The UFC has delivered three fight cards in a one week span, with this one rounding out the eventful week. I must say, as a huge fan of mixed martial arts and the world pandemic shutting down the world, this has been refreshing to say the least. All the fights have been fun and I have no doubt this card will be any different. The headliner features Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris. Two strikers with one intention in mind, to knockout their opponent. With big power showcased by both men, my suggestion is to not blink!
UFC Fight Night Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (9 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Alistair Overeem vs. Walt Harris – Heavyweight fights are usually a gamble to pick. These men have so much power, that all it truly takes, is one strike to end anyone’s night. Overeem is coming off a defeat, in which he was up on the scorecards after four rounds and just before the fifth round was about to end, his foe Jairzinho Rozenstruik landed a haymaker that halted the fight. While Overeem was rocked, he did pop up quickly and perhaps the stoppage was too soon albeit the visually disturbing lip hanging off Overeem’s face. With that said, Overeem was on a two fight win streak prior to the loss and was climbing his way back into contendership.
As for Harris, it’s been a tough road back to octagon. After riding high, unbeaten in his last four fights, Harris’s world came crashing down as his stepdaughter was sadly kidnapped and murdered. The hurt in his heart and the fact that he’s back fighting is truly inspirational. I can’t imagine how hard it’s going to be to step into that octagon and carry that type of sadness.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Overeem. While he’s susceptible to being put away, he’s done a much better job of fighting smart for the most part. Had he avoided that big bomb as time nearly expired by Rozenstruik, he’d be on a three fight win streak and right back into the title picture. The Demolition man has the perhaps the best striking and most dangerous knees in the Heavyweight division. His wrestling is hidden gem as well. Due to fighting so long, durability is his only real weakness. The reason I have him winning is while Harris is explosive and features legit power, he’s yet to fight anyone remotely close to Overeem. That’s not to say he can’t win, cause that athleticism is definitely an issue for Overeem to deal with. However, I’m not sure he’s ready for the caliber striking Overeem offers. With that said, Overeem wins the fight via knockout.
115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha vs. Angela Hill – This fight comes down to two scenarios. Either Hill, keeps this fight upright and outpoints Gadelha, especially in the the later rounds. OR… Gadelha uses her strength and wrestling advantages to get this fight to the mat, and suffocates Hill with top control. I’ll say the latter, which is tougher for me to say than usual. I mean, Hill has looked so good during this three fight win streak. She’s got excellent striking and it’s showed of late with two of those wins during the win streak coming via KO/TKO. However, she’s had issues with grapplers in the past and Gadelha is one of the best the division offers in that regard. I’m a little wary of Gadelha of late, but Mark Henry I believe will honey her skill set for the better. So with that, I have Gadelha winning via decision.
145 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Dan Ige – Man this is a fun fight and an interesting one at that. Barboza was a stable in the Lightweight division, so its intriguing to see how he fares at Featherweight. Those extra ten pounds are no joke to cut, and this late into you’re career could be trouble. However, he didn’t look terrible at weigh ins. As for Ige, while he didn’t get the Korean Zombie, he got a former Lightweight contender in Barboza. Ige is riding a five fight win streak and is truly coming into his own. A grappler by trade, Ige has showed vast improvements in his striking. I must say, if he can beat Barboza, the sky’s the limit for this kid.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Barboza. He’s fought The Who’s who at Lightweight and was constant in the rankings. Barboza is durable, has perhaps the best leg kicks in the UFC and overall is a dynamic striker. While Ige is on the rise, I feel like this is too soon and a big jump up in competition. So with that, I have Barboza winning via decision.
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Krzysztof Jotko – While Jotko is well rounded and has bounced back from his losing streak with two consecutive wins, I feel like this is a tough fight. Anders is athletic, he’s got legit power and has good takedown defense. While Jotko could stay on the outside and pick apart Anders, I feel like the power of the former Alabama Crimson Tide is going to play a big role here. So with that, I have Anders winning via knockout.
145 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Song Yadong – This is a tough fight to call. Vera is on fire right now, winning five straight fights via finish. Vera is armed with slick grappling and pressure striking. Wherever the fight goes, Vera shows comfortability. At 27 years of age, Vera already has already accumulated 9 UFC victories. As for Yadong, the Chinese born fighter has been fighting since he was sixteen years old. While his early career featured highs and lows, an over three year unbeaten streak that includes 7 victories has him on the rise. Armed with solid takedown defense, strength and power, Yadong has the makings of a Featherweight contender within the next year.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Yadong. If he can avoid the grappling of Vera, I feel as if his power and precision can be the difference. Since Vera has incredible durability, I don’t see a knockout, but a Yadong via decision
UFC Fight Night Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Matt Brown vs. Miguel Baeza – This fight has all the making of a young lion upstaging an older lion. However, the older lion, Brown has fought the cream of the crop. Albeit being 39 years old, Brown is a tough out for anyone. He’s the definition of grit and toughness. And I feel that when he fought Donald Cerrone, he looked better than ever despite losing. The knockout victories over Diego Sanchez and Ben Saunders that followed were vicious. Add one more for the veteran, as I got Brown winning via TKO.
185 lbs.: Anthony Hernandez vs. Kevin Holland – This is a tough fight to call, just because of the inconsistencies of Holland. He’s a hell of a fighter and well rounded, but his inability to avoid disadvantageous positions is a problem. That hole in his game won’t fly in the top fifteen. With that being said, I’m hoping Hollan shores that up in this fight and I’m siding with him via decision.
145 lbs.: Giga Chikadze vs. Irwin Rivera – Kudos to Rivera for stepping up, but this is too much too soon. Given he wasn’t training for a fight and is moving up a weight class to fight a world class kickboxer in Chikadze, and I smell a knockout. So with that, I have Chikadze winning via knockout.
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Nate Landwehr – This is an intriguing fight. Landwehr is a fun striker and a former M-1 Champion. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to showcase much as Herbert Burns landed a sick flying knee knockout on him. As for Elkins, the once near title contender is trying to end a three fight skid. At one point, Elkins had rattled off six consecutive victories, but a defeat to current Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski halted the streak and began this losing streak.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Elkins. His nickname “Damage” couldn’t be more appropriate, as he wears it every fight. He also weathers all that damage in fights and is the comeback king. Elkins isn’t the best striker, but its serviceable. It’s his wrestling and grappling that aide him to victory. Well, his durability and cardio too. So with that, I see Elkins landing some timely takedowns to edge out a decision victory.
125 lbs.: Mara Romero Borella vs. Cortney Casey – Despite going up a weight class, losing three out of her last four fights and fighting a grappler here, I got Casey winning this fight. She’s fought world class talent at Strawweight and is a couple of split decision victories away from being on a title shot path. That being said, Casey might get taken down. However, between her output on the ground and submissions, I can’t see Borella winning anything but time on top. So with that, I have Casey winning via decision.
265 lbs.: Don’Tale Mayes vs. Rodrigo Nascimento – This fight ain’t going the distance. Seeing that Mayes takedown defense is somewhat suspect, I see the grappler Nascimento getting this fight to the mat and at some point winning via submission.