UFC on ESPN, Overeem vs. Harris: Preview and predictions

For the third time in roughly one week, the UFC will bring us a sporting event as the country is looking for some semblance of normalcy. This fight card will be shown on ESPN and available to everyone with a basic cable subscription, meaning that it will be available to most people. What does the card have in store for fans?

Alistair Overeem (+125) vs. Walt Harris (-160), Heavyweight

This fight was slated to take place back in December before tragedy struck the Harris family. As a result, Overeem fought Jairzinho Rozenstruik and had his lip relocated to a different zip code than the rest of his body. Overeem has been fighting professionally since before the turn of the century. Recently, his age has caught up with him as he has dropped three of his last five fights including two knockouts and one TKO. In fact, Overeem’s last nine losses have come by KO/TKO. Harris has turned in two straight “Performances of the Night” in knockout wins over Aleksei Oleinik and Sergey Spivak. Each of Harris’s 13 victories have come via KO/TKO.

In Harris, Overeem faces another dangerous striker. Look for Harris to come out fast and move forward looking for a quick knockout. Overeem’s chances to win will come by keeping Harris at range looking to pick him apart or shoot for the take down.

My prediction: I look for Harris to keep the heat on Overeem and land enough heavy blows to knock him out. Harris, KO/TKO.

Cláudia Gadelha (-215) vs. Angela Hill (+195), Women’s Strawweight

Coming into her first fight in ten months, Gadelha has been a pedestrian 4-5 in her last nine fights, eight of which went the distance. Hill is coming into this fight off of three straight wins, all coming within the last eight months. Hill has finished two of those fights via TKO.

Hill will look to keep this fight vertical. The 15th ranked strawweight is only 3-6 when her opponents score a take down. Hill has a nice repertoire of punches and kicks that will allow her to earn points from her feet. Gadelha is a heavy handed puncher that is also one of the best take down artists in the women’s division. She will look to take this fight to the ground and avoid Hill’s strikes.

My prediction: Hill is a tough fighter that stands a good chance of winning if she can keep the fight standing. However, if she has not improved her take down defense, Gadelha will take her down throughout the fight and score a decision victory. Gadelha, decision.

Dan Ige (+110) vs. Edson Barboza (-140), Featherweight

Dan Ige comes into the fight on quite a hot streak, having won five straight and taking only one loss in his last twelve fights. Barboza, on the other hand, has won only once in the last three years, a span of five fights. Barboza drops down to featherweight for this fight in hope of kick starting a new path.

Barboza is a talented striker with one of the best kicking games, if not the best, in the UFC. The Brazilian’s kicks are some of the fastest the fight game has ever seen. Though a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitso, Barboza has only one submission in his career and often gets dominated on the ground. Ige is a former college wrestler with a formidable take down game. For his part, Barboza has an 80% take down defense rate. Barboza will look to stand and strike, while Ige searches for a take down.

My prediction: Ige gets at least one take down and controls the fight pace throughout for a decision victory. Ige, decision.

Erik Anders (+105) vs. Krzystof Jotko (-138), Middleweight

The explosive Eryk Anders has won two in a row since dropping three straight from September, 2018 to April, 2019. The southpaw takes on a fellow southpaw in Jotko, making this his second straight fight against a lefty. Like Anders, Jotko has also won two in a row after dropping three straight.

Anderson will look to use his heavy hands to avoid having this fight hit the judges’ scorecards. Jotko is 14-1 in fights that go the distance and his chin came into question during his losing streak. Couple this with Jotko’s 85% take down defense, and Anders will try to keep this fight standing and search out opportunities for an explosive knockout. Jotko wants to control the tempo of the fight on his feet and rack up control time on the ground to secure a decision, as only six of his victories have come via knockout.

My prediction: Anders is still improving in the octagon and can strike at any time, from anywhere. He waits for an opening here and drops Jotko. Anders, KO/TKO

Song Yadong (-200) vs. Marlon Vera (+150), Featherweight

Only 22 years old, Yadong is one of the new wave of Chinese fighters making their mark on the UFC. Before his draw against Cody Stamann in December, Yadong had run off seven straight victories, including four in the UFC. Vera has put together five straight victories, all via TKO or submission. Vera’s performance since his loss against Douglas Silva de Andrede in February, 2018 has the UFC world taking notice.

Yadong likes to start off fast, often attacking during the first several minutes of the first round. With clean, hard strikes and a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Yadong is a well-rounded fighter that likes to force the action. Vera is also a well rounded fighter with no glaring weaknesses in his game. Vera’s strikes snap on impact and his stamina is among the best in the game.

My prediction: This is a close fight to call and should be extremely exciting. The longer the fight goes, the more it benefits Vera. I think Vera’s stoppage streak is broken here, but he pulls out a decision with a strong ground game. Vera, decision.

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Leroy Travers

Follow my coverage of Lacrosse (College and MLL) as well as Georgetown Hoyas Basketball, the Washington Redskins, and most other sports here on the MSB. Living in neighboring Sussex County, Delaware, I have been a huge Maryland Sports fan for almost 40 years. Follow me on Twitter @el_travs, and on Instagram @Letrav.

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