UFC Fight Night 201 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill
Walker has pressure on his shoulders heading into this one as he’s now lost three of his last four fights, while Hill has a 4-1 record in the UFC to date and is coming off a confidence-boosting KO win over Jimmy Crute.
Walker made a big impact early in his UFC run due to his wildly offensive antics, finishing a series of fights in spectacular fashion with everything from flying knees and spinning backfists.
After picking up a few losses he switched to the SBG Ireland camp, who have been seeking to reinvent his style, reigning in his offensive instincts and instead utilizing his tall, long frame to operate as a counter-striker from range.
The early results of that have not been promising though as last time out against Thiago Santos he seemed uninspired and overly hesitant to engage, while lacking the spontaneity and creative finishing instincts that made him such a threat in the first place.
Perhaps he just needed more time to get accustomed to this new style and he will come into this bout with a 2″ height and 3″ reach advantage, but even so he faces a tough test in Hill, who is a very composed, technical striker who will go on the offense with both volume and knockout power.
The problem is that even if Walker was to go back to his old style I believe that Hill would be able to find the holes in his defense and punish him, so either way I’m taking Hill to emerge with the win here, handing his opponent another loss via TKO in the second round.
Pick: Jamahal Hill wins by TKO in Rd2.
Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett
Daukaus has had a mixed run in the UFC so far, picking up a win, two losses and then being involved in a bizarre no-contest with Kevin Holland last time out, while Pickett suffered two losses in a row to start his time in the Octagon but now has rebounded with back-to-back decision wins.
Pickett takes this fight on just 10 days notice at a 195lb catchweight as a late replacement for Julian Marquez, just a month after his last fight, which went the distance.
Pickett holds a sizeable 4″ reach advantage over Daukaus, and as he’s primarily a striker he’ll be looking to make full use of that as he seeks to find a finish sooner rather than later before his cardio becomes compromised. That’ll be easier said than done though as Daukaus has never been stopped by strikes and while he had some nice finishes on the regional circuit, Pickett has yet to display that kind of stopping power in the UFC.
Meanwhile, Daukaus can hold his own on the feet, but he’d much prefer to utilize his strong grappling skills to take Pickett out of his comfort zone and hunt for submission opportunities.
On top of that Daukaus also has a deep gas tank, so I think the longer this fight goes the more he can gain the upperhand as Pickett’s lack of time to prepare catches up with him, leading Daukaus to a second round submission finish.
Pick: Kyle Daukaus wins by decision.
Parker Porter vs. Alan Baudot
Porter comes into this heavyweight clash off of back-to-back decision wins after suffering a TKO loss in his promotional debut, while Baudot has been TKO’d in his two UFC outings so far (one was later amended to a no-contest).
Porter is not an impressive fighter physically and he’s not got the deepest skill-set around, but at this lower level of the heavyweight division his fairly solid striking fundamentals and ability to maintain a good pace can find him success at times.
As for Baudot, he’s not really shown a great deal in his outings so far, but like Porter he will try to operate a high output striking style and has a considerable 3″ height and 4″ reach advantage here.
I feel Porter is better technically though and will be able to unsettle him with his pressure, and also has the edge on the mat if he really has to resort to that. Baudot’s chin is questionable though, so I think Porter can get the job done on the feet via TKO in the second round.
Pick: Parker Porter wins by TKO in Rd2.
Jim Miller vs. Nikolas Motta
One of the UFC’s most tenured fighters, Miller managed to secure a rare KO victory last time out and now fights Contender Series recruit Motta, who holds a 12-3 record.
At 38-years-old and having already reached 50-career fights, there have been signs that Miller has been starting to slow down a bit in recent times and his cardio isn’t what it once was either.
So that means that Miller has to lean even heavier on the vast wealth of his experience he has at his disposal to get the best out of his fairly solid boxing ability on the feet and crafty grappling from top position.
Meanwhile, this is a big step up in competition for Motta, but he’s nine years younger than Miller and will have a considerable speed advantage and possesses the kind of power that could also trouble the veteran on the feet, in addition to respectable takedown defense.
I certainly wouldn’t put it past Miller to get him down and secure an early finish here, but I think if Motta can stay mobile and fend off those early attempts he can start to find success on the feet and his younger, fresher legs will give him the edge later as Miller tires, leading to a third round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Nikolas Motta wins by TKO in Rd3.
Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan
These two are incredibly potent strikers, with Buckley having dished out and been on the other end of some stunning highlight reel finishes during his UFC run, while Alhassan has also proven to be a swashbuckling offensive force during his 5-4 Octagon campaign so far.
Buckley is a powerfully built striker who is almost a decade younger than Alhassan and holds a 3″ reach advantage over him too. He’s an explosive striker who paces himself enough that he doesn’t burn through his cardio reserves too rapidly, leaving him still dangerous in the later stages of his fights.
By way of contrast, Alhassan is extremely dynamic and exciting to watch early in his fights as he unleashes big onslaughts of punches and kicks, but he tends to fade as a finishing threat after the first round, as seen by the fact that all 11 of his career wins have come via strikes in the first round, while three of his four losses were on the scorecards.
Due to the firepower on display here either man has a chance to finish this fight in spectacular fashion. I do favor Buckley more though as he’s a bit more composed, has more staying power and youth on his side, and I think he’ll find the openings he need to deliver a big TKO finish inside of ten minutes.
Pick: Joaquin Buckley wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Gabriel Benitez vs. David Onama
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Stephanie Egger
Chas Skelly vs. Mark Striegl
Jonathan Pearce vs. Christian Rodriguez
Mario Bautista vs. Khalid Taha
Diana Belbita vs. Gloria de Paula
Chad Anheliger vs. Jesse Strader