The UFC is back in action, as the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada host yet another event. In the main event of the evening, we have a Middleweight clash between contenders Derek Brunson and Darren Till. Brunson has found his stride of late, as he enters this fight on a four fight win streak. Most recently, Brunson handily defeated Kevin Holland behind his wrestling in a five round fight. Before this win streak, many saw Brunson as an afterthought, as he had won two of his last six fights. Meanwhile, Till has yet to duplicate the early success that raised him to stardom. The ‘Gorilla’ is 1-3 in his last four fights, with the sole victory coming against Kelvin Gastelum via split decision. However, Till has been fighting some of the divisions best. Behind youth and talent, Till has the abilities to make a title run.

UFC Fight Night 191 Main Card On ESPN+:

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185 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Darren Till – This is an interesting clash of styles in the main event, as Derek Brunson is mainly a wrestler, whereas Darren Till is purely a striker. Brunson once again finds himself an underdog, as he’s been in his last three fights. The reason for that, is the belief that Till can keep this fight upright and pick apart Brunson on the feet. Given Till has good takedown defense, it’s a very possible outcome. Then again, has Till faced a wrestler the caliber of Brunson since Tyron Woodley? Not really.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Brunson. While I do like Till and his striking, his output is just too low to compete with the upper echelon of the division. In Till’s most recent fight against Robert Whittaker, the Brit threw a mere 108 total strikes in five rounds. Meanwhile, Whittaker threw 188 strikes and thoroughly outworked Till in four of the five rounds. Obviously this is a different fight and Brunson is nowhere near the striker Whittaker is. However, Brunson can hold his own on the feet and has legit power in hands. Of course though, Brunson is a wrestler and a very good one at that. During Brunson’s four fight win streak, he has landed 16 takedowns. The recipe in this fight will be like others, wrestle and look to put Till on his back. A place where Till has looked uncomfortable to be honest. The only worry I have for Brunson in this fight, is the deeper it goes. Should his cardio fade, Till will mount a comeback. For my prediction, I’m not hoping that’s the case. So with all that said, I predict that Brunson will extend his win streak to five, defeating Till via decision.

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265 lbs.: Tom Aspinall vs. Serghei Spivac – The judges might not be needed in this one, as both men have fancied themselves as finishers. Tom Aspinall more so, as he’s yet to see a third round in his twelve professional MMA fights. Of his ten victories, all by stoppage, eight have come via strikes. The surging Brit has mowed down the competition thus far, and at this pace, it’s very likely we see him challenging the upper echelon of the division later this year should he win. The same could be said about Serghei Spivak, who has done a great job in fighting to his strength. In Spivak’s three fight win streak, he has utilized his wrestling against strikers and his striking against grapplers. Having a game plan and executing it, is certainly one thing Spivak has excelled at.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Aspinall. I do appreciate Spivak for stepping up on short notice, but this is stylistically a tough fight for him. Aspinall is simply better everywhere. The Brit is a BJJ black belt and a grappler at heart. However, he’s a handful on the feet as well. With legit knockout power and a higher output than most Heavyweights, Aspinall has real Championship qualities. However, his cardio is rather unknown. It’s something that Spivak, if he can survive the early storm, will certainly test. Unfortunately for Spivak, I don’t see that happening. So with that said, I have Aspinall winning this fight via TKO.

170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. David Zawada – While this fight card lacks star power, it makes up for it in style clashes that make for fun fights. This is one of them, as David Zawada is a fairly well rounded fighter. I think we haven’t seen his full potential, as he’s fought extremely tough opponents thus far in the UFC. This fight is no different, as Alex Morono has silently picked up eight UFC victories. While Morono isn’t the best striker, he makes up for with his toughness, high output and ability to keep coming forward.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Zawada. While the German is 1-3 in the UFC, he could very well be 3-1 had two split decision losses gone his way. As I said before, Zawada has faced tough competition. The majority of his opponents have been wrestlers, which normally doesn’t allow you to show off your striking abilities. Morono though, is a striker who isn’t a competent enough wrestler to elevate his status in the Lightweight division. With leaky takedown defense, Morono is an easy target should he ever face the Sean Brady’s or Belal Muhammad’s of the division. I believe that Zawada will do well against the ploddy Morono on the feet, but at the same time, mix in takedowns to take rounds. In the end, Zawada drags Morono into deep waters and wins this fight via late TKO.

205 lbs.: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Khalil Rountree – This is a fun fight for as long as it lasts, as both men are pure strikers. In fact, neither man has yet to complete a takedown. Khalili Rountree Jr. has yet to even attempt one in his ten UFC fights. So with this fight taking place on the feet, it should be an interesting clash of styles. Modestas Bukauskas is a flashy striker, who likes to keep distance and chip away at his opponents. If he could add more volume to his striking, he’d be a bigger problem on the feet. The same could be said about Rountree Jr., who has relied on power over volume and accuracy. While Rountree Jr. has three UFC knockout victories to his name, he also has five UFC losses.

As for a prediction, I’m picking Rountree Jr. to win. I feel that both are low output strikers, who are inaccurate and have leaky striking defense. While Bukauskas boast better cardio, I do feel that the power of Rountree Jr. is going to erase that factor. Of course, Rountree Jr. could fight gun shy like he did in his last fight. One in which he was a heavy favorite. However with his back up against the wall, I believe Rountree Jr. comes to fight. So with that said, I predict that Rountree Jr. wins this fight via TKO.

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155 lbs.: Paddy Pimblett vs. Luigi Vendramini – This is a close fight, which to me, is dependent on a few factors. Luigi Vendramini is a grappler, who has also shown to have legit power on the feet. The problem with Vendramini is his takedown setups, as he hasn’t fooled anyone yet. Coming into this fight, Vendramini is one for twelve in his takedown attempts. Another issue for the ‘Italian Stallion’ is his accuracy and volume on the feet. He’s too hesitant and often finds himself fighting off his back foot. Now, on the feet, Paddy Pimblett isn’t exactly great. However, if Vendramini decides to fight off his back foot and not pressure, Pimblett will be able to get off more strikes at range than he’s accustomed too. Pimblett though is a grappler, and I expect him to test Vendramini’s takedown defense often. Given we’ve yet to see Vendramini’s takedown defense tested, it remains to be seen if he can keep this fight upright or not.

As for a prediction, I have Pimblett winning. I believe that the combination of Vendramini’s poor striking accuracy, output and takedown accuracy leaves a little to be desired. Throw in his unknown takedown defense and it remains to be seen if Vendramini can keep Pimblett from taking him down. With all those question marks, I just can’t side with Vendramini. So with that, I have Pimblett winning via decision.

UFC Fight Night 191 Prelims Card On ESPN+:

125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Ji Yeon Kim – The odds don’t lie, as this fight is the closest on the entire card. It’s the hardest to predict too, as I expect both women to have their moments. Ji Yeon Kim has a distinctive size advantage in this fight, standing three inches taller and having a massive ten inch reach advantage. Kim is a pure striker, who throws every strike with bad intentions. McCann too is a striker, but what she lacks in power, she makes up with high output. Perhaps McCann’s best attributes is her durability and determination.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Kim. By the smallest of margins though, as I see many holes in Kim’s game. She lacks technique and accuracy on the feet, as well as has leaky striking defense and takedown defense. The reason however why I side with Kim, is her power and massive reach advantage. McCann is a pressure fighter, who lives for the brawl. I see her coming forward often and getting tagged with the more impactful shots of the fight. The real key to ‘Meatball’ winning this fight though, is if she uses her wrestling. While it’s nothing special, sitting at a 29% accuracy-wise, a takedown or two could swing the fight in her favor. I’m not banking on that though, as I see Kim winning the striking exchanges on the feet en route to a decision victory.

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135 lbs.: Jack Shore vs. Liudvik Sholinian – Understandably, Liudvik Sholinian is stepping up on short notice as a means to the opportunity to fight in the UFC. He’s a worthy addition, showing his metal in two excellent fights in the Ultimate Fighter 29. However, this particular fight is stylistically awful for him. Jack Shore is simply better everywhere.

As for a prediction, obviously I have Shore winning. The Welshman has shown excellent wrestling thus far in the UFC, landing thirteen takedowns in three fights. While Shore’s last fight was close, he persevered and showed real grit. Something that I don’t see him needing in this fight. In fact, I even believe that Shore can win this fight easily on the feet. His boxing is exponentially better than Sholinian, who has shown at times to have porous striking defense. In the end, Shore wins this fight anyway he wants to. If I were to guess, I’d say via submission in the later rounds.

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150 lbs.: Charles Jourdain vs. Julian Erosa – The judges can sit this one out, as I can’t see this fight going the distance. Both men are strikers, who aren’t afraid to brawl. Julian Erosa is the more aggressive fighter though, often abandoning striking defense to land strikes. More than often, Erosa has succeeded in such. Charles Jourdain is the opposite in regards to striking defense, as he has proven to be elusive for the most part on the feet. The Canadian is also more technical, using his high output to break down opponents.

As for a prediction, I have Jourdain winning. While I expect this fight to get hectic, there is one thing I trust. That would be Jourdain’s chin. In fifteen professional fights, Jourdain has yet to be stopped. He has proven in several fights, his durability is excellent. The same can’t be said about Erosa, who’s durability has failed him at times. Of his nine professional defeats, five have come via knockout. Even worse, in nine UFC fights, Erosa has been dropped six times. Unless Erosa wrestles here, I can’t see him outlasting Jourdian. So with that said, I have Jourdain winning via KO.

185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Dalcha Lungiambula – This is a competitive fight that, to me, is dependent on a few factors. For one, does Marc-Andre Barriault have the takedown defense to stay upright? Two, does Dalcha Lungiambula have the standup and cardio necessary should this fight take place mainly on the feet? In my opinion, Barriault has at times, struggled to fend off takedowns. Overall though, he’s done a good job of getting back to his feet when taken down. Lungiambula is a strong grappler, who has legit power on the feet. His problem seems to be output. The former EFC Champion might be intimidating to stand across the octagon from, but he doesn’t throw nearly enough to be that big of a threat on the feet.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Barriault. Other than wrestling and sheer power, the Canadian has the necessary advantages to ruin Lungiambula’s night. Barriault has decent enough takedown defense to fend off Lungiambula, especially the later the fight goes. Barriault is durable, has good cardio and nearly triples Lungiambula in strikes landed per minute. In the end, I see Barriault eventually breaking Lungiambula, winning via TKO.

135 lbs.: Jonathan Martinez vs. Marcelo Rojo – This is an excellent fight to open the card, as both men fancy themselves strikers. Jonathan Martinez features power and an array of leg attacks. In fact, Martinez is morphing into Alistair Overeem, as he’s beginning to build a reputation for his knee strikes. In five UFC victories, Martinez has finished two opponents due to knee strikes. He’s going to need them in this fight, as Marcelo Rojo is an absolute handful on the feet. The Argentinian is a brawler, who uses his pressure and aggressiveness to swarm and finish his foes. An effective method, as fourteen of Rojo’s wins have come via stoppage.

As for a prediction, I have Martinez. Despite his most recent fight, where he was finished for the first time in his career, Martinez is very durable. An important factor in this fight, especially when considering Rojo’s comes forward and is a volume striker. The reason however why I side with Martinez, is the combination of Rojo’s taking this fight on short notice and Martinez’s body work. The later the fight goes, the more tired and vulnerable Rojo’s will be. In the end, Martinez’s cardio and body work will lead him to a late TKO victory.

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