Tag Archives: UFC 279

UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson – Main card predictions

The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event takes place this weekend at UFC 279 as Khamzat Chimaev battles Nate Diaz in the main event.

A five-round, non-title welterweight bout sees the undefeated fighter go up against the notoriously popular fighter whose record is bang average at best.

There is also a crazy welterweight fight between Li Jingliang and Tony Ferguson in the co-main event, while Kevin Holland and Daniel Rodriguez clash in a catchweight bout.

Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and then after picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card picks.


Johnny Walker (18-7) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-7-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

An absolute banger at 205-pounds here. Walker is a wild man with incredible one-punch knockout power, but he’s lost his last two against Thiago Santos (UFC Vegas 38) and Jamahal Hill most recently. Cutelaba is also a wild man, with just one win in his last five fights and a submission loss to Ryan Spann in his last bout.

Walker is a power puncher with unorthodox movement and good kicks, but he’s proven to be chinny in more recent bouts and must stay alert to keep this fight at range. Cutelaba on the other hand is a super aggressive fighter who has good knockout power and excellent wrestling, but has had huge issues with his cardio and balancing that all out. Cutelaba has all the tools to win this, but it won’t be easy.

If Cutelaba blitzes early with takedown attempts and blasts him out of there it wouldn’t be a surprise at all. There’s also the opposite scenario that is possible too, with Walker definitely able to KO Cutelaba too. That said, “The Hulk” is most likely to be successful. He has different looks to make Walker think and his aggression should be enough to force Walker backwards, and I think he’ll claim the win.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 2

Irene Aldana (13-6) vs Macy Chiasson (9-2) – (Catchweight/140lbs)

A fun bantamweight fight up next between these two ladies. Aldana has won three of her last four with a defeat to Holly Holm the only flaw, to which she rebounded from with a KO win over Yana Kunitskaya at UFC 264. Chiasson bounced back from a submission defeat to Raquel Pennington at UFC Vegas 45 with a big win over Norma Dumont at UFC 274 most recently.

Aldana is a solid boxer with great combinations and power in a division that lacks big hitters, while her takedown defence has shown great improvements too in recent fights. Chiasson is a Muay Thai fighter who likes to clinch with her opponents, while also using her range to flick out her jab and land low kicks. Both women’s ideal strategy fits right into the other’s and that makes this an excellent fight.

Chiasson could have trouble with the weight cut after even missing weight at featherweight last time out. Aldana is the better boxer and can use her jab to make Chiasson work, while threatening with that big left hook that is cash money when it lands. With that said, the Mexican should have enough to claim the win and potentially set herself up for a title shot in the near future.
PICK – Irene Aldana via Decision

Li Jingliang (19-7) vs Daniel Rodriguez (16-2) – (Catchweight/180lbs)

An excellent fight at a catchweight after being put together on short notice here. Jingliang comes into this fight after being dominated and humiliated by Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 267, before bouncing back with a brilliant KO win over Muslim Salikhov in July. Rodriguez on the other hand has won his last three, earning decisions against Mike Perry (UFC Vegas 23) and Kevin Lee while knocking out Steven Parsons too.

Jingliang is a power puncher, pure and simple. His speed and combinations are solid and his takedown defence has usually been pretty good, barring the Chimaev fight. Rodriguez alternatively is a super boxer with impressive technique and power, while his wrestling chops are solid too to make the opposition at least think about the potential threat. This is most likely to be a big striking affair, and the size of Rodriguez is likely to be key.

“The Leech” was preparing to fight someone smaller than him, with a great ground game but he’s now facing someone who weighed in ten-pounds heavier and is a pure striker. His power probably won’t be as effective now, and Rodriguez has the size to use his jab and potentially claim a late finish on this short notice fight.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision



Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) vs Kevin Holland (23-7) – (Catchweight/180lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night here. Chimaev is 11-0 after ripping through the UFC, finishing John Phillips (UFC Fight Island 1), Rhys McKee (UFC Fight Island 3), Gerald Meerschaert (UFC Vegas 11) and Li Jingliang (UFC 267) before a fight of the year contender against Gilbert Burns (UFC 273). Holland has won his last two, knocking out Alex Oliveira at UFC 272 before claiming a submission win over Tim Means most recently.

Chimaev is one of the most dominant figures we’ve seen in MMA in a long time, with incredible wrestling and grappling skills as well as an insane chin to go with his crisp striking and powerful punches. Holland is a brilliant kickboxer with superb power and speed, while his takedown defence has improved greatly over the last 18 months and his jiu-jitsu has proven itself worthy. These two have genuine beef so this likely won’t last long.

The fact that Chimaev missed weight so badly would normally be a big issue, but he’s now fighting at a different weight against someone his size and didn’t need to cut much. Mix that in with his dominant wrestling, which Holland has struggled with badly in the past, expect Chimaev to dominate on the ground and take a late finish.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Knockout, Round 4

Nate Diaz (21-13) vs Tony Ferguson (25-7)- (Welterweight/170lbs)

Diaz has fought three times since 2016, beating Anthony Pettis before getting smashed by Jorge Masvidal and Leon Edwards most recently (UFC 263). Tony Ferguson has lost his last four in a row, getting dominated by Justin Gaethje, Charles Oliveira (UFC 256), Beneil Darisuh (UFC 262) and then getting toe-punted into a new galaxy by Michael Chandler at UFC 274. He moves up to welterweight for the first time since winning TUF in 2011.

Diaz is a fan favourite who has got world class jiu-jitsu and decent boxing, but it’s his cardio and heart that are mentioned most when discussing Diaz. This fight realistically has no business being made, because there is a huge gulf in class between these two fighters right now. Ferguson is a bit of a crazy fighter, with relentless pressure being coupled with incredibly heavy hands, insane cardio and world class jiu-jitsu on the mat. This fight is absolutely wild and the fact that Ferguson is moving up in weight is incredibly interesting and exciting.

Ferguson has the power advantage, will feel as though he can more than hold his own on the ground and should be strong enough physically to control this fight. But the fact he was training for three rounds rather than five could go against him. Diaz will look to drag this out into the later rounds, but ultimately I think Ferguson will have too much pressure for him early on to be able to claim a big win in a far more competitive fight than what was originally planned for either guy.
PICK – Tony Ferguson via Decision

UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson – Prelims predictions

The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event got even weirder on the day of weigh-ins, as the top three fights of the card all got switched.

Initially supposed to be Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz in the main event, “Borz” missed weight by over 7lbs which sparked mega changes.

It will now be Nate Diaz fighting Tony Ferguson in the main event, a five-round welterweight bout, while Chimaev will now fight Kevin Holland at a 180lbs catchweight.

Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight, who was originally supposed to fight Kevin Holland. Crazy.

Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims here.


Jake Collier (13-7) vs Chris Barnett (22-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
*Chris Barnett missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

Two heavyweight strikers up next. Collier has alternated wins and losses since 2014, with his most recent fight seeing him drop a split decision to Andrei Arlovski. Barnett earned a stunning spinning wheel kick KO against Gian Villante at UFC 268, before getting beaten by Martin Buday in his most recent bout.

Collier is a good boxer with good hand speed and some decent low kicks, while his movement comes from his previous career as a middleweight once upon a time. “Huggy Boy” is a powerhouse who likes to use unorthodox attacks to catch his opponents out, but ultimately he finds himself at a big disadvantage in this one.

“The Prototype” is the better striker with better movement and he’s also got good wrestling which he has shown in recent fights to be able to take the fight down to the mat if necessary. So long as he avoids the crazy strikes from Barnett and keeps the fight in his own wheelhouse, this should be a comfortable win on the scorecards for Collier.
PICK – Jake Collier via Decision

Denis Tiuliulin (10-6) vs Jamie Pickett (13-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight scrap is due up next. Tiuliulin was submitted in his UFC debut against Aliaskhab Khizriev back in March, while Pickett saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he lost to Kyle Daukaus via submission in February.

Tiuliulin is a powerful striker with great technique and decision making that means he fights the same way no matter who his opponent is. Pickett is a striker too who likes to keep his range and use his kicks too, and where he misses out on technique he makes up for in volume. Pickett also has good wrestling, but he’s not really known as a killer in this division.

Pickett’s best path to victory is undoubtedly by mixing in his wrestling and staying at range. Tiuliulin will come forward and look to avoid that, and if he lands flush then he should be able to finish Pickett. It’s going to be close, but I’m going to back the one-punch knockout power of Tiuliulin because he’ll be the guy coming forward and dictating the pace.
PICK – Denis Tiuliulin via Knockout, Round 1



Jailton Almeida (16-2) vs Anton Turkalj (8-0) – (Catchweight/220lbs)

A short notice scrap up next. Almeida is on an 11 fight win streak including first round finishes in both of his UFC bouts, beating Danilo Marques and Parker Porter. Turkalj steps in on ten days’ notice, as an undefeated fighter with a win on the Contender Series back in July.

Almeida is a terrifying prospect at 31-years-old. He is a powerhouse of a puncher, but it’s his grappling game that makes him a real threat to his opponents, with ten submission wins in his career. Turkalj will no doubt want to stand and strike because of that, but his boxing isn’t the best and his head movement is basically non existent.

This fight will last as long as “Malhadinho” wants it to basically. Turkalj usually wants to wrestle but with the submission threat he’ll want to stand and that gives Almeida the chance to take his head off. If that isn’t working out, he’ll shoot and end up in top position and Almeida will surely be able to find his neck relatively quickly to claim a dominant victory and set Almeida up for a highlight reel win.
PICK – Jailton Almeida via Submission, Round 2

Hakeem Dawodu (13-2-1) vs Julian Erosa (27-10) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
*Hakeem Dawodu missed weight, fight will proceed as a catchweight bout.

A very fun featherweight scrap is the featured prelim of the night. Dawodu has won six of his last seven fights, with Movsar Evloev earning a decision win at UFC 263 before Dawodu bounced back with a decision win over Mike Trizano. Erosa on the other hand has won his last two, submitting Charles Jourdain before a split decision win over Steven Peterson.

Dawodu is a superb Muay Thai fighter who has got great power, good takedown defence and excellent cardio which should see him have the advantage in this match up. Erosa is a super submission artist with a big right hand, but if he can’t get the fight to the ground he tends to struggle to get wins. Getting Dawodu down to the mat will be hard enough, but holding him down there will be even harder because he’s a super scrambler.

“Juicy J” could potentially land one of his big right hands and then step onto a submission, but that’s a very slim hope. Dawodu is far more likely to tee off with body kicks, leg kicks and punching combinations while keeping himself at range to avoid the takedown. A combination of those things could see him earn a stoppage, but a decision win is more likely to see him get another win.
PICK – Hakeem Dawodu via Decision

UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson – Early prelims predictions

The weirdest UFC pay-per-view event got even weirder on the day of weigh-ins, as the top three fights of the card all got switched.

Initially supposed to be Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz in the main event, “Borz” missed weight by over 7lbs which sparked mega changes.

It will now be Nate Diaz fighting Tony Ferguson in the main event, a five-round welterweight bout, while Chimaev will now fight Kevin Holland at a 180lbs catchweight.

Ferguson’s original opponent Li Jingliang will now fight Daniel Rodriguez at a catchweight, who was originally supposed to fight Kevin Holland. Crazy.

Last time out at UFC Paris we went 10/12 with four perfect picks for the night to move to 715/1106 (64.65%) with 302 perfect picks (42.24%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.


Darian Weeks (5-2) vs Yohan Lainesse (8-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Two guys yet to taste victory in the UFC open up the card. Darian Weeks has lost his last two, dropping decisions to Bryan Barbarena (UFC Vegas 44) and Ian Garry (UFC 273) while Lainesse was KO’d by Gabriel Green back in April in his debut.

Weeks is an all-rounder but doesn’t have any standout attributes really with decent wrestling and okay striking, but no real submission threat and little KO power. Lainesse is of a similar ilk in style, but he has got far more power in his hands as his six career KO wins show. Weeks’ wrestling wasn’t enough to contain Barbarena and on the feet against Garry he struggled. Lainesse should dominate the first round, but his cardio may then drop off a cliff.

If it does then Weeks will be confident of being able to take over down the stretch and earn a win. If he’s fixed that, Lainesse should cruise to a victory landing the more eye-catching shots and mixing in takedowns too. Ultimately if the cardio does fade, I expect it will be late enough that he’s already done enough to win on the scorecards.
PICK – Yohan Lainesse via Decision

Melissa Martinez (7-0) vs Elise Reed (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A fun strawweight scrap up next. Martinez makes her UFC debut as an undefeated fighter with five knockouts from seven career wins, while Reed is 1-2 in the UFC with a win over Cory McKenna sandwiched between losses against Sijara Eubanks and most recently Sam Hughes. This will be Martinez’ first MMA fight since December 2019.

Martinez is a pure striker and has been training that skill over recent years as she went full-time kickboxer, but her grappling was already pretty weak before that break. Reed is a striker with poor wrestling, who also sees herself as a bit of a kickboxer. If she tries to make it a striking battle though, she could be in trouble.

Reed isn’t a good enough wrestler to be able to take it to the ground at will and throw Martinez off her game, and the power difference is in the Mexican’s favour. If her cardio holds up and her grappling hasn’t got any worse, then she should be able to claim the victory.
PICK – Melissa Martinez via Decision



Chad Anheliger (12-5) vs Alatengheili (15-8-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Bantamweight banger up next. Anheliger was 2-5 at one point in his career but comes into this on a seven-fight win streak with a KO win over Jesse Strader in his UFC debut last time out. Heili is 1-1-1 in his last three, losing to Casey Kenny, drawing with Gustavo Lopez and then finally earning a KO win over Kevin Croom in just 47 seconds.

Anhelinger is a powerful striker whose defensive wrestling has been a disaster since arriving in the UFC, while Heili is a strong wrestler who also has great knockout power and this fight seems like one that is heavily in his favour.

He’s powerful and fast, plus his wrestling is more than good enough to dictate where this fight ends up. He should dominate the position and absolutely control this fight for the full 15 minutes, and could even earn finish from top position in the latter rounds.
PICK – Alatengheili via Decision

Norma Dumont (7-2) vs Danyelle Wolf (1-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An interesting featherweight scrap here. Dumont is arguably the only natural 145-pounder in the UFC right now, but she was beaten by Macy Chiasson last time out at UFC 274 to see a three-fight win streak snapped. Wolf is 1-0 professionally after being an excellent amateur boxer, earning her spot on the roster with a controversial win on the Contender Series.

Dumont is a very powerful striker with good boxing combinations, but she also has decent Brazilian jiu-jitsu and good wrestling skill too. Wolf is a top boxer with a very good jab and a nice right cross, but her grappling game was non-existent in her only pro fight and her improvements are likely to be limited by the fact she’s 38-years-old.

It would be a real surprise if Dumont doesn’t completely dominate Wolfe in this fight. She’s capable of holding her own in the striking realm but if it starts to get a bit sticky she can switch to a grappling game plan and will have her way with Wolf. It’s a baptism of fire for her, and Dumont should get back in the win column with relative ease.
PICK – Norma Dumont via Submission, Round 1