Randy Costa (-310) vs Guido Cannetti (+235)
For two fighters that are 14 years apart in age, they could not have a more similar style when it comes to finishing fights. Both Costa and Cannetti have bad cardio and both throw caution into the wind in every fight they’ve been in. For Costa, at 28 he’s 2-3 in the UFC now but every fight has been finished by the end of the 2nd round. He has a wide array of strikes in his kickboxing repertoire to go with his power, and if he can land early on the 42-year-old he might put him out.
On the flip side, Cannetti is much less technical and puts every ounce of energy he has into every strike he throws. Whether it’s low calf kicks or left hooks, he throws his entire body into each strike he throws. If Cannetti connects there’s a very real chance he puts the Costa down, but I expect Costa to be patient and play on the counter, where he could find an easy knockdown and finish the fight. I’m too scared to pick a winner given the lack of cardio and knockout ability of these two, but I will take the under.
Pick: u1.5 -150 (1u)
Julija Stoliarenko (-115) vs Chelsea Chandler (-105)
Julija Stoliarenko is the new age Ronda Rousey if Ronda didn’t have much power in her hands and was a one-trick submission artist. Stoliarenko has 10 wins on her record and 9 of them are by armbar. NINE. She’s masterful from top and bottom control in getting her legs over the shoulders to secure it, and she looks for it every minute of the fight from the ground. On the feet, she’s not much of a threat. Yes, she stunned Jessica Rose-Clark in their fight briefly, but she only uses her striking to open up a takedown attempt and get the fight to the ground.
Chelsea Chandler is making her UFC debut at 4-1 and has looked phenomenal over her last four fights. She will entertain in every fight the UFC gives her because of the sheer pace and volume she puts out there. She will stomp forward and throw combinations until her body doesn’t let her, and if her opponents clinch she has a respectable takedown game and top control. She won’t want to engage in either area against Stoliarenko, but her forward pressure and volume will open those takedowns up for Stoliarenko. Expect the fight to take place mostly on the mat and for the BJJ Black Belt to show her quality on the mat.
Pick: Stoliarenko -115 (1u)
Maxim Grishin vs Philipe Lins
Philipe Lins looked dominant in his last fight against Marcin Prachnio, his first fight in nearly two years thanks to six canceled bouts. I take a lot out of that fight because Prachnio and Max Grishin have a lot of similarities – they’re both tall, long karate style fighters that like to keep the fight at range and use leg kicks to all three levels. Grishin is a level above Prachnio, but stylistically they’re very similar.
Where Lins will have the advantage is if he can tire Grishin out through cage control and takedowns. To do so he’ll have to get within that kicking range from Grishin – which he’ll do by throwing his power hooks – but he’ll have to if he has any chance to win. If this fight stays at range, Grishin will dominate to a high degree with his debilitating kicks to all levels. I don’t have a great read on whether Lins will be able to close the distance effectively and dominate in the clinch, and I don’t trust Grishin at all as a -175 favorite. Pass on this fight.
Brendan Allen (Even) vs Krzysztof Jotko (-120)
This is Brendan Allen’s 10th fight since the beginning of 2020, and while his hype train has calmed down a bit with losses to Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis, he’s won 7 fights around those 2 losses. After his upset loss to fan-favorite Chris Curtis last December he rattled off 2 wins against Sam Alvey and Jacob Malkoun, and while Allen was a heavy favorite in both he’s still shown improvements to his game in both fights.
Where Allen is best is in his wrestling and grappling. With 10 submission wins to his name out of 19 victories, Allen is one of the best when it comes to BJJ on the mat. When it comes to getting it there he’s no slouch either. Where it’s a judo throw, double leg, or trips, he has a full arsenal to dominate opponents to get the fight where he wants it. His striking game has needed improvement since he joined the UFC, and we’ve seen that improvement with each fight. He works behind a solid jab and uses body kicks with other weapons, but they still need refining.
If Allen wants to show off that striking he’ll be in for a long night. That’s where Jotko thrives. While Jotko doesn’t necessarily knock opposition out, he hits them with volume for 15 minutes and in the process picks up rounds. If Jotko can stuff a few takedowns and force Allen to play his game on the feet, Jotko will assuredly win by points. That won’t be the case though. Allen’s hype train will regain steam with a dominant victory over Jotko where he flexes his grappling prowess and shows further improvements to his striking.
This is the first time in a while that Allen has been less than a -300 or greater favorite. Take it and run.
Pick: Allen EVEN (2u)
Joaquim Silva (-145) vs Jesse Ronson (+120)
Joaquim Silva is now 3-3 in the UFC and has had 2 fights over the past 4 years. The 33-year-old is only getting older, which will accentuate his glaring weaknesses and decrease what he’s good at. While Silva does have good power and hand speed as well as a solid wrestling game, those talents are assuredly decreasing, and I worry a lot about his cardio and durability. He doesn’t protect himself well at all and I’d bet he gets knocked down at some point in this fight if it lasts more than a round.
Ronson is coming over from the PFL and is 0-1-1 in the UFC with a no-contest due to a failed drug test. After coming back from his 20 month suspension he was dominated by Rafa Garcia in the wrestling department for 15 minutes. I’m not a fan of Ronson’s striking at all. He has slow hands and not much snap on the end of his punches, and while he does have good defensive technique, Silva will test that early and often.
Ronson has a distinct cardio and chin advantage, but skill-wise I like Silva. Either Silva puts the pressure on Ronson early and finishes him with a big flurry, or Ronson tires out Silva and takes advantage of Silva’s very questionable chin. I’ll take this fight to go under.
Pick: u2.5 -120 (1u)
Jessica Penne (+176) vs Tabatha Ricci (-220)
Two pure grapplers face off with high stakes Saturday. Penne is nearly 40 years old and is looking to have one last run in her even after losing to Emily Ducote on the back of a 2-fight win streak. Tabatha Ricci is 12 years younger and is 7-1 over her short career and is built from a very similar cloth.
Neither fighter will want to stand and bang, and if they do I advise you to change the channel. It will be ugly, not technical, and non-threatening. Both fighters are top-tier grapplers and even though Ricci didn’t engage Viana in that area in her last fight, there was no need for her to risk being submitted. Penne will welcome Ricci into her guard just like she did Karolina Kowalkiewicz and if Ricci engages she’ll be in danger. Given Ricci didn’t engage Viana there I doubt she will with Penne but we’ll see.
On the feet this should be very even, but on the ground I give Penne the edge in her BJJ. The odds reflect Penne’s recent 2-4 record and that she’s getting up there in age, but I think we could be in for a closer fight than the odds indicate. I’ll take a flier on Penne.
Pick: Penne +176 (.5u)
Aleksei Oleinik (+145) vs Ilir Latifi (-175)
These two combine to be 84 years old. Eighty-four! Aleksei is 77 MMA fights deep and 45-years old and is still submitting opponents often. At this point Oleinik’s athleticism is so low that he can’t explode to generate takedowns or damage opponents as much on the feet, but he might have gotten a gift in a wrestling-heavy Latifi. Assuming Latifi continues that trend or Oleinik is able to notch a takedown this fight could be over in a flash. There are few better submission artists than Oleinik, and I’ll take the old man to get the win against Ilir Latifi who I can’t trust given his 1-3 record in his last 4 fights and only having fought twice in the past 34 months.
Pick: Oleinik +145 (.5u)
Mike Davis (-175) vs Viacheslav Borshchev (+145)
Mike Davis’ UFC tenure has been short but it’s been all fireworks. After losing to Gilbert Burns on short notice debut, Mike Davis then rattled off two wins including a dominating win over Thomas Gifford that eventually resulted in stoppage before beating the highly touted Mason Jones. Mike Davis gets it done on the feet defensively with great head and feet movement, while offensively gets it done with fantastic body shots and counter uppercuts. He throws in combination well and has decent offensive wrestling that he could implement against the poor wrestling defense of Borshchev (taken down 11 times in his fight vs Diakiese).
While Davis is a fantastic striker, so is Borshchev. Both of these fighters are some of the best technical strikers in the division. Borshchev should have the advantage in the clinch and at range he utilizes his kicks well to compliment his right hook. Even though his takedown defense is poor, he pops right back up more often than not. You can’t allow 11 takedowns in a fight without getting back up to be taken down yet again.
Davis’ injuries and long layoff could spell trouble in this fight, but I don’t like that Borshchev took this fight on 2-week notice. Mike Davis was already preparing for a similar stylistic opponent in Uros Medic and should have the stamina to outlast Borshchev here and possibly implement his wrestling. Give me Davis to win and the fight to not go to the cards.
Pick: Davis -175 (1u) & Fight not to go the distance -110 (1u)
John Castaneda (-200) vs Daniel Santos (+164)
This is a matchup nightmare for Daniel Santos. I haven’t been able to pinpoint why Dana White and the UFC have Santos this far up the card other than his explosive fighting style. Santos is 0-1 in the UFC after being dominated by Julian Arce in April, but he came in with some flashy finishes: spinning elbow, spinning head kick, spinning body kick, armbar, and anaconda choke. While all of those are impressive, they’re against far lesser competition and John Castaneda is on Arce’s level.
Castaneda is 3-1 over his last four fights with every win being by finish and his only loss coming to Nathaniel Wood by decision. With 7 wins by submission and 7 by knockout, Castaneda has the much more well-rounded game. While he should be able to accumulate damage on the feet, Castaneda will always have his wrestling available in this fight if he needs it. While Santos will try different techniques and put Castaneda on the backfoot in the first round, I expect Castaneda to weather the storm and dominate Santos in the second and third.
Pick: Fight not to go the distance +102 (1u) & Castaneda / Dern MLP +113 (1u)
Sodiq Yusuff (-1000) vs Don Shainis (+600) – PASS
Raoni Barcelos (-240) vs Trevin Jones (+200)
Both of these fighters are desperate for a win as they enter their mid, and soon late, thirties. Jones and Barcelos have both lost their last 2 fights and haven’t looked good in the process. Barcelos has clearly lost a step from the quick, athletic wrestler he was, while Jones’ volume continues to be his volume. On his best day, Trevin Jones is a power puncher with great wrestling that can switch between the two fluidly. On his worst day, he has no volume and his wrestling gets stuffed, so he isn’t able to implement anything.
Barcelos is much the opposite to Jones. While he’s lost a step due to age, he still doubles the volume of Jones throughout his career (5.98 strikes per minute compared to 2.90) and has shown far superior wrestling. Barcelos averages 1.66 takedowns per 15 minutes while Jones is only at 0.71. To make matters worse for Jones, he only lands takedowns on 12% of his attempts. Given the lack of volume by Jones and the wrestling advantage of Barcelos I’ll take the favorite here, but Barcelos does need to be wary of the counters from Jones. He does still have dynamite in those hands when he lands.
Pick: Barcelos & Costa/Canetti not to go the distance -107 (1u)
Randy Brown (-350) vs Francisco Trinaldo (+265)
Francisco Trinaldo is counting on you to think he’ll regress because he’s 44, and he’s here to prove you wrong. Now 18-7 with 25 fights in the UFC, Trinaldo has won 5 of his last 6 fights with the only finish being in his knockout of Jai Herbert. His power has stayed through the years so even though he has good footwork and kicks, it’s noticeably slowed over the past few years.
The reason Brown is this big of a favorite is because of his 6-inch height advantage and 8-inch reach advantage. To go along with that he has power in both hands that I’d put up there with the best in the division. He’s also 5-1 over his last 6 fights with his lone loss coming to Vicente Luque (happens). He knocked out Bryan Barberena, submit Warlley Alves, and most recently beat Khaos Williams and Jared Gooden by decision.
Brown is going to weigh more than Trinaldo, is longer than Trinaldo, is quicker and will have more stamina. Also, a weird stat for you – Trinaldo is 9-4 in his last 13 fights. As a favorite he’s 9-0, as an underdog he’s 0-4. Trinaldo is a sizable underdog here. Give me the favorite!
Pick: Brown / Dern MLP -122 (1u)
Mackenzie Dern (-240) vs Xiaonan Yan (+190)
Every card you have to have a stark contrast in styles and this one waited all the way to the main event. Granted you’ll almost always have a clash when Mackenzie Dern is fighting, but given Yan’s standup game there is a threat. But, as my friends Craig and Allen on Fight Night Picks say, Mackenzie Dern is the Francis Ngannou of grappling. Men, women, it doesn’t matter. If she has you on the ground you’re in deep trouble and she has 25 minutes to get it there.
On the feet Dern will struggle. She entered the UFC with very basic striking and it’s improved, but it’s still nowhere near the quality of Yan. To get the fight to the mat, Dern will have to cut the cage and close distance on Yan. I doubt Yan will implement her leg kicks in this fight in fear of being taken down, but if she can keep the fight at range she’ll dominate Dern for 25 minutes.
All it takes is one. All it takes is Dern completing one takedown by trip, throw, double-leg – I don’t care. If the fight goes to the ground you can guarantee Dern will win the round and probably end the fight. 25 minutes in the cage with Dern is far too long to survive on the feet for, and I’ll bet Dern gets it done by submission as one of the elite artists in the game.
Pick: Dern by Submission -121 (1u)