UFC Fight Night 197 Predictions

UFC Fight Night 107 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodríguez

A USADA suspension due to failing to make himself available for drug-testing has kept Rodriguez out of action for some time, but he now returns to a major fight against former featherweight champion Holloway, who bounced backed strongly from back-to-back title losses against Alexander Volkanovski by delivering a striking masterclass against Calvin Kattar in January.

While it feels like Holloway has been around forever at this stage, he’s actually still only 29-years-old – the same age as Rodriguez.  Holloway as far more experience under his belt though, and much of it at the highest level, though Rodriguez has also picked up big wins over some 145lb stalwarts during his 8-1-1 UFC run to date.

This match-up should be a real treat for the fans as these are two top-flight strikers.  Holloway in particular is a true striking technician whose boxing ability is the foundation for his fast, frequent and accurate combinations to the head and body, while he also has the slick movement and sense of space to manage distance effectively and create angles of attack that his opponents struggle to keep up with.

Rodriguez is also a striking talent though who thrives on creativity and offers up more  flashy techniques than Holloway, and to be fair to him they are not all for show as he has highlight-reel finishes to prove that moves like audacious upward elbows and flying head kicks can work in the Octagon.

So it should be an exciting fight to watch unfold, but I definitely favor Holloway overall.  His volume of strikes outdoes even Rodriguez’s active offense, and that’s a pace that could well ware on him over five rounds following such a long layoff.

Meanwhile, I think Holloway’s fundamentals are more keenly honed than Rodriguez and his fight IQ is higher, while I’d also give him the edge in durability too, so I’ll take him to outpace and outland his opponent more and more as the fight goes on to earn a decision win.

Pick: Max Holloway wins by decision.

Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

With three wins from his past four fights, Ben Rothwell is still continuing to hold his own in the UFC’s heavyweight ranks at the age of 40, while his 36-year-old opponent de Lima has been in a pattern of win-one-lose-one for virtually his entire UFC career to date.

Rothwell is fairly well rounded by heavyweight standards, being a rugged, durable striker who sticks to the fundamentals and has enough power to earn respect, while also being a very capable wrestler who has a knack for seeking out submissions, with a particular penchant for chokes.

De Lima can’t match that jack-of-all-trades approach, but he is a solid muay thai striker who carries real power in his hands, while his heavy kicks are dangerous too.  However, on the mat there’s glaring weaknesses in his game, as evidenced by the fact that all five of his losses in his 12 fight stint in the UFC so far have come by submission.

When you factor in that De Lima has actually fought down at 205lbs at times and seems better suited to that weight class and is giving up 3″ in height and 3.5″ in reach to Rothwell, then it feels like even more of an uphill battle for him here.

If Rothwell only strikes with him then things could get interesting, but I feel that he’ll take advantage of his clear advantage on the mat here to find a submission finish.

Pick: Ben Rothwell wins by submission in Rd2.

Felicia Spencer vs. Leah Letson

Spencer is a former Invicta FC champ who has also fought for the UFC featherweight title, but so far has only secured two wins from her five fights in the promotion so far.

On the other hand, Letson made her debut back in 2018 with a split decision win, but hasn’t fought since due to numerous medical struggles, including a thyroid issue, so she’s waited a very long time to get an opportunity to compete again.

While Spencer’s UFC record is underwhelming it’s worth noting that during that time she fought both Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg, and while she lost on both occasions she took them both to the scorecards, which is no mean feat and speaks to her toughness and durability.

Spencer has a karate-based striking style that enables her to stay competitive on the feet, but she’s also a solid grappler who will offer up a threat both by submission and ground-and-pound, while also operating well from the clinch too.

Meanwhile, Letson is primarily a striker, and an active one at that who will put together kicks and punches and holds a 1″ height and 3″ reach advantage to aid her cause here.

This is a tough for for Letson to return to after such a long layoff and all the struggles she’s been through, and I don’t feel there’s one area where she can really excel here, so I expect Spencer to make the most of her advantage on the ground here to secure a submission stoppage.

Pick: Felicia Spencer wins by submission in Rd2.

Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams

This should be an exciting striking battle between two welterweights who hold 3-1 record in the UFC to date.

These two will both welcome a chance to exchange heavy leather and they each possess fight-ending power.  Baeza will offer up a higher volume of strikes though, including having the more effective kicking game, but though he’s got a good chin he does tend to eat a lot of blows while landing his own.

Williams, who is 2″ shorter but holds a 3″ reach advantage, is a little bit more careful defensively, but also doesn’t fight at as high a tempo as Baeza and though he certainly possesses raw power, he’s not as technically sound offensively as his opponent here.

Baeza also has more to offer on the mat too if it ever comes to that, and overall I feel that he has what it takes to get the better of Williams and secure a decision win, though if he leaves his chin exposed too often it could cost him.

Pick: Miguel Baeza wins by decision.

Song Yadong vs. Julio Arce

Yadong enters into this fight with a 6-1-1 record so far, including going 1-1 in the year to date, while Arce has been less active with only one fight in the last two years, which he won to go 4-2 overall in the promotion.

At 23, Yadong is still a developing talent, which is intriguing as he’s already a very good striker with fast, crisp and powerful boxing ability, while his time at Team Alpha Male ensures that his ground skills have not been neglected either.

The 32-year-old Arce has honed his own striking over the years, kicks well and is demonstrating more power than ever after dropping to 135lbs and will hold a 3″ reach advantage over Yadong here too.

I see both fighters looking to test their stand-up skills in this one and I feel that Yadong’s boxing combination work will gain him the edge in a highly competitive battle to secure a win on points.

Pick: Song Yadong wins by decision.

Prelims

Thiago Moisés vs. Joel Álvarez
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee
Sean Woodson vs. Collin Anglin
Cortney Casey vs. Liana Jojua
Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Alves
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung