The UFC returns to Las Vegas inside T-Mobile Arena this Sunday (Sept. 11, 2022) for its latest pay-per-view (PPV) event. The main event consists of a 5-round slugfest at 170-pounds between prospect Khamzat Chimaev & legend Nate Diaz. The co-main sees Tony Fergusson attempting to get back in the win column against Li “The Leech” Jingliang. At the same time, Kevin Holland looks to maintain his winning momentum against Daniel Rodriguez at catchweight. Bantamweight strikers Irene Aldana and Macy Chiasson are the only females on the card, while Johnny Walker & Ion Cutelaba will open up the show.
170 lbs. Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev (11-0) vs. Nate Diaz (20-13)
I won’t lie, this matchup feels extremely one-sided. Chimaev has been on an absolute rampage since he entered the UFC, and his stats are crazy. With 100% TD defence & 57% TD accuracy, he’s a scary man to face. But it doesn’t stop there, with a 17-second KO over Gerald Meerschaert and a round-1 finish over Rhys McKee, he’s dangerous anywhere. His win over Burns at UFC 273 was his biggest test, however, he showed that he was durable and threatening as the rounds go on.
Nate Diaz’s record isn’t as sharp, but the Stockton slugger is always up for a fight. Nate is ridiculously durable, has a fantastic gas tank and a sneaky submission game. There’s no doubt that his camp was predominantly wrestling focused and he does get better as the rounds go by. However, a tendency to start slow won’t work in his favour. His boxing is very good and he is long, so his best chance is surviving the first 2-rounds and having success later on. He does bleed very easily though, which could be a problem if he gets carved up early, but I wouldn’t completely write him off, we’ll have to see.
Prediction: Chimaev by round 3 doctors' stoppage
170 lbs. Li “The Leech” Jingliang (19-7) vs. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (25-7)
This is an interesting fight and a must-win for “El Cucuy”. It breaks my heart to witness a 4 fight-losing streak after his win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 238. Tony is a fan favourite, but after his 10-fight win streak, he’s run into some bad luck. He shows glimpses of his former self, like his early success against Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje. However, the UFC doesn’t take kindly to age.
The Leech is the kind of opponent that former Tony would’ve dreamed of. Tony’s unorthodox style would’ve been hard to read, he would’ve worn him down & beaten him on the mat. However, Li Jingliang possesses that power that Tony can’t take anymore. With 8 KOs in the UFC over some tough guys, he has the proper power when he finds the chin. I think the power will be too much for Tony, as we have seen in his recent fights against hard hitters, I would love to be wrong though.
Prediction: Li by round 2 KO
180 lbs. Kevin “Trail Blazer” Holland (23-7) vs. Daniel “D-Rod” Rodriguez (16-2)
Another matchup that I’m keen on is Holland and Rodriguez. I am a fan of Kevin Holland. Who can forget this epic 5 fight win streak in 2020? That streak included some spectacular finishes over Joaquin Buckley and Jacare Souza, as well as a first-round finish over Anthony Hernandez by knees. After a NC and losses to Brunson and Vettori, his move to welterweight proved to be smart.
Rodriguez hits hard, with smooth boxing and effective work on the inside. His win over Kevin Lee, Mike Perry & Preston Parsons in 2021 is notable. However, I think he’s going to have trouble with Holland’s half-a-foot reach advantage and combination of kicks, straight punches and elbows. Maybe he’ll look to lean on his wrestling.
Prediction: Holland by Unanimous Decision
135 lbs. Irene Aldana (13-6) vs. Macy Chiasson (8-2)
Aladana’s time in the UFC has been great to watch. Her only losses in the promotion have come by way of decision, which aligns with her 60% strike defence. Her most notable loss was to Holly Holm at UFC Fight Night in 2020. She had some success, but her inability to cut off the cage made it difficult for her to get going. If she can cut off Chiasson, I think she’ll have a great deal of success.
Chiasson steamed into the UFC after winning the Ultimate Fighter back in 2018. With 2 KO wins in 2019, she only got her first taste of adversity after facing Lina Lansberg later that year. Her wrestling has also proved successful, and carried her to victory over Norma Dumont last time out. If she relies on that, I think Aldana will figure it out, she generally has pretty good TD defence and likes to keep a lot of fights on the feet. Chiasson does have the height & reach, but I think Aldana poses a greater threat with the hands.
Prediction: Aldana by round 3 KO
205 lbs. Johnny Walker (18-7) vs. Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba (16-7)
There was once a time when Johnny Walker was the hottest prospect in the promotion. The rising star was on a three-fight winning streak where each performance was better than the last. He had an unorthodox approach, genuine power and creativity. However, it’s been a rough road for the Brazilian, as he’s dropped two fights on either side of his win over Ryan Spann. His chin has been an issue, especially when fighters begin to press, like Cory Anderson & Jamahal Hill did.
Ion Cutelaba hasn’t had the smoothest UFC trip either. The 28-year-old has a 5-6-1 UFC record, which includes face-off tussles, moments where he looks unbeatable and even faking being hurt inside the cage. Leaving that out, “The Hulk” is an absolute joy to watch, and he always brings the heat. He’s proven to be tough and throws every punch with bad intentions. I do not doubt that this is going to be a weird matchup, with bizarre techniques and antics in the octagon. I think Johnny Walker is looking to bounce back & fight more cautiously this time, but I don’t think it’s going the distance. I feel like Walker may use his range and catch Ion with something after he settles in.
Prediction: Walker by round 2 KO