Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington
The UFC 224 main event will see Amanda Nunes aim to defend her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship for a third time. She faces Raquel Pennington, who is riding a four-fight win streak coming into the title fight.
Because of that, Pennington will be better served taking that approach to Nunes while fighting from range in order to stay out of the way of the Brazilian’s devastating strikes and knockout power.
Raquel Pennington recent form and fight record
|Win||Miesha Tate||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 205||November 12, 2016|
|Win||Elizabeth Phillips||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 202||August 20, 2016|
|Win||Bethe Correia||Decision (split)||UFC on Fox: Teixeira vs. Evans||April 16, 2016|
|Win||Jéssica Andrade||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC 191||September 5, 2015|
|Loss||Holly Holm||Decision (split)||UFC 184||February 28, 2015|
Amanda Nunes recent form and fight record
Nunes, on the other hand, needs to gain the upper hand early by implementing a more aggressive approach on the feet, much like she did against former champion Ronda Rousey. While such an approach carries risks, it will leave Pennington on the back foot, which may make it easier for Nunes to take the fight to the ground.
|Win||Valentina Shevchenko||Decision (split)||UFC 215||September 9, 2017|
|Win||Ronda Rousey||TKO (punches)||UFC 207||December 30, 2016|
|Win||Miesha Tate||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC 200||July 9, 2016|
|Win||Valentina Shevchenko||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 196||March 5, 2016|
|Win||Sara McMann||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Saint Preux||August 8, 2015|
A BJJ black belt and a Judo brown belt, Nunes has a bigger advantage on the ground against Pennington than she does on the feet. This means that Nunes will have a better chance at dominating and winning the fight by taking it to the ground.
Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington prediction
It will be a close fight with Nunes and Pennington both mainly fighting from range and occasionally landing solid, clean strikes. Nunes has a lot of momentum behind her at this point and that will make all the difference in this bout.
Nunes via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46).
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum
The co-main event of this weekend’s UFC 224 card sees The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum face former Strikeforce Middleweight champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. It will be a huge match for both fighters, as the winner will cement themselves as a top contender at 185 pounds and may even see themselves next in line for a title shot.
Despite having fought some of his career as a welterweight, Gastelum is a strong middleweight fighter as seen by his TKO finishes over Michel Bisping, Tim Kennedy and Nate Marquardt. While he cannot be overaggressive against Jacare, Gastelum needs to move forward and look for opportunities to land powerful strikes against the Brazilian.
Kelvin Gastelum recent form and fight record
This will likely make Jacare shoot for desperate and telegraphed takedowns, which will wear him out and allow Gastelum to take advantage and finish Jacare early.
|Win||Michael Bisping||KO (punch)||UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Gastelum||November 25, 2017|
|Loss||Chris Weidman||Submission (arm-triangle choke)||UFC on Fox: Weidman vs. Gastelum||July 22, 2017|
|NC||Vitor Belfort||NC (overturned)||UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum||March 11, 2017|
|Win||Tim Kennedy||TKO (punches)||UFC 206||December 10, 2016|
|Win||Johny Hendricks||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 200||July 9, 2016|
Against a talented and young fighter like Gastelum, Jacare will need to use his 14 years of MMA experience – and the smarts that have come with it – to reign victorious. The Brazilian will be best placed by being his slight reach advantage and landing quick and effective counter strikes while making Gastelum miss.
By doing this, Jacare has a much better chance of tiring Gastelum out, which will make him easy to be taken down and submitted by the submission master that is Ronaldo Souza.
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza recent form and fight record
|Win||Derek Brunson||KO (head kick and punches)||UFC on Fox: Jacaré vs. Brunson 2||January 27, 2018|
|Loss||Robert Whittaker||TKO (head kick and punches)||UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis||April 15, 2017|
|Win||Tim Boetsch||Submission (kimura)||UFC 208||February 11, 2017|
|Win||Vitor Belfort||TKO (punches)||UFC 198||May 14, 2016|
|Loss||Yoel Romero||Decision (split)||UFC 194||December 12, 2015|
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum prediction
It will all depend on whether or not age has caught up to the 38-year- old Jacare. He looked good against Derek Brunson back in January, and we think he’ll continue to look good and beat Gastelum via submission in the 3 rd or 4 th rounds.
Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida
UFC 224 will see two Brazilian legends – Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida – go head to head in a main card clash. Although both fighters are past their primes, the fact that this may be the final fight for both fighters means Machida and Belfort will bring everything they have into the Octagon.
Vitor Belfort recent form and fight record
|Win||Nate Marquardt||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 212||June 3, 2017|
|NC||Kelvin Gastelum||NC (overturned)||UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Gastelum||March 11, 2017|
|Loss||Gegard Mousasi||TKO (head kick and punches)||UFC 204||October 8, 2016|
|Loss||Ronaldo Souza||TKO (punches)||UFC 198||May 14, 2016|
|Win||Dan Henderson||KO (head kick and punches)||UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3||November 7, 2015|
One of Belfort’s keys to victory has been his speed, which has contributed to his many finishes inside the Octagon. However, like most ageing fighters, Belfort has slowed remarkably in recent years, which means he will put himself at great risk if he brings his traditionally aggressive approach to Machida’s precise counter-striking style.
Instead, Belfort will be better served by bringing a more diverse game plan to the fight. Machida is known for using kicks in almost all his fights, and Belfort may have a better chance of winning by countering Machida’s kicks with takedowns.
Lyoto Machida recent form and fight record
|Win||Eryk Anders||Decision (split)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders||February 3, 2018|
|Loss||Derek Brunson||KO (punches)||UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida||October 28, 2017|
|Loss||Yoel Romero||KO (elbows)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Romero||June 27, 2015|
|Loss||Luke Rockhold||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold||April 18, 2015|
|Win||C.B. Dollaway||TKO (body kick and punches)||UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Dollaway||December 20, 2014|
Machida has traditionally gained a reputation for being an elusive, hard-to- hit fighter, but this has changed for the worse as he also continues to slow down with age. The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion has also shown himself to be easy to knock down and finish in his last few fights, which is good news for Belfort and his powerful hands.
In order for Machida to win, he can continue to fight at range given that Belfort likely no longer has the speed and movement to get inside and stun Machida with strikes. However, he needs to diversify his approach to ensure that he does not leave himself vulnerable to being finished.
Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida prediction
Both fighters will have their moments, but age and ring-rust will be the defining factors leading to who wins this weekend. Whilst Belfort still wields phenomenal power he may wear himself down in attempting to unload on Machida, who is no stranger to evading danger by anticipating his opponents’ ring craft. Back Machida to take out a close decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
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