UFC On ESPN 37 takes place this coming Saturday night in Austin, Texas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett
After a humbling loss to Max Holloway early last year, Kattar got back on the horse and showed what he’s made of in impressive fashion by defeating another high-level striker in Giga Chikadze in January and now he’ll take on Emmett, who is enjoying a good run of form with four wins in a row to his name.
Kattar holds a 5″ height and 2″ reach advantage here, which he’ll put to good use with his well versed technical boxing ability, while he also likes to throw elbow strikes into his combinations too. He can be there to be hit back at times, but he is very durable and has only been finished once in his 28-fight run in the sport.
Meanwhile, Emmett packs thunderous power in his punches and so while he does have a very good wrestling base he does like to stand and look for a big finish instead. He can focus to much on landing that one big punch though and so he’s now going to be as active or as technical as Kattar in the striking exchanges.
Emmett could change the fight in an instant, but kattar isn’t easy to finish and I lean towards his slicker, higher-volume striking to win rounds and ultimately win the fight on the scorecards.
Pick: Calvin Kattar wins by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon
Lightweight legends at the tail-end of their respective careers go to war here with these two having already broken multiple UFC records between them during their long runs in the promotion.
The fight comes at a time when the 39-year-old Cerrone is in desperate need of a reversal of fortunes, having now gone six fights in a row without a victory, while the 37-year-old Lauzon had lost three fights in a row before picking up a TKO win over Jonathan Pierce back in 2019 and then appeared to retire, before being drawn in back into the fold for this match-up well over two years later.
Cerrone’s woes extend beyond just the fact that he’s losing though as the manner of his defeats is even more concerning, with four of them having come by TKO, so he’s clearly not the fighter he once was and has become more fragile after all the wars he’s been in.
Nevertheless, while he might be slowing down, Cerrone is still a talented striker who will offer up a threat offensively with his technical ability, throwing solid kicks and punches at range, while always having a knee strike lying in wait at closer range.
Lauzon doesn’t take a punch as well as he did in the past either, and you can visibly see his discomfort at times as later in his career he tended to just cover up in a stationary defensive shell when coming under sustained fire.
On the mat Lauzon is a crafty veteran though who has been adept at finding submission finishes, though it’s worth noting that Cerrone also has an underrated submission game and has only been tapped out once in his career.
At this stage in his career it feels like there’s a lot of opponents out there that Cerrone would have beaten in the past who he would struggle to get the better of now. However, I don’t think Lauzon is one of them as ‘Cowboy’ still has a distinct advantage on the feet and Lauzon doesn’t have particularly big power and won’t be able to have it all his own way on the mat. So I believe Cerrone will best him on the feet and emerge with a second round TKO finish.
Pick: Donald Cerrone wins by TKO in Rd2.
Kevin Holland vs. Tim Means
After a disappointing spell at middleweight that saw him lose three fights in a row, Holland moved down to welterweight last time out and picked up a TKO win over Alex Oliveira, and now goes up against another veteran in means, who is now 38-years-old, but has proved there’s still life in the old dog yet with three decision wins in a row.
The 29-year-old Holland’s downfall at middleweight came when he went up against high level wrestlers who were able to dominate him on the mat, but that’s unlikely to be a concern here as Means will be a willing dance partner on the feet with his tough, gritty striking style that will see him try to turn this into a bloody ‘war of attrition’ with his high-volume offense.
Holland’s always been a talented striker though, as was shown during his five-fight winning streak at middleweight before his slump in form, during which he racked up four T(KO) wins. He’ll have a major 6″ inch reach advantage here and is also the faster of the two, as well as carrying more power in his strikes.
Means is tough as old boots, but I think Holland’s reach, power and speed will prove to be too potent a combination for him to withstand, resulting in a TKO stoppage in the 2nd round.
Pick: Kevin Holland wins by TKO in Rd2.
Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev
Buckley is on a two-fight winning run heading into this fight, while Contender Series recruit Duraev made a successful start to his time in the UFC last October with a unanimous decision victory.
Buckley put himself on the MMA map with a viral spinning-back kick KO back in 2020 and he’s proven that wasn’t just a one-off by also having delivered two big KO victories via punches, although there have also been low points too, such as when he fell victim to a highlight-reel head kick KO himself against Allessio di Chirico last year, while he had to settle for a split decision win over Abdul Razak Alhassan last time out.
Duraev likely won’t be looking to test his striking against Buckley here as he’s at his best on the mat, where heavy top control and a solid submission record offers up clear paths to victories for him here.
Buckley’s certainly going to come up second best on the mat here, which in turn is likely to make him more wary of committing to his strikes on the feet, so I think Duraev has a solid chance to emerge victorious here via submission in the second round, assuming he can steer clear of being caught by a big blow as he closes the distance to work for takedown attempts.
Pick: Albert Duraev wins by submission in Rd2.
Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze
Former M-1 lightweight champion Ismagulov has picked up four wins on the scorecards in a row since joining the UFC, while Kutateladze had a good run on the regional circuit before claiming a big scalp in his UFC debut by edging out the highly rated Mateusz Gamrot by split decision.
Unfortunately for Kutateladze he hasn’t been able to build on that win until now as he had to undergo knee surgery and then had a rib injury, which has kept him on the sidelines for the past two years.
Kutateladze is a striker first-and-foremost and he has the bigger firepower, while he’s also demonstrated an ability to manufacture ways to get back to his feet if he’s taken down.
Like his opponent, Ismagulov hasn’t been very active himself, including not having fought in the past year after his last scheduled bout in October of 2021 was scrapped after he completely botched his weight cut.
Ismagulov has well-rounded skills and while he might not be as hard a hitter as Kutateladze he will be a bit more active, but also a good wrestling game too and will opt for a control based gameplan on top, though his ground-and-pound is good too.
This is a well-matched fight, but I think Ismagulov’s wrestling advantage along with question marks over how Kutateladze will be after such a long layoff leaves me favoring him to win out on the scorecards here.
Pick: Damir Ismagulov wins by decision.
Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues
After well over two years on the sidelines due to a shoulder injury, Marquez made up for lost time in 2021 with two submission wins in a row, while Rodrigues began his time in the UFC with back-to-back wins, but lost out to Armen Petrosyan by split decision in his last bout.
Both fighters are capable of putting up a fight wherever the action goes in this main-card opener. Rodrigues has stopping power in his fist and will confidently march forward looking to prove that, though it can be to the detriment of his defensive responsibilities. Meanwhile, he is also an accomplished BJJ player, but perhaps doesn’t utilize that aspect of game as much as he should.
Marquez is an all-rounder who has the better wrestling of the two here and notable finishing ability via strikes and submissions, though he often seems to be losing fights up until the point he finds a way to gain the upper-hand, and does eat big strikes in the process.
Rodrigues should be able to shut down Marquez’s submission threat here as the superior grappler, while he’s the heavier handed striker on the feet and should have opportunities to make that count, resulting in an end to the action in the second round via TKO.
Pick: Gregory Rodrigues wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Adrian Yanez vs. Tony Kelley
Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva
Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells
Ricardo Ramos vs. Daniel Chavez
Maria Oliveira vs. Gloria de Paula
Eddie Wineland vs. Cody Stamann
Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn
Roman Dolidze vs. Kyle Daukaus