League : MMA


 The UFC’s unrelenting march until December 19th continues this weekend with another Fight Island offering as a high ranking bantamweight clash takes headline billing.

Pitting Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen against one another for a scheduled five-rounds, UFC Fight Night 179 also sees some other notable names take to the octagon, most notably the co-main event between Edson Barboza and Makwan Amirkhani.

Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) vs. Cory Sandhagen (12-2)

I think this fight will boil down to how deep Sandhagen can take Moraes into the bout.

Moraes has always favoured bursts of offence and heavy leg kicks to complement his questionable cardio while Sandhagen is more than happy to go toe to toe and offer high output with his slick strikes.

For Sandhagen to win, he’ll almost certainly have to take a page out of Henry Cejudo’s book and turn up the pressure on his Brazilian foe.

When the fight competes at a kickboxing range, Moraes’ diverse kicking arsenal can pick apart almost anyone and his power can certainly bring an early close to proceedings.

It’s a really tough fight to pick but I’ll side with Sandhagen to try and make amends from his poor start against Aljamain Sterling and outwork Moraes over the long stretch.

Pick: Cory Sandhagen

Edson Barboza (20-9) vs. Makwan Amirkhani (16-4)

While Edson Barboza has struggled with grapplers in the past, I’m not sure Makwan Amirkahani has the suffocating ability needed to nullify Barboza.

As a submission threat, Amirkhani could certainly sink in a choke on Barboza should the fight hit the mat but I struggle to see Amrikhani, a fighter who doesn’t usually press the action on the feet, pressuring Barboza onto the back foot.

With his ridiculous speed and power, I think Barboza will have too much for Amirkhani to overcome in the striking exchanges.

Pick: Makwan Amirkhani

Ben Rothwell (38-12) vs. Marcin Tybura (19-6)

Rothwell and Tybura match up pretty similarly apart from their physicality and that could well be the decisive factor.

Both produce similar numbers on the feet but while Tybura is keener to involve his wrestling, Rothwell’s sneaky submission game could dissuade the Polish heavyweight to shoot in for a double leg.

It looks to be a slog on paper but I think Rothwell’s size and Tybura’s somewhat dubious durability should benefit Rothwell.

Pick: Ben Rothwell

Markus Perez (12-3) vs. Dricus Du Plessis (14-2)

Perez is a solid well-rounded fighter who normally prefers to grapple but he’s not a fighter who dictates how his fights play out.

Du Plessis similarly is comfortable wherever the fight goes but is perhaps more composed and happy to fight at kickboxing range than Perez.

If this hits the mat it could be a tense grappling bout but I think Du Plessis will try to keep his distance.

Pick: Dricus Du Plessis

Tom Aspinall (8-2) vs. Alan Baudot (8-1)

Aspinall looks to be a real prospect at heavyweight and Alan Baudot is normally a light heavyweight by trade.

While Baudot may have the speed advantage early, I think once Aspinall lands the disparity in power will be noticeable.

Pick: Tom Aspinall

Youssef Zalal (10-2) vs. Ilia Topuria (8-0)

Zalal has shown himself to be a bright prospect to look out for during the UFC’s pandemic shows and while Topuria could prove himself to be a similar name to look out for in time, his late notice acceptance of this fight makes me side with Zalal here.

Showing high output and a diverse striking skillset, Zalal should have enough to outwork Topuria.

Pick: Youssef Zalal

(Last Predictions: 3/4, Total: 103/151, 68% Success Rate)

(Success Rate: 201661%’1760%’1858%19′: 57%)

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