UFC Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (c) (18-1) vs. Jorge Masvidal (35-14)
Luke Irwin: Coming off the heels of their BARNBURNER last July! Sure, Masvidal had absolutely nothing for Usman, but he had no time to prepare. Sure. But what is his path to victory, exactly? Especially against an Usman who’s had time to prepare specifically for Masvidal? Jorge is going to counting lights for the better part of a half-hour. Usman via UD.
UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship: Zhang Weili (c) (21-1) vs. Rose Namajunas (9-4)
Luke: Rose coming off like a 1960s Uncle Sam propaganda poster of late gave this a little more juice. After the way Weili dotted up Joanna Jedrzejczyk, impregnating her forehead, I don’t quite see Rose’s avenue to victory. She has a monster chin and can withstand whatever Rose could throw at her. Rose is going to have to pitch an almost perfect game with her distance and precision, but she’s too liable to wade in for a fight, and Zhang will be right there waiting. Zhang via UD.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship: Valentina Shevchenko (c) (20-3) vs. Jessica Andrade (21-8)
Luke: Andrade has shown time and again that she doesn’t let her size, at 5’1″ and change stop her from defeating much larger opponents. She TKO’d 5’9″ Katlyn Chookagian with body punches, and we all remember her slam on Rose Namajunas. However, in Valentina, she’s facing a fighter who knows how to use her length to her advantage and won’t let Andrade get in close. Shevchenko via UD.
Middleweight Bout: Chris Weidman (15-5) vs. Uriah Hall (16-9)
Luke: A has-been against a never-quite-was. Woo. I don’t trust Weidman at this point in his career, and while Hall is never going to be consistent, he is what he is, but Weidman might be tentative enough to let Hall point him up. Hall via SD.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Anthony Smith (34-16) vs. Jimmy Crute (12-1)
Luke: Crute gets his biggest step up in competition to date, facing the world title challenger. While Smith is still a hard out, Crute has more tools in his toolbox to perform with. Crute via R2 TKO.
2021 Picks Record: 52-28 (65.0%)