UFC Fight Night 193 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):

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205 lbs.: Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker – This isn’t your typical main event, but it’s a really fun one. Both men are pure strikers, who have high finishing rates. Thiago Santos is a kickboxer, who features heavy hands and devastating leg kicks. Since joining the UFC in 2013, Santos has racked up thirteen wins, eleven of which have come via knockout. With good cardio and durability, Santos is a tough out for anyone who stands across from him. The same could be said about Johnny Walker, with a caveat. That being that Walker, while a proficient knockout artist, has been known to be a wildman. Which caught up to him, as both Nikita Krylov and Corey Anderson were able to tame him. With excellent size and long limbs, Walker is dynamic, yet accurate on the feet. Walker is also very athletic, often exploding on opponents with flying knees and spinning attacks. The knock on Walker besides being wild, is that he has no ground game. At least in this fight, he shouldn’t need to worry about that.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Walker. While I could see either man winning via knockout, I just can’t behind someone who literally had to relearn how to walk after surgery. Obviously Santos is still dangerous, but I do believe he’s not the same fighter. Walker however, I’d have to believe is going to be more tempered than usual in the octagon. His wild style has gotten him far, but it’s also halted his progress. With a full camp at SBG Ireland, I expect them to teach him to manage distance and fight at range like fellow gym mate Connor McGregor does. With all that size and athleticism, if Walker can be fundamentally sound, he’s a bonafide contender. In this fight, I have him winning via TKO.

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185 lbs.: Kyle Daukaus vs. Kevin Holland – This is a fun fight, and one in which I’m interested to see where Kevin Holland is at. There is no question that ‘Trailblazer’ is a talented fighter. With size, excellent striking and cardio, Holland has turned himself into a top Middleweight. However, his leaky takedown defense and inability to avoid being smothered has cost from being a contender. With obvious needed work on his wrestling, Holland notably has made strides in this camp to improve upon that. If not, then Kyle Daukaus will have his way with Holland. The grappler has made a knack of taking down opponents, landing five in his first two UFC fights. While Daukaus can be neutralized by a wrestler like Hawes, he doesn’t have to worry about that in this fight.

As for a prediction, I have Holland. While I’m not sure what to expect with his takedown defense, I do think he has made a concerted effort to improve it. Enough so that he can stuff the majority of Daukaus’ takedown attempts. On the feet, Holland will have his way with Daukaus. With a five inch reach advantage, Holland will pepper Daukaus at range. While Daukaus has proven to be tough, I do think he will succumb to the damage. So with that said, I predict that Holland wins via TKO.

170 lbs.: Alex Oliveira vs. Niko Price – If you’re into entertaining brawls, then this fight should be right up your alley. Niko Price is a wildman, who abandons defense to go punch-for-punch with his opponents. Since joining the UFC in 2016, Price has won six fights, all via stoppage. In that same span, Price has lost five fights, four of which he was stopped in. He is truly a fighter that lives by the sword and dies by the sword. The same in ways could be said about Alex Oliveira, who seems inclined to entertain the fans. The Brazilian has struggled of late, but his striking and grappling have aided him to an impressive eleven UFC wins.

As for a prediction, I have Niko Price winning. While one may question this, Price is actually pretty durable. His issue hasn’t been his chin, more so than it’s been his porous striking defense and the accumulation of strikes absorbed. On the other hand, Oliveira seems to be handling being hit worse and worse each time out. Perhaps the punishment has caught up with him. In what I expect to be an exciting fight for as long as it lasts, I do predict that Price wins via TKO.

205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Krzysztof Jotko – This is a tough fight to predict. The reason I say that is because it’s unknown exactly what the weight cut will do to Misha Cirkunov. Already a physical specimen, and with a chin issue, there are several red flags that stick out in this foray to Middleweight. However, if the weight cut is done right, Cirkunov’s wrestling and submission abilities could be a real problem at 185 pounds. Krzysztof Jotko is mainly a striker, who is basically a point fighter. With very little power to speak of, Jotko will look to keep distance and pump a constant jab at you. While Jotko has shown some wrestling chops, he sparingly has used it of late.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Jotko. While I’m interested to see what Cirkunov’s size does for him in this division, I’m also interested to see how his chin and cardio hold up. Jotko notably has excellent cardio, good durability and solid takedown defense. All factors which to me sound like a problem for Cirkunov. In the end, I believe Jotko will score a late TKO finish on a tired Cirkunov.

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155 lbs.: Alexander Hernandez vs. Mike Breeden – There is a lot of pressure on Alexander Hernandez in this fight. The way he stormed into the UFC, knocking out the now number three ranked Lightweight Beniel Dariush, to being flat out being mediocre. A loss to debutant Mike Breeden would be a backbreaker in his career, and how the UFC views him. However, Hernandez should be able to win this fight. Breeden, while a good striker, has had some trouble with wrestlers. Hernandez, being mainly a wrestler, should find success there. Another area where Hernandez is going to have success is striking. Breeden has shown signs of poor striking defense, especially against Anthony Romero, who nearly landed six significant strikes per minute on ‘Money’.

As for a prediction, I have Hernandez winning. He is the better overall fighter and with a full training camp, he should be able to impose his will on Breeden for many of the reasons I’ve already pointed out. The one aspect that has hurt Hernandez lately is cardio, but given the pace he sets, it’s expected. Against Breeden, who is stepping in on short notice, he himself could tire before Hernandez. However, I don’t see that coming into play. Instead, I see Hernandez winning via TKO.

UFC Fight Night 193 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):

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155 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Joe Solecki – This should be a very grappling heavy fight, as both men have fancied getting the fight to the mat. Solecki more so profiles as a grappler though, as his striking is used more to set up his takedowns. With eight of his eleven wins coming via submission, Solecki has proven to be very dangerous on the ground. While Gordon is no slouch grappling, he’s not as much of a submission threat. Gordon is more of a workhorse, whether it be on the feet or the ground, his output is always high. That’s partly due to excellent cardio and an overall tough pace to compete with. The one problem that has plagued Gordon, is his durability. In fact, prior to the two-fight win streak, Gordon had been knocked out in three of his last four fights.

As for a prediction, I have Solecki winning. I think being the more natural Lightweight, he should be able to impose his grappling edge on Gordon. Obviously Gordon has shown to be well rounded, but isn’t an expert in any one area. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but against a specialist like Solecki, it could be problematic. The one thing I will say about Gordon, is that he won’t accept bottom position. Whether he’s throwing strikes or attempting to get up, Gordon won’t be allowed to be smothered. Something that Solecki has done to several opponents thus far. In the end though, I do feel that Solecki wins this fight via decision based on takedowns and overall control time.

125 lbs.: Casey O’Neill vs. Antonina Shevchenko – Thus far, Casey O’Neill has shown to be a promising Flyweight prospect. So much that they have called in Antonina Shevchenko, the sister of Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko, to halt the rise of the Aussie. Obviously that’s more a movie plot rather than why this fight was really made. However, it’s an interesting storyline to get behind. Shevchenko is primarily a striker, who is technical and accurate. The problems that have plagued Shevchenko have been the direct result of her iffy takedown defense. In fact, in Schevchenko’s three UFC losses, her opponents were able to take her down three or more times. Something that O’Neill is salivating over, as the well rounded Aussie is averaging 3.47 takedowns per fifteen minutes.

As for a prediction, I have O’Neill winning. At 36 years old, Shevchenko seems to have plateaued as a striker with leaky takedown defense. O’Neill, while young and inexperienced, has been nothing but brilliant. The Aussie should exploit Shevchenko’s weakness rather quickly, and pick up her fifth stoppage victory. Let’s say via submission.

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135 lbs.: Bethe Correia vs. Karol Rosa – With nothing to lose, it’s interesting to see how Bethe Correia approaches this fight. While I don’t believe she has many advantages against Karol Rosa, she does have a weird ability to lure fighters into a sloppy fight. Obviously that isn’t a recipe for success, as evidence by her two wins in the last seven years. However, like most of Correia’s recent fights, this one is stylistically a tough one. Rosa has been evolving fight-to-fight, showing off ridiculous striking output in her first two UFC fights and wrestling in her most recent fight.

As for a prediction, I have Rosa winning. I feel like this is a pretty easy fight to call. At 38 years old, Correia is clearly out of her prime. While she is as tough and game as they come, at this point, that will only aid ‘Pitbull’ in survival more than winning. Rosa is a crisp boxer who throws excellent combinations. While she hasn’t flashed power, her high output has proven to be tough to compete with. In Rosa’s first two UFC fights, she landed a combined 291 significant strikes. You’d have to combine Correia’s last six fights to get that production. In the end, Rosa is going to dominate this fight and pick up her first UFC stoppage victory via TKO.

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155 lbs.: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Devonte Smith – This could be a sleeper for ‘Fight of the Night’. Devonte Smith is a pure striker, who has legitimate knockout power. With quick hand speed and athleticism, Smith has proven that going toe-to-toe with him often leads to your lights being turned out. Jamie Mullarkey might oblige with Smith on the feet, as the well rounded Aussie boasts nine knockout victories. However, Mullarkey has shown to be a strategist at times. Using his wrestling to neutralize strikers and his striking to halt wrestlers. While his first two UFC fights didn’t go his way, the third outing showed what Mullarkey is capable of.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Smith. The hard hitting lightweight is a solid fighter, who with a little more activity, could very well be a contender. Obviously people are going to point to his shocking knockout loss against Khama Worthy as a reason to question his chin or ceiling. However, it was Smith’s first professional defeat to a man who was a former training partner of his. He simply made a mistake and paid for it, which is something that happens in MMA. Nevertheless, I like Smith in this fight. He does a great job working behind his jab, often using it to set up his power shots. Smith also throws at a high output and is very accurate. In what should be a fun fight, I see Mullarkey pressuring Smith and getting countered with a devastating blow. So with that said, I have Smith winning via knockout.

135 lbs.: Gaetano Pirrello vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade – This should be a fun fight for as long as it lasts. Douglas Silva de Andrade is a powerful striker, who is measured. If given distance, Andrade will throw heavy leg kicks. While his power hasn’t translated into knockouts, something could be said about the competition he’s faced thus far. Gaetano Pirrello had a rough foray into the UFC, but the striker never got a chance to show off his standup. The Belgian is aggressive on the feet, often doing his damage inside the clinch with knees and elbows. With eleven knockout victories, Pirrello is no slouch on the feet.

As for a prediction, I have Andrade. The Brazilian has been fed to the wolves in his UFC tenure, faring well in general. At Bantamweight, his size and power translate much better than up ten pounds. In this particular fight, Andrade being the more well rounded fighter, I could very well see him wrestle more than he’s accustomed too. That being due to Pirrello’s aggression and leaky takedown defense. Again though, Andrade isn’t much of a wrestler, but he’s landed a takedown in two of his last three victories. In the end, Andrade is the better overall fighter. While he could take this fight on the feet, I do believe he brings it to the mat. From there, Andrade ground-and-pounds his way to a TKO victory.

135 lbs.: Stephanie Egger vs. Shanna Young – In what could be ticketed as the battle of inactives, it should be interesting to see how both men shake off the rust in this fight. Alejandro Perez is a well rounded fighter, who mainly fancies himself as a striker. While Perez isn’t the most active nor accurate on the feet, he does a good job of picking his spots. Whether it’s attacking the body or chopping opponents down with leg kicks, Perez has often outpointed those who have struck with him. Johnny Eduardo though will oblige on the feet, as the Brazilian is a striker. Even less active on the feet, Eduardo instead loads up on his strikes. Perhaps his go to strike though, is his devastating leg kicks.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Egger. While this is merely a coin flip of a fight, I do liken Egger’s background of Judo. In what should be a fight that has a lot of grappling, I believe Egger has more ways to get this fight to the mat. From there, she does a good job of being composed and looking to finish her opponent. However, I don’t see a finish coming here. Instead, I believe Egger edges out Young via split decision.

135 lbs.: Johnny Eduardo vs. Alejandro Perez – This is a tough fight to call, with the odds indicating such. Both women fell short in their UFC debuts, albeit against tough opponents. Shanna Young is a wrestler, who has some good striking, highlighted by hand speed. Having fought the likes of Pam Sorenson, Sarah Alpar, Miranda Maverick and Macy Chiasson, Young has already taken on some good competition in her young career. Stephanie Egger can’t say the same in MMA, but the highly praised Judoka split with Ronda Rousey in their two Judo matches. Egger isn’t particularly a striker, often using to close the distance. From there, Egger likes to get the body lock, which she will use to get the fight to the mat. With decent ground-and-pound and submission abilities, Egger has finished her opponents in four of her five wins.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Perez. I find it tough to believe that at 43 years old and over three years since his last fight, Eduardo is going to look all that well. Even before the layoff, Eduardo had been stopped in three of his last four fights. Durability isn’t something the Brazilian has exactly been known for, as he’s been finished in ten of his twelve professional fights. While Perez isn’t exactly a finisher, I do believe that father time will aid him in this fight. So with that, give me Perez to win via TKO.

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