Tag Archives: Sijara Eubanks

UFC Vegas 45: Lewis vs Daukaus – Prelims predictions

The final UFC event of 2021 is upon us and will be headlined by heavyweight bangers in Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The two are at different ends of their career realistically and are fighting to carry the torch of the division into 2022.

In the co-main we’ll see welterweight contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson enter the last chance saloon for title contention when he takes on Belal Muhammad, who is looking to break into the top five of the rankings for the first time.

Last time out at UFC 269 we went 9/14 on the night in a fantastic card to move to 500/779 (64.18%) with 211 perfect picks (42.2%).

We’ll look to end the year on a high here and after starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card, we move onto the rest of the prelims here.


Sijara Eubanks (8-6) vs Melissa Gatto (7-0-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very intriguing women’s flyweight bout here. Eubanks rebounded from consecutive defeats with a first-round KO win over Elise Reed at UFC Vegas 32, while Gatto won her UFC debut against Victoria Leonardo at UFC 265 due to an arm injury.

Eubanks is a great wrestler with excellent Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills and decent boxing abilities too, while Gatto is a grappler with four submission wins in her career to date. Interestingly, it’s Gatto who probably has the striking advantage on the feet with a two-inch reach advantage and better combinations. On the mat, it really depends who is on top.

The likelihood is that’ll be Eubanks, who has excellent offensive wrestling and her takedowns are often hard to defend against. Gatto is likely to be comfortable on her back chasing submissions, but Eubanks is skilled there and should be able to ride out top control to earn a judge’s decision win.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Decision

Justin Tafa (4-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (7-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights up again, and the likelihood is this one doesn’t last too long. Tafa has lost his last two-in-a-row, dropping decisions to Carlos Felipe at UFC Fight Island 7 and Jared Vanderaa at UFC Vegas 27. Hunsucker on the other hand saw his UFC debut end in unconsciousness thanks to a resurging Tai Tuivasa at UFC Vegas 21.

Both these guys are your traditional heavyweights, who throw one or two strikes at a time with their feet planted and look to take their opponent’s head off. Tafa is quite clearly the more talented of the two here and that’s probably enough to earn him the win.

Hunsucker will come forward with his chin high and with poor defensive qualities and some sloppy offense, it should only take a couple of those big strikes from Tafa to land clean and end this one nice and early.
PICK – Justin Tafa via Knockout, Round 1



Raoni Barcelos (16-2) vs Victor Henry (21-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

One of the best fights on the entire card here and my pick for fight of the night. Barcelos saw a nine-fight win streak snapped last time out when Timur Valiev earned a majority decision win at UFC Vegas 30, while Henry makes his UFC debut after winning nine of his last ten fights.

Barcelos is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with brilliant boxing skills, fearsome leg kicks and a brilliant Brazilian jiu-jitsu game on the mat that has earned him ten stoppage wins in his career. Henry on the other hand is a decent wrestler himself with good power in his hands and some fine grappling himself to earn 14 stoppage wins in his career. Unfortunately for him, he’s outmatched everywhere in this fight in all honesty.

Henry has been beaten up on the feet by worse fighters, taken down by worse wrestlers and dominated on the ground by lesser grapplers. Barcelos has never really had a problem with his gas tank and while Henry has never been stopped, but that comes to an end this weekend.
PICK – Raoni Barcelos via Knockout, Round 2

Dustin Stoltzfus (13-3) vs Gerald Meerschaert (33-14) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Prospect vs veteran in the featured prelim bout here. Stoltzfus is on a two-fight losing streak having been pipped to a decision by Kyle Daukaus at UFC 255 before getting submitted by Rodolfo Vieira at UFC Vegas 31. Meerschaert bounced back from his nasty KO against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC Vegas 17 to earn back-to-back submission wins against Bartosz Fabinski at UFC Vegas 24 and then Makhmud Muradov at UFC Vegas 35.

Stoltzfus is a good striker on the feet, using kicks and punches to accumulate volume and eventually put his opponents down. Meerschaert on the other side however is a volume striker too but he uses that to set up his takedowns and jiu-jitsu, with 26 submissions from 31 stoppages in his career. Meerschaert’s chin isn’t what it was, but it’s not totally gone yet. Stoltzfus needs to test it and land clean, hard shots to have a chance because on the mat he’s in big trouble.

Meerschaert will look to close distance, get the fight to the ground and work for submissions early. He will eat a shot to give one though so if Stoltzfus can put him down it won’t be a surprise in the slightest. In the end, I do think Stoltzfus will end up on the ground which is just bad news so it’s hard not to see Meerschaert being successful.
PICK – Gerald Meerschaert via Submission, Round 2

UFC Vegas 32: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw – Early prelims predictions

Arguably the best fight of the year not on a pay-per-view card headlines UFC Vegas 32 this weekend as Cory Sandhagen puts his number one contender status on the line against the returning former champion TJ Dillashaw.

The two were supposed to fight back in May, only for Dillashaw to sustain a cut in training forcing the bout to be postponed. In what should be an incredibly close fight, the winner is likely to get the next title shot against the winner of Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan’s rematch.

Elsewhere on the card, two young female prospects go head-to-head when Miranda Maverick and Maycee Barber square off on the main card in the flyweight division. Knockout sensation Adrian Yanez also returns to the octagon to take on Randy Costa too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 31, we went 7/10 with one perfect pick on the night to move up to 370/576 (64.24%) with 164 perfect picks (44.32%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.


Diana Belbita (13-6) vs Hannah Goldy (5-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting fight in the 115lbs division to open the card as Belbita looks to return from a two-fight skid against Goldy who hasn’t fought since a defeat in 2019. Belbita’s last two fights were defeats, getting beaten by Molly McCann and then submitted by Liana Jojua at UFC Vegas 1.

Belbita got outgrappled by a fighter who isn’t that great of a grappler last time out and that is worrying. She’s a good striker on her best day and her best attribute is her aggression, something Goldy can struggle against. If the Goldy from the Contender Series shows up with her counter-striking abilities and nimble footwork then she should outwork Belbita.

It’s not a UFC calibre fight in honesty so thankfully it’s on first, but Goldy should take a decision win.
PICK – Hannah Goldy via Decision

Sijara Eubanks (7-6) vs Elise Reed (4-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight fight up next as the experienced Eubanks takes on former Cage Fury champions Elise Reed in her UFC debut. ‘Sarj’ went 2-2 in 2020, with wins over Sarah Moras and Julia Avila at UFC Vegas 10 before back-to-back defeats against Ketlen Vieira at UFC 253 and Pannie Kianzad at UFC Vegas 17. Reed is undefeated in her four fights with two KO’s.

Eubanks is a decent boxer with good power but not the best technique and genuinely world-class grappling but poor takedown offence to set it up. Reed is a striker who throws everything she can into her punches and kicks and often leaves herself to just go to war with her opponent. Reed is a big kicker which could open her up to getting taken down, but Eubanks is just levels ahead of anything Reed has fought before.

I don’t think she has the power to get a stoppage, but she should get a pretty comfortable win here.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Decision

Julio Arce (16-4) vs Andre Ewell (17-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight on the early prelims as Arce and Ewell go head-to-head. Arce is making his first appearance since 2019 and his first at 135lbs since 2016, while Ewell looks to bounce back from defeat to Chris Gutierrez last time out at UFC 258.

Arce is a very talented kickboxer with great fluidity in his strikes, but he’s also a very skilled grappler on the mat too. That will cause problems for Ewell, who is a rangy power striker who struggles to maintain attacks and has had trouble stopping people’s takedowns in the past. On his best day, Ewell has got great skills and can beat a lot of people but the fight last time out showed just how beatable he is.

Arce has got all the skills to earn a victory here, landing better and cleaner strikes and mixing in takedowns for a comfortable win.
PICK – Julio Arce via Decision

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-28)

Fast start to the round from Christos Giagos here as he comes out with a big overhand right hand that goes straight into a level change for a takedown. Minus immediately tries to scramble out but gives up his back and Giagos goes straight into full mount. He’s floating well and landing some good ground and pound, while also threatening with a rear-naked choke relentlessly. Minus gets back up but Giagos is more than comfortable on the feet and gets it back down again as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 for Giagos.

Second round is essentially the exact same thing as first. Complete domination on the ground from Giagos with plenty of attempts at head and arm chokes, rear naked chokes and ground and pound. Minus is being totally controlled but doing just enough to avoid being finished. Potentially 20-16 after two rounds in favour of Giagos.

Third and final round starts in the same way as the previous two, with Giagos circling before eventually securing a takedown that Minus just can’t defend. Minus gets back up this time though as Giagos is clearly fatigued and starts landing some nice jabs and one-twos. Minus lands a stiff uppercut as the fight draws to a close, with Giagos just circling to survive the final 60 seconds. Easy win in the end for Giagos, 30-25 on my scorecard.

Jimmy Flick def Cody Durden via Submission (Triangle choke), Round 1 (3:18)

Great start to the fight from Durden as both fighters exchange strikes before he grabs a takedown and moves quickly to take the back. He lands some decent punches on the ground but Flick gets back to his feet relatively quickly and they separate. Durden looks explosive and lands some big punches, as Flick covers up well and keeps his guard high. Flick goes for a head kick that Durden catches, but Flick turns it into a flying triangle choke! He pulls him into his guard, tightens the choke and gets the tap! Unbelievable! Wow!

PRELIMS

Tafon Nchukwi def Jamie Pickett via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26 x2)

Nchukwi makes a fast start and comes across the cage throwing heavy strikes but Pickett tries to avoid using his speed and mobility. Nchukwi throwing combinations and ending with a head kick a lot, but not landing them. Pickett scores a nice takedown against the cage, but Nchukwi does well to get back to the feet without taking too much damage. Nchukwi gets the fight down to the ground himself and shows good control but Pickett gets back up. Spinning elbow lands from Nchukwi as his cardio seems to be holding up well, with lots of knees to the body landing in clinches too. 10-9 Nchukwi.

Fast start against from Nchukwi as he powers out of the traps with a big overhand right hand. Nchukwi is still pressuring Pickett against the cage and whenever they clinch he starts dirty boxing with lots of body strikes and knees to the body too. Left hand landing a lot from Nchukwi but it’s lacking the big power now, although still doing damage. Pickett lands a nice one-two that snaps Nchukwi’s head back, but then he returns with a right hand of his own. Pickett lands a big four or five punch combination that sends Nchukwi backwards. Pickett comes forward and there’s a big clash of heads as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Nchukwi but he’s slowing a little.

Before the third round starts with the doctor checking out Pickett after the clash of heads but the fight goes on. Nchukwi lands a big left hand out of the gate as the round begins and Pickett looks dazed still. Nchukwi is starting to land more flush now and Pickett is hurt. Big knees to the body against the cage again followed by a big left elbow and Pickett is down! Big ground and pound from Nchukwi but Pickett is covering up well and surviving. Nchukwi lets him back up to his feet into the final minute and continues to walk him down looking for a finish. Great fight, but that’s a 10-8 for Nchukwi and a big win. 30-26 for me.

Taila Santos def Gillian Robertson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 29-28)

A quick start to the fight for Robertson as the two end up in a clinch against the cage and she goes for a flying armbar quickly! Santos is in danger but she stays calm and eventually gets out of the position and ends up in full guard, controlling the position and landing some nice ground and pound. Robertson throwing elbows from her back to create space and damage but Santos is doing well to nullify her. Robertson tries to scramble back up to her feet but once agains Santos is able to over-power her and land strikes on the ground to see the round out. 10-9 Santos.

Second round begins and once again a clinch against the cage ends up with Taila Santos on top and landing some nice short shots to the face. Santos ties her up and ends up on top with a reverse triangle choke with the legs, but Robertson defends really well and escapes into top position. Santos slides out of the back and ends up back on top once again, landing strikes and making Robertson very uncomfortable. Impressive round from Santos. 20-18.

Santos comes out in the third round and lands two nice punches, showing her striking chops, before Robertson throws a head kick and goes for a takedown. She ends up catching Santos in a guillotine, but the Brazilian stays patient and escapes, ending up back against the cage in top position. More short strikes from Santos as Robertson keeps working for a submission but nothing is working. Robertson finally manages to isolate an arm and rolls through for an armbar but Santos fights out of it once again and ends the round taking the back of Robertson. Dominant performance from the Brazilian. 30-27 Santos.

Deron Winn def Antonio Arroyo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Explosive start from Arroyo as he comes in with some powerful strikes before Winn hits an early takedown. Arroyo scrambles back to his feet but then Winn gets another takedown early. A third and fourth takedown follow as the pattern of this fight continues as we pass the halfway point. Arroyo throws up an armbar attempt and then gets back to his feet once Winn escapes. He lands a big knee to the face and then a combo that hurts Winn, but he steps back and recovers. Arroyo starts stalking with hands low, but Winn looks for another takeodwn. Again Arroyo gets to the feet and lands a nasty front kick to the face but Winn eats it and gets another takedown as the round ends. 10-9 Winn but Arroyo looks more likely to win it at this rate.

Winn opens up the round with a wheel kick attempt that misses before landing a takedown, which he sees keep Arroyo down a little longer this time but Arroyo eventually gets back up to his feet. The round continues with the same pattern of Winn landing lots of takedowns and Arroyo getting back to his feet and landing nice strikes before going down again. Arroyo is exhausted at this point, throwing lazy kicks and accepting the position on his back while Winn lays on top to take a breather also.

Third round and once again Winn continues to blast takedown after takedown, taking him into double figures officially for the fight. Arroyo is exhausted and is accepting the position, being lazy off his back throwing up-kicks before Winn lets him back up. A nice head kick lands but Winn just goes straight back in for another takedown as we enter the final 30 seconds of the fight. They get back to the feet and Arroyo lands a body kick as the round comes to an end. Should be a win for Deron Winn.

Pannie Kianzad def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A strong start for Eubanks as she lands a flurry of punches before getting the takedown at the first attempt. Lots of floating position and some good strikes from top control as Kianzad is clearly at a disadvantage in these instances. Eubanks controls the entire round with top control and ends the round taking the back of Kianzad, but she runs out of time before she can sink in a choke. 10-9 Eubanks.

Kianzad starts the second round well, landing some good strikes and then defend against the takedown attempt from Eubanks. Kianzad lands some nice knees to the body in the clinch and some good body shots that are doing some damage. Eubanks blasts a takedown and gets it but Kianzad immediately throws up her guard and defends. She looks to sink in an armbar from her back but Eubanks escapes well and Kianzad manages to get back to her feet. A few more body shots land and the round ends with Kianzad throwing elbows to the side of the head as she defends a takedown. 19-19, big round incoming.

Third round continues from where the second left off, as Kianzad keeps the fight standing and starts landing some nice jabs. Eubanks looks laboured now but then lands a big right hand on Kianzad that gets her attention. Kianzad throwing knees to the body again and her jab is landing but Eubanks is walking forward. Both women exchange jabs in the centre before a wild left hook misses the target completely. Final minute now as Eubanks lands a right hand before Kianzad steps in and out landing a nice one-two. Big left hook from Eubanks lands but Kianzad responds with a hook of her own. Fight comes to an end with the women exchanging blows in the centre. 29-28 Kianzad for me but that’s a great fight.

Anthony Pettis def Alex Morono via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A blistering start to this fight as Morono charges across the cage and gets an immediate takedown with a hook in to take the back. He starts raining down huge punches and busts the nose of Pettis early. Body lock tightens as Morono looks for a rear naked choke, but Pettis rotates into him and reverses the position well before getting back up to his feet. Pettis starts flicking out strikes, looking for his big left hand but Morono countering well and forcing Pettis to move backwards. Big spinning kick from Pettis lands clean to the chest but Morono eats it and continues to come forward. Morono goes for another takedown and drags Pettis down to the mat but Pettis reverses it perfectly and ends the round on top. 10-9 Morono but great fight so far.

Fast paced start for the second round as Pettis comes out looking for jabs and kicks but Morono still coming forward. He’s beginning to slow down now a bit though as Pettis looks for a huge spinning elbow but hits fresh air. Pettis throwing some nice leg kicks and a straight left that is causing Morono some trouble, as Pettis throws an axe-kick that grazes the face of Morono. Body kick from Morono as he continues to come forward, but Pettis is landing shots and avoiding any big damage coming back his way. Body kick lands and then a jab from Pettis as both men look for spinning attacks at the end of the round. 19-19, Pettis looking good right now.

Morono lands a nice strike to open the round, before Pettis throws another axe kick that grazes the head. Pettis turns his back after a strike attempt and Morono charges for a takedown, but Pettis rolls through and ends up on top in control. Pettis doing brilliant work to remain on top, stacking Morono against the cage and landing short shots to stay busy. Morono battles back to his feet but Pettis controlling head position and landing knees to the body as we enter the final minute. Separation from the clinch and Morono charges forward with a flurry, but Pettis responds with a clean uppercut. Spinning wheel kick lands to the top of the head by Pettis and Morono is wobbled! Pettis charges for the finish and drops him, but then goes for a guillotine which he doesn’t quite get and ends the round on top raining down punches.

MAIN CARD

Marcin Tybura def Greg Hardy via Knockout, Round 2 (4:31)

An interesting start to this fight as both guys looking to fight from range using jabs, while Tybura looking to add a few kicks too. Hardy lands a nice right hand but Tybura eats it and throws a nice body kick. Hardy lands three big right hands in a row and Tybura is wobbled! Hardy slows it down again and Tybura goes for a single leg takedown but it’s defended well. Hardy then lands SEVEN heavy right hands in a row that really hurts Tybura but the round comes to an end. Best we’ve seen Hardy. 10-9.

Better start to the round for Tybura this time as he starts to time the shots of Hardy and countering well. He’s walking Hardy down and throwing kicks and jabs, feinting takedowns constantly too. Tybura shoots in for a takedown this time against the cage and Hardy defends it well at first before ending up flat on his back. Tybura flattens Hardy out onto his back and starts throwing bombs down! Hardy starts covering up and Tybura keeps punching until the referee stops the fight! Big comeback win for the Polish fighter!

Rob Font def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 1 (3:47)

Explosive start to the fight from Font as he comes out with two big hooks, which makes Moraes change levels and get a takedown quickly. Font manages to reverse the position and lands some nice knees to the body, but then Moraes picks him up and slams him down and takes control from top position. Font gets back to his feet and Moraes lands a nice head kick that sends Font backwards. Font then throws some bombs that rock Moraes and he drops him with a beautiful uppercut. He jumps on him for the ground and pound and the referee stops it! Wow! What a knockout!

Michel Pereira def Khaos Williams via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A very tactical start to the fight with both guys throwing feints and just testing their range for the opening minute. Pereira throws a big one-two and a front kick to the body that connects hard, but Khaos doesn’t flinch. Halfway through the round, Khaos throws some leg kicks as the two clinch and separate quickly. Body kick from Pereira is caught by Khaos and the throws a big one-two that wobbles Pereira. Another front kick by Pereira is caught and another big right hook lands flush, but Pereira eats it and continues to come forward. Right hand lands by Pereira now and he follows it up with a knee up the middle. Flying knee attempt at the end from Pereira but it’s a tight round. 10-9 Khaos.

Another slow start to this round, but it bursts into life as Pereira counters a low kick with a straight right hand flush on the chin. Khaos comes forward and launches a flurry, that leads to a clinch in the centre that ends in a stalemate. Some nice leg kicks land from Khaos and then he starts attacking the body. Pereira responds with a body kick of his own and Khaos charges across the cage throwing punches, landing three in a row to the chin. Clinch against the cage and Pereira throws big knees to the body before they separate. Seconds to go and Pereira jumps on the back and sinks in a rear-naked choke, but runs out of time. Super close round, 20-18 Khaos for me though.

Fancy footwork from Pereira as he looks to get in and out with powerful strikes, but Khaos is throwing hooks that are landing too. Pereira goes for a weird mule-kick but misses completely and then Khaos throws a flurry of shots to the body and head. Pereira throws a body kick again and then changes levels to secure a takedown. Pereira tries to pass into mount but Khaos defends well and gets back to his feet as we enter the final minute. Khaos eats a kick to the head and then Pereira changes levels again and gets another takedown, ending the round with lots of ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Khaos at the end for me but could go either way.

Jose Aldo def Marlon Vera via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Tense start to the fight as Vera and Aldo stand in boxing range and exchange leg kicks early before Vera initiates a clinch against the cage. Aldo eats some knees to the thigh before reversing the position and separating. Big left hook to the body from Aldo gets a reaction from Vera and he throws it again shortly after. Straight right and a big leg kick from Aldo followed by a third body shot, as Vera throws straight kicks to the lead leg of Aldo. Vera throws a head kick which Aldo avoids then throws a big body shot and right hook combo. 10-9 Aldo as the round ends.

Aldo starts the second round with another big left body shot followed by a right hand to the head. Vera still throwing that stabbing leg kick to Aldo’s lead leg, but Aldo is countering with good head shots. Aldo catches a body kick and Vera spins and lands a back fist, moving out of range of Aldo’s counter at the same time. Clinch against the cage as Vera throws knees to the thigh, then looks for a trip. Aldo stays on the feet and throws a knee to the body before they clinch up again against the cage. Better round for Vera there, could well be even.

Vera charges across the cage to start strong but misses a strike and Aldo latches on to the back and locks in a body triangle. He jumps up to the back and eventually flattens Vera out, before eventually rolling through as he looks for a rear-naked choke. Vera is battling the position but Aldo controlling from the back. Vera manages to stand up with Aldo still on his back and walks him over to his corner, slamming him down, but Aldo keeps the body triangle synched up. Aldo keeps the back for the rest of the round and threatens the choke but the buzzer goes and that’s that. Should be an Aldo win.

Stephen Thompson def Geoff Neal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)

Competitive start to the fight from both men as Wonderboy manages the distance expertly as usual, using kicks and jabs. Neal marching him down, looking to close distance to then explode with flurries of strikes but Wonderboy landing combos and then evading. Wonderboy looks very sharp, landing good strikes. Both men go for an exchange of strikes but clash heads, opening up a cut on both men just above their eyes. Fight is paused for a short while but only lasts for another 5 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Wonderboy.

Neal comes out in the second round and looks to engage in a clinch, but Wonderboy defends well and they separate quickly. Wonderboy then lands a stiff one-two down the middle, followed by some clean body kicks. Neal responds with a body kick of his own but Wonderboy counters with short strikes and stabbing body kicks. Straight right lands from Wonderboy as he continues to evade Neal’s attacks with excellent footwork. Neal traps Wonderboy against the cage and finally lands a big left hand, but Wonderboy eats it and responds with a strike of his own to end the round. 20-18 Wonderboy.

Wonderboy continues in the third as he has gone in the first and second so far with good kicking and nice one-twos before moving out of the way. Neal closes the distance and gets a clinch position against the cage, throwing knees to the thigh. Wonderboy swivels and separates well and goes back to landing strikes from range. Both throwing jabs, with Neal landing a couple of nice ones in particular before another clinch against the cage with Neal leaning on Wonderboy, but the veteran separates well then lands a lovely combination. Big straight right hand from Wonderboy lands twice before Neal lands a big left hand just before the buzzer. 30-27 Wonderboy.

More of the same in this fourth round, with Wonderboy using his jab perfectly. Big right hand lands flush and Neal looks like he’s hurt, so Wonderboy lands three more. Nice body kick lands on Neal, that causes an audible burp in the octagon, but Neal is just being outclassed right now. Clinch situation against the cage at the end of the round, Wonderboy is cleaning up right now. He ends the round with what looks like a knee injury though… 40-36.

Final round and Neal comes out aggressive, throwing his big left hand and Wonderboy is clearly compromised by that injured leg. Big exchange against the cage and both men land some big bombs but nobody flinches yet. Body shots from Wonderboy as Neal gets a clinch against the cage. Big body shots from Neal with 70 seconds left as they separate in the clinch, Wonderboy steps forward with a couple of right hands of his own. Neal lands two clean shots but Wonderboy returns with shots of his own as they trade in the centre of the cage to end the round. Great fight, vintage Wonderboy performance. 50-45 for me.

UFC Vegas 17: Thompson vs Neal – Prelims Predictions

The final UFC card of the year looks to end 2020 with a bang with a welterweight main event that could decide on a new contender for the belt.

Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Geoff Neal step into the headline slot following the collapse of the fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. Neal is looking to extend his win streak against the highest level of competition he has faced, knowing a win puts him into the top five conversation.

Elsewhere on the card Jose Aldo looks for his first win at bantamweight against Marlon Vera in the co-main, on a card that has an insane 14 fights on the night.

Last week at UFC 256, we had a poor showing as we scored just 4/10 on the night on a night of incredible fights. That moved us to 185/292 (63.36%) with 80 perfect picks (43.24%) since starting predictions back in June.

With so many fights the predictions will be split into three parts this week, starting with the early prelims here and now with the rest of the prelim card.

PRELIMS

Gillian Robertson (9-4) vs Taila Santos (16-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Gillian Robertson was supposed to face off against Andrea Lee at this event while Taila Santos was supposed to fight against Montana De La Rosa at UFC Vegas 16, only for both to fall out and the women agree to face each other instead. Robertson has won her last two, submitting Courtney Casey in June before outclassing Poliana Botelho back in October. Taila Santos destroyed Molly McCann in July after losing her UFC debut to Mara Romero Borella. Santos is a very good striker who has a jiu-jitsu black belt, although we’ve not really seen her go to ground so far in her UFC career. If Robertson can get a takedown and dominate from the top, she will be confident of coming away with a comfortable win. If Santos is able to deny the takedowns though, she has a massive edge on the feet and will pick Robertson off. It’s all about the takedown and I think Santos will be able to deny the attacks of the 25-year-old and get the win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Deron Winn (6-2) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-3) – (Catchweight/195lbs)

A return to the octagon for Deron Winn following consecutive defeats, sees him come in against short-notice step in Antonio Arroyo in a catchweight bout. Arroyo won twice on Dana White’s Contender Series before getting a contract, only to be beaten in his debut by Andre Muniz in November 2019. Winn is a wrestler by trade and has come under the wing of former double-champ Daniel Cormier but has struggled to make his wrestling impactful so far in the UFC. Arroyo is a fine striker, who is often brought into camps for the opponents of Thiago Santos due to their style similarities. He has a nine-inch height advantage and a three-and-a-half inch reach advantage but his takedown defence isn’t the greatest. Physically, Winn is stronger but Arroyo is a good scrambler off his back and carries decent power. Winn will eventually be able to get a takedown and control the fight on the ground, but Arroyo definitely has a path to victory here. It will be a close bout that really depends on if Winn can close the distance and get his takedown. I believe he will, so I’ll take him for a career-saving win.
PICK – Deron Winn via Decision

Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A return to the octagon for Karl Roberson following his submission loss in a grudge match against Marvin Vettori back in June, as he takes on Lungiambula who moves down to middleweight after his defeat to Magomed Ankalaev in November 2019. Roberson is a fantastic kickboxer who is also a pretty decent wrestler too, and has fought some top class fighters already. Lungiambula was trying to fight at a more natural weight class at 205lbs but was often undersized and struggled against top wrestlers because of it. This move down is good for him, but Roberson is just a level above him. He outclasses him on the feet by keeping the range and should be able to take him down too if he wants, so should get back into the win column.
PICK – Karl Roberson via Decision

Sijara Eubanks (6-5) vs Pannie Kianzad (14-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A dominant performance against Julia Avila saw Sijara Eubanks make a quick turnaround to fight Ketlen Vieira at UFC 253 just two weeks later. She got beaten in that one, and now looks to close out the year trying to keep her winning record. She comes up against Pannie Kianzad, who has won her last two fights against Jessica-Rose Clark and Bethe Correia on Fight Island in July. Eubanks is a solid wrestler and does her best work in top control but Kianzad has an excellent takedown defence rate. She’s lengthy and a good striker from range and so long as her takedown defence holds up, Kianzad should make it three in a row in a closely contested affair.
PICK – Pannie Kianzad via Decision

Anthony Pettis (23-10) vs Alex Morono (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis recently made the move up to welterweight and holds a knockout win over main eventer Wonderboy Thompson. He then lost to Nate Diaz and Diego Ferreira, before getting back in the win column against Donald Cerrone back in May. He fights out his contract against Alex Morono, who beat young prospect Rhys McKee just last month in a great three round performance. Morono is a good wrestler who prefers to brawl on the feet, but Pettis is arguably the better striker of the two with his excellent kickboxing skills. Should Morono choose to purely wrestle with Pettis and use his jiu-jitsu black belt on the ground he’s capable of getting a win, but with the style that both men tend to employ regularly I’d be surprised if Pettis doesn’t make it consecutive wins at 170lbs.
PICK – Anthony Pettis via Knockout, Round 2

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Danilo Marques def Khadis Ibragimov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Both men step out in tentative fashion and throw feints before Marques shoots in for an immediate takedown attempt. Ibragimov defends against the cage and grabs the fence on his way down and ends up back on his feet quickly, but the referee gives a warning. Another takedown attempt and once again Ibragimov grabs the cage to avoid ending up on the bottom. They get back to the feet and nothing else happens. 10-9 Marques.

Same again in the second round as they face off in the middle with barely any action taking place. Marques goes for a takedown and ends up on the back of Ibragimov but he fights the hands well to avoid a rear naked choke. Marques gets him down and has hooks in but doesn’t look to land any strikes or advance and the buzzer goes. Really weird fight so far. 20-18 Marques.

Final round and both men look exhausted and afraid to throw any strikes whatsoever. Marques goes for the takedown again but doesn’t throw strikes once he gets it, while Ibragimov throws a random burst of hooks every now and then but gets nowhere near landing anything. Really, really bad fight. 29-28 Marques but I’m glad it’s over.

Juan Espino def Jeff Hughes via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 1 (3:48)

Fight starts with a bit more bounce than the opener, with Espino bouncing around the outside looking for an opportunity for his takedown. He throws a big overhand right that lands nicely and then engages in a takedown attempt. He eventually gets it and the two bounce between Hughes getting back up and Espino dragging him back down. Eventually Espino ends up in side control, then transitions to full mount and he jumps over with a scarf-hold super quickly, cranks hard and secures the tap. Beautiful performance from the Spaniard.

PRELIMS

William Knight def Aleksa Camur via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27 x2)

A good first round for Camur here, as Knight opens the round with a takedown attempt that gets stuffed and the rest of the round plays out in a clinch position. Camur hanging with the physicality of Knight well against the cage and landing short knees to the thighs and body but nothing too damaging. The referee separates them with 30 seconds to go and they land some nice strikes, with Knight landing two or three big shots right as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Camur for me.

Second round begins with Camur landing some nice punches and initiating the clinch against the cage once again. A few more knees and then a lovely trip gets Knight down to the ground and he looks to take the back but Knight rolls through and ends up on top after a scramble. Camur gets back up but Knight takes him down a few more times and tries to frame off for ground and pound, but Camur defends well. Knight transitions to the back and lands some nice shots and then gets into full mount and rips a nasty kimura but the buzzer goes before Camur has to tap! 19-19 going into the final round.

Third round starts and again it goes to a clinch almost immediately but this time Knight is on top. Another short scramble sees them back to the feet and in a clinch against the cage and the referee warns them to start fighting or he’ll reset. Immediately Knight goes for another takedown and the rest of the round sees him on top controlling and landing ground and pound strikes. 29-28 Knight for me.

Ludovit Klein def Shane Young via Knockout, Round 1 (1:16)

THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE! The fight starts with some body kicks from Klein, then he follows it up with a right hand and big left high-kick that wobbles Young! He lands a beautiful three-punch combo immediately afterwards that knocks Young unconscious and this one is over! Wow. What a debut!

Jake Matthews def Diego Sanchez via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)

Sanchez opens the round by rushing across the cage and getting lamped twice by the right hand of Matthews, who then catches a kick and lands a couple more shots. Matthews staying on the outside and landing at will almost with a straight right hand, while Sanchez is throwing heavily landed leg kicks that are being easily avoided. Sanchez continuing to try and rush in with hooks but Matthews is countering well with his right hand. Sanchez shoots for a takedown but Matthews sprawls and then shoots for one of his own and ends the round in top position. 10-9 Matthews.

Second round and Sanchez lands a couple of nice leg kicks but Matthews staying very patient. The straight right hand is still landing pretty much at will and Sanchez now has a bloody nose to contend with too. Sanchez loading up with all his strikes way too much and Matthews dealing with them all relatively easily. Big, wild exchange against the cage as Matthews lands a nice combination then evades Sanchez’s big hooks. Inside leg kick by Sanchez is countered by a beautiful left hook from Matthews that wobbles the veteran and Matthews pouring on the pressure now. Again Sanchez rushes in and Matthews lands a right hand to counter it. 20-18 Matthews, he’s making easy work of this.

Final round and Sanchez rushes across with a crane kick attempt that misses wildly. Matthews lands a big straight right hand that drops Sanchez. He scoots back to the cage and covers up as Matthews lands bombs on the ground and cuts Sanchez open above the eye really badly. Sanchez trying to control posture from the bottom to avoid damage but Matthews throwing big bombs down. Sanchez defends and throws up an armbar but Matthews defends well and gets back into full guard to throw more hard shots on the ground to finish the round strong. 10-8 round, 30-26 for me.

Brad Riddell def Alex Da Silva via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Very competitive first round as Da Silva lands an early takedown and manages to keep the fight on the ground for the most part. Riddell defends well and tries to get back to his feet, but Da Silva seems too strong physically at this point and is able to drag him back down. Riddell get back up and breaks away then Da Silva manages to catch the neck in a clinch and goes for a guillotine but he never really gets it in and the round ends. 10-9 Da Silva.

Riddell comes out very aggressive in the second round and lands some nice strikes but then once again Da Silva gets hold of him and takes him to the cage with a single leg. Riddell defends superbly well and manages to stay up and then lands some nice shots on the feet. Da Silva looks for another takedown but doesn’t get it and eats a straight right hand. Riddell drops down for a takedown of his own but lets it go and lands a nice right hand. Riddell has the clear advantage on the feet and Da Silva is starting to slow down a bit, so Riddell shoots for a takedown of his own but Da Silva gets back up almost immediately. Da Silva fires in for a takedown again but Riddell sprawls perfectly and keeps the fight on the feet for the final 20 seconds of the round. Much better round for Riddell, 19-19.

Third round and Riddell is landing some nice strikes to start as Da Silva comes out a little slower than the previous two rounds. Riddell sprawls to stuff a takedown once again to keep the fight on the feet and he’s landing his right hook well. Da Silva moves in for a takedown against the cage and is looking to clinch but Riddell separates and goes back to striking in the pocket. The referee pauses the fight after an apparent eye-poke by Riddell but the replays show it was a clean punch. Fight restarts and Da Silva goes for a takedown again but Riddell defends well and scrambles back to his feet. More punches to that damaged eye with a minute to go but Da Silva is fighting through it. Riddell goes for a takedown against the cage but it’s stuffed and the fight ends. Should be a Riddell decision win 29-28.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu def Zubaira Tukhugov via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

Tentative round to open the main card as both guys try to feel each other out for the most part. Lots of feints, jabs and leg kicks to start with but Tukhugov landing a bit more often and a bit cleaner. Tukhugov more aggressive, advancing more and being first but neither fighter lands anything of much significance in the opening round. 10-9 Tukhugov.

Dawodu comes out in the second round and lands a nice body kick followed up by a spinning heel kick to the body too. Tukhugov is avoiding the leg kicks well but Dawodu lands a nice right hook to the chin. Both men starting to throw a little bit more freely in this round as Tukhugov lands a big left hand that is returned with a right hand from Dawodu. Right hook by Tukhugov lands but Dawodu counters with a left kick. Both men landing shots simultaneously ad Tukhugov shoots for a takedown but Dawodu defends well against the cage. Dawodu lands a nice body shot but Tukhugov shoots for a takedown and gets it and ends up on the back of Dawodu landing some light ground and pound to end the round. The takedown may have stolen the round for Tukhugov but could easily be level going into round 3.

Dawodu comes out in the final round and goes straight for some leg kicks. Tukhugov moving well but Dawodu lands more leg kicks and body shots. Tukhugov not really engaging at all and instead just circling around the cage, but Dawodu just following him instead. Dawodu erupts in anger screaming at Tukhugov to fight him but he continues to just circle. Round ends with nothing happening. 29-28 Tukhugov for me but it all comes down to the second round for me.

Ketlen Vieira def Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

A tentative opening round between the two ladies of the card. Vieira comes out immediately looking to clinch but Eubanks defends well and manages to break. Both women landing singular shots, with Vieira using her reach advantage well and landing the jab frequently. Eubanks employing the ‘punches in bunches’ style and doing well, before she stuffs another takedown attempt from Vieira. The Brazilian lands a beautiful combo of punches before shooting for a takedown and securing it at the end of the round. 10-9 Vieira.

Vieira comes out in the second ground aggressive once again and gets another takedown. Up against the cage and Vieira is looking for ground and pound strikes but Eubanks doing well to tie her up and control her arms to not allow her to throw any strikes. The referee stands them back up and they stand toe-to-toe in a striking match now, with Vieira using her long limbs to land first and hard as the round comes to an end. 20-18 Vieira.

Final round and Eubanks knows she needs the finish. She comes out throwing combinations but Vieira is using her length really well to land first or counter when Eubanks hits her. More punches from both women land as they exchange wildly but Vieira making sure she avoids any serious damage. The women end up on the ground in the final seconds as Vieira looks for a leg lock submission but the buzzer goes with Eubanks landing some ground and pound. 29-28 Vieira for me.

Brandon Royval def Kai Kara France via Submission (Guillotine), Round 2 (0:38)

Brandon Royval comes flying out of the traps and eats a leg kick from Kara France that sits him down. He gets back up and walks towards Kara France and eats a huge right overhand on the chin that drops him! He stands back and throws a spinning elbow that catches Kara-France flush and knocks him down! He tries to lock up an omoplata submission but Kara France comes back around and manages to fight his way out of it. They get back to their feet and start throwing hell for leather. Royval lands a knee against the cage that drops Kara France again but he survives the round. What a fight! 10-9 Royval.

Second round starts and Kara France goes in for a takedown and lifts Royval, but he locks up the neck and sinks in a standing guillotine! Kara France drops down to the mat, Royval makes an adjustment with his legs to tighten it and gets the tap! What a performance!

Jan Blachowicz def Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:36)

A very cagey opening round for this fight as both men look to feel each other out early on. Both men throwing leg kicks and counter straights but nothing significant landing early. Blachowicz lands a beautiful body kick below the elbow that visibly marks Reyes up but other than that a pretty slow round. 10-9 Blachowicz.

A slow start once again to this second round as both guys are feeling each other out still, making reads and feinting. Reyes lands a body kick nicely but Blachowicz returns with one of his own. Blachowicz charges forward with big combos and shatters the nose of Reyes! Reyes tries to slug it out looking for a knockout but Blachowicz lands another big left hand that drops him! The Pole jumps on top and lands some ground and pound before the referee steps in. New champion!

Israel Adesanya def Paulo Costa via Knockout, Round 2 (3:59)

Cagey start to this title fight too as Adesanya attacks the legs of Costa early with teep kicks and calf kicks. Costa taking the centre but Adesanya staying light on his feet and evading Costa’s kick attempts. Both fighters taunting each other but it’s Adesanya doing damage. 10-9 to the champ.

Second round shows more of Adesanya’s kickboxing class as he stays at range and continues to chew up the leg of Costa. Costa is struggling with his movement and Adesanya is starting to land punches to the head. Big head kick from Adesanya cuts Costa open above the eye. Costa charges forward now looking to be aggressive, but Adesanya evades and lands a big right hand to the temple that drops Costa! Adesanya goes knee on belly and lands huge shots to the head and the referee steps in! AAAAND STILL!! What a masterclass.

UFC 253: Adesanya vs Costa – Main Card Predictions

The UFC makes their long awaited return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend as they prepare for double title fight at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz will square off in the octagon for the vacant light heavyweight championship in the co-main event, while the card is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s second defence of his middleweight title against rival Paulo Costa.

With 11 fights scheduled, we’re back to a standard sized fight card after last weekend’s stacked 14 fight card. For my predictions last time out, I managed to get a respectable 10/14 with four perfect picks (winner, method, round).

I have already predicted the prelims of this card here and will look to try and improve my total this time around.

MAIN CARD

Hakeem Dawodu (11-1-1) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A real toss-up of a fight to open the main card as these two up and coming featherweights face off. Dawodu is currently on a four-fight win streak, having beaten Austin Arnett, Kyle Bochniak, Yoshinori Hori and Julio Arce while Tukhugov has a win, a loss and a draw in his last three bouts. Both fighters are pretty well rounded all-in-all and could go either way. Dawodu has a power advantage on the feet but Tukhugov has a ground advantage, although Dawodu has excellent takedown defence to combat that. With just half an inch reach between the two also, there really is barely anything between the two fighters. If I had to pick, I’d side with Tukhugov simply because if he can get the fight to the ground then he should be able to control the fight from there but this could genuinely go either way.
PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Unanimous Decision

Ketlen Vieira (10-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (6-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Another razor close match up here, this time in the women’s bantamweight division. Ketlen Vieira makes her first appearance since December last year where she was beaten by Irene Aldana, while Sijara Eubanks makes a quick turnaround following her win over Julia Avila just two weeks ago. Vieira is a rangy striker who uses her striking to land takedowns and top control, where she can work for submissions, while Eubanks is a kickboxer with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Vieira has a natural size advantage and has great takedowns, something that Eubanks could struggle with considering the way she won her last bout but as a black belt she will feel that she is capable of hanging with her opponent. The fight essentially comes down to who lands heavier on the feet and who ends up on top on the ground. With a wave of momentum on her side, I’ll go with Sijara Eubanks but her fights are notoriously hard to pick.
PICK – Sijara Eubanks via Unanimous Decision

Kai Kara-France (21-8 1NC) vs Brandon Royval (11-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A flyweight bout between two very exciting prospects in the division as Kai Kara-France makes his first appearance since February’s win over Tyson Nam when he takes on Brandon Royval. Royval won his UFC debut on short-notice against Tim Elliot back in May when he ragdolled the veteran and ended up submitting him. This is a fight between two very good fighters who are looking to work their way up the rankings. Kara-France is the better striker of the two marginally and has the better wrestling, while Royval’s jiu-jitsu is mightily impressive. The issue for Royval is that because of the wrestling edge Kara-France has, the best chance he has of getting this to the ground to work his submissions is via a knockdown. That’s unlikely in my eyes so I think Kara-France is able to out-strike his opponent on the feet to a fairly comfortable but entertaining decision win.
PICK – Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision

Dominick Reyes (12-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (26-8) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The new era in the light heavyweight division begins with this fight, as a new champion will be crowned. Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon for the first time since his controversial defeat to Jon Jones back in February while Blachowicz comes in on a three-fight win streak following wins over Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza and Corey Anderson. Reyes is a powerful southpaw fighter, who’s boxing caused so many problems for Jon Jones in his last fight. He has amazing power but also tremendous footwork to evade attacks, plus a fierce body kick. His takedown defence was on show in that fight too as Jones went 2/9 on takedown attempts. Blachowicz is a more aggressive wrestler than Jones, although I wouldn’t say he’s better. He’s got scary power in his hands too but he tends to prefer securing takedowns and using his jiu-jitsu game. If he employs those tactics again, Reyes will look to use that same defence that he used against Jones and if he lands as much this time around as he did in his last fight he will surely land the knockout in this one.
PICK – Dominick Reyes via Knockout, Round 3

Israel Adesanya (19-0) vs Paulo Costa (13-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The fight of the year. The middleweight title crown is up for grabs but also both men put their undefeated records on the line in this one. Adesanya is 19-0 having beaten Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum in his last three bouts while Costa beat Romero, Uriah Hall and Johnny Hendricks in his last three. There will be no grappling in this bout, that much is almost guaranteed. Adesanya is a former world kickboxing champion while Costa is one of the most powerful punchers in the entire company. Costa has a tendency to tuck his chin in and just storm forward, happy to eat punches in order to give some back. He loves to rip to the body in combinations before throwing hooks to the head, something Adesanya will look to avoid by not getting stuck up against the cage. Adesanya will look to use his feet to maintain some distance but he will use his speed advantage to land strikes in the inevitable wild exchanges that Costa will look to force. Interestingly enough, despite both of these men being fierce knockout artists I don’t think this fight ends in a knockout. We’ve seen that both of these guys are ready for war and do possess a chin to go with their striking and I think that while there will be some wobbly moments for both guys, Adesanya’s movement and fight IQ will see him come out on top on the judges scorecards.
PICK – Israel Adesanya via Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 10: Waterson vs Hill – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Sabina Mazo def Justine Kish via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (3:57)

Kish comes out to start the round super aggressively, charging in with wild swings and some heavy leg kicks. Mazo uses her reach well to get away and land nice shots of her own, before a big head kick settles the fight down. Kish trying to use speed to get inside and land but Mazo staying calm and eating the leg kicks but landing some jabs. 30 seconds to go and Kish catches a kick and takes the fight to the ground but good defence sees nothing land as the round ends. 10-9 Mazo.

Kish aggressive once again in this second round and the leg kicks are starting to add up now. Mazo looks timid and hesitant to throw shots from range and Kish using her speed well to step in and land well. She seems to be the more powerful of the two but she is struggling with the range to make them really count. As the round goes on Kish seems to be getting stronger while Mazo looks a little lost. 19-19, all to play for in the final round.

Mazo using her reach really well in this round, landing two more big head kicks and the jab very effectively. Kish continuing to push forward with leg kicks and strikes on the inside but Mazo’s reach causing a lot more problems now. Big head kick lands again and Kish is down! Mazo pounces on the back and goes for the rear naked choke and eventually sinks it in for the tap. Huge win for Mazo!

Bryan Barbarena def Anthony Ivy via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

The whole first half of the first round is essentially Anthony Ivy trying to complete his first takedown attempt of the night. Barbarena defends really well against the cage and lands some nothing shots to distract Ivy but manages to stay on his feet throughout. Barbarena then comes forward and lands some nice shots that see Ivy turtle up in a defensive mode, trying to get away. Ivy wants absolutely nothing to do with this stand-up battle and lands a big takedown 30 seconds before the end of the round. 10-9 Barbarena.

Second round is more of the same as Ivy looks intent on getting a takedown but Barbarena is defending brilliantly and landing nice return shots of his own. Every time he lands Ivy looks hurt, but he then returns fire with a shot of his own. Bam Bam’s cardio looks much better as the round draws to a close and he starts walking Ivy down landing elbows. 20-18 Barbarena.

Final round and Ivy lands a takedown inside the first minute and Barbarena is seen clearly mouthing “sh*t!”. He gets back to his feet quickly and starts landing heavy shots yet again. Every time there’s any type of exchange, Ivy shoots for a takedown quickly and Barbarena defends them mostly. The pattern continues for the rest of the round until the end. 30-27 Bam Bam for me.

PRELIMS

Jalin Turner def Brok Weaver via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (4:20)

A fun start to the round as Turner comes out very aggressive and starts lighting up Weaver early. Lightning quick jabs and crosses bust up the nose of Weaver and Turner looks really sharp. Fight settles down with Turner throwing jabs and Weaver throwing leg kicks before Turner throws a big right hand that drops Weaver! He jumps on him looking to finish but good defending by Weaver gets him back to his feet and he scores a takedown of his own as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Turner.

A slower pace to the second round as both fighters look to use the jab more. Turner is quicker and more powerful than Weaver but Brok is trying hard to stay in this fight. Heading into the final 90 seconds of the round and Turner lands a beautiful right uppercut and right hook combo that drops Weaver! Turner walks off as if the fight is over but the referee doesn’t wave it off so he stands the fight back up. Turner puts Weaver down again, lands some ground and pound and then sinks in a rear naked choke for the win.

Alexandr Romanov def Roque Martinez via Submission (Head & Arm Choke), Round 2 (4:22)

What a crazy round that is. Romanov comes out with a scary offence immediately and goes straight for the takedown. Martinez fights it and gets back up but then Romanov just throws him across the octagon with a german suplex. Huge ground and pound from full mount has the referee looking at stopping the fight but Martinez survives. A straight armbar attempt almost secures a tap but Martinez guts it out and survives the round. 10-8 Romanov.

More of the same in this second round. Romanov gets an early takedown and lands more huge ground and pound strikes. He’s levelled off the pace slightly and not being so gung-ho, but Martinez has absolutely no answers for him. This is heading for another 10-8 round but then Romanov locks up a head and arm choke, squeezes real tight and gets the tap. What a performance.

Kevin Croom def Roosevelt Roberts via Submission (Standing Guillotine), Round 1 (0:31)

WOW! Roberts comes out aggressively but Croom slips a shot, lands a nice straight to the body and then a massive left hook that drops Roberts! He pounces, locks up the neck in a modified guillotine before adjusting the grip for the tap! Amazing!

Sijara Eubanks def Julia Avila via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x3)

Really fun first round there! Avila came out charged up and started swinging for the fences early and Eubanks engaged with her. They both landed huge bombs and Eubanks was forced to pull out of the firefight and charged forward with a big takedown. Nice battle on the ground and Avila got back to her feet before getting a takedown of her own and doing her own good work on the mat. Fun, competitive round. 10-9 Avila.

Avila comes out strong in the second round again, having a lot of success with her right cross. She goes for a front kick but Eubanks catches it and takes the fight to the ground once again. Good grappling battle on the mat but Eubanks showing her jiu-jitsu credentials and dominating the transitions on the floor. Several submission attempts by Eubanks but Avila defending with everything she has and the round ends with Eubanks landing ground and pound. Could be a 10-8 round for Eubanks. 19-19 for me.

More of the same in round 3 as Avila comes out looking for a war on the feet but Eubanks survives it and then gets the fight down to the ground. Avila scoots towards the fence trying to get up but Eubanks strong on top and controlling the position. A flat third round as Eubanks looks to ride it out and stays safe throughout and takes the win. 29-28.

MAIN CARD

Billy Quarantillo def Kyle Nelson via Knockout, Round 3 (0:07)

Nelson comes out firing in this one with a big overhand right that catches Quarantillo flush but he eats it well. Nice leg kicks by Billy land but Nelson charges forward with a nice body shot combo into a clinch/takedown attempt. Quarantillo defends it well and after more leg kicks gets a takedown of his own. Nelson gets back to his feet but Quarantillo lands a knee to the groin against the fence which causes a stop in the action. Nelson recovers nice and quickly and the round comes to an end. Close round but I’ve got it 10-9 Billy Q.

Second round is much of the same, but Quarantillo starting to turn the pace up a bit and Nelson is starting to tire a bit. Quarantillo marching forward with more takedown attempts and some big elbows in the clinch against the cage but Nelson is returning fire when he can. Quarantillo turning it on now and pushing forward and ends the round in dominant ground and pound. 20-18 Quarantillo.

Round 3 starts, Quarantillo lands a HUGE right hand and it’s all over. 7 second round. What a punch, great performance from Billy Q.

Bobby Green def Alan Patrick via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A fast paced round as Patrick tries to fly into a takedown attempt but Green bounces off the cage and ends up on top. Green lands some nice ground and pound before they get back to the feet and Green lifts and slams him back onto the mat. More ground and pound as Patrick throws up an armbar but Green defends well. Round comes to an end as both men get back to their feet and Green lands a nice right hand that puts Patrick down to one knee. 10-9 Green.

More of the same in round 2 as Green proves too big and too strong for Patrick in every department. The fight stays on the feet for the most part with Green keeping his hands low and staying out of range of Patrick. A nice right hand with 30 seconds to go drops Patrick again and then Green goes for a Thai clinch with knees but Patrick avoids it as the buzzer goes. 20-18 Green, Patrick needs a finish.

Third and final round and Patrick knows he needs a finish. He comes forward looking for a takedown again but Green uses his power to switch positions and slam Patrick down to the mat again. Nice ground and pound keeps the time ticking over but Patrick rolls through and they get back to the feet. Green cruising through the round with his hands down and landing right straights at will but not really pushing for a finish here as the round comes to a close. Should be a comfortable decision for Green.

Ed Herman def Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Kimura), Round 3 (2:41)

An interesting first round between these two as both men use the clinch to their advantage. Rodriguez using his huge reach advantage by throwing out push kicks like jabs to maintain the range, while Herman is using leg kicks to try and close the distance. Rodriguez throwing big knees in the Thai clinch and throwing heavy elbows on the break too. He lands a massive elbow to the face that lands flush and Herman is wobbled but Rodriguez follows up with a knee and ends up clinched so Herman survives the round. 10-9 Rodriguez.

All Rodriguez in the second round here. He continues to use that push kick and elbows but he’s really working the body of Herman a lot with knees in the clinch. Rodriguez avoids a takedown attempt and gets back up to his feet quickly. He lands two big knees to the body that drop Herman but the referee calls time for a groin strike. Replays show it was nowhere near the groin but Herman is milking this and takes several minutes to recover. Fight resumes and then Rodriguez drops him again with more body shots but the buzzer goes. 20-18 but this fight should’ve been over already.

Herman comes out looking for a big takedown and gets it early but Rodriguez gets back to his feet and starts landing big elbows to the side of the head and body. Herman ends up going down due to the strikes and Rodriguez looks to land ground and pound but Herman locks up a kimura out of nowhere for the comeback win! Controversy will ensue.

Roxanne Modfferi def Andrea Lee via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

First round is a wild affair as both women keep up a fast pace and exchange strikes and takedowns. Modafferi has top control for slightly longer throughout the round and lands nice ground and pound to take a close first round. 10-9 Modafferi.

Second round is more of the same but Andrea Lee seems to have her timing down a little bit more in this one. Nice jabs and front kicks as well as crosses and hooks see Lee turn the pace up a bit and score the second round for herself. 19-19.

Third round with all to play for with both women pushing the pace once again. Lee lands nice strikes and kicks once again but Modafferi charges forward and secures a takedown halfway through the round. She secures top position and lands some nice ground and pound that while it isn’t putting Lee in any trouble, it’s scoring her points. The fight comes to an end and Modafferi’s takedown has likely got her the win. 29-28 Modafferi.

Ottman Azaitar def Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 1 (1:33)

Fireworks!!! After an initial minute or so of feints and feeling each other out, Azaitar lands a big one-two combo that wobbles Worthy! He moves in for the kill and lands several heavy shots that drop him. He takes the back and lands big shots on the ground and the referee steps in and waves it off. What a win for Azaitar!

Michelle Waterson def Angela Hill via Split Decision (49-46, 48-47, 47-48)

Intriguing opening round here in the main event as Angela Hill shows her punching prowess with some nice right hands causing huge swelling on the head of Waterson. Waterson trying to use her clinch and kicking game but Hill is crowding her and throwing bombs while denying takedown attempts. Hill more physical and in a five-round fight that could be telling. 10-9 Hill.

Second round and Waterson is stringing some nice combos together. She’s throwing jabs followed by front leg kicks to keep range but also threaten with damage. Hill doing well to eat them and continue to step forward though, landing nice overhand rights and jabs of her own. Waterson moving well but Hill cracks her with a nice hook that seems to stun her, but she sees out the round. 19-19, but close second round.

Third round and Hill goes for a push kick to the body but Waterson catches it and trips her for a takedown. She holds top position well and starts to progress with nice ground and pound. She transitions and tries to take the back but Hill defends really well to avoid a submission attempt but eats some big punches for her troubles. As the buzzer is about to go and Waterson lands some more ground and pound, Hill throws an up-kick to a Waterson’s face while she’s down. Referee gives a stern warning but nothing more. 29-28 Waterson for me.

Fourth round now and Waterson is starting to find her rhythm and land kicks and punches much more frequently. Hill continuing to push forward but the energy is clearly draining and she’s not as crisp and sharp as she was. Waterson lands a nice side kick to the body and then a side kick straight to the chin that stuns Hill. Waterson goes for another takedown but Hill denies her as the round comes to an end. 39-37 Waterson for me but could easily be 38-38 going into the final round.

Final round and it’s all up for grabs. Both women come out and exchange kicks as Hill looks to inject her physicality advantage into the fight by walking forward and throwing big punches, but Waterson continues to use her kicks to keep her range. A really even round into the final minute as Hill throws a big overhand that lands flush onto Waterson’s chin and hurts her but she charges forward with some kicks of her own in response. Both women start exchanging big strikes into the final seconds as the buzzer goes. What a fight. 48-47 Waterson for me but could easily go the other way.

UFC Vegas 10: Waterson vs Hill – Prelims Predictions

The UFC looks to get back on track with another card at the APEX in Las Vegas this weekend as Michelle Waterson takes on Angela Hill in the main event.

Originally scheduled to be headlined by Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira, that bout was postponed after Glover tested positive for COVID-19. However after last weeks card fell apart at the last minute and ended up with just 7 fights, the UFC are making up for it with a 12 fight card this weekend.

Of the 7 fights last week, I correctly predicted 6/7 winners, with 2 of the 6 being perfect picks (winner, method, round). There will be seven fights on the prelims of this card and I’ll break them down here with my picks.

EARLY PRELIMS

Sabina Mazo (8-1) vs Justine Kish (7-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting fight to open the card with, as the ‘Colombian Queen’ Mazo looks to make it three wins in a row against Justine Kish. Kish will be entering the octagon for a sixth time, having lost two in a row before bouncing back with a decision win in her last bout against Lucie Pudilova. Mazo lost her UFC debut to Maryna Moroz but returned to form with back-to-back decisions over Shana Dobson and J.J. Aldrich. Mazo will have a six-inch reach advantage plus a technical advantage in the striking game and while Kish is a good wrestler and excellent on top, her takedown game needs work and she’ll struggle to get this to the mat. Due to this, Mazo should be able to pick her off from range to secure a decision win.
PICK – Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision

Bryan Barbarena (14-7) vs Anthony Ivy (8-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Another fun fight on the prelims, this time in the welterweight division as ‘Bam Bam’ Barbarena looks to bounce back from two defeats in a row as he takes on Anthony Ivy, who was knocked out in under a minute of his UFC debut. With both fighters looking to get back into the win column, it’s a true grappler vs striker affair. Barbarena is known for his knockout power, with 10 of his 14 wins coming by way of knockout, while Ivy is a super wrestler who looks to get the fight down as quickly as possible to avoid striking on the feet. The issue in Ivy’s last bout was that he didn’t get the chance to try and wrestler before Christian Aguilera annihilated him, so Barbarena will surely look to employ a similar tactic. If he can, Ivy will go out once again to the power. If he can’t, Ivy should be able to secure a takedown relative easily. The problem is, ‘Bam Bam’ is so aggressive I can’t see him being able to get the takedown before he takes a few big shots.
PICK – Bryan Barbarena via Knockout, Round 1

PRELIMS

Jalin Turner (9-5) vs Brok Weaver (15-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fight that has been changed at the very last second before this was published, as Frank ‘The Crank’ Camacho has withdrawn due to a positive COVID-19 test and Jalin Turner steps in on short-notice to fight Brok Weaver. Weaver is a former bare-knuckle fighter who has good knockout power in his hands, while Turner was due to fight last weekend against Thiago Moises before that fight fell apart. Turner has 9 stoppages in his 9 wins and uses his impressive reach to stay out of range and land shots. Weaver has great durability but considering his past, he lacks knockout power. If he can’t stay out of the way and last the full 15 minutes against Turner, he’ll likely get knocked out.
PICK – Jalin Turner via Knockout, Round 2

Bobby Green (26-10-1) vs Alan Patrick (15-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

After two wins in six weeks for Bobby Green, he steps in on just two weeks notice to take on Alan Patrick who fights for the first time in just under two years. Green outworked Clay Guida in June before putting in a fight of the night performance to avenge his draw with Lando Vannata. He showed great striking in both fights but also an ability to stay on his feet against a grinder who wants to put him on the mat. He will need to do similar in this fight because Patrick is far more reliant on a takedown than either of those two. On the feet he’s almost completely lost and unless he’s improved significantly in his two years away, he will need the performances of a lifetime to beat Green, even on just two weeks notice.
PICK – Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision

Roosevelt Roberts (10-2) vs Matt Frevola (8-1-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

After his win on Dana White’s Contender Series, Roberts has gone 4-2 in the UFC but lost his last fight against veteran Jim Miller when he was submitted via armbar in the first round. Frevola has won his last two fights in a row, but his last bout was almost a year ago when he defeated Luis Pena via split decision. Frevola’s greatest strength is his wrestling and he will surely look to secure a takedown in this fight but he will need to mind his neck. Roberts has a tremendous guillotine and is happy to use it at any time. On the feet he has the range and technical advantages, while he’s also no slouch on the ground. Frevola doesn’t have the power that Vinc Patel had when he beat Roberts and he’s not as slick on the mat as Jim Miller. I see Roberts having an advantage in most places, so it would need a perfect performance from Frevola to win.
PICK – Roosevelt Roberts via Submission, Round 2

Julia Avila (8-1) vs Sijara Eubanks (5-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Originally scheduled to fight Karol Rosa last weekend, Sijara Eubanks has made a quick turnaround after it was cancelled at the last minute and will now take on Julia Avila. Avila’s last fight ended in just 22 seconds when she demolished Gina Mazany with strikes back in June. Much like the bout for last weekend, Eubanks is a great boxer with a black-belt in jiu jitsu and solid wrestling, while Avila is a high-level Muay-Thai kickboxer who relies on a crazy output to overwhelm her opponents and win by decision. Eubanks’ best performances came in the 125lbs flyweight division and yet she went 3-2 in that division. Avila has won three of her last four via stoppage but Eubanks has never been finished. Avila should have enough about her to get a win although a finish is probably pushing it a bit too far.
PICK – Julia Avila via Unanimous Decision

Matt Schnell (14-5) vs Tyson Nam (19-11-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The featured bout of the prelims sees a demon grappler in Matt Schnell come up against one of the hardest punchers in the division in Tyson Nam. Nam fought most recently in June, with a stunning knockout inside 32 seconds ending the night early for Zarrukh Adashev, while Schnell won four-in-a-row before he was flattened by Alexandre Pantoja back in December. All three of Schnell’s UFC defeats have come via first round knockout but his game mostly revolves around the mat. He has 8 submission wins in his career, including his two most recent victories. Nam though, has over 30 professional fights and has never been submitted. His takedown defence is excellent and his counter-strikes are lethal. He has enough power to put Schnell’s lights out early considering ‘Danger’ has had issues with power punchers in the past, Nam should find confidence in landing at any point in the fight.
PICK – Tyson Nam via Knockout, Round 2

UFC Vegas 9: Overeem vs Sakai – Main Card Predictions

An interesting card is set to take place this weekend in the APEX once again in Las Vegas, as heavyweight gatekeeper Alistair Overeem takes on up and coming contender Augusto Sakai in the main event.

Last weekend in the light heavyweight division, I secured 8/10 picks including five perfect predictions (winner, round, method) for a pretty good night overall. This time around I’m expecting it to be a bit of a tougher task, with lots of fighters I’m not the most knowledgeable on and a few pick’em fights in there too.

There is due to be 10 fights on the card this weekend, with five prelim fights and five main card fights scheduled. I’ve already made my prelim predictions, which you can read here and will now break down the main card.

MAIN CARD

Thiago Moises (13-4) vs Jalin Turner (9-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Another classic grappler vs striker match up here as Brazilian jiu-jitsu black-belt Moises and the rangy and aggressive striker Turner. Moises has shown great kickboxing and solid wrestling to compliment his phenomenal grappling but with Turner holding a 7 inch reach advantage and nine stoppages from nine wins he will need to be at his best to close the distance and avoid the knockout. With that said though the gap on the mat is just vast that if this fight hits the mat with Moises still conscious and able to fight, this could be finished pretty quickly.
PICK – Thiago Moises via Submission, Round 1

Michel Pereira (23-11) vs Zelim Imadaev (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Pereira recently came to prominence for his acrobatic performances in the octagon, but has lost his last two fights technically including a disqualification against Diego Sanchez. Zelim Imadaev is a 25 year old prospect who also loves to fight in a bit of a wild way, using aggression and relentlessness to overwhelm his opponents. Pereira showed an improvement against Sanchez, seemingly understanding that by doing all the unnecessary flips he burns extra cardio if he doesn’t finish the fight. He’ll still almost certainly throw crazy strikes and he is the much bigger man naturally, so carries more power in his hands and kicks. For that reason and that reason alone, I’m going with Pereira to finish it with strikes but this fight could go in absolutely any direction.
PICK – Michel Pereira via Knockout, Round 2

Sijara Eubanks (6-4) vs Karol Rosa (13-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting women’s bantamweight bout where two very skilled fighters will compete. Eubanks is a great boxer with a black-belt in jiu jitsu and solid wrestling, while Rosa is a high-level Muay-Thai kickboxer who relies on a crazy output to overwhelm her opponents and win by decision. Eubanks’ best performances came in the 125lbs flyweight division and yet she went 3-2 in that division. Rosa is more natural at this weight and with a reach advantage, good kicks plus an output that sees her average almost 10 strikes per minute she should be able to win this fight based off that alone.
PICK – Karol Rosa via Unanimous Decision

Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs Alonzo Menifield (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
*This fight was supposed to happen on the Munhoz-Edgar card two weeks ago but was cancelled on the night. So I’ve copy & pasted over the breakdown and prediction from then.*

A short notice fight for Menifield after stepping in on one week’s notice for Shamil Gamzatov, he is looking to bounce back from his first professional defeat against Devin Clark back at UFC 250. Ovince Saint Preux was once an opponent for Jon Jones in a title eliminator, but he has now lost four of his last six bouts. Menifield’s last appearance saw him get completely outclassed and when he couldn’t land that big punch, he was beaten. OSP will have a four inch reach advantage, a wrestling advantage and is experienced enough to avoid that big punch. If he can get the fight to the ground, it’s impossible to rule out OSP landing ground and pound before ending the fight with his signature Von-Preux choke.
PICK – Ovince Saint Preux via Submission, Round 2

Alistair Overeem (46-18-0 1NC) vs Augusto Sakai (15-1-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A burly veteran in Overeem against another up and comer in Sakai as the UFC once again give ‘The Demolition Man’ the honour of being the gatekeeper for the top of the division. Overeem is fresh off a win over Walt Harris in May while Sakai beat Blagoy Ivanov just two weeks later via split decision. Overeem is one of the best kickboxers MMA has seen but at 40 years old he’s not a spring chicken. Sakai is a typical big-man, who comes forward with his hands up and throws bombs. He’s on a six fight win streak and is undefeated in the UFC. This is a bout made for Overeem to shut down the hype train. He’s the much more skilled fighter but his chin has been a little bit suspect in his last few fights. He dominated against Jairzinho Rozenstruik for four full rounds and 4:50 of round 5 before a big punch put his lights out and he was knocked down by Walt Harris but survived as his opponent gassed himself out. Sakai has a lot of power in his hands overall he’s not the best mixed martial artist for me and Overeem should be able use his skills to get a late stoppage with it being Sakai’s first time past three rounds.
PICK – Alistair Overeem via Knockout, Round 4