Although many notable fights were scrapped for this UFC 256 card, there are still loads of matchups to look forward to from top to bottom. The predictions from the MMA Empire team, along with our guest picker, can be found below for the five-fight main card.
Our guest picker for this event is the co-owner of Fight League Atlantic (FLA), Derek Clarke. FLA held their inaugural event earlier this year, which was a roaring success, and is well on its way to becoming one of Canada’s next top promotions. Be sure to follow FLA on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM
2020 standings (thru UFC on ESPN 19)
T1. Joel Griffith (7-4)
T1. Cooper Riehl (7-4)
3. Cody Davis (6-5)
4. Cody Rempel (5-6)
5. Guest picker (5-6)
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
Joel Griffith – “I’m going out on limb here, but I like Moreno. Other than a TUF exhibition bout, Moreno has never been finished in his career. I can see Moreno’s output and pressure getting the better of Figueiredo over the course of five rounds.” Pick: Brandon Moreno via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “This is an exciting matchup. Moreno is always game, but I think the champ is just a little bit better everywhere, plus he might have the heaviest hands I’ve seen at 125 pounds. I think Figueiredo’s power will be the difference-maker in this one.” Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo via TKO.
Cody Davis – “The champion has momentum on his side, finishing his last four fights, three of which ended in the first round. Moreno is a solid fighter, but I just don’t see him taking the belt yet.” Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “The challenger looked great in his bout three weeks ago to earn this title shot, but Figueiredo has been a buzzsaw and could be the champion for a long time. While Moreno has never been finished, I’m predicting that streak will end Saturday night.” Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo via TKO.
Derek Clarke – “I think Figueiredo’s really talented and super high-level everywhere.” Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo via knockout.
Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira
Joel Griffith – “This is such a tough fight to call, and is going to be so fun to watch. Ferguson is more than capable of stopping the submission threats of Oliveira, and I think these two just bang it out on the feet for three rounds where Ferguson’s constant pressure will be key.” Pick: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “After the tough loss to Gaethje, I expect Ferguson to return with a vengeance. Oliveira is undoubtedly a top talent, but I can see Ferguson dragging him into deep waters and getting a late stoppage by overwhelming him.” Pick: Tony Ferguson via TKO.
Cody Davis – “This is a make-or-break fight for Ferguson, and he knows it. His loss against Gaethje wasn’t pretty, but I think Ferguson is correcting whatever mental mistakes happened that night. This should be a slugfest, with Ferguson’s reach and striking abilities carrying the day.” Pick: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “With all due respect to the flyweights, this is MY main event. It’s hard not to expect a FOTN out of these two, as they combine for a total of 26 POTN bonuses in their UFC career. The fans are the real winners here, but Ferguson should be able to pull off the win.” Pick: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision.
Derek Clarke – “I think Oliveira is very underrated and very well could win this fight, but if Ferguson shows up, I think he takes it over three rounds.” Pick: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba
Joel Griffith – “Both of these women are jiu-jitsu aces, and have found much of their success through submissions. With that being the case, it’s going to be a challenge for either one to find a submission on the other. I see Jandiroba as the superior striker, and see that carrying her to victory.” Pick: Virna Jandiroba via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “I think Dern will be able to control the fight on the ground, but I don’t think she’ll be able to finish Jandiroba. I expect Dern to get a close decision win.” Pick: Mackenzie Dern via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “This will be a fun fight! Both competitors are submission experts, so expect this one to be fought almost entirely on the mat. I’ll take Dern in the second or third round, since she is younger and has more competition under her belt.” Pick: Mackenzie Dern via submission.
Cody Rempel – “Dern is getting another stiff test in fellow submission artist Jandiroba. Dern has the edge on the mats, but Jandiroba will likely want to keep it on the feet where it’s a little closer of a fight. Dern should be able to drag the fight to the ground and get a big win.” Pick: Mackenzie Dern via submission.
Derek Clarke – “I actually think Jandiroba has the tools to beat Dern, and comes out on top with a split decision. Either way, I’m a big fan of this fight.” Pick: Virna Jandiroba via split decision.
Kevin Holland vs. Jacare Souza
Joel Griffith – “This is a massive fight for Holland, and one that could earn him fighter of the year with a victory. As long as Holland can keep the fight standing, his volume is going to be way too much for Souza. Even if Souza manages to land one of his power shots, Holland has proven to have a solid chin.” Pick: Kevin Holland via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “This is the toughest pick of the night for me. I think Holland’s speed advantage and scrambling ability will keep things on the feet and at range where he holds a nine-inch reach advantage. Eventually, I think he’ll be able to land something slick and hurt Souza.” Pick: Kevin Holland via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Both fighters have impressive resumes and are well-rounded in their training. I really wanted to pick Souza, but he’s 41 and hasn’t been in the octagon in over a year. Meanwhile, Holland has already won four fights in 2020.” Pick: Kevin Holland via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Holland has surged into the rankings with four straight wins in just over five months in 2020, three of which have been highlight-reel finishes. Souza is getting a little long in the tooth and is exactly the type of guy Holland needs to beat to get himself into the mix at 185 pounds. Of course, if he’s not careful, Souza could snatch a neck or a limb and steal the win, but Holland is the bet here.” Pick: Kevin Holland via unanimous decision.
Derek Clarke – “Holland vs. Souza is interesting, since Souza hasn’t fought in 2020 and Holland will be fighting for the fifth time. I love Souza, but also am a big fan of the way Holland holds himself accountable.” Pick: Kevin Holland via unanimous decision.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane
Joel Griffith – “Every time I watch Gane fight, I’m just more and more impressed with his speed and technique for a heavyweight. He’s the complete package, and I expect him to pass the biggest test of his career with flying colours, finding Dos Santos’ chin early.” Pick: Ciryl Gane via knockout.
Cooper Riehl – “With some big cuts coming up to the UFC roster, this might be the last time we see Dos Santos in the Octagon. I think Gane is just too fast and athletic for the aging Dos Santos, and he should be able to get the job done, no problem.” Pick: Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “Boy, it’s hard to believe Dos Santos used to be one of the UFC’s best fighters. He’s lost his last three competitions by TKO, and those losses were pretty ugly. I don’t know if it’s a mental barrier or a training issue for the former champion, but I’m definitely not betting on him in this matchup.” Pick: Ciryl Gane via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “Gane is an exciting prospect in the UFC’s heavyweight division, finishing all of his opponents, except Canada’s own Tanner Boser. Gane can finish on the feet or on the mat and Dos Santos is not what he used to be. Gane can make a name off the former champ with a big stoppage here.” Pick: Ciryl Gane via TKO.
Derek Clarke – “Bit of a wild card here, but worth a shot. Gane is talented, so we shall see.” Pick: Ciryl Gane via submission.