The UFC is back in action for the third consecutive week, as we have a jam packed card. Headlining the event is a pair of Middleweight contenders in Jacare and Jack Hermansson. Jacare has won four of last six fights, with the most recent fight resulting in a knockout victory over Chris Weidman. Jacare has been promised a title shot with a victory over Hermansson. As for the Joker, he’s won three consecutive fights and five of his last six. All five victories have been via finish. The most recent victory came in a mere 49 seconds, as Hermansson submitted BJJ black belt David Branch. Could the Joker submit a Gator in Florida no less? We’ll see…
UFC on ESPN+ 8 Main Card:
185 lbs.: Ronaldo Souza vs. Jack Hermansson – I’ve loved the rise of Hermansson. He’s a really solid edition to a fun Middleweight division. However, a foe like Jacare, whom has been promised a title shot with a victory here seems too soon. Even at 39 years of age, Jacare is still a threat. He’s won four of his last six fights, all via finish. The only two defeats came to reigning Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya and recent Interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum, whom he lost via split decision too.
Jacare has only been finished once since 2009, and despite being dropped in several contest, his chin is still wavering favorable. Throw in the fact that Jacare just went toe to toe with Chris Weidman, knockout him out and I just don’t see where Hermansson has the advantage. Jacare is an all around talent and a ridiculous BJJ practitioner. Given Hermansson has some sneaky submissions, but that’s useless on Jacare. The best chance is to catch him on the feet, but I just don’t see it. So with that, I have Jacare winning via TKO.
265 lbs.: Greg Hardy vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov – Not sure why this is the co-main event, but it looks like they found an opponent for Hardy to knockout relatively easily. So with that, I have Hardy winning via knockout
170 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. Mike Perry – While Oliveira is the better all around fighter, he’s still so dam wild. I would say the same about Perry, but he’s shown a more technical approach with a side of wrestling. I highly doubt we see the side of wrestling from Perry though, as it got him caught in a submission in his last fight to Donald Cerrone. Imagine Perry thinking he survive on the mat with Oliveira? Anyways, I feel like both will strike early, and at first it will be tepid. Then it’s going to turn into a brawl in which Perry thrives in. I’m calling upset, Perry via knockout.
205 lbs.: Ion Cutelaba vs. Glover Teixeira – This is going to be a back and forth battle. Cutelaba is a force and has the making of a really exciting striker in the Light Heavyweight division. Teixeira is a great boxer, just old and slow now. The once iron chin is gone too. However, the wrestling and BJJ of Teixeira is still a major factor and the sole reason I see him edging this out via decision.
135 lbs.: John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen – I think this is simple too soon for a talented Bantamweight in Sandhagen. He’s going to stature Lineker and have the reach advantage, but the power and pressure Lineker brings puts foes down. Add another one to Hands of Stones collection. Lineker via knockout.
155 lbs.: Thomas Gifford vs. Roosevelt Roberts – Gifford is coming in on short notice as a sacrificial lamb to the rise of Roberts. So with that, Roberts via submission.
UFC on ESPN+ 8 Preliminary Card:
170 lbs.: Takashi Sato vs. Ben Saunders – Someone’s getting knocked out. My guess, is Ben Saunders. Killa B is 1-4 in his last five fights and has been knocked in three of those defeats. I really hope he pulls this off, but safe bet is Sato via knockout.
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Augusto Sakai – Tough fight to call. Sakai could knock Arlovski out, but then again the 28-fight UFC veteran hasn’t been knocked out in his last six fights. An improved defense, more technical striking and heavier approach on wrestling has truly changed the game of the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. While he’s become a little more boring, in the end I think longevity-wise and for this matchup, Arlovski is in the right and wins this via decision.
115 lbs.: Carla Esparza vs. Virna Jandiroba – This is probably going to be a competitive fight. Jandiroba comes into her UFC debut with a perfect 14-0 record. She has submitted ten foes, six of them by rear-naked choke. However, even in Invicta FC, Jandiroba has never fought someone with the wrestling chops like that of Esparza. Jandiroba could in turn sweep Esparza with her BJJ chops, but Esparza is too strong of a wrestler and experienced to get swept or caught. So with that, I have Esparza via decision.
155 lbs.: Gilbert Burns vs. Mike Davis – I feel like Burns is becoming an afterthought in a stacked Lightweight division. Burns has world class jui-jitsu and is developing a really formidable striking game. Two of his last three wins have come via knockout. After disposing of this short notice foe Davis, Burns should be in line for a bigger fight. So with that, I have Burns winning via submission.
155 lbs.: Jason Gonzalez vs. Jim Miller – Gonzalez is massive for the weight class and could really develop into something. Problem is, he hasn’t fought in over a year and is up against a grizzly veteran in Miller. Knowing Miller is a shell of himself, I should really pick against him. However, Miller is as tough as they come and can grind you down with each. Add in the fact that I haven’t been impressed with Gonzalez thus far in his UFC tenure and I think Miller can really win this. I think a combination of striking and takedowns get this done for the vet. Miller via decision.
115 lbs.: Jodie Esquibel vs. Angela Hill – Esquibel is a little tank whom’s natural weight class seems to be Atomweight. Being at Strawweight hasn’t done her any favors. As for a Prediction, I have Hill via decision. The height and reach advantage should aide Hill in outpointing Esquibel via decision.
170 lbs.: Dhiego Lima vs. Court McGee – Lima may have surprised when he knocked Chad Laprise out. I’ll admit, I was. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s 2-5 inside the octagon. Against a grinding veteran like McGee, I expect takedowns and top control to reign supreme against Lima en route to a decision victory.