UFC is back this weekend with Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira headlining a compelling and exciting card including a heavyweight showdown between veteran Andrei Arlovski and up-and-comer Tanner Boser as well as a high-profile matchup between Raoni Barcelos and the heavy-hitting Khalid Taha.
Here’s a breakdown of the full card as we head into the weekend’s action.
Max Griffin (-152) vs. Ramiz Brahimaj (+125) – 170
We’ve got a strength-on-strength matchup here as Ramiz Brahimaj has seen all eight of his wins come by way of submission while Max Griffin has never been submitted in his pro career. However, Griffin has rarely faced as talented a wrestler as Bahimaj. Expect younger Brahimaj to come out strong in the opening rounds and take control of this match early, and get the win against Griffin, who’s lost four of his last five matches.
Pick: Ramiz Brahimaj (+125)
Darren Elkins (-227) vs. Eduardo Garagorri (+187)
Eduardo Garagorri’s lackluster takedown defense gives Darren Elkins has quite an easy path to victory in this fight. Garagorri is a strong striker and could pose problems for Elkins if he stands and strikes for too long, but if Elkins goes after Garagorri early and often and lands a few takedowns, he should cruise to victory in this one, perhaps even by submission.
Pick: Darren Elkins (-227)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (+250) vs. Alexander Romanov (-333)
There’s a reason why Alexander Romanov is undefeated in his professional career, and it’s because he is an absolutely dominant wrestler who lands takedowns with easy against 260-pound heavyweights. That’s a matchup nightmare for Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who really struggles in takedown defense. Romanov is going to get de Lima on the ground early in this match and the fight should be over shortly after.
Pick: Alexander Romanov (-333)
Trevin Giles (-110) vs. Bevon Lewis (-110)
This fight is the tossup of the day, and the near even odds reflect that. Both fighters have identical 3-2 records in their last two matches and both have flashed at times but have also had recent struggles in matches they should have won. At the end of the day, Trevin Giles is the more talented and versatile fighter who simply has more paths to victory, so he has to be the pick to win over Bevon Lewis.
Pick: Trevin Giles (-110)
Giga Chikadze (-556) vs. Jamey Simmons (+400)
Giga Chikadze is a massive favorite in this match against Jamey Simmons, and for good reason. Chikadze is the better and more versatile fighter who also has a massive height and reach advantage against Simmons. This isn’t a matter of if Chikadze is going to win, but more a matter of how as he has a number of paths to victory ahead of him in this match and should overwhelm Simmons from the start.
Pick: Giga Chikadze (-556)
Claudia Gadelha (+110) vs. Yan Xiaonan (-139)
This match could go either way with Claudia Gadelha’s wrestling ability and Yan Xiaonan’s striking ability. However, in recent fights, Gadelha’s seemed timid and reluctant to go for takedowns and has seemed to slow down as the fight goes on. Gadelha could strike first with a first-round takedown, but expect Yan to pull away in the latter stages of the fight.
Pick: Yan Xiaonan (-139).
Ian Heinisch (-111) vs. Brenden Allen (-111)
This should be a good fight between two fairly evenly matched opponents, but Brenden Allen enters this match with a few distinct advantages over Ian Heinisch. Allen is a strong grappler against Heinisch, who struggles with takedown defense, and even though Heinisch is the better strike, Allen has the height and reach advantage to help negate that.
Pick: Brenden Allen (-111)
Raoni Barcelos (-357) vs. Khalid Taha (+275)
This match could be closer than the line indicates as Khalid Taha is a strong striker who can finish a fight quickly if given the opportunity, but Raoni Barcelos has a pretty clear path to victory in this fight if he goes for takedowns. Taha’s takedown defense is questionable and if Barcelos can take him down early and wok his ground-and-pound, he should pull out a victory with relative ease.
Pick: Raoni Barcelos (-357)
Andrei Arlovski (+225) vs. Tanner Boser (-278)
In a match between the 41-year-old Andrei Arlovski at the back end of his career and the young 29-year-old Tanner Boser, you have to give the edge to the young gun. Boser may be more of a volume fighter than a big finisher, but half of his fights do end in a knockout, including his previous two. Going against an opponent in Arlovski who’s been knocked out 12 times in his career, this may be headed towards a big finish in favor of Boser.
Pick: Boser (-278)
Thiago Santos (-250) vs. Glover Teixeira (+200)
Thiago Santos may be the better and faster fighter in this matchup, but Glover Teixeira is the more versatile fighter with more paths to victory in this match. Teixeira is the decidedly better grappler and if he can get a takedown, Santos could be in a lot of trouble by way of either submission or ground-and-pound. Even if the fighters stay upright, Teixeira is more than capable of trading strikes as well. Teixeira is the underdog, but this should be a much more even match than the odds suggest, especially with Santos coming off a couple of major injuries and a long layoff since his last fight in July of 2019. Teixeira will be the more polished and better fighter in this one.
Pick: Glover Teixeira (+200)