Tag Archives: Takashi Sato

UFC Vegas 59: Santos vs Hill – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for the TUF 30 finale card, headlined by light heavyweight bangers.

Thiago Santos will take on Jamahal Hill looking for a place in the top five of the rankings at 205-pounds in the main event, while Vicente Luque will also fight Geoff Neal in the co-main event.

The TUF finale also takes place as the heavyweights Mohammed Usman, brother of Kamaru, takes on Zac Pauga while the women’s flyweights will see Brogan Walker take on Julianna Miller.

Last time out at UFC 277 we went 10/13 with two perfect picks to move to 683/1059 (64.49%) with 291 perfect picks (42.61%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Bryan Battle (8-1) vs Takashi Sato (16-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

TUF 29 winner vs MMA veteran in this one. Battle moves down to welterweight for this bout, having won each of his last six including a submission win over Gilbert Urbina before a decision win over Tresean Gore. Sato meanwhile has lost his last two getting submitted by Miguel Baeza before losing a dominant decision against Gunnar Nelson at UFC London back in March.

Battle is a jack of all trades with good wrestling and submission skills as well as his fast hands with boxing combinations and range management. He does lack big power in his hands however. Sato is someone who tends to rely on a big strike from the power in his hands, while he has pretty poor takedown defence and a lack of volume. With that said, this is a super tough match up for him.

“Pooh Bear” is likely to use his movement and physical strength to wear on Sato, while his volume should be more than enough to keep Sato away from him. Add to that his decent wrestling to make his opponent think about the next attack constantly, this should be a pretty comfortable win for Battle.
PICK – Bryan Battle via Decision

Terrance McKinney (12-4) vs Erick Gonzalez (14-6) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The big lock of the card between two bangers in the lightweight division. McKinney lit the UFC up initially with a seven-second KO of Matt Frivola at UFC 263 before a first-round submission win over Fares Ziam. He was beaten last time out though as Drew Dober put him out with a knee and strikes. Gonzalez lost his UFC debut to Jim Miller back in October when he was KO’d in the second round and hasn’t fought since.

McKinney is an incredibly powerful striker with a really strong wrestling game in his back pocket to go with it, and he’ll be hungry to get himself back in the win column after his positive UFC start. Gonzalez on the other hand is not a UFC calibre fighter, with poor takedown and striking defence with his best form of defence coming via offense.

Gonzalez will look to start a brawl and hope he lands the harder, cleaner shot first but against McKinney that’s nigh on impossible. “T-Wrecks” is going to come in, put his lights out and send him home early.
PICK – Terrence McKinney via Knockout, Round 1



Sam Alvey (33-17-1) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (16-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

No idea how, but Sam Alvey is still in the UFC and he’s in the featured prelim bout this weekend. Alvey has lost 7 of his last 8 fights, getting stopped in four of them including his most recent bout when he was submitted by Brendan Allen. Oleksiejczuk saw a two-fight win streak snapped last time out when he dropped a decision to Dustin Jacoby at UFC 272.

Alvey is done, honestly. Once upon a time he had a feared big left hand, but in recent times he’s just become a punching bag and someone who is tentative and looks like he shouldn’t be in there. Oleksiejczuk is a good kickboxer with good power and counters, and usually has solid cardio to go with it. The one issue could be the weight cut with Oleksiejczuk making his 185-pound debut.

With that said, it’s also the only way that he loses this fight. He’s got the speed, power and physical attributes to dominate Alvey and unless he absolutely fluffs the weight cut and is struggling physically then he should be able to back Alvey up against the cage and finish him with nasty combinations to finally end “Smile’n”‘s UFC run.
PICK – Michal Oleksiejczuk via Knockout, Round 1

UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall – Main card predictions

After a three year absence the UFC returns to London and the O2 Arena for a huge UFC London fight card, headlined by heavyweights Alexander Volkov and Tom Aspinall.

A stacked card will see the two heavyweights competing to get title contention with a win, while we’ll also see the likes of Arnold Allen take on Dan Hooker, Paddy Pimblett makes his UK return while Jack Shore, Nathaniel Wood and Muhammad Mokaev also compete too.

In case you’re unaware, we’ve done a list of five things you must not miss from this card too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 50 we went 11/14 with three perfect picks to move to 568/879 (64.62%) with 241 perfect picks (42.43%). You can see our full record here.

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims, and rounding off our prelims picks here, we move on to our main card picks now.


Jai Herbert (11-3) vs Ilia Topuria (11-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A banger of a fight to open the main card in the 155-pound division. Herbert earned his first win in the octagon with a first-round KO against Khama Worthy at UFC Vegas 41, while Topuria is an undefeated prospect with his last win coming via brutal KO against Ryan Hall at UFC 264. This is Topuria’s debut at lightweight.

Herbert is a boxer with good power in his hands, but his defensive grappling isn’t great and that’s a big problem in this fight. Topuria is a super talented grappler with great cardio and also some solid boxing skills with knockout power. Topuria’s only disadvantage in this fight could end up being size, because he’s not the biggest in this weight class.

Topuria will trade on the feet until an opportunity for a takedown presents itself and he will take it immediately. Topuria will land nasty elbows on the mat, pass guard and eventually work to the back before snatching up the neck for an impressive win in quick fashion.
PICK – Ilia Topuria via Submission, Round 1

Molly McCann (11-4) vs Luana Carolina (8-2) – (Flyweight/135lbs)

‘Meatball’ is back and she’s back in London for this women’s flyweight bout on the main card. McCann suffered back-to-back defeats to Taila Santos and Lara Procopio before getting back in the win column against Ji Yeon Kim at UFC Vegas 36 most recently. Carolina has won her last two via decision, beating Poliana Botelho at UFC Vegas 25 and Lupita Godinez at UFC Vegas 40.

McCann is a pressure fighter who looks to use low kicks and boxing to force her opponent backwards and make them crumble. Carolina is a lengthy boxer herself, but she struggles to make the most of her reach advantage. Her takedown defence is good, but when it comes to mixing it all up she tends to be troubled and that’s what McCann is best at.

The Brit will be relentless with her forward pressure, will land strikes and will almost certainly mix it up with takedowns against teh cage and she’s good enough to hold Carolina down and control her for long periods of time. If Carolina is able to make reads and defend it though, her reach and speed should see her pick McCann apart. For my money, ‘Meatball’ comes forward enough to slip the reach disadvantage, get takedowns and win rounds.
PICK – Molly McCann via Decision

Gunnar Nelson (17-5-1) vs Takashi Sato (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A strange welterweight bout up next on the main card between two guys returning from lengthy lay offs. Nelson is on a two-fight losing streak after defeats to Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns back in 2019, while Sato lost via submission to Miguel Baeza back in November 2020 at UFC Vegas 15.

Nelson is a brilliant submission fighter with a karate stance where he looks to counter strike to land on his opponents clean. Sato on the other hand is a solid striker with an excellent jab and good combinations, and is confident in the grappling but mostly struggles against elites in that field. Nelson is elite in that field, but he’s been away for so long it’s hard to get a proper read on him.

Sato is coming in on very short notice in this bout, which goes against him, and if Nelson is at least not completely rusty and done then he should be able to get a pretty convincing win here.
PICK – Gunnar Nelson via Decision



Paddy Pimblett (17-3) vs Kazula Vargas (12-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The most popular fighter on the card by a distance makes a return to the UK fight scene to take on Rodrigo Vargas. Pimblett earned a massive comeback knockout win at UFC Vegas 36 against Luigi Vendramini, while Vargas snapped a two-fight losing streak against Rongzhu at UFC 261 last time out.

Pimblett is a solid all-rounder, with excellent submissions skills and much improved striking in recent years with great knockout power. Vargas on the other hand is a decent boxer with plenty of experience but while he has a bigger frame and could overpower Pimblett, the trouble is he’s outmatched in skill.

‘The Baddy’ is a great kicker from range and has got the ability to take this fight wherever he feels he has the most advantage. He has promised a first-round finish, so who am I to go against that. Pimblett lands a hard right hand to drop Vargas and then jumps on the neck for a quick finish.
PICK – Paddy Pimblett via Submission, Round 1

Arnold Allen (17-1) vs Dan Hooker (21-11) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A truly brilliant fight in the featherweight division in the co-main event as both guys look to become a serious contender at 145-pounds. Allen is on a ten-fight win streak, including a big decision of Sodiq Yusuff last time out at UFC Vegas 23. Hooker on the other hand has lost three of his last four to Dustin Poirier (UFC Vegas 4), Michael Chandler (UFC 257) and Islam Makhachev (UFC 267) most recently with a win against Nasrat Haqparast just before that at UFC 266. He returns to featherweight for the first time since 2016.

Allen is a tremendous wrestler and solid defensive fighter on the feet who knows exactly what he’s good at and goes straight to it. Hooker on the other hand is a striker who doesn’t want to be on the ground, but is capable of holding his own down there and battling to get it back into a striking battle. Allen will not allow that.

‘Almighty’ is strong in the grappling, good enough to hold his own in the striking, has constant volume, is younger, fresher and won’t be struggling with the weight cut. This is his chance to make a real impact on the division and I think he does just that.
PICK – Arnold Allen via Decision

Alexander Volkov (34-9) vs Tom Aspinall (11-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweight main event in what should be an absolute banger. Volkov has won three of his last four, with defeat to Ciryl Gane at UFC Vegas 30 splitting up wins over Walt Harris, Alistair Overeem (UFC Vegas 18) and Marcin Tybura (UFC 267) most recently. Aspinall is an undefeated 4-0 in the UFC with stoppage wins over Jake Collier (UFC Fight Island 3), Alan Baudot (UFC Fight Island 5), Andrei Arlovski (UFC Vegas 19) and Sergei Spivak (UFC Vegas 36).

Volkov and Aspinall are both tremendous boxers, with brilliant jabs and combinations as well as legitimate knockout power. The difference between the two fighters is that Aspinall is a true grappler also, with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and some solid wrestling too. Aspinall has a speed advantage and with a five-year age gap, his cardio has looked good so far. He has never fought in front of a live UFC crowd though and has never had a five-round fight in his career.

This fight will stay on the feet for the early exchanges as Aspinall looks to test the chin and make reads. His jab is more than good enough to land despite the size advantage but it’s the submission and grappling threat that will open up a big opportunity for him to land a combination. That could be enough to put Volkov out, but if not he’ll take the neck and secure a submission as a result to claim the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Tom Aspinall via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 15: Blaydes vs Lewis – Main Card Predictions

The heavyweight scene steps to the front of the queue for attention as Curtis Blaydes gets the fight he called for against Derrick Lewis.

The main event is a chance for both men to push towards the front of the queue for a title shot, with both fighters on impressive win streaks.

In the co-main, Anthony Smith looks to get back to winning ways when he takes on Devin Clark in the light-heavyweight division on a relatively below par card.

Last weekend we had an okay showing, with 7/12 correct picks but only two correct picks for the night. This moved our overall picks up to 175/264 (66.29%) with 80 perfect picks (45.71%) since starting our picks in June.

With eleven fights on the card scheduled, lets see what we can rustle up starting with the prelims here.

MAIN CARD

Bill Algeo (13-5) vs Spike Carlyle (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A four fight win streak culminated in Spike Carlyle making it into Dana White’s Contender Series, where he scored an 85 second knockout win as an underdog to get into the UFC. His debut wasn’t as successful though, as he was beaten by Billy Quarantillo back in May. Algeo lost his Contender Series fight before going away and winning again on the regional scene to get into the UFC. He also lost his debut on just 16 days’ notice, in a decision loss to Ricardo Lamas back in August. Carlyle is a great wrestler with excellent top control while Algeo is a striker who gives up takedowns like his life depends on it. While the fight is on the feet, Algeo will have the advantage but he doesn’t have the power to stop Carlyle or the ability to keep the takedowns away and this could get nasty on the ground.
PICK – Spike Carlyle via Knockout, Round 2

Miguel Baeza (9-0) vs Takashi Sato (16-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

After a victorious appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Miguel Baeza has seen his hype levels rise with two stoppage wins against Hector Aldana and then Matt Brown back in May. Takashi Sato KO’d Ben Saunders in his debut back in 2019 but was stopped by Belal Muhammad in September of the same year. He bounced back from that with a 48-second KO win over Jason Witt in June. Both men are heavy hitters with powerful striking, and Baeza loves a chopping leg kick. I can’t imagine this one lasts very long and for me Baeza has the power advantage. That said, he got hit a lot against Matt Brown and if Sato hits him with those shots it could be lights out. With more experience at the top level, Sato gets it done as the underdog.
PICK – Takashi Sato via Knockout, Round 1

Josh Parisian (13-3) vs Parker Porter (10-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A UFC debut for Josh Parisian as the Conteder Series graduate looks to add to his impressive tally of 12 finishes from 13 wins. Parker Porter lost his UFC debut to Chris Daukaus back in August when he was knocked out in the first round, ending a 4-1 run of fights. Parisian is a super strong striker, with good spinning techniques and great power while Porter is your bog standard heavyweight who plants his feet and swings for the fences. Porter is fairly slow and Parisian should be able to walk him down and drop him early for a big knockout win on his debut.
PICK – Josh Parisian via Knockout, Round 1

Anthony Smith (33-16) vs Devin Clark (12-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After losing in his UFC title shot to Jon Jones, Anthony Smith has since gone 1-2 after an impressive submission win against Alexander Gustafsson before being dominated by Glover Teixeira and Alexander Rakic. Devin Clark on the other hand has won three of his last four fights, all by decision including a dominant performance against Alonzo Menifield. Smith struggled with the grappling of Rakic, who is known for his striking more than anything. The size difference troubled Smith greatly and Clark will have a similar advantage. He loves a good clinch battle and should have physical strength advantage. Smith is by far the better striker and has power, but after recent performances it’s hard to think Smith will do well against this style of fight.
PICK – Devin Clark via Decision

Curtis Blaydes (14-2) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)*

The ultimate takedown vs stand up battle. Blaydes has the record for most takedowns in heavyweight history, while Lewis has the record for the most knockout wins in heavyweight history. Blaydes is currently on a four-fight win streak, including his most recent dominant decision against Alexander Volkov. Lewis is on a three-fight win streak, including his knockout of Aleksei Oleinik. That Oleinik fight doesn’t bode well for Lewis though. He was taken down and dominated on the ground by the much smaller man and only got back to his feet when the bell went to end the first round. Blaydes will take this to the ground and look to blast him out of there from top position. If Lewis somehow survives the first round, he will need a knockout just like against Oleinik but Blaydes is elite and will take it back to the ground for a dominant win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 1

*The UFC Vegas 15 main event has been cancelled after Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19.*

UFC Vegas 7: Munhoz vs Edgar – Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to it’s Fight Night schedule this weekend following UFC 252 last week at the APEX Centre in Las Vegas.

11 fights await us on this card, as Frankie Edgar drops down to Bantamweight finally to take on Pedro Munhoz in the main event. Ovince Saint-Preux returns to light heavyweight in the co-main event for a clash with Contender Series contestant Alonzo Meinfield who steps in on short-notice.

Last week at UFC 242: Miocic vs Cormier, I correctly predicted 7/11 on the night with four of the seven completely perfect picks (winner, method, round). I’ll break down this card and try to do better on this occasion than the last. You can see my picks for the prelims here.

Mariya Agapova (9-1) vs Shana Dobson (3-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

This is a fight that I’m not entirely sure on the reason that it’s happening. Agapova is coming off a three-fight win streak, including a first-round submission win over Hannah Cifers back in June, while Dobson has lost three in a row including being knocked out in just 40 seconds back in February. Agapova is a lethal striker with a good ground game to back her up and while she has inexperience and is still green at just 23 years old, Dobson doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get her down where she’s uncomfortable. Agapova has the pick of how she wants to win this fight and I think she ends it violently with a first-round knockout.
PICK – Mariya Agapova via Knockout, Round 1

Takashi Sato (16-3) vs Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A bout between two powerhouse knockout artists which could end up being the fight of the night, Sato looks to make it back-to-back wins in the UFC while D-Rod looks to extend his win streak to nine in a row. Both fighters carry crazy power in their hands but Rodriguez tends to be a bit more of a counter-puncher than Sato. Sato has good boxing but his KO wins have come against two fighters he was clearly better than and Rodriguez and he are on a similar level. It could be a case of whoever lands the first clean punch wins and with Rodriguez often countering, he’s likely to catch Sato unaware before he gets caught himself.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 2

Marcin Prachnio (13-4) vs Mike Rodriguez (10-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Both these big hitters come in on the back of defeats, with Rodriguez losing to Da Un Jung back in December last year while Prachnio lost to Magomed Ankalaev and Sam Alvey back to back in 2018 and hasn’t fought since. In reality this fight has no business being on the main card here, but it is. Overall its a real pick-em fight, it could go either way and it won’t be of the highest quality at all. Despite having the slightly more impressive CV, two years without competing is a long time and I think that may be the difference here.
PICK – Mike Rodriguez via Unanimous Decision

Ovince Saint Preux (24-14) vs Alonzo Meinfeld (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A short notice fight for Meinfeld 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. Meinfeld’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

Pedro Munhoz (18-4-0 1NC) vs Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A super main event in store as the legendary Frankie Edgar moves down to his natural weight class of 135lbs for the first time, to take on UFC veteran Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz most recently got himself into the contender conversation with a sensational knockout win over Cody Garbrandt, but was then beaten dominantly by Aljamain Sterling in his last outing. Edgar has lost three of his last four including being knocked out decisively by both Brian Ortega and Korean Zombie, while he took a beating in his 145lbs title fight against Max Holloway too. Both fighters have a great wrestling background and are therefore not afraid to let their hands go, knowing that they’re more than comfortable on the ground too. The problem for Edgar here, is that while both men have been around for a long time it’s he who has been in there with far bigger men for most of his career. Having previously stood up with his chin in fights, his last three defeats have been humbling and at 38 years of age it’s unlikely it’s going to get any better now. Munhoz has power in his hands, as he showed against Garbrandt, and is an excellent wrestler capable of securing takedowns against anyone. Overall, I think the miles on the clock will harm Frankie Edgar more than they’ll help him in this fight.
PICK – Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision

Do you agree with my picks? Let me know on Twitter.