After a massive Pay-Per-View card in Singapore last weekend, the UFC gets back to action stateside with UFC Austin!
In the main event, Featherweight strikers Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett battle it out to throw their name into title contention, while Cowboy Cerrone and Joe Lauzon face off in a fan-favorite fight for the ages!
Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett (FTW)
Calvin Kattar (23-5, 7-3 UFC) lost a tough decision to Max Holloway, but bounced back nicely in his reappearance, outworking Giga Chikadze over five rounds. Kattar is primarily a boxer with some nice power and a stifling jab. He can fight well off of his front foot or back foot and can use or avoid pressure very well, often shifting his pressure and movement to throw off his opponent. The weak spot in Kattar’s game is on the ground, but he can get back to his feet quickly and is difficult to hold down, giving him the perfect ability to keep the fight on the feet. On the feet, he has shown lapses in his leg kick defense and volume but has some of the most technical hands in the sport.
Team Alpha Male staple Josh Emmett (15-2, 6-2 UFC) is on a terrific run towards the title, winning his last four fights. Most impressive on this run are his show-stopping knockouts against Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige, along with his three-round firefight with Shane Burgos. Emmett offers a heavy movement striking style with good footwork, choosing to commit on a few select shots. When Emmett commits, he really commits and often delivers another highlight reel knockout, with six career KOs to his name. He also boasts a high level wrestling game to lean upon and has intense strength in clinch and ground exchanges. There are questions about Emmett’s cardio, especially if he is extended to the champion rounds here.
We have excellent matchmaking on display here, with two powerful strikers matched up with title contention on the line. Among the two, Kattar is the more technical striker and certainly keeps a higher volume. However, Emmett holds fight changing power in both hands and also delivers powerful low kicks. While Emmett is the more likely to try and bring the fight to the mat, Kattar’s defense is sound enough to keep the fight standing, meaning we likely have an entirely striking affair on our hands. Emmett’s main path to victory is landing a bomb and closing the show, as the volume and pace of Kattar will take over if the bout goes to the scorecards. Kattar has displayed inhuman toughness in his UFC run, constantly able to push back in a firefight. In addition, Emmett’s gas tank presents a hole where Kattar’s cardio and pace will show itself, resulting in a late knockout or decision win.
My Pick: Calvin Kattar via Knockout
Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon (LW)
Fan-favorite Donald Cerrone (36-16, 24-13 UFC) will be saddling up for one last ride here, looking to add one last highlight to his reel. Cowboy is winless in his last six Octagon contests, with four losses coming via knockout. He has not competed in almost a year to the day. He holds the record for most Octagon fights, with almost all of those bouts coming via stoppage. He has twenty-seven career finishes to his name, with seventeen coming by way of submission. Cowboy is a slick Muay Thai striker with clean combinations and quick kicks, though his durability can be questioned, especially at this stage in his career.
Joe Lauzon (28-15, 15-12 UFC) returned from a rumored retirement in late 2019, picking up a first-round TKO over Jonathan Pearce. He has not competed since, and despite his retirement, he is two years the junior of Cerrone. Lauzon has competed in the UFC since 2006 and competed in the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. His finishing rate speaks for itself, closing the show in all but two victories with nineteen submissions among them. “J-Lau” is a quick starter and is dangerous no matter where the fight goes.
Both veterans here are battle-tested and game, perhaps too much so, and it will show out in an incredible fight, more than likely. When looking at recent form, it is hard to not favor Lauzon, however, he holds less than 90 seconds of cage time in the last four years, a factor that will inevitably show itself should the fight go longer. Cerrone holds the higher level of competition, and his striking advantage will become evident the longer the fight goes on, resulting in a late knockout or decision.
My Pick: Donald Cerrone via Decision
Tim Means vs. Kevin Holland (WW)
Tim Means (31-12-1, 14-9 UFC) made his first UFC appearance back in 2012 and has cemented himself as a veteran in the process, though he has failed to string together a meaningful win streak. He is currently coming off of three straight wins, all unanimous decisions over Nicolas Dalby, Mike Perry and Laureano Staropoli.“The Dirty Bird” is an entertaining Muay Thai striking who throws a variety of strikes from a number of odd positions. He also brings in underrated grappling ability, holding five of his 24 finishes in submission. His love for the brawl has become somewhat of a detriment in recent years, as his chin has showed durability concerns. Recent efforts have showed a more patient and technical regard for defense, yet the same killer instinct.
Kevin Holland (22-7, 9-4 UFC) igot his first main event showing opposite Derek Brunson after a stellar run in 2020 that saw him capture five straight wins. Holland scored four straight wins in the calendar year, most recently scoring a knockout win over Jacare Souza from his back to earn himself the title of Breakout Fighter of the Year. He suffered two decision losses to Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori, where he was overwhelmed on the mat in both outings. A move to Welterweight has proved fruitful, claiming a knockout win over Alex Oliveira. “Trailblazer” has slick Kung Fu based striking, using tight combinations as well as accuracy and power to finish ten of his opponents by knockout, while also using defensive submissions to finish the fight or keep it standing. He proved his skill as a BJJ artist in that match with GM3 by going toe-to-toe with the black belt all the way to a victorious decision, although his mediocre defensive wrestling and ability to be controlled remain a clear weakness.
Kevin Holland is a monster at Welterweight, and his recent wrestling improvements make him all the more frightening for the division. His size, precision, and power make him a constant danger on the feet, with slick grappling skills to boot. Means is a game veteran and while he isn’t completely outgunned here, I see Holland taking home all the key advantages in this bout. Expect Hiolland to pick up another finish to continue his run at 170 pounds.
My Pick: Kevin Holland via Knockout
Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev (MW)
Joaquin Buckley (14-4, 4-2 UFC) excited the masses with his 2020 Knockout of the Year against Impa Kasanganay. He is 3-1 since, most recently claiming a split decision over Abdul Razak Alhassen. “New Mansa” is an explosive striker who mixes up his weapons well, with damaging hooks and leg kicks. He holds ten wins by knockout, and sipalyed improved wrestling offense in his last bout. Albert Duraev (15-3, 1-0 UFC) earned a contract through the Contender Series, where he scored a first round submission over Caio Bittencourt. He has a dominant top game on the mat, with technical striking on the feet. “Machete” has twelve stoppages to his name, with nine coming by way of submission.
I’m expecting a fun fight here, as each fighter has the skillset to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. Buckley’s explosive assault could find the chin of Duraev, and the American is the more technical striker, in my opinion. However, Duraev is a monster on the mat, and Buckley has shown issues with his takedown defense. Unless Buckley can reliably keep the fight on the feet, I see Duraev taking home his first UFC finish on the mat.
My Pick: Albert Duraev via Submission
Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze (LW)
Two highly underrated prospects will face off in the Lightweight division, with a likely shot at the rankings for the winner.
Undefeated in the UFC, Damir Ismagulov (23-1, 4-0 UFC) has faced his toughest opposition through injury, barring nim from competition for nearly two years after putting together a three-fight win streak in the Octagon. He returned to claim a decision victory over Rafael Alves last May, utilizing his dominant ground attack. The M-1 Lightweight champion before coming to the UFC, Ismagulov has thirteen stoppages, with all but one via knockout. Guram Kutateladze (12-2, 1-0 UFC) impressed in his UFC debut, beating Mateusz Gamrot in a Fight of the Night brawl. An elite Mjay Thai striker, Kutateladze trains at AllStars gym with the likes of Khamzat CHimaev and Alexander Gustaffson, and displayed excellent defensive wrestling in his debut. He has seven wins by knockout with an excellent frame for the division.
This is a clash of prospects who I both expect to end up in the rankings before too long, and it’s hard to pick a winner. Ismagulov has been nothing but dominant on the mat, but Kutateladze has shown his scrambling skills, meaning Ismagulov’s striking will certainly be tested. Ismagulov is certainly technical with his striking, but Guram is on another level. Expect a high octane back and forth in this fight, and I like Kutateladze to get the nod with superior striking damage.
My Pick: Guram Kutateladze via Decision
Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues (MW)
A fireworks Middleweight bout opens our main card, and with these fighters, we are unlikely to see the scorecards!
Julian Marquez has proven his offensive power and slick groundwork, along with the volume and cardio to win on the scorecards. However, Rodrigues is a killer on the mat, with violent one-punch power in both hands. Marquez has the ability to land clean offense, but his defense poses serious holes. Rodrigues will have the grappling advantage to take this fight wherever he wants, and I see him wrapping up a submission to kick off the card.
My Pick: Gregory Rodrigues via Submission
The card kicks off at 4 PM EST, so tune into ESPN+ for all the action!
Categories: UFC Predictions