Welcome to S#*%ty UFC 254 Predictions, guaranteed to get you a right pick eventually based on the laws of probability.
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With all the nerds out there watching tape and breaking down fighters’ techniques using tried and tested methods, I thought it would be a lot cooler to use novice-like intuition, random bits of trivia, and stuff I read on the internet as a way to predict the outcomes of fights. Now this one is an especially big fight so make sure to go full tilt and take these predictions as gospel because clearly, I know what I’m doing here.
Today we’re breaking down the UFC 254 main card. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @AllDayAuger, and like and subscribe to The Body Lock’s YouTube channel. It’s important because I need a platform for these amazing insights and adoring fans to satiate my hubris.
3 out of 5 is pretty par for the course these days, so I’ll take it. Didn’t see bald Ortega emerging as an MMA figure of legend, but that definitely happened. Apparently all Ortega had to do was adopt the exact opposite strategy of Dustin Poirier when it came to hair styling in order to greatly improve his striking. Between those two and Barboza winning in dominant fashion after growing his hair out, other fighters should start taking note of where they are in their career and what’s going on with the top of their head.
Still plan on adding in more videos to this, but life has just been hectic as ever. We’ll get it going again though, probably with more Fight Site boys.
Let’s dive in!
Jacob Malkoun vs. Phil Hawes
According to the UFC website right now this seems to be the card opener (though that’s not super reliable), so the first fight we’ll look at is Phil Hawes vs. Jacob Malkoun. “Megatron” made the most of his second appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series by stopping Khadzhimurat Bestaev in a little over a minute with a big overhand right. 8-2 in his career overall, Hawes is currently on a four-fight win streak all by stoppage in the very first round.
Malkoun has also won four consecutive bouts, which coincidentally makes up his entire professional MMA career. Fighting across four different promotions, Malkoun’s latest victory comes over Sebastian Temesi, a man without a picture on Tapology who is 3-2 overall. Talk about a way to make your UFC debut.
Clearly, the UFC matchmakers saw some amazing techniques when scouting Malkoun, although being a 4-0 fighter with two unanimous decision wins I’m not surprised. There is no way that the organization would sign some green fighter that happens to be Robert Whittaker’s training partner, because the UFC only recruits the absolute BEST in talent. Taking into consideration that people named Megatron clearly tend to lose—Calvin Johnson never won a ring with the Lions, the original Megatron was thwarted by Optimus Prime—I think it’s pretty safe to say the Malkoun will put on a three-round unanimous decision clinic in this one.
Malkoun via Spectacular Unanimous Decision
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba
In what is becoming the “Tony vs. Khabib” matchup at 205 pounds that no one really asked for, Magomed Ankalaev is trying to fight Ion Cutelaba, who is currently being protected in pro-wrestling fashion by his manager COVID-19.
I’ve already written about this fight once before and not much has changed in my analysis. The only X-factor here is what other options coronavirus has left to call off the fight, which basically boils down to infecting Ankalaev since Cutelaba is probably immune at this point. Given the way this year has played out, I’d imagine that’s exactly what will happen here.
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Fight called off due to Ankalaev testing positive for COVID-19
Lauren Murphy vs. Liliya Shakirova
The number four ranked UFC women’s flyweight contender in the world Lauren Murphy takes on a short notice opponent Liliya Shakirova, whose last opponent has a professional MMA record of 1-3. The fact that Murphy is sitting at -350 odds at the time of this writing is a glaring indictment of the division as a whole, which should probably just be renamed “Valentina Shevchenko shows you just how bad you really are at fighting.” The whole point of this article is to avoid deep dives and tape watching, so I’m just gonna go ahead and assume Murphy decision’s this girl and brazenly call for a title shot afterward.
Murphy via Unanimous Decision
Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris
In a heavyweight bout to determine who will be the next 265-pound contender gatekeeper, Alexander “Drago” Volkov takes on Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris in the third to last bout of UFC 254. Harris is coming off of a stoppage loss to Alistair Overeem back in May, while Volkov lost to Curtis Blaydes via unanimous decisions this past June. “Drago” is ranked at number six while Harris holds the number eight spot in the official UFC rankings.
Volkov was inches away from a title shot before Derrick Lewis threw a last-minute overhand right to knock out the Russian, presumably to get his hot balls some air faster. Harris meanwhile has been doing his best Mark Hunt imitation, going 13-8 overall in his MMA career with most fights ending by way of stoppage win or lose. People named Alexander Volkov are good at sports in general, which made me lean towards the 31-year-old initially. Harris, however, revealed that he can channel the power of American folk hero of Davy Crockett when fighting Russians, which is a huge game-changer.
Sports don’t matter when you’re defending the Alamo, and they don’t matter here.
Harris via R1 KO
Robert Whittaker vs. Jared Cannonier
In what should be an exciting co-main event, we have Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker taking on Jared “Killa Gorilla” Cannonier. Having strung together three straight victories by way of stoppage, Cannonier looks to cement a crack at the 185lbs. belt by knocking off the former divisional champion. Whittaker on the other hand is trying to get back into championship contention himself, aiming to steal Cannonier’s momentum.
Cannonier seems to have finally achieved his final form, after doing stints at both heavyweight and light heavyweight before his current run. Finishing such monsters as David Branch and a 44-year-old Anderson Silva, “Killa Gorilla” is living up to his nickname in the octagon. Outside of the cage, he’s tweeting YouTube videos that get removed for violating company hate speech policies, but that’s neither here nor there.
Whittaker took a beating in his title loss to Adesanya back at UFC 243 but doesn’t seem to have lost a beat. Going a staggering 10-1 in his 11 bouts (Though the second Romero fight….ehhhhhh), the man known as “Bobby Knuckles” has been a force to be reckoned with at Middleweight the past six years. You know, when he’s not injured or getting knocked down by Romero. Or Adesanya. Or Till. Or even kind of by Derek Brunson.
Cannonier is sure to score a knockdown here, as he has the power and Whittaker seems to love eating big shots on the chin, but “Bobby Knuckles” doesn’t seem to get finished by just one shot. Couple that with Whittaker having two nicknames and Cannonier working on the side to expose the Deep State, and I think “The Reaper” ends up taking another soul.
Whittaker via R1 TKO
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje
In the main event, we have the highly anticipated lightweight title unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim belt holder Justin Gaethje. Nurmagomedov has remained undefeated in his professional career, going 28-0 and holding a win over real estate mogul Al Iaquinta. Gaethje has looked like a man reborn since his last loss to Dustin Poirier, notching three first-round stoppages and a round 5 finish against Tony Ferguson this pay May.
Nurmagomedov had technically never lost a round until fighting Conor McGregor (*cough* *cough* Gleison Tibau *cough* *cough*) and even then he looked dominant. Should “The Eagle” end up dominating this fight, it’s hard to imagine anyone who could actually challenge him in the cage moving forward, outside maybe a rematch with “Ragin’ Al”. Though I must say I disagree with his thoughts on Never Been Kissed, I can’t disagree with his martial arts prowess.
Whereas Nurmagomedov took an approach of wrestling dominance that rarely sees him take damage, Justin Gaethje took the exact opposite approach for most of his career. Gunning to become the first active fighter on the UFC with CTE, “The Highlight” has put on thrilling performances every time he steps into the cage, even if he can’t remember them. I’m assuming he chose the aforementioned nickname because Darren Elkins trademarked “The Damage.”
There is not much MMA math one can do when one guy is 28-0 and the other is 21-2. You could argue that Poirier beat Gaethje and Khabib beat Poirier etc. but that was before “The Highlight” decided he wanted to fight without reckless abandon. That being said, Nurmagomedov has mentioned several times that “It’s Khabib Time”, and while I never really understood it before, I think I finally do now. After all, UFC 254 is on at 2 pm EST, which is 10 pm in Dagestan meaning that the fight will take place in fact, during Khabib Time.
I think John Ashcroft sums it up best.
Nurmagomedov via R3 Submission
Patrick is a consultant turned journalist who loves the fight game and everything to do with it. Focusing on the politics, business, and general state of MMA are his mainstays, though he'll dabble in analysis and best bets when he can. He also enjoys football, basketball, baseball, and great jokes in general so feel free to reach out and berate him on social media whenever you disagree with him.