Tag Archives: Robbie Lawler

UFC 276: Adesanya vs Cannonier – Main card predictions

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.

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


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

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UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Main card predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight at the top end of the women’s flyweight division opens up the main card here. Andrade is coming off the back of her nasty defeat against champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, while Calvillo also lost her last fight against Kaitlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 last time out.

Andrade is a powerful wrestler who slams almost all her opponents at some point, and also has good striking to work her way inside too. Calvillo is a good wrestler in her own right, with some decent striking but plenty of control in the top position. Andrade seems to have found her best weight class now as has Calvillo and this is the type of fight that would usually determine a title contender.

Andrade has shown some cardio issues in the past, while Calvillo has gone a full five rounds before and still looked fresh. Her issues against Chookagian were more distance related than anything else and she won’t have those problems against the 5ft 1 Andrade. Andrade however is the more powerful fighter and when it comes to grappling I think she has the advantage too so I expect her to claim the win.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Decision
BETTING TIP – Fight to go the distance @ 5/6 (Bet365)

Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A huge heavyweight contender fight between two guys looking to work their way towards title contention. Blaydes was on a tear until he ran into Derrick Lewis and got flattened at UFC Vegas 19, while Rozenstruik bounced back from a beating by Ciryl Gane to earn a KO win over Augusto Sakai last time out at UFC Vegas 28.

Blaydes’ style is the same in every fight and your chances of winning against him stand on whether or not you can stop his takedowns. He shoots in with power, holds you down in position and rains down huge elbows until you can’t take it anymore. Rozenstruik on the other hand is a kickboxer with legitimate one-punch power, just like Lewis had. Rozenstruik’s wrestling defence isn’t the best, but he can learn a lot from Blaydes’ last fight of how to defend the takedowns with his striking.

It comes down to whether or not Blaydes can land the takedown without having his lights turned out again, and I think he’ll correct his issues and blast double-leg his way to a unanimous decision win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision
BETTING TIP – Blaydes via Decision @ 11/5 (Bet365)

Nick Diaz (26-9) vs Robbie Lawler (28-15) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the most anticipated fight on the card as Diaz makes his return after six years away to take on old rival ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler. These two met all the way back in 2004, with Diaz earning a KO win in the second round. Lawler is on a big decline right now, losing each of his last four fights with the most recent coming against Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 8.

Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with brilliant boxing and one of the deepest gas tanks in MMA, while Lawler is a powerful wrestler with a solid overhand left that can put people to sleep. This is an incredibly tough fight to call because we have no idea what Diaz has been up to in the gym for the last six years. We don’t know how he’ll react in the cage after so long away or how he’ll look in action.

The fans will be behind him, because they always are, and he has a knockout win against Lawler on his CV already. On the ground we know how talented he is, but Lawler has been far more active since and has the wrestling edge. It’s due to be a wild fight and it’s a guess either way, but I have to go with Diaz to make the perfect return.
PICK – Nick Diaz via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs Lauren Murphy (15-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The first title fight of the night sees the ever-dominant Shevchenko take on the veteran Murphy in the co-main event. ‘Bullet’ has won seven in a row, with her only UFC defeats coming in razor close decisions to Amanda Nunes. Her last fight was a violent KO over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. Murphy on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with her most recent win coming against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

Shevchenko is an entirely complete MMA fighter with stunning striking, grappling and submission skills to go with excellent defence and a second-to-none fight IQ. Murphy is a boxer by trade with some good kickboxing skills too and some good clinch work with good grappling skills on the ground where necessary. Unfortunately for her, she’s just not on the same level as Shevchenko.

No matter where this fight goes, Shevchenko wins. It’s that simple. Unless something absolutely crazy happens, Shevchenko can pretty much pick how she wins this fight and I think she’ll use her striking to come out on top this time.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs Brian Ortega (15-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

When the main event has the potential to be the fight of the night, you know it’s a good one. The featherweight title is on the line as Volkanovski looks to make it 20 wins in a row and 10-0 in the UFC, after wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway twice in his most recent bouts. Ortega took two years out after losing to Holloway and returned with a stunning performance against Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn his title shot.

Volkanovski is a brilliant all-rounder, with powerful strikes in his hands and some top-tier wrestling to allow him to decide where the fight goes. Ortega is a submission specialist with other-worldly jiu-jitsu skills but the performance against TKZ showed that he has upped his striking to a whole new level too. His jab is sharp, he has good combinations and mixes in takedowns well too. Volkanovski will have to deal with that striking threat in a different way to how he did with Holloway, because the ground is Ortega’s world.

Overall, this is a super close fight and I won’t be surprised by whoever wins this fight. Ultimately though, I back Volkanovski to retain his title. He is able to mix it up well and his game-planning has been great in the past. He has the more well-rounded skillset for me and I think he’s physically stronger, so he’ll claim the close win.
PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Decision

Nick Diaz’s return could be the start of something special

It will have been 2424 days since we’ve seen Nick Diaz in the octagon, or any type of official mixed martial arts bout for that matter, by the time UFC 266 rolls around.

The former Strikeforce welterweight champion hasn’t fought since UFC 183 in 2015, when he and Anderson Silva battled to a no-contest after both tested positive following the fight. That positive test, for marijuana, saw Diaz initially banned for five years before it was appealed and changed to 18 months.

After back and forth with the Nevada State Athletic Commission meant he couldn’t be in the corner of his brother Nate at UFC 196 and UFC 202, he is back and will fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 266 this weekend.

It’s 209 months since their first fight at UFC 247, 17 years ago. where Diaz shocked many by engaging in a stand-up war with ‘Ruthless’ and coming out victorious in a hugely impressive second-round knockout win.

Since then, their careers went on entirely different paths though. Lawler would go on to become the welterweight champion of the world, defeating Johnny Hendricks before defending the belt twice against Roy MacDonald and Carlos Condit.

Diaz eventually got cut from the UFC, before dominating in Strikeforce and then returning to the octagon, only to have a record of 1-2 1NC in his four fights against BJ Penn, Condit, Georges St-Pierre and Silva.

But in recent times, this rematch makes even more sense than it has at any point in their careers.

Nick Diaz arrives to the UFC 261 Weigh-In at at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 23, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida.

While Diaz has been away from the fight game competitively, Lawler has gone 3-5 including losing each of his last four bouts. His decline is well and truly in full flow and he’s not quite the fighter he once was, but those defeats all came to wrestlers who were able to eventually get him down and dominate him.

Diaz hasn’t been around for years, but it’s hard to imagine he will implement that tactic for the fight. He out-struck him all those years ago when he was deemed just a jiu-jitsu fighter, and his boxing only got better as the years went on.

If Diaz can claim a victory, then not only will it be a brilliant comeback story but it could be the start of something magical.

The chances of a potential title run are slim because Kamaru Usman is just that good and at the age of 38 Diaz is likely past his best, especially after missing so many years of competitive fighting. But there is great potential for some stunning fights that would get fans salivating and earn him a bucket load of cash.

The obvious shout would be against Jorge Masvidal, who beat up his little brother in the main event of UFC 242 to claim the BMF title. There were rumours back then of a potential fight between the two but now it could be a reality, and fans would absolutely eat it up.

Considering this fight will now be taking place at middleweight, there are options there too. Darren Till needs a fight after a second straight defeat and the trash talk that would take place beforehand would no doubt be legendary.

Diaz is a superstar, and he was one way before the sport of MMA took off the way it did in the last decade. He’s one of the most popular fighters of all time and his return is making waves as expected. A win only opens up more possibilities for him and the UFC to make waves across the world.

UFC 266: Two title fights and major return announced for September

The UFC have announced three huge fights for UFC 266 in September, including two huge title fights and the return of Nick Diaz.

Diaz, the older brother of fan favourite Nate, hasn’t fought since January 2015 when he took on the legendary Anderson Silva in the main event at UFC 183 in the Brazilian’s first fight back after breaking his leg against Chris Weidman.

We will also see Alexander Volkanovski finally defend his UFC featherweight title against Brian Ortega after their initial bout was cancelled in March when the champion tested positive for COVID-19 the week before the fight. Valentina Shevchenko will also defend her flyweight title, taking on Lauren Murphy in the co-main event.

Diaz’s fight against Silva initially ended with the former middleweight champion earning a decision win, but both men tested positive after the fight and were hit with USADA bans with the result overturned to a no contest.

Diaz was initially banned for five years for marijuana use, but upon appeal saw that reduce to 18 months. He has also served suspensions in that time for unpaid fines to the Nevada State Athletic Commission as well as for failure to report his whereabouts.

He and Lawler fought back at UFC 47 back in 2004, with Diaz winning via second round knockout. Lawler went on to become the reigning welterweight champion during his UFC career but is currently on a four-fight losing streak after defeats to Rafael Dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and most recently Neil Magny.

The fight will not be a main event but will be five rounds, just like his brother Nate’s bout against Leon Edwards at UFC 263 last month.

In the main event, Volkanovski looks to continue his unbeaten run in the UFC when he takes on ‘T-City’ Ortega in a featherweight title fight.

Once their March bout collapsed, both fighters agreed to take part in the new season of The Ultimate Fighter as coaches. The series finale is currently set for some time in August.

Volkanovski is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Max Holloway where he won the belt then defended it for the first time at UFC 251, while Ortega dismantled The Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn himself a title shot.

As for Shevchenko, she has cemented herself as the most dominant women’s flyweight of all time and has defended her title five times including most recently against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 and then Jessica Andrade at UFC 261.

She will take on Lauren Murphy, who has worked her way up the rankings and put together a five-fight win streak with victories over Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferri at UFC Vegas 3, Liliya Shakirova at UFC 254 and Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

The card will take place on September 25th from Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena.

Nick Diaz ‘wants a fight’ – who should he face?

Who would have thought that after that exciting five round fight with Anderson Silva way back in 2015, we’d never see Nick Diaz in the octagon ever again?

After back-to-back title fight defeats against Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre, Diaz moved up to 185lbs to take on the greatest of all-time and despite his trademark wind up tactics and excellent striking he was well beaten in the end.

Following the bout both fighters tested positive for banned substances and the fight was overturned to a no contest, but the result of a positive marijuana test for Diaz meant USADA banned him for life.

After an appeals process the ban was eventually cut to 18 months, before another 12 month suspension for failing to report his whereabouts to USADA meant that he was finally free to fight again in April 2018.

He announced at the end of last year that he was preparing for a comeback in early 2021, although UFC president Dana White was adamant he didn’t want to fight. Diaz completed a test weight-cut for the welterweight division and after UFC 261 White confirmed he was indeed looking to fight and the UFC were going to make it happen.

The press conference announcement led to an immediate question about potential opponents and when Khamzat Chimaev was mentioned, the boss confirmed it was a possibility.

Chimaev made a huge impression after winning three fights in 66 days last summer. He was set for a bout against Leon Edwards that could have potentially set up a title shot, but after dealing with COVID-19 and lingering issues afterwards the bout was cancelled three times and the UFC moved on from it.

A fight between Diaz and Chimaev would be of huge interest to the MMA world but also the status of the welterweight division. Both men have a huge reputation and while they’re at different points of their career a win would just as beneficial for each fighter.

Because of Chimaev’s standing in the company at the moment, Diaz could potentially use a win to leverage himself into the title conversation while Chimaev would have a huge name on his resumรฉ as he looks to run through the division too.

There are other names that are possibilities though, with the biggest arguably being the man who was KO’d in the UFC 261 main event – Jorge Masvidal.

The two had some words back and forth in the build up to Masvidal’s big fight against Nate Diaz, Nick’s brother, when the BMF title was created. Nate forever claimed that the real BMF in the MMA world was his brother Nick, so why not make that fight happen.

Masvidal will look to make big money in his next bout and needs a win after back-to-back losses to Kamaru Usman, while Nick will be keen to avenge his brother’s defeat and make a name for himself once again to prove that he still has it.

Should Masivdal prefer to fight someone nearer the top of the rankings instead, there is always the potential of a rematch against Robbie Lawler for Nick Diaz.

The two fought way back in 2004 at UFC 47 in a memorable fight that ended when Diaz got the knockout in the second round and their careers ran alongside each other. Lawler of course went on to win the welterweight title during his career while Diaz was suspended and now at the end of his career he has lost five of his last six fights.

It would be a way of seeing just where Diaz is at after so long away from the cage, and with two big names it would surely attract attention too.

An outside option could be Vicente Luque, who recently got a big win over former champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 260 with a first round submission. With the rest of the top of the division already booked up, this is arguably the biggest fight that Luque could get right now.

Colby Covington has already been confirmed as the next title challenger for Usman, while Gilbert Burns will fight Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 and Leon Edwards is fighting Nate Diaz at UFC 262.

Luque would provide a fun stylistic match up for the fans and would be a way for him to move into the upper echelons of the division with a big win, while Diaz would get to test himself against one of the top contenders to see where he really stands after so long away from competition.

It seems as though the UFC could look to move in the direction of Chimaev, but Masvidal could be the biggest fight to make. Regardless of what happens, it’s just great to see Nick Diaz back in the octagon.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Mallory Martin def Hannah Cifers via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (1:33)

A slow start to the fight with lots of feints and jabs exploded into life halfway through as Hannah Cifers landed a big one-two down the pipe and knocked Martin down! She rushes in and lands huge ground and pound but Martin refuses to quit. More punches against the cage and the referee is super close to ending it, but Martin shoots for the takedown. Cifers stuffs it and lands more big shots but Martin pulls guard to survive the rest of the round. 10-8 Cifers.

Second round, Martin has recovered and immediately shoots for the takedown and gets it. She lands big ground and pound of her own on Cifers who can’t get out from under her smothering top pressure. She lands big elbows that cut Cifers and force her to turn on to her stomach. Martin immediately sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap. Huge comeback win!

Polyana Viana def Emily Whitmire via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (1:53)

A quick start sees both women land big strikes with the hands, with Whitmire marking Viana’s face up. She goes for a clinch and looks for the takedown and after a scramble ends up on top, but Viana is throwing big elbows from the bottom and moving well to not let Whitmire settle. Viana continues with the elbows and then throws up an armbar out of nowhere, she rolls through and forces Whitmire to verbally tap almost instantly. Beautifully done and another first-round finish for the Brazilian.

Sean Brady def Christian Aguilera via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (1:47)

Good opening round for both fighters here as both Brady and Aguilera choose to stand for the majority of the round and exchange punches. Brady is landing a nice left hook quite often, which opens up a small cut over the eye of Aguilera but he continues to push forward and pressure. Aguilera lands a nice right hand and that’s the cue for Brady to rush in for a power double leg. He lands a bit of ground and pound in the final 60 seconds before the round ends. 10-9 Brady.

Second round starts with Aguilera looking to land a calf kick and punches but Brady is wise to it and lands a big power double leg takedown again. He’s looking to pass the guard and ties up the neck of Aguilera in doing so. He passes the knee over into mount and after a short scramble sinks in the mounted guillotine and puts Aguilera to sleep. Still undefeated, that was an excellent performance.

Alex Caceres def Austin Springer via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:38)

A very strange fight this one. Both men come forward throwing punches and leg kicks but making their opponent miss a fair amount. Springer throws lots of inside leg kicks but Caceres doesn’t mind too much. Caceres moves forward and lands a big body shot, which makes Springer shoot for the takedown. Caceres stuffs the takedown, moves immediately to the back and throws in a rear naked choke with a body lock too that puts him to sleep. 3 in a row for Bruce Leeroy.

Zak Cummings def Alessio Di Chirico via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

A tame first round between these two who are both throwing wild in the pocket exchanges but nothing much either side of that. Di Chirico lands a big left and right hook but Cummings eats it and continues to walk forward. As the round starts to wind down, the Italian lands a few more big shots that may have wobbled Cummings but overall a more strategic round than anything else. 10-9 Di Chirico.

Another very tactical round between the two fighters but Cummings seems to have been able to make the reads he needs. Di Chirico throwing a lot of the same shots as the first round but this time Cummings isn’t there to be hit, while he’s landing his left hand more often although not crazy powerfully. Nice inside leg kick towards the end of the round from Cummings drops Di Chirico but other than that a very close round. 19-19 for me.

Third round and Di Chirico comes out SWINGING. He’s throwing wide, looping hooks and he connects a few times but Cummings is countering with a straight left that lands flush on the nose. Cummings doing well to manage the distance between the two but lots of respect between both fighters with shadow-boxing and feints. A low blow from Cummings causes a short pause in the fight but as soon as they get back in there Cummings ducks a hook then lands a big left hook of his own. As the buzzer goes Cummings lands a huge head kick to Di Chirico and stumbles back to his corner, just about under his own power. That head kick wins him the fight for me on the scorecards. 29-28 Cummings.

Impa Kasanganay def Maki Pitolo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Really fun first round between these two Contender Series fighters. Pitolo landing nice combos and snappy hooks while Kasanganay is looking for looping overhands that are connecting and causing damage. Pitolo stuffs a clinch attempt well and throws a head kick on the break but misses, before a huge overhand lands flush for Kasanganayand cuts Pitolo over the eye. A razor close first round, but for sheer volume I’d go 10-9 Pitolo.

Second round is a bit slower this time around but it’s more of the same in terms of action. Pitolo landing jabs well and snapping out counter strikes but Kasanganay’s big overhand is landing regularly again. Kasanganay starts upping the volume as the round begins to come to an end and lands a huge elbow off the clinch before a big one-two straight to the chin. Pitolo looks tired and Kasanganay is fresh. 19-19.

Pitolo’s cardio looks drained in this final round as Kasanganay continues to march forward and throw big hooks. Another big overhand right cracks the chin of Pitolo, but Pitolo is struggling to land anything significant in return in this round. Kasanganay seems stronger, fresher and quicker in this round but Pitolo showing an impressive chin just eating the shots. Round comes to an end with both men at a stalemate as Kasanganay will take the decision.

MAIN CARD

Ricardo Lamas def Bill Algeo via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

A fast paced start to this first round as both guys throw big attacks early. Lamas is throwing a lovely front kick to the body and now mixing in head kicks while Algeo is keeping his hands low but throwing punches in bunches and stepping forward. Lots of wild exchanges but Lamas is now throwing a calf kick that is having great success and affecting the mobility of Algeo. A nice elbow at the end of the round for Algeo hurts Lamas but the experienced fighter clinches and holds out for the end of the round. 10-9 Lamas but a very close round.

Second round starts with a fast pace yet again but Lamas looks to slow it down with a takedown. He takes the back quickly but Algeo breaks the grip and scrambles out back to his feet quickly. More wild exchanges from both as Algeo cuts Lamas open with what could be a broken nose. Lamas now desperate for the takedown but Algeo continues to block them and land big strikes. Lamas goes for another takedown but Algeo throws a huge knee up the middle and rocks Lamas, who moves away and looks to avoid. Algeo goes for the takedown but after a scramble the fight goes back to the feet where Lamas has now recovered. Another fantastic round but that’s Algeo’s for me. 19-19.

Algeo starts on the front foot in this third round but Lamas gets an early takedown to take control in this round. He starts landing big ground and pound in an unorthodox crucifix position which cuts up Algeo and forces him into defence mode. Lamas lands big elbows and continues to hold him down in as many ways as possible, with hooks and taking the back into full mount too. Big elbows and huge punches can’t put Algeo away but they secure a 10-8 round for Lamas which should be a 29-27 win.

Alexa Grasso def Ji Yeon Kim via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A slow start to the round as both women look to feel each other out in the early exchanges. Grasso throws out stiff jabs and one-twos while Kim keeps constantly moving and then countering during any exchanges. Kim lands a huge left hook followed by a right overhand that both land but Grasso eats it well and continues to come forward. Another nice shot from Kim followed by a body kick as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Kim.

A much better round for Grasso in the next two rounds as she uses her heavier hands to inflict more damage and outmuscle her opponent. A dominant, professional win.

Neil Magny def Robbie Lawler via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

An interesting opening round between these two welterweights. Lawler comes forward with a nice body shot and then goes for a takedown but Magny stuffs it and reverses the position really well. A nice grappling exchange between the two ends with Magny on top with a neck crank, but Lawler defends it well. A small amount of ground and pound sees him inflict some damage but overall it’s a wrestling match win for Magny. 10-9.

Second round and Lawler comes out aggressive once again and lands a few strikes before Magny goes back to the wrestling that gave him so much success in the first round. He’s being very heavy on top and causing Lawler lots of problems. During transitions on the ground Magny attempts a Twister submission but can’t quite get the position and Lawler lands nice elbows to get out but Magny too strong and dominant in the wrestling department yet again. 20-18.

Lawler comes out all guns blazing in this final round, knowing he needs the finish for a win. He lands a nice right hand that hurts Magny, but the lanky fighter pulls guard and controls the fight from therein. He is just physically too strong for Lawler and able to dominate everywhere. On the feet again and Magny is landing his jabs and front kick to the body at will. Complete dominance and a masterful performance from the Haitian sensation.

Aleksandar Rakic def Anthony Smith via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

A war between two light heavyweights with title aspirations starts out with big leg kick exchanges between them. Rakic is firing them off and Smith is noticeably in pain, before two quickfire kicks land on Smith and he goes down! Rakic gets on top looking for ground and pound but Smith uses his grappling experience to survive well and take minimal damage while on the bottom. 10-9 Rakic but an odd round compared to what we expected.

Second round and Rakic comes out with an immediate leg kick again but Smith walks through it to close the distance. Smith throws a big right cross that catches Rakic flush and hurts him but then shoots in for a takedown, which Rakic uses his physical strength to deny it and ends up on top himself. Much like the first round now, Smith taking minimal damage but is on the bottom and struggling for anything significant. Rakic staying heavy on top as Smith tries to get back to his feet and ends the round dominant against the cage. 20-18 Rakic.

Rakic opens the final round with yet another leg kick and Smith is in agony. He closes the distance and looks for the back of Rakic, but they’re too sweaty and he slips off, ending up on the bottom once again. Half the round to go and Smith gets to his knees but Rakic so heavy on top and landing big knees to the leg and body. Into the final minute and the fight is the same as it’s been throughout with Rakic dominant on the ground. Hugely impressive performance in a fight that didn’t go anything like what was expected. 30-27 Rakic.

UFC Vegas 8: Smith vs Rakic – Main Card Predictions

A three round main event on top of a decent looking card is what the UFC have put together for the fans this weekend, as they return for yet another Fight Night card at the APEX in Las Vegas.

Anthony โ€˜Lionheartโ€™ Smith takes on prospect Aleksandar Rakic in the light-heavyweight division, with all eyes on the top of the division following Jon Jones vacating the belt for a move up to heavyweight.

With 11 fights on the night including a stacked main card considering itโ€™s a Fight Night event, iโ€™ll break down the card and pick my winners for each fight. Last weekendโ€™s card chopped and changed so much between the predictions being written up and the card happening (Thurs-Sat) that we didnโ€™t keep track of the picks. Hopefully no such thing will happen here.

I picked the prelims already, which you can see here.

Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) vs Ion Cutelaba (15-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The first time these two fought each other was one of the strangest fights in UFC history. Cutelaba came out super aggressive and nearly came to blows in the octagon with Ankalaev before the fight even started, before employing a “drunken master” strategy where he acted hurt when getting hit to egg Ankalaev on. It backfired though when the referee stepped in insanely early and handed Ankalaev a TKO win. The fight has been rescheduled three times since but fallen apart due to COVID-19 but is now finally set to happen. Realistically, Ankalaev is the better fighter. Both are strong wrestlers with powerful strikes but the Russian mixes his strikes up better with kicks too and his defence is much better. Cutelaba’s best chance is to hang in there until Ankalaev gets tired, or he lands a big punch.
PICK – Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Lamas (19-8) vs Bill Algeo (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

The legend that is Ricardo Lamas was supposed to take on Uriah Hall this week but with that falling apart, it’s UFC debutant Algeo who he’ll come up against instead. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who’s sole aim in every fight is to get the fight to the ground, take his opponents back and strangle them. Lamas is a veteran who knows how to cope against all types of threats, but is on a 1-3 streak currently. He is a range fighter on the feet but if the fight goes to the ground Lamas has some of the best ground and pound in the game. I think it’s likely that this fight ends up with Lamas in top control landing shots with Algeo looking for a sweep and submission. Without a full camp though, ‘The Bully’ should be able to dominate his way to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

Alexa Grasso (11-3) vs Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting bout here between a former strawweight and a former bantamweight. Alexa Grasso is a fantastic boxer who has spent her entire career at 115lbs up to now. She’s struggled in the past against wrestlers and grapplers, but won’t have to worry about that against the bigger opponent in Kim. Both women are strikers first but with Grasso being at her more natural weight class for this fight, I expect her to be able to be quicker and with the more naturally heavy hands she should land the bigger shots throughout. The size discrepancy could potentially be a problem but Kim is likely to suffer in the cardio battle too, so Grasso should be able to get back in the win column.
PICK – Alex Grasso via Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler (28-14) vs Neil Magny (23-7) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The fight of the night in the co-main event of the night. Robbie Lawler steps in on short-notice to take on Neil Magny after Geoff Neal dropped out injured. Lawler is known for his violent style, in which he steps forward and goes for the kill at all times. He’s not fought since he was dismantled by Colby Covington just over a year ago. Magny is a rangy striker who has won his last two fights against Anthony Rocco Martin and Jingliang Li via decision. He used his footwork well and his karate style to counter strike and avoid any problems. Magny will have a 6 inch reach advantage and therefore will be able to implement his favoured style well, which has me leaning in his favour. Lawler has incredible power and wrestling skills though, so it’s not a sure-fire pick but I’ll go with my head and pick Magny via decision.
PICK – Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Anthony Smith (33-15) vs Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A firework in the light heavyweight division as former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith takes on top prospect ‘Rocket’ in a fight that could determine who the first challenger to the soon-to-be-crowned new champion is. Smith went on a tear through the division beating legends Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans then Volkan Oezdemir before losing his title shot to Jon Jones. He bounced back from that by submitting Alexander Gustafsson in Stockholm but was then dismantled by Glover Teixiera in May. Rakic was on a 12 fight win streak including a violent first-round head-kick knockout of Jimi Manuwa before he was beaten by Oezdemir back in December. Both men are violent strikers with one punch power, but Smith is a talented grappler too which often gets overlooked. This main event is just three rounds, so cardio shouldn’t come into the equation so it’s all about who can land the bigger shots to catch the eye of the judges. It’s unlikely to get to the ground but just in case it does, I’m going with Smith to shut down the prospect and keep himself in the top of the division.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Split Decision

Georges St-Pierre vs Robbie Lawler

Two of the best Weltwerweight champions ever, fighting the same opponents and during the same generation and yet somehow, they never crossed paths.

Georges St-Pierre was the reigning Welterweight World Champion in the UFC between 2008 and 2013, succesfully defending his belt 9 times before vacating. Robbie Lawler immediately fought for that belt and while he didn’t win it at the first attempt, he eventually took the crown and made the division his own.

Yet somehow, despite them going back-to-back in the record books as the King of the 170lbs division, they never fought eachother. So, in their prime, who would have won?

Before GSP won the belt in 2008, he had already previously held the title and even competed for it before that. He first competed for the belt back in 2004, being submitted by Matt Hughes. He went away, honed his craft and became an ultimate wrestling machine. He came back and put a five-fight win streak together, including victories against BJ Penn and Sean Sherk before challenging and defeating Matt Hughes in their rematch with a second round TKO. He had a blip in the road immediately after that, losing to Matt Serra in his first defence of the belt. He then toppled Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes again to earn a rematch with Serra, who he defeated with relative ease in the second round. At that point, his reign of dominance began.

UFC 154: St-Pierre v Condit : News Photo
GSP’s ground and pound game is amongst the most vicious in history

‘Rush’ never lost again in his career, earning wins by KO, submission and decision on his way to cementing a legacy worthy of his Hall of Fame entry this year.

Lawler has had a very different path to greatness in his career. ‘Ruthless’ has a record of 28-14-1 which on paper is not very impressive. A host of big name wins on his record doesn’t make up for the L’s he’s taken but it’s more the style of fighter he became throughout his career that has him written in MMA folklore.

His size was always an advantage in the 170lbs division, considering he spent a large portion of his career at Middleweight. His aggression and physicality mean he could hang with anyone, plus his granite chin saw him go through some of the greatest wars in recent memory. His fight with Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 is widely considered as one of the greatest fights in history, while he also battled with Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks either side of that to 5 round decision wins.

Both men were phenomenal in all aspects of mixed martial arts. We already mentioned that GSP went away and honed his craft to become the ultimate wrestling machine, but Lawler had a wrestling background to begin with. Both men also had a fantastic striking game, with GSP more focused on technique while ‘Ruthless’ was more about power and durability.

UFC 189: Lawler v MacDonald : News Photo
Lawler is famous for his wars in the UFC

If the fight had happened, it would have been a traditional Robbie Lawler war. ‘Rush’ would have dominated the early exchanges, using his superior footwork to his advantage. As the fight wore on though, Lawler would start to dictate the pace and press forward. He’d eventually land big strikes and I expect GSP would be able to eat them in the same way he endured Johny Hendricks’ heavy hands.

In a fight that would without a doubt end with both men bloodied and battered, I think that Georges St-Pierre’s big-fight record would come into play. He knows how to get the wins in these types of fights, while Lawler is sometimes more focused on the entertainment factor than actually securing the victory.

For this reason, I expect GSP would get the win in via Unanimous decision in a tight affair.