UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt Predictions
Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt
There’s a high chance for fireworks in the main event as these two are both dangerous strikers, as evidenced by Font’s TKO win over Marlon Moraes last time out, and Garbrandt getting a knockout finish against Raphael Assuncao.
Looking just a little further back brings up a cause for concern with regards to Garbrandt though as though the former champion is a very good boxer who combines speed, power and is the more naturally heavy-handed of the two, his chin is questionable after losing three fights in a row by TKO between 2017-2019.
Part of the reason for that slump in form is Garbrandt’s over-eagerness to let his offensive weapons fly looking for a big finish, which can leave him exposed defensively and compromised his durability. On top of that, despite still only being 29, Garbrandt’s also been repeatedly plagued by injury woes and ailments, including suffering from a staph infection, strep and kidney issues, along with battling long covid-19 and a torn bicep in 2020 alone.
On the other hand, Font has been in fine form of late, racking up a three-fight winning streak and has so far never been finished by strikes in his 22-fight career. Like Garbrandt he is a very good boxer and he’ll be aided in this fight by a 6″ reach advantage, which he’ll definitely need as Garbrandt will use his fast footwork to try to work inside on him.
This one is on a knife-edge as Garbrandt still has bags of talent and is such a potent offensive threat, but I just have too many concerns about his ability to take the kind of clean shots Font is capable of delivering as ‘No Love’ presses forward into range, so I’m leaning towards Font finishing him by the third round here.
Prediction: Rob Font to win by TKO in Rd3.
Yan Xiaonan vs. Carla Esparza
Another Chinese fighter making a big impact in the UFC, Xiaonan has so far gone 6-0 in her UFC run, defeating some notable names along the way, including Claudia Gadelha, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill.
Now she faces a former strawweight champion in Esparza, who has put together a four-fight unbeaten stretch over the past couple of years, albeit with her last couple only being narrow split decision nods against Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez.
Esparza should be Xiaonan’s biggest challenge to date on the mat as wrestling has always been at the core of her success in the sport. She has sought to develop her striking and she’s not as rough-and-ready on the feet as she once was, but I don’t see that being something she’s going to want to utilize too much here.
That’s because striking is Xiaonan’s strong suit and she’s proven to be very adept at utilizing a high volume approach, while staying relatively sound defensively. She’ll have a 4″ height advantage here, but identical reach means she’ll have to stay technical and utilize good movement to keep her opponent at bay.
So far Xiaonan’s takedown defense has been fairly solid, but it remains to be seen how that’ll stack up against Esparza. Still, I feel Esparza isn’t the most active fighter and that partly explains how in 12 UFC fights she’s fought to four split-decisions and one majority decision. It’s definitely possible that she can grind her way to a win on the scorecards on the mat here, but I think Xiaonan’s far busier work on the feet to largely keep her opponent at bay will help sway the judges in her favor.
Prediction: Yan Xiaonan to win by decision.
Justin Tafa vs. Jared Vanderaa
Somehow this heavyweight fight makes it onto the main card, despite Tafa having lost two of his three UFC fights to date, while Vanderaa was TKO’d in his debut earlier in the year.
Vanderaa has a 4″ height and 6″ reach advantage here, but he is rather hittable, so that’s certainly a cause for concern against Tafa, who is a solid kickboxer and punches hard.
Vanderaa has more fight experience and could find success if he utilizes his wrestling as that’s a weak point for his opponent, but I’ll take Tafa to get inside and land heavy leather early to secure a first round TKO finish here.
Prediction: Justin Tafa to win by TKO in Rd1.
Felicia Spencer vs. Norma Dumont
Spencer may have only gone 2-2 in the Octagon so far, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the former Invicta FC champ’s losses came against the cream of the crop in Cris ‘Cyborg’ and Amanda Nunes – and it’s a credit to her toughness that neither was able to finish her inside the distance.
Now she fights Dumont, who was KO’d in her UFC debut against Megan Anderson, but has since rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over Ashlee Evans-Smith. She steps up to take this fight on short notice and will also be moving up to 145lbs in the process, having missed weight for her last two fights at 135lbs.
Spencer has a taekwondo background, but really she’s at her best on the mat and will have the wrestling advantage and good submission skills too.
Dumont’s striking looked sharp last time out and she may well have the edge if she can keep this one standing, but I think Spencer will prove she’s the stronger grappler and emerge with a decision victory.
Prediction: Felicia Spencer to win by decision.
David Dvorak vs. Raulian Paiva
Dvorak comes into this fight after back-to-back wins in his first two UFC outings, but his current unbeaten run actually extends to 15 fights overall, while Paiva also had a good record on the regional scene, but lost his first two fights inside the Octagon, before rebounding with two wins.
Dvorak is a very well-rounded flyweight who is also a notable finisher, having stopped 15 of his 19 career victories inside the distance, with almost an even split of 8 KO’s and 7 submissions.
Paiva can threaten by submission too, but he’s a solid striker from range and works well on the counter, although he doesn’t have the best defense and is too hittable for his own good.
I think Dvorak can be somewhat competitive on the feet here, but it’s his wrestling and BJJ ability that will enable him to control this fight and claim a decision win.
Prediction: David Dvorak to win by decision.
Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbayzan
This fight was originally scheduled to take place on the main card of UFC 262 last weekend, but was pushed back a week due to Covid protocols and now helps strengthen up tomorrow night’s line-up.
Shahbayzan tasted his first career loss last time out against Derek Brunson, who was able to outwrestle him and expose his cardio issues too, but given that he’s still just 23-years-old, there’s plenty of time for him to shore up those weaknesses.
Shahbayzan’s striking is very good and has been responsible for nine of his 11 career victories so far, all of which have come inside the first round. Hermansson is a capable striker in his own right and will have a 3.5″ reach advantage here, despite giving up an inch in height, but it’s not likely to be where he plans on keeping this fight.
That’s because Hermansson is a talented grappler whose best work often comes when he’s on the mat, where he applies a lot of offensive pressure, both by submission and ground-and-pound.
Hermansson is hittable on the feet, so Shahbayzan will have a chance here, but the elder fighter has better cardio and I like his chances of weathering the early storm and making the most of his grappling advantage to earn a second round submission stoppage.
Prediction: Jack Hermansson to win by submission in Rd2.
UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Garbrandt Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
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Ben Rothwell vs. Chris Barnett
Claudio Silva vs. Court McGee
Bruno Silva vs. Victor Rodriguez
Rafael Alves vs. Damir Ismagulov
Yancy Medeiros vs. Damir Hadzovic
Joshua Culibao vs. Yilan Sha
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process.
You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.