After a rare week off, the UFC is back in action live from the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event of the evening, we have a Light Heavyweight clash between the sixth ranked Anthony Smith and eleventh ranked Ryan Spann. Smith enters this fight on a two-fight win streak, with both wins coming via stoppage. The former title challenger has reignited his career, as prior to the winning streak, he had lost two consecutive fights. At 33 years old, Smith will make the walk for an astonishing fifty second time come Saturday. Meanwhile, Spann will look to build off a big stoppage victory over Misha Cirkunov. The rising star has won nine of his last ten fights, and is certainly ready to headline a card for the first time.

UFC Fight Night 192 Main Card On ESPN+:

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205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann – While this isn’t a typical main event, it’s certainly an intriguing one at 205 pounds. Anthony Smith is a striker who has made a living off enduring punishment and mounting comebacks. His heart alone is an intangible that many fighters wish they had. A finisher in every sense of the word, Smith has won thirty two of his thirty five wins via stoppage. That’s practically a 90% finishing rate, which is scary thought for anyone standing across the octagon from Smith. The same could be said about Ryan Spann, who primarily is a striker. With excellent size and an evolving wrestling game, Spann has started to blossom inside the octagon.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Spann. The rising Light Heavyweight holds a 5.5 reach advantage against Smith, which will complicate things on the feet for the former title challenger. Spann also notably doesn’t carry fifty one fights of punishment with him into this fight. While Smith is still young at 33 years old, it’s only a matter of time before his durability no longer is an asset. Throw in the fact that Smith has leaky takedown defense and Spann has a dangerous submission game, and I see clear advantages for ‘Superman’ in this fight. In the end, I see Spann’s reach and power hurting Smith on the feet, allowing him to get an advantageous position and lock in his twelfth submission victory.

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205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Ion Cutelaba – This is going to be a hectic fight early, as Ion Cutelaba brings forth a storm that can swarm opponents if you’re not prepared. With strength and power, Cutelaba head hunts on the feet for knockouts. He also has good wrestling, landing nine takedowns in his last fight alone. The one knock on Cutelaba is that his high pace often zaps his cardio. That and his style leaves him open to getting finished. However, Cutelaba doesn’t have to worry about getting finished, as Devin Clark is far from a finisher. Clark is a wrestler who looks to grind down opponents. Undersized, Clark has often had to weather storms and rely on his cardio to outlast foes. It’s a tough recipe, but one that has aided him to six UFC victories thus far.

As for a prediction, I have Cutelaba winning. If the ‘Hulk’ can just fend off Clark’s wrestling exchanges, his aggressiveness and power on the feet will take over this fight. Clark is just too undersized at Light Heavyweight and his durability takes a knock given he’s fighting much bigger men. Of Clark’s five losses, all which have come via stoppage, four have come in the Light Heavyweight division. Make it five, as I see Cutelaba swarming Clark early and winning via knockout.

125 lbs.: Mandy Bohm vs. Ariane Lipski – This is a tough fight to call. In one corner, you have a surging undefeated fighter in Mandy Bohm, who has yet to face any competition thus far. In the other corner, you have a struggling fighter in Ariane Lipski, who dominated on the regional scene, but has yet to find that same success in the UFC. Bohm is predominantly a striker, who fights at range and is solid inside the clinch. Bohm also boasts pretty good wrestling abilities, but could use work on her top control. Lipski will hope to avoid any wrestling exchanges though, as her leaky takedown defense has not aided her in keeping fights upright. However, if this fight takes place on the feet, Lipski has shown to be effective with her mixed attack at range.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Lipski. While I do believe that Bohm has the better skillset, I also am bullish if she is ready for this jump in competition. It’s not like Lipski represents the division’s top fifteen, but she is a talented fighter who’s yet to find her footing. Against an inexperienced fighter like Bohm, I believe Lipski can rise to the occasion, keep the fight upright and win the striking battles en route to a close and hard fought decision.

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155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Arman Tsarukyan – This is one of the more lopsided fights on the card, as Arman Tsarukyan checks in at a -800 favorite. The Armenian has been dominant in his three straight wins in the UFC, and most likely will continue that trend. It’s not that Christos Giagos is a bad fighter, but this just isn’t a good matchup. Giagos is a wrestler, who has landed twenty one takedowns in his last five fights. His problem has always been cardio, as the wrestling and grappling wear him down by round three. Using his physical strength, Giagos has shown to overcome his tiredness by landing a takedown and controlling foes. However, the problem is, Tsarukyan is well rounded. Not only is Tsarukyan a better wrestler, but his striking is going to cause Giagos fits.

As for a prediction, obviously I’m going with Tsarukyan. The Armenian is just too well rounded, with a way better gas tank to lose this fight. Even if Giagos manages to take Tsarukyan down, don’t expect him to be controlled. The later this fight goes, the more you’ll see Tsarukyan takeover. In the end, Giagos will fade, and Tsarukyan will pick up the TKO victory.

135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Nate Maness – This should be an interesting clash of styles, as Nate Maness is a striker and Tony Gravely a wrestler. In Maness’ UFC debut, he fought a wrestler in Johnny Munoz Jr. While Maness managed to shrug off fourteen of the sixteen takedowns attempted against him, Munoz was still able to control him for a little more than nine minutes. Not only that, but Maness could only muster twenty one significant strikes due to being controlled. That leads me to Gravely, who has landed sixteen takedowns in only three UFC fights. A nightmare matchup for most Bantamweights, Gravely has only shown to be undone in the later rounds due to potential gas tank issues.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Gravely. While Maness is tough and durable, he has shown he can be controlled by a wrestler. Insert Gravely, who is an excellent wrestler and I don’t see this going all too well for Maness. Of course as I mentioned, should this fight exert Gravely, there is definitely a chance he leaves an opening in the third round for Maness to capitalize on. I however, am not banking on that. So with all that said, I predict that Gravely will win this fight via decision.

185 lbs.: Antonio Arroyo vs. Joaquin Buckley – There is a bit of a wildcard feeling in this fight, as Antonio Arroyo has yet to display the striking abilities that got him into the UFC. Given Joaquin Buckley is a striker, it’s fair to assume we will see Arroyo at his best. With a karate stance, Arroyo looks to keep opponents at a distance while peppering a jab and landing high kicks. Physically big for the weight class, Arroyo checks in 6’3. That’s problematic for Buckley, who at 5’10 is already on the smaller size-wise for the Middleweight division. Then again, the powerful striker has delivered two impressive knockouts thus far in the UFC.

As for a prediction, I’m going upset and picking Arroyo. I think the oddsmakers are a little off in this fight. I don’t see Buckley as a moderate favorite, especially given he’s been knocked out in two of his four fights in the UFC. I don’t think it’s necessarily a durability issue with Buckley, more than his style leaves him open to getting tagged. Obviously he does his fair share of tagging opponents too, but in what is expected to be a striking contest, I liken Arroyo’s size and karate style to give Buckley fits. I also believe that since I don’t expect wrestling or grappling in this fight, Arroyo will show off a much better gas tank than he has in his last two fight’s. In the end, I foresee the judges not being needed in this one, as I predict Arroyo wins this slugfest via TKO.

UFC Fight Night 192 Prelims Card On ESPN+:

205 lbs.: Tafon Nchukwi vs. Mike Rodriguez – This is a tough fight to predict, as evidence by the near pick ’em’ odds. On one hand, you have a struggling fighter in Mike Rodriguez, who presents a challenge to nearly every Light Heavyweight with his length. However, his leaky takedown defense and grappling have doomed him in three of his four losses in the UFC. On the other hand, you have an inexperienced fighter who stormed into the UFC after only five professional fights. While obviously still green, it’s safe to assume Tafon Nchukwi hasn’t unlocked his full potential yet. Throw in the fact that he’s moving back up to Light Heavyweight, and his smaller size could be problematic.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Nchukwi. Although he is inexperienced, I do believe that he has several advantages in this fight. The Cameroonian holds a significant power edge, as well as the ability in this particular fight, to mix in takedowns. Given Rodriguez has yet to prove he can stuff a takedown, it’s fair to assume he will once again be exploited here. Nchukwi has shown good output thus far, throwing good combinations and often attacking the body. The biggest problems in this fight I see for Nchukwi are size, speed, head movement and Rodriguez’s size and length advantages. However, if Nchukwi wrestles like I believe he will, he can neutralize all those disadvantages. So with all that said, I predict that Nchukwi gets back on track, winning this fight via decision.

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135 lbs.: Pannie Kianzad vs. Raquel Pennington – This is excellent matchmaking, as it pits a rising and fresh contender in Pannie Kianzad against a former title challenger in Raquel Pennington. Kianzad has come a long ways from her struggles in Invicta, as she’s evolved into a solid striker. Pumping a jab and a straight right, Kianzad throws each with volume, often doubling up opponents on strikes. The same can’t be said about Pennington, who normally doesn’t offer high output. Instead, Pennington uses her strength to bully opponents against the cage, work in dirty boxing and potentially mix in takedowns. Pennington also is defensively sound, often evading strikes.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Kianzad. While I expect this fight to be close, and I could see Pennington bully Kianzad with her strength, I liken the volume of the Swede to edge out the close rounds. In my opinion, I believe the judges will favor the activity of Kianzad over the stalling cage control and low output of Pennington. Well, it’s what I’m banking on. So with that said, I have Kianzad winning her fifth straight fight via decision.

155 lbs.: Brandon Jenkins vs. Rong Zhu – Originally this fight was to feature Dakota Bush against Rong Zhu, but Bush tested positive for COVID, thus removing him from the bout. In steps Brandon Jenkins, who is a journeyman that has proven to be an exciting fighter. While Jenkins has yet to build a legitimate win streak, his fighting style is something that UFC fans will enjoy. Of Jenkins’ sixteen wins, he has won thirteen via stoppage. With long limbs, Jenkins looks to pick apart foes from the outside. He likes to switch stances and throw head kicks and flying knees as well. This should excite Zhu, as his mix of striking and wrestling could be more effective in this spot. While his UFC debut didn’t go in his favor, Zhu landed three takedowns – a recipe I could see against Jenkins.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Zhu. The young Chinese fighter has been in camp training for a fight, whereas Jenkins is taking this on four days’ notice. While I believe Jenkins is the better striker, I do believe he will run into issues with Zhu’s wrestling. The later the fight goes, the more Jenkins will slow down due to the short notice nature of it. To cut weight in four days, and have the ability to go a hard fifteen minutes, is just something I don’t see happening. So with that, I predict Zhu will win via decision.

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135 lbs.: JP Buys vs. Montel Jackson – I never want to dismiss anyone in a fight, as I’ve seen the most unpredictable things happen in this sport. However, Montel Jackson has so many advantages in this fight, that I just can’t see J.P. Buys having a chance. Not only does Jackson hold advantages in skillset, he normally is the bigger opponent against fellow Bantamweights. Buys is a Flyweight, who stands five inches shorter and has to overcome an eight inch reach advantage against Jackson. Throw in an obvious gap in physical strength and power for Jackson, and it’s fair to assume Buys has a lot to overcome.

As for a prediction, obviously I’m siding with Jackson. The sheer size advantage should aid Jackson in several ways, as he could wrestle Buys in an attempt to gain top control or keep the fight upright. If Jackson chooses the latter, he holds a significant reach and power advantage. In the end, I foresee Jackson one way or another finishing Buys via strikes in the opening round.

125 lbs.: Sarah Alpar vs. Erin Blanchfield – Erin Blanchfield is an excellent addition to the Flyweight division. With superior ground skills, an evolving striking and wrestling, it’s only a matter of time before a legitimate contender is born. However, Sarah Alpar is no pushover. With fourteen professional fights and nine victories, Alpar has excellent experience and legitimate wins over top competition. While her UFC debut didn’t go her way, Alpar showed heart and an aptitude to endure punishment.

As for a prediction, I side with Blanchfield. I believe she just has too many advantages in this fight. For one, Alpar is a grappler with very minimal striking abilities. Blanchfield is a superior ground specialist, who is going to make Alpar work to fight off submissions and sweeps should the fight hit the mat. On the feet, Blanchfield is an evolving kickboxer and light years ahead of Alpar. In the end, I see the UFC debutant Blanchfield winning via late submission.

170 lbs.: Carlston Harris vs. Impa Kasanganay – This is an interesting clash, as Impa Kasanganay is a former Middleweight who successfully dropped down to Welterweight. Already physically strong, it remains to be seen how much Kasanganay can impose his will, now fighting fifteen pounds lower. Against Sasha Palatnikov, Kasanganay struggled to take down the kickboxer who notably has leaky takedown defense. Perhaps it was just a blip, as Kasanganay has shown to have good wrestling. Carlston Harris offers length and power on the feet, while also excelling in taking opponents down in the clinch. Using a patented body lock, Harris has made a living of tripping opponents and then finishing them on top.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with the upset minded Harris. While I believe that Kasanganay is the more well rounded fighter and should hold a strength advantage, his lack of power on the feet is discerning. In ten professional fights, Kasanganay has yet to stop anyone via strikes. Also, Kasanganay is rather inexperienced. The American only turned professional in 2019. Harris on the other hand, has been fighting for nearly ten years. Notably during that span, he defeated two current UFC fighters on the regional scene in Michel Periera and Wellington Turman. With experience, power on the feet and an excellent body lock, I believe that Harris has the tools to win this fight. In the end, I predict that Harris wins via submission.

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135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Gustavo Lopez – This fight is flying under the radar, as both men are near the bottom in a rather stacked Bantamweight division. However, styles make fights and I believe we are in for a fun one. Gustavo Lopez is a brawler and bonafide finisher, winning eleven of his twelve professional victories via stoppage. Due to his style however, his striking defense is porous. Of Lopez’s six professional defeats, he has been stopped via strikes three times. The same could be said about Heili Alateng regarding striking defense, as he’s absorbed nearly six strikes per minute. The difference though, is Alateng has shown to have an iron chin. Only once in the last six years has Alateng been stopped.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Alateng. The ‘Mongolian Knight’ has been exceptional in the last six years, and held his own in his most recent fight against Casey Kenney. It was a clear step up in competition, and Alateng had his moments. With both men having issues with their striking defense, it’s safe to assume they will have to endure the other’s best shot’s. It’s Alateng though that holds a durability edge. In what I expect to be a back-and-forth fight, that edge is going to aid Alateng to victory. So with that, I believe Alateng wins this fight via late TKO.

125 lbs.: Hannah Goldy vs. Emily Whitmire – This is an intriguing fight to open the card, especially given both are fighting with their backs against the wall. Emily Whitmire is mainly a striker with some decent grappling chops. I say decent with all due respect, as she has shown porous submission defense. In fact, of her four professional defeats, all have come via submission. As for Goldy, she is primarily a boxer, who on occasion will mix in some wrestling. While her hands haven’t yet aided her to victory, she has done a great job in landing strikes at a high output.

As for a prediction, I’m picking Goldy. While both have struggled, it’s Goldy that has remained competitive in her fights. Goldy is also the better striker, which is where I expect the fight to mainly take place. With striking output that more than doubles Whitmire, there’s a clear route for Goldy to taste UFC victory for the first time. Now, with only one stoppage victory, Goldy doesn’t exactly possess power. Which leads me to believe that this fight goes the distance. With that said, I predict that Goldy wins via decision.

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