UFC On ESPN+ 3 takes place tomorrow in Prague and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Main Card (ESPN+)
Jan Blachowicz vs. Thiago Santos
These two have been making a dent in the light-heavyweight division in recent times and it’ll be interesting to see who can keep their winning run going in Prague.
Blachowicz managed to pull himself out of a losing slump well and improvement in his striking has helped, and he’ll need that as while Santos doesn’t have the most technical stand-up, he goes all out for the finish with big power and utilizes kicks well.
Blachowicz is the better grappler and that could be a good way to victory for him, or he could risk trying to just outstrike Santos technically to claim a decision victory, but while he has more ways to win I think the Brazilian is the more dangerous fighter and is going to hurt his Polish counterpart on the feet and earn a TKO victory.
Thiago Santos wins by TKO in Rd2.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Stefan Struve
Struve has taken a lot of punishment over the years and though he’s still only in his early 30’s it’s quite possible that’s taken a substantial toll on him.
However, it’s worth remembering that he’s had a series of tough fights in a row, and on paper this looks like a less daunting challenge, with De Lima being a fighter whose struggled to find any consistency in the UFC and is only just dipping his toes into the water at heavyweight.
Still, De Lima is going to be a threat early in this fight despite operating at a major height and reach advantage as he’s very aggressive in coming forward on the attack, and Struve isn’t the best at keeping opponent’s at bay and away from his fragile chin, despite his size.
However, Struve has an ace up his sleeve here as he has very good submissions, and that just happens to be an area that De Lima is vulnerable, so if he can avoid being sucked into the striking battle for too long and goes for the takedown I think this is a fight he can end inside the distance and get back to winning ways.
Stefan Struve wins by submission in Rd2.
Gian Villante vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
It’s quite likely these two are just going to look to slug it out, but it remains to be seen if either is going to be able to find a definitive finish as they are both particularly hard-headed.
Oleksiejczuk has only just turned 24 today, so he’s still a fighter adding new skills to his game, which at the moment is really built around being a hard-hitting brawler with a granite chin.
On the other hand, the 33-year-old Villante hasn’t added anything to his tool belt in a long time and remains a predictable, somewhat plodding slugger with a distinct lack of defense.
I doubt this is a pretty fight, but I think there’s more versatility to Oleksiejczuk’s striking arsenal and he’s just going to have a little more spark than Villante as he fights his way to a decision victory.
Michal Oleksiejczuk wins by decision.
Liz Carmouche vs. Lucie Pudilova
Pudilova hails from the Czech Republic, so there’s going to be a huge amount of support for her on Saturday night and if she gets her way she’ll be entertaining the crowd as she is going to be putting Carmouche under lots of pressure on the feet with a high striking output.
However, Carmouche is the stronger of the two and is the better wrestler, so I believe she won’t be entertaining Pudilova in the striking battle for long before she looks to bring her to the mat.
From there it’s likely that Carmouche will simply be able to keep Pudilova down and control the action as she grinds her way to a decision victory that will frustrate Pudilova and the Prague crowd.
Liz Carmouche wins by decision.
John Dodson vs. Petr Yan
Dodson has alternated between wins and losses throughout his bantamweight run, but while he lacks the power he was packing at 125lbs and is perhaps at 34-year-old not quite as sharp as he used to be, he’s still a tough fight for anyone in the division.
Yan is eight years younger than Dodson and doesn’t have his vast wealth of UFC experience, but his fights so far have shown that he could be a serious force to be reckoned with and this is the kind of fight that could take him to the next level.
Yan is a talented striker with plenty of eye-catching attacks and solid defense, so he’ll be looking to bring the fight to Dodson, who will be hoping to use his speed, agility and counter-striking to make him pay for his aggression.
It’s an interesting fight and provides Yan with his toughest test to date, but while it won’t be easy to get the better of Dodson, I think he’s talented enough to do so and will manage to outstrike him to win on the scorecards.
Petr Yan wins by decision.
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Klidson Farias de Abreu
Ankalaev is a real handful on the mat and delivers punishing ground and pound, while he’s no slouch on the feet either.
He’s still looking to fully shake off the memory of dominating a fight with Paul Craig up until the final second of the fight when he was tapped out by a triangle choke, and that will make him wary of Abreu, who also provides a serious submission threat.
I think Ankalaev will still be looking to get Abreu to the mat though and will just play it a little more cautiously to ensure he doesn’t get caught in anything untoward as he outgrapples him until the final bell.
Magomed Ankalaev wins by decision.
Prelims (ESPN+) (Predicted winners in bold)
Carlo Pedersoli vs. Dwight Grant
Chris Fishgold vs. Daniel Teymur
Veronica Macedo vs. Gillian Robertson
Damir Hadzovic vs. Marco Polo Reyes
Michel Prazeres vs. Ismail Naurdiev
Diego Ferreira vs. Rustam Khabilov
Damir Ismagulov vs. Joel Alvarez