The UFC returns after a two-week break with a huge pay-per-view card headlined by two massive title fights.
Alexander Volkanovski makes the third defence of his featherweight title when he takes on Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, in the main event.
In the co-main event we get the long awaited rematch at the top of the bantamweight division as Aljamain Sterling makes his first defence of the belt against Petr Yan, a little over a year after he won it via disqualification.
We’ll also see an incredible welterweight fight between Gilbert Burns and the freight-train that is Khamzat Chimaev before that, to see just how real the hype is.
Last time at UFC Columbus we went 7/12 with four perfect picks, which moves us to 585/903 (64.78%) with 248 perfect picks (42.39%).
Vinc Pichel (14-2) vs Mark O Madsen (11-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really interesting lightweight fight opens up the main card here. Pichel has won seven of his last eight including his last three in a row against Roosevelt Roberts, Jim Miller and Austin Hubbard all via decision. Madsen is an undefeated fighter, going 3-0 in the UFC including a split decision win over Clay Guida last time out.
Pichel is a well-rounded fighter, with some crisp striking and good power that has earned him eight knockout wins in his career. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler, who tends to fight behind his jab and walk forward. While the takedown will be there all day for Madsen, Pichel is very good at getting up and tends to get stronger as the fight goes on.
Madsen has had a problem with his cardio in the past and if he tries to fight like he did against Guida here, it won’t be enough to earn a win because he has more power and a far better gas tank. Madsen will likely start well and could even win the first round, but eventually Pichel should be able to turn the tide and land enough on the feet while tiring Madsen out to earn a tight decision win. PICK – Vinc Pichel via Decision
Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs Tecia Torres (13-5) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
A really fun women’s strawweight fight up next. Dern was on a four-fight win streak before stepping into a main event against Marina Rodriguez, who out-struck her to earn a decision win. Torres on the other hand snapped a four-fight losing streak and is now on a run of three wins in a row, defeating Angela Hill at UFC 265 most recently.
Dern is one of the very best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters on the planet, male or female, and looks to get fights down to the ground as quickly as possible to work that submission game. She does struggle with takedowns, but her striking has improved in recent fights too. Torres on the other hand is a bulldog who uses great forward pressure and boxing skills, while her defensive wrestling is pretty good too. This is a battle entirely about whether or not Dern can get the fight down, and her size advantage leans me to think she can.
Torres is only 5ft 1 tall and while Dern isn’t the biggest at 5ft 4, she’s got a two inch reach advantage. Dern will likely kick from distance and try to clinch to be able drag Torres down, who will need to get in and out with her boxing. I just can’t see her doing that for 15 minutes, so I expect Dern to be able to get her down, find her way to an arm or the back and sink in a submission to get back on the winning trail. PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2
Gilbert Burns (20-4) vs Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
One of the most highly anticipated fights of the year so far takes place in the welterweight division. Burns went on a huge six-fight win streak before falling to Kamaru Usman in a title fight at UFC 258 last year. He returned to the win column by dominating Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 in his last fight. Chimaev is the most exciting fighter in the UFC right now, winning all four of his bouts while absorbing a combined total of just one strike. His most recent win against Li Jingliang at UFC 267 saw him choke him unconscious in the first round while talking to Dana White.
Burns is a wrestle-boxer who has got legitimate world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills too, with good knockout power and some brilliant cardio too. Chimaev is an absolute man mountain, who either knocks your lights out early or just launches in for a takedown and dominates you until the referee pulls him off. This is such a hard fight to call, because it’s by far the toughest fight of Chimaev’s career but you cannot ignore what he’s done so far in the octagon.
It’s highly unlikely that Chimaev will dominate Burns in the same way he has won all his previous fights in the UFC, but I do think he will win. He has got a huge size advantage, having fought at middleweight in the past too and his wrestling was good enough to dominant Jack Hermansson in a wrestling match not too long ago. He has great power in his hands, amazing control and while Burns could definitely cause an upset, I can’t look past Chimaev to earn the victory. PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Decision
Aljamain Sterling (20-3) vs Petr Yan (16-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
The rematch we’ve all been waiting for, is finally upon us. Aljamain Sterling hasn’t fought since the first bout back at UFC 259, where Yan kneed him in the head illegally and was disqualified which put Sterling on a six-fight win streak. Yan bounced back from that disappointment to defeat Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 to become the interim champion and means he’s now won 11 of his last 12.
Sterling is a fantastic wrestler and jiu-jitsu fighter, with unorthodox striking on the feet and a very rangy style. Yan is the most well-rounded fighter in MMA right now, with no real weaknesses and some of the best boxing and defensive wrestling in the world. In the original fight I picked Sterling to score a submission win, but after watching the fight it’s pretty clear that Yan has his number.
The Russian was able to stuff takedowns regularly, box him up from the inside and outside and his cardio held up much better than Sterling’s too. With the added bad blood now involved, expect Yan to really turn it up in the later rounds and pour on the pressure to score a late finish and reclaim his championship. PICK – Petr Yan via Knockout, Round 4
Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) vs Korean Zombie (17-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
The featherweight king returns against a new opponent and has a chance to further cement himself as the best in the world here. Volkanovski has won 20 fights in a row, including consecutive bouts over Max Holloway and then most recently Brian Ortega at UFC 266. Korean Zombie has won three of his last four, getting dominated by Ortega at UFC Fight Island 6 but bouncing back with a dominant win over Dan Ige at UFC Vegas 29 last time out. He gets this fight after Holloway withdrew due to injury.
Volkanovski runs Yan close for being the most complete fighter in the world right now. He has got unbelievable cardio, is an accomplished striker with good power and also some excellent wrestling skills to go with it. Zombie earned his nickname because of his ability to take damage and keep coming forward, but Ortega really showed the holes in his game in their fight.
The champion has got plenty of avenues to victory, because he has the edge everywhere. Jung definitely has the power to land clean and hurt Volkanovski, but I’ll be incredibly surprised if that happens. Volkanovski is cerebral enough to take a decision win if he needs too, but I expect him to lay claim to some big ground and pound after landing a takedown and earn his first finish since beating Chad Mendes back in 2018. PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Knockout, Round 3
Johnny Munoz def Jamey Simmons via Submission (Rear naked choke), Round 2 (2:35)
Cagey start from both men to start out, with neither man looking to grapple early on. Simmons swings a big overhand right that Munoz ducks and goes for a takedown but Simmons avoids easily. Munoz flicking out the jab to keep the distance while Simmons has him against the cage and looks for some more power strikes. Munoz pushing forward with the jab and gets clipped by a left hand by Simmons that causes him to lose balance, but he’s not hurt and gets back to his feet immediately. Short blitz from Munoz and he just misses with a head kick as we enter the final minute of the fight. Simmons lands a nice one-two and then Munoz ducks under and lands a big takedown late in the round. Simmons battles well off his back and the round ends. Super close, I’d go 10-9 Munoz for the takedown but could really go either way.
More of the same to start the second round as Simmons comes out looking to blitz through some jabs, before Munoz ducks under and times a takedown perfectly. Munoz starts working for position and as soon as Simmons goes to his knees Munoz takes his back and puts the hooks in. He starts landing some ground and pound and looks for the rear-naked choke but Simmons fights the hands and breaks the grip. He goes back to his knees but Munoz drags him back down, locks in the choke and gets the tap! Big win for Munoz!
Melissa Gatto def Victoria Leonardo via Doctor’s Stoppage (Broken Arm), Round 2 (5:00)
Good start to the bout from Gatto as she lands a quick one two and then secures a body lock against the cage. She controls the clinch and then with an inside trip gets the takedown nice and easily before starting to search for submissions. She goes for the neck, then moves to a kimura attempt and then ends up on Leonardo’s back looking for chokes and armbars. Leonardo defending well though and eventually is able to roll through and get on top to land a bit of ground and pound herself. Gatto throws up a high guard and is being very active but Leonardo is defending well, following the hips and eventually allows the fight to get back up. Both women clinch and go for an inside trip but both fail at it and the round ends. 10-9 Gatto, but Leonardo can take some encouragement from the ground exchanges.
Second round and Gatto looks a lot fresher than Leonardo, landing a nice jab and forcing Leonardo backwards. Leonardo lands two nice left hands but Gatto is still there and pushing the pace with her range, landing a one-two. Then another one-two and Leonardo looks rocked there, but she comes forward again with a low kick. Gatto continuing to push the pace and lands a nice kick. Leonardo looks tired and Gatto putting the pressure on with strikes, forces Leonardo to shoot but it’s well defended. Leonardo goes for another takedown but is denied again and is stepping backwards a lot, clearly exhausted. 20-18 Gatto for me but could be 19-19.
Between rounds Leonardo says her right arm “isn’t working”. Doctor comes in, takes a look and says that it’s broken. Leonardo says she can fight through it but the referee waves the fight off. Gatto gets the win.
Miles Johns def Anderson Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 3 (1:16)
Tactical start to the fight from both men as they look to control the range, but it’s Johns who is landing the better shots early. Santos looking for clinches but Johns lands two big left hands and then two leg kicks, the last of which drops Dos Santos. Johns landing his jab with ease, but Dos Santos fires back with a right hand. Johns landing jabs at will and another leg kick is causing big problems for Dos Santos. Straight right hand just misses from Johns and Dos Santos forces his way forward but he’s in a lot of trouble with his leg. Johns lands a couple more strikes and Dos Santos is visibly limping. 10-9 Johns, Dos Santos needs to find a solution.
Johns opens up the second round by staying just out of range and using his big right hands to use the injured leg against Dos Santos. Some huge right hands land from Johns but Dos Santos is still standing and lands a nice knee himself. Johns lands a nice body shot and follows with a hook but Dos Santos shoots for a takedown. Johns denies it and lands a huge leg kick again that drops Dos Santos. Dos Santos coming forward but his leg is jacked and Johns is being patient, to the point where Dos Santos puts his hand behind his back. Johns lands a big one two and stays out of the way of any counters but Dos Santos takes it and the round ends. 20-18 Johns.
Final round starts and it’s more of the same from both men, as Johns lands a big right hand followed by a nice combination. Wild exchange from both guys as Dos Santos keeps coming forward. Johns digs a left body shot and lands a huge right hook and puts Dos Santos out cold!! What a knockout!! Wow!!
Manel Kape def Ode Osbourne via Knockout, Round 1 (4:44)
Osbourne takes the centre early on as both men are bouncing and feeling each other out. Kape lands a nice one-two and then a jab to the body, while Osbourne is looking to counter with his big left hand. Kape throws a kick but Osbourne catches it and as Kape falls Osbourne lands a big left hand. Kape and Osbourne both looking to counter each other, and Osbourne lands two excellent left hands clean on the chin. Kape responds with a left straight of his own and steps away. Kape stepping backwards switches stances and lands a huge flying knee bang on the chin that puts Osbourne down! He follows it up with some ground and pound and the referee steps in to end it! What a knockout! Wow!
Interesting start to the fight as Penne lands some quick strikes to rattle KK early. Penne throws a kick that KK catches and Penne falls backwards, which allows KK to throw some big leg kicks while she’s down. She chooses to engage on the ground and Penne is able to sweep her and take top position. She lands some decent strikes from the top and KK fights well from the bottom and attacks a kneebar, but Penne scrambles well and eventually rolls through into an armbar. KK is looking to extend the arm and is attacking the body to free up KK’s grip but she’s battling hard. Penne finally manages to extend the arm and gets the tap! Impressive performance from the veteran!
Alonzo Menifield def Ed Herman via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Menifield comes out fast with some heavy right hands but Herman just about avoids them, before Menifield lands some nice leg kicks. Herman lands a jab, but Menifield responds with one of this own before an overhand just misses again. Herman jab again but Menifield just misses with the counter right and Herman lands a check-left hook that rattles Menifield and cuts the eye. Menifield starting to throw the jab more but Herman throwing with him, so Menifield throws a hard low kick again. Menifield lands two more big leg kicks and gets some big reactions from Herman because of it. 10-9 Menifield.
Herman comes forward very aggressive out of the gate in this round looking to land his left hand, but Menifield moving well and then lands a big right hand of his own. Herman lands a jab but then eats a hard low kick and a jab himself. Menifield loses balance and falls but explodes back up to his feet and then starts throwing bombs of his right hand. Herman is hurt but still standing and Menfield stops pushing for the finish to save himself. Herman lands a big uppercut himself but Menifield eats it. A few hard leg kicks again from Menifield and some good footwork to avoid Herman who’s hunting him right now. Another hard leg kick and Herman is limping badly and forced to switch stances. Lots of jostling in the final seconds but then Herman goes for a push kick and Menifield moves away and then smashes a hard low kick again that drops Herman on the buzzer. 20-18 Menifield.
Menifield comes out hard in the final round and Herman pulls guard immediately but eats some heavy ground and pound shots. Menifield moves to side control, lands some strikes then gets up and tells Herman to get back up too. Menifield staying very patient and lands a nice left hand against the cage, but Herman is just looking to survive right now by circling and avoiding damage. Big head kick from Menifield lands but not much action in this round so far. Big right hand from Menifield lands clean but Herman is still standing somehow. Big one-two from Menifield as he stays on the outside. Big right hand misses and Herman lands a left but Menifield lands a jab and moves away to end the fight. 30-27 Menifield.
Cagey start to this fight from both men, with Morales stepping forward but not throwing much and Rodriguez just flicking out the stiff jab well. Morales throws a decent right overhand to counter Rodriguez’s jab, but the jab lands cleaner and is doing a fair bit of damage to the nose. Morales keeping Rodriguez pinned to the cage but he’s moving well and then Rodriguez lands a nice right hand to create himself some space. Right overhand and uppercut just misses from Morales before he ducks under a Rodriguez shot and secures a body lock to try and get the takedown. Rodriguez does well to get to the cage though and then separates to stay on the feet. Short exchange and Rodriguez lands a flush right hand on the buzzer. 10-9 Rodriguez for me.
Second round starts very well for Morales as he catches a low kick from Rodriguez and throws a straight right hand down the pipe that drops him! He goes to ground but Rodriguez defends and he then steps up and allows Rodriguez back to his feet. Rodriguez lands a short left hook back on the feet and then he goes for a takedown of his own, but Morales defends mostly until Rodriguez switches to a single but then he scrambles back up to his feet. Rodriguez then sweeps him back down but Morales gets back up quickly again before being dumped down and getting back up. Morales starting to land his right hands but Rodriguez responds with a low leg kick and a right hand. Short one-two lands from Rodriguez before a left hook lands again, but Morales is still in there and doing well. 20-18 Rodriguez for me.
Cagey start to the third round once again as Morales starts to come forward a bit more aggressively, but Rodriguez landing his straight right hand well. Both men throwing at a similar volume and Rodriguez goes for a takedown but it’s denied. Morales starts chasing but Rodriguez avoiding a lot of damage with good footwork. Morales goes for the takedown but Rodriguez defends it brilliantly against the cage and then misses with a head kick. Final minute of the fight now and Morales is pushing forward throwing heavy left hands, but they’re largely missing. Rodriguez lands a big counter right hand and then Morales lands a big left as the fight comes to an end. Morales round, but 29-28 Rodriguez for me. Could go either way though.
Rafael Fiziev def Bobby Green via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Cagey start from both men as Fiziev looks to land some kicks early but Green is out of the way relatively easily. Nice right hand from Green lands as Fiziev looks to throw another body kick and two hooks. Left hand from Green misses then Fiziev charges forward with a nice combination that ends with a kick, but he mostly misses. Green is landing some slick shots but Fiziev is dangerous and busy with his kicks and then just misses with an elbow. Right hand and body kick lands from Green but Fiziev responds with a nice elbow before both men make each other miss just on the buzzer. Really tough round to score, 10-9 Green probably but really could be either way.
Second round and Fiziev lands a hard low kick and a big right hook but Green eats it. Green clinches up but eats an elbow before responding with a nice right of his own, before Fiziev steps forward with two hooks. Green catches a kick and tries to force Fiziev down but he stays standing so well and steps forward again with hooks and kicks. Green is slipping strikes perfectly but he’s eating leg and body kicks more frequently now. Both men land big body kicks but Fiziev then lands a big strike that rocks Green. Fiziev throws knees and hooks but Green eats it and pushes him away, then clinches after avoiding a head kick. Fiziev’s kicks starting to take effect but Green is still there and throwing hands back well. Both guys trade leg kicks then Fiziev lands a big elbow and cuts Green. Both guys throwing hooks and jabs and really going to war. What a round. 19-19 for me.
Fire start to the final round once again as Fiziev steps forward again and lands a big right hand that rocks Green. Green stands firm and both men start throwing down in the centre of the octagon. Fiziev throws some hard leg kicks but Green throwing one-twos down the middle again. Fiziev and Green going to war with hard hooks and feints. Green lands some big hooks and two one-twos of his own down the middle. Fiziev throwing body and leg kicks but Green is still pushing forward with big punches of his own. Green looks fresher and is landing the jabs and then catches Fiziev’s body kick attempt to land a knee to the body of his own. Huge short elbow from Fiziev and then Green lands some huge bombs with the right hand as the fight ends! What a crazy fight. 29-28 Green for me, but it’s all on that first round.
Song Yadong def Casey Kenney via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Fast start to the fight as Yadong steps forward and throws fast combinations early, while Kenney looks to close the distance and pressure Yadong. Body kick from Kenney lands but Yadong catches it. Kenney taunts Yadong by laughing at him so Yadong throws a solid body kick and Kenney responds with a hard low leg kick. Yadong throwing good combinations and kicks, not allowing Kenney to settle and back him against the fence. Yadong goes for a kick but slips and Kenney jumps on him immediately, but Yadong works his way back up to the feet quickly and escapes. Both guys just miss with big hooks as the round ends. 10-9 Yadong.
Second starts off exactly the same as Yadong steps forward but Kenney looking to apply pressure. Nice body shots from Yadong and then Kenney replies with a nice left hook onto the chin. Kenney forcing Yadong backwards and throwing low kicks, but Yadong replies with his own low kicks too. Yadong circling away but Kenney is pushing and Yadong is slowing down. Not a single takedown attempt yet from Kenney is surprising. Nice left hand from Kenney but then Yadong replies with a nice right. Two left hands land from Kenney and Yadong clinches against the cage, before Kenney switches and goes for the takedown himself to end the round. Closer round, 19-19.
Final round and Yadong is landing his strikes better, with Kenney slowing down a little and being less bouncy and mobile. Yadong with three hard body kicks but Kenney continues to come forward and looking to land jabs. Kenney throws a head kick and the knee connects with the head but Yadong eats it and comes forward. Good body shots from Yadong and Kenney shoots for a takedown, but Yadong sprawls and denies him. Yadong lands a jab and two body kicks but Kenney throws a nice right hook. Final minute and Kenney goes for the takedown again but Yadong sprawls once more. Kenney ducks under a strike and secures a takedown with seconds left and lands some big elbows from the top to end the round. I think that’s 29-28 Yadong but that’s a really close fight again.
Tecia Torres def Angela Hill via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Good start to the fight from Torres as she gets herself into range and lands some nice strikes and flurries. Hill looks to clinch up and then catches a kick to put Torres on the ground then looks to hold her down, but Torres does really well to get up and out of it. Hard leg kick from Torres on Hill, who comes forward with a one-two and a head kick attempt but they all miss. Torres shoots for a takedown but Hill gets immediately back up. Torres lands a body kick then just misses with a spinning back fist. Torres ducks under a strike and goes for a takedown but bails and lands some big strikes, but Hill replies with three of her own. Big kicks from Torres to end the round as Hill tries for a takedown. 10-9 Torres.
Hill pushing the pressure in the second round as Torres uses her side kicks to push her away and keep the range between them. Hill lands two nice strikes as Torres looks for a kick, but then she lands a big check-right hook and pivots away. Big side kick to the body again from Torres and then two big hooks. She goes for the kick again but Hill catches it and pulls her in for a body lock and takedown attempt, before landing some knees against the cage and a right hand on the break. Head kick from Torres and Hill grabs for the clinch. Hill throws knees but Torres avoids most of them and lands some huge hooks of her own in the clinch before they break. Wild exchange from both ladies and Hill gets the better of it with a big left hand. Big flurry ends with Torres on her back and Hill moves into mount immediately but the round ends. 20-18 Torres for me.
Final round and Hill is coming forward aggressively again and looks to clinch and trip her. Torres too quick though and is moving well, landing nice right hands well. Hill putting the pressure on and sprawls to deny a Torres takedown then lands a nice right hand. Torres goes for a kick that Hill catches again and lands a big right hand down the middle, but Torres keeps throwing strikes in return. Nice right hand from Hill and then a knee in the clinch but Torres breaks away. Big lunging right hand from Torres lands again before Hill goes in for a takedown but gets denied. Torres changes levels and gets a takedown with 20 seconds to go and lands some good ground strikes before the buzzer goes. 30-27 Torres for me, competitive but pretty straight forward.
Vicente Luque def Michael Chiesa via Submission (D’Arce Choke), Round 1 (3:25)
Very cagey start to the round with Chiesa circling on the outside and Luque holding the centre. Hard low kick lands from Luque and Chiesa fires off a big one-two that cuts Luque’s eye immediately. Luque comes forward hard and Chiesa ducks under and gets the takedown. Immediately he slides the knee over and takes the back to start searching for a rear naked choke. He has a crank in tight but Luque fights the hands and Chiesa switches to an armbar but loses it. As they go to get up to the feet Luque sinks in a d’arce choke and it’s tight! Chiesa tries to fight it but Luque tightens it and Chiesa taps! Wow!
Jose Aldo def Pedro Munhoz via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to the fight from Munhoz as he takes the centre and throws a couple of hard leg kicks. Head kick attempt misses from Munhoz and then Aldo makes him miss with the hands too. Nice one-two from Aldo and then a straight right lands nicely too. Nasty left hook to the body from Aldo and a jab, but Munhoz still has the centre and is throwing bombs with his right hand. Nice right hand from Munhoz and he’s swinging for the stands, but Aldo counters with a body shot and uppercut. 10-9 Aldo.
Munhoz coming very aggressive again with some leg kicks but Aldo is checking them and then throws one of his own. Munhoz stepping in with more leg kicks and a looping right hand but Aldo hangs in there and fires back with a big right hand before a combination to the body. Aldo’s jab is landing well and defensively he looks sound as usual, with Munhoz struggling to land anything of note so far. Aldo checks a leg kick then goes back for the body combination, but Munhoz’s leg kicks are still there and he’s still in Aldo’s face. Aldo fakes the right knee and lands a big right straight as the round ends. Another close round, but I think that’s 20-18 Aldo.
Final round and Munhoz comes out with a big blitz early on. Aldo returns fire with a beautiful combo of his own before Munhoz clinches up. Aldo working the jab again as Munhoz goes for a spinning capoeira kick and misses. Triple jab from Aldo lands and he follows it with a big combination to the chin. Hard low kick from Aldo but Munhoz responds with a hard right hand and Ado retreats a little. Big leg kick from Aldo drops Munhoz and he follows it up with two hard right hands that cut Munhoz over the eye. Aldo lands a three-punch combo and follows it with a leg kick that gets a big reaction from Munhoz again. Final 30 seconds and Munhoz goes for a big spinning wheel kick before Aldo hits him with another big combo and leg kick to see the fight out. Should be a big win for Aldo. 30-27.
Ciryl Gane def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 3 (4:11)
Lewis opens the fight with a high kick and slips and then Gane slides a right hand in on his way back up. Gane bouncing, with some light leg kicks and pokes to the knee as Lewis starts to step forward. Lewis changes levels to load up his right hand but Gane scoots out of the way and evades before he even throws. Leg kicks from Gane once again and then Lewis throws a right hand to the body. Lewis goes for an inside leg kick but catches the cup flush and causes a pause in the action. Lewis steps forward again and Gane immediately ducks under and clinches up before they break. Lewis swings a big right hand again but Gane literally runs away from it before resetting. Big right hand from Gane before a hard low kick and then a stiff jab to the face as the round ends. 10-9 Gane.
Second round and Gane once again comes out with his jab landing flush. Lewis lands a hard leg kick and then tries a flying switch kick but Gane is too quick and is gone before he gets there. Gane with some more short kicks to the leg before Lewis explodes and tries to rush Gane, only for Gane to throw him off to the side. Flying knee attempt from Gane sees them end up in a clinch and Gane throwing big knees to the thighs and overpowering Lewis against the cage. Gane lets a big elbow and right hand fly but both just miss as the round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Some heavy leg kicks land from Gane to open the round before a right hand over the top just clips Lewis. Another hard leg kick, then another and then another as Lewis struggles to get any sort of offense going. High kick from Lewis is blocked and then Lewis goes to clinch up, but once again Gane just stuffs his attemts. Knee to the body in the clinch and then a big leg kick again and Lewis is hurt bad! Gane goes in for the finish and lands some huge strikes to the head and Lewis is covering up. Lewis throws a few haymakers but misses wildly and then Gane throws a big knee and more strikes that drop Lewis. He gets on top and lands some bombs and the referee steps in! It’s allll over! Ciryl Gane with a huge knockout win. What a performance.
The UFC heavyweight division moves a step closer to naming a solidified number one contender as Derrick Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265.
After a deal with Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones couldn’t be found, the UFC moved to keep the division moving and will see the number two and three ranked heavyweights battle it out in the main event with the winner essentially guaranteeing themselves the next shot at the belt.
In the co-main event Jose Aldo continues his push for bantamweight greatness when he takes on Pedro Munhoz, while the welterweight division looks to create a new contender too as Michael Chiesa takes on Vicente Luque.
We skipped last week’s Hall vs Strickland card, which means we remain on 374/387 correct picks (63.71%) with 165 perfect picks (44.12%).
Song Yadong (16-5-1) vs Casey Kenney (16-3-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger in the bantamweight division as two highly-rated 135lbers look to get themselves back into the win column. Yadong was beaten by Kyler Phillips back at UFC 259 last time out, while Kenney suffered defeat to former champion Dominick Cruz on the same night.
Yadong is traditionally a kung-fu fighter but he has got good boxing and also some decent defensive wrestling chops. He’ll need all of that when he takes on Kenney, who is a top level wrestler but also has got some good power in his striking and kicks. Yadong’s cardio is his biggest advantage in this bout, with Kenney fairly often fading away in the third round.
If Kenney chooses to wrestle almost exclusively then he is more than good enough to wrap up the first two rounds and then look to survive the third when he eventually tires. But against Cruz he opted to battle it out on the feet and Yadong is a better striker who could punish that decision. Really close and interesting fight, but I think Kenney’s wrestling proves the difference. PICK – Casey Kenney via Decision
Tecia Torres (12-5) vs Angela Hill (13-9) – (Strawweight/125lbs)
Torres is scrappy boxer with good striking and some decent wrestling in her arsenal too, while Hill is a well-rounded Muay-Thai fighter who uses her knees and cardio brilliantly. Torres has fought some of the best around and while she’s not as good as she once was she still has a terrific skillset. Hill on the other hand has never really beaten any of the top contenders and wins fights she’s supposed to win.
Torres has a size disadvantage but Hill will look to wrestle and clinch, which can open opportunities up for her to land her offense. The issue both of these women have is that neither have fight-changing power so it really comes down to skill. For me, Torres is the more skilled of the two though and she should claim a win. PICK – Tecia Torres via Decision
Michael Chiesa (18-4) vs Vicente Luque (20-7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Chiesa is a magnificent wrestler and grappler, with incredible jiu-jitsu and superhuman strength on the ground, while Luque is a powerhouse with aggressive boxing but also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Chiesa will undoubtedly use his kicks before shooting for takedowns and if he gets control on the mat then he very rarely lets it slip. In Luque though he has someone who can knock him out if he makes a mistake and can also hold his own on the ground.
Luque’s struggled in the past against the best of the best and right now Chiesa is one of the best. His fight IQ is very high, his grappling is good enough to beat anyone in the division and I think he’s content to make it boring and control the distance and ground exchanges to earn a very big win. PICK – Michael Chiesa via Decision
Jose Aldo (29-7) vs Pedro Munhoz (19-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Aldo is arguably one of the best ever, with brilliant striking and kicking to go with his jiu-jitsu black belt and stunning wrestling defence. Munhoz is a good boxer and kicker himself with decent wrestling too, so this is a well balanced fight. The issue for Munhoz however is that Aldo is still so elite, despite recent results.
I find it hard to look at this match-up and see Aldo coming out second best. Munhoz is good enough to cause Aldo problems but I think the Brazilian earns himself the win by mixing his striking attack up to the body and head. PICK – Jose Aldo via Decision
Derrick Lewis (25-7) vs Ciryl Gane (9-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A huge heavyweight battle for the interim title headlines this card as Derrick Lewis takes on the undefeated Ciryl Gane. Lewis is on a four-fight win streak, with a stunning one-punch finish over Curtis Blaydes at UFC Vegas 19. Gane has fought twice since then, beating Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov via unanimous decisions and keeping his 100% record.
Lewis is a big man with decent offensive wrestling but a hammer of a right hand and stunning ground and pound that can literally put any man to sleep. Gane on the other hand is a very technical and polished kickboxer who has rounded his game out with good takedowns and even some submissions. Gane is undoubtedly the better fighter of the two and uses his range well, with kicks and great cardio but sometimes that doesn’t matter because Lewis is always just one punch away from ending the fight.
Unfortunately though, I do think that one punch hail mary won’t be enough this time. Gane is so good at moving in, landing his strike then moving away before he takes any damage. He’s powerful himself and talented enough to earn a big win and set up a huge title fight against former teammate Ngannou later down the line. PICK – Ciryl Gane via Decision
Chase Hooper def Peter Barrett via Submission, Round 3 (3:02)
Good start to the round for Barrett as the two meet in the middle and he immediately sprawls to deny a takedown attempt. Hooper throwing some kicks to keep his opponent at range, but Barrett is landing nice, powerful strikes. Hooper looks uncomfortable in the striking exchanges, but suffers a low blow as both men throw a kick at the same time. A second low blow soon after causes another pause and the referee gives Barrett a warning. Barrett defends a takedown attempt but Hooper rolls through and attacks the leg, looking to sink in a heel hook. He looks like he’s synching it up as the buzzer goes! Close. 10-9 Hooper.
Second round and Barrett throws some heavy leg kicks that have a visible effect on the youngster. Hooper limping heavy and shoots for a takedown but Barrett stuffs it and stands back up immediately. Hooper dives in for an imanari roll and the two battle for position before eventually getting back to the feet. Barrett lands some nice punches and takes the round. 19-19.
Third round now and Hooper switches to southpaw and keeps throwing kicks and strikes to avoid more damage to his leg. Hooper dives in with another imanari roll and this time Barrett is in danger. Hooper throws some strikes to the head, which Barrett keeps headbutting to avoid losing his two-on-one grip. Hooper manages to break the grip, switches the heel hook to the opposite side and torques it beautifully for the submission win. Beautifully done and a great win.
Tecia Torres def Sam Hughes via Knockout (Doctor stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)
A quick start to this fight by Torres who uses her experience early on and is landing some big shots despite the reach disadvantage. Torres lands a big flurry and backs Hughes up against the cage and she looks hurt, but Hughes clinches up to protect herself. Torres gets out of it and starts landing more big shots, causing Hughes’ nose to bleed. Big superman punch lands and she’s throwing combos, while slipping out of the way of Hughes’ attacks. Dominant opening round from the veteran.
The doctor waves the fight off between rounds as Sam Hughes says she cannot see out of her left eye. Hugely impressive win for Torres.
Gavin Tucker def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Fast pace to start the round as Tucker comes out and lands some big straight shots early. Nice body kick lands too but Quarantillo lands a looping right hand followed by a body kick that looks like it may have hurt Tucker. Clinch against the cage and both men battle for position before they separate. Tucker landing jabs and then a big head kick! Straight right hand again and it forces Quarantillo to shoot for a takedown which Tucker defends well against the cage, before getting a trip of his own and ending the round on top. 10-9 Tucker.
Second round and Tucker’s body work is starting to take over in this fight. Lots of jabs landing with ease and the straight line shots are landing while Quarantillo is looping shots and missing. Every time they clinch together, Tucker is landing big knees to the body and it’s slowing Quarantillo down. Clinch against the cage now and Tucker manages to hold him down before landing a trip as they get back up. Tucker transitions onto his back and looks for a choke but Quarantillo reverses the position and gets back to his feet. More strikes on the feet from both guys as the round ends. Another Tucker round for me. 20-18.
Tucker comes out aggressively once again, stick and moving with punches and securing takedowns again. Tucker looks to get onto his back for a choke but Quarantillo defends it well and eventually gets back to the feet. More strikes from Tucker as he just is dominating this round. Quarantillo looking to get wild and lands a big knee but once again Tucker gets the takedown. He dominates the round, and the fight in total, for a big win.
Rafael Fiziev def Renato Moicano via Knockout, Round 1 (4:05)
A tactical start to this fight as both men start the feeling out process with feints before Fiziev lands a hard leg kick. Some nice body kicks from Fiziev land too but Moicano fires back with a straight right hand and some head kicks too. Moicano lands a big overhand right hand that lands flush and then shoots for a takedown but Fiziev stuffs it well then comes forward with a right hand of his own. Fiziev throws a big left hook to the body, followed by a right hand flush to the jaw and a left hand that drops Moicano stiff!! He jumps on him for the ground and pound but the referee jumps in (maybe a bit early!?) but a hugely impressive win for Fiziev.
Cub Swanson def Daniel Pineda via Knockout, Round 2 (1:52)
A fun start to the fight as Swanson moves forward to start throwing straight right hands down the pipe. Pineda responds with a few of his own and a big leg kick. The leg kicks keep coming and Swanson’s leg gives out under him. Pineda looks for a submission but Swanson defends well. They get back to the feet and Swanson begins landing more and more power punches, Pineda is hurt! Swanson looking to finish it but he’s taking his time with it and eventually the round ends with Pineda still hurt. 10-9 Swanson.
Swanson comes out in the second round in a very karate-based style to protect that left leg and Pineda still looks a bit woozy. Swanson starts throwing combinations with speed and avoiding the wild swings of Pineda. Swanson lands an uppercut, left hook, uppercut, left hook, right cross combination that puts Pineda out!! What a knockout! What a performance from Cub Swanson.
Ciryl Gane def Junior Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 2 (2:34)
A feeling out process opens this fight up as Gane takes the centre and fires in some leg kicks while Dos Santos looks to jab to the body. Gane using his kicks to keep Dos Santos away at range, mixing up the speed of the kicks to rest JDS’ reaction time and blocks. A low blow from Gane lands accidentally and causes a brief pause in the action but Gane is bouncing around the octagon and landing from range, while avoiding Dos Santos’ power strikes. Big, wild swings from Dos Santos graze Gane to end the round, but it’s the Frenchman who takes this round. 10-9.
Second round is more of the same as Gane continues to throw these leg kicks from range while Dos Santos is throwing wild hooks. JDS is struggling to close the distance and Gane looks very comfortable so far. Big leg kick hurts Dos Santos and he’s visibly hurting. Gane lands a jab that stuns Dos Santos and he follows it up with two big elbows that drop the former champion before the referee steps in to end the fight. Huge win for Gane and he remains undefeated. Super impressive.
Kevin Holland def Jacare Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (1:45)
The two men meet in the middle and Jacare shoots for a double leg straight off the bat. Holland throws up a triangle immediately and rains down elbows that hurt Jacare! They scramble back up to the feet and Jacare looks for another takedown but Holland defends brilliantly. He ends up on his back but is still throwing big shots off his back. He throws an elbow that stuns Jacare, creates space with his legs and lands two vicious right hooks that rock Jacare and then he stands up and pummels him until the referee steps in. What an incredible win. What a knockout!
Mackenzie Dern def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this fight as the two ladies seem keen to keep this one standing, knowing their opponent excels on the ground. Dern throwing big hooks and flurries with speed to force Jandiroba backwards, but nothing significant landing just yet. Big overhand right from Jandiroba cracks Dern square above the eye but Dern eats it. Dern goes for a takedown finally but Janidroba defends it well against the cage to keep the bout standing. Nice on two lands for Jandiroba before they meet and clinch as the buzzer goes. That round could go either way, but I give it to Dern for coming forward more. 10-9.
Quick pace to the second round too as Dern’s speed continues to see her land some nice strikes. Dern starting to loop her strikes and Jandiroba is reading them well and countering with shots of her own. Jandiroba countering with nice knees to the body and a straight right before Dern lands an accidental eye poke that causes a pause in the action. Following the pause both women come out very aggressive and Dern looks for a takedown but eats a big knee that breaks her nose and causes a lot of blood. Jandiroba gets the takedown and blood is flowing into the eyes but both women battling for position. Dern looks to roll through into a leg lock but the buzzer goes. 19-19 going into the third. What a fight.
Third round and it’s more of the same as both women know it’s pretty even now. Jandiroba lands some clean right hands and Dern giving it back too! Jandiroba pushes forward with the jab but Dern returns it with a big one-two that rocks Jandiroba. She shoots for a takedown against the cage but Jandiroba stuffs it and looks to work some more damage. Clinch against the cage as we enter the final 30 seconds and Jandiroba pulls guard (?!) looking for a submission but Dern is alert, stays on top and ends the round landing ground and pound. Super close fight, I lean towards Jandiroba but could go either way.
Charles Oliveira def Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)
Quick start to the round as Oliveira comes forward looking to land straight punches and then lands a heavy leg kick. Ferguson spins and lands some nice punches himself before they clinch together against the cage. Oliveira immediately lifts Ferguson and slams him down to the mat then controls Ferguson on the ground for the remainder of the round. He locks in a deep armbar with seconds to go but Ferguson completely refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. Wow. 10-8 Oliveira.
Second round starts and Ferguson can’t move his left arm at all. Oliveira throws a few kicks to the body to test it, gets no reaction and then takes the fight back down to the ground. Ferguson throws some elbows off his back and cuts Oliveira above the eye but then lands an up-kick to a downed opponent, causing a pause in the action. Upon the restart, Oliveira is able to stack Ferguson against the cage and is just dominating him on the ground for the entire round. 20-17 Oliveira.
Oliveira comes out in the third and throws an uppercut and pops his jab. Ferguson goes for a big hook but Oliveira goes for the takedown and once again lifts and slams him down. Immediately passes into full mount and starts moving Ferguson wherever he likes. Total domination from Oliveira as he transitions into a triangle attempt, then moves off into top control again. He ends the round on top once again, but that was absolute domination from start to finish. 30-25 for me.
Aggressive start from the champion as he opens with a spinning back kick to the body before a clinch attempt from Moreno ends up with a scramble on the ground. Figueiredo manages to get back up to the feet and lands a couple of stiff jabs, but Moreno returns with a few of his own. Head kick lands from Moreno but then Figueiredo lands one back. A very fun round, but the champ edges it. 10-9.
Second round and the pace is still so quick. Moreno lands a nice overhand right before the champ lands a spinning back kick to the body once again. Nice leg kick from Figueiredo before both men end up in a scramble on the mat again. As the champ looks to push off he accidentally lands a finger in the eye and the action is paused. Fight is restarted on the ground and Figueiredo gets back to the feet with both guys throwing bombs! Figueiredo lands a big combo to the body and head and hurts Moreno! The Mexican is in clear pain with his eye swelling but he lands a takedown to end the round. 20-18 Figueiredo but it’s close.
Third round and Figueiredo is swinging haymakers but Moreno is game and very much in this! Figueiredo lands a nasty body shot combo with a left hook but Moreno is still there and fires back with a head kick and left hook of his own. Figueiredo is throwing huge, wild hooks and missing big. He throws a front kick that lands flush on the cup and Moreno is hurt bad. The referee takes a point off Figueiredo and the two fighters push forward again. Figueiredo goes for a takedown but Moreno gets back to the feet and lands a big right hook before the buzzer to take the round. With the deduction that makes it 28-28 on my card.
Into the championship rounds and Brandon Moreno is flying! Big strikes from Moreno as he lands hooks, jabs and kicks before Figueiredo looks for a takedown. Moreno reverses the position and ends up on top against the cage. Figueiredo gets back to his feet and both men start throwing bombs and they’re both wobbling! Figueiredo looks dazed and Moreno is landing first when they exchange but the champ is still standing and banging. Big left jab from Moreno lands but then Figueiredo returns fire with two big hooks and a body shot that force Moreno to shoot for the takedown! Moreno lands on top but Figueiredo gets back up to his feet and Moreno lands three big shots to end the round. 38-37 Moreno going into the final round for me.
Final round and Figueiredo throws three beautiful body kicks and follows it up with some big punches. The commentary team point out that Moreno may have broken his left forearm at some point blocking kicks in this round. Moreno isn’t throwing much because of it, but Figueiredo landing good shots. Big right hand from Figueiredo snaps the head back but Moreno still coming forward. Clinch against the cage inside the final minute, Figueiredo switches the position and ends up putting Moreno on the ground landing ground and pound to end the fight. 47-47 for me, I’ve got it as a draw. What a fight.
This takes our total up to 181/282 correct picks (64.18%) with 80 correct picks (44.2%). Lets see if we can improve that on this card, starting with the prelims here.
Chase Hooper (9-1-1) vs Peter Barrett (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A clash between two prospects in the featherweight division as Hooper looks to bounce back from his first career defeat against Alex Caceres in June. He takes on Barrett who lost his UFC debut against Youssef Zalal in August. Hooper is a solid grappler with great choke skills, who doesn’t have the greatest striking chops, while Barrett is the complete opposite. Hooper’s first step up in competition saw him beaten, but Barrett is way below the level of Caceres and Hooper sits somewhere between the two. If Barrett can keep the fight standing he has a chance but his takedown defence isn’t great so I expect Hooper to be able to get him down and eventually choke him out. PICK – Chase Hooper vs Submission, Round 2
Sergey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderra (11-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight clash between two prospects as 25 year old Spivak looks to make it back-to-back wins, following his win over Carlos Felipe in July. A hard hitter who has good submission skills, Spivak has six of his ten wins from inside the distance via tap out. Vanderra makes his UFC debut following a first-round knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series. You tend to see him at his best when he’s in top position using his ground and pound. If the fight stays standing, Spivak wins the kickboxing battle quite comfortably but if it hits the ground it’s all about who ends up on top. It should be close, but I’m backing the younger fighter to come away with a win. PICK – Sergey Spivak via Decision
Tecia Torres (11-5) vs Sam Hughes (5-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A bit of a throw away fight on this card as veteran Tecia Torres takes on the short-notice replacement Sam Hughes, after Angela Hill’s positive COVID-19 test ruled her out. Torres is a striker who uses her karate background to maintain distance and flurrys of punches while Hughes is a good submission grappler with three of her five wins coming via tap-out. Torres has more experience, better chops on the feet when it comes to striking and has sufficient submission defence to cope with anything that Hughes can throw at her, so she should waltz to a comfortable decision win. PICK – Tecia Torres via Decision
Gavin Tucker (12-1) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun fight in this one as Gavin Tucker looks to make it three wins in a row against hot prospect Billy Quarantillo. Tucker beat Justin Jaynes in August with a third round submission, while Quarantillo is currently on an eight-fight win streak after a knockout win against Kyle Nelson in September. Tucker’s sole defeat in his career came against a fighter who he should be able to control but was relentless with high output, much like Quarantillo. He has more experience now, but Quarantillo is arguably a better fighter than that Glenn was and he should be able to outwork Tucker for another win. PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision
Renato Moicano (14-3-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (8-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
One of the best fights on the card as former featherweight Renato Moicano takes on the highly impressive Fiziev. Moicano made his 155lbs debut last time out against Damir Hadzovic in March, where he won with a 44 second submission. Fiziev had his UFC break-out on Fight Island, defeating Mark Diakiese via unanimous decision. Fiziev is a stunning striker, who coaches at Tiger MMA as the kickboxing coach. He’s a fantastic kicker and has great power in his hands too, while Moicano is all about the grappling and clinches. While Fiziev has great takedown defence and a good sambo background, he hasn’t fought anyone of the level of Moicano in MMA before. Moicano has the experience to deal with his striking skills and fight his way to a big decision win in an entertaining fight. PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision
Cub Swanson (26-11) vs Daniel Pineda (27-13 2NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
UFC veteran Cub Swanson finally got back in the win column following four defeats in a row when he beat Kron Gracie 14 months ago. Daniel Pineda got back into the UFC after a six year absence when he knocked out the high flying Herbert Burns in August. Pineda is a super dangerous fighter who has finished all of his 27 wins, with 19 coming via submission. Swanson is very talented in all areas but against the top fighters in recent times he has struggled. Pineda has great in both striking and grappling realms and should have enough about him to end Swanson’s UFC career. PICK – Daniel Pineda via Submission, Round 2
Austin Hubbard def Max Rohskopf via TKO (Retired) (5:00, Round 2)
The fight starts with both men striking hard, showing they’re not afraid to exchange. Hubbard looks the bigger man but Rohskopf is moving well and secures a takedown. ‘Thud’ does well to get back to the feet with strikes landing on the way up. Another takedown attempt from Max as he secures both legs and attempts for knee-bars and heel hooks. Hubbard defends the submissions well though and finds a way back to his feet, landing a big knee as they scramble to their feet. 10-9 Rohskopf.
The second round starts with Rohskopf immediately attempting an emenari roll, but Hubbard defends well. Austin now landing hard strikes, with Rohskopf visibly tiring on the feet. He looks uncomfortable and no longer confident in holding his opponent down. Hubbard senses this and is starting to piece some combos together. Hard shots to the head cause a cut under the eye. Rohskopf is being pieced up on the feet and Hubbard is enjoying himself. Body shots to the visibly tired debutant land as the round ends. Potentially a 10-8 round for Hubbard.
In the corner between rounds, Rohskopf has told his corner to call the fight. He doesn’t want to be in there anymore. His corner tries to send him out to fight despite his requests, but he tells the fight doctor and referee that he’s done and this one is over.
Lauren Murphy def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision(30-27 x2, 29-28)
A very even affair, the first round was a scrappy one. Modafferi stepped forward with constant pressure trying to land volume rather than accuracy, while Murphy remained calm and composed landing some nice kicks. Lots of clinch exchanges against the cage but Murphy did well to hold her own and takes the round. 10-9.
Murphy comes out quickly in the second round and rocks Modafferi with a huge left hand, leaving ‘The Happy Warrior’ doing a chicken dance! She pounces for the attack but Roxanne’s chin is so good and she survives the clash. More heavy shots land from Murphy who secures a takedown and lands some ground and pound. 20-18 Murphy.
Final round is more of the same as Modafferi’s striking has zero effect on ‘Lucky’. Murphy dominates the stand up exchanges and Modafferi can’t take her to the ground. She continues to land clean strikes to her opponent and wraps up a comfortable decision win.
Justin Jaynes def Frank Camacho via TKO (Round 1, 0:41)
Short-notice debutant Jaynes comes flying out of the gate looking to take Camacho’s head off. A startling pace to start and some heavy shots landing by Jaynes. A massive left hook connects and knocks Camacho down, he pounces with more strikes and and Herb Dean stops the fight with Camacho still standing. Unbelievable performance from Justin Jaynes.
Gillian Robertson def Cortney Casey via Submission (Round 3, 4:32)
Round 1 begins with Casey coming out strong looking to land some early strikes. Robertson not looking to engage too much on the feet and gets an early takedown with plenty of time to work for the submission. Lots of top control and some good ground and pound but Casey is attacking from the bottom too. 10-9 Robertson.
Round 2 is more of the same with Robertson landing another takedown early in the round and working well from top position. She’s in complete control of this fight, Casey struggling to really hurt her opponent from the bottom but it’s not stopping her from throwing elbows. 20-18 Roberston.
Another early takedown in Round 3 and Robertson does exceptionally well to control positions on the ground. Casey manages to get Robertson into a half nelson from the bottom and throws elbows to the spine but she recovers well. A transition into a belly-down armbar attempt is well defended by Robertson. A scramble sees them both get back to their feet until Robertson lands another takedown. She’s in complete control on the floor and slips in a rear-naked choke out of nowhere to force the tap-out. Super performance.
Marc-Andre Barriault def Oskar Piechota via TKO (Round 2, 4:50)
A fast start to the first round as Barriault looks to land strikes early and heavy. Piechota is retreating and not really looking for takedowns like I expected him too. Barriault landing big shots, causing Piechota to cover up. The round ends with Barriault landing a barrage of punches to the floored ‘Imadlo’ but the buzzer goes to save him. 10-9 Barriault.
Second round is more of the same again as Piechota looks very wary of the power of ‘Power Bar’. Piechota finally shoots for the takedown and secures it, but Barriault is too powerful and finds a way back to his feet. He immediately goes back on the attack with his striking. He lands a big punch that rocks Piechota badly. He jumps on him at the end of the round and hurts ‘Imadlo’ enough for the referee to end the fight with 10 seconds left in the round. Huge win for Barriault’s career in the UFC.
Tecia Torres def Brianna Van Buren via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Experience vs enthusiasm in the first round as Torres shows patience with her striking, while Van Buren rushes her against the cage, looking for trips and takedowns. Torres stays on the feet throughout, landing some beautiful body kicks and nice combos with her hands. Non-eventful round but Torres comfortable. 10-9 Torres.
Second round and Torres is upping the pace. Lots of kicks and speedy combos landing on Van Buren who’s struggling to keep up. More takedown and trip attempts from the younger fighter, although still no real success. Another round of crisp striking from Torres and excellent defence. 20-18 Torres.
The third round follows a similar pattern for both women. Van Buren is aware she needs a finish now and is pressuring hard. Torres remaining very calm and composed, using her Octagon experience well. She ends the round with a great blitz of kicks and strikes before stuffing a takedown against the cage to rack up a big win against the odds following four-straight losses.
Bobby Green def Clay Guida via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
The prelim headliner, two Octagon veterans face off. Guida, as usual, comes out fast swinging and shoots for a heavy takedown but Green defends well against the cage. Guida grabs a single leg and lifts Green into the air to slam him down but Green gets up quickly. Green is landing with straight shots and kicks, even dropping his hands quite low to sucker Guida in. 10-9 Guida.
Round 2 starts and Green has his hands low again. He’s landing big strikes on Guida once again, straight down the pipe. More body kicks and straights to the chin, but Guida pushes forward for more takedowns as usual. Green defends supremely though and continues to piece up Guida on the feet. 19-19.
Round 3 is basically a repeat of Round 2. Strong stand-up by Green and Guida can’t secure any takedowns to take this fight where he wants it. Plenty of attempts and the pace is still high, but Green is just too good a boxer for Guida. The fight ends with a sprawl from Green to deny a takedown attempt by Guida and some strikes as he lays on top of Guida’s head. 29-28 Green for me.
Jim Miller def Roosevelt Roberts via Submission (Round 1, 2:25)
Veteran Miller comes out ready to bang with Roosevelt and both men throw a leg kick to begin. ‘A-10’ lands his kick which sends Roosevelt to the ground, and he lands a big strike as he takes top position. Roberts defending well but Miller is an expert on the ground and works for a guillotine, a hold that commentator Dominick Cruz says Miller is one of the best in MMA at. Roberts tries to explode out of the position from the bottom but Miller holds on to an arm and throws the legs up for an armbar. Roberts holds on and tries to hammerfirst Miller to force him to let go, but then he stands up to slam him and Miller extends the arm perfectly forcing a verbal tap.
Belal Muhammad def Lyman Goodvia Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
First round starts with Lyman Good taking control of the centre and both fighters landing strikes. Belal using good footwork to avoid any big shots from Good and using his jab well. Lead kick lands well for Muhammad as he maintains a good distance. It’s a fast pace for both fighters to keep up but neither lands anything significant in the opening 5 minutes. 10-9 Muhammad.
Muhammad takes the centre of the Octagon and immediately pushes for a takedown but Good does well to stuff it. A few strikes exchanged but once again nothing solid lands. Muhammad then lands a lovely head-kick but Good eats it. Back to the pattern of the first round now as Muhammad using his footwork and movement to dictate the fight. A wild exchange from both sees ‘Remember the Name’ land some big shots before another kick. Good charges in with a wild right-hand that lands clean and looks like it hurts Muhammad but he moves out and avoids further damage. Accidental clash of heads has caused a cut under the eye of Muhammad as the round ends. 20-18 Muhammad.
Cut under Belal’s right eye is causing him a few problems as Good comes out with a lot more urgency in this round. Good takes the centre of the cage and lands two huge right hands knocking Muhammad down! Belal grabs the legs for a takedown as he tries to recover but Good stays up and pushes forward with more punches. A big uppercut lands again as Muhammad is still trying to shake the cobwebs off. Good lands a big right hand again but Belal moves away, before Good hits him with two huge body shots. Muhammad lands a knee and then shoots for a takedown and secures it. Good explodes back to his feet quickly as Muhammad holds on to his back, but Good spins out heading into the final minute. Muhammad shoots for a takedown and secures the hooks with his legs before taking the back. He’s looking for a rear-naked choke with 15 seconds to go. He doesn’t quite secure it, but that takedown may just have secured him the victory.
Raquel Pennington def Marion Reneau via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Opening round and Reneau starts with some quick jabs that are nowhere near their target. Pennington throws a nice left hook while closing the distance and is showing her superior stand-up game already. Some jabs and more left hooks land before Reneau clinches and gets hold of her opponent. She holds on to Pennington and looks for trips but Raquel stays on her feet throughout before the round comes to a close. 10-9 Pennington.
Second round starts with Pennington once again showing some nice striking. A lovely super-woman punch lands before the two clinch together again. Pennington holds Reneau down and lands a nice knee to the gut. Reneau retaliates with a knee of her own but catches Pennington low in the crotch and the fight is paused for several minutes with Pennington in severe discomfort. The fight restarts and the fighters get back into a clinch position. Pennington with a Thai grip around the neck and lands some nice knees but Reneau eats them. She goes for the takedown and ends up on top of Raquel, but ‘Rocky’ explodes back to her feet and lands more big knees and elbows. Pennington goes for the takedown to end the round and eats some elbows from Reneau but the buzzer goes. 20-18 Pennington.
The ladies start round 3 by touching gloves then immediately exchanging big, wild strikes. Reneau goes for the takedown but Pennington is too strong for her and it doesn’t get completed. They break apart and Raquel lands more knees to the body from the Thai clinch then gives Reneau a big elbow to the face. ‘The Belizean Bruiser’ looks tired now as ‘Rocky’ begins to land big strikes. A nice combo against the cage but then Raquel drops down for a takedown but it’s stuffed. Pennington landing big combos heading into the final minute of the fight. Reneau just trying to survive at this point and shoots for a takedown but Pennington holds onto the neck to stuff it and brings Reneau down herself. Big win for Raquel Pennington. 30-27.
A blistering start to this fight as neither man gives up an inch to their opponent. Emmett lands some huge right hooks and right overhands flush, but Burgos eats them. Burgos returns fire with his own hooks as well as his left jab, while he chops away at the left leg with kicks. Emmett has shown that the leg-kicks are hurting by losing balance on a number of occasions but both men continue to swing haymakers. Emmett shoots for the takedown at the end of the round but Burgos stuffs it and the buzzer goes. 10-9 Burgos but that could go either way.
Burgos has started using his 5” reach advantage well in this round. Inside kicks and left jabs working well but Emmett’s high pace and explosiveness have him landing flush shots. Burgos eating everything Emmett throws at him though and constantly walking forward. ‘Hurricane’ feinting well and throwing more punches but Emmett lands with a crazy right hook that Burgos eats. What a crazy fight. 19-19 going into the final round.
Third round starts with more fireworks as both men continue to throw big strikes. Emmett throws a big left hand and Burgos finally goes down. Emmett jumps on but Burgos doesn’t look too hurt an throws up for an armbar. A bit of ground and pound from Emmett sees him land a couple of hammerfists, but Burgos explodes up and back onto his feet. An inside kick lands a bit high and catches Emmett on the cup and the referee pauses the fight for an accidental low blow. The fight restarts and Emmett lands a huge overhand right but Burgos eats it again and just keeps coming forward. Emmett throws an overhand left and lands flush on Burgos’ chin and down he goes again. Ground and pound from Emmett but Burgos puts his feet on the hips and kicks back up on to his feet. Burgos pushing forward now and Emmett lands clean again but Burgos stays up somehow. What a crazy fight, what a round. 29-28 Emmett for me.
Curtis Blaydes def Alexander Volkovvia Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-46)
The fight begins with a Curtis Blaydes takedown inside 9 seconds, a sign of what may be to come. Blaydes throwing knees to the legs and laying on Volkov, forcing the Russian to carry his weight early. Big strikes against the cage and as Volkov tries to stand, Blaydes just ragdolls him and throws him back to the ground. The round ends with no changes. 10-9 Blaydes.
Blaydes comes out for the second round and starts throwing bombs. He lands flush a few times before a leg-kick. Then he lands another big shot with the right hand and powers through Volkov to complete a takedown against the cage. Volkov moves up to his feet but ‘Razor’ trips him back and turns away from the cage to open up the chance for some trademark ground and pound. Both men jostling for position on the ground but Blaydes lands huge elbows to the face of Volkov. Blaydes lets him back up and then immediately takes him straight back down, almost as if he was just making a statement. 20-18 Blaydes.
‘Razor’ continues to dominate through the 3rd round with his takedowns, landing his ninth so far in this fight. Blaydes continuing to work with sparce shots to the head as referee Herb Dean tells him to work. Volkov struggling to move Blaydes away from him as Curtis jumps up and moves behind Volkov. ‘Drago’ attempts a guillotine submission but never really gets close to securing it before he gets back to his feet. Another round in the bank for Blaydes. 30-27.
Fourth round begins with Volkov throwing a kick and Blaydes catching it and taking him down inside 20 seconds. Curtis Blaydes is now the proud holder of the record for most takedowns in a single heavyweight fight, overtaking Cain Velasquez’s record of 11 in the fourth round of this fight. Blaydes secures yet another takedown and takes a breather in Volkov’s closed guard. Volkov starts throwing some elbows to the head of Blaydes before Herb Dean stands them up. Volkov starting to hunt Blaydes, who is looking exhausted, and gets a huge takedown of his own. The round ends and it’s still a Blaydes round but Round 5 looks very interesting suddenly. 40-36 Blaydes.
Final round and Blaydes hasn’t shot for a takedown yet. His first attempt is met with a huge kick to the face on entry by Volkov, but Razor eats it and continues to push. A bit more jostling for position and Blaydes eventually secures a big takedown. He gets behind Volkov to separate him from the cage, but the Russian holds onto an arm and gets back to his feet. Half way through the round and Blaydes goes for another takedown but Volkov stuffs him this time against the cage. Both fighters are visibly exhausted at this point and Volkov is landing some shots unanswered, but Blaydes explodes for another takedown and puts Volkov flat on his back. Final minute and Razor is controlling the action for a comfortable decision victory. 50-45 Blaydes.
Austin Hubbard (11-4) vs Max Rohskopf (5-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
‘Thud’ Hubbard will step into the Octagon for the fourth time this weekend with a 1-2 record currently, with both defeats coming to strong wrestlers. Rohskopf will make his UFC debut on just six-days notice, with a 5-0 record all coming by way of submission. A state wrestler, Rohskopf has all the ingredients to make this a winning start to his UFC career but Hubbard will be sure to make this his toughest test yet. PICK – Max Rohskopfvia Unanimous Decision
Roxanne Modafferi (24-16) vs Lauren Murphy (12-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
‘The Happy Warrior’ Modafferi shocked the MMA world in her last outing, completely outclassing rising prospect Maycee Barber. She used her dirty boxing incredibly well before securing positions on the ground and laying vicious ground and pound. She’s arguably got the best top-game in the division behind Valentina Shevchenko, but her inconsistency will forever hold her back. Murphy is currently on a two-fight win streak, and will be looking to win 3 in a row for the first time since 2013. She’s got an impressive 8 KO wins from 12 fights so clearly carries power in her hands. It will be a close fight between the two and no result would particularly surprise me, but I think ‘Lucky’ has the advantage on the feet and a slight advantage in the clinch, so she should take a decision win. PICK – Lauren Murphy via Unanimous Decision
Frank Camacho (22-8) vs Justin Jaynes (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another short-notice match up on the card as Jaynes steps in on two-days notice for this fight. Jaynes is making his UFC debut on the back of four straight first-round wins including three stoppages. Camacho was supposed to fight Matt Frevola, but he was pulled out of the fight when his cornerman was diagnosed with coronavirus. Camacho is a man who is straight offence mentally. A solid striker, he has 17 career wins by KO but has lost three of his last four outings. He needs a win to get back-on-track and while this may be a more competitive fight with a full-on camp, Jaynes’ short-notice call-up could be decisive as the fight enters later rounds. PICK – Frank Camacho by TKO, Round 3
Cortney Casey (9-7) vs Gillian Robertson (7-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
After a first round submission win last month, ‘Cast Iron’ Casey is back in the Octagon. She caught Mara Borello in a beautiful armbar on the Harris vs Overeem card and has stepped in on short-notice to fight Robertson. ‘The Savage’ lost her last fight to Maycee Barber, but prior to that had won 5 of her last 6 (4-1 in the UFC). Her excellent grappling skills have seen her win 5 of her 7 wins come by submission and hasn’t gone to the judges since her defeat to Cynthia Calvillo back in 2016. While Casey is coming in on short-notice, she will be in fighting shape. That said, Robertson’s ability on the ground will surely be too much for her. Takedown defence has always been a chink in her armour and despite the defeat in her last outing, she should be confident enough to end this early. PICK – Gillian Robertson via Submission, Round 1
Marc-Andre Barriault (11-4) vs Oskar Piechota (11-3-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
As the big boys step into the Octagon in this encounter, Barriault is looking to end a three-fight skid in the UFC. He’s lost all his fights in the organisation so far and he’s coming up another fighter who has lost their last three. While Barriault is a stand-up fighter, with 8 of his 11 wins coming via KO, ‘Imadlo’ is a more well-rounded fighter who is happy to take it to the ground as his 5 submission wins show. He’s got elite jiu-jitsu skills and ‘Power Bar’ has struggled with staying up standing in the UFC. This could end in a quick submission win for the Pole and could signal the end of Barriault’s UFC career. PICK – Oskar Piechota via Submission, Round 1
Tecia Torres (10-5) vs Brianna Van Buren (9-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
One of the bigger names in the division, Torres is on one of the most un-worrying losing streaks in the companies history. She’s lost her last four fights, but all to current/future champions and then to one of the biggest prospects in the company. Decision defeats to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang were followed by a decision loss to Marina Rodriguez in August and she hasn’t fought since. Van Buren on the other hand is in the midst of a 6 fight win streak, including finishes in 3 of her last 6. She won her debut in the UFC with a hard fought decision over Livinha Souza, showing a great skillset that includes striking, takedowns and constant pressure. This fight could really go either way, but I’m going to go with the experience of Torres to find a way to get back in the win column. PICK – Tecia Torres via Unanimous Decision
Clay Guida (35-19) vs Bobby Green (24-10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fight between two Octagon veterans entering the twilight of their career, Guida enters the cage having lost 4 of his last 7. His last outing was a submission defeat to Jim Miller, in a fight that lasted less than a minute. Green comes in having won just 1 of his last 7 fights, losing his last two in a row. Despite the results, the fights were incredibly close and you could argue he won both too. ‘King’ has seen as 8 of his last 10 fights go the distance. This match-up is an odd one but Green certainly has the advantage. He’s the better boxer and has good ground defence, while Guida’s greatest strength is his submission game. His work ethic is unrivalled and despite Green’s advantages he often looks lethargic in his performance. If the fight becomes a stalemate which is tough to score, I expect Guida will take the decision based on that. PICK – Clay Guida via Split Decision
Jim Miller (31-14) vs Roosevelt Roberts (10-1) – (Catchweight/160lbs)
A wily veteran against one of the contestants from Dana White’s ‘Contender Series’. Miller is a crafty submission expert while Roberts has shown solid skills in all aspects of MMA. ‘A-10’ has 17 submission victories in his career but lost in his last bout to Scott Holtzman via a unanimous decision. Roberts has won his last two fights, including a submission win over Brok Weaver just three weeks ago. ‘The Predator’ is a keen grappler but carries power in his hands which is something that Miller will have to watch out for. While he will arguably have an advantage on the ground, Miller will need to overpower the younger and fitter Roberts to gain the position which I think he’ll struggle to do. PICK – Roosevelt Roberts via Unanimous Decision
Lyman Good (21-5) vs Belal Muhammad (16-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Another fight between a true veteran and un upcoming prospect but this time at welterweight. Lyman Good has seen it all in MMA and his record is very good. 11 KO wins from 14 stoppages shows you exactly where his strengths lie. A brutal jab is usually the beginning of the end for his opponents, as he throws plenty of combinations off the back of it. Muhammad though is a powerhouse in his own right. He’s a solid striker but he often leaves it too late to secure a stoppage, as his 11 decision wins show. He’s won 6 of his last 7 fights, with one stoppage, and bases him game massively off of his takedowns and cardio. If he can get Good to the ground, then the fight will stay there until he finishes it or the round ends. If Good can keep it standing, he could out-strike ‘Remember the Name’ for a full 15 minutes. I think Muhammad will be able to secure a takedown or two and do enough to secure the decision win with the judges. PICK – Belal Muhammad via Unanimous Decision
Raquel Pennington (10-8) vs Marion Reneau (9-5-1)– (Bantamweight/135lbs)
‘Rocky’ makes a return to the Octagon after a defeat in her last outing against Holly Holm. A solid boxer, Pennington has lost 3 of her last 4 including her world title fight against the GOAT Amanda Nunes. Her toughness and cardio has seen her go to a decision in 12 of her 18 career bouts. Reneau on the other hand is a finishing machine. ‘The Belizean Bruiser’ has finished 8 of her 9 victories, with 5 KO’s and 3 submissions on her record while she’s never been finished in her career either. She has lost her last two bouts though. At 42 years old, Reneau is in the twilight of her career now and Pennington will be looking to get back into the win column. She’s better on the feet and more than capable of avoiding the ground battle against a dangerous jiu-jitsu grappler and she’ll take home the win in a not-so entertaining fight. PICK – Raquel Pennington via Unanimous Decision
Shane Burgos (13-1) vs Josh Emmett (15-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
In one of the best fights on the card, these two ranked featherweights will go head to head in battle for a potential Top 5 opponent in their next fight. Emmett is coming in on the back of two straight wins by knockout, while Burgos has won his last three with two stoppage victories. Burgos is arguably more well-rounded of the two but he doesn’t really possess that one-punch knockout power Emmett does. His footwork and leg-kicking game are solid but with Emmett’s wrestling background he risks being put on his back if one of those get caught. Emmet’s age could also be a factor, although his conditioning is exceptional. A fight that could literally end in the blink of an eye, but I think Burgos will stay patient and avoid the big punch Emmett looks for. A technical win is incoming for Burgos if you ask me. PICK – Shane Burgos via Unanimous Decision
Curtis Blaydes (13-2) vs Alexander Volkov (31-7) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The ultimate wrestler vs striker fight in this one, as ‘Razor’ takes on ‘Drago’ in the main event. Blaydes has been on a tear in recent years, losing only to Francis Ngannou twice while dominating everyone else. He holds the record for the most takedowns in heavyweight history, with 10 of his 13 wins coming by knockout.
Volkov is a big, strong striker who has knockout power for days. The Russian has 20 knockout wins on his record and at 6ft 7′ possesses a reach advantage over most of his opponents. He’s won 7 of his last 8 fights, with his only defeat coming in the closing seconds against Derrick Lewis in a fight he dominated for 3 rounds.
Blaydes has plenty of power in the stand-up game so won’t be afraid to exchange with Volkov, but ‘Drago’ will not want to get into a wrestling match with his opponent. If Blaydes can get this to the ground then I expect him to get a finish, like he has done against most of his other opponents. If Volkov can rush him like Ngannou did and catch him early he’ll have a chance. The longer this fight goes, the more chance Blaydes has of getting it to the ground which means he’ll take home the win. PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Technical Knockout, Round 2