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Guide to UFC on ESPN 37: Kattar vs. Emmett

Getting prepared for UFC this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know with our Guide to UFC on ESPN 37: Kattar vs. Emmett.


UFC on ESPN 37
Date: June 18, 2022
Location: Moody Center in Austin, Texas

Main Card
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+

Featherweights- #4 Calvin Kattar vs. #7 Josh Emmett

Official Records: Kattar 23-5, Emmett 17-2
UFC Records: Kattar 7-3, Emmett 8-2
Last Fight: Kattar def. Chikadze–UDec–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22), Emmett def. Ige–UDec–UFC 269 (12/11/21)
Last Five Fights: Kattar 3-2, Emmett 4-1
Betting Odds: Kattar -230, Emmett +195
Background: The main event is an interesting battle between two exciting featherweights looking to get a title shot as fourth-ranked Kattar battles seventh-ranked Emmett. Kattar is starting to get used to this main event position as it’ll be his fourth straight headline spot, and he’s proven to be worthy of being called a UFC main event fighter. He’s coming off a super impressive unanimous decision win over Giga Chikadze in January that is among the best fights of the first half of 2022. It got Kattar back into the win column after a year out of action following a brutal loss to Max Holloway in January 2021, and Kattar has now won three of his last four fights. He’s scored 13 of his 23 wins via a finish, with eleven wins by knockout, and he’s looking to get himself a title shot as he nears 15 years of competing. Emmett has been one of the more underrated fighters, not just at featherweight, but in the sport over the last couple of years. He comes into this fight, which will be the second time he’s headlined a UFC card, riding a four-fight win streak, and he’s 6-1 overall as a UFC featherweight. He started his current run with a third-round knockout of Michael Johnson in March 2019, then followed it with a first-round knockout of Mirsad Bektic in July 2019. He won his third straight in a war with Shane Burgos in June 2020, but suffered a major knee injury that kept him out of action, and there was concern whether he’d even fight again. He was able to return in December, scoring a decision win over Dan Ige to lead to this match-up. Emmett has scored eight of his wins by stoppage.

How they match up: There were a lot of questions regarding both men prior to their last fights. Would Kattar be able to recover from the beating from Max Holloway? Would Emmett’s knee issues hamper him? Both answered those questions in impressive fashion and showed they’re still in the upper echelon of the featherweight division, and this could end up being a classic fight. Kattar was firing on all cylinders in his win over Chikadze, relying on constant pressure and constant volume, showing off some serious power, but also using his offensive wrestling, which he doesn’t always tend to use. Emmett is powerful and athletic and has true one-shot knockout power to go along with a really good wrestling game. He doesn’t tend to land with the amount of volume that Kattar does, and isn’t quite as accurate, but he also doesn’t get hit as often as Kattar does and his striking defense is much better. His wrestling is good, but Kattar has strong takedown defense, and both men would much prefer this to be decided on the feet. The key for Kattar looks to be getting his jab working, while the key for Emmett looks to be being the more aggressive fighter of the two. Emmett could end the fight with one shot, but Kattar’s volume might give him trouble. This is a fight that could truly go either way, and to me, it feels like a real toss-up type of fight. I do like Kattar to lean on his experience and durability of being in 25-minute fights, and him setting and dictating the pace of this one. I see Kattar pulling out a decision in what should be a really fun fight.

What’s at stake: There is potential for a title shot being on the line in this one, and the winner would have a strong argument for being next in line. UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defends against Max Holloway on July 2, and the outcome will play a role as to what’s next. The winner of the July 16 fight between Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez could also stake claim to a shot, as well as a few others in the division. It is up to Kattar and Emmett to have a fight-winning performance that stands out to put themselves next in line. This has the makings to be a great fight, especially considering the stakes.

Pick: Kattar

Lightweights- Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon

Overall Records: Cerrone 36-16 2 NC, Lauzon 28-15
UFC Records: Cerrone 23-13 1 NC, Lauzon 15-12
Last Fight: Morono def. Cerrone–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN 24 (5/8/21), Lauzon def. Pearce–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN 6 (10/18/19)
Last Five Fights: Cerrone 0-4 1 NC, Lauzon 2-3
Betting Odds: Cerrone -165, Lauzon +140
Background: They were supposed to fight a little over a month ago at UFC 274 in May, but after being cancelled on fight day due to an illness to Cerrone, the long-awaited battle of UFC veterans takes place here in the co-main event. Cerrone is fighting for the first time in a year and is trying to shake off a bad stretch of fights that has seen him go winless in his last six fights. It has been over three years since Cerrone had his hand raised, and if he were to win here, it would be his 24th UFC win, which would put him at first all-time on the UFC wins list. He’s also looking for his 19th post-fight bonus, which would put him at first all-time unless Charles Oliveira also scores a post-fight bonus. Lauzon is fighting for the first time since October 2019 when he scored a first-round TKO win over Jonathan Pearce in front of a hometown crowd in Boston. It ended a three-fight losing skid he was on, and snapped him from a stretch where he had gone just 3-6 over the course of nine fights. He has said he was always undecided if he was going to fight again and that this was the first fight offer that has interested him in a while. Lauzon has scored 26 of his 28 wins via a finish, with nine knockouts and 17 wins by submission. He also has 15 post-fight performance bonuses, which is tied with Nate Diaz for third-most all-time behind Oliveira and Cerrone, and Lauzon’s 13 UFC finishes are second-most in UFC lightweight history.

How they match up: The days of fighting anyone at anytime at any weight and fighting seemingly every month or five to six times a year finally caught up to Cerrone, which is something many expected it would do. The year off could end up being a good thing if he has any desire to fight past this, because while the activity has caught up to him, his skills are still sharp. Lauzon has had time catch up to him as well, but he was able to turn the clock back in his last fight. That was over 30 months ago, though, and who knows if he’ll be able to do the same here. The fact that neither have fought in so long raises so many questions. Lauzon used to be about pressuring his opponents, and if he does the same here, he will get Cerrone off of his game. Cerrone historically starts off slow, and if Lauzon starts an early onslaught, he could make quick work of Cerrone, who might not have a chin left. Lauzon’s best bet to win is to finish it early, as Cerrone is still capable of finding his timing and rhythm to make this fight move towards his way late. It feels like a coinflip fight at this stage, but I’m going with Cerrone to get the win here.

What’s at stake: This easily could be the last time we see either guy fight. Lauzon does have one more fight left on his contract after this, but he’s been open about not really seeking fights at this stage. If he has a solid showing here, he might finish out his deal. If he loses, though, I sense him walking away. I fully believe Cerrone is done if he loses here. If he wins, though, I could see him deciding to continue on, even if he shouldn’t. This fight feels really emotional for him, though, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him hang up his gloves immediately inside the Octagon once the fight ends, regardless of the outcome. Fans should be prepared to say goodbye to both after this.

Pick: Cerrone

Welterweights- Tim Means vs. Kevin Holland

Official Records: Means 32-12-1 1 NC, Holland 22-7 1 NC
UFC Records: Means 14-9 1 NC, Holland 9-4 1 NC
Last Fight: Means def. Dalby–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 48 (6/26/21), Holland def. Oliveira–R2 TKO–UFC 272 (3/5/22)
Last Five Fights: Means 4-1, Holland 2-2 1 NC
Betting Odds: Means +235, Holland -280
Background: A welterweight bout that has the potential to bring lots of excitement to the fans in Austin takes place here as Means looks to continue a win streak against the popular Holland. Means is returning to action for the first time in nearly a year as he looks to improve on a three-fight win streak. He’s scored wins over Laureano Staropoli, Mike Perry and Nicolas Dalby during that run, all by decision, but he’s hoping to score his first finish since December 2019 in this one. Means has always been a consistent fighter that the promotion can rely on to have fun fights and he’s fought big names like Jorge Masvidal, Matt Brown, Thiago Alves and Belal Muhammad during his 24-fight UFC career. Holland is fighting for the second time since making his move down to 170 lbs., and he looked re-invigorated in his welterweight debut in March. He survived some tough moments but was able to score a second-round finish of Alex Oliveira at UFC 272. Holland joined the roster as a short-notice opponent for Thiago Santos in August 2018, a fight which he lost, but Holland then won eight of his next nine fights to become a contender at middleweight, a division everyone was saying he was too small for. He then went winless in his next three fights, which finally led to him dropping down to welterweight. Holland has scored 18 of his 22 wins by stoppage.

How they match up: Welterweight matches up with Holland much better than middleweight ever did, and his advantages will come out even more as he gets more comfortable at the weight. He is long and powerful for 170 lbs., and he’s going to have a six-inch reach advantage over Means. That’s a big factor as Means usually likes to utilize his solid length and range. Means is durable and violent as he likes to clinch with opponents and tear them up with elbows. He hasn’t shown signs of slowing down despite getting near the age of 40, but he’s also coming in having not fought in a year, while Holland is used to activity. Means is the more technical striker of the two, but Holland is going to have a big speed and power advantage on the feet. Means should look into perhaps making this a wrestling battle as that is where Holland has notoriously struggled. However, Holland held his own with Oliveira on the mat, and with his speed and reach on the feet, it’s likely he plants Means on the mat at some point. Means has good durability, but he can be finished, and Holland is the type of fighter who has all of the skills to do so. It could end up a violent affair, but Holland putting Means to sleep looks to be a likely outcome.

What’s at stake: Holland found himself as a potential title contender at 185 lbs. before his slide, but he’s found new life at welterweight and a win would make it two straight at 170 lbs. and he could be looking at a run at the rankings and title contention in the new division. He’s a very entertaining, popular and charismatic fighter, and a win over a veteran like Means would be a very solid win. A win for Means would make it four straight, and while he has never been looked at as someone who would fight for a UFC title one day, he could get himself ranked and in the mix with a win here. It’s his chance to break out of a gatekeeper role. This is a big fight for both and it should be an entertaining fight.

Pick: Holland

Middleweights- Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev

Official Records: Buckley 14-4, Duraev 15-3
UFC Records: Buckley 4-2, Duraev 1-0
Last Fight: Buckley def. Alhassan–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 59 (2/19/22), Duraev def. Kopylov–UDec–UFC 267 (10/30/21)
Last Five Fights: Buckley 4-1, Duraev 5-0
Betting Odds: Buckley +190, Duraev -225
Background: A middleweight bout pitting a viral sensation against a tough test takes place here as Buckley looks to continue his winning ways and end the long win streak of his opponent, Duraev. Buckley is looking to extend his two-fight win streak in this one, and he’s won four of his last five overall. He’s coming off a split decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan in February in a fight he showed lots of improvement in. It was also the first time Buckley has gone the distance inside the Octagon. Buckley has scored ten of his 14 wins by knockout, including the viral spin kick knockout of Impa Kasanganay in October 2020. Duraev will be fighting for the second time since earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in September with a first-round submission of Caio Bittencourt. He made a quick turnaround to make his UFC debut in October at UFC 267, where scored a unanimous decision win over Roman Kopylov. That marked his tenth straight win. He’s scored 12 of his 15 wins by finish, with three knockouts and nine submissions.

How they match up: After his early knockout finishes, Buckley found himself on the wrong end of a knockout, and he’s showed a more patient offensive attack since then. He also showed off his wrestling in his fight against Alhassan, and he’s going to need to have it at a high level here against Duraev, who is a strong wrestler in his own right. Duraev does have a crushing wrestling game and he likes to stay active, but his UFC debut against Kopylov saw him struggle on the feet with Kopylov’s striking, plus he got exhausted during that 15 minutes. Buckley is more athletic, more skilled and has more power on his feet than Kopylov has, and he mixes things more often. With Duraev not being all that comfortable on the feet, Buckley has the chance to land something that finishes him. Duraev has to get to this to the mat and establish dominance on the mat, and Buckley doesn’t have the strongest takedown defense. If Buckley can weather the wrestling storm of Duraev and gas him out, I can see Buckley finishing it late. Duraev is the betting favorite, but I like Buckley’s chances in this one and am going with him to score the upset after he wears Duraev down.

What’s at stake: Buckley’s recent run is moving him up the middleweight ladder and another win could see him fighting a ranked opponent next. It would also end the long win streak of Duraev should he win, but Duraev is a solid opponent. Buckley is still young and has potential so a loss wouldn’t kill him, but it might keep him from ever contending. Duraev is 33-years-old and just now in his second UFC appearance, so if he wants to fight for a title, he needs to make a run as quickly as possible and fight often. A win helps that, but a loss may halt any title shot aspirations before they even begin.

Pick: Buckley

Lightweights- Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze

Official Records: Ismagulov 23-1, Kutateladze 12-2
UFC Records: Ismagulov 4-0, Kutateladze 1-0
Last Fight: Ismagulov def. Alves–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 46 (5/22/21), Kutateladze def. Gamrot–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20)
Last Five Fights: Ismagulov 5-0, Kutateladze 5-0
Betting Odds: Ismagulov -175, Kutateladze +150
Background: A lightweight battle between two European prospects on long win streaks takes place here as Ismagulov takes on Kutateladze in one of the more interesting fights on the card. Ismagulov comes into this fight on an outstanding 18-fight win streak, which includes a 4-0 start to his UFC career. He’s been one of those guys that other lightweights have tried to avoid fighting, and for good reason given his impressive record. He’s scored wins over Alex Gorgees, Joel Alvarez, Thiago Moises and Rafael Alves during his UFC run, though all of them have been by decision, so he’s looking for his first UFC finish. Kutateladze will only be stepping inside the Octagon for the second time, but he’s also on an impressive win streak as he’s won nine straight fights. He hasn’t fought since October 2020, when he scored a split decision win over Mateusz Gamrot in his lone UFC outing, which is a great win considering Gamrot is now ranked and headlining a UFC card next weekend. Kutateladze has scored eight of his 12 career wins by finish, with seven by knockout.

How they match up: Ismagulov is a master of sports in hand-to-hand combat, meaning he can kickbox just as good as he can wrestle. Kutateladze is an athletic fighter with great striking and solid takedown defense, and he has all of the tools necessary to negate any of Ismagulov’s offensive attacks. He’s also been out of action for a long time and we don’t know if ring rust will be a factor. Ismagulov does look to be the more well-rounded fighter of the two so Kutateladze is going to need to be the one who is aggressive and pushing the pace. Kutateladze is going to have to have his takedown defense at a high level. He was taken down five times by Gamrot and Ismagulov will be after the takedowns, especially as they clinch and go against the fence. It’s going to be a high-level affair and isn’t getting the recognition it should for being a solid match-up. I see Ismagulov getting the nod in this one with the takedowns being the deciding factor.

What’s at stake: A pair of long win streaks are on the line. Ismagulov is creeping close to twenty straight wins, a rarity in the sport, but he needs two wins to get there. A win also moves Ismagulov closer to the rankings and opportunities to fight ranked opponents. Kutateladze is looking to make it ten straight, and he already holds a win over a ranked opponent, so ending Ismagulov’s 18-fight win streak could get him another ranked opponent next. Someone’s win streak is ending, which makes this a big fight for both.

Pick: Ismagulov

Middleweights- Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues

Official Records: Marquez 9-2, Rodrigues 11-4
UFC Records: Marquez 3-1, Rodrigues 2-1
Last Fight: Marquez def. Alvey–R2 SUB–UFC On ABC 2 (4/10/21), Petrosyan def. Rodrigues–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 60 (2/26/22)
Last Five Fights: Marquez 4-1, Rodrigues 4-1
Betting Odds: Marquez +150, Rodrigues -175
Background: A middleweight bout kicks off the main card as the popular Marquez returns from a length layoff to take on replacement Rodrigues. Marquez was originally slated to fight Wellington Turman on this card, but Turman was forced out, and in stepped Rodrigues. Marquez fights for the first time in 14 months as he looks to score his third straight wins. He scored submission wins over Maki Pitolo and Sam Alvey in early 2021, which came following a 31-month layoff due to injuries and complications. He’s had two fights cancelled during his most recent time off, but he’s looking to improve upon his 3-1 UFC record. All three of his UFC wins have come by submission, while all six of his pre-UFC wins have come by knockout. Rodrigues comes into this fight looking to get back into the win column. He debuted on short notice in June 2021 and has fought three times since, so he’s been active. He debuted with a decision win over Dusko Todorovic in June 2021, and followed it with a second-round knockout over Jun Yong Park in October. He dropped a decision to Armen Petrosyan in February, ending a four-fight win streak. He’s scored nine of his eleven career wins by stoppage.

How they match up: These are two big middleweights and Marquez, especially, likes to physically impose his size on his opponents. He does take some damage during fights and Rodrigues has a lot of power while also being technical and durable. He does have a grappling background, making this match-up with Marquez interesting as Marquez also likes to grapple. Rodrigues likes to be aggressive, but so does Marquez and Marquez might be the more aggressive fighter of the two when it comes to get-in-your-face pressure. Rodrigues might look to take Marquez down and Marquez doesn’t have the best takedown defense, but he is always looking for the submission on the ground and is dangerous there. Rodrigues, though, is talented enough to keep from getting submitted. I see the ground game wearing both of them out on the mat, so it’ll come down to who can land something big on the feet. I think that’ll be Marquez. We’ve seen him knock guys out when both are tired, but that was all pre-UFC, though the fight with Phil Hawes on the Contender Series was a reminder. I see Marquez getting a knockout as both are tired.

What’s at stake: Marquez has some personality and is a fun interview, especially when he wins, so a post-fight victory interview would be welcomed. He also wants to show that the injuries haven’t slowed him down and that he can make a run at middleweight, and three straight wins would show he’s ready for stiffer competition. A win for Rodrigues would get him back in the win column and move him to 3-1 in his UFC tenure, while a loss would move him to 2-2 and raise some questions about getting a fifth UFC outing. This is a big fight for both to move up the middleweight ladder.

Pick: Marquez


Preliminary Card
Start Time: 4 p.m. ET, 1 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN News & ESPN+

Bantamweights- Adrian Yanez vs. Tony Kelley

Official Records: Yanez 15-3, Kelley 8-2
UFC Records: Yanez 4-0, Kelley 2-1
Last Fight: Yanez def. Grant–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 56 (11/20/21), Kelley def. Costa–R2 TKO–UFC 269 (12/11/21)
Last Five Fights: Yanez 5-0, Kelley 3-2
Betting Odds: Yanez -285, Kelley +240
Background: A bantamweight bout highlights the preliminary portion of the card as Yanez looks to continue his surge up the bantamweight ladder against a man who’s been in the news for the wrong kinds of reasons in Kelley. Yanez has had a strong start to his UFC career after being signed off of Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2020. He’s won four straight since signing his UFC deal, with knockout wins over Victor Rodriguez, Gustavo Lopez and Randy Costa, and a decision win over Davey Grant in his last fight in November. He’s won performance bonuses in all four fights, and has an overall win streak of eight straight. He’s quickly establishing himself as a potential contender and a fan favorite. Kelley enters this fight on a two-fight win streak after scoring wins over Ali AlQaisi in October 2020 and Randy Costa in December. Those were a bounce back from suffering a loss in his UFC debut to Kai Kamaka in August 2020. Kelley has only ten +lately due to comments he made about Viviane Araujo while cornering Andrea Lee in their fight last month, which have put him in an awful light coming into this fight.

How they match up: Yanez is a powerful boxer who has no issues with starting slow and looking to get into a rhythm on the feet. Once he does, he’s as dangerous as anyone in the bantamweight division. His chin is also very strong and he has the willingness to get into brawls with confidence he’s going to come out on the good side of it. Kelley is dangerous, but he’s also wild on his feet and doesn’t tend to land as much as Yanez. He likes to brawl as much as Yanez does, but he should also look to utilize the clinch and wrestling like he did in his December win over Costa. Yanez does have good takedown defense and has yet to be taken down inside the Octagon, but his opponents haven’t necessarily tried all that hard, either. Kelley should look to take advantage of Yanez if he starts slow, especially with lead leg kicks, but Yanez has motivation to knock Kelley out quickly seeing as he’s looking to make Kelley suffer for the comments he’s made. If Yanez fights smart and not reckless due to that, he’s going to finish Kelley early. I think he does no matter what, and then it’ll be time to get him stiffer competition.

What’s at stake: Yanez has vowed to make Kelley pay for the comments he made about Araujo and is eager to knock him out quickly. A win for Yanez would move him to 5-0 during his UFC tenure and he’d be knocking on the door to the rankings and ranked opposition. A loss would kill his momentum, but he’s young and talented enough to gain it back. I do believe Kelley needs a win here. It’s his fourth UFC fight, which generally means the last fight on a first deal, and I haven’t heard he’d been extended. If he hasn’t, and he suffers a loss, I could see them just moving on, especially considering his comments about Araujo and subsequent follow up trying to play the victim in it all. He’s in a must win situation.

Pick: Yanez

Women’s Flyweights- Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva

Official Records: Jasudavicius 7-1, Silva 12-5-1
UFC Records: Jasudavicius 1-0, Silva 0-0
Last Fight: Jasudavicius def. Hansen–UDec–UFC 270 (1/22/22), Silva def. Mara–R4 SUB–Jungle Fight 100 (12/28/19)
Last Five Fights: Jasudavicius 4-1, Silva 5-0
Betting Odds: Jasudavicius -230, Silva +195
Background: A women’s flyweight bout takes place on the prelims as Jasudavicius makes her second walk to the Octagon and welcomes Silva for her UFC debut. Jasudavicius was signed during the 2021 edition of Dana White’s Contender Series and made her big Octagon debut in January, scoring a decision win over Kay Hansen at UFC 270. That marked her third straight win, and she’s won seven of her eight career fights overall. She got a late start to her career, not even turning professional until she was 30, so she’s looking to rack up some wins quickly to get into title contention. Silva is making her off a long layoff as she hasn’t competed since December 2019. She was signed to a UFC deal in 2020 and expected to make her debut in January 2021 in Abu Dhabi, but she had to pull out due to injury and it’ll be nearly 30 months between fights when she steps inside the Octagon. She enters her debut on a six-fight win streak and has scored ten of her 12 career wins by stoppage, with three knockouts and seven submissions.

How they match up: Jasudavicius is a tall and lanky flyweight and she’ll have three inches in height and reach over Silva. This looks to be a grappling battle as both women are skilled on the ground but are still developing on the feet. Jasudavicius lands about four significant strikes per minute, but her striking defense is good. She does user her punches and kicks to set up takedowns, though. Silva appears well-rounded but her skill on the feet is lacking compared to her skill on the mat. She’s also had such a long time off that it’s unclear if improvements were made, but she’s still just 25. Jasudavicius will likely drag her to the mat and Silva does like to look for armbars, but those are also hard to find from the bottom when you’re consistently on defense. It’s going to be top pressure for Jasudavicius that leads her to a decision.

What’s at stake: Jasudavicius got a late start to her career and is already 33-years-old, so if she has aspirations of becoming a UFC champion, she needs to make a run quick. A win here would see her move up the ladder a little bit at 125 lbs., while a loss likely means she might not ever make it to title contention. Silva is an interesting prospect who is young and has plenty of room to grow, and it’ll be interesting to see what she displays in her debut. It’s hard to get a read on where she is headed, but she’ll be sticking around for a bit.

Pick: Jasudavicius

Welterweights- Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells

Official Records: McGee 21-10, Wells 10-2-1
UFC Records: McGee 10-9, Wells 2-0
Last Fight: McGee def. Brahimaj–UDec–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22), Wells def. Diamond–R1 SUB–UFC 271 (2/12/22)
Last Five Fights: McGee 2-3, Wells 4-1
Betting Odds: McGee -120, Wells +100
Background: A former TUF winner and long-time veteran in McGee looks to add to an impressive string of wins as he battles rising contender Wells in this tough welterweight match-up. McGee, the winner of season eleven of The Ultimate Fighter way back in 2010, has seen a career resurgence over the last year as he enters this fight riding a two-fight win streak. Both have been by decision, seeing him defeat Claudio Silva and Ramiz Brahimaj, but it bounced him back from a run where he went 3-7 over the span of ten fights. McGee is still in search of his first stoppage since UFC 121 way back in October 2010. Wells has looked impressive thus far during his two UFC outings as he’s coming off back-to-back finishes of Warlley Alves and Blood Diamond, who he submitted in the first round at UFC 271 in February in his last fight. Wells has won four straight overall, and seven of his last eight. Eight of his ten wins have been by finish, with an equal four knockouts and submissions.

How they match up: If it felt like McGee was on his way out of the promotion in late 2020, it doesn’t feel that way any longer with his recent outings. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in durability and a fundamental approach. His power won’t scare you, but he lands with a lot of volume. It’s that volume and pressure that he uses to find takedowns, and he can dominate from the top. Wells is an aggressive fighter with power in his hands and a solid jiu-jitsu game. He is also a little bit wild on the feet and McGee can certainly exploit that with well-timed takedowns should he get too wild on the feet. McGee doesn’t quite take a punch like he used to, but, at the same time, he’s only been finished once in his career, and that was over six years ago. He is as tough and durable as they come and he should be able to weather any early storm against Wells. Wells could certainly finish him, but McGee’s experience, grit and durability will see him maybe lose the first round, but end up with the decision on the scorecards.

What’s at stake: McGee wants to show he’s got plenty of fight left in him, and should he get by this fight with relatively no damage, perhaps a quick turnaround to fight in his home state of Utah in August could be in order. He’s got such a great story and is someone who will stick around as long as he wants to and is a good veteran name for cards like this. Wells has potential, but time isn’t on his side when it comes to being a title contender. He needs a quick win here, and then a few others, if he wants to fight for UFC gold, as he is 35-years-old. A loss would likely crush any hopes of that. And McGee is nicknamed “The Crusher” for good reason.

Pick: McGee

Featherweights- Ricardo Ramos vs. Danny Chavez

Official Records: Ramos 15-4, Chavez 11-4-1
UFC Records: Ramos 6-3, Chavez 1-1-1
Last Fight: Tukhugov def. Ramos–UDec–UFC 267 (10/30/21), Chavez DRAW Kamaka–UFC On ESPN 28 (7/31/21)
Last Five Fights: Ramos 3-2, Chavez 3-1-1
Betting Odds: Ramos -280, Chavez +235
Background: A battle of featherweights both looking to get back into the win column takes place here as Ramos and Chavez square off. Ramos steps inside the Octagon for the first time in 2022 as he looks to rebound from a decision loss to Zubaira Tukhugov in October at UFC 267. After starting his career off with a 9-1 record leading to his UFC signing, he scored three wins to start his UFC career. However, he’s gone just 3-3 over his last six outings. Ten of his 15 career wins have seen him score a finish. Chavez is also making his first UFC appearance of 2022 as he returns from a near eleven-month layoff. He was last in action in July where he went to a draw with Kai Kamaka in his third UFC outing. That followed a decision win over TJ Brown in his UFC debut in August 2020, and a decision loss to Jared Gordon in February 2021. He is looking to score his fourth career finish.

How they match up: After starting his UFC run off impressively, Ramos has seemingly hit a wall with his .500 record over his last six fights. He’s still an effective striker on his feet with a great ground game. He’s just seemingly struggled in a way not many expected him to. Chavez has knockout power in his hands and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and he likes a takedown-heavy strategy. He’s going to be giving up five inches in reach to Ramos, so getting inside the pocket for the takedown attempts might be difficult and we could see a lot of shooting from long distances. He doesn’t have the speed on the feet to match Ramos, nor the overall athleticism, and he’ll likely eat some long-range punches from Ramos. With all of the advantages he has, I see Ramos tagging Chavez and scoring a finish to get himself back on track.

What’s at stake: This really is a must-win fight for both as their futures could ride on the result of the fight here. I think Ramos is safe with a loss, but that’s far from a guarantee. Chavez is likely on the final fight of his deal, and a loss would mean just one win in his first four UFC fights, which likely means a non-renewal of his contract. He’s got more on the line here is definitely in a must-win fight here.

Pick: Ramos

Women’s Strawweights- Maria Oliveira vs. Gloria de Paula

Official Records: Oliveira 12-5, de Paula 6-4
UFC Records: Oliveira 0-1, de Paula 1-2
Last Fight: Ricci def. Oliveira–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21), de Paula def. Belbita–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 59 (2/19/22)
Last Five Fights: Oliveira 2-3, de Paula 3-2
Betting Odds: Oliveira +220, de Paula -260
Background: A battle of strawweights takes place here as Oliveira is searching for her first UFC win while de Paula is gunning for her second UFC win. Oliveira will be fighting inside the Octagon for the second time as she’s coming in off a loss in her debut to Tabatha Ricci in October. It ended her two-fight win streak, and she is just 2-3 over her last five fights after starting her career with a solid 10-2 record. She has scored eight wins by stoppage, with seven knockouts and a submission. de Paula is in search of her second straight win as she heads into this fight. She was signed off of Dana White’s Contender Series in November 2020, but suffered two straight losses to start her UFC career, coming to Jinh Yu Frey and Cheyanne Vlismas. She rebounded with a decision win over Diana Belbita in February for her sixth career win. She has three knockouts in those six wins.

How they match up: Both women like to let it play out on the feet and are relatively high-volume strikers. de Paula does land slightly more on the feet and is more accurate. Oliveira gets hit more often and de Paula has solid defense on the feet. Oliveira might have the athletic advantage here and looks to be the heavier hitter. When it comes to the grappling and the ground work, both are, to put it frankly, awful on the mat. They could end up there off of wild exchanges where neither lands and some clinch work, but it’s hard to say. de Paula does like to push the pace and is the more aggressive fighter. There’s plenty of room for improvement for both women, and this doesn’t feel like a fight that should be on this stage, but it is. I like de Paula to get the better of it on the feet to score the win.

What’s at stake: To be perfectly honest, both look like they’re in the UFC too early. de Paula is still only 24-years-old and has shown potential, but she was signed quickly based off a fun fight on the Contender Series and at a time when she wasn’t ready. It was odd that Oliveira was signed when she was on a 2-2 run because she could’ve used a couple more wins to get to this point. The winner is obviously going to continue on, but I could see the loser back on the regional scene to get some wins and momentum towards being brought back in the future.

Pick: de Paula

Bantamweights- Eddie Wineland vs. Cody Stamann

Official Records: Wineland 24-15-1, Stamann 19-5-1
UFC Records: Wineland 6-9, Stamann 5-4-1
Last Fight: Castaneda def. Wineland–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 43 (2/20/21), Nurmagomedov def. Stamann–R1 SUB–UFC 270 (1/22/22)
Last Five Fights: Wineland 1-4, Stamann 1-3-1
Betting Odds: Wineland +400, Stamann -500
Background: One of the original UFC bantamweights that came over from WEC, the original WEC Bantamweight Champion, looks to continue his long career as Wineland battles former ranked bantamweight Stamann in an interesting fight. Wineland is continuing a career that saw him debut in 2003, but the wars have caught up to him as he hasn’t been as active in recent years, fighting just once in each of the last five calendar years. He hasn’t fought since February 2021, where he suffered a first-round knockout loss to John Castaneda, his fourth loss in his last five fights. Wineland once fought for an interim UFC title, but is just 4-6 since that title fight loss to Renan Barao at UFC 165 in September 2013. He has fought some of the best bantamweights there’s been to offer, and he has scored 19 of his 24 wins by stoppage. Stamann comes into this fight looking to end a string of bad luck and get back into the win column. He was signed to a UFC deal in 2017, and he started his UFC run off with three straight impressive wins. He then suffered a loss to now champion Aljamain Sterling, but went unbeaten in his next three fights, with two wins and a draw. However, he comes into this fight on a three-fight losing skid and is looking to rebound from a submission loss to Said Nurmagomedov in just 47 seconds at UFC 270 in January.

How they match up: While many have thought Wineland has been on the brink of retirement for a few years, he’s shown that he still wants to compete. He still has some snap on his punches and some power, but he can no longer match the speed of the young bantamweights, and his chin is starting to fade. Stamann hasn’t scored a finish during his UFC career and he doesn’t appear to be someone who will knock Wineland out with one shot like has happened in his last two fights, but Stamann does have solid footwork and a strong wrestling game to keep Wineland away from being able to hit him. Stamann likes to land the lead leg kick to set up the takedown, and while Wineland has a strong 86% takedown defense rate, there are questions whether he still has it. Plus, Stamann is a strong bantamweight who likes to use his physical advantages when he has them, and he will here. It’s hard to pick Wineland at this stage, and this feels like a chance for Stamann to use his grinding style to pick out a decision win.

What’s at stake: I feel like this is the end of the road for whomever loses this fight. It’s kind of surprising Wineland hasn’t walked away considering his skid, the nature of the losses, and his overall inactivity. It feels like they’re letting him go on his own terms, and another loss here likely signals the end. A win, though, and who knows what is next. For Stamann, he is in a must-win situation. After starting his UFC career off with just one loss in his first seven fights, a fourth straight loss here would likely signal a release back to the regional scene. He needs this one badly.

Pick: Stamann

Middleweights- Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn

Official Records: Hawes 11-3, Winn 7-2
UFC Records: Hawes 3-1, Winn 2-2
Last Fight: Curtis def. Hawes–R1 KO–UFC 268 (11/6/21), Winn def. Arroyo–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 41 (12/19/20)
Last Five Fights: Hawes 4-1, Winn 3-2
Betting Odds: Hawes -265, Winn +215
Background: Perhaps the third time will be the charm for this one as Hawes and Winn are matched up yet again in this middleweight bout that has been cursed. They’ve been scheduled to fight twice before, but Winn has been forced out both times, and they’ll try this one more time. Hawes is looking to rebound from a loss in his last fight, which came to Chris Curtis in the first round at UFC 268 in November. That marked an end to Hawes’ seven-fight win streak, which included three straight wins to start his UFC career. Hawes has scored nine of his eleven wins by finish, with seven coming by knockout. Winn is returning to action for the first time since December 2020 where he scored a decision win over Antonio Arroyo. That ended a two-fight losing skid he was on, which came after a 6-0 start to his career, which included a win over Eric Spicely in his UFC debut. This will only be the tenth fight of his career, and he’s scored knockouts in four of his seven wins.

How they match up: Winn is extremely short for the middleweight division, but he’s pretty stocky. Hawes is going to have advantages of six inches in height and seven inches in reach. Despite his size discrepancy, Winn likes to throw with high volume and he is a fantastic wrestler. You can’t let him get inside the pocket on you as he will get you down. However, he doesn’t have a massive wrestling advantage over Hawes, who has yet to be taken down in his UFC career, and his best shot is likely to catch Hawes with a big overhand right. Hawes has a chin that can be cracked and his durability has been the lone question mark for him. Hawes does have solid kickboxing and a great wrestling game, and he’s been getting better each time out. His conditioning is a question, but, really, so is the conditioning of Winn. Hawes is also very accurate on his feet with his shots. I think the size is going to be too much for Winn, though the chance to land a punch that ends it is there. I don’t see it happening, and instead for Hawes to win a grinding affair in a fight that could’ve been better than it ends up being.

What’s at stake: The winner is going to find themselves in a solid fight in their next fight, while the loser will remain on the roster, but likely be put in a must-win fight. This fight will really show whether Hawes or Winn has the ability to break out and truly become a threat to becoming ranked and possibly being a title contender. This is a big fight for both as far as breaking into a different echelon of the middleweight division.

Pick: Hawes

Middleweights- Roman Dolidze vs. Kyle Daukaus

Official Records: Dolidze 9-1, Daukaus 11-2 1 NC
UFC Records: Dolidze 3-1, Daukaus 2-2 1 NC
Last Fight: Dolidze def. Staropoli–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 47 (6/5/21), Daukaus def. Pickett–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 59 (2/19/22)
Last Five Fights: Dolidze 4-1, Daukaus 2-2 1 NC
Betting Odds: Dolidze +200, Daukaus -240
Background: A middleweight bout that could easily be higher on the card instead is the opening fight in Austin, and a real testament to how deep this card actually is, as Dolidze and Daukaus both look to remain in the win column. Dolidze returns to action for the first time in a year as he’s looking for his second straight win after scoring a decision over Laureano Staropoli in June 2021. That rebounded him from the lone loss of his career, which followed two wins to start his UFC run. He’s scored seven of his nine wins by stoppage. Daukaus is also looking for his second straight win after getting back into the win column with a submission win over Jamie Pickett with one second left in the first round in February. Daukaus started his career off 9-0, which led to his UFC signing, but his first four outings saw some weird stuff. He lost to Brendan Allen and Phil Hawes, beat Dustin Stoltzfus, and had a no contest with Kevin Holland. He’s looking to add to his nine submissions in this one.

How they match up: While the placement of the fight seems strange, I get it because Dolidze has been in some strange fights and some that are pretty unwatchable. He’s skilled, but he doesn’t seem to live up to it and you just don’t know which Dolidze is going to show up. He throws weird stuff on the feet but can control with his wrestling. Daukaus is a strong wrestler who has a strong submission game, but Dolidze is an ADCC qualifier and he has good submissions as well. Daukaus has a large frame for middleweight being a former heavyweight, but his footwork is slow. Luckily for him, Dolidze doesn’t move all that quickly. Daukaus tends to be more active on the feet than Dolidze does, and he can win the grappling battles. He’s also more consistent than Dolidze, who hasn’t shown to be able to put a solid overall 15 minutes in. This could be very boring, but I see Daukaus controlling both the striking and the grappling in getting a decision.

What’s at stake: Honestly, if Dolidze loses this and has a bad showing and it’s a boring fight, I would cut bait with him. He’s got an impressive record, but he doesn’t live up to it and he should be better, but he’s advertised better than he actually is. He just doesn’t seem to bring much to the table. Daukaus is in more need of a win and he looked like he could be a threat to be ranked, but he’s lost some fights to solid competition. A win here gets him back at a certain level where he’ll be close to fighting some really good middleweights.

Pick: Daukaus

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