Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-7) vs Jailton Almeida (17-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big heavyweight scrap up next between a veteran and one of the hottest prospects in the division. Abdurakhimov has lost three in a row and is winless since 2019, being KO’d by Curtis Blaydes, Chris Daukaus and Sergei Pavlovich. Almeida is on a 12-fight win streak, finishing all three of his UFC bouts in the first round.
Abdurakhimov is a decent grappler with decent power in his hands too, but at 41-years-old he is into the twilight of his career. Almeida is one of the most devastating jiu-jitsu practitioners among the big men in the world, who also has good power in his hands. His wrestling is sensational and his cardio is very good too, meaning he can be relentless with his pressure for as long as the fight lasts.
A win for Almeida here gets him ranked, and it’s likely to be the most one-sided fight on the card. Almeida will shoot to take down Abdurakhimov almost immediately, wrap the legs up and force him to give up his back. From there he will either choke him or pound him until the referee steps in, so expect a quick finish in this one. PICK – Jailton Almeida via Submission, Round 1
Gabriel Bonfim (13-0) vs Mounir Lazzez (11-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very interesting 170-pound bout up next. Bonfim is the younger brother on the card and comes into this fight as an undefeated fighter, with 10 submissions on his record professionally. Lazzez has won four of his last five, with his only loss coming to Warlley Alves in January 2021. He earned a decision win over Ange Loosa most recently in April 2022.
Bonfim is a terrific boxer, with fantastic power, speed and a lightning jab to go along with his excellent jiu-jitsu and submission skills. Lazzez is a really well-rounded fighter with good volume and cardio, although his power isn’t the best in the division. Bonfim is great offensively, but defensively he leaves a lot of holes that “Sniper” can take advantage of if given the opportunity.
Lazzez is probably a less rounded package than Bonfim, but he has got a great heart and resilience to keep pushing forward as the fight goes on. With that said, having the home crowd in his favour and having an edge in offensive striking and wrestling should be enough for Bonfim to get the win on the night. PICK – Gabriel Bonfim via Decision
Thiago Moises (16-6) vs Melquizael Costa (19-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A short-notice lightweight bout up next. Moises snapped a two-fight losing streak when he earned a first-round submission for Christos Giagos last time out, while Costa has won his last two in a row via knockout, with the most recent coming in November 2022 in the LFA.
Moises is an excellent wrestler and grappler, with fantastic jiu-jitsu skills allowing him the chance to secure seven submission wins in his career to date. Costa is a powerful striker with great speed and technique, and he has an excellent ability to get back to his feet in grappling exchanges. It’s clear as day though, that he has never faced a grappler the level of Moises.
This is a lucky break for Moises, because he likely would have lost the initial match-up against Guram Kutateladze. But in this one he has the skillset to be able to hold Costa down regularly and for long periods while doing damage, using his experience and quality to get the win in an all-Brazilian affair. PICK – Thiago Moises via Submission, Round 2
Gregory Rodrigues (13-4) vs Brunno Ferreira (9-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Robocop returns in this middleweight scrap against a UFC newcomer on short notice. Rodrigues has won his last two in a row, knocking out both Julian Marquez and Chidi Njokuani in his most recent bout. Ferreira earned a UFC contract with a 95-second KO over Leon Aliu on the Contender Series back in September.
Rodrigues is a really interesting fighter, who has a strange habit of fighting to the level of his opponent and just trying to cause as much damage as possible. Ferreira has a similar style who looks to cause chaos, but he’s never fought at this level before. Rodrigues’ jiu-jitsu pedigree is something that you’d expect him to lean on more often than not, but he just never does.
With Ferreira having an incredible ability to explode and put people out, that makes this a really interesting fight. He has the speed advantage and Rodrigues has been wobbled and hit clean on several occasions in the UFC. With that said, his chin has held up so far to this point and this seems like a big jump for Ferreira, especially on short-notice. Great fight, but Rodrigues gets it done in one. PICK – Gregory Rodrigues via Knockout, Round 1
Mauricio Rua (21-13-1) vs Ihor Potieria (19-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Legendary Brazilian gets back into the cage at home in this one. “Shogun” has lost his last two, tapping to strikes against Paul Craig before a split decision loss to Ovince St-Preux last time out. Potieria suffered a KO defeat in his last out, his UFC debut, against Nicolae Negumereanu, and is looking for his first win in the company.
Rua is a great grappler, but he has been outside of his prime for the best part of five years now and has trouble getting the bout anywhere near where his strengths lie. Potieria isn’t the greatest fighter in the world, but 15 years younger than Rua and far stronger physically to go with his nasty knockout power and this looks like a nasty send off for “Shogun” in his final bout.
Potieria has got some nasty boxing combinations and is physically strong enough to keep Rua off him and avoid any extended grappling exchanges. Expect a fast start from the Ukrainian and a couple of big shots get this done early on. PICK – Ihor Potieria via Knockout, Round 1
Sean Woodson (8-1) vs Collin Anglin (8-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight bout here between two highly-rated prospects in the division. Woodson bounced back from the first defeat of his career against Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 4 with a decision win over Youssef Zalal at UFC Vegas 28. Anglin suffered defeat last time out when he was KO’d by Melsik Baghdasaryan at UFC Vegas 33 in his debut.
Woodson is a rangy fighter for the division with great boxing skills and much improved wrestling and scrambling abilities in recent bouts. Anglin on the other hand is a fighter with a wrestling background who likes to try and see fights out on the feet. That preference could cost him here, because he has a big advantage when it comes to the grappling and a big disadvantage in the striking.
Anglin is likely to try and wrestle Woodson a lot, but ‘The Sniper’ showed in his last fights that he is good at getting back to his feet and his volume is excellent. Woodson isn’t the most powerful, but he’s quick and I think he’ll be able to counter when Anglin moves in and land enough to earn the victory. PICK – Sean Woodson via Decision
Cynthia Calvillo (9-3-1) vs Andrea Lee (12-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight fight once again on this card buried on the prelims. Calvillo has lost her last two-in-a-row after dropping a decision to Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 before getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade at UFC 266, while Lee snapped a three-fight losing streak to defeat Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 262 via submission.
Calvillo is a solid wrestler who is still finding her feet in the division, following defeats to two of the top contenders in the weight class. Lee is a striker with good finishing instinct, having stopped seven opponents in the past inside the distance. While Calvillo has started falling in love with her striking in recent fights, the results in those bouts likely means she’s going to go back to what she does best which is bad news for Lee.
Every fighter that has attempted to take Lee down has done so at least once and Calvillo is more than good enough to only need one takedown to keep the fight on the mat. Ultimately, Calvillo secures top control and rides out 15 minutes with ground and pound to get back in the win column. PICK – Cynthia Calvillo via Decision
Thiago Moises (15-5) vs Joel Alvarez (18-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight in this one in a super exciting match-up. Moises was on a three-fight win streak before suffering a submission defeat against Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31 last time out. Alvarez on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, but hasn’t fought since a submission win over Alexander Yakovlev at UFC 254 last year.
Moises is an excellent grappler on the mat with good wrestling and solid kicks in his arsenal to rack up wins over opposition. Alvarez in the other corner is a grappling wizard, with 16 career submission wins including each of his last two. On the feet Moises absolutely has the advantage, because Alvarez tends to try and close the distance and pull guard to work his jiu-jitsu but Moises is a great grappler in his own right.
Alvarez absolutely has the skills and ability to submit Moises on the ground, but he’d need a mistake from Moises in my opinion. Moises is the better wrestler and solid enough on the ground to know all about the traps Alvarez will look to set. Hard strikes and mixing in wrestling should see Moises collect a pretty comfortable win. PICK – Thiago Moises via Decision
The lightweight division takes centre stage once again for the UFC this weekend as the highly rated Islam Makhachev headlines his first card against Tiago Moises at UFC Vegas 31.
Makhachev is hotly anticipated to make a run for the lightweight title in the future but takes on arguably his biggest test so far in this main event clash, replacing Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez which fell apart due to an injury for ‘Blessed’.
Last week at UFC 264 we had an excellent run, going 11/12 with three perfect picks to move to 363/566 (64.13%) with 163 perfect picks (44.9%) overall.
Lets see if we can improve on that run here with this 11 fight card and after starting with the early prelims and prelims here, here are the picks for the main card.
Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Benitez has got some incredible body kicks and good striking technique with his hands, while also using a chopping leg kick to his advantages. Quarantillo is a good wrestler with good striking too, using his range well and some great cardio. When you match them up skill-for-skill at 145lbs it’s hard to see Benitez losing but he’s had trouble making weight in the past and with his cardio.
Benitez will land plenty of strikes and damage but if Quarantillo can close the distance and drag the fight down to use his wrestling and wear on Benitez’s cardio issues. It’s a close fight but I think the damage will be enough to earn a decision win. PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision
Rodolfo Vieira (7-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Vieira is a jiu-jitsu master with six of his seven wins coming via submission, while Stoltzfus has won five of his 13 victories via submission too. Vieira’s striking is completely non-existent but the level of his jiu-jitsu usually means if he gets you down it’s a wrap. Stoltzfus has got decent kicks in his arsenal, attacking the thigh and knee often knowing that he’s safe on his back. He isn’t against Vieira though.
Despite his last fight, Vieira is a supreme athlete with amazing jiu-jitsu and I do think he’d be able to get him down and get a submission. But Stoltzfus is good enough too to survive the opening round and capitalise on Vieira’s cardio issues to get the win himself as an underdog. PICK – Dustin Stoltzfus via Knockout, Round 3
Jeremy Stephens (28-18) vs Mateusz Gamrot (18-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Stephens is a great boxer with a bomb of a left hand, great durability and decent defensive grappling and is a veteran on the UFC roster. Gamrot on the other hand is a tremendous wrestler with decent striking to back him up which makes this fight a really interesting one. Stephens had legitimate one-punch KO power at featherweight and the move up to 155lbs will only help him in that regard but Gamrot is a very well-rounded fighter.
Gamrot is the naturally bigger man, and if he gets hit flush he’ll either go out or go straight into wrestling mode. If it’s the latter, then this could be a very long night for the veteran. PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Decision
Marion Reneau (9-7-1) vs Miesha Tate (18-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A final run against a returning champion in the women’s bantamweight division as Reneau takes on Tate. Reneau is 44 and in her final fight of her contract, coming off four defeats in a row against Cat Zingano, Yana Kunitskaya, Raquel Pennington and Macy Chiasson most recently at UFC Vegas 22. Tate retired back in 2016 after a loss to Pennington, but returns now after five years away from the cage.
Reneau is a jiu-jitsu black belt with a limited striking game, while Tate is a strong wrestler with good submission skills of her own. Reneau is awful off her back and Tate is a good enough wrestler to get her down quickly and hold her down, using her boxing well to enter range. Reneau has much more power in her hands but her technique isn’t great.
Realistically this is set up for Tate to win the fight impressively and make her comeback a moment to remember. PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision
Islam Makhachev (19-1) vs Thiago Moises (15-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Makhachev is an excellent striker with even scarier grappling, with his top position among the best in the entire sport never mind in the UFC lightweight division. Moises is a solid striker himself but he is also known for his jiu-jitsu skills, with six submission wins in his career. Makhachev’s wrestling is just such a big differential between the fighters that I can’t look past him winning.
He has his own submission skills but his positioning and pressure from the top is just as good at holding someone down and wearing them out and pounding them out. Moises has threats, but Makhachev’s cardio is likely to hold out and he’ll secure a big win. PICK – Islam Makhachev via Decision
It’s not been long since the UFC were finally able to move their 155lbs weight division on from Khabib Nurmagomedov at the top, but now the top ten is open to a new move too after Paul Felder announced his retirement.
‘The Irish Dragon’ was the last man to beat the new lightweight champion Charles Oliveira way back in 2017, with a second-round knockout via elbows enough to end the night early. But as Oliveira went on an unbeaten run over the course of the next three-and-a-half years, Felder’s career went the other way.
All five of the next fights went the distance, with the defeat to Dan Hooker in February 2020 proving to be one of the best fights of the year.
It was a war and one that showed all the absolute strengths that Felder had in his game. A wonderful striker, with a style that encompassed all eight limbs that a UFC fighter is blessed with when it comes to the world of MMA.
He was also a more than decent grappler, hanging on the ground with Oliveira in their fight to avoid chokes and while he only got one submission win himself in his career he is a Gracie purple belt. One of the most durable fighters around, in 24 professional fights he was only ever stopped once before the judge’s scorecards and that was by the doctor rather than an actual strike or submisison.
On top of all his physical gifts, he is also one of the better minds and personalities in the organisation. That much has been evident since he moved to the announcers desk in a part-time capacity and now it seems as though he’s going to move into that role full-time.
Speaking on the broadcast announcing his decision, he spoke of his wish to not hold up the division any more. Sitting in the top ten of the rankings, he was ahead of the likes of Islam Makhachev, Drew Dober, Gregor Gillespie and Thiago Moises – all of whom are looking to make a run towards glory.
Makhachev had even called Felder out for a scrap a couple of times, but it never came to fruition and now we know why.
With Felder admitting he didn’t have the ‘fire’ in his stomach any more when it came to competing, the division can open up more for people who are pushing harder than ever to move higher up in everyone’s thinking.
Angela Hill vs Ashley Yoder was cancelled on the day of the event due to a positive COVID-19 test from one of Yoder’s cornermen. The fight has been rescheduled for UFC Vegas 21, on March 13th.
The card will proceed with nine fights.
Dustin Jacoby def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Pretty steady start to the fight from both fighters as both men meet in the middle and trade calf kicks. A few attempts that miss from both guys before Grishin looks for a shot and takedown. Jacoby avoids it then as he steps forward Grishin lands a nice straight right that drops Jacoby. Grishin lands a big strike onto him on the ground then looks to take the back but Jacoby defends well and gets back up to his feet relatively unscathed. Heavy calf kick from Grishin lands before Jacoby just misses with a mean overhand right. Jacoby lands a nice head kick but Grishin walked through it and lands a big leg kick in return. Grishin lands a big punch after catching a kick and drops Jacoby again and ends the round on his back looking for a rear naked choke. 10-9 Grishin.
Jacoby with a better start to this round, landing some nice calf kicks and his jab well too, as Grishin fakes a few level changes and looks for some counter strikes. Jacoby circling on the outside against the cage, with Grishin looking to cut him off with good footwork and some nice hooks. Nice jab from Jacoby and then a clean left hook lands as Grishin starting to slow down a little. Grishin looks to clinch up but Jacoby lands a huge right hook that pushes Grishin onto his back foot. Lazy shot from the Russian is easily stuffed by Jacoby and he looks to be in the ascendancy as the round comes to a close. 19-19 going into the third.
Grishin doing well in this third round by taking the centre and landing the left hand well. Grishin throws a nice leg kick that takes Jacoby off balance but he bounces up quickly again. Grishin throws another leg kick but Jacoby checks it and sends Grishin off balance. Jacoby throws a flying knee that partially lands, but Grishin grabs hold of him and tries to tie him up on the cage, switching positions and landing a nice combo. Final minute of the round and it’s still up for grabs but Jacoby’s leg attacks are stacking up. Grishin now avoiding the leg attacks and lands a nice combo against the cage to end the round. Really close, but I lean towards Grishin for that final round. 29-28 Grishin.
Ronnie Lawrence def Vince Cachero via Knockout, Round 3 (2:38)
Lots of fast movements from both fighters in the opening minute of the fight, with Lawrence bouncing around on the outside and throwing leg kicks and spinning body kicks, while Cachero looks to land shots as he comes in. Lawrence finally shoots and gets the takedown immediately, but after some scrambles Cachero manages to get back to the feet. Lawrence continues to strike well on the feet with Cachero still looking for counter strikes, landing a big right hand before another takedown attempt. Lawrence gets into top position and avoids a triangle attempt from Cachero and ends the round in a dominant position. 10-9 Lawrence.
More of the same in the second round as Lawrence comes out really aggressive with kicks and body work. Cachero looks to be a step behind on the feet and Lawrence is so busy too, constantly touching him or moving. Takedown from Lawrence again and he holds the position well this time on top and passes into side control. Lawrence looks for the neck and Cachero gets back up to his feet, then Lawrence takes him down again but Cachero grabs the neck and goes for a guillotine. He transitions to a d’arce choke attempt but Lawrence defends it perfectly, stands up and then takes the fight down once again. He looks for a head and arm choke from three-quarter mount but Cachero defends well until the round ends. 20-18 Lawrence.
Both fighters meet in the middle and Lawrence throws a spinning body kick again. Nice leg kick lands and drops Cachero and Lawrence goes straight for a finish. Lots of short ground and pound strikes before a German suplex slams Cachero down again. Lawrence maintains control on the top and starts landing ground and pound and looks to take the back. Cachero defends well but Lawrence ends up back on top and is throwing big ground and pound strikes from mount now. So many strikes from Lawrence as Cachero keeps trying to move but Lawrence is relentless and gets the stoppage win. What a performance.
Alexis Davis def Sabina Mazo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Fast start to the fight as both women open up with big combo exchanges, with Mazo landing hard and heavy early on. Mazo throws a body kick as Davis throws a leg kick which drops Mazo, and Davis drops down to make it a grappling match quickly. Davis passes into side control relatively quickly and Mazo tries to explode up, but Davis holds on and takes her back. Both hooks in and she rolls away from the cage and as she hunts for a rear-naked choke Mazo tries to reverse the position but Davis holds it and ends the round landing shots while having back control. 10-9 Davis but Mazo was dominant on the feet early on, so will have confidence.
Davis comes out aggressive in the second with lots of peppering leg kicks and marching forward, but Mazo is staying calm and throwing shots back herself. Lots of jabs and straights from Mazo landing clean on Davis, but the leg kicks are persistent and causing lots of damage to Mazo right now. The Colombian Queen continues to come forward with her jab but Davis’s leg kicks are so relentless. Final 30 seconds of the round and Davis shoots for the takedown and gets it and ends the round on top. Close round, but probably Davis’. 20-18.
Final round and Mazo throws a body kick that gets caught and she gets sent back to the ground almost immediately. Mazo looks for a heel hook to threaten but Davis defends it well and gets back on top with ground and pound before taking her back early on in the round. Mazo looks to reverse into her guard but Davis looks fresher and stronger and pops back onto the top. More ground and pound from Davis and Mazo looks for an armbar but it’s defended well and she’s able to take the back once again. Final minute and she’s hunting for a finish but Mazo defending honourably and manages to see the round out. 30-27 Davis, very good performance from the veteran.
Thiago Moises def Alexander Hernandez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Fun start to the round with both guys pushing forward and throwing heavy strikes together. Hernandez taking the centre of the cage and forcing Moises to circle along the cage, with the Brazilian throwing lots of heavy calf kicks. Hernandez lands a nice body kick and is throwing good shots to the head and body. Moises lands a nice right hand on Hernandez and then Hernandez fires back with a body kick that clips the top of the cup and causes a pause in the action. Both fighters meet in the middle once the action resumes and the both miss wild overhand rights at the same time. Moises lands a heavy right hand that cracks Hernandez and he pushes forward for a finish, but misses everything and the round ends. Close, but I edge it to Moises. 10-9.
Hernandez opens the round with a right hand that misses and Moises lands a beautiful counter strike of his own. Hernandez is trying to be first a lot the time and Moises seems content with that and counters back perfectly almost every time. Spinning back kick from Moises is partially blocked but does some damage, before a nice left hand stuns Hernandez. Moises’ striking defence has been stellar so far and the round ends with Moises coming forward with big swings but Hernandez avoiding them and landing a nice counter of his own. 20-18 but again, close round.
Moises comes out hard early in the final round and lands some nice right hands. Hernandez still in this as Moises shoots for a takedown but Hernandez stuffs it and lands some nice punches as Moises holds his foot before they separate. Moises throws a few head kick attempts that narrowly miss as they continue to swing and miss on each other. Big head kick from Moises lands and he starts talking to Hernandez while walking him down and throwing big strikes and kicks. Hernandez stays composed but doesn’t land anything significant as the round ends. 30-27 Moises for me.
Alex Caceres def Kevin Croom via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)
Croom comes out hard early on with some heavy swings but Caceres stays composed, avoids them and lands some nice kicks to the legs and body. Croom comes forward though and is looking to make it a dirty fight, clinching up and trying to grind him down. Caceres gets double underhooks and looks for some knees but Croom escapes well and continues to press against the cage for a trip. Croom finally manages to get the fight down by dragging Caceres from his back, but he ends up on the bottom and eats some big ground and pound shots. He gets back to the feet and tries the same takedown again to end the round. 10-9 Caceres.
Croom comes out looking for a takedown early once again, but Caceres defends it really well once again. Croom goes in for another shot and eats a beautiful check right-hook that stuns him, but he continues to come forward again. Another takedown attempt and Caceres starting to feel it so Croom finally gets him down. He lands a nice elbow but then Caceres throws up a triangle and it looks tight. He picks the ankle too and tries to tighten it and as it looks like no way out for Croom, he then inexcusably just lets it go!? They battle for position for the remainder of the round but that is probably a Croom round. 19-19.
Final round and Caceres lands some huge counter strikes that wobble Croom! He keeps walking forward and is throwing some really lazy takedown attempt, clearly is absolutely exhausted. Caceres is defending the takedown attempts with ease and landing some nice strikes and eventually Caceres is the one who gets the takedown. He takes the back and wraps in a body triangle and starts throwing some ground and pound, before looking to sink in a rear naked choke. More ground and pound strikes from Caceres as he takes the round, potentially a 10-8, and the victory.
Pedro Munhoz def Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Crazy start to this one as Munhoz rushes out and goes for a high kick that gets countered and he ends up on his face. Both men stand in the pocket and trade big hooks and crosses each, with Rivera landing the heavier shots. Munhoz throwing some heavy calf kicks to the lead leg, while Rivera is countering with huge hooks that are landing flush. Rivera starting to return the leg kicks now too as Munhoz is wearing the damage more on his face. Munhoz lands two big calf kicks and drops Rivera both times! Rivera responds with a nice one two but his leg is in bits as the round ends. 10-9 Rivera.
Munhoz goes for another leg kick but Rivera moves and counters with a straight right hand and then charges forward to get the fight down to the ground. Munhoz instantly goes for a leg lock but Rivera rolls through into a 50/50 position and both fighters let go and stand back up. Rivera lands three big shots in a row but Munhoz fires a nasty leg kick in the middle of it that drops him to one knee again. Rivera throwing a few kicks of his own and then they both exchange big left hooks that land simultaneously. Munhoz lands another kick that drops Rivera and denies a takedown attempt from Rivera too. A wild exchange in the centre ends the round and it’s a Munhoz one. 19-19.
Final round and it’s all to fight for, so Rivera comes storming out and starts throwing big hooks and straights that land clean. Munhoz continues to throw the leg kicks and then throws one up to the head too. Rivera still throwing big punches but Munhoz showing that chin that has seen him never get stopped. Two accidental low blows from Munhoz cause short breaks but they go again. Final minute and Rivera lands two huge left hands and Munhoz is wobbled. He catches the leg kick and throws some big strikes and has Munhoz backing up but it’s not enough for the knockout and it’ll go to a decision. 29-28 Munhoz.
Montana De La Rosa vs Mayra Bueno Silva – Majority Draw (27-28, 28-28 x2)
Fast start from De La Rosa as she comes out and lands a couple of nice punches square to the face of Silva early on. Silva looks for a Thai clinch on a couple of occasions but De La Rosa is able to get the underhooks and push her against the cage. She gets the takedown nicely and Silva is able to get back up, but De La Rosa tries to put her back down immediately and is denied only by a fence grab. The referee stops the fight and deducts a point from Silva because it prevented a takedown. They go again and Silva lands more excellent knees while De La Rosa’s right hand is connecting well too. Great round, 10-8 De La Rosa.
Second round starts quickly again and Silva lands a big head kick that rocks De La Rosa! She’s throwing with some real venom and forces De La Rosa to shoot for a takedown, but Silva defends it well and ends up on top. Some big ground and pound from the Brazilian but De La Rosa gets back up to the feet well and recovers. Nice takedown attempt from De La Rosa and she eventually is able to dump her down and control from top position. Lots of ground and pound strikes and ends the round looking for a head and arm choke. Very close round, but 20-17 for me.
Silva opens the round once again with a Thai clinch and a head kick attempt that just misses. Silva throws a nice left hand that lands but De La Rosa closes the distance well and they tie up against the cage. De La Rosa looks for a takedown against the cage and Silva starts throwing elbows and punches, which busts up the nose of De La Rosa. She gets her up against the cage and goes for a single leg but instead of taking her down just holds against the cage and tries to beat her up. Into the final minute and De La Rosa gets the takedown and ends the round on top landing ground and pound for what should be a decision win.
Magomed Ankalaev def Nikita Krylov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
A tentative start to this one as Krylov closes the distance early and immediately goes for a takedown, not looking to trade on the feet too much. He gets him against the cage and eventually drags him to the ground, isolating the leg and trying to hold him down. Ankalaev is able to get up to his feet and they separate, which allows Ankalaev to start throwing some strikes. Nothing significant from either fighter as we enter the final minute. Ankalaev shoots for a takedown but Krylov is able to stay on the feet and the round ends. 10-9 Krylov, just.
Wild start to the round as Ankalaev comes out and looks to land some big shots early on. Krylov circling on the outside with his back to the cage, as Ankalaev circling and taking the centre cutting him off. Nice left hook from Ankalaev lands but Krylov responds with a right cross of his own. Takedown attempt from Krylov denied and then Ankalaev gets a clinch and lands a big knee up the middle. Krylov goes for a spinning attack but Ankalaev reads it and gets a takedown off it and ends up in top position. Krylov defending well from the bottom in his butterfly guard, so Ankalaev pops up and forces the issue to get Krylov on his back and lands a couple of elbows before the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Body kick from Krylov opens up the round but Ankalaev continues to march forward. Krylov goes for a takedown but it’s shrugged off and seconds late it’s Ankalaev who shoots against the cage. Nice inside trip gets the fight down and he’s looking to land some ground and pound, but Krylov is able to get back upright. Ankalaev holds on to him and eventually trips him back down against the cage and starts throwing some ground and pound. Complete control from top position by Ankalaev for the remainder of the round and that should be enough to get him a victory. 29-28 Ankalaev.
Ciryl Gane def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x3)
Very slow start to the fight as both mean stand in the centre and just kind of stare each other out for the first two minutes. Gane flicks out a lovely jab and avoids a wild swing from Rozenstruik but other than that not much action so far as we hit the halfway point of the round. Gane throws a lazy body kick that Rozenstruik catches and then he throws a combo, of which one punch lands. Gane throws a better body kick and then changes levels to go in for a takedown against the cage. Rozenstruik defends and then goes for some elbows, which allows Gane to get the takedown to end the round. 10-9 Gane.
More of the same from both fighters in the second round as Gane throws the snappy jab and some body kicks, while Rozenstruik is just waiting for the right moment to throw a big counter strike. A couple more jabs and Rozenstruik steps forward to start an attack and Gane changes levels quickly and turns him against the cage. Gane then throws Rozenstruik to the ground and jumps to take the back for a choke, but Rozenstruik escapes quickly. Rozenstruik catches a kick and walks him backwards but doesn’t throw anything and allows Gange off the hook and the second round ends. 20-18 Gane.
Gane starting to loosen up a bit in this round with a nice head kick early on that brings a smile from both competitors. More jabs and some leg kicks too from Gane, while Rozenstruik is still very flat and throwing next to nothing. Big swing from both men lands simultaneously but they both continue to stand tall. More jabs from Gane to the chin and body, before a nice on-two followed by a leg kick lands too. Jab and leg kick combo from Rozenstruik lands nicely and he ends the round landing a big right hook that Gane eats and goes for a single leg as the buzzer goes. 30-27 Gane, light work right now.
Gane continues from the outside with the jab and fighting at a really easy pace, with Rozenstruik essentially refusing to throw at this point. Gane on the front foot and landing lots of leg kicks and jabs, but just really untroubled. Gane goes to close the distance against the cage and throws a knee that glances the cup and causes a pause in the action. Nice jab from Gane followed with a big left hook lands clean as he sees out the round with ease. 40-36, this isn’t a good fight at all.
Final round and Gane continues with what he’s been doing for the past 20 minutes – jabs and leg kicks. Rozenstruik still seemingly forgetting he’s allowed to hit Gane back, as Gane closes the distance and clinches up against the cage. Both men throw some light knees before they separate and get straight back to the pattern of the fight so far. Rozenstruik throws a left hand and Gane overpowers him back to the cage and clinches up as we enter the final 90 seconds. Gane uses his strength again and takes the back of Rozenstruik before dragging him down momentarily and the fight ends against the cage. 50-45 Gane, bleh.
Last week we went 6/12 for predictions with just two perfect picks, taking us to 236/371 (63.61%) with 106 (44.92%) perfect picks since starting in June 2020. We’ll look to improve that this weekend with a fun 12 fight card, starting with the seven prelim fights here.
Dustin Jacoby (13-5) vs Maxim Grishin (31-8-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs) **Maxim Grishin weighed in 3.5lbs over the weight limit of 206lbs**
Jacoby is a solid striker who had a few cardio issues during his Contender Series bout, but considering it was only his second MMA bout since 2015 you can probably make a case of exception. Grishin is a talented kickboxer with great conditioning and a huge experience advantage. It’s a pretty even contest and one that will likely go the distance, but considering the cardio issues in the past and the level of inactivity I think Grishin can sneak a decision win here. PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision
Vince Cachero (7-3) vs Ronnie Lawrence (6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An intriguing fight between two guys looking for their first UFC wins as Cachero takes on Lawrence. Cachero was 1-2 in his last three LFA fights before taking a super-late notice fight with Jamall Emmers up in the featherweight division in August, being dominated to a wide decision defeat. Lawrence on the other hand got a dominant decision go his way on the Contender Series despite being a huge underdog.
Lawrence is a super talented wrestler, who has a gas tank for days and secured a dozen takedowns in his last fight. That doesn’t bode well with Cachero struggling in the past against people who are great wrestlers. That said, Cachero is a powerful striker and Lawrence sometimes throws lazy shots which could give him a chance to land some valuable strikes. Despite that, I think Lawrence is able to get the takedowns he wants and secures a decision win for a debut victory. PICK – Ronnie Lawrence via Decision
William Knight (9-1) vs Alonzo Menifield (9-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Knight’s striking isn’t the cleanest and his offensive wrestling isn’t the most impressive, but he uses his brute strength in clinch situations to get the fight down to the ground and then unleash violent ground and pound. Menifield is a bit more well rounded but seems to lack some cage IQ and struggles to make in-fight adjustments. He seemed shocked by the strength of OSP and if that’s the case, then Knight could blow him out of the water.
That said it’s a 50/50 fight between these two and I think the ground game of Knight and the fact he’s been to a judges decision before and won is a positive. It’s a solid match up and I think Knight just edges a good, competitive bout. PICK – William Knight via Knockout, Round 2
Alexis Davis (19-10) vs Sabina Mazo (9-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A fight between two women at completely different points of their UFC careers in the women’s bantamweight division. Davis is a UFC veteran who has lost her last three fights by decision to Katlyn Chookagian, Jennifer Maia and Viviane Araujo most recently back in 2019. Mazo on the other hand is on a three-fight win streak, beating Shana Dobson, JJ Aldrich and Justine Kish last time out in September 2020.
Davis is a solid grappler, even fighting her way to a title shot back in the day against Ronda Rousey. She has eight submission wins on her record, plus two knockouts too. Mazo is a fantastic kickboxer with some great wrestling defence and she has a decent ground game herself, winning her last fight by rear naked choke. The ‘Colombian Queen’ is only 23, but she’s super busy and has good footwork and I think she should be able to deny the takedowns and land enough on the feet to get a win. PICK – Sabina Mazo via Decision
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Ramazan Kuramagomedov (8-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A highly anticipated short-notice debut for Kuramagomedov as he takes on the wily veteran ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira. Oliveira has lost four of his last six fights, including his most recent to Shavkat Rakhmonov via a first-round submission at UFC 254. Kuramagomedov got a win against Jordan Williams on the Contender Series back in 2019 but didn’t get signed, but has maintained his unbeaten record and now gets a big chance on five days’ notice.
Oliveira is a powerful striker but he has relatively low output in most bouts and likes to get top control to reserve his energy until the later rounds. Kuramagomedov is a versatile striker with a suffocating top game too, who focuses heavily on leg attacks to make the takedowns a bit easier. When someone fires back with lots of volume, like Williams did on the Contender Series, then his defence gets called into question. This fight is unlikely to go that way though, with the Russian able to outland on the feet with his volume and he’s the considerably better wrestler too.
Kuramagomedov should be able to get the win here, but you can never rule out Oliveira in a fight like this. PICK – Ramazan Kuramagomedov via Decision
Alexander Hernandez (12-3) vs Thiago Moises (14-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really exciting lightweight bout as the featured prelim in this one between two of the better prospects in the division. Hernandez started his UFC run with knockout wins over Beneil Dariush and Olivier Aubin-Mercier, before being stopped in his tracks by Donald Cerrone. His last fight was a knockout win over Chris Gruetzemacher in October. Moises is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with unbelievable grappling skills who has never been stopped in his career, winning his last two fights against Michael Johnson and Bobby Green in October.
Hernandez has all the tools to win here. He’s a powerful striker and loves to take the centre of the cage, with excellent wrestling defence and a fantastic gas tank. Moises struggles off his back foot and will look to get his hands on Hernandez to bring the fight down to the ground. If Hernandez stays aggressive like he has in all his UFC wins so far and fights on the front foot, he gets the win. Unfortunately, I don’t think he does so Moises should do enough for the victory. PICK – Thiago Moises via Decision
After the fun of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a 12 fight card with some interesting fights including a featherweight clash between Bryce Mitchell and Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili in the co-main event.
Last weekend at UFC 254, I got 9/12 picks correct with five perfect picks. Since starting my predictions back in June, my current record stands at 145/222 total picks, with 67 perfect picks in that time. I will look to improve that this week with these picks.
Bobby Green (27-10-1) vs Thiago Moises (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Bobby Green comes into this fight on his first three-fight win streak since 2014 to take on Thiago Moises who has alternated wins and losses since his win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2018. Green beat Clay Guida in June, then defeated Lando Vannata in August and Alan Patrick in September while Moises’ last fight was a win over Michael Johnson back in May via submission. It’s a true veteran vs up-and-comer fight and in this instance the advantages are with the experienced fighter. On the feet, Green has more power and so long as he keeps up his rejuvenation when it comes to volume he should win those exchanges. His wrestling is excellent too and he is notoriously hard to take down, meaning Moises will find it hard to use his superb jiu-jitsu. I think Green will be able to keep the fight standing and use his superior striking to get another decision win. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Greg Hardy (6-2 1NC) vs Maurice Greene (9-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Greg Hardy has the MMA world in the palm of his hand because of his reputation rather than his talent. The former NFL star has done reasonably well in MMA since turning professional a few years ago and losing his UFC debut via disqualification. His only fight this calendar year got him back in the win column, when he outlasted Yorgan De Castro for a decision. Maurice Greene however is 1-1 in 2020, losing via submission to Aleksei Oleynik before defeating Gian Villante via submission in June. Both these fighters have similar issues with either not being able to last three rounds when trying to KO someone, or not being able to KO someone when trying to last three rounds. Since that’s the case, Hardy will need to avoid Greene’s submission game by keeping the fight standing and trying to just out-strike him which I think he should be able to do. PICK – Greg Hardy via Decision
Kevin Holland (19-5) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
This is a fight that has been put together on very short notice and due to that is a complete mismatch. Kevin Holland is 4-0 in 2020 and was looking to blast his way into the Top 15 with a short-notice win over Makhmud Muradov. The Uzbekistan fighter pulled out due to a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday though and Charlie Ontiveros has stepped up on three day’s notice to make his UFC debut. ‘The American Bad Boy’ has won his last two fights via first round knockout but hasn’t fought yet in 2020. Holland is on a hot-streak and I expect his showmanship will be on full display once again. He’s bigger, better on the feet and good enough not to be taken down to find out if he’s better on the mat or not. Holland blasts his way through his new opponent in one round with a flurry of punches after a knockdown. PICK – Kevin Holland via Knockout, Round 1
Bryce Mitchell (13-0) vs Andre Fili (21-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
This fight has got fight of the night written all over it as the undefeated Bryce Mitchell takes on UFC veteran Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili in the co-main event. Mitchell has won all four of his fights in the octagon, including winning via twister submission against Matt Sayles back in December last year. He followed that up with a convincing decision win over Charles Rosa in May too. Fili is a super well rounded fighter, who is 3-2 in his last five fights in the octagon, including a win in his last fight against Charles Jourdain. It’s a typical fight where both guys strengths are the other fighter’s weakness. Bryce Mitchell is a demon on the ground, with all his wins inside the distance coming via submission while Fili has a huge advantage on the feet with his jab and boxing skills. The likelihood all-in-all though is that Mitchell can get this fight to the ground eventually and he will take over. Fili has a habit of being comfortable working off his back and if he does that then Mitchell will have a field day. PICK – Bryce Mitchell via Decision
Uriah Hall (15-9) vs Anderson Silva (34-10 1NC) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The end of the career of greatest middleweight of all time is upon us and Uriah Hall is the man chosen to put the final nail in the coffin of Anderson Silva. After going 16-0 in the UFC, his loss to Chris Weidman was the start of a bad downward spiral. Since then, Silva has one win in his last eight fights and even that was incredibly controversial against Derek Brunson. Both men are dynamic and exciting strikers but Silva is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt of over a decade. His best chance to win this fight is via submission, something he hasn’t done since he forced Chael Sonnen to tap out way back in 2010. Hall is the more powerful striker at this point but Silva hasn’t lost his chin yet. His knockout against Weidman was a complete fluke and his other two TKO losses on his record were due to leg injuries. Despite that, Hall hits really hard and will likely head hunt to some extent. He had enough power to knock down Paulo Costa (unofficially) in their fight two years ago so I can’t imagine he won’t be able to do the same to Silva. PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3