Light-Heavyweight: Dustin Jacoby vs. Maxim Grishin
This is an interesting matchup in light-heavyweight division. Maxim Grishin is an experienced mixed martial artist who relies on his counter striking and overall well-rounded game. With 40 fights under his belt, Grishin has probably seen it all, which is a strength for him and a conundrum for Jacoby. Dustin Jacoby normally has the edge in the experience due to his forays into other combat sports like boxing and Glory kickboxing, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against a more experienced athlete like Grishin. Both athletes rely heavily on their kickboxing, but Jacoby is more active with his footwork and output, switching stances and generally picking at his opponents. As stated earlier, Grishin will be looking to hang back and counter.
The grappling front is where this gets even more interesting. Grishin is able to wrestle and is especially good against the fence, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn to his grappling if Jacoby starts to gain success on the feet. That said, Jacoby showed some really great takedown defense in his Contender Series bout against Ty Flores. Grishin is able to mix in his grappling a bit better than Flores, but it’s something to take note of.
Pick: Dustin Jacoby.
Bantamweight: Ronnie Lawrence vs. Vince Cachero
A matchup between two bantamweight prospects represents classic UFC matchmaking for the debuting Ronnie Lawrence. Typically the UFC will match up a debuting fighter with an undercard fighter coming off a loss (i.e. Vince Cachero). I’m pretty interested in this one considering how great Ronnie Lawrence looked in his Contender Series fight against Jose Johnson. In that bout he overcame his underdog status through a high-pace, heavy grappling approach which nullified the superior striking of Johnson. I predict he will use a similar strategy against Cachero, who likes to strike and likes to move forward at an almost constant pace. Cachero is typically flat-footed in his approach, but this allows him to carry more power into his strikes.
In the striking department things get a little more interesting, but I feel they still fall in favor of Lawrence due to his fantastic kicks. Cachero needs to move to the inside in order to be successful with his boxing, which should be a little better than Lawrence’s. That said, I think the active kicks of Lawrence will be able to pick away at Cachero from distance, and Lawrence’s wrestling will come through when Cachero pushes into the inside.
Pick: Ronnie Lawrence.
Bantamweight: Alexis Davis vs. Sabina Mazo
Sabina Mazo looks to take her career to the next level with a win over MMA veteran and former title challenger Alexis Davis. The tides of momentum hang over this bout with Mazo coming off of three straight wins and Davis coming off of 3 straight losses. While the positive and negative momentum of both respective athletes seems to make this a pretty clear prediction, I think the MMA veteranship of Davis should prove an interesting test for the surging Mazo. Davis is super durable, and has seen a variety of styles in her almost 30-fight career. She is good at finding success in the inbetween areas of the fight with weapons like elbows and hooks on clinch disconnects. Mazo will have to stay on her bike and work her long strikes in order to avoid the grappling of Davis. Good thing for Mazo is that a bout like this seems to be her specialty. She has great volume with her hands and good kicks that are able to put most competition to sleep (check her LFA bouts). While I think this probably goes the distance, I think Mazo will pass this test, but it will be close.
Pick: Sabina Mazo.
Welterweight: Alex Oliveira vs. Ramazan Kuramagomedov
After Randy Brown withdrew from his scheduled bout with Alex Oliveira, undefeated prospect Ramazan Kuramagomedov signed the dotted line to fill in. Kuramagomedov is 8-0 and making his UFC debut against a seasoned UFC veteran in Oliveira. For Kuramagomedov, he will need to get it down to the floor, but even there he will not be totally secure due to Oliveira’s attacking ground game. On the feet, Oliveira is a risk taker and pretty unpredictable due to his willingness to throw himself into the fire, secure in his power. Kuramagomedov will have to contend with Oliveira’s strong kicks and looping hooks. If he can withstand the aggressive attack of Oliveira, Kuramagomedov might be able to wear down Oliveira who has struggled with his conditioning when heavy grappling takes place. All that said, I think Oliveira is too much of a step up in competition for the debuting Kuramagomedov.
Pick: Alex Oliveira.
Strawweight: Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder
This is a rematch of a bout that took place so long ago that Brian Stann was still doing commentary (as a side note: He was fantastic.). Yoder and Hill signed up for this contest on a week’s notice, so props to them for stepping up and staying ready. Both women have made marked improvements since their first meeting, but I’m not sure there has been enough of a change on the side of Yoder to make it much more competitive for her. For the record, the first meeting was pretty dang competitive with Yoder finding takedowns, but unable to secure them long enough to stop the striking onslaught from Hill. While Hill is on a two-fight losing skid (both via split decision), her competition has been more difficult than Yoder’s, but Yoder is 1-2 in her last three. I think that while this bout will showcase the best of both athletes, Hill will come out on top.
Pick: Angela Hill.
Lightweight: Alexander Hernandez vs. Thiago Moises
Yet again, the UFC brings us some sick matchmaking in the form of two lightweight prospects. Both have been in the UFC for a little while and each have had their ups and downs in the promotion. In terms of UFC experience, Hernandez has the edge by only one fight, but has faced arguably tougher competition than Moises. While each fighter is competent in all areas, this is essentially a striker vs. grappler match. Moises is a specialist, looking for any opportunity to take the fight to the floor. Check out the second round of his bout against Michael Johnson to see how quickly Moises can get things done when he wants to. Hernandez is a quick and powerful striker with decent wrestling, but he has been known to struggle when his back is to the floor. Moises’ developing striking game, on display in his decision win over Bobby Green, may still be a little too little when he faces off against Hernandez. While I think Hernandez may struggle with the ground game of Moises, I side with him in this one.
Pick: Alexander Hernandez.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights!
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