UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Gastelum
UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Gastelum

After a week off, the UFC is back with another 12 fight card headlined by a five round main event in the middleweight division between Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum.

The action gets started at 7pm EST on ESPN2 with the main card airing on ESPN starting at 10pm EST.

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Jared Cannonier (-145) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (+125)

Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum will meet in a five round main event in the middleweight division with both men coming off unanimous decision losses to Robert Whittaker.

Cannonier had won three straight fights by knockout prior to the loss to Whittaker. He stopped David Branch and Jack Hermansson in the second round with punches and picked up a first round stoppage victory over Anderson Silva when a leg kick caused a knee injury for Silva.  Cannonier is 3-1 since dropping to middleweight.

Gastelum has dropped four of his last five with his lone win being a unanimous decision over Ian Heinisch earlier this year.  Three of the four losses have come by decision, a split to Darren Till, the aforementioned unanimous decision to Whittaker and a unanimous decision loss to Israel Adesanya in a five round war for the interim UFC middleweight title.

Cannonier will have a six inch reach advantage and is a real middleweight, while Gastelum should still be competing as a welterweight. Both fighters land strikes at a similar pace and I’ll give the edge in power to Cannonier, but I believe that’s his only edge in the fight. Cannonier’s take-down defense and ground game are questionable so that’s an area Gastelum could exploit should he choose to. Gastelum did land six take-downs against Heinisch so he may go back to his wrestling here.

Even though Cannonier likely holds the power edge, Gastelum is very durable and never been knocked out. He’s also fought five rounds twice before while Cannonier has not. I don’t see Cannonier hurting Gastelum, but I could see Gastelum hurting him. Combine that with Gastelum’s wrestling advantage and five round experience, the pick has to be Gastelum.

PREDICTION: Gastelum by decision

Mark Madsen (-160) vs. Clay Guida (+140)

In the co-main event, Mark O. Madsen returns after a 15 month layoff to face Clay Guida in the lightweight division.

Madsen has won both his fights since joining the UFC.  He finished Danilo Belluardo in just over a minute with ground and pound in his UFC debut, then took a unanimous decision over Austin Hubbard last time out.  Madsen survived a late scare from Hubbard, but held on to improve his record to 10-0.  At 36 years old, Madsen isn’t a spring chicken so if he wants to make a run in the lightweight division now is the time.

Guida snapped a two fight losing streak with his latest win, a unanimous decision over Michael Johnson.  Guida is 4-3 in his latest stint at lightweight, but he’s 39 years old and no longer a factor in the lightweight division.  Two of his four wins have come over the corpses of B.J. Penn and Joe Lauzon and he was submitted in under a minute by Jim Miller.

Madsen was a silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the Olympics so we know he’s a highly credentialed wrestler. The rest of his game is still a work in progress, though. Guida is the more experienced fighter and has more well-rounded skills, especially as a striker. Guida is an aggressive wrestler, obviously not as skilled as Madsen, but he does push a pace that Madsen may not be able to handle.

This is a good test for Madsen as Guida brings a wealth of experience to the cage. Outside of a complete adrenaline dump, Madsen should be able to control the fight with his wrestling and possibly even submit Guida.

PREDICTION: Madsen by decision

Chase Sherman (-200) vs. Parker Porter (+170)

In the lone heavyweight fight on the card, Chase Sherman meets Parker Porter.  

Sherman is 1-1 in his second stint in the UFC, most recently losing a unanimous decision to Andrei Arlovski after knocking out Ike Villanueva in the second round.  Sherman went 2-5 in his first stint in the promotion with three of the losses coming by knockout.

Porter picked up his first win inside the Octagon last time out, scoring a unanimous decision over Josh Parisian.  He was knocked out in the first round by Chris Daukaus in his UFC debut.  Porter is 11-6 overall with eight wins coming inside the distance, split evenly between knockout and submission.  Five of his six losses have come inside the distance as well, three by knockout.

The UFC just loves putting these low level heavyweights on the main card and as bad as Sherman is, he’s still better than Porter. Porter pushes a pretty good pace, but so does Sherman and Sherman is the better technical striker. All it takes is one punch, especially with heavyweights, but I see Sherman getting the knockout inside the first two rounds.

PREDICTION: Sherman by second round knockout

Trevin Jones (-140) vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov (+120)

Originally, Trevin Jones was stepping up on short notice to take on Mana Martinez after Jesse Strader had to withdraw.  However, after Martinez’s coach Saul Soliz tragically passed away, in steps UFC newcomer Saidyokub Kakhramonov.

Jones was scheduled to face Ronnie Lawrence three weeks ago, but Lawrence was unable to make weight and the fight was scrapped so he’s finally getting a fight after multiple opponent switches.

Jones is coming off a second round knockout of Mario Bautista in his only official UFC win.  Jones also knocked out Timur Valiev in the second round in his UFC debut, but the win was overturned to a no contest after Jones tested positive for marijuana.  He’s 13-6 overall with seven wins coming inside the distance, four by submission.  Five of his six losses are by decision, three by split.

Kakhramonov is 8-2 overall with six wins coming inside the distance, split evenly between knockout and submission. He’s coming off a second round knockout of Tycen Lynn in CFFC to win the vacant bantamweight championship. He also owns a 39 second knockout of top prospect Askar Askar. His first loss came to Umar Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision in PFL.

This is a very interesting fight as we usually don’t get a competitive fight like this on short notice. Typically Jones would be a massive favorite, but he’s only a slight favorite here over Kakhramonov. Jones is another fighter that has become a fan favorite, but I’m not sold on him yet. He was losing both of his UFC fights until he wasn’t. Valiev almost finished him and Bautista was in control until Jones finished both. Maybe Jones is too much for Kakhramonov, but I like the aggressive wrestling approach of the newcomer and I’m going to side with the underdog.

PREDICTION: Kakhramonov by decision

Austin Hubbard (-105) vs. Vinc Pichel (-115)

Austin Hubbard is 3-3 since joining the UFC, most recently defeating Dakota Bush by unanimous decision.  He’s 13-5 overall with six wins by decision and four by knockout.  Three of his five losses have come by decision.

Hubbard has faced basically nothing but strong grapplers since joining the UFC.  Davi Ramos and Mark O. Madsen defeated him by unanimous decision, while Joe Solecki submitted him via rear naked choke in the first round.  Hubbard’s best win in the UFC came when he made hyped prospect Max Rohskopf infamously quit on his stool in the second round.  Prior to joining the UFC, Hubbard stopped another top prospect in Killys Mota in the fifth round to win the vacant LFA lightweight title.

Since losing his UFC debut to Rustam Khabilov, Vinc Pichel has won six of his last seven fights.  Most recently, he defeated Jim Miller by unanimous decision and five of those six wins have come by unanimous decision.  The lone loss during that stretch is a second round submission via arm triangle choke to Gregor Gillespie.

As you can see based on the odds, this is an extremely close matchup. Neither fighter excels in one area, but they both possess good cardio and typically just outwork their opponents. With everything being equal, I’m leaning towards Pichel just because he’s more likely to attempt and secure takedowns. Hubbard isn’t easy to hold down, but I don’t think he’ll be able to impress the judges enough with his striking when he does work back to his feet.

PREDICTION: Pichel by decision

Alexandre Pantoja (-170) vs. Brandon Royval (+150)

Kicking off the main card is a fantastic matchup in the flyweight division between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval.  

Pantoja is coming off a unanimous decision over Manel Kape and is just 2-2 in his last four fights.  He’s 7-3 since joining the UFC and holds a unanimous decision victory over current UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno.  Four of the seven wins have come inside the distance, split evenly between knockout and submission.

Royval will be returning after dislocating his shoulder against Moreno and getting stopped in the first round with ground and pound.  Royval became an instant fan favorite in his wins over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France, both second round submission wins.  Royval is 12-5 overall with 11 wins coming inside the distance, eight by submission.

Like I mentioned earlier, Royval has already cemented himself as a fan favorite and someone whose fights you look forward to due to his wild and unorthodox style. He’s aggressive wherever the fight takes place, but his biggest strength is as a grappler where he’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Pantoja, on the other hand, is a much more composed and technical fighter. He can be dragged into brawls, but overall he is a far better technician than Royval. Pantoja rarely looks to wrestle, but Royval is susceptible to takedowns so the path to victory is there. Unless Royval can clip Pantoja in an exchange early, Pantoja should land the cleaner strikes and the grappling exchanges on his way to a decision victory.

PREDICTION: Pantoja by decision

Luis Saldana (-120) vs. Austin Lingo (+100)

Luis Saldana earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series with a third round knockout of Vince Murdock.  He then made his UFC debut against Jordan Griffin and won a debateable unanimous decision.  He’s 15-6 overall with 14 wins coming inside the distance, eight by submission. Saldana is currently riding a five fight winning streak.

Austin Lingo entered the UFC undefeated at 7-0 on the heels of three straight first round finishes in a combined 63 seconds. His UFC debut didn’t go well as he was outgrappled and dropped a unanimous decision to Youssef Zalal. He bounced back earlier this year with a unanimous decision over Jacob Kilburn. Lingo is now 8-1 overall with five wins coming inside the distance, three by knockout.

This should be a pretty fun striking match as neither fighter has shown much of an inclination to grapple since joining the UFC. Saldana will be looking to use his three inch reach advantage to avoid the power of Lingo, while Lingo will be looking to get inside where he can land some bombs.

This is another tough fight to call, but I slightly lean towards Saldana here. As long as hd avoids the big power shots of Lingo, he should be able to outvolume his way to a victory.

PREDICTION: Saldana by decision

Brian Kelleher (-170) vs. Domingo Pilarte (+150)

After winning three of his first four fights in the UFC, Brian Kelleher has lost two of his last three. Most recently, he lost a unanimous decision to Ricky Simon. Kelleher is 6-5 in the UFC with five wins coming inside the distance. Three of those wins came in the first round via guillotine choke. Kelleher has been finished in three of the losses, twice by submission.

Domingo Pilarte defeated Vince Morales by second round submission on the Contender Series, but lost a split decision to Felipe Colares in his UFC debut. In his next fight, he was knocked out in just 38 seconds by Journey Newson, but the result was later overturned to a no contest. He’s 8-2 overall and holds a split decision win over Adrian Yanez in LFA. Six of his wins have come inside the distance, four by submission.

Kelleher and Pilarte are both solid grapplers, but Kelleher is the more dangerous striker of the two. Pilarte does have a seven inch reach advantage over Kelleher, but he’s not comfortable as a striker and unlikely to take advantage of his length. I can see both fighters having success wrestling, but Kelleher’s edge as a striker and his nasty guillotine choke have me leaning towards him getting an early stoppage.

PREDICTION: Kelleher by first round knockout

Bea Malecki (-155) vs. Josiane Nunes (+135)

Bea Malecki competed on season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter” losing to Leah Letson, but was still given an opportunity to compete in the UFC, making her pro debut and submitting Duda Santana in the first round. She then defeated Veronica Macedo by unanimous decision, but since then has pulled out of fights against Tracy Cortez and Norma Dumont.

Josiane Nunes was set to make her UFC debut earlier this year against Zarah Fairn, but the fight was scrapped after Fairn missed weight. Nunes is 7-1 overall and has knocked out her last four opponents.  Her lone loss is to UFC veteran, Taila Santos.

Malecki will be seven inches taller than Nunes and have a seven inch reach advantage. Malecki is very raw with only two professional fights, but Nunes doesn’t exactly look like a stellar prospect either. It’s not going to be pretty, but Malecki’s size advantage will likely be the deciding factor in this fight. Maybe Nunes can swarm her, get inside and negate the reach, but it’s more likely that Malecki just keeps her on the outside and beats her up for three rounds.

PREDICTION: Malecki by decision

William Knight (-180) vs. Fabio Cherant (+155)

William Knight is a two time competitor on the Contender Series, earning a developmental deal after his first appearance, a third round ground and pound stoppage of Herdem Alacabek. He then went 2-1 on the regional scene before getting a second shot to earn a UFC contract, stopping Cody Brundage in the first round with ground and pound. Knight made a successful UFC debut, defeating Aleksa Camur by unanimous decision. Most recently he dropped a unanimous decision to Da Un Jung.

Fabio Cherant made his UFC debut earlier this year as a short notice replacement and was submitted in the first round by Alonzo Menifield via Von Flue choke. Prior to joining the UFC, Cherant defeated Myron Dennis by unanimous decision to capture the vacant LFA light heavyweight title. Cherant’s only other loss came on the Contender Series when Camur knocked him out in the second round.

Cherant is a low volume striker with not much offensive or defensive wrestling to speak of. Going into his UFC debut, I didn’t feel like Cherant was UFC caliber and still don’t. He struggles in the clinch and that’s a bad place to be with Knight. Cherant is the better striker, but I see Knight just bullrushing him into the cage, landing strikes from the clinch and looking for takedowns. Getting submitted that easily by Menifield gives me concern about Cherant’s grappling so I expect Knight to overwhelm him on the ground and stop him with strikes inside the first two rounds.

PREDICTION: Knight by second round knockout

Roosevelt Roberts (-145) vs. Ignacio Bahamondes (+125)

Roosevelt Roberts is looking to get back in the win column after being submitted in the first round in his last two fights. Technically, it’s only one loss for Roberts though as Kevin Croom tested positive for marijuana and the result was overturned to a no contest. Prior to this skid, Roberts had won four out of five fights since joining the UFC. Two of those wins came by submission.

Ignacio Bahamondes earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series with a second round knockout of Edson Gomez via front kick. He then faced John Makdessi in his UFC debut and lost a split decision. Bahamondes is 11-4 overall with eight wins by knockout. Two of his four losses have come by submission.

Roberts isn’t strictly just a grappler, but I do see this as your typical striker versus grappler match as Bahamondes is an experienced kickboxer while Roberts is a better grappler and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt. Bahamondes’ grappling is a bit of a mystery and Roberts has been submitted twice in a row, but I expect Roberts to take Bahamondes out of his comfort zone and lock up a submission midway through the fight.

PREDICTION: Roberts by second round submission

Ramiz Brahimaj (-140) vs. Sasha Palatnikov (+120)

Kicking off the card is a matchup between Ramiz Brahimaj and Sasha Palatnikov in the welterweight division.

Brahimaj made an unsuccessful, but memorable UFC debut last fall, losing by third round doctor stoppage to Max Griffin as his ear was an absolutely bloody mess. Brahimaj is 8-3 overall with all eight wins coming by submission, seven in the first round.

Palatnikov scored a big upset in his UFC debut with a third round stoppage of Louis Cosce, but was then submitted by Impa Kasanganay in the second round the next time out. Palatnikov is 6-3 overall with three wins by knockout and three by decision. He’s been stopped in all three of his losses, twice by knockout.

Now this is your prototypical striker versus grappler match. Brahimaj surprisingly refused to wrestle in his debut against Griffin, but I expect him to come out early with a grappling heavy approach after Palatnikov’s performance against Kasanganay. Brahimaj’s cardio is a concern and we saw Palatnikov survive early danger in his debut and come on strong late so he’s live if Brahimaj can’t dominate early.

PREDICTION: Brahimaj by first round submission

Premium YTD: 67-86 +18.21 units

Last Event: UFC 265 (8-5)

2021 Record: 173-133 (57%)

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