Tag Archives: Timur Valiev

UFC London: Volkov vs Aspinall – Prelims predictions

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

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

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

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

We’ll look to improve that record here and after starting with the early prelims, we round off our prelims picks here.


Jack Shore (15-0) vs Timur Valiev (18-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Arguably the fight of the night, so no idea why this is all the way down the card like this. Shore is an undefeated talent with a perfect 15-0 record, earning a dominant decision win over Liudvik Sholinian at UFC Vegas 36 most recently while Valiev earned a mightily impressive win over Raoni Barcelos at UFC Vegas 30 in his most recent outing to make it eight wins in his last nine bouts.

Shore is a technical kickboxer with some solid top game too with excellent jiu-jitsu skills too, while Valiev is a speedy striker who has really strong wrestling skills too and has fought a better level of competition. This is an incredibly close match up stylistically and in terms of their current level and could really go either way.

Valiev has the speed edge on the feet and his wrestling is usually good enough to dictate where the bout goes, but Shore will pressure him hard and if he gets on top the likelihood is the round ends with a finish or with him still in that position. Valiev has shown an ability to get KO’d in the past and while Shore doesn’t have that one-punch power himself, the ground-and-pound game will come in handy to secure him a late finish.
PICK – Jack Shore via Knockout, Round 3

Nikita Krylov (27-8) vs Paul Craig (15-4-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight banger up next as ‘BearJew’ makes a return to the octagon. Krylov has alternated defeats and losses in the UFC with losses against Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira and Magomed Ankalaev most recently at UFC Vegas 20 while he earned wins against Ovince St Preux and Johnny Walker. Craig hasn’t fought since UFC 263, where he smashes Jamahal Hill and got a nasty TKO after pulling guard and dislocating his elbow.

Krylov is a solid offensive fighter with good kickboxing skills, good power in his hands and a decent ground game too. Craig on the other hand is a highly-skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and while he has powerful striking, his home is on the mat. Krylov will want to keep this fight standing as much as possible, but Craig should look to bring it down quickly.

On the feet, Krylov is the more crisp striker and he has got 15 submission wins in his career from the top position but he’s also been defeated five times via tap out. Craig will likely get clipped on the feet, pull guard and eventually work his way to an armbar for yet another brilliant submission win..
PICK – Paul Craig via Submission, Round 2



Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-6) vs Sergei Pavlovich (14-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Heavyweights step up to the plate in this prelim bout between a veteran and a prospect among the big men. Abdurakhimov returned after two-years away to get stomped by Chris Daukaus at UFC 266 last time out, while Pavlovich is on a two-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since October 2019.

‘Abrek’ is a grinding wrestler, with a great sambo background and dominant top game looking to wear on his opponents on the mat. Pavlovich on the other hand is a heavy-handed striker with tremendous power, but some takedown defence issues make this a hard fight to call. Abdurakhimov is happy to take a punch or three to close the distance and get hold of his opponent, but those punches could see the end of the night early on.

Pavlovich’s path to victory is clear; avoid takedowns and strike with speed and power. If he can keep this on the feet then I expect him to land enough clean shots to end this one early and while Abdurakhimov will try hard for the takedown I think he gets dropped on the way in before a quick finish.
PICK – Sergei Pavlovich via Knockout, Round 1

Mike Grundy (12-3) vs Makwan Amirkhani (16-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight scrap rounds off the prelims section of the card between two European fighters. Grundy is on a two-fight losing streak, dropping decisions against Movsar Evloev and then most recently Lando Vannatta at UFC 262. Amirkhani on the other hand has lost each of his last three, dropping decisions against Edson Barboza and Kamuela Kirk before getting KO’d by Lerone Murphy at UFC 267 most recently.

Grundy is a freestyle wrestler, who looks to use pressure and a big right hand on the feet to set up his takedowns. Amirkhani is a brilliant wrestler also, with excellent submission skills but just about two rounds of cardio in the bank. If it goes to the ground, it’s all about how long they’re there for and who’s on top.

If Amirkhani is on top, then I expect him to be able to work the position before finding a neck or an arm and getting a submission win. If Grundy is on top he will look to wear on Amirkhani and start using big ground and pound on the mat to do damage. With their skills matched up, I’m going to go with the cardio and home crowd advantage of Grundy to drag him through and earn him the victory.
PICK – Mike Grundy via Decision

UFC Vegas 30: Gane vs Volkov – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex this weekend with some giant European heavyweights headlining the card as Ciryl Gane takes on Alexander Volkov with a potential title shot looming for the winner.

A make-believe European title will be on the line as the two top five heavyweights clash, coming into the fight off the back of win streaks over top contenders too.

Elsewhere on the card in the co-main event, Ovince Saint-Preux moves up to heavyweight to take on short-notice opponent Tanner Boser while Raoni Barcelos gets back in the octagon to take on Timur Valiev in an absolute banger at bantamweight.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 29, we went 8/12 on the night with four perfect picks to go up to 346/542 (63.84%) with 155 perfect picks (44.8%).

We’ll look to improve on that here with this 13-fight card and after starting off with the early prelims here, and predicting the rest of the prelims here, here are our main card picks.


Renato Moicano (14-4-1) vs Jai Herbert (10-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very intriguing lightweight fight to open the main card as Renato Moicano takes on the UK’s Jai Herbert. Moicano has lost three of his last four fights, including most recently getting knocked out by Rafael Fiziev at UFC 256. Herbert on the other hand got knocked out in his UFC debut by Francisco Trinaldo at UFC Fight Island 3 to snap a six-fight win streak.

Moicano is a super technical striker with some brilliant jiu-jitsu skills, while Herbert is a fine striker of his own accord but seems to have left his chin behind at Cage Warriors after his last outing. Herbert has good power on his feet too but Moicano’s grappling is so far and away from Herbert’s that it makes it incredibly lopsided.

Moicano can work his way in to grappling range with his striking and can end up getting the fight down and working for a submission. Herbert is technical enough to avoid the submissions on the ground, but Moicano should control on the ground for a wide decision win.
PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision

Tim Means (31-12-1) vs Nicolas Dalby (19-3-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two welterweights coming into this one on win streaks as Tim Means takes on Nicolas Dalby at 170lbs. Means has won two-in-a-row, with decision wins over Laureano Starapoli at UFC Vegas 6 and Mike Perry at UFC 255. Dalby had a no-contest against Jesse Ronson at UFC Fight Island 3 where he lost by submission on the night, before he bounced back with a win over Daniel Rodriguez.

Means is a fantastic boxer on the feet but he also has some good wrestling skills, while Dalby is a solid wrestler with some okay boxing skills too. Means doesn’t have top level power but he has enough to put a hurting on someone who doesn’t excel at striking, just like Dalby. Dalby is durable though but even his most recent performances haven’t been too convincing.

Means should pick Dalby apart using his jab and power strikes following them up but I don’t expect he’ll get the knockout.
PICK – Tim Means via Decision

Andre Fili (21-8) vs Daniel Pineda (27-14) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight banger between Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili as he takes on Daniel Pineda with both guys coming off a loss. Fili was well beaten by Bryce Mitchell at UFC Vegas 12 back in October last year, while Pineda followed up a win over Herbert Burns at UFC 253 by getting knocked out cold by Cub Swanson at UFC 256.

Both these guys are really well rounded, but have their main strengths at opposite ends. Fili’s solid grappling is usually his starting spot for game plans, with good volume to his striking and a good ability to mix it up. Pineda is a boxing heavy guy who has some decent grappling skills to fall back on if needed, as seen with his stunning 18 submission wins. It’s a really, really interesting fight that will likely be in the conversation for fight of the night.

With that said Fili is the master of the decision and I think he’s capable of riding out the storm and using his good striking to earn a win.
PICK – Andre Fili via Decision

Raoni Barcelos (16-1) vs Timur Valiev (17-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

My pick for fight of the night, an absolute bantamweight banger in this one. Barcelos returned from a near two-year absence with a fight of the night win over Khalid Taha to extend his win streak up to nine in a row. Valiev on the other hand is officially on an eight-fight unbeaten run although he was knocked out by Trevyn Jones at UFC Vegas 7 in his debut only for it to be overturned. He returned with a great win over Martin Day at UFC Vegas 18 though.

Barcelos is a stunning fighter, with brilliant striking, jiu-jitsu, scrambles and footwork. Valiev is a black-belt in jiu-jitsu too with good kicks but he’s a striker first and foremost and both these guys will come forward and trade. Unfortunately for Valiev, that fight against Jones did happen and you can’t overlook it.

Both guys are fantastic prospects, but Barcelos has the knockout power and durability to stop this one early if it does become a war.
PICK – Raoni Barcelos via Knockout, Round 2

Tanner Boser (19-8-1) vs Ovince Saint-Preux (25-15) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A strange co-main event as Tanner Boser steps in on short-notice to take on Ovince Saint-Preux, moving up to heavyweight for this one. Boser has lost each of his last two, dropping decisions to Andrei Arlovski at UFC Vegas 13 and Ilir latifi last month at UFC Vegas 28. ‘OSP’ on the other hand was knocked out in his last one at light heavyweight against Jamahal Hill at UFC Vegas 16.

Boser is a boxer with a decent kicking game in his arsenal, while OSP is a laboured striker with terrific grappling skills including his own patented choke. OSP has fought at heavyweight before but made his name at 205lbs and Boser is not a small heavyweight fighter. Considering OSP has been KO’d at the smaller weight class before, that doesn’t pose too well against heavyweights.

OSP is likely to try and use his grappling skills in this one but Boser’s takedown defence is good and his striking is better than OSP’s, so I think he’ll take the win after 15 minutes.
PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision

Ciryl Gane (8-0) vs Alexander Volkov (33-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A really intriguing fight in the main event as Ciryl Gane puts his undefeated record on the line to take on Alexander Volkov with a future title shot surely on the line. Gane has beaten Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256 and then Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20 in a dominant performance, while Volkov bounced back from defeat to Curtis Blaydes at UFC Vegas 3 with knockout wins over Walt Harris at UFC 254 and Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18.

Gane is a Muay-Thai fighter with some good grappling skills in his weaponary too, while Volkov is a rangy boxer standing at 6ft 7′ tall. Volkov’s performance against Overeem was arguably his best, as he used his jab brilliantly and stuffed some takedown attempts to keep the fight standing while against Blaydes he really struggled to do that. Blaydes is a far better grappler than Gane though, who is very patient and accurate with his striking.

Volkov’s got real knockout power in his hands and uses his body kicks well, while Gane’s stoppages come more from volume than just putting people away. It’s a really intriguing fight but having never seen Gane lose, it’s hard to know how he reacts to adversity. Volkov will land strikes and he has lots of experience, so I think Volkov is able to get the job done at this stage of their careers.
PICK – Alexander Volkov via Knockout, Round 4

UFC announce several high-profile bouts for second quarter of 2021

The UFC have announced a host of huge main event bouts for the remainder of the second quarter of 2021 as they look to return to normality following the COVID-19 pandemic.

After it was announced that the company would return to a full, sold-out, capacity crowd for UFC 261 on April 24th – headlined by Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal 2 for the welterweight title – they have looked to put together some mega fights and cards as we close out the first half of the year.

UFC 262 will also take place in front of a sold out arena on May 15th, with the vacant lightweight title on the line as Charles Oliveira takes on Michael Chandler in the main event. That card will also feature Leon Edwards taking on Nate Diaz in the first ever non-title five-round co-main event in UFC history, while Tony Ferguson will battle Beneil Dariush also.

Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno will then meet in their much anticipated rematch for the flyweight title at UFC 263 on June 12th before the big trilogy bout between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 264 on July 10th.

With the pay-per-view main events set for the foreseeable future, the UFC have now announced some of their Fight Night main events and some other notable bouts too.

After UFC 261, former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes returns to the octagon following his defeat at UFC 253 when he takes on Jiri Prochazka on May 1st in their main event bout. Prochazka made his UFC debut at UFC 251 with a stunning knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir to shoot himself into contention for the top five. This fight was originally scheduled for February but Reyes was forced to withdraw due to injury.

The bantamweight division will then see its next contender rise to the top of the rankings as Cory Sandhagen takes on returning former champion TJ Dillashaw in the main event on May 8th. Sandhagen impressively knocked out Marlon Moraes on Fight Island in October before flatlining Frankie Edgar in February and was expected to challenge for the title before the controversial finish to Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259.

These two will now battle it out for the number one contender spot, with Yan and Sterling certain to compete in a rematch later this year. Dillashaw makes his return to the octagon after serving a two-year suspension after admitting to injecting EPO ahead of his flyweight title fight with Henry Cejudo in 2019.

The following weekend will see UFC 262, before a return to the bantamweights headlining as Cody Garbrandt takes on Rob Font in a battle of heavy hands. ‘No Love’ last fought at UFC 250 with a highlight reel knockout over Raphael Assuncao, before being scheduled to move down to 125lbs for a flyweight title fight against Figueiredo. Garbrandt was forced to withdraw with injury and ‘Deus da Guerra’ instead fought Alex Perez at UFC 255.

Font on the other hand made it three wins in a row when he took out Marlon Moraes in the first round of their bout at UFC Vegas 17 in the final card of 2020. A win for him will push him into the title picture too as he currently sits at number three in the rankings.

UFC 217 Weigh-ins : News Photo
TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will both return to the octagon in May

Moving into June, at UFC 263 welterweight jiu-jitsu king Demian Maia will make his return to the octagon for the first time since being brutally knocked out by Gilbert Burns at UFC Brasilia last year – the first event to take place without fans due to the pandemic – when he takes on Belal Muhammad.

Muhammad stepped in on short notice to fight Leon Edwards last month but the fight was unfortunately cut short after an eye-poke from the Brit meant ‘Bully’ was unable to continue. He’s seemingly been rewarded for the short-notice step in though, as he’ll shoot up the rankings with a win as he takes on number eight Maia despite currently sitting at number 13.

The following Fight Night card on June 19th will be headlined by two top featherweights as the Korean Zombie returns to the cage to take on Dan ’50K’ Ige. Zombie was given a striking lesson in his last bout when he was dominated by Brian Ortega on Fight Island, while Ige bounced back from a defeat to Calvin Kattar last summer with a huge knockout win over Gavin Tucker at UFC Vegas 21 to live up to his nickname with a performance bonus.

Following on from that on June 26th, two heavyweight contenders will main event a Fight Night card as Alexander Volkov and Ciryl Gane meet in the octagon. Both giants have already picked up main event wins in 2021, with Volkov knocking out Alistair Overeem at UFC Vegas 18 before Gane dominated Jairzinho Rozenstruik to remain unbeaten at UFC Vegas 20 just a few weeks later.

With the top of the division currently at a standstill as Jon Jones and the UFC have a contract impasse and Derrick Lewis waiting on a decision to see if he will fight new champion Francis Ngannou next for the title, Volkov and Gane have chosen to stay busy and look improve their own situations in the running for a potential title shot in the future.

That fight will be backed up by a bantamweight banger between two of the most underrated fighters in the division as Raoni Barcelos takes on Timur Valiev. Barcelos returned after nearly a year away from the cage with a masterful performance against Khalid Taha at UFC Vegas 13 before seeing his next three bouts fall through for various reasons. He has won his last nine fights professionally and is 5-0 in the UFC.

Valiev earned himself a unanimous decision win over Martin Day at UFC Vegas 18, which followed a no-contest against Trevin Giles who failed a drug test following their bout at UFC Vegas 7. Valiev was knocked out in that fight but since it was overturned, he is officially unbeaten in eight bouts in a row.

Last but not least, the UFC also announced blockbuster welterweight co-main event for UFC 264 on July 10th when Gilbert Burns returns to the cage to take on Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Burns was on a tear at 170lbs and fought Usman for the title at UFC 258 in February, only to suffer a third round TKO loss to his former teammate. He’ll be taking on former title challenger Thompson who has won his last two fights in a row, defeating Vicente Luque and then Geoff Neal most recently at UFC Vegas 17 in December. Both men are looking to get back into the title picture as soon as possible and with Leon Edwards hoping that a win over Nate Diaz at UFC 262 can earn him a fight against the winner of Usman vs Masvidal later this year. A win for either of these two competitors in July could see them challenge next for the title, especially if they can do it impressively.

UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ode Osbourne def Jerome Rivera via Knockout, Round 1 (0:26)

Both fighters come out and meet in the centre and Rivera throws a high left kick. Osbourne rolls the kick, catching the kick on his shoulder and lands a huge left hand straight down the pipe! Rivera is down, Osbourne lands a couple of strikes on the ground but it’s over inside 30 seconds! Wow!

Timur Valiev def Martin Day via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x2, 30-26)

Good start to the round for Valiev as he comes out and attacks the legs early with a series of kicks. Day counters another leg kick with a short combo in the pocket but Valiev steps out of the way and then goes for a single leg takedown. He takes the back against the cage and has a body lock before dragging Day down to the mat, only for Day to get back up quickly. Valiev finally gets the fight down and stops the scramble attempt to end up in top position. Some nice short elbows from Valiev but Day is defending well as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Valiev.

Valiev opens the second round with some more leg kicks, before a nice one-two and a takedown have the fight on the ground in the centre of the octagon. Valiev passes into side control and Day tries to get back to his feet but it’s prevented well with some solid ground and pound. Valiev completely dominant right now with constant pressure on the ground, staying busy and landing shots to the body and head of Day. Complete domination for the entire second round, could be a 10-8 round. 20-17 Valiev.

Final round and Day starts throwing some kicks and a few strikes, knowing he needs a finish in this round. It doesn’t last long though as Valiev gets another takedown early in the round and controls the positions once again. More ground and pound strikes on the ground as Day tries to get back up, but Valiev is a nuisance and keeps a body lock and just drags him up and down as much as possible. Valiev switches between half-guard, mount and side control for the rest of the round for a dominant decision victory. 30-26 Valiev.

Seungwoo Choi def Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tactical start to this fight from both guys as Choi takes the centre, but Zalal is happy to circle on the outside and jab while avoiding heavier shots. Choi throws a few big head kicks but Zalal slips them relatively easily. Zalal shoots for the takedown and gets in on the hips but Choi steps over the trip attempt and they end up tied up against the cage. Zalal continues to look for the takedown against the cage but they’re at a stalemate and the referee separates them. Another clinch against the cage as the round comes to an end and Choi gets a takedown right on the horn. 10-9 Zalal for me but could go either way.

Second round starts with an exchange of kicks before another clinch against the cage, as Zalal looks for the takedown again. He gets a single leg but Choi defends really well against the cage until the referee separates them again. Body kick and one-two from Choi lands clean as he starts to come forward more. He pushes forward with another combo before the clinch again against the cage, before Choi gets Zalal down to the mat before letting him straight back up. A few more exchanges before the end of the round, this one more clear cut in Choi’s favour. 19-19 or 20-18.

Choi starts the final round strong, as he looks to have Zalal beat in all areas right now. They clinch against the cage again and Zalal finally gets the fight to the ground and goes straight for a guillotine. It looks tight as he rolls through but Choi eventually turns into it and ends up on top in guard. Choi eventually works his way back up to the feet but Zalal goes for a single leg takedown again and gets Choi down against the cage. Every time Zalal gets him down in this round he pops straight back up, refusing to accept bottom position as we enter the final 40 seconds. Round comes to an end with a clinch against the cage and it will likely be a Choi decision win. 29-28 Choi.

Lara Procopio def Molly McCann via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-27)

Fast start to this fight as McCann comes out throwing leg kicks and punch combinations early, while Procopio looks to walk her to the cage and go for a takedown. After a battle against the cage, Procopio gets a beautiful trip and ends up in top position halfway through the round. Procopio dominating on the ground and has McCann’s neck tight to control posture, but McCann fights out of that position, although she eventually pushes into full mount. McCann gives up the back and Procopio looks for an armbar before transitioning to the back and looking for a choke but the horn goes. Dominant from Procopio, 10-9.

McCann comes out aggressively again and looks to keep Procopio with her back against the cage, but a clinch and takedown attempt ends with McCann on her back. Procopio looks to transition into different positions but McCann throws up an armbar! Procopio looks to stack her to escape but McCann rolls through and locks it in tight! She has a full extension but Procopio refuses to tap and eventually is able to escape the position! Eventually the women get back to their feet against the cage and then Procopio lands another takedown inside the final minute as both women trade shots before the horn. 19-19.

Final round and Procopio is breathing heavy, but she still engages with the clinch situation against the cage looking for a takedown. She gets the fight down to the ground in scrappy fashion and then quickly transitions looking for a heel hook. McCann rolls through twice and escapes, but Procopio immediately gets back on her and brings McCann back down to the ground a further three times just using her size advantage. 30 seconds to go and Procopio takes the back of McCann and starts throwing punches to see the round out and take a decision win. 29-28 Procopio.

PRELIMS

Karol Rosa def Joselyne Edwards via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

An immediate shot and takedown from Rosa gets the fight down to the ground and the Brazilian into a strong position. She sits in half guard comfortably, throwing some nice ground and pound and just completely controlling the fight. Rosa moves into full mount and starts teeing off before Edwards throws her legs up and rolls through to get back to the feet. Both women exchange shots on the feet with Rosa beating up the legs as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Rosa.

Rosa comes out aggressively again with some heavy leg kicks, and Edwards buckles under the power of the kicks too. Rosa steps in and clinches before the separate and Rosa throws more kicks. Edwards charges forwards with a combination of hooks that land clean but she eats them well and comes forward with some shots of her own. Edwards comes forward again with a rush but Rosa gets hold of her and the fight goes back to the ground with Rosa on top. Rosa’s mouth is bleeding heavily but she’s staying on top and landing ground and pound well as the round ends. 20-18 Rosa.

Final round and after one exchange on the feet Rosa goes straight for the takedown and secures it. After some ground and pound and some grappling on the ground Rosa gets back to the feet herself and lets Edwards up, before they clinch up against the cage again. Edwards battling to stay on her feet as Rosa looks to wear on her with her physical advantage. Rosa drags Edwards down to the ground with under 90 seconds remaining and controls the position for the remainder of the round before ending with a big flurry of punches to take a decision win. 30-27 Rosa.

Devonte Smith def Justin Jaynes via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 2 (3:38)

Cagey start to the fight as both men look to feel each other out before committing to any big shots early on. Smith lands some nice jabs that rock Jaynes a little, but Jaynes is throwing tight left hook counters that are just missing too. Smith’s jab is working well to keep Jayne’s away from him but then Jaynes lands a nice right hand that wobbles Smith. Jaynes is covering up from the jab and then Smith lands a nice left followed by a kick that Jaynes catches. Smith lands some big shots while his leg is still in the air and Jaynes is rocked! Smith throws some knees and a right hand but Jaynes weathers the storm and the round ends. 10-9 Smith.

Jaynes comes out in the second round and goes straight for a takedown and they clinch up against the cage. Jaynes goes to sweep him but Smith explodes and reverses the position to end up on top in side control. He throws some nice knees to the body and some short punches to cause Jaynes some problems. Smith passes into full mount with ease and starts raining down punches before taking the back and looks for the rear naked choke but Jaynes reverses and escapes. Smith explodes back to his feet quickly and tells the referee he wants it back on the feet. Referee pauses the fight with Jaynes’ eye swelled shut and the doctor waves it off. TKO win for Smith!

MAIN CARD

Danilo Marques def Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (4:51)

Immediate takedown from Marques as he shoots in for a single leg and uses lots of movement before eventually tripping him down. Rodriguez fighting hard to get back to his feet against the cage, but Marques keeping his hands locked up and eventually gets him back down once again. Marques working hard to keep Rodriguez down and he’s tying up the legs to do so. Rodriguez gets back to the feet but once again Marques drags him back down. Rodriguez gets back to the feet with 15 seconds to go and throws a few knees and body shots but he looks exhausted. 10-9 Marques.

Second round starts with the two exchanging feints on the feet, with Rodriguez landing a nice low kick. Marques fakes a couple of takedown attempts before landing an overhand right and then finally getting the big takedown. Marques passes into full mount against the cage and he starts raining down big ground and pound punches. Both men look exhausted as Rodriguez gets back to a knee, but Marques keeps landing big punches and then takes the back with both hooks in. He rolls to the back and sinks in a rear naked choke and puts Rodriguez to sleep. Wonderful performance from Marques.

Beneil Dariush def Diego Ferreira via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A crazy pace to start this fight as Dariush comes out firing with strikes before shooting for a takedown. Ferreira defends it by pulling guard with an omoplata before exploding out back to his feet, but Dariush looks for a takedown again against the cage. When he can’t get it he separates and the two start trading bombs! Both men land huge shots on each other but Dariush keeps coming forward. Big knee to the body and Ferreira goes down! Dariush looks for ground and pound but Ferreira ties him up on the ground and is able to ride it out. Final 30 seconds and they get back to the feet, and Ferreira lands a big right hand clean. Dariush returns with a right of his own before a front kick to the face from Ferreira lands flush. What a round! 10-9 Dariush.

Second round starts as the first ended with both men throwing big strikes once again. Dariush looking a bit more tired than Ferreira, so he shoots for a takedown and then gets a trip against the cage and lands on top. Ferreira gets back up but Dariush puts him straight back down and starts to control on top. Ferreira defending but the pressure of Dariush is causing him a big problem and Dariush ends the round controlling position from the top. 20-18.

An insane pace continues into the third round as Ferreira starts to use his footwork more to avoid a brawl and keep out of the way of the takedown attempts. Dariush lands a couple of punches himself and misses a takedown before a kick lands on the cup of Ferreira and causes a short pause. Halfway through the round and we haven’t hit the ground yet but Dariush lands a beautiful one-two to the chin. Ferreira catches a kick and looks to put Dariush on the ground but a great scramble means they both get back to the feet and start swinging for the fences. Dariush shoots for a takedown with a minute remaining and gets it, and takes the back with a body lock as he sinks the hooks in but Ferreira shakes him off and the two scramble to the horn. Great fight, 30-27 Dariush for me though.

Alexandre Pantoja def Manel Kape via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Fun start to the fight as Pantoja looks to get right in Kape’s face early but ‘Starboy’ showing his amazing speed and slipping all attacks with his hands low. Kape making Pantoja miss a lot but barely throwing any strikes of his own as we move through the round, while Pantoja is trying to make reads and can’t. Kape’s jab is landing nicely when he throws it but just not enough volume. Pantoja lands a nice body kick and then Kape goes for a cartwheel kick that misses and Pantoja ends up on top. A couple of big strikes land while Kape is on the ground but he gets back up and ends the round with a takedown attempt of his own. 10-9 Pantoja.

Pantoja comes forward in the second round and throwing lots of kicks, and while Kape isn’t getting hurt or the sheer activity is giving Pantoja the rounds. Kape lands a nice one-two but Pantoja returns with some body kicks. Right hand lands from Pantoja but Kape returns fire with a nice one-two of his own. Kape trying to up the pace a little but still not throwing enough to trouble his opponent as we enter the final minute. Kape throws a head kick, follows it up with a left hand and then a takedown, but Pantoja rolls through and gets back to the feet quickly. Better round for Kape and it’s hard to score so could go either way. 19-19 for me.

Slower start to the round by both men in this one as Kape continues to feint and bounce, while Pantoja is almost waiting so he can counter. Nice left hook from Kape lands but Pantoja returns fire with a body kick. Leg kick from Pantoja misses and Kape lands a nice left hand in return before Pantoja lands a head kick. Kape not showing much urgency as we enter the final 90 seconds. Kape lands a left hand that troubles Pantoja and he follows it up with a nice combo. Kape shoots for a takedown and gets it but Pantoja rolls out again and the fight comes to an end. 29-28 either way for me.

Clay Guida def Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A super fun start to this fight as Johnson and Guida meet in the middle of the cage and start trading bombs! Johnson lands a few nice shots before Guida responds with a right hand that lands on the eye and causes Johnson big problems. Guida keeps marching forward and lands more shots with the right hand before he shoots for the takedown and eventually gets him down. Johnson manages to get back to the feet and they clinch against the cage and exchange knees. Guida’s right hook is causing Johnson problems but he’s firing back with nice hooks of his own. Fun round, 10-9 Guida.

Second round continues at a frantic pace as Guida goes straight for a takedown this time against the cage. Johnson battles really well to stay up on his feet before breaking away and landing a nice knee, but Guida is relentless with his pressure and is forcing Johnson to grind. Several attempts are denied by Johnson between now and the end of the round as Johnson looks very tired when the horn goes. 20-18 Guida.

Third round and Guida comes firing out once again with crazy pressure. Johnson circles and looks to land a jab but Guida is throwing hooks and uppercuts, then lands a big knee before shooting for a takedown. They clinch up against the cage before Guida gets him down before taking his back. He locks up a body triangle and rolls him over, then looks to sink in a rear naked choke. Johnson fights the hands and breaks the grip on the hands but can’t break the body triangle and the horn sounds for the end of the fight. Clay Guida should take the win here, 30-27.

Cory Sandhagen def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 1 (0:28)

Edgar comes out into the centre with Sandhagen and throws a leg kick as ‘Sandman’ circles on the outside. Edgar steps in with a looping left and SANDHAGEN WITH A FLYING KNEE!!!! EDGAR IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!!

Alexander Volkov def Alistair Overeem via Knockout, Round 2 (2:06)

Odd start to the round as Volkov throws a leg kick and Overeem seems to freeze and shell up against the cage, allowing Volkov to land some shots. Volkov continues to step forward with leg kicks and Overeem looks tense, but he explodes with two heavy left hands that land clean. Both men trade shots at the same time but as Volkov lands Overeem loses his balance and falls. Volkov jumps on him to land ground and pound but Overeem gets back to his feet quickly and they break. Volkov walking Overeem down against the cage and unloads a big combo as he covers up before the round comes to an end. 10-9 Volkov.

Volkov starts landing some nice jabs and Overeem is struggling to cope with the length and power. Volkov’s strikes landing through the guard of Overeem and he is busting him up bad. Overeem looks for a takedown but Volkov stops it easily and starts landing more shots. Overeem is badly hurt but he’s trying to fight back. Volkov lands a big left hand and Overeem falls to his knees and the referee waves it off to prevent further damage. What a performance from Volkov!

UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov – Prelims Predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX in Las Vegas for the first time in 2021 after a successful trip to Fight Island kicked the year off.

Alistair Overeem looks to continue his final run en route to UFC gold when he takes on Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division in the main event, with both men knowing they need a win to enter the top five conversations.

In the co-main, Cory Sandhagen takes on the legendary Frankie Edgar in the bantamweight division with both guys believing a win could set them up with a title shot against the winner of UFC 259’s title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.

In a 13 fight card, we’ve split it up into three to break down and predict. We’ve already predicted half the prelims here and now move onto the second half.

Last time out we went 4/10 at UFC 257 with three perfect picks for a bad night, to take us to 216/337 (64.09%) with 96 (44.44%) perfect picks. We look to improve that record with this card.

Karol Rosa (13-3) vs Joselyne Edwards (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A quick return to the octagon for Edwards, after a win on her UFC debut on Fight Island two weeks ago against Wu Yanan, where she will take a big step up in competition to fight Karol Rosa. Rosa’s last fight came on the first Fight Island event back in July, winning against Vanessa Melo to make it four wins in a row.

Edwards is a good Muay-Thai fighter, who’s takedown defence and offence is hot and cold at best. Rosa on the other hand is also a very good striker, but showed some great takedown chops in her last fight. Rosa has great volume and a really good pressure game, which could put the pace on Edwards and I’m not sure she’d be able to match it. With more volume, crisper striking and a wrestling advantage I think Rosa should be able to keep her winning streak going.
PICK – Karol Rosa via Decision

Devonte Smith (10-2) vs Justin Jaynes (16-6) – (Catchweight/160lbs)

A return to the octagon after over a year out for Devonte Smith, as he takes on short-notice opponent against Justin Jaynes. Smith lost his last fight, getting knocked out by Khama Worthy before picking up a serious achilles injury, while Jaynes won a crazy debut against Frank Camacho in June before losing his next two against Gavin Tucker and Gabriel Benitez.

Smith is a powerful striker and his defeat to Worthy was interesting since they were training partners and he fought a weird fight. All ten of his wins have come via stoppage, with nine knockouts. Jaynes is a heavy handed striker too but his flaws have shown in his two most recent fights. He’s quite one dimensional and has a huge nine inch reach disadvantage and Jaynes literally never uses his wrestling base to score takedowns. In short, Smith picks up where he left off before the Worthy fight with a spectacular first round KO.
PICK – Devonte Smith via Knockout, Round 1

Mike Rodriguez (11-5) vs Danilo Marques (10-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

After a controversial defeat last time out, Rodriguez returns to take on Marques in the 205lbs division. Rodriguez seemingly won his last bout via a second round knockout, only for the referee to deem a body shot as a low blow, restart the fight and Rodriguez to get submitted by Ed Herman. Marques on the other hand has won three in a row, including his UFC debut against Khadis Ibragimov at UFC 253.

Marques has some decent wrestling behind him and was able to use those takedowns and to get his win over Ibragimov. The issue for Rodriguez is that he seems to get taken down far too easily by anyone, including striking specialist John Allan. Rodriguez has much superior striking to Marques but the takedowns are an issue. If he can stay on the feet, he will crack the fairly hittable Marques and could finish him early. But if Marques comes forward and implements the wrestling it could be a long night. I’m backing the power of Rodriguez though.
PICK – Mike Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 7: Munhoz vs Edgar – Prelims Predictions

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

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

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

PRELIMS

Timur Valiev (16-2) vs Mark Striegl (18-2-0 1NC) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

After VISA issues put a hold on Valiev’s debut against Jamal Emmers last month, he now drops down to his natural weight-class to take on fellow debutant in Mark Striegl. Valiev is an excellent striker on the feet and is very, very high volume. Striegl is a wrestler who has 14 submission wins on his record but on the feet he struggles massively. Valiev’s a good scrambler on the ground and good enough to avoid the takedown and then dominate on the feet with his style.
PICK – Timur Valiev via Unanimous Decision

Matt Semelsberger (6-2) vs Carlton Minus (10-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two strikers match up in this welterweight bout where both fighters make their UFC debuts. Carlton Minus’s only defeat was against ex-UFC contender Rick Story in a short notice bout, but prior to that he was dominant in his fights while winning the only fight since via unanimous decision this past February. Semelsberger is an aggressive brawler who’s record isn’t the most impressive but the power in his hands gives him an undeniable path to victory. Minus’ loss saw him be outwrestled and submitted, something that should not be a problem here. Semelsberger will look to close the distance with power punches and while Minus isn’t the most elusive, he should be able to see these punches coming and land counters to secure a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Carlton Minus via Unanimous Decision

Ike Villaneuva (16-10) vs Jordan Wright (10-0) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Ike Villaneuva returns to his natural weight class in this one after he was knocked out by Chase Sherman in his last bout at heavyweight. He was due to take on Jorge Gonzalez but injury means undefeated Jordan Wright steps in on less than a weeks notice. Wright was beaten on Dana Whites’ Contender Series in just 40 secs by Alexander Hernandez, but it was overturned to a no-contest and following that fight and an 18 month hiatus, Wright returned with a stunning second-round KO over jiu-jitsu specialist Gabriel Checco. Both guys will look to slug it out early and will believe their power is enough to put their opponent away, but Wright has a severe speed and athleticism advantage. If he can use that to get in quickly, land and step out he should be able to secure a knockout win.
PICK – Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1

Dwight Grant (10-2) vs Calen Born (7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Dwight Grant is a kung-fu fighter who isn’t fond on throwing volume with his hands despite possessing great power and skill. Born stepped into this fight on just two-days notice and has a good record for submissions with four of his seven wins coming via tap-out. I haven’t seen anything of Born in all honesty, but coming in on such short notice can’t be a good thing and with Grant’s power this is likely to be a short fight anyway. Grant is capable of staying on the feet for long enough to land some big blows and get the win.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 1

Austin Hubbard (12-4) vs Joe Solecki (9-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A contender for fight of the night as two all-rounders come back into the lightweight scene for this fight. Austin Hubbard fought just two months ago, securing the stoppage win over Max Roshkopf who quit on his stall between rounds after a beating in the second while Joe Solecki is currently on a four-fight win streak. Hubbard is someone who prefers to strike but is comfortable on the ground, while Solecki is the opposite with a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Solecki has enough about him to cause Hubbard trouble on the feet, much like Roshkopf did last time out but with a full camp he won’t be worried about his cardio coming into question. If he does get tired, he has the jiu-jitsu to fall back on and I think that will get him the decision win.
PICK – Joe Solecki via Unanimous Decision

Mizuki Inoue (14-5) vs Amanda Lemos (7-1-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The headline fight for the prelims sees Amanda Lemos looking for back-to-back wins in the UFC against Mizuki Inoue looking for the same. Inoue’s most recent defeat came in Invicta to Virna Jandiroba, who has taken the UFC by storm including a first-round submission win over Felice Herrig last weekend. Lemos isn’t an unknown by any means but she is definitely less well known than Inoue and that’s for good reason. Lemos has fought for just four minutes in the last three years following a USADA suspension and has now dropped from bantamweight down to strawweight. Inoue is as good a striker and has excellent submission skills, while Lemos has been known to struggle with her cardio in the past. The win in her last fight didn’t show whether she’d conquered those problems because it ended inside the opening round, but if she hasn’t then Inoue will take her into deep waters.
PICK – Mizuki Inoue via Unanimous Decision