Both UFC flyweight championships are up for grabs this Saturday night as Deiveson Figueiredo and Valentina Shevchenko look to remain the king and queen of 125 lbs.
With Alex Perez and Jennifer Maia looking to usurp their respective champions, UFC 255 will also boast a hard-hitting welterweight clash, two potential flyweight title eliminators and a rematch between the legendary Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Paul Craig.
Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs. Alex Perez (24-5)
It’ll be a tough task for Alex Perez to best Figueiredo here but he certainly has the tools needed to make this a close-run fight.
Perez’s output is near double in both his takedowns and strikes landed and his leg kicking game can help to slow down the champion even more.
Figueiredo however is a natural finisher and with his ability to scramble on the mat and find a home for his devastating power on the feet, the Brazilian only needs one opportunity to swing the bout in his favour.
One fight which could be a precursor to this five-round clash is Alex Perez’s loss to Joseph Benavidez.
With straight entries, Benavidez was able to counter and physically overpower Perez when he came in close and with Figueiredo arguably the biggest physical presence at 125 lbs, ‘Deus da Guerra’ should be able to do the same here.
Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs. Jennifer Maia (18-6-1)
I really don’t see how Maia wins this without a major mistake from the champion.
On the feet, Shevchenko is a different level to anyone in the division currently and on the mat she can more than handle what anyone threatens.
Maia has made improvements in her stand-up but Shevchenko’s speed and diversity in her arsenal dwarf that of the Brazilian and I think that will be evident from the get-go.
Pick: Valentina Shevchenko
Mike Perry (14-6) vs. Tim Means (30-12-1, 1 NC)
Mike Perry certainly has the power to stop Tim Means but his professionalism approaching this bout is a major red flag.
From missing weight to a lack of a proper corner once again, I simply don’t think you can afford to be amateurish against ‘The Dirty Bird’.
Means is always game no-matter-what and I think he’ll be the slicker man inside the octagon.
Pick: Tim Means
Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1)
I think this a really tough fight to pick.
Both are evenly matched in terms of their striking and they’re capable of stalling the action in the clinch.
Chookagian should have the physical advantage with her range and height and that simply could be the decider when it comes to Calvillo being able to get off her offence.
I do think that this will be closely contested but Calvillo’s greater takedown threat and speed does make me side with her here.
I do think the clinch will be prevalent in this fight and Calvillo should be able to score an all-important takedown or two from there.
Pick: Cynthia Calvillo
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (27-11-1) vs. Paul Craig (13-4-1)
While ‘Shogun’ doesn’t look particularly good these days, he keeps churning out victories against the odds.
Adapting to a more takedown heavy gameplan, Rua has controlled fights on the mat and Craig’s willingness to go there probably cost him in their first meeting.
This time around, I think Craig will make the adjustments and better utilize his speed on the feet and his athleticism.
Pick: Paul Craig
(Last Predictions: 1/3, Total: 122/180, 68% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)