UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3 Predictions

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UFC 264: Poirier vs McGregor 3 Predictions & Results

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In a pleasing twist, UFC 264 is a PPV card with a few decent fights in the undercard. Usually, the UFC crams in as much filler as possible on a McGregor card. Sure, there is a Jessica Eye fight shoe-horned in, but there are also some tasty bouts befitting the numbered UFC 264 event. Ryan Hall and Ilia Topuria, Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson, and Sugar Sean vs a bin man all feature. Whether you’re a fan of the Diamond or a Proper Twelve drinker, UFC 264 is a must-watch event.

Despite owning the least threatening physique for an MMA fighter, Ryan Hall is one of the scariest submission artists in the world | UFC 264
Despite owning the least threatening physique for an MMA fighter, Ryan Hall is one of the scariest submission artists in the world | UFC 264

UFC 264: Main Event

Dustin Poirier (27-6) vs Conor McGregor (22-5)

Lightweight (155)

Dustin Poirier

While it may not have been the only factor behind Poirier’s victory, the low kick ruled supreme in his second contest with McGregor. Tearing up the Irishman’s lead leg below the knee, McGregor was wobbling by the second round. Moreover, by probing with a beautiful jab, Poirier had forced McGregor to initiate the opening exchanges. Rolling back with his awkward, elbow-raised shoulder roll, Poirier rolled with Conor’s lethal left straight and took away the patented sting. Far more comfortable on the back-foot than during their first bout, Poirier kept his eyes on the incoming shots rather than instinctively shelling up. As McGregor overextended and left excess weight on his lead leg, Poirier stabbed with a jab, threw a powerful counter right hook or chopped with a leg kick.

Perhaps overlooked after the visible success of the low kicks, Poirier’s shifting forward movement camouflaged an extra savvy takedown. Baiting an overhand out of the switching stances, Poirier instead changed levels and sat McGregor on his butt early. Although McGregor was able to get back to the feet and hold his own in the clinch, Poirier’s wrestling stemmed McGregor’s early offensive potency. By posing questions of the takedown to McGregor, Poirier forced McGregor to overextend further into his punches as to keep his hips far behind himself.

Fighting out of Southpaw, thus nullifying McGregor’s typical left high kick-left straight combo, Poirier appears to remain a stylistic nightmare for the Irishman at 155. Durable and possessing a frustrating guard, Poirier could easily once again ride an early storm to pull ahead of a flagging McGregor post-second round.

Conor McGregor

Trilogies have to be won if a fighter wants to be considered one of the best. While Featherweight Conor will always remain a mythical fighter, Lightweight Conor has never really achieved the same notoriety. If McGregor wants to avoid having his leg chewed up similarly, there are three realistic responses. Firstly, long front kicks can counter Poirier as he squares up to throw the calf kick. Secondly, fighting fire with fire and throwing his leg kicks. McGregor traded low kicks with Poirier at the start of the second round, and although too little too late, they still left a definitive mark. Finally, and perhaps most realistic, is to retract the lead leg. Checking a low kick is difficult due to the need to turn the leg while also planting it into the mat. Instead, McGregor showed a couple of times against Poirier that he is capable of reading then retracting his leg.

Poirier’s shoulder rolls and granite chin at 155 didn’t seem all that bothered by McGregor’s left-hand last time out. While it would be silly to question whether McGregor could spark Poirier’s lights, the open mid-rift of Poirier is a more assured route to victory. As Poirier rolls back and covers both sides of his chin, his open body has yet to be exploited by any fighter consistently. Max Holloway made a mark during the championship rounds of their rematch, but the early head-hunting had dropped too many rounds. While McGregor still leads with his face on the body straight, Poirier looked reluctant to counter on the rare times he focused the body.

It wasn’t all a Poirier blowout, however. McGregor did enjoy patches of success, often coming off the jab-lead hook into his famous left straight. By doubling up on the lead hand, McGregor closed the distance safely before enabling his left to work around Poirier’s guard. Follow up body kicks, or even a body jab, would create further issues for Porier and force a response. Also, while it may be a meme to think about, but McGregor can always surprise with his wrestling. Heavily under-utilised throughout his MMA career, McGregor showcased his wrestling chops many years ago against Max Holloway.

Predicted Result: Poirier TKO Round 3

In a make or break fight for McGregor, it makes it incredibly difficult to predict whether the Irishman is still capable of putting aside his ego and implementing necessary changes to his approach. Poirier’s low kick may have reigned supreme last time out, but his awkward shoulder rolls and crisp counter punching were also vital to Diamond’s victory. Poirier’s durability, southpaw stance and wrestling also created questions for McGregor, without considering the clear conditioning issues he experiences during the championship rounds.

Still, this is Conor McGregor. Ever dangerous in the first round, McGregor carries a nuclear-left hand alongside a canny knack of reading opponents from the get-go. Undoubtedly, McGregor will be capable of responding to Poirier’s kicking barrage by retracting his lead leg, trading low kicks or awkwardly checking the low kicks. Rather, McGregor’s biggest change needs to be towards his over-extension on the left straight. While McGregor was able to catch Poirier flush a couple of times, more often than not the Irishman was peppered with a sharp jab or hard right hook.

With a greater focus on Poirier’s body, wide open as a result of his awkward high guard, McGregor’s stabbing front kicks or a probing body jab would create Diamond real defensive issues. When considering the vast improvements made to Poirier’s game over the years, however, it is far safer to predict Poirier riding an early storm before finishing an exhausted McGregor.

Result: Poirier def. McGregor // TKO (leg injury) Round 1 5:00

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

It was at this moment, Conor McGregor realised he shouldn't have sold his Proper Twelve shares | UFC 264
It was at this moment, Conor McGregor realised he shouldn’t have sold his Proper Twelve shares | UFC 264

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UFC 264: Co-Main Event

Gilbert Burns (19-4) vs Stephen Thompson (16-4-1)

Welterweight (170)

Gilbert Burns

A growing fan favourite, Burns is extremely dangerous due to his speed and power. Low kicks are a key weapon of Burns’ arsenal and a vital factor in this bout. If Burns can stay patient in the centre of the octagon, forcing Thompson to initiate exchanges, he can chop away with gruesome leg kicks. By slowing Wonderboy’s liquid footwork early, it will make the cage cutting far less taxing during the championship rounds. Unfortunately for Burns, he visibly declines after the first round. A power-first approach burns his gas tank and could leave him a sitting duck against the breathless volume of Wonderboy. Moreover, Burns’ tendency to throw blind kicks will allow Wonderboy to land hard counters in a similar vein to Usman.

Worse yet, Burns’ is susceptible to be being pieced up by jabs. A stoic mover of the head, Burns’ can be regularly caught with a snappy jab. Still, with a long background in BJJ, Burns’ groundwork is certainly of note. If Thompson ends up on his back for an extended period, the likelihood of a Burns submission is high. Unfortunately, Burns’ lacks the wrestling needed to overcome Thompson and is fairly reliant on a knockdown to take this to the mat.

Stephen Thompson

After the Pettis KO, Wonderboy has looked nigh-on unbeatable. Enduring a patchy 2016-2019 where the Karate King secured only one victory in five fights, Thompson still shone in all of his defeats. Sniping with lunging attacks, Wonderboy breaks opponents over time while keeping fights standing with his exceptional TDD. A master of controlling distance and angles, Wonderboy changes entry by mere inches to fire shots through an opponent’s guard.

If there were ever a fighter who deserved another title shot, it would be the NMF. Technically polished on the outside, Thompson bleeds opponents with sidekicks and jabs, before landing simple but lightning-fast boxing combinations. Although vulnerable against the cage, and when forced to trade in the pocket for extended periods, Thompson is impossible to root without peppering his legs. Pressuring Wonderboy is a soul-destroying yet necessary tactic. After cutting off the cage, Wonderboy is durable and defensively slick enough to spot an exit to reset himself in the centre.

Predicted Result: Wonderboy Decision

If there were ever a fighter who deserved another title shot, it would be the NMF. Technically polished on the outside, Thompson bleeds opponents with sidekicks and jabs, before landing simple but lightning-fast boxing combinations. A master of controlling distance and angles, Wonderboy changes entry by mere inches to fire shots through an opponent’s guard.

Burns is a live dog in this affair, especially when considering his freakish power and affinity for burning hot starts. The Brazilian’s chopping low kick also offers a counter to Thompson’s liquid footwork. The visible decline in Burns’ output past the first round, however, could leave him a sitting duck. More so when considering Burns’ lack of head movement and often blind power shots. While Burns’ BJJ remains a factor, his wrestling isn’t on a level to threaten Wonderboy and is reliant on a knockdown to take this to the ground.

Result: Burns def. Wonderboy // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Disrespected once again by the bookies, Wonderboy out-classed Geoff Neal over five rounds | UFC 264
Disrespected once again by the bookies, Wonderboy out-classed Geoff Neal over five rounds | UFC 264

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UFC 264: Main Card

Tai Tuivasa (12-3) vs Greg Hardy (7-3)

Heavyweight (265)

Tai Tuivasa

Remarkably durable, Tuivasa only stoppage loss of recent memory was against the legendary JDS. Despite spending four years in the UFC, Tuivasa appears to have added little to his game. Still needing to bully opponents to succeed, Tuivasa will be walking onto Hardy’s power to pressure his opponent. If Tuivasa can hang with Hardy’s first-round power, then Bam Bam can easily dirty box the ex-NFL player against the cage. Moreover, there is no doubting the mental of Tuivasa unlike that of athlete turned fighter, Hardy.

Last time out against Harry Hunsucker, Tuivasa employed hard leg kicks from the opening bell. Although they were thrown blind, against the stationary target of Hardy, Tuivasa will find great success with kicks if mixed in with boxing combinations. There is a surprisingly level of head movement when closing distance, but it is still not on a level that Tuivasa’s aggression can be confidently backed against Hardy’s power.

Greg Hardy

Love him or hate him, Greg Hardy is a humungous Heavyweight. Possessing a huge reach, frame and power in both hands, Hardy is slowly improving with every fight in the UFC. More confident in the clinch, engaging in hand-fighting, attempting to make intelligent reads – they are all key pieces behind solid fighters. Unfortunately, as seen against Tybura, Hardy lacks the granite mental needed to climb the UFC rankings. After gassing and unable to raise his weight off the mat, he looked for a way out.

A better counter puncher than given credit for, Hardy is more than capable of timing his huge power on Tuivasa’s aggressive wading offence. When Hardy peppered Tybura’s liver shots, he was able to land hard counters on the panicked Pole. Tuivasa is a hittable fighter, and although durable, is vulnerable to the body. Hardy will have at least the first round to find the stoppage as his immense strength will be enough to keep the fight standing and off the cage.

Predicted Result: Tuivasa TKO Round 3

Tuivasa is a very poor fighter, but he has the chin and style that could break Hardy’s questionable mental. Although the ex-NFL player has made huge leaps in his skillset, his gas tank will forever remain an issue. The chance of Hardy catching a KO in the first round is likely. Tuivasa wades forward with little nuance, often relying on his natural durability, while Hardy can effectively time hard counters. Still, if Tuivasa can keep his head between his shoulders, his relentless pressure will eventually lead to overwhelming Hardy against the cage. Dirty boxing and leg kicks will drag Hardy into a world of trouble and force him to look for a way out by the end of their contest.

Result: Tuivasa def. Hardy // KO (punches) Round 1 1:07

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Irene Aldana (12-6) vs Yana Kunitskaya (14-5)

Women’s Bantamweight (135)

Irene Aldana

Utilising her height, Aldana draws upon her boxing chops to out-jab opponents. A strong counter-puncher, Aldana shines when opponents walk onto her sharp combinations. Jerky lateral movement combines with a snapping jab for much of the early proceedings. After making the necessary reads, Aldana is more willing to commit with her powerful right hand.

Unfortunately for Aldana, she has regularly failed to dominate affairs when forced onto the front foot. Both Raquel Pennington and Holly Holm forced the Mexican to close distance, which left her gun shy and nullified her exceptional volume off the back-foot. By fighting to her opponent’s game plan, Aldana needlessly drops rounds. Still, with a lovely liver shot, Aldana remains one of the more entertaining fighters if matched up correctly.

Yana Kunitskaya

It is such a shame then that Kunitskaya often brings the absolute worst fight possible. Not in terms of game planning, the Russian is one of the savviest fighters on the roster. No, Kunitskaya instead willingly fights tediously if it ensures victory. While I’m sure no one would begrudge a fighter for choosing the path posing the least damage, Kunitskaya must also understand that no fan wishes to watch it.

Disgustingly patient on the outside, Kunitskaya happily drags fighters into point-style kickboxing. More often though, Kunitskaya snatches up a neck and pushes opponents against the cage. With slappy punches in the clinch that just about justify ‘work’, opponents often pull guard to escape off their back. Instead, Kunitskaya adopts a lay and pray approach which… ugh.

Predicted Result: Kunitskaya Decision

In the right match-ups, Aldana is one of the more entertaining fighters at Women’s Bantamweight. Jerky lateral movement combined with a snapping jab offers Aldana enough time to make necessary reads. Opening up with her right hand over the ensuing rounds, Aldana carries surprising power and makes a committed effort to dig into the body. Kunitskaya, unfortunately, will drag this fight into an ugly grappling affair. Safe enough to survive on the outside, Kunitskaya can easily force Aldana into fighting against the cage from where the Russian will adopt her lukewarm dirty boxing and lay n pray approaches.

Result: Aldana def. Kunitskaya // TKO (punches) Round 1 4:35

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Sean O’Malley (13-1) vs Kris Moutinho (9-4)

Bantamweight (135)

Sean O’Malley

Is this anything other than a tailor-made win for O’Malley and his biscuit legs? What is most frustrating is that O’Malley now takes a monumental step back after the wonderfully equal bout against Thomas Almeida. There was little reason not to fight Ricky Simon, other than his management fearing a potential stylistic nightmare (of which, is debatable).

Sugar Sean is an athletic specimen with a long frame and an incredible eye for openings. Utilising a variety of feints, O’Malley sets up his power shots and wastes little excess energy when trapping opponents. A heavy hitter at 135 is gold dust, and it is no wonder that Dana remains hot on the O’Malley train despite his crushing loss to Chito Vera.

Kris Moutinho

Moutinho approaches with long, slow feints that aim to block an opponents vision but he lacks the footwork needed to avoid damage at range. Moutinho’s led leg is wide open for punishment, and outside of a strong lead hook, there is little variety in the arsenal.

Often failing to correctly gauge the striking range, Moutinho drops his hands at the worst possible times. Considering O’Malley’s strength, speed and power, Moutinho is going to struggle to gain any sort of foothold.

Predicted Result: O’Malley TKO Round 1

Is this anything other than a tailor-made win for O’Malley and his biscuit legs? What is most frustrating is that O’Malley now takes a monumental step back after the wonderfully equal bout against Thomas Almeida. Often failing to correctly gauge the striking range, Moutinho drops his hands at the worst possible times. Considering O’Malley’s strength, speed and power, Moutinho is going to struggle to gain any sort of foothold.

Result: O’Malley def. Moutinho // TKO (punches) Round 3 4:33

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

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UFC 264: Preliminary Card

Max Griffin (17-8) vs Carlos Condit (32-13)

Welterweight (170)

Max Griffin

Max Griffin is another easy fighter to get behind. A long time company man, Griffin has evolved as a fighter over the past few years. More aggressive on the feet than before, Griffin fights behind his straight shots and benefits from natural hand speed. Moreover, Griffin’s wrestling chops are a worthy Plan B for rough times. A solid chain wrestling, Griffin has the skills to walk Condit down and overwhelm his ageing opponent to the mat.

Carlos Condit

Defying Father Time, Carlos Condit has pieced together a decent little win streak. Sure, it was over Court McGee and Matt Brown, but long-time UFC fans will hardly begrudge a veteran taking a few fights away from Welterweight elite. Recently focusing on his length, Condit peppered McGee and Brown with jabs, outworking his opponents to the scorecards. If Condit can drag Griffin into a war on the feet, NBK’s durability should once again hold up as he drowns Griffin in volume.

Predicted Result: Griffin Decision

If Griffin actively used his wrestling, this would be a far easier fight to call. Unfortunately, despite solid wrestling chops, Griffin often only utilises his wrestling when he is well behind on the scorecards. While Griffin can tangle with Condit on the feet, Condit’s durability and volume are more likely to catch the scorer’s eyes. This is a very winnable fight for Condit, but his TDD will forever remain an issue.

Result: Griffin def. Condit // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Niko Price (14-4) vs Michel Pereira (25-11)

Welterweight (170)

Niko Price

It’s hard not to love Niko Price. The man lives for violence. Despite an elite personality and a penchant for unorthodox stoppages, Price owns a novice mentality. Unable to fight behind a controlled gameplan, Price wastes his natural power by reactively fighting to what appears before him. Capable of pushing a relentless pace, to say Price neglects defence in favour of aggression would be doing the American a disservice. Without a doubt, a magnet resides inside Price’s noggin that attracts the highest level of CTE possible. Considering the volume of damage he is capable of eating, Price is a tough, durable opponent that manages to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Michel Pereira

Extremely athletic and still young enough to develop, Michel Pereira is a fighter reborn. Tossing aside the wild unorthodox striking that entertained during his early UFC tenure, Pereira now favours more technical striking. While the proposed barn-burner against Khaos Williams never truly set alight, Pereira fought behind an educated jab. Without lunging in erratically, Pereira forced Williams into setting the pace which the frighteningly powerful counter puncher was unable to do. Huge strides need to be made before Pereira can comfortably box to decisions against elite opponents, but the natural athletic base is there.

Predicted Result: Pereira TKO Round 3

Extremely athletic and still young enough to develop, Michel Pereira is a fighter reborn. Tossing aside the wild unorthodox striking that entertained during his early UFC tenure, Pereira now favours more technical striking. While the proposed barn-burner against Khaos Williams never truly set alight, Pereira fought behind an educated jab. Without lunging in erratically, Pereira forced Williams into setting the pace which the frighteningly powerful counter puncher was unable to do. Huge strides need to be made before Pereira can comfortably box to decisions against elite opponents, but the natural athletic base is there.

Result: Pereira def. Price // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Ryan Hall (8-1) vs Ilia Topuria (10-0)

Featherweight (145)

Ryan Hall

Despite two full years out the octagon (save a couple of days), Ryan Hall returns with a huge amount of anticipation. Owning one of the most unique skillsets across MMA, Hall’s exceptional BJJ is a threat to anyone at Featherweight. How Hall gets the fight to the mat, however, is more often the entertaining aspect of his fights. Fighting behind long, explosive kicks in the knowledge that opponents are unwilling to take him down, Hall battered Darren Elkins and Gray Maynard. Still, regular injuries, an ageing body and less than stellar scalps on the record leave question marks over Hall’s future in the sport.

Ilia Topuria

Topuria is a ridiculously aggressive body destroyer. Representing one of the only fighters on the roster that will actively seek to test Hall on the mat, Topuria’s hot pursuit for submissions could catch him in hot water. Fortunately for Topuria, his stand-up should work a treat. Crisp boxing, specifically his continued focus on the body, will land far more often than Hall’s ambitious spinning kicks. If Topuria can remain savvy enough to prevent a Ryan Hall roll and heel hook combo, his boxing in the pocket and top game should inflict serious damage.

Predicted Result: Topuria Decision

Despite two full years out the octagon (save a couple of days), Ryan Hall returns with a huge amount of anticipation. Hall’s exceptional BJJ is a threat to anyone at Featherweight if he can coax opponents to the mat. Fighting behind long, explosive kicks, Hall explodes on the feet, safe in the knowledge that opponents are unwilling to take him down. Topuria represents one of the only fighters on the roster that will actively seek to test Hall on the mat. Crisp boxing, specifically his continued focus on the body, will land far more often than Hall’s ambitious spinning kicks. If Topuria remains alert to Hall’s unorthodox rolls, his boxing and top game should inflict serious damage.

Result: Topuria def. Hall // KO (punches) Round 1 4:47

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Dricus Du Plessis (15-2) vs Trevin Giles (14-2)

Middleweight (185)

Dricus Du Plessis

Viciously aggressive on the feet, Du Plessis recklessly blitzes forward to sleep opponents. Despite owning lovely low kicks and short hooks, Du Plessis’ leaky striking defence and sputtering gas tank forces the South African to fade hard down the line. Against the durable Giles, Du Plessis is unlikely to secure an early stoppage as he did against the wild Markus Perez.

Trevin Giles

When given space, Giles stabs with a jab that carries surprising power. Supremely durable, Giles regularly calls upon his chin as he patiently makes a read on his opponent. Pulling away in the later rounds, Giles hand speed pips opponents in 50/50 exchanges and has a strong wrestling game to call upon. A grinder by nature, Giles has an awkward style that can carry him far in a shallow division.

Predicted Result: Giles TKO Round 3

Giles is a rising force at 185. More comfortable behind his ramrod jab, Giles possesses insane durability and a strong wrestling game. Able to grind opponents down over the full fifteen minutes, Giles’ style can carve through a shallow Middleweight division. Du Plessis, a viciously aggressive kickboxer, will struggle to crack Giles’ chin early. Despite owning a fearsome low kick and sharp hooks, Du Plessis’ leaky striking defence and poor gas tank leave him easy prey in the final round.

Result: Du Plessis def. Giles // KO (punches) Round 2 1:41

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Jennifer Maia (18-7-1) vs Jessica Eye (15-9)

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Jennifer Maia

A rugged, tough as old shoes grappler, Maia loves to walk opponents down and out-muscle them to the mat. Although lacking a consistent wrestling game, Maia’s bullying in the clinch is often enough to take it to the ground. Interestingly, Maia’s boxing has sharpened over the past couple of fights. Against Shevchenko, Maia threw more thoughtful combinations and a consistent volume – even if it remains largely ugly viewing.

Jessica Eye

Man, if it wasn’t for the UFC’s awful fighter pay practices, the whole Jessica Eye OnlyFans situation would be a lot funnier. The more aesthetic striker in this affair, Eye is, unfortunately, a form fighter. Riding a three-fight loss streak, Eye will have to battle mental demons alongside Maia on Saturday. Needing to feel like the more physically imposing fighter, Eye struggles to incorporate her wrestling if unable to weigh on opponents. If Eye can land her jab from the outset, she may be more confident of exchanging in the pocket and stringing together combinations.

Predicted Result: Maia Decision

Maia loves to walk opponents down and out-muscle them to the mat. Often bullying opponents in the clinch is enough for Maia to take it to the ground, from where she should be able to control the number one OnlyFans saleswoman. Eye is a form fighter than unfortunately finds herself on a three-fight loss. If Eye can land her jab from the outset, she will grow in confidence exchanging in the pocket. More likely, however, is Maia controls an ugly fight from start to finish.

Result: Maia def. Eye // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Omari Akhmedov (21-5-1) vs Brad Tavares (18-6)

Middleweight (185)

Omari Akhmedov

Despite improvements to his boxing, Akhmedov remains a heavily wrestling-centric fighter. God Damn is Akhmedov boring though. Even against a weathered Chris Weidman, Akhmedov never truly committed on the feet despite Weidman gassing early in the second round. Pot-shotting with hooks in favour of a jab, Akhmedov lacks the power to crack Tavares.

Brad Tavares

Tavares, despite his limitations, may prove to be Akhmedov’s kryptonite. An extremely strong TDD, Tavares will keep this affair standing. Although routinely failing to set a successful pace on the feet, Tavares somehow has enough quality to overcome Akhmedov’s pot-shotting hooks.

Predicted Result: Tavares Decision

I’m gonna say it, Akhmedov is a boring-ass fighter to watch. Even against a weathered Chris Weidman, Akhmedov never truly committed on the feet despite Weidman gassing early in the second round. Tavares, despite his limitations, may prove to be Akhmedov’s kryptonite. An extremely strong TDD, Tavares will keep this affair standing. Although routinely failing to set a successful pace on the feet, Tavares somehow has enough quality to overcome Akhmedov’s pot-shotting hooks.

Result: Tavares def. Akhmedov // Decision (split – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Zhalgas Zhumagulov (13-5) vs Jerome Rivera (10-5)

Flyweight (125)

Zhalgas Zhumagulov

A durable veteran who consistently walks opponents into surprising attacks due to his negative (boring) style. Small for Flyweight, Zhumagulov is a litmus paper test for prospects at 125. Nothing exceptional, well-rounded to a tee.

Jerome Rivera

Rivera is one bad performance away from being cut from the UFC. It would be a shame to see a prospective grappling machine with a 5’10” frame leave on a four-fight slide, but Rivera has regularly failed on the feet and mat. Improvements to his kicking game are pleasing to see, but he is far too easily bullied in the clinch against the cage.

Predicted Result: Rivera Decision

Zhumagulov is a well-rounded if underwhelming, veteran who consistently walks opponents into surprising attacks. Despite a three-fight slide, Rivera has made real attempts to expand in every area of his game. Adding a strong kicking game to his monster 5’10” frame, Rivera’s greatest struggle is disengaging from the cage. With a six-inch height difference and still holding onto the promise shown in his DWCS appearance, I am foolishly backing Rivera.

Result: Zhumagulov def. Rivera // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 1 2:02

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Alen Amedovski (8-2) vs Yaozong Hu (3-2)

Middleweight (185)

Alen Amedovski

A name I had forgotten about, Amedovski is the man that was iced by John Phillips in under fifteen seconds. Despite a terrible TDD, Amedovski usually rushes out the blocks and looks to sleep opponents with looping yet powerful hooks. A jittery bouncing style, Amedovski is at least approaches with an entertaining kill or be killed mentality.

Yaozong Hu

After a two-year suspension by USADA, Yaozong returns to almost zero fanfare. Still searching for his first victory in the UFC, Yaozong is a defensively frail fighter who rides on his durability and ground wrestling. Perhaps a move to Middleweight, after debuting at Heavyweight, will bring fortune.

Predicted Result: Yaozong Decision

After a two-year suspension by USADA, Yaozong returns to almost zero fanfare. A durable, grinding wrestler, Yaozong’s move to Middleweight may see him more capably hold his own. Amedovski is a limited fighter, rushing out the blocks with the sole intent to sleep fighters. This is a man iced by John Phillips, though. Even after dropping the PEDs, Yaozong’s grinding wrestling should significantly kill the mood to kickstart the show.

Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED (COVID-19) 🚫

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Prediction Accuracy

UFC 264

Winner: 8/12

Method: 6/12

Round: 4/12

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 155/261

Method: 129/261

Round: 121/261

MMA Overall

Winner: 346/565

Method: 266/565

Round: 247/565

Takeaway comments: What a thoroughly underwhelming end to their third fight, surely not worthy of being deemed a true rubber match?


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