UFC Fight Night 193 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and you can find our picks for all the fights below.
Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker
Santos did well to battle Jon Jones to a split decision verdict back in 2019, but that proved to be the first of three losses in a row for him, so the pressure is now on for him to get back in the win column on Saturday night against Walker, who picked up a KO victory over Ryan Spann last time out after having lost two bouts beforehand.
These two are both naturally offensive strikers who have a history of laying out opponents in spectacular fashion, so this one should be a lot of fun to watch.
Walker is the wilder of the two as he thrives on his unpredictable offense, with moves like spinning backfists and jumping knees being aided by the size advantage he often enjoys, as he will on Saturday night, being 4″ taller and with 6″ more reach than Santos.
All that offense leaves Walker defensive game exposed though and there’s signs he doesn’t have the strongest of chins, while his ability to get the job done beyond the opening round is also questionable.
Santos is also a dynamic striker who has big punching power, but also possesses a dangerous and at times flashy kicking game, though it’s a concern that it’s not been seen as much in recent fights since suffering serious knee injuries following his title fight with Jones.
Santos isn’t as reckless as Walker though and is more defensively sound, while he also has more experience fighting into the later rounds and retains his offensive threat throughout the fight.
I think there’s a high likelihood of a finish inside the distance here and I’m going to take Santos to be tighter defensively and gradually take over the striking action as the fight progresses by exploiting the holes in his opponent’s defense, leading him to a third round TKO stoppage win.
Pick: Thiago Santos wins by TKO in Rd3.
Kevin Holland vs. Kyle Daukaus
Even though it’s not that long ago that Holland was on a five-fight winning streak, the pressure’s on him coming into this fight as he lost two fights in the space of a few weeks earlier this year.
Worse still though, those fights pinpointed major weaknesses in his takedown defense and ability to get back up off his back, so the past six months have seen him attempting to fix that as best he can.
Whether that’s enough time to really improve sufficiently remains to be seen, but he will be relieved to note that while his next opponent Daukaus is a grappler, he’s not nearly as dominant of a wrestler as the likes of Derek Brunson and Marvin Vettori were.
However, though Daukaus only has one win from three UFC outings so far, he does have a good submission game and while he’s not very technical on the feet and definitely prefers to be on the mat, he does carry some power in his hands.
On the other hand, Holland is undoubtedly a talented striker who will benefit from the 5″ reach advantage he has here as he likes to land accurate straight punches with power from range and will be the faster, more effective operator on the feet.
Holland’s last couple of fights were a bad look, but I still believe he has a lot of potential and I think we will see some signs of improvement to his takedown defense here, and while I’m not convinced that would be enough to keep him upright against a Brunson or Vettori, I think it will be against Daukaus, enabling him to make an impact on the feet and claim a second round TKO victory.
Pick: Kevin Holland wins by TKO in Rd2.
Alex Oliveira vs. Niko Price
These two UFC veterans are going through a rough patch, with Oliveira having lost five of his last seven bouts, while Price hasn’t picked up a win in his last three Octagon outings.
Win or lose though, Oliveira and Price always bring it with their action-orientated styles and certainly have the potential to scoop up a ‘Fight Of The Night’ award along the way.
For Oliveira though there’s become concerns about all the wars he’s been in having taken a toll on him as while he’s still a threat with his straight punches, kicks and submissions, he’s less durable than he was in the past and appears to be slowing down a bit the longer the fight goes, while still also having questionable submission defense.
Price has his own issues though as his high-octane aggression puts him in kill-or-be-killed territory, and there’s been times when he’s either KO’ing opponents or getting KO’d himself.
As such both men have a real chance here, but I feel Price still has more left in the tank and his high-volume offensive onslaught will win out here by TKO in the second round.
Pick: Niko Price wins by TKO in Rd2.
Misha Cirkunov vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Two more fighters coming off a loss here in a bout that sees Cirkunov drop down to middleweight for the first time.
Cirkunov is a bullish grappler who has had a handy knack of being able to get opponents to the mat and quickly find a finish, with five of his six wins in the UFC so far coming by way of submission and the last three of those all coming inside the opening five minutes.
The problem for Cirkunov is that fights start standing and he’s far less convincing on the feet, particularly due to the fact he’s got a fragile chin, which has seen him finished by strikes in four of his last six trips to the cage – and alarmingly all occurred in the opening round.
However, Jotko is not renowned for his punching power, which will be a relief to his opponent, but it’s not all good news for Cirkunov as Jotko does a good job of managing range with his footwork while picking his moments to land strikes that can win him rounds.
It’s a cautious, calculating style that I could see frustrating Cirkunov’s attempts to close the distance and work for takedowns, enabling Jotko to comfortably chip away at him for three rounds on the outside and take home a decision win.
Pick: Krzysztof Jotko wins by decision.
Aspen Ladd vs. Macy Chiasson
Ladd holds down the No.3 spot on the bantamweight ladder after a TKO victory last time out, while Chiasson is looking to get into the top 10 after compiling back-to-back wins.
Chiasson has a major size advantage in this fight, being 5″ taller and with a 6″ reach advantage over Ladd, which only benefits her efforts to make her mark on the feet against her opponent’s very limited stand-up game.
However, Ladd really excels on the mat and has shown a strong ability to be able to get her opponents on their backs and then maul them with vicious ground-and-pound, which has resulted in her racking up numerous finishes.
Ladd is returning after nearly two years on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury, so if that affects her takedown ability then it could be a real problem, but if she’s anything like the fighter she was beforehand then I believe she’ll control the action on the canvas here and emerge with a decision victory.
Pick: Aspen Ladd wins by decision.
Alexander Hernandez vs. Mike BreedenBreeden steps in as a short-notice replacement with a 10-3 record here to take on Hernandez, who was put together a 4-3 run in the Octagon so far.
Breeden didn’t have much time to prepare here for his UFC debut, but he did have a taste of what’s to come last year when he fought on the Contender Series, losing out by unanimous decision.
Breeden is a capable boxer who will also mix in more flashy techniques at times, and it’s served him relatively well on the regional scene as he has a good finishing record, but he doesn’t offer up much in the way of volume and isn’t the fastest starter.
I think that could be a problem here as Hernandez is well-conditioned, will keep a good pace as he puts together a high volume of strikes, and with solid power to back it up I think he’ll get the better of the action early and find a finish inside of ten minutes.
Pick: Alexander Hernandez wins by TKO in Rd2.
Joe Solecki vs. Jared Gordon
Antonina Shevchenko vs. Casey O’Neill
Bethe Correia vs. Karol Rosa
Devonte Smith vs. Jamie Mullarkey
Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Gaetano Pirrello
Alejandro Perez vs. Johnny Eduardo
Shana Young vs. Stephanie Egger