UFC superstar Conor McGregor will meet Dustin Poirier for a third time this Saturday in the main event of UFC 264 at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Las Vegas.
In the co-main event, top welterweight contenders Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns will face off in a fight that could determine Kamaru Usman’s future challenger while heavyweights Tui Tuivasa and Greg Hardy square off in the main card.
But before the big names take the cage, an exciting prelims undercard led by veteran Carlos Condit opens the show on Saturday night.
Carlos Condit was the final WEC welterweight champion. The 37-year old also competed for Pancrase and Shootboxing in Japan. Known as the Natural Born Assassin, Condit was a former interim UFC welterweight champion who owns notable wins over the likes of Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, and Nick Diaz.
Condit has a record of 32-13 with 15 knockouts and 13 submission victories. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-2 tall with a 75-inch reach.
Max Griffin is a former Tachi Palace welterweight champion. The 35-year old competed in The Ultimate Fighter 12, losing in the entry round. Griffin is just 3-4 in his last seven bouts but is coming off back-to-back wins over Ramiz Brahimaj and Song Kenan.
He is 17-9 with nine knockouts and two wins by way of submission. Griffin is 5-11 tall with a reach of 76 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Griffin is inconsistent and fragile but is skilled enough to keep up with Condit on the feet. He has also developed a good offensive wrestling game that should be able to take advantage of Condit’s poor takedown defense.
I think Condit is tough enough to survive on his back and he still has the durability to absorb Griffin’s best shots. However, I don’t think Condit can withstand Griffin’s grind and the latter is going to keep Condit under control by dominating from top control.
Prediction: Max Griffin
Niko Price is a former Fight Time welterweight champion. The 31-year old from Florida joined the UFC in 2016 with an unbeaten 8-0 record. He has struggled inside the Octagon, going 6-4 with two no-contests. He figured in a draw with Donald Cerrone in his last bout but it was overturned to a no-contest after Price failed a drug test.
Price is 14-4 with 10 knockouts and 3 submission victories. He is six feet tall with a reach of 76 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Michel Pereira was a welterweight champion at the Serbian Battle Championship promotion. The 27-year old Brazilian also fought under Akhmat Fight Club, Jungle Fight, and Road Fighting Championship. After losing two out of his first three bouts, Pereira has produced back-to-back wins over Zelim Imadaev and Khaos Williams.
He owns a record of 25-11 with 10 knockouts and seven submission wins. Pereira is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-1 tall with a 73-inch reach.
Pereira has transformed from a walking highlight reel to a legit contender. He has the speed and footwork to dance around the Octagon. For as long as he keeps his composure and doesn’t get lured into a firefight, he is going to neutralize Price’s free-swinging style.
I think Pereira plays matador here and he will wait for Price to make a mistake. Pereira catches Price swinging and puts him away with a flurry of strikes.
Prediction: Michel Pereira
Ryan Hall was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 22. The 36-year old is a decorated ADCC grappler and World Jiu-Jitsu competitor. He joined the UFC in 2015 but has fought only four times under the promotion and has not fought since defeating Darren Elkins on July 13, 2019.
Hall has a record of 8-1 with two knockouts and three submission wins. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance.
Ilia Topuria four for Cage Warriors and Brave CF before joining the UFC last year. The 24-year old Spaniard is 2-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Youssef Zalal and Damon Jackson.
He has a record of 10-0 with two knockouts and seven submission victories. Topuria is 5-7 tall with a reach of 69 inches and fights as an orthodox fighter.
Topuria has good wrestling, quality jiu-jitsu, and legit punching power. In short, he has the tools to make life difficult for Hall. I’m not counting out the possibility that Hall might be able to surprise Topuria given his ability on the mat.
However, Unless Topuria stays on his back for long stretches, he is going to pick Hall apart. Hall may be too tough to get finished but he isn’t going to outwork or outpoint Topuria.
Prediction: Ilia Topuria
Tevin Giles fought for Legacy FC, Fury Fighting, and LFA before joining the UFC in 2017. After opening his UFC career with a 1-2 record, Giles has won his last three bouts and is coming off a win over Roman Dolidze last March.
The 28-year old from Texas has a record of 14-2 with six knockouts and five submission wins. Giles is six feet tall with a 74-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Dricus Du Plessis is a former KSW welterweight champion and EFC middleweight champion. The 27-year old from South Africa knocked out Markus Perez in his UFC debut at Fight Island last October 2020.
Du Plessis is 15-2 with six knockouts and nine victories via submission. He is a switch hitter who stands 6-1 tall with a reach of 76 inches.
Giles is a much better skilled technical striker than Du Plessis. He has both speed and power to dominate on the feet. However, Du Plessis has an arsenal of low kicks, counters, and reactive takedowns.
It’s possible that Giles puts Du Plessis to sleep here but his tentativeness and tendency to get lured into a wrestling battle on the mat could lead to his downfall. I think Du Plessis damages Giles’ lead leg with kicks and then beats him using top control.
Prediction: Dricus Du Plessis
Jennifer Maia is the no. 4 ranked flyweight in the UFC. The 32-year old Brazilian is a former Invicta FC flyweight champion who joined the UFC in 2018. After a 3-2 start to her Octagon career, she challenged Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 255 for the belt but was outfought in a five-round unanimous decision.
Maia has a record of 18-7 with four knockouts and five submission wins. She is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-4 tall with a 64-inch reach.
Jessica Eye is the 7th ranked female flyweight in the UFC. The 34-year old American is a former Ring of Combat 130-pound champion. She joined the UFC in 2013 but has had a rough journey inside the Octagon with a record of 5-8 with one no contest.
Overall, Eye is 15-9 with three knockouts and one submission win. She is an orthodox fighter who is 5-6 tall with a reach of 66 inches.
Eye has two inches of height and reach advantages on Maia. She has good boxing and she probably is the better fighter between the two in the stand-up. However, I’m not sure what she counters with if Maia takes her down to the ground.
Evil has been taken down by her last four opponents and given that Maia has BJJ prowess, the Brazilian should dominate with her wrestling.
No doubt, Eye will try to keep this fight on the feet. But if Maia can put Eye on her back, she’s going to have stretches where she’ll look dominant. If Maia can take Eye down every round, which is highly possible, she’s going to win this on points.
Prediction: Jennifer Maia
Omari Akhmedov is the no. 13 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 33-year old from Dagestan is a former Russian Pankration champion and also a hand-to-hand combat and Combat Sambo champion in Russia.
He is 6-1-1 in his last eight UFC bouts and has an overall record of 21-5 with 7 knockouts and six submission wins. Akhmedov stands six feet tall with a 73-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Brad Tavares is the no. 15 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 33-year old Hawaiian was a semi-finalist at TUF 11 where he lost to Court McGee. Tavares has won five out of his last seven bouts with his losses coming against Edmen Shabazyan and Israel Adesanya.
Tavares has a record of 18-6 with five knockouts and two submissions. He is an orthodox fighter who has a reach of 74 inches while standing 6-1 tall.
Akhmedov’s UFC success has come in bouts where he was able to overwhelm his opponents from the clinch and top position. However, Tavares has excellent takedown defense which will help keep this fight on the feet, and terrific cardio which will make him look stronger the longer this fight goes.
If Tavares keeps this fight up, he’s going to shut down Akhmedov’s grinding style and pick the Dagestani apart on the feet with strong striking fundamentals. I think that Tavares dishes out a steady diet of leg kicks and solid combinations to win on points.
Prediction: Brad Tavares
Zhalgas Zhumagulov fought under Kunlun Fight and Fight Night Global before joining the UFC in 2020. He is 0-2 inside the Octagon with losses to Raulian Paiva and Amir Albazi and has a record of 13-5 with six knockouts and one win via submission.
Zhumagulov is a switch hitter who stands 5-4 tall with a reach of 66 inches.
Jerome Rivera fought under KOTC and challenged for the LFA flyweight champion. The 26-year old earned his UFC contract via the Contender Series but is 0-3 inside the Octagon. Rivera is 10-5 with seven wins via submission.
Rivera is a southpaw who stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches.
Rivera doesn’t have the wrestling chops to keep Zhumagulov on his back. Nor does he have the defensive skills to prevent to keep up with Zhumagulov’s blitz in the stand-up. His best chance of winning this fight is to control Zhumagulov from top position. But that looks unlikely given Zhumagulov’s experience on his back.
I think that Zhumagulov dominates Rivera with terrific punch combinations. I’m not discounting a stoppage here. Zhumagulov’s blitz attacks could lead to a finish here. Regardless, I think Zhumagulov wins.
Prediction: Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Yaozong Hu joined the UFC in 2017 but has fought just twice, both losses. His last bout was a decision loss to Rashad Coulter on November 24, 2018. The 26-year old from China has a record of 3-2 with two knockouts and one submission win. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-3 tall with a 72-inch reach.
Alen Amedovski appeared for Cage Warriors and Magnum FC before joining Bellator where he went 2-0. Amedovski came to the UFC in 2019, losing both his Octagon appearances that year. He has not fought since a 17-second KO loss to John Phillips on September 28, 2019. Amedovski has a record of 8-2 with 8 knockouts. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 74 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
This is Yaozong’s first fight in nearly three years. He’s still 26 and fighting out of a terrific camp in Tiger Muay Thai so given his time off, he should’ve worked on improving his offense while away.
Amedovski has a tendency to be out grappled and Philips knocked him out in less than 30 seconds. He too is coming off a long layoff, not having fought in two years. But for all his shortcomings, Amedovski can punch and he has heavy hands.
I think Amedovski catches Yaozong early and smashed him right there and then.
Prediction: Alen Amedovski
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