UFC On ESPN 46 takes place tomorrow night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi
AFter losing out in his interim flyweight title fight against Brandon Moreno, Kara-France now returns to action against Albazi, who has won four straight fights since joining the UFC in 2020.
Kara-France is the more experienced fighter here and is a skilled boxer who can mix it up on the feet with his crisp combinations, powerful punches and solid kicks. He likes to pressure his opponent and can operate well at close range, while he also has good takedown defense and can hold his own on the mat.
Albazi is a capable striker, but his biggest strength in this fight is likely to be his wrestling and grappling. He has a knack for taking his opponents down and controlling them on the mat, while he has shown good finishing ability via submission throughout his career.
This is a close fight that could go either way depending on where it takes place. Kara-France might have the edge in striking, but I think Albazi’s stronger ground game will help him win rounds to emerge with a decision victory.
Pick: Amir Albazi to win by decision.
Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda
Pick: Daniel Pineda to win by submission in Rd2.
Jim Miller vs. Jesse Butler
The 39-year-old Miller already holds the record for the most fights in UFC history (41) but is still continuing to compete as he looks to bounce back from a loss against an ultra-short-notice newcomer in Jesse Butler, who steps in on just a couple of days notice to replace Jared Gordon.
The 31-year-old Butler comes into the UFC on a five-fight winning streak fighting mostly for Fury FC. He is primarily a grappler who will look to clinch up and get the fight to the mat where he’ll actively hunt for submissions and has finished 8 of his 12 career victories in that fashion.
It’s a big ask to go up against a vastly experienced veteran like Miller though, having never fought anyone who is even remotely on his level before. Miller’s grappling has always been a strong suit, but oddly at this late stage in his career his punching power on the feet has also improved, which has only added to his well-rounded skills.
Miller is starting to slow down though and his cardio is eroding, so there’s glimmers of hope for Butler, but I’ve got to go with the veteran here to claim a decision victory.
Prediction: Jim Miller wins by decision.
Tim Elliott vs. Victor Altamirano
Elliott comes in with wins in three of his last four fights, while Altamirano is 2-1 since joining from the Contender Series.
Elliott is a 36-year-old veteran who fights with an unconventional style on the feet with little in the way of a finishing threat, but compensates for that with his crafty and chaotic grappling skills on the mat that’ll see him eagerly engage in scrambles and hunt for submissions.
Altamirano has a 4″ reach advantage and can be a bit wild with his high-volume but not particularly potent striking. He struggles to defend takedowns, but he is better at initiating them and he can be dangerous with his ground-and-pound and submission attempts.
I think Altamirano’s more offensive style on the feet will give Elliott plenty of chances to take him down, where I feel he’ll be able to outgrapple him over three rounds and earn a decision victory.
Pick: Tim Elliott to win by decision.
Karine Silva vs. Ketlen Souza
After winning her first UFC fight, Silva now faces Souza, who makes her UFC debut after winning Invicta FC’s flyweight title.
Silva has a size advantage over Souza, being taller by 2″ and having 3″ more reach. She likes to pressure her opponents and throw punches in bunches with good power. She can also wrestle and has a diverse submission arsenal, as she showed by finishing her last fight with a brabo choke.
Souza is not very technical on the feet, but she carries power in her punches. She moves well and can bait her opponents into her counter-strikes. She has proven her stamina by going five rounds in two of her last three fights and while she only has one submission win on her record, she recently earned her BJJ black belt.
I think Silva is better in several aspects here and will outstrike Souza and then take her down to secure a submission finish in the second round.
Pick: Karine Silva wins by submission in Rd2.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Zaleski has split his last four fights evenly between wins and losses, while Nurmagomedov has bounced back from a loss in his UFC debut with two wins in a row.
Zaleski is returning to action after a year-and-a-half hiatus due to a USADA suspension after testing positive for the banned substance Ostarine. He is a flashy and dangerous striker who uses dynamic kicks and capoeira-influences to deliver spectacular finishes at times. It’s not all style over substance in his case as at his best he has on a seven-fight winning streak in the UFC.
However, Zaleski struggles with defending takedowns and that could be a problem against Nurmagomedov, who is a relative of former lightweight champion Khabib. Abubakar might not be quite at the level of some of his other family members, but he is a solid wrestler who can dominate on the ground and grind out victories and can also use his striking to set-up his takedown attempts.
I think Zaleski would have the edge if he could keep the fight standing, but I have my doubts he can avoid Nurmagomedov’s takedowns and ground control, so I’ll take Nurmagomedov to win by decision.
Picks: Abubakar Nurmagomedov wins by decision.
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Muhammad Naimov
Philipe Lins vs. Maxim Grishin
Elise Reed vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Andrei Arlovski vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Da’mon Blackshear vs. Luan Lacerda