UFC on ESPN+ 50: Spann vs Smith - Predictions - 9/18/21
Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann
If you put all of your stock into octagon experience then Smith would be a giant favorite here. However, that experience is over 50 pro fights and buckets of head trauma for “Lionheart”. His strikes absorbed per minute also shot way up to 4.36 with a dreadful 42% defense. This was most likely from the Glover Teixeira massacre which saw Smith suffer a broken orbital bone, broken nose, and two lost teeth. Smith still criticized the ref for accepting blame for letting the beating go on that long, which should show you Smith’s mentality, durability and heart can’t be questioned.
Will that heart be enough to carry him past any tough spots Spann puts him in remains to be answered.
Spann is a pretty fast starter and tends to throw some heavy shots on route to a clinch entry. He’s big and athletic, decent at getting the fight down to the mat, has some noticeable power as well as a sneaky guillotine. He’s not the most technically savvy striker so he to gets hit a lot. There are a number of paths to victory here for Spann. His usual blitz could very well hurt Smith and end the fight outright. Or he can initiate the clinch which he always does and turn this into a grind, utilizing his size and athletic advantage to control the fight. Potentially getting the fight to the mat and avoiding Smith’s submissions while racking up top control to steal rounds.
The problem with both of those routes is Smith has proven incredibly durable as mentioned so getting one-shotted seems unlikely. And on the ground, Smith is a black belt vs Spann’s blue belt so there will be an everlasting threat the longer it stays in that realm. Of course, Smith has been submitted a pile of times throughout his career as well but not since 2013.
Ultimately I’m going to side with Smith to rely on his experience advantage, durability, and the fact he is a better technical striker and submission artist than his opponent. If he messes around and hangs out in guard like we saw him do in past fights, at least he has 5 rounds at which to work.
Prediction: Anthony Smith
Ion Cuțelaba vs. Devin Clark
This seems like a tough matchup for Devin Clark as his main path to victory will involve duplicating his Mennifield fight. That largely involved a grinding, wrestling attack to stifle his opponent’s offense. That probably won’t work well against Cutelaba who is solid enough in the grappling realm to keep Clark off him. And at that point, every second Clark stays on the feet puts him in danger of getting wrecked as Cutelaba’s power is no joke. There is the added question of Cutelaba’s gas tank but he seems to be pacing himself a bit better recently. If he regressed a bit in that department however then I’d expect Clark having a real chance of taking over late and driving this towards split decision land.
I just can’t shake the notion however that every second Clark is in the cage he just appears like he does not want to be in a fist fight. Whereas Cutelaba seems unbalanced enough to enjoy being punched in the face and/or inflicting punishment. I’m going to bank on “The Hulk’s” takedown defense being good enough to keep the fight on the feet, at which point he will knock Clark dead early.
Prediction: Ion Cutelaba
Ariane Lipski vs. Mandy Böhm
Great acquisition by the UFC to pick up Mandy Bohm. This seems to be a pretty tough challenge for her as she makes her debut though. Lipski is leaps and bounds better than anyone Bohm has ever fought and I don’t think Bohm has the power to finish “The Queen of Violence” standing. However, Lipski has shown a considerable lapse in defending takedowns as she really is reckless as hell on the feet which leads to over extending and double leg susceptibility. And that really is Bohm’s bread and butter. In striker vs grappler matchups I almost always side with the grappler when the striker has poor takedown defense, but I’m going to go against my head and side with my gut here and take Lipski. Bohm won’t have her usual size advantage in this one and I’d say she strikes just enough to get herself into hot water with the Brazilian.
Prediction: Ariane Lipski
Arman Tsarukyan vs. Christos Giagos
The biggest mismatch on the card in the eyes of the bookies. Giagos really needs to rely on his grappling to secure W’s and Tsarukyan is just way better in that department. This leaves Giagos only route of victory being able to outstrike Tsarukyan and that seems equally unlikely. On the flipside, Giagos is a tough veteran so I expect him to be composed enough to make this more interesting than the lopsided odds suggest. Can’t really fault someone for going with the 5 to 1 play and hope 4 ounce gloves saves the day for the underdog but I’m going to side with Tsarukyan making it 4 in a row on route to a wide decision.
Prediction: Arman Tsarukyan
Joaquin Buckley vs. Antônio Arroyo
Well this will be the first fight for Arroyo where his opponent isn’t relentlessly trying to take him down. Despite being at a reach disadvantage to Buckley, Arroyo will be quite a bit taller. Which means it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he duplicates Di Chirico’s success with head kicks. Admittedly, he opts to body kick a bit more than head kick but at 5’10 for Buckley, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go up stairs more with those kicks (especially after Buckley’s last fight). Buckley, to the surprise of no one, will be headhunting for the KO the entire fight. He’s so athletic that Arroyo most likely won’t get the fight to the mat so it should pan out on the feet for as long as it lasts. Reading that you would think “well this goes to the violent knockout artist all day then” but I’m not so sure. Buckley’s chin is incredibly suspect and Arroyo has never been finished by strikes. Some additional x factors for consideration are Arroyo’s fairly weak gas tank (although grapple intense match ups will showcase that more than striking battles) and how Buckley will respond to a very brutal KO loss.
At the end of the day though, Arroyo’s kick heavy game means he keeps his hands pretty low and that is just a bad idea against someone like Buckley. If he ducks into another head kick in round 1 then so be it but I’m going to side with him avoiding that fight ending strike and out striking Arroyo on route to decision. I can see either outcome happening so clearly that I really don’t have much confidence in the pick but there you have it.
Prediction: Joaquin Buckley
Nate Maness vs. Tony Gravely
I fully expect Gravely to be on Maness like stink on a monkey for this one. Although Maness’s victory over Sanders was very impressive in my books, Gravely poses a different challenge. He’s going to be spamming takedowns and he’s shown to make great decisions to regain positions before hammering away with GnP. I’d say Gravely does enough to win 2 rounds. I won’t be surprised if he slows down in the third and Maness has some success late however but hopefully the rounds Gravely takes are undeniable to the judges.
Prediction: Tony Gravely
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