UFC on ESPN 7 Predictions
Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rosenstruik
It’s hard to predict an Overeem fight these days as he still gets his fair share of wins, but he’s also been KO’d a frightening amount of times over the course of his career, so approaching his 40th birthday and his 65th pro MMA fight, it feels like anything can happen when he steps into the Octagon.
The so-far undefeated Rosenstruik stepped in on a little over a months notice for this fight to replace Walt Harris, and like him he’s also a striker, though rather than being a boxer he is much more of a kickboxer with a vast amount of experience under his belt.
That will be nothing new to Overeem as he’s a former K-1 kickboxing grand-prix winner, but given his opponent’s impressive record of finishing fights by strikes in both sports, together with concerns about his own chin, he’s certainly not someone he can afford to take lightly.
Overeem is a true veteran though and part of the reason he has survived as long as he has is his ability to adapt and fight more strategically when he has to, and with that in mind his wrestling could be a key factor here as Rosenstruik does not appear to have much to offer beyond his striking.
I think Overeem will play it safe, in the clinch and on the mat where he poses a threat from both ground-and-pound and submissions too, so I think he can find a stoppage within two rounds.
Prediction: Alistair Overeem to win by submission in Rd2 – Bet Now
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Marina Rodriguez
Not so long ago Calvillo was touted as being one of the next big things in WMMA by Dana White, but a loss to Carla Esparza tempered expectations, and while she has since bounced back with two wins, those are her only two Octagon outings in almost two years and is returning to action after a broken foot.
The undefeated Rodriguez has been far more active, notching up four fights over the same period, and she’s shown off good kickboxing skills along the way and solid takedown defense along with it to get the better of some notable opponents like Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres.
Calvillo is a willing striker, but could find herself in trouble if she spends too much time standing with Rodriguez’s aggressive output.
Calvillo’s strong suit is unquestionably her very crafty ground game and I do think if she can get Rodriguez down then she has the skill to emerge with a submission victory here.
Landing that takedown will be easier said than done though and meanwhile Rodriguez will make life very difficult for her at striking range and in the clinch with her own offensive output, and I think that may well end up leading her to a decision victory here.
Prediction: Marina Rodriguez to win by decision – Bet Now
Ben Rothwell vs. Stefan Struve
These two heavyweight veterans have been struggling to find form in recent years, with Struve even going as far as to flirt with retirement earlier this year after finally breaking free from a three-fight losing streak with a submission win against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, before changing his mind.
Meanwhile, Rothwell is stuck in a three-fight losing rut of his own and though all have went to the scorecards he had the dubious distinction of receiving the most head strikes in heavyweight history in his last outing against Andrei Arlovski.
If anything that proves that Rothwell is very durable, as evidenced by the fact he hasn’t been stopped by strikes in the past decade and that could be a significant factor in this fight as Struve isn’t particularly heavy-handed by heavyweight standards.
As usual Struve will hold physical advantages, being some 8” taller and with a 6” reach advantage, but also as usual he’ll likely struggle to utilize that effectively and will be more hittable than he should be.
Rothwell is more plodding and lethargic than ever though and it remains to be seen how well he’ll do at pressuring Struve effectively, but he won’t be adverse to getting into striking range and certainly does have the power to test the Dutchman’s questionable chin.
Struve’s strongest point remains his submission game, but I think he’ll struggle to get anything going in that regard given Rothwell’s own grappling credentials, so a striking battle is most likely.
I can see this fight going one of two ways, with either Struve just being the busier of the two fighters with kicks and punches to eek out a decision win or Rothwell landing a big punch that enables him to finish things up inside the distance. I’m leaning slightly towards the latter option, but it’s by no means a confident pick given ‘Big’ Ben’s recent performances.
Prediction: Ben Rothwell to win by KO in Rd2 – Bet Now
Yana Kunitskaya vs. Aspen Ladd
Ladd was pushing close to title contention before a somewhat controversial early TKO stoppage loss to Germaine de Randamie that has put her back down the pecking order.
Nonetheless, she’s still facing a tough fight here against former Invicta FC champ Kunitskaya, who has a broader, if not particularly refined skill-set and in particular should have the striking advantage here.
However, Ladd is a fearsome opponent on the mat courtesy of her very aggressive ground and pound, she can also do good work from the clinch and at 24 is still improving all the time, so I think she’ll be able to bully her way to a decision victory here.
Prediction: Aspen Ladd to win by decision – Bet Now
Cody Stamann vs. Song Yadong
There’s a buzz around Yadong at the moment thanks to the young Chinese fighters impressive performances in the Octagon of late and it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with a solid all-rounder like Stamann.
Yadong is shaping up to be a striking force to be reckoned with, showcasing very good power and a dynamic style that can see him pressuring fighters, while also land effectively on the counter too.
Stamann is no slouch on the feet, but he will be at a 2.5” reach disadvantage and I think he’ll be more interested in using his wrestling ability to test Yadong on the mat.
Yadong is training with Team Alpha Male though and I’d expect his takedown defense and get-ups to be on point here, ensuring that this is largely a striking affair, and that’s a battle I believe he can and will win, though Stamann is good enough to take it to the scorecards.
Prediction: Song Yadong to win by decision – Bet Now
UFC on ESPN 7 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Rob Font vs. Ricky Simon
Thiago Alves vs. Tim Means
Billy Quarantillo vs. Jacob Kilburn
Bryce Mitchell vs. Matt Sayles
Joe Solecki vs. Matt Wiman
Virna Jandiroba vs. Mallory Martin
Makhmud Muradov vs. Trevor Smith