Well it’s that time yet again. For the third consecutive PPV, the UFC will go down in front of a sold out crowd and yet again, the card is absolutely stacked. There’s two title fights for us to get stuck into here as well as the return of Nate Diaz who goes head to head with our very own Leon Edwards. As usual, I will dissect the main card in this article and try to identify some winners.
Paul Craig vs Jamahal Hill (light heavyweight bout)
Scottish fighter Paul Craig was able to correct his earlier draw with Shogun when he finished the legend with an emphatic TKO in his last bout making it 4 fights without defeat. Standing across from him this time out is the undefeated Jamahal Hill. Hill is a serial finisher having won 3 of his last 4 fights by way of knockout as well as a further UFC knockout that was later overturned to a no contest.
You’d imagine Craig will want to get this one to the ground where he can take advantage of his grappling ability that has enabled him to get his hand raised 5 times in the UFC alone due to submission. However, Craig does have 3 loses by way of knockout on his record, all of which occurring in the UFC. Hill will be outranked grappling wise by his opponent but I can only go by what these guys have done so far in their career, so unfortunately, I’ll have to go against the Brit on this occasion.
Prediction: Jamahal Hill via TKO
Odds – 6/5
Demian Maia vs Belal Muhammad (welterweight bout)
Demian Maia is 43 now and is perhaps one of the best grapplers we’ve ever seen. he’s had over 30 UFC fights and there’s absolutely no doubt he has been in there with the best of the best along the way. Belal Muhammad on the other hand really rose to prominence earlier this year when he headlined his first fight night against Leon Edwards. Unfortunately that didn’t work out as the fight ended early in the second round when Muhammad was on the received end of a nasty eye poke and was unable to continue. Over the last year or so there have been some fights that have ended questionably with some fighters being accused of quitting when they could have carried on. That was definitely not the case with Muhammad. I will add that prior to the eye poke I thought Belal did look a bit out his depth and was being lit up by Edwards. However, that was a huge jump up in competition and he was coming off 4 straight impressive victories before that fight.
I think the game plan for both fighters is fairly plain to see for everyone. Belal Muhammad will do absolutely everything he can to keep out of Maia’s grasp, because if this one goes to the ground, he could be in deep trouble. The bookies seem to like Belal Muhammad to win this one by decision, which I agree is the most likely outcome and potentially one for the accumulators. However, Maia has only ever lost against the cream of the crop, and I’m not quite sure Belal is on the same level as some of the guys that have been able to get it done against the Brazilian grappler. The odds are stupidly high for a Maia submission victory so I’ll be taking a punt on that.
Prediction: Demian Maia via Submission
Odds – 4/1
Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz (welterweight bout)
Birmingham based fighter Leon Edwards has had absolutely no luck in the last year or so. His main event fight against former champ Tyron Woodley that was set to take place in London was cancelled due to the COVID19 outbreak at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then he has had 3 further fights cancelled for various reasons including contracting the virus himself. The one fight he has actually been able to make it to was cut short after an accidental eye poke as mentioned in the previous fight’s preview. Nate Diaz on the other hand comes back into the picture after a couple of years off. Since beating Conor McGregor, he has become an absolute superstar, more or less picking and choosing who and when he fights. We last saw Nate in action against Jorge Masvidal where he was declared unable to continue by the doctor in between rounds.
This is a huge fight for Edwards, with this being by far the biggest name he’s been given yet. I think this is actually a really good match up for the Brit too. I’m a fan of Nate Diaz, but i all honesty he’s probably a true lightweight and that really shows when he gets in the ring with a true welterweight light Masvidal or in this case Leon Edwards. Edwards is a striker who excels in his accuracy and volume. That is really bad news for Diaz who will be the smaller guy in there and has so much scar tissue that he is easily opened up while striking which does have an impact in the eyes of the judges and the cage side doctor. The bookies seem to think Edwards will get this done by way of decision, but I though he looked great in the early stages of his previous fight with a new found killer instinct, so I’ll take him to get it done in under 5 rounds.
Prediction: Leon Edwards via TKO
Odds – 11/8
(C) Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno 2 (flyweight title bout)
The first of our 2 title fights and rematches. If this fight is even half as good as their first fight at the end of last year, we should be in for an absolute banger. Most fans expected Figueiredo do dispatch of yet another challenger when these guys first squared off, but Moreno more than held his own. The fight was ruled a majority draw after Figueiredo was deducted a point for a groin strike.
In terms of the rematch, I do see the champ coming out on top this time. After all, without the point deduction, he would have won the first fight. Figueiredo claims that he was in hospital until 2am the night before the first fight between the pair and was fighting at ‘30%’. If that was 30% then I feel sorry for anyone who he fights at full strength. I believe that he got a bit caught up in the moment and threw technique out the window last time which I expect him to correct this time around. He will be out to make a point and will want to do it in emphatic style.
Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo via TKO
Odds – 7/4
(C) Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori 2 (middleweight title bout)
Yet another title fight, yet another rematch. Vettori gave the New Zealand native his toughest fight yet at middleweight on his meteoric rise to the title, as Adesanya won via split decision. But since then the now champ hasn’t looked back. He’s scored wins over names like Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva and Derek Brunson. Then has gone on to defend his belt against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa.
Most recently, Adesanya was handed his first loss in MMA as he moved up in weight to challenge for the light heavyweight belt against Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya was massively undersized for the weight and it showed as he was unable to fight the takedowns, particularly in the later rounds. Some will say that this exposed a massive hole in the champions game, but I say Marvin Vettori isn’t Jan Blachowicz, and more importantly, he will weight 20lbs less. The true number one contender in this division is Robert Whittaker, but with him unable to fight so soon after his last bout, Vettori inherited the opportunity on account of a nice win streak of his own and the division’s other challengers being inactive or injured. Don’t get me wrong, Vettori is a top fighter; I just don’t think he’s shown that he’s at the very top level just yet. Adesanya has been in there with the absolute best since these two last met. That will have been invaluable in terms of his already insanely high fight IQ.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya via TKO
Odds – 15/8