By Christopher Carpenter
The wait is finally over as the heated middleweight title bout between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa is finally here. The fight has been a year in the making since Adesanya won the title and paired with the fight is a solid main card and prelims, so here are my predictions for the first half of the card.
Early Prelim Predictions:
Khadis Ibragimov vs Danilo Marques
My Pick: Marques by TKO
Jeff Hughes vs Juan Espino
My Pick: Espino by Submission
Featured Prelim Predictions
William Knight vs Aleksa Camur
Opening the featured prelims is a light-heavyweight showdown between the debuting William Knight and his opponent Aleksa Camur (1-0 UFC). Both of these fighters earned their way into the UFC through the contender series, which has become quite common recently. Knight competed on the contender series three weeks ago and is making a quick turnaround into the UFC. In this performance, Knight started out slow but was able to stuff a takedown attempt and proceeded to knockout his opponent with elbows. He might not have this same luxury against Camur if he starts out slow again. Camur currently has an undefeated professional record and has demonstrated a high striking output with nearly six significant strikes landed per minute. If Camur can stay out of Knight’s range and avoid clinch situations, I see him winning this fight.
My Pick: Camur by decision
Shane Young vs L’udovit Klein
The fourth fight of the night will be a featherweight bout featuring Shane Young (2-1 UFC) and L’udovit Klein (UFC debut). Klein is a boxer fighting out of Slovakia and he is currently one of Eastern Europe’s top regional prospects. His opponent, Young, fights out of the prestigious gym City Kickboxing located in New Zealand. This fight is more than likely to be a striking battle, and both of these fighters have the credentials to make it exciting, with several knockouts on each of their records. Young has faced strong competition and ironically his last loss in the UFC was to his current teammate and featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski. It’s hard to know if Klein has the same experience, never having fought in a major promotion only in regional European circuits. Given this information and the striking ability Young has shown, I believe that he will win this fight.
My Pick: Young by decision
Diego Sanchez vs Jake Matthews
The second to last prelim is a welterweight bout between veteran Jake Matthews (9-4 UFC) and the first Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez (19-11 UFC). Both of these fighters are veterans of the sport and have been competing in the UFC for many years now. Not too long ago, Diego Sanchez was a title challenger in multiple weight classes and a top contender; however, he appears to be far from the fighter he once was and has made questionable career choices with his new coach. His opponent, Matthews while having fought 13 times in the UFC is only 26 years old and a win over a legend like Diego would definitely strengthen his resumé. In Matthews last fight, he showed solid striking ability and mixed in takedowns to secure the victory. Diego has never had the best striking defense and in his last fight was being significantly out struck. Unless Diego has improved his defense in the past couple of months, I don’t see this fight working out well for him and believe Matthews has the tools to secure a victory.
My Pick: Matthews by Decision.
Brad Riddell vs Alex da Silva
Closing out the Prelims is a lightweight matchup between Brad Riddell (2-0 UFC) and Alex da Silva (1-1 UFC). Brad Riddell is another pupil of City Kickboxing and he also trains Muay Thai in Thailand, so he is a talented striker to say the least. Da Silva is a boxer with strong grappling abilities boasting thirteen career knockouts and seven career submissions. When dissecting this fight, I think that Riddell will have the striking advantage while da Silva will have the grappling and clinch advantage. It’s hard to be sure of which position this fight will primarily take place, but if I had to guess I would say striking. Fighters out of City Kickboxing have proven that they have solid anti-wrestling in order to keep the fight on standing. Both fighters have power in their hands so this could turn into a brawl, but I believe that Riddell mainly has the advantage in this fight.
My Pick: Riddell by Decision.
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