UFC 256 takes place this coming Saturday night in Las Vegas and you can find all our predictions for the event below.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
Three weeks after his last defense of the flyweight belt, Figueiredo comes back to ensure that a UFC 256 card weakened by the fall-out of two other title fights still has a champion on-board by agreeing to fight Moreno.
Moreno also fought on the same card as Figueiredo a few weeks ago, and like the champion he managed to end his bout in the first round, so both men are running high on confidence heading into this one.
‘The Assassin Baby’ has a lot of experience for a 27-year-old with no less than 25 fights in his career so far and he’s developed a well-rounded skill-set during that time, with a competent boxing game being backed up by a more substantial finishing threat on the mat via submission.
however, Figueiredo is very capable wherever the fight goes too, but on the feet he’s far more potent of a striker, delivering genuine knockout power, together with speed and accuracy, aided by the fact that he cuts a huge amount of weight to get down to 125lbs, and so will be the bigger man on the night, even if he’s giving up a couple of inches in height and reach to his opponent.
Figueiredo’s submission game is dangerous too, but since Moreno is quick and tricky to deal with he’ll most likely be looking to press home his striking advantage here and I think his sustained pressure will lead to a second round TKO finish here.
Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo wins by TKO in Rd2.
Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira
It might not have the fanfare that Ferguson’s previous bout with Gaethje got, but what a great match-up this is between two of the most consistently exciting, entertaining and creative fighters on the UFC roster.
Gaethje dashed Ferguson’s title ambitions, ended his 12-fight winning streak and beat him up pretty convincingly in the process, so despite his past accomplishments ‘El Cucuy’ will have something to prove here, and his mentality and toughness suggests that he won’t be phased by that prior setback.
Ferguson will look to push a very hard pace and will attack Oliveira from all kinds of angles with his dynamic offense. ‘Do Bronx’ own striking has developed over the years and he’s also quite unpredictable in his approach at times, but he has been finished by talented strikers in the past and will have his hands full here if this one plays out purely on the feet.
Of course as you might expect from the man who has more submission than anyone else in UFC history, Oliveira is a tremendous talent on the mat who will relentlessly pursue submission attempts and flows between them so effortlessly that he can be a nightmare to contain.
Ferguson is a very crafty BJJ player in his own right though, so he won’t fear going to the mat with the Brazilian, but it won’t be where he’d prefer to see this one play out.
It should be an action packed fight, but unless Ferguson’s last fight really took it’s toll on his durability then I think he will be able to get the better of Oliveira with the intensity and violence of his striking arsenal, leading to a third round TKO stoppage victory.
Prediction: Tony Ferguson to win by TKO in Rd3.
Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev
After a relatively solid featherweight campaign that only saw him come unstuck against top-flight talent, Moicano is now trying to make his mark at lightweight.
Moicano is not an easy fight for anyone as he’s skilled both on the feet and on the mat. Moicano has solid striking technique without being much of a finishing threat, but he makes up for that when it comes to his submission ability and that could be a key component here.
That’s because Fiziev is very much a striker first-and-foremost, and a talented one at that, as evidenced by the fact that he’s a coach at Tiger Muay Thai. He’s operating at a higher level than Moicano technically and has more pop in his strikes, so keeping this fight standing offers him a route to victory.
I think Moicano’s more well-rounded skills offer him the clearer path to getting his hand raised though and though his wrestling isn’t the best part of his game, it’s competent enough that I think he’ll be able to time a crucial takedown or two and he’ll make the most of that with his submission skills to walk away with a second round victory.
Pick: Renato Moicano wins by submission in Rd2.
Kevin Holland vs. Ronaldo Souza
Given that he was removed from a scheduled headliner with Jack Hermansson a week ago due to Covid-19 it may be a surprise to see Holland back so soon against ‘Jacare’, but he insists he’s had several negative tests since then and is fighting fit as he looks to extend his four-fight winning streak.
On the other hand, despite having been a major player in the division for years, at 41 ‘Jacare’ may come into this fight anxious that his job may be on the line due to Dana White’s recent warning that major UFC cuts are on the way before the year is out, at a time when he’s coming off back-to-back losses. Given that Yoel Romero has already been shown the exit, that’s a very real possibility.
While Holland will be the bigger man here with 2″ in height over Jacare, much more significantly is the massive 8″ reach differential he’ll have to work with and it’s something he’ll use accordingly with straight punches and kicks.
That will be troubling for Jacare, whose not as sharp as he once was on the feet, so his best bet here is to get into range and look for takedown opportunities. Holland is a solid grappler, but on top Jacare is a monster with his elite level jiu-jitsu and it’s a skill that ages gracefully.
With his job at risk I think Jacare is more likely to revert to his comfort zone here. I do have concerns about him eating big shots as he tries to get into range and manufacture takedown attempts, but Holland’s defense is far from impenetrable and so I do think the Brazilian veteran can ground him and get the submission win.
Pick: Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza wins by submission in Rd2.
Junior dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane
Like Jacare, Dos Santos is another veteran who must be concerned that his place on the roster is at risk since he’s now lost his last three fights, yet still commands a big fee each time he competes.
The 36-year-old former champion has taken a lot of punishment over the years, so his durability is a real concern, especially given that all three of his recent losses came via TKO. Still, as far as his striking ability goes he’s still a very good technical boxer, he has good speed and movement for the weight class and remains in good physical condition.
Gane is a powerhouse though and physically imposing with it, being the bigger man here and with a 4″ reach advantage. He has a very solid muay thai game, but what’s helped create even more interest in this rising star is the fact that he’s also been showing off a nice submission game to go with it during his brief time in the UFC so far.
That being said, unless he already has JDS badly hurt it’s hard to see him getting a submission here as the former champ’s takedown defense is on point and he’s only been submitted once in almost 30 career fights.
That leaves us with a striking battle and if it wasn’t for the fact that JDS does have that weakened chin I might look differently on the outcome here, but ultimately I think that Gane’s power and reach advantage will grant him success standing and it might not take too much of that to hurt Dos Santos and find a finish.
Pick: Ciryl Gane wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda
Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba
Gavin Tucker vs. Billy Quarantillo
Sergey Spivak vs. Jared Vanderaa
Chase Hooper vs. Peter Barrett