The UFC returns from a two week break to make history with the companies first ever card from Paris, France.
The historic card is headlined by hometown heavyweight favourite Ciryl Gane, as he takes on fan favourite and knockout artist Tai Tuivasa in the main event.
The co-main will also see two world class middleweight contenders go head-to-head too as Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori clash in a potential title eliminator.
Last time out at UFC 278 we saw an amazing card, where we landed 7/12 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 705/1094 (64.51%) with 298 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.
We’ll try to improve on that here with this solid card, starting with the early prelims here.
Stephanie Egger (7-3) vs Ailin Perez (7-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Women’s featherweights will make history with the first UFC fight in Paris ever. Egger fought less than a month ago and was submitted by Mayra Bueno Silva via armbar in that bout, while Perez makes her promotional debut on the back of consecutive stoppage wins at Samurai Fight House this year.
Egger is a judoka specialist with solid submission skills and some decent striking on the feet too, while Perez is a Muay-Thai striker who excels in the clinch. The big issue for her is that by getting to the clinch she’s putting herself in danger and she doesn’t have particularly good striking or jiu-jitsu to put Egger off from throwing her to the mat.
After getting relatively embarrassed by Bueno Silva last time out, she’ll have a point to prove and with a size advantage I expect her to push forward and get a dominant win early doors. PICK – Stephanie Egger via Submission, Round 1
Khalid Taha (13-4) vs Christian Quinonez (16-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fun bantamweight scrap up next. Taha is without a win since 2019, with a no contest against Bruno Silva before back-to-back defeats to Raoni Barcelos (UFC Vegas 13) and Sergey Morozov most recently. Quinonez makes his UFC debut on a four-fight win streak, having earned his spot on the roster with a win on the Contender Series back in October 2021. He steps in on nine days’ notice.
Taha is a powerful striker with some excellent leg kicks and good cardio, while his grappling skills tend to keep him safe if he ends up on the mat. Quinonez on the other hand is a long striker who uses his good jab and powerful leg kicks of his own to piece up his opponents. This is going to be a really close bout.
Both guys will try to counter the big strikes of the other, but because Taha tends to rely on heavy shots the speed of Quinonez with his jab could prevent that. Both guys will smash the leg kicks in and that could be detrimental too at any moment, but with just nine days’ notice it’s tough to pick Quinonez. On a full camp I think he could get it done, but on this occasion “The Warrior” should claim the win. PICK – Khalid Taha via Decision
Benoit Saint-Denis (9-1) vs Gabriel Miranda (16-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight scrap with a hometown hero on the card. Benoit Saint-Denis came into the UFC unbeaten but got dominated on his debut against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (UFC 267) before dropping down to lightweight and earning a submission win over Niklas Stolze last time out. Miranda on the other hand makes his UFC debut off the back of three straight submission wins.
Saint-Denis is a very strong wrestler with good power to keep his opposition on the mat, as well as powerful strikes with lots of venom before moving to get takedowns. Miranda on the other hand is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu master who is incredibly slippery on the mat, and he looks to brawl whenever the fight is standing. Realistically however, this should be a pretty one-sided scrap for up to 15 minutes.
“God of War” is by far the better wrestler offensively and is definitely a more comfortable striker on the feet, while his own jiu-jitsu skills mean he should feel comfortable enough on the mat if he chooses to take it there. Miranda will look for sweeps and kill-shot submissions off his back, but aside from landing one of those it’s highly unlikely he does anything to stop Saint-Denis working on the mat and claiming another win. PICK – Benoit Saint-Denis via Decision
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Mayra Bueno Silva (8-2-1) vs Stephanie Egger (7-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An interesting women’s bantamweight fight to kick off the card. Silva got back in the win column last time out with a decision victory over Yanan Wu back in April, while Egger has won her last two with a TKO win over Shanna Young before an armbar submission win over Jessica-Rose Clark last time out.
Silva is a solid grappler with great jiu-jitsu skills, but she tends to choose to strike in her fights and comes forward with good pressure and boxing combinations. Egger on the other hand is a stand-out judoka who is excellent with her throws, but also uses her range and stance to land strikes from range if needed. Neither of these girls are particularly known for their power, but it could be a real slug fest on the feet to kick off the event.
Egger will no doubt look to keep Silva at distance or take her down for her top control if she gets within range, but Silva is a newly-awarded brown belt in jiu-jitsu and will be confident of keeping the fight where she wants it. Expect her to march forward and land good combinations and make it an uncomfortable night for Egger to claim a decision win. PICK – Mayra Bueno Silva via Decision
Cory McKenna (6-2) vs Miranda Granger (7-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Another fun women’s fight up next in the strawweight division this time. McKenna suffered defeat in her last bout, dropping a split decision to Elise Reed to snap a four-fight win streak. Granger meanwhile has lost her last two coming into this, getting submitted by Amanda Lemos before dropping a decision to Ashley Yoder at UFC Vegas 14. This is her first fight since November 2020.
McKenna and Granger are pretty green despite their records, but stylistically they couldn’t be more opposite. McKenna is a wrestler at heart with solid takedowns and pretty tame striking, while Granger is a lengthy striker with a good clinch game but woeful takedown defence. This is simply about whether or not Granger has improved that enough to stop McKenna dumping her on the mat over and over again.
If she has been able to improve and do that, then she should be able to keep range and piece McKenna up with straight shots and kicks. If not, then she’ll get ground out by an undersized fighter for 15 minutes with little answer. My expectation is the latter takes place in a less than memorable fight. PICK – Cory McKenna via Decision
Jason Witt (19-8) vs Josh Quinlan (5-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big time fire-fight in the welterweight division up next. Witt has lost two of his last three via KO, getting stopped in 16 seconds by Matthew Semelsberger at UFC Vegas 21 and then by Phillip Rowe in February. He earned a majority decision win over Bryan Barbarena in between those fights. Quinlan is an undefeated fighter who has finished all his wins, including a 47 second KO on the Contender Series last time out that got switched to a no contest for a positive drug test.
Witt is a strong wrestler who has good takedowns and solid top control, but has a leaky chin and has been KO’d six times in his professional career to date. Quinlan is a power puncher with excellent Muay Thai skills, but has shown a difficulty in fighting when being pressured backwards in the past. That said though, this looks set up for a Quinlan victory.
“The Renegade” is powerful, fast, strong and accurate which will be way too much for Witt. Quinlan is capable of being taken down, but he’s also more than capable of getting back to his feet and any extended sequence of striking will likely end with Witt staring up at the lights. Expect a statement win from the newcomer with a violent combination. PICK – Josh Quinlan via Knockout, Round 1
Diana Belbita (14-6) vs Gloria De Paula (5-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A strawweight bout opens up the main prelims. Belbita lost her first two UFC fights before finally claiming a win over Hannah Goldy last time out via unanimous decision. De Paula on the other hand is nearing a 50/50 record having lost her first two UFC fights, dropping a decision to Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 21 before getting KO’d by Cheyanna Vlismas last time out.
Belbita is a pressure fighter with some good striking and great work rate and volume, while De Paula is a technical striker on the feet who has struggled so far with the level of competition. That said though, stylistically this one suits her well. De Paula should be able to land relatively clean shots from distance if she can maintain it, but Belbita will be looking to close it quickly and use her slight size advantage to wear on De Paula as much as possible.
De Paula will almost certainly land the better strikes throughout the fight, but Belbita will win this fight if she can make it ugly. She will come forward with pressure to force De Paula to take steps backwards, which will prevent the kicking game and I think she’ll mix in takedowns too to edge a close decision win. PICK – Diana Belbita via Decision
Chas Skelly (18-3) vs Mark Striegl (18-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight fight between two great fighters with excellent professional records. Skelly hasn’t fought since 2019 when he earned a decision win over Jordan Griffin, while Striegl suffered a 51 second knockout defeat in his only UFC bout against Said Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 6 in 2020.
Both of these fighters will be looking to get the fight to the ground at the earliest convenience considering their strengths laying in the world of submissions. All 14 stoppage wins in Striegl’s career have come by way of tap out, while Skelly has earned ten submissions of his own throughout his career. Neither of these fighters have a great gas tank and their striking isn’t the best, so a stand-up war between them is unlikely.
But on the mat, Skelly has a big advantage. He’s the better wrestler of the two and has submitted the greater level of competition in the past, while he also has more power in the striking department while the fight is there. His layoff is a big concern obviously, but I expect he will be able to control Striegl on the ground for long enough to earn a decision win on his comeback. PICK – Chas Skelly via Decision
Jessica-Rose Clark (11-6) vs Stephanie Egger (6-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two women coming off victories go head-to-head in the bantamweight division. Clark is coming off two consecutive wins, KO’ing Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11 before earning a decision win over Joselyn Edwards most recently. Egger claimed a win in her most recent fight by KO’ing Shanna Young in the second round via a nasty elbow at UFC Vegas 38.
Clark is a wrestler who takes her opponents towards the cage and looks to grind them out until an opportunity opens up to either slide a submission in or land ground and pound. Egger on the other hand is a talented judoka who has some very crisp striking in close, although her technique is lacking on occasion. Egger is very good with her throws and takedowns, but she’s shown a weakness to being taken down herself which suits Clark perfectly here.
Egger has the capabilities of being able to reverse takedown situations into her favour, but Clark is more than good enough to work her way back up if that happens. If she can not be too predictable with her grappling and level changes, then I expect Clark to be able to do what she does best and grind her way to a victory. PICK – Jessica-Rose Clark via Decision
Gabriel Benitez (22-10) vs David Onama (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A potential fight of the night contender in this one at 145-pounds. Benitez has struggled recently with three defeats in her last four, including most recently to Billy Quarantillo via unanimous decision. Onama on the other hand saw his UFC debut end in defeat, snapping his undefeated start to his career, as Mason Jones dominated him up a weight class on short notice.
Benitez is a very talented striker, with leg kicks like a mule and nasty body attacks too. He uses his kicks like a jab, trying to maintain distance from his opponent with them and setting up other attacks too. Onama on the other hand is an absolute powerhouse with explosive striking and an ability to wrestle too. He switches stances well and likes to close his distance too, which spells trouble for Benitez.
Onama looks to have all the tools to really make a name for himself in the UFC and it seems as though the UFC have set him up with a really good stylistic match-up in this one. Benitez got dropped by an overhand from Quarantillo last time out and if Onama lands one, he’s going out. Ultimately, Onama’s strengths lie where Benitez’s weaknesses are and that should lead to a highlight reel KO. PICK – David Onama via Knockout, Round 1
Interesting start to the bout as Perez comes out with a weird, bouncing stance and Eduardo lights him up with three heavy low kicks early on. Perez stops the bouncing and lands a few jabs but Eduardo responding with leg kicks again but not much volume from either guy so far. Eduardo lands a nice combination to the body and then head, but Perez responds with a heavy left hook that immediately gets the attention of Eduardo. Almost a pedestrian pace to the fight currently, with Eduardo landing another very heavy leg kick. Perez fires a right straight that grazes the chin, but Eduardo controlling the range and pace and despite the lack of action he’s ahead in the round for me. Eduardo lands a nice right hook to the chin as we enter the final 30 seconds of the round and that’s that. 10-9 Eduardo.
Eduardo opens up the round with two more very heavy leg kicks inside the first ten seconds. Perez goes for a blitz but misses and then eats a spinning heel kick to the body. Perez goes to charge with a blitz again but Eduardo does well to avoid for the most part, clinch and secure a takedown and top position. Perez ties Eduardo up well initially before bouncing back to his feet quickly. Perez lands two big right hands and steps up the aggression to land a few more strikes himself. Eduardo throws a big left hand that lands too, before Perez shoots in for a takedown and ends up on top himself. Two big strikes from the top by Perez and as Eduardo looks to get up Perez grabs for his neck but Eduardo rolls to his back. Perez scrambles for the back and ends up in side control. He has a side headlock and takes Eduardo’s arm, slides it between his legs and secures an armbar! Eduardo can’t deal with the pressure and taps!! Big win for Perez!
Stephanie Egger def Shanna Young via Knockout, Round 2 (2:22)
Egger comes out and takes the centre early on, throwing some nice straight right hands to keep the range and pose a threat. Young goes with a blitz and puts a blind kick behind it which Egger catches, and she tries for a trip but Young defends it well. Egger lands a nice one-two but it seems to wake Young up a bit and she starts applying more forward pressure. Few strikes land and then Young goes to clinch but Egger throws her down immediately and is almost in full mount. Young defends it with a leg lock attempt and after defending it well Egger is able to stack her and start landing some big ground and pound strikes from standing and side control. Egger landing big elbows from the top but Young survives the round. 10-9 Egger.
Another good start to the round for Egger as she takes the centre and throws some big right hands again. Young starts to come forward and lands a few good strikes in a blitz but Egger grabs hold of her and immediately hip tosses Young to the ground. Big elbows and ground and pound from Egger and Young is hurt. Egger stands and the referee stops the fight!? Bit of a weird stoppage there. Great performance from Egger though.
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Gaetano Pirrello via Knockout, Round 1 (2:04)
Pirrello hanging on the outside and throws a couple of hard leg kicks early on with Andrade taking the centre and just feinting a lot. Andrade steps forward and lands a big right hand and follows it up with a couple more shots before they clinch up and separate. Andrade lands a left hand and then a jab to the body, while Pirrello looks for his range. Pirrello goes for a head kick but Andrade counters with a check left hook and puts Pirrello OUT!!! A few hammer fists before the referee gets there but what a KO that is!
Jamie Mullarkey def Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 2 (2:51)
Nice even start to the fight for both guys as they trade feints and short jabs, with Mullarkey mixing in a low kick. Smith lands a clean one-two down the pipe and follows up with a couple of attempts but Mullarkey smiles at him. Mullarkey throws another hard leg kick but Smith fires back with two nice left hooks and then a huge right hand again that rocks him! He goes for a combination and jus misses with a big knee up the middle too. Nice jab from Smith and a big one-two behind it again before a big knee lands from Smith and rocks Mullarkey! Smith lands a head kick partially but Mullarkey is still in front of him and throwing those low kicks, then just misses with a big one-two. Smith’s speed a clear advantage as he lands a few more strikes but Mullarkey smothers him and gets a takedown late on in the round, lands some ground and pound before the buzzer goes. 10-9 Smith.
Strong start to the round again from Mullarkey as he steps forward early and takes the centre. Heavy low kick from Mullarkey again and it gets a big reaction from Smith who looks hurt from it. Mullarkey throws another as Smith gets on his bike and starts moving away. Mullarkey pushing the pace like a mad man and clinches up with some big knees to the body. Mullarkey keeps throwing knees and then rips two big hooks to the body that makes Smith cover up. An uppercut and hook to the head then back to the body and Smith drops! Mullarkey hits some strikes on the ground and the referee stops it! Huge win for Mullarkey! Impressive performance!
Karol Rosa def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Rosa makes a dominant start to this bout as she takes the centre, slips a jab and lands a right hand. Rosa gets a Thai clinch early and lands some big knees to the body and Correia responds with a hook that misses. Rosa staying patient in the centre before coming for more knees again. Nice one-two lands clean from Rosa before a nice body kick and another one-two. Rosa being so patient and sliding out of the way of all Correia’s attacks, then jumps in with a flying knee straight to the face that Correia just eats. Rosa pops out her jab twice and starts cutting the cage off, but Correia lands a nice right hand. Rosa shoots for a takedown against the cage but Correia defends it well and sees out the round. 10-9 Rosa.
Correia takes the centre early this time around but Rosa throwing her jab well once again and landing with ease. Nice left jab a few more times and then Correia tries to charge her and eats a massive knee to the nose! Rosa lands a nice one-two again and Correia goes back to the outside and circles, but Rosa staying patient and firing in right hands behind her jab. Rosa staying out of range until she’s ready to engage. Big knee to the body from Rosa again and she’s upping the pace now, landing some combinations to the head too and forcing Correia backwards. Correia clinches up against the cage but eats a big knee to the body and an elbow to the face twice for good measure. Rosa just misses with another big elbow as the separate, but she lands a nice right hook when they engage again. Rosa lands another flying knee and big elbow but Correia manages to survive the round. 20-18 Rosa.
Rosa coming out nice and aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, with knees to the body again and solid right hooks behind it. Correia is still there though and trading with her as she lands a nice right hand of her own. Rosa fires back with a jab followed with a low kick and yet another running knee into the body with a right hook behind it. Rosa staying patient again with her jab, low kicks and right hand at the end of combinations. Both women trade low kicks and Correia lands a right hand, but Rosa goes back to the step-in knee before they clinch against the cage with a minute to go. They separate again and Rosa lands another one of her knees to the body before they clinch up again. Correia goes for a takedown but Rosa reverses it and ends the round with ground and pound strikes. 30-27, dominant win.
Casey O’Neill def Antonina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 2 (4:47)
Very fast and aggressive start to the fight from O’Neill who puts the pressure on immediately. O’Neill lands a nice right hand but Shevchenko replies well with a one-two after a warning about out-stretched fingers from the referee. O’Neill changes levels and looks for the takedown but Shevchenko ends up on top and gets her in a crucifix position landing big ground and pound strikes. O’Neill escapes but Shevchenko is landing nice strikes on the feet whenever she counters. O’Neill changes levels again and finally takes Shevchenko down and is in a dominant position in half guard. O’Neill landing some nice ground strikes but Shevchenko gets it back to full-guard before eventually getting back to her feet with 30 seconds left in the round. O’Neill catches a kick and gets Shevchenko back on the ground to end the round on top. Tough to call, but I’d probably lean 10-9 to O’Neill.
Even start to this round as O’Neill gets the pressure going again and Shevchenko looks to counter strike from range. Clinch against the cage and Shevchenko lands some nice knees again before they separate, then O’Neill lands a left hand and then changes levels and secures a takedown. Shevchenko rolls onto her knees but O’Neill lands some nice strikes and then rolls onto her back and drags her back down with the hooks in. O’Neill looks to pass into full mount and does, then lands a big elbow as she starts to control. Big elbows from top position from O’Neill and Shevchenko gives up her back again. O’Neill goes for a choke but can’t quite get it then continues to land some big elbows! Shevchenko is hurt but O’Neill raining down bombs with her elbows and punches and the referee steps in to end it! What a performance from O’Neill!
Jared Gordon def Joe Solecki via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Very quick start for Solecki as he gets an immediate takedown and moves straight to mount on the ground. Gordon defends well and escapes the position but Solecki landing some good strikes on the ground and controlling the position well. Gordon wall-walks into space but Solecki follows him around and takes the back while landing heavy strikes to the head. Solecki starting to look for the neck but Gordon not panicking. Solecki starting to switch grips for the choke while controlling him completely but Gordon gets back to his feet with 40 seconds to go and is able to get on top himself. Nice elbow from top position by Gordon but that’s the round. Easy 10-9 for Solecki.
Gordon lands two nice strikes early but Solecki changes levels immediately and goes for a takedown once again. Gordon defending it against the cage but Solecki pushing for the takedown again. Gordon lands a nice knee and elbow while defending but Solecki not going anywhere. Gordon throws some elbows before Solecki finally gets the trip and ends up on top. Gordon gets the reversal though and ends up on top himself halfway through and lands some short elbows. Solecki tries to sweetp to get back on top but Gordon defends it well and is landing a few shots on the ground and wearing on him. Gordon prioritising position over damage in that round but he takes it. 19-19.
Composed start to the final round from both guys as they stay standing to begin with. Gordon more comfortable and landing his jab well, but Solecki exploding well and lands a body kick. Nice one-two by Solecki followed by a jab but Gordon starting to force him backwards. Solecki changes levels and comes over the top with a right hand that just misses, before Gordon shoots in for a takedown but Solecki defends it. Both men land a jab before Gordon gets a takedown against the cage, but he allows Solecki up immediately. Clinch in the centre sees Gordon use his strength and lands a couple of knees. Big right hand lands from Solecki and the round ends. I think that’s a 29-28 Gordon but third round is tough to score.
Alexander Hernandez def Mike Breeden via Knockout, Round 1 (1:20)
Very quick start to the fight from Breeden as he steps forward with some hooks and a heavy low kick early on. Hernandez right there with him and returns fire then shoots for a takedown, but Breeden denies him. Hernandez backs up then shoots in again but again he’s denied. Hernandez puts the pressure on him and lands a big one two that hurts Breeden. Hernandez lets the combinations fly and Breeden is covering up. Hernandez blasts his mouthpiece out with a big right hand and keeps going. Breeden fires a left hand but misses and Hernandez smashes a right hand just behind the ear and puts Breeden out cold!!! What a knockout!
Krzysztof Jotko def Misha Cirkunov via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Cirkunov takes the centre early on and steps forward to force Jotko against the cage, before shooting in for a takedown early. Jotko defends it well and gets back to the feet, before another attempt from Cirkunov sees a trip get him down but bounce straight back up. Jotko defending the clinch against the cage before separating and taking the centre. Both guys trade leg kicks and then Cirkunov steps in with a jab, before Jotko lights him up with a nice combination. Cirkunov still keeping the centre but Jotko is moving well and landing his counters well. Cirkunov fakes with a takedown attempt and Jotko clinches with him immediately which allows Cirkunov to get hold of him against the cage until the end of the round. Tough to score, but I lean 10-9 Cirkunov.
Even start once again in this second round as they continue with Cirkunov in the centre and Jotko bouncing around on the outside. Cirkunov goes for a clinch and throws a knee to the body but it’s a bit low and there’s a pause in the action. Nice combination lands from Jotko that ends with a left uppercut, then Cirkunov responds with a low kick. Cirkunov keeps going for clinches and takedowns but Jotko is very easily defending and separating. Hard low kick from Cirkunov to counter a right hand from Jotko. Another clinch and denial before Jotko throws a big knee and that’s the end of the round. Tough to score again, but I’d go 19-19.
Better start to the round for Cirkunov as he finally gets a takedown after changing levels and securing a single leg. Immediate bearhug position on the back and he’s dragging Jotko around and landing big knees to the thighs and back. Jotko explodes up and gets to the feet and tries to land a big elbow, but Cirkunov ducks under it and scores another big takedown. Jotko gets back up quickly though and goes for a takedown of his own before looking to explode with strikes against the cage. Jotko explodes with a knee but accidentally gets a finger in Cirkunov’s eye and the referee pauses the fight. Jotko fired up and as they restart he fires in some hard one-twos that narrowly miss. Nice jab from Jotko with 40 seconds to go and he goes for a takedown but Cirkunov denies it easily. Both guys clinch and Jotko gets a takedown with ten seconds to go to end the fight. Tough call, could go either way, but I’d give it 29-28 Cirkunov.
Niko Price def Alex Oliveira via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Action packed start to this one as both guys look to take the centre and start trading heavy blows straight away. Nice exchange of strikes and Oliveira goes for a knee which Price catches and charges him up against the cage. Oliveira manages to reverse it and push Price down to the mat but Price holds on to the neck and rolls through to end up on top. Price looking to create space for ground and pound but Oliveira defending well. Price trying to move to side control but Oliveira defending well. Hard body shots from Price and then some elbows from the top to see out the round. 10-9 Price.
Good start to the round again from both guys with lots of feinting and some leg kicks just to touch each other. Oliveira lands a nice left hand before both men narrowly miss with big hooks. Price misses a head kick but lands a right hand hammer fist instead. Oliveira lands a right hand after catching a kick and Price falls backwards, so Oliveira looks to jump on top. Lots of scrambling for position but Oliveira manages to retain top position throughout. Some nice ground and pound and transitions from Oliveira but Price defending relatively well from the bottom and the round ends. 19-19 even.
Final round and both guys are going for it early. Hard low kicks from Oliveira and then a big right hand lands but Price not moving away at all and continues to threaten. Big body shot from Oliveira then a right hand. Price goes for the right hook but Oliveira responds with one of his own. Price lands two big shots and a right hook wobbles Oliveira, but he side steps and avoids. Both guys throwing big strikes and just missing, before Price throws a big right hand that stumbles Oliveira. Price going for a takedown against the cage but Oliveira defends it and they separate. Side kick from Oliveira to the body but Price continues to walk forward and Oliveira is exhausted. Price goes for a big superman punch but Oliveira ducks it and clinches him, looking to drag Price down to the mat. Price manages to throw Oliveira down and ends up on top and he’s hammering ground and pound to end the round. That should win it for Price. 29-28.
Kevin Holland vs Kyle Daukaus – No Contest (Accidental headbutt led to fight ending sequence)
Good start to the round for Daukaus as he comes forward with two hooks and goes straight for a takedown. Holland defends it well against the cage and shows excellent balance to stay on his feet before he looks to break away in a clinch. Daukaus then puts him back in a full nelson and the referee breaks up the position. Daukaus lands a nice one-two, and then as Holland throws a right hand they clash heads and Holland goes out cold! Daukaus goes on to continue to look for a finish and eventually gets a rear-naked choke locked in and Holland is forced to tap out despite fighting hard to stay in the fight.
After the fight, a significant review takes place over the footage and the referee deems the fight a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads leading to the fight-ending sequence.
Thiago Santos def Johnny Walker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
First strike of the fight comes 30 seconds in as Walker throws a low kick, and the second comes 30 seconds later when Walker blocks a high kick from Santos. Walker takes the centre and is backing Santos up against the cage, but neither man throwing anything as we approach the halfway point of the round. Walker continues with a couple of low kicks and Santos goes to throw a high kick, but lots of feinting from both guys and not much action at all. Teep kick from Walker lands. More jockeying from both guys as the round ends. That’s an impossible round to score because nothing happened. 10-10.
Second round starts quicker as Santos takes the centre and shoots for a takedown with a single leg. Walker defends it well but both guys swing big hooks on their way out of the clinch and Santos lands the left hand grazing him. Santos throws a head kick but Walker blocks it and replies with a low kick. The round has gone timid again and Walker misses with a big overhand right, then lands another low kick. Nice left body kick from Santos lands and then he lands two more too with a left hand behind it. Walker eats them though and comes forward. More touching and feinting as the round ends. Round 2 goes to Santos for me, 20-19.
Lots of feints again in the third round as Walker looks to go back to the teep kicks and leg kicks from the first round. Santos grazes him with a head kick and then misses with a wild left hand. Walker throws more kicks but Santos side steps it and lands a left cross on the chin. Walker still there and doing lots of feinting again but Santos looks comfortable. Big exchange from both guys but they both miss and the fight is starting to open up a little bit now. Santos parries a body kick and lands a strong left hand again but Walker is still standing and moving. Walker throws a leg kick again and Santos replies with a left hook. Big spinning wheel kick misses from Santos but then he throws a head kick that is partially blocked. 30-28 Santos.
Santos comes out aggressive in the fourth and lands a nice body shot. Walker coming forward but not really throwing anything of note. Head kick attempt from Santos misses again, then Walker throws one and just misses. Santos throws a jump knee that misses and then Santos goes for his left hand again. Hard leg kick from Santos but Walker doesn’t look too affected by them. Walker’s kick gets caught but he lands two big right hands of his own before eating one from Santos. Big one-two lands from Santos again but Walker eats it well and threatens with a reverse elbow. Another hard left hand from Santos just misses, before he lands a body kick to end the round. Close round that one, 40-37 Santos for me.
This has not been the type of fight we all expected, but we go into the fifth round anyway. Slow start again with lots of feints and a slow pace. Santos comes forward and lands a left hand to the side of the head but Walker is still looking to chop the legs. Santos lands a HUGE left hand clean but Walker eats it and calls him on for more. Body kick from Santos lands twice before Walker slides forward to close distance. Santos staying out of danger for the most part and both men faking a lot again. Left hand lands from Santos and Walker lands a right hand at the same time. Big head kick from Santos lands but again Walker just eats it. Capoeira kick from Walker misses and that’s the round. 50-36 Santos for me, maybe 49-47 but very weird fight to score.
A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.
Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.
Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.
Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here, starting with the early prelims.
Alejandro Perez (22-8-1) vs Johnny Eduardo (28-12) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A banger at bantamweight to open up the card in the APEX. Perez hasn’t fought since 2019 but lost each of his last two bouts, dropping a decision to Cody Stamann before getting KO’d by Song Yadong. Eduardo on the other hand hasn’t started since 2018, where he was stopped by Nathaniel Wood by submission.
Perez is a fairly well-rounded fighter, with good striking and movement and a considered ground game defensively too. Eduardo however is a powerful Muay Thai striker, as the big tattoo across his stomach says, with great crisp shots and decent head movement. The problem Eduardo has in this match up isn’t really stylistic, it’s more that he seems to shoot himself in the foot a lot.
Eduardo has the better skillset but at 41 years old and no action in over three years, it’s hard to know how he’ll turn up. Perez has good movement, decent jabs and some good low kicks. So long as he can avoid the early blitz or a big shot, I think he can secure himself a judge’s decision. PICK – Alejandro Perez via Decision
Stephanie Egger (5-2) vs Shanna Young (8-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Another fun bantamweight fight but this time in the women’s division. Egger lost a unanimous decision on her UFC debut to Tracy Cortez back at UFC Fight Island 5, while Young also lost her debut back in February last year to Macy Chiasson.
Egger is a judo fighter and has shown a great range of skills in the past before her UFC tenure. She has great throws from the clinch position and really good submission skills too. Young on the other hand is a clean, crisp striker with great hand speed, volume and fluidity. If Young keeps the fight at a distance, then she should piece Egger up on the feet and dominate. If Egger can get into clinch positions and grappling, then she’d expect to have the edge.
The issue for Egger however, is that in her last fight she got out-grappled by someone isn’t classed as a grappler in her debut. That tells me that while she is clearly skilled, maybe she’s not quite evolved enough in MMA just yet and with Young’s striking on the feet being a clear advantage, I expect she’ll be able to get the win. PICK – Shanna Young via Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (26-4) vs Gaetano Pirrello (15-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
We stick around at 135lbs for the final fight of the early prelims in a really fun fight. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, with wins over Enrique Briones, Marlon Vera and Renan Barao while he was defeated by Rob Font, Petr Yan and most recently Lerone Murphy at UFC Fight Island 8. Pirrello lost his UFC debut to Ricky Simon via submission on the same card Andrade lost to Murphy.
Andrade is a total powerhouse in the striking world, with great hand speed and really good power with 19 knockouts in his professional career. Pirrello is also a tidy striker, with 14 finishes in 15 professional wins and this will almost certainly be a striking battle. Pirrello is the better technician, with good straight punches and a lovely jab but he’s largely out-punched by Andrade when it comes to power.
The Brazilian has speed and power on his side and Pirrello has been knocked out before so if he lands clean then it could be a wrap. Pirrello will land his jab well and pivot, with some combinations to go with but with Andrade’s forward pressure and power this could be a short night. PICK – Douglas Silva de Andrade via Knockout, Round 2
It’s a full card this weekend with 13 fights scheduled so we’re going to split it into three once again and look to break down each fight and predict how they all go.
Last weekend we secured 7/11 correct picks with four perfect picks (winner, method, round) so we’ll look to carry on the good run with this card.
Bruno Silva (10-4-2) vs Tagir Ulanbekov (10-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
‘Bulldog’ Bruno Silva makes his third walk to the octagon looking for the first victory of his UFC career when he takes on Tagir Ulanbekov making his UFC debut from the Eagles MMA camp alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov. Much like the lightweight champion, Ulanbekov is a world class wrestler and grappler who’s style relies entirely on taking you down and smothering you on the mat. Silva is a great jiu-jitsu fighter but the likelihood is that he ends up on the bottom and suffers great pain for 15 minutes before a very one-sided decision. PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Unanimous Decision
Tracy Cortez (7-1) vs Stephanie Egger (5-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very interesting fight in the women’s 135lbs ranks as Tracy Cortez looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC over debutant Stephanie Egger. Cortez is a pressure fighter who is very well-rounded in all aspects of the sport, while Egger is a renowned judo fighter who holds a win over Ronda Rousey in her judo career. She has since rounded out her skillset and is a blue belt in jiu-jitsu while also adding kicks and striking to her game. She’s the larger woman physically but Cortez is more skilled. She’s a good wrestler herself so is no stranger to the ground and to clinches. She’s not the strongest physically which is where Egger has the advantage but if Cortez uses her greater experience and can use her striking efficiently she should be able to claim a decision win. PICK – Tracy Cortez via Unanimous Decision
Giga Chikadze (10-2) vs Omar Morales (10-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fascinating scrap expected in the featherweight division when two fighters undefeated in the octagon face off with each other. Giga Chikadze has won three in a row in the UFC and five overall while Morales has never tasted defeat in his professional career and has won twice in the octagon previously. On the face of it, both men are stand up fighters who like to use their kicks from range and Chikadze for me is the better of the two when it comes to that type of fight. Despite that however, Morales showed some decent wrestling chops in his last fight and that could be a more than viable plan B. Morales is the bigger man, moving down from lightweight for this fight and Chikadze has struggled convincing judges unanimously so far with two out of three split decisions. Overall, if Morales’ weight cut doesn’t effect him too much he could pull off the upset but I think Chikadze will do just enough to scrape another close decision. PICK – Giga Chikadze via Unanimous Decision