UFC On ESPN 25 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Chan Sung Jung vs. Dan Ige
‘The Korean Zombie’ didn’t look like his usual self during a decision loss to Brian Ortega last time out and now goes up against Ige, who is coming off a 22 second KO win over Gavin Tucker in March.
Generally Zombie is one of the UFC’s premier all-action fighters who constantly marches forward through hard-hitting, high volume offense, and earned his nickname by absorbing lots of damage in the process.
However, at 34, there have been concerns that Jung’s durability isn’t what it once was and that his many wars over the years are taking a toll on him.
Meanwhile, Ige has no such concerns, having yet to be stopped inside the distance. He’s a fairly sound striker technically and also likes to maintain active offensively, but despite his recent KO win, he not typically considered to be as heavy hitter as his opponent.
Ige is well-rounded and can make an impact on the mat, but Zombie is also a good grappler with very solid takedown defense, so I think this fight will end up being won or lost on the feet.
While I didn’t like what I saw from Zombie last time out, I was similarly impressed by how good Ortega looked, so I’m willing to give him a pass for that. While I do have concerns about how Zombie’s chin’s will hold up over the next few years, I think for now he’s still got what it takes to win here, with his power advantage and consistent forward pressure over 25 minutes earning him a decision victory.
Pick: Chan Sung Jung wins by decision.
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Sergey Spivak
At 44-years-old, oleinik’s back is against the wall, having lost two fights in a row via TKO, while Spivak is coming off back-to-back wins.
Oleinik has looked very labored and fragile on his feet lately and doesn’t have much in the way of cardio either, but he still remains a threat due to the fact that he has a formidable record of submitting opponents – no less than 46 over the course of his career.
It’s certainly possible he could add to that record here as Spivak typically likes to use his wrestling to bring the fight to the mat, where he can work solid ground-and-pound and potentially hunt for a submission.
Given that Oleinik is so good at finding opportunities for submissions, even from his back, you’d have to imagine that Spivak would be wise to not tempt fate there and instead should look to use his wrestling defensively to keep this fight upright.
It’s a tricky one as Spivak has quite limited striking ability, but he’s durable, is the bigger man, and given how vulnerable Oleinik is these days, I think he will find success there, leading to a second round TKO stoppage, if not sooner.
Pick: Sergey Spivak wins by TKO in Rd2.
Marlon Vera vs. Davey Grant
This is a rematch as these two first locked horns in 2016 when they were both at an early stage in their UFC runs, with Grant earning a decision win.
Vera was only in his early 20’s at the time though and in the years since he’s been the far more active fighter, racking up a 9-4 record in the same space of time that Grant went 3-2.
However, Grant does have good momentum coming into this fight given that all three of his wins have come in a row over the past two years.
It’s also significant that having relied on submission finishes to get the job done for much of his career, Grant actually stopped his last two opponents by KO.
That being said, there’s not much structure to Grant’s striking and he does tend to just be quite wild often overcommits, but while that unpredictability and power has clearly brought him some success recently, I think could also be his downfall.
Since their first fight Vera’s stand-up game has developed considerably and he’s now a more methodical pressure striker with good leg kicks and is also very durable too, which rounds out his skill-set nicely, having already proven his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ability and cardio in the past.
Grant also has that submission threat on the mat, but it should be noted that all four of his career losses have come via submission, so that’s not necessarily a safe place for him.
In the end I think Vera’s made the most improvements and gained more experience over the years since they last fought, and I think he’ll demonstrate that by emerging with a decision victory here.
Pick: Marlon Vera wins by decision.
Wellington Turman vs. Bruno Silva
Neither fighter here has got much to show for the last couple of years, with Turman having lost two of his three fights and then been held back by illness, suffering from both Covid-19 and pneumonia, while Silva has been out of action for well over two years due to being suspended after signing for the UFC due to failing a USADA drug test.
Silva managed to remain on the roster though, likely due to his strong run on the regional circuit, which saw the physically imposing middleweight finishing 16 of his 19 victories courtesy of his aggression and punching power.
That could pose Turman problems as he’s coming off a first round KO loss and typically doesn’t do well off the back foot.
Turman is a decent striker though and has the better gas tank here, so that could pay dividends later in the fight if he makes it that far, though he may well be looking to focus more on his submission skills instead as that’s been Silva’s achilles heel, accounting for five of six career defeats.
So, there’s ways for both men to emerge victorious here, but I’m cautiously going to lean towards Silva to overwhelm Turman early in the fight on the feet and earn a TKO victory.
Pick: Bruno Silva wins by TKO in Rd1.
Matt Brown vs. Dhiego Lima
A true grizzled veteran of the UFC, the 40-year-old Brown is trying to stave of retirement talk after losing two fights in a row as he tries to get back on track against the 32-year-old Lima, who lost last time out against Belal Muhammad, but had won three in a row prior to that.
Earlier in his career Brown was exceptionally durable, but we’ve seen him stopped a few times now in the past few years and his cardio and speed also seems to be in decline, so he’s not the man he once was.
That being said, Brown does still remain dangerous offensively, particularly early in the fight when his punches, kicks and elbows can all be potential fight-enders.
It’s certainly something Lima has to be wary of, as though he’s a solid all-rounder who has acquitted himself fairly well of late, he was stopped several times by either KO or TKO earlier in his UFC run.
Still, I think Lima can make good use of leg kicks early, while steering clear of Brown at his most potent and then look to take a firmer grip of the action in the later rounds as his opponent tires to secure a decision win.
Pick: Dhiego Lima wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Virna Jandiroba vs. Kanako Murata
Julian Erosa vs. Seung Woo Choi
Josh Parisian vs. Roque Martinez
Joaquim Silva vs. Rick Glenn
Casey O’Neill vs. Lara Procopio
Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Aleksa Camur
Khaos Williams vs. Matthew Semelsberger