What’s up fight crew? We have an early one this week, as UFC heads to Moscow for UFC on ESPN+ 21: Magomedsharipov vs Kattar. Fights will kick off at 11 a.m. EST, and be broadcast on ESPN+, with 13 matches scheduled which include several of Russia’s top fighters. Let’s break down a couple fights we are looking at and select who we think will be victorious on Saturday.
SATURDAY 11/09/2019 AT 11:00 AM ET
VENUE: CSKA Arena
LOCATION: Moscow, Russia
#5 ZABIT MAGOMEDSHARIPOV 17-1 (-300) VS #11 CALVIN KATTAR 20-3 (+250)
This fight originally was set for Boston, Kattar’s hometown, but has been moved to Zabit’s turf out in Russia as our main event for the night. Both these guys are on fire as of late, with Zabit already 5-0 in the UFC, winning by either a dominant decision or via submission during his time so far in the organization. Kattar hasn’t looked too bad himself, going 4-1, and is coming off of two first-round knockout victories, finishing Chris Fishgold and Ricardo Lamas, which moved him to the #11 rank in the world. Kattar has had the tougher strength of schedule, though Zabit looked fantastic against a big name in Jeremy Stephens back in March, winning via unanimous decision against the big striker.
You walk past Zabit on the street, you’d have no idea how dangerous this guy is. He’s very unpredictable with his offense, and continues to push and back his opponents up with continuous volume at an amazing rate, mixing kicks with combos even when moving backwards. Coupled with this, is Zabit’s grappling skillset, where he’s landed takedowns in every one of his UFC fights, and has great ability in controlling his opponents while sneaking some nasty submission technique looking for the finish.
Kattar is known for some serious striking power and a chin of his own, where he’ll take shots to land his own. Kattar most likely will do everything to keep this standing, with some serious intention to hurt Zabit on the feet and look for the finish just as he has done in three of his last four fights. Zabit will land more with less power and have the output advantage, but must avoid the big shots just as he did against Stephens. I see this one playing out actually similar to that fight, where Zabit did enough to take the unanimous decision. One of the rare times these days we see a main event fight scheduled for only three rounds, and I actually see this playing into Zabit’s favor.
PREDICTION: ZABIT MAGOMEDSHARIPOV (lean via DEC prop at -115)
#7 ALEXANDER VOLKOV 30-7 (-250) VS GREG HARDY 5-1 (+210)
Greg Hardy steps up on short notice and travels to Russia after just fighting less than a month ago in a fight that he won, yet it was overturned as he used an inhaler in between rounds. One of those things you’d thought you’d never see, but of course it’s Hardy right? Anyhow, he did enough in that fight to snag this opportunity, where he now faces the Russian, #7 Alexander Volkov in the co-main event of the night. Volkov is a very polished striker, who typically outsizes his opponents by a decent margin, with his 81” reach, coupled with a height of 6’7” while pushing 250+ lbs.
Utilizing this size advantage along with his striking skillset, Volkov typically punishes his opponents on the feet, where he’ll double, even triple striking output in comparison to his foes. In three of his last four fights, Volkov has exceeded 100 strikes landed against the likes of fighters including Roy Nelson, Stefan Struve, and Derrick Lewis. Now on the flip side, although many are not necessarily big fans of Hardy due to his arrest and assault charges outside of the cage (although later the charges were dismissed and expunged) it’s hard to deny just how improved he continues to look at a pretty rapid rate. Hardy has been able to leverage some head movement and more technique in there as of late, and when countering or coming forward himself, always brings some serious power in both hands. It’s clear Hardy won’t be looking to take this one to the mat, and if Volkov attempts to, he may struggle, as Hardy has an 83% takedown defense and is quick to see the attempts when challenged.
As I compare Volkov’s last opponent Derrick Lewis to Hardy, it’s apparent Volkov will be for a much tougher test on the feet based simply on fighting style and output. Lewis averages 2.63 strikes per minute while Hardy has that over doubled at 5.73. When looking at strikes absorbed, Lewis averages 2.39 while Hardy is at 1.80, even with him constantly in the pocket and pushing to engage. Now Volkov could pick Hardy apart for three rounds if he’s able to control the distance and determine where this fight plays out. I just don’t see it happening that easy, as Hardy will be as dangerous as they come, and heavily motivated to put “inhalergate” behind him and in the past, potentially with his biggest win of his young fighting career. Hardy has yet to be in any serious danger, while as for Volkov, he’s been hit and hurt against Timothy Johnson, knocked out by Derrick Lewis, and taken down fairly easily by Fabricio Werdum.
I was impressed with Hardy’s composure and patience in his last fight, and he will surely need it here. At some point, Hardy should be able to land and hurt Volkov, just as Lewis did. That said, I’m taking Hardy in this one, especially with the value at over +200 next to his name all week.
PREDICTION: GREG HARDY +235
ALEXANDER YAKOVLEV 25-9-1 (+135) VS ROOSEVELT ROBERTS 8-1 (-155)
Roberts is coming back after suffering his first defeat in June against Vinc Pichel, in a fight we took Pichel as the dog. Roberts will be fighting for the first time outside the US and taking on the hometown guy Alexander Yakovlev, who won his return fight after a three-year layoff back in April. Yakovlev has a ton of experience and has been a pro for 15 years and along the way, has fought some big names including current UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, where he lost via decision. As we look at this matchup, Roberts will have the advantage on the feet, and will throw more volume, forcing Yakovlev to move in for takedowns.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get Roberts to the mat, and if it occurs, it shouldn’t be an issue, as I suspect Roberts to be able to reverse and potentially lock in a choke or snag an arm. Roberts himself has never been finished, and brings a solid 88% finish win rate to boot. I do not see Yakovlev outscoring Roberts on the feet, and as mentioned, not able to keep Roberts down on the mat in his control. Roberts just has more ways to win, and that has me siding with the 25-year-old prospect, even on Yakovlev’s turf.
PREDICTION: ROOSEVELT ROBERTS -155
Quick Predictions for the Other Matchups
ZABIT MAGOMEDSHARIPOV DEFEATS CALVIN KATTAR
GREG HARDY UPSETS ALEXANDER VOLKOV
ZELIM IMADAEV DEFEATS DANNY ROBERTS
ED HERMAN UPSETS HADIS IBRAGIMOV
RAMAZAN EMEEV DEFEATS ROCCO MARTIN
KLIDSON ABREU UPSETS SHAMIL GAMZATOV
MAGOMED ANKALAEV DEFEATS DALCHA LUNGIAMBULA
RUSTAM KHABILOV DEFEATS SERGEY KHANDOZHKO
ROMAN KOPYLOV DEFEATS KARL ROBERSON
ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV DEFEATS DAVID ZAWADA
ROOSEVELT ROBERTS DEFEATS ALEXANDER YAKOVLEV
JESSICA-ROSE CLARK DEFEATS PANNIE KIANZAD
GRIGORII POPOV DEFEATS DAVEY GRANT