The UFC have handed us with possibly what will be the most stacked card of the year for the second pay-per-view of 2021. We have a bevy of action with three titles on the line. Israel Adesanya moves up in weight against fellow champion Jan Blachowicz in the main event, while in the co-main the deadly Amanda Nunes faces off against Megan Anderson. For our third title fight, Aljamain Sterling looks to take the belt from Russian powerhouse Petr Yan.
We also have Thiago Santos returning against Aleksandar Rakic and the exciting Islam Makhachev on the main card. The likes of Dominick Cruz, Joseph Benavidez, Kai Kara-France, Askar Askarov and Sean Brady are on the prelims and early prelims making it an incredible event from top to bottom. So grab some drinks and snacks and enjoy what is an insane card from 10am Sunday morning. We take a look at the three title fights and one on the prelims that I have marked as a future champion.
This is a highly anticipated bout and without a doubt Adesanya’s toughest test to date. Adesanya has continued to look better each time he steps foot in the Octagon but he faces a heavier opponent with raw Polish power here. Blachowicz win over Dominick Reyes was incredibly impressive, clearly winning the fight before ending the fight with a fantastic punch. He will look to cement himself as champion material here and he will only need to land one clean shot on Adesanya’s chin to end the fight, but that will be easier said than done. If Adesanya sticks and moves he will win this fight on points or by landing the knockout blow on his Polish foe in the championship rounds.
If Blachowicz blitzes Adesanya early he could land the blow to end the fight but that does come with plenty of counter strike risk. I have flip flopped on this fight a fair bit but I have landed with Adesanya winning it in the Championship rounds or by decision. His footwork and movement is immense and Blachowicz, although having the power X Factor, has never faced anyone of Adesanya’s pedigree. The almost $3 on offer is the best way to attack this fight. Adesanya gets the win and hopefully down the track faces Jon Jones in what would be for mine the greatest MMA bout of all time.
On the surface Anderson looks like another lamb being handed to Nunes for slaughter and when you dig deeper that is still exactly what it looks like. This will be Nunes’ second Women’s Featherweight title defense since capturing the title with a 51-second knockout of Cris Cyborg before defending it last June in a dominant win against Felicia Spencer. There isn’t much to say about Nunes that isn’t already known, she is a sharp boxer with good wrestling and jiu jitsu, she is as complete a fighter as it gets. She hasn’t looked too troubled in any of her title fights.
Anderson is incredibly strong and tall which is what makes her 53% takedown defense surprisingly poor. In a slug fest on the feet she usually comes off best but won’t against Nunes. She is also badly outclassed on the mat where she has been controlled over 80% of the time by far weaker grapplers than Nunes. To put into perspective, she was submitted and dominated in the first round by Felicia Spencer back in 2019 before Nunes battered her for five rounds on the feet and the ground. I want to make a case for Anderson but I really can’t. However I look at it Nunes demolishes her counterpart adding another finish to her record well before the championship rounds. Nunes by submission is worth a dabble as well with her distinct advantage on the ground.
Petr Yan claimed the vacant title impressively when disposing of Jose Aldo but meets the man that always should have been his challenger here. Yan is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC and an impressive 15-1 in his professional career. He has some strong wrestling to go with his top-level boxing skills. Yan originally trained as a boxer who has since transitioned into MMA and his power and boxing skills have proved too much for all opponents in the UFC so far. Since copping a brutal head kick loss to Marlon Moraes, Sterling has shown why he should be in line for a title fight going on an impressive streak himself.
These two are so well matched it really could go either way, but I do believe Sterling will be able to take him down and submit him. Sterling is a product of Matt Serra and apart from enjoying hearing him in the corner shouting encouragement, Serra knows what it takes to earn UFC gold. Yan at times overcommits to his punches and this has caused him to be countered in the past. Against Sterling who has a distinct reach advantage I can see this being a big problem for Yan. When Yan overcommits he is there to be countered by hooks or headkicks, both of which Sterling excels at. He also will be able to evade Yan’s lunges and use it to secure double underhooks and takedowns, taking this into his world on the mat. Therefore, I have to lean towards sterling to get the win, likely by submission.
I am going to start this preview out by saying Jake Matthews is one I have followed closely for a long time, largely due to him being a young prospect from Australia. He has won six from his past seven since moving to Welterweight and has seven professional submission finishes on his record. At only 26 there is plenty of time for him to continue to develop but his opponent, Sean Brady, for mine is a future champion. Sean Brady is a black belt in jiu jitsu under Daniel Gracie with an undefeated 13-0 professional record.
Brady I have marked as a future champion since his UFC debut and he has only looked increasingly impressive since. Brady is only 28 but has incredible fight IQ with powerful double leg takedowns and has geared his jiu jitsu game perfectly to MMA. Brady loves a check hook and switches stances effortlessly. Add to that he has some of the best front chokes you will see ever in the Octagon and he is a problem for the elite in the division. Brady is one to watch and one I believe will be a champion in the near future as he continues to evolve and improve his game. This will be a rough night for Matthews who will only come off second best in his own world on the ground and get picked apart on the feet.
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