It’s the first UFC event of the year and we’re starting off with a bang. The UFC heavyweight title is on the line with former training partners, Ciryl Gane and Francis Ngannou going head to head. Also Brandon Moreno defends his flyweight title for the first time against Deiveson Figueiredo in their trilogy fight. The rest of the card isn’t too strong on paper though.
Cody Stamann vs Said Nurmagomedov – Bantamweight Division
Stamann comes into this fight 19-4-1 and is a terrific wrestler. He likes to use boxing pressure to force his opponents backwards so he can shoot for a takedown against the fence. Nurmagomedov, isn’t your traditional Nurmagomedov. He’s well rounded, however, I think his striking is much better than his grappling. He expertly uses his height and reach advantage to pick his opponents apart with kicks, he’s an elusive striker who has an array of different attacks to win the fight. It’s a tough fight to call but I’m going with Said Nurmagomedov by decision.
Prediction: Said Nurmagomedov by decision
Rodolfo Vieira vs Wellington Turman – Middleweight Division
The jiu-jitsu of Vieira is terrific, however, if he can’t get the finish, he tends to tire out extremely quickly, something we saw in his last fight against Anthony Hernandez. Vieira has a decent jab, but Turman definitely has the advantage on the feet. Wellington has an array of kicks that could either get him on the mat or break Vieira down. I think Vieira would’ve worked on his cardio but I think Wellington will take the win by decision after he gasses out by the end of round 2.
Prediction: Wellington Turman by decision
Michel Pereira vs Andre Fialho – Welterweight Division
The most exciting fighter on the roster is back and he’ll face late replacement Andre Fialho. Pereira is all about making special moments. If it’s not flying knees, it’s a spinning back fist, if not a spinning back fist, it’s a showtime kick, the Brazilian loves to pull out all the stops in his fights. Fialho is making his UFC debut and is primarily a boxer. One problem with Fialho’s style going into this fight is that he constantly plants his lead leg, something Pereira can easily capitalise on with low kicks and a potential takedown. However, Pereira is known for gassing out and Fialho could take advantage of that in the round 2 and 3. I still believe Pereira has the experience to win and I think he’ll get his first finish since 2020.
Prediction: Michel Pereira by TKO in round 2
Brandon Moreno (c) vs Deiveson Figueiredo 3 – Bantamweight Championship
This could be the end of a terrific rivalry. Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo go against each other for potentially the final time. There’s not much more to breakdown that I haven’t said in the 1st and 2nd matches. Moreno, terrific jiu-jitsu and grappling with good striking. Figueiredo good striking, incredible power and solid offensive jiu-jitsu. I’ve gone against Moreno twice and I’m not making that mistake again. I’m worried about Figueiredo’s chin. The weight cut at UFC 263 clearly affected him again as he was easily dropped by Moreno. I think we could see a repeat of UFC 263. I’m taking Moreno by submission.
Prediction: Brandon Moreno by submission in round 4
Francis Ngannou (c) vs Ciryl Gane – Heavyweight Championship
I can do a long winded breakdown of this fight or I can keep it short and sweet. In every way I look at this fight from a technical aspect, Gane wins. He’s faster on the feet, Has a better variety of attacks. His jiu-jitsu is better and he has power than can put Ngannou in serious trouble. However, Ngannou has improved technically and has better grappling than in previous fights. Also, he’s the hardest hitter in combat sports along with Deontay Wilder. One mistake from Gane and it’s all over. If Gane can survive the opening 15 minutes of the fight, I think he takes round 4 and 5, yet, I don’t see this going to decision. This is genuinely the toughest prediction I’ve ever made but I’m going with Francis Ngannou by KO. If Ciryl picks him apart I will not be surprised, he’s that good.
Prediction: Francis Ngannou by KO in round 3