Tyron Woodley vs. Darren Till
Woodley had initially been expected to face Colby Covington next until his opponent overplayed his hand trying to put the fight off until later on in the year, leading to him being stripped of the interim title and the other major contender at this moment in time, Till being drafted in to replace him.
Woodley is a fighter who has shown he’s willing to fight cautiously, biding his time and not overcommitting, even if it isn’t fun to watch, in order to maintain his grip on the title, and that’s probably going to be the case here again as Till is a dangerous striker.
Woodley can get away with this because he does have big knockout power that can make his opponent’s hesitant to step into range, while he’s also very athletic and can swiftly switch to a takedown attempt, which is something Till be keen to avoid as he’s much more effective on the feet.
However, while Till is at his best as an accomplished striker who has a higher workrate that the champion and can effortlessly put together combinations of punches and kicks, he also showed in his fight with ‘Wonderboy’ that he can also operate at a slower tempo and just pick his shots.
As such I’m edging towards the younger, bigger, more technical striker Till here, although I do have concerns over his weight cut and the potential for Woodley to get back to his wrestling game. Even so, I think in a fight that might not provide as much action as we’d hope from two fighters with their capabilities, I think Till will apply more forward pressure and have the better moments to emerge with a narrow decision victory.
Prediction: Darren Till wins by decision – BET NOW
Nicco Montano vs. Valentina Shevchenko
This fight has been scrapped from the card after Montano was hospitalised due to a poor weight cut. Montano was later stripped of the flyweight title.
Montano did very well to emerge from TUF 26 as the season winner despite being an underdog, but despite being crowned the inaugural flyweight champion the real work starts now and she’s facing a daunting first challenger in Shevchenko.
After all, Shevchenko pushed dominant bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes very hard in their two title fights and she could be an even more daunting foe now as one of the bigger girls in the weight-class.
Striking wise there’s no contest here, Shevchenko is an extremely accomplished kickboxer and should have a major advantage there, but she will have to be on the lookout for Montano’s takedowns.
However, I believe Shevchenko will be up to that task, and even on the mat she has proven to be a very capable submission finisher and should be able to deal with what the current champion has to offer.
Typically Shevchenko is by no means a big finisher on the feet, but I think she can trouble Montano and put her away within three rounds here.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko wins by TKO in Rd3 – BET NOW
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Brandon Davis
Magomedsharipov has quickly emerged as a serious threat in the UFC’s featherweight division and looks to be destined for big things, but unfortunately an intriguing test against Yair Rodriguez has had to be put on the backburner due to a late call-off and so instead he faces Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series graduate Davis instead.
Magomedsharipov is exceptionally tall and lanky for the division, but he also moves extremely well and is a dynamic kickboxer with an array of flashy but effective kicks, while he’s also a strong wrestler and has a good submission game to go with it.
That makes this is a tough match-up for Davis, particularly on short-notice, given that he’s only 1-2 in the UFC to date and is taking a big step-up in competition.
Magomedsharipov should have the edge wherever this fight takes place and I think he’ll just simply prove to be too much for Davis, troubling him on the feet, outwrestling him and then finding a finish in the second round by submission.
Prediction: Zabit Magomedsharipov wins by submission in Rd2 – BET NOW
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Andrade
Two former strawweight title contenders clash here, with the winner likely being on the verge of another shot at the belt.
This should be a fun fight on the feet with both fighters having a high-output on the feet, though Andrade is even more so and packs a much bigger punch than Kowalkiewicz, who is technical, but has never had stopping power.
However, as relentless as she is with her striking, Andrade is exactly the same in pursuit of the takedown and on the mat, and she never seems to tire.
Kowalkiewicz has excellent takedown defense, but Andrade is exceptionally strong and hard to stop when she decides she wants to bring the fight to the floor and I think that will be her main key to victory here as she lands multiple takedowns and controls Kowalkiwicz on that mat for long periods to emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Jessica Andrade wins by decision – BET NOW
Niko Price vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
Two proven finishers on display here in the main card opener, although the way they have achieved their impressive collection of stoppage is markedly different.
Alhassan is a powerful striker and that’s shown in the fact that all nine of his career victories to date have come inside the first round via punches. However, there are question marks over his cardio if he doesn’t get that big finish he’s looking for inside the first five minutes.
As for Price, he’s a more versatile finisher, with strikes being his main weapon of choice, but submissions also being a notable threat too, and though he does have a number of first round stoppages, he’s still just as dangerous if the fight goes further than that.
Alhassan has KO power in his hands and so Price is going to have to be very careful early in the fight, but if he can get the fight to the mat or take him into deep waters then this match-up looks to favor him and I think he gets the job done via submission in the second round.
Prediction: Niko Price wins by submission in Rd2 – BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Carla Esparza vs. Tatiana Suarez
Aljamain Sterling vs. Cody Stamann
Jimmie Rivera vs. John Dodson
Charles Byrd vs. Darren Stewart
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Diego Sanchez vs. Craig White
Jim Miller vs. Alex White
Irene Aldana vs. Lucie Pudilova
Jarred Brooks vs. Roberto Sanchez
Frank Camacho vs. Geoff Neal