Tag Archives: Mauricio Rua

UFC 274: Oliveira vs Gaethje – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Arizona for a huge pay-per-view card this weekend headlined by two massive title fights in the lightweight and strawweight divisions.

The main event will see Charles Oliveira defend his 155-pound title for the second time against Justin Gaethje, who looks to earn the belt at the second time of asking.

In the co-main event we’ll see Rose Namajunas defend her 115-pound title for the second time of her second stint as champion when she takes on Carla Esparza, reigniting a rivalry years in the making from the inaugural title fight in the division.

We’ll also see Michael Chandler fight against Tony Ferguson in a huge lightweight fight, as well as ‘Shogun’ Rua, Donald Cerrone, Randy Brown, Khaos Williams, Danny Roberts and more.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 53 we had a poor night with our picks, going 5/11 with four perfect picks. That moves us up to 613/951 (64.46%) with 259 perfect picks (42.25%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this massive 15-fight card, and after starting with the early prelims then moving on to the rest of the prelims here, we finish up with our main card picks now.


Donald Cerrone (36-16) vs Joe Lauzon (28-16) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A retirement (?) fight opens up the main card between two legends of the UFC. Cerrone is winless in his last six fights with five losses and a draw (overturned to a no contest), with a first-round knockout defeat to Alex Morono at UFC Vegas 26 most recently. Lauzon on the other hand has lost three of his last four, with a win over Jonathan Pearce most recently via knockout way back in 2019.

Both of these fighters are super well-rounded with crisp striking and a solid ground game too. Cerrone looks to use his kickboxing skills while on the mat his jiu-jitsu is always capable of helping him out of a hole, while Lauzon is a brawler who comes forward and looks to land big strikes or force mistakes to latch on to submissions.

This is interesting because stylistically they match up great but their approach is very different. Cerrone is a notoriously slow starter while Lauzon tends to explode early and blitz his opponents, which could help him earn a quick win here. But skill for skill, I do think Cerrone has him here. He’s been more active in the cage and he is the bigger man naturally so I think he claims a decision win in an all-out war.
PICK – Donald Cerrone via Decision

Mauricio Rua (27-12-1) vs Ovince Saint Preux (25-16) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A light heavyweight fight that really has no business being on the main card between a legend and a legend killer. ‘Shogun’ got well beaten in his last fight back at UFC 255 when he tapped out to strikes against Paul Craig, while OSP has suffered back-to-back knockout defeats against Jamahal Hill at UFC Vegas 16 and then Tanner Boser and UFC Vegas 30.

These two fought way back in 2014 with OSP earning a knockout win in just 34 seconds. ‘Shogun’ is a talented striker with powerful punches, excellent kicks and decent grappling skills when the fight hits the ground. OSP is a rangy striker with a beautiful left hook counter, while his ground game has seen him pick up an excellent eight wins via submission including his patented ‘Saint Preux choke’.

If the weight cut goes well, Saint Preux wins this fight. It’s really that simple. He has the range and style to keep Shogun away in a striking battle, has the power to knock him out and if he gets the fight down to the ground he has the qualities to control him and even get a submission. This should be a pretty straightforward fight for OSP to claim a win.
PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Decision

Michael Chandler (22-7) vs Tony Ferguson (26-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Absolute banger in the lightweight division between two of the top seven ranked fighters, both coming in on losing streaks. Chandler made his debut with a first-round KO against Dan Hooker at UFC 257, before suffering a KO loss to Charles Oliveira for the title at UFC 262 and then a fight of the night loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 in November. Ferguson saw a 12-fight win streak snapped by Gaethje back at UFC 249 in a one-sided five-rounder, before getting dominated by Oliveira at UFC 256 and then Beneil Dariush at UFC 262.

Chandler is a gladiator who walks his opponents down and swings huge hooks to the head, setting them up with jabs to the body and threatening with his excellent wrestling skills. Ferguson is a wild fighter, with incredible cardio ability, amazing jiu-jitsu skills and great power to go with an iron chin. But he has looked a shadow of himself in recent fights and his decline looks set to continue here. Against both Oliveira and Dariush they were able to nullify him entirely with wrestling and keep him on his back, something Chandler is more than capable of doing.

Ferguson will want the fight standing and will want to encourage a war with Chandler, who has proven to be chinny in the past and reckless when he gets carried away. But the blueprint to beat Ferguson is there and his tank seems to be emptying after being unbelievable in his prime. Chandler clips Ferguson in a big exchange, takes him down and dominates for 15 minutes for a huge win.
PICK – Michael Chandler via Decision



Rose Namajunas (12-4) vs Carla Esparza (19-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Huge title fight between the two women who competed against each other in the first ever strawweight title fight in UFC history. Namajunas won the belt with a first-round KO win over Weili Zhang at UFC 261, before winning a close fight in a rematch at UFC 268. Esparza has won five in a row coming into this bout with decisions over Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson, Marina Rodriguez (UFC Fight Island 3) and Yan Xiaonan most recently via knockout.

‘Thug Rose’ is a very well rounded fighter. She has got amazing striking, with great speed and power in her kicks and punches while her footwork and range management is near perfect. She’s also very good on the ground, with five submission wins across her career. Esparza is a terrific wrestler, who looks to use those skills to get the fight to the ground and work her own terrific submission game, as she did against Namajunas in their first fight where she won via rear-naked choke.

This fight is eight years later though and Namajunas is so much better than she was back then. She has completely evolved as a fighter to go up several levels and while Esparza is still great, it feels like Namajunas has to make a mistake to lose this fight. Add to that her record in rematches (4-0), I can’t look past Namajunas landing a hard kick at some point and getting another finish in a title fight to retain the belt.
PICK – Rose Namajunas via Knockout, Round 3

Charles Oliveira (32-8) vs Justin Gaethje (22-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The best fight of the night on a wild card headlines the event for the lightweight championship. Oliveira is on a ten-fight win streak, with a submission win over Dustin Poirier most recently at UFC 269 in December. Gaethje bounced back from defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 with a huge win over Michael Chandler in his most recent fight.

Oliveira is one of the most complete fighters in the UFC. He has terrific Muay Thai striking skills with vicious knees and elbows, as well as crisp boxing and a snappy front kick to the body to go with the best submission skills in UFC history and amazing cardio. Gaethje is, like Chandler, a gladiator who just walks his opponents down and looks to take their head off with crazy power punches. He also has chopping low kicks, great wrestling defensively and an insane will to just never quit as well as amazing cardio of his own. This is, quite simply, going to be amazing.

In a straight up fire fight on the feet, Gaethje has the edge. He’s the more powerful fighter and he has got excellent head movement to go with it. But the grappling of Oliveira is an incredible game changer in this fight. The ease with which Khabib was able to get Gaethje down and advance positions to get a submission was scary, so Oliveira will feel and know he can do the same if he gets the chance to grapple. There is always a chance that Gaethje lands a nasty uppercut or a violent hook that turns the lights out, but with how good Oliveira has looked recently I expect him to be able to work his grappling patiently and eventually take the neck of Gaethje to leave him sleeping just like Khabib did before him.
PICK – Charles Oliveira via Submission, Round 3

UFC 255: Figueiredo vs Perez – Main Card Predictions

The flyweights take over the UFC Apex on Saturday night as both Deiveson Figueiredo and Valentina Shevchenko defend their 125lbs titles at UFC 255.

Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Alex Perez looks to become the first contestant from the show to wear UFC gold, but Figueiredo will be looking to begin his reign of terror on the division. Shevchenko on the other hand is looking for a fourth consecutive title defence when she takes on Jennifer Maia in the co-main event, with her legacy as the greatest female 125lber ever on the line too.

A twelve fight card looks full of fun fights and prospects too, with seven prelims fights preceding a stacked main card.

Last week was a poor outing for our predictions, as we got just 5/9 correct picks with four perfect picks. It takes our overall pick numbers to 168/252 (66.67%) with 78 perfect picks (46%) since starting up our predictions back in June 2020.

Lets see if we can improve those numbers with this big card. I’ve already predicted the prelims here, so we move on with the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Mauricio Rua (27-11-1) vs Paul Craig (13-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The rematch nobody wanted or needed to see, but it’s happening. These two met back in November 2019 and fought to a draw. Since then Craig has submitted Gadzhimurad Antigulov on Fight Island in July, while ‘Shogun’ got a win over Antonio Nogueira on the same card. Craig will almost certainly look to get this fight to the ground, with 12 submissions wins from 13 career victories. ‘Shogun’ Rua is a black belt in jiu-jitsu but he isn’t active off his back and prefers to just crack jaws if he can help it. It’s a tough one to call considering how the first fight went but I think Craig can get it done this time. He dominated the first round in that fight and if he can do it again this time, I think he gets the finish.
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 1

Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A good fight between two top contenders in the women’s flyweight division. Chookagian fought for the title and was beaten to a pulp before bouncing back with a win over her sister, Antonina Shevchenko. Last month though, she was beaten thanks to a nasty body shot by Jessica Andrade as she looked to climb back up the rankings. Calvillo made her debut in the division back in June with a big win over then ranked #1 Jessica Eye. Chookagian is a kickboxer by trade, who can clinch if she needs to as she showed against Andrade. She’s going to need her grappling skills in this one as Calvillo will look to get the fight to the ground and dominate with her excellent top game and chokes. Chookagian will look to use her kicks to stop Calvillo getting into range but she is capable of boxing her way into that range to get the clinch and takedown. It will be close with not many highlights but I think Calvillo takes the decision.
PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision

Mike Perry (14-6) vs Tim Means (30-12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

This was supposed to be a wild battle between Mike Perry and Robbie Lawler, but when ‘Ruthless’ dropped out it fell to the veteran Tim Means to step up to the plate. Perry won his last bout with a dominant decision over Mickey Gall in June while Means got a decision win over Laureano Staropoli in August. Perry is essentially a street fighter, with looping hooks and big kicks his main fortΓ©. Means is primarily a Muay-Thai fighter who throws nice combinations, including elbows and knees. His issue is that he is very open to having his lights turned out with one punch, and Perry has the power to do that. He’s also got a fantastic chin, but has a four inch reach disadvantage. I think it goes the distance and it could honestly go either way, but I’m going with my gut with Means.
PICK – Tim Means via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

This is the lock of the night. Shevchenko is the greatest female flyweight fighter of all time and has a complete skillset when it comes to mixed martial arts. Her expert kickboxing technique keeps her at range from her opponents, while her wrestling skills mean she can mix it up whenever she needs too. Maia is a jiu-jitsu fiend, who got a big win in her last outing against Joanne Calderwood back in August to get this bout with a first round submission win. For her to get a win here, she needs a takedown into a dominant position then enough time to sink something in. The chances of that are incredibly slim though and I think Shevchenko beats her up on the feet for a couple of rounds before landing one of her trademark head kicks to end it early.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs Alex Perez (24-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The most powerful striker in the division’s history, Figueiredo will be throwing bombs early in this one. Alex Perez is a very impressive grappler with fantastic cardio and submission skills, winning his last three in row including his last bout against Jussier Formiga in June. His only loss in the UFC came against Joseph Benavidez, when he was KO’d back in November 2018. His style is eerily similar to that of Benavidez, which doesn’t bode well against Figueiredo. Figueiredo destroyed Benavidez in both of his last bouts. ‘God of War’ is a vicious striker who is also very good on the ground himself. The power is scary enough but Perez’s way out is blocked by the fact he’s matched on the ground too. Perez’s best chance of a win is if Figueiredo makes a mistake which I don’t see happening. Figueiredo lands a huge hook or two and ends this one early and violently.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Fight Island: Whittaker vs Till – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Nathaniel Wood def John Castaneda via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A solid start to the card for ‘The Prospect’ as he delivers on his name with a great performance. Lots of movement and stiff punches but Castaneda held his own in the first round with some strikes of his own. As the fight progressed though, Wood began to find his reads and land more often than not. More of the same through the second and third round and Wood cruises into a decision victory.

Ramazan Emeev def Nicklas Stolze via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Another fiercely contested bout between two warriors as Emeev gets himself back into the UFC win column also. The first round went as expected, with Emeev dominating on the ground with 3 takedowns and plenty of time in top position. The round ended though with Stolze landing a huge knee that rocked Emeev before the timer ended. The second round didn’t hit the mat at all as Emeev kept it standing and out-struck Stolze with his stiff jab and a nice overhand right. In the third, he controlled his opponent against the cage with a strong body lock and wore his opponent down to secure the unanimous victory.

PRELIMS

Pannie Kianzad def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

An interesting fight this one as Kianzad came out firing and Correia almost looked lost in the Octagon. Barely any head movement made her a simple target to hit, which Kianzad did handily and just completely dominated the opening round. In the second round, Correia landed a takedown and did well early on but Kianzad got back to her feet and continued to outland her opponent in the third round for a comfortably decision win in the end. Correia didn’t look good here at all.

Tanner Boser def Raphael Pessoa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:36)

Tanner Boser makes it two wins on the spin with a big knockout over Pessoa in the second round. After a tentative first round from the heavyweights where there weren’t many punches thrown but plenty of leg kicks, Boser throws a windmill left hand that scrapes the eye of his opponent (legally!) and Pessoa goes down. Boser steams in and follows up with big ground and pound before the referee steps in and calls it off. Big win!

Movsar Evloev def Mike Grundy via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3, 29-28)

A high-level grappling bout which saw scrambles, submission attempts and good strikes. Evloev and Grundy took each other to the limits, with Grundy starting it off immediately looking to take it to the ground. Grundy went for a d’arce choke but Evloev used a backwards roll to escape, very unorthodoxly. Grundy continues to go for takedowns but Evloev is busy on the bottom and when he gets back to his feet clearly has the edge in the stand-up. Grundy took plenty of punishment and his face was marked up so he started shooting for takedowns, but Evloev was prepared now and was able to stuff them and land more shots. Round 3 was all Evloev on the feet too and even when Grundy managed to secure a takedown Evloev was able to get back up quickly.

Tom Aspinall def Jake Collier via Knockout (Round 1, 0:45)

Well, that was quick. As expected, Aspinall moves forward and causes plenty of problems. Collier is way out of his depth and as he steps in for a power shot, Aspinall lands a beautiful knee to the body before a one-two straight down the pipe to flatten Collier. He lands a few more shots on the ground before the referee steps in. No shocks there.

Jesse Ronson def Nicolas Dalby via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:48)

The first shock of the night! A fun first round where Dalby tried to initiate a brawl with his less technical opponent and it backfired massively. After stuffing a takedown attempt against the cage, Ronson lands a huge left hand counter to the chin that drops Dalby. He goes for ground and pound, takes mount and sinks in a rear-naked choke for the big upset win and his first UFC victory.

Francisco Trinaldo def Jai Herbert via Knockout, Round 3 (1:30)

What a fight! First round Trinaldo got Herbert to the ground and used excellent top pressure to land sharp elbows but the Brit gets back to his feet and gets some big knees in of his own. Herbert opens the second round with a big one two that drops Trinaldo! He pushes forward for a finish but the veteran shows his experience and ties him up on the ground in his guard. More big shots from Herbert and he’s troubling Trinaldo, but the elder statesmen is staying in it with some body shots. Third round opens up with either fighter potentially up on the scorecards. Trinaldo swings a wild left hook that connects flush on the forehead of Herbert and knocks him out cold. He falls backwards and Trinaldo rushes over and doesn’t want to strike but Herb Dean won’t wave the fight off so Trinaldo lands 3 bombs before it’s over. Massive win for Trinaldo but a great showing from Herbert too.

MAIN CARD

Khamzat Chimaev def Rhys McKee via Knockout, Round 1 (3:08)

As expected, this one didn’t last long at all. Chimaev flew across the octagon and immediately shot for the takedown, picking McKee up and walking him across the cage to dump him in the corner. He got on top of him and landed strike after strike on the ground until the referee showed mercy. 2 fights, 2 strikes absorbed, 2 finishes in 2 different weight classes. This kid is the real deal.

Alex Oliveira def Peter Sobotta via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A super sharp ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira delivered a masterclass of a performance as he defeated German Sobotta in this fight. Heavy body kicks made Sobotta’s mid-section tender and meant he dropped his hands low, allowing Oliveira to land straight right hands at will. Big uppercuts and body shots too but Sobotta isn’t giving it up. Pushing forward with shots and kicks, Oliveira is being dominant on the feet and piecing up Sobotta. Vicious elbows open up a cut on the top of the head, followed by cuts around the eye. Sobotta tries to push forward but can’t land anything significant enough to overturn this comfortable win.

Paul Craig def Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1 (2:06)

Craig storms out across the octagon to start fast and lands a nice body shot. Antigulov goes straight for the single leg takedown and secures it, although Craig didn’t fight it particularly hard. With Craig on his back he looks to lock up a triangle choke but is being very patient with it, while Antigulov starts throwing bombs. 3 big elbows land on Craig and open up a cut over his head, but he sinks the triangle choke in deeper and takes an arm too forcing a quick tap by the Russian. Beautifully done and mightily impressive by the Scotsman.

Carla Esparza def Mariana Rodriguez via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

A true war of attrition in this one as both ladies left it all in the octagon cage. Esparza opens up the round with a big takedown attempt and ends up on top, but Rodriguez attacks hard and fast from her back with slashing elbows. She opens up a huge cut on Esparza’s eye and it’s leaking onto her own face, as she’s still on the bottom of the grappling exchange. The second round is more of the same but with more damage from Rodriguez as she stuffs more takedowns and lands some nice right hands, ending the round with some ground and pound of her own when Esparza attempted a heel hook. In the third, Esparza got the fight down yet again and this time just was intent on keeping Rodriguez down and handing out some damage of her own rather than attempting submissions. The round ends and I have it scored 29-28 Esparza but could absolutely go either way.

Fabricio Werdum def Alexander Gustafsson via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (2:30)

Gustafsson comes out light on his feet likes he’s still a 205er and immediately Werdum goes for the takedown. Gustafsson fights against it and gets back to his feet but Werdum holds on to him from behind and secures the trip and back position. He works for the rear-naked choke but Gustafsson fights the hands so he transitions to an armbar. After a tussle for position, Werdum breaks the grip and extends the arm forcing Gustafsson to tap out. Crazy.

Mauricio Rua def Antonio Nogueira via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

What. A. Fight. Another war between these two legendary Brazilians. Both fighters were rocked during the first round as they exchanged left hooks in the pocket. A flat out war ensued, much like the previous two bouts, and once again Rua was victorious. Rua landed some takedowns to get ground and pound in but Nogueira also did the same thing at one point too. Big shots exchanged and a wonderful fight that rolled back the years, but it’s the same outcome as the previous two occasions too.

Robert Whittaker def Darren Till via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)

A high-level striking bout here as both men come out strong and committed to taking the centre of the octagon. After a nice exchange of shots, Whittaker rushes in for an overhand left and Till lands a stunning elbow perfectly on the chin that drops the Reaper! He goes for the ground and pound but Whittaker is able to get back to his feet and recover before the end of the round. In the second, it’s a role reversal. Till comes out aggressive and it’s Whittaker who lands a huge shot that drops Till this time. He ends up on top in half guard and lands some vicious elbows on the ground to cause some damage. The rest of the fight is incredibly strategic and technical, with neither fighter landing anything more significant throughout but plenty of feints and strikes thrown. Whittaker started mixing it up more with takedown attempts leading to hooks. His attack of Till’s lead leg has caused the Brit some big problems in the latter stages of this fight and into the final round he needs to land a finish. He throws another big elbow that lands on the side of the head and cuts Whittaker open bad, but the former champion goes straight for a takedown to see the fight out safely. Big win for Robert Whittaker that leaves Darren Till in limbo in the middleweight division.

UFC Fight Island: Whittaker vs Till – Main Card Predictions

As the UFC brings to an end the first edition of Fight Island, the middleweight division is hotting up. Former champion Robert Whittaker makes his return in his first bout since losing the belt as he takes on former welterweight title contender Darren Till in the main event.

Before that though, a stacked FIFTEEN fight card will see plenty of big fights and talented fighters enter the octagon. I’ll break down the main card here, and offer up my predictions for each fight.

Last time out for UFC Fight Island: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2, I correctly predicted 6/10 winners on the night with just one of those completely correct (winner, round, method). I expect to do much better this time around and hope to improve on that record.

You can see my predictions for the prelims of this card here.

Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) vs Rhys McKee (10-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

After a mesmerising debut just 10 days ago, Chimaev returns to the Octagon looking for his second win in his second weight division when he takes on Cage Warriors’ ‘Skeletor’. McKee is a solid striker with great jiu-jitsu and will definitely be able to put up more of a fight than John Phillips did. Chimaev though was so dominant against Phillips, a big middleweight, that it’s very hard to discount the size and strength difference. Chimaev has a rocket strapped to his back right now and another dominant win on Fight Island will only see his stock rise further.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Submission, Round 1

Alex Oliveira (21-8-1, 2NC) vs Peter Sobotta (17-6-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Another potential fight of the night contender here, as ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira looks to make it back-to-back wins in 2020 against the returning Sobotta. The German hasn’t fought since 2018, when he was well beaten by Leon Edwards. Both fighters are technical strikers, with Oliveira loving a hard kick, but also both are more than comfortable on the ground. Sobotta is a better grappler than striker and will want the fight on the ground if he can be in control there and he could go for a submission. If Oliveira ends up in control, we’ll see big ground and pound strikes that could potentially set up submissions. Overall, Sobotta’s inactivity is likely going to cost him here and Oliveira should be able to sneak a win.
PICK – Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision

Paul Craig (12-4-1) vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Two wild submission artists who both struggle against fighters with real, genuine quality, this is a weird fight. Craig drew his last fight against Shogun, which many think he won, but before that he had exchanged between wins and losses since 2017. Antigulov had been a finishing machine until recently, where he now lost his last two by knockout. Antigulov has struggled to get through the first round previously and if he does this time he’ll start to fade. But his game plan is constantly to go for the takedown and Craig is so confident on his back that he likes to pull guard so he may not have his cardio tested in the end. This is really a ‘pick-em’ fight where nothing would surprise me, I’d avoid betting on this one.
PICK – Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Decision

Carla Esparza (16-6) vs Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun women’s fight coming up where both have a severe disadvantage in the others comfort zone. Despite being only 5ft 1, Esparza loves to try and impose her wrestling game on her opponents while Rodriguez is a muay-thai fighter who throws vicious knees and elbows in the clinch. In both of Rodriguez’s draws she was ragdolled on the ground in 10-8 rounds and while Esparza isn’t as physically imposing as Calvillo she is good on the ground. If Esparza can get the takedown, Rodriguez will find it hard to get back up and will likely lose that round. I’m going to back Esparza to get enough takedowns and control enough on the floor to secure a decision win.
PICK – Carla Esparza via Unanimous Decision

Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1) vs Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Another weird fight on the card sees two all-time greats of the sport clash in the heavyweight division. Werdum has lost his last two, including being KO’d by Alexander Volkov while Gustafsson lost his last two by finish against Jon Jones and Anthony Smith. Werdum dominated on the ground against Oleinik in his last bout but was overwhelmed on the feet. If you’re going to get overwhelmed on the feet by Oleinik, then Gustafsson will probably murder you. If the fight hits the ground for whatever reason though, Werdum has a big advantage on the mat. Overall though, I think Gustafsson has too much of a striking advantage for Werdum and now that he’s at heavyweight he should have more power too.
PICK – Alexander Gustafsson via Knockout, Round 2

Mauricio Rua (26-11-1) vs Antonio Nogueira (23-9) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that should probably be happening in Brazil if it’s happening at all, but the trilogy bout has arrived between ‘Shogun’ and ‘Minotouro’. Rua won the previous two bouts via decision but now I’ll be shocked if this goes the distance. Rua is 38 and Nogueira is 44, both are likely to retire by the end of the year. This is a fight for the nostalgia and it should end up in the same result. Nogueira has pop at the end of his shots but is slow and laboured now, while Rua is 4-1-1 in his last 6 bouts. The gas tank is nearly empty for both and both have shown that their chins are not what quite what they used to be anymore in recent times. Noguiera hasn’t fought for over a year and at this age I expect that to make a massive difference. Rua will land clean and end this one early.
PICK – Mauricio Rua via Knockout, Round 1

Robert Whittaker (20-5) vs Darren Till (18-2-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The main event is a fight that everyone has been looking forward to and rightly so. A high level striking bout is almost certain to take place here and with five rounds on the clock should be a very fun one. Whittaker’s last fight was when he was destroyed by Israel Adesanya in their title fight, while Till’s last bout was an underwhelming win over Kelvin Gastelum in his middleweight debut. Whittaker has a wide stance and focuses a lot on kicks to maintain his distance, while Till uses his kickboxing background to stay out and then his footwork to steam in and land his big left hand. Whittaker seems to be very underrated because of the way he lost to Adesanya and it’s interesting to see for me. The Australian has powerful striking and excellent defence, something we saw against Yoel Romero. Till’s chin was touched by Woodley and Masvidal and if Whittaker lands in a similar fashion then the results could be the same. Whittaker himself has been prone to a big punch too recently though, as he was dropped 4 times in his last two fights. Till will pressure from the off but Whittaker is proven at this level and will be prepared for it. His pacing has been proven too since he’s done the five round haul many times. I think overall, Whittaker is just too well-rounded to fall into Till’s traps for his big left hand and while I think Till will land some big shots, Whittaker will do enough for the decision win.
PICK – Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision