Tag Archives: Sean Brady

UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns with arguably the most stacked card of the year at UFC 280 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The lightweight title will be on the line in the main event as Charles Oliveira puts his 11-fight win streak on the line against the man on a ten-fight win streak, Islam Makhachev.

In the co-main event we’ll see the bantamweight title on the line when Aljamain Sterling defends for the second time, taking on former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw in a five-round bout.

We’ll also see Petr Yan take on Sean O’Malley, Beneil Dariush fight Mateusz Gamrot, Belal Muhammad scrap with Sean Brady and many, many more top bouts.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 62 we went 8/11 with three perfect picks to move to 741/1154 (64.56%) with 313 perfect picks (42.01%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Zubaira Tukhugov (20-5-1) vs Lucas Almeida (14-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A sneaky contender for exciting fight of the night here. Tukhugov is 2-1 in his last three, earning a KO win over Kevin Aguilar back in February 2020 before a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu at UFC 253. He bounced back with a decision win over Ricardo Ramos at UFC 267 in his last bout. Almeida on the other hand is also 2-1 in his last three, losing on the Contender Series before returning to the regional scene and submitting Italo Trindadfe at Jungle Fight 103, before winning his UFC debut by KO’ing Mike Trizano in the third round last time out.

Tukhugov is a well-rounded fighter, with crisp counter-striking and razor sharp takedown abilities too. Almeida is a powerhouse who has finished all of his career wins, but he tends to be open for wars and leaves himself open to getting hit flush. Almeida has a real chance of outlasting Tukhugov after an initial early blitz and then taking over the fight with his power striking, but that blitz is really hard to overcome.

Tukhugov has the ability to push the pace early and mix his takedowns in to open up his striking, but Almeida is a very durable fighter. It’s likely to be a really wild ride while it lasts, but I think Almeida could use his extra power to land clean and get the finish as Tukhugov starts to tire in the second half of the fight.
PICK – Lucas Almeida via Knockout, Round 2

Volkan Oezdemir (18-6) vs Nikita Krylov (28-9) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big scrap between two light heavyweight fighters up next, with a very real possibility of someone going to sleep. Oezdemir snapped a two fight losing streak after being knocked out by Jiri Prochazka at UFC 251 and dropping a decision to Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 267, when he claimed a decision over the tricky Paul Craig at UFC London in July. Krylov also dropped a decision to Ankalaev at UFC Vegas 20, and was submitted by Craig via triangle choke at UFC London in March, then bounced back at UFC London in July with a first-round KO over Alexander Gustafsson.

Oezdemir is a power puncher with great durability, but his overall game is lacking and he’s starting to get on in his career after an initially promising start saw him get to a title shot with Daniel Cormier. Krylov is incredibly well-rounded with 15 submission wins and some dynamite in his hands too, but he hasn’t really found a way to mix it all together and can often get caught.

Krylov will look to start fast and hard, knowing that Oezdemir can be caught and dropped. But if he goes too hard, Oezdemir is more than capable of putting his lights out too. Both guys will go for the kill, feeling they’re the better and powerful guy, but it’s hard to see Krylov not landing flush first and with his ability to get takedowns and submissions too, I back him to claim the finish with a choke after he drops him.
PICK – Nikita Krylov via Submission, Round 1



Makhmud Muradov (25-7) vs Caio Borralho (12-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Banger at middleweight up next. Muradov saw a 14 fight win streak, including a KO over Andrew Sanchez at UFC 257, snapped when Gerald Meerschaert tapped him out in August last year. Borralho on the other hand has claimed 11 wins in a row including previously mentioned decision wins over Omargadzhiev and Petrosyan in the UFC.

Muradov is a volume heavy striker with fantastic footwork and movement, while his power is not something to be overlooked with 17 wins by knockout in his career. His takedown defence is shoddy at best though, with Borralho a wizard on the ground who has great clinch work and solid combinations in close. Unless Muradov has improved his ability to get people off him when backing him towards the cage from his last bout, then he’s in trouble here.

Borralho is by far a better takedown artist than Meerschaert and he possesses far more of a threat on the feet too. As the fight goes on Borralho should be able to overwhelm him and once he gets it to the ground it’s a question of whether he goes for a choke or just pounds him out until the referee steps in.
PICK – Caio Borralho via Knockout, Round 3

Belal Muhammad (21-3) vs Sean Brady (15-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fight that could easily main event a fight night card any other week is the featured prelim of this one, such is the strength of the card. Muhammad has won seven of his last eight, defeating all of Lyman Good (UFC Vegas 3), Dhiego Lima (UFC 258), Demian Maia (UFC 263), Stephen Thompson and Vicente Luque by decision. The win streak was interrupted by a no-contest against Leon Edwards due to an accidental eye poke in round 2 (UFC Vegas 21). Brady is undefeated and 5-0 in the UFC, with a submission win over Christian Aguilera, submission over Jake Matthews (UFC 259) and Michael Chiesa most recently.

Muhammad is a good kickboxer, but his game has really excelled in recent years when he started wrestling more and using his top control to nullify opponents completely. He also has some of the best cardio in the division. Brady is a well-renowned grappler himself with excellent wrestling and submission skills, but his cardio has failed him later on in fights in the past against lesser opposition. This is a really tough fight to call.

I do feel as though Muhammad is being overlooked though. Brady is excellent but Muhammad has fought better guys and this is the biggest stage Brady has ever been on. Muhammad is also the more experienced fighter and is slightly bigger physically too. It should be a great slog, but I expect Muhammad to be able to mix things together that little bit more to get the judges to go in his favour and earn him a title eliminator in his next fight.
PICK – Belal Muhammad via Decision

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira, Brady and Santos make their case for title contention

It may not have been the most eventful card in UFC history, but UFC Vegas 43 will go down as a very important one in the future of three divisions in particular heading into 2022.

The card was headlined by women’s bantamweight contenders Ketlen Vieira and Miesha Tate, who both knew that a victory would set them on the path for a potential title shot against Amanda Nunes should she be able to defeat Julianna Pena at UFC 269.

It was a close fight that brought out the best of both women, but ultimately it was the younger and more active fighter in recent times that picked up the win.



Tate came out and seemed to create big distance between them, trying to jump in with blitzes but staying away from the punching power of Vieira.

The Brazilian seemed hesitant for much of the fight, fighting on the back foot but countering with a right cross well throughout and jabbing well too.

Tate’s attempts to grapple were stifled and ultimately the striking of Vieira busted Tate up enough that by the final buzzer, her left eye was completely swollen shut and her nose leaking blood.

Ketlen Vieira of Brazil punches Miesha Tate in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas,...

The 48-47 x2, 49-46 scorecards were just and fair, and now opens up the chance for Vieira to move towards a top-five fight or even an immediate title shot if the UFC deem it fair.

In the co-main event was a brilliant match-up between two grapple heavy fighters in Michael Chiesa and the undefeated Sean Brady.

Chiesa did better on the feet than expected, using his long range to land his left hand well but Brady was the first man I can recall that was able to control Chiesa on the ground for large periods, landing a career-high five takedowns en route to a victory.

Brady used his great strength and jiu-jitsu black belt to control Chiesa and claim the first and third rounds, while the judges scored the middle round for ‘Maverick’.

Sean Brady takes down Michael Chiesa in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With the welterweight division currently being cleaned out by Kamaru Usman, who was in the Apex to watch the fight, Brady will likely enter the rankings at number 6 now following the win and will be pushing for a top five fight in early 2022 to push for a title shot.

At women’s flyweight, Taila Santos proved herself as a legit contender too by securing the only finish of the night when she choked out Joanne Wood in the first-round of their bout.

Santos was ranked at number ten before the fight with number five ranked Wood, but she immediately took control of the fight and dropped Wood with a big hook. She pounced for a finish, before eventually sinking in a choke that forced the tap.

That moves her to 19-1, with her only defeat coming via split decision in her UFC debut and as she moves towards the top five now a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko seems very plausible.

Santos has excellent wrestling, good jiu-jitsu skills, good size for the division and powerful striking so could genuinely become a real threat at 125lbs and she could prove herself to be the perfect contender to the most dominant champion in the company right now.

UFC Vegas 43 was largely forgettable despite the depth of the card, but for three divisions it could prove to be the starting point of a few contenders’ run to title contention.

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira vs Tate – Main card 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 and after starting with the early prelims and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Davey Grant (13-5) vs Adrian Yanez (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Absolute banger to open the main card in my pick for fight of the night. Grant earned a KO win over Jonathan Martinez at UFC Vegas 21, before defeat to Marlon Vera at UFC Vegas 29 most recently. Yanez, dubbed ‘baby Masvidal’, is undefeated in the UFC and earned stunning KO victories against Victor Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 12, Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 22 and then Randy Costa at UFC Vegas 32.

Grant is a solid wrestler who has recently developed his hands to be able to knock people out cold with his looping hooks. Yanez on the other hand is a super tidy boxer, with great power and footwork and the ability to mix up body and head attacks brilliantly. This is a fight that seems highly unlikely to go the distance, because both guys don’t know how to step backwards. Grant has fallen in love with his hands recently and if he wants to trade strike-for-strike with Yanez, he’s probably going to sleep.

If Grant opts to use his wrestling more though, he could use his experience to be able to grind out a win and slow Yanez’s output down entirely. With that said though, Yanez has shown decent takedown defence in the past and because of how much Grant loads up with his strikes I can see Yanez countering with a nice combination and scoring a huge knockout win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2

Joanne Wood (15-6) vs Taila Santos (18-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Formerly Joanne Calderwood, Wood debuts her new surname after marriage to return to the octagon against a super hot prospect. Wood is 4-4 in her last eight, with a win over Jessica Eye at UFC 257 being followed up by a loss to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 last time out. Santos on the other hand has lost just once, on her UFC debut, and has won each of her last three fights against Molly McCann at UFC Fight Island 1, Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 17 and then against Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 266.

Wood has got some solid kickboxing skills, good wrestling and a decent submission threat on the ground too despite just one tap-out win in her career. Santos has shown throughout her career that she is also supremely well-rounded, with some great takedowns and jiu-jitsu skills as well as crisp kickboxing on the feet. This is a very tough fight to call, because it’s experience against the uprising talent.

Santos has proven to be too physically strong for all her opponents so far and has got the power to make fighters try to take her down, where she has been able to control everyone else too. Wood has got lots of experience and good footwork too, but ultimately Santos will likely just be hungrier and more active to earn a close decision win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Rani Yahya (27-10-1) vs Kyung Ho Kang (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A submission battle beckons in this one in the bantamweight division. Yahya is 1-1-1 in his last three, suffering defeat to Ricky Simon and drawing with Enrique Barzola before finally returning to the win column against Ray Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 21. Kang on the other hand has won each of his last three fights, but steps into the cage for the first time since December 2019 after injury.

Yahya is a jiu-jitsu black belt with all 21 of his stoppage victories coming via submission throughout his career, while Kang is an excellent wrestler who also looks to secure submissions rather than just simply control his opponents. Both these guys will be desperate for the fight to hit the ground as soon as possible, and that only fits to suit Yahya’s style as much as possible.

If he gets taken down he is very good at getting back to his feet quickly, and if he ends up on top then the likelihood of Kang getting back to his feet are slim unless the round ends or the referee is waving the fight off. Ultimately, this is the perfect stylistic match-up for an ageing bantamweight and I think Yahya will likely be able to transition on the ground to get Kang’s neck and secure another stoppage win.
PICK – Rani Yahya via Submission, Round 2



Michael Chiesa (18-5) vs Sean Brady (14-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An absolute banger at welterweight between two ranked fighters. Chiesa was on the brink of a title shot with four wins in a row against Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8, before defeat last time out to Vicente Luque at UFC 265 pushed him down to number six in the rankings. Brady on the other hand is undefeated in his career and 4-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Court McGee and Ismail Naurdiev before submissions against Christian Aguilera at UFC Vegas 8 and Jake Matthews at UFC 259.

Chiesa is a brilliant wrestler with unbelievable grappling and jiu-jitsu skills, with his back control being among the best in the entire company. Brady is also a stud wrestler, with good stand-up skills and decent boxing while on the mat he is more than capable of locking up a couple of submissions too. This is a stylistic clash, because it’s two primary grapplers but both are also capable of holding their own in the opposite world.

Whoever is on top in the grappling exchanges will be the dominant one and on the feet they’re both pretty even. Ultimately though I think this level is a bit too big of a jump for Brady and I think Chiesa should be able edge it on the feet and eventually control on the ground to secure a decision victory and hand Brady his first defeat.
PICK – Michael Chiesa via Decision

Ketlen Vieira (11-2) vs Miesha Tate (19-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Main event time in the women’s bantamweight division to round off what looks to be a very fun card. Vieira is 1-2 in her last three, with a win over Sijara Eubanks at UFC 253 sandwiched between defeats to Irene Aldana at UFC 245 and Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 19. Tate returned from a near four-year retirement to score a third-round TKO win over Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31 in the summer.

Vieira is a decent wrestler with some excellent jiu-jitsu, with a brilliant heavy position from the top where she can flatten her opponents out and just dominate. Tate on the other hand is also an excellent wrestler, using a powerful double-leg takedown and some good jiu-jitsu from the mat to secure seven submission wins in her career.

This is a fight that doesn’t really have any place being a main event, but it is. Vieira has struggled with weight issues in the past, missing weight in her defeat to Kunitskaya and does not having any previous five-round experience. With Tate likely to push the pace and gain top position at some point, it’s hard to see how she may lose this fight because stylistically that goes against everything Vieira stands for. It won’t be the most exciting main event, but Tate should be able to control with her wrestling and cardio to earn a decision win.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision

UFC Vegas 43: Michael Chiesa defending against gatekeeper status

The UFC’s welterweight division has been open to some criticism and praise in 2021.

Reigning and defending champion Kamaru Usman has seen his stock rise with three brilliant wins over Gilbert Burns, Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, while everyone else just seems to be a level below him right now.

But below him, there are a few fighters who know that because of the state of the division they’re potentially just a couple of wins away from a title opportunity.



One fighter who has been closer than most to a title shot in recent times is Michael Chiesa, who entered 2021 riding a four-fight win streak thanks to a dominant win over Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8 in January.

Usman reportedly wanted the UFC to offer him a title shot after his win over Masvidal, but they instead insisted on making the rematch with Covington.

In that time period, Chiesa was matched up with Vicente Luque in a great fight that ended with the grappling expert getting caught in a d’arce choke by the Brazilian powerhouse and being forced to tap out in the first round.

It halted his momentum and with that defeat he dropped to number six in the rankings. But instead of getting paired up with someone in the top five or even in the top ten, Chiesa will now take on number 12 ranked Sean Brady at UFC Vegas 43.

Brady is a perfect 14-0 in his professional MMA career, with four wins in the UFC. But all of his victories to date have come against unranked opponents, so this is a huge step-up in competition.

For Chiesa, there is more than just getting back on the horse to fight for. A loss to a young stud like Brady isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, because he’s clearly supremely talented. But it would almost certainly put an end to his title hopes any time in the near future.

A loss would also likely put Chiesa into that dreaded gatekeeper position. He’d drop out of the top ten and as a veteran with big-fight experience, he would become the scalp that upcoming fighters are looking for to get their big break.

Michael Chiesa prepares to fight Rafael Dos Anjos in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at PNC Arena on January 25, 2020 in...

It’s a hard position to fight back from, constantly fighting people lower than your rank and it would take three or four consecutive wins to get back into a position of power.

A win however keeps him in position to push for a title shot in 2022 and keep fighting the top guys in the near future while he’s in his prime. It’s a must-win fight for Chiesa, but for all the wrong reasons.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Trevin Jones def Mario Bautista via Knockout, Round 2 (0:47)

Tentative start to the card as Bautista and Jones trade leg kicks and feints to feel each other out for the first minute or so of the bout. Bautista pushes forward with a flurry that Jones avoids and the two clinch up, with Jones controlling the underhooks and landing some nice knees to the thigh. Both fighters exchange body kicks, with Bautista landing a bit cleaner. Jones landing lots of leg kicks from the outside, as Bautista responds with some fast hands with a nice hook in particular. Jones lands a left hand and goes for a takedown as the round ends but Bautista fights it off well. 10-9 Bautista but not much in it.

Bautista comes out with some nice combos once again and Jones goes back to the leg kicks. Both exchange strikes and Jones slips a punch then throws a lead uppercut that drops Bautista! He follows up with some big ground and pound and the referee ends it early! Huge knockout win for Jones!

Uros Medic def Aalon Cruz via Knockout, Round 1 (1:40)

Fast start to the fight from Medic as he walks forward and clips Cruz with a big right hand quickly to the temple! Cruz looks for a takedown but Medic brushes him off and lands a big left hand too, then follows it up with a flying knee. Medic lands a barrage of strikes and the fight goes too long before the referee steps in and ends it! What a debut.

Amanda Lemos def Livinha Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (3:39)

Slow start to the bout as Lemos takes the centre of the cage and backs Souza up against the cage, landing jabs and hard leg kicks. Souza looks wary on the feet early on as Lemos lands a straight right hand that drops her! She goes for the ground and pound but Souza tries to grapple to survive and manages to tie her up. She goes for a heel hook but Lemos avoids it and starts landing huge strikes from the ground once again too. Lemos lands a stinging jab that drops Souza again and a few more strikes sees the referee step in and call it a night. What a performance from Lemos.

Sean Brady def Jake Matthews via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (3:28)

Competitive start to the round with both guys standing in range of the other and exchanging small flurries of punches and leg kicks. Matthews using his range advantage well and throwing his jab nicely, but Brady avoiding it well and landing nice leg kicks. Matthews throws a big right hand that drops Brady but Brady doesn’t seem too hurt and manages to recover into top position after Matthews tried to grab the neck. Brady landing nice short shots from the top and trying to control the posture by holding the neck, but Matthews doing well to avoid too much damage in the final minute as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Matthews.

Brady opens up the round a bit more aggressive, taking the centre and being first with the jabs and short hooks. Matthews eventually takes control once again though and uses his length to start throwing some nice strikes. Brady shoots for the takedown and gets it first time and immediately takes the top position. He tries to work to the back but Matthews defends against the cage as Brady starts working for a guillotine. Good defence from Matthews as Brady continues to work the top mount and starts throwing nasty body strikes while wrapping up the neck. Matthews really struggling to do anything from his back as he gives up the position and Brady starts raining down punches as the round ends. Definite Brady round, 19-19 for me.

Matthews takes the centre early in the final round and tries to land a couple of flurries, but Brady trying to slow him down with some chopping leg kicks again. Brady lands a beautiful counter left hook that drops Matthews to one knee, but he stays patient and stays standing. He fakes a takedown but Matthews sprawls and it allows Brady to jump on his neck to threaten a guillotine. He moves to take the back and takes him against the cage to start throwing nice strikes on the ground and dominant once again. Brady continues to work the position and steps over into a head and arm choke to secure the tap out. Brilliant performance.

Kennedy Nzechukwu def Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Fast start from Ulberg as he hurts Nzechukwu! Ulberg on the back foot but threw some front kicks and a combination of strikes wobbles Nzechukwu but he keeps a high guard and survives the beating for now. Nzehukwu continues to walk forward but Ulberg stays patient and lands some nice leg kicks. Nzechukwu starting to come forward and land strikes of his own and a left hand wobbles Ulberg! Ulberg starts throwing some heavy body shots but Nzechukwu keeps coming forward and both men are trading in the centre now! Ulberg is very tired nowbut still landing the heavier shots as the round ends. 10-9 Ulberg. What a round!

A slower start to the round for Ulberg as he starts picking his shots more and landing jabs nicely. Nice on-two from Nzechukwu lands but both men landing heavy on each other. Big body kick from Ulberg followed with a one-two but there’s an accidental thumb in the eye that causes a short break in the action. Ulberg’s volume is higher but the power has diminished greatly from the opening exchanges and Nzechukwu’s cardio is carrying him through this bout right now. Nasty low kicks from Ulberg and a right hand lands then Nzechukwu lands a HUGE right hand!! Oh my god what a knockout!!! Kennedy Nzechukwu!

Tim Elliott def Jordan Espinosa via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)

Fast pace to start this fight with Espinosa flicking out jabs and kicks as Elliott walks him down and applies pressure. A clinch against the cage and Elliott lands some nice knees before they break and Espinosa lands a nice left hook before another clinch against the cage. They separate again and Espinosa throws a big head kick that misses by inches and Elliott is able to take him down and get on his back. Espinosa fighting the hands well as Elliott looks for a rear-naked choke but he gets his back to the cage and is able to avert that threat. Elliott controls the position for the rest of the round and should have that in the books. 10-9 Elliot.

Second round starts exactly as the first ended, with Espinosa throwing a head kick that Elliott ducks and gets the takedown but this time Espinosa is able to get back up to his feet quickly. Elliott pushes the pace and lands a second takedown quickly and stays in the half guard grinding away with short strikes. Elliott starting to suffocate Espinosa with pressure and a great wrestling game, riding the back and looking to sink in a rear-naked choke. Espinosa gets away from it but Elliott is smothering him and beating him up bad as he lands elbows and chokes him with his forearm until the round ends. That’s a 10-8 round, so 20-17 Elliott.

Espinosa opens the round with a flying knee but Elliott catches him with ease and takes the fight down to the ground immediately and starts throwing heavy strikes. Espinosa throwing some elbows from the bottom and cuts Elliott open badly, but he continues to be completely smothered by the top game. Elliott throwing heavy shots and some elbows of his own and then Espinosa throws up an armbar attempt that Elliott avoids and he controls from top position for the rest of the round. Great performance from Elliott.

PRELIMS

Kai Kara-France def Rogerio Bontorin via Knockout, Round 1 (4:55)

Good start to the round from Bontorin as he comes forward and strikes well, with a few leg kicks and some nice right hands. A right cross wobbles Kara-France and Bontorin goes in for a takedown and dumps him down with ease, then takes the back immediately. Bontorin threatening the rear-naked choke straight away and dominating on the back, flowing perfectly with a body triangle locked in but Kara-France is fighting the hands brilliantly to avoid the submission. He finally shakes Bontorin off and they get back to the feet with 30 seconds remaining. Bontorin looks tired but Kara-France comes forward and lands a three punch combo that puts Bontorin out!! Walk off KO!! Wow!!

Askar Askarov def Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2. 30-26)

Good competitive start to the fight as Askarov throws some nice front kicks from the lead leg, while Benavidez looks to throw looping hooks. Askarov’s kicks doing damage early on to the mid-section, but Benavidez lands a nice one-two. Askarov keeps it coming and lands a big right hook, then a left hand behind it. Askarov eats a right hand from Benavidez then lands another right hand of his own, before he goes in for the takedown. He closes the distance, wins the scrambles and lifts before taking the back and threatening the submission before the round ends. 10-9 Askarov.

Benavidez comes out strong in the second round, looking to swarm him against the cage with his looping hooks but Askarov takes it and returns fire with his own. Askarov wobbles Benavidez with a right hand and goes right back to the takedown attempts, getting a lift and putting the fight on the ground immediately. Askarov dominating the grappling exchanges, landing short strikes on the ground while taking the back and threatening with choke positions too. Benavidez stays on the ground for the remainder of the round until with five seconds to go Askarov cracks him with a huge right hand on the feet. Huge round for Askarov again. 20-18.

Final round and Askarov staying very patient as Benavidez comes forward knowing he needs a finish. Lovely question mark kick lands flush on the chin of Benavidez but he eats it and comes forward again, moving forward with a head kick of his own that just misses. Right hook from Askarov lands and knocks Benavidez off balance but he gets back up quickly. Head kick again from Askarov is partially blocked by Benavidez but still lands enough to wobble him as we enter the final two minutes. Benavidez throws a big superman punch that lands clean but Askarov eats it and replies with a jab into the final minute. Lots of attempts from Benavidez for big strikes but he’s nowhere near Askarov and this should be a comfortable decision win. 30-27.

Kyler Phillips def Song Yadong via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Positive start for Phillips as he comes with a big right hand earlier then a spinning kick that just misses. Yadong eventually takes the centre and starts throwing some straights but Phillips throws a stunning head kick that lands flush but Yadong just eats it. Amazing. Phillips tries another spin but misses again as Yadong lands with a nice uppercut then misses with a spin kick of his own. Phillips landing first with his jabs and right straights so far but Yadong continues to move forward. Phillips changes levels and goes for a takedown but Yadong scrambles back up to his feet immediately and eats a one-two as the round ends with an exchange against the cage. 10-9 Phillips.

Yadong comes out strong in the second round but Phillips being first again. Phillips slowing down a little from the first round but still landing heavy and as they break from a clinch he throws a beautiful spinning back kick again. Song trying to close the distance and landing big hooks but Phillips doing well to be first and stay out of the way. Nice jab from Phillips knocks Yadong off balance on his way in, then after some back and forth on the feet Phillips slides in for a big takedown and gets it beautifully. Yadong scrambles his way back to the feet once again but he’s starting to look desperate. Big right hand lands from Yadong but the round ends with both men fresh. 20-18 Phillips.

Phillips looks calm as they enter the final round, with Yadong knowing he needs the finish. Phillips shoots for a takedown early but Yadong sprawls quickly and gets up to throw heat straight away. Nice flurry to the body ends with a left hook to the chin, but Phillips moves away and keeps his guard high. Both men exchange a straight right and Yadong is starting to close the distance a bit more and land better shots. Another exchange in the pocket that Yadong wins, but Phillips shoots in for a takedown and for the first time is able to keep him down. Phillips looks to take his back but Yadong reverses and ends up on top in the final minute. The round ends with Yadong on top and Phillips looking for a submission in what should be a Phillips decision win. 29-28.

Dominick Cruz def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Cruz starts with an immediate takedown attempt that is sprawled on by Kenney but breaks away from the front headlock position and starts landing some leg kicks. Kenney takes the centre and starts backing Cruz up against the cage with both guys exchanging low kicks. Big left hand lands from Cruz but Casey eats it and keeps walking forward, before Kenney throws another strong leg kick. Very back and forth round, I edge it 10-9 to Cruz.

Strong start to the round from Kenney as he lands a big leg kick that drops Cruz to one knee for a second. Cruz rallies with a nice one-two but Kenney starting to get the timing down a bit more and is landing cleaner shots now. Straight left from Kenney lands before two more leg kicks. Cruz lands a nice right hand to the body followed by a straight right to the face, but Kenney keeps coming forward and throws a body kick. Cruz avoids a right hand and charges forward with several clean shots to the face but Kenney takes them and lands two back of his own. Big right hand from Cruz lands but Kenney responds with another leg kick. Left hand from Kenney lands on the chin and then he grabs the neck for a guillotine attempt but Cruz is safe and the round ends. 19-19 but close yet again.

Cruz shoots in for a takedown early on then abandons it and lands a big left hook up top. Shoots back in for a takedown again against the cage, but Kenney looks to defend with a guillotine attempt although Cruz is on the right side to avoid the threat too much. Cruz takes half guard and starts landing some body shots but Kenney then gets up to his feet with ease and they go back to striking. Left hand from Kenney staggers Cruz who then is able to evade an attack and lands a counter right hand. Kenney lands a couple of big hooks but Cruz responds with three big punches of his own as we enter the final 90 seconds. Cruz denies another takedown attempt from Kenney and lands a big knee to the body, then follows up with a one two. Cruz then shoots for a takedown of his own and gets Kenney down and holds him down against the cage to see out the fight. 29-28 Cruz for me, but a great fight.

MAIN CARD

Aleksandar Rakic def Thiago Santos (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tense opening to the fight as both men throw out feints and feelers but neither committing too much just yet. Santos charges forward with his left hand but Rakic steps back and lands a nice check right hook. A few leg kicks from each guy as Rakic takes the centre, but Santos staying patient on the outside. Big left hand from Santos but it’s blocked well from Rakic and they reset in the middle. Rakic fakes the right hand and Santos throws his left, which he slips and he throws a big head kick but Santos ducks under it. Nice jab from Rakic then a big body kick from Santos lands. 10-9 Rakic but not much action in that one.

Rakic takes the centre immediately as the round starts and lands a nice jab but both men being cautious once again. Rakic faking a level change and Santos threatens with a kick up the middle before trying to close the distance with his left hand but just missing. Rakic clinches up with Santos against the cage and both guys trade knees to the body and thighs. Another action-less round for the most part as we enter the final minute. Santos swings his left hand but misses and Rakic counters with a right hand and the round ends. 20-18 but not the most impressive performance so far.

Santos shoots for a takedown early on in the third round but Rakic is able to hold him off easily and turns the tables to put Santos against the cage. Huge body kick from Santos lands and Rakic tries to grab the leg but it looks like it hurt him a little. They trade leg kicks again before more feinting and missed hooks from both fighters. Rakic goes for a takedown but Santos defends well and starts landing some big elbows to the head. Rakic tries again but it’s defended well and Santos lands some nice knees in the clinch that follows as we enter the final minute. Not much happens in the final minute and it should be a win for Rakic on the scorecards. 30-27 or 29-28.

Islam Makhachev def Drew Dober via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (1:37)

Good start from Dober as he fires in a low kick followed by a jab, before Makhahev shoots for a single leg takedown and gets the fight to the ground immediately. Makhachev in half guard but very heavy on top in a chest to chest position as he goes body head with strikes. Makhachev slides into mount momentarily but Dober gets it back to half guard before he passes into side control. Makhachev tries to slide onto the back of Dober but he manages to move away before Makhachev slides through quickly back into side control. He takes the back and then transitions to an armbar, but runs out of time and Dober survives. 10-9 Makhachev.

Second round once again and Makhachev avoids a big hook before another single leg takedown and trip gets the fight back to the ground. Makhachev is able to tie the legs of Dober up between his own and starts pressuring with his top game again with body strikes. Completely dominant so far from Makhachev in full guard, landing more and more ground and pound with a flush elbow to the face. Round ends with Makhacehv in control, 10-8 round. 20-17.

Dober throws a big left hand that Makhachev slips and then he goes for a bear hug like takedown and gets it. Dober attempts a kimura to defend but Makhachev is able to step over and defend it. As soon as Dober lets go Makhachev slides his shoulder under the chin of Dober and secures the submission out of nowhere! Super impressive performance from Makhachev.

Aljamain Sterling def Petr Yan via Disqualification (Illegal Knee), Round 4 (4:29)

Fast paced start to this fight from Sterling as he moves forward quickly and is right in the face of Yan applying lots of pressure. Constantly touching him and kicking his body and making it really uncomfortable. Body kick attempt from Sterling lands and gets caught by Yan who throws him to the ground. Sterling lands a flying knee and keeps coming forward then gets a takedown himself. Yan is able to get back to the feet then lands a big right hand that drops Sterling! Both fighters keep up the high pace for the rest of the round, super close. 10-9 Sterling but could go either way.

Sterling comes out fast again in the second round and goes for a takedown but Yan is able to defend it well and ends up standing with Sterling on the floor under him. The referee stands them up after some leg kicks from Yan and then Sterling goes in for the takedowns once again, but Yan defends well for the most part. Sterling goes for the takedown against the cage but Yan is defending well as we enter the final minute. Sterling steps away and tries to trip him but it fails and he continues to come forward. Yan ends up behind Sterling and takes him down for the final 15 seconds. 20-18 Sterling for me, but could be 19-19.

Third round and Yan is starting to go for the body a bit more as Sterling starts to slow down. Sterling still touching him with jabs but Yan is taking over now a bit more, landing more shots and seeing everything Sterling is doing. Sterling trying to throw more strikes but he’s considerably tired and the champ is opening up a bit more with some takedowns of his own as well as a few solid right hands. 29-28 either way.

Fourth round and Yan is taking over the fight now. Sterling is shooting in with lazy takedown attempts and Yan is dominating the striking exchanges and landing at will almost. Yan stuffing all the takedown attempts at chopping away at the legs and body of Sterling, controlling the entire pace of the fight. Yan holds Sterling down and throws an illegal knee to the head of Sterling! Oh my goodness. Sterling is out of it right now and the referee calls in the doctor and waves the fight off. Wow. New champion via DQ.

Amanda Nunes def Megan Anderson via Submission, Round 1 (2:03)

Anderson takes the centre of the cage and Nunes takes her time to step forward.. big overhand right lands from Nunes and rocks Anderson immediately. She steps forward and lands two more that drop Anderson. She lands some ground and pound then switches to an armbar and triangle at the same time to force the submission. The best ever.

Jan Blachowicz def Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision (49-45 x2, 49-46)

Composed start to the fight from both fighters as Adesanya looks to get his range with feints while Blachowicz takes his time coming forward. Adesanya throws a few head kicks that are blocked by Blachowicz, who throws a few leg kicks that land and some right hands that miss. A few more leg kicks from each fighter as the fight continues at a relatively slow pace. Adesanya lands a nice body kick but is forced backwards as Blachowicz comes forward with a left straight. Round comes to an end without much action but probably an Adesanya round for pressing the action.

Adesanya comes out with a bit more speed in this round and flicks out his leg kicks well, but Blachowicz starts checking them. Blachowicz fires back with a nice one-two that lands on Adesanya but doesn’t connect quite flush. Adesanya chopping away at the leg of Blachowicz who lands a nice jab to the body and closest the distance and tries to clinch, but Adesanya escapes quickly. Adesanya lands an inadvertant low blow that causes a very short break in the action before a second low blow moments later is also accidental and causes a break. Blachowicz comes forward with a flurry into a clinch pop Adesanya gets out and keeps landing jabs and low kicks. 20-18 Adesanya but not a lot of big moments so far.

Blachowicz comes out harder in the third round and starts blasting some punches that land, then shoots in for a takedown and gets it. He tries to take Adesanya’s back but Izzy slips away and counters with a big left hand that rocks Blachowicz! Adesanya lands a few jabs but stays relatively calm before Blachowicz clinches up with him again against the cage but Adesanya once again pulls away. Both fighters exchange jabs and then Blachowicz lands a nice stiff right straight. Adesanya goes for a body kick that gets caught but nothing comes from it and the round ends. 30-27 Izzy, but could be 29-28.

Fourth round and Adesanya is opening up a bit more now. Some nice jabs and leg kicks land as Blachowicz is still looking for the big hooks and straights. More of the same as the round progresses before Blachowicz shoots for a takedown and gets it. From there on, he controls from half guard and side control and drops big ground and pound strikes and just wears on Adesanya. Jan’s round without a doubt. 39-37 Izzy for me but could be 38-38.

Final round and Blachowicz is breathing very heavily, so Adesanya comes forward with a bit more pace. Lots of jabs and he tries to follow it up with a straight right hand but Blachowicz avoids. Not much urgency from either fighter just yet and Blachowicz blasts a takedown half way through the round. Blachowicz starts hammering away with ground and pound and moves into half guard. He continues to control the round and then moves into mount as it comes to an end to reign down punches. 3-2 either way.. good fight.

UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya – Early prelims predictions

The biggest and best card of 2021 is finally upon as as a title fight triple header takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Petr Yan will defend his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling in potentially the best 135lbs title fight ever, before Amanda Nunes returns to the octagon to fight Megan Anderson in a featherweight title fight. The card will be headlined by Israel Adesanya trying to become just the fifth dual-weight simultaneous champion in the companies history as he moves up to light heavyweight to take on Jan Blachowicz.

Elsewhere on the card, Islam Makhachev returns to the octagon to take on Drew Dober while bantamweight great Dominick Cruz headlines the prelims against Casey Kenney in a do-or-die fight for his career on a blockbuster 15 fight card.

Last week at UFC Vegas 20 we had a poor night for predictions going 4/9 on the night, although it was worsened by a majority draw and a dodgy decision too. It moved us to 240/380 (63.16%) with 108 perfect picks (45%) since starting our predictions.

We’ll look to move ahead with a big week this week on a stacked card, breaking the card down into three this week.


Mario Bautista (8-1) vs Trevin Jones (12-6 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The opening fight of the card is a fun bantamweight fight between two up and comers in the UFC. Bautista is coming off two wins in a row after losing his debut on short-notice to Cory Sandhagen, where he beat Jin Soo Son and Miles Johns, while Jones’s UFC debut win over Timur Valiev at UFC Vegas 7 was overturned to a no-contest following a positive test for marijuana.

Bautista is a great striker, with fantastic knees and straight punches while Jones is a power puncher with a strong wrestling base behind him too. Bautista has really good takedown defence too but is so well rounded when it comes to MMA that he should be considered a threat wherever the fight goes. Jones is more one-dimensional and will likely find himself with his back to the cage and his best path to victory is with that role reversed. Bautista is good enough to avoid takedowns and if he doesn’t, he’s great at getting back to his feet quickly. On the feet, Bautista has a clear advantage and I think he’ll be able to pick Jones off for the victory while standing.
PICK – Mario Bautista via Decision

Uros Medic (6-0) vs Aalon Cruz (8-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A UFC debut for Serbian lightweight Uros Medic as he takes on fellow Contender Series alumni Aalon Cruz. Medic is 6-0 with all finishes in his career, including a knockout against Mikey Gonzalez back in August. Cruz made his UFC debut in February last year where he was knocked out in 85 seconds by Spike Carlyle.

Medic has never gone past the first minute of a second round because of the pure power and aggression he shows in fights. While Cruz is the more weathered fighter who has fought much better competition, he tends to back up in straight lines when defending and when he got cracked by Carlyle his response was less than impressive. He has a huge reach advantage over Medic but he doesn’t really fight in a way that uses it well and if Medic steps forward with the same aggression and clips him early then this could be a short night in ‘The Doctor’s’ favour.
PICK – Uros Medic via Knockout, Round 1

Livinha Souza (14-2) vs Amanda Lemos (8-1-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight fight between two women who won their only fight in 2020 and will look keep that momentum going in 2021. Souza won her first two fights in the UFC before losing to Brianna Van Buren, but she bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Ashley Yoder at UFC 242. Lemos made it consecutive wins in the same month with her decision win over Mizuki Inoue making her 2-0 since her suspension for a failed drugs test.

Souza’s skillset should see her much higher up in the reckoning of the strawweight world. She has tremendous striking, brilliant jiu-jitsu skills and even some judo throws under her belt with ten stoppage wins in her career paying to that. Lemos is an active striker, with great grappling skills of her own but her volume should see her take this fight. If Souza can’t outwrestle her opponent she seems to panic a bit despite her great skills and she just doesn’t let her hands go. If that’s the case here, Lemos will punish her with strikes and should take the victory.
PICK – Amanda Lemos via Decision

Sean Brady (13-0) vs Jake Matthews (17-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A cracker of a fight at welterweight between the undefeated Sean Brady and ‘The Celtic Kid’ Jake Matthews. Brady made his UFC debut back in 2019 and has gone 3-0, beating Christian Aguilera last time out in August 2020 at UFC Vegas 8. Matthews is a UFC vet despite being only 26 years old and is on a three-fight win streak after beating Diego Sanchez on Fight Island last year at UFC 253.

Brady and Matthews are very similar in style and this should be a competitive match up. Both are good wrestlers with good striking too, but Matthews is more of a finisher on the mat while Brady tends to mix it up a little more. Despite that, Matthews has only had one submission win in the last five years and while he’ll look for the takedowns more Brady is arguably the slightly better wrestler of the two and he has the edge on the feet too. That quality should shine through and Brady should do enough to get a decision win.
PICK – Sean Brady via Decision

Kennedy Nzechukwu (7-1) vs Carlos Ulberg (5-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Two relative newcomers to the light heavyweight division meet up on the card where the title is on the line to showcase their skills as prospects. ‘The African Savage’ is 1-1 in the UFC and took all of 2020 off following his last win, while Ulberg is an undefeated prospect making his UFC debut in this game.

Nzechukwu is 6ft 5′ tall and incredibly lengthy when it comes to his striking, while Ulberg is a former professional kickboxer who has transitioned over to MMA and brought those striking skills to the fore with him. Nzechukwu doesn’t like to commit too much and a real lack of volume means he’s in for a torrid time against Ulberg who is quicker, better technically and arguably just as powerful. Ulberg will feint, leg kick and then terrorise Nzechukwu for a spectacular finish.
PICK – Carlos Ulberg via Knockout, Round 2

Tim Elliott (17-11-1) vs Jordan Espinosa (15-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A super fun flyweight fight between two guys who could be fighting for their careers in the company. Both Elliott and Espinosa have lost three out of their last four, with Elliot winning against Ryan Benoit last time out on Fight Island after defeats to Deiveson Figueiredo, Askar Askarov and Brandon Royval. Espinosa lost his last fight to David Dvorak at UFC Vegas 11, after beating Mark De La Rosa and losing to Alex Perez and Matt Schnell.

Elliott is a wrestler by trade and always looks to get the takedown and smother his opponents on the ground, while Espinosa is a mobile striker who likes to shoot himself in the foot strategically in fights. Elliott will look to box himself into takedown range and despite Espinosa’s reach and footwork advantage he should be able to push the pace for a relatively comfortable win.
PICK – Tim Elliott via Decision