UFC 244 Main Card Predictions

It’s finally here! The highly anticipated BMF belt will be on the line, with one of the two eccentric, scintillating personalities of Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz walking out the official BMF of the UFC. There is also a stacked card behind this once in a lifetime encounter, so today I will be previewing and predicting the entire card.

Kevin Lee vs Gregor Gillespie

This is a matchup between two standout wrestlers with massively varying trajectories. Gregor Gillespie has been running through his opponents; but Kevin Lee will be by far the highest level opponent he has faced. His striking; whilst effective has been fairly rudimentary and he is now facing an opponent who he may not be able to outwrestle. Kevin Lee is in dire need of a win here; he is now training out of Tristar which he will be hoping can breathe new life into his career with a victory over the undefeated Gillespie.

I anticipate a striking match here; I do not expect either man to have a noticeable advantage in the wrestling department, and Kevin Lee is the more polished striker. Lee will use his superior movement and timing to frustrate Gillespie and hand the former collegiate wrestler his first professional loss. I am predicting he does this via stoppage after  barrage of strikes is too much for Gillespie.

Kevin Lee via TKO (Round 2)

Derrick Lewis vs Blagoy Ivanov

A strange matchup between one heavyweight with a surge of momentum in Ivanov and another heavyweight who is on a downward slide in Derrick Lewis. Lewis is on a two fight skid; albeit against world class competition. Ivanov is on a two fight streak with two decision wins, and he is the better grappler and possibly the better technical striker. However the x-factor is always Lewis’ power; it is a game changer in nearly all of Lewis’ fights and it is likely to be so again. Ivanov will do well in the first round; taking down Lewis and using good ground control, however holding the behemoth down will have a big affect of the gas tank of Ivanov. Look for Lewis to explode out towards the end of the first round and wobble Ivanov in the striking realm. In the second frame Lewis closes the deal by catching a fading Ivanov with a massive overhand right to put “The Black Beast” back in the win column.

Derrick Lewis via TKO (Round 2)

Stephen Thompson vs Vicente Luque

Stephen Thompson has not fought since being shockingly knocked out by an Anthony Pettis superman punch. This followed a close decision loss to scouse standout Darren Till; meaning “Wonderboy” has not registered a UFC win in just under two years. Vicente Luque is an exciting striker who has power; and as shown in his barnburner of a last fight against Mike Perry, he can take a punch as well. With six UFC wins in a row; it’s easy to favor Luque here, however that would be forgetting how good Thompson really is. Despite the initial appearance of their current trajectories, Luque’s brawling striking style is tailor made for the Karate genius of Stephen Thompson. Wonderboy outclasses him in a performance which typifies his tricky, elusive style. Wonderboy will keep his distance and chip away at Luque’s legs until Luque gets frustrated and starts to lunge in, at which point Wonderboy will put some punches together. Luque may be rocked in this fight; but he is too tough to be finished by Wonderboy, who will take safety over wreckless abandon every day.

Stephen Thompson via Unanimous Decision

Kelvin Gastelum vs Darren Till

There is an big unknown quantity in this fight; and that unknown quantity is Darren Till at middleweight. Till is coming off of the first two losses of his career; being finished in both fights; and the general consensus is he will do his best work at middleweight. Till has the potential to be a future world champion; however this is a very risky fight for his middleweight debut. As a thai boxer; Till is hoping to showcase speed at middleweight, however Kelvin Gastelum, one fight removed from an interim title opportunity, possesses excellent speed himself. Kelvin also possesses great timing and power. Gastelum can wrestle; but his recent encounters illustrate he prefers to strike and whilst Till is the better striker on paper, Gastelum always seems to find a way to connect. With Till’s chin slightly high in his stance; look for Gastelum to connect early and often, en route to a first round knockout.

Kelvin Gastelum via KO (Round 1)

Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz

It’s finally here. The big one. This is going to be a war; there’s simply no way it won’t be and that’s because these two always enter battle the exact same way; with reckless abandon. These two both have excellent boxing skills; and this one is likely to remain standing for the most part. It will be a battle of Masvidal’s speed and power vs Diaz’s toughness and endurance.

Diaz has an excellent ground game; however getting Masvidal down will be no easy feat. Additionally; as seen against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demain Maia; Masvidal is extremely hard to submit o the ground, so it does not seem like a particularly viable option for Diaz, who lacks the wrestling ability of Maia.

“Gamebred” will take control of the early going; using footwork to get in and out against his longer opponent, with Diaz struggling to get going. Masvidal will land power punches whilst slipping away from Diaz’s return shots to cap off a good first round for the Miami native. The second round will be closer; with Masvidal continuing to land, however Diaz will walk through his shots and start piecing Masvidal up a bit. Eventually Diaz will back up Masvidal and land at will to close out the round. The third round Diaz will start to take over; walking Masvidal down alternating between body punches at boxing range an elbows in the clinch.  The championship rounds is where Diaz will really take over; peppering Masvidal’s face and body with punches, with Masvidal too tired to implement his footwork to move out of Diaz’s range. Masvidal will still land the odd hard shot but Diaz takes a competitive but clear decision.  

Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision

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