Kicking off International Fight Week is the Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale: Tavares vs. Adesanya.
Lightweight and Featherweight finalists will compete for $100k and a UFC contract, and undefeated prospect “the Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya tries to prove his meddle against ranked competition in his first Main Event slot against TUF veteran Brad Tavares. Fights begin with:
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims 7:00PM/ET
FOX Sports 1 Prelims 8:00PM/ET
FOX Sports 1 Main Card 10:00PM/ET
The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale Main Card
Julian Marquez (-165) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (+145)
Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez (7-1-0) takes on Alessio “Manza” Di Chirico (11-1-0) to kickoff the FOX Sports 1 Main Card. Marquez, a product of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, is on a five fight winning streak and submitted Darren Stewart in the second round of his promotional debut in a Fight of the Night performance at UFC Winnipeg last December.
Alessio Di Chirico was also awarded a Performance of the Night bonus for his second round knockout of Oluwale Bamgbose on the same card at UFC Winnipeg. Di Chirico has alternated wins and losses in his first four fights in the UFC. Di Chirico and Marquez both have a very high finishing rate so I could see this fight going either way. I’ll take the fiesty Italian Di Chirico to wear Marquez down over the course of their bout and get the win as a small underdog.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Di Chirico via Third Round KO
D’ Bo’s Picks: Marquez via First Round KO
#7 Barb Honchak (-175) vs. #8 Roxanne Modaferri (+155)
“The Happy Warrior” Roxanne Modaferri (21-15-0) takes on “The Little Warrior” Barb Honchak (10-4-0) in a rematch between TUF 26 alumni. Barb Honchak lost a split decision against Lauren Murphy in her official UFC debut at the Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale last December. Despite a Fight of the Night performance in the inaugural UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship against Nicco Montana in the TUF 26 Finale, former two time TUF Challenger Roxanne Modafieri has now lost four straight in her stints with the UFC and Strikeforce. A pro since 2003, Roxanne has fought overseas, in Invicta, and other regional promotions. Between her Ultimate Fighter appearances, Modaferri went 6-2 in Invicta and the Fusion Fight League.
Modaferri and Honchak first met in a short notice bout at Blackeye Promotions 5 in 2011. Modaferri was originally scheduled to face Aisling Daly, but Honchak filled in following Daly’s withdrawal and submitted Roxanne in the third round via rear naked choke. I’m going to go with “the Happy Warrior” to return the favor and end her promotional losing streak.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Modaferri via Second Round Submission
D’ Bo’s Picks: Modaferri via Decision
Alex Caceres (-145) vs. Martin Bravo (+125)
Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres (13-11-0,1 NC) returns to action to face “El Toro” Martin Bravo (12-1-0). Alex Caceres’ scrapped bout with Artem Lobov was part of the collateral damage from the Conor McGregor fiasco at the Barclays Center during the UFC 223 media day. Martin Bravo defeated Claudio Puelles by knockout to win the Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale, but lost via first round knockout to Humberto Bandenay at UFC Fight Night Mexico City in August 2017.
Caceres has struggled lately, having lost three of his last four dating back to 2016. But don’t count Bruce Leroy out just yet, for he has proven multiple times over in his career to compete with and shown his ability to take out top notch opponents.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Caceres via Decision
D’ Bo’s Picks: Caceres via First Round Submission
Ultimate Fighter Finale—Featherweight
Jay Cucciniello (+180) vs. Brad Katona (-260)
Featherweights Jay “The Mellowfellow” Cucciniello (9-0-0) and Brad “Superman” Katona (7-0-0) will be the first pair of TUF finalists to compete for $100k and a UFC contract. Despite losing a decision to Bryce Mitchell in the quarterfinals, Cucciniello was given a shot at redemption by replacing Ricky Steele against Daniel Cormier’s First Overall Pick Tyler Diamond.
In the semifinals, Jay Cucciniello defeated Tyler Diamond via Third Round TKO in an Ultimate Fighter instant classic. Brad Katona, a Canadian who trains at SBG Ireland, earned a majority decision win over Kyler Phillips and then submitted Bryce Mitchell in the third round of their semifinal clash. I was so impressed by Cucciniello’s display of grit and heart against Tyler Diamond, but I think that Superman has proven to be a cut above the rest of the Featherweight contestants.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Katona via First Round Submission
D’Bo’s Picks: Katona via Decision
Ultimate Fighter Finale—Lightweight
Michael Trizano (+115) vs. Joe Giannetti (-145)
Michael “The Lone Wolf” Trizano (7-0-0) faces Joe “Skeletor” Giannetti (7-0-0) in the TUF 27 Lightweight finale. Michael Trizano earned in spot in the finale by knocking out Thailand Clark in the Quarterfinals and beating John Gunther (filling in as a replacement for Luis Pena) via decision in the Semifinals. Joe Giannetti first submitted John Gunther and then Allen Zuniga (both in first round) to advance to the Finals. At over six feet in height, Giannetti combination of size and speed has proven to be too much for his opponents.”The Lone Wolf” says he is up for the challenge, and I expect both fighters to leave it all in the cage Friday night.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Giannetti via First Round KO
D’ Bo’s Picks: Giannetti via Second Round Submission
#8 Brad Tavares (+110) vs. Israel Adesanya (-130)
“The Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya (13-0-0) puts his undefeated record on the line against Brad Tavares (18-5-0), a winner in five of his last six. Since losing to Robert Whittaker in 2015, Brad Tavares has picked up some impressive wins on his current four fight win streak. Unanimous decisions over Elias Theodoreu and Thales Leites, and most recently a third round knockout of Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Glendale in April has Tavares feeling confident, and with his sights set on bigger things. While Tavares did not get the fight with the now retired Michael Bisping that he was clamoring for, a headlining bout with a rising prospect should satisfy the former TUF Season 11 alum.
The former standout kickout Israel Adesanya kept his perfect record intact in his last fight against Marvin Vettori, despite the bout being a split decision and the first fight of Adesanya’s professional MMA career that has gone the distance. Prior to his fight with Vettori, the Last Stylebender beat all twelve of his MMA opponents by knockout. Tavares has been finished twice in his UFC career by Whittaker and Tim Boestch. Tavares certainly has the edge in experience having faced multiple UFC Champions and title contenders throughout his career. With that being said I think the eccentric Adesanya has Tavares beat in raw talent and fight finishing capabilities. With over 29 kickboxing victories by knockout, Israel has the knack for knocking people out. This should be an entertaining fight for sure.
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction 🔮 Adesanya via Second Round KO
D’Bo’s Picks: Adesanya via Third Round KO
UFC 226: Miocic vs Cormier follows Saturday LIVE from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas,NV. Don’t miss out on this historic event!! 👊🏻