UFC Austin Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):

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145 lbs.: Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett – The main-event comes in the Featherweight division, as Calvin “The Boston Finisher” Kattar takes on Josh Emmett. Coming off an exceptional performance over Giga Chikadze, Kattar returns to the octagon with an opportunity to stake claim as the next title challenger. With wins in three of the last four fights, Kattar rides into this big fight with excellent momentum. Meanwhile, Emmett is currently on a four-fight win streak. Having defeated Shane Burgos and Dan Ige in back-to-back fights, Emmett has emerged as a worthy contender at Featherweight. A win over Kattar could push him into a title shot.

A pivotal fight in the Featherweight division, this truly should be a great main event. Calvin Kattar is a solid striker, who is among the most polished and crafted in the division. With solid takedown defense and a never ending gas tank, Kattar can keep a hard pace for twenty-five minutes. Landing an absurd 144 significant strikes in his last fight, I’d except more or less the same should this fight go five rounds. In the other corner, you have a powerful striker in Emmett. With eleven knockdown in the last six fights, Emmett has the ability to change the complexion of a fight with one strike.

As for a prediction, I have Kattar winning. With good head movement and an ability to withstand punishment, I believe that Emmett is going to need a kitchen sink to put the Boston Strangler down. Obviously Emmett has a definitive power edge, but the technique and jab of Kattar should see him land more often. The later the fight goes too, the more it swings to the Massachusetts native, who has proven he can go a hard twenty-five. In the end, I see an entertaining battle. One that Kattar comes out on top, eventually scoring a late TKO finish.

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155 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon – We have a couple of pioneers locking horns in the Lightweight division, as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon. Looking to halt a brutal 0-5-1 skid, Cerrone returns to the octagon for the first time in 2022 with his career potentially on the line. Fortunately for Cowboy, he’s not facing a contender, but a fellow veteran. Meanwhile, Lauzon returns to the octagon for the first time since defeating Jonathan Pearce via TKO in 2019. Having purposely opted out of fighting during the pandemic, Lauzon allowed himself to heal and comeback to a fight that makes sense at this stage of his career.

As for a prediction, I have Cerrone winning. While durability concerns weigh heavy for both men, as they each have been stopped nine times in their career, I favor Cerrone to get the job done. Obviously on a horrid losing streak, Cerrone has had his difficulties. However, during this losing streak, Cerrone has fought the likes of Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson. All guys whom were ranked in the top five of the division. Obviously being recently stopped by Alex Morono, which was the fourth time he’s been finished during the streak isn’t something to look positively back on. But, there is more to the origins of this losing streak is all. Anyways, I believe Cerrone has a clear edge on the feet. He’s dynamic, has solid cardio and is the more active of the two. Lauzon being a boxer, isn’t an overly defensive one. In fact, opponents are landing 5.39 significant strikes per minute on him. Where he excels is on the ground, where he’s won 17 fights alone via submission. The one problem on the ground, is I believe Cerrone has the abilities to hold his own and get the fight back to the feet. Having fought 54 times, with only one submission defeat back in 2010 to Benson Henderson, bodes a confidence that Cerrone can withstand Lauzon’s grappling. So with that said, I predict that Cerrone wins via TKO.

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170 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Tim Means – We have a “Fight of the Night” contender in the Welterweight division, as Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means takes on Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland. Currently riding a three-fight win streak, Means comes into this bout with an opportunity to pick up a pivotal win. One in which could elevate him into the division’s top fifteen. Meanwhile, Holland will look to make it two straight since dropping down to Welterweight. With an evolving skillset, that is geared on honing in on his wrestling deficiency, it should be interesting to see how the talented Trailblazer progresses at 170 pounds.

This is an excellent fight and one that I could see being a back-and-forth war. Means is an active and technical striker, who uses his distance and length exceptionally well. Not one to discriminate with strikes, Means isn’t afraid to close the distance and land elbows. With good cardio and sneaky wrestling, Means can overwhelm opponents that don’t come correct. The only concerns with Means, are father time and durability. The same can’t be said about Holland, who is still 29 years old and has only been submitted twice in thirty fights. A striker, who too fights long, Holland is accurate and carries some legitimate power. While his defensive wrestling has always led him astray, between working on his wrestling and being down a weight a weight class, Holland shouldn’t be one to be held down for the majority of the fight anymore.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Holland. While I think Means is the better and more calculated striker, I think his durability concerns could come into play here. Holland, who notably has an iron chin, is willing to walk through the fire to land something impactful. Something that I really don’t believe Means can’t afford to do. The interesting aspect in the fight that could turn the tide towards Means, is if he looks to wrestle. Obviously I’ve mentioned that Holland should be better in the defensive wrestling department, but it remains to be seen how much better. Perhaps Means test that. Regardless, I believe Holland will overcome any adversity, and come out on top via TKO.

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185 lbs.: Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev – We have a showdown in the Middleweight division, as Joaquin “New Mansa” Buckley takes on Albert “Machete” Duraev. A winner of two straight and four of the last five, Buckley comes into this bout with solid momentum. Usually known for his knockout power, in Buckley’s most recent victory, he used a new wrinkle to his game, wrestling. Meanwhile, Duraev is coming off a successful UFC debut victory over Roman Kopylov. Unbeaten in eight years, with ten straight wins, Duraev is presented an opportunity to make some legitimate noise here with a victory.

This should be a fun fight, as both men are finishers. Buckley, while trying to evolve in the wrestling department, is a powerful striker. Often willing to eat some strikes to land his own offense, Buckley more often than not, leaves his opponents unconscious. Which is as evident by eight of his twelve wins coming via knockout. While Duraev too has some striking abilities, notably good power and footwork, he can leave himself exposed with his wildness at times. Where he makes his money is within his grappling. A known threat on the mat, Duraev has snatched up nine of his fifteen victories via submission.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Buckley. Obviously working on implementing wrestling into his game, Buckley has recognized the benefits that come with that. If he can evolve into a two-way threat, there is potential for Buckley to make some noise at Middleweight. The reason that I believe New Mansa wins, is simply because Duraev is wild on the feet and tires the later the fight goes. Both areas in which I can see Buckley capitalizing on. However, there is a real concern that Buckley may not be able to fend off Duraev’s takedown attempts. A risk that I’m willing to see through. So with that said, I predict that Buckley wins via TKO.

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155 lbs.: Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze – We have an intriguing fight in the Lightweight division, as Damir Ismagulov takes on Guram “Georgian Viking” Kutateladze. A winner of eighteen straight, four of which have come inside the octagon, Ismagulov is closing in on the division’s top fifteen. The Kazakh will need to be active however to do such, as he has only fought once in nearly three years. Meanwhile, Kutateladze comes into this fight on a nine-fight win streak. Having not fought since scoring a debut victory over Mateusz Gamrot in 2020 though, Kutateladze will have the shake the cobwebs off quickly against a foe unbeaten in over six years.

A pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, with both competitors unbeaten in over six years, this should be a gritty and close fight. Ismagulov is a well rounded fighter, who is extremely experienced. Cerebral and technical on the feet, Ismagulov uses feints and head movement to disguise his attacks. Notably difficult to hit, opponents are landing a mere 1.9 significant strikes per minute. With good wrestling and endless cardio, Ismagulov has several routes to victory without even breaking a sweat. The only real knocks on the Kazakh may be the lack of power and activity. Two attributes that Kutateladze is known for. A heavy handed slugger, with a diverse arsenal on the feet, Kutateladze has many tools in the toolshed that can end the fight. While lacking takedown defense, Kutateladze’s ability to pop right back up is exceptional. With good cardio to boot, he can be a tough out for anyone.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with the upset minded Kutateladze. Obviously Ismagulov is a talented fighter and has won eighteen straight for a reason, but his lack of finishing power and activity as I mentioned are two key components that I feel can be challenged. Knowing that Kutateladze is going be in the fight for fifteen minutes, I can expect him to land with volume and maybe even stun Ismagulov at some point. The only real concern I have with this prediction, is if Kutateladze can withstand Ismagulov’s wrestling and top control. My belief is that Kutateladze’s grappling and ability to pop back up are good enough to do such, but there’s a real possibility that Ismagulov is an even better wrestler than I know he is. Regardless, my gut says Kutateladze scores another big victory via decision.

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185 lbs.: Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues – The opening fight of the main card comes in the Middleweight division, as Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez takes on Gregory “Robocop” Rodrigues. A winner of two straight and seven of the last eight, Marquez finds himself an opportune fight to stake his claim among the division’s top fifteen. Sporting a 100% finishing rate, the hard hitting Cuban-American is not one who looks for the judges to decide his fate. Meanwhile, Rodrigues comes into this fight looking to get back in the win column. Having seen a four-fight win streak halted as a result of the recent defeat, Rodrigues has a formidable opponent that can help him get back the buzz he had storming into the UFC.

Bound to result in fireworks, this is going to be an exciting clash. Marquez is a powerful striker, who throws everything with bad intentions. Not exactly great at fending off takedowns, Marquez has surprisingly sneaky grappling and submissions. In fact, Marquez’s last three victories have come via submission. As for Rodriguez, while a he’s proven and credentialed grappler, the Brazilian favors striking. An approach that has resulted in success and failure. In this particular fight, it would be wise for Rodrigues to grapple, but I said that in his last fight too.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Marquez. Unless Rodrigues starts fighting to his abilities, he will always leave himself open to getting stopped on the feet. Not to denounce his chin, which has proven tough, but he’s not exactly the most sound defensively. Absorbing roughly 5.7 significant strikes, at 48% clip, Rodrigues is just welcoming the punishment. So with that said, I predict that Marquez will stop Rodrigues via knockout.

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UFC Austin Preliminary Card On ESPN2/ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):

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185 lbs.: Kyle Daukaus vs. Roman Dolidze – We have a grappler’s delight in the Middleweight division, as Kyle “The D’Arce Knight” Daukaus takes on Roman “The Caucasian” Dolidze. Going 3-2, with one no contest in the last six fights, Daukaus comes into this bout looking to find consistency. Having most recently defeated Jamie Pickett via submission, Daukaus has an opportunity at his first winning streak since 2019-2020. Meanwhile, Dolidze returns to the octagon for the first time in 2022. Despite dropping his debut at Middleweight back in March of 2021, Dolidze made better on his second attempt in a victory over Laureano Staropoli. With a 3-1 record inside the octagon and this being his third fight at a new weight class, it’s feasible to believe that we see a bigger and badder version of Dolidze this time out.

With both men’s expertise being grappling, there is a chance that we could have an entertaining ground battle. There is also a chance that we may see a lackluster kickboxing match. Let’s hope not for the latter. Regardless, Daukaus is a game fighter. Using constant pressure, wrestling and grappling, Daukaus looks to get the fight to the ground. Not one to lay-and-pray, Daukaus is a submission hunter – as evident by nine of his eleven victories coming via submission. In the other corner, Dolidze is perhaps the more comfortable fighter wherever the fight goes. Although, on the feet, other than maybe some power, he lacks the necessary volume to outpoint an opponent. It’s his wrestling and grappling abilities that more often than not, aide him in securing the victory.

As for a prediction, I have Daukaus winning. While he may not be a striker’s delight, he can pressure and land with some decent volume on the feet. However, on the ground, is where he makes his money. With submission abilities from all over and some pretty underrated ground-and-pound, Daukaus can be overwhelming should the fight enter his world. The reason I believe the American gets the job done over fellow grappler in Dolidze, is that he can keep a hard pace for fifteen minutes. Dolidze coming into the UFC, had only seen a round three once in six fights. Since joining the UFC, he’s seen three in four fights. Seeing him visible slow down in the later rounds, is a problem that will be exploited by Daukaus. So with that said, I predict a late submission victory for Daukaus.

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185 lbs.: Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn – We have an intriguing fight in the Middleweight division, as Phil ‘Megatron’ Hawes takes on Deron Winn. Since 2019, Hawes has won seven of his last eight fights. Despite losing his most recent bout to Chris Curtis, the former Ultimate Fighter 23 competitor is no longer a flameout. He’s a dangerous knockout artist who is a few wins away from nearing the division’s top fifteen. Meanwhile, Winn comes into this fight off a victory over Antonio Arroyo. Overcoming a nine inch height disadvantage, the standout wrestler used twelve takedowns en route to a decision victory. An important win too, as Winn faced a potential three-fight losing streak in the face.

This is a tough fight for Deron Winn, as the undersized Middleweight will need to find a way to break the solid takedown defense of Phil Hawes. Given that Hawes himself is a wrestler, who has an excellent base and a hulking physique, I find it hard to see Winn having much success. On the feet, it’s no contest. Winn is tough, but will need to overcome a six inch height and eight inch reach advantage. Throw in the fact that Hawes has legitimate knockout power, and I really don’t see this going all too well for the former collegiate wrestler.

As for a prediction, I obviously have Phil Hawes. The man is a legitimate tank and has the skills to make a run in this division. On the other hand, Winn is an excellent wrestler who is being held back by being undersized. I’m not sure if the thought of trying to make Welterweight is in his plans, but I don’t see how much longer the UFC keeps him around if he sticks at Middleweight. Especially if Winn is given matchups that stylistically give him little to no shot. In the end, I foresee Hawes turning aside Winn’s constant takedown attempts and eventually knocking him out on the feet.

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125 lbs.: Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva – We have a good one in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Jasmine Jasudavicius takes on newcomer Natalia Silva. Coming off a successful UFC debut victory over Kay Hansen, Jasudavicius returns to the octagon looking to keep the train moving. A winner of three straight, and in a division craving for contenders, Jasudavicius route to a title could be three or four more wins away. Meanwhile, Silva comes into this fight a winner of six straight. Having started her career with a 1-3 record, Silva has since been an impressive 11-2-1 in fourteen fights – with one of the losses coming to top Strawweight contender Marina Rodriguez.

This fight is Jasudavicius’ to lose. Not only is Silva debuting in the UFC, she is also fighting for the first time since December of 2019. Being sidelined due to a broken ulna, Silva will have to overcome a lot heading into this first fight under the bright lights. A grappler, with some decent kicks on the feet, Silva isn’t one to stand-and-trade over the course of fifteen minutes. Other than the kicks I alluded too, there is nothing really in the stand-up department. Where she has shined is on the ground. With seven submission, six of which are by armbar, Silva presents some dangers. Just not entirely for Jasudavicius in my opinion. A well rounded fighter, who has the wrestling and BJJ to avoid Silva’s strength’s, I’m comfortable in saying she can easily take this fight on the feet. I’m not certain she can win this one inside the distance, but her skills are far more crafted than Silva’s one trick pony. So with that said, I predict that Jasudavicius will win via decision.

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170 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells – We have a scrap in the Welterweight division, as Jeremiah Wells takes on Court “The Crusher” McGee. A winner of four straight, two of which have come in the UFC, Wells has made an instant impact inside the octagon. At 35 years old, Wells will look to keep this momentum going in what is likely to be a limited run. Meanwhile, McGee will make the walk for the twentieth time inside the octagon. A true veteran and a TUF winner, McGee has proven to be a tough out for anyone. Currently a winner of two straight, McGee comes into this fight looking for his first three fight winning streak since 2011.

In one of the tougher fights to predict, even indicated by the odds, I’m ever so slightly leaning towards Wells. A Renzo Gracie product, Wells boasts a well rounded game. With power on the feet, good wrestling and dangerous BJJ, Wells is comfortable wherever the fight takes place. Being a physical powerhouse, it’s hard to find someone that can stay upright against the man. The one concern I have for Wells is cardio. In what is likely to be a grind of a fight, there is a chance that the tide could sway as we get deeper into the bout. Especially given McGee’s excellent conditioning and ability to maintain a hard pace. The last point though I’ll make on my cardio concerns, is that Wells has fought twenty-five minutes before. I think he should be fine, but I wouldn’t be surprised in round three to see him drop a round. I do think that in the first two, Wells will land the more impactful strikes and nab a few takedowns to have him up heading into the last round. So with that said, I predict that Wells will win via decision.

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135 lbs.: Tony Kelley vs. Adrian Yanez – An entertaining scrap takes place in the Bantamweight division, as Adrian Yanez takes on Tony “Primetime” Kelley. A rising star, Yanez comes into this fight on an eight-fight win streak. Having won four of those inside the octagon, three of which have been via stoppage, Yanez comes into this fight eyeing the division’s top fifteen with a victory. Meanwhile, Kelley comes into this fight with some momentum. A winner of two straight, including a recent upset stoppage victory over Randy Costa, Kelley finds himself in a spot where a victory could elevate him into a big fight next.

This is a potential “Fight of the Night” contender, as both men are strikers. Yanez, is an active and technical striker who has legitimate power. With good takedown defense, an iron chin and good cardio, Yanez is someone who can keep the fight in his wheelhouse and keep a hard pace for fifteen minutes. The only knock on Yanez may be as a result of his last two fights, where he was seemingly hit way too often. The same could be said about Kelley too, as he is getting hit on 55% of the significant strikes opponents throw at him. Despite that, Kelley has proven to be a well rounded fighter. Diverse on the feet, with odd angled attacks, Kelley can be a tricky to read. With good grappling abilities, when taken down, Kelley isn’t one to just accept the position.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Yanez. While this fight could go either way depending on how tricky of an attack Kelley brings, Yanez just seems too crisp on the feet to not get off his offense. Landing 6.35 strikes per minute, if Yanez can avoid being dragged into a brawl, I believe he can turn in a calculated victory. With some power in hands too, there is a chance that he can score a knockout. However, given Kelley has never been stopped, I’m not counting on it. So with all that said, I predict that Yanez will win via decision.

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145 lbs.: Danny Chavez vs. Ricardo Ramos – We have a scrap in the Featherweight division, as Danny “The Columbian Warrior” Chavez takes on Ricardo “Carcacinha” Ramos. Since a successful UFC debut in 2020, Chavez has yet to replicate such in his last two fights. With one fight being a loss and the other a draw, Chavez enters this fight looking to get back on track. Meanwhile, an original signee from Dana White’s Looking for a Fight, Ramos makes his tenth walk to the octagon. With two losses in his last three wins, Ramos comes into this fight needing to get back on track. At only 26 years old, Ramos still has the potential to be a name in the Featherweight division.

This could be a fairly competitive fight, but one I’d favor Ramos in winning. While Chavez has shown to be a good striker, with nice leg kicks, he lacks the volume to be impactful. Landing no more than forty-nine significant strikes in three fights, Chavez is averaging a mere 2.87 strikes per minute. With some sneaky wrestling, but not in his wheelhouse, Chavez leans on chopping opponents down and hurting them more than anything. Ramos though, is the more well rounded of the two. A grappler, with seven of his fifteen wins coming via submission, Ramos is one to avoid being on the ground with. On the feet, Ramos is more active, but isn’t the most accurate striker. He does have some flashy strikes in the arsenal and good leg kicks, but more often than not, it’s the ground where he wants the fight. Landing fifteen takedowns in the last five fights, Ramos hasn’t faced much resistance in taking foes down. Chavez having good takedown defense, will be an interesting test. One that I believe Ramos will pass. So with all that said, I predict Ramos to win via decision.

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115 lbs.: Gloria de Paula vs. Maria Oliveira – We have an intriguing fight in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Gloria “Glorinha” de Paula takes on Maria “Spider Girl” Oliveira. Halting a two-fight skid in a recent victory against Diana Belbita, de Paula will look to build upon that here. A Dana White’s Contender Series alum, the 27 year old looks like she could be something with some experience under belt. Meanwhile, Oliveira comes into her second UFC appearance looking for that illustrious UFC victory. Prior to debuting, Oliveira had won two straight fights.

Known to harp on resume’s, Oliveira brings forth one that offers very little substance of credibility. Before debuting in the UFC, Oliveira had won twelve fights. The combined opponents record in those twelve wins was 8-17, with two fighters having “winning records” and not one opponent having more than six fights. Obviously not on the Oliveira train, I need to see more of her to really assess what she’s really good on. de Paula being an active striker, who has solid Muay-Thai, offers more than enough to win this fight. So with that said, I predict that de Paula will win this fight via decision.

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135 lbs.: Cody Stamann vs. Eddie Wineland – We have a battle between two struggling Bantamweights, as Cody “Spartan” Stamann takes on Eddie Wineland. Staring at the only losing streak in his career, Stamann comes into this fight looking to avoid dropping a fourth straight. With his UFC tenure perhaps on the line, expect Stamann to enter this fight with immense urgency to win. Meanwhile, Wineland comes into this fight desperately needing to get back in the win column. A loser of two straight and four of the last five, the former WEC stalwart’s career may be riding on the result of this fight.

It’s hard not to side with Stamann in this fight. Previous to this three fight skid, Stamann had only lost two times in twenty-two fights – with one of them being to the current Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling. A wrestler, who has a volume-based striking attack, Stamann is a solid fighter who’s currently in a rut. Competition being definitely part of that rut, Stamann finds himself in a very winnable fight. No disrespect to Wineland, but clearly at the tail end of his career, the striker doesn’t possess the durability or speed that once made him feared to stand across from. While it should be noted that Wineland has excellent takedown defense, with only one takedown landed on him in eleven years, I do believe Stamann still would win a striking battle should he fail to execute wrestling-wise. So with that said, I predict that Stamann will win via decision.

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