Two titles will be on the line when the UFC heads to the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida for UFC 273 on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will defend his belt against the 4th ranked Korean Zombie. Meanwhile, current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will face former champion Petr Yan in a rematch of their controversial first encounter. Rising star Khamzat Chimaev is also set to take on his toughest test so far when he faces no. 2 welterweight Gilbert Burns on the main card.
But before the main card bouts hit the Octagon, UFC 273 will be preceded by a prelims undercard that has names that could easily fight on the main card of another UFC event.
Let’s take a look at the prelims undercard bouts and make our predictions.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik is the no. 8 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. Bigi Boi is a former WLF Super Heavyweight kickboxing champion and Superkombat World Grand Prix runner-up in 2013. He joined the UFC in 2019 and won his first four bouts via knockout. In his fifth UFC assignment, Rozenstruik was stopped by Francis Ngannou at UFC 249. Since then, he’s gone 2-2 with wins over Junio Dos Santos and Augusto Sakai and losses to Cyril Gane and Curtis Blaydes.
The 34-year old Surinamese fighter has a record of 12-3 with 11 knockouts. He stands 6-2 tall with a reach of 78 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Marcin Tybura is the no. 10 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 36-year old from Poland is a former M-1 Global Grand Prix winner and M-1 Global heavyweight champion. Tybur joined the UFC in 2016 and after losing to Timothy Johnson in his debut, he won 9 out of his next 14 bouts. In his most recent assignment, Tybura lost via unanimous decision to Alexander Volkov at UFC 267.
Tybura is 22-7 with 9 knockouts and six submission wins. He stands 6-3 tall with a 78-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter.
Rozenstruik has otherworldly power so don’t be surprised if he starches Tybura within the first minute of the fight. We’ve seen Tybur get stopped before, including a stretch of four bouts that saw him get knocked out three times. However, Tybura has looked great as of late.
His last three wins have come against heavy-handed opponents and knockout artists who were unable to take his head off. In those bouts, Tybura used his ground game to weather the storm and turn the tide. And although he isn’t as good as Curtis Blaydes on the mat, he’s got better ground skills than Rozenstruik.
I think Bigi Boi will look for the early knockout but Tybura is going to weather the storm with his wrestling game and take over after the first round. I’m picking Tybura to grind out Rozenstruik in a close but clear decision win.
Prediction: Marcin Tybura
Aspen Ladd is the no. 4 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC. The 27-year old from Folsom, California began her career at Invicta FC where he picks up a record of 5-0 with four stoppages. Ladd joined the UFC in 2017 as one of the promotion’s top prospects. After winning her first three bouts inside the Octagon, Ladd suffered a knockout loss to former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie in 2019. She bounced back to beat Yana Kunitskaya in her next bout but lost to Norma Dumont in her most recent outing.
Ladd is 9-2 with six knockouts and one submission win. She is 5-6 tall with a reach of 66 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Raquel Pennington is the no. 7 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC. The 33-year old from Colorado Springs, Colorado is a former title challenger who lost to Amanda Nunes at UFC 224. Rocky began her career at Invicta FC before joining The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 where she lost to Jessica Rakoczy in the semifinals. Pennington has won three in a row since losing to Holly Holm at UFC 246. In her most recent bout, she defeated TUF winner Macy Chiasson via submission.
Pennington has a record of 13-8 with one knockout and four submission wins. She is 5-7 tall with a 67-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Ladd looked tentative in her last fight against Dumont and that second-guessing took out her bulldozing style. If she looked ineffective against a fighter with a basic offense like Dumont, I wonder how she does against a former title challenger like Pennington.
Rocky looked decisive and aggressive when she obliged into a war with the bigger Macy Chiasson in her last bout. If that’s the Pennington that shows up at UFC 273, there’s no way Ladd is going to hang with her in the stand-up.
Pennington has a 1.5-inch reach advantage and for an excellent boxer like her, that could be just what she needs to keep Ladd off her. Cleaner blows and more strikes landed will give the veteran the win here.
Prediction: Raquel Pennington
Ian Garry is a standout from the Cage Warriors promotion where he went on an unbeaten run. The 24-year old from Dublin, Ireland scored a first-round knockout win over Jordan Williams in his UFC debut at UFC 268 last November 6, 2021. The Sanford MMA product is one of the UFC’s hottest European prospects who is looking to make a splash like countryman Conor McGregor.
Garry is 8-0 with five knockout wins and one submission victory. He stands 6-3 tall with a 74-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter.
Darian Weeks is a veteran of the Midwest Fight League and Kansas City fighting Alliance. The 28-year old from Sedalia, Missouri is looking for his first win in the UFC after losing to Bryan Barberena in his UFC debut at UFC at ESPN 31 last December 4, 2021.
Weeks has a record of 5-1 with four knockouts and one submission victory. He is 5-11 tall with a reach of 72 inches and fights as an orthodox fighter.
With all due respect to Weeks, I don’t think he has the technical striking to keep up with Garry on the feet. And if he couldn’t hold down Barberena too long, he isn’t going to dominate Garry on the mat.
Garry has the better and more accurate long-range striking between the two. Even if Weeks gets close and takes him down, Garry’s scrambling skills will make it difficult for Weeks to gain control.
Either Garry finds Weeks’ neck in one of the scrambles or he puts his opponent away with a barrage of strikes in the first round of the bout.
Prediction: Ian Garry
Anthony Herandez fought under Global Knockout and Legacy Fighting Alliance before joining the UFC in 2019 via the Contender Series where he knocked out Jordan Wright. However, his win was overturned into a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana. Hernandez still got his UFC contract and is 2-2 inside the Octagon. In his last bout, he defeated Rodolfo Vieira via submission at UFC 258.
Hernandez is 8-2 with one knockout and six submission wins. He is six feet tall with a reach of 75 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Josh Fremd fought under Bellator, Pinnacle FC, Made Men Promotions, and LFA before joining the UFC this year. The 28-year old from Connellsville, Pennsylvania is coming off a second-round submission win over Joel Bauman in his most recent bout at Fighting Alliance Championship 12 just last February 6, 2022.
He has a record of 9-2 with four knockouts and three submission victories. Fremd is 6-4 tall with a reach of 76 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Fremd is a decent fighter but not only is he taking this fight on very short notice but he is also a less dangerous foe than Dricus Du Plessis was supposed to be.
Although he’s good at putting pressure on his opponents, Fremd has a leaky striking defense that Hernandez could take advantage of. Also, Fremd doesn’t have the overall ground skills to beat Hernandez on the mat.
I think that Hernandez is going to open things up early and Fremd will leave too many openings for Hernandez not to notice. Either he clips Fremd early or he catches his opponent napping and finished him with a front choke.
Prediction: Anthony Hernandez
Mickey Gall is an accomplished grappler who won multiple NAGA and Grappler’s Quest grappling titles. The 30-year old from Green Brook, New Jersey will always be remembered as CM Punk’s first UFC opponent. Gall submitted punk in the second round of their high-profile UC 203 bout. Since then, he’s split his last eight bouts and is coming off a loss to Alex Morono last December 4th.
Gall is 7-4 with six submission wins. He stands 6-2 tall with a reach of 74 inches and is a switch hitter.
Mike Malott is a veteran of ECC, ECFP, WSOF, Bellatorand Cage Fury Fighting Championship. The 30-year old from Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada joined the Contender Series last October and choked out Shimon Smotritsky. Malott will be making his UFC debut on Saturday night.
He has a record of 7-1 with 3 knockouts and four submission victories. Malott is 6-1 tall with a 73-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter.
Gall has the edge in wrestling and has never lost two fights in a row in the UFC. Despite that, Malott’s quick hands will enable him to control the striking while his decent grappling skills will keep him safe from Gall’s submissions.
The only issue I have with Malott is his lack of fight time. The guy has spent less than one round inside the cage in the previous six years and none of his wins have come after the two-minute mark of the opening round. That’s something to think about for sure and I don’t blame you if you think Gall is going to grind Malott out for a decision win. However, if Malott’s cardio holds, I think he beats Gall in a stand-up battle.
Prediction: Mike Malott
Julio Arce is a former bantamweight and featherweight champion at the Ring of Combat promotion. The 32-year old from Miami, Florida knocked out Peter Petties at the Contender Series in 2017 but did not earn an outright UFC contract but was a replacement for Charles Rosa at UFC 220 and has been with the UFC ever since.
Arce has a record of 17-5 with five knockouts and five submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches and is a southpaw fighter.
Daniel Santos fought under Warriors of God, Fatality Arena, Decagon MMA, Brave Combat Federation, and Absolute Championship Akhmat. The 27-year old Brazilian is has won two fights in a row and will be making his UFC debut in this event.
Santos is 8-1 with four knockouts and one submission win. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 67 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Arce is no stranger to high-volume brawls while Santos is an explosive fighter. Those traits give this the potential to be one of the best fights of the night. Without question, both men have equal chances of winning this volatile fight.
However, I think that Arce has the edge here. Arce is such a skilled kickboxer and Santos isn’t difficult to hit. Santos isn’t also as technical as the fighter who’s beaten Arce before. Again, I won’t be surprised if Santos smashed Arce with big shots but I think Arce will pick his spots and land the more telling blows in an exciting three-round affair.
Prediction: Julio Arce
Vinc Pichel has been fighting since 2009 and he was a contestant in The Ultimate Fighter: Live where he lost to Al Iaquinta after two rounds. The 39-year old from Lancaster, California joined the UFC in 2012 but lost his debut against Rustam Khabilov. Since then, Pichel has won seven out of his last eight bouts and is coming off a win over Austin Hubbard last August 2021.
He has a record of 14-2 with 8 knockouts. Pichel is 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Mark Madsen is a former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling and a five-time medalist at the wrestling World Championships. The 37-year old from Denmark fought at European MMA, Danish MMA, and Cage Warriors before joining the UFC in 2019. He’s fought just once per year and is 3-0 under the UFC.
Madsen has a record of 11-0 with three knockouts and three submission wins. He is an orthodox fighter who is 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches.
Madsen’s already 37 years old and judging from his last fight with Clay Guida, he’s still limited as far as offense is concerned. His stand-up is all about low kicks, single big punches, and a so-so jab. However, with Pichel being a poor defensive wrestler, Madsen has a chance at implementing his wrestling game here.
However, Pichel is good at getting back to his feet when taken down and Madsen doesn’t have the best scrambling skills or the gas tank to stay in top position for three rounds. I think Madsen takes the fight down in the opening round but Pichel survives. Pichel then takes over as Madsen starts to slow down. In the end, Pichel wins via decision with more volume and cleaner blows.
Prediction: Vinc Pichel
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