The Octagon heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this weekend for UFC 224, and it’s the ladies who dominate the main card at this event. There are 5 fights on the main card, two of which are battles between the women. The headline event is a bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington, but there is a ton of action to come before that one. There are 4 big bouts to tune into before the main event, and we have them all covered here. We are going to take a quick look at all the fights on the main card, delivering predictions for each, so let’s get right to it.
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Vitor Belfort (+210) Vs Lyoto Machida (-270)
These are a pair of fighter’s heading towards retirement from the UFC, but that does not mean that they won’t deliver a great fight. These guys are legends in the sport, so look for them to put on a show. Belfort comes in with a career mark of 26-13, while Machida is at 23-8. Belfort has already made it clear that this may well be his last UFC fight, with Bellator on the horizon, but will he be able to deliver enough to go out on a high? I’m not so sure he can, which is why I am on Machida to win.
John Lineker (-250) vs Brian Kelleher (+200)
This is one of the more interesting bouts on the main card, and it may be where we see an upset. Lineker is an exciting fighter, but he seems to have stalled in his climb up the bantamweight ranks, and now has a record of 30-8. Kelleher is an all-out fighter who seems to have endless reserves of energy. He is going to come out swinging from the start, delivering a furious assault that will not stop until this one is over. Kelleher is at 19-8 in his career, and I think he can hit win #20 on Saturday night.
Mackenzie Dern (-260) Vs Amanda Cooper (+200)
Dern comes into this bout with an unbeaten 6-0 record, and she is at her very best when the fight goes to the mat, with 3 of her wins coming via submission. That is where Copper excels, too, with 2 of her 4 career wins coming by way of submission. These two fighters adopt a very similar style, and while you might think that things would cancel out, it is Dern who is the more talented of the two fighters. I have her to win this one.
Ronaldo Souza (-150) Vs Kelvin Gastelum (+120)
Souza comes into this one on a great run of form, winning 11 of his last 13 fights to take his record to 25-5. There is the possibility that this one could be a classic, as Souza has made a habit of having his bouts declared as the fight of the night. He is going to have his hands full with Kelvin Gastelum, who comes into this one with a career record of 15-3. This could be a close one, but Gastelum is not great at defending the takedown, which could lead to trouble. I am with Souza here.
Amanda Nunes (-1000) Vs Raquel Pennington (+600)
We can only hope that the rest of the main card is entertaining because the headline event is one that looks as though it could be over quickly. Nunes, who is 15-4, will be defending her bantamweight title and will be going against a fighter in Pennington who comes in with an unremarkable 9-6 career record. Pennington simply does not have the power to frighten Nunes, which is why I think the champ will have this one over quickly.
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