UFC On ESPN 9 takes place tomorrow night at the UFC’s own APEX facility in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Main Card (ESPN / ESPN+)
Gilbert Burns vs. Tyron Woodley
While Woodley has been taking time out for over a year since his title loss in 2019, Burns has been rising up the ranks with an impressive string of victories.
Burns top-flight Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills are his main calling card, but he supplements that nicely with improving striking skills, respectable power, decent wrestling and he’s able to maintain a good pace.
Woodley generally operates at a significantly slower tempo, but he has thunderous power and speed in his right hand and will lie in wait like a sniper waiting for the perfect opportunity to unleash it, while he’s also a very good wrestler with stout takedown defense.
Of course someone of Kamaru Usman’s caliber could take Woodley down, but I expect Burns will struggle in that regard, which could foil his plans to work for a submission.
Burns is strong mentally and I think he will try to press the action against Woodley rather than just indulge him in a staring contest, but I also believe that ‘T-Wood’ is going to be a little less cautious in this fight as he looks to remind everyone why he’s so dangerous, and that will lead him to a second round TKO finish via strikes.
Tyron Woodley wins by TKO in Rd2.
Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai
Ivanov may be short and lacking in reach, but the bulky Bulgarian has still proven to be a tough, durable heavyweight with enough striking accumen and ground skills to be a challenging opponent for many in the division.
So far Sakai has settled nicely into life in the Octagon too, racking up three wins in a row so far while demonstrating his ability to finish fights on the feet with a high output of strikes, which has taken him to 11 stoppage victories in 14 career fights to date.
Ivanov is likely to have more to offer here in the clinch and on the mat though, while he works well on the counter in the striking exchanges and is hard to finish, so I believe he can mix things up here and secure a decision victory.
Blagoy Ivanov wins by decision.
Gabriel Green vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Green only had a few days notice for this fight with Rodriguez and is stepping up a weight class as well as the added pressure of making his UFC debut.
He’s not neccessarily being thrown to the wolves here though as he’s on a nice winning streak on the regional circuit and has the kind of aggressive style and knack for finding finishes both on the feet and the mat that makes him a challenging opponent.
Rodriguez only has one UFC to his name, but it was a good one, defeating a respected veteran in Tim Means by submission after also hurting him on the feet.
Green will likely take the fight to Rodriguez here, but ‘D-Rod’ is effective on the counter and will have the size and power advantage here, so I think he can pick his shots, land the bigger blows and then look to find a late finish here.
Daniel Rodriguez wins by TKO in Rd3.
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver
These two fighters are both recruits from Dana White’s Contender Series and have got off to a solid start in the UFC.
Roberts in particular seems to have a solid set of skills that could help him stick around for some time to come, with rangey striking, strong clinch work, good submissions and he can wrestle too.
Weaver is a hard-headed fighter who fights at a higher tempo and will attempt to overwhelm his opponent with his aggressive approach, but I think it will be Roberts who proves to be the stronger and technically better of the two as he uses his well-rounded fight game to earn a decision victory here.
Roosevelt Roberts wins by decision.
Hannah Cifers vs. Mackenzie Dern
There was a lot of buzz around Dern when she first switched over to competing in MMA after being a leading light in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world, but she hasn’t set the Octagon alight so far with her performances and a long absence due to becoming pregnant and then losing her comeback fight has left her with a lot still to prove.
Dern’s BJJ still remains very dangerous and she’s also very strong and has power in her hands, but her striking still unravels pretty quickly on a technical level and her all-round MMA game is very much of a work-in-progress.
Cifers could have some success on the feet here if she can keep this one standing and pick Dern apart, but she’s undersized for the division and I think Dern will be able to physically overpower her to get his one to the mat and then secure a first round submission victory.
Mackenzie Dern wins by submission in Rd1.
Prelims (ESPN / ESPN+)
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Spike Carlyle vs. Billy Quarantillo
Klidson Abreu vs. Jamahal Hill
Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Royval
Casey Kenney vs. Louis Smolka
Chris Gutierrez vs. Vince Morales