Two UFC on Fox main events in a row is nontitle female fights. Very awesome to see the new UFC owners putting more spotlight on the ladies. UFC on Fox 23 is going down at high elevation in Denver, Colorado on January 28.
Valentina “The Bullet” Shevchenko vs. Julianna “The Venezuelan Vixen” Peña
Valentina just beat one of the best female boxers in the world in a five-round striking battle. If her fight with Amanda Nunes was 5 rounds, she would most likely be undefeated in the UFC. Shevchenko is a highly decorated kickboxing and Muay Thai champion. Being that great on the feet means she ground game is still a work in progress. That is if you can get it there as no one in the UFC has been able to make that happen yet. Liz Carmouche does have a TKO victory over her showing it is more than just theory.
Pena is going to be one pissed off fighter if she doesn’t get a title shot with the win in this fight. Pena is the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 18 and has tons of momentum going into this fight having won all of her fights in the UFC. She has had to take an extended period of not fighting due to knee injuries but has since racked up three fights since 2015.
Pena will want to get this fight to the ground quick and keep it there for as long as possible but can’t be too reckless and underestimate Valentina’s clinch game. Valentina’s taken down defense will have to be on point to stop the onslaught Pena will bring. Not sure cardio will be a large factor as both come in very well conditioned.
Prediction: Valentina by decision
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal
In typical Cerrone fashion, he is making a month and a half turn around to take this fight in his backyard, Denver. He is 4-0 since moving to the welterweight division, all with finishes. A lot of his success can be contributed to his new striking coach, Brandon Gibson.
Jorge is a tough ass son of a bitch! He is historically very difficult to finish. Great boxing with some good kicks to back them up and a very underrated grappling game. Like Cerrone, he a long time lightweight fighter but a few inches shorters. Jorge will have his moments but as Cerrone will control the range with kicks better.
The quick turn around and home field advantage really favor Cowboy in this bout. I expect to see another similar performance as Cerrone’s last fight against the immortal Matt Brown.
Prediction: Cerrone by KO in the third
Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski vs. Francis “Predator” Ngannou
Andrei is seven years the senior with 29 more fights worth of damage accumulated over his professional career. A shit load more once he adds the gym wars I am sure he has had. He is on a three-fight skid and could be his last fight in the UFC with another loss (2 TKO and 1 submission loss). Last time everyone thought the Pitbull’s chin was gone, he proved us all stupid going on a 6 fight win streak losing in a title contender fight to current champ Stipe.
Francis fights like he is double parked. All of his wins have come in the first 10 minutes with one doctor stoppage in between the second and third round. Ngannou is coming off an impressive win snatching up a kimura on the big American wrestler, Anthony Hamilton. This is a huge step up for the French native and would be a huge changing of the guard if he wins
Oh man, heavyweight is so crazy to predict. Hopefully, this one doesn’t last too long at this elevation. As most heavyweight fights come down to, who will land that first big bomb?
Prediction: Francis by KO because the heavyweight division needs new blood SO bad
Hector Lombard vs. Brad Tavares
Hector was once the scariest dude in Bellator. Lombard went undefeated in the Bellator middleweight division and finished every opponent minus one. A powerful Cuban judo player with freakish power in his hands. Since coming to the UFC, he hasn’t been lighting the world on fire going 4-3 (one win has been ruled a no contest due to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs). Lombard is no longer killing himself trying to make the welterweight division but limited by his 5’ 9” stature and 71” reach.
Tavares is 4 inches taller with 3 more inches of reach. A good striker, he relies on volume to outpoint his opponents and counter wrestling to keep the fight on his feet.
If Tavares can’t get Lombard’s respect on the feet early, he is going to be taking a nap on the canvas.
Prediction: Lombard by KO in the second