UFC on ESPN 29: Gastelum vs Cannonier - Predictions - 8/21/21
Jared Cannonier vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Should be a fun main event since both guys are pretty aggressive and very hittable. Both men recently got shut out by Robert Whittaker in their last fights and there’s no shame in that as The Reaper is world class.
The argument here in Gastelum’s favor is that he has knockout power, has never been knocked out, has both the youth and experience edge, and is a southpaw. He also has a wrestling game that he sometimes brings out (see the Ian Heinisch victory). On Cannonier’s side, he’ll have half a foot of reach on his opponent, is a decent striker, good gas tank, has shown power of his own at all points of the fight, and will be quite a bit bigger.
We’ve seen Cannonier knocked out and tko’d before but that was only to much larger men. We’ve seen him taken down and controlled on the ground but again, only against light heavies. Since his middleweight change though, those issues have seemed to disappear. And despite mentioning Gastelum’s durability earlier, we have seen him rocked and wobbled a number of times.
For me this will come down to the size difference. Gastelum is a very undersized middleweight and Cannonier is an athletic beast. And despite carrying all that muscle, his gas tank seems to be better than Gastelum’s. If Kelvin doesn’t get the KO finish early, I think this one favours Cannonier down the stretch. I’m sure both guys will be trading one-two’s and alternating who leads the dance but I’m going to side with Cannonier here to land the more telling blows and either sway the judges or get a finish. The southpaw thing does give me pause but he seemed smart enough to attack the lead leg of the last southpaw he faced so I’ll take Killa Gorilla
Prediction: Jared Cannonier
Clay Guida vs. Mark Madsen
Actually a difficult fight to call. It would be easy to say, well Guida’s path to victory has always been wrestling and he’s going up against an olympic silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling so it should be domination for Madsen. But it’s not really quite that simple. Guida has improved his stand up as of late which makes his erratic footwork a tricky puzzle to figure out when there’s an ever present grappling threat. His tireless, relentless pressure is still there even at 39. And he’s never really ever been out wrestled for long stretches.
Madsen is a great prospect but is still relatively new to MMA. He’s undefeated yes but is incredibly one note. Which you can’t really blame him since that one note is elite level. However, he has fought absolutely no one good, is no spring chicken himself at 36, and has shown his gas tank is suspect. At that age and time of entry into the UFC, it’s rare for a fighter to all of a sudden vastly round out the rest of the skillset so expect wrestling to remain his only path to victory.
For you live bettors, this could be a golden opportunity as Madsen’s wrestling edge will be most prevalent in round 1. If he doesn’t sink in a choke however and Guida survives, I think the fight could swing in his favor for round 2 and 3. This could very well be an ugly grind into split decision territory but I’m going to have to see Madsen defeat someone good before I buy the hype. Guida will also be able to score a knockout as he’s been sitting down on his punches more and dangerous later into the fight. I’ll take The Carpenter to spoil the Olympian’s party for this one.
Prediction: Clay Guida
Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter
Parker Porter absorbs 7.36 significant strikes per minute while Chase Sherman takes 5.77. Those numbers at heavyweight are disastrous for becoming any sort of top contender. It will hopefully at least mean one of these guys are getting finished in this one. We don’t want to watch a repeat of Porter and Parisian which saw the pace grind to slo mo after the first minute of round 1. I’ll take Sherman to get the W here but he will be in very real danger during that first minute.
Prediction: Chase Sherman
Saidyokub Kahkramonov vs. Trevin Jones
Short notice replacement fight here as Kahkramonov replaces Jones’ original opponent on less than a week’s notice. It will also be Kahkramonov’s octagon debut.
From the footage I found on Kahkramonov, it is clear that he throws most of his shots with full power. Completely winging them with everything into it. He did tighten that up a bit in his last fight but it seems like a bad style to go against a counter puncher as slick as Jones. The lead uppercut he caught his last opponent (Bautista) with was a thing of beauty as well, showing that he can lead the dance as well as counter.
If the finishing blow doesn’t materialize for Jones, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kahkramonov pull off the upset through volume but there’s too much in Jones’ favor for this one for me to go against him. He also seems to not be phased by any short notice changes.
Edit: Kahkramonov missed weight for this which confirms he probably wasn't in a fight camp already, and instead is just taking the opportunity. All the more reason to favour Jones.
Prediction: Trevin Jones
Vinc Pichel vs. Austin Hubbard
Oddsmakers have this as dead even and I can’t say I agree. Vinc Pichel, even at 39 seems to be all around better than Hubbard. If he comes in with a wrestling game plan then I expect Hubbard to be on his back a lot. He’s more apt to strike a bit and then close out his combinations with grappling which should also work wonders.
If for some reason the fight stays on the feet the entire time it could end up being closer as Hubbard will not go away quietly in the stand up realm.
Solecki and Madsen both exploited the grappling edge on Hubbard and I expect Pichel to do the same. Hubbard is at that age and point in his career where big improvements can happen in between camps but I'm sticking with Pichel.
Prediction: Vinc Pichel
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval
Tune into this one folks, one of the better fights on the card. Stylistically this looks to be in favour of Pantoja. He’s also incredibly durable having never been finished in his 28 fight career. I just think this will be too much too soon for Royval who was last seen suffering a shoulder injury as Brandon Moreno pounded on his face.
Royval looked pretty hittable during that fight against a better technician in Moreno. Pantoja’s aggression and technique should give him the edge to exploit that gap. Also, Royval giving up his back for long stretches just plays into Pantoja’s strengths as well since he sports a huge pile of rear naked choke wins. The Cannibal should prove too much for Royval.
Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja
Undercard Picks in Bold
Austin Lingo vs. Luis Saldana
Brian Kelleher vs. Domingo Pilarte
Bea Malecki vs. Josiane Nunes
William Knight vs. Fabio Cherant
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Ignacio Bahamondes
Sasha Palatnikov vs. Ramiz Brahimaj