Predictions! UFC 241 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview
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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and ESPN this weekend (Sat., Aug. 17, 2019) when UFC 241: “Cormier vs. Miocic 2” storms Honda Center in Anaheim, California. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 241 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.
More than one year after their dramatic first meeting, Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic will run it back inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., this Saturday (Aug. 17, 2019) with UFC’s Heavyweight championship on the line once again. UFC 241 also features the long-awaited return of Nate Diaz against human highlight reel Anthony Pettis and a clash of the Middleweight division’s beefiest bruisers, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa.
UFC 241 features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around, three on Fight Pass and four on ESPN. Here’s the online selection:
115 lbs.: Hannah Cifers vs. Jodie Esquibel
A five-fight win streak that featured four knockouts brought Hannah Cifers (9-3) to the Octagon in Nov. 2018, where she fell to blue-chip prospect Maycee Barber via second-round technical knockout. She returned to action five months later to upset jiu-jitsu ace Polyana Viana by split decision at UFC 235.
All but one of her five (technical) knockout victories have come in the first round.
Jodie Esquibel (6-5) lost a split decision to Ashley Yoder in the opening round of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 23 and fell to Alexa Grasso in her return to the Invicta cage, but came back to edge veteran DeAnna Bennett her next time out. She’s yet to taste victory in the Octagon, going 0-3 over a two-year stretch.
She stands two inches taller than the 5’1” “Shockwave.”
Esquibel has had three UFC fights to show anything besides grit and decent takedown defense. Instead, she’s absorbed more than 350 strikes. It’s like all you need to beat her is above-average stand up, and Cifers certainly fits the bill.
Cifers can win this almost purely on the strength of her right cross, and the power she can put behind it bodes ill for the ever-hittable Esquibel. Power punching secures Cifers her second UFC victory.
Prediction: Cifers via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Brandon Davis
Kyung Ho Kang (15-8) opened his UFC career 2-1 (1 NC) before undergoing his mandatory military service in his native Korea. He returned to action 3.5 years later with a submission of Guido Cannetti, then tapped Teruto Ishihara after a narrow loss to Ricardo Ramos.
“Mr. Perfect” has submitted 11 professional foes.
Brandon Davis (10-5) dazzled on the Contender Series with an entertaining decision over Austin Arnett, but struggled to maintain that momentum in the Octagon, going 1-3. This past March, he faced heavy-handed Joe Lauzon protege Randy Costa and survived a wild start to hand the latter his first career loss.
His six professional finishes are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.
Davis is ballsy, tough as nails, and hits plenty hard. He also struggles profoundly with grapplers — Enrique Barzola alone dragged him down 10 times, and the hulking Kang looks like he’s got the goods to exploit that weakness yet again. Davis simply cannot handle the Korean veteran on the ground, and though he’s not the type to be mentally broken by a few takedowns, it’ll be hard for him to get anything going on the feet with the threat of them dangling over his head.
All that said, Kang can get too brawl-happy for his own good, and if he’s reticent to bring his excellent grappling to bear, I can easily see him humoring Davis for too long and dropping a decision. He’s just got too big an edge on the mat for me to pick against him. We get a few minutes of fun brawling before Kang drags him down and forces a tap.
Prediction: Kang via first-round submission
125 lbs.: Sabina Mazo vs. Shana Dobson
The four-fight LFA career of Sabina Mazo (6-1) saw her score a pair of highlight-reel head kicks, claim the promotion’s Flyweight title, and successfully defend it with a decision over Carol Yariwaki in Nov. 2018. Despite the strong run, she came up short against UFC veteran Maryna Moroz in her promotional debut in March.
She stands an inch taller than Shana Dobson (3-2) but faces a one-inch reach disadvantage.
Dobson’s TUF 26 run ended 97 seconds into the opening round courtesy of Roxanne Modafferi’s ground-and-pound. She successfully debuted in the Octagon with a knockout of Ariel Beck, but fell short against Lauren Mueller four months later.
This will be her first fight in 16 months after injury scrapped a November bout with Yanan Wu.
I won’t pretend I wasn’t disappointed in Mazo’s performance against Moroz, but she’s still got potential. I expect her to do quite a bit better against Dobson; while “Danger” offers the sort of pressure that Mazo dislikes, “The Colombian Queen” is the better technical striker and won’t have to worry too much about takedowns.
It’ll come down to Dobson’s one-shot power against Mazo’s versatile offense, and I favor the latter. Expect the 22-year-old to learn from her first-ever defeat and use her kicking arsenal to piece up Dobson on the feet.
Prediction: Mazo via unanimous decision
Four more UFC 241 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict tomorrow, including a pair of terrific Bantamweight battles. Same time as always, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 241 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 241: “Cormier vs. Miocic 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.