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Guide to UFC 270: Ngannou vs. Gane

Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC 270.

UFC 270

Date: January 22, 2022

Location: Honda Center in Anaheim, California

Main Card

Start Time: 10:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN+ pay-per-view

UFC Heavyweight Championship: (C) Francis Ngannou vs. (IC) Ciryl Gane

Overall Records: Ngannou 16-3, Gane 10-0

UFC Records: Ngannou 11-2, Gane 7-0

Last Fight: Ngannou def. Miocic (title fight)–R2 KO–UFC 260 (3/27/21), Gane def. Lewis (title fight)–R3 TKO–UFC 265 (8/7/21)

Last Five Fights: Ngannou 5-0, Gane 5-0

Betting Odds: Ngannou +125, Gane -150

Background: It’s going to end up being one of the biggest fights of the year, and it’s a great way to kick off the 2022 UFC pay-per-view schedule as the unification bout for the UFC Heavyweight Championship headlines the UFC 270 card. UFC Heavyweight Champion Ngannou is actually in his first title defense, but it comes against an Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion in Gane. We all know the story of how all of this happened, as Ngannou wasn’t going to be ready to defend against Derrick Lewis in August like the company wanted, and instead of waiting, because they needed a main event, the interim title was created, and Gane won it after finishing Lewis in the third round at UFC 265. Ngannou won the title ten months ago, knocking out Stipe Miocic in the second round at UFC 260 in March, which was his fifth straight win. All 16 of his wins have been by a finish, with 12 by knockout and four by submission. The only time he’s gone the distance is in his two losses. Gane is still just under four years into his professional mixed martial arts career. He’s 10-0 since his debut in August 2018, including a 7-0 UFC record. He won UFC gold less than two years into his UFC career, and seven of his ten wins have come via a stoppage. These two have a history as training partners, a history that has two different stories being told, so each side has their own story, which adds an extra layer of interest into this one.

How they match up: This might be the single most intriguing bout that could be made at heavyweight, at least until Jon Jones actually shows up to the division, which makes this fight all the more interesting. It’s going to be power against precision in this one. As far as their history training together, no one really knows, but Ngannou did reveal that he accidentally knocked Gane out with a head kick once, but there’s been denials of that happening. Gane’s coach, Fernand Lopez, was very familiar with the Ngannou of the past. However, the Ngannou of today has evolved since their split. Ngannou still possesses the thing that sets him apart from everyone else- he can end it with one single shot. Gane has done a great job of avoiding being hit, but a lot of that has been due to his physical edge on most of his opponents. He won’t have that here. Gane is extremely accurate with his striking, and he mixes everything well and is more versatile on the feet than Ngannou is. Gane also has shown a great ground game, but Ngannou has been tough to take down lately and Ngannou has shown some underrated submission skills. Gane is not afraid of making this a boring fight and into one where there might not be a lot of engaging. I expect to see Gane use a lot of movement to keep away from the power shot of Ngannou. He knows one shot could end it, and he doesn’t want to feel that power. This is such a tough fight to see the outcome of as both have real clear paths to winning. If the Ngannou who fought Jairzinho Rozenstruik and then Miocic the last time shows up here, I have a hard time seeing Gane beating that guy. Gane might actually be more talented as an overall fighter, but he can’t match that power, which will be the difference.

What’s at stake: The UFC Heavyweight Champion has always been labeled the baddest man on the planet in mixed martial arts and that should be no different with the outcome here. There is a lot on the line for Ngannou, a story that has been lingering for months. This is the last fight on his current contract. A win would trigger an automatic extension that would expire at the end of the year. If he wins and remains the champion, what happens? Does he come to terms on a new deal? Does he sit out for the rest of the year? He’s 35 and in his prime, and his future hinges on this fight. Gane is going to be around for the long haul, so he’ll be in the title mix for years to come. Does he stay in the mix as the man to beat, or does he falter here and have to start a new march back to the top? There is definitely more at stake in this fight for Ngannou, but, at the end of the day, both men want to walk away from Anaheim as the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion. This is a big one, folks.

Pick: Ngannou

UFC Flyweight Championship: (C) Brandon Moreno vs. (#1) Deiveson Figueiredo

Overall Records: Moreno 19-5-2, Figueiredo 20-2-1

UFC Records: Moreno 7-2-2, Figueiredo 9-2-1

Last Fight: Moreno def. Figueiredo (title fight)–R3 SUB–UFC 263 (6/12/21)

Last Five Fights: Moreno 4-0-1, Figueiredo 3-1-1

Betting Odds: Moreno -175, Figueiredo +145

Background: It’s a trilogy bout for the UFC Flyweight Championship, and these two should be very familiar with each other by now as they fight for the third straight time, a first in UFC history. UFC Flyweight Champion Moreno makes his first title defense against the man he defeated for the title in Figueiredo. They first fought at UFC 256 in December 2020, having an epic battle that went the distance only to end in a draw due to Figueiredo being deducted a point. It was one of the best fights of 2020, but Figueiredo walked away that night still the champion. It led to an immediate rematch, which took place at UFC 263 in June. It ended up being a great night for Moreno as he submitted Figueiredo in the third round to win the championship. It originally was looking like they weren’t going to book a third fight between the two right away, as there were other contenders waiting in the wings for their shot, plus there was a little talk about Figueiredo moving to bantamweight. He decided he wanted to go after re-gaining what he’d lost, and when Alexandre Pantoja suffered an injury and wasn’t going to be ready soon enough for Moreno’s first title defense, it opened the door for the trilogy bout to be booked.

How they match up: The first fight featured both men at their best, despite all of the obstacles against that match-up at the time, and they ended in a draw. The second fight was Moreno on his best night and Figueiredo on his worst night. This one might show who is truly the better fighter of the two. Figueiredo still has the power edge of the two, and he’s changed things up in this training camp, moving it to Arizona and the Fight Ready team, training with Henry Cejudo. Moreno used to train there, and his departure still stings Cejudo and the team, and, thus, Figueiredo has vowed to take Moreno’s head off and return it to Cejudo. He’s going to need to keep it on the feet if he’s going to do that. Moreno showed how much better he is on the mat in the second fight, and I don’t see things changing there. Moreno is super active on the mat and very slick in his submission attempts and transitions. Both are black belts in jiu-jitsu, but Moreno just seems more skilled while Figueiredo primarily is just on defense on the mat. Figueiredo got tired more easily in the second fight and Moreno was able to pick him apart on the feet to wear him down. This fight is ultimately going to come down to how much the change in camps benefitted Figueiredo. This one is tough to predict and I really think it could go either way.

What’s at stake: This fight could answer who exactly is the best flyweight in the world, or it could lead to that question still being relevant. If Figueiredo were to win and regain the title, they would be at one win apiece with the draw. That would naturally mean that a fourth fight is coming, though not right away. If Moreno wins, it’s definitely time to move on to a new challenger. A good thing about the flyweight title being essentially held up between the two for the last thirteen months is that it’s given the flyweight division time to establish some new and fresh title contenders. There’s several waiting in the wings and potential title eliminator bouts booked over the next few months. Regardless of who wins, I see the division moving on after this fight, even if a fourth fight ends up on the horizon eventually.

Pick: Figueiredo

Welterweights: Michel Pereira vs. Andre Fialho

Overall Records: Pereira 26-11 2 NC, Fialho 14-3 1 NC

UFC Records: Pereira 4-2, Fialho 0-0

Last Fight: Pereira def. Price–UDec–UFC 264 (7/10/21), Fialho def. Sekulic–R1 TKO–UAE Warriors 24 (10/29/21)

Last Five Fights: Pereira 3-2, Fialho 4-1

Betting Odds: Pereira -275, Fialho +230

Background: This fight was scheduled for last week’s show, but COVID-19 protocols forced the move to this card, and it gets a main card slot as an entertaining fighter takes on a debuting fighter. Pereira is known for his wild and wacky style, and Fialho makes his UFC debut, replacing Muslim Salikhov, with a daunting task in front of him. Pereira will be fighting for the 40th time in his MMA career, and he comes in riding a three-fight win streak. After being very active during his entire career, 2021 was a quite one for Pereira, as he fought only once, but it was an exciting win over Niko Price at UFC 264 in July. He’s known for his crazy style, but has put on quality performances during his career, with 17 wins coming via a finish. Fialho comes in riding a four-fight win streak, and holds wins over UFC veterans James Vick and Stefan Sekulic during that win streak. He has scored 12 of his 14 wins by stoppage, with eleven wins coming by knockout.

How they match up: This is actually an intriguing match-up. Pereira is absolutely wild on his feet and is a huge welterweight. He mixes all of his strikes well, with damaging leg kicks and some really great straight right hands. He also throws all sorts of crazy attacks to the point where an opponent really doesn’t know what to expect, plus he has an underrated wrestling game with a strong ground game. Fialho has tons of power in his hands and Pereira better not take him lightly on the feet. He’s also very aggressive and likes to force his opponents into slugfests knowing he’ll likely come out on top of it in the end. He can’t be overly confident and use that same approach here, but his goal should be to get Pereira out of his comfort zone. If Pereira can find his range and really utilize the calf kicks, he’s going to punish Fialho. Pereira also has great head movement so Fialho has to know it’s not going to be a sitting target. This one very likely ends in a knockout, which is why it’s on the main card. I see Fialho just swinging too much and having to chase Pereira, which will allow Pereira to take the fight over with his striking and end it with something crazy.

What’s at stake: Fialho is looking for the upset in his UFC debut, and it definitely would be quite the upset if he were to defeat Pereira. Pereira is on the cusp of being ranked inside the welterweight rankings, and a win here would likely would set him up against a ranked opponent next. Despite the criticism Pereira has gotten, and rightfully so, he’s won three straight and a fourth would put him right into title contention. This is a big fight for Pereira, and many think this is a fight he should win. Hopefully, he doesn’t overlook Fialho, who is a dangerous opponent.

Pick: Pereira

Bantamweights: Cody Stamann vs. Said Nurmagomedov

Overall Records: Stamann 19-4-1, Nurmagomedov 14-2

UFC Records: Stamann 5-3-1, Nurmagomedov 3-1

Last Fight: Dvalishvili def. Stamann–UDec–UFC On ESPN 23 (5/1/21), Nurmagomedov def. Striegl–R1 KO–UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20)

Last Five Fights: Stamann 2-2-1, Nurmagomedov 4-1

Betting Odds: Stamann +165, Nurmagomedov -200

Background: An interesting bantamweight battle kicks off the main card as a UFC bantamweight veteran looks to get back into the win column against a rising contender in the division. Stamann is struggling to gain some consistency after getting off to a great start to his career. He started his career with an impressive 17-1 record, which included three straight wins to start his UFC career. However, he has wins in just two of his last six fights and comes into this fight on a two-fight losing skid. He’s also looking for his first UFC finish. Nurmagomedov returns to action for the first time since October 2020 as visa issues kept him from competing in 2021. He’s looking for his second straight win after scoring a 51-second knockout win of Mark Striegl in his last fight. He’s won eight of his last nine fights overall.

How they match up: This is going to be a battle of fighters who primarily like to wrestle. However, both are pretty solid on their feet. Stamann likes to be more like a traditional boxer on the feet while Nurmagomedov is a little more well-rounded in his striking with solid kicks and great movement. Nurmagomedov has kind of abandoned his wrestling during his UFC outings in favor of being a kickboxer, but his wrestling should be a primary focus in this one. Stamann isn’t afraid to spam takedown attempts, but his boxing is going to need to be on point if he has any hopes of taking Nurmagomedov down. Nurmagomedov is going to have a six-inch reach advantage in this one, which should help out with his range on the feet. This has the makings of a very interesting fight and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly by either fighter or the fans.

What’s at stake: Stamann really needs a win in this one. He was ranked at one point, but being 2-3-1 over his last six fights have kept him outside of the top 15 and he’s now on the cusp of trying to hold onto his spot on the roster. A third straight loss could spell doom for him, so this is as much of a must-win fight for Stamann as he’s had so far during his UFC career. Nurmagomedov has gone 3-1 in his UFC career thus far and is a rising prospect, and a win here will get him fighters either inside the rankings or very close to being ranked. Nurmagomedov’s only UFC loss has come to Raoni Barcelos, so that’s a potential rematch in the future should both win here.

Pick: Nurmagomedov

Welterweights: Michael Morales vs. Trevin Giles

Overall Records: Morales 12-0, Giles 14-3

UFC Records: Morales 0-0, Giles 5-3

Last Fight: Morales def. Veretennikov–UDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 40 (9/21/21), Du Plessis def. Giles–R2 KO–UFC 264 (7/10/21)

Last Five Fights: Morales 5-0, Giles 3-2

Betting Odds: Morales -120, Giles +100

Background: Another part of the eight fighters making their UFC debuts on this card, Morales puts his undefeated record on the line against UFC veteran Giles, who drops to the welterweight division for the first time. Morales, one of three teammates of Brandon Moreno has fighting on the card, earned his UFC deal following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series during the summer. It moved his record to 12–0, and ten of those wins have come by stoppage, with nine wins by knockout and one by submission. Giles is looking to get back into the win column in his first move down to 170 lbs. after being finished in the second round by Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 264 in July. Prior to that setback, Giles had won three straight fights, with wins over James Krause, Bevon Lewis and Roman Dolidze. He has scored eleven of his 14 wins by stoppage.

How they match up: Morales is one of the most intriguing prospects coming off the Contender Series this past year, and you have to give the 22-year-old some props for fighting a veteran in his debut. He’s got great skills but still needs some time to develop. Giles has shown impressive flashes of being someone who hits his opponents hard and with a strong wrestling game. He also should have a size edge on Morales as he cuts to welterweight for the first time, though whether the cut effects him is also a question mark. Morales is going to have a five-inch reach advantage, which will help him out with landing his straight right hands that he loves to use. Both men have strong physical tools, but I tend to favor experience in this one. Morales is still quite green, and this match-up doesn’t really do him many favors as he tries to develop his advancement. Giles’ wrestling and power will be the key difference here.

What’s at stake: An undefeated record is at stake in this one for Morales, as he wants to keep his perfect record in tact. There aren’t many fighters who come off of the Contender Series straight into a match-up against an opponent who has eight UFC fights, but that shows they see a lot of potential in Morales. Giles doesn’t want to fall into another losing skid as he had just started to gain some momentum inside the Octagon prior to the loss to Du Plessis. He’d love to take a perfect record as a UFC veteran away from a prospect, something that happened to Giles himself after he joined the roster.

Pick: Giles

Preliminary Card

Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+

Featherweights: Ilia Topuria vs. Charles Jourdain

Overall Records: Topuria 11-0, Jourdain 12-4-1

UFC Records: Topuria 3-0, Jourdain 3-3-1

Last Fight: Topuria def. Hall–R1 KO–UFC 264 (7/10/21), Jourdain def. Ewell–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 57 (12/18/21)

Last Five Fights: Topuria 5-0, Jourdain 2-2-1

Betting Odds: Topuria -650, Jourdain +450

Background: One of the best prospects in the UFC’s featherweight division puts his undefeated record on the line against a late replacement in this bout. Topuria was originally slated to fight another undefeated prospect, Movsar Evloev, in this bout, but COVID-19 protocols forced Evloev out of the bout. Fresh off of signing a new UFC deal, Jourdain steps in on just over a week’s notice as the replacement. Topuria has won eleven straight fights to kick off his career, including a 3-0 record thus far as a UFC fighter. He’s coming off a first-round knockout of Ryan Hall at UFC 264 in July, which was the tenth finish of his career. Jourdain comes into this fight with some fresh momentum after scoring a decision win over Andre Ewell just a month ago at UFC On ESPN+ 57. While his results have been mixed thus far, Jourdain has had some exciting fights and has been impressive, and has won two of his last three overall.

How they match up: This should be an extremely entertaining fight, and, honestly, it should’ve been on the main card. Both men are exciting and willing to trade on the feet. Jourdain coming in on short notice has to be watched here when it comes to his cardio. Topuria is going to look to take advantage of the fact that Jourdain is a historically slow starter, and he’s going to exploit that. Topuria has lots of power in his hands, a strong wrestling game and a strong ground game. He held his own when Ryan Hall tried to take it down, which is impressive in it’s own right. Jourdain is very durable and extremely hard to finish and I envision him eating a lot of Topuria’s punches while keeping coming forward. He’s going to make Topuria work for the win and Topuria may find himself in some moments where he’s having to adjust. However, Topuria is just too skilled and will be too prepared for the short-notice Jourdain. Jourdain deserves tons of respect for taking this fight, but it is Topuria’s fight to lose.

What’s at stake: Topuria was ranked at one point following his win over Hall, but activity from others knocked him out of the top 15. A win here would not only keep him undefeated, but would likely put him back inside the rankings and could set him up for a high-profile bout for his next appearance. Jourdain is looking to pull off the upset, and a win would be huge for him. He gets props for stepping up on short notice for such a tough fight, and he won’t lose much with a loss, but will gain a lot with a win. Both are young- Topuria is 24 and Jourdain is 26- and will be on the roster for several years to come. This should be an exciting fight.

Pick: Topuria

Bantamweights: Raoni Barcelos vs. Victor Henry

Overall Records: Barcelos 16-2, Henry 21-5

UFC Records: Barcelos 5-1, Henry 0-0

Last Fight: Valiev def. Barcelos–MajDec–UFC On ESPN+ 48 (6/26/21), Henry def. Morales–R2 SUB–LXF 6 (10/30/21)

Last Five Fights: Barcelos 4-1, Henry 4-1

Betting Odds: Barcelos -550, Henry +375

Background: A bout that was supposed to take place a month ago finally lands here after COVID-19 protocols delayed Barcelos’ welcome of Henry to the Octagon. Barcelos is coming off his first UFC loss, as he dropped a decision to Timur Valiev in a Fight Of The Night showing in June. It ended his nine fight win streak, which included a 5–0 run to start his UFC career. Barcelos has scored ten wins via a finish. Henry was going to make his short-notice debut in December, but the veteran of the sport gets extra time to prepare. Henry made his MMA debut in 2010 and has fought for such promotions as Pancrase and RIZIN. He is one of only two people to hold a win over current bantamweight prospect Kyler Phillips, and he makes his UFC debut having won nine of his last ten fights. Henry has 14 wins by a finish.

How they match up: Barcelos is going to be looking to do something to Henry that’s never been done, and that is to finish him. Henry is getting a tall task for his Octagon debut, but with 26 career fights under his belt, he is a far more experienced debuting fighter than most. Barcelos can’t take him lightly, even if he fights like he normally does in taking his time to wear down his opponent. Barcelos also has powerful striking and a great grappling game to go along with excellent durability. Henry is best on the mat, and has some decent power in his hands, but a short-notice fight against an opponent the caliber of Barcelos is going to be a tall task. We’ve seen some upsets this year, and this would be another big one should Henry pull it off.

What’s at stake: Barcelos was on the cusp of being inside the top-15 of the bantamweight rankings prior to the loss to Valiev, and he was having trouble getting fights against ranked opposition due to how dangerous he is. The loss to Valiev showed he can be beaten, but a win here, especially in impressive fashion, would get him right back on track to fighting ranked opponents. For Henry, the call for a UFC debut came at a time when it looked like it might not ever come. He’s looking to be like two other fighters who were in similar positions to him, Chris Curtis and Chris Barnett, who have come in and made a quick impression. A win over a solid and tough veteran like Barcelos would do exactly that.

Pick: Barcelos

Bantamweights: Tony Gravely vs. Saimon Oliveira

Overall Records: Gravely 21-7, Oliveira 18-3

UFC Records: Gravely 2-2, Oliveira 0-0

Last Fight: Maness def. Gravely–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 50 (9/18/21), Oliveira def. Alday–SpDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 38 (9/7/21)

Last Five Fights: Gravely 3-2, Oliveira 5-0

Betting Odds: Gravely -275, Oliveira +210

Background: A bantamweight bout featuring a fighter making his fifth UFC appearance against a debuting fighter from the Contender Series takes place here. Gravely is looking to get back into the win column after being finished in the second round by Nate Maness in September. That ended a two-fight win streak that he was on. Gravely has been a very active fighter, fighting 28 times since his debut in October 2015, scoring 12 finishes in his 21 wins. Oliveira is making his UFC debut, but he comes into the Octagon with plenty of experience, as this will be his 22nd career fight. He is riding a five-fight win streak and has won ten of his last eleven overall. He has five wins by knockout and eleven wins by submission.

How they match up: Gravely might be one of the more underrated bantamweights in the division as he has a well-rounded game and a strong wrestling base. Oliveira doesn’t have the best wrestling defense, but he’s very strong on the mat and can make his opponents pay for mistakes made on the mat. Gravely has made mistakes when taking opponents down, and he should be looking to protect his neck at all costs in this one. Gravely is going to have the speed advantage in the striking department, and he’s very accurate with solid defense. Oliveira has heavy punches on the feet but he’s not the most flashy striker. The X-factor in this fight will be the cardio of Gravely. He has started strong quite often only for his conditioning to let him down. If that happens here, Oliveira can easily catch him with a guillotine or take control of his back on the ground. This could be an entertaining battle, but Gravely has more ways to win this.

What’s at stake: These are two fighters on the lower-end of the bantamweight division at the moment. That’s not a knock on either, as it’s a tough division, and Oliveira is making his debut. Gravely wants to play the spoiler and make his first UFC bout one to forget while also ending his win streak, and Gravely wants to get back into the win column himself. There’s more at stake with Gravely as he doesn’t want to go on a losing skid. This should be a fun bout.

Pick: Gravely

Welterweights: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Pete Rodriguez

Overall Records: Maddalena 10-2, Rodriguez 4-0

UFC Records: Maddalena 0-0, Rodriguez 0-0

Last Fight: Maddalena def. Loosa–UDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 39 (9/14/21), Rodriguez def. Pixley–R1 TKO–iKon Fighting Federation 7 (6/11/21)

Last Five Fights: Maddalena 5-0, Rodriguez 4-0

Betting Odds: Maddalena -350, Rodriguez +275

Background: A pair of debuting fighters square off here as Contender Series product Maddalena meets late-notice replacement Rodriguez in a welterweight clash. Rodriguez takes this fight on just a week’s notice as he replaces Warlley Alves, who was forced out due to injury. Since starting his career in an inauspicious start with losses in his first two professional fights, Maddalena has won ten straight fights as he comes into his UFC debut. Nine of his ten wins have come by stoppage, with eight wins coming by knockout. Rodriguez is young in his career, as he’s someone who made his professional debut during the pandemic. He’s only four fights into his career, all under the iKon Fighting Federation banner, but he’s a perfect 4-0, with all finishes, all inside the first round, and his longest fight going just 2:21. Two of those wins have come in 41 seconds or less. It may be quick, but he’s got a great opportunity here.

How they match up: This one will likely stay on the feet where Maddalena will have the edge. Rodriguez is still young in his career and doesn’t have much footage on him, but what he has shown is some raw ability mixed with solid power. He’s fought low-level competition and Maddalena is a big step-up for him. Maddalena is very crisp on his feet and able to punish his opponents. He doesn’t mind getting into a war on the feet and he’s shown to be durable and capable of taking hard shots. Maddalena also has a judo background and he could use his wrestling to keep Rodriguez from trading on the feet. When standing, Maddalena really likes to attack the body with strikes. He’s going to bring something that Rodriguez has yet to see, and I find it very hard for Rodriguez to find a path to winning outside of a flash knockout. Maddalena has tons of potential and should show it off in a big way here.

What’s at stake: It’s two fighters in their UFC debuts, so they’ll be around for more fights after this regardless of the outcome. Maddalena was one of the most exciting fighters from this recent edition of Dana White’s Contender Series, and he comes into the main roster with a little bit of hype around him. If he can back up his showing on the show and have another exciting fight here, the sky is the limit for him in the welterweight division. Rodriguez is still early in his career and this UFC call came quicker than can be imagined, but he has a chance to make the most of it. He’s going to be one of the more inexperienced fighters in the division, so his future will need to be taken care of gently, but he’s someone we will see improve before our eyes.

Pick: Maddalena

Early Preliminary Card

Start Time: 6:15 p.m. ET, 3:15 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN+

Women’s Strawweights: Silvana Gomez Juarez vs. Vanessa Demopoulos

Overall Records: Juarez 10-3, Demopoulos 6-4

UFC Records: Juarez 0-1, Demopoulos 0-1

Last Fight: Godinez def. Juarez–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 52 (10/9/21), Aldrich def. Demopoulos–UDec–UFC On ESPN 30 (8/28/21)

Last Five Fights: Juarez 3-2, Demopoulos 2-3

Betting Odds: Juarez +120, Demopoulos -145

Background: A pair of strawweights competing for the second time each inside the Octagon square off here as Demopoulos and Gomez Juarez battle to see who will get their first UFC win. This fight was supposed to take place last week, but COVID-19 protocols moved the bout to this card. It’s extra time for Juarez to prepare, as she is taking this fight on short notice after replacing Ashley Yoder. Demopoulos fights for the second time since her UFC signing, but she gets a full training camp and a bout at her ideal weight this time out. She dropped a decision to JJ Aldrich in her debut in August, and has lost three of her last four overall. Like Demopoulos, Gomez Juarez made her UFC debut on very short notice in October. She was submitted in the first round by Lupita Godinez, which ended her three-fight win streak.

How they match up: These two are on the lower end of the spectrum of the strawweight ladder, but it still makes for an interesting fight as both are still developing. Juarez didn’t get to show it, as she struggles against tough competition, but she is a sharp boxer with some quick and powerful hands. Demopoulos is aggressive on her feet and has some solid power, plus she is willing to eat some shots on the feet. Demopoulos does have a flaw in that she’s not the best offensive wrestler though she likes a ground battle. On the mat, Demopoulos is going to have the edge of the two as she likes to hunt for submissions. Juarez was submitted quickly in her UFC debut, and unless she can make it uncomfortable for Demopoulos on the feet early in this one, I see the result being very similar.

What’s at stake: Neither woman wants to start their UFC career with an 0-2 record, so a win would be pivotal for both. They’re both on the lower-end of the strawweight division, which is a very deep and tough division, but both have potential to work their way up to be solid members of the roster. I don’t see either fighting for a UFC title ever, at least at this stage, but a win is a win and would do wonders for both.

Pick: Demopoulos

Lightweights: Matt Frevola vs. Genaro Valdez

Overall Records: Frevola 8-3-1, Valdez 10-0

UFC Records: Frevola 2-3-1, Valdez 0-0

Last Fight: McKinney def. Frevola–R1 KO–UFC 263 (6/12/21), Valdez def. White–R2 TKO–Dana White’s Contender Series 42 (10/5/21)

Last Five Fights: Frevola 2-2-1, Valdez 5-0

Betting Odds: Frevola -200, Valdez +165

Background: Another fight pitting a UFC veteran against a Contender Series newcomer takes place here as Frevola welcomes Valdez to the Octagon for the first time. Frevola makes his seventh UFC appearance as he looks to end a two-fight losing skid. He didn’t have the best 2021 as he lost a decision to Arman Tsarukyan in Abu Dhabi in January, and then was on the wrong end of a seven-second knockout by Terrance McKinney at UFC 263 in June. He wants to get back to like it was 2019, where he went 2–0. Valdez, another teammate of Brandon Moreno, comes into this bout with an undefeated record at 10–0. He got his UFC deal after a second-round TKO of Patrik White on Dana White’s Contender Series. All ten of his wins have seen him finish his opponent, with seven knockout wins and three submission wins.

How they match up: First of all, Frevola needs to avoid getting hit inside the first ten seconds. With that out of the way, this could be an interesting slugfest on the feet. Frevola likes to stand-and-trade and will fight fire-with-fire. He’s all about non-stop action and he will not be afraid to consistently go for takedowns. Valdez is a power puncher with lots of early finishes, but his cardio is a question mark. If Frevola can drag him outside of the first round, and use the first to wear him down with takedowns, Valdez likely doesn’t have the gas tank to make it the distance. Valdez needs to get off to the hot start, and we’ve seen Frevola finished quickly. I don’t expect history to repeat here. Frevola’s wrestling and just being the better boxer will allow him to drag Valdez into deep waters on his way to getting back into the win column.

What’s at stake: Frevola finds himself in a must-win fight here. He only has two wins in his six UFC bouts, and with having lost his last two, a third straight loss could signal a cut from the roster. He has been willing to fight anywhere and anytime, and a lot of bad luck came upon him that kept him out of action for over a year. With that being said, he could still be around even with a loss. Valdez has lots of potential and doesn’t want to see his perfect record be ruined, so this is a pivotal bout for him in that sense. This fight will show where he’s at and if he’s already ready for the higher-up competition.

Pick: Frevola

Women’s Flyweights: Kay Hansen vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius

Overall Records: Hansen 7-4, Jasudavicius 6-1

UFC Records: Hansen 1-1, Jasudavicius 0-0

Last Fight: McKenna def. Hansen–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 40 (11/14/20), Jasudavicius def. Polastri–UDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 39 (9/14/21)

Last Five Fights: Hansen 3-2, Jasudavicius 4-1

Betting Odds: Hansen -225, Jasudavicius +185

Background: A women’s flyweight bout gets the night started as a pair of prospects do battle when Hansen returns to action for the first time in quite some time to welcome Jasudavicius in her UFC debut. Hansen fights for the first time since November 2020 and is looking to get back into the win column after dropping a decision to Cory McKenna. She’s moving up to flyweight in this fight, as she took 2020 off to deal with her struggles with an eating disorder and to get fully healthy and under the right frame of mind to compete at 125 lbs. as she looks to start a new win streak. Jasudavicius earned her UFC contract with a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in September. She has won six of her seven professional fights, and has won three of those by finishing her opponent.

How they match up: Hansen looks in physically good shape as she moves up to flyweight, but she’s going to give up some size to Jasudavicius, who will have a five-inch reach advantage. Hansen should make up for that with pure talent and ability. Hansen is the better striker of the two, but Jasudavicius has the tools to be more effective. Jasudavicius likes to battle in the clinch and wear down opponents there in looking to utilize her wrestling. Hansen loves to mix it up on the mat and is the more skilled ground fighter of the two. Jasudavicius likes to mix it up on the ground, but she’s going to run into trouble playing with Hansen there. A lot of this fight will come down to how Hansen adjusts to the new weight and if she can be as physical as she was at strawweight. This is an interesting fight and should be a good opener, but Hansen is so much better on the mat that I see her either getting a submission or grinding out a win.

What’s at stake: Both women are young in the sport and going to be given time to grow. Jasudavicius got a late start to her career as she’s already 32-years-old, but she’s shown plenty of skills to where she could quickly become a contender with a series of wins. Hansen has shown lots of potential and has been looked at as a future title contender. She will have to show she’s put her outside of the cage struggles behind her, and this will be a good test to see where she stands at the moment. She’s still just 22-years-old, so the sky is still the limit for her.

Pick: Hansen

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