The UFC returns to Paradise when the most dominant Women’s champion the world has ever seen defends her belt against a massive underdog in the main event of the evening. Here are my picks and predictions for how all of the main card fights of the night will go down:
Undefeated fighter, Ketlen Vieira, looks to continue her winning streak by defeating former title challenger Cat Zingano. With Zingano being on a small losing streak as of late, this win can be do or die for her at this point in her career. I feel her losing streak will continue as both are known for grappling in their fights, and Vieira being the more superior grappler. Zingano has been taken down a few times in her prior fights while Vieira has defended roughly 90% of the takedowns shot at her in last three fights. To further back up this claim, Zingano is only a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu whereas Vieira is a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. Zingano is hard to finish, however, so I predict this fight going the distance.
Ketlen Vieira via Decision
This can’t possibly go the distance, right? Two heavyweights who are on the brink of irrelevance clash in this main card bout. Somebody is more than likely getting finished, but who? My answer: Stefan Struve. Let me explain. Andrei Arlovski finally picked up a win after a five fight losing streak. He didn’t get the finish but his opponentat the time, Junior Albini, had never been knocked out before then. So it is safe to assume that he is a hard guy to take out with strikes. Meanwhile, Stefan Struve has had a mixed record as of late with his last knockout win coming against the now released and fragile chinned Antonio Silva. His other knockout win before that, however, was against current champion Stipe Miocic. The problem is that it took place all the way back in 2012. So now let’s look at Arlovski’s recent knockout losses that led some to believe he now has a glass chin. Arlovski’s last three knockout losses were to Francis Ngannou, Alistair Overeem, and Stipe Miocic. How unlucky for him to be thrown in against those monsters. This is honestly a coin flip in terms of how likely each fighter is to win since heavyweight fights are always the most unpredictable fights on every card. But looking at Struve’s striking defense compared to Arlovski, I got to go with the ‘Pitbull.’
Andrei Arlovski via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 1
The latest thing to come out of the UFC hype machine, Sean O’Malley, is set to fight Andre Soukhamthath in what should be an exciting fight. O’Malley is known for his unique striking style and impressive head movement that has made him a fan favorite. Soukhamthath is also an exciting fighter who has the power to knockout his opponents with either punches or a flying knee. The most significant factor in this fight is going to be both fighters’ striking defense. O’Malley showed, especially in his debut fight, that he is an insanely hard fighter to hit as he moves his head around in all sort of angles. Soukhamthath in contrast to O’Malley has been very hittable in his fights. Although he has never been knocked out, I think this will be the time it happens since O’Malley’s striking is lethal.
Sean O’Malley via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 1
Both of these fighters each have large a legion of fans pulling for their fighter to win. Frankie Edgar is known for his impressive boxing and elite level wrestling while Brian Ortega is known for his crazy submission game. Many predict Ortega using his grappling game to submit the former Lightweight Champion. However, I see Edgar using his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and using his boxing to outstrike Ortega on the feet. Ortega is no slouch on the feet, even though he was largely outstruck by Cub Swanson in his last fight, so I see him surviving the full fifteen minutes with Edgar.
Frankie Edgar via Decision
This is considered by many a one-sided contest for the UFC title. Not one fighter has been able to even come close to conquering Cris Cyborg. Holly Holm had the best chance of any fighter and even took Cyborg to the distance for the first time since 2008. Yana Kunitskaya is a poor replacement for Holm and will probably not do as well (if you want to call Holm’s performance well). I expect a quick night for Cyborg as she takes care of business as usual.
Cris Cyborg via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 1