Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett
It was surprising how completely schooled Kattar was on the feet by Max Holloway back in January of 2021, but he’s impressively bounced back from that by earning a unanimous decision victory over another highly regarded striker in Giga Chikaze last time out, and now goes up against Emmett, who is riding a four-fight winning streak.
Kattar is a very good technical boxer who also likes to mix in elbow strikes into his striking combinations at times and will be aided by a 5″ height and 2″ reach advantage in this fight. He can be a bit more hittable than you’d like to see at times, but he’s only been stopped once in his entire 28-fight career.
Emmett has a solid wrestling base but he prefers to throw bombs and does harness thunderous power in his punches. He can be a bit too focused on that fight-ending ability though and so he’s not as technically sound or active of a striker as Kattar.
With five rounds to work there’s a real chance Emmett could find a home for a show-stopping strike, but Kattar’s not easy to put away and his cleaner, more consistent offensive output throughout will help win him rounds and lead to a decision victory.
Prediction: Calvin Kattar to win by decision Bet @ Neds
Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon
Two legends of the lightweight division here and they’ve got the records to prove it, with Cerrone being tied at 1st place for most wins in UFC history (23), most bonuses (18) and 2nd for most finishes in UFC history (16), while Lauzon has the 2nd most finishes in 155lb history (13) and is tied with Nate Diaz for 2nd most bonus awards in UFC history (15).
Lauzon looked like he was bowing out of the sport back in 2019 after breaking a three-fight losing streak with a TKO win over Jonathan Pearce, but he’s been lured back for a big fight with Cerrone, who is in dire need of a win after going six fights without a win.
Worse still, four of those losses came by TKO, and that’s a big concern that even the care-free 39-year-old has had to sit up and take notice of, with talk of retirement no longer being off-limits.
Despite his failing punch-resistance, Cerrone does remain a threat offensively though, with his 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage here enabling him to launch hard-hitting, technical punches and kicks from range, while there’s always a well-timed knee waiting to greet opponent’s stepping into range in pursuit of a takedown.
The 37-year-old Lauzon also suffered a couple of TKO losses not long before his hiatus from the sport and didn’t seem to enjoy the fire-fights he would have once thrived in, instead often retreating into a very static defensive shell when coming under sustained attack.
Lauzon was always very crafty on the mat though and may well look to get the fight there in the hope of finding a submission, but Cerrone also has a strong finishing rate on the mat and has only been tapped out once in his long career.
In the end I feel this fight favors Cerrone as he has the better striking and Lauzon doesn’t have the heaviest hands, while ‘Cowboy’ is also capable of handling himself on the mat for the most part, so I’ll take him to cause Lauzon problems on the feet and win by TKO in the second round.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone to win by TKO in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
Kevin Holland vs. Tim Means
After going three fights without a win at middleweight, the 29-year-old Holland dropped down to welterweight for his last Octagon outing and got back to winning ways with a second round TKO stoppage of Alex Oliveira. As for Means, despite now being 38-years-old he’s actually on a run of three decision victories in a row.
Holland was originally on an excellent run of form at 185lbs, famously racking up five wins in a row in less than a year in 2020, but problems then arose when he went up against high-level wrestlers who were able to negate his striking threat by completely dominating him on the mat.
That won’t be the case here though as Means is very much focused on his striking, being a gritty, hard-headed striker who will unleash high-volume, damaging attacks and thrives in bloody ‘war of attrition’ style battles.
Holland has physical advantages here as though he’s only an inch taller than Means he actually has 6″ in reach over him, as well as being the younger, faster fighter. He has also proven at both middleweight and now welterweight that he carries KO power in his strikes and he has creative flair and good timing too.
Means is a tough, scrappy veteran, but I think Holland holds a lot of the aces here in terms of his reach, power and speed, which will lead him to a second round TKO finish.
Prediction: Kevin Holland to win by TKO in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev
Buckley comes into this fight off of back-to-back victories, while Duraev earned a unanimous decision victory in his promotional debut back in October of last year after joining from the Contender Series.
Of course Buckley made a name for himself courtesy of a spinning-back kick KO that became one of the most viral highlight-reel finishes of all-time and he’s continued to show that wasn’t a fluke since with two KO’s via punches, though he has also been KO’d himself by a head kick and had to settle for a split decision win last time out against fellow striker Abdul Razak Alhassan.
Meanwhile, Duraev is far more likely to get the job done on the mat as he has heavy control on top and a solid record of submitting opponents, nine to be exact from 15 career wins.
Buckley’s grappling ability is fairly limited, so he’ll have to be very focused on keeping this one standing, which could make him more wary of committing to his strikes. Duraev will also have to be mindful of getting caught by an explosive counter as he closes the distance, but in the end I think it may only take one good takedown to set up him up for a submission stoppage here.
Prediction: Albert Duraev to win by submission in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze
A former M-1 lightweight champion, Ismagulov has continued to be a force to be reckoned with since joining the UFC, having racked up four decision wins in a row so far, while Kutateladze was on an eight-fight winning streak on the regional scene before earning a split decision victory over Mateusz Gamrot in his UFC debut.
It’s been almost two years since that win for Kutateladze as injury woes, including knee surgery, kept the 30-year-old from returning to action, but balancing that out slightly, Ismagulov hasn’t been very active himself in recent years, including not having fought in the past 12 months, with a previously scheduled bout last October having been scrapped after he completely botched his weight cut.
Ismagulov is a well-rounded fighter who is a respectable striker and will be a bit busier on the feet than his opponent, but also has a very solid wrestling game too, emphasizing control time, but also being effective when he does land ground-and-pound.
Kutateladze will be more striking orientated and he does wield the bigger raw power of the two here and has shown an ability to manufacture ways to get back to his feet when he is taken down. His narrow victory over Gamrot is also a big feather in his cap, given that it was his highly-rated opponent’s only career loss and he’s since won three fights in a row.
So this is a finely balanced match-up that really could go either way, but with there being question marks about how Kutateladze will look after his long injury layoff it does make me lean more towards Ismagulov, who already benefits from having the wrestling advantage and will be able to stay somewhat competitive on the feet too when required in order to secure a decision victory.
Prediction: Damir Ismagulov to win by decision Bet @ Neds
Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Marquez comes into this fight off two submission wins in a row, while Rodrigues picked up back-to-back wins to start his UFC run, but has since lost via split decision to Armen Petrosyan.
These are two fighters who have something to offer wherever the fight goes. On the feet Rodrigues will march forward aggressively and has finishing power in his punches, though his defense leaves something to be desired. He’s also a talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player, although he perhaps doesn’t use that as often as he should.
Meanwhile, Marquez is an all-rounder with good finishing ability, but also leans on being very durable as he is no stranger to eating big strikes before gaining the upper-hand. He’ll transition between striking and wrestling and should have the advantage in the latter, while he also provides a significant submission threat.
I think Rodrigues the better grappler here overall though, so I don’t think he’ll be overly concerned about Marquez’s submissions, while on the feet he’ll have clear opportunities to land his heavier hitting punches, which I think will lead him to a second round TKO victory.
Prediction: Gregory Rodrigues to win by TKO in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
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About the Author: Ross Cole
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.