The UFC emanates from Brasília, Brazil this Saturday night but will do so behind closed doors.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, UFC Fight Night 172 will go ahead but without the roar of the crowd behind the fighters.
Nevertheless, the UFC train rolls on and it’s latest main event offering sees a high-ranking lightweight clash between Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira.
Supported by a strong main card filled with notable names and exciting match-ups, UFC Fight Night 172 looks to be an exciting, if not surreal, fight card.
Kevin Lee (18-5) vs. Charles Oliveira (28-8, 1 NC)
Both Lee and Oliveira have shown signs of improvement in their latest outings and they have the opportunity to find a stoppage victory for themselves here.
Lee has proven to be a physical presence at the lightweight limit (Lee has missed weight for this fight too) and his smothering wrestling can set up punishing ground and pound.
Oliveira meanwhile is a slick submission artist while his striking ability in the clinch, in particular, is a threat.
It’s a tough fight to call as both men have clear paths to the win but with Lee’s recent move to a more calculated trainer in Firas Zahabi, I’ll keep the faith with the American.
Pick: Kevin Lee
Demian Maia (28-9) vs. Gilbert Burns (17-3)
Burns has proven to be a tough puzzle for his opponents to overcome thanks to his grappling and pressuring style but Demian Maia is still the best in the business when it comes to the mat.
While Burns does have the mat skills to keep the fight stalled or in 50/50 positions, Maia is generally always in control and able to find dominate positions.
If Burns plays this very safe on the feet, he should find the victory but that’s much easier said than done against the veteran Maia.
Pick: Demian Maia
Renato Moicano (13-3-1) vs. Damir Hadzovic (13-5)
Moicano makes his lightweight debut here against a potentially dangerous opponent.
Moicano’s downfall at featherweight was his tendency to get stung with big shots but by removing a weight cut he may gain some durability.
Hadzovic will no doubt look to land a heavy knee or punch but Moicano has fought to a higher level than Hadzovic has faced before.
With rangy strikes and a better grappling pedigree, I think Moicano will kick off his 155 lbs career with a win.
Pick: Renato Moicano
Johnny Walker (17-4) vs. Nikita Krylov (26-7)
This fight looks to be coin flip with their explosive traits.
Between their collective 53 professional bouts, only two have gone to the judges’ scorecards.
Whether Walker can land a KO blow on someone who has only been stopped once by strikes will be a tough ask but he certainly has the skill in his locker.
Due to Walker’s own porous defence however, I’ll side with Krylov to get a stoppage win, either on the mat or through a stinging strike of his own.
Pick: Nikita Krylov
Francisco Trinaldo (24-7) vs. John Makdessi (17-6)
Makdessi isn’t the most physical of lightweights while Trinaldo, despite his age, is a bully in the cage.
Maybe age will catch up with Trinaldo here but I think his more controlling fight style will allow him to find the best path to victory.
Pick: Francisco Trinaldo
(Last Predictions: 4/5, Total: 26/37, 70% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)