Tag Archives: Jairzinho Rozenstruik

UFC Charlotte: Rozenstruik vs Almeida – Fight predictions

The big boys take centre stage at UFC Charlotte this weekend when Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Jailton Almeida headline the card to look to move up the heavyweight rankings.

Rozenstruik is looking to get back into the top five conversation with a win, with a current professional record of 13-4 including a 7-4 run in the UFC to date.

He’ll be coming up against the on-fire up and comer Almeida who is coming into this bout on a 13-fight win streak and is undefeated in the UFC, having fought at light heavyweight and heavyweight.

Last time out at UFC 288 we didn’t have the best night of picks as we went 6/12 with two perfect picks to move us to 872/1351 (64.54%) with 357 perfect picks (40.94%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to put that right here in this very intriguing match-up, with big top five consequences for the winner.


Recent fight history

“Bigi Boy” has had a tough time of things of late in the heavyweight division.

The Suriname native has lost three of his last five fights. He dropped a unanimous decision to Ciryl Gane before getting back in the win column with a first-round knockout over Augusto Sakai in the following bout.

That was followed up with a unanimous decision loss to Curtis Blaydes before Alexander Volkov turned in a striking clinic with a first-round knockout to put Rozenstruik on his first losing streak of his career. He bounced back last time out though with a knockout win over Chris Daukaus in 23 seconds.

Almeida on the other hand is absolutely flying in the UFC and this will be his biggest test to date.

So far the Brazilian has gone 4-0 in the UFC with all stoppages, claiming a knockout over Danilo Marques in his debut followed by submission wins against Parker Porter and Anton Turkalj.

Last time out against Shamil Abdurakhimov he earned another vicious knockout win despite being taken into the second round for the first time in his UFC tenure.



Fight styles

This is once again another classic striker vs grappler bout in the main event and it’s one that is very intriguing to break down.

Rozenstruik is a fantastic kickboxer with incredible one-punch power and strong low kicks, and his power carries through over the course of 25 minutes if necessary as we saw when he fought Alistair Overeem.

He likes to push opponents against the cage with pressure before unloading a flurry of strikes full of power, knowing that if one lands clean that could be the end of the bout.

Almeida on the other hand is a phenomenal grappler with world renowned jiu-jitsu skills. He’s also a nasty striker with good power, but it’s on the ground where he does his best work.

His offensive wrestling is not the greatest, but he does have good trips and throws and if he gets into top position on the ground then he stays there until the fight or the round ends.

Prediction

Power or grappling is the big question in this one, and usually I lean towards the grappler who can control where the fight goes.

But there is a genuinely worrying size difference in this one with Almeida being a light heavyweight moving up, whereas Rozenstruik would struggle to weigh in at 205lbs if he cut a leg off.

If Rozenstruik lands clean then this one will end quickly, but Almeida is quick with his movements and his striking itself isn’t that bad so he will be able to hold his own for a short while. And if he is able to get his hands on Rozenstruik and take the fight to the mat then it will be over quickly.

As much as the one-punch power and size difference gives “Bigi Boy” a great chance for victory, I can’t see past Almeida being able to get him down and work for a submission quickly with his phenomenal skills to make himself a real threat in the heavyweight division.
PICK – Jailton Almeida via Submission, Round 1

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UFC 282: Blachowicz vs Ankalaev – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for UFC 282 as they will crown a brand new undisputed light heavyweight champion when Jan Blachowicz takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

Originally a three-round co-main, former champion Jiri Prochazka was forced to withdraw from his rematch with Glover Teixeira and vacate his title after suffering a shoulder injury in training, which saw this fight bumped up to a title fight.

We’ll also see the UK’s own compete as Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till compete on the main card, while there is some deep prelim fights on the card too.

Last time out at UFC Orlando we had a shocking night, going 5/14 with just one perfect pick to move to 789/1227 (64.3%) with 325 perfect picks (41.19%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Chris Curtis (29-9) vs Joaquin Buckley (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A super fun fight in the middleweight division between two guys with real knockout power and a fan friendly style. Curtis saw his eight-fight win streak snapped in a relatively boring fight against Jack Hermansson at UFC London last time out. Buckley was on a three-fight win streak ahead of his last fight against Nassourdine Imavov, but lost a decision at UFC Paris.

Curtis’ nickname is Action Man and it suits his fight style. He likes to walk forward and use his excellent boxing skills to land strikes inside a close distance, while also using good wrestling to keep fights standing. Buckley is a powerhouse who has got great cardio, and explosive power that makes him capable of putting anyone’s lights out if necessary.

These two fighters are really well matched up. Curtis will likely go to the body more and use a variety of attacks, but Buckley is the man with more power and the more eye-catching moments without a doubt. Both should be able to hold up for the full 15 minutes, so I do expect it to go the distance. With that said, Buckley is the more active guy and I think he’ll edge it on the cards.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Decision

Edmen Shahbazyan (11-3) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (11-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

More middleweight action up next. Shahbazyan was the next big thing before he ran into Derek Brunson to suffer his first professional loss (UFC Vegas 5), and has since lost two more against Hermansson and Imavov (UFC 268) to make it three in a row. Lungiambula has lost four of his last five, including his last three in a row too, dropping a decision to Marc-Andre Barriault, getting submitted by Cody Brundage and knocked out by Punahele Soriano most recently.

Shahbazyan is a world-class kickboxer with great movement, excellent footwork and solid power, but his chin has absolutely been tested recently and his takedown defence is a massive glaring hole in his game. Lungiambula is a decent wrestler with great power striking, but some weird techniques that leave him open to counter striking from his opponent.

There are still plenty of tools and lots of time in the favour of Shahbazyan and this is the perfect fight for him to get back on track. He’s excellent on the feet and will have a big edge there, and while Lungiambula could take him down his top game isn’t the best and “Golden Boy” should feel as though he can get back up. Shahbazyan could put on a striking clinic, and I think a big head kick lands in the first half of the fight for a win.
PICK – Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 1



Raul Rosas Jr (6-0) vs Jay Perrin (10-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The youngest fighter on the UFC roster makes his debut in this one. Rosas Jr earned a contract on the Contender Series as a 17-year-old back in September to move to 6-0, while Perrin has lost his last two against Mario Bautista and most recently Aoriqileng (UFC 278).

Rosas Jr is a spectacular grappler with som excellent wrestling and really good top control, able to pass guard and transition to new positions quickly and accurately to go with his ground and pound skills. Perrin is a well-rounded fighter with good boxing and power, plus a solid bit of wrestling in his back pocket to go with it. He’s also far more experienced than Rosas, which could have a huge say.

With that said though, Rosas looked at home on the Contender Series and had some serious skills. If he can stay composed, he has the size and length to cause problems. Perrin will surely look to overwhelm him early on, but Rosas looks special and I think this is the beginning of his journey.
PICK – Raul Rosas Jr via Submission, Round 3

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-4) vs Chris Daukaus (12-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Ranked heavyweights go at it in the featured prelim bout of this card. Rozenstruik has lost his last two in a row, dropping a decision against Curtis Blaydes at UFC 266 before getting knocked out by Alexander Volkov most recently back in June. Daukaus on the other hand saw his great start to the company shattered by the first of Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 45, before Curtis Blaydes KO’d him in March too.

Rozenstruik is a power puncher, straight like that, but he has also got good kicks and a decent kickboxing game too. Daukaus is a jiu-jitsu wizard on the mat, but he’s also got good boxing and terrific hand speed for a man of his size. It’s quite clear how this fight plays out in my mind. Daukaus will hang around on the outside looking to pop his jab and use combinations, then quickly close the distance to look to use his big advantage on the ground.

“Bigi Boy” is going to have to find a way to avoid that, and his best bet for that is to walk forward and set the pace of the fight. He has the type of power that ends the fight in an instant, just ask Alistair Overeem, but he was getting handily beaten in that fight. Daukaus is capable of putting together a performance like Volkov did last time out and just using sheer volume to overwhelm him before getting a finish on the mat.
PICK – Chris Daukaus via Submission, Round 2

UFC 273: Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.

Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.

In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.

We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.

Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).

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


Mickey Gall (7-4) vs Mike Malott (7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout up next as Mickey Gall looks to earn a much needed win for his record. Gall has gone 3-3 in his last six after initially starting off 3-0 in the UFC, with a defeat to Alex Morono last time out at UFC Vegas 44. Malott on the other hand makes his UFC debut after a 39 second victory on Dana White’s Contender Series last time out to earn his contract.

Gall is a brilliant jiu-jitsu practitioner who has been working on his striking in recent years to try and round out his game. Malott alternatively is a powerful striker with quick hands, who has won all of his fights in under two minutes. He’s also an adept grappler himself, but the lack of in-cage experience makes it hard to pick this fight.

Based on what we’ve seen, Malott has got a great chance of getting a big name on his record. But what happens if Gall manages to survive the initial two minute burst? Does Malott have the cardio to go 15 minutes if he needs to? Nobody knows but we can only go on what we’ve already seen from these guys, so I think Gall will survive the initial burst and be able to go for the full fight and edge out a close decision.
PICK – Mickey Gall via Decision

Aspen Ladd (9-2) vs Raquel Pennington (13-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting bantamweight bout between two of the bigger names in the division. Ladd missed weight last time she was due to fight at bantamweight, but then moved up to featherweight on short notice and was beaten by Norma Dumont. Pennington on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, with victories against Marion Reneau, Pannie Kianzad and most recently Macy Chiasson.

Ladd is an aggressive wrestler who has a very active top game, with the ability to finish bouts from that position as the six KO wins in her career show, while Pennington is an absolute grinder who has solid boxing and good clinch work. Ladd’s recent performances have been underwhelming and the weight is a big issue here. She was incredibly hesitant against Dumont and Pennington looks back to her best currently.

If Pennington is able to put the pressure on and make Ladd go backwards then she has a great chance of victory here. If Ladd makes weight easily though she has the wrestling credentials to make this a long night for Pennington. But the weight is a big problem and Pennington is quick enough and active enough to be able to earn a big win here.
PICK – Raquel Pennington via Decision



Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3) vs Marcin Tybura (22-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights assemble! ‘Big Boi’ has alternated wins and losses in his last six, falling to defeats against Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 20) and Curtis Blaydes in his most recent fight at UFC 266. Tybura on the other hand was on a five-fight win streak before running into Alexander Volkov most recently at UFC 267 where he dropped a decision.

Rozenstruik is a former world champion kickboxer who has got incredible one-punch knockout power and solid kicks, while Tybura is a good pressure fighters with decent boxing and a solid array of leg kicks to dip into. This will almost certainly be a striking battle and that means that Rozenstruik will have the advantage. That is, unless Tybura goes into his wrestling well and looks to just drown Rozenstruik with pressure.

There is a big opportunity for Tybura to get takedowns and work his top pressure for 15 minutes to get another big scalp on his resume, but Rozenstruik’s power makes that dangerous. Especially considering Tybura has been KO’d several times in the past. His durability has improved over recent fights, but Rozenstruik is the best striker he’s come up against in a while and the Suriname native should claim a big KO win here.
PICK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Knockout, Round 2

Ian Garry (8-0) vs Darian Weeks (5-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two super hot prospects get the featured prelim headline spot in this one. Garry made his UFC debut at UFC 268 and claimed a Conor McGregor-esque knockout in the first round over Jordan Williams, while Weeks suffered defeat to Bryan Barberena in his debut at UFC Vegas 44 on short notice.

Garry is a brilliant striker, with great kicks and really quick counters that have got genuine knockout power. Weeks is a good wrestler, but he really struggled against Barberena to hold him down and get any sort of control so he doesn’t stand much hope of doing that here against Garry. There’s a huge gap in skill on the feet, and Garry is also decent on the ground himself with good defence and good front chokes.

This fight, on paper, looks like a setup fight for Garry’s star to continue to rise. He had more issues against Williams than initially expected, but that was likely debut nerves. Here he has the edge pretty much everywhere, so expect a violent TKO win for the Irishman.
PICK – Ian Garry via Knockout, Round 1

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Main card predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight at the top end of the women’s flyweight division opens up the main card here. Andrade is coming off the back of her nasty defeat against champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, while Calvillo also lost her last fight against Kaitlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 last time out.

Andrade is a powerful wrestler who slams almost all her opponents at some point, and also has good striking to work her way inside too. Calvillo is a good wrestler in her own right, with some decent striking but plenty of control in the top position. Andrade seems to have found her best weight class now as has Calvillo and this is the type of fight that would usually determine a title contender.

Andrade has shown some cardio issues in the past, while Calvillo has gone a full five rounds before and still looked fresh. Her issues against Chookagian were more distance related than anything else and she won’t have those problems against the 5ft 1 Andrade. Andrade however is the more powerful fighter and when it comes to grappling I think she has the advantage too so I expect her to claim the win.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Decision
BETTING TIP – Fight to go the distance @ 5/6 (Bet365)

Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A huge heavyweight contender fight between two guys looking to work their way towards title contention. Blaydes was on a tear until he ran into Derrick Lewis and got flattened at UFC Vegas 19, while Rozenstruik bounced back from a beating by Ciryl Gane to earn a KO win over Augusto Sakai last time out at UFC Vegas 28.

Blaydes’ style is the same in every fight and your chances of winning against him stand on whether or not you can stop his takedowns. He shoots in with power, holds you down in position and rains down huge elbows until you can’t take it anymore. Rozenstruik on the other hand is a kickboxer with legitimate one-punch power, just like Lewis had. Rozenstruik’s wrestling defence isn’t the best, but he can learn a lot from Blaydes’ last fight of how to defend the takedowns with his striking.

It comes down to whether or not Blaydes can land the takedown without having his lights turned out again, and I think he’ll correct his issues and blast double-leg his way to a unanimous decision win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision
BETTING TIP – Blaydes via Decision @ 11/5 (Bet365)

Nick Diaz (26-9) vs Robbie Lawler (28-15) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the most anticipated fight on the card as Diaz makes his return after six years away to take on old rival ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler. These two met all the way back in 2004, with Diaz earning a KO win in the second round. Lawler is on a big decline right now, losing each of his last four fights with the most recent coming against Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 8.

Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with brilliant boxing and one of the deepest gas tanks in MMA, while Lawler is a powerful wrestler with a solid overhand left that can put people to sleep. This is an incredibly tough fight to call because we have no idea what Diaz has been up to in the gym for the last six years. We don’t know how he’ll react in the cage after so long away or how he’ll look in action.

The fans will be behind him, because they always are, and he has a knockout win against Lawler on his CV already. On the ground we know how talented he is, but Lawler has been far more active since and has the wrestling edge. It’s due to be a wild fight and it’s a guess either way, but I have to go with Diaz to make the perfect return.
PICK – Nick Diaz via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs Lauren Murphy (15-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The first title fight of the night sees the ever-dominant Shevchenko take on the veteran Murphy in the co-main event. ‘Bullet’ has won seven in a row, with her only UFC defeats coming in razor close decisions to Amanda Nunes. Her last fight was a violent KO over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. Murphy on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with her most recent win coming against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

Shevchenko is an entirely complete MMA fighter with stunning striking, grappling and submission skills to go with excellent defence and a second-to-none fight IQ. Murphy is a boxer by trade with some good kickboxing skills too and some good clinch work with good grappling skills on the ground where necessary. Unfortunately for her, she’s just not on the same level as Shevchenko.

No matter where this fight goes, Shevchenko wins. It’s that simple. Unless something absolutely crazy happens, Shevchenko can pretty much pick how she wins this fight and I think she’ll use her striking to come out on top this time.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs Brian Ortega (15-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

When the main event has the potential to be the fight of the night, you know it’s a good one. The featherweight title is on the line as Volkanovski looks to make it 20 wins in a row and 10-0 in the UFC, after wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway twice in his most recent bouts. Ortega took two years out after losing to Holloway and returned with a stunning performance against Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn his title shot.

Volkanovski is a brilliant all-rounder, with powerful strikes in his hands and some top-tier wrestling to allow him to decide where the fight goes. Ortega is a submission specialist with other-worldly jiu-jitsu skills but the performance against TKZ showed that he has upped his striking to a whole new level too. His jab is sharp, he has good combinations and mixes in takedowns well too. Volkanovski will have to deal with that striking threat in a different way to how he did with Holloway, because the ground is Ortega’s world.

Overall, this is a super close fight and I won’t be surprised by whoever wins this fight. Ultimately though, I back Volkanovski to retain his title. He is able to mix it up well and his game-planning has been great in the past. He has the more well-rounded skillset for me and I think he’s physically stronger, so he’ll claim the close win.
PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Decision

UFC Vegas 28 Fallout: Rozenstruik best of the rest at heavyweight?

The UFC heavyweight division is in the best shape it’s been in for a decade after Jairzinho Rozenstruik ensured he remained in the conversation for a future title shot.

The Surinamese fighter had lost two of his last three fights after a stunning 10-0 start to his career. He asked for a quick turnaround after his last fight, a defeat to Ciryl Gane, in order to stay active and in the bosses thoughts and was given the opportunity against Augusto Sakai.

He took the opportunity with both hands, with a beautiful first round knockout over the Brazilian to get back in the win column once again.

It was a pretty tight first round, with both fighters putting out feelers for the most part of the fight. Rozenstruik took the centre and used some leg kicks to find range but generally didn’t land anything of note until the knockout blows.

He backed Sakai up to the cage and as he circled out to escape ‘Bigi Boy’ faked with the right hand, landed a flush left hook and the finished the job with a couple of right hands too.

Sakai has now lost two in a row, but Rozenstruik has shown that he is somewhere in limbo in the division right now.

He’s beaten two former world champions in the past in Andrei Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos with vicious knockouts but both of those guys were well past their best at the time. When you look at his defeats, they’ve come against the current champion Francis Ngannou followed by Gane, who completely outclassed him without really shining himself.

Even his win over Alistair Overeem, who was on a good run before and after, came from a hail Mary strike at the end of the round in a fight he’d been dominated in for the most part.

But the win over Sakai now shows that he’s a level above those guys in the running for a top five spot, but whether he’s good enough to beat those above him is unknown now.

Someone in a similar spot is Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes, who had gone on a run in the division before getting flattened by Derrick Lewis in February this year in his main event fight.

Blaydes now is without a fight since that knockout loss but is still ranked at number four, ahead of Rozenstruik. It would be a great fight for both men, with a big name bout likely to main event a card but also a win moving them further up in the conversation for title contention.

By the time it took place, the title picture should be clearer and the top five will be more organised after Gane fights Alexander Volkov later this month too.

There is also the potential of a fight with the winner from UFC Vegas 28’s co-main event Marcin Tybura, who made it five wins in a row with a first-round knockout over Walt Harris.

Tybura is likely to move into #8 in the rankings now which would mean the only unmatched fighters ahead of him are Rozenstruik and Blaydes too. Number seven ranked Shamil Abdurakhimov is due to take on number ten ranked Chris Daukaus in July so Tybura could face the winner of that too if the timetables match up.

But with genuine contenders now filling up the rankings, the UFC is set for an exciting spell of fights in the heavyweight division and Rozenstruik is looking to be heavily involved in that.

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Claudio Puelles def Jordan Leavitt via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Interesting start to the fight as both men trade leg kicks and body kicks before Leavitt changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Puelles immediately rolls through to try and reverse but Leavitt holds onto the single leg and forces a scramble for the position. Neither men give anything up and eventually Leavitt is able to get into the guard but only for a few seconds before Puelles kicks him off. Leavitt doesn’t let go and tries to hold him down again but Puelles is eventually able to get back to the feet where they trade leg kicks again. Puelles shoots in for a takedown this time but Leavitt defends it pretty well before Puelles gets into his guard with about 40 seconds left. Neither fight lands any real offence as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Leavitt probably.

Second round more of the same early on from both guys with a few rangy kicks before Leavitt shoots in for a single leg takedown again. Puelles defends it well once again and manages to reverse to end up on Leavitt’s back, but he’s able to reverse into a kneebar attempt to escape and ends up with Puelles in his guard again. Puelles stands up and avoids an up-kick before landing a big left hand as Leavitt looks to get back up and they end up on the ground once again. Puelles looks to take the back and starts throwing a few strikes to free it up but Leavitt is defending faitly well. Puelles locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds to go but nothing else happens and the round ends. 19-19.

Puelles opens up the round with a takedown early on this time and he gets it easily, with Leavitt pretty content to work from his back currently. Leavitt tries to scramble back to his feet but Puelles doing really well to shut it down and starts landing some ground and pound too. Position over submission for Puelles so far but Leavitt is trying to get up again and goes for an inverted triangle but Puelles avoids it pretty easily. Puelles in the north-south position but not doing enough so the referee stands them up with 90 seconds to go, only for Puelles to score an instant takedown once they resume. A bit of ground and pound but nothing crazy and Puelles should waltz to the victory 29-28.

Sean Woodson def Youssef Zalal via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Fast paced start to this one as Woodson takes the centre and looks to pump out his jab, while Zalal is firing leg kicks and firing overhand rights to counter. Zalal starts landing some nice strikes from the middle and Woodson starting to back up a bit, so Zalal shoots for a takedown. Woodson is able to stuff it against the cage though and then lands a couple of nice kicks before a left hand wobbles Zalal! Zalal recovers well and seems to have the speed advantage so is landing first and preventing the jab of Woodson from being effective. Zalal moves in for another takedown but Woodson defends it well against the cage again before they break and Zalal goes for a double leg this time and gets it to end the round on top. 10-9 Zalal but close round.

Woodson comes out strong in the second round and lands some nice body kicks to back Zalal up, but the ‘Moroccan Devil’ avoids it and goes in for a takedown against the cage once again. Zalal breaks and lands an elbow before shooting back in again, then lands another elbow as they separate again. Woodson loading up with kicks and Zalal finding it pretty easy to avoid them, but Woodson lands a nice straight left. Zalal throws a nice left hook that lands before both guys trade leg kicks and then Woodson lands a nice left hand and jab again. Zalal shoots for a takedown against the cage with 20 seconds left but Woodson synchs up a guillotine but just runs out of time. 19-19 for me.

More of the same at the start of the final round as Zalal goes for another takedown and puts Woodson against the cage, but he is able to defend it well again and break out into the centre. Woodson takes the centre and is forcing Zalal backwards now, landing some decent strikes but then Zalal shoots in again to stop that momentum. Woodson throws a couple of nice knees to the body and is looking for a guillotine again but Zalal picks him up to escape with a minute to go. Zalal shoots in again but Woodson switches it and goes for a guillotine from the top, but Zalal explodes out and they get back to swinging to end the fight. 29-28 Woodson but close for sure.

PRELIMS

Manon Fiorot def Tabatha Ricci via Knockout, Round 2 (3:00)

Tentative start from both ladies early on as Fiorot uses her significant size advantage to land he patented side kick and jab. Ricci circling on the outside and bursting with some flurries, but Fiorot staying calm and composed and lands a nasty body kick. She follows up with a nice left hook straight to the chin, but Ricci keeps moving and looking for an entry. Huge left straight from Fiorot down the pipe lands and easily denies a takedown attempt. Fiorot fires off a combination but Ricci just about slips it and gets away. Fiorot has the centre and lands a big left hand again but Ricci responds with a nice strike as the round ends. 10-9 Fiorot but Ricci is showing promise.

Fast start to the second round for Fiorot as she starts to hunt Ricci down and throw combinations against the cage. Fiorot goes for a takedown inexplicably but Ricci denies it and eats another combination up top. Ricci trying to throw some leg kicks but Fiorot checks and keeps coming forward, clinching up and landing two big elbows. Fiorot steps forward with a big combination and drops Ricci and starts teeing off! Ricci gets back to her feet but Fiorot keeps pouring it on and eventually the referee mercifully steps in to end it. Huge knockout win!

Alan Patrick vs Mason JonesNO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)

Absolutely wild first round to start as Jones takes the centre of the octagon and looks to counter some crazy strikes from Patrick. The Brazilian shoots for a takedown but Jones avoids it and lands a nice right hand. Patrick throws some spinning kicks and back fists but Jones is slipping then and responding with big counters. Big exchange of punches from both men as Jones lands a left hand that staggers Patrick. Jones pushes forward with more pressure and Patrick clinches up and pulls guard but Jones starts smashing him with ground and pound. Big, heavy elbows from top position and huge strikes from the top and the referee nearly waves it off but he just runs out of time. 10-9 Jones, great round.

Patrick opens the second round with some more wild techniques before Jones steps in, gets a trip and starts working from top position once again. Some nice ground and pound strikes land but Patrick is able to jump back to his feet. He eats a big left hand and then an accidental eye poke causes a stop. Patrick tells the doctor he can’t see and the fight is waved off. Tough break for Jones.

Kamuela Kirk def Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Steady start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out early on. Amirkhani shoots in for two takedowns but Kirk is able to slip his leg out both times pretty easily. Kirk steps forward and looks to land a right hand but Amirkhani then steps in to close the distance with another shot. This time he gets hold around the body of Kirk and throws him over his head and refuses to let go, before securing a trip and getting heavy on top. Kirk is able to push Amirkhani off and get up relatively quickly though and with no damage before a nice left hand clips Amirkhani. A bit of pressure from Kirk but the round ends, 10-9 either way.

Good start to the second round from Kirk as he steps in with some nice body work and a few straight right hands. Attempted flying knee just misses from Kirk, who then lands a massive right hand right to the side of the head. Three big body shots in a row from Kirk and Amirkhani shoots in again for a takedown but this time gets it, with Kirks attempts at a guillotine and heel hook coming to nothing. Amirkhani now in top position, staying heavy but Kirk throws up a triangle armbar and it’s tight! He locks it out and extends but Amirkhani refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. 20-18 to Kirk for me but could be 19-19 or 20-18 the other way too to be fair.

Final round and Amirkhani lands a big left hand clean on the chin to open up. Both guys look tired and after another left hand from Amirkhani he shoots for the takedown and secures it. Amirkhani heavy on top again, but Kirk throws up another triangle that just can’t get locked up. Kirk gets him back up to the feet but Amirkhani keeps hold of him and drags him down to the mat again, but this time Kirk reverses it and ends up on top. Kirk throwing body shots from the top as Amirkhani just holding him down to stall for time. Kirk postures up and lands a big left hand and the round ends with a stalemate for position. Super close fight, honestly could go either way.

Muslim Salikhov def Francisco Trinaldo via Decision (30-27 x3)

Very tense opening to this fight as both men throw out lots of feints and feelers early on, with Trinaldo coming forward. Salikhov throws a beautiful body kick that slaps, but Trinaldo rushes forward and lands a nice left hand in response. Salikhov taking his time and trying to counter, lands a big overhand right after missing with a left hook and then throwing a big body kick again. Trinaldo coming forward in bursts again and lands a nice left hand to the chin. Salikhov throws a leg kick but it gets checked and then follows up with a big left uppercut that drops Trinaldo! He follows up with some big ground and pound but Trinaldo stays calm on his back and sees it out until the bell. Whew! 10-9 Salikhov.

Good start from Trinaldo in the second round as he comes forward again and bull-rushes Salikhov, landing a nice right hand. Salikhov looks for the uppercut again that just misses, but then follows up with a couple of right hands himself that do land. Trinaldo lands a nice left hand before Salikhov lands a huge right hook that wobbles Trinaldo again! Trinaldo swings some huge punches after he recovers but Salikhov slips them all and lands some nice right hands of his own in between to really start piecing Trinaldo up. Salikhov is seeing the punches coming now and slipping then countering as he throws Trinaldo to the ground. 20-18 Salikhov but Trinaldo is still in this fight.

Final round and Trinaldo comes out swinging once again, but Salikhov counters with a left hook and gets a big eye poke for his troubles. After a pause in the action Trinaldo comes forward and lands a big left hand to that eye that wobbles him. Salikhov responds with a body kick and leg kick, but Trinaldo continues to come forward and look for that big left hand. Salikhov lands a nice leg kick and pushes Trinaldo to the ground at the same time, then eats up some time with a few leg kicks to his grounded opponent too. The referee stands him up and Trinaldo continues to come forward again as we enter the final minute as Salikhov lands a nice straight right hand. Big left hand from Trinaldo forces Salikhov to change levels and dump Trinaldo to the mat to see out the final 30 seconds and surely claim a win. 29-28 Salikhov for me.

Ilir Latifi def Tanner Boser via Split Decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28)

Boser taking the centre early on and being the aggressor with some head kick attempts. Latifi just circling on the outside as Boser bounces around and feints some strikes, before another kick attempt gets caught and Latifi puts him on the mat immediately. Latifi works from guard into side control and looks to grind, but Boser is able to swivel his hips and explode back to his feet. Boser steps in with some nice jabs and a left straight but Latifi looking to clinch up every time. Boser lands another big jab and throws another two kicks to see out the round. Tough to score to be honest but I lean to Boser.

Latifi looking to punch his way in early in the second round, stepping forward with a nice overhand right. Boser responds with good foot work and his jab, slipping Latifi’s big punches and just piecing him up rather than landing bombs of his own. Boser steps forward and lands a big right hand that makes Latifi go down holding his eye, but the referee doesn’t step in and Boser goes for the kill! Huge ground and pound strikes against the cage but Latifi defends himself well and eventually clinches up. He shoots for a takedown but Boser defends it and goes for his jabs once again to end the round. 20-18 Boser for me.

Final round and Boser steps out with his jabs again but Latifi goes for an early takedown this time and gets it. Straight into Boser’s guard and this time Latifi is throwing some ground and pound strikes with heavy top pressure, stopping Boser from doing anything significant from his back. More grinding ground and pound from Latifi for almost two minutes at the end of the round and it’s his round but I think Boser will get the nod. 29-28 Boser for me.

*TOM BREESE VS ANTONIO ARROYO CANCELLED DUE TO A MEDICAL ISSUE FOR BREESE*

MAIN CARD

Montana De La Rosa def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:27)

Very patient start to the fight from both women, as Lipski using some feints as De La Rosa keeps the distance short. A few kick attempts from Lipski but eventually De La Rosa closes the distance, secure a body lock and gets Lipski to the ground. De La Rosa stays heavy on top and works her way to full guard where she starts raining down elbows and cuts Lipski wide open to the side of her eye. Lipski not doing much to get up and De La Rosa is able to just land big strikes at will here as the round ends. 10-9 De La Rosa.

Second round and Lipski lands a big right hand immediately, but De La Rosa shoots and gets the takedown perfectly in response. De La Rosa is able to slide into side control and has Lipski against the cage, keeping her in a really tough position and landing those big elbow strikes once again. Lipski is threatening with a kimura but it doesn’t have much hope and then De La Rosa slides into full mount and starts raining down huge elbows and punches. Lipski trying to roll away but De La Rosa refuses to let her and just keeps thumping away until the referee steps in and ends it! Huge win for De La Rosa!

Gregory Rodrigues def Dusko Todorovic via Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A super start to the fight from the UFC newcomer as Rodrigues steps forward and is landing his power jab well. Rodrigues firing his right straight perfectly too and is catching Todorovic clean very, very often. A clinch up against the cage sees Rodrigues with a judo throw put Todorovic down, but he gets back up to his feet immediately. More crisp right hands land from Rodrigues as Todorovic just eats them, but he’s walking back with his chin high. Todorovic lands a nice right hand of his own to see out the round but that’s a Rodrigues round clearly. 10-9.

Rodrigues coming out aggressive in the second round and finding a home for that right hand over and over again. Some digs to the body from Rodrigues and another big right hand, before a power double leg secures him a takedown too. Todorovic tries to get up using the cage and eats a knee to he head but is able to get away. Rodrigues lands a big straight right hand on the chin again as Todorovic steps forward and throws a little flurry. Final minute and Rodrigues slips a punch and lands a beautiful left-hook, right hand combo. 20-18 Rodrigues, but he’s start to slow down a little.

Third and final round and Todorovic looks like he’s still trying to make reads. Good jab lands twice and forces Rodrigues backwards, but he replies with another big right hand that lands flush. Rodrigues goes for a takedown but Todorovic defends it well this time. Rodrigues steps forward again and lands some big combinations and then eats a jab for his trouble. Rodrigues lands a big right hand once more and then goes to the body, but Todorovic replies with a nice left hand of his own. Into the final 30 seconds and Todorovic lands some great body shows but eats another right hand. Todorovic goes for the takedown at the end of the round but the buzzer goes and it should be a win for the newcomer.

Santiago Ponzinibbio def Miguel Baeza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast paced start to this one as Ponzinibbio takes the centre of the cage and looks to land some jabs and his right hand as backs Baeza up against the fence. Baeza responding with his kicks, throwing a lot of heavy leg kicks to the lead leg and throwing his right hand behind it. Baeza blasting those calf kicks and forcing Ponzinibbio backwards, and then he lands a nice left-right hand combo. Ponzinibbio comes forward again and lands a nice left hand but Baeza is throwing more and more leg kicks and they’re really totalling up now. Big flurry from Ponzinibbio at the end of the round lands a couple of strikes but ultimately that’s a Baeza round. 10-9.

Fantastic start to the round from Baeza as he targets the calf kicks once again. Baeza lands three body kicks in a row and as Ponzinibbio throws a jab he gets kicked in the calf once again. Big overhand right from Baeza wobbles Ponzinibbio but Baeza stays calm and doesn’t go straight for the kill. Ponzinibbio throws a few calf kicks of his own and a nice right hand but Baeza then goes back to work with the leg kicks. Ponzinibbio starting to land his jab a lot more now as he comes forward with a big flurry of strikes. Ponzinibbio coming forward constantly and is landing lots of strikes in the second half of this round with big combinations to end the round. 19-19.

Fast start to the final round too as Ponzinibbio steps forward again and they trade jabs. Baeza lands two leg kicks again then follows with a right hand that staggers Ponzinibbio. The Argentine continues to come forward with the lead jab and is now throwing a right hand behind it, but Baeza retaliates with a nice right hand combo to the head and body. Ponzinibbio lands a huge flurry and Baeza is hurt, but Baeza lands two right hands and hurts Ponzinibbio right back! Body kick from Baeza before a left hook lands from Ponzinibbio! Both men trade huge leg kicks and exchange wild hooks. Big uppercut from Baeza but Ponzinibbio lands a big one-two, followed by a Baeza right hand again. Both men spend the final 30 seconds going absolutely crazy with hooks and power punches, with Ponzinibbio getting the better of the exchange to end the round! What a fight! 29-28 Ponzinibbio for me.

Roman Dolidze def Laureano Starapoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Staropoli comes out very early and very quickly with a solid body kick, followed by two heavy leg kicks. He goes for a head kick that misses and Dolidze immediately shoots in for a takedown. Staropoli gets to his feet against the cage but Dolidze keeps a body lock and drags Staropoli down over and over again for almost the full round. A few knees to the thigh from Dolidze but otherwise a pretty dull round. 10-9 Dolidze.

Second round starts with an immediate power double leg from Dolidze who gets the fight down momentarily before they end up against the cage once again, in the same way as they did the first round. Staropoli eventually is able to spin away and get away from the grip of Dolidze and then lands a couple of kicks again. Big left uppercut from Staropoli lets Dolidze change levels and get another takedown. More clinching against the cage as Staropoli tries to escape and finally he does, before going for a takedown of his own and the same stalemate occurring again. 20-18 Dolidze.

Third and final round and we see more of the same from both fighters, with Staropoli unable to get his striking game going at all because of Dolidze’s strength whenever he gets close. Dolidze holding him against the cage throughout and any spec of danger is evaded. 30-27 Dolidze, next please.

Marcin Tybura def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)

Fast start to the round from Harris as he comes forward with intent and starts throwing bombs early. Huge rights and lefts from Harris landing clean but Tybura still standing and wobbling. Harris tries to clinch and goes for knees, then throws a flurry of hooks that drops Tybura again. He goes for a finish but Tybura drives forward for a takedown and gets it against the cage. Harris does well but then Tybura catches a kick and sweeps the leg to get on top. He transitions to the back and puts one hook in, working for a rear naked choke. He then starts landing heavy strikes that are having a big effect on Harris and eventually the referee steps in and ends the fight! Huge knockout win for Tybura!

Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Slow start to this one as Rozenstruik takes the centre and flicks out a leg kick or two, but generally both guys just feeling each other out for now. Another leg kick is matched by Sakai this time and then goes for another but Rozenstruik catches it and just misses with a counter right hand. Sakai throws a right hand that misses and Rozenstruik fires back with an overhand that whistles past Sakai. Rozenstruik backs Sakai against the cage and throws a flurry of shots but Sakai defends well. He does it again and this time lands a left hook right hand and Sakai is down! He lands a couple of follow ups just before the horn goes but it’s all over! Huge win!

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for an extra long card headlined by the big boys as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai in the main event.

Rozenstruik was on a tear in the division but has lost two of his last three fights, but knows a win over Sakai will keep him in the conversation for a potential title shot in the future.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 27 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to go up to 321/505 (63.56%) with 139 perfect picks (43.3%).

We’ll look to improve that here on this huge 14 fight card and having started with the early prelims and completed the prelim picks here, here’s the picks for the main card.


Tom Breese (12-3) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun middleweight scrap to open the main card as Tom Breese and Antonio Arroyo both look to get back into the win column. Breese is 1-2 since 2020, knocking out KB Bhullar at UFC Fight Island 5 in between stoppage losses to Brendan Allen and Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Island 8 in January this year. Arroyo on the other hand has lost two-in-a-row, dropping decisions to both Andre Muniz and Deron Winn.

Breese is a powerhouse of a striker with good takedowns and fantastic jiu-jitsu from the top, but on his back he almost seems to freeze against anyone who can get him there. Arroyo is also a grappler but he has really struggled since coming into the UFC and has completely frozen every time he’s got in the octagon.

Breese is in a bit of a rut right now but his skillset is far too well rounded to be caused problems by Arroyo and he should win this one pretty comfortably.
PICK – Tom Breese via Submission, Round 2

Dusko Todorovic (10-1) vs Gregory Rodrigues (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A short notice middleweight clash as Dusko Todorovic looks to put the first defeat of his career behind him when he takes on replacement opponent Gregory Rodrigues. Todorovic had won ten in a row heading into UFC Fight Island 8, where he was knocked out in the first round by Punahele Soriano. Rodrigues replaed Maki Pitolo on a two-fight win streak, having won his last fight just two weeks ago.

Todorovic is a good kickboxer with some decent kicks but really good straight punches and power. An issue he has however is that he often steps out of exchanges with his hands low and chin high, which could allow for the powerful Rodrigues to cause an upset. The Brazilian is a solid striker himself but he also some good grappling skills to work with and Todorovic on the ground isn’t something we’ve seen much, if any, of.

The short notice nature of the bout makes Todorovic a wide favourite, simply because he has good combinations and hand speed and is at his best when pressuring opponents. Rodrigues could catch him with a big overhand, but the most likely option is Todorovic gets a win with a big blitz.
PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1

Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4) vs Miguel Baeza (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An epic welterweight fight in this one as fan favourite Ponzinibbio looks to get back into the win column against the undefeated Miguel Baeza. Ponzinibbio returned after over two years away just to get knocked out in round one of his comeback by Jingliang Li at UFC Fight Island 7, while Baeza’s last fight was a submission win over Takashi Sato.

Ponzinibbio is a brilliant striker, with huge power in his legs and hands and real explosive power. He’s also a more than decent grappler, but he’s got nothing on Baeza when it comes to the ground game. Baeza is a tremendous grappler but also has exceptional power on the feet as shown by his seven knockout wins in his career. The old version of Ponzinibbio would have won this fight no question, but the version who fought Li is likely to lose.

Baeza has had trouble against guys who force him backwards, which Ponzinibbio will likely do, but he’s got such big knockout power in his hands that you have to now question ‘Gente Boa’s’ chin. It’s going to be one-sided, but it completely depends on which Ponzinibbio turns up and after so long away, I just don’t think the old version exists anymore.
PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2

Roman Dolidze (8-1) vs Laureano Staropoli (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another highly entertaining middleweight clash on this card of big men as Roman Dolidze looks to get back to winning ways against Laureano Staropoli. Dolidze suffered the first defeat of his career when he dropped a decision to Trevin Giles at UFC Vegas 22, while Staropoli has lost his last two to Muslim Salikhov and Tim Means at UFC Vegas 6.

Dolidze is a solid wrestler, who looks to get takedowns and secure top position as much as possible before landing his good ground and pound game, while Staropoli is a man who prefers to stand and strike if he has the option. It’s a real clash of styles, but there is a big size difference between the two. Dolidze was fighting at 205lbs not long ago while Staropoli has fought at 170lbs in the past and that could be a big factor here.

Staropoli has the striking advantage, but Dolidze will be able to get hold of him and get him down to the ground for long spells of control and a decision victory.
PICK – Roman Dolidze via Decision

Walt Harris (13-9 1NC) vs Marcin Tybura (21-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A banger at heavyweight in the co-main event as ‘Big Ticket’ Walt Harris looks to get back in the win column against Marcin Tybura. Harris was knocked out by Alistair Overeem last year before Alexander Volkov outclassed him and stopped in in round two at UFC 254. Tybura is on a four-fight win streak after beating Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin at UFC 251, Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Island 5 and Greg Hardy at UFC Vegas 17.

Harris is as much a first-round heavyweight that there is in the UFC. He’s got incredible power in his hands, winning all 13 of his victories via knockout, and has a relatively poor gas tank considering the level he fights at. Tybura on the other hand is a tidy striker with good techniques and some leg kicks too, but a fantastic gas tank and really good takedowns too.

This was just a weird fight to make in the first place considering their recent records, but it’s also one of those that is quite lopsided stylistically too. Tybura can piece him up on the feet or take him down and land ground and pound to get a comfortable win.
PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) vs Augusto Sakai (15-2-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight main event that sets up the cushion for those in the heavyweight title picture as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai. Rozenstruik is 1-2 in his last three, getting starched by Francis Ngannou before a big win over Junior Dos Santos and defeat to Ciryl Gane most recently. Sakai had won six-in-a-row before his last fight, getting knocked out and dominated by Alistair Overeem.

Rozenstruik is an excellent, technical kickboxer with some legitimate one-punch knockout power in his arsenal too. Sakai is also a big, powerful striker and his biggest problems have come against guys who have grappled him and closed the distance. Rozenstruik won’t do that, but he’s without doubt the more technical striker of the two and I’d argue he has the power advantage too.

Both of these guys have big power but while I’m not totally sold on Rozenstruik as a top level guy in this division, he is better than Sakai for me and I expect him to get a spectacular knockout win here once again.
PICK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Knockout, Round 3

Jairzinho Rozenstruik wants to stay among the title conversation with win over Augusto Sakai

For the first time in several years the UFC’s heavyweight division is actually pretty exciting.

After years of Stipe Miocic dominating the top of the division and fighting once or twice a year, followed by three years or Miocic vs Daniel Cormier, we finally have some sort of contender queue.

Francis Ngannou is the man reigning over the division currently, following his stunning knockout win over Miocic in March at UFC 260. But there is a backlog of fighters ready to step up if called upon.

Jon Jones is at the head of the table, ready to make his division debut if a financial package can be agreed among all parties. That seems unlikely right now, which puts Derrick Lewis as the most likely man to fight ‘The Predator’ in his first title defence.

Beyond those, you have Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov who are on impressive win streaks and are set to meet each other next month in a huge top five clash. Then you have Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who had been on a tear until Ngannou turned his lights out at UFC 249.

Having won four-in-a-row from his debut onwards by knockout, including former champion Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, Rozenstruik was KO’d inside 20 seconds by the now-champion. He bounced back from that with a knockout win over another former champion in Junior Dos Santos, before being outclassed by Gane in his last bout.

Now though he steps into another main event where he knows a win gets him back into the conversation for a fight with the guys currently in the title picture.

He’s currently in that limbo period of his career where he’s beating the guys under the elite fighters, but losing to the elites. Overeem and Dos Santos are the biggest wins of his career and neither are part of the UFC roster anymore, which tells you where they were in their careers.

He fights Augusto Sakai next, who has beaten the likes of Arlovski, Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov since joining the UFC. But he was absolutely battered by Overeem last time out and looked well out of his depth.

If Rozenstruik gets beaten, he’s well and truly out of the conversation for now. Sakai doesn’t have the appeal of Rozenstruik to make a push for the title himself but can elevate his reputation, whereas the Surinamese kickboxer can really stamp himself on the division to prove he belongs with the top guys and the top guys only.

He’s by no means at the front of the queue with a win, regardless of how spectacular or impressive his performance is. But it will show the UFC that they can’t keep matching him against guys that are also trying to build up to the title, because he deserves to be higher up in the food chain than to act as a gatekeeper so early in his career.

A win likely matches him up with the loser of the title fight or Volkov should he lose to Gane and he’s got a way to go to actually have a legitimate claim to the belt, but it keeps him in the conversation and that’s the best thing for him right now.

UFC Vegas 20 Fallout – Gane dominates but fails to shine

The heavyweight showreel is over for another month after back-to-back main events for the big boys and this time it was Ciryl Gane who came away with his name in the win column.

The Frenchman extended his record to 8-0 with a dominant yet unspectacular win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, jabbing his way to a unanimous 50-45 decision win which saw no knockdowns in the 25 minutes it ran.

The pressure was on Rozenstruik coming into the fight, having only lost once in his career in a 20 second knockout to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249 in April 2020. He was the big hitter of the two and had stated he “needed to put him [Gane] down” in the build up to the bout. Instead, he was gun shy throughout and after the fight described it as the worst performance of his career.

Gane was hardly spectacular himself, earning the win but not many plaudits aside from that. The consensus G.O.A.T Jon Jones chimed in during the fight ahead of his upcoming move to heavyweight, criticising the performance of both fighters.

Jones took to social media to voice his thoughts saying, “these boys better get used to pushing the pace, all this standing around ain’t gonna fly when daddy comes home.”

Jones is expected to be the challenger for the heavyweight title against the winner of the Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou fight at UFC 260 next month, but Gane threw his name into the hat should something happen to that main event in the build up.

“I think the people like a man like me. Young, a little experience but I manage it very well. I’m undefeated. I think I’m only one undefeated in the rankings. So yes, I think I’m legit.

β€œSo I want to say to everybody, yes, if for the [title fight] next month, if someone is injured, I’m here. No problem.

While he probably didn’t earn many new fans with the win over Rozenstruik due to the unspectacular nature of it, credit should be given to him. He is now 8-0 in his career and 5-0 in the UFC, meaning he has the longest win streak of anyone in the heavyweight division.

A title shot is probably premature, but the victory should see him enter the top five of the rankings and could potentially set up a fight against Alexander Volkov to see who could take on the winner of the eventual fight between Jones and the winner of Miocic/Ngannou.

He showed he could go five rounds against a top ranked heavyweight and nullify their attacks, but as he climbs the rankings those fighters are less and less likely to be as punch-shy as Rozenstruik was and he will be need to show that he can deal with that also.