UFC On ESPN 50 Predictions

UFC On ESPN 50 takes place tomorrow night in Nashville and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Cory Sandhagen vs. Rob Font

The 4th ranked Sandhagen raised some eyebrows when he challenged the promising Nurmagomedov for his next bout given that he’s a tough opponent, yet is much further down the rankings. He got what he wanted, but Nurmagomedov had to pull out due to an injury and was replaced by the No.7 ranked Font, who stepped in on short notice after a TKO victory in his last fight.

Sandhagen is an exciting fighter to watch with his varied and skillful striking game. He uses his long reach well and switches stances to keep his opponents off-balance as he fires of frequent punches and kicks from different angles, while he’s also dangerous with knees at close quarters.  While he’s not the hardest hitter he has delivered some big finishes at times, but will often just overwhelm opponents with constant offense and even the occasional takedown too in order to win on the scorecards.

Font is a veteran fighter who has beaten some quality opponents, but has also lost to some of the top 135lb’ers. He is a sharp boxer who works the body and the head well and he has a strong chin, having never been stopped by strikes in his 26-fight career. Font can also wrestle offensively, but he struggles more with defending takedowns.

I think Sandhagen will win this fight with his more diverse and creative striking game, with his kicks being an important weapon to keep Font at bay. Font is hard to finish though, so I think in the end Sandhagen emerges with a decision victory here.

Pick: Cory Sandhagen wins by decision.

Jessica Andrade vs. Tatiana Suarez

Former strawweight champion Andrade is currently in a slump, having lost her last two fights by submission and KO earlier this year. Now she has another challenging fight ahead of her as she steps in with only four weeks to prepare for former TUF winner Suarez, who came back from a four-year injury layoff in February and secured a submission win.

Andrade’s has an aggressive brawling style that’s worked for her in the past, but lately it has backfired as both Blanchfield and Yiaonan outstruck her with more precision and composure. There’s a sense that Andrade isn’t able to change things up when things aren’t going her way and instead just doubles down on her aggression, which has only made things worse, particularly since she’s now showing signs of declining durability after the wars she’s been in.

Given that it feels like there’s some need to go back to the drawing board it’s surprising that she’s returning so soon after a KO loss in May for what’s likely to be a challenging stylistic match-up. Despite having several years of her career taken from her due to injury, the 32-year-old Suarez looked impressive in her comeback win over De La Rosa, showcasing her dominant wrestling and submission skills that had her on the verge of a title shot before her injuries.

Andrade can wrestle too, but she tends to use brute force rather than technique and I think that will work out poorly against a more technical ground technician like Suarez, who should be able to control the action with her wrestling en-route to a 2nd round submission finish.

Pick: Tatiana Suarez wins by submission in Rd2.

Dustin Jacoby vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu

Nzechukwu is looking to extend his winning streak to four fights when he faces Jacoby, who went unbeaten in seven fights to start off his 2nd stint in the UFC on a high, but has since suffered two consecutive losses by decision.

Nzechukwu, nicknamed ‘The African Savage’, is an imposing physical presence in the division and so even against a big 205lb’er like Jacoby he still has a 5″ reach advantage. Nzechukwu is also very athletic and has devastating power in his fists, elbows, knees and kicks. He fights well from range, but can also be a threat in  close and is strong in the clinch.

Jacoby is a striker who even simultaneously competed in high-level Glory kickboxing while fighting in MMA for a number of years. That helps give him a technical edge over Nzechukwu with his good boxing and heavy low kicks, but he doesn’t have quite the same finishing power as his opponent.

At 35 years old, Jacoby is past his prime years and that may be reflected in some of his results lately.  Meanwhile, at 31, Nzechukwu seems to be improving with every fight and I feel he can have the bigger moments in this fight to help earn a decision victory.

Pick: Kennedy Nzechukwu wins by decision.

Diego Lopes vs. Gavin Tucker

Lopes impressed in his extremely short-notice debut loss against the unbeaten Movsar Evloev and now is back against Tucker, who has been out of action for over two years since suffering a brutal knockout by Dan Ige in less than half a minute.

Tucker’s long layoff is a concern mark here, especially at 37 years of age and in a division that is full of fast and furious fighters. Tucker has been a well-rounded fighter in the past, with solid striking and a ground game that blends scrambles and submissions.  He has had a couple of tough losses during his UFC run that raises doubts about his durability though.

Lopes stood out in his debut thanks to his fearless attitude and aggressive, yet effective style against Evloev on the feet with strikes and on the mat with submissions off his back.

He has had more time to prepare for this fight and I expect he will pressure Tucker from the start to ensure he doesn’t have time to shake off the ring rust, leading him first to success on the feet before moving on to secure a submission finish in the 2nd round.

Pick: Diego Lopes to win by submission in Rd2.

Tanner Boser vs. Aleksa Camur

This is a crucial fight for both men, who are both in search of better form as Camur has lost his last two fights, while Boser has only one win in his last five outings.

Boser tried to cut down to light-heavyweight for his previous fight against Ion Cutelaba in April, but it went badly, getting knocked out in the first round. Boser was never a big heavyweight or a powerful puncher, but he had good footwork and decent striking skills, at least by that division’s standards. However, those advantages are less likely to make an impact down at 205lbs, and with his previous durability now under question it’s unclear if he can really make his mark in his new weight class.

Meanwhile, Camur is returning after a two-year layoff. He might be a bit small for light-heavyweight, but he has a muscular physique and is the younger fighter at 27 too. He prefers to strike, with good punching power and he likes to mix in kicks too.

Neither fighter really stands out from the crowd, but Boser is more experienced and has been fighting more frequently, so if he sticks to the basics like usual then I could see that being enough to eek out a fairly uninspiring decision victory over Camur.

Pick: Tanner Boser wins by decision.

Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Ludovit Klein

“Both fighters here are in good form heading into this one, with Bahamondes winning his last three fights, while Klein has two wins and a draw.

Bahamondes is a huge lightweight who has had issues making the weight limit in the past. He’ll enjoy a significant size advantage in this fight, as he is 6″ taller and has 3” more reach than Klein, and he moves well for his size. Bahamondes has a kickboxing background and uses his long limbs to keep his opponents at bay, especially with his kicks, which are an effective weapon.

Klein used to fight at featherweight and has a compact, but athletic build at 155lbs. He is a skilled striker with good speed and likes to mix up his attacks with flashy techniques and has a few head kick KO finishes on his record, but can also threaten with submissions too.

Klein has the speed and technique to challenge Bahamondes on the feet, but I think Bahamondes will use his size and range to outstrike him and win by decision.

Pick: Ignacio Bahamondes to win by decision.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Billy Quarantillo vs. Damon Jackson
Raoni Barcelos vs. Kyler Phillips
Jeremiah Wells vs. Carlston Harris
Sean Woodson vs. Jesse Butler
Cody Durden vs. Jake Hadley
Ode Osbourne vs. Assu Almabayev

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.