UFC 255 Main Event and Co-Main Event Preview, Odds, and Predictions!
We have 2 titles on the line Saturday night, so there will be a lot at stake. Fight fans have been blessed this year with insane matchups and fight cards, so UFC 255 seems like a letdown for a paper view show. But, that doesn't mean we can't make some picks and enjoy the fights.
Mens Flyweight Championship (125): Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1-0) vs Alex Perez (24-5-0)
This Flyweight championship fight was supposed to be a matchup against Cody Garbrandt, but due to an injury, the champ Figueiredo has a new opponent in Perez. Figueiredo is the new star of the Flyweight division with Triple C, Henry Cejudo, retiring from MMA. He's only lost one time in his career and it was to Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision in March 2019. Since then, he's been on a tear with 4 straight wins over Joseph Benavidez, Tim Elliott, and Alexandre Pantoja. He's coming off back-to-back dominating performances over Benavidez where he stopped him twice to solidify himself as the king of the division. Now, his next challenge is Perez, who actually finished Formiga in his last fight. However, MMA math doesn't work like that and Figueiredo is still the more well-rounded fighter. Aside from his black belt in BJJ, he has finished 50% of his victories by KO/TKO and has turned into a vicious KO artist. He will have a 2.5 inch reach advantage in this fight and will utilize the extra reach to pick his shots. But, Figueiredo isn't a high volume striker as he only has a low rate of 2.43 significant strikes per minute.
Perez is a relatively new contender in the Flyweight division at just 28 years old, but he has already earned himself a title shot after going on a 3 fight win streak. Perez comes from a wrestling background as he's an All-American, but he has sharpened his striking throughout his career. His last fight was a KO/TKO victory over Formiga where he finished him with leg kicks. He's a volume striker and lands on average 4.69 significant strikes per minute, but he also absorbs 3.27 per minute, which is dangerous when you're facing a power puncher. Perez's path to victory in this fight may be to take Figueiredo down early and often to tire him out. He will need to take the champ into the championship rounds if he has any chance of winning. Despite Figueiredo having a lot of flashy KO's to his name, he's still a devastating finisher on the ground as well. Perez has lost 3 out of his 5 career losses by submission and I can see a scenario where he gets rocked and Figueiredo catches him in a submission on top. Figueiredo is the favourite in this fight so I will take him to win straight up, but my risky pick is the juicy +395 submission prop.
Prediction: Figueiredo (-280)
Bulldogs Risky Pick: Figueiredo by Submission (+395)
Women Flyweight Championship (125): Valentina Shevchenko (19-3-0) vs Jennifer Maia (18-6-1)
Who will be the one to de-throne Shevchenko? Maia believes she has the tools to do it, but the rest of the world doesn't think so. Shevchenko is a MASSIVE favourite in this fight and would be one of the largest upsets ever if she lost. However, it's a fight and anything could happen. Maia is 3-2 in her last 5 fights and recently defeated Joanne Calderwood in August 2020 with a armbar submission. Before that fight, she lost to top contender Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision. Maia's resume isn't very impressive, but she has proven that she can win anywhere the fight goes. Of her 18 wins, Maia has won 4 by KO/TKO, 5 by submission, and 9 by decision. She has a black belt in BJJ and Muay Thai, but she prefers to keep the fight standing as she has 0 takedowns on average per 15 minutes in the UFC. She may have to change her strategy in this fight because her path to victory is most likely a submission finish.
Shevchenko's resume and fighting style speaks for itself. She is a master of sport in Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, Boxing, AND Kickboxing. It just seems like she has the advantage in every aspect of the fight against her opponents of late, and I don't see how Maia can post any issues in this fight. Shevchenko will have a 3 inch reach advantage, so Maia will need to close the distance on the feet to avoid the superior striking of Shevchenko. The champ is on a 5 fight win streak with impressive wins over Priscila Cachoeira, Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Jessica Eye, Liz Carmouche, and Katlyn Chookagian. Also, 2 out of the 3 losses in her career have come to the female 'GOAT,' Amanda Nunes, so Shevchenko is still one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters of all time. With that being said, we should see another highlight reel finish added to Shevchenko list on Saturday night, so let's take her to win easily and by a KO/TKO finish.
Prediction: Shevchenko (-1600)
Bulldogs Risky Pick: Shevchenko by KO/TKO (-135)