Tag Archives: Nikolas Motta

UFC Vegas 60: Sandhagen vs Yadong – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas after the wild ride that was UFC 279 for a huge bantamweight main event.

Former title challenger Cory Sandhagen headlines the card against hot prospect Song Yadong, in his first main event and a real step up in competition.

A stacked 14-fight card will see several fights with some good debutants and some impressive prospects a chance to make themselves a name in the UFC.

Last time out at UFC 279 we went 8/13 with three perfect picks for the night to move to 723/1119 (64.61%) with 305 perfect picks (42.19%). You can see our full picks history here.

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


Nikolas Motta (12-4) vs Cameron VanCamp (15-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fun lightweight scrap to open the card here. Motta suffered defeat in his UFC debut when he got KO’d by the legendary Jim Miller back in February, while VanCamp suffered the same fate against Andre Fialho at UFC 274 in his debut.

Motta is a counter striker who likes to use pressure to force his opponents into decisions they don’t want to make, before landing bombs of his own to starch opponents. He has won eight of 12 via knockout. VanCamp on the other hand is a striker too, but he has rather unorthodox technique and likes to use it to set up his solid submission game which has seen him earn nine tap out wins in his career.

Despite both guys getting knocked out last time they were in the cage, this fight tends to lean towards Motta’s style. He is aggressive with his strikes and has good takedown defence to keep the fight standing. VanCamp will look to create space using his size, but I expect Motta to be able to slip and counter to score a big knockout and get into the win column.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Knockout, Round 2

Tony Gravely (23-7) vs Javid Basharat (12-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An exciting bantamweight clash up next between two fun guys. Gravely has won his last two after claiming a decision over Saimon Oliveira (UFC 270) before a knockout win over Johnny Munhoz Jr back in June. Basharat is an unbeaten fighter who claimed a decision win over Trevin Jones back in March in his debut.

Gravely is a very underrated 135-pounder with heavy hands and excellent wrestling in his back pocket and plenty of experience. Basharat is a super well-rounded fighter who has great striking and a decent submission game too, splitting his wins 6/5 between submissions and knockouts. This is a big step up in competition for him though and he’s never faced a wrestler as good as Gravely.

If Basharat is capable of moving well and stuffing takedowns against a guy that he has a decent size advantage on, then he will be proving that he’s ready for ranked opponents in my eyes. Gravely will be a phenomenal test, but I think he could be more eye catching with his strikes to claim a close decision win.
PICK – Javid Basharat via Decision



Mariya Agapova (10-3) vs Gillian Robertson (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting women’s flyweight bout next. Agapova came into the UFC as a wrecking ball but has lost two of her last three, including a submission loss to Maryna Moroz at UFC 272 last time out. Robertson on the other hand is highly rated, but has lost three of her last four in the UFC dropping decisions to Taila Santos (UFC Vegas 17), Miranda Maverick (UFC 260) and JJ Aldrich most recently. She did submit Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 269 though.

Agapova is a powerful striker with great speed and movement in her arsenal, but big struggles with the grappling side of her game. Robertson is the opposite, a brilliant grappler with trouble on the feet against top strikers. So obviously, this fight will be exciting. Agapova will want to keep the fight standing and use her boxing combinations, while Robertson will try to wrestle and drag her to the mat to work her jiu-jitsu game.

Ultimately this is a question about whether or not Agapova is powerful enough to get a finish on the feet before she gets taken down, because she will get taken down. Robertson looked off against Aldrich but she’s shown enough in the past to convince me she can get this to the mat, and then she’ll work to get the back of a panicking Agapova and eventually take the neck for a choke.
PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1

Trey Ogden (15-5) vs Daniel Zellhuber (12-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight scrap now closes out this section of the card. Ogden came into the UFC on a three-fight win streak, but suffered a split decision loss to Jordan Leavitt in his debut last time out. Zellhuber is an undefeated fighter, who earned a contract a year ago on the Contender Series thanks to a decision win.

Ogden is a wrestler with good cardio but he showed in his debut that his striking defence is essentially non-existent, especially when it comes to low kicks. That’s a big problem in this fight, as Zellhuber is a powerful striker with great footwork, cardio, crushing kicks and good defensive grappling. Stylistically it’s a really tough match up, but Zellhuber has the advantages.

“Golden Boy” has got good volume and his length should see him control the range, meaning he will be able to pick Ogden off with more leg kicks and eventually hurt Ogden with his combinations for a solid decision win.
PICK – Daniel Zellhuber via Decision

UFC Vegas 48: Walker vs Hill – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this week for a card that has been littered with changes on short notice.

Originally scheduled to be headlined by Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, that fight was forced to be moved to UFC 272 due to visa issues and will now be headlined by Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill.

It’s not the greatest of cards, with the only ranked fighters scheduled to compete in the main event but there are some decent fights expected to take place.

Last week at UFC 271 we had a great night, correctly predicting 11/14 fights with seven perfect picks which takes our picks totals to 539/840 (64.17%) with 231 perfect picks (42.86%).

Lets see if we can improve that here and after starting with the early prelims and rounding up our prelims picks here, we move to the main card now.


Joaquin Buckley (13-4) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An absolute slugfest coming up in the middleweight division here. Buckley bounced back from a head-kick KO defeat to Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7 by KO’ing Antonio Arroyo back in September. Alhassan on the other hand snapped a three-fight losing streak in his last fight, by KO’ing Alessio Di Chirico via head-kick in just 17 seconds. MMA, eh?

Both of these fighters are powerhouses with tremendous knockout power in their hands and legs and put their opponents’ lights out. Buckley is a good wrestler, but he never uses it, instead opting to box with good head movement and keeping a good pace throughout. Alhassan is a patient striker with real one-shot power, but he tends to struggle outside of the first round and his cardio isn’t good at all. That spells problems to me.

While this fight is anyone’s to win in the first round, the longer it goes the more it suits Buckley. He has the cardio advantage and he’s shown that his power can carry through the full 15 minutes, so I expect him to drag it out a little and then secure a big knockout later in the fight.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Jim Miller (33-16) vs Nikolas Motta (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Legend vs prospect in this lightweight division fight. Jim Miller will extend his record as the man with the most fights in the UFC, coming in on a 2-2 run in his last four with a knockout win over Erick Gonzalez most recently. Motta on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak and makes his UFC debut in this fight following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Miller is one of the best submission artists the UFC has ever seen, with great wrestling and incredible jiu-jitsu which has earned him 18 submission wins in his career. Motta on the other hand has got incredible hand speed with his boxing-heavy approach with a sprawl-and-brawl strategy usually in place for most of his fights. Miller will look to test that in order to try and land and big strike or wrap up a position on the ground, but if he can’t get it done early he could be in trouble.

Motta will likely play it relatively cautiously early on in order to allow Miller to potentially blow himself out, and then use his speed and superior striking to pile up damage in the later rounds. It could end up being a “comeback” win, but I expect Motta to never really be in too much danger and come away with a decision win.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Decision

Parker Porter (12-6) vs Alan Baudot (8-2) – Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights will be in Las Vegas for this fight card folks. Porter is on a two-fight win streak with decisions over Josh Parisian and Chase Sherman in his most recent outings, while Baudot was KO’d by Tom Aspinall in his debut at UFC Fight Island 5 before a defeat to Rodrigo Nascimento was overturned to a no contest.

Porter is a deceptively technical striker with good movement and speed, despite being 6 foot 7 and 260lbs. Baudot hasn’t shown much at all in the UFC so far, but he has got some decent power in his striking if I had to find something. This fight is likely to stay on the feet for the entirety of the bout, with Porter to use his jab and leg kicks to chip away at his defences.

Ultimately, this fight won’t be fun and I doubt there will be a finish because neither man is particularly known for being a power puncher. Porter has the cardio to go 15 minutes and I expect he will just piece him up throughout and earn a win.
PICK – Parker Porter via Decision



Kyle Daukaus (10-2) vs Jamie Pickett (13-6) – (Catchweight/195lbs)

A very intriguing short-notice catchweight fight between these two middleweight fighters. Daukaus lost two of his first three UFC bouts before a clash of heads before he tapped out Kevin Holland saw his last fight end in a no contest at UFC Vegas 38. Pickett steps in on short-notice on a two-fight win streak, with a decision against Joseph Holmes at UFC Vegas 46 last month.

Daukaus is a wrestler who looks to use his looping strikes to set up takedowns and then control his opponents on the ground for victories. Pickett on the other hand is a solid kickboxer with good Muay Thai skills and excellent power in his striking. That said, Pickett has found himself wrestling a lot since joining the UFC and if he does that here then he is likely to struggle to claim a victory.

Pickett is the more technical striker of the two, but Daukaus is the more powerful of the two and is certainly the one who can dictate where this fight takes place. Add in a five-year age gap too, I expect Daukaus to be able to get this fight to the ground and eventually take the back to secure a rear-naked choke with his relentlessness.
PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Submission, Round 2

Johnny Walker (18-6) vs Jamahal Hill (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A banger at light heavyweight in the main event, where someone is likely to go to sleep. Walker was beaten in his last fight by Thiago Santos in a very cagey fight back at UFC Vegas 38, making it three defeats in his last four. Hill on thje other hand bounced back from the first defeat of his career to Paul Craig at UFC 263 by knocking out Jimmy Crute in just 38 seconds last time out at UFC Vegas 44 in December.

Both of these fighters are hugely explosive knockout artists with legitimate one-punch power in their hands. Walker is incredibly unorthodox with the way he strikes, and he uses his kicks well from the outside. Hill however is a decent wrestler with lightning fast strikes with either hand and legitimate one-punch power. This is a fight that is similar to the Santos and Walker bout, but Hill is far more unlikely to be hesitant when it comes to pull the trigger.

Hill will walk forward and cut the cage off to Walker, which narrows down his opportunities to be wild with his attacks and opens up Hill’s window to land a big strike. It may take a round to warm-up, but I don’t think we’ll need the extra ten minutes this bout has been given a Hill earns a big knockout win.
PICK – Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 2

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