(C) Stipe Miocic vs #1 Daniel Cormier
This is one of the best trilogies in the history of MMA on paper coming into the fight. Think about it, both have been heavyweight title fights, both of the first two fights ended by KO/TKO, and both guys are legitimately two of the best in their division’s history.
The smaller cage and wrestling prowess of Cormier is certainly an advantage, but make no mistake about it, Stipe can wrestle. He even has a takedown against DC.
DC has a lot of question marks for me, though. How will the yo-yo effect of his weight impact his performance? Will he be able to make the necessary adjustments in his gameplan to avoid the lethal bodyshots? He has been on record stating that he has addressed these issues, but we also haven’t gotten to the Father Time element.
Father Time is undefeated, and the 41-year-old DC has a lot of miles on his body. Yes, he has maintained his status at the top coming into the fight, but one thing that can be drawn from all sports is that when the age cliff comes, the fall is very steep. We will see if this is the case for Cormier on Saturday. Stipe, 37, is no spring chicken either.
This one is a coin toss. The younger legs and more physically fit champ gets it done. And still.
#10 Sean O’Malley vs Chito Vera
The Suga Show is for real, but the question is, how will the young phenom stack up against a tough, well-rounded veteran? O’Malley is lightning quick and precise with his striking. He also has a considerable reach advantage against Chito.
Chito is one of the most exciting bantamweights to watch because he brings it every single time. He’s won five of the last six, all by finish and has never been finished. His willingness to bang and high-level jiu-jitsu (blackbelt) make him easily the toughest test for O’Malley who is on the fast-track to a title shot.
If Chito played the safe game, he could probably ride out a decision by getting to the ground right away. However, that is not his style. He comes to throw the eff down and wants to put on a show. Because of his willingness to engage, I think this will put him in harm’s way against the much longer O’Malley. He will have to eat one on the way in just to get into range, the thing is, he will have to take the risk of one of those shots putting him on a highlight reel.
Pour some Suga on me. O’Malley by KO/TKO.
#5 Junior Dos Santos vs #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Former world champ Junior Dos Santos is the betting underdog coming into the fight. People must have forgot just how good of a boxer “Cigano” actually is. Yes, he has back-to-back losses, but they are to Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes.
Francis is next in line for a title shot, and Curtis has beat everyone not named Francis. So, there ya go. Also, JDS looks to be in phenomenal shape.
In the opposite corner, you have a one-shot one-kill type of dangerous fighter in Rozenstruik. His only loss was a 0:20 knockout to Francis, and he has stopped heavyweight fixtures such as Alistair Overeem and Andre Arlovski. Add 90 kickboxing fights into the mix and you’ve got a very dangerous fighter on the feet.
I’m going against the grain here and taking a chance on JDS.
#12 John Dodson vs #15 Merab Dvalishvili
I have a feeling that this may be an amazing fight for purists, but the potential for a grappling heavy fight might turn the casual fans off. Merab is a takedown monster, but they don’t call Dodson “The Magician” for nothing.
Dodson has a record that is not truly reflective of his level because he has truly fought some of the best the sport has had to offer, such as world champions Demetrious Johnson and Petr Yan. He will bounce all over the place and be hard for Merab to get a hand on.
The safe pick is a Merab decision. If you are feeling froggy, a Dodson finish is not out of the realm of possibility. Dare I say a flying knee finds its mark on one of those takedown attempts.
Jim Miller vs Vinc Pichel
Jim Miller is like the Cal Ripken Jr. of MMA. This dude has some serious names on his resume, and has turned the corner in his career ever since he has gotten his health taken care of. Miller recently got the better of Roosevelt Roberts, who is a common opponent that Vinc Pichel also found success against.
This one comes down to cage time and experience for me. I’m riding with Miller, and do not be surprised if he finds a submission.
Livinha Souza vs Ashley Yoder
The 13-2 Souza takes care of the 7-5 Yoder. The over is tasty since Yoder is tough to finish, but hammer the Souza moneyline.
Herbert Burns vs Daniel Pineda
Aside from Burns missing weight, I love this matchup. On one hand, you have the white-hot younger Burns brother bringing a 100% finishing rate in the UFC octagon, and on the other, you have a game veteran who has only gotten better with time. Because Burns missed weight, he is ineligible for a performance bonus. However, losing 30% of his purse for missing weight will likely add fuel to his fire.
Pineda will certainly be the toughest test of Burns’ career. Pineda is making his first appearance in the UFC since 2014, and has fought for multiple major promotions including Bellator and PFL. His return does not come without some controversy, though. The 35-year-old’s two fights in PFL were changed to No Contest after he failed a drug test for elevated testosterone levels in which he admitted fault to.
I like Burns in this one.
Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba
Felice Herrig makes her return after being sidelined with reconstructive knee surgery for nearly two years. Unfortunately for her, she has a brutal matchup with Brazilian killer Virna Jindiroba.
Jindiroba only has one career loss, and that loss is a widely disputed decision against Carla Esparza. One of the most dominant prospects in all of women’s MMA, Mallory Martin, also fell to Jindiroba in her UFC debut. This woman is for real, and if Felice is not ready, this will be Amanda Ribas vs Paige VanZant all over again.
You won’t make much money with such a heavy line favoriting Jandiroba, but it is likely the safest return of the evening to lock in.
TJ Brown vs Danny Chavez
“Downtown” TJ Brown looks to bounce back from a loss to Jordan Griffin last February with a win over UFC debutant Danny Chavez. Brown certainly favors the arm-triangle choke, as evidenced by the finish that punched his ticket to the UFC on the Contender Series.
Chavez has been choked out before, but he is also riding a three fight streak of flatlining dudes. If he can pull the muscled-up Brown into deep water and get him tired the way Jordan Griffin did, it will be a good night for Chavez.
Keep your eye on the over for this one. That might be the best play for this matchup.
Chris Daukaus vs Parker Porter
Daukaus vs. Porter is the first of multiple heavyweight fights on the card, and each of these fighters are making their promotional debut. We may see these big boys throwing heavyweight hammers right from the get go.
Neither of them likes to go to the cards, and they each have finishes by KO/TKO and submission. However, Parker Porter is one hundred and ten percent the more seasoned and experienced fighter. The 35-year-old Porter has fought a young Jon Jones in 2008 and also Gabriel Gonzaga in 2011. Though he lost both fights, he’s still got an experience edge over the 30-year-old Daukaus.
Porter’s well-rounded game finds a way.
Kai Kamaka vs Tony Kelley
Starting the night off, we get two UFC debutants squaring off against each other. Just two weeks ago, Kai Kamaka went to war with Michael Stack in what some people are calling the LFA fight of the year so far. Kamaka has a collegiate level wrestling base to pair with that Island scrapper mentality. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: those Hawaii boys can bang.
Tony Kelley has not fought since May of 2019, so the time off is definitely something that will likely play a role in the 33-year-old 5-1 Louisiana fighter’s performance.
Kamaka is 8 years younger and has stayed busy. Give me the “Fightin’ Hawaiian” in this one.
-Jordan Kurtz is a founding member of Comments From The Peanut Gallery and The MMA Plug and can be followed on Instagram at @CommentsFromThePeanutGallery and @TheMMAPlug303