After a week off from the UFC we are back this weekend as Kelvin Gastelum and Jared Cannonier face off in the main event. In the co-main we have a fascinating wrestle off between Mark Madsen and Clay Guida. There is also plenty of fighters to watch on the undercard such as Ramiz Brahimaj and Brian Kelleher. My three best tips for this weekend’s card are down below.
Both these men come into this fight off losses to former Middleweight king Robert Whittaker and will be eager to bounce back into title contention with a statement win here. Due to Israel Adesanya wiping out a lot of the Middleweight contenders, it is viable that a big statement win here could put either man in line for a title shot if Whittaker is once again beaten by ‘The Last Stylebender’.
Cannonier won his first three middleweight bouts in the UFC in devastating fashion, finishing David Branch, Anderson Silva, and Jack Hermansson all by KO/TKO. Those wins gave him his fight with Whittaker which showed that good footwork and patience can halt Cannonier in his tracks. So while it could be argued ‘The Killa Gorilla’ is a bit one dimensional, he does hit incredibly hard and his gameplan against Whittaker played to the Australian’s strengths. Against Gastelum he will likely have a man willing to box him which spells big danger for Gastelum.
For mine Gastelum peaked when he beat Bisping, who stepped in on short notice. He then dispatched Jacare Souza, who has since fallen well off. Since those wins, he has lost four of his next five. Although Gastelum has a proven chin I personally believe he will be floored by Cannonier here. ‘The Killa Gorilla’ is too fast and too powerful for Gastelum. I think we will see a highly skilled and deadly Cannonier set foot into the Octagon this time out and I expect he comes back better than ever, which is a scary thought for the Middleweight division. I’m backing Cannonier to get the win with a dabble on him to secure the knockout.
Brian ‘Boom’ Kelleher has always been one of my favourite fighters to watch and back. He has an uncanny ability to land one on the button out of nowhere and from there it is all over. Last time out he lost to the talented Ricky Simon by decision but Dominingo Pilarte is a fair step down from that level. Kelleher has had issues with his takedown defense before but I believe while Pilarte’s grappling is strong he doesn’t have the wrestling to get it to the mat and secure top position. Pilarte also has very shaky striking defense, which is bad news against a man like Kelleher. Boom’s high pace and aggression should make this almightily uncomfortable for Pilarte. I expect Kelleher to shut out Pilarte’s lights before too long and bounce back into the winners list.
Ramiz Brahimaj joined the UFC from LFA. His Octagon debut in November 2020 didn’t go to plan, suffering gruesome ear damage in a technical knockout loss to Max Griffin. Brahimaj is 8-3 in his professional career, with all eight wins coming via submission. Palatnikov has done better than expected in the UFC but what remains true is he is still fairly limited with some solid top control. I expect Brahimaj to hold his own on the feet and completely smother Palatnikov on the mat. Brahimaj will likely wrap up Palatnikov’s neck early and put his foe to sleep.
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