UFC 270 predictions: Early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Ngannou vs. Gane

    Power battles precision inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., this Saturday (Jan. 22, 2022) when Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, squares off with unbeaten interim belt keeper, Ciryl Gane, in UFC 270’s main event. The ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature a trilogy match between Flyweight roost ruler Brandon Moreno and former champion Deiveson Figuereido, as well as a Welterweight slugfest pitting Michel Pereira against debuting knockout artist Andre Fialho.

    UFC 270 is sitting on nine “Prelims” undercard bouts at the moment, five of which air on ESPN+/Fight Pass. Let’s have a gander …

    LIVE! Watch UFC 270 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

    CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLEHEADER! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Jan. 22, 2022, for the first time in more than two years with a Heavyweight title unification bout that will see former teammates collide, as division kingpin, Francis Ngannou, battles interim counterpart, Ciryl Gane. In UFC 270’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, newly-minted Flyweight champion, Brandon Moreno, runs it back with former titleholder, Deiveson Figueiredo. IT’S A THRILLING CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE DIP YOU SIMPLY CAN’T MISS!

    Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

    135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Saimon Oliveira

    Tony Gravely (21-7) — a former CES champion and Contender Series graduate — racked up two post-fight bonuses during his 2-1 Octagon start. He looked poised to make it three against Nate Maness, but suffered a comeback knockout loss midway through the second round.

    Though the taller of the two by an inch, he gives up three inches of reach.

    Saimon Oliveira (18-3) brought a 9-1 run into the Contender Series, where he squared off with late replacement Jose Alday. Though he was forced to make a rare trip to the scorecards, a combination of heavy punches and regular takedowns earned him both a split decision and a UFC contract.

    His 16 finishes are split 11/5 between submissions and knockouts.

    Like many of his fights, this one boils down to Gravely’s cardio. Oliveira’s takedown defense let him down badly in his most recent loss to Ary Farias, and it wasn’t just his overall wrestling skill; he gave Farias easy access to his hips via naked kicks and unsafe blitzes. That’s easy pickings for a wrestler of Gravely’s caliber, meaning as long as his gas tank holds up, it’s Gravely’s fight to lose.

    If he slows down again, however, he’s in trouble. Oliveira is extremely difficult to finish, has solid timing with his counters, and sports a nasty guillotine, all of which could spell doom for Gravely in the deep waters. Still, the favorable style match up and Gravely’s edge in speed should let him dominate on the mat for a wide decision.

    Prediction: Gravely via unanimous decision

    170 lbs.: Michael Morales vs. Trevin Giles

    Michael Morales (12-0) — who debuted professionally at the age of 18 — ran through the Latin American scene to earn a spot on Contender Series in 2021. Despite entering his clash with Nikolay Veretennikov as an underdog, Morales’ wrestling and long-range striking carried him to a comfortable victory.

    He’ll enjoy a five-inch reach advantage.

    Trevin Giles (14-3) scored two impressive Octagon knockouts before leaving the sport for 18 months to pursue a career in law enforcement. “The Problem” is 3-3 since his return, including a recent knockout loss to Dricus Du Plessis that snapped a three-fight winning streak.

    This will be his Welterweight debut after nearly eight years as a professional Middleweight.

    This is a clash of burgeoning potential and unrealized potential. The 22-year-old Morales has a strong pedigree and some impressive physical gifts, but is clearly still developing. Giles, meanwhile, has underwhelmed since his hiatus, showing little of the power and fluidity that made him such a hot commodity in the first place.

    The momentum absolutely favors Morales, as does the fact that Giles is trying his hand at a new weight class. Still, Morales is a bit too green and untested to earn my vote. Sharper hands allow Giles to edge out a win.

    Prediction: Giles via split decision

    115 lbs.: Silvana Gomez Juarez vs. Vanessa Demopoulos

    These two were supposed to fight last week, but it got pushed back seven days for reasons unknown. Here’s the original writeup.

    Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-3) — whose only prior losses came against future UFC competitors Poliana Botelho and Ariane Lipski — rode a three-fight win streak into her short-notice UFC debut. The momentum wasn’t to last, as she succumbed to a first-round armbar from Lupita Godinez.

    She replaces the injured Ashley Yoder on two months’ notice.

    Vanessa Demopoulos (6-4) came up short against Cory McKenna on Contender Series, then lost her LFA title to the aforementioned Godinze her next time out. She returned to the win column by knocking out Cynthia Arceo, but couldn’t overcome J.J. Aldrich in her own short-notice Octagon debut.

    She has won three professional fights via submission.

    It really is heartbreaking to see someone as gutsy and technically adept as Demopoulos undone by one massive flaw. Though she’s extremely skilled on the ground and admirably aggressive on the feet, Demopoulos’ complete lack of wrestling chops force her to constantly fight in her opponents’ wheelhouses and rely on inconsistent quick-kills.

    That looks to doom her once again against Juarez. The Argentinean does leave herself open to takedowns by backing up to the fence and showed some submission vulnerabilities against Godinez, but Demopoulos lacks the skills to reliably take things to the mat. This leaves her at the mercy of Juarez’s faster, more powerful striking, which figures to carry Juarez to a comfortable win.

    Prediction: Juarez via unanimous decision

    155 lbs.: Matt Frevola vs. Genaro Valdez

    Matt Frevola (8-3-1) followed his successful Contender Series sting with a 2-1-1 Octagon start, including upset decisions over Jalin Turner and Luis Pena. He’s since dropped two straight, notably suffering a seven-second knockout loss to Terrance McKinney last time out.

    “Steamrolla” faces a one-inch reach disadvantage.

    Genaro Valdez (10-0) cut his teeth in Combate, UWC, and Lux Fight League en route to the Contender Series. There, he survived a rough first round to knock out Patrik White and lay claim to a UFC contract.

    All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, seven of them via knockout.

    Both of these gents do the exact same thing: swing from the hip until their opponents either fall over or leave themselves open to takedowns. Valdez has a significant edge in durability, as seen in the ridiculous punishment he fought through against White, and that could be the deciding factor if things get too hectic. That said, Frevola looks to hold every other card, being the superior wrestler and ostensibly the better boxer. Considering the way Valdez struggled the last time someone tested his takedown defense, Frevola can theoretically escape a brawl at any time by dragging Valdez to the mat and dominating from there.

    Valdez definitely has momentum on his side, but the more experienced and polished Frevola is too tall a mountain to climb. Regular takedowns win the day for “Steamrolla.”

    Prediction: Frevola via unanimous decision

    125 lbs.: Kay Hansen vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius

    Kay Hansen (7-4) followed her lengthy stint in Invicta by submitting Jinh Yu Frey in her UFC debut and taking home Performance of the Night. This set up a clash with fellow young prospect Cory McKenna, who snapped Hansen’s three-fight winning streak via controversial decision.

    This will be her first fight in 14 months.

    Jasmine Jasudavicius (6-1) went undefeated as an amateur and 4-0 as a professional before dropping a split decision to Elise Reed in a bid for Cage Fury gold. She made it to the Contender Series two fights later, defeating Julia Polastri via contract-winning decision.

    She’ll have five inches of height and reach on Hansen.

    I can’t say I saw the logic behind signing Jasudavisius on the heels of an underwhelming decision, and the fact that they threw her into such a toxic matchup in her debut only makes it more confusing. Jasudavicius’ preference for clinch and wrestling battles plays right into Hansen’s hands, and even if the former does elect to lean on her striking against a more effective grappler, her inability to keep the Hansen-proportioned Polastri at a distance suggests that she’ll end up in a ground battle anyway.

    The Hansen of 2020 most likely dominates Jasudavicius on the mat. Imagine with the 2022 version will do.

    Prediction: Hansen via first-round submission

    Four more UFC 270 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a debuting knockout artist and the latest from fast-rising Featherweight Ilia Topuria. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.

    Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 270 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

    To check out the latest and greatest UFC 270: “Ngannou vs. Gane” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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