On the 23rd of April in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, UFC 197 will take place. It is a pay-per-view event and will follow on from the prelims that are being shown on Fox Sports 1 along with UFC Fight Pass. At present, the bout order has not been finalized. With the excitement building, it has led to many experts and pundits making UFC fight predictions. Below I look at the new fights added to the card along with giving our UFC expert fight picks.
The long awaited comeback of Jon Jones has been confirmed, and he will headline UFC 197. It was to be for the title against Daniel Cormier, the current holder of the light heavyweight belt. However the rematch between the two titans was put on hold as Daniel Cormier suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the fight.
Jones was stripped of this title back at UFC 187. The mixed martial artist was involved in a hit and run accident and was put on suspension by the UFC. Jon “Bones” Jones is thought to be the best pound for pound fighter by many pundits. Jones last fight in the octagon was against Cormier, who he beat convincingly on points. When Jones was suspended, Cormier fought for the vacant title and had been Champion ever since.
Without a shadow of doubt Jones deserves an instant shot at regaining his title, since his suspension has been lifted. It should be a very exciting card with Demetrious Johnson the current flyweight belt holder putting it on the line against Henry Cejudo.
Most fight fans that follow the UFC will agree that Jon Jones is the best fighter that has ever entered the Octagon. At the young age of 23 years old, he managed to win the light heavyweight belt from Shogun Rua. During his reign as Champion, he defended his belt eight times which is the record for the UFC light heavyweight division.
Through Jones career in the UFC, he has dominated everyone apart from Alexander Gustafsson. Speaking in an interview, Jones said that was the fight that made him realize that he had to train for fights. It just goes to show how good he is when he dominated everyone without putting the hours into training that all others in the sport do.
Jones has every tool in the box available to him and with his athleticism along with a long reach, it is hard to see anyone beating him. During his first fight with Cormier he dominated him and even took him down twice for the first ever time in his career. Too bad that Daniel Cormier had to pull out due to an injury.
Fighters having to pull out of title fights due to injury seems to be a common theme recently. It is one of the risks associated with being a professional MMA fighter. Now you need to be ready to step up at short notice like Nate Diaz did so expertly well against Conor Mcgregor.
The Jones vs. Cormier battle had all the ingredients to be one of the most epic battles inside the Octagon that have ever been seen. Two fighters have not hated each other as much as these two do. The exciting thing for fight fans is getting to see them put to bed their long feud once and for all. When Cormier injured his leg just a few days ago, fans were left devastated around the world that we would miss out on this bloody affair.
The light heavyweight division is lacking in-depth at the moment, which made it difficult to decide on the best replacement for DC. After much contemplation, the UFC decided to replace Cormier with Ovince Saint Preux. The fight will be for the Interim title at 205 pounds. Jones has trained hard for UFC 197 and after taking up powerlifting, it will be interesting to see how much he has improved. He should be far too skilled for OSP and has a huge advantage of having a full training camp.
Our UFC fight predictions are that Jones will win by knockout with three rounds.
Jon Jones V.S Ovince ST. Preux
|Fighter||Jon Jones||Ovince St. Preux|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||4.26||2.67|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||54%||51%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||1.97||1.82|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||66%||48%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||2.3||1.49|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||94%||63%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0.7||0.7|
Current odds on April 6 th
Demetrious Johnson V.S Henry Cejudo
|Fighter||D. Johnson||Henry Cejudo|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||3.46||3.78|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||52%||46%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||1.81||2|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||65%||74%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||3.62||2.25|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||65%||100%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0.4||0.2|
The co-main card event at UFC 197 is Johnson Vs. Cejudo. Mighty Mouse has looked unstoppable since winning the flyweight belt and many argue the pound for pound king in mixed martial arts. He has defended his title seven times and is well rounded in all aspects of the sport. Demetrious will be in for a tough night though as Cejudo has to look fantastic so far. He can give anyone in the division a problem with his high-level wrestling and knockout power. During his last outing in the octagon, he beat Jussier Formiga at Fight Night 78. The fighter will have to put on a better performance if he wants to take the belt from Johnson. UFC fight predictions Johnson victory by points decision.
Anthony Pettis Vs. Edson Barboza
|Fighter||Anthony Pettis||Edson Barboza|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||2.32||3.93|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||43%||41%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||2.05||3.53|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||59%||64%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||0.99||0.65|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||61%||83%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||1.3||0.1|
In the lightweight division, two of the top ranked fighter will battle it out. Anthony Pettis the former belt holder who is currently ranked third will fight Edson Barboza, who is ranked eighth. It is a defining fight for both as the winner will be the hot favourite for a shot at the title. The loser will drop down the pecking order and will need to win a few more time before getting their shot at the belt. Both fighters like to keep it on their feet, so it should be an explosive battle.
Pettis won the belt for the lightweight championship at the final World Extreme Cagefighting event that took place before the UFC purchased Zuffa, the company that hosted the events. He faces Henderson, which has a blood bath and one of the best fights in history.
In the UFC, his record stands at 5 – 3 which include two title defences of the belt. Pettis is an exciting fighter and very popular with fans due to been involved in epic battles. In half of the fights he has taken place in, he has earned a bonus for fight of the night.
Pettis is on a two-fight losing streak after defeats to Rafael dos Anjos along with Eddie Alvarez in his last fight. Both of his opponents gave the fighter no room to work which limited his main weapons of attack.
Edson Barboza is also on a bad run of form and out of his last three fights he has only one once. Even with these losses, he still has an impressive record in the UFC of 10 – 4. He is one of the most popular Brazilians and is known for his powerful kicks. He has picked up an impressive three TKO victories through his leg kicks during his professional UFC career. During UFC 142 Barboza knocked out his opponent via a wheel kick which is voted by most fans as the best of all time KO`s.
Barboza`s background is kickboxing and Muay Thai. He managed 22 Muay Thai and 25 kickboxing wins before joining the UFC.He last entered the Octagon at the TUF 22 Finale. It was an epic back and forth fight against Tony Ferguson who came out victorious by submitting Barboza. UFC 197 betting tips – Pettis victory by decision.
Sergio Pettis vs Chris Kelades
The second new fight to be added to the UFC 197 card is Pettis vs. Kelades. In his last outing, Pettis managed to beat Chris Cariaso a former challenger for the title by a unanimous points decision. He is a lot younger than his opponent at 22-year-old compared to 35 but is not highly experienced inside the Octagon. He has had four fights in the UFC and his record stands at 3 – 1.
Kelades Is a fighter that has made the switch from Bellator to the UFC. In his professional début back in 2014, he faced Paddy Holohan, who he beat in “The Fight of the Night” picking up a nice big bonus. He has recently rebounded after losing to Ray Borg by defeating Chris Beal by a split points decision back in August.
Our UFC expert fight picks for this battle is Pettis winning by points.
Esparza vs Lima
It has been a long time since Esparza last entered the Octagon. Her last outing she lost to Joanna Jedrzjeczyk by TKO in the second round and lost her belt in the process. That fight was over one year ago and before that loss, she was dominating the division.
Lima has just won two fights in a row and achieved points decisions over Nina Ansaroff and Ericka Almeida. She lost in the début to Jedrzejczyk back in 2014 by a unanimous points decision.
Our UFC fight predictions are that Esparza will win by points.
Robert Whittaker Vs. Rafael Natal
|Fighter||Robert Whittaker||Rafael Natal|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||4.77||3.02|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||39%||48%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||4.06||2.09|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||64%||60%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||0.72||2.84|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||92%||78%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0||0.6|
In the middleweight division Robert Whittaker will take on Rafael Natal. Whittaker is ranked eighth and is on a four-fight winning streak. He will not have it all his way though as Natal, who is ranked twelfth is also on a winning run of four in a row.
In Whittaker`s last outing he defeated highly rated, and eleventh ranked fighter Uriah Hall. Natal`s last appearance in the octagon was against Kevin Casey, who he knocked out. Our UFC Predictions Robert Whittaker by Decision
Yair Rodriguez Vs. Andre Fili
|Fighter||Yair Rodriguez||Andre Fili|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||3.16||3.86|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||49%||40%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||2.02||2.71|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||60%||61%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||1.67||3.66|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||66%||55%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||2.3||0.4|
In the featherweight division, two of the most highly rated rising talents face off in the octagon. Rodriguez is unbeaten in the UFC with a 3 – 0 record. He will be facing his teammate Fili, who has had five UFC fights and has alternated losses and wins. His last outing was at Fight Night 78, and he knocked out Gabriel Benitez in the first round. UFC expert fight picks Rodriguez to win by KO inside two rounds.
Dominique Steele Vs. Danny Roberts
|Fighter||Dominique Steele||Danny Roberts|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||2.45||2.17|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||56%||31%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||2.18||3.98|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||48%||59%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||4.01||0|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||80%||0%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0||5.4|
Steele will take on Roberts in the welterweight division. In Steele`s last appearance in the octagon, he knocked out Dong Hyun Kim (not the top ten Dong Hyun Kim) by way of a slam. Roberts will be a very tough opponent though and is now on a six-fight winning streak. He last fight in the UFC he beat Nate Coy by submission. UFC fight predictions for this battle is a KO by Steele inside three rounds.
Jessica Aguilar Vs. Juliana Lima
|Fighter||Jessica Aguilar||Juliana Lima|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||4.67||1.78|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||37%||42%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||7.4||1.82|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||55%||66%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||0||1.67|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||0%||100%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0||0|
Aguilar is the former strawweight champion from WSOF. In her last fight, she lost to Claudia Gadelha in a close battle. She will be looking to recover from that loss by beating Lima, who is ranked 14th. UFC 197 betting tips for this one is Aguilar by point decision.
James Vick Vs. Glaico Franca
|Fighter||James Vick||Glaico Franca|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||3.54||1.56|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||32%||74%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||3.35||1.35|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||65%||37%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||0||4.06|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||60%||81%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0.8||1|
Rising British star Vick will look to extend his unbeaten record of 5 – 0. He faces Franca, who was the TUF Brazil champion. UFC fights predictions between these is going to be on Vick to win by KO.
Clint Hester Vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
|Fighter||Clint Hester||Marcos Rogerio de Lima|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||3.58||4.6|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||43%||53%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||3.25||5.91|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||58%||46%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||1.08||0|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||60%||40%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0||1.5|
Hester is on a losing streak of two fights in a row. He has decided to move up in weight to light heavyweight for this battle. He faces Lima, who is an exciting up and coming fighter. His record is 2 – 2 but both his victories have come by knockouts in the first round. UFC expert fight picks Lima if he survives the first round.
Efrain Escudero Vs. Kevin Lee
|Fighter||Efrain Escudero||Kevin Lee|
|Significant Strikes Landed per Minute||2.73||3.66|
|Significant Striking Accuracy||42%||38%|
|Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute||2.08||2.98|
|Significant Strike Defence (the % of opponents strikes that did not land)||63%||56%|
|Average Takedowns Landed per 15 minutes||1.34||3.16|
|Takedown Defense (the % of opponents TD attempts that did not land)||65%||61%|
|Average Submissions Attempted per 15 minutes||0.9||1.4|
The first fight of the UFC 197 event is between Escudero and Lee. Escudero won season nine of TUF and his record was 5 – 6. Lee lost his last fight was at UFC 194 and was against Leonardo Santos. His record stands at 4 – 2 and this fight could go either way. UFC fight predictions on this one are hard to call, but we have Santos winning by points.