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Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 45: Edwards vs. Muhammad

Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 45.

Date: March 13, 2021
Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Main Card
Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+

Welterweights: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad

Overall Records: Edwards 18-3, Muhammad 18-3
UFC Records: Edwards 10-2. Muhammad 9-3
Last Fight: Edwards def. Dos Anjos, UDec, UFC On ESPN 4 (7/20/19), Muhammad def. Lima, UDec, UFC 258 (2/13/20)
Last Five Fights: Edwards 5-0, Muhammad 4-1
Rankings: Edwards #3, Muhammad #13
Betting Odds: Edwards -275, Muhammad +215
Preview: Edwards makes his long-awaited return after being in a 20-month long string of inactivity. He’s making his return not against the opponent he’s been expecting for the last five months, but a short-notice replacement, as Muhammad steps up on less than a month’s notice for his first UFC main event, replacing Khamzat Chimaev, who is dealing with long-term effects of the coronavirus. Muhammad will be fighting exactly 28 days from his previous bout, a decision win over Dhiego Lima at UFC 258 in February. He comes into the fight riding a solid four-fight win streak and is 8–1 over his last nine fights, slowly moving his way up the welterweight rankings.

Meanwhile, Edwards comes into the fight on the second-longest win streak in the welterweight division, having won eight straight, and he honestly should already be fighting for the title. He’s 10–1 since a loss in his UFC debut, the lone loss coming to current champion Kamaru Usman by decision. Circumstances have kept him from getting the title shot, but it will be hard to deny him if he gets by Muhammad on Saturday, even if he has to take another extended layoff.

Edwards might be one of the more underrated fighters in the sport. He isn’t a flashy fighter, but everything he does, he does well, and he’s extremely effective in his style and out-working his opponents. He isn’t going to overwhelm with strikes, but he also isn’t going to get hit a lot. He can take down opponents, even those with high-level takedowns apart from Usman, and he’s good at avoiding being taken down. Muhammad is a pressure fighter who will try to overwhelm with strikes against the fence, but he’s also willing to take punches. Don’t let Edwards’ recent string of mostly decision wins fool you—he has a great amount of power and can finish opponents. These guys have six combined losses but only one of those have come via a finish, so these are tough and durable guys.

Ring rust could play a big factor, as it’ll be around 600 days since Edwards last fought, and Muhammad will be fresh coming back quickly. Edwards knows what’s at stake in this one, and he’s the one taking the risks, especially against a tough short-notice opponent. Muhammad is eager to get into the top ten and become a title contender, but Edwards has been vocal about wanting the shot and he needs this more if he’s going to get it. It’s definitely an interesting fight and should be a high-level battle between two really good fighters.

Light Heavyweights: Misha Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann

Overall Records: Cirkunov 15-5, Spann 18-6
UFC Records: Cirkunov 6-3, Spann 4-1
Last Fight: Cirkunov def. Crute, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 16 (9/14/19), Walker def. Spann, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20)
Last Five Fights: Cirkunov 2-3, Spann 4-1
Rankings: Cirkunov #11, Spann #13
Betting Odds: Cirkunov -135, Spann +105
Preview: Another fighter getting back to action after being out of the Octagon since 2019 sees Cirkunov looking to break into the top ten at 205 lbs. when he takes on Spann in the co-main event. Cirkunov was last seen in action in September 2019 when he scored a rare Peruvian necktime submission over Jimmy Crute. That was a much welcomed win for Cirkunov, who had lost three of his previous four fights after starting his UFC career with four straight wins. Also starting his UFC career with four straight wins was Spann, but he finds himself coming off a loss after being knocked out in the first round by Johnny Walker in a wild fight in September. Spann had been surging up the rankings in the light heavyweight division, but now he’s out to prove he’s still going to be a threat against the veteran in Cirkunov.

Spann better have his grappling and takedowns on point in this one because he’s going to need it. Cirkunov averages 4.42 takedowns per 15 minutes of action, and has a 57% takedown accuracy. Spann does defend 60% of takedowns attempted on him, but Cirkunov is the best grappler he’s fought to date, holding a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Cirkunov will likely get Spann to the mat, which is where he’ll go to work, as he has nine submission wins in his career and he’s always hunting for them. Spann would be better suited keeping the fight on the feet. Cirkunov might actually be the better overall striker of the two, as he lands more and has better defense, but Spann has the most power of the two. Both men are quick workers, as Cirkunov’s UFC fight time averages just over four minutes, and Spann’s Octagon fight time, if you include his Contender Series appearances, average just over six minutes.

Cirkunov has been finished in all five of his losses, with all three of his UFC losses by knockout. Spann is no slouch on the mat, with eleven submission wins, but his best opportunity to win is to keep this on the feet and exploit his reach advantage. It is close on the betting odds, and this is a pretty nice match-up between two guys looking to break into the top ten. History says this could be a quick night for both, and if that is the case, look for some excitement here.

Featherweights: Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker

Overall Records: Ige 14-3, Tucker 13-1
UFC Records: Ige 6-2, Tucker 4-1
Last Fight: Kattar def. Ige, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20), Tucker def. Quarantillo, UDec, UFC 256 (12/12/20)
Last Five Fights: Ige 4-1, Tucker 4-1
Rankings: Ige #9
Betting Odds: Ige -155, Tucker +125
Preview: Another fight that sees a switch with less than a month’s notice leading to a potential more exciting fight, with Ige looking to maintain his spot inside the top ten as he fights replacement Tucker in a pivotal bout. Tucker is replacing Ryan Hall, who was forced out due to injury, taking this on just over three weeks’ notice, as he looks to extend his three-fight win streak. Tucker’s streak hasn’t come against the same level of competition as Ige, but a big win here would set up Tucker for much bigger fights, and he’s 34 years old, so time is ticking for him as he gets late in his career. Ige fights for the first time since July, when he came up short in his first UFC main event, dropping a decision to Calvin Kattar on Fight Island. That loss ended Ige’s six-fight win streak, and he’s hopeful to start a new streak, keep himself inside the top ten, and keep himself in the mix of challengers that are emerging in the featherweight division.

Ige is going to have a nice five-inch reach advantage in this one, and he’s definitely going to have to use it. Tucker likes to pressure his opponents, especially inside the smaller Octagon, as he averages three takedowns a fight and lands at a nice clip. He also gets hit almost as much as he lands, and Ige is a smooth striker who has good pressure of his own. Ige was a Division II wrestler and has a black belt in jiu-jitsu, though he tends to be more of a points fighter, but he has an effective style. Tucker is also a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but his style isn’t as smooth as Ige. Neither man has ever been finished in their careers, and this doesn’t seem like a fight that will change that. It could be a grind, and Ige has the experience against tougher competition. I like Ige in this fight, but he, and no one, should sleep on Tucker here.

Bantamweights: Jonathan Martinez vs. Davey Grant

Overall Records: Martinez 13-3, Grant 12-4
UFC Records: Martinez 4-2, Grant 3-3
Last Fight: Martinez def. Almeida, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20), Grant def. Day, R3 KO, UFC 251 (7/11/20)
Last Five Fights: Martinez 4-1, Grant 3-2
Betting Odds: Martinez -325, Grant +250
Preview: A pair of bantamweights both on two-fight win streaks battle in this one as Martinez and Grant look to continue their winning ways. Martinez is moving back down to bantamweight after a one-fight trek in the featherweight division, and he has to hope the weight cut goes better this time as Martinez missed weight by nearly five pounds for his last bantamweight contest. Martinez has won four of his last five fights, showing better skills in each outing. Grant has been a model of inactivity during his UFC career. He debuted in a TUF Finale in November 2013, then didn’t fight again until twice in 2016, and then has fought just once in 2018, 2019 and 2020 since then. He last fought in July, so this will actually be his second-shortest layoff during his UFC tenure. He is coming off a knockout win over Martin Day in his last fight, which netted him his first post-fight bonus.

This should be a classic striker vs. grappler fight, as Martinez is good on his feet and Grant is good on the ground. Martinez works from the southpaw stance and is good at landing leg kicks, and he is constantly throwing strikes. He lands more than he gets hit, and his defense is very good as well. Grant has some good striking defense, but he isn’t as flashy on the feet as Martinez. Grant likes to go for the takedown, as he averages nearly three per fight, while Martinez averages less than one. Grant has scored eight of his twelve wins by submission, but all four of his losses have also been by submission. Martinez has yet to be finished in his career, and he has seven wins by knockout, though he has tended to be more of a going the distance fighter as of late. This one could be a good fight, but it also has the potential to be uneventful. Both are solid middle-road bantamweights, and neither wants to lose, so they’ll look to put on a good show here.

Flyweights: Manel Kape vs. Matheus Nicolau

Overall Records: Kape 15-5, Nicolau 15-2-1
UFC Records: Kape 0-1. Nicolau 3-1
Last Fight: Pantoja def. Kape, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 42 (2/6/21), Nicolau def. Efrain, UDec, Brave CF 25 (8/30/19)
Last Five Fights: Kape 3-2, Nicolau 4-1
Betting Odds: Kape -140, Nicolau +110
Preview: This is a flyweight bout between two looking to show their worth is yet another fight that underwent a late change, but also one that produced what could be a much more exciting fight. Kape is getting back to action after a disappointing UFC debut just over a month ago, where he lost a decision to Alexandre Pantoja. In that fight, he got off to a slow start in the first two rounds before coming on strong in the third, so he’s going to need to shake off any kind of adrenaline dump in this one. He took the fight on about a week’s notice, which shows how eager he is to erase the sting of that loss. Nicolau returns to UFC for his second stint, and returns to action for the first time since August 2019. Nicolau was on the UFC roster from 2015 through 2018, going 3–1, with the lone loss being in his last bout, but was cut at a time where lots of flyweights were being cut as the division was about to be folded. The division did not fold, though, and after finishing up some deals he had with other promotions, he finds his way back onto UFC’s roster.

Both are exciting flyweights with a penchant for finishing, especially Kape as he has a 93% finishing rate. Both men have been finished twice in their careers, so they tend to be on the better side of a fight. Kape’s patience in his last fight saw him get hit more than he landed, but he also landed more than half of his strikes attempted, and did do some damage late. Nicolau is a high-level striker with good defense, as he defends about 70% of strikes attempted on him. Both have decent takedowns, but have shown excellent takedown defense as neither has been taken down in UFC. Nicolau is the better ground fighter, so Kape will be looking to keep it on the feet, where he will have the edge. This is a fantastic match-up and will do more to show where Kape stands, as Pantoja may have been a little more than he needed, and this is a good showcase for Nicolau in his return. It’s almost a toss-up when it comes to who will win, but expect a really fun fight.

Middleweights: Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart

Overall Records: Anders 13-5, Stewart 12-6 1 NC
UFC Records: Anders 5-5, Stewart 5-5 1 NC
Last Fight: Jotko def. Anders, UDec, UFC On ESPN 8 (5/16/20), Holland def. Stewart, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20)
Last Five Fights: Anders 2-3, Stewart 3-2
Betting Odds: Anders +150, Stewart -185
Preview: The main card kicks off with a middleweight bout between two men trying to get themselves back into the win column. Both have had different paths in their careers, yet both are at a crossroads in this fight. Anders started his career winning his first ten fights, including starting his UFC run with two wins, leading to his first UFC main event in just his third UFC bout. He has gone just 3–5 in his last eight since starting 10–0, and now he’s just trying to prove he can still be a contender after showing so much potential early on. Stewart got toUFC on the heels of a 7–0 record to start his career. He then had some early troubles, going winless in his first four UFC fights, and many thought he was going to be cut after that run. He has since gone 5–2 in UFC (he had one outside bout at Cage Warriors right when the pandemic started), with his only two losses being split decisions to Edmen Shahbazyan and Kevin Holland, two highly-ranked fighters.

Many thought that Stewart actually beat Holland in his last fight, including Holland himself at the time, so Stewart is set out to prove that he’s improved greatly and can get into the top fifteen. These two are practically mirror images of one another, the only difference being Anders fights out of the southpaw stance. They’re the same size, they land about the same, and both have okay takedown games and good takedown defense. Stewart presses forward more and Anders tends to fight off his back foot more and looking to counter, and Anders tends to take more strikes than he gives. Anders has just been underwhelming lately in his fights, and hasn’t shown all of the potential he did early on. This could be either a slugfest or a boring 15-minute exchange fest with not much action, but I lean towards Stewart and his tendency to be slightly more aggressive to get this one.

Preliminary Card
Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+

Women’s Strawweights: Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder

Overall Records: Hill 12-9, Yoder 8-6
UFC Records: Hill 7-9, Yoder 3-5
Last Fight: Waterson def. Hill, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 35 (9/12/20), Yoder def. Granger, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 40 (11/14/20)
Last Five Fights: Hill 3-2, Yoder 3-2
Rankings: Hill #12
Betting Odds: Hill -380, Yoder +290
Preview: Hill and Yoder get a short-notice bout here in a rematch of a July 2017 bout that Hill won by unanimous decision. They were originally going to fight two weeks ago in a fight that was put together on just a week’s notice, but it was postponed the day of the show after one of Yoder’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19, so they’ve gotten a little extra time to prepare. Hill has been particularly eager to get back to action, as she hasn’t fought since September, and five months off for her is like two years off for most. She did have to deal with a bout of COVID-19 during that time off, so hopefully she’s fully recovered. Yoder has been wanting to stay active as well, as she feels she is building momentum and getting better with each fight, and she has shown some great improvement. After losing her first three UFC fights, Yoder has won three of her last five, and a strong case could be made that she’s won four of those.

As for Hill, she was on a great three-fight win streak, but has lost two straight, though both were split decisions that could’ve gone in her favor. She badly wants to get back into the win column. Hill is a striker first and foremost, and she lands a lot during fights. Not only does she land a lot, but she has good striking defense as well, even though she does get hit quite often. Yoder’s gameplan is always wrestling-based, as she has good takedowns and can keep opponents on the mat. In their first fight, Yoder took Hill down three times, but Hill was much better on the feet, which was the difference. Both have improved since then, leaving this to be a much more intriguing fight, but on short notice, you tend to go with the fighter who has more experience in these types of situations, and that is Hill. I like her to get the win in this one.

Featherweights: Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo

Overall Records: Jourdain 10-3-1, Rojo 16-6
UFC Records: Jourdain 1-2-1, Rojo 0-0
Last Fight: Jourdain DRAW Culibao, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20), Rojo def. Madrigal, R1 KO, Combate 45 (9/27/19)
Last Five Fights: Jourdain 2-2-1, Rojo 3-2
Betting Odds: Jourdain -260, Rojo +200
Preview: We even have prelim bouts that were put together on short-notice as Jourdain gets a late replacement in the debuting Rojo in this one. Rojo was scheduled to debut on short-notice against Raoni Barcelos last month, but Barcelos had to pull out due to COVID-19, and Rojo shifted to this bout to replace an injured Steve Garcia. Rojo debuts after not fighting since September 2019, but he actively campaigned to be a late replacement, and had a lot of supporters. Jourdain makes his fifth Octagon appearance, but he has just one win in those first four fights, and is coming off a draw with Joshua Culibao in his last fight. Both men are known for being finishers in their careers, as Jourdain has a 100% finishing rate and Rojo has an 88% finishing rate. Jourdain has also never been finished in his career, while four of Rojo’s six career losses have come by submission.

For someone making his debut, this is a much-preferred fight for Rojo, as Barcelos was a heavy grappler and Jourdain is a striker. Rojo is also a striker, and he comes forward more, which should be a good time for Jourdain, who likes to land heavy attacks. Jourdain isn’t someone who is going to take Rojo down, but if it goes to the mat, both are good enough to get the other in trouble on the mat. It likely will stay on the feet and be a slugfest. Jourdain hits harder and is the more proficient striker, and this fight should be his as long as it stays on the feet. This could be a pretty exciting fight.

Bantamweights: Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez

Overall Records: Yahya 26-10-1 1 NC, Rodriguez 16-7
UFC Records: Yahya 11-4-1 1 NC, Rodriguez 0-1
Last Fight: Yahya DRAW Barzola, UFC On ESPN+ 28 (3/14/20), Kelleher def. Rodriguez, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 34 (9/5/20)
Last Five Fights: Yahya 2-2-1, Rodriguez 3-2
Betting Odds: Yahya -300, Rodriguez +230
Preview: A bantamweight fight that pits a UFC veteran against a relative UFC newcomer sees Yahya looking to get back into the win column against Rodriguez, who is in search of his first UFC win. Yahya will be stepping into the Octagon for the 18th time, while this will be just the second UFC fight for Rodriguez. Yahya was working his way up the rankings with a 7–1 record, but he’s fought just twice since August 2018, one a loss to Ricky Simon and his last bout being a draw with Enrique Barzola in March of last year. Rodriguez made his UFC debut in September as a late-notice fighter, and it was a quick night on the wrong end for him, as he was submitted by Brian Kelleher in just 39 seconds. He’s hoping for a better time in his second fight, but he’s got a tough veteran in front of him.

Yahya is one of the absolute best submission fighters at 135 lbs., with 20 of his 26 career wins coming by submission, and Rodriguez has been submitted three times in his career. We all know what is going to happen in this one–Yahya is going to come straight out looking for the takedown, and it is going to be up to Rodriguez to keep it standing. Neither are strong strikers, as Yahya has landed less than two strikes per minute during his UFC and WEC tenures, which spans a long time and a lot of fights. Rodriguez does get hit a lot, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that here. If and when Yahya gets this fight to the feet, he has a smothering top game and constantly looks for submissions, and Rodriguez doesn’t have great submission defense. Yahya needs a win and this is a tailor-made fight to get him back in the win column, and he’s a sizeable favorite for that reason. This could be a ground clinic from Yahya.

Lightweights: Nasrat Haqparast vs. Rafa Garcia

Overall Records: Haqparast 12-3, Garcia 12-0
UFC Records: Haqparast 4-2, Garcia 0-0
Last Fight: Haqparast def. Munoz, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20), Garcia def. Bandenay, UDec, Combate 55 (2/21/20)
Last Five Fights: Haqparast 4-1, Garcia 5-0
Betting Odds: Haqparast -370, Garcia +280
Preview: A fight that came together just a couple of days ago takes place as Haqparast takes on the debuting Garcia in a lightweight bout. Haqparast was scheduled to fight Don Madge in this bout, but Madge was forced out due to visa issues, and Garcia slides in to make his Octagon debut on the heels of a perfect 12–0 record. Haqparast has been one of the best prospects in the lightweight division for the last couple of years, winning four of his last five fights, with the lone loss coming to Drew Dober. He got back into the win column against Alexander Munoz in his last fight, but it wasn’t the level of performance we have become accustomed to seeing from him, and he’s looking to get back to impressive showings here. While Garcia’s record looks impressive, he hasn’t fought in over a year and his wins have just been effective if not overwhelming.

He’s going to have to deal with an opponent that he’s never had to deal with before- a heavy striker who pressures a lot on the feet. Haqparast lands a lot of strikes, but his striking defense is even better. He doesn’t go for takedowns, which is Garcia’s strongest suit, but Haqparast also has 81% takedown defense, so Garcia may have trouble getting him down. There is a huge leap in the level of competition here for Garcia, and his durability and pressure won’t likely work with a great striker like Haqparast, and this could be a confidence booster fight for Haqparast. I like Haqparast to get a stoppage in this one, and it should be a great showing for the 25-year-old prospect here.

Women’s Flyweights: Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich

Overall Records: Casey 9-8, Aldrich 8-4
UFC Records: Casey 5-7, Aldrich 4-3
Last Fight: Robertson def. Casey, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN 11 (6/20/20), Mazo def. Aldrich, SpDec, UFC 246 (1/18/20)
Last Five Fights: Casey 2-3, Aldrich 3-2
Betting Odds: Casey +125, Aldrich -155
Preview: A pair of former strawweights who have moved up to the flyweight division takes place here as Casey and Aldrich both look to get back into the win column. Casey is fighting at 125 lbs. for the third time. She had a successful debut there, submitting Mara Romero Borella in May, but then made a quick turnaround one month later and was dominated and submitted by Gillian Robertson. She has fought better than her 5–7 UFC record shows, but she does need a win in this one. Aldrich has been solid in her UFC career, with a 4–3 record in the Octagon, and she fights for the first time since before the pandemic started, so it’ll be a near 14-month layoff for her. Both women are primarily strikers, yet they only have one UFC win by knockout between the two of them.

Both have seen the scorecards a lot, as six of Aldrich’s seven UFC fights have gone the distance, while Casey has gone to the judges in eight of her twelve UFC bouts. Casey is a slow-moving striker while Aldrich is pretty mobile on her feet. They both land often and get hit often, but it’s slow punches that come from Casey while Aldrich hits fast. Neither go for takedowns much, but if the fight goes to the mat, Casey is the better submission fighter. Aldrich will likely win if it stays on the feet, while Casey will likely win if it goes to the ground. This might not be the most exciting fight on the card, but both need a win. It likely goes the distance, and with these two, who knows what the scorecards could read.

Women’s Strawweights: Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey

Overall Records: de Paula 5-2, Frey 9-6
UFC Records: de Paula 0-0, Frey 0-2
Last Fight: de Paula def. Macias, UDec, Dana White’s Contender Series 36 (11/17/20), Lookboonmee def. Frey, UDec, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: de Paula 4-1, Frey 2-3
Betting Odds: de Paula -190, Frey +155
Preview: A strawweight bout takes place as de Paula makes her UFC debut against the veteran Frey, who is looking for her first UFC win in her third chance. de Paula had an impressive showing on the Contender Series to earn a UFC contract, scoring a decision win over Pauline Macias. She has only seven fights in her career, but her win was impressive and she showed effective striking. Frey was a former atomweight champ in the Invicta promotion, but she had to make the move up a weight class in order to get to UFC, and things haven’t gone to plan since. She was submitted by Kay Hansen, who is a strong prospect, in her debut, then dropped a decision to Loma Lookboonmee in her last fight.

Frey doesn’t have the craziest style, as she is a slow fighter who prefers to find openings and bully her opponents with bursts of offense. That might be a bad gameplan against de Paula, who is more of an attacking fighter, and if this stays on the feet for an extended period, she likely will light Frey up. Frey is going to have to fight much different in this one than she usually does, as de Paula has trouble against opponents who pressure her and threaten with takedowns. If Frey can get this to the mat for extended periods, it opens the fight up more in her favor. Everything points to de Paula getting an impressive debut win, but if Frey can fight like she never has before, it isn’t as easy of a fight to predict.

Welterweights: Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt

Overall Records: Semelsberger 7-2, Witt 18-6
UFC Records: Semelsberger 1-0, Witt 1-1
Last Fight: Semelsberger def. Minus, UDec, UFC On ESPN 15 (8/22/20), Witt def. Williams, R2 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 39 (10/31/20)
Last Five Fights: Semelsberger 4-1, Witt 4-1
Betting Odds: Semelsberger -125, Witt -105
Preview: A welterweight bout opens the show as Semelsberger and Witt both look to notch their second UFC wins in this one. Semelsberger is a solid prospect who got to UFC before he was ready, but at a time when the company was needing a lot of short-notice fighters. He had an impressive debut, scoring a decision win over Carlton Minus to run his win streak to four straight. He landed a lot of shots in that fight, and showed good takedowns, but he also got hit more than he should have, and definitely showed some holes in his game. A better opponent may have seen a different outcome, and he has a better opponent here in Witt. Witt has 18 professional wins and has won four of his last five fights. He has eleven wins by stoppage, but has also been finished in all six of his losses.

Semelsberger is the better athlete between the two, and if he can keep it on the feet, he should be able to light Witt up standing. Witt has had bad striking defense, only defending 26% of the strikes attempted on him. Semelsberger will have a five-inch reach advantage, and that will keep Witt at bay while he tees off. Witt is going to have to impose his wrestling in this one, and he is going to have some great coaching with James Krause in his corner, but this fight has Semelsberger’s name written all over it to score an impressive win. This should be a solid opener.

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