Tag Archives: Jonathan Pearce

UFC London: Blaydes vs Aspinall – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to London’s O2 Arena for the second time this year for a stacked card, headlined by a heavyweight duel between top five big-men Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall.

We’ll also see the likes of Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Mason Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Paul Craig and Muhammad Mokaev competing in an event sure to provide plenty of fireworks.

Last week at UFC Long Island we went 8/12 with three perfect picks, moving us up to 685/1032 (64.34%) with 284 perfect picks (42.77%). You can check out our full history of picks here.

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


Makwan Amirkhani (17-7) vs Jonathan Pearce (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A really fun 145-pound fight up next between two great grapplers. Amirkhani snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out, submitting Mike Grundy in just 57 seconds via anaconda choke. Pearce is on a three-fight win streak KO’ing Kai Kamaka III, submitting Omar Morales (UFC 266) and then earning a decision over Christian Rodriguez most recently.

Amirkhani is a great grappler with really tight submission skills to work from, earning 12 submission wins in his career. “JSP” on the other hand is a great wrestler, but he tends to use his physicality to wear on opponents and uses his volume as a weapon to really grind on them. That means this fight goes one of two ways – a quick submission or a dominant display.

I’m leaning towards the dominant display, because Amirkhani isn’t as active from the top as he should be considering his skillset and his cardio lets him down on a regular basis. So long as Pearce doesn’t give up his back early doors, he should be able to use his activity to score points and then eventually grind his way to a wide decision of potentially even a late finish.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Decision

Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs Charles Rosa (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Finally, “The Prospect” is back in a UFC octagon! Wood suffered defeat way back at UFC 254 against Casey Kenney and has seen several fights fall out ever since. Rosa on the other hand has lost his last two, dropping decisions to Damon Jackson and then most recently TJ Brown at UFC Vegas 46.

Wood is a fine striker on the feet but he’s also got some half-decent wrestling and submission skills from the top position. Rosa meanwhile is a great striker and he has got some violent top position which opens up submission attempts, but he has never been able to sort out his God-awful takedown defence and that’s a huge problem in this match up.

His offensive wrestling isn’t good enough to take Wood down at will, and the Brit is very good at scrambling back to his feet anyway. Outside of that, Wood is the better fighter everywhere. He’s a better striker, better wrestler, more powerful and quicker. He chooses how to win this essentially barring a hail Mary submission win, so go with Wood for a W.
PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision



Marc Diakiese (15-5) vs Damir Hadzovic (14-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another British lightweight on the card in this match up. Diakiese suffered back-to-back defeats against Rafael Fiziev and Rafael Alves, before bouncing back with a decision win over Viacheslav Borshchev most recently. Hadzovic did the same in his last fight, beating Yancy Medeiros via unanimous decision.

Diakiese is a solid kickboxer with good power and explosiveness, while his takedown defence is strong too. Hadzovic is a brawler who relies on his heavy hands big time, and hopes to encourage his opponents to be drawn into a scrap with him. Diakiese won’t do that, because he’s got the advantage everywhere this fight goes.

“Bonecrusher” is taller, has a better reach, is the better technical striker and if he really needs it he’s by far the better wrestler too. Hadzovic’s takedown defence is pretty poor and Diakiese has shown great durability throughout his career to make a one-punch KO unlikely, so expect a dominant win for Diakiese.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision

Mason Jones (11-1) vs Ludovit Klein (18-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An absolute barnstormer of a fight gets the featured prelim spot, just one week after the fight got put together. Jones suffered the first defeat of his career to Mike Davis at UFC Fight Island 8, before a no contest against Alan Patrick at UFC Vegas 28. He finally got back in the win column last time out though, dominating David Onama. Klein on the other hand snapped a two fight losing-streak last time out when he grabbed a split decision over Devonte Smith at UFC 272.

Jones is a really well-rounded prospect, who has controlled the distance and pace of all his fights so far and dominated most people with his relentless pressure. Klein meanwhile is a really talented striker, with incredible kicks and striking skills but his overall game tends to let him down against people who won’t have a kickboxing match with him. Jones is almost certain to pressure Klein to death and look to land combinations and knees to the body.

Klein has the ability to knock Jones out because he’s always willing to take a shot to give three back. But if Jones is capable of eating them, in the way he’s been able to against everyone else, then he will walk through them and punish Klein with his pressure. Klein’s cardio tends to let him down later in fights, so expect Jones to really put it on him and maybe even get a finish late on.
PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill – Early prelims 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, starting with the early prelims.


Mario Bautista (8-2) vs Jay Perrin (10-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A short notice bout put together this week in the bantamweight division. Bautista saw a two-fight win streak snapped last time out when Tevin Jones KO’d him in the second round at UFC 259, while Perrin makes his UFC debut on a run of seven wins in eight fights.

Bautista is a pressure fighter who uses kicks to close distance and likes to chop at the legs. He’s also a good counter puncher with decent power and is well rounded. Perrin on the other hand is also a solid striker, with good leg kicks and always looking to extend his combinations to catch an opponent off guard.

Both fighters will be willing to shoot for takedowns as well as stand and bang, so the short-notice nature of the bout makes me lean towards Bautista. He’s never had an issue with his cardio and I’d argue he’s probably got the edge over Perrin in most, if not all, areas so he should be able to implement his game and score the win.
PICK – Mario Bautista via Decision

Jonathan Pearce (11-4) vs Christian Rodriguez (7-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A banger at featherweight between two very interesting fighters in yet another short-notice bout. Pearce is on a two-fight win streak having beaten Kai Kamaka III and Omar Morales most recently via submission at UFC 266. Rodriguez is undefeated and has split his wins 3-3-1 by knockout, submission and decision.

Pearce is a solid wrestler who uses a suffocating pace to wear on his opponents with some really decent striking too. He’ll be coming up against a really talented striker in Rodriguez, who has crisp boxing, a lovely one-two and lovely knees too. He’s a good grappler himself, but there is a big gap between himself and Pearce in that department and that’s a big problem.

Rodriguez is undoubtedly a superstar in the making, with lots of talent and potential, but this looks to be too big a step too soon – especially on short notice. Pearce will suffocate him with pressure, look for takedowns against the cage and throw big combinations to get the fight down and eventually get a finish via ground and pound.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Knockout, Round 3



Chad Anheliger (11-5) vs Jesse Strader (5-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A potential fight of the night at 135-pounds between two very talented fighters. Anheliger makes his UFC debut on a nine-fight win streak following his win on Dana White’s Contender Series back in September, while Strader got slept in his only UFC bout to date by Montel Jackson at UFC Vegas 22.

Anheliger is a tidy fighter, with great technical striking and counter punching, a deep gas tank and a granite chin. Strader on the other hand is an explosive fighter who looks to take his opponent out early with a blitz, before his cardio inevitably lets him down later in the fights. Strader is a great wrestler too, but almost never uses it. If he did use it then we’d see a very different fight, because all of Angeliger’s defeats have come via submission.

With that said though, Strader isn’t the best submission artist and I don’t see him wrestling for prolonged periods of time. With that, Anheliger will trade with him on the feet and look to use his counter strikes to pay dividends on the fading chin of Strader as we approach the end of the second round. It’ll be a fun fight while it lasts, but I don’t expect it to go the full 15 minutes.
PICK – Chad Anheliger via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN CARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Early prelims predictions

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

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

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

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


Jonathan Pearce (10-4) vs Omar Morales (11-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight bout to open up between two guys with one loss each in their UFC careers so far. Pearce lost his debut to Joe Lauzon in 2019 before bouncing back with a KO win against Kai Kamaka III at UFC Vegas 15, while Morales was beaten by Giga Chikhadze at UFC Fight Island 5, but recovered to earn another win against Shane Young at UFC 260.

Pearce is a long-time wrestler who looks to push the pace and wear on opponents, with excellent ground and pound leading him to eight KO wins in ten career victories. Morales on the other hand is a technical striker with excellent low kicks and improved wrestling in recent times. Morales has good defence and rarely exerts himself too much, but he does have a tendency to cruise in fights and Pearce will look to make him uncomfortable.

On the feet Morales has the advantage but on the ground and in grappling exchanges it’s Pearce who has the edge. Stylistically I think the fight suits Pearce a little bit more because of his volume and pressure but the experience and skill of Morales will likely see him get the decision win.
PICK – Omar Morales via Decision
BETTING TIP – Over 2.5 total rounds @ 8/15 (Bet365)

Matthew Semelsberger (8-3) vs Martin Sano Jr (4-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Some very odd matchmaking here in the welterweight division between Semelsberger and Sano Jr. ‘Semi the Jedi’ was on a five-fight win streak before losing to Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 29, while Sano Jr has fought three times since 2014 and hasn’t won any of them.

Semelsberger is a powerful striker with a decent bit of wrestling in his back pocket too. Sano is the main training partner of Nick Diaz and that’s why he’s on the card, not because he’s done anything to earn himself a spot on the roster. He’s got okay boxing and okay jiu-jitsu, but he’s nowhere near good enough to do anything significant to Semelsberger here.

It’s a weird fight, but thankfully the chances of it lasting a long time are slim. Semelsberger lamps him hard in the first round and pours on more damage until the referee calls it quits in the first round.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 1

Cody Brundage (6-1) vs Nick Maximov (6-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very short notice fight after Karl Roberson pulled out during fight week, the undefeated Nick Maximov now faces Cody Brundage in both men’s promotional debut. Brundage lost on Dana White’s Contender Series but bounced back with a submission win in February to get a chance here, while Maximov won on the Contender Series in November last year to earn his spot.

Brundage is a strong striker with excellent Muay-Thai skills, but he also has a good wrestling background too. Maximov however is the stronger grappler in this battle, with his style generally set around securing a takedown and controlling the position on the ground. Maximov has a great chin and some great jiu-jitsu skills too, training with the Diaz brothers.

Brundage would generally have a really good chance of winning this fight if it wasn’t on just three day’s notice. Because it is though, Maximov will be in fighting shape and his style is so wearing on an opponent that I think he’ll be able to secure a victory.
PICK – Nick Maximov via Decision

Uros Medic (7-0) vs Jalin Turner (10-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fun lightweight fight to close out the early prelims as the undefeated Medic takes on the ‘The Tarantula’. Medic has a perfect record of seven wins in seven fights, winning against Aalon Cruz in the first-round last time out at UFC 259. Turner on the other hand has won his last two via finish, most recently securing a submission win against Brok Weaver at UFC Vegas 10.

Medic is a superb striker with powerful hands and strong kicks, with a real killer instinct having finished all of his career bouts. Turner is a powerful striker in his own fight, with long limbs helping him on the ground too for someone else who has finished all of his career wins. Both guys like to fight on the outside and use their range, which will play into Turner’s favour with a six-inch advantage. However, Medic’s speed and pressure is something that Turner isn’t a big fan of which makes this very interesting.

Both have the power to stop the other and while Medic isn’t the most proven fighter, he’s never lost. Turner has been stopped by strikes three times before, but he’s by far the best fighter that Medic will have ever fought. It’s a close fight no doubt and whoever wins will have earned it, but I think Medic will be able to show his talent and get a big win.
PICK – Uros Medic via Knockout, Round 2
BETTING TIP – Fight NOT to go the distance @ 8/15 (Bet365)

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Prelims predictions

The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.

After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.

Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with the prelims of this 12 fight card.


EARLY PRELIMS

Luke Sanders (13-4) vs Felipe Colares (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting fight in the featherweight division as both men look to get back into the winning column after defeats last time out. Sanders was submitted by Nate Manness at UFC Vegas 15 last time out, while Colares was on the wrong end of a war against Montel Jackson and suffered a decision loss in January 2020.

Sanders is an okay grappler with good jiu-jitsu skills, but in recent fights has looked to use his power punching more. He rocked Manness in their fight before eventually getting rocked himself, while Colares is a striker himself with good durability and speed. Neither man are any good fighting on their back foot and defensively they both have gaping holes in their game, with Sanders’ defensive wrestling in particular woeful.

It’s a fight in the perfect spot on the card as they’re two of the not-so-good fighters performing on the night, but I trust Sanders’ power to come through and get a stoppage as they both go for it on the feet.
PICK – Luke Sanders via Knockout, Round 2

Andreas Michailidis (12-4) vs KB Bhullar (8-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight bout between two impressive newcomers who lost their UFC debuts in 2020. Michailidis had a strong first round against Modesta Bukauskas back at Fight Island 2, but some elbows to the side of the head saw him unable to make his corner when the buzzer went and the referee waved it off. Bhullar made a short-notice debut against Tom Breese at UFC Fight Island 5, getting knocked out in the first round.

Michailidis is a decent wrestler who throws great kicks and has good powerful hands too, while Bhullar tends to throw fancy kicks but doesn’t really land and can sometimes blow his load too early. Bhullar tends to keep his hands quite low because of the way he throws kicks, but Michailidis just seems to be the better martial artist.

Good grappling skills, great kicking game and good cardio, Michailidis should be able to start fast and put it on Bhullar enough for an early win.
PICK – Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 1

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee (5-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

One of the best muay-thai fighters in the strawweight division, Lona Lookboonmee makes her return to the UFC to make it back-to-back wins for the first time in her octagon career against Sam Hughes. Lookboonmee bounced back from a defeat against Angela Hill with a comfortable win over Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 9. Hughes’ debut was on short-notice against Tecia Torres and her corner stopped the fight after round 1 after an eye injury at UFC 256.

Lookboonmee is a tremendous striker with great kicks and clinch work, with her grappling defence improving with every fight. Hughes is a classic wrestler style fighter who works for submissions once she gets the fight down to the ground. Hughes has a decent size advantage physically, but she is more than hittable on her feet and that’s dangerous against Lookboonmee.

Ideally both women want to be marching forward and forcing their opponent backwards, and I think Lookboonmee is able to use her kicks better to keep distance and earn a decision win.
PICK – Lona Lookboonmee via Decision

Poliana Botelho (8-3) vs Luana Carolina (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight bout to open up the main card as both women look to bounce back from defeat to get back in the win column in the UFC. Botelho was well beaten by Gillian Robertson at Fight Island 6 in a unanimous decision, while Carolina returned from a spine injury to get knee-barred by Ariane Lipski at UFC Fight Island 2 last summer.

Both women are preferential strikers with decent ground game to back themselves up, but you’d expect the fight to go the way of a kickboxing match. Both women have better offensive takedowns than defensive and if they find themselves getting pieced up on the feet, they may shoot. If that happens, Botelho seems like the more physical of the two and I’d back her to be able to keep Carolina down.

It’s a close fight but I think Botelho has slightly more paths to victory and therefore she gets the nod.
PICK – Poliana Botelho via Decision

Kai Kamaka III (8-3) vs TJ Brown (14-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight bout again on this card as Kai Kamaka III looks to bounce back from defeat when he takes on TJ Brown, who has lost his last two in a row. Kamaka defeated Tony Kelley at UFC 252 in his UFC debut but was knocked out against Jonathan Pearce at UFC Vegas 15. Brown is yet to win in the UFC, being submitted by Jordan Griffin in February 2020 before a decision defeat against Dany Chavez at UFC 252 too.

Kamaka is a great striker who looks like he hits with a lot of power, but he has just one knockout win in his career so far with the rest coming via decision. Brown is a good wrestler with great scrambles and decent power of his own, but he also has some very good cardio too. Kamaka’s cardio has been a huge issue in his career and if Brown can push the pace you could see Kamaka wilt as the fight goes on.

Brown is at a disadvantage on the feet but only just, while the gap in cardio and wrestling is much bigger, so I think the underdog takes the win here.
PICK – TJ Brown via Decision

Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Jonathan Pearce (10-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

One of the best kickers in the sport looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on ‘JSP’ in the featherweight division. Benitez had lost two in a row before stopping Justin Jaynes via a knee to the body and strikes at UFC Vegas 16, while Pearce beat Kai Kamaka at UFC Vegas 15 in his last fight.

Benitez is a remarkably powerful kicker, using distance well and throwing them in combination with his punches too. Pearce is a good wrestler with good power in his hands as eight knockouts from his ten career victories show. Benitez will undoubtedly look to stay at range and use his leg kicks and body kicks to stop Pearce from trying to close the distance to use his wrestling to get this fight to the ground.

Benitez is very good at getting back up to his feet when he does get taken down and with Pearce’s lead leg an obvious target, I think he should be able to earn a competitive decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision

Randa Markos (10-10-1) vs Luana Pinheiro (8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The featured prelim bout is a strawweight fight between UFC debutant Luana Pinheiro as she takes on the veteran Randa Markos. Markos has lost four of her last five and each of her last five, getting tapped out by Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 11 before dropping a decision to Kanako Murata at UFC Vegas 14. Pinheiro has won six-in-a-row with six finishes, including four submissions and two knockouts.

Markos is a wrestler who likes to lay in top position and look for openings either through strikes or submissions, but is entering the twilight of her career now. Pinheiro though is a beast of a prospect. She is a black belt in judo and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and is so aggressive when looking for a finish in her fights. Markos isn’t a bad fighter, lets be clear, all her recent defeats have been against top fighters, but Pinheiro is better right now.

Despite a slight disadvantage in size, I think Pinheiro can use her massively improved striking to hurt Markos before eventually grabbing hold of her neck and earning a huge submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 2