UFC 275 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
205 lbs.: UFC Light Heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka – The Main-event comes in the Light Heavyweight division, as the Champion Glover Teixeira makes his first title defense against challenger Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka. An unlikely Championship run, Teixeira at 42 years young, became the oldest first time Champion in UFC history. Having won six straight, Teixeira clearly hasn’t met father time. Meanwhile, Prochazka comes into this fight on a twelve-fight win streak. With only two of those wins coming inside the distance, Prochazka has certainly caught the attention of the UFC to be granted this title shot. One that I personally am fine with.
Debuting in 2012, at 32 years old, Teixeira quickly made him presence known and challenged Jon Jones for the title in 2014. Unsuccessful, Teixeira would be a perennial top contender, who just couldn’t win the important fight to get himself back in position to via another title shot. Thinking his prime may have been wasted due to a visa issue, Teixeira would do the unthinkable. With gas left in the tank and the perfect storm of Jon Jones vacating the title, Teixeira would rattle off five straight wins and challenge for the title. A successful challenge at that, as Teixeira submitted Jan Blachowicz to become the oldest first time Champion in UFC history at 42. A well rounded fighter, Teixeira can be described as a boxer who has excellent wrestling, grappling and submission abilities. Having largely banked on taking opponents down during this streak, Teixeira has stopped five opponents – four of which came via submission.
Despite being out for over a year, Prochazka shouldn’t be hampered by any rust. A frantic fighter, who looks to blitzkrieg opponents, Prochazka is a scary opponent to face. While he does leave openings to get cracked, more often than not, he’s the one who has done the cracking. Backed by twenty-five knockout victories, twenty of which came in round one, Prochazka game is pretty simple – knock my opponent out early. With a clear speed advantage and athleticism, there is a chance that Prochazka looks like Sonic out there with Teixeira.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Teixeira. Despite being at a slight height and size disadvantage, as well as lacking the speed, athleticism and striking output that Prochazka brings forth, Teixeira has proven that all he needs is one takedown to change the complexation of a fight. Given Prochazka came into the UFC with some takedown defense concerns, and has been rather untested in that department in two fights inside the octagon, I feel like Teixeira can absolutely capitalize on that. Having endured punishment in several fights during this winning streak, I’m not saying Teixeira can afford to eat shots, but he has proven that he can overcome trouble and get the fight to mat. So with all that said, give me the 42 year old Teixeira to win via submission.Embed from Getty Images
125 lbs.: UFC Women’s Flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos – The Co-Main event comes in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Champion Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko makes her seventh title defense against challenger Taila Santos. A dominant force, Shevchenko has largely cleared out the Flyweight division. With eight straight wins, and little to no resistance, the Bullet may be looking to challenge for the Bantamweight title after this fight. Meanwhile, Santos comes into this fight on a four-fight win streak. Having taken out several top fifteen foes along the way, the Brazilian appears to be up to the task of challenging for the belt.
No disrespect to Santos, as she is one of the stiffer test Shevchenko will have faced in the Flyweight division, but ain’t no one beating the Kyrgyzstan Hit Woman. Currently the number one women’s pound for pound fighter, in my eyes at least, Shevchenko is simply on another level. A complete fighter, Shevchenko is mainly a striker who is simply put, calculated and dynamic. With immense physical strength and cardio for days, the Champion isn’t someone that can be bullied or fades during fights. Add excellent wrestling and grappling, and it’s hard not to find anything but strength’s in Shevchenko’s game.
Trying not be completely dismal of Santos, the Brazilian has a well crafted game herself. A powerful striker with debilitating leg kicks, Santos has proven to be a real problem on the feet. Recording three knockdowns in the last two fights, Santos certainly has a puncher’s chance to cause a disruption in this fight. With strength and wrestling as well, Santos has shown that she can get her foes to the mat – landing thirteen takedowns in six fights inside the octagon.
As for a prediction, if there was any doubt, I have Shevchenko. She’s leaps and bounds above the rest and until she finally goes up to challenge for the Bantamweight title, I can’t see her facing any resistance at this time. If I were to be honest, Jessica Andrade was Shevchenko’s toughest test. In ways, Santos is similar to her fellow Brazilian, but I’d favor Andrade if they ever fought. Nevertheless, I believe Shevchenko gets it done via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
115 lbs.: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Zhang Weili – We have a rematch in the Women’s Strawweight division, as two former Champions in Zhang “Magnum” Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk clash. A loser of two straight, albeit the last fight coming via split decision, Weili returns to the octagon looking to reverse her fortune. Not taking an easier fight, Weili will look to closing the chapter on Jedrzejczyk as her route back to the title. Meanwhile, Jedrzejczyk returns to the octagon for the first time since her epic ‘Fight of the Year” battle against Weili . Taking a little over two years off, Jedrzejczyk comes into this bout recharged and looking to recapture her throne.
As the third to last fight on the card, this is a real treat to the fans. Both women are two of the best competitors the UFC roster has to offer and will once again lock horns in what is bound to be another barnburner. Weili , a well rounded fighter, is mainly an active striker that boast power and cardio. With excellent takedown defense and some wrestling chops, the physically strong Weili is one of the more complete fighters in the division. Which could be said about Jedrzejczyk too. An active striker as well, Jedrzejczyk is technical and methodically on the feet. With excellent cardio to back up her high pace, Jedrzejczyk has landed over 125 strikes in eight of her fights. A statistic that assuredly seems to be hers by a landslide. Lastly on Jedrzejczyk, she has solid takedown defense and isn’t someone to accept bottom position.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Jedrzejczyk. While I picked Weili in the first fight, there was an aura around her at the time, that seemed to reflect a fighter who was brimming with confidence. Having now loss back-to-back fights, I’m not saying that confidence is gone, but the aura is no longer of invisibility. Jedrzejczyk suffered through it too, but that was four years ago. In the end, I believe that as long as Jedrzejczyk can avoid being doubled up by Weili’s power shots, that her output will reign through. With two years off to recharge the battery, I’m expect Jedrzejczyk to show out and win via decision.
125 lbs.: Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape – We have a ranked battle in the Flyweight division, as Rogerio Bontorin takes on Manel “Starboy” Kape. A loser of three of the last four fights, with a no contest sandwiched in there, Bontorin comes into this bout needing to get back in the win column. Still holding onto the eighth spot in the rankings, Bontorin is still positioned in a spot that he can become a contender with a few victories. Meanwhile, Kape has found his stride of late. After dropping his first two fights inside the octagon, Kape has now strung together two straight victories. More impressively, both have been first round stoppages.
This fight pairs two fighters headed in opposite directions. Seeing a victory over Matt Schnell turned to a no contest, Bontorin has not won a fight since 2019. Still ranked in the top ten, Bontorin should consider himself very forunate. A grappler, who has won eleven of his sixteen fights via submission, Bontorin can be problematic to navigate with on the ground. On the feet, while not nearly as active, Bontorin sticks to short and powerful shots. However, given he has yet record a knockdown in five fights inside the octagon, I wouldn’t go thinking Bontorin is heavy handed by any stretch. The opposite could be said about Kape, who has won eleven of his seventeen victories via knockout. A potent striker, with excellent speed and explosiveness, Kape has proven in the last two fights that he is one to watch at Flyweight. With good takedown defense, solid cardio and sneaky wrestling/grappling abilities, Kape has the tools to contend for the belt.
As for a prediction, I have Kape winning. While Bontorin may land a takedown or two, Kape isn’t one to settle on his back. Should he be able to pop back up, the fight is in his world. One in which is leaps and bounds above Bontorin’s. Having recorded two straight first round knockouts, I feel like a third isn’t out of the question. With that said, I predict that Kape wins via knockout.
170 lbs.: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev – We have a showdown in the Welterweight division, as Jack Della Maddalena takes on Ramazan “Gorets” Emeev. Since dropping his first two professional fights, Maddalena has rattled off eleven consecutive wins. The Aussie’s most recent win though was his biggest to date, as he knocked out Pete Rodrigues in a successful UFC debut. Meanwhile, Emeev is coming off a split decision defeat to Danny Roberts. The defeat being a rarity for Emeev, who has now only lost twice in a little more than seven years.
No longer ranked among the top fifteen Welterweight’s, Emeev has an opportunity to put a halt to a rising prospect and get his name back in the mix. A former M-1 Champion, Emeev brings forth vast experience and a well rounded game. While the Russian is a kickboxer, he has often used it to flow into takedowns. A formula that has seen Emeev land sixteen takedowns in seven fights. Not afraid to grind down opponents, Emeev has proven that he is well conditioned. An important factor for the Russian, as Maddalena is a non-stop fighter with a tank on him. The Aussie is also an excellent striker, who has legitimate power and an arsenal at his disposal. Looking to stop opponents at whatever cost, Maddalena has proven that his chin is made of cast iron. While his takedown defense may be an area of concern, his BJJ and ability to work off his back have often aided to getting back on the feet.
Although a tough fight to predict, I’m going to side with Maddalena. Knowing very well that Emeev may see success wrestling Maddalena, I believe as the fight wanes, the tide will start to turn. Not because Emeev will necessarily be gassed, but Maddalena’s BJJ and ability to get back up will be disheartening over time. On the feet, it will be Maddalena’s fight to lose, as he is by far the more comfortable and superior striking. With legitimate power, I see him eventually connecting and putting Emeev in a bad spot. One that eventually the referee will need to step-in to halt the bout. With that said, I predict that Maddalena wins via TKO.
UFC 275 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN2/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
185 lbs.: Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun – The preliminary card headliner comes in the Middleweight division, as Brendan “All In” Allen takes on Jacob “Mamba” Malkoun. A winner of three of the last four fights, Allen is teetering on being inside the division’s top fifteen rankings. At only 26 years old and with his striking evolution, we might not be far off from seeing Allen elevate himself into a contender in a few years. Meanwhile, Malkoun comes into this fight on a two-fight win streak. Having put the UFC debut knockout loss as a mere blimp on the radar, Malkoun has proven that he is a player at 185 pounds.
This is a really intriguing fight, as both men are excellent fighters. Allen, being a ground specialist with superb submission abilities, has crafted his striking to a point where he can be comfortably reliant on it. While Chris Curtis wound of getting the best of Allen on the feet recently, the American did happen to outclass both Sam Alvey and Punahele Soriano. With his game rounding out, Allen’s ceiling looks to be rising by the fight. The same could be said about Malkoun, who features a well rounded game. On the feet, Malkoun is an active striker that features a crisp jab. Having excellent wrestling, strength and cardio, Malkoun can easily grind down an opponent for fifteen minutes.
As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Allen. While Malkoun has showed off his well rounded abilities, his wrestling has really shined in the last two fights. Landing fourteen takedowns and nearly twenty-one minutes of control time, Malkoun had little issues getting the fight to the mat. The problem with that in this fight, is Allen wouldn’t mind being on the ground. With ten of fifteen stoppage victories coming via submission, Malkoun would be putting himself in danger against the grappler in Allen. On the feet, Malkoun has a great jab and is active. However, Allen has a five inch height and two inch reach advantage. Factors that should aide him in getting off his own offense. In the end, I feel like Allen has several advantages and will win this fight via decision.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Seungwoo Choi vs. Josh Culibao – We have a showdown in the Featherweight division, as Seung “Sting” Woo Choi takes on Joshua “Kuya” Culibao. Seeing a three-fight win streak snapped in a recent defeat, Choi returns to the octagon looking to get back in the win column. Having fought three times last year, Choi makes his first appearance in 2022 already halfway through the year. Meanwhile, Culibao comes into this fight off his first UFC victory. Unable to capitalize on the victory earlier due to withdrawing from a fight against Damon Jackson, Culibao returns to octagon off a year layoff – the longest of his young career.
This fight could be fireworks, as both men have been known to bite on their mouthpiece and swing. Choi is a striker, who has quick hands and some stinging leg kicks. With cardio and good takedown defense too, Choi can be a handful to deal with on the feet. However, Choi’s grappling is an area of concern. Having been submitted twice in the past five fights, Choi’s submission defense is a vulnerability that needs to be worked on if he would were to make at run at 145 pounds. The same can’t be said about Culibao, who has yet to be submitted in his career. A fairly well rounded fighter, Culibao brings forth excellent takedown defense, power, movement and distance control. A striker, who tends to use guerilla warfare-like tactics, Culibao will often dart in with his attacks and then falls back. With several twenty-five minute fights under the Aussie’s belt, his cardio is pretty good.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Culibao. While I expect this fight to be close, I believe Culibao’s striking style could lull Choi into a slower paced fight – with Culibao landing the more effective shots. Wrestling could be a key factor in this fight, which you’d think would favor Choi. However, Culibao has excellent takedown defense and despite failing to yet land a takedown in the UFC, I do believe his wrestling is evolving to a point where he should see some success as early as this fight. So with all that said, I prediction Culibao to win his second straight fight via decision.
145 lbs.: Steve Garcia vs. Hayisaer Maheshate – We have a barnburner in the Lightweight division, as UFC newcomer Hayisaer Maheshate takes on Steve “Mean Machine” Garcia. After earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series seven month’s ago, Maheshate will finally make his octagon debut. Heading into this bout on a six-fight win streak, the China native comes into this contest with excellent momentum. Meanwhile, Garcia comes into this fight off his first UFC victory. A fight that was chaotic and saw Garcia battle back from two knockdowns to secure a TKO victory. A fellow DWCS alum, Garcia will look to prove that he’s the real deal.
With little tape on Maheshate, my analysis of him solely comes from his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series. A fight in which was dicey early, as Maheshate appeared to be stunned several times. However, Maheshate battled back and took the final two rounds. What I took from his fight, is that he’s got heart and is well conditioned. To get hurt several times and have the cardio to still go a hard fifteen is impressive. What I also gathered is that Maheshate is an active striker, who’s arsenal includes several leg kick variations and flying knee’s. While his takedown defense and ability to get his back off the cage looked good too, his striking defense is the area of concern. Holding his hands low, he can be hit and obviously hurt.
Then there is Garcia, who too knows something about coming back in a fight. Getting dropped twice in his most recent fight, despite controlling nearly 4:30 of the first five minutes, Garcia made his first UFC victory very difficult. Normally a potent striker, who is rangy and versatile, Garcia showed that he does have some wrestling abilities to fall back on. However, make no mistake, with nine of his twelve victories coming via knockout, Garcia comes to stop foes. If there is anything certain in this fight, it’s going to be a slugfest. One that is hard to predict, but I’m ultimately going to back Maheshate. Which is surprising because his level of competition prior to DWCS is dreadful. Yet, his fight on the show impressed me to the point where I believe his level of activity and arsenal on the feet will cause fits for Garcia. So with that said, I predict that Maheshate will win via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
170 lbs.: Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews – We have a scrap in the Welterweight division, as Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews takes on Andre Fialho. Returning to the octagon after a fourteen month layoff, Matthews will look to shake off any rust and get back in the win column. Still only 27 years old, Matthews has plenty of time to unlock his full potential. Meanwhile, Fialho comes into this fight on a two-fight win streak. Having begun the win-streak on April 16th, 2022, Fialho will attempt to win his third straight fight in a mere 56 days.
After debuting against Michel Pereira and giving the Brazilian a tough fight, Fialho looked poised to find success in the UFC. Breaking through against Miguel Baeza, the Portugal native didn’t bask in victory. Instead, he booked a fight twenty-one days later. Winning yet again via an impressive knockout, Fialho only sought out another quick return. One that comes a mere thirty-five days later. A record breaker and soon to be Dana White’s favorite fighter, Fialho has a real chance at creating some massive buzz with another victory.
As for the fight, I’m going with Fialho. A clear problem in the Welterweight division, Fialho brings forth power and excellent counter-striking. While Fialho appeared to come in the UFC with some cardio concerns, a hard fought fifteen minute fight against Pereira showed otherwise. Aside from that, Fialho appears to be the real deal. This fight though may not be easy, as Jake Matthews will be making his fifteenth appearance inside the octagon. Only 27 years old, Matthews is still evolving. With a fairly well rounded game, Matthews is comfortable wherever the fight goes. However, Matthews will adapt and fight to an opponents weakness. Not having seen Fialho have to fend off too many takedown attempts, I’m fairly certain the Celtic Kid will look to wrestle. A smart approach, but one I don’t believe he will be able to maintain for three rounds. Once Fialho has space, I foresee him cracking and finishing Matthews via TKO.
UFC 275 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Danaa Batgerel vs. Kyung Ho Kang – We have an intriguing clash of styles in the Bantamweight division, as “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang takes on Danaa “Storm” Batgerel. After seeing a three-fight win streak snapped in a recent defeat, Kang returns to the octagon for the first time in 2022 looking to get back in the win column. Previous to the defeat, Kang had won six of his last seven. Meanwhile, Batgerel returns to the octagon less than three month’s after being knocked out by Chris Gutierrez. Seemingly looking to get back on the horse and put aside that defeat, Batgerel will attempt to get back in the win column in short order. Prior to the loss, Baterel had rattled off three straight first round stoppage victories.
This is a tough fight to call, as I see various aspects potentially impacting the result. For one, getting knocked out is never great. Usually, fighters will take some time off to recover. However, Batgerel is returning to the octagon less than three month’s since being stopped. A major risk, but one that Batgerel seems determined to hurdle. The other aspect in this fight, is what Kang are we going to see? Never knowing if Kang is a striker or a wrestler, Kang just seemingly fights in a way where he barely wins. In fact, in Kang’s last seven fights, five have gone to the scorecards. Of those five, four have been decided via split decision.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Batgerel. Despite the concerns regarding returning too soon, I know what Batgerel brings to the table. He’s a fearsome striker, who has legitimate knockout power and isn’t afraid to brawl. While his takedown defense needs some work, Batgerel has shown an ability to pop back up. Kang, being physically strong and having some good wrestling abilities, will certainly put that to the test. Landing 2.23 takedowns at a 59% clip, Kang could very well find success implementing a heavy wrestling approach. I however, believe that Batgerel will avoid being smothered and land the more damaging blows on the feet – eventually leading to a TKO victory.
115 lbs.: Silvana Gomez Juarez vs. Na Liang – We have a clash in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Silvana “La Malvada” Gomez Juarez takes on Nia “Dragon Girl” Liang. Dropping the first two fights inside the octagon, Juarez will hope that the third time’s the charm. Otherwise, a third consecutive loss could spell the end of the Argentinian’s tenure in the UFC. Meanwhile, Liang comes into this fight looking to rebound after an unsuccessful UFC debut. A fight that was wild, and showed that Liang belonged in the UFC. Prior to the defeat, Liang had rattled off five consecutive wins.
This fight could really flip on a dime, as Juarez carries a vast advantage on the feet and Liang has the advantage on the ground. However, in two fights inside the octagon, Juarez has been extremely vulnerable to grapplers. Showing little semblance of submission defense, Juarez has been stopped in the opening round twice by armbar. Given Liang isn’t one to strike much, instead looking to wrestle and get the fight to mat early, it’s hard not to favor her. Especially considering Juarez has a mere 16% takedown defense. So with all that said, I predict that Liang will win via submission.
135 lbs.: Joselyne Edwards vs. Ramona Pascual – The curtain jerker comes in the Women’s Featherweight division, as Joselyne “La Pantera” Edwards takes on Ramona Pascual. Returning to the octagon for the first time in 2022, Edwards will seek to end a two-fight skid. Having exclusively fought at Bantamweight, Edwards makes the trek up to Featherweight hoping to find a jolt. Meanwhile, Pascual comes into this fight off an unsuccessful UFC debut. A fight where Pascual showed incredible toughness, but just couldn’t find a way to effectively wrestle and smother Josiane Nunes. Previous to the defeat, Pascual had won four straight.
When Pascual debuted against the aforementioned Nunes, I did not think she would see the scorecards. Prior to the debut, Pascual had seen six of her seven fights halted inside the distance. She had also fought a low level of competition, as her opponents combined for a mere 10-9 record. However, Pascual faired better than thought, showing off toughness and some wrestling abilities. The latter being key, particularly for this fight, as Edwards has been exploited several times for her porous takedown defense. In the Panamanian’s last two fights, she has been taken down nine times and controlled for roughly twenty-three minutes. Given she is making the jump up in weight and Pascual is built for the Featherweight division, there is a realistic chance that Edwards could yet again be neutralized on the ground.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Pascual. Even though Edwards holds an advantage on the feet, mainly with her reach and volume edge, I can’t see how the weight disadvantage is going to her aid her ghastly takedown defense and inability to get back to her feet. So with that said, perhaps against my better judgement, I predict that Pascual wins via decision.