The UFC is back in action, as they complete their final event for awhile at the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada – as they head to Fight Island. Headlining the event is a grudge match, as the former Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley takes on former training partner and one-time Interim Welterweight Champion Colby Covington. With bad blood spilled, expect these two to give their all – seemingly just not to fall defeat to either. The aftermath is going to be crazy, but for now, get excited for what should be a good one.
UFC Vegas 11 Main Card on ESPN+:
170 lbs.: Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley – This card feels like a PPV and it’s because of this fight. The heat is real, but I’m not too confident the former Welterweight kingpin Tyron Woodley can pull the trigger. I mean, Woodley’s last two fights were more or less the same, as he showed hesitancy to let his hands go and found himself backing up into the cage. As much as I want to say that Woodley presents issues for Colby Covington, I really can’t – given I’ve already said that when he faced Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns.
As for Covington, antics aside, this man is a hell of a mixed martial artist. He’s got wrestling, cardio, volume striking, pressure, pace and so on. In other words, he’s stylistically a nightmare for the majority of the division. And given the state of this current Woodley I’m seeing, this fight isn’t going to be close. Either Covington dominates over the course of five rounds for a decision or he gets a late stoppage. Give me the latter, as I have Covington winning via TKO.
170 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Niko Price – To be fair, I thought Donald Cerrone won his last fight against Anthony Pettis. However, the judges saw it the other way, thus bringing him into this dangerous contest on a four fight losing streak. At 37 years old, Cerrone is entering territory in which he’s going to need pull out some wins or his legendary career could be nearing an end. This fight against Niko Price, is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.
Price is a vicious striker, who is 100% offensively based. Meaning, Price lacks any striking defense whatsoever. In my opinion, Cerrone eats these types of fighters up. The only problem is – does Cerrone have anything left in the tank? If not, the wild man that is Price is going to come out of the gate hot and put it on ‘Cowboy’.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Cerrone winning. I feel that Price is going to be uber dangerous the first two rounds, but more so in the first. His wildness is going to give Cerrone opportunities to take this fight to mat. Once tired, Price is going to get picked apart by the more technical Cerrone. In the end, I see a late stoppage victory for ‘Cowboy’.
185 lbs.: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gerald Meerschaert – I hate to be that guy, as I realize that Gerald Meerschaert is a good mixed martial artist – but this fight is handpicked for Khamazat Chimaev to get passed him and fight Demain Maia next. If you look at Meerschaert, he’s an excellent grappler with a submission prowess. Striking-wise, Meerschaert can certainly hold his own. However, of his six UFC wins, Deron Winn is perhaps the biggest name he’s beaten. In that fight, he held a seven inch height and reach advantage.
Now, I realize that Chimaev has yet to face anyone relevant yet – but you can’t deny what you see. The man’s well rounded, with some of the best control and ground-and-pound. The fact that he’s been hit with one significant strike in two fights, speaks the dominance he’s had. While Meerschaert presents an issue – that being slick off his back, I just don’t see him catching Chimaev. I instead see a beatdown, with Chimaev winning via TKO.
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker vs. Ryan Spann – It’s hard to trust Johnny Walker given his last two dud performances. Then again, Walker is now training at SBG Ireland. Before, he was bouncing around to multiple gym’s. As for Ryan Spann, the UFC has done a good job easing him into the Light Heavyweight division. He’s 4-0, with three stoppages and has notable wins over ‘Lil Nog’ and Sam Alvey.
The Alvey fight in particular does give me pause though. While Spann won the fight, he just showed way too much hesitancy. Hell, in the third round, he got cracked and had to survive. I’m feeling that perhaps the cookie-cut matchmaking for Spann, had eluded my eyes to not seeing that he’s not really great at any aspect. The hesitancy I mentioned is problematic too, as I fear a lack of confidence in your game follows that. In the end, what I’m trying to say – is that I believe Walker is going to expose Spann here and win via TKO.
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Randa Markos – I must admit, I feel that MacKenzie Dern has the best avenue to win – with that obviously being her world class BJJ. It’s important to note though that, Randa Markos has only been submitted once in nineteen fights (twice if you count exhibition fights). Markos should also be noted for being absolutely tough as nails, having some of the best durability in the division. While she’s yet to win consecutive fights in the UFC, she’s also yet to lose consecutive fights. Given she just lost, perhaps a win is coming?
As for a prediction, Dern is the smart choice. Her striking is evolving and she’s got the world class BJJ in her pocket. However, I’m going with the upset. I believe that Markos is going shrug off any grappling initiated by Dern and just stick to the outside. From there, she’s going to get the better of the exchanges and edge this fight out via split decision.
185 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Darren Stewart – In my opinion, the odds on this fight seem a bit off. While I agree that Holland is the favorite, I don’t see how he’s a near 3/1. I mean, Holland is certainly talented and well rounded. However, he’s on a two-fight win streak – with wins over Anthony Hernandez and Joaquin Buckley. Not exactly big wins if you ask me. Meanwhile, Darren Stewart has won his last three UFC fights (Lost in Cage Warriors), and is starting to come into his own.
Stewart has legit knockout power in his hands and has developed a rather formidable wrestling game to his skill set. If he can continue to work on his jui-jitsu, I could see Stewart make a run in the Middleweight division. On the other hand, Holland is very adept to wherever this fight goes. On the feet, he uses his reach well and lands volume from a distance. Holland’s got wrestling and grappling in his back pocket too, should he feel threatened on the feet.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Stewart winning via decision. I just think that he’s severely underrated in this fight and Holland too often puts himself in disadvantageous positions. In what I expect to be a close fight, I see Stewart edging out some close rounds.
UFC Vegas 11 Prelims Card on ESPN+:
125 lbs.: David Dvorak vs. Jordan Espinosa – I’m on board the Dvorak train here, as the Czechoslovakian rolls into this bout on a fourteen fight win streak. While Espinosa brings forth wrestling and volume striking, he lacks the jiu-jitsu necessary to advance in the division – and quite frankly in this fight. Dvorak is well rounded and a finisher by nature. Of his eighteen wins, fifteen come via stoppage – with seven by submission and eight via knockout. While Dvorak didn’t finish Bruno Silva in his UFC debut, I expect him to get back to his ways here. Give me Dvorak to win via submission.
145 lbs.: Mirsad Bektic vs. Damon Jackson – At one point, Mirsad Bektic was looking like he was destined to be a contender at Featherweight – winning six of his first seven fights in the UFC. However, a two fight skid has halted those notions and Bektic is going to need to build himself back up. On the docket, is Damon Jackson – who returns to the UFC on short notice. Since departing from the promotion in 2016, Jackson has won eight of his last ten fights. Of those eight wins, seven of them came via stoppage.
As for a prediction, I don’t see this one going the distance. Jackson is coming into this on short notice, so his cardio probably won’t be there. Combine that with the fact that Jackson has only seen the judges twice in twenty two fights and you can pretty much guarantee Jackson is going to go for the finish early. While I can see it happening, I’m go with Bektic here. He’s been training for a fight and notably has solid cardio. The deeper this fight goes, the easier it gets for him. So with that, give me Bektic to win via TKO.
125 lbs.: Mara Romero Borella vs. Mayra Bueno Silva – This is a less than ideal fight for Mara Romero Borella, who has just one win in her last five fights. Borella often looks to use her wrestling to get the fight to the mat, where she uses a smothering grappling to control fighters. That style hasn’t particularly fared well in the UFC and nor will it in this fight. Mayra Bueno Silva is a well rounded fighter, who prefers to strike – even though she’s a submission specialist.
As for a prediction, Borella is severely outgunned in this fight. If she opts to keep it on the feet, she’s going to get picked apart. If she opts to bring the fight to the ground, she’s going to have to fight off sweeps and submissions. At the end of the day, I just don’t see an avenue to victory here. So with that, give me Silva to win via submission.
135 lbs.: Sarah Alpar vs. Jessica-Rose Clark – I’m not confident in this prediction whatsoever. While I do have Jessica-Rose Clark getting the nod, there are aspects of this fight that tilt it the other way. For one, Sarah Alpar is the more well rounded of the two. Another is that Clark has had more injuries than fights in the last two years unfortunately. However, like I said, I have Clark winning here. I think her striking is going to be just a step ahead of Alpar – ultimately leading to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Journey Newson vs. Randy Costa – This fight is going to be fun as long as it lasts. Both men are strikers, with Journey Newson being the more patient and technical of the two – while also carrying an absolute piston of a right hand. Randy Costa is a volume striker, who comes forward and pushes the pace. The one thing that Newson is way better at in this fight, is his striking defense. Costa would be better served to shore that aspect of his game.
As for my prediction, I’m more confident on this fight not going the distance – than picking either of these men. However, the volume, power and pace of Costa is ultimately why I’m siding with him to win via TKO.
135 lbs.: Andre Ewell vs. Irwin Rivera – I’ll be honest here, I was higher on Irwin Rivera after his UFC debut defeat to Giga Chikadze – than his split decision victory in his second go around against Ali AlQaisi. While I still see the same tough fighter, I also see a striker who lacks the necessary size, power and volume striking needed to make a dent at Bantamweight. I mean, Andre Ewell isn’t exactly a world beater, but he’s a good striker – who manages distance well. That ability to stay on the outside is going to be huge in this fight, as is the two inch height and eight inch reach advantage Ewell possesses. In the end, I see Ewell picking Rivera apart for three rounds – winning via decision.
145 lbs.: T.J. Laramie vs. Darrick Minner – This seems like a pretty clear-cut fight, as Darrick Minner is purely a grappler with slick submissions. T.J. Laramie is a wrestler, who has serviceable striking. Minner is going to look to get this fight to mat, but given Laramie’s wrestling pedigree – I’m not too sure I see that happening. On the feet, Laramie is the better striker, as Minner only throws looping hooks. While I don’t see this fight going the distance, and I understand the major issues Laramie presents for Minner – I’m predicting that upon the first grappling exchange, Minner locks up a submission for the upset victory.
135 lbs.: Tyson Nam vs. Jerome Rivera – At 5’10, Jerome Rivera is practically a giant for the Flyweight division. Fortunately, this bout is taking place at Bantamweight, due to the short notice of it. While Rivera looks to be a strong grappler, he doesn’t seem to have the best wrestling to get the fight to the ground. Given Tyson Nam has strong takedown defense, I just don’t see how Rivera gets this fight to his world. On the feet, Nam is the better striker and has legit knockout power. His only issue, is that he doesn’t throw enough volume. Given this fight’s up a weight class, perhaps the less strenuous weight cut could present us the best version of Nam. Regardless, I have Nam winning via decision.