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