This Saturday (July 25, 2020), Final Combating Championship (UFC) will make one closing journey (for now) to “Battle Island” in Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, for UFC on ESPN 14. For the fourth time in three weeks, worldwide expertise might be on show contained in the Octagon, notably a Middleweight conflict between Australia’s Robert Whittaker and England’s Darren Until. I didn’t understand till I started researching the occasion for this write up, however there might be 15 — FIFTEEN!!! — bouts on Saturday, so right here’s hoping it’s an action-packed evening fairly than limitless decision-fest. Let’s keep optimistic and break down some major card fights!

Keep in mind, we’ll be again later this week to preview and predict the largest fights of Saturday’s occasion.

Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Finest Win for Werdum? Fedor Emelianenko For Gustafsson? Glover Teixeira
Present Streak: Each veteran’s have misplaced two straight
X-Issue: Who has extra left within the tank?
How these two match up: I’m a little bit disgusted, but additionally a bit intrigued.

Former Heavyweight champion Werdum has … not regarded nice in his final couple fights. He can blame ring rust for the newest defeat, however nonetheless, “Vai Cavalo” confirmed up in mediocre form for each matches, and it price him. At his greatest, Werdum is an aggressive kickboxer with world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Gustafsson regarded totally flat in his final two losses as properly, although he didn’t bodily seem too bloated. At 33 years of age, Gustafsson is kind of younger for a brand new Heavyweight, and if his pace, energy, and conditioning maintain up in his new weight class, this could possibly be an amazing transfer for the Swedish boxer.

F*ck me, this can be a dumb battle to aim to investigate.

On the very least, anybody contemplating betting ought to wait till weigh-in day. How does Gustafsson’s physique look having packed on some further kilos? Will Werdum proceed to appear to be he raided a bakery? These questions, a minimum of, might be answered with a little bit of persistence.

There are lots extra unknowns although. How a lot of Werdum’s final efficiency might be attributed to ring rust? Is Gustafsson truly motivated to leap again from retirement? How will Gustafsson’s boxing maintain up towards a equally tall opponent?

On paper, the stylistic match up favors Gustafsson. He’s youthful, has glorious takedown protection, and his fingers are far sharper. Maybe there’s no motive to look past these easy information, however I simply discover it troublesome to belief Gustafsson at this level in his profession. Werdum is probably not at his peak, however he has but to mentally fold contained in the Octagon, and I don’t know if we will say the identical about “Mauler” anymore.

Plus, a substantial amount of Gustafsson’s protection appears to boil right down to being tall. In opposition to a taller opponent aggressively (learn: sloppily) throwing combos, will leaning again work? It doesn’t seem to be it.

Backside line: I don’t have any confidence on this decide, and neither must you.

Prediction: Werdum by way of submission

Girls’s Strawweight: Carla Esparza vs. Marina Rodriguez

Finest Win for Esparza? Cynthia Calvillo For Rodriguez? Tecia Torres
Present Streak: Esparza has received three straight, whereas Rodriguez is undefeated at 12-0-2
X-Issue: Rodriguez’s measurement and power benefit
How these two match up: This one could possibly be enjoyable.

Esparza isn’t the larger girl contained in the cage, however that not often stops her from imposing her wrestling talent. Plus, “Cookie Monster’s” kickboxing has actually improved over the previous few years, which undoubtedly helps arrange pictures.

Alternatively, Rodriguez is shortly making her declare as one of many division’s most violent girls. The Muay Thai fighter throws elbows and knees with actual menace, and she or he positively manhandles opponents within the clinch.

A fast historical past lesson: in each of Rodriguez’s attracts, she largely dominated opponent her opponents on the toes, however she misplaced one spherical so badly on the mat that her foes picked up 10-Eight rounds. Given Esparza’s toughness and talent to rally, that looks like a definite chance right here as properly, as each girls have merely huge benefits of their respective consolation zones.

Since selecting a draw looks like a copout, I’ll finally aspect with Esparza. The previous champion has been going through actual powerful opposition, and whereas she’s been successful on tiny margins, these nonetheless depend!

Esparza picks up simply sufficient takedowns to snag an in depth one.

Prediction: Esparza by way of resolution

Mild Heavyweight: Paul Craig vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov

Finest Win for Craig? Magomed Ankalaev For Antigulov? Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Present Streak: Craig went to a draw final trip and received the battle earlier, whereas Antigulov has misplaced two straight
X-Issue: Craig’s newfound confidence
How these two match up: Bizarre submission man vs. bizarre submission man!

For some time, Craig solely managed to win fights in inconceivable upsets, catching onto submissions after his opponent drained from punching him within the face. In his final two bouts, nevertheless, Craig has improved his kickboxing bit, which has made him a extra multi-faceted offensive menace.

Dagestan’s Antigulov is about as easy a fighter as you’ll discover in blended martial arts (MMA). He wastes virtually no time in tackling his opponent and attempting to take residence a limb or land a strangle. A professional since 2009, 15 of his victories come by way of submission.

As soon as extra, this can be a unusual one. Antigulov is mostly a one-round fighter, and whereas Craig is actually mentally powerful, he has been taken out within the first-round 3 times prior contained in the Octagon. There’s actually a substantial probability Antigulov tosses him to the mat, takes his again, and strangles him inside a pair minutes.

That mentioned, Craig is bettering, and I belief him fairly a bit extra in powerful conditions. If he can deny Antigulov that early end, anticipate the Russian to fold beneath a stream of clinch knees.

Prediction: Craig by way of knockout

Welterweight: Alex Oliveira vs. Peter Sobotta

Finest Win for Oliveira? Carlos Condit For Sobotta? Nicolas Dalby
Present Streak: Oliveira returned to the win column final trip, whereas Sobotta got here up brief
X-Issue: Oliveira’s inconsistency
How these two match up: We’ve obtained an actual probability of a scrap right here people.

Oliveira doesn’t know how one can have a boring battle. Regardless of the Brazilian “Cowboy” opts to do contained in the cage, he does so with violent intentions. Oliveira kicks critically exhausting, runs into his cross in strange-but-powerful style, and is kind of nasty from prime place, too.

In his first UFC run, Sobotta was fairly strictly a grappler, which didn’t work properly. His second stint with UFC has gone way more easily, largely as a result of Sobotta’s a extra harmful menace on the toes and appears in higher bodily situation total.

Nicholas Dalby is a standard opponent between these two males (Sobotta received, Oliveira misplaced), and this battle does learn fairly equally to Oliveira’s bout with Dalby. As soon as extra, Oliveira is the extra explosive and harmful fighter, however he runs the chance of slowing down and dropping to the extra measured, technical combatant.

Nevertheless, it’s worth-noting that Dalby needed to actually carry out above his typical measure in that bout, and it was nonetheless a razor-close battle. Sobotta has fought since March 2018, and beating Oliveira looks like a significant ask in his first return bout.

Prediction: Oliveira by way of resolution

Welterweight: Khamzat Chimaev vs. Rhys McKee

Finest Win for Chimaev? John Phillips For Antigulov? Tim Barnett
Present Streak: Chimaev is undefeated at 7-Zero and received his first UFC bout LAST WEDNESDAY, whereas McKee received three straight on the regional scene previous to his short-notice signing
X-Issue: Combating twice in 10 days is tough on the physique
How these two match up: Prospect battle!

Chimaev promised a “Khabib 2.0”-type efficiency in his debut, and he delivered! The Swede confirmed brutalizing wrestling and floor work, and on the regional scene, he has sat opponents down along with his kickboxing too.

Eire’s Rhys McKee is a Cage Warriors veteran with a strong mixture of knockouts and submissions on his report. He’s a particular finisher, an aggressive fighter who stalks opponents and tries to move them off with large energy pictures.

Chimaev was lobbed one thing of a stylistic softball in his debut, so there are nonetheless causes to be skeptical about his sudden hype. Nevertheless, “Skeletor” does probably not appear the person to problem him. It wasn’t all that way back that McKee was competing at 155 kilos, which is a nasty signal towards a Swede who simply tossed round a Middleweight with ease. Plus, whereas McKee does have energy, he’s not the kind of athletic large hitter that sometimes can bother a grinder like Chimaev.

“Borz” picks up his second win of July with a handful of takedowns and dominant prime management.

Prediction: Chimaev by way of submission

Keep in mind that will ship LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow protection of the whole UFC on ESPN 14 battle card this weekend, beginning with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, that are scheduled to start at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining major card stability on ESPN+/ESPN at Eight p.m. ET.

To take a look at the most recent and biggest UFC on ESPN 14: “Whittaker vs. Until” information and notes make sure to hit up our complete occasion archive proper right here.