UFC Fight Night 224 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill
Dern has been defeated in two of her last three bouts and is 7-3 in her UFC run, while Hill has won her last two fights, but has just a 10-12 UFC record overall.
Dern is a world-class grappler who can finish anyone in the division by submission. However, like many BJJ players her ability to get the fight to the mat in the first place via wrestling is a weak point in her game and so she will often attempt to pull guard instead.
She’s also tried to develop her striking skills, but while she’s physically strong she’s certainly not a smooth operator on the feet and uses her punches more to close the distance and try to drag the fight to the floor.
On the contrary, Hill is clearly at her best when the fight is standing. Her inconsistent record is a bit unflattering as she does usually give a good account of herself even in defeat and has an active striking game with crisp technique and good movement. She’s more about quantity than power though and doesn’t have much in the way of defensive wrestling ability and she’s lost a few times by submission in the UFC and on TUF.
If Hill can stop Dern’s rudimentary attempts to take the fight to the ground then her smoother striking, speed and footwork would likely pave the way to victory for her, but over five rounds I think that the physically stronger Dern will eventually get her down one way or another and find a finish via submission.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern wins by submission in Rd3.
Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Anthony Hernandez
Shahbazyan broke his three-fight losing skid with a win last time out and now goes up against Hernandez, who is on a three-fight winning streak.
Still only 25, Shahbazyan is a sturdy striker who targets the head and body well with his heavy hands and has good finishing instincts. He has been working on improving other aspects of his game, particularly since changing camps, but his cardio remains an ongoing issue that needs to be resolved and his defensive wrestling isn’t the best.
Hernandez is a relentless fighter who likes to pressure his opponents with his striking and ground-game. He’s at his most dangerous on the ground, where he has finished 7 of his 10 wins by submission, including a stunning upset over BJJ wizard Rodolfo Vieira. He also has strong stamina, but he can be caught by punches on the feet and generally his defense is not as solid as his offense.
Shahbazyan is a real problem early in the fight, where he can make a big impact with his striking, but I think he’ll struggle with Hernandez pressure and pace as he gets forced to grapple as well as strike, leading ‘Fluffy’ to secure a submission in the final round.
Pick: Anthony Hernandez wins by submission in Rd3.
Emily Ducote vs. Lupita Godinez
Godinez comes in to fight Ducote in a catchweight bout at 120lbs on two weeks notice after Polyana Viana pulled out of the fight.
The 29-year-old Ducote is a former Invicta FC strawweight champion who lost to Angela Hill by unanimous decision in her last fight, but did beat Jessica Penne by decision in her UFC debut.
Ducote has had a mixed career, going 4-4 in Bellator before finding a solid run of success in Invicta FC. She is a fairly well-rounded fighter with a focus on boxing fundamentals, solid kicks when she opts to implement them and a decent mix of wrestling and grappling. However, she looked out of sorts against Hill, who successfully managed to keep her on the backfoot, which appeared to throw her off her game.
Godinez also had some difficulties with Hill’s pressure in a previous fight, losing by decision. In general though Godinez has found success when she’s leading the dance with a high-volume, forward-pressing approach to striking. She doesn’t have a great deal of power, but she can wrestle quite well at times.
This is a close fight that really could go either way, but I think Godinez will edge it by applying more pressure and threatening with takedowns to earn a decision victory.
Pick: Lupita Godinez wins by decision.
Andre Fialho vs. Joaquin Buckley
Pick: Joaquin Buckley wins by TKO in Rd2.
Diego Ferreira vs. Michael Johnson
The main card kicks off with a clash of two experienced UFC lightweights, with Ferreira having uncharacteristically suffered three defeats in a row, while Johnson is trying to further distance himself from a four-fight losing streak after winning two of his last three bouts.
Ferreira was on a roll with six victories in a row before his current skid, but to be fair his losses was against tough opposition in Beneil Dariush, Gregor Gillespie and Mateusz Gamrot.
Still, the 38-year-old has shown real signs of having lost some of his stamina and as such is more vulnerable than in the past. He still has solid striking skills, decent wrestling and a strong submission game, but he’s not been finding with the same kind of energy lately.
Johnson is a fighter who has always had ups and downs in his career and as such only has a 21-18 career record. He has some advantages with his quick and crisp boxing and his footwork, and he has decent wrestling too. However, he has also been vulnerable to submissions throughout his career, having been tapped out nine times.
This is a hard fight to call. If Ferreira was in his prime, I would happily lean towards him winning here. Coming off an 18 month lay-off at this stage in his career after demonstrating diminishing cardio beforehand is certainly a big concern though. That being said, Johnson is not a reliable pick either, and so I’m cautiously going to give Ferreira the benefit of the doubt and expect to see an improved showing from him in which he makes the most of his grappling advantage to secure a second round submission finish.
Pick: Diego Ferreira wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Vanessa Demopoulos
Maheshate vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
Ilir Latifi vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Natalia Silva vs. Victoria Leonardo
Orion Cosce vs. Gilbert Urbina
Chase Hooper vs. Nick Fiore
Takashi Sato vs. Themba Gorimbo