UFC Fight Night 189 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Augusto Sakai
These two Top 10 ranked heavyweights started strongly in the UFC with four wins in a row each, but Rozenstruik has since picked up just one win from his last three fights, while Sakai was TKO’d in his last outing.
Despite a long background in high-level kickboxing in addition to his MMA experience, Rozenstruik has become surprisingly gun-shy of late and seemed very hesitant to let his hands go in his last fight – something he himself has since admitted he needs to rectify.
When he does utilize the weapons at his disposal, the 33-year-old is a big finishing threat on the feet, is good on the counter and is also fast and moves well for his size.
Sakai is more of a pressure fighter who will likely be the more active of the two offensively, but while he has power he’s significantly slower than his opponent.
I’m reluctant to pick Rozenstruik based on his last performance, but he seems to be aware that he needs to make amends for that, and while I’m not expecting a complete change in style, if he does pull the trigger a bit more I feel he’s the more potent striker here and will eventually find an opening to deliver a third round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Jairzinho Rozenstruik wins by TKO in Rd3
Walt Harris vs. Marcin Tybura
These two heavyweight had contrasting fortunes in 2020, with Harris losing two fights in a row by TKO, while Tybura won all four of his fights.
As well as Tybura has done it’s worth remembering that in the three years prior to that he had actually lost four of his five fights and was finished by strikes on three occasions.
That’s good news for Harris, as he is a heavy hitter with good boxing and mixes in knees and elbows too, so he’ll look to test Tybura’s chin, although on the downside, while he’s an imposing physical specimen, he does tend to tire and become less of a threat beyond the first round.
That plays into Tybura’s hands as he’s a well-rounded fighter who is happy to embrace the grind and has the cardio to back that style up, enabling him to outwork his opponents from the clinch and on the mat.
With that in mind I can see him stifling Harris’ chances of letting his hands fly early while sapping his energy reserves in the grappling department and then finishing him by TKO in the second round via ground and pound.
Pick: Marcin Tybura wins by TKO in Rd2.
Roman Dolidze vs. Laureano Staropoli
After losing two fights in a row, the latter of which he also missed weight for, Staropoli is now in the challenging position of taking on a short-notice fight against Dolidze while also moving up a division in the process.
To be fair, Staropoli has fought at middleweight in the past, but nevertheless he’s still going to be outsized by Dolidze, who is a former 205lb’er and will also have a 1″ height and 4.5″ reach advantage.
Staropoli is an active, dynamic striker and along with having good footwork he has a penchant for throwing flashy techniques, though often they feel like they are more for show than anything else.
Dolidze isn’t the most technical striker and also likes to throw spinning techniques at times, with varying degrees of success, but it’s his very solid grappling, aided by the fact he’s also the physically bigger man, that I think will lead him to victory here as he controls the fight on the mat to win out by decision.
Pick: Roman Dolidze wins by decision.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Miguel Baeza
After two years out due to injuries and other hold-ups, Ponzinibbio’s seven-fight winning streak ended upon his return to action in January via KO against Li Jingliang.
Now the 34-year-old faces an unranked, yet undefeated 28-year-old in Baeza, who has picked up a trio of victories in the octagon so far to extend his unblemished record to 10-0.
While Ponzinibbio certainly seemed out-of-sorts last time out, from his lengthy body of work we know that generally he is a very good striker with a high-volume approach while still delivering both speed and power.
That makes him a real handful to deal with, but Baeza also has fight-ending power, can match his offensive output and will also have a 2″ height and marginal reach advantage.
It could just be that the younger, fresher Baeza is going to confirm that Ponzinibbio is past his best, but I’m reluctant to cast aside the Argentinian’s past accomplishments just based on one disappointing performance after a long layoff. Baeza has never been stopped, but he has been hurt, and I think Ponzinibbio will show he’s still a significant threat by delivering a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio wins by TKO in Rd2.
Tom Breese vs. Antonio Arroyo
Breese has struggled to maintain his early UFC form, which had initially saw him win three fights in a row, before slipping into a pattern of switching of picking up wins and losses in equal measure.
Still, that’s a better position to be in than Arroyo, who has lost his first two fights in the UFC and now badly needs a win to avoid being cut from the promotion.
Breese is fairly well-rounded, including solid striking and good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, though while that aspect of the ground game is a strong suit for him, he has also come unstuck against other talented grapplers at times.
Like Breese, Arroyo has a number of wins on his record via both strikes and submissions, but while he’s got a solid kicking game, during his brief UFC tenure there’s been scant sign of any real substance to his ground game at this level.
So, I think Breese can best Arroyo on the mat, but also feel he has a good chance to just prove he’s the better fighter regardless of where the action goes, leading him to a decision victory.
Pick: Tom Breese wins by decision.
Dusko Todorovic vs. Gregory Rodrigues
In somewhat of a running theme on this main card, Todorovic is looking to redeem himself on Saturday night after his perfect 10-0 record came to an end last time out by way of a TKO loss.
At the same time, Rodrigues will be making his UFC debut on short notice, just a couple of weeks after a KO win in the LFA promotion.
Rodrigues had previously been KO’d on the Contender Series last September, but back-to-back KO wins since will give him a confidence boost here, as will the fact that Todorovic looked very hittable indeed last time out.
At 27, Todorovic will no doubt have been looking to learn lessons from his last fight, so I expect a more defensively aware performance from him this time out. Beyond that, there’s a lot to like about his game as he’s well-rounded, puts together his strikes well and carries significant power.
Rodrigues also has good submission skills, but overall I don’t really like the quick turnaround for him here, and despite his last loss I still feel Todorovic has good potential and I’m going to take him to get back to winning ways by TKO in the second round.
Pick: Dusko Todorovic wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Kamuela Kirk
Tanner Boser vs. Ilir Latifi
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Muslim Salikhov
Alan Patrick vs. Mason Jones
Montana De La Rosa vs. Ariane Lipski
Manon Fiorot vs. Maryna Moroz
Sean Woodson vs. Youssef Zalal
Claudio Puelles vs. Jordan Leavitt