After an action packed UFC 242 that saw undefeated Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defend his title, the UFC is back in Vancouver, Canada with another fun card. Headlined by two of the most exciting fighters in the UFC, fan favorite Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje looked to put on a show. If there’s anything to say about this fight, is that it’s going to be action packed and the judges can go home early because they won’t be needed for this fight.
UFC Fight Night 158 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje – This fight is going to be amazing. I can’t remember the last time either of these fighters have been in a boring fight. Cerrone is the the type of dude to meet you in the middle and get into an ole fashion brawl. He also can pick you apart with his jab and powerful leg kicks. Gaethje on the other hand is the type of dude to throw caution to the wind and march forward no matter what’s being thrown at him. He likes to say he’s calculated, which his leg kicks and combinations are. However, his pressure and wild strikes at times are risky.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Gaethje. While Cerrone looks like a brand new version of himself, he has always struggled with pressure fighters. His last fight against Tony Ferguson reassured that. If a guy can walk through the fire, get in Cerrone’s face and backpedal him, then Cerrone can’t get off his striking attacks. Gaethje is all about pressure and aggression. Eventually his volume striking and pace is going to break Cerrone, and finish him in the third round via TKO.
205 lbs.: Nikita Krylov vs. Glover Teixeira – This is a big fight for Krylov to catapult himself into the upper echelon of the division. However, Teixeira despite 39 years old is still a player in the division. I feel the UFC is starting to use him in a gatekeeper role, but no one is getting through. Teixeira is as well rounded as they come, and can finish you from anywhere. Unfortunately for Krylov, I don’t see a scenario where he can stop Teixeira from taking him down and controlling him. I foresee a rather easy route of victory for the veteran Teixeira, ultimately winning his third straight fight via submission.
265 lbs.: Todd Duffee vs. Jeff Hughes – It’s been over four years since Todd Duffee last fought and I’m kind of excited about his return. He’s one of the killed or be killed fighters that takes all the risks to put out his opponent quick. Given Hughes durability and solid cardio, this return might go sour after round one. However, I’m siding on Duffee’s wildness and power to find the sweet spot and put away Hughes via first round knockout.
170 lbs.: Michel Pereira vs. Tristan Connelly – While I’m happy Pereira is still on the card after finding him a short notice opponent, I’m upset he missed weight. Nevertheless, Pereira should put on a show and end this fight relatively quick via knockout.
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Uriah Hall – Part of me wants Hall to win this fight and realize his true potential, but this is me every Hall fight. ACJ is going to use his superior grappling to neutralize Hall on the feet. I don’t expect too much resistance by Hall grappling-wise. When matted, ASJ will lock up a submission victory.
205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Jim Crute – While Crute is on a roll and presumably the favorite, I believe Cirkunov is going to bounce back in front of his home crowd. On the heels of his wrestling and top control, I foresee an early submission victory for the Canadian.
UFC Fight Night 158 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Augusto Sakai vs. Marcin Tybura – This is a tough fight to call. Sakai has been on a roll and he most recently defeated Andre Arlovski. He’s shown great takedown defense, a volume striking game which is rare in the Heavyweight division, durability and pretty darn good cardio for a Heavyweight. As for Tybura, while he’s lost three of his last four fights, it’s been against top five Heavyweights in Derrick Lewis and Fabricio Werdum. Tybura has pretty good kickboxing, but he often leans on his wrestling. Given Sakai’s takedown defense, it could be tough sledding to find the takedown. However, I’m confident that Tybura will slow down the pressure of Sakai with leg kicks and land a few takedown’s that will edge some rounds. So with that, I have Tybura winning via decision.
135 lbs.: Miles Johns vs. Cole Smith – Coin flip goes to Johns via decision.
135 lbs.: Hunter Azure vs. Brad Katona – From the grapevines, I hear Azure has some wrestling abilities. Given Katona has porous takedown defense, I see a clear route to a decision victory for Azure.
145 lbs.: Jordan Griffin vs. Chas Skelly – While I believe Skelly will win this fight, I do caution that I’m less than 51% sure. I mean, at one point Skelly had won six of seven fights with all but one of the wins coming via finish. He’s got excellent grappling and a knack for finding a fight ending submission. The problem is his serviceable striking, shaky chin and cardio issues. Often Skelly works overly hard on bringing his opponent down and by the later rounds, he’s tired and susceptible to getting beat. However, I believe he will gain top control at some point and put away Griffin via submission.
135 lbs.: Ryan MacDonald vs. Louis Smolka – If Smolka can’t win this, I can very well see him dropping back down to Flyweight or even getting cut. In my eyes, this is do-or-die for the Last Samurai. Luckily, this is a winnable fight. Smolka’s grappling should reign supreme, as I envision an eventual submission victory.
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Kyle Prepolec – I guess on the strength of surviving three rounds against grappling wizard Davi Ramos, I have Austin Hubbard winning via decision.