Max’s Predictions – 6/12

All Time Predictions – 39-68

I’m back at it again folks. Sorry for the delay on this one, good ol’ Tequila filled weekend pushed my deadline back a few days, but per usual I’ve got some fresh matchups from last weeks Fight Island here. Let’s dive in

Serghei Spivac- Sergei Pavlovich

After a technical opening to his fight, capped by dominating his 3rd round against Carlos Felipe, Serghei Spivac (11-2 Career, 2-2 UFC) welcomed an undefeated hot prospect in the UFC with an excellent performance. While he is only 2-2 in the organization, his two losses have come by the hands of strong heavyweights Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura.

I like him next vs Sergei Pavlovich (14-1 Career, 2-1 UFC). Pavlovich may seem to be too much competition for Spivac at the moment, but if he can maintain the technical composure and consistency he showed against Felipe, he will be sure to compete well against Pavlovich.

Carlos Felipe – Yorgan De Castro

It was a tough bout for UFC newcomer Carlos Felipe (8-1 Career, 0-1 UFC). He struggled to get his bombs away game plan going, and the ground game of Spivac was too much to handle in the third round. Even though he dropped his first fight in the UFC, I love his bulldog attitude and fighting style.

Because of that, I’d like to see him against another power puncher in Yorgan De Castro (6-1 Career, 1-1 UFC). They both have one loss on the careers, both are coming off that loss and it would be immediate fireworks. This is the type of bombs away fight that would bring casual and hardcore fans to their feet.

Arman Tsarukyan – Gregor Gillespie

Arman Tsarukyan (15-2 Career, 2-1 UFC) shocked the hell out of me with his performance Saturday. He not only won every round clear cut against Davi Ramos, he did what I thought no one in the UFC could do, take him down, avoid submissions and win rounds on the ground. I think Tsarukyan is a LOT better then we all even know, and that’s why I think he should have a big jump in competition in his next fight.

For that reason I’d like to see him against Gregor Gillespie (13-1 Career, 6-1 UFC). Gillespie was skyrocketing up the lightweight division until he ran into the freight train that was Kevin Lee in November. He hasn’t fought since that loss, and I am compelled to see how Tsarukyan can handle the college level wrestling Gillespie brings, see if he can still keep his game plan and push into the UFC rankings.

Amir Albazi – Mario Bautista

Amir Albazi (13-1 Career, 1-0 UFC) looked spectacular in his Octagon debut against Malcolm Gordon. He was excellent with is ground control, calm under pressure and secured a beautiful triangle choke. He was making his debut against another fighter in his debut, so it would be nice to see him against a fighter with a bit more experience next.

I like him against Mario Bautista next (8-1 Career, 2-1 UFC) Both of these fighters are still on the rise, and with Bautista’s only loss to Cory Sandhagen, a win over him would be a huge push forward for Albazi.

Malcolm Gordon – Aiemann Zahabi

It was a tough night for Canadian Malcom Gordon (12-4 Career, 0-1 UFC) who, like many men before him, fell short in their first UFC bout. Albazi fought him tough, and didn’t get a real chance to showcase his skills.

If he sticks around in the UFC, I think he should take on fellow Canadian Aiemann Zahabi (7-2 Career, 1-2 UFC). Younger brother of world class trainer Firas Zahabi, he hasn’t really put it all together inside the UFC yet, a scrap with Malcolm Gordon could be a good opportunity for him, and real solid name recognition for Gordon.

Brett Johns – Rob Font

Brett Johns (17-2 Career, 5-2 UFC) was absolutely tested to his limits against Montel Jackson on Fight Island Saturday. Johns was rocked early and had a hard time keeping Jackson pinned to the mat, but takedown persistence and grit got him in front on the judges scorecards. Johns is right on the bubble of being a ranked bantamweight in the UFC, and I think a fighter who is in that position coming off a win can be a good fit for him.

That’s why I want to see him against Rob Font (17-4 Career, 7-3 UFC). Font is a well rounded fighter who can get aggressive off his back and submit you, but if Johns can not secure a takedown he is deadly on his feet too. A good test for either fighter and a great fight for fans.

Montel Jackson – Said Nurmagomedov 

While things didn’t go in a favorable direction for Montel Jackson (9-2 Career, 3-2 UFC) Saturday night, he had great moments in the fight and hung tough against the majority of Brett Johns grappling onslaught. He has great power, long and lean and a brilliant outside striker. I’m not sure if the UFC is looking to book him against a fighter who is more willing to stand right in front of him, but I think he has potential to still take on some of the UFC’s well rounded bantamweight talent.

I want to see him against Said Nurmagomedov (13-2 Career, 2-1 UFC) next. Many know Nurmagomedov as the cousin of UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but he has made a name for himself as a top prospect. Nurmagomedov is coming off a loss for in his most recent fight to Raoni Barcelos, so he would be a well rounded exciting partner in the cage for Jackson.

Joel Alvarez – Mark Madsen 

Joel Alvarez (17-2 Career, 2-1 UFC) made quick work of Joe Duffy, sinking in his fourth career guillotine choke in the very first round. Alvarez has now won back to back bouts, and an elevation in competition is due for the 27 year old submission specialist.

I’m not entirely sure what the UFC wants to do with Mark Madsen (10-0 Career, 2-0 UFC) yet. The Olympic wrestler is already 35 years old and the UFC May fast track a man with his kind of talent. If they decide to be more patient though, I think Alvarez is a perfect test for Madsen. Joel Alvarez can get taken down and win off his back, and Madsen having to deal with this element is wildly entertaining. 

Joe Duffy – CONFIRMED RETIREMENT 

After losing early via guillotine choke, Irish lightweight Joe Duffy (16-5 Career, 4-4 UFC) announced that he is going to be walking away from MMA and pursuing a different career path. 

Duffy came into the UFC with a standout 12-1 record, including a win over Conor McGregor in the Cage Warriors promotion in the year 2010. Duffy won his first 4 of 5 in the UFC (only loss to Dustin Poirier), he seemed to be a rising lightweight, but has struggled recently, dropping his last three straight.

If he decides he wants to come back, Austin Hubbard (12-4 Career, 2-2 UFC) could be an appropriate option, otherwise, thanks for a great career Mr. Duffy, sad to see you go.

Grant Dawson – Sodiq Yusuff 

Grant Dawson (15-1 Career, 4-0 UFC) is taking no prisoners in his UFC tenure. After smashing Nad Narimani on Saturday, he keeps surging as one of the UFC’s hottest prospects and I expect a massive jump in competition soon. He is well rounded, freakishly strong and has good conditioning, but this fight was at a 150 lbs catchweight and he has struggled to make weight at featherweight, making it hard to gauge where his future lies.

If he sticks around at featherweight, I’d like to see him take on fellow rising star Sodiq Yusuff (11-1 Career, 5-0 UFC) next. Yusuff has smashed through the featherweight division as of late, and is unbeaten in his UFC run like Dawson. That battle would be a perfect opportunity for the victor to launch forward in their career against the contender level of competition. 

Nad Narimani – Julian Erosa

Nad Narimani (12-4 Career, 2-2 UFC) struggled with Grant Dawson imposing his will on him for three rounds and didn’t really show what he is capable of, but he did show he was tough as nails and in other fights he has looked good. He has lost back to back though, and a win will make sure he stays in the organization. 

Julian Erosa (24-8 Career, 2-4 UFC) would be a fight that would make sense. He is coming off back to back wins, but his level of competition hasn’t been five star in the UFC. A win over Narimani could blast him toward fights he wants. 

Roman Dolidze – Jamahal Hill

I love fighters like Roman Dolidze (7-0 Career, 1-0 UFC). I love the dont give a fuck, big bodied big powered tanks who get the job done early. A massive way to win in a UFC debut, a staggering knockout in a popularity shallow division, I can see the UFC really pushing him hard and I wouldn’t mind that at all. 

How about another standout at 205 like Jamahal Hill (8-0 Career, 2-0 UFC). Both men are undefeated, great athletes, and could really cement their place at the top of 205 lbs. 

Khadis Ibragimov – Release from the UFC

I like Khadis Ibragimov (8-3 Career, 0-3 UFC) but I think he needs a little time outside of the UFC to develop his skills more. Ibragimov was a star in Russian promotion M-1, going 8-0 and winning their Light Heavyweight Title. Since signing with the UFC, he has dropped three fights straight including Dolidze, a UFC newcomer. Maybe some time back in M-1 or over to Bellator or the PFL to string wins together may be a better fit, if not I don’t have a great matchup for him besides another newcomer in the future.

Askar Askarov – Joseph Benavidez 

Following his close fight with Alexandre Pantoja, Russian rising star Askar Askarov (12-0-1 Career, 2-0-1 UFC) seems to be just shy of a title shot in his young career in the UFC. Had he destroyed Pantoja or stopped him early, I would probably campaign for it. However, it was a fight most people could have seen going either way on the scorecards. With a draw with top contender Brandon Moreno and two decision victories, I want to see Askarov make a statement against a top opponent.

After losing his title shot, Joseph Benavidez (28-7 Career, 20-7 UFC/WEC) seems like he would line up with Askarov well. While he has lost both his fights with Deiveson Figuieredo, he’s considered the next best flyweight in the world, and a great opportunity to set Askarov up for a title shot if he can manage a victory.

Alexandre Pantoja – Alex Perez 

I think that Alexandre Pantoja (22-5 Career, 6-3 UFC) won a close fight on Saturday, but that is not the way the judges had it. The shame about this is, if Pantoja would have won, I’m almost certain they would have given him a rematch with Figuieredo for the championship. However, a loss is a loss, and now losing two of his last three he is back to the drawing board.

After beating top flyweight Jussier Formiga, 28 year old Alex Perez (24-5 Career, 6-1 UFC) has been on a rampage in the octagon. Winning 6 of 7 (only loss to Benavidez) and three wins since his loss, I think a match between Pantoja and him will establish who belongs in the top 5 at 125 lbs.

Ariane Lipski – Sabina Mazo

If violent submissions run you the wrong way, Ariana Lipski’s (13-5 Career, 2-2 UFC) violent kneebar Saturday probably wasn’t your favorite highlight. Lipski looked outstanding and took home a performance bonus. Winning back to back fights in the UFC for the first time, Lipski seems to be developing some momentum and have zero reservations about her ability to move hard up the ladder for her next opponent.

While Sabina Mazo (8-1 Career, 2-1 UFC) has an optically better record than Lipski, I like the matchup and where they both stand in the flyweight division. They both have back to back wins in the UFC, both young and on the rise, I would like to see how they’d fair against each other at this stage.

Luana Carolina – Yanan Wu

After getting caught in a violent kneebar courtesy of Lipski, Luana Carolina (6-2 Career, 1-1 UFC) may be out of commission for a bit. I have no idea what her timetable to return is, but I’d go ahead and assume we aren’t going to see here until maybe December of this year.

I personally think they should get her in the cage with Yanan Wu (11-3 Career, 1-2 UFC) next. Carolina and Wu were booked to fight twice in 2019 but both bouts fell through. With both fighters coming off losses now, seeing them revisit this matchup in the future seems wise.

Rafael Fiziev – Khama Worthy

Make no mistake about it, I wasn’t just shocked that Rafael Fiziev (8-1 Career, 2-1 UFC) beat Marc Diakiese this past weekend, but shocked about how spectacular it was of a victory. Since his loss in his UFC debut in April of last year, Fiziev has certainly proven his worth recently, and his entertainment value aligns with his growing name.

So why not Khama Worthy (16-6 Career, 2-0)? Worthy shocked the MMA world similar to Fiziev after dismantling Luis Pena nearly a month ago. It would be a wild striking affair, very fan friendly.

Marc Diakiese- Joaquim Silva

British flashy striker Marc Diakiese (14-4 Career, 5-4 UFC) came into the UFC with tons of promise, but he has been entangled in some ups and downs of the grind in the big leagues. He came into the UFC undefeated and rattled off three straight before dropping three straight, now losing four of his last six. Far from hope lost though, Diakiese has been in there with some savages and is likely here to stay.

I’m thinking Brazilian slugged Joaquim Silva (11-2 Career, 4-2 UFC). Silva started just as hot in real UFC but has lost two of his last three, sharing a mutual loss with Diakiese in Nasrat Haqparast. Fun striking battle.

Jack Hermansson- loser of Till vs Whittaker this Saturday

Jack Hermansson (21-5 Career, 8-3 UFC) responded from his loss to Jared Cannonier in strong fashion winning a cemented decision against Kelvin Gastelum. Now winning five of his last six, he is firmly amongst the best middleweights and ready to be booked in a marquee matchup with a top dog.

I think the loser of Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till, the main event of the Fight Island finale is best for Hermansson. The winner of this fight will probably be directly in line or very close to a title shot, so Hermansson getting a shot at the fighter who falls short is a huge opportunity to drive into title contention. 

Kelvin Gastelum – loser of Weidman vs. Akhmedov in August

Kelvin Gastelum (15-6, 1 NC Career, 10-6, 1 NC UFC) is in a rough patch as of recently. While one of them was a close loss to Till, he has dropped three consecutive bouts and is losing leverage in his contender status. He needs a win against the best notable name he can get.

The best in that position would be the loser of Chris Weidman vs. Omari Akhmedov in August. Either fighter will be the best notable name he can fight, and if Weidman loses that is a loss that Gastelum can try to avenge, making for a great storyline. 

Deiveson Figuieredo- Brandon Moreno

After his show stopping destruction of Joseph Benavidez, Deiveson Figuieredo (19-1 Career, 8-1 UFC) is now undisputedly the best flyweight in the world with no asterisks or exceptions. Figueiredo has been pretty vocal about wanting a shot at the retired former champ Henry Cejudo, but he seems pretty locked into his life outside the cage barring any major financial pull to get him to return. 

So who is next? The rightful owner of the next title shot to me is Brandon Moreno (17-5-1 Career, 6-2-1 UFC). While Moreno has lost to Pantoja in his past, he is also 3-0-1 in his last four fights and has been stellar in those wins. He’s reckless, tough, and the best stance anyone has against Figuieredo’s KO power

Joseph Benavidez – Askar Askarov

Man, how can you not feel for Joseph Benavidez (28-7 Career, 20-7 UFC/WEC).?After coming up short in a mailing of a defeat, it now marks his third champion in which he has back to back losses. Arguably the best fighter of all time to never win a UFC Title, people are left wondering how much longer he will keep pushing forward. Many of his social media posts insinuate the end is near, and no matter what he chooses I hope he takes his time to evaluate.

If he chooses to stick around, I have mentioned earlier that I like him against Askarov. Askarov needs that huge win to bolster his career, and Benavidez wants to prove that he’s still got it despite the setback on Saturday. His career has been awesome to watch, no matter the path he takes.