A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.
Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.
In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.
We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night we move on to the rest of the prelims section of the card.
Virna Jandiroba (17-3) vs Angela Hill (13-11) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A banger at strawweight between two fighters going through rough patches recently. Jandiroba has 1-2 in her last three, beating Kanako Murata via TKO (UFC Vegas 29) in between decision defeats to Mackenzie Dern (UFC 256) and Amanda Ribas (UFC 267). Hill has gone 1-4 in her last five, with a decision win over Ashley Yoder (UFC Vegas 21) sandwiched in the middle of decision defeats to Claudia Gadelha, Michelle Waterson (UFC Vegas 10), Tecia Torres (UFC 265) and Amanda Lemos (UFC Vegas 45).
Jandiroba is a tremendous grappler with some excellent wrestling and nasty ground and pound, while her submission game is top notch having earned her 13 wins in her career. Hill is a striker, with excellent Muay Thai skills and some decent defensive wrestling skills but she regularly leaves fights in the judge’s hands by giving one to take one. This one seems like an unfavourable match up though because her recent performances have seen her struggle against top wrestlers.
Hill could easily have won three of her four recent defeats with different judges, but when you leave it open like that you’re asking for trouble. Jandiroba has had cardio problems in the past and Hill will go strong for the full 15 which could help in the latter rounds, but I expect Jandiroba’s wrestling to be enough to claim at least two rounds and another judge’s decision. PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Decision
Michael Johnson (20-17) vs Alan Patrick (15-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A bit of a retirement bout in the lightweight division here as Michael Johnson takes on Alan Patrick at 155-pounds. Johnson hasn’t won since 2018, losing four in a row, with defeat to Clay Guida most recently at UFC Vegas 18. Patrick is winless in his last three after defeats to Scott Holtzman and Bobby Green, before an accidental eye poke saved him from another defeat to Mason Jones at UFC Vegas 28.
Johnson is a striker, with great power in his hands and nasty body kicks as well as some solid wrestling in his back pocket too. Patrick is a powerful wrestler who wants to use his top game to dominate position , but his wrestling to get the fight there isn’t good. These are two fighters who probably shouldn’t be in the UFC at this point, but here we are.
Patrick just isn’t very good, to put it plainly. If he manages to get the fight to the ground he will have success, but his cardio means he probably has about a round and a half in him before Johnson takes over. Overall, Johnson should be able to stay at range and piece him up on the feet while avoiding the takedowns to secure a win. PICK – Michael Johnson via Decision
Viviane Araujo (10-3) vs Andrea Lee (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun women’s flyweight fight sits as the featured prelim bout in a highly competitive affair. Araujo saw a run of seven wins in eight bouts snapped last time out when Katlyn Chookagian claimed a decision win against her at UFC 262. Lee on the other hand has earned consecutive wins after a run of three defeats in a row, defeating Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 262 via submission before a TKO win against Cynthia Calvillo at UFC Vegas 42.
Araujo is a brilliant athlete, with great on-punch power as well as a gruelling top game from wrestling. Her big undoing however is her cardio, as she tends to only be able to go for two rounds or so before she fades away and rapidly. Lee on the other hand has improved her ground game well, while her striking game stands out among the contenders in the division although she struggles with wrestling defensively.
If the Brazilian has improved on her cardio then she should win this with her aggression and power. But if she hasn’t, it smells like a potential upset in ‘KGB’s favour with her effective striking and pace. The likelihood is that she hasn’t, because it’s always been an issue, so expect Lee to overcome a tough opening round to take over and claim the decision win. PICK – Andrea Lee via Decision
Tagir Ulanbekov def Allan Nascimento via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
A couple of hard low kicks early from Nascimento to start the fight, but Ulanbekov taking the centre and flicking his jab out nicely. Another nice leg kick from Nascimento and then he follows that up with a nice right hand. Flying knee attempt just misses but Ulanbekov grabs a body lock and takes the fight to the ground immediately. Nascimento defending really well on the ground and threatening with an armbar, then sweeps to the top but Ulanbekov immediately gets up and tries to get the fight back down against the cage. Ulanbekov battling against submission attempts and ends up in a mounted guillotine and it’s tight! Nascimento fighting it and eventually pops his head out to survive! Amazing! Ulanbekov gets back to top position and is resting in a controlling position, with Nascimento threatening with a guillotine of his own. He now moves to a kimura trap to try and get to his feet but the round ends. Great round. 10-9 Ulanbekov for me.
Good start to the round again from Ulanbekov with his jab landing well, before he shoots in deep for a takedown. Nascimento defends it well against the cage but eventually Ulanbekov is able to change levels and get the fight down. Nascimento threatening with a kimura from the bottom, but Ulanbekov defending it well and eventually gets back into full guard without the threat. Nascimento being very active off his back, but Ulanbekov trying to stifle him from the top to control him. Nascimento tries for a triangle but Ulanbekov deals with it easily, before Nascimento lands a huge elbow from the bottom. Nascimento goes for an armbar and starts smashing him with elbows from the bottom to see out the round. Close, but I edge to Nascimento there for attacking more despite being on the bottom. 19-19.
Big knee attempt from Nascimento early on but Ulanbekov gets the fight to ground once again immediately. Nascimento went for a kimura trap immediately and swept him to get on top but once against Ulanbekov raced to the next position to maintain control. Ulanbekov in full guard just stalling and looking for a bit of ground and pound, but Nascimento seems happy enough on his back to look for submissions. Ulanbekov trying to pass guard but Nascimento is looking to make him defend as much as possible. He finally passes into half guard now and starts looking for some short elbows from the top. Big left hand lands but Nascimento still being active and trying to sweep him. Final minute and Nascimento goes for another kimura, but Ulanbekov defends it excellently again. Nascimento goes for a triangle armbar but Ulanbekov defends it and ends the round with some big ground shots to likely claim a win. 29-28 Ulanbekov.
Andre Petroski def Hu Yaozong via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Round 3 (4:46)
Lots of feinting early on from both guys, before Petroski flies in with a big left hand that just misses. Petroski lands two big left hands and then Yaozong goes for a head-kick that gets blocked and he ends up on his back. Petroski goes straight for the neck and jumps on a mounted guillotine but it’s not quite in yet. He lets go and takes the back, rains down some big ground and pound. He goes for the rear-naked choke and it’s tight but Yaozong explodes out and Petroski goes for a d’arce but Yaozong gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a big left hand again but Yaozong is still coming forward. Petroski throws two big strikes that lands clean but Yaozong eats it. Three huge left hooks land from Petroski but Yaozong is still standing and Petroski is exhausted. Single leg takedown from Petroski but Yaozong gets straight back up and keeps coming forward. One more left hand lands for good measure as the round ends. Crazy round. 10-9 Petroski.
Immediate takedown from Petroski and he goes for a guillotine again, but Yaozong scrambles out quickly and gets back to his feet. Petroski lands a huge left hand and then a couple more, before another takedown where he now looks to control the position. Another attempted guillotine from Petroski before he looks to control again. Petroski moves to side control and looks for a head-and-arm choke but Yaozong grabs his own leg to defend it. Petroski looks to move to his back but Yaozong defends it again, but Petroski is controlling him much better now. Petroski moves into full mount and then goes for the head-and-arm choke again, but once again Yaozong defends it. Yaozong gets back to his feet but Petroski keeps a body lock and takes him down once again. Petroski flows on the mat and takes Yaozong’s back again and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Petroski controls until the buzzer goes. 20-18 Petroski.
Petroski lands a big left hand as Yaozong pressures him to the cage early in the final round, but Petroski shoots for a takedown and then runs him the entire way across before getting him down. Petroski takes control and looks to move to his back, then lands a few big ground strikes before pulling Yaozong backwards onto the mat. Petroski flowing well and looks for a guillotine, before Yaozong gets back to his feet. Yaozong sprawls and slips and then Petroski lands a huge one-two Douglas Lima style. Petroski gets another takedown and ends up in full mount, landing big elbows but Yaozong refusing to give up. Another huge elbow from Petroski and he works to control again. Petroski moves to side control and locks up a head-and-arm choke once again and forces the tap with 15 seconds left! Great win from Petroski.
Lerone Murphy def Makwan Amirkhani via Knockout, Round 2 (0:14)
Early takedown in the opening round from Amirkhani as soon as Murphy switches to an orthodox stance. Amirkhani controlling him against the cage and looking to advance to three-quarter mount, but Murphy doing relatively well to defend so far. Amirkhani keeping the body lock tight and Murphy is trying hard to break the lock, but Amirkhani keeping it tight and keeping the fight as grappling heavy as possible as we enter the final minute. Amirkhani completely controlling the action through the first five minutes as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Amirkhani.
Amirkhani goes for an early takedown as soon as Murphy switches to orthodox again but Murphy blasts a HUGE knee and Amirkhani is out!!! Oh my word what a KO!!
Michal Oleksiejczuk def Shamil Gamzatov via Knockout, Round 1 (3:31)
Great first round from Oleksiejczuk who keeps the fight standing for the most part, before landing a crisp right uppercut that puts Gamzatov down. He follows it up with some big ground and pound and that’s all she wrote!
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def Benoit Saint-Denis via Unanimous Decision (29-26 x3)
Saint-Denis opens with a body kick, then Zaleski lands a nice one-two. Nice body kicks from Zaleski and some hard low kicks, but Saint-Denis coming forward still and then creates an angle for a takedown and slams Zaleski down. Zaleski gets back up relatively easily though and lands another hard low kick. Saint-Denis ripping some strong kicks to the body, but Zaleski responding with leg kicks. Big exchange of punches and Zaleski lands a hard right hand that rocks him, but Saint-Denis shoots in for a double leg to buy himself some time. Zaleski gets back up again quickly and continues to chop the lead leg. Level change from Saint-Denis but Zaleski keeps it standing, then just slips a big uppercut. Great round, 10-9 Zaleski for me.
Fast flurry of strikes between the two leads to Zaleski landing a big counter-right hand. Saint-Denis keeps coming and eats another huge right hand and then Zaleski lands a flush knee to the head. Saint-Denis is badly hurt but Zaleski keeps coming forward and landing big strikes. Saint-Denis won’t go down but Zaleski is pouring it on! Huge strikes and another big right hand and Saint-Denis is just refusing to go down. Zaleski is battering him and the entire arena is screaming for the referee to stop the fight but he won’t. Zaleski is lighting him up but he won’t go down and then he shoots for a takedown. Somehow, the round goes the full five minutes. Unreal. 20-17 at least.
Somehow they come out for the final round and Zaleski lands a hard low kick. Accidental eye poke from Zaleski causes a pause of the action. Saint-Denis tells the referee he can’t see , but the referee restarts the fight anyway without bringing in a doctor??? Zaleski lands a right hand that wobbles Saint-Denis, who shoots for a takedown that gets sprawled. Zaleski sitting on the top in full guard before they get back to the feet. Head-kick from Saint-Denis is blocked and Zaleski comes forward again with a right hand. Big left hand from Saint-Denis lands before a takedown attempt, but Zaleski is able to scramble to switch the position and then get back up. Final minute now and there’s an accidental low blow by Zaleski to cause another pause in the action. The referee takes a point away from Zaleski (???) who now steps forward with some more aggression. Round comes to an end with Zaleski chasing Saint-Denis down, but that should be that. 29-26.
Albert Duraev def Roman Kopylov via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-27 x2)
Kopylov starting off confidently in the centre, landing hard low kicks and one that even drops Duraev momentarily. Duraev explodes with a one-two and then a leg kick of his own. Duraev lands a right hand down the middle, then lands a low kick and left-hook combo that stuns Kopylov. Another hard leg kick from Duraev as he starts to pressure Kopylov back against the cage. Big elbow strike lands but Kopylov is giving as good as he’s taking so far. Duraev currently just too quick for Kopylov at the moment, but no great damage being done. Kopylov catches a high kick and lands a few uppercuts before they separate and Duraev goes for some more jabs. 10-9 Duraev at the end of the first.
Kopylov lands a big left hand early in the second and drops Duraev! Duraev manages to survive with good movement and then shoots in for a takedown against the cage. Duraev goes for a takedown and Kopylov grabs the fence to deny it! The referee stops the action, gives a hard warning and resets them which allows Duraev to get an immediate takedown. Duraev then transitions straight into full mount and starts attacking with ground and pound and threatening with a head-and-arm choke. Big ground and pound from Duraev and Kopylov is trying to fight back but getting hurt bad. Duraev landing big, heavy elbows from the top in full mount and Kopylov is getting beaten up bad. Duraev going for a head-and-arm choke but Kopylov defends it and Duraev goes straight back to the big elbow strikes from the top. Kopylov turns on to his belly and Duraev takes his back to look for a choke, before smashing in more ground and pound. Duraev goes for a rear-naked choke and it’s in deep but Kopylov is saved by the bell! 20-17 Duraev.
Nice body shot from Kopylov and a head-kick is blocked, before Duraev goes straight back for a takedown against the cage. Kopylov defends it well but Duraev keeps trying until they separate and reset in the middle of the octagon. Nice body kick from Kopylov again, but Duraev lands a big right hand and then goes back in for a takedown. Kopylov defending it excellently though and as he escapes, Duraev goes down with exhaustion. Kopylov lands a big left hand and Duraev is exhausted, but so is Kopylov. Kopylove with his hands on his knees, trying to invite Duraev towards him. Duraev just taking his time to circle as we enter the final minute but both men are just waiting for the final bell at this point. Duraev goes for a takedown but gets caught and then Kopylov goes for a big takedown of his own to end the round. 30-26 Duraev.
Zubaira Tukhugov def Ricardo Ramos via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast start to this one as Ramos comes out very kick heavy, with low kicks and body attempts while Tukhugov just staying calm and patient. Nice left hand counter lands from Tukhugov that stumbles Ramos, which immediately makes the Brazilian think twice. Tukhugov forcing Ramos against the cage with his pressure and lands a big left hand. He follows it with a big right hand that opens up a huge cut! Tukhugov throws a big body shot and is pressuring Ramos hard now. Low kick from Ramos but Tukhugov counters with a nice one-two down the pipe. Big right hand swings wildly and misses but Ramos is very focused on avoiding rather than causing damage right now. Big counter-right hand from Tukhugov lands again. Tukhugov goes in for a left hook but Ramos counters with a spinning reverse elbow that opens a big cut up on Tukhugov! What a round! 10-9 Tukhugov for me.
Start of the second similar to the first, with Ramos trying to be first and Tukhugov trying to counter. Big right hand from the Russian lands but Ramos continuing to be on the front foot. Tukhugov slips a big combination and points at Ramos, before Ramos slips a counter one-two straight back. Nice low kick from Ramos lands and then a big one-two down the pipe. Tukhugov goes for a single leg but lets it go and lands a right hand of his own. Tukhugov starting to pressure Ramos against the cage but the Brazilian doing well to move and circle. Big right hand from Tukhugov lands and he follows up with two nice jabs. Tukhugov fires in with a blast double leg and gets a back trip to take the fight down with ten seconds left and likely take the round. 20-18 Tukhugov for me.
Tukhugov looking to take the initiative early on again and stepping forward with his jab. Ramos looks like he’s tiring but is landing his right hand well. Ramos lands a big knee with his back against the cage and then explodes forward with more strikes. Tukhugov stays calm though and continues to land his jab, while avoiding Ramos’ bigger strike attempts. Another stiff jab by Tukhugov but Ramos just misses with an elbow. More jabs from Tukhugov, who is pressuring Ramos backwards consistently. Ramos lands a right hand and then a low kick but Tukhugov still coming forward and then shoots for a takedown with 30 seconds to go. A few trip attempts but the buzzer goes and Tukhugov should earn the decision win.
Amanda Ribas def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Jandiroba shoots straight in for a takedown but Ribas sprawls and denies it immediately. Ribas fires a one-two down the pipe after slipping Jandiroba’s strike attempt, before Jandiroba sees another takedown attempt denied. Big one-two lands from Jandiroba and then she shoots for a takedown and secures it into full guard. Jandiroba goes for body-head strikes but Ribas throws her legs up and looks for a very unique submission, but Jandiroba stays calm, escapes and goes back to the ground and pound. Jandiroba scoops her over to the cage and stacks her up, looking for some strikes then launches down with a huge elbow. Jandiroba completely controlling on the ground right now with relentless pressure but then the referee stands them up. Jandiroba lands a big right hand that drops Ribas but the buzzer goes and potentially saves her! 10-9 Jandiroba.
Lots of bouncing to open the second round and then Ribas lands a big right hand straight down the pipe. Jandiroba responds with a right hand of her own before a spinning back kick from Ribas lands to the body. Nice counter right from Ribas again as both women stand toe-to-toe. Lots of big actions from both women but not much landing as of now, with Ribas pushing the action and Jandiroba on the back foot. Jandiroba goes for a single leg takedown but Ribas reverses the attempt and ends up on top, before they scramble up to their feet again. Lots of tough grappling to end the round, but Ribas takes it. 19-19.
Ribas pressuring hard in the third now with nice combinations and ending them all with a kick. Jandiroba is slowing up quite clearly and she shoots for a lazy takedown that Ribas stuffs then tries to trip her herself. Nice left hand from Jandiroba before Ribas counters the next strike with a nice left hand. Spinning kick to the body doesn’t land clean, before Jandiroba goes for another takedown but is denied. Big head kick from Ribas lands and Jandiroba is hurt! She goes for a spin kick that misses and that allows Jandiroba to recover her senses, but she’s very tired. Ribas still fresh and being first with her strikes as the fight winds down to a close. Should be a comeback 29-28 win for Ribas.
Ankalaev opening up early with some speedy strikes down the pipe, but Oezdemir staying calm in front of him. Oezdemir throws a wicked left hook that lands, then follows up with a left uppercut that wobbles Ankalaev. Oezdemir goes for a flying knee but misses and Ankalaev gets a body lock and puts him up against the cage. Oezdemir has Ankalaev backing up against the cage but both men are just missing with their strikes. Big one-two down the pipe from Ankalaev and he drops Oezdemir! He goes to finish but Oezdemir gets back up quickly and they reset. Another jab and left hand from Ankalaev lands and he’s now taking the centre. Oezdemir looks hesitant and Ankalaev’s left hand is landing at will almost. One-two followed by two more right-hands by Ankalaev as the round ends. 10-9 Ankalaev.
Oezdemir tries to rush in with his right hand but Ankalaev escapes, clinches up and then lands a big left hand on the break. Hard low kick from Oezdemir before Ankalaev throws another combination that just misses. Oezdemir steps forward with a right hand but Ankalaev counters with a hard right hook that cuts Oezdemir above the eye. Oezdemir’s only success really coming from low kicks but Ankalaev controlling the range and throwing his left hand well. Uppercut from Ankalaev lands and then he locks up a body lock against the cage, throwing hard knees to the thigh of Oezdemir. Ankalaev tries to get a takedown but Oezdemir defends well, then blocks a big left hand on the break. 20-18 Ankalaev.
Ankalaev staying very calm and jabbing well in this final round. Nice jab and a big right hand lands but Oezdemir eats it well. Oezdemir goes for a takedown but Ankalaev denies it and then lands a hard right hand. Ankalaev turning up the pressure a little now with a left head kick but Oezdemir still trying to find a moment. Big right hand lands from Oezdemir but Ankalaev eats it and steps to the side before returning to his jab. Entering the final minute now and both guys seem to have accepted the result of this one, with not much happening. Hard body kick from Ankalaev before a stiff right jab lands too. Takedown attempt from Ankalaev as the round ends, in what should be a 30-27 win for him.
Khamzat Chimaev def Jingliang Li via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 1 (3:16)
Chimaev ducks under a right hand and goes straight for a takedown on Li, who defends it well before eventually getting lifted, slammed and controller. Chimaev throwing some ground strikes again but Li defending well, although Chimaev is controlling him with wrestling so far. Heavy ground and pound from Chimaev as he puts a hook in and starts searching for a choke. Chimaev goes on the back and flattens Li out and starts smashing him with ground and pound! Huge shots from Chimaev but Li is still trying to fight him! Chimaev switches to the back and goes for a choke and sinks it in! Li fighting the submission but Chimaev switches sides, readjusts the grip and puts Li to sleep! Wow!! What a performance! The hype is real!
Alexander Volkov def Marcin Tybura via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Great start from both guys as Volkov comes forward with some body shots and stiff hooks, but Tybura replies with a big left hand of his own. Volkov using his length well to land straight shots and avoid Tybura’s returns so far, before Tybura changes levels on him to no avail. Tybura gets inside and goes for a takedown, but Volkov denies him really well before breaking with an elbow attempt. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura steps forward again with pressure to close the distance. Tybura changes levels on Volkov but he turns him and ends up on top, landing a big elbow early. Tybura stalling on the ground by just holding Volkov tight to him and Volkov goes for a forearm to the throat to try and disrupt the breathing. Volkov lands a few more ground strikes to end the round in control and take it on the cards, 10-9.
Volkov using his front kick well once again and the big right hand following behind it. Tybura pressing the pace and forcing him backwards, but his takedown attempts are being denied quite comfortably. A few uppercuts in the clinch from Tybura land before another takedown attempt is denied. Volkov throws a knee that is caught and Tybura tries for another takedown, but Volkov denies him again and lands a right hand as they separate. Nice one-two from Tybura lands and Volkov is starting to tire now. Left hand misses from Tybura again and then Volkov lands a beautiful right hook. Tybura fakes a jab and goes for another takedown but Volkov denies it and sees out the round. Hard to score, but it’s probably even going into the third.
Tybura on the front foot once again in this final round, almost chasing Volkov but neither doing much damage. Volkov lands a hard knee to the body before Tybura goes for another takedown that gets stuffed. Nice one-two from Volkov as they separate but it’s still Tybura pushing forward. Big left uppercut followed by a right hand from Volkov lands and then he denies yet another takedown! Short left hook from Tybura lands and then he goes in for a takedown again that Volkov defends routinely at this point. Tybura tries a hip toss but Volkov holds a body lock and has the back, landing big knees to the thigh. Big right hands from Volkov land and then some nice combinations as Tybura starts to tire. Big one-two from Volkov but Tybura responds with a big left of his own. Final minute now and both guys are breathing heavy. Volkov lands a big right hand, slips Tybura’s strikes and lands a nice combination to back Tybura up. Straight right hand each as the round comes to an end, should be a Volkov decision win 29-28.
Islam Makhachev def Dan Hooker via Submission (Kimura), Round 1 (2:25)
Hooker trying to keep length nice and early here with a few low kicks as Makhachev takes the centre and just looks for his moment. Makhachev throws a nice hook then dips low and catches Hooker’s leg to get an immediate takedown and move straight to half guard in his own corner. Makhachev throws a nice elbow in tight and is now attacking a kimura! Makhachev readjusts the grip, steps over and twists the arm behind the back and secures the tap out! Unbelievable performance from Makhachev!
Petr Yan def Cory Sandhagen via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)
An exchange of leg kicks between the two in the opening minute, as Yan takes the centre and Sandhagen looks to circle on the outside and use his length. Yan lets a left hand fly but it just misses, before a nice low kick followed by a body shot from Sandhagen. Low kick from Yan and Sandhagen counters with two nice left hands before changing levels to go for a takedown. Yan defends it well though and they go back into a close exchange of striking. Hard low kick from Yan lands before Sandhagen steps forward and just misses with a left. Sandhagen forces Yan to the cage and lands a few touching shots, before a nice kick to the body. Hard strikes from Sandhagen land but Yan returns with a big right hand of his own before Sandhagen changes levels again. Big flying knee from Sandhagen lands and the round ends. 10-9 Sandhagen.
Hard low kick from Sandhagen to open up the round, before both guys use their feints really well. Body kick from Yan lands but he misses with the follow up right hand and Sandhagen responds with a right hand of his own. Huge body kick from Yan lands clean and then Sandhagen responds with a nice left hook to the body himself. Head kick attempt from Yan is caught and Sandhagen throws a nice right. Yan responds with a low kick and then a big left hand to the chin. Sandhagen moving well still and touching Yan well, but Yan starting to counter with powerful strikes of his own. Yan just misses with a big left hand and both guys exchange body shots again. Sandhagen goes for a takedown but Yan defends it well and keeps the fight standing. Big knee from Sandhagen again but Yan eats it well. Yan pushing forward and putting his pace on this fight, but Sandhagen using his length well to stay out of real danger. 19-19.
Soft left hands from Sandhagen before he checks a leg kick and lands a beautiful left down the pipe to wobble Yan. Yan comes forward with a spinning kick to the body before Sandhagen lands his jab again. Huge left hook to the body from Yan lands but Sandhagen comes forward again with his jab and circles on the outside. Hard leg kick but Yan checks it and then he lands a big left uppercut. He goes for a combination but Sandhagen avoids it and lands a one-two of his own. Yan trying to turn the pressure up but Sandhagen slipping shots well and avoiding clean hits. Big one-two from Yan lands but Sandhagen staying calm and circling on the outside. Body kick from Yan but Sandhagen moves forward to trade with him. Yan throws a big hook and then a spinning back fist and drops Sandhagen! He goes for vicious ground and pound but Sandhagen stays calm and after some scrambles, they get back to the feet and the round ends. 29-28 Yan.
Yan starting to walk Sandhagen down a bit now but he isn’t going anywhere. Nice jabs again and a nice knee attempt just misses, but Yan is throwing big left hands and landing clean. Another big left from Yan lands flush but Sandhagen still standing. Body shot from Sandhagen gets a big left straight reply from Yan, but Sandhagen continuing to poke at him with jabs. Yan with a body kick and then a beautiful one two lands. Sandhagen shoots for a takedown and gets it, but both guys go for a heel hook before they scramble back to their feet. Yan ducks under a spinning back fist then lands some big combinations to the head and body. Yan continuing to march forward and the big hooks are landing, but Sandhagen responds with a big elbow. Yan steps forward and blasts Sandhagen with a huge right hand, but Sandhagen just eats it. Yan stuffs a takedown and they start scrambling again, with Yan throwing big combinations. 39-37 Yan.
Final round and Sandhagen still trying pick his shots while Yan is walking him down. Hard low kick from Yan gets a big reaction from Sandhagen, before he tries another jump knee that Yan blocks. Yan looking to close distance again but Sandhagen still fresh and moving well, flicking out his jab. Yan goes for three hooks but misses them all thanks to good movement, before Yan tries for a takedown and Sandhagen denies him. Huge head kick from Yan lands but Sandhagen shakes his head and says no, before Yan goes for more big hooks. Final 90 seconds and Yan is still coming forward. Right jab from Yan before Sandhagen makes him miss several times. Big left hand from Sandhagen lands and then he avoids the spinning back fist. Big knee from Sandhagen with ten seconds left but Yan responds with a spinning kick to the chin and they go wild with seconds remaining to end the fight. What a bout! 49-46 Yan for me.
Glover Teixeira def Jan Blachowicz via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:02)
Hard leg kick from Blachowicz opens up the fight as Teixeira looks to take the centre. Teixeira changes levels and goes for the takedown, before spinning him off the cage and securing it. Straight into full guard as Blachowicz looks to tie him up and avoid that vicious ground and pound game of Teixeira’s. Teixeira pulling the head up and making Blachowicz very uncomfortable on the bottom, grinding his elbows and head against him too. Teixeira goes for an elbow but just misses, then cranks the neck up again and then lands a short elbow. Final minute and Teixeira starting to be more active from the top position and that’s the round. 10-9 Teixeira.
Blachowicz comes out with the jab early and lands a nice left hand combination, before denying Teixeira’s takedown attempt. Big left uppercut from Blachowicz before Teixeira closes the distance and rushes Blachowicz against the cage with a clinch. Blachowicz denies another takedown attempt and is just popping his jab. Teixeira goes wild and lands a big left hand that wobbles Blachowicz! Blachowicz responds with a nice right hand combination that staggers Teixeira himself, but the Brazilian gets a takedown quickly and moves into mount immediately! Teixeira flattens him out and gets the arm under his neck and gets the tap!!! Unbelievable!! AND NEW!!
Shamil Gamzatov (14-0) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (15-4) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An interesting fight at 205lbs between two prospects in the division. Gamzatov is an undefeated stud with one win in the UFC against Klidson Abreu back in 2019. Oleksiejczuk snapped a two fight losing streak last time out with a split decision win over the now released Modestas Bukauskas at UFC 260.
Gamzatov is a good grappler with strong wrestling skills but he’s also got decent power in his hands to try and pressure opponents with. Oleksiejczuk on the other hand is a powerful kickboxer with good cardio and a decent offensive takedown game too. It’s a fight where generally both fighter’s strengths play into the opponent’s weaknesses.
Normally in that scenario you go with the wrestler because they can dictate where the fight goes. ‘Lord’ has got decent takedown defence though and if he can survive the initial blitzes he can land big strikes more as the fight goes on to secure a victory. PICK – Michal Oleksiejczuk via Decision
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (22-7) vs Benoit Saint-Denis (8-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A fun welterweight clash up next as Elizeu Zaleski takes on the undefeated debutant. Zaleski has lost two of his last three in the UFC, with a split decision defeat against Muslim Salikhov at UFC 261 last time out. Saint-Denis has gone 8-0 with a 100% finish rate, including seven submission wins.
Zaleski is a talented kickboxer with great power in his hands and a good ability to scramble to his feet when he is taken down. Saint-Denis on the other hand is the total opposite, who will charge forward for takedowns early and use his natural strength to keep him down and search for finishes. Saint-Denis’ striking is horrendous and if Zaleski can get them to exchange on the feet he has a huge chance.
Zaleski does give up takedowns relative easily though which Saint-Denis will love, but he’s never been submitted in his professional career. He’s good at scrambling back up and in those striking exchanges he has the power to end it. Saint-Denis will slow as the fight goes on and Zaleski will land a nasty combination to secure a highlight reel KO. PICK – Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via Knockout, Round 2
Albert Duraev (14-3) vs Roman Kopylov (8-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A fun middleweight clash in this one as Duraev gets a quick turnaround following his win on Dana White’s Contender Series last month. A neck crank victory earned him a contract and he’s met against prospect Kopylov, who lost his only UFC fight back in 2019.
Duraev is a brilliant wrestler with excellent low kicks and submission skills, while Kopylov is a good kickboxer who has had troubles against grapplers in the past. Stepping in on short-notice, Kopylov will be fighting for the first time in two years but it seems like a rough fight for him.
Kopylov has the edge on the feet but with Duraev’s pressure, wrestling and submission skills the likelihood is he won’t get much of a chance to use that. Duraev is likely to rush him, pound him and then choke him out early to make a big impression. PICK – Albert Duraev via Submission, Round 1
Ricardo Ramos (15-3) vs Zubaira Tukhugov (19-5-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fun featherweight bout up next between a Brazilian and Russian prospect. Ramos earned a win against Bill Algeo at UFC Vegas 27 via decision, while Tukhugov dropped a split decision to Hakeem Dawodu at UFC 253 last time out.
Ramos is a very technical kickboxer with good wrestling skills in his back pocket too, while Tukhugov is your standard beastly wrestler who looks to drag his opponent down over and over again and just wear him out. Ramos secured eight takedowns in his last fight to show his chops, but he has been taken down fairly regularly in his career which doesn’t bode well for him.
Tukhugov has had issues with his cardio in the past that he’ll need to have in check for this fight, but ultimately I think his wrestling his good enough to win at least two rounds and thus the fight. PICK – Zubaira Tukhugov via Decision
Amanda Ribas (10-2) vs Virna Jandiroba (17-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A very interesting and fun women’s strawweight fight is the featured prelim bout on the night. Ribas submitted Paige Van Zant at UFC 251 but then got knocked out by Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257 in January last time out. Jandiroba suffered defeat to Mackenzie Dern at UFC 256 before returning to the win column against Kanako Murata at UFC Vegas 29.
Ribas is a stud grappler, with brilliant submission skills to go with her excellent jiu-jitsu. Her striking isn’t the most crisp, but she can generally hold her own in the stand-up against someone who isn’t a primary striker. Jandiroba is a brilliant wrestler who has shown improved stand-up and great power in her most recent outings. It’s a really intriguing fight because while Ribas is great with her submissions, I wouldn’t say she’s as dangerous as Dern despite her win over her.
Jandiroba’s cardio is unmatched and she is one of the better wrestlers in the division. If she can push the pace against Ribas, who cuts A LOT of weight, and land her power punches mixed in with her wrestling she should be able to secure a really close, entertaining win. PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Decision
Fast start to the fight from Procopio as she comes forward with some nice strikes before clinching up and using he strength and knees. O’Neill fires back with some fine combinations of her own, kneeing back in the clinch too and using her jab well. Procopio fires off some hard leg kicks and big right hands before clinching up again and pushing O’Neill against the cage. Lovely takedown from Procopio sees her on top with 90 seconds left but O’Neill is able to bounce back up very quickly and they start trading strikes again. Procopio using her strength to her advantage and pushing O’Neill against the cage again and the round ends with a scramble. 10-9 Procopio.
Another fast start to the second round but this time from O’Neill, as she marches forward with some good strikes and a knee before Procopio catches it and takes her down. Procopio tries to control position but O’Neill fires off some big elbows from the bottom which forces her to move and allows O’Neill to kick her off and get back up. O’Neill has picked up the pace well and Procopio struggling to cope. O’Neill takes Procopio down and lands some big elbows on the ground from side control, before grinding her elbow across the face of Procopio. Procopio tries to set up a submission from the bottom before a scramble sets up a heel hook attempt, but O’Neill stays heavy on top to defend and sees out the round with ground and pound. 19-19.
O’Neill comes out quickly again and lands some decent strikes before tripping Procopio and immediately transitioning to a crucifix position. O’Neill landing lots of ground and pound strikes but not much damage being done, although Procopio struggling to escape. She finally gets her arm free and O’Neill switches to take her back, then goes full mount and then takes her back again looking for a rear-naked choke. Procopio stands with O’Neill on her back but she locks up the choke and squeezes until Procopio drops unconscious! What a win for O’Neill!
Rick Glenn def Joaquim Silva via Knockout, Round 1 (0:37)
RICKY GLENN!! FIRST LEFT HAND OF THE FIGHT LANDS AND DROPS SILVA! He follows it up with some ground and pound and then drops Silva again and the referee ends it! What a knockout!
Interesting start in this one as Martinez steps forward straight into the pocket to close the distance and starts roughing Parisian up with some clinches and dirty boxing. Some big punches from Martinez against the cage and he lands a huge slicing elbow that cuts Parisian. Parisian fires back with a knee and then two big hooks, but Martinez closes the distance again and just misses with a one-two. Martinez landing some heavy punches, with three nice uppercuts in a clinch and Parisian is struggling.Parisian trying to fight behind a jab but Martinez slips it and counters with a huge overhand right that wobbles Parisian! They clinch up again and Martinez doing plenty of damage as the round ends. 10-9 Martinez.
Parisian takes a dominant position early in the second round, getting hold of Martinez and pushing him against the cage but Martinez is landing lots of strikes to the head to try and get him off. Parisian being very heavy and leaning on Martinez, throwing some nice knees to the body and then a big elbow to the head. More short strikes but Parisian lands an inadvertant knee to the groin to cause a pause in the action. Martinez takes the centre and puts Parisian against the cage now but he gets away and then lands a flush right hand to the chin. Another clinch and Parisian lands three big elbows in a row before they clinch again. Martinez tries to sink in a guillotine but Parisian rolls through and avoids as the round ends. 19-19, big final round incoming.
Final round and Martinez trying to push the pace again, landing a nice four punch flurry while forcing Parisian backwards. Parisian lands a nice left hook but Martinez fires back with a right overhand that connects and Parisian is wobbled! He lands three more strikes but Parisian ties him up and pushes him against the cage. Martinez forces himself off the cage and lands some more strikes but Parisian using his size to try and wear Martinez down again. Parisian looking for a takedown but Martinez denying it well against the cage and forces the break. Martinez comes forward again but Parisian throws a lazy kick to the groin and causes a break with a minute to go. Another clinch once we restart sees both guys throwing short strikes as the round ends. Close third round but I think Martinez should get the nod.
Khaos Williams def Matthew Semelsberger via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)
Very fast start to the fight as Williams explodes with a big punch that cracks Semelsberger right on the nose and wobbles him! Lots of blood coming from the nose as he looks to tie Williams up and recover. They eventually separate and both trade big right hooks, with Semelsberger landing nicely himself. Williams goes for a big combo after catching a kick but Semelsberger steps to the side then lands a big right hand himself to counter. Williams firing first but Semelsberger countering well, good round. 10-9 Khaos.
Early exchange from both guys as they trade powerful hooks but both miss narrowly. Semelsberger lands a flush one-two that stuns Williams but he’s okay. He comes forward again and lands a nice right hook of his own that sends Semelsberger backwards but Semelsberger now is starting to back Williams up more. Williams lands some nice leg kicks and then lands a nice counter right hook of his own as Semelsberger tries to shoot in first himself. Nice one-two again from Semelsberger and his own leg kicks are having an effect on Williams. Good charge across the cage with some wild hooks from Williams to end the round. 19-19 for me but could easily be 20-18 too.
Khaos takes the centre early on in this one and lands a few tight hooks, but Semelsberger is coming forward to try and be first now. Another leg kick gets a reaction, but Williams returns with two of his own. Beautiful combination lands from Williams that ends with a heavy left hook cutting Semelsberger over the eye, but he’s walking gingerly on his front leg now from the leg kicks. Semelsberger not throwing enough volume in this round as Williams lands two more big hooks, but Semelsberger counters with a right hook that just misses. Big right hand from Semelsberger then Williams responds with one of his own before they clinch and end the round. 29-28 Williams for me.
Virna Jandiroba def Kanako Murata via Doctor Stoppage (Arm Injury), Round 2 (5:00)
Fast start to the round from Jandiroba as she comes forward with some decent striking and catches Murata with some big one-twos. Jandiroba lands three big right hands and Murata is wobbled but she evades well and steps back. Murata closes the distance and clinches up and then Jandiroba looks to pull guard from against the cage. Murata slams her down and lands some heavy ground and pound strikes, but Jandiroba eats it and then throws up an armbar! It looks tight but Murata doesn’t tap and is able to step over and eventually get out of it, ending the round on top trying to land ground and pound. 10-9 Jandiroba.
Another good start to the round from Jandiroba as she starts throwing her big right hand early on once again. Murata is eating strikes and her left arm is clearly injured from the armbar in the first round, with Jandiroba landing a huge head kick. She follows it up with some big right hands too and Murata is defenceless at this point but still looking to fight back. 20-18.
The doctor looks at the arm between rounds and tells the referee immediately to wave it off, this one is over. Big win for Virna Jandiroba!
Nicolae Negumereanu def Aleksa Camur via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Good start early on for Camu as he lands a nice jab and is showing feints that Negumereanu is struggling to read. Two more jabs and a power right hand land too and Camur is doing well, then slips a left hand. Negumereanu finally lands a big left hand and Camur is staggered immediately, then starts turning up the pressure and lands big shots. Camur slowing down and getting hit a lot more and Negumereanu is growing into the fight. 10-9 Nicolae.
Second round and Negumereanu does really well with forward pressure and lands another nice left hand early. They clinch up against the cage and Negumereanu has the controlling position, but Camur defending himself well to keep the fight standing. Both fighters start trading hooks in the centre that land, then Negumereanu lands a big left hook before the round ends. 20-18 Nicolae but it’s close and Camur is still in it.
Final round and Negumereanu comes forward with good pressure and heavy strike attempts early on. Camur countering well but Negumereanu keeps coming forward and is really turning the pressure up. Nice jabs and Camur lands some shots of his own but Negumereanu’s chin is unreal right now. Camur goes for a takedown but it’s denied easily and then Negumereanu lands a big elbow and two left hands. Negumereanu puts Camur against the cage and holds him with strikes but gets an incredibly stern warning for holding the fence, when really he should have a point deducted at this point (he’s been warned countless times already). Final 30 seconds and they strike it out to the buzzer. Great fight but should be 30-27 Nicolae.
Matt Brown def Dhiego Lima via Knockout, Round 2 (3:02)
Slow start to this fight from both guys, with Brown taking the centre of the cage and faking for his shots while Lima throws some heavy calf kicks as usual. Nice body kick from Brown before a jab to the body as Lima throws another big calf kick. Lima slips Brown’s jab and hits two hard leg kicks before looking for a takedown, but Brown stuffs it. More hard leg kicks from Lima and while Brown looks for the jab neither guy really taking control. 10-9 Lima but this one is up in the air in reality.
Another close start to the round as Lima comes out early with leg kicks, while Brown moving gingerly already. Lima throws two leg kicks in a row and gets a reaction from Brown, but then he goes for a takedown and Brown stuffs it well. Lima using his strength advantage to get a clinch situation against the cage but Brown is stuffing them well. Lima goes for a right hand but Brown slips it and lands his own right hand straight down the middle and Lima faceplants!!! Oh my what a knockout!!! Matt Brown!!
Bruno Silva def Wellington Turman via Knockout, Round 1 (4:45)
Fast start from Turman who steps forward and goes straight for a takedown against the cage. After some back and forth, Turman is able to lift him and slam him down to the mat but Silva reverses the position and looks to control Turman against the cage. Turman uses a kimura grip to escape and he reverses and goes back to takedowns against the cage. Turman takes the back of Silva who’s standing and is looking for a rear-naked choke. Silva is able to shake him off and ends up in Turman’s guard, firing off big ground and pound strikes from top position. Silva lands a right hand then a left to the temple and Turman is out cold! Silva lands one more as the referee waves it off!! Huge win for Bruno Silva!
Seeungwoo Choi def Julian Erosa via Knockout, Round 1 (1:37)
Powerful start to the fight from Choi as he lands his big right hand on three separate occasions, but Erosa stays standing. Erosa fires back with a left hook but Choi lands another big strike and Erosa looks taken aback by his power. Choi slips, throws a right hand that just misses but follows with a big left hook that drops Erosa!! Choi jumps on with ground and pound and the referee waves it off! Huge win for Choi! Wow!
Marlon Vera def Davey Grant via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-26)
Nice start from both guys with lots of feelers and leg kicks getting thrown in the octagon early. Grant throwing plenty of volume, with high kicks, wheel kicks and some overhand rights but Vera blocking almost everything and taking the centre. Big leg kick misses from Vera and then Grant lands a nice left hook. Grant throws a body kick but Vera catches it and puts him on his back, but Grant makes his way back up to the feet but has a cut on his forehead. Nice leg kick from Grant again but Vera responds with one of his own. Nice right hand from Vera but then he follows that with some heavy leg kicks again and Grant is switching stance. Good round, could be 10-9 either way.
Vera takes the centre in the second round and starts throwing teep kicks to the body as well as leg kicks. Vera upping the pace a little and lands a nice left hook but Grant comes back with some hooks of his own. Thai clinch from Vera and he throws four big elbow to the face that open up a big cut on Grant’s head. Head kick from Grant before another elbow from Vera and a knee to the body. Clinch and Grant manages to throw Vera onto his back and ends up in top position. Vera looks for a triangle then tries to escape but Grant keeps him down and takes side control. Nice elbows from Grant but Vera rolls out of a guillotine attempt to end up on top and start raining down ground and pound to end the round. Another close one, I think that could be Vera’s though. 19-19.
Great start to the third round from Vera again as he presses forward, gets a takedown and locks up the back. He goes for a rear-naked choke but Grant escapes, then Vera moves into full mount with an arm-triangle. Again he escapes and they end up back on the feet, when Grant lands a huge left hook that staggers Vera! Vera blocks the next one and lands a lovely straight elbow to the head and starts attacking the body of Grant and he’s hurt. Vera trips him and gets on top again and lands another big elbow that hurts Grant, then a big body shot as Grant tries to get back to his feet. One minute to go and Grant looks for a kimura but Vera defending it very well and is able to escape it and get into full mount. Grant surviving and gives up his back but Vera sinks in a rear-naked choke! Grant refuses to tap and sees out the fight! What a fight, should be a Vera win.
Serghei Spivac def Aleksei Oleinik via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Encouraging start from Spivac as he is able to escape from an immediate clinch attempt from Oleinik before landing a really nice left hook. Spivac keeping his distance and lands a nice right hand again on his break, but Oleinik fires off a hard leg kick. Oleinik goes for a single leg takedown but Spivac defends it well and currently looks too strong for Oleinik. Nice overhand right lands from Oleinik but Spivac counters with a big uppercut too. Spivac right hook misses by inches and Oleinik goes to clinch again, but Spivac clinches and finally manages to get his back and drags him down to the ground. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik is looking for a head and arm choke but then he moves into full mount and goes for a scarf hold but the buzzer goes. 10-9 Oleinik.
Second round starts and Oleinik is walking Spivac down, but the pace is slow and the power is waivering on his punches. Spivac keeps moving and then Oleinik clinches and pulls guard, which allows Spivac to throw a few strikes on the ground. Oleinik looking to sweep from the bottom but Spivac starts throwing elbows. Oleinik starts looking for submission but Spivac is controlling the position with power and landing some nice elbows and ground strikes. Spivac goes for an anaconda choke but Oleinik escapes and rolls into full mount. He switches to the scarf hold again but once more, the buzzer goes. 19-19.
Oleinik is absolutely exhausted going into the final round and Spivac opens up with a big right hook that opens a cut on Oleinik’s head. He goes for a takedown again but Spivac denies it and then lands some big shots while Oleinik is on his knees, forcing him to get up quickly. Oleinik still walking forward and throwing his big overhand right before he goes for another takedown against the cage. Spivac ends up on top and starts throwing some short elbows. Less than a minute to go and Oleinik starts throwing strikes off his back but Spivac fires back from a more dominant position and sees the round out that way. 29-28 Spivac for me.
Korean Zombie def Dan Ige via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x2, 48-47)
Nice, competitive start as Jung takes the centre and throws a nice leg kick early, then follows up with a left straight. Ige throws a few leg kicks of his own then smashes a big body shot in range and then steps out. Ige goes for another big looping hook but Jung times it and shoots under it for a takedown. Zombie on top but Ige explodes out from under him and they both get back to the feet. Zombie lands a big right hand and smells blood but Ige retreats and seems okay now. Zombie lands some nice jabs and sees out the round. Close, but 10-9 Zombie.
Both guys trade leg kicks early in the second round, with Zombie using his reach to land first as it stands. Zombie landing jabs nicely and disguising the calf kicks well too, but Ige still trying to come forward too. Nice right hand from Zombie lands and Ige shoots for a takedown, but his defence is too good and he denies it. Heavy leg kick again from Zombie but Ige shows no reaction. Ige goes for another takedown but Zombie defends it and in a scramble ends up on Ige’s back looking for a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes. 20-18 Zombie.
Ige comes out aggressive in the third but Zombie immediately flicks out the jab and ends up in top position after getting a takedown. Ige throwing big elbows from the bottom but the Zombie lands a big slicing elbow of his own. Zombie stacks him and lands a nice shot then takes the back of Ige and goes for a rear-naked choke but Ige fighting the hands and just about surviving. Zombie has a body triangle locked up and he’s throwing some good strikes but Ige looking to tie him up and prevent the submission. Zombie goes for a crank with ten seconds to go but no chance of getting it and the buzzer goes. 30-27 Zombie, dominant so far.
Tight fourth round now as Zombie is pumping out the jab and Ige is being far more aggressive. Zombie trying to counter strike while Ige looks for an opening and he lands a big right hand. He moves for a double jab then clinches up but Zombie just moves him away and resets. Big right hand from Ige again but Zombie eats it and lands a nice counter left-hook. Ige having a much better round this time but then throws a body kick and Zombie catches it, throws a straight right hand and then gets taken down with a minute left in the round. Zombie stacks Ige and lands a bit of ground and pound before the round ends. 39-37 Zombie.
Ige knows he needs a finish and comes forward aggressively early on, but Zombie looks very composed and calm just staying behind his jab. Ige throws a nice shot to the body and follows it with a left hook and it hits hard. Zombie didn’t like it so Ige does it twice more, then stuffs a Zombie takedown! Zombie lands a nice right hand counter but Ige goes to the body again. Another takedown attempt that Ige denies but Zombie lets the jab go again. Both guys trade body shots then Zombie lands a knee that hurts Ige and he’s able to drag him down and take his back with a body triangle again. Zombie just riding out the clock as Ige tries to escape but Zombie just too strong on the ground and sees out the clock for a big win. 49-46 Zombie.
The UFC returns to the APEX this weekend for a featherweight banger of a main event as ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chang Sung Jung takes on Dan Ige.
Both men have earned a reputation as one of the better guys at 145lbs but having previously lost to the best of the best, they want to prove they’re not nearly men by getting a win in this main event.
In this 12 fight card, you also have two heavyweights in the co-main event as Aleksei Oleinik takes on Serghei Spivac while Davey Grant takes a step up in competition to take on Marlon Vera at bantamweight.
Last week at UFC 263 we had an incredible night of picks, going 10/14 with NINE perfect picks to take us up to 338/530 (63.77%) with 151 perfect picks (44.67%). We’ll look to improve that record here, starting with the six prelim bouts.
Casey O’Neill (6-0) vs Lara Procopio (7-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Both O’Neill and Procopio are very effective strikers with excellent grappling skills and are very evenly matched up. Both women have three finishes each in their career, with three submissions and three KO’s combined. O’Neill is the more aggressive takedown artist and looks to land more damage from the top position, while Procopio is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. She tends to look for control more from the top and is more reserved and slightly more experienced too.
It’s really hard to call in all honesty, because O’Neill is likely to land more damage however I think Procopio will be able to use her BJJ skills to control the grappling scenarios slightly more and just edge a win. PICK – Lara Procopio via Decision
Joaquim Silva (11-3) vs Rick Glenn (21-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A fun lightweight bout between two well thought of 155lbers in this one as Joaquim Silva takes on a returning Ricky Glenn. Silva makes his return to the octagon after just under two years away following a loss to Nasrat Haqparast, while Glenn returns after nearly three years away following major hip surgery where he lost to Kevin Aguilar.
It’s tough to make a prediction on this one considering they’ve been away from the cage for so long, but both guys are absolute warriors who look to slug it out from the opening bell to the end of the fight. Both guys have power with 17 KO wins between them (6-11 split) and plenty of durability too.
Silva has been away for less time and the fact that Glenn had most of his career at featherweight, I think Silva’s size will be enough to earn him victory. PICK – Joaquim Silva via Decision
Josh Parisian (13-4) vs Roque Martinez (15-7-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Parisian is a lengthy boxer type, but he has no idea how to use that reach and length to his advantage. Martinez is a brawler who will look to get into the pocket and swing away, with relatively good cardio despite what his physique might tell you. If Martinez keeps the pressure on and walks forward he’ll have a much better chance of getting a victory but Parisian has the attributes to keep him at bay if needs be.
Unfortunately for Martinez, I do think he will use those attributes. Martinez will push the pace and make it ugly which will just suit him better but I think Parisian mixes his attacks up enough to earn a win. PICK – Josh Parisian via Decision
Khaos Williams (11-2) vs Matthew Semelsberger (8-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Both these guys are absolute power strikers, who look to land strikes down the middle and take their opponent’s head off. Semelsberger throws more combinations and has a good gas tank but he has been knocked out before and if Khaos hits you clean it could well be night night. Semelsberger will look to overwhelm with volume to earn a stoppage but Khaos has a solid chin and I think he’ll be able to withstand it.
With his legit one-punch KO power, it’s hard to go against Williams in this one – but it’s a close fight either way. PICK – Khaos Williams via Knockout, Round 1
Kanako Murata (12-1) vs Virna Jandiroba (16-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A very exciting strawweight fight as Kanako Murata makes her UFC return against the excellent Virna Jandiroba. Murata has won her last eight in a row with four submissions including her debut win over Randa Markos at UFC Vegas 14, while Jandiroba looks to bounce back from a defeat to Mackenzie Dern at UFC 256.
Murata is a tremendous wrestler and is arguably now the best in the division when it comes to that specific skill, but Jandiroba is a stunning submission artists with all 13 of her stoppages coming via tap out. Murata chases takedowns no matter the opposition and during her Invicta career she took on another submission artist who almost submitted her.
Jandiroba won’t let the opportunity go and with her world class judo she may even get a takedown or three of her own, so I think Jandiroba gets the submission win from her back. PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Submission, Round 2
Aleksa Camur (6-1) vs Nicolae Negumereanu (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
An intriguing fight at 205lbs as Camur looks to recover from the first defeat of his career when he takes on Negumereanu who fights for the first time in over two years. Camur beat Justin Ledet in his UFC debut but was beaten by William Knight last time out at UFC 253, while Negumereanu lost his last fight via decision in March 2019.
Camur is a solid striker on the feet, with great power and accuracy but some wild technique in his arsenal while Negumereanu has as padded a record as you’re likely to see. ‘Nicu’ will need to look for takedowns and push the pace to keep Camur away from striking distance, but being capable after so long away isn’t likely.
Unless Negumereanu has improved drastically while he’s been away, I think Camur keeps the distance, avoids the takedowns and gets the win. PICK – Aleksa Camur via Decision
Chase Hooper def Peter Barrett via Submission, Round 3 (3:02)
Good start to the round for Barrett as the two meet in the middle and he immediately sprawls to deny a takedown attempt. Hooper throwing some kicks to keep his opponent at range, but Barrett is landing nice, powerful strikes. Hooper looks uncomfortable in the striking exchanges, but suffers a low blow as both men throw a kick at the same time. A second low blow soon after causes another pause and the referee gives Barrett a warning. Barrett defends a takedown attempt but Hooper rolls through and attacks the leg, looking to sink in a heel hook. He looks like he’s synching it up as the buzzer goes! Close. 10-9 Hooper.
Second round and Barrett throws some heavy leg kicks that have a visible effect on the youngster. Hooper limping heavy and shoots for a takedown but Barrett stuffs it and stands back up immediately. Hooper dives in for an imanari roll and the two battle for position before eventually getting back to the feet. Barrett lands some nice punches and takes the round. 19-19.
Third round now and Hooper switches to southpaw and keeps throwing kicks and strikes to avoid more damage to his leg. Hooper dives in with another imanari roll and this time Barrett is in danger. Hooper throws some strikes to the head, which Barrett keeps headbutting to avoid losing his two-on-one grip. Hooper manages to break the grip, switches the heel hook to the opposite side and torques it beautifully for the submission win. Beautifully done and a great win.
Tecia Torres def Sam Hughes via Knockout (Doctor stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)
A quick start to this fight by Torres who uses her experience early on and is landing some big shots despite the reach disadvantage. Torres lands a big flurry and backs Hughes up against the cage and she looks hurt, but Hughes clinches up to protect herself. Torres gets out of it and starts landing more big shots, causing Hughes’ nose to bleed. Big superman punch lands and she’s throwing combos, while slipping out of the way of Hughes’ attacks. Dominant opening round from the veteran.
The doctor waves the fight off between rounds as Sam Hughes says she cannot see out of her left eye. Hugely impressive win for Torres.
Gavin Tucker def Billy Quarantillo via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Fast pace to start the round as Tucker comes out and lands some big straight shots early. Nice body kick lands too but Quarantillo lands a looping right hand followed by a body kick that looks like it may have hurt Tucker. Clinch against the cage and both men battle for position before they separate. Tucker landing jabs and then a big head kick! Straight right hand again and it forces Quarantillo to shoot for a takedown which Tucker defends well against the cage, before getting a trip of his own and ending the round on top. 10-9 Tucker.
Second round and Tucker’s body work is starting to take over in this fight. Lots of jabs landing with ease and the straight line shots are landing while Quarantillo is looping shots and missing. Every time they clinch together, Tucker is landing big knees to the body and it’s slowing Quarantillo down. Clinch against the cage now and Tucker manages to hold him down before landing a trip as they get back up. Tucker transitions onto his back and looks for a choke but Quarantillo reverses the position and gets back to his feet. More strikes on the feet from both guys as the round ends. Another Tucker round for me. 20-18.
Tucker comes out aggressively once again, stick and moving with punches and securing takedowns again. Tucker looks to get onto his back for a choke but Quarantillo defends it well and eventually gets back to the feet. More strikes from Tucker as he just is dominating this round. Quarantillo looking to get wild and lands a big knee but once again Tucker gets the takedown. He dominates the round, and the fight in total, for a big win.
Rafael Fiziev def Renato Moicano via Knockout, Round 1 (4:05)
A tactical start to this fight as both men start the feeling out process with feints before Fiziev lands a hard leg kick. Some nice body kicks from Fiziev land too but Moicano fires back with a straight right hand and some head kicks too. Moicano lands a big overhand right hand that lands flush and then shoots for a takedown but Fiziev stuffs it well then comes forward with a right hand of his own. Fiziev throws a big left hook to the body, followed by a right hand flush to the jaw and a left hand that drops Moicano stiff!! He jumps on him for the ground and pound but the referee jumps in (maybe a bit early!?) but a hugely impressive win for Fiziev.
Cub Swanson def Daniel Pineda via Knockout, Round 2 (1:52)
A fun start to the fight as Swanson moves forward to start throwing straight right hands down the pipe. Pineda responds with a few of his own and a big leg kick. The leg kicks keep coming and Swanson’s leg gives out under him. Pineda looks for a submission but Swanson defends well. They get back to the feet and Swanson begins landing more and more power punches, Pineda is hurt! Swanson looking to finish it but he’s taking his time with it and eventually the round ends with Pineda still hurt. 10-9 Swanson.
Swanson comes out in the second round in a very karate-based style to protect that left leg and Pineda still looks a bit woozy. Swanson starts throwing combinations with speed and avoiding the wild swings of Pineda. Swanson lands an uppercut, left hook, uppercut, left hook, right cross combination that puts Pineda out!! What a knockout! What a performance from Cub Swanson.
Ciryl Gane def Junior Dos Santos via Knockout, Round 2 (2:34)
A feeling out process opens this fight up as Gane takes the centre and fires in some leg kicks while Dos Santos looks to jab to the body. Gane using his kicks to keep Dos Santos away at range, mixing up the speed of the kicks to rest JDS’ reaction time and blocks. A low blow from Gane lands accidentally and causes a brief pause in the action but Gane is bouncing around the octagon and landing from range, while avoiding Dos Santos’ power strikes. Big, wild swings from Dos Santos graze Gane to end the round, but it’s the Frenchman who takes this round. 10-9.
Second round is more of the same as Gane continues to throw these leg kicks from range while Dos Santos is throwing wild hooks. JDS is struggling to close the distance and Gane looks very comfortable so far. Big leg kick hurts Dos Santos and he’s visibly hurting. Gane lands a jab that stuns Dos Santos and he follows it up with two big elbows that drop the former champion before the referee steps in to end the fight. Huge win for Gane and he remains undefeated. Super impressive.
Kevin Holland def Jacare Souza via Knockout, Round 1 (1:45)
The two men meet in the middle and Jacare shoots for a double leg straight off the bat. Holland throws up a triangle immediately and rains down elbows that hurt Jacare! They scramble back up to the feet and Jacare looks for another takedown but Holland defends brilliantly. He ends up on his back but is still throwing big shots off his back. He throws an elbow that stuns Jacare, creates space with his legs and lands two vicious right hooks that rock Jacare and then he stands up and pummels him until the referee steps in. What an incredible win. What a knockout!
Mackenzie Dern def Virna Jandiroba via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Fast paced start to this fight as the two ladies seem keen to keep this one standing, knowing their opponent excels on the ground. Dern throwing big hooks and flurries with speed to force Jandiroba backwards, but nothing significant landing just yet. Big overhand right from Jandiroba cracks Dern square above the eye but Dern eats it. Dern goes for a takedown finally but Janidroba defends it well against the cage to keep the bout standing. Nice on two lands for Jandiroba before they meet and clinch as the buzzer goes. That round could go either way, but I give it to Dern for coming forward more. 10-9.
Quick pace to the second round too as Dern’s speed continues to see her land some nice strikes. Dern starting to loop her strikes and Jandiroba is reading them well and countering with shots of her own. Jandiroba countering with nice knees to the body and a straight right before Dern lands an accidental eye poke that causes a pause in the action. Following the pause both women come out very aggressive and Dern looks for a takedown but eats a big knee that breaks her nose and causes a lot of blood. Jandiroba gets the takedown and blood is flowing into the eyes but both women battling for position. Dern looks to roll through into a leg lock but the buzzer goes. 19-19 going into the third. What a fight.
Third round and it’s more of the same as both women know it’s pretty even now. Jandiroba lands some clean right hands and Dern giving it back too! Jandiroba pushes forward with the jab but Dern returns it with a big one-two that rocks Jandiroba. She shoots for a takedown against the cage but Jandiroba stuffs it and looks to work some more damage. Clinch against the cage as we enter the final 30 seconds and Jandiroba pulls guard (?!) looking for a submission but Dern is alert, stays on top and ends the round landing ground and pound. Super close fight, I lean towards Jandiroba but could go either way.
Charles Oliveira def Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x3)
Quick start to the round as Oliveira comes forward looking to land straight punches and then lands a heavy leg kick. Ferguson spins and lands some nice punches himself before they clinch together against the cage. Oliveira immediately lifts Ferguson and slams him down to the mat then controls Ferguson on the ground for the remainder of the round. He locks in a deep armbar with seconds to go but Ferguson completely refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. Wow. 10-8 Oliveira.
Second round starts and Ferguson can’t move his left arm at all. Oliveira throws a few kicks to the body to test it, gets no reaction and then takes the fight back down to the ground. Ferguson throws some elbows off his back and cuts Oliveira above the eye but then lands an up-kick to a downed opponent, causing a pause in the action. Upon the restart, Oliveira is able to stack Ferguson against the cage and is just dominating him on the ground for the entire round. 20-17 Oliveira.
Oliveira comes out in the third and throws an uppercut and pops his jab. Ferguson goes for a big hook but Oliveira goes for the takedown and once again lifts and slams him down. Immediately passes into full mount and starts moving Ferguson wherever he likes. Total domination from Oliveira as he transitions into a triangle attempt, then moves off into top control again. He ends the round on top once again, but that was absolute domination from start to finish. 30-25 for me.
Aggressive start from the champion as he opens with a spinning back kick to the body before a clinch attempt from Moreno ends up with a scramble on the ground. Figueiredo manages to get back up to the feet and lands a couple of stiff jabs, but Moreno returns with a few of his own. Head kick lands from Moreno but then Figueiredo lands one back. A very fun round, but the champ edges it. 10-9.
Second round and the pace is still so quick. Moreno lands a nice overhand right before the champ lands a spinning back kick to the body once again. Nice leg kick from Figueiredo before both men end up in a scramble on the mat again. As the champ looks to push off he accidentally lands a finger in the eye and the action is paused. Fight is restarted on the ground and Figueiredo gets back to the feet with both guys throwing bombs! Figueiredo lands a big combo to the body and head and hurts Moreno! The Mexican is in clear pain with his eye swelling but he lands a takedown to end the round. 20-18 Figueiredo but it’s close.
Third round and Figueiredo is swinging haymakers but Moreno is game and very much in this! Figueiredo lands a nasty body shot combo with a left hook but Moreno is still there and fires back with a head kick and left hook of his own. Figueiredo is throwing huge, wild hooks and missing big. He throws a front kick that lands flush on the cup and Moreno is hurt bad. The referee takes a point off Figueiredo and the two fighters push forward again. Figueiredo goes for a takedown but Moreno gets back to the feet and lands a big right hook before the buzzer to take the round. With the deduction that makes it 28-28 on my card.
Into the championship rounds and Brandon Moreno is flying! Big strikes from Moreno as he lands hooks, jabs and kicks before Figueiredo looks for a takedown. Moreno reverses the position and ends up on top against the cage. Figueiredo gets back to his feet and both men start throwing bombs and they’re both wobbling! Figueiredo looks dazed and Moreno is landing first when they exchange but the champ is still standing and banging. Big left jab from Moreno lands but then Figueiredo returns fire with two big hooks and a body shot that force Moreno to shoot for the takedown! Moreno lands on top but Figueiredo gets back up to his feet and Moreno lands three big shots to end the round. 38-37 Moreno going into the final round for me.
Final round and Figueiredo throws three beautiful body kicks and follows it up with some big punches. The commentary team point out that Moreno may have broken his left forearm at some point blocking kicks in this round. Moreno isn’t throwing much because of it, but Figueiredo landing good shots. Big right hand from Figueiredo snaps the head back but Moreno still coming forward. Clinch against the cage inside the final minute, Figueiredo switches the position and ends up putting Moreno on the ground landing ground and pound to end the fight. 47-47 for me, I’ve got it as a draw. What a fight.
This takes our total up to 181/282 correct picks (64.18%) with 80 correct picks (44.2%). Lets see if we can improve that on this card, starting with the prelims here.
Chase Hooper (9-1-1) vs Peter Barrett (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A clash between two prospects in the featherweight division as Hooper looks to bounce back from his first career defeat against Alex Caceres in June. He takes on Barrett who lost his UFC debut against Youssef Zalal in August. Hooper is a solid grappler with great choke skills, who doesn’t have the greatest striking chops, while Barrett is the complete opposite. Hooper’s first step up in competition saw him beaten, but Barrett is way below the level of Caceres and Hooper sits somewhere between the two. If Barrett can keep the fight standing he has a chance but his takedown defence isn’t great so I expect Hooper to be able to get him down and eventually choke him out. PICK – Chase Hooper vs Submission, Round 2
Sergey Spivak (11-2) vs Jared Vanderra (11-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight clash between two prospects as 25 year old Spivak looks to make it back-to-back wins, following his win over Carlos Felipe in July. A hard hitter who has good submission skills, Spivak has six of his ten wins from inside the distance via tap out. Vanderra makes his UFC debut following a first-round knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series. You tend to see him at his best when he’s in top position using his ground and pound. If the fight stays standing, Spivak wins the kickboxing battle quite comfortably but if it hits the ground it’s all about who ends up on top. It should be close, but I’m backing the younger fighter to come away with a win. PICK – Sergey Spivak via Decision
Tecia Torres (11-5) vs Sam Hughes (5-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A bit of a throw away fight on this card as veteran Tecia Torres takes on the short-notice replacement Sam Hughes, after Angela Hill’s positive COVID-19 test ruled her out. Torres is a striker who uses her karate background to maintain distance and flurrys of punches while Hughes is a good submission grappler with three of her five wins coming via tap-out. Torres has more experience, better chops on the feet when it comes to striking and has sufficient submission defence to cope with anything that Hughes can throw at her, so she should waltz to a comfortable decision win. PICK – Tecia Torres via Decision
Gavin Tucker (12-1) vs Billy Quarantillo (15-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun fight in this one as Gavin Tucker looks to make it three wins in a row against hot prospect Billy Quarantillo. Tucker beat Justin Jaynes in August with a third round submission, while Quarantillo is currently on an eight-fight win streak after a knockout win against Kyle Nelson in September. Tucker’s sole defeat in his career came against a fighter who he should be able to control but was relentless with high output, much like Quarantillo. He has more experience now, but Quarantillo is arguably a better fighter than that Glenn was and he should be able to outwork Tucker for another win. PICK – Billy Quarantillo via Decision
Renato Moicano (14-3-1) vs Rafael Fiziev (8-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
One of the best fights on the card as former featherweight Renato Moicano takes on the highly impressive Fiziev. Moicano made his 155lbs debut last time out against Damir Hadzovic in March, where he won with a 44 second submission. Fiziev had his UFC break-out on Fight Island, defeating Mark Diakiese via unanimous decision. Fiziev is a stunning striker, who coaches at Tiger MMA as the kickboxing coach. He’s a fantastic kicker and has great power in his hands too, while Moicano is all about the grappling and clinches. While Fiziev has great takedown defence and a good sambo background, he hasn’t fought anyone of the level of Moicano in MMA before. Moicano has the experience to deal with his striking skills and fight his way to a big decision win in an entertaining fight. PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision
Cub Swanson (26-11) vs Daniel Pineda (27-13 2NC) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
UFC veteran Cub Swanson finally got back in the win column following four defeats in a row when he beat Kron Gracie 14 months ago. Daniel Pineda got back into the UFC after a six year absence when he knocked out the high flying Herbert Burns in August. Pineda is a super dangerous fighter who has finished all of his 27 wins, with 19 coming via submission. Swanson is very talented in all areas but against the top fighters in recent times he has struggled. Pineda has great in both striking and grappling realms and should have enough about him to end Swanson’s UFC career. PICK – Daniel Pineda via Submission, Round 2