Friday, June 14, 2024

UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez Predictions

Two titan heavyweights. The Predator Francis Ngannou, taking on two time UFC Heavyweight Cain Velasquez (making his long awaited return to the Octagon). It’s a fight that I honestly wasn’t sure if we’d ever see, with the injury issues Velasquez has faced in his career. However we’re just over 24 hours away from fight night… so it looks like we’re in luck. There are some great fights on this card, here are our predictions:

Early Prelims

Women’s Strawweight: Aleksandra Albu (3-0-0) vs Emily Whitmire (3-2-0)

Prediction: Aleksandra Albu

Bantamweight: Renan Barao (34-7-0, 1 NC) vs Luke Sanders (12-3-0)

Prediction: Luke Sanders

Women’s Strawweight: Jessica Penne (12-5-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-4-0)

Prediction: Jessica Penne


Lightweight: Scott Holtzman (12-2-0) vs Nik Lentz (29-9-2, 1 NC)

Prediction: Scott Holtzman

Women’s Flyweight: Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-3-0) vs Andrea Lee (9-2-0)

Prediction: Andrea Lee

Bantamweight: Benito Lopez (9-0-0) vs Manny Bermudez (13-0-0)

Prediction: Manny Bermudez

Bantamweight: Jimmie Rivera (22-2-0) vs Aljamain Sterling (16-3-0)

Prediction: Jimmie Rivera

Main Card

Featherweight: Andre Filli (18-6-0) vs Myles Jury (17-3-0)

This is a tough one to predict. Both men have been struggling in recent years, dropping fights and not able to put together lengthy winning streaks. Jury is 2-3 in his last five fights, however he did manage to get two back to back wins before losing to Chad Mendes last year.

Fili is 3-2 in his last five, however his last fight was a loss to Michael Johnson in August. He also managed to string together a two fight streak before that loss, alternating a number of fights before that.

Prediction: Myles Jury

Welterweight: Vicente Luque (14-6-1) vs Bryan Barberena (14-5-0)

Bryan Barberena comes into this fight on the back of a victory over Jake Ellenberger, and is 2-2 in his last four fights. It has been almost two years since he managed to string together consecutive wins, which isn’t surprising in a division as stacked as Welterweight. A win on Sunday night would be incredibly useful to help push him towards the top 15.

Luque has been steadily pushing his way up the Welterweight rankings, and a win in this fight could help finally push him into the top 15. He is currently 7-1 over his last eight fights, and is riding a three fight winning streak, a specialist in the d’arce choke, Barberena will have to be very careful to avoid the sneaky submission.

Prediction: Vicente Luque

Featherweight: Alex Caceres (14-11-0, 1 NC) vs Kron Gracie (4-0-0)

Kron Gracie is the latest in the long, and historic, line of the Gracie family looking to make a mark in the UFC. The 30 year old’s MMA career is still young, so far only four fights deep, however he has looked mightily impressive on the ground in those four fights – all four victories coming via submission. He hasn’t fought since 2016, which could cause some issues, and it will be interesting to see how he fairs against UFC veteran Alex Caceres.

Caceres has been in the UFC for almost nine years, and has fought some of the best names in both Bantamweight and Featherweight. He has also been involved in some amazing fights in his time, so you can always expect a great performance. He is very much an ‘anyone, anytime’ type of fighter, hence taking a fight with the 4-0 Gracie.

Prediction: Alex Caceres

Women’s Strawweight: Cortney Casey (8-6-0) vs Cynthia Calvillo (7-1-0)  

Cynthia Calvillo has had an interesting UFC career up to this point. After fighting four times in 2017, winning three and losing one to Carla Esparza, she was suspended for 9 months after testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Coming back a little over a year later to take on Poliana Botelho, however she missed weight for this fight (coming in at 118, 2 lbs over the non-title fight limit). The submission specialist is a lethal fighter, and a very tough opponent, it’ll be interesting to see if she can get things back on track this weekend.

Cortney Casey comes into this fight after going 2-3 in her last five fights, very much needing a few wins to string together. She won her last fight, snapping a two bout losing streak, but hasn’t managed to put together two consecutive wins since 2016. While she has struggled of late, two of her last three losses were split decisions, so she’s only just missing out. She also hasn’t been stopped since the second fight of her career, way back in 2013. So it’ll be interesting to see if Calvillo can put an end to that streak.

Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo

Co-Main and Main Event

Lightweight: James Vick (13-2-0) vs Paul Felder (15-4-0)

James Vick had been on a bit of a roll until he ran into the hot hands of stand-up King Justin Gaethje. Vick was on a four fight win streak heading into that fight, with three of those victories coming in one calendar year. It isn’t the first time that the Texan has struggled upon reaching the top of the division, however he is still well worth a spot in the top 15.

Felder will be making his return to the Lightweight division, after having his three fight win streak ended by Mike Perry at UFC 226, just coming up short in the split decision loss. Felder is another who has struggled when coming up against the top contenders in the division, and both men are looking to bounce back from a loss. It will be interesting to see who wants to really take control of this fight, and get themselves back on track.

Prediction: James Vick

Cain Velasquez © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Cain Velasquez © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Heavyweight: Francis Ngannou (12-3-0) vs Cain Velasquez (14-2-0)

The first thing that surprised me when digging into both Velasquez and Ngannou for this, is that Ngannou has only had one fight less than Cain… Ngannou didn’t start fighting until 2013, Velasquez had his first fight in 2006. It’s incredible how much injuries have set Cain back… but that’s an entire article in itself.

Standing across eachother in the main event will be two of the scariest Heavyweights of all time. Ngannou has proven in the past that all it takes is one wrong step, and he’ll have you staring at the stars… or your head leaving your shoulders. Alistair Overeem learned that the hard way.

It will be interesting to see if there is any rust on Cain, his last fight was way back at UFC 200 in 2016. We all know that on his day Velasquez is one of the best all round fighters in the Heavyweight division, it will be interesting to see if he has retained that edge, or if he has perhaps become even more lethal.

Prediction: Cain Velasquez

Let us know your predictions for the fights below!

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