UFC 247: Preview and predictions
Jon Jones will return to the octagon on Saturday night for the first time since July when he seeks out his UFC record 14th straight title fight victory against Dominick Reyes. Typically, a Jon Jones headlined pay-per-view fight would be in contention for must-see fight of the year. UFC 247, however, has the distinction of falling in between two of the most anticipated fights in recent memory in the return of Connor McGregor at UFC 246 and the highly anticipated Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson fight at UFC 249. Nonetheless, Jon Jones comes into UFC 247 with much to prove as many felt that he simply mailed in his 2019 fights, winning five round decisions against Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith. While Jon Jones’ presence in a fight often obfuscates the rest of the card, there is plenty of reasons to watch the rest of the action from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at the entire main card.
Jon Jones vs. Dominich Reyes, Light Heavyweight.
Jones is coming off of the most difficult fight of his career, a split-decision victory against Thiago Santos in July of 2019. The fight marked the first time in “Bones'” career that he did not win a fight by stoppage or unanimous decision even though Santos suffered injuries in both knees during the fight. His opponent, Dominick Reyes is a perfect 12-0 and coming off of an impressive first round knockout victory against Chris Weidman in October. Jones comes into the fight as a big current -500 favorite, surprising as many see Reyes as Jone’s biggest threat, to date.
Reyes is big, strong and athletic, however, he is also young and inexperienced. In order to win, he will need to keep the fight on his feet and box Jones. Jones is no slouch as a boxer, but his greatest strengths are his grappling and Muay Thai. Over his last two fights, Jones has been less aggressive and more defensive. If Reyes can come out aggressive and keep the pressure on Jones, he can take the fight five rounds and win a decision. If Jones takes the fight to the ground often he is likely to finish Reyes or win an easy decision.
Prediction: Houston was the sight of one of the bigReyes is simply too inexperienced to use his strengths and mitigates Jones’. The fight will go to the ground more that Reyes wants it to and Jones will win a majority decision.
Katlyn Chookagian vs. Valentina Shevchenko – Womens Flyweight
Valentina Shevchenko is one of the top pound for pound fighters in the UFC right now. Since returning to Flyweight in February of 2018, Shevchenko has looked unbeatable, going 4-0 with two unanimous decisions, one knockout and one submission. The 31 year old’s last loss can at the hand of Amanda Nunes via split decision. Shevchenko’s impressive resume has her listed as a current -1200 favorite. Across the octagon, her opponent, Katlyn Chookagian is no pushover. Victorious in 13 of her 15 fights, Chookagian is coming off of two consecutive unanimous decisions.
Chookagian’s best shot in this fight is to keep it on the feet and take it to the distance as ten of her victories have gone. While Chookagian has never been finished in a fight, Shevchenko is an absolute mauler that has finished twelve of her opponents.
Prediction: Chookagian will offer some resistance to Shevchenko, but ultimately, the fight will get to the ground where the champ will pound the challenger into a TKO; round 2.
Juan Adams vs. Justin Tafa – Heavyweight
Juan “The Kraken” Adams began his UFC career with five consecutive knockouts. The last two fights have not been so kind to Adams, however, as he has dropped both, including a first round TKO at the hands of Greg Hardy in July. Justin “Bad Man” Tafa hasn’t faired much better as he, too, has dropped two straight fights, including a first round knockout in his UFC debut in October. Adams is a current -240 favorite against the powerful Tafa. An aggressive fighter, Adams makes up for a lack of power with tons of pressure and good accuracy. Tafa packs knockout power, and if The Kraken gives him room, he will look to turn the lights out.
Prediction – This fight should be fun with two fairly nimble big guys in there banging, and one of them will take their third straight defeat. I like Tafa to pull the upset and knock out Adams in the second round.
Mirsad Bektic vs. Dan Ige – Featherweight
Bektic enters this fight with a 13-2 record, however, those two losses have come in his last two fights. Dan Ige, on the other hand has won four in row, with his last loss coming over two years ago. Ige finds himself a slight underdog to the -140 favorite Bektic, despite his 12-2 record.
Bektic will start fast and look to bombard Ige with jabs setting up heavier shots. This might play right into Ige’s game plan as he is known as a counter-striker. Ige will likely look to take the fight to the ground at least once.
Prediction – This should be fun to watch and I expect it to go the distance. Bektic will be the aggressor which will look good to the judges. Expect Bektic to win a decision and avoid his first ever losing streak.
Derrick Lewis vs. Ilir Latifi – Heavyweight
Derrick Lewis fight are often entertaining and mostly because of Lewis’ post fight interviews. The two big men have contrasting styles with Latifi being a string wrestler and Lewis being a powerful striker looking for the knockout. Vegas has Lewis currently listed as a -220 favorite. Latifi has lost two fights in a row and three of his last five on his way to an overall record of 14-7. Lewis has won four of his last six, losing only to Junior Dos Santos and Daniel Cormier, and has a record of 18-4 overall.
Lewes will try to end this fight early with a knockout against a fighter that is already a small heavyweight, moving up a weight class. If he is not able to do that Latifi will use Lewis’s conditioning against him to take the fight to the ground.
Prediction: Lewis’s right hand will find a home in round one and put a quick end to this fight.