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UFC on ESPN 10 preview, ‘Eye vs Calvillo’ predictions

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UFC 192: Cormier v Gustafsson Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to action with a five-round flyweight headliner between Jessica Eye and Cynthia Calvillo, who collide at the upcoming UFC on ESPN 10 event tomorrow night (Sat., June 13, 2020) inside UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Not to take anything away from Eye or Calvillo, but this is probably not the kind of headliner that’s going to keep fans home on a Saturday night, particularly now that many parts of the world are starting to reopen following a lengthy quarantine. And the middleweight co-main event between Marvin Vettori and Karl Roberson probably isn’t doing them any favors.

Before we deconstruct those two bouts, be sure to check out the complete UFC on ESPN 10 preliminary card breakdown, expertly deconstructed by the jet-setting Patrick Stumberg here and here. Fighter-turned-writer-turned-fighter again, Andrew Richardson, did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the main card right here. For the latest “Eye vs. Calvillo” odds and betting lines click here.

125 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Jessica “Evil” Eye

Record: 15-7, 1 NC | Age: 33 | Betting line: -120
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 11 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 515 of 1401 (37%) | Takedown attempts: 5 of 10 (50%)
Current Ranking: No. 1 | Last fight: Decision win over Viviane Araujo

Cynthia Calvillo

Record: 8-1-1 | Age: 32 | Betting line: +100
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 3 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’4“ | Reach: 64” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 259 of 651 (40%) | Takedown attempts: 5 of 19 (37%)
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Majority draw against Marina Rodriguez

Jessica Eye has four wins in the flyweight division and is currently ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds, making her the second-best fighter in the entire weight class. When you consider her performance against reigning division titleholder, Valentina Shevchenko, you start to understand the wide, gaping chasm that separates “Bullet” from the rest of the field. And that’s not simply because “Evil” was executed in the second stanza, she was outclassed in every discipline from start to finish. Against Cynthia Calvillo, we get a fight that is more evenly matched between a pair of tough, offense-heavy combatants with contrasting backgrounds. Eye was too small to make hay while the sun shined at 135 pounds, whereas Calvillo was often too heavy to make the strawweight mark, resulting in a trip north for the foreseeable future. No question “Evil” will enjoy a size and reach advantage, but we have to be realistic about what that means in the flyweight division between athletes who are not considered to be technical marvels.

The answer? Not much.

In 12 fights for UFC, Eye has gone to the judges a staggering 10 times, and her only finish inside the Octagon came at UFC 180, when Leslie Smith’s ear exploded like the Death Star and forced a doctor’s stoppage. There isn’t really any way to say this without sounding like a dick, but Eye has been wholly unremarkable throughout her UFC career. She is tough, no question, and has the heart of a lion, and the fact that it’s enough to land her at No. 1 in the division should tell you about the depth of competition at 125 pounds. I don't have a ton of accolades for Calvillo, either, an effective wrestler who gets more headlines for her weight-cutting woes than her in-cage performances. Hopefully her new home in the bantamweight class, coupled with her recent transition to American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), showcases her improvements from last December when she settled for a majority draw against Marina Rodriguez. The X-factor in this bout is the extra pair of rounds, something neither fighter is accustomed to, though I’m going to side with Eye because she’s fought much tougher (and much bigger) competition and was battling ex-champions like Miesha Tate long before Calvillo made her professional debut.

Prediction: Eye def. Calvillo by unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Marvin Vettori vs. Karl Roberson

Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori

Record: 14-4-1 | Age: 26 | Betting line: -220
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 298 of 708 (42%) | Takedown attempts: 9 of 20 (45%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Decision win over Andrew Sanchez

Karl “Baby K” Roberson

Record: 9-2 | Age: 29 | Betting line: +180
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 3 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 2 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’1“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 172 of 327 (53%) | Takedown attempts: 4 of 7 (57%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Roman Kopylov

Marvin Vettori and Karl Roberson have secured a co-headlining spot for the UFC on ESPN 10 event because A) this fight card is garbage and B) Vettori and Roberson made headlines with their hotel alteration last month in Jacksonville, when “Baby K” missed weight and got pulled from their fight. Here’s to hoping history does not repeat itself later today in “Sin City. The distance between this bout and what happened in “The Sunshine State” will undoubtedly work in Vettori’s favor, as I’m sure he’s cooled down by now and won’t be rage-fighting with emotions. “The Italian Dream” is still just 26 years old and is probably best known for losing to Israel Adesanya. Actually, a lot of fighters are known for that, but in this case, Vettori nearly upset “The Last Stylebender” at UFC on FOX 29 and was up on the scorecards, according to one judge. Considering what Adesanya has done to the rest of the 185-pound division, his close call against Vettori is relevant here. Particularly because Roberson is also an ex-kickboxer with flashy hands and fleet feet.

Roberson blasted his way into UFC by torching Ryan Spann on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in summer 2017, and followed that up with a slick rear-naked choke over Darren Stewart later that year. Unfortunately, “Baby K” eventually proved that he’s still a work in progress with submission losses to both Cezar Ferreira and Glover Teixeira, the latter of which felt like unnecessary matchmaking at that stage of his MMA career. Roberson got back into the win column with consecutive victories in the second half of 2019, but I’m not breaking out the party hats for wins over Wellington Turman and Roman Kopylov. That’s not to suggest that Vettori — also the winner of two straight — has been lighting the world on fire, though I will mention he beat Ferreira, something Roberson could not do. “Baby K” has the kind of striking that can end a fight at a moment’s notice and I like his evolution from striker to mixed martial artist. That said, he’s not as complete as Vettori and that will become evident tomorrow night in Vegas. I’m expecting a breakout performance from “The Italian Dream” who will likely spend a few minutes working the hands before getting this fight to the floor. A first-round submission would not surprise me.

Prediction: Vettori def. Roberson by submission

Remember, the rest of the UFC on ESPN 10 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 10 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.

For the rest of the UFC on ESPN 10 fight card and line up click here.