Tag Archives: Joaquin Buckley

UFC Paris: Gane vs Tuivasa – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns from a two week break to make history with the companies first ever card from Paris, France.

The historic card is headlined by hometown heavyweight favourite Ciryl Gane, as he takes on fan favourite and knockout artist Tai Tuivasa in the main event.

The co-main will also see two world class middleweight contenders go head-to-head too as Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori clash in a potential title eliminator.

Last time out at UFC 278 we saw an amazing card, where we landed 7/12 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 705/1094 (64.51%) with 298 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll try to improve on that here with this solid card and after starting with the early prelims here, we pick the rest of the prelims now.


Nassourdine Imavov (11-3) vs Joaquin Buckley (15-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A super fun middleweight scrap up next. Imavov has won his last two via knockout, stopping Ian Heinisch and then Edmen Shahbazyan most recently at UFC 268. Buckley has claimed three wins in a row, KO’ing Antonio Arroyo, earning a split decision over Abdul Razak Alhassan and then stopping Albert Duraev last time out.

Imavov is a very technical striker with great power and excellent footwork to avoid standing still too often and getting caught. Buckley is a powerhouse who lands with devastating power, earning him 11 KO wins in his career. He does have a habit of loading up his strikes though which makes other talented strikers fancy their chances when going to war.

Both guys have got great cardio for their styles too, but Imavov’s style is a bit more point friendly and that should work in his favour here. “New Mansa” will come forward and be forced to reach a little with his strikes despite having a slight reach advantage and that should open up counters for Imavov. Expect a fun, but technical fight which should see Imavov claim the win in his homeland.
PICK – Nassourdine Imavov via Decision

Fares Ziam (12-4) vs Michal Figlak (8-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very interesting lightweight scrap between two prospects in this one. Ziam is 2-2 in the UFC, with wins over Jamie Mullarkey (UFC Fight Island 6) and Luigi Vendramini (UFC263) sandwiched between defeats to Don Madge and most recently Terrence McKinney. Figlak makes his UFC debut as an undefeated fighter.

Ziam is a striker who likes to use a points style, moving around a lot and just picking up shots as and when he can to try and earn a decision win or catch his opponent off guard for a knockout. Figlak might be the polar opposite, with a fast-paced and relentless approach with lots of power and submission skills to boot.

That is the perfect recipe to ruin Ziam’s homecoming to France, because Figlak has all the tools to stifle him and hurt him. The urgency and physicality will likely see Figlak bully him and claim a dominant win against the crowd’s wishes.
PICK – Michal Figlak via Decision



Abus Magomedov (24-4-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (14-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight scrap closes out the prelims section of the card. UFC debutant Magomedov comes in on a two-fight win streak, with his last fight coming in December 2020. Stoltzfus finally snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out, when he earned a decision win over Dwight Grant back in July.

Magomedov is a fantastic grappler with brilliant top control and great wrestling, while his striking comes with a hazard warning because of his power. Stoltzfus alternatively has got fantastic jiu-jitsu and top control, but his offensive wrestling often means he can’t get the fights to the ground to work that game. He has got an advantage in the cardio though and if he can drag this fight out then we could see Magomedov struggle.

Unfortunately for him, that seems unlikely. Magomedov’s wrestling credentials will likely see him end up in top position early doors and pounding away at Stoltzfus’ skull until the referee steps in and tells them enough is enough.
PICK – Abus Magomedov via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this week for a card that has been littered with changes on short notice.

Originally scheduled to be headlined by Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, that fight was forced to be moved to UFC 272 due to visa issues and will now be headlined by Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill.

It’s not the greatest of cards, with the only ranked fighters scheduled to compete in the main event but there are some decent fights expected to take place.

Last week at UFC 271 we had a great night, correctly predicting 11/14 fights with seven perfect picks which takes our picks totals to 539/840 (64.17%) with 231 perfect picks (42.86%).

Lets see if we can improve that here and after starting with the early prelims and rounding up our prelims picks here, we move to the main card now.


Joaquin Buckley (13-4) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute slugfest coming up in the middleweight division here. Buckley bounced back from a head-kick KO defeat to Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7 by KO’ing Antonio Arroyo back in September. Alhassan on the other hand snapped a three-fight losing streak in his last fight, by KO’ing Alessio Di Chirico via head-kick in just 17 seconds. MMA, eh?

Both of these fighters are powerhouses with tremendous knockout power in their hands and legs and put their opponents’ lights out. Buckley is a good wrestler, but he never uses it, instead opting to box with good head movement and keeping a good pace throughout. Alhassan is a patient striker with real one-shot power, but he tends to struggle outside of the first round and his cardio isn’t good at all. That spells problems to me.

While this fight is anyone’s to win in the first round, the longer it goes the more it suits Buckley. He has the cardio advantage and he’s shown that his power can carry through the full 15 minutes, so I expect him to drag it out a little and then secure a big knockout later in the fight.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Jim Miller (33-16) vs Nikolas Motta (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Legend vs prospect in this lightweight division fight. Jim Miller will extend his record as the man with the most fights in the UFC, coming in on a 2-2 run in his last four with a knockout win over Erick Gonzalez most recently. Motta on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak and makes his UFC debut in this fight following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Miller is one of the best submission artists the UFC has ever seen, with great wrestling and incredible jiu-jitsu which has earned him 18 submission wins in his career. Motta on the other hand has got incredible hand speed with his boxing-heavy approach with a sprawl-and-brawl strategy usually in place for most of his fights. Miller will look to test that in order to try and land and big strike or wrap up a position on the ground, but if he can’t get it done early he could be in trouble.

Motta will likely play it relatively cautiously early on in order to allow Miller to potentially blow himself out, and then use his speed and superior striking to pile up damage in the later rounds. It could end up being a “comeback” win, but I expect Motta to never really be in too much danger and come away with a decision win.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Decision

Parker Porter (12-6) vs Alan Baudot (8-2) – Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights will be in Las Vegas for this fight card folks. Porter is on a two-fight win streak with decisions over Josh Parisian and Chase Sherman in his most recent outings, while Baudot was KO’d by Tom Aspinall in his debut at UFC Fight Island 5 before a defeat to Rodrigo Nascimento was overturned to a no contest.

Porter is a deceptively technical striker with good movement and speed, despite being 6 foot 7 and 260lbs. Baudot hasn’t shown much at all in the UFC so far, but he has got some decent power in his striking if I had to find something. This fight is likely to stay on the feet for the entirety of the bout, with Porter to use his jab and leg kicks to chip away at his defences.

Ultimately, this fight won’t be fun and I doubt there will be a finish because neither man is particularly known for being a power puncher. Porter has the cardio to go 15 minutes and I expect he will just piece him up throughout and earn a win.
PICK – Parker Porter via Decision



Kyle Daukaus (10-2) vs Jamie Pickett (13-6) – (Catchweight/195lbs)

A very intriguing short-notice catchweight fight between these two middleweight fighters. Daukaus lost two of his first three UFC bouts before a clash of heads before he tapped out Kevin Holland saw his last fight end in a no contest at UFC Vegas 38. Pickett steps in on short-notice on a two-fight win streak, with a decision against Joseph Holmes at UFC Vegas 46 last month.

Daukaus is a wrestler who looks to use his looping strikes to set up takedowns and then control his opponents on the ground for victories. Pickett on the other hand is a solid kickboxer with good Muay Thai skills and excellent power in his striking. That said, Pickett has found himself wrestling a lot since joining the UFC and if he does that here then he is likely to struggle to claim a victory.

Pickett is the more technical striker of the two, but Daukaus is the more powerful of the two and is certainly the one who can dictate where this fight takes place. Add in a five-year age gap too, I expect Daukaus to be able to get this fight to the ground and eventually take the back to secure a rear-naked choke with his relentlessness.
PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Submission, Round 2

Johnny Walker (18-6) vs Jamahal Hill (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A banger at light heavyweight in the main event, where someone is likely to go to sleep. Walker was beaten in his last fight by Thiago Santos in a very cagey fight back at UFC Vegas 38, making it three defeats in his last four. Hill on thje other hand bounced back from the first defeat of his career to Paul Craig at UFC 263 by knocking out Jimmy Crute in just 38 seconds last time out at UFC Vegas 44 in December.

Both of these fighters are hugely explosive knockout artists with legitimate one-punch power in their hands. Walker is incredibly unorthodox with the way he strikes, and he uses his kicks well from the outside. Hill however is a decent wrestler with lightning fast strikes with either hand and legitimate one-punch power. This is a fight that is similar to the Santos and Walker bout, but Hill is far more unlikely to be hesitant when it comes to pull the trigger.

Hill will walk forward and cut the cage off to Walker, which narrows down his opportunities to be wild with his attacks and opens up Hill’s window to land a big strike. It may take a round to warm-up, but I don’t think we’ll need the extra ten minutes this bout has been given a Hill earns a big knockout win.
PICK – Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very interesting middleweight bout to open the main card as Buckley and Arroyo look to get back into the win column in this one. Buckley had the world at his feet after his mind-blowing KO over Impa Kasanganay and then Jordan Wright at UFC 255, but he got starched with a head kick by Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7. Arroyo came into the UFC very highly-rated, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Andre Muniz and Deron Winn most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Buckley is a pressure fighter with lots of power in both his hands and feet, but he’s only 5ft 10′ and in the middleweight division that’s not the biggest. Arroyo on the other hand is a good striker who has seriously struggled with wrestling since coming to the UFC. Buckley moves a lot and has a considerable athletic advantage, but Arroyo is better when he’s allowed to stand and Buckley can prove to be pretty predictable sometimes with his timing.

With that said, Arroyo hasn’t shown me anything that gets me excited about his future yet. We saw Buckley come back from getting KO’d by Kevin Holland in the past and I think he’ll come back in this one with a bang once again.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Nate Maness (13-1) vs Tony Gravely (21-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135lbs in this one between two highly-rated potential future contenders. Maness has won both his UFC bouts so far, cruising past Jonny Munhoz Jr before a submission win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 15, while Gravely has also won his last two with a split decision over Geraldo De Freitas before a KO over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 24.

Maness is a good all-rounder, with good striking and good wrestling to be able to compete everywhere the fight could possibly go. Gravely on the other hand is a spectacular wrestler with good power in his hands and a nasty finishing instinct if he gets an opponent hurt, shown in his 12 stoppage wins. Gravely is arguably better at everything in this fight, but has had issues in the past with cardio and that’s where he could find himself in trouble.

If he goes too hard, too early then Maness could stay in there and cause him big issues in the later rounds. If he starts too slowly then the same could happen also. If he however paces himself properly, boxes his way to the inside and secures some top control then it’ll be a long night for Maness.
PICK – Tony Gravely via Decision

Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs Christos Giagos (19-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An absolutely brilliant bit of match-making in this one as one highly rated prospect takes on an up and coming veteran at lightweight. Tsarukyan has won three-in-a-row with his most recent win coming against Matt Frevola at UFC 257, and his only defeat since 2015 coming against Islam Makhachev. Giagos has won his last two fights, including a submission win over Sean Soriano at UFC 262 last time out.

Tsarukyan has a brilliant freestyle wrestling background as well as tremendous cardio and a good kickboxing arsenal to go with it. Giagos on the other hand is a tidy kickboxer himself who is also at his best when he’s coming forward and securing takedowns on his opponent. Giagos has had issues with his cardio in the past and Tsarukyan showed some terrific takedown defence against Makhachev, which spells bad things for Giagos.

Unfortunately for Giagos, Tsarukyan seems to have the advantage in the wrestling world and on the feet they’re pretty evenly matched. Both prefer the grappling world, which makes me lean towards the Russian in a decision victory.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision

Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs Mandy Bohm (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun fight in the women’s flyweight division between two big strikers at 125lbs. Lipski is 2-2 in her most recent fights, losing her last two-in-a-row to Antonina Shevchenko and then Montana De La Rosa via knockout at UFC Vegas 28. Bohm on the other hand is a very highly rated undefeated fighter coming over from Bellator, winning her most recent fight via decision just under a year ago.

Lipski’s nickname is ‘Queen of Violence’ for a reason. She is a nasty striker who loves to use knees and elbows and has some good striking and clinch control. Bohm on the other hand has a beautiful jab and will look to drag her opponent down to the ground, take their back and synch up some submissions. Lipski’s defeats all generally have come against top level fighters but she does struggle on the ground and that could be a problem here.

Lipski will without a doubt look to maintain distance, use her kicks and stay away from the mat. But where she loves to clinch up for knees and elbow strikes, she puts herself into danger. With that said, Bohm hasn’t fought anyone at Lipski’s level or with her experience yet. It’s due to be a fascinating fight that could go either way but when it’s grappler vs striker, I tend to lean towards the grappler.
PICK – Mandy Bohm via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1) vs Devin Clark (12-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very intriguing light heavyweight scrap between two ranked fighters among the big men in the company. Cutelaba is winless in his last three fights, getting knocked out twice by Magomed Ankalaev before a split draw against Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25. Clark was beaten in the main event at UFC Vegas 15 by Anthony Smith last time out but won his last two before that.

Cutelaba is a fighter who straight up likes to brawl. He’s a power puncher who throws with reckless abandon and solid technique with some good accuracy and a good chin of his own. Clark on the other hand is a fighter who puts W’s above entertainment with his style, generally trying to wrestle his opponent to the ground and keep them there. Clark is a great wrestler but he’s not among the top fighters in the division, and while Cutelaba isn’t either I think he’s still a level above Clark.

The power in the hands means he will land and likely hurt Clark but it’s whether or not Cutelaba can either prevent the takedowns or stop Clark from holding him down. He has a wrestling background and has shown an ability to be able to do that in the past, so I believe Cutelaba can land and keep it standing enough for a win.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Decision

Anthony Smith (35-16) vs Ryan Spann (19-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight main event sees former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith take on first-time main eventer Ryan Spann. Smith bounced back from a dominant defeat against Aleksandar Rakic to cruise past Devin Clark and then Jimmy Crute in his last bout at UFC 261. Spann on the other hand has won nine of his last ten fights, losing to Johnny Walker before bouncing back with a win via violent knockout against Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 21.

Smith is a former golden gloves boxing champion with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to go with over 50 professional fights worth of experience. Spann is a powerful striker in his own right, but he doesn’t really throw combinations and his gas tank is absolutely a worry in a five-round fight. Smith has a solid chin and is incredibly well-rounded and ultimately here, Spann’s tool box just isn’t that deep.

‘Lionheart’ has multiple paths to victory in this fight and while he may look to be wary early on because of Spann’s power, he will take over and show that there are levels to this mixed martial arts game to secure a third straight victory.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Fight Island 7 Fallout: Holloway turns in best performance ever

The UFC kicked off 2021 with a big bang as UFC Fight Island 7 delivered a spectacular card.

Ten fights on the night saw three first round knockouts and seven decisions but the fights were largely a fun watch, especially in the main event.

‘Blessed’ Max Holloway stepped into the octagon to take on Calvin Kattar in the headline fight and turned in the single greatest individual performance I’ve ever seen, as he battered Kattar with a 50-42 scorecard for two judges.

Holloway was explosive from the jump, landing spin kicks, body shots, jabs and straight punches, all while mostly avoiding the power of Kattar to prove he was in fact the better boxer of the two.

He blew Kattar out of the water for the entire five rounds, landing an incredible 445 significant strikes throughout the night including a record 141 strikes in round four alone.

It was a reminder to fans who may have believed that Holloway was past it following three defeats in his last four bouts, but it was also a warning to the champion Alexander Volkanovski.

After back-to-back losses against Volkanovski, the Australian had hoped to have washed his hands of Holloway and the title picture. Many believed Holloway won their second encounter and this performance was evidence that despite not having gold wrapped around his waist right now, he is still the best 145lber in the world, maybe ever.

With Volkanovski set to defend his title against Brian Ortega at UFC 260 in March, it’s evident that the winner will be taking on Max Holloway once again in their following fight.

Elsewhere on the card, Joaquin Buckley’s hype train was brought to a screeching halt with a violent head kick knockout by Alessio Di Chirico. The middleweight division continues to build in strength and depth, and after his first win since 2018 he will now look to build some momentum and hopefully work his way into the rankings this year having once been seen as Italy’s best chance at a UFC belt.

Santiago Ponzinibbio found out the hard way that the welterweight division has moved on without him, as he was knocked unconscious by the left hand of Jingliang Li in the first round of their fight too.

Ponzinibbio looked gun shy and hesitant during the opening exchanges, throwing only 18 strikes in the opening round before being knocked out with 35 seconds remaining. Li now has seven stoppages in the UFC and with four wins in his last five he will be looking to break into the rankings with his next fight.

Ponzinibbio will need to re-evaluate after over two years out and then such a timid display, it’s possible that the division’s elite have left him behind.

UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs Kattar – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Austin Lingo def Jacob Kilburn via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

A fast start to the night as Lingo steps forward and takes the centre of the cage early and lets his right hand fly. Some big shots land clean and Kilburn goes down hurt, but he gets back up quickly. Lingo lands some nice left hooks around the guard to keep Kilburn shaky on the feet. Kilburn shoots for a takedown against the cage and is able to recover his senses. The jab is landing clean and Lingo is in control of the round. 10-9 Lingo.

Lingo comes out hard again and lands a few nice shots early, but Kilburn changes levels early and lands a takedown for the first time in the fight. Lingo is able to create space and kick him off almost instantly though and the fight goes back to the feet. Lingo lands a nice left straight that snaps Kilburn’s head back but he is doing well to circle and threaten with takedowns in this round. Kilburn gets another takedown but Lingo once again escapes back to the feet immediately, then gets a takedown of his own against the cage before he allows Kilburn back up as the round ends. 20-18 Lingo.

Kilburn comes out for the final round and showing good energy, throwing nice combinations and attempting the takedown again. In the scramble Kilburn goes for a judo throw and gets it but ends up on the bottom with a kimura grip. Lingo stays patient on top and eventually escapes back to the feet and starts striking on the feet again, landing his jab well. Lingo counters a low-kick with a beautiful one-two as Kilburn goes for a lazy single leg takedown. Big right hand again from Lingo lands inside the final minute as the round comes to a close for what should be a comfortable Lingo decision win. 30-27 Lingo.

PRELIMS

Vanessa Melo def Sarah Moras via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Slow start to this one as Melo takes the centre of the octagon and Moras continually circles, flicking out the jab. There’s more noise coming from the octagon than the stands right now as Moras channels her inner Maria Sharapova every time she throws a strike. Melo starts cutting her off instead of just following, but the pattern remains the same as Moras flicks the jab and Melo looks for a power right hand. Nice one-two lands from Moras but a bit of a non-event this round. 10-9 Moras, I guess?

Another slow start to the round but Melo lands the biggest shot of the round with a left hook that knocks Moras’ mouthpiece out. Moras bleeding from the mouth now and Melo continuing to stalk her around the octagon, and Moras’ circling has significantly slowed now. Moras shoots for a takedown inside the final 30 seconds but Melo defends it perfectly and the round ends. Probably even going into the final round, 19-19.

Pattern of the fight is established by now, but Moras has thrown some leg kicks early on. More circling, more jabs and more straight rights from Melo that are just missing. Nice leg kicks land again and more jabs from Moras but there is no urgency really from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Bit of a flurry from both ladies in the final ten seconds but that was a fight I won’t be watching back again. 29-28 Moras for me.

Ramazan Emeev def David Zawada via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29 x2)

Competitive start to this fight as Zawada looks to take the centre of the cage and keep Emeev on the back foot. Emeev throws a beautiful right hand that instantly causes some swelling under Zawada’s eye. Zawada starts throwing some nice leg kicks and Emeev then starts shooting for the takedown and gets it. Zawada gets back up quickly but Emeev puts him back down again quickly and starts to land some nice ground and pound. Zawada eventually gets back up towards the end of the round but Emeev lands some huge strikes on the way up that rocks him! Emeev round for me. 10-9.

Early leg kick from Zawada in the second round and Emeev wobbles instantly, which forces him straight into the takedown attempt. He gets the fight down early on and Zawada accepts the full guard position, with Emeev landing some nice strikes from the top before Emeev explodes back up. Big one-two from Emeev lands clean but Zawada responds with two leg kicks and Emeev is struggling now. Another two takedown attempts from Emeev denied by Zawada as the round comes to a close. Close but Zawada’s for me. 19-19

Final round opens up with a beautiful takedown immediately from Emeev, as he tries to push Zawada towards the cage. Zawada very aggressive off his back, landing strikes and attempting submissions but Emeev very confident and calm to avoid and land some strikes of his own. Zawada gets the fight back to the feet and then gets a single leg of his own and ends up in side control. Emeev tries to scramble up to his feet but Zawada is able to move into full mount! Emeev escapes by giving his back and then reversing before both men get back to the feet for the final 90 seconds. Left hook from Emeev lands and it staggers Zawada but they stay standing in the centre of the cage. Final punch of the fight is a big right hand from Emeev, in what should be a decision win for him. 29-28 Emeev.

Carlos Felipe def Justin Tafa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Pretty slow fight early on with Felipe throwing jabs and feelers while Tafa looks to counter everything. A few leg kicks from Tafa land and then he rips a body kick too that lands clean. Felipe starts to load up his right hand but is missing a lot and Tafa looks very calm, firing a big left hand down the pipe. 10-9 Tafa after the first.

Big body kick lands to open the round from Tafa, but Felipe fires back with some big right hands to the body and follows up with some hooks. Felipe looks for a single leg but Tafa avoids it easily then lands a lovely left hook to the body before a left uppercut through the guard. Another big left body kick from Tafa and Felipe fires back with a right hook that misses wildly. Tafa throws a kick but Felipe comes forward and throws some big combinations that land clean and hurt Tafa! Shots to the body and Tafa is in pain and clinches to survive. Big right hand lands again and a big uppercut has Tafa wobbled but he fires back with a big shot of his own as the two engage when the round ends. 19-19, what a round!

A bit more of a tentative start to the final round as Felipe looks to up the pace once again. Both heavyweights are going forehead to forehead and swinging combinations to the head and body. Felipe misses with a straight right hand and Tafa changes levels to look for the takedown. They clinch against the cage, throwing body shots at each other before Felipe reverses the position and steps away from the cage. Tafa goes for a big trip and both men fall to the ground. Final 30 seconds and both men stand toe to toe and swing to bring the crowd to their feet! What a fight! 29-28 Felipe but could go either way.

Joselyne Edwards def Wu Yanan via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Very intense and impressive first round as Wu Yanan looks to take the fight to the ground early but Edwards stays calm on her back. Suddenly Edwards switches her hips and looks for an armbar and Wu is in trouble! She defends well but the position is locked in for a good few minutes before Wu finally manages to escape before a scramble sees Edwards back on top for the end of the round. 10-9 Edwards.

Wu comes out in the second round more aggressive and lands lots of stabbing body kicks to keep Edwards away. Nice strikes land and Edwards looks hesitant now, but a big elbow lands and seemingly wakes her up. She starts charging forward and lands some big shots, forcing Wu to shoot for the takedown again but as they hit the floor Edwards reverses the position and starts landing big ground and pound. Edwards’ combos are causing problems for Wu and the round comes to an end. 20-18 Edwards in her debut.

Final round and it’s more of the same, as Edwards lands great kicks and powerful combinations but Wu keeps coming forward. Wu starting to pressure Edwards against the cage but Edwards staying very calm and responding with explosive power of her own. Final minute of the fight and Edwards still has gas in the tank and is coming forward now with aggression and speed. She fails with a takedown attempt at the buzzer but should have enough in the bank to get the win here. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Punahele Soriano def Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1 (4:48)

Fun start to the main card as Todorovic and Soriano immediately trade bombs early on. Todorovic seems to be a bit quicker so far, landing nice jabs and using excellent head movement to evade the big shots of Soriano. Soriano throws a big head kick that Todorovic avoids by leaning back, before Soriano lands a big left hand. Soriano continues to march forward and lands a huge left hand that drops Todorovic! He looks to finish but Dusko tries to recover and grapple, but Soriano gets the referee to stand it up. Another big left hand against the cage and Todorovic is down again and without a mouth guard! The referee pauses the fight to get the mouth guard before Soriano steps forward and drops him again with a big left hand!! It’s all over! What a knockout!

Alessio Di Chirico def Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1 (2:12)

Buckley comes out quickly with lunging strikes and lots of power, as Di Chirico looks to use kicks to maintain distance. Buckley with some body attacks but Di Chirico is keeping his range well and lands a nice right hand of his own. The two clash in the centre and Di Chirico throws a big head kick that knocks Buckley out cold!! It’s over!! WOW!

Jingliang Li def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Knockout, Round 1 (4:25)

Cagey start to this one with both men respecting each other’s power and speed early on as they put out feelers together. Li is constantly moving, throwing some nice leg kicks but Ponzinibbio checks one or two of them. Lots of leg kicks from Li as Ponzinibbio is struggling to figure out the range right now. Li throws a right hand, left hook combo and Ponzinibbio IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!! WOW!!

Carlos Condit def Matt Brown via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Interesting start to the fight as Condit comes out with elbows and straight shots, while Brown parries and throws some leg kicks. Brown shoots for a takedown and gets it against the cage, but scrapes his head against the cage on the way down that cuts him open. Brown controls the position on the ground and lands some good strikes, but Condit keeps moving and eventually is able to switch the position and ends the round on top. 10-9 Brown.

Second round starts faster and Brown continues to step forward. Both charge at the same time and Brown lands a sharp elbow straight down the middle that rocks Condit! He gets his wits about him and lands a strong body kick that has Brown breathing heavy. Condit steps forward with a combo but Brown avoids and then Condit with a flying leg sweep takedown to end up on top. Nice ground and pound from Condit in the top position. He looks to pass into a crucifix position but Brown defending well and the round ends. 19-19 going into the final round.

Final round starts with a big cup shot from Condit that pauses the fight again. Nice combo attempts from Condit before Brown shoots for the takedown against the cage. Condit is able to reverse the position and ends up on Brown’s back landing nice ground and pound and looking for a rear-naked choke but Brown continues to defend. Both men get back to their feet and Condit looks to dump Brown down again but he reverses and ends the round in top position with both guys trading blows. Great fight, 29-28 Condit for me.

Max Holloway def Calvin Kattar via Unanimous Decision (50-43 x2, 50-42)

Holloway comes out busy in the opening round with jabs, low kicks, straights and body shots as he looks to ascertain his dominance early on. Holloway throws a nice combo as Kattar is still trying to adjust his range. Nice jab from Kattar immediately reddens the face of Holloway, and then another one lands for good measure. Significant speed difference right now between Holloway and Kattar, with ‘Blessed’ dominating the exchanges. Spinning back kick to the body lands followed by a straight right by Holloway. First round was a clinic. 10-9 Holloway.

Fast start to the second round from Holloway again as he just constantly throws strikes and keeps it moving. More combos from Holloway land flush but Kattar eats it and keeps walking forward. Nice straight right from Kattar lands flush on the chin but Holloway doesn’t flinch and keeps coming. Nice strike from Holloway drops Kattar, but he gets back up quickly before Holloway can react. Another nice right hand from Kattar but Holloway keeps coming forward. Kattar throws a body kick but Holloway catches it and drops Kattar with a right hand. Huge elbow from Holloway rocks Kattar but he stays on his feet. Holloway pouring it on looking for the finish and lands two more huge elbows. Big head kick wobbles Kattar again and as Holloway charges the buzzer goes. Wow. 20-17 Holloway.

‘Blessed’ comes out quickly again in the third with good strikes and combos. Another big combo from Holloway forces Kattar to clinch but Holloway steps away again. Holloway swings for the elbow again but misses and Kattar replies with a massive uppercut! Big right hand again from Kattar forces Holloway backwards but he steps forward again and lands more combos. Big one-twos land again, Kattar wobbling every time he gets hit clean. Holloway is reading Kattar’s shots, slipping them, showboating and then firing back with his own. This in an unbelievable performance. 30-26 Holloway.

More of the same in this fourth round as Holloway is showing no signs of slowing up. Nice body shots from Holloway are starting to hurt Kattar bad. Big elbow from Holloway again and Kattar is rocked against the cage. Holloway throwing body shots, knees, elbows, straights, uppercuts and all sorts as Kattar just refuses to hit the floor. Body kicks, head kicks, leg kicks and more violent elbows from Holloway but the round goes the full five minutes. Unbelievable performance from Holloway. 40-34.

Final round and Holloway is picking Kattar apart. More punches, more body shots, more kicks and now he’s talking to Kattar. He side steps a Kattar right hand and screams at the commentary desk that he’s the best boxer in the UFC then dodges another punch without even looking. More shots as he continues to showboat for the most one-sided main event I may have ever seen. 50-42 Holloway.

UFC Fight Island 7: Holloway vs Kattar – Main Card Predictions

The UFC is finally back after a month away and kicks off on Fight Island with an absolute belter headlined by Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar in the featherweight division.

Both men are looking to make a case for the next title shot with a win, and are accompanied on the card by two legends in Carlos Condit and Matt Brown in the co-main event. Knockout of the year winner Joaquin Buckley also returns to action on the main card, taking on Alessio Di Chirico.

Last time out we had a great ending to the year, correctly predicting 9/11 fights with FIVE perfect picks. Those results mean that since starting our predictions in June 2020, we are 194/303 (63.36%) with 85 perfect picks (43.81%).

We’ll look to improve that record and having already predicted the six prelim fights, we move to the main card here.

MAIN CARD

Punahele Soriano (7-0) vs Dusko Todorovic (10-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Two unbeaten studs go head to head in the middleweight division in the main card opener. Soriano won his UFC debut in December 2019 with a big knockout win, while Todorovic stopped Dequan Townsend in October in his own debut.

Soriano is a decent wrestler, who uses those skills to throw big shots with his hands and take people’s heads off. Todorovic is very similar, but better when it comes to the striking game. If his opponent looks to defend the strikes, he takes the opportunity to land a takedown and control from the top with ground and pound.

It’s a really well matched up fight and while neither have got huge wins in the UFC on their resumรฉ, Todorovic seems to have a slight edge in the striking and a bigger edge in the overall grappling so I expect he’ll take the decision win.
PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Decision

Joaquin Buckley (12-3) vs Alessio Di Chirico (12-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the fighter who made the biggest impression among MMA fans from the unknown in 2020, Joaquin Buckley returns to the octagon to take on a fighter on a three-fight losing streak at middleweight.

Buckley went 2-1 in the UFC last year, and showed a fantastic striking game that saw him walk opponents down and fire off heavy shots. His chin was tested and failed against Kevin Holland, but stood well against Impa Kasanganay and Jordan Wright. Di Chirico is well rounded and enjoys the clinch aspect of the fight, but he’s out-gunned everywhere for me here.

‘New Mansa’ wants to start the year with a bang and I think he does it early in this one.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 1

Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) vs Jingliang Li (17-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A return to the octagon for one of the highest rated welterweights in the company, as he steps into the cage for the first time since November 2018 to take on Jingliang Li.

Ponzinibbio is on a seven fight win streak, beating Neil Magny most recently, while Li lost his last fight in March 2020 to none other than Neil Magny. Ponzinibbio is a stunning striker who’s had so many injuries to his hands that we don’t know how this fight goes anymore. Li is a striker himself and has eight knockout wins in his career, but he is not on the level of a 100% Ponzinibbio.

Overhand strikes and powerful calf kicks, partnered up with super fast combinations is a devastating spell for Li. He’s never been knocked out, but he was dropped twice by Jake Matthews and if Ponzinibbio lands flush it could be night night.
PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision

Carlos Condit (31-13) vs Matt Brown (22-17) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Co-main event time between two legendary welterweights. Carlos Condit was at one point considered the uncrowned champion, but had lost five in a row prior to his most recent fight – a win over Court McGee back in October. Brown has lost three of his last five, including his most recent fight when he got knocked out by Miguel Baeza.

Condit prefers to strike but is more than confident when it comes to grappling, while Brown leans more the opposite way. Stylistically the fight etches towards Condit, who has double digit wins in both knockouts and submissions throughout his career.

Both men are at the end of their careers in reality and the fight could go either way, but considering Brown’s last four defeats have all come via stoppage I think Condit gets it done with a submission following a knockdown.
PICK – Carlos Condit via Submission, Round 2

Max Holloway (21-6) vs Calvin Kattar (22-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Two of the best featherweights on the planet clash in what could very easily have been a title fight. Holloway is coming off two consecutive losses to champ Alex Volkanovski, although the most recent was very controversial, while Kattar was able to defeat Dan Ige on Fight Island in July in his first main event.

Both men are exceptional boxers and this fight will almost certainly take place exclusively on the feet, with Holloway using his footwork, jab and speed while Kattar looks to use his excellent jab and powerful hooks. Kattar is without doubt the more powerful fighter, but ‘Blessed’ has never been knocked down in his UFC career. He has out-struck every opponent he’s fought in recent memory barring Dustin Poirier during his brief stint at lightweight.

This is my pick for fight of the night and I think Holloway will be able to get it done. Kattar has never fought anyone as good as Holloway and won, while ‘Blessed’ has dispatched of fighters better than Kattar in the past with relative ease. Holloway will pick Kattar off as we go through five rounds and ease to a decision win.
PICK – Max Holloway via Decision

Tap Ins & Tap Outs 2020 MMA Awards – Breakthrough Fighter of the Year

The UFC have finally completed their set of fights for the year of 2020 and what a crazy year it was.

456 fights total in a year that saw a global pandemic bring a close to all live sports for almost two months at least before Dana White and co. became the leaders of getting the show back on the road.

Among those 456 fights we saw some incredible fights, some incredible knockouts and some incredible submission wins across the weight divisions. But which ones were the best?

We’re going to rank our personal top five of the year, before handing out the award for each of the following categories:


BREAKTHROUGH FIGHTER OF THE YEAR

5. Marvin Vettori (2-0 in 2020)

It was a huge year for the Italian stallion as Marvin Vettori broke into the top five of the middleweight rankings and settled a grudge in the octagon.

Vettori started the year scheduled to face Darren Stewart, but COVID-19 struck and the event got cancelled. He was their paired with Karl Roberson but the fight fell through twice, once due to COVID then a second time because Roberson had issues relating to his weight cut (after he missed weight). They finally met in June at UFC Vegas 2, where Roberson missed weight again. Vettori ended up getting a first-round submission and performance of the night to settle their beef.

Later in the year, Vettori stepped in on short-notice when Kevin Holland had to withdraw from his fight with Jack Hermansson due to COVID-19. He dominated the fight entirely and took home a unanimous decision win, including another performance of the night bonus. He ends the year as a genuine contender at 185lbs and with two wins and two performance bonuses. What a year.

4. Joaquin Buckley (2-1 in 2020)

It’s not often that a fighter makes a losing debut in August and still manages to make it onto a list like this. That’s what Joaquin Buckley has done though.

After winning in the LFA, Buckley made a one week turnaround to make a short-notice debut against Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 6 but got knocked out cold in the third round. He made a good enough impression to get a second chance though and returned two months later against Contender Series graduate Impa Kasanganay, who had won his UFC debut in August. The fight produced arguably the greatest knockout of all-time, with a jumping spinning back kick from Buckley starching Kasanganay. That knockout went viral and shot Buckley into a new stratosphere of recognition, but he didn’t stop there.

He returned to the octagon again the following month to take on the undefeated Jordan Wright, blasting through him with his powerful striking and excellent conditioning. He seems to be pushing for a fight with a personal rival next in James Krause, but a win in that should see him pushing himself into rankings contention in 2021.

3. Taila Santos (2-0 in 2020)

The future of women’s MMA looks bright and the inclusion of Taila Santos into the flyweight division does nothing to harm that.

The Brazilian returned after over a year out of the cage to fight on Fight Island in July and absolutely walked through Molly McCann in the bout, using her range and excellent striking well while also dominating the ground exchanges too.

She then matched up with Gillian Robertson on short notice when her fight with Montana De La Rosa was cancelled just hours before the event due to COVID-19. Against Robertson, she played into her opponents strengths and still dominated the fight, taking the fight to the ground and stayed in top position dishing out plenty of damage.

The performances have shown that she can mix it up wherever the fight takes place and that makes her a dangerous prospect in a division not overflowing with quality. A couple more wins in 2021 could see her climb the rankings and start looking towards Valentina Shevchenko for a title fight.

2. Kevin Holland (5-0 in 2020)

Five fights in seven months is a hectic schedule, but five wins and four finishes to go with it make Kevin Holland a stand-out fighter for this year.

He started with a first-round TKO of Anthony Hernandez in May, before starching Joaquin Buckley in August. Then followed a close-fought split decision win over Darren Stewart, as both men swung for the bleachers and attacked on the ground too. He called for an immediate rematch because he wanted to prove to everyone he was the better man and while he didn’t get that, he did get Charlie Ontiveros in October whom he defeated via first-round verbal submission following a slam.

Holland stepped up to the plate for a short-notice fight with Jack Hermansson in December to try and get ranked but unfortunately had to withdraw from that fight after testing positive for COVID-19. He refused to end the year 4-0 though and instead fought Jacare Souza the following week at UFC 256. In a fight where it was widely expected that he needed to keep the fight standing to have a chance of victory, Holland managed to finish Souza from his back with strikes. He was aggressive, powerful and active and was able to land a vicious knockout blow before standing and finishing the job.

‘Trailblazer’ is finally in the rankings now to end the year and another win or two will have him knocking on the door of Dana White for a fight with champion Israel Adesanya sooner rather than later.

1. Khamzat Chimaev (3-0 in 2020)

There was only one winner in this category for 2020 and it had to be Khamzat Chimaev.

From the realms of the unknown, Chimaev entered the UFC octagon for the first time in July on Fight Island to take on middleweight veteran John Phillips. What followed was the most one-sided fight in UFC history as Chimaev took him down immediately and just beat him to a pulp for the entire first round. In the second, it was exactly the same until he decided enough was enough and scored a submission win.

He then made UFC history by making his second UFC appearance just ten days later, this time at welterweight, to take on young British prospect Rhys McKee. What followed was the new most one-sided fight in UFC history as Chimaev took him down too and pummelled him until the referee stepped in just over three minutes into the fight. Across both fights, Chimaev only absorbed two total strikes which shows the dominance.

He then took on Gerald Meerschaert at UFC Vegas 11, where he was expected to be tested thoroughly against someone with UFC wins on his CV. Instead, he landed a single strike that put Meerschaert out cold in just 17 seconds to make it 3-0 in just 66 days – another record.

He was supposed to see 2020 out with a fight against number three ranked welterweight Leon Edwards, but because of COVID-19 that will now be part of the triple-header on Fight Island to open 2021. A win could see him compete for a title after less than a year in the organisation. What a year.

Tap Ins & Tap Outs MMA Awards 2020 – Knockout of the Year

The UFC have finally completed their set of fights for the year of 2020 and what a crazy year it was.

456 fights total in a year that saw a global pandemic bring a close to all live sports for almost two months at least before Dana White and co. became the leaders of getting the show back on the road.

Among those 456 fights we saw some incredible fights, some incredible knockouts and some incredible submission wins across the weight divisions. But which ones were the best?

We’re going to rank our personal top five of the year, before handing out the award for each of the following categories:

  • Submission of the year
  • Knockout of the year
  • Fight of the year
  • Breakthrough fighter of the year
  • Fighter of the year

KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR

5. Abdul Razak Alhassan vs KHAOS WILLIAMS (UFC Vegas 14, November 2020)

When two hard-hitting knockout artists meet in the octagon, usually we get a tentative fight with both fighters well aware of potential consequences. That isn’t what happened in this one though.

Alhassan and Williams met in the middle, threw a couple of shots each before Williams countered a leg kick with a straight right hand that put Alhassan to sleep. He was stiff as a board and out cold as Williams landed on more strike just before the referee could get there to end the fight. From start to finish, this one lasted just 30 seconds. Stunning.

4. CONOR MCGREGOR vs Donald Cerrone (UFC 246, January 2020)

The first event of 2020, with the biggest star in the sport in the main event – and it delivered.

Conor McGregor returned to the UFC after over a year away to take on Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at 170lbs, with many interested to see if the power would carry up the weight divisions. McGregor came out like a bull immediately swinging his trademark left hand, but Cerrone ducked and clinched. From there, Conor landed four shoulder strikes which broke ‘Cowboy’s nose before following up with a head kick and violent ground and pound for a 40 second knockout. What a night.

3. CALVIN KATTAR vs Jeremy Stephens (UFC 249, May 2020)

After the UFC was forced to a halt with the rest of sport thanks to the coronavirus, it returned with a bang with UFC 249.

On a super stacked card, Calvin Kattar met Jeremy Stephens in a featherweight clash where both men knew a win would get them into title contention. The two engaged in what was a fantastic stand-up battle, with Kattar proving he is one of the best pure boxers in the company. But it was a perfectly placed elbow to the jaw of Stephens that ended this fight, dropping Stephens before finishing with some ground and pound. It was an iconic KO and one that will be on Kattar’s highlight reel for the rest of his career.

2. Raphael Assuncao vs CODY GARBRANDT (UFC 250, June 2020)

A three-fight losing skid was snapped in the greatest way possible by Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt at UFC 250, with this violent knockout of a former contender.

Garbrandt returned to the octagon after over a year absence and looked back to his best, with sharp kicks, good scrambles and heavy hands at play as Assuncao struggled to cope. As both fighters prepared to enter a third and final round, Garbrandt found himself against the cage with his opponent loading up a right hook. ‘No Love’ instead ducked down low, before exploding up with a wild right hook of his own. He took Assuncao’s strike to the chest while his right hand landed flush on the jaw, knocking him unconscious with a single second remaining in the round. Garbrandt walked off with his hand raised, knowing the fight was over and is now preparing for a title shot down a division on the back of it.

1. Impa Kasanganay vs JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (UFC Fight Island 5, October 2020)

A clash between two middleweight prospects who were making relatively quick turnarounds following their UFC debuts.

Buckley had put in a good showing on a week’s notice but ultimately lost via knockout to Kevin Holland two months prior, while Kasanganay won his UFC debut a couple of weeks later. They met here, with many expecting Kasanganay to use his reach and length to keep the powerful Buckley at range for a victory.

Instead, Buckley consistently got on the inside and landed power strikes which clearly troubled Kasanganay. But in the second round Buckley threw a kick that got caught and instead of being taken down or just retreating, he channeled his inner Mortal Kombat characted. Buckley spun with his foot still being held by Kasanganay and kicked with his other leg, landing straight to the face and knocking him out cold. It was visually incredible and something we’ve never seen before. Easily the knockout of the year.

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 255: Figueiredo vs Perez – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Sasha Palatnikov def Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 3 (2:47)

What a round! Cosce comes out super aggressive but Palatnikov does well to use his kicks and attempt to slow him down. Palatnikov shoots for a takedown and Cosce defends well with a guillotine attack. Both men get to their feet and start swinging haymakers and Cosce catches a body kick attempt and starts throwing big punches. Palatnikov attempts a forward roll to escape but Cosce holds on and starts throwing haymakers again and he’s hurt him! Big punches go close to ending the fight but Palatnikov recovers and starts hurting Cosce back! Wild exchanges have both men hurt but Cosce is now exhausted! Spinning back first by Palatnikov lands flush as the round ends. 10-9 Palatnikov for me but could be either way.

Second round is much more composed by both fighters as Cosce is still trying to recover from an energy sapping opening round. Palatnikov throwing lots of combinations and landing big strikes, trying to put Cosce out but he’s showing real heart and determination to stick it out. A low blow from Cosce puts a pause in the action and allows Cosce a chance to recover but Palatnikov’s striking is giving him a big edge here. 20-18 Palatnikov.

Final round and Palatnikov comes out more calm and considered this time around, trying to stay away from the inevitable onslaught. Nice body kicks and a snapping jab while he continues to dominate the clinch with knees to the body. Another low blow from Cosce causes a pause in the action once again. Palatnikov comes out after the restart with a quick pace against the tired Cosce with more body attacks. A lazy takedown attempt from Cosce is defended well and then Palatnikov gets up to his feet and starts landing bombs on a downed Cosce! Cosce moving his head but not defending well and the referee steps in and ends it! What a win for Palatnikov!

Kyle Daukaus def Dustin Stoltzfus via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Very tactical start to the fight between both guys with Daukaus looking to use his big frame to use his range well. A big left hand lands by Daukaus and the two end up clinching against the cage trying to apply their grappling game. Daukaus eventually gets a takedown after lots of 50/50 positions and a scramble sees them in an interesting position with their legs tangled on the ground at the end of the round. 10-9 Daukaus but interesting nonetheless.

Second round is much more of the same, with Daukaus dominating the striking exchanges but Stoltzfus holding his own in the grappling realm of the fight. An accidental low blow from Daukaus causes a brief pause in the fight. Daukaus using his jab and a big left hand well as the action resumes but they tie each other up against the cage and battle it out there for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Daukaus.

Final round and the pattern continues at the start of it as Daukaus goes for the big left hand before a clinch ensues against the cage. Daukaus stuffs the takedown attempt from Stoltzfus and lands some big shots while he’s down! He throws a few bombs and then stands up to force Stoltzfus back to his feet. More big shots with the left hand and he continues to deny the takedown attempts to completely dominate the round. He threatens with a guillotine and ends up trying to lock up a d’arce choke with 30 seconds to go but Stoltzfus survives until the bell. Impressive performance.

Alan Jouban def Jared Gooden via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Very fun opening round between these two as Gooden looks to take Jouban’s head off with big hooks and Jouban responds with heavy left body kicks and some nice right check-hooks of his own. Jouban showing great head movement and footwork, mostly avoiding the big shots of Gooden. Gooden lands a big right hand and follows with an accidental headbutt that the referee misses and has caused Jouban’s eye to swell up. 10-9 Jouban.

Jouban comes out in the second round continuing to be aggressive and goes for the body kicks early but Gooden is throwing less haymakers and more pop shots. A nice right hand lands and wobbles Jouban but he stays calm and composed. Jouban starts to make a comeback with some big punches of his own and wobbles Gooden with a big right hook! Jouban goes for the kill but Gooden survives well as we head into the final round. 20-18 Jouban.

Final round and Gooden knows he is down on the scorecards, so he comes out very aggressively. He takes the centre of the cage and starts head hunting, landing left hooks on the closed eye of Jouban. Jouban still throwing big body kicks and doing well to avoid too much damage but Gooden continues to come forward. A big exchange of punches leads to Gooden shooting for a takedown and Jouban sinks in a guillotine as he hits the mat. 30 seconds to go and he hold the position but isn’t squeezing yet and then with 15 seconds to go, ramps up the pressure. A big squeeze almost puts Gooden out cold but the buzzer goes to save him a stoppage and it’ll go to the cards.

PRELIMS

Nicolas Dalby def Daniel Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

A very intriguing opening round between these two fighters as Dalby takes a traditional wide-base stance and bounces around a lot early on. Rodriguez is looking to move in and land big punches but Dalby is switching stances and using his front leg well to keep distance. Dalby throws a big one-two that lands flush on Rodriguez and wobbles him but ‘D-Rod’ recovers very quickly. Head kick by Dalby lands too and he is doing really well to stay out of range. Rodriguez lands a nice left hand and starts chasing for the punches and ends the round well. 10-9 Dalby.

Much more aggressive start to the round for Rodriguez as he comes out, takes the centre and forces Dalby against the cage. Some nice jabs and straight lefts before a takedown attempt is defended well by Dalby. Dalby then shoots for a takedown of his own but Rodriguez defends well this time. Dalby misses with a few head kick attempts but starts landing some nice inside leg kicks. Another takedown attempt from Dalby forces Rodriguez against the cage but he defends well and the buzzer ends the round. 19-19 but very close round.

Slower final round as both guys come out clearly quite tired. Rodriguez is throwing single punches and leg kicks while Dalby is continuing with the game plan to dart in and out using kicks and jabs. There’s not much action other than that, but it’s Dalby who has the upper hand and probably wins the round. 29-28 overall to Dalby for me but it could go either way.

Antonina Shevchenko def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:33)

Both ladies come out and swing big punches early before clinching up. Lipski looks to block a throw attempt from Shevchenko and they end up against the cage once again. Both women throwing knees and elbows before Shevchenko lands a nice takedown against the fence. Lipski tries to sweep to take the back but Shevchenko does well to control the position and land some nice shots before the round ends. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Second round and Lipski looks to stand and strike and lands a big right hook to the eye that troubles Shevchenko immediately. Shevchenko forces a clinch and a trip and immediately ends up in top position where she remains for the remainder of the round. She lands ground and pound and passes guard with complete ease constantly. Lipski in real trouble as Shevchenko moves into full mount and starts absolutely smashing ground and pound strikes until the referee stops. What a performance.

Joaquin Buckley def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 2 (0:18)

Buckley rushes across the octagon early and engages in a clinch as Wright does well to hold his own. Some big looping strikes land from Buckley but Wright is doing well to move his head off the centre line for the most part. Some nice kicks land and he’s popping his jab well. Buckley explodes with a big hook and lands! He drops Wright and Wright is in big trouble! Some big ground and pound shots but the bell saves him! Very, very lucky to see a second round. 10-9 Buckley.

Second round starts and Wright still looks rocked. Buckley lands two big left hands down the middle and then a big hook that knocks Wright out cold! What a performance and another highlight reel knockout.

Brandon Moreno def Brandon Royval via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

What a round! Both guys come flying out of the traps with fast exchanges and strong strikes. Royval goes for a spinning elbow attack but Moreno avoids it and takes the back of Royval. He gets the fight down to the ground and looks to sink in a rear-naked choke but it turns into a nasty neck crank. It’s in tight but Royval refuses to tap and breaks the grip before escaping into full guard. A big scramble on the ground leads to a yell of pain from Royval and Moreno gets heavy on top and starts blasting him with ground and pound which forces the referee to stop the fight with a second to go in the round.

After the fight it’s spotted that Royval’s shoulder dislocated during the scramble, hence the lack of defence from the ground and pound.

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Mauricio Rua via Knockout, Round 2 (3:36)

Fast pace start to the fight as Shogun comes out with big shots and Craig looks to manage distance with a Muay-Thai stance and throws some nice kicks. Craig shoots for a takedown and gets it fairly easily to get the fight to the ground and proceeds to control with his excellent grappling. Shogun eventually reverses the position and ends up on top and the round ends with Craig looking to reverse. 10-9 Craig.

Second round and Craig is coming with a very wrestle-heavy approach. Shogun landing a few shots but Craig ducks and takes the fight down to the ground once again. Craig gets in double hooks as he takes the back and looks for submissions. Shogun defends the submission well but gets flattened out and Craig starts smashing him with big punches that forces the legend to tap to strikes. Great performance.

Katlyn Chookagian def Cynthia Calvillo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A very tactical start to this round as Chookagian looks to stay at range and use her jab and kicking game. Calvillo catches a kick and gets a takedown early but Chookagian gets right up to her feet. The rest of the round is a jab and kick test and while there isn’t much action everything happens in Chookagian’s comfort zone. 10-9 Chookagian.

Second round is more of the same as Chookagian is using her length well to just pop jabs off at Calvillo’s face. Calvillo lands a nice left hook twice that lands clean but she has a cut on her nose and some swelling under her eye from the jab. Excellent footwork from Chookagian who is just moving in and out of range at will and picking her shots. 20-18 Chookagian.

Final round and it’s more of the same from both fighters for the final five minutes. Chookagian continuing to just pick her off at will with superior striking and kickboxing skills. Calvillo goes for a clinch but Chookagian pushes her away with ease, showing a clear physical advantage. Not much action throughout the bout but should be a comfortable decision win for Chookagian.

Tim Means def Mike Perry via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

A very intriguing opening round as Mike Perry shows off his grappling skills early on. Means lands a few nice jabs and Perry opts to shoot for the takedown against the cage. A nice body lock gets the fight down and Perry passes his guard and then eventually takes his back. Perry nice and calm on Means’ back and looks to sink in a rear-naked choke but Means fights it well and ends up on top before getting back to the feet. Means spends the rest of the round landing his jab at will but it’s a Perry round. 10-9.

Second round is more tactical from Means, who is using his jab well and much more aware of the takedown threat now. He’s starting to work the body more too but Perry is landing his right hook well too. Perry lands a huge right hand that wobbles Means but he looks to go for the takedown instead of more strikes and allows Means to recover. Big lead elbow by Means cracks Perry in the nose and they exchange more punches and elbows as the round comes to an end. 19-19, great fight.

Final round and Perry comes out looking to use his physical advantage to get another takedown. Means defends well against the cage and breaks away to land some nice punches. Calm approach from both suddenly disappears as the two start exchanging haymakers in the centre of the cage, both landing big hooks and crosses flush to the chin. Means shoots for a takedown to move the fight against the cage and break it up a bit. Final minute and Perry lands a big right hand before Means responds with an elbow. Both men end the round with another crazy exchange in the pocket. What a great fight!

Valentina Shevchenko def Jennifer Maia via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Interesting start to the round as both women exchange short flurries of strikes before Shevchenko gets hold of Maia and throws her to the mat, ending up in full guard. Maia ties up the guard as Shevchenko stays patient and lands some short shots and some elbows in ground and pound. Pretty chill round, 10-9 Shevchenko.

A very, very interesting second round as Maia controls the round. Another clinch but this time it’s Maia who controls the position against the cage and eventually she gets the takedown. She controls the position entirely for the round and gets in some offence too to take the second round for herself. 19-19.

Third round and Shevchenko opens up with two big left hands that land flush on Maia’s chin. Maia fires back with a right hand of her own and clinches against the cage. Shevchenko breaks away and then lands two more big shots that wobble Maia! They clinch up again and Shevchenko lands a heavy takedown and ends up in side control. Maia gets back up to her feet before one more takedown by Shevchenko as the round ends with ‘Bullet’ in top position. 29-28 Shevchenko.

Into the championship rounds and Shevchenko lands some big left hands once again. She throws a right hook, wraps in a body lock and takes the fight down to the ground again. She spends the entire round in top position landing strikes from the top, mainly to the body to take this round too. 39-37 Shevchenko.

Final round and Maia charges across the cage looking for a clinch early on to try and get a takedown. Shevchenko defends excellently and then lands a flurry of strikes that bust up the nose of the challenger. Maia tries again for a clinch but Shevchenko is defending perfectly now and landing big, heavy shots on the break. Into the final minute now and Maia lands a front kick to the face but Shevchenko eats it. Spinning back fist misses as the Maia goes for a final takedown attempt but the buzzer goes. 49-46 Shevchenko for me, pretty straight forward win.

Deiveson Figueiredo def Alex Perez via Submission, Round 1 (1:57)

A fast start to the fight as both men meet in the middle and throw big body kicks but miss. Perez moves in quickly and throws some nice shots but they all miss, then Figueiredo lands a body kick. Two big kicks from Perez and then he shoots for a single leg takedown, but Figueiredo keeps it standing. Perez tries to get the back but Figueiredo spirals around the leg and looks for a knee bar which leads to a scramble. Figueiredo turns on the ground mid-scramble and sinks in a deep guillotine and secures the tap! Wow! Figueiredo is the real deal.