The UFC is back in action, with a stacked card featuring the most anticipated Featherweight fight of the year. Featherweight kingpin Max Holloway looks to defend his Championship for the second time, while extending his winning streak to a ridiculous thirteen. Challenger Brian Ortega looks to remain undefeated and realize the dream of becoming a UFC Champion. If anything is certain, this fight as all the ingredients of becoming five round back-and-forth instant classic. Due to youth and talent, I am certain this is the best fight on paper in the Featherweight division. Expect to be blown away!
Anyways, to the Predictions!
UFC 231 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega – What an excellent fight we have scheduled. The absolute two best of the division going toe to toe, in what I’m foreseeing to be the best fight in Featherweight history. As for the prediction, I’ve got Ortega. And that’s tough for me to say given I’m a massive fan of Holloway dating back to before his UFC debut. It’s the first fighter I saw potential in, but Championship material and thirteen victories in a row is another story.
Anyways, my reasoning of picking Ortega stems from him having more routes to victory, especially with his ridiculous submission game. While I expect Holloway to get the better of Ortega on the feet, I feel Ortega has shown the power to stun foes and even knock them out. Given Holloway’s recent issues with “concussion-like” symptoms and the tough weight cut, his chin could be compromised. Nevertheless, if at any time Holloway is in danger, once Ortega locks in a submission, it’s a wrap. Given that alone, I have to side with Ortega. So with that, I have Ortega winning via submission in the fourth round.
125 lbs.: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk for vacant flyweight title – I’m so happy Jedrzejczyk went up in weight, she looks physical and mentally in a better place. That weight cut drained her severely and I believe it really hampered her abilities, especially the first fight against Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas. As for Shevchenko, she too is fighting at her real weight class. And it’s borderline scary, given the fact she dominated in the Bantamweight division and obviously the absolute beat down she displayed on Priscila Cachoeira in her return to Flyweight debut.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Shevchenko. She beat Jedrzejczyk three times in Muay Thai and I expect her yet again to get the better of the former Strawweight queen on the feet. Add in the fact that Shevchenko has some pop and really sneaky good grappling abilities, and I can’t envision her leaving Toronto without the belt. So with that, I have Shevchenko winning via late submission.
170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira – I’m happy to see Nelson is back, but could of chosen a warmup return fight instead? In my opinion, Nelson can outgrapple Oliveira, but he often elects to strike with opponents. And on the feet, I foresee Oliveira blitzing Nelson in a brawl and knocking him out.
145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Hakeem Dawodu – This is a coin flip. Dawodu is the better talent, but his UFC debut showed his aggression can be his downfall. On the other hand, Bochniak doesn’t have the power to knock you out, but his fight IQ is top notch. He’s shown the ability to adjust to whatever style his opponent comes at him with, which is impressive. In what should be a close fight, I got Bochniak via decision.
205 lbs.: Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos – Manuwa’s chin is way too suspect to trust in what should be a fire fight. So with that, I’ve got the Brazilian slugger Santos via knockout.
UFC 231 ‘Prelims’ On FOX Sports 1 (Start Time 8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Claudia Gadelha – Ansaroff has been on a nice streak of late, but now she runs into an elite fighter in the division. In my opinion, I don’t think Gadelha has fought to her abilities of late, but not at full strength, I still think she edges out Ansaroff. So with that, I have Gadelha on the helms of her grappling winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns – I really like OAM’s gimmick as the Canadian Gangster, as well as his skill set. However, this is a tough fight for him. On the feet, Burns is the better striker and has legit power. Grappling, which is OAM’s strength is overridden by Burn’s superior grappling. I think chin, toughness and wrestling is where I edge OAM, but that’s not enough for me to pick him. So with that, I have Burns winning via decision.
115 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye – This fight comes down to what the judges favor more. Will it be Chookagian’s volume striking or will it be Eye’s higher quality of strikes landed? I’ll go with the latter and say Eye lands the more ‘wow’ strikes, edging out Chookagian via decision.
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou – I’ve got Anders in this fight. I think he proved in his last fight against Thiago Santos, he can take punishment and still keep coming forward. Anders wrestling looked really good too, an aspect of his game he looks like he will implement more in fights. Now Theodorou is well rounded, but he lacks the power necessary to climb the ranks. He’s as tough as nails and can too take punishment, but again nothing in his skill set jumps out as something to watch out for. So with that, I have Anders winning via decision.
UFC 231 ‘Prelims’ On Fight Pass (Start Time 6 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez – Katona is well rounded, but not particularly strong in any aspect yet. Lopez is a really solid wrestler, who has a questionable chin and suspect cardio. In this particular fight, I envision Lopez starting out strong for two rounds and fading in the third. Considering Katona doesn’t have power, I don’t see him finishing Lopez in that third round. So with that, I have Lopez winning the decision on the strength of his wrestling early in the fight.
170 lbs.: Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima – I’m sorry, but the Lima brothers are on extremely opposite ends. Douglas Lima is championship material, Dhiego is borderline UFC talent. I expect Laprise to have his way with Lima and ultimately finish him via TKO.
155 lbs.: Diego Ferreira vs. Kyle Nelson – Two days notice against a well rounded and underrated Lightweight in Ferreira…ouch. I expect Ferreira to make light work of Nelson and finish the fight via submission.
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic – Clark is a very solid wrestler, which is his base and much of what relies on in fights. Given he’s a smaller Light Heavyweight, against bigger guys such as Rakic, he’s going to have a tough ting the takedown. On the feet, there is no question Rakic is way better. I expect Rakic to fend off Clark’s wrestling and outpoint him the feet, in the end earning the decision victory.