UFC on ESPN 28 Main Card Predictions

The UFC will hold one final Fight Night card for the month of July this Saturday, July 31st, also known as UFC Vegas 33.

Though lacking a bit in terms of name value, this card is juiced to the gills with thirteen bouts at time of writing.

The main event is a Middleweight clash between the power-punching Uriah Hall and the always entertaining Sean Strickland, duking it out for a chance to move towards the stacked top five. In the co-main event, we have a ranked Heavyweight match as Shamil Abdurakhimov takes on the surging Chris Daukaus.

Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland (MW)

Top Finishes: Uriah Hall - YouTube

Uriah Hall (17-9, 10-7 UFC) came into UFC fans’ eyes with a lot of hype, stemming from his spinning hook kick KO on The Ultimate Fighter. He has since failed to replicate consistency inside the cage, but always brings thunderous knockout power and fight-changing ability. “Primetime” is now riding a four fight win streak, including three finishes by knockout. His last bout lasted just seventeen seconds, as Chris Weidman broke his leg when Hall checked one of his calf kicks. He has the type of one punch power that has resulted in fourteen knockout wins, but he can be outdone with volume and technique. Hall does have a very linear path to victory, but it’s a dangerous line for his opponents to tread. As such, his recent bout against Anderson Silva saw him struggle with his own output, though he did find the kill switch in the fourth round. 

Sean Strickland | UFC

A two-year layoff saw Sean Strickland (23-3, 10-3 UFC) return to score a one-sided decision over Jack Marshman, which he followed up with a second round knockout over Brendan Allen. His next bout against Krzysztof Jotko saw him extend his win streak to four with a one-sided decision victory. Strickland has a polished and well-rounded skillset, with thirteen finishes to his credit. His striking was most notable in his last bout, as his crisp jab and combination striking worked over the powerful Welshman. He has great wrestling skills as well, amassing an 81% takedown defense rate despite going up against certified killers like Kamaru Usman, Tom Breese, and Santiago Ponzinibbio. What stands out to me about “Tarzan” is his superb defense, cutting angles expertly and rarely leaving his chin able to be found and allowing few opportunities for his opponent to enter the pocket. Fourteen of his wins have come before the final bell, with ten by way of knockout.

Though this is deifnitely a close matchup, I find myself somewhat surprised that Strickland is not a larger favorite. That’s not to dismiss the threat of Hall – he is immensely powerful and has the explosiveness to find Strickland’s chin. However, it’s pretty much a knockout or bust for him. Strickland has the technical edge on the feet and the mat, and puts out a higher volume as well. He can stick and move, picking apart Hall until a late finish.

My Pick: Sean Strickland via Knockout

Kyung Ho Kang vs. Rani Yahya (BW)

Kyung Ho Kang (17-8, 6-2 UFC) is on a three fight win streak, coming off a split decision over Pingyuan Liu back in December of 2019. He has become a sort of litmus test for the Bantamweights as to whether you can truly compete with the big boys. “Mr. Perfect” is a dangerous wrestler, complete with the submissions to match. He is a hard fighter to take out striking, as he moves in and out well, along with picking the right shots to get in close. Once he has a hold of you, the fighter is pretty much over, as he can isolate the position then look for a finish from there. His striking is aggressive and Kang is always down for a brawl, but lacks in terms of his defense.

Despite nearing his thirty seventh birthday, Rani Yahya (27-10-1, 8-3-1 UFC) is just as dangerous as ever, with just one loss in his last six fights. He is coming off of a submission victory over Ray Rodriguez, where he closed the show with an arm triangle choke in the second round. Yahya is a longtime veteran, competing for years in the UFC and WEC. He has shown his high level jiu jitsu skills many times, with all twenty one finishes coming by submission. His standup is serviceable, but Yahya always seeks to get the fight to the mat.

This a fun clash of two grapplers, who will bring the excitement from bell to bell. Kang is on a nice win streak right now, and brings the more well-rounded style in. On the other hand, Yahya is an extremely high level grappler who can quickly end the fight with just a few seconds on the ground. However, I like the defensive wrestling and submission defense to keep him out of harm’s way there, as he can keep himself in top position with a higher takedown defense and accuracy. His superior volume will make the difference on the feet, winning him a close decision.

My Pick: Kyung Ho Kang via Decision

Gloria de Paula vs. Cheyanne Buys (SW)

An aggressive striking performance on the Contender Series, where she won a dominant decision over Pauline Macias, brought Gloria de Paula (5-3, 0-1 UFC) to the UFC. Her first bout in the promotion did not go her way, as she lost a decision to Jinh You Frey. “Glorinha” is a forward pressure fighter who loves to stay on the feet and bang it out. She brings in a good striking diversity, but does good work with her quick hand speed. All three of her stoppages have come by knockout. Though she sports great takedown defense, De Paula is often overwhelmed when secured on the mat.

Cheyanne Buys (5-2, 0-1 UFC) made her way into the UFC after a dominant decision win on the Contender Series netted her a contract. Short notice replacement Montserrat Ruiz proved too much, outworking Buys for a unanimous decision win on the scorecards. “The Warrior Princess” does her best work striking, working well at range and keeping a fantastic striking defense that saw her nearly triple her opponent in significant strikes on DWCS. Though she has just one finish in her pro career, Buys is no slouch off her back with competent defensive jiu-jitsu, but has stout takedown defense to keep it on the feet. She works well from all areas, but is best when she can use her output and pacing to chip away at her opponent from kickboxing range.

This should be a nonstop scrap on the feet, with both fighters bringing the action striking. De Paula is a constant source of pressure and volume, and will find success if she is able to consistently enter the pocket. On the other hand, Buys has the higher technical striking and mixes up her attacks more. On top of that, she is the more likely of the pair to bring the fight to the mat, if needed. A competitive fight on the feet sees Buys’ hand raised due to superior volume and damage.

My Pick: Cheyanne Buys via Decision

Niklas Stolze vs. Jared Gooden (WW)

My Pick: Niklas Stolze via Decision

Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev (FLW)

My Pick: Ryan Benoit via Decision

Bryan Barbarena vs. Jason Witt (WW)

My Pick: Bryan Barbarena via Knockout

Before the main card kicks off at 9 PM on the East Coast, the prelims get going at 6 PM with nine scheduled bouts!

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