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UFC Saudi Arabia Preview And Predictions

UFC Saudi Arabia Preview Bets
UFC Saudi Arabia is one of the most stacked fight night events of 2024. The event provides some great fights to preview. (Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports)

UFC Saudi Arabia Preview And Predictions

The UFC is heading to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the first time in the promotion’s history. The event is a sensational fight schedule. The main and co-main events are elite for a fight night event. The remainder of the main card is filled with solid fights as well.

Join Vendetta Sports Media as we preview and predict the UFC Saudi Arabia main card. You can find out prediction records below.

James: 67-47

Garrett: 65-49

Anthony: 68-46

Jerry: 58-45

No. 7 Johnny Walker vs. No. 9 Volkan Oezdemir- Light Heavyweight Bout 

James: The UFC Saudi Arabia main card opens with a light heavyweight bout between Johnny Walker and Volkan Oezdemir. This is an interesting fight that could result in violence. Walker has gone 7-5 in the UFC and is looking to bounce back from a knockout loss to Magomed Ankalaev. Oezdemir is 7-6 in the UFC. In his most recent fight, he picked up a win over Bogdan Guskov. 

Walker is a long fighter who stands at six-foot-six with an 82-inch reach. That gives him dangerous kicks that he throws to all three levels. On top of that, he can throw straight punches from the outside. On the inside, he is willing to rip big hooks and hunt knockouts. Previously, he was a wild man hunting for a knockout, but he has recently worked to become more technical. The biggest problem with Walker is that he has an awful chin and gets knocked out frequently. 

Oezdemir is a striker that looks to throw shots in the pocket. On the outside, he mostly throws a jab. That strike helps him get inside the pocket where he will throw hooks, additionally, he lands counter hooks. This is not the most technical approach, but he hits hard. 

The UFC Saudi Arabia main card opener previews to be a volatile fight. This is a fight between two powerful strikers. One of those strikers has a terrible chin. It would not be a surprise to see either of these fighters pick up a knockout victory. I will lean toward Walker because he is much more athletic and has more outside weapons. It never feels good to trust his chin, however. I will take Walker by second-round knockout

Garrett: Walker via TKO

Jerry: Walker via KO/TKO

Anthony: Walker via KO/TKO

Shara Magomedov vs. Antonio Trocoli-Middleweight Bout 

James: At UFC Saudi Arabia Shara Magomedov will fight Antonio Trocoli. Magomedov is undefeated after 12 professional bouts and one UFC bout. That has caught the attention of many. Trocoli has had a wild path to the UFC. Originally, he earned a UFC contract with a win on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019; however, he was released shortly after due to a failed drug test. Now, he is back in the UFC after picking up a win on the regional scene. Although, he has struggled to make his debut as he has suffered three cancellations. Now, it is finally here. 

Magomedov is an exciting striker with solid skills. The most obvious strengths are his speed and combinations. Magomedov mixes his hands and kicks together to create dangerous combinations. The speed of his strikes helps him land at a solid rate. The ability to switch stances is also present. This works to provide opponents with multiple different looks and angles. From a less technical standpoint, he has explosive strikes like knees, elbows, and flashy kicks that have the potential to hurt opponents. The problem is that he is a horrid grappler. 

The majority of Trocoli’s wins have been because of his grappling. This includes a few wins by submission. The issue at hand is that he has struggled against solid levels of competition. At the same time, his wins have not been impressive. It does not help that his striking does not present much of a threat. 

This UFC Saudi Arabia bout is a struggle to preview. Theoretically, Magomedov should be levels better and find an early knockout. At the same time, I am afraid of what may happen if Trocoli attempts to grapple early and often. Ultimately, I will side with Magomedov. I believe he is far more talented and more committed to the sport. I will take Magomedov by first-round knockout.

Garrett: Magomedov via submission

Jerry: Magomedov via KO/TKO

Anthony: Magomedov via KO/TKO

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Daniel Rodriguez- Middleweight Bout 

James: The UFC Saudi Arabia main card features a middleweight bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Daniel Rodriguez. Gastelum and Rodriguez have both fallen on struggles as of late. Gastelum is 2-6 across his last eight bouts. Rodriguez is riding a two-fight losing streak. The loser of this fight will have their UFC future in question. 

Gastelum is a former college wrestler who has embraced his striking. At this point, he is a combination striker who will look outland his opponents. In theory, this should help him in fights that reach the scorecards. 

Rodriguez is also mainly a striker. This is done with a boxing-oriented approach. Similarly to Gastelum, he is more focused on volume. At times, he will also throw some kicks. 

This UFC Saudi Arabia bout previews to be a close fight. If this bout stays on the feet, it is likely a close split decision. If anyone grapples, Gastelum is the more likely person. That, in addition to the fact, that Gastelum throws in combinations, should help him consistently land and get favor with the judges. I will take Gastelum by decision

Garrett: Rodriguez via decision

Jerry: Gastelum via decision

Anthony: Gastelum via decision

No. 3 Sergei Pavlovich vs. No. 5 Alexander Volkov- Heavyweight Bout 

James: The UFC Saudi Arabia co-main event is a heavyweight battle between Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov. This matchup will have serious consequences at the top of the division. Pavlovich has made a massive impact during his short UFC tenure. This includes a six-fight win streak consisting of all first-round knockouts. That momentum was stopped when Tom Aspinall finished Pavlovich to win the interim title. Volkov is a UFC veteran with an 11-4 record. 

Pavlovich is a powerful boxer. In every fight, he gets in the pocket and trades massive punches. That puts him in constant danger. At the same time, his opponent is in even more danger. This constant forward pressure and boxing exchanges eventually force his opponents to wilt and eat a knockout punch. 

Volkov is a six-foot-seven striker. This allows him to attack opponents with straight shots and kicks to the body. That outside striking style is also backed with a willingness to throw big shots. In recent outings, he has also worked to incorporate his grappling. This has helped him pick up a few victories. 

The UFC Saudi Arabia co-main event is an interesting fight to preview. That is largely because of Pavlovich. Theoretically, he has flaws in his game that Volkov could exploit. Pavlovich struggles to get back to his feet despite having good takedown defense. If Volkov lands takedowns, he has a path to a decision win. Furthermore, he could use his length to land straight shots while avoiding Pavlovich’s tight hooks. Volkov’s teep kick may help him manage range as well. All that being said, Pavlovich’s pressure and power often trump the technical details of a fight. An aggressive Pavlovich can crack any opponent he fights. That is the most probable outcome in this matchup. I will take Pavlovich by first-round knockout

Garrett: Pavlovich via TKO

Jerry: Pavlovich via KO/TKO

Anthony: Pavlovich via KO/TKO

No. 3 Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov- Middleweight Bout 

James: The UFC Saudi Arabia main event features a middleweight bout between Robert Whittaker and Ikram Aliskerov. This bout was originally scheduled to be Whittaker against Khamzat Chimaev, but the latter was forced out with an illness. Aliskerov stepped in to save the main event with a little over a week’s notice. Whittaker is a former champion who has only lost to fellow champions. At middleweight, he is 13-3 with his only losses coming against Israel Adesanya and Dricus Du Plessis. Aliskerov is 15-1 professionally and 2-0 in the UFC. That run has established him as a prospect to watch. Those UFC wins have come against Warlley Alves and Phil Hawes. It is not a secret he is taking a massive step up in competition in this fight.

Whittaker is a sensational striker with great movement and technical prowess. This allows him to manage range and bounce on the outside before stepping in the pocket to land single shots or combinations. If he throws a combination, he sets it up well and lands it at a solid rate. This striking skillset is backer with impressive grappling. Whittaker has shown great takedown defense. At times, he will surprise opponents with his own takedowns. The main concern with Whittaker is his durability. In previous bouts, he has been knocked out. Plus, he has been hurt and wobbled in multiple bouts he won. Lastly, if taken down, he has shown flaws. Yes, he works to get up, but he has absorbed damage while on his back. 

Aliskerov has shown some impressive skills in his short UFC tenure. On the feet, he has serious power. I would not consider him to be highly technical, but he does damage if he lands. Plus, he will land damaging moves like flying knees and head kicks. All of his grappling skills were put on display on Dana White’s Contender Series as well as the regional scene. Aside from his long career loss to Chimaev, all of these bouts were against poor defensive grapplings. Still, he showed to have good clinch takedowns, a heavy top game, dangerous strikes, and a decent collection of submissions. 

The UFC Saudi Arabia main event preview is an interesting clash. It is hard to say whether Aliskerov will look to strike or grapple in the early moments of this fight. That said, Whittaker should be able to defend some takedowns. Historically, he has great takedown defense. This holds especially true against clinch takedowns. That can be seen in his fights against Olympic wrestler Yoel Romero. The bigger issue is that Aliskerov could alter this fight with one takedown because of his ground and pound. Similarly, Whittaker is more likely to win rounds on the feet, but Aliskerov’s power mixed with Whittaker’s durability presents a danger. 

Ultimately, I prefer to side with Whittaker. This is mainly because of his technical advantage on the feet while also being quicker. I expect Whittaker to land shots when he presses the action, but he can also counter Aliskerov. Furthermore, he can fight into the championship rounds. A mix of technical striking, takedown defense, and cardio is tough to side against. I will take Whittaker by knockout in round four.  

Garrett: Whittaker via decision

Jerry: Whittaker via decision

Anthony: Whittaker via KO/TKO

***

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