The UFC returns to the O2 Arena in London, England for a huge trilogy bout for the undisputed welterweight title as Leon Edwards defends his title for the first time against Kamaru Usman.
Edwards earned a stunning fifth round comeback win in their fight back in August, and now they run it back in a huge main event.
They’ll be anchored by 14 fights, including the co-main event between lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev, as well as local stars like Jack Shore moving up to featherweight, Muhammad Mokaev, Lerone Murphy and Christian Duncan making his UFC debut.
Last time out at UFC Las Vegas we got the main event spot on to improve our percentages, and the last numbered card saw us go 12/14 with six perfect picks to move to 849/1313 (64.66%) with 348 perfect picks (40.99%). You can see our full pick history here.
Lerone Murphy (11-0-1) vs Gabriel Santos (10-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A real banger in the featherweight division in a short-notice fight up next. Murphy is undefeated in the UFC and has won his last three in a row, KO’ing Ricardo Ramos and Makwan Amirkhani with a decision win over Douglas Silva de Andrade in the middle. Santos is an undefeated fighter with seven finishes from his ten fights and is the current LFA featherweight champion.
Murphy is an all-round demon when it comes to the fight game with terrific wrestling and super powerful striking too. In fact, he seems to be better everywhere than Santos, but the Brazilian has got plenty of pressure and heart to keep going and the confidence of having never been beaten before. The one weeks’ notice is a big issue though.
Murphy hasn’t fought for almost 18 months after he was hit by a car while cycling, and if that health scare took a lot out of him then Santos has a chance. But if this is the same Murphy we’ve all come to know in recent years, he should have enough to get a stoppage win. PICK – Lerone Murphy via Knockout, Round 2
Muhammad Mokaev (9-0) vs Jafel Filho (14-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The hottest prospect in the flyweight division is back and takes on a Contender Series graduate in this one. Mokaev is 3-0 in the UFC after submitting Cody Durden and Malcolm Gordon while dominating Charles Johnson to a decision win too. Filho makes his UFC debut on a five-fight finishing streak, including a knockout win over Roybert Echeverria back in September.
Mokaev is one of the very best grapplers we have from the UK, with unbelievable wrestling skills to go with dangerous jiu-jitsu skills and some decent striking too. Filho is a very good submission artist with some decent power too, but he’s a level or two below where Mokaev is right now to put it simply.
Filho has the ability to catch Mokaev with a sneaky submission, but “The Punisher” is very good at staying safe and controlling his opponents. Expect that for long spells before he gets more aggressive late on and lands his own submission win to make a statement again. PICK – Muhammad Mokaev via Submission, Round 3
Sam Patterson (10-1-1) vs Yanal Ashmoz (6-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very interesting lightweight scrap up next between two guys making their UFC debuts. Patterson shone on the Contender Series with a solid submission win last time out, while Ashmoz is undefeated and makes the move over from the PFL for his first fight in exactly one year.
Patterson is a fighter who relies a lot on his cardio to get him through tough moments, with some excellent submission skills and lengthy striking technique because of his size. Ashmoz is a grinder who has a bit of everything, but there are a few levels between these fighters and the way they can execute a game plan.
The likelihood here is that Ashmoz is competitive early on before Patterson starts to piece him up on the feet, then shoots for a takedown too eagerly and leaves his neck exposed for Patterson to secure one of his trademark guillotine wins. PICK – Sam Patterson via Submission, Round 2
Chris Duncan (9-1) vs Omar Morales (11-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight up next with yet another hometown fighter in the red corner. Duncan has won his last two in a row including a first-round KO win on the Contender Series last time out back in August, while Morales has lost three of his last four to Giga Chikadze, Jonathan Pearce and Uros Medic most recently.
Duncan is a striker with great power, but a real lack of defensive nous and a greater lack of speed leaves him with plenty to be desired. Morales steps into this fight on one month’s notice, and is an aggressive kickboxer with good power and technique too. He doesn’t have the grappling to be able to really make Duncan work, but this is an interesting fight.
On paper Duncan has the tools to win this, but Morales also has the ability to really outshine him and take a wide decision. I can’t see either man getting finished, and with a close fight expected I think Duncan will be able to do just enough to claim the win on the cards with his range, aggression and volume. PICK – Chris Duncan via Decision
Jack Shore (16-1) vs Makwan Amirkhani (17-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun fight to close out the prelims section of the card as Jack Shore makes his featherweight debut in this one. Shore lost his undefeated record to Ricky Simon most recently and opted to move up to continue his career, while Amirkhani has lost four of his last five including a TKO loss to Jonathan Pearce at UFC London in July last year in his last fight.
Shore is one of the most complete fighters to come out of the UK, with excellent wrestling and submission skills to go with powerful and technical striking. Amirkhani is very much a grappler with great submission skills, but his striking isn’t horrendous and he’s capable of mixing it in to secure takedowns. This is a good test for Shore moving up in weight, but he should have no problems here realistically.
He’s not out-sized despite the division change, he’s a fantastic grappler who is capable of more than holding his own on the mat and he’s by far the better striker. Amirkhani is notorious for having poor cardio too, so expect Shore to drag him into deep waters before getting a ground and pound finish somewhere in the middle round. PICK – Jack Shore via Knockout, Round 2
Makwan Amirkhani (17-7) vs Jonathan Pearce (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A really fun 145-pound fight up next between two great grapplers. Amirkhani snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out, submitting Mike Grundy in just 57 seconds via anaconda choke. Pearce is on a three-fight win streak KO’ing Kai Kamaka III, submitting Omar Morales (UFC 266) and then earning a decision over Christian Rodriguez most recently.
Amirkhani is a great grappler with really tight submission skills to work from, earning 12 submission wins in his career. “JSP” on the other hand is a great wrestler, but he tends to use his physicality to wear on opponents and uses his volume as a weapon to really grind on them. That means this fight goes one of two ways – a quick submission or a dominant display.
I’m leaning towards the dominant display, because Amirkhani isn’t as active from the top as he should be considering his skillset and his cardio lets him down on a regular basis. So long as Pearce doesn’t give up his back early doors, he should be able to use his activity to score points and then eventually grind his way to a wide decision of potentially even a late finish. PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Decision
Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs Charles Rosa (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Finally, “The Prospect” is back in a UFC octagon! Wood suffered defeat way back at UFC 254 against Casey Kenney and has seen several fights fall out ever since. Rosa on the other hand has lost his last two, dropping decisions to Damon Jackson and then most recently TJ Brown at UFC Vegas 46.
Wood is a fine striker on the feet but he’s also got some half-decent wrestling and submission skills from the top position. Rosa meanwhile is a great striker and he has got some violent top position which opens up submission attempts, but he has never been able to sort out his God-awful takedown defence and that’s a huge problem in this match up.
His offensive wrestling isn’t good enough to take Wood down at will, and the Brit is very good at scrambling back to his feet anyway. Outside of that, Wood is the better fighter everywhere. He’s a better striker, better wrestler, more powerful and quicker. He chooses how to win this essentially barring a hail Mary submission win, so go with Wood for a W. PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision
Marc Diakiese (15-5) vs Damir Hadzovic (14-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another British lightweight on the card in this match up. Diakiese suffered back-to-back defeats against Rafael Fiziev and Rafael Alves, before bouncing back with a decision win over Viacheslav Borshchev most recently. Hadzovic did the same in his last fight, beating Yancy Medeiros via unanimous decision.
Diakiese is a solid kickboxer with good power and explosiveness, while his takedown defence is strong too. Hadzovic is a brawler who relies on his heavy hands big time, and hopes to encourage his opponents to be drawn into a scrap with him. Diakiese won’t do that, because he’s got the advantage everywhere this fight goes.
“Bonecrusher” is taller, has a better reach, is the better technical striker and if he really needs it he’s by far the better wrestler too. Hadzovic’s takedown defence is pretty poor and Diakiese has shown great durability throughout his career to make a one-punch KO unlikely, so expect a dominant win for Diakiese. PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision
Mason Jones (11-1) vs Ludovit Klein (18-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An absolute barnstormer of a fight gets the featured prelim spot, just one week after the fight got put together. Jones suffered the first defeat of his career to Mike Davis at UFC Fight Island 8, before a no contest against Alan Patrick at UFC Vegas 28. He finally got back in the win column last time out though, dominating David Onama. Klein on the other hand snapped a two fight losing-streak last time out when he grabbed a split decision over Devonte Smith at UFC 272.
Jones is a really well-rounded prospect, who has controlled the distance and pace of all his fights so far and dominated most people with his relentless pressure. Klein meanwhile is a really talented striker, with incredible kicks and striking skills but his overall game tends to let him down against people who won’t have a kickboxing match with him. Jones is almost certain to pressure Klein to death and look to land combinations and knees to the body.
Klein has the ability to knock Jones out because he’s always willing to take a shot to give three back. But if Jones is capable of eating them, in the way he’s been able to against everyone else, then he will walk through them and punish Klein with his pressure. Klein’s cardio tends to let him down later in fights, so expect Jones to really put it on him and maybe even get a finish late on. PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 3
After a three year absence the UFC returns to London and the O2 Arena for a huge UFC London fight card, headlined by heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall.
A stacked card will see the two heavyweights competing to get title contention with a win, while we’ll also see the likes of Arnold Allen take on Dan Hooker, Paddy Pimblett makes his UK return while Jack Shore, Nathaniel Wood and Muhammad Mokaev also compete too.
Jack Shore (15-0) vs Timur Valiev (18-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Arguably the fight of the night, so no idea why this is all the way down the card like this. Shore is an undefeated talent with a perfect 15-0 record, earning a dominant decision win over Liudvik Sholinian at UFC Vegas 36 most recently while Valiev earned a mightily impressive win over Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 30 in his most recent outing to make it eight wins in his last nine bouts.
Shore is a technical kickboxer with some solid top game too with excellent jiu-jitsu skills too, while Valiev is a speedy striker who has really strong wrestling skills too and has fought a better level of competition. This is an incredibly close match up stylistically and in terms of their current level and could really go either way.
Valiev has the speed edge on the feet and his wrestling is usually good enough to dictate where the bout goes, but Shore will pressure him hard and if he gets on top the likelihood is the round ends with a finish or with him still in that position. Valiev has shown an ability to get KO’d in the past and while Shore doesn’t have that one-punch power himself, the ground-and-pound game will come in handy to secure him a late finish. PICK – Jack Shore via Knockout, Round 3
Nikita Krylov (27-8) vs Paul Craig (15-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A big light heavyweight banger up next as ‘BearJew’ makes a return to the octagon. Krylov has alternated defeats and losses in the UFC with losses against Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira and Magomed Ankalaev most recently at UFC Vegas 20 while he earned wins against Ovince St Preux and Johnny Walker. Craig hasn’t fought since UFC 263, where he smashes Jamahal Hill and got a nasty TKO after pulling guard and dislocating his elbow.
Krylov is a solid offensive fighter with good kickboxing skills, good power in his hands and a decent ground game too. Craig on the other hand is a highly-skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and while he has powerful striking, his home is on the mat. Krylov will want to keep this fight standing as much as possible, but Craig should look to bring it down quickly.
On the feet, Krylov is the more crisp striker and he has got 15 submission wins in his career from the top position but he’s also been defeated five times via tap out. Craig will likely get clipped on the feet, pull guard and eventually work his way to an armbar for yet another brilliant submission win.. PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 2
Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-6) vs Sergei Pavlovich (14-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights step up to the plate in this prelim bout between a veteran and a prospect among the big men. Abdurakhimov returned after two-years away to get stomped by Chris Daukaus at UFC 266 last time out, while Pavlovich is on a two-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since October 2019.
‘Abrek’ is a grinding wrestler, with a great sambo background and dominant top game looking to wear on his opponents on the mat. Pavlovich on the other hand is a heavy-handed striker with tremendous power, but some takedown defence issues make this a hard fight to call. Abdurakhimov is happy to take a punch or three to close the distance and get hold of his opponent, but those punches could see the end of the night early on.
Pavlovich’s path to victory is clear; avoid takedowns and strike with speed and power. If he can keep this on the feet then I expect him to land enough clean shots to end this one early and while Abdurakhimov will try hard for the takedown I think he gets dropped on the way in before a quick finish. PICK – Sergei Pavlovich via Knockout, Round 1
Mike Grundy (12-3) vs Makwan Amirkhani (16-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fun featherweight scrap rounds off the prelims section of the card between two European fighters. Grundy is on a two-fight losing streak, dropping decisions against Movsar Evloev and then most recently Lando Vannatta at UFC 262. Amirkhani on the other hand has lost each of his last three, dropping decisions against Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk before getting KO’d by Lerone Murphy at UFC 267 most recently.
Grundy is a freestyle wrestler, who looks to use pressure and a big right hand on the feet to set up his takedowns. Amirkhani is a brilliant wrestler also, with excellent submission skills but just about two rounds of cardio in the bank. If it goes to the ground, it’s all about how long they’re there for and who’s on top.
If Amirkhani is on top, then I expect him to be able to work the position before finding a neck or an arm and getting a submission win. If Grundy is on top he will look to wear on Amirkhani and start using big ground and pound on the mat to do damage. With their skills matched up, I’m going to go with the cardio and home crowd advantage of Grundy to drag him through and earn him the victory. PICK – Mike Grundy via Decision
Tagir Ulanbekov def Allan Nascimento via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
A couple of hard low kicks early from Nascimento to start the fight, but Ulanbekov taking the centre and flicking his jab out nicely. Another nice leg kick from Nascimento and then he follows that up with a nice right hand. Flying knee attempt just misses but Ulanbekov grabs a body lock and takes the fight to the ground immediately. Nascimento defending really well on the ground and threatening with an armbar, then sweeps to the top but Ulanbekov immediately gets up and tries to get the fight back down against the cage. Ulanbekov battling against submission attempts and ends up in a mounted guillotine and it’s tight! Nascimento fighting it and eventually pops his head out to survive! Amazing! Ulanbekov gets back to top position and is resting in a controlling position, with Nascimento threatening with a guillotine of his own. He now moves to a kimura trap to try and get to his feet but the round ends. Great round. 10-9 Ulanbekov for me.
Good start to the round again from Ulanbekov with his jab landing well, before he shoots in deep for a takedown. Nascimento defends it well against the cage but eventually Ulanbekov is able to change levels and get the fight down. Nascimento threatening with a kimura from the bottom, but Ulanbekov defending it well and eventually gets back into full guard without the threat. Nascimento being very active off his back, but Ulanbekov trying to stifle him from the top to control him. Nascimento tries for a triangle but Ulanbekov deals with it easily, before Nascimento lands a huge elbow from the bottom. Nascimento goes for an armbar and starts smashing him with elbows from the bottom to see out the round. Close, but I edge to Nascimento there for attacking more despite being on the bottom. 19-19.
Big knee attempt from Nascimento early on but Ulanbekov gets the fight to ground once again immediately. Nascimento went for a kimura trap immediately and swept him to get on top but once against Ulanbekov raced to the next position to maintain control. Ulanbekov in full guard just stalling and looking for a bit of ground and pound, but Nascimento seems happy enough on his back to look for submissions. Ulanbekov trying to pass guard but Nascimento is looking to make him defend as much as possible. He finally passes into half guard now and starts looking for some short elbows from the top. Big left hand lands but Nascimento still being active and trying to sweep him. Final minute and Nascimento goes for another kimura, but Ulanbekov defends it excellently again. Nascimento goes for a triangle armbar but Ulanbekov defends it and ends the round with some big ground shots to likely claim a win. 29-28 Ulanbekov.
Andre Petroski def Hu Yaozong via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (4:46)
Lots of feinting early on from both guys, before Petroski flies in with a big left hand that just misses. Petroski lands two big left hands and then Yaozong goes for a head-kick that gets blocked and he ends up on his back. Petroski goes straight for the neck and jumps on a mounted guillotine but it’s not quite in yet. He lets go and takes the back, rains down some big ground and pound. He goes for the rear-naked choke and it’s tight but Yaozong explodes out and Petroski goes for a d’arce but Yaozong gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a big left hand again but Yaozong is still coming forward. Petroski throws two big strikes that lands clean but Yaozong eats it. Three huge left hooks land from Petroski but Yaozong is still standing and Petroski is exhausted. Single leg takedown from Petroski but Yaozong gets straight back up and keeps coming forward. One more left hand lands for good measure as the round ends. Crazy round. 10-9 Petroski.
Immediate takedown from Petroski and he goes for a guillotine again, but Yaozong scrambles out quickly and gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a huge left hand and then a couple more, before another takedown where he now looks to control the position. Another attempted guillotine from Petroski before he looks to control again. Petroski moves to side control and looks for a head-and-arm choke but Yaozong grabs his own leg to defend it. Petroski looks to move to his back but Yaozong defends it again, but Petroski is controlling him much better now. Petroski moves into full mount and then goes for the head-and-arm choke again, but once again Yaozong defends it. Yaozong gets back to his feet but Petroski keeps a body lock and takes him down once again. Petroski flows on the mat and takes Yaozong’s back again and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Petroski controls until the buzzer goes. 20-18 Petroski.
Petroski lands a big left hand as Yaozong pressures him to the cage early in the final round, but Petroski shoots for a takedown and then runs him the entire way across before getting him down. Petroski takes control and looks to move to his back, then lands a few big ground strikes before pulling Yaozong backwards onto the mat. Petroski flowing well and looks for a guillotine, before Yaozong gets back to his feet. Yaozong sprawls and slips and then Petroski lands a huge one-two Douglas Lima style. Petroski gets another takedown and ends up in full mount, landing big elbows but Yaozong refusing to give up. Another huge elbow from Petroski and he works to control again. Petroski moves to side control and locks up a head-and-arm choke once again and forces the tap with 15 seconds left! Great win from Petroski.
Lerone Murphy def Makwan Amirkhani via Knockout, Round 2 (0:14)
Early takedown in the opening round from Amirkhani as soon as Murphy switches to an orthodox stance. Amirkhani controlling him against the cage and looking to advance to three-quarter mount, but Murphy doing relatively well to defend so far. Amirkhani keeping the body lock tight and Murphy is trying hard to break the lock, but Amirkhani keeping it tight and keeping the fight as grappling heavy as possible as we enter the final minute. Amirkhani completely controlling the action through the first five minutes as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Amirkhani.
Amirkhani goes for an early takedown as soon as Murphy switches to orthodox again but Murphy blasts a HUGE knee and Amirkhani is out!!! Oh my word what a KO!!
Michal Oleksiejczuk def Shamil Gamzatov via Knockout, Round 1 (3:31)
Great first round from Oleksiejczuk who keeps the fight standing for the most part, before landing a crisp right uppercut that puts Gamzatov down. He follows it up with some big ground and pound and that’s all she wrote!
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def Benoit Saint-Denis via Unanimous Decision (29-26 x3)
Saint-Denis opens with a body kick, then Zaleski lands a nice one-two. Nice body kicks from Zaleski and some hard low kicks, but Saint-Denis coming forward still and then creates an angle for a takedown and slams Zaleski down. Zaleski gets back up relatively easily though and lands another hard low kick. Saint-Denis ripping some strong kicks to the body, but Zaleski responding with leg kicks. Big exchange of punches and Zaleski lands a hard right hand that rocks him, but Saint-Denis shoots in for a double leg to buy himself some time. Zaleski gets back up again quickly and continues to chop the lead leg. Level change from Saint-Denis but Zaleski keeps it standing, then just slips a big uppercut. Great round, 10-9 Zaleski for me.
Fast flurry of strikes between the two leads to Zaleski landing a big counter-right hand. Saint-Denis keeps coming and eats another huge right hand and then Zaleski lands a flush knee to the head. Saint-Denis is badly hurt but Zaleski keeps coming forward and landing big strikes. Saint-Denis won’t go down but Zaleski is pouring it on! Huge strikes and another big right hand and Saint-Denis is just refusing to go down. Zaleski is battering him and the entire arena is screaming for the referee to stop the fight but he won’t. Zaleski is lighting him up but he won’t go down and then he shoots for a takedown. Somehow, the round goes the full five minutes. Unreal. 20-17 at least.
Somehow they come out for the final round and Zaleski lands a hard low kick. Accidental eye poke from Zaleski causes a pause of the action. Saint-Denis tells the referee he can’t see , but the referee restarts the fight anyway without bringing in a doctor??? Zaleski lands a right hand that wobbles Saint-Denis, who shoots for a takedown that gets sprawled. Zaleski sitting on the top in full guard before they get back to the feet. Head-kick from Saint-Denis is blocked and Zaleski comes forward again with a right hand. Big left hand from Saint-Denis lands before a takedown attempt, but Zaleski is able to scramble to switch the position and then get back up. Final minute now and there’s an accidental low blow by Zaleski to cause another pause in the action. The referee takes a point away from Zaleski (???) who now steps forward with some more aggression. Round comes to an end with Zaleski chasing Saint-Denis down, but that should be that. 29-26.
Albert Duraev def Roman Kopylov via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-27 x2)
Kopylov starting off confidently in the centre, landing hard low kicks and one that even drops Duraev momentarily. Duraev explodes with a one-two and then a leg kick of his own. Duraev lands a right hand down the middle, then lands a low kick and left-hook combo that stuns Kopylov. Another hard leg kick from Duraev as he starts to pressure Kopylov back against the cage. Big elbow strike lands but Kopylov is giving as good as he’s taking so far. Duraev currently just too quick for Kopylov at the moment, but no great damage being done. Kopylov catches a high kick and lands a few uppercuts before they separate and Duraev goes for some more jabs. 10-9 Duraev at the end of the first.
Kopylov lands a big left hand early in the second and drops Duraev! Duraev manages to survive with good movement and then shoots in for a takedown against the cage. Duraev goes for a takedown and Kopylov grabs the fence to deny it! The referee stops the action, gives a hard warning and resets them which allows Duraev to get an immediate takedown. Duraev then transitions straight into full mount and starts attacking with ground and pound and threatening with a head-and-arm choke. Big ground and pound from Duraev and Kopylov is trying to fight back but getting hurt bad. Duraev landing big, heavy elbows from the top in full mount and Kopylov is getting beaten up bad. Duraev going for a head-and-arm choke but Kopylov defends it and Duraev goes straight back to the big elbow strikes from the top. Kopylov turns on to his belly and Duraev takes his back to look for a choke, before smashing in more ground and pound. Duraev goes for a rear-naked choke and it’s in deep but Kopylov is saved by the bell! 20-17 Duraev.
Nice body shot from Kopylov and a head-kick is blocked, before Duraev goes straight back for a takedown against the cage. Kopylov defends it well but Duraev keeps trying until they separate and reset in the middle of the octagon. Nice body kick from Kopylov again, but Duraev lands a big right hand and then goes back in for a takedown. Kopylov defending it excellently though and as he escapes, Duraev goes down with exhaustion. Kopylov lands a big left hand and Duraev is exhausted, but so is Kopylov. Kopylove with his hands on his knees, trying to invite Duraev towards him. Duraev just taking his time to circle as we enter the final minute but both men are just waiting for the final bell at this point. Duraev goes for a takedown but gets caught and then Kopylov goes for a big takedown of his own to end the round. 30-26 Duraev.
Zubaira Tukhugov def Ricardo Ramos via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast start to this one as Ramos comes out very kick heavy, with low kicks and body attempts while Tukhugov just staying calm and patient. Nice left hand counter lands from Tukhugov that stumbles Ramos, which immediately makes the Brazilian think twice. Tukhugov forcing Ramos against the cage with his pressure and lands a big left hand. He follows it with a big right hand that opens up a huge cut! Tukhugov throws a big body shot and is pressuring Ramos hard now. Low kick from Ramos but Tukhugov counters with a nice one-two down the pipe. Big right hand swings wildly and misses but Ramos is very focused on avoiding rather than causing damage right now. Big counter-right hand from Tukhugov lands again. Tukhugov goes in for a left hook but Ramos counters with a spinning reverse elbow that opens a big cut up on Tukhugov! What a round! 10-9 Tukhugov for me.
Start of the second similar to the first, with Ramos trying to be first and Tukhugov trying to counter. Big right hand from the Russian lands but Ramos continuing to be on the front foot. Tukhugov slips a big combination and points at Ramos, before Ramos slips a counter one-two straight back. Nice low kick from Ramos lands and then a big one-two down the pipe. Tukhugov goes for a single leg but lets it go and lands a right hand of his own. Tukhugov starting to pressure Ramos against the cage but the Brazilian doing well to move and circle. Big right hand from Tukhugov lands and he follows up with two nice jabs. Tukhugov fires in with a blast double leg and gets a back trip to take the fight down with ten seconds left and likely take the round. 20-18 Tukhugov for me.
Tukhugov looking to take the initiative early on again and stepping forward with his jab. Ramos looks like he’s tiring but is landing his right hand well. Ramos lands a big knee with his back against the cage and then explodes forward with more strikes. Tukhugov stays calm though and continues to land his jab, while avoiding Ramos’ bigger strike attempts. Another stiff jab by Tukhugov but Ramos just misses with an elbow. More jabs from Tukhugov, who is pressuring Ramos backwards consistently. Ramos lands a right hand and then a low kick but Tukhugov still coming forward and then shoots for a takedown with 30 seconds to go. A few trip attempts but the buzzer goes and Tukhugov should earn the decision win.
Amanda Ribas def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Jandiroba shoots straight in for a takedown but Ribas sprawls and denies it immediately. Ribas fires a one-two down the pipe after slipping Jandiroba’s strike attempt, before Jandiroba sees another takedown attempt denied. Big one-two lands from Jandiroba and then she shoots for a takedown and secures it into full guard. Jandiroba goes for body-head strikes but Ribas throws her legs up and looks for a very unique submission, but Jandiroba stays calm, escapes and goes back to the ground and pound. Jandiroba scoops her over to the cage and stacks her up, looking for some strikes then launches down with a huge elbow. Jandiroba completely controlling on the ground right now with relentless pressure but then the referee stands them up. Jandiroba lands a big right hand that drops Ribas but the buzzer goes and potentially saves her! 10-9 Jandiroba.
Lots of bouncing to open the second round and then Ribas lands a big right hand straight down the pipe. Jandiroba responds with a right hand of her own before a spinning back kick from Ribas lands to the body. Nice counter right from Ribas again as both women stand toe-to-toe. Lots of big actions from both women but not much landing as of now, with Ribas pushing the action and Jandiroba on the back foot. Jandiroba goes for a single leg takedown but Ribas reverses the attempt and ends up on top, before they scramble up to their feet again. Lots of tough grappling to end the round, but Ribas takes it. 19-19.
Ribas pressuring hard in the third now with nice combinations and ending them all with a kick. Jandiroba is slowing up quite clearly and she shoots for a lazy takedown that Ribas stuffs then tries to trip her herself. Nice left hand from Jandiroba before Ribas counters the next strike with a nice left hand. Spinning kick to the body doesn’t land clean, before Jandiroba goes for another takedown but is denied. Big head kick from Ribas lands and Jandiroba is hurt! She goes for a spin kick that misses and that allows Jandiroba to recover her senses, but she’s very tired. Ribas still fresh and being first with her strikes as the fight winds down to a close. Should be a comeback 29-28 win for Ribas.
Ankalaev opening up early with some speedy strikes down the pipe, but Oezdemir staying calm in front of him. Oezdemir throws a wicked left hook that lands, then follows up with a left uppercut that wobbles Ankalaev. Oezdemir goes for a flying knee but misses and Ankalaev gets a body lock and puts him up against the cage. Oezdemir has Ankalaev backing up against the cage but both men are just missing with their strikes. Big one-two down the pipe from Ankalaev and he drops Oezdemir! He goes to finish but Oezdemir gets back up quickly and they reset. Another jab and left hand from Ankalaev lands and he’s now taking the centre. Oezdemir looks hesitant and Ankalaev’s left hand is landing at will almost. One-two followed by two more right-hands by Ankalaev as the round ends. 10-9 Ankalaev.
Oezdemir tries to rush in with his right hand but Ankalaev escapes, clinches up and then lands a big left hand on the break. Hard low kick from Oezdemir before Ankalaev throws another combination that just misses. Oezdemir steps forward with a right hand but Ankalaev counters with a hard right hook that cuts Oezdemir above the eye. Oezdemir’s only success really coming from low kicks but Ankalaev controlling the range and throwing his left hand well. Uppercut from Ankalaev lands and then he locks up a body lock against the cage, throwing hard knees to the thigh of Oezdemir. Ankalaev tries to get a takedown but Oezdemir defends well, then blocks a big left hand on the break. 20-18 Ankalaev.
Ankalaev staying very calm and jabbing well in this final round. Nice jab and a big right hand lands but Oezdemir eats it well. Oezdemir goes for a takedown but Ankalaev denies it and then lands a hard right hand. Ankalaev turning up the pressure a little now with a left head kick but Oezdemir still trying to find a moment. Big right hand lands from Oezdemir but Ankalaev eats it and steps to the side before returning to his jab. Entering the final minute now and both guys seem to have accepted the result of this one, with not much happening. Hard body kick from Ankalaev before a stiff right jab lands too. Takedown attempt from Ankalaev as the round ends, in what should be a 30-27 win for him.
Khamzat Chimaev def Jingliang Li via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:16)
Chimaev ducks under a right hand and goes straight for a takedown on Li, who defends it well before eventually getting lifted, slammed and controller. Chimaev throwing some ground strikes again but Li defending well, although Chimaev is controlling him with wrestling so far. Heavy ground and pound from Chimaev as he puts a hook in and starts searching for a choke. Chimaev goes on the back and flattens Li out and starts smashing him with ground and pound! Huge shots from Chimaev but Li is still trying to fight him! Chimaev switches to the back and goes for a choke and sinks it in! Li fighting the submission but Chimaev switches sides, readjusts the grip and puts Li to sleep! Wow!! What a performance! The hype is real!
Alexander Volkov def Marcin Tybura via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Great start from both guys as Volkov comes forward with some body shots and stiff hooks, but Tybura replies with a big left hand of his own. Volkov using his length well to land straight shots and avoid Tybura’s returns so far, before Tybura changes levels on him to no avail. Tybura gets inside and goes for a takedown, but Volkov denies him really well before breaking with an elbow attempt. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura steps forward again with pressure to close the distance. Tybura changes levels on Volkov but he turns him and ends up on top, landing a big elbow early. Tybura stalling on the ground by just holding Volkov tight to him and Volkov goes for a forearm to the throat to try and disrupt the breathing. Volkov lands a few more ground strikes to end the round in control and take it on the cards, 10-9.
Volkov using his front kick well once again and the big right hand following behind it. Tybura pressing the pace and forcing him backwards, but his takedown attempts are being denied quite comfortably. A few uppercuts in the clinch from Tybura land before another takedown attempt is denied. Volkov throws a knee that is caught and Tybura tries for another takedown, but Volkov denies him again and lands a right hand as they separate. Nice one-two from Tybura lands and Volkov is starting to tire now. Left hand misses from Tybura again and then Volkov lands a beautiful right hook. Tybura fakes a jab and goes for another takedown but Volkov denies it and sees out the round. Hard to score, but it’s probably even going into the third.
Tybura on the front foot once again in this final round, almost chasing Volkov but neither doing much damage. Volkov lands a hard knee to the body before Tybura goes for another takedown that gets stuffed. Nice one-two from Volkov as they separate but it’s still Tybura pushing forward. Big left uppercut followed by a right hand from Volkov lands and then he denies yet another takedown! Short left hook from Tybura lands and then he goes in for a takedown again that Volkov defends routinely at this point. Tybura tries a hip toss but Volkov holds a body lock and has the back, landing big knees to the thigh. Big right hands from Volkov land and then some nice combinations as Tybura starts to tire. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura responds with a big left of his own. Final minute now and both guys are breathing heavy. Volkov lands a big right hand, slips Tybura’s strikes and lands a nice combination to back Tybura up. Straight right hand each as the round comes to an end, should be a Volkov decision win 29-28.
Islam Makhachev def Dan Hooker via Submission (Kimura), Round 1 (2:25)
Hooker trying to keep length nice and early here with a few low kicks as Makhachev takes the centre and just looks for his moment. Makhachev throws a nice hook then dips low and catches Hooker’s leg to get an immediate takedown and move straight to half guard in his own corner. Makhachev throws a nice elbow in tight and is now attacking a kimura! Makhachev readjusts the grip, steps over and twists the arm behind the back and secures the tap out! Unbelievable performance from Makhachev!
Petr Yan def Cory Sandhagen via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)
An exchange of leg kicks between the two in the opening minute, as Yan takes the centre and Sandhagen looks to circle on the outside and use his length. Yan lets a left hand fly but it just misses, before a nice low kick followed by a body shot from Sandhagen. Low kick from Yan and Sandhagen counters with two nice left hands before changing levels to go for a takedown. Yan defends it well though and they go back into a close exchange of striking. Hard low kick from Yan lands before Sandhagen steps forward and just misses with a left. Sandhagen forces Yan to the cage and lands a few touching shots, before a nice kick to the body. Hard strikes from Sandhagen land but Yan returns with a big right hand of his own before Sandhagen changes levels again. Big flying knee from Sandhagen lands and the round ends. 10-9 Sandhagen.
Hard low kick from Sandhagen to open up the round, before both guys use their feints really well. Body kick from Yan lands but he misses with the follow up right hand and Sandhagen responds with a right hand of his own. Huge body kick from Yan lands clean and then Sandhagen responds with a nice left hook to the body himself. Head kick attempt from Yan is caught and Sandhagen throws a nice right. Yan responds with a low kick and then a big left hand to the chin. Sandhagen moving well still and touching Yan well, but Yan starting to counter with powerful strikes of his own. Yan just misses with a big left hand and both guys exchange body shots again. Sandhagen goes for a takedown but Yan defends it well and keeps the fight standing. Big knee from Sandhagen again but Yan eats it well. Yan pushing forward and putting his pace on this fight, but Sandhagen using his length well to stay out of real danger. 19-19.
Soft left hands from Sandhagen before he checks a leg kick and lands a beautiful left down the pipe to wobble Yan. Yan comes forward with a spinning kick to the body before Sandhagen lands his jab again. Huge left hook to the body from Yan lands but Sandhagen comes forward again with his jab and circles on the outside. Hard leg kick but Yan checks it and then he lands a big left uppercut. He goes for a combination but Sandhagen avoids it and lands a one-two of his own. Yan trying to turn the pressure up but Sandhagen slipping shots well and avoiding clean hits. Big one-two from Yan lands but Sandhagen staying calm and circling on the outside. Body kick from Yan but Sandhagen moves forward to trade with him. Yan throws a big hook and then a spinning back fist and drops Sandhagen! He goes for vicious ground and pound but Sandhagen stays calm and after some scrambles, they get back to the feet and the round ends. 29-28 Yan.
Yan starting to walk Sandhagen down a bit now but he isn’t going anywhere. Nice jabs again and a nice knee attempt just misses, but Yan is throwing big left hands and landing clean. Another big left from Yan lands flush but Sandhagen still standing. Body shot from Sandhagen gets a big left straight reply from Yan, but Sandhagen continuing to poke at him with jabs. Yan with a body kick and then a beautiful one two lands. Sandhagen shoots for a takedown and gets it, but both guys go for a heel hook before they scramble back to their feet. Yan ducks under a spinning back fist then lands some big combinations to the head and body. Yan continuing to march forward and the big hooks are landing, but Sandhagen responds with a big elbow. Yan steps forward and blasts Sandhagen with a huge right hand, but Sandhagen just eats it. Yan stuffs a takedown and they start scrambling again, with Yan throwing big combinations. 39-37 Yan.
Final round and Sandhagen still trying pick his shots while Yan is walking him down. Hard low kick from Yan gets a big reaction from Sandhagen, before he tries another jump knee that Yan blocks. Yan looking to close distance again but Sandhagen still fresh and moving well, flicking out his jab. Yan goes for three hooks but misses them all thanks to good movement, before Yan tries for a takedown and Sandhagen denies him. Huge head kick from Yan lands but Sandhagen shakes his head and says no, before Yan goes for more big hooks. Final 90 seconds and Yan is still coming forward. Right jab from Yan before Sandhagen makes him miss several times. Big left hand from Sandhagen lands and then he avoids the spinning back fist. Big knee from Sandhagen with ten seconds left but Yan responds with a spinning kick to the chin and they go wild with seconds remaining to end the fight. What a bout! 49-46 Yan for me.
Glover Teixeira def Jan Blachowicz via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:02)
Hard leg kick from Blachowicz opens up the fight as Teixeira looks to take the centre. Teixeira changes levels and goes for the takedown, before spinning him off the cage and securing it. Straight into full guard as Blachowicz looks to tie him up and avoid that vicious ground and pound game of Teixeira’s. Teixeira pulling the head up and making Blachowicz very uncomfortable on the bottom, grinding his elbows and head against him too. Teixeira goes for an elbow but just misses, then cranks the neck up again and then lands a short elbow. Final minute and Teixeira starting to be more active from the top position and that’s the round. 10-9 Teixeira.
Blachowicz comes out with the jab early and lands a nice left hand combination, before denying Teixeira’s takedown attempt. Big left uppercut from Blachowicz before Teixeira closes the distance and rushes Blachowicz against the cage with a clinch. Blachowicz denies another takedown attempt and is just popping his jab. Teixeira goes wild and lands a big left hand that wobbles Blachowicz! Blachowicz responds with a nice right hand combination that staggers Teixeira himself, but the Brazilian gets a takedown quickly and moves into mount immediately! Teixeira flattens him out and gets the arm under his neck and gets the tap!!! Unbelievable!! AND NEW!!
Last week at UFC Vegas 41 we had a rough time with our picks, landing just 7/13 correct with three perfect picks to move us up to 446/702 (63.53%) with 190 perfect picks (42.6%) since June 2020.
We’ll look to improve on that with this huge 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims.
Tagir Ulanbekov (13-1) vs Allan Nascimento (17-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun flyweight bout opens up the card on Fight Island. Ulanbekov has won his last four-in-a-row, including his UFC debut against Bruno Silva at UFC Fight Island 5 last year. Nascimento was beaten on Dana White’s Contender Series but then returned to Brazil with a victory to earn this UFC debut.
Ulanbekov is a brilliant wrestler, who uses his top game and ground and pound strikes to control his opponent and win fights. Nascimento is more of an all-rounder, with explosive striking and good scrambles on the mat to go with 13 submission wins in his career. This fight is always certain to go to the ground, but it’s all about who ends up on top.
The likelihood in my opinion is that guy will be Ulanbekov. Nascimento has struggled with worse wrestlers in the past and while the Russian will have to be careful of potential submission attempts, I expect him to rack up plenty of top control to earn a decision win. PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Decision
Magomed Mustafaev (14-4) vs Damir Ismagulov (23-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An absolute banger at lightweight in a potential fight of the night contender next. Mustafaev has lost two of his last three in the UFC, with defeat to Brad Riddell most recently in February 2020 while Ismagulov has won 18-in-a-row including all four of his UFC bouts, with victory over Rafael Alves at UFC Vegas 27 most recently.
This is a super exciting fight. Mustafaev is a vicious kickboxer with super heavy kicks and brilliant punching power too. Something he doesn’t have though is brilliant wrestling, something Ismagulov has and is able to mix in with his own excellent striking. Mustafaev’s kicks could become nullified if Ismagulov looks to catch them, with the Kazakhstan fighter using his jab and low kicks of his own to earn victories.
Both men have the ability to end the fight in range, but neither have ever been knocked out before in their career. That leads me to think control could be key and with Ismagulov having the wrestling edge, he’ll claim the victory. PICK – Damir Ismagulov via Decision
Hu Yaozong (3-2) vs Andre Petroski (6-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A weird fight in the middleweight division between two relative novices in the UFC. Yaozong has lost both of his UFC appearances and hasn’t fought since way back in 2018, while Petroski was part of the contenders in the most recent Ultimate Fighter series who earned his first win against Michael Gillmore at UFC Vegas 35.
Yaozong is a decent kickboxer on the feet, but he really struggled in all his UFC bouts prior to get that going. Petroski on the other hand has shown great wrestling skills with a good mix of ground and pound and submissions on the mat too, but when the takedown isn’t available he tends to look a little lost. Lucky for him, the version of Yaozong we all know can’t defend takedowns for love nor money.
Three years away is a long time, plus the fact he is fighting in a new weight class and he’s never really looked impressive means I have to go with Petroski to blast a takedown early and eventually secure a finish from the top. PICK – Andre Petroski via Submission, Round 1
Makwan Amirkhani (16-6) vs Lerone Murphy (10-0-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
One of my personal favourite fights on the card is a banger between two European featherweights. ‘Mr Finland’ Amirkhani has lost each of his last two, dropping decisions to Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk most recently at UFC Vegas 28. Murphy on the other hand has earned successive wins in the UFC against Ricardo Ramos at UFC Fight Island 2 before a decision win over Douglas Silva de Andrade at UFC Fight Island 8.
Amirkhani is a very technical and fun kickboxer, with good volume, great cardio and unbelievable wrestling. Murphy on the other hand is a very well rounded fighter too, with great one-punch power and excellent wrestling of his own too to control opponents. Amirkhani has been able to take down everyone he’s ever fought in the UFC and while I don’t expect this to be different, Murphy is good enough to get back up and be more physical.
Murphy has shown an ability to rally if a fight isn’t going his way, while Amirkhani has shown that he finds it hard to turn things around. With Murphy’s power and wrestling ability too, I expect he’ll be able to control the fight the longer it goes and earn a win in an entertaining fight. PICK – Lerone Murphy via Decision
Claudio Puelles def Jordan Leavitt via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Interesting start to the fight as both men trade leg kicks and body kicks before Leavitt changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Puelles immediately rolls through to try and reverse but Leavitt holds onto the single leg and forces a scramble for the position. Neither men give anything up and eventually Leavitt is able to get into the guard but only for a few seconds before Puelles kicks him off. Leavitt doesn’t let go and tries to hold him down again but Puelles is eventually able to get back to the feet where they trade leg kicks again. Puelles shoots in for a takedown this time but Leavitt defends it pretty well before Puelles gets into his guard with about 40 seconds left. Neither fight lands any real offence as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Leavitt probably.
Second round more of the same early on from both guys with a few rangy kicks before Leavitt shoots in for a single leg takedown again. Puelles defends it well once again and manages to reverse to end up on Leavitt’s back, but he’s able to reverse into a kneebar attempt to escape and ends up with Puelles in his guard again. Puelles stands up and avoids an up-kick before landing a big left hand as Leavitt looks to get back up and they end up on the ground once again. Puelles looks to take the back and starts throwing a few strikes to free it up but Leavitt is defending faitly well. Puelles locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds to go but nothing else happens and the round ends. 19-19.
Puelles opens up the round with a takedown early on this time and he gets it easily, with Leavitt pretty content to work from his back currently. Leavitt tries to scramble back to his feet but Puelles doing really well to shut it down and starts landing some ground and pound too. Position over submission for Puelles so far but Leavitt is trying to get up again and goes for an inverted triangle but Puelles avoids it pretty easily. Puelles in the north-south position but not doing enough so the referee stands them up with 90 seconds to go, only for Puelles to score an instant takedown once they resume. A bit of ground and pound but nothing crazy and Puelles should waltz to the victory 29-28.
Sean Woodson def Youssef Zalal via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Fast paced start to this one as Woodson takes the centre and looks to pump out his jab, while Zalal is firing leg kicks and firing overhand rights to counter. Zalal starts landing some nice strikes from the middle and Woodson starting to back up a bit, so Zalal shoots for a takedown. Woodson is able to stuff it against the cage though and then lands a couple of nice kicks before a left hand wobbles Zalal! Zalal recovers well and seems to have the speed advantage so is landing first and preventing the jab of Woodson from being effective. Zalal moves in for another takedown but Woodson defends it well against the cage again before they break and Zalal goes for a double leg this time and gets it to end the round on top. 10-9 Zalal but close round.
Woodson comes out strong in the second round and lands some nice body kicks to back Zalal up, but the ‘Moroccan Devil’ avoids it and goes in for a takedown against the cage once again. Zalal breaks and lands an elbow before shooting back in again, then lands another elbow as they separate again. Woodson loading up with kicks and Zalal finding it pretty easy to avoid them, but Woodson lands a nice straight left. Zalal throws a nice left hook that lands before both guys trade leg kicks and then Woodson lands a nice left hand and jab again. Zalal shoots for a takedown against the cage with 20 seconds left but Woodson synchs up a guillotine but just runs out of time. 19-19 for me.
More of the same at the start of the final round as Zalal goes for another takedown and puts Woodson against the cage, but he is able to defend it well again and break out into the centre. Woodson takes the centre and is forcing Zalal backwards now, landing some decent strikes but then Zalal shoots in again to stop that momentum. Woodson throws a couple of nice knees to the body and is looking for a guillotine again but Zalal picks him up to escape with a minute to go. Zalal shoots in again but Woodson switches it and goes for a guillotine from the top, but Zalal explodes out and they get back to swinging to end the fight. 29-28 Woodson but close for sure.
Manon Fiorot def Tabatha Ricci via Knockout, Round 2 (3:00)
Tentative start from both ladies early on as Fiorot uses her significant size advantage to land he patented side kick and jab. Ricci circling on the outside and bursting with some flurries, but Fiorot staying calm and composed and lands a nasty body kick. She follows up with a nice left hook straight to the chin, but Ricci keeps moving and looking for an entry. Huge left straight from Fiorot down the pipe lands and easily denies a takedown attempt. Fiorot fires off a combination but Ricci just about slips it and gets away. Fiorot has the centre and lands a big left hand again but Ricci responds with a nice strike as the round ends. 10-9 Fiorot but Ricci is showing promise.
Fast start to the second round for Fiorot as she starts to hunt Ricci down and throw combinations against the cage. Fiorot goes for a takedown inexplicably but Ricci denies it and eats another combination up top. Ricci trying to throw some leg kicks but Fiorot checks and keeps coming forward, clinching up and landing two big elbows. Fiorot steps forward with a big combination and drops Ricci and starts teeing off! Ricci gets back to her feet but Fiorot keeps pouring it on and eventually the referee mercifully steps in to end it. Huge knockout win!
Alan Patrick vs Mason Jones – NO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)
Absolutely wild first round to start as Jones takes the centre of the octagon and looks to counter some crazy strikes from Patrick. The Brazilian shoots for a takedown but Jones avoids it and lands a nice right hand. Patrick throws some spinning kicks and back fists but Jones is slipping then and responding with big counters. Big exchange of punches from both men as Jones lands a left hand that staggers Patrick. Jones pushes forward with more pressure and Patrick clinches up and pulls guard but Jones starts smashing him with ground and pound. Big, heavy elbows from top position and huge strikes from the top and the referee nearly waves it off but he just runs out of time. 10-9 Jones, great round.
Patrick opens the second round with some more wild techniques before Jones steps in, gets a trip and starts working from top position once again. Some nice ground and pound strikes land but Patrick is able to jump back to his feet. He eats a big left hand and then an accidental eye poke causes a stop. Patrick tells the doctor he can’t see and the fight is waved off. Tough break for Jones.
Steady start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out early on. Amirkhani shoots in for two takedowns but Kirk is able to slip his leg out both times pretty easily. Kirk steps forward and looks to land a right hand but Amirkhani then steps in to close the distance with another shot. This time he gets hold around the body of Kirk and throws him over his head and refuses to let go, before securing a trip and getting heavy on top. Kirk is able to push Amirkhani off and get up relatively quickly though and with no damage before a nice left hand clips Amirkhani. A bit of pressure from Kirk but the round ends, 10-9 either way.
Good start to the second round from Kirk as he steps in with some nice body work and a few straight right hands. Attempted flying knee just misses from Kirk, who then lands a massive right hand right to the side of the head. Three big body shots in a row from Kirk and Amirkhani shoots in again for a takedown but this time gets it, with Kirks attempts at a guillotine and heel hook coming to nothing. Amirkhani now in top position, staying heavy but Kirk throws up a triangle armbar and it’s tight! He locks it out and extends but Amirkhani refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. 20-18 to Kirk for me but could be 19-19 or 20-18 the other way too to be fair.
Final round and Amirkhani lands a big left hand clean on the chin to open up. Both guys look tired and after another left hand from Amirkhani he shoots for the takedown and secures it. Amirkhani heavy on top again, but Kirk throws up another triangle that just can’t get locked up. Kirk gets him back up to the feet but Amirkhani keeps hold of him and drags him down to the mat again, but this time Kirk reverses it and ends up on top. Kirk throwing body shots from the top as Amirkhani just holding him down to stall for time. Kirk postures up and lands a big left hand and the round ends with a stalemate for position. Super close fight, honestly could go either way.
Muslim Salikhov def Francisco Trinaldo via Decision (30-27 x3)
Very tense opening to this fight as both men throw out lots of feints and feelers early on, with Trinaldo coming forward. Salikhov throws a beautiful body kick that slaps, but Trinaldo rushes forward and lands a nice left hand in response. Salikhov taking his time and trying to counter, lands a big overhand right after missing with a left hook and then throwing a big body kick again. Trinaldo coming forward in bursts again and lands a nice left hand to the chin. Salikhov throws a leg kick but it gets checked and then follows up with a big left uppercut that drops Trinaldo! He follows up with some big ground and pound but Trinaldo stays calm on his back and sees it out until the bell. Whew! 10-9 Salikhov.
Good start from Trinaldo in the second round as he comes forward again and bull-rushes Salikhov, landing a nice right hand. Salikhov looks for the uppercut again that just misses, but then follows up with a couple of right hands himself that do land. Trinaldo lands a nice left hand before Salikhov lands a huge right hook that wobbles Trinaldo again! Trinaldo swings some huge punches after he recovers but Salikhov slips them all and lands some nice right hands of his own in between to really start piecing Trinaldo up. Salikhov is seeing the punches coming now and slipping then countering as he throws Trinaldo to the ground. 20-18 Salikhov but Trinaldo is still in this fight.
Final round and Trinaldo comes out swinging once again, but Salikhov counters with a left hook and gets a big eye poke for his troubles. After a pause in the action Trinaldo comes forward and lands a big left hand to that eye that wobbles him. Salikhov responds with a body kick and leg kick, but Trinaldo continues to come forward and look for that big left hand. Salikhov lands a nice leg kick and pushes Trinaldo to the ground at the same time, then eats up some time with a few leg kicks to his grounded opponent too. The referee stands him up and Trinaldo continues to come forward again as we enter the final minute as Salikhov lands a nice straight right hand. Big left hand from Trinaldo forces Salikhov to change levels and dump Trinaldo to the mat to see out the final 30 seconds and surely claim a win. 29-28 Salikhov for me.
Boser taking the centre early on and being the aggressor with some head kick attempts. Latifi just circling on the outside as Boser bounces around and feints some strikes, before another kick attempt gets caught and Latifi puts him on the mat immediately. Latifi works from guard into side control and looks to grind, but Boser is able to swivel his hips and explode back to his feet. Boser steps in with some nice jabs and a left straight but Latifi looking to clinch up every time. Boser lands another big jab and throws another two kicks to see out the round. Tough to score to be honest but I lean to Boser.
Latifi looking to punch his way in early in the second round, stepping forward with a nice overhand right. Boser responds with good foot work and his jab, slipping Latifi’s big punches and just piecing him up rather than landing bombs of his own. Boser steps forward and lands a big right hand that makes Latifi go down holding his eye, but the referee doesn’t step in and Boser goes for the kill! Huge ground and pound strikes against the cage but Latifi defends himself well and eventually clinches up. He shoots for a takedown but Boser defends it and goes for his jabs once again to end the round. 20-18 Boser for me.
Final round and Boser steps out with his jabs again but Latifi goes for an early takedown this time and gets it. Straight into Boser’s guard and this time Latifi is throwing some ground and pound strikes with heavy top pressure, stopping Boser from doing anything significant from his back. More grinding ground and pound from Latifi for almost two minutes at the end of the round and it’s his round but I think Boser will get the nod. 29-28 Boser for me.
*TOM BREESE VS ANTONIO ARROYO CANCELLED DUE TO A MEDICAL ISSUE FOR BREESE*
Montana De La Rosa def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:27)
Very patient start to the fight from both women, as Lipski using some feints as De La Rosa keeps the distance short. A few kick attempts from Lipski but eventually De La Rosa closes the distance, secure a body lock and gets Lipski to the ground. De La Rosa stays heavy on top and works her way to full guard where she starts raining down elbows and cuts Lipski wide open to the side of her eye. Lipski not doing much to get up and De La Rosa is able to just land big strikes at will here as the round ends. 10-9 De La Rosa.
Second round and Lipski lands a big right hand immediately, but De La Rosa shoots and gets the takedown perfectly in response. De La Rosa is able to slide into side control and has Lipski against the cage, keeping her in a really tough position and landing those big elbow strikes once again. Lipski is threatening with a kimura but it doesn’t have much hope and then De La Rosa slides into full mount and starts raining down huge elbows and punches. Lipski trying to roll away but De La Rosa refuses to let her and just keeps thumping away until the referee steps in and ends it! Huge win for De La Rosa!
Gregory Rodrigues def Dusko Todorovic via Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
A super start to the fight from the UFC newcomer as Rodrigues steps forward and is landing his power jab well. Rodrigues firing his right straight perfectly too and is catching Todorovic clean very, very often. A clinch up against the cage sees Rodrigues with a judo throw put Todorovic down, but he gets back up to his feet immediately. More crisp right hands land from Rodrigues as Todorovic just eats them, but he’s walking back with his chin high. Todorovic lands a nice right hand of his own to see out the round but that’s a Rodrigues round clearly. 10-9.
Rodrigues coming out aggressive in the second round and finding a home for that right hand over and over again. Some digs to the body from Rodrigues and another big right hand, before a power double leg secures him a takedown too. Todorovic tries to get up using the cage and eats a knee to he head but is able to get away. Rodrigues lands a big straight right hand on the chin again as Todorovic steps forward and throws a little flurry. Final minute and Rodrigues slips a punch and lands a beautiful left-hook, right hand combo. 20-18 Rodrigues, but he’s start to slow down a little.
Third and final round and Todorovic looks like he’s still trying to make reads. Good jab lands twice and forces Rodrigues backwards, but he replies with another big right hand that lands flush. Rodrigues goes for a takedown but Todorovic defends it well this time. Rodrigues steps forward again and lands some big combinations and then eats a jab for his trouble. Rodrigues lands a big right hand once more and then goes to the body, but Todorovic replies with a nice left hand of his own. Into the final 30 seconds and Todorovic lands some great body shows but eats another right hand. Todorovic goes for the takedown at the end of the round but the buzzer goes and it should be a win for the newcomer.
Santiago Ponzinibbio def Miguel Baeza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this one as Ponzinibbio takes the centre of the cage and looks to land some jabs and his right hand as backs Baeza up against the fence. Baeza responding with his kicks, throwing a lot of heavy leg kicks to the lead leg and throwing his right hand behind it. Baeza blasting those calf kicks and forcing Ponzinibbio backwards, and then he lands a nice left-right hand combo. Ponzinibbio comes forward again and lands a nice left hand but Baeza is throwing more and more leg kicks and they’re really totalling up now. Big flurry from Ponzinibbio at the end of the round lands a couple of strikes but ultimately that’s a Baeza round. 10-9.
Fantastic start to the round from Baeza as he targets the calf kicks once again. Baeza lands three body kicks in a row and as Ponzinibbio throws a jab he gets kicked in the calf once again. Big overhand right from Baeza wobbles Ponzinibbio but Baeza stays calm and doesn’t go straight for the kill. Ponzinibbio throws a few calf kicks of his own and a nice right hand but Baeza then goes back to work with the leg kicks. Ponzinibbio starting to land his jab a lot more now as he comes forward with a big flurry of strikes. Ponzinibbio coming forward constantly and is landing lots of strikes in the second half of this round with big combinations to end the round. 19-19.
Fast start to the final round too as Ponzinibbio steps forward again and they trade jabs. Baeza lands two leg kicks again then follows with a right hand that staggers Ponzinibbio. The Argentine continues to come forward with the lead jab and is now throwing a right hand behind it, but Baeza retaliates with a nice right hand combo to the head and body. Ponzinibbio lands a huge flurry and Baeza is hurt, but Baeza lands two right hands and hurts Ponzinibbio right back! Body kick from Baeza before a left hook lands from Ponzinibbio! Both men trade huge leg kicks and exchange wild hooks. Big uppercut from Baeza but Ponzinibbio lands a big one-two, followed by a Baeza right hand again. Both men spend the final 30 seconds going absolutely crazy with hooks and power punches, with Ponzinibbio getting the better of the exchange to end the round! What a fight! 29-28 Ponzinibbio for me.
Roman Dolidze def Laureano Starapoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Staropoli comes out very early and very quickly with a solid body kick, followed by two heavy leg kicks. He goes for a head kick that misses and Dolidze immediately shoots in for a takedown. Staropoli gets to his feet against the cage but Dolidze keeps a body lock and drags Staropoli down over and over again for almost the full round. A few knees to the thigh from Dolidze but otherwise a pretty dull round. 10-9 Dolidze.
Second round starts with an immediate power double leg from Dolidze who gets the fight down momentarily before they end up against the cage once again, in the same way as they did the first round. Staropoli eventually is able to spin away and get away from the grip of Dolidze and then lands a couple of kicks again. Big left uppercut from Staropoli lets Dolidze change levels and get another takedown. More clinching against the cage as Staropoli tries to escape and finally he does, before going for a takedown of his own and the same stalemate occurring again. 20-18 Dolidze.
Third and final round and we see more of the same from both fighters, with Staropoli unable to get his striking game going at all because of Dolidze’s strength whenever he gets close. Dolidze holding him against the cage throughout and any spec of danger is evaded. 30-27 Dolidze, next please.
Marcin Tybura def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)
Fast start to the round from Harris as he comes forward with intent and starts throwing bombs early. Huge rights and lefts from Harris landing clean but Tybura still standing and wobbling. Harris tries to clinch and goes for knees, then throws a flurry of hooks that drops Tybura again. He goes for a finish but Tybura drives forward for a takedown and gets it against the cage. Harris does well but then Tybura catches a kick and sweeps the leg to get on top. He transitions to the back and puts one hook in, working for a rear naked choke. He then starts landing heavy strikes that are having a big effect on Harris and eventually the referee steps in and ends the fight! Huge knockout win for Tybura!
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)
Slow start to this one as Rozenstruik takes the centre and flicks out a leg kick or two, but generally both guys just feeling each other out for now. Another leg kick is matched by Sakai this time and then goes for another but Rozenstruik catches it and just misses with a counter right hand. Sakai throws a right hand that misses and Rozenstruik fires back with an overhand that whistles past Sakai. Rozenstruik backs Sakai against the cage and throws a flurry of shots but Sakai defends well. He does it again and this time lands a left hook right hand and Sakai is down! He lands a couple of follow ups just before the horn goes but it’s all over! Huge win!
Patrick is primarily a wrestler, using takedowns to get top control and then keep his opponent down for long enough to secure a judge’s decision as his nine career decision wins show. Jones on the other hand is a gladiator, who steps forward with good boxing skills and a steady set of all-round skills. Jones’ takedown defence is sufficient enough to either completely stuff them or be able to get back up quickly and he has the power and accuracy to hurt Patrick.
The ageing Brazilian’s only path to victory is to hold Jones down and considering the way both their last fights went, it doesn’t look likely – especially at welterweight. PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 2
Francisco Trinaldo (26-7) vs Muslim Salikhov (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Trinaldo has spent the last eight years at lightweight and has put that size advantage to good use, but now returns to 170lbs as he hits 42 years of age. He has good grappling skills and a wicked left-hand, but Salikhov while 36 himself has so many advantages on the feet. Salikhov uses lots of kicks in his attacks and has crisp, fast striking to go with it. Trinaldo will likely look for a takedown but without his usual size advantage he could struggle to find it, leaving Salikhov to pick him apart on the feet.
In the end the speed, accuracy and power advantages mixed with his footwork and gas tank mean Salikhov gets a stoppage late on. PICK – Muslim Salikhov via Knockout, Round 3
Tanner Boser (19-7-1) vs Ilir Latifi (15-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Boser is your typical heavyweight, with decent striking but he throws a leg kick very hard and heavy all the time. Latifi is quite undersized for the division and is only a heavyweight because of a poor diet, but his style is more physical than most. He likes to clinch and look for takedowns but Boser is far too mobile for that and on top of his size advantages is durable enough to take any big punches Latifi might land.
In the end, Boser circles and uses his jab and straight punches well to prevent any sort of takedown and cruise to a comfortable decision win. PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision
Makwan Amirkhani (16-5) vs Kamuela Kirk (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun fight at featherweight between two exciting 145lb-ers as ‘Mr Finland’ takes on ‘The Jawaiian’ on short-notice. Amirkhani has lost two of his last three, getting a win over Danny Henry at UFC 251 in between defeats to Shane Burgos and then Edson Barboza most recently at UFC Fight Island 5. Kirk makes his UFC debut on a little over one-weeks notice on a two-fight win streak having picked up a TKO win just two weeks ago in the LFA.
Amirkhani is a grappling wizard on the mat with 11 submission wins in his career, with fantastic wrestling and exceptional front chokes. Kirk on the other hand is a slick jiu-jitsu fighter in his own right, but he has got excellent boxing and incredible pressure to back his opponents up. Stylistically it’s not a fun match up for Amirkhani but the short notice nature could be enough to help him out.
Despite that though, I think Kirk is solid enough on the ground to not get finished early and if he keeps the fight standing he has a big striking advantage to get a fun win. PICK – Kamuela Kirk via Decision
Montana De La Rosa (11-6-1) vs Ariane Lipski (13-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A return to the cage for Montana De La Rosa as she takes on the ‘Queen of Violence’ in the first women’s fight of the night.
De La Rosa is a fantastic grappler on the mat but her poor takedown game has often seen her struggle against top opposition. Lipski’s striking game lives up to her nickname but defensively her grappling game is essentially non-existent. De La Rosa has shown that she’s pretty durable when it comes to the stand up game and with her style on the mat, it’s hard to see this going any way other than her getting the fight down and beating Lipski up. PICK – Montana De La Rosa via Decision
Tagir Ulanbekov def Bruno Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Really fun first round here as both men come out swinging heavy blows. Silva works on the leg with some big calf kicks and Ulanbekov looks to counter it with his range and big punches. Both men land heavy shots throughout the round and Ulanbekov does score a takedown at one point but doesn’t land much damage while down there. Silva did more damage in the round, but it’s super close. 10-9 Silva for me.
Another thrilling round as Ulanbekov avoids the leg kicks for the most part and pops the jab to secure some dominance. He’s landing the jab and countering the leg kicks that do come with a big right hand that opens up a cut under Silva’s eye. A nice takedown where he lands some damage but a scramble gets them back up. Good round, frantic pace. 19-19.
More jabs and more control from Ulanbekov in the final round as he establishes more control. Silva is throwing haymakers but Ulanbekov countering with strikes of his own. Takedown attempts are generally denied by Silva and there are several scrambles to keep everyone on their toes. Ulanbekov continues to land nice jabs and avoid leg kicks and despite a late flurry from Silva, he should take the win here.
Tracy Cortez def Stephanie Egger via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A competitive first round between the two ladies as Cortez does well with the striking before then jumping into a takedown and controlling the fight on the ground. Egger does well to eventually get back up but Cortez really controlling where the fight takes place and what happens there too. 10-9 Cortez.
A very active second round for Cortez once again here as she lands some nice shots again before landing a takedown. She lands some heavy ground and pound but then gets rocked by an up-kick by Egger! She jumps on Cortez’s back and tries to sink in a rear-naked choke but Cortez does well to shake her off and get back on top. More heavy ground and pound and she takes the back too to land more damage and control the rest of the round. Great performance so far from her. 20-18 Cortez.
Final round and it’s more of the same from Cortez. Egger tries to push forward for a takedown of her own but Cortez defends it well and lands some nice strikes. She defends really well against the cage again to deny the takedown before spinning out and landing a trip of her own to take the back. From there on out she controls the rest of the round with ground and pound and should earn a comfortable win. 30-27 Cortez.
Giga Chikadze def Omar Morales via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A competitive opening round between these two featherweights. Giga Chikadze throwing lots of kicks to maintain distance and range but Morales is retaliating with haymakers. Chikadze keeps with the body kick that lands beautifully but Morales continues to come forward. Good pressure and a good pace for the Georgian. 10-9 Chikadze.
Second round is more of the same as Chikadze throws nice kicks again to try and maintain distance but Morales coming forward with hooks, overhands and jabs. Some leg kicks from Chikadze cause a big lump on the front of Morales’ leg and he’s struggling to move too freely on it but both guys continue to put everything into their strikes as the second round closes. 20-18 Chikadze.
Final round and Morales marches forward to close the distance early. Chikadze unable to set his feet too well and is moving around well but lots of jabs landing but big punches missing the target. Chikadze throws a huge straight right that lands flush and knocks Morales down! He jumps on him and looks for ground and pound to finish the fight but Morales defends well to avoid the majority of the strikes and manages to get back to his feet. Chikadze desperate for the finish starts throwing axe kicks, superman punches and even a rolling lariat kick but he doesn’t quite get it. 30-27 Chikadze.
Tony Kelley def Ali AlQaisi via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
A very fun round! AlQaisi gets an early takedown and lands lots of knees to the body before a scramble. AlQaisi gets a nice trip but Kelley sinks in a deep triangle and attacks the the arm too for the second half of the round. AlQaisi is tough and Kelley extends the arm fully but he refuses to tap out! The round comes to an end, crazy round. 10-9 Kelley.
Kelley comes out in the second round a bit more aggressive, looking to take the centre again and throw strikes. AlQaisi moves for a takedown but Kelley blocks well, then AlQaisi steps forward and eats a huge knee! Kelley lands a right straight too and pounces on top looking to finish the fight but AlQaisi does well to avoid it and get back up in a clinch. AlQaisi secures a trip of his own and ends up on top looking for ground and pound before looking for another guillotine to finish the round. Tough round but 20-18 Kelley for me.
Immediate takedown for AlQaisi to open the round but Kelley gets straight back up. Another clash and Kelley lands that huge knee again to drop AlQaisi! Big punches as he tries to put him away but AlQaisi survives again. Kelley looks to sink in a submission but he never gets the chance to really lock it up. AlQaisi gets back to his feet and lands a beautiful spinning back-fist flush on the chin! Kelley stays standing though and lands a low blow accidentally. A short pause and they get back to with Kelley taking the centre and the two exchanging wild swings before the buzzer. 30-27 Kelley but a great fight.
Joaquin Buckley def Impa Kasanganay via Knockout, Round 2 (2:03)
What a fight this is! Both men come out with bombs and Buckley is getting the better of the shots. Big hooks land and back Kasanganay up against the cage but he throws huge shots back and connects too. Big uppercut from Buckley lands right on the eye but neither man goes backwards at all. Buckley lands a takedown and throws some vicious elbows but Kasanganay gets back to his feet well and lands a nice knee up the middle that knocks the mouthguard out of Buckley’s mouth. Fun first round. 10-9 Buckley.
Second round is much of the same with both men throwing heavy shots looking to take each other’s heads off. Kasanganay marches forward then throws a knee and Buckley responds with a head kick. Kasanganay catches the kick but Buckley, with his foot still in Kasanganay’s hand, spins and throws a spin kick with his other foot into the face and gets a violent knockout!! WOW! Knockout of the year!
Chris Daukaus def Rodrigo Nascimento via Knockout, Round 1 (0:45)
That was quick! Chris Daukaus steps forward and lands a bomb of a right hand that instantly hurts Nascimento. He lands some big ground and pound and is clearly hurting Nascimento with the power and speed. Nascimento gets back up but a big one-two lands again that drops him and the referee stops it. Hugely impressive knockout win.
Tom Breese def KB Bhullar via Knockout, Round 1 (1:42)
Tom Breese is back! He starts the fight with a snapping jab to the chin, Bhullar starts countering with leg kicks. Breese lands a beautiful left hook into the jaw of Bhullar who’s rocked but Breese keeps calm. He steps forward and lands another big jab that drops Bhullar and then some ground and pound gets the referee to stop the fight. Big win for Breese!
Illia Topuria def Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Zalal comes out and is bouncing around the octagon with movement to stay away from the takedown attempts that are inevitably on the way. Topuria steps forward with nice jabs and then finally shoots, clinches up and throws Zalal over his head for a lovely suplex takedown. Topuria immediately jumps into mount and looks to sink in several submission attempts but Zalal survives them all as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Topuria.
The second round starts with Zalal looking for a takedown against the cage but Topuria defends himself perfectly well and then secures a trip of his own to take the fight down. More submission attempts from Topuria again but Zalal showing his jiu-jitsu chops to defend everything well but he looks tired and out of ideas on the feet. 20-18 Topuria.
Final round and an immediate takedown from the Spaniard gets him back in control. Scrambles and attacks on the ground see Topuria take Zalal’s back but once again the Moroccan defends multiple submission attempts. Back to the feet with a minute to go and both men are now exhausted. Zalal comes forward with some nice punches but Topuria shoots and gets another takedown to see out the fight. 30-27 for me.
Tom Aspinall def Alan Baudot via Knockout, Round 1 (1:35)
Both men come out swinging big, heavy shots nice and early. Baudot throws some spinning attacks that miss wildly as Aspinall just waits out for the right moment. He rushes him against the cage with a front kick to the thigh and then lands two big short right hands to the jaw of Baudot. He changes levels and gets a takedown straight into mount and pours on some heavy ground and pound with elbows. Baudot curls up in a ball and the referee stops the fight. Another quick win for the Brit.
Dricus Du Plessis def Markus Perez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:22)
Perez storms out across the octagon and pressurises the debutant immediately, suffocating him against the cage. Du Plessis throwing lots of leg kicks but Perez eating them and returns a solid body kick of his own. Du Plessis throwing lots of volume but not landing much of anything significant as he continues to throw leg kicks. He rushes across with a combo but misses them all and both fighters end up against the cage. Perez tries for a back elbow and Du Plessis lands a short left hook to the side of the head that drops Perez! He lands two big shots while Perez is down and the referee waves it off. Huge debut win fo Du Plessis!
Marcin Tybura def Ben Rothwell via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)
A straight up slug fest of an opening round between these two heavyweights. Rothwell comes out with punches in bunches and lots of forward pressure, almost forcing Tybura to just cover up and take them. He moves around well and starts landing some of his own shots but both guys basically sitting in a phone box and swinging. Great entertainment. 10-9 Rothwell.
Second round is more of the same but at a bit of a slower pace. Rothwell has lost the pop he had in the first round but is still coming forward and landing short hooks and straights, while Tybura is landing kicks and jabs well. Tybura landing heavy shots on a very tired Rothwell now but he continues to march forward and bite down on his mouthpiece. Into the final round! 19-19.
Tybura comes out in the third round as the much fresher fighter and starts picking Rothwell apart using his speed and jab. Rothwell is still throwing heavy shots but Tybura using his footwork and head movement to make him miss and lands a lovely uppercut against the cage. Another flurry from Rothwell but again Tybura avoids and this time he changes levels and secures a takedown. Tybura gains the top position and goes to work with the ground and pound. Completely dominant third round and a big win for the Pole. 29-27 for me.
A very tentative start to the fight from both guys as then just circle the outside of the octagon trying to make reads and make their opponent bit on feints. Barboza throws a nice body kick, Amirkhani responds with a nice jab. Takedown attempt by Amirkhani is well defended by Barboza who separates immediately and breaks away. Barboza throws a body kick but Amirkhani catches it and takes Barboza down with 5 seconds of the round left. That probably steals the round too. 10-9 Amirkhani.
Second round begins and it’s still pretty tentative between the two. Barboza throws a nice leg kick but lots of feints and reads. Barboza throws a beautiful right straight that drops Amirkhani! He looks for the ground and pound but Amirkhani survives and pops back up to his feet. Barboza feinting again and lands the exact same shot again and gets another knockdown! He goes for the ground and pound again but this time he tries to wrap up an anaconda choke but Amirkhani breaks out of it. Final seconds of the round and Amirkhani lands another takedown to close it out but that’s a Barboza round. 19-19 at best for Amirkhani. 20-17 at worst.
Final round and Amirkhani comes out firing looking for a takedown early. He powers through after an initial good bit of defence from Barboza and stacks him up against the cage. Now he’s raining down ground and pound but Barboza moving well off his back to avoid all the damage. The referee stands the fighters back up bemusingly and Barboza lands a big left hand to the head. The fight ends with both men raising their arms but there’s only one winner here. Barboza back in the W column.
Cory Sandhagen def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (1:03)
A combative and intense opening round as both fighters look to take control early on. They trade leg kicks with Moraes throwing overhand rights to counter the rangier Sandhagen. Both guys taking it in turns to step forward and initiate the attacks. Spinning back fists from both guys too and then a nice one-two combo from Sandhagen is followed up with a solid body kick. Sandhagen throws another one but Moraes catches it and drags the fight to the ground as the round ends. 10-9 Moraes but it’s a very close, competitive fight so far.
Second round comes out and lots of feinting and leg kicks from Sandhagen. Out of nowhere Sandhagen shouts out to the commentators that Moraes’ orbital bone might be broken. More leg kicks and Moraes flies in with heavy hooks that miss wildly. Sandhagen throws a spinning wheel kick that lands on the top of the head and drops Moraes! Sandhagen pounces on top and lands ground and pound before the referee waves it off. What a finish! What a win!
Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.
Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs Illia Topuria (8-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Youssef Zalal makes his fourth appearance of 2020 and looks to go 4-0 against the undefeated debutant in Illia Topuria. Zalal is a great kickboxer and show his well-rounded skills in his wins over Austin Lingo, Jordan Griffin and Peter Barrett. Topuria on the other hand is a grapple heavy fighter who is all about the choke as his record shows. Seven wins from his eight have come via submission showing that if the fight goes to the ground he is in his element. His trouble will be that Zalal has proven he manages distance so well so far throughout his UFC career and his striking is on another level to that of Topuria. He hasn’t got the knockout power to end the fight with one punch which will give the Spaniard hope but overall I think Zalal keeps the fight standing to outscore his opponent with the judges. PICK – Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision
Alan Baudot (8-1) vs Tom Aspinall (8-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A big heavyweight clash between two up and comers in the UFC as debutant Alan Baudot takes on the UK’s Tom Aspinall looking for his second win in a row. Aspinall fought back in July on Fight Island and knocked out Jake Collier in just 45 seconds. He is an ex-professional boxer with crazy power in his hands and big things are expected of him in the UFC. Alan Baudot is making the step up to heavyweight for this one, with his entire career prior to this taking place at 205lbs. Neither man have ever seen the judges scorecards in a fight and I think it’s safe to say that continues here. Baudot is a fast and accurate striker but defensively he’s questionable. Against guys his own size he can get away with it but in the UFC against a striker as lethal as Aspinall, it only goes one way. PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 1
Markus Perez (12-3) vs Dricus Du Plessis (14-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
An clash between a veteran and a true blue-chip prospect at middleweight as Markus Perez looks to bounce back from a defeat in his last outing against short-notice step in Dricus Du Plessis. Perez is an explosive striker on the feet but also a very ample technician on the mat, as his six submission wins show. Du Plessis though is one of the best middleweights outside of the UFC prior to this fight and has held the KSW middleweight title. The South African is aggressive, athletic and capable wherever the fight may go. More to the point, he is a finisher. He’s never seen the judges scorecards in a fight before and is always a threat. Neither fighter has fought this year but I think Du Plessis has a big chance to make a name for himself here. He has the power, the athleticism and the fight IQ to cause Perez problems and potentially even score the finish. PICK – Dricus Du Plessis via Submission, Round 2
Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs Marcin Tybura (19-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The big boys are back in action on Fight Island as two UFC veterans face off in the heavyweight division. Rothwell is coming off two wins in a row, knocking out Stefan Struve before taking a decision win over Ovince St. Preux in May. Marcin Tybura is also coming off back-to-back wins, beating both Sergey Spivak and Maxim Grishin via unanimous decision. Rothwell is 50 fights and 21 years deep into his career at this point so we know what to expect. He is a powerful puncher with deceptively fast hands and has a great choke game, while Tybura is a fighter who looks to take his opponent down and grind out wins from top position. Rothwell is the bigger puncher in this fight and if Tybura mistimes a takedown, Rothwell is more than capable of taking his neck and wrapping this fight up quickly. PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 2
Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) vs Edson Barboza (20-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This will be one hell of a fight. ‘Mr. Finland’ has won four of his last six fights including his last bout against Danny Henry back in July, while somehow Edson Barboza has lost five of his last six. That includes his move down to featherweight, where he lost a razor close decision to Dan Ige last time out. Amirkhani is a submission specialist, with 11 of his career wins coming via tap-out. Barboza on the other hand is one of the best strikers the sport has ever seen. If you’re in any way a fan of MMA, you’ve probably seen his spinning wheel kick knockout win over Terry Etim. His wrestling defence is sublime but in recent fights he’s been overpowered. The Paul Felder fight could have gone either way as could the Dan Ige fight, so the record looks much worse than it actually is. This will be Amirkhani’s toughest test yet, and on short notice, is a big ask. Barboza knocked out Beneil Dariush in 2017 who has a similar submission heavy style, so with short notice and power on his side, I think Barboza gets back in the win column in this fight. PICK – Edson Barboza via Knockout, Round 2
Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs Cory Sandhagen (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The main event is one of the best match-ups in the bantamweight division and could have title implications. Marlon Moraes was in title contention and even took on Henry Cejudo for the vacant title after TJ Dillashsaw vacated, and dominated the opening round. He gassed out after the first round though looking for a finish and Cejudo turned it around and got the knockout win himself. He then took on Jose Aldo and while many believed he lost the fight, the judges gave him the win. Cory Sandhagen was on the title hunt too before his fight with Aljamain Sterling went as badly as possible when he was choked unconscious back in June at UFC 250 in under 90 seconds. He is a stud wrestler with good hands and submission skills and will be looking to get back into the win column. Moraes is a Muay Thai black belt who loves to throw leg kicks, head kicks and can switch stances. It’s a tough fight in general because Sandhagen definitely has the advantage on the ground, but he has to get it there. Moraes has a good wrestling defence and the experience of a five round fight. While he struggled with the pace agains Cejudo and Aldo, if he can iron that out I expect him to get the win here. PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 3
Davey Grant def Martin Day via KO – (Round 3, 2:38)
A fun first round on Fight Island as the two Bantamweights both striking well with each other and landing. Day lands a big right hand that cracks the chin of Grant and drops him, but the Scotsman survives and gets back to his feet. The knockdown the biggest influencer of the first round and it goes to Day. 10-9.
Second round and Grant is being very aggressive. He’s looking to end it early but Day is evading well. Some big shots land but nothing significant really lands. Grant takes the round based purely off his aggression. 19-19.
Third round and Grant is being aggressive again. Day is begin to get tired and is evading less and less. He’s throwing wildly and Grant is doing well to keep the pace up. Both fighters go for a big shot and Day hits nothing but air. Grant hits a nice body shot and follows up with a vicious left hook that flattens Day and knocks him unconscious! Unbelievable punch and a brutal knockout win!
Grant tells Dana White after the fight that he broke his jaw in the first round. I’m assuming it was the knockdown punch, so kudos to him for fighting through it and getting a knockout of his own.
Karol Rosa def Vanessa Melo via Unanimous Decision(30-26 x2, 30-27)
Two Brazilian women competing in a catchweight bout after Melo missed weight by 5lbs. Rosa starts strong and fast, landing big volume of strikes while Melo tries to feel her out. Both fighters landing shots and Rosa loses balance a few times but generally is getting the better of the standing exchanges. She ends the round with a takedown and some ground and pound.
Second and third round are much more of the same. Rosa completely dominant on the feet and landing takedowns at will. Melo has been completely outclassed and while there are no significant highlights from this fights, it’s as dominant as you’re likely to see on the card tonight.
Raulian Paivia def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
The classic striker vs grappler battle sees a very even first round. Paivia is taking the centre of the Octagon well and Zhumagulov is attacking the legs as expected. Lots of takedown attempts but Paivia does very well to stuff them and land counters, but they don’t look particularly powerful. Zhumagulov lands a takedown very late that could have stolen him the opening round. 10-9 Zhumagulov.
Second round is more of the same but Zhumagulov seems to have warmed up a bit. He’s more aggressive coming forward and landing with shots a bit more but Paivia doing his best to keep his distance. More back and forth action with each Paivia using his length well to land jabs and keep away. Zhumagulov ends the round with another takedown very late but this round is likely his anyway.
Third round starts with a bit more urgency from Paivia as he starts throwing combinations. Zhumagulov doesn’t change tact though and continues with haymakers and takedown attempts. Paivia though stuffs them all but then lands an accidental groin strike to cause a pause in the action. The fight resumes and Paivia stuffs three big takedown attempts before the round comes to an end. I scored it 29-28 to Zhumagulov, but the judges go the other way.
Marcin Tybura def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
A very, very slow fight this one with not a lot of action.
Tybura pushed forward for the first two rounds and landed late takedowns with neither fighter landing anything significant whatsoever. In the third, Tybura got the takedown earlier and in the end did more than enough to secure a dominant win.
The less said about this fight though, the better.
Leonardo Santos def Roman Bogatov via Unanimous Decision (29-26 x3)
Opening round is a fun one, with Santos landing some nice strikes and Bogatov showing unrelenting pressure and he looks for the takedown. Lots of unorthodox movement from the Russian and spinning attacks to go with it but nothing significant lands from either fighter. 10-9 Bogatov for the pressure.
Second round starts with Bogatov a bit more aggressive than the first. Actively shooting for takedowns now but Santos is calm and composed. Santos lands a huge straight right hand, then another, then another to rock Bogatov. Santos is looking for the finish but Bogatov is still standing. A huge head kick drops Bogatov and Santos goes for the ground and pound but Bogatov is responding to referee Marc Goddard’s calls for him to fight back. Santos has punched himself out now and Bogatov ends up on top against the cage. The round somehow ends with Bogatov landing bombs of his own on top of Santos. 19-19 for me but Bogatov saved himself a potential 10-8 round there.
Probably the craziest round you’re likely to see, ever. The round begins with both men completely exhausted. A takedown attempt by Bogatov against the cage ends with a knee to the groin and Santos is in agony. After taking the full five minutes to recover they get back into it and Bogatov once again is attacking the body and going for takedowns. He lands ANOTHER groin strike and Goddard gives him a stern warning, that he’ll take points from him if there are any other fouls in this fight. Santos is still absolutely exhausted and Bogatov gets him against the cage looking for a takedown. Inexplicably though, Bogatov lands a huge knee flush to the face of Santos while he has a knee on the ground causing Goddard to pause the bout again with a minute to go. The referee deducts TWO points from Bogatov and that’s enough to give Santos the decision win.
Makwan Amirkhani def Danny Henry via Submission (Anaconda choke) – (Round 1, 3:15)
A sleeper for fight of the night here as these two lock horns in the centre of the Octagon. Henry looking to feel his way into range with his boxing but Amirkhani looks razor sharp. A flying knee lands clean for Mr. Finland and he follows it up with a takedown. He takes the back and has a hook in immediately before switching to a modified Anaconda choke. Henry is fighting the choke but Amirkhani has it locked in strong. Referee checks the arm of Henry and it’s completely limp. He’s out cold! Impressive victory for Makwan Amirkhani.
Muslim Salikhov def Elizeu Dos Santos via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
A very touchy, feely first round between two top strikers. Both fighters feeling their way into this one and it takes a few minutes before we see them opening up. Salikhov lands a nice spinning back kick and Dos Santos replies with a spin kick of his own. Dos Santos lands a heavy right hand that hurts Salikhov and he goes for the finish. Salikhov ducks the next punch and lands a takedown, but Dos Santos ends up on top landing ground and pound as the round ends. 10-9 Dos Santos.
Second round more of the same again. Dos Santos happy to stand and strike with Salikhov interestingly, despite his advantage on the ground. Spin attempt from ‘Capoeira’ sees Salikhov throw him to the floor but he waits for him to get back up. Seconds later, Dos Santos lands another big right hand that rocks Salikhov but once again the Russian lands a takedown to recover. Both fighters attempt some spinning attacks and land some good strikes to see out the round, but the big right that rocked Salikhov has likely won Dos Santos this round too. 20-18.
Broadcast tells us that between rounds both corners told their respective fighter that they believed they were 2-0 up. Predictably then, the third round starts with a bit more conservative energy. Dos Santos using his reach well and landing jabs but Salikhov is throwing kicks freely. Neither fighter looks like they want to commit to trying to get a finish, likely working off the advice from their corners. Not a lot of output from either fighter as we enter the final minute, with both happy to see this go to the judges. Salikhov’s round for the extra pressure but nothing in it. 29-28 Dos Santos for me.
An interesting first round begins with Prochazka almost talking to himself to hype up. Oezdemir throwing his left hand but Prochazka looking to walk through it. Lots of feints and Oezdemir lands a big left hook that wobbles the debutant! Prochazka fights through it though and continues to swing with his own punches but his hands are so low and he’s very open to counters. First round ends but it was very, very entertaining. 10-9 Volkan.
Second round begins with more of the same strange movements from Prochazka. Oezdemir lands a nice left hand but Prochazka follows it up with a low kick and then a head kick that lands clean. Oezdemir is wobbled and Prochazka marches forward. He fakes the flying knee to back Oezdemir against the cage, then lands a flush one-two down the pipe to knock Volkan out cold. What a knockout. What a debut!
VanZant steps out in the first round already emotional from her walk out. Ribas lands a leg kick and they engage in a clinch. Ribas clearly much physically stronger and she gets a head and arm throw against the cage. RIbas lands some nice strikes before transitioning to take the back. Ribas locks in an armbar, goes belly down and despite VanZant’s attempts to escape she’s forced to tap. That’s a wrap for VanZant’s UFC career.
Rose Namajunasdef Jessica Andrade via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
A fun first round starts off with Rose taking the centre and using her huge reach advantage to land jabs, much like their first bout. Andrade is bouncing around a lot, moving her head off the centre line and not charging forward nearly as much as before. Rose isn’t afraid of the wild exchanges and her precise techniques landing her clean shots but she’s not completely avoiding damage. Andrade engages in a clinch but Rose throws a lovely knee into the chin as the round comes to a close. 10-9 Namajunas.
More of the same in the second round and Rose is looking comfortable. Andrade throwing leg kicks as Rose goes for a big flying knee but misses. Huge body shot lands by Andrade but then Rose lands a big hook of her own. Andrade starting to throw wild hooks but Rose is moving away well. Namajunas goes for a flying knee again and misses, ending up on her back but she pops up again well. Nice one-twos landing from Rose as Andrade engages in a clinch, but Rose throws an elbow on the break to get away unscathed. Fight ends with both exchanging in the pocket. 20-18 Rose.
Final round and both fighters believe they’re up on the scorecards. Andrade throwing a lot of left hooks but Rose using her jab well and staying at distance to avoid damage. Andrade lands a right hand to draw blood from Namajunas’ nose and she’s starting to get hit more than the previous rounds. Andrade lands a left hook that rocks Rose and then she grabs a takedown. Rose threatens with an armbar and a triangle choke before pushing Andrade off and bouncing back up without taking any more damage. Both women landing power shots as we enter the final minute as Andrade presses forward with powerful strikes again. Rose shoots in for the takedown and gets it but Andrade reverses the position immediately before popping back up to her feet. Both women land one more big shot each before the buzzer goes. Andrade round but Rose should get the decision. 29-28.
Petr Yan def Jose Aldo via Knockout – (Round 5, 3:24)
Both fighters showing respect to each other in the first round as they try to claim control of the centre of the Octagon. Both guys throwing out jabs but the first big punch is landed by Yan, who throws a right overhand that lands flush on Aldo’s chin. The Brazilian returns with a heavy calf kick that sends the Russian to the ground but he bounces back up immediately. Aldo shoots for a takedown towards the end of the round but Yan scrambles and earns top position, then lands big ground and pound. Aldo looks hurt and shells up as Yan lands some bombs but he survives the round. 10-9 Yan.
Aldo throwing a lot more leg kicks in the second round, troubling Yan. The Russian isn’t scared to stand in the pocket with Aldo though and is landing some nice punches in the exchanges. Aldo landing more jabs now and starting to make Yan miss but not much action in the second round. 19-19.
Jose Aldo working the body really well in this third round. Ripping left hooks into body constantly, Yan is struggling to make anything land. Aldo lands a nice knee to the head but Yan walks straight through it without any problems. Yan being forced to fight southpaw because of the damage his leg has taken but the strikes are beginning to land now. Yan lands a nice combo and a big elbow on Aldo as the Brazilian starts to fade into the final minute of the round. Round ends with a big land by Yan in a very close round. Despite that, I’m giving the round to Aldo but it could have gone either way. 29-28 Aldo.
Yan looks fresher coming into this round and he lands a nice body kick early in the round. Aldo lands a big body shot but Yan responds immediately with a one-two on the chin of the Brazilian. Clinch in the centre and both fighters throw out knees and body strikes before Yan attempts a sweep to take Aldo down, but he manages to keep his balance. Yan starting to hunt Aldo down across the Octagon, with Aldo constantly retreating and covering up. Big shots from Yan and he sweeps the legs of Aldo and gets him down. Yan standing over a grounded Aldo and just landing big shots but the round comes to an end before he can finish it. Without doubt a Yan round. 38-38.
Fifth round starts and Yan lands a huge one-two immediately that drops Aldo! More ground and pound and Aldo is hurt. Yan has a crucifix position against the cage and is landing big punches and elbows on Aldo. Amazing ground and pound from Yan, Aldo is in huge trouble. Heavy, heavy shots to the head going unanswered but the referee is giving him every chance to fight back. Yan continues to land, Aldo is done but the referee won’t call it. More big elbows and punches and the referee finally steps in to call it. Petr Yan is the world champion!
Alexander Volkanovski def Max Holloway via Split Decision (48-47 x2, 47-48)
Very, very cagey first round from both competitors in this rematch. Volkanovski has landed a few leg kicks but Max is moving well and avoiding most punches. Holloway lands a nice one-two and Volkanovski gets wobbled and instead of jumping on it, Blessed mocks him instead! A flying knee attempt from Holloway missed before a head kick lands right at the end of the round and drops Volkanovski. He pushes the pressure but the horn goes. 10-9 Holloway.
Second round starts calmly, with Holloway using kicks very well in this fight. Max lands a big combo to the body and head that forces Volkanovski to acknowledge it with a nod. Volkanovski pushing forward but he’s swinging wildly and being outclassed at the moment. End of the round approaching and Holloway steps in and lands a big uppercut that drops Volkanovski once again. Big punch from Max and it gives him the round once again. 20-18 Blessed.
Third round opens up with more of the same as Holloway is controlling the range brilliantly with his kicks. Some nice punches from both and then Volkanovski shoots in deep for a takedown. Holloway defends it well and it leads to a clinch against the cage. Holloway shows his strength to stave off any attempts before letting off a knee on the break. Volkanovski leads with a strong left hook but Max looks totally composed in this fight. Alexander lands some jabs and leg kicks but as the round comes to an end it’s hard to see him winning this on the scorecards. 30-27 Holloway.
Volkanovski landing a lot of leg kicks in the fourth and the bruising on Holloway’s thigh is very obvious. Alexander using jabs and left hooks to close the distance but Holloway just returns fire every single time. Clinch in the centre and Volk trips Max and gets the fight to the floor. He steps over the guard of his opponent but Holloway gets his back against the cage and manages to get back to his feet very quickly. Volkanovski landing more shots now and he has Max thinking about the leg kicks again. End of the round, Max gets on the board. 39-37 Holloway.
Final round but it could easily be 2-2 on the scorecards and the fighters know it. Holloway lands a nice left hook that Volkanovski acknowledges but then he comes back with some shots of his own. Volk clinches and pushes Max against the cage but once again ‘Blessed’ gets away relatively easily. Halfway through and both fighters still look good for cardio. Both fighters exchanging strikes and eating heavy punches, then Volkanovski shoots in for a takedown and secures it. Once again, Holloway gets his back to the cage and gets back to his feet almost immediately. Volk lands a nice left hand as we enter the final round and then he shoots for a takedown again, but Holloway stuffs it. Final seconds of the fight and Volk finally gets a takedown and lands a strike on the ground before the buzzer goes. I have it 3-2 to Holloway, 48-47. What a fight.
First round starts with Masvidal landing lots of kicks to the leg of Usman, who swings a wild right hand and misses. Masvidal throws a body kick that Usman catches and sends him to the floor and gets on top. Usman lands a big elbow but Masvidal smiles and eventually gets back to his feet without any more damage. Masvidal is winning the striking exchanges on the feet with his speed advantage. 10-9 Masvidal after Round 1.
Second round starts with Usman going straight for the leg of Masvidal looking for a takedown. Masvidal stuffs it yet again. Usman lands a nice right hand as they break, which sees Gamebred respond with a hook but Usman ducks and initiates another clinch. Lots of body work from both fighters in the clinch, but it seems like Usman is just simply trying to wear Masvidal out. 19-19 after 2.
Third round is more of that same, with Usman clinching but not able to get the takedowns. Masvidal is defending superbly against the cage though, forcing Usman to just really use foot stomps. More body work from both and Usman hits Masvidal a bit too low for the referees liking and there’s a pause in the action. On the restart there is some jostling and Masvidal goes for that switch-stance punch that KO’d Darren Till, however Usman reads it and shoots for the takedown. ‘Gamebred’ gets back up but Usman shows his strength advantage and drags him back down. Usman gets into Masvidal’s guard and starts landing big elbows as the round comes to a close. 29-28 Usman.
Start of the fourth and Usman lands a big body kick before shooting for another takedown. Masvidal stuffs it against the cage again and the clinch ensues, with Usman landing foot stomps and shoulder strikes. They separate briefly but Usman goes back in for the takedown, forcing Masvidal to give up his back as they get back to their feet. ‘Gamebred’ spins back into a clinch and it’s more of the same offence. Masvidal explodes with strikes and forces the separation, but Usman goes straight back in for a clinch. Usman lands a big right hand on the chin before engaging in yet another clinch with foot stomps and shoulder strikes. Masvidal is visibly tired now but still looks dangerous when they engage, it’s just not often enough.
Round 5 starts with both men squaring off and Usman lands a nice jab. Usman goes for the takedown once again and manages to turn the corner to complete it this time. Usman sitting on top of Masvidal as he tries to get out but ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is just too strong. Usman tries to advance to mount but ‘Gamebred’ explodes out. Usman holds him in a front face lock as we enter the final minute. Masvidal manages to get back to his feet but Usman too strong in the clinch and lands more body blows. Masvidal giving it everything in the last 30 seconds, moves for the flying knee but Usman avoids it. The klaxon goes and the two exchange words at the end but it should be nothing but an Usman unanimous decision win.