Beginning with Saturday night’s main card of UFC on ESPN 18, the MMA Empire team, along with a guest picker, will provide their picks and breakdowns for each main card bout.
Our guest picker for this event is Canadian amateur flyweight Mitch Wiles, who is coming off a knockout victory over Lorin Motruk at Unified MMA 38. Wiles resides in Edmonton, Alta. and is looking to continue building his fight career up to the professional level.
Additionally, Canadian Malcolm Gordon is taking on Su Mudaerji in a flyweight bout on the prelims, so be sure to tune in.
Anthony Smith vs Devin Clark
Joel Griffith – “This is a big test for Clark, but I think he has the tools to get the job done. I feel his striking will be crisper and more efficient than Smith, while also having a stronger wrestling base.” Pick: Devin Clark via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “On a night of great matchmaking, this has got to be my favourite scrap. After a couple tough losses, I think we’ll see Smith return to the more patient and precise fighter we saw climb the light heavyweight rankings, and even finish Alexander Gustafsson.” Pick: Anthony Smith via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “Smith snaps his two-fight losing streak, as his reach advantage and striking arsenal carry the day.” Pick: Anthony Smith via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “Clark is taking a big step up in competition and although Smith is in the midst of a rough patch in his career, his big-fight experience should be enough for him to get back on track.” Pick: Anthony Smith via TKO.
Mitch Wiles – “This is a big opportunity for Clark, but I see Smith coming in with a vengeance and putting on a vintage performance to get himself back in the win column.” Pick: Anthony Smith via TKO.
Miguel Baeza vs Takashi Sato
Joel Griffith – “This is a fantastic matchup and my pick for fight of the night as both guys love to stand and bang. I see Baeza’s speed being the difference-maker in this one, and see him catching Sato with a clean shot.” Pick: Miguel Baeza via knockout.
Cooper Riehl – “Baeza is coming off a great win against a UFC vet, Matt Brown, but I think there might be some holes in his striking defence that Sato will be able to expose.” Pick: Takashi Sato via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “This might be Saturday’s best fight. Baeza’s size advantage will be the deciding factor, as he’ll likely land a hook or combination to get the knockout win.” Pick: Miguel Baeza via knockout.
Cody Rempel – “Baeza has looked great since earning his contract on the Contender Series, and I look for him to continue that trend in a stand-up battle against a tough Sato.” Pick: Miguel Baeza via unanimous decision.
Mitch Wiles – “I expect both men to come out swinging. Sato may have more than double the professional fights than his opponent, but I see Baeza coming out of this fight still undefeated with his third straight finish in the UFC.” Pick: Miguel Baeza via knockout.
Josh Parisian vs Parker Porter
Joel Griffith – “I think the only sure thing in this one is it doesn’t go the distance. These are two big boys who swing for the fences. I feel Porter’s striking is better than he’s given credit for, and I can see him catching Parisian with a big shot.” Pick: Parker Porter via knockout.
Cooper Riehl – “Both of these dudes cut weight to make the heavyweight limit, and they pack big time finishing power. I expect Porter’s technical advantage on the feet to be the difference-maker.” Pick: Parker Porter via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Parisian gets his seventh straight win in his UFC debut. His 79″ reach and ground-and-pound will be too much for Porter to handle, and this fight could be over early.” Pick: Josh Parisian via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about either man, but I’ll take the heavy-handed Parisian with a quick victory.” Pick: Josh Parisian via TKO.
Mitch Wiles – “It only takes one shot to come out victorious in a fight, especially when we’re talking about heavyweights. Parisian has the height and reach over Porter, and I see him landing first and getting his first victory inside the octagon.” Pick: Josh Parisian by TKO.
Bill Algeo vs Spike Carlyle
Joel Griffith – “Carlyle has been known for his explosive first round pace, but does wear down as the fight progresses. I see Algeo being able to weather that early storm of Carlyle, and begin to pick him apart with volume on the feet, while mixing in his takedowns.” Pick: Bill Algeo via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “Carlyle is a super fast starter and he’s got a lot of power for the weight class. This is a perfect fight to start the main card, and it should be exciting.” Pick: Spike Carlyle via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Algeo will stun Carlyle with a combination early, and ‘The Alpha Ginger’ won’t be able to respond. Expect Carlyle to become fatigued in the second round, as Algeo coasts to a clear victory.” Pick: Bill Algeo via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Carlyle is all action and Algeo is not shy to stand and trade, and that could make for a fight-of-the-night performance for the featherweights. Carlyle should be able to out-strike Algeo and pick up the win.” Pick: Spike Carlyle via unanimous decision.
Mitch Wiles – “Both fighters impressed me in their last bouts, even though they both came up short, so I’m expecting a fast-paced fight. They both possess the skills to win, but I see Carlyle’s athleticism being a bit much for Algeo.” Pick: Spike Carlyle via unanimous decision.
Ashlee Evans-Smith vs Norma Dumont
Joel Griffith – “This one is pretty close to 50-50 for me. I don’t see either fighter getting a finish, but I see Evans-Smith being the busier and more accurate party in the striking.” Pick: Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “I kind of want to go with Evans-Smith based on her UFC experience, but I expect the solid prospect, Dumont, to bounce back after her tough debut against Megan Anderson.” Pick: Norma Dumont via unanimous decision.
Cody Davis – “Neither athlete has won a fight since 2018, so they’re both hungry for a victory. I give the slight edge to Evans-Smith, just because she has more experience in the cage.” Pick: Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision.
Cody Rempel – “Evans-Smith has had an up-and-down career inside the Octagon, and Dumont had a tough match-up in her UFC debut. This one is pretty much a pick ’em and could go either way.” Pick: Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision.
Mitch Wiles – “There’s a decent-sized gap in experience between these two ladies, and I see Evans-Smith using that to her advantage to get herself back into the win column against Dumont.” Pick: Ashlee Evans-Smith via unanimous decision.
Kai Kamaka III vs Jonathan Pearce
Joel Griffith – “This one has FOTN potential in my eyes. Both guys love to stand and bang and both have strong chins. I think Kamaka’s volume and speed will takeover, and he will coast to victory.” Pick: Kai Kamaka III via unanimous decision.
Cooper Riehl – “I think Kamaka is just a little bit better everywhere. He should be able to wear Pearce down and get him out of there.” Pick: Kai Kamaka III via TKO.
Cody Davis – “Pearce lost in his UFC debut last year via ground and pound. Meanwhile, Kamaka is on a six-fight win streak with solid backgrounds in both wrestling and boxing. This looks like a bad matchup for Pearce.” Pick: Kai Kamaka III via TKO.
Cody Rempel – “Pearce has heavy hands and finishes the majority of his wins, but Kamaka is durable and has momentum on his side. He should be able to keep his winning streak alive.” Pick: Kai Kamaka III via unanimous decision.
Mitch Wiles – “I’m a big fan of Kamaka. He’s a very scrappy fighter with a solid wrestling background, and I expect to see him put the pressure on Pearce and pull off the win in an exciting fight.” Pick: Kai Kamaka III via unanimous decision.