Tag Archives: Paul Craig

UFC London: Blaydes vs Aspinall – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to London’s O2 Arena for the second time this year for a stacked card, headlined by a heavyweight duel between top five big-men Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall.

We’ll also see the likes of Paddy Pimblett, Molly McCann, Mason Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Paul Craig and Muhammad Mokaev competing in an event sure to provide plenty of fireworks.

Last week at UFC Long Island we went 8/12 with three perfect picks, moving us up to 685/1032 (64.34%) with 284 perfect picks (42.77%). You can check out our full history of picks here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and then the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Paul Craig (16-4-1) vs Volkan Oezdemir (17-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Big time scrap between supreme grappler and powerhouse striker opens up this main card. Craig has won his last four in a row and is unbeaten in six, with all five wins coming via finish. Oezdemir has lost his last two in a row, getting slept by Jiri Prochazka at UFC 251 before dropping a decision to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 267 most recently.

Craig is an absolute beast when it comes to the jiu-jitsu game, with an incredible aggressive guard and unorthdox submission skills. Oezdemir is a poor grappler, but he earned his “No Time” nickname from putting people’s lights out quickly and with one punch. This honestly depends on how generous the referee is feeling, because Craig often likes to take a bunch of strikes on the ground before wrapping in a submission when his opponent gets excited.

Oezdemir is powerful enough to put him out early though, and his takedown defence is solid enough to keep this standing. But Craig tends to be incredibly aggressive with his grappling and if he gets into a position of strength on the ground then Oezdemir will be in trouble. It’ll be very exciting, but I expect Craig to have the fans behind him and grab another amazing submission win.
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 1

Molly McCann (12-4) vs Hannah Goldy (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The owner of the knockout of the year so far is Molly McCann and that’s undisputed. McCann earned a stunning spinning back elbow to beat Luana Carolina last time out to make it back-to-back wins, while Goldy got her first UFC win with a first round armbar over Emily Whitmire last time out.

McCann is a boxer who was once a national champion and had the shortest reach in the entire UFC, meaning she had to learn to use her grappling and wrestling skills to close the distance. That was until Goldy signed, and she now is the owner of the shortest reach in the UFC. Goldy is a decent striker too but prefers to grind her opponents against the cage and try to be physical. She’s in trouble here though.

“Meatball” isn’t the biggest puncher in the world, but she’s incredibly aggressive and her pressure is relentless throughout 15 minutes. Her ability to get back to her feet will suit her here and using her reach and boxing skills she should be able to control this fight for the most part to earn yet another win, although a finish is pretty unlikely on this occasion.
PICK – Molly McCann via Decision

Nikita Krylov (27-9) vs Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big time light heavyweight scrap between two highly experienced fighters. Krylov has lost three of his last four fights but all against elite competition, with Glover Teixeira, Magomed Ankalaev and Paul Craig all beating him soundly. He did claim a win over Johnny Walker in the middle of that run though. Gustafsson was once considered one of the best 205 pounders to never win gold when he retired, but since coming back he’s not had fun. He’s lost his comeback fight at heavyweight when Fabricio Werdum submitted him at UFC Fight Island 3.

Krylov is a brilliantly powerful puncher, but he’s also a solid grappler with good wrestling and top control. Gustafsson on the other hand is more of a boxer with great combinations and hand speed, although he’s shown his wrestling capabilities too – becoming the first man to ever take down Jon Jones. That said though, he’s five years out since his last win in the octagon.

Granted two years of that he was out of competition, but he’s 0-3 in his last 3 and he’s been beaten handily in all of those fights. In his prime I would expect Gustafsson to be able to string everything together and probably even claim a knockout. But this version of Gustafsson is slower and less durable and Krylov has been in there for a while against the very best, so I expect him to land another big win for his record.
PICK – Nikita Krylov via Decision



Paddy Pimblett (18-3) vs Jordan Leavitt (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The people’s main event in the lightweight division as “The Baddy” makes his return the O2. Pimblett has gone 2-0 in the UFC so far, knocking out Luigi Vendramini before submitting Kazulu Vargas last time out. Leavitt is 3-1 in the UFC, winning two in a row with a submission over Matt Sayles and then a decision against Trey Ogden.

Pimblett is a fine striker with good power and speed, but it’s his grappling and jiu-jitsu skills that really set him apart for many fans. Leavitt is a terrific grappler too, with excellent wrestling and strength and great idea for positioning for safety. Against someone like Pimblett, that will come in really handy as he is constantly looking to get the finish at the earliest possible opportunity.

With that said, Leavitt has a good chance of getting control early on when Pimblett is still going through the motions with the crowd and he’ll probably win the first round. But with a few tweaks, Pimblett should be able to land powerful strikes that could drop Leavitt and then sink in a choke to claim a third win and send the crowd wild.
PICK – Paddy Pimblett via Submission, Round 2

Jack Hermansson (22-7) vs Chris Curtis (29-8) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A short notice co-main event in this one, as Chris Curtis steps in for the injured Darren Till. Hermansson suffered defeats to Marvin Vettori and Sean Strickland in two of his last three fights, with a win over Edmen Shahbazyan coming in the middle of that. Curtis meanwhile has gone 3-0 in the UFC, KO’ing Phil Hawes at UFC 268 before KO’ing Brendan Allen (UFC Vegas 44) and then earning a decision over Rodolfo Vieira most recently.

Hermansson is a decent striker but his best fighting comes in the grappling on the mat, with great submissions and vicious ground and pound coming at the end of good wrestling takedowns. Curtis is a top level boxer with excellent low kicks, stunning power and really good takedown defence too. This is a real fairytale for Curtis, who has done nothing but impress in the UFC since his debut. This is a really, really tough fight to call.

Curtis is good enough to keep the fight standing and he’s got better striking without a doubt, but Hermansson is someone who uses his physicality well on his opponents as fights go on. With that said though, Curtis beat a better grappler about a month ago with his takedown defence and counter-striking so it’s hard to see how he doesn’t do it again.
PICK – Chris Curtis via Decision

Curtis Blaydes (16-3) vs Tom Aspinall (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Huge main event with potential title implications on the line in the heavyweight division headlines this card. Blaydes bounced back from a nasty KO loss to Derrick Lewis (UFC Vegas 19) by dominating Jairzinho Rozenstruik and then sleeping Chris Daukaus most recently. Aspinall is 5-0 in the UFC and absolutely dominated Alexander Volkov last time out via a straight arm lock in the first round at UFC London in March.

Blaydes is the best wrestler the heavyweight division has ever seen. He has a huge overhand right and a decent left jab, but everything is set up to change levels and take his opponent down to dominate from top position and land vicious ground and pound. Aspinall is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights we’ve seen, with incredible boxing and hand speed to go with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt too. He really is the total package. That makes this fight super hard to call.

Nobody has been able to stop Blaydes taking them down so far, and I don’t expect Aspinall to stuff a bunch of takedowns in this one either. But on his back he’s dangerous and on the feet he has an absolutely huge advantage with his boxing skills. Blaydes often doesn’t let his opponents up once he gets them down though, but we have seen him fade in five-round fights before when he’s forced to chain takedowns together through the fight. Aspinall has never been dragged into deep waters so we don’t know how he’ll cope, but we do know Blaydes has the capability of being put to sleep when entering for takedowns and Aspinall has the power and speed to counter quickly. Its hard, and I may be a bit bias, but I think Aspinall can get it done.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 4

UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall – Prelims predictions

After a three year absence the UFC returns to London and the O2 Arena for a huge UFC London fight card, headlined by heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall.

A stacked card will see the two heavyweights competing to get title contention with a win, while we’ll also see the likes of Arnold Allen take on Dan Hooker, Paddy Pimblett makes his UK return while Jack Shore, Nathaniel Wood and Muhammad Mokaev also compete too.

In case you’re unaware, we’ve done a list of five things you must not miss from this card too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 50 we went 11/14 with three perfect picks to move to 568/879 (64.62%) with 241 perfect picks (42.43%). You can see our full record here.

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims, we round off our prelims picks here.


Jack Shore (15-0) vs Timur Valiev (18-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Arguably the fight of the night, so no idea why this is all the way down the card like this. Shore is an undefeated talent with a perfect 15-0 record, earning a dominant decision win over Liudvik Sholinian at UFC Vegas 36 most recently while Valiev earned a mightily impressive win over Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 30 in his most recent outing to make it eight wins in his last nine bouts.

Shore is a technical kickboxer with some solid top game too with excellent jiu-jitsu skills too, while Valiev is a speedy striker who has really strong wrestling skills too and has fought a better level of competition. This is an incredibly close match up stylistically and in terms of their current level and could really go either way.

Valiev has the speed edge on the feet and his wrestling is usually good enough to dictate where the bout goes, but Shore will pressure him hard and if he gets on top the likelihood is the round ends with a finish or with him still in that position. Valiev has shown an ability to get KO’d in the past and while Shore doesn’t have that one-punch power himself, the ground-and-pound game will come in handy to secure him a late finish.
PICK – Jack Shore via Knockout, Round 3

Nikita Krylov (27-8) vs Paul Craig (15-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight banger up next as ‘BearJew’ makes a return to the octagon. Krylov has alternated defeats and losses in the UFC with losses against Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira and Magomed Ankalaev most recently at UFC Vegas 20 while he earned wins against Ovince St Preux and Johnny Walker. Craig hasn’t fought since UFC 263, where he smashes Jamahal Hill and got a nasty TKO after pulling guard and dislocating his elbow.

Krylov is a solid offensive fighter with good kickboxing skills, good power in his hands and a decent ground game too. Craig on the other hand is a highly-skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and while he has powerful striking, his home is on the mat. Krylov will want to keep this fight standing as much as possible, but Craig should look to bring it down quickly.

On the feet, Krylov is the more crisp striker and he has got 15 submission wins in his career from the top position but he’s also been defeated five times via tap out. Craig will likely get clipped on the feet, pull guard and eventually work his way to an armbar for yet another brilliant submission win..
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 2



Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-6) vs Sergei Pavlovich (14-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights step up to the plate in this prelim bout between a veteran and a prospect among the big men. Abdurakhimov returned after two-years away to get stomped by Chris Daukaus at UFC 266 last time out, while Pavlovich is on a two-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since October 2019.

‘Abrek’ is a grinding wrestler, with a great sambo background and dominant top game looking to wear on his opponents on the mat. Pavlovich on the other hand is a heavy-handed striker with tremendous power, but some takedown defence issues make this a hard fight to call. Abdurakhimov is happy to take a punch or three to close the distance and get hold of his opponent, but those punches could see the end of the night early on.

Pavlovich’s path to victory is clear; avoid takedowns and strike with speed and power. If he can keep this on the feet then I expect him to land enough clean shots to end this one early and while Abdurakhimov will try hard for the takedown I think he gets dropped on the way in before a quick finish.
PICK – Sergei Pavlovich via Knockout, Round 1

Mike Grundy (12-3) vs Makwan Amirkhani (16-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight scrap rounds off the prelims section of the card between two European fighters. Grundy is on a two-fight losing streak, dropping decisions against Movsar Evloev and then most recently Lando Vannatta at UFC 262. Amirkhani on the other hand has lost each of his last three, dropping decisions against Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk before getting KO’d by Lerone Murphy at UFC 267 most recently.

Grundy is a freestyle wrestler, who looks to use pressure and a big right hand on the feet to set up his takedowns. Amirkhani is a brilliant wrestler also, with excellent submission skills but just about two rounds of cardio in the bank. If it goes to the ground, it’s all about how long they’re there for and who’s on top.

If Amirkhani is on top, then I expect him to be able to work the position before finding a neck or an arm and getting a submission win. If Grundy is on top he will look to wear on Amirkhani and start using big ground and pound on the mat to do damage. With their skills matched up, I’m going to go with the cardio and home crowd advantage of Grundy to drag him through and earn him the victory.
PICK – Mike Grundy via Decision

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Carlos Felipe def Jake Collier via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Good start to the fight from Collier as he uses his speed and volume to land early on Felipe. Felipe starts to walk forward and throws some wild hooks but Collier ducks them and throws a spinning back fist that just misses. Felipe takes the centre and starts working the body, and lands a few left hands too that stumble Collier backwards. Hard leg kicks from Collier as they throw down in the middle for the round to come to an end. 10-9 Felipe.

Second round starts and Felipe comes forward much more aggressive than the opening round, walking Collier down and testing his gas tank. Felipe landing big left hooks to the body and working Collier out, stepping forward and bobbing and weaving before throwing big one-twos. Collier’s leg kicks keep landing but Felipe doesn’t care and keeps going forward. More big punches land and he’s showboating despite a close round. 19-19.

Final round and Felipe is pushing forward again while Collier backs up exhausted. Felipe lands some nice body shots again and then starts going upstairs with some big strikes. Felipe lands a big left hand and Collier is rocked, then gets clocked twice more. Collier shoots for a takedown but Felipe sprawls, then gets up and lands some stiff jabs. Collier keeps checking the clock but Felipe is marching him down and throwing heavy shots in the pocket with 30 seconds to go. Collier lands a nice body shot followed by a kick but Felipe should get the nod. 29-28.

Fares Ziam def Luigi Vendramini via Majority Decision (29-28 x2, 28-28)

Great start to the fight from Ziam as he takes the centre of the cage and immediately starts flicking out the jab, landing flush on the nose of Vendarmini. Vendramini goes for a takedown but Ziam keeps it standing and immediately steps back to get his distance back. Lots of feints from Ziam and the jab is landing perfectly for the whole round. 10-9 Ziam.

Second round starts with more of the same, but this time Vendramini steps forward too and clinches up looking for a takedown. Ziam completely refuses to be taken down though and just pushes him off and starts landing the jab again. Ziam throws a hard leg kick but it gets partially checked and then Vendramini goes in for a deep takedown but Ziam throws him off and carries on striking to control the fight once more. 20-18.

Third round and Vendramini comes out heavy, throwing big bombs and he drops Ziam! He pushes forward and lands big strikes and eventually gets on top with ground and pound. Ziam trying to slow Vendramini down a little but he keeps going and lands some heavy strikes. Big elbows from full mount and he does brilliantly but Ziam stays calm off his back and eventually gets back up to his feet. Vendramini keeps pushing but he can’t get it done and Ziam should take the decision.

Steven Peterson def Chase Hooper via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Strong start from Peterson as he comes flying out of the gate looking for an early knockout and tags Hooper hard with a right hand. Hard pressure from Peterson as he pressure forward, before Hooper looks to pull guard. Peterson throws huge elbows and Hooper looks hurt but he gets back to his feet. Hooper eventually pulls guard and starts fishing for submissions, including a heel hook, but Peterson stays calm and rides it out. 10-9 Peterson.

Peterson steps forward and looks for the early power again but just misses with a big right hand. Hooper looking to bring the fight to the ground again but Peterson doing well to control the range so far and overpowering Hooper as it goes so far. Peterson eventually takes over and controls from the top position, riding out from the top and sees out the round. 20-18.

Peterson steps out strong and lands a big right hand early in the third round. He closes the distance and starts making it ugly, throwing nice kicks and then clinching and dragging Hooper to the ground. He lands a few strikes from the top then goes for a head and arm choke. Hooper denies it and takes the back with 70 seconds to go but he’s not able to get it done and Peterson should take the fight.

Terrance McKinney def Matt Frevola via Knockout, Round 1 (0:07)

McKinney comes out and lands a one-two and Frevola is out!!! OH MY GOD!! TERRANCE MCKINNEY!!!

Pannie Kianzad def Alexis Davis via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A fun stand up battle in the first round, with both women standing in the pocket and exchanging good strikes. Kianzad standing her ground and landing well with her jab and right cross while Davis is landing her jab well. Both women have cuts but Kianzad is landing the more accurate strikes and takes the round. 10-9 Kianzad.

Second round is more of the same as Kianzad throws that right hand more and more. Both women trading in the pocket but Davis is starting to land cleaner on the nose. Kianzad follows up with some big strikes and the jab landing clean too, but Murphy starting to throw some nice leg kicks too. Pretty even round could go either way, I edge it to Kianzad.

Final round and Davis is landing her jab well and throwing the leg kicks more often too. Kianzad is backing up a lot more than she was in the first but is firing back on Davis’ jab with combinations. Davis’ jab is landing perfectly now on the nose of Kianzad but she’s getting caught with counter straights. Both women strike throughout the 15 minutes and it’s a close call regardless. 29-28 Kianzad for me but could go either way.

PRELIMS

Movsar Evloev def Hakeem Dawodu via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Evloev opens up with a big overhand right that lands, but Dawodu does well to take it. Both men trade a few jabs before Evloev decides he’s had enough of that and goes for the takedown. Dawodu defends it well but eventually Evloev just picks Dawodu up and slams him down on the mat. Evloev then takes Dawodu’s back and looks for rear naked chokes and ground and pound strikes for the remainder. 10-9.

Evloev comes out early on again, ducks a big strike and gets a beautiful takedown immediately. Transitions to the back immediately once again and starts really piling on the pressure. He starts looking for submissions again but Dawodu defending them well, so he switches to ground and pound from Dawodu’s back and is really battering him.

Dawodu and Evloev start a bit slower in this round but Dawodu is able to keep the fight standing early on. Evloev

Lauren Murphy def Joanne Calderwood via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Murphy comes out aggressive and uses her size well, landing well out of the gate. Calderwood starts mixing up her attacks, throwing leg kicks, body kicks, body punches and head strikes well. Murphy stepping forward and using her boxing, then steps in for a clinch. She uses her strength well against the cage and lands a nice knee, but Calderwood throws the spinning back-fist and lands it well. Very close round, I lean 10-9 to Calderwood.

Strong start to the second round from Murphy as she lands the jab well early on and then shoots in for a takedown and gets it brilliantly! Murphy ties up both legs and gets wrist control, keeping Calderwood on her side with one arm to defend and starts throwing some nice ground and pound. Murphy dominates the entire round on top and could potentially have it as a 10-8. Super close fight.

Murphy comes out with a hard punch but misses and Calderwood starts picking her off from range once again using her kicks and striking again. Murphy starting to look for takedowns again but Calderwood defending them well and landing decent strikes from distance. Murphy keeps coming though and they end the round in a straight scrap. Great fight, very close.

Eryk Anders def Darren Stewart via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27)

Slow start to this one from both guys as Stewart takes the centre but lots of feints and hesitation from both guys. Anders throws a left straight that misses and then they go against the cage, with Stewart tying him up in a clinch to a stalemate. Stewart lands a big knee to the body and then changes levels and gets a nice trip to get top position on the ground. Stewart maintains wrist control and holds the position until the end of the round. Not the best round. 10-9 Stewart.

Second round and it’s much more of the same from both guys. Anders misses a left hand and the two clinch up against the cage for about two minutes before the referee steps in and separates them. Anders goes for a takedown but Stewart defends it well and they end up back in the same position. Anders trying to up the pressure but Stewart defending well and the round ends. 19-19 maybe?

Final round and Stewart comes out light on his feet with a couple of leg kicks before changing levels and securing a takedown on Anders. Anders manages to switch the position and ends up on top almost immediately though and finds himself in side control. Anders starts throwing some ground and pound and controlling the position well. Big ground and pound shots hurt Stewart as he tries to get up against the side of the cage but he survives until the buzzer. 29-28 Anders for me but all lays on that second round.

Brad Riddell def Drew Dober via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very quick start to this one from Riddell as he opens with a big left hand followed by a leg kick that rattles Dober’s balance. Both men swing some big hooks that just miss and then Dober lands a stiff jab and a left straight right behind it that drops him! Dober looks for a finish but Riddell shoots and stalls for long enough on the legs to recover. Riddell lands a huge right hand that sees him step backwards, then lands it flush over and over as the round ends. Great round, 10-9 either way.

Second round and Riddell is looking for that right hand early once again. Dober eats a couple but then fires back with some big straights and lands flush on the nose! Riddell shoots for a takedown to recover but Dober sprawls and steps away. Riddell lands a big right hand again and then Dober shoots in for a takedown but they scramble to a stalemate. Riddell lands a few big shots and Dober replies as the round ends. What a fight. This scorecard could be anything.

Final round and Riddell lands a huge right hand early on that rocks Dober. Riddell lands a couple more heavy strikes but Dober steps away and recovers. Some big body kicks by Riddell force Dober to look for a takedown but Riddell defends it perfectly. Riddell lands a huge right hand that staggers Dober with 30 seconds to go and he goes in for the finish! Big ground and pound as Dober dives in for a takedown. Riddell sweeps him and ends the round on top raining down punches. What a fight!

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 1 (1:59)

Slow start for Hill as he takes the centre before Craig grabs hold of him and pulls guard early on. Craig has an overhook on the arm while he’s on his back and he’s torquing on it badly. Craig rolls through and snaps Hill’s arm but the referee doesn’t wave it off! Craig goes for elbows to the head of a defenceless Hill and the referee finally steps in to end it. What a performance.

*TRIGGER WARNING*

Belal Muhammad def Demian Maia via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the round as Muhammad looks to take the centre of the octagon but stay out of range of Maia’s takedown attempts. Maia shoots in for a takedown and gets the single leg but Muhammad gets himself against the cage and defends it brilliantly for around one minute before escaping. Maia goes in for three more takedown shots during the rest of the round but Muhammad defends them all perfectly, but will likely lose the round. 10-9 Maia.

Second round and Muhammad is closing the distance better and landing some nice jabs on the feet. He’s gained confidence from stopping all the takedowns in the first and is stepping forward, landing his right hand cleaner as Maia starts to tire. Nice jabs and he defends another takedown to see out the round. 19-19.

Maia starts the final round with another single leg takedown attempt but Muhammad denies him once again and then staggers him with a nice right hand. Maia continues to look for a single leg takedown but Muhammad just denies it once more and lands a few jabs to seal the round for himself.

Leon Edwards def Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Slow start to the fight from both guys as they both feel each other out early on. Edwards throws some hard leg kicks that land while Diaz starts showboating and teasing his opponent. Edwards closes the distance and they clinch up, before he dumps Diaz down and transitions to his back to threaten a submission. Diaz defends the position and they see out the round squaring off on the feet. 10-9 Edwards.

Second round and Edwards staying composed, pushing a good pace landing some leg kicks. Diaz playing some mind games but Edwards clinches up and gets him down again. Edwards controlling Diaz totally and landing elbows and strikes at will so far. Dominant round, 20-18.

Edwards dominant again during the third as he steps forward and lands the jab well. Edwards gets another takedown from the clinch and starts to control from the top. Huge elbow gets through and opens up a big cut, then he starts looking for the finish but Diaz survives it. 30-27.

Fourth round and Edwards is just too big and strong at this point. Hard leg kicks have forced Diaz to switch stances but Edwards pouring on the pressure. Diaz is tiring and getting caught with big wild hooks as Edwards starts going for the finish. Diaz tries to come forward with strikes of his own but he’s not hitting many. 40-36 Edwards.

Final round and it’s more of the same. Edwards closing the distance and landing hard leg kicks with elbows following in behind. Diaz is getting hit but still standing and still coming forward. Diaz throws a Stockton slap and follows with a left hand that wobbles Edwards! Diaz points instead of going for the kill, then steps in and starts swinging wildly. Edwards survives, just, and takes the win.

Brandon Moreno def Deiveson Figueiredo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:26)

Tense start to the fight from Figueiredo as Moreno steps in nice and sharp with jabs and a heavy leg kick. Moreno is stiffing the jab right down Figueiredo’s throat, not allowing him to close the distance. Lots of hard jabs and Figueiredo struggling to get going so far. Moreno lands a big left hook that drops Figueiredo! He goes for the kill but Figueiredo stalls on the ground for long enough and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Moreno.

Second round and Figueiredo comes out harder than the first and just misses with a huge hook. Moreno transitions with some good strikes and then takes the back of Figueiredo. Figueiredo manages to turn to his back but the rest of the round is spent with Moreno on top dominating. 20-18.

Third round and Figueiredo still looks gun shy still. Moreno steps forward again and manages to secure a trip to put the fight on the ground. Moreno quickly transitions to the back, gets both hooks in and then locks in a body triangle. Figueiredo starts fighting the hands as Moreno moves to sink in a rear-naked choke. He switches grips, tightens it and Figueiredo taps! NEW CHAMPION!!

Israel Adesanya def Marvin Vettori via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Lots of nervous energy at the start of this fight. Low kicks from Adesanya and one immediately gets caught by Vettori who takes him down. Adesanya backs himself up against the cage and gets back to the feet very quickly. Adesanya presses the action and starts landing some big low kicks again, before defending another takedown attempt. Nice strikes and some good kicks. 10-9 Izzy.

Second round and Adesanya is very confident now. Still throwing lots of kicks and damaging the legs of Vettori and not being hesitant. Vettori steps forward but can’t get close enough and the kicks are really adding up now. Adesanya dominating on the feet, 20-18.

Third round and Vettori charges across the octagon and gets a big takedown. He transitions to the back and goes for the rear naked choke, and almost locks it up but Adesanya is able to spin into his guard and lands a nice elbow. He stands back up and spends the rest of the round piecing Vettori up with the leg attacks and right uppercut.

Fourth round and it’s more of the same from Adesanya, who is staying at distance and just completely dominant. Plenty of leg kicks again and some big right hands landing, while Vettori looks for a double jab into a takedown. Adesanya denies everything and keeps landing. Easy work so far. 40-36.

Final round and Vettori wants the takedown but he can’t get it. Adesanya is too strong and quick, landing heavy leg kicks and still looking for the uppercut. Vettori pushing for the takedown again but just stalling against the cage as Adesanya holds him up and denies it. Lots of tussling but more stalling and eventually they separate. Adesanya lands a head kick and some more right hands and this one is over. 50-45 Izzy, dominant performance.

UFC 263: Adesanya vs Vettori 2 – Main card predictions

Another blockbuster pay-per-view card is upon us as UFC 263 finally lands on our TV screens from Arizona as Israel Adesanya returns to the octagon to defend his middleweight championship against Marvin Vettori.

It’s a highly anticipated rematch at 185lbs after the two previously met in 2018, with Adesanya getting the nod in a split decision. But after defeat last time out at light heavyweight, Vettori now has the blueprint to victory and will look to execute it to become the new champion.

In the co-main event the flyweight title will be on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their rematch from UFC 256. After the first fight ended in a draw, Figueiredo will be targeting an early finish in this one to put a stamp on his title reign.

We also have a historic fight on the main card, as Leon Edwards gets a chance to become a household name against Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title, five-round bout not headlining the card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 28 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to move to 328/516 (63.57%) with 142 perfect picks (43.29%).

We’ll look to improve on that with these 14 fights, and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, here are our main card picks.


Paul Craig (14-4-1) vs Jamahal Hill (8-0 1NC) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An intriguing 205lbs bout between submission specialist Paul Craig and power puncher Jamahal Hill. Craig has won his last two in a row, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov at UFC Fight Island 3 before KO’ing Shogun Rua at UFC 255. Hill got a big knockout win over Ovince Saint-Preux at UFC 255 last time out to remain unbeaten.

This is a real style vs style fight, as Craig is a horrible striker with brilliant jiu-jitsu skills from his back while Hill is a man who can probably knock out anyone in the division right now. He’s got brilliant range, uses kicks, punches and pressure and his power holds up late on too and unless Craig pulls off something sneaky, this one just seems too much for him to overcome.
PICK – Jamahal Hill via Knockout, Round 2

Demian Maia (28-10) vs Belal Muhammad (18-3 1NC) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A passing of the guard at welterweight is on the cards here as 43-year-old Demian Maia takes on ‘Remember The Name’ Belal Muhammad. Maia got knocked out by Gilbert Burns in his last fight, while Muhammad got a win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258 before his fight with Leon Edwards ended in a no-contest after an eye poke.

Maia is one of the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioners in UFC history, with 50% of his career wins coming via submission. Muhammad is a volume striker, who can mix in some good wrestling too to rack up top control for victories too. If he’s to win this one though, he will look to keep it on the feet. Muhammad’s pace is great and his striking is miles ahead of Maia’s, but the Brazilian’s chances of winning lie strictly on the mat. If he can’t get him there, which I don’t think he can, he has no hope barring a lucky punch.

Muhammad will push the pace, land volume and come away with the biggest win of his career to date.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Leon Edwards (18-3 1NC) vs Nate Diaz (21-12) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger at welterweight as the number three ranked 170lber Edwards takes on the most popular man in MMA not named Conor McGregor in Nate Diaz. Edwards has won eight in a row, but his last bout ended in controversy with an eye-poke against Belal Muhammad ending in a no contest. Diaz on the other hand has lost two of his last three, but those fights in 2016 and 2019.

Edwards is a brilliant fighter capable of doing absolutely everything in MMA, with brilliant striking, wrestling and submissions in his arsenal. Diaz is a brilliant boxer with world class jiu-jitsu, but he is way past his prime at this point. Edwards is the better striker and better wrestler and while Diaz is absolutely crazily durable, he gets hit A LOT. Edwards throws lots of leg kicks too which Diaz will hate and with the fight almost certain to stay on the feet, it’s Edwards’ to lose.

A win here finally earns him a title shot while Diaz earns a lot of money and puts in warrior-like performances to maintain his popularity. Edwards is too good though and I expect at least one 10-8 round in his favour.
PICK – Leon Edwards via Decision

Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) vs Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight title fight rematch here as ‘Deus de Guerra’ defends his 125lbs crown against Brandon Moreno once again. Figueiredo had a magnificent 2020, defeating Joseph Benavidez twice including at UFC Fight Island 2 to win the belt. He then defended it against Alex Perez at UFC 255 winning by first-round submission before the draw with Moreno at UFC 256. Moreno also had a great year, beating Jussier Formiga before knocking out Brandon Royval at UFC 255 before the draw.

Figueiredo is the scariest flyweight ever, with ridiculous power and tremendous jiu-jitsu, winning 17 of his fights by stoppage with them all coming in the first two rounds. Moreno is a pressure fighter with great striking and brilliant wrestling but the first fight told us a lot. Figueiredo won that first fight without the points deduction that happened and it’s hard to see this going any other way. Fig will push forward and pick his shots more and with Moreno confident he’ll be coming forward too.

Ultimately, Figueiredo showed he can win over five rounds and if it doesn’t go the distance then there’s only one guy finishing this fight so it’s an #andStill moment for me.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2

Israel Adesanya (20-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The return of the ‘Last Style Bender’ following the first defeat of his career to the middleweight division as he takes on old foe Marvin Vettori for the 185lbs title. Adesanya beat Paulo Costa in his last fight at middleweight before defeat last time out at UFC 259 to Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight. Vettori has won his last five-in-a-row including main events against Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland.

Adesanya is arguably the best pure striker in mixed martial arts today, with brilliant power in his hands and legs and an ability to shift angles and knock people out. He’s fast, mobile and incredibly intelligent but the hole in his game is his grappling. That’s where Vettori excels, with great wrestling and an ability to take people down and control them from top position. He’s a decent striker in his own right too, but he uses that to close the distance for takedowns.

Their first fight saw Adesanya able to get back to his feet but I think Vettori has got much better in that space of time when it comes to controlling opponents on the ground. It really is a fight of two styles and while Adesanya is the heavy favourite, there is something telling me that because the blueprint is there he may need to figure something new out to get back in the win column.

The cloak of invincibility is gone and I think there could be an upset on our hands here.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision

UFC Vegas 15 Fallout: Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith Not Done Yet

The light heavyweight division can’t get rid of one of their top contenders just yet, after Anthony Smith got a quick and impressive win over Devin Clark in the UFC Vegas 15 main event.

Smith and Clark stepped into the main event slot on a day’s notice, changing their fight to a five-rounder in the process, after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19 forcing his bout with Derrick Lewis to be scrapped.

The extra two rounds never came into play however, after Smith got rocked early on and decided to implement his wrestling and jiu-jitsu game to lock up a triangle choke from his back for a first round submission.

It was Smith’s first win of the year following back-to-back defeats against Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, with the former title challenger admitting that he wasn’t sure what he’d do with his future going forward.

The fight against Clark was a way for Smith to measure himself, to see if he still had it and just had bad performances or if he was really done. He said in the post-fight press conference that he was happy with his performance, but it wasn’t more than he expected.

I did to Devin Clark what I’m supposed to do to Devin Clark. I’m not saying that I’m not happy with that win but if anything other than that happened, then we have a problem. I’m not going to be the guy who says ‘I’m next in line’. If I have to stay around the bottom of the rankings for a while and fight my way back up to fight those top five guys then that’s what I’ll do.

When asked what was next, Smith picked out someone who came off an impressive win themselves just last week – Scotsman Paul Craig.

“I think I saw that Paul Craig dropped my name or something, thats a fun match-up. That would be a fun, grappling match up with Paul Craig. I love his style, I could listen to his interviews forever, he seems like a good dude.

As far as a timeline, as long as I have enough time to get ready then I’m good.”

It seems like a sensible route that Smith is taking, just trying to get back into a flow and a rhythm of fighting regularly and winning again. The Teixiera fight he was winning for the first two rounds, so he knows he has the ability but it’s about getting the momentum now.

He is currently ranked sixth, so fighting the No.14 in Paul Craig next is a risk for him but more wins are all he cares about and that’s a positive.

It was a card of not much else in terms of storyline with the main event being cancelled at the last minute but Smith showed he can still deliver at the top of the card with his seventh consecutive main event appearance.

UFC 255: Figueiredo vs Perez – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Sasha Palatnikov def Louis Cosce via Knockout, Round 3 (2:47)

What a round! Cosce comes out super aggressive but Palatnikov does well to use his kicks and attempt to slow him down. Palatnikov shoots for a takedown and Cosce defends well with a guillotine attack. Both men get to their feet and start swinging haymakers and Cosce catches a body kick attempt and starts throwing big punches. Palatnikov attempts a forward roll to escape but Cosce holds on and starts throwing haymakers again and he’s hurt him! Big punches go close to ending the fight but Palatnikov recovers and starts hurting Cosce back! Wild exchanges have both men hurt but Cosce is now exhausted! Spinning back first by Palatnikov lands flush as the round ends. 10-9 Palatnikov for me but could be either way.

Second round is much more composed by both fighters as Cosce is still trying to recover from an energy sapping opening round. Palatnikov throwing lots of combinations and landing big strikes, trying to put Cosce out but he’s showing real heart and determination to stick it out. A low blow from Cosce puts a pause in the action and allows Cosce a chance to recover but Palatnikov’s striking is giving him a big edge here. 20-18 Palatnikov.

Final round and Palatnikov comes out more calm and considered this time around, trying to stay away from the inevitable onslaught. Nice body kicks and a snapping jab while he continues to dominate the clinch with knees to the body. Another low blow from Cosce causes a pause in the action once again. Palatnikov comes out after the restart with a quick pace against the tired Cosce with more body attacks. A lazy takedown attempt from Cosce is defended well and then Palatnikov gets up to his feet and starts landing bombs on a downed Cosce! Cosce moving his head but not defending well and the referee steps in and ends it! What a win for Palatnikov!

Kyle Daukaus def Dustin Stoltzfus via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Very tactical start to the fight between both guys with Daukaus looking to use his big frame to use his range well. A big left hand lands by Daukaus and the two end up clinching against the cage trying to apply their grappling game. Daukaus eventually gets a takedown after lots of 50/50 positions and a scramble sees them in an interesting position with their legs tangled on the ground at the end of the round. 10-9 Daukaus but interesting nonetheless.

Second round is much more of the same, with Daukaus dominating the striking exchanges but Stoltzfus holding his own in the grappling realm of the fight. An accidental low blow from Daukaus causes a brief pause in the fight. Daukaus using his jab and a big left hand well as the action resumes but they tie each other up against the cage and battle it out there for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Daukaus.

Final round and the pattern continues at the start of it as Daukaus goes for the big left hand before a clinch ensues against the cage. Daukaus stuffs the takedown attempt from Stoltzfus and lands some big shots while he’s down! He throws a few bombs and then stands up to force Stoltzfus back to his feet. More big shots with the left hand and he continues to deny the takedown attempts to completely dominate the round. He threatens with a guillotine and ends up trying to lock up a d’arce choke with 30 seconds to go but Stoltzfus survives until the bell. Impressive performance.

Alan Jouban def Jared Gooden via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Very fun opening round between these two as Gooden looks to take Jouban’s head off with big hooks and Jouban responds with heavy left body kicks and some nice right check-hooks of his own. Jouban showing great head movement and footwork, mostly avoiding the big shots of Gooden. Gooden lands a big right hand and follows with an accidental headbutt that the referee misses and has caused Jouban’s eye to swell up. 10-9 Jouban.

Jouban comes out in the second round continuing to be aggressive and goes for the body kicks early but Gooden is throwing less haymakers and more pop shots. A nice right hand lands and wobbles Jouban but he stays calm and composed. Jouban starts to make a comeback with some big punches of his own and wobbles Gooden with a big right hook! Jouban goes for the kill but Gooden survives well as we head into the final round. 20-18 Jouban.

Final round and Gooden knows he is down on the scorecards, so he comes out very aggressively. He takes the centre of the cage and starts head hunting, landing left hooks on the closed eye of Jouban. Jouban still throwing big body kicks and doing well to avoid too much damage but Gooden continues to come forward. A big exchange of punches leads to Gooden shooting for a takedown and Jouban sinks in a guillotine as he hits the mat. 30 seconds to go and he hold the position but isn’t squeezing yet and then with 15 seconds to go, ramps up the pressure. A big squeeze almost puts Gooden out cold but the buzzer goes to save him a stoppage and it’ll go to the cards.

PRELIMS

Nicolas Dalby def Daniel Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

A very intriguing opening round between these two fighters as Dalby takes a traditional wide-base stance and bounces around a lot early on. Rodriguez is looking to move in and land big punches but Dalby is switching stances and using his front leg well to keep distance. Dalby throws a big one-two that lands flush on Rodriguez and wobbles him but ‘D-Rod’ recovers very quickly. Head kick by Dalby lands too and he is doing really well to stay out of range. Rodriguez lands a nice left hand and starts chasing for the punches and ends the round well. 10-9 Dalby.

Much more aggressive start to the round for Rodriguez as he comes out, takes the centre and forces Dalby against the cage. Some nice jabs and straight lefts before a takedown attempt is defended well by Dalby. Dalby then shoots for a takedown of his own but Rodriguez defends well this time. Dalby misses with a few head kick attempts but starts landing some nice inside leg kicks. Another takedown attempt from Dalby forces Rodriguez against the cage but he defends well and the buzzer ends the round. 19-19 but very close round.

Slower final round as both guys come out clearly quite tired. Rodriguez is throwing single punches and leg kicks while Dalby is continuing with the game plan to dart in and out using kicks and jabs. There’s not much action other than that, but it’s Dalby who has the upper hand and probably wins the round. 29-28 overall to Dalby for me but it could go either way.

Antonina Shevchenko def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:33)

Both ladies come out and swing big punches early before clinching up. Lipski looks to block a throw attempt from Shevchenko and they end up against the cage once again. Both women throwing knees and elbows before Shevchenko lands a nice takedown against the fence. Lipski tries to sweep to take the back but Shevchenko does well to control the position and land some nice shots before the round ends. 10-9 Shevchenko.

Second round and Lipski looks to stand and strike and lands a big right hook to the eye that troubles Shevchenko immediately. Shevchenko forces a clinch and a trip and immediately ends up in top position where she remains for the remainder of the round. She lands ground and pound and passes guard with complete ease constantly. Lipski in real trouble as Shevchenko moves into full mount and starts absolutely smashing ground and pound strikes until the referee stops. What a performance.

Joaquin Buckley def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 2 (0:18)

Buckley rushes across the octagon early and engages in a clinch as Wright does well to hold his own. Some big looping strikes land from Buckley but Wright is doing well to move his head off the centre line for the most part. Some nice kicks land and he’s popping his jab well. Buckley explodes with a big hook and lands! He drops Wright and Wright is in big trouble! Some big ground and pound shots but the bell saves him! Very, very lucky to see a second round. 10-9 Buckley.

Second round starts and Wright still looks rocked. Buckley lands two big left hands down the middle and then a big hook that knocks Wright out cold! What a performance and another highlight reel knockout.

Brandon Moreno def Brandon Royval via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

What a round! Both guys come flying out of the traps with fast exchanges and strong strikes. Royval goes for a spinning elbow attack but Moreno avoids it and takes the back of Royval. He gets the fight down to the ground and looks to sink in a rear-naked choke but it turns into a nasty neck crank. It’s in tight but Royval refuses to tap and breaks the grip before escaping into full guard. A big scramble on the ground leads to a yell of pain from Royval and Moreno gets heavy on top and starts blasting him with ground and pound which forces the referee to stop the fight with a second to go in the round.

After the fight it’s spotted that Royval’s shoulder dislocated during the scramble, hence the lack of defence from the ground and pound.

MAIN CARD

Paul Craig def Mauricio Rua via Knockout, Round 2 (3:36)

Fast pace start to the fight as Shogun comes out with big shots and Craig looks to manage distance with a Muay-Thai stance and throws some nice kicks. Craig shoots for a takedown and gets it fairly easily to get the fight to the ground and proceeds to control with his excellent grappling. Shogun eventually reverses the position and ends up on top and the round ends with Craig looking to reverse. 10-9 Craig.

Second round and Craig is coming with a very wrestle-heavy approach. Shogun landing a few shots but Craig ducks and takes the fight down to the ground once again. Craig gets in double hooks as he takes the back and looks for submissions. Shogun defends the submission well but gets flattened out and Craig starts smashing him with big punches that forces the legend to tap to strikes. Great performance.

Katlyn Chookagian def Cynthia Calvillo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A very tactical start to this round as Chookagian looks to stay at range and use her jab and kicking game. Calvillo catches a kick and gets a takedown early but Chookagian gets right up to her feet. The rest of the round is a jab and kick test and while there isn’t much action everything happens in Chookagian’s comfort zone. 10-9 Chookagian.

Second round is more of the same as Chookagian is using her length well to just pop jabs off at Calvillo’s face. Calvillo lands a nice left hook twice that lands clean but she has a cut on her nose and some swelling under her eye from the jab. Excellent footwork from Chookagian who is just moving in and out of range at will and picking her shots. 20-18 Chookagian.

Final round and it’s more of the same from both fighters for the final five minutes. Chookagian continuing to just pick her off at will with superior striking and kickboxing skills. Calvillo goes for a clinch but Chookagian pushes her away with ease, showing a clear physical advantage. Not much action throughout the bout but should be a comfortable decision win for Chookagian.

Tim Means def Mike Perry via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

A very intriguing opening round as Mike Perry shows off his grappling skills early on. Means lands a few nice jabs and Perry opts to shoot for the takedown against the cage. A nice body lock gets the fight down and Perry passes his guard and then eventually takes his back. Perry nice and calm on Means’ back and looks to sink in a rear-naked choke but Means fights it well and ends up on top before getting back to the feet. Means spends the rest of the round landing his jab at will but it’s a Perry round. 10-9.

Second round is more tactical from Means, who is using his jab well and much more aware of the takedown threat now. He’s starting to work the body more too but Perry is landing his right hook well too. Perry lands a huge right hand that wobbles Means but he looks to go for the takedown instead of more strikes and allows Means to recover. Big lead elbow by Means cracks Perry in the nose and they exchange more punches and elbows as the round comes to an end. 19-19, great fight.

Final round and Perry comes out looking to use his physical advantage to get another takedown. Means defends well against the cage and breaks away to land some nice punches. Calm approach from both suddenly disappears as the two start exchanging haymakers in the centre of the cage, both landing big hooks and crosses flush to the chin. Means shoots for a takedown to move the fight against the cage and break it up a bit. Final minute and Perry lands a big right hand before Means responds with an elbow. Both men end the round with another crazy exchange in the pocket. What a great fight!

Valentina Shevchenko def Jennifer Maia via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)

Interesting start to the round as both women exchange short flurries of strikes before Shevchenko gets hold of Maia and throws her to the mat, ending up in full guard. Maia ties up the guard as Shevchenko stays patient and lands some short shots and some elbows in ground and pound. Pretty chill round, 10-9 Shevchenko.

A very, very interesting second round as Maia controls the round. Another clinch but this time it’s Maia who controls the position against the cage and eventually she gets the takedown. She controls the position entirely for the round and gets in some offence too to take the second round for herself. 19-19.

Third round and Shevchenko opens up with two big left hands that land flush on Maia’s chin. Maia fires back with a right hand of her own and clinches against the cage. Shevchenko breaks away and then lands two more big shots that wobble Maia! They clinch up again and Shevchenko lands a heavy takedown and ends up in side control. Maia gets back up to her feet before one more takedown by Shevchenko as the round ends with ‘Bullet’ in top position. 29-28 Shevchenko.

Into the championship rounds and Shevchenko lands some big left hands once again. She throws a right hook, wraps in a body lock and takes the fight down to the ground again. She spends the entire round in top position landing strikes from the top, mainly to the body to take this round too. 39-37 Shevchenko.

Final round and Maia charges across the cage looking for a clinch early on to try and get a takedown. Shevchenko defends excellently and then lands a flurry of strikes that bust up the nose of the challenger. Maia tries again for a clinch but Shevchenko is defending perfectly now and landing big, heavy shots on the break. Into the final minute now and Maia lands a front kick to the face but Shevchenko eats it. Spinning back fist misses as the Maia goes for a final takedown attempt but the buzzer goes. 49-46 Shevchenko for me, pretty straight forward win.

Deiveson Figueiredo def Alex Perez via Submission, Round 1 (1:57)

A fast start to the fight as both men meet in the middle and throw big body kicks but miss. Perez moves in quickly and throws some nice shots but they all miss, then Figueiredo lands a body kick. Two big kicks from Perez and then he shoots for a single leg takedown, but Figueiredo keeps it standing. Perez tries to get the back but Figueiredo spirals around the leg and looks for a knee bar which leads to a scramble. Figueiredo turns on the ground mid-scramble and sinks in a deep guillotine and secures the tap! Wow! Figueiredo is the real deal.

UFC 255: Figueiredo vs Perez – Main Card Predictions

The flyweights take over the UFC Apex on Saturday night as both Deiveson Figueiredo and Valentina Shevchenko defend their 125lbs titles at UFC 255.

Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Alex Perez looks to become the first contestant from the show to wear UFC gold, but Figueiredo will be looking to begin his reign of terror on the division. Shevchenko on the other hand is looking for a fourth consecutive title defence when she takes on Jennifer Maia in the co-main event, with her legacy as the greatest female 125lber ever on the line too.

A twelve fight card looks full of fun fights and prospects too, with seven prelims fights preceding a stacked main card.

Last week was a poor outing for our predictions, as we got just 5/9 correct picks with four perfect picks. It takes our overall pick numbers to 168/252 (66.67%) with 78 perfect picks (46%) since starting up our predictions back in June 2020.

Lets see if we can improve those numbers with this big card. I’ve already predicted the prelims here, so we move on with the main card now.

MAIN CARD

Mauricio Rua (27-11-1) vs Paul Craig (13-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The rematch nobody wanted or needed to see, but it’s happening. These two met back in November 2019 and fought to a draw. Since then Craig has submitted Gadzhimurad Antigulov on Fight Island in July, while ‘Shogun’ got a win over Antonio Nogueira on the same card. Craig will almost certainly look to get this fight to the ground, with 12 submissions wins from 13 career victories. ‘Shogun’ Rua is a black belt in jiu-jitsu but he isn’t active off his back and prefers to just crack jaws if he can help it. It’s a tough one to call considering how the first fight went but I think Craig can get it done this time. He dominated the first round in that fight and if he can do it again this time, I think he gets the finish.
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 1

Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A good fight between two top contenders in the women’s flyweight division. Chookagian fought for the title and was beaten to a pulp before bouncing back with a win over her sister, Antonina Shevchenko. Last month though, she was beaten thanks to a nasty body shot by Jessica Andrade as she looked to climb back up the rankings. Calvillo made her debut in the division back in June with a big win over then ranked #1 Jessica Eye. Chookagian is a kickboxer by trade, who can clinch if she needs to as she showed against Andrade. She’s going to need her grappling skills in this one as Calvillo will look to get the fight to the ground and dominate with her excellent top game and chokes. Chookagian will look to use her kicks to stop Calvillo getting into range but she is capable of boxing her way into that range to get the clinch and takedown. It will be close with not many highlights but I think Calvillo takes the decision.
PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision

Mike Perry (14-6) vs Tim Means (30-12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

This was supposed to be a wild battle between Mike Perry and Robbie Lawler, but when ‘Ruthless’ dropped out it fell to the veteran Tim Means to step up to the plate. Perry won his last bout with a dominant decision over Mickey Gall in June while Means got a decision win over Laureano Staropoli in August. Perry is essentially a street fighter, with looping hooks and big kicks his main fortΓ©. Means is primarily a Muay-Thai fighter who throws nice combinations, including elbows and knees. His issue is that he is very open to having his lights turned out with one punch, and Perry has the power to do that. He’s also got a fantastic chin, but has a four inch reach disadvantage. I think it goes the distance and it could honestly go either way, but I’m going with my gut with Means.
PICK – Tim Means via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs Jennifer Maia (18-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

This is the lock of the night. Shevchenko is the greatest female flyweight fighter of all time and has a complete skillset when it comes to mixed martial arts. Her expert kickboxing technique keeps her at range from her opponents, while her wrestling skills mean she can mix it up whenever she needs too. Maia is a jiu-jitsu fiend, who got a big win in her last outing against Joanne Calderwood back in August to get this bout with a first round submission win. For her to get a win here, she needs a takedown into a dominant position then enough time to sink something in. The chances of that are incredibly slim though and I think Shevchenko beats her up on the feet for a couple of rounds before landing one of her trademark head kicks to end it early.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs Alex Perez (24-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The most powerful striker in the division’s history, Figueiredo will be throwing bombs early in this one. Alex Perez is a very impressive grappler with fantastic cardio and submission skills, winning his last three in row including his last bout against Jussier Formiga in June. His only loss in the UFC came against Joseph Benavidez, when he was KO’d back in November 2018. His style is eerily similar to that of Benavidez, which doesn’t bode well against Figueiredo. Figueiredo destroyed Benavidez in both of his last bouts. ‘God of War’ is a vicious striker who is also very good on the ground himself. The power is scary enough but Perez’s way out is blocked by the fact he’s matched on the ground too. Perez’s best chance of a win is if Figueiredo makes a mistake which I don’t see happening. Figueiredo lands a huge hook or two and ends this one early and violently.
PICK – Deiveson Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 1