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.