We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Mayra Bueno Silva (8-2-1) vs Stephanie Egger (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An interesting women’s bantamweight fight to kick off the card. Silva got back in the win column last time out with a decision victory over Yanan Wu back in April, while Egger has won her last two with a TKO win over Shanna Young before an armbar submission win over Jessica-Rose Clark last time out.
Silva is a solid grappler with great jiu-jitsu skills, but she tends to choose to strike in her fights and comes forward with good pressure and boxing combinations. Egger on the other hand is a stand-out judoka who is excellent with her throws, but also uses her range and stance to land strikes from range if needed. Neither of these girls are particularly known for their power, but it could be a real slug fest on the feet to kick off the event.
Egger will no doubt look to keep Silva at distance or take her down for her top control if she gets within range, but Silva is a newly-awarded brown belt in jiu-jitsu and will be confident of keeping the fight where she wants it. Expect her to march forward and land good combinations and make it an uncomfortable night for Egger to claim a decision win. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Decision
Cory McKenna (6-2) vs Miranda Granger (7-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Another fun women’s fight up next in the strawweight division this time. McKenna suffered defeat in her last bout, dropping a split decision to Elise Reed to snap a four-fight win streak. Granger meanwhile has lost her last two coming into this, getting submitted by Amanda Lemos before dropping a decision to Ashley Yoder at UFC Vegas 14. This is her first fight since November 2020.
McKenna and Granger are pretty green despite their records, but stylistically they couldn’t be more opposite. McKenna is a wrestler at heart with solid takedowns and pretty tame striking, while Granger is a lengthy striker with a good clinch game but woeful takedown defence. This is simply about whether or not Granger has improved that enough to stop McKenna dumping her on the mat over and over again.
If she has been able to improve and do that, then she should be able to keep range and piece McKenna up with straight shots and kicks. If not, then she’ll get ground out by an undersized fighter for 15 minutes with little answer. My expectation is the latter takes place in a less than memorable fight. PICK – Cory McKenna via Decision
Jason Witt (19-8) vs Josh Quinlan (5-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big time fire-fight in the welterweight division up next. Witt has lost two of his last three via KO, getting stopped in 16 seconds by Matthew Semelsberger at UFC Vegas 21 and then by Phillip Rowe in February. He earned a majority decision win over Bryan Barbarena in between those fights. Quinlan is an undefeated fighter who has finished all his wins, including a 47 second KO on the Contender Series last time out that got switched to a no contest for a positive drug test.
Witt is a strong wrestler who has good takedowns and solid top control, but has a leaky chin and has been KO’d six times in his professional career to date. Quinlan is a power puncher with excellent Muay Thai skills, but has shown a difficulty in fighting when being pressured backwards in the past. That said though, this looks set up for a Quinlan victory.
“The Renegade” is powerful, fast, strong and accurate which will be way too much for Witt. Quinlan is capable of being taken down, but he’s also more than capable of getting back to his feet and any extended sequence of striking will likely end with Witt staring up at the lights. Expect a statement win from the newcomer with a violent combination. PICK – Josh Quinlan via Knockout, Round 1
Mounir Lazzez (10-2) vs Ange Loosa (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Short-notice welterweight banger opens up this main card. Lazzez was on a three-fight win streak before coming up against Warrley Alves at UFC Vegas 46, getting KO’d in the first-round. Loosa on the other hand makes his UFC debut with a win over John Howard just two weeks ago earning him a spot following defeat on Dana White’s Contender Series.
Lazzez is an excellent kickboxer who showed great nous in the clinch too in his debut win, and he showed great composure against the big power of Alves before getting caught. Loosa is a talented fighter too, with a granite chin allowing him to walk forward and look to harm his opponents as much as possible. He also has decent takedowns, while his scrambling off the mat is brilliant too.
Lazzez has a speed advantage in this fight, but it’s due to be exciting because Loosa won’t be going anywhere and will force this fight to be at a good pace for the entire 15 minutes. He has the experience and the skill to win, but I’m getting a gut feeling that Loosa will be able to do something special here and ensure he’s in the UFC to stay. PICK – Ange Loosa via Decision
Pat Sabatini (16-3) vs TJ Laramie (12-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight bout in this one. Sabatini is on an excellent five-fight win streak right now, including a submission of Jamall Emmers at UFC Vegas 35 and a decision win over Tucker Lutz last time out. Laramie on the other hand saw a four-fight win streak snapped by Darrick Minner at UFC Vegas 11 last time out, getting choked out in just 52 seconds.
Sabatini is an absolute wizard on the mat, with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and some improved kickboxing in recent years. Laramie is also a bit of a ground wizard in his own right, but the power in his hands and boxing is his avenue to victory in this one here. Sabatini has some top wrestling, where he chains together his takedowns and holds position before he works for submissions.
Sabatini has the advantage when it comes to the wrestling and grappling, which means he can dictate where this fight goes. Add to that the lengthy spell off that Laramie has had, I’d expect Sabatini to claim a win. He’s good enough to get a submission, but Laramie is very good too and should be able to see him off to go the distance at least. PICK – Pat Sabatini via Decision
Mayra Bueno Silva (7-2-1) vs Wu Yanan (11-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Women’s bantamweights back in the limelight for this one. Silva is 1-1-1 in her last three, submitting Mara Romero Borrella, before a majority draw against Montana De La Rosa and then defeat last time out to the brilliant Manon Fiorot. Yanan has lost her last two fights, with a unanimous decision loss to Joselyne Edwards at UFC Fight Island 7 over a year ago in her last bout.
Silva is a jiu-jitsu specialist with a nasty armbar that she often goes to, whether she’s in top position or working from her guard. Her kickboxing and wrestling are greatly improved over recent years too, although they still have plenty of work to be done. Yanan is a striker with great volume and good hand speed, but she really lacks in power and her defensive wrestling leaves plenty to be desired.
Yanan has a chance of victory by sprawling and brawling with one-two’s down the middle and stuffing the takedowns of Silva, but it seems unlikely judging off previous outings. Neither fighter is particularly big for the division, both previously fighting at flyweight, so expect Silva to be able to get the fight down eventually and pull off another of her trademark armbar finishes. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Submission, Round 1
Miguel Baeza (10-2) vs Andre Fialho (14-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A banger at welterweight between two very exciting 170-pounders. Baeza has lost his last two fights, dropping a decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio before getting knocked out by Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 42 in an incredible fight. Fialho was well beaten in a short-notice UFC debut back at UFC 270, dropping a decision to Michel Pereira.
Baeza is an absolutely brilliant striker, with excellent power and crisp technique adding to his ability to turn anyone’s lights out with a single punch or kick. Fialho on the other hand is a steady Muay-Thai fighter who pushes a steady pace throughout and proved to have a pretty decent chin, although he did lack speed or explosiveness. That leads me to believe Baeza will get back in the win column.
The Brazilian has got a ferocious low kick, decent grappling and some beautiful counter striking in his arsenal. As the fight goes on and Fialho takes more damage, there is more chance of Baeza landing big and closing the show so back a finish in this one. PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2
Caio Borralho (10-1) vs Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very peculiar co-main event in this one between two fighters making their UFC debuts after victory on Dana White’s Contender Series in their most recent bouts. Borralho has won seven in a row coming into this, while Omargadzhiev is an undefeated prospect.
Borralho is a black belt in jiu-jitsu but is also a solid striker, with some good karate stance kicks and some good power in his hands. Omargadzhiev on the other hand is a powerful wrestler with an excellent top game, and some steady attacks on the feet. This is a real 50-50 fight wherever the fight goes and it will be really interesting to see who has the advantages on the ground, because that’s likely where this fight will go in an ideal world for both guys.
With that said, Borralho seems to be the better guy defensively. He has good submissions defensively, is the better striker on the feet and he seems to be the physically stronger guy. This is a close fight, but I’m leaning towards the Brazilian to hand the Russian the first defeat of his career. PICK – Caio Barralho via Decision
Vicente Luque (21-7-1) vs Belal Muhammad (20-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The fight of the night is the main event and this should be great fun. Luque has won his last four fights in a row earning stoppages against Niko Price, Randy Brown (UFC Vegas 5), Tyron Woodley (UFC 260) and Michael Chiesa (UFC 265) most recently. Muhammad on the other hand has is unbeaten in his last seven, with a no contest against Leon Edwards stopping his streak. He has beaten Demian Maia (UFC 263) and Stephen Thompson (UFC Vegas 45) in his most recent fights.
Luque is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, with incredible boxing and some stunning jiu-jitsu skills mixed in with crazy intensity and cardio skills. Muhammad on the other hand is a solid kickboxer with brilliant wrestling skills and excellent cardio too, but he does lack knockout power from his arsenal. Muhammad is in a great vein of form in his career, mixing everything together to be able to really shut down his opponents’ offense. But Luque has so many weapons that I find it hard to see how he’ll be able to do that here.
The Brazilian pushes an unbelievable pace with superb power and technique, but he also has an excellent submission threat in scrambles and from his back too. For me, this is Muhammad’s peak level. I don’t see him getting into the title picture because the guys above him just have more to their game, whereas Luque has game-changing skills that can turn a fight on it’s head. I expect Luque to be tested, but I think he’ll be able to continue his run of finishes to push himself into the top five. PICK – Vicente Luque via Knockout, Round 3
The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas once again for yet another fight night card, this time headlined by female featherweight Norma Dumont and short-notice replacement Aspen Ladd.
Ladd was pulled from UFC Vegas 38 just two weeks ago after missing the bantamweight limit by one pound, scrapping her fight with Macy Chiasson. But after Holly Holm pulled out of this card with an injury, the UFC called her in up a weight class to fill in for this main event.
Elsewhere on the card the legendary Jim Miller makes a return while two Contender Series alum in Jordan Wright and Julian Marquez meet in a fun middleweight scrap.
Last week at UFC Vegas 39, we went 6/9 with three perfect picks on a rather forgettable card to move us up to 434/679 (63.92%) with 187 perfect picks (43.09%) since June 2020.
Julian Marquez (9-2) vs Jordan Wright (12-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Potential fight of the night in this one in the middleweight division between two guys with a 100% finish rate in their careers. Marquez earned a submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 before another submission win over Sam Alvey at UFC Vegas 23. Wright on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Joaquin Buckley at UFC 255 to earn a brilliant first-round win over Jamie Pickett most recently at UFC 262.
Marquez is a very good all-round fighter but he doesn’t seem to excel in any particular path. He’s got good power, very good cardio, decent grappling skills and an ability to go with the flow in each bout. Wright on the other hand is a terrific striker, with explosive power and solid kicks in his arsenal.
This fight will either be incredible explosive with a big finish, or both fighters will be wary of their opponent’s power and scoot around the outside like Thiago Santos vs Johnny Walker did. Either way, I think Marquez has the edge and Wright has been finished before so I lean with ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’. PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 2
Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun flyweight bout up next on the main card as the highly rated Manon Fiorot returns to take on Mayra Bueno Silva. Fiorot is udnefeated in the UFC and on a seven-fight win streak with KO’s over Victoria Leonardo at UFC Fight Island 8 and Tabatha Ricci at UFC Vegas 28. Silva is 1-1-1 in her last three, with a submission win over Mara Romero Borella before a draw last time out against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Vegas 20.
Fiorot is a brilliant kickboxer with supreme technical quality and plenty of power in her striking, while Silva is an excellent grappler with five submission wins in her career so far. Fiorot’s ground game is relatively untested in the UFC up to this point and Silva is sure to change that statement. The issue she has however is that her takedown game is non-existent. If Silva gets the fight to the ground, she has a huge edge but she’s never had a successful takedown in her UFC career.
If she can overpower Fiorot down to the ground though, she has a real chance to secure the upset. With that said though, Fiorot has a massive edge on the feet and has the technical ability to pick her apart with combinations at range and finish the fight with elbows and knees if she gets into clinches. PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 3
Jim Miller (32-16) vs Erick Gonzalez (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting lightweight out between the grappling expert Miller as he takes on short-notice debutant Gonzalez at 155lbs. Miller has lost three of his last four, dropping decisions to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252 and Joe Solecki at UFC Vegas 23 most recently. Gonzalez is on a two-fight win streak and steps in on two-weeks notice.
Miller is a submission wizard, with 18 wins via tap-out throughout his career but he also has some decent striking to mix in with it too. Gonzalez on the other hand is a striking heavy fighter, with good technical boxing ability and some decent kicks to go with his combinations too. It’s a real clash of styles fight in this one and is also a big void in experience too.
On the ground Miller has the advantage, but Gonzalez is very good at pushing forward with blitzes and his takedown defence is decent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either guy get their hand raised at the end of this one, but the experience and grappling of Miller should see him earn a submission win. PICK – Jim Miller via Submission, Round 3
Andrei Arlovski (31-20) vs Carlos Felipe (11-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight bout between the past and potential future of the division. Arlovski is a former world champion who was submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19, before bouncing back with a decision win over Chase Sherman at UFC Vegas 24. Felipe is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC, defeating all of Yorgan De Castro, Justin Tafa and Jake Collier by decision at UFC 263 most recently.
Arlovski is a well-rounded striker, with good boxing and some decent wrestling in his back pocket too to try and keep fights standing. Felipe on the other hand is a cardio heavy fighter who uses volume and low kicks to secure wins. Neither of these fighters are the most powerful of strikers, but at heavyweight everyone hits hard. This will likely be stand-up affair and Felipe is deceptively quick with his hands so could catch him with a big strike.
Despite that possibility though, this fight is almost sure to go the distance. Neither guy really goes for the finish too much and Arlovski isn’t fighting like a 42-year-old. But his level has dropped from where he once was and Felipe is always improving, so I think he claims the win. PICK – Carlos Felipe via Decision
Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs Norma Dumont (6-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very weird fight in the main event at featherweight here that was put together on short-notice. Aspen Ladd is moving up to featherweight after missing weight at bantamweight just two weeks ago to step in for the injury Holly Holm to face Dumont. Ladd hasn’t fought since 2019 after tearing her MCL and ACL. Dumont on the other hand has two wins in a row with decisions over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Felicia Spencer.
Ladd is a great wrestler with some excellent control and ground and pound in her arsenal, while Dumont is a very good striker with good speed and power. Ladd is very good at getting the fight down to the ground from the inside and then she just has this ability to hold her opponent in place to unleash some nasty ground strikes, leading to six KO career wins so far.
Dumont’s takedown defence isn’t amazing but on the feet she has the speed to keep range. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the power to put Ladd off coming forward to close the distance and get the takedowns needed. Once there, it’s just about how long Dumont can survive. Sucks to be her, but I don’t think it’ll be that long. PICK – Aspen Ladd via Knockout, Round 3
Angela Hill vs Ashley Yoder was cancelled on the day of the event due to a positive COVID-19 test from one of Yoder’s cornermen. The fight has been rescheduled for UFC Vegas 21, on March 13th.
The card will proceed with nine fights.
Dustin Jacoby def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Pretty steady start to the fight from both fighters as both men meet in the middle and trade calf kicks. A few attempts that miss from both guys before Grishin looks for a shot and takedown. Jacoby avoids it then as he steps forward Grishin lands a nice straight right that drops Jacoby. Grishin lands a big strike onto him on the ground then looks to take the back but Jacoby defends well and gets back up to his feet relatively unscathed. Heavy calf kick from Grishin lands before Jacoby just misses with a mean overhand right. Jacoby lands a nice head kick but Grishin walked through it and lands a big leg kick in return. Grishin lands a big punch after catching a kick and drops Jacoby again and ends the round on his back looking for a rear naked choke. 10-9 Grishin.
Jacoby with a better start to this round, landing some nice calf kicks and his jab well too, as Grishin fakes a few level changes and looks for some counter strikes. Jacoby circling on the outside against the cage, with Grishin looking to cut him off with good footwork and some nice hooks. Nice jab from Jacoby and then a clean left hook lands as Grishin starting to slow down a little. Grishin looks to clinch up but Jacoby lands a huge right hook that pushes Grishin onto his back foot. Lazy shot from the Russian is easily stuffed by Jacoby and he looks to be in the ascendancy as the round comes to a close. 19-19 going into the third.
Grishin doing well in this third round by taking the centre and landing the left hand well. Grishin throws a nice leg kick that takes Jacoby off balance but he bounces up quickly again. Grishin throws another leg kick but Jacoby checks it and sends Grishin off balance. Jacoby throws a flying knee that partially lands, but Grishin grabs hold of him and tries to tie him up on the cage, switching positions and landing a nice combo. Final minute of the round and it’s still up for grabs but Jacoby’s leg attacks are stacking up. Grishin now avoiding the leg attacks and lands a nice combo against the cage to end the round. Really close, but I lean towards Grishin for that final round. 29-28 Grishin.
Ronnie Lawrence def Vince Cachero via Knockout, Round 3 (2:38)
Lots of fast movements from both fighters in the opening minute of the fight, with Lawrence bouncing around on the outside and throwing leg kicks and spinning body kicks, while Cachero looks to land shots as he comes in. Lawrence finally shoots and gets the takedown immediately, but after some scrambles Cachero manages to get back to the feet. Lawrence continues to strike well on the feet with Cachero still looking for counter strikes, landing a big right hand before another takedown attempt. Lawrence gets into top position and avoids a triangle attempt from Cachero and ends the round in a dominant position. 10-9 Lawrence.
More of the same in the second round as Lawrence comes out really aggressive with kicks and body work. Cachero looks to be a step behind on the feet and Lawrence is so busy too, constantly touching him or moving. Takedown from Lawrence again and he holds the position well this time on top and passes into side control. Lawrence looks for the neck and Cachero gets back up to his feet, then Lawrence takes him down again but Cachero grabs the neck and goes for a guillotine. He transitions to a d’arce choke attempt but Lawrence defends it perfectly, stands up and then takes the fight down once again. He looks for a head and arm choke from three-quarter mount but Cachero defends well until the round ends. 20-18 Lawrence.
Both fighters meet in the middle and Lawrence throws a spinning body kick again. Nice leg kick lands and drops Cachero and Lawrence goes straight for a finish. Lots of short ground and pound strikes before a German suplex slams Cachero down again. Lawrence maintains control on the top and starts landing ground and pound and looks to take the back. Cachero defends well but Lawrence ends up back on top and is throwing big ground and pound strikes from mount now. So many strikes from Lawrence as Cachero keeps trying to move but Lawrence is relentless and gets the stoppage win. What a performance.
Alexis Davis def Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Fast start to the fight as both women open up with big combo exchanges, with Mazo landing hard and heavy early on. Mazo throws a body kick as Davis throws a leg kick which drops Mazo, and Davis drops down to make it a grappling match quickly. Davis passes into side control relatively quickly and Mazo tries to explode up, but Davis holds on and takes her back. Both hooks in and she rolls away from the cage and as she hunts for a rear-naked choke Mazo tries to reverse the position but Davis holds it and ends the round landing shots while having back control. 10-9 Davis but Mazo was dominant on the feet early on, so will have confidence.
Davis comes out aggressive in the second with lots of peppering leg kicks and marching forward, but Mazo is staying calm and throwing shots back herself. Lots of jabs and straights from Mazo landing clean on Davis, but the leg kicks are persistent and causing lots of damage to Mazo right now. The Colombian Queen continues to come forward with her jab but Davis’s leg kicks are so relentless. Final 30 seconds of the round and Davis shoots for the takedown and gets it and ends the round on top. Close round, but probably Davis’. 20-18.
Final round and Mazo throws a body kick that gets caught and she gets sent back to the ground almost immediately. Mazo looks for a heel hook to threaten but Davis defends it well and gets back on top with ground and pound before taking her back early on in the round. Mazo looks to reverse into her guard but Davis looks fresher and stronger and pops back onto the top. More ground and pound from Davis and Mazo looks for an armbar but it’s defended well and she’s able to take the back once again. Final minute and she’s hunting for a finish but Mazo defending honourably and manages to see the round out. 30-27 Davis, very good performance from the veteran.
Thiago Moises def Alexander Hernandez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Fun start to the round with both guys pushing forward and throwing heavy strikes together. Hernandez taking the centre of the cage and forcing Moises to circle along the cage, with the Brazilian throwing lots of heavy calf kicks. Hernandez lands a nice body kick and is throwing good shots to the head and body. Moises lands a nice right hand on Hernandez and then Hernandez fires back with a body kick that clips the top of the cup and causes a pause in the action. Both fighters meet in the middle once the action resumes and the both miss wild overhand rights at the same time. Moises lands a heavy right hand that cracks Hernandez and he pushes forward for a finish, but misses everything and the round ends. Close, but I edge it to Moises. 10-9.
Hernandez opens the round with a right hand that misses and Moises lands a beautiful counter strike of his own. Hernandez is trying to be first a lot the time and Moises seems content with that and counters back perfectly almost every time. Spinning back kick from Moises is partially blocked but does some damage, before a nice left hand stuns Hernandez. Moises’ striking defence has been stellar so far and the round ends with Moises coming forward with big swings but Hernandez avoiding them and landing a nice counter of his own. 20-18 but again, close round.
Moises comes out hard early in the final round and lands some nice right hands. Hernandez still in this as Moises shoots for a takedown but Hernandez stuffs it and lands some nice punches as Moises holds his foot before they separate. Moises throws a few head kick attempts that narrowly miss as they continue to swing and miss on each other. Big head kick from Moises lands and he starts talking to Hernandez while walking him down and throwing big strikes and kicks. Hernandez stays composed but doesn’t land anything significant as the round ends. 30-27 Moises for me.
Alex Caceres def Kevin Croom via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
Croom comes out hard early on with some heavy swings but Caceres stays composed, avoids them and lands some nice kicks to the legs and body. Croom comes forward though and is looking to make it a dirty fight, clinching up and trying to grind him down. Caceres gets double underhooks and looks for some knees but Croom escapes well and continues to press against the cage for a trip. Croom finally manages to get the fight down by dragging Caceres from his back, but he ends up on the bottom and eats some big ground and pound shots. He gets back to the feet and tries the same takedown again to end the round. 10-9 Caceres.
Croom comes out looking for a takedown early once again, but Caceres defends it really well once again. Croom goes in for another shot and eats a beautiful check right-hook that stuns him, but he continues to come forward again. Another takedown attempt and Caceres starting to feel it so Croom finally gets him down. He lands a nice elbow but then Caceres throws up a triangle and it looks tight. He picks the ankle too and tries to tighten it and as it looks like no way out for Croom, he then inexcusably just lets it go!? They battle for position for the remainder of the round but that is probably a Croom round. 19-19.
Final round and Caceres lands some huge counter strikes that wobble Croom! He keeps walking forward and is throwing some really lazy takedown attempt, clearly is absolutely exhausted. Caceres is defending the takedown attempts with ease and landing some nice strikes and eventually Caceres is the one who gets the takedown. He takes the back and wraps in a body triangle and starts throwing some ground and pound, before looking to sink in a rear naked choke. More ground and pound strikes from Caceres as he takes the round, potentially a 10-8, and the victory.
Pedro Munhoz def Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Crazy start to this one as Munhoz rushes out and goes for a high kick that gets countered and he ends up on his face. Both men stand in the pocket and trade big hooks and crosses each, with Rivera landing the heavier shots. Munhoz throwing some heavy calf kicks to the lead leg, while Rivera is countering with huge hooks that are landing flush. Rivera starting to return the leg kicks now too as Munhoz is wearing the damage more on his face. Munhoz lands two big calf kicks and drops Rivera both times! Rivera responds with a nice one two but his leg is in bits as the round ends. 10-9 Rivera.
Munhoz goes for another leg kick but Rivera moves and counters with a straight right hand and then charges forward to get the fight down to the ground. Munhoz instantly goes for a leg lock but Rivera rolls through into a 50/50 position and both fighters let go and stand back up. Rivera lands three big shots in a row but Munhoz fires a nasty leg kick in the middle of it that drops him to one knee again. Rivera throwing a few kicks of his own and then they both exchange big left hooks that land simultaneously. Munhoz lands another kick that drops Rivera and denies a takedown attempt from Rivera too. A wild exchange in the centre ends the round and it’s a Munhoz one. 19-19.
Final round and it’s all to fight for, so Rivera comes storming out and starts throwing big hooks and straights that land clean. Munhoz continues to throw the leg kicks and then throws one up to the head too. Rivera still throwing big punches but Munhoz showing that chin that has seen him never get stopped. Two accidental low blows from Munhoz cause short breaks but they go again. Final minute and Rivera lands two huge left hands and Munhoz is wobbled. He catches the leg kick and throws some big strikes and has Munhoz backing up but it’s not enough for the knockout and it’ll go to a decision. 29-28 Munhoz.
Montana De La Rosa vs Mayra Bueno Silva – Majority Draw (27-28, 28-28 x2)
Fast start from De La Rosa as she comes out and lands a couple of nice punches square to the face of Silva early on. Silva looks for a Thai clinch on a couple of occasions but De La Rosa is able to get the underhooks and push her against the cage. She gets the takedown nicely and Silva is able to get back up, but De La Rosa tries to put her back down immediately and is denied only by a fence grab. The referee stops the fight and deducts a point from Silva because it prevented a takedown. They go again and Silva lands more excellent knees while De La Rosa’s right hand is connecting well too. Great round, 10-8 De La Rosa.
Second round starts quickly again and Silva lands a big head kick that rocks De La Rosa! She’s throwing with some real venom and forces De La Rosa to shoot for a takedown, but Silva defends it well and ends up on top. Some big ground and pound from the Brazilian but De La Rosa gets back up to the feet well and recovers. Nice takedown attempt from De La Rosa and she eventually is able to dump her down and control from top position. Lots of ground and pound strikes and ends the round looking for a head and arm choke. Very close round, but 20-17 for me.
Silva opens the round once again with a Thai clinch and a head kick attempt that just misses. Silva throws a nice left hand that lands but De La Rosa closes the distance well and they tie up against the cage. De La Rosa looks for a takedown against the cage and Silva starts throwing elbows and punches, which busts up the nose of De La Rosa. She gets her up against the cage and goes for a single leg but instead of taking her down just holds against the cage and tries to beat her up. Into the final minute and De La Rosa gets the takedown and ends the round on top landing ground and pound for what should be a decision win.
Magomed Ankalaev def Nikita Krylov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A tentative start to this one as Krylov closes the distance early and immediately goes for a takedown, not looking to trade on the feet too much. He gets him against the cage and eventually drags him to the ground, isolating the leg and trying to hold him down. Ankalaev is able to get up to his feet and they separate, which allows Ankalaev to start throwing some strikes. Nothing significant from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Ankalaev shoots for a takedown but Krylov is able to stay on the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Krylov, just.
Wild start to the round as Ankalaev comes out and looks to land some big shots early on. Krylov circling on the outside with his back to the cage, as Ankalaev circling and taking the centre cutting him off. Nice left hook from Ankalaev lands but Krylov responds with a right cross of his own. Takedown attempt from Krylov denied and then Ankalaev gets a clinch and lands a big knee up the middle. Krylov goes for a spinning attack but Ankalaev reads it and gets a takedown off it and ends up in top position. Krylov defending well from the bottom in his butterfly guard, so Ankalaev pops up and forces the issue to get Krylov on his back and lands a couple of elbows before the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Body kick from Krylov opens up the round but Ankalaev continues to march forward. Krylov goes for a takedown but it’s shrugged off and seconds late it’s Ankalaev who shoots against the cage. Nice inside trip gets the fight down and he’s looking to land some ground and pound, but Krylov is able to get back upright. Ankalaev holds on to him and eventually trips him back down against the cage and starts throwing some ground and pound. Complete control from top position by Ankalaev for the remainder of the round and that should be enough to get him a victory. 29-28 Ankalaev.
Ciryl Gane def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
Very slow start to the fight as both mean stand in the centre and just kind of stare each other out for the first two minutes. Gane flicks out a lovely jab and avoids a wild swing from Rozenstruik but other than that not much action so far as we hit the halfway point of the round. Gane throws a lazy body kick that Rozenstruik catches and then he throws a combo, of which one punch lands. Gane throws a better body kick and then changes levels to go in for a takedown against the cage. Rozenstruik defends and then goes for some elbows, which allows Gane to get the takedown to end the round. 10-9 Gane.
More of the same from both fighters in the second round as Gane throws the snappy jab and some body kicks, while Rozenstruik is just waiting for the right moment to throw a big counter strike. A couple more jabs and Rozenstruik steps forward to start an attack and Gane changes levels quickly and turns him against the cage. Gane then throws Rozenstruik to the ground and jumps to take the back for a choke, but Rozenstruik escapes quickly. Rozenstruik catches a kick and walks him backwards but doesn’t throw anything and allows Gange off the hook and the second round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Gane starting to loosen up a bit in this round with a nice head kick early on that brings a smile from both competitors. More jabs and some leg kicks too from Gane, while Rozenstruik is still very flat and throwing next to nothing. Big swing from both men lands simultaneously but they both continue to stand tall. More jabs from Gane to the chin and body, before a nice on-two followed by a leg kick lands too. Jab and leg kick combo from Rozenstruik lands nicely and he ends the round landing a big right hook that Gane eats and goes for a single leg as the buzzer goes. 30-27 Gane, light work right now.
Gane continues from the outside with the jab and fighting at a really easy pace, with Rozenstruik essentially refusing to throw at this point. Gane on the front foot and landing lots of leg kicks and jabs, but just really untroubled. Gane goes to close the distance against the cage and throws a knee that glances the cup and causes a pause in the action. Nice jab from Gane followed with a big left hook lands clean as he sees out the round with ease. 40-36, this isn’t a good fight at all.
Final round and Gane continues with what he’s been doing for the past 20 minutes – jabs and leg kicks. Rozenstruik still seemingly forgetting he’s allowed to hit Gane back, as Gane closes the distance and clinches up against the cage. Both men throw some light knees before they separate and get straight back to the pattern of the fight so far. Rozenstruik throws a left hand and Gane overpowers him back to the cage and clinches up as we enter the final 90 seconds. Gane uses his strength again and takes the back of Rozenstruik before dragging him down momentarily and the fight ends against the cage. 50-45 Gane, bleh.
Last week we went 6/12 for predictions with just two perfect picks, taking us to 236/371 (63.61%) with 106 (44.92%) perfect picks since starting in June 2020. We’ll look to improve that this weekend with a fun 12 fight card and having already started with the prelim fights, we’ll preview the main card here.
Alex Caceres (17-12 1NC) vs Kevin Croom (21-12 1NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Caceres is an exciting fighter, who throws lots of spinning attacks and can fight from either stance while Croom is very much a kill-or-be-killed style fighter. Caceres is the better martial artist of the two, with better footwork, a better jab and better kicks but Croom has the power advantage and is more likely to get a finish. Despite that, I think Caceres is able to outlast Croom for the full 15 minutes but more likely is that Croom lands the more telling shots throughout and gets a finish. PICK – Kevin Croom via Knockout, Round 2
Angela Hill (12-9) vs Ashley Yoder (8-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Despite their close fight the first time around, I can’t see this one being as competitive. Hill is the better striker by a distance and has improved her ground game to a point where she can stuff the takedowns of some of the better wrestlers in the division and fight off her back and get back to her feet well. Yoder will try to get this fight to the ground to add to her four submission wins, but Hill is just too advanced now and should get a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Angela Hill via Decision
Pedro Munhoz (18-5) vs Jimmie Rivera (23-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Probably the highest level fight on the card as Munhoz and Rivera meet in a rematch from back in 2015. Rivera won that one via split decision and has since gone on to have a great run in the UFC although he has lost three of his last five but won against Cody Stamann last time out. Munhoz has lost two in a row too, losing to Aljamain Sterling and Frankie Edgar most recently back in August.
Munhoz is a fantastic wrestler and has great power in his hands, similar to Gilbert Burns in the way that he’ll march forward and throw knowing he can grapple. Rivera is the more polished and better striker though and he has fantastic takedown defence too. If Munhoz can get the fight down then he should be able to ride out to a comfortable decision from top control, but the chances of him getting the takedown are slim. Rivera is incredibly experienced and has such an edge on the feet, plus a win over Munhoz already, that I think we see a repeat here. PICK – Jimmie Rivera via Decision
Montana De La Rosa (11-6) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight clash between two unranked fighters looking to make their way into the top 15. De La Rosa got beaten by Andrea Lee back in 2019 before getting a win over Mara Romero Borella and then suffering a loss last time out to Viviane Araujo in September. Silva on the other hand lost her first fight of 2020 to Maryna Moroz before bouncing back with an impressive submission win over Romero Borella in September.
Both these women are impressive grapplers, with 13 submission wins combined in their careers. Silva has some decent boxing behind her too, coming out of the same camp that a certain Charles Oliveira trains at. Neither fighter will be keen to go to the ground with the other because of the submission threat, which means the striking becomes key. Silva has that advantage and she’s arguably got the better jiu-jitsu too, although De La Rosa has the better wrestling. It’s not the most confident pick, but Silva gets a decision win for me. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Decision
Nikita Krylov (27-7) vs Magomed Ankalaev (14-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A very, very fun fight at light heavyweight as Nikita Krylov steps into the octagon to take on Magomed Ankalaev. Krylov is only 28-years-old but has 34 professional fights to his name, alternating wins and losses in his last five going back to 2018. Ankalaev was literally one second away from a perfect 15-0 record, but was submitted at 4:59 of round three against Paul Craig back in 2018. He won his last two fights by knockout against Ion Cutelaba, with serious power in the rematch after a controversial first fight.
Krylov is a sensational grappler with good power in his hands, while Ankalaev is a fantastic striker with excellent takedown defence. Ankalaev’s footwork is high level, while he loves to throw a head kick in the same way Krylov does. It’s a really exciting match up that is evenly matched for the most part. Krylov has the edge on the ground but whether he can get it there is questionable, while on the feet Ankalaev has the edge but Krylov isn’t completely outclassed there.
It should be highly competitive but with Ankalaev’s power advantage on the feet, I think the Russian can get it done. PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 3
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) vs Ciryl Gane (7-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The blueprint to beat Rozenstruik is there, despite the fact he got the win, from the fight against Alistair Overeem. He has unbelievable power as he showed to win that Overeem fight, but a top kickboxer is able to keep distance and land big on him. Gane has the ability to do all that, but also can take the fight to the mat and bust out some of his excellent submission skills too. Gane doesn’t have Ngannou power, but he does train with him on a regular basis and they will be perfectly prepared for Rozenstruik’s style.
While I wouldn’t be shocked to see Rozenstruik land a killer shot that puts Gane away because his power is that insane, I think Gane is the more well rounded martial artist, has the speed and footwork advantage and I think he gets a huge win to break into the top five. PICK – Ciryl Gane via Decision
A not-so stacked card last weekend is followed up this weekend by one of the most stacked Fight Night cards in recent memory as Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally meet in a grudge match in the main event.
The card will also see the likes of Donald Cerrone, Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland and Mackenzie Dern on the main card, but the undercard isn’t short of names either. With a HUGE 14 fights scheduled for this weekend ahead of the UFC’s second trip to Fight Island, I will break down each fight and give my predictions.
Last weekend was my worst showing for picks so far, as I ended with just 6/12 and only 1 perfect pick (winner, method, round).
With EIGHT prelim fights scheduled at the time of writing, I’m splitting this card into three rather than the usual two. I have already predicted the early prelims of the card here. I will do the rest of the preliminary card here and try to improve on my poor showing last week.
Jessica-Rose Clark (9-6) vs Sarah Alpar (9-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
This is one of those fights that is going likely be pretty one-sided, but which side depends entirely on who can assert themselves first. Sarah Alpar makes her UFC debut 13 months after her win on Dana White’s Contender Series, after three consecutive wins. Jessica-Rose Clark is most known for her decision win over Paige VanZant back in January 2018 but she has lost two in a row since then including to Jessica Eye and most recently Pannie Kianzad in November of last year. Alpar is an aggressive grappler with an excellent top game who hasn’t got the greatest hands in women’s MMA while Clark is more of a striker who is uncomfortable on the ground. The big question in this fight, is can Alpar get the takedown or will Clark’s defence stand-up in the bantamweight division. The expectation is Alpar will eventually get the takedown and she’ll be able to keep it there and control the fight there for a decision win. PICK – Sarah Alpar via Unanimous Decision
Jordan Espinosa (15-7) vs David Dvorak (18-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
One of the closest fights on the card here as two ranked flyweights clash in the octagon looking to work their way up. Espinosa has lost two of his last three fights, both by submission, but got the win last time out against Mark De La Rosa back in June. Dvorak is on a 14 fight win streak, with his UFC debut coming in his last bout with a win over Bruno Silva despite being knocked down early on. Espinosa is a top wrestler who knows how to use his hands to a competent enough level to set up takedowns, but Dvorak has excellent takedown defence and is nasty counter-striker. He also has the submission skills to punish Espinosa should he lazy with any takedowns, as he was against Alex Perez. Should Dvorak push the pace as he usually does, he will test the cardio of Espinosa and has the power to finish the fight late on if the conditioning becomes an issue. PICK – Dvid Dvorak via Unanimous Decision
Mayra Bueno Silva (5-1) vs Mara Romero Borella (11-8 3NC) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting bout in the women’s flyweight division here. Silva’s record is fresh and she’s only 29, but she’s coming off her first professional defeat after winning by submission on Dana White’s Contender Series and then in her UFC debut against Gillian Robertson. Borella on the other hand has lost four of her last five including her last three in a row. Silva is a volume striker on the feet and has great submission skills, shown in her three submission wins from five on her record. Borella’s best path to victor is wrestling and top control but Silva may have her trumped on the ground with submissions so she’d need to be extra careful even then. On the feet it’s lopsided in Silva’s favour and because of that Borella will be forced into a ground fight where Silva is more than comfortable. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Submission, Round 1
Mirsad Bektic (13-3) vs Damon Jackson (17-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Bektic takes on Damon Jackson who steps in on very late notice in this featherweight bout, replacing Luiz Garagorri. Bektic has lost his two in a row to Josh Emmett and Dan Ige but prior to that had beaten Ricardo Lamas and Godofredo Castro. Jackson returns to the UFC after four years away following a winless three-fight run in the company previously. Since leaving though he has been in the PFL and done well, winning 8 of 10 including his last bout by submission. Jackson has the advantage in this if he can get into submission situations but other than that, this is Bektic’s fight to lose. He has better striking, better cardio, better clinches and better kicking. So long as he keeps this fight standing, which he should with his takedown defence, Bektic takes this in the later rounds. PICK – Mirsad Bektic via Knockout, Round 3