UFC On ESPN 24 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Michelle Waterson vs Marina Rodriguez
Quick drafted in to replace the cancelled TJ Dillashaw vs. Cory Sandhagen headliner, Waterson and Rodriguez step up to flyweight for this short-notice fight.
I don’t think stepping up to flyweight is a great thing for Waterson as she’s on the small side, having fought as low as atomweight in the past, while Rodriguez seems more well suited to 125lbs and will enjoy a 4″ height and 5″ reach advantage here.
Rodriguez is one of the heaviest hitters at strawweight with her muay thai striking and I think that will translate well at 125lbs too, so while Waterson is a capable karate-based striker, she’s never been particularly impactful with it and I feel she’ll be significantly outgunned if she were to just stand and trade here.
So, Waterson’s wrestling and submission skills are her best assets here, particularly as Rodriguez’s takedown defense isn’t the best.
Neverhteless, I think Rodriguez will make good use of her size and power advantages to get the better of the action here and secure a decision victory.
Prediction: Marina Rodriguez wins by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono
Cerrone was originally scheduled to fight Diego Sanchez on this card, and that looked like a very winnable fight for him as he looks to dig himself out of a slump that’s seen him go five fights without a win.
However, Sanchez has now been unceremoniously booted from the promotion after he and his coach pushed their feud with the UFC too far and so now Cerrone finds himself in a more challenging match-up against Morono.
Morono is not as high-profile a fighter as Cerrone is used to facing, but while his 7-4 (+1nc) record isn’t particularly daunting, he is a solid all-rounder who will apply a lot of pressure, which could unsettle ‘Cowboy’, particularly early in the fight when he’s still working his way into the fight.
At 38, Cerrone is clearly no longer in his prime and his durability has suffered from the wars he’s been in over the years. That being said he still remains a skilled technical striker who can throw kicks and punches with authority from range, while also adding in well-timed knees at closer range.
Cerrone is also well versed on the mat and so I don’t see Morono having much in the way of success there, and while ‘Cowboy’s’ chin is now a cause for concern, his opponent here doesn’t have the same finishing firepower as his other recent opponents.
As such, I think this is a fight where Cerrone has a good chance to showcase his striking superiority to earn a decision victory.
Pick: Donald Cerrone wins by decision.
Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal
Both Magny and Neal are looking regroup here after their respective winning streaks came to an end in their last Octagon outings.
Magny is certainly the more well-rounded fighter here, and he’s also got a 4″ height and 5″ reach advantage over Neal. On the feet he likes to use that to the fullest with lengthy punches and kicks from range, while at closer range his wrestling presents another challenge for his opponent’s to overcome.
Magny has never had much in the way of power though, while on the other hand Neal may have a more narrow skill-set, but he’s a proven finisher, while still remaining methodical in his striking, and he’s also fast too, which only makes him more of a threat.
Crucially, Neal’s takedown defense is also on point and as such I think he has a chance to foil Magny’s attempts to bring him down and then punish him on the feet to claim a second round TKO victory.
Pick: Geoff Neal wins by TKO in Rd2.
Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
De Lima has bobbed up and down between 205lbs and heavyweight over the years, while alternating between wins and losses, but Greene could never do that as he’s big even by heavyweight standards, and as such will have a 6″ height and 7″ reach advantage over his stockier opponent here.
De Lima has proven power at both weight classes though, posing problems with his heavy hands and chopping leg kicks, and his chin has held up well so far too, having only been finished by strikes once in 25 career fights.
A big problem for de Lima has been his submission defense though and that accounts for all five of his UFC losses to date.
That’s a real concern here since though Greene’s striking and mat work is somewhat rough-and-ready, he has had some success with finishing fights by submission.
Greene’s ground game isn’t as good as some of de Lima’s other opponents though, and on the feet he’s been TKO’d twice in the past couple of years, so I think de Lima actually has a chance to light up the bigger man on the feet here and claim a TKO stoppage victory.
Pick: Marcos Rogerio de Lima wins by TKO in Rd2.
Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie
Gillespie saw his six-fight winning streak ended by way of a Kevin Lee head kick KO in his last UFC fight and hasn’t been seen for a year-and-a-half since.
Ferreira is also returning after seeing his own six-fight unbeaten run ended, albeit in far less devastating fashion by dropping a split decision loss to Beneil Dariush.
While the knockout loss was a big setback, Gillespie remains a formidable wrestler who pushes a very high pace and isn’t the type to just lay-and-pray when he gets the fight to the mat, with plenty of ground-and-pound and submission finishes on his record.
Ferreira is a talented fighter too though and he fights with intensity on the feet, has very good jiu-jitsu ability and has only been finished inside the distance once in his career.
Ferreira has struggled at times against high-level wrestlers though and he’s also not known for his knockout power, so I think Gillespie has what it takes to control the action on the mat here, though he’ll ultimately have to settle for a decision victory.
Pick: Gregor Gillespie wins by decision.
Angela Hill vs. Amanda Ribas
After four wins in a row, Ribas was a hotly tipped rising star heading into 2021, but a TKO loss to this event’s headliner Marina Rodriguez derailed her hype train, at least temporarily, so she has something to prove here.
Meanwhile, results haven’t always gone her way recently, but Hill has still given a good account of herself against a good standard of opposition and picked up a decision win over Ashley Yoder last time out.
Hill is a high volume striker with clean technique, good movement and pushes a high pace from start to finish, but the downside to all that is she doesn’t have a great deal of stopping power.
Ribas can hold her own to some extent on the feet and does have a slight reach advantage here, but it’s her excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that’s her biggest weapon and she has a background in judo too.
Hill has a chance if she can fend off the early takedown attempts, but I think Ribas will be able to force the fight to the mat and from there I like her chances of emerging with a submission finish.
Pick: Amanda Ribas wins by submission in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Ben Rothwell vs. Philipe Lins
Phil Hawes vs. Kyle Daukaus
Ludovit Klein vs. Michael Trizano
Junyung Park vs. Tafon Nchukwi
Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ryan Benoit
Christian Aguilera vs. Carlston Harris