UFC 250 takes place on June 6, at the UFC Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card features some of the more understated talent on the roster.
All five main card bouts have the potential to end via finish; on account of the high quality of mixed martial artists.
Starting with “Suga” Sean O’Malley, all the way up to featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, UFC 250 will draw eyes from all combat sports fans. UFC 250 will have major ramifications throughout the bantamweight division. There will be three fights on the main card taking place at that weight class. Out of those three bouts, two feature combatants ranked No.10 or higher, including former champion Cody Garbrandt who is hungry to punch his way back into the winner’s circle.
One notable change in comparison to regular events is the Apex Centrer’s cage; it is visibly smaller than the standardized Octagon, meaning less space for the athletes. This will pay dividends for a few of the names below.
Rather than giving a quick preview and breakdown of Sean O’Malley vs. Eddie Wineland – which opens up the main card – I have selected to include Jussier Formiga vs. Alex Perez, as I believe it is the better fight with paramount consequences.
#4 Jussier Formiga (23-7) vs. #9 Alex Perez (23-5)
At UFC 250, young flyweight Alex Perez has another opportunity to propel himself upwards in the rankings when he faces longtime contender Jussier Formiga.
Formiga is one of the divisions more eminent athletes. A member of the UFC’s roster for eight years, Formiga has silently scaled the ranks of the 125-pound division, leaving numerous foe flattened in his path. After a disappointing loss to Ray Borg back in 2017, the Brazilian amassed an impressive four-fight win streak amongst the divisions best at the time, which included the now-unofficial champion, Deiveson Figueiredo.
It’s no secret that Formiga’s gameplan is to take the fight to the mat. A black belt in jiu-jitsu, he boasts incredible grappling abilities and has garnered 10 career wins via submission. Although often hunting for the submission, Formiga is more than capable of piling on ground and pound to score damage effectively. This also opens up the chance to wrap up a chokehold, as the opposition is usually focused on defending the incoming punches. But as you will know, every MMA bout starts on the feet, meaning Formiga has to spend energy taking his opponent down. To do this he begins the match in an orthodox stance while keeping active through continuous footwork; the striking is used to close the distance and mask incoming takedown attempts, which was on full display in the Sergio Pettis fight. His partiality in this department is the double leg takedown, which he completes after ducking his adversary’s strikes.
Jussier Formiga has lost three professional fights by way of TKO/KO, which further solidifies the fact the striking is his weakest facet. This will be Alex Perez’s key to victory.
Alex Perez currently occupies the No. 9 position in the official flyweight rankings. He enters this upcoming bout after recently defeating bantamweight Jordan Espinosa in January. He is now riding a notable two-fight win streak.
Perez is a powerful striker who regularly loads up on his hooks as a means to score the knockout. This often leaves him exposed to straight punches, nevertheless, it has scored him consistent success, and was a strike landed successfully in his fight with Joseph Benavidez. Despite ultimately losing that fight, Perez unveiled an ability to hang with the divisions best on the feet and an updated clinch game, which was visibly tested by Benavidez.
From what I have seen, Perez is constantly evolving his offensive wrestling and top game, which has been prominent in his last two victories. In addition to this, the 28-year-old is well versed with submissions, and unbeknownst to many has won a variety of bouts through this method.
I believe that Alex Perez will have to keep the fight standing in order to be successful on June 6. Although his defensive clinch can hang with Formiga’s slimy style, it is not recommended. Distance will be key for Perez as his opponent is good enough at closing the distance and securing a takedown; firing his straight right through the guard of the Brazilian is a sight you should expect to see on fight night.
On the other hand, Jussier Formiga will need to avoid the potent power punch of Perez, circling away from the right hand while remaining fully focused to avoid being rushed or clipped. I estimate he will use his jiu-jitsu prowess to return to the win column at UFC 250.
Prediction: Jussier Formiga via unanimous decision.
Neil Magny (22-7) vs. Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5)
Neil Magny has long been one of welterweights silent assassins, stepping in to compete with some of the sports very best time and time again. After recently returning to the win column with a big victory over Li Jingliang in March, Magny is set to face fast up and comer Anthony “Rocco” Martin, who’s eager to finally crack the top 15.
After a disappointing defeat to Santiago Ponzinibbio nearly two years ago, Magny announced his rearrival to the welterweight division with a smothering performance over China’s Jingliang. This performance illustrated visible improvements in his striking and clinch game, which he uses to land big knees and elbows; many of his opponents have been unable to find a solution to these attack and the mass amounts of damage. Magny is a product of Elevation Fight Team, responsible for creating the likes of Curtis Blaydes and Cory Sandhagen. This team of well-respected coaches and trainers continuously form solid gameplans for each of their athletes, and I anticipate them to do the same for Magny.
On top of representing an experienced team, Magny boasts a giant frame of 6 foot 3 inches, along with an 80-inch reach. From my knowledge this reach is one of the largest within the 170-pound weight class, giving him a clear-cut advantage in terms of range. In the majority of his UFC outings, he uses this natural advantage in order to repeatedly press his jab into the face of the opposition which allows his long straight right to follow.
The 32-year-old has superb cardio and is fully aware of how to pace himself throughout a three-round fight. Because of this, I expect him to push the pace from the outset and outwork his foe throughout the duration of the bout.
His scheduled opponent, Rocco Martin, has floated under the radar of UFC fans for quite some time now, albeit fighting some dangerous veterans in his promotional tenure. After stepping up to welterweight in impressive fashion and claiming four straight wins, Martin was fed to the legendary Demian Maia. In spite of falling short to the jiu-jitsu ace, the American Top Team talent displayed good defensive grappling and solid striking, knocking Maia down in the final round before ultimately losing by majority decision. Rather than get down in the dumps “Rocco” opted to return quickly just months later. He travelled to Russia to battle countryman Ramazan Emeev.
Martin showed off a more than competent ability to kickbox, mixing in powerful leg kicks as a part of his offence. After three rounds he was awarded the victor and once again earned another win at welterweight. His most formidable asset is jiu-jitsu; as a black belt, and with nine career wins by submission, Martin stands out when on the mat. His crafty chokeholds – which were exhibited during the 2018 win over Jake Matthews – are a key piece of his arsenal, undeniably posing a threat to his June 6 opponent.
Magny is the superior fighter in each and every area: his lengthy strikes aligned with experience against top-flight competitors will come into play at the UFC’s 250th pay-per-view event. His attributes on the ground are adequate enough to shelter any incoming submission threats, while his general striking skillset is should force Martin to fight off the backfoot – certainly a weakness.
Prediction: Neil Magny via unanimous decision.
#2 Aljamain Sterling (18-3) vs. #4 Cory Sandhagen (12-1)
With the UFC announcing Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title, many perpetual contenders have been left gazing from the shadows, questioning if their eventual title shot will come to fruition.
This weekends pay-per-view card vexes sublime talent, with three of the five main card bouts being in the bantamweight division. One of these bouts is Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen, who are two of the best 135-pounders to walk the earth (skillset wise). Standing as an unofficial number one contender matchup, the winner is set to receive a crack at the highly sought after bantamweight crown.
To put it lightly Aljamain Sterling has been on a tear at 135, and is currently surfing a four-fight win streak with notable victories over Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera. A wrestler at heart, Sterling owns some of the best offensive grappling in the division and has combined this well with his extensive knowledge of jiu-jitsu. In his 2018 win over Cody Stamman, Sterling demonstrated his ability to scramble with another high-level wrestler, in what turned out to be an immensely exciting fight. After almost two rounds of action he submitted Stamman by way of Suloev Stretch, a manoeuvre so rare that there is only a handful in the promotion’s history.
Asides from his supremacy in the grappling department, “Funkmaster” is a fantastic striker who has visibly improved over his last couple of fights. On top of being quick, Sterling adopts a ‘touch and go’ strategy which sees him tag the opposition and swiftly move out of range before absorbing any damage. Having a 71-inch reach allows him to do so, and he regularly walks into the Octagon with an advantage in this area. His movement causes opponents to overextend on their punches – Aljo then exploits this error and steps back into range with an overhand punch (or winging hook). Sterling has a great team around him, and I expect them to have fully studied his June 6 rival.
Cory Sandhagen – who like Magny represents Elevation Fight Team – is feasibly the brightest prospect the bantamweight division has to offer, which is a huge statement considering the weight classes depth. Sandhagen sits at the divisions top five after just four bouts in the UFC’s bantamweight division. He also stands at a giant 5 foot 11 inches tall for the division.
“The Sandman” is a versatile striker who enters the pocket by creating tricky angles. This movement, often deemed unorthodox, is something many bantamweights struggle to replicate outside of the practice room, and opens a wide selection of offensive strikes for the Colorado native.
His kicking game is definitely on par with Sterling’s and this will be a battle contested come Saturday night. Both enjoy using combinations to break down their adversary’s, however Sandhagen uses this method of offence more frequent. Although the pair are excellent when throwing combo’s they can just as well sit down on their shots, or fire one power strike at a time; in his last outing versus Raphael Assuncao. Cory applied suffocating pressure on the feet while tagging the Brazilian repeatedly one shot at a time, showcasing great defensive striking in the process. This forced Assuncao to shoot for takedowns.
I predict that Aljamain Sterling will continue to embrace his low frame when competing, permitting him to wave off incoming takedown attempts. He will not have the major edge in reach for this encounter, therefore it will be interesting to see Sterling’s gameplan. Leg kicks will be critical if he wishes to neutralise the crafty motions of his opponent.
As for Sandhagen, the 28-year-old will likely avoid taking the fight to the ground due to Sterling’s impressive wrestling background. His best chance at winning is as many already anticipate – keep the fight on its feet and use his long kicks to wear down the opposition. Sandhagen is constantly evolving as a mixed martial artist thus we can expect a better version of him in the Octagon; his clinch game is shamefully underrated, and it will certainly be on show at UFC 250.
These two represent the best that bantamweight has to offer; meaning spectators can await a thoroughly technical fight with high stakes.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling via split decision.
#5 Raphael Assunção (27-7) vs. #9 Cody Garbrandt (11-3)
Oddly enough, the co-main event this weekend features two fighters each coming off of a handful of losses, yet a win for either man will put them back in the mix within the divisions best.
At one point, Garbrandt was considered by many as the sports best bantamweight. He was an undefeated champion who had ripped the title from divisional GOAT Dominick Cruz in a spectacular five-round affair. In spite of shutting down the greatest bantamweight to ever put on a pair of 4 oz gloves, Garbrandt was unable to continue his title reign. He ended up losing his title to bitter foe TJ Dillashaw just 11 months later in his first defense. He has lost his last three bouts by way of knockout.
Cody Garbrandt’s skills were honed at California’s Team Alpha Male, owned and operated by living legend Uriah Faber. Despite capturing gold with that team, he opted to split his time between Alpha Male and striking specialist Mark Henry’s East Coast team.
There’s a common occurrence with every fight that includes the former UFC champion – biting down on the mouthpiece and swinging. Garbrandt has used this ill-fated tactic in nearly every professional appearance, and in his last three bouts discovered the cons of doing so. Pedro Munhoz further exposed the disadvantages of his strategy, rendering Cody unconscious in the first round.
In his 2016 bout with Thomas Almeida, “No Love” displayed his raw power and ability to box, stay calm in the process; a smart Cody is a dangerous one. Exiting the pocket has always been a difficulty for the young Garbrandt who has proved his love of standing toe-to-toe, modern gladiator style. No matter how pleasing this style is to fans, he’s the ultimate loser at the end of the day. As for defence, we have scarcely witnessed him fight off the back foot, and I expect it to remain that way come Saturday night. Cody likes to lead the dance while unloading violent hooks, which puts the veteran Assuncao in great danger.
Raphael Assuncao is one of the most accomplished bantamweights in the sports history, remaining a consistent threat for nearly a decade. At the tender age of 37, time is not on his side, and because of this, he is raring to return to the win column. Assuncao has the standup to contest with most of bantamweights top 10, albeit his true intentions (for this fight, at least) are to get the fight to the canvas. Despite the fact that Garbrandt is expected to lead the dance, Assuncao can do this just as well, which proved to be pivotal in his matchup with Matthew Lopez. Assuncao battered the legs of Lopez while drawing various reactions with his fists, allowing him to later snatch the knockout win. When not firing first, The Brazilian is equally good with counter punching ability being top-notch.
His work on the ground is my main focal point for this evaluation. Assuncao has a good single-leg takedown, which he executed perfectly in his bantamweight debut against Johnny Eduardo. In addition to his takedowns, Assuncao is well versed in the clinch, always hunting for a better position. When psychically on the ground he uses his, often superior, jiu-jitsu to control the action, occasionally landing ground and pound.
As a whole, Raphael Assuncao is the superior fighter. He boasts better grappling, offensively and defensively, and can actually counter-strike to a high degree, unlike his upcoming antagonist. Even with him being better, I am still predicting Garbrandt to win.
I believe Cody Garbrandt will win through his boxing, combined with a few leg kicks here and there. He’s more athletic and will likely use psychically to his advantage if tested in the grappling facet. Assuncao’s time at the top of the division is over, and Cody’s now patient striking approach will pay dividends for him.
Prediction: Cody Garbrandt via second round TKO.
(C) Amanda Nunes (19-4) vs. Felicia Spencer (8-1)
The Queen of the jungle returns once again, however this time at featherweight. This will be her first defence of the official title since claiming it back at UFC 232.
There are not enough words to describe Nunes’ reign of terror across women’s mixed martial arts. After a knockout loss to Cat Zingano back in 2014, “The Lioness” has been on a tear. She has assembled ten straight wins in frightening fashion. If two belts don’t impress you, her destruction of every bantamweight champion in the promotion’s history will; she is unquestionably the best female to enter the Octagon.
In the main event of UFC 250, Nunes is set to defend her 145-pound strap against a legitimate featherweight contender in Felicia Spencer, who many are giving little to no hope of winning. The fight will be the division’s first title bout in almost 18 months. Nunes has the chance to further cement her legacy – she could become the first UFC athlete to simultaneously defend two belts, an unprecedented feat.
Whenever Nunes competes, the whole world is aware of what is in store. Tenacity, aggression and knockout power are just three of the traits she brings to the cage, and are evident in each outing. Despite mainly being regarded as a striker, her last victory over Germaine De Randemie in December serves as evinced to her relatively unknown wrestling game. Instead of absorbing unnecessary damage on the feet, Nunes took De Randemie to ground where she unveiled robust ground and pound. Her performance may not have been what witnesses were expecting, nevertheless she proved once again why the claims of women’s GOAT belongs to her.
Amanda Nunes’ ability is known worldwide, Felicia Spencer’s, not so much. Following a successful stint in Invicta FC, which saw her capture the promotions featherweight title, Spencer was signed to the UFC. She currently holds a record of 2-1 in the UFC. Despite the inelegant looking record, Spencer has competed with two of the divisions best athletes in Megan Anderson and Cris Cyborg. Cyborg is known to run through each woman she is scheduled to compete with, and was evidently attempting to do the same with Spencer. Spencer, remaining focused, stood toe-to-toe with the former champ for three hard-fought rounds, losing a unanimous decision. The fight itself revealed just how far she was willing to go to reach the top, and that same heart will be needed against Nunes.
The Canadian’s goal is always to tie her opponent up in the clinch, do damage with fierce elbows or punches and then score a takedown. Once on the mat, she searches for practically any position that will authorize huge ground and pound shots. This will be her most basic path to victory versus Nunes, however it will not come easy. The Champion will be applying pressure from the outset through powerful, chopping kicks, mainly targeted toward the legs and body; this will eventually tire and demobilise Spencer if landed efficiently.
I expect the smaller cage will benefit Amanda Nunes during their encounter. She likes to pressure her challenger and keep them backed against the cage, cutting off each and every exit. Nunes’ finish will not come early because of Spencer’s durability, grit and determination, thus I predict a long, drawn-out fight. Both women will have their moments, with Spencer’s lead elbow obtaining enough respect from “The Lioness”.
In this current stage of her career, you cannot bet against Amanda Nunes. She is quite clearly the most dominant women in all of MMA (at the time of writing), and I do not see her losing that title anytime soon. Felicia Spencer will cause more problems than anticipated, however the outcome is indisputable.
Prediction: Amanda Nunes via round 4 TKO.