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UFC 271: Adesanya vs Whittaker 2 – Preview and Staff Picks

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Returning to Houston for the first time in 2022, UFC 271 is set to be one of the most important cards of the year.

In the main attraction, the much-anticipated title rematch Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker will finally go down. Also on the card, heavyweight bangers Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa throw down in an explosive matchup. On top of the that, a 185lb title eliminator between Jared Cannonier and Derek Brunson takes the featured bout slot.

Some of our writers at VMTV – @jake-davis, @cauley-quilty, @matt-pritchard, @jamie-theodosi, @colin-shea, @aidan-murphy and @harry-elson – will also give their picks and predictions for the fights. Let’s take a closer look at this card!

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(c) Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs (#1) Robert Whittaker (24-5) – UFC middleweight championship bout

The two best middleweights in the world will finally run it back for the title at UFC 271.

Champion Iarael Adesanya’s run through the 185lb division has been nothing short of spectacular. Through his virtually unparalleled striking ability, he is deep in the process of eliminating the best contenders in the division. Coming into his fourth title defense, Adesanya has the mindset that he must lap the division before his business is done. ‘The Last Stylebender‘ is absolutely one of the best in the world, and is on the path to becoming an all-time middleweight great.

Looking to finally reclaim his title, ex-champ Robert Whittaker is coming into this weekend as a motivated man. The Aussie has gone on an extraordinary three-fight run since his loss to Adesanya, showing improvements in his game in each fight. Admitting the flaws in his original gameplan, Whittaker is ready to truly bring the fight to the champ this time around. ‘The Reaper‘ is determined to get the belt back at any cost. The question is – can he get it done this time around?

Jake’s pick: Robert Whittaker via decision

Cauley’s pick: (c) Israel Adesanya via decision

Matt’s pick: Robert Whittaker via decision

Jamie’s pick: (c) Israel Adesanya via decision

Colin’s pick: (c) Israel Adesanya via decision

Aidan’s pick: (c) Israel Adesanya via decision

Harry’s pick: (c) Israel Adesanya via decision

(#3) Derrick Lewis (26-8, 1 NC) vs (#11) Tai Tuivasa (14-3) – heavyweight bout

Two of heavyweight’s hardest hitters have been pitted to throw down in a titalating clash.

After his last win, Houston’s Derrick Lewis stands alone as the UFC’s top knockout artist. Where he may lack in technique or athleticism, Lewis surely makes up for it in one-hitter-quitter power. At 37 years old, it looks like ‘The Black Beast‘ may only have one title run left in him. Should he pick up the win on Saturday, the KO king may be back in line to challenge for the belt.

Since returning to the promotion in late 2020, Tai Tuivasa has set the UFC’s heavyweight division on fire. The fan-favourite Aussie is known not just for his shoeys, but for his devastating punching power. Riding a four-fight win-streak, it seems like the UFC brass think Tuivasa is ready for a major step-up in competition in Lewis. If ‘Bam Bam‘ can extend his streak, we may see a title opportunity for him later this year.

Jake’s pick: Derrick Lewis via KO (R2)

Cauley’s pick: Derrick Lewis via KO (R3)

Matt’s pick: Tai Tuivasa via KO (R2)

Jamie’s pick: Derrick Lewis via TKO (R1)

Colin’s pick: Derrick Lewis via KO (R1)

Aidan’s pick: Tai Tuivasa via KO (R2)

Harry’s pick: Derrick Lewis via KO (R1)

(#3) Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs (#4) Derek Brunson (23-7) – middleweight bout

A crack at the 185lb title is on the line when top contenders fight in the featured bout of UFC 271.

Having reinvented himself at middleweight, Jared Cannonier is on the path to finally capturing a belt. Despite dropping a fight to Robert Whittaker, Alaska’s finest still looks like a real title threat, possessing jaw-dropping power. Should he make it two-straight, Cannonier’s record at middleweight will be 5-1. 2022 could be the year of ‘The Killa Gorilla‘, if he gets off to a good start this weekend.

Looking for his sixth win in a row, perennial contender Derek Brunson has truly come into his own in recent times. The Strikeforce alum has improved his striking game, which has also helped him to implement his top-tier wrestling. A rematch with either of the men in the main event is on the cards for ‘Blonde‘ Brunson if he can get the win.

Jake’s pick: Jared Cannonier via KO (R3)

Cauley’s pick: Jared Cannonier via decision

Matt’s pick: Derek Brunson via decision

Jamie’s pick: Derek Brunson via decision

Colin’s pick: Jared Cannonier via KO (R3)

Aidan’s pick: Derek Brunson via decision

Harry’s pick: Derek Brunson via decision

Kyler Phillips (9-2) vs Marcelo Rojo (16-8) – bantamweight bout

A striker’s delight matchup between a pair of rising bantamweights will feature on the main card.

A former TUF and DWCS competitor, Kyler Phillips has plenty of momentum as he ascends the 135lb division. He remains one of the most promising and fan-friendly prospects at bantamweight, despite a controversial decision loss in his last outings. ‘Matrix‘ will undoubtedly try to set the Honda Center on fire come Saturday.

Opposing Phillips will be the Argentine finisher Marcelo Rojo. A veteran of Combate, Rojo has 10 confirmed stoppages in his 15 wins. He may have had a rocky Octagon debut against Charles Jourdain, but ‘Pitbull‘ is coming out to pick up another finish for his record at UFC 271.

Jake’s pick: Kyler Phillips via decision

Cauley’s pick: Marcelo Rojo via submission (R3)

Matt’s pick: Kyler Phillips via KO (R3)

Jamie’s pick: Kyler Phillips via TKO (R2)

Colin’s pick: Kyler Phillips via submission (R3)

Aidan’s pick: Kyler Phillips via decision

Harry’s pick: Kyler Phillips via decision

Bobby Green (28-12-1) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-4) – lightweight bout

A fun stylistic clash between lightweight hopefuls is set to open up the pay-per-view card.

King‘ Bobby Green is one of the most beloved lightweights on the UFC roster. This is mainly due to his all-action style and inability to quit. Despite his veteran status, Green is still among the best fighters outside the top 15 at 155lbs. Coming off of a big KO win in November, he’s hoping to make it two in a row.

Though he amassed a 3-1 record upon his company debut, Germany’s Nasrat Haqparast has fallen on harder times. Dropping fights to Drew Dober and Dan Hooker has seen Haqparast’s proverbial ceiling drop. Despite that, the future still looks bright for the hard-hitting 26 year old. If he can get back on track this weekend, we could see Haqparast return to form.

Jake’s pick: Bobby Green via decision

Cauley’s pick: Nasrat Haqparast via decision

Matt’s pick: Nasrat Haqparast via decision

Jamie’s pick: Nasrat Haqparast via decision

Colin’s pick: Nasrat Haqparast via decision

Aidan’s pick: Bobby Green via TKO (R3)

Harry’s pick: Nasrat Haqparast via decision

Andrei Arlovski (32-20, 2 NC) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-6) – heavyweight bout

A former champion will look to hold his position in the division against a hopeful younggun in the featured prelim.

Many fans seem to count out the 43 year old Andrei Arlovski in today’s heavyweight landscape. However, the ex-champ is 5-2 in his last 7, only dropping fights to top-ten contenders. Arlovski’s hand speed has not diminished over time, and his defensive prowess has improved with age. Even if another title run is off the table, seeing ‘The Pitbull‘ still hanging with and beating the new generation is awe-inspiring,

Looking to cash in on a top 15 spot in 2022 is Jared Vanderaa. The DWCS signee has gone 1-2 since his TKO win against Harry Hunsucker to earn his contract. ‘The Mountain‘ is certainly not afraid of a scrap, however. An aggressive game-plan and utilising his physical attributes may be enough for Vanderaa to claim the win this weekend.

Jake’s pick: Andrei Arlovski via decision

Cauley’s pick: Jared Vanderaa via TKO (R2)

Matt’s pick: Andrei Arlovski via decision

Jamie’s pick: Andrei Arlovski via decision

Colin’s pick: Andrei Arlovski via decision

Aidan’s pick: Draw

Harry’s pick: Andrei Arlovski via decision

(#12) Roxanne Modaferri (25-20) vs (#15) Casey O’Neill (8-0) – flyweight bout

A surging Scottish prospect is hoping to steal the ranking from a scrappy retiring veteran at 125lbs.

This weekend will see the final fight of Roxanne Modaferri’s illustrious career. A former title challenger and 20 year veteran of the sport, she is one of the original pioneers of women’s MMA. Don’t be mistaken though. ‘The Happy Warrior‘ is planning on going out with a vintage performance, which would see her adding another name to extensive resume.

Perhaps the most talked-about prospect in women’s MMA right now, Casey O’Neill has caught the eye of fans around the world. The Scottish-Aussie’s mix of striking and grappling has seen her run through all three of her UFC opponents, notably Antonina Shevchenko. Should she get the win over a tough veteran like Modaferri, ‘King‘ Casey will continue to be all the rage at 125lbs this year.

Jake’s pick: Casey O’Neill via TKO (R3)

Cauley’s pick: Casey O’Neill via submission (R2)

Matt’s pick: Casey O’Neill via decision

Jamie’s pick: Casey O’Neill via TKO (R3)

Colin’s pick: Casey O’Neill via submission (R2)

Aidan’s pick: Roxanne Modaferri via submission (R2)

Harry’s pick: Casey O’Neill via submission (R1)

(#4) Alex Perez (24-6) vs (#9) Matt Schnell (15-5, 1 NC) – flyweight bout

A pair of flyweight contenders will be vying for a top spot at 125lbs on the prelims at UFC 271.

Though he’s been sidelined since his title challenge in November 2020, Alex Perez remains among the top 5 at flyweight. The DWCS alum has gone 6-2 in the UFC since his debut, only losing to Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Perez presents a challenge of furious striking, along with a dangerous submission game. A win will put this contender back on track for a second title shot.

A veteran of TUF, Matt ‘Danger‘ Schnell has been fighting the best at 125lbs and 135lbs since 2016. The karate black belt has proved himself capable for winning at the highest level, but has lacked consistent in recent times. Holding a size advantage and having been more active than Perez, perhaps Schnell will be able to crack the top 5 and put forth a case for a title shot.

Jake’s pick: Alex Perez via decision

Cauley’s pick: Alex Perez via decision

Matt’s pick: Alex Perez via KO (R3)

Jamie’s pick: Alex Perez via decision

Colin’s pick: Alex Perez via decision

Aidan’s pick: Matt Schnell via decision

Harry’s pick: Alex Perez via TKO (R3)

Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs Renato Moicano (15-4-1) – lightweight bout

Two lightweight prospects are looking to reclaim their top 15 spots on the early prelims.

A bulldozing start to his UFC tenure had Alexander Hernandez tapped as a future champion. Unfortunately, the 29 year old has traded wins and losses since that. Hernandez still possesses a solid wrestling base and knockout power that make him a threat. If he can make up for the ground he’s lost in recent fights, this could be the year ‘The Great‘ reach his potential.

Since a string of losses at 145lbs, Brazil’s Renato Moicano has established himself as a dangerous force at lightweight. He has gone 2-1 at 155lbs since 2020, only losing to Rafael Fiziev in that span. Moicano has leaned into his grappling during his recent wins, which has produced positive results. If he can continue to do this in 2022, we can only assume that Moicano will be in the top 15.

Jake’s pick: Renato Moicano via submission (R2)

Cauley’s pick: Renato Moicano via decision

Matt’s pick: Alexander Hernandez via decision

Jamie’s pick: Renato Moicano via submission (R2)

Colin’s pick: Renato Moicano via decision

Aidan’s pick: Alexander Hernandez via TKO (R3)

Harry’s pick: Alexander Hernandez via KO (R2)

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That’s our breakdown and picks of UFC 271! Do you agree with our picks? Leave your own predictions and opinions in the comments!

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Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

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Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.

Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.

His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 Founder, Adam Newsome:

“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.

So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”

Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to fight and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.

However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”

Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!

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Sumo | Summer Tournament wide open after 10 days

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The Sumo Summer Tournament has a surprise joint-leader after 10 days, but many Rikishi are in with a shout of glory with only 5 days to go.

So far, only two have managed to achieve a guaranteed winning record, with M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto and M4 Takanosho posting 8-2 records 10 days in to the basho. It remains to be seen if he can keep up his championship challenge, but Ichiyamamoto is bringing back memories of the January 2020 basho when the M17 ranked Tokushoryu took home the title in a huge surprise. Whatever happens, Ichiyamamoto should see himself catapulted up the rankings for the next tournament if he can keep up this form. It is a welcome return to form for Takanosho who has previously been a Sekiwake.

Sumo: Summer Tournament – M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto finds himself in the joint-lead after 10 days of action.

Despite his patchy form, Terunofuji has scrapped himself to a 7-3 record, which puts him 1 behind the leaders in a large chasing pack. On day 10 he managed to get by a spirited Hoshoryu who is improving all the time. The Mongolian giant will be hopeful of taking home his first championship of the year. Others in the pack on 7-3 are Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi and Aoiyama. With NINE more wrestlers on 6-4, only two behind the leaders and with an outside shot, there will be an amazing 16 Rikishi who may be dreaming of lifting the Emperor’s Cup come Sunday 22nd May. The chances of there being a playoff for the win for the second tournament running are looking pretty high.

Down at the other end of the table, it has been another tournament to forget for March’s playoff runner-up, Takayasu, who has posted a losing record of 2-8 so far. After doing so well to get himself back to M1 rank, he will find himself going down the rankings ahead of the July tournament. Ozeki Shodai has continued his poor form and one more defeat will once again see him staring down the possibility of losing his rank come July. March winner Wakatakakage, alongside fellow Sanyaku ranked competitors Abi, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi, are all fighting for winning records having gone 5-5 so far.

Keep an eye out for the next update after Saturday’s day 14 when I will be recapping the standings and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting final-day’s action.

Remember to check out the VMTV Sumo introduction and guide here if you need a refresher of the rules and some of the words used in these articles.

You can find the full rankings and results of the tournament so far at the Japan Sumo Association’s page here.

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UFC London | Aspinall vs Blaydes Staff Predictions

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The UFC will take centre stage once again in London as they return to UK shores for a second time this year on July 23rd. Following the immense success of the previous show in March, the O2 Arena will again play host to another stacked night of fights.

Headlining the card is surging heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall who will be looking to cement his name amongst the top ranked in the division with a win over #4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. It’s do or die for Darren Till when he faces Jack Hermansson in the co-main event as he aims to get his first win since 2019.

Leading up to the event, VMTV have teamed up with MMAPlay365 and our writing staff will be giving their predictions for each fight on the card as there announced. You can view details on the partnership between VMTV and MMAPlay365 here.

Tom Aspinall vs Curtis Blaydes

  • Cauley – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R4
  • Matt – Tom Aspinall via decision
  • Jamie -Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Jake – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Darragh – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R3
  • Harry – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Colin – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R2

Darren Till vs Jack Hermansson

  • Cauley – Jack Hermansson via decision
  • Matt – Darren Till via KO/TKO, R2
  • Jamie – Darren Till via decision
  • Jake – Darren Till via decision
  • Darragh – Jack Hermansson via submission, R3
  • Harry – Jack Hermansson via decision
  • Colin – Darren Till via decision

Nikita Krylov vs Alexander Gustafsson

  • Cauley – Nikita Krylov via decision
  • Matt – Nikita Krylov via KO/TKO, R1
  • Jamie – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
  • Jake – Nikita Krylov via submission, R1
  • Darragh – Nikita Krylov via decision
  • Harry – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
  • Colin – Nikita Krylov via decision

Paul Craig vs Volkan Oezdemir

  • Cauley – Paul Craig via submission, R1
  • Matt – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Jamie – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Jake – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Darragh – Paul Craig via submission, R1
  • Harry – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Colin – Paul Craig via submission, R2

Muhammed Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

  • Cauley – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R2
  • Matt – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1
  • Jamie – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R2
  • Jake – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
  • Darragh – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R1
  • Harry – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
  • Colin – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1

Molly McCann vs Hannah Goldy

  • Cauley – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R3
  • Matt – Molly McCann via decision
  • Jamie – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R2
  • Jake – Molly McCann via decision
  • Darragh – Molly McCann via decision
  • Harry – Molly McCann via decision
  • Colin – Molly McCann via decision

Mandy Bohm vs Victoria Leonardo

  • Cauley – Victoria Leonardo via KO/TKO, R2
  • Matt – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Jamie – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Jake – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Darragh – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Harry – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Colin – Mandy Bohm via decision
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