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UFC 272
(Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 272 Preview

UFC 272
(Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 272 Preview

A serious grudge match takes center stage at UFC 272 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card is stacked and looks like the best we have seen in 2022 despite not being headlined by a title fight. There are 10 ranked fighters competing on Saturday with wins helping move them further up the rankings. You will not want to miss any of UFC 272 that kicks off on Saturday, March 5th with the prelims at 6:00 PM ET on ESPN+ before moving to pay-per-view at 10:00 PM ET for the five-fight main card.

Main Card

Colby Covington (1) vs Jorge Masvidal (6) – Welterweight

Colby Covington vs Jorge Masvidal was what Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane was made out to be, former teammates and best friends turned archrivals that can barely be in the same room together. While that was more of a made-up narrative when the heavyweights fought there is nothing made up about the hatred between Covington and Masvidal. 

The pair of fighters were teammates at American Top Team in Miami, Florida, and were almost inseparable. If Covington was fighting Masvidal would be the first person in his corner and vice versa when Masvidal was fighting. It was not only in the gym that the two were very close as they lived together and considered each other best friends. In 2018, Covington fought with Masvidal in his corner for the UFC interim welterweight championship against Rafael dos Anjos and won by decision.

Following that fight, the two began to grow apart as their careers picked up and the hatred between the two eventually resulted in Covington leaving American Top Team in 2020. This came after he fought for the UFC welterweight championship against Kamaru Usman which Covington lost by TKO.

Now two years later Covington and Masvidal are preparing for a fight that could realistically be the final one for the loser. Both come into UFC 272 coming off a loss against current champion Usman, Covington lost by decision while Masvidal was knocked out for the first time in the UFC. This was the second consecutive title shot for Masvidal who stepped in to fight Usman on short notice the first time and lost via decision.

Covington’s fight against Usman was also his second chance against the champ. In between the two fights with Usman, Covington defeated former champion, Tyron Woodley, by TKO. Covington now sits with a record of 16-3 and with a win could be in line to get a third shot at Usman. Masvidal is 35-15 and has not won since beating Nate Diaz for the “BMF” title at UFC 244 in 2019. The same “BMF” belt may be up for grabs on Saturday according to UFC President Dana White.

Prediction

There is bad blood to be settled and this fight should be an entertaining one with both fighters looking to end the other. The bigger advantage leans towards Covington as he has a much more dominant ground game than Masvidal and could use that to beat the No. 6 ranked welterweight fighter. I have Covington winning this fight by knockout.

Rafael dos Anjos (6) vs Renato Moicano – Catchweight (160 lbs)

The co-main event at UFC 272 was originally going to be between a pair of ranked lightweights, but No. 11 ranked Rafael Fiziev had to pull out from the fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Renato Moicano became the replacement opponent of former lightweight champion and current No. 6 lightweight Rafael dos Anjos. 

It was only three weeks ago that Moicano beat Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271 with a second-round submission. Following the fight, Moicano asked for a ranked opponent next time out and he will get just that against dos Anjos. That was the second straight win for Moicano after losing to the man he replaced for UFC 272 in Fiziev. Now on only four-days notice, Moicano will step into the octagon again to fight at a catchweight of 160 pounds.

While it is a quick turnaround for Moicano it is quite the opposite for dos Anjos who has not fought since late in 2020. In his last time out dos Anjos faced now-retired Paul Felder and won by split decision. This win came after the former lightweight champion lost two straight fights at welterweight.

There were a number of other fighters offering to take the spot of Fiziev such as Felder and No. 3 ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev. It was believed that Makhachev would be stepping in to fight dos Anjos but turned it down. That was the fight to make since the pair had been jawing at each other about fighting for a while now.

Prediction

The battle of Brazilians could be a competitive fight and dos Anjos is more than capable of winning, but I see Moicano moving to 4-1 in his last five fights after upsetting dos Anjos on short notice. I have Moicano winning by decision.

Edson Barboza (10) vs Bryce Mitchell (11) – Featherweight

Two fighters at opposite ends of their careers meet at UFC 272 with a shot to establish themselves as a top 10 featherweight. 36-year-old Edson Barboza comes into this fight ranked 10th but lost in his last fight to Giga Chikadze by TKO. Prior to the loss against Chikadze, Barboza was on a two-fight win streak with a decision win and a knockout win. The veteran has fought numerous former champions and title contenders while in the lightweight division but had won just one of five fights before moving to featherweight where he has been for his last three fights.

Across the octagon from him will be 27-year-old Bryce Mitchell. Mitchell is currently undefeated in MMA with a professional record of 14-0. Of his 14 fights, Mitchell has yet to record a knockout but has nine wins by submission. The former The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated competitor has gone 4-0 since joining the UFC with three decision wins and one submission victory. 

It has been over a year since we last saw Mitchell fight when he beat Andre Fili by decision on Halloween night in 2020. A win over a fighter of Barboza’s caliber would propel one of the UFC’s biggest rednecks into the top 10. Mitchell is from Arkansas and has one of the more unique training plans that has him do most of his workouts on his farm. For the fight, Mitchell received a pair of custom camo shorts to wear during his fight at UFC 272. 

Prediction

The legacy and expertise that Barboza has will not be enough to stop the younger Mitchell. I have Mitchell moving to 15-0 with a submission victory.

Kevin Holland (14) vs Alex Oliveira – Welterweight

Another veteran Brazilian fighter to fight at UFC 272 is Alex Oliveira who will take on the 2020 Breakout Fighter of the Year, Kevin Holland. Oliveira has struggled in his last eight fights winning only two and having a three-fight losing streak on either side of those wins. In his last time out “Cowboy” lost to Niko Price by unanimous decision. 

Just like Oliveira, Holland has been winless in his last three fights with two losses before having his most recent fight with Kyle Daukaus ruled a no-contest after an accidental head clash. Prior to 2021 Holland had won five fights in a row and looks to return to that form in 2022 in a new division. When he fights Oliveira, Holland will be making his first fight in the UFC welterweight division after moving down from middleweight.

Prediction

One of these fighters is going to end a cold streak and it will be Holland to do so. The American fighter will use a four-inch height advantage to knock out “Cowboy” Oliveira.

Serghei Spivac vs Greg Hardy – Heavyweight

The lone heavyweight fight of UFC 272 comes between two fighters looking to bounce back from a loss in their last fights. One of three Moldovan fighters in the UFC, Serghei Spivac entered the UFC undefeated at 9-0 but now sits at 13-3 after a TKO loss to Tom Aspinall. However, before the loss to Aspinall, Spivac had won three straight and four of his last five.

His opponent is former Dallas Cowboy, Greg Hardy. Hardy comes into this fight on a two-fight losing streak with knockout losses against Tai Tuivasa and Marcin Tybura before that. Since leaving the NFL Hardy has had an up and down career in MMA with a current record of 7-4 with 1 no contest. Three of Hardy’s four losses have come against fighters now ranked in the top 10 which shows that he has the ability to compete against fighters of the highest level.

Prediction 

There is a chance for both fighters to regain momentum as 2022 has reached the quarter-way mark in a fight that was initially scheduled for UFC 270 before a finger injury to Hardy caused the bout to be moved. I have Spivac winning by knockout.

Prelims to watch

Marina Rodriguez (3) vs Yan Xiaonan (4) – Women’s Strawweight

The women’s strawweight division has seen current champion Rose Namajunas beat the No. 1 contender Zhang Weili twice in a row and a rematch with No. 2 ranked Carla Esparza lined up next. This means that the winner of Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272 could very well be next in line for a shot at the belt in the UFC’s lightest division. The No. 4 ranked Xiaonan lost to Esparza last time out by TKO but had won six straight since making her UFC debut in 2017.

Currently holding a record of 13-2 with 1 no contest, Xiaonan will face an opponent whose only loss also came against Esparza in Brazil’s Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been on a three-fight win streak since that loss with wins over Amanda Ribas, Michelle Waterson, and Mackenzie Dern to propel her up to No. 3 in the strawweight rankings. All three wins came in 2021, but only the victory of Dern came in the strawweight division after a move down from flyweight.

This fight gives us a similar matchup in terms of style with both combining for one submission compared to 11 knockouts. 

Prediction

The last Chinese fighter to fight for UFC gold was Weili in this same decision and after this fight that could be different. I see a knockout finish coming in this fight for the slightly younger Xiaonan to earn her a shot at the winner of Namajunas and Esparza or a title eliminator against fellow countryman Weili.

Brian Kelleher vs Umar Nurmagomedov – Featherweight 

This will be the second fight of 2022 for New York’s Brian Kelleher as he faces undefeated Russian Umar Nurmagomedov. Kelleher fought Kevin Croom in the first UFC card of the year and came out with a unanimous decision win. This was his second straight win after losing to Ricky Simon.

The 25-year-old Nurmagomedov won his UFC debut over Sergey Morozov with a submission finish in his last fight that took place in January of 2021. That was his sixth win by submission to go with six wins by decision and one knockout putting him at 13-0. The cousin of UFC lightweight legend Khabib Nurmagomedov is following in the footsteps of the legend by still being undefeated. 

Prediction

At 35 years old Kelleher is nearing the end of his MMA career and this fight against Nurmagomedov will be extremely difficult. I have Nurmagomedov staying undefeated and winning by submission.

Tim Elliott (13) vs Tagir Ulanbekov (15) – Flyweight

A ranked matchup in the flyweight division brings American Tim Elliott and Russian Tagir Ulanbekov together. Elliott went 1-1 in 2021 but lost his last time out to Matheus Nicolau by unanimous decision. That loss was his fourth in six fights and ended a two-fight win streak.

On the other side, Ulanbekov has a single loss that came in 2018. He is coming into this fight at 13-1 and on a five-fight win streak. Ulanbekov is another fighter out of Dagestan, Russia, and trains alongside Nurmagomedov and Makhachev.

Prediction

This is a fight that will test the ability of Ulanbekov with Elliott being a veteran that has 30 fights across two divisions. I have Elliott winning this by decision and surprising the Russian.

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