Will Jon Jones ever be beaten? No. We’ve believed in (some) of his opponents, followed their careers and thought ‘this is the guy to do it’ and you know what? They’ve all FAILED. Is it worth throwing some cash on Santos to get the upset? Of course! This is MMA. This is a card of epic proportions and violence. We can’t wait!
Main Card (BT Sport Box Office)
Jon Jones (c) vs. Thiago Santos (Light Heavyweight)
Look, controversial and shamed past aside, Jon Jones is arguably still the best MMA fighter to grace the planet. We aren’t his biggest fan but it’s the truth. Santos is absolutely terrifying and we really hope he does what others haven’t and actually comes to challenge for the title. Jones has many talents and one of them is the ability to control a fight. His confidence and octagon presence shall prevail once again and he’ll find a way to wear Santos down. The Brazilian deserves his title shot but he’s going to end up on the pile of victims. A late finish isn’t a bad shout.
Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Holly Holm (Women’s Bantamweight)
One of the most important facts to point out is that although she is facing one of the hardest punchers in women’s MMA, Holly Holm has never actually been knocked out. A phenomenal athlete she has enough gas in the tank to go 5 rounds but it all depends on the damage she takes from Nunes. We love an upset but can’t see one happening here or in the main event unfortunately.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren (Welterweight)
We’ve gone back and forth on our final prediction for this one and the bottom line is that Askren is one of the best wrestlers in MMA but he’s also an intelligent guy. After what Masvidal did to Darren Till, our prediction could well and truly be thrown back in our face but our head says Askren takes him down and keeps him there for 3 rounds.
Jan Błachowicz vs. Luke Rockhold (Light Heavyweight)
Having spent some time out to recover from injury, former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold makes his debut at 205 against mega tough Polish star Jan Blachowicz. Many have struggled against the durable Blachowicz so Rockhold will have his work cut out here, as well as dealing with a spot of octagon rust and a new weight.
Diego Sanchez vs. Michael Chiesa (Welterweight)
It is crazy that fans who once pleaded with Sanchez to call it a day are now backing him to continue his MMA journey. Back-to-back wins means the TUF legend is experiencing a resurgence in his career but we will be very surprised if Chiesa doesn’t get this to the floor straight away and win via sub.
Preliminary card (ESPN)
Gilbert Melendez vs. Arnold Allen (Featherweight)
This bout was actually meant to take place on the 30th November last year at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale. An absolutely cracking match up on paper that could produce a fight of the night if Allen gets drawn in to a slug fest. Melendez is at risk from being cut here (from the UFC but also in the fight!) and might have to come in with an entirely different game plan if he is going to stand a chance against a young, solid opponent like Allen.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Randa Markos (Women’s Strawweight)
Both athletes have been up and down in recent performances and with both favouring the ground, this is pretty certain to go the distance.
Alejandro Pérez vs. Yadong Song (Bantamweight)
Perez will be looking to bounce back to winning ways against one Asia’s rising stars. A tough one to call.
Early Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass)
Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Jack Marshman (Middleweight)
Welsh fighter Marshman is a standout guy and as brave as they come, but this could end up being a really REALLY bad night at the office.
Ismail Naurdiev vs. Chance Rencountre (Welterweight)
Going to be close but ‘The Austrian Wonderboy’ should pick up another UFC win in this one.
Julia Avila vs. Pannie Kianzad (Women’s Bantamweight)
Expect Avila to overwhelm her Swedish opponent and the ref to step in.