Nunes vs Pena 2? Probably the most excited I’ve been for a woman’s fight since Nunes vs Cyborg. I have no clue how this goes. A decent undercard should hopefully present a good fight night on Saturday.
Magomed Ankalaev vs Anthony Smith – Light Heavyweight Division
Top of the Light Heavyweights clash in a potential title fight eliminator. Magomed is a peculiar fighter. Apart from his crazy fights with Ion Cutelaba and a last-second loss to Paul Craig, I often don’t remember his fights but he always finds a way to win. One thing I do remember about his fights is his left-high kick. He sets them up really sneakily either after feints or a right straight. He doesn’t use it as much but Magomed has the wrestling background if necessary. Anthony Smith is of course a veteran of the game. He’s seen it all and could definitely pull off a shock. He’s well-rounded but he’s so 50/50 that it’s hard for me to side with him.
Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by decision
Alexandre Pantoja vs Alex Perez – Flyweight Division
Really interesting fight here to follow up. Pantoja is a BJJ guy. He’s going to want to take Perez down and either grab his neck or a limb and wrench it. However, the longer the fight goes, the slower he gets and his opponent Perez likes to throw with high output, especially in round one, where his last three fights have finished. We haven’t seen Perez since his title fight loss to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 255 in 2020 so octagon rust could be a factor in this fight. I think Pantoja gets the job done.
Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja by submission in round 1
Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich – Heavyweight Division
Young talent vs Derrick Lewis episode God knows at this point. Derrick doesn’t even know his opponent’s name.
Pavlovich is actually good. Nice striking pretty good on the feet and pretty quick on the feet. He’s not as good as Gane but this fight reminds me of Ciryl vs Derrick. I think Sergei beats Derrick.
Prediction: Sergei Pavlovich by TKO in round 3
Brandon Moreno vs Kai Kara France 2 – Interim Flyweight Championship
I don’t want to use their first fight to judge this because both men have changed a lot since. Moreno has become one of the most complete fighters in the world with brilliant striking and grappling and Kara France has become an even better striker than ever with the ability to be taken to the deepest waters and not give in. Both men are championship worthy but I have to back Moreno to get the 4th match with Figueiredo for the undisputed belt. I think he’s too well-rounded and I think he can outpoint Kai from round to round. I’m going with the Mexican.
Prediction: Brandon Moreno by decision
Julianna Pena (c) vs Amanda Nunes 2 – Women’s Bantamweight Championship
Normally, I have an idea of who I’m going to predict for a win and why. For this one, I still don’t know. This fight answers a lot of questions. Is Nunes washed? Did Pena get lucky? Was Nunes just overconfident? I think I was one of the only people who actually gave Pena a shot a beating Nunes. I didn’t think she’d win but I knew she was dangerous to put the champ under pressure. However, reciprocating the same thing when the former champ has something to chase is not easy. Nunes has reset, changed her focus, has a new team and physically looks great going into this one in comparison to December. It’s too hard for me not to bet against the former champion but we know Pena has the mentality and quality across the board to put Amanda in those deep waters. I have no clue. No human with common sense throws money on this. I’m going with Pena. Gut feeling, nothing more, nothing less.
Prediction: Julianna Peña by submission round 3