Junior dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa
JDS has been alternating betweens wins and losses for six year now, and notably his defeats have often been due to strikes – a sign of his deteriorating chin.
That raises a red flag against Tuivasa as he’s a hard hitting striker with an as-yet uncracked chin, having gone 8-0 in his career so far.
Nevertheless, dos Santos remains a strong technical boxer who doesn’t have to rely on a big finish to win on the feet (though he does have the power to do so), as he also operates well on the outside with good footwork.
Tuivasa is less of a brawler than he used to be, but unless he finds a home for a knockout blow I think it’s likely he’s going to struggle to make up the skill gap here as dos Santos uses his veteran savvy to steer clear of danger and outstrike his opponent from range to secure a unanimous decision victory.
Prediction: Junior dos Santos to win by decision – BET NOW
Mark Hunt vs. Justin Willis
After a long and well-documented breakdown in his relationship with the UFC, Hunt will see out the final fight on his contract and then ride off into the sunset this weekend.
Hunt hasn’t been given a big name opponent for his send-off, but neither has he been given an easy chance to end on a high-note as Willis is a capable up-and-comer who has already notched up a trio of wins inside the Octagon.
At 44-years-old recent evidence suggests that age is finally catching up to Hunt and his chin is no longer the impenetrable fortress it once was, but power is the last thing to go and ‘The Super Samoan’ has that in spades, plus he still has the fundamental kickboxing skills that have served him well over his long career.
Willis is another stocky heavyweight like Hunt, but he has a huge reach advantage. He’s still a work in progress technically though and hasn’t really fought anyone close to Hunt’s calibre so far, so though it’s by no means a sure thing I’m tipping the veteran to come away with one last highlight reel finish to add to the collection.
Prediction: Mark Hunt to win by KO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Mauricio Rua vs. Tyson Pedro
The top end of this card is built around established veterans going up against rising talents and that continues here with Brazilian star ‘Shogun’ going up against Australia’s own Pedro.
It’s an interesting fight as Pedro has shown some promise, but still feels like something of a work-in-progress and has so far faltered when pitted against more established opponents, while Rua has an impressive resume, but is clearly well beyond his prime at this stage and was KO’d in 89 seconds by Anthony Smith last time out.
Pedro is the bigger, stronger man here and he makes effective use of kicks and hits hard enough to trouble ‘Shogun’, whose last three losses have all come by way of knockout.
Rua is still a threat on the feet himself, but Pedro is durable and can also work well in the clinch and on the mat with submissions too, so I favor him to get the job done here, stopping an increasingly fragile ‘Shogun’ by TKO in the second round.
Prediction: Tyson Pedro to win by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Jake Matthews vs. Tony Martin
Two talented fighters here that have moved away from lightweight to make their mark in the welterweight division in recent times.
Each has looked good so far at 170lbs and it’s a well matched fight with both being strong grapplers, although on the feet I do feel Martin is is the more effective operator, as evidenced by his head kick KO victory over Ryan La Flare last time out.
At 24, Matthews is still making marked improvements from fight to fight, so it’s likely we’ll see an even better version of him this weekend which means he’s got a real chance here, but based on what we know of them at this stage I believe Martin can match up well in the wrestling department and outstrike his opponent on the feet to emerge with a competitive decision victory.
Prediction: Tony Martin to win by decision – BET NOW
Suman Mokhtarian vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Another fighter rolling of the production line on Dana white’s Contender Series, Yusuff seems to have the raw materials to have a chance of lasting beyond just a fight or two thanks to a mixture of athleticism, punching power and wrestling.
He’s still got a long way to go to put that together into a truly cohesive fight style, but I think it’ll be enough to get him by against Mokhtarian, a fun fighter who has a penchant for flashy submissions, but will likely get himself into trouble on the feet as Yusuff lands the strikes to put him away inside of 10 minutes.
Prediction: Sodiq Yusuff wins by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Paul Craig vs. Jim Crute
Crute makes his UFC debut via Dana White’s Contender Series and is a perfect 8-0 so far coming out of the Australian regional circuit.
As you might expect from a 22-year-old Crute is still somewhat of a raw prospect at this stage, displaying some power on the feet and decent grappling, but nothing that’s likely to make waves in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division just yet.
Craig is the more experienced campaigner and has had a mixed 2-2 run in the UFC to date. He’s not anything to write home about on the feet, but the Scottish fighter is very crafty on the mat and I think that’s where he’ll find success against Crute, tapping him out inside the first five minutes.
Prediction: Paul Craig to win by submission in Rd1 – BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Damir Ismagulov vs. Alex Gorgees
Elias Garcia vs. Kai Kara-France
Wilson Reis vs. Ben Nguyen
Yushin Okami vs. Alexey Kunchenko
Keita Nakamura vs. Salim Touahri
Mizuto Hirota vs. Christos Giagos