Live Results: UFC 231 – Holloway vs. Ortega

8th December 2018, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada – UFC 231 is set to go down and has been highly anticipated for the technical quality of the main card.

In the main event, featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) will defend his featherweight title, as well as his 12 fight winning streak against unbeaten challenger Brian Ortega (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC). Holloway, who faced questions about whether he would make weight heading into the event, was 144.5 pounds. Ortega was a quarter-pound more at 144.75.

In the co-feature, Valentina Shevchenko (15-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) takes on former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for the vacant women’s flyweight title. Shevchenko was well under at 1235.5 pounds, as was Jedrzejczyk at 123.75.

MMAMotion will be live on Twitter with all of the play-by-plays and the results will be updated below as they happen. Give us a follow and join the conversation.

MAIN CARD

  • Max Holloway def. Brian Ortega via Doctor’s Stoppage (Round 4)
  • Valentina Shevchenko def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via Unanimous Decision (49-46 x3)
  • Gunnar Nelson def. Alex Oliveira via 2nd Round Submission (RNC)
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak via Split Decision (29-28 x2)
  • Thiago Santos def. Jimi Manuwa via 2nd Round KO

UNDERCARD

  • Nina Ansaroff def. Claudia Gadelha via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
  • Jessica Eye def. Katlyn Chookagian via Split Decision (29-28 x2)
  • Elias Theodorou def. Eryk Anders via (Split Decision 29-28 x2)
  •  Gilbert Burns def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
  • Aleksandar Rakic def. Devin Clark via Round 1 TKO
  • Brad Katona def. Matthew Lopez via Third Round Submission (RNC)
  • Dhiego Lima def. Chad Laprise via Round 1 KO
  • Diego Ferreira def. Kyle Nelson via Round 2 TKO

Opinion: Shevchenko vs. Jedrzejczyk – What Will Go Down?

Our first of two title fights this weekend at UFC 231 in Toronto, sees two of the most technical strikers in women’s mixed martial arts history clash for the vacant flyweight title as former professional Muay Thai foes, Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk meet.

Shevchenko acts as the welcoming party for Joanna who makes her division return after two straight defeats to Rose Namajunas at strawweight and a decision win over Tecia Torres, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina made the drop to flyweight from bantamweight after a rematch loss to Amanda Nunes. Kyrgyzstan native Shevchenko was tipped to reign supreme at 125lbs and exacted a brutal first and second round beat down on Brazilian newcomer Priscila Cachoeira at the beginning of the year to earn an immediate title shot.

Despite this being the first time these women have clashed in mixed-martial arts competition, they are more than familiar with each other’s striking pedigree – Shevchenko picked up two decision victories over the Pole during they’re Muay Thai careers back in 2007.

A seamless transition to MMA displayed Valentina’s incredible striking and distance management to a wider audience and earmarked her as a potential world champion. Notable wins against the likes of former Bantamweight queen Holly Holm, top contender Julianna Pena and a one-sided victory over Cachoeira flaunted leaps in her grappling. The Judo black belt scored multiple takedowns over Holm and submitted both Pena and Priscila and landed her trademark counter right hand at will, something the more aggressive volume striker Jedrzejczyk must be wary of.

Before her first-round knockout defeat to ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas back in 2017, Joanna was regarded as one of the most formidable forces in Octagon history. An undefeated 14-0 pressure fighter who had dispatched each and every one of her opponents with relative ease, this undefeated record led to some considerable bravado and almost a feeling of invincibility, something Namajunas exploited.

On paper, Joanna was expected to steamroll Rose but was dropped twice in the exchanges of a frantic paced first round and in a mere three minutes, her Strawweight throne was over. A redemption story followed a much more collected Jedrzejczyk into her rematch with ‘Thug’ Rose and despite a much-improved showing, she lost a close decision to Namajunas. An incensed Joanna was convinced she regained her crown and disagreed with the judge’s unanimous decision ruling. Tecia Torres was next in line for Jedrzejczyk and despite some cagey exchanges, Joanna scored a three round decision win.

Olsztyn native Jedrzejczyk has made the 125lbs limit before, amassing a 5-0 record at the weight and a return to Flyweight will more than likely benefit Joanna, with her well-documented struggle to meet the Strawweight limit leaving her compromised, although it would be hard to notice given her dominance over the division for such a long time.

Shevchenko is the better grappler in this one but Joanna has been tested before in wrestling exchanges and has come out on top. Joanna’s pace pushing, volume striking style could bare the key to Valentina’s success with her distance control and counter striking ability second to none. Expect a highly significant and total strike count come to the culmination of this one with Valentina landing quickest.

Valentina Shevchenko via unanimous decision. 

Analysis: The story behind the UFC 231 main event

 

On December 8th, in Toronto, Canada, the long-awaited Featherweight Championship match up between the ultra-talented Champion Max Holloway and BJJ expert Brian Ortega will finally happen.

The Champion was scheduled to defend his title against longtime top contender Frankie Edgar before being forced to pull out with a leg injury. Ortega then stepped in on short notice, only to shock the world and cement his spot as #1 contender. Most didn’t think it was the smartest idea for the young gun going up against a very experienced and elite fighter on three weeks notice.

We thought, if T-City wins this, it’s going to be a submission; Frankie is a BJJ black belt under Ricardo Almeida but it’s clear Brian’s BJJ is the elite of the elite, no one could see him outpointing Edgar, and didn’t expect him to submit him, we just were thinking that’s his only shot. He comes out and gets a KO late in round 1 with a series of vicious uppercuts.

After that, Max tried to step in on a week notice to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the Lightweight Championship when Tony Ferguson pulled out with a freak accident knee injury but was forced by the commission to withdraw from the bout because of the weight cut.

The pair was then supposed to meet at UFC 226 until Holloway was forced to withdraw due to concussion-like symptoms. The last three fights Max Holloway has been scheduled for, he hasn’t been able to show up, unfortunately.

Now we should finally be able to watch this high-level match up once and for all. Since each of them came to the UFC, we all expected big things from them. Each were world champions before joining the big show. Max Holloway won the X-1 lightweight championship over five rounds in his third pro fight, and T-City won both the RTC and RFA Featherweight titles in five-round fights and defended the RTC title once with a triangle choke victory.

Max came to the UFC in 2012 when he was 19 years old at 4-0 to fill in for Ricardo Lamas against Dustin Poirier; and though he lost that fight, by first-round submission at that, we seen very good striking, he looked like a very seasoned fighter, even as an adolescent. Each of his opponents had a wealth of experience over him before joining the UFC.

Ortega’s UFC debut was a little more anticipated. He was supposed to fight TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao in his debut, however, Diego withdrew, and Brian was also taken off the card due to how late the injury occurred. Two months later he came in and steamrolled Mike De La Torre and got a rear naked choke victory in under two minutes. It was soon overturned due to a failed drug test, he got a nine-month suspension and came back a little over ten months later to fight a long time veteran Thiago Tavares in a tough back and forth war before getting the finish late in round three by TKO.

His next three fights looked pretty similar, back and forth wars until he stops them, submitting two high-level black belts Diego Brandao, and Renato Moicano and KO’ing the very durable Clay Guida with a beautifully timed knee with only 20 seconds left on the clock.

After his four third-round finishes, he submits another BJJ black belt in Cub Swanson in round 2, then shocks the world with his first-round KO of the modern day MMA Rocky, Frankie Edgar, becoming the first man to ever stop him.

Max Holloway’s UFC career was a little rockier at the start, after losing his debut, he wins three in a row before his next loss. At 7-1 he goes in to fight TUF 14 finalist Dennis Bermudez, and loses a very tough split decision.

I for one didn’t understand how two judges gave that fight to Bermudez, and still don’t. Then he fought Conor McGregor and lost a unanimous decision in a fight both guys got injured in.

Since then, he hasn’t lost a fight and is on a 12 fight win streak with 9 finishes.

The fight that really let us know he’s a top level elite fighter was when he stepped in to fight Cub Swanson, most thought it was too early for a top guy like that; he passed with flying colours and dominated him up until the late submission win.

Three fights and three wins later, he fought former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis for the interim featherweight championship and became the first person to ever finish him. He then unified the title with Jose Aldo, winning via TKO in round 3, then rematched him and had the same result. People talk about T-City’s third round finishes, but Max actually has more, he has six, Ortega has five, four in the UFC. Ortega has some of the most opportunistic and skilful BJJ any of us have ever seen, and an ever improving stand up game.

When asked about his cardio, his coach Rener Gracie said his cardio isn’t really the best, not that it’s bad but he does get tired, he just knows how long is left on the clock and knows what he needs to do to get the finish. I’d say aside from the Jose Aldo vs Chad Mendes fights, Aldo vs Conor, and Aldo vs Holloway, this is the highest level match up featherweight has ever had.

Both guys are so elite at what they do, it’s going to be a war! We just need to pray that these next few days go accordingly for Max.

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC 231 Edition

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The UFC is back in Toronto this weekend, the same place where Max Holloway won the interim belt on his way to becoming featherweight champion. Holloway will take on the undefeated Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega, who was originally scheduled to face Holloway back in July at UFC 226 before Holloway was pulled from the fight due to ‘concussion-like symptoms’. The co-headliner will crown the women’s flyweight champion, after Nicco Montaño was stripped of the title back in September. Valentina Shevchenko will face former strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in which many, (including myself) consider a superfight. The card is rounded out with the return of Gunnar Nelson, a fantastic light heavyweight bout between Jimi Manuwa and Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos and possibly the next flyweight title challenger bout in Katlyn Chookagian versus Jessica Eye.

Kicking off the FS1 prelims, lightweights Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Gilbert Burns were rebooked after Burns was deemed medically unsafe to fight at UFC on FOX 28 in February. OAM was riding a four-fight win streak before losing to Alexander Hernandez at UFC on FOX 30 in July. Burns had a small win streak of his own before being stopped by Dan Hooker at UFC 226. Burns, who is a 2nd degree BJJ black belt, has been finding his hands as of late. Burns last two wins have come by way of devastating knockout, to Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. OAM on the other hand, scored his first TKO finish at UFC 223 against Evan Dunham; his other eight finishes have come by submission (seven by rear-naked choke). It will be interesting to see if Burns will try to use his power to get Aubin-Mercier out of there, or take it to the ground, which can result in a grappling clinic. My pick: Burns via submission

The fight that follows is one that carries some animosity. Erik ‘Ya Boi’ Anders had called out Canada’s own Elias Theodorou after his win against Tim Williams at UFC Fight Night 135 in August; but in September, Anders answered the short notice call and moved up to light heavyweight to face Thiago Santos in Brazil; a fight that didn’t go his way but was fight of the night nonetheless. Anders says this fight is ‘just business’, but Theodorou plans to show him there’s levels to MMA and ‘break’ him ‘mentally and physically.’ Anders was the first ever LFA middleweight champion before getting his call to the UFC. Anders’ only two losses in 13 professional fights were in Brazil to legend Lyoto Machida and LHW Santos. Elias Theodorou, the Ultimate Fighter: Nations winner, has gone 7-2 over his UFC career, but has been known to take the safe approach in fights, only scoring two finishes in those contests. Regardless, he has victories over notables Sam Alvey, Cezar Ferreira, Dan Kelly and most recently Trevor Smith back in May. I’m curious to see how Anders will approach this fight, and if he will fall into Theodorou’s pace. My pick: Anders

Up next is a potential women’s flyweight #1 contender fight. Katlyn ‘Blonde Fighter’ Chookagian takes on Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye. Chookagian went 2-1 as a bantamweight before returning to flyweight and has won two straight against Mara Romero Borella and Alexis Davis. Jessica Eye is on a two-fight win streak of her own since moving to flyweight, taking out Kalindra Faria and Jessica-Rose Clark. Eye had a rough and frustrating bantamweight run, going 1-5 with a couple split decision losses and a no contest due to testing positive for marijuana (a fight which she won). Now back at her natural weight of 125, Eye believes the flyweight title will be hers eventually. This is a very hard fight to predict, as Eye should have the upper hand in the stand-up, Chookagian is a BJJ brown belt under master Renzo Gracie. My pick: Chookagian’s height and reach will be the difference maker

Gunnar Nelson hasn’t fought since UFC Fight Night 113 in July of 2017. The result of that fight was KO loss to title challenger hopeful Santiago Ponzinibbio. Nelson was poked in the eye moments before the knockout, but nonetheless it marked the third loss on his UFC record. Nelson came into the UFC riding a nine-fight win streak and continued that with four straight UFC wins before dropping a split decision to Rick Story in his first main event. Nelson was scheduled to face Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 130 in May, but withdrew with an injury. Now he’s scheduled to face Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira, who’s riding a two-fight win streak and only has one loss in his last eight bouts. ‘Cowboy’ has beat the likes of former Bellator champ Will Brooks, Tim Means, Ryan LaFlare and former interim champ Carlos Condit. Oliveira has been more active than Nelson, but Nelson has spent this camp in his homeland of Iceland, instead of SBG Ireland, and has added some power lifting to his training, as you can see here. If ring rust is a real thing, Nelson might have trouble with Oliveira, who excels on both the ground and stand-up, while Nelson is primarily a grappler who has added a lot of strength to his game so it seems. My pick: Gunnar Nelson is back, and is going to put the welterweight division on notice

One of the fights I’m most looking forward to Saturday is the light heavyweight showdown between heavy hitters Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa and Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos. Jimi Manuwa was at one point in contention for a title shot after flooring Ovince Saint Preux and Corey Anderson in back-to-back fights, but losses to Volkan Oezdemir and Jan Blachowicz stalled that. Thiago Santos moved up to light heavyweight for his last bout, a win against Eryk Anders. Santos had won five of six fights before that at middleweight, finishing opponents in four straight; three ending with kicks, including title challenger hopeful Anthony Smith. Santos adds some new blood to the light heavyweight division, and Manuwa is looking to get back on track. One thing is for sure, someone is going to sleep, most likely early. My pick: Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos by KO

Valentina Shevchenko holds three wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Those wins are in amateur kickboxing bouts dating back to 2008. 10 years later these two will meet again for the vacant women’s flyweight championship. Shevchenko had a crack at the bantamweight title about a year ago, but couldn’t seem to figure out champion Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko then moved to the flyweight division in February with an absolute dismantling of newcomer Priscila Cachoeira, a fight that should have been stopped way earlier. Shevchenko was set to face former champion Nicco Montaño, but Montaño’s weight cut issues came up again and the fight was called off, and eventually Montaño was stripped. Long-reigning strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her title five times before losing it to Rose Namajunas, but she bounced back in July with a win over Tecia Torres. When an opportunity came up to book Shevchenko and Joanna, two of the UFC’s best strikers, it was a no brainer. After a main event failed to materialize at UFC 230, Shevchenko was briefly linked to fight Sijara Eubanks for the vacant title at that event, but luckily the original fight got back on track when a main event was found. This is going to be a very entertaining fight not to be missed, and I’m curious to see if Shevchenko’s ground game will come into play at all. My pick: Shevchenko

The main event for UFC 231 was supposed to happen in July at UFC 226 but during fight week Max Holloway was showing signs of ‘concussion-like symptoms‘ and was taken to the hospital, subsequently calling the fight off. Holloway seems to be healthy now, and one of the most anticipated featherweight title fights in history will finally happen. Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega is an undefeated BJJ black belt under Rener Gracie who has run through the competition in front of him including Diego Brandão, Clay Guida, Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson and most recently former champion Frankie Edgar. Ortega is up for the challenge and wants to prove he’s ready to be a champion, but Max Holloway has an amazing résumé of his own. After losing to a just-getting-started Conor McGregor, Holloway has been on a 12-fight win streak, with names like Andre Fili, Cole Miller, Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas on his win list. Holloway then won the interim title against Anthony Pettis in Toronto, so being back in the place it all started after beating Jose Aldo for the title then defending it in the rematch, has to be pretty special for Max. Ortega says he is weary of Max’s health issues leading up to fight week, but all signs point to a great matchup between a striker and a grappler. My pick: Ortega pulls off the upset

UFC 231: Holloway Vs. Ortega begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:00PM ET/3:00PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the PPV portion of the card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

 

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – March

Brian Ortega becomes the first fighter to stop Frankie Edgar inside the cage @ UFC 222 on March 3rd

Alexander Hernandez upsets Beneil Dariush @ UFC 222 on March 3rd

Danny Roberts crumples Oliver Enkamp @ UFC Fight Night: London on March 17th

Milana Dudieva finishes Christina Marks with an overhand right @ Invicta FC 28 on March 24th

Jamall Emmers drops Guilherme Faria and finishes him off on the ground @ LFA 36 on March 23rd

Adrian Yanez floors Nathan Trepagnier with quick left and right hooks @ LFA 35 on March 8th

Report: UFC lightweight elite set to clash as McGregor vs. Poirier II and Khabib vs. Ferguson targeted

It seems 2019 will bring some clarity to the very top of the UFC lightweight rankings with promotion president, Dana White eyeing two high profile clashes among the top three contenders. Continue reading “Report: UFC lightweight elite set to clash as McGregor vs. Poirier II and Khabib vs. Ferguson targeted”

Live Results: The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale

Friday, November 30th 2018 – The UFC has it’s 28th Ultimate Fighter Finale to crown their 36th and 37th Ultimate Fighters, this time in the Heavyweight and Women’s Featherweight divisions.

We have Juan Espino Dieppa (8-1) vs. Justin Frazier (10-2) and Macy Chiasson (2-0) vs. Pannie Kianzad (11-3) battling it out for their respective place in The Ultimate Fighter history.

Along with a stellar welterweight main event in Rafael dos Anjos (28-10) vs Kamaru Usman (13-1) and other intriguing fights top to bottom. The results will be updated as they happen below:

Main Card: FS1

  • Kamaru Usman def. Rafael dos Anjos via UD
  • Juan Espino Dieppa def. Justin Frazier via Submission (Round 1)
  • Macy Chiasson def. Pannie Kianzad via Submission (Round 2)
  • Pedro Munhoz def. Bryan Caraway via TKO (Round 1)
  • Edmen Shahbazyan def. Darren Stewart via SD
  • Antonina Shevchenko def. Ji Yeon Kim via UD

Prelims: FS1

  • Kevin Aguilar def. Rick Glenn via UD
  • Joseph Benavidez def. Alex Perez via KO (Round 1)
  • Maurice Greene def. Michel Batista via Submission (Round 1)
  • Leah Leston def. Julija Stoliarenko via SD

Prelims: FightPass

  • Roosevelt Roberts def. Darrell Horcher via Submission (Round 1)
  • Tim Means def. Ricky Rainey via TKO (Round 1)
  • Raoni Barcelos def. Chris Gutierrez via Submission (Round 2)

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Adelaide Edition – Sodiq Yusuff & Kai Kara-France

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The UFC returns to Adelaide, Australia for the second time in the promotion’s history this Saturday for UFC Fight Night 141: dos Santos Vs. Tuivasa. Two highly touted fighters will be making their anticipated UFC debuts this weekend, ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff and Kai ‘Don’t Blink’ Kara-France.

Sodiq Yusuff, who trains out of Team Lloyd Irvin, is a 7-1 prospect who most recently picked up a contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series against Mike Davis. That fight was one of the best of the season, as both fighters went at it early, but Yusuff’s movement, power and calf kicks wound up being the deciding factor. You can check out the full fight hereYusuff is set to take on fellow newcomer and undefeated Syndey, Australia native Suman Mokhtatrian. Yusuff is one of the bigger featherweights in the division that’s going to be a fun addition to the UFC.

New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France was part of season 24 of the Ultimate Fighter back in 2016 when they were searching for a challenger to the flyweight title. The former Bragging Rights Fights champion carried a 12-6 record with 7 knockouts into the season, defeating Terrance Mitchell in the opening round before dropping a decision to current UFC fighter Alexandre Pantoja. Since his run on the Ultimate Fighter, Kara-France has won five straight, and will finally get his chance in the UFC. Kara-France will be matched up against Roufusport’s Elias Garcia, who lost his debut back in July.

UFC Fight Night: dos Santos Vs. Tuivasa begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 7:00PM ET/4:00PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

Report: UFC close to finalizing Raphael Assuncao Vs. Marlon Moraes 2 for UFC Fortaleza main event

UFC officials are close to finalizing a rematch between top-ranked title challengers Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes according to ESPN. This bout will take place on the promotion’s second ESPN+ event in Fortaleza, Brazil in February.

Raphael Assuncao has been calling for a title shot since his victory over Rob Font at UFC 226 in July. Assuncao is riding a four-fight win steak, with one of those wins coming over Marlon Moraes which took place last summer at UFC 212. Assuncao is an eight-year vet of the UFC and is not one to call out fighters, he just wants the respect he’s earned, and addressed that after his last victory.

Marlon Moraes is the former World Series Of Fighting bantamweight champion before making the jump to the UFC. Moraes has gone 3-1 in his time with the UFC, his only loss coming against Assuncao. Moraes has also been calling for a title shot after devastating finishes to Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera.

This rematch will have high stakes. It’s hard to argue that the winner of this fight doesn’t get a title shot. Assuncao could finally get his first crack at UFC gold and Moraes can get revenge on top of a chance to add another title to his résumé. Current champion T.J. Dillashaw has the division on hold for the moment as he is challenging flyweight champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 233 in January.

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters Edition

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters is the last season that will air on FS1 before moving over to ESPN next year. Title challenger hopefuls Kamaru Usman and Rafael dos Anjos will headline the event, which will feature a new heavyweight and women’s featherweight Ultimate Fighter champion. Underdog Justin Frazier will try to continue his Cinderella story to become like his coach and win after being picked last, but he has to get through Juan Francisco Dieppa. Invicta FC vets Pannie Kianzad and Macy Chiasson will battle it out for the women.

Former World Series Of Fighting featherweight champion Rick Glenn will take on former LFA featherweight champion, Kevin Aguilar. Rick Glenn is coming off a split decision win against vet Dennis Bermudez after going 2-2 in his UFC career. Kevin Aguilar picked up a win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but did not pick up a contract. After a scheduled matchup between Gilbert Melendez and Arnold Allen fell through, Glenn was scheduled to face Allen before Aguilar stepped in on short notice. Aguilar is 15-1 and carries a seven-fight win streak into the contest. Aguilar captured the featherweight title in LFA by knocking out Thanh Le back in May. Aguilar looked sluggish on DWTNCS and barely walked away with the decision, while Glenn is coming into this bout with confidence in picking up his second straight win. My pick: Glenn by decision

The sister of current flyweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina Shevchenko makes her much anticipated debut against short-notice replacement Ji Yeon Kim. Shevchenko went 5-0 before headlining Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series at the end of June and impressed with a dominant 2nd-round TKO of Jaymee Nievara. Shevchenko is also a reported 39-1 in the world of kickboxing. Ji Yeon Kim is taking this fight on short notice after picking up her second straight win back in June. Kim is 2-1 in the UFC with wins coming over Justine Kish and Melinda Fábián. This seems like a mismatch and should be Shevchenko’s fight to lose. My pick: Shevchenko by finish

One of the most intriguing fights of the night should be between Pedro Munhoz and Bryan Caraway. Pedro Munhoz was on a four-fight win streak, taking out talent such as Russell Doane, Justin Scoggins, Damian Stasiak and Rob Font before losing a split decision to John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 119 back in March (a fight in which I thought he won). Munhoz bounced back in August with a win over Brett Johns. Bryan Caraway returned in March after a two year absence, and lost a split decision to Cody Stamann (another fight in which I thought it should have went the other way). Caraway was in talks for a title shot before injuries sidelined him and the title picture became more complicated. This has all the makings for a fight of the night, especially if Munhoz can stop Caraway’s ground game and keep the fight standing, though Munhoz is no slouch on the ground. I believe Pedro Munhoz will be title challenger in 2019, and it starts here. My pick: Munhoz

Invicta FC vet Pannie Kianzad was riding a two-fight win streak before joining the Ultimate Fighter, where she will face Macy Chiasson in the finale Friday. Chiasson only has two professional fights to her résumé and has also fought under the Invicta banner. Chiasson advanced with a TKO win over Leah Letson. Kianzad holds wins over current UFC fighters Milana Dudieva and Jessica-Rose Clark, but hit a bit of a rough patch with three straight losses from 2015 to 2018, one of those being UFC bantamweight Tonya Evinger. Kianzad has been riding high since her May win over Bianca Diamoni, but Chiasson will have a healthy height and reach advantage. This should be a good scrap. My pick: Pannie Kianzad will be the new Ultimate Fighter

Kamaru Usman has been calling for a title shot for a while now. Currently riding a 12-fight win streak, the Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team Vs. Blackzilians winner has taken out Hayder Hassan, Leon Edwards, Warlley Alves, Sean Strickland, Sérgio Moraes, Emil Meek and most recently BJJ ace Demian Maia along the way. It looks like this bout will determine who will face the winner of Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington. Rafael dos Anjos is coming off a loss to Covington, who controlled RDA roughly throughout the entire fight. RDA was riding a three-fight win streak before that bout, taking out former champion Robbie Lawler. It’s hard to see this fight playing out any differently than RDA’s last fight, as Usman has all the tools to capture the welterweight title if and when he gets his shot. My pick: future champ, Usman

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Heavy Hitters begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.