UFC 221 Romero vs. Rockhold: We are missing Robert Whittaker on this card so the main event will be for the interim Middleweight title. This card down under has some otherwise great fights and some other fights that aren’t top of the line. My predictions will once again be short in some spots and longer in others.
UFC Fight pass prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
Luke Jumeau (12-4) vs. Daichi Abe (6-0): We kick off the night in the welterweight division. This fight will be between two different fight styles. Abe will be looking to keep this fight standing while I expect Jumeau will be looking to get this one to the mat and use his jiu-jitsu skills to pick up the win.
I think this fight will go the distance and Jumeau will do enough to get the split decision victory.
Teruto Ishihara (11-4-2) vs. Jose Quinonez (7-2): This fight is a bantamweight clash between a known finisher in Ishihara and a guy who has the gas tank and tends to use it going the distance in Quinonez. I believe we will see this one stay standing as Teruto will pick up the win in the 2nd round via a TKO after a slow feeling out first round.
Ross Pearson (21-12, 1NC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (19-8-2): This fight in the lightweight division is going to surely have some fireworks and is easily the best fight on the fight pass prelims. Pearson has lost 5 of his last 6 and 4 straight. He needs this win to probably keep his spot in the UFC. Hirota is coming off a loss and wants to rebound immediately here. These guys both finish over 50% of their fights and I expect this one to end in a stoppage as well. I have Pearson bouncing back from his 4 straight losses and picking up a 1st round submission.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
#4 (4) Jussier Formiga (20-5) vs. #7 (8) Ben Nguyen (17-6): This flyweight brawl could make or break either one of these fighters. If Ben wins this fight he will prove he is a top 5 flyweight like I have been saying his skill set and potential can easily take him to. Now Formiga on the other hand if he loses this one will drop out of the top 5 but if he wins this one he becomes once again a title contender. Nguyen has the ability to finish the fight anywhere the fight goes. Formiga on the other hand has never stopped a fight standing as his ground skills are superior. If Formiga wants to secure a win in this one, he needs to find a way to get it to the ground and fast. Nguyen should be a favorite if you ask me though as his ground skills are underrated because of how dominant his striking is. This kid could climb this divisional ladder and find himself fighting DJ for the belt by the end of 2018 if the UFC matchmakers give him the proper shots. I have Nguyen winning this fight via 1st round KO, catching Formiga as he shoots in for a takedown.
Alexander Volkanovski (16-1) vs. Jeremy Kennedy (11-0): These two featherweights are bound for the rankings and the winner of this one should find himself ranked the following week. Jeremy Kennedy is putting his undefeated record on the line here and has a lot to worry about as he faces a powerful dude in Volkanovski in his home country. This fight should be a good one if they both have their stamina because this will be a great show for the fans. I think Kennedy picks up his first loss though in this one as Volkanovski gets a 2nd round KO.
Rob Wilkinson (11-1) vs. Isreal Adesanya (11-0): This middleweight fight will most likely end with a stoppage. Isreal is making his UFC debut and is one to watch in the division immediately. This dude is one powerhouse that might not be stopped till he gets to the top. His opponent Wilkinson has some qualities that remind me of Rockhold some with some good power and absolutely phenomenal ground and pound. This fight should be very interesting to say the least and is one of the fights I am most excited for on this card. I have Adesanya winning this fight in the 1st round with a devastating KO.
Damien Brown (17-11) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3): The main event of the televised prelims takes place in the lightweight division. Don’t get confused this Kim isn’t the “stungun” from the welterweight division as they share the same name. I think this fight will be razor thin and back and forth. I have see a slight edge to Damien Brown’s skill set and think he will pick up the unanimous decision victory.
UFC 221 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#11 (13) Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs. Saparbek Safarov (8-1): The first fight of the Main Card is going to take place in the Light heavyweight division. Neither fighter has ever let a fight go to decision before and I expect this one to be the same way. Tyson gets to have this fight at home and is one kid to watch in this division as I expect to see him ascend the rankings in this division. Safarov is one to be wary of though as his hands can stop a fight with just one clean shot as he posses great power and footwork. I think Safarov’s power will keep Pedro from getting his takedown early that he will most likely be looking for, but he will find it in round 2. With that takedown I expect Pedro will lock in a submission victory and continue his climb in this division.
Jake Matthews (12-3) vs. Li Jingliang (14-4): We move on to a welterweight battle between two well rounded fighters who both hope to see themselves enter the rankings in this division soon. Jake has struggled on and off as we originally hoped to see him become a serious contender and has struggled to reach that expectation yet. Now Li Jingliang has won 4 in a row and will find himself ranked I believe with another win here. This fight should be a good one though as they both finish a fair amount of fights and can do so either on the mat or standing.
Tai Tuivasa (8-0) vs. Cyril Asker (9-3): A heavyweight showdown with a beastly undefeated kid, Tai Tuivasa, vs a very well rounded Cyril Asker. I think the power of Tai is going to be too much to handle though and he will shut down Cyril in the first round via KO power. Tai will get his 9th win in the first round. Tai also could find himself ranked at the beginning of the week coming up after a win in this one as it will prove undeniable that he is destined to be a contender in this division.
#5 (5) Mark Hunt (13-11-1, 1NC) vs. #9 (9) Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1NC): The Co-main event of the evening should be a ton of fun. I don’t expect this fight to be anything less than a fist flying throwdown as is the norm when the super Samoan Mark Hunt fights. Blaydes will want to prove he belongs in the top of this division and will be coming into this fight with a hunger to prove his worth to the rest of the division. Hunt will be fighting in front of the home faithful and ready to prove his age and his “health concerns” are nothing to be considered. Now we know Hunt’s chin is nearly unbreakable and I have a strongly feeling in this one we will see that ol’ reliable chin stands again. I have Mark Hunt winning this one via 2nd round KO with one of his famed walk-off KO’s.
#1 (1) Yoel Romero (12-2) vs. #3 (2) Luke Rockhold (16-3): The main event of the evening is a battle for the interim middleweight title fight. Yoel as we all know is a powerful wrestler who can throw anyone else in the division around and turn the lights off in anyone’s head. Yoel has this ability that nobody else has to be standing there looking flat and lethargic to out of nowhere land fast powerful hands and put his opponent to sleep with a flurry of clean accurate shots. Luke on the other hand is phenomenal on the mat and has never let a win of his in the UFC go to decision. He can submit anyone using his jiu-jitsu skills and wrestling background which is some of the best ground skills we can see in the middleweight division. Rockhold has a strong kickboxing game when he is fighting on his feet and has the ability to knockout anyone with his sneaky power and great footwork. I am torn on this fight because I think both of these guys are destined for the belt but they have to collide due to the injury to Whittaker. I think Romero gets a clean shot on Rockhold’s chin in the 2nd round and ends the fight via KO finally winning his elusive UFC gold.
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