Hello and welcome to the first instalment of “Predictions” where I intend to make wildly speculative and vaguely evidenced predictions on weekly MMA events. This weeks topic for fodder is UFC Fight Night 133 in Boise, Idaho, headlined by former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos facing off against Blagoy Ivanov, who vacates his spot in the PFL heavyweight division to step up to the big show. Hopefully I get some things right, though I’m sure i’ll get plenty wrong as well and expect to get my due digs in the comments section come Sunday morning!
JUSTIN SCOGGINS VS SAID NURMAGOMEDOV
My first prediction comes in the prelims, in a flyweight tilt between Justin Scoggins and Said Nurmagomedov. That surname is not coincidental, as Said is indeed the brother of PFL welterweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov and UFC Lightweight Champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, and carries an impressive 11-1-0 record at bantamweight with his last loss coming in 2014, though he will be stepping into the cage at flyweight for the first time. Justin Scoggins also has 11 wins but with 3 more losses and much more recently, losing to both Pedro Munhoz at bantamweight and Ulka Sasaki at flyweight. It doesn’t take a genius to see why I would be picking Nurmagomedov to add another win for the family name, but I won’t be expecting an early night for him as many will. Scoggins has shown some very high level Karate in all of his fights, being particularly dexterous with his lead leg. I see this being a problem for Nurmagomedov at first, as the quick movement of Scoggins may make the takedown elusive, pushing the fight in his favour early. However, i suspect by the second and third rounds the Russian will put Scoggins on the mat and grind out a decision.
Prediction – Said Nurmagomedov by Decision
CAT ZINGANO VS MARION RENEAU
Opening the main card will be potentially the last roll of the dice for Cat Zingano against Marion Reneau at women’s bantamweight. Coming off of 3 straight losses to Ketlen Viera, Julianna Peña and famously a 14 second loss to Ronda Rousey back in 2015. In contrast, Marion Reneau is riding the wave of a 2 fight win streak, picking up a TKO against Talita Bernardo last year and a slick submission against Olympic silver medallist Sara McMann earlier this year. It would seem obvious that Cat is perhaps in trouble in this fight, but not so long ago, Zingano looked to be one of the brightest rising stars in women’s MMA before being blighted by her loss to Rousey and a series of personal issues around the tragic death of her ex husband. At the end of may, Zingano went into depth on Joe Rogan’s podcast about those issues, and how it had been affecting her training, and how close she had came to giving up MMA entirely, yet has come out the other side stronger and full of a fresh resolve to win. After finding a new home in san diego, she feels re-invigorated in her roots of jiu jitsu at ATOS bjj, and will likely look for success on the mat. Marion Reneau will surely welcome the ground battle, being a brown belt in jiu jitsu herself, and having shown competence everywhere in the cage. I see Cat Zingano coming out all guns blazing this time, and possibly catching Marion with heavy knees and elbows in the clinch. Cat may then look to follow Marion to the ground and this will be where her excitement may play against her and give Marion the triangle or armbar.
Prediction – Marion Reneau by Submission rd. 2
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS VS BLAGOY IVANOV
Top of the event is a heavyweight battle between UFC newcomer and former WSOF heavyweight champ Blagoy Ivanov and former UFC heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos. Dos Santos is coming off of a reduced 6 month suspension by USADA for a failed drugs test that later turned out to be due to contaminated supplements from a brazilian pharmacy and a painful 1st round TKO loss in a second meeting with then heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Blagoy Ivanov won the WSOF heavyweight belt back in 2015 and defended it 3 times before a change in management and championship structure as the promotion became the PFL meant that he lost out, and subsequently decided it was time to move up to the UFC. Dos Santos won the heavyweight belt back in 2011 with a overhand from hell against Cain Velasquez, a very clean and damage free affair in comparison to the subsequent 5 round wars he had in his 2 rematches with Cain, and the 5 round slugfest against Stipe Miocic in their first meeting. This could be the final time for Dos Santos to show he still has what it takes to climb to the top of the heavyweight tree or he may be left believing that his ability to take punishment has left for good since suffering TKO losses in 3 of his last 4 losses since 2012. The disparity with Ivanov will be apparent as the bulgarian brawler hasn’t lost since dropping a submission to fellow UFC heavyweight Alexander Volkov when they both competed under the Bellator banner in 2014. Though less active that Dos Santos, half of Ivanov’s wins have come via TKO using his hands, albeit against less established competition and in much less technical fashion. I’ll be expecting Dos Santos to pull out an ugly win with a standing TKO against the cage somewhere around round 3 as they both gas, probably after JDS gets dropped by a left hand even your granny would have seen.
Prediction – Junior Dos Santos by TKO rd.3
I’ll be back here next week to make predictions for UFC Fight Night 134 in Hamburg and pick over the results of this weeks predictions.