The UFC returns with a 14 fight card headlined by a five round main event between Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori.
The action gets started at 1pm EST and streams on ESPN+.
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Marvin Vettori (-180) vs. Paulo Costa (+155)
This week’s main event pits UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya’s last two challengers against each other. Marvin Vettori dropped a unanimous decision to Adesanya, while Paulo Costa was knocked out in the second round. It will now be contested at a catchweight of 195 pounds after Costa announced Wednesday that he was 211 pounds and would not be able to make the middleweight limit.
Vettori had won five fights in a row prior to losing to Adesanya for a second time. His only other loss in the UFC came to Antonio Carlos Junior by unanimous decision. He’s 7-3 overall with five wins by decision and two by submission.
Costa hasn’t fought since being knocked out by Adesanya. He pulled out of a fight with Jared Cannonier in August and there was the ridiculous excuse of Costa getting drunk on wine the night before the fight with Adesanya. Costa won his first five fights in the UFC, four by knockout inside two rounds. He then earned his title shot with a unanimous decision over Yoel Romero.
Costa is a powerful and dangerous striker, especially early. He isn’t just a striker, though. He’s a good grappler and has solid takedown defense. Costa just prefers to strike where few can deal with his power and volume.
Vettori is a well-rounded fighter. He’s a decent striker, solid wrestler and has good submission grappling skills. He’s quite durable and his biggest weakness would be his cardio, but Vettori has gone the five round distance in three straight fights.
I was debating picking Costa, but after all this weight controversy, I’m growing more and more confident in Vettori. Vettori is good enough standing to hang with Costa and he has the more proven cardio. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Vettori and I believe he’ll be able to score a few takedowns on a tiring Costa. Depending on how exhausted Costa, Vettori may even be able to find a finish.
UPDATE: The fight is now being contested at 205 pounds, which I believe changes things in favor of Costa. Cutting from 211 pounds to 195 pounds in two days wasn’t going to be fun and likely was going to deplete him still. Now he’s barely cutting anything. Is he hurt or was he just gaming the system ala Nick Diaz a month ago?
185 and 195 favored Vettori. 205 favors Costa. I hate flip flopping and all this bullshit makes it impossible to have strong conviction in my pick. Vettori is a huge meathead and Costa’s antics might just be enough for him to act reckless and get knocked out. I’m not confident, but I have to make a pick so it’s going to be Costa.
PREDICTION: Costa by first round knockout
Grant Dawson (-450) vs. Ricky Glenn (+340)
The co-main event is a lightweight bout between Grant Dawson and Ricky Glenn.
Dawson is undefeated in the UFC and coming off a third round knockout of Leonardo Santos with just one second left in the fight. He’s 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the UFC, with three finishes. He has fifteen career finishes, eleven by submission.
Glenn returned from a nearly three year layoff earlier this year to knock out Joaquim Silva in just 37 seconds. Glenn had been recovering from a hip injury, was moving up to lightweight and working as a plumber. It wasn’t a shock that Glenn won, but the method in which he did. Prior to this fight, all six of Glenn’s fights had gone to decision.
Dawson is one of the brightest prospects in the lightweight division. He’s a strong grappler with solid wrestling and good cardio. He’s aggressive once he gets top position, either advancing position or unloading with ground and pound. His striking is still a work in progress.
Glenn is a solid fighter. He’s a volume striker that hadn’t showed much power until the Silva fight. He’s not terrible at defending takedowns, but it is his biggest weakness. He has good defensive grappling and will work back to his feet. He relies on his volume and cardio to wear opponents down.
I like Dawson in this matchup. Glenn isn’t dangerous enough as a striker to stop Dawson from getting his grappling going. Glenn is good enough on the ground to probably not get submitted, but Dawson should dominate the grappling exchanges.
PREDICTION: Dawson by decision
Jessica-Rose Clark (-160) vs. Joselyne Edwards (+140)
Jessica-Rose Clark snapped a two fight losing streak in her last fight with an absolute one-sided beating of Sarah Alpar, eventually stopping Alpar in the third round with knees and punches. She’s 3-2 in the UFC and 10-6 overall.
Joselyne Edwards made a successful UFC debut earlier this year with a unanimous decision win over Yanan Wu, then fought Karol Rosa just a few weeks later and lost by unanimous decision. She’s 10-3 overall with eight finishes, five by knockout.
Clark comes from a kickboxing background, but has improved her grappling skill. Edwards is an aggressive striker and she’ll have a six inch reach advantage over Clark, but she’s pretty awful at defending takedowns.
Even though she’s not a strong wrestler, Clark should be looking to take Edwards down. She can still win this fight in a pure striking battle, but grappling is the easiest path to victory.
PREDICTION: Clark by decision
Seung Woo Choi (-280) vs. Alex Caceres (+225)
Since losing his first two fights in the UFC, Seung Woo Choi has won three straight, most recently knocking out Julian Erosa in just 97 seconds. He’s 10-3 overall with six knockouts and four wins by decision.
Alex Caceres has won four fights in a row, most recently defeating Kevin Croom by unanimous decision. He’s been fighting in the UFC for ten years now compiling a 13-10 record, nine of those wins by decision. Five of his ten losses have come by submission.
Both Choi and Caceres prefer to strike so this should be competitive on the feet. Choi has more power and is more physical than Caceres, but he does absorb more strikes than I prefer. Caceres is pretty durable so I’m expecting this fight to go the distance with Choi edging it out.
PREDICTION: Choi by decision
Francisco Trinaldo (-135) vs. Dwight Grant (+115)
After a long career fighting at lightweight, Francisco Trinaldo moved up to welterweight for his last fight and lost a unanimous decision to Muslim Salikhov that snapped a three fight winning streak. Trinaldo is 43 years and competed on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” in 2012. He’s 16-7 in the UFC with nine wins by decision and five by knockout. Five of the seven losses have come by decision.
Dwight Grant is 3-1 since losing his UFC debut to Zak Ottow by split decision with two of those three wins coming by split decision over Stefan Sekulic and Alan Jouban. He’s 11-3 overall with seven wins by knockout.
This fight could be incredibly boring. Grant has big power and a six inch reach advantage over Trinaldo, but he hardly throws punches. Trinaldo doesn’t throw much either, but he’s at least more active than Grant. He’s been pretty durable and has never been knocked out, but he’s been hurt in his last two fights. If Grant can’t land the knockout blow, Trinaldo should earn another boring decision.
PREDICTION: Trinaldo by decision
Nicolae Negumereneau (-225) vs. Ike Villanueva (+185)
Nicolae Negumereneau lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision to Saparbeg Safarov, then disappeared for over two years. He picked up a split decision earlier this year over Aleksa Camur. He’s 10-1 overall with nine finishes, six by knockout.
Ike Villanueva has lost three of four since joining the UFC. He made his debut at heavyweight against Chase Sherman and was knocked out in the second round. He then dropped to light heavyweight where has a second round knockout of Vinicius Moreira sandwiched between stoppage losses to Jordan Wright and Marcin Prachnio. Villanueva is 18-12 overall with 15 knockouts. He’s been finished 11 times, 6 times by knockout.
This is a very low level fight in the light heavyweight division. Negumereneau fought very weak competition before joining the UFC and did not look good against Safarov. He showed toughness against Camur and eeked out the split decision, even though he was out-struck.
Villanueva is solely a boxer, but he’s not very good. His win over Moreira isn’t impressive and he’s shown poor durability so far in the UFC.
Both of these guys are looking to brawl and in that scenario I’ll take the more durable fighter in Negumereneau. He’s also more likely to grapple. Villanueva hasn’t made it past the second round in the UFC and I expect that trend to continue.
PREDICTION: Negumereneau by second round knockout
Gregory Rodrigues (-120) vs. Jun Yong Park (+100)
Since getting submitted by Anthony Hernandez in his UFC debut, Jun Yong Park has win three straight fights, all by decision. Most recently he picked up a majority decision over Tafon Nchukwi. Park is 13-4 overall with eight finishes, five by knockout.
Gregory Rodrigues competed on the Contender Series last summer, but was knocked out in the first round by Jordan Williams. He bounced back with consecutive knockouts in LFA, winning their middleweight title. Rodrigues then got the call to the UFC and defeated Dusko Todorovic by unanimous decision. He’s 10-3 overall with eight finishes.
Park’s strength prior to joining the UFC was his boxing, but he’s actually been pretty successful with his wrestling during his winning streak. Rodrigues is a powerful striker, but he’s also a strong grappler and showed that off in his UFC debut. He has a five inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage over Park.
Even though Park has had success wrestling lately, I don’t expect him to go that route here given Rodrigues’ submission grappling skils. Rodrigues would probably have more success wrestling given Park was taken down six times by Hernandez. On the feet, it’s fairly even, but I’ll give Rodrigues a slight edge.
PREDICTION: Rodrigues by decision
Mason Jones (-425) vs. David Onama (+320)
Mason Jones was originally supposed to face Alan Patrick in a rematch, but Patrick wisely pulled out and now Jones will face UFC debutante David Onama on just a few days notice.
Jones fought Patrick earlier this year and was clearly dominating the fight, until Patrick suffered an accidental eye poke. Patrick then took the easy way out and the fight was ruled a no contest. Jones was undefeated at 10-0 heading into his UFC debut against Mike Davis, but dropped a unanimous decision in a “Fight of the Year” candidate. Seven of his wins have come by finish, four by knockout.
Onama is undefeated at 8-0 and will become the first Ugandan fighter to fight in the UFC. Seven of his wins have come by finish, five by knockout. Five of those wins have come in the first round. He trains at a good camp at Glory MMA & Fitness with James Krause and company.
Jones is an aggressive striker and pushes a strong pace, but his striking defense is porous. He’s a good grappler as well and he’s a judo black belt. I’m not sure if Onama is UFC caliber, but credit to him for stepping up to face a stud like Jones on short notice. Jones has faced weaker competition on the regional scene so it’s hard to really rate his skills. He likes to strike, but his grappling looks like it could be a weakness.
Outside of Onama landing a knockout blow, Jones should dominate here. Maybe Onama is tough as hell and can make it to the final bell, but I see Jones stopping him inside two rounds.
PREDICTION: Jones by second round knockout
Tabatha Ricci (-255) vs. Maria Oliveira (+205)
Tabatha Ricci made her UFC debut earlier this year on short notice at flyweight against Manon Fiorot, but was finished in the second round. It was the first loss of Ricci’s career. Prior to joining the UFC, Ricci had picked up back to back finishes in LFA. This fight will be taking place in the strawweight division, where Ricci normally fights.
Maria Oliveira competed on the Brazilian version of the Contender Series three years ago, getting knocked out in the first round by top strawweight contender Marina Rodriguez. She’s won two straight since that loss to improve her record to 12-4. Eight of her wins have come by finish, seven by knockout.
Ricci is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt as well as a judo black belt, while Oliveira is a Muay Thai striker with very questionable ground skills. Ricci’s striking did not look good against Fiorot, but she was badly undersized and Oliveira is nowhere near as talented as Fiorot.
Ricci isn’t a great wrestler, but she has more than enough skill to get Oliveira to the mat. Once it hits the ground, Ricci should have her way with Oliveira and I’m expecting a quick finish.
PREDICTION: Ricci by first round submission
Laureano Staropoli (-225) vs. Jamie Pickett (+185)
Laureano Staropoli and Jamie Pickett were supposed to fight two weeks ago, but the fight was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
Staropoli has lost three in a row and coming off a unanimous decision loss to Roman Dolidze in his middleweight debut. All five of Staropoli’s UFC appearances have gone to decision.
Pickett earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series on his third attempt with a second round knockout of Jhonovan Pati. He lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision to Tafon Nchukwi and was knocked out by Jordan Wright in just over a minute. He’s 11-6 overall with nine finishes, eight by knockout. He’s been finished in three of his six losses, twice by submission.
Staropoli is a solid kickboxer, but he hasn’t shown much power in the UFC and now he’s fighting bigger fighters at middleweight. Takedown defense has been his biggest weakness so far. Pickett is a lanky striker and he’ll have a nine inch reach advantage over Staropoli, but he’s wild and leaves himself open defensively.
Even though Pickett has a reach advantage, Staropoli is the sharper striker. Pickett is very durable and never been finished so I’m not expecting Staropoli to stop him. Pickett could look to wrestle, but that’s not really his game.
PREDICTION: Staropoli by decision
Jai Herbert (-180) vs. Khama Worthy (+155)
Jai Herbert is looking for his first UFC win after getting knocked out in the third round by Francisco Trinaldo in his UFC debut and then submitted in the second round by Renato Moicano. Herbert is 10-3 overall with nine finishes, eight by knockout.
Khama Worthy scored one of the biggest upsets in UFC history in his UFC debut with a first round knockout of Devonte Smith, then followed it up with a third round submission of Luis Pena. Since then he’s been knocked out twice in the first round by Ottoman Azaitar and Jamie Mullarkey in less than three minutes combined. Worthy is 16-8 overall with twelve finishes, nine by knockout. He’s been finished in all his losses, getting knocked out seven times.
All I know is someone is likely getting knocked out in this fight and my lean would be towards Worthy getting finished again. His durability is just so poor that I have to side with Herbert.
PREDICTION: Herbert by first round knockout
Jeff Molina (-165) vs. Daniel Lacerda (+145)
Jeff Molina made a successful UFC debut with a unanimous decision win over Qileng Aori earlier this year. He earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series with a unanimous decision over Jacob Silva. Molina it s 9-2 overall and has won eight fights in a row. Seven of his wins have been finishes, five by submission.
Daniel Lacerda is 11-1 and making his UFC debut. All but one of his fights have ended in the first round. He has six wins by submission and five by knockout. His lone loss came when he injured his shoulder.
There isn’t much recent footage on Lacerda so it’s hard to get a good read on his skills. He’s obviously a proven finisher, but what about his cardio past round one? We just saw Molina fight strong for three rounds so we know he can do it.
If Lacerda can’t get an early finish, it’s hard to expect him to win a decision. Molina is more proven in that regard so he’s the pick with the potential for a late stoppage.
PREDICTION: Molina by decision
Livia Renata Souza (-130) vs. Randa Markos (+110)
Livia Renata Souza is coming off a first round knockout loss to Amanda Lemos and has now lost two of her last three fights. She’s 14-3 overall with ten finishes, eight by submission.
Randa Markos has lost four fights in a row and five of her last six. She was disqualified in her last fight against Luana Pinheiro for an illegal upkick, but it was an incredible acting job by Pinheiro. She’s 6-10-1 overall in the UFC and lost by decision seven times. Five of her six wins are by decision.
Souza has not looked very impressive since joining the UFC, but Markos is on a horrendous skid. Striking wise this fight is pretty even, Souza is a more dangerous and Markos is a better wrestler. It’s going to be sloppy and it’s going to be greasy, but I slightly lean towards Souza.
PREDICTION: Souza by decision
Zviad Lazishvili (-135) vs. Jonathan Martinez (+115)
Kicking off the card is a fight that was just put together. Jonathan Martinez was supoosed to face Aaron Phillips, but now Zviad Lazishvili will finally make his UFC debut. He stepped up on short notice to face Jack Shore last month, but then had to withdraw.
Lazishvili is undefeated at 12-0 and the latest Georgian prospect to join the UFC. He has nine wins by submission and three by decision. He was the bantamweight champion in LFA.
Martinez was also supposed to fight last month, but he had to pull out of his fight with Marcelo Rojo due to a bad weight cut. In his last fight earlier this year, he was knocked out in the second round by Davey Grant. Martinez is 4-3 in the UFC and 13-4 overall. He has nine finishes, seven by knockout.
Lazishvili is another strong Georgian wrestler, but I’m not expecting him to be another Merab Dvalishvili. His striking skills are a question mark so he likely needs multiple takedowns and ground control to win fights, if he isn’t getting the finish. Martinez is a solid striker that throws with good volume, but his wrestling would be his biggest weakness.
Basically this fight comes down to Lazishvili’s wrestling against Martinez’s striking and even though, he’s coming in on short notice I’m going to side with the Georgian prospect.
PREDICTION: Lazishvili by decision
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