UFC On ESPN 5 takes place tomorrow in New Jersey and you can see our predictions for all the fights below.
Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler
Former teammates clash here as Covington tries to secure a title shot by defeating a former welterweight champ in Lawler.
There’s no doubt that Covington’s wrestling is going to be a crucial factor in this fight. He is relentless in his pursuit of takedown opportunities and that will surely only increase against a striker of Lawler’s caliber, who will be a major threat as long as the action stays standing.
Lawler has some wrestling of his own and his defense is better than it once was, but against someone of Covington’s caliber and work rate it’s going to be hard to deny him time after time. That’s especially true in a five round fight as ‘Ruthless’ likes to pace himself and visibly slows things down in some rounds, a trait which ‘Chaos’ likely won’t allow.
So Lawler has to make the most of his striking opportunities when they are presented to him, and Covington’s pressure-based offensive style on the feet does leave him open to being hit, and ‘Ruthless’ certainly has stopping power.
Overall I feel Covington’s unrelenting pace over five rounds and superior grappling are going to give them the edge in this fight, but he might have to survive an scare or two on the feet in order to get the better of Lawler.
Colby Covington wins by decision.
Jim Miller vs. Clay Guida
These two old warhorses of the UFC’s lightweight division have surprisingly never fought before, and though they are no longer at the top of their game it’ll still be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Both fighters are at their best on the mat, with Miller having the better jiu-jitsu, while Guida is the stronger wrestler and I do feel that ‘The Carpenter’ will also prove to be the stronger fighter and his stifling control on top and endless energy reserves could be hard to deal with.
On the feet Miller has better fundamental striking than his opponent, but neither has big power and Guida seems the less shop-worn of the two and should be more durable, while his work-rate may make up for the actual effectiveness of his offense.
I’m definitely leaning towards Guida here and believe he’ll set a high tempo, stay active on the feet when neccessary, but mostly use his stronger wrestling to win rounds here and emerge with a decision victory.
Clay Guida wins by decision.
Joaquim Silva vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Two strikers with good power on display here, although how they go about their business in the Octagon is markedly different.
Silva is the heavier hitter here, but he’s also more of a brawler, whereas there’s more strategy and technique behind Haqparast’s approach, and that means he’s more defensively sound, while still offering up a high volume of strikes.
Nevertheless, Silva will be dangerous and Haqparast will have to ensure he doesn’t just get drawn into a firefight, but if he fights smart then I believe he’ll be able to gradually pick his opponent apart and then finish him in the final five minutes of the bout.
Nasrat Haqparast wins by TKO in Rd3.
Trevin Giles vs. Gerald Meerschaert
The 26-year-old Giles isn’t just relying on his fighting career to support himself as he actually took 18 months out not so long ago to become a police officer.
Giles then returned earlier this year and picked up his first career loss against Zack Cummings, but nevertheless he’s a fairly well-rounded fighter who shouldn’t be underestimated.
The 31-year-old Meerschaert is a good fighter too and has a vast amount of experience as he heads into his 40th fight. He’s at his best when he’s grappling and he has an excellent track record of delivering submission victories over the course of his career.
I’d expect to see a competitive fight here, but one in which Giles proves to be the quicker, stronger fighter who will get the better of the striking exchanges and gradually tire out Meerschaert on his way to a win on the scorecards.
Trevon Giles wins by decision.
Scott Holtzman vs. Dong Hyun Ma
Both of these fighters lost last time out, though Ma’s defeat was the harder to take given that it was a first round TKO, which is a cause for concern given that in his six UFC fights to date he has also been knocked out twice.
Ma is a judoka and also a threat from submissions, but he does like to go to war on the feet and it’ll be interesting to see if his latest defeat will make him more hesitant to engage.
That being said, while Holtzman is a reasonably solid all-rounder he’s never been a been a power puncher on the feet, doing his best work in the clinch and on the mat – though his ground and pound is effective.
I think we’ll see Holtzman pushing a higher pace here and proving to have the grappling advantage as he does enough to get the judge’s decision after three rounds.
Scott Holtzman wins by decision.
Darko Stosic vs. Kennney Nzechuku
Two more fighters looking to rebound from a loss here as the 6ft 5″ Nzechuku attempts to utilize his 5″ height and 4″ reach advantage over Stosic.
A former heavyweight, Stosic is used to fighting large opponents and is a strong light-heavyweight, but also a rather plodding one, who tends to suffer cardio wise the later the fight goes on.
Despite appearing to be a good athlete, Nzechuku doesn’t push a high pace himself though and he’s not the best on the mat, so that could be something Stosic will look to take advantage of as he is the better grappler.
Nonetheless, Nzechuku has good power in his hands and I think he can ward off Stosic with his striking and movement from range to claim a decision victory.
Kenney Nzechuku wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Mickey Gall vs. Salim Touahri
Antonina Shevchenko vs. Lucie Pudilova
Jordan Espinosa vs. Matt Schnell
Lauren Murphy vs. Mara Romero Borella
Cole Williams vs. Claudio Silva
Miranda Granger vs. Hannah Goldy