The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.
Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.
In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.
We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.
Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).
Vinc Pichel (14-2) vs Mark O Madsen (11-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really interesting lightweight fight opens up the main card here. Pichel has won seven of his last eight including his last three in a row against Roosevelt Roberts, Jim Miller and Austin Hubbard all via decision. Madsen is an undefeated fighter, going 3-0 in the UFC including a split decision win over Clay Guida last time out.
Pichel is a well-rounded fighter, with some crisp striking and good power that has earned him eight knockout wins in his career. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler, who tends to fight behind his jab and walk forward. While the takedown will be there all day for Madsen, Pichel is very good at getting up and tends to get stronger as the fight goes on.
Madsen has had a problem with his cardio in the past and if he tries to fight like he did against Guida here, it won’t be enough to earn a win because he has more power and a far better gas tank. Madsen will likely start well and could even win the first round, but eventually Pichel should be able to turn the tide and land enough on the feet while tiring Madsen out to earn a tight decision win. PICK – Vinc Pichel via Decision
Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs Tecia Torres (13-5) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
A really fun women’s strawweight fight up next. Dern was on a four-fight win streak before stepping into a main event against Marina Rodriguez, who out-struck her to earn a decision win. Torres on the other hand snapped a four-fight losing streak and is now on a run of three wins in a row, defeating Angela Hill at UFC 265 most recently.
Dern is one of the very best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet, male or female, and looks to get fights down to the ground as quickly as possible to work that submission game. She does struggle with takedowns, but her striking has improved in recent fights too. Torres on the other hand is a bulldog who uses great forward pressure and boxing skills, while her defensive wrestling is pretty good too. This is a battle entirely about whether or not Dern can get the fight down, and her size advantage leans me to think she can.
Torres is only 5ft 1 tall and while Dern isn’t the biggest at 5ft 4, she’s got a two inch reach advantage. Dern will likely kick from distance and try to clinch to be able drag Torres down, who will need to get in and out with her boxing. I just can’t see her doing that for 15 minutes, so I expect Dern to be able to get her down, find her way to an arm or the back and sink in a submission to get back on the winning trail. PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2
Gilbert Burns (20-4) vs Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
One of the most highly anticipated fights of the year so far takes place in the welterweight division. Burns went on a huge six-fight win streak before falling to Kamaru Usman in a title fight at UFC 258 last year. He returned to the win column by dominating Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 in his last fight. Chimaev is the most exciting fighter in the UFC right now, winning all four of his bouts while absorbing a combined total of just one strike. His most recent win against Li Jingliang at UFC 267 saw him choke him unconscious in the first round while talking to Dana White.
Burns is a wrestle-boxer who has got legitimate world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills too, with good knockout power and some brilliant cardio too. Chimaev is an absolute man mountain, who either knocks your lights out early or just launches in for a takedown and dominates you until the referee pulls him off. This is such a hard fight to call, because it’s by far the toughest fight of Chimaev’s career but you cannot ignore what he’s done so far in the octagon.
It’s highly unlikely that Chimaev will dominate Burns in the same way he has won all his previous fights in the UFC, but I do think he will win. He has got a huge size advantage, having fought at middleweight in the past too and his wrestling was good enough to dominant Jack Hermansson in a wrestling match not too long ago. He has great power in his hands, amazing control and while Burns could definitely cause an upset, I can’t look past Chimaev to earn the victory. PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Decision
Aljamain Sterling (20-3) vs Petr Yan (16-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The rematch we’ve all been waiting for, is finally upon us. Aljamain Sterling hasn’t fought since the first bout back at UFC 259, where Yan kneed him in the head illegally and was disqualified which put Sterling on a six-fight win streak. Yan bounced back from that disappointment to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 to become the interim champion and means he’s now won 11 of his last 12.
Sterling is a fantastic wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter, with unorthodox striking on the feet and a very rangy style. Yan is the most well-rounded fighter in MMA right now, with no real weaknesses and some of the best boxing and defensive wrestling in the world. In the original fight I picked Sterling to score a submission win, but after watching the fight it’s pretty clear that Yan has his number.
The Russian was able to stuff takedowns regularly, box him up from the inside and outside and his cardio held up much better than Sterling’s too. With the added bad blood now involved, expect Yan to really turn it up in the later rounds and pour on the pressure to score a late finish and reclaim his championship. PICK – Petr Yan via Knockout, Round 4
Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) vs Korean Zombie (17-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
The featherweight king returns against a new opponent and has a chance to further cement himself as the best in the world here. Volkanovski has won 20 fights in a row, including consecutive bouts over Max Holloway and then most recently Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Korean Zombie has won three of his last four, getting dominated by Ortega at UFC Fight Island 6 but bouncing back with a dominant win over Dan Ige at UFC Vegas 29 last time out. He gets this fight after Holloway withdrew due to injury.
Volkanovski runs Yan close for being the most complete fighter in the world right now. He has got unbelievable cardio, is an accomplished striker with good power and also some excellent wrestling skills to go with it. Zombie earned his nickname because of his ability to take damage and keep coming forward, but Ortega really showed the holes in his game in their fight.
The champion has got plenty of avenues to victory, because he has the edge everywhere. Jung definitely has the power to land clean and hurt Volkanovski, but I’ll be incredibly surprised if that happens. Volkanovski is cerebral enough to take a decision win if he needs too, but I expect him to lay claim to some big ground and pound after landing a takedown and earn his first finish since beating Chad Mendes back in 2018. PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Knockout, Round 3
All signs point to Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie) stepping into the fight in his place, although this is yet to be confirmed.
It’s now been claimed by MMA Fighting journalist Ariel Helwani that those title fights are set to be moved to April at UFC 273 though, with TKZ recovering from an injury. There is some concern that Sterling would have issues getting cleared to compete in New York though, where UFC 273 is due to be held.
According to the highly reliable Helwani, the UFC 272 card is due to take place in Las Vegas and with the 3/5 date, the UFC have seen it as a marketing dream to have Masvidal fight on the card.
While nothing is confirmed yet and Helwani says “there are a lot of moving parts” he is usually right when it comes to these things.
Covington and Masvidal have both gone 1-2 in their last three fights, with all their defeats coming to champion Kamaru Usman in title fights.
Covington was stopped by Usman back in December 2019 at UFC 245 before being well beaten in a decision rematch at UFC 268 most recently. He beat Tyron Woodley via a fifth-round TKO when Woodley injured his rib at UFC Vegas 11 in between.
Masvidal smashed through Nate Diaz to become BMF champion at UFC 244, before consecutive losses to Usman at UFC 251 on short-notice and then at UFC 261 via second-round knockout – one of the best KO’s of the year.
UFC 272 is due to take place on March 5th 2022, while UFC 273 will take place on April 9th 2022.
Fast start to the fight from Procopio as she comes forward with some nice strikes before clinching up and using he strength and knees. O’Neill fires back with some fine combinations of her own, kneeing back in the clinch too and using her jab well. Procopio fires off some hard leg kicks and big right hands before clinching up again and pushing O’Neill against the cage. Lovely takedown from Procopio sees her on top with 90 seconds left but O’Neill is able to bounce back up very quickly and they start trading strikes again. Procopio using her strength to her advantage and pushing O’Neill against the cage again and the round ends with a scramble. 10-9 Procopio.
Another fast start to the second round but this time from O’Neill, as she marches forward with some good strikes and a knee before Procopio catches it and takes her down. Procopio tries to control position but O’Neill fires off some big elbows from the bottom which forces her to move and allows O’Neill to kick her off and get back up. O’Neill has picked up the pace well and Procopio struggling to cope. O’Neill takes Procopio down and lands some big elbows on the ground from side control, before grinding her elbow across the face of Procopio. Procopio tries to set up a submission from the bottom before a scramble sets up a heel hook attempt, but O’Neill stays heavy on top to defend and sees out the round with ground and pound. 19-19.
O’Neill comes out quickly again and lands some decent strikes before tripping Procopio and immediately transitioning to a crucifix position. O’Neill landing lots of ground and pound strikes but not much damage being done, although Procopio struggling to escape. She finally gets her arm free and O’Neill switches to take her back, then goes full mount and then takes her back again looking for a rear-naked choke. Procopio stands with O’Neill on her back but she locks up the choke and squeezes until Procopio drops unconscious! What a win for O’Neill!
Rick Glenn def Joaquim Silva via Knockout, Round 1 (0:37)
RICKY GLENN!! FIRST LEFT HAND OF THE FIGHT LANDS AND DROPS SILVA! He follows it up with some ground and pound and then drops Silva again and the referee ends it! What a knockout!
Interesting start in this one as Martinez steps forward straight into the pocket to close the distance and starts roughing Parisian up with some clinches and dirty boxing. Some big punches from Martinez against the cage and he lands a huge slicing elbow that cuts Parisian. Parisian fires back with a knee and then two big hooks, but Martinez closes the distance again and just misses with a one-two. Martinez landing some heavy punches, with three nice uppercuts in a clinch and Parisian is struggling.Parisian trying to fight behind a jab but Martinez slips it and counters with a huge overhand right that wobbles Parisian! They clinch up again and Martinez doing plenty of damage as the round ends. 10-9 Martinez.
Parisian takes a dominant position early in the second round, getting hold of Martinez and pushing him against the cage but Martinez is landing lots of strikes to the head to try and get him off. Parisian being very heavy and leaning on Martinez, throwing some nice knees to the body and then a big elbow to the head. More short strikes but Parisian lands an inadvertant knee to the groin to cause a pause in the action. Martinez takes the centre and puts Parisian against the cage now but he gets away and then lands a flush right hand to the chin. Another clinch and Parisian lands three big elbows in a row before they clinch again. Martinez tries to sink in a guillotine but Parisian rolls through and avoids as the round ends. 19-19, big final round incoming.
Final round and Martinez trying to push the pace again, landing a nice four punch flurry while forcing Parisian backwards. Parisian lands a nice left hook but Martinez fires back with a right overhand that connects and Parisian is wobbled! He lands three more strikes but Parisian ties him up and pushes him against the cage. Martinez forces himself off the cage and lands some more strikes but Parisian using his size to try and wear Martinez down again. Parisian looking for a takedown but Martinez denying it well against the cage and forces the break. Martinez comes forward again but Parisian throws a lazy kick to the groin and causes a break with a minute to go. Another clinch once we restart sees both guys throwing short strikes as the round ends. Close third round but I think Martinez should get the nod.
Khaos Williams def Matthew Semelsberger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Very fast start to the fight as Williams explodes with a big punch that cracks Semelsberger right on the nose and wobbles him! Lots of blood coming from the nose as he looks to tie Williams up and recover. They eventually separate and both trade big right hooks, with Semelsberger landing nicely himself. Williams goes for a big combo after catching a kick but Semelsberger steps to the side then lands a big right hand himself to counter. Williams firing first but Semelsberger countering well, good round. 10-9 Khaos.
Early exchange from both guys as they trade powerful hooks but both miss narrowly. Semelsberger lands a flush one-two that stuns Williams but he’s okay. He comes forward again and lands a nice right hook of his own that sends Semelsberger backwards but Semelsberger now is starting to back Williams up more. Williams lands some nice leg kicks and then lands a nice counter right hook of his own as Semelsberger tries to shoot in first himself. Nice one-two again from Semelsberger and his own leg kicks are having an effect on Williams. Good charge across the cage with some wild hooks from Williams to end the round. 19-19 for me but could easily be 20-18 too.
Khaos takes the centre early on in this one and lands a few tight hooks, but Semelsberger is coming forward to try and be first now. Another leg kick gets a reaction, but Williams returns with two of his own. Beautiful combination lands from Williams that ends with a heavy left hook cutting Semelsberger over the eye, but he’s walking gingerly on his front leg now from the leg kicks. Semelsberger not throwing enough volume in this round as Williams lands two more big hooks, but Semelsberger counters with a right hook that just misses. Big right hand from Semelsberger then Williams responds with one of his own before they clinch and end the round. 29-28 Williams for me.
Virna Jandiroba def Kanako Murata via Doctor Stoppage (Arm Injury), Round 2 (5:00)
Fast start to the round from Jandiroba as she comes forward with some decent striking and catches Murata with some big one-twos. Jandiroba lands three big right hands and Murata is wobbled but she evades well and steps back. Murata closes the distance and clinches up and then Jandiroba looks to pull guard from against the cage. Murata slams her down and lands some heavy ground and pound strikes, but Jandiroba eats it and then throws up an armbar! It looks tight but Murata doesn’t tap and is able to step over and eventually get out of it, ending the round on top trying to land ground and pound. 10-9 Jandiroba.
Another good start to the round from Jandiroba as she starts throwing her big right hand early on once again. Murata is eating strikes and her left arm is clearly injured from the armbar in the first round, with Jandiroba landing a huge head kick. She follows it up with some big right hands too and Murata is defenceless at this point but still looking to fight back. 20-18.
The doctor looks at the arm between rounds and tells the referee immediately to wave it off, this one is over. Big win for Virna Jandiroba!
Nicolae Negumereanu def Aleksa Camur via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Good start early on for Camu as he lands a nice jab and is showing feints that Negumereanu is struggling to read. Two more jabs and a power right hand land too and Camur is doing well, then slips a left hand. Negumereanu finally lands a big left hand and Camur is staggered immediately, then starts turning up the pressure and lands big shots. Camur slowing down and getting hit a lot more and Negumereanu is growing into the fight. 10-9 Nicolae.
Second round and Negumereanu does really well with forward pressure and lands another nice left hand early. They clinch up against the cage and Negumereanu has the controlling position, but Camur defending himself well to keep the fight standing. Both fighters start trading hooks in the centre that land, then Negumereanu lands a big left hook before the round ends. 20-18 Nicolae but it’s close and Camur is still in it.
Final round and Negumereanu comes forward with good pressure and heavy strike attempts early on. Camur countering well but Negumereanu keeps coming forward and is really turning the pressure up. Nice jabs and Camur lands some shots of his own but Negumereanu’s chin is unreal right now. Camur goes for a takedown but it’s denied easily and then Negumereanu lands a big elbow and two left hands. Negumereanu puts Camur against the cage and holds him with strikes but gets an incredibly stern warning for holding the fence, when really he should have a point deducted at this point (he’s been warned countless times already). Final 30 seconds and they strike it out to the buzzer. Great fight but should be 30-27 Nicolae.
Matt Brown def Dhiego Lima via Knockout, Round 2 (3:02)
Slow start to this fight from both guys, with Brown taking the centre of the cage and faking for his shots while Lima throws some heavy calf kicks as usual. Nice body kick from Brown before a jab to the body as Lima throws another big calf kick. Lima slips Brown’s jab and hits two hard leg kicks before looking for a takedown, but Brown stuffs it. More hard leg kicks from Lima and while Brown looks for the jab neither guy really taking control. 10-9 Lima but this one is up in the air in reality.
Another close start to the round as Lima comes out early with leg kicks, while Brown moving gingerly already. Lima throws two leg kicks in a row and gets a reaction from Brown, but then he goes for a takedown and Brown stuffs it well. Lima using his strength advantage to get a clinch situation against the cage but Brown is stuffing them well. Lima goes for a right hand but Brown slips it and lands his own right hand straight down the middle and Lima faceplants!!! Oh my what a knockout!!! Matt Brown!!
Bruno Silva def Wellington Turman via Knockout, Round 1 (4:45)
Fast start from Turman who steps forward and goes straight for a takedown against the cage. After some back and forth, Turman is able to lift him and slam him down to the mat but Silva reverses the position and looks to control Turman against the cage. Turman uses a kimura grip to escape and he reverses and goes back to takedowns against the cage. Turman takes the back of Silva who’s standing and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Silva is able to shake him off and ends up in Turman’s guard, firing off big ground and pound strikes from top position. Silva lands a right hand then a left to the temple and Turman is out cold! Silva lands one more as the referee waves it off!! Huge win for Bruno Silva!
Seeungwoo Choi def Julian Erosa via Knockout, Round 1 (1:37)
Powerful start to the fight from Choi as he lands his big right hand on three separate occasions, but Erosa stays standing. Erosa fires back with a left hook but Choi lands another big strike and Erosa looks taken aback by his power. Choi slips, throws a right hand that just misses but follows with a big left hook that drops Erosa!! Choi jumps on with ground and pound and the referee waves it off! Huge win for Choi! Wow!
Marlon Vera def Davey Grant via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26)
Nice start from both guys with lots of feelers and leg kicks getting thrown in the octagon early. Grant throwing plenty of volume, with high kicks, wheel kicks and some overhand rights but Vera blocking almost everything and taking the centre. Big leg kick misses from Vera and then Grant lands a nice left hook. Grant throws a body kick but Vera catches it and puts him on his back, but Grant makes his way back up to the feet but has a cut on his forehead. Nice leg kick from Grant again but Vera responds with one of his own. Nice right hand from Vera but then he follows that with some heavy leg kicks again and Grant is switching stance. Good round, could be 10-9 either way.
Vera takes the centre in the second round and starts throwing teep kicks to the body as well as leg kicks. Vera upping the pace a little and lands a nice left hook but Grant comes back with some hooks of his own. Thai clinch from Vera and he throws four big elbow to the face that open up a big cut on Grant’s head. Head kick from Grant before another elbow from Vera and a knee to the body. Clinch and Grant manages to throw Vera onto his back and ends up in top position. Vera looks for a triangle then tries to escape but Grant keeps him down and takes side control. Nice elbows from Grant but Vera rolls out of a guillotine attempt to end up on top and start raining down ground and pound to end the round. Another close one, I think that could be Vera’s though. 19-19.
Great start to the third round from Vera again as he presses forward, gets a takedown and locks up the back. He goes for a rear-naked choke but Grant escapes, then Vera moves into full mount with an arm-triangle. Again he escapes and they end up back on the feet, when Grant lands a huge left hook that staggers Vera! Vera blocks the next one and lands a lovely straight elbow to the head and starts attacking the body of Grant and he’s hurt. Vera trips him and gets on top again and lands another big elbow that hurts Grant, then a big body shot as Grant tries to get back to his feet. One minute to go and Grant looks for a kimura but Vera defending it very well and is able to escape it and get into full mount. Grant surviving and gives up his back but Vera sinks in a rear-naked choke! Grant refuses to tap and sees out the fight! What a fight, should be a Vera win.
Serghei Spivac def Aleksei Oleinik via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Encouraging start from Spivac as he is able to escape from an immediate clinch attempt from Oleinik before landing a really nice left hook. Spivac keeping his distance and lands a nice right hand again on his break, but Oleinik fires off a hard leg kick. Oleinik goes for a single leg takedown but Spivac defends it well and currently looks too strong for Oleinik. Nice overhand right lands from Oleinik but Spivac counters with a big uppercut too. Spivac right hook misses by inches and Oleinik goes to clinch again, but Spivac clinches and finally manages to get his back and drags him down to the ground. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik is looking for a head and arm choke but then he moves into full mount and goes for a scarf hold but the buzzer goes. 10-9 Oleinik.
Second round starts and Oleinik is walking Spivac down, but the pace is slow and the power is waivering on his punches. Spivac keeps moving and then Oleinik clinches and pulls guard, which allows Spivac to throw a few strikes on the ground. Oleinik looking to sweep from the bottom but Spivac starts throwing elbows. Oleinik starts looking for submission but Spivac is controlling the position with power and landing some nice elbows and ground strikes. Spivac goes for an anaconda choke but Oleinik escapes and rolls into full mount. He switches to the scarf hold again but once more, the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Oleinik is absolutely exhausted going into the final round and Spivac opens up with a big right hook that opens a cut on Oleinik’s head. He goes for a takedown again but Spivac denies it and then lands some big shots while Oleinik is on his knees, forcing him to get up quickly. Oleinik still walking forward and throwing his big overhand right before he goes for another takedown against the cage. Spivac ends up on top and starts throwing some short elbows. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik starts throwing strikes off his back but Spivac fires back from a more dominant position and sees the round out that way. 29-28 Spivac for me.
Korean Zombie def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)
Nice, competitive start as Jung takes the centre and throws a nice leg kick early, then follows up with a left straight. Ige throws a few leg kicks of his own then smashes a big body shot in range and then steps out. Ige goes for another big looping hook but Jung times it and shoots under it for a takedown. Zombie on top but Ige explodes out from under him and they both get back to the feet. Zombie lands a big right hand and smells blood but Ige retreats and seems okay now. Zombie lands some nice jabs and sees out the round. Close, but 10-9 Zombie.
Both guys trade leg kicks early in the second round, with Zombie using his reach to land first as it stands. Zombie landing jabs nicely and disguising the calf kicks well too, but Ige still trying to come forward too. Nice right hand from Zombie lands and Ige shoots for a takedown, but his defence is too good and he denies it. Heavy leg kick again from Zombie but Ige shows no reaction. Ige goes for another takedown but Zombie defends it and in a scramble ends up on Ige’s back looking for a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes. 20-18 Zombie.
Ige comes out aggressive in the third but Zombie immediately flicks out the jab and ends up in top position after getting a takedown. Ige throwing big elbows from the bottom but the Zombie lands a big slicing elbow of his own. Zombie stacks him and lands a nice shot then takes the back of Ige and goes for a rear-naked choke but Ige fighting the hands and just about surviving. Zombie has a body triangle locked up and he’s throwing some good strikes but Ige looking to tie him up and prevent the submission. Zombie goes for a crank with ten seconds to go but no chance of getting it and the buzzer goes. 30-27 Zombie, dominant so far.
Tight fourth round now as Zombie is pumping out the jab and Ige is being far more aggressive. Zombie trying to counter strike while Ige looks for an opening and he lands a big right hand. He moves for a double jab then clinches up but Zombie just moves him away and resets. Big right hand from Ige again but Zombie eats it and lands a nice counter left-hook. Ige having a much better round this time but then throws a body kick and Zombie catches it, throws a straight right hand and then gets taken down with a minute left in the round. Zombie stacks Ige and lands a bit of ground and pound before the round ends. 39-37 Zombie.
Ige knows he needs a finish and comes forward aggressively early on, but Zombie looks very composed and calm just staying behind his jab. Ige throws a nice shot to the body and follows it with a left hook and it hits hard. Zombie didn’t like it so Ige does it twice more, then stuffs a Zombie takedown! Zombie lands a nice right hand counter but Ige goes to the body again. Another takedown attempt that Ige denies but Zombie lets the jab go again. Both guys trade body shots then Zombie lands a knee that hurts Ige and he’s able to drag him down and take his back with a body triangle again. Zombie just riding out the clock as Ige tries to escape but Zombie just too strong on the ground and sees out the clock for a big win. 49-46 Zombie.
The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend for a featherweight banger of a main event as ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung takes on Dan Ige.
Both men have earned a reputation as one of the better guys at 145lbs but having previously lost to the best of the best, they want to prove they’re not nearly men by getting a win in this main event.
In this 12 fight card, you also have two heavyweights in the co-main event as Aleksei Oleinik takes on Serghei Spivac while Davey Grant takes a step up in competition to take on Marlon Vera at bantamweight.
Last week at UFC 263 we had an incredible night of picks, going 10/14 with NINE perfect picks to take us up to 338/530 (63.77%) with 151 perfect picks (44.67%). We’ll look to improve that record here and having started with the six prelim bouts here, here’s our main card picks.
Matt Brown (24-18) vs Dhiego Lima (17-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Brown is a top level wrestler but is now 40-years-old and his durability has really started to waiver as he’s got older. Lima on the other hand is a competent striker and grappler himself, but he’s just not a top level guy in any aspect. Brown will look to take Lima down, control from top position and land ground and pound but Lima has got good takedown defence and a range advantage too.
Lima has been rocked in the past but I think he’s big enough to take the strikes of Brown who isn’t close to what he once was and get himself a win. PICK – Dhiego Lima via Decision
Wellington Turman (16-4) vs Bruno Silva (19-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger of a fight in the middleweight division between the experienced youngster Wellington Turman and Bruno Silva. Turman has lost two of his last three, including a KO loss to Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 6 while Silva returns from a two-year USADA suspension to make his long-awaited UFC debut on a four-fight win streak.
Silva is an absolute monster on the feet, with incredible power in his hands as his 16 knockout wins in his career show you. He has good cardio and steps forward with tremendous pressure to just suffocate opponents, forcing them into a war and eventually knocking them out. Turman is a jiu-jitsu expert with some okay striking to set up his takedowns, but fighting backwards is not something he is good at.
Silva will walk him backwards against the cage and swing his chin into oblivion to land a knockout win and a bonus for the night. PICK – Bruno Silva via Knockout, Round 1
Julian Erosa (25-9) vs Seungwoo Choi (9-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Erosa is a striker who can take plenty of damage and has good submission skills, while Choi is a really well-rounded fighter who switches up his attacks based on whatever his opponents weaknesses are. The problem is, Erosa doesn’t have many weaknesses. Yes he gets hit too much, but he has power himself and wild technique to catch opponents off guard. Choi is patient and able to mix it up well, but his best bet in this one will be on the feet.
Overall, I think Choi is too well-rounded for Erosa to exploit. His jab is good and he’ll be able to pick Erosa off over the course of 15 minutes while also mixing in his own takedowns and preventing Erosa’s. PICK – Seungwoo Choi via Decision
Marlon Vera (16-7-1) vs Davey Grant (13-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Vera is a good wrestler with some excellent striking in his repertoire, with heavy leg kicks a big part of his arsenal. Grant is a grappler naturally but has found out recently that he has dynamite in his left hook to earn back-to-back KO wins. Despite that though, there are levels between these two fighters. Vera has solid grappling himself and is definitely the better striker on the feet and I think the leg kicks will have a big say in the fight.
‘Chito’ will use his kicks and takedown defence to empty the gas tank of Grant and use some takedowns of his own to secure a fairly comfortable win for himself. PICK – Marlon Vera via Decision
Aleksei Oleinik (59-15-1) vs Serghei Spivak (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight clash of styles in the co-main event as the veteran Aleksei Oleinik takes on the up and coming Serghei Spivak. Oleinik has lost his last two-in-a-row, getting knocked out by Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 8 before getting knocked out by Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Spivak has won his last two, earning a decision over Carlos Felipe before knocking out Jared Vanderaa.
Oleinik is a submission specialist, with 46 submission wins in his career. He is not a good striker and looks to close the distance to get hold of his opponent and take them to the ground to work his unorthodox submission game while Spivak likes to take his opponents down to beat them up and earn a submission of his own. But the striking gap between the two is very, very wide.
Spivak is good enough as a grappler to avoid submissions from Oleinik and with a size and strength advantage, Spivak should earn himself a stoppage as Oleinik’s gas tank empties out. PICK – Serghei Spivak via Knockout, Round 2
Korean Zombie (16-6) vs Dan Ige (15-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Zombie is a pressure fighter with crazy power in his strikes and some solid grappling skills on the mat, while Ige is more of a volume puncher with good wrestling to fall back on too. Ige’s got good boxing and skills but only four KO wins in his career tell you that Jung can walk forward to land his shots. Jung is physically stronger and also the bigger man and I feel that he has the speed and power edge too.
Overall, TKZ is still just better than Ige is. He has the edge everywhere and unless the beating that Ortega put on him has sent him into a shell of himself, Jung should pop him into oblivion to earn a wide decision win much like Kattar did. PICK – Korean Zombie via Decision
You then have Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar lurking at the top, as well as the two men main eventing UFC Vegas 29 this weekend – ‘Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung and Dan ’50K’ Ige.
When you step outside of the very elite of the division, the two first fighters you pull up out of that weight class are Jung and Ige.
Both intelligent, powerful strikers with a sense of going for the finish and better than the rest around them. But when they get the chance against the best of the best, they seem to fall short.
Korean Zombie’s previous title fight saw him lose via TKO to Jose Aldo when he dislocated his shoulder in the fourth round, before a four-year hiatus due to military service. He returned with a win but then got knocked out in the final second by a reverse elbow from Rodriguez in a five-round war that he was winning up to that point.
Both guys prefer to stand, but have an underrated ground game and will look to set the pace early on. But the most important thing for the winner is that they’ll show they can hang with top guys and they’re not a ‘nearly man’ anymore. It could be seen as a way to overcome that obstacle in their career so far and push them towards another crack at the elite of the elite.
It’s what they need to do if they want to get in the title conversation going forward and with the top of the 145lbs weight class so tight, a spectacular performance could be exactly what separates them from the pack.
With the pay-per-view main events set for the foreseeable future, the UFC have now announced some of their Fight Night main events and some other notable bouts too.
After UFC 261, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon following his defeat at UFC 253 when he takes on Jiri Prochazka on May 1st in their main event bout. Prochazka made his UFC debut at UFC 251 with a stunning knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir to shoot himself into contention for the top five. This fight was originally scheduled for February but Reyes was forced to withdraw due to injury.
These two will now battle it out for the number one contender spot, with Yan and Sterling certain to compete in a rematch later this year. Dillashaw makes his return to the octagon after serving a two-year suspension after admitting to injecting EPO ahead of his flyweight title fight with Henry Cejudo in 2019.
The following weekend will see UFC 262, before a return to the bantamweights headlining as Cody Garbrandt takes on Rob Font in a battle of heavy hands. ‘No Love’ last fought at UFC 250 with a highlight reel knockout over Raphael Assuncao, before being scheduled to move down to 125lbs for a flyweight title fight against Figueiredo. Garbrandt was forced to withdraw with injury and ‘Deus da Guerra’ instead fought Alex Perez at UFC 255.
Moving into June, at UFC 263 welterweight jiu-jitsu king Demian Maia will make his return to the octagon for the first time since being brutally knocked out by Gilbert Burns at UFC Brasilia last year – the first event to take place without fans due to the pandemic – when he takes on Belal Muhammad.
With the top of the division currently at a standstill as Jon Jones and the UFC have a contract impasse and Derrick Lewis waiting on a decision to see if he will fight new champion Francis Ngannou next for the title, Volkov and Gane have chosen to stay busy and look improve their own situations in the running for a potential title shot in the future.
That fight will be backed up by a bantamweight banger between two of the most underrated fighters in the division as Raoni Barcelos takes on Timur Valiev. Barcelos returned after nearly a year away from the cage with a masterful performance against Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 13 before seeing his next three bouts fall through for various reasons. He has won his last nine fights professionally and is 5-0 in the UFC.
Last but not least, the UFC also announced blockbuster welterweight co-main event for UFC 264 on July 10th when Gilbert Burns returns to the cage to take on Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
Burns was on a tear at 170lbs and fought Usman for the title at UFC 258 in February, only to suffer a third round TKO loss to his former teammate. He’ll be taking on former title challenger Thompson who has won his last two fights in a row, defeating Vicente Luque and then Geoff Neal most recently at UFC Vegas 17 in December. Both men are looking to get back into the title picture as soon as possible and with Leon Edwards hoping that a win over Nate Diaz at UFC 262 can earn him a fight against the winner of Usman vs Masvidal later this year. A win for either of these two competitors in July could see them challenge next for the title, especially if they can do it impressively.
After 22 months away from the octagon, Brian Ortega returned with a striking clinic to completely outclass the Korean Zombie on Fight Island this past weekend.
It was widely expected that Ortega would need to get the fight into grappling range and take it to the ground to beat Chan Sung Jung, with the Korean Zombie expected to dominate any sort of striking affair.
However it was Ortega who dominated on the feet, leading with a strong jab and staying largely out of Zombie’s range while mixing in leg kicks and feinting takedowns to completely throw him off his rhythm. ‘T-City’ won every round decisively, out-striking Jung for 25 minutes and shutting down talk that Max Holloway had proven he couldn’t hang at the top of the division.
With the win, Ortega will now face Alex Volkanovski for the featherweight title in the future with both the champ himself and UFC president Dana White confirming that is the plan.
He’ll need to be careful against this version of Ortega though, as he looked more than comfortable striking on the feet but also he’s far more dangerous on the ground than Holloway ever has been. If Volkanovski opts to try to throw leg kicks like he did to win the title, then Ortega will look to catch the kick and get a takedown before latching on to the neck for a choke.
The fight will take place likely in the first half of 2021 and is definitely one to be excited for.
Another fight that could happen in the first half of 2021 is Jessica Andrade challenging for the flyweight title. In her division debut, she stopped former challenger Katlyn Chookagian with body shots to get a knockout win for the first time since winning the strawweight title with her infamous slam on Rose Namajunas. She immediately called for a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko after the fight and it’s something the UFC should seriously consider.
Shevchenko is due to defend her title against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 next month but she has so far made short work of everyone in the division since it was created. She has beaten everyone she has faced in the UFC except for Amanda Nunes but Andrade poses a different threat than most others have presented her with. The Brazilian has genuine knockout power in her hands but also has an exceptional ground game. She’s a pocket-sized Nunes who will look to close the distance to stop Shevchenko using her kicking game and she has shown she has the strength to pick girls up and slam them regardless of the weight division, something ‘Bullet’ will need to be wary of letting her do.
With the UFC now planning into the new year, two new contenders have emerged for two dominant champions to turn their attentions to.
Said Nurmagomedov def Mark Striegl via Knockout, Round 1 (0:51)
Well that was quick! Nurmagomedov and Striegl exchange leg kicks and then as Striegl moves in for a takedown, Nurmagomedov lands a huge right hook. He follows it up with violent and accurate ground and pound and this one is over! Wow!
Maxim Grishin def Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Knockout, Round 2 (4:58)
A slow round to start off the fight as both men take a while to put the feelers out. They exchange jabs and then Antigulov shoots in for a takedown attempt but Grishin stuffs it well. A few more shots from each as the round runs through but overall a quiet round. 10-9 Antigulov.
Second round opens with a spinning wheel kick attempt from Antigulov and then a grappling exchange sees Antigulov take his back. After a scramble it’s Grishin who takes the back of Antigulov and he ends up in full mount. Lots of strikes and elbows land and Antigulov looks hurt but he manages to kick off the fence and get back to the feet. Grishin starts landing heavy shots to the head and Antigulov is just covering up and not moving. He’s still standing and throws a wild uppercut that misses before being hit several more times and the referee stops the fight with 2 seconds remaining of the round. Antigulov is FUMING.
Fares Ziam def Jamie Mullarkey via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Energetic round between the two fighters as both men show sharp striking and grappling skills throughout the round. Mullarkey shoots in for a takedown against the cage but Ziam reverses the position well and lands a couple of nice strikes before they get back to the feet. Ziam is using his long limbs well to stay out of range and land nice elbows and jabs well and he’ll take the first round. 10-9 Ziam.
Second round starts well once again as both men come forward. Ziam using his range well before Mullarkey starts clinching and using his strength. He shoots in for a double leg takedown and gets Ziam down. Some nice strikes land on the ground as he secures top position and looks to advance. Ziam is throwing elbows from the ground and defending well while scrambling out of positions but Mullarkey does enough to control and win the round in my eyes. 19-19.
Final round and it’s Ziam this time who goes in with the takedown attempt but some excellent defending and a scramble sees Mullarkey reverse the position and end up on top himself. Good ground and pound and he’s trying to advance position well but Ziam is defending expertly. Good scrambling from both but Mullarkey is showing his advantage on the mat and holds top position for long enough that he should have the decision wrapped up.
Jun Yong Park def John Phillips via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x3)
A tentative first 30 seconds of both fighters just bouncing in front of each other before Park shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it immediately. He stacks Phillips against the cage and starts working to advance position, with a neck crank and guillotine attempt that keeps Phillips down. He starts floating to take the back and lands lots of ground and pound strikes but nothing crazy solid but he dominates more than enough to take that round 10-8.
Second round goes exactly as the first did with Park landing a takedown early in the round and at the first attempt before going to work with lots and lots of ground and pound while controlling the position on the mat. Another 10-8 round comfortably.
Third round begins once again with Park securing a takedown and holding Phillips on the mat. More ground and pound, more control on the ground and more survival from Phillips because he just can’t do anything other than defend himself and move in bursts before being held down once again. This is a genuinely embarrassing performance from John Phillips. Three 10-8 rounds for Park.
Aggressive start to the fight for Robertson as she shoots in for a single leg takedown immediately but Botelho does well to stuff it. Botelho frames up well and engages in a clinch against the cage. She looks to break with an elbow but misses. Robertson circling on the outside and eats a couple of leg kicks and has another takedown attempt stuffed by the Brazilian. Eventually she secures a takedown and top position with a scramble and lands some nice knees to the body before the round ends. Close, but I’ve got it 10-9 Robertson.
Second round starts with Botelho coming forward and a nice strike sees Robertson’s mouth-guard fly out of her mouth. She marches forward and throws a kick that Robertson reads and ends up on her back. Robertson then spends the rest of the round in complete control on the ground, floating from position to position and threatening with ground and pound and submissions. Really good round for Robertson. 20-18.
Third round and Robertson is feinting takedowns and landing kicks instead to start with. Botelho comes forward again which allows Robertson the chance to change levels and secure yet another takedown. She gets into three-quarter mount quickly and starts landing lots of short elbows and ground and pound. Botelho is tired and beaten on the ground now and can’t even explode out. She gives up her back with seconds to go and Robertson takes it willingly to land more shots and take a pretty straight forward decision win.
A really fun first round in this one as the two debutants look to make an impression. Gamrot got a takedown early on after the initial feeling out process. Kutateladze throws up a rubber guard and threatens with a heel hook which gets the fight back to the feet. Kutateladze starts throwing big body kicks and nice combinations with the hands and keeps the fight standing for the most part to take the opening round. 10-9 Kutateladze.
Second round starts and Kutateladze lands a big right hand that drops Gamrot! The Pole recovers immediately though and looks for a takedown again but Kutateladze defends so well and keeps the fight standing. More body kicks and you can start to see the bruising on the ribs of Gamrot. Gamrot finally lands a takedown and keeps Kutateladze down for a short while and is able to land some ground and pound. That round could go either way.
Final round and Gamrot comes out hard and aggressive. He throws some nice jabs and hooks and attempts several takedowns throughout the round. Kutateladze defends so impressively and is able to land some body kicks back on the feet again but he’s tiring now. Gamrot continues with takedown attempts but he keeps struggling to keep the fight down on the ground for any stretch of time. He ends the round with some ground and pound but I think Kutateladze has done enough in the first two rounds.
Jonathan Martinez def Thomas Almeida via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A good competitive round to start the fight as Martinez uses his jab and footwork really well to cut the cage off to Almeida and prevent any danger coming back. Martinez throwing big kicks with the left leg and a nice left hook to take the opening round but Almeida is definitely in the fight and coming forward. 10-9 Martinez.
Second round and Almeida is leading the charge a little bit more in this round. He’s coming forward with longer combinations and is avoiding the jab of Martinez so far but a shot from Martinez has caused a cut under the left eye of Almeida. Almeida trying to vary his attacks with body kicks, head kicks and even a takedown attempt has got Martinez hesitating and Almeida lands a big left hook that drops him! Martinez gets back up quickly though and avoids further damage then lands a nice double jab that stuns Almeida. Really fun round, 19-19 for me.
What a round! Both men come out looking to claim the final round and are throwing really high level boxing combinations and exchanging kicks. Martinez’s jab is causing Almeida trouble but he’s now following it up with a big left hook that is landing and hurting Almeida. Almeida now throws a huge right hook of his own that lands clean but Martinez eats it well and comes back to land his own hook yet again. Another wild exchange to end the round as Martinez defends a takedown and should take the decision win. 29-28 Martinez for me.
James Krause def Claudio Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A fun first round as Claudio Silva looks to take Krause’s head off with every punch and Krause continuously slips the looping hooks and is landing a big right hand to counter it almost at will. He’s using his footwork well to avoid the big attacks and is countering quite easily but Silva is desperate for a takedown. He gets a body lock against the cage but Krause defends very well and manages to break away and stay safe. 10-9 Krause.
Second round is more of the same as Krause stays out of range and continues to counter the looping left hook of Silva with a straight right hand down the middle. Krause varying the attack a bit more now with some body shots and front kicks but overall it’s almost a carbon copy of the first round with Silva getting more and more tired. 20-18 Krause.
Final round and Silva is attacking the knee of Krause with kicks. Krause told his corner between rounds that his knee is injured so maybe there’s an audible there. Krause’s movement is severely limited in this third round, but Silva continues to throw looping punches that miss wildly while Krause continues to try and counter Silva with a straight right or a right hook. Silva finally lands one of those left hooks but Krause eats it well and continues to land with his right hand as the round ends. 30-27 Krause for me.
Jimmy Crute def Modestas Bukauskas via Knockout, Round 1 (2:01)
Crute comes out and takes the centre of the cage immediately, standing his ground and looking to trade early. Bukauskas trying to be mobile and move around a lot to stay out of range and both fighters exchange leg kicks. Crute goes for a takedown and drives to the cage, but Bukauskas defends well. Crute takes the centre again and lands a huge overhand right to counter a body kick attempt from Bukauskas and drops him! He lands a big follow up shot followed by two more to the grounded Bukauskas and the referee stops the fight. Huge knockout win for Jimmy Crute.
Jessica Andrade def Katlyn Chookagian via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)
Really competitive opening round between these two ladies as Andrade looks to impose her physicality early on and close the distance quickly. Andrade comes across the cage and quickly and engages in a clinch and goes straight to the ground with a slam. Chookagian uses her guard well to defend and gets slammed down again but nothing doing and she ends up getting back to her feet. Chookagian trying to use her range and kicking game to get a rhythm going but Andrade keeps pushing forward and throwing hooks. A clinch takes place again and Chookagian throws an elbow but Andrade throws a nasty body shot that makes her opponent scream in pain and walk away. Andrade hunts her down with a flying kick and then lands another body shot that drops Chookagian again and the referee stops the fight. Huge win in her flyweight debut!
Brian Ortega def Korean Zombie via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
A methodical start to this fight as Ortega and Zombie both showing patience early on. Ortega happy to stand in boxing range and throws a very heavy leg kick that gets the attention of his opponent. Ortega lands a nice hook with Zombie coming forward as he looks to counter all of Ortega’s attacks. Zombie comes forward and throws a body kick but Ortega throws a big hook that drops him! Zombie recovers immediately and gets back to his feet as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Ortega.
Second round and Ortega looks to continue with the patient approach, while Zombie is a bit more aggressive this time around. Ortega throwing a nice jab but Zombie is throwing nice leg kicks that are bruising up the legs of ‘T-City’. Takedown attempt from Ortega but Zombie does well to defend it. Zombie rushes in for a combo but Ortega counters with a spinning elbow right on the chin that drops Zombie! Ortega rushes for a ground and pound finish but Zombie survives the onslaught. Ortega ends the round with a takedown and on top. 20-18 but that was Zombie’s round until the knockdown.
Ortega’s jab is the big difference here in the third round as he keeps the distance and continues to land shots. Zombie is trying to push the pace a bit more but he’s not throwing nearly enough to trouble Ortega at the moment. Another spinning elbow attempt from Ortega just misses but he lands a nice left hook and some more leg kicks to take another round. 30-27 Ortega.
Fourth round and this is an Ortega clinic right now. More aggressive by Zombie as he tries to back Ortega up against the cage but then he doesn’t throw anything and Ortega lets a leg kick fly to create some distance. Ortega goes for a single leg takedown and drives Zombie back against the cage then drops the leg and lands a short right hand to the side of the head that opens up a cut over Zombie’s eye. Ortega continues to pop his jab and throw leg kicks as the round comes to an end once again. Dominant from T-City, 40-36.
Final round and Korean Zombie needs the finish badly. Ortega continues to completely dominate the striking exchanges, using excellent footwork to move in and out of range and just popping off his jab. Ortega chipping away at Zombie as the cut gets worse and blood pours down the face of the Korean Zombie. He cruises into the final minute behind his jab and takes an absolutely perfect victory. 50-45 Ortega.
The two men will face off in a clash described as a No.1 contender fight by UFC president Dana White, with personal pride as well as a future title shot on the line.
In an 11 fight card that will also see Jessica Andrade move up to strawweight for the first time to take on Katlyn Chookagian, I will break down every fight and give my predictions. I have already predicted the prelims here, and now I’ll take to the main card.
Last week I correctly predicted 8/13 overall with five perfect picks (winner, method, round) although I was wronged by arguably the greatest knockout of all-time for one of them.
Thomas Almeida (21-3) vs Jonathan Martinez (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
This one could be fun to open up the main card in the bantamweight division. Thomas Almeida was a 20-0 title contender before he got knocked out by Cody Garbrandt back in 2016 while Jonathan Martinez has had an intriguing run in the UFC so far. Almeida hasn’t fought since January 2018 due to an eye injury but prior to that he had lost three of four while Martinez is currently 3-2 in the UFC including his most recent knockout win over Frankie Saenz back in August. Both guys are Muay-Thai fighters with good hand speed, power and size and it’s a really tough fight to pick. At his best, Almeida would have the advantages but after almost three years away from the cage it’s hard to know what he’s bringing to the fight. Martinez is coming off a big win and he hits hard and accurately so with the likelihood of ring rust coming into play, I’m backing Martinez to take a close decision win. PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Unanimous Decision
Claudio Silva (14-1) vs James Krause (27-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Another short notice fight on the card as James Krause saves the day yet again, stepping in with around two weeks notice to take on 38 year old Claudio Silva. Despite his age, he doesn’t have a lot of cage miles on his clock, with Silva fighting just three times since 2014. He’s suffered injuries upon injuries but now looks to win a tenth fight by submission. Silva has zero striking proficiency so Krause should be able to pick him apart there, but Silva has a knack of finding a way to win. Krause is coming off a loss but it’s hard to consider it, since he stepped up to middleweight for the first time ever and lost a split decision on ONE DAYS notice. I think Krause’s striking matched up with his good ground game should see him scrape a close decision. PICK – James Krause via Unanimous Decision
Jimmy Crute (11-1) vs Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A clash between two future contenders in the light heavyweight division here as Australia’s Jimmy ‘The Brute’ Crute takes on the British-Lithuanian Modestas Bukauskas. Crute will be making his first appearance since February, where he defeated Michael Oleksiujczuk via a kimura in the first round while Bukauskas returns to Fight Island following a successful debut where he knocked out Andreas Michailidis with elbows. Bukauskas is a former British kickboxing champion and showed his striking chops in that debut fight but he also showed that his takedown defence isn’t the greatest. Against a guy stepping up from middleweight, he only just stayed on his feet and Crute is a fierce grappler himself. A natural 205lber, Crute is one of the most well rounded fighters in the division and has the ability to knock people out, out wrestle them and even submit them if necessary. Bukauskas is an impressive prospect for the future but right now he’s not on Crute’s level and the Aussie should be able to get an impressive stoppage win. PICK – Jimmy Crute via Submission, Round 1
Jessica Andrade (20-8) vs Katlyn Chookagian (14-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very, very good fight on the cards here in the women’s flyweight division as the former strawweight champion moves up to take on a former title challenger in the division. Chookagian is a kickboxer who uses her kicks and range to outpoint her opponents as her 11 decision wins shows on her record. Andrade on the other hand is a brawler who is happy to walk through the fire to get her hands on her opponent and be able to drag her down to the mat to use her wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills. She has lost her last two fights though, being knocked out by Weili Zhang and losing out to Rose Namajunas last time out on the judges scorecards. Chookagian has a huge height and reach advantage in the fight so it will suit her style perfectly, but Andrade is just so powerful and durable and will be able to push a pace that Chookagian has never had to keep up before. Andrade is much more likely to finish this fight than win on points which makes her super dangerous throughout and for that reason I think she’ll be able to get the win via stoppage. PICK – Jessica Andrade via Submission, Round 2
Brian Ortega (14-1) vs Korean Zombie (16-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Almost guaranteed to be the fight of the night, this grudge match will surely be a lot of fun. Brian Ortega is making his first appearance since December 2018 where he got absolutely battered by Max Holloway while the Korean Zombie looks to make it three wins in a row after he knocked out Frankie Edgar in December last year. ‘T-City’ stands for ‘Triangle City’ and that nickname is well earned, with Ortega’s jiu-jitsu game among the absolute best in all of MMA, while Zombie lives up to his nickname too with a kill or be killed style that has seen him destroy so many opponents in violent fashion. When Ortega tried to stand and bang with Holloway he ended up with a broken orbital bone, nose and hand and Holloway doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Zombie does. Chan Sung Jung is also not a slouch when it comes to grappling. He has submission wins via twister and d’arce chokes while his takedown defence is among the best in the division too. Overall, Ortega needs Zombie to make a mistake for him to win this fight. Zombie is too powerful and too well rounded and I think he may be able to get himself a knockout win if he lands heavy on the chin of ‘T-City’. PICK – Korean Zombie via Knockout, Round 3