UFC On ESPN 20 predictions takes place tomorrow on Fight Island and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny
This is a well-matched main event between two welterweights who are on a good run of form and are coming off big wins, with Chiesa having beaten Rafael dos Anjos, while Magny defeated Robbie Lawler.
Originally a lightweight, Chiesa has looked very much at home at welterweight during his current three-fight winning streak. He’s still more of a wormanlike fighter on the feet and lacks finishing power, but he makes up for that with sheer hard work and strong grappling ability, which has helped him control opponents on the mat and on numerous occasions submit them too.
Magny is a mainstay of the 170lb weight class and while never being one of the biggest names has put together a very respectable record courtesy of his well-rounded skills and excellent cardio.
While by no means being a one-punch finisher, Magny is more dangerous on the feet than Chiesa and uses his tall, lanky frame well to keep opponents at the end of his strikes, and he’ll have a 2″ height and 4.5″ reach advantage to aid him here.
Magny doesn’t have the same level of submission threat as Chiesa, but he’s still very capable on the mat, particularly when he’s on top. I think he’ll be using his wrestling to keep this one standing though and I do feel the fact he has the better striking and can more than match his opponent’s work-rate will stand him in good stead here, leading to a decision victory.
Pick: Neil Magny wins by decision.
Warlley Alves vs. Mounir Lazzez
A former TUF Brazil season 3 winner, Alves made an impact early in his UFC career with three submission victories from his first four fights to go 10-0 overall, but has since lost four of his last seven fights.
Dubbed ‘The Middle East Conor McGregor’, Lazzez certainly impressed in his UFC debut last year on Fight Island with an extremely slick striking game that saw him effortlessly unleash lightning quick kicks and razor-sharp knees with deadly precision on his way to a decision victory over Abdul Razak Hassan.
This is a tough fight for Lazzez though given that he’s coming in on less than two weeks notice and is going up against a far more experienced opponent who is also at his most dangerous on the mat, where Lazzez is relatively untested.
Alves could be his own worst enemy though as he has fallen into the trap of putting his strong grappling skills aside in favor of brawling, and that could prove to be a big mistake against ‘The Sniper’, who will also have a 2″ height and 4″ reach advantage.
As such I’m going to take Lazzez to win by decision, but if he plays to his strengths an Alves submission victory is a real possibility.
Pick: Mounir Lazzez wins by decision.
Ike Villanueva vs. Vinicius Moreira
This fight is something of an anomaly on the main card given that Moreira is on a three-fight losing streak, while Villaneuva is 0-2 in his UFC campaign to date.
Essentially this is a striker vs. grappler fight, with Villanueva being the heavier hitter who made an impact on the regional scene with large amounts of stoppage victories, while Moreira’s pre-UFC run was littered with submission stoppages.
Despite having a 3″ advantage in terms of both height and reach, I’m not convinced that Moreira can really make effective use of that on the feet with his limited striking ability and so I’m going to take Villaneuva to keep this one upright and deliver a first round TKO stoppage, but I’m not convinced either of these two is going to have a long-term UFC future.
Pick: Ike Villaneuva wins by decision.
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Viviane Araujo
it’s remarkable to think that Modafferi has now been competing in MMA for 17 years, and though she’s only mustered a 4-4 run during her latest UFC stint, she’s enjoyed stand-out underdog wins over the likes of Maycee Barber and Andrea Lee along the way.
While Modafferi severely lacks in athleticism and at 38 definitely has a lot of wear and tear physically, she is deceptively tough and it’s clear she’s tried to improve the effectiveness of her rather awkward striking, while her crafty grappling remains a strong asset that can be a big problem for opponents to deal with.
Araujo doesn’t have anywhere close to the same level of experience as Modafferi, but she has plenty of athleticism and is the better technical striker, which could prove to be a dangerous combination here and should show via a visible speed, power and precision advantage.
Despite having a BJJ black belt, I suspect Araujo will be eager to avoid giving Modafferi a chance to shine on the mat, and will look to pick her apart on the feet instead. A TKO stoppage certainly isn’t out of the question here, but given ‘Roxy’s’ toughness I’ll say she makes it to the final bell.
Pick: Viviane Araujo wins by decision.
Lerone Murphy vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade
Andrade was an absolute bulldozer on the regional Brazilian scene, racking up KO’s and TKO’s aplenty during a 23-fight unbeaten start to his career, but a big step up in competition since joining the UFC has seen that tempered with a 4-3 run to date.
Murphy has far less fights on his record, but he is undefeated in his 10 outings so far and will take comfort from the fact that he is the more well-rounded fighter here. He’ll also have a big 5″ reach advantage to go with two extra inches in height, which suits his striking style from range.
I think Murphy’s wrestling will be his best route to victory here though, neutralizing Andrade’s striking threat by keeping him on his back for extended periods to ensure a decision victory.
Pick: Lerone Murphy wins by decision.
Matt Schnell vs. Tyson Nam
There’s a definite clash of styles in this flyweight fight as Nam’s shown off his finishing power even up at 135lbs, while Schnell has a penchant for picking up submission victories.
Schnell would be right to be wary of Nam’s power as three times already in his seven fight UFC career he’s been KO’d in the first round, including his last bout against Alexandre Pantoja.
That being said, inbetween times he mustered a four-fight winning streak, so he’s definitely talented, but he can be lured into striking exchanges that it would appear his chin doesn’t take kindly to.
Given that he didn’t fight last year, I think Schnell will now be eager just to get back in the win column and so while I’m not completely confident in it, I’ll pick him to focus on his strong suit and use his mat work to deliver a second round submission stoppage.
Pick: Matt Schnell wins by submission in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Ricky Simon vs. Gaetano Pirrello
Su Mudaerji vs. Zarrukh Adashev
Dulcha Lungiambula vs. Markus Perez
Francisco Figueiredo vs. Jerome Rivera
Mike Davis vs. Mason Jones
Victoria Leonardo vs. Manon Fiorot