This fight card was originally scheduled for London, but has been ravaged by fight cancellations, mainly due to VISA issues so we are left with only ten fights. The action starts at 1:30pm EST and streams on ESPN+.
Darren Till (-180) vs. Derek Brunson (+155)
The last time we saw Darren Till fight was last summer when he lost a unanimous decision to Robert Whittaker on Fight Island. Since then, Till has had to pull out of two headlining fights with Jack Hermansson in December and Marvin Vettori in April due to injuries. He’s lost three of his last four fights and his lone win during that stretch is a split decision over Kelvin Gastelum in his middleweight debut.
Our main event is a pivotal bout in the middleweight division between Darren Till and Derek Brunson.
After suffering back to back first round knockout losses to Jacare Souza and Israel Adesanya, Derek Brunson has rattled off four straight wins. Most recently, he picked up a dominant five round unanimous decision win over Kevin Holland. Brunson is 13-5 overall in the UFC with eight wins coming inside the distance, seven by knockout. Seven of those wins have come in the first round. He’s been knocked out in four of his five losses, three times in the first round.
This is your typical striker versus grappler with Brunson needing takedowns to win the fight, while Till will be looking for the knockout blow. Till is too passive and tends to gives away rounds, but he has power and Brunson has a suspect chin. Till typically defends takedowns well, but he hasn’t faced a strong wrestler like Brunson in a while.
If Brunson has to spend extended periods on the feet, Till is very likely to hurt him. However, Brunson should be able to score a few takedowns and try his best to stay out of trouble in the striking exchanges. He isn’t the strongest control grappler so he’s going to have to navigate through danger for five rounds possibly. Brunson does have power and Till has some durability concerns as well, but Brunson’s striking technique is wild.
Till very well may spark Brunson early, but I see Brunson getting his wrestling going and smothering Till for five rounds.
PREDICTION: Brunson by decision
Tom Aspinall (-250) vs. Serghei Spivac (+200)
In the co-main event, Tom Aspinall was supposed to face Sergei Pavlovich, but now he’ll face Serghei Spivac, who takes the fight on short notice.
Aspinall is one of the best heavyweight prospects in the UFC and is undefeated in three fights since joining the promotion. Aspinall knocked out both Jake Collier and Alan Baudot in the first round and most recently submitted Andrei Arlovski in the second round. All ten of Aspinall’s wins have come inside the distance, nine in the first round. He has knocked out seven opponents.
Spivac lost two of his first three fights in the UFC, but has since rattled off three straight wins. Most recently, he defeated Aleksei Oleinik by unanimous decision. He’s 13-2 overall with 11 wins coming inside the distance, six by submission.
Everyone is waiting to see Aspinall tested for more than a round and this might be that spot. Aspinall is the more athletic fighter and a more dangerous striker, but Spivac is tough and I expect him to make Aspinall work here. Maybe Aspinall can’t fight hard for more than a round and a half and Spivac takes over down the stretch. As long as Aspinall’s cardio doesn’t fall off a cliff, I like him to outwork Spivac and pick up his first career decision win.
PREDICTION: Aspinall by decision
Alex Morono (-135) vs. David Zawada (+115)
Alex Morono is taking this fight on short notice, filling in for Sergey Khandozhko, and he’ll meet David Zawada.
Morono is just 2-2 in his last four fights, but he’s coming off the biggest win of his career, a first round knockout of Donald Cerrone. Morono is 8-4 overall in the UFC with five wins by decision. Three of his four losses have come by decision.
Zawada has lost three of four fights since joining the UFC. His lone win is a first round submission via triangle choke over Abukubar Nurmagomedov. Two of the three losses are by split decision to Danny Roberts and most recently Ramazan Emeev. Zawada is 17-6 with 15 wins coming inside the distance, 11 by knockout.
This is probably going to be a wild back and forth affair with Morono being the more technically sound fighter of the two. He strikes at a higher rate and while he’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, he’s not a strong wrestler. He did land three takedowns against Rhys McKee and he should be looking to take Zawada down if he can. Zawada is getting a lot of love this week, but I’m going with Morono in hopes that he’ll lean on his wrestling to secure rounds.
PREDICTION: Morono by decision
Modestas Bukauskas (-155) vs. Khalil Rountree (+135)
Modestas Bukauskas had a strange UFC debut. He faced Andreas Michailidis and towards the end of the first round, he landed some elbows to the side of Michailidis’ head as time expired. Michailidis was wobbled, but when he lost his balance as the cage door was opened, the fight was called off and Bukauskas was ruled the winner. Since then, he’s lost two in a row, most recently a close split decision loss to Michal Oleksieczuk. Bukauskas is 11-4 overall with ten wins coming inside the distance, eight by knockout.
Khalil Rountree has lost three of his last four fights, most recently losing a unanimous decision to Marcin Prachnio. He’s 4-5 in the UFC with three of his four wins coming by knockout in the first round. Three of those losses have come in the first round, twice by knockout.
This should be a violent fight for as long as it lasts. Rountree has been a disappointment and Bukauskas just hasn’t impressed me. Both guys have questionable striking defense, but the power and athleticism edge goes to Rountree. However, Rountree’s cardio is suspect so the longer this fight goes, the more it favors Bukauskas.
A lot of people have given up on Rountree, especially after getting burned against Prachnio, but I’m going back to the well one more time.
PREDICTION: Rountree by second round knockout
Paddy Pimblett (-155) vs. Luigi Vendramini (+135)
Hyped prospect Paddy Pimblett will finally make his UFC debut as he faces Luigi Vendramini.
Pimblett is 16-3 overall and a former featherweight champion in the Cage Warriors promotion in the UK. Twelve of his 16 wins have come inside the distance, eight by submission.
Vendramini is coming off a majority decision loss to Fares Ziam and has lost two of three since joining the UFC. He was knocked out in the second round in his UFC debut by Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and then bounced back with a first round knockout of Jessin Ayari. He’s 9-2 overall with all nine wins coming inside the distance, five by knockout.
We’ve been hearing about Pimblett for years and it’s finally time to see if he can live up to the hype. Pimblett is a grappler with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu so he wants this fight on the ground. He’s a decent wrestler and aggressive in pursuit of the takedown. However, he’s not very physically strong and that will likely cost him against tougher competition. Vendramini is a solid grappler as well and probably a better striker, but he doesn’t throw a ton of volume.
Vendramini is a good test for Pimblett and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win here, but I’m leaning towards Pimblett to get the better of the grappling exchanges on his way to a decision victory.
PREDICTION: Pimblett by decision
Ji Yeon Kim (-115) vs. Molly McCann (-105)
Ji Yeon Kim is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Alexa Grasso. She’s 3-3 in the promotion with two wins by split decision over Justine Kish and Melinda Fabian and a second round knockout of Nadia Kassem. All three losses are by unanimous decision.
Molly McCann was dominated on the ground and submitted in the second round by Gillian Robertson in her UFC debut, but then rattled off three straight wins by unanimous decision. However, she has dropped back to back unanimous decisions to Taila Santos and Lara Procopio.
Both Kim and McCann prefer to strike with Kim enjoying a ten inch reach advantage in this fight. Both also have suspect takedown defense, although McCann is the fighter most likely to look to wrestle. She’s not a strong control grappler, but she will land multiple takedowns.
Even though Kim has a sizable reach advantage, McCann will still be competitive on the feet and with the extra added threat to wrestle, the pick is McCann.
PREDICTION: McCann by decision
Jack Shore (-490) vs. Liudvik Sholinian (+360)
After losing two opponents, Jack Shore now meets UFC newcomer Liudvik Sholinian.
Shore has won his first three fights in the UFC, most recently defeating Hunter Azure by split decision. He submitted Nohelin Hernandez in the third round in his UFC debut and followed that up with a second round submission of Aaron Phllips. He’s 14-0 overall with 12 wins coming inside the distance, eight by submission.
Sholinian steps up on short notice after competing on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. Sholinian defeated Mitch Raposo in the quarterfinals by unanimous decision, but then lost to eventual winner Ricky Turcios by unanimous decision in the semifinals. He’s 9-1-1 with five wins by decision.
Shore is one of the best prospects in the bantamweight division, while Sholinian looks like just a solid, lower tier bantamweight. Shore is an aggressive grappler and a solid striker and appears to have Sholinian outgunned in all aspects of the fight.
Shore is a methodical grappler, but I think Sholinian has solid enough submission defense to make it to the final bell.
PREDICTION: Shore by decision
Charles Jourdain (-190) vs. Julian Erosa (+160)
Charles Jourdain was originally scheduled to face Lerone Murphy, but now he’ll face Julian Erosa in a catchweight bout at 150 pounds.
Jourdain made his UFC debut at lightweight, losing by unanimous decision to Des Green, but followed that up with a big second round knockout of Doo Ho Choi. He then lost a split decision to Andre Fili, fought to a split draw with Joshua Culibao and most recently knocked out Marcelo Rojo in the third round. Eight of his eleven wins have come by knockout.
This is Erosa’s third stint in the UFC and he’s coming off a first round knockout to Seung Woo Choi that snapped a three fight winning streak overall. It was Erosa’s fourth knockout loss in the UFC.
Jourdain is an aggressive striker. He’ll attempt flying knees and spinning strikes, but he does have the ability to fight composed. His defensive wrestling is a concern, but he is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Erosa is a long, lanky striker and a solid submission grappler, but his chin is a major concern.
Erosa has said he’s going to look to wrestle Jourdain and that is a clear path to victory for him, but he’s a striker at heart and that’s bad news against Jourdain. As long as Jourdain can remain upright, he finds the knockout inside two rounds.
PREDICTION: Jourdain by second round knockout
Marc-Andre Barriault (-165) vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (+145)
Marc-Andre Barriault picked up his first official UFC win in his last fight, finishing Abu Azaitar with ground and pound with just four seconds left in the fight. Prior to that, he had knocked out Oskar Piechota in the second round, but the result was overturned to a no contest. Barriault lost his first three appearances in the UFC by decision.
Dalcha Lungiambula has won two of three fights since joining the UFC, most recently defeating Markus Perez by unanimous decision in his middleweight debut. He knocked out Dequan Townsend in the third round in his UFC debut, but was then knocked out in the third round by Magomed Ankalaev.
Even though, Lungiambula was a double champ at heavyweight and light heavyweight in the EFC promotion, he’s still undersized at middleweight and will be giving up five inches of height to Barriault. Lungiambula is a strong fighter who thrives on physicality instead of technique. He relies on moments of explosiveness and therefore his cardio fades as the fight goes on and that’s a recipe for disaster against a fighter like Barriault. Barriault is an extremely durable fighter and has no problem fighting hard for fifteen minutes.
Lungiambula will likely start off strong, but it’s only a matter of time before the tide begins to turn in Barriault’s favor. The pick is Barriault by decision, with a good chance of Barriault scoring a late third round stoppage.
PREDICTION: Barriault by decision
Jonathan Martinez (-160) vs. Marcelo Rojo (+140)
Kicking off the card is a bantamweight fight between Jonathan Martinez and Marcelo Rojo. Martinez was originally scheduled to face Nathaniel Wood, while Rojo was set to face Kevin Croom last weekend.
Martinez is coming off a second round knockout loss to Davey Grant that snapped a two fight winning streak and you can make the argument that he won five in a row if the decision rightfully went his way against Andre Ewell.
Rojo stepped up on short notice in his UFC debut at featherweight and went to war with Charles Jourdain, but was eventually knocked out with 29 seconds left in the third round. This fight will be at bantamweight. Rojo is 16-7 overall with 14 wins coming inside the distance, eight by knockout. He’s been stopped in five of his seven losses, four times by submission.
This is another fight that should be a fun striking battle. Martinez is the more technical striker of the two and has a strong kicking attack, while Rojo is an aggressive striker, likes to pressure his opponents and has good power. His grappling is his biggest weakness and something Martinez should look to exploit. However, Martinez rarely looks to wrestle. I’m going to side with the power and aggression of Rojo.
PREDICTION: Rojo by second round knockout
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