UFC On ESPN 47 takes place in Las Vegas tomorrow night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Marvin Vettori vs. Jared Cannonier
This is a battle between two former 185lb title challengers, with Vettori earning a decision victory over Roman Dolidze in his last fight, while Cannonier outpointed Sean Strickland.
Cannonier is a decade older than Vettori at 39 years old, but he still has a formidable physique and explosive power for his age. Cannonier is actually a fairly patient, methodical fighter, but when he unleashes his punches and leg kicks they tend to have a big impact. He’s also attempted to improve his takedown defense and ability to get back to his feet in more recent times, but he’s still not someone that’s comfortable being forced to work off his back.
Vettori is a relentless fighter, who can keep up a high pace for the full 25 minutes. He is also very durable and has never been finished in his career, despite facing a slew of dangerous strikers. He doesn’t have the same knockout power or kicking prowess as Cannonier, but he is a solid boxer who has a more well-rounded skill-set here with strong wrestling and solid submission skills.
Cannonier’s power and especially his leg kicks could give him an edge in this fight, but over five rounds I think the fact that the considerably younger Vettori’s work-rate, toughness and wrestling skills will help him gradually take over the fight and win by decision.
Pick: Marvin Vettori wins by decision.
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Joaquim Silva
In a somewhat surprising fight booking, the 8th ranked Tsarukyan comes in off a decision victory to take on Silva, who claimed a TKO win last time out, but was KO’d twice-in-a-row before that and is currently unranked.
The 26-year-old Tsarukyan is a well-rounded fighter who is sound both offensively and defensively on the feet, while he’s also a very good wrestler, an excellent scrambler and can threat with submissions. Given the fact that he’s also naturally athletic and has good cardio he has no obvious weak points and as such is a tough fight for anyone.
The 34-year-old Silva is a more flawed fighter, but he can be dangerous as he carries fight-ending power in his fists. However, he tends to overcommit to those power punches and leaves himself open to counters in the process, which is growing issue given that his chin has become an issue. Meanwhile, despite his ‘Netto BJJ’ nickname it’s rare that he actually utilizes grappling and he’s not got much in the way of wrestling to work with.
Tsarukyan is a big favorite here and for good reason and I think he’ll be able to avoid Silva’s bombs and either outstrike him on the feet or more likely opt to take him to the mat where ground-and-pound will pave the way for a second round stoppage.
Pick: Arman Tsarukyan wins by TKO In Rd2.
Armen Petrosyan vs. Christian Leroy Duncan
Duncan has a perfect 8-0 record in MMA and won by TKO in his UFC debut, while Petrosyan has gone 8-2 overall, including a 2-1 run in the UFC so far.
Petrosyan is not related to the decorated kickboxer of the same name, but he does come from a kickboxing background too and has used his powerful kicks and punches to finish opponents on the regional scene and on the Contender Series. He’s not stopped anyone in his three UFC bouts so far, but he has looked capable and has been able to demonstrate solid defensive chops on the feet alongside his offense.
Duncan came to the UFC as the Cage Warriors middleweight champion and his style certainly turns heads as he has a dynamic and creative striking style that led to some spectacular finishes using flying knees, spinning elbows and spinning heel kicks. He also has a long reach that will give him an 8″ edge over Petrosyan in that department. His UFC debut was cut short by a knee injury to his opponent Dusko Todorovic in the first round, so while he looks promising it still remains to be seen how he’ll cope in the UFC.
This may well prove to be a competitive striking battle and I think that extra spark and flare to Duncan’s offense will help him to earn a second round TKO victory.
Pick: Christian Leroy Duncan wins by TKO in Rd2.
Pat Sabatini vs. Lucas Almeida
Sabatini is coming off a TKO to Damon Jackson that snapped his four-fight win streak, while Almeida is on a roll with a 14-1 record that includes a TKO win in his UFC debut.
Sabatini is very good on the mat with solid wrestling complimenting skilled grappling ability that’s seem him earn 10 submissions from 17 career victories.
Almeida is an all-action striker with a 1″ height and 3″ reach advantage over Sabatini who has managed to finish all 14 of his career wins inside the distance, primarily via strikes, though he can work for submissions too.
Almeida will be a threat on the feet, but Sabatini will likely pursue his advantage on the mat here to enjoy sustained periods of control on top on his way to decision victory.
Pick: Pat Sabatini wins by decision.
Manuel Torres vs. Nikolas Motta
This is a clash of two Contender Series recruits, with Torres coming off a first round TKO of Frank Camacho in his UFC debut a year ago, while Motta has gone 1-1 record in the UFC and was also a competitor on TUF: Brazil 4 back in 2015.
This fight promises to be an exciting stand-up war between two fighters who are not afraid to exchange blows. Torres is a high-pressure striker who overwhelms his opponents with his volume and power. He’s a fast starter with 12 of his 13 wins coming in the first round either by knockout or submission. He can take a punch too, but has been submitted twice in his career.
Motta is a heavy-handed boxer who can also mix in head kicks too. He has a good knockout rate, with 9 of his 13 wins coming by KO or TKO, but he does have some potential durability issues, having been TKO’d by Jim Miller in his UFC debut last year in addition to also having suffered a couple of first round TKO losses in the past.
Both fighters have the ability to end the fight at any moment, but I think Torres has the edge in this match-up with his relentless striking and strong chin setting him up to earn a first round TKO victory.
Pick: Manuel Torres wins by TKO in Rd1.
Nicolas Dalby vs. Muslim Salikhov
Dalby is on a two-fight winning streak in the last 12 months and faces Salikhov, who recovered from a TKO defeat last July with a TKO victory over Andre Fialho in November.
Both fighters are getting up there in years, with Dalby at 38 and Salikhov at 39, but they have not shown much signs of slowing down yet. Dalby is still a tough, tenacious fighter who relies on his solid boxing with some kicks mixed in, will set a good tempo and he can also grapple well. Despite being in a number of wars Dalby also holds the distinction of still never being stopped in his 28-fight career.
Salikhov is a deceptive fighter who does not look all that athletic and doesn’t opt for a high-output approach, yet when he does so he is both skilled and dynamic, able to land both strong fundamentals thrown with power and spectacular spinning attacks delivered with impressive accuracy. He also has solid cardio for his age, doesn’t take too much damage and can also wrestle too when required.
Dalby is hard to put away but I think Salikhov’s unpredictable yet precise striking may catch him out at some point in this fight, leading to a third round TKO finish.
Pick: Muslim Salikhov wins by TKO in Rd3.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Raoni Barcelos vs. Miles Johns
Zac Pauga vs. Modestas Bukauskas
Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs. Felipe Bunes
Jimmy Flick vs. Alessandro Costa
Carlos Hernandez vs. Denys Bondar
Daniel Argueta vs. Ronnie Lawrence
Kyung Ho Kang vs. Cristian Quinonez
Tereza Bleda vs. Gabriella Fernandes