Heavyweight Bout: Aleksei Oleinik (59-13-1) vs. Derrick Lewis (23-7)
Luke Irwin: Oleinik was able to scrape by a noticeably rather shot Fabricio Werdum on the scorecards, but when he faces actual strikers, he tends to get overwhelmed and fold up. Lewis via R1 KO.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Weidman (14-5) vs. Omari Akhmedov (20-4-1)
Luke: Can you imagine five years ago saying Weidman vs. Akhmedov would happen? When Weidman was the undefeated champ and Akhmedov was being stopped repeatedly on the midcard? And that you’d really have to think about the outcome? Weidman looks so shot lately, getting stopped in his last five out of six fights, that I don’t like his odds against anyone, much less afighter who’s gone 5-0-1 in his last six. Akhmedov via UD.
Middleweight Bout: Darren Stewart (11-5) vs. Maki Pitolo (13-5)
Luke: Fairly evenly-matched bout here, both guys with similar records, similar knockout numbers, they’re both strikers by trade, although Pitolo has been finishing much more of late. Pitolo is a little more well-rounded, and may get the best of Stewart on the feet and finish him on the ground, which has happened before. Pitolo via R2 Submission.
Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Julija Stoliarenko (9-3-2) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (12-5)
Luke: Stoliarenko over Kunitskaya is my biggest upset pick of the weekend. The Bellator champ is a late-replacement, but she’s an absolute submission ace, and Kunitskaya can be susceptible towards the tap. Stoliarenko via R1 Submission.
158lb Catchweight Bout: Beneil Dariush (18-4-1) vs. Scott Holtzman (14-3)
Luke: Don’t look now, but in the shark tank that is the lightweight division, these two are carving out a spot for themselves. Dariush has won his last four, three by submission, and Holtzman is 5-1 in his last six. While the title picture is a ways out for the winner of these two, a big name gatekeeper would be right on track for the winner in maybe a co-main slot. I admire Holtzman’s workmanlike efficiency, and grinding out a win over Jim Miller is a feather in anyone’s cap, but Darius looks like a new fighter since his loss to Alexander Hernandez, his last three fights were finished three distinctly different ways, and he earned performance bonuses for each. It’ll be tough sledding against Holtzman, but I think Dariush is going to keep this magic and find a way to get another finish. Dariush via R3 Submission.
2020 Picks Record: 101-48