Time for Sin City’s usual go to. Our UFC predictions. For this segment, we will be covering the fights at UFC 231 in Toronto, Canada. I see this card as one of the most underrated cards of the year. Max Holloway has been one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC, yet he’s facing one of the most dangerous up-and-comers in the game.
Brian “T-City” Ortega is the owner of one of the most technical ground games in the UFC, holding a black belt from Gracie Jiu-jitsu academy. He is as confident as you can be for a challenger. This fight has been pushed back due to injury, but its finally here. The hype is real folks so without further ado, let’s jump into these predictions.
(C) Max Holloway (19-2) vs. #5 Brian Ortega (14-0, 1NC)
I appreciate all up-and-coming fighters. This game is ruthless so when I see a diamond in the rough, I do my best to give that fighter the praise he deserves. Well Brian Ortega may just be that diamond in the rough. Ortega owns one of the most lethal ground games in the UFC. We know that though. What we don’t realize about “T-City” is that he effectively turns the pressure on and is dangerous in the clinch as well. He’s an outstanding transition grappler and can hit a submission from everywhere, as seen in the Cub Swanson fight. With that being said, there’s a reason the last fight Max Holloway lost was to Conor McGregor in 2013. He has been on a tear since, having one of the longest active win streaks in the UFC. Holloway has a beautiful all around game, but he is susceptible to taking damage. He will stand in the pocket and trade with you. He also has no problem taking a fight to the ground, as he has multiple submission victories in the UFC. I do believe Ortega is a very deceptive fighter. He will set up his chokes and wait for the perfect time to strike. Holloway isn’t the most careful fighter, so he could be susceptible to one of Ortega’s chokes. Either way, I see Ortega effectively trying to clinch with Holloway until the perfect time comes. Give me Ortega in the fourth round. I’ll even spice it up and say it will be a triangle choke.
Prediction: Ortega via 4th round triangle choke
#1 Valentina Shevchenko (15-3) vs. #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-2)
This might be my most anticipated women’s fight since Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate 2. These are two true killers. Not only are they two true killers, but they are arguably the two most technical strikers in the women’s divisions. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has only lost to one fighter and that fighter is the women’s strawweight champion. Jedrzejczyk can unleash a combination of punches like we’ve never seen before out of a girl in the UFC. She’s dominated girl after girl with her striking, making her one of the renowned champions in the UFC. Shevchencko, on the other hand, is arguably just as elite as Jedrzejczyk on the feet. In fact, she beat Jedrzejczyk 3 times in Muay Thai competition around a decade ago. This fight is all a fight fan could ask for. To make things even better, its for the women’s flyweight belt. This is going to be as close as it gets, but I’m going to give the edge to Joanna. While I am a big fan of Schevchenko’s striking, I believe the former strawweight champion is just a little too quick for Shevchenko. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by split decision thank you very much.
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk via unanimous decision
#13 Alex Oliveira (19-4-1, 2NC) vs. #14 Gunnar Nelson (16-3-1)
Not exactly the “hype” fight of the night, but it will do. Gunnar Nelson, aka Conor McGregor’s training partner, is very technical on the ground as well as standing up. Nelson has a black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate as well as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. One thing I’ve never liked about Nelson is his volume of work. He just has never been a “go-getter” in the octagon. Oliveira is a crisp standup fighter who can be very aggressive at times, which I believe will pose a threat to Nelson. At the end of the day, I’m going to take Nelson in this fight due to his all-around game and expert trainers in his corner. Give me Nelson by decision.
Prediction: Nelson via unanimous decision
Hakeem Dawodu (8-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak
Two unranked prospects on the main card…hmmm? Either way, it seems like an interesting one. Bochniak prefers to fight on the ground as his background is jiu-jitsu. He is a brown belt and trains with Broadway Jiu-Jitsu. Dawodu is a striker. And a lethal striker at that. He is very explosive and can exercise a high volume of work for a short amount of time throughout the fight. Truth be told, his takedown defense is not that great and there are some question marks about his ground game. I don’t believe his lack of a ground game can make up for the difference in athleticism for Bochniak. If Bochniak can take this fight to the ground, I’d venture a guess Dawodu is in trouble. Dawodu is too big and too athletic to be losing a fight like this. I know this is bold but give me Dawodu by first round knockout.
Prediction: Dawodu via 1st round TKO
#7 Jimi Manuwa (17-4) vs. #15 Thiago Santos (19-6)
Santos probably has an overall advantage in terms of an overall MMA game. He is an extremely deceptive fighter and he is efficient at setting up his strikes. If this fight goes to the ground, Santos can claim an advantage there as well. Manuwa, on the other hand, loves going for the knockout. He looks for it every fight. It has been proven that he cannot hang with technical strikers (Gustafsson can attest to that), but that power shot is deadly. If Santos is not careful, he can get leveled really quickly. Nonetheless, I am going to go with the more technical and smarter fighter. Santos by decision.
Prediction: Santos via unanimous decision