UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs. Procházka Predictions
Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka
After two unsuccessful attempts to win the light-heavyweight title in a row, Reyes now faces a fast-rising challenger in Prochazka, who came into the UFC after an excellent run of big finishes in the Rizin Promotion and then KO’d Volkan Oezdemir in his promotional debut last year.
Reyes loss to Jones was so competitive that it actually raised his stock, but it’ll be interesting to see how he bounces back from his first ever TKO loss last time out against Jan Blachowicz.
Reyes is an athletic 205lb’er who has very good speed and cardio, which aids his high-volume approach to striking, with both his kicks and punches offering up a finishing threat.
While Reyes is dangerous, Prochazka has the more formidable record when it comes to ending fights, as 24 of his 27 career wins have come by way of strikes, and half of them by clean KO.
Prochazka will give up an inch in height, but actually has 3″ in reach over Reyes. He’s a very unorthadox, unpredictable fighter who adopts unusual stances, tries to bait his opponents to strike him, and unleashes accurate punches from unexpected angles with fight-ending power.
At the same time, Prochazka keeps his hands low and that’s a real concern given that he’s quite hittable. To be fair, he does have good powers of recovery and has only been stopped once in the last eight years by strikes. Still, that eventually takes it’s toll however, and with his level of opposition now going to be consistently high he’s playing with fire with that approach. It’s highly entertaining to watch for now, but I do think it’s likely only a matter of time before it catches up with him.
With that in mind, while Prochazka could end this fight at any moment, I’m slightly leaning towards Reyes here, even though his last performance gives me some real concerns. He’ll be less reckless and should be able to find plenty of opportunities to hit the target with punches as well as utilizing his kicking game too. He may not have quite the same power as his opponent, but Reyes has enough to make an impact and I’ll take him to secure a TKO stoppage in the second round.
Prediction: Dominick Reyes to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet @ Sportsbet
Giga Chikadze vs. Cub Swanson
Chikadze has managed to amass a 5-0 record since joining the UFC in 2019, including no less than four wins last year, but his level of competition hasn’t been the highest so far, so it’ll be intriguing to see how he gets on against one of the featherweight division’s most experienced veterans in Swanson, who picked up a KO in his last Octagon outing.
Chikadze is a former Glory kickboxer who as you would expect is very technically sound on the feet, though it was only last time out that he finally registered his first TKO finish in the UFC. He’s tall for the division, standing 6ft, and as such will have 4″ in both height and reach over Swanson, which he utilizes effectively and as such makes him harder to hit.
Really Swanson has seen it all at this stage in his career, and it’s too his credit that at 37-years-old he’s still a handful for anyone in the division, especially when he doesn’t have to worry about being taken down, as though he has his own skills on the mat, he’s often been vulnerable to submissions in the past.
That won’t be an issue here and so Swanson will be able to put his full energy into his striking, pushing a hard pace with a high offensive output, while utilizing good movement, which will be important as he seeks to get into range.
This should be a really fun fight and it could go either way, but I will lean towards Chikadze here as he has the striking acumen to not be overwhelmed by Swanson and will take full advantage of his size to keep this fight at range and emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Giga Chikadze to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby
Cutelaba has had a rough time of it in the Octagon in recent bouts, having lost three of his last four fights inside the distance, including back-to-back first round losses due to strikes against Magomed Ankalaev.
Meanwhile, after losing twice in his initial UFC stint back in 2011-2012, Jacoby had some ups and downs elsewhere before finally fighting his way back to the UFC last year, and he’s now racked up two wins in a row, but comes into this fight on just a couple of weeks notice as a replacement for Devin Clark.
Cutelaba is something of a wildman with a kill-or-be-killed approach as he goes all out on the offensive from the opening bell looking to overwhelm his opponents on the feet and on the mat. He has had some significant successes with that, but The early energy expenditure can drain his gas tank though if he doesn’t get the big finish he seeks, and now on top of that there’s a question mark over his durability.
Jacoby is a striker with more refined technique than Cutelaba and actually has a fair amount of kickboxing experience too, having fought numerous times for Glory. Like his MMMA career, his kickboxing run was also a bit patchy and he picked up a fair number of losses, so I do feel that he’s the kind of fighter who is likely to struggle to put together a sustained winning streak in the UFC.
Still, Cutelaba will leave himself open to getting hit, so there’s certainly opportunities for Jacoby here. I do feel ‘The Hulk’ is the more dangerous fighter though and he would have a considerable advantage if he uses his wrestling, so I’m going to take him to make the most of his early momentum and earn a ground and pound stoppage.
Prediction: Ion Cutelaba to win by TKO in Rd1 – Bet @ Sportsbet
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Sean Strickland
Two fighters coming off three-fight winning streaks at 185lbs here, with Jotko picking up a notable decision win over Eryk Anders last time out, while Strickland earned a TKO stoppage against Brendan Allen.
Jotko used his kickboxing on the outside against Anders to win on points, though in general he’s a fighter who has tended to embrace the grind and look to stifle his opponents with clinch work and top control.
Strickland is the more heavy-handed of the two on the feet with his boxing ability and is also the busier fighter offensively. Importantly, I don’t think he’ll be overly daunted by Jotko’s wrestling game, so I feel this is a fight where he can lead the action, land the better strikes and secure a decision victory.
Prediction: Sean Strickland to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann
Dvalishvili heads into this one with five wins in a row under his belt, while Stamann has had more mixed results, picking up two wins, two losses and a draw from his last five trips to the Octagon>
It’s going to be interesting to see how this one plays out from a wrestling perspective as that’s Stamann’s real strong suit, but at the same time Dvalishvili lives up to his ‘Machine’ nickname by being absolutely relentless in his pursuit of takedowns.
Dvalishvili retains that endless energy on the feet too, being something of a wildman who throws himself into the battle with high-volume attacks to the extent that you’re never sure what’s coming next.
Stamann’s far more measured in his approach, but he’s not the most potent striker and I think he could himself struggling to keep up with the pace that Dvalishvili sets here, leading to a decision victory for ‘The Machine’.
Prediction: Merab Dvalishvili to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
Poliana Botelho vs. Luana Carolina
After winning her UFC debut, Carolina suffered an injury as the result of a nasty kneebar by Ariane Lipski last year, which put her out of action for an extended period, while Botelho lost by decision against Gillian Robertson to go 2-2 in her UFC run to date.
So, both fighters will likely welcome the chance to trade on the feet here, with Botelho potentially having more power in her punches and kicks, but Carolina also possesses respectable kickboxing skills to keep things competitive.
If it does so happen that they go to ground then Botelho would hold the advantage, so that gives me a little bit of extra confidence in picking her to have her hand raised after 15 minutes of fighting here.
Prediction: Poliana Botelho to win by decision – Bet @ Sportsbet
UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs. Procházka Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
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TJ Brown vs. Kai Kamaka III
Sam Hughes vs. Loma Lookboonmee
K.B. Bhullar vs. Andreas Michailidis
Felipe Colares vs. Luke Sanders
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.