After a week without any UFC action, the premier MMA organization returns to business with a packed Fight Night card!
IN the main event, top ten Heavyweights go at it, as Alexander Volkov takes on the explosive Jairzinho Rozenstruik. In the co-main event, Dan Ige faces off with Movsar Evloev in a ranked Featherweight contest.
Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (HW)
Alexander Volkov (34-10, 8-4 UFC) made himself a staple at the top of the Heavyweight division with two straight knockout victories over Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris, both in the second round. That set him up for a London showdown with Tom Aspinall, who dispatched the Russian in the first round with an Americana armlock. Volkov is a tactical, lanky striker who uses his 6’7″ length to establish range and pick apart his opponent from his kickboxing range where they cannot hit him back. Although susceptible to counters inside the pocket, as Derrick Lewis showed in his highlight reel performance, “Drago” can outstrike pretty much any fighter on the roster with his incessant volume. Volkov holds twenty-three career knockouts, with a variety of punches, kicks, and knees closing the show. Despite having a trio of submissions to his name and surprisingly adept wrestling, Volkov uses his defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing, where he almost always holds the technical advantage.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3, 6-3 UFC) quickly made a name for himself in the UFC after joining the promotion in 2019, scoring four stunning knockouts in the calendar year. A UFC 249 meeting with Francis Ngannou ended in tragedy, but he rebounded by another knockout victory over Junior Dos Santos last August. He lost a decision to Cyril Gane, but rebounded with another ferocious knockout over Augusto Sakai before running into Curtis Blaydes at UFC 266, who outlasted him over fifteen minutes. “Bigi Boy” is a former kickboxer who prefers to keep the fight standing, not yet attempting a single takedown in the UFC to date. He primarily does his work with his hands and snapping leg kicks, primarily headhunting as he has the KO power to end the fight at any second. Rozenstruik’s advantages often come from his power and speed, but he has shown lapses in defense on both the feet and the mat, particularly when put on the back foot.
We are almost assuredly in store for an all-out stand-up battle here in our main event, though each fighter presents a unique striking style. Volkov presents a technical and precise gameplan, as consistent with his volume as his cardio, and employs a number of weapons. Rozenstruik, a talented kickboxer in his own right, is more of a power puncher. Indeed, the knock on him has been that while he has fight-changing power in every strike, his volume can be too lackluster to take full advantage. I see the cardio and volume being too much for Bigi Boy to handle, with Volkov whittling him down with straight shots and pressure to a late knockout.
My Pick: Alexander Volkov via Knockout
Dan Ige vs. Movsar Evloev (FTW)
Dan Ige (15-5, 7-4 UFC) made a massive statement in his fight with Gavin Tucker, knocking out the Canadian in just twenty two seconds. He has since dropped back-to-back decisions to Korean Zombie and Josh Emmett, though he displayed his skills quite well, particularly his toughness. He has steadily climbed the competition ladder, riding a six-fight win streak prior to his defeat to Calvin Kattar. “50K” has nine career finishes with five of those coming by way of submission. He has proven his aggressive striking ability and likes to surge into the pocket to exchange strikes, as well as having some clean and very dangerous hooks. Ige brings a high-paced pressure style when striking and when on the mat, averaging 1.35 takedowns per fifteen minutes inside the Octagon. He is extremely well-rounded and has the cardio and fight IQ to back that up, making him a constant and versatile threat.
Movsar Evloev (15-0, 5-0 UFC) has proved his prospect status in the UFC, scoring five straight wins in just over two years. Evloev is a multi-faceted fighter with crisp striking, as well as holding a Master of Sport in Greco-Roman wrestling. While he has not yet scored his first UFC finish, he holds seven finishes on his resume, with four coming in by way of submission. Training out of Tiger Muay Thai, Evloev has a diverse and technical striking attack with some good clip in his punches as well. On the mat, Evloev is capable of incredible scrambles and has a quick submission game to bolster his wrestling. Though he has shown some issues with his cardio, his most recent fight against Hakeem Dawodu showed an improved gas tank and patience, as well as impressive fight IQ.
Both fighters in this contest are well-rounded, but Evloev presents the sort of stylistic challenge for Ige that could pose serious problems, resulting in the lopsided betting odds. Ige finds success with his hooks and brawling nature in the pocket, but can be tagged at range, especially by longer opposition. That said, I believe this is a close fight on the fight, and I think Ige edges it with his cardio. However, this is an MMA fight, and the wrestling attack of Evloev looks tailor-made to dominate Ige from top position. While I expect Evloev to have a one-sided performance on the mat, the toughness of Ige will keep him in the fight until the final bell.
My Pick: Movsar Evloev via Decision
Mike Trizano vs. Lucas Almeida (FTW)
I am pleasantly surprised to see this notched into the main card, as both of these competitors have the skills to make their mark in the UFC.
Winning the 27th Season of the Ultimate Fighter with a win over Joe Giannetti, Mike Trizano (9-2, 3-2 UFC) scored a split win over Luis Pena before running into Grant Dawson, who submitted “The Lone Wolf” in the second round. He returned after two years away to win a decision over L’udovit Klein, before dropping a decision to Hakeem Dawodu in his last outing. Trizano is incredibly well-rounded, with technical striking and slick top control on the mat. If the name Lucas Almeida (13-1) looks familiar, it is likely because he was seen on the most recent season of the Contender Series. Though he lost a decision in an absolute war, he impressed Dana White enough to have his name at the top of the heat for prospects outside the UFC. Sure enough, he picked up a first round guillotine choke in his last bout, and received the UFC contract shortly thereafter. Almeida is an incredibly entertaining fighter with the skills to mix it up on the feet or the mat. He has never been to a decision in victory, eight of those stoppages coming via knockout.
We have a scrap on our hands here, as either fighter can succeed on the feet or the mat. Trizano mixes up his striking well, and fights behind a crisp jab. However, he can be caught inside the pocket or when he isn’t allowed to dictate the range of the fight. Almeida has a real clip in his strikes, and works at a crazy pace, with the cardio to go all day. Trizano is the more capable wrestler of the two, but there is a clear grappling advantage for Almeida, and I see his defensive submissions posing a real struggle for Trizano if he looks for takedowns. I expect Almeida to find success on the feet through Trizano’s defensive lapses, and latch onto his neck when he shoots for an ill-advised takedown.
My Pick: Lucas Almeida via Submission
Karine Silva vs. Poliana Botelho (FLW)
Karine Silva (14-4) punched her ticket to the big show with a second-round submission on the Contender Series in her last fight. “Killer” lives and dies by the sword, only seeing the judges’ scorecards once in her pro career, and not even once in victory. Her finishes are split 8/6 between knockouts and submissions, and she is dangerous from top position or off of her back. Poliana Botelho (8-4, 3-3 UFC) is no stranger to the finish, either, holding six wins by knockout. She has been in the cage with fighters like Gillian Robertson and Cynthia Calvillo, and impressed with a body kick finish over Syuri Kondo. She has lost her last two bouts, most recently a decision to Luana Carolina.
I am expecting a high paced striking affair in this bout, as neither fighter minds swinging on the feet. Silva is the more well-rounded fighter, and I see her winning a fun fight with volume and ground work on the scorecards.
My Pick: Karine Silva via Decision
Ode’ Osbourne vs. Zarrukh Adashev (FLW)
After a finish on the Contender Series that saw him awarded a contract, Ode’ Osbourne (10-4, 2-2 UFC) stumbled out the gate opposite Brian Kelleher. Down at his natural weight class of 125 pounds, he stopped Jerome Rivera in under 30 seconds. He suffered a first-round knockout to Manel Kape, but turned down a late surge from CJ Vergara to extend his UFC record to .500. Osbourne is a diverse offensive threat with eight finishes including five submissions, and a rangy striking assault with a number of weapons. Zarrukh Adashev (4-3, 1-2 UFC) came to the Octagon with an extensive kickboxing background but was met by a brutal knockout and one-sided decision defeat. He came up with his back against the wall, winning a decision over Ryan Benoit. Adashev is a striking specialist through and through, with quick pocket striking and snapping low kicks.
I expect a high-paced affair in this one, and I do not expect it to see the judges’ scorecards. Adashev is an accomplished kickboxer but struggles up against rangier opposition, a category which Osbourne most definitely fits into. In addition to that, Osbourne is the most aggressive on the mat, although Adashev does sport solid takedown defense. I expect the range and striking differential of Osbourne to be too much for Adashev on the feet, and see Osbourne rocking him before closing the show with his slick submission skills.
My Pick: Ode’ Osbourne via Submission
Alonzo Menifield vs. Askar Mozharov (LHW)
This is a clash of aggressive finishers unlikely to see the final bell.
Alonzo Menifield (11-3, 4-3 UFC) impressed with two showings on the Contender Series, including an eight second demolition of Dashawn Boatwright. He started 2-2 in the Octagon and turned it around with two straight wins, including his third career submission over Fabio Cherant, though he lost a unanimous decision in his last outing to William Knight. Menifield is an explosive striker with high accuracy and slick defense, though his cardio has been a concern. Making his UFC debut here is Askar Mozharov (21-11), hailing from the Eastern European regional circuit. Mozharov has found himself in some controversy this week over some incorrectly reported fight results, but he is certainly a fun fighter who lives and dies by the sword. In fact, “No Mercy” has seen the scorecards just twice in his 32-fight pro career, and never in defeat. He has thirteen stoppages via knockout, and is always a fast starter.
While Mozharov may look deadly on paper, his wins have all come over low level opposition, and he has been quickly finished whenever matched up with elite competition. Menifield has more offensive power, athleticism, and a MASSIVE leg up in his level of competition. I see a firefight in the first round before Menifield shuts the lights out.
My Pick: Alonzo Menifield via Knockout
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz 2 (SW)
Note: This bout was originally slated for the main card, but was moved to the prelims. Since I already had it written, enjoy the extra pick!
Opening the main card is a fun clash of veterans in the Strawweight division, both looking to get off their losing skid and secure their spot in the premier MMA promotion.
Felice Herrig (14-9, 5-4 UFC) has not seen victory since 2017 when she won a split decision over Cortney Casey. The TUF Season 20 vet has not competed in almost two years since she was submitted by Virna Jandiroba. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-7, 5-7 UFC) last claimed victory with a close decision over Herrig but lost her next five bouts. She was last seen last August, being submitted in the first round by Jessica Penne. Though Kowalkiewicz has been the more active party and emerged victorious in the first meeting, I am liking Herrig here. While more than capable in terms of offensive output, Kowalkiewicz’s defense has looked worse and worse in recent outings, on both the feet and the mat. Unless Herrig allows the Pole to dictate the range, she will mix in top control with pocket striking for a tense decision win.
My Pick: Felice Herrig via Decision
With a grand total of fourteen bouts set for the main card, this is shaping into a hot Fight Night.
Tune into our home page on Saturday for live results and scoring.
Categories: UFC Predictions
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