Joanderson Brito (13-3-1) vs Lucas Alexander (7-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Another fun fight up next, this time in the featherweight division. Brito has won 11 of his last 12 fights, with his only loss coming in his UFC debut at UFC Vegas 46 against Bill Algeo on the first card of 2022. He since bounced back with a huge 41 second KO over Andre Fili last time out. Alexander has won his last five fights in a row and makes his UFC debut in this bout, stepping in less than one week’s notice.
Brito is a real all-round threat in the UFC featherweight division and has the qualities to potentially be a title contender in the future. The Brazilian is a legitimate jiu-jitsu black belt who is aggressive with his powerful striking because he’s not afraid of going to the ground. Alexander is a boxer with a great check-left hook, but he tends to keep his hands low and has been backed up against the cage several times so far in his young career.
If any of that happens here, then expect Brito to eat him alive. It’s a chance for “Tubarao” to make a statement, so expect him to land a heavy shot early doors and then follow him to the mat before strangling him for an easy night’s work. PICK – Joanderson Brito via Submission, Round 1
Nick Maximov (8-1) vs Jacob Malkoun (6-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Nick Diaz Army stand up! Maximov returns to the UFC octagon after suffering the first defeat of his career last time out, when he got caught in an anaconda choke by Andre Petroski and tapped in just 76 seconds. Malkoun on the other hand saw a two-fight win streak snapped after wins over Abdul Razak Alhassan and AJ Dobson (UFC 271) when he got dominated by Brendan Allen at UFC 275 most recently.
This one won’t be the most entertaining fights of all time, because both fighters tend to wrestle and prioritise position over submission meaning whoever is on top tends to stay there. Malkoun is the better boxer of the two, but both have found success with takedowns and safe ground and pound and whoever the stronger wrestler is will go back to the well as often as they need to.
I lean towards Malkoun in this instance. He’s got more experience in the octagon under the bright lights and has fought a better level of competition, while Maximov has shown far more issues against credentialed wrestlers too. Expect Malkoun to land jabs and low kicks before shooting and staying on top for 15 minutes. PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Raphael Assuncao (27-9) vs Victor Henry (22-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun fight in the bantamweight division between two veterans at the opposite end of their UFC careers. Assuncao is on a four-fight skid, getting submitted by Marlon Moraes in 2019 and then getting dominated by Cory Sandhagen at UFC 241. A KO of the year contender saw him lose to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 250, before Ricky Simon stopped him at UFC Vegas 45 at the end of 2021 in his last fight. Henry on the other hand made his UFC debut on short notice at UFC 270 against Raoni Barcelos and earned a surprise decision win.
Assuncao’s best days saw him as a counter striking machine who was a constant threat, who is also more than capable of holding his own on the ground too. Henry is a volume heavy striker who steps forward constantly and has his own decent counter striking skills. A prime Assuncao probably beats Henry quite comfortably, but he’s 40 now and it has been a long time since he showed any hint of that former glory.
Henry had the ability to shut down Barcelos almost entirely in their bout, and Barcelos would likely dominate this version of Assuncao, so it’s hard to see Henry not doing the same. His pressure will be constant and he can mix in his wrestling takedowns too to earn another big win on the scorecards. PICK – Victor Henry via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-3) vs Brandon Davis (14-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Featured prelim bout comes from the bantamweight division once again. Martinez was on a three-fight win streak heading into his last fight, winning his UFC debut with a split decision against Guido Cannetti, but was beaten handily by Ronnie Lawrence last time out. Davis on the other hand was on a four-fight win streak himself in GCMMA before his UFC debut saw him KO’d by Batgerel Danaa in the first round almost exactly a year to the day of this bout.
Martinez has been hugely underwhelming in his two octagon appearances so far, but his one-punch power is absolutely not in question. He’s got a crazy hard left hand and his explosiveness means he can land it at any moment, but his wrestling is fairly poor. That’s where Davis’ window opens, because he’s never been the best technical fighter but his durability had been second to none prior to his last fight. That’s a big problem.
We don’t know how that knockout affected him, but if Martinez lands flush it’s highly unlikely he just eats it. If Davis can wrestle and keep Martinez defensive or on his back, then he has a good chance. But with that said, it seems unlikely that the left hook doesn’t land clean at least once, so I have to side with the power of “Manaboi” on this one. PICK – Mana Martinez via Knockout, Round 2
The UFC heads to Singapore for only the fifth time ever for UFC 275 this weekend as we’re treated to two huge title fights in the main events.
Glover Teixeira will defend the light heavyweight title for the first time when he takes on Jiri Prochazka in the headline fight, while Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title for the seventh time against first-time challenger Taila Santos.
We’ll also see the hotly anticipated rematch between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well as the likes of Manel Kape, Brendan Allen and Andre Fialho competing too.
We come into this card after a small break from picks. We sit at 634/987 (64.24%) with 272 perfect picks (42.9%) and you can see our total picks list here.
Brendan Allen (18-5) vs Jacob Malkoun (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Banger in the middleweight division. Allen recovered from a shock KO defeat to Chris Curtis at UFC Vegas 44 by earning a submission win over Sam Alvey most recently after clubbing him to the mat first. Malkoun has bounced back from a horror debut that saw him KO’d in 18 seconds by Phil Hawes at UFC 254 by earning back-to-back wins over Abdul Razak Alhassan and AJ Dobson most recently at UFC 271.
Allen is exactly what his nickname suggests – “All In”. He is a brilliant grappler on the mat with a fearsome top game and nasty submission skills that have earned him ten wins via tap out, but he is also capable of standing and striking with good combinations and power. Malkoun on the other hand is very similar to teammate Robert Whittaker, with excellent range management and kickboxing skills as well as good wrestling to hold opponents down and control fights.
Malkoun will likely try to recreate his two wins with ground control and lots of risk averse tactics, but Allen is by far the best fighter he’s faced. Allen should be able to control the striking with his size advantage and pressure, and in the grappling department I’d expect Allen to have the advantage anyway whether it’s getting back up to his feet or keeping Malkoun down. Expect fast pace and a mix of attacks for Allen to earn another victory. PICK – Brendan Allen via Decision
Maheshate (6-1) vs Steve Garcia (12-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Lightweight prospects go head-to-head in this one. Maheshate is on a six-fight win streak after earning a UFC contract with a win on Dana White’s Contender Series, while Garcia got the only UFC win of his career last time out when he KO’d Charlie Ontiveros.
Maheshate is a fighter who is at his most effective from long-range, using kicks and straight punches to keep distance and avoid damage while inflicting some of his own. Garcia on the other hand is well-rounded but tends to use aggressive strikes to move forward and close distance, while he has mixed in wrestling in previous fights too. This is a huge step up in competition for Maheshate and he will likely stick to what he knows, which is quick counters and point scoring.
For Garcia he has proven vulnerable to counters in the past, but his chin has never let him down to date and Maheshate isn’t the heaviest puncher out there. He should be able to walk through a couple to mix in his wrestling and use his aggression to catch the eyes of the judges a claim a decision win. PICK – Steve Garcia via Decision
Seungwoo Choi (10-4) vs Josh Culibao (9-1-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Featherweight banger up next between a very good Asian prospect and one of Australia’s best. Choi earned three wins in a row in the UFC before his last fight against Alex Caceres ended in a second-round submission defeat. Culibao alternatively got back on the winning horse last time out with a unanimous decision win over Nuerdanbieke Shayilan after a loss and a draw in the two fights prior.
Choi is an excellent striker who uses straights, hooks and uppercuts really well but often is guilty of headhunting regularly rather than mixing up the point of attacks. Culibao is also a talented striker, but he is more open to mixing in wrestling attacks to make up for a lack of one-punch power in the octagon. Both have improved since their initial signing with the organisation, but this seems to be a more favourable fight for Choi.
He has a big advantage in reach and height and Culibao’s wrestling against Charles Jourdain really saw him fail to implement his game plan. Choi isn’t the greatest wrestler either, but he’ll feel as if he has the advantage and could look to tie up and grapple every time Culibao closes the distance. It’ll be a fun stand-up battle for the most part, but Choi should claim the win on the cards. PICK – Seungwoo Choi via Decision
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Slightly further down the card will be a middleweight title eliminator too, as Jared Cannonier takes on Derek Brunson to potentially decipher who the next contender will be for the belt.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 47 we went 9/13 with six perfect picks to move to 528/826 (63.92%) with 224 perfect picks (42.42%).
We’ll look to improve on that this week with this huge 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
William Knight (11-2) vs Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) **William Knight missed weight by 12 pounds. Fight will proceed at heavyweight!**
Two powerhouses going head-to-head here in what could be a fight full of fireworks. Knight is on a two-fight win streak having stopped Fabio Cherant at UFC Vegas 34 before a decision win over Alonzo Menifield at UFC Vegas 44. Grishin on the other hand is an experienced pro who suffered defeat to Dustin Jacoby last time out at UFC Vegas 20 last year.
Knight is a powerful striker, with impressive low kicks and a winging overhand right that can do real damage. He also has great ground-and-pound skills, but his wrestling isn’t the best and he can’t drag fights to the ground. Grishin is also a striker, but far more technical than powerful and has great defensive wrestling to ensure the fight stays where he wants it. Ultimately that will be the difference here.
Grishin will want the fight standing because it’s where he holds the advantage and Knight isn’t a good enough wrestler to force it anywhere else. Grishin should be able to control the range and use his jabs well enough to secure a wide, but uneventful, decision win here. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs Blood Diamond (3-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An intriguing welterweight fight to open the card between a sturdy UFC fighter and a debutant. Wells is on a three-fight winning streak, including a KO over Warlley Alves at UFC Vegas 30 in his organisation debut. Blood Diamond is only 3-0 in MMA but had over 50 kickboxing bouts in his career, and has evenly split his wins across KO’s, submissions and decisions.
Wells is a powerful striker on the feet, who explodes into his attacks, but he also has his wrestling chops and some decent grappling skills too. As expected, Blood Diamond is a technically brilliant kickboxer with amazing kicks and speed. But his defensive grappling chops are yet to really be tested, although he hasn’t fought in just under two years.
The improvements could very well be there for Diamond, but that’s hypothetical at this point. We’ve seen Wells knockout a seasoned veteran in his last fight and we know he has good enough wrestling to take the fight down. With three submission wins on his record, I expect him to get the fight to the mat, move to the back and eventually secure his neck to claim a win. PICK – Jeremiah Wells via Submission, Round 2
Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs Sergey Morozov (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun bantamweight fight next between two super underrated fighters. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, but he claimed a big KO win last time out against Gaetano Pirrello at UFC Vegas 38. Morozov on the other hand was submitted in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 8 but then bounced back with a decision win over Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 31.
This is a big striker vs grappler bout, with one punch knockout power coming up against relentless wrestling and grinding. Andrade has secured 20 knockouts from 27 career wins and is so explosive despite being 36-years-old, while Morozov is a great wrestler who is able to rack up takedowns at will and consistently across 15 minutes. While Morozov has struggled against pressure fighters in the past, Andrade has struggled with specialist wrestlers and battling off his back.
Andrade absolutely has the power to end this fight with one big punch, but he’ll struggle to land the punch if he’s looking up at the ceiling for the night. Morozov’s takedowns are just relentless and with Andrade’s history of being taken down too open, it’s hard to look past a controlling win for Morozov but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to sleep. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
AJ Dobson (6-0) vs Jacob Malkoun (5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really exciting middleweight fight between two hot prospects in the UFC. Dobson made waves with his victory on Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his debut here, while Malkoun got smoked in his debut at UFC 254 in just 18 seconds but bounced back with a decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC Vegas 24.
Dobson is a powerful blitzer with excellent power in his hands and good forward pressure. He’s earned three knockout wins and two submissions in his six fights. Malkoun on the other hand is a great boxer too, with professional experience, and he also has some decent jiu-jitsu credentials. The loss to Hawes really affected his stock, but his performance against Alhassan certainly showed what he’s capable of too.
Dobson’s reputation is big right now because of the hype, but Malkoun certainly isn’t just a walk in the park here. Malkoun will likely lean on his wrestling heavily again and we haven’t really seen Dobson off his back yet. Dobson could earn a knockout win, for sure, but I think Malkoun will be able to grind on him and make it a rough debut for a victory. PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-2) vs Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two fighters on big win streaks go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Martinez is on a three-fight winning run, being successful in his UFC debut against Guido Cannetti at UFC Vegas 35 while Lawrence grabbed a third-round knockout win over Vince Cachero at UFC Vegas 20 in his debut.
Martinez is a fighter with great power in his hands, the ability to put anyone’s lights out with one clean shot and great boxing technique in both directions. Lawrence on the other hand is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands too and a consistent takedown-heavy approach to secure control. Martinez has definitely got the edge in the striking game, but he suffered badly in his debut win with the pressure of Cannetti.
That’s a problem, because Lawrence is far better than Cannetti is. His pressure is relentless, his wrestling solid and his grappling is far more advanced than Martinez’s is. With that said, ‘Manaboi’ has fight-ending power which is hard to go against. I will go against it on this occasion though, because Lawrence is a big step up in competition but don’t be surprised to see a highlight reel finish in his favour instead. PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision
Pena is a great striker with a good submission game too, while Munhoz is a strict wrestler who if he can’t get the fight down to the ground will undoubtedly struggle. Pena has all the tools to put a good run together, but it just never seems to click for him in the cage. Munhoz suffered a first defeat last time out against one of the better boxers in the division last time out.
It’s a one-sided fight, it’s just hard to know which way it goes because of the weaknesses both men have leading in to the opposite numbers strengths. As it stands though, I think Munhoz is likely to get the takedowns needed to grind out a decision win. PICK – Alexander Munhoz via Decision
Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-3) vs Jacob Malkoun (4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Both guys are violent strikers with power that puts people to sleep, but Alhassan is by far the more experienced man in the cage. Malkoun’s record is short and a bit stodgy and his biggest claim to fame is that he’s a training partner of Robert Whittaker’s. Both guys have the power to put the other to sleep, but I can’t see past Alhassan getting back on the winning trail with a big, violent stoppage. PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1
Andrei Arlovski (30-20) vs Chase Sherman (15-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The legendary former world champion makes a quick turnaround to take on a big prospect in the heavyweight division. Andrei Arlovski had won two in a row beating Phillipe Lins and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 13, before being submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Sherman has won four in a row including his UFC return against Isaac Villanueva back in May 2020.
Arlovski is a legendary kickboxer with tremendous punching power and great technique, while Sherman is a bit more of a traditional boxer with great power in his hands. Sherman is a specialist knockout artist, but considering he’s mainly a boxer he gets hit an awful lot.
It’s a tough fight to call, because both men have had questionable chins in the past and while Sherman has more power now Arlovski is the better all-round fighter. Despite that, Arlovski has lost a step in age at 42-years-old now and I think Sherman should be able to get enough volume going to get a win. PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision
Jeremy Stephens (28-18 1NC) vs Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An intriguing lightweight bout in the co-main event as ‘Lil Heathen’ makes a return to 155lbs for the first time in nine years to take on the highly rated Drakkar Klose. Stephens was a contender at featherweight for a while but then went 0-4 (1 NC) in his last five to send him on a spiral back up to lightweight, while Klose had won three in a row before getting knocked out in a crazy fight against Beneil Dariush just over a year ago.
Stephens is a well rounded fighter who often relies on his heavy hands and steady boxing for big wins and it’s come up trumps more often than not. While his recent record is horrendous, he’s only been beaten by the elite of the 145lbs division so it’s hard to see how far he’s fallen if at all. Klose on the other hand is fantastic wrestler who has heavy hands of his own, but usually looks to take fights to the mat and work his ground and pound.
This is a really fun fight, but I can’t see it going particularly well for Stephens. Klose is the more technical fighter of the two, and while both men are durable Stephens was getting hurt by smaller guys than Klose. I think Klose will threaten the takedown and throw his hands too to be able to secure a decision win. PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision
Robert Whittaker (23-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (17-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Whittaker is an elite level kickboxer who is a master of range, with heavy hands and great footwork. Gastelum on the other hand is a heavy-handed wrestler who has good submission skills too. Whittaker is one of the best middleweights of all-time but he does get hit and rocked quite often. Gastelum has the power to hurt Whittaker with his hands, but he needs to get close enough and land clean to do it and I can’t see that.
‘Bobby Knuckles’ is better in every aspect of MMA and while Gastelum has a remarkable chin that will likely hold out, I cannot look past Whittaker waltzing to a decision win once again. PICK – Robert Whittaker via Decision