Sunday, October 2, 2022

UFC 231 Predictions: Holloway vs. Ortega

The time has almost arrived for UFC 231. For the final time in 2018, the UFC will be returning to Canada for a pay-per-view event featuring two title bouts. In the main event, Max Holloway will defend his UFC featherweight title against Brian Ortega. The co-main event will see Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk do battle for the vacant women’s flyweight gold.

In the lead-up to UFC 231, MMA News has been providing coverage of the event with the latest updates and tidbits. We’ll continue to do so tomorrow night with live results, highlights and post-fight goodness. In the meantime, we’ve got main card predictions. Myself, Andrew Ravens, and Ed Carbajal are dishing out the picks.

Many are considering UFC 231 to be a great card for hardcore fans. Holloway vs. Ortega is truly a title bout between two of the best fighters in their weight class. Both men are also in the prime of their careers. Then you’ve got two world-class strikers competing for the women’s flyweight title. While many believe the 125-pound weight class is Shevchenko’s for the taking, Jedrzejczyk has other plans.

Peep how the rest of the main card stacks up:

  • Featherweight: Max Holloway (c) vs. Brian Ortega
  • Women’s Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
  • Welterweight: Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson
  • Featherweight: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak
  • Light Heavyweight: Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos

Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos

Fernando Quiles Jr.: It certainly is true that Jimi Manuwa has struggled lately. The “Poster Boy” hasn’t earned a win since March 2017. Santos may be riding more momentum having gone 6-1 in his last seven outings, but he is susceptible to foes with punching power. I think Manuwa finds the chin of Santos early for the knockout win (Prediction: Jimi Manuwa)

Ed Carbajal: Santos touts a high finish rate and won his last two fights whereas Manuwa has lost his last two. Santos is four years younger than Manuwa and while that may not seem like much, in combat sports that is a long time. Manuwa’s last two losses may still be dragging the Englishman down and having been knocked out before, he could be susceptible to the power of Santos. (Prediction: Thiago Santos)

Andrew Ravens: Santos is looking to get passed a guy who has always been on the verge of being in the top tier section of his division and comes into this fight with some momentum. Manuwa has been struggling as of late but for good reason. He’s the gatekeeper to find out who is on the verge of getting higher in the rankings and closer to a title shot. Santos picks up the unanimous decision win in a tough yet entertaining bout. (Prediction: Thiago Santos)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Thiago Santos

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Kyle Bochniak

Fernando Quiles Jr.: After a rough start to his UFC run, Dawodu was able to nab a unanimous decision victory over Austin Arnett. Dawodu proved once again that he can best more experienced fighters as he did against Steven Siler. While Bochniak has tremendous grit, I’m gonna go with Dawodu who will likely keep the fight standing and get in the cleaner shots. (Prediction: Hakeem Dawodu)

Ed Carbajal: Dawodu is one of the WSOF vets the UFC picked up when the company reformatted to the PFL. The track record of WSOF vets in the UFC has been favorable and Dawodu was undefeated before he got to the UFC. Bochniak needs a win coming off his UFC 223 loss and has had a rough time in the UFC with a 2-3 record since coming in 2016. Looking at both men’s transition into the promotion it’s hard not to go with Dawodu. (Prediction: Hakeem Dawodu)

Andrew Ravens: An interesting spot on the card with two guys who are in intriguing spots right now in their MMA careers. Dawodu is still a newcomer with only two fights under the UFC banner to this point and hasn’t fought the middle tier fighters yet. Despite the fact that Bochniak has been on a roller coaster ride as of late by going 2-2 in his last four, I give him the advantage and see him winning by unanimous decision purely due to experience. (Prediction: Kyle Bochniak)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Hakeem Dawodu

Alex Oliveira vs. Gunnar Nelson

Fernando Quiles Jr.: This is not an easy fight for Nelson to return to. Oliveira is always a durable competitor who makes life difficult for his opponents on the feet and on the ground. I think Oliveira gets the job done with relentless pressure on his way to a decision win (Prediction: Alex Oliveira)

Ed Carbajal: Oliveira has picked up two “Performance of the Night” bonuses and one “Fight of the Night” in his last few fights in the UFC. It is hard to look past that when looking at Nelson’s long layoff and having lost his last fight. (Prediction: Alex Oliveira)

Andrew Ravens: Oliveira has been on fire since suffering a TKO loss to Yancy Medeiros with two straight victories. Nelson always brings his A-game and I see this being no different. Nelson could easily rebound after being starched by Santiago Ponzinibbio in his latest fight. I give Oliveira the edge here but think it will be closer than what people might think. Oliveira gets the split decision nod. (Prediction: Alex Oliveira)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Alex Oliveira

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Fernando Quiles Jr.: The Muay Thai history between these two suggests that Shevchenko has the advantage on the feet. While this is indeed an MMA bout, I don’t expect Jedrzejczyk to threaten with takedowns. She may try to push her opponent against the fence, but I feel “Bullet” will be too strong allowing her to break free often. I can see Jedrzejczyk having her moments, but in the end being outgunned on the feet for five rounds. (Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko)

Ed Carbajal: Jedrzejczyk seems to be gunning for a title since she lost the strawweight one to Rose Namajunas and Shevchenko has been on that path as well. The two have a history in Muay Thai that shows Shevchenko can beat Jedrzejczyk in the striking department. The MMA rule-set could make a difference this time around but it is hard to ignore Shevchenko’s frame may be a lot of pressure for the former strawweight champion to handle. (Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko)

Andrew Ravens: Obviously, Shevchenko will have the striking advantage in this fight as she’s on another level which is a big surprise to say considering that is the game that Jedrzejczyk plays as well. Jedrzejczyk has nothing to lose in this fight which makes her even more dangerous. This is the title that Shevchenko believes is already hers and that mindset may lead to an upset. However, this is not the only fight we’ve seen between them. Shevchenko wins by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko)

CONSENSUS: 3-0, Valentina Shevchenko

Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega

Fernando Quiles Jr.: This is such a tough fight to call. Ortega has a clear size advantage and he is quite the grappler. “T-City” is able to find the neck of his opponents often, but when he can’t do that he’s also got a solid stand-up game. With that being said, I think Holloway will prove that his level of striking is something that Ortega has never experienced. If “T-City” doesn’t wear the first few shots well, then it’ll be very telling. (Prediction: Max Holloway)

Ed Carbajal: Let’s sincerely hope Holloway is healthy and past the troubles that have pulled him off previous cards this year. That being said, Ortega seems to have a strength and grappling advantage over the Hawaiian champion. Holloway has proved doubters wrong before but the wars before the one at 231 may have taken their toll on the champ. Ortega has proven he can get knockouts just as well as he can get submissions and his black belt versus Holloway’s purple makes it easy to pick Ortega. (Prediction: Brian Ortega)

Andrew Ravens: This might be the hardest pick of the year and just behind Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic as both guys are at the highest level possible right now. Holloway has had a long layoff while Ortega has been getting better and better. Not only the layoff but his health problems lead to a setback for the champ. Ortega submits Holloway in the third round, and eventually, the UFC runs it back. (Prediction: Brian Ortega)

CONSENSUS: 2-1, Brian Ortega

Do you agree with the UFC 231 main card predictions of the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will win the PPV fights? Let your voice be heard in the comments below. Be sure to stick with for coverage of UFC 231 all weekend.

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