Hello everyone! Tom here, and tomorrow is the day that UFC fans have been waiting for – UFC 259. We have a stacked card and it all culminates in three title fights. This doesn’t happen too often so I know I’m getting loads of snacks in for this one.
Let’s start with some fights I’m looking forward to before the championship bouts. Although saying that, some of these prelims could have made it on a Fight Night main card.
Sean Brady vs Jake Matthews. Early Prelim
Coming into this bout, Sean Brady is undefeated at 13-0 and is coming off a ‘Performance of the Night’ fight in August.
Whereas Jake Matthews is on a three fight win streak and most recently beat the UFC legend of 16 years, Diego Sanchez.
Before I make a prediction I must point out that Sean Brady’s last opponent was called Christian Aguilera so we know he likes to get ‘Dirrty’ in the cage…
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Moving on.
Prediction: Sean Brady wins via a Submission, in Round 3
Tim Elliott vs Jordan Espinosa. Early Prelim
Tim Elliott is a well known fighter, whether that’s from his first UFC stint or from when he returned to the UFC after his win on the TUF TV show. Surprisingly he didn’t get cut from the UFC again following a three fight losing streak, he bought it back with a win in the summer. But will he continue to win? Or is he on his way out?
His opponent Jordan Espinosa came from TUF’s Contender Series and is currently 2-3 inside the octagon. Before his first UFC fight he was 10-3 with one no contest, but his form seems to have declined since joining the organisation.
Prediction: Espinosa, wins via Unanimous Decision.
Roderigo Bontorin vs Kai Kara France. Prelim
Roderigo Bontorin comes from the Brazilian version of DWCS and has had a few fights in the UFC prior to this fight. He’s amassed a respectable MMA record of 15-2 and one no contest, with the second loss coming from his last bout. He’ll be looking to bring his submission game to this bout.
Kai Kara France is another member of the TUF alumni and was in the same season as Tim Elliott. Unfortunately for Kai he’s had a bumpy ride in the UFC, but having one of his training partners in Adesanya headlining the event may motivate him.
Prediction: Bontorin wins via a Submission in Round 1
Joseph Benavidez vs Askar Askarov. Prelim
With Jose Benavidez we have another UFC vet with 10 years experience. Despite the experience I feel Benavidez is on the tail end of his career and had two brutal losses last year. A loss here could make Benavidez think more about a potential retirement.
His opponent Askar Askarov is currently unbeaten with a 12-0-1 record. Askar never had a fight go to the judges until he entered the UFC and I expect him to go back to his old ways with this fight.
Prediction: Askarov wins via a Submission in Round 2
Dominick Cruz vs Casey Kenney. Prelim
Cruz is back again for his second fight after his three and a half year hiatus from the cage due to injuries. Cruz is a funny character within the UFC and his wit has helped him get in his opponents heads before the fight even starts. I’d love to see Cruz fighting more if he wins, but injury has heavily hindered him for a long time.
Casey Kenney on the other hand has a 5-1 record in the UFC, with all but one win going to a decision. He’s already shown he’s strong on both the ground and in a stand up fight. Beating Cruz would put another feather in his cap and will help with the trajectory of his career.
Prediction: Kenney wins via a Unanimous Decision
Ok it’s main card time, this is what you are all waiting for! I don’t doubt this card will be worth the PPV buy, I mean how could this disappoint? But let’s not jinx it and take a quick peek at the first two fights on the card before we get stuck into the title fights.
Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic
Thiago is back looking for a win after two losses in a row. Arguably he could have been the Champion of this division if the judges weren’t scared of taking away some of Jones star power. Thiago will definitely be looking to put his name back in the win column in this one.
As for Rakic he’s coming into this bout after a win over former title contender Anthony Smith and he has only suffered one loss in the UFC. Rakic is an interesting prospect in the UFC and just like his opponent is a knockout artist. A win in this fight will likely put Rakic at the top of the list for a title fight.
I predict this fight to be a war between these two fighters, both of these guys have triple the amount of knockouts than decisions, so the judges may as well throw away their scorecards. Rakic has the longer reach in both his legs and arms and this will benefit his striking style, but as we know Santos has fought the long limbed Jones in the past.
Prediction: Rakic via a TKO in Round 2
Islam Makhachev Vs Drew Dober
If you pay attention to the Dagestani scene in Russia you’d know that Khabib believes that by the end of the year his buddy Makhachev will be running the Lightweight division. Islam hasn’t fought a top 10 contender yet, but is that by his choice or are they scared of fighting another Dagestani wrestler?
Drew Dober is coming off back to back ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses. He’ll be looking to spoil the party with this bout. I expect him to be ready to fight on the ground as well as on the feet. We all know that wrestling with a Russian can be scary, so Drew best be prepared for some heavy and tiring grappling exchanges.
I expect this fight to be spent on the ground for the majority of its duration. These fighters are almost even on submission finishes in their MMA careers. So we’ll probably see a very technical bout on the floor. However Dober also has a number of KO/TKO finishes.
Prediction: Makhachev via a Submission in Round 3
…And now we’ve made it to the most anticipated fights of the night.
First of all we have
Petr Yan (c) vs Aljamain Sterling
Many fans including myself were surprised last year when Aldo was given the Interim title fight against Yan over Aljo and they believe this fight is to decide who is the real number one in this weight class.
Where do we start with Yan? He’s been dominant in the UFC since joining in 2018. Yan is a russian boxer and he does not hold back, he’ll be looking to take Aljo’s head off in this one. I am excited to see his fast hands and heavy power come out in this bout. He has some experience on the ground but it’s not comparable to Aljo’s ground game. Yan will look to keep this fight standing and he’ll be aiming to scramble back up to his feet anytime he hits the deck.
Aljo isn’t fazed by the prospect of fighting Yan despite people describing Yan as the Boogeyman of the division. Aljo was calling out Yan before he even won the Bantamweight title, in fact he was hoping Yan would beat Aldo so he could strip the title from Yan in the future…and the time has finally come. Aljo has spoken about Yan several times. He’s even said Yan was good but he’s not sold on him yet. Aljo will be looking to use his BJJ black belt experience in this bout and wear Yan out on the ground.
If this fight makes it to the Championship rounds I can see Aljo landing a submission as Yan begins to tire. But in the earlier rounds I see Yan swinging for the hills and in an attempt to knock Aljo’s lights out. Yan will want to keep this fight at range, due to this I can see Aljo utilising calf kicks in order to slow down Yan’s movement until he is able to start landing takedowns.
Prediction: Sterling via a Submission in Round 4
Next up we have a potentially one sided bout
Amanda Nunes (c) vs Megan Anderson
Now I’m not saying this to knock Megan Anderson’s credentials, but anyone that pays attention to the sport knows that Nunes is the female GOAT and she is heavily favoured to win again this weekend. Nunes ruined Cyborg and ended her streak of 20 wins within 60 seconds, she also ran through Ronda Rousey beating her within the first 50 seconds. Nunes has beaten everyone there is to beat in the Women’s divisions.
Nunes will be coming into this one as calm and composed as ever. She’ll be looking to take Megan out in any way she can, we know she is profound in her striking and she holds a black belt in BJJ, something her opponent does not have. She’ll be looking to frustrate Megan and draw her in for a big knockout or a TKO via a long flurry of big punches.
For Megan she has a 4 inch height advantage she’ll be hoping to utilise this and keep Nunes at a comfortable range. Due to her height it can be harder for smaller fighters to take her down, this may elevate the pressure of fighting a ground game versus a black belt. If Megan is able to avoid Nunes’ flurries she may be able to pick her off at range with a punch or a kick. Megan has never suffered a KO/TKO loss in her career and she’ll want to keep it that way.
I believe Nunes is going to have the advantage in all areas of this fight. Megan will have to stay positive and not get fazed by Nunes’ prowess. Nunes has never finished a fight in the fourth round, could that possibly be a round where takes a breather? Maybe Megan could exploit this in some way?
Prediction: Nunes via a TKO in Round 1
And time for the final fight of the night!
Jan Blachowicz (c) vs Israel Adesanya (c)
This is definitely the most interesting fight of the night. We have two champs facing off for the Light heavyweight bout. Both men are of course confident they will get a victory in this one, Jan is looking to stop Izzy from taking the belt he recently received and Izzy is looking to join an exclusive club of fighters who have been champions of two divisions at once.
Jan is bringing his legendary polish power to this bout. He will not let Adesanya take his crown especially as he is a smaller fighter. Jan is known for his one punch knockout power and that will be a key to his path to victory this weekend. As long as he can stay patient and not get to antsy, he should be able to find that one punch he needs to seal the deal.
Adesanya will be floating around the cage as always, he’s a slick fighter and is always bouncing around and throwing strikes from angles opponents don’t expect. He is 20-0 he’ll not be looking to add a loss to his record now. Unlike his power puncher opponent Izzy will be looking to land punches in bunches and whittle away at Blachowicz.
I believe if Jan can stay composed and not get drawn in by Izzy’s movement he can catch Izzy with a big punch during an exchange. Izzy is also going to come into this bout weighing around 195 pounds, whereas Jan will likely be around 215 if not slightly higher by the time the bout starts. This gives Jan an advantage if this goes to the ground as he could pin Izzy there just with the extra weight alone, not only that but Jan has more experience in grappling and has a black belt in BJJ unlike Izzy. On the flip side Izzy has a solid 86% takedown defence in his MMA career but this will be his first bout in Light Heavyweight, so will this high percentage stand true?
Prediction: Blachowicz wins via a KO in Round 3.
I hope you all enjoy the fights on Saturday night if you live over the pond and if you’re from Europe be prepared to sleep in on Sunday as the Main card starts at 3am over here in the UK.
Let me know what you think of my predictions and if you win some money after looking at this then you owe me.
Written by Tom Rey