UFC 252: The Nerve Sport Preview

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Credit: LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 30: in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Written by Kieran Green (@kierlfc12)

The latest installment of UFC since the conclusion of “Fight Island” is upon us at the UFC Apex in Vegas tonight, with an exciting card that is certain to bring plenty of explosive fights and surprises.

The eyes of the world will eagerly watch a challenge for the UFC heavyweight title this evening, with a mouthwatering roster of clashes in place leading up to the main event.

As tonight’s Las Vegas showdown draws ever closer, I have pulled together my top three predictions for some of the biggest fights on the card, and how I think they will result.

Junior Dos Santos (21-7) VS Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1)

Kicking things off, we have an interesting heavyweight bout between the Brazillian Junior Dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

Despite being the more experienced of the two, Dos Santos has proven to be somewhat of a lottery fighter of late, going three fights undefeated across 2018/19 before losing his last two via TKO.

His opponent Rozenstruik looks to have the record in his favour, but is coming off the back of a devastating first round KO at the hands of Francis Ngannou at UFC 249.

Whilst Dos Santos is arguably the better technical fighter of the pair, he has shown worrying faults in his defensive capability when being pressured against the fence, and also during striking exchanges on the feet.

It could prove too soon for his return to the octagon following the Ngannou defeat, but Rozenstruik will be confident knowing that he has the advantage standing up. I expect him to utilise his kickboxing skills early on to breach the defence of Dos Santos, and look for an early finish.

My Prediction: Rozenstruik via KO

Sean O’Malley (12-0) VS Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera (17-6-1)

Sean O’Malley will be eagerly looking to welcome another opponent to the ‘Sugar Show’, as he clashes with fellow bantamweight Marlon Vera in tonight’s co-main event.

MMA fans will be excited to see the return of O’Malley, following his brutal KO of Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 back in June.

However Vera is undeniably the toughest opponent that O’Malley has had in front of him since he emerged onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene, with a win over an experienced fighter needed to gain the attention of the rest of the division.

Since his return to the octagon following disputes with the USADA, O’Malley has finished his last two fights early and has not gone the distance in some time, so you can expect Vera to look to test his opponent’s hand in the later rounds.

Whilst Chito is a well rounded fighter, I thoroughly expect O’Malley to use his height and reach advantages to dictate the range and dominate on the feet, switching stances to utilise that spinning kick that has given him so much success in previous fights.

Despite not being a high level wrestler, Vera will look at the lack of grappling his opponent has undergone in his UFC career and will certainly consider trying his luck on the floor, avoiding striking exchanges and reducing the chances of handing his opponent an early finish.

For me this is the most interesting fight on the card, with any potential result up in the air if O’Malley cannot secure another early finish. However I still cannot see Sugar Sean emptying the gas tank, and a win for the American prodigy seems likely if he can keep his range and inflict heavy damage in the first two rounds.

My Prediction: O’Malley Via Unanimous Decision

Stipe Miocic (19-3) VS Daniel Cormier (22-2-1NC)

Tonight’s main event brings forth the culmination of one of MMA’s greatest trilogies, as Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier contest the world heavyweight belt.

As the two prepare to do battle for the last time, many are wondering who will emerge victorious, with each fighter winning one of the last two meetings apiece.

Miocic on paper is the more dangerous fighter, boasting a better physique and a much heavier reach advantage over his opponent.

Judging by the nature of Miocic’s victory in the last fight, I am fully expecting him to commit to the body from the first bell, and look to once more push Cormier into submission through devastating blows to the midsection.

The now 41 year old Cormier will be looking to retire on a high note, and has made it clear that he will look to instigate more grappling exchanges in order to retire as the baddest man on the planet.

Whilst the reliance on wrestling could be a firm way to avoid big shots to the body, I have doubts on whether Cormier has the stamina to keep up a good pace throughout the five rounds – especially at 41.

Cormier may find luck once more with that right hand breaking from the clinch, but despite my total admiration for DC I question his chances against a current champion that boasts every tool to control the bout from start to finish.

My Prediction: Miocic via TKO