By: Logan Helfferich
Light Heavyweight: Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans
Evans is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Ryan Bader and is looking to get back to the top of the division. Teixeira is coming off of back to back wins over Pat Cummins and Ovince Saint Preux via TKO and submission, respectively. Jon Jones and Saint Preux will face off at UFC 197 after Daniel Cormier pulled out of the main event due to injury. The winner of that interim championship fight will face Cormier for the undisputed championship, but Teixeira could be next in line after that. A win over Evans will give him three wins in a row over top contenders and a strong case for the next shot at the belt.
Prediction: Teixeira defeats Evans via KO
Women’s Strawweight: Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres
Namajunas’ last fight was against Carla Esparza for the title, but she was defeated. Esparza went on to lose the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and she’s dominated the division since then. Torres had a strong showing when she was on The Ultimate Fighter, and is still undefeated in professional fights. She lost on the show, but it was a two-round fight and therefore didn’t count against her record. This could likely be a battle to see who faces the champion next. Jedrzejczyk faces Claudia Gadelha after they coach the next season of the Ultimate Fighter, but Torres would be a shoo-in for a title shot if she beats Namajunas and remains undefeated. A win for Namajunas could set up a potential rematch against Esparza or another title shot.
Prediction: Namajunas defeats Torres via submission
Catchweight (160 lbs.): Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Darrel Horcher
Originally scheduled to be Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson, this fight has definitely gone down a few pegs in hype. Horcher is a young, promising fighter making his UFC debut against arguably the best lightweight fighter in the world. Horcher may have a slight size advantage in the catchweight fight, but it won’t matter. Nurmagomedov is fighting for the first time since last year when he defeated the current lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos. Horcher previously fought in Bellator and recorded a 2-1 record. Expect Nurmagomedov to dominate this fight. He’s not overlooking his opponent, saying earlier this week that he has “everything to lose.”
Prediction: Nurmagomedov defeats Horcher via TKO
Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Hacran Dias
Dias is looking to continue to climb the featherweight rankings in this fight, but Swanson is a formidable opponent to say the least. Swanson is coming off of back to back submission losses to top contenders, Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway. Expect him to be on a mission in this fight and out to prove he’s still a top featherweight contender. Dias trains with top fighters Jose Aldo and Renan Barao and has excellent well-rounded skills. Swanson is a lot stronger though and will likely take the fight to the ground if he starts losing the standing exchanges, but that’s unlikely to happen.
Prediction: Swanson defeats Dias via decision
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush vs. Michael Chiesa
Dariush is on a five-fight win streak and had an impressive victory over Michael Johnson in his last fight. Chiesa is a winner of the Ultimate Fighter and a fan-favorite. Dariush needs to avoid Chiesa’s submissions and keep up the pressure. Chiesa needs to use his reach advantage and his range to avoid a brawl with the stronger Dariush.
Prediction: Dariush defeats Chiesa via decision
Women’s Bantamweight: Bethe Correia vs. Raquel Pennington
This fight should be a back-and-forth war. Both fighters love to stand and bang with their opponents and Correia is coming off of an embarrassing loss to Ronda Rousey. Pennington is as tough as they come, so don’t expect her to back down from Correia at all. Pennington has the advantage on the ground, but the only way the fight will likely go to the ground is if someone gets knocks down.
Prediction: Pennington defeats Correia via TKO
UFC Fight Pass Feature Fight
Bantamweight: John Dodson vs. Manny Gamburyan
The featured fight on UFC Fight Pass features John Dodson’s debut back in the bantamweight division. Dodson is arguably the second-best flyweight in the world, but Demetrius Johnson, the current flyweight champion, may be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Therefore, Dodson is hoping to get a shot at the belt in the bantamweight division while “Mighty Mouse” Johnson continues to dominate the flyweights. Gamburyan also recently moved to the bantamweight division, but he moved down from being a featherweight. He’s 2-0 so far as a bantamweight with his last win over Scott Jorgensen. He’ll need to use his size advantage to try and hold down the shifty Dodson.
Prediction: Dodson defeats Gamburyan via decision