Tag Archives: Istela Nunes

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims section of the card.


Yazmin Jauregui (9-0) vs Istela Nunes (6-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight banger opens up the card in this one. Jauregui is an undefeated fighter, who won her UFC debut last time out back in August with a decision win over Iasmin Lucindo, while Nunes has lost three of her last four including her two UFC outings against Ariane Carnelossi and Sam Hughes.

Jauregui is a powerful striker with good wrestling in her back pocket and a fantastic set of lungs to make her a threat throughout 15 minutes. Nunes on the other hand is also a powerful striker, with great counters and skill but she has a habit of leaving herself open for counters and running out of steam as the fight goes on. That’s a problem against someone as dangerous and well-rounded as Jauregui.

Expect the Mexican to stand and trade early to see how she feels in the fight, but quickly switch to her wrestling if she gets caught. As the fight goes on she’ll be able to land more and take over in more dominant fashion, and I expect she’ll be the one to claim the decision win.
PICK – Yazmin Jauregui via Decision

Marcelo Rojo (16-9) vs Francis Marshall (6-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very exciting featherweight clash up next. Rojo has lost his two UFC outings after being stopped by Charles Jourdain at UFC Vegas 21 before suffering a submission loss to Kyler Phillips at UFC 271, but has proven to be exciting and capable of performing at this level thus far. Marshall makes his UFC debut having earned a contract on the Contender Series back in August.

Rojo is a very exciting striker with great power and tremendous cardio, allowing him to push forward and use his length well against all opposition. Marshall on the other hand is a wrestler with an excellent ground game, looking for submissions once he gets the fight to the mat. He’s also beginning to develop a decent stand up game too as he continues to improve. Rojo is a big threat, but his weakness is Marshall’s strength.

Marshall will wrestle, there’s no doubt and that will almost certainly stop Rojo kicking away at his leg as he likes to do. That could force Rojo backwards which makes the takedown easier, but if Rojo is brave and throws those kicks hard and effectively, it will open up more strikes on the feet to the head. Marshall is super talented but this isn’t an easy debut, and I get the feeling Rojo finally gets his UFC win with a big knockout after landing a sharp one-two down the middle.
PICK – Marcelo Rojo via Knockout, Round 2



Natan Levy (7-1) vs Genaro Valdez (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Fun lightweight scrap between two relative UFC newcomers next. Levy is 1-1 in the octagon after losing to Rafa Garcia in his debut via decision, but claimed a win over Mike Breeden most recently back in April. Valdez earned a UFC contract on the Contender Series in October 2021, but lost his UFC debut in January when he got stopped by Matt Frevola at UFC 270.

Levy is a fantastic wrestler with a nasty leg kicking game to boot, and a great gas tank that allows him to drag opponents into the deep waters if necessary. Valdez alternatively is a straight up brawler, who comes into bouts looking to kill or be killed and that doesn’t bode well for him here.

Expect Levy to stay at range and use those leg kicks, before shooting for the takedowns and dominating on the mat with control and damage. He may even be successful in finding a finish after lots of wearing on Valdez, but it would come later in the fight if at all in my opinion.
PICK – Natan Levy via Decision

Tracy Cortez (10-1) vs Amanda Ribas (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight scrap next. Cortez is on a ten-fight win streak, including a 4-0 run in the UFC with decision wins over Vanessa Melo, Stephanie Egger, Justine Kish and most recently Melissa Gatto. Ribas is 2-2 in her last four, alternating wins and losses against Paige VanZant (UFC 251), Marina Rodriguez (UFC 257), Virna Jandiroba (UFC 267) and Katlyn Chookagian most recently.

Cortez is a strong wrestler with dominant positional gains and some okay striking to open up those opportunities and a decent submission game from the mat. Ribas on the other hand likes to strike on the feet with her clinch game being strong, but her defence is poor. Her jiu-jitsu on the mat is excellent though, as her four submission wins show. This is all about who can take control of the octagon and force the other fighter backwards.

That leans me towards Cortez, because she’s the better wrestler by far and the one with the better gas tank. Ribas may think she can catch an armbar from the bottom and instead of working to get up stay there, but Cortez is very good defensively and with a mix of decent strikes, lots of takedowns and decent damage on the mat, she should do enough to get the decision win.
PICK – Tracy Cortez via Decision

UFC Vegas 51: Luque v Muhammad – Early prelims predictions

A huge welterweight main event is the main attraction at UFC Vegas 51 this weekend as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad in a rematch from 2016.

The two top six 170-pounders will go head-to-head looking to extend their winning streaks here, knowing that title contention won’t be far behind.

Last week at UFC 273 we saw a great card that was lacking a little bit on finishes, but we still managed to go 8/12 with four perfect picks to go to 593/915 (64.81%) with 252 perfect picks (42.5%).

You can view our complete pick history here.

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


Alateng Heili (14-8-2) vs Kevin Croom (21-14) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight bout kicks off this card. Heili is winless in his last two, losing to Casey Kenney before a draw last time out against Gustavo Lopez, while Croom has lost his last two dropping decisions to Alex Caceres at UFC Vegas 20 and then Brian Kelleher most recently at UFC Vegas 46.

Heili has got a solid right hand but it’s his grappling skills that see him have the edge here, against the dogged Croom who uses his cardio as a weapon to pressurise his opponents as much as possible. Heili though does have a big issue when it comes to urgency and output, and against Croom’s pressure that could see him fold.

He does have the skills to earn a win in this one though, because Croom was outwrestled by Kelleher quite comfortably in January. Croom does have decent submission skills and we know he can push for 15 minutes, but I’d expect Heili to earn a pretty close decision win.
PICK – Alanteng Heili via Decision

Istela Nunes (7-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Women’s strawweights stand up, as two women at very different ends of their UFC careers go head-to-head. Nunes was stopped in her UFC debut by Ariane Carnelossi back in October, but Hughes has gone 0-3 in the organisation so far. She was stopped by Tecia Torres at UFC 256, before dropping decisions to Loma Lookboonmee at UFC Vegas 25 and Luana Pinheiro most recently.

Nunes is a solid striker on the feet, with some decent takedown defence which she showed early on in her last fight before running out of gas following three years without a fight. Hughes is a wrestler, whose striking has been pretty abysmal and she’s shown that without the takedown available she’s pretty easy to beat.

Hughes will take some joy from the fact Nunes got taken down six times in her debut, but Hughes isn’t as aggressive as Carnelossi and Nunes has been in the cage more recently so should have been able to work on her cardio and crisp striking. Ultimately, this goes in a similar way to Hughes’ other UFC bouts and Nunes earns the decision win.
PICK – Istela Nunes via Decision



Jordan Leavitt (9-1) vs Trey Ogden (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight fight up next. Leavitt won his UFC debut with a 22-second slam at UFC Vegas 16 but then was beaten for the first time when Claudio Puelles got the better of him on the judge’s scorecards. He bounced back with a submission win over Matt Sayles at UFC Vegas 45 last time out. Ogden makes his UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, with all three coming via submission.

Leavitt is an excellent wrestler with some amazing submission skills, including an inverted triangle win in his last bout. His striking is unorthodox and is usually to set up his takedowns more than to do any actual damage, while Ogden is also a stud wrestler but his striking has shown vast improvements in his recent bouts. His wrestling looks better than Leavitt’s, which means he should be able to dictate where this fight takes place.

Ogden has some solid leg kicks and so long as he isn’t careless when scoring takedowns to allow Leavitt to bring his submission game into play, he should claim a debut win here. He has the power, the speed and the wrestling advantages so he should edge out a decision.
PICK – Trey Ogden via Decision

Chris Barnett (22-7) vs Martin Buday (9-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The UFC needed heavyweights, so there’s a debut on the card for ‘Badys’. Barnett was beaten in his UFC debut by Ben Rothwell, but bounced back with an incredible spinning wheel kick KO of Gian Villante at UFC 268 last time out. Buday on the other hand has won his last eight fights, with his only career defeat coming against current UFC star Juan Espino.

Barnett is a wild striker, who throws incredible spinning attacks and has great power in his hands, while his athleticism is surprising considering his size and physique. Buday is a grinder with good clinch work and solid power in his hands, while his aggressive approach and pressure looks to be the perfect counter for Barnett’s style.

Buday will walk forward to smother Barnett’s explosive power and unless he gets clipped on his way in, he should be able to put Barnett against the cage and work his grinding style to claim yet another win by knockout.
PICK – Martin Buday via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 40: Ladd vs Dumont – Early Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas once again for yet another fight night card, this time headlined by female featherweight Norma Dumont and short-notice replacement Aspen Ladd.

Ladd was pulled from UFC Vegas 38 just two weeks ago after missing the bantamweight limit by one pound, scrapping her fight with Macy Chiasson. But after Holly Holm pulled out of this card with an injury, the UFC called her in up a weight class to fill in for this main event.

Elsewhere on the card the legendary Jim Miller makes a return while two Contender Series alum in Jordan Wright and Julian Marquez meet in a fun middleweight scrap.

Last week at UFC Vegas 39, we went 6/9 with three perfect picks on a rather forgettable card to move us up to 434/679 (63.92%) with 187 perfect picks (43.09%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that record here, starting with the early prelim bouts.



Istela Nunes (7-1) vs Ariane Carnelossi (13-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting UFC strawweight bout opens up the card between debutant Nunes and the returning Carnelossi. Nunes steps in after over three years away for her debut, while Carnelossi looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC after KO’ing Na Liang at UFC 261.

Nunes is a tidy kickboxer with good striking from range, but three years away from the fight game after injuries and a doping suspension is never a good look. Carnelossi is a pressure fighter with cardio for days and good power in her hands, as her brilliant nine knockout career wins show.

Carnelossi has been more active than Nunes despite a serious injury herself and while her striking is quite as polished, her pressure game is a nightmare for Nunes. She’s not the best on the back foot and with good power and a fast pace coming back at her I think Carnelossi can secure a win.
PICK – Ariane Carnelossi via Knockout, Round 2

Danaa Batgerel (9-2) vs Brandon Davis (14-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight scrap next as Danaa takes on Brandon Davis who looks to kick off a second run in the UFC with a win. Batgerel has knocked out both of his latest opponents in the first-round, while Davis lost five of seven in his first UFC run but has since gone on a four-fight win streak in GCMMA.

Danaa is a super talented striker with a brilliant left hook and great power in all his limbs, while Davis is a very solid boxer who’s durability and volume is his strength. Danaa likes to stay patient and pick his shots, showing great intelligence and a methodical approach. Davis on the other hand likes to charge his opponent to force them onto the back foot and likes to take a shot to give one.

He struggled in the UFC his first time around and he hasn’t shown much different while away, but he racked up the victories. Against Danaa, I think the power and accuracy of the Mongolian could be too much. I don’t think he’ll get finished, but I do think he gets beat up and defeated.
PICK – Danaa Batgerel via Decision

Nate Landwehr (14-4) vs Ludovit Klein (17-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A banger at featherweight here as Landwehr looks to get a win over the highly rated Klein. Landwehr got knocked out in stunning fashion against Julian Erosa last time out with a flying knee at UFC Vegas 19, while Klein was pipped in a brilliant fight against Mike Trizano last time UFC Vegas 26.

Landwehr is a brawler, with solid striking and good knockout power as his eight career knockouts show. Klein on the other hand is a brilliant kickboxer with great speed and angles, but also able to mix in some wrestling too if needed. This fight is likely to go one of two ways – either Klein starches the usually-hittable Landwehr early, or he survives and makes it a brawl to force Klein into deep water.

The likelihood for me is the former. Klein hits so hard and so clean, plus he showed against Trizano that he can go 15 minutes no problem. Don’t be surprised if he lands one of his trademark head kicks to wrap this one up early.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Knockout, Round 1