UFC Fight Night 223 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and you can see our predictions for all the fights below.
Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon
This fight was supposed to be the co-main event last week, but got pushed back a week to headline this weekend’s event instead. Yadong is looking to bounce back from a 4th round TKO defeat against Cory Sandhagen that snapped his three-fight win streak, while Simon has won his last five fights in a row.
Yadong is still relatively young at 25, but he has a lot of experience. He’s an athletic, skilled boxer with crisp combinations, angles and movement and works particularly well on the counter. His takedown defense is solid but not impenetrable and he’ll look to get back to his feet rather than grapple on the mat where possible.
Simon is 30 years old and is a well-rounded fighter who has beaten some good competition during his 8-2 UFC run, including submitting Merab Dvalishvili in his first UFC fight in 2018 and knocking out Raphael Assuncao in 2021. Simon has a pressure-heavy style and is particularly good in the wrestling department, working doggedly for takedown opportunities and then showing good control on top as well as presenting a submission threat.
Yadong has a clear edge in the striking department if he can keep Simon off him for most of the fight, but he’ll have a hard time putting him away. On the other hand Simon is a relentless fighter who won’t give up on his takedown attempts and I think that will enable him to disrupt his opponent’s striking opportunities and lead to spells of control on the mat that’ll lead to a decision victory.
Pick: Ricky Simon wins by decision.
Caio Borralho vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Borralho is 30 years old and has won three fights in a row in the UFC so far since joining from the Contender Series, while Oleksiejczuk is 28 years old is coming in of consecutive first round finishes via strikes.
Borralho is an athletic fighter with a fairly low-output karate style on the feet, but balances that with a control-heavy wrestling style that demonstrates his willingness to embrace the grind to win fights.
Meanwhile, Oleksiejczuk is a busy, hard-hitting boxer who hurts his opponents with shots to the body and head and has heavy ground-and-pound too. He has finished 13 of his 18 career wins by strikes, but he does have questionable takedown defense and has been submitted a few times in his career, including twice in the UFC so far.
I feel that Borralho should be able to implement his wrestling gameplan here to take repeatedly take Oleksiejczuk down and frustrate him to secure a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Caio Borralho wins by decision.
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Cody Brundage
Brundage has won two of his last three fights in the UFC by first round stoppage, but he was knocked out in his most recent fight, while Vieira has lost two of his last three fights.
Vieira is 33 years old and is a world-class BJJ practitioner, and he’s used that to his advantage in his MMA career too, with seven of his eight career wins coming by submission.
However, Vieira was shockingly submitted by Anthony Hernandez in 2021, and that exposed a flaw in his stamina. That’s a problem he’s still in the process of trying to fix, but he is clearly very dangerous once he does get the fight where he wants it and has also improved his boxing too.
It’s possible Vieira won’t have to work too hard to get this fight to the mat since Brundage is mainly a wrestler who prefers to get the fight to the mat and stay heavy on top while looking for chances to land heavy ground-and-pound or find a submission. Given the risks of going to the mat he might like his chances of besting Vieira on the feet though, so it remains to be seen how he’ll approach the fight.
Vieira could look for takedowns of his own, but I think Brundage’s wrestling instincts will eventually lead him to revert to that anyway, and that’ll prove costly for him as Vieira either looks for a submission from his back or reverses position on top, leading to a second round submission win.
Pick: Rodolfo Vieira wins by submission in Rd2.
Julian Erosa vs. Fernando Padilla
Padilla finally makes his UFC debut after signing via Dana White’s ‘Lookin’ For A Fight’ series back in 2021, and will be going up against Erosa, who was TKO’d last time out to end a three-fight winning streak.
Erosa has a high-volume, all-action style that’s very entertaining and has provided him with many a finish, with 23 of his 28 career wins coming by almost an equal split of either strikes or submissions.
He’s a classic case of a fighter who values offense more than defense though and as such he eats an alarming amount of strikes. And to be fair to him he walks through a lot of it, but yet he’s far from immune to being finished, having been stopped four times in five years during his UFC run.
Visa issues have kept Padilla from making his debut until now, which is unfortunate as he’s being thrown straight into what’s sure to be a fast and furious fight against an experienced veteran. However, Padilla is a high-volume striker himself and is a little more technically and defensively sound than Erosa. And like his opponent he’s been a finisher in his career so far, though the majority of his stoppages have actually been by submission. It remains to be seen if he can keep that kind of form going beyond just the regional circuit though.
I’m torn on my pick here. If Erosa’s chin holds out it’s a tough fight for Padilla, but I do feel that the veteran is reaching that stage of his career when all that damage he’s accumulated is going to start catching up to him. As such I’ll take the younger, fresher Padilla to find a home for his punches in a back-and-forth battle that leads him to a second round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Fernando Padilla wins by TKO in Rd2.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta
Lima is coming in off a notable submission win over Andrei Arlovski last time out, while the Cortes-Acosta has won two in a row since coming in from the Contender Series to remain undefeated in his nine-fight career so far.
Primarily a boxing based striker who holds an indifferent 6-4 pro-record in that sport, Cortes-Acosta has faired better in MMA so far with his good output and respectable athleticism by heavyweight standards. Despite that boxing experience he’s not the most refined striker technically, but he will enjoy a 3″ height and reach advantage.
Lima has been inconsistent in the UFC, but he has a great finishing record, with 17 of his 20 wins coming by stoppage, mostly by strikes. He is more diverse than Cortes-Acosta as he’ll throw heavy kicks and can indulge in some offensive wrestling and grappling too. Lima does have quite a few losses in the UFC, but it’s worth noting that the vast majority of them came via submission, and that’s not something that’s likely to be a concern for him here against a stand-up-orientated opponent.
If this fight ends early then it’ll probably be Lima who wins thanks to his power, while Cortes-Acosta’s boxing output and good cardio may serve him well if it goes the distance. I’m leaning towards Lima here though as he’ll find success with leg kicks to hamper his opponent’s movement and then make the most of his power advantage to deal out a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Marcos Rogerio de Lima wins by decision.
Cody Durden vs. Charles Johnson
Brian Kelleher vs. Journey Newson
Stephanie Egger vs. Irina Alekseeva
Hailey Cowan vs. Jamey-Lyn Horth
Martin Buday vs. Jake Collier
Natan Levy vs. Pete Rodriguez