Thursday, January 21, 2021

UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Staff Predictions

We are within hours of the flyweight showcase that is UFC 255. Two flyweight title fights will take place at the pay per view, with both the men’s and women’s champions defending their championship. In the case of the men’s champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, this will mark his first title defense. As for Shevchenko, she will look to continue her reign of terror with Jennifer Maia being the latest casualty of Shevchenko’s massacre of her fellow flyweights.

The kick-off time for the pay per view is 10 PM ET, with the Fight Pass prelims kicking off at 3:30 and the ESPN+ prelims starting at 5:00 PM ET. The UFC Apex will play host to this card.

You can view the full main card below:

  • UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Deiveson Figueiredo © vs. Alex Perez
  • UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia
  • Mike Perry vs. Tim Means
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Cynthia Calvillo
  • Mauricio Rua vs. Paul Craig

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 255 updates. Earlier today, we covered the weigh-ins, which you can see the results for here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

Mauricio Rua vs. Paul Craig

Clyde Aidoo: The fact that this fight was a draw the first time around speaks to how close this fight is. Shogun is another year older, but he also has another win under his belt after narrowly defeating another legend in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for a third time. Paul Craig is one of the savviest submission artists in the game, but Rua’s experience should be enough to counteract Craig’s tactics and avoid getting finished again. I’m going to go with Rua to eke out the win, as it is difficult for Craig to get decision victories, and I do not believe he will finish Shogun Rua. (Prediction: Paul Craig)

Andrew Ravens: On paper, this could be a surprisingly good fight just like their previous encounter. They fought for the first time in 2019 and went to a split draw. Since that time, they’ve both fought once and scored victories. I actually thought Craig won the first fight and I think he’ll make a statement in this one by getting a unanimous decision win. (Prediction: Paul Craig)

Ed Carbazel: This first fight of the main card is a rematch. The two fought to a draw towards the end of 2019, so their business will be settled at UFC 255. Rua’s experience is nearly double Craig’s, but they fought to a draw last time. The thing with experience is that it comes with age, and MMA is a young man’s sport. While it is only six years difference, in MMA, those years are harder on the older fighter. It would be nice to see Rua win, but Craig having crossed swords with “Shogun” before means he might know how to beat him now. (Prediction: Paul Craig)

Consensus: 2-1, Paul Craig

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Cynthia Calvillo   

Clyde Aidoo: Cynthia Calvillo put the flyweight division on notice with her unanimous decision over Jessica Eye, and I think she will enter this bout with more confidence and more momentum. Chookagian should have the advantage on the feet, with her superior movement and reach, but even though her takedown defense and overall ground game have shown progress, I still think that the mat is Calvillo’s path to victory and that a timely takedown or two will either win her a fight-deciding round or she will earn her fourth submission win in the UFC. It should be noted that Calvillo’s only loss is to one of the best wrestlers in the division, Carla Esparza, so whenever Calvillo has had the grappling advantage, she is yet to lose. (Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo)

Andrew Ravens: These two fighters enter on the complete opposite of each other, as Katlyn has been in struggle city and on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs while Calvillo should be on a four-fight winning streak if it weren’t for a majority draw decision. I’ll take Calvillo getting it done by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo)

Ed Carbazel: Chookagian is 1-2 in her last three fights.  One of those losses was to the current champ, in Shevchenko but she manages to keep coming for the title in 2020. This is her fourth fight this year and with the loss against Andrade not that long ago she likely is looking to bounce back, but there could be some burn out lingering. Calvillo is a bit fresher and since she was supposed to compete against Lauren Murphy in October but withdrew, she might be the sharper fighter in this match. (Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo)

Consensus: 3-0, Cynthia Calvillo

Tim Means vs. Mike Perry

Clyde Aidoo: Tim Means is the superior technical striker in this matchup. Mike Perry’s hands are down just enough for Tim Means to pot shot for the entirety of the fight a la Max Griffin. Perry’s style and face are just tailor made for a Tim Means jab. It’s difficult for me to see Perry outpointing Means or winning the fight on the mat (which is actually perhaps his best path to victory IMO), so a KO will probably be what he ends up going for. The problem with this is that Perry hasn’t had a knockout since 2017 and Means has only been KO’d twice in his 44 fights, so I gotta go with Means here.

Andrew Ravens: This should be a fun fight. Yes, you can look at their records and it’s a mixed bag. Perry is 1-2 in his last three outings while Means is in the same boat. Either way, these guys are going to bring a fistfight to the Octagon, and I got a feeling someone is getting knocked out. I’ll side with Perry here getting it done by TKO in the third round. (Prediction: Mike Perry)

Ed Carbazel: Means is the senior man in this match up, both in the sport and in age, but he is yet another late replacement on this card. Perry was supposed to face Robbie Lawler who was removed from the card due to injury. Still, Perry seems to be training himself still and while that worked out well against Mickey Gall last June, self-training does not work for long. This fight may be more even than folks think, and Means’s experience might be what earns him a win. (Prediction: Tim Means)

Consensus: 2-1, Tim Means

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia

Clyde Aidoo: Let’s just say Valentina Shevchenko is a -1700 favorite for a reason, and it has nothing to do with hype. Shevchenko is arguably the best combination of cautious and lethal in all of MMA regardless of gender, and her well-rounded skillset is bullet proof, pun semi-intended, so in my opinion, this easily would be the biggest upset in WMMA history if Maia gets the win. The only path I see for Maia is a submission win, as Maia does have a black belt in jiu-jitsu and is coming off a very impressive submission victory over Joanne Calderwood to seize #1 contendership, but I do not think she has the wrestling ability to successfully take Shevchenko down, nor do I see Shevchenko having any reason to initiate any grappling exchanges. I’m expecting another lopsided win for Shevchenko, and if you think differently, I encourage you to try cashing in on the +800 underdog.

Andrew Ravens: It’s going to be hard to find people who think Maia has a chance here. We all know what Valentina brings to the Octagon so let’s take a look at Maia. She’s 3-1 in her last four but has gone 1-1 in her last two fights. She’s also missed weight back-to-back times during her last four fights. We should be worried about her making weight even before she fights. I have Valentina’s getting it done by third-round TKO. (Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko)

Ed Carbazel: Many of the long-running champions in the UFC have seemed unbeatable with every title defense. She has already defended the belt three times and seems to improve with every camp. Maia is a former Invicta FC champion, and training out of Chute Boxe , she will bring the aggression and skill associated with the talent from that camp. Half of her wins are by decision, but of her six losses, four are also by decision. She’s tough, but she might not bring enough to the table to beat a finisher like Shevchenko. (Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko)

Consensus: 3-0, Valentina Shevchenko

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez

Clyde Aidoo: Alex Perez is certainly much more live than Jennifer Maia, but like Shevchenko, I’m finding it difficult to bet against the champ here. Not just anybody runs through Joseph Benavidez the way Figueiredo did to win this championship, and he did it not once but twice. With Figuereido being such an aggressive and powerful striker at 125, it’s easy to forget the guy is also a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Perez is underrated, and an upset wouldn’t floor me, but I think his best path to victory is to take Figuereido down and avoid the submission, but Figueiredo’s takedown defense has improved, he is dangerous on the ground, and there is always the chance Figueredo knocks Perez out before he has a chance to use his wrestling. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Andrew Ravens: Because Cody Garbrandt is out, some might be sleeping on Perez here and that’s a mistake. Yes, the champ looked outstanding in his latest performance, but Perez has a chance to give him a challenge. Perez has won his last three outings with his last two fights ending early. I have to side with Deiveson here, as I think he takes control in the fourth and fifth rounds. Deiveson gets it done by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Ed Carbazel: Figueiredo may not have caught on with fans yet as a legit champion because of the weigh-in issue leading to him eventually winning the title. He had to fight and win against Joseph Benavidez twice to be the champ since he missed weight by two pounds on the first try. Perez winning would make for a great story coming from The Contender Series, but he is coming in on about a month’s notice against Figueiredo. It’s not very last minute, but for a five-round title fight, one month may not be enough. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Consensus: 3-0, Deiveson Figueiredo

That’ll do it for the UFC 255 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 255!

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