UFC Fight Night 229 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Grant Dawson vs. Bobby Green
The main event sees Grant Dawson, who has gone unbeaten in nine UFC fights so far, going up against a veteran in Bobby Green, who has a win and a no-contest to show from his 2023 campaign up to this point.
Dawson is a dominant wrestler and grappler who can control and finish his opponents on the ground. He’s got no less than 13 submission finishes to his name, and his strong back control is demonstrated by the fact that the majority of those stoppages came via rear-naked choke. And his ground game has so far stood up to some tough challenges, including keeping down and submitting Mark Madsen, a former Olympic wrestling silver medalist last year, and then dominating Damir Ismagulov on the mat too last time out.
Dawson is also a capable striker and has some solid kicks, but Green is the better striker of the two overall and will generally look to keep the fight standing in order to utilize his craft boxing ability. He keeps his opponent’s guessing by switching stances and attacking from unexpected angles, while he can also counter well and will attempt to evade strikes coming back his way. He also has some offensive wrestling ability and can defend himself on the ground fairly well, with his only two submission losses coming well before his time in the UFC. Two losses via strikes last year suggest the 37-year-old isn’t quite as durable as he once was.
This is a five-round fight, which gives Dawson more time to impose his grappling game and wear down Green. A submission finish is possible, but I’ll say Green survives until the end, leaving Dawson to settle for a decision win.
Pick: Grant Dawson to win by decision.
Joe Pyfer vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
After fighting his way to the UFC via the Contender Series, Joe Pyfer has made the most of the opportunity by racking up two 1st round TKO finishes in a row. Now he fights Alhassan, who has won two of his last three fights via KO.
The 27-year-old Pyfer is a heavy-handed striker with a 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage here who works well to the body as well as the head with his punches. He can also wrestle too, which opens up opportunities for his hard ground-and-pound.
Alhassan has explosive power in his punches and kicks that’s resulted in all 12 of his career wins coming via strikes. His tendency to load up on those strikes takes a toll on his gas tank, and at 38-years-old that’s only going to become more of an issue, though it’s worth noting that this is a career-long problem as he’s never won a fight that’s gone beyond the half-way point.
Alhassan will certainly be a threat on the feet early in this fight, but so will Pyfer, and together with his better cardio and clear wrestling advantage I see him emerging with a second round TKO finish here.
Pick: Joe Pyfer wins by TKO in Rd2.
Alex Morono vs. Joaquin Buckley
After winning five of his last six fights Alex Morono now takes on Joaquin Buckley, who has returned to winning ways via TKO after suffering back-to-back losses.
Buckley has a power-house physique and hits as hard as you might expect, while also showing good speed and dexterity in his punches, kicks and movement. However, while he is known for his impressive highlight-reel finishes he’s not the most accurate or energy-efficient striker, and he’s also been finished a few times via strikes in the UFC, including a KO loss to Chris Curtis late last year. That being said, while he’s best known for his stand-up ability he can also operate as a decent offensive wrestler too.
Morono is a jack-of-all-trades fighter who will adopt a high-volume approach on the feet, while he’s also got solid grappling ability that at times in the past has been underutilized, but is something he’s been trying to work into his fights more of late.
Morono can be a bit too willing to trade blows and stay in the danger zone too long, which is a problem as he’s definitely outgunned power-wise here, and so I’ll take Buckley to take advantage of that via a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Joaquin Buckley wins by TKO In Rd2.
Drew Dober vs. Ricky Glenn
After his three-winning streak was halted by a TKO loss, Drew Dober now faces Ricky Glenn, who has had mixed results in his recent UFC appearances, with a KO victory, KO defeat and majority draw.
The 34-year-old Dober has been known for his durability and his willingness to trade punches with his opponents over the years, but relying on a strong chin tends to catch up with fighter’s eventually and so it remains to be seen whether being TKO’d in the first round in his last fight is the start of a slippery slope for him. My guess is that he’ll still be tough to finish for now, and on the other side of the equation Dober remains a powerful striker who can hurt his foes with body and head shots, as evidenced by all six of most most recent UFC wins all coming via strikes. However, Dober’s weakness is his wrestling and grappling defense, which makes him susceptible to takedowns and submissions.
Glenn might also have some doubts about his own chin after being knocked out for the first time in his career less than two minutes in his last bout. Like Dober he is an aggressive fighter, but he lacks the same knockout power as Dober and instead relies more on accumulating damage over time. Glenn does have an advantage in wrestling here though and would be wise to take advantage of that.
Overall I think Dober’s striking will be more effective in this fight and he will make it hard for Glenn to close the distance and get his takedowns, opening up more opportunities to deliver a TKO in the second round.
Pick: Drew Dober wins by TKO in Rd2.
Philipe Lins vs. Ion Cutelaba
Ion Cutelaba snapped his three-fight losing streak in his last bout, but he still has a lot to prove as he faces Philipe Lins, who has been on a roll since moving down to light heavyweight, winning three-in-a row in the division, after losing his first two UFC fights at heavyweight.
Lins is not a young fighter at 38, but he seems to have found new life at light heavyweight. That’s a bit surprising given that he used to fight at this weight class in Bellator, but suffered a number of losses via strikes that prompted his move up to heavyweight in 2018. Nevertheless, in the present day he is certain more agile and active at 205lbs than he was at heavyweight, and can draw on a solid, if not stand-out, set of skills in all areas of the game.
At 29-year-old Cutelaba is a fighter who seems to be set in his ways, despite several glaring holes in his game that continue to hold him back. He is a dangerous fighter offensively, whether hurling himself into hard punches and kicks on the feet or opting to slam his opponents to the mat and bludgeon them with ground-and-pound. Both methods have proven to be potential fight-enders for this fast-starting fighter, but the wheels can quickly fall off if he doesn’t get an early finish. The problem is that he suffers from his lack of defense and bad fight IQ, with his eagerness to find a finish meaning he’ll often run head-first into a fight-ending punch, submission or just gas out long before the final bell.
Lins could well take advantage of Cutelaba’s weaknesses as the fight progresses, but for all his flaws I still have a feeling this is a fight where Cutelaba’s early offense will overwhelm Lins and lead to an early TKO stoppage.
Pick: Ion Cutelaba wins by TKO in Rd1.
Alexander Hernandez vs. Bill Algeo
Alexander Hernandez, picked up a win over Jim Miller last time out, while Bill Algeo is coming off a submission victory over TJ Brown
Algeo is a durable and well-rounded fighter who can keep up a high pace throughout a 15-minute fight. He uses his height and reach well with kicks being used to maintain distance, and punches that come in flurries. He is not a big knockout threat, but he can overwhelm his opponents with volume and a pressure-style that is enhanced by his wrestling and grappling ability. He has a good number of wins via submission, but often his best chance of winning is simply to just outwork his opponent over three rounds.
Hernandez is a powerful and athletic fighter who can do damage on the feet and on the mat with his strikes. He’s fast and explosive, making good use of kicks along with his punches. He can also take his opponents down and is a capable scrambler. However, he is quite muscular and as a result can have issues with his stamina at times.
I think Algeo’s endurance and toughness will enable him to push the pace on the feet and on the mat to gradually wear out Hernandez here in order to secure a decision win.
Pick: Alexander Hernandez wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Diana Belbita
Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Kanako Murata
Nate Maness vs. Mateus Mendonca
Aoriqileng vs. Johnny Munoz
Chris Gutierrez vs. Montel Jackson
JJ Aldrich vs. Montana De La Rosa