UFC On ABC 6 Predictions

UFC On ABC 6 takes place this coming Saturday in Saudi Arabia and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov

After Khamzat Chimaev withdrew recently due to a severe illness, Robert Whittaker now takes on a late replacement in Ikram Aliskerov, who had originally been set to compete in the co-main event of last weekend’s UFC On ESPN 58 event and is coming off two 1st round victories via strikes.

Whittaker is putting a brave face on it but the reality is this is far from an ideal situation for the 33-year-old former champion given that he’s still facing a tough challenge, but with far less to gain as Aliskerov is unranked and not well known yet.  Whittaker does have a very good skill-set and a vast amount of experience to draw on in order to adapt to this new test though.  He’s a technically skilled, well conditioned boxer who uses the jab effectively, pieces together combinations well with good hand-speed and power, while he also does a good job of adding in sneaky head kicks that have finished fights in the past.  His movement and takedown defense are also important, and he’ll no doubt have been working hard on that in preparation for this fight given that he was expecting to face Khamzat’s wrestling onslaught.

The 31-year-old Aliskerov holds a 15-1 career record, and coincidentally the only loss of his career came against Khamzat Chimaev back in 2019 when they fought in the Brave CF promotion.  He was KO’d in that fight, but to his credit he soon picked up where he left off by stringing together more wins, and has looked good in the process.  He’s a well-rounded, physically strong fighter with a well-versed wrestling game and has proven submission ability to go along with it, including having secured three kimura finishes in recent years.  However, Aliskerov has shown in the UFC that he’s no slouch in the striking department either, picking up a quick KO and TKO victory so far.

This is a huge step up in competition for Aliskerov, but he does feel like the kind of fighter that won’t feel out of place at this level.  Still, he has an immediate disadvantage here as he was training for a three-rounder, while this fight will be five rounds.  And I do still feel that Whittaker will be the superior technician on the feet here, and with his takedown defense being good too I think that he’s got what it takes to emerge on top here when they head to a decision verdict.

Pick: Robert Whittaker wins by decision.

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Alexander Volkov

Sergei Pavlovich rocketed up the heavyweight ranks with six wins in a row before being KO’d by Tom Aspinall last November and now returns to fight Alexander Volkov, who has picked up a trio of wins in the past couple of years.

The 32-year-old Pavlovich is a sturdily built boxer who benefits from a long 84″ reach that even gives him a 4″ advantage over Volkov, despite his opponent being 4″ taller.  Pavlovich wastes no time in getting into the striking battle, stalking his opponent and then unleashing punches with explosive power and when he hurts opponents he has the killer instinct to seal the deal, as evidenced by the fact all 6 of his victories in the octagon so far have come via strikes in the 1st round.

The 35-year-old Volkov is a tall, rangey fighter who uses his size to his advantage, operating best with long range weapons like straight punches, push kicks and debilitating body kicks, all delivered with good technique.  He can be a finishing threat early, particularly now that he’s packed more muscle onto his frame, but he’s also well suited to gradually wearing down opponents with strikes over a long period too.

Volkov is good, but I think Pavlovich’s early aggression, power and speed will enable him to battle his way into close quarters and land a big flurry of punches that will pave the way for an early KO finish here.

Pick: Sergei Pavlovich wins by KO in Rd1.

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Kelvin Gastelum is feeling the pressure to get a good result this weekend after losing six of his last right fights, while Daniel Rodriguez is also eager to change course after going winless in his last two Octagon appearances.

The 32-year-old Gastelum had well documented issues with cutting weight at welterweight in the past, which eventually forced him to compete at middleweight instead.  However his recent poor run of results led to him returning to 170lbs last time out.  That didn’t work out as well as he’d hoped though as Sean Brady completely dominated him with his wrestling for 15 minutes.  Gastelum had planned to stick at welterweight for his next fight, but mid-way through fight week it’s emerged the bout will now be contested at 185lbs since he’s unable to make the cut.  It’s a very bad look for Gastelum that feeds into the narrative that he’s a fighter who relies a lot on natural talent rather than hard work and dedication.  Nevertheless, at his best Gastelum is a good striker with fast hands, significant power in both his punches and kicks, while he’s also exceptionally durable, even as an undersized middleweight.

The 37-year-old Rodriguez began his UFC run with a very solid 7-1 stretch, but he’s been finished in his last two outings by Neil Magny (submission) and Ian Garry (TKO).  D-Rod has a boxing base and largely sticks to the fundamentals, applying steady pressure behind a solid jab and crisp combinations.   His commitment to volume striking can take a cumulative effect over time to set up finishing opportunities and up until his last fight his chin had also held up well.

Talk of a bad fight camp and a subsequent failure to make weight leads to big concerns about Gastelum heading into this one.  At the same time though he’s far more experienced than Rodriguez at 185lbs and with his natural atheticism and durability I could still see him getting the better of this one to win by decision.

Pick: Kelvin Gastelum wins by decision.

Muhammad Naimov vs. Felipe Lima

With Melsik Baghdasarkyan out of the event on short-notice, Muhammad Naimov’s three-fight winning streak will now be tested against a newcomer in Felipe Lima, who arrives in the UFC with a 12-1 record.

The 29-year-old Naimov is a big physical presence at 145lbs and will enjoy a 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage in this match-up.  He has a taekwondo background and his kicks are on point, but he actually seems to relish striking at closer range and in the clinch and is also a good wrestler.  he’s not the most active striker though and his cardio can be questionable at times.

Lima is a 26-year-old Brazilian who now trains in Sweden.  He’s done well on the regional circuit and has been competing in Europe lately, winning the Oktagon 135lb title last year.  He’d been training for a five-round title rematch next month which will help his conditioning for this short-notice opportunity, but the catch is he’ll be competing up a weight class.  Lima is a talented fighter with solid striking and good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but he’s not a particularly potent finisher in either regard.

Naimov is a big 145lb while Lima seems like he’ll be undersized for the division, so while he may be somewhat competitive I think Naimov will be the harder hitter and could outmuscle him in the wrestling department on his way to a decision victory.

Pick: Muhammad Naimov wins by decision.

Johnny Walker vs. Volkan Oezdemir

Johnny Walker was KO’d by Magomed Ankalaev last time out and now fights Volkan Oezdemir, who is coming off a submission victory.

The 32-year-old Walker is very big 205lb’er at 6ft 5″ taller with an 82″ reach.  walker has somewhat curtailed his wild-man striking instincts in recent years, but while he is more restrained at times now he is still prone to suddenly launching into dynamic and at times reckless bursts of offense.  In fairness to him he is certainly dangerous in those instances as he’s unpredictable, athletic and has finishing power, but he does leave lots of holes in his defense in the process and his chin hasn’t proven to be the strongest.

The 34-year-old Oezdemir is also primarily a striker, but he has a more measured, methodical approach.  Like Walker he had a strong start to his UFC run, but has struggled to maintain that and he’s not proven to the be the big finisher that his initial form on his way to a fast-tracked title shot suggested.  He’s still a threat though with his composed kickboxing fundamentals, steady volume and pressure though, while though it’s not his preferred option he can operate on the mat too.

There’s certainly opportunities for both men to emerge victorious here.  Walker feels like the more dangerous striker of the two and is more versatile and faster.  However, Oezdemir has better fight IQ, is more durable and mindful of his defensive responsibilities, and has godo enough striking to capitalize on the counter.  I’m never overly confident picking either of these two, but Walker’s lapses of judgement concern me more and so I’ll take Oezdemir to punish him for that with a TKO finish in the second round.

Pick: Volkan Oezdemir wins by TKO in Rd2.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Sharabutdin Magomedov vs. Joilton Lutterbach
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Jared Gordon
Rinat Fakhretdinov vs. Nicolas Dalby
Kang Kyung-ho vs. Muin Gafurov
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov vs. Brendson Ribeiro
Xiao Long vs. Lee Chang-ho

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.