The UFC is back in action, with a PPV card at the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card features two title fights, with the Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figuiredo making his first title defense against challenger Alex Perez. In what should be a fun fight, something tells me that with the finishing abilities of both men – this one isn’t going the distance. The second title fight features the Queen of the Flyweight division Valentina Shevchenko taking on challenger Jennifer Maia. Shevchenko is one of the most well rounded athletes on the roster. She is the gold standard of a Champion and mixed martial artist. I would not miss her perform if you are a fan of the sport. It’s literal poetry in motion.
UFC 255 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez – I believe that Deiveson Figueiredo is going to reign in the Flyweight division for as long as he can make the weight. With immense stopping power and excellent submission abilities, there are few holes in his game. It seems like cardio is the consensus concern. It’s more of an unknown though in my opinion, as we’ve yet to see him go five rounds. Even in three round fights, it’s not that glaring. His low volume, but precision power shots make it thus that he can go a hard three or five in this matter.
I don’t want to dismiss Alex Perez. He’s a worthy contender, but he’s not ready for an opponent like Figueiredo. An opponent that you believe you can strike with or take down. Until you’re either waking up from being knocked out or choked out. In my opinion, Figueiredo is going to make quick work of Perez, knocking him out in round one.
125 lbs.: UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia – Nobody is going to take the belt from Valentina Shevchenko. No one! The Flyweight queen reign continues via a late TKO.
170 lbs.: Mike Perry vs. Tim Means – It’s odd for me to side with Mike Perry here. The man has his pregnant wife in his corner, he missed weight badly and has a bunch of legal issues including a domestic violence allegation. That’s tough to get behind. I just feel that Tim Means is losing a step. He’s been hurt in a bunch of recent fights, even being finished in two of his last four fights. Make it three of the last five, as I see Perry winning via TKO.
125 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Katlyn Chookagian – This is a toss up for me. I feel that everyone is writing off Katlyn Chookagian because she was finished by Jessica Andrade quickly. Let’s be clear, Andrade is a tank and can finish anyone. Getting finished via a body shot isn’t a death sentence. In my opinion, Chookagian is going to get back on the horse here and surprise a lot of people. Cynthia Calvillo is an excellent fighter, with well rounded skills. She is notably a grappler at heart though, taking foes down and controlling them. Against Jessica Eye, Calvillo effectively took Eye down and maximized on ground strikes and control. It was an impressive win and there is little doubt she is a contender in the division.
My issue is that Calvillo was a Strawweight. While she outmuscled Eye, I will say Eye had a bad weight cut and notoriously has iffy takedown defense. Chookagian’s take down defense is iffy too, but she’s been working on her wrestling abilities. The fight against Antonia Shevchenko showed that. Now, I know Shevchenko notably doesn’t have takedown defense either, but the fact that Chookagian is evolving her game is important. As for a prediction, I’ve got Chookagian. While she might get taken down, I’m hoping her weight advantage and wrestling evolution aids her in keeping this on the feet. In what I expect to be a close one, I’ll predict that Chookagian wins this via decision.
205 lbs.: Mauricio Rua vs. Paul Craig – Realistically, Paul Craig should win here. Mauricio Rua is nearing the end of his career, slowing down seemingly each fight. The amount of wars and punishment that Rua has taken has definitely shattered his seemingly unbreakable durability. However, Rua 5-1-1 in the last six years. He’s fighting less and less, and also winning. While Craig should win here, the first fight gives me pause. ‘Shogun’ seemingly was able to stay in his guard and land ground-and-pound. Craig can catch anyone in his guard, but if he can’t – the lack of getup is alarming. As crazy as this sounds, I’m going with Rua. I feel like he uses the last two rounds of the first fight, and rinses and repeats throughout this fight. In the end, give me Rua winning via decision.
UFC 255 Late ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+/ESPN 2 (8 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval – This may as well be your fight of the night. Two durable grapplers, who can absolutely scramble for days. I’m envisioning an insanely high paced fight for as long as it might last. Now, initially I was on Brandon Moreno. He’s proven over and over, that he can comeback from adversity and win. His ability to turn disadvantageous positions to advantageous is bar none.
The one thing I do worry about, is Moreno’s striking. Should Brandon Royval choose to try and turn this into a striking contest, he will batter Moreno on the feet. Moreno notably doesn’t land much, due to his inaccuracy. Royval has a mixed attack on the feet, offering more volume and accuracy – with some decent power to boot. Moreno has a chin though, so I wouldn’t suspect a knockout. As far as grappling, I have to edge Moreno. However, my real concern is who’s the fresher fighter should this enter a third round? Perhaps Royval, given he’s fought for twenty five minutes before. Either way, I’m going with Moreno. This might be too big of a jump for Royval at this stage of his career. So with that, give me Moreno via decision.
185 lbs.: Joaquin Buckley vs. Jordan Wright – While Joaquin Buckley will forever be known due to his Mortal Kombat knockout over Impa Kasanganay, I’ve been high on him since his short notice fight against Kevin Holland. So much to the degree, that I picked him as a moderate underdog to beat Kasanganay. I saw a fearsome and strong striker, who is going to shut the lights out on many fighters. Jordan Wright included. The ‘Beverly Hills Ninja’ may be undefeated, but his record is mixed with some good and bad. I’m just saying, wait till Buckley hits Wright – as he will crumple… Buckley wins this via KO.
125 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Antonina Shevchenko – If this is strictly a striking contest, then Antonina Shevchenko should realistically edge it out. Ariane Lipski is a good striker, but lacks volume and accuracy to beat out Shevchenko on the feet. However, if Lipski decides to mix in some wrestling, than I’d favor her. Shevchenko notably has been exposed by several opponents for her lack thereof takedown defense. It would be in Lipski’s best interest to go that route – which oddly I feel she will. So with that, give me Lipski to win this via split decision.
170 lbs.: Nicolas Dalby vs. Daniel Rodriguez – Nicholas Dalby is noted for being tough, durable and a grinder. In his last fight against a short notice opponent in Jesse Ronson, he was finished by strikes for the first time in his career. The result has since been overturned due to Ronson testing hot, but it is notable to point out. While I’m not saying Dalby’s chin is done, I will say that he has been a lot of wars. The punishment will catch up to you eventually. I feel like this fight against Daniel Rodriguez is going be an important fight in seeing such. Rodriguez strikes with volume and power. Already 3-0 this year, Rodriguez has set his eyes on remaining undefeated in 2020. I believe he will. Rodriguez is going to overwhelm Dalby with strikes, eventually winning decision.
UFC 255 Early ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (6:30 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Jared Gooden vs. Alan Jouban – I’ll be frank, Alan Jouban is the more skilled fighter. He has fought stiff competition and has won his fair share of fights. With UFC experience and solid striking, Jouban should realistically win this. The few caveats I have, is that Jouban is nearing 40 years old. He’s also taken some notable punishment in recent fights. Fighting isn’t exactly Jouban’s career as much as it used to either. On the other hand, fighting is Gooden’s life. In the end though, give me Jouban to win via decision.
185 lbs.: Kyle Daukaus vs. Dustin Stoltzfus – While Kyle Daukaus is a big favorite, partly because of his performance in his UFC debut – I personally would caution the expectations in this fight. For one, he showed excellent durability and survived an onslaught against Brendan Allen that many couldn’t. Daukaus looked to have excellent grappling and good cardio. On the feet, there is more of an unknown. While I don’t know much about Dustin Stoltzfus, the man has won thirteen of his fourteen professional fights. He’s on a ten fight win streak and has beaten some good competition along the way. While ultimately I believe Daukaus wins this fight via decision – I’d say it won’t be as easy as the odds indicate.
170 lbs.: Louis Cosce vs. Sasha Palatnikov – From the little I’ve seen of both men, Luis Cosce is the more UFC ready fighter. Sasha Palatnikov has only seven professional fights, five of which he has won. Of those five victories, his opponents combined for a 15-13 record. In other words, Palatnikov has beaten nobody of relevance. Now, Palatnikov has fought a fellow UFC fighter in Mounir Lazzez. In that fight he was dropped, taken down and controlled easily – ultimately succumbing via ground and pound. If it wasn’t obvious enough, I’m going with Cosce. On Dana White’s Contender series, Cosce stopped a tough Victor Reyna in the very first round. It was his first relevant test and he passed with flying colors. So with that, I have Cosce winning via TKO.