Tag Archives: Polyana Viana

UFC Vegas 64: Rodriguez vs Lemos – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a big women’s flyweight main event between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos.

The two ranked contenders will be looking to earn victory in the five-round headliner with an eye on a future title shot in 2023.

There are other big names on the card including Neil Magny, Daniel Rodriguez and Miranda Maverick.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 63 it wasn’t the best card, but we went 7/11 with two perfect picks to move to 760/1177 (64.57%) with 319 perfect picks (41.97%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Tamires Vidal (6-1) vs Ramona Pascual (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting women’s bantamweight scrap opens up the card. Vidal is making her UFC debut on a five-fight win streak, with her only defeat coming in her second professional fight against current UFC fighter Karol Rosa. Pascual has lost her two octagon appearances, dropping decisions to Josiane Nunes and most recently Joselyne Edwads at UFC 275.

Vidal is a jiu-jitsu practitioner who has moved across to MMA, and her submission skills are solid. But outside of that, she is very limited and really struggles if she’s not on the mat. Pascual on the other hand is a decent striker with good clinch work, but her defence is non-existent. This is a weird fight, between two very limited fighters.

But Vidal has shown that she knows about two takedowns and has a big overhand right. Outside of that, she’s completely lost on the feet. Considering Pascual has UFC experience and some good boxing combinations plus a strong clinch, she should be able to land flush and keep the fight standing to secure a finish at some point midway through.
PICK – Ramona Pascual via Knockout, Round 2

Carlos Candelario (8-2) vs Jake Hadley (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Fun flyweight bout next up as the men enter the cage for the first time on this card. Candelario lost a split decision on Dana White’s Contender Series but his next bout was still in the UFC, but ended in a defeat to Tatsuro Taira back in May. Hadley on the other hand earned a submission win on the Contender Series, but his UFC debut went the same way when he lost to Allan Nascimento on the same card in May.

Candelario is a technical striker with some okay submission skills, but his issue is a lack of pure dynamism and athleticism. Hadley on the other hand is a physical specimen with a fantastic gas tank and great speed, and his grappling is where he excels. With that said, his technique on the feet isn’t bad either and he can hold his own. This is tough to call, because Candelario has the skillset to nullify Hadley like Nascimento did.

But with a lack of snap on his strikes and Hadley having a big advantage in the grappling too, it allows him to be a bit more free with his own strikes. If Hadley took anything from his first professional loss last time out, he should be able to bounce back now and earn a solid win here.
PICK – Jake Hadley via Decision



Liudvik Sholinian (9-3-1) vs Johnny Munoz (11-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweight scrap up next between two guys with losing records in the UFC. Sholinian came into the UFC on a four-fight win streak, but saw that snapped by Jack Shore in a dominant showing. This is his first fight in over a year. Munoz on the other hand is 1-2 in the UFC, losing to Nate Maness and Tony Graveley most recently with a win over Jamey Simmons sandwiched in between them.

Sholinian is a pressure fighter who likes to walk forward and touch his opponent with combinations, but his speed and power are hardly fearsome. That allows people to survive for the most part. Munoz is an excellent submission artist on the mat with decent striking on the feet, and an ability to grapple for days with his excellent cardio. This seems like one way traffic for the most part in Munoz’s favour.

If he is able to overcome the pretty standard pressure coming his way, he should be able to shoot for takedowns at will and be able to snatch up his neck. Sholinian’s best bet is to stall as much as possible and do some damage while avoiding extended grappling sequences, but that seems highly unlikely so Munoz should claim the win.
PICK – Johnny Munoz via Submission, Round 1

Polyana Viana (12-5) vs Jinh Yu Frey (11-7) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Two UFC veterans go head-to-head in this one. Viana has lost four of her last six fights, but saw her two-fight win streak of first-round armbars over Emily Whitmire and Mallory Martin (UFC 258) come to an end when Tabatha Ricci earned a decision win last time out. Frey on the other hand beat Gloria De Paula (UFC Vegas 21) and Ashley Yoder via decision, before losing to Vanessa Demopolous last time out back in June.

Viana is a grappling specialist, with all eight of her finishes coming via submission and the rest of her game lagging way behind that. Frey alternatively is a pressure fighter who has a well rounded skillset, but she has struggled in the past to really use them to the best of her abilities. Both of these women have good qualities, but they seem to lean on their bad habits when things don’t go their way.

That to me is a worse thing for Viana, who tends to go for hail Mary submissions if that’s happening and often allows her opponent to control how the fight goes while she waits for an opportunity. Waiting here will do her no good, so I expect Frey to be able to do enough damage on the feet and in top control to stay safe and earn the judges’ nod.
PICK – Jinh Yu Frey via Decision

UFC Vegas 55: Holm vs Vieira – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 55, headlined by women’s bantamweight contenders Holly Holm and Ketlen Vieira.

In a rather underwhelming card, there is a banger of a co-main event on display though in the welterweight division when fan favourites Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira clash in a ranked bout.

Last week at UFC Vegas 54 we went 6/11 on the night with three perfect picks, moving our total to 628/976 (64.34%) with 268 perfect picks (42.68%). You can check out our total picks chart in detail here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and finishing our prelims picks here, we move on to main card now.


Eryk Anders (14-6) vs Junyong Park (13-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An interesting middleweight scrap opens up the main card here. Anders picked up a big win over Darren Stewart back at UFC 263, but then had his arm ripped off by Andre Muniz at UFC 269 in no time at all last time out. Park picked up a good win over Tafon Nchukwi at UFC Vegas 10, before getting stopped by Gregory Rodrigues in the second round in his last bout.

Anders is a solid wrestler with some good straight punches, but his durability in the past has been questioned and his cardio has never been the greatest. Park is a super steady fighter with a solid all-round game, although none of his attributes really stand out among others. This is likely to be a pretty steady fight with both guys waiting for the other to move first.

Because of that, I expect Park’s fundamentals to get him the win. He has good variety in his attacks, has good wrestling and his straight cardio usually holds up so expect him to pick up an underwhelming decision victory.
PICK – Junyong Park via Decision

Polyana Viana (12-4) vs Tabatha Ricci (6-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweights go head-to-head in this main card scrap. Viana snapped a three fight losing streak when she submitted Emily Whitmire via first-round armbar at UFC Vegas 8, then did the same to Mallory Martin in her last bout at UFC 258 too. Ricci got stopped in her UFC debut by Manon Fiorot at UFC Vegas 28, but got back in the win column against Maria Oliveira at UFC Vegas 41.

Viana is an excellent grappler with brilliant submissions off her back and on top, while her striking is pretty solid too earning her four knockout wins in the past. Ricci will walk forward to try and blitz strikes before clinching and looking for a takedown herself, so where this bout ends up will be pivotal to the result. Whoever is on top will have the greater success, with both women Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts.

Ricci’s awkward striking makes me lean towards Viana though. Viana has a big size advantage for height and reach, but she does struggle technically with her striking. But the size should be enough to avoid any strikes and clinches with the judoka and lots of scrambles, but I think Viana should be able to get on top and control position enough for a win.
PICK – Polyana Viana via Decision

Chidi Njokuani (21-7) vs Dusko Todorovic (11-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another middleweight scrap here between two guys who know how to bang. Njokuani is on a three-fight win streak including a violent knockout win over Marc-Andre Barriault in just 16 seconds back in February. Todorovic snapped a two-fight losing skid with a first-round knockout win over Maki Pitolo in his last bout back at UFC Vegas 44.

Njokuani is a powerhouse with fantastic hand speed and great striking, while he has got decent wrestling in his back pocket too. Todorovic is a former Serbian grappling world champion, but loves to step forward and use his kickboxing although his defensive striking is pretty poor. Todorovic tends to stand up straight and with Njokuani’s hand speed, that makes the target bigger and easier to hit.

Both of these fighters are strong in the stand up and steady in the grappling, able to mix it up well so where this fight goes will be interesting. But with that said, the lack of head movement from Todorovic and his willingness to move backwards will open up the chance for ‘Bang Bang’ to land a nasty combination that turns the lights out.
PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Knockout, Round 2



Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-5) vs Michel Pereira (27-11) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Fight of the night, bar none, without question. Ponzinibbio once upon a time was a serious contender at welterweight, but a long injury layoff saw him miss several years and he’s returned to mixed fortunes. He was flatlined by Li Jingliang at UFC Fight Island 7, before earning a brilliant win over Miguel Baeza at UFC Vegas 28. Last time out though, he was beaten by Geoff Neal at UFC 269. Pereira on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, with impressive decision wins against Niko Price (UFC 264) and Andre Fialho (UFC 270) most recently.

Ponzinibbio is a stud striker with great boxing and superb power in his hands, while his kicks are among the best in the division even today. Pereira is one of the wildest fighters in UFC history, pulling off capoeira techniques including back flips and spinning attacks to go with his incredible dynamic power and excellent grappling. This fight has got fireworks written all over it.

Pereira will likely lean on his grappling in this fight quite heavily, because a firefight with Ponzinibbio is a huge risk he just doesn’t have to take. After a few initial blitzes and exchanges, expect Pereira to change levels and get a takedown to control him on the ground in order to save his energy for any blitzes that he needs in the latter rounds.
PICK – Michel Pereira via Submission, Round 3

Holly Holm (14-5) vs Ketlen Vieira (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Main event time as the former champion returns to the cage. Holm has won her last two, defeating Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana via decision but hasn’t fought since October 2020. Vieira on the other hand picked up a huge win over Miesha Tate back in Novemeber to put her name firmly on the map, claiming a unanimous decision win.

Holm is one of the best pure strikers in women’s MMA history, using a karate style and kickboxing skills that secured her several world championships outside of the UFC. Her kicks are remarkable and her footwork excellent, but her volume is sometimes lacking and her power isn’t what it once was. Vieira on the other hand has shown great improvement in her striking recently, but it’s the grappling where her bread gets buttered and she will be looking to get this fight to the ground ASAP.

Vieira absolutely needs this fight on the mat to win. Holm is so good with her striking and movement that she can piece her up on the feet, and her defensive grappling has been solid in the past. But Vieira is the best grappler she’s faced probably and it’ll be tough, especially now that she’s 40. With that said, her style suits this match up favourably and she should claim a decision win quite comfortably.
PICK – Holly Holm via Decision

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Results (Highlights)

**Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick was cancelled hours before the event after Robertson withdrew due to a non-covid related illness.**

**Jim Miller vs Bobby Greene was cancelled the day before the event due to Greene collapsing following his weight cut.**


EARLY PRELIMS

Gabe Green def Phil Rowe via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Interesting start to the fight as Rowe opens with a leg kick and flicks out some long punches to use his range. Both men exchange leg kicks but Rowe lands a couple of nice right hands. Green looking to go first with his strikes but Rowe using his footwork well to step away. The two clinch up and Green gets a takedown, but Rowe quickly reverses the position and ends up in mount. Rowe looks for a few submissions but Green defends well and eventually gets back up to his feet and goes for a submission of his own. Rowe defends it well and eventually gets back up, with the two clinching against the cage to end the round. 10-9 Rowe.

Fast start to the round for Green as he comes out with a heavy low kick that drops Rowe! He gets on with some ground and pound but Rowe gets up quickly and the two start exchanging heavy strikes. Green throws a body kick but it hits Rowe in the cup and there is a short pause in the fight. The two come back and Green lands a huge right hook that wobbles Rowe! He looks for the kill with big shots against the cage but then accidentally lands another low blow that allows a pause for Rowe to recover. They come out swinging again and Green lands some nice shots before Rowe lands a flying knee and clinches up quickly. They break and meet in the middle and Rowe lands a huge right hand but Green eats it and keeps coming forward. Green throws another heavy leg kick and Rowe drops again, so Green throws some ground and pound until the end of the round. 19-19.

Green lands a big leg kick early in the round and immediately Rowe starts hobbling and limping. Green tries to throw a head kick but Rowe catches it and shoots for the takedown and gets it. Green tries to get up and transitions into a leg lock but doesn’t really know what he’s doing there and as they try to get up again, Rowe trips him and gets another takedown. Green fighting off his back and not really trying to get back to his feet weirdly, so Rowe continues riding him from mount until Green finally gets up with 90 seconds to go. Green throws a big leg kick again that drops Rowe but then he steps in for ground and pound and Rowe is able to clinch up and battle until the end of the round. I think the top control has won this for Rowe, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)

A tactical start to this one with both men flowing between stances, with Gutierrez feinting a lot while Ewell is flicking out right hands. Ewell lands a flush left hand but Gutierrez eats it and the tactical battle continues, with some leg kicks beginning to be thrown. Not much action as we enter the final minute, with Ewell on his bike and circling. Gutierrez rushes in to close the distance and they clinch against the cage, which allows Gutierrez to land a nice knee to the body and he’s opened a cut above Ewell’s eye. We enter the final 10 seconds and Ewell dips for hook and Gutierrez counters with a big head kick that drops him! He charges for the finish but the buzzer may well have saved him. 10-9 Gutierrez.

Ewell still looks a little wobbly as they come out for the second round and Gutierrez is landing some nice leg kicks again that are taking their toll on Ewell’s movement. Ewell is trying to counter Gutierrez’s striking with his range but he’s not landing anything of note. Gutierrez’s lack of volume costing him again at the moment as Ewell continues to move and uses his left jab well to land more frequently. Ewell pushes forward and forces an exchange, catches a kick and gets a takedown with 40 seconds to go in the round. He looks for a heel hook and has it in deep but Gutierrez is able to escape as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and Gutierrez comes out strong and is throwing heavy leg kicks again and even gets Ewell to acknowledge the pain. Gutierrez starting to up the pace a little and pushes forward and lands a huge spin kick that Ewell eats. More leg kicks and Ewell is struggling to stand now, so he starts landing some big punches that have Ewell wobbling. More leg kicks from Gutierrez and Ewell is really struggling to move around, but he doesn’t have the power to put Gutierrez away. Ewell looks for a takedown late on but Gutierrez stuffs it and ends the round looking for a submission. Great round for him and that should be a win for Gutierrez.

Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:18)

Quick start to the round from both women as they stand and exchange before Martin grabs for a clinch and Viana pulls guard immediately. Viana starts throwing lots of elbows on the ground and is moving constantly to prevent Martin from holding her down. She throws up a triangle and it’s in tightttt! Martin tries to escape but Viana grabs and arm and starts throwing elbows to the head with the triangle still synched in. Martin is still fighting it and stands up and tries to slam Viana, which just makes the triangle tighter. She refuses to tap and Viana starts attacking the arm, first going for an Americana and then she transitions to a full armbar before she gets the tap. What a performance from the Brazilian!

Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Immediate pressure from Muhammad who walks straight over to Lima and starts pressuring him. He shoots for a takedown against the cage but Lima defends it will and they separate. Nice leg kicks in response from Lima land well, but Muhammad continues to come forward with big, looping hooks and some body work. Straight left hand lands from Muhammad as he fakes the level change and he’s controlling the pace of this fight. Takedown attempt from Muhammad again and he gets it in deep but Lima is able to defend it once more. Lima throws a big right hand that snaps the head back of Muhammad and gets his attention. Muhammad responds with a beautiful combination of jabs, hooks and body shots to take back control and see the round out. 10-9.

Muhammad comes out and once again looks to control the range by backing Lima up against the cage and throwing nice combinations. Lima throwing out some jabs of his own but Muhammad really dominating the striking exchanges early on. Another takedown attempt from Muhammad but easily defended by Lima to keep the fight on the feet. Big overhand right from Muhammad lands but Lima responds with a calf kick that wobbles him! Lima throws two more in the exchanges that follow but Muhammad is trying to grit his teeth and keep going, pushing the pace still. Muhammad’s pace starting to take it’s toll on Lima, who’s breathing heavy, and he shoots in for a takedown which Lima defends again. Round ends with the two clinching against the cage, in what should go Muhammad’s way. 20-18.

Lima opens the round with a leg kick and then a head kick, but Muhammad comes back with some big shots of his own. Muhammad shoots in for a takedown again and manages to take the back while standing, but Lima defends really well against the cage. Muhammad pouring on the pressure now and landing some solid strikes against the cage before shooting for another takedown that gets stuffed. Lima breathing really heavy now and eats a huge right hand but Muhammad just keeps coming forward, landing jabs and one-twos to the face. Lima goes for a single leg takedown but he’s exhausted and Muhammad easily stuffs it and starts pouring on more shots. Muhammad shoots for a takedown again and finally gets it with a minute to go in the fight. Muhammad takes the back but Lima stands with him on top of him still as Muhammad reigns down punches until the end of the round. 30-27, great performance.

Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:53)

An immediate takedown shot from Vieira allows him in deep and he picks Hernandez up and slams him down immediately. He ends up on top and starts pressuring for an arm triangle immediately, then switches to take the back. He looks to crank the neck, but Hernandez turns and allows him into mount before defending an armbar attempt and getting back to the feet. Hernandez pours the pressure on and starts landing bombs and Vieira is hurt! Hernandez is landing huge strikes and now he’s going for a choke but the buzzer goes and saves him! What a round! 10-9 Hernandez.

Second round starts and Hernandez knows that Vieira is out on his feet already. He’s completely exhausted and Vieira is throwing kicks, elbows and hooks looking to take his head off. A huge elbow lands from Hernandez and opens up a massive cut on his face! Vieira is out on his feet and shoots for a takedown but it’s easily defended by Hernandez, who syncs in a guillotine choke and forces Vieira to tap out! Unbelievable!

MAIN CARD

Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 3 (4:17)

No feeling out process in this one as Pitolo comes out and immediately throws a calf kick, a head kick and then a combination of strikes that ends with an uppercut. They clinch up against the cage and Pitolo seems like the stronger man off the bat and eventually gets a takedown. Pitolo completely dominating on the ground and landing some heavy ground and pound as Marquez works his way back up to his knees, before Pitolo looks to drag him back down again. He gets up again and Pitolo just starts grinding him against the cage but Marquez throws him off and then sinks in a guillotine! Pitolo stays standing and is able to fight the hands to break the grip before Marquez lands a heavy right hand to end the round. 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round starts out on the feet and Marquez looking to take the centre and establish a striking battle. He gets the better of the first couple of exchanges and then a kick from Marquez grazes the cup and the fight is paused for a short while. Fight resumes and Marquez comes marching forward again and slips, which allows Pitolo to grab onto his body and start wrestling again. He rag dolls Marquez for a few seconds before a striking exchange and change of levels allows Marquez to go for that guillotine again! It looks like it’s in really tight but Pitolo rolls through and escapes. Some good ground and pound from Marquez but Pitolo explodes up and is able to get on top himself once again. The rest of the round has Pitolo landing solid ground and pound and searching for submissions, 20-18 Pitolo.

Marquez comes out hard in the final round knowing he needs the finish. Lots of heavy strikes from Marquez land hard and Pitolo is looking tired. Body kick lands and Marquez lands big against the cage with a spinning elbow! Pitolo moves away but he’s rocked and shoots for a takedown, which Marquez defends with a guillotine again. Pitolo eventually gets the takedown and moves for a submission but Marquez escapes and starts landing huge strikes again. Big three punch combo rocks Pitolo and then he lands a big knee to the head. Pitolo shoots again but Marquez stuffs it and sinks in a d’arce choke for the win! What a round! Unbelievable!

Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this fight as both fighters meet in the middle of the octagon and exchange before Simon shoots and scores a takedown. He immediately starts throwing big ground and pound strikes and as Kelleher looks to escape he jumps back on him and takes the back. Kelleher has a big cut above his eye as Simon squeezes him and looks to grind him. More ground and pound before Kelleher eventually gets to his feet, with the cut really bothering him. More pressure from Simon, who gets another takedown before Kelleher fights his way back up before the end of the round. 10-9 Simon.

Another fast start for Simon as he comes in quickly with some jabs and lovely uppercut to the body. Kelleher responds with a front kick to the face that snaps Simon’s head back, but he continues to come forward and lands another body shot. Another big front kick to the face lands from Kelleher but Simon eats it and walks forward for a takedown, but Keller is able to get back to his feet quickly. Both fighters exchange leg kicks and check them well, before Simon shoots in for a takedown and gets it – avoiding the guillotine attempt from Kelleher. They clinch against the cage and Simon throws a big spinning elbow on the break that just misses. Fun round, 20-18 Simon.

Bit of a slower start to this one, with Simon happy to circle on the outside as Kelleher comes forward. Some nice upwards elbows from Simon look good before he ducks under an attempted elbow from Kelleher and clinches up. Simon changes levels against the cage and takes him down, with Kelleher looking for a guillotine but Simon gets out easily and starts landing nice ground and pound to the face. Kelleher goes for a kimura from the bottom but Simon defends it by reversing the position and going for his own kimura, which allows Kelleher to scramble back to his feet. Simon keeps him against the cage and takes the back, landing big knees and just dominating the position and then holding his own in the striking for what should be a comfortable win. 30-27 Simon.

Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Heinisch comes out early and quickly and lands a leg kick followed by shooting for a takedown, which he gets. Gastelum quickly gets to his feet and rolls through to end up on top, so Heinisch attacks a kimura. He’s got the arm extended but Gastelum stays calm and is able to escape it. He takes Heinisch down again and ends up in mount, but another kimura attempt allows him to get towards the cage and kick off it to escape. Clinch against the cage and Gastelum changes levels to score takedowns, although he is unable to keep Heinisch down. Both men miss a head kick as the round ends. 10-9 Gastelum.

Heinisch looking to land heavy shots early in this second round with wild hooks and cracks Gastelum twice, but he just eats it and walks forward. Flying knee lands clean from Heinisch, but Gastelum catches the leg too and ends up with a takedown. Heinisch gets back to his feet and Gastelum lands a leg kick, then clinches against the cage again. Another shot from Gastelum as he gets a body lock and pushes Heinisch all the way back to the cage. Nice one-two lands from Gastelum, but Heinisch trying to make it a dirty fight with more wild exchanges. Wild hook misses and Gastelum shoots and drives to the cage again to end the round, 20-18 Kelvin.

Gastelum starts the round with a lazy shot that is easily defended by Heinisch, who then shoots for his own takedown and gets it before Gastelum scrambles back to his feet quickly. Gastelum using his jab and straight left hand more in this round, as Heinisch goes for a flying knee that gets caught once again and ends up with Gastelum on top of him. Beautiful roll through from Heinisch sees him reverse the position and take Gastelum’s back. He lands some nice ground and pound as he searches for a submission but Gastelum is able to reverse and ends up on top before they get back to the feet and clinch. Looping left hook by Gastelum misses and and Heinisch shoots and gets one last takedown, although Gastelum reverses the position and gets a takedown of his own to end on top. 30-27, he’s back in the win column.

Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight from Grasso as both women throw out a few feeler strikes before clinching up against the cage and coming to a stalemate before separating. Sharp one-two from Grasso lands flush on the chin of Barber and forces her to move in for another clinch position. Nice elbow lands in the clinch from Grasso before Barber throws some nice knees in the clinch. Big elbow and left hand on the break from Barber lands clean but Grasso eats it. Both girls lands huge shots that land clean on each other before they clinch up and see the round out. 10-9 Grasso, but it’s close.

Barber throwing a lot of feints from way out of range that are serving little to no purpose other than wasting energy right now. Short exchange leads to a clinch before a quick separation before both women lands huge right hands at the same time. Barber seems to be rocked a little more than Grasso from it and they clinch up again. Barber lands an elbow on the break before they clinch up once again. Barber separates and throws a straight left hand that lands clean before a right hook follows it up. Grasso ends up on her back and Barber goes hunting for ground and pound, but Grasso transitions with an armbar attempt then switches to a head-and-arm choke before taking the back and ending the round in dominant fashion. 20-18 Grasso.

Barber comes out in the third throwing wild strikes with no real end goal to them as Grasso keeps out of range and looks calm. Grasso eats a right hand and then they clinch against the cage, with Grasso landing big knees to the body. Nice trip by Barber gets her into top position and she lands a huge elbow on the ground. A few more shots and Grasso gets back to her feet. Barber lands a knee in the clinch and keeps throwing big hooks and power punches that have got Grasso wobbling. Another clinch as Barber fails with a takedown attempt, with Barber throwing big elbows from the clinch too. Final 30 seconds and Barber going hell for leather but I don’t think it’ll be enough for the win. 29-28 Grasso.

Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns via Knockout, Round 3 (0:34)

Crazy start to the fight as Burns comes out early and lands a huge right hand that rocks Usman! Burns pours on the pressure early but Usman defends himself with a jab and some composure. Burns goes for a head kick but Usman catches it and sends him to the mat, but then doesn’t follow him down. The next two minutes are spent with Burns on his back tempting Usman to come to the ground, but instead he just kicks the legs and throws body shots. They get back to the feet and Usman lands a stiff jab several times and stuffs a Burns takedown attempt to end the round. Fun stuff! 10-9 either way, but to Usman for me. Just.

Slower start to this round from both fighters, as Burns takes the centre of the octagon again. Usman’s jab still landing nicely, but Burns coming forward with an overhand right that seems to stun Usman whenever it lands. The jab is having a big effect, and Usman throws a big overhand right that lands flush and hurts Burns! He follows up with more hooks and jabs and Burns is wobbling bad. Burns shoots for the takedown but Usman stuffs it and lads another jab that drops Burns. Burns tries to tempt Usman down to the floor again but Usman makes him stand again and sees the round out with his jab. Huge round for Usman! 20-18 Usman.

Third round starts and Usman comes to take the centre early. Big left jab lands clean and drops Burns once again! He lands a huge overhand right that puts Burns’ lights out on the ground and keeps punching as Burns tries to stand up. A few more shots and Herb Dean waves the fight off! Huge knockout win for the Nigerian Nightmare! Wow!

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Prelims Predictions

The first of six UFC title fights in the next six events takes place this weekend as Kamaru Usman finally defends his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.

The two have seen the fight collapse twice before, having originally been scheduled to meet at UFC 251 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Burns out, before injuries to Usman meant their December date didn’t come to fruition either.

In the co-main event, Maycee Barber makes a return to the flyweight division after a serious knee injury saw her miss over a year of action. She will take on Alexa Grasso with the two strikers looking to make a name for themselves inside the top ten.

Last week at UFC Vegas 18 we went 8/12 with our picks, with five perfect selections to go with it. That moves us to 224/349 (64.18%) with 101 (45.09%) perfect picks since beginning our predictions back in June 2020.

We’ll look to improve that with this 12 fight card, starting with the seven prelim fights here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the decision as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior to getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time out against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.

Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision

Gabe Green (9-3) vs Phil Rowe (7-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

There will be fireworks in this one, as Gabriel Green looks to bounce back from his debut defeat in the UFC against ‘The Fresh Prince’ Phil Rowe.

Green was on a six-fight win streak with six finishes before losing to Daniel Rodriuez via decision in May 2020, while Rowe is currently on a seven-fight win streak after beating Leon Shahbazyan on the Contender Series in 2019. He had several fights fall out in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but finally returns here.

Both men are incredibly powerful on the feet and have decent ground games too, although Rowe has the slight edge down there. The likelihood these two will go to war with heavy striking and it is Green who has the power advantage. He will need to get on the inside due to the big reach disadvantage, but don’t be surprised to see it happen.
PICK – Gabriel Green via Knockout, Round 2

PRELIMS

Andre Ewell (17-6) vs Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2) – (Catchweight/140lbs)

A fight that was put together on late notice, Andre Ewell will take on ‘El Guapo’ Chris Gutierrez in a catchweight bout. Ewell won his last fight via split decision against Irwin Rivera back in September, while Gutierrez got a draw against Cody Durden in August.

Ewell was supposed to fight against Cody Stamann last weekend, but a false positive COVID-19 test put an end to that. He was quickly re-booked for this fight with a completely different match up, as Gutierrez is a primary striker. Ewell is also a striker, who stays at range and looks to catch you on the end of his strikes. Gutierrez is a heavy leg kicker and that could have a big say on the outcome of this fight.

With that said, it’s a very even match up but I think Ewell has the striking advantage with the power and speed and he should be able to land more for a close decision win.
PICK – Andre Ewell via Decision

Polyana Viana (11-4) vs Mallory Martin (7-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A very interesting fight down at 115lbs as Viana looks to make it consecutive wins for the first time in the UFC when she takes on Martin, looking for her first win streak in the company.

Viana had lost three in a row before getting matched up with Emily Whitmire in August and winning via submission in the first round. Martin made her debut against Virna Jandiroba who absolutely dominated her, before she got a submission win of her own against Hannah Cifers to bounce back on the same card.

Viana is the more powerful striker and has a great ground game from her back, while Martin is a competent striker with a good wrestling game. The submission game of Viana could put her off shooting for the takedowns but if she’s brave enough she should have the wrestling chops for the win.
PICK – Mallory Martin via Decision

Belal Muhammad (17-3) vs Dhiego Lima (17-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A clash between two fighters currently on three-fight win streaks in the welterweight division should be lots of fun. Belal Muhammad has beaten Curtis Millender, Takashi Sato and then Lyman Good in June while Lima’s last fight came in 2019 with a split decision win.

Muhammad’s style is typically a boxing style that leads to takedowns and a wet blanket approach, with dominant top position and wrestling while Lima is a solid striker who has a decent ground game too. This one though is a bit of mismatch.

Muhammad has incredible wrestling and while Lima has the height and reach advantage, it doesn’t mean much when you can’t stay on the feet and stop the takedowns. Muhammad takes Lima down with ease and cruises to a dominant decision win.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Hot prospect Rodolfo Vieira looks to make it three wins in a row in the UFC and remain unbeaten against ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez.

Vieira is 7-0, with six submission wins including his most recent fight against Saparbek Safarov in March 2020 while Hernandez has lost two of his last three including getting knocked out in 39 seconds back in May against Kevin Holland.

Hernandez got submitted by Markus Perez in his UFC debut back in 2019, and Vieira is clear of Perez when it comes to ground game. He has better takedowns and is much more physical, which begs the question about how Hernandez stops him. The answer is he doesn’t. Hernandez’s striking is better but it means next to nothing considering he’ll probably be on his back rather quickly, and Vieira should be able to dominate to get another submission win in relatively quick fashion.
PICK – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, Round 1