UFC On ESPN 55 Predictions

UFC On ESPN 55 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Matheus Nicolau vs. Alex Perez

Matheus Nicolau was KO’d by Brandon Royval in his last fight, but was on a four-fight winning streak beforehand.  Now he fights Alex Perez, who replaces Manel Kape on a few weeks notice and is coming off three defeats in a row.

A patient striker with good movement, the 31-year-old Nicolau bides his time before attacking with speed and precision.  He’s relatively sound defense, but his ability to take big shots is becoming more questionable now that he’s been KO’d twice in the 1st round in his UFC run.  Nicolau’s takedown defense is good and he can wrestle offensively, while he’s also a submission threat and even has a couple of wins via Japanese necktie in the octagon.

It’s not ideal that we’ve only seen the 32-year-old Perez in the Octagon twice since 2020.  His trio of losses looks bad too, although it should be stressed he was fighting three of the best in the division in Deiveson Figueireo, Alexandre Pantoja and Muhammad Mokaev.  Perez is a pressure-based fighter who looks to bully opponents with a blend of boxing and wrestling, but he’s had a consistent weakness with his submission defense over the years.

I could see this one going the  distance, but I feel Nicolau’s movement and more accurate striking will get the better of Perez to emerge with his hand raised.

Pick: Matheus Nicolau wins by decision.

Ryan Spann vs. Bogdan Guskov

No.11 ranked light-heavweight Ryan Spann has lost his last two fights and now will attempt to get back on track against Bogdan Guskov, who has a win and a loss in the Octagon.

A large, athletic 205lb’er, the 32-year-old Spann will hold a 2″ height and 3″ reach advantage in this fight.  And his physicality is something he leans on, with his long reach and power posing a problem for his opponents.  However Spann can get carried away and make silly mistakes and isn’t the best defensively.  He’s a decent offensive wrestler though and his submissions are a key asset, though as on the feet he can make blunders that lead to him being the one getting tapped out.

The 31-year-old Guskov is more focused on his heavy-handed striking.  He doesn’t have refined technique, but he has had a good knack for finishing his opponents via strikes in his career so far and has never gone to a decision.  His ground game seems fairly limited, though he will land heavy ground-and-pound if he gets on top.

Spann’s dodgy decision making means it’s always risky picking him, but I think he’ll have a distinct advantage on the mat here and so I’ll take him to submit Guskov in the first five minutes.

Pick: Ryan Spann wins by submission in Rd1.

Ariane Lipski vs. Karine Silva

Ariane Lipski enjoyed a three-fight winning streak in 2023 and now attempts to keep that momentum going against Karine Silva, who is also on a three-fight unbeaten run since joining the UFC.

The 30-year-old Lipski struggled to live up to the hype when she first joined the UFC after a stint as a KSW champ, going just 3-5 in her early years in the Octagon, but she’s found better success recently.  Lipski is an offensively-minded muay thai striker who stays active and will attack in combination with punches and kicks.  Despite her ‘Queen Of Violence’ nickname she rarely finishes fights on the feet though and defensive holes have meant her aggressive style hasn’t always paid off, having been finished three times via TKO in the UFC.  Lipski will also seek out the occasional takedown attempt and continues to remain offensive there looking for ground-and-pound and submission attempts.

Silva is the same age as Lipski and unlike her opponent has got off to a good start in the UFC.  She’s not as aggressive as Lipski on the feet, has is a solid kickboxer, while she’s a better wrestler and has shown good skill in the grappling department, with all four of her UFC wins so far coming by submission and the majority of those inside the first round.

Lipski has done well to get a run going in the UFC but I feel Silva can be very competitive with her wherever the fight goes and should be able to get the better of her on the mat to emerge with a decision victory.

Prediction: Karine Silva to win by decision.

Austen Lane vs. Jhonata Diniz

Austen Lane has yet to get a win under his belt since joining from the Contender Series, with his first fight with Justin Tafa swiftly ending in a no-contest due to an eyepoke, while he was KO’d in 82 seconds in their rematch.  Now he faces a new opponent in Jhonata Diniz, who will be making his debut from the Contender Series and holds a 6-0 record.

A former NFL recruit who struggled to make his mark there, the 36-year-old Lane turned his attention to MMA in 2017.  As you might expect he’s an athletic heavyweight and has good height and reach, but though he has 17 fights to his name he’s still rough around the edges with a limited skill-set.  He does have finishing power on the feet, but he’s also been finished four times via strikes, including once against another ex-NFL player Greg Hardy in under a minute.

The 32-year-old Diniz had a lengthy career in kickboxing before turning his focus to MMA, competing for the likes of Glory along the way.  His striking ability has served him well in the cage so far as he’s won all six of his fights via strikes, but he’s yet to face a significant level of opposition and his ground game is largely untested.

I don’t expect Octagon jitters from the newcomer given that he’s fought at a high level in kickboxing and has gone the distance with the likes of Rico Verhoeven and Daniel Ghita in that sport.  He’ll be the more technical striker here and given that Lane is fairly poor defensively I think a first round finish could well be on the cards here.

Pick: Jhonata Diniz wins by TKO in Rd1.

Jonathan Pearce vs. David Onama

Jonathan Pearce saw his five-fight unbeaten run come to an end when he was submitted by Joanderson Brito last time out.  Now he fights David Onama, who earned a KO victory in his last appearance, his third win in his last four bouts.

A tall featherweight, the 31-year-old Pearce is the kind of fighter who likes to push a pace and grind down his opponents.  He’ll apply pressure and battle through strikes to work into his favored clinch and wrestling positions and from there does a good job of wearing on his opponent’s energy reserves, setting up opportunities for a finish in the later stages of the fight.

Another large 145lb’er, the 29-year-old Onama will have a 3″ reach advantage despite Pearce being a little taller.  Onama is an athletic striker with explosive punching power and good speed, while he’s proven to be a threat on the mat too with capable submission ability.  His takedown defense is shaky though and he’s had cardio issues at times too.

Pearce will have to be careful of Onama’s power and speed here, particularly early in the fight, but I think he can get his grinding gameplan going at close quarters and win on the scorecards.

Pick: Jonathan Pearce wins by decision.

Tim Means vs. Uros Medic

A TKO last time out helped Tim Means cast aside a three-fight losing streak and now he’ll try to build on that against Uros Medic, who suffered a submission loss in his last Octagon outing, but had won two fights by TKO beforehand.

A grizzled 40-year-old veteran with 50 fights to his name, Means remains a battle-hardened, gritty fighter.  He delivers kicks and solid punches on outside, but also likes to slice and dice his opponents with knees and elbow on the inside, while leaning on his own durability to win out in a war of attrition.  Means can look for a takedown and is capable of going for submission, but has also been tapped out himself at times.

10 years Means junior, the 30-year-old Medic is an aggressive striker with proven finishing power that’s stayed with him regardless of his weight class, while he spices up his offensive onslaughts with the occasional spinning attack.  Wrestling’s not a strong suit for him though and getting back to his feet and defending submissions can be a struggle.

This is likely to be a striking battle and though Means is still tough as nails I do wonder if he can still rely on his durability at this late stage in his career against an equally aggressive striker with good power, so I’ll take Medic to win by TKO in the 2nd round.

Pick: Uros Medic wins by TKO in Rd2.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Rani Yahya vs. Victor Henry
Austin Hubbard vs. Michal Figlak
Gabriel Benitez vs. Maheshate
Don’Tale Mayes vs. Caio Machado
Marnic Mann vs. Ketlen Souza
Ivana Petrovic vs. Liang Na

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.