UFC on ESPN 25: TKZ vs Ige Predictions & Results
Nah, I’m sorry, UFC on ESPN 25 isn’t a card that I can big up. Outside of the main event, and the Vera/Grant fight, UFC on ESPN 25 is one of the weakest cards you’ll find this year. While the fights themselves will probably be fun, this isn’t the UFC quality standard. In fact, this is comparable to the circus show that is Anderson Silva vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I’ll say it once again, UFC on ESPN 25 is doo-doo.
UFC on ESPN 25: Main Event
Chan Sung Jung (16-6) vs Dan Ige (15-3)
Chan Sung Jung
Perhaps the only fight of worth on this UFC on ESPN 25 card, Jung returns after a five-round mauling. Ortega this, Ortega that. In the words of the great Max Holloway, “it is what it is”. Despite being battered for the better part of five rounds, TKZ remains a crafty counter-puncher with a great knack for timing. With a high-octane style that tends to see Jung absorb a lot of damage, his chin has almost always held up to the job. Late in the fights against Yair Rodriguez and Ortega, however, TKZ has started to show worrying signs of wear and tear. After an exhausting career length, a history of 50/50 wars, and a style that invites punishment – it more of a marvel that TKZ remains near the top of Featherweight.
Still, if Jung is to be believed, his poor performance during the Ortega bout was due to being knocked out on his feet by a massive elbow and cruised on autopilot for the remainder. Most of Jung’s troubles in his last outing stemmed from Ortega’s gangly length and patience which forced TKZ to initiate exchanges. While Jung possesses a crisp jab, and his clubbing power remains the same whether on the front or back foot, his timing is far more efficient when countering. Although the tale of the tape indicates Jung has a single inch of reach advantage over Ige, on the night the difference will be starkly visible. As Ige lunges in with one of his patent overhands into a takedown, Jung is primed to unleash his uppercuts. Moreover, Jung’s jab will keep his volume ticking over on the outside and secure rounds.
Perhaps most important of all for TKZ in this match-up, is his history of anti-grappling smaller opponents. An excellent scrambler, in the scenario that Ige decides to wrestle, Jung’s low hands are primed to snap in underhooks. Moreover, Ige’s lack of kicking will ensure Jung’s lead leg remains relatively unpeppered. Instead, TKZ needs to fire off his kicking barrage in order to take the steam out of Ige’s raging swarms.
Dan Ige is an experiment on just how far a fighter can progress in the UFC when approaching every fight with the very worst game plan. Deciding to box with Calvin Kattar for five rounds, looking to stick and move against Edson Barboza, Dan Ige tests himself in every fight by fighting to his opponent’s strengths. Of course, 50K also came out last time and clubbed Gavin Tucker over the head for a twenty-two second knockout, so perhaps the Hawaiian has changed his ways?
On the feet, Ige covers huge distance with a ducking, lunging overhand, before landing far cleaner combinations in the pocket. Aside from the Kattar/Barboza affairs, Ige seeks to swarm opponents before man-handling them to the mat. While Ige’s wrestling has hit a ceiling as he has climbed up the rankings, once on the mat he is a serious grappling threat. Oh, and of course, Ige’s chin is made of titanium.
Although an Orthodox fighter, Ige is capable of fighting for extended periods out of Southpaw. After Ortega had TKZ in fits for five rounds due to his awkward Southpaw style, Ige should opt to fit out of his less comfortable stance. Moreover, despite living up to the swarming style that aims to secure his FOTN bonuses, Ige is also capable of fighting off the back-foot. While the Hawaiian isn’t likely to pull out a show-stopping spinning attack ala Rodriguez/Ortega, Ige can certainly land powerful shots that catch the eye.
Predicted Result: Jung Decision
Have no doubts, this is the best fight you will find on UFC on ESPN 25. A lot has been made about a drastic decline in TKZ’s durability after the Brian Ortega fight, yet it could very well be true that Jung was fighting on autopilot from the second round onwards. TKZ remains a crafty counter-puncher with a great knack for timing, in addition to excellent anti-grappling against smaller opponents.
While Ige showcased his power last time out against Gavin Tucker, more often than not Ige breaks opponents with swarming volume and grinding wrestling. 50K also tends to enter the octagon with the worst available gameplan (see Edson Barboza, Calvin Kattar). Even though Ige could fight out of Southpaw on Saturday, and cause TKZ the same trouble that Ortega managed, it’s unlikely the Hawaiian will have matured. If, as is expected, Ige cannot get TKZ to the mat, Jung should still have more than enough in the locker to piece Ige apart with counters for twenty-five minutes.
Result: Jung def. Ige // Decision (unanimous – 48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
UFC on ESPN 25: Co-Main Event
Aleksei Oleinik (59-15-1) vs Sergey Spivak (12-2)
Forty-three years old, huge gas tank problems and on a two-fight stoppage slide, what is there to get excited about? Well bucko, Oleinik still remains one of the greatest first-round threats at Heavyweight. Most of the Russian’s conditioning issues stem from Oleinik latching onto the first submission available and pouring everything into securing it. As a result. if Oleinik fails to find the victory in the first round, his output drops drastically and he is forced to engage in sloppy overhands thrown from behind his back – as seen against an equally out of shape Fabricio Werdum.
Physically, Spivak can’t count on any sort of freak athleticism to cruise past his ageing foe. Instead, the big goofy Moldovan will have to grind out his chain-wrestling approach after riding an early barrage from his elderly foe. Having debuted against Walt Harris with almost no striking to speak about, Spivak has made huge strides to make the most of his reach and begin to probe with a jab. While it isn’t a comfortable part of Spivak’s game, it is still a useful tool that will enable the twenty-six-year-old to break some of Oleinik’s overhand blitzes. Consistency, deep gas tank and persistent wrestling are stellar attributes in such a poor division.
Predicted Result: Spivak Decision
Forty-three years old, huge gas tank problems and on a two-fight stoppage slide? No worries for Aleksei Oleinik. The Russian’s first-round barrage of goofy overhands and willingness to expend everything into the first available submission opportunity means 75-fight veteran remains a stark threat in the UFC. Physically, Spivak can’t count on any sort of freak athleticism to cruise past his ageing foe. Instead, the big Moldovan will have to grind out his chain-wrestling approach after riding an early barrage from his elderly foe. Recently using his reach and jab to greater effect, Spivak should have rounded out his skill-set to the extent where he can ride the early wave of pressure before grinding out the final two rounds.
Result: Spivak def. Oleinik // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
UFC on ESPN 25: Main Card
Marlon Vera (18-7-1) vs Davey Grant (11-4)
Congratulations UFC. After seeing his stock rise massively after his (somewhat) shock win over Sean O’Malley, match-makers pitted Vera against the vastly experienced Jose Aldo. Out-classed on the feet, Vera at least proved his grit once again as he swallowed huge bodywork before finding occasional pockets of success.
Despite his size, fast start, and relentless pace, Vera struggles when pitted against physical specimens. Even Yadong Song’s less than polished skillset was able to overcome Vera based on size and raw physicality in exchanges on the feet and mat. This is an issue for a fighter who excels when bullying opponents in the clinch with brutal knees and elbows.
Vera’s chopping low kicks, as evidenced against O’Malley, will be hugely important against Grant. The Brit has recently transitioned into a striker-first fighter, and the key to his success has been his flowing movement. By destroying Grant’s front leg, Vera can root his opponent in place for rangey head kicks or more easily pressure Grant back to the cage. Vera’s leaky striking defence leaves him open to eating Grant’s newfound power, but the Ecuadorian is ridiculously durable.
Big Davey Grant has been a UFC name since 2013. Having almost reached a decade in the UFC, it’s nice to see Grant finally put the pieces together over the past few fights. A multitude of injuries and fight cancellations certainly didn’t help grease the wheels of Grant’s career.
Largely a ground specialist in his debut, Grant’s recent success has arisen largely due to more confident striking. Throwing every imaginable strike during the early exchanges, Grant searches to find a strike that lands before solely throwing that same successful strike ten more times. While better counter-punchers will read Grant, Vera doesn’t pose such a threat. Still, it’s a lovely addition to Grant’s game that can fall upon the ground game if it goes awry.
The major issue for Grant against Vera will be an inability to fight cleanly on the outside. Having been offered the space and time to stick and move in his last fights against Martin Day and Jonathan Martinez, Vera is a hugely oppressive pressure fighter who aims to batter opponents against the cage. While Grant’s power may be enough to keep Vera somewhat wary of blinding pressing on the feet, it would have to take a very special shot to switch Vera’s lights out.
Predicted Result: Vera TKO Round 3
Big Davey Grant is one of the surprise packages of the pandemic period, having transitioned into a striker-first fighter with knockout power. Throwing every imaginable strike during the early exchanges, Grant searches to find a strike that lands before solely throwing that same successful strike ten more times. While better counter-punchers will read Grant, Vera doesn’t pose such a threat. Instead, Vera’s chopping low kicks, as evidenced against O’Malley, will be hugely important against Grant.
By destroying Grant’s front leg, Vera can root his opponent in place for rangey head kicks or more easily pressure Grant back to the cage. Vera’s durability, kicking game and powerful clinch work, combined with Grant’s recent focus on the stand-up, points toward the relentless Ecuadorian breaking down the Brit.
Result: Vera def. Grant // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 30-26)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Julian Erosa (25-8) vs Seung Woo Choi (9-3)
After a fairytale return to the UFC, Julian Erosa has started to build serious hype behind himself. A true pressure fighter with searing front-foot aggression and stellar cardio to back it up, Erosa’s tireless volume breaks opponents through attrition. Erosa’s bouncing advances on the feet leave his chin open to hard counters, but his ugly yet effective wrestling is often enough to offer another outlet.
Seung Woo Choi
There isn’t a lot of love for Choi on PI. Anyone who dares defeat Youssef Zalal is painting a red target on their back. Regardless, after a rough start to his UFC career, match-makers have reeled back the quality of competition to allow the South Korean to develop. Carrying huge power in both hands, Choi is a devastating counter-puncher but so far has been unable to coax opponents into initiating exchanges. Pressing with footwork, Choi suffocates an opponent’s space to force them to throw first but fails to draw out their shots with feints. Moreover, Choi has made huge strides in his TDD, building upon scrambles and reducing the time spent on his back.
Predicted Result: Erosa Decision
After a fairytale return to the UFC, Julian Erosa has started to build serious hype behind himself. A true pressure fighter with searing front-foot aggression and stellar cardio to back it up, Erosa’s tireless volume breaks opponents through attrition. Erosa’s bouncing advances on the feet, with a lack of head movement to follow, leaves his chin wide open for the destructive counter-punching of Choi, however. Heavy-handed, Choi excels when opponent’s walk into his powerful counters. Although a good scrambler, Erosa’s ugly yet effective wrestling will wear on Choi throughout the affair and prove the difference.
Result: Woo Choi def. Erosa // TKO (punches) Round 1 1:37
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Wellington Turman (16-4) vs Bruno Silva (19-6)
After suffering the first knockout loss of his career, in addition to a lengthy battle with COVID, there are several red flags over what Wellington Turman will enter the octagon on Saturday. A takedown artist who searches for the body lock, Turman isn’t the prettiest fighter to watch but he is a grinder who often finds a way to top position from where his best work stems. A decent array of submissions could prove key against Silva, but Turman’s mental capitulation to Andrew Sanchez’s stand-up aggression is a worrying factor considering Silva’s stylistic similarities.
Having just served a two-year suspension after testing positive for the anabolic, Boldenone, Bruno Silva had better make up for the career delay. Reckless on the feet, Silva’s freakish power has a canny knack of bailing him out. Against both Aleksander Shlemenko and Artem Frolov, Silva was struggling to find his rhythm, before successfully locating the hail mary punch. Silva is durable enough to keep himself alive before finding the perfect shot, but as such, Silva remains a difficult fighter to back.
Predicted Result: Silva TKO Round 2
Having just served a two-year suspension after testing positive for the anabolic, Boldenone, Bruno Silva had better make up for the career delay. Reckless on the feet, Silva’s freakish power and durability have a canny knack of bailing him out. After suffering the first knockout loss of his career, in addition to a lengthy battle with COVID, there are several red flags over what Wellington Turman will enter the octagon on Saturday. A takedown artist who searches for the body lock, Turman isn’t the prettiest fighter to watch but he is a grinder who often finds a way to top position from where his best work stems. Turman’s mental capitulation to Andrew Sanchez’s aggression is a worrying factor considering Silva’s stylistic similarities.
Result: Silva def. Turman // KO (punches) Round 1 4:45
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Dhiego Lima (15-8) vs Matt Brown (22-18)
Similar to his brother, Douglas, Dhiego Lima is a fighter who attempts to walk along the fence while patiently waiting on the back foot. Unfortunately for Dhiego, he doesn’t possess the same heavy hands as his brother. Occasionally a hard low kick will be thrown, or a jab will be launched to keep the distance, but Lima the technician looks to cruise fights. A crisp left hook is a solid shout against Brown, but it is more likely that Lima breaks down Brown with constant leg kicks against an elderly fighter too slow to adjust.
At this point in his career, it is fair to say that Matt Brown is over the mountain, rather than a simple hill. At forty years old, and with a record book of punishing fights, Brown’s famed chin seems to have all but worn down. While Brown is still capable of delivering huge power, as seen against Miguel Baeza, the distinct drop in Brown’s speed is visibly stark (once again, seen against Baeza). Moreover, Brown’s only two KOs in the last six years are over similarly aged veterans. The gas tank is no longer capable of keeping Brown around the fringe rankings, and this could be the final nail in the coffin.
Predicted Result: Lima TKO Round 3
Look away Matt Brown fans. At forty years old, and with a record book of punishing fights, Brown’s famed chin seems to have all but worn down. While Brown is still capable of delivering huge power, as seen against Miguel Baeza, the distinct drop in Brown’s speed is visibly stark (once again, seen against Baeza). Dhiego Lima is a patient counter-puncher who glues himself to the fence, but his chopping low kicks will destroy Brown. In a war of attrition, there isn’t much left in Brown’s locker in 2021.
Result: Brown def. Lima // KO (punch) Round 2 3:02
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
UFC on ESPN 25: Preliminary Card
Nick Negumereanu (9-1) vs Aleksa Camur (6-1)
Light Heavyweight (205)
For a man with such a deep record of stoppage victories, it was quite the surprise when the undefeated Romanian was dismantled on his UFC debut by Saparbeg Safarov. The same Safarov that was destroyed in two rounds by Gian Villante lmao. Padding records, as it would seem, does little to help your skillset. With two years out to rebuild, the Romanian has hopefully built upon his durability and natural physicality. Weak TDD, no striking defence, and awkward loopy punches, there isn’t much hope.
Camur has seen his stock fall massively following a decision loss to William Knight. Although Camur looked lost after failing to secure regular takedowns against his physically imposing opponent, Camur remains a hugely powerful wrestler with an exciting array of spinning attacks. While the fundamentals on the feet are somewhat lacking, and there are issues surrounding his gas tank, Camur is an enjoyable prospect to watch who will have more than to keep Negumereanu on the mat.
Predicted Result: Camur Decision
Although it may not be a name you have heard in a while, Nick Negumereanu is the man who lost to Saparbeg Safarov in his UFC debut (yes, Safarov, the man who lost in two rounds to Gian Villante). Negu’s padded record was exposed two years ago, but hopefully, the Romanian has built upon his strong physical base to incorporate some sort of TDD. Unfortunately for Negu, Camur is a physically imposing wrestler with an array of spinning attacks. Issues with Camur’s gas tank remain, but he should be more than capable of keeping Negu down on the mat.
Result: Negumereanu def. Camur // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Virna Jandiroba (16-2) vs Kanako Murata (12-1)
Women’s Strawweight (115)
Virna Jandiroba’ striking may be developing, but the progression remains far too slow when considering the current state. If you are being pieced apart by Mackenzie Dern on your feet, it is time for a long cold shower and a hard look in the mirror. Jandiroba’s greatest issue appears to be her lack of confidence and fluidity. It is a terrible shame when considering her sensational grappling. Without stellar wrestling as well, Jandiroba struggles to secure top position and make the most of her jiu-jitsu. The Brazilian is very durable though, and is relentless in her pursuit to the mat, with only the top Strawweight’s able to exploit her woeful striking.
Kanako Murata is a grinding, wrestling machine but her big advantage against Jandiroba will be on the feet. While Murata has many holes in her striking defence too, the undersized Japanese prospect is more confident throwing power shots off her front foot and working combinations during extended striking exchanges. While Murata will be able to hold her own in the clinch work and scrambles, the size disparity and Jandiroba’s tireless pressure may wane on Murata.
Predicted Result: Murata Decision
Despite the size advantage, relentless pressure and clear jiu-jitsu disparity, Jandiroba’s woeful striking still makes it difficult to back her. Lacking any sort of confidence or fluidity on the feet, Jandiroba struggles to work in takedowns as she cannot close the distance effectively. Murata is a grinding wrestler herself, and while the Japanese prospect isn’t the greatest striker herself, she carries power and can string together combinations. I imagine this to be a scrappy affair, with Jandiroba getting the better of the clinch against a smaller opponent, but Murata is scrappy enough to keep the fight standing long enough to secure a decision.
Result: Jandiroba def. Murata // TKO (arm injury) Round 2 5:00
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Matt Semelsberger (8-2) vs Khaos Williams (11-2)
Surprising almost everyone, Semelsberger has hit the ground running in the UFC. Sure, one of his victories was over the athletically illiterate, Carlton Minus, but Semelsberger proved his ability to maintain a solid pace for three rounds. Dictating pace is key against Khaos Williams, a terrifying knockout artist. Semelsberger can counter off opponent’s counters, which may force William’s into an even more gun-shy approach. There remain many holes in Semelsberger’s striking defence, however, and it will only take one from Williams to cause all kinds of… Khaos.
Khaos Williams has freak power. Moreover, Williams has proven that power against decent competition. Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan are no slouches. Unfortunately for Williams, his powerful counter punching falls to the wayside when opponents force him to engage first (i.e. Michel Pereira). While calf kicks are a decent weapon used to keep active on the outside, the script looks to be out on beating Williams by forcing him to lead the tango. Against Semelsberger, however? There will be ample opportunity to flatline his foe.
Predicted Result: Williams TKO Round 1
Surprising almost everyone, Semelsberger has hit the ground running in the UFC. Able to maintain a solid pace for three rounds, Semelsberger can also counter opponents off their own counters. By dictating the pace and exchanges, Semelsberger is already halfway there to beating Khaos Williams. Despite the freakish power and accurate counter-punching, Williams is lost when forced to engage first (i.e. Michel Periera). Semelsberger has holes in his striking defence, however, and Williams has proven his quality against much stronger competition in the UFC.
Result: Williams def. Semelsberger // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Josh Parisian (13-4) vs Roque Martinez (15-7-2)
Christ alive, losing to Parker Porter is not a blip you want on your record. Possessing a dead man’s footwork, Parisian rock-em sock-ems his way into smothering fighters to the cage and securing top position. Against fighters who push a hard pace, Parisian will struggle, but with Martinez’s funeral pace, Parisian’s power shot only strategy will prosper.
Bemusing that the UFC is keeping Martinez around? Surely he has fed enough prospects at this point? Martinez is an alright athlete, contrary to his comical size, but a Heavyweight with powerful hands can’t be so scarce that the UFC needs to keep funnelling Martinez vs prospects into the prelims. Nevertheless, Martinez’s volume and cardio are a-ok.
Predicted Result: Parisian Decision
Martinez, contrary to his comical size, has a decent gas tank and puts out a surprising volume. His mediocre hands will not be enough to stop Josh Parisian from overwhelming him on the feet with power shots. Moreover, Parisian will struggle to find an easier opponent to bully against the fence and eventually smother him from top.
Result: Parisian def. Martinez // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Joaquim Silva (11-2) vs Ricky Glenn (21-6-1)
After taking almost two years out, it’s nice to see the return of stoppage artist, Joaquim Silva. Silva’s explosive striking can cause him to flag during the later rounds, but early work to the legs will effectively put money in the bank. Glenn doesn’t seem to be a fighter capable of being knocked out, but cuts/injuries can always force an intervention.
Glenn is certainly an easy fighter to support. Possessing reach, insane durability, and a never-ending engine, Glenn’s massive volume and natural aggression has only been hampered by weight cuts. Now moving up to Lightweight, Glenn may be substituting his reach for an extra pop. Sadly for Glenn, the increased weight may be an issue as he lacks the raw physicality to bully opponents.
Predicted Result: Silva Decision
After taking almost two years out, it’s nice to see the return of stoppage artist, Joaquim Silva. Silva’s explosive striking can cause him to flag during the later rounds, but early work to the legs will effectively put money in the bank. While Glenn’s granite chin is unlikely to be cracked, there’s always the possibility of a cut or an injury. Moving up to Lightweight after a history of tough weight cuts may lead to an extra pop, but more likely increased weight prevents Glenn from bullying opponents as effectively.
Result: Glenn def. Silva // KO (punches) Round 1 0:37
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Lara Procopio (7-1) vs Casey O’Neill (6-0)
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Capable of pumping out a crazy pace, Lara Procopio drew great praise after rising to the occasion against Karol Rosa. It was a shame then when Procopio was dragged into a pedestrian wrestling affair against Molly McMann the very next fight. A chain wrestler who eventually finds one that sticks, Procopio needs to learn to dictate fights on her own terms.
Technically sound, Casey O’Neill is a fighter still growing into her body at twenty-three. A relentless grinder on the feet and mat, O’Neill’s breathless volume frustrates opponents while masking her frequent attempts to take the fight to the mat. The more process-driven wrestler in the bout, her rounded game benefits from clear game-planning.
Predicted Result: O’Neill Decision
A relentless grinder on the feet and mat, O’Neill’s breathless volume frustrates opponents while masking her frequent attempts to take the fight to the mat. The more process-driven wrestler in the bout, her rounded game benefits from clear game-planning. Capable of pumping out a crazy pace, Lara Procopio drew great praise after rising to the occasion against Karol Rosa. Unfortunately, the Procopio that faced Molly McCann was happy to engage in a pedestrian wrestling affair. A chain wrestler who eventually finds one that sticks, Procopio needs to learn to dictate fights on her own terms.
Result: O’Neill def. Procopio // Technical Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 2:54
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
UFC on ESPN 25
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: A card to miss.
Pintsized Interests is just a baby finding its first steps in the big, bad world of sports journalism. If you enjoy the content that is regularly uploaded then please consider donating via the link below. Any amount is greatly appreciated, and will go towards ensuring the survival of Pintsized Interests in the long-term.