Although tonight’s fight card is not necessarily an event of the year, the main card is bound to possess some excitement. Using the Verdict MMA app, I will share my fight predictions for tonight’s card.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Juliana Peña
This is a close match-up and one with dire implications; the winner of this fight will receive a championship match. Although Peña is an underdog, I’m choosing her to win this fight by decision. Both of these combatants are tenacious and although Schevchenko is a world class striker, I believe Peña’s grappling will be what gives her the advantage.
Schevchenko aggressiveness and stand-up technique were showcased through her win over Holly Holm. Peña’s striking is a brawling style but, is effective nonetheless. When Schevchenko takes down opponents, she is unable to be to control them for long periods. In her fight with Sarah Kaufman, this was showcased, as Kaufman was able to get up with relative speed. This being said the volume of takedowns landed on Kaufman is impressive for someone who is notorious for their striking. She may want to avoid the ground or the clinch against Peña.
Peña will be able to close the distance and impose her grappling skills on Schevchenko. Since beating Jessica Rakoczy with vicious ground-and-pound, Peña has yet to lose a fight. Conversely, she will need to be careful of Shevchenko’s striking; taking advantage of her opponent’s Muay Thai fighting style will be key. Schevchenko typically uses the clinch to bludgeon her rivals. If Peña is in close range, it will be easier to get to the ground, where she can finish the fight.
All of Schevchenko’s UFC fights have gone to decision and so have half of Peña’s UFC fights. This will be a back and forth battle but, Peña will neutralize her opponent’s attacks with her grappling and this will win her the fight.
The true question is, will the winner of this fight be able to dethrone the champion, Amanda Nunes?
Peña by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Jorge Masdival
These two challengers are fighters to the very core. This being said, Cerrone’s only loss since 2013 came from the champion at that time, Rafael Dos Anjos. Although Masdival has more fights, Cerrone has beaten more elite level fighters. Cerrone is on a four fight win streak and has finished all of those opponents. Masdival defeated Jake Ellenberger and Ross Pearson in his last two fights, both of whom are in the middle of the division and have not found great success in the UFC.
Cerrone is also a true martial artist, winning half of his fights by submission and winning a quarter of them by knockout. His beautiful kickboxing combination against Rick Story showcases his fluidity and impeccable ability.
Cerrone’s superior conditioning and dynamic striking will overwhelm Masdival’s boxing. However, both fighters are some of the most durable warriors in the UFC which is why I believe this will go to the judge’s scorecards.
Cerrone by decision.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Francis Ngannou
These two heavyweights collide in what is sure to be a war. Arlovski is a heavyweight icon and at one point was the scariest fighter on the planet when he was the UFC Heavyweight Champion. However, after a long career with many KO losses and his current three fight losing streak, he will have to best a rising star known for his fearsome, brute strength. Francis Ngannou displayed this when he submitted Anthony Hamilton with a kimura from a standing position, using nothing but savage power to earn the victory.
Arlovski does have experience and good boxing but, his glass jaw is somewhat of a staple in MMA. Ngannou’s power will benefit him in every area of the fight. The bell will ring, and Ngannou will rush Arlovski, punching him into unconsciousness.
Ngannou by first round KO/TKO.
Alex Caceres vs. Jason Knight
This is a tough fight to call for a few reasons. Caceres is inconsistent (his fight with Cole Miller exemplified this) and his record is unimpressive. However, he has experience, great movement, and fights at an unparalleled pace. Knight is a better grappler and displays tremendous heart. This fight can go either wy but, Caceres may be able to get a decision win by using his striking to keep Knight guessing.
Caceres by decision.
Want to make fight predictions of your own? Download the Verdict MMA app and share your picks with me.