Tag Archives: Sam Hughes

UFC Vegas 62: Grasso vs Araujo – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 62, headlined by two women’s flyweight contenders looking to stake their claim as the next challenger to the throne.

Alexa Grasso takes on Viviane Araujo in a five-round main event on a sneaky good card, which includes the likes of Cub Swanson, Raphael Assuncao, Nick Maximov and Joanderson Brito all competing.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 61 we went 6/11 with two perfect picks on a rather poor night to move to 737/1143 (64.48%) with 310 perfect picks (42.06%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and start with our early prelims picks.


Mike Jackson (1-1) vs Pete Rodriguez (4-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting bout to open the card. Jackson is 1-1 professionally, but that doesn’t include his dominant win over CM Punk that was overturned due to marijuana. His other win came over Dean Barry due to DQ after som eye gouges. Rodriguez on the other hand was on a four-fight win streak to earn a spot in the UFC, but he got flattened by Jack Della Maddalena at UFC 270 in his last bout back in January.

Jackson is your average guy who trains MMA, but somehow people claim that he’s a professional fighter when in reality he’s a photographer and member of the press. Rodriguez on the other hand is a terrifying prospect with insane punching power and good technique, but he must temper his aggression as he’s never gone past the ten minute mark and could gas out.

The reality of this situation though is that it’s a set up fight for Rodriguez to get going in the UFC. He’s a legit punching threat and will step forward to dominate, before landing a killer blow early in the first round to make a statement.
PICK – Pete Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1

Tatsuro Taira (11-0) vs CJ Vergara (10-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A real scrap up next in the flyweight division. Taira is an undefeated fighter who earned a UFC debut win over Carlos Candelario back in May, while Vergara lost his UFC debut to Ode Osbourne at UFC 268 after a win on the Contender Series just to months earlier. He claimed a split decision win last time out, defeating Kleydson Rodrigues at UFC 274.

Taira is a grappling wizard who has earned five of his eight finishes in his career via submission, but he does have a tendency to forego those skills and instead stand and strike because of his evolving skillset. That gives Vergara a route to victory, because the 31 year old is a veteran striker who uses his aggression to catch the eyes of the judges. He has won six of his ten victories via knockout.

If Taira chooses to stick to what he’s best at and grapple then he should dominate this fight. He’s by far the better wrestler and submission artist, so using Vergara’s aggression against him will be helpful. If he chooses to stand and bang though, Vergara could potentially swing it in his favour. It’s unlikely he lets the fight get away from him though with his superior grappling, and eventually he takes the fight down to control and maybe even find the neck later on.
PICK – Tatsuro Taira via Decision



Piera Rodriguez (8-0) vs Sam Hughes (7-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Fun women’s fight up next in the strawweight division here. Rodriguez earned her way into the UFC with a win on the Contender Series, before defeating Kay Hansen via decision at UFC 273 in her debut. Hughes lost her first three fights in the organisation but has since fought back to win two in a row, defeating Istela Nunes back in April before KO’ing Elise Reed a month later in her last outing.

“La Fiera” is a powerful striker who likes to stay at range and use her long jab and fast cross to put her opponents on the back foot, but she showed against Hansen that off her back she struggles. That’s perfect for Hughes, whose winning run has coincided with her abandoning strikes and reverting to her reliable wrestling base more often.

On the feet Rodriguez is capable of hurting Hughes, but “Sampage” hunted down Reed last time out and mauled her on the mat. The likelihood here is that she does similar, so expect her to grind her way to a dominant decision win if she nullifies the initial early blitz from the Venezuelan.
PICK – Sam Hughes via Decision

UFC Vegas 55: Holm vs Vieira – Early prelims predictions

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

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

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

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


Elise Reed (5-1) vs Sam Hughes (6-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The smallest women on the card open the event. Reed bounced back from a debut defeat to Sijara Eubanks last year with a split decision win over Cory McKenna at UFC London back in March in her last outing. Hughes on the other hand snapped a three-fight losing streak by picking up a big majority decision over Istela Nunes just last month at UFC Vegas 51.

Reed is a decent striker who uses her reach and length well, while having great footwork and being able to use a variety of strikes. Hughes is a fighter who uses her cardio as a weapon and looks to wrestle her opponents to the mat before fishing for submissions. She got a win last time out over Nunes by wearing on her and bringing the cardio issues to the fore, but that’s not something she can do with Reed.

If Reed is able to move as well as usual and keep the fight standing for the first few minutes at least, she should be able to pick her off with her striking to claim a decision. If Hughes can get the takedown though, then it’s a whole new problem. With that said, I expect the former to take place, so I’m picking Reed.
PICK – Elise Reed via Decision

Chase Hooper (10-2-1) vs Felipe Colares (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight scrap up next. Hooper started well in the UFC but going 1-2 in his first three, with a heel hook submission win over Peter Barrett at UFC 256 for a comeback win. But last time out at UFC 263 against Steven Peterson saw him take some time away from the cage. Colares on the other hand has alternated losses and wins since joining the UFC, with a split decision loss against Chris Gutierrez last time out.

Hooper is a submission beast with nasty jiu-jitsu on the ground, but his wrestling is pretty poor and he often struggles to get the fight there. His striking is bang average too, proving just how good his submissions are considering his record. Colares on the other hand though is a very aggressive striker who likes to swing for the fences and take heads off, but his ground game is pretty solid too and he’ll be confident of holding his own.

This is a fight with all the signs of a mauling. Colares will march forward looking for big strikes and his ground game should be good enough to hold Hooper off. With that said, Hooper will go until the bell sounds and if he makes any mistakes, ‘The Dream’ will be ready to take advantage.
PICK – Felipe Colares via Decision



Jonathan Martinez (15-4) vs Vince Morales (11-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An absolute banger in the bantamweight division up next between two guys who love to bang. Martinez has won each of his last two fights via decision, defeating Zviad Lazishvili and Alejandro Perez, while Morales claimed a decision win over Drako Rodriguez at UFC 265 before knocking out Louis Smolka last time out at UFC Vegas 44 in the first round.

Martinez is a boxer, with traditional stance helping his fast hands to fly, but he also has developed his kicking game excellently since joining the UFC and that could have a big say on this fight. That’s because while Morales has great power in his hands, he is very prone to kicks to leg as shown by Gutierrez and Martinez has all the skills to be able to replicate that.

There is always a chance that Morales simply smashes Martinez with his weighty right hand and puts his lights out, but more likely in my eyes is that Martinez stays at distance and lands enough damage to secure a relatively comfortable decision win.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Decision

UFC Vegas 51: Luque v Muhammad – Early prelims predictions

A huge welterweight main event is the main attraction at UFC Vegas 51 this weekend as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad in a rematch from 2016.

The two top six 170-pounders will go head-to-head looking to extend their winning streaks here, knowing that title contention won’t be far behind.

Last week at UFC 273 we saw a great card that was lacking a little bit on finishes, but we still managed to go 8/12 with four perfect picks to go to 593/915 (64.81%) with 252 perfect picks (42.5%).

You can view our complete pick history here.

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


Alateng Heili (14-8-2) vs Kevin Croom (21-14) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight bout kicks off this card. Heili is winless in his last two, losing to Casey Kenney before a draw last time out against Gustavo Lopez, while Croom has lost his last two dropping decisions to Alex Caceres at UFC Vegas 20 and then Brian Kelleher most recently at UFC Vegas 46.

Heili has got a solid right hand but it’s his grappling skills that see him have the edge here, against the dogged Croom who uses his cardio as a weapon to pressurise his opponents as much as possible. Heili though does have a big issue when it comes to urgency and output, and against Croom’s pressure that could see him fold.

He does have the skills to earn a win in this one though, because Croom was outwrestled by Kelleher quite comfortably in January. Croom does have decent submission skills and we know he can push for 15 minutes, but I’d expect Heili to earn a pretty close decision win.
PICK – Alanteng Heili via Decision

Istela Nunes (7-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Women’s strawweights stand up, as two women at very different ends of their UFC careers go head-to-head. Nunes was stopped in her UFC debut by Ariane Carnelossi back in October, but Hughes has gone 0-3 in the organisation so far. She was stopped by Tecia Torres at UFC 256, before dropping decisions to Loma Lookboonmee at UFC Vegas 25 and Luana Pinheiro most recently.

Nunes is a solid striker on the feet, with some decent takedown defence which she showed early on in her last fight before running out of gas following three years without a fight. Hughes is a wrestler, whose striking has been pretty abysmal and she’s shown that without the takedown available she’s pretty easy to beat.

Hughes will take some joy from the fact Nunes got taken down six times in her debut, but Hughes isn’t as aggressive as Carnelossi and Nunes has been in the cage more recently so should have been able to work on her cardio and crisp striking. Ultimately, this goes in a similar way to Hughes’ other UFC bouts and Nunes earns the decision win.
PICK – Istela Nunes via Decision



Jordan Leavitt (9-1) vs Trey Ogden (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An intriguing lightweight fight up next. Leavitt won his UFC debut with a 22-second slam at UFC Vegas 16 but then was beaten for the first time when Claudio Puelles got the better of him on the judge’s scorecards. He bounced back with a submission win over Matt Sayles at UFC Vegas 45 last time out. Ogden makes his UFC debut on a three-fight win streak, with all three coming via submission.

Leavitt is an excellent wrestler with some amazing submission skills, including an inverted triangle win in his last bout. His striking is unorthodox and is usually to set up his takedowns more than to do any actual damage, while Ogden is also a stud wrestler but his striking has shown vast improvements in his recent bouts. His wrestling looks better than Leavitt’s, which means he should be able to dictate where this fight takes place.

Ogden has some solid leg kicks and so long as he isn’t careless when scoring takedowns to allow Leavitt to bring his submission game into play, he should claim a debut win here. He has the power, the speed and the wrestling advantages so he should edge out a decision.
PICK – Trey Ogden via Decision

Chris Barnett (22-7) vs Martin Buday (9-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The UFC needed heavyweights, so there’s a debut on the card for ‘Badys’. Barnett was beaten in his UFC debut by Ben Rothwell, but bounced back with an incredible spinning wheel kick KO of Gian Villante at UFC 268 last time out. Buday on the other hand has won his last eight fights, with his only career defeat coming against current UFC star Juan Espino.

Barnett is a wild striker, who throws incredible spinning attacks and has great power in his hands, while his athleticism is surprising considering his size and physique. Buday is a grinder with good clinch work and solid power in his hands, while his aggressive approach and pressure looks to be the perfect counter for Barnett’s style.

Buday will walk forward to smother Barnett’s explosive power and unless he gets clipped on his way in, he should be able to put Barnett against the cage and work his grinding style to claim yet another win by knockout.
PICK – Martin Buday via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira vs Tate – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for a women’s bantamweight main event bout between Ketlen Vieira and former champion Miesha Tate.

Tate will be looking to keep the UFC’s dreams of a potential rematch with Amanda Nunes alive with a win in the main event, while Vieira is hopeful of killing off her comeback plans.

In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa will be looking to fight off gatekeeper claims in the welterweight division when he takes on the undefeated prospect Sean Brady.

Last week at UFC Vegas 42 we had a poor showing with our picks, earning jut 5/11 correct with three perfect picks to move to 476/741 (64.24%) with 200 perfect picks (42.02%) since June 2020.

We’ll look to improve on that this week with this 12 fight card, starting with the early prelims here.



Luana Pinheiro (9-1) vs Sam Hughes (5-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun strawweight bout to open the card this week at the Apex. Pinheiro returns to the octagon on a seven-fight win streak, with a win via disqualification against Randa Markos last time out after she was hit with an illegal upkick at UFC Vegas 25. Sam Hughes on the other hand has lost both of her UFC bouts to date, with doctors stopping her debut defeat to Tecia Torres at UFC 256 before a decision loss to Loma Lookboonmee.

Pinheiro is a solid grappler with great submission skills and pretty average striking, using her jiu-jitsu black belt to earn seven submission wins in her career. Hughes on the other hand is a fairly decent striker, looking to use pressure to get on the inside and grind her way to victories. The issue for Hughes in this one is that she’s just not at the UFC level yet.

Hughes got taken down regularly by Lookboonmee, who is an undersized striker, so a judo specialist like Pinheiro should find it relatively easy to take this fight to the ground where she’ll have a huge edge and likely be able to use her jiu-jitsu to earn yet another submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 1

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (19-7) vs Sean Soriano (14-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting featherweight bout between two unranked guys up next. Nuerdanbieke was beaten in his UFC debut by Josh Culibao back in May and will look to bounce back here, while Soriano suffered a submission loss in his own debut at UFC 262 to Christos Giagos.

Nuerdanbieke is an incredibly wrestle-heavy fighter with his plan A, B and C always to take his opponent to the mat and grind out victories or pound his way to a TKO victory. Soriano is a solid striker on the feet who is notorious for having problems with his grappling, succumbing to submissions five times in his professional career. The difference this time though, is that Nuerdanbieke is as predictable as they come.

Soriano has a huge edge on the feet and in his most recent fight with Giagos he did show some improved takedown defence. If he is able to stuff the takedowns that he should know are coming, then the fight is his to lose on the feet. Because of that, I think he could be able to secure a big knee or a nice counter-strike to drop Nuerdanbieke and earn a victory.
PICK – Sean Soriano via Knockout, Round 2

Cody Durden (11-3-1) vs Aoriqileng (18-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun flyweight bout in the UFC up next. Durden is winless in his two UFC outings, earning a draw against Chris Gutierrez back at UFC Vegas 5 before being tapped out by Jimmy Flick at UFC Vegas 17. Aoriqileng came to the UFC with a big reputation, but suffered a decision defeat to Jeff Molina at UFC 261.

Durden is an excellent fighter, with brilliant wrestling skills and some great ground and pound to go with his submission skills. Aoriqileng on the other hand is a relentless pressure fighter, with great striking and brilliant cardio to go with it. For Durden however, this fight is right up his wheel house.

He is a powerful striker on the feet, has good footwork to evade pressure and brilliant wrestling to get the fight down to the mat. Once he gets it there, he’s a demon with a great nose for a finish and Aoriqileng is likely to find himself in a lot of trouble. Durden’s nasty low kicks set up an eventual takedown and then he pummels Aoriqileng for a ground and pound schooling.
PICK – Cody Durden via Decision

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Felipe Colares def Luke Sanders via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Colares opens up with a big body kick that Sanders half catches and slams home a nice flurry of strikes to counter it. Colares continues to throw those huge kicks but Sanders avoiding damage for the most part and then charges in with a flurry and lands a big left hand that drops Colares! Sanders goes for the finish and lands some huge elbows in the clinch and a big knee that puts Colares down again! Big ground and pound from Sanders but Colares still moving and trying to survive. They eventually get back to the feet and Sanders steps back to separate, then starts throwing that heavy left hand once again. Sanders is landing clean right straights with left uppercuts and Colares is hurt, but he’s surviving again. Sanders now slowing down a bit and Colares coming forward and throws a big right hand that wobbles Sanders! Both men exchange body kicks as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Sanders.

Great start to the round as Sanders comes forward with big left hands once again and lands them well. Both men much slower in this round but Sanders still landing with good power, then he changes levels and gets himself a takedown. Colares defends well on the ground and eventually they get back to the feet. Sanders much, much slower now and Colares starting to pressure more and lands a nice body kick again. Colares is able to get Sanders against the cage and locks his hands and picks Sanders up. He walks him across the cage and slams him down, then takes his back and flattens him out. Colares starts pounding away looking for a finish and the referee is looking at stopping it, but Sanders just about survives as the round ends. 19-19.

Final round and both guys are exhausted already, but Sanders is keeping some distance and landing his heavy hands well. Colares coming forward working the body well with kicks, but Sanders is controlling the pace and landing more cleanly. Colares throws another kick but Sanders catches it and tries to take him down with a trip, but Colares gets back up quickly. Both men are basically out on their feet and Colares gets a judo throw to end up on top of Sanders with 30 seconds left. He looks for ground and pound but Sanders gets back up and they see the round out. Great fight, 29-28 Sanders for me.

Andreas Michailidis def KB Bhullar via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Tentative start from both fighters as Bhullar flicks out a few kicks while circling on the outside, as Michailidis looks to step forward and get inside. Nice little flurry of punches lands from Michailidis but Bhullar moving away and avoiding getting hit flush with the strikes before the clinch up against the cage to a stalemate. Bhullar starting to throw those kicks again to the head and body, then Michailidis throws a wild head kick that lands and follows up with another flurry of hooks. Michailidis changes levels and gets the takedown and starts controlling on the ground in the final minute, taking the back and floating threatening with a choke but Bhullar sees out the round. 10-9 Michailidis.

Good start again from Michailidis as he comes forward and throws those flurries once again, then Bhullar lands an accidental low blow to pause the action. Fight resumes and Michailidis comes forward again, with Bhullar trying to use his kicks to keep range but not really doing any sort of damage or making Michailidis think about coming forward. Huge one two lands from Michailidis but Bhullar eats it, but he’s not throwing with any sort of intent at all. Little low kicks from Bhullar and then he misses with a big spin kick as Michailidis continues to march him down. Big swing and a miss once against from Michailidis as the round ends. 20-18.

Slow start to the final round as Michailidis is recharging for a flurry, while Bhullar is just prodding small kicks with zero intent or aggression. Michailidis starting to try and egg Bhullar on with taunts but not much really landing from either fighter. A few more flurrys from Michailidis that don’t really land too clean while Bhullar is throwing nothing back to make him think about it. Another low blow from Bhullar causes a pause in the fight as we enter the final minute but it’s Michailidis who is showing more intent to get a finish. 30-27 Michailidis in a less than memorable fight.

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee def Sam Hughes via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start to the fight for Lookboonmee as she lands a few kicks from range and a couple of nice right hands. Hughes looks to close the distance to look for a takedown but Lookboonmee defends it well and unleashes some huge knees in the clinch before tripping her and dumping her to the mat. Lookboonmee works top position well and lands some big elbows on the ground before getting back up and allowing Hughes back to her feet. Hughes goes for the takedown again but Lookboonmee defends it really well again and is able to reverse the position and take her down again, landing some more elbows on the ground before letting Hughes up again. Hughes lands a nice low kick and follows it up with a good right hand as Lookboonmee looks to counter but just misses. Hughes closes the distance and goes for a takedown again but Lookboonmee defends well against the cage and sees the round out in top position as she falls onto Hughes.. 10-9 Lookboonmee.

Hughes comes out aggressive in the second round and goes straight for a takedown, but Lookboonmee defends well and goes for a couple of trips of her own. Hughes relentless though and finally gets her down as Lookboonmee looks to defend with a guillotine. Hughes defends and gets a body lock to try and drain her against the cage, but Lookboonmee finally gets back up, breaks the lock and separates. Hughes lands a couple of nice right hands clean but Lookboonmee comes forward with kicks again. They clinch up again and battle for position with Lookboonmee landing some big knees to the body while angling away from Hughes. Hughes goes for a single leg takedown but Lookboonmee defends it really well and then lands a big knee again. Hughes switching from single leg to double leg constantly but Lookboonmee defending brilliantly and keeps the fight standing, then ends the round on top as they clinch at the end and she falls on Hughes once again. 20-18 for me.

Tentative start to the final round as Hughes looks to keep it standing early on, landing some nice early strikes that are making Lookboonmee a bit uncomfortable. She goes for a Thai clinch but Hughes defends it well and pushes her against the cage looking for a takedown once again. Lookboonmee defends it well once again with more knees and then they separate, as both women exchange a big right hand each. The women clinch up again against the cage and exchange knees before the separate and Hughes lands a big right hand. Lookboonmee fires back with some push kicks to the body as we enter the final minute of the fight. Hughes clinches up again and the fight comes to an end with the two women against the cage. 29-28 Lookboonmee for me.

Luana Carolina def Poliana Botelho via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

Interesting start to the fight as Botelho comes out a bit more aggressive, throwing some nice body kicks and leg kicks while also leading with her jab. Carolina struggling to get anything going just yet, trying to reply to kicks and a jab of her own but looking very nervous and backing up. Botelho steps forward with a four-hit combo that doesn’t land clean but then she clinches up and gets a takedown into Carolina’s guard. Botelho using great shoulder pressure to control Carolina’s posture on the ground and working to pass into mount which she does after a few big strikes to the head. 30 seconds left in the round and she looks to transition to an armbar but Carolina survives and the round ends. 10-9, could even argue a 10-8 for Botelho.

Better start to this round from Carolina as she comes out more aggressive and goes straight for a clinch after a head kick attempt. She uses strength to hold Botelho in position and starts throwing some nice knees to the body that sees Botelho looking a bit uncomfortable. Botelho looks to switch position and goes for a trip but Carolina defends it excellently and ends up in a dominant position of her own on the ground. She goes for a submission but Botelho gets back to the feet well and the rest of the round plays out against the cage in a clinch position with both women exchanging knees to the body. 19-19.

Slower third round as both women look to exchange body shots and kicks but Carolina being a bit more aggressive so far. Nice flurry from Botelho but Carolina replies with a kick and Botelho goes for a takedown. A scramble on the ground sees Carolina end up on top in the closed guard of Botelho and after a bit of a stalemate she works her way to Botelho’s back. Carolina starts working for a rear-naked choke but Botelho defending well against the cage and both women trade shots on the ground as the round comes to an end. Carolina’s round, 29-28 Carolina for me but could be a draw if the first round was a 10-8.

TJ Brown def Kai Kamaka III via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 27-30)

Fun start early on as Brown comes forward and lands good jobs and front kicks before Kamaka responds with a flush right hand to the chin. Brown keeps coming though, moving a lot and looking to mix it up but Kamaka is investing in his calf kicks well. Both men throw body kicks at the same time before Brown lands a good one-two in response that sends Kamaka backwards. Kamaka lands a punch as Brown goes for a kick and knocks him off balance, but Brown very active off his back to not allow any sort of advantage to be gained before he works back up to his feet quickly. Kamaka fires off another nice low kick but Brown is still coming forward and after a few more exchanges the round ends. Could go either way but I edge 10-9 to Brown.

Much faster start to this round as Kamaka lands a nice shot that sends Brown backwards early. Brown just flowing with the strikes but Kamaka landing some nice combinations and throws a huge head kick that lands flush! Brown keeps coming forward and lands a big right hand that rocks Kamaka! He starts looking for the finish but Kamaka is still there and then Kamaka lands a huge strike that drops Brown! Kamaka goes for the ground and pound finish but Brown surviving and then he gets a kimura synched up! Kamaka survives it but they get back to the feet and the round ends with Brown on top after a successful shot. 19-19 for me, great fight.

Final round and both men come out with a sense of urgency. Brown shoots in for a takedown early but Kamaka stuffs it and manages to reverse it to get into top position. Kamaka trying to push Brown against the cage to control the position but Brown fighting to get back up to the feet and eventually does. Nice combinations from Brown land and Kamaka blocks a body kick before he pushes him down to the mat once again and looks to move into full mount, but Brown denies it. Brown eventually gets back to the feet again and throws a big right hand that drops Kamaka. He goes for an ankle lock finish but gives up position, then goes for a kimura again but the round ends. 29-28 Kamaka, great fight.

Luana Pinheiro def Randa Markos via Disqualification (Illegal kick), Round 1 (4:16)

Brilliant start to this fight from Pinheiro as Markos rushes forward with a flurry of strikes but gets caught with a huge right hook counter. Markos goes to clinch but Pinheiro dumps her on her head with a beautiful judo throw and then starts raining down some heavy ground and pound. She manages to judo throw Markos several times and strike hard and Markos looks rattled. Accidental eye poke causes a stop in the fight as Markos needs to recover and blinks out the issue. Fight resumes and Markos comes out with heavy and hard but Pinheiro countering brilliantly again and then throws Markos down on her head yet again. They separate before another clinch and Pinheiro goes for another judo throw and ends up on top again! Markos tries to kick Pinheiro off and upkicks her in the face while she’s down. Pinheiro flops to the floor and is struggling and the doctor waves this one off. Disqualification incoming.

MAIN CARD

Merab Dvalishvili def Cody Stamann via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Great start to this fight between two predominant wrestlers, with Stamann taking the centre but Merab doing well to move on the outside and lands a beautiful left uppercut. A few more strikes from Merab before he catches a kick and takes the fight to the ground for the first time. Stamann eats a few punches but gets back up, then goes for a few takedowns of his own but they get stuffed. Merab is landing some great right hands, but Stamann sticks a stiff jab that wobbles Merab. Merab goes for a single leg and gets it but Stamann pops right back up every time as the round ends in a stalemate. 10-9 Merab but could argue it went Stamann’s way too.

Fast start for Stamann to round two as he comes out with a deep double leg takedown early and gets it against the cage. Merab relentless from the bottom though with elbows and punches before working his way back up and rushing Stamann to get a takedown of his own. Merab holds him down for a few seconds before they stand back up and Stamann goes back to work with his jab. Merab changes levels and gets another takedown and looks to sink in a guillotine, but Stamann pops his head out and they work back to the feet again. Merab’s pace starting to wear on Stamann a bit as he keeps marching forward, landing combinations and shooting for takedowns as he lifts Stamann this time and slams him down. Stamann trying to keep Merab with his back to the cage but Merab steps forward, clinches and judo throws Stamann to the mat but a scramble sees him end the round under him. 20-18 Merab.

Competitive opening to the final round as Stamann takes the centre again looking to land jabs to set up a haymaker, but Merab staying light on his feet and moving in and out with strikes. Stamann looks for a big right hand that misses wildly and Merab continues to push forward and land little flurries, always touching Stamann. Merab shoots for a single leg but Stamann reverses the attempt and ends up on top with a little more than a minute to go. Merab battles up to his feet and goes for a takedown of his own but Stamann scrambles as they end up in a stalemate on the ground. They get back and swing for the final few seconds but should be a win for Merab, 30-27.

Sean Strickland def Krzysztof Jotko via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Nice left hand from Jotko to open up the fight as Strickland takes the centre and looks incredibly calm as he steps forward. Jotko more lively, bouncing on his toes and throwing a couple of kicks too, then lands another nice left hand. Strickland coming forward again with intent now and lands a stiff jab down the middle, then a right cross that wobbles Jotko. Strickland lands a nice left hand and uppercut and Jotko is hurt, so Strickland goes in for the kill and Jotko shoots for a takedown. Strickland denies it but Jotko moving his head well and recovers without taking more damage. Jotko lands a reverse elbow Yair style right on the chin but Strickland eats it and continues to come forward. Strickland throws a flying knee that just misses but lands a nice right hand before he lands and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Strickland.

Strickland comes out very controlled in the second round and he starts landing the jab well. Jotko still circling on the outside and Strickland is starting to cut him off now as per the advice of his corner, but eats a big left hand as he does so. Strickland with a stiff jab again and then a nice body kick. Jotko goes for a spin kick and misses but it allows Strickland to move and launch a big power strike that whistles past the chin of Jotko. Jotko slowing down now as Strickland marches him down, then eats another stiff jab. Strickland catches a kick and goes for a big right overhand but Jotko avoids it and fires back with one of his own. Strickland’s calf kicks starting to have an effect as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Strickland.

Jotko becoming very predictable looking for the big left hand as Strickland just in cruise control in this fight at the moment. Flying knee attempt from Strickland misses and Jotko goes for a big right hand that doesn’t come anywhere near landing. Stiff straight right hand from Strickland lands but Jotko trying to come forward more now as we hit the halfway point of the round. Strickland takes back control of the centre now, landing a big front kick to the body and then another low kick. Strickland goes for a body kick and then follows up with a big right hand before a flying knee lands too. Bit of a wild exchange as the fight comes to an end, but it’s a comfortable 30-27 for Strickland here.

Ion Cutelaba vs Dustin Jacoby – Split Draw – (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)

Nice start to the fight from Jacoby as he uses his length well to land some nice jabs and two heavy leg kicks too. Cutelaba sticks a jab and misses with a hammer of a right hand, before landing two big right hands and shooting for a takedown. Cutelaba locks his arms around the body and starts dragging Jacoby to the ground over and over again while landing some big ground and pound strikes too. Cutelaba starts landing some huge short ebows to the head and Jacoby is getting pieced up and just about surviving as Cutelaba drags him down again and continues pounding him out. Cutelaba goes for a judo throw but Jacoby grabs the cage to prevent it and the referee warns him but does nothing else as the round ends. 10-8 Cutelaba.

Jacoby opens the round with a body kick attempt and immediately gets taken down by Cutelaba. He lands a nice knee and right hand as they break, but Jacoby comes forward with his jab now. Cutelaba goes for another takedown but Jacoby stuffs it this time and Cutelaba is slowing down already. Another attempt denied by Jacoby as he lands a nice uppercut, but Cutelaba keeps going despite him clearly being tired now. Jacoby doing so well to land at range and Cutelaba isn’t even shooting anymore. Jacoby lands a big right hand and Cutelaba is rocked! Cutelaba shoots but it’s denied and the round ends. 19-18 Cutelaba going into the third.

Good start again from Jacoby in this final round as he opens with a leg kick and then lands a heavy body kick. Cutelaba standing and trading in the centre, nice jabs and uppercuts while Jacoby trying to evade and counter. Nice left hook from Jacoby as Cutelaba threw a jab and then Jacoby lands a huge right hand again. Cutelaba is still there throwing bombs though, but Jacoby staying behind his jab and landing. Cutelaba goes for a huge elbow that just misses and both men land a nice left hook, before a double jab-cross combo from Cutelaba lands on the chin. Jacoby goes for a knee and Cutelaba catches it and goes for the takedown but Jacoby defends well and reverses the position to put Cutelaba against the cage. Final minute and Jacoby goes for a single leg but Cutelaba avoids it then throws a nice right hook as they clinch up again. Jacoby gets a takedown right at the end to finish up on top, this could be a draw. 28-28.

Giga Chikadze def Cub Swanson via Knockout, Round 1 (1:03)

Chikadze opens up early with some kicks to the body and a straight right, while Swanson tries to jump in and close the distance. Chikadze throws his trademark left kick to the body and Swanson is down! Chikadze hits some ground and pound as Swanson curls up and this one is over! First round knockout for Chikadze! Wow!

Jiri Prochazka def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)

Both men looking to claim the centre of the octagon as this one starts with a heavy low kick from Reyes and a body kick from Prochazka. Prochazka keeping his hands low and bouncing around as usual, with Reyes more traditional with his hands high looking for his straight left hand. Prochazka just misses with a three hit combination and Reyes lands a nice left hand down the middle. Prochazka responds with a big right hand of his own that wobbles Reyes and sends him backwards. Reyes shoots in for a takedown and gets it, but Prochazka is able to just power out and get back to his feet. Prochazka continues to just come forward and Reyes is landing straight punches but he’s just walking through them. Big combination lands from Prochazka and Reyes is hurt! Prochazka going for the kill but Reyes continues to circle and fire back. Prochazka lands a flurry of strikes again but Reyes sees out the round. 10-9 Prochazka.

Second round and Reyes taking a more measured approach, keeping his distance and looking to land counter strikes as Prochazka comes forward. Prochazka applying so much pressure and Reyes is just not wilting, firing back with huge strikes of his own. Prochazka chasing Reyes around the octagon with combinations and kicks to the body and Reyes’ face is absolutely battered and bloody. Reyes lands a nasty left that wobbles Prochazka and forces him to shoot for a takedown. The stand again and trade against the cage. Prochazka goes for an elbow and just misses, then spins and lands a huge spinning elbow that knocks Reyes unconscious! Oh my God! What a knockout!

UFC Vegas 25: Reyes vs Prochazka – Prelims predictions

The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.

After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.

Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with the prelims of this 12 fight card.


EARLY PRELIMS

Luke Sanders (13-4) vs Felipe Colares (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting fight in the featherweight division as both men look to get back into the winning column after defeats last time out. Sanders was submitted by Nate Manness at UFC Vegas 15 last time out, while Colares was on the wrong end of a war against Montel Jackson and suffered a decision loss in January 2020.

Sanders is an okay grappler with good jiu-jitsu skills, but in recent fights has looked to use his power punching more. He rocked Manness in their fight before eventually getting rocked himself, while Colares is a striker himself with good durability and speed. Neither man are any good fighting on their back foot and defensively they both have gaping holes in their game, with Sanders’ defensive wrestling in particular woeful.

It’s a fight in the perfect spot on the card as they’re two of the not-so-good fighters performing on the night, but I trust Sanders’ power to come through and get a stoppage as they both go for it on the feet.
PICK – Luke Sanders via Knockout, Round 2

Andreas Michailidis (12-4) vs KB Bhullar (8-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight bout between two impressive newcomers who lost their UFC debuts in 2020. Michailidis had a strong first round against Modesta Bukauskas back at Fight Island 2, but some elbows to the side of the head saw him unable to make his corner when the buzzer went and the referee waved it off. Bhullar made a short-notice debut against Tom Breese at UFC Fight Island 5, getting knocked out in the first round.

Michailidis is a decent wrestler who throws great kicks and has good powerful hands too, while Bhullar tends to throw fancy kicks but doesn’t really land and can sometimes blow his load too early. Bhullar tends to keep his hands quite low because of the way he throws kicks, but Michailidis just seems to be the better martial artist.

Good grappling skills, great kicking game and good cardio, Michailidis should be able to start fast and put it on Bhullar enough for an early win.
PICK – Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 1

PRELIMS

Loma Lookboonmee (5-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

One of the best muay-thai fighters in the strawweight division, Lona Lookboonmee makes her return to the UFC to make it back-to-back wins for the first time in her octagon career against Sam Hughes. Lookboonmee bounced back from a defeat against Angela Hill with a comfortable win over Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 9. Hughes’ debut was on short-notice against Tecia Torres and her corner stopped the fight after round 1 after an eye injury at UFC 256.

Lookboonmee is a tremendous striker with great kicks and clinch work, with her grappling defence improving with every fight. Hughes is a classic wrestler style fighter who works for submissions once she gets the fight down to the ground. Hughes has a decent size advantage physically, but she is more than hittable on her feet and that’s dangerous against Lookboonmee.

Ideally both women want to be marching forward and forcing their opponent backwards, and I think Lookboonmee is able to use her kicks better to keep distance and earn a decision win.
PICK – Lona Lookboonmee via Decision

Poliana Botelho (8-3) vs Luana Carolina (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight bout to open up the main card as both women look to bounce back from defeat to get back in the win column in the UFC. Botelho was well beaten by Gillian Robertson at Fight Island 6 in a unanimous decision, while Carolina returned from a spine injury to get knee-barred by Ariane Lipski at UFC Fight Island 2 last summer.

Both women are preferential strikers with decent ground game to back themselves up, but you’d expect the fight to go the way of a kickboxing match. Both women have better offensive takedowns than defensive and if they find themselves getting pieced up on the feet, they may shoot. If that happens, Botelho seems like the more physical of the two and I’d back her to be able to keep Carolina down.

It’s a close fight but I think Botelho has slightly more paths to victory and therefore she gets the nod.
PICK – Poliana Botelho via Decision

Kai Kamaka III (8-3) vs TJ Brown (14-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight bout again on this card as Kai Kamaka III looks to bounce back from defeat when he takes on TJ Brown, who has lost his last two in a row. Kamaka defeated Tony Kelley at UFC 252 in his UFC debut but was knocked out against Jonathan Pearce at UFC Vegas 15. Brown is yet to win in the UFC, being submitted by Jordan Griffin in February 2020 before a decision defeat against Dany Chavez at UFC 252 too.

Kamaka is a great striker who looks like he hits with a lot of power, but he has just one knockout win in his career so far with the rest coming via decision. Brown is a good wrestler with great scrambles and decent power of his own, but he also has some very good cardio too. Kamaka’s cardio has been a huge issue in his career and if Brown can push the pace you could see Kamaka wilt as the fight goes on.

Brown is at a disadvantage on the feet but only just, while the gap in cardio and wrestling is much bigger, so I think the underdog takes the win here.
PICK – TJ Brown via Decision

Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Jonathan Pearce (10-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

One of the best kickers in the sport looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on ‘JSP’ in the featherweight division. Benitez had lost two in a row before stopping Justin Jaynes via a knee to the body and strikes at UFC Vegas 16, while Pearce beat Kai Kamaka at UFC Vegas 15 in his last fight.

Benitez is a remarkably powerful kicker, using distance well and throwing them in combination with his punches too. Pearce is a good wrestler with good power in his hands as eight knockouts from his ten career victories show. Benitez will undoubtedly look to stay at range and use his leg kicks and body kicks to stop Pearce from trying to close the distance to use his wrestling to get this fight to the ground.

Benitez is very good at getting back up to his feet when he does get taken down and with Pearce’s lead leg an obvious target, I think he should be able to earn a competitive decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision

Randa Markos (10-10-1) vs Luana Pinheiro (8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The featured prelim bout is a strawweight fight between UFC debutant Luana Pinheiro as she takes on the veteran Randa Markos. Markos has lost four of her last five and each of her last five, getting tapped out by Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 11 before dropping a decision to Kanako Murata at UFC Vegas 14. Pinheiro has won six-in-a-row with six finishes, including four submissions and two knockouts.

Markos is a wrestler who likes to lay in top position and look for openings either through strikes or submissions, but is entering the twilight of her career now. Pinheiro though is a beast of a prospect. She is a black belt in judo and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and is so aggressive when looking for a finish in her fights. Markos isn’t a bad fighter, lets be clear, all her recent defeats have been against top fighters, but Pinheiro is better right now.

Despite a slight disadvantage in size, I think Pinheiro can use her massively improved striking to hurt Markos before eventually grabbing hold of her neck and earning a huge submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 2