Grant Emrick Picks for UFC Fight Night

UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs. Holland

December 3, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (273-149-2) – 65% Correct

Main Event Record (21-14) – 60%

Lock of the Week (8-2) – 80%

Dawg of the Week (8-10) – 44%

Prelim Predictions:

WSTRAW: Yazmin Jauregui (9-0) vs. Istela Nunes (6-3, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Yazmin Jauregui

FW: Marcelo Rojo (16-9) vs. Francis Marshall (6-0)

  • Pick: Francis Marshall

LW: Natan Levy (7-1) vs. Genaro Valdez (10-1)

  • Pick: Genaro Valdez

WFLY: #13 Tracy Cortez (10-1) vs. #15 Amanda Ribas (11-3)

  • Pick: Amanda Ribas *DAWG OF THE WEEK*

FW: Darren Elkins (27-10) vs. Jonathan Pearce (13-4)

  • Pick: Jonathan Pearce

LW: Michael Johnson (21-18) vs. Marc Diakiese (16-5)

  • Pick: Marc Diakiese by overwhelming ground control

LW: Clay Guida (37-19) vs. Scott Holtzman (14-5)

  • Pick: Scott Holtzman

WSTRAW: #12 Angela Hill (14-12) vs. #13 Emily Ducote (12-6)

  • Pick: Emily Ducote 

WW: Niko Price (15-5, 2 NC) vs. Phil Rowe (9-3)

  • Pick: Phil Rowe

Main Card Predictions:

MW: Eryk Anders (14-7, 1 NC) vs. Kyle Daukaus (11-3, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Kyle Daukaus (-210)
  • Quick Reasoning: Don’t let the record fool you, Anders has been in many close fights and some of his losses come from quality fighters such as Thiago Santos, Khalil Rountree, and Andre Muniz. A longtime veteran, I think his resume is so-so considering his level of competition, but he hasn’t done much to impress lately while using control time to decide his fights. Daukaus has looked pretty good outside of his recent KO loss to Roman Dolidze, as he gave Kevin Holland a run for his money in the eventual no-contest. His BJJ is solid and his hands are better overall than Anders’, who only lands less than half of his strike attempts and has a negative striking differential. My big red flag is waving on this one against Anders with that stat, especially given his inability to get a finish as a supposed power puncher. I doubt Daukaus suffers the same fate as he did against Dolidze here, but it could be a 50/50 fight. My worry for Daukaus in this one is his 40% striking defense, but other than that he’s statistically a better fighter. If his chin doesn’t get clipped, then Daukaus will take home the victory. 

MW: #8 Jack Hermansson (23-7) vs. Roman Dolidze (11-1)

  • Pick: Jack Hermansson (-195)
  • Quick Reasoning: As fun as it’d be to pick Dolidze here, Hermansson might be too big of a climb on such short notice. We saw Hermansson run an absolute clinic on Chris Curtis in his last bout, using technical striking and movement in and out to chip away a sizable lead throughout three rounds. For those who love volume, Hermansson dishes out over five strikes per minute, but his accuracy for strikes thrown and absorbed is a tad worse than power puncher/wrestler Dolidze’s. Even though Dolidze has looked great against the aforementioned Kyle Daukaus and Phil Hawes, Hermansson has seen many wrestlers of his caliber – Sean Strickland and Marvin Vettori – and has good enough defense to avoid the power and attempts on Dolidze’s short camp. Back Hermansson with a short-notice opponent once more here, most likely by decision. 

HW: #4 Tai Tuivasa (15-4) vs. #5 Sergei Pavlovich (16-1)

  • Pick: Sergei Pavlovich (-215)
  • Quick Reasoning: I was going into this fight thinking Pavlovich for sure early on, but it’s a classic KO artist toss-up. Pavlovich has yet to land a takedown in the UFC, but this is the perfect opportunity to prove he’s worthy of top contender status against a poor ground defense opponent in Tuivasa. But Tuivasa looked great in portions of his bout with Gane, even serving the Frenchman his first knockdown at one point. However, Tai took a lot of damage to the body in that one and it’s hard to gauge if he’s going to look rotten tomatoes certified fresh in his return. Tuivasa can knock out anyone and that’s what gives me initial pause in picking a winner, but Pavlovich moves well and holds a 9” reach advantage. I like the volume of nearly seven strikes per minute from Pavlovich to break down a potentially not 100% Tuivasa, but I wouldn’t recommend any big bets on either fighter. The damage has to boil over at some point, so expect an early finish if anything. 

FLY: #6 Matheus Nicolau (18-3-1) vs. #7 Matt Schnell (16-6, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Matheus Nicolau (-365)
  • Quick Reasoning: That last performance from Schnell might’ve been one of the greatest comebacks of the year so far, but the feel-good return has to end at some point. Even at his reach disadvantage here, I trust Nicolau’s power to put down a chinny Schnell. Nicolau’s very well-rounded in his grappling defense, ability to land takedowns, and striking metrics, all of which are better than Schnell’s. Long story short – barring a devastating finish – Nicolau should be able to put down Schnell before the final bell rings. Schnell is a great fighter, but he’s absorbed so much damage that I’m genuinely worried for his future against top contenders. Who knows how many more fights we’ll get from Matt, so I’ll plug this clip of one of the best rounds/comebacks I’ve seen: Schnell vs. Sumudaerji – Round 2

WW: Bryan Barberena (18-8) vs. (#7 LW) Rafael dos Anjos (31-14)

  • Pick: Rafael dos Anjos (-560) *LOCK OF THE WEEK*
  • Quick Reasoning: I understand it’s a welterweight bout, but it seems like this is a bit too much for Barberena to chew. RDA is at nonsensical odds right now considering he’s moving up a class, but he’s a smart fighter who will more than likely grapple his way to victory. However, the size disadvantage for RDA can make it difficult and allow Barberena to try and brawl like a berzerker for as long as he can. It will be a gritty fight the entire time and it’ll be tough for each guy to put the other out. The chin of RDA worries me a tad after his recent loss to Fiziev at LW, but Barberena is still taking a major jump from Lawler to RDA here. If RDA makes this technical, which I imagine happens, he should come out of this fairly unscathed via decision. He’s better across the board in terms of accuracy and defense, but Barberena’s high volume and power could be the x-factor in this bout. I see RDA getting this one done, but the current odds might be a little out of sync considering a size disadvantage and a recent KO that he suffered. 

WW: #6 Stephen Thompson (16-6-1) vs. Kevin Holland (23-8, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Kevin Holland (-170)
  • Quick Reasoning: After five straight L’s in my main event picks, you might as well fade me until my luck screws you over. I’m taking Holland, so take your bets on Wonderboy (or potentially Wonderman for the near-40-year-old). A pure karate-style kickboxer, Thompson has had a superb career on the feet, but aging at this point isn’t doing him any favors by handing him multiple hand injuries in the past few years. Against striking only fighters, such as Luque and Geoff Neal, Thompson has outclassed the opposition. But, Kevin Holland has done a better job of mixing his game up to finish his opponents on the mat or via vicious strikes. If Holland can squeeze through some early choppy waters with Wonderboy, then I think an opportunity to hit the ground for a finish will present itself. My favorite stat on Thompson is that he’s 0-5 in fights where he’s been taken down in the UFC, including his last two bouts against Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns. On the feet, the metrics are very similar outside of Holland’s better striking accuracy and slightly fewer shots absorbed. It should be a highly competitive fight and make for a good main event, however, I think this will be Holland’s coming-out party as he rises into the WW top ten and Thompson begins his exit from the UFC. I’m giving the slight edge to Holland due to youth, height and reach, and some grappling abilities to keep Wonderboy guessing. 

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