Re-running their last-minute five-rounder, is anyone expecting a different result with Jorge Masvidal now having access to a full training camp?
UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal II Predictions & Results
Representing the first UFC card to be held in front of a live audience since the pandemic, UFC 261’s main card is an absolute banger. While the preliminaries are a bit shabby, largely filled with relatively unknown Far Eastern fighters, Dana is attempting to cash in on the big Chinese audience following national hero Weili Zhang. With three title fights headlining this mega event, and a somewhat ‘grudge’ rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, there is enough action and storylines for hardcore and casual fans alike.
The only real notable loss was the replacement of Johnny Walker for Anthony Smith to face off with fast-rising Jimmy Crute. Although Smith represents the far stronger, well-rounded challenge for Crute, Walker’s entertaining striking fireworks and utter lack of chin makes him an easy PPV draw. Instead, Crute will likely have to showcase his solid grappling chops against the thoroughly experienced veteran.
UFC Welterweight Championship
Kamaru Usman (18-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-14)
The Nigerian Nightmare, Kamaru Usman, is slowly crawling his way up the P4P rankings while putting to bed his reputation as a horrendously boring fighter. With two finishes in his last three fights, Usman’s recent stoppage streak is in large part due to huge strides made in his striking. A freak athlete for the weight class, Usman somehow kills himself to make 170 and as a result, has a mammoth size advantage over everyone in the division. Last time out against former teammate, Gilbert Burns, Usman controlled the fight with his jab. Although suffering a flash knockdown, perhaps the first chink shown in his otherwise immaculate armour, Usman otherwise dominated Burns through a combination of striking dominance and trademark cage pressure.
By now, all fans are well aware of the elite wrestling that Usman possesses. While Usman is more than capable of shooting in the centre of the octagon, the Nigerian’s best work is when he holds an opponent against the cage. Through smart head positioning, wrist control and his meme-like foot stomps, Usman remains active enough to capture rounds on the cards, break down opponent’s physically and mentally, and constantly threaten with trips. Due to Usman’s unrelenting pressure and deep gas tank, opponent’s are forced to carry their hands low to instinctively defend the inevitable takedown. As a result, Usman’s wrestling reputation has enabled him more freedom with his striking in the knowledge that opponents are unwilling to commit hard to counter. Moreover, Usman’s excellent octagon awareness and cutting off the cage negates one of Masvidal’s greatest assets – his ability to move laterally and control a comfortable striking distance.
Still, it isn’t all doom and gloom for Masvidal fans. Obviously, a full training camp and easier weight cut should have a marked impact on Masvidal’s ability to stop Usman from overpowering him on the cage during the championship rounds. Perhaps due to the last-minute nature of their fight previously, Masvidal’s decision to pour it all in the opening round was due to fears over his lack of conditioning and the need to gain respect from Usman. This time, Masvidal will be able to employ his jab, a key weapon of Masvidal’s arsenal throughout his career. While Usman has made clear developments on the jab, Masvidal needs to consistently pump out his own jab not only as a building block for combinations but also as a threat to Usman from squaring up and shooting. There may also be a return of the thunderous body kicks that caused even Wonderboy, a decorated karate champion, trouble when they faced back in 2017. Sure, the risk remains that Usman can eventually catch the kick and transition to the mat, but it would be a mistake to not incorporate such a powerful shot into his combinations.
Predicted Result: Usman Decision
Although some media voices may have written off the result of the rematch already, there remain many new factors that make Usman Masvidal II an intriguing affair. Masvidal having access to a full training camp (and less taxing weight cut) means he will no longer have to pour all his reserves into the first round to secure a finish or at least gain the respect of Usman. Masvidal’s TDD is capable of keeping the fight standing for long stretches of the fight, but the major issue remains of the fighting with his back to the cage. Sure, the obvious remedy would be to move laterally and continually maintain a comfortable position in the octagon. Usman’s striking, however, has developed massively throughout his championship reign. Dictating his most recent title defence with the jab, Usman exhibited the ability to effectively cut off the ring and use smart combinations to restrict avenues of exit for opponents. When Masvidal is inevitably backed onto the cage then, how does Gamebred crack the code that no other Welterweight has yet managed? With a size advantage, exceptional wrist control, head placement and his meme foot stomps – Usman is a relentless force with a never-ending gas tank, and no clear answer to his cage wrestling.
Result: Usman def. Masvidal // KO (punch) Round 2 1:02
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Strawweight (115)
UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship
Weili Zhang (21-1) vs Rose Namajunas (9-4)
Quite possibly the most important fight on the card, Zhang Namajunas is a banger between two of the top technical fighters in the sport. Chinese star, Weili Zhang, is a freak athlete with crazy power that has never been seen before at 115. Despite starting her UFC career based around the leg kick into the sidekick, Zhang has finally started to use her hands. No fight quite showcased her insane power than the war she shared with Joanna Jedrejczyk, in a fight that contrasted the single-shot nukes of Zhang with JJ’s relentless volume. The low calf kick is an excellent weapon that breaks the positioning of an opponent and squares their stance. With their feet displaced and facing Zhang square-on, Zhang makes up for her size disadvantage by rapidly closing the distance and throwing hard 1-2s. Power exchanges are Zhang’s bread and butter, and while the outside kicking game is clean, Zhang will not be able to beat the elite Strawweights unless she can work her way inside. The right straight, sometimes arced into a short right hook, is Zhang’s deadly weapon and was the key to cracking Jessica Andrade’s chin (and creating JJ’s alien head). With a 63″ reach, the right hand cannot be utilised unless Zhang can remain within striking range.
Unfortunately for Zhang, her opponent, Rose Namajunas, is one of the greatest movers in the octagon. Namajunas’ success stems from her ability to gauge the striking distance and constantly bounce around the border. Not does Rose’s movement mask her striking entries, but it also supports her defensive movement as opponents struggle to find a read. Rose’s long-bladed stance is a clear target for Zhang’s powerful calf kicks, but the frequent repositioning of the lead leg will create opportunities for Rose to counter Zhang whiffing on a kick. Often pivoting off her jab, Rose will be able to move with Zhang’s leg kicks that typically target the inside of the leg. Moreover, Rose’s frequent hand and shoulder force opponents to bite hard and break their defensive shell. If Rose can keep Zhang on the outside and engage in a clean kickboxing affair, her arsenal is far too diverse for Zhang to succeed. As the fight drags on, and Zhang can maintain her relentless pressure, there leaves more opportunity for the distance to close. While Rose can still fight effectively in the championship rounds, she still visibly dropped down a gear during the final rounds against JJ during their fast-paced rematch. This is all without talking about Rose’s clear advantage on the mat, however, I can’t see the fight making it to the ground.
Predicted Result: Zhang Decision
Perhaps one of the best fights which could be made throughout any division in the UFC, Zhang’s unrelenting pressure on the feet and her freak power differential should eventually overwhelm the classy outside kickboxing that Rose prefers. Utilising a low calf kick and sidekick, Zhang’s range fighting is simple but effective, yet it is largely used as a distance closer and a vehicle to in-fighting. While her calf kicks force opponent’s out of their stance, Zhang can unleash explosive bursts of short hooks on her square-on opponent. Zhang’s right hand melted Andrade’s notoriously granite chin in under a minute, as well as creating the alien baby that morphed onto JJ’s head. Rose has a clear advantage on the mat, but I personally just can’t see the fight ending up on the ground. Instead, Rose will utilise her shoulder and hand feints to force Zhang into predictable entries and walk onto hard counter hosts. Moreover, while Rose’s long stance may provide a target for Zhang’s powerful calf kicks, Rose’s frequent repositioning of the lead leg creates yet more opportunities for counters if/when Zhang whiffs on a kick. Expecting a cagey affair with Zhang pulling away in the championship rounds as she carries her power late and Rose is unable to control a comfortable striking range.
Result: Namajunas def. Weili // KO (head kick) Round 1 1:18
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Flyweight (125)
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship
Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) vs Jessica Andrade (21-8)
Drooling fanboys aside, Valentina Shevchenko has been a thoroughly dominant Flyweight champion and has shown little signs of losing her belt. One of the strongest tacticians at the elite level, Shevchenko is a crisp, technical striker that is can flip between point-striking kickboxer and dirty boxer inside the clinch. Of course, against Andrade, Shevchenko will be looking to utilise her four-inch reach advantage to keep a safe distance away from her opponent’s freak power. Shevchenko’s ability to maintain range will be necessary to stop the swarming offence of Andrade, who is more than happy to eat a shot to close the distance. In the clinch, Shevchenko opens up the possibility for Andrade’s shorter limbs to find a way to her chin, but the extremely experienced Muay Thai operator won’t shy away from clinch work if in dire need. Shevchenko may also have to call upon her solid ground game if she fails to keep her back off the cage. Andrade is a furious, unorthodox takedown artist and will likely bull-rush her way into a handful of successful takedowns.
Andrade was a freak at Strawweight and has so far looked doubly strong at Flyweight. The fridge shaped Brazilian will have to rely on her swarming forward momentum and granite chin to eventually catch Shevchenko against the cage. In the centre of the octagon, there is no way for Andrade to win on the outside – technically or physically. If Andrade can just walk through Shevchenko’s striking traps, however, she can use her powerful hands to rough up the champion’s body and set up for one of her trademark slams. While Andrade’s gap closers are often reserved to whirlwind bursts of hooks, showing little comfort in waiting in the pocket looking for counters, the Brazilian only needs to land one to gain respect from anyone at Flyweight. Unfortunately, on the mat, Andrade cannot rely on her size to overwhelm opponents from the top as she did at Flyweight.
Predicted Result: Shevchenko Decision
Shevchenko faces her first challenging title defence since perhaps JJ back at the end of 2018. One of the strongest tacticians across MMA, Shevchenko’s crisp technical striking relies on setting frequent traps and out-pointing opponents at range. With a four-inch reach advantage in this bout, Shevchenko will have to wheel laterally to ensure Andrade doesn’t simply walk her down to the cage. Against Jessica Eye, Shevchenko found great success with her body kick – a weapon that could be used on the somewhat stationary target of Andrade. The Brazilian’s key to success will be accepting eating a shot to continually press Shevchenko and look to work a slam off the cage. While it only takes one to land from Andrade to gain an opponent’s respect, she lacks the technical nuance to close the gap and will spend much of the night being peppered by point-scoring shots.
Result: Shevchenko def. Andrade // TKO (elbows) Round 2 3:19
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Chris Weidman (15-5) vs Uriah Hall (16-9)
Wow, a rematch of an ancient fight back in 2010 during the Ring of Combat days. Weidman’s use of the left hook was the key weapon that kept Hall on the back foot and unable to establish the necessary distance for his long, powerful strikes. Widman has been on a slide ever since losing his title to Luke Rockhold. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory every time, Weidman had been riding a 1-5 record over the past six years until he beat Omari Akhmedov in a very tense, yet uneventful decision victory. Unable to get his wrestling ticking, and gassing himself out in the process, Weidman showed great heart to reach the final bell and his chin (a major issue over the past few years) was able to hold up to Akhmedov’s tame power. Still active with feints, Weidman’s striking works behind his jab and keeps opponents stuck behind his straight shots. On the inside, Weidman’s striking defence starts to fall apart as his hands drop or paw out to parry. Undoubtedly, Weidman is still a top wrestler in the division and can grind out rounds from the top, but he has struggled to get the fight there during recent years.
Tasked with ending the legendary UFC career of Anderson Silva, Hall took his time before finding the finishing blow in the fourth round. Hall looked finished himself during the lead-up to the Bevon Lewis fight back in 2018, that was until the former highly rated kickboxing prospect was able to land a one-shot knockout in the third round. Never having lived up to the hype that the spinning hook kick over Adam Cella brought, back in the TUF days almost a decade ago, Hall has transitioned into an awkward back-foot striker despite crumbling to pressure strikers and wrestlers. This is in large part due to Hall’s choice in flashy spinning back-fists and kicks, which leave him surrendering ground with little in return. When Hall can press forward, and keep his combinations flowing, he can freeze opponent’s into a shell as the variety in Hall’s arsenal is freakish.
Predicted Result: Hall TKO Round 3
Hall’s downfall has long been pressure fighters and aggressive wrestlers, which Weidman has shown to excel at. Despite finding a W against Omari Akhmedov, Weidman gassed himself out after the first couple rounds in which he was unable to secure a takedown. Fighting on fumes by the third round, Weidman’s chin held up but didn’t settle the nerves about his wafer-thin durability in recent years. Both men are still clear UFC calibre, only losing to top dogs at Middleweight, yet Hall has been building a steady bit of form capped off with a marquee scalp over Anderson Silva. Hall’s problems of lack of volume and poor positioning in the cage remain, but he fights visibly less weathered than Weidman.
Result: Hall def. Weidman // TKO (leg injury) Round 1 0:17
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Light Heavyweight (205)
Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jimmy Crute (12-1)
Somehow, some way, gatekeeper turned contender, Anthony Smith, was able to bounce back after two arse whoopings against Glover Teixeira and Alexsander Rakic to stop rising prospect Devin Clark in the first round. Although only thirty years old in an old man’s division, Smith has weathered a lot of damage along the way (including the many weight cuts and injuries), and realistically there aren’t many avenues left for Smith if he is to lose to Crute on Saturday. For the first time in a while, Smith has also been able to rest fully after his last fight – which could bring marked improvements. Smith has an undeniably strong heart, and he will be willing to drag Crute deep into the later rounds to truly test the prospect. Moreover, even against Crute’s aggressive wrestling, Smith can throw up an arsenal of submissions off of his back which could catch the Aussie. On the feet, Crute has the marked speed and power advantage, but Smith is longer and has recently found great success with intercepting knees and elbows.
Big Jimmy Crute is re-building his way up the Light Heavyweight rankings after his shock first-round submission loss to Misha Cirkunov. Crute isn’t the most technical striker, but he carries heavy hands and is willing to commit to hard counters every time an opponent advances. Crute’s leg kick will likely cause Smith issues as it will root him to the ground later in the fight. An aggressive wrestler, Crute dives for the hips and uses his raw strength to keep control of opponents. Crute is an attritional wrestler who will continue to ragdoll his foes to the mat, leaving them with little room to escape.
Predicted Result: Crute Decision
At only thirty-two, you’d be forgiven for thinking Smith had the skillset left to once again challenge for the LHW title, but with fifty fights under his belt and two extensive arse-whoopings recorded in his last three fights, Smith will surely be showing signs of weathering soon. Smith has always struggled against aggressive wrestlers, and while Smith has the chin to weather the early power of Crute on the feet, the Aussie is relentless in pursuing the takedown. Smith appeared to mentally snap against Rakic and ride out the decision loss – Crute has the skillset to break Smith once again.
Result: Smith def. Crute // TKO (doctor stoppage) Round 1 5:00
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Randy Brown (12-4) vs Alex Oliveira (22-9-1)
Just what do we do with Randy Brown? A mammoth 6’3″ at Welterweight, Brown is a slick kickboxer but he fails to throw his jab with enough frequency. Despite owning a 78″ reach, Brown uses his lead hand to feint and manoeuvre opponents, but rarely snaps into a meaningful shot. Instead, Brown hooks off the jab, an excellent technique for catching opponents unaware – but it is an unnecessary risk for Brown. Against Luque, the Brazilian was unable to close the distance – so Brown removed that obstacle for him by feinting into a short hook that left him in the range of Luque’s hard counters. On the mat, Brown can hold his own with a desire to chase submissions, yet he can be overwhelmed by pressure (i.e. Belal Muhammad).
The real question is what illegal move will Alex Oliveira pull in the octagon this time? The notorious bad boy inside and outside the cage, Oliveira has to be considered a Welterweight gatekeeper at this point. Having ridden in the Welterweight division based on his natural athleticism, Oliveira has noticeably declined with age. Still, Oliveira has made strides in rounding out his skills – now more patiently striking on the outside with precision, rather than his previous explosive bursts that drained his gas tank incredibly fast. When Oliveira in the clinch with Brown, however, he has to ensure the larger man doesn’t weigh on him and drain whatever reserves he saves for the third round.
Predicted Result: Brown TKO Round 3
This is a crossroads fight for both men, more so for the Brazilian veteran, Alex Oliveira. Brown is a mammoth 6’3″ at Welterweight, who despite owning a 78″ reach, fails to utilise his jab fully. While a few long kicks and straights are used, the volume is frustratingly poor and instead Brown often feints into short hooks that sting opponents, but also close the distance for opponents and allow them to counter. Oliveira has started to decline after his natural athleticism has taken a hit due to age, but the Brazilian has ironed out his raw striking into a somewhat composed, methodical technique. The best action will appear in the clinch and the mat, but it will be whoever suffered the least damage on the feet that decides the result on the ground.
Result: Brown def. Oliveira // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1 2:50
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Dwight Grant (10-3) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-3)
Dwight Grant returns after his first-round fireworks with Daniel Rodriguez in which Grant almost secured an early stoppage before being put away himself. Grant is a durable fighter with crazy heavy hands, but his counter-heavy style means it takes an aggressive opponent to see the PPV quality in Grant. Grant’s kicks are heavily underrated, especially the leg kick which should be used more often during periods of inactivity. While Grant can swing for the cheap seats with his hooks, his unorthodox angles mean when opponents are caught unaware they feel the effects hard.
Long-time Serbian scene operator, Stefan Sekulic, put in a brave performance against Ramazan Emeev in his UFC debut back in 2018. Having not fought since his debut, Sekulic spent three years on the sidelines after popping for PEDs (drostanolone, a common steroid in MMA). Now a clean fighter and with certain ring-rust, who knows what fighter will enter the cage on Saturday night. Sekulic uses a variety of kicks to keep opponents on the outside, before unleashing his boxing when he is backed against the cage. His grappling chops are decent enough, but Sekulic lacks the physicality to bully the top guys.
Predicted Result: Grant Decision
After three years on the sidelines after popping for PEDs (drostanolone), who knows what version of Stefan Sekulic will enter the octagon on Saturday night? During his UFC debut against Ramazan Emeev, Sekulic showed solid grappling chops but lacking the wrestling needed to stop opponents from walking him down. Grant is a difficult man to takedown, and with a reach advantage, his powerful counters should find a home all night. Grant is still an unfinished product, but there is a lot to get excited about.
Result: Grant def. Sekulic // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Brendan Allen (15-4) vs Karl Roberson (9-3)
Brendan Allen’s leaky striking defence and poor gas tank were finally exposed at a decent level by Sean Strickland in his last outing. Allen is still a young prospect with great physicality and exceptional grappling ability, yet still lacks the wrestling chops to transition the fight to his best area without sustaining considerable punishment. Once on top, Allen hammers down with ground and pound in search of a submission – certainly one of the more exciting ground fighters to be found in the heavier weight classes.
Karl Roberson has effectively only fought one round of MMA since 2019, a first-round submission loss to Marvin Vettori. Due to scheduling issues, weight issues and COVID, Roberson has been out of the octagon for a considerable amount of time – a time when Roberson needed to kickstart his career if he wanted to climb the rankings. Roberson is a slick out fighter, owing to his kickboxing background, but his luke-warm grappling means Allen should have no trouble in simply out-muscling Roberson against the cage (such as Vettori did). While Roberson will give Allen trouble in getting to the mat, he doesn’t have many answers when his back is against the cage.
Predicted Result: Allen Submission Round 1
If Karl Roberson can scramble effectively in the first round, he will be able to pull away in the remaining two rounds based on his slick kickboxing and Allen’s horrendous gas tank. Unfortunately, Roberson has regularly fallen to opponents based on his lack of grappling chops, despite a decent TDD. Allen is durable and physically strong enough to walk down Roberson and pressure him against the cage. Allen’s leaky striking defence can’t be exposed if he has control of his opponents back.
Result: Allen def. Roberson // Submission (ankle lock) Round 1 4:55
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Tristan Connelly (14-6) vs Pat Sabatini (13-3)
Yay, Tristan Connelly returns for the first time since defeating Michel Pereira in a WILD fight back in 2019. Connelley is moving down in weight to a much more natural 145, an excellent decision as Connelly’s grinding grappling relies on technical savvy rather than blistering pace or power.
Regional fighter, Pat Sabatini, is a decent wrestler with a clear taste for submission finishes. An athletic monster, Sabatini will be the far bigger man on the night and will want to take the fight to the mat immediately. On top, Sabatini will struggle to find a finish against the experience of Connelly but there is little reason to question Sabatini’s ability to rack up huge periods of control time.
Predicted Result: Sabitini Decision
Despite the fairy-tale debut in the UFC, there are rarely long-term fairy-tale stories in the combat world. Tristan Connelly shocked the odds when he simply out-lasted Michel Pereira back in 2019, despite fighting several weight classes out of his comfort range. Although Connelly’s grinding grappling will find more success at 145, Sabitini will still be the larger man and has him beat on the mat. Connelly’s compact striking could leave Sabitini overextending and being caught, but the most obvious route to victory will be Sabatini chasing a takedown and riding out the rounds on top.
Result: Sabatini def. Connelly // Decision (unanimous – 29-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Danaa Batgerel (8-2) vs Kevin Natividad (9-2)
Danaa Batgerel is a decent kickboxer, who uses kicks as range-finders and his boxing as the significant damage deliverer. There isn’t much in the way of head movement, but Batgerel’s footwork is his offensive/defensive vehicle which creates his striking opportunities. Batgerel’s low-hanging lead hand means that Batgerel’s left hook slips past the eyeline of opponents and cracks the chin (i.e. Guido Cannetti).
Kevin Natividad is a strong grappler but far too easy to coax into a war on the feet. Against Batgerel, a fighter who can be taken down with enough energy and time devoted to the task, Natividad will most likely concede that the fight will remain on the feet and attempt to duel with the Mongolian.
Predicted Result: Batgerel Decision
Neither man is destined to claim the Bantamweight gold, but Batgerel is a sharp kickboxer with excellent footwork that ensures the fight keeps to the range and pace he desires. Natividad is the superior grappling, but Batgerel has decent enough TDD, and Natividad lacks the tenacity to follow through with a wrestling-heavy game plan and instead will duke it out on the feet.
Result: Batgerel def. Natividad // TKO (punches) Round 1 0:50
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Zhu Rong (17-3) vs Rodrigo Vargas (11-4)
Debutant, Zhu Rong, has ridden a huge stretch of finishes in the WLF (Wu Lin Feng – Chinese promotion). At only twenty-one years old, and with twenty professional fights already under his belt, Rong would appear on paper to be an excellent addition to the UFC roster. Unfortunately, many of Rong’s victories can be found fighters with less than stellar records – but there is also the odd name that indicates Rong isn’t simply a paper record hype job. There is a LOT, and I mean A LOT, of work that needs to made on Rong’s back-foot defence and counters – but when Rong can fight off the front-foot he can slowly piece apart opponents with measured combinations.
Rodrigo Vargas could be looking at the end of his contract if he is unable to find the W on Saturday, already riding an 0-2 record to kickstart his UFC career. At thirty-five, Vargas’ athleticism is declining but he remains a powerful striker. The lack of speed in his snaps leaves him open for Rong to hit, but he will have ample opportunity to time counters against Rong.
Predicted Result: Rong Decision
Rong is a twenty-one-year-old prospect who carries a deep professional record littered with finishes on the feet. There is a lot to get excited about, but Rong’s competition in the WLF hasn’t exactly been stellar and for what footage I could find online – Rong is laughably bad fighting off of his back-foot. Vargas may be 0-2 in the UFC, his athleticism declining at thirty-five years of age, but he is still a powerful striker who could make Rong pay if he presses the action.
Result: Vargas def. Rong // Decision (unanimous – 29-28 29-28, 30-26)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Jeff Molina (8-2) vs Qileng Aori (18-6)
DWCS prospect, Jeff Molina, is a volume striker with a fairly leaking striking defence. Making up for his lack of speed or power, Molina consistently pumps out head kicks and short boxing combinations to keep opponents on the back foot. Molina has excellent scrambles, and a powerful top game, but whether Molina can work Aori to the ground is a different question.
Another product of the WLF, Qileng Aori, is a pressure fighter who presses opponents against the cage and stands flat-footed aiming to generate maximum power in his shots. Aori appears to have a solid chin, making up for his lack of striking defence, but he is a limited fighter.
Predicted Result: Molina Decision
DWCS prospect, Jeff Molina, is a volume striker who will be able to make the most of Aori’s complete lack of striking defence. While Aori presses opponents in his flat-footed plods, he can generate huge power that may catch Molina, but most likely Molina will continue to land flush on Aori and capture the scorecards. Both men are decent wrestlers, but their scrambles are equally strong.
Result: Molina def. Aori // Decision (unanimous – 29-28 29-28, 29-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Women’s Strawweight (115)
Ariane Carnelossi (12-2) vs Na Liang (15-4)
Ariane Carnelossi has got to pop for PEDs soon, holy sh*t her arms look like balloons in the octagon. The powerful pressure boxer carries a lot of power, but her lack of head movement saw her eat a lot of punishment from Angela Hill. Carnelossi’s low kick is a fine strike which isn’t often seen used effectively at Strawweight.
Our final WLF product, Na Liang, is a twenty-four-year-old prospect who chases submissions like they are going out of fashion. While Liang was exposed on the mat by Juliana Velasquez in Bellator back in 2017, Liang has ironed out her craft since then. With a six-inch reach advantage, Liang will be able to survive the striking exchanges but the issue is how will Liang get the fight to the mat to secure a submission.
Predicted Result: Carnelossi Decision
Carnelossi has to be favoured simply by virtue of having fought competently against solid competition. While Liang is still improving at twenty-four, will carry a six-inch reach advantage into the fight, and can always threaten with a submission off her back – she has regularly wilted in the face of tough opposition.
Result: Carnelossi def. Liang // TKO (punches) Round 2 1:28
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: Fantastic night of finishes, where do we begin? The end of the Masvidal hype train? Namajunas the first woman to win back her title? Weidman suffering a similar fate as former foe, Anderson Silva?
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