UFC On ESPN 58 Predictions

UFC On ESPN 58 takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.

Main Card

Alex Perez vs. Tatsuro Taira

Alex Perez earned a big KO win over Mattheus Nicolau last time out out to put an end to a three-fight losing skid and now fights the undefeated 15-0 Tatsuro Taira, who has won all five of his UFC fights.

The 32-year-old Perez’s trio of losses came against top talents in the division, including losing out in a title challenge to Deiveson Figueiredo back in 2020, so there’s no shame in that.  However, it was also concerning that he was competing less than once a year, but he’s turned that around now with a good performance against Nicolau and now agreeing to his third fight in almost as many months on Saturday night.  Perez is a good pressure fighter who will work his scrappy boxing to the body and head, mixes in some solid low kick and will also seek out wrestling opportunities.  When he has control on top he can apply good ground-and-pound and will present a submission threat too, although he’s been submitted himself several times over the years.

Taira has compiled a strong record up to this point and is still only 24-years-old, but we’ve yet to see him tested against a notable contender like Perez.  Taira is 1″ taller than Perez but actually has 5″ in reach over him and will use that to land his clean, accurate straight punches and kicks from range, though he can still be caught on the counter at times.  He’s skilled in other areas too with good wrestling and very good jiu-jitsu, showing a mature, methodical approach on the mat and a proven ability to lock in submission finishes.

This is an intriguing fight as Perez seems to be re-energized and his power advantage, pressure and solid wrestling could be beneficial here. However, while his desire to make up for lost time is understandable, fighting so frequently all of a sudden could backfire on him.  So, with Taira having youth on his side, the skill to be competitive wherever the fight goes and the submission ability to be a real headache for Perez on the mat I think he’ll find a 2nd round finish here.

Pick: Tatsuro Taira wins by submission in Rd2.

Timothy Cuamba vs. Lucas Almeida

Timothy Cuamba lost out by split-decision in his UFC debut earlier in the year and now fights Lucas Almeida, who is coming off back-to-back defeats last year.

The 33-year-old Almeida is a tall and committed striker who likes to get into a battle on the feet and more-often than not so far has been able to make that work for him as all 14 of his career wins have ended inside the distance, with most coming via strikes, though he is capable of submissions too.  He’s not got much in the way of speed though and is susceptible to being hit, which resulted in Andre Fili becoming the first fighter to TKO him last time out in the opening round.

The 25-year-old Cuamba shouldn’t be judged too harshly for narrowly losing in his UFC debut as he agreed to the fight just 8 days after he’d picked up a TKO win in a regional promotion.  He has the same reach as Almeida despite being 3″ shorter and should have a distinct speed advantage that’ll aid his solid striking ability here.

Almeida will look to make this a scrap, but I’m not sure that works out for him as Cuamba is fresher, faster and more athletic, and should be able to exploit his opponent’s defensive weaknesses to find a 2nd round finish.

Pick: Timothy Cuamba wins by TKO in Rd2.

Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Miles Johns

Douglas Silva Andrade has won two of his last three fights, while Miles Johns had a fight last year overturned from a win to a no-contest due to testing positive for turinabol, but did win two fights before and after that.

Andrade’s form in the UFC has been up and down at times, but despite now being 38-years-old he’s actually found a bit more consistency with three wins in his last four fights.  Andrade is a versatile and dynamic striker who tends to favor power over technicality and does have a strong finishing rate, with 20 out of his 29 victories coming via strikes.  He doesn’t have the best defense, but even so over his lengthy career he’s proven to be durable and has only suffered once loss via strikes as well as one via submission.

Johns has compiled a 14-2 (1nc) record so far.  The 30-year-old is one of those kind of wrestlers that has fallen more in love with striking over time.  He’s not the most technical in that regard and does overcommit on his offense, but he does have potential finishing power in his hands.  Nevertheless, he’s still more effective when he at least attempts to make some use of his wrestling and would do well to do that more often.

If they end up just trading strikes then I favor Andrade, but I think Johns will make use of his wrestling advantage here, which will help him to edge out otherwise close rounds as well as making his opponent more hesitant to commit to his strikes, leading Johns to a win on the scorecards.

Pick: Miles Johns wins by decision.

Asu Almabayev vs. Jose Johnson

Asu Almabayev has gone 19-2 in his career, including two wins in the UFC so far, and now takes on Jose Johnson, who is 16-8 overall and 1-1 in his UFC run.

While Almabayev’s overall form is clearly better, Johnson has won four of his last five fights and so it’s surprising that this already 6ft tall, lean 135lb’er is now dropping down to 125lbs.  We’ll have to see how well he holds up physically there, but it will give the 29-year-old a whopping 8″ height and 6″ reach advantage over Almabayev on Saturday night.  Johnson does use his size well with clean strikes at a distance, and he can work for submissions on the mat too.  However he’s not got the best takedown defense and he can have problems fending off submissions.

Regardless of the size disadvantage Almabayev should enter this fight with plenty of confidence as the 30-year-old has the ability to do well wherever the fight goes.  While he’s capable of doing so I don’t seem looking to entertain Johnson on the feet here as there should be every opportunity to make use of his strong, fast wrestling game, while on the mat he’s adept at working to the back and finishing via submission.

A first round submission finish for Almabayev is certainly possible here, but typically he doesn’t rush to do so and so I’ll say he emerges with a second round stoppage here.

Pick: Asu Almabayev wins by submission in Rd2.

Brady Hiestand vs. Garrett Armfield

Brady Hiestand and Garrett Armfield each head into this main card opener coming off back-to-back victories.

Hiestand became a TUF finalist at 22-years-old, but due to injuries and ailments the now 25-year-old hasn’t been able to compete as much as he might have hoped in the few years since.  Hiestand has quite good wrestling and grappling, but it’s not hard to lure him into trading blows on the feet, which isn’t always in his best interests.

The 27-year-old Armfield will certainly welcome keeping this one on the feet as he’s a capable striker who is comfortable competing at close quarters and has active offense, solid power and has proven to be quite durable too.  If the fight does hit the mat his submission defense is a potential concern though.

Heistand is still a bit rough-and-ready in his approach and I think Armfield will  be able to keep him engaged in a striking battle for the most part that he’ll get the better of to win by decision.

Pick: Garrett Armfield wins by decision.

Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)

Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Joshua Van
Jimmy Flick vs. Nate Maness
Josh Quinlan vs. Adam Fugitt
Carli Judice vs. Gabriella Fernandes
Jeka Saragih vs. Westin Wilson
Josefine Lindgren Knutsson vs. Julia Polastri
Melquizael Costa vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke

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.