UFC Fight Night 218 takes place in the wee hours of Saturday night and you can check out our predictions for all the fights below.
Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak
Lewis is eager to get back on track at the start of 2023 after losing three of his last four fights, while Spivak has his eyes on a spot in the top 10 rankings after compiling a 5-1 run over the past two-and-a-half years.
It was not so long ago that the incredibly hard-hitting Lewis claimed the record for the most knockouts in UFC history (13), but it’s he who has been on the receiving end of big strikes in his last three losses, which all came by way of strikes, leading to concerns about his waning durability as he approaches 38-years-old in a few days time.
In addition to that Lewis had to withdraw from the original match-up between these two in November on the night of the fight, which he revealed earlier this week was due to contracting Covid, leading him to be taken to hospital. According to ‘The Black Beast’ it took him three weeks to fight off the disease, and while it’s not clear whether there is any connection to that, it’s worth pointing out that he’s coming into this rescheduled fight visibly leaner than we’re used to seeing him.
Lewis will certainly have a big power advantage and an explosive speed edge over Spivak. However, in addition to being a decade younger than him, Spivak is also the more well-rounded fighter of the two here and is the far better fighter on the mat, with solid takedowns, assured grappling and finishing threats via effective ground-and-pound and submissions.
For Spivak the primary concern will be to safely get into range for takedown opportunities without getting caught by a heavy Lewis uppercut on the counter, while if he does get him down he’ll also have to be wary of Lewis’ knack for just using brute strength to power his way out of bad positions
Two of Spivak’s three UFC losses to date came by first round TKO, so there’s every chance that Lewis can switch his lights out, but nevertheless I do feel that Spivak has a solid chance of utilizing his superior skills on the mat here and I’ll take him to win by submission by the second round.
Pick: Sergey Spivak wins by submission in Rd2.
Da Un Jung vs. Devin Clark
After winning his first five fights in the UFC, Jung went on to suffer a swift KO loss to Dustin Jacoby last time out and now takes on Clark, who has lost three of his last four bouts.
Jung comes in with a significant 4″ height and 3.5″ reach advantage in this match-up that he’ll relish as he’s a good boxer who backs that up with sharp elbows, solid takedown defense and functional wrestling. He’s a proven finisher, with 11 stoppages via strikes from 15 career wins, but despite his up-sides he has been a bit inconsistent in his performances at times – most notably toiling in a fight with a past-his-best Sam Alvey back in 2020 that led to split-draw.
Clark is a decent all-rounder but he’s struggled to move beyond that, going 7-7 in the promotion overall. On the feet he’s a low volume striker without much stopping power, but he is the better wrestler of the two and so making the most of his takedown opportunities will be important for him.
In the end though I think Jung will be able to keep this one upright and use his higher volume, more impactful striking to outland Clark and I’ll say he does enough to finally find a TKO finish in the final round.
Pick: Da Un Jung wins by TKO in Rd3.
Marcin Tybura vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Back at heavyweight we find two veterans going head-to-head, with the 37-year-old Tybura having done well to put together a 6-1 record over the last three years, while the 36-year-old Ivanov hasn’t been early as active during that time, with just a win and a loss to show for it.
Tybura is the bigger man with a 4″ height and 5″ reach advantage to work with. He’s also the more active and mobile striker, though he is slowing down as he gets older. He’s not as durable as Ivanov though, who has never been finished by strikes in his entire career despite his short, squat stature.
They are both comfortable operating in the clinch and Tybura will also make use of his wrestling and he backs that up with solid ground-and-pound. Ivanov has proven to be a very capable wrestler and grappler in the past too, but curiously it’s something we’ve seen less and less of from him during his time in the UFC.
Tybura’s chin may be more vulnerable here, but that aside I feel he’s still the fresher fighter of the two. Ivanov’s lack of activity in recent years is concerning and it feels like key aspects of his game are eroding as he gets older, so I’m taking Tybura’s better work rate and willingness to use his wrestling to help him eek out a relatively uneventful decision win.
Pick: Marcin Tybura wins by decision.
Doo-Ho Choi vs. Kyle Nelson
‘The Korean Superboy’ was a hotly tipped prospect who made a big impression in his early UFC run, but he then suffered three losses in a row and is now returning after a long absence to fight Nelson, who is in an even more troubling spot with only one win in his five UFC fights so far.
The ‘Superboy’ nickname maybe pushing it a little these days as after a three-year absence due to injury woes including knee surgery, a broken arm and an eye condition, Choi is now 31-years-old. It’s difficult to say with any certainty how he’ll be after all that, but it’s good to see him back in action as it his best he was a very entertaining fighter to watch with his aggressive, accurate striking and knockout power.
Choi’s eagerness to go on the attack can lead to him getting caught in return though and in his last two fights he was TKO’d. Nelson does have some power in his hands too, so he will certainly look to test his chin, but he’s been both KO’d and TKO’d himself during his losing UFC run so far which will make it risky to go up against the faster, more frequent output from Superboy.
As such Nelson’s best bet is to try to utilize his wrestling to gain the upperhand, but though I have concerns about how Choi will perform after the long layoff I still feel he’s the better, more dangerous fighter here and will remind everyone what he’s capable of with a second round KO finish.
Pick: Doo-Ho Choi wins by KO in Rd2.
Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt
After a TKO victory on the Contender Series, Kinoshita steps into the UFC for the first time against Fugitt, who was TKO’d in just 69 seconds in his short-notice debut last summer.
Kinoshita is only 22-years-old, but appears to have a lot of potential with his already assured boxing ability, demonstrating fast hands, notable power and an ability to work effectively on the counter.
Fugitt has a solid background in muay thai and will have the advantage of an extra 5.5″ in reach over his opponent here. He does like to work on the outside and some of his best offense comes via his kicking ability, while he can also wrestle.
I see this fight playing out on the feet though and believe that Kinoshita has the speed and skill with his boxing to best Fugitt and deliver a TKO finish in the 2nd round.
Pick: Yusaku Kinoshita wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Ji Yeon Kim vs. Mandy Bohm
Jeka Saragih vs. Anshul Jubli
Zha Yi vs. Jeong Yeong Lee
Jun Yong Park vs. Denis Tiuliulin
Toshiomi Kazama vs. Rinya Nakamura
Seung Guk Choi vs. Hyun Sung Park
Tatsuro Taira vs. Jesus Santos Aguilar