This weekend the UFC returns to Vegas but not inside the Apex! This week, the UFC features a huge fight night that features top bantamweight contenders Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili in an incredible main event. In the co-main event, Alexander Volkov and Alexandr Romanov square off looking to move up the heavyweight ranks. Plus, Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann’s canceled main event has been rescheduled to this weekend’s card.
Main Event: Petr Yan (16-4) (-270) vs Merab Dvalishvili (15-4) (+215)
Winner: Petr Yan by Decision or KO/TKO
What a main event this is! Top three bantamweight contenders Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili square off looking to move closer to the bantamweight championship. Yan is only 2-3 in his last five octagon appearances, but is still one of the best fighters in the division. His three losses could have easily been wins as two were to Aljamain Sterling, one of which by disqualification and the other by split decision. His other loss was to Sean O’Malley by another split decision, and now he has an opportunity to end Dvalishvili’s win streak. Dvalishvili is currently riding an eight fight win streak after starting his UFC career 0-2. A win over Yan would propel Dvalishvili over Yan and earn him the number two ranking in the division.
Despite Dvalishvili being on a roll, I expect that Yan puts a halt to the momentum. It is obvious that on the feet, Yan has a definitive advantage. Against one of the best technical strikers in all of the UFC in Sean O’Malley, Yan was able to compete with him landing plenty of his own offense, and he also was able to land six takedowns. Going against someone like Dvalishvili, no matter how good your striking is, you have to be able to grapple, and Yan most certainly can. Yan also possesses incredible takedown defense which will make it hard for Dvalishvili to mount his offense, and Yan has experience in five round fights and has shown he can compete into the later rounds. Another key thing that I noticed when studying these two were their performances against Jose Aldo, although both won, Yan won much more defiantly. Dvalishvili went zero-of-16 on takedown attempts and was unable to finish Aldo, while Yan was able to out strike Aldo and take him down on only two attempts and finish the fight. I expect this to be a war, but at the end of the day, I expect Yan will come out with the victory.
Co-Main Event: Alexander Volkov (35-10) (+130) vs Alexandr Romanov (16-1) (-155)
Winner: Alexander Volkov by KO/TKO or Decision
The co-main event features a heavyweight clash between the number eight ranked Alexander Volkov and 14th ranked Alexandr Romanov. The underdog in this fight, Volkov, is coming in 3-2 in his last five appearances, with a win in his last fight over Jairzinho Rozenstruik. His other two wins were over Marcin Tybura and Alistair Overeem, with two of those wins by TKO. His opponent, Romanov was regarded as a high-potential prospect but in his last fight he lost a decision to Marcin Tybura, where he looked mediocre at best. His cardio has now become a major concern and when going against a highly ranked heavyweight it is a major cause for concern.
This is quite possibly one of my favorite underdog picks in a long time. I absolutely love Volkov in this fight, and before checking the odds I assumed Volkov would be the favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever if Romanov looks great to start the fight, but I believe his gas tank will empty early. On the feet I expect that Volkov will piece apart Romanov which will either earn him a TKO that is brought about by Romanov’s exhaustion or land enough to earn a decision.
Fight 11: Nikita Krylov (29-9) (-175) vs Ryan Spann (21-7) (+145)
Winner: Ryan Spann by KO/TKO or Submission
What was supposed to be a main event two weeks ago has now been re-booked and is still a fight to be very excited about. This was originally supposed to be held at the light heavyweight weight limit of 205 pounds but due to unforeseen circumstances the fight will now take place at a catchweight of 215 pounds. Krylov comes in on a two fight win streak and is looking to crack into the top five with another win on Saturday. Spann is on a two fight win streak of his own and is looking for his third finish in a row and a chance at a top five opponent next time out.
Two weeks I predicted that Krylov would be the one coming out on top, but now I am switching my prediction to Spann. I am very concerned with Krylov’s health after coming off a sickness two weeks ago. We have no way to know how long it took for Krylov to recover and how long he had to prepare to get back into fighting shape. With Spann being the fresher of the two fighters, as long as this fight stays on the feet, I believe his overall health and reach advantage should allow Spann to be quicker to the punch on the fight and possibly find the finish. If Krylov gets over-aggressive with his wrestling, I also believe that Spann could find a home for a guillotine choke submission. As long as Spann doesn’t become a victim to Krylov’s wrestling for the entirety of the fight, I expect the underdog to come away with the win.
Fight 10: Said Nurmagomedov (17–2) (-260) vs Jonathan Martinez (17-4) (+210)
Winner: Said Nurmagomedov by Decision or Submission
Two bantamweights on four fight win streaks look to climb higher up the ranks with a win this Saturday. Said Nurmagomedov who is currently the 14th ranked bantamweight is putting his ranking and his four fight win streak on the line against Jonathan Martinez. In his last four wins Nurmagomedov has finished three of his four opponents, including two very impressive wins by guillotine choke. As previously mentioned, Martinez is on a four fight win streak of his own and has now done enough to earn a chance at getting a ranking next to his name. His last time out, Martinez was able to finish UFC legend Cub Swanson with leg kicks and is looking to add another finish, this time over another up and comer.
Although I believe that Martinez is the better striker, I believe that Nurmagomedov’s grappling will be the key to victory. In his last fight Martinez used leg kicks on his way to victory, but I don’t think that will work as well against Nurmagomedov. If Nurmagomedov can catch his leg, he should be able to get this fight down easily. Once the fight is on the ground I expect Nurmagomedov to control it easily, and that Nurmagomedov will be hunting for a submission, especially his patented guillotine choke. If he is unable to finish the fight, I still believe his wrestling should be enough to earn the decision win.
Fight Nine: Vitor Petrino (7-0) (-105) vs Anton Turkalj (8-1) (-115)
Winner: Vitor Petrino by KO/TKO or Decision
The first fight of the main card features a light heavyweight matchup between two Dana White’s Contender Series alumni. The undefeated Vitor Petrino comes into this fight on a five fight finish streak, including a knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series to earn himself a shot in the UFC. His opponent, Anton Turkalj had his first shot in the UFC, but was unfortunately put against Jailton Almeida in his debut causing him to start 0-1 in the UFC. Now Turkalj gets a second chance to prove himself and earn his first UFC win.
This is definitely a close fight, as the odds suggest, but I will be going with Petrino to stay undefeated. On the feet this favors Petrino as he is the much more powerful and precise striker, but on the ground the advantage belongs to Turkalj. My biggest knock on Petrino before this fight was his lack of past competition, but recently, he has looked impressive against better competition. In his last two fights, Petrino has been able to knock out both the 20-8 Gadzhimurad Antigulov and the 8-1 Rodolfo Bellato. Turkalj needs to implement his wrestling against Petrino because Petrino’s power on the feet is undeniable. Petrino’s last two wins have sold me on him winning this fight, and I expect that one of his powerful strikes will land, earning him the knockout victory.
Fight Eight: Łukasz Brzeski (8-2-1) (+200) vs Karl Williams (7-1) (-250)
Winner: Karl Williams by Decision or KO/TKO
Fight Seven: Raphael Assuncao (27-9) (+115) vs Davey Grant (12-6) (-135)
Winner: Davey Grant by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Six: Sedriques Dumas (7-0) (-230) vs Josh Fremd (9-4) (+185)
Winner: Sedriques Dumas
Fight Five: Mario Bautista (11-2) (-1055) vs Guido Cannetti (10-6) (+645)
Winner: Mario Bautista
Fight Four: JJ Aldrich (11-5) (-355) vs Ariane Lipski (14-8) (+275)
Winner: JJ Aldrich by Decision
Fight Three: Tony Gravely (23-8) (+120) vs Victor Henry (22-6) (-140)
Winner: Tony Gravley by Decision or KO/TKO
Fight Two: Tyson Nam (21-12-1) (+160) vs Bruno Silva (12-5-2) (-195)
Winner: Tyson Nam by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight One: Carlston Harris (17-5) (-310) vs Jared Gooden (22-8) (+245)
Winner: Carlston Harris