This weekend we’ve got in all probability the most stacked card of 2021. Dana White has served up a treat for fight fans with three world title fights including a headlining champion vs champion bout between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya is moving up from Middleweight and vying to become the 5th UFC fighter to achieve simultaneous Champ-Champ status. Standing in his way is the Legendary Polish Power of Jan Blachowicz.
We’ve also got the Women’s MMA GOAT Amanda Nunes defending her Women’s Featherweight title and the long awaited Bantamweight matchup between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling. Not to mention some incredible non-title bouts right down to the start of the prelims. So that’s where we’ll start, so strap yourselves in!
Rogerio Bontorin vs Kai Kara-France
First up we have a Flyweight bout between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Bontorin and Israel Adesanya’s City kickboxing team mate Kara-France. Kara-France’s most recent performance against Brandon Royval was rather disappointing and halted any momentum the Kiwi wanted to build. On the flipside Bontorin is also coming off an underwhelming loss against former title challenger Ray Borg. This is a must win for both men and I’m going to ride with Kara-France with his fast pace to be enough to pick up the UD.
Kai Kara-France via Unanimous Decision
Joseph Benavidez vs Askar Askarov
Joe Jitsu is looking to bounce back after his brutal loss to Deiveson Figueiredo in his 4th defeat in a UFC title fight, an unwanted UFC record for the veteran. He’s up against Askar Askarov who is notable as being the only deaf fighter on the UFC roster. He also has the unfortunate tag of being the only fighter on the card to miss weight, so he’ll forfeiting a significant portion of his fight purse. This is a classic case of can the veteran still hang at the top of the division or will a new top tier contender emerge. Unfortunately, I still think the top of the flyweight division is quite thin and Joey Benavidez will offer too much for Askarov.
Joseph Benavidez via Unanimous Decision
Song Yadong vs Kyler Phillips
Song Yadong is a Team Alpha Male Wonderkid who has gone 5-0-1 thus far in his UFC career. At 23 years of age, he already has 22 pro fights which is absolutely ludicrous. Kyler Phillips will come to fight and this could be a sleeper for fight of the night. Unfortunately for him though, I feel Yadong’s fight I.Q and power will be too much on the night. Look for Song to take a decent step up in competition after this win.
Song Yadong via 2nd Round TKO
Dominick Cruz vs Casey Kenney
This is tough. Cruz is clearly the better fighter on paper, he’s is to most fans the greatest Bantamweight of all time but he shockingly hasn’t won a fight since 2016. Granted since then he’s fought the best version of Cody Garbrandt we’ve ever seen and Triple C himself, Henry Cejudo. This is a fight in his prime Cruz would dominate (Pun most certainly intended) in routine fashion on his way to a 30-27 UD. As MMA tends to go though, the downslope of a fighter’s career plays out in front of our eyes and this could it be it for Dom. Kenney is a formidable competitor who will most likely be a ranked fighter in the division for years to come. Until I see the evidence though that Dom is well and truly past his prime, I’m going to stick with the former two-time champ.
Dominick Cruz via Unanimous decision
Thiago Santos vs Aleksandar Rakic
This should be fun. I’d be willing to hear an argument for either fighter on this one. Both men certainly have multiple routes to victory. On his day Santos is one of the most terrifying men in the sport, with almost unparalleled power for the LHW division. Rakic has been incredibly impressive in his UFC run so far. Dropping only a split decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir, which many, myself included believed he won. With that being said, I’m going take Rakic. Santos’ performance against Glover Teixeira worried me. He was a threat early on but once he’d expended his energy trying to get the finish he was easy pickings for Glover. Rakic will bide his time a bit more and if he can avoid the early barrage, he’ll be getting his hand raised after a finish in the latter rounds.
Aleksandar Rakic via 3rd Round TKO
Islam Makhachev vs Drew Dober
Islam is known throughout the MMA world as the protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’ll be looking to step out of the shadow of the “The Eagle” on Saturday though with a win over the always entertaining Drew Dober. Dober always a willing scrapper, will give Islam a fight without a doubt and I’m sure the Russian will not be leaving the octagon unscathed. At the end of the day though, this is seen as somewhat of a tune up fight for Islam, before he moves on to the upper echelons of the Lightweight division. So I’m going to with the narrative the UFC hopes plays out and take Makhachev to get the finish.
Islam Makhachev via 2nd Round Submission
Petr Yan (C) vs Aljamain Sterling
Styles make figths and this is a classic clash of styles between the two consensus top Bantamweight contenders in the world right now. Petr Yan’s ferocious striking has seen him steamroll his opponents in each of his UFC bouts so far. Including brutal finishes of Hall of Famer’s José Aldo and Urijah Faber. The Russian provides constant forward pressure and will without a doubt be the biggest striking threat that Sterling has faced. We’ve seen in previous fights Sterling is hittable most notably with the highlight reel knee by Marlon Moraes. Sterling will have to make sure his takedowns are carefully set up to avoid a repeat of that. Of course, whilst Yan will be the best striker Sterling has faced, Sterling is also the best grappler Yan has faced.
It’s a case of which style will come out on top. We’re yet to see Yan against a top tier grappler and this worries me. He’s had a nice run to the title facing predominantly strikers that he matches up well against. Yan’s takedown defence and counter striking will need to be on point to retain his belt here. After Sterling’s unbelievable performance against Cory Sandhagen I’m going to take Funkmaster to be crowned the new Bantamweight champ. I’m just not confident in Yan’s ground game if Sterling is able to take this one to the ground and expect him to grab the sub midway through the fight.
Aljamain Sterling via 3rd Round Submission
Amanda Nunes (C) vs Megan Anderson
Trying not to be disrespectful to Megan Anderson here but Amanda Nunes is the greatest Female Mixed Martial Artist of all time. Unless your name is Valentina Shevchenko, I don’t see anyone troubling Nunes for the remainder of her career. Anderson could get some work in here, she certainly has the reach advantage but Nunes game is just too well rounded for anyone else in the division and I’d be mystified if we see anything other than “and still” this weekend.
Amanda Nunes via whatever she wants
Jan Blachowicz (C) vs Israel Adesanya
The one we’re all looking forward to. Will Jan Blachowicz prove that weight classes exist for a reason or can Israel Adesanya continue his meteoric rise to superstardom and become a two weight world champion. Jan is on a tear at the moment, dispatching his latest opponents in dramatic fashion. His Legendary Polish Power is no joke, it’s for real.
Israel on the other hand is regarded by many as the most talented striker in the game. Mixing is creative punches and kicks with matrix like defence. He’s been a force to be reckoned with in his relatively short run in the UFC so far and his still yet to taste defeat in his MMA career.
Jan clearly has the ability to catch Izzy and shut his lights out. This though will be something the City Kickboxing team headed up by Eugene Berman will be very wary of. I expect Izzy to use his reach to keep Jan at distance and pepper him with kicks in the early stages of the fight, reducing his mobility for the latter stages of the fight. This is when we’ll see Izzy take the fight over in my opinion. Jan normally doesn’t fight at a quick pace and with his legs chopped to pieces this will give Adesanya the looks he needs to finish the fight and finish it he will. Look for Izzy to get the late finish in this one and become the latest champ-champ in UFC history. Also listen out for some choice words for Jon Jones in the immediate aftermath of the fight!