MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC Fight Night 225.
UFC Fight Night 225 takes place Saturday at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The event streams on ESPN+.
Last event’s results: 3-3
Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2023: 78-62-4
Welcome to MMA Junkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.
With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive. My goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by FanDuel.
If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.
So, without further ado …
Junior Tafa (-152) vs. Parker Porter (+124)
Despite already having a heavyweight fight leading into the main card, the UFC matchmakers saw fit to (once again) forgo any care to the pacing of their card structures by doubling down with Junior Tafa and Parker Porter as the opener.
In their defense, this heavyweight affair is a bit more clear-cut from a stylistic perspective and has the makings to hopefully end early.
Either Tafa knocks out the American in the first round as the superior striker, or Porter survives the storm and plies his on-paper advantages as the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
I’ll take a flier on the more proven product in Porter to get things to the floor and score a head-and-arm choke by the second round.
Erin Blanchfield (-150) vs. Taila Santos (+122)
Even though this is arguably the most meaningful fight on the card from a rankings perspective, the UFC matchmakers, in all their wisdom, decided to bury Erin Blanchfield vs. Taila Santos under a senseless rematch taking place in the co-main event. But I digress.
Santos, who is coming off an incredibly competitive title fight that could’ve gone her way, will likely be looking to remind the masses of her skills.
The potential problem, however, is that I’m not sure I like how Santos stacks up against Blanchfield from a pacing perspective.
Despite Santos clearly being one of the stronger fighters in the division, I think her size comes with a price that is arguably reflected in her output.
Not only does Blanchfield appear to be the more deep and dynamic fighter from most positions, but her work rate will likely force her Brazilian counterpart to fight out of her comfort zone.
Although this could bring out the best in Santos initially, I suspect that she’ll need to finish Blanchfield early in order to not fall behind. And given the durability Blanchfield demonstrated opposite Jessica Andrade, I feel fairly confident in siding with the American to get it done here.
The pick is Blanchfield by third-round submission.
Rinya Nakamura (-900) vs. Fernie Garcia (+590)
Filling out the main card is a bantamweight encounter between Rinya Nakamura[/autatag] and Fernie Garcia.
Despite not disagreeing with who is favored, I have a hard time swallowing a line this wide given the limited sample sizes at hand.
Still, I can’t help but side with Nakamura in this spot.
Unless Garcia is able to counter him perfectly with his patent check hook, then I suspect that the Japanese southpaw can recreate some of the kicking success that Brady Heistand briefly had against the Fortis MMA fighter. Add in Nakamura’s superior wrestling and submission grappling, and I’ll pick the Road to UFC winner to finish Garcia on the floor by the second round.
Giga Chikadze (-250) vs. Alex Caceres (+198)
Serving as a solid featherweight offering is a striker’s delight between two martial artists who live and breathe this game.
Although Alex Caceres is finding some late-career success that I can’t help but cheer for, I’m not sure I can rely on “The Ultimate Fighter” alum to take the initiative and force the kinds of grappling exchanges that would behoove him.
For that reason, I’ll be semi-reluctantly siding with Giga Chikadze to get back to his winning ways as the harder kicker and puncher at multiple ranges.
The pick is Chikadze by first-round liver kick.
Anthony Smith (+108) vs. Ryan Spann (-132)
The co-main event in Singapore features a light heavyweight rematch between Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann.
I’m honestly not sure why the UFC rebooked this fight considering it only happened two years ago, but here we are.
Rewatching Smith v. Spann…
Not only does Anthony Smith show another good example of how wrist controls can get you out of bad spots, but he does so both ways via a 2-on-1 grip. 1st he uses it to escape, then uses the same escape against Spann in order to take his back in return pic.twitter.com/1LB1joTEr2
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) May 12, 2022
Although Spann has fewer miles with a higher athletic ceiling, I have a hard time justifying the Fortis MMA product as the betting favorite in this spot.
Spann may be an absolute handful out of the gate, but his propensity to either slow down or throw himself out of position has cost him before. Smith hasn’t looked great as of late, but he’s also a traditionally tough out early.
I’ll side with Smith to survive the initial storms in order to lock up a submission in the second round.
Max Holloway (-850) vs. Chan Sung Jung (+540)
The main event on ESPN+ features a featherweight fight between fan favorites Max Holloway and Chan Sung Jung.
Like I said in my in-depth breakdown, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Holloway fight more from a southpaw stance.
Outside of Holloway’s ability to shift and fight fluidly from that stance, Jung has shown issues dealing with southpaws in prior fights.
I suspect Jung will be potent with his counters early, but I’ll ultimately side with Holloway’s insane chin and striking volume to allow the former champion to survive the early scares and pull away down the stretch.
The pick is Holloway by fourth-round TKO.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 225.