The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena for UFC 276 for a double-header title fight event in what looks like one of the best cards of the year.
In the main event middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against ‘Tha Killa Gorilla’ Jared Cannonier, while Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway go head-to-head for a third time for the featherweight title in the co-main event.
We’ll also see the likes of Sean Strickland and Alex Pereira face off, while all of Robbie Lawler, Sean O’Malley, Maycee Barber, Brad Riddell, Jalin Turner and Dricus Du Plessis will all fight too.
We’ve had a few weeks off for picks due to a holiday, but our last time out at UFC 275 saw us go 7/11 with five perfect picks, moving us to 635/987 (64.33%) with 273 perfect picks (42.99%). You can view our full picks record here.
Pedro Munhoz (19-7) vs Sean O’Malley (15-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Absolute banger to open up the main card in the bantamweight division. Veteran Munhoz has lost four of his last five fights, including close bouts against Jose Aldo (UFC 265) and Dominick Cruz (UFC 269) in his last two. O’Malley on the other hand is continuing his rise as one of the most popular athletes in the sport, with three KO’s in his last three fights including a stunning finish over Raulian Paiva last time out.
Munhoz has got a nasty low kick and great wrestling, while also having some decent power in his hands when it comes to striking. His iron chin means he has never been KO’d before, but he’s not as mobile as he once was and his lack of speed sees him struggle against the elite. O’Malley alternatively is one of the fastest fighters in the entire UFC, with unbelievable striking skills and stunning power to go with his movement. He’s also an excellent grappler and will have a huge size advantage in this bout.
If Munhoz lands hard low kicks and hurts the legs of O’Malley to the point where he effects his movement then he has a chance. But O’Malley is likely to stand just far enough away that he can smash Munhoz with his combinations without getting caught himself. His experience should see him make this fight difficult for O’Malley, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see the ‘Suga Show’ make a statement here. PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 2
Robbie Lawler (29-15) vs Bryan Barbarena (17-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A banger at welterweight between two iron fisted scrappers. Lawler snapped a four-fight losing streak when he earned a TKO win over Nick Diaz at UFC 266 in his most recent bout, while Barbarena has earned back-to-back decision wins against Darian Weeks and Matt Brown in his most recent fights.
Lawler is an all-rounder, with heavy-handed strikes, excellent wrestling and the heart of a lion in the cage. Barbarena is a similar type of fighter, who is more than willing to bite down on his mouth-piece and swing away to earn a big win. If they’re both at their best then it’s not even close and Lawler wins, but where they are right now in their careers this is a close fight.
Barbarena’s career takedown defence isn’t great and Lawler will likely look to use that to open up his striking more than to actually wrestle. Barbarena will be ready to crack with him though and it could be a wild fight. Barbarena’s volume could be key, but I lean towards Lawler doing enough to earn a judge’s decision. PICK – Robbie Lawler via Decision
Sean Strickland (25-3) vs Alex Pereira (5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very interesting middleweight fight in what could potentially be a number one contender fight for the belt. Strickland has won six fights in a row and been running riot in the 185lbs division, defeating Uriah Hall and Jack Hermansson in his two most recent bouts. Pereira on the other hand is 2-0 in the UFC after switching over from kickboxing to MMA, knocking out Andreas Michailidis before taking Bruno Silva to a decision.
Strickland is a brilliant boxer who has got a terrific jab and unrelenting cardio, while his offensive wrestling is also excellent. He is capable of taking fights to the ground and inflicting plenty of damage from top position, with very heavy hips keeping his opponent down. Pereira is a former world champion kickboxer and is the only man whose striking can compare to the champion’s. He’s also shown great ability to defend takedowns up to this point and his chin has held up too.
This looks like a step too far, too soon for Pereira to me. The UFC are clearly trying to build towards a rematch between Adesanya and Pereira, but Strickland is simply not a walkover. “Tarzan” is a maniac and he will do everything he can to stop this fight with damage. Pereira will have his moments, undoubtedly, but I expect Strickland to take him down and dominate him on the mat to potentially even get a finish and claim next for the title shot. PICK – Sean Strickland via Knockout, Round 2
Alexander Volkanovski (24-1) vs Max Holloway (23-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
It’s not often we get a trilogy of fights that are all title fights, especially when the first two fights were won by the same guy – but that’s what this is. Volkanovski is on a 21-fight win streak including two wins over Holloway (UFC 245 & UFC 251), before big wins against Brian Ortega (UFC 266) and Korean Zombie most recently. Holloway has won his last two though, with incredible performances against Calvin Kattar (UFC Fight Island 7) and Yair Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 42).
Volkanovski is a complete all-rounder, with terrific wrestling to go with his sharp striking and cardio for days. Holloway is the opposite, with unbelievable striking and some of the best boxing in the company with some solid wrestling and cardio for days. This fight is razor close and could legitimately go either way. Volkanovski clearly won the first fight between the two, but many people – myself included – though Holloway won the second.
Since then though Volkanovski has got better and better while Holloway showed against Rodriguez that he’s not the untouchable guy he once was. The aura has gone, and while he’s still one of the best ever, that matters. Volkanovski has the blueprint to win and while I would love Holloway to get his belt back as one of my personal favs, I think history repeats itself in a more concrete fashion this time around and Volkanovski retains. PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Decision
Israel Adesanya (22-1) vs Jared Cannonier (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The middleweight championship is on the line here and Adesanya is the man with everything to lose. The champion has won his last two against Marvin Vettori (UFC 263) and Robert Whittaker (UFC 271), and remains undefeated in the division with his only loss coming up a weight class. Cannonier has won his last two in a row too, earning a decision against Kelvin Gastelum before knocking out Derek Brunson.
‘The Last Stylebender’ is regarded as the best pure striker in the UFC today, with sharp counters and scintillating speed while his takedown defence has held up against everyone at 185-pounds. Cannonier is a power-puncher with some decent wrestling in his back pocket, but this seems like quite a lopsided match up.
Adesanya is too quick, too sharp and too well-rounded for Cannonier. He knows that the only way that Cannonier can really win this is by landing a big shot clean, and he is the absolute best when it comes to evading that and making his opponents look like amateurs. Cannonier must stay patient or he’ll get countered into an oblivion, but if he isn’t active enough the Adesanya will pick him off from range. Neither fighter has an issue with cardio, so expect it to go to the latter rounds before Adesanya catches a desperate Cannonier with a counter or a head-kick for a big KO win. PICK – Israel Adesanya via Knockout, Round 4
The ‘Suga’ show once again delivered a spectacular performance in front of a sell-out crowd at UFC 269 as Sean O’Malley earned yet another highlight-reel victory against Raulian Paiva.
The two bantamweights went head-to-head in the main card opener at the T-Mobile arena, with O’Malley securing a third straight knockout victory when he launched a stunning combination at Paiva in the first round.
With 2022 just around the corner and ‘Suga’ almost certain to move into the rankings following this win, who should the UFC be looking at matching him up with going forward? Lets take a look at some options.
If the UFC fancy giving him a real push in 2022 as expected, then the veteran that is Pedro Munhoz would be a great option.
Both fought at UFC 269 and Munhoz found himself on the losing end of a decision against Dominick Cruz. He has never been finished in his professional MMA career and has excellent power in his hands and jiu-jitsu skills that would give O’Malley something to think about.
He currently sits in the top ten so it may be one too soon, but it’s surely a fight that would interest both guys.
These two have been going back and forth on social media and are two of the very best prospects the UFC have to offer. The fact they compete in the same division makes it even more exciting.
Both of these two have made a real name for themselves by knocking their foes out in the UFC and both are looking to move into the ranked conversations next year and make a push to be a contender.
But with Yanez unranked, it would seem a backward step to pair them together now despite the fact they both want it. Maybe that’s one for 2023 if they keep winning..
The veteran has found himself on a bad run over his last five fights. He was beaten handily by Max Holloway and Korean Zombie in 2019 before moving to bantamweight in 2020, earning a solitary yet controversial decision win over Munhoz.
Since then though he was KO’d violently by both Cory Sandhagen and Marlon Vera and has found himself on the edge of the rankings. A fight between himself and O’Malley would see if he can really still cut it, while also giving O’Malley a big name and a test against a ranked fighter.
This may be the most logical fight the UFC could make, although it’s probably not quite as exciting as some of the others mentioned.
A super young prospect with plenty of experience, this fight would undoubtedly produce fireworks.
Both guys love to stand and strike, have genuine knockout power and have a super bright future if you ask anyone that knows the sport. The UFC could look to keep these two apart because of how popular they are, saving it for a future date instead with higher stakes.
If that isn’t part of their thinking though, this could be the best fight for the fans and for O’Malley too.
Fast paced start to this fight as Robertson looks to take the centre and attempts a couple of takedowns early. Cachoeira defends them well and is starting to land some decent strikes on the feet, landing good jabs and starting to do damage. Robertson suddenly changes levels in the centre though and scores a nice takedown before looking to secure a kimura lock. She transitions into side control and then full mount and starts raining down huge elbows! Cachoeira is in danger and Robertson switches to the back and gets a choke in under the neck. Cachoeira tries to defend it by sticking her thumb in Robertson’s eye but she refuses to let it go and then gets the tap with one second left! What a performance!
Tony Kelley def Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:15)
Very fast start from Kelley who steps forward immediately and starts chasing Costa across the cage looking to land big shots. Costa trying to weather the storm and countering with his jab, but Kelley continuing to come forward aggressively. Clinch against the cage and Kelley is trying to wear on Costa early, landing some nice knees but Costa seemingly the stronger fighter physically. Kelley switching stances as he throws his combinations and Costa is struggling to make reads, before they clinch up against the cage once again and tangle until the end of the round. 10-9 Kelley.
Another fast start from Kelley as he comes forward quickly again and starts the clinch battles again once again. Costa looks a little fatigued but he’s defending himself well and and staying in it. Costa starting to land his jabs well but Kelley closing the distance and making this fight ugly. Costa lands a nice kick and follows it up with a short right hand that hurts Kelley, but he clinches up quickly and starts defending. Kelley gets him in a Thai clinch and lands some big knees to the body and Costa drops to his knees! Kelley battering the body and thrashing elbows onto Costa who’s just trying to defend himself now. Kelley going for the finish and the referee steps in! What a performance from Kelley.
Ryan Hall def Darrick Minner via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-27)
Tactical start to the fight from both guys here as Minner lands a couple of leg kicks and misses wildly with some big strikes. Hall very patient and lands a nice body kick and then Hall shoots for the legs. Lots of transitions and rolling for submissions but Minner defending against the kneebars and heel hook attempts well. Minner gets back to the feet and lands a big right hand that cracks Hall who starts to retreat. Hall starts to go for a takedown again and ends up in top position landing some decent ground and pound to end the round. 10-9 either way, but I lean to Hall just.
Hall coming out more aggressive now as he starts swinging kicks, before Minner lands a nice right hand and gets a takedown as Hall goes for a leg. Minner in Hall’s full guard and looking for ground and pound, but Hall is looking to throw up an armbar or triangle submission. Minner stands up and slams Hall down to escape it and goes back for ground and pound. Hall throws up another triangle and it’s tight and he starts throwing big elbows from his back but Minner surviving. Hall looks to advance to a straight armbar but Minner denies it and then he rolls to an omoplata attempt and ends the round with ground and pound. 20-18 Hall.
Final round and Hall rolls under a punch and secures a triangle attempt immediately from his back. Minner defends it well but Hall then switches and is able to get on top. He advances to full mount and is in complete control here, looking for an arm triangle.
Erin Blanchfield def Miranda Maverick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to the bout for Maverick as she steps forward aggressively and throws a few strong strikes. Maverick looks to step in with a right hand but Blanchfield ducks under and immediately has a body lock from the back. She maintains the lock and continuously forces Maverick to the ground with excellent wrestling. She moves to full guard and maintains position again, dragging Maverick to the mat every time she tries to get back to the feet. 10-9 Blanchfield.
Maverick starts up well with a little blitz but immediately Blanchfield is able to hip throw her and end up on top. Blanchfield quickly transitions to a crucifix position and starts blasting elbows down on Maverick, but she manages to just about escape as Blanchfield switches to an armbar attempt. Maverick just about defends but Blanchfield then goes for a kimura, but Maverick defends it well. Blanchfield switches to another armbar attempt but Maverick defends it by scissoring the head of her and the buzzer goes. 20-18.
Final round and Maverick is trying to go for a finish because she knows she needs it, but Blanchfield is landing well too. Clinch up against the cage and then Blanchfield catches a leg and moves straight into a takedown. She moves into top control and looks to dominate again and starts landing some big shots from mount. She controls the rest of the round from the top and claims a dominant decision win.
Andre Muniz def Eryk Anders via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:13)
Good start to the fight for Anders as he takes the centre and starts to throw powerful strikes early. Muniz does well and throws a nice calf kick before throwing a short left hook. Anders goes for a right hand again and Muniz ducks under and changes levels with a big takedown. Muniz looks to pass from side control straight into mount but Anders defends it well. Anders gets to his feet but Muniz has a body lock and drags him back down after a bit of back and forth and takes the back. He threatens with a choke and then switches to an armbar attempt and forces the tap from Anders. What a performance.
Bruno Silva def Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1 (1:28)
Crazy start to this fight as Wright charges forward and looks to engage quickly with hard strikes. Wright continues to come forward and attack and he hurts Silva! They clinch up and Wright lands some big knees but Silva lands some big strikes too. They separate and Silva lands two huge blows and Wright is wobbled! Silva goes for the finish and drops him! Some huge shots and the referee steps in! What a KO by Silva!
Tai Tuivasa def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 2 (0:26)
Slow and steady start so far with Tuivasa in the centre stalking Sakai, who’s throwing leg kicks and circling on the outside. Tuivasa goes for a nice combination and Sakai retreats, before they clinch up and Sakai lands a nice knee to the body. More knees to the body from Sakai as he holds Tuivasa close to him, before they separate and Tuivasa just misses with a big uppercut. Sakai landing heavy knees and hurting Tuivasa, but he then retaliates with a big right hand and forces Sakai to cover up before they clinch again to end the round. 10-9 Sakai, but Tuivasa looking dangerous too.
Second round and Tuivasa lands a huge left hook early and Sakai is rocked! Tuivasa steps forward and goes for the kill, landing huge hooks as Sakai tries to cover up. Another huge strike and Sakai is out coldddd! What a KO!
Dominick Cruz def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Good start to this fight as both guys look to take the centre and trade leg kicks and movement. Munhoz throwing hard low kicks but Cruz making him miss big. Munhoz throwing bombs but only just missing and Cruz is doing well to land blitzes and flurries of strikes. Cruz goes for a big right hand and Munhoz lands first with a big left hand that drops him! Munhoz lands a huge left hook and goes for the finish but Cruz grabs a leg and somehow survives. He gets up and continues the pattern of the earlier fight. 10-9 Munhoz.
Second round and Munhoz coming forward again and looking for his big bombs. Cruz using his excellent footwork well again though and is using his speed brilliantly. Cruz throwing great combinations on the feet and Munhoz is eating shots, but there isn’t enough power in them to hurt him. Cruz throws a hard low kick that hurts Munhoz and continues to throw his strikes brilliantly. 19-19.
Final round and Cruz has definitely taken over now with his speed and footwork. Cruz has made his reads now and is landing his combinations well, but Munhoz is throwing powerful strikes back and just barely missing. Cruz lands a big one-two clean down the pipe and Munhoz is starting to back up a little. Munhoz lands some nice jabs but Cruz is too slick and is moving so well, throwing leg kicks and left hands. Cruz lands a big combo in the centre as the round comes to an end and that should be the comeback victory for him. 29-28 Cruz.
Josh Emmett def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Nothing happens between these two in the opening minute and them Emmett explodes with a massive overhand right that drops Ige! Emmett goes down for a finish but Ige recovers quickly and starts to wrestle. Both guys scramble well and end up back to their feet where they separate. Ige taking the centre now and using his jab well and sees out the round relatively comfortably. 10-9 Emmett most likely for the knockdown, but could go either way in honesty.
Emmett comes out with a big right hand early once again but Ige takes it and continues to come forward. Good exchanges on the feet and Ige landing his jab well with movement and power. Emmett looking for one big shot but he keeps missing it. Ige replies with a big strikes and wobbles Emmett with a big left hook. He stays patient and Emmett eventually recovers. Ige staying so calm though and using that jab well again, circling on the outside and threatening then ending the round with a big right straight. 19-19, Ige round.
Final round and Ige takes the centre once again, looking to use that jab and counter with his left hook. Emmett still looking for the power right hand but Ige seems to have him scouted now. Emmett steps forward and throws a straight right down the middle and wobbles Ige but he recovers very quickly and circles out. Ige lands his jab over and over, but Emmett is being more aggressive and coming forward. Both guys are missing with big shots as we enter the final minute. Emmett ducks under a big head kick but then eats a big uppercut. Both guys throw a final flurry, but that’s a super tough fight to call. Great fight.
Sean O’Malley def Raulian Paiva via Knockout, Round 1 (4:42)
Composed start to this fight from both guys as Paiva looks for an early takedown attempt but O’Malley sidesteps him into the cage. Body kick grazes the cup of Paiva and causes a short pause in the action. Paiva throws a hard low kick that gets a reaction, before O’Malley steps in with a hard straight left hand. Paiva trying to apply pressure but O’Malley moving well and avoids a leg kick then lands two left jabs and a big right hand behind it. O’Malley steps well to his right and lands a huge right hand that wobbles Paiva! He stays composed and lands a beautiful combination that hurts him badly! Huge body shot and hook combo drops Paiva and the referee steps in, huge win for O’Malley! Amazing!
Kai Kara-France def Cody Garbrandt via Knockout, Round 1 (3:21)
Lots of range finding in the opening minute of this fight as Garbrandt finds himself with his back against the cage circling, throwing some loose kicks. Kara-France just misses with a big overhand right and then just avoids a big right-hook from Garbrandt. Kara-France lands a big right hand that flattens Garbrandt! A big follow up shot drops him again but Garbrandt retreats and eggs him on, but he’s clearly hurt! Kara-France staying patient and then he lands a stunning combination that ends with a massive uppercut and Garbrandt is out! Kara-France lands a couple of strikes before Herb Dean steps in, but that’s that! What a KO!
Geoff Neal def Santiago Ponzinibbio via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Steady start to the fight for Neal with plenty of bouncing on his toes and throwing his jab and some leg kicks, forcing Ponzinibbio backwards. Both guys trade leg kicks and are starting to try and hold their ground in the centre. Neal lands a nice high kick and the referee warns both fighters about having their fingers out. A few short strikes each but not much damage so far. Neal using his jab well and both guys exchange before an accidental low kick from Neal causes a pause. They get back to it and Ponzinibbio lands a huge one-two right on the buzzer to end the round. 10-9 Neal for me.
More active start to the round as Ponzinibbio comes forward with a hard low kick and some straight right hands. Big one-two from Ponzinibbio down the middle to counter Neal’s leg kick and then a short right hand from Neal lands too. Ponzinibbio changes levels and blasts a takedown before Neal sweeps him to get back to his feet nearly immediately. Hard left hand lands from Neal, but Ponzinibbio lands a nice left jab-right hand. Neal lands a hard right hand but then eats a big leg kick in return, before a one-two of his own down the middle into the final minute of the round. Neal lands a big shot and Ponzinibbio claims it was a finger but the referee says no. They stare at each other and then trade a couple of strikes before the round ends. 19-19.
Final round and Ponzinibbio lands a right hand before Neal lands a left. More exchanges in the centre and Neal lands a hard right hook that wobbles Ponzinibbio but he recovers quickly and lands a hard low kick. Neal starting to come forward and throws his left hand before a left high kick that just misses. Right hand gets a reaction from Ponzinibbio again, but then he lands a hard low kick to get Neal to back up. Hard left hand from Neal lands but Ponzinibbio replies with a solid right hook himself. Hard low kick and Neal steps backwards, but then he counters another attempt with a right hand. Neal coming on strong with jabs but Ponzinibbio continues to come forward too. Neal lands a big three-punch combo with the left hand and Ponzinibbio is wobbled! Final 30 seconds and Ponzinibbio just misses with a right hand to end the fight. Good fight. 29-28 Neal for me.
Nunes opens up with a hard low kick that drops Pena immediately. Nunes lets her up and kicks the leg again, before Pena tries to throw a small flurry. Nunes throws a right hand that drops Pena and then she eventually drops on top of her looking to control on the ground. Nunes looks to transition to the back for a rear-naked choke but Pena just about defends it, before Nunes gets back to top position. Pena threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Nunes stays patient, defends it and sees the round out on top. 10-9 champ.
Nunes takes the centre and she starts looking for huge strikes early doors but Pena isn’t going anywhere. Pena is landing her jab at will and Nunes is getting hurt! Nunes trying to slug it out but she’s slow and looks exhausted already. Pena keeps coming and is smashing Nunes up! Big strikes from Pena and Nunes is rocked! Pena goes for a takedown and immediately goes to the back and locks up a choke! NUNES TAPS! NUNES TAPS! AND NEWWWW!!!
Charles Oliveira def Dustin Poirier via Submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 3 (1:02)
Fast paced start to the fight as Oliveira looks to take the centre and land body shots and his jab, but Poirier lands a right hand that knocks Oliveira off balance. Oliveira lands a big strike of his own and backs Poirier up and then he clinches looking for knees. Poirier getting kicked in the body and firing back with big combinations and drops Oliveira again. He lands a huge shot on the ground but Oliveira ties him up and then Poirier stands them up again immediately. Body work from Oliveira again is affecting Poirier and the rounds ends. Wow. 10-9 Poirier.
Huge start to the second round again as the frantic pace starts again and Oliveira immediately goes in for a takedown against the cage. He drags Poirier to the ground but as he tries to escape Oliveira takes the back. Poirier tries to escape but Oliveira holds his arm in place and illegally holds the glove before rolling into full guard. He lands some huge, thudding elbows as Poirier looks to defend off his back. Oliveira absolutely dominant with pressure and elbows but Poirier survives. 19-19.
Oliveira comes out fast once again and shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to a body lock from behind. He drags Poirier down and then jumps on to his back, sinking in hooks and looking for a standing rear-naked choke. Poirier defending the hands but Oliveira continues to switch the grips, sinks in the choke and forces the tap! Amazing!! What a fight!
Last time at UFC Vegas 44 we had a pretty good night with our picks, as we went 9/13 with five perfect picks to move to 491/765 (64.18%) with 207 perfect picks (42.16%).
We’ll look to improve on that here on this massive 15-fight card and after starting with the early prelims we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Andre Muniz (21-4) vs Eryk Anders (14-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger at middleweight in this one as the jiu-jitsu master takes on the powerhouse. Muniz is on a seven-fight win streak, culminating with a nasty submission win over Jacare Souza at UFC 262 where he broke the legendary Brazilian’s arm. Anders earned a victory in his last outing with a decision over Darren Stewart at UFC 263, which saw him then leave the UFC.
Muniz is one of the most dangerous jiu-jitsu artists in the game and he will look to get this fight down to the mat to use it. He’s a half-decent striker too, which helps him set those takedowns up. Anders on the other hand is a good Muay-Thai fighter with good clinch work and power on the feet, while he also has a big edge in speed. Unfortunately for Anders, there is such a huge gap on the ground that it’s hard to see how he wins this.
Anders has good takedown defence, but it only takes one to give Muniz a huge window to victory. Anders’ cardio isn’t amazing and ultimately, Muniz should be able to drag him down and take the back before securing the submission once again. PICK – Andre Muniz via Submission, Round 2
Jordan Wright (12-1) vs Bruno Silva (21-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A kill or be killed bout at 185-pounds between two relative prospects. Wright has never seen the judge’s scorecards and after suffering the first defeat of his career to Joaquin Buckley at UFC 255, he bounced back against Jamie Pickett at UFC 262 with a first-round KO. Silva on the other hand is on a six-fight win streak with six finishes, including a big KO over Andrew Sanchez at UFC Vegas 40.
Wright is a talented kickboxer with excellent technique and good power too, while Silva is just a terrifying bulldozer of a striker who puts people out cold with 18 KO’s in 21 career wins. Wright has a decent wrestling background, but almost never uses it in the cage and getting into 50/50 exchanges with Silva is a recipe to go to sleep early.
Silva is likely to walk forward with pressure and with a huge advantage in power, cardio and experience this seems like a bit of a mismatch. Wright will try and likely land a couple of clean strikes, but eventually he gets clipped and finished off with some follow-ups to hand Silva yet another KO victory. PICK – Bruno Silva via Knockout, Round 2
Augusto Sakai (15-3-1) vs Tai Tuivasa (13-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The only heavyweight fight on the card up next between a ranked opponent and an unranked fan favourite. Sakai has been defeated in each of his last two fights, which were main events, against Alistair Overeem and then Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 28. Tuivasa returned from a slump to earn three knockout wins in a row, with the most recent coming against Greg Hardy at UFC 264.
Sakai is a good striker on the feet but he is also a decent wrestler with violent ground and pound attacks in his weaponary. Tuivasa is a straight up brawler with one-punch knockout power, more down the route of your traditional heavyweight fighter.
This won’t be the highest quality fight of the night, but there’s likely to be an early finish. The two will stand at range and trade leg kicks for a while before Tuivasa gets frustrated and looks to blitz him. If he lands a big shot after pushing Sakai against the cage, then this one is over. If Sakai goes against the grain and counters, he has the potential to end it early too. I lean towards Tuivasa simply because I expect him to be the guy on the front foot, meaning he’s more likely to land the big shot first. PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 1
Pedro Munhoz (19-6) vs Dominick Cruz (23-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Bantamweight banger up next as 135-pound royalty go head-to-head. Munhoz has lost three of his last four against elite competition, with decision losses to Aljamain Sterling, Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 7 and Jose Aldo at UFC 265 surrounding a win over Jimmie Rivera at UFC Vegas 20. Cruz on the other hand seems to have finally overcome his injury issues to secure a victory over Casey Kenney last time out at UFC 259.
Munhoz is one of the strongest leg kickers in the game with good striking power and very sharp grappling skills, while Cruz is a very good wrestler who uses his excellent footwork to dart in-and-out of range and land his strikes. This is a very intriguing match-up because technically Cruz is a superior fighter, but his lack of power means Munhoz is likely to be willing to walk him down and chop his legs with those trademark kicks.
Cruz has the technical advantages and stylistically should win, but Munhoz’s power with the leg kicks could be a huge game-changer. With that said, Cruz was able to keep his footwork going when Kenney attacked the legs and I think he’s fast enough to make Munhoz miss a lot to claim a decision win. PICK – Dominick Cruz via Decision
Josh Emmett (16-2) vs Dan Ige (15-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger at featherweight is the featured prelim bout. Emmett is on a three-fight win streak with his most recent coming in a fight of the year contender against Shane Burgos at UFC Vegas 3, while Ige is 1-2 in his last three with defeats against Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 1 and Korean Zombie at UFC Vegas 29 coming either side of a 22-second KO win over Gavin Tucker at UFC Vegas 21.
Emmett is a solid boxer with big one-punch power that is almost always the main part of his game plan to a fight. Ige is a very well-rounded fighter with solid wrestling and good punching power to go with his boxing skills. It’s that well-roundedness that leads me to think Ige has a big edge here. Emmett’s persistence in landing that big bomb could let him down, as Ige will look to change levels and secure top position.
With that said, Ige has struggled to land takedowns against top level opposition in the past so Emmett will find comfort in his takedown defence. Emmett is coming off a long lay-off though and unless he is at 100% then Ige is good enough to box-wrestle his way to a judge’s decision. PICK – Dan Ige via Decision
Johnny Munoz def Jamey Simmons via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 2 (2:35)
Cagey start from both men to start out, with neither man looking to grapple early on. Simmons swings a big overhand right that Munoz ducks and goes for a takedown but Simmons avoids easily. Munoz flicking out the jab to keep the distance while Simmons has him against the cage and looks for some more power strikes. Munoz pushing forward with the jab and gets clipped by a left hand by Simmons that causes him to lose balance, but he’s not hurt and gets back to his feet immediately. Short blitz from Munoz and he just misses with a head kick as we enter the final minute of the fight. Simmons lands a nice one-two and then Munoz ducks under and lands a big takedown late in the round. Simmons battles well off his back and the round ends. Super close, I’d go 10-9 Munoz for the takedown but could really go either way.
More of the same to start the second round as Simmons comes out looking to blitz through some jabs, before Munoz ducks under and times a takedown perfectly. Munoz starts working for position and as soon as Simmons goes to his knees Munoz takes his back and puts the hooks in. He starts landing some ground and pound and looks for the rear-naked choke but Simmons fights the hands and breaks the grip. He goes back to his knees but Munoz drags him back down, locks in the choke and gets the tap! Big win for Munoz!
Melissa Gatto def Victoria Leonardo via Doctor’s Stoppage (Broken Arm), Round 2 (5:00)
Good start to the bout from Gatto as she lands a quick one two and then secures a body lock against the cage. She controls the clinch and then with an inside trip gets the takedown nice and easily before starting to search for submissions. She goes for the neck, then moves to a kimura attempt and then ends up on Leonardo’s back looking for chokes and armbars. Leonardo defending well though and eventually is able to roll through and get on top to land a bit of ground and pound herself. Gatto throws up a high guard and is being very active but Leonardo is defending well, following the hips and eventually allows the fight to get back up. Both women clinch and go for an inside trip but both fail at it and the round ends. 10-9 Gatto, but Leonardo can take some encouragement from the ground exchanges.
Second round and Gatto looks a lot fresher than Leonardo, landing a nice jab and forcing Leonardo backwards. Leonardo lands two nice left hands but Gatto is still there and pushing the pace with her range, landing a one-two. Then another one-two and Leonardo looks rocked there, but she comes forward again with a low kick. Gatto continuing to push the pace and lands a nice kick. Leonardo looks tired and Gatto putting the pressure on with strikes, forces Leonardo to shoot but it’s well defended. Leonardo goes for another takedown but is denied again and is stepping backwards a lot, clearly exhausted. 20-18 Gatto for me but could be 19-19.
Between rounds Leonardo says her right arm “isn’t working”. Doctor comes in, takes a look and says that it’s broken. Leonardo says she can fight through it but the referee waves the fight off. Gatto gets the win.
Miles Johns def Anderson Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 3 (1:16)
Tactical start to the fight from both men as they look to control the range, but it’s Johns who is landing the better shots early. Santos looking for clinches but Johns lands two big left hands and then two leg kicks, the last of which drops Dos Santos. Johns landing his jab with ease, but Dos Santos fires back with a right hand. Johns landing jabs at will and another leg kick is causing big problems for Dos Santos. Straight right hand just misses from Johns and Dos Santos forces his way forward but he’s in a lot of trouble with his leg. Johns lands a couple more strikes and Dos Santos is visibly limping. 10-9 Johns, Dos Santos needs to find a solution.
Johns opens up the second round by staying just out of range and using his big right hands to use the injured leg against Dos Santos. Some huge right hands land from Johns but Dos Santos is still standing and lands a nice knee himself. Johns lands a nice body shot and follows with a hook but Dos Santos shoots for a takedown. Johns denies it and lands a huge leg kick again that drops Dos Santos. Dos Santos coming forward but his leg is jacked and Johns is being patient, to the point where Dos Santos puts his hand behind his back. Johns lands a big one two and stays out of the way of any counters but Dos Santos takes it and the round ends. 20-18 Johns.
Final round starts and it’s more of the same from both men, as Johns lands a big right hand followed by a nice combination. Wild exchange from both guys as Dos Santos keeps coming forward. Johns digs a left body shot and lands a huge right hook and puts Dos Santos out cold!! What a knockout!! Wow!!
Manel Kape def Ode Osbourne via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44)
Osbourne takes the centre early on as both men are bouncing and feeling each other out. Kape lands a nice one-two and then a jab to the body, while Osbourne is looking to counter with his big left hand. Kape throws a kick but Osbourne catches it and as Kape falls Osbourne lands a big left hand. Kape and Osbourne both looking to counter each other, and Osbourne lands two excellent left hands clean on the chin. Kape responds with a left straight of his own and steps away. Kape stepping backwards switches stances and lands a huge flying knee bang on the chin that puts Osbourne down! He follows it up with some ground and pound and the referee steps in to end it! What a knockout! Wow!
Interesting start to the fight as Penne lands some quick strikes to rattle KK early. Penne throws a kick that KK catches and Penne falls backwards, which allows KK to throw some big leg kicks while she’s down. She chooses to engage on the ground and Penne is able to sweep her and take top position. She lands some decent strikes from the top and KK fights well from the bottom and attacks a kneebar, but Penne scrambles well and eventually rolls through into an armbar. KK is looking to extend the arm and is attacking the body to free up KK’s grip but she’s battling hard. Penne finally manages to extend the arm and gets the tap! Impressive performance from the veteran!
Alonzo Menifield def Ed Herman via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Menifield comes out fast with some heavy right hands but Herman just about avoids them, before Menifield lands some nice leg kicks. Herman lands a jab, but Menifield responds with one of this own before an overhand just misses again. Herman jab again but Menifield just misses with the counter right and Herman lands a check-left hook that rattles Menifield and cuts the eye. Menifield starting to throw the jab more but Herman throwing with him, so Menifield throws a hard low kick again. Menifield lands two more big leg kicks and gets some big reactions from Herman because of it. 10-9 Menifield.
Herman comes forward very aggressive out of the gate in this round looking to land his left hand, but Menifield moving well and then lands a big right hand of his own. Herman lands a jab but then eats a hard low kick and a jab himself. Menifield loses balance and falls but explodes back up to his feet and then starts throwing bombs of his right hand. Herman is hurt but still standing and Menfield stops pushing for the finish to save himself. Herman lands a big uppercut himself but Menifield eats it. A few hard leg kicks again from Menifield and some good footwork to avoid Herman who’s hunting him right now. Another hard leg kick and Herman is limping badly and forced to switch stances. Lots of jostling in the final seconds but then Herman goes for a push kick and Menifield moves away and then smashes a hard low kick again that drops Herman on the buzzer. 20-18 Menifield.
Menifield comes out hard in the final round and Herman pulls guard immediately but eats some heavy ground and pound shots. Menifield moves to side control, lands some strikes then gets up and tells Herman to get back up too. Menifield staying very patient and lands a nice left hand against the cage, but Herman is just looking to survive right now by circling and avoiding damage. Big head kick from Menifield lands but not much action in this round so far. Big right hand from Menifield lands clean but Herman is still standing somehow. Big one-two from Menifield as he stays on the outside. Big right hand misses and Herman lands a left but Menifield lands a jab and moves away to end the fight. 30-27 Menifield.
Cagey start to this fight from both men, with Morales stepping forward but not throwing much and Rodriguez just flicking out the stiff jab well. Morales throws a decent right overhand to counter Rodriguez’s jab, but the jab lands cleaner and is doing a fair bit of damage to the nose. Morales keeping Rodriguez pinned to the cage but he’s moving well and then Rodriguez lands a nice right hand to create himself some space. Right overhand and uppercut just misses from Morales before he ducks under a Rodriguez shot and secures a body lock to try and get the takedown. Rodriguez does well to get to the cage though and then separates to stay on the feet. Short exchange and Rodriguez lands a flush right hand on the buzzer. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.
Second round starts very well for Morales as he catches a low kick from Rodriguez and throws a straight right hand down the pipe that drops him! He goes to ground but Rodriguez defends and he then steps up and allows Rodriguez back to his feet. Rodriguez lands a short left hook back on the feet and then he goes for a takedown of his own, but Morales defends mostly until Rodriguez switches to a single but then he scrambles back up to his feet. Rodriguez then sweeps him back down but Morales gets back up quickly again before being dumped down and getting back up. Morales starting to land his right hands but Rodriguez responds with a low leg kick and a right hand. Short one-two lands from Rodriguez before a left hook lands again, but Morales is still in there and doing well. 20-18 Rodriguez for me.
Cagey start to the third round once again as Morales starts to come forward a bit more aggressively, but Rodriguez landing his straight right hand well. Both men throwing at a similar volume and Rodriguez goes for a takedown but it’s denied. Morales starts chasing but Rodriguez avoiding a lot of damage with good footwork. Morales goes for the takedown but Rodriguez defends it brilliantly against the cage and then misses with a head kick. Final minute of the fight now and Morales is pushing forward throwing heavy left hands, but they’re largely missing. Rodriguez lands a big counter right hand and then Morales lands a big left as the fight comes to an end. Morales round, but 29-28 Rodriguez for me. Could go either way though.
Rafael Fiziev def Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Cagey start from both men as Fiziev looks to land some kicks early but Green is out of the way relatively easily. Nice right hand from Green lands as Fiziev looks to throw another body kick and two hooks. Left hand from Green misses then Fiziev charges forward with a nice combination that ends with a kick, but he mostly misses. Green is landing some slick shots but Fiziev is dangerous and busy with his kicks and then just misses with an elbow. Right hand and body kick lands from Green but Fiziev responds with a nice elbow before both men make each other miss just on the buzzer. Really tough round to score, 10-9 Green probably but really could be either way.
Second round and Fiziev lands a hard low kick and a big right hook but Green eats it. Green clinches up but eats an elbow before responding with a nice right of his own, before Fiziev steps forward with two hooks. Green catches a kick and tries to force Fiziev down but he stays standing so well and steps forward again with hooks and kicks. Green is slipping strikes perfectly but he’s eating leg and body kicks more frequently now. Both men land big body kicks but Fiziev then lands a big strike that rocks Green. Fiziev throws knees and hooks but Green eats it and pushes him away, then clinches after avoiding a head kick. Fiziev’s kicks starting to take effect but Green is still there and throwing hands back well. Both guys trade leg kicks then Fiziev lands a big elbow and cuts Green. Both guys throwing hooks and jabs and really going to war. What a round. 19-19 for me.
Fire start to the final round once again as Fiziev steps forward again and lands a big right hand that rocks Green. Green stands firm and both men start throwing down in the centre of the octagon. Fiziev throws some hard leg kicks but Green throwing one-twos down the middle again. Fiziev and Green going to war with hard hooks and feints. Green lands some big hooks and two one-twos of his own down the middle. Fiziev throwing body and leg kicks but Green is still pushing forward with big punches of his own. Green looks fresher and is landing the jabs and then catches Fiziev’s body kick attempt to land a knee to the body of his own. Huge short elbow from Fiziev and then Green lands some huge bombs with the right hand as the fight ends! What a crazy fight. 29-28 Green for me, but it’s all on that first round.
Song Yadong def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Fast start to the fight as Yadong steps forward and throws fast combinations early, while Kenney looks to close the distance and pressure Yadong. Body kick from Kenney lands but Yadong catches it. Kenney taunts Yadong by laughing at him so Yadong throws a solid body kick and Kenney responds with a hard low leg kick. Yadong throwing good combinations and kicks, not allowing Kenney to settle and back him against the fence. Yadong goes for a kick but slips and Kenney jumps on him immediately, but Yadong works his way back up to the feet quickly and escapes. Both guys just miss with big hooks as the round ends. 10-9 Yadong.
Second starts off exactly the same as Yadong steps forward but Kenney looking to apply pressure. Nice body shots from Yadong and then Kenney replies with a nice left hook onto the chin. Kenney forcing Yadong backwards and throwing low kicks, but Yadong replies with his own low kicks too. Yadong circling away but Kenney is pushing and Yadong is slowing down. Not a single takedown attempt yet from Kenney is surprising. Nice left hand from Kenney but then Yadong replies with a nice right. Two left hands land from Kenney and Yadong clinches against the cage, before Kenney switches and goes for the takedown himself to end the round. Closer round, 19-19.
Final round and Yadong is landing his strikes better, with Kenney slowing down a little and being less bouncy and mobile. Yadong with three hard body kicks but Kenney continues to come forward and looking to land jabs. Kenney throws a head kick and the knee connects with the head but Yadong eats it and comes forward. Good body shots from Yadong and Kenney shoots for a takedown, but Yadong sprawls and denies him. Yadong lands a jab and two body kicks but Kenney throws a nice right hook. Final minute and Kenney goes for the takedown again but Yadong sprawls once more. Kenney ducks under a strike and secures a takedown with seconds left and lands some big elbows from the top to end the round. I think that’s 29-28 Yadong but that’s a really close fight again.
Tecia Torres def Angela Hill via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Good start to the fight from Torres as she gets herself into range and lands some nice strikes and flurries. Hill looks to clinch up and then catches a kick to put Torres on the ground then looks to hold her down, but Torres does really well to get up and out of it. Hard leg kick from Torres on Hill, who comes forward with a one-two and a head kick attempt but they all miss. Torres shoots for a takedown but Hill gets immediately back up. Torres lands a body kick then just misses with a spinning back fist. Torres ducks under a strike and goes for a takedown but bails and lands some big strikes, but Hill replies with three of her own. Big kicks from Torres to end the round as Hill tries for a takedown. 10-9 Torres.
Hill pushing the pressure in the second round as Torres uses her side kicks to push her away and keep the range between them. Hill lands two nice strikes as Torres looks for a kick, but then she lands a big check-right hook and pivots away. Big side kick to the body again from Torres and then two big hooks. She goes for the kick again but Hill catches it and pulls her in for a body lock and takedown attempt, before landing some knees against the cage and a right hand on the break. Head kick from Torres and Hill grabs for the clinch. Hill throws knees but Torres avoids most of them and lands some huge hooks of her own in the clinch before they break. Wild exchange from both ladies and Hill gets the better of it with a big left hand. Big flurry ends with Torres on her back and Hill moves into mount immediately but the round ends. 20-18 Torres for me.
Final round and Hill is coming forward aggressively again and looks to clinch and trip her. Torres too quick though and is moving well, landing nice right hands well. Hill putting the pressure on and sprawls to deny a Torres takedown then lands a nice right hand. Torres goes for a kick that Hill catches again and lands a big right hand down the middle, but Torres keeps throwing strikes in return. Nice right hand from Hill and then a knee in the clinch but Torres breaks away. Big lunging right hand from Torres lands again before Hill goes in for a takedown but gets denied. Torres changes levels and gets a takedown with 20 seconds to go and lands some good ground strikes before the buzzer goes. 30-27 Torres for me, competitive but pretty straight forward.
Vicente Luque def Michael Chiesa via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 1 (3:25)
Very cagey start to the round with Chiesa circling on the outside and Luque holding the centre. Hard low kick lands from Luque and Chiesa fires off a big one-two that cuts Luque’s eye immediately. Luque comes forward hard and Chiesa ducks under and gets the takedown. Immediately he slides the knee over and takes the back to start searching for a rear naked choke. He has a crank in tight but Luque fights the hands and Chiesa switches to an armbar but loses it. As they go to get up to the feet Luque sinks in a d’arce choke and it’s tight! Chiesa tries to fight it but Luque tightens it and Chiesa taps! Wow!
Jose Aldo def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to the fight from Munhoz as he takes the centre and throws a couple of hard leg kicks. Head kick attempt misses from Munhoz and then Aldo makes him miss with the hands too. Nice one-two from Aldo and then a straight right lands nicely too. Nasty left hook to the body from Aldo and a jab, but Munhoz still has the centre and is throwing bombs with his right hand. Nice right hand from Munhoz and he’s swinging for the stands, but Aldo counters with a body shot and uppercut. 10-9 Aldo.
Munhoz coming very aggressive again with some leg kicks but Aldo is checking them and then throws one of his own. Munhoz stepping in with more leg kicks and a looping right hand but Aldo hangs in there and fires back with a big right hand before a combination to the body. Aldo’s jab is landing well and defensively he looks sound as usual, with Munhoz struggling to land anything of note so far. Aldo checks a leg kick then goes back for the body combination, but Munhoz’s leg kicks are still there and he’s still in Aldo’s face. Aldo fakes the right knee and lands a big right straight as the round ends. Another close round, but I think that’s 20-18 Aldo.
Final round and Munhoz comes out with a big blitz early on. Aldo returns fire with a beautiful combo of his own before Munhoz clinches up. Aldo working the jab again as Munhoz goes for a spinning capoeira kick and misses. Triple jab from Aldo lands and he follows it with a big combination to the chin. Hard low kick from Aldo but Munhoz responds with a hard right hand and Ado retreats a little. Big leg kick from Aldo drops Munhoz and he follows it up with two hard right hands that cut Munhoz over the eye. Aldo lands a three-punch combo and follows it with a leg kick that gets a big reaction from Munhoz again. Final 30 seconds and Munhoz goes for a big spinning wheel kick before Aldo hits him with another big combo and leg kick to see the fight out. Should be a big win for Aldo. 30-27.
Ciryl Gane def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 3 (4:11)
Lewis opens the fight with a high kick and slips and then Gane slides a right hand in on his way back up. Gane bouncing, with some light leg kicks and pokes to the knee as Lewis starts to step forward. Lewis changes levels to load up his right hand but Gane scoots out of the way and evades before he even throws. Leg kicks from Gane once again and then Lewis throws a right hand to the body. Lewis goes for an inside leg kick but catches the cup flush and causes a pause in the action. Lewis steps forward again and Gane immediately ducks under and clinches up before they break. Lewis swings a big right hand again but Gane literally runs away from it before resetting. Big right hand from Gane before a hard low kick and then a stiff jab to the face as the round ends. 10-9 Gane.
Second round and Gane once again comes out with his jab landing flush. Lewis lands a hard leg kick and then tries a flying switch kick but Gane is too quick and is gone before he gets there. Gane with some more short kicks to the leg before Lewis explodes and tries to rush Gane, only for Gane to throw him off to the side. Flying knee attempt from Gane sees them end up in a clinch and Gane throwing big knees to the thighs and overpowering Lewis against the cage. Gane lets a big elbow and right hand fly but both just miss as the round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Some heavy leg kicks land from Gane to open the round before a right hand over the top just clips Lewis. Another hard leg kick, then another and then another as Lewis struggles to get any sort of offense going. High kick from Lewis is blocked and then Lewis goes to clinch up, but once again Gane just stuffs his attemts. Knee to the body in the clinch and then a big leg kick again and Lewis is hurt bad! Gane goes in for the finish and lands some huge strikes to the head and Lewis is covering up. Lewis throws a few haymakers but misses wildly and then Gane throws a big knee and more strikes that drop Lewis. He gets on top and lands some bombs and the referee steps in! It’s allll over! Ciryl Gane with a huge knockout win. What a performance.
The UFC heavyweight division moves a step closer to naming a solidified number one contender as Derrick Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265.
After a deal with Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones couldn’t be found, the UFC moved to keep the division moving and will see the number two and three ranked heavyweights battle it out in the main event with the winner essentially guaranteeing themselves the next shot at the belt.
In the co-main event Jose Aldo continues his push for bantamweight greatness when he takes on Pedro Munhoz, while the welterweight division looks to create a new contender too as Michael Chiesa takes on Vicente Luque.
We skipped last week’s Hall vs Strickland card, which means we remain on 374/387 correct picks (63.71%) with 165 perfect picks (44.12%).
Song Yadong (16-5-1) vs Casey Kenney (16-3-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger in the bantamweight division as two highly-rated 135lbers look to get themselves back into the win column. Yadong was beaten by Kyler Phillips back at UFC 259 last time out, while Kenney suffered defeat to former champion Dominick Cruz on the same night.
Yadong is traditionally a kung-fu fighter but he has got good boxing and also some decent defensive wrestling chops. He’ll need all of that when he takes on Kenney, who is a top level wrestler but also has got some good power in his striking and kicks. Yadong’s cardio is his biggest advantage in this bout, with Kenney fairly often fading away in the third round.
If Kenney chooses to wrestle almost exclusively then he is more than good enough to wrap up the first two rounds and then look to survive the third when he eventually tires. But against Cruz he opted to battle it out on the feet and Yadong is a better striker who could punish that decision. Really close and interesting fight, but I think Kenney’s wrestling proves the difference. PICK – Casey Kenney via Decision
Tecia Torres (12-5) vs Angela Hill (13-9) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
Torres is scrappy boxer with good striking and some decent wrestling in her arsenal too, while Hill is a well-rounded Muay-Thai fighter who uses her knees and cardio brilliantly. Torres has fought some of the best around and while she’s not as good as she once was she still has a terrific skillset. Hill on the other hand has never really beaten any of the top contenders and wins fights she’s supposed to win.
Torres has a size disadvantage but Hill will look to wrestle and clinch, which can open opportunities up for her to land her offense. The issue both of these women have is that neither have fight-changing power so it really comes down to skill. For me, Torres is the more skilled of the two though and she should claim a win. PICK – Tecia Torres via Decision
Michael Chiesa (18-4) vs Vicente Luque (20-7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Chiesa is a magnificent wrestler and grappler, with incredible jiu-jitsu and superhuman strength on the ground, while Luque is a powerhouse with aggressive boxing but also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Chiesa will undoubtedly use his kicks before shooting for takedowns and if he gets control on the mat then he very rarely lets it slip. In Luque though he has someone who can knock him out if he makes a mistake and can also hold his own on the ground.
Luque’s struggled in the past against the best of the best and right now Chiesa is one of the best. His fight IQ is very high, his grappling is good enough to beat anyone in the division and I think he’s content to make it boring and control the distance and ground exchanges to earn a very big win. PICK – Michael Chiesa via Decision
Jose Aldo (29-7) vs Pedro Munhoz (19-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Aldo is arguably one of the best ever, with brilliant striking and kicking to go with his jiu-jitsu black belt and stunning wrestling defence. Munhoz is a good boxer and kicker himself with decent wrestling too, so this is a well balanced fight. The issue for Munhoz however is that Aldo is still so elite, despite recent results.
I find it hard to look at this match-up and see Aldo coming out second best. Munhoz is good enough to cause Aldo problems but I think the Brazilian earns himself the win by mixing his striking attack up to the body and head. PICK – Jose Aldo via Decision
Derrick Lewis (25-7) vs Ciryl Gane (9-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A huge heavyweight battle for the interim title headlines this card as Derrick Lewis takes on the undefeated Ciryl Gane. Lewis is on a four-fight win streak, with a stunning one-punch finish over Curtis Blaydes at UFC Vegas 19. Gane has fought twice since then, beating Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov via unanimous decisions and keeping his 100% record.
Lewis is a big man with decent offensive wrestling but a hammer of a right hand and stunning ground and pound that can literally put any man to sleep. Gane on the other hand is a very technical and polished kickboxer who has rounded his game out with good takedowns and even some submissions. Gane is undoubtedly the better fighter of the two and uses his range well, with kicks and great cardio but sometimes that doesn’t matter because Lewis is always just one punch away from ending the fight.
Unfortunately though, I do think that one punch hail mary won’t be enough this time. Gane is so good at moving in, landing his strike then moving away before he takes any damage. He’s powerful himself and talented enough to earn a big win and set up a huge title fight against former teammate Ngannou later down the line. PICK – Ciryl Gane via Decision
Angela Hill vs Ashley Yoder was cancelled on the day of the event due to a positive COVID-19 test from one of Yoder’s cornermen. The fight has been rescheduled for UFC Vegas 21, on March 13th.
The card will proceed with nine fights.
Dustin Jacoby def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Pretty steady start to the fight from both fighters as both men meet in the middle and trade calf kicks. A few attempts that miss from both guys before Grishin looks for a shot and takedown. Jacoby avoids it then as he steps forward Grishin lands a nice straight right that drops Jacoby. Grishin lands a big strike onto him on the ground then looks to take the back but Jacoby defends well and gets back up to his feet relatively unscathed. Heavy calf kick from Grishin lands before Jacoby just misses with a mean overhand right. Jacoby lands a nice head kick but Grishin walked through it and lands a big leg kick in return. Grishin lands a big punch after catching a kick and drops Jacoby again and ends the round on his back looking for a rear naked choke. 10-9 Grishin.
Jacoby with a better start to this round, landing some nice calf kicks and his jab well too, as Grishin fakes a few level changes and looks for some counter strikes. Jacoby circling on the outside against the cage, with Grishin looking to cut him off with good footwork and some nice hooks. Nice jab from Jacoby and then a clean left hook lands as Grishin starting to slow down a little. Grishin looks to clinch up but Jacoby lands a huge right hook that pushes Grishin onto his back foot. Lazy shot from the Russian is easily stuffed by Jacoby and he looks to be in the ascendancy as the round comes to a close. 19-19 going into the third.
Grishin doing well in this third round by taking the centre and landing the left hand well. Grishin throws a nice leg kick that takes Jacoby off balance but he bounces up quickly again. Grishin throws another leg kick but Jacoby checks it and sends Grishin off balance. Jacoby throws a flying knee that partially lands, but Grishin grabs hold of him and tries to tie him up on the cage, switching positions and landing a nice combo. Final minute of the round and it’s still up for grabs but Jacoby’s leg attacks are stacking up. Grishin now avoiding the leg attacks and lands a nice combo against the cage to end the round. Really close, but I lean towards Grishin for that final round. 29-28 Grishin.
Ronnie Lawrence def Vince Cachero via Knockout, Round 3 (2:38)
Lots of fast movements from both fighters in the opening minute of the fight, with Lawrence bouncing around on the outside and throwing leg kicks and spinning body kicks, while Cachero looks to land shots as he comes in. Lawrence finally shoots and gets the takedown immediately, but after some scrambles Cachero manages to get back to the feet. Lawrence continues to strike well on the feet with Cachero still looking for counter strikes, landing a big right hand before another takedown attempt. Lawrence gets into top position and avoids a triangle attempt from Cachero and ends the round in a dominant position. 10-9 Lawrence.
More of the same in the second round as Lawrence comes out really aggressive with kicks and body work. Cachero looks to be a step behind on the feet and Lawrence is so busy too, constantly touching him or moving. Takedown from Lawrence again and he holds the position well this time on top and passes into side control. Lawrence looks for the neck and Cachero gets back up to his feet, then Lawrence takes him down again but Cachero grabs the neck and goes for a guillotine. He transitions to a d’arce choke attempt but Lawrence defends it perfectly, stands up and then takes the fight down once again. He looks for a head and arm choke from three-quarter mount but Cachero defends well until the round ends. 20-18 Lawrence.
Both fighters meet in the middle and Lawrence throws a spinning body kick again. Nice leg kick lands and drops Cachero and Lawrence goes straight for a finish. Lots of short ground and pound strikes before a German suplex slams Cachero down again. Lawrence maintains control on the top and starts landing ground and pound and looks to take the back. Cachero defends well but Lawrence ends up back on top and is throwing big ground and pound strikes from mount now. So many strikes from Lawrence as Cachero keeps trying to move but Lawrence is relentless and gets the stoppage win. What a performance.
Alexis Davis def Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Fast start to the fight as both women open up with big combo exchanges, with Mazo landing hard and heavy early on. Mazo throws a body kick as Davis throws a leg kick which drops Mazo, and Davis drops down to make it a grappling match quickly. Davis passes into side control relatively quickly and Mazo tries to explode up, but Davis holds on and takes her back. Both hooks in and she rolls away from the cage and as she hunts for a rear-naked choke Mazo tries to reverse the position but Davis holds it and ends the round landing shots while having back control. 10-9 Davis but Mazo was dominant on the feet early on, so will have confidence.
Davis comes out aggressive in the second with lots of peppering leg kicks and marching forward, but Mazo is staying calm and throwing shots back herself. Lots of jabs and straights from Mazo landing clean on Davis, but the leg kicks are persistent and causing lots of damage to Mazo right now. The Colombian Queen continues to come forward with her jab but Davis’s leg kicks are so relentless. Final 30 seconds of the round and Davis shoots for the takedown and gets it and ends the round on top. Close round, but probably Davis’. 20-18.
Final round and Mazo throws a body kick that gets caught and she gets sent back to the ground almost immediately. Mazo looks for a heel hook to threaten but Davis defends it well and gets back on top with ground and pound before taking her back early on in the round. Mazo looks to reverse into her guard but Davis looks fresher and stronger and pops back onto the top. More ground and pound from Davis and Mazo looks for an armbar but it’s defended well and she’s able to take the back once again. Final minute and she’s hunting for a finish but Mazo defending honourably and manages to see the round out. 30-27 Davis, very good performance from the veteran.
Thiago Moises def Alexander Hernandez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Fun start to the round with both guys pushing forward and throwing heavy strikes together. Hernandez taking the centre of the cage and forcing Moises to circle along the cage, with the Brazilian throwing lots of heavy calf kicks. Hernandez lands a nice body kick and is throwing good shots to the head and body. Moises lands a nice right hand on Hernandez and then Hernandez fires back with a body kick that clips the top of the cup and causes a pause in the action. Both fighters meet in the middle once the action resumes and the both miss wild overhand rights at the same time. Moises lands a heavy right hand that cracks Hernandez and he pushes forward for a finish, but misses everything and the round ends. Close, but I edge it to Moises. 10-9.
Hernandez opens the round with a right hand that misses and Moises lands a beautiful counter strike of his own. Hernandez is trying to be first a lot the time and Moises seems content with that and counters back perfectly almost every time. Spinning back kick from Moises is partially blocked but does some damage, before a nice left hand stuns Hernandez. Moises’ striking defence has been stellar so far and the round ends with Moises coming forward with big swings but Hernandez avoiding them and landing a nice counter of his own. 20-18 but again, close round.
Moises comes out hard early in the final round and lands some nice right hands. Hernandez still in this as Moises shoots for a takedown but Hernandez stuffs it and lands some nice punches as Moises holds his foot before they separate. Moises throws a few head kick attempts that narrowly miss as they continue to swing and miss on each other. Big head kick from Moises lands and he starts talking to Hernandez while walking him down and throwing big strikes and kicks. Hernandez stays composed but doesn’t land anything significant as the round ends. 30-27 Moises for me.
Alex Caceres def Kevin Croom via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
Croom comes out hard early on with some heavy swings but Caceres stays composed, avoids them and lands some nice kicks to the legs and body. Croom comes forward though and is looking to make it a dirty fight, clinching up and trying to grind him down. Caceres gets double underhooks and looks for some knees but Croom escapes well and continues to press against the cage for a trip. Croom finally manages to get the fight down by dragging Caceres from his back, but he ends up on the bottom and eats some big ground and pound shots. He gets back to the feet and tries the same takedown again to end the round. 10-9 Caceres.
Croom comes out looking for a takedown early once again, but Caceres defends it really well once again. Croom goes in for another shot and eats a beautiful check right-hook that stuns him, but he continues to come forward again. Another takedown attempt and Caceres starting to feel it so Croom finally gets him down. He lands a nice elbow but then Caceres throws up a triangle and it looks tight. He picks the ankle too and tries to tighten it and as it looks like no way out for Croom, he then inexcusably just lets it go!? They battle for position for the remainder of the round but that is probably a Croom round. 19-19.
Final round and Caceres lands some huge counter strikes that wobble Croom! He keeps walking forward and is throwing some really lazy takedown attempt, clearly is absolutely exhausted. Caceres is defending the takedown attempts with ease and landing some nice strikes and eventually Caceres is the one who gets the takedown. He takes the back and wraps in a body triangle and starts throwing some ground and pound, before looking to sink in a rear naked choke. More ground and pound strikes from Caceres as he takes the round, potentially a 10-8, and the victory.
Pedro Munhoz def Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Crazy start to this one as Munhoz rushes out and goes for a high kick that gets countered and he ends up on his face. Both men stand in the pocket and trade big hooks and crosses each, with Rivera landing the heavier shots. Munhoz throwing some heavy calf kicks to the lead leg, while Rivera is countering with huge hooks that are landing flush. Rivera starting to return the leg kicks now too as Munhoz is wearing the damage more on his face. Munhoz lands two big calf kicks and drops Rivera both times! Rivera responds with a nice one two but his leg is in bits as the round ends. 10-9 Rivera.
Munhoz goes for another leg kick but Rivera moves and counters with a straight right hand and then charges forward to get the fight down to the ground. Munhoz instantly goes for a leg lock but Rivera rolls through into a 50/50 position and both fighters let go and stand back up. Rivera lands three big shots in a row but Munhoz fires a nasty leg kick in the middle of it that drops him to one knee again. Rivera throwing a few kicks of his own and then they both exchange big left hooks that land simultaneously. Munhoz lands another kick that drops Rivera and denies a takedown attempt from Rivera too. A wild exchange in the centre ends the round and it’s a Munhoz one. 19-19.
Final round and it’s all to fight for, so Rivera comes storming out and starts throwing big hooks and straights that land clean. Munhoz continues to throw the leg kicks and then throws one up to the head too. Rivera still throwing big punches but Munhoz showing that chin that has seen him never get stopped. Two accidental low blows from Munhoz cause short breaks but they go again. Final minute and Rivera lands two huge left hands and Munhoz is wobbled. He catches the leg kick and throws some big strikes and has Munhoz backing up but it’s not enough for the knockout and it’ll go to a decision. 29-28 Munhoz.
Montana De La Rosa vs Mayra Bueno Silva – Majority Draw (27-28, 28-28 x2)
Fast start from De La Rosa as she comes out and lands a couple of nice punches square to the face of Silva early on. Silva looks for a Thai clinch on a couple of occasions but De La Rosa is able to get the underhooks and push her against the cage. She gets the takedown nicely and Silva is able to get back up, but De La Rosa tries to put her back down immediately and is denied only by a fence grab. The referee stops the fight and deducts a point from Silva because it prevented a takedown. They go again and Silva lands more excellent knees while De La Rosa’s right hand is connecting well too. Great round, 10-8 De La Rosa.
Second round starts quickly again and Silva lands a big head kick that rocks De La Rosa! She’s throwing with some real venom and forces De La Rosa to shoot for a takedown, but Silva defends it well and ends up on top. Some big ground and pound from the Brazilian but De La Rosa gets back up to the feet well and recovers. Nice takedown attempt from De La Rosa and she eventually is able to dump her down and control from top position. Lots of ground and pound strikes and ends the round looking for a head and arm choke. Very close round, but 20-17 for me.
Silva opens the round once again with a Thai clinch and a head kick attempt that just misses. Silva throws a nice left hand that lands but De La Rosa closes the distance well and they tie up against the cage. De La Rosa looks for a takedown against the cage and Silva starts throwing elbows and punches, which busts up the nose of De La Rosa. She gets her up against the cage and goes for a single leg but instead of taking her down just holds against the cage and tries to beat her up. Into the final minute and De La Rosa gets the takedown and ends the round on top landing ground and pound for what should be a decision win.
Magomed Ankalaev def Nikita Krylov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A tentative start to this one as Krylov closes the distance early and immediately goes for a takedown, not looking to trade on the feet too much. He gets him against the cage and eventually drags him to the ground, isolating the leg and trying to hold him down. Ankalaev is able to get up to his feet and they separate, which allows Ankalaev to start throwing some strikes. Nothing significant from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Ankalaev shoots for a takedown but Krylov is able to stay on the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Krylov, just.
Wild start to the round as Ankalaev comes out and looks to land some big shots early on. Krylov circling on the outside with his back to the cage, as Ankalaev circling and taking the centre cutting him off. Nice left hook from Ankalaev lands but Krylov responds with a right cross of his own. Takedown attempt from Krylov denied and then Ankalaev gets a clinch and lands a big knee up the middle. Krylov goes for a spinning attack but Ankalaev reads it and gets a takedown off it and ends up in top position. Krylov defending well from the bottom in his butterfly guard, so Ankalaev pops up and forces the issue to get Krylov on his back and lands a couple of elbows before the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Body kick from Krylov opens up the round but Ankalaev continues to march forward. Krylov goes for a takedown but it’s shrugged off and seconds late it’s Ankalaev who shoots against the cage. Nice inside trip gets the fight down and he’s looking to land some ground and pound, but Krylov is able to get back upright. Ankalaev holds on to him and eventually trips him back down against the cage and starts throwing some ground and pound. Complete control from top position by Ankalaev for the remainder of the round and that should be enough to get him a victory. 29-28 Ankalaev.
Ciryl Gane def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
Very slow start to the fight as both mean stand in the centre and just kind of stare each other out for the first two minutes. Gane flicks out a lovely jab and avoids a wild swing from Rozenstruik but other than that not much action so far as we hit the halfway point of the round. Gane throws a lazy body kick that Rozenstruik catches and then he throws a combo, of which one punch lands. Gane throws a better body kick and then changes levels to go in for a takedown against the cage. Rozenstruik defends and then goes for some elbows, which allows Gane to get the takedown to end the round. 10-9 Gane.
More of the same from both fighters in the second round as Gane throws the snappy jab and some body kicks, while Rozenstruik is just waiting for the right moment to throw a big counter strike. A couple more jabs and Rozenstruik steps forward to start an attack and Gane changes levels quickly and turns him against the cage. Gane then throws Rozenstruik to the ground and jumps to take the back for a choke, but Rozenstruik escapes quickly. Rozenstruik catches a kick and walks him backwards but doesn’t throw anything and allows Gange off the hook and the second round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Gane starting to loosen up a bit in this round with a nice head kick early on that brings a smile from both competitors. More jabs and some leg kicks too from Gane, while Rozenstruik is still very flat and throwing next to nothing. Big swing from both men lands simultaneously but they both continue to stand tall. More jabs from Gane to the chin and body, before a nice on-two followed by a leg kick lands too. Jab and leg kick combo from Rozenstruik lands nicely and he ends the round landing a big right hook that Gane eats and goes for a single leg as the buzzer goes. 30-27 Gane, light work right now.
Gane continues from the outside with the jab and fighting at a really easy pace, with Rozenstruik essentially refusing to throw at this point. Gane on the front foot and landing lots of leg kicks and jabs, but just really untroubled. Gane goes to close the distance against the cage and throws a knee that glances the cup and causes a pause in the action. Nice jab from Gane followed with a big left hook lands clean as he sees out the round with ease. 40-36, this isn’t a good fight at all.
Final round and Gane continues with what he’s been doing for the past 20 minutes – jabs and leg kicks. Rozenstruik still seemingly forgetting he’s allowed to hit Gane back, as Gane closes the distance and clinches up against the cage. Both men throw some light knees before they separate and get straight back to the pattern of the fight so far. Rozenstruik throws a left hand and Gane overpowers him back to the cage and clinches up as we enter the final 90 seconds. Gane uses his strength again and takes the back of Rozenstruik before dragging him down momentarily and the fight ends against the cage. 50-45 Gane, bleh.
Last week we went 6/12 for predictions with just two perfect picks, taking us to 236/371 (63.61%) with 106 (44.92%) perfect picks since starting in June 2020. We’ll look to improve that this weekend with a fun 12 fight card and having already started with the prelim fights, we’ll preview the main card here.
Alex Caceres (17-12 1NC) vs Kevin Croom (21-12 1NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Caceres is an exciting fighter, who throws lots of spinning attacks and can fight from either stance while Croom is very much a kill-or-be-killed style fighter. Caceres is the better martial artist of the two, with better footwork, a better jab and better kicks but Croom has the power advantage and is more likely to get a finish. Despite that, I think Caceres is able to outlast Croom for the full 15 minutes but more likely is that Croom lands the more telling shots throughout and gets a finish. PICK – Kevin Croom via Knockout, Round 2
Angela Hill (12-9) vs Ashley Yoder (8-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Despite their close fight the first time around, I can’t see this one being as competitive. Hill is the better striker by a distance and has improved her ground game to a point where she can stuff the takedowns of some of the better wrestlers in the division and fight off her back and get back to her feet well. Yoder will try to get this fight to the ground to add to her four submission wins, but Hill is just too advanced now and should get a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Angela Hill via Decision
Pedro Munhoz (18-5) vs Jimmie Rivera (23-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Probably the highest level fight on the card as Munhoz and Rivera meet in a rematch from back in 2015. Rivera won that one via split decision and has since gone on to have a great run in the UFC although he has lost three of his last five but won against Cody Stamann last time out. Munhoz has lost two in a row too, losing to Aljamain Sterling and Frankie Edgar most recently back in August.
Munhoz is a fantastic wrestler and has great power in his hands, similar to Gilbert Burns in the way that he’ll march forward and throw knowing he can grapple. Rivera is the more polished and better striker though and he has fantastic takedown defence too. If Munhoz can get the fight down then he should be able to ride out to a comfortable decision from top control, but the chances of him getting the takedown are slim. Rivera is incredibly experienced and has such an edge on the feet, plus a win over Munhoz already, that I think we see a repeat here. PICK – Jimmie Rivera via Decision
Montana De La Rosa (11-6) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight clash between two unranked fighters looking to make their way into the top 15. De La Rosa got beaten by Andrea Lee back in 2019 before getting a win over Mara Romero Borella and then suffering a loss last time out to Viviane Araujo in September. Silva on the other hand lost her first fight of 2020 to Maryna Moroz before bouncing back with an impressive submission win over Romero Borella in September.
Both these women are impressive grapplers, with 13 submission wins combined in their careers. Silva has some decent boxing behind her too, coming out of the same camp that a certain Charles Oliveira trains at. Neither fighter will be keen to go to the ground with the other because of the submission threat, which means the striking becomes key. Silva has that advantage and she’s arguably got the better jiu-jitsu too, although De La Rosa has the better wrestling. It’s not the most confident pick, but Silva gets a decision win for me. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Decision
Nikita Krylov (27-7) vs Magomed Ankalaev (14-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A very, very fun fight at light heavyweight as Nikita Krylov steps into the octagon to take on Magomed Ankalaev. Krylov is only 28-years-old but has 34 professional fights to his name, alternating wins and losses in his last five going back to 2018. Ankalaev was literally one second away from a perfect 15-0 record, but was submitted at 4:59 of round three against Paul Craig back in 2018. He won his last two fights by knockout against Ion Cutelaba, with serious power in the rematch after a controversial first fight.
Krylov is a sensational grappler with good power in his hands, while Ankalaev is a fantastic striker with excellent takedown defence. Ankalaev’s footwork is high level, while he loves to throw a head kick in the same way Krylov does. It’s a really exciting match up that is evenly matched for the most part. Krylov has the edge on the ground but whether he can get it there is questionable, while on the feet Ankalaev has the edge but Krylov isn’t completely outclassed there.
It should be highly competitive but with Ankalaev’s power advantage on the feet, I think the Russian can get it done. PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 3
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) vs Ciryl Gane (7-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The blueprint to beat Rozenstruik is there, despite the fact he got the win, from the fight against Alistair Overeem. He has unbelievable power as he showed to win that Overeem fight, but a top kickboxer is able to keep distance and land big on him. Gane has the ability to do all that, but also can take the fight to the mat and bust out some of his excellent submission skills too. Gane doesn’t have Ngannou power, but he does train with him on a regular basis and they will be perfectly prepared for Rozenstruik’s style.
While I wouldn’t be shocked to see Rozenstruik land a killer shot that puts Gane away because his power is that insane, I think Gane is the more well rounded martial artist, has the speed and footwork advantage and I think he gets a huge win to break into the top five. PICK – Ciryl Gane via Decision
The UFC hosted yet another card from the APEX in Las Vegas, but it was chopped and changed a crazy amount in the 24 hours prior.
Calen Born didn’t weigh in for his fight with Dwight Grant, while Takashi Sato successfully weighed-in before being pulled from the fight against Daniel Rodriguez by the medical team. Grant and Rodriguez will now fight each other.
Marc Striegl pulled out of the opening fight following weight-cut related issues and was replaced by Trevin Jones on short notice to make the bout a catchweight 140lbs fight.
Ovince Saint-Preux tested positive for COVID-19 on the day of the fight and therefore his fight against Alonzo Menifield was cancelled. It will be rescheduled for some time in September, per the UFC.
Trevin Jones def Timur Valiev via Knockout, Round 2 (1:59)
A fast paced opening round between these two with Valiev putting in plenty of body work to begin with. Valiev showing good movement and excellent kicking skills while he’s making Jones bite on all his feints. A beautiful teep kick down the middle sees Jones fold in pain and Valiev jumps on the attack with knees, elbows and body punches but Jones stays in the fight. Jones shoots for a takedown with seconds remaining and gets it to end the round on top and get into the second round. 10-9 Valiev.
With the encouragement of that takedown at the end of the first round, Jones comes out a bit looser and looks for another right off the bat but Valiev does well to stuff it against the cage. More kicks and feints from Valievas he lands three nasty leg kicks in a row. Valiev goes for another leg kick but Jones counters with a beautiful right hook that drops him! He jumps on top with the ground and pound and the referee stops the fight! Huge upset, huge win, huge knockout!
Matt Semelsberger def Carl Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
A fun, evenly matched first round in the books of this one as these two UFC debutants look to make a good first impression. Both men staying in boxing range and exchanging punches, with Semelsburger throwing heavier punches but Minus landing a bit more accurately. Minus is on the back foot more but both men are well in the fight and it could have gone either way. 10-9 Semelsberger for me, simply for the extra power in the shots.
A very similar start to the second round with Semelsberger still throwing extra power in the exchanges between the two. A big right hand in counter to a body kick by Semelsberger puts Minus on his ass. He rushes over for some ground and pound but Minus makes him miss before giving up his back. Semelsberger locks in a body triangle and attempts for a rear naked choke but Minus defends very well. He spins out and gets back to the feet as the round ends. 20-18 Semelsberger for me.
A much better third round from Minus as Semelsberger seemed to slow down a little. Minus lacking power but he’s putting some nice combinations together and landing almost at will. Semelsberger, visibly tired, shoots for the takedown and gets it but Minus defends well on the ground and gets back to his feet quickly. Final minute and both guys throw heavy punches in the pocket as the round comes to an end. 29-28 Semelsberger for me.
Jordan Wright def Ike Villaneuva via Knockout (Doctors stoppage), Round 1 (1:31)
Well that didn’t last long! Wright opens the fight with a spinning heel kick to the head of Villaneuva who hits the mat immediately. He jumps up and Wright gets him in a Thai clinch and lands huge knees to the face that busts the eye wide open. The referee stops the fight so the doctor can take a look and he calls the fight off immediately. What a win for the Beverly Hills Ninja.
Amanda Lemos def Mizuki Inoue via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A violent first round from Amanda Lemos showed that she is well within her rights to be in the octagon with Mizuki. Inoue used her usual pressing style to get Lemos against the cage and wear her out but Lemos was physically strong enough to withstand it and then throws huge bombs. After landing a big four-punch combo, she steps back and lands a big one-two down the middle that drops Mizuki but she manages to hold Lemos down while she’s on her back. She threatens with an armbar attempt but Lemos defends it and lets her up as the round ends. 10-9 Lemos.
More pressing from Mizuki at the start of the second as she pins Lemos against the cage in a clinch looking for the takedown. Both ladies throw big elbows before Mizuki eventually tries to drag Lemos down. Lemos too physically strong again though and powers out and eventually ends up on top of Mizuki looking to pass her guard. Lemos is starting to tire now but Mizuki still pouring forward with pressure as the round ends. 20-18 Lemos.
Mizuki pushes Lemos against the cage quickly and early in the final round but the Brazilian still too strong for her and is able to stuff all attempts. Mizuki trying to wear her down and shoots for the legs but Lemos defends well before breaking away from the clinch and landing a big elbow to Mizuki’s eye. Once again Mizuki pushes the clinch against the cage and Lemos is just cruising at this point. She lands a big knee to Mizuki who separates from the clinch and then she lands a big right hook. Mizuki still marching forward but this fight is done. 29-28 Lemos.
Daniel Rodriguez def Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 1 (2:24)
What. A. Fight. Inside the first 30 seconds Rodriguez charges forward and Grant lands a big right hook on the way backwards that drops him! He pounces on the ground and pound and lands lots and lots of punches but Rodriguez is moving and trying to get to his feet while covering his head. As he gets back to the feet and Grant is visibly exhausted from trying to finish the fight, Rodriguez lands a left hand that drops Grant. He charges and walks Grant down landing heavy shots, before he connects with another big left hook that drops Grant again! Some more punches against the cage sees Grant drop a third time and the referee steps in and ends the fight. Crazy!
Shana Dobson def Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 2 (1:38)
Agapova is absolutely mental! She essentially sprints out as the round starts and throws bombs, showing several high kicks and big elbows but Dobson goes for a takedown to slow it down quickly. Agapova though starts throwing heavy elbows from the bottom and explodes back to her feet. She lands some ground and pound but Dobson gets back up and lands another takedown. Agapova is now looking more tired as Dobson takes her back but the Kazakhstani reverses the position and looks to attack with a rear naked choke. Good defence from Dobson though as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Agapova.
Second round and Dobson has come out aggressive and she’s lighting Agapova up on the feet. Agapova looks exhausted and shoots for a takedown early to seemingly get a bit of a rest. She gets into the guard and lands some nice punches but Dobson sweeps her from the bottom and ends up in full mount. She lands some big ground and pound and Agapova is barely responding through sheer exhaustion. More punches land and the referee finally ends it. What an upset!
Joe Solecki def Austin Hubbard via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:51)
What a performance from Joe Solecki! Both fighters exchange some nice boxing in the centre before Solecki gets Hubbard against the cage. He goes for a single leg before transitioning to the back and slowly climbs up the back of Hubbard, locking in a standing body triangle. He starts landing a few punches and keeps the triangle locked in. After a short hand fight, Solecki sinks the arm under the chin and gets the tap without the fight ever hitting the ground. Brilliant from Solecki.
Mike Rodriguez def Marcin Prachnio via Knockout, Round 1 (2:17)
A feeler of a start for both as both fighters throw out some leg kicks and jabs to establish range. Rodriguez using his Muay-Thai background to land some nice knees to the body in the clinch which is causing Prachnio some issues. Another clinch and this time Rodriguez throws a big elbow to the head as Prachnio looks to defend the body and puts his lights out! Two big punches land as an exclamation point but Prachnio is out and the referee calls this one off. Impressive win for Mike Rodriguez.
Frankie Edgar def Pedro Munhoz via Split Decision (48-47 x2, 46-49)
A quick start for both fighters in this bout as Edgar uses his excellent footwork and speed advantage to land combinations and then get out of range. Munhoz throwing bombs and heavy leg kicks to try and prevent Edgar’s movement. Munhoz cutting the angles off for Edgar to move too much and lands a nice three punch combo of hooks to mark up Edgar’s face. Munhoz lands a big left hand as Edgar steps away after a small exchange as the round ends. 10-9 Edgar but could go either way.
Edgar comes out more aggressive in the second round and lands some nice right hands to open up a cut over the eye of Munhoz. Edgar mixing in the threat of the takedown as Munhoz continues to pressure forward and close the angles down. Edgar shoots for a takedown and gets it, but Munhoz uses his scrambling to shoot back up quickly. Edgar is landing a lot more regularly now that Munhoz is worrying about the takedowns, but he continues to pressure forward. Big left hook from Munhoz lands followed by a kick as the round ends. 20-18 Edgar.
Third round a bit tamer from both fighters but with a similar pattern, Munhoz charging forward and Edgar moving around and landing combinations. Munhoz landing lots of leg kicks and they’re starting to have an effect on Edgar who’s moving gingerly on it. More jabs from Munhoz as he uses his range well and prevent Edgar shooting for any takedowns. Fun third round where both were busy, I give it to Munhoz. 29-28 Edgar for me.
Edgar comes out and goes straight for a takedown in round 4 and gets it, but once again he’s unable to hold Munhoz down for any period of time. Munhoz lands more leg kicks and a big body kick as Edgar is moving considerably slower in this round. Edgar lands some nice jabs but both fighters are cancelling each other out at the moment. Edgar moves forward with a three punch combination but Munhoz eats them and then lands a big overhand right. Edgar throwing lots of combinations but not putting anything behind them really, so no chance of him stopping Munhoz in this fashion. Great round for both, but I think Munhoz takes it for landing the bigger shots. 38-38 for me.
Final round and Munhoz comes out with two body kicks and a head kick attempt. Munhoz then throws a leg kick and Edgar looks for the single leg but Munhoz defends brilliantly, then throws another leg kick for good measure. Edgar steps forward into the pocket and throws a big combination that Munhoz matches, and both fighters land big shots to the head. Edgar lands a big right hook and then follows it up with a spinning back fist, but Munhoz not being put off coming forward in the slightest. Both guys exchange a bit left hook each as we enter the final 90 seconds. Edgar lands a great straight right hand to the chin, Munhoz continues to pressure forward. Final 10 seconds and Munhoz throws a big right hook and leg kick as the buzzer goes. 48-47 Munhoz for me.
The UFC returns to it’s Fight Night schedule this weekend following UFC 252 last week at the APEX Centre in Las Vegas.
11 fights await us on this card, as Frankie Edgar drops down to Bantamweight finally to take on Pedro Munhoz in the main event. Ovince Saint-Preux returns to light heavyweight in the co-main event for a clash with Contender Series contestant Alonzo Meinfield who steps in on short-notice.
Last week at UFC 242: Miocic vs Cormier, I correctly predicted 7/11 on the night with four of the seven completely perfect picks (winner, method, round). I’ll break down this card and try to do better on this occasion than the last. You can see my picks for the prelims here.
Mariya Agapova (9-1) vs Shana Dobson (3-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
This is a fight that I’m not entirely sure on the reason that it’s happening. Agapova is coming off a three-fight win streak, including a first-round submission win over Hannah Cifers back in June, while Dobson has lost three in a row including being knocked out in just 40 seconds back in February. Agapova is a lethal striker with a good ground game to back her up and while she has inexperience and is still green at just 23 years old, Dobson doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get her down where she’s uncomfortable. Agapova has the pick of how she wants to win this fight and I think she ends it violently with a first-round knockout. PICK – Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 1
Takashi Sato (16-3) vs Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A bout between two powerhouse knockout artists which could end up being the fight of the night, Sato looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC while D-Rod looks to extend his win streak to nine in a row. Both fighters carry crazy power in their hands but Rodriguez tends to be a bit more of a counter-puncher than Sato. Sato has good boxing but his KO wins have come against two fighters he was clearly better than and Rodriguez and he are on a similar level. It could be a case of whoever lands the first clean punch wins and with Rodriguez often countering, he’s likely to catch Sato unaware before he gets caught himself. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2
Marcin Prachnio (13-4) vs Mike Rodriguez (10-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Both these big hitters come in on the back of defeats, with Rodriguez losing to Da Un Jung back in December last year while Prachnio lost to Magomed Ankalaev and Sam Alvey back to back in 2018 and hasn’t fought since. In reality this fight has no business being on the main card here, but it is. Overall its a real pick-em fight, it could go either way and it won’t be of the highest quality at all. Despite having the slightly more impressive CV, two years without competing is a long time and I think that may be the difference here. PICK – Mike Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision
Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs Alonzo Meinfeld (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A short notice fight for Meinfeld after stepping in on one week’s notice for Shamil Gamzatov, he is looking to bounce back from his first professional defeat against Devin Clark back at UFC 250. Ovince Saint Preux was once an opponent for Jon Jones in a title eliminator, but he has now lost four of his last six bouts. Meinfeld’s last appearance saw him get completely outclassed and when he couldn’t land that big punch, he was beaten. OSP will have a four inch reach advantage, a wrestling advantage and is experienced enough to avoid that big punch. If he can get the fight to the ground, it’s impossible to rule out OSP landing ground and pound before ending the fight with his signature Von-Preux choke. PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Submission, Round 2
Pedro Munhoz (18-4-0 1NC) vs Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A super main event in store as the legendary Frankie Edgar moves down to his natural weight class of 135lbs for the first time, to take on UFC veteran Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz most recently got himself into the contender conversation with a sensational knockout win over Cody Garbrandt, but was then beaten dominantly by Aljamain Sterling in his last outing. Edgar has lost three of his last four including being knocked out decisively by both Brian Ortega and Korean Zombie, while he took a beating in his 145lbs title fight against Max Holloway too. Both fighters have a great wrestling background and are therefore not afraid to let their hands go, knowing that they’re more than comfortable on the ground too. The problem for Edgar here, is that while both men have been around for a long time it’s he who has been in there with far bigger men for most of his career. Having previously stood up with his chin in fights, his last three defeats have been humbling and at 38 years of ageit’s unlikely it’s going to get any better now. Munhoz has power in his hands, as he showed against Garbrandt, and is an excellent wrestler capable of securing takedowns against anyone. Overall, I think the miles on the clock will harm Frankie Edgar more than they’ll help him in this fight. PICK – Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision
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