UFC Fight Night – Walker vs Hill is full of fighters I honestly haven’t seen before. It’s nice to discover these fighters and build a good understanding of their style. It helps when I tune in on fight night too, every single matchup is interesting now that I’ve done some research on these guys. I feel like one of the few people who tune in at the very first fight and try to stay until the very end. It’s probably why I rarely make it to the main events (UK time).
Anyhow, onto the predictions!
Mario Bautista vs Jay Perrin
DWCS alumni Jay Perrin gets a second chance in the UFC limelight as he replaces a Kid Taha in a late notice fight. Without a doubt he has his hands full with Mario Bautista, who is a reasonably experienced and well rounded fighter. Bautista has fought, beat, and lost to some top competition, including a win over Miles Johns, and a loss to Cory Sandhagen.
Bautista is a very bouncy fighter, who likes to cut angles. He threw countless feints against Johns before finally committing to one big movement and securing that career defining knockout.
Jay Perrin has solid Muay Thai and a decent ground game. From the footage I’ve seen of Perrin, he seems quite hittable, and gasses easily. He doesn’t have the most dominant striking or grappling, and I give the edge to Bautista in both of these departments. What doesn’t help also, is the disparity in length, whilst both men stand at 5’9, Bautista is noticeably lankier, which lends itself to his distance based striking. The safest choice in this matchup is Bautista to go the distance.
My pick – Bautista by UD
Jonathan Pearce vs Christian Rodriguez
Here we have two strikers who seem to specialize in counter striking. It’s an interesting matchup because both Jonathan Pearce and Christian Rodriguez possess great patience, and good killer instinct. However, Pearce not only has more professional experience, he also has plenty more knockouts than Rodriguez.
I think Rodriguez will struggle to impose his game plan in this matchup, as he stands a full four inches shorter than Pearce. This means Pearce can strike from the outside, and punish the smaller fighter with effective counters. Not only this, but Rodriguez tends to fade and get slower as time progresses and opens himself to counters, Pearce could be the first fighter to really capitalize on this weakness.
In his last major UFC appearance, Rodriguez found himself with his back taken, and he escaped with some pretty wildcard maneuvers. This is something I don’t think he will get away with, as Pearce has also shown good grappling control, and that extra length can mean everything.
My pick – Pearce by KO/TKO
Chad Anheliger vs Jesse Strader
Another striking matchup, it’s rare to see bantamweights with so many knockouts. Chad Anheliger looks like a really promising prospect. Anheliger is technically sound, and has fantastic grappling defense. He demonstrated this perfectly in his DWCS fight against Muin Gafurov where he fought off the Eastern European’s back mount for a large portion of the fight. Anheliger then went on to drop Gafurov with a well timed knee, and later won the decision.
Jesse Strader is more of a brawler, keeping his hands low and winging his punches in quick combinations. He tends to outwork his opponents, but the aforementioned hand dropping could be his downfall in this fight. Like I mentioned, Anheliger is very technically proficient, he’ll take full advantage of every possible weakness that Strader comes in with. He also has the cardio to outpace and outperform Strader.
My pick – Strader by UD
Diana Belbita vs Gloria de Paula
Diana Belbita has an impressive 20 fights in her pro career at only 25 years of age. She’s had a rough run in the UFC so far, with a 1-2 record coming into this fight. If you look at her losses, one was to the tenacious Molly McCann, and the other was to armbar wizard Liana Jojua. She’s since won a unanimous decision over big name Hannah Goldy. Gloria de Paula is a large step down in competition for Belbita, but does she have what it takes?
Gloria is the shorter fighter here by 2 inches, which gives Belbita the advantage on the feet, and an edge in the grappling. Belbita showed great strength in the clinch and grappling exchanges with the jacked Hannah Goldy in their last fight. Whereas, Gloria showed holes in the clinch and grappling department against a worse fighter in Jinh Yu Frey. I know MMA Math doesn’t always work, but I can’t help but think Belbita has all the tools to win this fight.
My pick – Belbita by UD
Mark Striegl vs Chas Skelly
This is a weird fight, both men are 18-3-0(1NC), Mark Striegl hasn’t fought since 2019 and Chas Skelly hasn’t fought since 2020. Both men are also submission aces, with 24 submission victories between them. I give Skelly the advantage in experience, having fought the likes of Jason Knight, Darren Elkins and Daniel Pineda.
Watching tape of Skelly, it’s easy to see that he’s an incredible influence on the ground. He almost caught Jason Knight in some great submissions, and proved dangerous wherever the fight went. He also has the additional value of having knocked 3 opponents out, and has never been submitted in his pro career. This is unlike Mark Striegl, who has 0 KO/TKO victories, and has been submitted twice in his 3 losses. So what does this say about Mark Striegl?
Striegl’s last fight, which was his third loss, to Said Nurmagomedov, ended seconds into the first round. This was due to some very lazy striking that he got punished for, hard. Striegl does have an exceptionally good guillotine, which he can execute in standing, and he also has a penchant for scarf hold armbars, which look really fucking cool.
It’s a bit of a mirror match, and quite hard to call. Both fighters are extremely exciting, we’re due some fireworks come Saturday night. I’m going to flip a coin and say that Skelly wins a decision based on the fact he’s fought and beaten tougher opposition. Both fighters are coming from a long layoff and it could go any way, we might even see a striking masterclass for all we know, so it’s not a surefire prediction.
My pick – Skelly by UD
Jessica Rose-Clark vs Stephanie Egger
I think Jessica Rose-Clark is really coming into her own as a fighter. This unfortunately culminated in a boring, albeit dominant wrestling performance against Joselyne Edwards last October. ‘Jessy Jess’ has the striking credentials to put it on just about anybody, heck see her performance against Sarah Alpar where she basically mauled the poor woman. The only glaring flaw I see is the desire to wrestle for 15 minutes without throwing any strikes when she finds out her opponent is faster and better at striking than she is. Will she see this against Stephanie Egger in this fight?
Stephanie Egger is lanky for her weight class, standing a full 5’7. She’ll no doubt have the reach advantage over Jessica, and will be looking to pump her jab in Jessica’s face whenever she gets the opportunity. What I do see with Egger is a tendency to back up to the fence when pressured, and stay there. This is something that Jessica will capitalize on, most likely with a well timed takedown. What will ensue is minutes of control time and possibly a grounded TKO. That’s how I see this fight going.
My pick – Jessica Rose-Clark by UD
Gabriel Benitez vs David Onama
Gabriel Benitez is a tough S.O.B. He’s coming off of a loss to Billy Quarantillo last July, in which he demonstrated tremendous durability and heart. Benitez has been around the block, having fought killers like Jason Knight, Andre Fili, and Sodiq Yusuf. He’s been in the UFC since 2015 and is still yet to make a stride, whenever he faces one of these big names they derail his progress.
Benitez is primarily a striker, although he does have good grappling defense, which is displayed time and time again against Quarantillo. He does drop his hands a lot when he strikes however, and I think he always throws one too many, which leaves him wide open for a counter shop. It just depends on whether his new opponent David Onama can take advantage of this.
David Onama is a knockout artist, and this will be his second chance to prove himself in the octagon after a decision loss to Mason Jones last October. Onama likes to stalk his opponents, similar to how Impa Kasanganay sort of crouches and applies forward pressure with a relatively high guard. It’s hard to catch Onama by surprise as he’s rather stiff, but it works in his advantage when he doesn’t bite on feints and opponents rushing in.
Onama’s striking is quick and efficient, but most of all, it’s strong. With 63% of his wins coming by way of knockout, Onama has what it takes to cause an upset here. I’m choosing the underdog David Onama to take this fight.
My pick – Onama by KO/TKO
Thank you for reading! What are your predictions? Drop them in the comments 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.
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