled. Accidental eye poke causes a stop in the fight as Markos needs to recover and blinks out the issue. Fight resumes and Markos comes out with heavy and hard but Pinheiro countering brilliantly again and then throws Markos down on her head yet again. They separate before another clinch and Pinheiro goes for another judo throw and ends up on top again! Markos tries to kick Pinheiro off and upkicks her in the face while she’s down. Pinheiro flops to the floor and is struggling and the doctor waves this one off. Disqualification incoming.

MAIN CARD

Merab Dvalishvili def Cody Stamann via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to this fight between two predominant wrestlers, with Stamann taking the centre but Merab doing well to move on the outside and lands a beautiful left uppercut. A few more strikes from Merab before he catches a kick and takes the fight to the ground for the first time. Stamann eats a few punches but gets back up, then goes for a few takedowns of his own but they get stuffed. Merab is landing some great right hands, but Stamann sticks a stiff jab that wobbles Merab. Merab goes for a single leg and gets it but Stamann pops right back up every time as the round ends in a stalemate. 10-9 Merab but could argue it went Stamann’s way too.

Fast start for Stamann to round two as he comes out with a deep double leg takedown early and gets it against the cage. Merab relentless from the bottom though with elbows and punches before working his way back up and rushing Stamann to get a takedown of his own. Merab holds him down for a few seconds before they stand back up and Stamann goes back to work with his jab. Merab changes levels and gets another takedown and looks to sink in a guillotine, but Stamann pops his head out and they work back to the feet again. Merab’s pace starting to wear on Stamann a bit as he keeps marching forward, landing combinations and shooting for takedowns as he lifts Stamann this time and slams him down. Stamann trying to keep Merab with his back to the cage but Merab steps forward, clinches and judo throws Stamann to the mat but a scramble sees him end the round under him. 20-18 Merab.

Competitive opening to the final round as Stamann takes the centre again looking to land jabs to set up a haymaker, but Merab staying light on his feet and moving in and out with strikes. Stamann looks for a big right hand that misses wildly and Merab continues to push forward and land little flurries, always touching Stamann. Merab shoots for a single leg but Stamann reverses the attempt and ends up on top with a little more than a minute to go. Merab battles up to his feet and goes for a takedown of his own but Stamann scrambles as they end up in a stalemate on the ground. They get back and swing for the final few seconds but should be a win for Merab, 30-27.

Sean Strickland def Krzysztof Jotko via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Nice left hand from Jotko to open up the fight as Strickland takes the centre and looks incredibly calm as he steps forward. Jotko more lively, bouncing on his toes and throwing a couple of kicks too, then lands another nice left hand. Strickland coming forward again with intent now and lands a stiff jab down the middle, then a right cross that wobbles Jotko. Strickland lands a nice left hand and uppercut and Jotko is hurt, so Strickland goes in for the kill and Jotko shoots for a takedown. Strickland denies it but Jotko moving his head well and recovers without taking more damage. Jotko lands a reverse elbow Yair style right on the chin but Strickland eats it and continues to come forward. Strickland throws a flying knee that just misses but lands a nice right hand before he lands and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Strickland.

Strickland comes out very controlled in the second round and he starts landing the jab well. Jotko still circling on the outside and Strickland is starting to cut him off now as per the advice of his corner, but eats a big left hand as he does so. Strickland with a stiff jab again and then a nice body kick. Jotko goes for a spin kick and misses but it allows Strickland to move and launch a big power strike that whistles past the chin of Jotko. Jotko slowing down now as Strickland marches him down, then eats another stiff jab. Strickland catches a kick and goes for a big right overhand but Jotko avoids it and fires back with one of his own. Strickland’s calf kicks starting to have an effect as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Strickland.

Jotko becoming very predictable looking for the big left hand as Strickland just in cruise control in this fight at the moment. Flying knee attempt from Strickland misses and Jotko goes for a big right hand that doesn’t come anywhere near landing. Stiff straight right hand from Strickland lands but Jotko trying to come forward more now as we hit the halfway point of the round. Strickland takes back control of the centre now, landing a big front kick to the body and then another low kick. Strickland goes for a body kick and then follows up with a big right hand before a flying knee lands too. Bit of a wild exchange as the fight comes to an end, but it’s a comfortable 30-27 for Strickland here.

Ion Cutelaba vs Dustin Jacoby – Split Draw – (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)

Nice start to the fight from Jacoby as he uses his length well to land some nice jabs and two heavy leg kicks too. Cutelaba sticks a jab and misses with a hammer of a right hand, before landing two big right hands and shooting for a takedown. Cutelaba locks his arms around the body and starts dragging Jacoby to the ground over and over again while landing some big ground and pound strikes too. Cutelaba starts landing some huge short ebows to the head and Jacoby is getting pieced up and just about surviving as Cutelaba drags him down again and continues pounding him out. Cutelaba goes for a judo throw but Jacoby grabs the cage to prevent it and the referee warns him but does nothing else as the round ends. 10-8 Cutelaba.

Jacoby opens the round with a body kick attempt and immediately gets taken down by Cutelaba. He lands a nice knee and right hand as they break, but Jacoby comes forward with his jab now. Cutelaba goes for another takedown but Jacoby stuffs it this time and Cutelaba is slowing down already. Another attempt denied by Jacoby as he lands a nice uppercut, but Cutelaba keeps going despite him clearly being tired now. Jacoby doing so well to land at range and Cutelaba isn’t even shooting anymore. Jacoby lands a big right hand and Cutelaba is rocked! Cutelaba shoots but it’s denied and the round ends. 19-18 Cutelaba going into the third.

Good start again from Jacoby in this final round as he opens with a leg kick and then lands a heavy body kick. Cutelaba standing and trading in the centre, nice jabs and uppercuts while Jacoby trying to evade and counter. Nice left hook from Jacoby as Cutelaba threw a jab and then Jacoby lands a huge right hand again. Cutelaba is still there throwing bombs though, but Jacoby staying behind his jab and landing. Cutelaba goes for a huge elbow that just misses and both men land a nice left hook, before a double jab-cross combo from Cutelaba lands on the chin. Jacoby goes for a knee and Cutelaba catches it and goes for the takedown but Jacoby defends well and reverses the position to put Cutelaba against the cage. Final minute and Jacoby goes for a single leg but Cutelaba avoids it then throws a nice right hook as they clinch up again. Jacoby gets a takedown right at the end to finish up on top, this could be a draw. 28-28.

Giga Chikadze def Cub Swanson via Knockout, Round 1 (1:03)

Chikadze opens up early with some kicks to the body and a straight right, while Swanson tries to jump in and close the distance. Chikadze throws his trademark left kick to the body and Swanson is down! Chikadze hits some ground and pound as Swanson curls up and this one is over! First round knockout for Chikadze! Wow!

Jiri Prochazka def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)

Both men looking to claim the centre of the octagon as this one starts with a heavy low kick from Reyes and a body kick from Prochazka. Prochazka keeping his hands low and bouncing around as usual, with Reyes more traditional with his hands high looking for his straight left hand. Prochazka just misses with a three hit combination and Reyes lands a nice left hand down the middle. Prochazka responds with a big right hand of his own that wobbles Reyes and sends him backwards. Reyes shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Prochazka is able to just power out and get back to his feet. Prochazka continues to just come forward and Reyes is landing straight punches but he’s just walking through them. Big combination lands from Prochazka and Reyes is hurt! Prochazka going for the kill but Reyes continues to circle and fire back. Prochazka lands a flurry of strikes again but Reyes sees out the round. 10-9 Prochazka.

Second round and Reyes taking a more measured approach, keeping his distance and looking to land counter strikes as Prochazka comes forward. Prochazka applying so much pressure and Reyes is just not wilting, firing back with huge strikes of his own. Prochazka chasing Reyes around the octagon with combinations and kicks to the body and Reyes’ face is absolutely battered and bloody. Reyes lands a nasty left that wobbles Prochazka and forces him to shoot for a takedown. The stand again and trade against the cage. Prochazka goes for an elbow and just misses, then spins and lands a huge spinning elbow that knocks Reyes unconscious! Oh my God! What a knockout!

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Main card predictions

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

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

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


Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) vs Cody Stamann (19-3-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A wrestler’s paradise in the bantamweight divsion as Merab looks to make it six wins in a row while Stamann looks to return to the win column. Merab beat Brad Katona and Casey Kenney before Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 2 and John Dodson at UFC 252 in his last four, all via unanimous decision as he secured the record for most takedowns in division history. Stamann beat Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 before getting well beaten by Jimmie Rivera on Fight Island 1 just a month later.

Both guys will without a doubt look for takedowns and top control, but the big difference between the two is that Merab’s gas tank is absolutely ridiculous and he marches his opponents down. Stamann is happy to use strikes to set his takedowns up and it seems unlikely that will work in this fight. Merab is so physically strong and literally doesn’t stop for the entire 15 minutes.

Work as usual for Merab in this one as he overpowers Stamann and gets the fight to the ground and works ground and pound for another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision

Sean Strickland (22-3) vs Krzysztof Jotko (22-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A contender for fight of the night in the middleweight division as these two powerhouses go toe to toe. Strickland came back from a two-year lay-off to beat Jack Marshmann at UFC Vegas 12 before knocking out Brendan Allen just two weeks later at UFC Vegas 14. Jotko has won three in a row too, beating Eryk Anders last time out in May 2020 by unanimous decision.

Both guys are really fun strikers to watch, which should make this a great fight. Strickland is a really good boxer with good knockout power and great combinations, while his volume and gas tank make him a nightmare for everyone in the division. Jotko is a clean, technical striker himself but he doesn’t have that power to go with it although his kicks are better than Strickland’s.

While both guys are strikers, Strickland’s striking style should really suffocate Jotko’s counter heavy style and while I don’t think he gets the finish I do think he gets a comfortable decision.
PICK – Sean Strickland via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6) vs Dustin Jacoby (14-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An absolute barn burner coming up in the light heavyweight division as two very heavy-hitting 205lbers go head-to-head. Cutelaba suffered back-to-back defeats to Magomed Ankalaev, the first rather controversially before a decisive ending to their fight at UFC 254. Jacoby is on a four-fight win streak, including 2-0 in the UFC with a knockout over Justin Ledet at UFC Vegas 12 before a controversial decision win over Maxim Grishin at UFC Vegas 20 in February this year.

Cutelaba has never had a boring fight in his life, as he walks forward with heavy hands looking to take someone’s head off but he also has good grappling skills too. Jacoby is a skilled kickboxer with good power and a much more measured approach but his grappling game isn’t the best.

Cutelaba will use his physicality and overwhelm Jacoby early on and he hits hard enough to potentially get a finish in the first five too.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1

Giga Chikadze (12-2) vs Cub Swanson (27-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A really, really good fight in the featherweight division as Giga Chikadze gets his shot at a ranked opponent when he takes on Cub Swanson in the co-main event. Chikadze has won seven-in-a-row building up to this fight, including a decision win over Omar Morales and a knockout win over short-notice fighter Jamey Simmons at UFC Vegas 13. Swanson has won his last two, defeating Kron Gracie by decision before knocking out Daniel Pineda at UFC 256 in a highly impressive performance.

Chikadze is a brilliant kickboxer with brilliant kicks and cross punches, but his volume is always a bit on the low side for what it should be for a man of his talent. Swanson is a talented striker with great boxing skills, but he’s also an elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Chikadze will likely take note from the Pineda fight and fire a lot of leg kicks Swanson’s way, while also using his great speed to get in and out. That said, Swanson will never let him rest. He will push the pace, come forward and look to eventually get the fight down to the ground if he can.

Swanson is a really good fighter and has surprised me in the past, but I think Chikadze should be able to use his kicks well and stay at range enough to outland him and get the decision win in a really entertaining fight.
PICK – Giga Chikadze via Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-2) vs Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A huge scrap at the top of the card as Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon to take on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division. Reyes was unbeaten before losing controversially to Jon Jones in February 2020, before being knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 in a fight for the vacant title. Prochazka on the other hand is a hugely underrated fighter coming into this fight on an 11-fight win streak with ten of those by knockout, including his UFC debut against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251.

Reyes is a specimen of an athlete who has tremendous boxing skills and a lethal left hand, while he also has some good leg kicks and a nice body kick too. Prochazka is a wildly unorthodox striker who often walks his opponent down his hands down, but 24 knockouts in 27 career victories tells you just how hard he hits. Reyes’s skillset is fairly limited and Blachowicz showed in his last fight just how to shut him down completely.

Prochazka is just ridiculously powerful and his head movement is great. His aggression could land him in trouble if Reyes lands that straight left, but Prochazka will almost certainly be prepared for it and after being knocked out violently last time out I think Reyes goes to sleep again.
PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Joel Alvarez def Alexander Yavkolev via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:00)

Fight starts with Alvarez throwing lots of leg kicks to stop Yavkolev’s forward motion. Yavkolev finds a moment to change levels and shoot for a takedown and falls straight into a guillotine. Alvarez squeezing tight but Yakvolev not panicking and eventually pops his head out into full guard. He starts with ground and pound, targeting the body but Alvarez attacking from the bottom with elbows to the head. Yavkolev not looking to pass and Alvarez throws up an armbar out of nowhere. Yavkolev tries to fight it but Alvarez is too good and secures the tap. Huge win for the Spaniard.

Miranda Maverick def Liana Jojua via Knockout, Round 1 (5:00)

A good start to the fight for both fighters as they start throwing early. Jojua counters Maverick’s attempted entries with solid right hands to the jaw. Maverick adapts the entry and starts landing a lot of power shots with the southpaw stance. Jojua is coming forward again now but Maverick throws a huge slicing elbow with her left arm and cuts Jojua open bad. She keeps throwing power shots and busts Jojua up bad as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Maverick.

Between rounds the referee has checked in on Jojua and deemed that she in unable to continue fighting due to the cut! It’s all over! Huge win for Miranda Maverick!

PRELIMS

Da Un Jung vs Sam Alvey – SPLIT DRAW (29-28 Alvey, 29-28 Jung, 28-28)

Slow start to this fight as Jung rushes to the centre to start but Alvey stays against the cage. Jung throwing lots of kicks and Alvey looking to counter with a big right hook but hitting air for the most part. Jung pressuring Alvey against the cage and throwing combinations down the middle, but Alvey throws a big left counter hook that wobbles Jung! Jung clinches up and recovers then breaks with a big elbow. Looks like an accidental eye poke by Jung but the referee doesn’t see it and Jung lands a big combo straight to the chin of Alvey. 10-9 Alvey but it’s a close round.

Another good round that follows the pattern of the first. Jung keeping Alvey pressed against the cage and firing off shots but Alvey is replying with heavy shots of his own. Alvey throwing nice leg kicks too to try and slow down the movement. Jung not throwing enough shots to trouble him and the fight is getting away from him at the moment. 20-18 Alvey.

What a start to the round! The two come together much like in previous rounds but then as Alvey moves in to throw, Jung lands a huge right elbow that drops him! He lands a big shot on the ground too on the follow up but Alvey gets back to his feet. Jung takes his back and throws some big shots but Alvey breaks and then lands a big uppercut of his own. Jung looks hurt as Alvey starts swinging, then Jung throws another massive elbow that connects again! Alvey is wobbling but the two fighters clinch up as Jung looks for a takedown. A minute to go, Jung is looking for a takedown to get a finish but Alvey defending well. Jung breaks from the clinch with another massive elbow and Alvey is battling to survive as the round comes to an end. 29-28 Alvey for me but a great fight.

Shavkat Rakhmonov def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (4:40)

Competitive start to the round as ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira comes out and lands a big right hand right off the bat. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and jabs before Rakhmonov lands a big body shot with the knee that backs Oliviera up. A barrage of strikes and knees look like they’re hurting Oliveira but then ‘Cowboy’ throws a massive check-left hook which forces a clinch. The remainder of the round looks like it will play out against the cage but out of nowhere Rakhmonov grabs the neck and sinks in a guillotine to force the tap out! Huge debut win for Rakhmonov!

Casey Kenney def Nathaniel Wood via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

A very fast paced start to the round as both men look to establish some dominance early on. Wood throwing lots of leg kicks and jabs while Kenney is replying with a mixture of kicks and big hooks. Both guys trading fast shots and slipping out of the way too, but Kenney is landing the bigger shots as this round goes on. Kenney is landing bombs with his left hand but Wood showing he has a chin as we enter the final minute of the round. Super fun round, Kenney edges it. 10-9.

Second round and Kenney comes out more aggressive and looks a bit fresher, landing more shots as he comes forward once again. Wood is throwing more leg kicks and that is troubling Kenney’s movement, but he is still landing his left hand often. Kenney is now looking more tired than Wood, who continues to throw kicks and follow them up with a jab, left hook. Kenney starting to try and work the body, but Wood is taking it well and throwing leg kicks still. Kenney goes for a takedown but Wood defends very easily before Kenney lands a huge left hand that snaps his head back! Kenney clinches and throws a knee but Wood breaks away and lands a nice one-two. Kenney is tiring but still landing the left hand. 19-19 for me going into the final round.

Final round and Wood comes out fresher, throwing leg kicks once again. Kenney is throwing a right jab, left straight combo that is landing flush but Wood is doing well to counter with his own right hand and more leg kicks. Kenney changes levels and shoots for a takedown and ends up against the cage taking Wood’s back. Wood defending well to try not to end up on the ground but Kenney is winning this round simply through position. Wood tries to explode out but Kenney holds on, and they end up back in the same position. Wood defends brilliantly and they break with a little over 90 seconds to go. Wood throws a big elbow on the break and follows it up with a barrage of punches, but Kenney clinches and trips Wood to no avail. Another takedown attempt but Wood sprawls out and avoids superbly, then fires in another kick. Big right hand by Wood followed by a left hook stumbles Casey and the round ends with the two slugging it out. What a fight. 29-28 Wood for me.

Tai Tuivasa def Stefan Struve via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Slow start to this one as Tuivasa looks to get close enough to land his heavy shots but Struve tries to keep the distance. Tuivasa moves in and Struve clinches up and uses those long limbs to control posture, as Tuivasa starts blasting body shots and trying to break away. Tuivasa does break away and then lands a nice short elbow on the break that wobbles Struve but he stays standing. Lots of leg kicks from Tuivasa now too have Struve shaking on his feet. Struve tries to clinch again but Tuivasa throws him to the ground and starts throwing bombs! He drops Struve and then throws more shots and the referee waves it off with a second to go! What a win Tai Tuivasa!

MAIN CARD

Magomed Ankalaev def Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1 (4:19)

Much slower start to this fight than their original bout, as time elapses past the previous duration with barely a strike thrown. Ankalaev having the better of all the striking exchanges in this round as he throws a straight left beautifully down the pipe but Cutelaba is stepping forward well, although he’s following Ankalaev instead of cutting him off. Cutelaba tries to spin but Ankalaev throws a straight left that drops him but he recovers. Cutelaba throws a big strike that Ankalaev counters with a right hook, left straight that knocks Cutelaba down! He follows up with huge ground and pound and knocks Cutelaba unconscious! What a knockout!

Lauren Murphy def Liliya Shakirova via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

A competitive opening round as Murphy takes the centre of the octagon and forces Shakirova against the cage. The entire round is spent circling the cage with Shakirova too far away to land any strikes, so Murphy is reading everything and landing plenty. Shakirova shoots for a takedown and gets it but Murphy gets straight back to her feet and the pattern continues. Shakirova shoots in again but Murphy fights it really well and lands some nice elbows against the cage that forces Shakirova to break away and abandon the attempt. Slow round but interesting. 10-9 Murphy for me.

A slightly quicker start as Murphy steps forward more aggressively with combinations. Shakirova still moving and bouncing around avoiding big damage but not really throwing anything herself. A clinch against the cage allows Murphy to show her physical advantage and she gets the takedown and ends up in guard, throwing elbows. Shakirova attempts to hip escape but Murphy transitions to the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke. It’s tight and Shakirova fights it but it’s too much and she taps out. Big, impressive win for Lauren Murphy!

Phil Hawes def Jacob Malkoun via Knockout, Round 1 (0:18)

Hawes comes across the octagon, backs Malkoun up against the cage and throws a HUGE right hand that drops Malkoun. Two follow up right hands knock Malkoun unconscious and that’s the end of that. Goodnight.

Alexander Volkov def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 2 (1:15)

A fun first round between these two heavyweights as Harris starts well, using his speed advantage. Lots of jabs and inside leg kicks but Volkov backs up and uses his range well to counter. Nice right hand from Harris is met with a low left kick by Volkov that stumbles him. Volkov throws a short right-hand followed by a left that stumbles Harris and hurts him! Volkov marches to the cage and starts throwing to finish. Harris covers up then throws two big looping hooks to defend himself as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Volkov.

Harris starts the second round with a fake takedown attempt and when Volkov defends he goes up top with a big punch. Volkov steps forward again and throws some more punches that force Harris to cover up. Front kick to the body by Volkov brings a shout of pain from Harris and Volkov moves in with the big follow up punches for the end of the fight! Big win for Volkov!

Robert Whittaker def Jared Cannonier via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fight starts with a massive leg kick from Cannonier that shakes Whittaker immediately. Whittaker bouncing in and out now but every time he throws a jab Cannonier launches the leg attack. A second kick drops Whittaker but he bounces back up immediately. Whittaker’s leg is bruising already but it is Whittaker landing more with the hands. Big counter striker from Whittaker lands and wobbles Cannonier but he comes back well. Very tentative end to the round with both men respecting the striking technique of the other. Head kick by Whittaker lands but Cannonier walks through it and the round ends. 10-9 Whittaker.

A tense round once again as Cannonier continues to attack the lead leg and Whittaker throwing jabs to score points. Whittaker throws a nice right overhand that connects and then goes back to his jab. The jab is landing enough to cause a good amount of swelling around Cannonier’s right eye. Cannonier throws another leg kick but so far it’s not effecting Whittaker’s movement much. First clinch of the fight and Whittaker secures a trip and takedown but Cannonier uses the cage to bounce immediately and escape. Straight right from Whittaker down the middle lands flush as the second round comes to an end. 20-18 Whittaker.

Final round and once again Whittaker using his jab to control the distance. Nice one-two lands nicely by Whittaker as Cannonier misses with a wild right hand. Whittaker lands a one-two and follows it with a head-kick that drops Cannonier! Whittaker charges across the octagon looking for the finish and lands huge ground and pound but Cannonier survives. Whittaker moves into full guard on the ground but Cannonier explodes out and gets back to the feet. Final 30 seconds and Cannonier lands a big jab that wobbles Whittaker! He goes for the finish but Whittaker has enough about him to change levels and clinch until the buzzer. 30-27 Whittaker, what a performance!

Khabib Nurmagomedov def Justin Gaethje via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 2 (1:34)

Super first round for the champion Khabib. The fight started slowly with both fighters feeling each other out but then Khabib turned it up a level and started stalking him around the cage. Gaethje’s leg kicks causing plenty of damage but Khabib walking through them and landing his jab. Flying knee lands for Khabib too. Gaethje lands a big left hook but Khabib eats it and keeps moving. Big takedown landed by Khabib as we enter the final minute and he passes into full mount very quickly. He attempts to transition into an armbar but time goes out on him. 10-9 Khabib.

Second round starts and Gaethje lands a big leg kick that looks like it hurts Khabib again. He continues to march forwards though and lands one-twos and jabs. A double leg attempt sees him end up on the back of Gaethje and then he instantly transitions into full mount. Khabib locks in a triangle choke from mount, falls back and forces the tap out from Justin Gaethje who goes unconscious. What a performance. What a fighter. 29-0.

UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje – Main Card Predictions

After a month-long stay on UFC Fight Island, the grand finale is upon us as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends his UFC lightweight championship against interim champion Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.

A stacked card, with a six-fight main card, has been put together for the fans’ viewing pleasure and should be one of the best events we’ve seen since the pandemic started back in March.

With 12 fights scheduled to take place, I will break down each fight and give my prediction as to the winner, method of victory and round while giving my analysis on both fighters too.

Last weekend I got a very respectable 8/11 correct predictions with three perfect picks, so lets see if I can better that on this 12 fight card. I’ve already predicted the prelims, which you can check out here.

MAIN CARD

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs Ion Cutelaba (15-5 1NC) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

This fight has been booked three times before UFC 254 during the pandemic and fallen through every time. My prediction remains the same though. The first time these two fought each other was one of the strangest fights in UFC history. Cutelaba came out super aggressive and nearly came to blows in the octagon with Ankalaev before the fight even started, before employing a “drunken master” strategy where he acted hurt when getting hit to egg Ankalaev on. It backfired though when the referee stepped in insanely early and handed Ankalaev a TKO win. Realistically, Ankalaev is the better fighter. Both are strong wrestlers with powerful strikes but the Russian mixes his strikes up better with kicks too and his defence is much better. Cutelaba’s best chance is to hang in there until Ankalaev gets tired, or he lands a big punch.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 1

Lauren Murphy (13-4) vs Liliya Shakirova (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

‘Lucky’ Lauren Murphy steps into the octagon on the back of a three fight win streak when she takes on short-notice step in Liliya Shakirova making her UFC debut. Shakirova has also won three in a row coming into this fight, with a knockout win in her last bout over a year ago. Murphy is one of the pioneers of women’s MMA and at 37 year old, she was due to take on Cynthia Calvillo in a title eliminator in the flyweight division. Calvillo is out but Murphy wants to fight and she should be able to win this pretty comfortably. Shakirova is no pushover. She throws great front kicks and spinning kicks and has good striking but she will have a reach disadvantage and Murphy is just so experienced and in arguably the best moment of her career that she should see this one through.
PICK – Lauren Murphy via Unanimous Decision

Phil Hawes (8-2) vs Jacob Malkoun (4-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

After a stunning debut victory on Dana White’s Contender Series, Phil Hawes re-enters the octagon just 6 weeks later to take on UFC debutant Jacob Malkoun. Malkoun is a grappler who trains with Robert Whittaker in Australia who is undefeated with two knockouts from four career wins. Hawes has won his last four in a row via first round stoppage and I’d be surprised if he didn’t make it five in this one. His leg kicks are fantastic and he has real one punch power and hand speed. Against someone as green as Malkoun who’s strengths lie elsewhere, it should be a short night.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 1

Alexander Volkov (31-8) vs Walt Harris (13-8 1NC) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The heavyweights make their mark on this card as two big men square off in this one. Volkov’s last fight saw him defeated by Curtis Blaydes in their main event back in June, while Walt Harris got dominated and knocked out in an emotionally charged performance against Alistair Overeem in May. Both men are power strikers with genuine knockout power, but Volkov for me is comfortably the more well rounded mixed martial artist. All of Harris’ wins have come by knockout, with 11 of them coming in the first round. If Volkov can withstand the initial burst that Harris will come out with, I expect that he will control the fight using his length and clinch to come away with a convincing decision win.
PICK – Alexander Volkov via Unanimous Decision

Robert Whittaker (21-5) vs Jared Cannonier (13-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

I’ve kind of gone over this fight already earlier this week, when I explained why I’m all in on Robert Whittaker to beat Jared Cannonier, but I’ll do it again here in a snappier way. Whittaker is one of the best middleweights of all-time and despite his chin showing him up on occasion in recent fights, he’s lost just once in his last 12 and that was to lose the title to Israel Adesanya. His level of technical kickboxing is among the best ever in the UFC and his leg kicks and explosiveness have seen him beat some of the best the company has to offer, including Darren Till last time out. Cannonier is on a streak right now that has seen him win three in a row all by knockout and he absolutely has the power to put Whittaker away. He has to hit him cleanly first though and while Whittaker has been dropped in each of his last four fights, only Adesanya was able to finish him. He is durable, explosive, fast and powerful himself. Cannonier, for me, is a wrecking machine but when it comes to technical aspects he is a level below ‘The Reaper’ and should the Aussie mix in his takedowns too he should win this fight pretty comfortably. Cannonier absolutely has the knockout power but Whittaker avoids it for the most part and takes a one-sided decision win.
PICK – Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision

Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) vs Justin Gaethje (22-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The biggest fight of 2020 by a country mile as the undisputed lightweight champion takes on the interim lightweight champion looking to unify the belts once again. Khabib Nurmagomedov is 28-0 having destroyed the entire lightweight division. He has arguably never lost a round in his UFC career and has started to search for finishes even more aggressively than he used to. Gaethje is a tank who has powered through the UFC since entering as an undefeated fighter. He dismantled Michael Johnson in his debut before incredible performances against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier ended in knockout defeats. He bounced back from that with first round knockout wins over Edson Barboza, James Vick and Donald Cerrone before destroying the divisions boogeyman Tony Ferguson over five rounds for a TKO win. While he’s never shown it in his MMA career, Gaethje is a world class wrestler and will be the toughest challenge Khabib has ever faced in the cage. Khabib has almost been over-looking Gaethje during the build-up to this bout, constantly talking up a potential bout with Georges St-Pierre to move to 30-0. Despite that, it’s so hard to bet against him. He’s so dominant, so good and so consistent. He only needs one takedown per round to keep the fight there because his top control is so good and I can’t see how anyone stops him getting it. I think Khabib does exactly what he said he would; takes him down, tires him out chokes him out in the later rounds.
PICK – Khabib Nurmagomedov via Submission, Round 4

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Main Card Predictions

A three round main event on top of a decent looking card is what the UFC have put together for the fans this weekend, as they return for yet another Fight Night card at the APEX in Las Vegas.

Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith takes on prospect Aleksandar Rakic in the light-heavyweight division, with all eyes on the top of the division following Jon Jones vacating the belt for a move up to heavyweight.

With 11 fights on the night including a stacked main card considering it’s a Fight Night event, i’ll break down the card and pick my winners for each fight. Last weekend’s card chopped and changed so much between the predictions being written up and the card happening (Thurs-Sat) that we didn’t keep track of the picks. Hopefully no such thing will happen here.

I picked the prelims already, which you can see here.

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs Ion Cutelaba (15-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The first time these two fought each other was one of the strangest fights in UFC history. Cutelaba came out super aggressive and nearly came to blows in the octagon with Ankalaev before the fight even started, before employing a “drunken master” strategy where he acted hurt when getting hit to egg Ankalaev on. It backfired though when the referee stepped in insanely early and handed Ankalaev a TKO win. The fight has been rescheduled three times since but fallen apart due to COVID-19 but is now finally set to happen. Realistically, Ankalaev is the better fighter. Both are strong wrestlers with powerful strikes but the Russian mixes his strikes up better with kicks too and his defence is much better. Cutelaba’s best chance is to hang in there until Ankalaev gets tired, or he lands a big punch.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Lamas (19-8) vs Bill Algeo (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The legend that is Ricardo Lamas was supposed to take on Uriah Hall this week but with that falling apart, it’s UFC debutant Algeo who he’ll come up against instead. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who’s sole aim in every fight is to get the fight to the ground, take his opponents back and strangle them. Lamas is a veteran who knows how to cope against all types of threats, but is on a 1-3 streak currently. He is a range fighter on the feet but if the fight goes to the ground Lamas has some of the best ground and pound in the game. I think it’s likely that this fight ends up with Lamas in top control landing shots with Algeo looking for a sweep and submission. Without a full camp though, ‘The Bully’ should be able to dominate his way to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

Alexa Grasso (11-3) vs Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting bout here between a former strawweight and a former bantamweight. Alexa Grasso is a fantastic boxer who has spent her entire career at 115lbs up to now. She’s struggled in the past against wrestlers and grapplers, but won’t have to worry about that against the bigger opponent in Kim. Both women are strikers first but with Grasso being at her more natural weight class for this fight, I expect her to be able to be quicker and with the more naturally heavy hands she should land the bigger shots throughout. The size discrepancy could potentially be a problem but Kim is likely to suffer in the cardio battle too, so Grasso should be able to get back in the win column.
PICK – Alex Grasso via Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler (28-14) vs Neil Magny (23-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The fight of the night in the co-main event of the night. Robbie Lawler steps in on short-notice to take on Neil Magny after Geoff Neal dropped out injured. Lawler is known for his violent style, in which he steps forward and goes for the kill at all times. He’s not fought since he was dismantled by Colby Covington just over a year ago. Magny is a rangy striker who has won his last two fights against Anthony Rocco Martin and Jingliang Li via decision. He used his footwork well and his karate style to counter strike and avoid any problems. Magny will have a 6 inch reach advantage and therefore will be able to implement his favoured style well, which has me leaning in his favour. Lawler has incredible power and wrestling skills though, so it’s not a sure-fire pick but I’ll go with my head and pick Magny via decision.
PICK – Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Anthony Smith (33-15) vs Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A firework in the light heavyweight division as former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith takes on top prospect ‘Rocket’ in a fight that could determine who the first challenger to the soon-to-be-crowned new champion is. Smith went on a tear through the division beating legends Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans then Volkan Oezdemir before losing his title shot to Jon Jones. He bounced back from that by submitting Alexander Gustafsson in Stockholm but was then dismantled by Glover Teixiera in May. Rakic was on a 12 fight win streak including a violent first-round head-kick knockout of Jimi Manuwa before he was beaten by Oezdemir back in December. Both men are violent strikers with one punch power, but Smith is a talented grappler too which often gets overlooked. This main event is just three rounds, so cardio shouldn’t come into the equation so it’s all about who can land the bigger shots to catch the eye of the judges. It’s unlikely to get to the ground but just in case it does, I’m going with Smith to shut down the prospect and keep himself in the top of the division.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Split Decision