Saturday night, Sunday morning UK time, will see Tyron Woodley defend his UFC welterweight title against Darren Till. For my prediction of that headline bout click here. The following is my analysis of the undercard’s stand-out bouts.

  • John Dodson defeats Jimmie Rivera via split decision

Although neither man are close to a title shot, this is a high profile and potentially entertaining bantamweight bout. It is true that Dodson is more accustomed to fighting at the highest level. His fight IQ may be a big factor. 

However, Rivera is the fresher, possibly hungrier fighter. Rivera will be highly motivated to get back in the win column after being knocked out by Marlon Moraes in June. That was only his second loss in his career. Both men are high level strikers so this could be a real chess match. I forsee Rivera out-pointing Dodson but it should be close.

  • Tatiana Suarez defeats Carla Esparza via submission R2

Suarez is certainly less experienced than the former champion. However, she is an impressive grappler with the stand-up skills to match. Her considerable grappling acumen comes from her freestyle wrestling background. This will be a huge factor, Esparza is very susceptible to takedowns.

Suarez should be wary of Esparza’s striking but her stats tell us that she absorbs less punishment than Carla anyway. I forsee Suarez picking up another submission win here, likely in round 2.

  • Jessica Andrade defeats Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision

This is a very similar stylistic match-up to Esparza/Suarez. Andrade is a monster wrestler and Karolina, a highly technical striker. In this case I also see the grappler winning. Andrade’s physicality compared to that of Karolina is a big difference-maker; she throws smaller opponents through the air.

Karolina is a superb striker and may catch her with knees coming in. However, the most likely outcome is that Andrade wrestles her way to an emphatic decision victory.

  • Zabit Magomedsharipov defeats Brandon Davis via TKO R3

Zabit made a name for himself as a flashy striker when he defeated Kyle Bochniak in April. The UFC tried to pair him with another exciting striker in Yair Rodriguez. That fight fell through but they have replaced one stand-up war with another.

Davis, Yair’s replacement, also put on a thrilling whirlwind display on the Tuesday Night Contender series. Davis is durable but I predict Zabit being too much for him. The Dagestani’s alarming power and unreasonable volume will overwhelm Davis. Zabit will finish Davis, possibly in round three after an all-out war.

  • Valentina Shevchenko defeats Nicco Montano via TKO R1

All due respect to the champion but this fight is very lopsided. Shevchenko is a seasoned, top draw fighter. Montano, has only fought in the pro leagues six times and none of her opponents were notable.

Shevchenko is accustomed to the top level, having shared the cage with multiple champions. She holds a win over a pioneer of women’s MMA and former champion in Holly Holm. She has also shared the octagon with Amanda Nunes, the current bantamweight champion, twice.

Shevchenko sets a break-neck pace, stifling her opponents with overwhelming volume. This floods her opponents with too much data to process. Shevchenko undoubtedly wins via TKO in round 1.

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