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X-Factor! Some UFC on ESPN 9 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Joanna v Waterson Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This Saturday (May 30, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) journeys to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC on ESPN 9. After three successful events in eight days, UFC looks to return to a more normal schedule, returning to planned weekly shows with Tyron Woodley’s first fight back since losing the title. Before that, however, we have some prospects and action fighters to analyze, so let’s dig into these main card bouts!

Remember: Later in the week, Jesse Holland will be back to preview and predict the biggest fights of the night.

Welterweight: Gabriel Green vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Best Win for Green? Chris Padilla For Rodriguez? Tim Means
Current Streak: Green has won six straight bouts, while Rodriguez made a successful UFC debut back in February
X-Factor: Size difference
How these two match up: While Kevin Holland’s injury is a bummer, this should still be a fun fight.

Green is all about offense. In 11 professional fights, he has yet to require the judges’ assistance in victory or defeat. As one would expect with such a resume, Green pushes the pace hard and throws lots of power shots. His grappling definitely leans more towards jiu-jitsu than wrestling.

Though he has completed a successful debut, Rodriguez is still something of an unknown as well. Tim Means was doing well early with his debuting foe. Then, “D-Rod” found his timing, and his heavy counter punches really took a toll on the veteran quickly, leading to a standing guillotine submission in a hugely impressive debut.

It’s possible that Green is able to use his speed to get inside, land quick punches, and get out ... but not particularly likely. Rodriguez showed off some real sharp counter punches opposite Means, breaking through his historically iron chin. Plus, Green tends to be there to be hit while stalking his foes.

Is there potential for grappling success for the newcomer? His ground skills appear legit, but Green would have to score a takedown or capitalize on a knockdown — both difficult asks for the smaller man. More likely, Rodriguez finds his timing and starts landing heavy shots early in the fight.

Prediction: Rodriguez via knockout

Lightweight: Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver

Best Win for Roberts? Alexander Yakovlev For Weaver? Devin Smyth
Current Streak: Roberts won his last bout, whereas Weaver last won his UFC debut via a brutal DQ
X-Factor: Roberts’ guillotine choke
How these two match up: “Contender Series” prospects throw down!

Roberts debuted with nothing but finishes on his resume and lived up to that reputation with a nasty guillotine in his debut. Since then, he’s picked up two decision wins and suffered one loss. That’s not a bad effort from the 26-year-old, who gained some valuable experience and showed off well-rounded skills in his trips to the Octagon.

Meanwhile, Weaver proved himself a pretty capable bruiser in his “Contender Series” appearance, pushing the pace to outwork his foe. He wasn’t able to show much in his debut, however, as Weaver was out-wrestled by Rodrigo Vargas until Vargas threw a blatantly illegal knee.

Weaver’s full potential is yet unknown, but what we’ve seen so far doesn’t bode well for him. Vargas really threw him off with pretty straight forward pressure, which opened up easy takedowns. Roberts has the striking prowess to back him up as well, and the wrestling to change levels if he chooses.

More likely, Roberts backs his foe up with clean power shots, draws out a takedown attempt, and snatches up the neck.

Prediction: Roberts via submission

Women’s Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifer

Best Win for Dern? Amanda Cooper For Cifer? Polyana Viana
Current Streak: Both women tasted defeat in their last outing
X-Factor: Dern’s weight cut issues
How these two match up: This one could get ugly.

Dern joined the UFC as a hyped prospect thanks to her incredible jiu-jitsu credentials. Unfortunately, the rest of her game has proven ... lacking at best. Still, a solid overhand and world-class jiu-jitsu are a strong base for a 27-year-old to build from, so hope is not yet lost.

As for Cifer, “Shockwave” likes to strike and has finished five of her foes via strikes. She’s not overly technical on the feet, but Cifer does have a solid physicality and power to her shots that helped her push around Jodie Esquibel.

Is there a significant chance that Dern’s inability to chain wrestle or set up her shots effectively bites her once again? Definitely, and Cifers hits hard enough to potentially end things early. That said, the jiu-jitsu gulf between the two is so massive that it’s hard to pick against Dern, as Cifers would need an early stoppage or to fight perfectly for the full 15 mintues.

Long story short: Cifers was last seen trapped beneath the mount of Angela Hill, noted kickboxer, so picking her straight up against an ADCC gold medalist does not seem wise.

Prediction: Dern via submission

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 9 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then remaining main card portion that will air on ESPN/ESPN+ proper at 9 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 9: “Woodley vs. Burns” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 13-7

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