The fabled rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker is finally here. UFC 271 brings with it a whole host of amazing fights, the card is dripping with name value and fights that, on paper, should deliver.
These are my predictions for UFC 271 Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 – Early Prelims
Jeremiah Wells vs Mike Mathetha
This is an intriguing fight. Jeremiah Wells is a powerhouse, he wings his punches from the hips and hopes for the best, and it’s been working! I last watched Wells when he knocked Warley Alves stiff in his UFC debut. Wells welcomes City Kickboxing protégé Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Mathetha. Mathetha is a training partner of Adesanya, Hooker, and Riddell, amongst other City Kickboxing fighters, which means he comes from a great training background.
Wells holds an experience advantage over Mathetha, with four times the amount of fights to his name. Being a training partner of Adesanya, you’d think Mathetha has elite striking, but his kickboxing footage shows that he’s incredibly hittable and lacks composure. And as City Kickboxing fighters go, not all of them see success (see: Carlos Ulberg), so I give Wells the advantage in this matchup.
My pick – Jeremiah Wells by KO/TKO
Douglas Silva De Andrade vs Sergey Morozov
Another good fight, Douglas Silva De Andrade is always fun to watch, the man has dynamite in his fists and has a whopping 20 knockouts in his 27 victories. In his last fight, Andrade was throwing heat, he’s a really engaging and I’m looking forward to this fight! His opponent, Sergey Morozov is coming into his third fight in the UFC and currently stands 1-1 in the promotion, with that one loss coming to Umar Nurmagomedov.
Since losing to Josh Rettinghouse in 2016, Morozov has gone 8-2, with those losses coming to Movsar Evloev and the aforementioned Nurmagomedov. These two losses are nothing to be ashamed about. However, in this matchup, i favour Andrade as an opponent with a considerable striking advantage and a well-rounded ground game.
My pick – Andrade by KO/TKO
A.J Dobson vs Jacob Malkoun
A.J Dobson is a hot prospect with an undefeated record, varied wins, and a considerable amateur career. Dobson hasn’t tasted defeat in his entire MMA career and he’s tall for a middleweight, standing at 6’2. Dobson is a Dana White’s Contender Series alumni, so he’s probably the ‘A-side’ in this matchup and is being fed Malkoun.
Jacob Malkoun is unfortunately most well known for getting smashed by Phil Hawe in 18 seconds at UFC 254, but he’s since secured a decent win over the lethal Abdul Razak Alhassan.
I could be wrong but this seems like it has all the qualities of a gimme fight for Dobson. I think he should win it handily as is expected from him.
My pick – Dobson by UD
Carlos Ulberg vs Fabio Cherant
Carlos Ulberg makes his return from that devastating loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu last March. All things considered, Ulberg was putting it on Kennedy in that fight, it’s just that Kennedy has superhuman endurance and an uncanny ability to turn fights around on a dime. Ulberg favoured long strikes and a front kick up the middle with little success, he didn’t seem to have a lot of strategy. Perhaps he bought into his own hype, maybe he comes into this fight with a better game plan.
Ex LFA Light-Heavyweight champion Fabio Cherant might not look intimidating on paper, but it’s a tough matchup for Ulberg indeed. I actually think this is a step up in competition from Kennedy. Cherant is a submission artist with a record of 7-3, those three losses coming to William Knight, Alonzo Menifield and Aleksa Camur, who are all absolute units with devastating power and deceptively high skill ceilings.
One area of the fight that Cherant may struggle is the striking, he stands a full three inches shorter than Ulberg, which means the Aussie can utilise his full 6’4 frame. I expect to see Ulberg picking at Cherant from a distance, this is where he will have the most success. If Cherant can manage to take the fight to the floor, this is where I anticipate Ulberg’s inexperience will shine through.
It’s a risky pick, because he could be finished on the feet, but I take Fabio Cherant by either SUB or UD. As the physically stronger, and more experienced fighter, who is also a former champ in LFA, I have Cherant with the edge.
My pick – Cherant by UD
Alexander Hernandez vs Renato Miocano
This fight is going under a lot of fan radars. I’m not seeing a lot of talk about this fight which could easily sit on the main card. Both Moicano and Hernandez are alternating wins and losses in their last four bouts respectively, so it’s up to one of these fighters to break that streak.
Renato Moicano is most well known for his submission prowess, but his striking is severely underrated. Moicano has a crisp, fast jab that takes a lot of fighters off guard, and he can hold his own on the feet against most opposition. I think he’s going to stick this jab in the face of Alexander Hernandez, which will cause frustration and maybe draw out some takedown attempts.
Hernandez has built a lot of his wins off of relentless aggression, recently knocking out Mike Breeden against the fence last October. After being humbled by Donald Cerrone in 2019, Hernandez looked like he’d fixed his trajectory, but he’s been alternating wins and losses ever since. This is his chance to break the streak and prove he’s still a top contender.
Moicano is a true test, and he’s only ever lost to the top dogs in the UFC. I think this matchup is dicey, either Hernandez quickly finishes Moicano on the feet, or he gets grappled by Moicano and loses via UD if not SUB. I believe the latter is more likely.
What I don’t want to see is Moicano’s hubris getting in the way like it did against Fiziev. Don’t stand with the superior striker, grapple you fool! Hopefully he’s fixed this flaw.
My pick – Moicano by UD/SUB
Leomana Martinez vs Ronnie Lawrence
Topping the early prelims is a fight between two rising fighters, each with a penchant for knockouts. Leomana Martinez is a very young fighter at 25, with a staggering 89% knockout rate in his 9 professional victories. Martinez also has a fairly deep amateur record with more knockouts and a surprising amount of submissions, all by armbar (perhaps this is a weapon we will see this Saturday?).
Ronnie Lawrence is another DWCS alumni turned UFC pro, who has managed to make success in the UFC. This will be both Martinez’ and Lawrence’s second UFC fight each. Both men have fought in LFA and Bellator, with Martinez dominating the Fury FC scene before debuting in the UFC.
It’s a hard fight to call, but I have Martinez with the advantage, and he’s why. Martinez is the stronger man, which I credit to his knockout ratio, he also stands two inches taller than Lawrence, so he should have the freedom of range against the shorter opponent. This means he’ll be able to leverage that range and utilise that power a bit more. Also, being the taller fighter, Martinez will have an innate advantage on the ground, neither of these men have won by submission in the pro career, but with Martinez’ armbars in his amateur tenure, I’d give him the advantage here.
My pick – Martinez by finish
Thank you for reading, feel free to comment below!
Mathew is a UK-based combat sports journalist. He currently works for MMA Knockout, part of the Sports Illustrated FanNation network. The Fight Fanatic is Mathew’s one-man operation. His past bylines include Heavy on UFC, Sportskeeda, and MMA UK.
Contact Mathew via Twitter or through [email protected]