The UFC returns with a 11 fight card headlined by a five round main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.
The action gets started at 1pm EST and streams on ESPN+.
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Max Holloway (-720) vs. Yair Rodriguez (+500)
In the main event, Max Holloway takes on Yair Rodriguez in a five round featherweight bout. Holloway is coming off a five round beating of Calvin Kattar earlier this year after losing two consecutive fights to Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway landed a record breaking 445 significant strikes against Kattar and a win over Rodriguez likely earns him a third crack at Volkanovski.
Rodriguez hasn’t fought in over two years since defeating Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision. He was supposed to face Zabit Magomedsharipov last summer, but he fractured his ankle. Then. He was scheduled to face Holloway in July, but Holloway had to withdraw due to injury. Since joining the UFC, Rodriguez has won eight of nine fights, five by decision and three by knockout. He lost to Frankie Edgar by second round doctor stoppage in 2017.
Holloway proved me wrong against Kattar, putting on an absolute clinic. I thought Kattar’s boxing skill combined with the punishment Holloway had taken would be a problem and boy was I wrong!
Holloway throws a crazy amount of punches, but he doesn’t pack a ton of power. He just drowns you in volume. Against Rodriguez, who uses a kick heavy approach, he’s highly unlikely to replicate the volume he landed on Kattar. Rodriguez is at a big technical disadvantage and might be able to keep Holloway at bay early, but as the fight drags on, Holloway is just going to pour on the pressure. Holloway should win a clear decision, but a late stoppage isn’t out of the question.
PREDICTION: Holloway by decision
Ben Rothwell (-165) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (+145)
Our co-main event takes place in the heavyweight division between Ben Rothwell and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Rothwell has won three of his last four fights, most recently submitting Chris Barnett in the second round. Rothwell is 9-7 overall in the UFC with seven finishes, four by knockout. Five of his seven losses are by decision.
De Lima is coming off a unanimous decision over Maurice Greene and has alternated wins and losses since 2015. He’s 7-5 overall in the UFC with five finishes, all in the first round. He’s been submitted in all five losses, three times in the first round.
Lima is a powerful striker and has shown off his wrestling lately, but he has poor cardio and a tendency to quit when the going gets tough. Rothwell is a big plodding heavyweight who throws a good amount of volume and has good cardio. He also has a good submission game, especially his ten finger guillotine choke.
Rothwell’s best days are behind him, but I’m fairly confident in him here. He’s durable and I don’t see de Lima having much success wrestling. Rothwell is going to walk de Lima down and once de Lima tires out, I see him shooting a desperation takedown and getting caught in Rothwell’s signature choke.
PREDICTION: Rothwell by second round submission
Felicia Spencer (-310) vs. Leah Letson (+245)
After a successful UFC debut in which she submitted Megan Anderson in the first round, Felicia Spencer has lost three of her last four. Most recently, she dropped a split decision to Norma Dumont to move her record to 2-3 in the UFC and 8-3 overall. She has six finishes, four by submission.
Leah Letson was a competitor on season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter” where she defeated Bea Malecki by unanimous decision, but was knocked out in the first round with a knee to the body be eventual winner Macy Chiasson. She defeated Julija Stoliarenko by split decision at the finale, but hasn’t fought since. It’s been nearly three years as Letson has dealt with various health issues. She is 5-1 overall with three wins by knockout.
The women’s featherweight division is so shallow that we get wonderful matchups like this. Spencer, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, is obviously a strong grappler, but she’s not a strong wrestler or striker. Letson is average at best with her boxing being her best skill.
Spencer should dominate this fight with her grappling. Maybe Letson made improvements in the three years she’s been off, but nothing prior suggests that she’s a nightmare matchup for Spencer. If Spencer can’t get the fight to the ground, this could be close on the feet. However, at some point Spencer is going to secure a takedown and that might be all she needs to finish the fight.
PREDICTION: Spencer by first round submission
Song Yadong (-130) vs. Julio Arce (+110)
Song Yadong is coming off a split decision victory over Casey Kenney, improving his UFC record to 6-1-1. Prior to that he dropped a unanimous decision to Kyler Phillips. Song has three finishes, two by knockout.
Julio Arce had a successful debut as a bantamweight, knocking out Andre Ewell in the second round. Arce is 4-2 overall in the UFC with three finishes, two by knockout.
Yadong is the better athlete and bigger hitter of the two, but Arce is a tough fighter and has the superior cardio. As long as Arce doesn’t get hurt early, he has the cardio and experience edge to take over down the stretch.
PREDICTION: Arce by decision
Thiago Moises (-265) vs. Joel Alvarez (+215)
Thiago Moises had a three fight winning streak snapped when he was submitted in the fourth round by Islam Makhachev. Moises is 4-3 in the UFC with three wins by decision.
Joel Alvarez has won three straight fights, all by finish, since losing his UFC debut by unanimous decision to Damir Ismagulov. Alvarez is 18-2 overall with 18 finishes, 16 by submission.
Moises is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with strong striking and wrestling skills and he’ll be facing a fellow ground specialist in Alvarez, who has decent striking but abysmal takedown defense. Alvarez will attack with submissions off his back, but a grappler the caliber of Moises isn’t going to get caught in these submissions. Moises beats him up standing or takes this to the ground whenever he wants and dominates.
PREDICTION: Moises by decision
Cynthia Calvillo (-135) vs. Andrea Lee (+115)
Cynthia Calvillo has lost two straight fights and was just knocked out in the first round two months ago by Jessica Andrade. Calvillo is 6-3-1 in the UFC, but is just 1-2 since moving to flyweight.
Andrea Lee snapped a three fight losing streak with a second round armbar submission over Antonina Shevchenko. Lee is 4-3 overall in the UFC, but most people believe she was robbed in her split decision loss to Lauren Murphy.
Calvillo is a very frustrating fighter to watch. She’s a strong wrestler and grappler, but fell in love with her striking too much and it has cost her fights. Lee is a better technical striker than Calvillo, but her takedown defense is pretty poor and something Calvillo should look to exploit. If this stays standing it’s a toss up, but if Calvillo goes back to her wrestling roots, it should be an easy victory.
PREDICTION: Calvillo by decision
Miguel Baeza (-140) vs. Khaos Williams (+120)
Miguel Baeza is looking to bounce back from his first professional loss after he dropped a close unanimous decision to Santiago Ponzinibbio. Baeza had won his first three fights in the UFC, all by finish. He’s 10-1 overall with eight finishes, seven by knockout.
Baeza’s loss to Ponzinibbio was, in essence, good for his career. He stepped up and faced a top ten welterweight and hopefully realized the holes in his game he needs to work on. Baeza is an aggressive striker, utilizes calf kicks well and throws with volume. He’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. However, his biggest flaw is the amount of punishment he takes in return.
Khaos Williams burst onto the UFC scene with first round knockouts over Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in a combined 57 seconds. Then he lost a unanimous decision to Michel Pereira, but bounced back with a unanimous decision over Matthew Semelsberger. Williams is 12-2 overall with seven finishes, five by knockout.
Williams displayed big power in his first two fights, but he’s proven he’s not just knockout or bust as he’s gone the distance in his last two fights and you can make the argument he beat Pereira. What cost him against Pereira was his defensive wrestling and grappling.
Baeza is a solid prospect, albeit a little bit older. He’s a bit too hittable for my liking which caps his ceiling and puts him in danger against Williams, but he does have a significant ground edge. He’s already displayed this against Takeshi Sato and it would be in his best interest to look to take Williams down early and exploit his lack of a ground game.
PREDICTION: Baeza by first round submission
Sean Woodson (-335) vs. Collin Anglin (+260)
Sean Woodson has won two of three fights since joining the UFC, most recently defeating Youssef Zalal by split decision. He’s 8-1 overall with five wins by decision. Woodson knocked out Terrance McKinney in the second round on the Contender Series to punch his ticket to the UFC.
Like Woodson, Collin Anglin earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series, defeating Muhammadjon Naimov by unanimous decision. He made his UFC debut against Melsik Baghdasaryan, but was knocked out in the second round. Anglin is 8-2 overall with five finishes, four by knockout.
Woodson is a long, lanky striker, but he just doesn’t have much power and isn’t that physically strong. He’ll have seven inch reach advantage over Anglin, who is a well-rounded fighter, but not exceptional in any facet of the game. Anglin is probably going to want to clinch with Woodson, where he’ll be the more physical fighter and look for takedowns from there. Woodson does a decent job at defending takedowns so this likely is contested mostly on the feet. With his reach advantage and superior volume, Woodson should take this.
PREDICTION: Woodson by decision
Cortney Casey (-250) vs. Liana Jojua (+200)
Cortney Casey has lost two in a row and five of her last seven fight, although three are by split decision. Most recently, she dropped a highly debateable split decision to JJ Aldrich. Casey is 5-8 in the UFC with three finishes, two by submission. Seven of her eight losses are by decision.
Liana Jojua has lost two of three since joining the UFC. She was stopped in the third round in her UFC debut by Sarah Moras, then bounced back with a first round armbar submission of Diana Belbita. In her most recent fight, Miranda Maverick defeated her by doctor’s stoppage due to a cut at the end of the first round. Jojua is 8-4 overall with seven finishes, six by submission.
Casey should win this fight. She’s a better striker than Jojua, but her takedown defense has always been her biggest liability. Jojua can probably score a takedown or two, but Casey is dangerous on the ground and will work back to her feet.
PREDICTION: Casey by decision
Marc Diakiese (-190) vs. Rafael Alves (+160)
Marc Diakiese is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Rafael Fiziev. Prior to that, Diakiese had won two in a row, both by unanimous decision over Lando Vannata and Joe Duffy. Diakiese is 5-4 in the UFC with three wins by decision and two by knockout. Three of his four losses have come by decision.
Rafael Alves had an unsuccessful UFC debut, losing to Damir Ismagulov by unanimous decision. Alves is 19-10 overall with 14 finishes. He’s been finished in nine of his ten losses, six times by submission.
Diakiese is an explosive and powerful striker, but he is also very technical. He’s also a solid wrestler with good ground control. Alves is pretty much the opposite. He’s an aggressive striker, but not technically sound and doesn’t throw enough strikes. He relies on landing something big and hunting for a finish. Diakiese isn’t the highest volume striker either, but he throws more than Alves and he’s more technical.
PREDICTION: Diakiese by decision
Da Un Jung (-125) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (+105)
Da Un Jung is unbeaten in four fights since joining the UFC. He has two finishes, a third round guillotine choke of Khadis Ibragimov in his UFC debut and a first round knockout of Mike Rodriguez. Then he went to a debateable split draw with Sam Alvey and most recently picked up a unanimous decision over William Knight. He’s 14-2-1 overall with twelve finishes, ten by knockout.
Kennedy Nzechukwu has won three in a row since getting caught in a third round triangle choke in his UFC debut by Paul Craig. In his last two fights, he knocked out Carlos Ulberg in the second round and then Danilo Marques in the third round. He’s 9-1 overall with six wins by knockout and three by decision.
This should be a fun fight to get the card started as both guys like to bang it out on the feet. Jung is the more likely of the two to wrestle and Nzechukwu is susceptible to the takedown. If Jung comes out with a heavy wrestling approach, it could be a long night for Nzechukwu. On the feet, I favor Nzechukwu with his reach advantage and better volume. As long as he can stuff some takedowns, I think Nzechukwu edges it out.
PREDICTION: Nzechukwu by decision
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