Tag Archives: Mike Trizano

UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the mecca of combat sports for UFC 281 when Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight crown against long-time rival Alex Pereira at Madison Square Garden.

The two kickboxing rivals will go toe-to-toe in the octagon to see who is MMA’s best middleweight in the headline fight of the card, but is supported by one of the most stacked cards of the year.

In the co-main event we have the strawweight title on the line as Carla Esparza makes her first defence against former champion Weili Zhang, while Dustin Poirier will meet Michael Chandler in a lightweight war and Frankie Edgar has his retirement bout among other things.

Last week at UFC Vegas 64 we had a rough time with our picks going 6/11 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 766/1188 (64.48%) with 319 perfect picks (41.64%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Carlos Ulberg (7-1) vs Nicolae Negumereanu (13-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A banger at light heavyweight opens up this card this weekend. Ulberg is a world class kickboxer who has gone 2-1 in the UFC, losing his debut to Kennedy Nzechukwu (UFC 259) before bouncing back with a win over Fabio Cherant (UFC 271) and then most recently beating Tafon Nchukwi in June. Negumereanu is on a four-fight win streak, defeating Aleksa Camur (UFC Vegas 29), Isaac Villanueva, Nzechukwu and Ihor Potieria.

Ulberg is a super speedy, powerful striker with perfect technique and combinations that can put anyone in the division out. Negumereanu is a relentless pressure fighter who likes to chain wrestle to gain top control, and isn’t afraid to eat a strike to get that control. It’s an interesting clash of styles, because outside of that cardio tank Ulberg should have all the technical advantages.

He showed against Cherant that he’s capable of defending a takedown and using his size advantage to just rack up points for the judges, but Cherant doesn’t chain the wrestling together much. That is likely to wear on the gas tank of Ulberg which could affect the power and takedown defence. If he doesn’t get his jaw smoked in the opening round, I think Negumereanu takes over down the stretch and wins on the cards.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Decision

Julio Arce (18-5) vs Montel Jackson (11-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweights up next. Arce has alternated wins and losses in his last five, claiming a decision win over Daniel Santos most recently at UFC 273 back in April. Jackson on the other hand has won his last two, KO’ing Jesse Strader (UFC Vegas 22) before a decision win over JP Buys back in September 2021 last time out.

Arce is a super well-rounded fighter with good technical skills, but his stand-out attribute is his heart and durability. He’ll need that all against Jackson, who is one of the bigger 135-pounders in the division and packs the power to shut your lights out early. The best way to stop Jackson is seemingly to take him down and have him on his back, where he isn’t useless but is certainly nullified and his threat diffused.

Unfortunately for Arce, wrestling isn’t his strong suit and control isn’t his game. He’ll likely try to keep on his bike and land his jab and low kicks while avoiding the power, which is possible, but Jackson is used to that type of fight and his left hand is like a piston, so I do think he could land a knockout blow in front of the MSG crowd.
PICK – Montel Jackson via Knockout, Round 2

Mike Trizano (10-3) vs SeungWoo Choi (10-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Featherweights next in an interesting bout. Trizano returned from a two year hiatus to beat Ludovit Klein on short notice at UFC Vegas 26, but has since lost two in a row against Hakeem Dawodu and Lucas Almeida. Choi saw a three-fight win streak snapped by Alex Caceres, and then he dropped a split decision to Josh Culibao at UFC 275 to make it back-to-back losses coming into this one.

Both of these fighters are well-rounded with little that stands out above the rest, but Trizano has got a huge experience edge in this bout. He does often fail to pull the trigger when necessary though which is a problem, and Choi is a powerful puncher who loves his combinations. He leaves himself open defensively when throwing though, and that could leave Trizano with a window to attack.

It’s all about whether Trizano can survive the blitzes and land his own counters, or if he shells up and just gets hit. I’m going to lean on his experience and say that he won’t let the occasion get to him, meaning he lands enough counters and mixes his attack up well enough to earn a win on the cards.
PICK – Mike Trizano via Decision



Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13-7) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (11-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Interesting strawweight scrap up next. Kowalkiewicz had lost five in a row heading into her last bout, but she finally got a win over Felice Herrig via submission to get her career back on track. Juarez lost her first two UFC bouts via first-round submission, but claimed a first-round knockout last time out over Nia Lang at UFC 275.

Kowalkiewicz is a well-rounded fighter who was one of the better kickboxers in her division before her skid, but looked back to her old ways last time out with solid knees in the clinch and a decent ground game too. Juarez alternatively is a bulldozer, with incredible power for the weight division and aggression for days. Grappling has been a big weakness of hers though, but Kowalkiewicz is unlikely to adopt a wrestle-heavy game plan.

That means they’ll likely go strike for strike, and with Koawlkiewicz’s tendency to stand up straight with her chin exposed that’s not ideal. Juarez is more than powerful enough and fast enough to land a heavy right hand in an exchange to put her out, and I expect that is exactly what will happen.
PICK – Silvana Gomez Juarez via Knockout, Round 1

Matt Frevola (9-3-1) vs Ottman Azaitar (13-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very intriguing lightweight scrap closes out this portion of the show. Frevola is 3-3-1 in the UFC since 2018, going 1-2 in his most recent bouts. He was beaten by Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 257, KO’d in seven seconds by Terrance McKinney at UFC 263, but bounced back with a first-round KO win over Genaro Valdez at UFC 270. Azaitar makes his first appearance for two years, with a KO win over Khama Worthy back at UFC Vegas 10.

Frevola’s nickname is “The Steamrolla” and it fits him perfectly, with his incredible aggression and cardio allowing him to push a hard pace and push for finishes. Azaitar alternatively is a super powerful striker with nasty knockout power, but his cardio isn’t the greatest and he’s coming off a long layoff. It’s hard to ignore, especially when you figure it was enforced due to a positive drug test and Frevola is easily the best fighter he’s come up against.

Frevola will certainly want to earn his respect on the feet, but he must stay patient and grind away before really going for it as Azaitar has the ability to put him out with one shot. If he grinds away, does damage and avoids the hail Mary strike, he should be able to take over later in the fight and earn a stoppage win to really get his name out there.
PICK – Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 47: Hermansson vs Strickland – Prelims predictions

After a short two week break following on from the return of fights in 2022, the UFC is back with a middleweight main event at UFC Vegas 47 this weekend.

In the headline fight Jack Hermansson looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on Sean Strickland at 185-pounds, where we could either see a new contender in the division or find out that neither are championship calibre.

Last time out at UFC 270 we had a bad night, going 5/11 with one perfect pick to move to 519/813 (63.84%) with 218 perfect picks (42%).

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims of this 13-fight card, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Alexis Davis (20-11) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting women’s bantamweight fight to open up the prelims. Davis is 1-4 in her last five, with all her defeats coming against top level competition. Her most recent win came two fights ago when she beat Sabina Mazo at UFC Vegas 20, before she lost last time out to Pannie Kianzad at UFC 263. Stoliarenko has lost each of her last two fights to Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 6 and then got stopped by Julia Avila at UFC Vegas 30.

Davis is a strong striker with good boxing and excellent Muay-Thai, while her grappling game isn’t horrendous either. Stoliarenko on the other hand is a recently graduated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, who has eight of her nine wins via armbar. She tends to get the fight down and try to explode into submissions, but on the feet she is very poor and tends to leave her chin high and loads everything up.

This isn’t the best fight on the card at all and realistically it’s Davis’ fight to lose. She has the edge on the feet and while Stoliarenko is the better grappler, I think Davis has enough about her to hold her own down there and do enough damage on the feet to earn a decision win.
PICK – Alexis Davis via Decision

Chidi Njokuani (20-7) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (13-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight fight that could see the crowning of a new fan favourite here. Njokuani earned a win on the Contender Series last time out to earn a UFC contract and move to a two-fight win streak, while Barriault recovered from defeat in each of his first three UFC bouts to be on a two-fight win streak now and have momentum on his side.

Njokuani is a very technical striker, with solid front kicks and really nice counter punching on his side while Barriault is a good fighter who tends to rely on his one-punch power and then clinches his way to victories. He has nine knockout wins in his career. This fight goes one of two ways; Njokuani gets a highlight reel KO against the one-paced Barriault, or Barriault wears on him enough to slow the pace right down and get a unanimous decision win.

Looking at the tape and the styles, I think the former is the more likely. Njokuani’s kicks and counters should be enough to stop Barriault’s forward pressure right in it’s tracks and eventually land a big combination to secure a knockout win.
PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Knockout, Round 2



Hakeem Dawodu (12-2-1) vs Mike Trizano (10-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

One of the best fights on the card here as two featherweights go head-to-head. Dawodu has had an impressive run in the UFC to date with five wins in between losses in his first and most recent fights in the organisation. Movsar Evloev earned a decision win at UFC 263 in his last fight. Trizano on the other hand returned from two years out of the cage to earn a decision win over Ludovit Klein in his most recent fight at UFC Vegas 26 last time out.

Dawodu is a very talented Muay-Thai fighter who uses his knees brilliantly and his excellent striking technique to the best of his abilities at all time. He’s also got solid power, enough to earn seven KO wins in his career. Trizano on the other hand is a pressure fighter who looks to walk his opponents down and use his speed to land first, while mixing in decent wrestling too. He will need that wrestling to earn a win here, because he’s totally outgunned on the feet.

Unfortunately for Trizano, I don’t think his wrestling is at the level needed to control Dawodu for long enough to take rounds and the fight. On the feet Dawodu should have the edge and if he can keep the fight standing for the majority, he should claim the wide decision win with his combinations and power.
PICK – Hakeem Dawodu via Decision

Miles Johns (12-1) vs John Castaneda (18-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135-pounds is the featured prelim bout on this card. Johns has won each of his last two fights via knockout, defeating Kevin Natividad at UFC Vegas 12 and then Anderson Dos Santos at UFC 265. Castaneda on the other hand bounced back from being well beaten by Nathaniel Wood at UFC Fight Island 3 with a knockout victory over Eddie Wineland at UFC Vegas 19.

Johns has got an excellent jab and some good boxing, while his wrestling is of a strong enough level that he can fall back on it whenever he needs to. Castaneda is a pressure fighter who has good knockout power but his wrestling skills aren’t the best, although he does have great speed in his striking. Johns has a habit of self-sabotaging and just sitting on a lead in a fight, but he can’t do that here because Castaneda won’t stop.

Johns has a good enough jab to control the fight and is the better wrestler of the two to get takedowns. Castaneda throws a lot of leg kicks which could make a big difference but if Johns catches one and sees the round out on top he’ll take the win. It’ll go the distance and it’s not a lock of a pick, but I think Johns takes the win.
PICK – Miles Johns via Decision

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Results (Highlights)

**Ryan Benoit missed weight and wasn’t cleared medically to compete, so his fight with Zarrukh Adashev was cancelled.

Phillipe Lins fell ill before the weigh-ins and wasn’t able to get on the scales, so his fight with Ben Rothwell was cancelled.

Amanda Ribas and a member of her corner team tested positive for COVID-19 hours before the event, so her bout with Angela Hill was cancelled.

The card will proceed with nine fights.**


PRELIMS

Carlston Harris def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Anaconda Choke), Round 1 (2:52)

Positive start for Aguilera in the opening minute as he tries to close the distance with strikes but Harris grabs him and looks for the takedowns. Aguilera is able to stay on his feet though and lands a big uppercut that seems to rock Harris. Harris stays calm and starts using his range well with kicks to recover, then lands a big left hand of his own that hurts Aguilera! Harris lands a nice right hand down the middle and then Aguilera shoots for a takedown to try and recover. Harris sprawls, locks up Aguilera’s neck with an anaconda choke and puts him to sleep! What a debut win!

Jun Yong Park def Tafon Nchukwi via Majority Decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28

Good start to the fight from both men, as they both look to take the centre and be first ahead of their opponent. Park doing well behind his jab, using his great speed advantage to land well but Nchukwi is throwing good strikes too with more power. Park establishing the jab really well and trying to get Nchukwi to throw more so he can counter back. Nchukwi goes for an inside low kick but lands on the cup of Park and causes a pause in the action. Action resumes and Park continues with the jabs, both men trade leg kicks and the round ends. 10-9 Park.

Better start to the round for Nchukwi this time as he fakes a few times and lands a nice flurry of strikes to the face of Park. Park responds with his jabs once again but Nchukwi starting to throw some powerful kicks to the body. Park catches one of those kicks and looks for a takedown against the cage with it and gets a front headlock. Nchukwi fighting the hands and throws a knee to the body but misses and hits the cup once again for another low blow. The referee deducts one point from Nchukwi. Park continues to land his jab and come forward with his speed advantage and then changes levels for a takedown. Nchukwi reverses it with pure power and ends up on top but can’t land any damage before Park is able to work his way back up to the feet and start landing the jab again. Nchukwi goes in for a takedown but Park stops him with a headlock. Nchukwi uses pure power to lift him but Park locks in a guillotine and it’s tight, but the buzzer goes to end the round and save him. 20-17 Park.

Good exchanges at the start of the final round as Park’s jab goes to work once again while Nchukwi looks to come forward with a bit more urgency. A few low kicks from Nchukwi and some big swings with his right hand, but Park rolling well and is able to jab away with ease. Park changes levels and gets a takedown against the cage and is starting to wear on Nchukwi, putting all his weight on him and dragging him to and from. Park gets into three-quarter mount and starts throwing big elbows and heavy strikes, looking for a choke and big ground-and-pound as we enter the final 90 seconds. Nchukwi is bleeding badly but Park eases up on the mauling as the round ends and that’s a very dominant win. 30-25 for me.

Mike Trizano def Ludovit Klein via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Nice, tactical start to the fight from both guys as Trizano takes the centre and forces Klein backwards immediately. Klein lands a nice one two and Trizano responds with a right hand of his own before the exchange body kicks. Trizano’s pressure is forcing Klein to fight backwards and he’s struggling to get his attack going, but Trizano not landing much of his own. Klein shoots in with a nice double-leg takedown and gets Trizano down against the cage and tries to wrap his legs up Khabib-style. Trizano works his way back to his feet and the clinch and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Klein for me but it was close.

Nice right hand lands early on in the second round that puts Klein on his heels as Trizano continues his forward pressure. Klein goes for a head kick that just misses but follows it up with a nice right hand and a big left behind it. Klein shoots for a takedown again but Trizano is wise to it and stuffs it this time. Nice inside kick from Trizano as he forces Klein backwards again, but Klein explodes forward and lands a big left hand again. Trizano landing his jab well as he continues to push Klein backwards but he keeps bursting forwards with nice flurries. Klein bursts forward once more and gets another takedown and ends the round on top, but Trizano active off his back with body shots and should take that round. 19-19 for me.

Forward pressure once again from Trizano and it pays dividends early as he lands a big right hand that rocks Klein! Klein goes for a desperate takedown to survive and Trizano stuffs it, but Klein moves and manages to shake the cobwebs for now. Klein lands a nice left hand of his own but Trizano eats it, then Klein lands a nice leg kick. Body kick from Klein lands and Trizano goes for a right straight to the body. Trizano starting to land his strikes more as he forces Klein backwards and it forces another takedown from Klein. They get back up and then Klein takes him down again, but Trizano looks to sink in a guillotine but runs out of time. 29-28 Trizano for me but could go either way.

MAIN CARD

Phil Hawes def Kyle Daukaus via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-27)

Big pressure early on from Hawes as he backs Daukaus against the cage, while Daukaus looks to keep him at range. A few wild exchanges from both on the feet and Hawes goes in for a takedown early. He gets him down and passes the legs, but Daukaus holds on to the neck and it looks like Hawes has a Von Flute choke in. Daukaus elevates his hips and sweeps Hawes to end up on top and starts looking for control. Hawes eventually gets back to the feet and Daukaus goes in for a takedown again immediately but Hawes defends really well and the rest of the round plays out in a stalemate. 10-9 Daukaus for controlling the grappling against the cage.

Huge start to the second round from Daukaus as he comes out swinging with short hooks and combinations. He lands six or seven big punches and Hawes looks badly hurt on the feet before Hawes is able to clinch up and stall until he has recovered. They separate and Hawes lands a few strikes of his own and Daukaus gets wobbled! Daukaus immediately clinches up too but Hawes then breaks with a big elbow. Nice right hand against from Hawes and they clinch up, then both throw a knee at the same time but Hawes hits the cup to cause a pause. Action resumes and Hawes goes back to working the body with big hooks, slowing Daukaus down as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Hawes lands a big right hand early before shooting in for a takedown and getting the fight down. Daukaus trying to be very active off his back, but Hawes defending everything well and landing some nice short strikes from top position. Daukaus looks to sweep again but Hawes denies it and goes back to the ground pound, going body-head. Hawes starts landing heavy shots and forces Daukaus to try and cover up and the referee is threatening to call the fight off here. He moves enough to supress that, but Hawes is working brilliantly from top position and in complete control. Final 30 seconds and Hawes continues the ground and pound to win the round and probably the fight. Great performance. 29-28 Hawes.

Gregor Gillespie def Diego Ferreira via Knockout, Round 2 (4:51)

Interesting start to the fight as Gillespie takes the centre and lets off a nice left hook. Ferreira shoots a few strikes of his own before Gillespie goes for the early takedown, but the Brazilian defends with submission attempts and eventually gets back up to the feet. Gillespie shoots for another takedown but it’s denied, then Ferreira lets off a couple of right hands that have wobbled him! Gillespie keeps going to the well for the takedown but Ferreira is scrambling brilliantly and using his jiu-jitsu to escape regularly. Ferreira scrambles and sweeps to Gillespie’s back with hooks in, going for a choke and ground and pound but the round ends. 10-9 Ferreira.

Second round and Gillespie looks tired but he’s shooting in for the takedowns still and avoiding the big swings of Ferreira. Lots of scrambling on the ground and Ferreira looks for a kimura from the bottom but Gillespie just keeps moving and floating to the next position as Ferreira is tiring. Gillespie starts landing some big strikes and threatening with chokes of his own and is really wearing on Ferreira. Gillespie takes his back, flattens him out and starts landing big elbows and strikes and the referee steps in to end the fight! Huge win for Gregor Gillespie!!

Marcos Rogerio de Lima def Maurice Greene via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Fast start to the heavyweight bout as de Lima starts throwing wild hooks looking to take Greene’s head off. Both men swing and miss for the most part before they clinch up and de Lima takes the fight down to the ground in Greene’s full guard. Nice ground and pound from de Lima from top position as he’s putting some big pressure on to win the round. 10-9 de Lima.

Second round and immediately de Lima gets the fight down to the ground and gets control. Lots of control and ground and pound from top position as Greene looks to tie him up but it’s just more and more control and ground and pound. As the buzzer goes to end the round, Lima throws a big bomb and Herb Dean gives him a very serious warning. 20-18.

Third and final round and once again de Lima gets a very early takedown into top position and controlling the fight. Plenty of ground and pound again from de Lima as Greene just continues to accept bottom position and get beaten up. This is a completely one-sided fight and relatively pointless as the round ends. 30-27 for me because of a lack of damage, but could be a 10-8 for each round in reality.

Neil Magny def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to the round from Neal as he steps forward quickly and immediately puts Magny on the back foot. Nice straight shots as Magny looks to throw a kick or two, but Neal catches it and pushes him back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Neal before they clinch up and Magny starts to throw some nice knees to the body. Magny bursts forward with a flurry of punches to get a clinch, but Neal takes him across to the cage. Magny changes levels and gets a takedown and looks to take the back, but Neal spins out and gets back to the feet once again. Another clinch against the cage as the round ends. 10-9 Neal.

Magny looking to up the pressure a bit in the second now as he starts throwing some kicks to the body and nice flurries to the head too. Neal doing well to block most of them though and firing back with some nice combinations of his own. Neal clinches and gets a nice trip before a big left hand lands, but Magny gets up and then shoots for a takedown of his own. Neal sprawls and puts Magny against the cage. Nice straight left lands from Neal before Magny goes for a single leg takedown but Neal defends it relatively well until Magny changes the angle and is able to take the back with a body lock. Magny is able to escape it again as they go back to trading in the centre. Magny just touching him with more jabs and kicks as Neal’s output is starting to slow a little. Another clinch against the cage and Neal lands a big elbow as the round ends. 19-19, great fight.

Neal looking to close the distance in the third but trying to avoid a clinch situation, as Magny continues to throw out jabs that are barely landing. Magny definitely the more active of the two, but not much damage being done by either guy at the moment. Neal stuffs a Magny takedown attempt, as he starts to walk Magny down more. Nice one-two lands against the cage but Magny immediately grabs him and clinches before separating and landing some nice jabs. Neal looking frustrated now and Magny gets hold of him and drags him down to the mat, but Neal gets back up quickly once again. Final 30 seconds and Neal lands a huge straight left but Magny sees out the round with with jabs to probably take the win. 29-28 Magny.

Alex Morono def Donald Cerrone via Knockout, Round 1 (4:40)

Fast start from Morono as he charges out into the centre, but Cerrone grabs hold of him and clinches up against the cage to drain that early start out of him. Morono swinging bombs as they separate but Cowboy avoiding it for now and landing a few shots of his own. Nice body kick from Cerrone and then Morono swings in hard again, but Cerrone changes levels and goes for a takedown that is denied. Morono gets a trip of his own but allows Cerrone up and hits him with a right hand on his way up. Morono throws a big right hand that lands clean on Cerrone and he’s backing up. Cerrone throws a left hand and Morono ducks under and a huge looping left overhand cracks Cerrone clean! He’s badly hurt and Morono goes for the finish, throwing a big body shot and knees to the head. Big right hands again from Morono and the referee steps in with Cowboy out on his feet! Wow! What a knockout win for Morono!

Marina Rodriguez def Michelle Waterson via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 49-46 x2)

Slow start to the fight in this one as both women look to feel each other out early on, with Waterson throwing some hard leg kicks that are just missing. Rodriguez takes the centre as the round goes on, throwing some nice body kicks and hard punches while Waterson looks to counter with some nice spin kicks. Rodriguez trying to close the distance to nullify the kicks but Waterson moving well so far to stay out of danger. Bit of a wild clinch at the end of the round ends with a nice knee from Rodriguez, good round that could go either way. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.

Waterson unloading with kicks in this second round, looking to really keep Rodriguez at distance with a side kick counter. Rodriguez continues to come forward and throw the right hand, but Waterson keeps moving away. Waterson goes for a takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it easily and then lands two big punches. Rodriguez grabs a clinch against the cage and lands a nice knee to the body and Waterson separates. Both women trade leg kicks before Rodriguez goes for another clinch and lands some more knees. Waterson goes for a leg kick that just misses but then she lands a body kick and avoids a big right hook from Rodriguez. Big flurry of hooks from Rodriguez followed up by some big knees and an elbow to end the round. 20-18 Rodriguez.

Waterson goes for a leg kick early but misses and ends up on her butt, before Rodriguez catches her with a nice head kick on her way up. Waterson clinches against the cage but Rodriguez defends well and the separate with the Brazilian back in the centre. Rodriguez lands some huge hooks and Waterson covers up hurt, before stepping out and escaping. Two hard leg kicks by Waterson put Rodriguez down for a second, before a nice body kick too. Rodriguez swinging with a lot of power, but Waterson is absorbing it for now. Rodriguez is landing heavy punches but Waterson is still moving and countering with leg kicks and side kicks. Leg kick from Rodriguez followed up by a three-punch combo lands nicely. Rodriguez clinches and throwing big knees but Waterson replies with an uppercut to end the round. 30-27 Rodriguez.

Rodriguez staying patient in the centre as we enter the main event rounds, throwing some low kicks and searching for a home for the big right hand. Waterson keeps moving around the cage, throwing leg kicks of her own as Rodriguez lands a body kick. Waterson goes in for a takedown and gets it, straight into the guard of Rodriguez. Waterson controls the position and lands some heavy elbows on the ground with Rodriguez pinned against the cage. Rodriguez threatens a kimura to try and escape but Waterson rains down big elbows again to end the round on top. 39-37 Rodriguez.

Final round and Waterson staying calm in the centre, not shooting straight in for a takedown as many would have expected. Rodriguez just misses with a right hand and then Waterson throws back-to-back head kicks with the second one clipping Rodriguez. Side kick to the body from Waterson looks like it hurts Rodriguez, but she stays calm and then hits Waterson with a big right hand of her own. Waterson finally goes for the takedown but Rodriguez stuffs it and lands a nice body shot. Another big body shot and left hook from Rodriguez but Waterson replies with a right hand. Waterson steps forward and lands a side kick to the body again, but Rodriguez throws a jab and then looks to clinch up. Big knee and head kick from Rodriguez but Waterson keeps moving and the two women go out swinging as the round ends. 49-46 Rodriguez for me. Great fight.

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs Waterson – Prelims predictions

A rather short-notice card finally comes together this weekend when Marina Rodriguez takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event.

After the original main event between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw fell through due to an injury to the former champion, the UFC were left scrambling and managed to throw together two strawweights competing at flyweight to headline the card.

In the co-main event, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will now also face off against a short-notice opponent when Alex Morono replaces Diego Sanchez in the welterweight division. There’s also a big welterweight bout on the card between Geoff Neal and Neil Magny, with both men looking to get back on the winning trail and among the contenders of the division.

Last week at UFC Vegas 25, we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to improve to 302/473 (63.85%) with 133 perfect picks (44.04%).

With a fun 12 fight card ahead of us this weekend, lets look to improve that record starting with the prelims here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Christian Aguilera (14-7) vs Carlston Harris (15-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight bout to open up the card as Christian Aguilera looks to get back on the winning trail against UFC debutant Carlston Harris. Aguilera beat Anthony Ivy on his debut at UFC Vegas 2 via knockout, before being submitted by Sean Brady at UFC Vegas 8 in August, while Harris won his last three including most recently in January via submission.

Aguilera is a striker with a very heavy right hand and good pressure, but his gas tank has given him problems in the past. Against a solid grappler and cardio machine in Harris, that is a bad recipe. Aguilera has got the power to turn a fight around with just one punch but the way Harris shoots in at the hips and holds his opponents down, the opportunities to land that big punch will be few and far between.

Harris should be able to get a takedown and work his top game and search for submissions, but I think he grinds out a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Carlston Harris via Decision

Jun Yong Park (12-4) vs Tafon Nchukwi (5-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A middleweight bout between two relative newcomers to the UFC is next. Park is on a two-fight win streak, with a win over John Phillips on Fight Island 6 most recently while Nchukwi is an undefeated prospect who went the distance for the first time in his UFC debut win over Jamie Pickett at UFC Vegas 17.

Park is a very adept boxer but has shown great wrestling chops in his most recent wins, making him able to dictate where this fight takes place. Nchukwi on the other hand is still very green, with activity on the feet not the best although he does possess great power. Nchukwi has won his last five fights before he’s entered the cage, with his frame just intimidating guys into respecting him way too much.

The skillsets aren’t too indifferent but with Park’s experience and ability to switch it up, I think he’ll come in confident and stick to his game plan of working behind the jab and mixing in takedowns to get the decision.
PICK – Jun Yong Park via Decision

PRELIMS

Ryan Benoit (10-7) vs Zarrukh Adashev (3-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight bout between two guys who have lost their last two in a row. Benoit has fought a bunch of top level competition in the UFC, but his most recent defeats came against Heili Alateng and Tim Elliott at Fight Island 1 last summer. Adashev on the other hand is a weird one, currently 0-2 in the UFC, losing to Tyson Nam in 32 seconds at UFC Vegas 2 and Su Madaerji at Fight Island 8 in January.

Benoit is an okay striker with decent best takedowns, but he has great cardio and absolutely never gives in. Adashev is a brilliant kickboxer who hasn’t had the rub of the green with opponents, who have had him outgunned in size. Adashev has good power of his own too and has won two of his three victories via knockout. Benoit has good power in his hands and has a much better ability of mixing the fight up to make it happen in different places.

It should be a high energy fight between the two but I think Benoit is able to mix it up enough to take a close decision.
PICK – Ryan Benoit via Decision

Ludovit Klein (17-2) vs Mike Trizano (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A hugely fun fight coming up at 145lbs here as kickboxing demon Ludovit Klein takes on former Ultimate Fighter winner Mike Trizano. Klein won his UFC debut at UFC 253 with a beautiful knockout against Shane Young, while Trizano returns after almost exactly two years out following a loss to Grant Dawson.

Klein has brilliant striking and has won each of his last three fights via head kick, but also has good submissions on the mat too. Trizano is a good kickboxer on his own accord, but also has really good takedowns and is a bit more of a physical fighter. If the fight is a clean, technical bout then Klein will eat him alive but if Trizano can make it ugly and mix it up he has a path for victory.

Overall though, I think Klein’s stopping power just seems to be the biggest difference between the two. He has good takedown defence, nasty knees and elbows and is a powerful puncher so I think he could get the finish.
PICK – Ludovit Klein via Knockout, Round 2

Ben Rothwell (38-13) vs Phillipe Lins (14-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight banger in the featured prelim slot as the veteran Ben Rothwell takes on Phillipe Lins. Rothwell has lost four of his last six including his most recent bout against Marcin Tybura at UFC Fight Island 5, while Lins has lost his last two to Andrei Arlovski and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 4.

This is not going to be a great fight in all honesty. Rothwell has great power and a good chin but other than the big right hand there’s nothing special going on for him. Lins is a wrestling heavyweight who doesn’t really go for takedowns much and just tends to throw strikes that are there for the sake of being active.

This fight won’t be the most memorable, but Lins got knocked out by Boser who doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Rothwell so I think this one goes a similar way.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 1