UFC On ESPN 16 takes place tomorrow night on Fight Island and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana
A former champion in both boxing and MMA, it’s a testament to Holm’s natural athleticism and work ethic that at 38-years-old she’s still in excellent physical condition and still chasing yet another title opportunity.
However, while she deserves a lot of plaudits and is a consummate professional inside and outside of the Octagon, her performances can be underwhelming at times as she often can appear to be active and energetic in a fight, yet without actually landing much in the way of significant strikes, instead often just punching and kicking thin air from a safe distance.
On the other hand, Aldana is constantly looking to go on the attack with a high volume of strikes and showed last time out with a big KO win over Ketlen Vieira that there’s a real potency to her output.
Holm will present an elusive, constantly moving target though, which could frustrate Aldana’s attempts to put together sustained attacks, while a recent addition to her game is working from the clinch, which will also break her opponent’s rhythm.
Meanwhile, it also has to be noted that Aldana has only been beyond the third round once in her career, and she lost that fight by TKO. Holm on the other hand is perfectly built for five-rounds as she simply doesn’t tire, and I think that could give her the edge in the later rounds here and lead to a narrow win on the scorecards.
Holly Holm wins by decision.
Yorgan de Castro vs. Carlos Felipe
It’s not immediately obvious why this should fight should be so high up the card given that both of these heavyweights are coming off a loss.
Of course there is a high possibility of a finish as, on the regional circuit at least, both have racked up a fair number of stoppages due to strikes.
Both men are of similar size and stature here, but I do expect De Castro to be the significantly faster of the two and with his opponent loading up more on his strikes I can see that giving him an advantage here to land something big early to stop this one by TKO inside the first five minutes.
Yorgan de Castro wins by TKO In Rd1.
Germaine de Randamie vs. Julianna Pena
An interesting clash of styles here, with De Randamie being a top-flight kickboxer, while Pena is a hard-nosed, powerful grappler.
Pena’s striking game has always been somewhat rudimentary and if she can’t get this fight to the mat then De Randamie should be able to put on a striking clinic and chew her up on the feet.
Pena will be working hard for takedowns though and she’ll not be afraid to eat a few strikes in order to close the distance. It’s a risky strategy given GDR’s power, but the rewards are great as if she can get her down then the fight swing strongly in her favor.
De Randamie’s takedown defense is generally solid, but I think Pena’s tenacity and strength will pay dividends and enable her to control significant portions of the fight on the mat, leading her to a win on the scorecards.
Julianna Pena wins by decision.
Kyler Phillips vs. Cameron Else
Coming off a six-fight winning streak on the regional scene, Else now steps in to make his short-notice UFC debut against Phillips, who won his UFC debut back in February.
Despite his solid form, it has to be said that Else’s record is actually littered with wins against sub-par opposition, so it’s hard to read too much into that.
Even though he’s only just finding his feet in the UFC himself, Phillips will present a significant step up in competition and in addition to having the crisper striking will also also have the advantage on the mat too, which I think will be the big difference here as he secures a second round submission finish.
Kyler Phillips wins by submission in Rd2.
Dequan Townsend vs. Dusko Todorovic
An undefeated prospect with a 9-0 record, Todorovic makes his UFC debut with some hype behind him, while Townsend is perhaps fortunate just to still have a spot on the roster after losing all three of his fights in the Octagon to date.
This is a tough match-up for Townsend to break that run, but he may take some comfort from the fact that he has a 2″ height and 5″ reach advantage here, and he has solid power and will try to bring the fight to the newcomer.
Todorovic is a skilled, dynamic striker though, coming from a taekwondo background, and it’s worth noting that a couple of years ago he defeated current UFC fighter Michel Pereira by first round TKO, which gives some indication of his prowess in the stand-up department.
A further problem for Townsend is that Dusko is also capable of getting takedowns, so I think he’s just got too much to offer here and will comfortably emerge with a decision victory here.
Dusko Todorovic wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Carlos Condit vs. Court McGee
Charles Jourdain vs. Josh Culibao
Jordan Williams vs. Nassourdine Imavov
Loma Lookboonmee vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Casey Kenney vs. Heili Alateng
Jessin Ayari vs. Luigi Vendramini