UFC on ESPN 30: Chikadze vs Gastelum - Predictions - 8/28/21

Main Card

Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze

An awesome main event that is going to be very difficult to call. This one will play out on the feet for as long as it lasts. Barboza looked fantastic in his last fight with Shane Burgos. He was firing leg kicks at high volume and countering with his hands beautifully. It led to a pretty bizarre finishing sequence (the fight is available for free on YouTube right now, worth a watch). Edson is as skilled a kickboxer as they come and is a huge featherweight.

Chikadza has also looked fantastic lately, putting away his last two opponents with his kicking arsenal. He also usually enjoys a big size advantage as a 6 foot featherweight. He won’t enjoy that advantage for this one.

For me, I think if Edson fights Chikadze by putting him on the back foot constantly, he could win a wide decision. We’ve seen Chikadze struggle a bit when that happens. I don’t really see Edson doing that however. He generally likes to keep things at range and engage that way. So what we are going to get is two kickboxers who like to reset and throw from mid to long range. Barboza has a huge edge in experience in MMA but honestly that isn’t going to play a factor here since this will end up being a kickboxing battle (and Chikadze has a ton of kickboxing bouts).

I’m ultimately going to side with Chikadze on this one. Both guys are super durable and rarely finished by strikes (I have watched some of Chikadze’s kickboxing bouts and he’s been KO’d before but never in MMA) but with no grappling threat, I’ll give the slightest edge to Chikadze. I’ve just seen Barboza throw away too many winnable fights that were purely stand up. If the Barboza who fought Burgos shows up then expect a good battle from bell to bell. But even in that fight he looked a bit laboured after the first minute and 30 of every round which could give a slight edge to Chikadze and his measured pace.

Prediction: Giga Chikadze

Bryan Battle vs. Gilbert Urbina

I like Urbina’s breadth of competition more than Battle’s here. We saw on TUF, Battle gave up his back and paid for it pretty dearly. If that happens here then Urbina locks it up. If Urbina keeps it on the feet the entire time then he may suffer a similar fate that he suffered in the semis (although I don’t think Battle has the kind of power Gore has). I’m going to bank on Urbina making some adjustments after suffering his first KO loss and goes back to his bread and butter - back control

Prediction: Gilbert Urbina

Ricky Turcios vs. Brady Hiestand

Once more I’m going with the guy with the better pedigree in Turcios. Combined with the fact that Turcios’ weird janky style and decent takedown defense is a great skillset to take out Hiestand. If you look through the fighters Hiestand has defeated, it’s in complete can crushing territory. One guy is 0-9 FFS. Turcios should take it.

Prediction: Ricky Turcios

Kevin Lee vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Sort of like the main event, this is a great matchup with a lot of question marks. D-Rod is really a one note striker. However, he is very good at it. He has power, but is also good at breaking a fighter down through attrition. He’s a southpaw and has pretty solid takedown defense (although Perry tossing him around a couple times in his last fight put a dent in his %).

Lee is being forced back up to welterweight after missing weight his last time out against Oliveira. He really has a clear path to victory in this one which is relying on his wrestling. He could even snatch up a rear naked choke if Rodriguez gives up his back when trying to get back to his feet. However, Lee will self-destruct better than anyone. Despite having such a long reach, he’s still pretty short for the division as well (at 5’9”) so the 6’1” foot Rodriguez may be able to use that for some additional takedown defense leverage.

Again, a very tough one to call since Lee has so much potential and is way more well rounded. I just don’t trust his fight IQ and his heart really. Willingly grappling with Charles Oliveira really only ends one way. Not to mention Rodriguez has a decent guillotine of his own so Lee isn’t totally safe with his wrestling route. I’m thinking this could be a very close competitive fight, maybe even split decision territory but I’m ultimately going to go with D-Rod until Lee can show me he can do something at welterweight.

Prediction: Daniel Rodriguez

Andre Petroski vs. Micheal Gillmore

Both of these guys aren’t great but Gilmore is by far the inferior fighter here. He has wins over terrible opposition and has submitted 3 times already in his 9 fights. Petroski should be able to grapple and get a submission here but I would not be surprised if he just gasses out and lets Gilmore steal the fight. This fight should be buried on the prelims.

Winner: Andre Petroski

Makhmud Muradov vs. Gerald Meerschaert

I see this going the same way as Meerschaert's fight with Chimaev. Muradov most likely exploits his huge speed advantage and sleeps him early. Muradov has never been taken down, never really goes for takedowns and seems smart enough to know where his edge is. Meerschaert must have pissed someone off in the matchmaking department cause this is rough.

Prediction: Makhmud Muradov

My Picks in Bold

Preliminary Card

Alessio Di Chirico vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan

Sam Alvey vs. Wellington Turman

Dustin Jacoby vs. Darren Stewart

JJ Aldrich vs. Vanessa Demopoulos

Jamall Emmers vs. Pat Sabatini

Guido Canneti vs. Mana Martinez

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Donnie Vee

Ever since renting my first UFC VHS at my local video store, I’ve been in love with the sport of MMA. I’ve watched every single fight that has ever taken place under the UFC banner over the past 25 years. Once I started doing incredibly well in fantasy leagues, I realized I could utilize my skills in fight analytics to make a profit on betting. My obsession with researching every aspect of a fight gave me a real edge in finding value. Since then, it's been one profitable year after the next. Watching your favorite sport is good, but getting paid while watching your favorite sport is better.