The UFC is back with another 13 fight card headlined by a UFC interim heavyweight title fight between Cyril Gane and Derrick Lewis.
The action gets started with early prelims on ESPN+ at 6pm EST, then more prelims on ESPN at 8pm EST followed by the main card on ESPN+ PPV at 10pm EST. Make sure to sign up for our Discord chat as I’ll give my post weigh-in thoughts, drop any breaking news and I’m always available to answer your last minute questions.
Ciryl Gane (-365) vs. Derrick Lewis (+280)
In a surprising turn of events, Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis will vie for an interim UFC heavyweight title with the winner facing UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in the future to unify the titles.
Gane is getting a quick turnaround after defeating Alexander Volkov by unanimous decision in a five round main event at the end of June. Earlier this year, Gane picked up another unanimous decision over Jair Rozenstruik in his first five round main event. Gane is 6-0 since joining the UFC with three wins coming by decision and two by submission.
This will be Lewis’ second crack at the UFC heavyweight title. He was submitted in the second round by Daniel Cormier in his first attempt. Lewis was them knocked out in the second round by Junior dos Santos, but has since won four straight fights. His last two wins over Curtis Blaydes and Aleksei Oleinik have both been second round knockouts. Lewis has knocked out 12 opponents in the UFC.
Lewis shouldn’t keep winning fights at this level, but power is his great equalizer. Otherwise, the metrics of this fight point to Gane winning with ease. Gane is the more active striker and more likely to wrestle, although that may not be part of his gameplan. He should be able to pick Lewis apart and attack Lewis’ midsection with body kicks. Lewis is notorious for getting hurt to the body so I’d expect Gane to target that area.
Outside of Lewis landing a big bomb, I don’t see how he wins this fight. Gane can coast to a decision, but once he starts to target Lewis’ body it’ll only be a matter of time until he hurts him and pounces for the finish.
PREDICTION: Gane by third round knockout
Pedro Munhoz (-105) vs. Jose Aldo (-115):
After Amanda Nunes tested positive for COVID-19, this bout between Pedro Munhoz and Jose Aldo has been elevated to the co-main event.
Munhoz snapped a two fight losing streak in his last fight, exacting revenge over Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision. Prior to that, Rivera lost a controversial split decision to Frankie Edgar. Munhoz is 9-5 in the UFC with six wins coming inside the distance, split evenly between submission and knockout. All five of Munhoz’s losses have come by decision, three by split.
Aldo, one of the most dominant featherweights of all time, is just 1-2 since moving to bantamweight and coming off a unanimous decision victory over Marlon Vera. Aldo lost a controversial split decision to Marlon Moraes in his bantamweight debut, but he impressed enough that he earned a UFC bantamweight title shot against Petr Yan. Aldo had his moments in the fight, but he was eventually finished with ground and pound in the fifth round.
While both are talented grapplers, Aldo and Munhoz rarely look to wrestle so we should expect a striking battle. Aldo is the more technical striker and defensively sound fighter of the two. Munhoz is an aggressive striker, but he absorbs as much punishment as he dishes out. He is very durable as evidenced by the fact, he’s never been finished. Aldo’s durability is more of a concern as he’s taken a lot of punishment in his wars against Max Holloway and Yan. However, Munhoz’s strking skill is not on the level of Holloway or Yan.
If Munhoz isn’t able to hurt Aldo, I have to favor Aldo to get the better of the striking exchanges. He doesn’t throw as much volume as Munhoz, but I think he’ll land the more damaging strikes over the course of three rounds.
PREDICTION: Aldo by decision
Vicente Luque (-115) vs. Michael Chiesa (-105):
Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa will meet in the welterweight division and the winner will put them one step closer to a title shot.
Luque has won three straight and is coming off a first round submission victory over Tyron Woodley. He has won nine of his last ten fights and is 13-2 since losing his UFC debut. All but one of Luque’s wins in the UFC have come inside the distance. He has knocked out eight of his opponents and submitted four.
Chiesa has won straight fights since making the move to welterweight, including an impressive five round decision victory over Neil Magny in his most recent appearance. In his eleven wins in the UFC, Chiesa has submitted six opponents. He’s been finished in all four of his losses, three times by submission.
Outside of the main event, this is my most anticipated fight on the card pitting the hard hitting finishing abilities of Luque against the strong grappling of Chiesa. Luque is an aggressive striker foremost, but he’s a dangerous grappler as well, especially with front chokes. Chiesa will be looking to get this fight to the mat as quick as possible as he is not a strong striker. He’s aggressive in pursuing the takedown and while Luque has solid takedown defense, Chiesa should have some success.
Chiesa does a good job of limiting the damage he takes and after his performance against Magny, I believe he can repeat that gameplan here against Luque. Chiesa won’t be overaggressive in pursuit of the submission and should be able to control Luque on the ground, although a submission isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
PREDICTION: Chiesa by decision
Tecia Torres (-135) vs. Angela Hill (+115):
The next fight is a rematch between Tecia Torres and Angela Hall. The two originally faced off at UFC 188 in 2015 with Torres getting the nod by unanimous decision.
Torres has won two straight fights and coming off a first round doctor stoppage of Sam Hughes, the first of her career. Prior to her two fight winning streak, Torres had lost four in a row. Torres is 8-5 overall in the UFC with six wins by decision. All of her losses have come by decision.
Hill snapped a two fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Ashley Yoder. The two losses were by split decision to Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadelha and you can make the argument that Hill won both fights. Hill is just 8-9 in the UFC with six wins by decision. Seven of Hill’s nine losses have come by decision.
Hill has improved since her first meeting, but I don’t expect a different outcome this time around. Both fighters prefer to strike and while Torres isn’t a good wrestler, she will attempt takedowns. Hill defends takedowns well, but Torres may be able to shift rounds in her favor with a succesful takedown or two. It’ll be close on the feet, but the added grappling threat has me picking Torres.
PREDICTION: Torres by decision
Casey Kenney (-120) vs. Song Yadong (+100):
Kicking off the main card, bantamweights Casey Kenney and Song Yadong are both looking to get back in the win column.
Kenney’s split decision loss to Dominick Cruz snapped a three fight winning streak for the MMA Lab fighter. Kenney is 5-2 since joining the UFC with four wins by decision.
Yadong suffered the first loss of his career when he dropped a unanimous decision to Kyler Phillips. Prior to that, Yadong was 5-0-1 in the UFC, although he lucked out getting a draw with Cody Stamman. The Chinese prospect has finished three of those fights, two by knockout.
This isn’t a typical striker versus grappler match, but Kenney is the superior wrestler and grappler and I believe that is where he’ll separate himself from Yadong in this fight. On the feet, these two are evenly matched so I expect Kenney to mix in his wrestling to edge out rounds. Kenney is training partners with Phillips so he’ll be more than familiar with Yadong and should be able to implement the same gameplan.
PREDICTION: Kenney by decision
Rafael Fiziev (-280) vs. Bobby Green (+225):
In the featured prelim, Rafael Fiziev and Bobby Green face off in the lightweight division.
Fiziev had a disappointing UFC debut, getting knocked out in the first round by Magomed Mustafaev, but he’s rattled off three straight wins since. Most recently, he knocked out Renato Moicano in the first round. Fiziev is 9-1 overall with six wins by knockout.
Green was set to face Jim Miller earlier this year, but the fight was scrapped after he collapsed backstage after weigh ins. Prior to that, Green lost a unanimous decision to Thiago Moises that snapped a three fight winning streak. Green is 8-6 in the UFC with six wins by decision. Five of his six losses have come by decision.
Fiziev is the striking coach at Tiger Muay Thai so that just shows how good his striking is. He looked great against Moicano and faces a tough veteran in Green, one of the most experienced fighters in the lightweight division. Green also prefers to strike. He has strong boxing skills and is a solid wrestler as well. He’s extremely durable and the only fighter to finish him has been Dustin Poirier.
Fiziev is a big favorite, but this fight is closer than the odds suggest. Fiziev throws with good volume, but so does Green. However, the edge in power goes to Fiziev and that may be the X factor in this fight. Green is tough to finish, but the judges might favor the more powerful strikes of Fiziev if this goes the distance.
PREDICTION: Fiziev by decision
Drako Rodriguez (-115) vs. Vince Morales (-105):
Drako Rodriguez earned his way to the UFC with a first round submission victory over Mana Martinez on the Contender Series, but he had an unsuccessful UFC debut, getting knocked out in the first round by Aiemann Zahabi. Rodriguez is 7-2 overall with six wins coming inside the distance, five by submission.
Vince Morales has lost three of four fights since joining the UFC. His last fight was over a year ago when he was brutalized with leg kicks by Chris Gutierrez and finished in the second round. He’s 9-5 overall with seven wins coming inside the distance, five by knockout.
I’d be lying if I told you I had a good read on this fight. Rodriguez had a little bit of hype heading into his UFC debut, but getting knocked out cold by Zahabi is concerning. On the other hand, Morales hasn’t been very impressive either. His lone win is over Zahabi, but I thought he beat Benito Lopez.
Rodriguez has some boxing experience, but I’d probably favor Morales if this played out solely on the feet. On the ground, Rodriguez has the edge as Morales hasn’t shown an interest in grappling and with that I lean towards Rodriguez.
PREDICTION: Rodriguez by decision
Alonzo Menifield (-250) vs. Ed Herman (+200):
Alonzo Menifield snapped a two losing streak with a first round submission victory over Fabio Cherant. Menifield is 3-2 since joining the UFC with all three wins in the first round, two coming by knockout. He lost a unanimous decision to Devin Clark and was knocked out in the second round by Ovince Saint Preux. Menifield is 10-2 overall with all ten of his wins coming inside the distance, eight by knockout.
At 40 years old, Ed Herman just keeps trucking along and he’s won three fights in a row, most recently submitting Mike Rodriguez with a third round kimura in a controversial fight. Rodriguez nailed Herman with a clean body shot, but the referee ruled it a low blow, allowing Herman to stage the comeback victory. Herman is 13-11 in the UFC with nine wins coming inside the distance, five by submission. Six of Herman’s 11 losses have come inside the distance, split evenly between submission and knockout.
Menifield is a physical specimen, but I have major concerns about his overall game. He’s strong and powerful and dangerous early, but once the fight gets extended, his chances of victory significantly drop. He very well could run through Herman in the first round, but if he doesn’t the pendulum shifts in Herman’s favor. Herman may be old and slow, but he’s better equipped to fight hard later in fights than Menifield is. If Herman can avoid getting hurt early, he’ll grind on Menifield and possibly finish him late in the fight.
PREDICTION: Herman by third round submission
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-135) vs. Jessica Penne (+115):
Karolina Kowalkiewicz has lost four fights in a row, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Xianon Yan that required facial surgery after the fight. Since beginning her UFC career 3-0, Kowalkiewicz has won just two of her last eight fights. She has however faced the best the division has to offer and did challenge Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the women’s strawweight title.
Jessica Penne returned from a four year absence due to injuries and a USADA suspension earlier this year and upset Lupita Godinez by split decision for her first win since December of 2014. Prior to her suspension, Penne had lost three straight fights, getting knocked out in two of them. Her lone win in the UFC came in her debut via split decision over Randa Markos.
Now this fight is your typical striker versus grappler matchup pitting Kowalkiewicz’s striking against Penne’s grappling. Kowalkiewicz is clearly on the decline, but she still has a distinct striking advantage over Penne. If Penne can’t force Kowalkiewicz into grappling exchanges, she’s going to get pieced up for three rounds. Penne is a strong grappler, but not a strong wrestler so she has to resort to pulling guard to get fights to the mat. Unless Penne can find herself in dominant positions on the ground, she’s going to lose a one sided decision on the feet.
PREDICTION: Kowalkiewicz by decision
Manel Kape (-195) vs. Ode Osbourne (+165):
Manel Kape is looking for his first win in the UFC after losing consecutive decisions to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau. Prior to joining the UFC, Kape won the vacant RIZIN bantamweight title, knocking out Kai Asakura. Kape went 6-3 in RIZIN with all of his wins coming inside the distance.
Ode Osbourne earned his UFC contract with a first round armbar submission of Armando Villareal on the Contender Series. He wasn’t as lucky in his UFC debut, getting submitted by Brian Kelleher in the first round. Osbourne’s next fight came in the featherweight division, where he knocked Jerome Rivera out in just 26 seconds. Now he’ll drop two full divisions to flyweight for this fight. Osbourne is 9-3 with eight wins coming inside the distance, five by submission. All but one of his finishes have ended in the first round.
I really want to pick Osbourne here, but I just can’t. I’d be pretty surprised if he was able to put Kape away early and there’s no reason to believe he has the cardio to fight hard later in the fight. Kape is a wildman so maybe Osbourne can stun him early and hurt him or catch him in a submission, but it’s more likely that Kape weathers the early storm and is the more effective fighter down the stretch. I’ll go with Kape by decision, but wouldn’t be shocked if he finished an exhausted Osbourne late.
PREDICTION: Kape by decision
Miles Johns (-210) vs. Anderson dos Santos (+175):
This fight was supposed to happen a few weeks, but due to COVID-19 protocols it got scrapped on fight day and postponed to now.
Miles Johns bounced back from his first professional loss, a knockout to Mario Bautista, with a third round knockout of his own over Kevin Natividad. Johns earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series with a dominant decision win over Richie Santiago and has won two of three since joining the UFC. He won the LFA bantamweight title over fellow UFC veteran Adrian Yanez. Johns is 11-1 overall with six wins by decision and three by knockout.
Anderson dos Santos picked up the first win of his UFC career with a first round submission via guillotine choke over Martin Day. Prior to that, dos Santos had dropped two straight unanimous decisions to Nad Narimani and Andre Ewell. Dos Santos has a career record of 21-8 with 17 wins coming inside the distance, 12 by submission. He’s been stopped in five of his eight losses.
I’ve actually been a little disappointed in Johns so far in the UFC. I thought he had a lot of potential when I first saw him in the LFA, but he hasn’t lived up to it. He’s an athletic fighter with good wrestling and power in his hands, but I don’t love his cardio or lack of aggression. He’s a more complete fighter than dos Santos, but I do worry about him if dos Santos is able to gain dominant position in grappling exchanges. Ultimately, I’m going to side with Johns because of his potential to wrestle and grind on dos Santos.
PREDICTION: Johns by decision
Melissa Gatto (-110) vs. Victoria Leonardo (-110):
Melissa Gatto will finally make her long awaited UFC debut. She’s had three scheduled fights fall through so this will be her first fight since September of 2018, where she submitted UFC veteran Karol Rosa by first round kimura. Gatto is 6-0-2 with four wins by submission and two by decision.
Victoria Leonardo earned her way to the UFC with a second round ground and pound stoppage of Chelsea Hackett on the Contender Series. She made her UFC debut earlier this year and was knocked out in the second round by Manon Fioret. Leonardo is 8-3 with four wins by submission and three by decision.
This is another rough one to get a read on mainly because of the mystery surrounding Gatto’s skills and development over the past three years. Gatto did not look like a UFC caliber fighter years ago, but she very well may have made drastic improvements. Leonardo has more experience than Gatto, but at the same anytime Leonardo stepped up in competition, she lost.
If Gatto hasn’t made any improvements, Leonardo should be able to take her down, grind on her and possibly finish her, but I’m going to roll the dice on Gatto improving her wrestling skills and pick her by submission.
PREDICTION: Gatto by first round submission
Johnny Munoz (-260) vs. Jamey Simmons (+210):
Kicking off the card are two fighters in Johnny Munoz and Jamey Simmons looking for their first wins inside the Octagon.
Munoz suffered his first career loss in his UFC debut, dropping a unanimous decision to Nate Maness. Munoz is 10-1 with eight wins coming inside the distance, six by submission.
Simmons made his UFC debut up a weight class at featherweight and was knocked out in the first round by Giga Chikadze. Simmons is 7-3 with five wins coming inside the distance, three by submission. He’s been finished in all three of his losses, getting knocked out twice.
I don’t believe that Simmons is a UFC level talent and Munoz showed more impressive skills in his UFC debut. He looked strong early against Maness, but just couldn’t sustain it long enough. Both Simmons and Munoz are looking to grapple, but I much prefer the grappling skills of Munoz. I think he’ll get an early takedown and from there, he’ll dominate Simmons on the mat until he secures the tap.
PREDICTION: Munoz by second round submission
Premium YTD: 60 – 83 +12.35 units
Last Event: UFC Vegas 33 (4-5)
2021 Record: 165 – 128 (56%)