The UFC is back in action, with a very intriguing main event. The former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar drops down to Bantamweight and is immediately welcomed by contender Pedro Munhoz. The odds favor Munhoz, but as we all know, never count out Edgar. Regardless, this should be a good one.
UFC on ESPN 15 Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8:30 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar – Finally Edgar makes his Bantamweight debut. After being the smaller fighter at Lightweight and Featherweight, Edgar will match up more evenly with his counterparts at 135 lbs. And while everyone is counting him out of this fight, I’m not. Munhoz is an excellent fighter, who is durable and very well rounded. The problem lies in Edgar’s chin, which has been a recent issue. There is no doubt, the wars that Edgar has had, may have finally put a crack in the granite chin.
However, Munhoz isn’t a knockout artist. Yes, he knocked out Cody Garbrandt. That was a wild fight, which saw a man coming off losing two fights via knockout swing recklessly for the fences. Munhoz happened to land clean shots on a fighter putting up no defense whatsoever. Munhoz does though have power, there is no doubt. He can drop fighters, but not put them out cold.
I can see Munhoz having early success, even staggering Edgar. I just don’t see him knocking out or submitting Edgar though. I have a feeling Edgar is going use his speed, quick combinations and potentially wrestling to neutralize Munhoz. It’s a five round fight too, so the deeper this goes, the better it is for Edgar. The man is a cardio machine and Munhoz seems to have good cardio, but does he have an extra 10 minutes of cardio? We’ll see. So with that, give me Edgar via decision.
205 lbs.: Marcin Prachnio vs. Mike Rodriguez – Someone is getting finished in this fight and I’m not sure exactly who. Prachnio has shown nothing thus far in the UFC and is on the cusp of being sent back to the regional scene. Rodriguez is a mixed bag and it’s hard to fathom a guy with a 80.5 reach offer minimal output on the feet. I mean, pump the jab non stop. I really want to pick Prachnio, but give me Rodriguez via TKO.
125 lbs.: Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson – This is a head scratching fight. Dobson has a 3-4 record and is 0-3 in the UFC. How she’s still in the UFC is odd to me, especially after being knocked out in her last fight. Agapova has the looks to be a contender and this fight is going to make her shine even brighter. I’m foreseeing a beat down, that is highlighted by a vicious knockout.
170 lbs.: Daniel Rodriguez vs. Dwight Grant – This is such an interesting fight, as Grant has legit one shot power. He however, doesn’t throw much output. Enter Rodriguez, who is a volume striker that appears to have good power himself. If Grant would find a way to throw a little more, he could be even more dangerous. In the end, I just can’t favor Grant’s one punch against the volume and chin of Rodriguez. So with that, give me Rodriguez via decision.
UFC on ESPN 15 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Mizuki Inoue vs. Amanda Lemos – This is an intriguing fight and a real toss up. Inoue is young, but vastly experienced. She’s fought legit competition too, losing only to several solid fighters like Virna Jandiroba (Split), Alexa Grasso, Karolina Kowalkiewicz (Split) and Ayaka Hamasaki. She brings forth solid grappling and volume striking.
As for Lemos, she looks to be a power puncher, whom is a real threat in the first round. She also offers grappling and submission, but her glaring issue is cardio. Against all around and experienced Inoue, who has never been finished, I see problems there. I think Lemos starts out solid early and then fades. In the end, Inoue takes this via decision.
155 lbs.: Austin Hubbard vs. Joe Solecki – Hubbard has been given nothing but tough fights and has shown to be a fighter that just doesn’t give up. He’s a serviceable striker, whom has the ability to pop up after being taken down and his cardio is excellent. Now, Solecki is a solid grappler and I expect him to get Hubbard to mat early and often. However, Hubbard makes you work to keep him down and he’s got solid submission defense. The longer this fight goes, the more I see Hubbard taking over. In the end, I’ll take Hubbard’s cardio, defense and durability to grab a close decision victory.
205 lbs.: Ike Villanueva vs. Jordan Wright – This fight honestly could go either way. Wright has already been on Dana White’s contenders series and got starched in 40 seconds. His resume speaks of a can crusher, as his first seven opponents combined for an 0-36 record. The eight opponent was then 1-2. After that, he fought more relevant fighters.
As for Villanueva, he is a former Middleweight who just seems like a one round fighter. He doesn’t exactly offer up speed, but he’s got power. Seeing Wright rebound from the contender series to grab a solid win over Gabriel Checco in LFA was more promising of his future. I could see him avoiding the first round troubles and finishing Villanueva, but ultimately I’m going with the power of Villanueva to knockout a rather inexperienced Wright.
170 lbs.: Carlton Minus vs. Matthew Semelsberger – Honestly this is a toss up, but I’ll go with Minus. He’s been in there with Rick Story and has fought some decent competition. So with that, give me Minus via decision.
140 lbs.: Timur Valiev vs. Trevin Jones (catchweight) – Jones resume doesn’t appear too bad. He’s beaten some good fighters and of his losses, three are by split decision and his first came against a 17-4 opponent in only his second professional fight. However, this is a short notice fight and Valiev has been in a training camp. Valiev also is a solid wrestler and serviceable striker. I foresee Valiev using his wrestling to zap Jones and in the later rounds, piece him up on the feet. In the end, I have a Valiev taking this fight via decision.