UFC 251 Prelim Predictions

By Christopher Carpenter

            Fight Island is finally here! It’s hard to believe that with everything the world is going through that fight island is actually happening. While there have been some bumps in the road with the testing as Gilbert Burns is out, all is well as Jorge Masvidal is stepping up to the main event to the delight of many fans.

            I’ll be giving my predictions for the first six fights on the card this week and I’m excited because there’s several bouts with ranked fighters and several with fighters right on the cusp of landing in the rankings. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Martin Day vs Davey Grant

Starting off the night we have a bantamweight fight between Martin Day and Davey Grant. Martin Day is coming off of a two-year layoff after his loss in his UFC debut so it will be interesting to see how he has been training during that time. Davey Grant on the other hand is a veteran in the UFC, as he was in the finale of the 18th season of the Ultimate Fighter and has been in the promotion for four years. When looking at each of their records, Day is on a one fight losing streak and Grant on a one fight winning streak. Both of these fighters have a similar striking accuracy at 49% (Day) and 52% (Grant), while Grant has a slight advantage in striking defense. Both of these fighters have several finishes on their resume, but it has been a while since either of them have landed one. As a result, I think this fight will play out mainly on the feet but could go to the ground for a short time and I think it will end in a decision. With the advantages Grant has in striking, I favor him slightly in this fight.

My Pick: Grant by Decision

Karol Rosa vs Vanessa Mola

Next up we have a women’s bantamweight fight between Karol Rosa and Vanessa Mola. Both of these women are relatively new to the promotion as Mola is two fights into the UFC and Rosa is coming off of her debut. Both of these women are strikers, as neither one of them has attempted a takedown in the UFC so it’s pretty safe to say that this fight will mostly be a kick boxing match. Rosa had an impressive debut, and she’s only 25 years old with an impressive 12-3 record. No discredit to Vanessa Mola, she’s a veteran fighter with a few submissions to her name so she can definitely hold her own in this fight. With that being said, I do believe that Rosa has the advantage in this fight, due to her impressive striking output in her last fight (11 strikes per minute). Vegas has Rosa as a -240 favorite, and I think that’s a pretty safe line to bet on.

My pick: Rosa by Decision.

Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs (14) Rualian Paiva

Flyweights will step into the octagon for the third fight of the night and I’m excited as it’s not often that we see flyweights anymore. This should be an interesting fight as a ranked spot is up for grabs for Zhumagulov. Paiva is a three fight UFC veteran and Zhumagulov is making his debut. When looking at how each fighters’ bouts play out, Paiva has won 12 of his 19 fights by decision and Zhumagulov has won 6 of his 13 victories by knockout. Judging by those stats and Paiva’s low takedown attempts, I think this fight is unlikely to go the ground. The odds currently favor Paiva as a near 2 to 1 favorite but given Zhumagulov’s record he has the potential to finish this fight in the stand up. The safe bet would be Paiva, but I would not count out Zhumagulov.

My Pick: Zhumagulov by TKO

Marcin Tybura vs Maxim Grishin

Closing out the Early Prelims is a heavyweight bout between UFC veteran Marcin Tybura and PFL veteran Maxim Grishin. It’s hard to not be impressed looking at Marcin Tybura’s record as he has fought two former UFC champions and three current top 15 UFC heavyweights. Grishin’s record is also very impressive as he is on a 7-fight win streak (2 draws in between) coming out of PFL, the extremely competitive fighting tournament. Grishin has showed that he has serious knockout power (15 wins by KO/TKO) and Tybura’s chin has struggled recently as he has lost 3 of his last 5 fights by Knockout. Even though Tybura’s got the edge in experience, I think Grishin could have a statement win this weekend against a solid contender in the heavyweight division.

My Pick: Maxim Grishin by Knockout.

Leonardo Santos vs Roman Bogatov

Starting the Prelims, we have a fight in the lightweight division between two submission specialists in Leonardo Santos and Roman Bogatov. Both of these fighters have the majority of their victories by submission but have several by knockout and decision. Leonardo is on an 11-fight win streak despite being 40 years old and has shown no sign of slowing down. Bogatov on the other hand is a young, undefeated Russian fighter with 10 victories in his professional career. While there’s a strong chance that this fight turns into a grappling match, Santos showed in his previous fight that he has serious punching power, as he has KO wins over Kevin Lee and Stevie Ray. I think that Santos’ experience and diverse skill on the ground and feet give him the advantage in this fight. Bogatov’s undefeated record is promising but it’s hard to know how challenging his competition has been, so I’m favoring Santos to pull out the victory.

My pick: Santos by submission

Makwan Amirkhani vs Danny Henry

Wrapping up my picks is the featherweight fight between two prospects in Makwan Amirkhani and Danny Henry. Both of these fighters are coming off loses to top prospects in the division, Amirkhani losing to Shane Burgos and Danny Henry losing to Dan Ige. On paper, Henry has a significantly higher striking output than Amirkhani, while Amirkhani has a significantly higher takedown percentage. The majority of Henry’s victories are from knockouts and submissions, while Amirkhani has an impressive 10 submissions to his name. So, it looks like on the feet this fikght will favor Henry and on the ground, it favors Amirkhani. Henry has a takedown defense of 66% which will definitely give him the edge if he can maintain that. But I think this fight will be dependent on if Amirkhani can take it to the ground and maintain control, but if not, I can see Henry winning the fight in the standup.

My Pick: Henry by decision

I hope everyone enjoys the fights this weekend and happy fight island!

Twitter: @chriscarp66

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