The most dominant Octagon champion faces his most dangerous rivals yet when Khabib Nurmagomedov faces knockout machine Justin Gaetje at UFC 254 this weekend (Saturday, October 24, 2020). The Flash Forum on “Battle Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, will also host a match between Jared Cannon and Robert Whitaker, as well as prospective player Phil Howes against promising Australian Jacob Malkon.
Three UFC 254 “Prelims” card matches remain to preview and predict (check the first installment here), so let’s fix that …
265 lbs: Stephan Struve against. This is Toivasa
Stefan Struve (12-29) cut a series of triple defeats with the return of Marcus Rogerio de Lima in February of last year, then announced his intention to leave the sport largely. Unable to stay away, he returned in December 2019 to face Ben Rothwell, who used heavy punches and a series of low punches to knock down the towering Dutchman.
Finally, 27 of the 29 professional victories have come within the distance, 18 of them are submissive.
Tai Toivasa (10-3) – an aide to Mark Hunt – looked like the next big Australian thing to the UFC after he started his octagonal career (3-0). Since then, he has scored his record-breaking tie with three straight defeats, most recently taking advantage of Sergey Spivak’s arm triangle a little over a year ago.
It sheds 10 inches, 9.5 inches tall, to reach the “skyscraper”.
This is about a binary match as you are likely to see it. If Struve gets to the ground, he won’t have much trouble clicking on the incompetent Bam Bam in no time. If the pair spent any amount of time on their feet, Tuivasa would hit Struve’s striking lower jaw in fifth grade.
As disappointing as Tuivasa’s recent efforts have been, Struve is still hugely successful as ever, and if there’s one thing Tuivasa doesn’t lack, it’s a killer instinct. As long as he’s not petting in the ring and leaving himself open for difficult Struve throws, expect Tuivasa to support Struve to the fence and repeat Hunt’s efforts with an overwhelming series of punches.
Prediction: Tuivasa by technical knockout in the first round
170 lbs: Alex Oliveira against. Shaukat Rakhmonov
After losing the main event to Donald Cerrone in 2016, Alex Oliveira (22-8-1) 6-1 (1 NC) went into the next eight, earning three post-fight bonuses in the process. Then came a triple slippage, from which he rebounded with decisions against Max Griffin and Peter Sobota earlier this year.
“Cowboy” steps into Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos with approximately 2.5 weeks’ notice.
Shaukat Rakhmonov of Kazakhstan (12-0) never looked at the referees as professionals, finishing all but one of his 12 matches in two rounds. His campaign in 2019 saw him defeating Daniel Bricaza for the M-1 belt and defending him three months later by finishing the first round of Thiago Fargao.
This would be his first battle in nearly 16 months, as his planned startups collapsed in March and July.
The outcome of this battle depends entirely on how long it takes. Rakhmonov was swift early in his 2018 win over Fereydon Udelov, which should give the mighty Oliveira some hope. But the Kazakh ended up alive, and we constantly saw Oliveira collapsing almost in the middle of the second round. Rakhmonov is a wrestler skilled enough to prevent Oliveira from sprinting towards victory at the top, and he also offers some ground and pound pounds, meaning that Oliveira cannot hold onto his back to survive once the gas tank is emptied.
I always favor Rahmonov, who has shown some improved hits in recent times and can eliminate Oliveira altogether if the latter fails to reach an early end. In short, Rakhmonov survived the early storm to wipe out the late Brazilian.
Prediction: Rakhmonov through the technical knockout in the third round
205 lbs: Da Eun Joong against. Sam Alfie
Da Un Jung (13-2) faltered out of the professional gate, losing to Jun Soo Lim and future UFC rival Roque Martinez, but went on to win 10 times in a row and secured a spot in Octagon last year. He kicked off his UFC campaign with a guillotine ending for Khades Ibragimov, then took just 64 seconds to oust Mike Rodriguez in December 2019.
He defeated 10 professional enemies and provided two more.
Sam Alvey (33-14) successfully started his UFC Light Heavyweight campaign by defeating Marcin Prachnio and Gian Villante, extending his ongoing career to 7-2 in the process. He has not tasted victory since then, and entered the cage on Saturday in a four-game losing streak.
It has a defect of 2 inches in height and defects of 3 inches.
Here’s an interesting fact for you: Alvey, the infamous powerhouse player, has only scored a knockout once since 2016. This is an 11-fight period where he only managed to stop Marcin Prachnio, who first pushed his face to Alvey’s counter. It doesn’t seem wise to expect him to knock out Mahjong, a naturally larger-than-life man tall enough to distance himself from Alvey’s hay makers.
The lesser question is whether Jung will win and the more so whether he gets the knockout. Alvey’s chin looked a bit shaky lately, so I’d say he did. Heavy punches collide with the Korean batter 3-0 in the octagon.
Prediction: Mahjong crossed the technical knockout in the first round
It’s hard to argue that UFC 254 is not worth the admission price. See you Saturday, you crazy.
Remember, MMAmania.com will be providing comprehensive live coverage, hit-by-blow for the entire UFC 254 Fighting Card properly HereStarting early ESPN + Online “Prelims” matches, due to begin at 10:30 AM ET, then the remaining bottom card balance on ESPN 2 /ESPN + At 12 PM ET, before the main PPV card start time at 2 PM ET ESPN +.
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