Predictions for one of the most loaded cards you will ever see that isn’t a PPV. Top to bottom this card has fights worth making sure you are watching from the go. Bare with me on the order of the card as UFC’s site and MMA Junkie have the order one way and ESPN and MMA fighting have the card another. I am going to go with ESPN’s order since the card is on ESPN they should have the appropriate order.
Prelims on ESPN+ @ 5PM/ET:
Tyson Nam (19-11-1) vs. Jerome Rivera (10-2): We kick off the night in the bantamweight division. This fight is going to be a battle of contracting fight styles. Rivera is debuting in the UFC following a dominant decision win on the contender series. He will have a 4-inch reach advantage in wingspan and leg length. I would say it gives him a true advantage in this fight but Rivera is better on the ground and will look to get the fight there. His opponent Tyson Nam is a 3-fight veteran in the UFC who has struggled to find his way. He will need to keep this fight on the feet and if he does so while applying pressure, he should find himself successful at the end of the night. This fight will go the distance as both will find their moments in a fight that might be a little slow. I believe in the end Nam will pick up a close split decision victory.
Darrick Minner (24-11) vs. T.J. Laramie (12-3): We move along to the featherweight division in this one. I believe this fight could be as one sided as the odds makers have this one. Darrick Minner is a good fighter who has stopped 21 of his 24 professional fights on the mat, but his stand up is not UFC level. T.J. Laramie is someone I am personally really excited to see in the UFC. If his contender series fight was a glimpse of what to expect, watch out UFC featherweights. Laramie is debuting following a fight where he forced a doctor stoppage after the first round. Laramie is a phenomenal striker with great ability to apply pressure with a very underrated ground game. I have hinted at this fights direction and my prediction is very much that, Laramie wins via 1st round TKO late round 1.
Andre Ewell (16-6) vs. Irwin Rivera (10-5): Back to bantamweight we go in what should be a fun fight. Irwin enters the third fight of his UFC career and will be the biggest test in his entire career. He is 1-1 in the UFC coming off a very close split decision win. Rivera is going to have a tough time in this fight as he enters with a 9-inch reach disadvantage and will need to keep this fight inside a phonebooth. If Rivera can keep this fight in close he will have a slight advantage in this one. Ewell will enter this fight the big time favorite. His skill set is the better of the two, plus his reach advantage. The only concern Ewell will have is that if this fight gets in tight and they exchange in tight. Ewell has struggled some with fighters applying pressure and getting in close, otherwise he has been completely dominant when using his range. I think this fight could be fun early but Ewell will pick up a 2nd round submission once Rivera applies pressure Ewell will find a takedown and dominate on the mat before locking in a RNC.
Journey Newson (9-2) vs. Randy Costa (5-1): Back into the bantamweight division we go for one of the closest fights on the card. Journey is going to have to overcome a 6.5-inch reach advantage in this fight. Journey is overall a very balanced fighter who has struggled to find consistency in the UFC. Journey will have the advantage on the mat and if he can successfully close the distance and bring the fight to the mat he will win. Costa is a great fighter for the fans as he has finished all 5 of his professional wins via KO/TKO. Costa has to keep this fight standing though as his one loss was via RNC and didn’t look comfortable at all on the mat. Costa has the reach advantage and a striking advantage in this fight which I believe he will use well. Randy Costa wins this one as the underdog in round 3 via KO.
Jessica-Rose Clark (9-6) vs. Sarah Alpar (9-4): The first fight in the women’s divisions in the UFC takes place in the bantamweight division between a veteran of the UFC and a new comer. Sarah enters her UFC debut following a contender series submission win in August. Sarah will need shake her cage jitters early as Jessica’s veteran presence will be pushing to turn around her 2 straight losses. This fight is going to be a test to honestly see who belongs in the UFC’s bantamweight division. Alpar could find great success on the mat in this fight, if she can manage to overcome Jessica’s pressure and strength. I believe this fight will reach the judges score card in a fight that struggles to excite the fans but shows some MMA skills. I have Jessica-Rose Clark winning this one via dicision.
Mayra Bueno Silva (6-1) vs. Mara Romero Borella (12-8, 2NC): We move right along on the card to the women’s flyweight division. This fight should be pretty open and close as Mayra Silva should dominate this fight. Borella’s sint in the UFC has been rough as she has gone 2-4 inside the octagon and unfortunately with a loss will most likely find herself without a UFC job. Marya will use her Muay Thai skills to outstrike Borella in round 1 and then lockup a submission in round 2.
Mirsad Bektic (13-3) vs. Damon Jackson (17-3-1): The featherweight division takes the spotlight here in what should be a much closer fight than the odds makers are saying as they have Bektic significantly here. I am not saying Bektic won’t or can’t win, but it won’t be domination. Damon enters his UFC debut with a tough test, but his dominance on the mat makes him a threat at all times with or without control. Damon will need to pace himself and avoid Bektic power shots while looking for a takedown opportunity because his dominance on the mat is his best chance to win this fight. Now Bektic was seen as a threat in the featherweight division before his two fight losing streak to Ige and Emmett. Now Bektic looks to get back on track and can do so confidently if he keeps this fight standing and uses his striking skill-set. This will be a back and forth battle early as both fighters try to get the fight where they are most comfortable. Bektic I believe gets comfortable on his feet in round 2 and picks up a knockdown and finishes with ground and pound.
#13 Jordan Espinosa (15-7) vs. #14 David Dvorak (18-3): The main event of the prelims is going to be one hell of a fight in the flyweight division. This fight is going to be back and forth between two guys trying to climb the growing flyweight division. Espinosa needs a win to stay ranked in this division and the way to do that for him is probably get top control on the mat. Espinosa is a good fighter, but needs to find a way to keep fights from the judges score card as he will realize they are unreliable. Espinosa is most comfortable when a fight finds the mat and will pace himself and shoot if he has an opportunity. Now his opponent Dvorak is my personal pick to make a title run in the future and probably hold the belt some day. Dvorak hasn’t lost a fight professionally since 2012 and is currently riding a 14 fight win streak. This fight is interesting because when it goes to ground it is a toss up on who has the better talent, but standing this fight is entirely in Dvorak’s wheelhouse. I am so excited for this fight as it is a true showing for whoever wins this fight that they are true contenders ready for a top 8 fight. I believe Dvorak will roll and pick up a 2nd round TKO stoppage as his momentum and striking skill-set is just too hard to bet against.
Main Card 8PM/ET on ESPN+:
Kevin Holland (18-5) vs. Darren Stewart (12-5): We kick off the main card in the middleweight division in what should be an exciting fight start to finish, which most likely won’t go 15 minutes. This should be an all out brawl between two incredibly talented, fast handed, power strikers looking to knock the other ones head off and get themselves ranked in this division. I am interested to see who can take the bigger shot as both will have to in this fight to land successfully during this fight. Holland will have a 7-inch reach advantage in this fight which during a striking battle could be huge, Holland by TKO in round 3.
#15 Mackenzie Dern (8-1) vs. Randa Markos (10-9-1): We move to the women’s strawweight division for this next fight. Dern is hungry and since having her daughter seemingly more motivated than ever to be a true title contender. Markos will most likely need to clinch and make this a grind it out type fight to survive as Derns hands are heavy and her submission skills are as elite as it gets in this division. I believe Dern will use her strength and size to keep Markos from turning this into a clinch war and pick up a submission win in round 1.
#11 Johnny Walker (17-5) vs. #12 Ryan Spann (18-5): The next fight takes place in the light heavyweight division and will be a complete contrast in fight styles. Johnny is all about putting on a show for the fans and getting KO finishes as his striking skills are elite, but his ability to fight on the mat and off his back is weak. He claims he has refocused his life as he changed coaching, management, and stopped partying to focus his career on his fighting. Spann is a power wrestler with average striking but great takedowns and ground and pound. He will look to use his skill-set and close the distance for a takedown and dominate Johnny proving he is the next big thing in this division not Walker. This fight is extremely close on the betting line, and rightfully so as I am torn picking a winner here. If Johnny really changed his lifestyle and entire focus entering this fight I will take that as the edge here and take Johnny Walker to pick up a decision victory.
Khamzat Chimaev (8-0) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (31-13): Oh man the trash talk between the two picked up hard when Dana said Chimaev will fight again in a few weeks, as Meerschaert took it personally as an assumption that Dana thinks Chimaev will win this fight with no issues. Meerschaert a blackbelt in jiu-jitsu and might try to rely on that to win this fight. Khamzat comes in with a crazy amount of hype as some are comparing him to Khabib and this will be his toughest test yet. He has shown so far he is an aggressive fighter with incredible wrestling, takedown, and striking abilities. I struggle to find a way for Meerschaert to be safe from his dominant style of fighting and see Khamzat grabbing a second round TKO from ground and pound following a pickup slam takedown.
#14 Donald Cerrone (36-15) vs. Niko Price (14-4): The co-main event takes place in the welterweight division and could be a fight of the year contender. Niko Price is one of the most, if not the most, entertaining fighters on the entire UFC roster and he comes into this fight against Cerrone with the potential to show the world he can handle a legend. Cerrone has started to show the insane amounts of fights he has taken during his career are catching up to him, but if he rewinds the clock for this fight, we will see Cerrone in possibly the most entertaining fight of his entire legendary career. I don’t think we will see either fighter go to the mat as they will look to making this a fun, crazy, and wild striking exchange. I believe Price’s hunger and current skill-set is better than Cerrone’s at this point in his career. Niko Price picks up a unanimous decision win in a bloody crazy war between the legend and himself.
#2 Colby Covington (15-2) vs. #5 Tyron Woodley (19-5-1): The main event of the evening is a feud as bad as it comes in the UFC, since arguably Diaz vs McGregor. Unfortunately it comes too late in Woodley’s career. Woodley has seemingly lost that fire and aggression that made him a champion in the UFC. Unless T-Wood finds that fire and pressure he used to fight with he will get buried in this fight. I hate Covington, his personality and act, but his talent is top of the line. Covington is a great striker and a phenomenal wrestler. He is probably the only person in the UFC who can compete with Usman in this division right now. If we get the Woodley of old, which this rivalry could provide it, we will see another possible fight of the year candidate. I am excited for this fight as I personally hope we see the Woodley of old as I was a big time fan when he fought with fire and passion. I will have to pick though based off the fighters we have seen most recently and believe Covington will absolutely dominate Woodley into retirement with a 2nd round TKO from ground and pound following a beautiful takedown.