UFC 221 Preview

THERE is a 97.6% chance that the only reason you are reading this is because you are a fan of UFC and mixed martial arts. Here’s some friendly advice UFC fans, you can miss this card. Making the trip all the way around the globe to Perth in Western Australia, 221 is a fantastic exhibition for my hometown, but it lacks the high profile names and talent to captivate the attention of casual MMA fans. This is the weekend to earn some brownie points with your partner and check the results on Twitter rather than watching via pay-per-view.

UFC Predictions: 32-23

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Light Heavyweight

#13 Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs. Saparbek Safarov (8-1)
PEDRO and Safarov both have a lot in common. They are relatively new to the UFC (four combined fights), they both suffered their first career loss in their last bout and they are poised to climb the light heavyweight rankings with a win.

BECOMING a regular on the main card is undoubtedly a goal for this pair and a win in Perth will boost their reputation and chances of staying in front of the bright lights. With a lack of genuine prospects in the division, it seems like this fight was scheduled for Pedro to gain some momentum in front of a home Australian crowd. No offense to Safarov, but his second UFC bout will also be his second pro loss.
VERDICT: PEDRO W

Welterweight

Jake ‘The Boston Kid’ Matthews (12-3) vs. Li ‘The Leech’ Jingliang (14-4)
THE recent rise of ‘The Leech’ has China believing that he can become a top-15 fighter in the welterweight division. After a blistering past 18 months, there’s a real possibility that Jingliang can fulfil that wish after four straight wins, three of them coming via KO.

MATTHEW’S is no easy beat and he will be looking to make his own claim for a bout against a ranked opponent. The better wrestler of the pair, if he can take the game to the ground he could find the advantage and grind out a win. The recent striking power that Jingliang has displayed makes him a dangerous opponent for Matthews and I’m putting my faith in the win streak reaching five straight for the Chinaman.
VERDICT: JINGLIANG W

UFC 221 Preview 1Image from mmamania.com

Heavyweight

Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa (8-0) vs. Cyril ‘Silverback’ Asker (9-3)
AUSTRALIA’S first Indigenous UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa is looking to keep his streak of wins alive in the third bout of the main card. Having a clear athletic advantage over his opponent, Cyril Asker, ‘Bam Bam’ (who is still just 24 years old) has the chance to make a real name for himself at 221.

HOWEVER, just because he is a big, powerful man, doesn’t mean that Asker is already down and out. As we saw at UFC 220 if a fighter becomes gassed early and doesn’t have his power at his disposal then it can get ugly quickly. It’s a risky fight for Asker, but this is definitely the blueprint for success as Tuivasa has never been in a fight that lasted more than one round. Even though he is a short favourite, I think ‘Bam Bam’ will come up short in this one.
VERDICT: ASKER W

Heavyweight

#5 Mark ‘Super Samoan’ Hunt (13-11-1, 1NC) vs. #9 Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes (8-1-0, 1NC)
A yo-yo past two years for Hunt have him poised in a tricky position. At 43 the wily vet is gunning for a late surge in his career. After halting Derrick Lewis last time out he faces a much tougher test on Sunday.

IT feels like this match is set up for Blaydes to advance into the upper echelon of heavyweights. In a division starving for contenders, Blaydes is on the fast track to a title shot with three straight wins (it would have been four if not for a positive marijuana test 12 months ago against Adam Milstead). As dangerous as Hunt is I don’t think he can stop Blaydes, who is eager to follow is Ngannou’s footsteps and climb the ranks.
VERDICT: BLAYDES W

UFC 221 Preview 2Image from mmamania.com

Interim Middleweight Title Fight

#1 Yoel ‘Soldier of God’ Romero (12-2) vs. #2 Luke Rockhold (16-3)
A pair of fighters who have been ranked in the top tier for years and yet they have never clashed with one another. The odds for the fight dictate how close the duo are and despite the lack of hype around the card as a whole, this fight could turn into an epic quickly. Given the history of both fighters, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rockhold or Romero finished this one in the first three rounds.

WITH the interim middleweight title on the line Rockhold is looking to claim the belt for the second time in his career, while Romero is after his first stay at the top of the food chain after falling short in his last fight against Robert Whittaker, who was meant to be fighting instead of Rockhold. The fan in me wants to see Romero win so that he and Whittaker can set up a match for the undisputed crown and I’m sticking with my guns and picking the ‘Soldier of God’ in the final fight of the night.
VERDICT: ROMERO W

Peace ✌

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