It’s another crowded evening for combat sports with a UFC event flying under the radar. If you’re not watching Katie Taylor, Vasiliy Lomachenko or Anderson Silva box on Saturday night then you might be interested in seeing Calvin Kattar take on Arnold Allen in the soon to be champion-less featherweight division.
UFC Vegas 63 goes down at the UFC APEX facility. Also on the card is Tim Means vs. Max Griffin, Dustin Jacoby vs. Khalil Rountree and Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
In the main event, as a staff, we’re leaning hard towards Allen here. Four BE staffers have the Englishman winning in his first ever main event, with just one of us thinking Kattar can keep the gate to the upper echelons of the featherweight division shut.
You can check out the rest of our picks below! And don’t forget to add your own in the comments.
*Reminder: I’m making my picks based solely on fighter’s past winning percentages as an experiment to see how effective that nugget of data is at predicting fight outcomes. More on that here. You can see the data here. This method of picking fights is currently 44-28. Once 1,000 fights have been logged like this, we’ll take a look at what it all might mean.
Calvin Kattar vs. Arnold Allen
Zane Simon: Heading into the Vivi this week, I had it in my mind to pick Kattar here. His durability and pace combined with consistent pressure and power make him a striking opponent unlike anyone that Allen has faced to date. The nearest comparison would be Allen’s fight with Sodiq Yusuff. A fight where Allen had to depend on damage and cleaner strikes while getting outworked over 3 rounds. However… over his career, Kattar has regularly had trouble with opponents who can use consistent defensive footwork to slip out of the pocket and land counters off the back foot. That’s something Allen has been excelling at lately. If Allen decides to go ham like he did against Hooker, he may burn himself out and find himself in a brutal war of pace he can’t match. But if he keeps this tight and technical, I think he can do enough to take the decision. Arnold Allen by decision.
Tim Bissell: Calvin Kattar’s winning percentage is .636 (7-4) whereas Arnold Allen is undefeated in the UFC, so my official pick is for the Brit. Experiment aside I would still be picking Allen, based off the strength of his past performance. Arnold has always looked an intriguing prospect in the UFC, but against Dan Hooker he finally crossed the threshold of being a threat. His aggression and precision were frightening in that fight and I think that spells trouble for Kattar, who has seems to have trouble avoiding getting into wars of attrition on the feet. If Kattar stubbornly stays in the pocket after getting the worse of the stand-up exchanges, it could be a long and painful night. But even if he responds smartly and takes it to the ground (or if Allen does that after finding stiff opposition on the feet), I still see Arnold coming out on top. Arnold Allen via decision
Staff picking Kattar: Kristen
Staff picking Allen: Bissell, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Tim Means vs. Max Griffin
Zane Simon: Y’all know I love the ‘Dirty Bird’, but it feels like something of a minor miracle that, after 15 years of striking wars, Means is 4-2 since getting KO’d by Niko Price in 2019. He’s getting hurt more often than he used to, but when guys can’t put him away they struggle badly with his technical acumen for prolonged pocket exchanges. That could be Max Griffin too. After all, he’s not exactly the deepest striker around. But, he has surprising power, and a solid ability to draw opponents on to strikes in a way that I think could regularly catch Means as he tries to initiate offense behind volume and pressure. At some point in this fight, it seems like Means will get hurt. Whether he rallies and steals back the win is anyone’s guess, but I’ll take Max Griffin via TKO, round 1.
Tim Bissell: For how long he’s been in the UFC, and for how many quality opponents he’s faced, it’s pretty impressive that Means has managed to maintain a positive winning percentage (.583). Griffin, on the other hand, has quietly had 13 UFC fights in his career thus far and is a below 500 fighter (.462). So the metric is picking Means here and I’ll agree with that one, too. Means isn’t the most versatile fighter in the UFC, but what he does — he does well. And that can be enough to beat a fighter like Griffin, whose wrestling is better than Means but not enough to dominate him. I’m picking the tough and crafty Means to rebound from his last fight and hurt Griffin in the clinch (also, us Tims have to stick together). Tim Means via TKO.
Staff picking Means: Bissell, Dayne
Staff picking Griffin: Kristen, Stephie, Zane
Dustin Jacoby vs. Khalil Rountree
Tim Bissell: Jacoby has been pretty darn impressive since trading his kickboxing mitts for UFC gloves. He’s 7-0-1 (.875) in the UFC and that’s enough for the metric to pick him over Rountree (.545). I’m agreeing with this pick, too. Jacoby has a gaudy strikes landed per minute stat at 6.62, which leads active UFC light heavyweights. He’s also third in strike differential and fifth in significant strike defence. This combination of accuracy and defense could lead to an early shower for Rountree. Rountree does lead the division in knockdowns per minute, but we’ve seen on a couple of occasions now that he’s willing to take a hit to land on of his own. Dustin Jacoby via TKO.
Zane Simon: I’m honestly not sure why Dustin Jacoby took this fight. It’s incredibly dangerous and does almost nothing for his standing in the light heavyweight division. As the more consistent, defensive, and efficient striker, it’s hard not to pick him to win here. But we’ve seen Rountree be plenty violent when he finds the right openings. I’ll take Dustin Jacoby via TKO, round 3, but this could be a wild one early.
Staff picking Jacoby: Bissell, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Staff picking Rountree: Kristen
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Jared Vanderaa
Tim Bissell: The undefeated prospect gets the pick here via the metric. And it’s hard to go against that. This feels like match-making designed to showcase Cortes-Acosta, who obliterated his opponent on the Contender series. Vanderaa has a .286 winning percentage after seven Octagon contests and he looked poor last time out, falling to Chase Sherman by TKO. Waldo Cortes-Acosta via KO.
Zane Simon: Cortes-Acosta is faster, and throws in combination. Not necessarily the most important thing at heavyweight, where durability reigns supreme, but we’ve seen Vanderaa cracked on that front too. Waldo Cortes-Acosta via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Cortes-Acosta: Bissell, Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Staff picking Vanderaa:
Tresean Gore vs. Josh Fremd
Tim Bissell: Tresean Gore (0-2) has not looked at home in the UFC in his past two outings, being bested handily by Bryan Battle and Cody Brundage. Josh Fremd (0-1) lost his debut to Alex Hernandez, who looks to be somewhat of a problem in the division moving forwards. With both men’s wp tied at 0, the metric considers their overall records. Fremd has a .750 record, better than Gore’s .600 record. Fremd also has seven more fights than Gore. That experience is probably key here against a fighter a 3-2 fighter who might not be long for the Octagon. Josh Fremd by decision.
Zane Simon: Gore doesn’t seem ready to compete in the UFC, and blitzing other unready talents on the Ultimate Fighter didn’t do much to prep him. He’s likely faster and stronger than Fremd, but Fremd is longer, more aggressive, and tougher. If he goes out and puts a pace on Gore, I doubt Gore will be able to match it. Josh Fremd via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Gore:
Staff picking Fremd: Bissell, Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Tim Bissell: The metric picks Arlovski here by a very narrow margin (.050). The former champ has an impressive plus .600 record spanning his 37 fights in the promotion. You might think that is buoyed because of his early career in MMA, where he looked ferocious. However, the ‘Pitbull’ has quietly put together a 7-3 record in his last ten and a current win streak of four fights. I was an Arlovski stan when I first started watching this sport, so I’m happy to go along with this pick. I think he’ll win by continuing to shun his age (43) and put on the more active and threatening display in there against a 37-year-old opponent who might not be refined enough to land something that hurts him. Andrei Arlovski via decision.
Zane Simon: The thing with Andrei Arlovski’s recent run of success is that it mostly comes in fights where he can comfortably out-strike his opponent all the way through. He hasn’t been much of one to rally from behind once he’s lost the initiative early. And Marcos Rogerio de Lima is a guy who almost always carriers the opening round of his fights. Marcos Rogerio de Lima via KO, round 1.
Staff picking Arlovski: Bissell
Staff picking de Lima: Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Chase Hooper vs. Steve Garcia
Zane Simon: Kind of a stylistic layup for Hooper given how much wrestling and grappling have been drilled into Garcia’s aggressive style over the years. Chase Hooper via submission, round 2.
Staff picking Hooper: Bissell, Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Staff picking Garcia:
Joseph Holmes vs. Jung Yong Park
Zane Simon: Holmes’ size and willingness to stand in the pocket and pick his shots have me a little concerned about Park here, given how busy he is offensively and how much he tries to stay right in the face of his opposition. Beyond that, though, Park is the more natural, fluid striker, better wrestler, and better conditioned fighter. As long as he doesn’t get slept by one big counter, he should be able to bully his way through Holmes. Jung Yong Park via decision.
Staff picking Holmes: Bissell
Staff picking Park: Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Dayne
Roman Dolidze vs. Phil Hawes
Zane Simon: Dolidze has size and power, but his ability to be a fight finishing threat never feels consistently tied to any one technique. A lot of his fights are just spent trying to drag his opponents to the mat and grind on them. Hawes is likely too strong and compact a wrestler to make that a reasonable gameplan. After which, he’s also the much more consistent striker and varied offensive threat. Phil Hawes via decision.
Staff picking Dolidze: Bissell, Stephie, Dayne
Staff picking Hawes: Kristen, Zane
Joshua Weems vs. Christian Rodriguez
Zane Simon: I dunno, something about Rodriguez’s skill set just feels off for me. Slow paced, dynamic without a lot of connecting parts. A love of flashy sub attempts. Weems may not be a safe fighter, but he’ll go out and brawl and try to put some serious power on people. Joshua Weems by decision.
Staff picking Weems: Zane
Staff Picking Rodriguez: Bissell, Kristen, Stephie, Dayne,
Cody Durden vs. Carlos Mota
Zane Simon: If Mota isn’t in shape to take this bout on short notice, then Durden will likely put the grind to him and take over as the bout goes on. But, assuming Mota’s ready, I really like his trigger counters against Durden’s blitzing offensive style. I also don’t really trust Durden as a consistent control wrestler, in part because he seems to fade pretty hard after fast first rounds himself. I’ll take Mota to score big on a short notice gamble. Carlos Mota via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Durden: Bissell, Dayne
Staff Picking Mota: Kristen, Stephie, Zane
Anton won the week going 10-2, with his only misses being on Charles Oliveira and Petr Yan. It was also a strong week for Zane and Dayne, both of whom went 9-3. That’s enough for Zane to keep his place atop the leaderboard and for Dayne to leapfrog Kristen into second place.
My picking method was 9-3 at UFC 280, with the misses coming on Mateusz Gamrot, Sean Brady and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev. There has been some debates in the comments regarding what I’m doing with this column. Some commenters have expressed their dissatisfaction at me using this space as an open experiment with. However, there more positive reactions to negative ones. So I’m going to keep on with the experiment. Though, I will take on some aspects of the criticism and make some tweaks to try and better enhance the reading enjoyment of my specific picks. I do very much appreciate all the feedback (good and bad) and I’m looking forward to generating additional content from this picking experiment down the line. The eventual goal is to analyze a number of different metrics (one at time because that’s all I have the spoons for) and see which hold the most weight. Thank you for your patience as I take you on this journey and for tuning and sharing your opinion, on the column and the fights themselves.
Leader board (as of Sept 3):
1. Zane 53-19 .736
2. Dayne 48-21 .696
3. Kristen 41-19 .683
4. Anton 30-18 .625
5. Bissell 44-28 .611
6. Victor 18-12 .600
7. Stephie 43-29 .597
8. Lewis 3-3 .500
This poll is closed
63 votes total
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