The little dudes and dudettes are gonna war for their right to UFC gold, but beyond the main/co-main, there is little substance to justify the PPV price tag.
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs Perez Predictions & Results
Imma keep it real with you chief. I prefer the current main event between Figgy Pudding and Perez. Cody Garbrandt, forced to pull out with a torn bicep, hasn’t really earnt his shot at the Flyweight title. Sure, the PPV would have been a far easier sell for Dana, but Perez is more deserving of a title shot and is far better equipped. Having twice murdered Joseph Benavidez with incredible ease during 2020, burying the remnants of Garbrandt’s career would have been a wasted end of Figgy’s year. Instead, Figgy has to clash against an equally fast starter in Alex Perez. Willing to brawl on the feet, but aiming to submit you on the mat, Perez is a dynamite fighter who will bring the fireworks on Saturday night.
A definite hit to the card was the pull-out of Robbie Lawler. What was lined up to be an intriguing striking match-up between the cornerless Mike Perry, and veteran blood God, Robbie Lawler, it was a crossroads match for the welterweight rankings. While Tim Means as a replacement is still a massive test for Perry, it doesn’t pose the same entertainment value or swanging n banging potential.
Also, Shogun vs Paul Craig II to kick off the main card? What the ****.
UFC Flyweight Title
Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs Alex Perez (24-5)
Figgy pudding is bringing eyes back to a division long believed dead since the transfer of Mighty Mouse to One. After Dana had cleared the division of its roster, it has since been populated by fresh faces and opened paths to the title that were previously unavailable. Figueiredo was a hit or miss fighter before his title bouts against Joseph Benavidez. There was no real structure to Figueiredo’s striking, and he relied heavily on his natural power to bully opponents. Clubbing shots proved effective until he faced off with Formiga, a calculated and polished operator. Since dropping a decision loss, Figueiredo tightened up his striking and has looked unstoppable. Destroying Benavidez on the feet in their first title fight, Figueiredo had to kill Benavidez a second time to actually secure the belt – having missed weight the first.
Figueiredo isn’t just Ford Escort punching power, however. There is an exciting, and underrated ground game that is used to scramble as well as secure suffocating top control. While Perez’s wrestling has succeeded against opponent’s unable to match his intensity, the dog in Figueiredo is more than able to bust the gut necessary to roll with Perez.
Perez is a heavy, heavy underdog but there are a lot of qualities to like. Low kicks are the obvious advantage Perez holds, having forced Jussier Formiga into retiring in just the first-round. Whenever Formiga attempted to close the distance to strike, or more often to shoot for a takedown, Perez sat down into lightning leg kicks that broke the stance of Formiga. If Perez is able to gain respect early with leg kicks, he could prevent Figueiredo from wildly entering the pocket so frequently. As a result, Perez would have a better time trying to predict the unorthodox striking of the Brazilian. Moreover, Perez’s wrestling is close to on par with Figueiredo’s. With enough frustration on the feet, it isn’t crazy to believe that Perez could take Figueiredo by surprise on the mat.
Predicted Result: Figueiredo TKO Round 3
Perez is very hittable and is usually willing to engage in a brawl on the feet before taking the mat to the ground. Against the vast majority of the Flyweight division, Perez has the power to switch their lights out. Against Figueiredo, it is good night sweet prince. While Perez’s wrestling could frustrate Figueiredo, it is unlikely there will be many scrambles, as Figueiredo’s thumping power will dictate the fight.
Result: Figueiredo def. Perez // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 1 1:57
Women’s Flyweight (125)
UFC Women’s Flyweight Title
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs Jennifer Maia (18-6-1)
Shevchenko is a wonderfully talented fighter. Shevchenko is also an utterly dominant champion at Flyweight. As a result, Shevchenko is a fairly boring fighter to watch. Happy to sit at range and pick apart her opponents with expert timing, shot selection and natural athletic talents, Shevchenko refuses to search for the finish. That isn’t to say Shevchenko cannot stop foes. Just ask Jessica Eye or Katlyn Chookagian. But against the more durable opponents, Shevchenko won’t gamble and take a risk. While much more favourable for a lengthy, successful career, that style of fighting won’t win you fans in the long-term. Although, with enough booty pics, you will gather a freakishly large following anyway.
What is not Shevchenko’s fault, is the state of her division. Barren of any talent, Shevchenko has thoroughly cleared it out. Despite the UFC’s desperate attempts to bolster Jennifer Maia’s image in the past few weeks, this is a fighter who is only in a title fight because of a shock victory over last-minute replacement, Joanne Calderwood. Holding lopsided decision losses to Katlyn Chookagian and Liz Carmouche, Maia showcased her durability but also her clear lack of speed. Having tightened up her boxing over the past few fights, Maia is still nowhere near the level necessary to challenge Shevchenko on the feet. Maia will struggle to get into the range needed to take Shevchenko down, but even so, Shevchenko is a skilled grappler who can scramble before finding herself in a compromising position.
Predicted Result: Shevchenko TKO Round 5
Maia is an incredibly durable fighter, but she is utterly outmatched in this fight. Sloppy, one-note striking, methodical grappling, and a clear speed disadvantage, Shevchenko will dominate this start to finish.
Result: Shevchenko def. Maia // Decision (unanimous – 49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Mike Perry (14-6) vs Tim Means (30-12-1)
The Mike Perry story has a very sad ending, albeit, an ending which we can’t quite put our finger on when. What was once the lovable rogue of the Welterweight division, Perry has developed into a ticking time bomb of criminal behaviour. Disregarding his patchy past few months with the law, Perry is entering this fight without a traditional corner. While it somewhat succeeded in his last fight, Perry wasn’t as dominant against Mickey Gall as he really should have been. Gall is a bottom-feeder of the roster. The match was designed to put Perry back in the win column with a highlight reel stoppage. Instead, Perry lulled his way towards a decision and allowed Gall to gain a dangerous grappling advantage at times. Moreover, Perry missed weight by 4 1/2 pounds – despite only just last week being pictured tucking into fast food. It is hard to expect the slick striking clinic that Perry put over Alex Oliveira, the fight that many fans (myself included) felt was the coming of age fight for the powerful brawler. Instead, expect Perry to bank on his power shots doing the business, with little else in the way of strategy.
Tim Means is washed but not too far gone to take out the green Welterweights. Always a somewhat scrappy fighter, during his twilight, Means is now the very definition of scrappy as he relies on durability and endurance to out-work opponents. Mike Perry should be more than skilled to take out the thirty-six-year-old Means. Sadly, Perry’s mental will hold him back. Mean’s can fight to a clear gameplan, and should be aiming to engage in a clinch with Perry against the cage. Many of Means’ most successful exchanges against Staropoli came from his successful striking in the clinch.
Predicted Result: Means Decision
Means is a durable, scrappy, whole-hearted fighter who can stick to a clear gameplan. Perry’s disorganised build-up to the fight raises genuine questions over his mental health. If Perry is to fight wildly, and without direction, as per the Mickey Gall fight, expect Means to keep Perry tied up in a clinch and ride his way to a decision.
Result: Means def. Perry // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1)
Chookagian is fighting just one month after her first-round stoppage to Jessica Andrade? Granted, it was body shots that forced the stoppage, but that still seems a ridiculously fast turn-around into a fight with another top Flyweight. Chookagian has ground out victories in the past based on her ability to fight at 100% until the very end. Having tightened up her striking, and now sitting down on her shots to deliver respectable power (e.g. against Antonina Shevchenko), Chookagian no longer solely relies on her tight high guard and footwork. Moreover, Chookagian has solid wrestling skills and can control foes on top.
Cynthia Calvillo is the next sweetheart that the UFC are desperate to push towards the title, but she hasn’t inspired in her last couple of scraps. Despite clocking up three rear-naked chokes during her early UFC days, Calvillo has since fallen in love with her bang average hands. Since moving away from her strong wrestling base, Calvillo has snoozed her way to decision wins against Jessica Eye and Cortney Casey.
Predicted Result: Calvillo Decision
Both women are fairly equal in terms of their stand-up, with Calvillo edging the power and Chookagian possessing far superior boxing defence. On the mat, however, Calvillo has a distinct advantage and should be pushing to get on top as soon as possible. Both ladies are durable, and will make this a long night for each other, and the viewers.
Result: Chookagian def. Calvillo // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Light Heavyweight (205)
Maurício Rua (27-11-1) vs Paul Craig (13-4-1)
Mate. What is this? I’m gonna be honest, I just have to pretend to be mad this on pay-per-view. In the UK, this is a free card to watch. And I’m going to be even more honest, I actually like this rematch. Their split decision draw a year ago was a scrappy, entertaining affair where Rua showed real heart to dig deep in Round 2 and 3 after Paul Craig had delivered a striking masterclass in Round 1. THE CHANCE FOR ANOTHER PAUL CRAIG STRIKING MASTERCLASS? Sign me up!
Rua has since won a sad decision victory over Little Nog, while Craig submitted the wild Antigulov in the first-round with… you guessed it, a triangle choke! Magomed Ankalaev will never live down that triangle choke loss with one-second left on the clock.
Predicted Result: Craig Decision
Craig is the fresher fighter, but his game planning is pretty abysmal. If he doesn’t make the same mistake of pouring everything into knocking out Shogun in the first round, he should be able to out-work Shogun, who fought at a snails pace against Little Nog.
Result: Craig def. Rua // TKO (submission to punches) Round 2 3:36
Brandon Moreno (17-5-1) vs Brandon Royval (12-4)
Certified banger of a fight. I’ve even cracked out the bold text for it. Big fan of both men and their potential in the Flyweight division. Moreno has been on the rise since his decision spanking to the very classy Alexandre Pantoja. An emphatic wrestler who grinds opponents down with intensity and strength, Moreno has also worked on his striking. Always possessing raw power, Moreno can now actually jab, and as such, his wild barrages of hooks are less telegraphed. Moreover, on the mat, Moreno has looked more comfortable than ever. With less erratic transitions, Moreno is more comfortable with buying himself a few seconds, before opening up with ground and pound.
It is hard not to love Brandon Royval. Brought in during the pandemic to be toasted by Tim Elliot, Royval has since been on a two-fight finish streak that included the aforementioned Elliot, and Kai Kara-France. Better yet, the two fights have been a treat to watch. Royval’s grappling is supremely promising, with a submission game that looks set to choke opponents as soon as the fight hits the mat. On the feet, Royval was more active and pressured Kara-France against the cage – a dangerous strategy which worked well in his favour. Despite being dropped early because of a sloppy guard, Royval showed a champion’s heart and recovery and was able to claw the fight back.
Predicted Result: Royval Submission Round 3
Moreno is too prone to mistakes to believe he won’t fall into a submission. On the feet, Moreno could edge this with his new and improved jab. Unfortunately, Moreno’s desire to take opponents down and grind them out will be his undoing. Royval has the cajones to take the fight to Moreno and force the fight down into his realm on the mat.
Result: Moreno def. Royval // TKO (punches) Round 1 4:59
Joaquin Buckley (11-3) vs Jordan Wright (11-0)
Buckley’s back after his murder of Impa Kasanganay just last month. A tank of a man, Buckley holds ridiculous power in his hands and can easily sleep opponents if he is able to overcome his reach disadvantage and enter the pocket. Moreover, Buckley possesses a wily clinch game that can avoid unnecessary takedowns.
Jordan Wright is man with a horrendous record. Padded to the highest heavens in the regionals, Wright was able to secure a long list of first-round stoppages against some of the very worst in MMA. A surprising victory in his UFC debut against the limited Ike Villanueva came about because of a bad cut. Still, Wright showcased his highlight reel striking and at least verified his power on the big stage.
Predicted Result: Buckley TKO Round 2
Wright’s erratic striking and power may be able to cause a quick upset, but Buckley is the far more polished power striker. Wright won’t find the same success in the clinch against Buckley, as he did Villanueva, and will eventually be caught by one of Buckley’s bombs.
Result: Buckley def. Wright // KO (punches) Round 2 0:18
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Antonina Shevchenko (8-2) vs Ariane Lipski (13-5)
Dreadful, dreadful fight. Antonina has no future in the UFC. Thirty-six years old, it is too late for Shevchenko to develop the necessary skillset to drive up the rankings. Losses to Roxanne Modafferi and Katlyn Chookagian highlighted that athleticism is not enough to win against ranked opposition. Fighting without the clear, calculated intent of her sister, Antonina remains in the UFC on name value.
Lipski, instead, is a prospect that is an easy sell for the UFC. Although thrown into the deep end during her debut, Lipski looked abysmal as she dropped decision losses to Joanne Calderwood and Molly McCann. Since then, Lipski has tightened up her graplling, and even secured a shock kneebar finish against Luana Carolina. Sadly, Lipski has been unwilling to brawl in the pocket as she did at the regional level, and has not produced many entertaining matches.
Predicted Result: Lipski Decision
Either fighter could take this, but Lipski’s Muay Thai makes her favourite. Shevchenko doesn’t throw with much volume, and this will allow Lipski to settle into a range that she is comfortable with. Moreover, Lipski’s tightening up of her ground game means that she will be able to survive and perhaps… thrive.
Result: Shevchenko def. Lipski // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:33
Nicolas Dalby (18-3-1) vs Daniel Rodriquez (13-1)
Nicolas Dalby was shocked a few months ago by last-minute call-up, Jesse Ronson. Stopped in the first-round, Dalby looked overpowered and outgunned in all departments. Then Jesse Ronson received a 20-month ban for anabolics. Disregarding the Ronson fight, Dalby had been on a crazy tear-up at Cage Warriors before successfully out-working Cowboy Oliveira on his return to the UFC. A well-rounded fighter, Dalby combines volume striking with frequent clinch work and takedowns to keep an opponent guessing.
Daniel Rodriquez is a hidden gem in the Welterweight division. Certainly not polished yet by any means, Rodriguez is a hectic power striker with an incredible chin. Almost slept by the concrete hands on Dwight Grant, Rodriguez was able to swallow a ton of punishment before delivering his own firepower. While Rodriguez may be outworked off of his back, Dalby will struggle to close the distance safely in order to secure a takedown.
Predicted Result: Rodriguez TKO Round 3
Rodriguez’s power will enhance further as he tightens up his fundamentals. Dalby is prone to putting himself into terrible positions and allowing himself to be dropped. Against Rodriguez, this is a lights out scenario.
Result: Dalby def. Rodriguez // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Alan Jouban (16-7) vs Jared Gooden (17-4)
Stupid, sexy Jouban. At thirty-eight, Jouban’s best days are past him. No longer willing to fight with risk, Jouban is happy to fight at a comfortable distance and was what caused him to drop a split decision against the more active, Dwight Grant.
Jared Gooden, a UFC debutant, is a kill or be killed fighter. Although his power hasn’t been tested at the higher levels, there is little reason to believe Jouban’s chin will hold up against Gooden.
Predicted Result: Jouban Decision
Gooden could bull-rush the veteran and end this fight extremely early. Jouban’s polished counter-striking, and ability to manage distance, will be skills that Gooden won’t have faced often at the regional level. Moreover, Jouban’s wrestling may be able to expose Gooden.
Result: Jouban def. Gooden// Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Kyle Daukaus (9-1) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (13-1)
Daukaus is a Middleweight freak at 6’3″ and owns a gas tank that keeps chugging late into the third. Despite being battered by Brendan Allen early in their contest, Daukaus was able to drag himself back into it and started to lay down real punishment by the end. An alright striker, Daukaus thrives in a Guida-esque role of constantly frustrating opponents with takedowns.
Stoltzfus is a grappler through and through. A patient striker, Stoltzfus will have to inject some much needed intensity to his striking if he wishes to close the distance against his mammoth foe. If the fight hits the mat, Stoltzfus has a wide array of submissions to secure victory but will struggle with the size of Daukaus.
Predicted Result: Daukaus Decision
Stoltzfus tends to finish his fights early, while Daukaus is renowned for his deep gas tank. With a reach and striking advantage, Daukaus will be able to keep himself away from the mat long enough for Stoltzfus’s submission threat to decline.
Result: Daukaus def. Stoltzfus // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Louis Cosce (7-0) vs Sasha Palatnikov (5-2)
Cosce has been killing folk left, right and centre in the regionals. Most recently sleeping Victor Reyna on DWCS, Cosce looks a real handful at Welterweight. Genuine power, Cosce hasn’t left the first-round, and surely the UFC wouldn’t rush a prospect before they’re ready…? Right…?
Palatnikov is a kind match-up. Two stoppage losses already at the regional level (granted, one was against Mounir Lazzez), Palatnikov is a striker who falls into his shots. From the tape available, Palanikov is sloppy on his straight shots and leaves his chin extended. Not good.
Predicted Result: Cosce TKO Round 1
Nightmare match-up for Palatnikov. With no real grappling chops, Palatnikov will be forced to duel on the feet against a man who has nuclear bombs for hands.
Result: Palatnikov def. Cosce // TKO (punches) Round 3 2:27
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs Perez
2020 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: Figgy pudding really bringing the spotlight back to the weakest men’s division.
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