We had nothing but finishes in the last card, now the UFC aims to bring the action to a packed arena in San Diego.
The biggest matchup on the card is, of course, the main event between the surging young talent, Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, and the future hall-of-famer Dominick Cruz. A few other newcomers aim to make statements over veterans as well this weekend. Lupita ‘Loopy’ Godinez, who trains in Canada, will take her aim at Angela Hill, while Bruno Silva will look for a HUGE finish over Gerald Meerschaert.
We’ve also got a couple of exciting matchups at flyweight. We’ll see ranked contenders Cynthia Calvillo and Nina Nunes square off, as well as Ode Osbourne and Tyson Nam. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds.
Main Card (4:00 PM PST)
Nina Nunes vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Nunes: +154 Calvillo: -189
Over 2.5: -220 Under 2.5: +171
In this high-profile women’s fight, we’ve got ranked strawweight contender: Nina Nunes. She is moving up to flyweight to take on a ranked veteran in Calvillo. Nunes was looking good with 4 straight wins over contenders Randa Markos, Angela Hill and Claudia Gadelha, but has since fallen to more dangerous contenders Tatiana Suarez and Mackenzie Dern.
Calvillo has had a rough time with the top contenders as well, going 1-3-1 in her last 5, getting finished by Andrea Lee and Andrade and going to decisions with Chookagian, Eye and Rodriguez.
The story of this matchup is Calvillo’s size and grappling. Not only has Nunes struggled with her striking lately, getting picked apart by the ground-specialist Dern, she’s continuously struggled against grapplers at 115 pounds. Calvillo is bigger than her other opponents and pressures HARD constantly with both grappling and striking. Calvillo is either headed to a dominant decision or a statement finish.
Calvillo by Finish
Devin Clark vs. Azamat Murzakanov
Clark: +125 Murzakanov: -155
Over 2.5: +105 Under 2.5: -137
Clark has bounced between light heavyweight and heavyweight recently, but is returning to light heavyweight where he used to be ranked. He’s gone 3-2 in his last 5 with wins over Alonzo Menifield and William Knight, with losses to Cutelaba and Anthony Smith.
He’ll face the newcomer, Murzakanov, who just made his UFC debut against Nchukwi back in March. He may not have the experience, but he’s still undefeated at 11-0.
On paper, the undefeated Murzakanov looks like the right choice, but if you watch the tape, it tells a very different story. I had actually picked his previous opponent, Nchukwi, to win last time. You may think from the result that that was a bad pick, but Nchukwi was up on the cards 2-0 going into the final round. Devin Clark is MUCH better than Nchukwi; he’s got heavy grappling, he’s tough, he’s got great cardio and fairly decent striking. This is a recipe for a Clark finish.
Clark by Finish
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bruno Silva
Meerschaert: +240 Silva: -300
Over 1.5: -105 Under 1.5: -125
Meerschaert may not have the best UFC record at 9-7, but he’s got the CLEAR edge in experience. He’s been dangerous on the ground recently with 3 submission wins in his last 5, but has struggled against heavy strikers, getting knocked out by Chimaev in 17 seconds and Heinisch before that in just over a minute.
Silva doesn’t have the UFC experience, but he’s gone 3-1 so far with 3 HUGE knockouts and a recent decision loss to the future title contender Alex Pereira.
Gerald has proven himself to be dangerous on the ground, especially when the other fighter isn’t as experienced. The problem for him here is that Silva just went 3 rounds against the next title challenger, Alex Pereira. He put up an incredible performance, rocking Pereira on a couple of occasions. Considering how often Gerald has been hit by lesser strikers, you’d have to think that someone like Silva is going to run straight through him and grab an early finish.
Silva by Finish
David Onama vs. Nate Landwehr
Onama: -300 Landwehr: +233
Over 1.5: -155 Under 1.5: +122
If Onama sounds familiar, that’s because he just fought last month! He struggled in his debut against a tough Mason Jones, but has otherwise stayed undefeated with a pro record of 10-1 and fairly dominant wins over his last two opponents.
Landwehr has had a rough UFC journey with a 2-2 record, with two BRUTAL KO losses. Otherwise, he has wins over Ľudovít Klein and Darren Elkins.
A lot of people are writing Landwehr off in this matchup, but, after watching tape, that’s not entirely justified. Landwehr is definitely NOT a technical fighter, but he makes up for it with WILD, heavy strikes and absolutely relentless pressure. That strategy will work against a lot of fighters and could even catch Onama by surprise. In fact, Benitez, who’s also fighting on this card, managed to hit Onama a couple of times using that strategy.
That being said, I think Onama does the same thing he did to Benitez. He’s going to get hit, but he’s going to eventually hit Landwehr with something that’s a little too heavy and he’ll grab a finish. Landwehr, because of his pressure and wild striking, leaves himself open to get hit. That’s something you can’t do against a powerhouse like Onama.
Onama by Finish
Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz
Vera: -234 Cruz: +185
Over 4.5: -193 Under 4.5: +150
In such a tight, talented division, either one of these guys is just a couple steps away from the next title shot. Vera has been rising up the rankings recently with three wins a row now over Davey Grant, Frankie Edgar and Rob Font.
Cruz may now be 37, joining back in the WEC before it merged with the UFC, but he’s still one of the toughest men in the division to fight. Since taking a 4 year hiatus from 2017-2020, he returned with a title loss to Cejudo, then following it up with wins over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz.
Going into this week, I was really leaning towards Cruz thanks to all that experience, movement and skill, but I’m not as convinced anymore. Cruz has his classic awkward movement with great, quick striking. The problem is that people have now been able to slow him down and stop him with kicks. I may not be a fan of Vera, but he’s got the kicks to slow Cruz down and the power and skill to actually finish him. He’s known for starting slow, so Cruz will probably win the first round or two, but after that, Vera will get dirty and aggressive, eventually dropping Cruz and swarming him.
It’s also pretty important to remember the fact that Font, a VERY dangerous and heavy striker, didn’t really do any damage to Vera. If Font couldn’t do it, there’s no way that Cruz can get it done.
Vera by Finish
BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 1:00 PM PST)
Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira
Lipski: -200 Cachoeira: +162
Over 2.5: -172 Under 2.5: +133
Originally scheduled for last week’s card, this matchup was moved here and changed to 130 pounds because of Lipski’s intense weight cut and weight miss. Fan-favourite Lipski joined the UFC back in 2019 with a record of 11-3. She’s fallen to 14-7 since then, but she’s faced some of the top contenders in the division and always puts up a good performance. She’s struggled with top tier opponents like Wood, McCann and Antonina Shevchenko, but she’s improved quite a bit and is always a danger.
Cachoeira had the unreal task of taking on the champ, Shevchenko, in her UFC debut and followed up that submission loss with two more losses to McCann and Luana Carolina. She’s had a 3-1 record since then, but was still submitted by Gillian Robertson at the end of last year.
These ladies are both capable of grabbing highlight reel finishes, but the styles seem to favour Lipski. She’s got some good striking, but she really starts to shine when she gets in a clinch or when she hits the ground. Cachoeira heavily favours her striking and she’s struggled quite a bit with submission artists. Going into last week, I was leaning towards Lipski winning the fight with her cardio and grappling. If she comes into this week at full capacity, she should win. The problem is that weight cut. She came in heavy and STILL had health problems to the point where she was not medically cleared. This isn’t a guarantee, but if you look at the weight-cutting process, I just don’t see how Lipski comes into this fight ready to deal with a dangerous striker.
This is especially true with Cachoeira knowing she can push hard early and Lipski probably won’t catch up. Lipski likely left the weekend at around 135, maybe even 138 or 140 pounds. She STILL has to do another weight cut to get down to 130. Considering the fact that Cachoeira had no issues, she should be the MUCH fresher fighter here. You could go either way with this, but I think Lipski will be affected just a little bit too much, allowing Cachoeira to edge ahead in a decision or possibly even get an early finish.
Cachoeira by FInish
Angela Hill vs. Lupita Godinez
Hill: +260 Godinez: -350
Over 2.5: -400 Under 2.5: +280
Here we’ve got one of the most active women in the UFC, Hill, taking on a DANGEROUS newcomer in ‘Loopy’ Godinez. Although she’s always a dangerous matchup, Hill has struggled recently with a 1-5 record, including THREE split decision losses and a couple of other decision losses. That being said, all of them have been to top contenders like Lemos, Jandiroba, Waterson and Torres.
Godinez has taken the UFC by storm, going 3-2 with fights at both 115 and 125. Her home is here at 115, where she has dominated her opponents with her grappling and her pace.
Hill is one of the toughest fighters on the roster. That being said, it hasn’t helped her win lately, it’s only prevented her from getting finished. She’s been dominated on the ground by her past few opponents, especially because of her smaller size. Godinez is part of that next wave of fighters that’s incredible in striking AND grappling. She’s MUCH bigger than Hill and a VERY talented grappler. I don’t think ‘Loopy’ will be able to grab a finish, but Godinez will more than likely dominate every second of this matchup.
Godinez by Decision
Ode Osbourne vs. Tyson Nam
Osbourne: -260 Nam: +200
Over 2.5: +100 Under 2.5: -125
Ode has already established himself as one of the most dangerous men in the division with multiple 1st Round knockouts in the UFC. Sadly, he hasn’t managed to break into the rankings thanks to a tough loss against Manel Kape, another incredible, young contender
. Nam has been in a similar position since his debut in 2019, losing to Sergio Pettis, Schnell and Kai-Kara France but grabbing knockouts in his other two fights.
Osbourne has already solidified himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the division. He’s well on his way to being in the top 15 and it seemed as though that was the matchup he was going to get here, but ended up with Nam instead. Nam can be dangerous, but he’s got a habit of getting hit a LOT due to his lack of movement and counter-punching style. Ode has too much reach, skill and power for that to work for too long. It seems likely that Osbourne will grab yet another early finish here.
Osbourne by Finish
BLÜ’s Best Bets
Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC San Diego. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.
The Underdog: Charlie Ontiveros at +275
If these two guys had been fighting in the same division their whole careers, I’d have probably gone with the veteran, Benitez. Physically speaking, these two are WILDLY different. Ontiveros fought Kevin Holland at 185 and regularly fights at 170, while Benitez has been fighting at 145. Ontiveros is explosive with HUGE finishing power even at welterweight. Benitez, who gets hit a decent amount, will take a few of those HEAVY, WILD shots from Ontiveros and either get slept or blitzed, forcing the ref to call the fight.
The Underdog: Priscila Cachoeira at +162
I favoured Lipski last week, but the fact that she wasn’t medically cleared, she was overweight AND they moved the bout and changed it to catchweight just for her… that’s a TERRIBLE sign. That will likely mean her cardio and toughness will be compromised. When you’re facing a dangerous striker like Cachoeira, that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s worth the risk at +162 to pick the fighter we know is going to be healthier and fresher.
The Underdog: Devin Clark at +125
Clark is extremely dangerous and very skilled, even fighting at heavyweight. Considering his large size, his striking, pressure. grappling ability and power, Murzakanov is going to have a tough time. Again, remember the fact that he was down 2-0 against Nchukwi, who’s good, but not even close to as good as Clark. At +125, Clark is the best looking underdog of the night.
The Short Run
Godinez + Osbourne + Silva
The Long Run
Quinlan + Godinez + Osbourne + Silva + Vera