After a very successful trip to Miami this past weekend, the UFC takes a trip to Kansas City where former UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway will look to halt Arnold Allen’s run to the top of the division. In the co-main event, featherweight contender Edson Barboza looks to snap his recent losing streak by defeating Billy Quarantillo. There are plenty of other great fights on this card, so let’s get right into my picks for the week.
Fight One: Joselyne Edwards (12-4) (+115) vs Lucie Pudilova (14-7) (-135)
Winner: Lucie Pudilova by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Two: Gaston Bolanos (6-3) (-195) vs Aaron Phillips (12-4) (+160)
Winner: Gaston Bolanos by KO/TKO
Fight Three: Bruna Brasil (8-2-1) (-155) vs Denise Gomes (6-2) (+130)
Winner: Bruna Brasil
Fight Four: Lando Vannata (12-6-2) (+105) vs Daniel Zellhuber (12-1) (-125)
Winner: Lando Vannata by Decision
Fight Five: Piera Rodriguez (9-0) (+110) vs Gillian Robertson (11-7) (-130)
Winner: Piera Rodriguez by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Six: Ed Herman (24-15) (+180) vs Zak Cummings (24-7) (-220)
Winner: Zak Cummings by Submission or Decision
Fight Seven: Brandon Royval (14-6) (+180) vs Matheus Nicolau (19-2-1) (-220)
Winner: Matheus Nicolau by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Eight: TJ Brown (17-9) (+165) vs Bill Algeo (16-7) (-200)
Winner: Bill Algeo by KO/TKO or Decision
Fight Nine: Clay Guida (38-22) (+220) vs Rafa Garcia (15-3) (-275)
Winner: Rafa Garcia by Submission or Decision
The first fight on the main card is a bout between the UFC legend Clay Guida and Rafa Garcia. Even at over 40 years old, Guida proved he can still win at the UFC level by defeating Scott Holtzman his last time out, and holds wins over Leonardo Santos and Michael Johnson in his last five appearances inside the octagon. His opponent Rafa Garcia is also coming off a win in his last fight and has won three of his last five outings. Most recently, Garcia has defeated Maheshate and now looks to defeat a longtime contender in Clay Guida.
As much as I love Clay Guida, I believe his recent trend of winning one fight then losing the next, continues in this fight with Garcia. Although this could be a fun fight, it’s a fight that I am not sure makes much sense. Guida is obviously in the later stages of his career as he is 41 years old, while Garcia is looking to climb towards the division’s rankings. I was impressed with what I saw out of Garcia his last time out, and I do believe that he could eventually be fighting for a spot in the rankings, which means he should be able to get by Guida. I expect that Garcia will be able to keep up with Guida’s pace and counter Guida’s relentless pursuit with offense of his own. I am taking Garcia to win a decision in this fight, but if Guida gets too sloppy on his takedown attempts I could see him getting caught in a submission.
Fight 10: Pedro Munhoz (19-7) (+175) vs Chris Gutierrez (19-3-2) (-215)
Winner: Chris Guttierez by KO/TKO or Decision
Next up are two bantamweight contenders looking to climb the ladder of a stacked division by getting a win this Saturday night. The underdog, Pedro Munhoz, has struggled as of late with only one win in his last five fights, which was now over two years ago. After a no contest his last time out against Sean O’Malley, he looks to get back on track with a win over a rising contender. That contender will be Chris Gutierrez, who has had the opposite momentum of Munhoz recently as Gutierrez is riding a four fight win streak, most recently a vicious knee that retired Frankie Edgar. A win for either of these for either of these fighters would be a big step forward in their career as each looks to move towards the top 10.
In this bantamweight clash, I am going with the fighter carrying in more momentum, which will be Chris Gutierrez. This is a battle between two prolific leg kickers, and I expect both to use that as a centerpiece of their game plan. In terms of who lands more significant strikes, it is nearly even, but Gutierrez is more precise in his attack. Gutierrez is also better defensively, as he absorbs more than three significant strikes less per minute than Munhoz. Gutierrez is both three inches taller and holds the two-inch reach advantage, which will make it easier for him to land at distance on the feet and execute his game plan. The combination of precision and recent power from Gutierrez could prove to be enough to get the victory by stoppage, but I trust Munhoz’s chin enough to keep him from being knocked out, but I do think he will be outworked as I am taking Gutierrez to win by decision.
Fight 11: Ion Cutelaba (16-9-1) (-130) vs Tanner Boser (20-9-1) (+110)
Winner: Tanner Boser by KO/TKO
Moving into the third fight of the main card, Tanner Boser makes his UFC light heavyweight debut against Ion Cutelaba. The slight favorite in this matchup, Cutelaba, is on a three fight losing skid, all of which were losses by finish. He now looks to get back on track by giving Boser an unpleasant welcome to the Light Heavyweight Division. Boser himself has also not had an abundance of success, with losses in three of his last five fights. He has now decided to make a change and move down to light heavyweight to get a fresh start to his career.
I believe this is the right choice for Boser and I expect to come home with a win in his light heavyweight debut. Cutelaba has looked fairly awful in his recent UFC performances and when going against a fighter who is naturally large and has knockout power in a heavier division, it is hard for me to believe he can win. The only way that I can see Cutelaba winning this fight is if he gets Boser down quickly and lands vicious ground and pound strikes to end the fight by TKO. If that is not the case, I expect Cutelaba to tire quickly as he usually does and become susceptible to Boser’s strikes. I believe this will end up being pretty chaotic for as long as it lasts, but I think it will be Boser who gets the knockout late in round one or round two and comes home with the victory.
Fight 12: Dustin Jacoby (18-6-1) (-155) vs Azamat Murzakanov (12-0) (+130)
Winner: Azamat Murzakanov by KO/TKO or Decision
In the light heavyweight division, Dustin Jacoby looks to start a new win streak by handing Azamat Murzakanov his first career loss. Before losing a split decision to Khalil Rountree his last time out, which most fans believe he won, Jacoby was riding a long win streak and now looks to carry the same momentum into this fight and get back into the top 15. His opponent, Murzakanov, is undefeated thus far in his professional career and is looking to get an impressive win over Jacoby to potentially crack into the top 15 of the division.
I believe this is truly a coin flip fight, but I am siding with the unbeaten Murzakanov. This is a big step-up in competition for Murzakanov which could end up being his downfall, but I expect him to challenge Jacoby on the feet and make this fight very entertaining. If Murzakanov can implement his grappling early, it will allow for him to close the distance easier against the bigger fighter in Jacoby. As long as Murzakanov can get past the distance striking of Jacoby and his defense, I am expecting a knockout by Murzakanov, but I can definitely see a world where Jacoby walks out the winner.
Fight 13: Edson Barboza (22-11) (+140) vs Billy Quarantillo (17-4) (-165)
Winner: Billy Quarantillo by KO/TKO
The co-main event of this Saturday’s fight night should be a fun striking fest between longtime UFC veteran Edson Barboza and Billy Quarnatillo. Barboza has fought many of the best the UFC has to offer in his career, but is currently on a two fight losing streak. If Barboza wants to prove he is still the same fighter he was a few years ago, he needs the win here. Recently, Quarantillo has gone back and forth between winning and losing fights, and in his last fight he came home with a TKO victory over Alexander Hernandez and is now looking to make Barboza his next victim.
Although Barboza is a trendy upset to take, I am going with Quarantillo to take home the win. I feel as though I have seen a decline in the performance of Barboza recently, and I think that is something that Quarantillo can capitalize on. Although Barboza’s kicks are always dangerous, and he will use his low kicks to try and keep Quarantillo on the outside, I don’t think he can execute that game plan throughout the entirety of the fight. I expect that Quarantillo will be able to close the distance and either get the fight to the mat or land a combination of powerful shots that will eventually end Barboza’s night and earn Quarantillo a win by finish.
Fight 14: Max Holloway (23-7) (-165) vs Arnold Allen (19-2-1) (+140)
Winner: Max Holloway by Decision
In an absolutely thrilling main event, Max Holloway returns to the octagon to take on the rising contender Arnold Allen. One of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time returns this weekend, and I, for one, am very excited to watch this fight. In his last five fights, Max Holloway holds an unimpressive record of 2-3, but all three losses came to featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. His wins over Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez were incredibly impressive and proved that Holloway is far from finished in the division. Speaking of impressive, Arnold Allen has been on a roll and hasn’t lost a fight in nearly nine years. A win over Holloway would cement Allen as the next at a title shot in the Featherweight Division.
As impressive as Allen’s win streak has been, I believe that it will stop here, primarily due to experience. Holloway has proved time and time again that he can last through five round wars. He has one of the strongest chins in UFC history, so I don’t believe Allen is a threat to finish the fight. Along with his rock solid chin, Holloway also has an incredible gas tank that I don’t think Allen can match. Allen’s fast hands should allow for him to make at least the first two rounds of the fight interesting, but once it goes into the later stages, I expect it to be all Holloway. Allen hasn’t had to face anyone with close to the same output as Holloway, and I think it is what will be the difference in this fight. I expect Holloway to go out and outland Allen for most of the fight and earn a decision victory where he loses no more than one round.