The greatest woman to ever lace up the four-ounce gloves looks to become the second UFC double champion to defend both titles this Saturday (May 6, 2020) when Amanda Nunes takes on Featherweight contender Felicia Spencer in UFC 250’s ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) main event. UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, will also host two top-notch Bantamweight clashes pitting Cody Garbrandt against Raphael Assuncao and Aljamain Sterling against Cory Sandhagen, as well as the return of Neil Magny against Rocco Martin.
125 lbs.: Jussier Formiga vs. Alex Perez
Jussier Formiga (23-7) — the one-time Flyweight king — went 8-2 from 2014 to 2019, losing only by close decision and beating the likes of Dustin Ortiz and Deiveson Figueiredo along the way. He presently finds himself in the first losing streak of his career courtesy of Joseph Benavidez and Brandon Moreno.
He has scored 10 submission wins in the paid ranks, eight of them rear-naked chokes.
Alex Perez (23-5) joined UFC on the heels of a dominant “Contender Series” finish of Kevin Gray, which he followed up with three consecutive Octagon victories. The aforementioned Benavidez snapped his eight-fight win streak, but he’s since decisioned Mark De La Rosa and locked up a bonus-winning arm triangle on Jordan Espinosa.
Though taller by one inch, he faces a 1.5-inch reach disadvantage.
I’m torn here; we’ve seen Formiga outclass the “scramble-happy wrestle-boxer” archetype so many times during his UFC tenure, but he struggled to implement his vaunted back control against Moreno. Then again, Askar Askarov has similar issues, so that may be less a Formiga issue and more Moreno being far better than I give him credit for.
Still, Formiga’s 35 years old, and there’s concern over whether he can still keep up with younger, fresher fighters like Perez. It’s a coin-flip fight that I’ve dithered on for far too long, so I’ll just bite the bullet and say Perez outworks him to a contentious decision.
Prediction: Perez via split decision
205 lbs.: Alonzo Menifield vs. Devin Clark
After an eye injury to his opponent ended his first “Contender Series” bout early, Alonzo Menifield (9-0) returned a year later to knock out Dashawn Boatwright in eight seconds and secure a contract in the process. He’s been similarly destructive in the Octagon, finishing Vinicius Moreira and Paul Craig in a round apiece to increase his career knockouts to seven.
This will be his first fight in nearly one year.
Devin Clark (11-4) has alternated losses and wins in UFC since starting his Octagon run 2-1, falling to division standouts Jan Blachowicz, Aleksandar Rakic, and Ryan Spann. His last fight in February saw him hand late replacement Dequan Townsend his second loss in under three weeks. He’ll give up an inch of reach on fight night.
I’ll admit that I’m harder on Clark than I should be; save for his disastrous debut against Alex Nicholson, he’s only lost to genuinely excellent fighters in the Octagon, and he certainly has the skills to play spoiler here. “Brown Bear” is far more well-rounded than either Moreira or Craig and Menifield won’t have the massive edge in physicality he enjoyed against those two.
Loath as I am to pick a guy who hasn’t won two straight since 2017, I’m leaning toward Clark. Menifield’s striking remains rough and he let Craig get in on his hips more than once. Unless Menifield can catch him with an early right hand, Clark racks up takedowns for a decision win.
Prediction: Clark via unanimous decision
150 lbs.: Herbert Burns vs. Evan Dunham
Herbert Burns (10-2) earned his third consecutive victory and a UFC contract by tapping veteran Darrick Minner on “Contender Series,” setting up a January debut against Nate Landwehr. After a half-round of frantic action, “The Blaze” leveled Landwehr with a clinch knee to secure a “Performance of the Night” bonus.
Six of his seven professional submissions have come in the first round.
Evan Dunham (18-8-1) rebounded from a three-fight skid to put together a five-fight unbeaten streak, including a “Fight of the Night” decision over Rick Glenn. He’s yet to taste victory since, suffering knockout losses to Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Francisco Trinaldo.
This will be his first fight since 2018.
Twice in a row I’ve picked Dunham to win on the strength of his grappling and twice in a row he’s been unexpectedly mulched by body shots. I am picking him again here, so apologies to his liver in advance.
Neither Burns’ striking nor his wrestling have caught up with his venomous submission game; in particular, he’s worryingly easy to hit, which is a dangerous shortcoming to have against a relentless volume striker like Dunham. Burns will need to pull guard if he wants it on the ground, and Dunham, who’s never been submitted (aside from a Donald Cerrone triangle that involved a lot of damaging strikes beforehand), is good enough to survive from top position. A competitive first round gives way to a mauling as the bigger, stronger Dunham dominates on the feet.
Prediction: Dunham via unanimous decision
Four more UFC 250 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including an unbeaten Featherweight prospect and what should be a Middleweight banger between Ian Heinisch and Gerald Meerschaert. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 250 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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