The UFC Welterweight’s forgotten man, Leon Edwards, finally steps back into the Octagon this weekend against Belal Muhammad, who is on a rampage through the division. Muhammad steps in as a replacement for Khamzat Chimaev who had to withdraw as a result of COVID-19 complications. The UFC Apex Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada once again is home to a Fight Night card in which we also see the return of Dan Ige and Misha Cirkunov. With so many options this week we will provide two individual main card tips and a prelim multi to quench your thirst.
This is Edwards first appearance since the 20th July 2019 due to multiple fights falling through as well as the ongoing travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic. Belal Muhammad has improved rapidly lately as he has continued to evolve his boxing skillset to match his impressive wrestling. However, Leon Edwards is a talent and it is hard to see Muhammad being able to control Edwards over five rounds as Edwards has shown he can match it with top wrestlers in the division such as Gunner Nelson. Edwards has not lost in the UFC since losing a decision in 2015 to Kamaru Usman. While I still don’t see Edwards winning a title, he is still a clear top five and probably top three Welterweight. While Edwards may still be taken down in this fight, he has the defensive wrestling and scrambling ability to get up if that does occur. While I would lean towards Edwards here, the price on offer is honestly scarily low. Muhammad will push forward and while likely to be out struck on the feet won’t be completely dominated and he is likely to take a round or even two off Edwards. With no faith in the judges scoring after past weeks I will be too nervous to have my money on Edwards by decision so instead I will go with the safer option of the fight going the distance.
Ryan Spann is such a frustrating fighter as he has so little fight sense and constantly sees red in the Octagon when he even semi hurts his opponents. That was on perfect display when getting knocked out by Johnny Walker in his last fight. Misha Cirkunov also was knocked out by Johnny Walker back in 2019 and has a habit of being caught in the first round of fights. He has been knocked out in three of his last five fights in the first round. On paper Spann therefore is a statistically good option to score the round 1 KO at $6. So while I do suggest that as a ‘value’ play, my main play will be Cirkunov by submission and this is why. While a look at Spann’s record sees he has won 11 of his 18 fights by submission, that is largely due to his opposition being below average grapplers. Spann is likely to be too willing to go to ground with Cirkunov, who has the best grappling he has ever faced, and his takedown defense has never held up well. Cirkunov drags this to the mat repeatedly and if he isn’t stopped in the opening minutes, he will eventually secure a submission win in the second or third.
Gloria de Paula should overwhelm Frey with her output on the feet and Frey’s wrestling has looked near non-existent since her UFC debut so de Paula should comfortably win this. Martinez is looking like a world beater of late and faces Grant who is nothing special on the feet. Expert Martinez to finish him late after dominating the fight. Jourdain also looks a safe inclusion against Rojo who is moving up in weight after a long layoff and Jourdain should prove way too much for him. The final selection is Rani Yahya who will come out firing and dominate the first two rounds easily with multiple takedowns. If he hasn’t finished Rodriguez by then he should hang on late to win on the judges’ scorecards but I do expect him to get a round 1 submission finish.
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