Tag Archives: Valentina Shevchenko

UFC 275: Teixeira vs Prochazka – Main card predictions

The UFC heads to Singapore for only the fifth time ever for UFC 275 this weekend as we’re treated to two huge title fights in the main events.

Glover Teixeira will defend the light heavyweight title for the first time when he takes on Jiri Prochazka in the headline fight, while Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title for the seventh time against first-time challenger Taila Santos.

We’ll also see the hotly anticipated rematch between Weili Zhang and Joanna Jedrzejczyk as well as the likes of Manel Kape, Brendan Allen and Andre Fialho competing too.

We come into this card after a small break from picks. We sit at 634/987 (64.24%) with 272 perfect picks (42.9%) and you can see our total picks list here.

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


Jack Della Maddalena (11-2) vs Ramazan Emeev (20-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A really, really fun 170-pound scrap to open up this main card. Maddalena lost his first two professional fights but has gone unbeaten ever since, KO’ing Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut at UFC 270 earlier this year. Emeev on the other hand is a decision machine, but was on the wrong end of a split decision against Danny Roberts last time out back in October.

Maddalena is a striking expert with a switch stance that allows him to throw power from both sides and with his hands and kicks. Emeev on the hand is a typical Dagestani fighter, with wrestling primarily and a strength that means he can hold people down and bore them into defeat. It’s a complete clash of styles and fans will be hopeful that Maddalena wins, because it means excitement.

Emeev will undoubtedly look for takedowns and use his heavy top pressure to keep the fight there for as long as possible, but he does very little damage while in that position. Maddalena will want to land heavy while standing but will know he’s still in the fight so long as the clock is ticking. Emeev’s takedown entries get worse as the fight wears on and by the time the third comes around he’s shattered, and Maddalena is the type to be able to punish him with just one opportunity.
PICK – Jack Della Maddalena via Knockout, Round 3

Rogerio Bontorin (16-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Very exciting flyweight bout on the main card heading towards the top of the rankings. Bontorin has lost three of his last four, with one no contest in the middle of that, to be winless since way back in 2019. Kape suffered defeat in his first two UFC fights due to a lack of volume, but earned a highlight reel KO over Ode Osbourne at UFC 265 before a brilliant KO over Zhalgas Zhumagulov most recently at UFC Vegas 44.

Bontorin is a well-rounded fighter who has solid striking and great wrestling to use his solid submission game which has earned him 11 wins via tap out throughout his career. Kape on the other hand is an explosive striker who uses low kicks and movement before exploding with blitzes of strikes to hurt his opponents. His wrestling defence hasn’t been great in the UFC but in a fight that could be chaotic, it could really suit him.

Kape will want to get into exchanges to use his amazing hand speed and land first, but Bontorin will be aware of that and will look to get in close and grapple. Kape is a great scrambler though and their recent fights show Kape is adjusting well while Bontorin is struggling. Expect a close fight, but Kape to land the more eye-catching shots to earn the decision.
PICK – Manel Kape via Decision

Andre Fialho (16-4) vs Jake Matthews (17-5) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute banger at welterweight in this one. Fialho appears on his third card in three months after KO wins over Miguel Baeza and then Cameron VanCamp, while Matthews makes his first appearance in 15 months after suffering defeat to Sean Brady at UFC 259 in his most recent bout.

Fialho is a terrific boxer who uses great power and positioning to outstrike opponents and while he has good grappling defence, he tends to try and keep fights standing. Matthews on the other hand looks to take his opponents down and implement his fearsome top game with relentless pressure and good wrestling. This one boils down to who wins the battle of where the fight will take place, and usually I’d back the wrestler.

But the Portuguese fighter showed against Stefan Sekulic that he is more than capable of defending himself in those positions and he has a nasty set of hooks that could catch Matthews out if he drops his hands for a takedown. Momentum is a big thing in fighting, so I’m leaning towards the power of Fialho to claim the win.
PICK – Andre Fialho via Knockout, Round 2



Zhang Weili (21-3) vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The greatest fight in women’s MMA history gets a rematch. Zhang Weili earned a win over Jedrzejczyk in their first bout back at UFC 248, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Rose Namajunas at UFC 261 and UFC 268 most recently while Joanna hasn’t fought since their first fight.

Weili is an incredibly well-rounded fighter with tremendous power in her hands, great speed and some great wrestling too to be able to mix it up. Jedrzejczyk on the other hand is one of the finest kickboxers in WMMA history who has got very good wrestling defence too. The first fight was splitting hairs to decide a winner but I don’t expect this second bout to be as close.

Jedrzejczyk has been away for over two years enjoying the fruits of her labour, while Weili has been learning from defeats and getting better. She has the hands and striking to be able to stand with Joanna if needs be, but I expect her to be more wrestling heavy this time around and even get a finish to earn the next title shot.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 2

Valentina Shevchenko (22-3) vs Taila Santos (19-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

‘Bullet’ Valentina wants to make a statement but there is a Brazilian who wants to spoil the party. Shevchenko is on an eight-fight win streak and looking to defend her title for the 7th time, after a KO win over Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 most recently. Santos lost her UFC debut but has won her last four in a row, picking up a dominant submission win over Joanne Wood last time out.

Shevchenko may be the most complete MMA fighter in the world, male or female, with amazing grappling combined with next level striking skills and knockout power. Santos however has shown a tremendously complete game herself with vicious knockout power, good wrestling skills and some jiu-jitsu also. Stylistically these two are very similar, but from what we’ve seen of them both Shevchenko is simply a level or two above everyone in her weight class.

Santos has made it clear that she plans to grapple her way to victory and Jennifer Maia showed there is a path there, but this is a huge step up in competition. Shevchenko tends to dictate the tempo of fights and as good as I believe Santos is, it’s nigh on impossible to pick against Shevchenko. I think it’ll be tougher than some of her more recent defences though, and I think it goes the distance.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Decision

Glover Teixeira (33-7) vs Jiri Prochazka (28-3-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Light heavyweight needs a big boost and this title fight could be exactly what the division needs as the championship is on the line. Teixeira is on a six-fight win streak and fights for the first time since submitting Jan Blachowicz to win the belt at UFC 267, while Prochazka makes his third UFC appearance after separating both Volkan Oezdemir (UFC 251) and Dominick Reyes (UFC Vegas 25) from their consciousness in his first two.

The champ is a brilliant boxer who uses great combinations to open up the chance for takedowns, where he can use his incredible jiu-jitsu skills and dominate the fight on the ground. Prochazka on the other hand is a violent striker who is every bit a sibling of the Terminator, walking through shots to inflict damage and having crazy show-stopping power. He has notoriously struggled against takedown artists in his career though, and that could be a problem.

However, despite that, Teixeira is 42-years-old and a lot of his most recent wins have come after being hurt by heavy-handed punchers. Prochazka will know that every fight starts standing and will force Teixeira backwards to try and shunt any takedown threat. If he gets taken down it will be a huge problem, but I expect him to slump the champ before that happens and claim a violent finish to become champion.
PICK – Jiri Prochazka via Knockout, Round 2

Major UFC fights announced for coming months

The UFC have been busy planning some big fights for the coming weeks and months.

Title fights, fight night main events, contender bouts, rumoured scraps in the pipeline and more have all been mentioned over recent weeks so here’s the big round-up for everyone that needs it.

Starting with April’s pay-per-view opener, we’ll list off all the fights that have been officially announced or rumoured for cards going through the summer so far.



UFC 273 takes place on April 9th after a two-week break in action with a big title-fight double header.

Already announced is the headliner between Alexander Volkanovski v Korean Zombie for the featherweight title, while Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan will finally meet in their rematch for the bantamweight title.

But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.

The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.

Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.

We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.

The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.

Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.

We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.

Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.

It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.

Who will be a female UFC Champion at the end of 2022?

The UFC will see it’s first two title fights of 2022 this weekend at UFC 270 and while the women won’t be involved, it’s a huge year for them too.

Last year we saw two of the four belts change hands, with Rose Namajunas claiming the strawweight belt for a second time with a head-kick KO win over Weili Zhang at UFC 261, while Julianna Pena shocked the world at UFC 269 when she submitted Amanda Nunes.

During our picks for 2021 we predicted no changes, so obviously only got a 50% hit rate. Can we do better for 2022?



Strawweight (115lbs) – Rose Namajunas

‘Thug’ Rose made waves in 2021, returning to champion status with a win over Zhang and then winning their rematch at UFC 268 a few months later too.

With two wins over Zhang and already holding two wins over Joana Jedrzejczyzk from her previous title reign, that’s the other elite talents in the division dealt with.

Carla Esparza, who beat Namajunas in the TUF finale to win the inaugral belt for this division, is confirmed as her next challenger and if she can navigate that fight as expected then she is set for a long and successful reign as champion.

I think that carries over into 2023 and she claims G.O.A.T status among the strawweights.

Rose Namajunas reacts against Zhang Weili in their strawweight title bout during the UFC 268 event at Madison Square Garden on November 06, 2021 in...

Flyweight (125lbs) – Valentina Shevchenko

The pound-for-pound best female fighter on the planet, Valentina Shevchenko first won the belt in 2018 and she hasn’t looked back since.

She went 2-0 in 2021 with stoppage wins over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261 before another KO win over Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 to continue her dominant run as the queen of 125lbs.

There’s nobody close to her level at her weight class, so barring a crazy shock she will hold that belt until she retires probably.

Bantamweight (135lbs) – Amanda Nunes

The greatest female fighter of all-time saw her 12-fight winning streak snapped at UFC 269 at the end of the year by Julianna Pena but the world is ready for a rematch.

While Pena will likely be taken far more seriously by the fans in the build-up to that bout, it also means that she will likely be taken more seriously by the ‘Lioness’ and that screams ‘and new!’.

Nunes gets her win back at some point in the summer, then sees out the year as the champion yet again. Normality is restored in the women’s MMA world.

Amanda Nunes of Brazil and Julianna Pena meet during their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas,...

Featherweight (145lbs) – Discontinued

A interesting one, but I can’t see how the featherweight division survives another calendar year.

Nunes has been the champion since knocking out Cris ‘Cyborg’ back in 2018 and has defended the belt successfully twice since then. But there are no contenders and the division barely exists.

Felicia Spencer was the obvious choice to challenge, but she had already lost to Nunes and has now retired from the sport. Kayla Harrison could come into the UFC for a mega fight, but the division would have the same problems and I think it gets shut down by the end of 2022.

UFC Vegas 43: Vieira, Brady and Santos make their case for title contention

It may not have been the most eventful card in UFC history, but UFC Vegas 43 will go down as a very important one in the future of three divisions in particular heading into 2022.

The card was headlined by women’s bantamweight contenders Ketlen Vieira and Miesha Tate, who both knew that a victory would set them on the path for a potential title shot against Amanda Nunes should she be able to defeat Julianna Pena at UFC 269.

It was a close fight that brought out the best of both women, but ultimately it was the younger and more active fighter in recent times that picked up the win.



Tate came out and seemed to create big distance between them, trying to jump in with blitzes but staying away from the punching power of Vieira.

The Brazilian seemed hesitant for much of the fight, fighting on the back foot but countering with a right cross well throughout and jabbing well too.

Tate’s attempts to grapple were stifled and ultimately the striking of Vieira busted Tate up enough that by the final buzzer, her left eye was completely swollen shut and her nose leaking blood.

Ketlen Vieira of Brazil punches Miesha Tate in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas,...

The 48-47 x2, 49-46 scorecards were just and fair, and now opens up the chance for Vieira to move towards a top-five fight or even an immediate title shot if the UFC deem it fair.

In the co-main event was a brilliant match-up between two grapple heavy fighters in Michael Chiesa and the undefeated Sean Brady.

Chiesa did better on the feet than expected, using his long range to land his left hand well but Brady was the first man I can recall that was able to control Chiesa on the ground for large periods, landing a career-high five takedowns en route to a victory.

Brady used his great strength and jiu-jitsu black belt to control Chiesa and claim the first and third rounds, while the judges scored the middle round for ‘Maverick’.

Sean Brady takes down Michael Chiesa in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With the welterweight division currently being cleaned out by Kamaru Usman, who was in the Apex to watch the fight, Brady will likely enter the rankings at number 6 now following the win and will be pushing for a top five fight in early 2022 to push for a title shot.

At women’s flyweight, Taila Santos proved herself as a legit contender too by securing the only finish of the night when she choked out Joanne Wood in the first-round of their bout.

Santos was ranked at number ten before the fight with number five ranked Wood, but she immediately took control of the fight and dropped Wood with a big hook. She pounced for a finish, before eventually sinking in a choke that forced the tap.

That moves her to 19-1, with her only defeat coming via split decision in her UFC debut and as she moves towards the top five now a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko seems very plausible.

Santos has excellent wrestling, good jiu-jitsu skills, good size for the division and powerful striking so could genuinely become a real threat at 125lbs and she could prove herself to be the perfect contender to the most dominant champion in the company right now.

UFC Vegas 43 was largely forgettable despite the depth of the card, but for three divisions it could prove to be the starting point of a few contenders’ run to title contention.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Main card predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight at the top end of the women’s flyweight division opens up the main card here. Andrade is coming off the back of her nasty defeat against champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, while Calvillo also lost her last fight against Kaitlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 last time out.

Andrade is a powerful wrestler who slams almost all her opponents at some point, and also has good striking to work her way inside too. Calvillo is a good wrestler in her own right, with some decent striking but plenty of control in the top position. Andrade seems to have found her best weight class now as has Calvillo and this is the type of fight that would usually determine a title contender.

Andrade has shown some cardio issues in the past, while Calvillo has gone a full five rounds before and still looked fresh. Her issues against Chookagian were more distance related than anything else and she won’t have those problems against the 5ft 1 Andrade. Andrade however is the more powerful fighter and when it comes to grappling I think she has the advantage too so I expect her to claim the win.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Decision
BETTING TIP – Fight to go the distance @ 5/6 (Bet365)

Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A huge heavyweight contender fight between two guys looking to work their way towards title contention. Blaydes was on a tear until he ran into Derrick Lewis and got flattened at UFC Vegas 19, while Rozenstruik bounced back from a beating by Ciryl Gane to earn a KO win over Augusto Sakai last time out at UFC Vegas 28.

Blaydes’ style is the same in every fight and your chances of winning against him stand on whether or not you can stop his takedowns. He shoots in with power, holds you down in position and rains down huge elbows until you can’t take it anymore. Rozenstruik on the other hand is a kickboxer with legitimate one-punch power, just like Lewis had. Rozenstruik’s wrestling defence isn’t the best, but he can learn a lot from Blaydes’ last fight of how to defend the takedowns with his striking.

It comes down to whether or not Blaydes can land the takedown without having his lights turned out again, and I think he’ll correct his issues and blast double-leg his way to a unanimous decision win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision
BETTING TIP – Blaydes via Decision @ 11/5 (Bet365)

Nick Diaz (26-9) vs Robbie Lawler (28-15) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the most anticipated fight on the card as Diaz makes his return after six years away to take on old rival ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler. These two met all the way back in 2004, with Diaz earning a KO win in the second round. Lawler is on a big decline right now, losing each of his last four fights with the most recent coming against Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 8.

Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with brilliant boxing and one of the deepest gas tanks in MMA, while Lawler is a powerful wrestler with a solid overhand left that can put people to sleep. This is an incredibly tough fight to call because we have no idea what Diaz has been up to in the gym for the last six years. We don’t know how he’ll react in the cage after so long away or how he’ll look in action.

The fans will be behind him, because they always are, and he has a knockout win against Lawler on his CV already. On the ground we know how talented he is, but Lawler has been far more active since and has the wrestling edge. It’s due to be a wild fight and it’s a guess either way, but I have to go with Diaz to make the perfect return.
PICK – Nick Diaz via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs Lauren Murphy (15-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The first title fight of the night sees the ever-dominant Shevchenko take on the veteran Murphy in the co-main event. ‘Bullet’ has won seven in a row, with her only UFC defeats coming in razor close decisions to Amanda Nunes. Her last fight was a violent KO over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. Murphy on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with her most recent win coming against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

Shevchenko is an entirely complete MMA fighter with stunning striking, grappling and submission skills to go with excellent defence and a second-to-none fight IQ. Murphy is a boxer by trade with some good kickboxing skills too and some good clinch work with good grappling skills on the ground where necessary. Unfortunately for her, she’s just not on the same level as Shevchenko.

No matter where this fight goes, Shevchenko wins. It’s that simple. Unless something absolutely crazy happens, Shevchenko can pretty much pick how she wins this fight and I think she’ll use her striking to come out on top this time.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs Brian Ortega (15-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

When the main event has the potential to be the fight of the night, you know it’s a good one. The featherweight title is on the line as Volkanovski looks to make it 20 wins in a row and 10-0 in the UFC, after wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway twice in his most recent bouts. Ortega took two years out after losing to Holloway and returned with a stunning performance against Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn his title shot.

Volkanovski is a brilliant all-rounder, with powerful strikes in his hands and some top-tier wrestling to allow him to decide where the fight goes. Ortega is a submission specialist with other-worldly jiu-jitsu skills but the performance against TKZ showed that he has upped his striking to a whole new level too. His jab is sharp, he has good combinations and mixes in takedowns well too. Volkanovski will have to deal with that striking threat in a different way to how he did with Holloway, because the ground is Ortega’s world.

Overall, this is a super close fight and I won’t be surprised by whoever wins this fight. Ultimately though, I back Volkanovski to retain his title. He is able to mix it up well and his game-planning has been great in the past. He has the more well-rounded skillset for me and I think he’s physically stronger, so he’ll claim the close win.
PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Decision

UFC 266: Two title fights and major return announced for September

The UFC have announced three huge fights for UFC 266 in September, including two huge title fights and the return of Nick Diaz.

Diaz, the older brother of fan favourite Nate, hasn’t fought since January 2015 when he took on the legendary Anderson Silva in the main event at UFC 183 in the Brazilian’s first fight back after breaking his leg against Chris Weidman.

We will also see Alexander Volkanovski finally defend his UFC featherweight title against Brian Ortega after their initial bout was cancelled in March when the champion tested positive for COVID-19 the week before the fight. Valentina Shevchenko will also defend her flyweight title, taking on Lauren Murphy in the co-main event.

Diaz’s fight against Silva initially ended with the former middleweight champion earning a decision win, but both men tested positive after the fight and were hit with USADA bans with the result overturned to a no contest.

Diaz was initially banned for five years for marijuana use, but upon appeal saw that reduce to 18 months. He has also served suspensions in that time for unpaid fines to the Nevada State Athletic Commission as well as for failure to report his whereabouts.

He and Lawler fought back at UFC 47 back in 2004, with Diaz winning via second round knockout. Lawler went on to become the reigning welterweight champion during his UFC career but is currently on a four-fight losing streak after defeats to Rafael Dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and most recently Neil Magny.

The fight will not be a main event but will be five rounds, just like his brother Nate’s bout against Leon Edwards at UFC 263 last month.

In the main event, Volkanovski looks to continue his unbeaten run in the UFC when he takes on ‘T-City’ Ortega in a featherweight title fight.

Once their March bout collapsed, both fighters agreed to take part in the new season of The Ultimate Fighter as coaches. The series finale is currently set for some time in August.

Volkanovski is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Max Holloway where he won the belt then defended it for the first time at UFC 251, while Ortega dismantled The Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn himself a title shot.

As for Shevchenko, she has cemented herself as the most dominant women’s flyweight of all time and has defended her title five times including most recently against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 and then Jessica Andrade at UFC 261.

She will take on Lauren Murphy, who has worked her way up the rankings and put together a five-fight win streak with victories over Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferri at UFC Vegas 3, Liliya Shakirova at UFC 254 and Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

The card will take place on September 25th from Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena.

UFC 261 Fallout: Untouchable Usman, Best card of all time?

The UFC put on potentially their greatest ever event at UFC 261 as the returning fans were treated to a stunning fight card in Jacksonville, Florida.

A 13 fight card saw nine brilliant finishes and produced moments that will be remembered forever in the sport, culminating in a new champion being crowned and an Earth-shattering knockout in the main event.

Welteweight champion Kamaru Usman took on Jorge Masvidal for the second time in the space of ten months, promising to win this fight in more dominant fashion than the first and boy did he deliver. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ made it three knockout wins in his last four fights, with a stunning right hand putting ‘Gamebred’s lights out for the first time in his career.

It was exactly the type of statement he intended to make, sleeping his rival in the second round to move to 14-0 in the UFC to move closer to the record 16-0 start Anderson Silva made to his UFC career.

After the fight Usman thanked Masvidal for pushing him to elevate his game further, while the now 50-fight veteran made zero excuses and simply said that Usman ‘had his number’. Usman’s performance solidified that despite being a champion and now defending that belt four times, he continues to get better and better in every performance he has in the octagon.

It’s likely to set up a fight against Colby Covington later this year, with Dana White confirming that he is the number one contender. The two fought in Usman’s first title defence back in 2019, with the champ knocking ‘Chaos’ out in fifth-round and leaving him with a broken jaw.

For now, he will enjoy the conversations around him about being the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world right now and it’s incredibly hard to argue against. He has the best wrestling in the entire division by a distance, his chin is made of granite, he has terrific conditioning, is only 33 and his hands are becoming increasingly more effective. It’s hard to see anyone being able to stop him in the near future, or potentially ever at his current rate.

MMA: APR 24 UFC 261 : News Photo

In the co-main event, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas became the first woman ever to regain a title she previously held when she knocked out Weili Zhang in the first round with a brutal head-kick. Weili wasn’t able to get her offence going as Rose bounced in and out of range throughout the first minute or so, then faked a low kick and went high to score the finish.

It was a top performance from Rose, and while the next contender isn’t known just yet the attention will now be on her once again. She seems to be more ready for what comes with being champion this time around though and with skills like hers all eyes will be on how she grows as a mixed martial artist in coming fights.

Valentina Shevchenko also confirmed her status as one of the most complete martial artists in the world, regardless of gender, as she dominated Jessica Andrade from start to finish in their title bout before getting a TKO finish in the second round.

It was supposed to be the toughest fight of her flyweight reign so far and yet it couldn’t have been more one-sided. A potential superfight against Weili is off the table now, while a trilogy with Amanda Nunes seems highly unlikely with White not interested and both fighters seemingly making it clear that they’re on different paths.

A tremendous card wasn’t without it’s down side though, as a cruel twist of fate saw Chris Weidman suffer a horrific leg break just 17 seconds into his fight with Uriah Hall.

UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2 : News Photo

In almost identical fashion to what happened in his second fight with Anderson Silva, Weidman threw a leg kick that Hall checked with his knee. Weidman’s leg folded as his shin bone completely shattered and the fight was called off immediately.

It was revealed after the card ended that he was stable and in hospital to undergo surgery and the hope is that he will eventually be able to return to the octagon just like Silva did.

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ariane Carnelossi def Liang Na via Knockout, Round 2 (1:28)

Super fast start to this fight as the two women meet in the middle and Na lands a big right hand that drops Carnelossi to one knee immediately! Na pushes for a finish with a clinch and knee, then Na drops for a takedown. They scramble and Na ends up on top landing some nice ground and pound, but Carnelossi is defending quite well considering. Carnelossi gets back to her feet and lands some nice right hands, but Na gets another takedown and ends up on top again. Carnelossi threatens with an armbar from her back but Na defends it and ends up on bottom, but then she throws up an armbar of her own! Carnelossi defends it and ends on top landing big ground and pound strikes. Carnelossi takes the back of Na but is able to avoid. Carnelossi transitions to a mounted triangle during a scramble and lands some big shots on the ground as the round closes out! What a round! 10-9 Carnelossi.

Fast start to the second round again as Na lands a nice head kick and goes for a flurry of punches before a judo throw takes the fight to the ground again. Carnelossi is able to take the back of Na after escaping a headlock and starts raining down ground and pound once again. The referee tells Na to defend herself, she doesn’t and he stops the fight! Hugely impressive win for Carnelossi.

Jeffrey Molina def Aoriqileng via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)

A strong start to the round from Aoriqileng steps forward and starts walking Molina down early, backing him against the cage and cutting off the angles. Molina moving well and trying to counter Aoriqileng but the Chinese fighter staying long and landing well. Nice flurry in the clinch as Aoriqileng looks to take the fight down but Molina is scrambling well and fighting it off. A bit of a stalemate between both men as they trade clinch knees. Both men just miss with the right hand as they separate but the round ends without too much more action. 10-9 Aoriqileng.

Molina trying to keep off the cage at the start of this round but Aoriqileng’s pressure paying off right now as he uses his length well. Molina landing his left jab well as he circles but Aoriqileng is throwing his counter right hand well and it’s landing hard and flush too. Both men throwing bombs in the middle of the octagon now and Molina lands a nice one-two that sits Aoriqileng down! Aoriqileng returns fire and as Molina throws a high kick it gets caught and then he gets dropped with a right hand too! Molina starts to circle and move backwards again and as Aoriqileng throws a lazy kick right at the end of the round, Molina lands a perfect right hand that drops him! Molina goes for the finish but the buzzer goes. 19-19!

Aoriqileng is coming forward in this final round and “fighting angry” according to the commentary team but he’s landing some nice right hands with the extra pressure. Molina moving well though and landing his jab well and great counter shots. Aoriqileng shoots for a takedown but Molina stuffs it really well and keeps the fight standing. Molina starting to throw some great combinations and is throwing in body shots too. Big left hand from Molina forces Aoriqileng to cover up and Molina is starting to pick him apart now. Big elbow as Aoriqileng is starting to slow down and eat these big shots. Big body shot followed up with a clean one-two and Molina is picking him apart as we enter the final minute. Aoriqileng throwing back but just eating so many shots and taking so much damage. Molina bites down and looks for a finish with 10 seconds to go but gets rocked! Aoriqileng goes for a finish but the round ends. 29-28 Molina.

Kazula Vargas def Rongzhu via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)

A much more composed start to this fight from both fighters as Vargas looks to get some offence off early with feints and some low kicks. Vargas is landing really well, striking first and hard as Rongzhu seems to have a case of the nerves. A couple more low kicks lands and sends Rongzhu to the mat. Both guys land nice right hands simultaneously but as Vargas lands first Rongzhu is missing with the majority of his counters as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vargas.

Second round sees Rongzhu come out fast and take the centre and a quick takedown attempt but Vargas defends well. A second attempt sees Vargas synch in a guillotine and it’s tiiiight! Rongzhu fighting the legs(?) of the closed guard from Vargas as he squeezes the choke, but Rongzhu refusing to tap and staying calm. Vargas blowing his load squeezing and eventually Rongzhu escapes and starts landing some ground and pound and riding Vargas. He tries to take his back but Vargas is able to escape it and ends up on top again with top control. Rongzhu eventually gets back to his feet and shoots for another takedown as the round ends, close round. 20-18 Vargas for me though.

Vargas being very patient in this final round as he looks a bit more fatigued and almost expects to be winning the fight currently. Rongzhu flicking out his jab and looking to land a straight right hand, but Vargas keeps coming forward. Rongzhu lands a huge right hand on the chin but Vargas eats it and lands a jab, before Rongzhu lands a big right again on Vargas’ entry that drops him to one knee. Vargas landing his jab well now as Rongzhu starts to walk him down in the final 90 seconds. Vargas keeps circling away and Rongzhu almost chasing him now. Rongzhu shoots for a takedown and after a scramble ends up on top with 10 seconds to go, landing ground and pound. Close round again, 29-28 Vargas in the end for me.

Batgerel Danaa def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 1 (0:50)

Natividad starts quickly, rushing in with a couple of heavy right hands. Danaa throws a front kick that just misses and a right hand that lands on the temple. Natividad charges forward and Danaa steps forward, slips the punch, switches stances and lands a stunning left hook that puts Natividad down! Danaa lands some heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in to end the fight! What a knockout!

PRELIMS

Patrick Sabatini def Tristan Connelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Lots of pressure from Connelly early on as he forces Sabatini backwards and looks to flick out his jab and land a right hand down the pipe. Sabatini moving well and quickly changes direction to land a right hand that drops Connelly! Sabatini moves into top position quickly and starts working to pass guard, landing some short shots and forcing Connelly to defend from the bottom. Sabatini moves into an arm triangle position and Connelly gives up his back immediately, which allows Sabatini to lock in a body triangle and look to work for a rear naked choke. Sabatini starts landing some punches to try and open up the neck for the choke but Connelly is defending the hands really well and manages to see out the round. 10-9 Sabatini.

Connelly comes out in the same way as the first, with lots of pressure to back Sabatini against the cage moving backwards. Sabatini nice and calm though and eventually changes levels and lands a power double leg takedown to end up in top position early on. Sabatini avoids the upkicks of Connelly and moves into side control before looking to step into mount, but ends up in half guard. Sabatini floats through and ends up taking the back and is looking for a submission but Connelly escapes and continues to get dominated. Sabatini takes the back and locks in a body triangle again, then moves for an arm triangle and then takes the back again. Connelly is defending the submissions well but Sabatini is in complete control and sees out the round in control again. 20-18 Sabatini.

Sabatini and Connelly both spend the entire first half of the final round competing in the clinch, exchanging knees and positions against the cage but next to no strikes thrown between them. Connelly throws a solid right hand that lands on the chin, and Sabatini immediately shoots for the takedown but Connelly stuffs it well. Connelly walking Sabatini down as we enter the final minute and lands a nice overhand right, but Sabatini clinches up again to slow the fight down. Connelly gets a nice trip and ends up on top with 30 seconds to go, but Sabatini defends well and grabs a leg to stifle any attacks and the round ends. 29-28 Sabatini but it was a much more lopsided fight than that will suggest.

Brendan Allen def Karl Roberson via Submission (Straight Ankle Lock), Round 1 (4:55)

Fast start to the fight as both men open up with a head kick attempt, throwing heavy shots behind them too. Roberson throwing his left hand well and lands his jab nicely too, before a big right hand cracks Allen. Allen steps forward with a left straight and the two clinch up, which allows Allen to get the takedown against the cage. He’s able to step over into mount while Roberson is upright against the cage, but he keeps his chin tucked and is able to fight off the guillotine attempt. Allen overpowers him and is able to move him across the octagon and starts controlling on top again. Roberson looks to attack a leg to escape, but that allows Allen to grab a leg too. Allen then torques on an ankle lock and leans back and Roberson taps! Beautiful submission win from Allen!

Dwight Grant def Stefan Sekulic via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A conservative start from both fighters as Sekulic takes the centre and pumps out a jab along with some feints, while Grant is looking to get his range with feelers and feints of his own. Sekulic is trying not to rush in and get Grant on the end of his punches but Grant doing well to avoid for the most part. Head kick from Sekulic but Grant returns fire with a heavy low kick. Sekulic coming forward again and leaps in with a flying knee that just grazes Grant. Sekulic shoots in for a takedown in the final 30 seconds and gets it to probably snatch the round. 10-9 Sekulic.

A slow start once again to the second round as they continue to try and establish range and set traps for each other, but not much action in the opening minute or so. Sekulic shoots for a takedown but Grant stuffs it well, then throws a big right hand that wobbles Sekulic! He goes in to land a few more shots but Sekulic threatens with a knee up the middle and then a spinning wheel kick that both just miss and they both reset. Wild left hook from Grant just misses the chin of Sekulic as both guys trade low calf kicks before Sekulic shoots in deep for a takedown again and gets it. Sekulic starts trying to advance but Grant pops up to his feet with 45 seconds left in the round. Sekulic shoots in again and they clinch against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Sekulic.

Grant comes out with a bit more urgency in this round, and gets an early takedown of his own to end up on top. Sekulic looks for a shoulder lock off his back but Grant defends it, lands some big ground and pound strikes then gets up to bring the fight back up to the feet. Sekulic doing really well to stay at distance and gets a takedown of his own, but Grant gets back up quickly. Sekulic is landing nice straight shots with good movement and he lands a big shot that drops Grant! He moves in for a finish and sinks in a deeeeep guillotine attempt and just as Grant is going out the buzzer goes to end the round! 30-27 Sekulic, great performance from him.

Randy Brown def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:50)

A very intense start from both fighters as Brown comes out hard looking to do damage. Cowboy responds with lateral movement and some nice leg kicks that are causing problems early for Brown. Cowboy throws three, four more kicks and Brown drops down to one knee. Brown comes forward again and clips him with a left before he lands a BOMB of a right hand to drop Oliveira! Brown goes for the kill with ground and pound but Cowboy starts to grab him and eventually survives. Brown gets to mount and then takes the back of Cowboy who’s fighting the hands, but then Brown gets one arm under the chin. Oliveira fights the other hand to stop a grip but Brown presses his hand against the shoulder of Cowboy and eventually brings Cowboy down to force the tap with a one-handed rear-naked choke! Wow! What a performance!

MAIN CARD

Anthony Smith def Jimmy Crute via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)

Slow start to this one as it takes around a minute for both guys to start engaging, with Crute opting for low kicks and Smith landing nice jabs. Crute’s leg kicks are having an early effect on the movement of Smith so far, but the jab is landing clean and often and has stunned Crute! Smith lands a big, clean right hand and works Crute out. Smith returns a huge leg kick of his own that lands just behind the knee and Crute’s leg gives way completely. Crute shoots for a takedown and ends the round on top but he’s in trouble.

Between rounds the doctor examines Crute and waves the fight off as he can barely walk without it giving way. Crazy ending!

Uriah Hall def Chris Weidman via Knockout (Broken Leg), Round 1 (0:17)

Chris Weidman threw a leg kick and his leg has snapped in half! Oh my God! The literal first kick of the entire fight. Oh my goodness that is horrific. Get well soon Weidman.

******TRIGGER WARNING*****

Valentina Shevchenko def Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Very composed start from both ladies, as Shevchenko flicks a jab and then lands a nice one-two down the middle. Andrade misses with a couple of leg kicks and then Shevchenko closes the distance quickly and gets a takedown! Shevchenko dominating the position as Andrade gets back up and then dragged back down again. Shevchenko just misses with a head kick as they break, but then they clinch up again and Shevchenko trips her. She works for position and ends up on Andrade’s back and sinks an arm under the chin but the angle doesn’t allow the squeeze for a choke. She lets Andrade back up, holds her in place and then drags her down one more time to end the round in top position. 10-9, could argue a 10-8 maybe.

Both women come into the middle to start the round and after a short flurry between them both, Shevchenko overpowers Andrade and slams her to the mat once again. Andrade gets back up and pushes her against the cage but Shevchenko is overpowering Andrade and not allowing her to lift her for a takedown. Shevchenko then once again rag dolls Andrade and trips her down to the mat. Shevchenko quickly moves from side control and into a crucifix position and starts hammering away on Andrade’s face. Andrade trying to defend but Shevchenko turns the punches into elbows and the referee mercifully stops the fight. What a performance!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 1 (1:18)

Nice start from both women as Rose bounces around on the outside while Zhang throws some low kicks. Rose lands a jab and steps out to avoid a big right hand from Zhang. Namajunas fakes a low kick and goes to the chin and Zhang is OUT!! Rose lands three follow up shots and the referee steps in to wave it off! It’s over! AND NEWWWW!

Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Knockout, Round 2 (1:02)

Tense start to the title fight as Usman takes the centre of the cage and looks to land his excellent jab, while Masvidal is throwing some leg kicks. Usman lands a big overhand right flush on the chin but Masvidal shouts in his face after eating it. A few tighter exchanges and Masvidal goes for a flying knee, but Usman catches it and dumps him on his back. Masvidal fights get his full guard and starts throwing elbows from the bottom, but Usman stays strong on top and prevents him from getting back up to his feet too quickly but he eventually does. Usman lands a right hand and then a jab but Masvidal responds with a flurry of strikes and a big knee as the round ends. Close round, but 10-9 Usman for me.

Both men standing in the centre, not looking to give up an inch as Masvidal throws a few leg kicks to keep distance. Usman drops his level and throws a huge right straight that knocks Masvidal out cold!!!! Usman follows up with heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in! AND STILLLL!! What a knockout!

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, lets move on to the main card.


Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jimmy Crute (12-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A true veteran vs prospect bout as former title challenger Anthony Smith takes on the highly rated Jimmy Crute. Smith bounced back from consecutive defeats to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Vegas 8 with a triangle-choke submission win over Devin Clark at UFC Vegas 15. Crute on the other hand bounced back from his only career defeat to Misha Cirkunov with stoppage wins over Michal Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Fight Island 6.

Smith is a former golden gloves champion boxer while also possession a Gracie black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Crute is a powerful striker with a very wrestling heavy approach, with aggression and power in everything he does. Smith’s takedown defence is not the greatest at just 51% in his UFC career and if he’s on his back he does sometimes just shell up. Crute is so aggressive he could leave himself open for submissions against a guy who is very good at applying them and finishing but he will surely be aware of that.

Crute will go for takedowns and likely get them, but if the fight does stay on the feet Smith absolutely has the advantage on the feet. Despite that, I can’t look past Crute getting the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Decision

Uriah Hall (17-9) vs Chris Weidman (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch 11 years in the making in the middleweight division as ‘Prime Time’ takes on the former world champion. Hall has won his last three bouts in a row defeating Bevon Lewis and Antonio Carlos Jr before knocking out Anderson Silva at UFC Vegas 12 in the main event. Weidman had lost five of six via knockout prior to his last fight against Omari Akhmedov, which he won via decision at UFC Vegas 6.

Hall is a fearsome striker with incredible techniques and power, but volume is something he has always struggled with throughout his UFC career. Weidman is a power wrestler who has good submissions, but generally he looks to get takedowns and grind his opponent out from top position. Hall isn’t the best when it comes to takedown defence which helps Weidman hugely, but ‘The All-American’ has been knocked senseless so many times recently and Hall is a great counter-striker which just adds up to violence.

Weidman could easily grind out a great win with top control but Hall could just as easily put his lights out with a single shot and looking at their recent history I’m choosing Hall with something spectacular.
PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3

Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) vs Jessica Andrade (21-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The greatest women’s flyweight of all-time takes on the biggest threat to her crown so far as she takes on a former strawweight champion in one of three title fights on this card. Shevchenko has won her last six in a row with three of those coming by finish, although her last bout against Jennifer Maia ended in a judge’s scorecard win. Andrade lost her title to Weili Zhang then lost a rematch to Rose Namajunas at UFC 251 before moving up to 125lbs, defeating Kaitlyn Chookagian via body shots at UFC Fight Island 6.

Shevchenko is arguably the most well rounded women’s fighter around along with Amanda Nunes, with phenomenal striking, clinch work and solid grappling. Andrade however is a powerful wrestler who has incredible power in her punches too. The issues Andrade will have is closing the distance, because Shevchenko is an excellent counter striker and has brilliant footwork to be able to evade it. Andrade is good enough to be able to get in close and land big strikes and threaten takedowns, but from what we’ve seen of both I don’t know if that will be enough to dethrone the flyweight queen.

‘Bullet’ will evade the big slam takedowns, work behind her strikes and eventually land a big counter strike as Andrade starts to fade in the championship rounds.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 4

Weili Zhang (21-1) vs Rose Namajunas (10-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

My pick for fight of the night is the strawweight title fight between China’s Weili Zhang and ‘Thug Rose’ Namajunas. Zhang has won 21 fights in a row, including a knockout win over Jessica Andrade to win the title before one of the greatest fights of all-time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first defence. Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk twice before getting slammed on her head to lose the belt to Andrade, although she got her win back at UFC 251 with a split decision win.

Both these women are incredibly well rounded, with 15 submission wins between them but they also both have great striking too. Zhang is by far the more powerful of the two, while Namajunas is the more technical and arguably has a speed advantage between the two also. Namajunas is physically the bigger girl with a height and reach advantage, but Zhang is so much more physically imposing and powerful. I expect the volume of Zhang will be able to eventually start to wear on Namajunas and the power could close the show early.

Namajunas will need to mix it up brilliantly to come out on top here and I think Zhang is just too good for her right now.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 4

Kamaru Usman (18-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The biggest rematch on the card as the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his second title defence of the year against ‘Gamebred’ Jorge Masvidal. Usman beat Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer and followed that up with a knockout win over former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. Masvidal hasn’t fought since his defeat to Usman last time out.

Usman is an incredible wrestler but has shown in his more recent fights that he is a more than capable striker too. He has one of the best jabs in the company and has shown a durability in his game now that champions almost always have. Masvidal is a brawler with brilliant kickboxing skills and power in his hands, but he is also an excellent grappler in his own right. The issue is, Usman is just better. Masvidal landed some good shots in the first fight and Usman just walked through them and got takedowns relatively easily so it’s hard to see anything but that happening once again.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is promising a finish but Masvidal has only been finished three times in 49 fights prior to this, so I expect the same result as the first fight but in an even more dominant fashion this time around.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision