Tag Archives: Jessica Andrade

UFC Vegas 52: Lemos vs Andrade – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas once again for a women’s strawweight main event between Amanda Lemos and Jessica Andrade.

In a sneaky card that lacks real star power, the top of the division at 115-pounds could either find a brand new contender making waves or the return of a former champion into contention.

There are some pretty decent scraps on this card too, and we’ll break them all down.

Last week at UFC Vegas 51 in a largely disappointing card we managed to go 8/14 with three perfect picks on the night to move us to 601/929 (64.69%) with 255 perfect picks (42.43%).

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


Lando Vannata (12-5-2) vs Charles Jourdain (12-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Banger at featherweight to open up the main card in this one. Vannata claimed a split decision win back at UFC 262 in his last outing against Mike Grundy, while Jourdain earned a decision win over Andre Ewell at UFC Vegas 45 in his latest bout.

Vannata is a very talented kickboxer with great power in his hands and a sniper-like right hand, who absolutely loves a scrap and is more than willing to trade strikes for a knockout win. Jourdain on the other hand is also a brilliant kickboxer with great technique and power, but as a more regular featherweight we know he pushes the pace hard and eventually breaks opponents with his cardio as well as his striking. All of that equals a potential fight of the night bout between these two men.

Jourdain is the crisper striker from distance and while Vannata is a good wrestler, Jourdain is no scrub if the fight goes to the mat either. The early exchanges will undoubtedly be close and violent, but as the bout goes on I expect Jourdain to be able to carry it on further and with more weapons, he should claim a wild decision win.
PICK – Charles Jourdain via Decision

Alexandr Romanov (15-0) vs Chase Sherman (15-9) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big short notice heavyweight bout up next, as Sherman returns to the organisation just days after initially being released by the company. Romanov is an undefeated monster with relentless grappling skills, beating Jared Vanderaa most recently via knockout back in October. Sherman is on a three-fight losing streak, getting submitted by Jake Collier at UFC Vegas 46 most recently in January.

Romanov is an exciting grappling machine, who uses amazing suplexes and takedowns to get the fight down before using a suffocating top game to blast his opponents with ground-and-pound as well as submissions. Sherman on the other hand is an old school heavyweight fighter, who stands quite flat footed and throws out jabs and low kicks one at a time before looping hooks as he looks to land a killer blow.

This is a shocking stylistic match up for Sherman and shy of landing a stunning one-punch KO there is only one direction that this fight is going in. Romanov will put him on his back and absolutely light him up until the referee pulls him off or the opportunity for a choke shows itself and he takes it. This won’t be a warm welcome back for Sherman and I’d be shocked if it gets out of the first round.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1

Sumudaerji (16-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another contender for fight of the night in this flyweight bout. Sumudaerji is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC defeating Zarrukh Adashev most recently at UFC Fight Island 8 last January, while Kape has won his last two fights after KO’ing Ode Osbourne (UFC 265) and Zhalgas Zhumagulov (UFC Vegas 44) in the first round.

Sumudaerji is a very talented striker who has earned 11 knockout wins in his career. He uses his length excellently, with great kicks and very good punches down the middle and has got a decent grappling game too. Kape is a very solid wrestler but his flashy striking is the stand-out attribute in his game, using flying knees and his amazing hand speed to counter his opponents. He fires off good combinations, but recently his output has come into question and is the reason for his two defeats in the organisation.

Both guys have got real knockout power and insane hand speed and this is a really close fight. The grappling is a good avenue to victory for Kape, but he doesn’t tend to use it much without his wrestling shoes in the UFC. Neither guy has ever been knocked out before, but if Kape can get the fight down his five submission wins and Sumudaerji’s four submission defeats are worrying. I expect a banger, but Kape has more paths to win and I think he takes one of them.
PICK – Manel Kape via Decision



Maycee Barber (9-2) vs Montana De La Rosa (12-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun women’s flyweight bout sees ‘The Future’ return to the octagon. Barber ended a two-fight skid by claiming a split decision against Miranda Maverick back at UFC Vegas 32, while De La Rosa claimed a KO win over Ariane Lipski at UFC Vegas 28 in her most recet outing.

Barber is a fighter who strikes well, closes distance with kicks and has good wrestling to control her opponent and use aggressive ground and pound. Her takedown defence is excellent too, and she uses elbows and knees well in the clinch too. De La Rosa uses her jab well and her heavy-handedness to hurt but her head movement is really lacking. Her takedown game has improved in recent years, but she’s not amazing yet and it will be difficult to see her claim repeated takedowns in this fight. If she does though, her jiu-jitsu is very good as her eight submission wins show.

Ultimately, this seems like Barber’s fight to lose though. She has a huge power advantage on the feet, she’s more aggressive and physically stronger too. If De La Rosa can get a takedown then it changes things, but I think she gets put out before that happens.
PICK – Maycee Barber via Knockout, Round 2

Clay Guida (37-18) vs Claudio Puelles (12-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Grizzly veteran vs hot prospect in this co-main event. Guida is a legendary name in the sport and earned a submission win in his most recent fight against Leonardo Santos most recently back in December. Puelles on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, earning a kneebar submission win against Chris Gruetzmacher most recently on the same card.

Guida is a grinder who uses his amazing cardio to constantly apply pressure on his opponents and wrestles them relentlessly. Puelles on the other hand is a lengthy fighter who uses kicks well but ultimately tries to get fights to the ground to use his amazing jiu-jitsu skills. He has some decent Muay-Thai skills too, using knees in the clinch well.

This fight is almost sure to take place largely against the cage with both guys working for control and trading shots on the inside. That screams like a Guida-style fight to me and there may be nobody better than him at this type of bout. Puelles on paper is likely to secure a submission, but he’s hittable on the feet and he doesn’t have better cardio than Guida so I have to go with the veteran here.
PICK – Clay Guida via Decision

Amanda Lemos (11-1-1) vs Jessica Andrade (22-9) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun strawweight main event between two fighters who are lacking star power but should still produce a great fight. Lemos has put together a five-fight win streak in the UFC, with a split decision win over Angela Hill most recently at UFC Vegas 45. Andrade took a trip to flyweight beating Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Fight Island 6) and Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 266) via first-round knockout either side of a title-fight defeat to Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261.

Lemos is a very good striker, with good kicks and great counter-striking down the middle. Andrade is a powerful unit with brilliant knockout power and some really good takedowns and slams in her arsenal. Lemos likes to open quickly with a blitz of strikes and forward pressure, which is something that Andrade has struggled with in the past. She has great experience though and her cardio is something that is a big advantage for her here.

Andrade is able to weather storms and keep pushing forward, while Lemos is considerably slower in the third round than she is in the first. So with this fight set for five rounds, Lemos could be in trouble if she doesn’t get it done early. I don’t think she will either and Andrade will eventually slam her down and do enough damage on the mat to get a referee stoppage late on.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 4

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN CARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Main card predictions

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ariane Carnelossi def Liang Na via Knockout, Round 2 (1:28)

Super fast start to this fight as the two women meet in the middle and Na lands a big right hand that drops Carnelossi to one knee immediately! Na pushes for a finish with a clinch and knee, then Na drops for a takedown. They scramble and Na ends up on top landing some nice ground and pound, but Carnelossi is defending quite well considering. Carnelossi gets back to her feet and lands some nice right hands, but Na gets another takedown and ends up on top again. Carnelossi threatens with an armbar from her back but Na defends it and ends up on bottom, but then she throws up an armbar of her own! Carnelossi defends it and ends on top landing big ground and pound strikes. Carnelossi takes the back of Na but is able to avoid. Carnelossi transitions to a mounted triangle during a scramble and lands some big shots on the ground as the round closes out! What a round! 10-9 Carnelossi.

Fast start to the second round again as Na lands a nice head kick and goes for a flurry of punches before a judo throw takes the fight to the ground again. Carnelossi is able to take the back of Na after escaping a headlock and starts raining down ground and pound once again. The referee tells Na to defend herself, she doesn’t and he stops the fight! Hugely impressive win for Carnelossi.

Jeffrey Molina def Aoriqileng via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)

A strong start to the round from Aoriqileng steps forward and starts walking Molina down early, backing him against the cage and cutting off the angles. Molina moving well and trying to counter Aoriqileng but the Chinese fighter staying long and landing well. Nice flurry in the clinch as Aoriqileng looks to take the fight down but Molina is scrambling well and fighting it off. A bit of a stalemate between both men as they trade clinch knees. Both men just miss with the right hand as they separate but the round ends without too much more action. 10-9 Aoriqileng.

Molina trying to keep off the cage at the start of this round but Aoriqileng’s pressure paying off right now as he uses his length well. Molina landing his left jab well as he circles but Aoriqileng is throwing his counter right hand well and it’s landing hard and flush too. Both men throwing bombs in the middle of the octagon now and Molina lands a nice one-two that sits Aoriqileng down! Aoriqileng returns fire and as Molina throws a high kick it gets caught and then he gets dropped with a right hand too! Molina starts to circle and move backwards again and as Aoriqileng throws a lazy kick right at the end of the round, Molina lands a perfect right hand that drops him! Molina goes for the finish but the buzzer goes. 19-19!

Aoriqileng is coming forward in this final round and “fighting angry” according to the commentary team but he’s landing some nice right hands with the extra pressure. Molina moving well though and landing his jab well and great counter shots. Aoriqileng shoots for a takedown but Molina stuffs it really well and keeps the fight standing. Molina starting to throw some great combinations and is throwing in body shots too. Big left hand from Molina forces Aoriqileng to cover up and Molina is starting to pick him apart now. Big elbow as Aoriqileng is starting to slow down and eat these big shots. Big body shot followed up with a clean one-two and Molina is picking him apart as we enter the final minute. Aoriqileng throwing back but just eating so many shots and taking so much damage. Molina bites down and looks for a finish with 10 seconds to go but gets rocked! Aoriqileng goes for a finish but the round ends. 29-28 Molina.

Kazula Vargas def Rongzhu via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)

A much more composed start to this fight from both fighters as Vargas looks to get some offence off early with feints and some low kicks. Vargas is landing really well, striking first and hard as Rongzhu seems to have a case of the nerves. A couple more low kicks lands and sends Rongzhu to the mat. Both guys land nice right hands simultaneously but as Vargas lands first Rongzhu is missing with the majority of his counters as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vargas.

Second round sees Rongzhu come out fast and take the centre and a quick takedown attempt but Vargas defends well. A second attempt sees Vargas synch in a guillotine and it’s tiiiight! Rongzhu fighting the legs(?) of the closed guard from Vargas as he squeezes the choke, but Rongzhu refusing to tap and staying calm. Vargas blowing his load squeezing and eventually Rongzhu escapes and starts landing some ground and pound and riding Vargas. He tries to take his back but Vargas is able to escape it and ends up on top again with top control. Rongzhu eventually gets back to his feet and shoots for another takedown as the round ends, close round. 20-18 Vargas for me though.

Vargas being very patient in this final round as he looks a bit more fatigued and almost expects to be winning the fight currently. Rongzhu flicking out his jab and looking to land a straight right hand, but Vargas keeps coming forward. Rongzhu lands a huge right hand on the chin but Vargas eats it and lands a jab, before Rongzhu lands a big right again on Vargas’ entry that drops him to one knee. Vargas landing his jab well now as Rongzhu starts to walk him down in the final 90 seconds. Vargas keeps circling away and Rongzhu almost chasing him now. Rongzhu shoots for a takedown and after a scramble ends up on top with 10 seconds to go, landing ground and pound. Close round again, 29-28 Vargas in the end for me.

Batgerel Danaa def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 1 (0:50)

Natividad starts quickly, rushing in with a couple of heavy right hands. Danaa throws a front kick that just misses and a right hand that lands on the temple. Natividad charges forward and Danaa steps forward, slips the punch, switches stances and lands a stunning left hook that puts Natividad down! Danaa lands some heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in to end the fight! What a knockout!

PRELIMS

Patrick Sabatini def Tristan Connelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Lots of pressure from Connelly early on as he forces Sabatini backwards and looks to flick out his jab and land a right hand down the pipe. Sabatini moving well and quickly changes direction to land a right hand that drops Connelly! Sabatini moves into top position quickly and starts working to pass guard, landing some short shots and forcing Connelly to defend from the bottom. Sabatini moves into an arm triangle position and Connelly gives up his back immediately, which allows Sabatini to lock in a body triangle and look to work for a rear naked choke. Sabatini starts landing some punches to try and open up the neck for the choke but Connelly is defending the hands really well and manages to see out the round. 10-9 Sabatini.

Connelly comes out in the same way as the first, with lots of pressure to back Sabatini against the cage moving backwards. Sabatini nice and calm though and eventually changes levels and lands a power double leg takedown to end up in top position early on. Sabatini avoids the upkicks of Connelly and moves into side control before looking to step into mount, but ends up in half guard. Sabatini floats through and ends up taking the back and is looking for a submission but Connelly escapes and continues to get dominated. Sabatini takes the back and locks in a body triangle again, then moves for an arm triangle and then takes the back again. Connelly is defending the submissions well but Sabatini is in complete control and sees out the round in control again. 20-18 Sabatini.

Sabatini and Connelly both spend the entire first half of the final round competing in the clinch, exchanging knees and positions against the cage but next to no strikes thrown between them. Connelly throws a solid right hand that lands on the chin, and Sabatini immediately shoots for the takedown but Connelly stuffs it well. Connelly walking Sabatini down as we enter the final minute and lands a nice overhand right, but Sabatini clinches up again to slow the fight down. Connelly gets a nice trip and ends up on top with 30 seconds to go, but Sabatini defends well and grabs a leg to stifle any attacks and the round ends. 29-28 Sabatini but it was a much more lopsided fight than that will suggest.

Brendan Allen def Karl Roberson via Submission (Straight Ankle Lock), Round 1 (4:55)

Fast start to the fight as both men open up with a head kick attempt, throwing heavy shots behind them too. Roberson throwing his left hand well and lands his jab nicely too, before a big right hand cracks Allen. Allen steps forward with a left straight and the two clinch up, which allows Allen to get the takedown against the cage. He’s able to step over into mount while Roberson is upright against the cage, but he keeps his chin tucked and is able to fight off the guillotine attempt. Allen overpowers him and is able to move him across the octagon and starts controlling on top again. Roberson looks to attack a leg to escape, but that allows Allen to grab a leg too. Allen then torques on an ankle lock and leans back and Roberson taps! Beautiful submission win from Allen!

Dwight Grant def Stefan Sekulic via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A conservative start from both fighters as Sekulic takes the centre and pumps out a jab along with some feints, while Grant is looking to get his range with feelers and feints of his own. Sekulic is trying not to rush in and get Grant on the end of his punches but Grant doing well to avoid for the most part. Head kick from Sekulic but Grant returns fire with a heavy low kick. Sekulic coming forward again and leaps in with a flying knee that just grazes Grant. Sekulic shoots in for a takedown in the final 30 seconds and gets it to probably snatch the round. 10-9 Sekulic.

A slow start once again to the second round as they continue to try and establish range and set traps for each other, but not much action in the opening minute or so. Sekulic shoots for a takedown but Grant stuffs it well, then throws a big right hand that wobbles Sekulic! He goes in to land a few more shots but Sekulic threatens with a knee up the middle and then a spinning wheel kick that both just miss and they both reset. Wild left hook from Grant just misses the chin of Sekulic as both guys trade low calf kicks before Sekulic shoots in deep for a takedown again and gets it. Sekulic starts trying to advance but Grant pops up to his feet with 45 seconds left in the round. Sekulic shoots in again and they clinch against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Sekulic.

Grant comes out with a bit more urgency in this round, and gets an early takedown of his own to end up on top. Sekulic looks for a shoulder lock off his back but Grant defends it, lands some big ground and pound strikes then gets up to bring the fight back up to the feet. Sekulic doing really well to stay at distance and gets a takedown of his own, but Grant gets back up quickly. Sekulic is landing nice straight shots with good movement and he lands a big shot that drops Grant! He moves in for a finish and sinks in a deeeeep guillotine attempt and just as Grant is going out the buzzer goes to end the round! 30-27 Sekulic, great performance from him.

Randy Brown def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:50)

A very intense start from both fighters as Brown comes out hard looking to do damage. Cowboy responds with lateral movement and some nice leg kicks that are causing problems early for Brown. Cowboy throws three, four more kicks and Brown drops down to one knee. Brown comes forward again and clips him with a left before he lands a BOMB of a right hand to drop Oliveira! Brown goes for the kill with ground and pound but Cowboy starts to grab him and eventually survives. Brown gets to mount and then takes the back of Cowboy who’s fighting the hands, but then Brown gets one arm under the chin. Oliveira fights the other hand to stop a grip but Brown presses his hand against the shoulder of Cowboy and eventually brings Cowboy down to force the tap with a one-handed rear-naked choke! Wow! What a performance!

MAIN CARD

Anthony Smith def Jimmy Crute via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)

Slow start to this one as it takes around a minute for both guys to start engaging, with Crute opting for low kicks and Smith landing nice jabs. Crute’s leg kicks are having an early effect on the movement of Smith so far, but the jab is landing clean and often and has stunned Crute! Smith lands a big, clean right hand and works Crute out. Smith returns a huge leg kick of his own that lands just behind the knee and Crute’s leg gives way completely. Crute shoots for a takedown and ends the round on top but he’s in trouble.

Between rounds the doctor examines Crute and waves the fight off as he can barely walk without it giving way. Crazy ending!

Uriah Hall def Chris Weidman via Knockout (Broken Leg), Round 1 (0:17)

Chris Weidman threw a leg kick and his leg has snapped in half! Oh my God! The literal first kick of the entire fight. Oh my goodness that is horrific. Get well soon Weidman.

******TRIGGER WARNING*****

Valentina Shevchenko def Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Very composed start from both ladies, as Shevchenko flicks a jab and then lands a nice one-two down the middle. Andrade misses with a couple of leg kicks and then Shevchenko closes the distance quickly and gets a takedown! Shevchenko dominating the position as Andrade gets back up and then dragged back down again. Shevchenko just misses with a head kick as they break, but then they clinch up again and Shevchenko trips her. She works for position and ends up on Andrade’s back and sinks an arm under the chin but the angle doesn’t allow the squeeze for a choke. She lets Andrade back up, holds her in place and then drags her down one more time to end the round in top position. 10-9, could argue a 10-8 maybe.

Both women come into the middle to start the round and after a short flurry between them both, Shevchenko overpowers Andrade and slams her to the mat once again. Andrade gets back up and pushes her against the cage but Shevchenko is overpowering Andrade and not allowing her to lift her for a takedown. Shevchenko then once again rag dolls Andrade and trips her down to the mat. Shevchenko quickly moves from side control and into a crucifix position and starts hammering away on Andrade’s face. Andrade trying to defend but Shevchenko turns the punches into elbows and the referee mercifully stops the fight. What a performance!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 1 (1:18)

Nice start from both women as Rose bounces around on the outside while Zhang throws some low kicks. Rose lands a jab and steps out to avoid a big right hand from Zhang. Namajunas fakes a low kick and goes to the chin and Zhang is OUT!! Rose lands three follow up shots and the referee steps in to wave it off! It’s over! AND NEWWWW!

Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Knockout, Round 2 (1:02)

Tense start to the title fight as Usman takes the centre of the cage and looks to land his excellent jab, while Masvidal is throwing some leg kicks. Usman lands a big overhand right flush on the chin but Masvidal shouts in his face after eating it. A few tighter exchanges and Masvidal goes for a flying knee, but Usman catches it and dumps him on his back. Masvidal fights get his full guard and starts throwing elbows from the bottom, but Usman stays strong on top and prevents him from getting back up to his feet too quickly but he eventually does. Usman lands a right hand and then a jab but Masvidal responds with a flurry of strikes and a big knee as the round ends. Close round, but 10-9 Usman for me.

Both men standing in the centre, not looking to give up an inch as Masvidal throws a few leg kicks to keep distance. Usman drops his level and throws a huge right straight that knocks Masvidal out cold!!!! Usman follows up with heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in! AND STILLLL!! What a knockout!

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, lets move on to the main card.


Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jimmy Crute (12-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A true veteran vs prospect bout as former title challenger Anthony Smith takes on the highly rated Jimmy Crute. Smith bounced back from consecutive defeats to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Vegas 8 with a triangle-choke submission win over Devin Clark at UFC Vegas 15. Crute on the other hand bounced back from his only career defeat to Misha Cirkunov with stoppage wins over Michal Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Fight Island 6.

Smith is a former golden gloves champion boxer while also possession a Gracie black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Crute is a powerful striker with a very wrestling heavy approach, with aggression and power in everything he does. Smith’s takedown defence is not the greatest at just 51% in his UFC career and if he’s on his back he does sometimes just shell up. Crute is so aggressive he could leave himself open for submissions against a guy who is very good at applying them and finishing but he will surely be aware of that.

Crute will go for takedowns and likely get them, but if the fight does stay on the feet Smith absolutely has the advantage on the feet. Despite that, I can’t look past Crute getting the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Decision

Uriah Hall (17-9) vs Chris Weidman (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch 11 years in the making in the middleweight division as ‘Prime Time’ takes on the former world champion. Hall has won his last three bouts in a row defeating Bevon Lewis and Antonio Carlos Jr before knocking out Anderson Silva at UFC Vegas 12 in the main event. Weidman had lost five of six via knockout prior to his last fight against Omari Akhmedov, which he won via decision at UFC Vegas 6.

Hall is a fearsome striker with incredible techniques and power, but volume is something he has always struggled with throughout his UFC career. Weidman is a power wrestler who has good submissions, but generally he looks to get takedowns and grind his opponent out from top position. Hall isn’t the best when it comes to takedown defence which helps Weidman hugely, but ‘The All-American’ has been knocked senseless so many times recently and Hall is a great counter-striker which just adds up to violence.

Weidman could easily grind out a great win with top control but Hall could just as easily put his lights out with a single shot and looking at their recent history I’m choosing Hall with something spectacular.
PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3

Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) vs Jessica Andrade (21-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The greatest women’s flyweight of all-time takes on the biggest threat to her crown so far as she takes on a former strawweight champion in one of three title fights on this card. Shevchenko has won her last six in a row with three of those coming by finish, although her last bout against Jennifer Maia ended in a judge’s scorecard win. Andrade lost her title to Weili Zhang then lost a rematch to Rose Namajunas at UFC 251 before moving up to 125lbs, defeating Kaitlyn Chookagian via body shots at UFC Fight Island 6.

Shevchenko is arguably the most well rounded women’s fighter around along with Amanda Nunes, with phenomenal striking, clinch work and solid grappling. Andrade however is a powerful wrestler who has incredible power in her punches too. The issues Andrade will have is closing the distance, because Shevchenko is an excellent counter striker and has brilliant footwork to be able to evade it. Andrade is good enough to be able to get in close and land big strikes and threaten takedowns, but from what we’ve seen of both I don’t know if that will be enough to dethrone the flyweight queen.

‘Bullet’ will evade the big slam takedowns, work behind her strikes and eventually land a big counter strike as Andrade starts to fade in the championship rounds.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 4

Weili Zhang (21-1) vs Rose Namajunas (10-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

My pick for fight of the night is the strawweight title fight between China’s Weili Zhang and ‘Thug Rose’ Namajunas. Zhang has won 21 fights in a row, including a knockout win over Jessica Andrade to win the title before one of the greatest fights of all-time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first defence. Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk twice before getting slammed on her head to lose the belt to Andrade, although she got her win back at UFC 251 with a split decision win.

Both these women are incredibly well rounded, with 15 submission wins between them but they also both have great striking too. Zhang is by far the more powerful of the two, while Namajunas is the more technical and arguably has a speed advantage between the two also. Namajunas is physically the bigger girl with a height and reach advantage, but Zhang is so much more physically imposing and powerful. I expect the volume of Zhang will be able to eventually start to wear on Namajunas and the power could close the show early.

Namajunas will need to mix it up brilliantly to come out on top here and I think Zhang is just too good for her right now.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 4

Kamaru Usman (18-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The biggest rematch on the card as the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his second title defence of the year against ‘Gamebred’ Jorge Masvidal. Usman beat Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer and followed that up with a knockout win over former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. Masvidal hasn’t fought since his defeat to Usman last time out.

Usman is an incredible wrestler but has shown in his more recent fights that he is a more than capable striker too. He has one of the best jabs in the company and has shown a durability in his game now that champions almost always have. Masvidal is a brawler with brilliant kickboxing skills and power in his hands, but he is also an excellent grappler in his own right. The issue is, Usman is just better. Masvidal landed some good shots in the first fight and Usman just walked through them and got takedowns relatively easily so it’s hard to see anything but that happening once again.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is promising a finish but Masvidal has only been finished three times in 49 fights prior to this, so I expect the same result as the first fight but in an even more dominant fashion this time around.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision

Jessica Andrade is the biggest threat to Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight title

It wasn’t long ago that Jessica Andrade was the reigning UFC strawweight champion of the world, after slamming Rose Namajunas on her head to become queen of the 115lbers.

While her reign didn’t last long in the UFC’s smallest weight class, Andrade has since proved that she can compete with the bigger girls too.

After losing the belt in under a minute to Weili Zhang in her first defence she then lost her rematch with Namajunas at UFC 251. Those two will now meet for the strawweight title at UFC 261, while Andrade has established herself as the number one contender at flyweight.

She made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 against the then number one contender Kaitlyn Chookagian. She entered the fight knowing that with the credit in the bank from her run at 115lbs, a win over the top dog in a division light on contenders would likely earn her a shot at the title.

Andrade didn’t disappoint, with a first-round stoppage via body shots setting up this fight with Valentina Shevchenko.

Shevchenko is without a doubt the best flyweight in the history of women’s MMA. She has an elite striking game, mixed in with a dominant ground game when needed and flawless technique. Her record shows that, with her only defeats in the UFC coming via decisions against the consensus best ever Amanda Nunes.

She has dominated against everyone since moving into her natural 125lbs weight class, but her last bout against Jennifer Maia showed up a few holes in her game that hadn’t been shown up in this division before.

Maia was able to get her down and maintain top control for an entire round, landing some good ground and pound and threatening with submissions. Shevchenko survived the round, weathered the storm and went on to win comfortably, but it’s fair to say that Andrade is a much more dangerous prospect in that world than Maia was.

The reality is that Andrade is excellent everywhere. She has great striking with powerful hands and knockout power, tremendous wrestling and a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. No matter where the fight goes, she has the potential to win.

She will apply pressure and look to close distance and if she can get her hands locked for a takedown, who’s to say she can’t slam Shevchenko on her head like she did Namajunas?

The Brazilian is without a doubt the biggest threat to ‘Bullet’s crown. Look through it, nobody can do it all to such a high level like these two women can. When you check the top 15, the only woman who can really hold a candle to them in both the striking and ground game simultaneously seems to Taila Santos, and she’s ranked all the way down in 13th.

If Shevchenko can overcome the threat that Andrade poses, then the division will well and truly be cleared out and she may have to start considering super-fights.

But don’t rule Andrade out yet, because she’s good enough to steal the show.

Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade announced for UFC 261

The UFC have announced the women’s flyweight championship will be defended in the main event of UFC 261 as Valentina Shevchenko defends her title against Jessica Andrade.

Shevchenko is currently on a six-fight win streak and will make her fifth defence of her 125lbs title against the former strawweight champion Andrade, who won her debut in the division last time out against Katlyn Chookagian.

The Brazilian won the 115lbs belt back in May 2019 with a TKO win over Rose Namajunas with a violent slam, before losing it to Weili Zhang in August of that year. She was then beaten by Namajunas in a rematch at UFC 251 before deciding to make the move up to what she called her “natural” weight-class in October.

Shevchenko on the other hand has been completely dominant since her run in the UFC began back in 2015, losing only twice – both times to bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes via decision.

UFC 261 is due to take place on April 24th 2021 and while a location isn’t determined yet, it’s expected to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at the UFC Apex. No other fights have been announced for the card yet.

Following her most recent wins over Chookagian and Jennifer Maia at UFC 255, many were speculating about the possibility of a super-fight for Shevchenko as it was suggested that she may have cleaned out the division.

With Andrade winning in her debut plus the previous title win she had in another division, Dana White made the claim that the 29-year-old could yet prove to be her toughest challenge yet at flyweight and wanted to make the fight.

A win for the Kyrgyzstani fighter would make a super-fight the only possible fight for her going forward, whether it be against Zhang who moves up to become a double-champ or her returning to bantamweight to fight Amanda Nunes for a third time.

A win for Andrade would be arguably the biggest shock in UFC women’s MMA history, with Shevchenko already cemented as the greatest flyweight in the world and regarded as one of the greatest of all time behind Nunes.

With an action packed PPV month in March planned with five title fights scheduled for UFC 259 and UFC 260, Shevchenko and Andrade will look to put on a show to ensure their slightly less stacked card will still be one to remember.

Who will be a female UFC champion in 2021?

As 2020 comes to an end, the UFC hasn’t seen much of a change at the top of each of its pyramids this year.

Weili Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes all successfully defended their women’s strawweight, flyweight and featherweight championships while the bantamweight title went undefended.

Zhang went toe-to-toe with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in one of the best fights of the year, winning in a razor close split decision. Shevchenko defended her belt twice, first defeating Katlyn Chookagian in at UFC 247 in February via knockout in the third round, before going the distance against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in November.

Nunes defended her featherweight championship at UFC 250, smashing through Felicia Spencer in a unanimous decision win before her second bout against Megan Anderson was called off and rescheduled for March, following injury to the Brazilian.

Looking into the future, it’s highly unlikely we see a change in the women’s divisions again, unless Nunes calls time on her glittering career. She spoke briefly about considering retirement after her partner Nina Ansaroff gave birth to their daughter, but she has a fight scheduled for March now and a win could spur her on to defend her bantamweight title again for the first time since December 2019.

At flyweight, Shevchenko is just leagues and levels above most of the division. The next challenger looks like it will be Jessica Andrade, but she was destroyed at 115lbs by Zhang and Shevchenko hits just as hard and is as good on the ground herself.

UFC 237: Namajunas v Andrade : News Photo
Could we see Andrade capture UFC gold again in 2021?

As for Zhang, the likelihood is that she’ll face Rose Namajunas next and while stylistically it’s a great match up I think the Chinese athlete will be able to get it done in similar fashion to the way she beat Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The division is deep, but with wins over JJ and Rose it’s tough to see anyone else good enough to take her crown.

There is always the possibility of a super-fight between two of the three women, although it’s far more likely to not include the Brazilian. Nunes has already beaten Shevchenko twice, although both were razor close decisions, and Dana White has admitted he doesn’t see much point in a trilogy fight.

Zhang and Shevchenko could however face each other, with the fight most likely to take place in Bullet’s flyweight division. Zhang has fantastic power in her punches and kicks and has a great submission game on the ground, something that Shevchenko would have to be wary of. But the Kyrgyzstan native is a master of range management and has similar power and craft, so I’d back her to retain her belt if that happened.

All in all, expect a lot of contenders to make a case in 2021 that they could be the next champion in their respective weight class but they will all have a tough task at toppling their respective queens.

UFC 255 Fallout: Figueiredo The Scariest 125lber Ever, Buckley Beefing Krause

The November showcase of the flyweight divisions didn’t let us down at UFC 255 as both champions retained their belts in rather dominant fashion.

In the main event of the night Deiveson Figueiredo went head-hunting against challenger Alex Perez and got a first round finish, with a scramble on the ground leading to a deep guillotine choke in less than two minutes.

In the women’s title fight, Valentina Shevchenko outclassed Jennifer Maia to a unanimous decision win after an interesting game plan saw her take the fight to the ground on several occasions against the jiu-jitsu expert.

For Figueiredo it was the confirmation that he is the biggest and best fighter the division has seen since Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson.

‘God of War’ improved his record to 20-1 and made it seven finishes from ten fights in the division, tying the record for finishes with Mighty Mouse. It also means he improved to 3-0 for 2020, with finishes in all those fights.

Immediately after the fight he called for his next title defence to be against #1 ranked Brandon Moreno, who defeated Brandon Royval earlier in the night with a first round TKO after he dislocated his shoulder in a scramble.

The UFC have already made their move in booking that fight, with a 21 day turnaround expected as the two will headline December’s UFC 256 pay-per-view event. The decision was made after both fighters verbally agreed to the fight within two hours of this weekend’s card ending and Petr Yan being forced to withdraw from his fight with Aljamain Sterling due to personal reasons.

A win for Figueiredo in that fight will see him win four title fights in the calendar year, more than any UFC fighter in history. His power, speed and ability on the ground make him the total package and without a doubt the scariest prospect the flyweight division has ever seen.

For Shevchenko, the UFC look set to pair her up with former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade in her next title defence according to Dana White.

Shevchenko won her fight relatively comfortably on the night, although she was dominated in the second round by Jennifer Maia on the ground which is something future challengers will look to for encouragement to beat her.

Andrade is a heavy-hitting striker, as she showed when she finished Katlyn Chookagian with a body shot last month, but also an excellent wrestler with dominant top control and ground and pound. She would pose an entirely new threat to Shevchenko, something the UFC president is excited to see.

Away from the title picture, Joaquin Buckley continued his fine performances in the UFC with another big knockout win over an undefeated fighter – this time Jordan Wright.

Buckley was strong, powerful and explosive as he smashed his way through Wright at the end of the opening round before finishing the job inside 20 seconds of round two with a big right hand to the temple.

After the fight though, a fired up Buckley called for a fight with an unnamed fighter who has been disrespecting him online. That fighter is James Krause, the head coach of Glory MMA and their beef stems from comments made by Krause on a podcast.

According to Krause, Buckley has been kicked out of every gym in the Louisiana area they’re from due to roughing sparring partners up and generally just not being nice to be around. Buckley has taken offence to the comments and challenged him to a bout at welterweight (Krause’s natural division) or middleweight (where Krause has appeared once before).

Dana White confirmed in the post-event press conference that he would be interested in making the fight happen but he needed to talk with both fighters first to make sure they’re interested and what not.

A great event that has shaped up some future cards and built two champions up even further, a job well done to all involved.

UFC Fight Island 6 Fallout – Ortega 2.0, Andrade a threat at 125lbs

After 22 months away from the octagon, Brian Ortega returned with a striking clinic to completely outclass the Korean Zombie on Fight Island this past weekend.

It was widely expected that Ortega would need to get the fight into grappling range and take it to the ground to beat Chan Sung Jung, with the Korean Zombie expected to dominate any sort of striking affair.

However it was Ortega who dominated on the feet, leading with a strong jab and staying largely out of Zombie’s range while mixing in leg kicks and feinting takedowns to completely throw him off his rhythm. ‘T-City’ won every round decisively, out-striking Jung for 25 minutes and shutting down talk that Max Holloway had proven he couldn’t hang at the top of the division.

With the win, Ortega will now face Alex Volkanovski for the featherweight title in the future with both the champ himself and UFC president Dana White confirming that is the plan.

A match-up with Volkanovski is about as interesting a fight that you can make in the featherweight division currently, with both guys extremely talented in all aspects of MMA. Volkanovski has got great wrestling skills and top control while he showed he is more than a capable striker by hanging with Max Holloway in both fights.

He’ll need to be careful against this version of Ortega though, as he looked more than comfortable striking on the feet but also he’s far more dangerous on the ground than Holloway ever has been. If Volkanovski opts to try to throw leg kicks like he did to win the title, then Ortega will look to catch the kick and get a takedown before latching on to the neck for a choke.

UFC Fight Night: Chookagian v Andrade : News Photo

The fight will take place likely in the first half of 2021 and is definitely one to be excited for.

Another fight that could happen in the first half of 2021 is Jessica Andrade challenging for the flyweight title. In her division debut, she stopped former challenger Katlyn Chookagian with body shots to get a knockout win for the first time since winning the strawweight title with her infamous slam on Rose Namajunas. She immediately called for a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko after the fight and it’s something the UFC should seriously consider.

Shevchenko is due to defend her title against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 next month but she has so far made short work of everyone in the division since it was created. She has beaten everyone she has faced in the UFC except for Amanda Nunes but Andrade poses a different threat than most others have presented her with. The Brazilian has genuine knockout power in her hands but also has an exceptional ground game. She’s a pocket-sized Nunes who will look to close the distance to stop Shevchenko using her kicking game and she has shown she has the strength to pick girls up and slam them regardless of the weight division, something ‘Bullet’ will need to be wary of letting her do.

With the UFC now planning into the new year, two new contenders have emerged for two dominant champions to turn their attentions to.