Tag Archives: Makhmud Muradov

UFC Vegas 35: Barboza vs Chikadze – Main card predictions

The UFC featherweight division headlines a banger of a card in the APEX as Edson Barboza takes on Giga Chikadze in the main event, while The Ultimate Fighter finals take place too.

Chikadze takes on the former lightweight contender in his first main event, but before that the finale of both the bantamweight and middleweight division from the Ultimate Fighter Returns finale will take place as Ricky Turcios takes on Brady Hiestand, followed by Bryan Battle taking on late replacement Gilbert Urbina.

Kevin Lee also makes his return to the octagon against Daniel Rodriguez at welterweight in his first fight since he was submitted by Charles Oliveira back in March 2020.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 34 we went a disappointing 6/12 with two perfect picks for the night to move to 389/612 (63.56%) with 171 perfect picks (43.96%). We’ll look to improve that here, and after starting with the early prelims and the rest of the prelims we’ll pick the main card now.


Makhmud Muradov (25-6) vs Gerald Meerschaert (32-14) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight fight to open the main card as Muradov and Meerschaert meet in a classic striker vs grappler bout. Muradov has won 14-in-a-row including three-in-a-row in the UFC with his most recent fight against Andrew Sanchez ending with a flying-knee KO at UFC 257. Meerschaert bounced back from two losses in a row against Ian Heinisch and Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 11 before a submission win over Bartosz Fabinski.

Muradov is a sensational striker with great boxing skills and excellent footwork for a big man, while Meerschaert is a submission expert with 24 wins via tap out in his career. While he’s a great grappler though, he’s not a good wrestler and that is what Muradov is best at – denying takedowns and beating people up on the feet. Muradov has a tremendous speed advantage in this one and with his crisp striking it seems most likely that he can secure a win.

Overall, Muradov should have way too much for Meerschaert here. 17 wins via knockout tells me he has a killer instinct too and I think he’ll hit Meerschaert clean enough to get that big KO once again.
PICK – Makhmud Muradov via Knockout, Round 2

Andre Petroski (5-1) vs Micheal Gillmore (6-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Two TUF contestants from this season go head-to-head on the finale in this one at middleweight. Petroski is 5-1 with a defeat in his most recent professional fight via knockout, while Gillmore is on a three-fight win streak in his professional career before losing in the first round of the TUF house to finalist Gilbert Urbina.

Petroski is a powerhouse wrestler with powerful striking too and a good submission game. Gillmore on the other hand is a former karate champion with great striking and okay wrestling to try and keep fights standing. The issue for him is that his wrestling isn’t even close to that of Petroski’s and his showing in the TUF house won’t do much to convince anyone of anything different.

He walked backwards with little aggression and that allowed Urbina to score an early takedown so if Petroski gets that chance then this fight won’t last long at all.
PICK – Andre Petroski via Submission, Round 1

Kevin Lee (18-6) vs Daniel Rodriguez (15-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘The Motown Phenom’ is back in the octagon as he takes on the highly impressive ‘D-Rod’ in the welterweight division. Lee has struggled in the octagon recently, with just one win in his last four and no fights since March 2020 while Rodriguez has impressively won his last two-in-a-row against Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 23 and Preston Parsons.

Lee is a tremendous wrestler with great pedigree, but has spent most of his career in the lightweight division making him a bit of an inbetweener for division. Rodriguez on the other hand is a natural welterweight with tremendous boxing and a big size advantage for the fight. Rodriguez will use his jab plenty, but Lee will be happy to strike with him as he tries to open up the opportunities for takedowns.

The fight comes down to whether or not Lee can get a takedown and I’m not sure he can. Rodriguez absolutely has the striking advantage and power edge, and I think the size he has will be enough to stop Lee getting significant takedowns enough to score a close decision win.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision

Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs Brady Hiestand (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The first final from this year’s TUF series is the bantamweights. Turcios won two wars on the series this year but his most recent professional fights have been mixed, going 2-2 in his last four. Hiestand on the other hand had a close fight in the first round before securing an early TKO in his semi-final, while he is 1-1 professionally in his last two fights.

Turcios is a freestyle fighter who has good strikes with lots of volume and awkward movements, while he also has really good jiu-jitsu too. Hiestand is a solid wrestler with good top control and decent striking, but he has a lot less experience in this fight. Turcios knows how to work a crowd and judges and his volume is great, always moving forward with an iron chin.

Overall, I think once again we’ll see Turcios bring an entertaining fight but come out with a big win to be crowned the winner of this series and earn the contract.
PICK – Ricky Turcios via Decision

Bryan Battle (5-1) vs Gilbert Urbina (6-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The middleweight finale for TUF has a short-notice replacement involved after Tresean Gore pulled out with injury. Bryan Battle makes his UFC debut after two big wins as an underdog during the competition, while Urbina is brought back in to the finale after being KO’d by Gore in the semi-final in the house.

Battle is a mixed-style fighter with lots of heart and excellent cardio, with solid striking and excellent scrambles on the ground. Urbina on the other hand is a good striker with good volume but with some great wrestling to back him up too. The issue for Urbina is that he’s a welterweight naturally and against a natural middleweight he could struggle to get that wrestling going.

Battle is a great scrambler if he does get taken down and he has the volume and size advantage so should be more than able to secure an impressive win and earn himself a UFC contract.
PICK – Bryan Battle via Decision

Edson Barboza (22-9) vs Giga Chikadze (13-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The featherweight main event is upon us and it’s a striker’s paradise for MMA fans. Barboza has won his last two-fights in a row since moving down to 145lbs including a stunning knockout over Shane Burgos at UFC 262, while Chikadze has won his last eight-in-a-row including the last two by first round knockout against Jamey Simmons at UFC Vegas 13 and Cub Swanson at UFC Vegas 25.

Barboza is a stunning striker, with incredible kicks but also brilliant power in his hands with fun body shots and ripping crosses to the chin, while Chikadze is a super accurate kickboxer with a trademark body/head kick and crisp hands. The problem for Chikadze in this banger of a fight is that Barboza throws more volume and also has some pretty good grappling too.

Overall, it comes down to who can hit their opponent the most and harder and I think that Barboza has that advantage in this fight. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chikadze won, but Barboza is so polished at the highest level that I can’t go against him here.
PICK – Edson Barboza via Decision

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Amir Albazi def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the bout from Zhumagulov as he lands two really nice combos on the feet. Albazi starting to work some leg kicks but Zhumagulov throwing a heavy overhand right that is just missing the target. Albazi starting to pressure against the cage and throws a big knee that Zhumagulov just steps out of the way of. Albazi shoots for a double leg and gets it, but Zhumagulov uses the cage to get back up quickly and they break apart. Both men exchange leg kicks in the centre, before Albazi lands a big right hand. Spinning back fist in response from Zhumagulov is followed by a left hook. Big double leg takedown from Zhumagulov takes Albazi down in the final seconds and ends the round on top. 10-9 Zhalgas.

Albazi comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands three big leg kicks early that get a reaction from Zhumagulov. Looks for a big knee against the cage but misses again and Zhumagulov lands a nice left hand. Albazi jabbing really well and pressuring against the cage, as Zhumagulov is loading a big right hand but can’t land it. Lots of movement and small touches from each man but Albazi controlling the pace of this round well. Zhumagulov shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Albazi denies it and ends the round in a dominant position. 19-19.

Albazi controlling the distance in the final round here, landing jabs and maintaining his range. He shoots for the takedown and is denied but after a scramble he clinches up and gets Zhumagulov down and is in his full guard. Nice ground and pound and control from Albazi from the top position as he passes into side control and then takes the back. Albazi sinks the hooks in and threatens a rear naked choke but Zhumagulov fighting the hands well. Zhumagulov tries to turn into his guard but Albazi defends the position perfectly and continues the threaten the submission as we enter the final minute. Zhumagulov bursts out and gets back to his feet and starts firing punches and kicks. Albazi counters with a right hand and just using his footwork really well to avoid any damage and the round ends. Should be a win for Albazi. 29-28.

Movsar Evloev def Nik Lentz via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to this fight, as Lentz throws a leg kick and shovel uppercut to start the fight before moving for a takedown against the cage. Evloev defends well and falls on top, but Lentz looks to lock in a guillotine choke! It gets tighter and tighter and Evloev has to roll through to escape, before rolling through once again to end up back on top. Lentz continue to threaten with the guillotine but Evloev defends well again and ends the round on top firing in some excellent ground and pound. 10-9 Evloev.

Lentz looking to stand in this round and landing well but Evloev trying to up the pace and coming forward with some more awkward striking. Trip attempt from Lentz against the cage and once again he goes for the guillotine and forces Evloev to roll away once again. Lentz seems to be landing the better strikes on the feet but Evloev is doing more damage to the blind eye. Nice uppercut from Evloev lands and Lentz charges forward looking for a trip but misses it. Evloev lands some shots to the eye and it’s causing Lentz some problems, so he goes for a front headlock looking for a guillotine again! Evloev escapes again though and smothers Lentz with a few strikes as they stand up. Round ends against the cage, 20-18 Evloev for me.

Both men choosing to strike in this round, trading jabs and kicks. Lentz looks very tired but is trying to take the centre, while Evloev is bouncing and moving well still. Evloev lands a nice three-punch combo and that gets Lentz to shoot for a takedown but Evloev defends it really well and gets back to the feet quickly. Evloev catches a kick from Lentz and lands a stiff right hand that wobbles Lentz, who looks exhausted now. Evloev dominating the fight now with sharp striking and short combos, really putting a hurting on Lentz. Round comes to an end with Evloev dominating the exchanges again, a beautiful performance. 30-27.

PRELIMS

Marcin Prachnio def Khalil Rountree Jr via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A cagey start to this one with lots of feints and fakes from both fighters. Prachnio backs Rountree up against the cage and fires off some kicks, but Rountree comes back with some big punches of his own. Prachnio throwing a nice side kick to maintain distance, but Rountree switches to southpaw and starts throwing big straight left hands to steal the round potentially. 10-9 either way, but Rountree for me.

Rountree comes out hard and fast in the second round and wobbles Prachnio immediately but stays patient and doesn’t go for the kill. Some more left hands land from Rountree but Prachnio is swinging wildly and landing on occasion. Big exchange in the centre and then throws a lazy leg kick that gets countered with a powerful left hand. Rountree is countering Prachnio’s strikes really well and then lands a huge left hand that drops Prachnio! He stays patient and then lands a huge head kick but Prachnio keeps it standing and the round ends. Huge end for Rountree. 20-18 for me but could be even.

Big start to the third round for Rountree again as he lands a couple more of those big left hands to open up. Prachnio being a bit more patient and coming forward with his shots but Rountree looking good. Rountree defends two takedowns well and Prachnio starting to work on the body as Rountree is tiring. Lazy swings from Rountree now but then he lands a beautiful counter uppercut. Both men trading strikes in the centre of the octagon looking for a winning punch but the round comes to an end. Great fight, 29-28 Rountree for me but could well be the other way.

Juliana Pena def Sara McMann via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:39)

Cagey opening to this fight but both women looking to take this fight on the feet to start with, trading solid shots to the head. McMann fires off with a big right hand, Pena fires back with one of her own. Takedown attempt from McMann and she takes it, quickly progressing to take the back of Pena. She tries to sink the hooks in but doesn’t quite get it and they eventually scramble to a half-guard position with McMann on top. She lands a big elbow from the top and keeps the position for the rest of the round. 10-9 McMann.

Pena comes out with big pressure in the second round and forces McMann to shoot early. Pena looks to lock up a guillotine but McMann defends it really well and passes into guard. Pena being very active off her back, throwing lots of elbows and strikes and looking for submissions. McMann defending the submissions well though and landing some big elbows of her own. She tries to transition to the back but Pena defends well and gets back to the feet against the cage. Clinch position sees both women throw lots of knees to the body, before Pena lands a nice three-punch combo to end the round. 19-19 for me.

Big round for Pena as she comes out heavy with the strikes again before another clinch against the cage. This time Pena goes for a trip and gets it. She starts working the ground and pound from the top with McMann facing down on the ground. Pena takes the back, slaps on a body triangle and immediately goes for a rear naked choke. She sinks it in and McMann taps out. What a performance.

Brad Tavares def Antonio Carlos Junior via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to the fight for ‘Shoeface’ as the two trade strikes before he shoots for the takedown against the cage. He tries to lift the head above Tavares’ head to send him to the ground but he shows excellent flexibility to deny him. The two then trade big shots in the centre and Shoeface shoots again, powering Tavares across the cage. Tavares manages to keep his balance though and keep the fight standing after a clinch against the cage. A big exchange again sees Shoeface go for the takedown before they clinch against the cage and a big low blow accidentally lands from Shoeface. Fight paused but only a few seconds remain. 10-9 Shoeface.

Better start to the round for Tavares here as he lands some nice strikes before Shoeface changes levels and gets the takedown successfully this time. Shoeface tries to hold him down but Tavares pops back up to his feet again and manages to escape once again. Tavares landing his jab nicely which forces Shoeface to shoot for another takedown but he fails it again. Tavares lands a big one-two against the cage that drops Shoeface! He tries to go for the takedown to recover but Tavares defends it again and looks to land a big knee that misses and hits the cup to cause a pause and allow Shoeface to recover. Round ends with a big body kick from Tavares. 19-19.

Tavares popping his jab out nicely in the final round, keeping Shoeface at a distance. Shoeface shoots for another takedown but once again it’s defended perfectly against the cage and comes out firing big leg kicks. Tavares is slipping the punches of Shoeface now and landing big strikes of his own and defending takedowns too for the rest of the round to claim what should be a decision win for the Hawaiian. 29-28.

Arman Tsarukyan def Matt Frevola via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Fast paced start to this one as Frevola steps out with a wild right hook that misses and Tsarukyan shoots straight in for a takedown and gets it. Frevola scoots back to the cage and gets back to his feet before being lifted and slammed back down. Frevola gets back to his feet quickly again but Tsarukyan continues to stay in the pocket and changes levels for more takedowns. Frevola continues to reverse positions and get back to his feet quickly though and is throwing with great power on the feet to end the round. 10-9 Tsarukyan but could go either way.

Fast start to the second round here too as Tsarukyan comes out and moves straight for a takedown and gets it. He finally manages to hold Frevola down and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes from the top. Frevola tries to escape but Tsarukyan drags him back down to the ground and starts to dominate. He keeps him down and lands more big strikes and passes position to take the round. 20-18 Tsarukyan.

Final round and Tsarukyan is maintaining a good pace and gets another takedown early. Frevola gets back to the feet quicker this time and the two engage in a bit more of a striking battle. Some great jabs land before more takedowns from Tsarukyan as he starts to hold position and dominate from the top. Fantastic performance and it should be enough to get him the decision. 30-27.

MAIN CARD

Marina Rodriguez def Amanda Ribas via Knockout, Round 2 (0:54)

Good start to the fight for Ribas as she takes the centre of the cage, applies pressure and throws a few flurries of punches. Rodriguez looks to come in with a punch and Ribas slips it and gets a takedown early on. She keeps top position and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes as Rodriguez looks to defend from her back. Ribas continues to control from the top landing strikes and sees out the round. 10-9 Ribas.

Rodriguez comes out in the second round and lands a huge right hand early that drops Ribas! She lands some huge shots and the referee steps in then steps back out.. Ribas gets back up with Rodriguez celebrating but the fight isn’t over. Rodriguez comes back, lands a huge elbow and two massive right hands before the referee waves it off! What a knockout!

Makhmud Muradov def Andrew Sanchez via Knockout, Round 3 (2:59)

Tense start to this fight with both men bouncing in and out of distance looking to get a reaction from each other. Sanchez shoots in for a takedown but Muradov sprawls and defends it perfectly, as he gets back up quickly and throws some heavy calf kicks. Muradov lands a nice right hand on the chin, but Sanchez eats it well. More calf kicks from Muradov before a nice one-two to the body. Another leg kick but Sanchez throws a nice right hand to counter and lands it well. Muradov goes for a flying knee but Sanchez lands a nice strike. Muradov goes for a takedown with seconds remaining but Sanchez denies it. 10-9 Muradov.

An interesting second round as Muradov continues to look for leg kicks, while Sanchez is closing the distance well and landing a straight right hand. Lots of bouncing and feinting again from both men as Sanchez goes for a takedown against the cage but Muradov defends it well. Muradov lands a nice right hand but Sanchez continues to walk forward and strike. Big left hook from Muradov lands with a straight right behind it. Big flying crane kick from Muradov and a huge right hand behind it opens a big cut on the nose of Sanchez as the round ends. Close round, but that final exchange edges it to Muradov. 20-18.

Slower start to the third round as Muradov looks to take the centre and control the pace. Some nice body shots land before a big right overhand right connects, but Sanchez is still in there firing back. Muradov has abandoned the leg kicks now it seems and is looking for a big knockout. Sanchez lands two big shots, but Muradov returns fire with a big overhand right that makes Sanchez do the chicken dance. Flying knee behind it before some bombs and the referee waves it off. Huge win!

Joanne Calderwood def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Fast start to this fight as Calderwood moves in quickly with clinch and lands some dirty boxing and knees to the body. Eye trying to use her physicality edge by wearing Calderwood up against the cage and firing back with strikes of her own. Calderwood landing some nice knees to the body as Eye looks to find a takedown against the cage. Lots of body work in the clinch from both ladies, with slightly more diverse attacking from Calderwood. Very even round.

Eye is marching forward in this round and landing her right hand well, but Calderwood using her length well from the outside. Nice push kicks and a big right hand lands for Calderwood, but Eye fires back with some uppercuts in the clinch and a nice elbow. Huge knee to the face by Calderwood on the break from a clinch and a huge body kick follows it up. Calderwood striking really well from range, althought Eye gets a takedown late on in the round but should still be a Calderwood round. 20-18 or 19-19.

Eye comes out aggressively in the final round and goes straight with a clinch against the cage as she looks for an opportunity for a takedown. Calderwood defending really well but not much action being seen as they battle to a stalemate against the cage and the referee breaks them apart. Clinch in the centre and Calderwood lands some nice knees again, then stuffs a takedown attempt. Nice right hand from Calderwood lands and then she sprawls quickly to deny Eye’s takedown attempt. Final 30 seconds and they clinch again, with both women throwing big knees and Calderwood lands a strike that cuts Eye wide open above the eye! That should be a Calderwood decision win.

Michael Chandler def Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 1 (2:30)

Very tense start to the bout as the first 90 seconds are essentially just Hooker circling away from Chandler. A few leg kicks land but Chandler keeps coming forward. Long jab to the body and a huge left hook lands and drops Hooker!! He pounces and smashes him on the ground until the referee steps in and ends the fight! Wow! What a debut!

Dustin Poirier def Conor McGregor via Knockout, Round 2 (2:32)

Fast start from McGregor as he comes out into the centre quickly and throws a straight left. Poirier slips another one and returns with a right hook then gets an outside trip and takes the fight to the ground (!?) McGregor scoots back to the cage and works his way back up to his feet. Clinch against the cage and the two exchange shoulder strikes before breaking. The two break and Conor lands a clean left hand on the chin that wobbles Poirier but he stays standing Both guys land nice shots. Poirier working the leg kicks but McGregor fires back to end the round. 10-9 Conor.

Second round and Poirier continues to fire leg kicks and they seem to be hurting Conor more and more. McGregor is struggling to walk on the leg and Poirier is starting to turn the pressure up. Nice shots land and McGregor is hurt. He’s sitting in the pocket and trading, but Poirier is landing heavy shots. He lands a big combination and sits McGregor down! Follows up with a few more but the referee waves it off! Wow!

UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Prelims Predictions

A swift return to action for the UFC as the final instalment of their Fight Island triple header is upon us, with Dustin Poirier taking on Conor McGregor in a lightweight eliminator.

A rematch from six years prior, both men look to put their stamp to a claim to be the next challenger for the 155lbs championship while in the co-main event, two other lightweight contenders scrap to do the same thing. Michael Chandler makes his UFC debut after signing from Bellator to take on Dan Hooker, with both men knowing that a win puts them firmly in the conversation for the next title shot.

A fun 11 fight card is on the horizon here, with plenty of good fights on the undercard to come before the two big bouts of the night.

Last time out at UFC Fight Island 8, we went 12/14 with our picks with four perfect picks to boost us up to 212/327 (64.83%) with 93 perfect picks (43.87%) since starting our picks back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the six prelim bouts.

PRELIMS

Amir Albazi (13-1) vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Both these men had differing debut experiences in the UFC on Fight Island last year and now meet together in the card opener.

Albazi won his debut with a first round submission over Malcolm Gordon, while Zhumagulov was beaten rather controversially in a unanimous decision defeat to Raulian Paiva. Zhumagulov is a tidy striker, throwing lots of one-twos but also with strong wrestling skills. Albazi is also a tidy striker but he has supreme submission skills from his back and even moreso from top position.

It’s a well contested fight with two relatively evenly-matched fighters. On the feet they’re almost identical in technique and execution and on the ground I give the edge to Albazi so I think he’ll be able to take a tight decision win.
PICK – Amir Albazi via Decision

Nik Lentz (30-11-2) vs Movsar Evloev (13-0) – (Catchweight/150lbs)

UFC Veteran Nik Lentz returns to the octagon for the first time in a year to take on an undefeated Russian in Movsar Evloev, who steps in on short notice to take this.

Lentz has lost his last two, being knocked out by Charles Oliveira in 2019 before dropping a decision to Arnold Allen in January 2020. Evloev is undefeated and 3-0 in the UFC, with wins over Seung Woo Choi, Enrique Barzola and Mike Grundy on Fight Island last year. Lentz is a solid grappler who has some striking power, but Evloev is a well-rounded stud who holds the advantage everywhere in this fight.

This should be a pretty one-sided fight, with Evloev just a level above Lentz. His wrestling will see him take the top position at some point and control for 15 minutes for a lopsided win.
PICK – Movsar Evloev via Decision

Khalil Rountree Jr (9-4) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A return to the octagon after over a year away for Khalil Rountree as he takes on ‘Polish power V2’ in Marcin Prachnio.

Rountree turned in a fantastic performance to beat Eryk Anders in April 2019, before dropping a first round KO to Ion Cutelaba last time out. Prachnio came into the UFC in great nick, but has been knocked out in the first round of all three of his UFC fights so far including most recently against Mike Rodriguez in August 2020.

Rountree’s trip to Thailand has turned his style on it’s head, and he’s a great power puncher with speed and accuracy. Prachnio comes forward looking for the knockout but it just doesn’t seem to work in the UFC. His karate style likes to see him stay at range but Rountree’s speed and power should be enough to see him get another win.
PICK – Khalil Rountree Jr via Knockout, Round 1

Juliana Pena (10-4) vs Sara McMann (12-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Juliana Pena returns to the octagon having lost two of her last three fights to take on 40-year-old Sara McMann in the women’s bantamweight division.

Pena’s last win came against Nicco Montano in July 2019, but that was sandwiched between losses to Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine De Randamie. McMann has also lost two of her last three, but she returned after almost two years out to get a decision win over Lina Lansberg last time out.

Both these women will look to take the fight to the ground with striking neither of their strong suits, with McMann a strong wrestler while Pena is a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It’s all about who ends up on the top in this one and the wrestling advantage gives McMann the edge in that, so she has the best chance of winning.
PICK – Sara McMann via Decision

Brad Tavares (17-7) vs Antonio Carlos Junior (11-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight scrap between two prospects at 185lbs. Tavares has lost his last two fights, losing to champion Israel Adesanya back in 2018 before losing to Edmen Shahbazyan in November 2019 via first round knockout. ‘Shoeface’ is in the same boat too, losing his last two to Ian Heinisch and Uriah Hall in September 2019.

Both men have not looked good in their most recent fights but have taken a long time away from the sport recently. Tavares has a good striking background while Shoeface has some of the strangest striking techniques you’ll ever see, but is a very good grappler. He has a huge jiu-jitsu advantage and with the grappling advantage too, I think Tavares taps out for the first time in his career.
PICK – Antonio Carlos Junior via Submission, Round 2

Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs Nasrat Haqparast (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A sleeper for fight of the night after the top two fights on the card, these two lightweights look to steal the show on a card where their division is in the limelight.

Tsarukyan has won his last two in a row in the UFC, with decision wins over Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Davi Ramos last year on Fight Island, while ‘Baby Gastelum’ Haqparast bounced back from a first round knockout loss to Drew Dober with a decision win over Alex Munoz in August.

Haqparasr is a really good boxer with good footwork and a great jab, but also strong takedown defence too with over 80% success rate in his UFC career. Tsarukyan is another good striker but he has tremendous takedowns and chain wrestling. He’s also a tidy striker on his own, but his game plan is almost always to strike until the opportunity presents itself to get the takedown. It all hangs on whether Haqparast can keep it standing and I’m not so confident he will this time around.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision