UFC 271 is set to be one of the biggest pay-per-views of early 2022 as the Main Event pits Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya against a strong opponent in Robert Whittaker.
For each fight, I will make a prediction with an explanation and confidence degree (1-10, 10 being absurdly confident, one being anything could happen), followed by a best bet of the matchup.
Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1) vs. Mike Mathetha (3-0, a.k.a. Blood Diamond)
Jeremiah Wells is a monster.
He loves to finish his fights and is coming off a dominant knockout of Warley Alves. Mathetha, on the other hand, is relatively unknown and is getting his UFC debut primarily because of his close association with Israel Adesanya.
I like Wells to get the W, but Mathetha may be a surprise here with his kickboxing ability.
Prediction: Wells Wins ITD (Confidence 7)
Best Bet: Wells by decision +450
Sergey Morozov (17-4) vs. Douglas Silva De Andrade (27-4)
Morozov is a dominant and top-heavy grappler. He’s looking to get inside, avoid big strikes, and attack the legs. His hope is to take down De Andrade, and drag him into deep waters.
On the other hand, De Andrade has nasty hands and throws with intent to kill. I see this fight playing out one of two ways.
We either get an absolute banger with both gentlemen throwing hard until someone gives out, or we get a wrestling and top control lesson from Morozov and watch him dominate for three rounds. Morozov’s only losses in the past four years are to elite competition, but the same can be said for Andrade.
Prediction: Morozov by decision (Confidence 6)
Best Bet: Andrade by KO +500
AJ Dobson (6-0) vs. Jacob Malkoun (5-1)
Dobson dominated his first fight on Dana White’s Contender Series, finishing his opponent after mauling him on his feet and on the ground.
Malkoun had a less than impressive performance against Phil Hawes that saw him knocked out early in the first round. However, Malkoun trains with UFC 271 headliner Robert Whittaker and implemented a clean and smart gameplan in his previous fight.
That being said, Dobson is dangerous on his feet, and if Malkoun doesn’t get top position, he could be in for a tough night.
Prediction: Dobson round one KO OR Malkoun decision. Toss up in my eyes.
Best Bet: Malkoun by Decision +210
Carlos Ulberg (5-1) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-3)
Ulberg is a training partner of Israel Adesanya, but his most recent fight was a loss to Kennedy Nzechukwu that was honestly painful to watch.
Carlos got tired easily and faded quickly to get finished in an ugly fashion. Fabio Cherant has also been finished recently, losing both his fights in the first round.
However, Cherant’s competition has been stiffer, and I think the line is too wide here. I believe Ulberg can, and most likely will get it done, but the line is too wide for my liking.
Prediction: Ulberg wins (Confidence 4)
Best Bet: Ulberg KO -120
Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs. Renato Moicano (15-4-1)
I love this fight. Hernandez is obnoxious and annoying, but the guy is a pure athlete who knows how to fight. Moicano is a technical grappler and volume striker, but can land hard when he really tries to.
He’s lost three of his last five, but his losses are to Jose Aldo, The Korean Zombie, and Rafael Fiziev. I think Hernandez can take this if he fights smart, but I think it’s more likely that Moicano stays smarter and wins off of volume and maybe a grappling-heavy third round.
Prediction: Moicano Wins (Confidence 6)
Best Bet: Moicano by decision +250
Mana Martinez (9-2) vs. Ronnie Lawrence (7-1)
This is one of the simpler matchups for me. Mana is a good fighter but has failed to show that he is an upper-level fighter. After losing to Daniel Rodrigues on DWCS, he won two fights outside the UFC and then squeaked out a victory against Guido Cannetti via split decision.
On the other hand, Ronnie Lawrence has demonstrated power, durability, and endurance in his UFC debut and his fight on DWCS. Ronnie can finish fights, but also has lots of decisions on his record.
Prediction: Ronnie Lawrence Wins (Confidence 10)
Best Bet: Lawrence ITD +190 or by decision +110 (taking him straight up at -400 has little to no value in my opinion, unless you use him as a parlay piece.)
William Knight (11-2) vs. Maxim Grishin (31-9-2)
The first thing I notice looking at this fight is the experience difference for Grishin. He’s been fighting for years, including many at Heavyweight, and is now fighting at 205 instead. He’s lost to some mediocre competition, and if Knight can wrestle effectively, he may get a W, but that’s a big if.
Knight is an absolute specimen; the dude looks like a Super Saiyan. Unfortunately, however, he does not fight like one. I’m expecting a boring fight that Grishin steadily pulls away with due to his height and reach advantage.
Prediction: Grishin wins (Confidence 5)
Best Bet: Grishin by decision +150
Alex Perez (24-6) vs. Matt Schnell (15-5)
This is a tough one. Both fighters are underrated in my eyes, Schnell especially.
That being said, Perez is one of the toughest guys in the division and has only lost two fights in his UFC career, one being to title contender Joe Benavidez, and the other to current champion Deveison Figureido.
Schnell is a fun fighter and has a great ground game and striking, but I feel Perez will be able to get the job done, maybe even inside the distance.
Prediction: Perez Wins (Confidence 9)
Best Bet: Perez by KO +175
Casey O’Neill (8-0) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (25-20)
Casey Oneill is one of my favorite prospects in women’s MMA. She’s only had three UFC fights, but she has finished all of her opponents in impressive fashion. Modafferi is a fun fighter and an extraordinary person, but I feel like this final fight will be brutal. I think O’Neill wins any way she wants.
Prediction: Casey O’Neill wins (Confidence 10)
Best Bet: Parlay Casey O’Neill and Perez for a total line of -170, or take Casey by decision +100
Andrei Arlovski (32-20) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-6)
This is an interesting fight in my eyes. I see an older Arlovski who has shown he can still throw down going up against a heavier but less impressive Jared Vanderaa.
I really don’t have confidence in either fighter to come away with an impressive victory, but I think Arlovski has the better skills.
Prediction: Arlovski wins (Confidence 4)
Best Bet: Arlovski by Decision +130
Bobby Green (28-12-1) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (13-4)
I can’t wait for this one. Haqparast is an underrated fighter who tends to fight a bit on the more unexciting side. However, he does have great hands and solid offensive wrestling.
Bobby Green is a vet of the game and throws extremely hard. I think Green outclasses Haqparast in a close fight.
Prediction: Bobby Green Wins (Confidence 7)
Best Bet: Bobby Green by decision +140
Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-8)
This should be a fun fight, but I’m not as hot on Phillips as others. I think he’s a well-rounded fighter, but he got gassed very easily against Raulian Paiva.
However, Rojo has finished his opponent or been finished in each of his last five fights, so I don’t expect this one to last very long.
Prediction: Kyler Phillips wins (Confidence 8)
Best Bet: Under One and a half rounds +110
Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs. Derek Brunson (23-7)
I love Brunson in this match-up. As good as Cannonier is, I just think Brunson is better. I think he’ll execute a smart gameplan and do what Blonde Brunson does- Win.
I feel that he’ll wrestle Cannonier to the ground and hold him there for the majority of three rounds. Cannonier has great hands and a solid leg kick, but I like Brunson here. Get him at plus money while you can.
Prediction: Brunson Wins (Confidence 6)
Best Bet: Brunson Moneyline +140 or By decision +250
Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs. Tai Tuivasa (14-3)
This is going to be a crazy matchup. Tuivasa said it himself in an interview, “I’m either going to get my head knocked off, or I’ll knock his head off.”
Lewis will be fighting in his hometown of Houston, and Tai is on a four-fight win streak after dropping three in a row before that.
With the power in these Heavyweights’ hands, I don’t think this fight lasts over 1.5 rounds. Tuivasa at plus money is a solid bet, but Derrick Lewis just has that thing.
He can catch anyone at any time and put them down, like he did to Volkov or Blaydes. I like Lewis via knockout.
From a betting perspective, Tuivasa by KO is +215, whereas Lewis by KO is -125. I love finding value, and I think it’s on Tuivasa here.
Prediction: Lewis wins by Knockout (Confidence 6)
Best Bet: Tuivasa by KO +215 or Lewis by KO -125
Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (24-5)
UFC Middleweight Title Fight
This is a rematch of the UFC 243 Middleweight title unification bout in Oct. of 2019. Adesanya put on an absolute show in Melbourne and took the title from Whittaker.
Since then, Whittaker has been on a three-fight tear, outstriking his opponents 288-156 in significant strikes.
Adesanya is 3-1 in the time since their last fight, his only loss being at Light Heavyweight vs. then champ Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya has outstruck his opponents 199-110 in his three middleweight fights since their last bout.
I think Adesanya is one of the greatest fighters on the planet, but I feel Whittaker can present a real threat on the ground. Marvin Vettori was able to get Adesanya to the ground in their last fight, but was incapable of doing anything with it.
Whittaker has been working wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu a lot in this camp, and his striking, timing, and patience have all improved drastically.
Realistically, I think Adesanya wins a fairly close fight, 48-47 or 49-46. However, I think the public is under-valuing Whittaker’s abilities.
Adesanya may go out and show the world he’s hands down, no questions asked, the best middleweight on the planet. But I think Whittaker has something to prove.
Prediction: Adesanya via Decision (Confidence 6)
Best Bet: Fight goes to decision -120