UFC 218 takes place tomorrow night in Detroit and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo
Holloway won their first encounter earlier this year by TKO, but it was competitive enough to warrant a second fight between the two, though ideally it would have come a little further down the line and with Aldo having had the chance to get a full training camp under his belt.
Aldo does have things he can change in this fight, particularly with the fact that he didn’t throw any of his vicious leg kicks last time out, which even though it should have been one of his key weapons.
He could also look to impose his ground game on Holloway, but he’s been focusing on his boxing skills since their first fight and might be eager to show off what he’s been working on their instead.
As things stand Holloway doesn’t need to change much as he coped admirably last time out and his advantage at range, accuracy and power remain formidable weapons that I believe will again enable him to get the better of Aldo, this time he might need to go to the scorecards to claim the victory.
Max Holloway to win by decision.
Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem
Ngannou has marked himself out as the most promising rising star at heavyweight for quite some time, and this fight against Overeem is a great chance to see whether he really is able to pose problems for the division’s top contenders.
I think he can. He’s an enormous man and a physical powerhouse, but he carries it well and has natural athleticism to go with his dangerous striking.
He’s also six years Overeem’s junior and has taken far less punishment over the course of his career, having only ever lost one fight and never been stopped.
On the other hand, for all his accolades and achievements, Overeem’s long career is littered with knockout losses and that will be a major concern against someone with Ngannou’s knockout power.
It’s quite possible that Overeem may look to utilize wrestling here to take Ngannou out of his element, but his adversary has solid takedown defense these days and is ever-improving, so that may be easier said than done.
Overeem is a devastating finisher in his own right, so this fight could absolutely go his way in the blink of an eye, but I do favor Ngannou to test his vulnerable chin and emerge with a second round TKO victory.
Francis Ngannou to win by TKO in Rd2.
Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis
Pettis has so far proven to be a technically proficient striker during his time in the UFC, though he’s never reached the heights that his older brother hit at the peak of his career.
At 24, Pettis still has plenty of time to continue developing his skills, but it’s the 30-year-old Cejudo who appears to have shown the most improvement during his UFC run, with his striking game now having developed into a serious threat to go alongside his world-class Olympic wrestling skills.
With that in mind I like Cejudo’s chances here as he should hold a significant advantage on the mat and will also bring a sense of purpose and urgency to his offense on the feet that should play well with the judges and help earn him a decision victory over Pettis.
Henry Cejudo to win by decision.
Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje
There’s a real chance of some major fireworks in this lightweight fight as both Alvarez and Gaethje are happy to throw bombs and have a habit of eating big shots and then turning the tables on their opponents.
Gaethje is almost pathalogically reckless in his approach, with defense being thrown completely out the window as he goes all out in pursuit of a finish on the feet as quick as is humanly possible – and so far despite getting himself into serious trouble at times, he’s managed to do just that with a perfect 18-0 record that includes 15 wins by T/KO.
Alvarez is only marginally less reckless, especially in more recent times where he has fought a little more cautiously in pursuit of victory, but in this fight he’s vowed to go back to his old ways, which is likely to lead to some highly entertaining exchanges.
Both fighters have the ability to finish each other on the feet, but though I question how long he can continue to do it, so far Gaethje’s chin hasn’t cracked, while the four-years older Alvarez was sunk by Conor McGregor last year and has far more fights on his record and overall wear-and-tear, so in an all-out slugfest I lean towards Gaethje here.
Justin Gaethje to win by TKO in Rd2.
Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson
This is a very good match-up in the UFC’s strawweight ranks between two fighters that are never too far away from title contention status.
Both are strikers first and foremost, with Waterson generally offering up the flashier strikes of the two with plenty of kicks in her arsenal, while Torres brings the higher output and tempo.
Waterson is also a threat on the mat, but Torres isn’t out of her element there and is the stronger of the two, making her difficult to get down in the first place.
I think we’ll see some competitive kickboxing action in the first half of the fight here, but down the stretch I think Torres will have more staying power and start to rack up a significant advantage in terms of strikes landed to secure a decision victory.
Tecia Torres to win by decision.
Charles Oliveira vs. Paul Felder
Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
Drakkar Klose vs. David Teymur
Cortney Casey vs. Felice Herrig
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi
Allen Crowder vs. Justin Willis
Jeremy Kimball vs. Dominick Reyes
Amanda Cooper vs. Angela Magana