Tag Archives: Kai Kara-France

UFC Columbus: Blaydes vs Daukaus – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the USA and a full crowd for a fight night event this weekend as Curtis Blaydes fights Chris Daukaus in Columbus.

After an amazing trip to London, we have another heavyweight main event this time with two fighters battling to stay in top five conversations and enter their name into the round-robin that’s buzzing in Francis Ngannou’s absence.

We’ll also see a huge flyweight eliminator between Askar Askarov and Kai Kara-France to see who could be the next title contender in the division.

Last time out at UFC London we had a great night, going 10/12 with our picks with three perfect picks to move up to 578/891 (64.87%) with 244 perfect picks (42.21%).

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


Marc Diakiese (14-5) vs Viacheslav Borshchev (6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A lightweight bout to open up the main card in this one. Diakiese has lost five of his last seven and is battling for his UFC career right now, having lost to Rafael Fiziev and then Rafael Alves most recently at UFC Vegas 42. Borshchev is 6-1 professionally with a huge body shot KO against Dakota Bush at UFC Vegas 46 in his debut last time out.

Diakiese and Borshchev are both strong kickboxers with good explosive power in their attacks, while grappling is their weakness although they’re strong enough to hold their own. Diakiese has a major speed advantage between the two and from the outside will look to land kicks and combinations, while Borshchev will look to walk forward and counter with power shots and he has the ability to end the show early.

This will be a highly entertaining striking battle and I’ll be surprised to see it go the distance. Diakiese’s defeats have come to some of the top guys in the division, and Borshchev is one of the best strikers in the division. It’ll be fun and competitive, but I think the power advantage will take it’s toll as the fight goes on for him to score a late finish.
PICK – Viacheslav Borshchev via Knockout, Round 3

Ilir Latifi (16-8) vs Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big heavyweight bout in this one to warm the crowd up for the rest of the main card. Latifi is a former light-heavyweight who has lost three of his last four, but picked up a win against Tanner Boser last time out at UFC Vegas 28 via split decision. Oleinik has lost his last three, getting KO’d by Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 6), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 19) and dropping a decision to Sergei Spivak most recently at UFC Vegas 29.

Latifi is a little man for the division with big weight and an excellent wrestling skillset, while Oleinik is a submission specialist looking for his 60th professional win. He is the master of the Ezekiel choke and is even capable of getting taps off his back with it, so Latifi must be careful. He has an incredible squeeze and can take a huge shot on the chin. Age is a big factor in this fight with a combined age of 82, so I don’t think it lasts too long.

Latifi is going to look to take the fight to the ground with wrestling and stay on top, throwing elbows and ground and pound to earn a win. Oleinik will happily go to ground and will look to sweep him with jiu-jitsu and then explode with chokes and limb attacks.

If this fight is on the way to the mat, then there are plenty of avenues from which Oleinik can secure a submission. He’s by far the bigger man, with Latifi way undersized for the division, and with great experience and submission skills I expect him to be be able to stay on top for long enough to wrap something up and squeeze the life out of Latifi for a win.
PICK – Aleksei Oleinik via Submission, Round 1

Askar Askarov (14-0-1) vs Kai Kara-France (23-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An absolute banger and my pick for the fight of the night in this flyweight bout. Askarov is undefeated earned a dominant win over Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259 last time out. Kara-France has found a resurgence recently and earned a huge KO win over Cody Garbrandt at UFC 269 to set this title eliminator bout up.

Askarov is phenomenal. His wrestling is so clean and crisp, and his grappling skills deserve far more praise than they get and they already get plenty. Askarov’s striking is decent too, with decent power and enough to concern opponents to back up to the cage which allows his takedowns. Kara-France has got solid boxing skills and great power in his hands, while his takedown defence is decent and his lateral movement is solid.

This is a really good match-up, with different outcomes possible for both fighters. Ultimately though, the wrestling of Askarov just looks like too much for Kara-France to handle. Despite his good scrambling skills, Askarov has a habit of controlling guys once he has them down and his attempts are relentless until he gets them there. I’ve not seen anybody deny him on the mat yet, so until Kara-France does it it’s hard to predict he will.
PICK – Askar Askarov via Decision



Matt Brown (25-18) vs Bryan Barberena (16-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Big banger at welterweight incoming here. ‘The Immortal’ Brown is on a farewell tour and earned a big KO win over Dhiego Lima at UFC Vegas 29 in his last bout, while Barberena is 2-2 in his last four with a win over Darian Weeks at UFC Vegas 44 last time out bringing him on a wave of momentum.

Brown is a brawler at this stage of his career, with violent striking and great power in his limbs while he looks to take your head off. He’s also a solid wrestler when he needs to lean on it, which isn’t very often. Barberena is a powerful brawler too, but he’s been more prone to punishment since getting badly beaten by Vicente Luque five fights ago.

This fight will almost certainly be a barn-burner. Barberena will walk forward into the range that makes Brown incredibly dangerous and they’ll brawl in a phone booth until someone falls. Brown could get clipped, but the likelihood is he uses his clinch game well to land elbows and knees too. Ultimately that will be the difference and Brown climbs further up the all-time knockout list.
PICK – Matt Brown via Knockout, Round 2

Joanne Wood (15-7) vs Alexa Grasso (13-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A women’s flyweight fight as the co-main event, but no idea why considering some of the fights on this card. Wood (formerly Calderwood) is on a two-fight losing streak, dropping a decision to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 and then getting submitted by Taila Santos at UFC Vegas 43. Grasso on the opposite hand has won each of her last two, claiming a decision win against Maycee Barber most recently at UFC 258.

Wood is a solid striker on the feet with good pressure fighting, mixing in clinches but struggling to battle against submission and grappling experts. Grasso is a solid boxer with some decent takedown skills of her own, while the volume of her striking is high. Wood likes 50/50 positions quite a lot to try and stamp her authority on fights, but Grasso will look to avoid them and just pump her jab and kicks from distance.

Defensively both of these women are not good defensively when it comes to grappling, so expect it to stay on the feet as much as possible. Wood needs to close the distance and will try to clinch, but Grasso has good movement and excellent boxing and that should ultimately be enough to stay away from the clinch and claim a pretty comfortable win.
PICK – Alexa Grasso via Decision

Curtis Blaydes (15-3) vs Chris Daukaus (12-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweight main event, stake your claim for fight of the night. Blaydes was on a great run before running head first into a Derrick Lewis uppercut at UFC Vegas 19 and going unconscious, but bounced back with a dominant win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 266. Daukaus was doing the same until Lewis KO’d him against the cage at UFC Vegas 45 in the final card of 2021 to snap a five-fight win streak.

Blaydes’ game plan is the same against everyone – shoot for the takedown and dominate you on the ground until you can’t get up or the timer runs out. Daukaus on the other hand has got brilliant boxing and hand speed and is believed to have tremendous jiu-jitsu skills although it’s not been seen in the UFC just yet. If he’s going to win here though, he’ll need to show it from his back.

Blaydes will use his looping hooks on the feet and some low kicks to set up takedowns against the cage and while that’s the plan Daukaus will use his speed to land as much damage as he can. Once Blaydes shoots though, it’s unlikely he doesn’t get the fight down and then it’s a case of whether or not Daukaus can get back up or submit him from his back. I’d hedge my bets that is highly unlikely. Blaydes will lay and pray for 25 minutes from top position and do enough damage to earn a dominant win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson def Priscilla Cachoeira via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 1 (4:59)

Fast paced start to this fight as Robertson looks to take the centre and attempts a couple of takedowns early. Cachoeira defends them well and is starting to land some decent strikes on the feet, landing good jabs and starting to do damage. Robertson suddenly changes levels in the centre though and scores a nice takedown before looking to secure a kimura lock. She transitions into side control and then full mount and starts raining down huge elbows! Cachoeira is in danger and Robertson switches to the back and gets a choke in under the neck. Cachoeira tries to defend it by sticking her thumb in Robertson’s eye but she refuses to let it go and then gets the tap with one second left! What a performance!

Tony Kelley def Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)

Very fast start from Kelley who steps forward immediately and starts chasing Costa across the cage looking to land big shots. Costa trying to weather the storm and countering with his jab, but Kelley continuing to come forward aggressively. Clinch against the cage and Kelley is trying to wear on Costa early, landing some nice knees but Costa seemingly the stronger fighter physically. Kelley switching stances as he throws his combinations and Costa is struggling to make reads, before they clinch up against the cage once again and tangle until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelley.

Another fast start from Kelley as he comes forward quickly again and starts the clinch battles again once again. Costa looks a little fatigued but he’s defending himself well and and staying in it. Costa starting to land his jabs well but Kelley closing the distance and making this fight ugly. Costa lands a nice kick and follows it up with a short right hand that hurts Kelley, but he clinches up quickly and starts defending. Kelley gets him in a Thai clinch and lands some big knees to the body and Costa drops to his knees! Kelley battering the body and thrashing elbows onto Costa who’s just trying to defend himself now. Kelley going for the finish and the referee steps in! What a performance from Kelley.

Ryan Hall def Darrick Minner via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)

Tactical start to the fight from both guys here as Minner lands a couple of leg kicks and misses wildly with some big strikes. Hall very patient and lands a nice body kick and then Hall shoots for the legs. Lots of transitions and rolling for submissions but Minner defending against the kneebars and heel hook attempts well. Minner gets back to the feet and lands a big right hand that cracks Hall who starts to retreat. Hall starts to go for a takedown again and ends up in top position landing some decent ground and pound to end the round. 10-9 either way, but I lean to Hall just.

Hall coming out more aggressive now as he starts swinging kicks, before Minner lands a nice right hand and gets a takedown as Hall goes for a leg. Minner in Hall’s full guard and looking for ground and pound, but Hall is looking to throw up an armbar or triangle submission. Minner stands up and slams Hall down to escape it and goes back for ground and pound. Hall throws up another triangle and it’s tight and he starts throwing big elbows from his back but Minner surviving. Hall looks to advance to a straight armbar but Minner denies it and then he rolls to an omoplata attempt and ends the round with ground and pound. 20-18 Hall.

Final round and Hall rolls under a punch and secures a triangle attempt immediately from his back. Minner defends it well but Hall then switches and is able to get on top. He advances to full mount and is in complete control here, looking for an arm triangle.

Erin Blanchfield def Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Good start to the bout for Maverick as she steps forward aggressively and throws a few strong strikes. Maverick looks to step in with a right hand but Blanchfield ducks under and immediately has a body lock from the back. She maintains the lock and continuously forces Maverick to the ground with excellent wrestling. She moves to full guard and maintains position again, dragging Maverick to the mat every time she tries to get back to the feet. 10-9 Blanchfield.

Maverick starts up well with a little blitz but immediately Blanchfield is able to hip throw her and end up on top. Blanchfield quickly transitions to a crucifix position and starts blasting elbows down on Maverick, but she manages to just about escape as Blanchfield switches to an armbar attempt. Maverick just about defends but Blanchfield then goes for a kimura, but Maverick defends it well. Blanchfield switches to another armbar attempt but Maverick defends it by scissoring the head of her and the buzzer goes. 20-18.

Final round and Maverick is trying to go for a finish because she knows she needs it, but Blanchfield is landing well too. Clinch up against the cage and then Blanchfield catches a leg and moves straight into a takedown. She moves into top control and looks to dominate again and starts landing some big shots from mount. She controls the rest of the round from the top and claims a dominant decision win.

Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:13)

Good start to the fight for Anders as he takes the centre and starts to throw powerful strikes early. Muniz does well and throws a nice calf kick before throwing a short left hook. Anders goes for a right hand again and Muniz ducks under and changes levels with a big takedown. Muniz looks to pass from side control straight into mount but Anders defends it well. Anders gets to his feet but Muniz has a body lock and drags him back down after a bit of back and forth and takes the back. He threatens with a choke and then switches to an armbar attempt and forces the tap from Anders. What a performance.

PRELIMS

Bruno Silva def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1 (1:28)

Crazy start to this fight as Wright charges forward and looks to engage quickly with hard strikes. Wright continues to come forward and attack and he hurts Silva! They clinch up and Wright lands some big knees but Silva lands some big strikes too. They separate and Silva lands two huge blows and Wright is wobbled! Silva goes for the finish and drops him! Some huge shots and the referee steps in! What a KO by Silva!

Tai Tuivasa def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2 (0:26)

Slow and steady start so far with Tuivasa in the centre stalking Sakai, who’s throwing leg kicks and circling on the outside. Tuivasa goes for a nice combination and Sakai retreats, before they clinch up and Sakai lands a nice knee to the body. More knees to the body from Sakai as he holds Tuivasa close to him, before they separate and Tuivasa just misses with a big uppercut. Sakai landing heavy knees and hurting Tuivasa, but he then retaliates with a big right hand and forces Sakai to cover up before they clinch again to end the round. 10-9 Sakai, but Tuivasa looking dangerous too.

Second round and Tuivasa lands a huge left hook early and Sakai is rocked! Tuivasa steps forward and goes for the kill, landing huge hooks as Sakai tries to cover up. Another huge strike and Sakai is out coldddd! What a KO!

Dominick Cruz def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to this fight as both guys look to take the centre and trade leg kicks and movement. Munhoz throwing hard low kicks but Cruz making him miss big. Munhoz throwing bombs but only just missing and Cruz is doing well to land blitzes and flurries of strikes. Cruz goes for a big right hand and Munhoz lands first with a big left hand that drops him! Munhoz lands a huge left hook and goes for the finish but Cruz grabs a leg and somehow survives. He gets up and continues the pattern of the earlier fight. 10-9 Munhoz.

Second round and Munhoz coming forward again and looking for his big bombs. Cruz using his excellent footwork well again though and is using his speed brilliantly. Cruz throwing great combinations on the feet and Munhoz is eating shots, but there isn’t enough power in them to hurt him. Cruz throws a hard low kick that hurts Munhoz and continues to throw his strikes brilliantly. 19-19.

Final round and Cruz has definitely taken over now with his speed and footwork. Cruz has made his reads now and is landing his combinations well, but Munhoz is throwing powerful strikes back and just barely missing. Cruz lands a big one-two clean down the pipe and Munhoz is starting to back up a little. Munhoz lands some nice jabs but Cruz is too slick and is moving so well, throwing leg kicks and left hands. Cruz lands a big combo in the centre as the round comes to an end and that should be the comeback victory for him. 29-28 Cruz.

Josh Emmett def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nothing happens between these two in the opening minute and them Emmett explodes with a massive overhand right that drops Ige! Emmett goes down for a finish but Ige recovers quickly and starts to wrestle. Both guys scramble well and end up back to their feet where they separate. Ige taking the centre now and using his jab well and sees out the round relatively comfortably. 10-9 Emmett most likely for the knockdown, but could go either way in honesty.

Emmett comes out with a big right hand early once again but Ige takes it and continues to come forward. Good exchanges on the feet and Ige landing his jab well with movement and power. Emmett looking for one big shot but he keeps missing it. Ige replies with a big strikes and wobbles Emmett with a big left hook. He stays patient and Emmett eventually recovers. Ige staying so calm though and using that jab well again, circling on the outside and threatening then ending the round with a big right straight. 19-19, Ige round.

Final round and Ige takes the centre once again, looking to use that jab and counter with his left hook. Emmett still looking for the power right hand but Ige seems to have him scouted now. Emmett steps forward and throws a straight right down the middle and wobbles Ige but he recovers very quickly and circles out. Ige lands his jab over and over, but Emmett is being more aggressive and coming forward. Both guys are missing with big shots as we enter the final minute. Emmett ducks under a big head kick but then eats a big uppercut. Both guys throw a final flurry, but that’s a super tough fight to call. Great fight.



MAIN CARD

Sean O’Malley def Raulian Paiva via Knockout, Round 1 (4:42)

Composed start to this fight from both guys as Paiva looks for an early takedown attempt but O’Malley sidesteps him into the cage. Body kick grazes the cup of Paiva and causes a short pause in the action. Paiva throws a hard low kick that gets a reaction, before O’Malley steps in with a hard straight left hand. Paiva trying to apply pressure but O’Malley moving well and avoids a leg kick then lands two left jabs and a big right hand behind it. O’Malley steps well to his right and lands a huge right hand that wobbles Paiva! He stays composed and lands a beautiful combination that hurts him badly! Huge body shot and hook combo drops Paiva and the referee steps in, huge win for O’Malley! Amazing!

Kai Kara-France def Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 1 (3:21)

Lots of range finding in the opening minute of this fight as Garbrandt finds himself with his back against the cage circling, throwing some loose kicks. Kara-France just misses with a big overhand right and then just avoids a big right-hook from Garbrandt. Kara-France lands a big right hand that flattens Garbrandt! A big follow up shot drops him again but Garbrandt retreats and eggs him on, but he’s clearly hurt! Kara-France staying patient and then he lands a stunning combination that ends with a massive uppercut and Garbrandt is out! Kara-France lands a couple of strikes before Herb Dean steps in, but that’s that! What a KO!

Geoff Neal def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Steady start to the fight for Neal with plenty of bouncing on his toes and throwing his jab and some leg kicks, forcing Ponzinibbio backwards. Both guys trade leg kicks and are starting to try and hold their ground in the centre. Neal lands a nice high kick and the referee warns both fighters about having their fingers out. A few short strikes each but not much damage so far. Neal using his jab well and both guys exchange before an accidental low kick from Neal causes a pause. They get back to it and Ponzinibbio lands a huge one-two right on the buzzer to end the round. 10-9 Neal for me.

More active start to the round as Ponzinibbio comes forward with a hard low kick and some straight right hands. Big one-two from Ponzinibbio down the middle to counter Neal’s leg kick and then a short right hand from Neal lands too. Ponzinibbio changes levels and blasts a takedown before Neal sweeps him to get back to his feet nearly immediately. Hard left hand lands from Neal, but Ponzinibbio lands a nice left jab-right hand. Neal lands a hard right hand but then eats a big leg kick in return, before a one-two of his own down the middle into the final minute of the round. Neal lands a big shot and Ponzinibbio claims it was a finger but the referee says no. They stare at each other and then trade a couple of strikes before the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Ponzinibbio lands a right hand before Neal lands a left. More exchanges in the centre and Neal lands a hard right hook that wobbles Ponzinibbio but he recovers quickly and lands a hard low kick. Neal starting to come forward and throws his left hand before a left high kick that just misses. Right hand gets a reaction from Ponzinibbio again, but then he lands a hard low kick to get Neal to back up. Hard left hand from Neal lands but Ponzinibbio replies with a solid right hook himself. Hard low kick and Neal steps backwards, but then he counters another attempt with a right hand. Neal coming on strong with jabs but Ponzinibbio continues to come forward too. Neal lands a big three-punch combo with the left hand and Ponzinibbio is wobbled! Final 30 seconds and Ponzinibbio just misses with a right hand to end the fight. Good fight. 29-28 Neal for me.

Julianna Pena def Amanda Nunes via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 2 (3:26)

Nunes opens up with a hard low kick that drops Pena immediately. Nunes lets her up and kicks the leg again, before Pena tries to throw a small flurry. Nunes throws a right hand that drops Pena and then she eventually drops on top of her looking to control on the ground. Nunes looks to transition to the back for a rear-naked choke but Pena just about defends it, before Nunes gets back to top position. Pena threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Nunes stays patient, defends it and sees the round out on top. 10-9 champ.

Nunes takes the centre and she starts looking for huge strikes early doors but Pena isn’t going anywhere. Pena is landing her jab at will and Nunes is getting hurt! Nunes trying to slug it out but she’s slow and looks exhausted already. Pena keeps coming and is smashing Nunes up! Big strikes from Pena and Nunes is rocked! Pena goes for a takedown and immediately goes to the back and locks up a choke! NUNES TAPS! NUNES TAPS! AND NEWWWW!!!

Charles Oliveira def Dustin Poirier via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 3 (1:02)

Fast paced start to the fight as Oliveira looks to take the centre and land body shots and his jab, but Poirier lands a right hand that knocks Oliveira off balance. Oliveira lands a big strike of his own and backs Poirier up and then he clinches looking for knees. Poirier getting kicked in the body and firing back with big combinations and drops Oliveira again. He lands a huge shot on the ground but Oliveira ties him up and then Poirier stands them up again immediately. Body work from Oliveira again is affecting Poirier and the rounds ends. Wow. 10-9 Poirier.

Huge start to the second round again as the frantic pace starts again and Oliveira immediately goes in for a takedown against the cage. He drags Poirier to the ground but as he tries to escape Oliveira takes the back. Poirier tries to escape but Oliveira holds his arm in place and illegally holds the glove before rolling into full guard. He lands some huge, thudding elbows as Poirier looks to defend off his back. Oliveira absolutely dominant with pressure and elbows but Poirier survives. 19-19.

Oliveira comes out fast once again and shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to a body lock from behind. He drags Poirier down and then jumps on to his back, sinking in hooks and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. Poirier defending the hands but Oliveira continues to switch the grips, sinks in the choke and forces the tap! Amazing!! What a fight!

UFC 269: Oliveira vs Poirier – Main card predictions

The final pay-per-view card of 2021 is finally upon us and it is absolutely stacked, with the lightweight championship bout between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier headlining the card.

‘Du Bronx’ is looking to legitimise his title reign when he takes on ‘Diamond’, who knows it is now or never to become undisputed champion during his career.

The co-main event features women’s G.O.A.T Amanda Nunes as she looks to silence all doubters when she takes on Julianna Pena in a bantamweight title fight.

Also on the main card will see the flyweight debut of Cody Garbrandt, who is looking to prove it’s the perfect weight class for him while Sean O’Malley hopes to kickstart a huge 2022 for himself when he takes on Raulian Paiva.

Last time at UFC Vegas 44 we had a pretty good night with our picks, as we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to move to 491/765 (64.18%) with 207 perfect picks (42.16%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this massive 15-fight card and after starting with the early prelims, and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.


Raulian Paiva (21-3) vs Sean O’Malley (14-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger in the bantamweight division to open the main card. Paiva is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC thanks to victories over Mark De la Rosa, Zhalgas Zhumagulov and most recently Kyler Phillips at UFC Vega 32. O’Malley bounced back from his only career defeat against Marlon Vera after a leg injury to earn back-to-back highlight reel KO’s against Thomas Almeida at UFC 260 and Kris Moutinho at UFC 264.

Paiva is a well-rounded fighter with good striking technique and decent takedowns to earn top control. O’Malley on the other hand is a specialist striker with legitimate one-punch power. He’s also a very skilled jiu-jitsu grappler, it’s just not something he needs to use much because of how good his striking is. ‘Suga’ is excellent and changing angles and mixing up his attacks with kicks and punches and to the head and body.

O’Malley has a big height and reach advantage, has a clear power advantage in the striking battle, is the better grappler of the two and is on an upwards trajectory. Paiva has a chance if he checks kicks and can get top position, but realistically I expect O’Malley to put his lights out after putting on a show yet again.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 2

Kai Kara-France (22-9) vs Cody Garbrandt (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A former champion debuts in a new weight class in this one. Kai Kara-France welcomes Garbrandt to the division on a 2-2 run. He was submitted by Brandon Royval at UFC 253 but bounced back with a KO win over Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 259. Garbrandt has lost four of his last five at bantamweight, with a KO win over Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 sandwiched between two losses to TJ Dillashaw, Pedro Munhoz and most recently Rob Font.

Kara-France is a well skilled all-rounder, with good boxing combinations and power mixed in with decent wrestling and good kicks. He’ll have a reach advantage over Garbrandt, who is a great boxer with tremendous one-punch power and good wrestling too. This is a really even match up because Kara-France’s abilities are similar to that of Font, who beat Garbrandt last time out.

If Garbrandt is to win he needs to use his power strikes and wrestling, much like he tried to do against Font too. He has the speed to match up with Kara-France and the power to end the fight in one shot, but with the reach advantage on ‘Dont Blink’s side he could land first in any exchanges. Ultimately, the big experience factor and power edge leans me towards picking ‘No Love’, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.
PICK – Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 2

Geoff Neal (13-4) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Banger at welterweight up next between two guys who are desperate to get a win and get back up the rankings. Neal has lost his last two, getting taken the distance by Stephen Thompson at UFC Vegas 17 and then Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 26. Ponzinibbio on the other hand returned from a long lay-off to get KO’d by Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7 before earning a big decision win over Miguel Baeza at UFC Vegas 28.

Neal is a solid southpaw striker with genuine knockout power and some good wrestling skills in his back pocket too. Ponzinibbio is a top level boxer with good power, but injuries have taken their toll on his career to date. Neal’s best attacks are his straight left hand and left kick, which will be wide open against the orthodox Ponzinibbio.

Ponzinibbio will need to establish range and use pressure to force longer striking exchanges, where his superior boxing skills and combinations can land and cause damage. Neal is likely to stall the fight in those instances with clinches to stop any momentum, and land that body kick and left hand. I don’t think this one ends early and it’ll be razor close throughout 15 minutes, but with Neal looking gun shy in his last two bouts I think Ponzinibbio will be able to be busier to claim a win.
PICK – Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision



Amanda Nunes (21-4) vs Julianna Pena (11-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The women’s G.O.A.T makes her return to the bantamweight division for the first time in two years. Nunes is on a UFC-high 12-fight win streak, with her last two wins coming at featherweight against Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson at UFC 259. Pena on the other hand has just two wins since 2017, beating Sara McMann at UFC 257 to claim this title shot against her long-time rival.

Nunes is the best ever for a reason. She has abnormal punching power on the feet, is a tremendous boxer with great combinations and has the ability to wrestle and submit opponents with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to her name too. Pena on the other hand is a jiu-jitsu fighter with good wrestling herself and she looks to secure top position and work from there.

This fight is only happening because Nunes needs to defend her belt and Pena just keeps saying her name out loud. ‘Lioness’ has the advantage in every single aspect of this fight and it’s really up to her how she wants to finish this one. I think Nunes blitzes her early to make a statement and claims a vicious KO victory early doors.
PICK – Amanda Nunes via Knockout, Round 1

Charles Oliveira (31-8) vs Dustin Poirier (28-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Without a doubt my favourite fight of the year, and it’s for the lightweight championship of the world. Oliveira is on an amazing nine-fight win streak which includes a dominant win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 before winning the belt by knocking out Michael Chandler at UFC 262. Poirier on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov in his first undisputed title shot back at UFC 242 to defeat Dan Hooker in a war at UFC Vegas 4 before back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor at UFC 257 and UFC 264.

Oliveira is a scarily good all-rounder, with the most submission wins in UFC history to add to some new-found striking credentials that have seen him generate fight-ending power. Poirier is one of the best boxers in the UFC with brilliant cardio, great power in both hands and a good wrestling game too. This is such a good fight, because both fighters excel everywhere but are at their most comfortable in different places.

If Oliveira is to be successful, he needs to make this a grappling match. Much like against Ferguson, he can take the fight down and use his amazing jiu-jitsu to secure a submission win or control for long periods. While the fight is on the feet though, Poirier is the man in the driving seat. His takedown defence is good and his ability to mix up his attacks stand him in good stead, because Oliveira won’t hide from the striking exchanges. Because of that I think Poirier keeps the fight standing for long periods, does damage with his combinations before eventually earning a stoppage at some point in the championship rounds to finally become champion.
PICK – Dustin Poirier via Knockout, Round 4

Cody Garbrandt can prove flyweight is his perfect weight class

It’s been a long time coming, but Cody Garbrandt’s move down to flyweight finally becomes official this weekend at UFC 269.

The former bantamweight champion has been in a slump at 135lbs since losing his belt, losing four of his last fight fights with three of them coming via stoppage.

This weekend though he looks to find a new home at 125lbs when he takes on Kai-Kara France on the main card live on the final pay-per-view event of the year.



This change was supposed to happen in 2020, when Garbrandt was scheduled to face off against Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title at UFC 255.

Injury forced him to withdraw and after a win over Alex Perez, Figueiredo ended up taking on Brandon Moreno the following month and is now embroiled in a trilogy for the belt.

The delay meant that Gabrandt instead opted to remain at bantamweight for a bout with Rob Font, where he was dominated by a jab for five rounds en route to a defeat.

Now with moving down in weight, ‘No Love’ is hoping he can find a home with the smaller guys and make a charge for the belt once again.

Gabrandt’s punching power often saw him considered as one of the scariest bantamweights in the division, but as he engaged with the elites of the weight class we saw him fold on more occasions than he would have ever wanted.

At 5ft 8′ with a 65.5 inch reach, Garbrandt fits in pretty well at 125lbs. By comparison, champion Moreno stands at 5ft 7′ with a 70 inch reach and Figueiredo stands at 5ft 5 with a 68 inch reach. He was always a small bantamweight.

With his brilliant boxing and fearsome power, mixed in with his elite wrestling background, Gabrandt has all the tools to be a real threat at flyweight and be one of the top names in the division.

But to get there, he must first defeat Kara-France at UFC 269 to put himself into the rankings conversation. If he can do that, which he feels he will be able to do with relative ease, then 2022 is set up for ‘No Love’.

Cody Garbrandt reacts to his victory over Dominick Cruz in their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 207 event at T-Mobile Arena on...

He’d enter the rankings at number six at least, and that means he’d likely be no more than two more wins away from a title shot. Considering he was already scheduled for one after snapping a three-fight losing skid at bantamweight though, don’t be surprised to see it come sooner.

He is supremely popular among fans, has a name that sells tickets and has show-closing power to put doubt into even the biggest Garbrandt hater’s mind.

Flyweight is the perfect division for Garbrandt, and UFC 269 is the perfect place to prove that heading into the new year.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Trevin Jones def Mario Bautista via Knockout, Round 2 (0:47)

Tentative start to the card as Bautista and Jones trade leg kicks and feints to feel each other out for the first minute or so of the bout. Bautista pushes forward with a flurry that Jones avoids and the two clinch up, with Jones controlling the underhooks and landing some nice knees to the thigh. Both fighters exchange body kicks, with Bautista landing a bit cleaner. Jones landing lots of leg kicks from the outside, as Bautista responds with some fast hands with a nice hook in particular. Jones lands a left hand and goes for a takedown as the round ends but Bautista fights it off well. 10-9 Bautista but not much in it.

Bautista comes out with some nice combos once again and Jones goes back to the leg kicks. Both exchange strikes and Jones slips a punch then throws a lead uppercut that drops Bautista! He follows up with some big ground and pound and the referee ends it early! Huge knockout win for Jones!

Uros Medic def Aalon Cruz via Knockout, Round 1 (1:40)

Fast start to the fight from Medic as he walks forward and clips Cruz with a big right hand quickly to the temple! Cruz looks for a takedown but Medic brushes him off and lands a big left hand too, then follows it up with a flying knee. Medic lands a barrage of strikes and the fight goes too long before the referee steps in and ends it! What a debut.

Amanda Lemos def Livinha Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (3:39)

Slow start to the bout as Lemos takes the centre of the cage and backs Souza up against the cage, landing jabs and hard leg kicks. Souza looks wary on the feet early on as Lemos lands a straight right hand that drops her! She goes for the ground and pound but Souza tries to grapple to survive and manages to tie her up. She goes for a heel hook but Lemos avoids it and starts landing huge strikes from the ground once again too. Lemos lands a stinging jab that drops Souza again and a few more strikes sees the referee step in and call it a night. What a performance from Lemos.

Sean Brady def Jake Matthews via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (3:28)

Competitive start to the round with both guys standing in range of the other and exchanging small flurries of punches and leg kicks. Matthews using his range advantage well and throwing his jab nicely, but Brady avoiding it well and landing nice leg kicks. Matthews throws a big right hand that drops Brady but Brady doesn’t seem too hurt and manages to recover into top position after Matthews tried to grab the neck. Brady landing nice short shots from the top and trying to control the posture by holding the neck, but Matthews doing well to avoid too much damage in the final minute as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Matthews.

Brady opens up the round a bit more aggressive, taking the centre and being first with the jabs and short hooks. Matthews eventually takes control once again though and uses his length to start throwing some nice strikes. Brady shoots for the takedown and gets it first time and immediately takes the top position. He tries to work to the back but Matthews defends against the cage as Brady starts working for a guillotine. Good defence from Matthews as Brady continues to work the top mount and starts throwing nasty body strikes while wrapping up the neck. Matthews really struggling to do anything from his back as he gives up the position and Brady starts raining down punches as the round ends. Definite Brady round, 19-19 for me.

Matthews takes the centre early in the final round and tries to land a couple of flurries, but Brady trying to slow him down with some chopping leg kicks again. Brady lands a beautiful counter left hook that drops Matthews to one knee, but he stays patient and stays standing. He fakes a takedown but Matthews sprawls and it allows Brady to jump on his neck to threaten a guillotine. He moves to take the back and takes him against the cage to start throwing nice strikes on the ground and dominant once again. Brady continues to work the position and steps over into a head and arm choke to secure the tap out. Brilliant performance.

Kennedy Nzechukwu def Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Fast start from Ulberg as he hurts Nzechukwu! Ulberg on the back foot but threw some front kicks and a combination of strikes wobbles Nzechukwu but he keeps a high guard and survives the beating for now. Nzehukwu continues to walk forward but Ulberg stays patient and lands some nice leg kicks. Nzechukwu starting to come forward and land strikes of his own and a left hand wobbles Ulberg! Ulberg starts throwing some heavy body shots but Nzechukwu keeps coming forward and both men are trading in the centre now! Ulberg is very tired nowbut still landing the heavier shots as the round ends. 10-9 Ulberg. What a round!

A slower start to the round for Ulberg as he starts picking his shots more and landing jabs nicely. Nice on-two from Nzechukwu lands but both men landing heavy on each other. Big body kick from Ulberg followed with a one-two but there’s an accidental thumb in the eye that causes a short break in the action. Ulberg’s volume is higher but the power has diminished greatly from the opening exchanges and Nzechukwu’s cardio is carrying him through this bout right now. Nasty low kicks from Ulberg and a right hand lands then Nzechukwu lands a HUGE right hand!! Oh my god what a knockout!!! Kennedy Nzechukwu!

Tim Elliott def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)

Fast pace to start this fight with Espinosa flicking out jabs and kicks as Elliott walks him down and applies pressure. A clinch against the cage and Elliott lands some nice knees before they break and Espinosa lands a nice left hook before another clinch against the cage. They separate again and Espinosa throws a big head kick that misses by inches and Elliott is able to take him down and get on his back. Espinosa fighting the hands well as Elliott looks for a rear-naked choke but he gets his back to the cage and is able to avert that threat. Elliott controls the position for the rest of the round and should have that in the books. 10-9 Elliot.

Second round starts exactly as the first ended, with Espinosa throwing a head kick that Elliott ducks and gets the takedown but this time Espinosa is able to get back up to his feet quickly. Elliott pushes the pace and lands a second takedown quickly and stays in the half guard grinding away with short strikes. Elliott starting to suffocate Espinosa with pressure and a great wrestling game, riding the back and looking to sink in a rear-naked choke. Espinosa gets away from it but Elliott is smothering him and beating him up bad as he lands elbows and chokes him with his forearm until the round ends. That’s a 10-8 round, so 20-17 Elliott.

Espinosa opens the round with a flying knee but Elliott catches him with ease and takes the fight down to the ground immediately and starts throwing heavy strikes. Espinosa throwing some elbows from the bottom and cuts Elliott open badly, but he continues to be completely smothered by the top game. Elliott throwing heavy shots and some elbows of his own and then Espinosa throws up an armbar attempt that Elliott avoids and he controls from top position for the rest of the round. Great performance from Elliott.

PRELIMS

Kai Kara-France def Rogerio Bontorin via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)

Good start to the round from Bontorin as he comes forward and strikes well, with a few leg kicks and some nice right hands. A right cross wobbles Kara-France and Bontorin goes in for a takedown and dumps him down with ease, then takes the back immediately. Bontorin threatening the rear-naked choke straight away and dominating on the back, flowing perfectly with a body triangle locked in but Kara-France is fighting the hands brilliantly to avoid the submission. He finally shakes Bontorin off and they get back to the feet with 30 seconds remaining. Bontorin looks tired but Kara-France comes forward and lands a three punch combo that puts Bontorin out!! Walk off KO!! Wow!!

Askar Askarov def Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2. 30-26)

Good competitive start to the fight as Askarov throws some nice front kicks from the lead leg, while Benavidez looks to throw looping hooks. Askarov’s kicks doing damage early on to the mid-section, but Benavidez lands a nice one-two. Askarov keeps it coming and lands a big right hook, then a left hand behind it. Askarov eats a right hand from Benavidez then lands another right hand of his own, before he goes in for the takedown. He closes the distance, wins the scrambles and lifts before taking the back and threatening the submission before the round ends. 10-9 Askarov.

Benavidez comes out strong in the second round, looking to swarm him against the cage with his looping hooks but Askarov takes it and returns fire with his own. Askarov wobbles Benavidez with a right hand and goes right back to the takedown attempts, getting a lift and putting the fight on the ground immediately. Askarov dominating the grappling exchanges, landing short strikes on the ground while taking the back and threatening with choke positions too. Benavidez stays on the ground for the remainder of the round until with five seconds to go Askarov cracks him with a huge right hand on the feet. Huge round for Askarov again. 20-18.

Final round and Askarov staying very patient as Benavidez comes forward knowing he needs a finish. Lovely question mark kick lands flush on the chin of Benavidez but he eats it and comes forward again, moving forward with a head kick of his own that just misses. Right hook from Askarov lands and knocks Benavidez off balance but he gets back up quickly. Head kick again from Askarov is partially blocked by Benavidez but still lands enough to wobble him as we enter the final two minutes. Benavidez throws a big superman punch that lands clean but Askarov eats it and replies with a jab into the final minute. Lots of attempts from Benavidez for big strikes but he’s nowhere near Askarov and this should be a comfortable decision win. 30-27.

Kyler Phillips def Song Yadong via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Positive start for Phillips as he comes with a big right hand earlier then a spinning kick that just misses. Yadong eventually takes the centre and starts throwing some straights but Phillips throws a stunning head kick that lands flush but Yadong just eats it. Amazing. Phillips tries another spin but misses again as Yadong lands with a nice uppercut then misses with a spin kick of his own. Phillips landing first with his jabs and right straights so far but Yadong continues to move forward. Phillips changes levels and goes for a takedown but Yadong scrambles back up to his feet immediately and eats a one-two as the round ends with an exchange against the cage. 10-9 Phillips.

Yadong comes out strong in the second round but Phillips being first again. Phillips slowing down a little from the first round but still landing heavy and as they break from a clinch he throws a beautiful spinning back kick again. Song trying to close the distance and landing big hooks but Phillips doing well to be first and stay out of the way. Nice jab from Phillips knocks Yadong off balance on his way in, then after some back and forth on the feet Phillips slides in for a big takedown and gets it beautifully. Yadong scrambles his way back to the feet once again but he’s starting to look desperate. Big right hand lands from Yadong but the round ends with both men fresh. 20-18 Phillips.

Phillips looks calm as they enter the final round, with Yadong knowing he needs the finish. Phillips shoots for a takedown early but Yadong sprawls quickly and gets up to throw heat straight away. Nice flurry to the body ends with a left hook to the chin, but Phillips moves away and keeps his guard high. Both men exchange a straight right and Yadong is starting to close the distance a bit more and land better shots. Another exchange in the pocket that Yadong wins, but Phillips shoots in for a takedown and for the first time is able to keep him down. Phillips looks to take his back but Yadong reverses and ends up on top in the final minute. The round ends with Yadong on top and Phillips looking for a submission in what should be a Phillips decision win. 29-28.

Dominick Cruz def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Cruz starts with an immediate takedown attempt that is sprawled on by Kenney but breaks away from the front headlock position and starts landing some leg kicks. Kenney takes the centre and starts backing Cruz up against the cage with both guys exchanging low kicks. Big left hand lands from Cruz but Casey eats it and keeps walking forward, before Kenney throws another strong leg kick. Very back and forth round, I edge it 10-9 to Cruz.

Strong start to the round from Kenney as he lands a big leg kick that drops Cruz to one knee for a second. Cruz rallies with a nice one-two but Kenney starting to get the timing down a bit more and is landing cleaner shots now. Straight left from Kenney lands before two more leg kicks. Cruz lands a nice right hand to the body followed by a straight right to the face, but Kenney keeps coming forward and throws a body kick. Cruz avoids a right hand and charges forward with several clean shots to the face but Kenney takes them and lands two back of his own. Big right hand from Cruz lands but Kenney responds with another leg kick. Left hand from Kenney lands on the chin and then he grabs the neck for a guillotine attempt but Cruz is safe and the round ends. 19-19 but close yet again.

Cruz shoots in for a takedown early on then abandons it and lands a big left hook up top. Shoots back in for a takedown again against the cage, but Kenney looks to defend with a guillotine attempt although Cruz is on the right side to avoid the threat too much. Cruz takes half guard and starts landing some body shots but Kenney then gets up to his feet with ease and they go back to striking. Left hand from Kenney staggers Cruz who then is able to evade an attack and lands a counter right hand. Kenney lands a couple of big hooks but Cruz responds with three big punches of his own as we enter the final 90 seconds. Cruz denies another takedown attempt from Kenney and lands a big knee to the body, then follows up with a one two. Cruz then shoots for a takedown of his own and gets Kenney down and holds him down against the cage to see out the fight. 29-28 Cruz for me, but a great fight.

MAIN CARD

Aleksandar Rakic def Thiago Santos (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tense opening to the fight as both men throw out feints and feelers but neither committing too much just yet. Santos charges forward with his left hand but Rakic steps back and lands a nice check right hook. A few leg kicks from each guy as Rakic takes the centre, but Santos staying patient on the outside. Big left hand from Santos but it’s blocked well from Rakic and they reset in the middle. Rakic fakes the right hand and Santos throws his left, which he slips and he throws a big head kick but Santos ducks under it. Nice jab from Rakic then a big body kick from Santos lands. 10-9 Rakic but not much action in that one.

Rakic takes the centre immediately as the round starts and lands a nice jab but both men being cautious once again. Rakic faking a level change and Santos threatens with a kick up the middle before trying to close the distance with his left hand but just missing. Rakic clinches up with Santos against the cage and both guys trade knees to the body and thighs. Another action-less round for the most part as we enter the final minute. Santos swings his left hand but misses and Rakic counters with a right hand and the round ends. 20-18 but not the most impressive performance so far.

Santos shoots for a takedown early on in the third round but Rakic is able to hold him off easily and turns the tables to put Santos against the cage. Huge body kick from Santos lands and Rakic tries to grab the leg but it looks like it hurt him a little. They trade leg kicks again before more feinting and missed hooks from both fighters. Rakic goes for a takedown but Santos defends well and starts landing some big elbows to the head. Rakic tries again but it’s defended well and Santos lands some nice knees in the clinch that follows as we enter the final minute. Not much happens in the final minute and it should be a win for Rakic on the scorecards. 30-27 or 29-28.

Islam Makhachev def Drew Dober via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (1:37)

Good start from Dober as he fires in a low kick followed by a jab, before Makhahev shoots for a single leg takedown and gets the fight to the ground immediately. Makhachev in half guard but very heavy on top in a chest to chest position as he goes body head with strikes. Makhachev slides into mount momentarily but Dober gets it back to half guard before he passes into side control. Makhachev tries to slide onto the back of Dober but he manages to move away before Makhachev slides through quickly back into side control. He takes the back and then transitions to an armbar, but runs out of time and Dober survives. 10-9 Makhachev.

Second round once again and Makhachev avoids a big hook before another single leg takedown and trip gets the fight back to the ground. Makhachev is able to tie the legs of Dober up between his own and starts pressuring with his top game again with body strikes. Completely dominant so far from Makhachev in full guard, landing more and more ground and pound with a flush elbow to the face. Round ends with Makhacehv in control, 10-8 round. 20-17.

Dober throws a big left hand that Makhachev slips and then he goes for a bear hug like takedown and gets it. Dober attempts a kimura to defend but Makhachev is able to step over and defend it. As soon as Dober lets go Makhachev slides his shoulder under the chin of Dober and secures the submission out of nowhere! Super impressive performance from Makhachev.

Aljamain Sterling def Petr Yan via Disqualification (Illegal Knee), Round 4 (4:29)

Fast paced start to this fight from Sterling as he moves forward quickly and is right in the face of Yan applying lots of pressure. Constantly touching him and kicking his body and making it really uncomfortable. Body kick attempt from Sterling lands and gets caught by Yan who throws him to the ground. Sterling lands a flying knee and keeps coming forward then gets a takedown himself. Yan is able to get back to the feet then lands a big right hand that drops Sterling! Both fighters keep up the high pace for the rest of the round, super close. 10-9 Sterling but could go either way.

Sterling comes out fast again in the second round and goes for a takedown but Yan is able to defend it well and ends up standing with Sterling on the floor under him. The referee stands them up after some leg kicks from Yan and then Sterling goes in for the takedowns once again, but Yan defends well for the most part. Sterling goes for the takedown against the cage but Yan is defending well as we enter the final minute. Sterling steps away and tries to trip him but it fails and he continues to come forward. Yan ends up behind Sterling and takes him down for the final 15 seconds. 20-18 Sterling for me, but could be 19-19.

Third round and Yan is starting to go for the body a bit more as Sterling starts to slow down. Sterling still touching him with jabs but Yan is taking over now a bit more, landing more shots and seeing everything Sterling is doing. Sterling trying to throw more strikes but he’s considerably tired and the champ is opening up a bit more with some takedowns of his own as well as a few solid right hands. 29-28 either way.

Fourth round and Yan is taking over the fight now. Sterling is shooting in with lazy takedown attempts and Yan is dominating the striking exchanges and landing at will almost. Yan stuffing all the takedown attempts at chopping away at the legs and body of Sterling, controlling the entire pace of the fight. Yan holds Sterling down and throws an illegal knee to the head of Sterling! Oh my goodness. Sterling is out of it right now and the referee calls in the doctor and waves the fight off. Wow. New champion via DQ.

Amanda Nunes def Megan Anderson via Submission, Round 1 (2:03)

Anderson takes the centre of the cage and Nunes takes her time to step forward.. big overhand right lands from Nunes and rocks Anderson immediately. She steps forward and lands two more that drop Anderson. She lands some ground and pound then switches to an armbar and triangle at the same time to force the submission. The best ever.

Jan Blachowicz def Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (49-45 x2, 49-46)

Composed start to the fight from both fighters as Adesanya looks to get his range with feints while Blachowicz takes his time coming forward. Adesanya throws a few head kicks that are blocked by Blachowicz, who throws a few leg kicks that land and some right hands that miss. A few more leg kicks from each fighter as the fight continues at a relatively slow pace. Adesanya lands a nice body kick but is forced backwards as Blachowicz comes forward with a left straight. Round comes to an end without much action but probably an Adesanya round for pressing the action.

Adesanya comes out with a bit more speed in this round and flicks out his leg kicks well, but Blachowicz starts checking them. Blachowicz fires back with a nice one-two that lands on Adesanya but doesn’t connect quite flush. Adesanya chopping away at the leg of Blachowicz who lands a nice jab to the body and closest the distance and tries to clinch, but Adesanya escapes quickly. Adesanya lands an inadvertant low blow that causes a very short break in the action before a second low blow moments later is also accidental and causes a break. Blachowicz comes forward with a flurry into a clinch pop Adesanya gets out and keeps landing jabs and low kicks. 20-18 Adesanya but not a lot of big moments so far.

Blachowicz comes out harder in the third round and starts blasting some punches that land, then shoots in for a takedown and gets it. He tries to take Adesanya’s back but Izzy slips away and counters with a big left hand that rocks Blachowicz! Adesanya lands a few jabs but stays relatively calm before Blachowicz clinches up with him again against the cage but Adesanya once again pulls away. Both fighters exchange jabs and then Blachowicz lands a nice stiff right straight. Adesanya goes for a body kick that gets caught but nothing comes from it and the round ends. 30-27 Izzy, but could be 29-28.

Fourth round and Adesanya is opening up a bit more now. Some nice jabs and leg kicks land as Blachowicz is still looking for the big hooks and straights. More of the same as the round progresses before Blachowicz shoots for a takedown and gets it. From there on, he controls from half guard and side control and drops big ground and pound strikes and just wears on Adesanya. Jan’s round without a doubt. 39-37 Izzy for me but could be 38-38.

Final round and Blachowicz is breathing very heavily, so Adesanya comes forward with a bit more pace. Lots of jabs and he tries to follow it up with a straight right hand but Blachowicz avoids. Not much urgency from either fighter just yet and Blachowicz blasts a takedown half way through the round. Blachowicz starts hammering away with ground and pound and moves into half guard. He continues to control the round and then moves into mount as it comes to an end to reign down punches. 3-2 either way.. good fight.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Prelims predictions

The biggest and best card of 2021 is finally upon as as a title fight triple header takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Petr Yan will defend his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling in potentially the best 135lbs title fight ever, before Amanda Nunes returns to the octagon to fight Megan Anderson in a featherweight title fight. The card will be headlined by Israel Adesanya trying to become just the fifth dual-weight simultaneous champion in the companies history as he moves up to light heavyweight to take on Jan Blachowicz.

Elsewhere on the card, Islam Makhachev returns to the octagon to take on Drew Dober while bantamweight great Dominick Cruz headlines the prelims against Casey Kenney in a do-or-die fight for his career on a blockbuster 15 fight card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 20 we had a poor night for predictions going 4/9 on the night, although it was worsened by a majority draw and a dodgy decision too. It moved us to 240/380 (63.16%) with 108 perfect picks (45%) since starting our predictions.

We’ll look to move ahead with a big week this week on a stacked card, breaking the card down into three this week. We’ve already looked at the early prelims here, so move onto the rest of the prelims now.


Rogerio Bontorin (16-2) vs Kai Kara-France (21-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A really enticing flyweight bout here between two guys looking to climb the rankings in the UFC. Bontorin lost his only fight in 2020 via decision to Ray Borg, while Kara-France has lost two of his last three to Brandon Moreno and most recently Brandon Royval at UFC 253 with a win over Tyson Nam sandwiched between them.

Bontorin is a fighter who loves to fight wherever the bout goes. He’s a tireless striker and relentless with pressure but probably prefers the fight on the ground where he can fish for submissions as his 11 wins via tap-out show. Kara-France himself is a great striker with good striking defence but also excellent wrestling defence. It’s a traditional grappler vs striker bout, but with both guys willing to enter the other’s world if needs be. Both can hold their own in the other’s strengths and it makes it a competitive bout. Kara-France’s volume is good and defensively he is better, but Bontorin could potentially get the takedown early and throw this all out of the water but I think he gets it done.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Decision

Joseph Benavidez (28-7) vs Askar Askarov (12-0-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A really super fight in the 125lbs division as Joseph Benavidez returns to the octagon for the first time since being choked unconscious by Deiveson Figueiredo in a title fight on Fight Island, while Askar Askarov looks to remain unbeaten after beating Alexandre Pantoja on the same card.

Benavidez is a sensational fighter and arguably one of the best to never win UFC gold and is coming off consecutive losses for the first time in his illustrious career. Askarov on the other hand is 2-0-1 in the UFC, drawing his debut against Brandon Moreno before defeating Tim Elliot and Pantoja. Benavidez is a tremendous striker with great speed and combinations, with a great ground game and also great defence while Askarov is a great power striker with super technique.

The real question in this fight is whether getting separated from consciousness by Figueiredo twice in five months has a lasting effect on him. I think he’s too experienced to let it and Benavidez’s hand speed should cause him problems but it’s a super close fight.
PICK – Joseph Benavidez via Decision

Song Yadong (16-4-1) vs Kyler Phillips (8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight as the ever-impressive Yadong returns to the octagon to take on ‘Matrix’ on a three-fight win streak. Yadong beat Marlon Vera back in May last year, while Phillips got two wins in 2020 against Gabriel Silva and Cameron Else.

Yadong is a brilliant boxer and at 23 looks as obvious a prospect as you’ll ever see, but he showed in his last two fights that he still has plenty to work on in his game. Phillips is a power striker himself, who’s not quite as technical but is arguably just as solid when it comes to a knockout finish. His gas tank has given him issues in the past and Phillips will look to use his wrestling skills if they become prevalent once again, but I believe Yadong will address those issues in this fight and be able to strike his way to a win.
PICK – Song Yadong via Decision

Dominick Cruz (22-3) vs Casey Kenney (16-2-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The featured prelim bout is a bantamweight banger too as the legendary Dominick Cruz returns to the octagon to take on the impressive prospect in Casey Kenney. Cruz’s last fight was a defeat to Henry Cejudo at UFC 249, with the referee’s decision to stop it still criticised to this day. On the other hand, Kenney went 3-1 in 2020 following up a defeat to Merab Dvalishvili with wins over Louis Smolka, Heili Alateng and then Nathaniel Wood at UFC 254.

Cruz is one of the best ever, with incredible footwork and excellent striking to go with his world class wrestling base. Kenney is a super grappler with a good striking toolbox too, but his gas tank issues have been a big deal in recent bouts. He was visibly tiring in his win over Wood, but that’s a completely different level of fighter compared to what we know Cruz to be. Kenney will march forward and put pressure on Cruz, but ‘The Dominator’ is phenomenal at evading big strikes for the most part and I think he will be able to use that experience to get a win – but it’s entirely dependable on which Cruz turns up.
PICK – Dominick Cruz via Decision

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Danilo Marques def Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Both men step out in tentative fashion and throw feints before Marques shoots in for an immediate takedown attempt. Ibragimov defends against the cage and grabs the fence on his way down and ends up back on his feet quickly, but the referee gives a warning. Another takedown attempt and once again Ibragimov grabs the cage to avoid ending up on the bottom. They get back to the feet and nothing else happens. 10-9 Marques.

Same again in the second round as they face off in the middle with barely any action taking place. Marques goes for a takedown and ends up on the back of Ibragimov but he fights the hands well to avoid a rear naked choke. Marques gets him down and has hooks in but doesn’t look to land any strikes or advance and the buzzer goes. Really weird fight so far. 20-18 Marques.

Final round and both men look exhausted and afraid to throw any strikes whatsoever. Marques goes for the takedown again but doesn’t throw strikes once he gets it, while Ibragimov throws a random burst of hooks every now and then but gets nowhere near landing anything. Really, really bad fight. 29-28 Marques but I’m glad it’s over.

Juan Espino def Jeff Hughes via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 1 (3:48)

Fight starts with a bit more bounce than the opener, with Espino bouncing around the outside looking for an opportunity for his takedown. He throws a big overhand right that lands nicely and then engages in a takedown attempt. He eventually gets it and the two bounce between Hughes getting back up and Espino dragging him back down. Eventually Espino ends up in side control, then transitions to full mount and he jumps over with a scarf-hold super quickly, cranks hard and secures the tap. Beautiful performance from the Spaniard.

PRELIMS

William Knight def Aleksa Camur via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

A good first round for Camur here, as Knight opens the round with a takedown attempt that gets stuffed and the rest of the round plays out in a clinch position. Camur hanging with the physicality of Knight well against the cage and landing short knees to the thighs and body but nothing too damaging. The referee separates them with 30 seconds to go and they land some nice strikes, with Knight landing two or three big shots right as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Camur for me.

Second round begins with Camur landing some nice punches and initiating the clinch against the cage once again. A few more knees and then a lovely trip gets Knight down to the ground and he looks to take the back but Knight rolls through and ends up on top after a scramble. Camur gets back up but Knight takes him down a few more times and tries to frame off for ground and pound, but Camur defends well. Knight transitions to the back and lands some nice shots and then gets into full mount and rips a nasty kimura but the buzzer goes before Camur has to tap! 19-19 going into the final round.

Third round starts and again it goes to a clinch almost immediately but this time Knight is on top. Another short scramble sees them back to the feet and in a clinch against the cage and the referee warns them to start fighting or he’ll reset. Immediately Knight goes for another takedown and the rest of the round sees him on top controlling and landing ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Knight for me.

Ludovit Klein def Shane Young via Knockout, Round 1 (1:16)

THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE! The fight starts with some body kicks from Klein, then he follows it up with a right hand and big left high-kick that wobbles Young! He lands a beautiful three-punch combo immediately afterwards that knocks Young unconscious and this one is over! Wow. What a debut!

Jake Matthews def Diego Sanchez via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)

Sanchez opens the round by rushing across the cage and getting lamped twice by the right hand of Matthews, who then catches a kick and lands a couple more shots. Matthews staying on the outside and landing at will almost with a straight right hand, while Sanchez is throwing heavily landed leg kicks that are being easily avoided. Sanchez continuing to try and rush in with hooks but Matthews is countering well with his right hand. Sanchez shoots for a takedown but Matthews sprawls and then shoots for one of his own and ends the round in top position. 10-9 Matthews.

Second round and Sanchez lands a couple of nice leg kicks but Matthews staying very patient. The straight right hand is still landing pretty much at will and Sanchez now has a bloody nose to contend with too. Sanchez loading up with all his strikes way too much and Matthews dealing with them all relatively easily. Big, wild exchange against the cage as Matthews lands a nice combination then evades Sanchez’s big hooks. Inside leg kick by Sanchez is countered by a beautiful left hook from Matthews that wobbles the veteran and Matthews pouring on the pressure now. Again Sanchez rushes in and Matthews lands a right hand to counter it. 20-18 Matthews, he’s making easy work of this.

Final round and Sanchez rushes across with a crane kick attempt that misses wildly. Matthews lands a big straight right hand that drops Sanchez. He scoots back to the cage and covers up as Matthews lands bombs on the ground and cuts Sanchez open above the eye really badly. Sanchez trying to control posture from the bottom to avoid damage but Matthews throwing big bombs down. Sanchez defends and throws up an armbar but Matthews defends well and gets back into full guard to throw more hard shots on the ground to finish the round strong. 10-8 round, 30-26 for me.

Brad Riddell def Alex Da Silva via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very competitive first round as Da Silva lands an early takedown and manages to keep the fight on the ground for the most part. Riddell defends well and tries to get back to his feet, but Da Silva seems too strong physically at this point and is able to drag him back down. Riddell get back up and breaks away then Da Silva manages to catch the neck in a clinch and goes for a guillotine but he never really gets it in and the round ends. 10-9 Da Silva.

Riddell comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands some nice strikes but then once again Da Silva gets hold of him and takes him to the cage with a single leg. Riddell defends superbly well and manages to stay up and then lands some nice shots on the feet. Da Silva looks for another takedown but doesn’t get it and eats a straight right hand. Riddell drops down for a takedown of his own but lets it go and lands a nice right hand. Riddell has the clear advantage on the feet and Da Silva is starting to slow down a bit, so Riddell shoots for a takedown of his own but Da Silva gets back up almost immediately. Da Silva fires in for a takedown again but Riddell sprawls perfectly and keeps the fight on the feet for the final 20 seconds of the round. Much better round for Riddell, 19-19.

Third round and Riddell is landing some nice strikes to start as Da Silva comes out a little slower than the previous two rounds. Riddell sprawls to stuff a takedown once again to keep the fight on the feet and he’s landing his right hook well. Da Silva moves in for a takedown against the cage and is looking to clinch but Riddell separates and goes back to striking in the pocket. The referee pauses the fight after an apparent eye-poke by Riddell but the replays show it was a clean punch. Fight restarts and Da Silva goes for a takedown again but Riddell defends well and scrambles back to his feet. More punches to that damaged eye with a minute to go but Da Silva is fighting through it. Riddell goes for a takedown against the cage but it’s stuffed and the fight ends. Should be a Riddell decision win 29-28.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu def Zubaira Tukhugov via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

Tentative round to open the main card as both guys try to feel each other out for the most part. Lots of feints, jabs and leg kicks to start with but Tukhugov landing a bit more often and a bit cleaner. Tukhugov more aggressive, advancing more and being first but neither fighter lands anything of much significance in the opening round. 10-9 Tukhugov.

Dawodu comes out in the second round and lands a nice body kick followed up by a spinning heel kick to the body too. Tukhugov is avoiding the leg kicks well but Dawodu lands a nice right hook to the chin. Both men starting to throw a little bit more freely in this round as Tukhugov lands a big left hand that is returned with a right hand from Dawodu. Right hook by Tukhugov lands but Dawodu counters with a left kick. Both men landing shots simultaneously ad Tukhugov shoots for a takedown but Dawodu defends well against the cage. Dawodu lands a nice body shot but Tukhugov shoots for a takedown and gets it and ends up on the back of Dawodu landing some light ground and pound to end the round. The takedown may have stolen the round for Tukhugov but could easily be level going into round 3.

Dawodu comes out in the final round and goes straight for some leg kicks. Tukhugov moving well but Dawodu lands more leg kicks and body shots. Tukhugov not really engaging at all and instead just circling around the cage, but Dawodu just following him instead. Dawodu erupts in anger screaming at Tukhugov to fight him but he continues to just circle. Round ends with nothing happening. 29-28 Tukhugov for me but it all comes down to the second round for me.

Ketlen Vieira def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A tentative opening round between the two ladies of the card. Vieira comes out immediately looking to clinch but Eubanks defends well and manages to break. Both women landing singular shots, with Vieira using her reach advantage well and landing the jab frequently. Eubanks employing the ‘punches in bunches’ style and doing well, before she stuffs another takedown attempt from Vieira. The Brazilian lands a beautiful combo of punches before shooting for a takedown and securing it at the end of the round. 10-9 Vieira.

Vieira comes out in the second ground aggressive once again and gets another takedown. Up against the cage and Vieira is looking for ground and pound strikes but Eubanks doing well to tie her up and control her arms to not allow her to throw any strikes. The referee stands them back up and they stand toe-to-toe in a striking match now, with Vieira using her long limbs to land first and hard as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Vieira.

Final round and Eubanks knows she needs the finish. She comes out throwing combinations but Vieira is using her length really well to land first or counter when Eubanks hits her. More punches from both women land as they exchange wildly but Vieira making sure she avoids any serious damage. The women end up on the ground in the final seconds as Vieira looks for a leg lock submission but the buzzer goes with Eubanks landing some ground and pound. 29-28 Vieira for me.

Brandon Royval def Kai Kara France via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (0:38)

Brandon Royval comes flying out of the traps and eats a leg kick from Kara France that sits him down. He gets back up and walks towards Kara France and eats a huge right overhand on the chin that drops him! He stands back and throws a spinning elbow that catches Kara-France flush and knocks him down! He tries to lock up an omoplata submission but Kara France comes back around and manages to fight his way out of it. They get back to their feet and start throwing hell for leather. Royval lands a knee against the cage that drops Kara France again but he survives the round. What a fight! 10-9 Royval.

Second round starts and Kara France goes in for a takedown and lifts Royval, but he locks up the neck and sinks in a standing guillotine! Kara France drops down to the mat, Royval makes an adjustment with his legs to tighten it and gets the tap! What a performance!

Jan Blachowicz def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:36)

A very cagey opening round for this fight as both men look to feel each other out early on. Both men throwing leg kicks and counter straights but nothing significant landing early. Blachowicz lands a beautiful body kick below the elbow that visibly marks Reyes up but other than that a pretty slow round. 10-9 Blachowicz.

A slow start once again to this second round as both guys are feeling each other out still, making reads and feinting. Reyes lands a body kick nicely but Blachowicz returns with one of his own. Blachowicz charges forward with big combos and shatters the nose of Reyes! Reyes tries to slug it out looking for a knockout but Blachowicz lands another big left hand that drops him! The Pole jumps on top and lands some ground and pound before the referee steps in. New champion!

Israel Adesanya def Paulo Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (3:59)

Cagey start to this title fight too as Adesanya attacks the legs of Costa early with teep kicks and calf kicks. Costa taking the centre but Adesanya staying light on his feet and evading Costa’s kick attempts. Both fighters taunting each other but it’s Adesanya doing damage. 10-9 to the champ.

Second round shows more of Adesanya’s kickboxing class as he stays at range and continues to chew up the leg of Costa. Costa is struggling with his movement and Adesanya is starting to land punches to the head. Big head kick from Adesanya cuts Costa open above the eye. Costa charges forward now looking to be aggressive, but Adesanya evades and lands a big right hand to the temple that drops Costa! Adesanya goes knee on belly and lands huge shots to the head and the referee steps in! AAAAND STILL!! What a masterclass.

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Main Card Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I have already predicted the prelims of this card here and will look to try and improve my total this time around.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A real toss-up of a fight to open the main card as these two up and coming featherweights face off. Dawodu is currently on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Austin Arnett, Kyle Bochniak, Yoshinori Hori and Julio Arce while Tukhugov has a win, a loss and a draw in his last three bouts. Both fighters are pretty well rounded all-in-all and could go either way. Dawodu has a power advantage on the feet but Tukhugov has a ground advantage, although Dawodu has excellent takedown defence to combat that. With just half an inch reach between the two also, there really is barely anything between the two fighters. If I had to pick, I’d side with Tukhugov simply because if he can get the fight to the ground then he should be able to control the fight from there but this could genuinely go either way.
PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Unanimous Decision

Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Another razor close match up here, this time in the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira makes her first appearance since December last year where she was beaten by Irene Aldana, while Sijara Eubanks makes a quick turnaround following her win over Julia Avila just two weeks ago. Vieira is a rangy striker who uses her striking to land takedowns and top control, where she can work for submissions, while Eubanks is a kickboxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Vieira has a natural size advantage and has great takedowns, something that Eubanks could struggle with considering the way she won her last bout but as a black belt she will feel that she is capable of hanging with her opponent. The fight essentially comes down to who lands heavier on the feet and who ends up on top on the ground. With a wave of momentum on her side, I’ll go with Sijara Eubanks but her fights are notoriously hard to pick.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision

Kai Kara-France (21-8 1NC) vs Brandon Royval (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between two very exciting prospects in the division as Kai Kara-France makes his first appearance since February’s win over Tyson Nam when he takes on Brandon Royval. Royval won his UFC debut on short-notice against Tim Elliot back in May when he ragdolled the veteran and ended up submitting him. This is a fight between two very good fighters who are looking to work their way up the rankings. Kara-France is the better striker of the two marginally and has the better wrestling, while Royval’s jiu-jitsu is mightily impressive. The issue for Royval is that because of the wrestling edge Kara-France has, the best chance he has of getting this to the ground to work his submissions is via a knockdown. That’s unlikely in my eyes so I think Kara-France is able to out-strike his opponent on the feet to a fairly comfortable but entertaining decision win.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (26-8) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The new era in the light heavyweight division begins with this fight, as a new champion will be crowned. Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon for the first time since his controversial defeat to Jon Jones back in February while Blachowicz comes in on a three-fight win streak following wins over Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson. Reyes is a powerful southpaw fighter, who’s boxing caused so many problems for Jon Jones in his last fight. He has amazing power but also tremendous footwork to evade attacks, plus a fierce body kick. His takedown defence was on show in that fight too as Jones went 2/9 on takedown attempts. Blachowicz is a more aggressive wrestler than Jones, although I wouldn’t say he’s better. He’s got scary power in his hands too but he tends to prefer securing takedowns and using his jiu-jitsu game. If he employs those tactics again, Reyes will look to use that same defence that he used against Jones and if he lands as much this time around as he did in his last fight he will surely land the knockout in this one.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 3

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The fight of the year. The middleweight title crown is up for grabs but also both men put their undefeated records on the line in this one. Adesanya is 19-0 having beaten Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in his last three bouts while Costa beat Romero, Uriah Hall and Johnny Hendricks in his last three. There will be no grappling in this bout, that much is almost guaranteed. Adesanya is a former world kickboxing champion while Costa is one of the most powerful punchers in the entire company. Costa has a tendency to tuck his chin in and just storm forward, happy to eat punches in order to give some back. He loves to rip to the body in combinations before throwing hooks to the head, something Adesanya will look to avoid by not getting stuck up against the cage. Adesanya will look to use his feet to maintain some distance but he will use his speed advantage to land strikes in the inevitable wild exchanges that Costa will look to force. Interestingly enough, despite both of these men being fierce knockout artists I don’t think this fight ends in a knockout. We’ve seen that both of these guys are ready for war and do possess a chin to go with their striking and I think that while there will be some wobbly moments for both guys, Adesanya’s movement and fight IQ will see him come out on top on the judges scorecards.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision