Tag Archives: Kelvin Gastelum

UFC Vegas 34: Cannonier vs Gastelum – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break with two middleweights battling to get back into contention at the top of the rankings as Jared Cannonier takes on Kelvin Gastelum.

Originally supposed to be Paulo Costa, Gastelum stepped in to take over this bout and knows that a win for him can get him back in the conversation for a future title shot while Cannonier knows he’s just two big wins away from a title shot in all likelihood.

In a 12 fight card, it’s a card with a few sleeper fights and a killer main event so lets see how we do with our picks.

Last time out at UFC 265 we went 9/13 with four perfect picks to move to 383/600 (63.83%) with 169 perfect picks (44.13%). We’ll look to improve that here and after starting with the early prelims here and the rest of the prelim picks, here are the main card picks for the night.


Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) vs Brandon Royval (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An absolute banger at flyweight and my pick for fight of the night in this one. Pantoja is tipped for future title aspirations and is 2-2 in his last four, losing to Deiveson Figueiredo and Askar Askarov while beating Matt Schnell and Manel Kape most recently at UFC Vegas 18. Royval was on a tear in the UFC before losing his last fight to Brandon Moreno at UFC 255 when he dislocated his shoulder and got TKO’d.

Pantoja is a phenomenal striker, with brilliant combinations, kicks and hand speed at 125lbs. Royval is a very active striker too, with brilliant scrambles and hand speed himself. This is a fight that is undoubtedly between two top contenders and could go either way. Royval is a solid grappler too, with really good submissions all around the mat and eight submission wins in his career.

Unfortunately for Royval though, Pantoja has fantastic leg kicks and takedown defence as well as scary power for the division and I think overall he will be able to use his experience to earn a very entertaining win.
PICK – Alexandre Pantoja via Decision

Vinc Pichel (13-2) vs Austin Hubbard (13-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight fight between a veteran and a newcomer in this one. Piche is 38-years-old and on a two-fight win streak, beating Roosevelt Roberts and then Jim Miller at UFC 252 in his last fight. Hubbard on the other hand is 29 and has alternated wins and losses in his last six, beating Dakota Bush last time out via decision.

Pichel has good stand up and good wrestling, but against the specialists in those departments he struggles. Physically he’s strong and he has decent cardio, but he doesn’t really excel in any level in particular. Hubbard on the other hand is a fighter who’s greatest attribute is his cardio, with good knees and strikes from range.

Hubbard is a good defensive wrestler and because of his cardio and attacks up the middle, Pichel may struggle to get his grappling game going and on the feet Hubbard has him beat. The longer the fight goes with Hubbard not on his back, the further he is able to pull away and earn a decision win.
PICK – Austin Hubbard via Decision

Trevin Jones (13-6) vs Saidyokub Kakhromonov (8-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight as Jones takes on the very short notice replacement Kakhromonov. ‘5 Star’ has won his last four in a row by finish, but his UFC debut against Timur Valiev at UFC Vegas 7 was overturned after a positive marijuana test. He then stopped Mario Bautista via knockout at UFC 259. Kakhromonov has won his last two, KO’ing Askar Askar in 30 seconds before a KO over Tycen Lynn and makes his UFC debut on just four days’ notice.

Jones is a powerful striker with genuine knockout power but also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while Kakhromonov is a fantastic striker with good kicks and good enough wrestling to score a takedown over a Nurmagomedov relative. In a full camp, this would be an incredible fight but with Kakhromonov taking the fight on just four days notice this seems like a jump too far.

This is likely to be one of the best fights on the card but with both at a high level, but the lack of preparation time for Kakhromonov means I can’t go against Jones in this one. Remember the Kakhromonov name though.
PICK – Trevin Jones via Decision

Parker Porter (11-6) vs Chase Sherman (15-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight banger as the impressive Sherman takes on Porter and looks to get back to winning ways. Porter is 1-1 in his last two fights, losing to Chris Daukaus before earning a decision over Josh Parisian last time out. Sherman on the other hand was on a four-fight win streak before stepping into the cage with former champ Andrei Arlovski in April where he was beaten by decision.

Porter is a typical heavyweight, who uses jabs and a big overhand to earn most of his victories but when that doesn’t work he looks low quality and poor. Sherman has tried to evolve his game more, throwing some leg kicks and good volume but his knockout power is excellent. He has 14 wins via knockout and has some decent footwork for a heavyweight.

Sherman will come out, bide his time, avoid the big strikes with good footwork and eventually land his big right hand to get back on the winning trail in this one.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Knockout, Round 1

Clay Guida (36-17) vs Mark O Madsen (10-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fun lightweight fight is the co-main event of the night as veteran Clay Guida takes on undefeated Mark Madsen. Guida is 1-2 in his last three but beat Michael Johnson last time out at UFC Vegas 18 and will take on the Olympic silver medalist Madsen who hasn’t fought since UFC 248 pre-COVID.

Both these guys are wrestle heavy fighters, but the Olympic level wrestler is obviously the better of the two when it comes to that section of a fight. Guida is aggressive and storms forward constantly, throwing good strikes with not much power that Madsen will have to try and avoid. One advantage that Guida has though is his cardio. Despite being 364 years old, Guida never tires and Madsen has shown some cardio problems in the past.

With that said though, Madsen is a good enough wrestler that in both of their plan A’s he should be able to win at least two rounds to earn a decision win.
PICK – Mark O. Madsen via Decision

Jared Cannonier (13-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (17-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A contender fight between the number three and number nine ranked middleweights headlines this card. Cannonier was on a three-fight finish streak before coming up against Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 where he was outclassed in his last fight. Gastelum on the other hand lost three-in-a-row before earning a good win over Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 before suffering his own defeat to Whittaker in April.

Cannonier is a powerhouse with incredible one-punch knockout power and some violent leg kicks to go with it, while Gastelum is a solid boxer with good wrestling and a powerful left hand of his own to go with a granite chin. Cannonier has got scary power though and is capable of ending any fight at any moment and Gastelum isn’t exactly the most evasive when it comes to punches.

Gastelum has the option of using his wrestling to win rounds but Cannonier’s takedown defence is pretty good at 185lbs. He’s never been knocked out in his career and I think he has the better skillset to win rounds, so I’m going for an upset in the main event and Gastelum to earn a decision win.
PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Decision

Kelvin Gastelum replaces Paulo Costa to face Jared Cannonier, Till/Brunson date changed

The UFC middleweight double header for August is no more after a withdrawal and a date change were announced.

It was revealed last month that the UFC had paired up 185lbs contenders Derek Brunson and Darren Till for August 14th for a potential London card, while Paulo Costa and Jared Cannonier were set to meet the following week at a location to be announced.

However it has now been announced that neither of those fights will go ahead as planned.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic still in affect, it turns out it will be unlikely that the UFC can put together a card in London on August 14th this year.

Instead, the organisation is now targeting a card for September 4th in London, which has seen the Brunson vs Till fight moved to accommodate its main event status.

Currently UFC 266 is scheduled to take place on September 4th, with light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz set to defend his title against Glover Teixeira. According to ESPN though that pay-per-view card will be moved to later in the month in order to accommodate the London card, although neither are official yet.

It was also confirmed that Paulo Costa will no longer fight Jared Cannonier on August 21st, after the Brazilian withdrew from the bout.

Kelvin Gastelum will step in to replace him, making it two fights in a row that Gastelum has stepped in to replace Costa after he pulled out with plenty of notice.

Costa hasn’t fought since his UFC 253 knockout defeat to Israel Adesanya, but was scheduled to fight Robert Whittaker back in April. Costa withdrew from that fight citing ‘flu-like symptoms’, saying he had lingering effects from COVID-19. Gastelum stepped in to replace him in that one, but was dominated by Whittaker in a five-round decision defeat.

This time there is no injury, but instead Costa says he never signed a contract to fight Cannonier and isn’t happy with the pay that fighters receive and thus won’t be fighting.

Cannonier’s last fight was also against Whittaker, with ‘The Reaper’ dominating him at UFC 254 to a three-round decision win to claim himself dibs in the title conversation. Whittaker will fight the winner of Adesanya and Vettori 2, who meet at UFC 263 this weekend.

Whittaker actually turned that fight down following his win over Gasteulm, with scheduling conflicts making it too hard to turn around and get a proper camp in for the desired date.

Cannonier is currently ranked at number four in the division, while Gastelum is ranked at number nine. A win for either man puts them into contention for a title shot in the near future, while a loss could plummet them further away from a shot than ever before.

Till and Brunson’s fight looks likely to be the next man to get a shot after Whittaker, with Adesanya previously name-checking Till as a future opponent while Brunson has previously been beaten by the champion but is currently riding a four-fight win streak after beating Kevin Holland in March.

Top 5 The Ultimate Fighter Seasons

The Ultimate Fighter makes it’s long awaited return tonight on Fight Pass after a three year absence.

Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and contender Brian Ortega will serve as the coaches to two teams comprising of bantamweights and middleweights, before eventually going head to head for the 145lbs title themselves at a later date.

But with season 29 finally upon us, what are the greatest seasons that have come before this? We’ve seen legends created through the show like Michael Bisping and TJ Dillashaw, but these five seasons stand out for me more than any other.


TEAM JONES VS TEAM SONNEN
(Season 17)

Complete Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 finale fight card and televised FX line  up revealed - MMAmania.com

The greatest fighter of all-time according to most people was a TUF coach once upon a time, lining up alongside ‘The Bad Guy’ Chael Sonnen to coach a bunch of welterweights.

Names like Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum stood out the most, as Jones and Sonnen kept it mostly civil throughout the season – preferring to settle their beef in the octagon rather than the gym.

The coaches challenge was hilarious and there were some incredibly highlight reel knockouts to go with it before a fun finale fight ended in split decision. There was even a cameo by female superstar Ronda Rousey as she promised to make an appearance for one fighter in particular after he declared his love for her. It’s well worth the watch.


TEAM LESNAR VS TEAM DOS SANTOS
(Season 13)

The Ultimate Fighter 13 Ratings: Episodes 1 Through 10 And Finale -  SBNation.com

If your name isn’t Conor McGregor, then you have no claim to being a bigger box-office draw than Brock Lesnar in the UFC. The former world heavyweight champion was looking to bounce back after losing his title to Cain Velasquez and a bout with diverticulitis by taking on Junior Dos Santos.

It was a series that really endeared Lesnar to MMA fans, as it showed just how seriously he took his training and how incredibly strong his mentality to win was. He often talked to his team about “turning chicken shit into chicken salad”, rather than make excuses and it was something that many noticed.

Dos Santos had in-house problems, sending a coach home during the series for trying to take sessions over, while Team Lesnar had a war amongst themselves when a drunk Tony Ferguson made some crude remarks during an argument in the house.

Overall, the series was great entertainment with highly competitive fights and two coaches who wanted to win at all costs.


TEAM RAMPAGE VS TEAM EVANS
(Season 10)

Matt Mitrione debuts on TUF Wed 8/16 on Spike – preshow discussion of  football, injuries and MMA | Capital City Cage Wars MMA Events

One of the most heated coaches rivalries in the show’s history took place in season 10, as the heavyweights season reignited a concept that was beginning to dwindle.

Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad Evans were fierce rivals in the light-heavyweight title picture and agreed to take part as coaches of two heavyweight-filled teams for this season. There was extra spice added to the show as UFC president Dana White made the shock announcement once the teams were revealed that there was still another contender – legendary street fighter Kimbo Slice.

Joining the ranks alongside the likes of Roy Nelson and Brendan Schaub, Kimbo competed under the UFC banner for the only time in his career. Add to that some very heated clashes between the coaches, including the infamous scene where Jackson literally ripped a door to shreds, it’s more than worth your time.


TEAM LIDDELL VS TEAM COUTURE
(Season 1)

10 bizarre, blast-from-the-past revelations after rewatching 'The Ultimate  Fighter 1' in 2020 – The Athletic

Where it all began. 28 seasons later and the first ever season of The Ultimate Fighter is still among the best there is.

Legendary names in the sport like Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Chris Leben, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar and Kenny Florian all debuted in the UFC in this series of the show, coached by the just as legendary light heavyweight Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.

It was the season that introduced us all to the craziness that was the TUF house, as Sanchez paraded around drunk and doing yoga in the rain while Leben showed us just how emotionally charged the whole process can be.

In the end, it also led to one of the greatest fights ever in the finale between Griffin and Bonnar that was so close both fighters were awarded contracts with the UFC despite Griffin getting the nod on the scorecards. Legendary.


TEAM PULVER VS TEAM PENN
(Season 5)

Photo: The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 cast revealed - MMAmania.com

For me, without a doubt the greatest season there is of The Ultimate Fighter. Some of the most iconic moments in the show’s history took place as lightweights matched up, with former champion BJ Penn and Jens Pulver going head-to-head as coaches.

Names like Nate Diaz, Manny Gamburyan, Gray Maynard, Joe Lauzon and Cole Miller were apart of the series, where we saw the good and bad sides of the fighting community. From Penn asking the fighters who absolutely didn’t want to be on Pulver’s team and ten of the 16 putting their hand up, to a fighter being 20lbs overweight, to personal feuds spilling over into the octagon it really had everything.

Several fighters made it into the UFC and enjoyed long stints with the company but it was the season that made me fall in love with the sport and I expect it will do the same for you too.

UFC Vegas 24 Fallout: Whittaker proves he’s the best of the rest

Robert Whittaker confirmed his status as the number one contender and best of the rest in the middleweight division with a dominant win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.

‘The Reaper’ controlled the fight throughout landing 150 significant strikes and four takedowns in the 25 minutes, to waltz to a 50-45 unanimous decision win across the board.

It marked three wins in a row for Bobby Knuckles, who’s only defeat in the middleweight division thus far has come against the current champion Israel Adesanya when he lost the title in 2019.

But the version of Whittaker we have seen since that bout against The Last Stylebender is arguably the best one, with three dominant decision wins in which he’s taken minimal damage and managed to nullify three top ten contenders in succession.

He looks light on his feet, sharp in the striking, is mixing his game up tremendously and most importantly avoiding damage. Prior to his fight with Jared Cannonier at UFC 254, Whittaker had been knocked down five times in three fights and was getting himself into wars.

He was burnt out and needed a break, so after losing his title he did just that. While he got caught with a flush elbow from Till in his return, that can happen against a world class striker that. But he came back and dominated the fight for the most part to win comfortably, then completely strolled through the Cannonier and Gastelum fights.

After the bout he made it clear that he does want a rematch with Adesanya for the title, and called on the UFC to make it happen in a sold-out stadium in Australia in September time. Speaking in his post-fight press conference, Whittaker said directly to Adesanya;

I think we should talk mate, I think it’s about time we crossed paths once again and I think we can get a sold out stadium, they might even open up the borders for Australia in September. Lets make that happen, lets see if we can get a stadium back home.”

Adesanya tweeted out after Whittaker’s impressive win “good job my son” in response, and Whittaker admitted he’s entitled to trash talk after winning the first fight between them. He did say however that he believes he’s got the tools to win a rematch.

I’m going to work hard. I think I’ve got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet and I’ll give him a good run I think.”

The win means that Marvin Vettori is likely to need to wait for his title shot, meaning he will likely take another fight in the mean time. Vettori was rallying for a shot after beating Kevin Holland in the main event at UFC Vegas 23.

The Italian was at cageside for the UFC Vegas 24 main event and afterwards admitted that he feels he’d give Whittaker trouble with his pressure style, but that fight is unlikely to happen with Adesanya’s response essentially accepting that a rematch between himself and Whittaker is inevitable.

Vettori could fight Derek Brunson next, who also beat Kevin Holland just last month to move into the top five of the rankings. That fight could happen around the same time as Adesanya-Whittaker 2 or even on the same card in case someone was to drop out, or would set up the next contender immediately.

UFC Vegas 24: Whittaker vs Gastelum – Main card predictions

The middleweight division continues to move on at UFC Vegas 24 as Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker takes on short-notice replacement Kelvin Gastelum in the main event.

Whittaker knows a win cements his place as the number one contender for a potential rematch with Israel Adesanya, while Gastelum looks to get back to the sort of run that saw him fight Adesanya in an interim title fight two short years ago.

In the co-main event, Jeremy Stephens makes a return to the lightweight division for the first time since 2012 when he takes on heavy hitter Drakkar Klose at 155lbs.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 23 we had a pretty good night, going 9/13 with four perfect picks to take our total up to 279/439 (63.55%) with 125 perfect picks (44.8%).

In a fun 12 fight card we’ll look to improve that here. Having already predicted the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, lets move on to the main card.


Luis Pena (8-3) vs Alexander Munhoz (6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

‘Violent Bob Ross’ makes a return to the octagon to take on a young up and comer looking for his first win in the UFC. Pena was well beaten last time out against Khama Worthy at UFC Vegas 4, while Munhoz stepped in on short notice in August and was dominated by Nasrat Haqparast at UFC Vegas 5.

Pena is a great striker with a good submission game too, while Munhoz is a strict wrestler who if he can’t get the fight down to the ground will undoubtedly struggle. Pena has all the tools to put a good run together, but it just never seems to click for him in the cage. Munhoz suffered a first defeat last time out against one of the better boxers in the division last time out.

It’s a one-sided fight, it’s just hard to know which way it goes because of the weaknesses both men have leading in to the opposite numbers strengths. As it stands though, I think Munhoz is likely to get the takedowns needed to grind out a decision win.
PICK – Alexander Munhoz via Decision

Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-3) vs Jacob Malkoun (4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute powerhouse and a less experienced powerhouse collide in a bout almost certain not to see the judge’s scorecards in the middleweight division. Alhassan has lost each of his last two fights after a two-year absence, getting well beaten by Mounir Lazzez on Fight Island before being starched by Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 14. Malkoun made his debut at UFC 254 and was flattened by Phil Hawes in just 18 seconds.

Both guys are violent strikers with power that puts people to sleep, but Alhassan is by far the more experienced man in the cage. Malkoun’s record is short and a bit stodgy and his biggest claim to fame is that he’s a training partner of Robert Whittaker’s. Both guys have the power to put the other to sleep, but I can’t see past Alhassan getting back on the winning trail with a big, violent stoppage.
PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1

Andrei Arlovski (30-20) vs Chase Sherman (15-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The legendary former world champion makes a quick turnaround to take on a big prospect in the heavyweight division. Andrei Arlovski had won two in a row beating Phillipe Lins and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 13, before being submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Sherman has won four in a row including his UFC return against Isaac Villanueva back in May 2020.

Arlovski is a legendary kickboxer with tremendous punching power and great technique, while Sherman is a bit more of a traditional boxer with great power in his hands. Sherman is a specialist knockout artist, but considering he’s mainly a boxer he gets hit an awful lot.

It’s a tough fight to call, because both men have had questionable chins in the past and while Sherman has more power now Arlovski is the better all-round fighter. Despite that, Arlovski has lost a step in age at 42-years-old now and I think Sherman should be able to get enough volume going to get a win.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision

Jeremy Stephens (28-18 1NC) vs Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight bout in the co-main event as ‘Lil Heathen’ makes a return to 155lbs for the first time in nine years to take on the highly rated Drakkar Klose. Stephens was a contender at featherweight for a while but then went 0-4 (1 NC) in his last five to send him on a spiral back up to lightweight, while Klose had won three in a row before getting knocked out in a crazy fight against Beneil Dariush just over a year ago.

Stephens is a well rounded fighter who often relies on his heavy hands and steady boxing for big wins and it’s come up trumps more often than not. While his recent record is horrendous, he’s only been beaten by the elite of the 145lbs division so it’s hard to see how far he’s fallen if at all. Klose on the other hand is fantastic wrestler who has heavy hands of his own, but usually looks to take fights to the mat and work his ground and pound.

This is a really fun fight, but I can’t see it going particularly well for Stephens. Klose is the more technical fighter of the two, and while both men are durable Stephens was getting hurt by smaller guys than Klose. I think Klose will threaten the takedown and throw his hands too to be able to secure a decision win.
PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision

Robert Whittaker (23-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (17-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

In the main event it’s a fight that was supposed to be for the middleweight title back at UFC 234 two years ago. Whittaker lost his belt to Israel Adesanya and has since won two in a row, defeating Darren Till at UFC Fight Island 3 before nullifying Jared Cannonier at UFC 254. Gastelum’s title shot was taken from him when Whittaker withdrew in need of emergency surgery, and then he lost to Adesanya for the interim title. He then got beaten by Till and by Jack Hermansson via heel hook at UFC Fight Island 2 but bounced back to a win over Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 a few months ago.

Whittaker is an elite level kickboxer who is a master of range, with heavy hands and great footwork. Gastelum on the other hand is a heavy-handed wrestler who has good submission skills too. Whittaker is one of the best middleweights of all-time but he does get hit and rocked quite often. Gastelum has the power to hurt Whittaker with his hands, but he needs to get close enough and land clean to do it and I can’t see that.

‘Bobby Knuckles’ is better in every aspect of MMA and while Gastelum has a remarkable chin that will likely hold out, I cannot look past Whittaker waltzing to a decision win once again.
PICK – Robert Whittaker via Decision

Kelvin Gastelum to try and run it back to his prime at UFC Vegas 24

The youngest man ever to win The Ultimate Fighter, Kelvin Gastelum’s career has seen highs and lows over the last eight years.

He won the competition as a middleweight, then moved down to welterweight immediately. He struggled to make the weight, missing by as much as 10lbs before his defeat to Tyron Woodley and then being forced to move back up.

When he moved back up he stopped Tim Kennedy, Victor Belfort (overturned to a NC) and Michael Bisping before beating Jacare Souza too to set himself up a title fight with Robert Whittaker.

When that fight fell through because of Whittaker being in need of emergency surgery on fight night, Whittaker was installed in an interim title fight against Israel Adesanya – who got bumped up to the main event spot at UFC 234 in Whittaker and Gastelum’s absence.

That fight would go down as one of the greatest in middleweight history, with The Last Stylebender and Gastelum going through an incredible 25 minute war. The fight ended in defeat, with a stoppage loss only saved by the end of the final round.

His stock wasn’t harmed by the defeat though, because it was well accepted that Adesanya was and is just that good.

That defeat caused a bit of a spiral though as he failed to build on that momentum in his next fight against Darren Till, failing to really pull the trigger and losing a split decision at UFC 244. Till was making his debut in the division and was expected to make waves, so the defeat was once again not looked on too poorly.

But then he fought Jack Hermansson at UFC Fight Island 2 and got embarrassed. After just 78 seconds, ‘Joker’ locked up a heel hook and forced Gastelum to submit for only the second time in his professional career.

After working so hard to build up to a title fight, he lost all the momentum behind him in three fights without ever getting the undisputed title shot he was scheduled for.

He finally got back on the winning trail at UFC 258 with a dominant decision win over Ian Heinisch and then proceeded to say he was ready for any call up should one of the upcoming middleweight bouts fall out.

In the end they both did, but it was Paulo Costa who withdrew first and Gastelum was quick to throw his name in the hat to finally get that bout against Whittaker from two years previous.

Whittaker is flying and back in the run of things after his own defeat to Adesanya, but this bout is now more about Gastelum’s redemption than Whittaker’s.

The Aussie has cemented his contender status with wins over Till and Jared Cannonier and is already established as #1 in the rankings. Gastelum though needs this win to be talked about in a positive way once again.

Defeat puts him back to where he was before the Heinisch win, clawing his way back into the positives against lower-ranked opposition and just as an after-thought in the title picture. A win though, and he’s right amongst the conversation.

While it shouldn’t be enough to outright earn him a title fight against Adesanya considering the run Marvin Vettori is on at the moment, it would likely set him up for another big contender fight which would likely see him get said shot with a win.

He needs to find the form of his prime run in the middleweight division where he won four of five with powerful striking, good ground game and cardio that could go the distance. He has the skillset and mentality, but he’s always fallen just short against the very top guys and that must change at UFC Vegas 24.

Why the only fight to make for the middleweight title is Adesanya vs Whittaker 2

The middleweight division is as hot as it’s been in several years right now and yet barring a huge shock at UFC Vegas 24, there is still only one fight to make for the championship.

Robert Whittaker has lost just once since 2014, against Israel Adesanya in a bout that saw him lose the 185lbs title of the world back in October 2019.

In that fight he was the underdog going in and was impressively knocked out in the second round, with many people believing that could be the end of his career at the top.

He had been suffering with burnout from non-stop fighting for years, to the point where before his fight with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234 he was forced to withdraw just hours before the event with a hernia and a twisted and collapsed bowel which needed emergency surgery.

After losing to Adesanya, Whittaker took ten months off from the sport. He withdrew from a bout against Jared Cannonier and instead just opted to spend time with his family and really heal up. He returned in July on Fight Island to take on the division’s newest contender Darren Till.

He completely nullified the Brit and despite being knocked down in the first round, he eased to a dominant decision win in his first fight back without the belt around his waist.

He followed that up by finally taking the fight against Cannonier, with both fighters believing that a win would see them named as the next contender to Adesanya’s crown. The champion had publicly admitted that Cannonier would get the next shot with a win, so when Whittaker comfortably despatched of him via a unanimous decision too he was expected to get his rematch.

Instead of that rematch though, Adesanya opted to attempt to become a double champion by moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz. He made the move but got comfortably beaten by the legendary Polish power and now must come back down to 185lbs to show everyone he can still reign supreme in his natural weight class.

Awaiting him is a plethora of candidates looking to take his crown. Darren Till is still a win away from a title shot in the champion’s eyes, but a broken collar bone is likely to rule him out of the next fight. Marvin Vettori is now on a five-fight win streak after his win over Kevin Holland, but Adesanya doesn’t seem to have much interest in fighting the Italian.

You can maybe argue that Vettori is worth the shot first since his defeat came back in 2016 and both he and Adesanya have improved exponentially since then, but the only fight we want now is Adesanya and Whittaker.

This weekend ‘The Reaper’ takes on Gastelum in a fight he didn’t need to take. He’s said several times now that he’s not concerned with chasing his loss to Adesanya, it’s more about getting the title back.

A win against Gastelum would mean he’s followed up consecutive top five opponents with a short-notice replacement who is considered to be one of the more dangerous fighters in the division. He will have earned the bout and he will undoubtedly be a bigger draw than Vettori, which will entice Adesanya more.

Should he lose, it will only strengthen Vettori’s case but it may just mean that we don’t see Adesanya for a while. But watching his last two performances, he has been stellar. He looks sharp, quick, powerful, agile and arguably better than ever before.

The rematch between the two best welterweights in the world is what the fans and the division needs, Whittaker just needs to do his job at UFC Vegas 24 and keep winning.

Kelvin Gastelum replaces Paulo Costa to fight Robert Whittaker at UFC Vegas 24

The middleweight division run-in has hit a hiccup, as Paulo Costa has withdrawn from his fight against Robert Whittaker and been replaced by Kelvin Gastelum.

The two title contenders had been due to meet in a championship eliminator on April 17th in the main event, but the Brazilian withdrew from the bout with flu-like symptoms a month out – with his coach claiming that he is still suffering from COVID-19 complications.

It means that Gastelum steps in on 32 days’ notice to fight the former champion, two years after they were originally supposed to do battle.

Whittaker and Gastelum were supposed to fight for the undisputed middleweight championship back at UFC 234 in February 2019, only for Whittaker to withdraw from the bout just hours before the event was due to take place following a hernia and twisted and collapsed bowel which required emergency surgery.

The event was instead headlined by Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva and when Adesanya got the win, it set up the classic fight between himself and Gastelum just a few months later for the interim title – which Adesanya won via decision after a five round war.

Gastelum would spiral following that defeat, losing to Darren Till and Jack Hermansson too to completely find himself out of the title picture. He recently got back on the winning trail though, with a unanimous decision win over Ian Heinisch at UFC 258 back in February of this year.

Whittaker on the other hand would lose the title to Adesanya later in 2019, but has bounced back from that defeat with back-to-back wins over Till and Jared Cannonier to earn himself the number one contender’s position again.

However with Adesanya moving up to unsuccessfully challenge for the light heavyweight title, the division was put on hold and ‘Bobby Knuckles’ agreed to fight Adesanya’s most recent challenger Costa to solidify his position as the number one contender and stay active.

With Gastelum stepping on to save the fight, Whittaker gets his wish to remain active in Adesanya’s absence while Gastelum jumping the queue to get back into title contention following his slump.

The fight will be a five-round main event and is currently scheduled to take place at the UFC Apex on April 17th 2021.

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Results (Highlights)

**Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick was cancelled hours before the event after Robertson withdrew due to a non-covid related illness.**

**Jim Miller vs Bobby Greene was cancelled the day before the event due to Greene collapsing following his weight cut.**


EARLY PRELIMS

Gabe Green def Phil Rowe via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the fight as Rowe opens with a leg kick and flicks out some long punches to use his range. Both men exchange leg kicks but Rowe lands a couple of nice right hands. Green looking to go first with his strikes but Rowe using his footwork well to step away. The two clinch up and Green gets a takedown, but Rowe quickly reverses the position and ends up in mount. Rowe looks for a few submissions but Green defends well and eventually gets back up to his feet and goes for a submission of his own. Rowe defends it well and eventually gets back up, with the two clinching against the cage to end the round. 10-9 Rowe.

Fast start to the round for Green as he comes out with a heavy low kick that drops Rowe! He gets on with some ground and pound but Rowe gets up quickly and the two start exchanging heavy strikes. Green throws a body kick but it hits Rowe in the cup and there is a short pause in the fight. The two come back and Green lands a huge right hook that wobbles Rowe! He looks for the kill with big shots against the cage but then accidentally lands another low blow that allows a pause for Rowe to recover. They come out swinging again and Green lands some nice shots before Rowe lands a flying knee and clinches up quickly. They break and meet in the middle and Rowe lands a huge right hand but Green eats it and keeps coming forward. Green throws another heavy leg kick and Rowe drops again, so Green throws some ground and pound until the end of the round. 19-19.

Green lands a big leg kick early in the round and immediately Rowe starts hobbling and limping. Green tries to throw a head kick but Rowe catches it and shoots for the takedown and gets it. Green tries to get up and transitions into a leg lock but doesn’t really know what he’s doing there and as they try to get up again, Rowe trips him and gets another takedown. Green fighting off his back and not really trying to get back to his feet weirdly, so Rowe continues riding him from mount until Green finally gets up with 90 seconds to go. Green throws a big leg kick again that drops Rowe but then he steps in for ground and pound and Rowe is able to clinch up and battle until the end of the round. I think the top control has won this for Rowe, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)

A tactical start to this one with both men flowing between stances, with Gutierrez feinting a lot while Ewell is flicking out right hands. Ewell lands a flush left hand but Gutierrez eats it and the tactical battle continues, with some leg kicks beginning to be thrown. Not much action as we enter the final minute, with Ewell on his bike and circling. Gutierrez rushes in to close the distance and they clinch against the cage, which allows Gutierrez to land a nice knee to the body and he’s opened a cut above Ewell’s eye. We enter the final 10 seconds and Ewell dips for hook and Gutierrez counters with a big head kick that drops him! He charges for the finish but the buzzer may well have saved him. 10-9 Gutierrez.

Ewell still looks a little wobbly as they come out for the second round and Gutierrez is landing some nice leg kicks again that are taking their toll on Ewell’s movement. Ewell is trying to counter Gutierrez’s striking with his range but he’s not landing anything of note. Gutierrez’s lack of volume costing him again at the moment as Ewell continues to move and uses his left jab well to land more frequently. Ewell pushes forward and forces an exchange, catches a kick and gets a takedown with 40 seconds to go in the round. He looks for a heel hook and has it in deep but Gutierrez is able to escape as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Gutierrez comes out strong and is throwing heavy leg kicks again and even gets Ewell to acknowledge the pain. Gutierrez starting to up the pace a little and pushes forward and lands a huge spin kick that Ewell eats. More leg kicks and Ewell is struggling to stand now, so he starts landing some big punches that have Ewell wobbling. More leg kicks from Gutierrez and Ewell is really struggling to move around, but he doesn’t have the power to put Gutierrez away. Ewell looks for a takedown late on but Gutierrez stuffs it and ends the round looking for a submission. Great round for him and that should be a win for Gutierrez.

Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:18)

Quick start to the round from both women as they stand and exchange before Martin grabs for a clinch and Viana pulls guard immediately. Viana starts throwing lots of elbows on the ground and is moving constantly to prevent Martin from holding her down. She throws up a triangle and it’s in tightttt! Martin tries to escape but Viana grabs and arm and starts throwing elbows to the head with the triangle still synched in. Martin is still fighting it and stands up and tries to slam Viana, which just makes the triangle tighter. She refuses to tap and Viana starts attacking the arm, first going for an Americana and then she transitions to a full armbar before she gets the tap. What a performance from the Brazilian!

Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Immediate pressure from Muhammad who walks straight over to Lima and starts pressuring him. He shoots for a takedown against the cage but Lima defends it will and they separate. Nice leg kicks in response from Lima land well, but Muhammad continues to come forward with big, looping hooks and some body work. Straight left hand lands from Muhammad as he fakes the level change and he’s controlling the pace of this fight. Takedown attempt from Muhammad again and he gets it in deep but Lima is able to defend it once more. Lima throws a big right hand that snaps the head back of Muhammad and gets his attention. Muhammad responds with a beautiful combination of jabs, hooks and body shots to take back control and see the round out. 10-9.

Muhammad comes out and once again looks to control the range by backing Lima up against the cage and throwing nice combinations. Lima throwing out some jabs of his own but Muhammad really dominating the striking exchanges early on. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad but easily defended by Lima to keep the fight on the feet. Big overhand right from Muhammad lands but Lima responds with a calf kick that wobbles him! Lima throws two more in the exchanges that follow but Muhammad is trying to grit his teeth and keep going, pushing the pace still. Muhammad’s pace starting to take it’s toll on Lima, who’s breathing heavy, and he shoots in for a takedown which Lima defends again. Round ends with the two clinching against the cage, in what should go Muhammad’s way. 20-18.

Lima opens the round with a leg kick and then a head kick, but Muhammad comes back with some big shots of his own. Muhammad shoots in for a takedown again and manages to take the back while standing, but Lima defends really well against the cage. Muhammad pouring on the pressure now and landing some solid strikes against the cage before shooting for another takedown that gets stuffed. Lima breathing really heavy now and eats a huge right hand but Muhammad just keeps coming forward, landing jabs and one-twos to the face. Lima goes for a single leg takedown but he’s exhausted and Muhammad easily stuffs it and starts pouring on more shots. Muhammad shoots for a takedown again and finally gets it with a minute to go in the fight. Muhammad takes the back but Lima stands with him on top of him still as Muhammad reigns down punches until the end of the round. 30-27, great performance.

Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:53)

An immediate takedown shot from Vieira allows him in deep and he picks Hernandez up and slams him down immediately. He ends up on top and starts pressuring for an arm triangle immediately, then switches to take the back. He looks to crank the neck, but Hernandez turns and allows him into mount before defending an armbar attempt and getting back to the feet. Hernandez pours the pressure on and starts landing bombs and Vieira is hurt! Hernandez is landing huge strikes and now he’s going for a choke but the buzzer goes and saves him! What a round! 10-9 Hernandez.

Second round starts and Hernandez knows that Vieira is out on his feet already. He’s completely exhausted and Vieira is throwing kicks, elbows and hooks looking to take his head off. A huge elbow lands from Hernandez and opens up a massive cut on his face! Vieira is out on his feet and shoots for a takedown but it’s easily defended by Hernandez, who syncs in a guillotine choke and forces Vieira to tap out! Unbelievable!

MAIN CARD

Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 3 (4:17)

No feeling out process in this one as Pitolo comes out and immediately throws a calf kick, a head kick and then a combination of strikes that ends with an uppercut. They clinch up against the cage and Pitolo seems like the stronger man off the bat and eventually gets a takedown. Pitolo completely dominating on the ground and landing some heavy ground and pound as Marquez works his way back up to his knees, before Pitolo looks to drag him back down again. He gets up again and Pitolo just starts grinding him against the cage but Marquez throws him off and then sinks in a guillotine! Pitolo stays standing and is able to fight the hands to break the grip before Marquez lands a heavy right hand to end the round. 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round starts out on the feet and Marquez looking to take the centre and establish a striking battle. He gets the better of the first couple of exchanges and then a kick from Marquez grazes the cup and the fight is paused for a short while. Fight resumes and Marquez comes marching forward again and slips, which allows Pitolo to grab onto his body and start wrestling again. He rag dolls Marquez for a few seconds before a striking exchange and change of levels allows Marquez to go for that guillotine again! It looks like it’s in really tight but Pitolo rolls through and escapes. Some good ground and pound from Marquez but Pitolo explodes up and is able to get on top himself once again. The rest of the round has Pitolo landing solid ground and pound and searching for submissions, 20-18 Pitolo.

Marquez comes out hard in the final round knowing he needs the finish. Lots of heavy strikes from Marquez land hard and Pitolo is looking tired. Body kick lands and Marquez lands big against the cage with a spinning elbow! Pitolo moves away but he’s rocked and shoots for a takedown, which Marquez defends with a guillotine again. Pitolo eventually gets the takedown and moves for a submission but Marquez escapes and starts landing huge strikes again. Big three punch combo rocks Pitolo and then he lands a big knee to the head. Pitolo shoots again but Marquez stuffs it and sinks in a d’arce choke for the win! What a round! Unbelievable!

Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this fight as both fighters meet in the middle of the octagon and exchange before Simon shoots and scores a takedown. He immediately starts throwing big ground and pound strikes and as Kelleher looks to escape he jumps back on him and takes the back. Kelleher has a big cut above his eye as Simon squeezes him and looks to grind him. More ground and pound before Kelleher eventually gets to his feet, with the cut really bothering him. More pressure from Simon, who gets another takedown before Kelleher fights his way back up before the end of the round. 10-9 Simon.

Another fast start for Simon as he comes in quickly with some jabs and lovely uppercut to the body. Kelleher responds with a front kick to the face that snaps Simon’s head back, but he continues to come forward and lands another body shot. Another big front kick to the face lands from Kelleher but Simon eats it and walks forward for a takedown, but Keller is able to get back to his feet quickly. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and check them well, before Simon shoots in for a takedown and gets it – avoiding the guillotine attempt from Kelleher. They clinch against the cage and Simon throws a big spinning elbow on the break that just misses. Fun round, 20-18 Simon.

Bit of a slower start to this one, with Simon happy to circle on the outside as Kelleher comes forward. Some nice upwards elbows from Simon look good before he ducks under an attempted elbow from Kelleher and clinches up. Simon changes levels against the cage and takes him down, with Kelleher looking for a guillotine but Simon gets out easily and starts landing nice ground and pound to the face. Kelleher goes for a kimura from the bottom but Simon defends it by reversing the position and going for his own kimura, which allows Kelleher to scramble back to his feet. Simon keeps him against the cage and takes the back, landing big knees and just dominating the position and then holding his own in the striking for what should be a comfortable win. 30-27 Simon.

Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Heinisch comes out early and quickly and lands a leg kick followed by shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Gastelum quickly gets to his feet and rolls through to end up on top, so Heinisch attacks a kimura. He’s got the arm extended but Gastelum stays calm and is able to escape it. He takes Heinisch down again and ends up in mount, but another kimura attempt allows him to get towards the cage and kick off it to escape. Clinch against the cage and Gastelum changes levels to score takedowns, although he is unable to keep Heinisch down. Both men miss a head kick as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum.

Heinisch looking to land heavy shots early in this second round with wild hooks and cracks Gastelum twice, but he just eats it and walks forward. Flying knee lands clean from Heinisch, but Gastelum catches the leg too and ends up with a takedown. Heinisch gets back to his feet and Gastelum lands a leg kick, then clinches against the cage again. Another shot from Gastelum as he gets a body lock and pushes Heinisch all the way back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Gastelum, but Heinisch trying to make it a dirty fight with more wild exchanges. Wild hook misses and Gastelum shoots and drives to the cage again to end the round, 20-18 Kelvin.

Gastelum starts the round with a lazy shot that is easily defended by Heinisch, who then shoots for his own takedown and gets it before Gastelum scrambles back to his feet quickly. Gastelum using his jab and straight left hand more in this round, as Heinisch goes for a flying knee that gets caught once again and ends up with Gastelum on top of him. Beautiful roll through from Heinisch sees him reverse the position and take Gastelum’s back. He lands some nice ground and pound as he searches for a submission but Gastelum is able to reverse and ends up on top before they get back to the feet and clinch. Looping left hook by Gastelum misses and and Heinisch shoots and gets one last takedown, although Gastelum reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own to end on top. 30-27, he’s back in the win column.

Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight from Grasso as both women throw out a few feeler strikes before clinching up against the cage and coming to a stalemate before separating. Sharp one-two from Grasso lands flush on the chin of Barber and forces her to move in for another clinch position. Nice elbow lands in the clinch from Grasso before Barber throws some nice knees in the clinch. Big elbow and left hand on the break from Barber lands clean but Grasso eats it. Both girls lands huge shots that land clean on each other before they clinch up and see the round out. 10-9 Grasso, but it’s close.

Barber throwing a lot of feints from way out of range that are serving little to no purpose other than wasting energy right now. Short exchange leads to a clinch before a quick separation before both women lands huge right hands at the same time. Barber seems to be rocked a little more than Grasso from it and they clinch up again. Barber lands an elbow on the break before they clinch up once again. Barber separates and throws a straight left hand that lands clean before a right hook follows it up. Grasso ends up on her back and Barber goes hunting for ground and pound, but Grasso transitions with an armbar attempt then switches to a head-and-arm choke before taking the back and ending the round in dominant fashion. 20-18 Grasso.

Barber comes out in the third throwing wild strikes with no real end goal to them as Grasso keeps out of range and looks calm. Grasso eats a right hand and then they clinch against the cage, with Grasso landing big knees to the body. Nice trip by Barber gets her into top position and she lands a huge elbow on the ground. A few more shots and Grasso gets back to her feet. Barber lands a knee in the clinch and keeps throwing big hooks and power punches that have got Grasso wobbling. Another clinch as Barber fails with a takedown attempt, with Barber throwing big elbows from the clinch too. Final 30 seconds and Barber going hell for leather but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the win. 29-28 Grasso.

Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns via Knockout, Round 3 (0:34)

Crazy start to the fight as Burns comes out early and lands a huge right hand that rocks Usman! Burns pours on the pressure early but Usman defends himself with a jab and some composure. Burns goes for a head kick but Usman catches it and sends him to the mat, but then doesn’t follow him down. The next two minutes are spent with Burns on his back tempting Usman to come to the ground, but instead he just kicks the legs and throws body shots. They get back to the feet and Usman lands a stiff jab several times and stuffs a Burns takedown attempt to end the round. Fun stuff! 10-9 either way, but to Usman for me. Just.

Slower start to this round from both fighters, as Burns takes the centre of the octagon again. Usman’s jab still landing nicely, but Burns coming forward with an overhand right that seems to stun Usman whenever it lands. The jab is having a big effect, and Usman throws a big overhand right that lands flush and hurts Burns! He follows up with more hooks and jabs and Burns is wobbling bad. Burns shoots for the takedown but Usman stuffs it and lads another jab that drops Burns. Burns tries to tempt Usman down to the floor again but Usman makes him stand again and sees the round out with his jab. Huge round for Usman! 20-18 Usman.

Third round starts and Usman comes to take the centre early. Big left jab lands clean and drops Burns once again! He lands a huge overhand right that puts Burns’ lights out on the ground and keeps punching as Burns tries to stand up. A few more shots and Herb Dean waves the fight off! Huge knockout win for the Nigerian Nightmare! Wow!

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Main Card Predictions

The first of six UFC title fights in the next six events takes place this weekend as Kamaru Usman finally defends his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two have seen the fight collapse twice before, having originally been scheduled to meet at UFC 251 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Burns out, before injuries to Usman meant their December date didn’t come to fruition either.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.

Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card and with the prelims already predicted, lets get on the main card!


Maki Pitolo (13-7) vs Julian Marquez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight bout between Pitolo and the returning Marquez, who makes his first appearance in the octagon since July 2018.

Pitolo is 1-3 in the UFC, including losses in his last two against Darren Stewart and Impa Kasanganay, while Marquez lost a split decision to Alessio Di Chirico before tearing his latissimum dorsi muscle and being told he’d never fight again.

Pitolo is a good grappler and good striker, pretty well rounded all over while Marquez was a relatively hittable striker back in the day. The fact he hasn’t fought for so long is worrying but he has a power advantage from what he had in the past and with Pitolo happy to take a punch to give a punch, that could land him in trouble. It’s tough to call, but I’ll lean with the power of Marquez.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2

Ricky Simon (17-3) vs Brian Kelleher (22-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A quick turnaround for Simon as he takes on ‘Bam Bam’ Kelleher in the featherweight division.

Simon got a win on Fight Island last month with a fantastic performance and submission win against Gaetano Pirrello, while Kelleher went 3-1 in 2020 including a 39 second submission win over Ray Rodriguez back in October.

Simon is a fantastic wrestler, who applies phenomenal pressure and looks to work his submission game once he gets down there while Kelleher is a powerful striker who has a violent guillotine in his locker too. Kelleher’s wrestling isn’t awful, but Simon has a huge advantage in that area. He has shown a wobbly chin before and Kelleher has finished all but one of his wins in the UFC. With that said, Simon’s wrestling is so good I do expect he’ll get the takedowns in a safe way to avoid the guillotine chokes and dominate from top position for a decision win.
PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision

Jim Miller (32-15) vs Bobby Green (27-11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Two UFC veterans come together in this one in what should prove to be a relatively exciting fight at lightweight. Miller went 1-2 in 2020 losing to Scott Holtzman in February, beating Roosevelt Roberts in June and then losing to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252, while Green went 3-1 in 2020 with wins over Clay Guida, Lando Vannata and Alan Patrick before a controversial loss to Thiago Moises.

Miller is a submission monster, with 18 wins coming by way of tap-out in his career. He’s excellent on the mat but he comes up against Green who has been excellent on the feet in his most recent fights but has also shown fantastic grappling defence and solid wrestling.

Green has power to hurt Miller and a speed advantage, so I expect Green should be able to out land Miller on the feet an keep the fight standing with his takedown defence so I expect a decision win.
PICK – Bobby Green via Decision

Kelvin Gastelum (15-6 1NC) vs Ian Heinisch (14-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight clash that will see two men battling to get back on track to work their way up the rankings in the 185lbs division. Gastelum put together a decent run at middleweight before losing to Israel Adesanya in the interim title fight, before losing to Darren Till and then getting ankle-picked by Jack Hermansson in July in just 78 seconds. Heinisch lost two in a row at the back end of 2019 before bouncing back with a win over Gerald Meerschaert in June.

Gastelum is a heavy handed striker with a good wrestling background, while Heinisch is very similar in style. In a very even match up, the difference between the two is generally in the cardio department where Gastelum rarely gasses out. Heinisch is the crisper striker of the two but Gastelum has a speed advantage and is coming back with a point to prove after three losses in a row.

It’s a really close fight and there’s not much in it either way, but I think Gastelum’s power and speed could be enough to get him a close decision win once the fight gets into the later rounds.
PICK – Kelvin Gastelum via Decision

Maycee Barber (8-1) vs Alexa Grasso (12-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The return of Maycee Barber is the co-main event of this event as she takes on Alexa Grasso in the women’s flyweight division. Barber was 8-0 before losing her last fight to Roxanne Modafferi, where she tore her ACL in the second round and got dominated on the ground. Grasso has alternated wins and losses since 2016, with a win in her last bout against Ji Yeon Kim in August last year.

Both women are great strikers with Barber having a big power advantage, but Grasso’s boxing is arguably more polished. Barber is bigger physically, stronger, faster and just has a lot of advantages in this bout. While Grasso is a good talent in her own right, she’s been set up to fail in this one.

Barber should return to the octagon with a statement win here, and I expect a one-sided display for ‘The Future’.
PICK – Maycee Barber via Knockout, Round 2

Kamaru Usman (17-1) vs Gilbert Burns (19-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The welterweight division can finally move on from this match up after this weekend as ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ takes on his long-time teammate Gilbert Burns for the title. Usman is undefeated in the UFC and has won 16 fights in a row in total, defeating Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington before dominating Jorge Masvidal last time out. Burns is on a six-fight win streak of his own, with wins over Demian Maia and Woodley himself in his last two fights to set this bout up.

The two trained together for many years under Henry Hooft but when this fight was made, Usman went to work with Justin Gaethje and Trevor Wittman which means his striking will almost certainly have improved while he’s been away. Burns is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion who has started leaning on his knockout power more in recent times, because he’s so confident on the ground.

He’s going to need that grappling more than ever in this one, with Usman’s style always to back his opponent up to the cage then use his incredible physicality to get a takedown and dominate on the ground. He showed in his fight with Covington that he has a great chin and knockout power too and while Burns will cause him problems from the bottom, Usman is a level above any welterweight in the world and should win this one.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision