UFC On FOX 23 takes place this coming Saturday night in Colorado and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Julianna Pena
This is an interesting clash of styles, with Pena being an all-action, pressure fighter, while Shevchenko is much more of a patient, methodical counter-striker.
Pena’s aggression can overwhelm opponents, but Shevchenko is an experienced striker with sound technical ability, so she could well play matador to her opponent’s bullish approach here, picking her apart with tried and tested fundamentals.
If Pena can get the fight to the mat then things could change though as she’s a strong grappler, but it’s not easy to get Shevchenko down in the first place.
Overall I think Shevchenko will be able to keep this one standing for the most part and should get the better of the striking exchanges to earn a win on the scorecards, but she needs to be careful that Pena doesn’t sway the judges with her tireless workrate.
Valentina Shevchenko to win by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Jorge Masvidal
What a fascinating fight this is between two quality lightweight veterans who are now making their impression felt in the welterweight ranks.
Moving up to 170lbs has been a revelation for ‘Cowboy’ in particular, with his striking now packing a deadlier punch (and kick!) than ever before, and together with his excellent arsenal of submissions that makes him a problem for anybody in the division.
Masvidal is also a high-level striker with an underrated ground game, and while he’s not had quite the same immediate impact at 170lbs as his opponent, going 3-2 compared to 4-0, but it’s worth noting that even in defeat he’s only been losing by split decision.
That’s part of Masvidal’s problem though – he does at times fall into the trap of trying to outfinnese and outpoint his opponents on the feet while working on the counter, rather than going all out for the finish.
In a fairly evenly matched fight like this I think that could be the difference as Cerrone will be more offensively minded and go for a stoppage if he can get it, which will play well with the judges. It’s going to be a close one though and it should be fun to watch how it all unfolds tomorrow night.
Donald Cerrone to win by decision.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Francis Ngannou
The UFC’s aging heavyweight division has been crying out for some fresh blood, and they may have found it in the shape of Francis Ngannou.
He’s not exactly a spring-chicken at 30 years of age, but by heavyweight standards that’s young, as evidenced by the fact that Arlovski is 37 and has four times as many fights as him.
Ngannou is still a developing fighter, but he shows real promise with his imposing physical presence, heavy hands and athleticism, while there’s beginning to be some signs he’s not completely out of his depth on the mat.
This is a big step up in competition for him though, and while Arlovski has a lot of miles on the clock he still has good technical striking and has the power to finish fights.
That being said, after something of a career resurgence he’s now lost three fights in a row and I think this may be Ngannou’s time to shine as he cracks Arlovski’s weakening chin and emerges with a TKO victory in the opening five minutes.
Francis Ngannou to win by TKO in Rd1.
Alex Caceres vs. Jason Knight
Promoted to the main card on short notice, Caceres and Knight get an unexpected chance to shine on ‘big’ FOX tomorrow night.
Caceres is a tricky customer to deal with due to his unorthodox striking and crafty ground work, but he’s not without his flaws, particularly in regards to wrestling, leaving him with a mediocre 7-7-1 record in the Octagon to date.
Knight is still finding his feet in the UFC with a 2-1 record to date, so it remains to be seen if he’ll make more of an impact in the division, but he has the potential to be a more potent threat here on the feet and also could exploit Caceres takedown defense deficiencies, so I’m taking him to emerge from a close fight with a decision victory.
Jason Knight to win by decision.
Prelims: (predicted winners in bold)
Sam Alvey vs. Nate Marquardt
Raphael Assuncao vs. Aljamain Sterling
Li Jingliang vs. Bobby Nash
Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Jordan Johnson
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Eric Spicely
J.C. Cottrell vs. Jason Gonzalez
Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Jeremy Kimball
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Eric Shelton