Tag Archives: UFC Orlando

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). You can see our full pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims section of the card and then moving on to the prelims section of the card, we finish up with our main card picks now.


Eryk Anders (14-7) vs Kyle Daukaus (11-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Middleweight scrap opens up the main card and it’s a good’n. Anders has lost his last two in a row, getting submitted by Andre Muniz at UFC 269 before dropping a split decision to Jun Yong Park back in May. Daukaus on the other hand earned a first-round submission win over Jamie Pickett in his first fight of the year, but was KO’d by Roman Dolidze in June last time out.

Anders is a stout wrestler with great upper body strength and heavy hands, but he’s never quite been able to string it all together for a run at the top end of the division. Daukaus is in a pretty similar boat, although much earlier on in his UFC career, but he has a much better ground game when it comes to submissions as his nine submission wins and nickname “The D’Arce Knight” show you.

Usually this type of fight favours Anders, because he can avoid being on the bottom with his wrestling and uses his heavy hands to flatline people. But he hasn’t got a KO win in over three years and Daukaus has the wrestling ability to stuff his advances too. He’s far more active on the feet too so the volume should be a factor, and if he does manage to get this fight down he’ll have the edge, so I lean towards Daukaus in this one.
PICK – Kyle Daukaus via Decision

Jack Hermansson (23-7) vs Roman Dolidze (11-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another fun middleweight bout next, but this one came together on short notice. Hermansson is on a 3-3 run in his last six, alternating wins and losses in that time. He suffered a split decision loss to Sean Strickland in February, but claimed a decision win over Chris Curtis at UFC London last time out. Dolidze is replacing Derek Brunson on one weeks’ notice, on a three-fight win streak, beating Laureano Staropoli via decision before KO wins over Kyle Daukaus and Phil Hawes most recently in October.

Hermansson is a terrific grappler, with some of the best submissions and ground and pound in the entire division, but his stand up game has seen him struggle on occasion and a title shot continues to evade him at this point in his career. Dolidze is a stud grappler himself, but since dropping to middleweight he has looked far more powerful and has been a huge threat in the stand up too. Hermansson is a good boxer and his cardio has never, ever been tested, while Dolidze is a bit more wild and has had issues with his gas tank in the past.

Dolidze has the ability to go in there and land one of those power shots to close the show, but against someone as good as Hermansson it seems unlikely. The Swede is capable of winning this fight wherever it goes and having had a full camp, plus his advantage in the boxing with his jab, he should edge a competitive fight.
PICK – Jack Hermansson via Decision

Tai Tuivasa (15-4) vs Sergei Pavlovich (16-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Big time heavyweight bangers up next. Tai Tuivasa had won five-in-a-row by knockout against Stefan Struve (UFC 254), Harry Hunsucker (UFC Vegas 22), Greg Hardy (UFC 264), Augusto Sakai (UFC 269) and Derrick Lewis (UFC 271) before losing to Ciryl Gane at UFC Paris back in September in a thrilling fight. Pavlovich has won his last four in a row, KO’ing all of Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene, Shamil Abudrakhimov and Derrick Lewis.

Tuivasa is a straight up brawler with some decent leg kicks and other-worldly power in both hands, as well as hugely improved cardio that he showed in his last fight. Pavlovich is also a dangerous puncher with great combinations and nasty power, and at 6ft 3 he has a slight size edge here.

With that said, there isn’t much that separates these two. I went against both when they fought Lewis because I expected them to get flattened, and the opposite happened. Lewis is the best guy Pavlovich has fought, while we saw a lot of Tuivasa against Gane and he really impressed. It’s the level of competition that leads me this way, but I think Tuivasa gets it done in a war.
PICK – Tai Tuivasa via Knockout, Round 2



Matheus Nicolau (18-3-1) vs Matt Schnell (16-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Huge flyweight bout up next. Nicolau comes into this fight on a five-fight win streak, including 3-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Manel Kape (UFC Vegas 21), Tim Elliott and David Dvorak most recently. Schnell is 1-1 in his last two, losing to Brandon Royval via submission at UFC 274, before bouncing back with a submission win of his own against Sumudaerji in one of the comebacks of the year.

Nicolau is a super well-rounded threat and is destined to be in the title mix at some point in his career. His kickboxing is excellent, he has a solid wrestling game and five submission wins tell you all about his ground threat. Schnell is very similar, but far more aggressive which leaves him open to counters more but also more of a danger when it comes to securing a finish. Nicolau is unlikely to change his game for this fight, because overall he is the more polished MMA man.

With that said he will have to be careful. Schnell seems to be the more powerful guy on the feet and his submission threat is certainly more dangerous. If he tightens up defensively he could be a big problem, but based on what we’ve seen from them both it would be more of a surprise if Nicolau didn’t do enough everywhere to earn the nod from the judges.
PICK – Matheus Nicolau via Decision

Bryan Barbarena (18-8) vs Rafael Dos Anjos (31-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting welterweight bout up next between two unranked guys. Barbarena has won his last three, claiming decisions over Darian Weeks and Matt Brown, before earning a KO win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 276 most recently. Dos Anjos is returning after a stint back at lightweight, where he beat Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14) and Renato Moicano but most recently got stopped by Rafael Fiziev.

Barbaerna is a power puncher with great boxing and counter-punching skills, while he has a decent bit of wrestling in his back pocket too. Dos Anjos is no doubt one of the best, all-round MMA fighters there is in the UFC and it’s no surprise he was a champion at one point, but age is catching him up. His striking mixed in with excellent wrestling and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu makes him a true great in the sport.

This seems like a mismatch. Barbarena is riding a wave of momentum, but he doesn’t have any real notable wins on his record and any time he’s tried to step up to face someone better he’s been handily beaten. That’s going to happen again. Expect RDA to land clean a few times and then mix in his wrestling for a dominant 30-26 win on the cards.
PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision

Stephen Thompson (16-6-1) vs Kevin Holland (23-8) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A super intriguing welterweight bout up next between two ranked contenders. “Wonderboy” has lost each of his last two, being grappled heavily by Gilbert Burns (UFC 264) and Belal Muhammad. Holland was on a great run after moving to 170-pounds with wins over Alex Oliveira and Tim Means, before the chaos of UFC 279 saw him matched up with Khamzat Chimaev on less than 24 hours notice and run over in just over two minutes at a catchweight.

Thompson remains one of the best pure strikers in the company, with his awkward karate style and footwork allowing him to control the tempo of fight and do damage for long periods of time. Holland is a very explosive and powerful striker on the feet, but he is also an underrated grappler with great jiu-jitsu skills which could be a route to victory for him here. His preference is striking though, and it seems unlikely he will have an edge there.

If Holland wants to be successful he needs to be able to cut the cage off and land big shots, and mix in the threat of the takedown and grappling. If he can’t do that, Wonderboy will do what he’s always done and just pick him apart from the outside with little threat of anything coming back at him. Wonderboy is a super tempting underdog, but I really like Holland at 170 and think this could be his statement win.
PICK – Kevin Holland via Decision

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Darren Elkins (28-10) vs Jonathan Pearce (13-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very fun featherweight fight next between the past and potentially future of this division. Elkins has won three of his last four, losing to Cub Swanson and beating Tristan Connelly in his last two bouts. Pearce on the other hand has won his last four in a row with three finishes, beating Kai Kamaka III, Omar Morales (UFC 266), Christian Rodriguez and most recently Makwan Amirkhani at UFC London in July.

Elkins is a fighter with a bit of everything in his arsenal, but nothing to an outstanding level outside of his heart and durability. He pushes and pushes when others wouldn’t to grind out the win, using a rushing style and excellent cardio to his advantage. Pearce alternatively though is a sensational wrestler with a suffocating ground game as well as some technical standup on the feet, with a gas tank that seemingly never waivers.

Considering Elkins’ best chance of winning is turning this into a war of attrition, something that JSP thrives in, him winning this would be a miracle. Pearce should be able to overwhelm him everywhere and while he could get the finish to make a statement, I think Elkins should be able to survive that much at least.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Decision

Michael Johnson (21-18) vs Marc Diakiese (16-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight fight between two guys who have had solid UFC careers. Johnson snapped a four-fight losing streak when he KO’d Alan Patrick back in May, but he lose a split decision against Jamie Mullarkey back in July most recently. Diakiese on the other hand bounced back from defeats to Rafael Fiziev (UFC Fight Island 2) and Rafael Alves to beat Viacheslav Borshchev and Damir Hadzovic in his two most recent bouts.

Johnson is a solid boxer with legitimately scary power in his hands and a decent wrestling background too but he really struggles if he ends up on the bottom. Diakiese is an excellent, technical kickboxer on the feet but has always been willing to wrestle if he needs too, which may be his best route to victory here.

Diakiese will feel he has the edge wherever this fight goes and when his confidence is flowing he’s at his best. Johnson will know he likely needs to land one of those detonators to win this bout which could see him chase it, but eventually he’ll be on his back and Diakiese will cruise to the win.
PICK – Marc Diakiese via Decision

Clay Guida (37-19) vs Scott Holtzman (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Lightweight scrap up next. Guida is one of the legends of the sport but he’s struggled in recent outings, losing a decision to Mark O. Madsen, before a knee bar submission loss to Claudio Puelles most recently. He earned a submission win over Leonardo Santos between those fights at UFC Vegas 44. Holtzman has lost his last two outings, but both came against elite opposition in Beneil Dariush (UFC Vegas 6) and Mateusz Gamrot (UFC Vegas 23).

Guida is a wrestler. That’s it. He will rush forward with great energy and bounce and look to take you down or push you against the cage and take you down. As for Holtzman, he has struggled in the past against persistent takedown offences, but his striking game is excellent and his takedown defence isn’t horrible. Add to that Guida’s takedown accuracy leaves plenty to be desired, Holtzman has a great shot here.

Guida won’t get tired and will be relentless with his shots for the takedown, but Holtzman can light him up like a Christmas tree on the feet with his punches and nasty knees. I don’t anticipate a finish on either side, but I think Holtzman lands enough killer shots to catch the judge’s eyes and claim a close decision.
PICK – Scott Holtzman



Angela Hill (14-12) vs Emily Ducote (12-6) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Strawweights up next looking to break into the rankings. Hill has lost five of her last seven officially but there are some dodgy decisions involved. Last time out though it went her way, claiming a decision win over Lupita Godinez to snap a three-fight losing streak. Ducote on the other hand has won her last four in a row, including a decision win over Jessica Penne in her UFC debut back in July.

Hill is a Muay-Thai fighter with good striking and a relentless work rate, constantly scrambling on the mat and pushing forward when on the feet to get her opponent moving backwards. Ducote is a decent boxer on the feet with good combinations and footwork, and she’s also got some good wrestling in her back pocket too.

Ducote will know that if she’s at her best then she should have too much for Hill, but Hill’s specialty is making people not be able to perform at their best. That should see Ducote even more tuned in and more focused, and with a deeper toolbox to delve into over the course of 15 minutes she should get the win.
PICK – Emily Ducote via Decision

Niko Price (15-5) vs Phil Rowe (9-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute banger at welterweight as our featured prelim bout next. Price is 1-2-1 in his last four, losing to Vicente Luque and drawing with Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 11 (later overturned to a NC for cannabis), and losing to Michel Pereira (UFC 264). He bounced back with a big decision win over Alex Oliveira most recently though. Rowe recovered from defeat in his UFC debut at UFC 258 to Gabriel Green by knocking out Orion Cosce and Jason Witt in each of his last two bouts.

Price is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, constantly pushing forward to land heavy strikes and knock opponents out, while also being willing to eat a few shots to give them back. Rowe tends to start quite slowly, but has got incredible punching power and good combinations once he starts going, as well as some okay wrestling to fall back on.

The problem he faces is that while he starts slowly, Price rushes out of the gate and against someone who can finish you in an instant that is dangerous. Price will respect the power coming back at him so it may take a few minutes to really start flying, but expect Price to up the pressure early and land a few big shots to close the show before Rowe gets the chance to really wake up.
PICK – Niko Price via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Orlando: Thompson vs Holland – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for one of the most stacked Fight Night cards of the year when Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson takes on Kevin Holland in the main event.

A huge welterweight bout should see a new contender emerge for 2023 at the top of the division, with both guys looking to break into the top five soon.

This card also has the likes of former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, Tracy Cortez, Michael Johnson, Clay Guida, Niko Price and the super exciting Tai Tuivasa.

Last time at UFC Vegas 65 we went 8/11 with four perfect picks to move to 784/1213 (64.63%) with 324 perfect picks (41.33%). You can see our full pick history here.

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


Yazmin Jauregui (9-0) vs Istela Nunes (6-3) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A strawweight banger opens up the card in this one. Jauregui is an undefeated fighter, who won her UFC debut last time out back in August with a decision win over Iasmin Lucindo, while Nunes has lost three of her last four including her two UFC outings against Ariane Carnelossi and Sam Hughes.

Jauregui is a powerful striker with good wrestling in her back pocket and a fantastic set of lungs to make her a threat throughout 15 minutes. Nunes on the other hand is also a powerful striker, with great counters and skill but she has a habit of leaving herself open for counters and running out of steam as the fight goes on. That’s a problem against someone as dangerous and well-rounded as Jauregui.

Expect the Mexican to stand and trade early to see how she feels in the fight, but quickly switch to her wrestling if she gets caught. As the fight goes on she’ll be able to land more and take over in more dominant fashion, and I expect she’ll be the one to claim the decision win.
PICK – Yazmin Jauregui via Decision

Marcelo Rojo (16-9) vs Francis Marshall (6-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very exciting featherweight clash up next. Rojo has lost his two UFC outings after being stopped by Charles Jourdain at UFC Vegas 21 before suffering a submission loss to Kyler Phillips at UFC 271, but has proven to be exciting and capable of performing at this level thus far. Marshall makes his UFC debut having earned a contract on the Contender Series back in August.

Rojo is a very exciting striker with great power and tremendous cardio, allowing him to push forward and use his length well against all opposition. Marshall on the other hand is a wrestler with an excellent ground game, looking for submissions once he gets the fight to the mat. He’s also beginning to develop a decent stand up game too as he continues to improve. Rojo is a big threat, but his weakness is Marshall’s strength.

Marshall will wrestle, there’s no doubt and that will almost certainly stop Rojo kicking away at his leg as he likes to do. That could force Rojo backwards which makes the takedown easier, but if Rojo is brave and throws those kicks hard and effectively, it will open up more strikes on the feet to the head. Marshall is super talented but this isn’t an easy debut, and I get the feeling Rojo finally gets his UFC win with a big knockout after landing a sharp one-two down the middle.
PICK – Marcelo Rojo via Knockout, Round 2



Natan Levy (7-1) vs Genaro Valdez (10-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Fun lightweight scrap between two relative UFC newcomers next. Levy is 1-1 in the octagon after losing to Rafa Garcia in his debut via decision, but claimed a win over Mike Breeden most recently back in April. Valdez earned a UFC contract on the Contender Series in October 2021, but lost his UFC debut in January when he got stopped by Matt Frevola at UFC 270.

Levy is a fantastic wrestler with a nasty leg kicking game to boot, and a great gas tank that allows him to drag opponents into the deep waters if necessary. Valdez alternatively is a straight up brawler, who comes into bouts looking to kill or be killed and that doesn’t bode well for him here.

Expect Levy to stay at range and use those leg kicks, before shooting for the takedowns and dominating on the mat with control and damage. He may even be successful in finding a finish after lots of wearing on Valdez, but it would come later in the fight if at all in my opinion.
PICK – Natan Levy via Decision

Tracy Cortez (10-1) vs Amanda Ribas (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

An interesting flyweight scrap next. Cortez is on a ten-fight win streak, including a 4-0 run in the UFC with decision wins over Vanessa Melo, Stephanie Egger, Justine Kish and most recently Melissa Gatto. Ribas is 2-2 in her last four, alternating wins and losses against Paige VanZant (UFC 251), Marina Rodriguez (UFC 257), Virna Jandiroba (UFC 267) and Katlyn Chookagian most recently.

Cortez is a strong wrestler with dominant positional gains and some okay striking to open up those opportunities and a decent submission game from the mat. Ribas on the other hand likes to strike on the feet with her clinch game being strong, but her defence is poor. Her jiu-jitsu on the mat is excellent though, as her four submission wins show. This is all about who can take control of the octagon and force the other fighter backwards.

That leans me towards Cortez, because she’s the better wrestler by far and the one with the better gas tank. Ribas may think she can catch an armbar from the bottom and instead of working to get up stay there, but Cortez is very good defensively and with a mix of decent strikes, lots of takedowns and decent damage on the mat, she should do enough to get the decision win.
PICK – Tracy Cortez via Decision