Krzysztof Jotko (23-5) vs Gerald Meerschaert (34-14) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very interesting middleweight scrap opens up the main card between two well known fighters. Jotko has won four of his last five fights, bouncing back from defeat to Sean Strickland at UFC Vegas 25 with a split decision win over Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 38. Meerschaert on the other hand has bounced back from his super-quick KO loss to Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 17 with three straight submission wins including a late one against Dustin Stoltzfus most recently at UFC Vegas 45.
Jotko is a kickboxer who looks to fight from range using his kicks and long punches and a steady pace that he has shown he is capable of pushing for the entire 15 minutes. Meerschaert on the other hand is an amazing grappler with all of his UFC wins coming by finish, and more submission wins in his career than any other middleweight in UFC history. It’s a real battle of styles, but this one seems to favour Jotko a little bit more.
Meerschaert is by far the more dangerous of the two, but Jotko is so methodical that he tends to just nullify his opponents and win minutes of fights rather than dominate them. It’s either going to be a Meerschaert submission or Jotko decision, but the Polish fighter is all about claiming wins despite it being the most boring fight of the night and he’s likely to do that again. PICK – Krzysztof Jotko via Decision
Darren Elkins (27-10) vs Tristan Connelly (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
‘The Damage’ returns to the octagon in a banger of a fight at 145-pounds here. Elkins has lost five of his last seven, including his most recent outing against the returning Cub Swanson at UFC Vegas 45 where he was KO’d by a spinning wheel kick. Connelly saw a near two-year layoff culminate in a defeat against Pat Sabatini in his most recent bout back at UFC 261.
These are two veterans of the sport likely on their way out of the sport sooner rather than later. Elkins is a grinder who tends to walk through flames to score a takedown and really wear down his opponent before taking over from top position, while Connelly is also a ground specialist although he prefers to use his jiu-jitsu skills when down there. That sets up a pretty exciting encounter if the fight hits the mat, and both guys will back themselves to come out on top in that scenario.
The best bet for Connelly to score a submission is to hurt him on the feet first and then latch on to something. His striking isn’t great however and with the relentless wrestling style of Elkins, I expect him to smother Connelly over the course of the 15 minutes and earn a vintage decision win. PICK – Darren Elkins via Decision
Jared Gordon (18-4) vs Grant Dawson (17-1-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Very exciting lightweight bout up next between two guys looking to burst their way into the rankings. Gordon has won three in a row since getting knocked out by the now-champion Charles Oliveira in 2019, all via decision with the most recent coming against Joe Solecki. Dawson on the other hand is nine undefeated, with a draw against Ricky Glenn most recently snapping his win streak.
Gordon is a grinder of a fighter who just doesn’t stop coming forward. He doesn’t particularly excel in any area but is decent enough to hold his own in most. Dawson on the other hand is a specialist wrestler who has looked to use his new-found kickboxing skills more often in recent bouts. He tends to use the fence to his advantage too, pinning opponents to the mat and looking to push them into submission situations. But his best times came at featherweight and now that physicality isn’t a stand-out attribute anymore.
‘Flash’ is definitely the more heavy-handed striker on the feet, but Dawson has the edge in the wrestling and should be able to keep Gordon down if he does get the fight down. Gordon’s cardio will still be there at the end of the fight regardless of how the rest of the fight has gone, while Dawson could struggle deeper into the bout. It will be close for the judges, but I think wrestling wins out and earns him a tight decision. PICK – Grant Dawson via Decision
Andre Fili (21-8) vs Joanderson Brito (12-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This should be a very fun featherweight scrap between two very exciting fighters. Fili is coming off a ‘no contest’ bout against Daniel Pineda back at UFC Vegas 30, while Brito suffered a unanimous decision defeat in his UFC debut to Bill Algeo back at UFC Vegas 46 at the start of the year.
Fili is a very technical kickboxer with some reactive takedowns and good grappling skills on the mat too, while Brito is a very standard Muay Thai fighter but with excellent power in his strikes and nasty clinch work culminating in ten finishes from his 12 victories. Brito was beaten by Algeo last time out, and Fili is a better version of Algeo with more strings to his bow. Obviously, that’s a problem for the Brazilian prospect.
Brito has got huge power and has always got it in him to land one big shot and end the fight there and then. But ultimately Fili is the better fighter here. His kickboxing is sharper, his wrestling is a way for him to be able mix it up and he’s the more experienced guy too. It won’t be easy, but I think Fili takes him all the way and earns the nod from the judges. PICK – Andre Fili via Decision
Andrei Arlovski (33-20) vs Jake Collier (13-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweight collision in the co-main event between two men at different ends of their UFC career. Former champion Arlovski has won five of his last six, with the only defeat coming against Tom Aspinall, including each of his last three via decision. Collier on the other hand is a former middleweight who has alternated wins and losses since 2014 going back 11 fights. His most recent was a win against Chase Sherman via submission back in January at UFC Vegas 46.
Arlovski is a traditional heavyweight with some good boxing and a lethal left high kick just like the famous Mirko Cro Cop once upon a time. He uses good movement and volume well rather than power punches, but seems to be excellent at avoiding damage and doing well. Collier is a very similar fighter, just ten years younger and he has got a good grappling background in his arsenal too.
This is a strange fight to be the co-main event in all honesty, but I can’t go against the 50-50 record over the last eight years. Arlovski looks as good as he’s looked in a long while recently and has the experience to make his momentum and moments count. Collier likes to throw leg kicks and that could leave him open to a straight right hand counter down the pipe but most likely this looks like a pretty comfortable Collier decision win. PICK – Jake Collier via Decision
Rob Font (19-5) vs Marlon Vera (18-7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger of a main event and comfortably the fight of the night on this card. Font saw a four-fight win streak snapped last time out by Jose Aldo in a great fight at UFC Vegas 44, while Vera earned a highlight reel front-kick-to-the-face knockout against Frankie Edgar in his most recent outing at UFC 268.
Font is one of the best pure boxers in the UFC, with incredible hand speed and solid power in his hands as well as some good takedowns as shown against Cody Garbrandt in his most recent win. Vera on the other hand is a really tidy all-round fighter with crisp striking and great technique with his leg kicks and punches, while he also has excellent jiu-jitsu skills and grappling on the mat. Vera has never been finished in his career, but his lack of output early on in fights could see Font have a lot of early success with his boxing to the body.
It’s unlikely that Font will look to grapple at all in this fight, because that is entering Vera’s world. His boxing and speed is where he can win this fight, but Vera is good at applying pressure and forcing his opponents to fight on the back foot. It should be a terrific fight overall, but I think Font’s early work will be enough to edge him a judge’s decision for the bout. PICK – Rob Font via Decision
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
*Drakkar Klose vs Luis Pena was cancelled a few hours before the event after one of Klose’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.*
*Rafael Alves vs Pat Sabatini was cancelled after the weigh-ins, after Alves weighed in a 157.5lbs for their featherweight (146lbs limit) fight.*
Serghei Spivac def Jared Vanderra via Knockout, Round 2 (4:32)
Good start to the fight for Spivac as he responds to being back up against the cage with some nice overhand rights, before catching a leg kick and charging forward to get a takedown. Vanderra is able to get back to his feet and clinch before Spivac sweeps him and ends up on top in half guard. Spivac looks to advance into side control but Vanderra does well to get him back into half guard, while Spivac looks to touch him with ground and pound. Lots of top control from Spivac but not much damage from him as Vanderra seems content to see out the round from the bottom – and that’s what he does. 10-9 Spivac.
Another quick start for Spivacas he ducks a head kick attempt from Vanderra and gets the fight back to the ground early to dominate from the top once again. Spivac content to stay in half guard and rain down short elbows and short punches, while Vanderra isn’t active enough at all to try and get out of the position. Vanderra is busted up bad with Spivac blasting him. The referee taking a close look as Spivac moves into full mount and continues to blast him with strikes, with Vanderra barely defending himself and the referee finally calls it off. Impressive from Spivac.
Aiemann Zahabi def Drako Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:05)
Interesting start to this one as Rodriguez takes the centre of the cage but both men seem to be waiting for the other to throw. Rodriguez throws a nice uppercut down the middle and Zahabi fires back with some strikes of his own, before a short clinch. Nice calf kick from Rodriguez and he seems to be loosening up a little now. Both men go for a right hand and Zahabi starches him! Rodriguez goes down and Zahabi lands one more shot before the referee steps in and ends it. Wow what a punch!
Chas Skelly vs Jamall Emmers – CANCELLED
Unbelievable. Skelly makes the walk to the octagon and before Emmers comes out, the broadcast team tells us that he is suffering from back spasms backstage and can’t make the walk. The fight is cancelled. Crazy scenes.
Casey O’Neill def Shana Dobson via Knockout, Round 2 (3:41)
Very fast start to this fight as O’Neill comes out quickly, they both exchange strikes and O’Neill goes for the takedown with a single leg. Dobson defends it well and O’Neill lets go, before another exchange and finally getting the takedown she craved. Dobson rolls through and ends up on top but O’Neill scrambles and they get back up. Dobson throwing some powerful strikes but O’Neill isn’t fazed at all and after a clinch she dumps Dobson back to the ground and goes into side control. O’Neill landing some nice elbows from the top but Dobson defending well and forces a scramble, which O’Neill wins by coming out on top before getting another takedown. Lots of ground and pound but Dobson doing well to not take too much damage, as the round comes to an end with O’Neill trying to lock in a heel hook. 10-9 O’Neill.
Fast start to the second round again, with Dobson throwing a nice body kick but O’Neill catches it and takes the fight to the ground. She tries to take the back of Dobson but it’s defended well despite two hooks being in. O’Neill gets into full mount and starts raining down crazy levels of ground and pound and Dobson tries to escape by kicking off the cage, but O’Neill maintains the position and keeps landing damage. Dobson tries to escape by O’Neill just stays tight to her and continues to stay in dominant positions landing elbows and punches and forces the referee to step in and end it. What a performance from the debutant!
Julian Erosa def Nate Landwehr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:56)
HOLY!! What a fight!!! Both men come out all guns blazing, Erosa sends Landwehr flying backwards with a right hand, Landewehr drops Erosa with strikes in the clinch, Erosa rattles the brain of Landwehr with some uppercuts in the clinch and then knocks him out with a flying knee! Landwehr protests to the referee but I think it was the right call. What a knockout for Julian Erosa! Wow!
John Castaneda def Eddie Wineland via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44
Tactical start to the fight early on as Wineland takes the centre of the cage and looks to pressure forward, with Castaneda circling on the outside. Wineland with lots of head movement and feints, with his rapid right hand landing hard a couple of times. Leg kick from Castaneda as he continues to circle, before an exchange of strikes sees Wineland get caught with a counter left hand. Lead right hand lands from Castaneda and wobbles Wineland and Castaneda charges for the finish. He lands four or five shots clean that drop Wineland and pours on the pressure with ground and pound to force the referee to stop the fight. Huge knockout for Castaneda!
Jared Gordon def Danny Chavez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this bout as both men look to feel each other out with feints and movements. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage but misses with some big strikes before they exchange calf kicks. Big one-two from Chavez backs Gordon up momentarily before he comes forward again with some leg kicks. Chavez throws a kick that hits Gordon right on the cup and there’s a brief pause in the action. Fight restarts and Gordon lands two nice leg kicks that Chavez tries to check, before he throws a beautiful spinning wheel kick that Gordon just avoids. Gordon backs Chavez up against the cage again and the two play with throwing heavy strikes but they’re both tentative about it and keep missing. Heavy leg kick from Chavez and Gordon goes for a takedown but it’s stuffed quite easily. Good round, very close. 10-9 Gordon for me but could go either way really.
Quicker start to this round from Chavez, as he comes out quickly for a takedown and gets it only for Gordon to pop back up to his feet quickly. Chavez trying to take the centre now but his leg is definitely hurting him and Gordon shoots for a takedown and gets it. He takes him against the cage and starts applying good top pressure from the guard position. Chavez tries to get back up to his feet but Gordon defends the position really well and is able to stay on top. More ground and pound as he goes body-head and Gordon is completely dominating on the ground right now. Chavez kicks Gordon away and tries to get back up but Gordon is able to recover and push him back down before he gets back up. Gordon passes guard with seconds remaining and takes the second round clearly. 20-18 Gordon.
A more tentative final round as Chavez takes the centre and starts walking Gordon down now. Some good shots from Chavez land but his leg is definitely compromised, and Gordon goes for a takedown which is denied. Chavez lands a couple more right hands and Gordon lands a few more of his own before shooting for the single leg and getting the takedown. Chavez looks exhausted on the bottom as Gordon keeps busy from top position and looks to pass guard while throwing lots of ground and pound. Chavez gets back to the feet and goes for a flying knee but once again Gordon gets hold of him and clinches to force the grappling exchange to see out the round. 30-27 Gordon.
Tom Aspinall def Andrei Arlovski via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:09)
Very positive start to the fight for you Brit as Aspinall takes the centre and is using excellent footwork to step in and out of range. A few leg kicks from both and some nice blitzes but Aspinall staying very calm. Aspinall slips a shot and lands a big right hand that rocks Arlovski! He throws a barrage of strikes with tremendous hand speed and Arlovski looks hurt, then he keeps going to the body to try and get Arlovski to stop covering up before the veteran clinches up with him. Arlovski slowing this fight all the way down with a clinch as we enter the final 30 seconds and the clinch is broken. Both guys connect with a big right hand simultaneously just as the round ends. 10-9 Aspinall, good round.
Arlovski opens the round with a nice leg kick before landing a beautiful right hand that pushes Aspinall back. A bit more feinting and moving from Aspinall before he shoots in for a big power double leg takedown and gets it. He immediately wraps his arm around the neck of Arlovski and sinks in a rear naked choke which Arlovski taps too! Beautifully done! We have a new contender at heavyweight!
Phil Hawes def Nassourdine Imavov via Majority Decision (28-28, 29-28 x2)
Quick start from Hawes as he comes out and lands lots of calf kicks early on to chop away at Imavov. Big combination of strikes land too but Imavov covers up well, before Hawes kicks at the leg again and drops Imavov. Hawes misses a looping right hook and Imavov clinches up with him, which allows Hawes to go for a takedown but it’s good defending from Imavov to keep it standing. Imavov throws and lands a big elbow but Hawes responds with an immediate takedown and then slams him down too to end up in side control. A couple of nice shots on the ground from Hawes land as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Hawes.
Couple of kicks each start the round before Hawes ducks a straight right from Imavov and goes for the takedown against the cage once again. The clinch battle continues before Imavov is able to separate after a few minutes against the cage. Imavov lands a straight right and then another that wobbles Hawes! He comes forward with a big right hand again but Hawes ducks it and blasts a takedown against the cage. Hawes is able to get the back and drag him down to the mat back into side control and starts throwing ground and pound strikes once again. Imavov doing a good job of defending from the bottom but Hawes ends the round on top. 20-18 but Imavov is still in this.
Imavov comes out quickly and heavy, but Hawes ducks immediately and gets a takedown once again. Imavov is able to get back to the feet but Hawes continues to hold him against the cage and throws knees before they break. Imavov tries to walk forward and throws an uppercut but Hawes avoids it and clinches up against the cage once again. Imavov frames off and lands two big elbows and then breaks away and lands some big right hooks that have Hawes wobbling! Hawes steps away and Imavov goes for a Thai clinch, which allows Hawes to clinch up against the cage again. Imavov breaks away and lands more shots but Hawes clinches up again and survives to the buzzer. 29-28 Hawes in the end for me. Great fight.
Chris Daukaus def Aleksei Oleinik via Knockout, Round 1 (1:55)
Very quick start to the fight as Daukaus comes out and throws a big right hand but Oleinik grabs hold of him and clinches up. He starts looking for a key lock but Daukaus does well and then he tries to pull guard for that famed Ezekiel choke but Daukaus stays standing. Huge shots land from Daukaus and they rock Oleinik, who comes forward again and throws a big overhand right that misses. Daukaus stays patient, fires of some big shots that are all landing flush including knees to the head and the referee steps in and waves it off! Hugely impressive win for Chris Daukaus!
Darrick Minner def Charles Rosa via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27)
Minner comes out with a fast pace to start the fight, closing the distance quickly and clinching up. Rosa goes for a guillotine immediately but Minner pops out and the two separate. Minner pushes forward and throws some heavy shots but only a couple land and Rosa eats them well. Minner gets the fight down to the ground with a nice takedown and then starts riding the positions. Both men transition really well throughout the round and Minner takes the top position for the most part to take the round. 10-9 Minner.
Second round and Minner lands a beautiful leg kick and follows it up with a big right hand that drops Rosa! Minner pounces for a finish and takes the back looking for a choke. Rosa defends it well and Minner continues to land some ground and pound while fishing for the submission but Rosa continues to defend it well. Minner controls the position and Rosa explodes back up to his feet, but Minner takes the back, and drags him back down and ends up in full mount. Minner threatening with a head and arm choke and it looks tight but Rosa transitions to an armbar attempt to escape! Minner lets it go and sees the round out on top. Potentially a 10-8 round. 20-17 Minner.
Minner opens the final round with a big right hook that wobbles Rosa and he ends up taking the top position once again after dragging him to the ground. Rosa threatens with a kimura but it’s perfectly defended by Minner who gets back into top position and stacks Rosa against the cage looking for ground and pound. Rosa looking to attack an armbar and transitions to an omoplata but he’s cut open bad and Minner is able to defend it very well. Minner goes into north south position and controls the neck and Rosa looks to cage walk to roll out but Minner stops him again and just takes the back. Minner stretches Rosa out as we enter the final 30 seconds. Rosa starts throwing elbows and punches from the bottom but Minner eats the shots and rides it out until the buzzer. Big win for Darrick Minner.
Yana Kunitskaya def Ketlen Vieira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Vieira opens the fight up with a couple of right hands before going straight in for a takedown. After some battling against the cage she gets Kunitskaya down, but the Russian battles her way back up and they re-engage in the clinch. Lots of knees to the body from Kunitskaya in the clinch which Vieira is not enjoying at all. Vieira goes for a throw, Kunitskaya throws a knee which lands but Vieira follows through with a takedown and gets it. Vieira steps over into mount pretty quickly but Kunitskaya does well to get back to half guard before Vieira steps into mount again and starts looking for submissions. Kunitskaya battles for half guard again and Vieira spends the last 90 seconds trying to get back into mount while they exchange ground and pound strikes. 10-9 Vieira.
Kunitskaya comes out fast in the second round and applies pressure from the off with strikes before clinching up against the cage. More of those uncomfortable knees to the body and as Vieira tries to get a takedown, Kunitskaya reverses it and gets herself on top as they fall to the ground. Vieira looking for submissions from the bottom while Kunitskaya defends well and throws lots of good ground and pound. Vieira transitions for an armbar but loses it and then goes for a knee bar which is close, but Kunitskaya kicks off and gets back to her feet. Vieira tries to drag the fight to the ground again but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing those knees again. Vieira goes for a kimura but Kunitskaya defends it well and starts throwing big knees to the body on the ground followed by solid elbows too to end the round. 19-19.
Calf kicks for Kunitskaya to start the third round before Vieira changes levels and gets the takedown within the first minute. Vieira ends up in half guard on top and throws some nice ground and pound and is trying to pass into guard but Kunitskaya is defending well and the cage isn’t helping her either. She goes chest to chest and finally passes into mount and starts looking for a head and arm choke. Kunitskaya trying to escape but Vieira’s level is so high and she takes the back now. Kunitskaya starts fighting the hands and legs to break the locks but Vieira is still controlling the position well as she searches for an opening for a rear-naked choke. Kunitskaya throwing punches from the top with Vieira on her back and she reverses the position with 10 seconds and starts raining down huge ground and pound to end the round. Should be a Vieira round though which would give her the fight. 29-28 Vieira.
Derrick Lewis def Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 2 (1:26)
A very static start to this fight as Lewis stands pretty much still in the centre and invites Blaydes to come towards him. Blaydes moves in to close the distance and Lewis cracks him with a big right hand that sends Blaydes retreating. He comes back in and lands a nice jab, but Lewis loops a big right hand again and misses. High kick attempt from Lewis misses and Blaydes is staying very patient, and then lands a big right hand. He slips Lewis’ counter and lands two more right hands that rock Lewis a little, then follows that up with some leg kicks. Blaydes is controlling the striking with his speed and movement and is throwing lots of leg kicks to destabilise Lewis. Lovely jab from Blaydes followed by another leg kick and Lewis is hurting on that leg. 10-9 Blaydes.
Second round and Blaydes comes out quickly with some nice right hands once again. He shoots for the takedown and Lewis denies it brilliantly. They meet in the middle again and Blaydes shoots for another takedown and Lewis throws an uppercut and Blaydes is out cold!! Lewis lands two more huge shots while Blaydes is unconscious and the referee ends it! Holy wow! What a knockout!
Last week at UFC 258 we went 6/10 with our predictions, with three perfect picks to take us up to 230/359 (64.07%) with 104 (45.22%) perfect picks since we started out back in June 2020.
We have a monster 15 fight card this weekend, so the predictions will be split into three parts rather than the usual two. We’ve already predicted the first five fights of the night, so will get on with the rest of the prelims here.
Nate Landwehr (14-3) vs Julian Erosa (24-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Currently 1-1 in his third stint in the UFC, Landwehr takes on the impressive Julian Erosa in a potential fight of the night on this card. Landwehr’s current stint started with a defeat to Herbert Burns, before an impressive win last time out against Darren Elkins via decision. Erosa is in his second stint with the company after losing three in a row first time out, before a win against AJ Bryant in CageSport before a return win against Sean Woodson last June.
Landwehr is a pressure fighter and will throw a lot of volume, but is also very capable in the ground game. Erosa is a talented grappler who has got good power in his hands too, with 11 submission wins and ten knockouts in his career to date. Despite his huge size advantage, Erosa tends to prefer just going to war and that should favour Landwehr who has great technique and is more durable.
‘The Train’ has the better techniques on the feet and mixes his attacks up more, and thus I think he’ll be able to get the nod in a great fight that goes the distance. PICK – Nate Landwehr via Decision
Eddie Wineland (24-14-1) vs John Castaneda (17-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The man probably known to most UFC fans as the guy who got starched by Sean O’Malley takes on the guy known to most UFC fans as the man who got dominated by Nathaniel Wood in this one. Eddie Wineland is a vet in the UFC having made his debut in 2011, but his record of 6-8 is less than flattering, while Castaneda got beaten on his company debut.
Wineland has a super right hook, great pressure and good takedown defence too which has seen him finish all his wins in the last decade bar one via stoppage. Castaneda is a good kickboxer too, with a bit of a speed advantage over Wineland. Castaneda doesn’t have as much power though and while ‘Sexi Mexi’ loves to throw a calf kick or ten, Wineland’s added experience should see him able to land the more notable strikes in the fight and take the win. PICK – Eddie Wineland via Decision
Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) vs Luis Pena (8-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A return to the octagon for Drakkar Klose after being knocked out in a crazy fight against Beneil Dariush in March 2020, as he takes on ‘Violent Bob Ross’ Luis Pena in the lightweight division. Pena was submitted in his last bout against Khama Worthy in June, meaning he has now lost two of his last three.
Pena is a fantastic grappler, with really good submission skills and has a huge size advantage in this fight. On the feet he’s not the most polished though and he’s struggled to use his length in the past. Klose is a power puncher who has great boxing, but he has struggled in the past against long fighters. Pena has the attributes to cause Klose a lot of problems, but he doesn’t use those attributes usually. Stepping in on just two-weeks notice for this fight, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to use them here.
If Pena can get into clinch situations against the cage and take the back he will have success, but the likelihood is that Klose kicks his lead leg hard to beat him up and lands big powerful strikes every time he gets within distance of Pena to take a win. PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision
Jared Gordon (16-4) vs Danny Chavez (11-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fun fight in the featherweight division as ‘Flash’ Gordon looks to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since 2017 when he takes on Danny Chavez. Gordon bounced back from a defeat to Charles Oliveira by beating Chris Fishgold back in July, while Chavez won his debut with the company against an overweight TJ Brown at UFC 252 in August.
Chavez is a fantastic striker who throws calf kicks for days, while Gordon is a wrestler who looks to wear his opponent down from top position. The problem for Gordon in this fight, is that Chavez has really good takedown defence and the leg kicks will really effect his ability to get in close and shoot for takedowns. If Gordon can get the fight down, he’ll have the advantage over Chavez and ‘The Colombian Warrior’ has shown some cardio issues in the past later in the fight. PICK – Jared Gordon via Decision