UFC Fight Night 185 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis
This fight was originally scheduled for November, but had to be pushed back after Blaydes tested positive for Covid.
Before that Blaydes had been making a strong push towards title contention after his latest four-fight winning streak, with Francis Ngannou remaining the only man to have beaten him (twice) in his 17-fight career so far.
Of course Ngannou is a fearsome power puncher and Blaydes next opponent, Lewis, is also renowned for being one of the sport’s heaviest hitters, while also having a reputation for being able to deliver that finishing ability late into a fight, even when he appears down-and-out.
So, that’s something Blaydes will be very wary off in this fight, even although his own striking has improved over the years. However, Blaydes strongest suit is his wrestling and that bodes well for him in this fight, since that’s one of ‘The Black Beast’s’ weaker points.
To be fair, what Lewis lacks in technique on the mat he has somewhat being able to make up for in raw strength to get himself back upright, but that will be tough to pull off against someone of Blaydes caliber.
This is a potential banana-skin match-up for Blaydes, so I’d expect him to play this one safe and go for takedowns early and often, and apply stifling control on the mat to wear out Lewis, opening up the opportunity for a TKO stoppage due to ground-and-pounds in the final 10 minutes of the fight.
Pick: Curtis Blaydes wins by TKO in Rd4.
Ketlen Vieira vs. Yana Kunitskaya
Aside from a tough KO loss to Irene Aldana back in 2019, Vieira has won five fights in the UFC so far, while Kunitskaya has had more mixed fortunes in the promotion, winning three fights, while also being TKO’d twice.
Kunitskaya is a solid muay thai striker, who can fight at range, but does some of her best work in the clinch, while also having a fairly decent ground game too.
On the other Vieira is adept on the mat, being a strong wrestler with good jiu-jitsu and she even has a judo background too. That being said, despite the spectre of that KO loss a couple of years ago, she can generally also hold her own on the feet too.
I think this one will be somewhat competitive on the feet, but Vieira won’t yield to Kunitskaya in the clinch and will find the takedowns she needs to get control of the fight and win by decision.
Pick: Ketlen Vieira wins by decision.
Charles Rosa vs. Darrick Minner
Rosa has a significant amount more Octagon experience here, but has only been able to muster a 4-4 run so far, while Minner has had a lot of fights on the regional circuit, but only picked up a win and a loss at this early stage in his UFC career.
Both fighters have had a lot of success finding submission finishes over the course of their career’s – particularly Minner, who has no less than 22 submission stoppages to date, although it should also be noted that he’s also been tapped out himself eight times.
Rosa’s submission defense is more sound, despite being happy to work from his back at times, while he has the better striking of the two, albeit with his karate-based style not carrying a whole lot of finishing power.
Both fighters have a real shot here, but I feel Rosa’s superior striking, together with being a threat on the mat gives him more routes to victory and I’ll take him to mix things up to win by decision.
Pick: Charles Rosa wins by decision.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Chris Daukaus
At 43-years-old and with 73-fights to his name, wily old veteran Oleinik shows no signs of stopping, although having been finished by strikes in three of his last five fights may have given him some pause for thought.
Nonetheless, while he is somewhat of an awkward striker, ‘The Boa Constrictor’ remains deadly on the mat and so is not someone anybody in the division can afford to underestimate.
The 31-year-old Daukaus appears to be a solid rising prospect, having shown off his fast hands and power during his three stoppage wins in the UFC so far, but it remains to be seen how he’ll cope as his level of competition increases.
I could certainly see the more youthful, faster Daukaus having real success on the feet here if Oleinik can’t get him down. That being said, I’m not convinced his takedown defense is good enough to keep him at bay, and with his cardio also being questionable, that gives me a little more confidence that Oleinik can find a way to victory – with the most likely outcome for him still being an early submission finish.
Pick: Aleksei Oleinik wins by submission in Rd1.
Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Hawes marked himself out as a powerful striker on the regional scene and then added further validation to that when he marked his UFC debut with an 18 second KO of Jacob Malkoun.
This is a step-up in competition though as while Imavov doesn’t hit at hard, he is the more technical striker here, and is also well rounded, being a threat on the mat.
It should be noted that Hawes can wrestle, but he’s a powerfully built fighter and that comes at the cost of his cardio, as he can fade as the fight progresses, which I think will work in Imavov’s favor here as he has the better gas tank.
So I’ll take Imavov to weather the early storm and then start to pick apart Hawes in the later rounds to secure a decision win.
Pick: Nassourdine Imavov wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tom Aspinall
Jared Gordon vs. Danny Chavez
Drakkar Klose vs. Luis Pena
Eddie Wineland vs. John Castaneda
Nate Landwehr vs. Julian Erosa
Chas Skelly vs. Jamall Emmers
Shana Dobson vs. Casey O’Neill
Aiemann Zahabi vs. Drako Rodriguez
Sergei Spivac vs. Jared Vanderaa
Rafael Alves vs. Pat Sabatini