We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Karol Rosa (15-4) vs Lina Lansberg (10-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A women’s bantamweight scrap between two ranked girls opens the card in Abu Dhabi. Rosa saw a six-fight win streak snapped last time out when she was beaten by Sara McMann back in March, while Lansberg has lost her last two to McMann and then Pannie Kianzad most recently back in April.
Rosa is a volume heavy striker, who uses her length and expert kickboxing abilities to outstrike her opponents while her takedown defence is more than decent. She’ll need it when she takes on Lansberg, who is a wrestle-heavy fighter with limited skills on the feet and not the greatest cardio in the world.
Lansberg will know that outwrestling Rosa is her best route to victory, but she’s nowhere near as good at wrestling as McMann was last time out and with little way of slowing the fight down she’s in trouble here. Rosa has the cardio and volume on the feet to land plenty over 15 minutes and so long as she avoids being held down on the mat for long periods of time, she should earn a pretty convincing decision win. PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision
Muhammad Mokaev (8-0) vs Malcolm Gordon (14-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very exciting flyweight bout up next between one of Britain’s hottest prospects in the flyweight division and the veteran Gordon. Mokaev is 8-0 professionally, dominating his opponents in his first two UFC bouts to submit Cody Durden in 58 seconds before a big decision win over Charles Johnson at UFC London. Gordon has also won his last two in the UFC, earning a decision over Francisco Figueiredo in July 2021 before Denys Bondar was forced to verbally submit last time out due to an arm injury.
Mokaev is a decent striker on the feet, but it’s his wrestling and ground game where he really excels and he’ll look to do that once again here. Gordon on the other hand has got some really powerful hands, but he’s also a slick grappler on the mat too as his six submission wins show. Mokaev will no doubt look to take this to the mat, and will have to watch for quick transitions or any loose limbs being taken.
But despite an 8-0 professional record, Mokaev has an extensive unbeaten amateur record too so is far more experienced than he seems. He will be focused on controlling from top position with his wrestling and staying safe, but will be keen for a finish after what was an underwhelming win last time out. Expect him to start fast and go for the finish before settling for a dominant decision win. PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Decision
Armen Petrosyan (7-2) vs AJ Dobson (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Middleweight fighters step up next as two prospects go toe-to-toe. Petrosyan was on a three-fight win streak before clashing with Caio Borralho back in July and being pipped on the scorecards, while Dobson lost his UFC debut to Jacob Malkoun back at UFC 271 in his last outing.
“Superman” is a striker by nature, with a heavy kicking attack and good pressure which has helped him earn six knockouts from his seven career dates to date. Dobson on the other hand is a powerhouse with great striking and a good wrestling pedigree too, with five of his six wins coming via stoppage. Both guys are early on in their careers, but the level of progression from both has been interesting.
Dobson’s improvement from the Contender Series to his debut was huge, despite the result, and he has the skillset to cause Petrosyan a lot of problems. His pressure and size should see him able to back Petrosyan against the cage, where he can mix in his striking and wrestling well to earn a hard-fought decision win. PICK – AJ Dobson via Decision
Abubakar Nurmagomedov (16-3-1) vs Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A welterweight clash between two Russian studs up next. Nurmagomedov has gone 1-1-1 in his last three, losing his UFC debut in 2019 by submission to David Zawada before returning in March 2021 to earn a unanimous decision win over Jared Gooden. Omargadzhiev on the other hand was unbeaten heading into his UFC debut back in April, before dropping a technical decision to Caio Borralho.
Nurmagomedov is a really well-rounded fighter, but his surname tells you where he excels most – wrestling. He also has some really sharp counter-striking on the feet making him a nightmare for fighters looking to take the fight to him, but his cardio has let him down in the past. Omargadzhiev is moving down in weight from last time, which should help considering he struggled physically last time out. But he has a problem with his output and Nurmagomedov is likely to punish him because of it.
I expect that Khabib’s cousin will use his jabs and counters to land damage, and mix in his excellent wrestling skills to put a hurting on Omargadzhiev and claim a big win. PICK – Abubakar Nurmagomedov via Decision
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.
Aliaskhab Khizriev (13-0) vs Denis Tiuliulin (10-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Two big debutants go head to head in the middleweight division up next. Khizriev is an undefeated 13-0 fighter, with victories split fairly evenly at 5-4-4 between knockouts, submissions and decisions. Tiuliulin has won four of his last five fights, including a first-round TKO last time out over a year ago.
This will be Khizriev’s second fight in just four years due to fights falling out and the COVID pandemic, but his talent is undeniable. He is a solid striker on the feet with good boxing skills, but he also has tremendous submission skills and is a brilliant wrestler. Tiuliulin is an explosive striker with very little ground game and after taking this fight on just three weeks’ notice, he better hope that Khizriev is rusty.
I just don’t see that he will be though, despite his lack of action recently. Khizriev will drag him to the mat very early on and while Tiuliulin flops around on the mat like a fish out of water, Khizriev will be deciding whether he looks for a choke or to just land violent elbows from the top. My guess is he wraps up a neck and gets the tap early on for a comfortable win. PICK – Aliaskhab Khizriev via Submission, Round 1
Chris Gutierrez (17-3-2) vs Batgerel Danaa (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Exciting bantamweights go toe-to-toe up next in this one. Gutierrez is undefeated in his last six fights, with a draw against Cody Durden stopping it being flawless. He’s earned decisions against Andre Ewell (UFC 258) and Felipe Colares (UFC Vegas 39) in his last two fights. Danaa has won his last three in a row, earning first-round KO’s against Guido Cannetti (UFC 248), Kevin Natividad (UFC 261) and Brandon Davis (UFC Vegas 40).
Gutierrez and Danaa are both strong strikers with good power, volume and accuracy and both will be coming up for the toughest test of their careers so far against each other. Gutierrez is a sharp boxer with good technique, while Danaa is just pure power who tries to back his opponents up to the cage and tee off until the get chopped down. Gutierrez mixes in kicks a little bit more to his attacks, especially chopping at the lead leg and that could be the difference here.
Danaa will come forward without a doubt but Gutierrez will look to chop away at the leg and body from range with his legs and then punish him on the feet with crisp technique if he gets past that barrier of defence. Danaa has good wrestling, but he tends to ignore it, and that should allow Gutierrez to do enough damage to accumulate for a nice finish midway through. PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Knockout, Round 2
Sara McMann (12-6) vs Karol Rosa (15-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An intriguing bantamweight bout between two talented women up next. McMann has lost three of her last four, with the most recent coming against Julianna Pena at UFC 257, while Rosa is on a six-fight win streak and a decision over Bethe Correia at UFC Vegas 38 in her most recent bout.
McMann is a 41-year-old freestyle wrestler who is way past her prime years right now and doesn’t really have any place being on the roster right now. Rosa on the other hand has gone from strength to strength in her UFC appearances, with her straight striking doing damage and some decent grappling in her own right. McMann’s game plan is obvious and the same in every fight. She will wrestle and look for top position then try to hold them down and advance for head-and-arm chokes. Rosa has an over 90% takedown defence though, and is capable of holding her own on the ground if she needs to also.
Rosa is a heavy favourite in this fight for a reason and I’d be absolutely stunned if she lost this. Her striking volume is excellent, she mixes in kicks, knees and punches really well, is more active and just overall better. Expect Rosa to run her over over 15 minutes. PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision
Neil Magny (25-9) vs Max Griffin (18-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big welterweight bout is the featured prelim fight of the night. Magny bounced back from a suffocating defeat to Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Island 8 by earning a dominant win against Geoff Neal at UFC Vegas 26, while Griffin is on a three-fight win streak including a decision win over Carlos Condit most recently at UFC 264.
Magny is a great wrestler, who uses his length and range to keep fighters against the cage and then tries to take them down and control them on the ground. He’s got a good point style for his striking too, but he’s not really elite in any field. Griffin on the other hand is a decent boxer with good power in his hands, but he’s also a primary wrestler and I don’t see him as being better at that than Magny. Griffin is very explosive with his striking, but this seems like a tough bout for him.
Magny is good at fighting on the back foot and throwing lots of volume, but that leaves the door open for Griffin to land power shots. His best bet will be to break up the rhythm with clinches and takedown attempts, while landing good strikes from range to claim a relatively comfortable decision win. PICK – Neil Magny via Decision
Interesting start to the bout as Perez comes out with a weird, bouncing stance and Eduardo lights him up with three heavy low kicks early on. Perez stops the bouncing and lands a few jabs but Eduardo responding with leg kicks again but not much volume from either guy so far. Eduardo lands a nice combination to the body and then head, but Perez responds with a heavy left hook that immediately gets the attention of Eduardo. Almost a pedestrian pace to the fight currently, with Eduardo landing another very heavy leg kick. Perez fires a right straight that grazes the chin, but Eduardo controlling the range and pace and despite the lack of action he’s ahead in the round for me. Eduardo lands a nice right hook to the chin as we enter the final 30 seconds of the round and that’s that. 10-9 Eduardo.
Eduardo opens up the round with two more very heavy leg kicks inside the first ten seconds. Perez goes for a blitz but misses and then eats a spinning heel kick to the body. Perez goes to charge with a blitz again but Eduardo does well to avoid for the most part, clinch and secure a takedown and top position. Perez ties Eduardo up well initially before bouncing back to his feet quickly. Perez lands two big right hands and steps up the aggression to land a few more strikes himself. Eduardo throws a big left hand that lands too, before Perez shoots in for a takedown and ends up on top himself. Two big strikes from the top by Perez and as Eduardo looks to get up Perez grabs for his neck but Eduardo rolls to his back. Perez scrambles for the back and ends up in side control. He has a side headlock and takes Eduardo’s arm, slides it between his legs and secures an armbar! Eduardo can’t deal with the pressure and taps!! Big win for Perez!
Stephanie Egger def Shanna Young via Knockout, Round 2 (2:22)
Egger comes out and takes the centre early on, throwing some nice straight right hands to keep the range and pose a threat. Young goes with a blitz and puts a blind kick behind it which Egger catches, and she tries for a trip but Young defends it well. Egger lands a nice one-two but it seems to wake Young up a bit and she starts applying more forward pressure. Few strikes land and then Young goes to clinch but Egger throws her down immediately and is almost in full mount. Young defends it with a leg lock attempt and after defending it well Egger is able to stack her and start landing some big ground and pound strikes from standing and side control. Egger landing big elbows from the top but Young survives the round. 10-9 Egger.
Another good start to the round for Egger as she takes the centre and throws some big right hands again. Young starts to come forward and lands a few good strikes in a blitz but Egger grabs hold of her and immediately hip tosses Young to the ground. Big elbows and ground and pound from Egger and Young is hurt. Egger stands and the referee stops the fight!? Bit of a weird stoppage there. Great performance from Egger though.
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Gaetano Pirrello via Knockout, Round 1 (2:04)
Pirrello hanging on the outside and throws a couple of hard leg kicks early on with Andrade taking the centre and just feinting a lot. Andrade steps forward and lands a big right hand and follows it up with a couple more shots before they clinch up and separate. Andrade lands a left hand and then a jab to the body, while Pirrello looks for his range. Pirrello goes for a head kick but Andrade counters with a check left hook and puts Pirrello OUT!!! A few hammer fists before the referee gets there but what a KO that is!
Jamie Mullarkey def Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2 (2:51)
Nice even start to the fight for both guys as they trade feints and short jabs, with Mullarkey mixing in a low kick. Smith lands a clean one-two down the pipe and follows up with a couple of attempts but Mullarkey smiles at him. Mullarkey throws another hard leg kick but Smith fires back with two nice left hooks and then a huge right hand again that rocks him! He goes for a combination and jus misses with a big knee up the middle too. Nice jab from Smith and a big one-two behind it again before a big knee lands from Smith and rocks Mullarkey! Smith lands a head kick partially but Mullarkey is still in front of him and throwing those low kicks, then just misses with a big one-two. Smith’s speed a clear advantage as he lands a few more strikes but Mullarkey smothers him and gets a takedown late on in the round, lands some ground and pound before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Smith.
Strong start to the round again from Mullarkey as he steps forward early and takes the centre. Heavy low kick from Mullarkey again and it gets a big reaction from Smith who looks hurt from it. Mullarkey throws another as Smith gets on his bike and starts moving away. Mullarkey pushing the pace like a mad man and clinches up with some big knees to the body. Mullarkey keeps throwing knees and then rips two big hooks to the body that makes Smith cover up. An uppercut and hook to the head then back to the body and Smith drops! Mullarkey hits some strikes on the ground and the referee stops it! Huge win for Mullarkey! Impressive performance!
Karol Rosa def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Rosa makes a dominant start to this bout as she takes the centre, slips a jab and lands a right hand. Rosa gets a Thai clinch early and lands some big knees to the body and Correia responds with a hook that misses. Rosa staying patient in the centre before coming for more knees again. Nice one-two lands clean from Rosa before a nice body kick and another one-two. Rosa being so patient and sliding out of the way of all Correia’s attacks, then jumps in with a flying knee straight to the face that Correia just eats. Rosa pops out her jab twice and starts cutting the cage off, but Correia lands a nice right hand. Rosa shoots for a takedown against the cage but Correia defends it well and sees out the round. 10-9 Rosa.
Correia takes the centre early this time around but Rosa throwing her jab well once again and landing with ease. Nice left jab a few more times and then Correia tries to charge her and eats a massive knee to the nose! Rosa lands a nice one-two again and Correia goes back to the outside and circles, but Rosa staying patient and firing in right hands behind her jab. Rosa staying out of range until she’s ready to engage. Big knee to the body from Rosa again and she’s upping the pace now, landing some combinations to the head too and forcing Correia backwards. Correia clinches up against the cage but eats a big knee to the body and an elbow to the face twice for good measure. Rosa just misses with another big elbow as the separate, but she lands a nice right hook when they engage again. Rosa lands another flying knee and big elbow but Correia manages to survive the round. 20-18 Rosa.
Rosa coming out nice and aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, with knees to the body again and solid right hooks behind it. Correia is still there though and trading with her as she lands a nice right hand of her own. Rosa fires back with a jab followed with a low kick and yet another running knee into the body with a right hook behind it. Rosa staying patient again with her jab, low kicks and right hand at the end of combinations. Both women trade low kicks and Correia lands a right hand, but Rosa goes back to the step-in knee before they clinch against the cage with a minute to go. They separate again and Rosa lands another one of her knees to the body before they clinch up again. Correia goes for a takedown but Rosa reverses it and ends the round with ground and pound strikes. 30-27, dominant win.
Casey O’Neill def Antonina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 2 (4:47)
Very fast and aggressive start to the fight from O’Neill who puts the pressure on immediately. O’Neill lands a nice right hand but Shevchenko replies well with a one-two after a warning about out-stretched fingers from the referee. O’Neill changes levels and looks for the takedown but Shevchenko ends up on top and gets her in a crucifix position landing big ground and pound strikes. O’Neill escapes but Shevchenko is landing nice strikes on the feet whenever she counters. O’Neill changes levels again and finally takes Shevchenko down and is in a dominant position in half guard. O’Neill landing some nice ground strikes but Shevchenko gets it back to full-guard before eventually getting back to her feet with 30 seconds left in the round. O’Neill catches a kick and gets Shevchenko back on the ground to end the round on top. Tough to call, but I’d probably lean 10-9 to O’Neill.
Even start to this round as O’Neill gets the pressure going again and Shevchenko looks to counter strike from range. Clinch against the cage and Shevchenko lands some nice knees again before they separate, then O’Neill lands a left hand and then changes levels and secures a takedown. Shevchenko rolls onto her knees but O’Neill lands some nice strikes and then rolls onto her back and drags her back down with the hooks in. O’Neill looks to pass into full mount and does, then lands a big elbow as she starts to control. Big elbows from top position from O’Neill and Shevchenko gives up her back again. O’Neill goes for a choke but can’t quite get it then continues to land some big elbows! Shevchenko is hurt but O’Neill raining down bombs with her elbows and punches and the referee steps in to end it! What a performance from O’Neill!
Jared Gordon def Joe Solecki via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Very quick start for Solecki as he gets an immediate takedown and moves straight to mount on the ground. Gordon defends well and escapes the position but Solecki landing some good strikes on the ground and controlling the position well. Gordon wall-walks into space but Solecki follows him around and takes the back while landing heavy strikes to the head. Solecki starting to look for the neck but Gordon not panicking. Solecki starting to switch grips for the choke while controlling him completely but Gordon gets back to his feet with 40 seconds to go and is able to get on top himself. Nice elbow from top position by Gordon but that’s the round. Easy 10-9 for Solecki.
Gordon lands two nice strikes early but Solecki changes levels immediately and goes for a takedown once again. Gordon defending it against the cage but Solecki pushing for the takedown again. Gordon lands a nice knee and elbow while defending but Solecki not going anywhere. Gordon throws some elbows before Solecki finally gets the trip and ends up on top. Gordon gets the reversal though and ends up on top himself halfway through and lands some short elbows. Solecki tries to sweetp to get back on top but Gordon defends it well and is landing a few shots on the ground and wearing on him. Gordon prioritising position over damage in that round but he takes it. 19-19.
Composed start to the final round from both guys as they stay standing to begin with. Gordon more comfortable and landing his jab well, but Solecki exploding well and lands a body kick. Nice one-two by Solecki followed by a jab but Gordon starting to force him backwards. Solecki changes levels and comes over the top with a right hand that just misses, before Gordon shoots in for a takedown but Solecki defends it. Both men land a jab before Gordon gets a takedown against the cage, but he allows Solecki up immediately. Clinch in the centre sees Gordon use his strength and lands a couple of knees. Big right hand lands from Solecki and the round ends. I think that’s a 29-28 Gordon but third round is tough to score.
Alexander Hernandez def Mike Breeden via Knockout, Round 1 (1:20)
Very quick start to the fight from Breeden as he steps forward with some hooks and a heavy low kick early on. Hernandez right there with him and returns fire then shoots for a takedown, but Breeden denies him. Hernandez backs up then shoots in again but again he’s denied. Hernandez puts the pressure on him and lands a big one two that hurts Breeden. Hernandez lets the combinations fly and Breeden is covering up. Hernandez blasts his mouthpiece out with a big right hand and keeps going. Breeden fires a left hand but misses and Hernandez smashes a right hand just behind the ear and puts Breeden out cold!!! What a knockout!
Krzysztof Jotko def Misha Cirkunov via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Cirkunov takes the centre early on and steps forward to force Jotko against the cage, before shooting in for a takedown early. Jotko defends it well and gets back to the feet, before another attempt from Cirkunov sees a trip get him down but bounce straight back up. Jotko defending the clinch against the cage before separating and taking the centre. Both guys trade leg kicks and then Cirkunov steps in with a jab, before Jotko lights him up with a nice combination. Cirkunov still keeping the centre but Jotko is moving well and landing his counters well. Cirkunov fakes with a takedown attempt and Jotko clinches with him immediately which allows Cirkunov to get hold of him against the cage until the end of the round. Tough to score, but I lean 10-9 Cirkunov.
Even start once again in this second round as they continue with Cirkunov in the centre and Jotko bouncing around on the outside. Cirkunov goes for a clinch and throws a knee to the body but it’s a bit low and there’s a pause in the action. Nice combination lands from Jotko that ends with a left uppercut, then Cirkunov responds with a low kick. Cirkunov keeps going for clinches and takedowns but Jotko is very easily defending and separating. Hard low kick from Cirkunov to counter a right hand from Jotko. Another clinch and denial before Jotko throws a big knee and that’s the end of the round. Tough to score again, but I’d go 19-19.
Better start to the round for Cirkunov as he finally gets a takedown after changing levels and securing a single leg. Immediate bearhug position on the back and he’s dragging Jotko around and landing big knees to the thighs and back. Jotko explodes up and gets to the feet and tries to land a big elbow, but Cirkunov ducks under it and scores another big takedown. Jotko gets back up quickly though and goes for a takedown of his own before looking to explode with strikes against the cage. Jotko explodes with a knee but accidentally gets a finger in Cirkunov’s eye and the referee pauses the fight. Jotko fired up and as they restart he fires in some hard one-twos that narrowly miss. Nice jab from Jotko with 40 seconds to go and he goes for a takedown but Cirkunov denies it easily. Both guys clinch and Jotko gets a takedown with ten seconds to go to end the fight. Tough call, could go either way, but I’d give it 29-28 Cirkunov.
Niko Price def Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Action packed start to this one as both guys look to take the centre and start trading heavy blows straight away. Nice exchange of strikes and Oliveira goes for a knee which Price catches and charges him up against the cage. Oliveira manages to reverse it and push Price down to the mat but Price holds on to the neck and rolls through to end up on top. Price looking to create space for ground and pound but Oliveira defending well. Price trying to move to side control but Oliveira defending well. Hard body shots from Price and then some elbows from the top to see out the round. 10-9 Price.
Good start to the round again from both guys with lots of feinting and some leg kicks just to touch each other. Oliveira lands a nice left hand before both men narrowly miss with big hooks. Price misses a head kick but lands a right hand hammer fist instead. Oliveira lands a right hand after catching a kick and Price falls backwards, so Oliveira looks to jump on top. Lots of scrambling for position but Oliveira manages to retain top position throughout. Some nice ground and pound and transitions from Oliveira but Price defending relatively well from the bottom and the round ends. 19-19 even.
Final round and both guys are going for it early. Hard low kicks from Oliveira and then a big right hand lands but Price not moving away at all and continues to threaten. Big body shot from Oliveira then a right hand. Price goes for the right hook but Oliveira responds with one of his own. Price lands two big shots and a right hook wobbles Oliveira, but he side steps and avoids. Both guys throwing big strikes and just missing, before Price throws a big right hand that stumbles Oliveira. Price going for a takedown against the cage but Oliveira defends it and they separate. Side kick from Oliveira to the body but Price continues to walk forward and Oliveira is exhausted. Price goes for a big superman punch but Oliveira ducks it and clinches him, looking to drag Price down to the mat. Price manages to throw Oliveira down and ends up on top and he’s hammering ground and pound to end the round. That should win it for Price. 29-28.
Kevin Holland vs Kyle Daukaus – No Contest (Accidental headbutt led to fight ending sequence)
Good start to the round for Daukaus as he comes forward with two hooks and goes straight for a takedown. Holland defends it well against the cage and shows excellent balance to stay on his feet before he looks to break away in a clinch. Daukaus then puts him back in a full nelson and the referee breaks up the position. Daukaus lands a nice one-two, and then as Holland throws a right hand they clash heads and Holland goes out cold! Daukaus goes on to continue to look for a finish and eventually gets a rear-naked choke locked in and Holland is forced to tap out despite fighting hard to stay in the fight.
After the fight, a significant review takes place over the footage and the referee deems the fight a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads leading to the fight-ending sequence.
Thiago Santos def Johnny Walker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
First strike of the fight comes 30 seconds in as Walker throws a low kick, and the second comes 30 seconds later when Walker blocks a high kick from Santos. Walker takes the centre and is backing Santos up against the cage, but neither man throwing anything as we approach the halfway point of the round. Walker continues with a couple of low kicks and Santos goes to throw a high kick, but lots of feinting from both guys and not much action at all. Teep kick from Walker lands. More jockeying from both guys as the round ends. That’s an impossible round to score because nothing happened. 10-10.
Second round starts quicker as Santos takes the centre and shoots for a takedown with a single leg. Walker defends it well but both guys swing big hooks on their way out of the clinch and Santos lands the left hand grazing him. Santos throws a head kick but Walker blocks it and replies with a low kick. The round has gone timid again and Walker misses with a big overhand right, then lands another low kick. Nice left body kick from Santos lands and then he lands two more too with a left hand behind it. Walker eats them though and comes forward. More touching and feinting as the round ends. Round 2 goes to Santos for me, 20-19.
Lots of feints again in the third round as Walker looks to go back to the teep kicks and leg kicks from the first round. Santos grazes him with a head kick and then misses with a wild left hand. Walker throws more kicks but Santos side steps it and lands a left cross on the chin. Walker still there and doing lots of feinting again but Santos looks comfortable. Big exchange from both guys but they both miss and the fight is starting to open up a little bit now. Santos parries a body kick and lands a strong left hand again but Walker is still standing and moving. Walker throws a leg kick again and Santos replies with a left hook. Big spinning wheel kick misses from Santos but then he throws a head kick that is partially blocked. 30-28 Santos.
Santos comes out aggressive in the fourth and lands a nice body shot. Walker coming forward but not really throwing anything of note. Head kick attempt from Santos misses again, then Walker throws one and just misses. Santos throws a jump knee that misses and then Santos goes for his left hand again. Hard leg kick from Santos but Walker doesn’t look too affected by them. Walker’s kick gets caught but he lands two big right hands of his own before eating one from Santos. Big one-two lands from Santos again but Walker eats it well and threatens with a reverse elbow. Another hard left hand from Santos just misses, before he lands a body kick to end the round. Close round that one, 40-37 Santos for me.
This has not been the type of fight we all expected, but we go into the fifth round anyway. Slow start again with lots of feints and a slow pace. Santos comes forward and lands a left hand to the side of the head but Walker is still looking to chop the legs. Santos lands a HUGE left hand clean but Walker eats it and calls him on for more. Body kick from Santos lands twice before Walker slides forward to close distance. Santos staying out of danger for the most part and both men faking a lot again. Left hand lands from Santos and Walker lands a right hand at the same time. Big head kick from Santos lands but again Walker just eats it. Capoeira kick from Walker misses and that’s the round. 50-36 Santos for me, maybe 49-47 but very weird fight to score.
A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.
Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.
Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.
Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here and after starting with the early prelims, we continue with the rest of the prelims here.
Devonte Smith (11-2) vs Jamie Mullarkey (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight between two of the most exciting prospects on the card. Smith was on a six-fight finish streak before losing to Khama Worthy, before bouncing back with a KO finish over Justin Jaynes at UFC Vegas 18. Mullarkey on the other hand lost his first two in the UFC before bouncing back with a huge win over Khama Worthy at UFC 260 in just 46 seconds.
Smith and Mullarkey are both brilliantly technical and powerful strikers with pretty decent wrestlings skills to back themselves up too. Smith is a really intelligent power puncher, with a brilliant jab that he uses to set up his power hand. Mullarkey is more of a kickboxer, with good low kicks and better work from range but he has shown the ability to apply a wrestle-heavy game plan if needed.
It should be a brilliant fight but I think Smith just edges him overall and he has the power to turn the fight in an instant, so I think that’s what happens. PICK – Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2
Bethe Correia (11-5-1) vs Karol Rosa (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A retirement bout for Correia as she steps into the cage one final time to take on Rosa. Correia has only won twice since 2015, with her most recent win coming against Sijaira Eubanks in 2019. Her most recent fight was against Pannie Kianzad, where she was dominated at UFC Fight Island 3. Rosa on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with a decision win over Joselyne Edwards at UFC Vegas 18 most recently.
Correia isn’t the most technical fighter in the land but she makes up for it with pure heart and grit, constantly stepping forward and almost refusing to get stopped until she is literally forced to. Rosa is a tidy, technical boxer who stays very patient with her attacks and makes sure that she throws everything with intent.
Rosa has the potential to fly up the rankings with some big wins and she is very good and Correia is just getting a farewell bout at this point, but it won’t go well. Expect Rosa to dominate her, rack up plenty of significant strikes and cruise to an easy win. PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision
Antonina Shevchenko (9-3) vs Casey O’Neill (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very intriguing flyweight fight between the other Shevchenko sister and the undefeated O’Neill. Shevchenko has alternated wins and losses in the UFC, with a win over Ariane Lipski sandwiched between defeats to Kaitlyn Chookagian and most recently Andrea Lee at UFC 262. O’Neill is undefeated and has two finishes from two fights in the UFC, beating Shana Dobson via KO before submitting Lara Procopio at UFC Vegas 29.
Shevchenko is similar stylistically to her sister, incredibly well-rounded but just several levels below. She has great striking with a lovely body kick, but also adept on the ground when it comes to securing submissions and controlling position if necessary. O’Neill however is also equally well-rounded, with decent power striking, good hand speed and other-worldly grappling.
O’Neill is very dangerous on the ground and isn’t afraid to drag her opponents to that world if needed. Shevchenko tends to try and show everything off in every fight, rather than stick to what’s going well and that is likely to play into her downfall here. On the feet she should have the edge, but O’Neill can keep up and eventually will try to get this to the ground at which point it’s a long night for Shevchenko. PICK – Casey O’Neill via Submission, Round 2
Joe Solecki (11-2) vs Jared Gordon (17-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting lightweight fight between a submission guru and a durable veteran in the featured prelim bout. Solecki is on a six-fight win streak, with his most recent win coming against Jim Miller at UFC Vegas 23 via unanimous decision. Gordon has won his last two fights by decision, beating Chris Fishgold and then Danny Chavez at UFC Vegas 19.
Solecki is a brilliant grappler with solid wrestling, great submissions and decent striking on the feet to set stuff up. Gordon has a reputation for being a brilliant wrestler himself, but he’s usually at his best at featherweight but he struggles to make the weight consistently. Solecki doesn’t push the pace to a point that could force Gordon into trouble but he is the naturally bigger man.
Gordon is smaller and while I think he has a slight edge on the feet, it’s not really enough to win him a three-round fight on the feet. Solecki will look to wrestle his way to top position and work from there, using his physicality and submission threats to secure a decision win. PICK – Joe Solecki via Decision
Ode Osbourne def Jerome Rivera via Knockout, Round 1 (0:26)
Both fighters come out and meet in the centre and Rivera throws a high left kick. Osbourne rolls the kick, catching the kick on his shoulder and lands a huge left hand straight down the pipe! Rivera is down, Osbourne lands a couple of strikes on the ground but it’s over inside 30 seconds! Wow!
Timur Valiev def Martin Day via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x2, 30-26)
Good start to the round for Valiev as he comes out and attacks the legs early with a series of kicks. Day counters another leg kick with a short combo in the pocket but Valiev steps out of the way and then goes for a single leg takedown. He takes the back against the cage and has a body lock before dragging Day down to the mat, only for Day to get back up quickly. Valiev finally gets the fight down and stops the scramble attempt to end up in top position. Some nice short elbows from Valiev but Day is defending well as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Valiev.
Valiev opens the second round with some more leg kicks, before a nice one-two and a takedown have the fight on the ground in the centre of the octagon. Valiev passes into side control and Day tries to get back to his feet but it’s prevented well with some solid ground and pound. Valiev completely dominant right now with constant pressure on the ground, staying busy and landing shots to the body and head of Day. Complete domination for the entire second round, could be a 10-8 round. 20-17 Valiev.
Final round and Day starts throwing some kicks and a few strikes, knowing he needs a finish in this round. It doesn’t last long though as Valiev gets another takedown early in the round and controls the positions once again. More ground and pound strikes on the ground as Day tries to get back up, but Valiev is a nuisance and keeps a body lock and just drags him up and down as much as possible. Valiev switches between half-guard, mount and side control for the rest of the round for a dominant decision victory. 30-26 Valiev.
Tactical start to this fight from both guys as Choi takes the centre, but Zalal is happy to circle on the outside and jab while avoiding heavier shots. Choi throws a few big head kicks but Zalal slips them relatively easily. Zalal shoots for the takedown and gets in on the hips but Choi steps over the trip attempt and they end up tied up against the cage. Zalal continues to look for the takedown against the cage but they’re at a stalemate and the referee separates them. Another clinch against the cage as the round comes to an end and Choi gets a takedown right on the horn. 10-9 Zalal for me but could go either way.
Second round starts with an exchange of kicks before another clinch against the cage, as Zalal looks for the takedown again. He gets a single leg but Choi defends really well against the cage until the referee separates them again. Body kick and one-two from Choi lands clean as he starts to come forward more. He pushes forward with another combo before the clinch again against the cage, before Choi gets Zalal down to the mat before letting him straight back up. A few more exchanges before the end of the round, this one more clear cut in Choi’s favour. 19-19 or 20-18.
Choi starts the final round strong, as he looks to have Zalal beat in all areas right now. They clinch against the cage again and Zalal finally gets the fight to the ground and goes straight for a guillotine. It looks tight as he rolls through but Choi eventually turns into it and ends up on top in guard. Choi eventually works his way back up to the feet but Zalal goes for a single leg takedown again and gets Choi down against the cage. Every time Zalal gets him down in this round he pops straight back up, refusing to accept bottom position as we enter the final 40 seconds. Round comes to an end with a clinch against the cage and it will likely be a Choi decision win. 29-28 Choi.
Fast start to this fight as McCann comes out throwing leg kicks and punch combinations early, while Procopio looks to walk her to the cage and go for a takedown. After a battle against the cage, Procopio gets a beautiful trip and ends up in top position halfway through the round. Procopio dominating on the ground and has McCann’s neck tight to control posture, but McCann fights out of that position, although she eventually pushes into full mount. McCann gives up the back and Procopio looks for an armbar before transitioning to the back and looking for a choke but the horn goes. Dominant from Procopio, 10-9.
McCann comes out aggressively again and looks to keep Procopio with her back against the cage, but a clinch and takedown attempt ends with McCann on her back. Procopio looks to transition into different positions but McCann throws up an armbar! Procopio looks to stack her to escape but McCann rolls through and locks it in tight! She has a full extension but Procopio refuses to tap and eventually is able to escape the position! Eventually the women get back to their feet against the cage and then Procopio lands another takedown inside the final minute as both women trade shots before the horn. 19-19.
Final round and Procopio is breathing heavy, but she still engages with the clinch situation against the cage looking for a takedown. She gets the fight down to the ground in scrappy fashion and then quickly transitions looking for a heel hook. McCann rolls through twice and escapes, but Procopio immediately gets back on her and brings McCann back down to the ground a further three times just using her size advantage. 30 seconds to go and Procopio takes the back of McCann and starts throwing punches to see the round out and take a decision win. 29-28 Procopio.
Karol Rosa def Joselyne Edwards via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
An immediate shot and takedown from Rosa gets the fight down to the ground and the Brazilian into a strong position. She sits in half guard comfortably, throwing some nice ground and pound and just completely controlling the fight. Rosa moves into full mount and starts teeing off before Edwards throws her legs up and rolls through to get back to the feet. Both women exchange shots on the feet with Rosa beating up the legs as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Rosa.
Rosa comes out aggressively again with some heavy leg kicks, and Edwards buckles under the power of the kicks too. Rosa steps in and clinches before the separate and Rosa throws more kicks. Edwards charges forwards with a combination of hooks that land clean but she eats them well and comes forward with some shots of her own. Edwards comes forward again with a rush but Rosa gets hold of her and the fight goes back to the ground with Rosa on top. Rosa’s mouth is bleeding heavily but she’s staying on top and landing ground and pound well as the round ends. 20-18 Rosa.
Final round and after one exchange on the feet Rosa goes straight for the takedown and secures it. After some ground and pound and some grappling on the ground Rosa gets back to the feet herself and lets Edwards up, before they clinch up against the cage again. Edwards battling to stay on her feet as Rosa looks to wear on her with her physical advantage. Rosa drags Edwards down to the ground with under 90 seconds remaining and controls the position for the remainder of the round before ending with a big flurry of punches to take a decision win. 30-27 Rosa.
Devonte Smith def Justin Jaynes via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 2 (3:38)
Cagey start to the fight as both men look to feel each other out before committing to any big shots early on. Smith lands some nice jabs that rock Jaynes a little, but Jaynes is throwing tight left hook counters that are just missing too. Smith’s jab is working well to keep Jayne’s away from him but then Jaynes lands a nice right hand that wobbles Smith. Jaynes is covering up from the jab and then Smith lands a nice left followed by a kick that Jaynes catches. Smith lands some big shots while his leg is still in the air and Jaynes is rocked! Smith throws some knees and a right hand but Jaynes weathers the storm and the round ends. 10-9 Smith.
Jaynes comes out in the second round and goes straight for a takedown and they clinch up against the cage. Jaynes goes to sweep him but Smith explodes and reverses the position to end up on top in side control. He throws some nice knees to the body and some short punches to cause Jaynes some problems. Smith passes into full mount with ease and starts raining down punches before taking the back and looks for the rear naked choke but Jaynes reverses and escapes. Smith explodes back to his feet quickly and tells the referee he wants it back on the feet. Referee pauses the fight with Jaynes’ eye swelled shut and the doctor waves it off. TKO win for Smith!
Danilo Marques def Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (4:51)
Immediate takedown from Marques as he shoots in for a single leg and uses lots of movement before eventually tripping him down. Rodriguez fighting hard to get back to his feet against the cage, but Marques keeping his hands locked up and eventually gets him back down once again. Marques working hard to keep Rodriguez down and he’s tying up the legs to do so. Rodriguez gets back to the feet but once again Marques drags him back down. Rodriguez gets back to the feet with 15 seconds to go and throws a few knees and body shots but he looks exhausted. 10-9 Marques.
Second round starts with the two exchanging feints on the feet, with Rodriguez landing a nice low kick. Marques fakes a couple of takedown attempts before landing an overhand right and then finally getting the big takedown. Marques passes into full mount against the cage and he starts raining down big ground and pound punches. Both men look exhausted as Rodriguez gets back to a knee, but Marques keeps landing big punches and then takes the back with both hooks in. He rolls to the back and sinks in a rear naked choke and puts Rodriguez to sleep. Wonderful performance from Marques.
Beneil Dariush def Diego Ferreira via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
A crazy pace to start this fight as Dariush comes out firing with strikes before shooting for a takedown. Ferreira defends it by pulling guard with an omoplata before exploding out back to his feet, but Dariush looks for a takedown again against the cage. When he can’t get it he separates and the two start trading bombs! Both men land huge shots on each other but Dariush keeps coming forward. Big knee to the body and Ferreira goes down! Dariush looks for ground and pound but Ferreira ties him up on the ground and is able to ride it out. Final 30 seconds and they get back to the feet, and Ferreira lands a big right hand clean. Dariush returns with a right of his own before a front kick to the face from Ferreira lands flush. What a round! 10-9 Dariush.
Second round starts as the first ended with both men throwing big strikes once again. Dariush looking a bit more tired than Ferreira, so he shoots for a takedown and then gets a trip against the cage and lands on top. Ferreira gets back up but Dariush puts him straight back down and starts to control on top. Ferreira defending but the pressure of Dariush is causing him a big problem and Dariush ends the round controlling position from the top. 20-18.
An insane pace continues into the third round as Ferreira starts to use his footwork more to avoid a brawl and keep out of the way of the takedown attempts. Dariush lands a couple of punches himself and misses a takedown before a kick lands on the cup of Ferreira and causes a short pause. Halfway through the round and we haven’t hit the ground yet but Dariush lands a beautiful one-two to the chin. Ferreira catches a kick and looks to put Dariush on the ground but a great scramble means they both get back to the feet and start swinging for the fences. Dariush shoots for a takedown with a minute remaining and gets it, and takes the back with a body lock as he sinks the hooks in but Ferreira shakes him off and the two scramble to the horn. Great fight, 30-27 Dariush for me though.
Fun start to the fight as Pantoja looks to get right in Kape’s face early but ‘Starboy’ showing his amazing speed and slipping all attacks with his hands low. Kape making Pantoja miss a lot but barely throwing any strikes of his own as we move through the round, while Pantoja is trying to make reads and can’t. Kape’s jab is landing nicely when he throws it but just not enough volume. Pantoja lands a nice body kick and then Kape goes for a cartwheel kick that misses and Pantoja ends up on top. A couple of big strikes land while Kape is on the ground but he gets back up and ends the round with a takedown attempt of his own. 10-9 Pantoja.
Pantoja comes forward in the second round and throwing lots of kicks, and while Kape isn’t getting hurt or the sheer activity is giving Pantoja the rounds. Kape lands a nice one-two but Pantoja returns with some body kicks. Right hand lands from Pantoja but Kape returns fire with a nice one-two of his own. Kape trying to up the pace a little but still not throwing enough to trouble his opponent as we enter the final minute. Kape throws a head kick, follows it up with a left hand and then a takedown, but Pantoja rolls through and gets back to the feet quickly. Better round for Kape and it’s hard to score so could go either way. 19-19 for me.
Slower start to the round by both men in this one as Kape continues to feint and bounce, while Pantoja is almost waiting so he can counter. Nice left hook from Kape lands but Pantoja returns fire with a body kick. Leg kick from Pantoja misses and Kape lands a nice left hand in return before Pantoja lands a head kick. Kape not showing much urgency as we enter the final 90 seconds. Kape lands a left hand that troubles Pantoja and he follows it up with a nice combo. Kape shoots for a takedown and gets it but Pantoja rolls out again and the fight comes to an end. 29-28 either way for me.
Clay Guida def Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A super fun start to this fight as Johnson and Guida meet in the middle of the cage and start trading bombs! Johnson lands a few nice shots before Guida responds with a right hand that lands on the eye and causes Johnson big problems. Guida keeps marching forward and lands more shots with the right hand before he shoots for the takedown and eventually gets him down. Johnson manages to get back to the feet and they clinch against the cage and exchange knees. Guida’s right hook is causing Johnson problems but he’s firing back with nice hooks of his own. Fun round, 10-9 Guida.
Second round continues at a frantic pace as Guida goes straight for a takedown this time against the cage. Johnson battles really well to stay up on his feet before breaking away and landing a nice knee, but Guida is relentless with his pressure and is forcing Johnson to grind. Several attempts are denied by Johnson between now and the end of the round as Johnson looks very tired when the horn goes. 20-18 Guida.
Third round and Guida comes firing out once again with crazy pressure. Johnson circles and looks to land a jab but Guida is throwing hooks and uppercuts, then lands a big knee before shooting for a takedown. They clinch up against the cage before Guida gets him down before taking his back. He locks up a body triangle and rolls him over, then looks to sink in a rear naked choke. Johnson fights the hands and breaks the grip on the hands but can’t break the body triangle and the horn sounds for the end of the fight. Clay Guida should take the win here, 30-27.
Cory Sandhagen def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 1 (0:28)
Edgar comes out into the centre with Sandhagen and throws a leg kick as ‘Sandman’ circles on the outside. Edgar steps in with a looping left and SANDHAGEN WITH A FLYING KNEE!!!! EDGAR IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!!
Alexander Volkov def Alistair Overeem via Knockout, Round 2 (2:06)
Odd start to the round as Volkov throws a leg kick and Overeem seems to freeze and shell up against the cage, allowing Volkov to land some shots. Volkov continues to step forward with leg kicks and Overeem looks tense, but he explodes with two heavy left hands that land clean. Both men trade shots at the same time but as Volkov lands Overeem loses his balance and falls. Volkov jumps on him to land ground and pound but Overeem gets back to his feet quickly and they break. Volkov walking Overeem down against the cage and unloads a big combo as he covers up before the round comes to an end. 10-9 Volkov.
Volkov starts landing some nice jabs and Overeem is struggling to cope with the length and power. Volkov’s strikes landing through the guard of Overeem and he is busting him up bad. Overeem looks for a takedown but Volkov stops it easily and starts landing more shots. Overeem is badly hurt but he’s trying to fight back. Volkov lands a big left hand and Overeem falls to his knees and the referee waves it off to prevent further damage. What a performance from Volkov!
The UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas for the first time in 2021 after a successful trip to Fight Island kicked the year off.
Alistair Overeem looks to continue his final run en route to UFC gold when he takes on Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division in the main event, with both men knowing they need a win to enter the top five conversations.
Osbourne was supposed to fight Denys Bondar at flyweight, but due to the short notice this fight will take place at featherweight. Osbourne is a great striker with lots of power, but is also capable of holding his own on the ground. Rivera is the opposite, always looking to get the fight down to the mat but throws good volume on the feet. If Rivera can’t get the fight down to the ground, Osbourne’s power should come up trumps and he could get the knockout win. PICK – Ode Osbourne via Knockout, Round 2
Timur Valiev (16-2) vs Martin Day (8-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Day lost twice in 2020, being stopped by both Davey Grant at UFC 251 and then by Anderson dos Santos in November by submission. Valiev has the advantage anywhere this fight goes in reality, with really sharp boxing skills and far superior wrestling skills. Day throws good knees that could catch Valiev if he looks for takedowns but overall I think the Russian gets him down and dominates for a wide decision win. PICK – Timur Valiev via Decision
Seungwoo Choi (8-3) vs Youssef Zalal (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An interesting fight in the featherweight division between these two prospects. Choi is coming off an impressive decision win against Suman Mokhtarian way back in December 2019, while Zalal went 3-1 in the UFC in 2020 beating Austin Lingo in February, Jordan Griffin in June and Peter Barrett in August before losing to Ilia Topuria in October.
Choi is a good striker with a really nice straight right hand and good takedown defence, while Zalal is an okay striker with excellent takedowns. His footwork is good enough to avoid the power shots of Choi and with his takedown chops, he should be able to get top position relatively easily and work his way to a decision win. PICK – Youssef Zalal via Decision
Molly McCann (10-3) vs Lara Procopio (6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
McCann is a brawler who has worked on her wrestling game a lot in the last two years, with takedowns playing a big part in her three-fight win streak prior to her most recent loss. Procopio is a very good all rounder, who stood toe to toe with Rosa in her defeat and has shown a great ground game in the past too. She has the big advantage on the ground and McCann’s improvements aren’t quite enough to keep up with it, while on the feet they’re pretty even. Procopio will be able to stand with McCann without fear of getting knocked out and with her takedown advantage she should get the win in a close fight. PICK – Lara Procopio via Decision
There is due to be 10 fights on the card this weekend, with five prelim fights and five main card fights scheduled. I’ve already made my prelim predictions, which you can read here and will now break down the main card.
Thiago Moises (13-4) vs Jalin Turner (9-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another classic grappler vs striker match up here as Brazilian jiu-jitsu black-belt Moises and the rangy and aggressive striker Turner. Moises has shown great kickboxing and solid wrestling to compliment his phenomenal grappling but with Turner holding a 7 inch reach advantage and nine stoppages from nine wins he will need to be at his best to close the distance and avoid the knockout. With that said though the gap on the mat is just vast that if this fight hits the mat with Moises still conscious and able to fight, this could be finished pretty quickly. PICK – Thiago Moises via Submission, Round 1
Michel Pereira (23-11) vs Zelim Imadaev (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Pereira recently came to prominence for his acrobatic performances in the octagon, but has lost his last two fights technically including a disqualification against Diego Sanchez. Zelim Imadaev is a 25 year old prospect who also loves to fight in a bit of a wild way, using aggression and relentlessness to overwhelm his opponents. Pereira showed an improvement against Sanchez, seemingly understanding that by doing all the unnecessary flips he burns extra cardio if he doesn’t finish the fight. He’ll still almost certainly throw crazy strikes and he is the much bigger man naturally, so carries more power in his hands and kicks. For that reason and that reason alone, I’m going with Pereira to finish it with strikes but this fight could go in absolutely any direction. PICK – Michel Pereira via Knockout, Round 2
Sijara Eubanks (6-4) vs Karol Rosa (13-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very interesting women’s bantamweight bout where two very skilled fighters will compete. Eubanks is a great boxer with a black-belt in jiu jitsu and solid wrestling, while Rosa is a high-level Muay-Thai kickboxer who relies on a crazy output to overwhelm her opponents and win by decision. Eubanks’ best performances came in the 125lbs flyweight division and yet she went 3-2 in that division. Rosa is more natural at this weight and with a reach advantage, good kicks plus an output that sees her average almost 10 strikes per minute she should be able to win this fight based off that alone. PICK – Karol Rosa via Unanimous Decision
Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs Alonzo Menifield (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) *This fight was supposed to happen on the Munhoz-Edgar card two weeks ago but was cancelled on the night. So I’ve copy & pasted over the breakdown and prediction from then.*
A short notice fight for Menifield after stepping in on one week’s notice for Shamil Gamzatov, he is looking to bounce back from his first professional defeat against Devin Clark back at UFC 250. Ovince Saint Preux was once an opponent for Jon Jones in a title eliminator, but he has now lost four of his last six bouts. Menifield’s last appearance saw him get completely outclassed and when he couldn’t land that big punch, he was beaten. OSP will have a four inch reach advantage, a wrestling advantage and is experienced enough to avoid that big punch. If he can get the fight to the ground, it’s impossible to rule out OSP landing ground and pound before ending the fight with his signature Von-Preux choke. PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Submission, Round 2
Alistair Overeem (46-18-0 1NC) vs Augusto Sakai (15-1-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A burly veteran in Overeem against another up and comer in Sakai as the UFC once again give ‘The Demolition Man’ the honour of being the gatekeeper for the top of the division. Overeem is fresh off a win over Walt Harris in May while Sakai beat Blagoy Ivanov just two weeks later via split decision. Overeem is one of the best kickboxers MMA has seen but at 40 years old he’s not a spring chicken. Sakai is a typical big-man, who comes forward with his hands up and throws bombs. He’s on a six fight win streak and is undefeated in the UFC. This is a bout made for Overeem to shut down the hype train. He’s the much more skilled fighter but his chin has been a little bit suspect in his last few fights. He dominated against Jairzinho Rozenstruik for four full rounds and 4:50 of round 5 before a big punch put his lights out and he was knocked down by Walt Harris but survived as his opponent gassed himself out. Sakai has a lot of power in his hands overall he’s not the best mixed martial artist for me and Overeem should be able use his skills to get a late stoppage with it being Sakai’s first time past three rounds. PICK – Alistair Overeem via Knockout, Round 4