UFC on ESPN 2 Predictions

Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje

Main event isn’t always fight of the night but this could very well be, for as long as it lasts at least. We know that as good as Barboza is, he can be broken mentally with pressure and pace and crowding his space. And as good as Gaethje is, he tends to forget defense and get into brawls. So it’s hard to guess how this will go.

I do think that it’s more of a dangerous fight for Gaethje against someone as technically good as Barboza. Both guys have power but Barboza is quicker and sharper and will be able to counter and get out of the way. Of course if Gaethje catches him early then it changes the fight and Gaethje can also wrestle, but he doesn’t like to do that and Barboza also has pretty good takedown defence.

When I think about this, I think if they fought 10 or 100 times, who wins the most? And for me it’s Barboza, relatively close but clearly Barboza and I don’t think this is going the distance.

Prediction : Barboza by KO

Result : Gaethje by KO

David Branch vs Jack Hermansson

This is probably not going to be fireworks. Their striking skills are probably comparable although Branch would seem to have a big grappling advantage. I think this fight is going to be mainly striking though, with Branch seeming to get the better of it early, he throws harder and will push the pace, I expect him to fade though in the second and third and Hermansson will come more into it from counterpunching to leading and I’m picking Hermansson to get it done by TKO in the third.

Prediction : Hermansson by TKO

Result : Hermansson by submission

Kevin Holland vs Gerald Meerschaert

May be a bit of a battle which depends on who lands first. Holland has more a TKD style with in and out movement and some nice kicks. Meerschaert is more of a grit your teeth and get stuck in type. So like I said who lands hard first?

Holland is very dynamic with a lot of tools, he tries to be elusive and kinda uses that shell defence. It’s not perfect though and he does kind of get caught or trapped in bad positions. If Meerschaert can walk him down without catching anything too hard then he can have success and I really think that’s how it will go. Of course Holland can catch him clean with a knee or kick, can easily happen. However my money is on Meerschaert pushing through, doing damage and winning a decision.

Prediction : Meerschaert by decision

Result : Holland by decision

Josh Emmett vs Michael Johnson

Johnson’s fourth fight since he dropped to featherweight and probably his most difficult. A lot of people have wondered if his power has diminished at the lower weight and it’s a valid question, so far at least, could be a case of fine tuning the cut.

In Emmett you got a tricky opponent. He has knockout power and he’s a decent grappler and he also has some unusual timing when he wants, he moves and attacks on the half step or half breath.

The first round will be trying to get position. Johnson is longer and probably a bit quicker but Emmett has good defence and is patient and commits when he sees an opening. I’m going with the speed and reach of Johnson being able to work well from the outside. It will be close but Michael Johnson by decision.

Prediction : Johnson by decision

Result : Emmett by KO

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson

Two girls who are kinda among the best of the rest. At the top of the division you have Rose, Joanna and Jessica Andrade and the rest are sort of jockeying for position beneath them.

The problem sometimes with these fights is that females, especially straw weights, don’t always have the devastating power to really hurt their opponent so it’s left to the judges interpretation of what’s happening. In this fight for example Kowalkiewicz will be the one moving forward more and throwing more but Waterson is good going backward and will land cleaner but seem less active. How do judge that? Takedowns can make the difference and Michelle times it very well especially against an opponent who in coming to her, and on the ground she has the ability to control top position. If Waterson can get a few takedowns then that will sway the judges but if not they may give it to Kowalkiewicz for aggression and control.

Prediction : Waterson by decision

Result : Waterson by decision

Sheymon Moraes vs Sodiq Yusuff

Two strikers with different styles. Neither are fantastic grapplers but thankfully I don’t think they will have to worry about that. Moraes is more technical with more tools, a natural striker. Yusuff is patient and looks to back his opponent to the fence and land big power punches.

I’ve seen Yusuff have his chin up when he attacks and against a guy like Moraes he may pay for that. I see Sheyman catching him with a counter and finishing with strikes in the second round.

Prediction : Moraes by KO/TKO

Result : Yussuf by decision

Alexa Grasso vs Marina Rodriguez – CANCELLED

Wonder if Grasso will take the easier route and try to wrestle Rodriguez. It won’t be easy and has its dangers. Rodriguez likes to throw those elbows and she had good knees as well but I feel if she can get a few takedowns then even the threat of them might throw Rodriguez off later in the rounds. If Grasso can follow a good game plan then the win can be hers but if she gets gets into trading with Rodriguez that wouldn’t be so smart, not saying she would lose because she could make it rough and ugly, but the smart money is on the ground.

Prediction : Grasso by decision

Jessica Aguilar vs Marina Rodriguez

Aguilar has to have the same game plan as Grasso. Arguably Aguilar isn’t as well rounded as Grasso but she is a better wrestler. In this case though on short notice I think Aguilar has a good first round but begins to struggle after that and Rodriguez will get the better or the other two rounds and wins a decision.

Prediction : Rodriguez by decision

Result : Rodriguez by decision

Ross Pearson vs Desmond Green

Fair to say Pearson is past his best, from winning The Ultimate Fighter competition in 2009 to having one win and five losses in his last six fights. He was never the fastest guy but he seemed to set thinks up better where now he can seem predictable at times. He’s still dangerous but he needs to trap opponents against the fence or lead them onto his powerful hooks.

The main problem he’ll may have with Des Green is speed and mobility. On top of that is Green’s wrestling ability but Pearson has a good sprawl and Green may not risk it if he doesn’t need to. I would say Green will be able to stay on the outside, stay on his toes, and avoid Pearson’s power. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Green lands hard on the button and manages to finish Pearson but I think it will be a decision.

Prediction : Green by decision

Result : Green by TKO

Paul Craig vs Kennedy Nzechukwu

This could be the last stand for Paul Craig as far as UFC goes. He’s 1-3 with the one win being a last second miracle submission in a fight he was getting tooled in and all three losses have been finishes. Basically he needs to get this fight to the mat as quick as he can or he will most likely have another bad night.

From what I’ve seen of Nzechukwu he’s a very good striker, very strong and moves very smoothly for a tall man. He can get frustrated and outpointed by fast opposition who are technically good boxers but that’s not Paul Craig. I’ve also got to say that although he is undefeated it is a somewhat padded record. I think his striking is good enough for this fight though, especially defensively and he’s quite good at finding openings and against Craig he will have opportunities. Nzechukwu gets the finish by strikes in the first or second round.

Prediction : Nzechukwu by TKO

Result : Craig bt submission

Ray Borg vs Kyler Phillips – OFF

Kyler Phillips making his actual UFC debut, he’s been on The Ultimate Fighter and Contender Series but this is his actual big show debut and Ray Borg is a hell of an opponent off the bat. A few thing are going in Phillips favour though such as size, Borg is better suited to 125lbs, and of course Ray Borg’s personal situation with his son these last few years. Over the last year Borg has had a lot of fights called off for one reason or another. Let’s hope he’s healthy both physically and mentally.

Phillips is a good striker and grappler but I would imagine he will want to strike with Borg, he definitely hits harder although Ray has the speed advantage. Borg is good, when people are striking, at stepping in and grabbing the back of the neck and landing a few quick punches. Just frustrating people and putting them off their game plan. Borg also has big fight experience and will know a few tricks. I think size may be an issue but I think Borg should be able to use his movement and speed to get inside when he needs to and win the scrambles when they happen.

Prediction : Borg by decision

Enrique Barzola vs Kevin Aguilar

Barzola won The Ultimate Fighter tournament in 2015 and he has got better since, especially with his striking because his wrestling was always very good. Aguilar is also good striker but I see him spending most of the fight on the back foot. I don’t think he will be able to get any momentum going, Barzola will be able to compete in the striking aspects and keep Aguilar off balance with his wrestling.

Barzola will dominate fight and get a late submission win.

Prediction : Barzola by submission

Result : Aguilar by decision

Maryna Moroz vs Sabina Mazo

Moroz will probably have higher striking output, especially early on. Mazo will take her time getting a read. When Mazo does strike though she will be more accurate and probably more technical. If Mazo doesn’t land clean and do some damage in the fight then the judges may be fooled in favour of Moroz because she will be more active and attempting takedowns and whatnot.

Another point worth mentioning is Maryna is on a two fight skid and will be feeling the pressure to win.

Prediction : Mazo by TKO

Prediction : Moroz by decision

Alex Perez vs Mark De La Rosa

Probably going to be two good grapplers having a striking battle. De La Rosa likes the submissions but Perez has a good enough takedown defense to make that very difficult. As for striking, I think Perez has better defense and uses range better, he will step in and make De La Rosa counter and then counter counter. De La Rosa is good at touching his opponents with fast punches, like two or three, if they miss. Not really hard punches but scoring points. I give the advantage to Perez, just. I think the better defense on the feet and he has more ways to hurt De La Rosa.

Prediction : Perez by decision

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