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UFC 252: Heavy-hitters return along with one fighter’s last fight

Welcome back to the APEX! UFC 252 returns to Las Vegas with an impressive action-packed main card. A night full of fighters looking to make a name for themselves across the world, as well as two warriors who have solid histories in the UFC. Both with enough wins to end up in the UFC hall of fame.  Let’s review the fights and make some predictions for UFC 252!

Stipe Miocic (19-3-0) VS Daniel Cormier (22-2-0-1NC)

What a massive fight! The trilogy bout between these two monsters of men is finally happening! It brings an action-packed history of back-and-forth with each fighter having a win over the other. Touted as Cormier’s final fight, he wants to leave on top by taking the belt from Miocic and running out the door!  Both fighters have heavy hands and bring excellent striking ability into the octagon.

Prediction: Last match, Miocic utilized hard-hitting body shots to set up the TKO and win late into the fight. Miocic was behind in every aspect, according to the judges. So expect him to exploit this tactic a second time. Cormier has learned from the previous match and will hope Miocic opens himself up when going for those body blows, allowing him to capitalize on delivering massive hooks to the face. I think this fight will go to the third round, and Cormier will be able to end the battle by KO over Miocic. He is striving to cement himself as one of the best fighters the UFC has ever seen. The question will be, though, after such a win, can Cormier leave on top or feel the need to defend the title one more time?

Sean O’Malley (12-0-0) VS Marlon Vera (15-6-1)

A Bantamweight bout for O’Malley to show he’s not just hype and deserves a title shot. Can he keep up this undefeated streak? O’Malley has exploded onto the UFC scene with four amazing highlight-reel worthy fights and quickly trying to become the number one contender for the belt. Something which his over the top personality is helping to move along the way. Vera is his biggest challenge yet with nine wins in the UFC so far. Vera is a blackbelt in jiu-jitsu and never knocked out in the ring. This matchup is a clash of styles.

Prediction: O’Malley has sandman hands and can put anyone to sleep, but Vera is experienced and has already lost, releasing some pressure. O’Malley attempting to show off O’Malley even dyed his hair in his opponents home country colors of Ecuador. Instead of taking the bait of being angry about it, Vera has suggested that shows O’Malley is desperate and scared of his takedown abilities. I agree with Vera and think he will capitalize on the smaller octagon and submit O’Malley in the first round after using the cage to assist in a takedown.

Junior Dos Santos (21-7-0) VS Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1-0)

These two heavyweights want to be contenders! Dos Santos is looking to climb back to the top, and Rozenstruik intends to keep building his name. Dos Santos is an experienced fighter who can take a punch the same as he can dish it out. He is consistently in the top five but can’t seem to stay afloat at the top. Rozensruik is hungry and wants to get that belt, but still new to the UFC. This fight definitely will propel one to a title shot and push the other out of the top rankings. 

Prediction: I’m torn on this fight and hope that Dos Santos is smart enough to take it to the ground. Rozenstruik is an experienced kickboxer, so I don’t see him getting knocked out. I think this will go to a decision and believe the veteran Dos Santos will take the win. 

Herbert Burns (11-2-0) VS Daniel Pineda (26-13-0-2 NC)

A featherweight matchup starring a fighter who always goes for the finish and doesn’t leave it to the judges, and that is Pineda. I’m interested in this fight specifically for that. Burns is an up-and-comer, and this will be his third fight at the Apex. Burns has taken this fight on short notice and puts his five-win streak to the test. Burn’s goal is to show he will fight anywhere, anytime, and hopes to have four total fights in 2020; this will be his third. Pineda, though, is having his first fight back in the UFC after six years away. He’s had a lot of drama, including a drug test failure and a six-month suspension while in the PFL. Part of his punishment was his two last fights were changed to no contest. Both fighters are looking to utilize UFC 252  to make a statement.

Prediction: Pineda is hungry for redemption, and I expect a herculean effort by him to eliminate any doubts about his absence and bury questions of his drug test failures. Burns, though, respects his opponents and takes them all seriously. Couple that with the fantastic grappling he has demonstrated in his last two fights, I believe Burns will grab the submission in the second round and win.

John Dodson (22-11-0) VS Merab Dvalishvili (11-4-0)

A Bantamweight matchup with Dodson acting as gatekeeper to Dvalishvili’s attempts to run up the ladder. Dodson’s hands have even dropped Petr Yan, and that must be taken into consideration going into this battle. If Dvalishvili can push through without changing his style, it should lock him into a top ten contender next. I don’t see Dodson getting much out of this if he wins, but it does add weight to him, possibly getting another title shot down the line.

Prediction: Dvalishvili is a wrestler and will look for a submission, but Dodson has a left hand made of concrete that he should avoid to pull through this fight. If Dvalishvili keeps his chin down and pressure up, he will pull off the win, but it will be a decision. 

UFC 252 looks to be an impressive and enthralling card that will make history for the UFC. I’m excited to watch and hope you will tune in as well on Saturday, 15 August, at 10 pm EST on ESPN+. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a legends final fight!

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