Anthony Hernandez (9-2) vs Marc-Andre Barriault (14-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger at middleweight opens the main card here. Hernandez shocked the world with a submission win over Rodolfo Vieira at UFC 258, before returning with a decision win over Josh Fremd at UFC 273 most recently. Barriault bounced back from a 16 second KO loss to Chidi Njokuani with a submission win over Jordan Wright in his most recent bout.
Hernandez is a technical freak with great wrestling and solid submission skills to go with excellent durability, footwork and decent striking. Barriault alternatively is a powerhouse striker with aggression and durability that tend to make up for his technical flaws. The Canadian tends to attempt to outwork his opponents and grind them out, but that’s unlikely to work in this one.
Barriault has struggled against fighters who pose a consistent takedown threat, and that’s exactly what Hernandez has. He rarely gets tired, can hold his own on the feet and has the wrestling to not allow Barriault a chance to find his rhythm on the feet. Expect relentless takedowns and some decent strikes on the feet to carry “Fluffy” to a win on the cards. PICK – Anthony Hernandez via Decision
Tanner Boser (20-8-1) vs Rodrigo Nascimento (9-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big boys back in the cage for this one. Boser snapped a two-fight skid when he claimed a KO win over Ovince Saint-Preux in his last fight back in June 2021, while Nascimento suffered a 45 second KO loss to Chris Daukaus before a KO win over Alan Baudot was overturned to a no contest in his last bout in July 2021.
Boser is a talented kickboxer, using solid leg kicks, feints and footwork to set up his huge right hand and keep opponents ticking over rather than standing still. Nascimento is an elite grappler who has fantastic submission skills and nasty ground and pound from the top too. He has finished all nine of his victories, including the overturned result.
Nascimento will look to close the distance and drag this fight to the mat, because on the feet he’s outmatched by Boser. Boser isn’t the best defensive grappler, but he’s very good at avoiding getting into grappling matches with his movement and range management. He should be able to stay on the outside and use his kicks and jab to earn a decision win, but there is a risk of Nascimento blitzing him and dragging him into his world on the floor. PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision
Joe Pyfer (9-2) vs Alen Amedovski (8-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
“Be like Joe Pyfer,” said Dana White. Now he gets a chance to do it in the UFC after his KO win on the Contender Series earned him a contract back in July. Amedovski has lost his last three in a row, getting submitted in 64 seconds by Joseph Holmes back in May after almost two years out.
Pyfer is a power striker with good boxing combinations and the 25-year-old has got an experienced mind beyond his years. Amedovski on the other hand is a really powerful striker himself, but he lacks technique and timing and it’s a mystery how he’s still on the roster in reality. If we’re being honest, this is a bit of a set-up fight to get Pyfer some hype in the UFC.
He’s the bigger and more powerful fighter and he’s also got decent wrestling in his back pocket, something Amedovski simply won’t be able to cope with. But Pyfer will step forward and go to war, and that leaves him susceptible to getting KO’d. But with more ways to win, an advantage in technique and arguably more power too, I expect him to get the job done in highlight reel fashion. PICK – Joe Pyfer via Knockout, Round 2
Andre Fili (21-9) vs Bill Algeo (16-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An absolutely brilliant bit of matchmaking in the featherweight decision up next. Fili has just one win in his last five, losing to Bryce Mitchell and getting KO’d by Joanderson Brito in just 41 seconds last time out with a no contest sandwiched between them. Algeo on the other hand is on a two-fight win streak after beating Brito at UFC Vegas 46 and then making Herbert Burns retire mid-round last time out.
Fili is a really exciting striker who has slick boxing and a nice kicking game, while also being a more than competent grappler on the mat too who excels in the scramble. Algeo is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s always ready for a war and he tends to get involved in striking battles a lot due to his love for Muay Thai. He tends to come forward a lot and that will leave him open to counter shots from “Touchy”.
If he chooses to make this a grappling match he has a far better chance of success, but it won’t be easy because his wrestling has never dominated and Fili is a good defensive wrestler too. With his volume and counters on the feet and his ability to defend takedowns or get back to his feet, expect Fili to get back into the win column in this one. PICK – Andre Fili via Decision
Chidi Njokuani (22-7) vs Gregory Rodrigues (12-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A really fun middleweight fight takes up the co-main event slot here. Njokuani is on a four-fight win streak, including knockout wins in the UFC over Marc-Andre Barriault and Dusko Todorovic most recently. Rodrigues saw his own four-fight win streak snapped by Armen Petrosyan, but he got back in the win column by KO’ing Julian Marquez most recently.
Njokuani is a powerhouse striker with excellent Muay Thai skills and great experience when it comes to clinch work and grappling defence. Rodrigues is a powerful striker too who tends to walk opponents down and encourage a brawl, but that is a dangerous strategy in this one.
“Bang Bang” is the more technical striker and if he extends his combinations on the feet he could potentially get a finish here. But Rodrigues is capable of switching it up and going for takedowns to make this ugly, which is his best way to win. The problem with that though is that isn’t “Robocop”s usual game plan and it could have an adverse effect on him, so I think Njokuani will be able to claim a decision victory in a tight affair. PICK – Chidi Njokuani via Decision
Cory Sandhagen (14-4) vs Song Yadong (19-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
One of the best bantamweight fights available right now in a stacked division. Sandhagen suffered back-to-back defeats against TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan (UFC 267) most recently despite stunning performances in both bouts, while Yadong enters on a three-fight win streak after beating Casey Kenny (UFC 265), Julio Arce and most recently Marlon Moraes.
Sandhagen is an incredible striker, with brilliant boxing and kicks as well as explosive attacks like flying knees and superman punches to go with his 5ft 11′ frame. Yadong is a powerful boxer with a more traditional style, with great footwork and decent grappling too that he tends to avoid using. Sandhagen will enjoy this fight because Yadong is often quite static and he often relies on his big right-hand or a short combination to do the damage.
“Sandman” is always happy to go the distance if he needs to, because he’s constantly touching his opponent with good jabs, low kicks and body work. His constant activity is going to be really difficult for Yadong to cope with, and this is comfortably the biggest test of his career. In his first five-rounder, this is a tough task. I expect Sandhagen to wear him out with constant attacks, and while Yadong is powerful I don’t see him putting Sandhagen out with one shot. I think Sandhagen touches him up and puts on a clinic for 25 minutes to claim a win. PICK – Cory Sandhagen via Decision
Elsewhere on the card in the co-main event, Ovince Saint-Preux moves up to heavyweight to take on short-notice opponent Tanner Boser while Raoni Barcelos gets back in the octagon to take on Timur Valiev in an absolute banger at bantamweight.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 29, we went 8/12 on the night with four perfect picks to go up to 346/542 (63.84%) with 155 perfect picks (44.8%).
We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, and predicting the rest of the prelims here, here are our main card picks.
Renato Moicano (14-4-1) vs Jai Herbert (10-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Moicano is a super technical striker with some brilliant jiu-jitsu skills, while Herbert is a fine striker of his own accord but seems to have left his chin behind at Cage Warriors after his last outing. Herbert has good power on his feet too but Moicano’s grappling is so far and away from Herbert’s that it makes it incredibly lopsided.
Moicano can work his way in to grappling range with his striking and can end up getting the fight down and working for a submission. Herbert is technical enough to avoid the submissions on the ground, but Moicano should control on the ground for a wide decision win. PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision
Tim Means (31-12-1) vs Nicolas Dalby (19-3-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Means is a fantastic boxer on the feet but he also has some good wrestling skills, while Dalby is a solid wrestler with some okay boxing skills too. Means doesn’t have top level power but he has enough to put a hurting on someone who doesn’t excel at striking, just like Dalby. Dalby is durable though but even his most recent performances haven’t been too convincing.
Means should pick Dalby apart using his jab and power strikes following them up but I don’t expect he’ll get the knockout. PICK – Tim Means via Decision
Andre Fili (21-8) vs Daniel Pineda (27-14) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Both these guys are really well rounded, but have their main strengths at opposite ends. Fili’s solid grappling is usually his starting spot for game plans, with good volume to his striking and a good ability to mix it up. Pineda is a boxing heavy guy who has some decent grappling skills to fall back on if needed, as seen with his stunning 18 submission wins. It’s a really, really interesting fight that will likely be in the conversation for fight of the night.
With that said Fili is the master of the decision and I think he’s capable of riding out the storm and using his good striking to earn a win. PICK – Andre Fili via Decision
Raoni Barcelos (16-1) vs Timur Valiev (17-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Barcelos is a stunning fighter, with brilliant striking, jiu-jitsu, scrambles and footwork. Valiev is a black-belt in jiu-jitsu too with good kicks but he’s a striker first and foremost and both these guys will come forward and trade. Unfortunately for Valiev, that fight against Jones did happen and you can’t overlook it.
Both guys are fantastic prospects, but Barcelos has the knockout power and durability to stop this one early if it does become a war. PICK – Raoni Barcelos via Knockout, Round 2
Tanner Boser (19-8-1) vs Ovince Saint-Preux (25-15) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Boser is a boxer with a decent kicking game in his arsenal, while OSP is a laboured striker with terrific grappling skills including his own patented choke. OSP has fought at heavyweight before but made his name at 205lbs and Boser is not a small heavyweight fighter. Considering OSP has been KO’d at the smaller weight class before, that doesn’t pose too well against heavyweights.
OSP is likely to try and use his grappling skills in this one but Boser’s takedown defence is good and his striking is better than OSP’s, so I think he’ll take the win after 15 minutes. PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision
Ciryl Gane (8-0) vs Alexander Volkov (33-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Gane is a Muay-Thai fighter with some good grappling skills in his weaponary too, while Volkov is a rangy boxer standing at 6ft 7′ tall. Volkov’s performance against Overeem was arguably his best, as he used his jab brilliantly and stuffed some takedown attempts to keep the fight standing while against Blaydes he really struggled to do that. Blaydes is a far better grappler than Gane though, who is very patient and accurate with his striking.
Volkov’s got real knockout power in his hands and uses his body kicks well, while Gane’s stoppages come more from volume than just putting people away. It’s a really intriguing fight but having never seen Gane lose, it’s hard to know how he reacts to adversity. Volkov will land strikes and he has lots of experience, so I think Volkov is able to get the job done at this stage of their careers. PICK – Alexander Volkov via Knockout, Round 4
Claudio Puelles def Jordan Leavitt via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Interesting start to the fight as both men trade leg kicks and body kicks before Leavitt changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Puelles immediately rolls through to try and reverse but Leavitt holds onto the single leg and forces a scramble for the position. Neither men give anything up and eventually Leavitt is able to get into the guard but only for a few seconds before Puelles kicks him off. Leavitt doesn’t let go and tries to hold him down again but Puelles is eventually able to get back to the feet where they trade leg kicks again. Puelles shoots in for a takedown this time but Leavitt defends it pretty well before Puelles gets into his guard with about 40 seconds left. Neither fight lands any real offence as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Leavitt probably.
Second round more of the same early on from both guys with a few rangy kicks before Leavitt shoots in for a single leg takedown again. Puelles defends it well once again and manages to reverse to end up on Leavitt’s back, but he’s able to reverse into a kneebar attempt to escape and ends up with Puelles in his guard again. Puelles stands up and avoids an up-kick before landing a big left hand as Leavitt looks to get back up and they end up on the ground once again. Puelles looks to take the back and starts throwing a few strikes to free it up but Leavitt is defending faitly well. Puelles locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds to go but nothing else happens and the round ends. 19-19.
Puelles opens up the round with a takedown early on this time and he gets it easily, with Leavitt pretty content to work from his back currently. Leavitt tries to scramble back to his feet but Puelles doing really well to shut it down and starts landing some ground and pound too. Position over submission for Puelles so far but Leavitt is trying to get up again and goes for an inverted triangle but Puelles avoids it pretty easily. Puelles in the north-south position but not doing enough so the referee stands them up with 90 seconds to go, only for Puelles to score an instant takedown once they resume. A bit of ground and pound but nothing crazy and Puelles should waltz to the victory 29-28.
Sean Woodson def Youssef Zalal via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Fast paced start to this one as Woodson takes the centre and looks to pump out his jab, while Zalal is firing leg kicks and firing overhand rights to counter. Zalal starts landing some nice strikes from the middle and Woodson starting to back up a bit, so Zalal shoots for a takedown. Woodson is able to stuff it against the cage though and then lands a couple of nice kicks before a left hand wobbles Zalal! Zalal recovers well and seems to have the speed advantage so is landing first and preventing the jab of Woodson from being effective. Zalal moves in for another takedown but Woodson defends it well against the cage again before they break and Zalal goes for a double leg this time and gets it to end the round on top. 10-9 Zalal but close round.
Woodson comes out strong in the second round and lands some nice body kicks to back Zalal up, but the ‘Moroccan Devil’ avoids it and goes in for a takedown against the cage once again. Zalal breaks and lands an elbow before shooting back in again, then lands another elbow as they separate again. Woodson loading up with kicks and Zalal finding it pretty easy to avoid them, but Woodson lands a nice straight left. Zalal throws a nice left hook that lands before both guys trade leg kicks and then Woodson lands a nice left hand and jab again. Zalal shoots for a takedown against the cage with 20 seconds left but Woodson synchs up a guillotine but just runs out of time. 19-19 for me.
More of the same at the start of the final round as Zalal goes for another takedown and puts Woodson against the cage, but he is able to defend it well again and break out into the centre. Woodson takes the centre and is forcing Zalal backwards now, landing some decent strikes but then Zalal shoots in again to stop that momentum. Woodson throws a couple of nice knees to the body and is looking for a guillotine again but Zalal picks him up to escape with a minute to go. Zalal shoots in again but Woodson switches it and goes for a guillotine from the top, but Zalal explodes out and they get back to swinging to end the fight. 29-28 Woodson but close for sure.
Manon Fiorot def Tabatha Ricci via Knockout, Round 2 (3:00)
Tentative start from both ladies early on as Fiorot uses her significant size advantage to land he patented side kick and jab. Ricci circling on the outside and bursting with some flurries, but Fiorot staying calm and composed and lands a nasty body kick. She follows up with a nice left hook straight to the chin, but Ricci keeps moving and looking for an entry. Huge left straight from Fiorot down the pipe lands and easily denies a takedown attempt. Fiorot fires off a combination but Ricci just about slips it and gets away. Fiorot has the centre and lands a big left hand again but Ricci responds with a nice strike as the round ends. 10-9 Fiorot but Ricci is showing promise.
Fast start to the second round for Fiorot as she starts to hunt Ricci down and throw combinations against the cage. Fiorot goes for a takedown inexplicably but Ricci denies it and eats another combination up top. Ricci trying to throw some leg kicks but Fiorot checks and keeps coming forward, clinching up and landing two big elbows. Fiorot steps forward with a big combination and drops Ricci and starts teeing off! Ricci gets back to her feet but Fiorot keeps pouring it on and eventually the referee mercifully steps in to end it. Huge knockout win!
Alan Patrick vs Mason Jones – NO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)
Absolutely wild first round to start as Jones takes the centre of the octagon and looks to counter some crazy strikes from Patrick. The Brazilian shoots for a takedown but Jones avoids it and lands a nice right hand. Patrick throws some spinning kicks and back fists but Jones is slipping then and responding with big counters. Big exchange of punches from both men as Jones lands a left hand that staggers Patrick. Jones pushes forward with more pressure and Patrick clinches up and pulls guard but Jones starts smashing him with ground and pound. Big, heavy elbows from top position and huge strikes from the top and the referee nearly waves it off but he just runs out of time. 10-9 Jones, great round.
Patrick opens the second round with some more wild techniques before Jones steps in, gets a trip and starts working from top position once again. Some nice ground and pound strikes land but Patrick is able to jump back to his feet. He eats a big left hand and then an accidental eye poke causes a stop. Patrick tells the doctor he can’t see and the fight is waved off. Tough break for Jones.
Steady start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out early on. Amirkhani shoots in for two takedowns but Kirk is able to slip his leg out both times pretty easily. Kirk steps forward and looks to land a right hand but Amirkhani then steps in to close the distance with another shot. This time he gets hold around the body of Kirk and throws him over his head and refuses to let go, before securing a trip and getting heavy on top. Kirk is able to push Amirkhani off and get up relatively quickly though and with no damage before a nice left hand clips Amirkhani. A bit of pressure from Kirk but the round ends, 10-9 either way.
Good start to the second round from Kirk as he steps in with some nice body work and a few straight right hands. Attempted flying knee just misses from Kirk, who then lands a massive right hand right to the side of the head. Three big body shots in a row from Kirk and Amirkhani shoots in again for a takedown but this time gets it, with Kirks attempts at a guillotine and heel hook coming to nothing. Amirkhani now in top position, staying heavy but Kirk throws up a triangle armbar and it’s tight! He locks it out and extends but Amirkhani refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. 20-18 to Kirk for me but could be 19-19 or 20-18 the other way too to be fair.
Final round and Amirkhani lands a big left hand clean on the chin to open up. Both guys look tired and after another left hand from Amirkhani he shoots for the takedown and secures it. Amirkhani heavy on top again, but Kirk throws up another triangle that just can’t get locked up. Kirk gets him back up to the feet but Amirkhani keeps hold of him and drags him down to the mat again, but this time Kirk reverses it and ends up on top. Kirk throwing body shots from the top as Amirkhani just holding him down to stall for time. Kirk postures up and lands a big left hand and the round ends with a stalemate for position. Super close fight, honestly could go either way.
Muslim Salikhov def Francisco Trinaldo via Decision (30-27 x3)
Very tense opening to this fight as both men throw out lots of feints and feelers early on, with Trinaldo coming forward. Salikhov throws a beautiful body kick that slaps, but Trinaldo rushes forward and lands a nice left hand in response. Salikhov taking his time and trying to counter, lands a big overhand right after missing with a left hook and then throwing a big body kick again. Trinaldo coming forward in bursts again and lands a nice left hand to the chin. Salikhov throws a leg kick but it gets checked and then follows up with a big left uppercut that drops Trinaldo! He follows up with some big ground and pound but Trinaldo stays calm on his back and sees it out until the bell. Whew! 10-9 Salikhov.
Good start from Trinaldo in the second round as he comes forward again and bull-rushes Salikhov, landing a nice right hand. Salikhov looks for the uppercut again that just misses, but then follows up with a couple of right hands himself that do land. Trinaldo lands a nice left hand before Salikhov lands a huge right hook that wobbles Trinaldo again! Trinaldo swings some huge punches after he recovers but Salikhov slips them all and lands some nice right hands of his own in between to really start piecing Trinaldo up. Salikhov is seeing the punches coming now and slipping then countering as he throws Trinaldo to the ground. 20-18 Salikhov but Trinaldo is still in this fight.
Final round and Trinaldo comes out swinging once again, but Salikhov counters with a left hook and gets a big eye poke for his troubles. After a pause in the action Trinaldo comes forward and lands a big left hand to that eye that wobbles him. Salikhov responds with a body kick and leg kick, but Trinaldo continues to come forward and look for that big left hand. Salikhov lands a nice leg kick and pushes Trinaldo to the ground at the same time, then eats up some time with a few leg kicks to his grounded opponent too. The referee stands him up and Trinaldo continues to come forward again as we enter the final minute as Salikhov lands a nice straight right hand. Big left hand from Trinaldo forces Salikhov to change levels and dump Trinaldo to the mat to see out the final 30 seconds and surely claim a win. 29-28 Salikhov for me.
Boser taking the centre early on and being the aggressor with some head kick attempts. Latifi just circling on the outside as Boser bounces around and feints some strikes, before another kick attempt gets caught and Latifi puts him on the mat immediately. Latifi works from guard into side control and looks to grind, but Boser is able to swivel his hips and explode back to his feet. Boser steps in with some nice jabs and a left straight but Latifi looking to clinch up every time. Boser lands another big jab and throws another two kicks to see out the round. Tough to score to be honest but I lean to Boser.
Latifi looking to punch his way in early in the second round, stepping forward with a nice overhand right. Boser responds with good foot work and his jab, slipping Latifi’s big punches and just piecing him up rather than landing bombs of his own. Boser steps forward and lands a big right hand that makes Latifi go down holding his eye, but the referee doesn’t step in and Boser goes for the kill! Huge ground and pound strikes against the cage but Latifi defends himself well and eventually clinches up. He shoots for a takedown but Boser defends it and goes for his jabs once again to end the round. 20-18 Boser for me.
Final round and Boser steps out with his jabs again but Latifi goes for an early takedown this time and gets it. Straight into Boser’s guard and this time Latifi is throwing some ground and pound strikes with heavy top pressure, stopping Boser from doing anything significant from his back. More grinding ground and pound from Latifi for almost two minutes at the end of the round and it’s his round but I think Boser will get the nod. 29-28 Boser for me.
*TOM BREESE VS ANTONIO ARROYO CANCELLED DUE TO A MEDICAL ISSUE FOR BREESE*
Montana De La Rosa def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:27)
Very patient start to the fight from both women, as Lipski using some feints as De La Rosa keeps the distance short. A few kick attempts from Lipski but eventually De La Rosa closes the distance, secure a body lock and gets Lipski to the ground. De La Rosa stays heavy on top and works her way to full guard where she starts raining down elbows and cuts Lipski wide open to the side of her eye. Lipski not doing much to get up and De La Rosa is able to just land big strikes at will here as the round ends. 10-9 De La Rosa.
Second round and Lipski lands a big right hand immediately, but De La Rosa shoots and gets the takedown perfectly in response. De La Rosa is able to slide into side control and has Lipski against the cage, keeping her in a really tough position and landing those big elbow strikes once again. Lipski is threatening with a kimura but it doesn’t have much hope and then De La Rosa slides into full mount and starts raining down huge elbows and punches. Lipski trying to roll away but De La Rosa refuses to let her and just keeps thumping away until the referee steps in and ends it! Huge win for De La Rosa!
Gregory Rodrigues def Dusko Todorovic via Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
A super start to the fight from the UFC newcomer as Rodrigues steps forward and is landing his power jab well. Rodrigues firing his right straight perfectly too and is catching Todorovic clean very, very often. A clinch up against the cage sees Rodrigues with a judo throw put Todorovic down, but he gets back up to his feet immediately. More crisp right hands land from Rodrigues as Todorovic just eats them, but he’s walking back with his chin high. Todorovic lands a nice right hand of his own to see out the round but that’s a Rodrigues round clearly. 10-9.
Rodrigues coming out aggressive in the second round and finding a home for that right hand over and over again. Some digs to the body from Rodrigues and another big right hand, before a power double leg secures him a takedown too. Todorovic tries to get up using the cage and eats a knee to he head but is able to get away. Rodrigues lands a big straight right hand on the chin again as Todorovic steps forward and throws a little flurry. Final minute and Rodrigues slips a punch and lands a beautiful left-hook, right hand combo. 20-18 Rodrigues, but he’s start to slow down a little.
Third and final round and Todorovic looks like he’s still trying to make reads. Good jab lands twice and forces Rodrigues backwards, but he replies with another big right hand that lands flush. Rodrigues goes for a takedown but Todorovic defends it well this time. Rodrigues steps forward again and lands some big combinations and then eats a jab for his trouble. Rodrigues lands a big right hand once more and then goes to the body, but Todorovic replies with a nice left hand of his own. Into the final 30 seconds and Todorovic lands some great body shows but eats another right hand. Todorovic goes for the takedown at the end of the round but the buzzer goes and it should be a win for the newcomer.
Santiago Ponzinibbio def Miguel Baeza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this one as Ponzinibbio takes the centre of the cage and looks to land some jabs and his right hand as backs Baeza up against the fence. Baeza responding with his kicks, throwing a lot of heavy leg kicks to the lead leg and throwing his right hand behind it. Baeza blasting those calf kicks and forcing Ponzinibbio backwards, and then he lands a nice left-right hand combo. Ponzinibbio comes forward again and lands a nice left hand but Baeza is throwing more and more leg kicks and they’re really totalling up now. Big flurry from Ponzinibbio at the end of the round lands a couple of strikes but ultimately that’s a Baeza round. 10-9.
Fantastic start to the round from Baeza as he targets the calf kicks once again. Baeza lands three body kicks in a row and as Ponzinibbio throws a jab he gets kicked in the calf once again. Big overhand right from Baeza wobbles Ponzinibbio but Baeza stays calm and doesn’t go straight for the kill. Ponzinibbio throws a few calf kicks of his own and a nice right hand but Baeza then goes back to work with the leg kicks. Ponzinibbio starting to land his jab a lot more now as he comes forward with a big flurry of strikes. Ponzinibbio coming forward constantly and is landing lots of strikes in the second half of this round with big combinations to end the round. 19-19.
Fast start to the final round too as Ponzinibbio steps forward again and they trade jabs. Baeza lands two leg kicks again then follows with a right hand that staggers Ponzinibbio. The Argentine continues to come forward with the lead jab and is now throwing a right hand behind it, but Baeza retaliates with a nice right hand combo to the head and body. Ponzinibbio lands a huge flurry and Baeza is hurt, but Baeza lands two right hands and hurts Ponzinibbio right back! Body kick from Baeza before a left hook lands from Ponzinibbio! Both men trade huge leg kicks and exchange wild hooks. Big uppercut from Baeza but Ponzinibbio lands a big one-two, followed by a Baeza right hand again. Both men spend the final 30 seconds going absolutely crazy with hooks and power punches, with Ponzinibbio getting the better of the exchange to end the round! What a fight! 29-28 Ponzinibbio for me.
Roman Dolidze def Laureano Starapoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Staropoli comes out very early and very quickly with a solid body kick, followed by two heavy leg kicks. He goes for a head kick that misses and Dolidze immediately shoots in for a takedown. Staropoli gets to his feet against the cage but Dolidze keeps a body lock and drags Staropoli down over and over again for almost the full round. A few knees to the thigh from Dolidze but otherwise a pretty dull round. 10-9 Dolidze.
Second round starts with an immediate power double leg from Dolidze who gets the fight down momentarily before they end up against the cage once again, in the same way as they did the first round. Staropoli eventually is able to spin away and get away from the grip of Dolidze and then lands a couple of kicks again. Big left uppercut from Staropoli lets Dolidze change levels and get another takedown. More clinching against the cage as Staropoli tries to escape and finally he does, before going for a takedown of his own and the same stalemate occurring again. 20-18 Dolidze.
Third and final round and we see more of the same from both fighters, with Staropoli unable to get his striking game going at all because of Dolidze’s strength whenever he gets close. Dolidze holding him against the cage throughout and any spec of danger is evaded. 30-27 Dolidze, next please.
Marcin Tybura def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)
Fast start to the round from Harris as he comes forward with intent and starts throwing bombs early. Huge rights and lefts from Harris landing clean but Tybura still standing and wobbling. Harris tries to clinch and goes for knees, then throws a flurry of hooks that drops Tybura again. He goes for a finish but Tybura drives forward for a takedown and gets it against the cage. Harris does well but then Tybura catches a kick and sweeps the leg to get on top. He transitions to the back and puts one hook in, working for a rear naked choke. He then starts landing heavy strikes that are having a big effect on Harris and eventually the referee steps in and ends the fight! Huge knockout win for Tybura!
Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)
Slow start to this one as Rozenstruik takes the centre and flicks out a leg kick or two, but generally both guys just feeling each other out for now. Another leg kick is matched by Sakai this time and then goes for another but Rozenstruik catches it and just misses with a counter right hand. Sakai throws a right hand that misses and Rozenstruik fires back with an overhand that whistles past Sakai. Rozenstruik backs Sakai against the cage and throws a flurry of shots but Sakai defends well. He does it again and this time lands a left hook right hand and Sakai is down! He lands a couple of follow ups just before the horn goes but it’s all over! Huge win!
Patrick is primarily a wrestler, using takedowns to get top control and then keep his opponent down for long enough to secure a judge’s decision as his nine career decision wins show. Jones on the other hand is a gladiator, who steps forward with good boxing skills and a steady set of all-round skills. Jones’ takedown defence is sufficient enough to either completely stuff them or be able to get back up quickly and he has the power and accuracy to hurt Patrick.
The ageing Brazilian’s only path to victory is to hold Jones down and considering the way both their last fights went, it doesn’t look likely – especially at welterweight. PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 2
Francisco Trinaldo (26-7) vs Muslim Salikhov (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Trinaldo has spent the last eight years at lightweight and has put that size advantage to good use, but now returns to 170lbs as he hits 42 years of age. He has good grappling skills and a wicked left-hand, but Salikhov while 36 himself has so many advantages on the feet. Salikhov uses lots of kicks in his attacks and has crisp, fast striking to go with it. Trinaldo will likely look for a takedown but without his usual size advantage he could struggle to find it, leaving Salikhov to pick him apart on the feet.
In the end the speed, accuracy and power advantages mixed with his footwork and gas tank mean Salikhov gets a stoppage late on. PICK – Muslim Salikhov via Knockout, Round 3
Tanner Boser (19-7-1) vs Ilir Latifi (15-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Boser is your typical heavyweight, with decent striking but he throws a leg kick very hard and heavy all the time. Latifi is quite undersized for the division and is only a heavyweight because of a poor diet, but his style is more physical than most. He likes to clinch and look for takedowns but Boser is far too mobile for that and on top of his size advantages is durable enough to take any big punches Latifi might land.
In the end, Boser circles and uses his jab and straight punches well to prevent any sort of takedown and cruise to a comfortable decision win. PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision
Makwan Amirkhani (16-5) vs Kamuela Kirk (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun fight at featherweight between two exciting 145lb-ers as ‘Mr Finland’ takes on ‘The Jawaiian’ on short-notice. Amirkhani has lost two of his last three, getting a win over Danny Henry at UFC 251 in between defeats to Shane Burgos and then Edson Barboza most recently at UFC Fight Island 5. Kirk makes his UFC debut on a little over one-weeks notice on a two-fight win streak having picked up a TKO win just two weeks ago in the LFA.
Amirkhani is a grappling wizard on the mat with 11 submission wins in his career, with fantastic wrestling and exceptional front chokes. Kirk on the other hand is a slick jiu-jitsu fighter in his own right, but he has got excellent boxing and incredible pressure to back his opponents up. Stylistically it’s not a fun match up for Amirkhani but the short notice nature could be enough to help him out.
Despite that though, I think Kirk is solid enough on the ground to not get finished early and if he keeps the fight standing he has a big striking advantage to get a fun win. PICK – Kamuela Kirk via Decision
Montana De La Rosa (11-6-1) vs Ariane Lipski (13-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A return to the cage for Montana De La Rosa as she takes on the ‘Queen of Violence’ in the first women’s fight of the night.
De La Rosa is a fantastic grappler on the mat but her poor takedown game has often seen her struggle against top opposition. Lipski’s striking game lives up to her nickname but defensively her grappling game is essentially non-existent. De La Rosa has shown that she’s pretty durable when it comes to the stand up game and with her style on the mat, it’s hard to see this going any way other than her getting the fight down and beating Lipski up. PICK – Montana De La Rosa via Decision
Note – Ian Heinisch vs Brendan Allen was cancelled a few hours prior to the card starting due to a positive COVID-19 test. The card will proceed with 10 fights, with Giga Chikadze vs Jamey Simmons moving to the main card.
Gustavo Lopez def Anthony Birchak via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:43)
Quick start to the round by Lopez, who comes out and lands two big left hooks and drops Birchak! He has Birchak wobbled against the cage and changes levels quickly to take the fight to the ground. He swarms Birchak, who is defending but can’t quite do anything to keep Lopez off him. Lopez gets his back and starts landing ground and pound, which opens up a rear naked choke opportunity which he sinks in and gets the tap. Very impressive performance.
Max Griffin def Ramiz Brahimaj via Knockout (Injury), Round 3 (2:03)
Slow start to this fight as both men circle each other and throw pot shots as they try to figure each other out. Both fighters landing the odd jab but nothing significant as we enter the final 90 seconds of the round. Brahimaj lands a right hook and then Griffin throws a nice left hand as the two engage in a clinch to end the round. Could be scored either way in honesty. 10-9 Griffin.
Second round begins with Brahimaj coming out with a nice one two before Griffin goes for a body kick but lands flush on the cup so there’s a pause in the action. Griffin starting to throw body shots and combos to open up the guard of Brahimaj. Nice one-two by Brahimaj lands clean but Griffin returns with a straight right through the guard. Griffin is piecing Brahimaj up on the feet and has opened up a cut in this round. Once again the round ends with a clinch between the two but that was much more of a Griffin round. 20-18 for me, could be 19-19.
Faster start to the round for Brahimaj as he looks to press forward but another accidental groin strike pauses his momentum. Griffin has been cut over his right eye now, but he lands a nice combo which wobbles Brahimaj. The two clinch up against the cage as Griffin tries to go for a finish and he lands a huge elbow that essentially rips the ear off Brahimaj’s head. The two continue fighting for a few seconds before the referee spots the injury and stops the fight! TKO win for Griffin but that is nasty!
Darren Elkins def Eduardo Garagorri via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:22)
Immediate takedown from Darren Elkins opens the fight up as he looks to take it to the ground immediately. A bit of ground and pound before Garagorri gets up before being put straight back down several times over. Elkins really wearing Garagorri out with these constant takedown attempts, not allowing him any space to breathe. They finally break with a minute to go and Garagorri lands a head kick but Elkins eats it, then catches a second attempt and ends up in full guard to end the round. 10-9 Elkins.
Elkins comes out and the two look to exchange strikes this time and Garagorri gets the better of it with some nice left hands. At that point Elkins decides enough is enough and puts him on the mat with another takedown, this time holding him down and landing some ground and pound. Garagorri gets back to his feet and breaks away this time, landing a nice spin kick to the body before missing with a big uppercut and allowing Elkins to hold onto him again. Garagorri landing with the left hand a lot more in this round and he’s hurting Elkins, so Elkins goes straight back to the takedown and slams him down onto the mat. The round ends with both guys exchanging strikes on the ground but should be another Elkins round. 20-18.
Both guys showing they’re tired in this round, with Garagorri landing some nice shots once again. A big left hand snaps Elkins’ head back and hurts him but he goes for a flying knee and ends up getting his back taken instead. Elkins locks in a body triangle and makes Garagorri carry all of his weight, while landing big shots and then sinking in a rear naked choke for the tap. Great performance.
Alexander Romanov def Marcos R. de Lima via Submission (Arm Choke), Round 1 (4:48)
Very interesting start to the fight as de Lima throws two big leg kicks to open before a power double leg from Romanov puts him on his back. Romanov looks to pass to a head and arm choke but de Lima explodes back to his feet and lands some heavy punches. More leg kicks from de Lima causing Romanov problems and then he lands some big combos that look to hurt Romanov! Another two takedown attempts against the cage but de Lima defends really well until Romanov explodes and trips him to end up on top. Big ground and pound strikes and then Romanov thrusts his forearm into the throat of de Lima and chokes him out! First forearm choke in UFC history! de Lima is OUT! Hugely impressive win.
Trevin Giles def Bevon Lewis via Knockout, Round 3 (1:26)
Fun start to the round as Giles comes straight out for a takedown and the two clinch against the cage, testing each other’s physical strength early. Giles gets the better of the exchange mostly before they separate and he connects with a couple of nice shots. Another clinch and once again they break, with both guys firing in big shots and Giles landing harder. Big elbow attempt by Lewis against the cage but he doesn’t land and the clinch continues into the final minute. The fighters break and Giles lands a beautiful jab that drops Lewis! Giles gets on top and controls position for the final 30 seconds. 10-9 Giles.
Slower second round as both guys try to feel each other out a bit more on the feet here. Giles trying to work his way into boxing range to use his jab more, but Lewis using his size to stay out of range mostly. Giles’ speed advantage is the difference at the moment as he’s landing first and able to slip out of the way too. Giles lands a big right hand against the cage and Lewis is struggling to find an answer or throw any real volume to trouble him. 20-18 Giles.
Lewis comes out looking for the knockout with heavy strikes being thrown. Giles avoiding them all though and forces Lewis to shoot for a takedown, which he stuffs with a perfect sprawl. A scramble ensues and they get back to the feet. Giles throws a huge one two which rattles Lewis’ brain, then he follows it up with two more strikes that knock Lewis down and the referee steps in to end the fight. Big win and very impressive from Giles.
Yan Xiaonan def Claudia Gadelha via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Good opening to the round for both women, as Gadelha comes out and exchanges in the pocket with Yan before securing a clinch and a takedown. Yan gets back to the feet as Gadelha clinches against the cage once again looking for another takedown, but Yan defends really well until the referee breaks them up. Yan throws a low kick that Gadelha catches and she does get the fight down to the ground again and starts landing some big ground and pound. Big elbow lands and lots of body shots as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Gadelha.
Yan keeping her hopes alive in this round, landing lots of stiff shots and staying out of the range for Gadelha’s takedown hopes. Lots of quick jabs that are being followed with a right cross and she’s marking up the face of Gadelha. Gadelha looks very slow and laboured in this round and Yan continues to press forward with pressure but Gadelha ends an exchange with a nice hook. Yan throws a beautiful right hand straight down the middle that lands flush and she’ll take this round. 19-19.
Yan comes out popping that jab once again but this time Gadelha closes the distance with a clinch against the cage. Yan defends it really well and lands some nice strikes of her own before breaking away. Another laboured attempt from Gadelha but Yan defends again and continues to land strikes from distance. Gadelha is exhausted but goes in for another clinch against the cage but Yan is fresh and strong enough to defend while also attacking from the cage. Big flurry of punches ends the round and should be a win for Yan Xiaonan. 29-28.
Giga Chikadze def Jamey Simmons via Knockout, Round 1 (3:51)
Interesting start to the round as Chikadze shows patience to try and feel out Simmons early on. A few jabs and body kicks but nothing too significant, as Simmons looks for a takedown but is stuffed twice by the Georgian. Big body kick from Chikadze hurts Simmons and then he follows it up with a big head kick that drops Simmons! He jumps on him with ground and pound and the referee calls it off! Comfortable win for Chikadze.
Raoni Barcelos def Khalid Taha via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Fun start to the fight as both men come out swinging hell for leather early on. Barcelos chops at the leg of Taha and drops him with it before landing a nice jab. Taha fires back but another leg kick drops him again. Barcelos keeping a relentless pace and lands some huge punches, then throws some big Muay-Thai knees to the head. Taha fires back with some big punches of his own and Barcelos goes in for a takedown. Dominant on the floor, he’s transitioning from position to position and tries to sink in a rear naked choke but Taha is able to defend it and eventually reverses the position. Barcelos throws up an armbar but again Taha is able to defend before they get back to the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Barcelos, great round.
A blistering pace to this fight so far as both men look to push the other to their limit. Barcelos firing in low kicks but Taha reading well and returning with hooks. Both men exchange in the pocket and Barcelos fires in a beautiful flying knee that lands clean but Taha just eats it. Accidental groin strike from Barcelos causes a pause in the action halfway through the round. Barcelos countering Taha’s strikes beautifully but he’s sticking around and proving why he’s in there to begin with. Head kick attempt from Barcelos followed up by hooks, and straights from Barcelos. Final 10 seconds and Barcelos lands a big left hand that hurts him! He’s looking for the finish and lands a big combo but Taha is saved by the buzzer! 20-18 Barcelos.
Final round and Barcelos is looking to start where he left off with big shots. Leg kicks are really hurting Taha and he’s following it up with huge combinations that are rocking Taha. Barcelos picks the leg and takes the fight to the ground as he takes his back and looks for a rear naked choke. Taha defends it well but Barcelos goes into half guard and starts rattling off ground and pound. The fight gets back to the feet and Taha lands two big hooks as Barcelos starts showing some signs of slowing down. Stiff right hand from Barcelos rocks Taha again but he refuses to go down. Leg kick again as Taha walks forward in the final minute before another leg kick drops Taha again! Taha shoots for a takedown with 20 seconds left but Barcelos stuffs it and then they start swinging wild hooks at each other as the round comes to an end. What a fight. 30-27 Barcelos.
Andrei Arlovski def Tanner Boser via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Standard slow start for the big boys as both guys look to feel each other out early on. Boser throws a couple of leg kicks that Arlovski tries to check, before fainting with the jab. More leg kicks before Arlovski throws a jab and leg kick of his own. Arlovski flies in with a head kick attempt but Boser steps out of the way unfazed. Big overhand right lands from Arlovski right at the end of the round but still a Boser round for me. 10-9.
Another slow start to this round as Boser once again comes out with leg kicks, while Arlovski seems to be hanging back looking for counter striking opportunities. Arlovski lands a big overhand right that Boser eats, before landing another straight right moments later. Boser continuing to try and throw leg kicks and then lands with a nice left hand. Neither fighter really committing to offence but Boser is throwing leg kicks a lot. Pretty dull round overall. 19-19.
Final round and both guys come out a little quicker this time around but Boser is continuing with the attack on the legs. Nice jab from Boser is followed by a big right cross by Arlovski but once again he just eats it. Boser still doing lots of fainting but Arlovski isn’t biting. Nice right hand lands again from Arlovski as we enter the final minute of the fight. Fight ends with nothing significant happening. Scorecard could be anything.
Quick start to the round as Santos comes out early and establishes himself with some body kicks. Suddenly he explodes with a huge right hook and lands a big combination that drops Teixeira! He goes for the kill but Glover looks for a takedown, Santos continues striking hard but Glover eats them and eventually stalls the attack. Glover moves to the back and slams Santos down to the mat and moves straight into mount. Glover spends the rest of the round dominating position from the top and landing some nice ground and pound. Somehow, its a Glover round. 10-9.
Strong start to the second round from Glover as he gets an early takedown and moves straight back into top control again. Big elbows from the half guard by Glover and hammer fists land hard as he looks to progress into full mount. Santos doing next to nothing to get back to his feet and Glover is having his way with him on the mat. Glover moves into side control and lands big elbows again in the final minute of the round but that’s a dominant round from the 41 year old. 20-17 for me.
Third round starts with a bang! Santos stuffs the immediate takedown attempt from Glover and lands a massive left hand that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish again but Glover defends well from the bottom but Santos unloading with ground and pound. Glover eats the shots and somehow reverses the position, ends up on Santos’ back, sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap. What a fight! Unbelievable performance from Glover Teixeira.
There are currently scheduled to be 11 fights on this card, with six prelim bouts followed up by a five-fight main card. I have already predicted the prelims here and will now try to predict the main card.
Last time out I secured a great round of predictions with 10/11 correct picks, including four perfect picks. Lets see if I can’t improve that this time around.
Claudia Gadelha (18-4) vs Yan Xiaonan (12-1 1NC) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A classic striker vs grappler bout in this one, as Gadelha looks to make it three wins in a row against Xiaonan in the most exciting women’s division. Xiaonan is undefeated in the UFC, winning all five of her fights so far and currently 10-0 with one no contest in her last 11 fights. Gadelha is a tremendous grappler who has a few issues with cardio, often fading away in the latter parts of fights. Xiaonan is a very active kickboxer, who has been working on her takedown defence even more so in recent weeks. Her excellent ability to keep a fast pace throughout the entire fight will also play a big part and while it’s possible Gadelha gets her down and controls her on the ground, I think this is Xiaonan’s fight to lose. PICK – Yan Xiaonan via Decision
Ian Heinisch (14-3) vs Brendan Allen (15-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The fight of the night as far as my picks go for that, two very good middleweights go head to head. Heinisch got back into the win column at UFC 250 against Gerald Meerschaert following two back-to-back defeats prior to that. Allen is on a seven fight win streak, including a stoppage win over Kevin Holland and a decision over Kyle Daukaus last time out. Allen is a phenom on the ground, with 8 submission wins on his record while also capable on his feet. Heinisch is also a tremendous wrestler but has struggled in the past against the pure strikers he’s faced. It’s really a battle of who turns up on the night because it really is a 50/50 fight. Heinisch has good leg kicks and body work, so if he can prevent Allen’s takedowns he should win. Something tells me though that Allen will be able to get top position and grind out a win. PICK – Brendan Allen via Decision
Raoni Barcelos (15-1) vs Khalid Taha (13-2 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A short notice fight as Barcelos steps in on short notice to take on Taha in place of Jack Shore. Barcelos is currently on an eight fight win streak, including a win over Said Nurmagomedov last time out at the back end of 2019. He has a fantastic skillset, where he has proven he has knockout power to go with his counter-striking as well as a great base for his ground game. Taha is a powerhouse on the feet with serious knockout power though so Barcelos will have to be careful for the most part. Barcelos should prove himself to be too well rounded during this fight though and I expect him to get the fight to the ground and secure a submission win. PICK – Raoni Barcelos via Submission, Round 2
Andrei Arlovski (29-19 2NC) vs Tanner Boser (19-6-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The legendary Arlovski is back in the octagon and he’ll take on a man who is looking for his third win of 2020. Boser knocked out Phillipe Lins in June before then knocking out Raphael Pessoa a month later. Arlovski’s last fight was also against Phillipe Lins but he got the win via a decision. Arlovski has great output for a 41 year old and he obviously has knockout power but Boser is the guy with the advantages right now. He has a wicked leg kick and has shown in the past that he can go the distance quite comfortably. In recent fights though he has shown a willingness to go for the kill and that is something Arlovski won’t be looking forward to. A string of combinations lands in the second and gets the legendary Russian out of there. PICK – Tanner Boser via Knockout, Round 2
Thiago Santos (21-7) vs Glover Teixeira (31-7) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A fight to determine who’s at the top of the light heavyweight division, Thiago Santos makes his return to the octagon for the first time since July 2019 when he lost a title fight to Jon Jones, while Teixeira is coming off a thumping win over Anthony Smith. Santos has terrifying knockout power and a fantastic kicking game, while Glover is a boxer first and foremost but his ground game is fantastic too. If Glover gets the fight down to the ground, he’s almost always able to keep it there and dominate whoever is under him. Santos is incredibly explosive though and isn’t a novice on the ground either but his wrestling is poor. Santos is so powerful on the feet though, I think he’ll be able to land flush on Glover relatively early on and end the fight before his ground game gets tested too much. PICK – Thiago Santos via Knockout, Round 2