UFC Fight Night Bold Predictions: Topuria is a more athletic, less weathered Emmett

Peer into Bloody Elbow's crystal ball for all the Bold Predictions of UFC Fight Night: Emmett vs. Topuria.

By: Dayne Fox | 3 months ago
UFC Fight Night Bold Predictions: Topuria is a more athletic, less weathered Emmett
IMAGO / Matt Davies

It’s another UFC Fight Night weekend with no end in sight. Not that I’m complaining, at least not this week. There’s some quality UFC fights for this AM card on ABC, even if they are on the understated side. In fact, in terms of pure competitiveness, the main event between Josh Emmett and Ilia Topuria appears to be one of the least interesting contests. For those close UFC fights – as well as the more obvious contests – I’ve got all the answers for how things will play out with my Bold Predictions. 

Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria | Featherweight 

For someone whose last UFC fight was for an interim title, Emmett sure is getting a lot of disrespect thrown his way. His loss to Yair Rodriguez was his first loss in five years and nary a fan thinks he’s going to emerge victorious against Topuria. Then again, Emmett is 38, has a long injury history, and has become a one-dimensional UFC fighter as he gets deeper into his career. Throw in that he didn’t even look remotely competitive against Rodriguez and it isn’t hard to see why he’s being written off. Hell, I haven’t even touched on how good Topuria is.

Topuria is a more athletic and less weathered version of Emmett. Topuria is on the short side for the division, but he packs a hell of a punch in addition to having an exceptionally strong wrestling base. Topuria is young enough too that he’s perfectly happy to use his wrestling on a regular basis as opposed to just out of desperation. Topuria is also more decorated with his BJJ than Emmett. About the only thing where Topuria doesn’t appear to have an edge over Emmett is in the power department. Oh… and the striking defense is a concern too. 

Topuria doesn’t mind eating one to deliver one given he packs one hell of a punch. But does he really want to try that with Emmett? Emmett is used to playing the role of underdog – in more ways than one – and finding some way to land that one power shot that changes the entire course of the UFC fight. That’s either putting an immediate end to it or putting the fear of God into his opponent. However, indications are Emmett is pressing. He’s never attempted a turnaround off a loss this quick before. Things normally don’t turn out well for a typically patient veteran who begins to press. 

Prediction: Topuria via TKO of RD2 

Amanda Ribas vs. Maycee Barber | Women’s Flyweight 

Barber hasn’t been able to fully recover her lost hype – though she has maintained the vitriol fans harbored for her – but she has certainly done her part to earn it back. Her fight IQ can be questioned, but her work ethic can’t, nor can her physical strength. There’s no question she’ll be physically stronger than Ribas. The question is whether she can be slick enough to outmaneuver the tricky Brazilian. All indications from the peanut gallery are that Ribas has this in the bag, but I’m not so sure. 

Ribas hasn’t been easy to hold down on the mat, but she has also been fighting at 115 for the majority of her UFC career. Some may point out Barber used to fight at 115 herself, but the last time Barber fought there was almost five years ago at the age of 20. Barber is an absolute bull and Ribas can be finished. Ultimately, while I have more hesitation than the general populace, I do ultimately agree with them that Ribas ultimately has speed and athleticism to outwork the younger UFC fighter, but I wouldn’t ever consider putting money on it. 

Prediction: Ribas via decision 

Austen Lane vs. Justin Tafa | Heavyweight 

Lane has almost every advantage in this UFC fight. He’s more athletic. He’s longer. He’s better conditioned. He’s probably even the better ground fighter. However, there’s two areas that Tafa holds clear cut advantages in: power and durability. Tafa’s defense is worse than Lane, but Tafa isn’t going to crumble if Lane lands something clean on his chin. The same won’t be true if Tafa connects on Lane. There’s an outside chance Lane avoids the killshot and outpoints Tafa, but I wouldn’t count on it. 

Prediction: Tafa via KO of RD1 


David Onama vs. Gabriel Santos | Featherweight 

While Onama has made visible strides in his UFC run, it still feels like he’s far from being a finished product. Either that, or he’s never going to be known for his fight IQ. The mistakes he makes are the types that are typically attributed to inexperience, so there’s hope his power and wrestling can shine through. However, even though Santos has less professional experience, he’s a far more polished product, particularly on the mat. Santos is slick enough with his takedowns, I see him exercising enough control to take a close decision in this UFC fight. 

Prediction: Santos via decision 

Brendan Allen vs. Bruno Silva | Middleweight 

After Allen’s win over Andre Muniz, Santos looks like a step backwards. Then again, Silva is also the type of fighter Allen has struggled with. While well-rounded, Allen has a history of accepting his opponent’s fight. More concerning than that – at least against Silva – his chin has proven to be crackable against the craftiest of strikers. Silva isn’t a technical marvel, but he’s proven to be savvy at putting his fist on his opponent’s chin… and few have more power. 

What made Allen’s win over Muniz so impressive was he controlled large portions of the fight on the mat against the skilled grappler. However, he was also selective about when the fight hit the mat, showing a greater ability to dictate where the fight takes place than he has in the past. Thus, while the risk factor of him accepting his opponent’s fight is still there, he’s far more calculated in his risks than he has been in the past. For that reason, I say Silva is a test he’ll be able to pass before moving on to bigger UFC fights. 

Prediction: Allen via decision 

Neil Magny vs. Philip Rowe | Welterweight 

There isn’t a single area in which Magny excels. However, there also isn’t a single area in which he has a significant weakness. That is, provided he isn’t facing an elite grappler. Fortunately for Magny, Rowe is more of a striker than he is a grappler, at least in the UFC. Despite that, there’s been plenty of buzz that Rowe is in position to upend the welterweight division’s eternal gatekeeper as Magny has been showing signs of age. At 35 with 29 previous UFC fights, it isn’t an unreasonable position to be taking. 

It helps Rowe’s cause that he’s making strides in every one of his UFC contests. Whether it’s growing more comfortable with the use of his reach – he’s one of the few who can match Magny in that department – or identifying an opponent’s weakness. However, Magny is a HUGE step up for him and Rowe’s takedown defense is weak. Plus, I haven’t seen enough out of Rowe in the clinch to be convinced he’ll be able to avoid falling into the type of fight Magny excels at. It’ll be a hell of a learning experience for Rowe… provided he can make weight for this UFC fight. 

Prediction: Magny via decision 

Randy Brown vs. Wellington Turman | Welterweight 

Given his strong grappling base, Turman is likely making the right move going down to 170. Unfortunately for him, it’s a much deeper division and Brown is still bigger and more athletic than Turman. Most damning, Brown has improved his wrestling greatly from his early UFC fights. If the bout stays standing, Turman doesn’t have the power or technique to compete with the lankier Brown. This is my most confident pick on the card. 

Prediction: Brown via decision 

Mateusz Rebecki vs. Loik Radzhabov | Lightweight 

As wide as he is tall, Rebecki is a hard-charging spark plug. Of course, anyone who knows MMA history knows those type have a limited ceiling in a division like lightweight in the modern day. Stylistically, Radzhabov is similar Rebecki, emphasizing power shots and takedowns. However, Radzhabov has faced superior competition and doesn’t have the same history of gassing out that Rebecki has. It feels logical to believe Rebecki is going to hit a hard wall in this UFC fight. 

Prediction: Radzhabov via decision 

Tabatha Ricci vs. Gillian Robertson | Women’s Strawweight 

Robertson looked like a world-beater in her strawweight debut. Her wrestling was immensely more effective now that she’s the bigger and stronger UFC fighter, playing well into her opportunistic submission stylings. However, while she is bigger than Ricci, she isn’t as technical on the mat, nor is she as aggressive on the feet. Ricci has faced solid grapplers and mopped the floor with them. Combine that with Robertson’s willingness to work off her back and I see Ricci being a terrible matchup for the Canadian. 

Prediction: Ricci via decision 

Zhalgas Zhumagulov vs. Joshua Van | Flyweight 

There isn’t a person who doesn’t like what they’ve seen from Van. He’s athletic, explosive, and has a killer instinct that could make him a real force in the flyweight division. He’s also 21 with almost no attention paid to maintaining a reasonable form of defense. Against a wily veteran like Zhumagulov, he’ll have a hard time overwhelming him. Zhumagulov isn’t a great athlete, but he’s seen it all and knows how to make a UFC fight gritty and grimy in addition to being tough as nails. Van could be a major player in the future, but this is likely a learning experience for him. 

Prediction: Zhumagulov via decision 

Trevor Peek vs. Chepe Mariscal | Lightweight 

At this juncture, Mariscal is the better UFC fighter. He’s got more high-level experience, better wins, a better gas tank, and is the more technical fighter by a wide margin. However, he’s also a natural featherweight and stylistically matches up poorly with the hard-hitting Peek. Being a late replacement for this UFC fight doesn’t help his case either. In other words, I get where so many are picking Peek. Despite that, I see Mariscal surviving the early onslaught and taking advantage of a flagging Peek. 

Prediction: Mariscal via TKO of RD3 

Jamall Emmers vs. Jack Jenkins | Featherweight 

It doesn’t take a lot of footage to see Jenkins has a limited ceiling thanks to his physical tools restricting him. It also doesn’t take a lot to see his hard-nosed approach means he’ll be breaking many opponents more gifted than himself. I’m not sure Emmers is one he’ll be able to do that to. Emmers has excellent takedown defense and has refined his outside striking to take advantage of his freakish reach. He’s also a big step up from anything the much smaller Jenkins has faced. Emmers will be too much for the action-fighting Aussie in this UFC fight. 

Prediction: Emmers via decision 

Tatsuro Taira vs. Kleydson Rodrigues | Flyweight 

Expectations are high for both these youthful 125ers, but particularly Taira. The Japanese native is tight and technical on the mat, both in his wrestling and grappling. While his striking is coming along, it still isn’t quite at the level of what Rodrigues can offer in this UFC fight. The Brazilian is explosive with wicked low kicks. However, he has long stretches where his technique slips and a questionable gas tank. Those aren’t issues for Taira. The route is there for Rodrigues, but there aren’t as many bumps in the road for Taira’s path to have his hand raised. 

Prediction: Taira via submission of RD3 

Cody Brundage vs. Sedriques Dumas | Middleweight 

Many prognosticators – myself included – were blinded by Dumas athleticism an immense frame for his debut UFC fight, ignoring his fraudulent record. That doesn’t mean he isn’t talented, but he’s still got a lot to learn, and the UFC isn’t the best place to be doing that. Brundage is no world beater, but he’s hardened himself against much tougher competition than Dumas and his in-your-face style should prove problematic for Dumas. Brundage’s chin might give bettors reason to pause, but his grinding out Dumas is the most likely outcome in this UFC fight. 

Prediction: Brundage via submission of RD2 

Share this story

About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

More from the author

Bloody Elbow Podcast
Related Stories