Tag Archives: Merab Dvalishvili

UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Utah for a huge welterweight showdown as Kamaru Usman defenders his 170-pound crown against Leon Edwards in the main event.

The two fight for a second time, with neither fighter suffering defeat since the first showing back in 2015 and are supported by an undercard including Paulo Costa, Luke Rockhold, Jose Aldo, Merab Dvalishvili, Alexandr Romanov, Miranda Maverick and more.

Last time out at UFC San Diego we went 8/13 with three perfect picks to move to 698/1082 (64.51%) with 295 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that now and after starting with the early prelims, here are the rest of our prelims picks.


Tyson Pedro (8-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (7-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

If anyone can explain why this happening at all, never mind on the main card of a pay-per-view, then they’re better than me. Pedro returned from over three years out through injury with a first-round KO of Ike Villanueva back in April, while Hunsucker has lost three of his last four and got starched in under two minutes by both Tai Tuivasa (UFC Vegas 22) and Justin Tafa in his most recent fight.

Pedro looked great on his return and showed tremendous cardio, as well as explosive power with his kicks and hands to earn a knockout. Hunsucker is a guy who likes to stand in the middle and trade strikes, but doesn’t have the chin to stand there with the UFC calibre of fighter, never mind Pedro.

This is a weird fight because they’re galaxies apart in terms of ability, but also because of it’s placement on the card. Pedro blasts him with low kicks and combinations down the pipe to earn another knockout win and put an end to Hunsucker’s UFC run.
PICK – Tyson Pedro via Knockout, Round 1

Wu Yanan (12-5) vs Lucie Pudilova (13-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun woman’s bantamweight scrap that got shifted to the main card on late notice. Yanan has lost her last three in a row, dropping decisions to Mizuki Inoue, Joselyne Edwards and Mayra Bueno Silva. Pudilova alternatively has won her last two in a row and makes her second UFC debut in this one.

Yanan is a striker with good movement who looks to stick and move throughout the fight, while Pudilova is a more powerful striker who likes to step forward and apply pressure on her opponent. Yanan likes to try and set up strikes by changing direction, but her distinct lack of power and the fact she gets hit quite a lot certainly doesn’t help.

Pudilova isn’t the most powerful either but she is definitely more powerful than Yanan. She’s the slightly bigger woman of the two and could use that to wear on Yanan throughout, but expect her to land the more noticeable strikes with a bit more power to claim a win on the scorecards on her return to the octagon.
PICK – Lucie Pudilova via Decision

Jose Aldo (31-7) vs Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An incredible fight in the bantamweight division up next. Featherweight GOAT and title contender Jose Aldo has won his last three in a row with decisions against Marlon Vera (UFC Vegas 17), Pedro Munhoz (UFC 265) and most recently Rob Font (UFC Vegas 44). Merab is on a seven-fight win streak, including a stunning comeback win against Marlon Moraes at UFC 266 most recently.

Aldo is one of the very best strikers in UFC history, with terrific boxing and terrifying low kicks but he also has some of the best takedown defence ever and a elite ground game that he rarely ever has to use. Merab on the other hand is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the UFC, with the most takedowns in bantamweight division history and a ridiculous cardio that means he can seemingly go for forever. That is arguably his biggest avenue to victory here, because we’ve seen Aldo tire out in the past later in fights.

On the feet Aldo has a clear and dominant advantage, but if he looks to wrestle in any way at any time then he faces getting absolutely smashed. Merab will almost certainly take the centre and shoot relentlessly for 15 minutes. His success on the first two attempts will say a lot, but he also must avoid being hit clean because we’ve already seen Moraes hurt him last time out too. This is a super hard fight to call, but I think the cardio and grappling of Merab will eventually take it’s toll on the 35-year-old Aldo and claim him a tight decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision



Paulo Costa (13-2) vs Luke Rockhold (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A crazy fight in the co-main event at this stage of their careers. Costa was an undefeated behemoth before suffering a KO defeat against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253, before getting wrestled to death by Marvin Vettori in October after missing weight by 20lbs and watching the fight get moved up to light heavyweight in advance because of it. Rockhold has been knocked out cold in his last two fights by Yoel Romeo and Jan Blachowicz. This is his first fight in over three years.

Costa is a powerhouse who walks forward and blasts incredible combinations to the body and head while trying to take your head off, while also possessing a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt – although we’ve never seen him use it in the Octagon. Rockhold is a tremendous kickboxer with great power too, and he arguably has some of the best top position work in the entire UFC as well as great jiu-jitsu himself. Both guys have a huge problem in this fight though.

Costa is obviously going to have issues making weight, and that’s a big problem. The Brazilian literally couldn’t do it last time out, but is looking to do it again here and if he does make it, there will be a question mark around how compromised he is. Rockhold’s is his glass jaw. It will be tested in this fight, without a doubt. Unfortunately for him, after three years out, I highly doubt it has improved. Costa walks him down and turns the lights out on his MMA career early doors, despite the likely difficult weight cut.
PICK – Paulo Costa via Knockout, Round 1

Kamaru Usman (20-1) vs Leon Edwards (19-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The two best welterweight fighters in the entire world go head to head for the welterweight title of the world. Usman has defended his title five times with knockout and decision wins over Jorge Masvidal (UFC 251 & UFC 261) and Colby Covington (UFC 268) each, as well as a knockout over Gilbert Burns too (UFC 258). Edwards is on a ten-fight unbeaten streak with a no contest against Belal Muhammad in a fight he was dominating being followed up with a dominant win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263.

Usman is probably the best wrestler in the UFC right now, but his striking game has elevated in recent years and seen him develop great power in his strikes too. Edwards is a brilliant striker with great accuracy, technical ability and speed, with a wrestling game that has improved ten-fold since defeat to Usman back in 2015. Both guys have improved tremendously and this is a really tough fight to call because both are so good in all disciplines.

But there is one thing that stands out, and that’s a Joe Rogan quote about wrestling, when he said that there’s only so much you can learn against someone who has a “lifetime” of it. That’s the situation Edwards finds himself in. Usman has fallen in love with his hands of late, and Edwards is more than good enough to make him pay for that. But Usman has the ability to dictate where this fight takes place, and if it’s going wrong I expect him to wrestle and control Edwards on the ground for long periods to claim a close decision and break the record for most consecutive wins in UFC history.
PICK – Kamaru Usman 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 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Felipe Colares def Luke Sanders via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Colares opens up with a big body kick that Sanders half catches and slams home a nice flurry of strikes to counter it. Colares continues to throw those huge kicks but Sanders avoiding damage for the most part and then charges in with a flurry and lands a big left hand that drops Colares! Sanders goes for the finish and lands some huge elbows in the clinch and a big knee that puts Colares down again! Big ground and pound from Sanders but Colares still moving and trying to survive. They eventually get back to the feet and Sanders steps back to separate, then starts throwing that heavy left hand once again. Sanders is landing clean right straights with left uppercuts and Colares is hurt, but he’s surviving again. Sanders now slowing down a bit and Colares coming forward and throws a big right hand that wobbles Sanders! Both men exchange body kicks as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Sanders.

Great start to the round as Sanders comes forward with big left hands once again and lands them well. Both men much slower in this round but Sanders still landing with good power, then he changes levels and gets himself a takedown. Colares defends well on the ground and eventually they get back to the feet. Sanders much, much slower now and Colares starting to pressure more and lands a nice body kick again. Colares is able to get Sanders against the cage and locks his hands and picks Sanders up. He walks him across the cage and slams him down, then takes his back and flattens him out. Colares starts pounding away looking for a finish and the referee is looking at stopping it, but Sanders just about survives as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and both guys are exhausted already, but Sanders is keeping some distance and landing his heavy hands well. Colares coming forward working the body well with kicks, but Sanders is controlling the pace and landing more cleanly. Colares throws another kick but Sanders catches it and tries to take him down with a trip, but Colares gets back up quickly. Both men are basically out on their feet and Colares gets a judo throw to end up on top of Sanders with 30 seconds left. He looks for ground and pound but Sanders gets back up and they see the round out. Great fight, 29-28 Sanders for me.

Andreas Michailidis def KB Bhullar via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Tentative start from both fighters as Bhullar flicks out a few kicks while circling on the outside, as Michailidis looks to step forward and get inside. Nice little flurry of punches lands from Michailidis but Bhullar moving away and avoiding getting hit flush with the strikes before the clinch up against the cage to a stalemate. Bhullar starting to throw those kicks again to the head and body, then Michailidis throws a wild head kick that lands and follows up with another flurry of hooks. Michailidis changes levels and gets the takedown and starts controlling on the ground in the final minute, taking the back and floating threatening with a choke but Bhullar sees out the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Good start again from Michailidis as he comes forward and throws those flurries once again, then Bhullar lands an accidental low blow to pause the action. Fight resumes and Michailidis comes forward again, with Bhullar trying to use his kicks to keep range but not really doing any sort of damage or making Michailidis think about coming forward. Huge one two lands from Michailidis but Bhullar eats it, but he’s not throwing with any sort of intent at all. Little low kicks from Bhullar and then he misses with a big spin kick as Michailidis continues to march him down. Big swing and a miss once against from Michailidis as the round ends. 20-18.

Slow start to the final round as Michailidis is recharging for a flurry, while Bhullar is just prodding small kicks with zero intent or aggression. Michailidis starting to try and egg Bhullar on with taunts but not much really landing from either fighter. A few more flurrys from Michailidis that don’t really land too clean while Bhullar is throwing nothing back to make him think about it. Another low blow from Bhullar causes a pause in the fight as we enter the final minute but it’s Michailidis who is showing more intent to get a finish. 30-27 Michailidis in a less than memorable fight.

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee def Sam Hughes via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight for Lookboonmee as she lands a few kicks from range and a couple of nice right hands. Hughes looks to close the distance to look for a takedown but Lookboonmee defends it well and unleashes some huge knees in the clinch before tripping her and dumping her to the mat. Lookboonmee works top position well and lands some big elbows on the ground before getting back up and allowing Hughes back to her feet. Hughes goes for the takedown again but Lookboonmee defends it really well again and is able to reverse the position and take her down again, landing some more elbows on the ground before letting Hughes up again. Hughes lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a good right hand as Lookboonmee looks to counter but just misses. Hughes closes the distance and goes for a takedown again but Lookboonmee defends well against the cage and sees the round out in top position as she falls onto Hughes.. 10-9 Lookboonmee.

Hughes comes out aggressive in the second round and goes straight for a takedown, but Lookboonmee defends well and goes for a couple of trips of her own. Hughes relentless though and finally gets her down as Lookboonmee looks to defend with a guillotine. Hughes defends and gets a body lock to try and drain her against the cage, but Lookboonmee finally gets back up, breaks the lock and separates. Hughes lands a couple of nice right hands clean but Lookboonmee comes forward with kicks again. They clinch up again and battle for position with Lookboonmee landing some big knees to the body while angling away from Hughes. Hughes goes for a single leg takedown but Lookboonmee defends it really well and then lands a big knee again. Hughes switching from single leg to double leg constantly but Lookboonmee defending brilliantly and keeps the fight standing, then ends the round on top as they clinch at the end and she falls on Hughes once again. 20-18 for me.

Tentative start to the final round as Hughes looks to keep it standing early on, landing some nice early strikes that are making Lookboonmee a bit uncomfortable. She goes for a Thai clinch but Hughes defends it well and pushes her against the cage looking for a takedown once again. Lookboonmee defends it well once again with more knees and then they separate, as both women exchange a big right hand each. The women clinch up again against the cage and exchange knees before the separate and Hughes lands a big right hand. Lookboonmee fires back with some push kicks to the body as we enter the final minute of the fight. Hughes clinches up again and the fight comes to an end with the two women against the cage. 29-28 Lookboonmee for me.

Luana Carolina def Poliana Botelho via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to the fight as Botelho comes out a bit more aggressive, throwing some nice body kicks and leg kicks while also leading with her jab. Carolina struggling to get anything going just yet, trying to reply to kicks and a jab of her own but looking very nervous and backing up. Botelho steps forward with a four-hit combo that doesn’t land clean but then she clinches up and gets a takedown into Carolina’s guard. Botelho using great shoulder pressure to control Carolina’s posture on the ground and working to pass into mount which she does after a few big strikes to the head. 30 seconds left in the round and she looks to transition to an armbar but Carolina survives and the round ends. 10-9, could even argue a 10-8 for Botelho.

Better start to this round from Carolina as she comes out more aggressive and goes straight for a clinch after a head kick attempt. She uses strength to hold Botelho in position and starts throwing some nice knees to the body that sees Botelho looking a bit uncomfortable. Botelho looks to switch position and goes for a trip but Carolina defends it excellently and ends up in a dominant position of her own on the ground. She goes for a submission but Botelho gets back to the feet well and the rest of the round plays out against the cage in a clinch position with both women exchanging knees to the body. 19-19.

Slower third round as both women look to exchange body shots and kicks but Carolina being a bit more aggressive so far. Nice flurry from Botelho but Carolina replies with a kick and Botelho goes for a takedown. A scramble on the ground sees Carolina end up on top in the closed guard of Botelho and after a bit of a stalemate she works her way to Botelho’s back. Carolina starts working for a rear-naked choke but Botelho defending well against the cage and both women trade shots on the ground as the round comes to an end. Carolina’s round, 29-28 Carolina for me but could be a draw if the first round was a 10-8.

TJ Brown def Kai Kamaka III via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 27-30)

Fun start early on as Brown comes forward and lands good jobs and front kicks before Kamaka responds with a flush right hand to the chin. Brown keeps coming though, moving a lot and looking to mix it up but Kamaka is investing in his calf kicks well. Both men throw body kicks at the same time before Brown lands a good one-two in response that sends Kamaka backwards. Kamaka lands a punch as Brown goes for a kick and knocks him off balance, but Brown very active off his back to not allow any sort of advantage to be gained before he works back up to his feet quickly. Kamaka fires off another nice low kick but Brown is still coming forward and after a few more exchanges the round ends. Could go either way but I edge 10-9 to Brown.

Much faster start to this round as Kamaka lands a nice shot that sends Brown backwards early. Brown just flowing with the strikes but Kamaka landing some nice combinations and throws a huge head kick that lands flush! Brown keeps coming forward and lands a big right hand that rocks Kamaka! He starts looking for the finish but Kamaka is still there and then Kamaka lands a huge strike that drops Brown! Kamaka goes for the ground and pound finish but Brown surviving and then he gets a kimura synched up! Kamaka survives it but they get back to the feet and the round ends with Brown on top after a successful shot. 19-19 for me, great fight.

Final round and both men come out with a sense of urgency. Brown shoots in for a takedown early but Kamaka stuffs it and manages to reverse it to get into top position. Kamaka trying to push Brown against the cage to control the position but Brown fighting to get back up to the feet and eventually does. Nice combinations from Brown land and Kamaka blocks a body kick before he pushes him down to the mat once again and looks to move into full mount, but Brown denies it. Brown eventually gets back to the feet again and throws a big right hand that drops Kamaka. He goes for an ankle lock finish but gives up position, then goes for a kimura again but the round ends. 29-28 Kamaka, great fight.

Luana Pinheiro def Randa Markos via Disqualification (Illegal kick), Round 1 (4:16)

Brilliant start to this fight from Pinheiro as Markos rushes forward with a flurry of strikes but gets caught with a huge right hook counter. Markos goes to clinch but Pinheiro dumps her on her head with a beautiful judo throw and then starts raining down some heavy ground and pound. She manages to judo throw Markos several times and strike hard and Markos looks rattled. Accidental eye poke causes a stop in the fight as Markos needs to recover and blinks out the issue. Fight resumes and Markos comes out with heavy and hard but Pinheiro countering brilliantly again and then throws Markos down on her head yet again. They separate before another clinch and Pinheiro goes for another judo throw and ends up on top again! Markos tries to kick Pinheiro off and upkicks her in the face while she’s down. Pinheiro flops to the floor and is struggling and the doctor waves this one off. Disqualification incoming.

MAIN CARD

Merab Dvalishvili def Cody Stamann via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to this fight between two predominant wrestlers, with Stamann taking the centre but Merab doing well to move on the outside and lands a beautiful left uppercut. A few more strikes from Merab before he catches a kick and takes the fight to the ground for the first time. Stamann eats a few punches but gets back up, then goes for a few takedowns of his own but they get stuffed. Merab is landing some great right hands, but Stamann sticks a stiff jab that wobbles Merab. Merab goes for a single leg and gets it but Stamann pops right back up every time as the round ends in a stalemate. 10-9 Merab but could argue it went Stamann’s way too.

Fast start for Stamann to round two as he comes out with a deep double leg takedown early and gets it against the cage. Merab relentless from the bottom though with elbows and punches before working his way back up and rushing Stamann to get a takedown of his own. Merab holds him down for a few seconds before they stand back up and Stamann goes back to work with his jab. Merab changes levels and gets another takedown and looks to sink in a guillotine, but Stamann pops his head out and they work back to the feet again. Merab’s pace starting to wear on Stamann a bit as he keeps marching forward, landing combinations and shooting for takedowns as he lifts Stamann this time and slams him down. Stamann trying to keep Merab with his back to the cage but Merab steps forward, clinches and judo throws Stamann to the mat but a scramble sees him end the round under him. 20-18 Merab.

Competitive opening to the final round as Stamann takes the centre again looking to land jabs to set up a haymaker, but Merab staying light on his feet and moving in and out with strikes. Stamann looks for a big right hand that misses wildly and Merab continues to push forward and land little flurries, always touching Stamann. Merab shoots for a single leg but Stamann reverses the attempt and ends up on top with a little more than a minute to go. Merab battles up to his feet and goes for a takedown of his own but Stamann scrambles as they end up in a stalemate on the ground. They get back and swing for the final few seconds but should be a win for Merab, 30-27.

Sean Strickland def Krzysztof Jotko via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Nice left hand from Jotko to open up the fight as Strickland takes the centre and looks incredibly calm as he steps forward. Jotko more lively, bouncing on his toes and throwing a couple of kicks too, then lands another nice left hand. Strickland coming forward again with intent now and lands a stiff jab down the middle, then a right cross that wobbles Jotko. Strickland lands a nice left hand and uppercut and Jotko is hurt, so Strickland goes in for the kill and Jotko shoots for a takedown. Strickland denies it but Jotko moving his head well and recovers without taking more damage. Jotko lands a reverse elbow Yair style right on the chin but Strickland eats it and continues to come forward. Strickland throws a flying knee that just misses but lands a nice right hand before he lands and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Strickland.

Strickland comes out very controlled in the second round and he starts landing the jab well. Jotko still circling on the outside and Strickland is starting to cut him off now as per the advice of his corner, but eats a big left hand as he does so. Strickland with a stiff jab again and then a nice body kick. Jotko goes for a spin kick and misses but it allows Strickland to move and launch a big power strike that whistles past the chin of Jotko. Jotko slowing down now as Strickland marches him down, then eats another stiff jab. Strickland catches a kick and goes for a big right overhand but Jotko avoids it and fires back with one of his own. Strickland’s calf kicks starting to have an effect as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Strickland.

Jotko becoming very predictable looking for the big left hand as Strickland just in cruise control in this fight at the moment. Flying knee attempt from Strickland misses and Jotko goes for a big right hand that doesn’t come anywhere near landing. Stiff straight right hand from Strickland lands but Jotko trying to come forward more now as we hit the halfway point of the round. Strickland takes back control of the centre now, landing a big front kick to the body and then another low kick. Strickland goes for a body kick and then follows up with a big right hand before a flying knee lands too. Bit of a wild exchange as the fight comes to an end, but it’s a comfortable 30-27 for Strickland here.

Ion Cutelaba vs Dustin Jacoby – Split Draw – (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)

Nice start to the fight from Jacoby as he uses his length well to land some nice jabs and two heavy leg kicks too. Cutelaba sticks a jab and misses with a hammer of a right hand, before landing two big right hands and shooting for a takedown. Cutelaba locks his arms around the body and starts dragging Jacoby to the ground over and over again while landing some big ground and pound strikes too. Cutelaba starts landing some huge short ebows to the head and Jacoby is getting pieced up and just about surviving as Cutelaba drags him down again and continues pounding him out. Cutelaba goes for a judo throw but Jacoby grabs the cage to prevent it and the referee warns him but does nothing else as the round ends. 10-8 Cutelaba.

Jacoby opens the round with a body kick attempt and immediately gets taken down by Cutelaba. He lands a nice knee and right hand as they break, but Jacoby comes forward with his jab now. Cutelaba goes for another takedown but Jacoby stuffs it this time and Cutelaba is slowing down already. Another attempt denied by Jacoby as he lands a nice uppercut, but Cutelaba keeps going despite him clearly being tired now. Jacoby doing so well to land at range and Cutelaba isn’t even shooting anymore. Jacoby lands a big right hand and Cutelaba is rocked! Cutelaba shoots but it’s denied and the round ends. 19-18 Cutelaba going into the third.

Good start again from Jacoby in this final round as he opens with a leg kick and then lands a heavy body kick. Cutelaba standing and trading in the centre, nice jabs and uppercuts while Jacoby trying to evade and counter. Nice left hook from Jacoby as Cutelaba threw a jab and then Jacoby lands a huge right hand again. Cutelaba is still there throwing bombs though, but Jacoby staying behind his jab and landing. Cutelaba goes for a huge elbow that just misses and both men land a nice left hook, before a double jab-cross combo from Cutelaba lands on the chin. Jacoby goes for a knee and Cutelaba catches it and goes for the takedown but Jacoby defends well and reverses the position to put Cutelaba against the cage. Final minute and Jacoby goes for a single leg but Cutelaba avoids it then throws a nice right hook as they clinch up again. Jacoby gets a takedown right at the end to finish up on top, this could be a draw. 28-28.

Giga Chikadze def Cub Swanson via Knockout, Round 1 (1:03)

Chikadze opens up early with some kicks to the body and a straight right, while Swanson tries to jump in and close the distance. Chikadze throws his trademark left kick to the body and Swanson is down! Chikadze hits some ground and pound as Swanson curls up and this one is over! First round knockout for Chikadze! Wow!

Jiri Prochazka def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)

Both men looking to claim the centre of the octagon as this one starts with a heavy low kick from Reyes and a body kick from Prochazka. Prochazka keeping his hands low and bouncing around as usual, with Reyes more traditional with his hands high looking for his straight left hand. Prochazka just misses with a three hit combination and Reyes lands a nice left hand down the middle. Prochazka responds with a big right hand of his own that wobbles Reyes and sends him backwards. Reyes shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Prochazka is able to just power out and get back to his feet. Prochazka continues to just come forward and Reyes is landing straight punches but he’s just walking through them. Big combination lands from Prochazka and Reyes is hurt! Prochazka going for the kill but Reyes continues to circle and fire back. Prochazka lands a flurry of strikes again but Reyes sees out the round. 10-9 Prochazka.

Second round and Reyes taking a more measured approach, keeping his distance and looking to land counter strikes as Prochazka comes forward. Prochazka applying so much pressure and Reyes is just not wilting, firing back with huge strikes of his own. Prochazka chasing Reyes around the octagon with combinations and kicks to the body and Reyes’ face is absolutely battered and bloody. Reyes lands a nasty left that wobbles Prochazka and forces him to shoot for a takedown. The stand again and trade against the cage. Prochazka goes for an elbow and just misses, then spins and lands a huge spinning elbow that knocks Reyes unconscious! Oh my God! What a knockout!

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Main card predictions

The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.

After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.

Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that with our main card picks, having predicted the prelims already.


Merab Dvalishvili (12-4) vs Cody Stamann (19-3-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A wrestler’s paradise in the bantamweight divsion as Merab looks to make it six wins in a row while Stamann looks to return to the win column. Merab beat Brad Katona and Casey Kenney before Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 2 and John Dodson at UFC 252 in his last four, all via unanimous decision as he secured the record for most takedowns in division history. Stamann beat Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 before getting well beaten by Jimmie Rivera on Fight Island 1 just a month later.

Both guys will without a doubt look for takedowns and top control, but the big difference between the two is that Merab’s gas tank is absolutely ridiculous and he marches his opponents down. Stamann is happy to use strikes to set his takedowns up and it seems unlikely that will work in this fight. Merab is so physically strong and literally doesn’t stop for the entire 15 minutes.

Work as usual for Merab in this one as he overpowers Stamann and gets the fight to the ground and works ground and pound for another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision

Sean Strickland (22-3) vs Krzysztof Jotko (22-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A contender for fight of the night in the middleweight division as these two powerhouses go toe to toe. Strickland came back from a two-year lay-off to beat Jack Marshmann at UFC Vegas 12 before knocking out Brendan Allen just two weeks later at UFC Vegas 14. Jotko has won three in a row too, beating Eryk Anders last time out in May 2020 by unanimous decision.

Both guys are really fun strikers to watch, which should make this a great fight. Strickland is a really good boxer with good knockout power and great combinations, while his volume and gas tank make him a nightmare for everyone in the division. Jotko is a clean, technical striker himself but he doesn’t have that power to go with it although his kicks are better than Strickland’s.

While both guys are strikers, Strickland’s striking style should really suffocate Jotko’s counter heavy style and while I don’t think he gets the finish I do think he gets a comfortable decision.
PICK – Sean Strickland via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6) vs Dustin Jacoby (14-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An absolute barn burner coming up in the light heavyweight division as two very heavy-hitting 205lbers go head-to-head. Cutelaba suffered back-to-back defeats to Magomed Ankalaev, the first rather controversially before a decisive ending to their fight at UFC 254. Jacoby is on a four-fight win streak, including 2-0 in the UFC with a knockout over Justin Ledet at UFC Vegas 12 before a controversial decision win over Maxim Grishin at UFC Vegas 20 in February this year.

Cutelaba has never had a boring fight in his life, as he walks forward with heavy hands looking to take someone’s head off but he also has good grappling skills too. Jacoby is a skilled kickboxer with good power and a much more measured approach but his grappling game isn’t the best.

Cutelaba will use his physicality and overwhelm Jacoby early on and he hits hard enough to potentially get a finish in the first five too.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1

Giga Chikadze (12-2) vs Cub Swanson (27-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A really, really good fight in the featherweight division as Giga Chikadze gets his shot at a ranked opponent when he takes on Cub Swanson in the co-main event. Chikadze has won seven-in-a-row building up to this fight, including a decision win over Omar Morales and a knockout win over short-notice fighter Jamey Simmons at UFC Vegas 13. Swanson has won his last two, defeating Kron Gracie by decision before knocking out Daniel Pineda at UFC 256 in a highly impressive performance.

Chikadze is a brilliant kickboxer with brilliant kicks and cross punches, but his volume is always a bit on the low side for what it should be for a man of his talent. Swanson is a talented striker with great boxing skills, but he’s also an elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Chikadze will likely take note from the Pineda fight and fire a lot of leg kicks Swanson’s way, while also using his great speed to get in and out. That said, Swanson will never let him rest. He will push the pace, come forward and look to eventually get the fight down to the ground if he can.

Swanson is a really good fighter and has surprised me in the past, but I think Chikadze should be able to use his kicks well and stay at range enough to outland him and get the decision win in a really entertaining fight.
PICK – Giga Chikadze via Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-2) vs Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A huge scrap at the top of the card as Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon to take on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division. Reyes was unbeaten before losing controversially to Jon Jones in February 2020, before being knocked out by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 in a fight for the vacant title. Prochazka on the other hand is a hugely underrated fighter coming into this fight on an 11-fight win streak with ten of those by knockout, including his UFC debut against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251.

Reyes is a specimen of an athlete who has tremendous boxing skills and a lethal left hand, while he also has some good leg kicks and a nice body kick too. Prochazka is a wildly unorthodox striker who often walks his opponent down his hands down, but 24 knockouts in 27 career victories tells you just how hard he hits. Reyes’s skillset is fairly limited and Blachowicz showed in his last fight just how to shut him down completely.

Prochazka is just ridiculously powerful and his head movement is great. His aggression could land him in trouble if Reyes lands that straight left, but Prochazka will almost certainly be prepared for it and after being knocked out violently last time out I think Reyes goes to sleep again.
PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Fight Night Vegas 2: Eye vs Calvillo – Results (Highlights)

PRELIMS

Christian Aguilera def Anthony Ivy via TKO (Round 1, 0:59)

Both fighters making their UFC debut come out and look to establish control of the centre. Aguilera throws some combos towards the head of Ivy, who responds with good footwork and a good jab. Aguilera throws a big overhand right that wobbles Ivy back to the cage. Aguilera pounces on the hurt Ivy and lands a big combo, dropping him with an inwards short elbow and the referee steps in to end this one early. Huge win for Christian Aguilera.

Tyson Nam def Zarrukh Adashev via KO (Round 1, 0:32)

Adashev rushes out in his UFC debut and opens with a nice combo. Nam looks calm and composed as he eats a leg kick and fires back with a huge right hand. Adashev is out cold as Nam follows up with a punch but this one is over quickly. What a knockout for Nam, who is visibly emotional in the Octagon afterwards.

Julia Avila def Gina Mazany via TKO (Round 1, 0:22)

Avila rushes out of the blocks with a hard combo and rocks Mazany immediately. She retreats to the cage covering up, Avila continues to smash her with strikes and the referee stops the fight. Another quick stoppage! What is in the air in Vegas?!

Merab Dvalishvili def Gustavo Lopez via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-25)

Both fighters look to take the centre of the Octagon quickly to establish control with ‘The Machine’ winning that early battle. A small exchange of strikes but nothing significant as we pass the minute mark of round 1 for the first time tonight. Lopez showing some good takedown defence as Merab pushes a hard pace as usual, before the Georgian gets a takedown eventually. Some good ground and pound strikes land before Lopez gets back on his feet and the round comes to a close. 10-9 Dvalishvili.

Second round starts with Merab once again pushing a fast pace. He lands a big overhand right before taking the fight back down to the ground once again, Lopez clearly starting to feel the pace now. Merab scoops Lopez’s head up in side control and starts cranking a nasty submission, but Lopez stays calm and eventually finds his way out after being in some considerable pain. More takedowns from Merab, with Lopez now visibly slowing down. The round comes to an end with Dvalishvili in control. 20-18 Merab.

Third round starts and ‘The Machine’ is looking dominant. His timing on the takedown has been excellent all night and he’s completely nullified the striking of Gomez. He’s taking him down at will and now gets into full mount with 2:30 to go in the fight. Merab out grappling Lopez and locks in a body triangle to keep the fight on the ground, before the Georgian takes his back into the final minute. Lopez stands up again and the two engage in a striking battle before Merab gets a personal best THIRTEENTH takedown of the fight to see the round out and surely earn a comfortable decision victory. 30-27 Dvalishvili.

MAIN CARD

Mariya Agapova def Hannah Cifers via Submission (Round 1, 2:42)

Agapova comes flying out of the gate with heavy shots and landing. Both go back and forth with strikes but Agapova continuing to dominate the exchanges, showing her clear advantage on the feet. She lands a huge head kick that rocks Cifers and goes straight on the attack. She locks in a body triangle while standing and takes Cifers’ back, sinks in the rear naked choke and gets the tap. Impressive win for the debutant.

Jordan Espinosa def Mark De La Rosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Espinosa starts the fight on the outside, looking to use his footwork to out manoeuvre De La Rosa who he knows wants the takedown in this fight. A deep shoot sees Espinosa against the cage with one leg being held, but he proceeds to land heavy strikes to the body. De La Rosa not looking to advance at all from this position and is eating heavy elbows and punches to the head. The round ends with more of the same. De La Rosa tells his corner he was trying to wear out Espinosa but it seems like a very strange decision from him. 10-9 Espinosa.

Round 2 starts with more of the same, with Espinosa happy to concede the centre of the Octagon. More strong strikes and movement as De La Rosa goes for the takedown, again grabbing the single leg but eating shots while backing his opponent up against the cage. Espinosa cruises through the round pretty much unscathed. 20-18 Espinosa.

The third round begins with a bit more urgency from De La Rosa, who’s corner has told him he’s two rounds down and needs to go straight for the takedowns. Espinosa is using his footwork excellently to avoid any attacks and shoots in himself with a superb double-leg. He starts punishing De La Rosa with clean ground and pound strikes and after a scramble finds himself with a d’arce choke almost perfectly set up. He abandons the submission for more strikes, landing a huge knee to the body with De La Rosa on one knee. The round ends with Espinosa comfortably ahead and a comfortable victory in the end.

Andre Fili def Charles Jourdain via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A fast start from both fighters, with heavy shots from both but many of them hitting air. Lots of movement from both men as expected in this one. Some good back and forth from both, with Jourdain ripping kicks towards Fili’s right side. ‘Touchy’ is blocking and parrying a lot of these kicks, but they’re very hard and he may have injured his arm here. A good exchange and a big overhand right from Jourdain drops Fili but his experience helps him to keep ‘Air’ off him while he recovers on his back. With 30 seconds to go in the round, Fili lands a good takedown and ends the round in control to make it difficult for the judges. 10-9 Jourdain for me.

The second round is a bit more controlled from both fighters. Lots of quick combinations from both, with some landing but nothing clean. Lots of heavy leg kicks from Jourdain as he tries to slow Fili down, but the Samoan-born American lands a takedown and starts to land some nice ground and pound. Fili controlling his opponent overall and the round comes to an end with the scores likely even. 19-19.

The 3rd begins with Fili looking fresher, although Jourdain is not afraid to pull the trigger at all. More leg kicks from the Canadian to try and slow Fili down but to no avail as he gets another takedown late in the round. Not much action in this round with both seemingly more worried about losing the round than winning it but Fili’s takedowns in this fight have ultimately come in clutch for him in the end. 29-28 Fili for me.

Charles Rosa def Kevin Aguilar via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Aguilar starts the fight with a big right hand that causes Rosa to lose his balance, but he isn’t hurt and takes his stance back quickly. Rosa lets fly with a big overhand left but completely misses his target. Aguilar looks much looser so far but not much action in the first round at the moment. Rosa moves forward with a left hook but Aguilar takes it and pushes forward himself. A nice one-two combo sends Rosa pushing back against the cage but once again no real damage landed. Rosa looking to land leg kicks to Aguilar’s lead leg but ‘The Angel of Death’ is now looking to counter them with an overhand right. A cut has appeared over Rosa’s right eye but it doesn’t look too bad. One of the kicks lands clean and Rosa stumbles but seems okay. A wild exchange leads to nothing but air. Rosa goes in for a takedown but Aguilar defends it and lands some heavy hammer-fists from a standing position. 10-9 Aguilar.

Second round starts with some aggression from Aguilar as he lands a nice body kick. Lots of jousting in the centre of the Octagon but not a crazy amount actually happening in there. More kicks land from Aguilar as Rosa swings a wild right hook. Co-commentator Paul Felder points out that neither fighter throwing any combinations during the bout. Another heavy body kick from Aguilar before he counters a leg kick with a nice left jab. Rosa goes for a head kick as Aguilar goes to grab a leg and lands square in the face but he eats it well. A nice left hand lands again from Rosa before another big kick lands to the head of Aguilar. A big right hook rocks him as Rosa’s corner shout for him to push forward but the buzzer goes. 19-19.

Round 3 starts with both men going for a finish! Heavy shots landing from both sides but Rosa’s punches having more of an effect. A big left straight from Rosa does well to land on Aguilar, who returns with a super right cross of his own. Aguilar being a bit more aggressive in this round than the previous two. Rosa loads up a big left hand but misses and Aguilar lands a nice combo to the body and head. Rosa moves within to clinching range and attempts to roll through to a knee bar but Aguilar reads it and steps away with no problems. More big strikes land from both men, with Rosa’s cut from the first round now starting to bleed much more. A nice body kick from Rosa lands as Aguilar starts to walk him down a bit more but a lovely left hand lands square on his chin. Final minute of the round now. Rosa starting to prioritise moving away from Aguilar rather than engaging, a sign he thinks he may have this fight won. Both men swing at air as the buzzer goes and the fight ends. This could go either way but I score it 29-28 to Aguilar, mainly for pressing and Octagon control.

Marvin Vettori def Karl Roberson via Submission (Round 1, 4:17)

This grudge match starts with a lot of feints as both men look to feel each other out early. Vettori throws a straight left but misses, before trying to find his way into range with some jabs. More feinting and movement from both men before they clinch against the cage. Roberson tries to throw Vettori and goes to take his back, but as they land on the ground Vettori is able to get out and scramble to a top position. He starts to land some ground and pound shots and slides an arm under the chin of Roberson for a guillotine, but Roberson spins out. Vettori holds onto the position and Roberson kicks off the cage to get out of the submission. Vettori starts landing some heavy ground and pound shots, forcing Roberson to try to push out. Vettori secures the position, slides the arm under the chin once again and takes the back of his opponent. He rolls him over as he locks in the hooks and this one is over with 43 seconds left of the first round due to a rear-naked choke. Very impressive performance from Vettori.

Cynthia Calvillo def Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)

The main event starts with Jessica Eye taking the centre of the Octagon, as Calvillo lands a nice combo on the chin of Eye. Calvillo’s speed seems a big factor in the opening exchanges as he’s landing on Eye quickly and cleanly although not with much power. Neither fighter seems worried about pulling the trigger, with both landing some nice jabs. Calvillo goes for a high kick but Eye reads it and catches the leg. Calvillo attempts to step in on Eye who sidesteps her and lands a lovely right hand. ‘Evil’ Eye currently winning the boxing match between the two women, but Calvillo goes with a high kick that lands but Eye once again catches the leg on it’s way down. Round closes out with a big exchange in the pocket but neither fighter takes any significant damage. 10-9 Eye for me.

A bit more urgency from Calvillo at the stat of the second as she lands a nice right hand and starts faking the takedowns. Eye jabbing well but Calvillo goes in for a takedown who sprawls well and lands a nice knee to the body, before Calvillo holds on and trips Eye to secure the first takedown of the fight. Good wrist control from Eye to avoid ground and pound as Calvillo attempts to take her back on the way up from the mat. Calvillo goes for a trip and Eye loses her balance but instead of the takedown, Cynthia takes the back and puts both hooks in expertly. Eye trying to fight being flattened out while Calvillo lays on top of her with the hooks in by holding onto one of the arms with a two-on-one grip. Calvillo gets her arm free and starts landing some nice ground and pound strikes, keeping the body triangle in tight in the process. More strikes land as Calvillo attempts for the submission but the round ends as they scramble. 19-19 on my scorecard.

Eye looking to get back to boxing in the third round, establishing control of the centre of the Octagon and letting jabs fly. Calvillo looks much looser and bouncier on her toes but it’s quite clear in this round that both women are trying to ensure they don’t gas out before the fifth round. Calvillo attempts a spinning-back fist but it’s avoided by Eye as they exchange heavy shots in the pocket shortly afterwards. Calvillo starting to get the better of the striking exchanges, landing one-twos. A lovely combo from Eye lands to the body and face before Calvillo responds with a right hook. Lovely right hand connects from Eye but then Calvillo level changes beautifully and secures another takedown with just over a minute to go in the round. Eye gives up her back with 30 seconds to go as Calvillo locks in the body triangle once again but Eye fights the hands well and survives the rest of the round. 29-28 Calvillo.

‘Evil’ Eye was told by her corner to start kicking and opens the round with a left body kick attempt which is caught by Calvillo and turned in to a takedown. Calvillo takes the back very quickly and locks in the body triangle as she looks for the rear naked choke. Eye defending well but Calvillo is transitioning seamlessly while locking her up. Calvillo starts landing strikes on the ground while Eye tries to hold onto an arm to avoid damage. Jessica manages to spin on the ground and scramble back up to her feet and lands some nice strikes. Calvillo goes for another takedown but Eye uses her strength well to stifle the attempt and keep the fight on the feet. Calvillo visibly slowing down and Eye lands two solid right hands back-to-back. Big exchange with 25 seconds to go in the round sees Cavillo lands a lovely combination and the round ends. 39-37 Calvillo heading into the final round.

Final round of the night and the first real action comes almost 2 minutes in with Calvillo landing a nice one-two combo. Eye returns fire with a left hand of her own. Exchange in the pocket again and Calvillo lands a beautiful step-in elbow. Eye not really letting her hands go despite her corner telling her she needs the finish in this round. Calvillo’s speed coming in handy once again as she lands a spinning back-fist. Final minute of the fight and Calvillo goes for an outside trip and succeeds with the takedown. Some ground and pound strikes land before getting back to her feet as the round ends. A comfortable win for Cynthia Calvillo in the end on my scorecard, 49-46 to the Flyweight newcomer.

UFC Fight Night: Jessica Eye One of Three to Miss Weight, Another Fight Cancelled

UFC Fight Night: Vegas 2 took a bit hit at the weigh-ins today as three fighters missed weight, including one half of the main and co-main events.

Prior to the trouble today, the card began to fall apart last night as Ray Borg pulled out of his fight with Merab Dvalishvili due to a family emergency. Borg later tweeted saying, “Family first. See you soon, son” suggesting that there may be more problems with his son who has suffered form severe health issues in the past 18 months.

Darrick Minner also took to his Facebook account to announced that he won’t be fighting Jordan Griffin at tomorrow’s event either, having fallen sick during his weight cut.

โ€œSad to say but tomorrow I wonโ€™t be fighting. Long story short, the weight cut was going super smooth, everything on point. Came back to nap before I hit the last 5 lbs. Woke up after a two hour nap, started throwing up and didnโ€™t stop for 6-7 hours. Still throwing up this morning but it has slowed down.

โ€œThe UFC performance institute nutrition and staff tried everything to get my stomach under control before they had to make the call to start rehydrating. Shout out to them, they are super knowledgeable and professional.

โ€œI want to apologize to my opponent Jordan Griffin and his camp, stepped up to give us a fight. We will get this set up at a later date. Thanks to the UFC for giving me another opportunity, we will get back to work and be ready for the next one. Sorry my body couldnโ€™t make this happen.โ€

Jessica Eye, scheduled to fight Cynthia Calvillo in the main event, weighed in at 126.25lbs, or 1/4lbs over the 126lbs weight limit for a non-title Flyweight fight. ‘Evil’ Eye was visibly shaken when getting on the scales and after missing told the reporters present, “I’m done guys. I don’t even think I can stand.” Eye also missed weight for her last fight at Flyweight, coming in 5lbs over before her decision win over Viviane Araujo.

She was fined 25% of her purse, which will go straight to her opponent. Calvillo on the other hand made weight, coming in at 126lbs.

In the co-main event, Karl Roberson added to the tension between himself and opponent Marvin Vettori by missing weight for the second consecutive fight. This fight was originally supposed to happen earlier this month, but Roberson missed weight and then was ruled out of the fight by UFC doctors. The two then got into a verbal altercation in the hotel lobby afterwards, adding a bit more vim to a fight between two dark horses in the Middleweight division.

Roberson then weighed in today at 190.5lbs, 4.5lbs over the 186lbs weight limit for a non-title bout. He was fined 30% of his purse by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which will go to his rival. During the face-offs Vettori began blasting him verbally saying that Roberson’s “body was broken already from weight cutting” and that he’s going to hurt him.

A third fighter also missed weight during all the craziness. Zarrukh Adashev, making his UFC debut as a short-notice replacement to fight Tyson Nam, weighed in at 2.5lbs over the limit for their Bantamweight fight. He was fined 20% of his purse.

All the fights will proceed as previously scheduled despite the missed weight.

UFC Fight Night: Eye vs Calvillo – Predictions

The UFC reopens its APEX Centre doors this weekend for yet another card behind closed door, as Jessica Eye faces off with Cynthia Calvillo in the main event.

We go through the card to break down every fight and make our picks.

PRELIMS

Anthony Ivy (8-2) vs Christian Aguilera (13-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Riding in off a five-fight win streak, Anthony Ivy takes on Christian Aguilera as both men make their UFC debuts. Aguilera has won his last two fights and looked dominant in the process with a strong stand-up game. Ivy has won accrued all 8 of his wins via stoppage (5 KO’s and 3 submissions) but has shown holes in his game on the floor. A match-up between two good strikers both looking to make a name for themselves should mean fireworks and I’d be surprised to see this one go the distance. PICK – Anthony Ivy via KO/TKO

Tyson Nam (18-11-1) vs Zarukh Adashev (3-1)- (Flyweight/125lbs)

Adashev steps into this fight as a late replacement for Octagon veteran Ryan Benoit to make his UFC debut. ‘The Lion’ has won his last three in a row, two via KO, after losing his first professional bout back in 2015. He also competes in kickboxing, which shows you where his strengths lay. Tyson Nam will have other ideas however. The 36 year old is coming off back-to-back defeats and needs a win to cement his spot in the company and will believe this is a perfect good match-up for him. While Adashev won’t look to take this fight to the ground, he probably has the striking advantage due to his Glory days. At the lower weight-class it’s rare to see knockout victories but the short-notice will likely make a big difference in this one, so I expect Nam to be able to pip his opponent. PICK – Tyson Nam via Unanimous Decision

Julia Avila (7-1) vs Gina Mazany (6-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Julia Avila comes into this one on a wave of momentum having won her last three fights in a row. Her only professional defeat came when suffered a nasty compound fracture of her finger and the fight was stopped. Gina Mazany on the other hand has lost two of her last three fights, being knocked out by Ultimate Fighter winner Macy Chiasson along the way. ‘Danger’ is stepping into this fight on just one week’s notice and it’s not a great match-up for her. Mazany needs to be able to ground Avila and gain top position to really cause any trouble here for ‘Raging Panda’ and with Avila’s good takedown defence and crisp striking, this could end with a nasty KO. I’ll back the decision myself but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t make it to the judges. PICK – Julia Avila via Unanimous Decision

Charles Rosa (12-4) vs Kevin Aguilar (17-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

UFC Fight Night: Aguilar v Tukhugov : News Photo
Kevin Aguilar has lost his last two fights
Photo Credit: Getty Images

‘Boston Strong’ Charles Rosa steps into the Octagon for the eighth time in career and second time in three months this weekend to fight Kevin Aguilar. Rosa was beaten by ‘Thug Nasty’ Bryce Mitchell at UFC 249, where the submission game of the younger fighter proved too much for him in a decision loss. Aguilar last fought in February, suffering a second successive defeat after getting KO’d by Zubaira Tukhugov in the first round. While Rosa will have a significant advantage on the ground, every fight starts on the feet and Aguilar will be confident he can keep the fight there. His chin seems to have left him in more recent times which is a concern but Rosa doesn’t possess the greatest stand-up skills, so I expect ‘The Angel of Death’ to be able to get back in the win column. PICK – Kevin Aguilar via Unanimous Decision

MAIN CARD

Jordan Espinosa (14-7 1N.C) vs Mark De La Rosa (11-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Jordan Espinosa makes the move up to Bantamweight for this fight where he meets a desperate Mark De La Rosa. Espinosa has lost his last two, both by first round submission, while De La Rosa has lost his last three fights. Both fighters will be keen to end their skids. Together they combine for 13 career wins and a 5 career losses by submission. On the feet, De La Rosa is a better combination puncher while Espinosa carries more power. If the fight ends up on the ground it’s likely to be because Espinosa has scored a knockdown, but ‘Bumblebee’ is savvy enough to potentially get hold of a neck in a scramble. The likelihood however, is that Espinosa out-punches De La Rosa en route to a decision win. PICK – Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision

Andre Fili (20-7) vs Charles Jourdain (10-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili may be my favourite nickname in all of MMA, so it helps that he’s a pretty good fighter too. Fili has won four of his last six but was defeated in his last outing, coming out on the wrong side of a decision to Sodiq Yusuff. ‘Air’ Jourdain caused a shock back in December when he beat Doo Ho Choi via knockout and will be looking for more of the same come fight night. The Quebec native will stay aggressive at all times, pushing forward and looking to force mistakes from Fili. The American Top Team fighter is very experienced though, having made his Octagon debut in 2013 and I think he will be able to weather the storm. A more accurate striker and a much stronger wrestling game, I expect Fili to pick up a straight-forward decision win. PICK – Andre Fili via Unanimous Decision

Merab Dvalishvili (10-4) vs Gustavo Lopez (11-4)(Catchweight/140lbs)

Originally scheduled to fight Ray Borg, ‘The Machine’ Merab Dvalishvili is now scheduled to fight UFC newcomer Gustavo Lopez on just 3 days notice. Borg pulled out on Thursday night, citing a family emergency, and in stepped Combate Americas Bantamweight Champion Lopez. In his 11 previous wins, Lopez has picked up 10 stoppage victories including 5 KO’s and 5 submissions. A very well rounded fighter, this will be Lopez’s first fight against top level opposition. While he’s no Ray Borg, he will look to finish the fight early and has the power in his hands to do so. Merab however, is not someone you want to fight on short notice. The Georgian is well known for his conditioning and has absolutely no problem with a high pace fight for 3 rounds. I expect this will be the case and The Machine will pick up a comfortable decision victory. PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Unanimous Decision

Marvin Vettori (14-4-1) vs Karl Roberson* (9-2)(Middleweight/185lbs)
*Roberson weighed in at 190.5lbs, 4.5lbs over the limit

UFC Fight Night: Kopylov v Roberson : News Photo
Roberson won his last fight vs Kopylov via rear-naked choke
Photo Credit: Getty Images

A fight here with two dark horses in the Middleweight division. Two prospects coming in with a solid record and improving in every fight, this one should prove to be a treat. Roberson has won his last two and shown that being an ex-kickboxer isn’t the only thing that his opponents should be worried about, submitting Roman Kopylov late in the third round in his last outing. Much of the same can be said for Vettori too. Since his split-decision defeat to now Middleweight king Israel Adesanya in 2018, the Italian has turned in his two most impressive performances to date with two decision wins.

Vettori has struggled with finishing his opponents in the UFC, with just one fight not going the distance. Roberson has only seen the judges scorecards twice and this could be something to think about. Roberson is by far the more explosive fighter and his striking is better but Vettori is a very strategic fighter and will likely keep his distance in an attempt to control the pace of the fight. While Vettori is the bookies favourite, I’m going with an upset victor for ‘Baby K’ by knockout. PICK – Karl Roberson via Knockout

Jessica Eye* (15-7) vs Cynthia Calvillo (8-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
*Eye weighed in at 125.25lbs, 1/4lbs over the limit

An interesting if not spectacular main event on this card, No.1 ranked Jessica Eye takes on Cynthia Calvillo who makes her debut in the division. Eye has turned herself into one of the best in her division, some way behind champion Valentina Shevchenko, since dropping down from Bantamweight when the division was created. ‘Evil’ Eye has won four of her last five, the only defeat in her world title fight with ‘Bullet’ and has been convincing every time. A good boxer, she often uses her striking to close the distance, before letting off more powerful shots and stepping out again. This style shows when you see that 11 of her 15 wins have come via decision.

Calvillo however has more to her game, despite being much earlier in her career. The 32 year old’s only defeat came to Carla Esparza in 2017, although her most recent fight ended in a draw against Marina Rodriguez. Calvillo will be looking to take this fight to the ground, as she knows Eye has the advantage in the striking department. While Eye will likely catch Calvillo as she charges in for the takedown, Eye doesn’t hit hard enough to make her opponent worry about not going through with the attack. If the fight goes as expected, Eye will turn this into a boxing clinic and do all she can to keep it on the feet, or she may be in danger. PICK – Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision