Boston Salmon (6-1) vs. Khalid Taha (12-2): Kicking off the night are two impressive strikers that are new to the UFC. This will be Taha's second, coming off a loss, and Salmon's debut after winning a Contender Series fight two years ago. Salmon has 4 knockout wins and his opponent Taha has almost double that not including his "submission" in which his opponent tapped to ground-and-pound. Both of these men are aggressive power hitters. Salmon prefers to push the pace even though he doesn't have great head movement and Taha sits back a bit and lands lethal counters when his opponent tries to get close. I'm calling this a knockout in the first for Taha because Salmon has the exact fight style that Taha has become so good at countering. - Mike W
I believe Salmon will grab a win in round 2 and do so with a 2nd round TKO. - Matt K
Max Griffin (14-6) vs. Zelim Imadaev (8-0): Up next is a guy having a rough time since joining the UFC versus an undefeated opponent looking to make a name for himself with his debut tonight. Imadaev has won all 8 of his fights by knockout and more than half were done in the first round. I don't have much information on him and he hasn't really shown much in the form of grappling, but he has proven to be a monster when it comes to striking. He has a lot of power in his hands and utilizes his elbows and knees very well. His opponent Max Griffin was 12-2 when he debuted in the UFC and has gone 2-4 since. In his career he has 7 knockouts and 2 submissions with half a dozen first round finishes. He is also a decorated martial artist as a 2nd degree black belt in kickboxing, a black belt in Bok Fu (mix of kenpo, taekwondo and Kung Fu) and a black belt in Marinoble's fight system. (created by Dave Marinoble as a blend of various forms of jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Sanshou) I think Imadaev's streak is going to stay. Griffin has an awful striking defense as of late and Imadaev drops bombs. I think we are going to see another straight knockout in the first or second. - Mike W
I love Max Griffin but I agree with Mike on this one as Zelim Imadaev is just going to be too much for him. Zelim wins by 1st round KO. - Matt K
(#4) Wilson Reis (23-9) vs. (#5) Alexandre Pantoja (20-3): Next up is what I believe should have been the main event for the prelims considering it's two top 5 flyweights. Wilson Reis is a dangerous jiu-jitsu artist being a black belt and winning a world championship while he was still a brown belt. He has backed that up with 10 submission wins in MMA and 7 of them occurred in the first round. He is not a great striker, but he is an aggressive and skilled grappler. He may only have a takedown success rate of 43%, but he lands an average of 5 takedowns a fight meaning he attempts more than 10 a fight. His opponent is a much better all-around fighter. While his official ranks aren't known, Alexandre Pantoja has 8 wins by submission and 6 wins by knockout. Pantoja lands more than double the amount of strikes as his opponents but takes about the same amount. Pantjoa's takedown defense is alright at 60% but this fight will definitely see ground time. I think this fight is going to go to decision with both fighters working the ground and clinch a lot and Pantoja will get the win due to landing more strikes. - Mike W
Pantoja will win this fight by out fighting Wilson as WIlson is a boring take you down and grapple hug you fighter. Wilson doesn't look to finish he looks to rely on the judges and Pantoja will come out and grab a late round 3 TKO. - Matt K
Jalin Turner (8-4) vs. Matt Frevola (6-1-1): Up first is Matt Frevola who is looking to make his third UFC appearance his first win in the octagon. He lands a good amount of strikes with about 5 significant per minute, but also takes 6.5 a minute. Frevola only has a 33% takedown success rate and still lands an average of two a fight meaning he attempts an average of 6 a fight which is what lead up to his 3 submission victories. His opponent is Jalin Turner who is 1-1 in the UFC and coming off a win. He has finished all of his wins with 7 knockouts and 1 submission with all of them being first round stoppages. Turner leads the whole card with an average of 8.5 significant strikes per minute and the significant only account for half of his total landed strikes. He also has a perfect takedown defense. I think this fight will mainly be Turner needing to defend takedowns and responding with strikes. I see Frevola going for a takedown from distance and Turner rocking him with a flurry and pouncing for a first round TKO. - Mike W
I 100% agree with Mike, Jalin Turner is a freak and picks up a 1st round win but i have it a straight KO. - Matt K
(#12) Ovince Saint Preux (23-12) vs. Nikita Krylov (24-6): It's time for the main card and here is a rematch of a fight from 5 years ago. Ovince Saint Preux won last time via submission and has gone 9-7 since while Krylov has gone 9-2. Krylov has won all of his wins via stoppage with 14 submissions and 10 knockouts with 20 in the first. OSP has won 11 fights by knockout and 7 by submission with 14 first round finishes. Krylov lands more than double the amount of strikes than OSP and gets hit almost half as much. OSP is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Krylov is a black belt in kyokushin karate and a Master of Sport in hand-to-hand combat and submission fighting. I see this fight going a different way than last time and I see Krylov making this a standing matchup and outclass OSP by striking. I'm calling a first round TKO victory for Nikita Krylov. - Mike W
Nikkita Krylov wins, I once again agree, but I believe it takes until round 2 to grab that TKO win. - Matt
Alan Jouban (16-6) vs. Dwight Grant (9-2): Next up I believe will be almost completely a striking match. Dwight Grant has won 7 of his 9 by knockout and just over half were in the first. He isn't a super high volume fighter, but all of his shots look like bombs. He has a perfect takedown success rate and a pretty close defense at 83%. His opponent only has 1 submission victory of his 11 stoppages, but he has the skillset to take this where he wants it. Alan Jouban is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and although I couldn't find an official rank he has been training Muay Thai for 13 years. In the fights I've seen Jouban pushes the pace much harder than Grant and for that I think it will go in his favor. Grant is mostly punches with some elbows where Jouban incorporates kicks and knees as well. I think both of these fighters will put a beating on each other in the first then in the second Jouban will land a big shot that will drop Grant for a knockout. - Mike W
I agree with Mike here on the winner, but I believe Jouban needs less than 3 minutes to grab this win via TKO. - Matt K
Eryk Anders (11-3) vs. Khalil Rountree (7-3): Continuing on this trend of predicted knockouts, this matchup has probably two of the heaviest-hitting light heavyweights that aren't ranked. Khalil Rountree has won 5 fights by knockout and all five were in the first round. He isn't that experienced on the ground but throws punches and knees that put people to sleep. His opponent is also a monster with 7 knockouts and almost all were in the first round. Anders averages 2 takedowns a fight and Rountree has only defended half of the takedowns against him. I think Anders will be able to take this fight to the ground and take control. I see Anders getting a TKO victory in either the first or second. - Mike W
I 100% disagree with Mike on this one I love Eryk but Rountree at LHW is a terrifying concept and I believe he KO's Eryk early in round 2 to make some people pay attention to him fast. - Matt K
(#4) Kelvin Gastelum (15-3) vs. (#5) Israel Adesanya (16-0): The co-main event will be to determine the Interim Middleweight Champ and will be the next person to fight Whittaker for the title. First up is the undefeated Israel Adesanya. Adesanya has won 13 of his fights by knockout and more than half were in the first. He has a rich background in striking with a 22-5 professional kickboxing record, 5-1 pro boxing record, 12 years of Muay Thai training and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. On paper, Adesanya has the best striking defense on the entire card with his opponents only landing an average of 2 strikes per minute. He also has a takedown defense of 85% and when he does get taken down it only takes him an average of 13 seconds to stand back up. Kelvin Gastelum has 6 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with half of them in the first round. He was a state champion wrestler in high school then dropped out of college after a year to pursue MMA full-time. From there he obtained a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, he averages less than a minute of clinch and ground time per round meaning he spends most of his time in distance striking which in my opinion is the most unsafe place to be against Adesanya. On top of that Adesanya has an 8 inch reach advantage and utilizes kicks very well so I don't think Gastelum will have an opportunity to be effective. I'm predicting Adesanya to get a big knockout in the second round and become the Interim Middleweight Champion. - Mike W
Gastelum is lucky he is here. Ali has gotten him here, its that simple. Kelvin really didn't beat Jacare, I've watched that fight 4 times. He is bad at takedowns, but calls himself a great wrestler and is unprofessional and couldn't make weight until the UFC forced him to this division. He is a disrespectful prick with his little antics about Whittaker who had a situation which could have killed him inside the cage if he fought but his Staph ridden ass thought he should borrow his little girlfriend Cejudo's belt and claim he was a champ. Well he won't be a champ here as Gastelum is a decent striker, but he has a massive reach disadvantage against against one of the most agile slick strikers in the UFC. Kelvin will just be simply outclassed in this fight as Adesanya's loud overrated mouth isn't getting the true test he needs in this division here. Regardless that Isreal really isn't ready for a title shot he is going to slaughter Kelvin and pick up a 3rd round KO after dominating rounds 1 and 2 and head into his first defeat down the road against Whittaker. - Matt K
(FWC) Max Holloway (20-3) vs. (#3) Dustin Poirier (24-5): Main event time ladies and gentlemen and here is the second Interim title fight between a top ranked lightweight and the current featherweight champion. It is also a rematch of a fight back in 2012 and both fighters are wildly different since then. Poirier is coming in on a 5 fight undefeated streak. In his career he won a dozen fights by knockout and 7 more by submission. He lands almost 6 significant strikes a minute and takes a little less than four. He also averages 2 takedowns per fight with a 70% takedown defense. His opponent is undoubtedly the best featherweight of all time. Max Holloway is currently on a 13 fight win streak which is tied for the 2nd longest active win streak in the UFC. He holds the records for win streak and most total wins in the featherweight division. He is tied for most knockouts in the division and holds the record for most strikes landed in a single match. Holloway takes about the same amount of strikes as his opponent, but he lands more. Regardless of both men excelling at finishes I am going to say this will go the distance. I believe it's going to be one of those long title fights were they both go to war and nobody is able to secure a finish. With that being said I think Holloway will do his usual amount of work and win this due to striking differential. - Mike W
Look i don't know who is going to win this fight. We all have favorite fighters in the organization and these two men are two of my absolute all time favorites and their skill sets are insane. People say Holloway is on a roll that can't be stopped but the clean accurate striking of the Diamond with the ground skills in his back pocket could be too much. If Holloway wins I believe it will be decision while if Poirier wins I believe it will be a knockdown leading to a RNC in the early rounds. I honestly can't pick but those are the ways I see the two men possibly winning. - Matt K
ESPN + Prelims:
Hannah Cifers (8-3) vs. Polyana Viana (10-2): Hannah wins this tough fight by way of split decision. Should be a good fight to kick off the night. – Matt K
Gina Mazany (5-2) vs. Macy Chiasson (4-0): This fight has some heat between the two women. I think Macy Chiasson is rolling and picks up a win unanimous decision. – Matt K
Edmen Shahbazyan (8-0) vs. Charles Byrd (10-5): This fight is a fire fight that will make ESPN + prelims worth the watch. I am so excited for this middleweight brawl. Edmen is an unstoppable force and will grab a 3rd round TKO after a crazy fun fight. – Matt K
Diego Sanchez (30-11) vs. Mickey Gall (5-1): We are kicking off tonight's fantastic card with fireworks. This fight is between someone who has finished all of his fights and a veteran who used to be one of the most dangerous fighters to be stuck against. Mickey Gall has ended all of his fights via submission and only one of them wasn't in the first round. He is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and blue belt in Muay Thai and uses his skills to swarm his opponent, get them down and lock in the submission. His opponent is the great, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez has put on many instant classics and was once almost unstoppable. As a matter of fact, he only lost 2 fights out of his first 23. He was known to take an unbelievable beating and keep coming, but unfortunately that time has passed. He has lost 9 of his last 16 fights and has been unable to take half the amount of damage that he used to. Interestingly, Sanchez has never been submitted. I think that's going to change here because Sanchez can't take damage anymore and Gall lands a bunch of strikes so I think Gall is going to take this to the ground. Then he is going to land something that will rock Sanchez and lock in a submission victory in the first. – Mike Whitestone
I am in love with both of these guys and want to point something out in this one. Mickey Gall has never KO/TKO’d anyone before. Diego Sanchez has never been submitted. This fight will be fun but I think in the end Sanchez wins by a late 3rd round TKO. – Matt K
(#11) Cody Stamann (17-2) vs. (#12) Alejandro Perez (21-6-1): Next up is two ranked bantamweights. Alejandro Perez is on a 7 fight undefeated streak with a draw smack in the middle. In his career he has 9 knockouts and 5 submissions with 9 first round finishes. Perez lands an average of 3.7 significant strikes per minute, but that only makes up about 35% of total strikes landed so he lands about 10 strikes per minute. His opponent tends to land about the same amount of total strikes but has a higher percentage of significant strikes sitting at an even 50%. Cody Stamann finishes less than half of his opponents, but he pushes the pace, keeps them on the ground with his wrestling skills and outstrikes them. He lost to Aljamain Sterling in his last fight which snapped a 10-fight win-streak. I believe that Stamann will control the fight again and use his abilities to grind out his opponent for a decision victory. – Mike Whitestone
I agree with mike on this one Stamann via decision. – Matt K
(#14) Misha Cirkunov (14-4) vs. (#15) Johnny Walker (16-3): Misha Cirkunov is a beast. He has 8 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 10 of his 12 finishes in the first round. His opponent is something else though. Johnny Walker is already on his third UFC fight after debuting in November and it's because he is running through people. He has 13 wins by knockout and 2 submissions with 13 first round finishes. He is also on a 8 fight win-streak. Cirkunov has a good success rate for takedowns and an even better takedown defense, but I doubt that'll matter in this fight because Walker hasn't attempted one takedown and has a perfect defense. I think this fight will go just like the others and Walker will walk away with a first round knockout. – Mike Whitestone
Johnny Walker is a tank that can’t be stopped. He wins this one via 1st round KO. – Matt K
(#6) Jeremy Stephens (28-15) vs. (#13) Zabit Mogomedsharipov (16-1): This may be the toughest fight of Zabit's career so far in Jeremy Stephens. Magomedsharipov is currently on a 12 fight win-streak. In his career he obtained 7 wins by submission and 6 wins by knockout. Zabit is a Master of Sport in Sanda and is not only a multiple time National Champion he has also won the European title once. On top of this first-rate striking, he averages 7 takedowns a fight. His opponent is a top-ranked guy who fights the exact same way. Stephens isn't as successful with takedowns, but he likes to control the pace and land a lot of shots wherever he can. In his career he has 19 knockouts and 2 submissions with 13 first round finishes. I think this fight is going to be a long war with both guys landing a lot, but due to Zabit having a higher amount of strikes landed will be able to pull off a TKO in the third. – Mike Whitestone
Jeremy Stephens is going to once again shock the world. Zabit is going to be overpowered by the stronger striker and a lot of people are writing off Stephens which is even more motivation for a killer. – Matt K
(#2) Cody Garbrandt (11-2) vs. (#8) Pedro Munhoz (17-3): Kicking off the main card is another pair of ranked bantamweights. Pedro Munhoz has won 9 fights by submission and 3 by knockout with 7 finishes in the first. I'm not sure how a takedown is scored because Munhoz only has a 20% success rate even with his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and nine submission wins so he is getting people to the ground somehow. He is an active striker landing an average of 5 significant strikes per minute but also takes about 6 significant per minute so he's better off grappling. Cody Garbrandt was undefeated until he ran into TJ, who handed him two losses in a row. Garbrandt is a great striker with 9 knockout wins and an almost perfect boxing record in 33 matches. Munhoz has the potential to catch Garbrandt since we haven't seen really anything from Cody grappling, but the big issue is Munhoz' inability to block shots. Garbrandt can throw bombs and for Munhoz to take more strikes than he lands makes me think that this fight is going to end in the first or second with Garbrandt landing a huge knockout. – Mike Whitestone
I 100% agree with Mike I think Munhoz can develop to be a great fighter, but I think he is in over his head with the striking skills of his opponent. Cody wins by 1st round TKO. – Matt Koontz
(#7) Tecia Torres (10-3) vs. (#15) Weili Zhang (18-1): Weili Zhang is looking to make a name for herself tonight. Zhang is on a 18 fight win streak, losing only her first fight ever and even has a couple UFC wins under her belt. She has 9 wins by knockout and 7 by submission with 10 first round finishes. She has the high of the night landing an average of 6.5 significant strikes per minute which is only about half of her strikes meaning she lands about 14 strikes a minute. So far she barely gets hit and hasn't been taken down. Her opponent has gone the distance with some of the best. Tecia Torres has 1 submission victory which is the only of her 13 fights to not go to decision. She is a black belt in karate and taekwondo and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Zhang has a good record, but I think Torres has this one. I say she will grind her opponent out and pick up another decision win here. – Mike Whitestone
I love the Tiny Tornado as she is one of the most incredible women in the UFC but Zhang is a killer. I mean she is an absolute murderer and will push the pace and pick up a 2nd round TKO of Tecia. – Matt K
(#6) Robbie Lawler (28-12) vs. Ben Askren (18-0): Up next is the UFC debut of hands down the greatest welterweight to never fight in the UFC. Ben Askren is not only undefeated but the longest reigning Welterweight Champ in both Bellator and One history. Askren is an Olympic level wrestler and is the head wrestling coach at Roufusport so he literally trains Woodley and the Pettis brothers. In his career he has 6 wins by knockout and 5 by submission with 8 first round finishes. In my opinion Askren will need to take this to the ground if he wants to win this because he is facing one of the most dangerous strikers in the welterweight division. Robbie Lawler is a monster with more knockout victories than Askren has fights (20). Lawler has a good takedown defense but struggles against people with a good ground game which is where Askren excels. I think Askren is going to get this fight to the ground and pick up a submission victory. – Mike Whitestone
Ben Askren is one of my all-time favorite mixed martial artists, but my simple fear is that he isn’t taking Lawler serious enough and will get caught in the 3rd round by a strike. Lawler by 3rd round TKO. – Matt K
(C) Tyron Woodley (19-3) vs. (#2) Kamaru Usman (14-1): On to the co-main event and this is the first of two title fights tonight. The challenger, Kamaru Usman, is going into this fight on a 13 fight win-streak. Usman isn't a high percentage finisher only finishing exactly half of his fights. He has 6 wins by knockout and 1 by submission with 3 of the 7 finished in the first. However he still gets the job done because he lands almost triple the amount of strikes than gets landed on him. He also lands about 5 takedowns a fight and has never been taken down. His opponent is on a seven fight undefeated streak. Tyron Woodley is a National Champion in wrestling and has used it to also have a near perfect takedown defense. Woodley used to really push the pace in his fights and land a lot of strikes, but since he won the title he has slowed down and just aims to win rounds. I think Usman is going to overwhelm him and manage to take him down and just beat on him. I think it will take a few rounds, but Usman will get a TKO in the second or third. – Mike Whitestone
Usman is superior on every level. He picks up the win via 1st round TKO from ground strikes. – Matt K
(C) Jon Jones (23-1) vs. (#3) Anthony Smith (31-13): On to the second title fight of the night. Anthony Smith has been undefeated since moving up to the light heavyweight division and has only 2 losses in his last 16 fights. In his career he has 17 knockouts and 11 submissions with 15 of them being in the first round. My issue is he doesn't have a great track record with big names. For his middleweight run, Hector Lombard was the biggest name he beat and he lost to Thiago Santos. For light heavyweight, he beat Shogun and Rashad Evans who both shouldn't be fighting anymore. He also beat Oezdemir which he almost lost to in the first then managed to outlast him. Smith would need to keep this a very close fight to be able to work his striking. Jones however uses both his almost 85 inch reach and relentless use of front leg kicks to keep everyone away from him and it has helped him to out strike all of his opponents by almost double. My personal feelings on the whole Jones problem has me rooting for Smith tonight, but Jones doesn't lose and I don't think it's going to happen here tonight. Smith's biggest asset is getting close and dropping heavy shots and we have all seen Jones keep people at a ridiculous distance and bore us to death until it's over so I say Jones is going to win by decision. – Mike Whitestone
Anthony Smith hopefully solved the puzzle of Jon Jones and has learned to walk forward and deal with the leg kicks. If Anthony figured it out he will win this fight. I have Anthony winning this fight via 2nd round KO shocking the world. #ANDNEW. – Matt K
UFC Fight Night Ngannou vs. Valasquez: This card kicks off on ESPN + with the early prelims. The loaded prelims main card with one hell of a headliner as the main event are free on regular ESPN. We get to watch the return of Cain Velasquez this weekend and fight fans around the world should be more than excited for this.
ESPN+ Early Prelims @ 5:30 PM/ET:
Aleksandra Albu (3-0) vs. Emily Whitmire (3-2): Kicking off the very first fight on the card, I believe, will set the tone for the rest of the action-packed night. This will be Whitmire's third fight in the UFC and Albu's fourth. Emily Whitmire may not be able to finish her fights, with all of her wins being by decision, but she always tries to push the pace. Percentage-wise she has a bad takedown offense only being at 50%, but she has only attempted two and got one of them so it isn't an in-depth representation of what her takedown skills are. Both of her losses are by submission so this may add an idea that she needs to work on her ground game even though she normally wins when she can keep it standing. I think her opponent, Aleksandra Albu, is someone we still don't fully know what they are capable of. She is 3-0 and has a win of each type; decision, knockout and submission. She started to get a little sloppy in her decision win, but she was able to do enough for it to be unanimous in her favor. I think Albu will be able to out-strike her opponent and get a TKO in the second. – Mike W
Whitmire rebounded from her TUF loss with a victory in her UFC debut against Jamie Moyle. Whitmire trains out of Xtreme Couture. She hasn’t finished a professional fight yet in her career as she has all 3 of her wins with decisions. Her only losses have come from submission which is going to make this fight dangerous for her. She needs to try and keep this fight standing and use her striking and octagon control to win this fight otherwise she might get smothered and pick up another submission loss. Her opponent is a Maldovan born woman who is extremely impressive. She has the talent to fight for the title and win one day but she has to fight more often than she does. She fights once every 2 years because she is a Russian model and body builder leaving her a busy life in between fights. Albu is a karate fighter and in her short MMA career has picked up a KO as well as a submission stopping 2 of her 3 fights. She is extremely dangerous and could stop the fight with her striking though I expect to see a takedown and smother Emily for a win. Albu wins in round 2 via ground and pound TKO. – Matt K
Renan Barao (34-7) vs. Luke Sanders (12-3): The next fight is between an all-time great and someone looking to get back on their feet. Sanders was unstoppable before the UFC going 11-0 including his first UFC match. Now he is 2-3 in the UFC and Dana isn't usually too lenient on fighters with records below .500. He is fighting against Renan Barao who in my opinion is a future Hall-of-Famer. Barao put on a 32 fight win-streak before Dillashaw came through. After that he wasn't the same man because he is now 2-6 in his last 8. Because of that and Sanders' aggressive fight-style I think Sanders will be able to pick up a first round TKO. – Mike W
I think this fight could be an early possibility for the FOTN contender. I loved Renan Barao but I believe he is past his great years and Sanders will win by 3rd round TKO. – Matt K
Jessica Penne (12-6) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-4): At the main event of the early prelims already and we see number 2 of 4 female fights for the night. Both women are on a losing streak and with six UFC fights between the two of them there is only one win total; being Penne's win over Randa Markos. Esquibel normally goes to decision with only 1 win by finish and Penne has a majority of her wins by finish with 7 submissions and 2 knockouts. Esquibel has not really impressed me in her fights where Penne has the potential to be a great striker and finisher. I think this fight will go into the second and Penne will work her clinch and grappling to set up a submission finish. – Mike W
Jessica Penne wins via 2nd round submission after taking this fight to the mat in the first minute in round 2. – Matt K
ESPN Prelims @ 7 PM/ET:
Scott Holtzman (12-2) vs. Nik Lentz (29-9-2): Nik Lentz has a great record, but recently has been win, loss, win, loss. He likes to use his striking to set up relentless takedown attempts and going for submissions. This is definitely his preferred method with 11 submission finishes, but also has stopping power gaining 8 wins by knockout. Lentz has a really bad takedown success rate sitting around 35% but still lands a substantial amount by attempting almost 200 takedowns total. His opponent prefers to keep the fight standing with 4 wins by knockout, but isn't much of a finisher with 6 wins by decision. I think Nik Lentz is just better in every situation and he will be able to do what he wants here which will most likely be a submission in the first. – Mike W
Scott will have more power than Nik which means he will need to choose his shots well and use his openings to land a big shot to win this fight. I believe Nik will avoid a big shot and win this fight via unanimous decision. – Matt K
#12 (12) Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-3) vs. #13 (14) Andrea Lee (9-2): This fight will be the only of the women's fights to not be in the strawweight division. Evans-Smith will be making this her second fight in the division after winning her first. She has 3 wins by knockout and 3 by decision. Andrea Lee is a black belt in Kyokushin karate, brown belt in judo and purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Lee has 4 wins by submission and 2 knockouts and is also on a 5-fight win-streak. Evans-Smith has a more aggressive pace landing almost 1.5 more significant strikes per minute than her opponent regardless of the fact that her striking accuracy is less than half of Lee's. Lee lands more of what she throws, but the amount Evans-Smith attempts is much larger. Lee also lands more than double the number of takedowns as her opponent which makes me believe that Lee will take this to the mat more than once and will get a submission victory in either the first or second. – Mike W
I believe in the end Andrea’s pace and takedowns will overwhelm Ashlee leading to a 3rd round submission from Andrea. – Matt K
Benito Lopez (9-0) vs. Manny Bermudez (13-0): Up next are two undefeated bantamweights that are still relatively new to the UFC. Manny Bermudez has 10 wins by submission and a knockout and only 1 of the 11 wasn't in the first round. His opponent Benito Lopez has 3 wins by knockout and 2 by submission with all of them in the first. Lopez seems to avoid the ground though and is a threat standing averaging 5 significant strikes per minute. Bermudez however barely has any significant strikes and attempts a lot of takedowns and submissions. Bermudez missed weight by 5 pounds, so I think he will use his extra weight to keep up his grappling and get that submission in the first. – Mike W
I have to agree with Mike on this one 5 lbs gives you a big advantage, overweight fighters are already over .95% winning percentage over the past year. – Matt K
#4 (5) Jimmie Rivera (22-2) vs. #7 (7) Aljamain Sterling (16-3): Main event time before we finally go live on ESPN and it's two ranked bantamweights. Aljamain Sterling likes to use his striking to set up his wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills evidenced by his 7 wins by submission. He's an active striker with a pretty good striking defense but has an alright takedown offense and defense. His opponent is probably the most successful product of Tiger Schulmann. Most of Rivera's wins come by decision at 16 and he uses his perfect takedown defense and aggressive striking to dominate his opponents. Sterling is a dangerous ground fighter, but I don't see Rivera's pace being slowed and I say Rivera is going to keep Sterling uncomfortable and grind this out for a decision win. – Mike W
I agree Rivera wins, but I believe he is the superior fighter and wins this fight by way of 2nd round submission as he will dominate Aljo in round 2. With the domination of round 2 he will find his place and lock in a 2nd round submission via RNC. – Matt K
ESPN Main Event @ 9 PM/ET:
Myles Jury (17-3) vs. Andre Fili (18-6): Both of these guys have had trouble getting traction recently. Jury was 15-0 before going 2-3 in his last five fights and as for Fili he has mostly been win, loss, win, loss in his last 10. Fili is an aggressive striker but has the issue of not having a great defense. He is also one sided not being able to make things out of ground work. Myles doesn't land as much as his opponent, but he doesn't get hit half as much and excels on the ground. I think this will be super entertaining at the beginning with both guys striking then Jury will get it to the ground and get the submission victory before time runs out. – Mike W
I have Jury winning in round 2 via submission after they battle it out on the feet in round 1 and he changes the position in round 2 to catch Fili off guard. – Matt K
Vincente Luque (14-6-1) vs. Bryan Barberena (14-5): This fight is very similar to the last one. Barberena is a monster in the standup, but lacks on the ground. However Luque is good at both standup and grappling. I think if it stays standing this is Barberena's. Barberena absorbs more shots than his opponent, but he also lands way more than Luque does. He has trouble making things work on the ground and only defends about 40% of takedowns. His opponent, Vicente Luque has an almost even amount of wins by finish with 7 by knockout and 6 by submission. Luque continually surprises me so I'm going to predict that he survives Barberena's onslaught and get him to the ground in the second to pick up a submission victory. – Mike W
Luque and Barberena are going to go back and forth for the first two rounds before Luque changes levels and locks in the arm bar submission in round 3 for the victory. – Matt K
Alex Caceres (14-11) vs. Kron Gracie (4-0): Next up is the debut fight for Kron Gracie against "Bruce Leroy" Alex Caceres. Gracie is part of the great Gracie family so he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and judo. All four of his wins are by submission and 3 of them were in the first round. Caceres is known for being a creative and unconventional striker. Caceres is a hard guy to read and Gracie has close to no striking experience because of how quick he finished his opponents. I think Caceres won't give him a chance to grapple and get a TKO in the first. – Mike W
I see this fight to be similar to Uriah Hall vs Gegard Mousasi. Caceres like Hall will get taken down in round 1 but survive that. I believe the lack of striking experience that Kron has will become his downfall and his arrogance. Caceres wins via round 2 TKO.
#11 (11) Cortney Casey (8-6) vs. #12 (12) Cynthia Calvillo (7-1): Here we are at the last female fight of the night. Casey lands more strikes against her opponent than Calvillo, but Casey takes more shots than she lands and Calvillo lands more than what she takes. Calvillo is also a more active grappler and succeeds in takedowns about 50% of the time while Casey only defends about 25%. I think this fight will see a lot of ground time. I predict that Calvillo will grind out Casey and in the third she will pick up a late TKO. – Mike W
I am 100% disagreeing with Mike on this one. Cortney Casey’s loses in the UFC come to all tougher opponents than Calvillo has even beat. Casey is an extremely underrated fighter and she is going to be dangerous in this one. Casey wins this fight by a dominant unanimous decision. – Matt K
#14 (10) James Vick (13-2) vs. #13 (NR) Paul Felder (15-4): Both of the guys in the co-main here are coming off a loss and looking to start up another win streak. These guys absorb a similar number of strikes, but Vick defends more due to the amount attempted against him is higher. Vick also tends to land more often than Felder. They are very similar with takedowns and takedown defense and when they are there Vick goes for the submission while Felder prefers to keep striking. When Vick can't get a submission he normally ends up going to decision even though he does have a couple knockout victories. Felder almost always gets his knockouts or TKOs and when he can't it ends in decision. I get the feeling that both of these guys are going to have a hard time getting their way here and it's going to end in a decision. I'm going to say it will be in favor of Vick because he will use his more active striking. – Mike W
Felder is the better fighter in my eyes and the hard weight cut for Vick is going to be the downfall of him. Felder exhausts you the way he wrestles and strikes. He just flat out exhausts and mentally abuses his opponents. I have Felder winning this fight via a dominant unanimous decision. – Matt K
#2 (3) Francis Ngannou (12-3) vs. Cain Velasquez (14-2): Finally, the main event and I find this one pretty hard to call. Cain Velasquez has only fought twice in the last five years and not at all in the last three. Before then, Velasquez was a monster and could obliterate the best of them. He has an 85% for takedowns defended and that's only because he wants to take you down and put you away with almost 7 significant strikes per minute which has earned him 12 knockouts/TKOs with 9 of them in the first minute. Ngannou also looked unstoppable for most of his career then he suffered a bad decision loss to Stipe and put on one of the worst fights ever against Lewis. In his last fight he almost murdered Curtis Blaydes in less than a minute. There's a big chance Velasquez doesn't come back the same, but if he does then this could turn into fight of the year potential. They always say AKA is one of the most savage camps in the world and with Cain having a constant training partner in Dan Cormier I'm going to assume that "ring-rust" won't be a factor for Velasquez. I say that this war will end with a brutal first round knockout by Velasquez possibly after taking some damage from the monster Ngannou.- Mike W
The return of Cain is here and we will see him face a true test for such a long layoff. Ngannou will need to have mastered his takedown defense and land some knees if he wants to prevent Cain from dominating him. Cain is a monster arguably the best heavyweight of all time. If Cain returns in top form then this man is coming for the heavyweight belt and nobody will be able to stop him. I believe sea-level and fully recovered Cain is too dangerous and will pick up the win via 3rd round submission thanks to an exhausted Ngannou. – Matt K
UFC Fight Night Fortaleza on ESPN+: I love this card especially the main event as I believe the winner deserves a shot at TJ Dillashaw for the title. This whole card will be on ESPN+ including the prelims. Really sit back and enjoy the show Saturday night as fighting is back for a while thankfully and us fans are going to be happy as can be. Here are our predictions for the card.
Prelims @ 5 PM/ET:
#11 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1) vs. Rogerio Bontorin (14-1): We kick off the fight in the flyweight division. Rogerio is a DWTNCS season 2 victor coming in off an impressive RNC submission victory in round 2. Rogerio is a well-rounded fighter but is only known for his ground game as he has picked up 11 submission victories in his career. His striking is sneaky though and can catch someone with a TKO if he isn’t taken as a serious striker. Rogerio will be the hometown favorite here but will need to get this one under his pace if he wants a shot at winning this fight. Magomed is a dangerous opponent to be welcoming a UFC new comer. Magomed tends to go the distance more than his opponent but that isn’t uncommon in a sambo fighter. What we should see out of Magomed is a fighter push the pace and be the aggressor. When he gets his opponent to the mat which he will do in this fight he smothers you and lands shots from the top. This fight will be inetersting as Magomed is a significant favorite, but I believe that it should be a close fight as Rogerio has the potential to submit from bottom which is dangerous to a sambo fighter. I am going to take the underdog Rogerio with a 3rd round submission victory. – Matt
#12 FLY Said Nurmagomedov (12-1) vs. Ricardo Ramos (12-1): Our second fight of the night we go right back to Russia vs Brazil, only this time it is in the bantamweight division. Ramos has is entering his 4th fight in the UFC in a 2-year span as he missed a lot of time after his second fight. This fight will be his first true test inside the octagon though which he is the favorite in. It shows you what his potential is as he is 3-0 in the UFC and making serious name for himself if he grabs the win here. Ramos is only 23 years old and has a lot of potential to grow on. His opponent Said is another prospect and small underdog in this fight. He will be coming into his second UFC fight with a win over an already impressive name in his UFC debut, Justin Scoggins. This fight will just like the fight before this one almost surely go to the mat and we will see a BJJ vs. Sambo clinic once again. I really am torn here as both fighters have potential to be special in this division. Once again, I am going to pick the underdog and take Said via unanimous decision. – Matt
Felipe Colares (8-0) vs. Geraldo de Freitas Jr. (11-4): As we continue our way through the prelims, we have a Brazilian battle in the featherweight division. Both of these men are making their respective UFC debuts and without the octagon jitters could put on one hell of a show. Geraldo has stopped 9 of his 11 wins via 4 (T)KO and 5 submission victories. This guy can win this fight anywhere it goes and is going to be dangerous in the featherweight division if his skills carry over to the UFC. His opponent, Felipe Colares, trains with the Nogueira’s and is only 24 years of age, with a whole lot of potential. He has stopped 7 of his 8 wins and is unbeaten meaning he has only seen the distance once in his career. I know this fight is hard to call due to lack of in-depth film on both of these guys. I have watched some though and think that Colares has the very slight edge and will pick up a 3rd round submission after a great first 10 minutes. – Matt
Jair Rozenstruik (5-0) vs. Junior Albini (14-4): We step into the heavyweight division for our next fight. We have a UFC veteran vs a UFC new comer. Albini we have seen a few times and is struggling as of late as he has picked up 2 straight losses. He desperately needs a win here and needs to get this fight to the ground. He will have an advantage if he gets this fight to the ground over his UFC rookie so to say. Junior needs to use his known power to keep his opponent respecting his standup and then land a takedown where he will get an early submission. Jair is from Suriname, a very small country in North Eastern South America. This dude is a monster if you have ever gotten the opportunity to watch his fights. The first 4 professional fights of his career started with round 1 KO’s. His last fight was a split decision victory which he hopefully learned some of his weakness’ in and has become an even more improved fighter before his UFC debut. I think this fight is going to be over early and I have Jair winning this fight in the first round via KO. – Matt
Max Griffin (14-5) vs. Thiago Alves (22-13): This should be the main event of the prelims and I can’t figure out one reason it isn’t. Hell, this should be on the main card, but it is what it is. This fight will take place in the welterweight division. Alves will easily be the home town favorite in this fight and is an extremely dangerous fighter. Alves has been struggling as of late as his career has started coming to an end sadly but shouldn’t be taken lightly no matter what. Alves can kick someone’s jaw into the front row as he throws some devastating kicks. His opponent is the first American on this Brazilian card, Max Griffin is another UFC vet with a win loss win loss pattern currently going on in his career. The good news for Max is that his last fight was a loss which for him tends to mean the next fight should be a victory. Max tends to win his fights that don’t reach decision as he has only been stopped once in his career. He has a victory over a name like Mike Perry and could pick up another big name here if he can keep this fight on the outside and show a takedown early to make Alves afraid of throwing the legs in fear of them being caught for a takedown. Max Griffin will out skill Alves here and pick up a win in the 2nd round via submission ending Alves’ UFC career sadly. – Matt
Taila Santos (15-0) vs. #12 Mara Romero Borella (10-5): The first fight between women on the card and takes place in the flyweight division. Mara is coming off a tough loss with Katlyn Chookagian but has proven she can be a serious contender in this division and is dangerous for a new comer which Santos is. Mara is a good finisher and can rely on her ground game skill set to pick up some impressive wins. Mara trains out of ATT and has a great gym behind her, helping her develop into a good fighter. I know this division is crazy deep already, but Mara could make a run if she picks up some momentum with a win here. Taila is making her UFC debut, and is vicious as hell. She has stopped 12 of her 15 wins and 10 of which are by way of (T)KO. Taila is going to need to overcome her UFC jitters and come dictate the pace of this fight and use the hometown support behind her to unleash the beast she is. Taila is only 25 years of age and is bound for a successful UFC career. I believe Taila wins this one via 2nd round TKO after a first round of her figuring out her opponent. – Matt
Anthony Hernandez (6-0) vs. Markus Perez (10-2): This is the main event of the prelims on ESPN+ and it takes place in the middleweight division. Perez is 1-2 in his UFC career both of his losses being his only professional MMA losses come via decision. He is a skilled mixed martial artist and believe he is better than his UFC record shows. Perez has a great set of skills on the mat and sneaky power to end fights with his hands. His opponent Anthony Hernandez is coming off a no contest DWTNCS decision. Anthony is better off getting this fight to the ground as he has shown to be much more comfortable on the mat in his career than he is standing up. To successfully do that he needs to push the pace threaten with jabs down the middle and shoot for the takedown. Perez is the underdog, but I feel the UFC jitters for Hernandez, and the fan base being behind Perez will carry him to a victory. I have Markus Perez winning this fight via decision. – Matt
UFC Main Card @ 8 PM/ET on ESPN+:
Sarah Frota (9-0) vs. Livinha Souza (12-1): This fight is kicking off the main card which is the final women’s fight of the night and takes place in the strawweight division. Livinha comes in off an extremely impressive UFC debut with a 1 minute 21 second victory via guillotine. Livinha is a phenomenal BJJ fighter with submission skills even standing if she can get a fight into the clinch. She is extremely dangerous and will keep the distance close to get it where she wants it. Her opponent Sarah Frota will be making her UFC debut following an impressive DWTNCS first round KO. Sarah is another skilled ground fighter with submission skills to no end, but she will be best off keeping this fight standing as her striking is slightly superior to her opponents. I have Souza winning this one via 2nd round submission. – Matt
Justin Ledet (9-1) vs. Johnny Walker (15-3): Fight fans do not blink as this LHW fight is going to be awesome. Johnny Walker is coming for you Jon Jones and Anthony Smith. Walker is a monstrous fighter with submission skills and good lord he could knock anyone’s brain around their respective skull. This fight shouldn’t be looked past though as he faces a monster as well which is the biggest test of his career. Justin Ledet is going to need to take this fight cautiously and look for a way to land a takedown because if he can get this fight to the ground, he could pick apart his opponent. Ledet is a better fighter on the mat than Walker but would get slaughtered standing in a striking exchange. I believe the pressure Walker will push will prevent Ledet from getting this fight to the ground like he desperately needs and end the fight with a Walker 1st round KO. - Matt
David Teymur (8-1) vs. Charles Oliveira (25-8): I am going to be honest the rest of this card is honestly do not miss type action. This lightweight fight is going to be so much fun for everyone in attendance and everyone that watches at home. Oliveira will always put on a show as the legend will continue to look for submissions but shouldn’t be forgotten as a great striker that he truly is. Charles is facing a tough challenge as Teymur is a good fighter which you have to be in order to be a draw in odds with Charles who without a doubt a legend. Teymur has gone the distance a little too much as of late though and needs to be aware that he will not want to let a fight with Charles go the distance as he remains dangerous every second of a fight. I believe the legend will keep on showing his incredible abilities. Charles Oliveira picks up a 2nd round submission in another great performance. – Matt
#8 Demian Maia (25-9) vs. Lyman Good (20-4): This fight is intriguing as all Demian Maia fights tend to be and I think these welterweights not even being talked about is crazy as they are both insanely talented. Lyman isn’t bad on the mat but let’s be real, we know where he is best in a fight against Maia. Lyman is a monster with power in both hands and the ability to finish a fight in one shot. Maia is a legend of the game and sadly has never reached the title like we hoped he would one day. Maia isn’t done yet, but he is sadly too one dimensional to ever be a title winner. Maia is a god in the jiujitsu world and will dominate the fight if he gets a hold of his opponent. This fight will be the battle of striking vs jiu-jitsu. I have a very hard time picking against Maia as I love this guy, but I am taking Lyman Good as he trains at what is secretly becoming the top MMA gym in the world in Tiger Schulman. Lyman Good wins via 2nd round KO after surviving the grappling attempts of Maia in the 1st round. – Matt
#5 Renato Moicano (13-1-1) vs. #2 Jose Aldo (27-4): The co-main event of the evening has a former champ and future champ challenger in the featherweight division. Both of these extremely talented fighters are Brazilian and will technically be the hometown fighters, but Jose Aldo is expected to have the crowd behind him big time. Aldo was so impressive in his dominance over Jeremy Stephens in his last fight. Aldo is a legend of the sport and sadly has said he will be calling it quits no matter what at the end of 2019. I will miss Aldo I wish he was healthier in his UFC days and we saw more of him, but he truly was one of the most talented fighters of all time. Moicano is a beast, his lone loss was to Brian Ortega which I believe he has improved on. Renato’s win over Cub Swanson was so impressive and his submission skill set is insane and dangerous. He will be facing Aldo who isn’t known for his ground game but actually has a black belt in BJJ. I am really torn on this fight as part of me saw a monster in Aldo his last fight but Moicano is a legit danger to this division. I have no clue how Vegas has this fight not an even split but I have to take Aldo to win this one as his ability to be well-rounded is something I don’t take lightly. Aldo wins via 3rd round TKO.
#3 Marlon Moraes (21-5-1) vs. #2 Raphael Assuncao (27-5): The Main event of the evening will also be two Brazilian stars taking the center stage for what should be the number 1 contender in the bantamweight division. Assuncao is riding a 4-fight win streak including a win over his opponent which I had him lose in the decision which was a split decision victory. Assuncao is a well-rounded fighter with a slow pace but the skills to end a fight standing and with great submission skills. He is going to need to push the pace and avoid the hands of Marlon to survive this fight. Assuncao does a pretty good job keeping on the outside and scoring which we will see him do this fight as he knows he can out pace his opponent with his fight style. Marlon is a monster who I have been screaming deserves a title shot for a long time now. Marlon has won 3 since his questionable split decision loss to Assuncao with an extremely impressive win over Jimmie Rivera in his last fight. Moraes honestly in my eyes is the better fighter and was just outscored last time according to some horrible judges including Sal D’Amoto who is somehow still judging fights. I believe Marlon will come out learning he can’t go the distance in this fight with Assuncao and pick up the win with a stoppage. I believe he will successfully do so with his aggressive pace and striking and grab a 1st round knock down where he will lock in a submission for the victory. This should give Moraes the title shot he deserves. - Matt
UFC on ESPN 1: The UFC makes its debut on ESPN and this card is loaded from bottom to the top. I wish this card didn’t lose John Lineker, but we can’t change the past we just have to deal with it. This card takes place in Brooklyn and should be a great show for the New York fans though I hate NYSAC. Subscribe to ESPN+ and enjoy because this fight is going to be well worth it.
ESPN+ Early Prelims (6 PM/ET):
Kyle Stewart (11-1) vs. Chance Recountree (12-3): This fight is going to be a great way to kick off the UFC with ESPN in the welterweight division. We have a Native American vs a long time Marine. This fight is going to have some fireworks as these two guys can throw down. I believe Recountree moving camps will help him a lot and help his growth. His opponent we have only seen thus far on contender series as far as his UFC career and he was impressive then and is a true dangerous fighter. He hits hard and Chance needs to his defense up and be aware of the right hand. Kyle has the slight edge standing while Chance will be better off testing his complete MMA skill set and get this fight to the mat. I can’t figure out who has the edge in this one. I have Recountree winning this one by way of decision. – Matt Koontz
Belal Muhammad (14-2) vs. Geoff Neal (10-2): This fight is going to take place in the welterweight division. It will be a lot of fun for the fans though as Geoff Neal and Belal are savages. The issue I have with Belal is that he tends to rely on scoring and the judges score card to get him his wins instead of pure victories by stoppage. Geoff is a monster, 2-0 in the UFC with a submission and KO. He is a contender series winner that brought him to the UFC and did so with incredible skills. I am taking Geoff Neal by way of 1st round TKO as his overwhelming power and pressure will be too much for Belal. – Matt Koontz
Dennis Bermudez (16-9) vs. Te Edwards (6-2): This is the main event of the ESPN+ early prelims and takes place in the lightweight division. Edwards had a rough UFC debut where he was knocked out in the 2nd round and is trying to turn it around here against a great UFC veteran. Te will have a 6-inch reach advantage. I believe Bermudez should have been in this division the whole time as he looks incredible in this division. Bermudez is an amazing fighter who has been screwed over time and time again by the judges especially lately. I love him in this division though we haven’t seen him here in his UFC career and think he could really be dangerous here. I have Bermudez winning this fight by way of 2nd round KO. – Matt Koontz
ESPN Prelims (8 PM/ET):
(#6) Cory Sandhagen (9-1) vs. Mario Bautista (6-0): Kicking off the night is a fight that wasn't even expected to happen until about a week ago. Originally this was supposed to be Dominick Cruz vs Jon Lineker, but Cruz had to pull out due to injury being replaced by Sandhagen. Then Lineker got hurt as well and Mario Bautista is making his debut in the UFC as a replacement. Speaking of Bautista, as I mentioned he is making his UFC debut with a perfect record of 6 wins in 6 organizations. He has 3 wins by submission and 2 by knockout with 2 first round finishes and the other 3 in the second. Including his amateur matches, he has only gone to the third round once and he won by decision. His opponent is Cory Sandhagen who only has 1 loss in his 10 fights. Sandhagen has 4 wins by knockout and 2 by submission with four stopped in the first round. These following stats only get recorded for UFC fights and since that only accounts for two of his ten they may be a little skewed, but so far he has been dominant landing almost 10 significant strikes per minute while only taking a little under 3 per minute. He has a solid striking defense at 64% and so far hasn't been taken down once. Bautista may have been dominant in his career so far, but I see that coming to an end tonight. I see Sandhagen keeping Bautista on his feet and applying pressure until he gets a KO/TKO victory towards the end of the first. – Mike Whitestone
I agree with Mike here as I believe Sandhagen is incredibly talented and will overwhelm Bautista in this one and end it in the 1st. – Matt Koontz
Alonzo Menifield (7-0) vs. Vinicius Moreira (9-1): Up next we have two different light heavyweights making their debut after earning contracts on Contender Series. Again, between the 17 combined fights there's only 1 loss total. Vinicius Mereira is on a 5-fight win streak since his only loss and is a capable submission artist. 8 of his wins are by submission with the other being by knockout with 6 first round finishes. His opponent also has won all his fights by stoppage. Alonzo Menifield has 6 wins by knockout and the other by submission with 5 stopped in the first. He made two appearances on Contender Series and even though he won his first fight, it was the 8 second knockout that scored him his contract. Menifield has unbelievable stopping power and I think he is going to get another knockout victory here tonight. – Mike Whitestone
This fight to me is going to be fairly one sided. I believe Menifield is way more powerful and will just simply overpower Moreira. Menifield gets his nights work done quick and picks up a 1st round KO of Moreira within 3 minutes of the fight. – Matt Koontz
(#10) Joanne Calderwood (12-3) vs. Ariane Lipski (11-3): This may sound crazy to some, but I think there will be a lot of contenders for fight of the night and on paper this will be one of them. This fight is going to showcase the top-ranked female fighter from KSW which is a Poland-based MMA promotion. One of the many fighters making their debut tonight, Ariane Lipski is on a 9-fight win streak and is a finisher. She has 6 wins by knockout and 2 by submission with 6 first round finishes. Now before I say this, I'm not claiming she is as good as her, but her fight style reminds me a lot of Joanna Jedrzeczyk. Lipski is constantly up in her opponent's face and just lands shot-after-shot in rapid-fire succession until they crumble. Her opponent, Joanne Calderwood will be making her second fight back at flyweight after dropping to 115 and going 0-2. The weight cut was a big factor in both fights and she is 12-1 at flyweight where she belongs. She does not have as many finishes as Lipski, but still has a good amount with 5 knockouts and 1 submission. Before MMA she was a professional kickboxer and went 19-2 with 6 knockouts. This fight could be a war and I think it will be a hard fight for both of them. The issue I have here is that Lipski has the tendency to drop her hands when she thinks she has someone to throw as fast as she does and I know Calderwood is a smart striker and I think that if she knew it was coming she could take advantage. I wouldn't mind if Jojo proves me wrong, but I believe Lipski will just overwhelm her and get a TKO victory in the first. – Mike Whitestone
I agree with Mike this fight could go the opposite direction as Lipski leaves her hands down while striking but I believe Lipski shuts this down in the 1st round by way of KO. – Matt Koontz
(#11) Alexander Hernandez (10-1) vs. (#13) Donald Cerrone (34-11): On to the main event for the first ever ESPN prelims and we have another FOTN contender right here. Before we even get into any of the details of this fight I am going to say right now that this fight is greatly affected by which Donald Cerrone shows up tonight. For those that don't know what I'm talking about, Cerrone has a serious tendency to underestimate people and he has admitted that with people like Darren Till he didn't know them so he didn't bother to train and look what happened. Then there are fights he comes out and looks near unstoppable. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and gaidojutsu with 17 wins by submission and 9 knockouts with 16 of the 26 in the first and he needs to make sure he doesn't take Alexander Hernandez lightly. Hernandez is on an 8-fight win streak. Cerrone has a higher striking defense percentage, but on average Cerrone takes almost double the amount significant strikes than Hernandez. As much as I don't want to say it, I believe Cerrone won't be as invested in this fight as he should be, and Hernandez is going to drop him in the first and get the TKO. – Mike Whitestone
A legend vs a new young star. I don’t think the issue with this fight is how invested Cerrone is going to be. I think Hernandez is the overall better striker by a significant bit in this weight class. I believe the issue Cerrone has is the weight class as he has gone back down and looked exhausted from the weight cut. I have Cerrone dominating this one ONLY if he can get it to the ground because I believe he will submit Hernandez. I sadly like Mike don’t see that happening and Cerrone will get out classed striking and caught by a big shot. Hernandez wins this one by KO in the 1st round hopefully convincing Cerrone to go up a weight class. – Matt Koontz
ESPN+ Fight Night 10 PM/ET:
(#12) Glover Teixeira (27-7) vs. Karl Roberson (7-1): Starting off the first ESPN+ event will be a relatively new fighter to the UFC versus a battle-tested veteran. Half of Karl Roberson's fights have been under the UFC/ Contender Series. He has 3 wins by submission and 2 by knockout with all 5 being first round stoppages. Roberson is very successful at defending strikes with 73% although not as much for takedowns with an even 50%. He is also very successful getting takedowns which is 75% making him the guy that prefers to get on top and let his ground work do the talking. He has one hell of a mountain to climb against his opponent Glover Teixeira. Even though he has hit a rough patch recently, only winning 2 of his last 5, in my opinion this guy is a future Hall-of-Famer. Teixeira is a 5th degree black belt in kajukenbo which is a Hawaiian originated hybrid of karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, kenpo and kick boxing and he is a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In MMA, he has 17 wins by submission and 6 wins by knockout with 18 stoppages in the first. He was also on a 20-fight win streak before losing to Jon Jones. Even though I don't think Teixeira has many more fights left in him I believe his skillset is just too good for Roberson. I see Glover just being able to counter anything Roberson has and eventually get that knockout in the second round. – Mike Whitestone
I completely disagree with Mike on this fight. Karl Roberson will be a monster in his new weight class. Glover needs this win to prove he has anything left to offer in his career. I believe Roberson is going to have no gas tank issues and be able to push the pace freely in this fight. He looks massive and is a beast already in his own middleweight division, but now that he is fighting in the LHW division. I have Roberson dominating Glover and picking up a 2nd round KO of Glover after a dominant 10-8 first round. – Matt Koontz
Paige VanZant (7-4) vs. Rachel Ostovich (4-4): Up next is the second women's fight of the night. Rachael Ostovich hasn't been able to get any sort of streak going. She is winning fights, but it's win loss win loss. She has 2 wins by submission and a good ground game behind her with a perfect takedown offense and defense. As mentioned in a previous pick, it's only counting her only UFC fights which is 2, but perfect offense and defense is something I've never seen before. She has a decent striking defense at 63%, but takes more shots than she lands. VanZant is a wild striker that uses it to either get knockouts or beat her enemies into slipping up and exposing a weakness for her to submit. While it's not a horrible thing when you get to a certain level that doesn't work anymore. I hope for her sake that she has spent a lot of time honing those skills since she has only fought twice in two years. VanZant has a poor defense with 43% striking and 40% takedown. Unless VanZant has changed substantially in her time off I see Ostovich winning this. I think she will take this to the mat, work some strikes in and get a submission in the second. – Mike Whitestone
I love the potential both of these women have. I hope for Paige leaving Alpha Fail has given her career a boost and her happiness in life lately as well. Rachel is a monster who just has had some bad luck lately in her career but is a true contender. I have Ostavich picking up a narrow-split decision. – Matt Koontz
(#2) Joseph Benavidez (26-5) vs. (#8) Dustin Ortiz (19-7): Moving on, here comes what I believe should be the co-main. This fight has actually happened once before back in 2014 and Benavidez won by decision. Ortiz is a finisher with 8 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 6 in the first round. He doesn't have a great defense with 56% striking and 54% takedowns, but he lands a lot of shots and tends to set the pace. He is fighting a monster of a flyweight in Joseph Benavidez. Benavidez has only lost 5 fights and only to 3 people losing to both Dominick Cruz and Mighty Mouse twice. He has 9 wins by submission, but isn't afraid to stand and bang with 7 knockout finishes as well. I like Ortiz a lot, but I always have a tough time picking against Benavidez. I think this fight is going to go the same way as last time and Benavidez will have to grind this out for a decision win. – Mike Whitestone
I 100% agree with Mike on this one Benavidez by decision. – Matt Koontz
(#15) Gregor Gillespie (12-0) vs. Yancy Medeiros (15-5): This fight right here is why Matt and I say the lightweight division is stacked because both of these men deserved to be ranked. Medeiros has 8 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 6 finishes in the first. Medeiros has a great offense, and can take a beating because his defense is scary. He has a good takedown defense at 83%, but only defends about 40% of strikes and takes a little over 6 significant strikes per minute. The undefeated Gregor Gillespie was a 4-time All-American in collegiate wrestling and it shows in his fights. Even though he only has success with 50% of his takedowns he still averages around 7 per fight. He likes to take things to the ground and dominate through either knockout or submission (has 5 wins of both). Between Medeiros usually taking a beating and Gillespie's crazy aggressiveness I think Gillespie will get him down and try to get the TKO. When he realizes that isn't working which I suspect to be in the second, he will look for a submission and get the win. – Mike Whitestone
This fight is going to be a great one between two great fighters, but just like Cerrone I don’t like Medeiros at lightweight at all and the weight cut will cost him his aggressiveness. Gillepsie out lasts Yancy and with the better gas tank in this weight class picks up the victory in round 3 with a submission. Gregor will remain undefeated and continue his climb to the lightweight top. – Matt Koontz
Greg Hardy (3-0) vs. Allen Crowder (9-3): Now to the co-main event. Allen Crowder is coming into this fight with 5 wins by knockout and 3 by submission with 4 first round finishes. He definitely prefers striking and has been weighing in around 2325 making him a bit light for heavyweights. He has a good striking defense at 60%, but got trashed in his first UFC getting TKO'ed in the first. Greg Hardy is making his debut in the UFC. In amateur MMA he was 3-0 and now as a pro he is currently 3-0. All 6 of his wins are by knockout in the first and only one took longer than a minute. I can't help but wonder what that means about his endurance. I think Crowder will be able to get him down and wear him out then once he is in the second round Crowder will get a submission because Hardy doesn't have any fight experience on the ground. – Mike Whitestone
I again 100% agree with Mike here. Also want to add I think Hardy will fail in the UFC like CM Punk did as he is one dimensional and needs to learn another skill set to be a good MMA fighter even with a win here he would be dominated by any mention worthy HW. – Matt Koontz
(C) Henry Cejudo (13-2) vs. (C) TJ Dillashaw (16-3): Main event time and we get to see a champ vs. champ war. Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw is fighting Henry Cejudo for the Flyweight Championship. Dillashaw has 8 wins by knockout and 3 by submission with 5 first round finishes. He is a black belt in Bang Muay Thai and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is also a decorated collegiate wrestler and incorporates a wrestling stance in his fighting stance and is extremely mobile and hard to read. His opponent is also a wrestler and won Gold in the Beijing Olympics. Cejudo uses a very wrestling aggressive style and uses his grappling to smash people with 5 wins by knockout and 4 of them in the first. I don't know how much Cejudo has to cut, but he looked massive for his size at the beginning of the week and even though Dillashaw normally walks around pretty close to his usual weigh-in weight he had to cut an extra 10 pounds this time and looked a little small in the beginning of the week. I don't know if that really plays a part here, but it seemed worth noting if you want to form your own opinion. I think Cejudo is a great fighter, but I haven't seen a more complete looking fighter than TJ and I think in the next year or two he will be one of the best pound-for-pound. Dillashaw doesn't normally finish early so I'm calling for him to get a TKO in one of the championship rounds. - Mike Whitestone
Cejudo will have weight on the champ of the division above because he puts on a ton of weight and has a heavy advantage over his opponents in this division. I hate that fighters can add as much weight as Cejudo does for his fights. Also, everyone mentioning weight concerns for TJ was crazy to me since he has always been professional and never missed weight. Cejudo is the worry as he is the heavier fighter and has missed weight before in his career so can we stop acting shocked by TJ. Okay now to the fight stuff. Cejudo in my eyes didn’t really win over DJ and has failed to ever truly impress me a single time in his UFC career. He doesn’t go out and finish fights his standup isn’t phenomenal which is going to be a major issue. TJ is the best MMA fighter in the WORLD. Not in the UFC TJ is the best all-around skilled MMA fighter in the world of MMA. He will dominate Cejudo and flat out embarrass Cejudo and pick up a 2nd round TKO. – Matt Koontz
UFC 232: This card has been full of drama already with it moving on 6 days’ notice from Vegas to California because Jon Jones once against tested positive for a banned substance. The morons are claiming it was a substance from 16 months ago, but tests show that in early August this year he was negative then the substance showed up again in 3 tests. Then it was gone again for multiple tests before showing back up again. This fight shouldn’t be happening because Jones is no way clean entering this fight. It just logically has so many red flags and Dana White, Jeff Nowistky, and Jon Jones refused to actually answer questions that the media had after they had time to research it all. The rest of this card though is pretty awesome so be excited for that.
UFC Fightpass Prelims @ 6:15 PM/ET:
Brian Kelleher (19-9) vs. Montel Jackson (6-1): We kick off the night in the bantamweight division. Look I know its brutal and not a good strategy as I have seen that over 60% of the fighters that come in overweight win their fights, but I can’t take an unprofessional fighter, so I will just simply say I am taking Kelleher by round 2 TKO after Jackson tires from a bad weight cut. - Matt K
Kelleher via 2nd round submission. The constant pressure of Kelleher and the take downs will be too much for Jackson. - Blake English
Curtis Millender (16-3) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1): This fight in the welterweight division should be exciting. Both of these guys could stop this fight but the better all-around fighter in MMA skills is Siyar in this one. Millender will have the reach advantage and looks to be the more defined fighter entering this one. I do believe if the fight goes longer than a round, we will see Siyar land a take down which could be the end of the fight as his ground game skills are better than his opponents. This fight will surely be one to entertain the fans, but I believe we will see Curtis Millender pull it off and grab himself a late 1st round TKO. - Matt K
Siyar has some great skills, but can be flustered by faster strikers. Millender's also huge by comparisson and has a better reach with more complete striking. Millender by decision. - Blake
#13 (14) Uriah Hall (14-9) vs. Bevon Lewis (6-0): This middleweight fight will not go the distance. We will see Uriah Hall take on a UFC new comer. So, after watching Bevon’s contender series fights I have to admit this dude is a lot more dangerous than I thought he was for Uriah Hall. He throws some freaking nice elbows in the clinch and knows how to land some devastating knees in the clinch or leaving the clinch. I really like what I have seen of him on his feet as he is an aggressive fighter. Uriah is a beast of a fighter sometimes he seems to come into fights with a different attitude. Uriah wins the fights where he is the aggressor on his feet and loses the fights where he is fighting from his heels, so this fight is as simple as in which way will he approach this fight. I am torn on this fight as I have gone back and forth multiple times changing my pick and here Friday night its time to lock in my answer. I could see it go either way, but I am going to take the newcomer Bevon Lewis by way of 2nd round KO. - Matt K
Lewis is great in the clinch, but i feel he will rush it and get caught by a kick from Hall. Hall by 1st round KO. - Blake
Nathaniel Wood (14-3) Vs. Andre Ewell (13-4): The Bantamweight division takes the spotlight in the UFC Fightpass prelims main event. I really like this fight and believe we could see a KO ending as this fight should be close. I think Ewell’s reach advantage will give him a strong advantage in this one as it is a 7-inch advantage for Ewell. Ewell though will need to make sure he lands often and prevents Wood from closing the distance as Wood is the more powerful striker. I am intrigued to see if Wood can close the distance because if he can he will be okay and could win this fight with his striking skills or on the mat as I do believe he is the better ground game. I have Nathaniel Wood closing the distance early in round 2 and landing a devastating knockdown and will grab the submission once Ewell is on the mat. - Matt K
They both aren't good defensively which makes it tough to pick but I am taking Ewell via decision. - Blake
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
BJ Penn (16-12-2) vs. Ryan Hall (6-1): Kicking off the night we see a relative new comer going up against a UFC Hall of Famer. Ryan Hall has won 4 of his 6 fights by finish with 2 by each way of finish. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and favors leg locks which is a tricky set of techniques to get used to. He hasn't had many fights in the UFC so the stats are a little limited, but he has managed a 73% striking defense and nobody has attempted to take him down yet. He is fighting against Hall of Famer BJ Penn who used to be a great fighter, but in my opinion needs to retire. In his career he has won 7 fights by knockout and 6 by submission with 6 first round finishes. He is a 5th degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has maintained a pretty solid grappling with 57% takedown success and 75% takedown defense. However, Penn has lost all of his last 5 fights and and has even retired once in between these losses. He was a great fighter and any long time fight fans probably remember one of his classics, but he needs to call it quits. I'm going with Ryan Hall via submission in the second round - Mike W
I have Ryan Hall winning this fight easily picking up a 2nd round TKO after a 10-8 round 1. - Matt K
This fight will depress me because it shouldn't even be happening. No Comments. Ryan Hall 2nd round KO. - Blake
(#14) Douglas Silva de Andrade (25-2) vs. Petr Yan (10-1): Moving on we come to the only bantamweight matchup of the night. Petr Yan is a powerhouse. He has 4 wins by knockout and 1 by submission with 3 first round finishes. He has an average if 6.7 significant strikes per minute and only absorbs 3.75 a minute. Yan has a 72% striking defense and a 88% takedown defense. He is a Master of Sport in boxing and MMA which is a term referring to a National Champion level athlete in USSR competitive sport rankings. His opponent is just as much of a steamroller. Douglas Silva de Andrade has 19 knockouts under his belt with 10 finished in the first. He lands and absorbs the same amount of significant strikes at an average of 4 per minute. He has a good defense at 61% of strikes defended and 68% of takedowns. I believe Petr Yan is a much more aggressive fighter with a better defense. These two will probably exchange well in the first round and in the second Petr Yan will get a nasty TKO. - Mike W
This fight is hard to call but I am going to pick Petr Yan to land a 3rd round big shot TKO victory.
- Matt K
This fight is tough to decide and i think it will be the best fight on the undercard. I'll take Yan via 3rd round TKO. - Blake
(#5) Cat Zingano (10-3) vs. Megan Anderson (8-3): Next up is one of two women's fights tonight. Megan Anderson is entering her second fight in the UFC after losing by a close decision to Holly Holm. She has 4 wins by knockout and 2 by submission with 3 in the first. Anderson is an aggressive striker that walks her opponents down and packs a lot of power. Her submissions came from beating her opponents down and then hopping on after they got rocked. Her opponent is one of the top 5 women bantamweights. Cat Zingano has 5 knockouts and 3 submissions. In college she wrestled in a women's league and was a 4-time All-American and National Champion. She does not a great takedown defense in MMA with only 42%, but a good takedown accuracy with 65%. Anderson was winning against Holm until Holm was able to get her to the ground and take over. While that's a very real possibility against Zingano, Zingano doesn't have a good striking defense and I believe Anderson will be able to keep it where she wants it and get a TKO in the third. - Mike
I agree with Mike entirely on this one exact same finish. - Matt
Anderson will rush into her striking and fall into a Zingano takedown which leads to a 1st round Cat Zingano submission. - Blake
(#13) Andrei Arlovski (27-17) vs. Walt Harris (11-7): Main eventing the prelims is a heavyweight matchup. Walt Harris has gotten all of his wins by knockout and only two haven't been in the first round. Harris didn't start MMA until after he graduated college and in that time he became a State Golden Glove Champ in two different states. In MMA he has a poor takedown rate with only 33% successful, but maintains a good striking defense at 63% and a great takedown defense at 75%. His opponent is a heavyweight veteran. Andrei Arlovski has won 17 fights by knockout and 3 by submission with 13 first round finishes. He is an International Master of Sport in Sambo which is the USSR sport ranking equivalent to an International champion and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Similar to BJ Penn, he used to be great but now he has only won 2 of his last 9 fights. If you are wondering how he can still be ranked like that it just goes to show how much talent is lacking in the heavyweight division these days. I think Arlovski should be on his way out like Penn and Harris will pickup a knockout in the first or second round. - Mike
I think Walt knocks out Arlovski in the first round after both land some big shots. Harris will close the gap and finish this thing. - Matt
Walt will end up being too much for Arlovski. Arlovski will shoot for a takedown and end up getting caught with an uppercut. Harris via 2nd round KO. - Blake
UFC 232 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#5 Chad Mendes (18-4) vs. #11 (10) Alexander Volkanovski (18-1): Finally at the main card and we are going to see a ton of rankers here tonight. First up is a man on a 15 fight win streak. Alexander Volkanovski has 10 wins by knockout and 3 by submission with 7 finishes in the first. He averages 6.1 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 2.5 per minute. He may be able to neutralize Mendes' wrestling with his brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and 82% success rate of defending takedowns. Mendes has hit a rough patch recently, once being on a 5 fight win streak then only winning 2 of his 5 fights since. He has 8 wins by knockout and 2 by submission and has a great defense with striking being 68% and takedown at 100%. Volkanovski is a freight train able to do a bunch of damage without taking really any and Mendes hasn't been able to put wins together. I think Mendes will use his wrestling to get through the first, but Volkanovski will eventually land one to get the TKO in the second round. - Mike
I am going to take Chad Mendes via 3rd round TKO from ground and pound. - Matt
Volkanovski is good, but I feel he is being rushed up in the competition push. Mendes will be too much for him and win by 3rd round TKO. - Blake
#4 (5) Ilir Latifi (15-5, 1NC) vs. #9 (10) Corey Anderson (11-4): Next up is a fight between two guys that are stylistically similar. Both men are good strikers with wrestling intensive backgrounds. However I will say right now that I see Latifi is all around better. Anderson has won 4 of his fights by knockout, however he hasn't gotten a single finish since early 2014. He has a good takedown defense, but only blocks about half the shots attempted against him. Latifi has 5 wins by knockout and 5 wins by submission with all of his finishes in the first round. He has won National Championships in Swedish Greco-Roman tournaments. He takes more significant strikes than he lands, but when he lands they are bombs. He has also never been taken down. I see Latifi taking complete control of the fight, taking Anderson down early and grinding him until he gets a TKO in either the first or second round. - Mike
Ah one of those fights I feel very confident about on this card. Corey has shown some holes in his game and a lack of pace multiple times in his UFC career which I believe will get exploited here as he seems to be an inconsistent fighter. He won’t be able to wrestle his way out of a dangerous situation in this fight either as he will have to rely on his standup skills which I am not sure can win him this fight regardless of a 5.5-inch reach advantage. Ilir is the fighter I am the most confident in on this entire card. He is coming in with momentum, confidence, and an improved skill set each time we see him fight. I believe Latifi will show he is the far superior fighter in this one and pick up a 2nd round TKO. - Matt
Latifi is going to dominate Anderson. Latifi via 2nd round KO. - Blake
Carlos Condit (27-5) vs. Michael Chiesa (14-4): We are right back to older fighters trying to come back and prove they are still relevant. Michael Chiesa has 10 submissions in his career and 5 of them were in the first. He doesn't have a super successful takedown rate with 39%, but he attempts a lot and usually gets it to the ground where he unloads nasty ground and pound from the mount and then sinks in chokes for the win. His opponent is Carlos Condit who has lost his last 4 fights. In his career he has won 15 by knockout and 13 by submission with 21 in the first round. As a matter of fact all of his first 15 wins were in the first. However recently he has been unable to get a win and I believe Chiesa will make it very hard tonight. Condit has been having a lot of problems and even though Chiesa has also lost his last two, they were because he had weight cutting issues and is now up to 170. I think Chiesa is going to have his way with Condit and get him to the ground, pummel from mount and get a submission in the second. - Mike
I feel bad for Condit as I believe Chiesa is where he belongs now and is coming to claim some wins fast in this division and get a title shot in the next year. Chiesa wins by 2nd round submission. - Matt
I have loved Condit forever and my heart says Condit, but I think Chiesa wins via 3rd round submission. - Blake
Champion Cris Cyborg (20-1, 1NC) vs. BW Champion Amanda Nunes (16-4): Moving into the co-main event of the night and we get a super fight between two of the baddest women on the planet, the bantamweight and featherweight champion. Amanda Nunes is currently on a seven fight win streak. She has 11 wins by knockout and 3 wins by submission with 11 finishes in the first. She is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and brown belt in judo. Nunes lands an average of 4.5 significant strikes per minute and absorbs an average of 3.2 per minute. Going along with her 59% striking defense she doesn't have a great defense, but makes up for it with intensity and a successful offense. Her opponent hasn't lost a fight since her very first. She has won 17 fights by knockout and 10 of them were in the first round. Cyborg lands an average of 6.8 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.2 per minute meaning Cyborg and Nunes take about the same amount of strikes, but Cyborg lands more than 2 significant strikes per minute than Nunes. She also has a 70% striking defense and 91% takedown defense. I like Amanda Nunes and she has knockout power, but I can't help but see Cyborg as the better fighter. I think this is going to be a war and probably fight of the night. I believe that sometime in the third or fourth round Cyborg will get the TKO. - Mike
The Co-main event of UFC 232. This fight will be freaking incredible and could be the best fight of the night. This fight is taking place in the featherweight division for the featherweight belt between two killer women. They will most likely stand and exchange landing big shots and test each other’s chin. I am not sure who will last the longest between the two, but I have a weird feeling that Amanda Nunes is going to grab the win via a big shot that catches Cyborg and gets Nunes to close the distance and land until the referee steps in. Amanda Nunes wins this fight via 4th round TKO. - Matt
I believe this is my favorite fight of the night and probably the best women's fight we will see. If this was 5 years ago i would say Cyborgs lack of stamina would cost her, but as we have seen Cyborg can go pretty far into fights and her strength will just be too much. Cyborg via decision. - Blake
#2 (1) Jon Jones (23-1) vs. #1 (2) Alexander Gustafsson (18-4): Here we are at the main event and this one might get a bit messy. It's not often I'm going to write picks like this because we don't see someone who cheats this much and gets away with it. Before anyone wants to argue about which side you take on this one as "accidental" or "left-over" from the last test realize that it shouldn't matter anymore. This is drug test failure number 6 and at some point the excuses need to stop. For those that don't want to believe me I'm going to list them. Prior to UFC 182 Jones took his pre-fight drug test and while there was no official substance found, his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio was unnaturally low and many experts noted that was a usual sign of cycling off steroids. April 27th of 2015 was when the hit-and-run happened and the police found marijuana in his system for which he was suspended. UFC 200 he was supposed to fight Dan Cormier, but tested positive for an unnamed P.E.D. and cocaine. July 18th of 2016 he tested positive for two hormone regulators which in competition are seen as P.E.D.s due to increasing the amount of testosterone in your system. August 22nd of 2017 he tested positive for turinabol which is the steroid they are now claiming is still left over in his system. I don't care if he wins or loses tonight or if he keeps fighting and never loses I will always see him as a cheater. From there I am probably going to get more controversial and say Gustafsson is going to win this one. Last fight I believe was a tie and ties always go to the champ. Gustafsson is a different fighter since then and he doesn't have a great striking defense, but lands almost double what he takes. Plus he knows what Jones is bringing to the table because Jones never adapts or evolves. His last 4 of 5 wins were decision because he abuses his length in the form of front leg kicks to keep his opponent too far away and lands shots off of that distance. This may sound crazy going against Jones, but Gustafsson needs to stand with him. Jones does really well in the clinch and ground so Gustafsson needs to stay standing and utilize the striking defense that has been a lot better in his last few fights and use his combinations and crazy stopping power. I think Gustafsson will get the TKO in the fourth. - Mike Whitestone
The most controversial main event in the history of the UFC. This will be the 2nd fight between the two fighters in our main event, which I believe needed to happen already, because I strongly believe the judges got the first one wrong. Jon is on some type of steroid again which really isn’t shocking to me anymore which is a shame because he has so much talent, he doesn’t need to back it up with PED’s. Gustafsson has shown improvement in his few fights since his last fight with Jones. Gus is also coming into this fight with some added passion and a point to prove as he was robbed in his mind during their last fight plus another positive test for Jon. Jon Jones is simply dangerous because he wears you down with leg kicks and then picks his opponents apart as they can’t use their front leg for power anymore. Gustafsson simply is a well-rounded striker who can land some kicks and throws shots from either hand, but his power hand is always waiting to land out of nowhere. I know it is a shocking outcome, but I have Gustafsson winning this fight in the 2nd round via a straight up KO! – Matt Koontz
I believe this fight will go to decision again and i don't see Jones losing a decision. Jon Jones via decision to become the LHW champion of the world again. - Blake
Dan Ige (9-2) vs. Jordan Griffin (17-5): Starting this fight is a featherweight bout between a UFC debut and someone still new to the UFC. Jordan Griffin is making his debut tonight and interestingly he has the larger fight record. Griffin has won 8 fights by submission and 5 by knockout with 6 first round finishes. He fights out of Roufusport gym in Milwaukee so he has a lot of top tier training partners. Although his opponent has exactly half the amount of total fights and wins, Dan Ige has a slightly higher finishing percentage. Ige has won 4 fights by submission and 3 by knockout with 4 finishes in the first. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and brown belt in judo, which unfortunately hasn't translated well in the UFC yet with a 14% takedown success rate and 50% defense rate. Ige is 2-1 in the UFC, but Griffin has more fight experience and he also prefers the ground game and submissions so I think Ige's grappling stats will put him in jeopardy and Jordan Griffin will pick up a debut win via third round submission.
Gerald Meerschaert (28-9) vs. Jack Hermansson (17-4): Up next will showcase a difference in fight styles. Jack Hermansson is coming into this fight with a 6.5 inch leg reach advantage which will probably be a huge favor for him since he's the striker. In fact, 11 of his 17 wins were by knockout, with 3 more by submission. He is not great at takedowns, but has a pretty good defense defending 63% of strikes and 69% of takedowns. His opponent prefers to grapple with 20 wins by submission, even though he isn't afraid to use his striking with 6 wins by knockout. It's interesting to see that his takedown average is pretty low only succeeding 42% of the time, which may mean that he gets taken down a good bit and manages to come out on top. That could be further backed up by seeing his defense stats because he only defends half of incoming strikes and takedowns. I think the way Meerschaert fights and wins is a direct contrast to how Hermansson fights so Gerald is going to have a hard time getting this to the ground. For that reason I see Hermansson controlling this fight and getting a TKO finish in the third.
Jared Gordon (14-2) vs. Joaquim Silva (10-1): This fight will be between two lightweights with almost the same record. Also they are both almost the exact same height, reach and leg reach. They even have the same number of finishes with the slight difference being Gordon has 6 wins by knockout and 2 by submission where Silva has 5 by knockout and 3 by submission. Where they start to differ is that Joaquim Silva is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. In his 4 UFC fights he hasn't attempted a single takedown and has a pretty decent defense with 64% successful striking and 65% for takedowns. He also lands an average of 3 significant strikes per minute. Gordon on the other hand, lands 6.68 significant strikes per minute which is more than double his opponent. In his three UFC fights he has never been taken down, has a 68% striking defense and 42% takedown success rate. I don't understand who he is training with that makes him prefer his striking so much because he trains with Renzo Gracie and John Danaher. I'm sure everybody knows the Gracie name and for those who don't know John Danaher is the leader of "Danaher's Death Squad" which pretty much encompasses all of his trainees because they are known to absolutely dominate no-gi competitive jiu-jitsu. Including the fact that Gordon is a brown belt I would think he would be lethal on the ground, but it doesn't seem to translate. Even without this massive skill-set, Gordon has better defense than Silva and lands way more often with harder shots so I'm going to call that Gordon will get a knockout in the first.
Bobby Green (24-8-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (9-1-1): This matchup will see a veteran versus a relative newcomer. Drakkar Klose was at one point a finishing machine. In his first 5 fights, he won all of them and 4 of them were by knockout. From there all six of the rest of his fights, including the loss and tie, were all ended by decision. He isn't very successful with takedowns at only 40% success rate, but both his striking and takedown defense are close to 70%. Bobby Green has a slightly better defense than Klose, but when people land on him they land hard because he takes an average of 4.5 significant shots per minute. Green has a good offense being able to secure 9 submission wins, 8 knockouts and 9 finishes in the first. He also lands an average of 5 significant strikes per minute while Klose only lands 3.3 a minute. I think this will be a good back and forth and will last a while because both men take multiple rounds to finish their fights. I'm going to call this a decision win in favor of Bobby Green because of his better defense.
(#10) Jessica-Rose Clark (9-5) vs. (#15) Andrea Lee (9-2): As we come close to wrapping things up for the prelims we see our only female fight for the night. Andrea Lee is an all-around accomplished martial artist. She is certified in Muay Thai, has won multiple state level Golden Gloves for boxing, was 1-0 in pro kickboxing, purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, brown belt in judo and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. In MMA, she has 4 wins by submission and 2 by knockout with 2 in the first. She is also on a 5 fight win streak. Her opponent, Jessica-Rose Clark has an even split of 2 wins by knockout and 2 by submission. Of her three fights in the UFC she is 2-1 with wins over Bec Rawlings and Paige VanZant. 10 of her 14 fights have gone to decision, win or lose, so she has proven she can go the distance. While her striking defense is only slightly less than Lee's (61% to Lee's 67%) Clark absorbs an average of 4 significant strikes per minute while Lee only absorbs and average of 1.6. I think this is going to be a hard fought battle between these two and Lee will come out with a TKO in the third due to extensive martial arts background and her better defense in the cage.
Zak Ottow (16-6) vs. Dwight Grant (8-1): Main event for the prelims is here and we have a man making his UFC debut against someone who is having a rocky start in his UFC career. Dwight Grant is debuting on a 7 fight win streak. 5 of his wins, including his last on Contender Series, have been by knockout. He is also coming in with a 4 inch arm and leg reach advantage. His opponent, Zak Ottow, has won 10 of his fights by submission and 3 by knockout with 9 in the first round. Ottow is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and orange belt in taekwondo. The reason I say Ottow has been having troubles is that he is 3-3 in his UFC career. Due to that his striking and takedown defense is sub-par. As dangerous as his submissions were, he hasn't submitted anybody since 8 fights ago and hasn't gotten any in the UFC. I believe that Dwight Grant will take over here and get a TKO stoppage in the first or second round.
Fight Night Main Card
Jim Miller (29-12) vs. Charles Oliveira (23-8): After a larger than usual prelim card we are moving into the final four. Kicking off the main card is a fight between two veteran lightweights. Miller has spent over a decade in the UFC and Oliveira is the current record holder for most wins by submission in UFC history. Oliveira is coming into this fight with a 2 inch height and 3 inch reach advantage. This probably comes into play for his 16 career wins by submission and 6 by knockout with 14 for them coming to an end in the first, while also a wielder of a black belt in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. He has a solid defense with 54% of incoming strikes defended and 60% of opposing takedowns. These two have fought before in 2010 and Jim Miller put an end to Oliveira's 14 fight unbeaten streak. Miller is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but was a Division I wrestler in college as opposed to Oliveira's Muay Thai. Miller has 15 submissions and 4 knockouts making him a good matchup to Charles and probably why he won the first time. However, Miller may have a slightly better striking defense with 59%, but he has a worse takedown defense with 47% which works in Oliveira's favor since he prefers the ground. On top of that, Miller has only won 1 of his last 5 fights so I think that Oliveira is going to end this with a submission in the second.
(#11) Rob Font (15-4) vs. (#2 Fly) Sergio Pettis (17-5): Up next is a bantamweight bout looking to see where Sergio lands with his weight class shift. This is his first fight at bantamweight since 2014. I didn't realize this without looking it up, but he has shifted multiple times between bantamweight and flyweight in his career and has just admitted in a recent interview that he occasionally gets up to 170 in between fight camps. Upon hearing that I am personally relieved that he has decided to go up and hope he fits better in the new class. Doing a little extra research after seeing this i found out that Sergio is 9-1 at 135 and 8-3 at 125. While those records are pretty similar, 4 of his six finishes were at (135)bantamweight. I think these extra 10 pounds will create a monster most people haven't quite seen from this Pettis. In addition to those facts he is also a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo, a black belt in Roufusport kickboxing and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Rob Font is an aggressive striker that Pettis will need to take caution over. Font has a 2 inch height and reach advantage. He also has 7 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 7 finishes in the first. Where his weakness lies is his grappling. Regardless of his purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he has only completed 29% of his attempted takedowns and has only defended 25% of opposing ones. I also noticed he is only a white belt in Muay Thai even though he trains at Team Sityodtong, which is a worldwide Muay Thai gym where he trains out of the famous Boston area gym headed by Mark Dellagrotte. With that kind of knowledge and experience backing him he has a ton of room to grow in his standup and clinch. I believe that Pettis will take advantage of Font's weakness and take this to the mat where he gets a submission in the second.
(#5) Edson Barboza (19-5) vs. (#14) Dan Hooker (18-7): The co-main is upon us and as a Barboza fan this is probably the fight I'm most excited for. Dan Hooker has finished almost all of his wins with 9 knockouts and 7 submissions making only 2 wins by decision. He is a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was 9-1 as a pro kickboxer. His striking defense and takedown accuracy are alright sitting around 50%, but his takedown defense is 76%. Barboza has a lower finishing rate than his opponent, but he still has 11 wins by knockout and is known for being very fun to watch. Edson Barboza is similar to Andrea Lee in martial arts experience. He is a black belt in both taekwondo and Muay Thai, which earned him many National awards in Brazil, is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and was a pro kickboxer with a record of 25-3(22 KO's). This fight is going to be nuts with both men being outstanding strikers and both having a great takedown defense to probably keep this fight standing. I don't think this will last long though because neither have a great striking defense so with a good back and forth Barboza will get the knockout towards the end of the first.
(#4) Kevin Lee (16-4) vs. (#8) Al Iaquinta (13-4-1): Main Event time and we get to see the rematch between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta. Last time was in 2014 and Iaquinta won by decision. In his career, Iaquinta has won 7 fights by knockout and 1 by submission with 5 first round finishes. For being a college wrestler he has a surprisingly low takedown accuracy with only 28%, but has defended 77% of opposing takedowns. Since he doesn't fight often, people may only know him from his loss to Khabib and may think poorly of him. I want to let those people know, and maybe remind old fans, before that he was on a five fight win streak beating names such as Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal and Diego Sanchez.On the other side of the cage, Kevin Lee is coming in with a whopping 7 inch reach advantage. Some fighters are unaffected by being at a reach disadvantage, but with a brawler like Lee it could be tough. Kevin Lee was an undefeated Division II college wrestler before dropping out to pursue an MMA career. In MMA he has gathered 8 wins by submission and 2 by knockout. Lee is a high-energy fighter that mixes heavy shots and constant clinch and takedown pressure. His goal is to wear you out, beat you up, and lock up a submission before you even know what happened. In their last fight, Kevin Lee didn't start with the intensity he normally shows and Iaquinta was able to get more takedowns and attempt a few submissions of his own. Lee began to come back, but Al kept the lead the whole fight. It needs to be noted that fight happened four years ago and Lee has won 10 of his 12 fights since and Iaquinta has only won 5 of 7 fights. Lee has fought close to double the amount and in my opinion has grown a lot more in that time. I believe he has gotten faster and more aggressive and with how close the last fight was I think that will make the difference and he will pull out a submission win in the third.
UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega: This card is stacked. Enjoy my predictions for one of the best cards we have ever seen put together. We have Renato Moicano sitting on standby to wait for the replacement fighter in the main event. We also have Katlyn Chookagian on standby for the co-main incase something happens. Here is my call for this fight card.
FS1 Prelims @ 8 PM/ET:
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-3) Vs. Gilbert Burns (13-3): These two lightweights kick off the televised fights and both are incredibly skilled fighters coming off tough losses. Mercier is a great wrestler and a mauler who is one tough ass dude. Mercier will be the better fighter on the mat in this one and most likely look to get it there. He will be fighting in front of his home town fans and have the extra energy from the crowd. Gilbert Burns is a brawler with a great set of ground skills as well, but his striking is remarkable. Burns hits hard and is dangerous for Mercier in this fight if it remains a striking exchange between the two. I am really excited to watch this one as I believe the winner will find a number next to their name this coming week. I have Mercier taking this one to the ground in round 3 and picking up a submission victory.
#10 (14) Elias Theodorou (16-2) Vs. #15 (NR) Eryk Anders (11-2): This middleweight fight could easily be a candidate for FOTN or POTN depending. Elias is a freak of nature that is on an unstoppable path to the top. He had two fights against Antonio Carlos Junior cancelled due to ACJ pulling out twice due to injury, so they have moved on to Eryk Anders which should be a great fight. Elias is a phenomenal striker and an underestimated wrestler as he is dangerous in all aspects of MMA. He will be fighting at home in this one and have the support of the fan base. His opponent Eryk Anders is a beast who has found his home in the UFC, his last fight was a replacement fight in the wrong division for himself as he is better off back in the middleweight division like he is now. His only middleweight loss comes to Lyoto Machida. He has flashy KO power and an incredible wrestling skill set. His stamina and toughness come from his days as a championship winning linebacker under Nick Saban at Alabama. This fight will be a real fun one for the fans, I do not believe it will last long though as one of these guys will land a big shot and lead to KO. I have Theodorou picking up the win towards the end of round 1 via TKO due to punches.
#2 (3) Katlyn Chookagian Vs. #8 (9) Jessica Eye (13-6, 1NC): This fight is most likely a battle for the #1 contender for the women’s flyweight belt as Katlyn is the replacement fighter if someone drops out of the co-main. These two women will be most likely going the distance as it just fits their fight style and tendencies. Both women will grind out their wins with striking and clinch control. They don’t put on shows fans love to watch but they are talented mixed martial artists that deserve a spotlight here. I think we will see a back and forth fight that will go the full 15 minutes. I have Chookagian winning this one by split decision in a good fight.
#5 (3) Claudia Gadelha (16-3) Vs. #10 (11) Nina Ansaroff (9-5): The main event of the prelims should be a good one between two bad ass women ready to brawl for a shot to be mentioned in the title picture. Claudia, we have seen have two title shots and a shot at the current title challenger Jessica Andrade and she hasn’t found her form that we know she is capable of in those fights. When she is on, she is dangerous as they come. This girl is powerful and has a great set of ground skills. Once she gets an opponent to the mat she uses her power and strength for some viscous ground and pound. Nina has really developed into a great martial artist on a winning streak. Nina is the fiancé and training partner of the one of the two scariest women in the UFC, Amanda Nunez. Nina has a decent set of ground game capabilities, but in this fight she is better off keeping it standing as she will have a better shot at picking up the win if this fight stays standing. I am actually excited for this fight as both of these women have a lot to prove here and are going to be coming after a win. I personally will admit I am rooting for Nina as I am a big fan of hers, but I have Claudia winning this one by way of 3rd round ground and pound TKO.
UFC 231 Main Card @ 10 PM/ET:
Hakeem Dawodu (8-1-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak (8-3): The main card is kicked off with a BANG. This fight will not go the distance unless we are disappointed by a letdown performance. Dawodu is a freak of nature that is terrifying to this entire featherweight division. Dawodu hits like a sack of bricks to someone’s head. This kid is going to keep this fight standing and use his incredible speed, clean, accurate, and powerful striking in this fight. His opponent Kyle Bochniak will have to be wary of his opponents’ power and get this fight to the ground. If Kyle can get this fight to the mat, he will be a powerful wrestler that might be able to lock in a submission or at least exhaust his opponent with his wrestling skills. This fight will either be a throwdown that will have all the fans standing or it will be a dominant wrestling display by Kyle where he will lock up a submission and avoid the heavy hands of Dawodu. When the dust settles, I have Hakeem Dawodu winning this fight via 2nd round KO.
#14 (13) Alex Oliveira (19-4-1, 2NC) Vs. NR (14) Gunnar Nelson (16-3-1): Well here we are in the welterweight division in a fight between two finishers. Cowboy Oliveira is dangerous everywhere as he loves to pick up POTN bonuses. His KO ability though is where he shines and what he will need to rely on in this fight. He has fast hands and a never say die attitude will be his needed weapons in this one. His opponent Gunnar Nelson is one of the most dangerous BJJ specialists in the world as there is a Nelson Jiujitsu because of him. Nelson will need to get this fight to the mat even if he pulls guard, he will have the advantage. This fight will be very interesting because standing its going to be all Oliveira but, on the mat, it will be all Nelson. I am going to take the fresher fighter with Oliveira picking up a 2nd round KO of Gunnar sending the jiujitsu legend out of the UFC ranks for now.
#8 (7) Jimi Manuwa (17-4) Vs. #15 (15) Thiago Santos (19-6): This fight was supposed to happen a couple months ago but Manuwa got hurt in Brazil. Manuwa knows if he loses this fight, he might not ever see a title opportunity again. This fight is simply going to be a bloody throwdown that will get all the fans hearts going before the Co-main and main events. Both of these guys can end a fight with one single shot. I absolutely love Thiago Santos in the LHW division and not the middleweight division. This fight should truly live up to all the hype that it has behind it as a crazy good light heavyweight fight between two guys who can knockout anyone in the division with one clean shot. I am going to take Thiago Santos by way of 2nd round TKO.
#1 Valentina Shevchenko (15-3) Vs. #2 (1) (SW) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-2): Oh lord the battle for the women’s flyweight belt is going to be insane! I am so excited for this fight that it could be the only fight on the PPV and I would be buying it. Valentina is a stone-cold savage and is my other female I have said absolutely terrifies me with her former rival Amanda Nunez. Valentina is a beast every where the fight goes, and she NEVER gets tired and could go 50 minutes inside the cage which is what makes her the most dangerous. She is going to be coming into this fight with a fire and passion we have yet to see as her long-awaited goal to get a UFC belt around her deserving waist is only one victory away. This division was created for her in my eyes as this is her natural division and the one where she is the most dangerous. Her opponent is another Muay Thai beast and one we are all familiar with. Joanna is finally moving up to the division that is better for her than the strawweight division. She is a dangerous and aggressive striker as we know who pushes the gas pedal her whole fight. This fight should be really interesting as both women are normally the aggressor, and both can land a lot of strikes in a short period of time. I have to say I believe the 2-fight losing streak vs the momentum and desire we see in Valentina right now is the fight winning story for this one. Valentina Shevchenko will win her first UFC belt and be the women’s flyweight champion following a 3rd round TKO with some vicious ground and pound.
Champion Max Holloway (19-3) Vs. #1 (1) Brian Ortega (14-0, 1NC): ITS TIME!!!! A fight we lost out on due to a terrifying health scare to Max Holloway. When that fight was scrapped Ortega was offered multiple fighters, but he tucked his tail and ran. No matter this fight is back on and hopefully Holloway is fully healthy for this one as he will need to be. Ortega is semi-dangerous on his feet but the real threat he has in this fight are his absolutely incredible ground skills. If Ortega gets this one to the mat it might be over as I believe he will test the stand-up first but realize he is way outmatched on his feet and go to ground if he can. Holloway is in my eyes one of the 2 best champions in the UFC along with Whittaker as he is all-around dangerous and will fight ANYONE not take easy fights like our current double champion. Max is going to be better off keeping this fighting standing and if he does so he will win this one as his striking and constant pressure will exhaust Ortega. Max is one of the best strikers in the world and his pace and ability to exhaust his opponents is remarkable. I have no clue who honestly has the edge here because Max’s health concerns me and so does his weight cut so I could see either one winning. I am going to assume Max is healthy and take him because his striking is just too lethal to pass on. Max Holloway via 4th round TKO after a crazy entertaining back and forth.
TUF 28 Finale: Dos Anjos vs. Usman:
FS1 Prelims @ 8 PM/ET:
#3 Joseph Benavidez (25-5) vs. #12 Alex Perez (21-4): The first fight on the televised prelims should be a good fight in the flyweight division. Alex Perez is a 26-year-old prospect in the UFC’s flyweight division. Perez is riding an 8-fight win streak, his last fight was an impressive 1st round KO victory. Perez will be facing the toughest fight of his entire UFC career. Perez is going to get a fight to the ground and look for a submission and avoid Benavidez’s striking skills. Benavidez is a top-level fighter with superior striking skills and a good wrestling game. Benavidez is a clean and powerful striker with the ability to pick up submissions with his knockdowns. His ground and pound though can keep a fight on the mat and exhaust and batter his opponents. I believe Benavidez is slightly the better fighter in this fight though I wouldn’t be shocked to see Perez land a TKO victory. Benavidez will pick up his 6th decision fight in a row but this time will grab the win. Benavidez by split decision over Alex Perez.
Rick Glenn (21-5-1) vs. Kevin Aguilar (15-1): This featherweight fight should be a good showdown
for the fans. I do not believe this fight will go the distance as both of these guys tend to finish over 50% of their fights by way of KO. Kevin Aguilar is a UFC newcomer with a lot of hype behind him. Rick Glenn missed weight for this fight which I think could leave him tired for this fight after a round if it becomes a grueling grappling exchange. I believe Aguilar will pick up a win in this fight via 2nd round KO after a slow feeling out period during the 1st round.
FS1 TUF Main Card @ 10 PM/ET:
#11 Ji Yeon Kim (7-1-2) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (6-0): The first fight on the TUF main card is going to be an anticipated fight for fight fans as future champion Valentina Shevchenko’s sister is making her UFC debut in this on. Kim missed weight by 4.5lbs over the flyweight limit. Kim is on a two-fight win streak both wins are by decision. She has an impressive overall record, but she has issues being dominant and her ability to finish is not there. She will be up against it as she fights against Antonina in her UFC debut. Antonina is the older sister of the UFC great Valentina Shevchenko and is also trained by her. She is a well-rounded and talented fighter. I believe she will come into this fight angry about her opponent missing weight. She is the more talented fighter and as along as she doesn’t show UFC debut jitters, she will dominate this fight. I have Antonina winning this one by 3rd round TKO after some viscous ground and pound.
Darren Stewart (9-3) vs. Edmen Shahbazyan (7-0): I am so excited for this fight personally as this middleweight brawl should be extremely entertaining. Edmen is a young and exciting prospect for the UFC’s middleweight division. He is only 20 years old and is coming in unbeaten. His contender series fight is truly something special to watch as he displayed his speed and power in the 40 seconds the fight actually lasted. Edmen has won all 7 fights by way of KO, and all of them are in the first round. His last 4 fights have all ended in the first 68 seconds of the fights. My only concern for Edmen is if he has any ground skills or not, if not in the Middleweight division it will catchup to him. His opponent Darren Stewart is a UFC veteran with a good chin and a ton of power. Stewart is riding a 2-fight, 2 KO win streak. Stewart is the more skilled fighter who like his opponent has a phenomenal striking game with a relatively unknown ground game. These two fighters with similar fight styles should be a great fight for the fans and possibly a fight of the night contender. Edmen has this speed in his hands that I believe will be too much for Darren Stewart and will catch him early. Edmen wins 3 minutes into the 1st round by way of KO.
#9 Pedro Munhoz (16-3, 1NC) vs. #14 Bryan Caraway (21-9): The Bantamweight fight takes place here between two guys headed in opposite directions. Caraway has been less impressive than his younger days lately. His fight with Cody Stamman showed his decline some as he was beat fairly easily. His previous fights before that Stamman fight he was just picking up decision wins, but the Caraway we are used to seeing is a submission artist. Caraway has time to get it going again and if he picks up the win here he will move back up the division ladder and get himself a shot looking into the top 5 soon. His opponent Pedro Munhoz is a great fighter who has been great in the UFC since 2014. He has picked up a 7-2 record since 2014 in the UFC, his 2 losses are to Dodson and Jimmie Rivera, so he should be confident. I don’t believe either fighter will have a true edge on the ground as they are both great submission specialists. Munhoz might have a very slim edge in the striking exchange. This fight is going to be a good one, but I believe it will go to the judges score card. I have the judges scoring a unanimous decision towards Pedro Munhoz 29-28.
Macy Chiasson (2-0) vs. Pannie Kianzad (10-3): This fight is the women’s featherweight TUF finale. These two were both on team Gastelum and developed a friendship during the season as they helped train each other for each other’s opponents. They respect and know each other’s game which sometimes leads to a slow-paced fight as neither can find an edge against one another. I believe Chiasson will find a way to pick up the unanimous decision victory winning the Women’s featherweight TUF finale, earning herself a UFC contract.
Juan Espino (8-1) vs. Justin Frazier (10-2): The co-main event is the TUF heavyweight finale. Frazier is a big boy with some impressive KO power and a slim set of ground skills with the ability to pick up submission wins. Frazier was the last pick in the house during the TUF season and yet here is he with a shot at a UFC contract, prize money, and the TUF trophy. Frazier is representing team Gastelum in a great fight that both fighters believe they could pick up a fight of the night performance. Juan Espino will be representing team Whittaker tonight and is the favorite entering this fight. Espino is an ATT fighter who reminds me of Curtis Blaydes because he has KO power, but is better with his wrestling and submission skills. In his 8 wins Espino has 5 submission victories and I believe he will be best off landing a shot and shooting for the takedown. I believe Espino and Frazier will put on a hell of a show and pick up a POTN bonus. I have Espino winning in round 3 by way of submission earning himself a UFC contract, pay day, and TUF trophy.
#3 Rafael Dos Anjos (28-10) vs. #5 Kamaru Usman (13-1): The main event of the evening is a fight that has my heart racing in the welterweight division. These two savage fighters are both true title contenders I believe that remains the case win or lose. Usman in my opinion is one of the top 3 welterweights in the world along with Askren and Woodley. Usman has the best winning streak in the UFC of all non-title holders and yet he still hasn’t received his title shot. If Usman wins this fight, he deserves an immediate shot at the belt no more screwing him over. This kid has wrestling skills that are nearly unmatched in his division with exception to Askren who has the best skills in the world. Now Usman has some incredible endurance and stamina to go the distance in this possible 25-minute fight. His striking has evolved more and more each time we have seen him in his career and he has KO power that could end a fight with a straight up KO. His opponent is a battle tested UFC veteran and one we love to watch every single time he steps inside the cage door. RDA tends to land himself some takedowns and use his ground and pound to wear out his opponent. He has the ability to finish fights on the mat as well. He has held a belt in the UFC at lightweight and battled for a belt since moving up to welterweight. His skills are extremely well-rounded, but he is a fighter that tends to go to decision by wearing out his opponent and beating them in every aspect of MMA. This fight should start slow as these two will try to figure out where they have an edge on the other. This fight will be incredibly entertaining as I believe this fight will pick up the pace in round 2 and we will see a few knockdowns between the two. I believe in the end Usman will outlast RDA’s onslaught in round 2 and pick up a vicious knockdown in round 4 where he will lock in a submission win.
- Matt Koontz
UFC Denver: 25th Anniversary: The card full of replacement fights including the main event. My picks will be just short glimpses and who I have winning each one.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Mark De La Rosa (10-1) vs. Joby Sanchez (11-3): This is the first fight of the 25th anniversary of the UFC and it will take place in the bantamweight division. This fight is a little off-balanced in skill set as I believe De La Rosa is the better fighter. I think in the first we will see Sanchez land some shots in the 1st but De La Rosa will survive the 1st round. De La Rosa will take Sanchez to the ground in the first minute of the 2nd round and lock up a submission shortly after. – Matt Koontz
Joseph Morales (9-1) vs. Eric Shelton (11-5): The main event of the fight pass prelims is going to be back and forth. Shelton is in dire need of a win as the flyweight division is going to be eliminated in the next few months and he has been struggling in his own division. It is hard to see him getting signed into the bantamweight division while struggling in his own division. Morales is a good young up-and-coming fighter in the UFC. He has a great skill set as he is a great boxer and has a purple belt in BJJ. I think Morales will win this fight via 1st round submission after he gets a knockdown on Shelton. – Matt Koontz
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Devonte Smith (8-1) vs. Julian Erosa (22-6): The first fight of the televised prelims should be a good one. I am really excited to see Devonte Smith make his UFC debut. This kid is impressive, and he was impressive in his DWTNCS win. Erosa is also a contender series alum, he was in the UFC before his contender series fight but that was 2 years ago. This fight should be back and forth as Erosa is the better ground fighter and will look for takedowns. While the fight is a striking exchange Smith will have a slight advantage. I think Smith will get his hand raised after a back and forth. Smith wins via unanimous decision. – Matt Koontz
Davi Ramos (8-2) vs. John Gunther (7-1): The lightweight division will take the spotlight here between two great fighters. Davi Ramos is one incredible fighter I believe will see a number next to his name if he wins this weekend. Ramos is a 4-time world cup Jiu-jitsu champion. He will need to land a takedown to be the dominant fighter in this one as his stand-up has holes in it. Gunther is a good fighter, but he has the gas tank to go 15 minutes. He will have the slight advantage in the stand-up game. He does need to try and avoid the ground as he will be outmatched regardless of his 1000-0 record in Llama wrestling. I believe Ramos will get it to the mat with time and patience. Ramos wins this fight in round 2 by submission. – Matt Koontz
Chas Skelly (17-2) vs. Bobby Moffett (12-3): The featherweight division is going to be on display in a great fight. These two are both great submission specialists. Skelly is coming off an 18-month layoff due to some injuries in which he also had to get Tommy-John surgery. Skelly with a win could get back on track after a tough loss to Jason Knight and see a number next to his name the following week. Moffett is a DWTNCS fighter making his UFC debut here. He has a great ground game just like Skelly and might have a slight edge on the mat. This fight on the ground will be a lot of fun for the fans as both fighters are very skilled on the mat. Skelly wins via 3rd round submission after some really good back and forth. - Matt Koontz
Ashley Yoder (5-4) vs. Amanda Cooper (4-4): This is the main event of the televised prelims and I think if the fight goes longer than 5 minutes it will slow down drastically. Yoder is the better fighter, but she is a ground specialist and if she doesn’t get the fight there will struggle to find a pace. If Cooper wants to win this fight she will need to shoot for a KO or decision. If she wants the decision win though she will need to keep the fight standing and out strike Yoder and use her takedown defense. Yoder is the superior fighter, I have her locking up an early 1st round submission. – Matt Koontz
FS1 Main Card 10 PM/ET:
Michael Trizano (8-0) vs. Luis Pena (5-0): The first fight on the main card celebrating the 25th anniversary of the UFC kicks off in the lightweight division. A battle between two undefeated fighters which should be fun for the fans. This fight is between two good young fighters that both have promise for this division. Trizano was the winner of TUF finale in July. He has KO power which is underrated due to his good mat skills. He will be on the short end of a 3-inch reach advantage, but I believe he will still have the striking advantage in this one. Luis Pena aka Violent Bob Ross is one hell of a fighter with the promise to be a top lightweight by the end of 2019 if he can get 4 fights in next year. Pena is a great grappler with submission skills to throw his name to the ranks in this division already, but he does need to improve his stand-up some to be elite in this division which I believe he is doing. I really am excited for this fight because both of these guys have the promise to be possible title contenders one day. I do believe Pena is the slightly better fighter and will come out aggressive and grab the 1st round submission after a knockdown midway through the first. – Matt Koontz
Maycee Barber (5-0) vs. Hannah Cifers (8-2): This is a fight between two strawweights that I am so excited for. Barber should go up to flyweight honestly as she has had issues making strawweight and she is only 20 years old. She could really make some noise fast in a thin flyweight division. Barber is a well-rounded skilled fighter with finishing abilities anywhere the fight goes. Barber is a 2nd degree black belt in karate and a purple belt in Gracie Jiu-jitsu. She will have the advantage on the mat and regardless of her karate skills I believe is outmatched in her standup. She is the bigger, heavier, longer fighter in this fight and that might be the advantage she needs. Hannah though is a beast I am so excited to see the fans finally get a chance to see this monster making her debut in the UFC. Strawweights pay attention to this young lady she is coming. Cifers is one of my favorite fighters in the UFC and she gained my love by being a pressure fighter. She puts pressure on her opponents and forces her pace down their throat. She has the killer instinct that will gather the attention of all fans as when she rocks someone, she knows but doesn’t gas herself going for the finish she knows how to pick people apart. Her ground game is something people don’t tend to show respect or appreciation to because she is known for her striking, but she is a good fighter on the mat and can hold her own. Her real spotlight is that she has KO power straight KO power in both hands. This fight will be incredibly fun while it lasts as we should see a good back and forth. I have Cifers pulling off the upset and making a statement with a 2nd round KO. – Matt Koontz
Beneil Dariush (14-4-1) vs. Thiago Moises (10-2): Another fight in the lightweight division is going to take place here. Beneil Dariush was once considered a title contender on the brink of the top 5 and is now no longer ranked after a tough run of late. He is 0-2-1 in his last 3 and desperately needs this win to get back on track to the title contention. Dariush is a talented mixed martial artist that has the skill set to become a great fighter that could even hold a title one day he just needs to push his pace and keep his confidence. Thiago Moises is a DWTNCS fighter making his UFC debut against a truly tough test. Moises can find himself immediately ranked if he picks up a win this weekend against Dariush. Moraes is a balanced fighter but will be best using his striking skills if he wants to pick up the win this weekend. He will be outmatched by Dariush on the mat but could land a clean shot standing if he manages to keep it there. I think this fight has the potential to go the distance, but I see Dariush landing takedowns and tiring out Moises and picking up a 3rd round submission over a tired opponent. – Matt Koontz
#3 (4) Raquel Pennington (9-7) vs. NR (5) Germaine de Randamine (7-3): The Women’s bantamweight will close out the women’s fights for the night between two title contenders in their own right. Pennington is coming off a fight where she fought Nunes for the title and was just flat out dominated but she went into that fight injured. She is coming into this fight with a fire in the belly but having a thyroid problem and female issues have made her miss weight after a brutal few attempts to cut weight. Rocky is going to dominate the standup in this fight and if she comes out aggressive like the Rocky we all know and love she will dominate this fight early and end it fast. Now Germaine will look to get this fight to the clinch and use her Muay Thai skills otherwise she could be out powered here. Germaine is a very skilled striker but her power doesn’t match up to the power of Rocky. She will have the superior gas tank in this fight though and if she can weather Rocky’s pressure early she could dominate the late stages of this fight. Nonetheless I have Rocky winning 1st round by TKO getting herself right back into the title picture. – Matt Koontz
#12 (12) Donald Cerrone (33-11, 1NC) vs. Mike Perry (12-3): The rivalry battle is on as our co-main in the heaviest weight class to fight in Denver on this card taking place in the welterweight division. Cerrone is easily the better fighter, cleaner striker, far superior on the mat, better finish instinct. His losses are just sometimes in fights he just seems not fully be himself at times. He has a fire we haven’t seen in Cerrone in a long time coming into this one and Mike Perry better be ready because he is going to be in over his head here. Mike Perry is young and can become a good MMA fighter but right now he has 2 elements. KO power like no other and a personality that is absolute trash and shows no respect and its disgusting. I am sorry but calling out your own teammate Ray Borg is pathetic. Anyway, Perry will need to use whatever takedown defense he has and keep this fight standing, avoid the combinations of Cerrone, and look for his shots to land his heavy hands. Perry truly does have some of most devastating power in the welterweight division. If Perry can land his heavy shot, we will see Cerrone’s eyes roll back, but the issue is he is coming in angry and pissed over a rivalry that has nothing to do with him it’s a issue between Cerrone and Perry’s coach. That’s the same thing we saw with Garbrandt and TJ and it will come to the same result. Cerrone wins by 2nd round submission via RNC breaking two different UFC records, one for the most wins in the UFC and secondly the most finishes in UFC history. – Matt Koontz
#4 (10) Chan Sung Jung (14-4) vs. #14 (15) Yair Rodriguez (11-2): The main event is going to be insane!!!! I am so excited to see the Zombie, Jung, back in the UFC. I missed him during his military duty for South Korea and was so happy seeing him back but its been almost 2 years again since he fought his return fight. Jung is one of the most loved and exciting fighters to watch in UFC history. He just comes at you. The Zombie has finished 11 of his 14 wins and has the only twister submission in UFC history. He will have the clear advantage on the mat in this fight and could dominate Yair and pick up a submission quick, but I believe he will stay standing for a little bit and put on a show with Yair. Yair is a big bantamweight with striking skills that amaze and dazzle everyone. He puts on a show all fight long and truly is one of the most entertaining and unorthodox fighters of all time. Yair if he can keep this fight standing will be throwing some cartwheel kicks and some crazy flying switch kicks. He is one of the best fighters for fan-fare and I am so glad he is back after an 18-month layoff due to injuries. This fight will be fun while they are on their feet. I think the Zombies granite chin and superior ground skills will take effect as the fight goes on. We will see a Korean Zombie 3rd round submission after he lands a powerful knockdown shot. = Matt Koontz
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