Tag Archives: Joanne Calderwood

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira vs Tate – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for a women’s bantamweight main event bout between Ketlen Vieira and former champion Miesha Tate.

Tate will be looking to keep the UFC’s dreams of a potential rematch with Amanda Nunes alive with a win in the main event, while Vieira is hopeful of killing off her comeback plans.

In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa will be looking to fight off gatekeeper claims in the welterweight division when he takes on the undefeated prospect Sean Brady.

Last week at UFC Vegas 42 we had a poor showing with our picks, earning jut 5/11 correct with three perfect picks to move to 476/741 (64.24%) with 200 perfect picks (42.02%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that this week with this 12 fight card and after starting with the early prelims and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Davey Grant (13-5) vs Adrian Yanez (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Absolute banger to open the main card in my pick for fight of the night. Grant earned a KO win over Jonathan Martinez at UFC Vegas 21, before defeat to Marlon Vera at UFC Vegas 29 most recently. Yanez, dubbed ‘baby Masvidal’, is undefeated in the UFC and earned stunning KO victories against Victor Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 12, Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 22 and then Randy Costa at UFC Vegas 32.

Grant is a solid wrestler who has recently developed his hands to be able to knock people out cold with his looping hooks. Yanez on the other hand is a super tidy boxer, with great power and footwork and the ability to mix up body and head attacks brilliantly. This is a fight that seems highly unlikely to go the distance, because both guys don’t know how to step backwards. Grant has fallen in love with his hands recently and if he wants to trade strike-for-strike with Yanez, he’s probably going to sleep.

If Grant opts to use his wrestling more though, he could use his experience to be able to grind out a win and slow Yanez’s output down entirely. With that said though, Yanez has shown decent takedown defence in the past and because of how much Grant loads up with his strikes I can see Yanez countering with a nice combination and scoring a huge knockout win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2

Joanne Wood (15-6) vs Taila Santos (18-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Formerly Joanne Calderwood, Wood debuts her new surname after marriage to return to the octagon against a super hot prospect. Wood is 4-4 in her last eight, with a win over Jessica Eye at UFC 257 being followed up by a loss to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 last time out. Santos on the other hand has lost just once, on her UFC debut, and has won each of her last three fights against Molly McCann at UFC Fight Island 1, Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 17 and then against Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 266.

Wood has got some solid kickboxing skills, good wrestling and a decent submission threat on the ground too despite just one tap-out win in her career. Santos has shown throughout her career that she is also supremely well-rounded, with some great takedowns and jiu-jitsu skills as well as crisp kickboxing on the feet. This is a very tough fight to call, because it’s experience against the uprising talent.

Santos has proven to be too physically strong for all her opponents so far and has got the power to make fighters try to take her down, where she has been able to control everyone else too. Wood has got lots of experience and good footwork too, but ultimately Santos will likely just be hungrier and more active to earn a close decision win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Rani Yahya (27-10-1) vs Kyung Ho Kang (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A submission battle beckons in this one in the bantamweight division. Yahya is 1-1-1 in his last three, suffering defeat to Ricky Simon and drawing with Enrique Barzola before finally returning to the win column against Ray Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 21. Kang on the other hand has won each of his last three fights, but steps into the cage for the first time since December 2019 after injury.

Yahya is a jiu-jitsu black belt with all 21 of his stoppage victories coming via submission throughout his career, while Kang is an excellent wrestler who also looks to secure submissions rather than just simply control his opponents. Both these guys will be desperate for the fight to hit the ground as soon as possible, and that only fits to suit Yahya’s style as much as possible.

If he gets taken down he is very good at getting back to his feet quickly, and if he ends up on top then the likelihood of Kang getting back to his feet are slim unless the round ends or the referee is waving the fight off. Ultimately, this is the perfect stylistic match-up for an ageing bantamweight and I think Yahya will likely be able to transition on the ground to get Kang’s neck and secure another stoppage win.
PICK – Rani Yahya via Submission, Round 2



Michael Chiesa (18-5) vs Sean Brady (14-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger at welterweight between two ranked fighters. Chiesa was on the brink of a title shot with four wins in a row against Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8, before defeat last time out to Vicente Luque at UFC 265 pushed him down to number six in the rankings. Brady on the other hand is undefeated in his career and 4-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Court McGee and Ismail Naurdiev before submissions against Christian Aguilera at UFC Vegas 8 and Jake Matthews at UFC 259.

Chiesa is a brilliant wrestler with unbelievable grappling and jiu-jitsu skills, with his back control being among the best in the entire company. Brady is also a stud wrestler, with good stand-up skills and decent boxing while on the mat he is more than capable of locking up a couple of submissions too. This is a stylistic clash, because it’s two primary grapplers but both are also capable of holding their own in the opposite world.

Whoever is on top in the grappling exchanges will be the dominant one and on the feet they’re both pretty even. Ultimately though I think this level is a bit too big of a jump for Brady and I think Chiesa should be able edge it on the feet and eventually control on the ground to secure a decision victory and hand Brady his first defeat.
PICK – Michael Chiesa via Decision

Ketlen Vieira (11-2) vs Miesha Tate (19-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Main event time in the women’s bantamweight division to round off what looks to be a very fun card. Vieira is 1-2 in her last three, with a win over Sijara Eubanks at UFC 253 sandwiched between defeats to Irene Aldana at UFC 245 and Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 19. Tate returned from a near four-year retirement to score a third-round TKO win over Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31 in the summer.

Vieira is a decent wrestler with some excellent jiu-jitsu, with a brilliant heavy position from the top where she can flatten her opponents out and just dominate. Tate on the other hand is also an excellent wrestler, using a powerful double-leg takedown and some good jiu-jitsu from the mat to secure seven submission wins in her career.

This is a fight that doesn’t really have any place being a main event, but it is. Vieira has struggled with weight issues in the past, missing weight in her defeat to Kunitskaya and does not having any previous five-round experience. With Tate likely to push the pace and gain top position at some point, it’s hard to see how she may lose this fight because stylistically that goes against everything Vieira stands for. It won’t be the most exciting main event, but Tate should be able to control with her wrestling and cardio to earn a decision win.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.

PRELIMS

Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Prelims predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here lets move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Movsar Evloev (14-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight between the undefeated Evloev against the impressive Dawodu. Evloev got wins at UFC Fight Island 3 over Mike Grundy and UFC 257 against Nick Lentz via decision, while Dawodu is on a five-fight win streak himself including a split decision over Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 253.

Evloev is among the elite wrestlers in the UFC, who will take you down and hold you down for as long as he wants to beat you up on your back. Dawodu on the other hand is a striker with good power, but he has a mean leg kick and a tight front guillotine too. While those kicks will be key to his path to victory, they also give Evloev a constant chance to catch them and take him down and that’s a big problem.

Overall, Evloev’s wrestling is just too good for Dawodu and he should be able to beat him up for 15 minutes for a wide win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Lauren Murphy (14-4) vs Joanne Calderwood (15-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two UFC veterans go head-to-head in the women’s flyweight division here to break into the title conversation once again. Murphy has won four-in-a-row, with a decision over Roxanne Modafferi at UFC Vegas 3 before a submission win over Lillya Shakirova at UFC 254. Calderwood went 1-1 in 2020, losing to Jennifer Maia at UFC Vegas 5 before beating Jessica Eye at UFC 257.

Murphy is a terrific striker, with her clinch game among the best of the rest in the division outside of the champion. She uses her long limbs well and loves to land an elbow, while Calderwood is a decent striker in her own right but she has wrestling to fall on too. Calderwood is arguably the better striker, but Murphy has more tools in her belt to push for a win.

She’s got striking, grappling and size and I think this win sets her up for a title fight.
PICK – Lauren Murphy via Decision

Eryk Anders (13-5 1NC) vs Darren Stewart (12-6 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The UKโ€™s Darren Stewart makes a return to the octagon after a mixed 2020 when he takes on Eryk Anders looking to get back on track. Stewart went 1-2 last year losing to Bartosz Fabinski on a Cage Warriors card after UFC London got cancelled, beforeย submitting Maki Pitolo in the first round at UFC Vegas 6ย and losing aย split decision to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 11. Anders has lost four of his last six, most recently to Krzysztof Jotko in May before missing weight in November. These two fought each other in March at UFC Vegas 21, but it was a no contest after an illegal knee from Anders.

Both guys are quite well rounded all over the mixed martial arts world, but Anders seems to struggle under pressure. Stewart seems super confident in his chin and that means heโ€™s happy to walk forward and heโ€™s certainly more active. I think he has the physicality advantage too and with good submission skills and good power he will be confident. Anders showed that he has the power to hurt Stewart though in their first bout and that could lead to a more wrestle heavy approach from Stewart.

Ultimately, ‘The Dentist’ runs it back and snaps a two-fight winless run.
PICK โ€“ Darren Stewart via Decision

Drew Dober (23-10) vs Brad Riddell (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A truly brilliant fight for the feature prelim bout as Dober and Riddell meet in a striker’s paradise type fight here. Dober was on a three-fight win streak before taking a short-notice fight with Islam Makhachev and getting choked out at UFC 259, while Riddell got a win over Alex da Silva Coelho at UFC 253 before a fight with Gregor GIllespie fell through in March.

Dober is a terrific boxer with good leg kicks and a great gas tank, with plenty of power in his right cross. Riddell on the other hand is a world class kickboxer with power in all his limbs and joints, while his footwork often opens up new angles for him to strike. Both guys are durable and skilled with power too.

Riddell sometimes starts slowly, but his experience in a purely stand-up battle tells me he has the edge here. Neither guy will need to prepare for takedowns and when it comes to just pure striking, there aren’t many 155lbers better at it than Riddell.
PICK – Brad Riddell via Knockout, Round 3

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Amir Albazi def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the bout from Zhumagulov as he lands two really nice combos on the feet. Albazi starting to work some leg kicks but Zhumagulov throwing a heavy overhand right that is just missing the target. Albazi starting to pressure against the cage and throws a big knee that Zhumagulov just steps out of the way of. Albazi shoots for a double leg and gets it, but Zhumagulov uses the cage to get back up quickly and they break apart. Both men exchange leg kicks in the centre, before Albazi lands a big right hand. Spinning back fist in response from Zhumagulov is followed by a left hook. Big double leg takedown from Zhumagulov takes Albazi down in the final seconds and ends the round on top. 10-9 Zhalgas.

Albazi comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands three big leg kicks early that get a reaction from Zhumagulov. Looks for a big knee against the cage but misses again and Zhumagulov lands a nice left hand. Albazi jabbing really well and pressuring against the cage, as Zhumagulov is loading a big right hand but can’t land it. Lots of movement and small touches from each man but Albazi controlling the pace of this round well. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Albazi denies it and ends the round in a dominant position. 19-19.

Albazi controlling the distance in the final round here, landing jabs and maintaining his range. He shoots for the takedown and is denied but after a scramble he clinches up and gets Zhumagulov down and is in his full guard. Nice ground and pound and control from Albazi from the top position as he passes into side control and then takes the back. Albazi sinks the hooks in and threatens a rear naked choke but Zhumagulov fighting the hands well. Zhumagulov tries to turn into his guard but Albazi defends the position perfectly and continues the threaten the submission as we enter the final minute. Zhumagulov bursts out and gets back to his feet and starts firing punches and kicks. Albazi counters with a right hand and just using his footwork really well to avoid any damage and the round ends. Should be a win for Albazi. 29-28.

Movsar Evloev def Nik Lentz via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to this fight, as Lentz throws a leg kick and shovel uppercut to start the fight before moving for a takedown against the cage. Evloev defends well and falls on top, but Lentz looks to lock in a guillotine choke! It gets tighter and tighter and Evloev has to roll through to escape, before rolling through once again to end up back on top. Lentz continue to threaten with the guillotine but Evloev defends well again and ends the round on top firing in some excellent ground and pound. 10-9 Evloev.

Lentz looking to stand in this round and landing well but Evloev trying to up the pace and coming forward with some more awkward striking. Trip attempt from Lentz against the cage and once again he goes for the guillotine and forces Evloev to roll away once again. Lentz seems to be landing the better strikes on the feet but Evloev is doing more damage to the blind eye. Nice uppercut from Evloev lands and Lentz charges forward looking for a trip but misses it. Evloev lands some shots to the eye and it’s causing Lentz some problems, so he goes for a front headlock looking for a guillotine again! Evloev escapes again though and smothers Lentz with a few strikes as they stand up. Round ends against the cage, 20-18 Evloev for me.

Both men choosing to strike in this round, trading jabs and kicks. Lentz looks very tired but is trying to take the centre, while Evloev is bouncing and moving well still. Evloev lands a nice three-punch combo and that gets Lentz to shoot for a takedown but Evloev defends it really well and gets back to the feet quickly. Evloev catches a kick from Lentz and lands a stiff right hand that wobbles Lentz, who looks exhausted now. Evloev dominating the fight now with sharp striking and short combos, really putting a hurting on Lentz. Round comes to an end with Evloev dominating the exchanges again, a beautiful performance. 30-27.

PRELIMS

Marcin Prachnio def Khalil Rountree Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A cagey start to this one with lots of feints and fakes from both fighters. Prachnio backs Rountree up against the cage and fires off some kicks, but Rountree comes back with some big punches of his own. Prachnio throwing a nice side kick to maintain distance, but Rountree switches to southpaw and starts throwing big straight left hands to steal the round potentially. 10-9 either way, but Rountree for me.

Rountree comes out hard and fast in the second round and wobbles Prachnio immediately but stays patient and doesn’t go for the kill. Some more left hands land from Rountree but Prachnio is swinging wildly and landing on occasion. Big exchange in the centre and then throws a lazy leg kick that gets countered with a powerful left hand. Rountree is countering Prachnio’s strikes really well and then lands a huge left hand that drops Prachnio! He stays patient and then lands a huge head kick but Prachnio keeps it standing and the round ends. Huge end for Rountree. 20-18 for me but could be even.

Big start to the third round for Rountree again as he lands a couple more of those big left hands to open up. Prachnio being a bit more patient and coming forward with his shots but Rountree looking good. Rountree defends two takedowns well and Prachnio starting to work on the body as Rountree is tiring. Lazy swings from Rountree now but then he lands a beautiful counter uppercut. Both men trading strikes in the centre of the octagon looking for a winning punch but the round comes to an end. Great fight, 29-28 Rountree for me but could well be the other way.

Juliana Pena def Sara McMann via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:39)

Cagey opening to this fight but both women looking to take this fight on the feet to start with, trading solid shots to the head. McMann fires off with a big right hand, Pena fires back with one of her own. Takedown attempt from McMann and she takes it, quickly progressing to take the back of Pena. She tries to sink the hooks in but doesn’t quite get it and they eventually scramble to a half-guard position with McMann on top. She lands a big elbow from the top and keeps the position for the rest of the round. 10-9 McMann.

Pena comes out with big pressure in the second round and forces McMann to shoot early. Pena looks to lock up a guillotine but McMann defends it really well and passes into guard. Pena being very active off her back, throwing lots of elbows and strikes and looking for submissions. McMann defending the submissions well though and landing some big elbows of her own. She tries to transition to the back but Pena defends well and gets back to the feet against the cage. Clinch position sees both women throw lots of knees to the body, before Pena lands a nice three-punch combo to end the round. 19-19 for me.

Big round for Pena as she comes out heavy with the strikes again before another clinch against the cage. This time Pena goes for a trip and gets it. She starts working the ground and pound from the top with McMann facing down on the ground. Pena takes the back, slaps on a body triangle and immediately goes for a rear naked choke. She sinks it in and McMann taps out. What a performance.

Brad Tavares def Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to the fight for ‘Shoeface’ as the two trade strikes before he shoots for the takedown against the cage. He tries to lift the head above Tavares’ head to send him to the ground but he shows excellent flexibility to deny him. The two then trade big shots in the centre and Shoeface shoots again, powering Tavares across the cage. Tavares manages to keep his balance though and keep the fight standing after a clinch against the cage. A big exchange again sees Shoeface go for the takedown before they clinch against the cage and a big low blow accidentally lands from Shoeface. Fight paused but only a few seconds remain. 10-9 Shoeface.

Better start to the round for Tavares here as he lands some nice strikes before Shoeface changes levels and gets the takedown successfully this time. Shoeface tries to hold him down but Tavares pops back up to his feet again and manages to escape once again. Tavares landing his jab nicely which forces Shoeface to shoot for another takedown but he fails it again. Tavares lands a big one-two against the cage that drops Shoeface! He tries to go for the takedown to recover but Tavares defends it again and looks to land a big knee that misses and hits the cup to cause a pause and allow Shoeface to recover. Round ends with a big body kick from Tavares. 19-19.

Tavares popping his jab out nicely in the final round, keeping Shoeface at a distance. Shoeface shoots for another takedown but once again it’s defended perfectly against the cage and comes out firing big leg kicks. Tavares is slipping the punches of Shoeface now and landing big strikes of his own and defending takedowns too for the rest of the round to claim what should be a decision win for the Hawaiian. 29-28.

Arman Tsarukyan def Matt Frevola via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Fast paced start to this one as Frevola steps out with a wild right hook that misses and Tsarukyan shoots straight in for a takedown and gets it. Frevola scoots back to the cage and gets back to his feet before being lifted and slammed back down. Frevola gets back to his feet quickly again but Tsarukyan continues to stay in the pocket and changes levels for more takedowns. Frevola continues to reverse positions and get back to his feet quickly though and is throwing with great power on the feet to end the round. 10-9 Tsarukyan but could go either way.

Fast start to the second round here too as Tsarukyan comes out and moves straight for a takedown and gets it. He finally manages to hold Frevola down and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes from the top. Frevola tries to escape but Tsarukyan drags him back down to the ground and starts to dominate. He keeps him down and lands more big strikes and passes position to take the round. 20-18 Tsarukyan.

Final round and Tsarukyan is maintaining a good pace and gets another takedown early. Frevola gets back to the feet quicker this time and the two engage in a bit more of a striking battle. Some great jabs land before more takedowns from Tsarukyan as he starts to hold position and dominate from the top. Fantastic performance and it should be enough to get him the decision. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Marina Rodriguez def Amanda Ribas via Knockout, Round 2 (0:54)

Good start to the fight for Ribas as she takes the centre of the cage, applies pressure and throws a few flurries of punches. Rodriguez looks to come in with a punch and Ribas slips it and gets a takedown early on. She keeps top position and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes as Rodriguez looks to defend from her back. Ribas continues to control from the top landing strikes and sees out the round. 10-9 Ribas.

Rodriguez comes out in the second round and lands a huge right hand early that drops Ribas! She lands some huge shots and the referee steps in then steps back out.. Ribas gets back up with Rodriguez celebrating but the fight isn’t over. Rodriguez comes back, lands a huge elbow and two massive right hands before the referee waves it off! What a knockout!

Makhmud Muradov def Andrew Sanchez via Knockout, Round 3 (2:59)

Tense start to this fight with both men bouncing in and out of distance looking to get a reaction from each other. Sanchez shoots in for a takedown but Muradov sprawls and defends it perfectly, as he gets back up quickly and throws some heavy calf kicks. Muradov lands a nice right hand on the chin, but Sanchez eats it well. More calf kicks from Muradov before a nice one-two to the body. Another leg kick but Sanchez throws a nice right hand to counter and lands it well. Muradov goes for a flying knee but Sanchez lands a nice strike. Muradov goes for a takedown with seconds remaining but Sanchez denies it. 10-9 Muradov.

An interesting second round as Muradov continues to look for leg kicks, while Sanchez is closing the distance well and landing a straight right hand. Lots of bouncing and feinting again from both men as Sanchez goes for a takedown against the cage but Muradov defends it well. Muradov lands a nice right hand but Sanchez continues to walk forward and strike. Big left hook from Muradov lands with a straight right behind it. Big flying crane kick from Muradov and a huge right hand behind it opens a big cut on the nose of Sanchez as the round ends. Close round, but that final exchange edges it to Muradov. 20-18.

Slower start to the third round as Muradov looks to take the centre and control the pace. Some nice body shots land before a big right overhand right connects, but Sanchez is still in there firing back. Muradov has abandoned the leg kicks now it seems and is looking for a big knockout. Sanchez lands two big shots, but Muradov returns fire with a big overhand right that makes Sanchez do the chicken dance. Flying knee behind it before some bombs and the referee waves it off. Huge win!

Joanne Calderwood def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to this fight as Calderwood moves in quickly with clinch and lands some dirty boxing and knees to the body. Eye trying to use her physicality edge by wearing Calderwood up against the cage and firing back with strikes of her own. Calderwood landing some nice knees to the body as Eye looks to find a takedown against the cage. Lots of body work in the clinch from both ladies, with slightly more diverse attacking from Calderwood. Very even round.

Eye is marching forward in this round and landing her right hand well, but Calderwood using her length well from the outside. Nice push kicks and a big right hand lands for Calderwood, but Eye fires back with some uppercuts in the clinch and a nice elbow. Huge knee to the face by Calderwood on the break from a clinch and a huge body kick follows it up. Calderwood striking really well from range, althought Eye gets a takedown late on in the round but should still be a Calderwood round. 20-18 or 19-19.

Eye comes out aggressively in the final round and goes straight with a clinch against the cage as she looks for an opportunity for a takedown. Calderwood defending really well but not much action being seen as they battle to a stalemate against the cage and the referee breaks them apart. Clinch in the centre and Calderwood lands some nice knees again, then stuffs a takedown attempt. Nice right hand from Calderwood lands and then she sprawls quickly to deny Eye’s takedown attempt. Final 30 seconds and they clinch again, with both women throwing big knees and Calderwood lands a strike that cuts Eye wide open above the eye! That should be a Calderwood decision win.

Michael Chandler def Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 1 (2:30)

Very tense start to the bout as the first 90 seconds are essentially just Hooker circling away from Chandler. A few leg kicks land but Chandler keeps coming forward. Long jab to the body and a huge left hook lands and drops Hooker!! He pounces and smashes him on the ground until the referee steps in and ends the fight! Wow! What a debut!

Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2 (2:32)

Fast start from McGregor as he comes out into the centre quickly and throws a straight left. Poirier slips another one and returns with a right hook then gets an outside trip and takes the fight to the ground (!?) McGregor scoots back to the cage and works his way back up to his feet. Clinch against the cage and the two exchange shoulder strikes before breaking. The two break and Conor lands a clean left hand on the chin that wobbles Poirier but he stays standing Both guys land nice shots. Poirier working the leg kicks but McGregor fires back to end the round. 10-9 Conor.

Second round and Poirier continues to fire leg kicks and they seem to be hurting Conor more and more. McGregor is struggling to walk on the leg and Poirier is starting to turn the pressure up. Nice shots land and McGregor is hurt. He’s sitting in the pocket and trading, but Poirier is landing heavy shots. He lands a big combination and sits McGregor down! Follows up with a few more but the referee waves it off! Wow!

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Main Card Predictions

A swift return to action for the UFC as the final instalment of their Fight Island triple header is upon us, with Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor in a lightweight eliminator.

A rematch from six years prior, both men look to put their stamp to a claim to be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship while in the co-main event, two other lightweight contenders scrap to do the same thing. Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut after signing from Bellator to take on Dan Hooker, with both men knowing that a win puts them firmly in the conversation for the next title shot.

A fun 11 fight card is on the horizon here, with plenty of good fights on the undercard to come before the two big bouts of the night.

Last time out at UFC Fight Island 8, we went 12/14 with our picks with four perfect picks to boost us up to 212/327 (64.83%) with 93 perfect picks (43.87%) since starting our picks back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that record here and having already predicted the prelim bouts, we take a look at the main card now.

MAIN CARD

** Ottman Azaitar was removed from the card after breaking healthy and safety regulations. He has been released from the UFC.
Nasrat Haqparast didn’t weigh in due to illness. Matt Frevola will now fight Arman Tsarukyan on the prelims.**

Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) vs Amanda Ribas (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting bout at 115lbs as the division’s biggest prospect Amanda Ribas returns to the cage to take on Marina Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s last two fights have seen her fight Cynthia Calvillo to a draw before a split decision loss to Carla Esparza on Fight Island last year, while Ribas is on a five fight win streak including two wins in 2020 against Randa Markos and a first round submission over Paige VanZant.

Rodriguez has good striking skills as her five knockout wins show, while Ribas is one of the best grapplers in women’s MMA. Rodriguez loves a Muay Thai clinch, and throws great elbows and knees and is also busy off her back as she showed against Esparza. Ribas is one of the best on the ground though with phenomenal jiu-jitsu, and if she gets the fight to the ground she will win this bout. Ultimately I think she will, but it will likely be closer than it looks on the odds.
PICK – Amanda Ribas via Submission, Round 2

Matt Frevola (8-1-1) vs Ottman Azaitar (13-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another fun lightweight fight on a card made to shine a light on the division, as Matt Frevola makes a return after missing all of 2020 to take on Morocco’s Ottman Azaitar.

Frevola beat Jalin Turner and Luis Pena in 2019, while Azaitar knocked out both Teemu Packalen in 2019 and then Khama Worthy in the first round in Vegas after just 93 seconds. Frevola is a wrestler, who will look to take you down and control from the top while Azaitar is an undefeated striker with tremendous power.

Azaitar’s wrestling isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as Frevola’s. That said, Frevola isn’t the type to strike fear into your heart if he shoots on you. Azaitar should feel confident if he takes the centre of the cage that he will be able to land heavy shots as Frevola tries to close the distance and get a knockout win.
PICK – Ottman Azaitar via Knockout, Round 1

Andrew Sanchez (13-5) vs Makhmud Muradov (24-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun fight between two middleweights as former Ultimate Fighter winner Sanchez takes on ‘The Money Team’s’ first MMA fighter, Makhmud Muradov.

Sanchez has won three of his last four, with the defeat coming to Marvin Vettori, before bouncing back with a first round knockout win over Wellington Turman. Muradov is on a 13-fight win streak including wins in his first two UFC fights against Alessio Di Chirico and Trevor Smith back in 2019.

Sanchez is very well rounded, with great wrestling and steady striking, while Muradov is one of the better boxers we’ve seen in MMA. 16 knockout wins in his career show the power he possesses, but his footwork is excellent too and he has the striking edge. It’s a classic clash of styles and we’ve not seen Muradov’s ground game just yet. Sanchez has decided to start striking in his recent fights and if he does that here he’s going to sleep, especially with his cardio issues.
PICK – Makhmud Muradov via Knockout, Round 2

Jessica Eye (15-8) vs Joanne Calderwood (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight fight between two women who want to get back up to the top of the 125lbs division after suffering two losses in their last three fights.

Eye got head kicked into a different stratosphere when she fought Valentina Shevchenko for the title, before bouncing back for a win over Viviane Araujo but then lost her main event against Cynthia Calvillo back in June. Calderwood was preparing for a title shot with ‘Bullet’ but got tired of waiting and took a short notice fight with Jennifer Maia, but lost the fight and her future title shot via first round armbar.

It’s a tight bout between the two, with both women preferring the stand up game to grappling and they’ll play into that with each other. It really is all about who’s more on point on the night, and I think Calderwood has looked better in her recent bouts so will be able to claim a decision win.
PICK – Joanne Calderwood via Decision

Dan Hooker (20-9) vs Michael Chandler (21-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A huge fight at the top of the lightweight division as ‘Hangman’ Hooker takes on ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler.

Hooker has established himself as one of the best lightweights in the world, although he lost his last fight to Dustin Poirier back in June. Prior to that he did beat Paul Felder in a split decision war, Al Iaquinta in a wide decision and KO’d James Vick. Chandler has come over from Bellator after winning their lightweight title three times and comes after consecutive wins over Sidney Outlaw and Benson Henderson.

Chandler has been chinny in his past, as he showed when he was knocked out in the first round by featherweight champ Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire in Bellator. Hooker has a crazy power advantage on the feet but Chandler is a crazy good wrestler. He will look for a takedown quickly and if he gets it, he will have control of the fight. That said, I don’t think he can withstand the power of Hooker. Hooker’s footwork is superb, he has power with both hands and he has a big range advantage so I think he gets a stoppage win catching Chandler on the way in for a takedown.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Dustin Poirier (26-6 1NC) vs Conor McGregor (22-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The return of the Notorious one to the UFC is of course a big deal, but the fact he’s fighting Dustin Poirier makes it even better.

Both men lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov before bouncing back with impressive wins, as Poirier defeated Dan Hooker in a fight of the year contender, while McGregor returned and demolished Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds last January.

Both men are phenomenal strikers, with a left hand of dreams. McGregor of course knocked Poirier out in just 106 seconds in their first meeting at featherweight back in 2014 but this is a different fight. Both guys are more mature fighters now and much smarter, while Poirier is much more durable at 155lbs. It’s a fight of two halves if you will, with McGregor almost certainly more dangerous in the first two rounds. He’s had conditioning issues in the past and if Poirier can stay in the fight past that point he will likely take over.

With that said both men are still dangerous throughout the entirety of the bout but I do think McGregor can get it done. He still has knockout power, he’s quick, strong and he can take a shot himself. Poirier will look to drag it into the later rounds and turn the pace up but I think McGregor gets a huge win to really announce himself back in the lightweight division.
PICK – Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Shahbazyan – Results (Highlights)

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez vs Cody Durden – Unanimous Draw (28-28 x3)

A potential 10-8 round to the underdog to start the card. Durden threw a leg kick first and then got the takedown early, transitioning to take his back and getting his hooks in deep. Durden threatens with a rear-naked choke, neck crank and strikes while Gutierrez almost looking like he’s just waiting for the referee to stand it up for him.

Second round much more aggressive from Gutierrez. He lands his own leg-kicks and starts stuffing takedown attempts before an attempted knee to the face misses and the foot comes up and catches Durden in the groin. A long break in the fight before they start again and Gutierrez starting to take over with his striking. He’s found his flow much more in this round and Durden is visibly tiring now. Another takedown attempt sees a tussle and Gutierrez ends up on his back but he throws up a great armbar attempt that’s tight. Durden stacks him to see the round out but Gutierrez is back in it.

Gutierrez much more patient in the third while Durden is visibly tired and throwing lazy strikes. Durden attempts a lazy takedown but Gutierrez stuffs easily and is landing his jab and some leg kicks with absolute ease. Gutierrez chipping away at the armor of Durden who is essentially running on empty. Another takedown attempt and Durden gets a single leg but Gutierrez drops him with a hook and then lands a few shots on the ground before the claxon goes. I think this is going to end up as a draw.

Jammall Emmers def Vincent Cachero via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A very fun first round. Both men flowing well and landing shots at full extension but Emmers is using his reach much better. Lots of kicks to the body to Cachero, who took this fight on one day’s notice, and it’s taking its toll. Emmers using an old skool Thai clinch with nasty knees to the body. A fantastic first round for Emmers. 10-9.

The size difference in this second round is evident. Emmers is landing heavy punches and elbows right now but Cachero is eating them and trying to return fire himself. Emmers lands a four punch combo then switches to a takedown where he lands some nice ground and pound but Cachero jumps back up. Emmers is tiring now so shoots for a takedown once again to rest and see out the rest of the round. 20-18 Emmers.

Really good fight management from Emmers in the final round. He’s tired but the bigger man, so uses his superior wrestling to secure a takedown and control from top position. Emmers goes for a kimura attempt but Cachero scrambles away and manages to get back up to his feet. Emmers goes for another takedown almost immediately but Cachero stuffs it well and keeps the bout standing. Cachero throws a big right hand but Emmers ducks under and gets the takedown beautifully and transitions to take his back. He’s attempting for a rear naked choke with 10 seconds to go but the klaxon goes and it should be a comfortable win for Emmers.

Nathan Maness def Johnny Munhoz Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Two debutants and it’s a great first round for the unbeaten Munhoz Jr. Two groin strikes cause stoppages in the fight but he eventually gets it to the ground and threatens with submissions. He eventually flattens Maness out and lands some big ground and pound strikes but the klaxon goes to prevent the referee from needing to make an immediate decision. 10-9 Munhoz Jr.

Second round and Maness comes out much more aggressive. He lands a big right hand that forces Munhoz to shoot for the takedown again but Maness stuffs it and keeps the fight standing. A big elbow against the cage has cut Munhoz above the eye and he’s shooting for the takedown more and more. Final 30 seconds and Munhoz shoots for a single leg, lifts Maness and slams him down to the mat to complete but before anything happens on the ground the klaxon goes. 19-19 for me.

Third round starts and Munhoz goes straight for a body kick but it’s low again! 3rd time in the fight and this time the referee deducts a point for it. Munhoz needs the finish for a win now and goes on the offensive looking for a takedown. The referee breaks them up for a lack of action but they get straight back into it in the same position. Lots of clinch work against the fence from both guys until Maness gets a trip with less than a minute to go. A scramble on the floor and Munhoz attempts for a calf slicer but he just doesn’t have enough time.

Jonathan Martinez def Frankie Saenz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:57)

A fast start from Saenz soon sees Martinez start to take over with his striking and dominate. He got a very early takedown but Martinez got straight back up and started throwing lots of knees and kicks to deter Saenz from even attempting them anymore. Lots of body shots and his left hand is finding a home towards the end of the round but the klaxon goes. 10-9 Martinez.

Second round is more of the same once again. Saenz can’t initiate a takedown because of Martinez’s offence just constantly having him on the defensive. He’s so calm and cool and just picking his shots. A big head kick lands over the guard and rocks Saenz! Martinez moves in for the kill but Saenz puts his feet on the hips and tries to kick away. Martinez continues to land big shots but lets him back up but as the round ends Martinez lands another big shot that drops Saenz again. Referee moves in to call it but tells Saenz to fight back so he grabs hold of Martinez to see out the final 10 seconds of the round. 20-17 for me, that was a 10-8 round.

Third and final round and we finally see a stoppage on the card. After an accidental low blow break, Martinez continues to land multiple shots as Saenz continues to rush forward looking for a takedown. The next time he rushes in proves fatal though as Martinez moves backwards with him and throws a huge left knee up the middle straight onto the chin of Saenz that drops him! Two or three unanswered shots on the ground and the referee steps in to end it. Huge knockout win.

MAIN CARD

Kevin Holland vs Trevin Giles – CANCELLED

UFC report on-air that Trevin Giles fainted in the hallway just before his walk-out for this fight and the Nevada State Athletic Commission has cancelled the fight.

Bobby Greene def Lando Vanatta via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27 x2)

This one was fun. Both fighters taunting each other and talking to each other in the cage as they exchange big punches in the centre of the Octagon. Both men swing wild right hooks and both land, knocking the other down! No rush following that as they get back to their feet, acknowledge the punch and continue to fight. Another knockdown by Greene slightly later with a short right hand but Vanatta does well to grab a leg and hold on to not get ground and pounded. Solid round but Greene’s boxing gives it to him for me. 10-9.

Second round is less action-packed and better for Vanatta. Still some boxing exchanges but a slower pace and some more clinching. Vanatta landed a takedown at the end of the round which I believe may have stolen the round for him but I’m still going for Green. 20-18.

Third round opens with trash talk and a huge right elbow by Greene that drops Vanatta. He gets on top and lands some huge ground and pound but Vanatta hanging in there. Green goes for the takedown and eventually gets mount to start landing bombs, forcing Vanatta to give up his back. Greene tries to sink in a rear naked choke but he’s so slippery he gets out immediately and eventually return to the feet. Greene managing his cardio well and gets another takedown and lands more elbows on the ground before the klaxon goes. Big win for Greene in my book. 30-27.

Vicente Luque def Randy Brown via Knockout, Round 2 (4:56)

Picture perfect round from Vicente Luque. The Brazilian using calf kicks to displace the excellent jab of Brown, before throwing a big overhand right to mix it up for him. Luque slips a jab from Brown and lets rip with a big right hook that drops him. He goes on top for the ground and pound or submission but Brown defends very well and eventually gets back to his feet. 10-9 Luque.

In the second round, Luque throws his leg-kick a lot more and troubles Brown. ‘Rude Boy’ is even forced to switch stances at one point, which takes his jab away and means Luque can close the distance and land big strikes. Leg kicks so vicious at this point that Brown actually goes down because of them but Luque forces him back to his feet immediately. Body lock against the cage now for Luque and Brown leans down to put his hands on the mat but before they reach, Luque throws a gigantic knee that floors Brown. He follows it up with big ground and pound strikes and the referee waves the fight off.

Jennifer Maia def Joanne Calderwood via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (4:29)

Maia looks very bouncy to start the fight, throwing punches freely while Calderwood being more strategic and methodical. Maia landing a lot though and gets in and out with a beautiful 1-2. Maia throws a kick but Calderwood catches it and secures a takedown. Maia using her superior jiu-jitsu on the ground and is tying up Calderwood’s arms from the bottom, landing elbows and short punches to stop her from posturing up. Maia throws her legs up looking for an armbar and manages to get Calderwood on her back. She adjusts and straightens the arm and Calderwood taps out! What a win for Maia!

Derek Brunson def Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 3 (0:26)

A fairly slow start from both men as they try to feel each other out with light shots and feints. Brunson throws a big overhand left and shoots in for the takedown. Shahbazyan fights immediately to get back to his feet but eats a few shots on his way back up. He lands a beautiful right hook of his own as they continue to let the hands go in a what ends up being a very fun opener. 10-9 Shahbazyan.

Brunson using his takedowns and lunging left hooks more in this round and controlling the top position the longer the fight goes on. Shahbazyan lands some nice body kicks but Brunson’s experience is starting to tell and he’s taking over. A nice combo that ends with a takedown and Brunson is on top landing bombs. He gets into full mount and starts raining down punches with Shahbazyan visibly tired and hurt but the klaxon goes as Brunson lands a massive elbow.

Between rounds the referee has the doctor check in on Shahbazyan but they deem he is okay to continue. As soon as the third round begins, Brunson lands a punch and another takedown again. He gets behind Shahbazyan and lands three big punches to the head before the referee steps in and waves it off correctly. Massive win for Derek Brunson!

UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs Shahbazyan – Main Card Predictions

After the excitement of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Las Vegas for their fifth card at the Apex Centre where Derek Brunson headlines against top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan in the middleweight division.

This is a considerably smaller card than the last one we saw, with just 9 fights on this card rather than the 15 we saw last weekend. I broke down and predicted the prelim fights on this card here, and now will do the same for the five main card fights.

Last time out, I got 11/15 correct with 7 of those 11 absolutely perfect (winner, round, method). Lets see if I can do any better this time around.

Kevin Holland (17-5) vs Trevin Giles (12-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting bout between two prospects in the middleweight division here. Kevin Holland is an impressive all-round fighter who’s last win in the Octagon came via a body-shot knockout just 39 seconds into the fight. Giles’ last bout was a win over James Krause, who stepped in at short-notice a weight class up. Giles is predominantly a wrestler but is capable on the feet, while Holland is the opposite. Both guys have a tendency to make some strange decisions in the cage, with Holland often pulling a Jon Jones and fighting his opponent at what they’re best at. If he does choose to wrestle with Giles, he’ll be beaten soundly but should he fight to his own strengths I think he’ll have enough to get a win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 2

Lando Vannata (11-4-2) vs Bobby Green (25-10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another battle between two very well rounded fighters but this time in the lightweight division. Lando Vannata had a lot of problems with his cardio despite excellent striking at the start of his UFC tenure and it cost him a lot of wins on his record. Green is a veteran who’s experience has helped him in the latest part of his career when coming up against better opposition in the cage. Green is a solid boxer who is more than competent in the grappling exchanges, while Vannata relies more on volume. In the last outing for “Groovy”, he circled and landed leg kicks to maintain his stamina and outpoint Yancy Medeiros. A similar game plan here will not work against Green who is a better boxer and more aggressive. Green should be able to land crisper strikes on the feet and hold his own on the ground for a decision win.
PICK – Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision

Vicente Luque (18-7-1) vs Randy Brown (12-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Fight of the night pick here. Two explosive fighters who carry power and won their last bouts via finish. Luque is a big power puncher with vicious muay-thai and a good choke game, while Randy Brown is a long kickboxer with his own power and clinch abilities. Ultimately, Luque is too powerful for a fighter with Brown’s style. Using his jab and range, he should be able to keep Luque away from him for a short while but ‘The Silent Assassin’ won’t be deterred because of taking some shots and will eventually find his way to the inside. When he does, he’ll be able to counter ‘Rude Boy’ much more efficiently and eventually land that knockout blow.
PICK – Vicente Luque via Knockout, Round 2

Joanne Calderwood (14-4) vs Jennifer Maia (17-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A big fight at the top of the women’s flyweight division as Joanne Calderwood puts her likely title fight with Valentina Shevchenko on the line to take this short-notice fight against former Invicta champ Jennifer Maia. Calderwood has won 3 of her last 4 and Maia 2 of her last 3, with both women’s defeats coming to Kaitlyn Chookagian. Maia was originally scheduled to fight Julia Araujo but she pulled out due to coronavirus complications. Calderwood is the type of fighter to just overwhelm you with a mix of techniques. She’s a good striker who isn’t afraid to shoot for takedowns and is comfortable when taken down. Maia’s striking is also her main weapon although she is also great on the floor with 4 KO’s and 4 subs on her professional record. Her last 8 fights have gone the distance though and if that is to happen again, she’ll need to be at her absolute best and hope Calderwood’s near year-long layoff means she’s a step slower. Calderwood should be good enough to control the distance and throw enough for a decision.
PICK – Joanne Calderwood via Unanimous Decision

Derek Brunson (20-7) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A three round main event this one has a different type of feel to it. Shahbazyan has a perfect 11-0 record with 10 first round finishes among them, including against Brad Tavares and Jack Marshman. Brunson is the current gatekeeper of the middleweight division, with his only defeats coming against the very best in the division. Shahbazyan is seen as the next big thing in the division and rightly so with a record like that, but this is the biggest test of his career so far. Brunson is a heavy wrestler but interestingly enough he tends to reach a lot for his takedowns. He suffered against a crisp striker when he fought against Israel Adesanya and was knocked out in the first round because of that reaching and it could be a similar story in this fight if Shahbazyan can remain on his feet. He has crazy power on the feet and if he somehow ended up in an offensive position on the ground he has got submission skills. Brunson will want to get this to the ground early and use his experience to put Shahbazyan in deep waters but if he can’t he will probably get knocked out.
PICK – Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout, Round 1