UFC Vegas 49 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green – In the Main Event of the evening, we have ourselves a pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, as Islam Makhachev takes on Bobby “King” Green. Originally, Makhachev was slated to take on Beneil Dariush in what was essentially a number one contender’s fight. Unfortunately, Dariush was forced out of the fight with an ankle injury. In stepped Green, a veteran of the game and whom had just fought on February 12th at UFC 271. While the fight itself isn’t the same, Green brings forth an attitude and skillset that certainly can disrupt the Lightweight division.
Ever since being knocked out by Adriano Martins in 2015, Makhachev has gone on a tear. Winning nine straight fights, five of which have come inside the distance. Perhaps his most recent victory over Dan Hooker was his most impressive to date. A fight that lasted only 145 seconds, as Makhachev seamlessly got the fight to the mat and submitted Hooker. With excellent wrestling, landing takedown’s at a 66% clip, Makhachev is a walking nightmare for anyone in the division. Green will look to put a halt to that notion, as the 42-fight veteran has seen everything there is about this game. On a bit of a tear, Green has won two straight and five of his last seven. Realistically though, Green could be on a longer streak had several close fights gone his way.
As for a prediction, I have Makhachev winning. While Green is an excellent fighter and has a skillset that can give opponents fits in a five round fight, he’s in a tough spot in this fight. Makhachev is a wrestling phenom, who thus far, hasn’t had difficulties getting the fight to ground. Even though Green has a wrestling background, he’s been taken several times by lesser wrestlers in Lando Vannata, Clay Guida and Thiago Moises. Not one of them though managed to hold Green down for long though, so credit to him there. However, Makhachev is leaps and bounds above any of those guys. The one thing that you give an edge to Green is his striking. It’s far and away better than Makhachev’s. If Green can somehow drag the fight into deeper waters, it’s possible he potentially rally late. However, he’s only won ten of his twenty-nine victories by knockout. Not saying he lacks power, but he’s a high output technical boxer, who feasts off turning opponents into punching bags. Regardless, I don’t think much striking takes place. I foresee Makhachev getting the fight to the ground and once again, winning via submission.
185 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Wellington Turman – The Co-Main event of the evening comes in the Middleweight division, as Misha Cirkunov takes on Wellington “The Prodigy” Turman. An imposing figure at Light Heavyweight, Cirkunov’s last fight saw him drop down to Middleweight. While Cirkunov would lose via split decision, the positive to takeaway from the fight was that he went the full fifteen minutes. Something Cirkunov has never done in his previous six defeats. Meanwhile, Turman is coming off a split decision victory over Sam Alvey. A much needed victory, as Turman had lost his previous two. In a big spot on the main card, Turman has a chance to prove he belongs on the big stage.
As for a prediction, I have Cirkunov winning. While this fight has crapshoot written all over it, I suppose the reason I’m backing Cirkunov is due to his strength and wrestling. His chin and durability are certainly not trustworthy, but nor is Turman’s. Literally, the first clean punch landed by either man might end this fight. However, I don’t believe Cirkunov will wait and fight that out. I expect him to look to get this fight to mat early. Something which Turman hasn’t allowed yet, warding off all four takedown attempts against him. Although, only one of those was against a wrestler in Andrew Sanchez. Who knocked Turman out in round one. In other words, I don’t think he’s really been tested.
Another reason why I’m backing Cirkunov here, is that Turman hasn’t won a fight without needing to implement his wrestling. Meaning, a straight striking match isn’t something that he’s comfortable with. Not that Cirkunov is either, but an interesting tidbit. Regardless, this could end in so many ways, but I’m predicting that Cirkunov gets an early takedown and wins via TKO.
115 lbs.: Ji Yeon Kim vs. Priscila Cachoeira – In the Women’s Flyweight division, we have a showdown between Priscila “Zombie Girl” Cachoeira vs. Ji Yeon “Fire Fist” Kim. Coming off a disappointing submission defeat to Gillian Robertson, Cachoeira will look to rebound. Previous to the loss, Cachoeira had won two straight fights via knockout. Known for her willingness to brawl, Cachoeira is one of the more entertaining Flyweight’s on the roster. Meanwhile, Kim will look to put a halt to a two-fight losing streak. Having had a hard time finding consistency, Kim urgently needs to get on track. A loss here could spell the end of her time in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Kim winning. While this fight is flying under the radar, I for one, think it’s going to be an entertaining contest. Both these women are pure strikers, having never completed a takedown thus far in the UFC. Cachoeira has won six of her ten victories via knockout, while Kim has won five of her nine victories via stoppage. The reason I’m siding with Kim, is that she does an excellent job being technical and active on the feet. With a seven inch reach advantage in this fight, Kim’s already mean jab, is going to be a useful weapon in keeping Cachoeira at bay. An opponent, who has one of the most porous striking defenses in the UFC. Absorbing nearly seven significant strikes per minute, at a 60% clip, Cachoeira is brawler with little sense in getting out of the way. Despite only notching one knockout victory in the UFC, Kim has some power in her hands. In this fight, it’s going to show. So with that said, I predict Kim will win via knockout.Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Joel Alvarez vs. Arman Tsarukyan – We have a pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, as Arman “Ahalkalakets” Tsarukyan takes on Joel “El Fenomeno” Alvarez. Since falling short in his UFC debut against Islam Makhachev, Tsarukyan has been on a tear. A winner of four consecutive fights, Tsarukyan finds himself inside the top fifteen of a stacked Lightweight division. At 25 years of age and coming off his first stoppage victory in the UFC, Tsarukyan is evolving into a future contender. Meanwhile, much like Tsarukyan, Alvarez lost his debut and has won four in a row. However, Alvarez has won all four of those fights inside the distance. In fact, all nineteen of his victories have come via stoppage.
As for a prediction, I have Alvarez winning. Despite being a moderate underdog in this fight, Alvarez is stylistically a nightmare matchup for anyone. With ridiculous size for the Lightweight division to go along with evolving striking and perhaps one of the most dangerous ground games in the UFC, Alvarez is undoubtedly a future contender. While Tsarukyan is talented in his own right, and is going to be a staple in the division, this feels like a tougher fight for him than the oddsmaker’s are making it seem. Tsarukyan is well rounded, but prefers to take his opponents down and control them. An area where he will need to avoid, unless he dares flirt with Alvarez’s ground game. One in which has claimed sixteen victims via submission. On the feet, Alvarez is a better boxer, with excellent length, power and output. The one concern for Alvarez may be defensively, as he hasn’t been the most sound in that area. However, Tsarukyan isn’t that big of a threat on the feet, lacking legitimate knockout power. In fact, in nineteen victories, Tsarukyan has only won six via knockout. So with all that said, I predict that Alvarez wins via submission.Embed from Getty Images
185 lbs.: Gregory Rodrigues vs. Armen Petrosyan – We ourselves an exciting fight to open the main card, as Gregory “Robocop” Rodrigues takes on debutant Armen “Superman” Petrosyan. A winner of four straight, two of which have come inside the octagon, Rodrigues heads into his third UFC appearance with momentum. A known finisher, Rodrigues has won nine of his eleven fights via stoppage. Meanwhile, Petrosyan comes into his UFC debut, a winner of two straight fights via knockout. The most recent fight came on Dana White’s Contender Series. Like his previous five wins, Petrosyan won by knockout. Thus earning a contract and shot in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Rodrigues winning. While Petrosyan is an excellent kickboxer and has transitioned into mixed martial arts fairly smoothly, he lacks the necessary takedown defense to succeed at this level. Especially in a fight against Rodrigues. An eight-time national BJJ champion, who may come off as a striker, but is deadly on the ground. With five takedowns in his last two fights, I’m fairly confident that Rodrigues will be able to get this fight to mat fairly easily. From there, he should lock in a fight ending submission.
UFC Vegas 49 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Rong Zhu – We have ourselves a scrap in the Lightweight division, as Ignacio “La Juala” Bahamondes takes on Rong Zhu. Coming off a spectacular performance, capped by an unreal wheel kick knockout with five seconds left in the fight, Bahamondes will grace the octagon with some newfound fuzz behind him. A winner of two of his last three fights, Bahamondes will look to continue on the success of his first UFC victory. Meanwhile, Zhu too comes into this fight off his first UFC victory. While not as spectacular as Bahamondes knockout was, Zhu showcased his well rounded abilities in a dominant stoppage victory over Brandon Jenkins. At 21 years of age with twenty-fights under his belt, Zhu brings a rare blend of experience and youth to the table.
As for a prediction, I have Bahamondes winning. While Zhu has legitimate potential, I believe this is stylistically a tough fight for him. Bahamondes is a dynamic striker, who brings forth excellent output. With nine of his twelve victories coming via knockout, Bahamondes isn’t someone you want to stand across from. Zhu though is a good striker, who has implemented a heavy wrestling attack in his two UFC fights thus far. In fact, he has landed nine takedowns in that span. Given Bahamondes takedown defense has held up thus far, it remains to be seen if Zhu can get him to the mat. If so, then this fight could swing towards Zhu. If not, like I believe, then Bahamondes’ diverse attack and output (7.56 significant strikes per minute) should carry him to a decision victory.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Josiane Nunes vs. Ramona Pascual – In the Women’s Bantamweight division, we have an intriguing fight between Josiane “Josi” Nunes and newcomer Ramona Pascual. Coming off a spectacular knockout victory in her debut, Nunes will step back into the octagon for an encore. A winner of seven straight, six of which have come via knockout, Nunes brings forth a winning pedigree backed by legitimate power. Meanwhile, Pascual steps into her UFC debut on short notice. Currently riding a four fight win streak, with her last fight being under the Invicta FC banner, Pascual will attempt to pull of the upset. With five of her six victories coming via stoppage, Pascual isn’t one to let the judges decide her fate.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Nunes winning. While I credit Pascual for stepping up, I believe she’s in for a rough night. Optically, her record and finishing abilities look all well and dandy. Then when you dive in, you find out that her six wins come against opponents with a combined 6-7 record. On top of that, three victories came against fighters making their professional debuts, while two were against fighters with losing records. Only once has Pascual beaten a fighter with a winning record. A fighter with a pretty novice 2-0 record. Not to harp on her record, but Pascual has lost both her fights via stoppage to mediocre opponents. Given all this, and the fact that Nunes has starched three undefeated fighters in a row via knockout, I don’t see any way Pascual come out on top. So with that said, I predict Nunes gets it done via knockout in round one.Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam – In the Lightweight division, we have a clash between Terrance “T.Wrecks” McKinney and Fares “Smile Killer” Ziam. After a sensational UFC debut, in which came on short notice and ended in a seven second knockout victory, McKinney returns to the octagon with high expectations. Known for his power, McKinney has won four straight fights via knockout in the opening round. In fact, in those four fights, McKinney spent a total of 112 seconds in the cage. Meanwhile, Ziam comes into this fight on a two-fight win streak. Most recently, Ziam defeated Luigi Vendramini by majority decision. A fight that Ziam outpointed Vendramini for two rounds, and then survived a mauling in round three to hold on for his second UFC victory.
This should be an interesting fight, and one that should last more than the seven seconds McKinney’s debut lasted. A well rounded fighter, McKinney has more often than not, been getting the job done via his hands. With four consecutive knockouts, three of which have lasted seventeen seconds or less, McKinney is becoming a feared man to stand across from. However, Ziam is a tough challenge. Not only is he defensively sound, but a patient striker. Landing a mere 2.13 significant strikes per minute, Ziam takes his time and looks to pick apart opponents from distance. The one problem Ziam has shown vulnerability to, is being taken down. Given McKinney has some wrestling chops, it will be interesting to see if he mixes in some takedowns with his striking.
As for a prediction, I have McKinney winning. While Ziam has done a good job outpointing foes, his low output isn’t exactly a great quality. Having little to no urgency, and lacking the volume necessary to discourage opponents, Ziam is a ticking time bomb to be beaten. Throw in his iffy takedown defense and I feel there are several ways for McKinney to win. As long as McKinney doesn’t get too wild on the feet or gas himself out, I believe he will get the job done. So with all that said, I predict that McKinney wins via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
115 lbs.: Hannah Goldy vs. Jinh Yu Frey – In the Women’s Strawweight division, we have a clash between Jinh Yu Frey and Hannah “24k” Goldy. Since dropping her first two UFC fights, Frey has quietly strung together two straight wins. Most recently, Frey defeated UFC veteran Ashley Yoder. A fight that was close, but saw Frey showcase excellent takedown defense and striking en route to a decision victory. Meanwhile, Goldy comes into this contest off a submission victory over Emily Whitmire. Having dropped her previous two UFC fights, the third time was certainly the charm. With the proverbial monkey off her back, perhaps Goldy now can settle in.
As for a prediction, I have Frey winning. While I anticipate this fight to be close regardless, and it may even result in a split decision, I favor Frey’s skillset in this matchup. Frey has shown to be a patient technical striker with excellent takedown defense and good grappling skills. However, her low output can be problematic at times. In Frey’s last fight though, she landed 88 significant strikes. Twelve more than she had in her previous three fights combined. Needing to avoid being hesitant, Frey will have to neutralize Goldy. An active striker, who is landing a solid 4.57 significant strikes per minutes. The thing that makes Goldy dangerous is her ability to string together combinations and mix it up on the feet. Coming into the UFC, Goldy was known to have excellent takedown. Her most recent fight showed otherwise, as Emily Whitmire was able to crack that notion by taking Goldy down twice via an outside leg trip. A blueprint that I see Frey utilizing. With solid grappling skills, and a smothering top control, Frey isn’t one to fret holding top position for entire rounds. In other words, doing what it takes to win. So with all that said, I predict that Frey will win via decision.
135 lbs.: Alejandro Perez vs. Jonathan Martinez – We got ourselves an intriguing fight in the Bantamweight division, as Alejandro “Turbo” Perez takes on Jonathan “Dragon” Martinez. Coming off an excellent armbar victory over Johnny Eduardo, Perez will look to capture his second victory in four months. Having debuted in the UFC in 2014, Perez has sneakily accumulated an impressive 8-3-1 record in twelve fights. If Perez could stay healthy, he could be a factor in the Bantamweight division. Meanwhile, Martinez rebounded nicely from a knockout defeat to Davey Grant, defeating the undefeated Zviad Lazishvili by decision. A fight where his takedown defense, striking and cardio were all sharp.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Martinez winning. In a fight that will largely take place on the feet, Martinez not only has more firepower, but is the more active of the two. While Perez has shown glimpses of being a finisher, his approach is more defensively sound than it offensively. Landing a mere 3.45 significant strikes per minute, with an accuracy of 35%, Perez lacks the necessary offense to take out higher caliber opponents. Not to say Martinez is necessarily higher caliber, but he presents several issues on the feet for Perez. A more active and accurate striker, Martinez does an excellent job blending leg strikes into his attack. Known to have power, Martinez, at least in the UFC, has shown a real propensity to implement knee strikes. In fact, two knockout victories are directly attributed to a knee strike. With good cardio and takedown defense to along with his striking, Martinez can be a handful on the feet. Especially in this fight. So with that said, I predict that Martinez wins via decision.Embed from Getty Images
170 lbs.: Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Micheal Gillmore – In the Welterweight division, we have a showdown between Ramiz Brahimaj and Michael “The Gentleman” Gillmore. Having traded wins and losses for the past eight fights, Brahimaj has struggled to find consistency. If there is any solace, having lost his most recent fight, means he’s due for a win. A known finisher, Brahimaj has won all nine of his fights via submission. Meanwhile, Gillmore will look to move past his unsuccessful UFC debut. A fight in which he struggled to keep standing. Problematic, especially considering Gillmore’s strength lies within his striking.
As for a prediction, I have Brahimaj winning. While his striking is far from polished, his strength of wrestling and grappling is what’s going to carry him in this fight. Gillmore, a striker, has always been plagued by his inability to avoid being taken down. That and being submitted, which have been the result in three of his four defeats. Although there were moments of improvement against Andre Petroski, Gillmore was still taken down four times and controlled on the mat for nearly eight minutes. A blueprint that I expect Brahimaj to follow. That being said, if Brahimaj fails to get this to mat or has any issues, the advantage would swing to Gillmore. However, until Gillmore can prove he can keep the fight standing, I can’t see that scenario come to fruition. So with that said, I predict that Brahimaj wins via submission.
125 lbs.: Victor Altamirano vs. Carlos Hernandez – In the Flyweight division, we have a battle between debutants Victor “El Magnifico” Altamirano and Carlos Hernandez. A winner of four straight, including most recently a split decision victory on Dana White’s Contender Series, Altamirano will seek to prove he belong on the biggest stage. With four of his ten wins coming via submission, Altamirano is a threat anytime the fight hits the mat. Meanwhile, fellow debutant and alum of Dana White’s Contender Series, Hernandez, will look to extend his win streak to eight. With four submission victories, three by Rear-Naked Choke, it would be wise to avoid Hernandez on your back at all cost.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Altamirano. When looking at tape of both fighters, I actually really liked what I saw from Hernandez. He looks to be a solid striker, with good technique and cardio. Even his wrestling, offensive grappling and submissions look excellent. The one thing that has worried me is his iffy takedown defense and his level of competition. Before edging out Daniel Barez (12-4) via split decision, Hernandez had faced seven opponents with a combined record of 9-5. Not exactly stellar competition. Especially when you look at Altamirano’s resume, whom in his last six fights alone, has faced opponents with a combined 51-12 record. With vast experience and a well rounded game, which is highlighted by his submissions and cardio, I foresee Altamirano being a good addition to the Flyweight division. While ultimately I believe this fight is close, it’s the experience that will lead Altamirano to a decision victory.