The UFC returns to the Apex arena for another UFC Vegas card, headlined this time by huge lightweight contenders as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev in the main event.
The number seven ranked 155-pounder takes on the number 11 ranked 155-pounder, but they’re backed up by a solid card this weekend including one UFC debutant and a list of experienced talent too.
Last time out at UFC 276 e went 8/11 (we don’t count no contests) with two perfect picks, moving us to 649/1009 (64.32%) with 279 perfect picks (42.99%). You can check out our total picks history here.
Michael Johnson (21-17) vs Jamie Mullarkey (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight. Johnson snapped a four-fight losing streak with a huge knockout win over Alan Patrick in his most recent bout, while Mullarkey saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he was KO’d by Jalin Turner at UFC 272.
Johnson is a power puncher who has got an excellent wrestling background, but he uses speed and low kicks to set up his big overhand right and boxing combinations. Mullarkey alternatively is a brawler with incredible power and good combinations, but he also has the ability to mix in takedowns in his fights too. They’re similar stylistically, but at very different places in their careers.
Mullarkey should be very confident coming into this fight. Johnson is still a super powerful fighter but he’s not as quick as he once was and nowhere near as durable as he was. That means when they get into the exchanges in close quarters, Mullarkey will land flush and likely put Johnson down. From there I expect him to get the finish and likely put an end to The Menace’s career. PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 2
Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs Nina Nunes (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight bout up next in the final women’s bout of the night. Calvillo started her flyweight career with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 2), but has since lost three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255) via decision and then getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade (UFC 266) and a corner stoppage at the end of the second round against Andrea Lee most recently. Nunes on the other hand has lost her last two, with an armbar defeat to Mackenzie Dern most recently in her first bout since becoming a mother.
Calvillo tends to use her striking to set up her wrestling, using her top game to stay heavy on the opponent and land ground and pound strikes. Nunes is an all-rounder who is capable of striking and using her grappling to win fights, but she lacks power and isn’t a natural grappler either.
With that said, Calvillo has really struggled in this weight class. Nunes’ footwork and speed is something that has caused Calvillo problems in previous bouts but Nunes was outwrestled most recently and Calvillo is a strong wrestler. Despite that though, I expect a Nunes win. Her strengths outweigh her weaknesses in relation to her opponent and she should be able to bounce around the cage enough to nullify the wrestling and land some solid strikes to earn the win. PICK – Nina Nunes via Decision
Jared Vanderaa (12-8) vs Chase Sherman (15-10) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights on losing streaks clash in this one. Vanderaa has lost his last three, getting KO’d by Alexandr Romanov, dropping a split decision to Andrei Arlovski (UFC 271) and getting submitted by Aleksei Oleinik (UFC 273). Sherman on the other hand has lost his last four, dropping decisions to Arlovski and Parker Porter before getting submitted by Jake Collier (UFC Vegas 46) and Romanov.
Vanderaa has a good mixture of grappling and striking, but it’s not at a high level. He tends to use volume more than power, while Sherman is your typical heavyweight who has a big right hand and does all he can to set it up. This won’t be an entertaining fight and I’d be surprised if it didn’t go the full 15 minutes.
Sherman will look to counter with his boxing and land his big right hand, but Vanderaa moves better and should be able to pick him apart from range while mixing in and threatening with takedowns too. Vanderaa should earn the win on the cards in a fight nobody will remember in the morning. PICK – Jared Vanderaa via Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (28-4) vs Said Nurmagomedov (15-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An unbelievable fight in the bantamweight division up next. Andrade is on a two-fight win streak after KO’ing Gaetano Pirrello and then submitting Sergey Mozorov last time out. Nurmagomedov has also won his last two fights, KO’ing Mark Striegl (UFC Fight Island 6) before submitting Cody Stamann (UFC 270) most recently.
Andrade is an unbelievably powerful striker with brilliant technique and also excellent grappling skills to fall back on too, although he does prefer to get into a war and turn his opponent’s lights out. Nurmagomedov is a super well-rounded fighter too who uses his brilliant technique to mix up striking and grappling attacks, making him dangerous no matter what.
Nurmagomedov’s biggest advantage in this fight is his speed and his cardio. He is capable of going at full tilt for the full 15 minutes, while Andrade tends to fade away as the fight goes on. Of course Andrade could catch him with one of those heavy strikes and end the night early, but I expect Nurmagomedov to be able to use his length to land big and piece Andrade up to claim a massive victory. PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Caio Borralho (11-1) vs Armen Petrosyan (7-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger between two prospects in the middleweight division next. Borralho is on an eight-fight win streak including a technical decision win in his UFC debut last time out, while Petrosyan has won his last three in a row including a split decision win over Gregory Rodrigues in his UFC debut last time out.
Both of these guys are excellent strikers, with Petrosyan having supreme technique and excellent power with six of his seven career wins coming via knockout. Borralho on the other hand is also a talented grappler, who will look to time the strikes of Petrosyan to get under him and use his jiu-jitsu skills to control the Armenian.
Neither of these guys really deserve to be in a co-main event at this point of their career, but it’s a really fun fight for sure. On the feet Petrosyan has the advantage with technique, speed and power, but eventually Borralho will need to use volume and pressure to close distance and try to get the fight to the ground. Once there Borralho should be able to control him and work his way to the neck to claim a big submission win. PICK – Caio Borralho via Submission, Round 2
Rafael Dos Anjos (31-13) vs Rafael Fiziev (11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Absolute banger of a main event finally takes place at the third time of asking. Dos Anjos has won his last two since returning to lightweight, beating Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14) and Renato Moicano (UFC 272) via decision in dominant performances. Fiziev has won his last five, with a spinning wheel kick KO over Brad Riddell most recently at UFC Vegas 44.
Dos Anjos is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the entire division, with excellent wrestling and grappling to go with his solid boxing combinations and incredible cardio. Fiziev is as pure a striker as they come, but his takedown defence is pretty good and his ability to scramble to his feet when he does go down is good too. Fiziev is the favourite in this bout, but stylistically this could be a tough bout for him.
The Brazilian has a big advantage in the grappling areas, but he’s also capable of holding his own in the striking realm. He’s still sharp despite his age and he’s been fighting five-round fights for a lot of his career, while this is Fiziev’s first ever five-round bout. RDA will use trips, grappling and experience to slow down the striking ability of Fiziev and I think he’ll be able to control him on the mat to earn a win as the underdog. PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision
A super highly anticipated grudge match main event at UFC 272 is finally upon us as Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will clash in the welterweight division.
‘Chaos’ and ‘Gamebred’ will finally settle their very personal differences in the octagon after their friendship went sour several years ago, but while fans are hoping for a scrap it could actually be a bit of a mistmatch.
We’ll also see a five-round co-main event that was put together on short-notice as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Renato Moicano at a 160-pound catchweight.
The last time we made picks was at UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill a couple of weeks ago and we did pretty well, going 9/12 with three perfect picks to move to 548/852 (64.32%) with 234 perfect picks (42.7%).
Check out our full record for our predictions to date here.
Maryna Moroz (10-3) vs Mariya Agapova (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun bout in the women’s flyweight division opens up the prelims of this card. Moroz hasn’t fought for almost two years, but won her last two fights while Agapova earned a rear-naked choke win over Sabina Mazo at UFC Vegas 39 in her last time out.
Moroz is a primary boxer, who has got credentials as a national boxing champion and boxing coach in her homeland. Agapova on the other hand is also a strong striker, but she has really developed her grappling game in recent years to really round out her game. Her cardio has been a problem in the past, because he style is do-or-die and she tries to fly through her opponents as quickly as possible.
She does have a pretty big advantage when it comes to the grappling game, and she’s also arguably more powerful on the feet, but Moroz is the more skilled fighter when it comes to the striking department. But with two years out, plus the grappling advantage for Agapova, I expect the younger fighter to be able to claim a win and maybe even a finish via ground-and-pound. PICK – Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 2
Nicolae Negumereanu (11-1) vs Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An intriguing light heavyweight fight up next between two guys currently in purgatory between the rankings and the rubbish. Negumereanu has won his last two, earning a split decision over Aleksa Camur at UFC Vegas 29 before a KO against Isaac Villanueva at UFC Vegas 41, while Nzechukwu was KO’d violently by Da Un Jung at UFC Vegas 42 last time out. He steps in on one months notice for this bout.
Negumereanu is a good wrestler, who looks to press forward for takedowns and then try and earn points on the ground with control and ground and pound. Nzechukwu is a good defensive wrestler with some solid cardio and boxing when attacking, plus a good chin. If his chin has recovered from his KO loss last time out, then he should win this fight relatively comfortably.
Despite his slower starts, his volume is usually enough to keep fighters away and he is also a much bigger fighter in the cage. He has a big height and reach advantage, as well as power and striking. If Negumereanu is able to get the fight down he’ll have a good chance, but I think Nzechukwu should claim the win here from distance. PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision
Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2) vs Yan Xiaonan (13-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A potential title eliminator in the women’s strawweight division here. Marina Rodriguez is on a brilliant three-fight win streak, with a KO over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 before main event decision wins against Michelle Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 26 and Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 39. Xiaonan on the other hand saw a six-fight win streak in the UFC snapped by Carla Esparza last time out at UFC Vegas 27 when she got KO’d.
Rodriguez is a sensational boxer with excellent takedown defence, solid cardio and really good power in her hands too. Xiaonan on the other hand is also a very positive striker with good power speed. It’s highly unlikely that either of these fighters will be going for takedowns here, so keep your eyes peeled on this one.
Xiaonan is basically coming up against a bigger version of herself, who also has good skills in the clinch and that’s why I’ve got Rodriguez to win this. She’s just as quick but also more powerful, has more variety from range and has a size advantage. I expect it to be relatively close, but Rodriguez will land the more noticeable shots and claim the decision win. PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Decision
Jalin Turner (11-5) vs Jamie Mullarkey (14-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A super fun lightweight fight in the featured prelim bout of the night. Turner is on a three-fight finishing streak with a knockout over Josh Culibao before submission wins against Brok Weaver and then Uros Medic at UFC 266 most recently. Mullarkey on the other hand is on a two-fight KO streak himself, beating Khama Worthy at UFC 260 and then stopped Devonte Smith at UFC Vegas 38 most recently.
Turner is a rangy power puncher with some improved wrestling in recent fights, while Mullarkey looks to bully his way into range and then fire off his cement blocks called hands to KO his opponents. Combined, these two fighters have managed 18 career wins via knockout, so expect someone to go to sleep in this one.
Turner has a big size advantage with this one and arguably hits harder than anyone else Mullarkey has faced off against. If Mullarkey looks to come forward as recklessly as he has in the past, then his chin will be tested like never before. He doesn’t have the wrestling to lean on either because of Turner’s improvements and because of the range advantage, I expect him to land heavy sooner and claim a big knockout win. PICK – Jalin Turner via Knockout, Round 1
Interesting start to the bout as Perez comes out with a weird, bouncing stance and Eduardo lights him up with three heavy low kicks early on. Perez stops the bouncing and lands a few jabs but Eduardo responding with leg kicks again but not much volume from either guy so far. Eduardo lands a nice combination to the body and then head, but Perez responds with a heavy left hook that immediately gets the attention of Eduardo. Almost a pedestrian pace to the fight currently, with Eduardo landing another very heavy leg kick. Perez fires a right straight that grazes the chin, but Eduardo controlling the range and pace and despite the lack of action he’s ahead in the round for me. Eduardo lands a nice right hook to the chin as we enter the final 30 seconds of the round and that’s that. 10-9 Eduardo.
Eduardo opens up the round with two more very heavy leg kicks inside the first ten seconds. Perez goes for a blitz but misses and then eats a spinning heel kick to the body. Perez goes to charge with a blitz again but Eduardo does well to avoid for the most part, clinch and secure a takedown and top position. Perez ties Eduardo up well initially before bouncing back to his feet quickly. Perez lands two big right hands and steps up the aggression to land a few more strikes himself. Eduardo throws a big left hand that lands too, before Perez shoots in for a takedown and ends up on top himself. Two big strikes from the top by Perez and as Eduardo looks to get up Perez grabs for his neck but Eduardo rolls to his back. Perez scrambles for the back and ends up in side control. He has a side headlock and takes Eduardo’s arm, slides it between his legs and secures an armbar! Eduardo can’t deal with the pressure and taps!! Big win for Perez!
Stephanie Egger def Shanna Young via Knockout, Round 2 (2:22)
Egger comes out and takes the centre early on, throwing some nice straight right hands to keep the range and pose a threat. Young goes with a blitz and puts a blind kick behind it which Egger catches, and she tries for a trip but Young defends it well. Egger lands a nice one-two but it seems to wake Young up a bit and she starts applying more forward pressure. Few strikes land and then Young goes to clinch but Egger throws her down immediately and is almost in full mount. Young defends it with a leg lock attempt and after defending it well Egger is able to stack her and start landing some big ground and pound strikes from standing and side control. Egger landing big elbows from the top but Young survives the round. 10-9 Egger.
Another good start to the round for Egger as she takes the centre and throws some big right hands again. Young starts to come forward and lands a few good strikes in a blitz but Egger grabs hold of her and immediately hip tosses Young to the ground. Big elbows and ground and pound from Egger and Young is hurt. Egger stands and the referee stops the fight!? Bit of a weird stoppage there. Great performance from Egger though.
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Gaetano Pirrello via Knockout, Round 1 (2:04)
Pirrello hanging on the outside and throws a couple of hard leg kicks early on with Andrade taking the centre and just feinting a lot. Andrade steps forward and lands a big right hand and follows it up with a couple more shots before they clinch up and separate. Andrade lands a left hand and then a jab to the body, while Pirrello looks for his range. Pirrello goes for a head kick but Andrade counters with a check left hook and puts Pirrello OUT!!! A few hammer fists before the referee gets there but what a KO that is!
Jamie Mullarkey def Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2 (2:51)
Nice even start to the fight for both guys as they trade feints and short jabs, with Mullarkey mixing in a low kick. Smith lands a clean one-two down the pipe and follows up with a couple of attempts but Mullarkey smiles at him. Mullarkey throws another hard leg kick but Smith fires back with two nice left hooks and then a huge right hand again that rocks him! He goes for a combination and jus misses with a big knee up the middle too. Nice jab from Smith and a big one-two behind it again before a big knee lands from Smith and rocks Mullarkey! Smith lands a head kick partially but Mullarkey is still in front of him and throwing those low kicks, then just misses with a big one-two. Smith’s speed a clear advantage as he lands a few more strikes but Mullarkey smothers him and gets a takedown late on in the round, lands some ground and pound before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Smith.
Strong start to the round again from Mullarkey as he steps forward early and takes the centre. Heavy low kick from Mullarkey again and it gets a big reaction from Smith who looks hurt from it. Mullarkey throws another as Smith gets on his bike and starts moving away. Mullarkey pushing the pace like a mad man and clinches up with some big knees to the body. Mullarkey keeps throwing knees and then rips two big hooks to the body that makes Smith cover up. An uppercut and hook to the head then back to the body and Smith drops! Mullarkey hits some strikes on the ground and the referee stops it! Huge win for Mullarkey! Impressive performance!
Karol Rosa def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Rosa makes a dominant start to this bout as she takes the centre, slips a jab and lands a right hand. Rosa gets a Thai clinch early and lands some big knees to the body and Correia responds with a hook that misses. Rosa staying patient in the centre before coming for more knees again. Nice one-two lands clean from Rosa before a nice body kick and another one-two. Rosa being so patient and sliding out of the way of all Correia’s attacks, then jumps in with a flying knee straight to the face that Correia just eats. Rosa pops out her jab twice and starts cutting the cage off, but Correia lands a nice right hand. Rosa shoots for a takedown against the cage but Correia defends it well and sees out the round. 10-9 Rosa.
Correia takes the centre early this time around but Rosa throwing her jab well once again and landing with ease. Nice left jab a few more times and then Correia tries to charge her and eats a massive knee to the nose! Rosa lands a nice one-two again and Correia goes back to the outside and circles, but Rosa staying patient and firing in right hands behind her jab. Rosa staying out of range until she’s ready to engage. Big knee to the body from Rosa again and she’s upping the pace now, landing some combinations to the head too and forcing Correia backwards. Correia clinches up against the cage but eats a big knee to the body and an elbow to the face twice for good measure. Rosa just misses with another big elbow as the separate, but she lands a nice right hook when they engage again. Rosa lands another flying knee and big elbow but Correia manages to survive the round. 20-18 Rosa.
Rosa coming out nice and aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, with knees to the body again and solid right hooks behind it. Correia is still there though and trading with her as she lands a nice right hand of her own. Rosa fires back with a jab followed with a low kick and yet another running knee into the body with a right hook behind it. Rosa staying patient again with her jab, low kicks and right hand at the end of combinations. Both women trade low kicks and Correia lands a right hand, but Rosa goes back to the step-in knee before they clinch against the cage with a minute to go. They separate again and Rosa lands another one of her knees to the body before they clinch up again. Correia goes for a takedown but Rosa reverses it and ends the round with ground and pound strikes. 30-27, dominant win.
Casey O’Neill def Antonina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 2 (4:47)
Very fast and aggressive start to the fight from O’Neill who puts the pressure on immediately. O’Neill lands a nice right hand but Shevchenko replies well with a one-two after a warning about out-stretched fingers from the referee. O’Neill changes levels and looks for the takedown but Shevchenko ends up on top and gets her in a crucifix position landing big ground and pound strikes. O’Neill escapes but Shevchenko is landing nice strikes on the feet whenever she counters. O’Neill changes levels again and finally takes Shevchenko down and is in a dominant position in half guard. O’Neill landing some nice ground strikes but Shevchenko gets it back to full-guard before eventually getting back to her feet with 30 seconds left in the round. O’Neill catches a kick and gets Shevchenko back on the ground to end the round on top. Tough to call, but I’d probably lean 10-9 to O’Neill.
Even start to this round as O’Neill gets the pressure going again and Shevchenko looks to counter strike from range. Clinch against the cage and Shevchenko lands some nice knees again before they separate, then O’Neill lands a left hand and then changes levels and secures a takedown. Shevchenko rolls onto her knees but O’Neill lands some nice strikes and then rolls onto her back and drags her back down with the hooks in. O’Neill looks to pass into full mount and does, then lands a big elbow as she starts to control. Big elbows from top position from O’Neill and Shevchenko gives up her back again. O’Neill goes for a choke but can’t quite get it then continues to land some big elbows! Shevchenko is hurt but O’Neill raining down bombs with her elbows and punches and the referee steps in to end it! What a performance from O’Neill!
Jared Gordon def Joe Solecki via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Very quick start for Solecki as he gets an immediate takedown and moves straight to mount on the ground. Gordon defends well and escapes the position but Solecki landing some good strikes on the ground and controlling the position well. Gordon wall-walks into space but Solecki follows him around and takes the back while landing heavy strikes to the head. Solecki starting to look for the neck but Gordon not panicking. Solecki starting to switch grips for the choke while controlling him completely but Gordon gets back to his feet with 40 seconds to go and is able to get on top himself. Nice elbow from top position by Gordon but that’s the round. Easy 10-9 for Solecki.
Gordon lands two nice strikes early but Solecki changes levels immediately and goes for a takedown once again. Gordon defending it against the cage but Solecki pushing for the takedown again. Gordon lands a nice knee and elbow while defending but Solecki not going anywhere. Gordon throws some elbows before Solecki finally gets the trip and ends up on top. Gordon gets the reversal though and ends up on top himself halfway through and lands some short elbows. Solecki tries to sweetp to get back on top but Gordon defends it well and is landing a few shots on the ground and wearing on him. Gordon prioritising position over damage in that round but he takes it. 19-19.
Composed start to the final round from both guys as they stay standing to begin with. Gordon more comfortable and landing his jab well, but Solecki exploding well and lands a body kick. Nice one-two by Solecki followed by a jab but Gordon starting to force him backwards. Solecki changes levels and comes over the top with a right hand that just misses, before Gordon shoots in for a takedown but Solecki defends it. Both men land a jab before Gordon gets a takedown against the cage, but he allows Solecki up immediately. Clinch in the centre sees Gordon use his strength and lands a couple of knees. Big right hand lands from Solecki and the round ends. I think that’s a 29-28 Gordon but third round is tough to score.
Alexander Hernandez def Mike Breeden via Knockout, Round 1 (1:20)
Very quick start to the fight from Breeden as he steps forward with some hooks and a heavy low kick early on. Hernandez right there with him and returns fire then shoots for a takedown, but Breeden denies him. Hernandez backs up then shoots in again but again he’s denied. Hernandez puts the pressure on him and lands a big one two that hurts Breeden. Hernandez lets the combinations fly and Breeden is covering up. Hernandez blasts his mouthpiece out with a big right hand and keeps going. Breeden fires a left hand but misses and Hernandez smashes a right hand just behind the ear and puts Breeden out cold!!! What a knockout!
Krzysztof Jotko def Misha Cirkunov via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Cirkunov takes the centre early on and steps forward to force Jotko against the cage, before shooting in for a takedown early. Jotko defends it well and gets back to the feet, before another attempt from Cirkunov sees a trip get him down but bounce straight back up. Jotko defending the clinch against the cage before separating and taking the centre. Both guys trade leg kicks and then Cirkunov steps in with a jab, before Jotko lights him up with a nice combination. Cirkunov still keeping the centre but Jotko is moving well and landing his counters well. Cirkunov fakes with a takedown attempt and Jotko clinches with him immediately which allows Cirkunov to get hold of him against the cage until the end of the round. Tough to score, but I lean 10-9 Cirkunov.
Even start once again in this second round as they continue with Cirkunov in the centre and Jotko bouncing around on the outside. Cirkunov goes for a clinch and throws a knee to the body but it’s a bit low and there’s a pause in the action. Nice combination lands from Jotko that ends with a left uppercut, then Cirkunov responds with a low kick. Cirkunov keeps going for clinches and takedowns but Jotko is very easily defending and separating. Hard low kick from Cirkunov to counter a right hand from Jotko. Another clinch and denial before Jotko throws a big knee and that’s the end of the round. Tough to score again, but I’d go 19-19.
Better start to the round for Cirkunov as he finally gets a takedown after changing levels and securing a single leg. Immediate bearhug position on the back and he’s dragging Jotko around and landing big knees to the thighs and back. Jotko explodes up and gets to the feet and tries to land a big elbow, but Cirkunov ducks under it and scores another big takedown. Jotko gets back up quickly though and goes for a takedown of his own before looking to explode with strikes against the cage. Jotko explodes with a knee but accidentally gets a finger in Cirkunov’s eye and the referee pauses the fight. Jotko fired up and as they restart he fires in some hard one-twos that narrowly miss. Nice jab from Jotko with 40 seconds to go and he goes for a takedown but Cirkunov denies it easily. Both guys clinch and Jotko gets a takedown with ten seconds to go to end the fight. Tough call, could go either way, but I’d give it 29-28 Cirkunov.
Niko Price def Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Action packed start to this one as both guys look to take the centre and start trading heavy blows straight away. Nice exchange of strikes and Oliveira goes for a knee which Price catches and charges him up against the cage. Oliveira manages to reverse it and push Price down to the mat but Price holds on to the neck and rolls through to end up on top. Price looking to create space for ground and pound but Oliveira defending well. Price trying to move to side control but Oliveira defending well. Hard body shots from Price and then some elbows from the top to see out the round. 10-9 Price.
Good start to the round again from both guys with lots of feinting and some leg kicks just to touch each other. Oliveira lands a nice left hand before both men narrowly miss with big hooks. Price misses a head kick but lands a right hand hammer fist instead. Oliveira lands a right hand after catching a kick and Price falls backwards, so Oliveira looks to jump on top. Lots of scrambling for position but Oliveira manages to retain top position throughout. Some nice ground and pound and transitions from Oliveira but Price defending relatively well from the bottom and the round ends. 19-19 even.
Final round and both guys are going for it early. Hard low kicks from Oliveira and then a big right hand lands but Price not moving away at all and continues to threaten. Big body shot from Oliveira then a right hand. Price goes for the right hook but Oliveira responds with one of his own. Price lands two big shots and a right hook wobbles Oliveira, but he side steps and avoids. Both guys throwing big strikes and just missing, before Price throws a big right hand that stumbles Oliveira. Price going for a takedown against the cage but Oliveira defends it and they separate. Side kick from Oliveira to the body but Price continues to walk forward and Oliveira is exhausted. Price goes for a big superman punch but Oliveira ducks it and clinches him, looking to drag Price down to the mat. Price manages to throw Oliveira down and ends up on top and he’s hammering ground and pound to end the round. That should win it for Price. 29-28.
Kevin Holland vs Kyle Daukaus – No Contest (Accidental headbutt led to fight ending sequence)
Good start to the round for Daukaus as he comes forward with two hooks and goes straight for a takedown. Holland defends it well against the cage and shows excellent balance to stay on his feet before he looks to break away in a clinch. Daukaus then puts him back in a full nelson and the referee breaks up the position. Daukaus lands a nice one-two, and then as Holland throws a right hand they clash heads and Holland goes out cold! Daukaus goes on to continue to look for a finish and eventually gets a rear-naked choke locked in and Holland is forced to tap out despite fighting hard to stay in the fight.
After the fight, a significant review takes place over the footage and the referee deems the fight a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads leading to the fight-ending sequence.
Thiago Santos def Johnny Walker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
First strike of the fight comes 30 seconds in as Walker throws a low kick, and the second comes 30 seconds later when Walker blocks a high kick from Santos. Walker takes the centre and is backing Santos up against the cage, but neither man throwing anything as we approach the halfway point of the round. Walker continues with a couple of low kicks and Santos goes to throw a high kick, but lots of feinting from both guys and not much action at all. Teep kick from Walker lands. More jockeying from both guys as the round ends. That’s an impossible round to score because nothing happened. 10-10.
Second round starts quicker as Santos takes the centre and shoots for a takedown with a single leg. Walker defends it well but both guys swing big hooks on their way out of the clinch and Santos lands the left hand grazing him. Santos throws a head kick but Walker blocks it and replies with a low kick. The round has gone timid again and Walker misses with a big overhand right, then lands another low kick. Nice left body kick from Santos lands and then he lands two more too with a left hand behind it. Walker eats them though and comes forward. More touching and feinting as the round ends. Round 2 goes to Santos for me, 20-19.
Lots of feints again in the third round as Walker looks to go back to the teep kicks and leg kicks from the first round. Santos grazes him with a head kick and then misses with a wild left hand. Walker throws more kicks but Santos side steps it and lands a left cross on the chin. Walker still there and doing lots of feinting again but Santos looks comfortable. Big exchange from both guys but they both miss and the fight is starting to open up a little bit now. Santos parries a body kick and lands a strong left hand again but Walker is still standing and moving. Walker throws a leg kick again and Santos replies with a left hook. Big spinning wheel kick misses from Santos but then he throws a head kick that is partially blocked. 30-28 Santos.
Santos comes out aggressive in the fourth and lands a nice body shot. Walker coming forward but not really throwing anything of note. Head kick attempt from Santos misses again, then Walker throws one and just misses. Santos throws a jump knee that misses and then Santos goes for his left hand again. Hard leg kick from Santos but Walker doesn’t look too affected by them. Walker’s kick gets caught but he lands two big right hands of his own before eating one from Santos. Big one-two lands from Santos again but Walker eats it well and threatens with a reverse elbow. Another hard left hand from Santos just misses, before he lands a body kick to end the round. Close round that one, 40-37 Santos for me.
This has not been the type of fight we all expected, but we go into the fifth round anyway. Slow start again with lots of feints and a slow pace. Santos comes forward and lands a left hand to the side of the head but Walker is still looking to chop the legs. Santos lands a HUGE left hand clean but Walker eats it and calls him on for more. Body kick from Santos lands twice before Walker slides forward to close distance. Santos staying out of danger for the most part and both men faking a lot again. Left hand lands from Santos and Walker lands a right hand at the same time. Big head kick from Santos lands but again Walker just eats it. Capoeira kick from Walker misses and that’s the round. 50-36 Santos for me, maybe 49-47 but very weird fight to score.
A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.
Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.
Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.
Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here and after starting with the early prelims, we continue with the rest of the prelims here.
Devonte Smith (11-2) vs Jamie Mullarkey (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight between two of the most exciting prospects on the card. Smith was on a six-fight finish streak before losing to Khama Worthy, before bouncing back with a KO finish over Justin Jaynes at UFC Vegas 18. Mullarkey on the other hand lost his first two in the UFC before bouncing back with a huge win over Khama Worthy at UFC 260 in just 46 seconds.
Smith and Mullarkey are both brilliantly technical and powerful strikers with pretty decent wrestlings skills to back themselves up too. Smith is a really intelligent power puncher, with a brilliant jab that he uses to set up his power hand. Mullarkey is more of a kickboxer, with good low kicks and better work from range but he has shown the ability to apply a wrestle-heavy game plan if needed.
It should be a brilliant fight but I think Smith just edges him overall and he has the power to turn the fight in an instant, so I think that’s what happens. PICK – Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2
Bethe Correia (11-5-1) vs Karol Rosa (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A retirement bout for Correia as she steps into the cage one final time to take on Rosa. Correia has only won twice since 2015, with her most recent win coming against Sijaira Eubanks in 2019. Her most recent fight was against Pannie Kianzad, where she was dominated at UFC Fight Island 3. Rosa on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with a decision win over Joselyne Edwards at UFC Vegas 18 most recently.
Correia isn’t the most technical fighter in the land but she makes up for it with pure heart and grit, constantly stepping forward and almost refusing to get stopped until she is literally forced to. Rosa is a tidy, technical boxer who stays very patient with her attacks and makes sure that she throws everything with intent.
Rosa has the potential to fly up the rankings with some big wins and she is very good and Correia is just getting a farewell bout at this point, but it won’t go well. Expect Rosa to dominate her, rack up plenty of significant strikes and cruise to an easy win. PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision
Antonina Shevchenko (9-3) vs Casey O’Neill (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very intriguing flyweight fight between the other Shevchenko sister and the undefeated O’Neill. Shevchenko has alternated wins and losses in the UFC, with a win over Ariane Lipski sandwiched between defeats to Kaitlyn Chookagian and most recently Andrea Lee at UFC 262. O’Neill is undefeated and has two finishes from two fights in the UFC, beating Shana Dobson via KO before submitting Lara Procopio at UFC Vegas 29.
Shevchenko is similar stylistically to her sister, incredibly well-rounded but just several levels below. She has great striking with a lovely body kick, but also adept on the ground when it comes to securing submissions and controlling position if necessary. O’Neill however is also equally well-rounded, with decent power striking, good hand speed and other-worldly grappling.
O’Neill is very dangerous on the ground and isn’t afraid to drag her opponents to that world if needed. Shevchenko tends to try and show everything off in every fight, rather than stick to what’s going well and that is likely to play into her downfall here. On the feet she should have the edge, but O’Neill can keep up and eventually will try to get this to the ground at which point it’s a long night for Shevchenko. PICK – Casey O’Neill via Submission, Round 2
Joe Solecki (11-2) vs Jared Gordon (17-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting lightweight fight between a submission guru and a durable veteran in the featured prelim bout. Solecki is on a six-fight win streak, with his most recent win coming against Jim Miller at UFC Vegas 23 via unanimous decision. Gordon has won his last two fights by decision, beating Chris Fishgold and then Danny Chavez at UFC Vegas 19.
Solecki is a brilliant grappler with solid wrestling, great submissions and decent striking on the feet to set stuff up. Gordon has a reputation for being a brilliant wrestler himself, but he’s usually at his best at featherweight but he struggles to make the weight consistently. Solecki doesn’t push the pace to a point that could force Gordon into trouble but he is the naturally bigger man.
Gordon is smaller and while I think he has a slight edge on the feet, it’s not really enough to win him a three-round fight on the feet. Solecki will look to wrestle his way to top position and work from there, using his physicality and submission threats to secure a decision win. PICK – Joe Solecki via Decision
Marc-Andre Barriault def Abu Azaitar via Knockout, Round 3 (4:56)
Fast start to the bout for Azaitar as he comes out with some powerful hooks to begin but they miss the target for the most part. Barriault throws a hook back that makes Azaitar lose his balance and the two clinch up against the cage but Barriault accidentally lands a low blow for a short pause in the action. Azaitar comes forward very aggressively once more, with flurrys that end with a nice knee to the body before another clinch. Nice elbow in the clinch from Barriault but Azaitar responds with a big knee in the clinch that lands flush. Azaitar working the body well as they clinch up once again and staying very busy as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. More knees to the body in the clinch from Azaitar but Barriault stay in there and eating, while returning with shots of his own. Nice counter left from Barriault lands in an exchange but Azaitar should take that round. 10-9.
Barriault takes the centre at the start of this round and is landing his jab well early on as Azaitar looks considerably slower than the first round. Barriault landing the better shots but then Azaitar comes forward with a nice leg kick. Azaitar throws a big hook that lands and wobbles Barriault, but he continues to come forward and continues to push a fast pace. Azaitar looks for a takedown, which his corner isn’t happy about, but Barriault defends it well to keep the fight standing. Big one-two lands from Barriault as Azaitar takes a big deep breath and is slowing down a lot. Nice uppercut lands from Azaitar and then a front kick lands but he’s very lathargic with his strikes and Barriault is walking him down now with big right hands. Barriault slips a left hook and lands three strikes in a row that wobble Azaitar but he’s staying in there and survives the round! 19-19.
Barriault takes the centre at the start of the third round and eats a big leg kick to make up ground and start landing big right hands. Azaitar is stiffened up and is fighting purely off instinct right now. Barriault lands a big right hand that drops Azaitar but the referee doesn’t stop it. Azaitar spits out his mouth guard with Barriault on top landing ground and pound and the referee stops the fight to allow him to put it back in and then the ground and pound continues, with Barriault landing huge shots. Azaitar continuing to move but it’s pure instinct and he’s taking a battering right now. This fight could be stopped at any moment but Azaitar is trying to move away. Barriault keeps landing huge strikes on the ground but the referee is letting them go with 30 seconds to go. Barriault is battering him and somehow Azaitar is surviving but the referee ends the bout with four seconds remaining! Huge win for the Canadian.
Omar Morales def Shane Young via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow fight to this bout as both men engage in a feeling out process, both circling and flicking jabs but not going too hard. Young checks a leg kick from Morales and then both continue to just throw out feelers. Young pushes forward for a takedown against the cage but Morales defends well, puts in a body lock and reverses the position before picking up and dropping Young. Young gets back to his feet quickly and they clinch up against the cage to a stalemate as we enter the final minute of the round. Morales lands a nice uppercut as Young tries to enter for another takedown and they clinch up once more as the round ends. 10-9 Morales, but close.
Second round starts and Morales throws a leg kick pretty early that gets caught and Young immediately moves into top position. Morales defending off his back and as Young moves for a leg lock, Morales is able to stuff it and get back to his feet quickly. Morales doing well on the feet with a nice jab and some good leg kicks too, but Young is checking them well and closing the distance well. Young shoots in for a takedown again but Morales defends it well, then throws a knee that just misses. Morales takes the centre well and forces Young backwards then lands a nice leg kick, followed by an uppercut that Young just eats. Two jabs and then a one-two from Morales lands clean and forces Young backwards again. Morales pours on the pressure towards the end of the round with his right hand and a knee attempt as they end in a clinch. 20-18 Morales for me.
Morales looks to take the centre early in the third round and throws his jab well, but Young does well to change it around and they clinch in the centre. Morales is able to get a trip and gets into a dominant position in side control, but Young is able to scramble and chase a single leg takedown of his own to get back to his feet. They clinch against the cage again and Young shows a physical strength advantage, but Morales lands a couple of nice leg kicks as they separate and fighting well behind his jab. Nice right hand lands from Morales as we enter the final minute, but Young keeps coming forward and then ducks a high kick to look for a takedown but Morales defends well to end the fight and likely take the win. 30-27 Morales.
Michal Oleksiejczuk def Modestas Bukauskas via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Bukauskas opens the fight with a spinning heel kick that misses by a matter of inches, before Michal steps forward and lands a big left hand early. BUkauskas lands a decent right hand but Michal is walking him towards the cage well. Bukauskas shoots for a takedown but it’s well stuffed, before a clinch exchange allows Bukauskas to show his strength advantage as he powers him all the way across the octagon. Bukauskas lands a nice right hand flush and then steps forward with a nice flurry that hurts Michal! He goes for a finish but Michal defends well and recovers. Bukauskas throws a straight that Michal slips and throws a big overhand left that lands clean! Michal starts walking Bukauskas backwards again and misses with a left hand but then lands a nice right hand. Bukauskas throwing lots of kicks to try and maintain the distance but Michal continues to step forward and close it. Both men land a few more shots and Bukauskas ends the round with a head kick that is partially blocked. Really competitive round, I lean 10-9 to Bukauskas.
Second round is more of the same, as Michal comes forward and throws lots of hooks but Bukauskas continues to circle on the outside and uses his length well to keep a distance. Michal keeps marching forward and lands a nice left hand but Bukauskas eats it well. Michal throws it again and lands flush on the chin, but Bukauskas continues to move well and then throws a nice front kick to the body. Bukauskas lands two straight rights nicely then misses a wild overhand, as Michal looks to grab a leg but does nothing with is. Bukauskas lands a nice lead elbow but Michal clinches up and eats it, before Bukauskas shows the physicality advantage again and is able to reverse the position and then separate. Bukauskas lands a head kick and then ends with a round with a big flurry of hooks that land, but Michal still there and probably takes that round. 19-19 for me but it’s close.
Bukauskas and Michal in the final round following a similar pattern to the previous two, with Bukauskas circling on the outside. Both men throw a right hook but it’s Bukauskas who lands better and then he follows it up with a straight and an uppercut too. Michal goes in for a body lock looking for a takedown but Bukauskas defends it really well and uses the cage well to keep the fight standing. Michal throws a couple of knees but nothing that troubles Bukauskas who is able to separate and is starting to land some good strikes of his own. Michal continues to march forward but Bukauskas is happy to trade with him now as we enter the final 90 seconds. Big right hook lands from Michal but Bukauskas eats it and throws a right hand of his own. Michal throws a huge uppercut to the body that has really hurt Bukauskas but Michal hasn’t noticed how hurt he is and both men go out swinging as the fight goes the distance. Great fight, 29-28 Bukauskas for me.
Abubakar Nurmagomedov def Jared Gooden via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Gooden opens up the round super relaxed, carrying his hands down by his hips ready for any takedown attempts and throwing some jabs that immediately redden the eye of Nurmagomedov. Gooden has a big speed advantage and is able to get in and out quickly but Nurmagomedov not rushing for any grappling and is throwing his jab very well too. Nurmagomedov closes the distance and lands a big one-two flush on Gooden’s chin that rocks him! He closes the distance and looks to take the fight down but Gooden is able to escape quickly. Nurmagomedov throws a strong leg kick and then a big knee in the clinch too. Another jab from Nurmagomedov has Gooden backing up and he’s now started to carry his hands a bit higher in respect of Nurmagomedov’s strikes. A big left hook from Nurmagomedov lands again and he just misses with a follow up head kick, then ends the round with a nice jab. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov takes the centre in the second round and lands his jab well once again as Gooden starts to throw his right hand some more. Nurmagomedov steps back and slips the punches brilliantly before landing a nice right hand of his own. Nurmagomedov is piecing Gooden up on the feet right now, completely dominating the striking exchanges. Big right hand lands and then throws a huge head kick that lands and hurts Gooden! Nurmagomedov backs Gooden against the cage and looks for a clinch, throwing elbows and a nice left hand. Gooden can’t get near him right now as he eats another jab flush to the nose. Big left hand lands clean on Gooden whose chin is holding up well right now as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Nurmagomedov.
Nurmagomedov using his jab once again early on, completing in control of the striking exchanges. Gooden takes the centre and loads up a nice uppercut but Nurmagomedov shoots in for a takedown and ends up with a body lock on the back. He picks him up and drops him down, but Gooden does well to get back to his feet before Nurmagomedov shoots in for a takedown once again and ends up on top. Gooden throwing great elbows from the bottom but Nurmagomedov eating them well and controlling the position before landing some ground and pound of his own. He steps over into half guard and starts setting up an arm triangle, but Gooden is aware and defending it well. Both men throwing body strikes on the ground as we enter the final minute of the round. Nurmagomedov controls the position for the remainder of the round and should take a comfortable decision win.
Menifield comes out flying with a big one two and then goes for a takedown early. Cherant looks to lock up a guillotine but Menifield is able to turn him and slam him down with a big takedown into side control. Cherant keeps hold of the neck, all the while Menifield is synching in a Von Flue choke. He gets it tight and heavy and Cherant has no choice but to tap out! What a win for Menifield!
Jamie Mullarkey def Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 1 (0:46)
Fast start to the round for both guys as Mullarkey lands a nice left hand early before Worthy responds with a couple of jabs. Mullarkey fakes a couple of shots and then throws a big, tight left hook that catches Worthy on the chin and gets him wobbling and faceplants! Mullarkey rushes in with a few ground and pound strikes and the referee steps in the wave it off! Huge win for Mullarkey!
Miranda Maverick def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Nice active start to the fight from both ladies, with Maverick throwing nice combinations early and staying out of range of Robertson’s attacks. Maverick holding the centre well and and landing the better strikes in the exchanges on the feet, but Robertson not backing up too much and throwing some strikes of her own. Maverick lands a nice short-right hook and lots of leading leg kicks to the body. Maverick pushes Robertson onto the ground and then jumps on top with really heavy top pressure, then lands a couple of ground and pound strikes as Robertson looks to get back up to her feet. Maverick shoots a power double leg and gets the fight down with ease as the round comes to an end to take the opening round. 10-9 Maverick.
Busy start to the second round for Maverick as she seems to be more aggressive, landing some heavy punches and coming forward with more intent. Nice superman punch lands from Maverick then Robertson changes levels and shoots in for a takedown, then secures top position. Maverick tries to escape by kicking out and swinging her hips, but Robertson adjusts perfectly and looks to take the back now. Robertson sticking to her like glue and trying to find submissions, but Maverick is doing well to keep moving and not settling for positions. Robertson keeps looking for the positions but Maverick is eventually able to get back to the feet with about 45 seconds remaining in the round. Maverick spends the rest of the round walking Robertson down and landing big shots against the cage but should still be a Robertson round. 19-19.
Maverick comes out swinging in this third round and is walking Robertson down, landing some big straight punches. Robertson shoots for takedowns but Maverick defends them twice and then is able to take Robertson’s back herself. She switches into full mount and then side control and is landing some big ground and pound strikes, but Robertson is threatening with an armbar. Maverick is able to escape the armbar and gets back on top to land more ground and pound. Robertson tries to sweep her but Maverick too strong and gets back to the feet. Maverick lands a couple of straights against the cage then shoots for a takedown of her own and sees out the round in a dominant position to take a decision.
Sean O’Malley def Thomas Almeida via Knockout, Round 3 (3:52)
Good start to the round for O’Malley as he opens with a clean one-two on Almeida’s chin. O’Malley switching stances well and landing kicks to the body and legs, with Almeida seeming quite hesitant early on. O’Malley lands another one-two and then a nice spinning back kick to the body before Almeida lands a big hook of his own. O’Malley throws a big head kick that seems to land with the knee and then a big left hand drops Almeida! O’Malley walks away but the referee doesn’t wave the fight off and he goes back in with a spin kick that misses. O’Malley looking for style points for a finish but Almeida has recovered now and O’Malley sees the round out with some more clean striking. 10-9 O’Malley for sure.
O’Malley opens up with some front kicks to the body and a calf kick, but Almeida coming forward still and lands a couple of leg kicks of his own. O’Malley landing with his left hand in a one-two quite cleanly and often, but Almeida refusing to go away. Some knee stomps from O’Malley and kicks as he continues to switch stances, showing great speed to be first in the exchanges. O’Malley goes for a flying knee towards the end of the round and misses, falling onto his back. Almeida lands a big shot on the ground but O’Malley uses his long legs to defend really well and sees out the round. 20-18 O’Malley.
O’Malley opens up the round with a huge calf kick that takes Almeida’s balance away, before a knee stomp once again makes Almeida very uncomfortable. A few more leg kicks land and then O’Malley throws a nice one-two, but Almeida continues to come forward. Exchange near the cage and Almeida lands a decent left hand, but O’Malley continues to slip the majority of the shots and landing well himself. Beautiful one-two from O’Malley lands and Almeida just can’t get near him. Huge left hand as he moves backwards catches Almeida and drops him and O’Malley tries to walk off again but the referee doesn’t stop it again! O’Malley strolls over and lands one nasty ground strike that puts his lights out and that’s that! The ‘Suga’ show is back!
Woodley comes out and immediately goes for a body lock and takedown against the cage. Luque defends it well and is able to rotate Woodley against the cage, but they fight to a stalemate and eventually separate. Woodley lands a big overhand right and then a couple of one-twos before going back to his wrestling, where Luque is able to steady him and get him back against the cage. Luque throwing punches to the body while Woodley looks for knees as they clinch up before separating. Woodley throws a huge right hand that wobbles Luque and he goes for the kill with big punches, then Luque fires back with a huge right overhand that lands on Woodley’s chin and wobbles him! Luque comes forward and throws bombs and Woodley is in trouble! He throws a hook that lands on Luque and wobbles him back then goes for a takedown but his legs give out on him. Luque drops down and locks in a d’arce choke and despite fighting it against the cage, Woodley is forced to tap! Huge win for Luque!
Francis Ngannou def Stipe Miocic via Knockout, Round 2 (0:52)
Ngannou opens the round with a heavy low kick that Miocic eats and continues to circle on the outside. Miocic lands a couple of leg kicks of his own before Ngannou explodes with a big right hand that lands clean and Miocic just eats. Ngannou explodes again and Miocic shoots in for a double leg takedown but Ngannou defends it brilliantly, sprawls and is able to take Miocic down himself! He takes the back of Miocic and starts throwing some heavy shots but the champion eats them and separates. Ngannou then throws a head kick that lands clean but once again Miocic eats it. A couple more leg kicks from Miocic in the remainder of the round, but it’s a Ngannou round. 10-9.
Miocic comes out and knows he needs to be a bit more aggressive. Ngannou being patient in the middle once more and lands a nice leg kick. Ngannou throws a big left hand that rocks Miocic and drops him! He goes for the finish and lands some big shots but Miocic gets back up and eats an uppercut. Miocic lands a massive left hand of his own but Ngannou eats it and then lands a short left hook that puts Miocic’s lights out! He lands one more huge shot before the referee gets there but this is all over! NEW CHAMPION!
It’s the big one, as the baddest man on the planet is decided in the main event of UFC 260 when Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight championship against Francis Ngannou.
The two met previously during Miocic’s first reign as champion, and he dominated to a victory but yet he is still the underdog coming into this fight. Overlooking Miocic seems crazy, but it’s happening again and not least because of the sheer power of his opponent.
Last week at UFC Vegas 22, we went 6/10 with three perfect picks to move to 262/416 (62.98%) with 118 perfect picks (45.04%).
There are scheduled to be ten bouts on this card and having already predicted the prelims here, lets look to improve it with the main card also.
Jamie Mullarkey (12-4) vs Khama Worthy (16-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really fun lightweight fight between two guys looking to get back in the win column to open up this main card. Mullarkey has lost his last two bouts, dropping decisions to Brad Riddell and Faras Ziam most recently at UFC Fight Island 6. Worthy had a seven fight win streak snapped in a little over 90 seconds when he was put away but Ottman Azaitar at UFC Vegas 10 back in September.
Mullarkey is a wrestler who is capable of standing and striking, but he’s often a sitting target when it comes to the stand-up game. Worthy is a powerful striker with nine knockout wins in his career. If Mullarkey can’t get the fight to the ground, he is in big trouble. He’s got a granite chin but with the power that Worthy hits at, plus the fact that Worthy isn’t a sloppy wrestler himself, ‘The Death Star’ should be able to get himself a hard-fought victory. PICK – Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 3
Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Two very highly rated women’s flyweight prospects go head-to-head in this one.
Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win. PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision
Sean O’Malley (12-1) vs Thomas Almeida (22-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
O’Malley is a super-technical striker who can work off either stance and has legitimate one-punch knockout power. Almeida is a great technical striker himself, but his biggest issue is his durability. Almeida has been knocked out whenever he’s been hit clean and O’Malley is one of the most accurate strikers in the 135lbs division. This is certainly a favourable match up for O’Malley to get back on track towards a title shot with a height, reach, technique and power advantages and he should get an impressive win. PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 1
Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) vs Vicente Luque (19-7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Woodley is known for his fantastic wrestling defence and impressive knockout power, but in his last three fights he’s been gun shy when it comes to striking and has been taken down with ease. Luque is a boxer who pressures his opponents and walks them down, happy to take a shot to give one in the belief he will knock them out. Luque hits harder than any of Woodley’s last three opponents and is a long-time training partner of both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. If Woodley comes back in this fight and shows his old self where he throws heavy punches and threatens with his wrestling, he could very well get the win. But it’s hard to expect that from a guy who’s lost his last 14 rounds in a row and was finished in the 15th. Luque has youth on his side, is confident and has great pressure, work-rate and power, so I think he is able to get a win in this fight. PICK – Vicente Luque via Decision
Stipe Miocic (20-3) vs Francis Ngannou (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The baddest man on the planet will be decided as the greatest heavyweight of all-time makes the second defence of his second reign as champion against ‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou. Miocic beat Ngannou back in 2018, before going 2-1 in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier which came to an end at UFC 252. Ngannou lost his next fight after that loss to Derrick Lewis, but has since won four-in-a-row against Curtis Blaydes, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all via first round knockout.
Miocic is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights ever, with fantastic wrestling skills but also legitimate knockout power himself. Ngannou is a banger, who comes in with explosive power and one-punch knockouts. The first fight was incredibly one-sided, with Miocic wrestling his way to a dominant win. Since then, Ngannou has become “obsessed” with grappling but it’s not something we’ve been able to see in the cage yet. Miocic is quicker, the better wrestler and in the first fight he was able to eat Ngannou’s punches that landed. He’s taken a lot of damage since then, being KO’d by Cormier so whether he can take the punches this time is questionable but he is so much better than that first fight too.
Ngannou’s skillset is limited despite his success, but his power is absolutely unreal. The issue is that he’s so big his cardio just can’t go for 25 minutes. Miocic can and has several times. It only takes one punch from Ngannou, but it’s hard to see this fight going much differently to the first one – except this time I think Miocic gets the stoppage on an exhausted, grounded Ngannou. PICK – Stipe Miocic via Knockout, Round 4