Two bad bad men with bad bad blood.

UFC Fight Night 180: Ortega vs Korean Zombie Predictions & Results

It was just March 2020 when Brian Ortega slapped Korean rapper (and friend of TKZ), Jay Pack, at UFC 248. Before that norti incident, which Ortega eventually apologised for, the two men had several back and forths on social media. A cancelled fight because of injury at the end of 2019 (resulting in TKZ later nuking Frankie Edgar), and a pandemic, has pushed the fight to this Saturday. Regardless of the time wasted while both prepared to meet, the main event holds real weight for the featherweight belt. After two failed attempts to reclaim his belt, Max Holloway is forced to the wayside as the UFC will allow a new challenger to Alexander Volkanovski’s throne. It would be bizarre that after two years out, Ortega would get the title shot after only one win (if he beats TKZ), but the UFC isn’t exactly known for its well-structured rankings system. As it is, with Zabit refusing to fight past fifteen minutes, Yair Rodriguez refusing to fight Zabit, and Calvin Kattar needing one more big win, it has left Ortega and TKZ in prime position.

There is very little in the way of star power on this card beyond the main event (and possibly one co-main eventee). It’s understandable as we build-up to the big pay-per-view cards which will close out the year, but this card really could have used a bit of sexy Ciryl Gane action. Unluckiest Heavyweight in the world, Gane has not fought once during 2020 because his three scheduled opponents cancelled a total of four times. The co-main of Gane and Delija would have been an exciting test of the highly-rated Frenchman, unfortunately now, we have a Jéssica Andrade showdown with the female Marty Snoozeman, Katlyn Chookagian. A few prospect watches and a potential Light Heavyweight blood bath fill up the rest of the card, so we can only hope and pray for more Buckley-Kasanganay finishes.

UFC | Jimmy Crute on Rob Whittaker, Sam Greco & Misha Cirkunov -  AthletesVoice
Hard-hitting Aussie, Jimmy Crute, wipes the smile off of Sam Alvey’s face with a short right hook. UFC 234, 10 February 2019.

Main Event

Featherweight (145)

Brian Ortega (14-1) vs The Korean Zombie (16-5)

Who knows what version of Brian Ortega will enter the octagon on Saturday night. Favoured to become champion in his last fight, Ortega was widely regarded as a fearsome grappler with a killer submission game and knockout power. Then he met Max Holloway. Beaten black and blue for four rounds, Ortega showed an incredible display of heart, bravery and a chin that refused to crack. Unfortunately, Ortega endured a beating on such a scale that it has derailed other fighters careers permanently (e.g. Chris Weidman, Gray Maynard). While his chin held up to the chip-like damage that Holloway pours onto opponents, Ortega is facing off against one of the hardest hitters at featherweight (no, not you, Jeremy Stephens). Ignoring the brain damage absorbed, does Ortega have the mental fortitude to rebound and strike on the feet without the scars of his stand-up humiliation?

With two years out to rest and recuperate, physically, Ortega will be back to full health. If Ortega is still the same fighter as of 2018, then there is no reason to question his ability to truly challenge TKZ and Volkanovski. Stylistically, Max Holloway was a dreadful match-up, as he drowned in the volume the Hawaiian delivered. TKZ throws at a decent rate, but nowhere near the elite levels of Holloway. Ortega will be able to better set himself and plan his striking or grappling more effectively during the lulls of the bout. With the additional time, Ortega can launch into one of his more erratic strikes that have caught opponents out of the blue. If the fight goes to the mat, Ortega will dominate if on top, but can still cause TKZ a world of trouble on the bottom. A clearer path to victory would be a tired TKZ takedown attempt during the late rounds, where Ortega can snap in a guillotine.

TKZ is as well-rounded a fighter as you will find. TKZ can tussle with any fighter in any realm where the fight goes. On the feet, TKZ favours clubbing punches that have recently been wiping fighters out of existence (Renato Moicano and Frankie Edgar). If striking is not going to plan, TKZ falls back on a strong wrestling game where he out-works opponents with traditional ground and pound. Eventually, the submission opportunities arise, without TKZ solely searching for the choke. Ortega will have a tough job putting away the Zombie early, and will find it difficult to choke a fighter who has never fallen to a submission. A solid chin, and a banging gas tank, TKZ will always be a top-10 threat.

Predicted Result: Ortega Submission Round 4

Ortega has a habit of losing right up until he has won. Eating shots to drain your opponent is never a good strategy, but Ortega often sneaks in a lot of effective work that goes under the radar during the early rounds. Despite the long layoff, and the crushing defeat to move on from, Ortega is slick enough on the feet to negate TKZ’s most powerful shots and if not, has a chin that can eat them. A tiring TKZ in the later rounds is prime prey for the submission predator that is Ortega.

The Korean Zombie' Wants Title Shot After UFC Fight Night 154 Knockout Win
Korean Zombie lands a nuke of an overhand right which re-arranges Renato Moicano’s face into a melted Mr Potato Head.

Result: Ortega def. TKZ // Decision (unanimous – 50-45, 50-45, 50-45)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Co-Main Event

Flyweight (125)

Jéssica Andrade (20-8) vs Katlyn Chookagian (14-3)

You know what you’re getting when you face off against Jéssica Andrade. A no-nonsense brawler, Andrade epitomises front foot boxing as her total confidence in her chin allows her to stay in the pocket for the entirety of the contest. Fundamentally rather suspect, in part due to her unrecognised gym, Andrade is an athletic freak. Despite surrendering ridiculous reach every fight, Andrade holds incredible power and has slept top competitors like Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Jessica Penne. Moreover, Andrade has a wonderful takedown and wrestling game where she can grind down opponents that are exposing her limited striking defence. An atom bomb slam of former champion, Rose Namajunas, sent shockwaves across the MMA world. While Andrade displayed a more active defence in her last fight against Namajunas, it was very simplistic in its reliance upon dipping at the knees and ducking the head. Despite burning an incredible amount of energy from feints and head movement alone, Andrade showed a wonderful gas tank as she was able to keep up her rampant strike volume.

Chookagian is just so frustrating to watch. Well-drilled and fundamentally superb, Chookagian is a zero risk fighter. As a result, Chookagian fights drearily reach the final bell bar her arse whooping from Women’s Flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. A karate background, Chookigian has decent feints and can strike with high volume. It is unfortunate then, however, that she rarely chooses to sit down on her punches. The tippy tappy striking is designed to win scorecards, not to win fans. Chookigian is very strong at getting the fight to the ground, with her takedowns mixed in with her striking. A dominant top game based on control time once again highlights her skill level but also her boredom-inducing quality.

Predicted Result: Andrade Decision

Andrade is a step up above Chookigian based on her supreme athletic ability. Chookigian is wily enough to survive the contest, but Andrade’s do or die mentality and bravery in the pocket will keep Chookigian in a defensive shell. On the mat, Andrade proved her grappling chops against Claudia Gadelha (another top grappler) by stuffing seven total takedowns and amassing nearly nine minutes of control time. Sure this is a higher weight class, but Andrade is STRONG.

Jessica Andrade Talks About Her UFC 237 Slam Knockout Win Over Rose  Namajunas
Jéssica Andrade sends Rose Namajunas on an express trip to sleepytown after a powerful overhead slam. UFC 237, 11 May 2019.

Result: Andrade def. Chookagian // TKO (body punches) Round 1 4:57

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Light Heavyweight (205)

Modestas Bukauskas (11-2) vs Jimmy Crute (11-1)

Modestas Bukauskus certainly had a debut to remember. After a cagey first round with Andreas Michailidis, Bukauskus ended the round with a few elbows to the side of Michailidis’ head. Ruled as a TKO during the break in-between rounds, Bukauskus was somewhat gifted but also somewhat rewarded a debut win. Bukauskus is a big powerful unit, but he is terribly erratic. Lunging into massive overhand shots from a mile away, Bukauskus is bailed out by his speed as he either connects with his target or floats on past any counter strikes. The Lithuanian also possesses a decent kicking game which is largely based around a snappy body kick to finish his boxing combinations. A string of rear-naked chokes over at Cage Warriors is probably the high point of Bukauskus’ grappling. Average top game and poor takedown defence, Bukauskus excels on the feet or in the clinch.

Fellow young blood, Jimmy Crute, has a task ahead of him in the striking department. Both men are powerful, but Bukauskus is the more natural kickboxer and has the power to take Crute out early. Luckily for Crute, the smartest and easiest game plan for himself would be to exploit his opponent’s poor TDD and grapple for a full fifteen minutes. As long as he doesn’t end up ‘Michailidis-ing’ himself, Crute’s submission skills are far beyond what Bukauskus can handle. Moreover, Crute holds genuine power in both hands. If Bukauskus extends too far into a shot, Crute can really punish his man.

Predicted Result: Crute Submission Round 1

Crute’s striking is effective enough to keep Bukauskas preoccupied and create the opportunity for a takedown. On the mat, it’s simply a matter of time before Crute finds his choke, or beats his man into submission.

Result: Crute def. Bukauskas // KO (punches) Round 1 2:01

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ✔️

Middleweight (170)

Claudio Silva (14-1) vs James Krause (27-8)

A Claudio Silva fight? In 2020? What is this madness? Silva fell on the face of the earth around the end of 2014. A series of injuries kept Silva on the sidelines for four years before going on a three-fight tear up against decent opposition (Nordine Taleb, Danny Roberts and Cole Williams). Submitting all three, Silva is an out and out submission specialist with a solid takedown game to boot. Does anyone care to remember the forgotten man at Welterweight, Leon Edwards? Despite taking punishment on the feet, Silva hustled Edwards to the mat routinely and threatened with a variety of chokes. Silva is a bad man, it is just a shame that his body can fall apart at any minute and he isn’t getting any younger at thirty-eight years old.

James Krause has fought a long and very arduous career. Losses to Jorge Masvidal, Bobby Green, Ricardo Lamas and Donald Cerrone illustrate the experience that Krause has gathered over his thirteen-year stint. Krause has turned down his opposition quality in recent years but has remarkably fought very well despite the miles on him. A long striker, there is no doubt that Krause will be able to handle Silva with ease on the feet. Favouring a beautiful front kick which he uses like a jab, Krause is a hidden gem, and almost out-struck Trevin Giles on a days notice in his last fight. A solid black belt BJJ practitioner, Krause will fancy his chances if the fight does end up on the ground. While Krause is a far cry from his early days of being submitted by Donald Cerrone, it would still be in his best interests to keep this fight stood up.

Predicted Result: Krause Decision

A very intriguing match-up, with the biggest factor as to whether Silva is still game after another year on the sidelines. The safe call is Krause to punish Silva on the feet and stuff any frantic takedowns.

Result: Krause def. Silva // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Featherweight (145)

Thomas Almeida (22-3) vs Jonathan Martinez (12-3)

Oh Thomas Almeida, what a tragedy. Once the young hotshot on the scene, Almeida looked destined to clinch UFC gold and hold his spot for a long time to come. Then Cody Garbrandt happened. A first-round flurry and Almeida was melted in a fashion similar to his own domination of opponents. Since the Garbrandt fight, Almeida has only fought a handful of times across four years. Decisioned by Jimmie Rivera is not a bad mark against his record, but a second-round stoppage loss to Rob Font is far more damning. A middling striker, relying heavily on a jab, Almeida didn’t look comfortable during their fight. Since then, Almeida’s two-year inactivity has resulted from major eye complications and an opponent testing positive for the pesky Covid-19. At only twenty-nine, the scars may finally have started appearing on Almeida. A long stretch amongst the top in the UFC, Almeida was an athletic beast with violent striking that aimed to kill. It wasn’t all just spinning elbows and flashy kicks, Almeida also benefited from a strong clinch game which utilised crushing knees. Whether Almeida is broken goods, though, is yet to be identified.

Jonathan Martinez is a lesser version of prime Almeida. Similar knockout power, similar exotic striking and submission attempts, and a similarly leaky wrestling/bottom game. Martinez has nowhere near the experience that Almeida has had at the top, but he also has far fewer miles on his body. Martinez has the stronger grappling, but not by much, and it hasn’t been proven against the elite of the division. An inability to set his own pace and distance, leading to losses against Andre Ewell and Andre Soukhamthath, highlighted Martinez’s flaw game-planning.

Predicted Result: Almeida TKO Round 3

If Almeida is the same man he was before injuries and rapid-fire stoppage losses derailed his career, he should handily beat Martinez, a lesser version of himself.

Result: Martinez def. Almeida // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Preliminary Card

Lightweight (155)

Mateusz Gamrot (17-0) vs Guram Kutateladze (11-2)

Gamrot finally makes his UFC after his rule over the KSW roster. KSW Featherweight and Lightweight champion, Gamrot has managed to maintain his undefeated record due to his well-rounded skill set. Preferring to strike, Gamrot is methodical in his jab and bases it around his array of short but crisp combinations. More importantly, Gamrot often level changes and shoots into takedowns when his opponent is least prepared. On the mat, Gamrot’s grappling benefits from his larger build and he can overpower opponents with strikes. Gamrot certainly has the fundamentals to stick around in the UFC for a while to come.

Kutateladze is a regional fighter who enters his UFC debut on an eight-fight win streak. Included are victories over former Ultimate Fighter, Erick Da Silva, and former UFC Lightweight, Felipe Silva. A powerful kickboxer, Kutateladze can switch the lights out with a beautiful right head kick that floats over the top of an opponent’s guard and lands on the top of the head. More erratic in his striking than Gamrot, he will find success if this fight is fought in a broken brawl.

Predicted Result: Gamrot Decision

Gamrot will be able to keep Kutateladze somewhat quiet during the sketchy opening minutes before dominating with his wrestling. Once on his back, Kutateladze will struggle to escape Gamrot’s controlling top game.

Result: Kutateladze def. Gamrot // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Gillian Robertson (8-4) vs Poliana Botelho (8-2)

The upset queen, Gillian Robertson, returns to derail yet another hot prospect. Dominant underdog victories against Courtney Casey (Round 3 RNC), Sarah Frota (Round 2 TKO) and Molly McCann (Round 2 RNC), Robertson has been overlooked her entire career. Sloppy losses to other prospects (Maycee Barber and Mayra Bueno Silva) have prevented Robertson from building career momentum, but the young Canadian is a threat to all at Flyweight. Robertson’s dire striking defence leaves her vulnerable to early punishment, but her grappling has developed monumentally since her TUF days.

Botelho has a genuine chance to end this fight early in the first with her powerful striking. Sloppy and un-coordinated striking, it doesn’t really matter in the Flyweight division until you get to the top-five. Before then, power alone will carry you against the more technically sound opponents. Such is women’s Flyweight. A takedown defence of 88% is boosted by her 15/15 stuffed takedowns against Pearl Gonzalez, lol. Against a stronger grappler in Cynthia Calvillo, she was taken down after a bit of a struggle and offered little off of her back. Robertson isn’t the same level as Calvillo, but it bodes well for the Canadian.

Predicted Result: Robertson Submission Round 2

Robertson could well be cracked early, especially as the wildly unorthodox strikes of Botelho could bypass a streaky guard. Robertson is solid enough to push Botelho against the cage, work a single leg, and fast-track her way to a submission victory.

Result: Robertson def. Botelho // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Middleweight (185)

Jun Yong Park (11-4) vs John Philips (22-10)

Jun Yong Park was able to wrestle with Marc-Andre Barriault in his last fight and out-grapple him on way to a decision victory. Why have they matched him up with John Phillips, lmao? I have a soft spot for Phillips as a Brit and a lover of all swang n bangers, but the man cannot stuff a takedown to save his life. Park is a capable wrestler who isn’t going to dominate the top fighters on the mat, but he will breeze past Phillips. If Park has a mental lapse and gets dragged into an early brawl, he will end up going to sleep first despite both men being noted for their durability. Phillips can spring the occasional surprise, but his time in the UFC is nearing its end.

Predicted Result: Park Decision

While Philips is durable enough to just eat the shots he takes on the ground, it is more likely that Park sinks in a submission somewhere inside the fifteen minutes though.

Result: Park def. Phillips // Decision (unanimous – 30-25, 30-25, 30-25)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Lightweight (155)

Fares Ziam (10-3) vs Jamie Mullarkey (12-3)

Ziam’s debut last year was a bit of a sadness as he was ground into fine powder against the cage by Don Madge. Prior to his debut, Ziam had looked a fine prospect on the European scene. Only twenty-three, Ziam is an electric kickboxer and is still learning how to piece together the other parts of his game with his striking. A regular low calf kick, Ziam chips away at his opponents before sitting down on his shots.

Jamie Mullarkey is in the same boat as Ziam for failed debuts. Out-struck and out-worked by Brad Riddell, Mullarkey was at a physical disadvantage. Not blessed with athletic aptitude, Mullarkey’s strength is his ability to do a little in all departments. Mullarkey possesses decent straight shots that can snap back the head of opponents but his inside game is fairly woeful. Current UFC Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, was able to sleep Mullarkey in one round back in 2016.

Predicted Result: Ziam TKO Round 2

This is a toss-up of a fight. Both men have clear weaknesses, both men possess somewhat of answer.

Result: Ziam def. Mullarkey // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Light Heavyweight (205)

Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-7) vs Maxim Grishin (30-8-2)

Antigulov is fun to watch despite his MASSIVE limitations. First round man, win or lose, Antigulov brings the action. The lad cannot strike, he is tiny for the weight and he has a five minute gas tank at best. As a result, Antigulov sprints into takedowns and searches solely for a submission. Poetry in motion.

Grishin is a heavyweight moving down for his UFC light heavyweight debut. A long career across Eastern European promotions and the PFL, Grishin is too old to have a successful run in the UFC. In regards to this match, Grishin is a methodical fighter and is mature enough to evade the danger for a round before capitalising.

Predicted Result: Grishin TKO Round 2

Grishin may have lost a step with age, but he won’t be at too much of a physical disadvantage against Antigulov.

Result: Grishin def. Antigulov // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:58

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Bantamweight (135)

Said Nurmagomedov (13-2) vs Mark Striegl (18-2)

Buried far down the card is a sibling of the great Khabib Nurmagomedov. Unlike the grappling master at Lightweight, Said favours striking. With long levers, Said snipes opponent from afar with huge straight shots and a very strong kicking game.

Mark Striegl is a very juicy sloot transferring from ONE to the UFC. Streigl’s striking is one-note, the man’s entire upper body is set in place like concrete. What’s worse, when Striegl does try to pressure opponents to push them against the cage, he leaves his chin high in the air. If the fight goes to the ground, Striegl is a killer grappler and could find a way to submit Said (or at least make him very uncomfortable). Sadly, I can’t see Striegl having the striking pressure or takedown offence to overcome Said.

Predicted Result: Nurmagomedov Decision

Said has the power to break Striegl’s chin, but he would have to chase a finish as the Filipino grappler has exceptional recovery.

Result: Nurmagomedov def. Striegl // TKO (punches) Round 2 4:58

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Prediction Accuracy

UFC Fight Night 180: Ortega vs TKZ

Winner: 9/11

Method: 4/11

Round: 5/11

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 137/221

Method: 104/221

Round: 93/221

Takeaway comments: Ortega was finished, eh?

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