The UFC returns with their first pay-per-view card of the new year in Anaheim, California. It features two massive title fights including the third installment of a flyweight trilogy that has arguably saved the division from extinction, and a title unification with a complex backstory that’ll finally settle on Saturday night. What’s most intriguing is the record-setting eight debuts from fighters on this card, including two on the main card. Highly touted prospects such as Jack Della Maddalena and Raoni Barcelos will look to continue their rise in the UFC. With that, let’s get right into the main card predictions for UFC 270.
Previous Prediction Record: 28-14
TREVIN GILES VS. MICHAEL MORALES
The main card kicks off with alumni from Dana White’s Contender Series, Michael Morales, facing off against another hopeful prospect, Trevin Giles. Morales, who is undefeated, earned himself a contract with the promotion after a decision win against Nikolay Veretennikov in September. He’s finished 10 of 12 wins, nine of them coming by knockout. He’s got a heavy set of hands that Giles will have to watch out for all fight long.
But, after recklessly getting knocked out in his last fight by Dricus Du Plessis, I think this is a fight where Giles will reevaluate his decision-making to execute a well thought out game plan against Morales. This is also just a huge spotlight for a 22-year-old Morales to make his UFC debut and I think with Giles being an experienced veteran in the game makes it worse for Morales.
Giles will be able to work the opportunities he wants to earn another finish to his name.
Official Prediction: Giles by KO/TKO
CODY STAMANN VS. SAID NURMAGOMEDOV
Coming off a first-round knockout against Mark Striegl, Said Nurmagomedov is looking to get back on track in the Welterweight division. Of course, the standard for him becomes much higher as another hopeful prodigy to the legendary Khabib Nurmagomedov, and the long list of names that continue to tear up MMA.
Said faces Cody Stamann, a healthy veteran who has suffered back-to-back losses against Jimmie Rivera and Merab Dvalishvili. Not much of a fighter who puts on a lot of finishes, Stamann is going to have his hands full with Nurmagomedov who has shown improvement in almost every fight. The biggest question for Nurmagomedov is can he improve on getting more efficient when it come to wrestling? I think that’ll be something to look for in this fight.
Nonetheless, I can’t see Said suffering his second loss in three fights after taking almost a year and a half off to improve on his mechanics.
Official Prediction: Nurmagomedov by Decision
MICHEL PEREIRA VS. ANDRE FIALHO
One of the most underrated and exciting fighters, Michel Pereira, earns his biggest opportunity with the UFC thus far, facing Andre Fialho on UFC 270’s main card. Deservingly so, as Pereira has realigned his career after a tough battle to stay consistently winning. He’s currently on a three-fight win streak with big wins over Khaos Williams and Niko Price. He’s given himself a household name by doing unorthodox moves mid-fight such as a backflip takedown attempt. But, he does brings some high-level striking to the table, it’s not all show.
Pereira will be a handful for Andre Fialho, another fighter making his UFC debut on the main card. He’s coming off three first-round knockouts in 2021 during his time with the UAE Warriors promotion. He’s had experience fighting in Bellator and PFL from 2016 to 2019, carrying much more experience than most into their debuts. He has a high finishing rate and I think as a replacement he has what it takes with high-level cardio and volume striking.
I think the biggest upset on the card will be a career changing win for Fialho.
Official Prediction: Fialho by Decision
BRANDON MORENO VS. DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO
I doubted Brandon Moreno on my UFC 263 predictions, thinking that a healthy Deiveson Figueiredo would overwhelm him, leading to a finish of some form. But now after two fights between these guys, it’s basically set in stone that Figueiredo would have to land a miracle shot to knockout Moreno. If Figueiredo wants any chance to win this fight, it has to come from his ground game. That ground game has led to massive success, including two title bout wins against Joseph Benavidez and Alex Perez, both of which were first-round submissions.
However, even that is a hard advantage to give to Figueiredo after being outclassed and eventually choked out in the second fight between these two. While he may be more rejuvenated for this fight after working with Henry Cejudo and emerging camp photos of him looking shredded, it’s hard to say he has on paper advantages that could win him this fight.
I have to go with Moreno on this one, especially with his confidence and mindset being at an all-time high. However, I would not be surprised if Figueiredo comes out on top, as this will no doubt be a close fight and a spectacular co-main event.
Official Prediction: Moreno by Decision
FRANCIS NGANNOU VS. CIRYL GANE
It’s never beneficial for a fighter to go into their match with outside drama. That’s exactly what Francis Ngannou has dealt ever since winning the belt and his contract disputes with the UFC. That’s certainly a distraction that could affect one’s performance as we’ve seen in prior situations like this.
But, excluding that drama, it’s hard to see how Ciryl Gane can actually win this fight. He’s a phenomenal fighter with some of the best technical skills this division has ever seen. But, answer me this, is Ciryl Gane that talented where he can avoid Ngannou’s power for a full five rounds? Is there anyone currently that could actually do that? Sure, former UFC champion Stipe Miocic did that back in 2018. But, Ngannou has shown a ton of improvement in wrestling defense that ultimately led to him winning the belt in 2021. I don’t think Gane presents the kind of punching power that’s capable of stopping Ngannou, or he has yet to show it in any of his fights. Unless Gane can put on another absolutely perfect performance and avoid all of Ngannou’s threats, Ngannou is bound to land something devastating against Gane.
Also of note, there’s a rumor going around that was discussed in the press conference that could be intriguing if true. Francis apparently knocked out Gane in a sparring session when they used to train semi-frequently together. This is another additional layer to the plot.
Will we see a repeat (?) of this? I think so. Assuming Francis wins, a trilogy with Miocic should be an immediate lock, unless Jon Jones chooses to come out of hibernation.
Official Prediction: Ngannou by KO/TKO