We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims here.
Sergey Morozov (18-5) vs Journey Newson (10-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun scrap to open the card in the bantamweight division. Morozov is 2-2 in his last four, losing to Usman Nurmagomedov (UFC Fight Island 8) and Douglas Silva De Andrade (UFC 271) while beating Khalid Taha and Raulian Paiva most recently. Newson on the other hand was KO’d by Randy Costa at UFC Vegas 11, before taking over a year off and returning with a win over Fernando Garcia most recently.
Morozov is a solid all-rounder, with excellent striking technique and solid wrestling to go with his excellent top game with vicious ground and pound skills. Newson is on his way to becoming an all-rounder, but he’s not quite there yet although his Brazilian jiu-jitsu is very useful for him. With that said though, Morozov just seems to be better everywhere this fight goes.
He’s the better, more powerful and more aggressive striker, and his top game is far better than Newson’s bottom game is when it comes to ground-and-pound vs jiu-jitsu. I don’t see a finish because Newson is no pushover, but Morozov has the skills to win the close exchanges and take over more as the fight goes on to claim a decision on the cards. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
David Dvorak (20-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Banger at flyweight next. Dvorak saw his 16-fight win streak snapped last time out when Matheus Nicolau earned a decision over him in his last bout. Kape alternatively has won his last two in a row, KO’ing both Ode Osbourne (UFC 265) and Zhalgas Zhumagulov (UFC Vegas 44).
Dvorak is a brilliant boxer with good footwork and a lovely jab, while his defensive grappling is also excellent to keep fights standing. His biggest weakness is that he can be a slow starter. Kape on the other hand is an explosive striker with great counter-striking and good defensive wrestling too. His biggest weakness is that he tends to wait a lot to counter attack, and that lack of volume cost him in his opening two UFC fights.
That slow start for Dvorak could be a huge issue, because Kape likes to come out of the blocks quickly with his big strikes looking for a finish and he has excellent knockout power. Dvorak can get hit and hurt, but if he gets past that stage then it will be an excellent striking match. I’ll lean with Kape because it’s highly unlikely he loses the first round if he fights properly, and that’s an obvious advantage. PICK – Manel Kape via Decision
Bryan Battle (8-1) vs Rinat Fakhretdinov (19-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very interesting welterweight bout up next. Battle is on a seven-fight win streak including winning the latest series of TUF, beating Gilbert Urbina in the finale, then beating Tresean Gore and KO’ing Takashi Sato most recently via head-kick. Fakhretdinov steps in on just two-weeks’ notice on an 18-fight win streak, who won his UFC debut last time out back in June.
Battle is a really good fighter with a bit of everything in his wheelhouse, with some solid wrestling and great submission skills as well as explosive striking when he needs it and unlimited cardio. “Gladiator” is likely to try and wrestle his way to victory here, but he has got crazy power too and often relies heavily on landing one big shot.
But with Battle’s style of moving constantly and being strong everywhere, it’s hard to see how he loses this one. There is always the chance that Fakhretdinov wrestles his way to a win, but he really lacks urgency to be busy and against Battle that is a recipe for disaster. PICK – Bryan Battle via Decision
Rafa Garcia (14-3) vs Maheshate (9-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Lightweight banger up next between two prospects in the weight class. Garcia saw his two-fight win streak snapped last time out when he lost to Drakkar Klose at UFC 277, while Maheshate is on a seven-fight win streak with a first-round KO in his UFC debut against Steve Garcia most recently at UFC 275.
Garcia is a very good wrestler, who has got five round experience and fantastic cardio to be able to wrestle all night long. Maheshate is a striker, with a piston-like right hand that has the power and ability to put people out if he lands clean. Garcia is a very aggressive fighter which can leave opportunities for Maheshate to land counters, but this is a big step up in competition.
“Gifted” is likely to make this an ugly fight, because if it’s clean and technical then he is in Maheshate’s world. Garcia is likely to push him against the cage, constantly work for takedowns and use lots of dirty boxing and clinches. He’ durable and has great cardio to be relentless for 15 minutes, and I expect Garcia to put an end to the hype relatively comfortably in a fun fight. PICK – Rafa Garcia via Decision
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Slightly further down the card will be a middleweight title eliminator too, as Jared Cannonier takes on Derek Brunson to potentially decipher who the next contender will be for the belt.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 47 we went 9/13 with six perfect picks to move to 528/826 (63.92%) with 224 perfect picks (42.42%).
We’ll look to improve on that this week with this huge 15-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
William Knight (11-2) vs Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) **William Knight missed weight by 12 pounds. Fight will proceed at heavyweight!**
Two powerhouses going head-to-head here in what could be a fight full of fireworks. Knight is on a two-fight win streak having stopped Fabio Cherant at UFC Vegas 34 before a decision win over Alonzo Menifield at UFC Vegas 44. Grishin on the other hand is an experienced pro who suffered defeat to Dustin Jacoby last time out at UFC Vegas 20 last year.
Knight is a powerful striker, with impressive low kicks and a winging overhand right that can do real damage. He also has great ground-and-pound skills, but his wrestling isn’t the best and he can’t drag fights to the ground. Grishin is also a striker, but far more technical than powerful and has great defensive wrestling to ensure the fight stays where he wants it. Ultimately that will be the difference here.
Grishin will want the fight standing because it’s where he holds the advantage and Knight isn’t a good enough wrestler to force it anywhere else. Grishin should be able to control the range and use his jabs well enough to secure a wide, but uneventful, decision win here. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs Blood Diamond (3-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An intriguing welterweight fight to open the card between a sturdy UFC fighter and a debutant. Wells is on a three-fight winning streak, including a KO over Warlley Alves at UFC Vegas 30 in his organisation debut. Blood Diamond is only 3-0 in MMA but had over 50 kickboxing bouts in his career, and has evenly split his wins across KO’s, submissions and decisions.
Wells is a powerful striker on the feet, who explodes into his attacks, but he also has his wrestling chops and some decent grappling skills too. As expected, Blood Diamond is a technically brilliant kickboxer with amazing kicks and speed. But his defensive grappling chops are yet to really be tested, although he hasn’t fought in just under two years.
The improvements could very well be there for Diamond, but that’s hypothetical at this point. We’ve seen Wells knockout a seasoned veteran in his last fight and we know he has good enough wrestling to take the fight down. With three submission wins on his record, I expect him to get the fight to the mat, move to the back and eventually secure his neck to claim a win. PICK – Jeremiah Wells via Submission, Round 2
Douglas Silva de Andrade (27-4) vs Sergey Morozov (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun bantamweight fight next between two super underrated fighters. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, but he claimed a big KO win last time out against Gaetano Pirrello at UFC Vegas 38. Morozov on the other hand was submitted in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Island 8 but then bounced back with a decision win over Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 31.
This is a big striker vs grappler bout, with one punch knockout power coming up against relentless wrestling and grinding. Andrade has secured 20 knockouts from 27 career wins and is so explosive despite being 36-years-old, while Morozov is a great wrestler who is able to rack up takedowns at will and consistently across 15 minutes. While Morozov has struggled against pressure fighters in the past, Andrade has struggled with specialist wrestlers and battling off his back.
Andrade absolutely has the power to end this fight with one big punch, but he’ll struggle to land the punch if he’s looking up at the ceiling for the night. Morozov’s takedowns are just relentless and with Andrade’s history of being taken down too open, it’s hard to look past a controlling win for Morozov but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to sleep. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
AJ Dobson (6-0) vs Jacob Malkoun (5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really exciting middleweight fight between two hot prospects in the UFC. Dobson made waves with his victory on Dana White’s Contender Series and makes his debut here, while Malkoun got smoked in his debut at UFC 254 in just 18 seconds but bounced back with a decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan at UFC Vegas 24.
Dobson is a powerful blitzer with excellent power in his hands and good forward pressure. He’s earned three knockout wins and two submissions in his six fights. Malkoun on the other hand is a great boxer too, with professional experience, and he also has some decent jiu-jitsu credentials. The loss to Hawes really affected his stock, but his performance against Alhassan certainly showed what he’s capable of too.
Dobson’s reputation is big right now because of the hype, but Malkoun certainly isn’t just a walk in the park here. Malkoun will likely lean on his wrestling heavily again and we haven’t really seen Dobson off his back yet. Dobson could earn a knockout win, for sure, but I think Malkoun will be able to grind on him and make it a rough debut for a victory. PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-2) vs Ronnie Lawrence (7-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two fighters on big win streaks go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Martinez is on a three-fight winning run, being successful in his UFC debut against Guido Cannetti at UFC Vegas 35 while Lawrence grabbed a third-round knockout win over Vince Cachero at UFC Vegas 20 in his debut.
Martinez is a fighter with great power in his hands, the ability to put anyone’s lights out with one clean shot and great boxing technique in both directions. Lawrence on the other hand is a pressure fighter with good power in his hands too and a consistent takedown-heavy approach to secure control. Martinez has definitely got the edge in the striking game, but he suffered badly in his debut win with the pressure of Cannetti.
That’s a problem, because Lawrence is far better than Cannetti is. His pressure is relentless, his wrestling solid and his grappling is far more advanced than Martinez’s is. With that said, ‘Manaboi’ has fight-ending power which is hard to go against. I will go against it on this occasion though, because Lawrence is a big step up in competition but don’t be surprised to see a highlight reel finish in his favour instead. PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision
The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.
Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.
Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card, starting with the early prelims and prelims here.
Alan Baudot (8-2) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight banger to open the card as Baudot looks for his first UFC win against Nascimento. Baudot lost his debut, getting KO’d by Tom Aspinall at UFC Fight Island 5 while Nascimento won his debut but was knocked out by Chris Daukaus on the same card in 45 seconds.
Baudot is a heavy handed striker but quite slow on his feet, loading his strikes up but when landing taking someone’s head off. Nascimento is a supreme jiu-jitsu player with seven submissions from eight career wins, with superb top pressure and good sweeps from his back too. It’s a weird match up between them, but realistically Nascimento is likely to secure a takedown early and dominate to an early submission win if he can afford getting his head taken off first.
PICK – Rodrigo Nascimento via Submission, Round 1
Francisco Figueiredo (12-3-1) vs Malcolm Gordon (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Figueiredo fights in a similar way to his brother, just without the x-factor power and submission skills. Gordon on the other hand is a good wrestler with heavy top pressure and tiring his opponent out from above. Figueiredo will almost certainly look to use his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and just piece him up on the feet, while Gordon will try hard to take him down and wear him out.
Unfortuately for Gordon, Figueiredo’s got good power in his left hand and good takedown defence so he should be able to secure the win. PICK – Francisco Figueiredo via Decision
Miles Johns (11-1) vs Anderson Dos Santos (21-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun bantamweight bout here as Johns and Dos Santos look to make it two wins in a row against each other. Johns was stopped by Mario Bautista before bouncing back with a stoppage win of his own against Kevin Natividad at UFC Vegas 12. Dos Santos lost his first two UFC fights via decision, but finally got a win when he submitted Martin Day.
Johns has a stiff jab that lands very often and always has his wrestling skills to fall back on whenever necessary. Dos Santos on the other hand has good power in his hands but the techniques are limited to hooks mostly, while his submission game on the ground is great and dangerous.
Johns’ wrestling is good enough to control where the fight goes and has the better striking on the feet, so as long as his cardio holds up this should be a good win for him. PICK – Miles Johns via Decision
Khalid Taha (13-3) vs Sergey Morozov (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger coming up at 135lbs as Taha and Morozov look to bounce back from defeats last time out in the UFC. Taha put on an okay performance against Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 13 but was beaten, while Morozov got beaten up and submitted by Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 8.
Taha is a solid striker with good pressure and volume to his game, while Morozov has excellent grappling skills despite the defeat in his last bout via submission. Both fighters have issues with the other’s strengths and realistically this is a fight that has two outcomes.
Either Taha can avoid the takedowns and batters Morozov on the feet, or Morozov eats a few punches to get the fight to the ground and dominates on the mat. The latter is more likely in my eyes judging by Taha’s previous attempts at defending takedowns, so Morozov gets my pick. PICK – Sergey Morozov via Decision
Amanda Lemos (9-1-1) vs Montserrat Ruiz (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Lemos is one hell of a striker, with great strikes and knees and also some really good takedown defence too. Ruiz is short and aggressive and in her last bout she showed that from the clinch she’s really dangerous with the head and arm throw to wear her opponents down.
Lemos is so powerful and has really good leg kicks to go with it too, so I’d be surprised if Ruiz can cope with this level of fighter right now. PICK – Amanda Lemos via Knockout, Round 2
Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs Preston Parsons (9-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Featured prelim bout is an interesting welterweight clash between the young Daniel Rodriguez against UFC debutant Parsons. Rodriguez is 2-1 in his most recent fights seeing a decision loss to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 sandwiched between wins over Dwight Grant and Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 22. Parsons is on a four-fight win streak coming into this fight and steps in on short notice.
Rodriguez is a sensational boxer, with fantastic jabs and a powerhouse of a left hand. Parsons is a very heavy wrestler who has excellent submission skills and a violent clinch game too. While Rodriguez has never fought a fighter as heavily reliant on wrestling, he was preparing for Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Rodriguez is by far the best fighter Parsons has ever fought and on short notice it’s surely a hurdle too much to overcome. PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2
Manon Fiorot def Victoria Leonardo via Knockout, Round 2 (4:08)
Fiorot starts the fight with her standard side kick to maintain distance, while Leonardo is trying to throw punches in bunches early. Fiorot lands two more side kicks to the body and then lands a big head kick! Fiorot pushes forward and lands a big one-two that snaps Leonardo’s head back, but she eats it and continues to come forward. Clinch attempt but Fiorot is physically stronger and using knees well. Fiorot explodes with a big one-two again and rocks Leonardo! Fiorot charges forward looking to finish and lands two more shots but Leonardo moves away and avoids the big wheel kick attempt. Clinch against the cage and Fiorot lands a big elbow on the break. Big round for Fiorot. 10-9.
Better second round start from Leonardo, as she avoids the big strikes early but she’s throwing her own strikes from way too far out. Fiorot lands a nice body kick before Leonardo shoots for a takedown, but good defence from Fiorot to keep it standing. A few more clashes between the two before Fiorot gets Leonardo against the cage and gets a takedown of her own. She lands a couple of strikes on the ground before getting back up and making the referee stand them up. Fiorot lands a big head kick and Leonardo is hurt! She turns up the pressure and lands big punches as Leonardo covers up and the referee steps in and stops it! Hugely impressive performance.
Umar Nurmagomedov def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 2 (3:39)
A cagey start to this fight as Nurmagomedov comes out bouncing and throwing kicks, while Morozov looks to land a big overhand right. Bit of a stalemate on the feet so Umar shoots for a takedown and gets him down to the ground. He looks to take the back and stabs his hooks in, but Morozov scrambles and keeps rolling around before eventually breaking free. Back on the feet again and Umar lands a nice question mark kick before ducking an overhand right and getting another takedown. He takes Morozov’s back quickly but the buzzer goes to end the round. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
Second round starts and Umar lands a huge head kick immediately that wobbles Morozov! Umar goes for the finish against the cage with big shots, but Morozov comes away and eventually shakes the cobwebs away. Another head kick attempt is blocked but then a big body kick lands from Umar. Umar throws a jab and shoots straight behind it with a perfect takedown, before transitioning to the back again. He finally is able to hold the position at the second time of asking and eventually lands a few shots before sinking in a lovely rear naked choke and putting Morozov to sleep! What a performance.
Mike Davis def Mason Jones via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Great start to the fight for both men as Davis shows his kicking game, while Jones is looking to land combos early. Davis lands a big body shot and a strong leg kick, while Jones continues to come forward. Blind kick from Jones and Davis makes him pay with a takedown. A couple of strikes on the ground before Jones gets back to the feet. Jones starts landing some nice punches to the body and head, which makes Davis look twice and shoot for another takedown to slow it down. Jones gets back up again quickly and lands a nice left hand but Davis retaliates with a strike of his own. Jones turning the pace up on Davis with combos and knees but then Davis takes him down again. Jones gets back up and eats a huge flying knee right on the buzzer! 10-9 Jones but very close round.
Davis lands a big leg kick early in the second round that drops Jones, but again he gets back up to his feet quickly. Nice combinations from Jones are landing as Davis drops his hands but then Davis returns fire with a big straight right hand. Both men throw elbows that just miss, before a big calf kick again from Jones. Jones’ pace is excellent and Davis’ cardio is starting to let him down here. Big body shot from Jones again but Davis is significantly tiring now. Final minute and Jones throws a big leg kick again as Davis looks to avoid. Big right hand from Davis lands and knocks the mouth piece out of Jones’ mouth, then lands another big one two and a head kick but Jones catches it and ends the round on top. 20-18 Jones.
Final round and still a strong pace to this fight. Davis lands a big right hand but Jones eats it again and continues to come forward. Davis landing shots at a cleaner rate right now but Jones continues to come forward and attack the body and legs. Jones shoots in for a takedown against the cage but defended well by Davis and then he lands a big right hand on the break. Big knee from Davis lands again as we enter the final minute, but Jones is still coming forward with power and aggression. Takedown attempt from Davis but Jones defends well as the two exchange shots against the cage for the buzzer. What a fight. 29-28 Jones but could well be the other way around too.
Francisco Figueiredo def Jerome Rivera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Very interesting start to this fight as both men stand at range and exchange body kicks and leg kicks before clinching up against the cage. Nice exchange in the centre before a sweep and takedown from Figueiredo sees him end up on top. Some nice ground and pound from the top by Figueiredo before he gets back to his feet and lets Rivera back up. A few exchanges but nothing big and the round ends with a takedown attempt from Rivera being stuffed. 10-9 Figueiredo.
Second round starts with a takedown from Figueiredo again as he ends up on top, but Rivera is very active from his back throwing elbows, short strikes and trying to use his length to create distance. Figueiredo doing really well to stay square on the hips though and is keeping position to great effect. Rivera using his long legs really well to stop Figueiredo passing guard and not taking too much damage before getting back up to his feet. Figueiredo too strong in a clinch and breaks away before landing a really nice pull left straight counter. Round ends with another clinch, but Figueiredo looks good right now. 20-18.
Final round and once again Figueiredo is getting on the inside and able to secure a takedown, although Rivera gets back to his feet well this time. Good combination of strikes from Rivera land at a distance but then he steps in again and Figueiredo is able to clinch up against the cage. Rivera switches the position and looks for a takedown but Figueiredo defends it really well before they eventually break away. Rivera starting to up the pace and throw more strikes and he’s starting to land. Big takedown from Rivera at the end of the round but Figueiredo gets back up quickly and gets a takedown of his own on the buzzer to seal what should be a win.
Dalcha Lungiambula def Markus Perez via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this fight as Perez looks to work the body of Lungiambula, who explodes with a combination that forces Perez all the way across the cage. Dalcha shoots for a takedown and lifts Perez into the air before slamming him down and ending in half guard. Perez threatens with a guillotine but Lungiambula stays patient, get out of it and look to land big shots. Perez threatens with submissions off his back and eventually gets back to his feet for the end of the round. 10-9 Dalcha but tough to score.
Perez looking to land body shots early in the second, but Dalcha lands a big body shot and charges to get the fight to the ground again. He ends up behind Perez, landing nice ground and pound strikes but Perez takes a kimura grip to threaten. The fight goes back down and Perez is so close to locking up the kimura but Dalcha uses brute strength to defend and end up back on top in a controlling position. Nice ground and pound strikes from Lungiambula have opened up a huge cut on Perez’s head and that’s his round. 20-18 Dalcha.
Fast start to round three as Perez comes out with kicks while Dalcha looks to counter by just taking his head off with wild hooks. Perez engages in a clinch against the cage but Dalcha is too strong and controls the position, before the two break. Dalcha throws a nice combination that just misses but Perez lands a straight left clean on the chin that staggers Dalcha. Perez keeps trying to get the fight down against the cage but Dalcha is too strong and is able to stay standing into the final minute. Both men throw knees against the cage and an accidental low blow causes a pause with 15 seconds to go and Perez lands a big spin kick with seconds to go but it’s not going to be enough. 29-28 Dalcha for me.
Su Mudaerji def Zarrukh Adashev via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Fun start to this one as Adashev looks to start fast with big looping strikes, but Su using his range well to stay away. Nice leg kicks land from Su and quickly force Adashev to switch stance. Nice head kick from Su lands but is partially blocked from Adashev, who returns first with a big one-two that misses. Jab from Su lands but Adashev lands a bit left hook counter, although he barely flinches at it. 10-9 Su but Adashev is active.
Adashev comes out quick again in the second round and lands a nice double-jab right hand clean. Su continues to use the inside leg kick and his range well, with a double jab of his own too. Spin kick attempt from Su misses and Adashev takes the back, landing some big shots to the face before they break. Su lands a big leg kick and just avoids the left hook coming back at him before a straight right while taking the centre of the octagon. Adashev lands a right hand that wobbles Su but he recovers quickly and shakes his head to say it didn’t hurt. Adashev charges forward and Su steps back and lands a big check hook that drops him! He follows it with a jab that drops him again but Adashev avoids any more significant damage before the end of the round. 20-18 Su.
Head kick lands for Su to open the final round but Adashev seems to have shaken off the cobwebs. Adashev eating leg kicks and can’t get into the rang of Su now, who seems to have figured out the way to victory now. Su keeping his hands low and throws a big wheel kick but hits fresh air. Nice one-two from Adashev but Su maintains the centre and throws a nice side kick to the body. Final 90 seconds of the fight and Su continues to stay out of range while just picking jabs and landing nice kicks. Adashev pushing forward into the final minute but Su avoidig all strikes with great footwork to take a decision win.
Ricky Simon def Gaetano Pirrello via Submission (Arm triangle choke), Round 2 (4:00)
Good start to the fight by Simon, who feints changing levels and lands nice strikes before eventually shooting for the takedown and getting the fight to the ground. Pirrello scrambles back to his feet but Simon keeps a body lock and engages in the clinch against the cage. Change of levels and Simon lifts Pirrello before slamming him down to the mat. Pirrello tries to get back up but Simon consistently dragging him back down and taking the back. Pirrello escapes but again Simon drops levels for another takedown. Dominant opening round. 10-9.
Second round and Pirrello tries to strike from distance, but Simon changes levels and shoots. Pirrello throws a huge knee that lands flush but Simon eats it and eventually finishes the takedown. More top control from Simon, with every time Pirrello gets up to his feet Simon just puts him back on his back. It’s a vintage Simon performance as he gets another takedown against the cage and lands straight into mount. Simon immediately sinks up an arm-triangle choke and gets the tap-out win. Beautiful performance.
Omari Akhmedov def Tom Breese via Submission (Arm triangle choke), Round 2 (1:41)
Fast start to this one with Akhmedov throwing bombs early with Breese looking to counter, before Akhmedov shoots in with a takedown early. Breese catches him in a guillotine on the way down though and it looks tight, but the Russian gets his head out and starts landing good shots from top position. Huge bombs from Akhmedov from the guard have Breese in big trouble as he attempts an armbar to escape, but he’s just eating shots from Akhmedov. Breese manages to scramble back to his feet with a heel hook attempt and then takes Akhmedov’s back and almost gets the choke, but Akhmedov defends well before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Akhmedov.
Second round and Akhmedov goes straight for the takedown again, but Breese is able to tilt him and ends up on the bottom but with a calf slicer submission. Akhmedov remains calm and eventually gets out, putting himself into mount. He immediately attacks for an arm triangle submission and after a bit of a wait, Breese has no choice but to tap out. Excellent performance from Akhmedov.
Lerone Murphy def Douglas Silva de Andrade via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)
Good start to this one for Murphy as he takes the centre of the cage and uses his range to land nice calf kicks. He’s throwing in straight lines and connecting out of range, attacking the body well. Andrade trying to fire back with leg kicks of his own but Murphy checks it and fires back with a big right hand of his own. Two more right hands land for Murphy but Andrade fires back with a nice body kick. Andrade comes forward with a combo that ends in a high kick, but Murphy blocks it all and moves away. Andrade looks for a takedown but Murphy defends well and responds with a knee before a leg kick as the round ends. 10-9 Murphy.
Murphy opens the round throwing a leg kick and Andrade is hurt bad. Murphy throws a head kick but Andrade catches it and forces him down to the ground and quickly transitions to the back, but Murphy scrambles up to his feet very quickly. Another big leg kick from Murphy and the two end up clinching against the cage. Andrade gets it down and ends up in mount but again Murphy escapes and lands a nasty body shot on Andrade. Andrade comes forward and lands a big body shot of his own, while Murphy continues to attack the leg and throw long one-twos. Murphy catches a kick and lands a big right hand flush on the chin but Andrade eats it. Another huge leg kick and Andrade is in trouble as the round ends. 20-18 Murphy.
Murphy nice and aggressive in this final round, attacking the leg again. Andrade knows he needs the knockout and comes forward with a big right-left hook combo that lands hard and wobbles Murphy! Spinning back kick to the body but Murphy clinches up, before a low blow causes a pause in the action. Andrade lands two big hooks again and Murphy looks hurt, but he’s using footwork well to move away. Big right straight lands for Murphy and Andrade comes forward again, but Murphy changes levels and looks for a takedown as we enter the final minute. Murphy gets it down and scrambles to end up on top and looks to just control for the final 30 seconds for a big decision win. 29-28.
Matt Schnell def Tyson Nam via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Cagey start from both fighters in this one as Schnell looks to stand with Nam, who is throwing low kicks with his right hand behind it as usual. Good head movement from Schnell to avoid any damage early on, as both guys doing a lot of feinting but nothing heavy landing. Nam lands a big counter right hand out of nowhere but Schnell eats it and continues to stand and trade in the centre as the round ends. 10-9 Schnell.
Much better second round from Nam so far as he starts landing his left jab a bit more, but Schnell is firing back with good boxing. Nam’s face is bloody and red from the strikes he’s taking, but Schnell’s power isn’t causing him too much of a problem. Nam coming forward and lands a big left hook but Schnell is still there and doing well with his left jab too. Schnell goes for a kick but Nam counters with a right overhand. Nam throws a big windmill right that Schnell side-steps that sums up the fight so far as the round ends. 20-18 Schnell.
Nam looking more aggressive in the final round, knowing he needs a finish to win this fight. Schnell continuing with his volume, winning him the fight right now with the jab and short combinations. Nam forcing the fight right now with his big punches, but Schnell is either avoiding them or eating the shots. He’s landing first almost every time too, making Nam’s striking game look basic. Nam more active in this round and landing more but Schnell should take the decision win.
Great start to the fight for Araujo as she uses her range excellently and picks Modafferi off with her jab. Nice one-two down the pipe lands and immediately causes swelling under the eye of Modafferi. Modafferi continues to come forward but hasn’t looked for a level change once and is getting picked off. She charges forward and Araujo steps back and lands a big right hand that drops her. Big right hook again wobbles Modafferi but she keeps coming forward before finally clinching and pushing her to the cage looking for a takedown, but Araujo reverses the position, takes her back and sinks in a rear-naked choke but the buzzer saves her. 10-9 Araujo.
More great striking from Araujo once again, picking Modafferi off at will with her jab and right straight. Modafferi shoots in for a takedown attempt but again Araujo defends it easily and transitions to the back before breaking to start striking again. Big right hand from Araujo lands but then Modafferi lands a right hand of her own that wobbles Araujo! She charges forward but Araujo recovers quickly and avoids. Araujo ducks a strike and shoots for a takedown to end the round on top, landing elbows and cuts Modafferi open. 20-18 Araujo.
Final round and Araujo starts flowing with her striking, with big combinations landing clean. Modafferi trying to come forward for a takedown but Araujo reverses the position and ends up in side control. Modafferi gets back to her feet and lands some big puches while Araujo moves backwards to avoid, but Araujo fires back with shots of her own. Araujo breaks away and shoots for a takedown to see out the remainder of the round in top control. 30-27 Araujo, pretty easy night’s work.
Ike Villanueva def Vinicius Moreira via Knockout, Round 2 (0:39)
Villanueva comes out throwing flurries to the head, but Moreira covers upwell with a high guard and throws back with a leg kick. Villanueva goes to the head a few more times but once his shots get blocked again, he starts attacking the body well. Villanueva goes for another flurry against the high guard and lands a couple of flush right hands around the guard. Another body shot from Villanueva before Moreira throws a big superman punch that lands. Body kick from Moreira gets caught and a straight right follows behind it for Villanueva as the round ends. 10-9 Ike.
Second round is more of the same early on, with Moreira covering up to not get hit. He swings a punch of his own and Villanueva counters with a huge right hook that lands on the chin and puts him out cold. One punch KO!! Goodnight!
Warlley Alves def Mounir Lazzez via Knockout, Round 1 (2:35)
Alves comes flying out of the blocks and lands some big shots before clinching up against the cage early. Alves very aggressive throwing short elbows, before a spinning back fist lands clean. They clinch again and Alves throws Lazzez onto the ground with a beautiful judo throw but Lazzez gets back to his feet quickly. Lazzez throws a spinning elbow of his own, before Alves breaks and throws three huge body kicks in a row and drops Lazzez! He gets on top and rains down punches and the referee stops the fight! What a win for Warlley Alves!
Michael Chiesa def Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)
Fast start to the round from Magny as he takes the centre and looks to use his range early. A few strike exchanges before a clinch in the centre allows Chiesa to trip Magny in the centre of the cage and work from top position. Chiesa tries to pass half guard and attack a kimura but Magny defends well and the rest of the round passes with Chiesa on top. 10-9 Maverick.
Chiesa starts the second round and immediately goes for the body lock and trip again, but Magny defends well and they clinch against the cage again. After a war of attrition Chiesa eventually drags him down, but Magny is able to get back to his feet quickly. Magny goes for his own takedown but falls backwards and ends up on the bottom once again. Chiesa lands some big elbows on the ground and looks to pass half guard again. More elbows from Chiesa as Magny is trying to prevent the pass, but another dominant round from Chiesa. 20-18.
Faster start in round three for Magny as he comes out with flurries of strikes and looks to get the fight to the ground. He eventually drags Chiesa down and looks to take the back, but Chiesa is able to defend well, stand and they break apart. Chiesa lands a nice left straight and shoots for the takedown again, but Magny defends, reverses and clinches against the cage well. They scramble to the ground and Chiesa ends up in full mount, and sees the round out on top. Tough to score that one. 29-28 Chiesa.
Fourth round and Chiesa comes out with a big strike and then an immediate takedown early on in the centre. Lots of attempts to pass the half guard but Magny defending well and Chiesa maintaining top position. Chiesa looks to move to a kimura, but Magny scrambles and gets an inverted triangle but Chiesa remains patient and eventually gets out of it before riding out the round on top once again. 39-37, maybe 40-36. Easy for Chiesa.
Final round and it’s more of the same. An absolute clinic from Chiesa in the grappling to waltz to a dominant, one sided victory. Very impressive.
On a 14 fight card, there will be six on the main card which means eight prelim fights to break down and predict.
At UFC Fight Island 7, we managed to correctly predict 6/10 with four perfect picks to take our lifetime totals to 200/313 (63.9%) with 89 perfect picks (44.5%).
Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with these eight prelim bouts.
Victoria Leonardo (8-3) vs Manon Fiorot (5-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A double UFC debut in the women’s flyweight division as grappler ‘Fury’ Leonardo takes on knockout artist ‘The Beast’ Fiorot.
Leonardo’s only knockout win in her career came in her last bout on Dana White’s Contender Series back in November, while Fiorot got a knockout win herself in her November bout at UAE Warriors. Fiorot is a great kickboxer with good karate skills too and loves a good push kick. Leonardo may look to use those opportunities for a takedown but her wrestling isn’t the strongest. Florot will maintain range and pick her shots, and she possesses good power and accuracy. She should be able to potentially get a finish, but at the very least she should get the win. PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 2
Umar Nurmagomedov (12-0) vs Sergey Morozov (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun fight in the most fun division in the UFC right now as the cousin of Khabib makes his UFC debut against Morozov where both men fight for the first time since 2019.
Nurmagomedov is an excellent grappler with top submission skills, winning five of his 12 fights via tap out. Morozov on the other hand is a great striker with fantastic kicks and a good overhand right, who is a very good counter puncher. It’s a battle of styles in reality but one is by far superior at implementing the style and this one should be quite one sided. PICK – Umar Nurmagomedov via Decision
Mike Davis (8-2) vs Mason Jones (10-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A sneaky contender for fight of the night in this one as two top prospects clash in the lightweight division.
Mike Davis is a super well rounded fighter, who has fought some of the top guys in the UFC already. He lost to Gilbert Burns on short notice and Sodiq Yussuf on the Contender Series, but has won every other fight on his resume by stoppage. Mason Jones is an undefeated Cage Warriors champion, who is a fantastic boxer with good knockout power and submissions too.
Both guys will likely trade in the pocket in this one and they match up really well, but the advantage goes to Davis in the power department. If they’re to land bigger shots, Davis is more likely to get the KO and if that doesn’t happen he should be able to wrestle too for a tight decision win. PICK – Mike Davis via Decision
Francisco Figueiredo (11-3-1) vs Jerome Rivera (10-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
The brother of the flyweight champion makes his UFC debut when he takes on someone looking to earn their first UFC win at the second attempt.
Figueiredo is very similar to his brother Deiveson in terms of skillset, with good striking and excellent submission skills too. He lacks the overwhelming power in his hands and the incredible reaction time though. Rivera came into the UFC for a short notice bout against Tyson Nam in September 2020, but was starched in the second round and beaten.
Figueiredo has the striking advantage, wrestling advantage and speed advantage but has never fought at 125lbs before. So long as the weight cut goes well, he should win this one. PICK – Francisco Figueiredo via Knockout, Round 2
Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) vs Markus Perez (12-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Dalcha ‘Champ’ finally gets a UFC bout again after two cancellations when he takes on Markus Perez on short notice in the middleweight division.
‘Champ’ has previously fought at 205lbs, where he was beaten by Magomed Ankalaev before his 185lbs debut were halted twice by Karl Roberson withdrawing meaning he missed 2020 entirely. Markus Perez is coming into this one with four defeats in his last six, including each of his last two against Wellington Turman and debutant Dricus Du Plessis on Fight Island in October.
Perez is a bit of a jack of all trades but does nothing that well and if he walks into Lungiambula the way he did Du Plessis, he’s going to sleep again. ‘Champ’ has the cardio, striking and power to end this early. PICK – Dalcha Lungiambula via Knockout, Round 1
Su Mudaerji (12-4) vs Zarrukh Adashev (3-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
So this one is the definition of a fighter being fed to the wolves.
China’s Su Mudaerji has won 11 of his 13 victories by knockout and is a great striker, as he showed when he knocked out Malcolm Gordon back in November in just 44 seconds. Adashev on the other hand is 3-2 and got starched by Tyson Nam back in June in his last fight in just 32 seconds. He’s a polished striker himself and is a natural flyweight which is positive, but this is just too big a step up right now.
Mudaerji will come out hard and fast and if he lands flush, everything points towards a highlight reel finish. PICK – Su Mudaerji via Knockout, Round 1
Ricky Simon (16-3) vs Gaetano Pirrello (15-5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A name known to UFC fans already in Ricky Simon takes on debutant Gaetano Pirrello in what should be a fun fight in the bantamweight division.
Simon was the comeback fight for the legendary Urijah Faber back in 2019 and got knocked out in the first round, before dropping a decision to Rob Font later that year. He bounced back with a win over Ray Borg in May 2020, while Pirrello hasn’t fought since October 2019 when he got a first round knockout.
Pirrello is a brawler but isn’t the best technical striker and isn’t a great grappler. Simon is a tidy striker but prefers to grapple so he should be able to wrestle his way to a wide decision win. PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision
Omari Akhmedov (20-5-1) vs Tom Breese (12-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A fight that got pushed back by a few days, Omari Akhmedov finally steps in the cage with Tom Breese in the middleweight division.
Breese won his last fight via first round knockout against KB Bhullar on Fight Island in October, while Akhmedov saw a three fight win streak snapped by Chris Weidman in August. Breese is a great striker, who is very aggressive with great power. He struggles off his back though, which is exactly where Akhmedov will want this fight to take place. Akhmedov has a poor gas tank though as we saw against Weidman, while Breese can go at a decent pace for the full 15 minutes.
It’s all about if Breese can keep the fight standing or not in honesty. I’m not sure he does and Akhmedov gets two rounds ahead before dropping the third in a tight decision win. PICK – Omari Akhmedov via Decision