Two world titles will be on the line when the UFC heads to the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend for UFC 274.
In the main event, UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira takes on top contender Justin Gaethje for the lightweight gold while UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will defend her belt against former champion Carla Esparza in a rematch of the TUF 20 Finale main event. Also featured in the main card is a highly-anticipated firefight between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson.
A long-awaited rematch between Mauricio Rua and Ovince Saint Preux is also slated for the main card, as is a do-or-die match between Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon where the loser will likely lose his UFC spot.
But before the main card, an equally exciting and entertaining prelims undercard awaits fans. Let’s take a look at the key bouts and make our predictions.
Randy Brown is a former Ring of Combat welterweight champion. The 31-year-old from Springfield, Massachusetts joined the UFC in 2016 after two successful title defenses at ROC. Brown is 8-4 inside the UFC Octagon but has never won more than two straight bouts in the UFC. He heads to this contest coming off back-to-back wins over Alex Oliveira and Jared Gooden.
Brown has a record of 14-4 with six knockouts and five submission wins. He is 6-3 tall with a reach of 78 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Khaos Williams began his career fighting in several regional outfits in Michigan. The 28-year-old from Jackson in the Wolverine state won the Total Warrior Combat lightweight title in 2019. He joined the UFC in 2020 and is currently 4-1 inside the UFC Octagon and heads to his contest after consecutive victories against Matthew Semelsberger and Miguel Baeza.
Williams is 13-2 with seven knockouts and two submission victories. He is an orthodox fighter who stands six feet tall and has a reach of 77 inches.
Brown has grown into a decent striker over the years. He now has the composure to avoid Wiliams’ offensive onslaughts. He’s also displayed the ability to unload punches to match Williams’ output. He has also demonstrated the durability to withstand the big punches that Williams likes to throw.
There’s no doubt that Williams has the knockout power to end a punch in an instant, even when he is on shaky ground. So there is really no way of counting out Williams here. In fact, I won’t blame you if you pick the heavier hitter. But for me, I think Brown’s experience will enable him to avoid getting clipped in their exchanges. Give me Brown to potshot his way to victory here.
Prediction: Randy Brown
Macy Chiasson is the no. 11 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old from New Orleans, Louisiana was the TUF 28 women’s featherweight tournament winner. Chiasson is 4-2 inside the UFC Octagon with her losses coming against Lana Lansberg in her third UFC bout in 2019 and Raquel Pennington via submission in her most recent appearance at UFC Vegas 45 last December 18th.
Chiasson has a record of 7-2 with two knockouts and two submission victories. She is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 72 inches.
Norma Dumont is the no. 15 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 31-year-old from Belo Horizonte, Brazil started her career in her native land, fighting for promotions like Jungle Fight, Federacao Fight, and Shooto Brazil. She joined the UFC in 2020 and after losing her debut against Megan Anderson, she’s won three in a row against Ashlee Evans-Smith, Felicia Spencer, and Aspen Ladd.
Dumont is 7-1 with two submission victories. She is an orthodox fighter who is 5-7 tall and has a reach of 67 inches.
Chiasson owns several advantages in this match-up. She has the better stopping power, a more diversified stand-up game, and a superior ground game. However, Dumont may have the skills that are needed to take advantage of Chiasson’s weaknesses.
Dumont has the disciplined boxing to expose Chiasson’s porous striking defense. Given her striking skillset, Dumont can win by fighting off her jab and keeping herself from harm’s way. Of course, there is the possibility that Dumont gets lured to a brawl which most certainly Chiasson would win. But given their previous bouts, Dumont will avoid getting into a firefight and will paw her way to victory here.
Prediction: Norma Dumont
Brandon Royval is a former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. The 29-year-old from Denver, Colorado is the no. 6 ranked flyweight in the UFC. He joined the UFC in 2020 and had a rousing start with back-to-back Fight of the Night submission wins against Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France. He lost his next two fights against Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja but bounced back in his last bout to beat Rogerio Bontorin at UFC Vegas 46 last January 22.
Royval is a southpaw who is 5-9 tall and has a reach of 68 inches. His record stands at 13-6 with three knockouts and eight submission victories.
Matt Schnell is the no. 9 ranked flyweight in the UFC and is also a former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. The 32-year-old from Armory, Mississippi was a competitor at the TUF: Tournament of Champions where he lost to Tim Elliott in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, Schnell earned a UFC contract. After starting his Octagon career with back-to-back KO losses, Schnell is 4-1 with one no-contest in his last six bouts. The no-contest was a loss to Rogerio Bontorin in Schnell’s last bout which was overturned after Bontorin failed a drug test.
Schnell is 15-5 with two knockouts and eight submission victories. He is 5-8 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
This marks Schnell’s first bout in almost a year after three bookings against Alex Perez fell through. Meanwhile, Royval has fought four times during that stretch and although he went just 2-2 during that stretch, Royval fought as recently as last January so there’s no doubt he’s in good shape.
Plus, Royval could bring Schnell problems. First,Royval’s struggles have come against powerful takedown artists, which Schnell is not. Royval also has a very good scrambling game, which negates Schnell’s usual edge over his opponents. Royval also has the submission offense and defense to avoid getting compromised on the mat. More significantly, Royval has the striking technique to take advantage of Schnell’s notoriously shaky chin. Without the wrestling prowess to keep Royval on the mat, Schnell is getting caught here.
Prediction: Brandon Royval
Marcos Rogerio de Lima is a veteran who has appeared for promotions like Inka FC, Fai Fight, Max Sport, Strikeforce, and Shooto before joining the UFC in 2014. He was a competitor in The Ultimate Fighter 3: Brazil where he defeated Thiago Santos and lost to Antonio Carlos Junior in the semifinals. De Lima won his first two bouts then alternated between a loss and win until 2020. He went 2-0 last year with wins over Maurice Greene and Ben Rothwell.
De Lima is 19-7 with 14 knockouts and two submission victories. He is an orthodox fighter who is 6-1 tall with a reach of 75 inches.
Blagoy Ivanov is the no. 15 ranked heavyweight in the UFC. The 35-year-old from Bulgaria was a former WSOF heavyweight champion and 2008 Combat Sambo World Champion. Ivanov was also the Bellator Season 10 Heavyweight Tournament runner-up and a one-time PFL Heavyweight champion. He joined the UFC in 2018 and started his Octagon career with a 2-1 mark before losing his last two bouts against Derrick Lewis and Augusto Sakai, both via split decision.
Ivanov has a record of 18-4 with six knockouts and six submission victories. He is a southpaw who stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 73 inches.
De Lima may be older and bigger now but he’s still the same powerful puncher who has good offensive wrestling. However, is still also the same defenseless fighter when he is put on his back, which will be a big problem against Ivanov who has a grinding top game. I think that de Lima’s best shot at winning this is knocking out Ivanov early in the fight. I think that’s not likely though because Ivanov has never been stopped, nor even dropped in any MMA fight.
What’s likely is that Ivanov’s durability survives the early onslaught. Once he gets hold of de Lima, he’s taking the fight down where he will do his usual work from the top position. Either Ivanov pounds him out with massive punches or he catches de Lima in a submission hold and forces him to tap.
Prediction: Blagoy Ivanov
Francisco Trinaldo is a former Jungle Fight lightweight champion who also competed in The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. The 43-year-old Brazilian joined the UFC in 2012 and opened his UFC career with an 11-3 record. Trinaldo went 2-3 from 2017 to 2018 but has won four out of his last five bouts and is coming off a split decision win against Davey Grant.
He is 27-8 with 9 knockouts and five submission wins. Trinaldo is a southpaw who is 5-9 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Danny Roberts is a veteran who began his career in England while fighting for promotions like OMMAC, UCC, Cage Conflict, and Cage Warriors FC. He joined the UFC in 2015 and opened his UFC career with a 5-2 mark before losing back-to-back bouts against Claudio Silva and Michel Pereira. Roberts has bounced back and has won his last two bouts against Zelim Imadaev and Ramazan Emeev.
Roberts has a record of 18-5 with 8 knockouts and five submission victories. He is a southpaw who stands 6-1 tall with a reach of 74 inches.
Trinaldo is definitely way up there in terms of age but I like his chances in this fight. First, he has that grinding approach that Ramazan Emeev utilized to keep up with Roberts. And Trinaldo is more aggressive and persistent than the Russian. Roberts likes to unleash a striking barrage here and there but that’s not as reliable as Trinaldo’s pressure-heavy attack which should earn him the points from the judges.
There is always a chance that Father Time takes away everything from Trinaldo in this fight. That time is coming and could be anytime now given his age. Despite that risk, I think that Roberts’ poor takedown defense will give Trinaldo an option to grind it out on the mat if his old legs can’t keep up in the standup. I think the old man lives to fight another day.
Prediction: Francisco Trinaldo
Tracy Cortez began her fighting career at Invicta FC, World Fighting Federation, V3 Fights, and Combate Americas. The 28-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona earned her UFC spot by defeating the highly-touted Mariya Agapova at the Contender Series 22 in 2019. Cortez is 3-0 in the UFC with decision wins against Vanessa Melo, Stephanie Egger, and Justin Kish.
Cortez is 9-1 with one knockout and one submission victory. She is 5-5 tall with a reach of 65 inches.
Melissa Gatto is a veteran of the Brazilian circuits, having fought for organizations like Spartacus Academy, Pantanal Fight Champions, Spartacus Academy, and Nacao Cyborg before joining the UFC in 2021. Gatto is 2-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Victoria Leonardo and the veteran Sijara Eubanks. Both wins were by knockout.
Gatto has a record of 8-0 with two knockouts and four submission wins. She is 5-5 tall with a reach of 69 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Gatto is unbeaten but she is also untested at this level. Having said that, this is a very winnable fight for Cortez for as long as she doesn’t have weight cut issues. Her grinding style should make up for her disadvantage in reach and striking. However, Cortez has to be careful because Gatto is a legitimate threat if Cortez tries to take this fight down.
I think Cortez fights a disciplined game plan here and while there will be risks in fighting Gatto on the mat, she will be smart enough to avoid getting caught. Cortez plays the top game and racks up just enough control time to pick up the win on points.
Prediction: Tracy Cortez
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