Joaquin Buckley (13-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC)
Odds: Buckley (-160) vs. Razak Alhassan (+135)
Fight Overview: This could be one of the most explosive fights we see on this card. Combined, Buckley and Razak Alhassan have won 21 of 24 (87.5%) of their professional fights via knockout. On the flip side, Buckley has been finished in 3 of 4 losses, while the one time Razak Alhassan has been finished came from Khaos Williams in November 2020.
Buckley is a very impressive highlight finisher. If you don’t know this by now, look up his October 2020 fight against Impa Kasanganay. Not only has he knocked out his opponents in 10 of his 13 victories, but Buckley’s gas tank has helped lead him in his past three KO victories, which came in the second or third rounds. Although he has won 3 of his past 4 bouts, his loss to Alessio Di Chirico and a close matchup with Antonio Arroyo – prior to finishing Arroyo in the third round – has not allowed me to carry great confidence in Buckley. It should also be noted that Di Chirico and Arroyo have a combined UFC record to date of 4-9.
In August 2021, Razak Alhassan finally stopped his 3 fight losing streak after knocking out the aforementioned Alessio Di Chirico 17 seconds into the first round. But this is nothing new to Razak Alhassan, as he’s won all of his bouts via first-round finish. He has had a tough stretch of opponents recently, with his three losses coming from fighters with a combined record of 8-4 to date. One thing to keep an eye on in this fight is Razak Alhassan’s takedown defense and ability to get back up. In 2 of his past 3 losses, dealt by Jacob Malkoun and Mounir Lazzez, he has spent over 16 of 30 minutes with his opponent in body control. Assuming Buckley – who has only landed 2 takedowns in the UFC – sticks to standing and throwing, Razak Alhassan should feel comfortable and look to put away his opponent early. However, if this goes past the first round, Razak Alhassan will need to maintain his energy and attempt to get his first victory past the opening round.
Someone will most likely hit the floor by the end of this fight. And with this being a pick-em fight, it seems only right to use Buckley’s weaker chin and some Alessio Di Chirico MMA math to lean towards the underdog in Razak Alhassan.
Emrick’s Pick: Abdul Razak Alhassan via Round 1 KO
Kyle Daukaus (10-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Jamie Pickett (13-6 MMA, 2-2 UFC)
Odds: Daukaus (-270) vs. Pickett (+220)
Fight Overview: This evening’s co-main event features two middleweight prospects who have found themselves vying to break into the top fifteen of the official UFC rankings. However, this fight is listed as a catchweight bout at 195. In their combined 6 UFC fights, not including Daukaus’ no contest with Kevin Holland in October 2021, only one fight has not gone the distance. This fight was a Pickett KO loss to Jordan Wright in May 2021. Although both fighters have yet to score their first UFC finish, 9 of Pickett’s 13 MMA victories have come via KO, while 8 of Daukaus’ 10 victories were by way of submission. Could we see a first UFC finish from one of these fighters Saturday evening?
Kyle Daukaus looked very good in his last fight versus Kevin Holland, and this was before a clash of heads sent a knocked out Holland spiraling into Daukaus’ grasp for a submission. While this fight ended in a questionable – but understandable – no contest, there was no doubt that Daukaus’ grappling was still too much for #14 Holland (8-4 in the UFC). Even though Daukaus landed only 1 of 5 takedowns versus Holland, his constant pressure made it feel clear that he belonged in the octagon with a ranked opponent. Though his record in the UFC seems worrisome at 1-2, Daukaus’ losses came at the hands of Phil Hawes and Brendan Allen, who boast a combined UFC record of 9-3. After facing an elevated level of competition in 3 of Daukaus’ first 4 UFC bouts, it is likely a confident Kyle Daukaus picks up where he left off versus Holland. This could be a great opportunity for Daukaus’ first finish in the UFC, adding on to his submission total in 8 of 10 MMA victories.
While Daukaus has continued to face quality competition since signing with the UFC, Pickett can’t exactly say the same. Now this isn’t a knock against Pickett, he is no slouch, but it does make it tough to gauge his approach to a more talented opponent. Pickett comes into this fight on a win streak of 2, claiming unanimous decisions over Laureano Staropoli and Joseph Holmes. The Starapoli fight came while Starapoli was experiencing a 3 fight losing streak, and Pickett was able to best Holmes during his opponent’s UFC debut. On the bright side for Pickett, he comes in as the fighter with more experience, a better reach by 4 inches, and a well-rounded skillset that includes some good knockout power in his past MMA fights. If Pickett can stuff the takedown attempts of Daukaus and uses his reach advantage wisely, he may have a real opportunity to pull of the upset.
With Pickett taking this fight on short notice, as well as his inexperience with opponents to Daukaus’ caliber, it is hard to go with the underdog. Although Pickett is a well-rounded opponent in his own right, I expect this fight to be dictated by Daukaus’ grappling and wrestling. I believe Pickett has the ability to push this fight to a decision, but there is also a good chance the lack of preparation could leave him experiencing his first submission loss since July 2017.
Emrick’s Pick: Kyle Daukaus via Decision or Submission
All Fight Night Picks:
Mario Bautista (-327)
Jonathan Pearce (-360)
Chad Anheliger (-270)
Diana Belbita (-130)
Chas Skelly (-200)
Jessica-Rose Clark (-190)
David Onama (-150)
Abdul Razak Alhassan (+135)
Nikolas Motta (-175)
Parker Porter (-260)
Kyle Daukaus (-270)
Jamahal Hill (-240)