Tag Archives: Marlon Moraes

UFC Vegas 50: Santos vs Ankalaev – Main card predictions

After a banger of a pay-per-view card last weekend the UFC returns to their APEX in Las Vegas for a big light heavyweight headline fight card as Thiago Santos takes on Magomed Ankalaev in the main event.

The 205-pound division is wide open at the top end and a big win for either man could see them enter title contention in the very near future.

We’ll also see Marlon Moraes take on Song Yadong in a bantamweight co-main event, while the likes of Drew Dober, Terrance McKinney, Miranda Maverick and Alex Pereira competing too in a sneakily stacked card.

Last time out at UFC 272 we went 9/13 with four perfect picks to move to 557/865 (64.39%) with 238 perfect picks (42.73%) with our picks.

We’ll look to improve on that going forward and after starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card here and then rounding off our prelims picks here, we move to our main card picks now.


Alex Pereira (4-1) vs Bruno Silva (22-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Someone is going to sleep in this middleweight bout to open the main card. Alex Pereira made his UFC debut at UFC 269 and scored a huge flying knee knockout, while Bruno Silva is on a seven-fight win streak with KO’s in all of them including Wellington Turman at UFC Vegas 29, Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 40 and Jordan Wright at UFC 269 too.

Pereira is a world class kickboxer who owns two victories over middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in his career, who has shifted to MMA to force another fight with him. His takedown defence has shown improvements, but is still a glaring weakness right now. Silva on the other hand is a brawler with dynamite in his hands, but he also has a solid ground game and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

Someone is going to sleep. It’s that simple. Pereira is super technical and very proficient with his striking, only needing to land clean once to put your lights out, while Silva looks to make the fight wild before landing a clean strike and putting your lights out too. The grappling gives Silva a huge chance though, although I don’t expect he’ll show it much. He will look to take his head off and Pereira can kick from range and pick him off to earn a huge knockout scalp on his resume.
PICK – Alex Pereira via Knockout, Round 1

Drew Dober (23-11) vs Terrance McKinney (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A super short-notice bout in the lightweight division up next. Drew Dober has lost his last two fights against elite competition, getting submitted by Islam Makhachev at UFC 259 before dropping a decision to Brad Riddell at UFC 263. McKinney has made a big splash since his UFC debut, where he score a 7-second KO against Matt Frevola at UFC 263 and then earned a big win over Fares Ziam at UFC Vegas 49 just a few weeks ago. He steps in on eight days’ notice.

Dober is a hugely talented wrestler, whose entire game is based around shooting and then controlling opponents on the ground before raining down ground and pound or submissions. McKinney is a strong wrestler himself but he has serious knockout power too and is riding a huge wave of momentum right now. That said, it’s a big step up in competition for ‘T Wrecks’.

Dober’s chin has survived damage in the past, but he has been submitted in the past four times. McKinney showed in his last bout that he has submission skills and solid wrestling, which makes this fight very close on paper too. It’s hard to get a proper read on McKinney right now though, because he’s had less than half a round in the cage to date. I won’t be shocked if McKinney wins, but it will be mightily impressive. I expect Dober to wrestle defensively and use his striking on the feet to earn a good win, especially with the short-notice aspect being in his favour.
PICK – Drew Dober via Decision

Khalil Rountree Jr (10-5) vs Karl Roberson (9-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fascinating bout at 205-pounds in this one between UFC stalwarts. Rountree Jr snapped a two-fight losing streak with a TKO win via leg kick against Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Vegas 36, while Roberson looks to snap his own losing streak after submission losses to Marvin Vettori at UFC Vegas 2 and Brendan Allen at UFC 261.

Rountree is a Muay-Thai fighter with incredible leg kicks and explosive power in his hands, with a largely improved and evolved game over the years. Roberson is a kickboxer outside of the cage, but for some reason when the door gets locked he starts looking to grapple a lot. This won’t be a grapple heavy affair though, with both guys looking to strike from range and use counters.

That favours Rountree though, because he is a fighter with much better output and volume as well as his leg kicking game being much more advanced. Both guys have the power to put the other out, but the likelihood is this will be quite a cagey affair and Rountree will be able to use his slight speed advantage to catch the judge’s eyes.
PICK – Khalil Rountree Jr via Decision



Sodiq Yusuff (11-2) vs Alex Caceres (19-12) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Two very talented featherweights go head-to-head in this one. Yusuff saw a six-fight win streak snapped by Arnold Allen last time out at UFC Vegas 23, while Caceres is currently on a five-fight win streak with a submission against Seung Woo Choi at UFC Vegas 41 in his most recent outing.

Yusuff is a powerhouse of a striker who fights with great patience and composure, while Caceres is very unorthodox and has an ability to take the fight anywhere with good grappling skills and a karate style of striking. Yusuff is physically the bigger and stronger fighter, which means he will be full of confidence when it comes to the striking game as well as defending any takedowns.

Caceres is on a great run, but this is a bad match up for him. Caceres likes to use volume to get his range, but Yusuff will happily eat a pitter-patter strike to land a bomb and that’s what I expect he will do. He will press forward and force Caceres backwards, before landing some heavy strikes and either forcing a stoppage or earning a wide decision win.
PICK – Sodiq Yusuff via Decision

Marlon Moraes (23-9-1) vs Song Yadong (18-5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The best division in the UFC serves up yet another beautiful fight for the fans here. Moraes is on a rough run right now, with three losses in a row to Cory Sandhagen at UFC Fight Island 5, Rob Font at UFC Vegas 17 and Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 266. A controversial win over Jose Aldo is the only thing stopping him from a five-fight losing streak. Yadong on the other hand is one of the best young fighters in the company and is on a two-fight win streak after a decision against Casey Kenny at UFC 265 before a KO against Julio Arce at UFC Vegas 42.

Moraes is a world class striker, with incredible power in his high kicks and lightning fast striking in his hands. He has got huge problems with his cardio however and recently his chin has really let him down, with repetitive stoppages. Yadong is a terrific boxer with great speed and some good wrestling skills too, which he may need to use in order to gain a victory here. This has got fight of the night potential all over it.

If Yadong wants to secure the win, he needs to mix it up and drag the fight into the latter rounds. Moraes is a better striker and is incredibly well-rounded, but his cardio always drains away in every fight if he doesn’t get the finish early. Yadong is powerful enough to clip that chin of Moraes once again, especially if he’s tired, and earn himself a huge win that potentially ends Moraes’ run with the UFC.
PICK – Song Yadong via Knockout, Round 2

Thiago Santos (22-9) vs Magomed Ankalaev (16-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A huge light heavyweight main event headlines this card with potential title implications. Santos has bounced back from three consecutive defeats to earn a decision win over Johnny Walker most recently at UFC Vegas 38, while Ankalaev is on a seven-fight win streak with his only defeat coming in the final second of his three-round fight with Paul Craig, where he was submitted. His most recent win came against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267 via decision.

Santos is an excellent Muay-Thai fighter with ridiculous power in his punches, and a genuine ability to break your face. Ankalaev on the other hand is a very talented striker who also has grappling in his back pocket, but has patience and power in his strikes. Santos had both his knees ripped to shreds against Jon Jones and since coming back he’s been much more patient and less mobile, which doesn’t help him in this fight. He hasn’t lost his power, but he’s not as willing to stand and trade which may have been the key to winning this fight.

In a straight technique-for-technique clash with Ankalaev, he will lose. Ankalaev has speed, spinning attacks, a good variety to his strikes and enough power to put people out. Santos has a good chin but his lack of volume in recent fights worries me and that can allow Ankalaev to step in and pick him apart, while also not testing his cardio so he can waltz to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Decision

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Prelims predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after starting with the early prelims here, we’ll make our picks for the rest of the prelims now.


Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs Taila Santos (17-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight fight to open the prelims here as the experienced Modafferi takes on the mightily impressive Santos. Modafferi is often seen as as litmus test in the UFC, alternating wins and losses all the way through her UFC career since December 2017. She lost most recently against Viviane Araujo at UFC Fight Island 8 via unanimous decision. Taila Santos on the other hand has been on a tear in the UFC dominating Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Modafferi is a terrible striker but is a good grappler and has so much heart that she almost never gets finished, while Santos is a super powerful striker and grappler herself who will be a very tough test for the veteran. Santos has really powerful hands and has dominated her last two opponents with wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but she’ll likely look to keep this on the feet as much as possible.

Unfortunately for Modafferi, it’s tough to see her getting a win here. She’s out-gunned everywhere and while she might not get finished, Santos should dominate once again.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5) vs Chris Daukaus (11-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Two top ten heavyweights go head-to-head in this one as the big boys come out to play. Abdurakhminov hasn’t fought since a defeat in 2019 to Curtis Blaydes but is still ranked at number 7, while Daukaus has three first-round finish wins in a row in the UFC with a KO over Alexei Oleinik last time out at UFC Vegas 19.

Daukaus is a slightly smaller heavyweight with lightning quick hands, great power and brilliant jiu-jitsu on the ground that he hasn’t had to show so far. Abdurakhminov is a talented wrestler with great ground and pound, but he’s also a good striker in his own right too. Daukaus for me has the speed advantage and the grappling advantage though, which makes this tough for Abdurakhimov.

Better hand speed, better submission skills and better cardio, it’s hard to look past Daukaus earning the W.
PICK – Chris Daukaus via Knockout, Round 1
BETTING TIP – Daukaus win via Sub/KO/DQ @ 11/10 (Bet365)

Dan Hooker (20-10) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night in the lightweight division here between two guys who have had crazy fight weeks. Visa issues nearly called this one off, but the fight is on and Hooker is looking to snap a two-fight skid after defeats to Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler most recently at UFC 257. Haqparast has won his last two, including most recently against Rafa Garcia at UFC Vegas 21.

Hooker is a great striker with brilliant body work, a nasty jab and great knees up the middle, while Haqparast is an excellent boxer with great jabs and some silky hooks too. Hooker’s style generally relied upon his iron chin, but he got slept last time out so that makes this a super tough fight to pick. Haqparast is a fighter who tends to put technique over power which could help Hooker, but he has got the power to put someone down.

With that said though, Hooker is a big step up in competition for Haqparast. He throws hell for leather with every strike and he has the gas tank to go all night, so I think he bounces back with a big win in one of the best fights on the card.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) vs Merab Dvalishvili (13-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The featured prelim bout sees a striking demon with good submission skills take on a wrestling machine. Moraes has lost his last two, getting knocked out by both Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font in violent fashion last time out at UFC Vegas 17. Merab on the other hand is on a hot streak, winning six-in-a-row via unanimous decision with the most recent coming against Cody Stamann at UFC Vegas 25.

Moraes is a brilliant kickboxer with genuine knockout power in all eight of his limbs, but he has shown in the past some severe cardio issues and his durability is lacking. He comes up against a guy who has taken the wrestling crown from Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC and genuinely has the best cardio in the company. He links takedowns together brilliantly, scrambles for fun and just never tires and that will be his game plan here.

Merab will shoot for takedowns over and over again and so long as he doesn’t get caught with something big on his way in or get carried away on the ground and caught in a submission while on top, he mauls his way to another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision
BETTING TIP – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision @ 11/10 (Bet365)

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

Fast start to the round from Christos Giagos here as he comes out with a big overhand right hand that goes straight into a level change for a takedown. Minus immediately tries to scramble out but gives up his back and Giagos goes straight into full mount. He’s floating well and landing some good ground and pound, while also threatening with a rear-naked choke relentlessly. Minus gets back up but Giagos is more than comfortable on the feet and gets it back down again as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 for Giagos.

Second round is essentially the exact same thing as first. Complete domination on the ground from Giagos with plenty of attempts at head and arm chokes, rear naked chokes and ground and pound. Minus is being totally controlled but doing just enough to avoid being finished. Potentially 20-16 after two rounds in favour of Giagos.

Third and final round starts in the same way as the previous two, with Giagos circling before eventually securing a takedown that Minus just can’t defend. Minus gets back up this time though as Giagos is clearly fatigued and starts landing some nice jabs and one-twos. Minus lands a stiff uppercut as the fight draws to a close, with Giagos just circling to survive the final 60 seconds. Easy win in the end for Giagos, 30-25 on my scorecard.

Jimmy Flick def Cody Durden via Submission (Triangle choke), Round 1 (3:18)

Great start to the fight from Durden as both fighters exchange strikes before he grabs a takedown and moves quickly to take the back. He lands some decent punches on the ground but Flick gets back to his feet relatively quickly and they separate. Durden looks explosive and lands some big punches, as Flick covers up well and keeps his guard high. Flick goes for a head kick that Durden catches, but Flick turns it into a flying triangle choke! He pulls him into his guard, tightens the choke and gets the tap! Unbelievable! Wow!

PRELIMS

Tafon Nchukwi def Jamie Pickett via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

Nchukwi makes a fast start and comes across the cage throwing heavy strikes but Pickett tries to avoid using his speed and mobility. Nchukwi throwing combinations and ending with a head kick a lot, but not landing them. Pickett scores a nice takedown against the cage, but Nchukwi does well to get back to the feet without taking too much damage. Nchukwi gets the fight down to the ground himself and shows good control but Pickett gets back up. Spinning elbow lands from Nchukwi as his cardio seems to be holding up well, with lots of knees to the body landing in clinches too. 10-9 Nchukwi.

Fast start against from Nchukwi as he powers out of the traps with a big overhand right hand. Nchukwi is still pressuring Pickett against the cage and whenever they clinch he starts dirty boxing with lots of body strikes and knees to the body too. Left hand landing a lot from Nchukwi but it’s lacking the big power now, although still doing damage. Pickett lands a nice one-two that snaps Nchukwi’s head back, but then he returns with a right hand of his own. Pickett lands a big four or five punch combination that sends Nchukwi backwards. Pickett comes forward and there’s a big clash of heads as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Nchukwi but he’s slowing a little.

Before the third round starts with the doctor checking out Pickett after the clash of heads but the fight goes on. Nchukwi lands a big left hand out of the gate as the round begins and Pickett looks dazed still. Nchukwi is starting to land more flush now and Pickett is hurt. Big knees to the body against the cage again followed by a big left elbow and Pickett is down! Big ground and pound from Nchukwi but Pickett is covering up well and surviving. Nchukwi lets him back up to his feet into the final minute and continues to walk him down looking for a finish. Great fight, but that’s a 10-8 for Nchukwi and a big win. 30-26 for me.

Taila Santos def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-28)

A quick start to the fight for Robertson as the two end up in a clinch against the cage and she goes for a flying armbar quickly! Santos is in danger but she stays calm and eventually gets out of the position and ends up in full guard, controlling the position and landing some nice ground and pound. Robertson throwing elbows from her back to create space and damage but Santos is doing well to nullify her. Robertson tries to scramble back up to her feet but once agains Santos is able to over-power her and land strikes on the ground to see the round out. 10-9 Santos.

Second round begins and once again a clinch against the cage ends up with Taila Santos on top and landing some nice short shots to the face. Santos ties her up and ends up on top with a reverse triangle choke with the legs, but Robertson defends really well and escapes into top position. Santos slides out of the back and ends up back on top once again, landing strikes and making Robertson very uncomfortable. Impressive round from Santos. 20-18.

Santos comes out in the third round and lands two nice punches, showing her striking chops, before Robertson throws a head kick and goes for a takedown. She ends up catching Santos in a guillotine, but the Brazilian stays patient and escapes, ending up back against the cage in top position. More short strikes from Santos as Robertson keeps working for a submission but nothing is working. Robertson finally manages to isolate an arm and rolls through for an armbar but Santos fights out of it once again and ends the round taking the back of Robertson. Dominant performance from the Brazilian. 30-27 Santos.

Deron Winn def Antonio Arroyo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Explosive start from Arroyo as he comes in with some powerful strikes before Winn hits an early takedown. Arroyo scrambles back to his feet but then Winn gets another takedown early. A third and fourth takedown follow as the pattern of this fight continues as we pass the halfway point. Arroyo throws up an armbar attempt and then gets back to his feet once Winn escapes. He lands a big knee to the face and then a combo that hurts Winn, but he steps back and recovers. Arroyo starts stalking with hands low, but Winn looks for another takeodwn. Again Arroyo gets to the feet and lands a nasty front kick to the face but Winn eats it and gets another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Winn but Arroyo looks more likely to win it at this rate.

Winn opens up the round with a wheel kick attempt that misses before landing a takedown, which he sees keep Arroyo down a little longer this time but Arroyo eventually gets back up to his feet. The round continues with the same pattern of Winn landing lots of takedowns and Arroyo getting back to his feet and landing nice strikes before going down again. Arroyo is exhausted at this point, throwing lazy kicks and accepting the position on his back while Winn lays on top to take a breather also.

Third round and once again Winn continues to blast takedown after takedown, taking him into double figures officially for the fight. Arroyo is exhausted and is accepting the position, being lazy off his back throwing up-kicks before Winn lets him back up. A nice head kick lands but Winn just goes straight back in for another takedown as we enter the final 30 seconds of the fight. They get back to the feet and Arroyo lands a body kick as the round comes to an end. Should be a win for Deron Winn.

Pannie Kianzad def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A strong start for Eubanks as she lands a flurry of punches before getting the takedown at the first attempt. Lots of floating position and some good strikes from top control as Kianzad is clearly at a disadvantage in these instances. Eubanks controls the entire round with top control and ends the round taking the back of Kianzad, but she runs out of time before she can sink in a choke. 10-9 Eubanks.

Kianzad starts the second round well, landing some good strikes and then defend against the takedown attempt from Eubanks. Kianzad lands some nice knees to the body in the clinch and some good body shots that are doing some damage. Eubanks blasts a takedown and gets it but Kianzad immediately throws up her guard and defends. She looks to sink in an armbar from her back but Eubanks escapes well and Kianzad manages to get back to her feet. A few more body shots land and the round ends with Kianzad throwing elbows to the side of the head as she defends a takedown. 19-19, big round incoming.

Third round continues from where the second left off, as Kianzad keeps the fight standing and starts landing some nice jabs. Eubanks looks laboured now but then lands a big right hand on Kianzad that gets her attention. Kianzad throwing knees to the body again and her jab is landing but Eubanks is walking forward. Both women exchange jabs in the centre before a wild left hook misses the target completely. Final minute now as Eubanks lands a right hand before Kianzad steps in and out landing a nice one-two. Big left hook from Eubanks lands but Kianzad responds with a hook of her own. Fight comes to an end with the women exchanging blows in the centre. 29-28 Kianzad for me but that’s a great fight.

Anthony Pettis def Alex Morono via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A blistering start to this fight as Morono charges across the cage and gets an immediate takedown with a hook in to take the back. He starts raining down huge punches and busts the nose of Pettis early. Body lock tightens as Morono looks for a rear naked choke, but Pettis rotates into him and reverses the position well before getting back up to his feet. Pettis starts flicking out strikes, looking for his big left hand but Morono countering well and forcing Pettis to move backwards. Big spinning kick from Pettis lands clean to the chest but Morono eats it and continues to come forward. Morono goes for another takedown and drags Pettis down to the mat but Pettis reverses it perfectly and ends the round on top. 10-9 Morono but great fight so far.

Fast paced start for the second round as Pettis comes out looking for jabs and kicks but Morono still coming forward. He’s beginning to slow down now a bit though as Pettis looks for a huge spinning elbow but hits fresh air. Pettis throwing some nice leg kicks and a straight left that is causing Morono some trouble, as Pettis throws an axe-kick that grazes the face of Morono. Body kick from Morono as he continues to come forward, but Pettis is landing shots and avoiding any big damage coming back his way. Body kick lands and then a jab from Pettis as both men look for spinning attacks at the end of the round. 19-19, Pettis looking good right now.

Morono lands a nice strike to open the round, before Pettis throws another axe kick that grazes the head. Pettis turns his back after a strike attempt and Morono charges for a takedown, but Pettis rolls through and ends up on top in control. Pettis doing brilliant work to remain on top, stacking Morono against the cage and landing short shots to stay busy. Morono battles back to his feet but Pettis controlling head position and landing knees to the body as we enter the final minute. Separation from the clinch and Morono charges forward with a flurry, but Pettis responds with a clean uppercut. Spinning wheel kick lands to the top of the head by Pettis and Morono is wobbled! Pettis charges for the finish and drops him, but then goes for a guillotine which he doesn’t quite get and ends the round on top raining down punches.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 2 (4:31)

An interesting start to this fight as both guys looking to fight from range using jabs, while Tybura looking to add a few kicks too. Hardy lands a nice right hand but Tybura eats it and throws a nice body kick. Hardy lands three big right hands in a row and Tybura is wobbled! Hardy slows it down again and Tybura goes for a single leg takedown but it’s defended well. Hardy then lands SEVEN heavy right hands in a row that really hurts Tybura but the round comes to an end. Best we’ve seen Hardy. 10-9.

Better start to the round for Tybura this time as he starts to time the shots of Hardy and countering well. He’s walking Hardy down and throwing kicks and jabs, feinting takedowns constantly too. Tybura shoots in for a takedown this time against the cage and Hardy defends it well at first before ending up flat on his back. Tybura flattens Hardy out onto his back and starts throwing bombs down! Hardy starts covering up and Tybura keeps punching until the referee stops the fight! Big comeback win for the Polish fighter!

Rob Font def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 1 (3:47)

Explosive start to the fight from Font as he comes out with two big hooks, which makes Moraes change levels and get a takedown quickly. Font manages to reverse the position and lands some nice knees to the body, but then Moraes picks him up and slams him down and takes control from top position. Font gets back to his feet and Moraes lands a nice head kick that sends Font backwards. Font then throws some bombs that rock Moraes and he drops him with a beautiful uppercut. He jumps on him for the ground and pound and the referee stops it! Wow! What a knockout!

Michel Pereira def Khaos Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very tactical start to the fight with both guys throwing feints and just testing their range for the opening minute. Pereira throws a big one-two and a front kick to the body that connects hard, but Khaos doesn’t flinch. Halfway through the round, Khaos throws some leg kicks as the two clinch and separate quickly. Body kick from Pereira is caught by Khaos and the throws a big one-two that wobbles Pereira. Another front kick by Pereira is caught and another big right hook lands flush, but Pereira eats it and continues to come forward. Right hand lands by Pereira now and he follows it up with a knee up the middle. Flying knee attempt at the end from Pereira but it’s a tight round. 10-9 Khaos.

Another slow start to this round, but it bursts into life as Pereira counters a low kick with a straight right hand flush on the chin. Khaos comes forward and launches a flurry, that leads to a clinch in the centre that ends in a stalemate. Some nice leg kicks land from Khaos and then he starts attacking the body. Pereira responds with a body kick of his own and Khaos charges across the cage throwing punches, landing three in a row to the chin. Clinch against the cage and Pereira throws big knees to the body before they separate. Seconds to go and Pereira jumps on the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. Super close round, 20-18 Khaos for me though.

Fancy footwork from Pereira as he looks to get in and out with powerful strikes, but Khaos is throwing hooks that are landing too. Pereira goes for a weird mule-kick but misses completely and then Khaos throws a flurry of shots to the body and head. Pereira throws a body kick again and then changes levels to secure a takedown. Pereira tries to pass into mount but Khaos defends well and gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute. Khaos eats a kick to the head and then Pereira changes levels again and gets another takedown, ending the round with lots of ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Khaos at the end for me but could go either way.

Jose Aldo def Marlon Vera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Tense start to the fight as Vera and Aldo stand in boxing range and exchange leg kicks early before Vera initiates a clinch against the cage. Aldo eats some knees to the thigh before reversing the position and separating. Big left hook to the body from Aldo gets a reaction from Vera and he throws it again shortly after. Straight right and a big leg kick from Aldo followed by a third body shot, as Vera throws straight kicks to the lead leg of Aldo. Vera throws a head kick which Aldo avoids then throws a big body shot and right hook combo. 10-9 Aldo as the round ends.

Aldo starts the second round with another big left body shot followed by a right hand to the head. Vera still throwing that stabbing leg kick to Aldo’s lead leg, but Aldo is countering with good head shots. Aldo catches a body kick and Vera spins and lands a back fist, moving out of range of Aldo’s counter at the same time. Clinch against the cage as Vera throws knees to the thigh, then looks for a trip. Aldo stays on the feet and throws a knee to the body before they clinch up again against the cage. Better round for Vera there, could well be even.

Vera charges across the cage to start strong but misses a strike and Aldo latches on to the back and locks in a body triangle. He jumps up to the back and eventually flattens Vera out, before eventually rolling through as he looks for a rear-naked choke. Vera is battling the position but Aldo controlling from the back. Vera manages to stand up with Aldo still on his back and walks him over to his corner, slamming him down, but Aldo keeps the body triangle synched up. Aldo keeps the back for the rest of the round and threatens the choke but the buzzer goes and that’s that. Should be an Aldo win.

Stephen Thompson def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Competitive start to the fight from both men as Wonderboy manages the distance expertly as usual, using kicks and jabs. Neal marching him down, looking to close distance to then explode with flurries of strikes but Wonderboy landing combos and then evading. Wonderboy looks very sharp, landing good strikes. Both men go for an exchange of strikes but clash heads, opening up a cut on both men just above their eyes. Fight is paused for a short while but only lasts for another 5 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Wonderboy.

Neal comes out in the second round and looks to engage in a clinch, but Wonderboy defends well and they separate quickly. Wonderboy then lands a stiff one-two down the middle, followed by some clean body kicks. Neal responds with a body kick of his own but Wonderboy counters with short strikes and stabbing body kicks. Straight right lands from Wonderboy as he continues to evade Neal’s attacks with excellent footwork. Neal traps Wonderboy against the cage and finally lands a big left hand, but Wonderboy eats it and responds with a strike of his own to end the round. 20-18 Wonderboy.

Wonderboy continues in the third as he has gone in the first and second so far with good kicking and nice one-twos before moving out of the way. Neal closes the distance and gets a clinch position against the cage, throwing knees to the thigh. Wonderboy swivels and separates well and goes back to landing strikes from range. Both throwing jabs, with Neal landing a couple of nice ones in particular before another clinch against the cage with Neal leaning on Wonderboy, but the veteran separates well then lands a lovely combination. Big straight right hand from Wonderboy lands twice before Neal lands a big left hand just before the buzzer. 30-27 Wonderboy.

More of the same in this fourth round, with Wonderboy using his jab perfectly. Big right hand lands flush and Neal looks like he’s hurt, so Wonderboy lands three more. Nice body kick lands on Neal, that causes an audible burp in the octagon, but Neal is just being outclassed right now. Clinch situation against the cage at the end of the round, Wonderboy is cleaning up right now. He ends the round with what looks like a knee injury though… 40-36.

Final round and Neal comes out aggressive, throwing his big left hand and Wonderboy is clearly compromised by that injured leg. Big exchange against the cage and both men land some big bombs but nobody flinches yet. Body shots from Wonderboy as Neal gets a clinch against the cage. Big body shots from Neal with 70 seconds left as they separate in the clinch, Wonderboy steps forward with a couple of right hands of his own. Neal lands two clean shots but Wonderboy returns with shots of his own as they trade in the centre of the cage to end the round. Great fight, vintage Wonderboy performance. 50-45 for me.

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Main Card Predictions

The final UFC card of the year looks to end 2020 with a bang with a welterweight main event that could decide on a new contender for the belt.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal step into the headline slot following the collapse of the fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. Neal is looking to extend his win streak against the highest level of competition he has faced, knowing a win puts him into the top five conversation.

Elsewhere on the card Jose Aldo looks for his first win at bantamweight against Marlon Vera in the co-main, on a card that has an insane 14 fights on the night.

Last week at UFC 256, we had a poor showing as we scored just 4/10 on the night on a night of incredible fights. That moved us to 185/292 (63.36%) with 80 perfect picks (43.24%) since starting predictions back in June.

With so many fights the predictions will be split into three parts this week, starting with the early prelims here and with the rest of the prelim card here. We move into the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura (20-6) vs Greg Hardy (7-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight clash between the Polish fighter looking to go 4-0 in 2020, against the former NFL star who looks to make it three wins in a row. Tybura is coming off wins over Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin and most recently Ben Rothwell, while Hardy got the TKO win over Maurice Greene in October. Tybura is a well rounded fighter who carries power and has submission skills, although he hasn’t won via tap-out since 2014. Hardy is a powerhouse, who uses boxing to get in close and tries to take your head off quite simply. Tybura has been KO’d in each of his last three defeats, so Hardy will take encouragement from knowing that if he lands clean he can put Tybura away. Should this one get out of the first round, Hardy will start to gas and the Pole can then take over and using his good range striking and grinding takedowns against the cage. For that reason, Tybura takes a decision win after surviving the early pressure of Hardy.
PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision

Marlon Moraes (23-7-1) vs Rob Font (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes returns to the UFC after his defeat to Cory Sandhagen back in October where he was dominated and knocked out in the second round. Rob Font makes his first appearance in over a year but is coming off a two-fight win streak having beaten Sergio Pettis and Ricky Simon. Moraes is a phenomenal striker in the Muay-Thai discipline and carries scary speed with his punches and kicks. Font is a kickboxer who has a great jab and is more than durable enough to have an all-out war. Font is a pretty standard striker style-wise, who tends to step forward and is very traditional with his footwork. Moraes is world-class when it comes to a kickboxing match and should be able to read Font’s attacks and counter with heavy hands to earn himself a knockout win.
PICK – Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2

Michel Pereira (24-11) vs Khaos Williams (11-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The human highlight reel that is Michel Pereira looks to make it back-to-back wins following a beautiful submission win against Zelim Imadaev back in September. Khaos Williams has won his last eight fights in a row, including his two UFC fights so far. He smashed through Alex Morono in 27 seconds back in February, before annihilating Abdul Razak Alhassan in just 30 seconds with a violent one-punch knockout in November. This fight is highly unlikely to see the judges scorecards, with both guys carrying insane power in their hands and happy to engage in a war for the fans. Pereira has great submission and jiu-jitsu skills, but his go-to is always to strike with venom in his heart. He’s got great kicks and really good head movement, but he doesn’t have the one-punch power of Khaos. If Williams can land, there is every chance it ends there and then but if Pereira can use his movement and avoid using his wild antics to encourage a slug-fest then he should win. I just don’t think he does that and therefore gets chinned into unconsciousness.
PICK – Khaos Williams via Knockout, Round 1

Jose Aldo (28-7) vs Marlon Vera (16-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the greatest pound for pound fighters in UFC history, Jose Aldo has had a rough time recently. He’s lost five of his last seven, including his last three in a row including a knockout loss to Petr Yan in their vacant title fight on Fight Island. Marlon Vera though is on an upwards trajectory, having won six of his last seven including a shocking knockout win over Sean O’Malley back at UFC 252. Aldo is one of the best boxers the UFC has ever seen, with phenomenal counter-striking and dangerous leg kicks and speed. Vera has a good kicking game himself and has a great ground game but everywhere he excels, he’s just a level below Aldo. While Vera is super talented in his own right, this is just a step too far for the Ecuadorian. Aldo completely outclasses him on the feet and eventually gets a TKO win.
PICK – Jose Aldo via Knockout, Round 2

Stephen Thompson (15-4-1) vs Geoff Neal (13-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

‘Wonderboy’ makes his first appearance in the octagon in over a year following his big win over Vicente Luque in November 2019. Geoff Neal saw a fight with Neil Magny fall through earlier this year and steps into the cage for the first time since KO’ing Mike Perry in December last year. ‘Wonderboy’ is an excellent striker, using his karate style to stay out of range and use his kicks phenomenally well. He’s also a tremendous counter striker which could come in handy against ‘Handz of Steel’. Neal is one of the best finishers in the UFC and has legitimate one-punch power, but is also a very composed and accurate striker too. He throws great volume and has shown the ability to maintain a good pace throughout three rounds, although this is his first five round bout. Thompson is without a doubt the best striker Neal has ever fought and his range management is phenomenal. It’s a really close fight because Neal has never had a step up in competition like this, but he is clearly good enough to be at this level. With that said, I think ‘Wonderboy’ has a style so hard to beat. He was dominating Pettis before a shock knockout and most people had him beating Darren Till in that decision loss. For that reason, I think Thompson stops the Neal train in it’s tracks with a clinic.
PICK – Stephen Thompson via Decision

UFC Fight Island 5 Fallout – Bantamweight Shaping Up, Greatest KO Ever?

One of the wildest cards of the year so far took place this past weekend and the UFC bantamweight division is finally shaping up for 2021.

Marlon Moraes took on Cory Sandhagen in the main event with title picture implications, and a masterful performance from the US native on Fight Island saw him come away with a spinning wheel kick TKO victory in the second round.

It was a highly impressive performance from ‘The Sandman,’ who was bouncing back from a humiliating submission loss to Aljamain Sterling back in June. He used his range well to from distance and avoid damage from the Muay-Thai black belt.

It was a sign of confidence in the second round that he told the world that Moraes had a broken orbital bone just moments before he knocked him out. He was so comfortable in the cage with one of the best strikers in the division that he decided to play mind games in the middle of a fight.

Following his huge win, he acknowledged that he is behind Aljamain Sterling in the pecking order for the title fight against Petr Yan and decided to call out two former champions instead. With disgraced former champion TJ Dillashaw due back from his suspension in January and Frankie Edgar firmly in position in the 135lbs division following his win over Pedro Munhoz, Sandhagen sees his path to a title fight coming after a win against one of those two.

It likely means he won’t fight again this year which gives him plenty of time to start training towards those potential bouts and focus on whoever wins between the inevitable clash between Petr Yan and Sterling.

I can’t let this card go by without mentioning the most incredible knockout, potentially ever, that took place on the card too.

During the Impa Kasanganay vs Joaquin Buckley fight, both men were throwing heat throughout the opening round. Buckley came out with strong hooks and wobbled Kasanganay a few times but the undefeated fighter looked to come back with body shots, using his long limbs to try and keep distance. In the second round though Buckley threw a head-kick that Kasanganay caught but with his foot still in Kasanganay’s hand, he spun off the floor and hit a heel kick straight to the jaw of his opponent. Buckley moved away as Kasanganay crashed to the canvas already unconscious with his eyes rolling back in his head.

It was a stunning knockout that caught the eye of the entire world and Buckley will now look to ride that momentum in the 185lbs division as he looks to push into the Top 15 rankings.

There were several impressive performances on this card so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on all the fighters that were involved going forward.

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

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.

PRELIMS

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!

MAIN CARD

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.

Edson Barboza def Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)

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!

UFC Fight Island 5: Moraes vs Sandhagen – Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to Fight Island for part three of their five part series this time around and it’s a bantamweight clash that headlines this one.

Marlon Moraes looks to get back into title contention following his win over controversial win over Jose Aldo last year when he takes on Cory Sandhagen who tries to bounce back from his defeat to Aljamain Sterling back in June.

It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go. I’ve already predicted the early prelims of the card here and predicted the prelims of the card here.

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.

MAIN 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