This card has been ravaged by injuries, but thankfully, the main and co-main event are in tact. In the main event, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos looks to climb back up the ranks against fellow contender and young phenom in Curtis Blaydes. It’s a classic striker vs. wrestler matchup, and it should be a damn good one.
UFC Fight Night 166 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Junior dos Santos – Some of the hardest fights to predict are Heavyweight fights. One punch is all it takes in any fight, but at Heavyweight that statement comes to fruition more often than not. In this particular fight, you have a stud wrestler with brutal ground-and-pound in Blaydes and one the best boxers and knockout artist to grace the octagon in JDS.
JDS has some of the best takedown defense in the UFC, and it probably would be among the best had he not fought Cain Velasquez. The question is though, can he stay upright against a 265 plus pound wrestler in Blaydes? And if taken down, can he pop back up and avoid being ground and pounded into oblivion? I think not.
While JDS is only 35 years old, he’s fought a lot of fights, endured a lot of damage and quite frankly, I don’t think he’s a shell of himself yet. However, Blaydes is younger and is extremely efficient at taking down guys and finishing them. I think that recipe works again here. So with that, I have Blaydes winning via decision.
170 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Rafael dos Anjos – In my opinion, this fight comes down to if Chiesa can he takedown RDA. If he can, I see a clear path to winning, with a submission definitely in play. However, if RDA can keep this fight upright, he’s the better striker. RDA is also one of the best to mix his strikes, whether it’s punches or kicks to the legs, body and head.
While I liken Chiesa’s size in this fight and I do believe he will takedown RDA, I don’t see him holding down RDA long enough to win more than one round. RDA has excellent cardio, can grapple with best of the them and and offers enough volume to edge out rounds. In a fairly fun fight, I believe RDA edges out Chiesa via decision.
125 lbs.: Jordan Espinosa vs. Alex Perez – I’m taking a gamble here. Espinosa is a stud wrestler and extremely quick on the feet. Perez is well rounded, more experienced and has shown a real knack for finishing foes. While I lean Perez, I’m going with Espinosa. I believe his wrestling should help in both taking Perez down and keeping the fight on the feet, where his speed aids him in avoiding any big shots. I believe this fight could go either way, Perez most likely finishing Espinosa or my prediction in that the Espinosa edges out a narrow decision victory.
115 lbs.: Hannah Cifers vs. Angela Hill – I’m still waiting for Hill to find consistency. She’s a solid striker, but has to find a real balance between striking defense and offense. Going punch for punch isn’t a recipe for winning on the scorecards. However, a fight against a scrappy, volume puncher in Cifers can be the start of a resurgence in shedding the punch for punch style. I’ll wait though after this fight to see if Hill changed her ways, otherwise I’m going with the North Carolina native Cifers via split decision.
205 lbs.: Jamahal Hill vs. Darko Stosic – This is a showcase fight for Hill, but I see it not being as easy as what appears on paper. Stosic can crack and take punishment, which is a key ingredient in playing spoiler. Unfortunately, I don’t see him winning. I believe Hill will be the better man on the feet and outpoint Stosic en route to a decision victory .
UFC Fight Night 166 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Justine Kish vs. Lucie Pudilova – While I favor Kish to win this fight, I’m going with Pudilova. Kish has been out for nearly two years, and I believe this is a tough matchup to come back too. Pudilova is a striker through and through and she will bring forth pressure and volume. Given Kish has been out of action so long, I’m going to slight edge Pudilova getting the nod via decision.
145 lbs.: Arnold Allen vs. Nik Lentz – Allen is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC, and other than his fight against Mads Burnell, there’s a lot to like. He’s very well rounded and more than often, keeps a fight upright – doing most of his damage on the feet. While Lentz is a tough task, he doesn’t offer the striking to waver Allen. I also don’t see Lentz taking down Allen, but I could see Allen taking Lentz down. Then again, Lentz is excellent on the ground and would welcome that. In the end, my prediction is that Allen stays perfect via decision.
185 lbs.: Bevon Lewis vs. Dequan Townsend – This is a do or a die fight for both men, and I’ve got Lewis. I mean, he’s yet to taste a UFC victory, but he’s shown some promise in his losses. He had Urijah Hall beaten for two rounds until a perfectly time punch knocked him out and he ran into the heavy handed underrated Darren Stewart. Also, I’m not sure what to expect for Townshed considering he is dropping 20 pounds to come down to Middleweight. So with that, I’m going with Lewis via decision.
135 lbs.: Montel Jackson vs. Felipe Colares – Jackson is a guy to watch at Bantamweight. He’s strong, has massive hands – which is extremely beneficial in wrist control, grappling, etc… He’s also got good striking chops to boot. I think he dominates three rounds en route to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Lina Lansberg vs. Sara McMann – While I see McMann with the clear wrestling advantage and a rather easy path to victory, her fight IQ has cost her a number of times. Lansberg is extremely dangerous given an advantageous position, which is why I see her submitting McMann at some point.
135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Brett Johns – I’m kind of surprised this fight is a near pick em’. Johns is one of the more underrated Bantamweights in the UFC. I mean, his only two career losses came to two top six ranked Bantamweights in
155 lbs.: Herbert Burns vs. Nate Landwehr – No clue about either man, but I’m impressed with what I see on the resume of Landwehr. He’s fought and beaten some tough foes in M-1. I think he takes this fight via decision.