Two Middleweight prospects headline this week’s Fight Night card as Derek Brunson and Darren Till square off in the UFC Apex Center Octagon. The card is full of Cage Fury champions and English prospects as Paddy the Baddy Pimblett makes his UFC debut, Molly McCann faces Ji Yeon Kim and Tom Aspinall meets Sergey Spivac. We also get to see a fighter who I have an incredibly high opinion of in Jack Shore, who will look to improve to a perfect 15-0 when he meets Liudvik Sholinian. My best bets on the card are below.
I am very confident that Darren Till leaves victorious from this fight. Till hasn't fought in more than a year, but his last loss was in a great scrap against former champion Robert Whittaker. Till has gone up favourite in early markers and rightly so but I believe he should be much shorter than he currently is. Brunson may be on a four-fight win streak but beating Holland on the ground is not a hard task, nor is beating Ian Heinsch or Martin Day. He did expose Edmen Shahbazyan’s defensive lacks but Shahbazyan has gone onto lose again since and has clear cardio issues.
Darren Till on the other hand has faced the absolute elite of the division. In his last five fights he has met, Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley (back when he was champion) and Stephen Thompson. While Brunson is a top wrestler, Till is a strong, lanky fighter who has solid defensive wrestling and the striking to back Brunson up and hurt him repeatedly on the feet. Even clinching up would be ill advised for Brunson as Till’s Muay Thai can be devastating in the clinch and on the break. Holland was able to expose Brunson’s defensive holes in his striking in the rare striking exchanges in their last fight, which bodes poorly against an even more devastating power puncher in Till. I am expecting Till to put on a clinic against Brunson and get the knockout finish.
As mentioned in my intro I am a massive Jack Shore fan. The former Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion had secured five straight finishes before meeting Hunter Azure in his last fight. In that fight Shore narrowly took the win by split decision and I think that fight was the wakeup call he needed and it showed Shore’s mental strength. Sholinian, who was recently on The Ultimate Fighter, steps into this fight on short notice as Shore’s third opponent change and he is by far the easiest opponent for the hot prospect. Quite frankly Shore is better everywhere and by a large margin. Shore gets the finish in whatever form he chooses but I do expect Sholinian to hang in there for a round or two.
In every way this fight looks to play into the hands of Charles Jourdain. Firstly, Erosa steps into this fight as a late notice replacement for Lerone Murphy. Secondly, Erosa repeatedly just seems to not use his reach and instead go head first into opponent’s counters. He truly is an entertaining watch and is always in a fight as long as it goes, which was evident in his underdog win against Sean Woodson. However, Jourdain has serious punching power, patience and a quality gas tank. Erosa doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes and he will likely repeatedly run into Jourdian’s straight right and check hook all night long until his lights are shut out.
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