The final UFC PPV event of the year is upon us as a quick turnaround for the flyweight championship is supported by a plethora of interesting and exciting bouts.
With both champion and challenger Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno fighting three weeks since their last outing in the main event, two of the lightweight division’s best will clash in the co-main event as Tony Ferguson looks to rebound back into the win column against the in-form Charles Oliveira.
The rest of the main card sees rising stars take on more experienced counterparts while the preliminary card can boast exciting match-ups, none more so than Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev.
Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1) vs. Brandon Moreno (18-5-1)
This should be a great match-up.
While Figueiredo’s destructive fighting style has become well-known, Moreno offers a lot of the same qualities as the champion, albeit without quite the same power.
On the mat, Moreno is more than happy to scramble while on the feet he has improved a ton over the years. While ‘The Assassin Baby’ has always operated at a decent pace, his punches and combinations weave together a lot better than when he first joined the UFC.
For all of Moreno’s positives though, Figueiredo’s finishing instincts and ability on the counter put him above pretty much everyone at flyweight at the moment.
With unmatched strength at 125 lbs and startlingly accurate strikes on the counter, I think that Moreno will have to either fight a near-perfect performance or catch the champion sleeping.
I do think it will be a fast-paced contest, but Figueiredo is just that little bit better.
Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo
Tony Ferguson (25-4) vs. Charles Oliveira (29-8, 1 NC)
Stylistically, Charles Oliveira is perhaps the closest fighter to Tony Ferguson we have at lightweight and he could be the heir apparent to the 36-year old ‘El Cucuy’.
Add in the damage that Ferguson took in his last outing against Justin Gaethje and this may well be a passing of the torch.
With this being a three-round fight, Oliveira’s gas tank won’t be called into question as much as if it were a five-rounder but Ferguson’s pressure and cardio are still unparalleled.
While this is a really tough fight to call due to the damage Ferguson has taken, I still think he’s got some left in the tank and with his non-stop pressure and offence, I think he’ll show Oliveira that cardio is king.
Pick: Tony Ferguson
Mackenzie Dern (9-1) vs. Virna Jandiroba (16-1)
Both Dern and Jandiroba shine on the mat so I fully expect this to be a 15-minute striking battle.
Unfortunately for those watching, neither are particularly technically proficient on the feet but Dern does seem to be the more physically imposing out of the two.
Hopefully, this becomes a grappling contest where we can see their best but I think Dern’s wild strikes will cause clinch work where she should control.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern
Kevin Holland (20-5) vs. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza (26-8, 1 NC)
This is a real litmus test for where both men stand in the middleweight division.
‘Jacare’ has long been a major threat thanks to his power and incredible grappling but his recent form has seen him slump to three defeats in his last four.
Holland meanwhile has quickly rattled off four straight wins during the pandemic using his range and striking power.
The path to victory for both men is clear as Holland will want to keep this standing while ‘Jacare’ will want to ground Holland and apply his heavy top pressure to work his submission game.
I do worry about Holland’s over-exuberance as that’s a risk he can’t afford to take but ‘Jacare’ has simply let fights pass him by without engaging and so I’ll favour the man in form.
Pick: Kevin Holland
Junior dos Santos (21-8) vs. Ciryl Gane (6-0)
JDS is clearly more experienced at a much higher level than Gane has ever fought before but his chin and consistent failing when backed up to the cage are big red flags.
Gane to his credit does look to be a major prospect at heavyweight as his supreme athleticism is matched by his technical ability on the mat and he is more than happy to wade into the pocket with his strikes.
Unless Dos Santos has massively remedied his weakness off the back foot, I think ‘Bon Gamin’ will be able to press the action and capitalise on a fighter who has seen time catch up with him.
Pick: Ciryl Gane
(Last Predictions: 1/3, Total: 130/194, 67% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%)