UFC 215 Main Card Picks & Predictions
News has broken today that Ray Borg has pulled out of his fight with Demetrious Johnson, apparently due to issues with his weight cut (I did say that the most competitive fight on this card was Borg vs. The Scales). Now we have the bill topped by Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko (months after Dana swore she'd never top a card again, funny how things play out, isn't it?), we're 3-2 in favour of Nunes on this one, so as close as can be. Other than that, we're fairly unanimous throughout the card - read below for our picks and reasoning in full.
Predictions have been submitted throughout fight week and all ahead of the weigh in, so please take that into account if you're reading this on Saturday morning and are slightly confused.
Luke: As you may have heard on the podcast, I’ve been a big fan of ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko for a while now and really fancy her to win this fight. Much like the first meeting, I expect Nunes to come out quick and strong but her style simply doesn’t suit a five round fight. With such a high intensity game, ‘The Lioness’ should be relying on getting the challenger out of there early doors and I think Valentina is too smart for that. She demonstrated against Holm that not only is she a technical striker, but a very intelligent one also; Nunes has a clear power advantage but I think Shevchenko hits hard enough that you can’t walk through her shots and I think her accuracy and intelligence will guide her to take the later round (providing she doesn’t get clipped). Nunes has developed an ego since the last fight and Shevchenko has clearly improved her all round game (as demonstrated with the submission win over Pena). I predict Valentina Shevchenko to win via decision
Jack: This long awaited rematch between two of most well-rounded female in the bantamweight division has had me going back and forth when trying to decide a winner. Nunes is truly benefitting from the added confidence of having the belt around her waist and the last time we really saw her in trouble was in the last round of the fight with Shevchenko. Although I believe both fighters have improved a lot since their previous bout, Shevchenko has been the more impressive with her wins over Holm and Pena. She has proven to have a great chin and many do question Nunes once her initial blast has bee withstood. For that reason, it makes me lead toward Shevchenko for this fight. Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision.
Brad: The longer this goes the more I like Shevchenko but still think Nunes can get it done. Heavy hands and early pressure will see her do enough to win this. Nunes SD
Cam: Nunes via 2nd Round KO
Rory: I do think the closer the fight gets the more I go towards the bullet. But I’m sticking with my previous prediction and going Nunes in Round 2.
Luke: In only a three round fight, neither Magny nor Dos Anjos will be tiring and so every minute of every round will be crucial. Despite being rangey, Magny has never been a good ‘long’ fighter and I think that will be his undoing here; He doesn’t throw with the type of power that will bother Dos Anjos even if he can sneak a punch past the forearms, while the latter has experience getting in on longer fighters. Once Dos Anjos is in range then the slender torso of Magny, and those skinny legs will be there for the taking. The question is whether Magny can get Dos Anjos to the ground. Magny is so much larger than Dos Anjos that a single takedown could mean an entire round in his favour – I don’t think he will however, and so I’m going with Dos Anjos to win a decision and leave Magny again wondering what could have been.
Jack: A good fight for RDA to show how his game translates into the 170 division. For Magny a chance to reassert himself as a contender against a very credible, former champ in RDA. Unfortunately for Magny, whenever the level of competition rises to the upper echelon of the division, he tends to struggle. RDA's relentless style of fighting will prove too much for Magny, however I cannot see this being a finish due to the size of RDA. RDA via a dominant Unanimous Decision.
Brad: Big fight for both guys, both need the win here, gonna go with Magny to catch the judges eyes with a higher output of work. Magny SD.
Cam: Magny via Unanimous Decision
Rory: I find it surprising that RDA is favourite for this one. I think Neil Magny is a very solid fighter and could have enough to see of the dangerous Brazilian. I see this one going the full three rounds once again with Magny coming out with a UD victory.
Luke: At 34 years old, it looks to me like Latifi has hit his ceiling as a top 10 gatekeeper in the light heavyweight division; Pedro will enjoy a large height and reach advantage here, which he needs to use if he wants to bang on the feet with the Swede. That said, he’s gifted on the ground as well, as most of his wins come via submission. I may just be buying into the hype here, but the Light Heavyweight division is dying out for a new contender and I think Pedro makes a statement here with an early second round KO.
Jack: With the light heavyweight division currently in utter disarray, there is a big opportunity for these two fighters to have their names heard come Saturday night. Pedro is coming off the back of a brilliant performance against the previously undefeated Paul Craig, whereas Latifi is returning after a years lay off where he was on the wrong side of a vicious KO vs Ryan Bader. Pedro is yet to get out of the first and I believe Latifi is a great match up for him to prove he is legitimate prospect in the light heavyweight division. Pedro via 1st round TKO.
Brad: As an Aussie I’ve gotta pick Tyson here. Maybe not in the first round as he awlays does but… actually no go on, stoppage in Rd 1. Why not?
Cam: Latifi via 1st Round KO
Rory: A fairly unknown Tyson Pedro makes his way up the ranks at LHW again on Saturday in my opinion. I am taking him to get the win in the second round by KO.
Luke: I don’t want to be too much of a negative guy here, but this feels like a fight to determine who simply has the most left, a battle to see who is less shot (for want of a better term). Melendez is making his featherweight debut here after he lost three in a row at lightweight. Like Stephens, all of those fights came against top-15 opponents, showing he’s at least taking fights against some of the best. Stephens is living off a couple of big highlights in the same way that Danny Rose has, and he clearly isn’t hitting as hard as he used to. Still though, I think the wars have caught up with Gilbert and I’ll take Stephens via UD.
Jack: There is every chance of this fight being a potential fight of the year candidate with the fighting style of Stephens and Melendez. Both fighters are looking to be on the back 9 of their career and neither look up to making much of a title run, however their fighting styles have always been eye catching. There is some uncertainty with Melendez coming down to the featherweight division and Stephenshas struggled to get that significant win in the division. I do believe this will be a close fight but Stephens is more comfortable at the weight limit and has shown a chin of steel at featherweight. Stephens via Split Decision.
Brad: A true 50/50 fight. I kinda hope this goes all the way but who knows, think Gil might have too many miles on the clock so give Stephens the nod with a UD win.
Cam: Stephens via Round 1 KO
Rory: Two guys who look to be on the wind down in their careers but with potential for one last thriller. Neither guy is at the peak of their powers any more but I’m taking Stephens to get the victory by decision in this one. He possesses enough skill to control a man who has been so inactive lately. Stephens is also a big featherweight so should have no problems with Gilbert dropping down. Stephens by UD