Tag Archives: Rafael Alves

UFC 277: Pena vs Nunes 2 – Prelims predictions

The most anticipated women’s MMA rematch of all time as Julianna Pena defends her bantamweight title for the first time against Amanda Nunes at UFC 277 in the main event.

Pena completed one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport last time out, and now she looks to prove it wasn’t a fluke by beating her again.

In the co-main event we also have an interim flyweight title fight as former champion Brandon Moreno takes on Kai Kara-France in a rematch of their own, with the winner setting themselves up to take on injured champion Deiveson Figueiredo once he’s healthy.

Last time out at UFC London we had great fun live at the event, and we had a decent night with our picks too. We went 9/14 with five perfect picks to move to 673/1046 (64.34%) with 289 perfect picks (42.94%). You can check out our full picks history here.

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


Drakkar Klose (12-2) vs Rafa Garcia (14-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

One of the best fights on the card is buried in the prelims here with this one. Klose finally returned after a two-year absence to defeat Brandon Jenkins in his last bout, while Garcia comes into this on a two-fight win streak beating Natan Levy and Jesse Ronson in his last two.

Klose is a solid striker with great power and good wrestling skills, but defensively he is known to be caused trouble by active grapplers. Garcia is exactly that, with good takedowns and jiu-jitsu but he’s also talented on the feet too and can hold his own in that field. Klose was supposed to be fighting Diego Ferreira in this one, and that probably bodes well for him.

Garcia is an excellent fighter with legit skills, but Ferreira does everything he does better. Klose will know that and will have been preparing for that type of fight, so he will find confidence in that. He’s got the power to earn a KO, but more likely is that he defends the takedowns and just picks Garcia off on the feet from range to earn a win on the scorecards.
PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision

Don’Tale Mayes (9-4) vs Hamdy Abdelwahab (5-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big boys take the stage next in this short-notice heavyweight scrap. Mayes has won his last two earning a decision over Roque Martinez before KO’ing Josh Parisian last time out. Abdelwahab makes his UFC debut as an unbeaten prospect, with all four of his knockout wins coming in 33 seconds or less.

Mayes stands at 6ft 6 and has got solid striking power in his hands, with good leg kicks and decent wrestling. Abdelwahab is a super powerful puncher, but his background comes in wrestling where he competed in the Olympics for Egypt back in 2016. Despite that though, his top game is relatively weak in comparison and his striking is super limited outside of power. Mayes has plenty of experience and should look to use that.

He must avoid the early power strikes, before Abdelwahab looks to start wrestling. If he does get taken down, he needs to find a way to be able to get back up quickly because once we get into the latter rounds he’ll start fading. Mayes should be able to use his more varied game and experience to claim a late win, but his reaction to being taken down is entirely important. Ultimately though, experience gets him the win.
PICK – Don’Tale Mayes via Decision



Drew Dober (24-11) vs Rafael Alves (20-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another super fun lightweight scrap up next between two guys sitting outside of the rankings. Dober bounced back from two straight losses with a big KO win over Terrence McKinney last time out, while Alves has won six of his last seven including a first-round submission win over Mark Diakiese at UFC Vegas 42 last time out.

Dober is a brilliantly technical striker with good wrestling skills and superman-like durability. Alves meanwhile is a wild man, with great striking power and unbelievable submission skills but the inbetweens are few and far between. His striking techniques aren’t great despite the power, and his wrestling game is severely lacking to bring his submissions into play. With that said though, he only needs one error to be able to capitalise and end the fight in an instant.

Unfortunately for him though, Dober is good enough to be able to not make those errors. On the feet he is far more technical and he also has decent power himself, while his wrestling is more than good enough to keep the fight standing. Alves must hope for an error to jump on, but I don’t think it comes and Dober could land enough strikes in those exchanges to earn a finish somewhere in the middle round.
PICK – Drew Dober via Knockout, Round 2

Alex Morono (21-7) vs Matthew Semelsberger (10-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two powerhouses at 170-pounds get the featured prelim slot for this card. Morono has won three in a row, KO’ing Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 10, before decisions over David Zawada and Mickey Gall most recently. Semelsberger has won his last two, sleeping Martin Sano at UFC 266 in 15 seconds before a decision win over AJ Fletcher most recently.

Morono is an interesting fighter with great power in his hands and excellent jiu-jitsu skills, but it all gets bundled together wildly rather than technically. Semelsberger meanwhile is a terrific boxer with plenty of power, while his defensive wrestling skills have been proven in his recent fights. Both guys love a war and both guys will feel they can put the other out with one punch, so it should be entertaining for as long as it lasts.

But with that said, Semelsberger has a much clearer path to victory. He’s the more powerful of the two and his more technical striking should allow him to come out on top in those exchanges. Add his defensive wrestling meaning Morono will struggle to get his grappling into play, and I expect Semelsberger to be able to counter one of Morono’s wild swings to crack him clean and put this one to an end early.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 42: Holloway vs Rodriguez – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX centre in Las Vegas this week for a banger of a featherweight main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.

Holloway is considered the people’s champion of the division and wants to show the world why he is rightfully considered as the number one contender for the title, while Rodriguez is desperate to finally fulfil his potential after being considered a future champion for years.

It’s a very fun card also including the likes of Ben Rothwell, Cynthia Calvillo, Marc Diakiese, Thiago Moises and Khaos Williams.

Last week at UFC 268 we had a brilliant night, securing 13/14 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 471/730 (64.52%) with 197 perfect picks (41.83%).

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


Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) vs Da-Un Jung (14-2-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Very fun light heavyweight fight to open the card here. Nzechukwu is on a three-fight win streak, with a TKO win over Danilo Marques most recently at UFC Vegas 30 while Jung is undefeated since 2015 with a draw against Sam Alvey the only thing preventing a 14-fight win streak. He picked up a dominant win over William Knight last time out at UFC Vegas 23.

Nzechukwu is a powerful pressure fighter, with a formidable gas tank that has got him through a lot of tough situations so far in his career. Jung on the other hand is an awkward striker, who uses his physicality well and has good takedown skills. That could be a problem for Nzechukwu, who has struggled with takedowns in the past.

These two fighters are highly unlikely to rip up any trees in the division but this should be a fun fire-fight. Nzechukwu will walk forward and while he may get taken down, I think he will get back up and really wear on Jung to land heavy late on and take a decision win.
PICK – Kennedy Nzechukwu via Decision

Marc Diakiese (14-4) vs Rafael Alves (19-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another fun fight next up on the early prelims in the lightweight division. Diakiese suffered defeat last time out to Rafael Fiziev at UFC Fight Island 2 over a year ago, while Alves was beaten in his UFC debut by Damir Ismagulov at UFC Vegas 27 in May to snap his five-fight win streak.

The Briton is a well-rounded fighter who’s four defeats in the UFC have come against the upper echelon of fighter in Dan Hooker, Nasrat Haqparast and Drakkar Klose. He has a solid low kick, good striking skills and can hold his own in the grappling too. Alves on the other hand is an explosive striker with good submission skills too, with his 14 career finishes split evenly between KO’s and tap-outs.

Alves is a dangerous opponent but he lacks an in-between game. He’s either exploding for attacks or getting pieced up, with a real disdain for setting up shots. Diakiese is at his best from range and with an advantage in the volume category, he should be able to stay there and control the fight for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision



Cortney Casey (9-9) vs Liana Jojua (8-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between a veteran and a prospect in this one. Casey has lost six of her last nine bouts, with two-in-a-row to Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 3 and then JJ Aldrich at UFC Vegas 21. Jojua has lost two of her last three, with a win over Diana Belbita at UFC Fight Island 1 sandwiched between defeats to Sarah Moras and Miranda Maverick at UFC 254.

Casey is a good striker on the feet, who uses her range well and likes her kicking game a lot. Jojua on the other hand is a specialist grappler, whose wrestling skills aren’t the best but if the fight hits the ground it’s usually a wrap. With the tape on both of these women, it’s hard to gauge where this fight ends up.

On the feet, Casey should absolutely batter her. Jojua’s striking defence is horrible and she tends to walk through shots to try and get her hands on her opponent. Casey doesn’t have a lot of power though, which means Jojua could potentially drag her down. Unfortunately for her though, Casey’s defence is decent so I think she pieces her up for 15 minutes and claims a win.
PICK – Cortney Casey via Decision

UFC Vegas 27: Font vs Garbrandt – Early prelims predictions

Bantamweights lead the way at UFC Vegas 27 this weekend when Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt go toe to toe in the main event.

The number three and four ranked 135lbers in the world will battle it out to give UFC president Dana White a headache when it comes to the top of the division right now, as ‘No Love’ looks to prove he really is back while Font looks to prove he’s a real contender among the elite.

Elsewhere on the card Yan Xiaonan takes on Carla Esparza in the co-main event to potentially determine the next contender for Rose Namajunas’ strawweight title, while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan meet in their delayed middleweight scrap too.

Last week at UFC 262 we didn’t have the best of nights prediction wise, going 6/12 with two perfect picks to move up to 314/494 (63.56%) with 136 perfect picks (43.31%).

We’ll look to improve that here with this 13-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.


Rafael Alves (19-9) vs Damir Ismagulov (19-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun lightweight bout to open the card up as Alves makes his debut to take on Russian Ismagulov. Alves got the call to come into the UFC after winning on the Contender Series, but then missed weight by a crazy 11.5lbs for his debut a few months ago after he got some tragic personal news. Ismagulov is on a 14-fight win streak, including his three UFC fights – the last one coming in August 2019.

Alves is a very tricky, unorthodox striker with good submission offence too splitting his 14 finishes equally via knockout or tap out. Ismagulov is a very well-rounded fighter, with excellent grappling skills on the mat to go with some steady fundamentals on the feet too. While Alves is explosive and powerful himself, Ismagulov just tends to dominate his opponents and we’ve not seen him have to come out of second gear for the most part.

Overall, this fight is set up for a good welcome back for Ismagulov. He’s better technically across the board and while Alves has the power advantage to potentially land a game changing shot out of nowhere, Ismagulov should be able to out class him for a wide decision.
PICK – Damir Ismagulov via Decision

Yancy Medeiros (15-7) vs Damir Hadzovic (13-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Likely a ‘loser leaves UFC’ bout at 155lbs here as former fan favourite Yancy Medeiros takes on Damir Hadzovic with both men on losing streaks. Medeiros has lost his last three in a row to Donald Cerrone, Gregor Gillespie and Lando Vannata, while Hadzovic has lost two in a row to Christos Giagos and Renato Moicano.

Medeiros’ record recently doesn’t look great, but he’s lost to only very capable fighters. He’s a great, technical striker with power in his hands and feet and has good wrestling to back himself too unless he’s coming up against someone as elite as Gillespie. Hadzovic isn’t elite at anything, and will look to step in and have a straight up fire-fight in the octagon.

If that’s the case, Medeiros should fancy his chances. Hadzovic has been finished twice in his last two and while he has decent power himself, I think Medeiros still has the tools to use his big reach advantage for a decision.
PICK – Yancy Medeiros via Decision

Josh Culibao (8-1-1) vs Sha Yilan (17-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight bout between the hot prospect Culibao against UFC debutant Sha Yilan. Culibao entered the UFC at 8-0, but was beaten by Jalin Turner in his debut before a split draw against Charles Jourdain last time out. Yilan has won seven of his last eight fights with six finishes including his last two in a row.

Culibao has fantastic power in his hands and prefers to stand and strike with his opponents, knocking out five of his opponents. He uses his jab well and has a great uppercut too, which is something the wrestling heavy Yilan must watch out for. Yilan will wrestle the entire fight, looking for takedown after takedown to control position and land some big ground and pound. On the feet though, Yilan is like a fish out of water.

If Culibao is able to prevent the takedown, it’s his fight to lose and I expect he’ll be able to get the finish on the feet too.
PICK – Josh Culibao via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 19: Blaydes vs Lewis – Early prelims predictions

It’s take two in the heavyweight division for this weekend’s main event as Curtis Blaydes takes on Derrick Lewis in their rearranged fight from November 2020.

The two were scheduled to meet at UFC Vegas 15 before a positive COVID-19 test ruled Blaydes out just hours before the weigh-ins. They’ll meet now, knowing that the path to the heavyweight title shot they both feel they deserve is now clearer than it was back then.

Last week at UFC 258 we went 6/10 with our predictions, with three perfect picks to take us up to 230/359 (64.07%) with 104 (45.22%) perfect picks since we started out back in June 2020.

We have a monster 15 fight card this weekend, so the predictions will be split into three parts rather than the usual two, starting with the first five fights of the night here.


EARLY PRELIMS

Serghey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderaa (13-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A fight originally scheduled for UFC 256 back in December, two heavyweights go at it on the prelims. Spivak is 2-2 in the UFC, alternating losses and wins against Walt Harris,Tai Tuivasa, Marcin Tybura and Carlos Felipe most recently. Vanderaa is on a two-fight win streak and makes his UFC debut after a KO win on the Contender Series back in November.

Spivak is a talented kickboxer who has a massive striking advantage on the feet in this fight, but he has won six of his 11 fights by submission. He isn’t afraid to initiate the grappling because of that, which could see him open himself up to the strengths of Vanderaa who has phenomenal ground and pound. Vanderaa will look to get this fight down and as the considerably bigger man, he is likely to only need one takedown and Spivak will struggle to get back up.

The likelihood of a stoppage in this fight is high, with both fighters seeing the judges only once each in their careers so far. Vanderaa’s wrestling chops and size mean he should get the takedown he craves and if he ends up on top he should be able to pound Spivak to a stoppage win.
PICK – Jared Vanderaa via Knockout, Round 2

Aiemann Zahabi (7-2) vs Drako Rodriguez (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight fight that has been rescheduled from the December UFC Vegas 17 card as Zahabi makes his first appearance in nearly two years when he takes on Drako Rodriguez. Zahabi, brother of the legendary coach Firas, is a fantastic striker who lacks the elite ground game to call him a well-rounded fighter. Rodriguez on the other hand is well-rounded, with great grappling to go with his decent level of striking.

Zahabi has lost his last two fights and is potentially fighting for his future on the roster, having been beaten by Ricardo Ramos and Vince Morales. Rodriguez has won his last three and is so, so aggressive when it comes to his style. He will press forward, throw volume with strikes and attack for submissions if the fight goes to the ground.

With Zahabi’s weaknesses on the ground and Rodriguez’s aggressiveness and submission skills make me believe that the debutant gets the win and ends Zahabi’s run in the UFC.
PICK – Drako Rodriguez via Submission, Round 2

Chas Skelly (18-3 1NC) vs Jamall Emmers (18-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A return to the cage for the first time since September 2019 for Chas Skelly as he takes on Jamall Emmers in the featherweight division. Skelly is 1-1 1NC in his last three fights, losing to Jason Knight and beating Jordan Griffin with a no contest against Bobby Moffett sandwiched in the middle. Emmers himself is 1-1 in the UFC after losing his debut to Giga Chikadze in March 2020, before securing a decision win over Vince Cachero in August.

Skelly is an awkward fighter, with odd technique but it clearly seems to work for him considering his impressive record. With that said, he’s been known to burn himself out quickly and struggle in the third rounds. Emmers is a great wrestler who will look to get this fight to the ground and use his physicality to keep him down. Skelly has a decent submission game, but Emmers is solid enough in his own right to avoid those and has the advantage on the feet too with speed.

It’s a closer fight than it looks and I think Emmers’ style and activity in recent years should see him get the nod here.
PICK – Jamal Emmers via Decision

Shana Dobson (4-4) vs Casey O’Neill (5-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

After three defeats in a row, the UFC served up Shana Dobson to Mariya Agapova back in August. She shocked the world after surviving the blitz and then coming back to get a TKO finish in the second round and save her spot on the roster. O’Neill on the other hand is an undefeated fighter who makes her UFC debut after a 5-0 run to begin her career.

Dobson was on her way out of the company because she simply isn’t that good. Her two wins in the UFC have come from her opponents kind of giving in, rather than her stopping them. She doesn’t have a great skillset in reality, while O’Neill’s grappling game is very strong. With that said, her quality of competition hasn’t been that high so it’s hard to compare.

From what has been seen though, O’Neill can manage her gas tank more and should have enough about her to control the fight for the most part and get the win in her debut.
PICK – Casey O’Neill via Decision

Rafael Alves (19-9) vs Patrick Sabatini (13-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun fight in the featherweight division between two prospects making their UFC debut. Alves is a power puncher who presses forward and looks for finishes, with 14 finishes from 19 wins split evenly at seven wins by submission and knockout. Sabatini is also a good striker, who has a bit more technique to his game and throws really nice straight shots down the middle.

Alves has won his last six fights in a row, culminating with a guillotine choke win on Dana White’s Contender Series back in August. Sabatini won his last two under the Cafe Fury banner, with a knockout and submission added to his record. Sabatini has fantastic submission skills and a great ground game, while Alves is also a beast on the ground and a bit like Gilbert Burns isn’t afraid to throw strikes because of how confident he is on the ground.

That means it’s likely to stay on the feet and while Sabatini has a slight power advantage and better technique, he is taking this fight on just eight days notice. It’s a pretty evenly matched bout but that short notice should play into the favour of the Brazilian.
PICK – Rafael Alves via Decision