UFC Fight Night 222 takes place in Las Vegas tomorrow night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes
Pavlovich has been a force of nature in the heavyweight division so far with five consecutive first-round knockouts that put him at No.3 in the rankings, while Blaydes is just behind him at No.4 after winning his last three fights.
Blaydes has been close to title contention several times over the years, but he has so far failed to make that final leap when he’s come up against some of the divisions most powerful strikers like Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis, who both finished him when he tried to get them to the mat.
And that’s a big problem here since Pavlovich is another devastating puncher with good boxing skills who will unleash a storm of strikes at Blaydes whenever he gets close. Blaydes has worked on improving his own striking, but it’s unlikely to go well for him if this remains a stand-up battle.
On the other hand, while Pavlovich also has some wrestling ability, Blaydes is the better fighter in that area and so if he can take this fight to the ground consistently then his chances of winning increase considerably.
However, avoiding counter-strikes when going for takedowns has been a stumbling block for Blaydes, and Pavlovich’s own takedown defense adds an extra layer of difficulty that could force more striking exchanges, so I’m leaning towards Pavlovich securing a second round TKO finish here.
Pick: Sergei Pavlovich wins by TKO in Rd2.
Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva
Tavares lost to Dricus du Plessis by decision last time out, while Silva has suffered two defeats after starting out his UFC career with three wins via strikes.
With his dependably steady, yet not very potent or flashy striking ability the 35-year-old Tavares has never really been a big name in the division, but he has managed to carve out a lengthy 13-year career in the UFC.
Tavares has only managed to finish two of his 14 fights in the promotion and has tended to come off second-best when he’s gone up against some of the best fighters in the division that could have taken his career to the next level, but nonetheless he’s been good enough to beat a number of other middleweight notables over the years.
Now he goes up against the 33-year-old Silva, who is by way of contrast all about finding a way to finish fights on the feet, and with no less than 19 of his 22 career wins coming by strikes he’s found a lot of success in that regard.
However, so much emphasis on power comes at the expense of technique and it becomes more difficult to make that style pay off as the level of competition he faces increases. And meanwhile, Silva’s shown signs of decline lately, both physically and technically – looking surprisingly out-of-sorts last time out, and so I think Tavares is the more reliable fighter here and should be able to use his cleaner technique to outstrike him to a decision victory.
Pick: Brad Tavares wins by decision
Bobby Green vs. Jared Gordon
Green is coming off back-to-back defeats via strikes and now faces Gordon, who has been beaten twice in his last three fights, though many people thought he unjustly lost by decision to Paddy Pimblett last time out.
So Green’s durability is starting to become a question-mark, but I don’t feel that will be the story in this particular match-up as Gordon’s not known for his stopping power. Gordon’s own chin has failed him at times earlier in his UFC run, but not so much recently. He’s a respectable all-rounder who has tried to work on his striking t compliment his already solid wrestling and wherever the fight goes he pushes a good pace from start to finish.
Green is the more assured technical boxer here though and will welcome a striking battle, while he’s also fairly competent on the mat. I expect him to keep this fight standing for most of the time and emerge with a decision victory.
Pick: Bobby Green to win by decision.
Iasmin Lucindo vs. Brogan Walker
Walker Lost out in the final of TUF Season 30 and now looks for her first win in the UFC against Lucindo, who suffered a defeat in her debut.
It’s worth noting that Lucindo is still only 21-years-old, so she’s at that stage where significant improvements are quite possible from fight to fight. She already has some raw potential as she was a notable finisher on the regional circuit thanks to her aggressive approach, good power and ability to also take opponents down and land big ground-and-pound. All that exertion can start to wear on her cardio as the fight goes on though.
Walker is some 13 years older than her opponent, and unlike Lucindo, she’s much more likely to get a win on the scorecards than inside the distance. Still, Walker has solid boxing ability and can mix in both wrestling and grappling, without being a major force in either area.
Overall I think the more youthful Lucindo’s physicality and aggression can work in her favor here as she brings the fight to Walker and secures a second round TKO win.
Pick: Iasmin Lucindo wins by TKO in Rd2.
Jeremiah Wells vs. Matthew Semelsberger
Well arrived in the UFC at a very late stage in his career, but the 36-year-old has already racked up three stoppage wins in a row, while Semelsberger is 5-2 in his UFC campaign so far.
Despite his age Wells remains a very good athlete with plenty of speed and power at his disposal. He’ll be giving up 4″ in height to Semelsberger here, but only an inch in reach as he looks to connect with big strikes on the feet, but he’s also a BJJ black belt who can find finishes by submission and can wrestle to an extent too.
Semelsberger has good boxing, likes to use his size to his benefit and has good power in his punches. He can use his wrestling to take the fight to the ground, but defensively he’s not as sound and hasn’t shown much in terms of being a submission threat.
This has the potential to be a closely contested fight that either man could win, but I think Wells speed advantage will help him find avenues to land his powerful strikes and I’ll pick him to deliver a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Jeremiah Wells wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Ricky Glenn vs. Christos Giagos
Rani Yahya vs. Montel Jackson
Karol Rosa vs. Norma Dumont
Mohammed Usman vs. Justin Tafa
Francis Marshall vs. William Gomis
Priscila Cachoeira vs. Karine Silva
Brady Hiestand vs. Danaa Batgerel