UFC Fight Night 221 Predictions

UFC Fight Night 221 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili

After such a dominant run in the UFC it’s unusual to see former bantamweight champ Yan coming into this fight with three losses from his last four appearances, while Dvalishvili is riding a wave of momentum after compiling eight victories in a row.

Yan has a very well-rounded skill-set, but it’s his striking ability that stands out the most with his mix of high-volume, hard-hitting technical boxing ability, solid kicks, high fight IQ, strong cardio and durability, which is aided by being sound defensively. He can also wrestle well too, though he tends to use that more defensively in order to keep the fight standing, possessing excellent takedown defense and an ability to get back to his feet if he does find himself on the mat.

Dvalishvili is equally tough and relentless in his pursuit of victory, though he does so in a different fashion, with his gameplan being to utilize his strong wrestling to repeatedly take down his opponents and dominate them on top. He’s more of a grinder than a finisher however, with 11 of his 15 victories coming on the scorecards. We’ve never seen him fight five rounds before though, so that does leave some unanswered questions, although it feels like something he should be equipped to deal with.

Dvalishvili is not afraid to engage on the feet and will throw heavy leather and show off his strong chin, but he doesn’t have Yan’s technical ability or power, and that feels like it could be the biggest difference between the two fighters. Dvalishvili will certainly cause problems with his continual takedown attempts, but Yan is better quipped than most to put up a fight against that and find ways back to his feet if he is grounded, and will make the most of his striking advantage whenever possible to land the more impactful, damaging combinations to pave the way for a decision victory.

Pick: Petr Yan to win by decision.

Alexander Volkov vs. Alexandr Romanov

Heavyweights take co-main event honors as the 8th placed Volkov looks for his second win in a row against the No.13 ranked Romanov, who started his UFC run strongly with five wins in a row, but lost his last fight via majority decision.

This has all the makings of a striker vs. grappler match-up. Volkov holds a 5″ height and reach advantage which he’ll use to try to keep Romanov at bay with his straight punches and kicks from range. While he’s not the fastest striker around, Volkov has solid technique and has respectable power, though he’s most effective when he steadily picks apart his opponent over a number of rounds to gradually wear them down, and it helps that he has good cardio management and can maintain his output into the later rounds.

Volkov’s takedown defense is solid but not impenetrable, and when he is brought to the canvas he is definitely out of his comfort zone and doesn’t pose much of a threat. that’s good news for Romanov as he’s primarily a strong wrestler who can also grapple too and can finish fights via either punishing ground-and-pound or submission.

Romanov tends to fade the longer the fight goes though and so I think if Volkov can make him work hard for any takedown opportunities he does get in the first half of the fight, he’ll then be able to find more opportunities to use his striking beyond that point to gain the upper-hand and come away with a decision victory.

Pick: Alexander Volkov wins by decision.

Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann

This fight was rescheduled from it’s original headline spot a couple of weeks ago due to illness and sees Krylov (No.6) and Spann (No.8) both coming into the fight off of back-to-back wins.

The two also bring impressive fight-finishing credentials to the match-up, with Krylov having stopped 27 of his 29 career wins inside the distance, while Spann has 18 finishes from 21 wins.

While both are well-rounded, Krylov stands out in particular for his ability to finish fights wherever the fight goes, with his finishing record being split evenly between strikes and submissions. He’s an all-action style of fighter who fight with pace and volume, and he has more variety in his attacks than Spann, so expect him to try to make use of his better kicking game here. However, even though he’s very durable and has only been stopped once by strikes, his naturally offensively-minded approach can leave him open to being countered and he can be rocked.

Spann has a more boxing-orientated approach and will have a 2″ height and 1.5″ reach advantage to make use of here. Spann doesn’t have as many finishes on the feet as Krylov, but nevertheless he does actually carry the harder one-punch power of the two.

Spann can also use his wrestling and has a dangerous guillotine choke that accounts for a high number of his 12 submission finishes over the years. Krylov is the more technical grappler though, but like Spann he is somewhat flawed defensively and in his case he’s been caught in submissions himself on several occasions.

This is a well-balanced fight, but I’ll take Krylov to edge the striking action with his higher-volume attacks and get the better of the ground game to pave the way for a 2nd round TKO finish.

Pick: Nikita Krylov wins by TKO in Rd2.

Ricardo Ramos vs. Austin Lingo

Ramos has gone 7-3 in the UFC and earned a KO victory in his last fight as he now prepares to go up against Lingo, who suffered a defeat in his debut, but has gone on to win back-to-back fights on the scorecards.

The 27-year-old Ramos won his last fight via spinning back elbow in just 72 seconds, and remarkably that’s the second time he’s done so during his time in the UFC. Nevertheless, while he is a diverse muay thai striker, he actually has significantly more wins via submission on his record.

And Ramos is quite likely to pursue a ground-based strategy here as the 28-year-old Lingo is primarily a striker with pressure-heavy boxing and good power, but is the weaker of the two on the mat.

So Ramos will certainly have to be wary of Lingo’s power, but I think he’ll find opportunities to get the fight to the mat and will out-grapple his opponent to win by decision.

Pick: Ricardo Ramos wins by decision.

Said Nurmagomedov vs. Jonathan Martinez

It’s always worth noting that Nurmagomedov isn’t related to Khabib and his family, but he does have a record that’s fitting for that prestigious surname with four wins in a row coming into this fight, as does his opponent Martinez.

Nurmagomedov is a well-rounded fighter, but generally he likes to stay on the feet. He’s not the most powerful striking, but he offers up versatile offense and is quite sound defensively. And when he does use his wrestling he’s proven to be very capable with it and that’s backed up by good submission ability too.

Martinez is a dynamic striker who makes particularly effective use of his kicking technique, landing to the legs, body and head, while he also has respectable takedown defense to avoid having to compete on the mat where he is less potent.

While it might not be his preferred option this feels like a fight where it makes sense for Nurmagomedov to pursue his advantage on the mat and I’ll take him to get the fight there and lock in a second round submission finish.

Pick: Said Nurmagomedov wins by submission in Rd2.

Vitor Petrino vs. Anton Turkalj

A win on the Contender Series took Petrino’s record to 7-0 and now he’ll make his UFC debut against Turalj, who also surfaced from the Contender Series last year with an 8-0 record, but lost his first fight via submission.

Petrino is a dangerous, heavy-handed striker who relishes getting into a brawl, and on the regional circuit at least was able to come out on top, with six of his seven wins comes via strikes. He’ll not as much of a threat on the mat, but he can defend himself fairly well if required.

Turkalj is bit more wild and less effective with his output on the feet, but he also goes for repeated takedowns and welcomes the grind, as he showed during a fairly uneventful decision win on the Contender Series that saw him put the focus on control rather than damage.

So this feels like another striker vs. grappler match-up, and one where I expect Petrino’s stopping power will be the difference-maker as he stops Turkalj by TKO in the opening five minutes.

Pick: Vitor Petrino wins by TKO in Rd1.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Karl Williams vs. Lukasz Brzeski
Raphael Assuncao vs. Davey Grant
Mario Bautista vs. Guido Cannetti
Victor Henry vs. Tony Gravely
Sedriques Dumas vs. Abu Azaitar
Ariane Lipski vs. JJ Aldrich
Tyson Nam vs. Bruno Silva

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.