UFC on ESPN 30: Barboza vs Chikadze Predictions

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UFC on ESPN 30: Barboza vs Chikadze Predictions & Results

Pintsized Background

UFC on ESPN 30 is actually a cracker of a card, but with a Jake Paul card crying out for attention this weekend, and a butt load of real-life work, it’ll be a whistle-stop tour. The main event is an intriguing duel between Barboza and Chikadze (veteran and propsect), while the Pintsized pick is Alhassan vs Di Chirico for a potential barnburner or snoozer.

Boy it sure would be nice for Alhassan to return to some form of knockout form | UFC on ESPN 30
Boy it sure would be nice for Alhassan to return to some form of knockout form | UFC on ESPN 30

UFC on ESPN 30: Main Event

Edson Barboza (22-9) vs Giga Chikadze (13-2)

Featherweight (145)

Edson Barboza

Don’t speak it into reality, as we want to see a stand-up affair, but Barboza could realistically out-wrestle Chikadze. Jamall Emmers, Brandon Davis and Austin Springer all found success in getting Chikadze to the ground. The Brazilian is obviously best renowned for his striking and TDD. Yet there have been times Barboza has found himself on top and controlled his opponent reasonably well. Importantly, Barboza is a large Featherweight and possibly the first opponent Chikadze won’t be able to weight bully. Not that being of equal size is required for Barboza to stop himself from backing onto the cage. As long as Barboza doesn’t suffocate his own space, leaving the kicks open as a weapon, the Brazilian with his long list of scalps is the easier pick.

Bodywork is an avenue that may well prove key. With sharper head movement in the pocket than Chikadze, if the two men find themselves up close, Barboza torques violent liver shots and uppercuts to the solar plexus that take the wind out of an opponent. When taking into account Barboza’s tree chopping leg kicks, his attritional damage appears better suited to MMA than Chikadze’s power striking. Proven to be able to go the distance, Barboza will have more than enough opportunity to counter Chikadze when he inevitably falls into an over juiced strike.

Giga Chikadze

For a man who was just fighting the undersized and overmatched, Irwin Rivera, last year, a victory over Barboza would be a huge statement. Having finally started to find his knockout power, Chikadze’s entertaining kickboxing is an easy sell for Dana. Able to string crisp combinations, Chikadze’s greatest strength is his sense of distance and timing. While there isn’t much fluidity in between combinations, Chikadze is often too fast in 50/50 exchanges to truly matter. Chikadze’s issue stem from his work from Southpaw. Loading up heavy, he leaves himself more prone to damage as he throws full-blooded out of Southpaw.

It must be stated that it is never advisable to fight Barboza at a mid-range, no matter your credentials. Chikadze tendency to get too far behind his shots, loosening his technique and leaving himself exposed is a huge hole. Barboza has never been an easy fighter to put away and perhaps finds himself in peak mental strength in comparison to his early career. Sure, Barboza has several miles on the clock by now, but his chin has looked stellar at Featherweight so far. Chikadze would need a gargantuan leap in performance levels from beating an expired Cub Swanson last time out. More than ever, Chikadze has to showcase his ability to set and maintain a pace. Barboza can happily sit in his three/four punch combinations and out-strike opponents all fight. The Georgian has to remain active at mid-range rather than resetting – it may have resulted in Dan Hooker’s demise, yet the Kiwi opted for such a plan when it was too late.

Predicted Result: Barboza Decision

Barboza is a large Featherweight and possibly the first opponent Chikadze won’t be able to weight bully. Not that being of equal size is required for Barboza to stop himself from backing onto the cage. With sharper head movement in the pocket than Chikadze, if the two men find themselves up close, Barboza torques violent liver shots and uppercuts to the solar plexus that take the wind out of an opponent. When taking into account Barboza’s tree chopping leg kicks, his attritional damage appears better suited to MMA than Chikadze’s power striking.

Chikadze’s greatest strength stems from his judgement of distance and timing. Barboza has several miles on the clock at this point, and although his chin has looked stellar at Featherweight, Chikadze did just put away a typically durable Cub Swanson in under a round. Chikadze will have to set a harsh pace and prevent Barboza from resetting in between combinations otherwise this could be a painful night for the prospect.

Result: Chikadze def. Barboza // TKO (punches) Round 3 1:44

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

In true Just Bleed fashion, Edson Barboza and Shane Burgos battled to a bloody stoppage | UFC on ESPN 30
In true Just Bleed fashion, Edson Barboza and Shane Burgos battled to a bloody stoppage | UFC on ESPN 30

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UFC on ESPN 30: Co-Main Event

Bryan Battle (5-1) vs Gilbert Urbina (6-1)

Middleweight (185)

TUF Middleweight Championship

Bryan Battle

Bryan Battle holds a very enjoyable record. Despite almost no wins of quality in his professional career, Battle has accumulated a litany of experience in the amateur ranks. It is always fun to back an underdog, especially when that dog was the last pick for Team Volk on TUF. Out-enduring and submitting huge tournament favourite, Andre Petroski, in the semi-final, Battle showcased the mental side of the sport. It’s a limited grinding striking that gets the job done but is so difficult to back.

Gilbert Urbina

A back-take snake with capable enough wrestling to reach that goal. Wild overhands and one-twos are all vehicles to reach the clinch, from where Urbina can use his natural size to overwhelm opponents. A surprise path to the final, after being knocked out by fellow semi-finalist, Tresean Gore, Urbina can thank his lucky stars for another chance on the big stage. His striking may be sloppy but his aggression and activity should beat Battle to the punch regularly.

Predicted Result: Urbina Decision

Bryan Battle holds a very enjoyable record. Despite almost no wins of quality in his professional career, Battle has accumulated a litany of experience in the amateur ranks. Out-enduring and submitting huge tournament favourite, Andre Petroski, in the semi-final, Battle showcased the mental side of the sport. It’s a limited grinding striking that gets the job done but is so difficult to back. Urbina, however, is a back-take snake with capable enough wrestling to reach that goal. A surprise path to the final, after being knocked out by fellow semi-finalist, Tresean Gore, Urbina can thank his lucky stars for another chance on the big stage. His striking may be sloppy but aggression and activity should beat Battle to the punch regularly.

Result: Battle def. Urbina // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2 2:15

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

In a quiet TUF season, Bryan Battle has been a decent personality and underdog to back through | UFC on ESPN 30
In a quiet TUF season, Bryan Battle has been a decent personality and underdog to back through | UFC on ESPN 30

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UFC on ESPN 30: Main Card

Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs Brady Hiestand (5-1)

Bantamweight (135)

TUF Bantamweight Championship

Ricky Turcios

A high-volume, tough as nails striker with solid wrestling chops (although not seen on TUF to its full extent), it is difficult to see any result that doesn’t involve Turcios’ hand being raised. Turcios hasn’t committed to his wrestling during the show, but he is more than capable of tussling on the ground. With Hiestand likely to shoot from the opening bell, Turcios has the style and gas tank to drag his young opponent into deep waters.

Brady Hiestand

An honest wrestler who pours everything into taking fights to the mat, Hiestand outperformed on the show. A raw bag of tools, Hiestand’s exposure on the show may be perhaps the biggest reward from his risk. Hiestand has decent power in his hands and is an energetic wrestler, but Turcios represents a test far, far above any that he has faced before. A tendency to blow his gasket chasing the takedown, leaving himself spent by the later rounds, is a worrying red flag that has to be addressed.

Predicted Result: Turcios TKO Round 3

A high-volume, tough as nails striker with solid wrestling chops, it is difficult to see any result that doesn’t involve Turcios’ hand being raised. With Hiestand likely to shoot from the opening bell, Turcios has the grappling ability and gas tank to drag his young opponent into deep waters. Heistand has outperformed on TUF in regards to his record, yet he carries decent power and a knack for hitting the mat. Turcios’ experience and comfort in any area of the fight makes him the safer pick.

Result: Turcios def. Hiestand // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Kevin Lee (18-6) vs Daniel Rodriguez (15-2)

Welterweight (170)

Kevin Lee

Gas tank issues, leaky striking defence and an inability to stick gameplans – Kevin Lee simply hasn’t developed over the years. Granted, the past 17 months can be attributed to surgery on both of his ACLs. Even when considering Lee’s ‘unnatural’ build, there is only so much Arnold juice that can repair a tired, old body at twenty-eight years old. When also noting that Lee is moving up to Welterweight, after a history of poor weight cuts, this is a piece of incredibly harsh match-making from the UFC. He remains a top wrestler capable of delivering huge punishment from above and securing submissions. Lee’s reach and jab are top-tier weapons, but he always falls away from it when his Plan A doesn’t immediately result in total success. The jab especially is useful against a counter-puncher, as it will throw him off his timing. If Mike Perry is capable of out-grappling Rodriguez, a coachless Perry, then Lee should surely be backed to have a clear upper hand.

Daniel Rodriguez

A huge Welterweight, who aside from sluggish hand speed, has a mean eye for a counter strike. Moreover, while Rodriguez appears inactive at times, his significant strike numbers tell another story. Landing more than 8 significant strikes a minute, Rodriguez’s accuracy should be praised far more than his volume. No longer the brawler of old, Rodriguez has transformed into a crafty counter puncher who emphasises efficiency. We haven’t yet properly seen his TDD against an elite wrestler such as Lee, but the threat falls off of a cliff after the early rounds. Rodriguez has worryingly shown weakness early – wobbled by Nicolas Dalby and Dwight Grant just last year. Still, that is Rodriguez’s style. The man loves to invite pressure and back himself in exchanges. With Rodriguez’s innate timing, it is usually a solid back. Charles Oliveira, noted for his submission skills, was able to land check hooks regularly on the aggressive, front-foot work of Lee. Rodriguez is a sharper striker, a harder hitter and is far more capable of spinning Lee’s chin with one shot.

Predicted Result: Rodriguez Decision

Coming off a double ACL reconstruction, a seventeen month lay-off and a jump up to Welterweight, this feels like a huge ask for Kevin Lee. Regardless, Lee remains a top wrestler capable of delivering huge punishment from above and securing submissions. Lee’s reach and jab are also top-tier weapons, but he always falls away from it when his Plan A doesn’t immediately result in total success. Rodriguez is a huge Welterweight, who aside from sluggish hand speed, has a mean eye for a counter strike. Landing more than 8 significant strikes a minute, Rodriguez’s accuracy should be praised far more than his volume. Rodriguez has worryingly shown weakness early – wobbled by Nicolas Dalby and Dwight Grant just last year. Still, that is Rodriguez’s style. With a beautiful check hook, Rodriguez could find the same success with the shot that Charles Oliveira found a couple years ago.

Result: Rodriguez def. Lee // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Andre Petroski (5-1) vs Michael Gillmore (6-3)

Middleweight (185)

Andre Petroski

A scarily powerful wrestler, Andre Petroski once again proved his clear chink in the armour on TUF when exposed on the inside. If Petroski is unable to ragdoll his opponent, his gas tank starts to fall apart after the first round. The UFC may struggle to get much mileage out of Petroski, who is limited by his conditioning, but a little bit of WWE treatment on the mic will probably keep him around. If Petroski is unable to take down Gillmore, a fighter who loves to kick and bases TDD around a counter straight, then there is no hope for the thirty-year-old.

Michael Gillmore

This feels very much like a poor regional fighter being asked to give Petroski a leg up. Extremely susceptible on the mat, Gillmore’s TDD is largely based around his fast and powerful right hand. Petroski has a strong enough chin to walk through a couple of shots, and there has been little shown to suggest that Gilmore can survive on his back against his far larger opponent.

Predicted Result: Petroski Submission Round 1

A scarily powerful wrestler, if Petroski is unable to ragdoll his opponent, his gas tank starts to fall apart after the first round. To be unable to take down Gillmore, a fighter who loves to kick and bases TDD around a counter straight, then there is no hope for the thirty-year-old. Petroski has a strong enough chin to walk through a couple of shots, and there has been little shown to suggest that Gilmore can survive on his back against his far larger opponent.

Result: Petroski def. Gillmore // TKO (elbows and punches) Round 3 3:12

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Gerald Meerschaert (32-14) vs Makhmud Muradov (25-6)

Middleweight (185)

Gerald Meerschaert

Does anyone else remember that one time that every Chimaev-hater believed Meerschaert to be the TRUE UFC test? Lol. This is coming from a somewhat fan of Meerschaert as well. The crafty veteran is an amazing gatekeeper, his submission win over Trevin Giles just two years ago proves that. Unfortunately for Meerschaert, he regularly finds himself out of depth on the feet and will not have an easy route to tying up Muradov. It isn’t like Gerald can bank on his chin to close distance. A win over Fabinski is a decent scalp over an utterly boring fighter, but the Pole is hardly the slickest kickboxer.

Makhmud Muradov

A high-volume, combination striker that dances around the outside. The speed differential will be clear on the night, against an elderly opponent who is best renowned for his grappling. Sure Muradov is sacrificing some reach, but his footwork is far crisper and his defensive consistency suggests he won’t be caught lingering in the pocket. If, as expected, Muradov keeps this standing, it is only a matter of time before Muradov finds the finish.

Predicted Result: Muradov TKO Round 2

A high-volume, combination striker that dances around the outside, Muradov’s speed differential will be clear on the night against an elderly opponent best renowned for his grappling. Sure Muradov is sacrificing some reach, but his footwork is far crisper and his defensive consistency suggests he won’t be caught lingering in the pocket. Meerschaert is always a tough gatekeeper challenge, but he cannot bank on his chin to buy him time and find an opportunity to grapple.

Result: Meerschaert def. Muradov // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 2 1:49

Winner // Method ❌ // Round ✔️

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UFC on ESPN 30: Preliminary Card

Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-4) vs Alessio Di Chirico (13-5)

Middleweight (185)

Abdul Razak Alhassan

Maaan, I like Jacob Malkoun, but a loss to him is particularly damning for a prospect who was just coming off a victory over Niko Price in 2018. Alhassan’s nutty power remains in his hands, yet opponents have realised that his 73″ reach and limited outside boxing can be exposed throughout a fight. Di Chirico is a hittable opponent, but the Italian has shown an ability to counter-strike before. If Di Chirico sits on the back-foot and sets sights on grinding out an ugly but clean decision, Alhassan lacks the creative tools to set the Italian onto his hard right hand.

Alessio Di Chirico

Hell yeah, this is the perfect fight. Di Chirico finds himself on a surprise turnaround of form, while Alhassan remains a one-note power puncher in decline who still cannot be written off. After dropping three decisions to Holland, Muradov and Cummings, Di Chirico was somewhat exposed as a limited brawler with a huge chin and heart. The Italian turned it around against Joaquin Buckley, however, head kicking his smaller opponent after finding success in early exchanges. Inside leg kicks and up-kicks off his right leg are new weapons utilised against Buckley that will find the Italian great success as he waits to counter with his hands.

Predicted Result: Di Chirico Decision

Hell yeah, this is the perfect fight. Di Chirico finds himself on a surprise turnaround of form, while Alhassan remains a one-note power puncher in decline who still cannot be written off. A hearty brawler at times with a huge chin, the Italian looked far more composed against Buckey – utilising a variety of inside leg kicks, up kicks and the eventual head kick. Alhassan’s nutty power remains in his hands, yet opponents have realised that his 73″ reach and limited outside boxing can be exposed throughout a fight.

Result: Alhassan def. Di Chirico // KO (head kick) Round 1 0:17

Winner // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Sam Alvey (33-15-1) vs Wellington Turman (16-5)

Middleweight (185)

Sam Alvey

Hahaha, good old Sam Alvey gets another fight in the UFC. The ‘smilin’ schtick is getting old, his style has aged like milk in the summer sun and he is a leading candidate for CTE studies many years into the future. Five losses and a draw over the past three years have seen Alvey attempt to start to lead the fight. Unfortunately, against younger and stronger opponents, Alvey inevitably ends up tied to the cage and waiting to land his left hand or lead hook. Turman is a huge step down in competition quality, however, and has the TDD to keep Turman on the feet. Smilin also has the potential to break a wobbly, unconfident prospect who has been broken by both Andrew Sanchez and Bruno Silva when he was unable to get his wrestling going.

Wellington Turman

The Brazilian appears to be broken goods by this point, so early into his career. Without the power to gain respect on the feet, Turman has been lost at sea when unable to string his wrestling together. Without access to his grappling threat, Turman is left as a limited striker with a terrifyingly poor chin at 185lbs. Alvey’s single-shot style leaves Turman with greater chances of finding enough time to piece together his offence, but Alvey isn’t as over the hill as his record suggests.

Predicted Result: Alvey TKO Round 3

How on Earth has Alvey got himself into a very winnable match-up? Turman is a huge step down in competition quality, and Alvey has the TDD to prevent the Brazilian accessing his dangerous grappling. Turman appears to be broken goods by this point, so early into his career. Without the power to gain respect on the feet, Turman has been lost at sea when unable to string his wrestling together. Alvey’s single-shot style leaves Turman with greater chances of finding enough time to piece together his offence, but Smilin isn’t as over the hill as his record suggests.

Result: Turman def. Alvey // Decision (split – 27-28, 28-27, 28-27)

Winner // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Dustin Jacoby (14-5-1) vs Darren Stewart (12-7)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Dustin Jacoby

Tall, awkward and rangey with a jab, Dustin Jacoby is a talented fighter who could build a strong run if handed the correct fights. Unfortunately for Jacoby, he will never be a great sell for the company, and as such, will find himself fed to the prospects eventually. Not that Jacoby can’t climb the hard way. Very durable, Jacoby succeeds by maintaining a consistent volume deep into the fight and judge distance decently.

Darren Stewart

A fighter whose success was based on his physical strength at Middleweight has decided to move up to LHW? Strange. A strong wrestler who can control opponents on the mat, he will struggle in the clinch mostly at LHW. Jacoby’s 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage leaves me to believe that Jacoby will be far too large to control, even against the cage, if Stewart can close the distance. The Brit has powerful short hooks on the inside, and the potential speed advantage could see him land, but it would have to be a peach that cracks Jacoby’s chin.

Predicted Result: Jacoby Decision

Tall, awkward and rangey with a jab, Dustin Jacoby is a talented fighter who could build a strong run if handed the correct fights. Stewart is up against it, sacrificing the success he found at Middleweight based on his raw strength style. A fighter whose success was based on his physical strength at Middleweight has decided to move up to LHW? Strange. Jacoby’s 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage leaves me to believe that Jacoby will be far too large to control, even against the cage, if Stewart can close the distance. The Brit has powerful short hooks on the inside, and the potential speed advantage could see him land, but it would have to be a peach that cracks Jacoby’s chin.

Result: Jacoby def. Stewart // TKO (punches) Round 1 3:04

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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JJ Aldrich (9-4) vs Vanessa Demopoulos (6-3)

Women’s Flyweight (125)

JJ Aldrich

A decent boxer, Aldrich is far more a technical savant than a physical beast. Partly Aldrich’s issue is that she falls between Strawweight and Flyweight. Against Demopoulos, however, Aldrich will prove to be far stronger on the feet. Carrying an 8″ reach advantage into the bout, Aldrich possesses a strong Southpaw jab that Demopoulos will be left clueless on how to get inside of. Coupled with Aldrich’s volume, this could be a visibly stark out-classing.

Vanessa Demopoulos

The far smaller fighter in this bout, the debutant is going to struggle to get Aldrich to the mat. Undersized and lacking firepower on the feet, it will require a huge amount of effort to take Aldrich down. On the mat, Demopoluos has a submission game that could threaten JJ, but it is difficult to see the fight transitioning there. Despite a stellar chin so far, this will be a painful night that asks questions of Demopoulos’ heart.

Predicted Result: Aldrich Decsiion

A decent boxer, Aldrich is typically a far more technical savant than physical beast. Against Demopoulos, however, Aldrich will prove to be far stronger on the feet. Carrying an 8″ reach advantage into the bout, Aldrich possesses a strong Southpaw jab that Demopoulos will be left clueless on how to get inside of. On the mat, Demopoluos has a submission game that could threaten JJ, but it is difficult to see the fight transitioning there even with a stellar chin to back risk-taking.

Result: Aldrich def. Demopoulos // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

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Mana Martinez (8-2) vs Guido Cannetti (8-5)

Bantamweight (135)

Mana Martinez

Entering his debut a week after the death of coach, Saul Soliz, Martinez will have an even bigger point to prove. A powerful scrapper, Martinez’s greatest success stems from the lead hook. Martinez is extremely left side dominant, regularly launching left hands and left kicks. Greater creativity and mixture in his striking would pay dividends for the young man.

Guido Cannetti

A forty-one-year-old Bantamweight, Cannetti’s naked leg kicks leave him wildly exposed to lead hooks. Worse yet, his smaller stature and wild striking style leave him vulnerable in the later rounds. Cannetti does have the wrestling avenue, exposing Martinez’s almost none existent ground game, but it is a huge task to ask of a fighter with a gas tank hampered by age.

Predicted Result: Martinez TKO Round 3

A forty-one-year-old Bantamweight, Cannetti’s naked leg kicks leave him wildly exposed to lead hooks. Worse yet, his smaller stature and wild striking style leave him vulnerable in the later rounds. Cannetti does have the wrestling avenue, exposing Martinez’s almost none existent ground game, but it is a huge task to ask of a fighter with a gas tank hampered by age.

Result: Martinez def. Cannetti // Decision (split – 28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

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Prediction Accuracy

UFC on ESPN 30

Winner: 6/11

Method: 2/11

Round: 3/11

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 191/325

Method: 154/325

Round: 144/325

MMA Overall

Winner: 382/629

Method: 291/629

Round: 270/629

Takeaway comments: A card to forget in terms of prediction success, a card to remember in regards to entertainment.


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