Tag Archives: Kennedy Nzechukwu

UFC Vegas 58: Dos Anjos vs Fiziev – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex arena for another UFC Vegas card, headlined this time by huge lightweight contenders as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev in the main event.

The number seven ranked 155-pounder takes on the number 11 ranked 155-pounder, but they’re backed up by a solid card this weekend including one UFC debutant and a list of experienced talent too.

Last time out at UFC 276 e went 8/11 (we don’t count no contests) with two perfect picks, moving us to 649/1009 (64.32%) with 279 perfect picks (42.99%). You can check out our total picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Ronnie Lawrence (8-1) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov (9-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight to start the card here. Lawrence is on a five-fight win streak including a KO win in his UFC debut against Vince Cachero before earning a decision over Leomana Martinez at UFC 271 last time out. Kakhramonov on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, including a submission win in his debut last time out over Trevin Giles.

Lawrence and Kakhramonov are both grapplers by trade, with great wrestling and some good submission skills in their arsenal too. However both are capable of keeping up a high pace and can land a good volume of strikes too, which is what this fight may turn into. There, Lawrence has a slight advantage and it could prove pivotal in this match up.

Kakhramonov showed a vulnerability when forced against the cage in his last bout and while he arguably has the power advantage, Lawrence seems like the most durable of the two too. Expect both men to keep it standing until an opportunity presents itself for a takedown, but Lawrence should be able to use his volume and pressure to force his opponent backwards and mix in takedown threats to earn the decision win.
PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision

Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-3) vs Karl Roberson (9-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An interesting light heavyweight bout up next. Nzechukwu started his UFC career 4-1, but has lost each of his last two fights after getting KO’d by Da Un Jung at UFC Vegas 42 before dropping a split decision to Nicolae Negumereanu at UFC 272 most recently. Roberson has lost his last three in a row, getting finished by all of Marvin Vettori (UFC Vegas 2), Brendan Allen (UFC 261) and Khalil Rountree.

Nzechukwu is a volume heavy striker who tends to walk forward head first and pressure opponents until they crumble, while Roberson is a solid all-rounder who can’t game plan to save his life. He grapples with grapplers, tries to jiu-jitsu with jiu-jitsu players and doesn’t use his striking game nearly enough. That’s a big problem against Nzechukwu, who will be the much bigger man coming into this fight.

Roberson’s volume isn’t great and if he chooses to just stand with his back against the cage and exchange strikes he’ll likely get stopped. Nzechukwu must let his hands go more often and continue to come forward, and he should be able to land enough to secure a close decision win.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision



David Onama (9-1) vs Garrett Armfield (8-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super short notice bout makes it to the card at the last minute. Onama suffered defeat in his UFC debut on short notice to Mason Jones, but bounced back with a big win over Gabriel Benitez when he KO’d him in the first round. Armfield on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak and makes his UFC debut in this bout, with seven finishes in his eight career wins.

Armfield is a well-rounded fighter with great hand speed and power, to go with some excellent wrestling abilities and a great fight IQ. Onama alternatively is a brilliant kickboxer with excellent power and speed, with explosiveness for days and a decent ground game too. These two guys have fought before, with Onama earning a victory via unanimous decision during their amateur days.

Onama has the striking advantage by a distance, but in the grappling he’s at a big disadvantage. His defensive wrestling and grappling isn’t great and Armfield has the ability to step in and wrestle for 15 minutes. The issue is he’s coming in on three days’ notice against a guy who has beaten him before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him claim a decision win, but it’s a huge ask and I expect Onama to work the body and use his length to claim another win.
PICK – David Onama via Decision

UFC 272: Covington vs Masvidal – Prelims predictions

A super highly anticipated grudge match main event at UFC 272 is finally upon us as Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal will clash in the welterweight division.

‘Chaos’ and ‘Gamebred’ will finally settle their very personal differences in the octagon after their friendship went sour several years ago, but while fans are hoping for a scrap it could actually be a bit of a mistmatch.

We’ll also see a five-round co-main event that was put together on short-notice as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Renato Moicano at a 160-pound catchweight.

The last time we made picks was at UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill a couple of weeks ago and we did pretty well, going 9/12 with three perfect picks to move to 548/852 (64.32%) with 234 perfect picks (42.7%).

Check out our full record for our predictions to date here.

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims, here are our prelims picks.


Maryna Moroz (10-3) vs Mariya Agapova (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun bout in the women’s flyweight division opens up the prelims of this card. Moroz hasn’t fought for almost two years, but won her last two fights while Agapova earned a rear-naked choke win over Sabina Mazo at UFC Vegas 39 in her last time out.

Moroz is a primary boxer, who has got credentials as a national boxing champion and boxing coach in her homeland. Agapova on the other hand is also a strong striker, but she has really developed her grappling game in recent years to really round out her game. Her cardio has been a problem in the past, because he style is do-or-die and she tries to fly through her opponents as quickly as possible.

She does have a pretty big advantage when it comes to the grappling game, and she’s also arguably more powerful on the feet, but Moroz is the more skilled fighter when it comes to the striking department. But with two years out, plus the grappling advantage for Agapova, I expect the younger fighter to be able to claim a win and maybe even a finish via ground-and-pound.
PICK – Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 2

Nicolae Negumereanu (11-1) vs Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An intriguing light heavyweight fight up next between two guys currently in purgatory between the rankings and the rubbish. Negumereanu has won his last two, earning a split decision over Aleksa Camur at UFC Vegas 29 before a KO against Isaac Villanueva at UFC Vegas 41, while Nzechukwu was KO’d violently by Da Un Jung at UFC Vegas 42 last time out. He steps in on one months notice for this bout.

Negumereanu is a good wrestler, who looks to press forward for takedowns and then try and earn points on the ground with control and ground and pound. Nzechukwu is a good defensive wrestler with some solid cardio and boxing when attacking, plus a good chin. If his chin has recovered from his KO loss last time out, then he should win this fight relatively comfortably.

Despite his slower starts, his volume is usually enough to keep fighters away and he is also a much bigger fighter in the cage. He has a big height and reach advantage, as well as power and striking. If Negumereanu is able to get the fight down he’ll have a good chance, but I think Nzechukwu should claim the win here from distance.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision



Marina Rodriguez (15-1-2) vs Yan Xiaonan (13-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A potential title eliminator in the women’s strawweight division here. Marina Rodriguez is on a brilliant three-fight win streak, with a KO over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 before main event decision wins against Michelle Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 26 and Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 39. Xiaonan on the other hand saw a six-fight win streak in the UFC snapped by Carla Esparza last time out at UFC Vegas 27 when she got KO’d.

Rodriguez is a sensational boxer with excellent takedown defence, solid cardio and really good power in her hands too. Xiaonan on the other hand is also a very positive striker with good power speed. It’s highly unlikely that either of these fighters will be going for takedowns here, so keep your eyes peeled on this one.

Xiaonan is basically coming up against a bigger version of herself, who also has good skills in the clinch and that’s why I’ve got Rodriguez to win this. She’s just as quick but also more powerful, has more variety from range and has a size advantage. I expect it to be relatively close, but Rodriguez will land the more noticeable shots and claim the decision win.
PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Decision

Jalin Turner (11-5) vs Jamie Mullarkey (14-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A super fun lightweight fight in the featured prelim bout of the night. Turner is on a three-fight finishing streak with a knockout over Josh Culibao before submission wins against Brok Weaver and then Uros Medic at UFC 266 most recently. Mullarkey on the other hand is on a two-fight KO streak himself, beating Khama Worthy at UFC 260 and then stopped Devonte Smith at UFC Vegas 38 most recently.

Turner is a rangy power puncher with some improved wrestling in recent fights, while Mullarkey looks to bully his way into range and then fire off his cement blocks called hands to KO his opponents. Combined, these two fighters have managed 18 career wins via knockout, so expect someone to go to sleep in this one.

Turner has a big size advantage with this one and arguably hits harder than anyone else Mullarkey has faced off against. If Mullarkey looks to come forward as recklessly as he has in the past, then his chin will be tested like never before. He doesn’t have the wrestling to lean on either because of Turner’s improvements and because of the range advantage, I expect him to land heavy sooner and claim a big knockout win.
PICK – Jalin Turner via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 42: Holloway vs Rodriguez – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX centre in Las Vegas this week for a banger of a featherweight main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.

Holloway is considered the people’s champion of the division and wants to show the world why he is rightfully considered as the number one contender for the title, while Rodriguez is desperate to finally fulfil his potential after being considered a future champion for years.

It’s a very fun card also including the likes of Ben Rothwell, Cynthia Calvillo, Marc Diakiese, Thiago Moises and Khaos Williams.

Last week at UFC 268 we had a brilliant night, securing 13/14 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 471/730 (64.52%) with 197 perfect picks (41.83%).

We’ll look to improve on that this week starting with the early prelims here.


Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) vs Da-Un Jung (14-2-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Very fun light heavyweight fight to open the card here. Nzechukwu is on a three-fight win streak, with a TKO win over Danilo Marques most recently at UFC Vegas 30 while Jung is undefeated since 2015 with a draw against Sam Alvey the only thing preventing a 14-fight win streak. He picked up a dominant win over William Knight last time out at UFC Vegas 23.

Nzechukwu is a powerful pressure fighter, with a formidable gas tank that has got him through a lot of tough situations so far in his career. Jung on the other hand is an awkward striker, who uses his physicality well and has good takedown skills. That could be a problem for Nzechukwu, who has struggled with takedowns in the past.

These two fighters are highly unlikely to rip up any trees in the division but this should be a fun fire-fight. Nzechukwu will walk forward and while he may get taken down, I think he will get back up and really wear on Jung to land heavy late on and take a decision win.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision

Marc Diakiese (14-4) vs Rafael Alves (19-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another fun fight next up on the early prelims in the lightweight division. Diakiese suffered defeat last time out to Rafael Fiziev at UFC Fight Island 2 over a year ago, while Alves was beaten in his UFC debut by Damir Ismagulov at UFC Vegas 27 in May to snap his five-fight win streak.

The Briton is a well-rounded fighter who’s four defeats in the UFC have come against the upper echelon of fighter in Dan Hooker, Nasrat Haqparast and Drakkar Klose. He has a solid low kick, good striking skills and can hold his own in the grappling too. Alves on the other hand is an explosive striker with good submission skills too, with his 14 career finishes split evenly between KO’s and tap-outs.

Alves is a dangerous opponent but he lacks an in-between game. He’s either exploding for attacks or getting pieced up, with a real disdain for setting up shots. Diakiese is at his best from range and with an advantage in the volume category, he should be able to stay there and control the fight for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision



Cortney Casey (9-9) vs Liana Jojua (8-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between a veteran and a prospect in this one. Casey has lost six of her last nine bouts, with two-in-a-row to Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 3 and then JJ Aldrich at UFC Vegas 21. Jojua has lost two of her last three, with a win over Diana Belbita at UFC Fight Island 1 sandwiched between defeats to Sarah Moras and Miranda Maverick at UFC 254.

Casey is a good striker on the feet, who uses her range well and likes her kicking game a lot. Jojua on the other hand is a specialist grappler, whose wrestling skills aren’t the best but if the fight hits the ground it’s usually a wrap. With the tape on both of these women, it’s hard to gauge where this fight ends up.

On the feet, Casey should absolutely batter her. Jojua’s striking defence is horrible and she tends to walk through shots to try and get her hands on her opponent. Casey doesn’t have a lot of power though, which means Jojua could potentially drag her down. Unfortunately for her though, Casey’s defence is decent so I think she pieces her up for 15 minutes and claims a win.
PICK – Cortney Casey via Decision

UFC Vegas 30: Gane vs Volkov – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex this weekend with some giant European heavyweights headlining the card as Ciryl Gane takes on Alexander Volkov with a potential title shot looming for the winner.

A make-believe European title will be on the line as the two top five heavyweights clash, coming into the fight off the back of win streaks over top contenders too.

Elsewhere on the card in the co-main event, Ovince Saint-Preux moves up to heavyweight to take on short-notice opponent Tanner Boser while Raoni Barcelos gets back in the octagon to take on Timur Valiev in an absolute banger at bantamweight.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 29, we went 8/12 on the night with four perfect picks to go up to 346/542 (63.84%) with 155 perfect picks (44.8%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Marcin Prachnio (14-5) vs Ike Villanueva (18-11) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An interesting light heavyweight scrap booked in this one as Prachnio looks to make it back-to-back wins over ‘Hurricane’ Ike Villanueva. Prachnio lost three-in-a-row including a first-round stoppage against Mike Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 7, before bouncing back with a decision win over Khalil Rountree JR at UFC 257. Villanueva himself lost two in a row, including a KO inside 90 seconds against Jordan Wright at UFC Vegas 7 before beating Vinicius Moreira by knockout at UFC Fight Island 8.

Both guys are strikers and while Prachnio opts for volume and combinations, Villanueva just looks for a slug fest. Both guys have been beaten by knockouts but the nature of those finishes were very different. Villanueva got stopped by a cut and by a heavyweight, while Prachnio got separated from consciousness three times and could’ve been against an exhausted Rountree last time too.

I don’t think either guy are really UFC calibre at this point, but I’d trust Villanueva to land the big show-stopping punch before Prachnio so he’ll get the dub.
PICK – Ike Villanueva via Knockout, Round 1

Warlley Alves (15-4) vs Jeremiah Wells (8-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A banger at welterweight ar Warlley Alves takes on UFC debutant Jeremiah Wells. Alves returned from over two years out with a first-round stoppage win over Mounir Lazzez, while Wells is on a two-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since 2019.

Alves is super powerful but is more known for his terrific grappling skills that go with being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Wells is a great wrestler with good hand speed and jiu-jitsu brown belt, making him a legit threat to Alves wherever the fight ends up. It’s tough to see an ideal path to victory for Wells because he prefers to wrestle his way into fights, but he won’t want to be on the ground with Alves.

Overall, I think Alves is the man who has the advantage with this one and I think he can out-grapple Wells or potentially KO him with the short notice aspect working in his favour too.
PICK – Warlley Alves via Decision

Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0) vs Michel Prazeres (26-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A really exciting welterweight fight as the undefeated Rakhmonov takes on the highly underrated Prazeres in this one. Rakhmonov won his UFC debut at UFC 254 with a submission over Cowboy Oliveira, while Prazeres is well over two years out from his last fight – a defeat to Ismail Naurdiev.

Rakhmonov is an absolute beast of a fighter, with seven knockouts and six submission wins. He is a fantastic grappler on the ground but also a crisp striker on the feet. Prazeres on the other hand is a tremendous grappler and is very grapple heavy stylistically, looking for takedowns early and then working to positions where he can attack submissions. Rakhmonov though has a HUGE advantage in size, with a nine inch height advantage and ten inch reach advantage.

Prazeres is very good, but Rakhmonov has all the advantages at this stage and this could be a real showcase fight for the Kazakhstan fighter.
PICK – Shavkat Rakhmonov via Knockout, Round 2

Kennedy Nzechukwu (8-1) vs Danilo Marques (11-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A banger at 205lbs as ‘African Savage’ Nzechukwu takes on Danilo Marques in the featured prelim bout. Nzechekwu returned to the UFC after an 18-month absence to knock out Carlos Ulberg at UFC 259, while Marques has won his last four including a submission over Mike Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 18.

Nzechukwu is a powerful puncher with good accuracy who showed some improved cardio in his last fight, as well as a solid chin. Marques on the other hand is a terrific grappler on the ground who can match Nzechukwu for size, standing at 6ft 6′. He has lots of good tripping techniques and has the clear advantage on the ground, so if he can get the fight down then it’s his to lose.

Nzechukwu is a power puncher but Marques has shown a decent chin and unless he can stop the takedown attempts I can’t see the Nigerian getting the win on this occasion.
PICK – Danilo Marques via Submission, Round 2

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRELIMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN CARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Early prelims predictions

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

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

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

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

We’ll look to move ahead with a big week this week on a stacked card, breaking the card down into three this week.


Mario Bautista (8-1) vs Trevin Jones (12-6 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The opening fight of the card is a fun bantamweight fight between two up and comers in the UFC. Bautista is coming off two wins in a row after losing his debut on short-notice to Cory Sandhagen, where he beat Jin Soo Son and Miles Johns, while Jones’s UFC debut win over Timur Valiev at UFC Vegas 7 was overturned to a no-contest following a positive test for marijuana.

Bautista is a great striker, with fantastic knees and straight punches while Jones is a power puncher with a strong wrestling base behind him too. Bautista has really good takedown defence too but is so well rounded when it comes to MMA that he should be considered a threat wherever the fight goes. Jones is more one-dimensional and will likely find himself with his back to the cage and his best path to victory is with that role reversed. Bautista is good enough to avoid takedowns and if he doesn’t, he’s great at getting back to his feet quickly. On the feet, Bautista has a clear advantage and I think he’ll be able to pick Jones off for the victory while standing.
PICK – Mario Bautista via Decision

Uros Medic (6-0) vs Aalon Cruz (8-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A UFC debut for Serbian lightweight Uros Medic as he takes on fellow Contender Series alumni Aalon Cruz. Medic is 6-0 with all finishes in his career, including a knockout against Mikey Gonzalez back in August. Cruz made his UFC debut in February last year where he was knocked out in 85 seconds by Spike Carlyle.

Medic has never gone past the first minute of a second round because of the pure power and aggression he shows in fights. While Cruz is the more weathered fighter who has fought much better competition, he tends to back up in straight lines when defending and when he got cracked by Carlyle his response was less than impressive. He has a huge reach advantage over Medic but he doesn’t really fight in a way that uses it well and if Medic steps forward with the same aggression and clips him early then this could be a short night in ‘The Doctor’s’ favour.
PICK – Uros Medic via Knockout, Round 1

Livinha Souza (14-2) vs Amanda Lemos (8-1-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight fight between two women who won their only fight in 2020 and will look keep that momentum going in 2021. Souza won her first two fights in the UFC before losing to Brianna Van Buren, but she bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Ashley Yoder at UFC 242. Lemos made it consecutive wins in the same month with her decision win over Mizuki Inoue making her 2-0 since her suspension for a failed drugs test.

Souza’s skillset should see her much higher up in the reckoning of the strawweight world. She has tremendous striking, brilliant jiu-jitsu skills and even some judo throws under her belt with ten stoppage wins in her career paying to that. Lemos is an active striker, with great grappling skills of her own but her volume should see her take this fight. If Souza can’t outwrestle her opponent she seems to panic a bit despite her great skills and she just doesn’t let her hands go. If that’s the case here, Lemos will punish her with strikes and should take the victory.
PICK – Amanda Lemos via Decision

Sean Brady (13-0) vs Jake Matthews (17-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A cracker of a fight at welterweight between the undefeated Sean Brady and ‘The Celtic Kid’ Jake Matthews. Brady made his UFC debut back in 2019 and has gone 3-0, beating Christian Aguilera last time out in August 2020 at UFC Vegas 8. Matthews is a UFC vet despite being only 26 years old and is on a three-fight win streak after beating Diego Sanchez on Fight Island last year at UFC 253.

Brady and Matthews are very similar in style and this should be a competitive match up. Both are good wrestlers with good striking too, but Matthews is more of a finisher on the mat while Brady tends to mix it up a little more. Despite that, Matthews has only had one submission win in the last five years and while he’ll look for the takedowns more Brady is arguably the slightly better wrestler of the two and he has the edge on the feet too. That quality should shine through and Brady should do enough to get a decision win.
PICK – Sean Brady via Decision

Kennedy Nzechukwu (7-1) vs Carlos Ulberg (5-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Two relative newcomers to the light heavyweight division meet up on the card where the title is on the line to showcase their skills as prospects. ‘The African Savage’ is 1-1 in the UFC and took all of 2020 off following his last win, while Ulberg is an undefeated prospect making his UFC debut in this game.

Nzechukwu is 6ft 5′ tall and incredibly lengthy when it comes to his striking, while Ulberg is a former professional kickboxer who has transitioned over to MMA and brought those striking skills to the fore with him. Nzechukwu doesn’t like to commit too much and a real lack of volume means he’s in for a torrid time against Ulberg who is quicker, better technically and arguably just as powerful. Ulberg will feint, leg kick and then terrorise Nzechukwu for a spectacular finish.
PICK – Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2

Tim Elliott (17-11-1) vs Jordan Espinosa (15-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A super fun flyweight fight between two guys who could be fighting for their careers in the company. Both Elliott and Espinosa have lost three out of their last four, with Elliot winning against Ryan Benoit last time out on Fight Island after defeats to Deiveson Figueiredo, Askar Askarov and Brandon Royval. Espinosa lost his last fight to David Dvorak at UFC Vegas 11, after beating Mark De La Rosa and losing to Alex Perez and Matt Schnell.

Elliott is a wrestler by trade and always looks to get the takedown and smother his opponents on the ground, while Espinosa is a mobile striker who likes to shoot himself in the foot strategically in fights. Elliott will look to box himself into takedown range and despite Espinosa’s reach and footwork advantage he should be able to push the pace for a relatively comfortable win.
PICK – Tim Elliott via Decision