Tag Archives: Montel Jackson

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 37: Smith vs Spann – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Montel Jackson (10-2) vs JP Buys (9-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting fight as the highly-rated Montel Jackson takes on JP Buys, who moves up from flyweight after defeat in his debut with the UFC. Jackson has got a 4-2 record in the UFC including a big KO win over Jesse Strader last time out at UFC Vegas 22. Buys was highly rated outside the UFC and joined in March on the same card and got starched by Bruno Silva.

Jackson is a super powerful striker with brilliant submission skills on the mat too. He’s got a vicious right hand and has six knockdowns in the bantamweight division to show just how powerful he is. Buys had excellent wrestling outside the UFC and was tipped for big things, while his kickboxing is pretty decent too.

This is a weird match-up because Jackson is more powerful, a better submission threat and a far bigger man naturally. Buys needs to show some real improvements and get a bit of luck to be successful here and I just don’t see it, because Jackson is very good.
PICK – Montel Jackson via Knockout, Round 2

Nikolas Motta (12-3) vs Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A double UFC debut in this one in what should be an exciting fight in the lightweight division. ‘Iron’ Motta steps in for his first official UFC fight after a win on the Contender Series at the back end of 2020 and on a three-fight win streak. VanCamp is a short-notice replacement for the veteran Jim Miller and makes his debut on a four-fight win streak.

Motta is a Muay-Thai striker with great knees, kicks and a powerful right hand. VanCamp is more of a grappler, with nine submission wins from 13 career stoppage victories but he does like to stand and strike a fair bit. VanCamp likes to switch stances in order to get a better chance on a single leg takedown, but Motta is so incredibly powerful and is happy to throw good combinations and take chances.

Motta’s takedown defence isn’t rubbish and VanCamp’s takedown offence isn’t quite sensational. But with Jim Miller the original opponent, I’m confident in saying he’s not more dangerous on the mat and that will help Motta. Motta will be able to stay away from VanCamp’s takedown and he will land heavy shots in order to get himself a big KO win.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Knockout, Round 1

Rong Zhu (17-4) vs Brandon Jenkins (15-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A super-short notice bout at 155lbs as Rongzhu takes on the incoming Brandon Jenkins from the PFL on less than a week’s notice, after Dakota Bush withdrew. Rongzhu went on a ten-fight win streak before joining the UFC, winning his promotion’s lightweight title but he was beaten in his debut by ‘Kazula’ Vargas at UFC 261. Jenkins won his most recent fight last month against Jason Kilburn via flying knee.

Rongzhu is a very powerful striker with an impressive 11 knockouts inside 15 stoppage wins. He’s so aggressive and his experience for a 21-year-old is incredibly impressive. Jenkins also has some powerful striking, with ten knockouts from 15 career wins while he has decent wrestling in his back pocket also and some decent Muay-Thai.

If this fight was set up in advance, it would be sensational. But because it’s on short-notice, it’s hard to go against someone like Rongzhu. He’s got stoppage power, great cardio and submission skills too. This could potentially be a fight of the night, but I’m backing Rongzhu to get a spectacular KO.
PICK – Rongzhu via Knockout, Round 2

Pannie Kianzad (16-5) vs Raquel Pennington (11-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting bantamweight bout at the top end of the 135lbs women’s division. Kianzad has won four-in-a-row, racking up victories over Jessica Rose-Clark, Bethe Correia, Sijara Eubanks and Alexis Davis most recently at UFC 263. Pennington on the other hand is 2-3 in her last five, but secured a dominant win over Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 3.

Kianzad is a solid kickboxer with really sharp hands and good takedown defence, while Pennington will be looking to secure a clinch against the cage, slow the momentum and volume down before looking to make the fight very boring and just control positions rather than too much damage.

Kianzad will need to use her volume and power in this fight and Pennington will be keen to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’ll be a fight that won’t have many moments to look back on but in all honesty I think Kianzad has the ability to use her footwork and land enough to scrape a close decision.
PICK – Pannie Kianzad via Decision

Mike Rodriguez (11-6) vs Tafon Nchukwi (5-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Featured prelim bout between two interestingly rated light heavyweights. Rodriguez is 1-3 and 1 no contest in his last five fights, losing his last two to Ed Herman and Danilo Marques at UFC Vegas 18 via submission. Nchukwi started well in the UFC, beating Jamie Pickett at UFC Vegas 17 before moving down to middleweight and getting absolutely dominated by Jun Yong Park at UFC Vegas 26.

Rodriguez is a good boxer with solid cardio and good power, but his striking is in keeping with his ‘Slow’ moniker. Nchukwi is an incredibly powerful kickboxer, but he has shown tremendous cardio issues whenever asked to grapple and seemingly just gets completely lost on the mat. That doesn’t really help Rodriguez in this one, who’s ideal path is in the striking realm where he is realistically outmatched here.

Nchukwi has scary one-punch power and is patient despite his lack of experience. Nchukwi will stay patient from range and land short strikes, before exploding at some point in the first round and turning Rodriguez’s lights out and likely ending his UFC tenure.
PICK – Tafon Nchukwi via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs Holland – Results (Highlights)

** Gregor Gillespie vs Brad Riddell was cancelled on fight day due to COVID-19 protocols and will be rescheduled for a later date.**

** Julija Stoliarenko was withdrawn from her fight with Julia Avila on medical advice after fainting twice during the weigh-ins.**

THE CARD CONTINUES WITH TEN FIGHTS.


Bruno Silva def JP Buys via Knockout, Round 2 (2:56)

First shot of the fight is a kick from Silva that lands straight on the cup and the referee pauses the fight immediately. Silva throws a hard calf kick once they resume and follows it with a right hand, but Buys comes forward. Buys throws a punch and Silva tries to push him away but a thumb catches Buys in the eye and the referee pauses the fight again. Silva lands a stiff right hand once they restart again ad then Buys lands a nice left hand, before Silva hits a front kick to the body. Buys pulls guard as he closes the distance and starts working for submissions, but Silva very good from the top and lands some nice ground and pound while stifling the transitions. Buys manages to scramble back to his feet and then looks to lock in a kimura that Silva just about defends, but Buys gets himself in a more dominant position against the cage in a clinch. They separate and then Silva lands a big right uppercut that definitely gets Buys’ attention. Buys looks for a takedown as the round ends but it’s denied and Silva lands a spinning back fist that rocks him on the buzzer. 10-9 Silva.

Buys comes out more aggressive in the second round, throwing some head kicks and doubling his jab but he slips when throwing a kick and then Silva gets on top of him. Silva throws some nice strikes on the ground but Buys does well to get back to his feet well. He’s starting to hunt Silva who’s slowing down a bit, but Silva still has the power advantage. Buys lands a huge elbow as they break on the clinch and Silva is hurt. Both men start swinging and Silva lands a beautiful pull right-hand that drops Buys! He goes for the ground and pound and hurts Buys again but he’s able to get up and move away. Silva stalks him again and lands a big right hand again that drops Buys once more and the referee waves the fight off! Huge win for Silva!

Montel Jackson def Jesse Strader via Knockout, Round 1 (1:58)

Patient start from both fighters as they circle, trade jabs and feint. The two clinch up together in the centre and Strader lands some nice knees to the body but Jackson counters with a big right hand that drops Strader! He looks to land ground and pound but Strader gets back up and Jackson stays patient. Jackson continues to come forward and lands a nice left-right combo that drops Strader again and then he stands over him, lands some vicious ground and pound and the referee steps in to wave it off. Impressive win from Jackson!

Trevin Giles def Roman Dolidze via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Strong leg kicks to start the fight from Dolidze, as Giles stays calm in the middle and looks to work his way into striking range. Giles lands a nice head kick with speed, but Dolidze continues with the heavy calf kicks. Giles lands a nice, strong right hand before Dolidze throws a left and then a spinning-back fist with his right. Giles goes in for a punch but Dolidze changes levels perfectly and gets a takedown with relative ease. Giles works his way up to the feet but Dolidze keeps a body lock against the cage and throws plenty of knees to the body and to the thighs to see out the round. 10-9 Dolidze.

Giles comes out in the second round with a huge right hand to wobble Dolidze immediately, but Dolidze gets back to the low kicks. Giles is throwing heavy shots and lands a big left hook, overhand right. Big shots land from Giles again and then Dolidze changes levels and starts looking for a leg lock submission. Giles defends it by throwing some huge strikes to Dolidze’s face, but he’s still in danger. Dolidze finally lets go and they scramble back to the feet, with Dolidze getting another body lock and seeing out the round with knees to the thighs again. 19-19, all to fight for now.

Dolidze comes out in the third with some low kicks and a high kick, then a nice right hand. Giles threatening with his right hand and then thumps one down the pipe that drops Dolidze! Giles looks for a finish but Dolidze clinches up and then starts rolling for submissions and takedowns to recover and ends up on top. Giles works his way back to the feet with a minute to go and Dolidze’s nose is bleeding and causing him problems. Giles goes for a big right hand again and the two clinch against the cage, before Dolidze falls on top of him and sees out the round from top position. Very close fight, I edge it 29-28 to Dolidze.

Grant Dawson def Leonardo Santos via Knockout, Round 3 (4:59)

Nice fast paced start to the fight from both guys as Santos lands some nice low kicks and threatens with his right hand too. Dawson throws a couple of head kicks and starts faking the level change, throwing an overhand right behind it. One of those overhands lands clean and Santos’ legs go from under him, then Dawson goes straight in for a takedown against the cage. He tries to lift Santos but the Brazilian defends it well and they continue to battle against the cage. Santos with a beautiful outside trip and throw to end up on top, but Dawson works his way back to his feet quickly and gets back into a dominant position against the cage. The two continue their clinch battle until the end of the round. 10-9 Dawson for me, but only just. Could go either way.

Good start to the second round once again from both fighters, with both guys willing to stand in front of each other and exchange. Dawson lands a couple of solid right hands that get Santos’ attention, then the Brazilian throws a body kick that lands straight on the cup to cause a pause in the action. Dawson lands some nice leg kicks as the restart, but Santos backing him up against the cage and letting his hands go. Dawson changes levels and clinches up against the cage in a solid position, looking for the takedown but Santos defends well. Referee separates them for inactivity and Santos walks forward again, forcing Dawson to shoot. Santos sprawls and ends up taking the back of Dawson and landing some nice shots but Dawson gets back up to end the round. 20-18 Dawson for me but could well be 20-18 the other way or 19-19.

Final round and Dawson comes out looking for a knockout, with big hooks and trying to put some punches together. Dawson shoots in for a single-leg takedown but Santos defends it brilliantly. Dawson continues to push for a takedown in the clinch against the cage and eventually switches to the back and is able to lift and slam Santos down. Dawson sitting in half guard is firing some ground and pound out but Santos is blocking a lot of the strikes, so not much damage being done. Dawson continues to hold Santos down on the ground as we enter the final minute, landing some nice ground and pound strikes from the top. More pressure from Dawson who stands up in the final seconds and starts to thump Santos in the face and knocks him unconscious!! Oh my God what a finish!

Macy Chiasson def Marion Reneau via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Cagey start to the fight from both ladies, as Chiasson keeps her distance with Reneau looking to land some leg kicks early. Chiasson starting to come forward and lands a couple of nice jabs but still looking quite cagey. Reneau lands a nice left hand and follows that up with a quick flurry as she gets on the inside. Chiasson backs Reneau against the cage and swings a hook but Reneau using some nice footwork to escape. Nice left hand from Chiasson lands and then both ladies exchange a body kick each before they clinch up against the cage. Reneau lands a couple of nice knees then slips to the back to end the round on the attack. 10-9 Reneau.

Second round start and Chiasson being more aggressive from the jump. An exchange in the middle of the cage sees Chiasson land a big left hand that busts up Reneau’s nose immediately and forces her on the back foot. Chiasson throws a combo against the cage but Reneau does well to tie her up in a clinch to try and recover, but Chiasson starts throwing some nice shots to the face as they clinch up. Big elbow from Chiasson as they continue to battle for position in the clinch. Chiasson lands a body kick as they break from the clinch that hurts Reneau and she continues to come forward again looking for a finish. Reneau charges in but Chiasson slips and lands a nice one-two to the chin, then Reneau changes levels and shoots for the takedown. Chiasson battling off her back and attacks a leg lock, then uses it to sweep Reneau and end the round on top. 19-19, great round for Chiasson.

Fast start from both ladies to the final round as they both look for a potential finish. Chiasson doing well to maintain her distance and range on the feet, landing her straight punches but Reneau is doing her best to continue to be a threat. Reneau shoots in for a takedown against the cage and switches to the back, but Chiasson is able to fight it off and keep it on the feet. Reneau comes forward with punches as Chiasson uses her footwork to avoid damage, but Reneau battles for a clinch position against the cage. Reneau gets the fight down but Chiasson is able to get guard quickly and then get back to her feet well. They clinch up again and Chiasson is then able to get a takedown fo her own and starts looking for ground and pound to end the fight on top. 29-28 Chiasson for me.

MAIN CARD

Tai Tuivasa def Harry Hunsucker via Knockout, Round 1 (0:49)

Fast start as Tuivasa comes out with some heavy low kicks that immediately make Hunsucker uncomfortable. Hunsucker lands a big right hand, then Tuivasa responds with a leg kick that makes him grimace in pain. Tuivasa lands a big right hook on the chin that drops him, follows it up with some ground and pound and that’s all she wrote. Big first round KO!

Adrian Yanez def Gustavo Lopez via Knockout, Round 3 (0:27)

Slow start from both guys as they throw out lots of feints and feelers early on to get their range. Lopez wings a wild overhand that just misses, as Yanez throws a calf kick while he looks to find his range. Yanez lands a lovely right hand as Lopez looks to close the distance, then snaps a straight right out there again that lands. Lopez throws a double jab that misses but then throws another one of those wild swings but this time it clips Yanez. Nice left straight and short right hook lands clean on Lopez that forces him backwards. Yanez starting to counter now and rocks Lopez with a lovely one-two down the pipe. Another lands and Lopez is hurt but Yanez stays patient and the round ends. 10-9 Yanez.

Yanez has taken control of the fight now as he stands in the centre and allows Lopez to circle on the outside, showing great patience. Yanez still looking for that one-two and it’s landing well once again. Yanez feinting then rips a beautiful shot that drops Yanez! He goes for the finish but Lopez looks to shoot to recover, but Yanez defends it perfectly. He goes for a flying knee that just misses then exchanges in the pocket with Lopez before easing back up once again. Great head kick from Yanez lands, before Lopez responds with a calf kick. Excellent round for Yanez. 20-18.

Lopez comes out in the third knowing he needs a finish and looks for a big swing. Yanez counters a jab with a pull right-hook that knocks Lopez out cold! What a knockout! Yanez is a star.

Montserrat Ruiz def Cheyanne Buys via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)

Very quick start to the fight as Buys and Ruiz meet in the middle, exchange a wild flurry before Ruiz gets hold of Buys against the cage. She uses her physicality to drag Buys to the ground in a scarf hold like grip and starts to throw rabbit punches from the top. Buys tries to escape with different transitions but the entire round plays out with Ruiz holding that position and throwing those short punches. Buys escapes with seconds remaining and tries to take the back, but too late. 10-9 Ruiz.

Second round and Buys comes out hard once again, landing a big flurry of punches and a head kick too. Ruiz threatening with a left-hand but Buys doing well to avoid, until Ruiz closes in for a clinch and looks for a takedown. She goes for the same position again, but Buys defends it for a second until Ruiz grabs the head and takes her down once more. Ruiz continues with the short rabbit punches and looks to isolate Buys’ arm between her legs but Buys is able to escape momentarily only to get thrown once again into the same position. Buys escapes quicker this time and ends the round in full mount raining down punches. 20-18 Ruiz.

Big right hand from Buys lands hard on Ruiz, who looks much slower and more tired in this final round. Buys is standing in the centre and trying to pick her shots, but not quite enough urgency yet from her considering she’s comfortably down in the fight. Buys throws a flurry of punches then a knee as Ruiz looks to clinch her. Big straight right hand from Buys lands and then Ruiz goes immediately for the head and arm throw and gets it first time. Buys is able to escape and take the back, then looks like she’s going for a calf slicer submission but Ruiz reverses the position and ends up on top to see out the round. 29-28, but it’s a clear Ruiz decision.

Max Griffin def Song Kenan via Knockout, Round 1 (2:20)

A few feelers to start the bout as they trade leg kicks and jabs before Griffin lands a right hook and then shoots in for a takedown. Song defends it well and is able to step away from the cage and throws a head kick that just misses. Griffin lands another strong calf kick that gets a reaction from Song, but he responds with a couple of heavy body kicks. Griffin steps forward with a right straight that wobbles him and knocks him off balance, then follows it up with a one-two that face plants Song! He lands one more shot before the referee gets in and waves it off. Huge win for Griffin, big knockout!

Derek Brunson def Kevin Holland via Unanimous Decision (49-45, 49-46 x2)

Confident start from Holland as he comes out throwing kicks and trying to check his range and distance. Holland slips as he throws another kick though and Brunson launches onto him and takes top position immediately. Brunson landing big strikes from the top while Holland looks to swing round on his hips for a potential submission, but Brunson defends well and rains down more punches. Brunson is throwing elbows from the top but Holland is blocking the impact for the most part. Brunson goes for some more ground and pound and Holland escapes back up to his feet as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Brunson.

Brunson comes out meaning business and closes the distance quickly and early but Holland throws kicks and long strikes once again. Brunson goes for a trip but Holland denies the attempt and lands some huge punches that have got Brunson rocked! Holland goes for the kill but Brunson clinches up and then gets a trip to take the fight down to the mat and he controls the round from there, attempting a head and arm choke and landing some ground and pound. 20-18 Brunson.

Third round starts in a similar way, with Holland striking well and landing clean but Brunson’s wrestling is too good for him and he’s getting takedowns at will. He gets hold of him again and gets the trip to sit in the full guard, with Holland seemingly accepting bottom position and looking for strikes from his back. Brunson looks absolutely exhausted on top but Holland not really taking advantage of that as the clock winds down. Brunson throws some ground and pound but it’s really laboured and he remains on top for the remainder of the round. 30-27 Brunson.

Holland comes out a bit more serious than the previous three rounds and looks to land straight shots against a tired Brunson. A couple of straight rights land well from Holland, but Brunson keeps trying to grab hold of him to get the fight to the ground again. Holland falls into the clinch after landing a right hand and Brunson now gets a body lock and takes Holland down into top position. Ground and pound from Brunson as we enter the final minute but Holland tries to get up and Brunson does well to grab hold of him again against the cage and see out the round. 40-36 Brunson.

Final round and Holland knows he needs a finish. Holland goes for an axe-kick that just misses and lands some nice right hands before Brunson clinches up again. Holland throws a couple of knees in the clinch and then trips Brunson to end up on top! Holland throws some decent elbow strikes and some punches before Brunson kicks him off and then shoots in for an immediate takedown of his own which he gets. Short elbows and ground and pound from Brunson as he ends the round standing.

UFC Vegas 22: Brunson vs Holland – Prelims predictions

The middleweight division picks up this weekend as Derek Brunson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event of UFC Vegas 22.

In a big month in the division, with six of the top contenders facing off against each other, ‘Trailblazer’ looks to make it six wins in a row after going 5-0 in 2020 by going up against the middleweight gatekeeper.

Elsewhere on the card, Gregor Gillespie makes his return to the cage for the first time since the vicious head-kick knockout against Kevin Lee back in 2019 at UFC 244, to take on the kickboxing mastermind in Brad Riddell in the co-main event.

Last week at UFC Vegas 21, it was a strange card that saw two no decisions meaning our picks got cut down to just 11. We went 6/11 on the night with four perfect picks, to take our total to 256/406 (63.05%) with 115 perfect picks (44.92%).

On a 12 fight card this week, lets see if we can improve that starting with the prelims here.


Julia Avila (8-2) vs Julija Stoliarenko (9-5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Two women looking to get back into the win column in the women’s bantamweight division as ‘Raging Panda’ Julia Avila takes on former Invicta fighter Julija Stoliarenko. Avila started her UFC career with two wins against Pannie Kianzad and Gina Mazany in just 22 seconds, before losing to Sijara Eubanks at UFC Vegas 10. Stoliarenko was on a five fight win streak coming into her debut against Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 5, but lost a decision.

Avila is a wonderful stand-up fighter, who has good power in her hands and good takedown defence. With that said, Stoliarenko has a fantastic ground game which includes eight armbar submission wins in her career. If Stoliarenko is able to get the fight down to the ground then it’s highly unlikely the fight sees an end, despite Avila’s skills. While the fight is standing, Avila has the advantage and I think he’s overall skillset will help her to avoid the takedowns and outland Stoliarenko on the feet – but she will be a threat for the entire three rounds.
PICK – Julia Avila via Decision

Bruno Silva (10-5-2) vs JP Buys (9-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An exciting UFC debut for South African prospect JP Buys as he takes on Bruno Silva, who looks to earn his first win in the organisation at the fourth attempt. Silva lost his first fight to Khalid Taha, but it was overturned to a no contest after a positive drug test, before losing to David Dvorak and Tagir Ulanbekov on Fight Island most recently. Buys is on a five-fight win streak coming into the UFC, including a submission win on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Both these guys are very solid wrestlers, with Buys arguably having the advantage there. With that said, Buys has struggled in the past with adversity and Silva loves to throw a calf kick. With his own strengths in wrestling Silva could provide good resistance to his takedowns and start to drain the cardio of the ‘Young Savage’. Despite that though, Buys does have the wrestling advantage and those kicks that Silva throws will open the takedown up for him and I expect he’ll be able to get the takedown and control for long stretches on top for a win.
PICK – JP Buys via Decision

Montel Jackson (9-2) vs Jesse Strader (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight as Jesse Strader makes his UFC debut against Montel Jackson. Strader comes into the company on a two-fight win streak having won four of his five fights by knockout and his only defeat coming to Marcelo Rojo who debuted last week. Jackson has five UFC bouts under his belt and a positive 3-2 record but lost his last scrap to Brett Johns on Fight Island back in July.

Strader is sure to be a fan-favourite, because he loves to walk forward and force opponents to stand and trade with him. He rips the body so well, is always in your face and just wears his opponents down with firrepower. Jackson on the other hand is a powerful striker too but has great wrestling and that is arguably his best path to victory. Jackson will look to put you on the ground and wear you out but he’s more than comfortable landing strikes too and considering Strader hasn’t fought since 2019 he should get a comfortable win.
PICK – Montel Jackson via Decision

Trevin Giles (13-2) vs Roman Dolidze (8-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun fight in the middleweight division as two prospects clash on the undercard. Giles has won two in a row, defeating James Krause and then knocking out Bevon Lewis at UFC Vegas 13, while Dolidze has defeated Khadis Ibragimov and John Allan in his two UFC bouts.

Dolidze is moving down to middleweight for this fight on short notice, which makes this all the more intriguing. He is a tremendous grappler, with super submission skills and really good control while also having some power in his hands with wild striking technique. Giles on the other hand is a bit of an all-rounder, but he doesn’t really stand out in any department. He’s struggled with good grapplers in the past and if Dolidze decides to go with a judo-heavy attack he will win this comfortably. If he doesn’t, Giles should have a striking advantage and a speed advantage but with such a hole in his grappling, the path to victory is right there for Dolidze.
PICK – Roman Dolidze via Decision

Leonardo Santos (18-4-1) vs Grant Dawson (16-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very intriguing lightweight fight between the veteran Leonardo Santos as the hot prospect Grant Dawson. Santos hasn’t lost a fight since 2009 and is 7-0-1 in the UFC including a KO win over Kevin Lee back in 2015 and a decision win over Roman Bogatov at UFC 251. Dawson is Khabib-esque in his gameplan with grinding ground and pound and phenomenal wrestling. Dawson has won seven in a row, including four in the UFC with a decision win over Nad Narimani on Fight Island last year.

Santos is a power puncher with stunning submission skills, winning half of his fights by tap-out. Dawson is a violent wrestler who looks to pound you out after he gets the takedown, but he does sometimes get a little carried away with shooting straight in for takedowns. Santos has a huge right hand that can put Dawson’s lights out but at 41-years-old, his cardio isn’t what it used to be and if Dawson survives the early KO threat then it should be a walk in the park for ‘KGD’.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Knockout, Round 3

Marion Reneau (9-6-1) vs Macy Chiasson (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Two women at the complete opposite ends of their career meet in the bantamweight division a couple of weeks later than originally scheduled. Reneau has lost her last three fights in a row, being well beaten by all of Cat Zingano, Yana Kunitskaya and Raquel Pennington at UFC Vegas 3. Chiasson is 4-1 in the UFC after winning the Ultimate Fighter then beating Gina Mazany, Sarah Moras and Shanna Young, with a loss to Lina Lansberg in the middle too.

Reneau is a jiu-jitsu murderer, but her wrestling is absolutely pants. She’s not the best striker in the world by any stretch but she can hold her own and will look to get the fight down quickly to work her submission game. Chiasson is a striker with very good clinch work and good wrestling and should be comfortable enough on the feet to out-land Reneau. With that said, she could go for the takedown to work from top position and so long as she doesn’t go wild and get caught, I expect her to win pretty easily.
PICK – Macy Chiasson via Decision