UFC Fight Night – Blaydes vs Lewis Preview
A stacked UFC fight night sees two top heavyweight contenders fight for the chance to get a shot at the heavyweight title in their next fight. The main card also features veteran heavyweights including Andrei Arlovski and Aleksei Oleinik taking on newcomers in the division. This preview will look at the main card, breaking down each fight along with my opinion on who I think will win.
Andre Arlovski vs. Tom Aspinall: The main card begins with veteran and former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski taking on the promising English newcomer Aspinall. With a 15-year age gap between the two, Arlovski no doubt has more experience as a fighter and he will need to use all of that experience to null the power threat of Aspinall who has finished 8 of his 9 wins by knockout in the first round. The longer that this fight goes the more it will favour Arlovski, if he can get past the early onslaught and drag the fight into the second and third round then I can only see the outcome being in favour of Arlovski.
My prediction: Arlovski by DEC
Phillip Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov: Two middleweights in good form with identical 9-2 records look set to contest an entertaining matchup. These fighters have a difference in styles with Hawes, a power puncher, finishing 7 of his 9 wins by knockout whereas Imavov can mix up his technique, shown by his variety of finishes (3 knockouts, 4 submissions and 2 decisions). Hawes will look to start fast as he has done in his previous 2 UFC bouts which lasted under 2 minutes in total. If Imavov can avoid being hit early and take Hawes down and tire him on the ground he can win this fight.
My prediction: Hawes by KO
Aleksei Oleinik vs. Chris Daukaus: The second heavyweight bout of the night sees another veteran vs newcomer scenario with Oleinik making his fourteenth walk to the octogen vs Daukaus’ second. This also sees a heavy clash of styles with Oleinik winning 46 of his 59 wins by submission, showing just how long he has been a mixed martial artists, whereas Daukaus is a heavy hitter looking for his tenth knockout win in his fourteenth fight. I think that Oleinik’s experience and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skillset will be too much for Daukaus as I expect he will look for an early takedown to wear his opponent down and look for another submission win.
My prediction: Oleinik by SUB
Charles Rosa vs. Darrick Minner: A potential fight of the night is up next with two experts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Rosa is more well-rounded and has good striking as well as ground game whereas Minner is very grappling heavy and will look for the takedown. I expect that Rosa will be able to hold his own on the ground more than Minner’s other opponents have done but he will want to keep this fight standing up as much as possible as 22 of 25 wins for Minner have come via submission. This is an interesting fight as it looks very even on paper and if they cancel out each other’s grappling skills then we could be in line for a brawl. If this happens then I would favour Rosa as he is much more experienced in this area, landing on average 3.21 significant strikes per minute in his UFC career compared to Minner’s 0.6.
My prediction: Rosa by DEC
Ketlen Vierira vs. Yana Kunitskaya: Two ranked women bantamweights feature in the co-main event which is my second pick for potential fight of the night. Both of these fighters will be looking to break into the top 5 of the division with a win in this fight. I can see the fight going the distance due to the recent form of both of these fighters as well as their average fight times being over 10 minutes. Kunitskaya averages over 5 significant strikes per minute compared to Vierira’s under 3 showing that Kunitskaya is a volume fighter and will look to wear her opponent down with strikes and then look for the takedown. Vieria will need to keep Kunitskaya at distance and limit her striking. If she can control the stand-up and keep the fight at her pace she will have more of a chance of winning.
My prediction: Kunitskaya by DEC
Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis: The main event brings together the #2 and #4 ranked heavyweights with the winner likely to go into a title fight in their next bout. This is another fight that brings together a clash of styles with Lewis very much a “stand-and-trade” type of fighter who will throw big punches early and look for the knockout. Blaydes on the other hand, an All-American wrestler will be looking for takedowns to try and finish the fight on the floor with ground and pound. If Blaydes can instill his game plan early and take Lewis down and wear him out then this fight will only go one way, there is no benefit for Blaydes to stand and trade punches with Lewis so the longer this fight goes on the more it favours Blaydes. The key for Lewis to winning this fight is to land an early power shot on Blaydes so he is more cautious of closing the distance and looking for a takedown. Lewis has shown that he can go long distances and grind out wins in the later rounds so I think this fight may be closer than the odds suggest.
My prediction: Blaydes by DEC