The UFC is back in action with yet another fun card with tons of gems on it. The Featherweight clash of Shane Burgos and Josh Emmett is an absolute banger and a Welterweight contest between Belal Muhammad and Lyman Good should be fun. However, the headliners are Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov. Two Heavyweights, with a combined 13-3 UFC record. Both are contenders, having won over some of the best the division has to offer. While Blaydes has a clear route to victory, it is the Heavyweight division. Anything can happen…
UFC on ESPN 11 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Curtis Blaydes vs. Alexander Volkov – As good as Volkov is, and he really is a legit Heavyweight contender, he’s got a glaring weakness. His inability to consistently stuff a takedown has cost him nearly every fight he’s lost in his career. Now, he’s tasked to fight the best wrestler in the Heavyweight division in Curtis Blaydes. Oh, and in a smaller cage. Given he likes to use his height and reach to keep distance and throw strikes, the smaller cage doesn’t really aide that either. With everything against him, I have no doubt that Blaydes gets it done via TKO.
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Josh Emmett – This is a really fun fight and it has all the feelings of a Fight of the Night. Burgos, enters this fight on a a three-fight win streak and having won six of his seven UFC bouts. He’s a striker, a volume one at that. In fact, he’s lands the most strikes per minute in the Featherweight division and is top five in the UFC. Burgos has great movement, a solid chin, excellent cardio and almost an impenetrable takedown defense.
On the other end, Emmett is a buzzsaw on the feet. While he doesn’t throw enough strikes to keep up with Burgos, he makes it up with his power. If you look at his last three victories, you’ll notice that power has ended all of them. No matter how this fight goes, that one hitter quitter is going to be a factor here.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Burgos. I firmly believe that he has all the making to be a world champion. Hell, I’ll say he will be a champion at some point. In this fight, I believe the ability to throw constant volume and put on a hard pace, will zap Emmett and slow down his strikes. In the end, Burgos will break and finish Emmett via TKO.
135 lbs.: Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau – This fight could be a toss up, but I’m going with Pennington. She’s 12 years younger than Reneau and while she doesn’t excel in any one area, she also doesn’t have many weaknesses. Pennington is the better striker here, with some pop to boot. Her wrestling is better. Her durability is ungodly. The only problem really is throwing volume, which Reneau could possible edge her out with. I however, don’t see that. I think Pennington controls wherever this fight goes and wins a convincing decision.
170 lbs.: Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad – This is a hell of a fight and in my opinion, I see both men having clear routes to victory. If Muhammad can take down Good, then he should cruise to a victory. Good has the striking advantage, and his power alone could end the fight. However, Muhammad has good striking and offers grit and chin too. In other words, I’m not saying Muhammad only wins this fight if he takes it to the ground, but he’ll have an easier time doing such. Both men have good cardio, so I don’t expect anyone to fade. But, I must pick a winner and I’m siding with the gritty wrestler Muhammad to sneak out a split decision victory.
155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Roosevelt Roberts – This is a tricky fight. In my opinion, Roberts should in essence win. However, I have some questions. One, is he ready for a veteran like Miller? In Roberts last fight against Brok Weaver, he was pushed against the cage and held there often. Can he get off the cage if Miller puts him there? Also, if this fight hits the mat and he’s on his back, can he withstand Miller’s grappling and submission attempts? The answers to these questions shall be answered, but I’ll say Roberts passes here. I feel this will be closer than people think, but Roberts gets it done via decision.
UFC on ESPN 11 Prelims Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Clay Guida – As bad as Green has been of late, most of his fights were close and to be fair, he should of gotten the nod in some of decision losses. Regardless, he steamrolls Guida here. The aging veteran hasn’t beaten anyone other B.J. Penn since 2017. He’s purely a wrestler at this point, as his striking isn’t what it used to be. Given Green is a wrestler himself, I fully expect him to stay upright and pick part Guida. Eventually, he finds Guida’s suspect chin and wins this fight via knockout.
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Brianna Van Buren – While a four fight skid might appear like a fighter is done, it’s important to see whom they lost too. For Torres, she’s literally lost to the best of the division, including the Champion Weili Zhang. Now, she may not be a title challenger, but she’s still a game opponent for anymore. As for Van Buren, her debut was excellent. She defeated a former Invicta Champion in Livinha Souza rather easily. Van Buren showed good kickboxing, excellent wrestling and top pressure. Given Torres problems with wrestlers, and even though this is a step up for Van Buren – I’m going with the wrestler Van Buren via decision.
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Oskar Piechota – Both men are on three fight skids, which potentially means that their jobs on on the line. Barriault has fought some tough customers out of the gate, although I feel like he dropped the ball against his last opponent. As for Piechota, with the exception of his last fight, high level grapplers were giving him fits. Last fight though, he was finished quickly by a newcomer. I don’t think it’s a chin issue, but with both needing a win, I trust Barriault’s chin in what I expect to be a firefight. So with that, I have Barriault winning via TKO.
125 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Gillian Robertson – This is a quick turnaround for Casey and it’s a risky one for her. Casey notoriously has had problems with grapplers, showing virtually no takedown defense. Robertson thrives off taking foes down, controlling them and submitting them. Throw in the fact that Casey is fighting up a weight class and had what appeared to be a bad weight cut? And I’m off board on her for this fight. So with that, I have Robertson winning via submission.
158 lbs.: Frank Camacho vs. Justin Jaynes – I’m unfamiliar with Jaynes, but this is a tough debut. Camacho is a tank. The man is a BJJ black belt whom disregards even bringing the fight to mat. His striking is aided by his power and cardio. If you haven’t seen his fights against Damien Brown, Drew Dober and Nick Hein, do yourself a favor and watch them. The man threw landed 100 or more significant strikes in all of those fights. While this fight most likely is short, it’s Camacho whom I trust to get the job done. So with that, I have Camacho winning via TKO.
125 lbs.: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy – Interesting fight, but I have Murphy. I believe her strength advantage should aide her in keeping this fight upright, perhaps even helping her take down Modafferi. On the feet, while Modafferi has improved, Murphy is the better striker and throws way more volume. Honestly, I feel as if Murphy should be the favorite here. So with that, I have Murphy winning via decision.
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Max Rohskopf – Hubbard has fought some tough dudes out of the gate, and again is tasked with yet the same. Rohskopf is a collegiate wrestler, with solid grappling and submissions. However, he tweeted not too long ago that he was injured, but wanted a chance to show his skills in the UFC. His wish comes true, but I feel like this “injury” and short notice fight against a cardio machine like Hubbard is a mistake. If Davi Ramos couldn’t submit the kid over three rounds, I’m not banking on Rohskopf too. I expect Rohskopf to come out strong, but fade after one round. So with that, I have Hubbard winning via decision.