UFC 273 is on Saturday night as we have the first UFC card of 2022 with two title fights. We’ve also got the people’s main event, where Khamzat Chimaev faces off with Gilbert Burns in a match that will surely solidify if the Swede is the real deal or not. This card will definitely go down in the history books.
Vinc Pichel vs Mark Madsen – Lightweight Division
This fight gets moved up to the main card after Kelvin Gastelum had to drop out of his match with Dricus Du Plessis after his original opponent Nassourdine Imanov had visa issues preventing him from fighting. Going into this fight, both men are evenly matched on the feet, with Pichel having the slight advantage. However, on the ground, Madsen’s advantage reigns supreme. Pichel is very capable of getting up if Madsen imposes his wrestling but I don’t think he’ll be able to keep him at bay for 15 minutes. I’m taking Madsen by decision.
Prediction: Mark Madsen by decision
Mackenzie Dern vs Tecia Torres – Strawweight Division
This a great fight to follow up the opener. Dern is probably the second best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the strawweight division behind Amanda Ribas and Torres is solid all round. Torres’ low kicks is normally a useful weapon for her but if Dern is able to catch a leg and take her down, I don’t expect her to give up top position for the entire round. Torres will want to keep this on the feet, which is easier said than done. I’m taking Dern for the win here.
Prediction: Mackenzie Dern by submission round 1
Gilbert Burns vs Khamzat Chimaev – Welterweight Division
Probably the hardest match to predict. The question is, have I bought into the Khamzat hype? The answer? Yes. I think he’s an exceptional fighter with great potential. However, Burns is the first real test for Khamzat and has won jiu-jitsu championships across the world. Although Burns has great jiu-jitsu, I’d want to keep Khamzat on the feet and strike with the Swede for as long as possible. From clips in his first pro fights, Khamzat tends to slow down drastically as the fight goes on, If Burns can tire him out, he could find the finish or sneak a decision win. One huge factor that could play out in this fight is the size difference. Khamzat is a big welterweight and Burns is very small for the division meaning that if Burns wants to strike with Khamzat, he will have to step into his range, which could allow the Swede to clinch and look for a takedown. I’m taking Khamzat. I think the size discrepancy will play a huge factor along with Khamzat’s skill. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out.
Prediction: Khamzat Chimaev by TKO round 2
Aljamain Sterling (c) vs Petr Yan (ic) 2 – Bantamweight Championship
The long-awaited rematch. Based off what we saw before Yan got DQ’d, Yan had the advantage and grew into the fight as it progressed. Sterling showed great a work rate, but he definitely began to tire by end of the 3rd round. This time he needs to be more conservative with his energy because Yan will pick him apart. Yan needs to fight like he did from round 2 onwards, using leg sweeps in the clinch to prevent a takedown, staying defensively responsible whilst varying attacks. I’m pretty sure Yan doesn’t have a corner for this fight, so it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs. I’m still taking the Russian, he’s that good.
Prediction: Petr Yan by decision
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs Chan-sung Jung – Featherweight Championship
Volkanovski vs The Korean Zombie is a great matchup and I’m looking forward to see how this plays out. Both of these fighters are good wherever the fight goes, however I think the champion has the advantage in every department of the game. For me, it’s a question of if TKZ can catch Volk in the boxing. We’ve seen the champion rocked before yet keep his composure and I think he can do the same again on Saturday. Apart from landing the perfect shot to shut the lights out, I don’t see a path for Zombie winning this fight. I think the champion will steamroll his way to another defence.
Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski by TKO round 3