The UFC heads to Utah for a huge welterweight showdown as Kamaru Usman defenders his 170-pound crown against Leon Edwards in the main event.
The two fight for a second time, with neither fighter suffering defeat since the first showing back in 2015 and are supported by an undercard including Paulo Costa, Luke Rockhold, Jose Aldo, Merab Dvalishvili, Alexandr Romanov, Miranda Maverick and more.
Last time out at UFC San Diego we went 8/13 with three perfect picks to move to 698/1082 (64.51%) with 295 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.
We’ll look to improve on that now and after starting with the early prelims, here are the rest of our prelims picks.
Miranda Maverick (12-4) vs Shanna Young (9-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs) A very intriguing women’s flyweight bout up next. Maverick suffered tough back-to-back defeats against Maycee Barber and then Erin Blanchfield (UFC 269) before finally getting back in the win column against Sabina Mazo via submission most recently. Young on the other hand lost to Macy Chiasson and then go KO’d by Stephanie Egger (UFC Vegas 13) before getting a win last time out against Gina Mazany back in April. Maverick is a really well-rounded fighter who excels in the grappling, with some solid wrestling and good striking too. Young is a striker who struggles for power, and has been taken down by every opponent she’s faced in the UFC who has attempted to take her down. This seems like a big setup for Maverick to garner some more momentum, because I can’t see how Young wins this. Maverick is bigger, stronger, more powerful and has the perfect skillset to become a real contender in this division. She’ll likely toy with Young on the feet to test herself before shooting for a takedown early and dominating, before eventually taking the back and sinking in a tight choke for the win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Submission, Round 2
Sean Woodson (9-1) vs Luis Saldana (16-7) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight scrap up next. Woodson has picked up consecutive wins in his last two fights, earning a decision over Youssef Zalal (UFC Vegas 28) before knocking out Collin Anglin at UFC Vegas 42 with nasty body shots. Saldana beat Jordan Griffin in his UFC debut back at UFC Vegas 23 and then suffered defeat to Austin Lingo, before a decision win over Bruno Souza last time out.
Woodson is a boxer, straight up. He’s a former professional who has got an incredible frame for the division at just under 6ft 3 with a 78 inch reach and tremendous boxing combinations. Saldana is a really well rounded fighter with his finishes split 8-6 with knockouts and submissions, but his cardio often lets him down big style.
That’s an issue here, especially considering Saldana likes to keep his hands low. Woodson will use his picture perfect jab to maintain the distance between the two and his takedown defence is good enough to avoid going to the mat. Expect Woodson to put on a striking clinic and earn another judges scorecard victory.
PICK – Sean Woodson via Decision
Leonardo Santos (18-6-1) vs Jared Gordon (18-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Lightweight scrap up next between two veterans of the sport. Santos was KO’d with one second remaining against Grant Dawson at UFC Vegas 22, before being submitted by Clay Guida at UFC Vegas 44 most recently. Gordon on the other hand also got beaten by Grant Dawson in his last fight, getting submitted in April.
Santos is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist with amazing submission skills making up 50% of his career wins to date. His striking is pretty awful but he does have a big one-punch swing, however his cardio means it all becomes pretty obsolete after about 6 minutes of fighting. Gordon is the opposite. He’s a solid striker on the feet with good takedown defence and some decent offensive wrestling too, while his chin has been known to be fragile recently. That said though, he weaponises his cardio so well that I expect this to get one-sided quickly.
Gordon should be able to see the big punch of Santos coming early enough to avoid it, and if he can survive any grappling attempts in the first round the fight becomes his to lose. Expect him to just completely wear Santos out with his pace before claiming a late finish with ground and pound to make the referee step in.
PICK – Jared Gordon via Knockout, Round 3
Marcin Tybura (22-7) vs Alexandr Romanov (16-0) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights collide up next in the featured prelim bout. Tybura had been on a five-fight win streak with wins over Sergei Spivak, Maxim Grishin (UFC 251), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Island 5), Greg Hardy (UFC Vegas 17) and Walt Harris (UFC Vegas 28), before defeat to Alexander Volkov most recently. Romanov is an undefeated fighter, whose impressive run of wins has seen him earn a step up in competition here.
Tybura is a solid fighter with some really good low kicks and good strikes, while his best style comes when he looks to wrestle his opponents and control them from the top position. Romanov is a Greko-Roman wrestler with an incredible power and ability to throw opponents, as well as excellent cardio to go for the whole fight. He has shown his ability to defend against submissions too, and that leads me to think he gets it done here.
He’s the more powerful guy in terms of the grappling and while Tybura is the slightly bigger guy right now, his best chance of victory comes exactly where Tybura will likely want the fight to be. Tybura is tough and I can’t imagine he gets finished here, but Romanov should be able to get the top position regularly in each round and claim a win on the judge’s scorecards.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Decision