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

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135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz – The main event comes in the Bantamweight division, as Marlon Vera takes on former Champion Dominick Cruz. Coming off an impressive victory over Rob Font, which extended the win-streak to three, Vera enters this fight with an opportunity to not only knock off a former champion, but position himself to be next in line. Having been in the UFC since 2014, the Ecuadorian has evolved himself into a legitimate contender. Meanwhile, Cruz has eyes set on reclaiming his throne. A winner of two-straight, the former Champion has re-aligned himself among the top contenders in this seemingly crowded Bantamweight division. With a victory over Vera and given his prolific history, there is a chance that Cruz could vie for the title in his next fight.

In a fight that’s a major puzzle piece to solving the division, I expect both men to put on an excellent performance. Vera, is a striker to the core. Looking to break down foes with volume and eventually put them down, Vera is a dangerous man to stand across from. Boasting excellent cardio, Vera is never one to relent to a pace, but embrace it. If taken down, Vera is well verse in grappling and is known to be dangerous in his guard. Having never been stopped in twenty-seven professional fights, Vera is among the most durable fighters on the roster. As for Cruz, he is truly one of the best Bantamweight’s to ever grace mixed martial arts. With over seven years of lost time due to injuries, most of which was during his prime, a credit should be given to how Cruz has re-positioned himself among a talent stacked division. Known for his unique footwork and angles, Cruz is one of the more tricky fighters to solve on the feet. Perhaps the hardest to hit as well, as his striking defense of 71% may be the best in the sport. Not one gifted with power, Cruz makes up for his activity. Whether it’s striking or wrestling, Cruz is always looking to score points.

Bound to be an exciting fight, I’m siding with Vera. Against perhaps the most active striker on the roster in Rob Font, Vera’s gas tank and output never waned over twenty-five minutes. If there was any negative in that fight, it was that Vera absorbed 271 significant strikes. In fact, in some rounds, Vera almost got doubled-up on strikes. While that could be concerning, there are only a select few fighters who can sustain that much output. Cruz is not one of them. Despite being active on the feet, the former champ isn’t necessarily accurate. As evident by a 33% striking accuracy. Cruz also has been showing some chin issues of late, getting dropped four times in the last four fights. Not entirely dominating his opponents of late either, I’m not certain Cruz has what it takes to beat a crafty and high caliber opponent like Vera. So with that said, I predict that Vera wins via TKO.

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145 lbs.: Nate Landwehr vs. David Onama – The co-main event comes in the Featherweight division, as David Onama takes on Nate Landwehr. After giving a good account for himself in his UFC debut defeat, albeit it being on short notice, Onama has strung together back-to-back stoppage victories. Glowing of talent and proving it along the way, Onama has arrived in a co-main spot in just his fourth UFC fight. Meanwhile, Landwehr has been pure entertainment since joining the UFC in 2020. Unfortunately, his style hasn’t always led to win, as he is 2-2. However, coming off a massive submission victory over Ludovit Klein, perhaps the time is now for Landwehr to make a run.

In a fight bound for violence, I’m siding with Onama. Before entering the UFC, Onama’s talent was evident. Having seen him step inside the octagon three times, it’s becoming clearer that he has the abilities to be a major player at 145 pounds. Under the tutelage of James Krause, I believe he can even become a Champion. For now though, the come up. One that won’t be easy, as Landwehr is as tough as they come. A pressure based striker, who’s output is among the best, Landwehr looks to put it on his opponents. Armed with solid cardio and good pop, Landwehr can put a halt to a bout via strikes or go hard for fifteen minutes. However, Landwehr has absorbed 5.96 significant strikes per minute in four fights inside the octagon. A recipe for disaster, especially against a technical, yet extremely powerful striker in Onama. With cardio and underrated grappling to round out his game, I believe Onama has the tools to not only win this fight, but finish it via TKO.


115 lbs.: Yazmin Jauregui vs. Iasmin Lucindo – A pair of debutants duke it out in the Strawweight division, as Yazmin Jauregui takes on Iasmin Lucindo. Undefeated and coming off a victory over the well-traveled Stephanie Frausto, Jauregui appears ready to make the jump to the big leagues. With six knockouts among her eight victories, five of which came in round one, Jauregui brings a rare element of stopping power to the octagon. Meanwhile, Lucindo comes into this fight on a seven-fight win streak. Starting her professional career at 15 years old, Lucindo has amassed seventeen fights in a little over five years. With a rare blend of experience and youth, Lucindo is someone to keep an eye on.

This is a tough fight to call, as you have two young and talented fighters who have an entire career ahead of them. However, a prediction needs to made, and I’m siding with Jauregui. A technical boxer with heavy hands and an excellent clinch, Jauregui is a force to be reckon with on the feet. Armed with good takedown defense too, Jauregui has done a good job keeping the fight upright and getting off her offense. As evident by the fact that she has won 75% of her fights via knockout. The other reason why I favor Jauregui in this fight, is that Lucindo seems to be a better grappler than striker. Which is interesting given her background is in Muay Thai. Yet her striking isn’t as clean or crisp, which could be in part due to that fact that she is an evolving mixed martial arts at only twenty-years old. Regardless, I predict that Jauregui wins this fight via TKO.


205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Azamat Murzakanov – We have an important fight in the Light Heavyweight division, as Devin Clark takes on Azamat Murzakanov. Coming off a win over William Knight at Heavyweight, Clark returns to 205 pounds. Having had a hard time finding consistency since joining the UFC in 2016, going 7-6 in thirteen fights, Clark will need to begin his run if he wants to avoid being just another name. Meanwhile, Murzakanov rolls into this fight off a successful UFC debut. A fight in which the Russian ended via an impressive flying knee. Improving his record to a sterling 11-0, Murzakanov has his eyes set on using Clark as a stepping stone to a top fifteen foe next.

A tough fight to read, I’m going to side with the underdog in Clark. The reason behind this prediction stems from his wrestling and overall improvements in his ability to absorb damage. Knowing all well, that Murzakanov is a power puncher and has the ability to put anyone’s lights, there is an obvious concern that Clark will crumple. However, Clark is a relentless wrestler and has never been shy about spamming takedowns. Murzakanov may have success in keeping the fight upright early, as he is fairly strong, but with the Russian having an iffy gas tank, the takedowns will come easier for Clark as the fight wanes. In the end, I’m banking on Clark to weather any initial storm and take the later rounds in a decision victory.


125 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira – We have a Women’s Flyweight bout to kick off the main card, as Ariane Lipski takes on Priscila Cachoeira. Halting a two-fight skid in her most recent outing, Lipski returns to the octagon seeking a winning streak. Having not yet competed in eleven months due to an injury, this will be Lipski’s first fight in 2022. Meanwhile, Cachoeira is coming off a wild victory. One in which she managed to absorb 170 significant strikes and still get the decision nod. The victory was the Brazilian’s third in the last four fights.

Whenever Cachoeira fights, expect chaos. Primarily a striker, Cachoeira features a blend of power and volume. With zombie-like durability and excellent cardio, Cachoeira looks to outlast her opponents and eventually take them out. Something in which the Brazilian has done, as six of her last eight wins have come via knockout. Looking to not add on to that statistic is Lipski. A former KSW Flyweight champion and dubbed the “Queen of Violence”, Lipski hasn’t had quite the UFC tenure many were expecting. A striker, with Muay Thai background, Lipski is most dangerous on the feet. Often looking to pressure opponents, Lipski does a good job of mixing up her attack and doing damage in the clinch. Offering sneaky power, Lipski has won six of her fourteen victories via knockout. However, it’s not all good with Lipski. Not the most accurate on the feet, nor great at keeping the fight upright, Lipski can be exploited.

Looking at the odds, I didn’t expect Lipski to be the favorite. Obviously Cachoeira is a wild card, but she always brings it. Boasting a higher significant strike total per minute, accuracy and with knockout receipts in the UFC, Cachoeira is the more dangerous of the two on the feet. The only aspect going against Cachoeira, is her striking defense, which is abysmal to say the least. However, in a fight that should mainly take place on the feet, Cachoeira brings forth volume and violence that can sway the judges. Also, Cachoeira has landed 69 or more strikes in three fights in the UFC. Lipski has only hit that number once, which came in her recent victory over Mandy Bohm. So with that said, I predict that Cachoeira will score a late TKO victory.

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185 lbs.: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bruno Silva – We have an entertaining fight in the Middleweight division, as Gerald Meerschaert takes on Bruno Silva. Coming off a loss to Krzysztof Jotko, which halted a three-fight win streak, Meerschaert returns to the octagon looking to rebound. Still seeking to crack the divisions top fifteen, with a victory, Meerschaert could potentially command a ranked fight next. Meanwhile, Silva is coming off a loss to Alex Pereira. Which in hindsight, doesn’t appear all that bad given Pereira is challenging the Champion Israel Adesanya for the belt. However, a victory over Pereira could of landed Silva a spot in the top fifteen and extended his win streak to eight.

This fight should be a doozy, as I see two likely scenario’s. One, Meerschaert gets this fight to the ground and his grappling edge leads to his twenty-seventh submission victory. A scenario with legs, given Silva has lost five of his seven defeats via submission. Also, Silva, despite a 68% takedown defense, was taken down seven times by Andrew Sanchez. Two, Silva keeps the fight upright long enough to land his twentieth knockout. A real possibility, given the amount of punishment Meerschaert has taken during his forty-nine professional fights. Also, Meerschaert has been stopped via strikes in two of his last three losses – with both coming under 75 seconds.

A tough prediction anyway you slice it, I’m going to side with Silva. With the obvious takedown and submission defense concerns, there is a real chance the Brazilian gets out-classed. However, all it takes is one-punch with Silva’s knockout power. Knowing Meerschaert has a semi-questionable chin, I’m willing bank on Silva landing a heavy blow before Meerschaert locking in a submission. With that said, I predict Silva to win via knockout.


UFC San Diego Preliminary Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):

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115 lbs.: Lupita Godinez vs. Angela Hill – An intriguing fight takes place at a Catchweight of 120 pounds, as Angela Hill takes on Lupita Godinez. Hoping to end a nightmare tailspin that has saw Hill drop four of the last five, the veteran heads back into the octagon looking to rebound. Still ranked thirteenth in the Strawweight division, Hill, despite the skid, remains in a position where she could command top ten fights should she win. Looking to use Hill as a stepping stone into the top fifteen is Godinez. A winner of two straight and three of the last four, Godinez is coming into this fight with some steam. Should the Mexican come out on top, there will be certain buzz to follow the new contender.

One of the unluckiest fighters on the roster, Hill is 0-4 in split decisions with the UFC. Despite all that, Hill is still among the best in the Strawweight division and perhaps her real downfall is, she never takes an easy fight. Which in my opinion is a mistake, as Godinez is a talent to be reckon with. Boasting immense physical strength, Godinez has found relative ease in taking foes down. In fact, over the last two fights, Godinez has landed thirteen takedowns and nearly twenty-one minutes of control time. Given Hill has historically had issues with fighters like Godinez and is coming off a loss in which she was taken down three times and controlled for seven minutes, I’d say that “Overkill” is in trouble.

If it wasn’t obvious, I’m siding with Godinez. While her wrestling has been the main focal point of her game, Godinez is no slouch on the feet. An area where Hill though has the edge, especially regarding volume, as she is landing over three more significant strikes per minute. However, Godinez is a relentless wrestler who has landed 5.37 takedowns per fifteen minutes at a 48% accuracy. Knowing very well that her strength has been a blueprint to getting the best of Hill, I predict that Godinez wins the fight via decision.


265 lbs.: Lukasz Brzeski vs. Martin Buday – The lone Heavyweight fight on the card, see’s promotional newcomer Lukasz Brzeski take on Martin Buday. Coming off a nine-month suspension due to a positive drug test following his victory on Dana White’s Contender series, Brzeski luckily remained on the roster and is finally going to get his chance to grace the octagon. With the most recent fight changing to a no contest, the Pole is 5-0-1 in his previous six fights. Meanwhile, Buday is coming off a successful UFC debut. One that was almost marred by an illegal strike in the third round, but was deemed accidental and went to the scorecards – which were all in favor of Buday. The victory was Buday’s ninth straight and tenth overall.

I’m not certain after watching tape on Brzeski, that he is going to make an impact at Heavyweight. However, he’s going to be a part of some memorable fights. An exciting fighter, who looks to stop his foes, Brzeski brings forth excellent output. Unafraid of the brawl and almost inviting to get hit, Brzeski is a fighter who I could see scoring bonuses throughout his UFC tenure. I’m not certain though, he will be winning all that much, as his cardio, takedown defense and striking defense all need work. Area’s in which Buday will look to capitalize on. While the Slovakian has his own striking defense issues, his chin has proven to made of iron. His hands of steel as well, as his excellent jab and overall power have ended eight of his ten wins inside the distance. backs that notion up. Armed with good wrestling and grappling, Buday is capable of making some noise at 265 pounds. At times, Buday may stall out, but when he gets going, it’s tough to survive his onslaught.

As for a prediction, I’ve got Buday. He’s the more well rounded fighter of the two, with way less holes in his game. Although slow and open to being tagged, his durability has yet to fail him. Knowing that Buday can elect to strike or wrestle Brzeski, there are a plethora of ways for the Slovakian to win. So with that said, I predict that Buday wins via TKO.


125 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Nina Nunes – A Women’s Flyweight contest is spotlighted on the main card, as Cynthia Calvillo takes on Nina Nunes. On a brutal three-fight skid, Calvillo comes into this fight urgently needing a victory. Once a contender and within one victory from a title shot, Calvillo’s fall from grace has seen her drop to eleventh in the rankings. At 34 years old, the time is now for Calvillo to turn things back around. Meanwhile, Nunes comes into this fight on a two-fight losing streak. Having only fought once in the past three years due to becoming a mother, Nunes will look to the Flyweight division to rejuvenate her career.

This is solid matchmaking, as both former Strawweights desperately need to get their careers back on track. Calvillo is a grappler, who has often dismissed that part of her game, electing to strike instead. While Calvillo can hold her own on the feet, it’s her ground game that has been at the center of her success. Hoping Calvillo abandons grappling is Nunes, who is a striker by trade. An active on at that, as she is landing 4.64 significant strikes per fifteen minutes. Still working on her defensive wrestling, Nunes sports a pretty good 76% takedown defense.

As for a prediction, I have Nunes winning. While Calvillo may finally grapple and see success, I can’t trust her to actually do so. Time and time again, Calvillo has abandoned her strength and instead decides to get into a firefight on the feet. Nunes being the better in that aspect gives me hope that she will prevail for the first time in over three years via decision.


155 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. Charlie Ontiveros – A bonus could be in store for the winner of this fight in the Lightweight division, as Gabriel Benitez takes on Charlie Ontiveros. A loser of four of the last five fights, with three of them resulting in stoppages, Benitez heads into this bout with his UFC tenure likely on the line. Known to avoid the judges, Benitez has seen eight of his twelve UFC fights inside the distance. Meanwhile, Ontiveros returns to the octagon seeking his first UFC victory. Hoping the third time is the charm, Ontiveros has to avoid the result of yet another chaotic fight ending in his demise. With his last eight fights ending inside the distance though and given his style, the chaos part is unavoidable.

In a fight bound to end inside the distance, the money seems to be on Benitez who scores the victory. However, on a whim, I’m going with Ontiveros. While seemingly lacking durability, Ontiveros is a buzzsaw in the opening segments of the round. Holding his hands down low and in a karate stance, Ontiveros looks to catch his opponents on the outside. Massive for the weight class, Ontiveros holds a six inch height and five inch reach advantage in this fight. An area which should help him land on the iffy chin of Benitez. The only concern outside of Ontiveros’ durability, is if Benitez wrestles. However, given Benitez has attempted only two takedowns in twelve UFC fights, I’d say it’s highly unlikely. So with that said, give me the upset minded Ontiveros to score his first UFC victory via knockout.

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125 lbs.: Tyson Nam vs. Ode Osbourne – We have a scrap in the Flyweight division, as Ode Osbourne takes on Tyson Nam. After a slow start, that saw Osbourne drop two of his first three UFC fights, the Jamaican has bounced back with two straight wins. Looking impressive as ever in his most recent performance, which resulted in a 61 second knockout victory, Osbourne returns to the octagon with an opportunity to make a case that he belongs among the top fifteen of the division. Meanwhile, Nam will need to shake off the cobwebs. Out of action for nineteen months, Nam returns to the octagon looking to get back on track. Having dropped his most recent fight against Matt Schnell via split decision, Nam saw a two-fight win streak end.

A well traveled an experienced fighter, Nam has made his mark in the UFC with two knockout victories. However, Nam’s power has seemed to be his only route to victory, as his low output and horrendous 31% significant striking accuracy just hasn’t cut it. Against Osbourne, who is active, more accurate and technical on the feet, I envision a rough night at the office for Nam. Obviously Nam has a puncher’s chance, but that’s been the case in most of his fights. With that said, I expect Osbourne to use his jab often and rack up the strikes in a one-sided decision victory.


170 lbs.: Josh Quinlan vs. Jason Witt – We have a clash in the Welterweight division, as Jason Witt takes on promotional newcomer Josh Quinlan. Trading wins and losses for the past six fights, with five of those fights coming in the UFC, Witt has had trouble finding his footing inside the octagon. Nearing thirty-six years old, Witt needs to start stringing together wins. Otherwise, he’s going to continue getting booked in stepping stone fights like this. Meanwhile, after a lengthy suspension due to a positive drug test, Quinlan finally will make his long awaited debut. Undefeated and coming off a 47-second knockout over Logan Urban on Dana White’s Contender Series, which later was reversed to a no contest after the positive drug test, Quinlan bring about a violence to the octagon that will make him a fan favorite in no time.

This fight should be fun for as long as it last. Witt, is primarily a wrestler. A good one at that, as he is landing 6.89 takedown’s per fifteen minutes at a 48% accuracy. Having landed twelve takedown’s over the past two fights, Witt hasn’t been met with too much resistance. What has been problematic though for Witt, is maintaining control and avoiding being hit when on the feet. With an iffy chin, which has been the crux of all three UFC losses, Witt can’t afford to strike. Especially in this fight, as Quinlan brings the heat. Known to not mince words inside the octagon, the always violent Quinlan looks to put away opponents as quick as possible. With a tendency to start fast and having heavy hands, it’s no surprise that Quinlan has a 100% finishing rate.

In a fight bound to end early, I have Quinlan making a splash in his debut. While Witt has the wrestling chops and could see some success early, his failure to control fighters on the ground and lack of durability make him very untrustworthy. Throw in the fact that Quinlan starts fast and throws bombs and I believe this fight ends inside the opening round. So with that said, I predict that Quinlan wins via knockout.


135 lbs.: Da’Mon Blackshear vs. Youssef Zalal – We have an intriguing fight in the Bantamweight division, as Youssef Zalal takes on newcomer Da’Mon Blackshear. A loser of three straight, albeit against stiff competition, Zalal returns to the octagon seeking a victory. Seemingly undoing the four-fight win streak prior to the skid, Zalal will have to prove himself against a debutant in Blackshear. A well traveled fighter, Blackshear has competed for Bellator, Titan FC and CFFC. Currently on a four-fight win streak, with three of the fights ending via submission, Blackshear heads into his debut with solid momentum.

A Champion for CFFC, Blackshear appears UFC ready. Known for his grappling and very active in grappling competitions, Blackshear’s best work in the cage comes on the mat. With eight of his twelve wins coming via submission, it would be wise to avoid tangling with Blackshear on the ground. Evolving on the feet, as well as with good durability and decent cardio, Blackshear should find success in the octagon. Hoping that success won’t come too quickly is Zalal. A well rounded fighter, Zalal has proven that he is capable wherever the fight goes. With a emphasis on mixing his attack, Zalal does a good job notching a few takedowns throughout the fight. The one problem that has seemingly plagued Zalal though, is inactivity. Landing only 2.51 significant strikes per minute, don’t expect Zalal to light you up like a Christmas tree throughout the fight.

As for a prediction, I’m siding with Zalal. Known to be a tough out and having faced tougher competition of late, I’m certain that Zalal will pull out all the stops to put an end to this three-fight skid. While I am slightly concerned about his takedown defense and Blackshear’s grappling, Zalal has never been submitted or stopped in his career. Given his well rounded abilities and the sheer dog in him, I expect Zalal to get the better of Blackshear on the feet and perhaps mix in a few takedowns en route to a decision victory.

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