UFC 224 takes place tomorrow night in Brazil and you can check out predictions for all the fights below.
Main Card (PPV)
Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington
Pennington hasn’t had an easy road to a UFC title shot, with her entire 14-fight career having been peppered with tough fights and a few setback along the way, but it’s a credit to her skills, toughness and perseverence that she’s made it this far.
That being said, I think this is going to be a tough fight for her as Nunes seems to have the edge wherever the fight goes. In particular, Nunes speed, power, submissions and natural finishing instincts are going to be tough to deal with.
If she can hang in there perhaps Pennington can cause problems late in the fight as Nunes cardio starts to play a factor, but I suspect that champion will have already got the job done before that with strikes leading to a third round submission.
Amanda Nunes to win by submission in Rd3.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ronaldo Souza
The short, stocky Gastelum might not have the ideal frame for middleweight, but he’s proven he has the speed and punching power to give high-level 180lb’ers a lot of trouble during his time in the division so far.
‘Jacare’ will certainly have to be wary of that, and though he’s by no means out of his depth on the feet, it’s in his best interests to be looking to utilize his world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills here.
Gastelum has solid wrestling, but I think ‘Jacare’s’ size advantage will play in his favor here and he’ll eventually be able to get the former welterweight down to the mat and put him in some tough spots, either leading to a submission or, given that it’s just a three round fight, a decision victory for the Brazilian on his home turf.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza to win by decision.
Amanda Cooper vs. Mackenzie Dern
There’s a real sense that this is a match-up that’s been carefully picked to favor the much-hyped Dern as she makes her second appearance in the Octagon.
Cooper has shown a vulnerability to submission in the past and Dern happens to be a decorated specialist in just that department, and she’s already made it clear she intends to go all out to tap her opponent.
Cooper does have solid boxing though and on the feet Dern’s own striking leaves a lot to be desired at this stage in her career, so the fight isn’t a foregone conclusion, but nonetheless, a submission win for Dern looks likely here.
Mackenzie Dern to win by submission in Rd2.
John Lineker vs. Brian Kelleher
Here we’ve got two bantamweights who won’t be afraid to press forward on the attack, so this should be a fun one.
Lineker has legit KO power and though he leaves himself open to being countered as he hurls his fists at his opponent, he backs that up with a strong chin too. That’s going to be a problem for Kelleher as though he’s a respectable striker in his own right, he’s quite hittable and doesn’t have as heavy hands as his opponent.
That being said, Kelleher has a good submission game and could find some success if he can get Lineker to the mat, but I think the Brazilian will mostly be able to stay upright here and land the kind of heavy leather that will earn him a decision victory.
John Linker to win by decision.
Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida
Two old Brazilian war-horses go to battle here in what to all intents and purposes appears to be Belfort’s retirement fight.
Both fighter’s chins have seen better days, while Belfort’s cardio has dwindled and Machida’s reactions aren’t quite what they once were either.
Stylistically this might not end up being the most thrilling encounter as both men tend to sit back a lot, with Machida just looking for the right moment to get into range to land and then back out again before his opponent can react, while Belfort waits for the chance to unleash a furious flurry of strikes.
With that in mind it feels like this will be the kind of fight that the cautious, counter-striking Machida will be able to operate comfortably in and I’ll take him to keep his weakened chin out of harms way and just do enough to edge out Belfort on the feet to claim a decision victory here.
Lyoto Machida to win by decision.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson
Junior Albini vs. Alexey Oleynik
Nick Hein vs. Davi Ramos
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Sean Strickland
Prelims (UFC Fight Pass)
Warlley Alves vs. Sultan Aliev
Jack Hermansson vs. Thales Leites
Ramazan Emeev vs. Alberto Mina
James Bochnovic vs. Markus Perez