UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs. Velasquez will air on February 17, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Preliminary Card (ESPN+)
ALEKSANDRA “SNITCH” ALBU (3-0-0) vs EMILY “SPITFIRE” WHITMIRE (3-2-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s strawweight division. Albu brings karate and judo. Whitmire brings Muay Thai and grappling. Both can strike, but Albu is the more efficient grappler. Her judo will overpower any grappling Whitmire tries to use. Even with her Muay Thai, Whitmire will still not be able to keep the fight standing. My prediction: Albu wins via submission in Round 1.
JESSICA PENNE (12-5-0) vs JODIE ESQUIBEL (6-4-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s strawweight division. Penne brings boxing, judo, and jiu-jitsu. Esquibel brings boxing and jiu-jitsu. Both are well-equipped, but in the striking aspect, Penne will take this. Her boxing is faster and more accurate. Esquibel will have a hard time keeping up. She will get tired and Penne will go off on her until she can no longer continue. My prediction: Penne wins via TKO in Round 3.
RENAN “THE BARON” BARAO (34-7-0, NC 1) vs LUKE “COOL HAND” SANDERS (12-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Barao brings Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu. He is a former bantamweight champion. Sanders brings boxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. A great matchup; Sanders is more efficient with his striking. Barao has good Muay Thai, but it has not been great lately. Even his ability to absorb heavy hits has decreased dramatically. Sanders is aware of this and will attack Barao right away while going for a quick finish. My prediction: Sanders wins via TKO in Round 1.
Preliminary Card (ESPN)
SCOTT “HOT SAUCE” HOLTZMAN (12-2-0) vs NIK “THE CARNY” LENTZ (29-9-2, 1 NC)
This is a three-round fight in the lightweight division. Holtzman brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Lentz brings boxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. The jiu-jitsu Holtzman brings is great, but Lentz jiu-jitsu and wrestling are better. By using both he will be able to control the fight. He will wear down Holtzman while remaining top control. Lentz will then use his boxing to add in ground-and-pound until Holtzman is completely defenseless. My prediction: Lentz wins via TKO in Round 2.
#12 ASHLEE “REBEL GIRL” EVANS-SMITH (6-3-0) vs #13 ANDREA “KGB” LEE (9-2-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s flyweight division. Evans-Smith brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Lee brings kickboxing, Muay Thai, Kyokushin, judo, and jiu-jitsu. The jiu-jitsu and wrestling Evans-Smith possesses will be a great challenge for Lee. However, a majority of the fight will remain standing where Lee has the advantage. Her kickboxing and Muay Thai will get the best of Evans-Smith. This process will continue throughout the fight until the final bell. My prediction: Lee wins via unanimous decision.
BENITO “GOLDEN BOY” LOPEZ (9-0-0) vs MANNY “THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE” BERMUDEZ (13-0-0)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Lopez brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Bermudez brings striking, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. They both have striking power, but the fight will come down to who is the better grappler. In that case, Bermudez will take this fight from his jiu-jitsu and wrestling combinations. Lopez has jiu-jitsu to use─it won’t be enough. Bermudez will wear him down until finding the hold to end the fight. My prediction: Bermudez wins via submission in Round 2.
#5 JIMMIE “EL TERROR” RIVERA (22-2-0) vs #7 ALJAMAIN “FUNK MASTER” STERLING (16-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the bantamweight division. Rivera brings kickboxing, karate, and wrestling. Sterling brings Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and wrestling. These two are well-rounded in every way; Rivera is much faster and brings better defense. He will be able to set up and land more takedowns giving him the ability to control the fight. This will give him a better pace while wearing Sterling down. My prediction: Rivera wins via unanimous decision.
Main Card (ESPN)
ANDRE “TOUCHY” FILI (18-6-0) vs MILES “FURY” JURY (17-3-0)
This is a three-round fight in the featherweight division. Fili brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Jury brings striking, judo, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Fili’s jiu-jitsu appears to be a dangerous weapon for Jury to overcome. Then again, Jury has jiu-jitsu of his own along with wrestling and judo. Both will give him the power to counter any grappling Fili tries to use against him. Using all his grappling techniques, Jury will control the fight the whole way through. My prediction: Jury wins via unanimous decision.
VICENTE “THE SILENT ASSASSIN” LUQUE (14-6-1) vs BRYAN “BAM BAM” BARBERENA (14-5-0)
This is a three-round fight in the welterweight division. Luque brings kickboxing, Muay Thai, Luta Livre, and jiu-jitsu. Barberena brings boxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. This fight is almost identical, but Barberena has a little better grappling. His jiu-jitsu and wrestling will be able to overpower Luque’s jiu-jitsu. Barberena will keep a majority of the fight on the ground where he can control enough to score crucial points. My prediction: Barberena wins via split decision.
ALEX “BRUCE LEROY” CACERES (14-11-0, 1 NC) vs KRON GRACIE (4-0-0)
This is a three-round fight in the featherweight division. Caceres brings striking and jiu-jitsu. Gracie brings boxing, judo, and jiu-jitsu. The judo and jiu-jitsu Gracie possesses will be too much for Caceres to handle. The fight will begin with a few strikes until Gracie throws him to the ground. Gracie will then perform some ground-and-pound until Caceres becomes defenseless and places him in a sleeper hold. My prediction: Gracie wins via submission in Round 1.
#11 CORTNEY “CAST IRON” CASEY (8-6-0) vs #12 CYNTHIA CALVILLO (7-1-0)
This is a three-round fight in the women’s strawweight division. Casey brings boxing and jiu-jitsu. Calvillo brings Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. Both these ladies can fight; it’s Calvillo who is a more efficient grappler. She will use her jiu-jitsu and wrestling to wear down Casey. She will do this until she can no longer defend herself. It will be then when Calvillo puts her in a hold and forces her to quit. My prediction: Calvillo wins via submission in Round 2.
#10 JAMES “THE TEXECUTIONER” VICK (13-2-0) vs PAUL “THE IRISH DRAGON” FELDER (15-4-0)
This is a three-round co-main event in the lightweight division. Vick brings boxing and jiu-jitsu. Felder brings Muay Thai, taekwondo, karate, and jiu-jitsu. The Muay Thai and taekwondo Felder brings will be dangerous for Vick to overcome. However, when Felder is taken to the ground he is not that efficient. Vick will be using his jiu-jitsu to wear Felder down while adding in some ground-and-pound. He will continue this until the very end. My prediction: Vick wins via unanimous decision.
#3 FRANCIS “THE PREDATOR” NGANNOU (12-3-0) vs CAIN VELASQUEZ (14-2-0)
This is a five-round main event in the heavyweight division. Ngannou brings boxing and savate. Velasquez brings boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. He is a former two-time Heavyweight Champion. Ngannou’s boxing is by far the greatest the division has ever seen; his ground game─not so much. That is where he will fail. Velasquez is a top wrestler with outstanding ground-and-pound and he will perform both no questions asked. By bringing the fight to the ground Velasquez will tear Ngannou apart. He will not give Ngannou any edge while continuing his assault. All in all this fight will mark the return of the cardio freak himself Cain Velasquez. My prediction: Velasquez wins via TKO in Round 2.