This fight card has gone through several changes, including the original main event of Alexander Volkov and Junior Dos Santos being changed due to Dos Santos pulling out because of an injury. Instead the UFC pulled Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar off the Boston card to serve as the headliner and Greg Hardy stepped in for Junior Dos Santos to face Alexander Volkov. If you ask me, minus Dos Santos, this card improved. Magomedsharipov and Kattar is a fun main event and the unknown of Hardy makes the co-main event compelling.
UFC Fight Night 163 Main Card on ESPN+ (2 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Calvin Kattar – This is an excellent main event, with two rising stars. Magomedsharipov is the complete package, and stylistically a nightmare matchup for anyone. Meanwhile, Kattar is an excellent striker, whom thus far as shown power in his hands and solid takedown defense.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Magomedsharipov. Given this is a three round fight, I believe Magomedsharipov is just too good to defeat in only that allotted time. Kattar has found real success in fighting boxers, but Magomedsharipov will throw in leg kicks to cut down the movement of Kattar. Throw in the fact that Magomedsharipov has 26 takedowns in five fights, I find it tough to believe he won’t at least land a few against Kattar. Magomedsharipov is just too unpredictable on the feet, which opens it up for him to time takedowns. Lastly, Magomedsharipov will need to avoid brawls, as Kattar thrives in them and has power to really change the complection on the fight. Regardless, Magomedsharipov has an iron chin and this is going to be a great decision victory in his backyard of Russia.
265 lbs.: Greg Hardy vs. Alexander Volkov – Volkov should hands down win this fight, as he’s an all around fighter, whom has fought thirty seven professional fights and against exceptional talent. However, I’m having this weird feeling that Hardy took this fight to absolutely blitzkrieg Volkov early. Given its Heavyweight, it only takes one shot and I’m going against what should be a seemingly easy prediction. So with that, I have Hardy winning via knockout.
170 lbs.: Zelim Imadaev vs. Danny Roberts – I’m just not sure about this fight. Roberts shaky chin is what gives me cause for concern. However, Roberts is an all around talent and if he find a way to be more defensive, he’d be more successful. Imadaev has some pop, but he’s too green for me to side with him. So with that, I have Roberts winning via submission.
205 lbs.: Khadis Ibragimov vs. Ed Herman – As tough as Herman is, I just can’t see him withstanding the insane early onslaught that Ibragimov is going to bring. So with that, I have Ibragimov winning via knockout.
170 lbs.: Ramazan Emeev vs. Anthony Rocco Martin – Ive been high on Emeev for quite some time and while he hasn’t exactly lit up the UFC yet, he’s still 3-0 in the UFC. Martin is solid, but he’s going to run into trouble here. Martin can strike, but he thrives on taking his opponents down, controlling them and looking for submissions. Emeev is an excellent grappler and has solid takedown defense. On the feet, Emeev is tough to hit and despite not showing it yet, he’s got some pop. In a grinding fight, it’s Emeev who pushes his UFC record to 4-0 via decision.
205 lbs.: Shamil Gamzatov vs. Klidson Abreu – All I know is that Gamzatov is an undefeated former PFL fighter with ridiculous hands. However, he’s got no grappling which is problematic in general, but also because Abreu feasts on that weakness. Given Abreu has already eaten shots for three rounds against both Magomed Ankalaev and Sam Alvey, I think he should be able to hang with Gamzatov. Eventually, Abreu takes this to the ground and locks in a submission victory.
UFC Fight Night 163 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (11 a.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Dalcha Lungiambula – I believe that Lungiambula is going to find out the hard way that Ankalaev is tough to hit and even tougher to takedown. The fact that Ankalaev stands 7 inches taller just adds to that notion. So with that, I have Ankalaev delivering a highlight reel knockout victory.
155 lbs.: Rustam Khabilov vs. Sergey Khandozhko – I don’t know enough about Khandozhko to make an educated prediction, however Khabilov is predictable in his usually successful gameplan. Using his wrestling and grappling, Khabilov takes foes down at will and controls them. I’ll just go with that notion, and say Khabilov takes this fight via decision.
185 lbs.: Roman Kopylov vs. Karl Roberson – I cant say I’m positive in this prediction given how damn good Kopylov has looked on the regional science, but I have Roberson. While Kopylov looks to be a force on the feet, Roberson is too when he’s not fighting a wrestler. Given the circumstances here, I’d say Roberson’s kickboxing and Kopylov’s unknown cardio leans me to siding with Roberson winning via decision.
170 lbs.: Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. David Zawada – Cousin of Khabib Nurmagomedov? Nice, but Zawada despite his UFC record is going to be a handful. Nurmagomedov has success early, but Zawada’s active guard and cardio is going to get him a late rally TKO stoppage victory.
155 lbs.: Roosevelt Roberts vs. Alexander Yakovlev – Despite Roberts suffering his first defeat, the potential is still there. To be fair too, Vinc Pichel is so underrated that a fight against him so early in Roberts career was a bit too soon. Anyways, as for this fight, I have Roberts. Yakovlev too is underrated, as he’s fought the likes of Demian Maia and current UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. He’s well rounded, but lacks a consistent wrestling game and volume striking. Roberts thrives on those two weaknesses and I see him taking this fight with a mix of both via decision.
135 lbs.: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Pannie Kianzad – This is a tough fight to call and will be a rematch from when both rising stars clashed in their Invicta FC debuts in July of 2015. As it stands right now, Clark has enjoyed more recent success. However, Clark hasn’t fought in over a year due to an injury, meanwhile Kianzad has fought three times in a span of a year. Clark is moving up to Bantamweight, while Kianzad has fought at as heavy as 145 lbs. Kianzad will undoubtedly use her strength advantage to aide her in taking Clark down. I see her being very successful early, but I believe Clark’s cardio and volume will present issues for Kianzad the later the fight goes. I could be wrong and Kianzad just dominates Clark, but I’m going with Aussie to win via decision.
135 lbs.: Grigorii Popov vs. Davey Grant – Given Grant has fought four times in seven years and has only one win to account for in that span, added with the fact that he’s fighting on enemy soil against a Russian – Presumes me to side with Popov taking this via decision.