The UFC kicked off March with a red-hot PPV card last week, culminating in a Welterweight grudge match that earned Fight of the Night (controversially).
This weekend, we are back at the UFC Apex with a fourteen bout Fight Night card, headlined by a Light Heavyweight contest between Thiago Santos and Magomed Ankalaev. In the co-main event, wild strikers Marlon Moraes and Song Yadong duke in out in a ranked Bantamweight contest.
Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev (LHW)
In the infamous words of Joe Rogan, “You don’t get a hammer tattooed on your chest if you’re not serious”. Thiago Santos (22-9, 14-8 UFC) is a psychopath inside the cage. “Marreta,” which means sledgehammer, has power in everything he throws and comes in throwing hot from the very first bell. Santos started MMA with capoeira training, a Brazilian dance-fighting style that is populated by spinning kicks and the like. Very entertaining stuff. Santos uses those exact types of kicks to hammer (heh heh) home ruthless power shots and uses all sorts of kicks just as much as punches in order to get the job done. Freshly off a rough losing skid with a decision over Johnny Walker, Santos has competed against the best of the best, including scoring a knockout win over current champion Jan Blachowicz.
Russian sensation Magomed Ankalaev (16-1, 7-1 UFC) would almost be undefeated, but after a dominant showing against Paul Craig in his UFC debut, Ankalaev succumbed to a literal last-second submission attempt. Since then he has rattled off seven straight victories, with four of those being impressive knockouts. Ankalaev has great striking, boasting an incredible 62% striking defense rate and a fairly constant pressure, earning nine finishes including eight by knockout. On top of that, he has well-timed reversals and clinch skills, making it incredibly difficult to take him down to the mat. He has a Sambo background in his back pocket, carrying the tools to mix it up even if he is not finding success on the feet.
We have a fantastic clash here between a surging prospect and a dangerous veteran, and I feel as though the lopsided odds are disrespecting Santos’ chances. He is a furious knockout striker, with one punch power in both hands, and an aggression and volume that could prove dangerous to Ankalaev, should he leave himself open to be countered. With that being said, Ankalaev has been on a tear in the UFC, and even showed himself well in his lone professional defeat. His high striking defense rate and Sambo technique should keep him out of danger on the feet, while leaving him open to control Santos on the mat if striking does not go his way. After a hectic start, I see Ankalaev taking over down the stretch for a late knockout.
My Pick: Magomed Ankalaev via Knockout
Marlon Moraes vs. Song Yadong (BW)
THis bout is similar to the main event in that it pits a young gun against a tried and true Octagon vet. However, Marlon Moraes has been on a tough losing streak as of late, dropping his last three losses via knockout. While a dangerous striker, Moraes’ weaknesses in his chin and gas tank have been well exposed. Song Yadong is a talented up and comer fighting out of Team Alpha Male, and possesses a well-rounded game plan with no fear of swinging for the fences. I believe that this bout is a shoe-in for Fight of the Night, as neither fighter is opposed to swinging leather in the pocket. Expect a striking affair through the entire contest, with a strong Moraes start and Yadong taking over late for a close fight on the judges’ scorecards, if it lasts that long. However, I see Moraes closing the show early, as Yadong has a history of starting slow.
My Pick: Marlon Moraes via Knockout
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Alex Caceres (FTW)
My Pick: Sodiq Yusuff via Decision
Khalil Rountree vs. Karl Roberson (LHW)
My Pick: Karl Roberson via Submission
Drew Dober vs. Terrance McKinney (LW)
My Pick: Drew Dober via Knockout
Alex Pereira vs. Bruno Silva (MW)
My Pick: Alex Pereira via Knockout
The main card kicks off at 4 PM EST with an early start time, with eight prelims leading up to the main card!
Categories: UFC Predictions