UFC on ESPN 9: Woodley vs. Burns Predictions
Gilbert Burns vs. Tyron Woodley
Its been a little over a year since Woodley last fought, losing his title to Kamaru Usman, and during that time Burns has made a name for himself with no less than four victories, including defeating highly regarded fighters like Gunnar Nelson and Demian Maia.
Burns is a highly decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player and that will be his biggest weapon in this fight, but getting the fight to the ground in the first place will be a big challenge for him.
Burns wrestling is decent enough, but Woodley should have the edge in that department and also has strong takedown defense, so he may choose not to entertain the Brazilian on the mat at all if he can help it.
On the feet Burns striking has improved and he’s shown he’s got power, but in Woodley he’s facing one of the heaviest hitters the divison has seen, though his willingness to sit back indefinitely and wait to counter can be frustrating.
It’ll be interesting to see how Woodley approaches this, coming off a dominant decision loss to Kamaru Usman and a year long layoff. I think we might see more hunger and urgency in his work here and after stoppng Burns early takedown attempts that will lead to a second round TKO stoppage courtesy of his thunderous right hand.
Prediction: Tyron Woodley to win by TKO in Rd2 – Bet Now
Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai
Despite being fairly small in stature at 5ft 11” and with just a 73” reach, the burly Bulgarian Ivanov has proven to be a very durable fighter who is also reasonably well-rounded.
As you might expect then, Sakai is the bigger man here with a 4” height and reach advantage and he has offers up a good volume of strikes for a heavyweight and that’s helped him finish 11 of his 14 victories inside the distance.
Ivanov isn’t the most exciting striker to watch, but he actually operates fairly well on the counter and throws hard enough to earn respect, while he should have a significant advantage on the mat in this match-up.
As such, I think this could be a competitive fight on the feet, but one in which Ivanov can generally hold his own, while using clinchwork and takedowns to ensure he wins rounds and emerges with a decision victory.
Prediction: Blagoy Ivanov to win by decision – Bet Now
Gabriel Green vs. Daniel Rodriguez
A UFC newcomer, Green comes in on just a few days notice to fight Rodriguez after his previous opponent Kevin Holland was forced to pull out of the bout due to a hand injury.
Green is a natural lightweight who will be moving up to welterweight for this fight, so he’ll be at a bit of a size disadvantage, but he’s in good form right now with six wins in a row on the regional circuit and his aggression and the fact he’s a proven finisher both on the mat and on the feet means that he’s reasonably well equipped to make a good account of himself here.
Rodriguez has solid counter-striking and that could prove invaluable here as Green will likely try to push the pace on the feet, and in the end I think his bigger power and comfort level at welterweight will allow him to land the more telling blows here, resulting in a third round TKO stoppage.
Prediction: Daniel Rodriguez to win by TKO in Rd3 – Bet Now
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver
Two recruits from Dana White’s Contender Series square off in this match-up after making a respectable start to their careers inside the Octagon.
Weaver is a tough, scrappy fighter who will go out of his way to stay on the offensive, but isn’t actually much of a finisher and was actually coming off second best in his UFC debut before being the victim of an illegal knee that handed him an unlikely victory.
Roberts won’t fight at the same pace as Weaver, but he can strike effectively, is good in the clinch, can wrestle and is a submission threat too, which I think will give him enough tools to technically edge out Weaver here and earn himself a decision victory.
Prediction: Roosevelt Roberts to win by decision – Bet Now
Hannah Cifers vs. Mackenzie Dern
Dern marked her return from the birth of her first child last year with the first loss of her career against Amanda Ribas, so she’ll be determined to get back on track on Saturday night.
Of course Dern is famed for her glittering BJJ career and as you might expect submission wins are her speciality, while the rest of her MMA game is very much a work in progress.
Dern is strong and has power, but there’s a distinct lack of technique when it comes to her striking and her takedowns aren’t the best, so Cifers will look to keep this one standing and try to pick away at the glaring holes in her defense.
Unfortunately for Cifers she’s undersized for the division and I suspect she’ll find herself being overpowered by Dern’s early attempts to take the fight to the mat, and once there it’ll only be a matter of time before the submission finish occurs.
Prediction: Mackenzie Dern to win by submission in Rd1 – Bet Now
UFC on ESPN 9 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Spike Carlyle vs. Billy Quarantillo
Klidson Abreu vs. Jamahal Hill
Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Royval
Casey Kenney vs. Louis Smolka
Chris Gutierrez vs. Vince Morales
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.