MLB season in trouble 3 days in

After three games we have come to a place where we could see the season just be cancelled.

The Marlin’s have had a pandemic breakout of COVID-19. Reporter John Heyman has confirmed 40% of the Marlin’s roster has tested positive for COVID-19. 4 more players have been added to that list after this weekend’s games. They said at least 8 more have been added since as well.

Their game today has been cancelled which was their home opener against the Orioles. Karl Ravech of ESPN has confirmed commissioner Manfred has the power to suspend/cancel the season if a team or teams suffer an outbreak and competitive integrity is compromised. I would call 40% of a roster to be that and coaches as well being affected. Expect more news as the day goes on.

Cover photo from: Valley News Live

Jamal Adams traded!!

New York Jets Safety who has been vocally unhappy with the Jets has been traded to Seattle giving the Seahawks one of the best safeties in the NFL.

The deal according to Adam Schefter is as follows:

The Jets recieve: Bradley McDougald (Safety) who becomes a free agent at the end of this season. They also recieve a 2021 1st round pick, 2021 third round pick, and a 2022 1st round pick.

The Seahawks recieve: Jamal Adams and a 4th round pick in 2022.

The Jets and Seahawks play this year in Seattle which could be really interesting now.

Feature Photo- The Jet Press

UFC Whittaker vs Till

I am doing fight predictions slightly different this week as some will have in-depth analysis while others will be thinner.

Prelims; @5PM/ET on ESPN/ESPN+

Wood vs. Castaneda. From MMA Junkie

Nathaniel Wood (16-4) vs. John Castaneda (17-4): This is the first fight on the card and should be a great card. The reason this is one of my two prelims to watch is simply Nathaniel Wood. He is a top prospect in the UFC and his career is bright as can be. His opponent is a new comer to the UFC. John is coming in with a massive underdog status. He comes into this fight off an impressive victory in which he picked up a arm triangle choke submission in the second round. He is ranked as one of the top american bantamweights in the world that isn’t in the UFC. I do think Castaneda could be good in the UFC, but Wood is a top level striker with great ground game skills and the ability and desire to finish a fight anywhere. I believe Wood will stop him in round 2 via TKO and get himself back on track in the UFC bantamweight division.

Ramazan Emeev (18-4) vs. Niklas Stolze (12-3): We move on to the welterweight division in what should be an interesting fight. Niklas is another debut fighter to the UFC roster. Stolze is a good fighter who I truly believe belongs on the UFC roster win or loss in this fight. Niklas trains in the same gym as McGregor, Dillon Danis, and Artem Lobov. He has great coaching and can truly bring some underrated promise. His opponent Emeev has had success in the UFC and trains out of ATT. He needs to prevent being upset here if he wants to get back on track in this division after his decision loss to Anthony Rocco Martin. This fight will most likely go the distance though I believe Emeev survives this fight via 29-28 unanimous decision victory.

Correia vs. Kianzad. Photo- MMA Junkie

#13 Bethe Correia (11-4-1) vs. Pannie Kianzad (13-5): The first woman’s fight of two on the card takes place in the bantamweight division. Pannie is 1-2 in the UFC and desperately needs a win to remain employed by the top MMA organization in the world. The formula for beating Bethe is always going to be the same thing, push the pace, don’t let her get comfortable and land her kicks. If Pannie keeps Bethe backing up she will dominate this fight and pick up a much needed and crucial win. Bethe is going to need to avoid being backed down, if she pushes the pace and uses her kicks she will absolutely dominate and stop this fight early. Bethe is my pick to win here as I believe she will land some leg kicks early and stop Pannie from being able to move forward and produce much. Bethe wins this fight in round 3 via TKO following a beautiful headkick.

Tanner Boser (18-6-1) vs. Raphael Pessoa Nunes (10-1): A heavyweight brawl between two men looking to stop the other as both have a finish rate above 50%. Both fighters only loss in the UFC comes to Ciryl Gane who is a top rising UFC prospect. I think in this fight Tanner has an advantage in the striking exchanges as far as skills go while Nunes will most likely have the power advantage. The longer this fight goes I believe Boser has the advantage as his gas tank is better and would be able to pick apart Nunes more as the fight continues. Don’t be shocked though to see Nunes land a couple big staggering blows, but Boser wins this fight surviving the damage and picks up a 30-27 decision victory.

Evloev vs. Grundy. Photo- MMA Junkie

Movsar Evloev (12-0) vs. Mike Grundy (12-1): This fight is going to be an interesting one in the featherweight division. Evloev needs to keep this fight standing to use his advantage in striking to win this fight. Grundy will hold a superior advantage on his opponent if this fight goes to ground though and would probably lock up a submission shortly after the fight hits the mat. The odds makers have a fairly good favorite on Evolev in this one, but I personally have Grundy winning via 2nd round submission victory.

Tom Aspinall (7-2) vs. Jake Collier (11-4): This fight in the heavyweight division should honestly end pretty fast. Collier is coming off a 30 month layoff from the MMA world and is set to return to fight a top prospect in the heavyweight division. Aspinall is a man with a 100% finish rate and a powerful dominant fight style. I truly believe Aspinall has this fight easily under control and picks up a win in the first round within three minutes. Aspinall by 1st round TKO.

Nicolas Dalby (18-3-1-1) vs. Jesse Ronson (21-10): The welterweight division takes the spotlight here as we watch two fighters who have struggled in the UFC. We haven’t seen Ronson since 2014 inside the UFC octagon. Dalby had a successful return after a three year hiatus against Alex Oliveira last year. Both fighters will be in need of a win to keep a spot on the roster. Dalby does hold a draw against Till in his UFC career which is something that shows his abilities and potential. Ronson is coming into this fight 1-2 in his last three outside the UFC, which makes his appearance here even more surprising. I have Dalby winning this fight via decision 30-26 unanimous.

Trinaldo vs. Herbert. Photo- MMA Junkie

Francisco Trinaldo (25-7) vs. Jai Herbert (10-1): The main event of the prelims takes place in the lightweight division. Jai is a UFC newcomer with a high ceiling and a 90% finish rate. His one career loss comes to a UFC debut fighter fighting on the same card, Rhys McKee. Jai is incredibly talented with a very underrated ground game due to his dominant striking. Trinaldo is still a very dangerous fighter at the age of 41. Trinaldo is going to need to push the pace to avoid Jai from getting comfortable and dominating this fight. Trinaldo comes into this fight as a slight favorite due to his veteran skill-set and UFC cage experience. I believe the odds makers have this one wrong and would feel comfortable betting on Jai, Herbert wins this one in round 1 via TKO.

UFC Main Card @ 8 PM/ET on ESPN/ESPN+:

Chimaev vs. McKee. Photo- MMA Junkie

Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) vs. Rhys McKee (10-2): We start the main card off in the welterweight division. This fight has the potential for FOTN and possibly a POTN. Rhys is a good fighter who is debuting with a tough test ahead of him. Rhys is a 24 year old prospect in the welterweight division. He has a 100% finish rate with a great skill set to be dominant in the UFC. His opponent Khamzat made his debut 10 days ago with an impressive second round submission victory. Khamzat has the potential of a future champion in the UFC who might remain undefeated on the path to said belt. This fight is honestly going to be incredible as either fighter could truly pull of a great victory and move towards the rankings already as they both come in with promise. Khamzat wins this fight via 3rd round submission victory following a knockdown and taking McKee’s back.

Oliveira vs. Sobotta. Photo- MMA Junkie

Alex Oliveira (20-8-1, 2NC) vs. Peter Sobotta (17-5-1): This fight in the welterweight division is probably going to avoid the inconsistent and horrendous judges score cards. I believe this will be stopped as we have two fighters who love making the fans watching around the world tweet about. Sobotta will look to get Alex to the mat and land a submission. Alex is going to hope Sobotta will stand and exchange as that is his element and honestly where he just seems to have fun, which is great for the UFC. I am really excited for this fight, but I believe Alex Oliveira gets the win after being taken down a few times he gets a needed round 3 TKO after two tight rounds.

Craig vs. Antigulov. Photo- MMA Junkie

Paul Craig (12-4-1) vs. Gadhimurad Antigulov (20-6): This LHW fight just like the previous fight will most likely avoid the score card of the fairly unreliable judges. I believe both fighters will be looking for a way to get this fight to the ground as their submissions prowess is undeniable. The question is who gets this fight to the ground and do they hold the advantage on the mat. I think this one has an intersting finish, Gadhimurad I believe gets the takedown but Craig locks in the arm triangle submission from the bottom in round 2.

Esparza vs Rodriguez. Photo- MMA Junkie

#7 Carla Esparza (17-6) vs. #9 Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2): Along to the strawweight division we go. Carla is rolling as of late going 3-0 of late. She is going to need to show the type of fighting that earned her the first ever strawweight title if she wants any chance of beating the uprising star Marina Rodriguez. Marina is going to look to try and take Carla off her feet and lock in a submission. Carla is a great stand-up fighter who locks in the clinch a lot and lands short close shots. If Marina can out muscle Carla she will win this fight which I believe she will do and pick up an impressive decision win.

Werdum vs. Gustafsson. Photo- MMA Junkie

#14 Fabricio Werdum (23-8-1) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (18-6): This fight is what the fans have been dying for, Gustafsson’s heavyweight debut and against a legend. Werdum has struggled of late and with a loss here should consider taking off the gloves and go into retirement with his head held high as one of the top heavyweights in UFC history. Werdum could welcome Gus to the UFC heavyweight division with some powerful takedowns and grind out Gus, who himself hasn’t looked great his last couple fights. I hope for Gus’ sake the new division is the change he needed and we get to see his superior striking on display and see him comfortable again in the UFC octagon. This fight will have his moments, Gustafsson is my pick to win via decision, 30-27 making a dominant heavyweight debut.

Shogun vs Lil Nog. Photo- MMA Junkie

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (26-11-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-9): The co-main event of the evening is the third time we have seen these two legends battle it out. This is Nogueira’s final fight of his legendary career and quite possibly the final fight of Shogun’s legendary career. This fight will most likely be close while Nog will look for a power KO while Shogun will look to dominate the fight with his pressure. I love both of these guys as they are a large part of the reason many of us are fans of the UFC today and the current roster looked up to as well. I think Shogun goes 3-0 in this trilogy as he is 4-1-1 in his last 6 fights as Nog has been inconsistent towards the end of his career. Shogun wins this fight via unanimous decision.

Whittaker vs Till. Photo- MMA Junkie

#1 Robert Whittaker (21-5) vs. #5 Darren Till (18-2-1): This welterweight main event is going to be a fun throw down for the fans. Whittaker the former champ enters this fight as the favorite which makes sense as stylistically this fight should be exactly the one he needs to get back on track. Till is going to need to utilize his kicks and chop at Whittakers legs to be able to take advantage of this fight. If he does so he has a great chance at winning this fight if it stays standing. Whittaker is going to be able to use his fast striking and look to dominate with his power. If he takes down Till this fight is 100% his as his ground and pound is the most dominant in the entire division, especially against Till whose ground game is arguably second worst in the ranked division with exception to the champion. I think this fight has moments where Till looks dominant, but Whittaker wins via 4th round TKO from elbows on top. Whittaker with this win deserves a title shot no offense to Hermannson.

  • Matt Koontz

feature photo- Joe Devlin Twitter

Opening day season forecast

Photo credit – MLB

As many of you know the MLB season is down to 60 games due to issues with COVID-19 and the MLB battling the MLBPA for so long on a fair length of season. They all finally settled on 60 games so here is my shortened season prediction.

AL EAST:

photo- offthebenchbaseball

#1. NY Yankees (42-18): The Yankees are poised for a great run in their division as 3 of their in division teams are weak while 2 rebuild and the Red Sox are just spinning their wheels. Their roster is elite and will cover for their rotation that really only has two + arms.

#2. Tampa Bay Rays (39-21): The Rays are the only team in this division with the pitching and bats to compete with the Yankees. They won’t win the division but they will fight all season long.

#3. Toronto Blue Jays (31-29): The Jays aren’t playoff ready but their rebuild is honestly going great. They have kept veteran pieces to help their youth talent transition and adjust to the majors. I believe if they can add a few FA’s in the off-season they could be competitive next year for the division.

#4. Boston Red Sox (28-32): The Red Sox unless they spend money are bound for mediocrity. They have no real farm system, their pitching staff is ROUGH, their bats took a big hit with the loss of Mookie Betts. This is going to be a rough time to be a Red Sox fan.

#5. Baltimore Orioles (25-35): The Orioles organization has a whole lot to be excited about moving forward. They have drafted exceptionally well in the past 3 years and have a youth movement on the way. They will have to grind through this season and without Mancini 25 wins is probably optimistic, but I have a weird feeling this year they compete more then expected by most so call me optimistic.

AL Central:

photo- Baseball Farm

#1. Minnesota Twins (39-21): The Twins will win a tight divisional race thanks to a shortened season giving their power bats and great top of the rotation a chance to dominate early. They are still a fairly young team so I expect there to be ups and downs but still strong enough to win this division and make the playoffs.

#2. Cleveland Indians (36-24): The Indians are in a weird position where it seems like they are trying to compete and rebuild all at once and it won’t work. They will finish +500 this year due to good arms and a few good bats, but they have some work to do.

#3. Chicago White Sox (31-29): Look I am not buying what they are selling. Yes they have done contract cheap which is great but is the talent really their as far as pitching goes. I say its really not. Giolito had a great year last year, but look at his previous year. I believe in showing consistency before buying it’s there. The White Sox could very well prove me wrong, but for now they are just above .500.

#4. Kansas City Royals (20-40): This team is bad and honestly their farm system is far from relevant. They have Bobby Witt but along way to go. Their roster has a few pieces left on it they could sell for prospects, but they will struggle all season long. Thankfully for them they play in the same division as the Tigers.

#5. Detroit Tigers (16-44): Hold on to your faith Detroit fans, your team is building its future pieces slowly. This year is going to be a true test of your faith but next year they will improve some and continue to do so.

AL West:

photo – Betting Brain

#1. Houston Astros (38-22): The Astros might cheat, but their talent still wins games without it. I think they do well for themselves this season as they try to distance themselves from their tainted years.

#2. LA Angels (35-25): The Angels are not a great team, but they have really solid pieces. They do seem to be stuck in the limbo of battling for a top 3 spot in the West every year and unable to be considered a favorite even with Mike Trout. I blame that on the pitching and lack of depth to their bats.

#3. Oakland Athletics (32-28): The A’s are a good team, but not a playoff team this year. They always do better than people think their roster is set up to do, Billy Beane take a bow every year man. Anyway the A’s have a shot at winning a few more than this, but I feel safe saying they are a 32-28 team this season with hopes at the playoffs next season.

#4. Texas Rangers (26-34): The Rangers are in need of a rebuild as a lot of their talent has left via FA or retirement. They have some pieces to build around and wouldn’t need a full rebuild, but shouldn’t expect to be competitive for a few years. They will win some close games though this year and show promise to a future in their new stadium.

#5. Seattle Mariners (23-37): Oh Seattle, I wish we could see you guys finally cross the line to a true competitor, but you are headed the other direction as of late. You clearly have started a rebuild which is good because the city and dedicated Mariner fans deserve to see this team get the glory they have long awaited. Keep waiting Mariner fans it will come soon enough.

NL East:

Photo- 247 sports

#1. Atlanta Braves (41-19): The Braves are a top 2 team in the National league and should dominate the East. Their roster is stacked from arms to bats with a bright future all in the mold. This organization has done a phenomenal job building a true dynasty which they will soon realize.

#2. Philadelphia Phillies (37-23): The Phils have the arms and bats to have a great year. I do not think they are World Series bound but they are surely playoff contenders. They have 0 reasons to miss out on that this year.

#3. Washington Nationals (33-27): The Nationals are reigning champs, though the loss of Rendon will hurt this team, I feel they are still bound for a good season. I do think the loss of Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman (sitting out 2020 due to COVID) will hurt their chances of a repeat entirely though.

#4. New York Mets (24-36): They definitely need a new owner and direction at this club as they aren’t headed anywhere spectacular anytime soon. This season they will feel the loss of Noah Syndergaard as well. Sorry Mets fans, but this season will not be fun.

#5. Miami Marlins (21-39): They are going to have a bad season due to having no arms. The pitching in Miami has been a problem for a while though and they have added some pieces to improve that in the minors, but it will be a year or two until that shows itself in the majors.

NL Central:

Photo- Baseball Reflections

#1. STL Cardinals (38-22): The Cardinals are a good team in a very competitive division, but I believe they come out on top due to the deeper roster. Their arms from the top of the rotation to the bottom of the rotation are just better than their divisional competition.

#2. Cincinnati Reds (35-25): The Reds are considered an underdog favorite for the World Series, but I don’t see it. They are a good team but they aren’t among the MLB elite. The Reds have a great set of bats though and could hit their way to a top spot in this division if their pitching surprises me.

#3. Milwaukee Brewers (34-26): The Brewers are a good team, possibly a playoff team, but with a shortened season their small inconsistencies are going to bite them at the end of the season when it comes down to it.

#4. Chicago Cubs (29-31): The Cubs are some peoples favorites to win the division, I have to ask if they have watched baseball the last two years. The Cubs are a team in dire need of a tear down as their pitching is gone or old. Their hitting has some phenomenal pieces but is shallow at the bottom of their lineup and will cost them.

#5. Pittsburgh Pirates (13-47): The Pirates are my pick for the worst team in baseball. I almost considered single digit wins, that is how bad this team is. They have three players to excite you and the rest of their roster as their salary payment would indicate is average or below average. I feel this season is going to be a real eye opener for the Pirate fans.

NL West:

Photo- Bleacher report

#1 LA Dodgers (44-16): The Dodgers are my top pick in baseball this season. Their roster is loaded in talent top to bottom and still have a couple top prospects left to show. The Dodgers should be the favorite to win the series this year and finish with the best record in the league.

#2. Arizona Diamondbacks (33-27): The D-Backs aren’t quite a playoff team but a decent team in a division with a lot of struggling teams. The D-Backs look to show the additions of Mad-Bum and Starling Marte could give them a re-routed direction to a competitive future soon.

#3. Colorado Rockies (26-34): The Rockies are going to have moments this year that show they have talent, but their arms are inconsistent and will fail them. I do love their lineup and hope they can turn around this franchise soon.

#4. San Diego Padres (25-35): This team could honestly surprise me and many others and wind up +10 from where I have them predicted. I just need to see it before I believe in it. I like their talent and the youth in their system as well.

#5. San Francisco Giants (22-38): The Giants are one of the teams in baseball currently at the beginning of the tear down and rebuild process as this year is the first year of that movement. They will steal some wins with their relatively weak division, but are bound for the bottom of this division.

Feature Photo – Ontapsportsnet

Top 5 QB’s 5 years from now.

There are plenty of QB’s that have top 5 potential but there are 5 current players that stand out to me. I am excluding college players from this list.

  1. Patrick Mahomes

This one is obvious. Pat is currently the best in the game and shows no sign of that changing any time soon.

2. Deshaun Watson

Deshaun has been a top 10 QB for a couple years now and is only 24 years old. He will be in the prime of his career in 5 years.

3. Carson Wentz

Wentz will keep away from injuries that plagued the beginning of his career and regain his 2017 MVP contender form. Expect big things from Carson in the future.

4. Lamar Jackson

I’m kinda torn on Jackson. I expect NFL defenses to figure him out in the coming years but he was too good last year to not include him on this list. He should be a solid QB for years to come.

5. Joe Burrow

I think Joe has everything a great QB needs in the NFL. HE showed it when he lead the best offense in NCAA history. I expect a nice career from Joe.

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez

These are my predictions for Saturday, 7/18/20, fight card which includes the flyweight belt in the main event. I will provide analysis in each fight and a break down of what we should expect.

UFC Prelims @ 5 PM/ET on ESPN/ESPN+:

Carlos Felipe (8-0) vs. Serghei Spivac (10-2): We start the night off in the heavyweight division. Serghei is considered to be a prospect in the thin heavyweight division, especially after beating Tai Tuivasa. He has been handed a couple top fighters in Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura in which he was unsuccessful. He continues to show improvement though and at 25 years of age he could have a good future in the UFC. He is a guy you will see bide his time and wait for his opportunity to get a take down as his ground game is elite and has picked up 6 of his 10 wins by way of submission. His opponent Carlos Felipe is new to the UFC. I do worry about his first appearance with octagon jitters and the fact that he hasn’t had an mma fight since May 2017. Felipe though is going to have the edge standing, once he shakes the rust and jitters. This fight is going to be a normal battle of opposite comfort levels. I think we could see a bit of a slow fight and Spivac will benefit with a late round 3 submission victory.

Ramos vs. Tsarukyan. Photo- MMA Junkie

Davi Ramos (10-3) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (14-2): We move on to the lightweight division in what could be one of the better fights on the undercard. Both of the fighters are bound for rankings and a potential run at the title some day in the future. Davi is a veteran of the octagon who was either ranked or a win away from being ranked before he took a loss to Islam Makhachev by decision. Davi needs to improve his stand up to move forward in this division as he tends to rely on his superior ground game and submission skills to get a win. HIs opponent Arman is a more well-rounded fighter with a higher ceiling. Arman comes into this fight off an impressive win over Aubin-Mercier. Arman is only 23 years of age and has a lot of promise to get a title around his waist in the future. Tsarukyan is going to need to apply the pressure in this fight to prevent Ramos from feeling safe shooting for a takedown and if he does that he is going to probably dominate this fight. Tsarukyan will win this fight in the 2nd round via TKO and put the 10-15 ranked lightweights on notice.

Malcolm Gordon (12-3) vs. Amir Albazi (12-1): The flyweight division is next to take the spotlight with two men making their debut in the UFC. Both guys have the skills to finish a fight which is always exciting in the flyweight division. This fight most likely won’t see the inconsistent and terrible judges scorecards. This fight will simply come down to who applies the pressure in this fight and controls it. Their skill set is equally well-rounded and could set up for a slow start to the fight as they try to figure each other out. Amir has impressed me more in what I have seen of him though stopping 11 of his 12 wins. Malcolm has stopped 10 of his 12 wins but all three of his losses from due to his chin being weaker. I feel that chin will be tested in this fight and cause him to pick up his 4th loss. Amir wins this one by round 2 KO.

Johns vs. Jackson. Photo – MMA Junkie

Brett Johns (16-2) vs. Montel Jackson (10-1): This fight in the bantamweight division should be fun for the fans at home, as both of these guys know how to put on a show. Montel Jackson will have a 4.5 inch reach advantage in this fight. Montel in rolling on a three fight win streak in the UFC. Jackson does tend to absorb as many shots as he lands which could be dangerous in this division loaded with power strikers. I believe he has the talent to develop into a star, but he needs to start applying his skills in fights early instead of picking shots. His opponent Brett Johns only losses have come to the elite of this division in Pedro Munhoz and Aljo Sterling. Johns is an interesting fighter who averages nearly 4 takedowns per fight but eats shots picking his spot for a takedown. Johns only averages 3 significant strikes per minute while eating 4.7 strikes per minute. He needs to raise his striking defense and find a way to get his takedowns without eating so many shots or he won’t be able to crack the top 10. I think this fight has dangerous moments for both but Montel Jackson survives and picks up a 29-28 decision victory.

Joe Duffy (16-4) vs. Joel Alvarez (16-2): This fight will take place in the lightweight division between a vet, Joe Duffy, and a fairly new fighter in the UFC, Alvarez. Alvarez lost his debut in a decision where he was just dominated in striking exchanges and the fight never reached the mat and bounced back with a round 2 TKO in his second fight. He is actually a very skilled submission specialist that has been showing improvement with his striking. Alvarez will hold a 4 inch reach advantage in this fight and could use that to dominate this one. Now his opponent Joe Duffy is far from a nobody as he was Conor McGregors loss pre-UFC via submission. Joe has had a rough go in the UFC of late, but don’t let that make you take him any less serious entering this one as he actually holds the advantage on the mat in this fight. I think in round one Duffy takes some shots figuring out how to close the distance but once he does he dominates the fight. Joe Duffy wins by round 3 submission.

Dawson vs. Narimani. Photo- MMA Junkie

Grant Dawson (15-1) vs. Nad Narimani (12-3): The next fight on the card is a catchweight fight at 150lbs. Nad is a solid well-rounded fighter who tends to score and go to decision but does so with a dominant performance. Nad will need to understand though that this fight will probably not make it to decision and use his offensive style striking to pick up a win early. His opponent is a true killer as Grant Dawson is a true threat to the 145LB belt or 155lb belt depending which division he decides to fight in moving forward. Grant is 4-0 since joining the UFC stopping three of those four through submission. Grant has true potential as we have seen his striking improve not tat he has needed it much. I think he will dominate this fight and pick up a round 1 submission victory via rear naked choke.

Roman Dolidze (6-0) vs. Khadis Ibragimov (8-2): The main event of the prelims takes place in the light heavyweight division. Roman is a debut fighter with an impressive resume. He isn’t only unbeaten, but he has stopped all 6 fights via 3 submissions and 3 TKO/KO’s. He makes his debut against a fighter needing a win to stay in the UFC. Khadis is entering this fight on a 0-2 run since joining the UFC with losses to Da Un Jung and Ed Herman. Khadis has never been taken down in his short UFC career, but he eats way too many strikes so far per fight to be successful in the UFC. He needs to have improved his striking defense to pick up a win this weekend. I don’t feel this is a good fight for him to look to turn things around. Roman Dolidze picks up the win in round 2 by submission after scoring a knockdown.

UFC Main Card @ 8 PM/ET on ESPN/ESPN+:

Pantoja vs. Askarov. Photo- MMA Junkie

#4 Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) vs. #7 Askar Askarov (11-0-1): We start the prelims in the flyweight division between two guys looking to make a statement for a title shot. Askar is coming off a hard fought win over Tim Elliot to put him right into the top of this divisions picture. Askar trains out of the same gym as UFC welterweight Muslim Salikhov and has shown he has the grit to make a serious contender in the flyweight division. His wrestling skill set is pretty incredible and could help him defend takedowns and feel comfortable in his stand up knowing he has that to lean on. His opponent Pantoja has all the skills to be a title contender now and with a win should get that shot. Pantoja is a very skilled well-rounded fighter with the determination to finish fights. Pantoja does alot of things well, the only issue I truly believe exists in his game is his takedown defense which could be a problem in this fight. Whenit comes down to it, I believe Pantoja suffers a scare but picks up a huge win for his career with a 30-27 decision win.

Lipski vs. Carolina. Photo- MMA Junkie

Ariane Lipski (12-5) vs. Luana Carolina (6-1): The women of the flyweight division take the stage here. Luana has only fought once in the UFC so far and it was in May 2019 in which she won, but it has been a while. Luana will have to step her game up to a new level as this is easily the toughest fight of her career. She has the skill set to be successful in the UFC. She does have a big test in Lipski though who has impressed me even in losses. Lipski does have a high finish rate in her MMA career, just not in the UFC which I feel she is looking to change. Lipski will look for her moment to land a takedown and grab a submission as I believe she has a massive advantage on the mat in this fight. In the end this fight will be close start to finish, Lipski will grab a late takedown to pick up a close 29-28 split decision victory.

Diakiese vs. Fiziev. Photo from MMA Junkie

Marc Diakiese (14-3) vs. Rafael Fiziev (6-1): We move closer to the main event with a great fight in the lightweight division. Fiziev is a Kazakhstani born fighter with a specialty in Muay Thai and trains out of Tiger Muay Thai in Thialand. We should expect to see him utilize his kicks and get to the clinch if possible when he can land elbows and show his dangerous skill set. Fiziev though with a Muay Thai background does have a fairly big weakness on the mat which someone like Diakiese can take advantage of. Marc is a good striker but he will have to apply pressure to beat the aggressive style of Rafael. If Diakiese applies the pressure he could neutralize Fiziev’s kicks and keep the fight the way he needs it to be successful. This fight will be back and forth, but I believe Diakiese pulls away some towards the end of the fight and picks up a decision victory.

Hermansson vs. Gastelum. Photo from MMA Junkie

#6 Jack Hermansson (20-4) vs. #7 Kelvin Gastelum (16-5-0-1): We have arrived at the co-main event of the evening between two of the top middleweights in the UFC. This fight is even on the betting odds entering Saturday. Kelvin is coming off a pair of losses and desperately needs to turn it around this weekend. Kelvin is a great fighter that can end a fight with a simple shot as he has sneaky power. Kelvin is a overrated wrestler though, and shouldn’t feel safe in this fight on the mat as I think his wrestling is inferior to Hermansson’s. Kelvin does have one hell of a chin which could help him tire Jack if he takes a heavy shot as he is not easy to put away. Entering this fight Hermansson has one HUGE advantage and that would be in way of his 6 inch reach advantage in this fight. I believe these two men have a exciting fight picking up FOTN honors when it’s all said and done , but the X-factor 6 inch reach gives Hermansson a KO victory in round 3. This will sadly end any future title hopes of Gastelum’s at 185LBs.

Figueiredo vs Benavidez weigh ins. Photo from MMA Junkie

#1 Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) vs. #2 Joseph Benavidez (28-6): We have arrived at the main event of the evening which is a battle for the vacant flyweight title. This fight happened in February but due to Figueiredo being unprofessional and missing weight it was not for the title. In that fight Figueiredo KO’d Benavidez in the 2nd round. This rematch should be interesting as they both know each other well and since each fighter made weight will be for the belt for sure. Benavidez will need to find a way to close the 3 inch reach disadvantage he suffers without taking a big shot like last time. If he does successfully get inside the pocket his faster, more accurate, and non-telegraphed shots could pick him up a win. Figueiredo will just need to do what he does best, use power shots while keeping this fight at range. If that doesn’t work get the fight to the mat and use his impressive ground skill set and pick up a submission win. This fight has a lot of tense feeling around it as both of these guys deserve to be title holders in the UFC but only one can be. I love Benavidez and truly wish he could be champion, but I have Figueiredo winning this fight in the 4th round via TKO.

  • Matt Koontz

Feature photo from mmamania.