The UFC is back with another 11 fight card headlined by a five round main event in the lightweight division between Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises. The action gets started at 7pm EST on ESPN and also streams on ESPN+. 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.
Islam Makhachev (-720) vs. Thiago Moises (+500)
Islam Makhachev gets his first chance to really step out of the shadow of Khabib Nurmagomedov as he takes on Thiago Moises in a five round main event.
Long considered a dark horse in the lightweight division, Makhachev has a clearer path to the title with his mentor now retired. Makhachev is coming off a dominant third round submission victory earlier this year over Drew Dober. The Dagestani wrestler has won seven fights in a row and is 8-1 overall in the UFC. Makhachev has won four fights by decision, three by submission and one by knockout inside the Octagon. In his lone loss, he was knocked out in the first round by Adriano Martins.
Moises has won three straight fights after losing two of his first three since joining the UFC. Most recently, he defeated Alexander Hernandez by unanimous decision. Three of those four wins have come by decision with the other being a second round heel hook over Michael Johnson.
Makhachev isn’t on the same level as Khabib, but outside of Martins, no one has been able to stop him. Makhachev’s lack of volume on the feet may be an issue down the road, but it won’t matter as long as no one can stop his wrestling. Moises is a decent striker, but he’s low volume as well and doesn’t defend takedowns very well. He’s a skilled grappler though so I don’t see Makhachev running through him on the ground, but he should dominate the action.
PREDICTION: Makhachev by decision
Miesha Tate (-140) vs. Marion Reneau (+120)
Miesha Tate makes her return to the UFC after a nearly five year retirement and she’ll take on Marion Reneau.
Tate upset Holly Holm with a fifth round rear naked choke to win the UFC bantamweight title, but was then upset herself by Amanda Nunes and then lost a unanimous decision to Raquel Pennington in her final UFC fight. Tate was just 5-4 overall in the UFC with four decision wins and one by submission. She was finished in three of her four losses, twice by submission.
Reneau has lost four fights in a row, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Macy Chiasson. In fact, all four of those losses have come by unanimous decision. Her last win came over three years ago when she submitted Sara McMann in the second round. She is 5-6 overall in the UFC with four wins coming inside the distance, two by submission and two by knockout. All six losses have come by decision.
Five years is a long time to be away, but this is a very winnable fight for Tate. Reneau is 44 years old and she claims this is her retirement fight. Tate is a strong grappler and wrestler and Reneau struggles to defend takedowns, but she’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and will threaten off her back. If Reneau can defend takedowns and force Tate to strike, I have to give Reneau the edge on the feet. She’s more active and a more technical striker.
In the end, I still have to side with Tate. Maybe she comes back and just looks bad, but if not, everything should line up for her to get the victory.
PREDICTION: Tate by decision
Mateusz Gamrot (-210) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+175)
Mateusz Gamrot suffered the first loss of his career in his UFC debut as he dropped a unanimous decision to Guram Kutateladze. He bounced back with a second round knockout of Scott Holtzman earlier this year. Gamrot is 18-1 overall with ten wins coming inside the distance, six by knockout and four by submission.
Jeremy Stephens is returning to lightweight for the first time since December 2012. He was supposed to face Drakkar Klose earlier this year, but he couldn’t control himself from acting like a complete goon, shoving Klose at weigh ins. Klose wound up being injured from the shove and the fight was called off just moments after the card started. Stephens has lost four fights in a row and was knocked out two times in that stretch.
Gamrot was a two division champ in KSW before joining the UFC. He comes from a wrestling background and has attempted 21 takedowns so far in his two UFC fights. Gamrot is a decent striker as well and he’s very sound defensively. Stephens has the power edge, but he lacks the volume of Gamrot and he just may not be able to land cleanly. Stephens has decent wrestling skills, but with the rate that Gamrot attempts takedowns, he’s likely to end up on his back a few times. Gamrot isn’t a strong control grappler, though so Stephens could be able to work his way back to the feet where he’ll look to unload his big power. Gamrot’s wrestling offense should be too much for Stephens to handle as he picks up his second straight win.
PREDICTION: Gamrot by decision
Rodolfo Vieira (-220) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+180)
Rodolfo Vieira was on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in recent UFC history earlier this year when he was submitted in the second round by Anthony Hernandez. It was the first loss of his career. Vieira is 2-1 in the UFC with both wins by submission. He’s 7-1 overall with six wins by submission and one by knockout.
Dustin Stoltzfus earned his UFC contract on the Contender Series with a first round stoppage when his opponent broke his arm. He then lost his UFC debut by unanimous decision to Kyle Daukaus. Stoltzfus is 13-2 overall with five wins by decision and five by submission.
Vieira is an elite grappler with solid wrestling skill, but he has very poor cardio and that was his undoing against Hernandez. Anytime, Vieira is stretched past the first round it’s going to be an adventure for him, but his opponent has to first get to that point. Stoltzfus is a grappling based fighter, but no where near the level of Vieira. Maybe Stoltzfus can survive on the ground early on, hope Vieira gasses out again and then outpoint him on the feet. Stoltzfus is the cleaner striker and he should hold the cardio edge.
The loss to Hernandez should be an eye opener for Vieira. I would have to assume he focused more on cardio this time round so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Vieira bounces back with a dominant grappling performance.
PREDICTION: Vieira by first round
Gabriel Benitez (-160) vs. Billy Quarantillo (+140)
Gabriel Benitez snapped a two fight winning streak in his last fight as he stopped Justin Jaynes in the first round with a knee to the body. He’s 6-4 in the UFC with two wins by knockout and two by submission. Two of his four losses have come by knockout.
Billy Quarantillo is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Gavin Tucker that snapped a three fight winning streak since joining the UFC and an eight fight winning streak overall. Five of the eight wins in that stretch came inside the distance, four by knockout. Quarantillo is 15-3 overall and has finished twelve opponents, seven by knockout.
Quarantillo was originally supposed to face Herbert Burns here, in my opinion, a far better better matchup for him than Benitez. Quarantillo is a solid fighter, but his biggest strength is the pace pushes. Burns is the type of fighter to wilt, while Benitez is not. Benitez is a strong striker, especially with his leg kicks. Quarantillo isn’t going to outstrike him so he’ll need to turn this into a brawl and try to wear down Benitez with his aggression and pace. Quarantillo is likely the better grappler, but he may struggle to get the fight there.
Benitez is just a bad matchup as Quarantillo’s style is better suited for the lower tier of the division. As the competition gets tougher, Quarantillo can’t just rely on overwhelming opponents late in fights. Benitez should be able to control the striking exchanges and win a decision.
PREDICTION: Benitez by decision
Daniel Rodriguez (-320) vs. Preston Parsons (+250)
Daniel Rodriguez was supposed to face Abukubar Nurmagomedov, but he’ll now face Preston Parsons, who will make his UFC debut on short notice.
Rodriguez is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Mike Perry. Rodriguez is 4-1 since joining the UFC, but honestly should be 5-0 as most feel he was robbed against Nicolas Dalby. Rodriguez submitted Tim Means in his UFC debut and knocked out Dwight Grant in the first round in a wild fight. Eleven of his fourteen career wins have come inside the distance, seven by knockout.
Parsons enters the UFC with a 9-2 record with all nine of his wins coming by submission, eight in the first round. Both of his losses have come inside the distance. In eleven career fights, Parsons has only been out of the first round one time.
Parsons looks like an interesting fighter. He’s a proven finisher, albeit against weaker competition, but he doesn’t seem to just be a can crusher. His cardio is definitely a concern for me and I’m interested to see how he looks late in the second or third round. Rodriguez will be a good test for him as he’s well rounded and experienced. The biggest edge Rodriguez holds will be in striking volume.
Parsons should have some success in the UFC, but this is a rough debut. Until I see Parsons pushed to the later rounds, I have to side with the veteran.
PREDICTION: Rodriguez by third round knockout
Amanda Lemos (-575) vs. Montserrat Conejo (+410)
Amanda Lemos is coming off a first round knockout of Livinha Souza that extended her winning streak to three. Lemos made her UFC debut at bantamweight and was finished by Leslie Smith in the second round. She was then suspended by USADA for two years and returned as a strawweight. Eight of her nine wins have come inside the distance, six by knockout.
Montserrat Conejo made a successful UFC debut earlier this year, upsetting Cheyanne Buys by unanimous decision. Conejo is 10-1 overall with her lone loss to UFC veteran Danielle Taylor. She has five wins by decision, three by submission and two by knockout.
Lemos is a massive favorite and as long as she can defend Conejo’s patented head and arm throws, I don’t see her facing much adversity here. She’s the more technical and powerful striker of the two and may even score takedowns of her own. Conejo seems pretty tough so I’m not expecting a finish from Lemos.
PREDICTION: Lemos by decision
Khalid Taha (-145) vs. Sergey Morozov (+125)
Khalid Taha has just one official win in four UFC appearances, a 25 second knockout of Boston Salmon. Taha had submitted Bruno Silva in the third round, but the result was later overturned to a no contest. Most recently, Taha lost a unanimous decision to Raoni Barcelos. Taha is 13-3 overall with eleven of those wins coming inside the distance, eight by knockout.
This will be Sergey Morozov’s second appearance in the UFC. He was submitted in the second round by Umar Nurmagomedov. Morozov was the M-1 Global bantamweight champion before joining the UFC with a record of 16-3. Eleven of those wins came inside the distance, eight by knockout.
This fight likely comes down to Taha’s striking versus Morozov’s grappling. Taha is a powerful striker and a better boxer than Morozov, but his main weakness in the UFC has been his takedown defense. If Morozov can get his wrestling going and hold Taha down for periods of time, I like his chances. It’s a toss up, but I lean towards Morozov to get it done.
PREDICTION: Morozov by decision
Miles Johns (-165) vs. Anderson dos Santos (+145)
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
Francisco Figueiredo (-310) vs. Malcolm Gordon (+245)
Francisco Figueiredo, the brother of Deveison Figueiredo the former UFC flyweight champion, made a successful UFC debut earlier this year with a unanimous decision victory over Jerome Rivera. Figueiredo was the Jungle Fight bantamweight champion, compiling a record of 11-3-11-3-1 before joining the UFC. Ten of those eleven wins came inside the distance, seven by submission.
Malcolm Gordon is looking for his first win inside the Octagon after getting finished in the first round in his first two UFC appearances. Gordon is 12-5 overall with ten wins coming inside the distance, six by submission. Gordon has been finished in all five of his losses, four by knockout.
Figueiredo fights much like his younger brother, but he’s not as skilled. I’m not high on him, but I’m not high on Gordon either. Figueiredo has the power and durability edge, while Gordon is likely the better submission grappler. I don’t have a ton of confidence in Figueiredo and this fight could get ugly late for him, but the way that Gordon reacts to strikes is a huge red flag. Figueiredo puts it on Gordon early and gets the stoppage.
PREDICTION: Figueiredo by first round knockout
Rodrigo Nascimento (-365) vs. Alan Baudot (+280)
Kicking off the card is a heavyweight fight between Rodrigo Nascimento and Alan Baudot.
Nascimento made a successful UFC debut, submitting Don’Tale Mayes in the second round, but was then knocked out in his next fight in just 45 seconds by Chris Daukaus. Nascimento is 8-1 overall with all of his wins coming inside the distance, six by submission.
Baudot made his UFC debut last year and was finished with ground and pound just 95 seconds into the first round by Tom Aspinall. Baudot is 8-2 overall with seven wins by knockout and one by disqualification. Both of his losses have come early in the first round by knockout.
This is your typical striker versus grappler match. Nascimento wants to get this fight on the ground, while Baudot is looking for a knockout on the feet. Neither of these guys are high level heavyweights, but I have much more faith in Nascimento to get the job done here. Baudot isn’t an elite striker and his ground game looked awful in his UFC debut. Unless he clips Nascimento early, he’s going to get taken down and dominated on the ground.
PREDICTION: Nascimento by first round submission
Premium YTD: 53 – 71 +15.74 units
Last event: UFC 264 (10-2)
2021 record: 148 – 115 (56%)