UFC 272 Main Card:Embed from Getty Images
170 lbs.: Colby Covington vs. Jorge Masvidal – The main event of the evening comes in the Welterweight division, as former friends and training partners Colby “Chaos” Covington and Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal collide. In a feud that has boiled for years, finally will see an outcome. Coming off a defeat to Kamaru Usman in a tightly contested title fight, Covington will seek to clear out those under him and force the UFC to grant him a third crack at the champ. Checking in at number one in the Welterweight division, it’s apparent that in another lifetime without Usman in the picture, Covington would reign as Champion. Meanwhile, Masvidal comes into this fight off back-to-back title defeats to Usman. The last of which came via knockout, a first for Masvidal since 2008. However, Masvidal has a huge opportunity to get back on the snide, defeat a bitter rival and climb up the rankings.
As for a prediction, I have Covington winning. While Masvidal could present issues for Covington on the feet, it’s unlikely that he will dominate that aspect. Throw in Covington’s excellent wrestling abilities and I have a hard time seeing Masvidal being able to withstand “Chaos”. In the two fights against Usman, Masvidal was taken down six times and controlled for eighteen of the thirty-one minutes they fought for. Something in which likely plays out the same in this fight. And make no mistake, Masvidal is a complete fighter with good takedown defense and underrated wrestling abilities. However, there are fighters with styles that make you appear to look foolish in those departments. Covington happens to be one of those fights. So with that said, I predict that Covington will win via decision.Embed from Getty Images
160 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Renato Moicano – The co-main event of the evening comes at a Catchweight of 160 pounds, as the former Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos takes on Renato Moicano. Originally, dos Anjos was set to take on Rafael Fiziev. Unfortunately Fiziev got COVID and was forced out of the bout. Scrambling for a last second opponent, Moicano stepped up on four days notice. A winner of two straight, both of which came via submission, Moicano is coming into this opportunity with excellent momentum. Meanwhile, dos Anjos will return to the octagon for the first time since November of 2020. Plagued by injuries and cancellations, dos Anjos has failed to build off his victory over Paul Felder. However, with Moicano stepping up, dos Anjos will finally get to shake off that rust.
As for a prediction, I have RDA winning. While I commend Moicano for stepping up, this just feels like a tough task to overcome. Not knowing what his conditioning or how much weight he needed to cut to get to the 160 mark, it’s hard to lean on his side in what should be a grueling fight. One in which RDA excels in. A well rounded talent, RDA brings a blend of striking and grappling to go along with an endless gas tank. Known to push a hard pace and bring forth pressure, RDA has a tendency of breaking opponents. Something will happen in this fight, unless Moicano can get into an advantageous position to set up a submission. Given RDA has been submitted once in forty-three professional fights, I find that unlikely. So with that said, I predict that RDA will win via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Bryce Mitchell – The Featherweight division features a ranked battled between Edson “Junior” Barboza and Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell. Coming off a tough defeat to Giga Chikadze, Barboza will look to redeem himself. Checking in at tenth in the Featherweight division, Barboza isn’t far off from getting back into the title picture. A win here, would surely help his cause. Meanwhile, Mitchell will step back in the octagon for the first time since October of 2020. A perfect 14-0 and ranked eleventh in the Featherweight division, Mitchell has a huge opportunity here to add the biggest name he’s fought to date on the resume.
As for a prediction, I have Barboza winning. Despite faltering in his last fight, Barboza has looked rather sharp since dropping down to 145 pounds. With one of the more dynamic striking in the UFC, Barboza is a handful on the feet. However, Mitchell isn’t going to trade shots with Barboza. He’s going to look to get this fight to the mat and use his grappling expertise to style on Barboza. Given Barboza has had fits with wrestlers and grapplers, I believe that Mitchell will have some success. But, as this fight wanes, Mitchell’s lengthy absence and cardio will begin to fade. So much so that, Barboza will land a clipping blow and finish the Arkansas native via TKO.
170 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Alex Oliveira – We have a scrap in the Welterweight division, as Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland takes on Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira. Dropping down to the Welterweight division for the first time since 2017, Holland will attempt to rejuvenate his career. One in which has seen high’s and low’s. At a current low, Holland has seen his last three fights result in two losses and a no contest. Meanwhile, Oliveira comes into this contest seemingly on his last stand. A loser of three straight and six of his last eight, it appears that the Brazilian is getting long in the tooth. However, Oliveira has a chance here to push aside those notions.
As for a prediction, I have Holland winning. Despite his recent struggles, that are mostly attributed due to his defensive wrestling abilities and lack of size at 185 pounds, Holland should find more success at 170 pounds. While I expect this fight to be chaotic and fun, I don’t think that Oliveira can withstand the pace that Holland is going to push on him. With excellent striking and a good gas tank, Holland is going to pick apart and wear down Oliveira. Eventually, Oliveira will crumble like he has done in two of his last three fights. So with that said, I predict that Holland wins via submission.
265 lbs.: Greg Hardy vs. Serghei Spivak – We have a Heavyweight showdown to open the main card, as Serghei “Polar Bear” Spivak takes on Greg “The Prince of War” Hardy. Coming off a devastating knockout defeat, in which halted a three-fight win streak, Spivak will look to rebound in short order. No longer ranked in the top fifteen, Spivak will try to use Hardy as a springboard back into the rankings. Meanwhile, Hardy comes into this contest on the ropes. A loser of two straight by knockout, Hardy’s tenure in the UFC could come down to this fight. Previous to the losing streak, Hardy had won two fights in a row.
As for a prediction, I have Hardy winning. While this prediction can completely backfire due to Hardy’s limited gas tank and grappling, Spivak just seems susceptible to being knocked out on the feet. The way Spivak wins, is by implementing his wrestling and grappling. Something which I suspect he will go straight for. However, Hardy has shown to have good takedown defense and as long as it holds up, it’s only a matter of time before he cracks Spivak on the feet. So with that said, I predict that Hardy will win via knockout.
UFC 272 ESPN/ESPN+ Late ‘Prelims’:Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Jalin Turner vs. Jamie Mullarkey – The preliminary headliner comes in the Lightweight division, as Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner takes on Jamie Mullarkey. A winner of three straight, Turner looks like a different man that started out his UFC tenure 2-2. With excellent size for division and a 100% finishing rate, Turner can be a scary man to be across from inside the octagon. Meanwhile, Mullarkey comes into this fight off back-to-back knockout victories. Something in which has catapulted his stock a hell of lot higher than his 0-2 start in the UFC had him.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Mullarkey. While Turner presents issues with his size, knack for finishing fights and striking, Mullarkey is a gritty dog that can weather any storm. I expect this fight to be chaotic and perhaps see both fighters get stunned, but it’s the chin and durability of Mullarkey that’s going to aid him in outlasting Turner. Equipped with wrestling chops, don’t be surprised to see Mullarkey mix in some takedowns should things get dicey. Lastly, having faced two straight taller and rangy fighters, Mullarkey isn’t going to be surprised by much. So with that said, I predict that Mullarkey gets it done via late submission.Embed from Getty Images
115 lbs.: Marina Rodriguez vs. Yan Xiaonan – In the Women’s Strawweight division, we have a pivotal battle between Marina Rodriguez and Yan “Nine” Xiaonan. Coming into this contest with three straight wins, Rodriguez is nearing a title shot. One in which is deserving, but may come with some time off, as Carla Esparza has been promised the next title shot. Meanwhile, Xiaonan will look to rebound from not only her first loss in the UFC, but since 2011. Still right there in the title picture, Xiaonan has a good chance to bolster her case with a win over the third ranked Strawweight Rodriguez.
As for a prediction, I have Rodriguez winning. While Xiaonan is a formidable opponent and a talented striker, Rodriguez is just as good on the feet and has a clear power edge. One in which should disrupt Xiaonan on the feet, slowing her pace and willingness to throw with volume. Given Xiaonan has little wrestling chops, her route to winning narrows. Especially given wrestling has oft been problematic to Rodriguez. So with the Brazilian being able to be comfortable on the feet and seeing how Xiaonan was stopped in her last fight, it’s not unfeasible to believe Rodriguez can’t also get the job done. In fact, I believe she will. So with that said, I predict that Rodriguez will win via knockout.
205 lbs.: Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Nick Negumereanu – We have an intriguing fight in the Light Heavyweight division, as Nicolae “Nicu” Negumereanu takes on Kennedy “African Savage” Nzechukwu. Since dropping his UFC debut, which also happened to be his first professional loss, Negumereanu has righted the ship. A winner of two straight, the most recent being a knockout victory over Ike Villanueva, Negumereanu is closing in on cracking the divisions top fifteen. Meanwhile, Nzechukwu steps into this fight on short notice, looking to bounce back from his recent knockout defeat to Da Un Jung. Previous to the loss, Nzechukwu had won three fights in a row.
As for a prediction, I have Nzechukwu winning. Despite being stopped in his last fight, Nzechukwu has the tangibles to make this a tough night for Negumereanu. For one, Nzechukwu has excellent takedown defense. In five fights, he has stuffed 31 of the 38 takedown attempts. Second and perhaps the most important, Nzechukwu is the better striker. Landing nearly two more significant strikes per minute, at a slightly higher accuracy and with a five inch height and reach advantage, Nzechukwu should have his way on the feet. Throw in Nzechukwu’s power edge and the fact that Negumereanu is not only absorbing 5.72 significant strikes per minute, but has a striking defense of 29%, and I don’t see this going well for “Nicu”. So with that said, I predict that Nzechukwu wins via knockout.
125 lbs.: Mariya Agapova vs. Maryna Moroz – We have ourselves an exciting scrap in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Maryna “Iron Lady” Moroz takes on Mariya “Demonslayer” Agapova. Coming into this bout a winner of two straight, Moroz is starting to look like prospect that burst into the UFC in 2015. If Moroz can stay healthy, and that’s a huge if, there is a good chance that she may be a contender in 2023. Meanwhile, Agapova is coming off an incredible performance over Sabina Mazo. One in which she not only displayed crisp and powerful striking, but pushed aside the demon that was the shocking defeat to Shana Dobson the previous fight. With the past, well in the past, Agapova will look to prove that she is a potential force to be reckon with.
As for a prediction, I have Moroz squeaking this one out. While Agapova showed vast improvements in her last fight, and has the abilities to be a disruptive brute in the Flyweight division, she lacks the necessary takedown defense to make a true run. Moroz may not be the best wrestler, but in her last two fights, she has landed three takedowns and accumulated a little more than eleven and a half minutes of control. In a straight striking match, Moroz may not be able to withstand the volume, technique and power of Agapova. However, in a mixed martial arts fight, Moroz will be able to mix her striking and wrestling to edge out a close one via decision.
UFC 272 ESPN+ Early ‘Prelims’:Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Umar Nurmagomedov – We have a showdown in the Featherweight division, as Brian “Boom” Kelleher takes on Umar Nurmagomedov. A winner of two-straight and three of his last four, Kelleher heads into this bout with excellent momentum. While Kelleher has notably fought most his bouts in the Bantamweight division, it appears that Featherweight may be his new home. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov comes into this fight a perfect 13-0. Having successfully debuted in January of last year, with a submission victory over Sergey Morozov, Nurmagomedov will look to continue his dominance. One in which, has been associated with his cousin, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
As for a prediction, I have Nurmagomedov winning. While Kelleher has shown off his wrestling of late, he’s going to need his takedown defense and patented guillotine to keep Nurmagomedov off him. Something which I don’t believe Kelleher will be able to do. With a 60% takedown defense, and having been taken six times in a loss to Ricky Simon, there is little reason not to expect Nurmagomedov to achieve similar results. In his debut, he scored five takedowns and nearly three minutes of control before sinking in a fight ending submission in round two. A likewise result that I’m predicting here, as Nurmagomedov gets it done via submission.
125 lbs.: Tim Elliott vs. Tagir Ulanbekov – We have a pivotal fight in the Flyweight division, as Tim Elliott takes on Tagir Ulanbekov. A stalwart in the Flyweight division, Elliott will look to shake off a recent defeat Matheus Nicolau. Previous to the loss, Elliott had rattled off two straight wins. Something in which he has failed to do since 2012-2013. Meanwhile, Ulanbekov comes into to contest a winner of five straight, two of which have come inside the octagon. While Ulanbekov hasn’t exactly lit up the octagon in his two appearances, he’s done enough to crack the Flyweight division’s top fifteen.
As for a prediction, I have Elliott winning. While I expect Ulanbekov to look to implement a heavy wrestling approach, and probably succeed most of the time, Elliott has never been one to accept bottom position. With an excellent ability to scramble, Elliott can create havoc for grapplers. The one issue that has plagued Elliott, is his ability to put himself in disadvantageous positions. Given Ulanbekov has half his wins coming via submission, it would be wise to avoid this. However, besides Elliott’s ability to get up from bottom, he boast excellent cardio and a pace that can break fighters. If he can manage to wear down Ulanbekov and keep it standing for the majority of the round, he should able to sway the judges on striking alone. So with that said, I predict Elliott will win this fight via decision.
155 lbs.: Devonte Smith vs. Ludovit Klein – We have ourselves a scrap in the Lightweight division, as Devonte “King Kage” Smith takes on Ludovit “Mr. Highlight” Klein. Coming off a tough loss to Jamie Mullarkey and having seen the luster from his hot start fade, Smith will look to get back on track. A loser of two of his last three fights, Smith enters a dangerous territory in his UFC career. Meanwhile, Klein is stepping into this fight on short notice. A loser of two straight, Klein puts himself in a risky proposition. Should he not come out on top, it could be the end of his tenure in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Smith winning. While he hasn’t fared well of late, he holds several advantages that should tip this fight in his favor. For one, he’s got a size advantage. Klein is coming up from Featherweight and will have to overcome a two inch height and four inch reach disadvantage. Another advantage Smith has, is that between his size and takedown defense, Klein will struggle to wrestle. Klein being a talented striker, has taken to wrestling to neutralize pure strikers. However, I don’t see Klein being able to get this fight to the mat. Lastly, Smith is a higher output striker with legitimate knockout power. Averaging nearly two more significant strikes per minute and with a 91% knockout rate, Smith is a dangerous man on the feet. So with all that said, I predict that Smith will bounce back here, winning via knockout.
205 lbs.: Dustin Jacoby vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk – The Curtain Jerker comes in the Light Heavyweight division, as Dustin “The Hanyak” Jacoby takes on Michal “Hussar” Oleksiejczuk. Since returning to mixed martial arts in 2019, Jacoby has won six of seven fights. The lone fight he didn’t win was a draw. Making the most of his second stint in the UFC, Jacoby is perhaps a win away from cracking the top fifteen rankings. Meanwhile, Oleksiejczuk has found his stride of late. A winner of two-straight and arguably coming off his best performance inside the octagon, where he stopped the undefeated Shamil Gamzatov in the opening round, Oleksiejczuk finds himself in a fight with big implications.
As for a prediction, I have Jacoby winning. While Oleksiejczuk is coming off a huge win, he’s been inconsistent in UFC career. Prior to the two-fight winning streak, Oleksiejczuk had lost two straight fights via submission. In those fights, the competition was better, but Oleksiejczuk showed a vulnerability in his takedown defense. Luckily for the Pole, Jacoby fancies himself a striker. An excellent one at that, as Jacoby comes from a kickboxing background. With an ability to light up opponents with volume and a focus on chopping down opponents with leg kicks, Jacoby isn’t an easy fighter to stand across. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s durable and has excellent cardio. So with all that said, I predict that Jacoby will outpoint Oleksiejczuk en route to a decision victory.