UFC 252 Main Card Predictions

The summer is winding down, but the UFC certainly isn’t!

The APEX will once again be home for the UFC, this time showcasing a Heavyweight fight that needs no introduction – Stipe vs. DC 3.

That’s not all, as we have a Heavyweight contenders match and rising star Sean O’Malley taking on fan favorite Marlon Vera!

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier 3 (HW)

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Following a knockout defeat in their first meeting and two, debatably three, rounds down on the scorecards, Stipe Miocic (19-3, 13-3 UFC) proved his championship mettle by making the requisite adjustments to earn the knockout victory in the fourth round. Miocic has incredible wrestling and boxing, but is seriously dangerous with his power, especially in the first round. He uses a high volume in combination with amazing footwork, making it easy if it goes to the judges based on his volume. With Stipe’s power, it often doesn’t. Of course, he has a fantastic wrestling base to back him up, which he expertly used to ground and dominate divisional boogeyman Francis Ngannou.

Daniel Cormier: Stipe Miocic Will Be Done After UFC 241

Former double champ and Olympic silver medalist Daniel Cormier (22-2, 11-2 UFC) will be. making the final walk of his career this weekend, win or lose, but has been adamant that this victory is vital to his legacy in the sport. DC has skilled boxing, usually refraining from kicks against his larger opposition, but rarely finds issue closing range. His wrestling base is his best weapon, as he loves to use his acumen to control the fight and dictate where it takes place and on what terms. He holds fifteen finishes on his record, ten by way of knockout.

As disappointed as I am about the speed of the Heavyweight title process, this is one killer matchup that makes up for at least some of the pain of watching Ngannou wilt on the sidelines. DC has promised a return to his wrestling base which he pretty decisively outclassed Stipe with in their bout last August, but no doubt still wishes to sling it out on the feet. The latter is his concern against Stipe, but after observing the durability of the Olympian against Stipe’s bombs, I do not find it likely he finds the chin of DC early. The factor of body shots remains a concern for DC, but his ample strength and conditioning for this fight leaves me with at least a little more faith in his tolerance. That lines him up for a rough night under the punishing top game of Cormier, who can control position for as long as he desires when the striking is not going his way.

Take the Shot: Daniel Cormier via Unanimous Decision

Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera (BW)

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Sean O’Malley (12-0, 4-0 UFC) quickly became a hot prospect after a round one KO on the Contender Series, followed up by two incredibly entertaining decision victories, fighting with a broken leg in his match against Andre Soukhamthath, only to be put on the back burner with a USADA suspension. He came back better than ever, finishing Jose Quinonez in the first round at UFC 248 before continuing his journey to stardom with a walk off KO over Eddie Wineland. O’Malley is a rangy striker with surprising power for his skinny frame, only boosted by his spinning attacks and high amplitude shots. He has some nice submission skills off his back, but the ground game is definitely his weakest spot and prefers to pick apart his opponent with accuracy.

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Marlon Vera (17-6-1, 9-5 UFC) seems to be beloved by hardcore fans and it isn’t hard to see why. “Chito” has an amazing submission game along with heavy hands for the division that he showed over Saenz in his last match, dispatching the wrestler in around a minute and a half. Vera is a dangerous fighter to take on for anyone with his pressure and offensive capabilities. Every loss of his is in a decision and it has come when fighters are able to weather the storm and return fire at a higher rate. The biggest issue for Chito Vera for me is his gas tank, and although we didn’t get to see it in his last match, that has been an element of his game only getting better the more he fights.

I think that we are in for a fantastic brawl here. O’Malley presents a unique striking challenge with his massive frame for the division, coming in three inches taller than the usually large Marlon Vera. He does not use much to hide his power shots, throwing almost exclusively KO shots behind a series of feints and expert footwork. While Vera has great boxing and real power, his poor head movement and low hands leave his way too vulnerable to the power shots of O’Malley. Even though he has the edge on the mat, I think that O’Malley’s takedown defense and underrated jiu-jitsu skills off his back keep him safe should it even go there.

Take the Shot: Sean O’Malley via Unanimous Decision

Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (HW)

Since his lost championship shot against Stipe, Junior Dos Santos (21-7, 15-6 UFC) has been a man on a mission. He tore through Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa, and Derrick Lewis, but now finds himself on a two-fight losing streak with both coming by knockout. “Cigano” is an elite boxer still carrying the skills and power that has kept him at the top ranks of the Heavyweight division for many years. The former champion still has the superb footwork, speed, and striking diversity, but the fact remains that JDS’ last five losses have all come by knockout and his durability has now come into question.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1, 4-1 UFC) got out the gate quick in 2019 with four devastating KOs, two inside the first thirty seconds. A UFC 249 meeting with Francis Ngannou ended in tragedy, as fighting the Predator does for so many others (including JDS). “Bigi Boy” is a talented kickboxer who prefers to keep the fight standing and likely won’t have any argument from JDS on that account. Rozenstruik’s advantages often come from his power and speed, but he did show a lapse in defense against Overeem, both in his striking defense and limited offensive effort off of his back.

I think that this is a great test for both fighters, who have some unstable footing at the top of the Heavyweight division. JDS has some chin concerns after consecutive bettering from Ngannou and Blaydes, while Rozenstruik has serious issues in his striking defense. I think both fighters want to stand and strike, but Dos Santos has a clear technical advantage, both in striking technique, defense, and variability. Unless Rozenstruik can catch him with a power shot, I see him getting pieced up before JDS secures a late finish on the chin just cracked by Ngannou in May.

Take the Shot: Junior Dos Santos via Round 2 Knockout

John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili (BW)

Two-time Flyweight title challenger John Dodson (21-11, 10-6 UFC) righted the first losing streak of his career with a knockout victory over top prospect Nathaniel Wood. “The Magician” is an interesting puzzle, one that numerous fighters have struggled with, but certainly a solvable one. Dodson darts around the Octagon with his speed, utilizing top-notch striking defense to get off his shots and avoid those of his opponent, all to set up his power bomb of a left hand. Plus, he has decent wrestling in a pinch, as well as a fantastic takedown defense rate of eighty percent.

Merab Dvalishvili’s (11-4, 4-2 UFC) Octagon career started off with two controversial losses, but soon gave way to four straight wins, including dominant performances over TUF 27 winner Brad Katona and top prospect Casey Kenney. “The Machine” brings a relentless pace into the Octagon, chaining together precision takedowns and blitzing striking. Merab prioritizes the position to rain down ground and pound, effectively seeking to beat his opponent into submission.

There is no such thing as an quick or easy night at the office with Merab. Right off the bat, he attacks with spinning backfists and averages nearly nine takedowns per UFC fight. Dodson does have a clear advantage in the standup, especially when it comes to the striking speed, but Merab will have no issue keeping up with him using his bottomless gas tank. Even though Dodson has great wrestling defense, the pressure and aggression of Merab will be too much once Dodson is pressed up against the cage.

Take the Shot: Merab Dvalishvili via Unanimous Decision

Note: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba 2 has been postponed to Aug. 29th as Cutelaba tested positive for COVID-19.

I am truly so excited for this main card and feel like every single fight on here should be a lot closer than the odds have it. Except for our pick ’em main event, of course.

Take a look at the prelims picks as well and make sure to tune in for this terrific main card at 10 PM EST!

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