Said Nurmagomedov (16-2) vs Saidyokub Kakhramonov (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger at bantamweight up next. Nurmagomedov has won his last three in a row, KO’ing Mark Striegl (UFC Fight Island 6), submitting Cody Stamann (UFC 270) and then earning a decision over Douglas Silva de Andrade most recently. Kakhramonov is on a four-fight win streak including a submission win over Trevin Jones and a decision win over Ronnie Lawrence in his first two UFC bouts.
Nurmagomedov is a good grappler, but despite his surname it’s his striking that is his standout attributes, with really good kicks in his arsenal. Kakhramonov is more like you’d expect Nurmagomedov to be, with excellent and relentless grappling with a fantastic gas tank to go with it and some okay striking at best. But his gas tank is a big problem for Nurmagomedov who can start a bit slowly sometimes.
With that said, Nurmagomedov is very good at what Kakhramonov is best at. The same cannot be said the other way around. Nurmagomedov will look to stand and land from distance and if he gets taken down he will make Kakhramonov work hard and it’ll be 50-50, so that leads me to a pick for Nurmagomedov in a really fun bout. PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Julian Marquez (9-3) vs Deron Winn (7-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A weird middleweight bout next. Marquez earned submission wins over Maki Pitolo (UFC 258) and Sam Alvey (UFC Vegas 23) before a knockout loss to Gregory Rodrigues most recently. Winn on the other hand 1-3 in his last four, getting KO’d by Phil Hawes in his most recent bout.
Marquez is a powerful striker with good elbows and a heavy right hand, but it’s his gas tank that stands out most. He really struggles with defensive wrestling too, which is a big problem against a wrestler of Winn’s calibre. Winn is small but he should be able to get on the inside here and get his takedowns off, but his biggest issue is his cardio which falls off a cliff at some point in the second round regularly.
Winn should win the first round because of his wrestling, but Marquez’s pressure and power is a big problem. As the fight goes on Winn will start to waiver and Marquez will get stronger, meaning the takedowns get easier to defend and the strikes become easier to land. This could be billed as a bit of a “comeback” win, but I do think Marquez has the power and cardio to get it done late on. PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 3
Jake Matthews (18-5) vs Matthew Semelsberger (10-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Welterweight banger up next. Matthews has won four of his last five fights, with his only defeat coming to Sean Brady back at UFC 259. Most recently he claimed a win over Andre Fialho via knockout. Semelsberger is coming off a short-notice loss to Alex Morono at UFC 277, which snapped a two-fight win streak.
Matthews has developed himself into a really well-rounded MMA fighter, with excellent striking and power to go with really good wrestling and some fine submission skills too. Semelsberger on the other hand is a straight up powerhouse, with a huge right hand that puts people’s heads into orbit. Defensively he has struggled with wrestlers in the past and his striking defence isn’t the best either, as shown against Morono.
Semelsberger will always have a punchers chance in a fight, but in this match it seems tough that he has anything more than that. Matthews is the better striker with good power and volume, and his wrestling is a get out of jail free card if he needs it too. Both guys are durable so a finish is unlikely, but Matthews should pull away by mixing all his skills together and claim a big win to show he’s a serious contender in the division. PICK – Jake Matthews via Decision
Cheyanne Vlismas (7-2) vs Cory McKenna (7-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
The only women on the card take up the featured prelim spot for this card. Vlismas (formerly known as Buys) has won her last two in the UFC, KO’ing Gloria De Paula before earning a decision win over Mallory Martin most recently (UFC Vegas 44). McKenna has won five of her last six, with a defeat to Elise Reed at UFC London prior to her most recent win against Miranda Granger via submission.
Vlismas is a very good striker on the feet with good defensive takedown skills and plenty of output and volume, but she has often gone against an ideal game plan and found herself in trouble. McKenna is a strong wrestler who uses her striking to open up opportunities to shoot, but she struggled for control against Elise Reed which is a bad sign here. Vlismas is very good at moving away from shots and controlling distance, which would allow her to land clean a lot because of her five-inch reach advantage in this fight.
McKenna is capable of getting her to the ground, and once there she has a big advantage. She’s stronger physically and has good technique, but she may eat a host of shots trying to get in there. If Vlismas fights to her strengths by keeping distance on the outside and limiting her kicks, then she should be able to come away with a win. PICK – Cheyanne Vlismas via Decision
The UFC returns to the Apex arena for another UFC Vegas card, headlined this time by huge lightweight contenders as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev in the main event.
The number seven ranked 155-pounder takes on the number 11 ranked 155-pounder, but they’re backed up by a solid card this weekend including one UFC debutant and a list of experienced talent too.
Last time out at UFC 276 e went 8/11 (we don’t count no contests) with two perfect picks, moving us to 649/1009 (64.32%) with 279 perfect picks (42.99%). You can check out our total picks history here.
Michael Johnson (21-17) vs Jamie Mullarkey (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight. Johnson snapped a four-fight losing streak with a huge knockout win over Alan Patrick in his most recent bout, while Mullarkey saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he was KO’d by Jalin Turner at UFC 272.
Johnson is a power puncher who has got an excellent wrestling background, but he uses speed and low kicks to set up his big overhand right and boxing combinations. Mullarkey alternatively is a brawler with incredible power and good combinations, but he also has the ability to mix in takedowns in his fights too. They’re similar stylistically, but at very different places in their careers.
Mullarkey should be very confident coming into this fight. Johnson is still a super powerful fighter but he’s not as quick as he once was and nowhere near as durable as he was. That means when they get into the exchanges in close quarters, Mullarkey will land flush and likely put Johnson down. From there I expect him to get the finish and likely put an end to The Menace’s career. PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 2
Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs Nina Nunes (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight bout up next in the final women’s bout of the night. Calvillo started her flyweight career with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 2), but has since lost three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255) via decision and then getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade (UFC 266) and a corner stoppage at the end of the second round against Andrea Lee most recently. Nunes on the other hand has lost her last two, with an armbar defeat to Mackenzie Dern most recently in her first bout since becoming a mother.
Calvillo tends to use her striking to set up her wrestling, using her top game to stay heavy on the opponent and land ground and pound strikes. Nunes is an all-rounder who is capable of striking and using her grappling to win fights, but she lacks power and isn’t a natural grappler either.
With that said, Calvillo has really struggled in this weight class. Nunes’ footwork and speed is something that has caused Calvillo problems in previous bouts but Nunes was outwrestled most recently and Calvillo is a strong wrestler. Despite that though, I expect a Nunes win. Her strengths outweigh her weaknesses in relation to her opponent and she should be able to bounce around the cage enough to nullify the wrestling and land some solid strikes to earn the win. PICK – Nina Nunes via Decision
Jared Vanderaa (12-8) vs Chase Sherman (15-10) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights on losing streaks clash in this one. Vanderaa has lost his last three, getting KO’d by Alexandr Romanov, dropping a split decision to Andrei Arlovski (UFC 271) and getting submitted by Aleksei Oleinik (UFC 273). Sherman on the other hand has lost his last four, dropping decisions to Arlovski and Parker Porter before getting submitted by Jake Collier (UFC Vegas 46) and Romanov.
Vanderaa has a good mixture of grappling and striking, but it’s not at a high level. He tends to use volume more than power, while Sherman is your typical heavyweight who has a big right hand and does all he can to set it up. This won’t be an entertaining fight and I’d be surprised if it didn’t go the full 15 minutes.
Sherman will look to counter with his boxing and land his big right hand, but Vanderaa moves better and should be able to pick him apart from range while mixing in and threatening with takedowns too. Vanderaa should earn the win on the cards in a fight nobody will remember in the morning. PICK – Jared Vanderaa via Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (28-4) vs Said Nurmagomedov (15-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An unbelievable fight in the bantamweight division up next. Andrade is on a two-fight win streak after KO’ing Gaetano Pirrello and then submitting Sergey Mozorov last time out. Nurmagomedov has also won his last two fights, KO’ing Mark Striegl (UFC Fight Island 6) before submitting Cody Stamann (UFC 270) most recently.
Andrade is an unbelievably powerful striker with brilliant technique and also excellent grappling skills to fall back on too, although he does prefer to get into a war and turn his opponent’s lights out. Nurmagomedov is a super well-rounded fighter too who uses his brilliant technique to mix up striking and grappling attacks, making him dangerous no matter what.
Nurmagomedov’s biggest advantage in this fight is his speed and his cardio. He is capable of going at full tilt for the full 15 minutes, while Andrade tends to fade away as the fight goes on. Of course Andrade could catch him with one of those heavy strikes and end the night early, but I expect Nurmagomedov to be able to use his length to land big and piece Andrade up to claim a massive victory. PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Caio Borralho (11-1) vs Armen Petrosyan (7-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger between two prospects in the middleweight division next. Borralho is on an eight-fight win streak including a technical decision win in his UFC debut last time out, while Petrosyan has won his last three in a row including a split decision win over Gregory Rodrigues in his UFC debut last time out.
Both of these guys are excellent strikers, with Petrosyan having supreme technique and excellent power with six of his seven career wins coming via knockout. Borralho on the other hand is also a talented grappler, who will look to time the strikes of Petrosyan to get under him and use his jiu-jitsu skills to control the Armenian.
Neither of these guys really deserve to be in a co-main event at this point of their career, but it’s a really fun fight for sure. On the feet Petrosyan has the advantage with technique, speed and power, but eventually Borralho will need to use volume and pressure to close distance and try to get the fight to the ground. Once there Borralho should be able to control him and work his way to the neck to claim a big submission win. PICK – Caio Borralho via Submission, Round 2
Rafael Dos Anjos (31-13) vs Rafael Fiziev (11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Absolute banger of a main event finally takes place at the third time of asking. Dos Anjos has won his last two since returning to lightweight, beating Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14) and Renato Moicano (UFC 272) via decision in dominant performances. Fiziev has won his last five, with a spinning wheel kick KO over Brad Riddell most recently at UFC Vegas 44.
Dos Anjos is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the entire division, with excellent wrestling and grappling to go with his solid boxing combinations and incredible cardio. Fiziev is as pure a striker as they come, but his takedown defence is pretty good and his ability to scramble to his feet when he does go down is good too. Fiziev is the favourite in this bout, but stylistically this could be a tough bout for him.
The Brazilian has a big advantage in the grappling areas, but he’s also capable of holding his own in the striking realm. He’s still sharp despite his age and he’s been fighting five-round fights for a lot of his career, while this is Fiziev’s first ever five-round bout. RDA will use trips, grappling and experience to slow down the striking ability of Fiziev and I think he’ll be able to control him on the mat to earn a win as the underdog. PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision
Jasmine Jasudavicius def Kay Hansen via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Hansen shoots in for a takedown immediately as the fight starts and both women clinch against the cage fighting for position. Jasudavicius is able to defend and looks for a right hand on the break but misses. Hansen trying to box from the outside but Jasudavicius the longer fighter and able to land her jab well. Lovely slip and left hook from Hansen lands, then she changes levels looking for a takedown but Jasudavicius defends it really well. Clinch against the cage and then Hansen gets tripped and ends up on her back with Jasudavicius in her guard. Big elbow lands from Jasudavicius but Hansen is looking for something from her back. She kicks her off but Jasudavicius lands a big elbow on the ground before the round ends. 10-9 Jasudavicius.
Jasudavicius throws a kick early doors which Hansen catches and is able to trip her down. She looks to move straight into mount, but Jasudavicius sweeps her and ends up on top herself and is landing some big shots against the cage. Hansen is looking for armbars but is eating big elbows to the face. Jasudavicius controlling the position on top but not much happening and the referee stands them up. Hansen catches another kick but doesn’t get her down, then throws a big spinning elbow and then shoots in for a takedown but Jasudavicius defends it brilliantly and reverses the position against the cage. After some grinding against the cage Jasudavicius gets another takedown with 10 seconds left to take the round. 20-18.
Nice exchange of right hands between the two ladies at the start of the round as Hansen tries to close the distance. Jasudavicius fakes a takedown and lands a nice left hand, before Hansen fires back with a crisp right hook that lands clean. She’s landing well on the feet despite being smaller, but Jasudavicius lands her jab well too in return. Beautiful left hand lands from Hansen but Jasudavicius eats it and continues to come forward. Hansen having the better of the fight on the feet but she needs a finish. Final 90 seconds and they trade big strikes, before another left hook from Hansen. Jasudavicius just misses with a left high kick, then Hansen lands a big elbow and a left hand. Jasudavicius gets hold of Hansen and lands some big knees in a Thai clinch for the final ten seconds. 29-28 Jasudavicius for me.
Lots of forward movement early on from Demopoulos, but Juarez moves away relatively easily and lands a bomb of a right hand. Hard low kicks land from Demopoulos but then Juarez lands another huge overhand right that drops her! She moves in for ground and pound and lands some heavy shots but Demopoulos manages to control her posture on the ground and cover up. Demopoulos starts looking for an armbar and is threatening hard with it. She sweeps Juarez from the bottom with the arm locked up and gets the tap! What a brilliant comeback win!
Matt Frevola def Genaro Valdez via Knockout, Round 1 (3:15)
High pace to start this one as Frevola goes high with a kick that just misses before both guys start swinging from the hip. Hard low kick from Frevola lands but both guys land with big right hands. Frevola pushing forward and lands a big right hand that wobbles Valdez! He drops him and then goes for ground and pound but Valdez keeps going. They get back to the feet and Frevola lands another hard right that drops him again! Valdez goes for a left hand that lands but Frevola too powerful now and knocks him down again! Valdez trying to defend himself but Frevola starts landing big knees up the middle. Huge strikes again from Frevola and Valdez goes down again but the referee still letting it go. Frevola takes his back instead, moves into mount and starts raining down punches and forces the referee to stop the fight! Wow, what a crazy fight! Huge win for Frevola!
Tony Gravely def Saimon Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Very fast start to this fight as Oliveira throws a high kick and then a big flying knee as Gravely moves in for a takedown. Oliveira sweeps and gets on top and looks for a guillotine and it’s in deep, but Gravely is gutting it out and trying to lift the hips to ease the pressure. He pops his head out and lands some big ground strikes before controlling position from the top. Oliveira works his way back up to his feet and looks for a guillotine again, but Gravely steps behind him and takes him back down to the ground. Oliveira works his way back up again but Gravely throwing short combinations then shoots for a takedown again. Oliveira goes for another guillotine, but Gravely takes him down again and should take the round. 10-9.
Second round and Gravely immediately comes in for a takedown and gets it. Oliveira threatens with a kimura from the bottom but Gravely denies it and steps in. Good pressure again, but Oliveira lands a big left hook before Gravely goes for a takedown and denies another guillotine attempt. Gravely steps in and changes levels with an excellent takedown again and passes into half-guard immediately as Oliveira looks to throw elbows from the bottom. Gravely landing some big shots from top position but Oliveira eats them to get back to his feet, then starts throwing some hard elbows to force a break. Gravely taking Oliveira down whenever he wants now and landing heavy shots to end the round. 20-18 Gravely.
Oliveira comes storming out wildly but Gravely immediately goes to his wrestling to get a takedown and fight off another guillotine choke attempt. Oliveira throwing short elbows from the bottom but Gravely controlling the position well. Oliveira works his way back up to the feet, before Gravely goes for the takedown once again and successfully stops any momentum. Once again Oliveira goes for a guillotine but Gravely defends it easily and lands some solid ground and pound too. Oliveira works his way back up once more but Gravely lands a nice right hook as we enter the final minute. Exchange of strikes and Gravely lands a big uppercut that wobbles Oliveira. Spinning back elbow from Oliveira and a big knee but Gravely takes him down. Back up and a big knee from Gravely lands followed by a left hook before the round ends. 30-27 Gravely, great fight.
Jack Della Maddalena def Pete Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1 (2:59)
Good pace to this fight early on as Maddalena applying pressure and stepping forward. Maddalena using his jab brilliantly but Rodriguez is responding with decent combinations of his own, including a nice left uppercut. Maddalena’s jab is picking Rodriguez apart and has busted his nose up bad. Maddalena lands a right hand, then follows it with a brilliant combination that rocks Rodriguez! Big left hand lands and drops Rodriguez and he follows it up with two shots on the ground to end the fight! What a performance from Maddalena.
Victor Henry def Raoni Barcelos via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Very even start to the fight as both guys trade singular shots while they look for range and movement. Barcelos lands a nice left hand then follows up with a beautiful combination that lands heavy on Henry. Henry throws a body kick but Barcelos side steps and lands a nice counter right. Big uppercut from Barcelos and a quick one-two lands, then he just misses with a big right hook. Henry lands a big left hand and Barcelos shoots, but Henry stuffs it and eats two big punches. Henry stepping forward now and he’s landed some big strikes too on the chin. Barcelos takes his head off the centre line and lands a big left hand, but Henry comes forward again. Barcelos landing heavy strikes but Henry still coming and lands some big shots of his own. Barcelos trips him to get a takedown but lets him back up immediately and Henry hurts him with a left hand. He rushes forward to clinch and lands some big punches before the round ends. 10-9 Barcelos, but momentum with Henry.
Henry keeping the pace very high at the start of the second after noticing Barcelos fade. Barcelos lands a nice combination, but Henry throwing kicks and then he lands a nice left hook. Nice double jab from Barcelos and after some more soft touches, Barcelos lands a big, hard one-two. Barcelos starting to land heavy again with some nice combinations but Henry is still right there. Two big right hands from Henry land but Barcelos responds with a very good combination in close. Barcelos catches a kick and goes for a trip takedown, but Henry gets back up immediately and they go back to trading. Big head kick just misses from Barcelos as the buzzer goes. 19-19? It’s very close.
Final round and Henry is working some heavy body kicks while Barcelos looking to land big punches to counter it. Both men are landing heavy strikes but neither going anywhere. Barcelos is fading and Henry is just continuing to come forward. Henry starting to land clean strikes on the chin and Barcelos is reacting. Henry looking for a finish but Barcelos clinches and Henry looks for a takedown. Hard knees to the back of the leg from Barcelos before he explodes out and lands some huge strikes on Henry. Left hand wobbles Henry but he’s still there and fights back himself to end the round and surely claim the win. 29-28 Henry for me.
Michael Morales def Trevin Giles via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)
Three hard low kicks from Giles to open the round and Morales hasn’t checked any of them. Morales throws one back but then Giles throws another and then drops him with a huge one two! Morales recovers quickly and clinches, but Giles uses his strength and drags him down to the mat. Giles moves towards an arm triangle submission but Morales sweeps him brilliantly to end up on top, although Giles is able to scramble back to his feet quickly. Morales throws a big counter right hand and lands clean and Giles is hurt! Morales follows up with huge strikes and follows up with heavy ground and pound to force the referee to step in and stop the fight! Big performance from Morales, what a win!
Said Nurmagomedov def Cody Stamann via Submission (Guillotine), Round 1 (0:47)
Nurmagomedov comes out fast and aggressive early on with strikes including a spinning back fist and spinning back side kick. Stamann shoots in for a takedown immediately because he doesn’t like that and Nurmagomedov grabs the neck quickly. He locks in a high-elbow grip, rolls through and secures the tap out! Wow! What a performance.
Michel Pereira def Andre Fialho via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast start from Fialho as he takes the centre immediately and throws a nice combination. Fialho goes for a wheel kick but misses, before Pereira throws a big body kick and then a huge combination after kicking off the cage. Nice jab from Fialho lands and makes Pereira stumble back against the cage, then another lands flush too. Nice overhand right from Pereira lands but Fialho eats it then steps forward, feints, and lands a beautiful combo flush on the chin. Pereira responds with a couple of big shots too but Fialho has been excellent so far. Fialho coming forward and the jab is landing beautifully, before Pereira goes for a takedown and sees it stuffed. Big overhand right from Pereira lands but then he slips and Fialho ends the round on top landing some nice ground and pound. 10-9 Fialho.
Second round and Pereira has scaled back the wacky explosions and has gone back to fundamentals, and is doing well. Big left jab to the body and right overhand lands, Big combination and Fialho is rocked. Pereira goes for a flying knee but misses before landing a crazy body kick and a front flip lariat. Hard strikes land from Pereira, but Fialho responds with some big strikes himself. Big wheel kick misses again from Pereira, but then the hard front kick to the body lands. Pereira clinches and throws knees to the body, but Fialho lands some hard uppercuts at the same time. Pereira continuing to throw front kicks to the body, and mixing it up with hard right hands. Fialho counters with a right hand of his own as Pereira scores a takedown with 20 seconds to go. 19-19, great recovery.
Fialho continuing to come forward in this final round but Pereira seems to have figured him out and is now landing hard low kicks. Nice combination from Pereira, before he shoots for a takedown but doesn’t get it. Fialho forces Pereira backwards with strikes but then he replies with an explosive right hand. Pereira chopping away at the body but Fialho not going anywhere and landing his jab well. Pereira getting in and out with his strikes, but Fialho is still there and is landing really well. Pereira goes for one of those body kicks but gets it a bit low and there’s a pause in the action. Crazy exchanges to see the round out from both guys, but Pereira should claim the victory.
Deiveson Figueiredo def Brandon Moreno via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
Hard low kick from Figueiredo early on, but when he goes for a second Moreno avoids it and chases him looking for a strike. Clinch against the cage forces a stalemate for about a minute, before they break and Moreno just misses with a left hook. Hard low kick from Figueiredo sits Moreno down but he bounces back up quickly. Another hard low kick from Figueiredo and then Moreno lands a hard right hand that seems to hurt Figueiredo. The Brazilian changes levels and drags Moreno down with a takedown and transitions to the back, but Moreno scrambles up to his feet quickly. Spinning low kick hurts Figueiredo’s leg but he lands a nice right hand before the buzzer ends the round. 10-9 Figueiredo, just.
Moreno coming forward well in this second round and he looks confident and calm. Figueiredo lands a right hand, then goes for a body kick but Moreno catches it and tries to drop him to the ground but they immediately scramble back up to the feet. Moreno starting to throw his own low kicks and both guys are looking to counter the other as it stands. Moreno steps in and lands a nice left hook to the body before a left to the chin, before Figueiredo changes levels and grabs a leg but misses with the big right hand. Nice combination to the body from Figueiredo, but Moreno fires back with a left hand. Figueiredo throws a big right hand that hurts Moreno, but the champ returns with a shot of his own that hurts Figueiredo. Both guys just miss with a head kick and the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Both fighters land a left hook early, before Moreno charges in with a knee but gets taken down. He gets to the cage and gets back to his feet while preventing Figueiredo from taking his back. Low kick each to add to the damage, before a left hand makes Moreno stumble! Moreno responds with a right hand that makes him wobble too, then they exchange big strikes again that make each other stumble. Hard low kick from Figueiredo but Moreno lands a few big strikes again that keep Figueiredo on the back foot. Another hard leg kick forces Moreno to the ground, before he throws a big combo that sees a left hand land on the chin of Figueiredo. Heavy left hand from Figueiredo lands but Moreno returns fire with the same strike himself. Head kick from Moreno is partially blocked. Figueiredo lands a huge right hand that drops Moreno! He sinks in a guillotine choke but the buzzer goes! Saved by the bell! 29-28 Fig.
Hard low kick again from Figueiredo and Moreno is hurting. Moreno throws a couple of low kicks himself and gets a reaction from Figueiredo, but Fig taking the centre. Hard low kick from Moreno puts Figueiredo down to one knee but he bounces back up immediately. Figueiredo just misses with a left hook and right cross, before a body lock and clinch against the cage as he looks for a takedown. Moreno scrambles out and starts throwing big flurries, with a left hook landing well. Hard body kick from Moreno, but Figueiredo returns it. Round ends with little action, got to give it to Moreno. 38-38.
Some good distance management early on from both guys before Moreno steps in and gets a takedown. Figueiredo uses his butterfly guard to elevate Moreno and scramble back to his feet quickly though. Nice left hand from Moreno lands, before a hook to the body too. Great slip from Moreno as he avoids Figueiredo’s strike and lands a strong left hand. Big right hand from Figueiredo lands and he drops Moreno! Moreno responds with a nice left hand, before Figueiredo lands a head kick. Both guys land a flush one-two. Final 30 seconds and both guys just start swinging for the fences, with both guys landing clean and both getting hurt. Amazing fight. 48-47 Fig for me, but no complaints if it goes the other way.
Francis Ngannou def Ciryl Gane via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Ngannou takes the centre immediately and Gane bounces on the outside, before shooting in for a takedown but Ngannou defends it well. Ngannou clinches well against Gane and then Gane looks for an upwards elbow. Ngannou lands a big right hook and uppercut, but Gane avoids the big actions and steps away. Spinning kick to the body lands for Gane, and then he moves side-to-side and lands a nice jab too. Ngannou staying very calm so far and then clinching against the cage, landing a big knee to the body. Gane switches the position and lands a knee of his own, before Gane throws a nice body shot. Gane lands a push kick to the body and the round ends. 10-9 Gane.
Slow start to the round from both guys, as Gane throws a front leg side kick to the body. Nice low kicks from Gane and a jab, but the round has been very slow so far. Gane throws a big body shot and hook that lands well, but Ngannou relaxed and eats them. Ngannou misses with a big right hand but they clinch and Gane separates easily. Ngannou throws the one-two and just misses, but Gane responds with a spinning heel-kick that lands well. Gane is basically fighting at walking pace right now, in complete control while Ngannou is barely throwing. Hard body kick lands from Ngannou as we head into the final 30 seconds. Gane throws a right hand and Ngannou replies with an uppercut that lands, but not flush. Gane bounces around the outside to see out the round. 20-18.
Gane very relaxed for the opening minute as he moves around on the outside before throwing a kick that Ngannou catches and he slams him to the mat! Ngannou in side control looking to control the position but Gane does well to get out. Ngannou takes the back and lands some good shots in the ground and pound but Gane gets back up and they separate. Big spinning elbow from Gane on the break lands but Gane then steps back and steps in with a big double leg takedown. Gane goes for a kimura but Ngannou defends it well and ends the round on top. 29-28.
Gane showing his gas tank is nowhere near empty with good movement again, as Ngannou holds the centre and moves slowly. Gane walking around with his hands low, landing short leg kicks before Ngannou throws a hard body kick. He gets a body lock and spins to get Gane down to the mat. Gane trying to keep wrist control but gives it up and throws a short elbow, with Ngannou looking for ground and pound. Another takedown from Ngannou as he looks to move into full mount, but Gane manages to roll out. Ngannou gets him against the cage and lands a big knee to the chest before ending the round on top. What a combeack this is. 38-38, final round.
Gane comes out with leg kicks again and just misses with a big overhand right. Big left hand from Gane lands but Ngannou still in the centre and eats it. Gane changes levels and gets a single leg takedown, but Ngannou tries to get back up. Gane goes for a leg attack and Ngannou manages to get on top instead! Gane rolls it back through and torques for a heel hook but he can’t get it and now Ngannou gets back on top. Ngannou in half-guard and stalling the position as we enter the final minute. Gane can’t work any offense from the bottom and Ngannou is controlling the position. Ngannou looks for ground and pound to end the round and he’s surely taken the decision victory! 48-47 Ngannou.
The first pay-per-view of the year brings us two huge title fights in the smallest and biggest weights available to the men.
In the main event of the night Francis Ngannou will take on former teammate and interim champion Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title of the world, while the co-main will see the trilogy between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title.
Rodolfo Vieira (8-1) vs Wellington Turman (17-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
This fight got moved up to the main card during fight week and it’s no surprise why. Rodolfo Vieira got submitted by ‘Fluffy’ Hernandez in the submission of the year at UFC 258 in one of the shocks of the year, before bouncing back and submitting Dustin Stoltzfus. Turman is one of the youngest veterans in MMA, and snapped a two-fight losing streak with a split decision win over Sam Alvey at UFC Vegas 35 last time out.
Vieira has the nickname ‘the black belt hunter’ for a reason. He is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world, not just MMA, and has great ability to secure takedowns using his body weight as well as wrestling. Turman is also a talented grappler but who has fallen in love with his hands more recently, looking to box and use his physicality. That won’t go well here though.
Vieira is going to stand only for as long as he has to before looking to bulldoze Turman into a takedown and then working his incredible jiu-jitsu skills for a submission. He managed to conserve energy against Stoltzfus to take it into the third round last time, but he won’t need to do that here as he’ll smoke him early. PICK – Rodolfo Vieira via Submission, Round 1
Michael Morales (12-0) vs Trevin Giles (14-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very exciting welterweight bout in this one. Michael Morales comes into the UFC as an undefeated fighter having earned a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series back in September, while Giles saw a three-fight win streak snapped at UFC 264 by Dricus Du Plessis when he got knocked out.
Morales is an exciting well rounded fighter, with good speed with his hands and decent wrestling too. Giles on the other hand is making his welterweight debut having spent the vast majority of his career at middleweight. He has good power in his hands and good movement, but he isn’t the most explosive out there. Morales has great length and uses it well, but so does Giles.
It’s a very close fight on paper with different factors going in favour of different fighters. Giles is moving down in weight and we don’t know how he’ll cope, but Morales is pretty green and this is a huge step up in competition compared to the rest of his career. In what should be a decent fight, I think Giles will be able to use his boxing and size well to give Morales his first professional defeat. PICK – Trevin Giles via Decision
Cody Stamann (19-4-1) vs Said Nurmagomedov (14-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very exciting bantamweight fight between two grappling machines at 135-pounds. Stamann has lost his last two in a row, dropping decisions to Jimmie Rivera and most recently Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Vegas 25. Nurmagomedov, the cousin of Khabib, earned a KO win over Mark Striegl at UFC Fight Island 6. He hasn’t fought in 14 months since though.
Stamann is a staunch wrestler, who has his whole game based around being able to take his opponent down and control the position for 15 minutes – something that 11 decision wins from 19 proves. Nurmagomedov in the opposite corner has largely worked as a kickboxer in the UFC, but the wrestling and submission skills have been seen previously in his career unsurprisingly. Nurmagomedov is likely to try and strike with Stamann, using his scrambling ability to get off the mat if any takedowns are given up at all.
Both guys are fairly well-rounded, but Stamann is clearly far more predictable than the Dagestani. That makes him much easier to plan for and I expect that while Nurmagomedov will probably get taken down at some point, he’ll be able to land plenty on the feet and get up consistently to be able to earn a decision win. PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Michel Pereira (26-11) vs Andre Fialho (14-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
This one has got fireworks written all over it, so expect someone to go to sleep. Pereira is on a three-fight win streak after beating ‘Khaos’ Williams at UFC Vegas 17 and Niko Price at UFC 264 most recently by decision. Fialho is stepping in on short-notice for his UFC debut, on a four-fight finishing streak in UAE Warriors.
Pereira is an absolute mad man who is a specialist in capoeira, with explosive kicks and punches as well as some excellent wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills. Fialho has been dubbed ‘the knockout machine’ for his aggressive style, where he walks forward and tries to bait his opponent into a straight up brawl. Doing that against a fighter like Pereira is begging for trouble, but we’ve seen some crazy KO shocks in the past and I wouldn’t put it past him.
Ultimately though, this one looks like it may be too much of a step up for Fialho. Pereira is a legit contender at welterweight and with very little training for the fight, his gas tank isn’t guaranteed either. Pereira will trade big shots and mix in his takedowns to secure an impressive victory via choke. PICK – Michel Pereira via Submission, Round 2
Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) vs Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Absolute banger of a title fight in the flyweight division next between the two best 125-pounders in the world. This is the third time in a row these two have faced off against each other after a draw at UFC 256 and then Moreno’s famous title win at UFC 263 last year.
Moreno and Figueiredo are incredibly well-rounded fighters, but both with their primary aims slightly different. Moreno is an excellent grappler with a tremendous gas tank and he is happy to strike to pressure before stepping in for takedowns. Figueiredo on the other hand is an absolute powerhouse who looks to take his opponent’s head off with strikes, but also has the ability to tap his opponent out with his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Both guys are at their peak right now and coming into this with no worries or concerns, so it really is a tough pick.
I have to go with the reigning champion to retain though. In the last bout, Moreno’s pressure was excellent and he showed that he could take the power of Figueiredo even when he got hit clean. He also managed to outscramble the Brazilian on the ground and when he got a dominant position, he held onto it and secured the submission. I don’t think he gets a finish here, but I do think he grapples and scrambles his way to a unanimous decision win. PICK – Brandon Moreno via Decision
Francis Ngannou (16-3) vs Ciryl Gane (10-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The best heavyweight title fight in the history of the UFC headlines this card. Francis Ngannou is on a five-fight knockout run, which culminated in him claiming the title at the second attempt with a second-round KO of Stipe Miocic at UFC 260. Gane is undefeated in his professional career and enjoyed some stellar victories in 2021, defeating Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20 and Alexander Volkov at UFC Vegas 24 before knocking out Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 to become interim champion.
Ngannou is the most powerful man to ever compete in MMA, with an explosion of power and a genuine ability to knock anyone out with a single strike. Gane on the other hand is one of the most technical heavyweight fighters ever, with brilliant kickboxing and even some solid wrestling too. This is a genuine battle of power vs precision, but it’s crazier that they are former teammates and sparring partners. Ngannou showed greatly improved wrestling against Miocic which could potentially narrow one path to victory for Gane, but ultimately he has got more than one.
Gane has the speed and footwork advantage, while he is also a good clincher too. But what Ngannou has is the ability to end any fight in a split second with one punch and it’s really tough to pick against him. But I’m going to. Gane has been flawless so far in his MMA career and while Ngannou has game-changing power, Gane is no slouch himself. With all the movement, speed and the fact he will know Ngannou better than anyone else make me lean towards Gane putting on a clinic and earning a late finish to become the undisputed king of the heavyweights. PICK – Ciryl Gane via Knockout, Round 4
Said Nurmagomedov def Mark Striegl via Knockout, Round 1 (0:51)
Well that was quick! Nurmagomedov and Striegl exchange leg kicks and then as Striegl moves in for a takedown, Nurmagomedov lands a huge right hook. He follows it up with violent and accurate ground and pound and this one is over! Wow!
Maxim Grishin def Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Knockout, Round 2 (4:58)
A slow round to start off the fight as both men take a while to put the feelers out. They exchange jabs and then Antigulov shoots in for a takedown attempt but Grishin stuffs it well. A few more shots from each as the round runs through but overall a quiet round. 10-9 Antigulov.
Second round opens with a spinning wheel kick attempt from Antigulov and then a grappling exchange sees Antigulov take his back. After a scramble it’s Grishin who takes the back of Antigulov and he ends up in full mount. Lots of strikes and elbows land and Antigulov looks hurt but he manages to kick off the fence and get back to the feet. Grishin starts landing heavy shots to the head and Antigulov is just covering up and not moving. He’s still standing and throws a wild uppercut that misses before being hit several more times and the referee stops the fight with 2 seconds remaining of the round. Antigulov is FUMING.
Fares Ziam def Jamie Mullarkey via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Energetic round between the two fighters as both men show sharp striking and grappling skills throughout the round. Mullarkey shoots in for a takedown against the cage but Ziam reverses the position well and lands a couple of nice strikes before they get back to the feet. Ziam is using his long limbs well to stay out of range and land nice elbows and jabs well and he’ll take the first round. 10-9 Ziam.
Second round starts well once again as both men come forward. Ziam using his range well before Mullarkey starts clinching and using his strength. He shoots in for a double leg takedown and gets Ziam down. Some nice strikes land on the ground as he secures top position and looks to advance. Ziam is throwing elbows from the ground and defending well while scrambling out of positions but Mullarkey does enough to control and win the round in my eyes. 19-19.
Final round and it’s Ziam this time who goes in with the takedown attempt but some excellent defending and a scramble sees Mullarkey reverse the position and end up on top himself. Good ground and pound and he’s trying to advance position well but Ziam is defending expertly. Good scrambling from both but Mullarkey is showing his advantage on the mat and holds top position for long enough that he should have the decision wrapped up.
Jun Yong Park def John Phillips via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x3)
A tentative first 30 seconds of both fighters just bouncing in front of each other before Park shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it immediately. He stacks Phillips against the cage and starts working to advance position, with a neck crank and guillotine attempt that keeps Phillips down. He starts floating to take the back and lands lots of ground and pound strikes but nothing crazy solid but he dominates more than enough to take that round 10-8.
Second round goes exactly as the first did with Park landing a takedown early in the round and at the first attempt before going to work with lots and lots of ground and pound while controlling the position on the mat. Another 10-8 round comfortably.
Third round begins once again with Park securing a takedown and holding Phillips on the mat. More ground and pound, more control on the ground and more survival from Phillips because he just can’t do anything other than defend himself and move in bursts before being held down once again. This is a genuinely embarrassing performance from John Phillips. Three 10-8 rounds for Park.
Aggressive start to the fight for Robertson as she shoots in for a single leg takedown immediately but Botelho does well to stuff it. Botelho frames up well and engages in a clinch against the cage. She looks to break with an elbow but misses. Robertson circling on the outside and eats a couple of leg kicks and has another takedown attempt stuffed by the Brazilian. Eventually she secures a takedown and top position with a scramble and lands some nice knees to the body before the round ends. Close, but I’ve got it 10-9 Robertson.
Second round starts with Botelho coming forward and a nice strike sees Robertson’s mouth-guard fly out of her mouth. She marches forward and throws a kick that Robertson reads and ends up on her back. Robertson then spends the rest of the round in complete control on the ground, floating from position to position and threatening with ground and pound and submissions. Really good round for Robertson. 20-18.
Third round and Robertson is feinting takedowns and landing kicks instead to start with. Botelho comes forward again which allows Robertson the chance to change levels and secure yet another takedown. She gets into three-quarter mount quickly and starts landing lots of short elbows and ground and pound. Botelho is tired and beaten on the ground now and can’t even explode out. She gives up her back with seconds to go and Robertson takes it willingly to land more shots and take a pretty straight forward decision win.
A really fun first round in this one as the two debutants look to make an impression. Gamrot got a takedown early on after the initial feeling out process. Kutateladze throws up a rubber guard and threatens with a heel hook which gets the fight back to the feet. Kutateladze starts throwing big body kicks and nice combinations with the hands and keeps the fight standing for the most part to take the opening round. 10-9 Kutateladze.
Second round starts and Kutateladze lands a big right hand that drops Gamrot! The Pole recovers immediately though and looks for a takedown again but Kutateladze defends so well and keeps the fight standing. More body kicks and you can start to see the bruising on the ribs of Gamrot. Gamrot finally lands a takedown and keeps Kutateladze down for a short while and is able to land some ground and pound. That round could go either way.
Final round and Gamrot comes out hard and aggressive. He throws some nice jabs and hooks and attempts several takedowns throughout the round. Kutateladze defends so impressively and is able to land some body kicks back on the feet again but he’s tiring now. Gamrot continues with takedown attempts but he keeps struggling to keep the fight down on the ground for any stretch of time. He ends the round with some ground and pound but I think Kutateladze has done enough in the first two rounds.
Jonathan Martinez def Thomas Almeida via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A good competitive round to start the fight as Martinez uses his jab and footwork really well to cut the cage off to Almeida and prevent any danger coming back. Martinez throwing big kicks with the left leg and a nice left hook to take the opening round but Almeida is definitely in the fight and coming forward. 10-9 Martinez.
Second round and Almeida is leading the charge a little bit more in this round. He’s coming forward with longer combinations and is avoiding the jab of Martinez so far but a shot from Martinez has caused a cut under the left eye of Almeida. Almeida trying to vary his attacks with body kicks, head kicks and even a takedown attempt has got Martinez hesitating and Almeida lands a big left hook that drops him! Martinez gets back up quickly though and avoids further damage then lands a nice double jab that stuns Almeida. Really fun round, 19-19 for me.
What a round! Both men come out looking to claim the final round and are throwing really high level boxing combinations and exchanging kicks. Martinez’s jab is causing Almeida trouble but he’s now following it up with a big left hook that is landing and hurting Almeida. Almeida now throws a huge right hook of his own that lands clean but Martinez eats it well and comes back to land his own hook yet again. Another wild exchange to end the round as Martinez defends a takedown and should take the decision win. 29-28 Martinez for me.
James Krause def Claudio Silva via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A fun first round as Claudio Silva looks to take Krause’s head off with every punch and Krause continuously slips the looping hooks and is landing a big right hand to counter it almost at will. He’s using his footwork well to avoid the big attacks and is countering quite easily but Silva is desperate for a takedown. He gets a body lock against the cage but Krause defends very well and manages to break away and stay safe. 10-9 Krause.
Second round is more of the same as Krause stays out of range and continues to counter the looping left hook of Silva with a straight right hand down the middle. Krause varying the attack a bit more now with some body shots and front kicks but overall it’s almost a carbon copy of the first round with Silva getting more and more tired. 20-18 Krause.
Final round and Silva is attacking the knee of Krause with kicks. Krause told his corner between rounds that his knee is injured so maybe there’s an audible there. Krause’s movement is severely limited in this third round, but Silva continues to throw looping punches that miss wildly while Krause continues to try and counter Silva with a straight right or a right hook. Silva finally lands one of those left hooks but Krause eats it well and continues to land with his right hand as the round ends. 30-27 Krause for me.
Jimmy Crute def Modestas Bukauskas via Knockout, Round 1 (2:01)
Crute comes out and takes the centre of the cage immediately, standing his ground and looking to trade early. Bukauskas trying to be mobile and move around a lot to stay out of range and both fighters exchange leg kicks. Crute goes for a takedown and drives to the cage, but Bukauskas defends well. Crute takes the centre again and lands a huge overhand right to counter a body kick attempt from Bukauskas and drops him! He lands a big follow up shot followed by two more to the grounded Bukauskas and the referee stops the fight. Huge knockout win for Jimmy Crute.
Jessica Andrade def Katlyn Chookagian via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)
Really competitive opening round between these two ladies as Andrade looks to impose her physicality early on and close the distance quickly. Andrade comes across the cage and quickly and engages in a clinch and goes straight to the ground with a slam. Chookagian uses her guard well to defend and gets slammed down again but nothing doing and she ends up getting back to her feet. Chookagian trying to use her range and kicking game to get a rhythm going but Andrade keeps pushing forward and throwing hooks. A clinch takes place again and Chookagian throws an elbow but Andrade throws a nasty body shot that makes her opponent scream in pain and walk away. Andrade hunts her down with a flying kick and then lands another body shot that drops Chookagian again and the referee stops the fight. Huge win in her flyweight debut!
Brian Ortega def Korean Zombie via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
A methodical start to this fight as Ortega and Zombie both showing patience early on. Ortega happy to stand in boxing range and throws a very heavy leg kick that gets the attention of his opponent. Ortega lands a nice hook with Zombie coming forward as he looks to counter all of Ortega’s attacks. Zombie comes forward and throws a body kick but Ortega throws a big hook that drops him! Zombie recovers immediately and gets back to his feet as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Ortega.
Second round and Ortega looks to continue with the patient approach, while Zombie is a bit more aggressive this time around. Ortega throwing a nice jab but Zombie is throwing nice leg kicks that are bruising up the legs of ‘T-City’. Takedown attempt from Ortega but Zombie does well to defend it. Zombie rushes in for a combo but Ortega counters with a spinning elbow right on the chin that drops Zombie! Ortega rushes for a ground and pound finish but Zombie survives the onslaught. Ortega ends the round with a takedown and on top. 20-18 but that was Zombie’s round until the knockdown.
Ortega’s jab is the big difference here in the third round as he keeps the distance and continues to land shots. Zombie is trying to push the pace a bit more but he’s not throwing nearly enough to trouble Ortega at the moment. Another spinning elbow attempt from Ortega just misses but he lands a nice left hook and some more leg kicks to take another round. 30-27 Ortega.
Fourth round and this is an Ortega clinic right now. More aggressive by Zombie as he tries to back Ortega up against the cage but then he doesn’t throw anything and Ortega lets a leg kick fly to create some distance. Ortega goes for a single leg takedown and drives Zombie back against the cage then drops the leg and lands a short right hand to the side of the head that opens up a cut over Zombie’s eye. Ortega continues to pop his jab and throw leg kicks as the round comes to an end once again. Dominant from T-City, 40-36.
Final round and Korean Zombie needs the finish badly. Ortega continues to completely dominate the striking exchanges, using excellent footwork to move in and out of range and just popping off his jab. Ortega chipping away at Zombie as the cut gets worse and blood pours down the face of the Korean Zombie. He cruises into the final minute behind his jab and takes an absolutely perfect victory. 50-45 Ortega.
The two men will face off in a clash described as a No.1 contender fight by UFC president Dana White, with personal pride as well as a future title shot on the line.
In an 11 fight card that will also see Jessica Andrade move up to strawweight for the first time to take on Katlyn Chookagian, I will break down every fight and give my predictions.
Last week I correctly predicted 8/13 overall with five perfect picks (winner, method, round) although I was wronged by arguably the greatest knockout of all-time for one of them.
Said Nurmagomedov (13-2) vs Mark Striegl (18-2 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An interesting fight to open the card as the brother of UFC lightweight champion Khabib takes on a UFC debutant at bantamweight. Nurmagomedov is a very good striker who is super active with great takedown defence, while Striegl is a Sambo fighter with good wrestling credentials and a really solid submission game. Striegl is undefeated in his last five fights, winning four in a row before a a no contest last time out due to a low blow. Nurmagomedov however lost his last fight via decision to Raoni Barcelos. This fight depends entirely on whether or not Striegl can get it to the ground. Nurmagomedov leaves himself open for takedowns with his vast array of spinning attacks but his defence is very good. He hasn’t fought anyone with a takedown game as good as Striegl’s in the UFC though and has been beaten already after allowing a late takedown last time out. If he can keep it standing, I think he should be able to light Striegl up on the feet to earn himself a decision win. PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision
Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7) vs Maxim Grishin (30-8-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
After a great run between 2011 and July 2020, Maxim Grishin came into the UFC in the heavyweight division to take on Marcin Tybura on short notice and was handily beaten when he couldn’t cope with the sheer size of his opponent. He returns to his natural weight class of 205lbs when he takes on Gadzhimurad Antigulov who looks to snap a three fight losing streak. Antigulov won his first two UFC fights via submission, but was then knocked out in the first round by Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk before being tapped out in the first round by Paul Craig last time out. Grishin is a pretty well rounded fighter, with good grappling defence and much better striking than Antigulov who will simply look to drag this fight to the ground. If Grishin can avoid the initial burst of energy and takedown attempts from Antigulov then he will see him zap all his energy and he’ll become target practice before a stoppage win. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Knockout, Round 2
Jamie Mullarkey (12-3) vs Fares Ziam (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fight between two fairly young fighters looking to bounce back from a defeat last time out in this bout. Mullarkey made his debut in the organisation back in October 2019 at UFC 243, where he was outclassed by Brad Riddell on the night. Fares Ziam’s debut was on short notice back in September 2019 where he took on Don Madge at UFC 242 and was also just bettered by the better man on the night. Both men have all their wins bar one (11 for Mullarkey and 9 for Ziam) via stoppage so both are capable of finishing the fight but I believe Mullarkey has the edge. He’s a better striker and a more experienced grappler who has fought against better level opposition. For that reason, I expect he’ll be able to catch Ziam with a nice shot and then lay on the ground and pound for the win. PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 1
Jun Yong Park (11-4) vs John Phillips (22-10 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
This one seems a bit of a mismatch on paper, until you remember that John Phillips has got a stupid amount of knockouts on his record. The Welshman has a staggering 19 KO wins in his career, but that meant nothing in his last bout when he was handsomely destroyed by Khamzat Chimaev. Park himself is a decent boxer but has more than enough wrestling acumen to cause Phillips a lot of issues. He’s 1-1 in the UFC following a defeat to Anthony Hernandez before a win over Marc-Andre Barriault last time out. If Park is silly enough to go to war with Phillips and exchange punches in a phone booth then he’ll get knocked out. If anything else happens, then he should win this comfortably. My bet is he takes the fight down early like Chimaev did and works the Welshman over before sinking in a choke for the win. PICK – Jun Yong Park via Submission, Round 1
Gillian Robertson (8-4) vs Poliana Botelho (8-2) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
A strawweight bout between two prospects in the division as 25 year old Gillian Robertson looks to make it two wins on the bounce when she takes on Poliana Botelho. Her last fight was a submission win over Courtney Casey back in June. Robertson is a member of the American Top Team and has a fantastic wrestling game that opens up her superb jiu-jitsu. Botelho is a good boxer and has good power in her hands as her six knockout wins show, but she hasn’t fought in over 18 months. She has a very wide stance which could make the takedown hard for Robertson to get and she also has a height and reach advantage. The issue is she prefers for a big punch rather than to pop her jab and throw combinations, so I think Robertson should be able to slip the power shots and secure a takedown on an off-balance Botelho before putting her ground work in and securing a submission win. PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1
Mateusz Gamrot (17-0 1NC) vs Guram Kutateladze (11-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
After watching his teammate Khamzat Chimaev take the UFC by storm on Fight Island back in July, Guram Kutateladze steps in on a little over a week’s notice to take on undefeated Pole and former KSW featherweight and lightweight double champ Mateusz Gamrot. Gamrot is a very intelligent fighter who has power in his hands but tends to lean more on his wrestling and submission skills to finish fights, while Kutateladze is a Muay-Thai fighter with exceptional striking skills. The Georgian has the speed and power advantage on the feet but his grappling leaves plenty to be desired. Unless he has developed some new wrestling defence techniques, I expect Gamrot to take him down and control him against the fence for a comfortable decision win in his UFC debut. PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Unanimous Decision