Impeccable technique meets unfathomable power this Saturday (Aug. 7, 2021) in Houston, Texas, when unbeaten Ciryl Gane faces knockout machine Derrick Lewis for the interim Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title. UFC 265 will also see Jose Aldo look to continue his Bantamweight resurgence against iron-tough Pedro Munhoz, Michael Chiesa trade leather with Vicente Luque, and Tecia Torres face former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) castmate Angela Hill.
UFC 265’s eight “Prelims” undercard bouts are spit evenly between ESPN+ and ESPN2; let’s have a gander at the first batch:
125 lbs.: Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne
Angola’s Manel Kape (15-6) punched his ticket to the Octagon with three consecutive knockouts under the Rizin banner, including an upset of Kai Asakura to claim the promotion’s Bantamweight title. He’s yet to find similar success in UFC, dropping narrow decisions to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau in his first two appearances.
His 14 professional finishes include nine via (technical) knockout.
Ode Osbourne (9-3) earned both his fourth consecutive first-round finish and a UFC contract by tapping Armando Villareal on “Contender Series,” only to suffer a submission loss to Brian Kelleher in his Octagon debut. A year-long layoff followed, after which “The Jamaican Sensation” needed just 26 seconds to smash Jerome Rivera and enter UFC’s win column.
He’ll have two inches of height and four inches of reach on Kape.
I genuinely think both Kape and Osbourne have considerable potential, and the clash of styles should make for an excellent high-speed slugfest. As good as Osbourne is, however, this comes down to Kape’s willingness to let his hands go. I thought he lost to Pantoja and beat Nicolau, but he was overly passive in both fights and could have seemingly secured easy decisions by simply letting his hands go.
If he’s learned his lesson, he wins this comfortably. For all his promise, Osbourne remains unproven against top-tier opposition, while Kape’s fought killer after killer during his career and held his own against two of UFC’s best Flyweights. Kape’s experience carries him to victory in a fast-paced stand up war.
Prediction: Kape via second round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Miles Johns vs. Anderson dos Santos
A rescheduled fight from last month, repackaged for your convenience below ...
Seven months after beating current top prospect Adrian Yanez for the LFA Bantamweight belt, Miles Johns (11-1) used a steady diet of takedowns to beat Richie Santiago on “Contender Series” and earn himself a UFC contract. He’s now 2-1 in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, including a bonus-winning knockout of Kevin Natividad in his most recent effort.
“Chapo” is the taller man by two inches, though he gives up that same amount of reach.
The three-fight win streak for Anderson dos Santos (21-8) came to an end upon his Octagon arrival, dropping a decision to Nad Narimani on a two-week turnaround and subsequently fell short against Andre Ewell. He finally made it into the UFC win column 17 months later, choking out the favored Martin Day in Nov. 2020.
“Berinja” has ended 17 professional fights inside the distance, 12 of them by submission.
While I won’t pretend that Johns has wowed me in his three-fight UFC tenure, this definitely looks winnable. Dos Santos’ upright, hook-heavy striking attack leaves him vulnerable to the same piston jab Johns used to neutralize Natividad, and “Chapo’s” rock-solid wrestling ensures that he’ll set the terms of any and all ground engagements.
Dos Santos’ impressive ground attack does pose a legitimate threat, but the aforementioned wrestling discrepancy makes it unlikely that he’ll get a chance to use it. So long as Johns doesn’t play the same passive game that got him stopped by Bautista, he potshots his way to a wide decision win.
Prediction: Johns via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Victoria Leonardo vs. Melissa Gatto
Despite entering “Contender Series” as a decent-sized underdog against striking standout Chelsea Hackett, Victoria Leonardo (9-3) used an aggressive grappling attack to pound out the Aussie and claim a UFC contract. The next prospect proved a tougher out, as Manon Fiorot stopped her standing in both women’s UFC debut.
“Fury” has scored four professional wins by submission.
After hitting a 2-0-2 stretch, Melissa Gatto (6-0-2) signed on to face future UFC standout Karol Rosa in Cris Cyborg’s promotion. While she surrendered a couple of takedowns in the early going, she wrapped up a triangle kimura in transition to claim a first-round submission victory.
This will be her first fight in nearly three years after withdrawing from three scheduled Octagon debuts.
Melissa Gatto is 25 years old and hasn’t fought since 2018; therefore, odds are that her style advanced into something totally unrecognizable during her time away. For her sake, that better be the case, as Leonardo handily beats the last incarnation of Gatto to enter the cage. Though a capable submission artist, 2018’s Gatto has no answer for Leonardo’s wrestling and seems out-gunned on the feet as well.
I’ve seen more than one young up-and-comer return from a long layoff as a completely new fighter, including other Brazilians in Amanda Lemos and Amanda Ribas. Since I know nothing about what improvements Gatto’s made, however, I can only work with what I’ve seen. In short, Leonardo grinds out a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Leonardo via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Jamey Simmons vs. Johnny Munoz Jr.
A rescheduled tussle from April; here’s the breakdown from back then with some slight tweaks ...
Jamey Simmons (7-3) — who’d won five of six coming in — made a three-week turnaround to face Giga Chikadze on short notice in Nov. 2020. Though bold, the move failed to pay off, as Chikadze put him away with a head kick and ground-and-pound late in the first round (watch highlights).
He’s the shorter man by three inches.
After nearly a year on the sidelines, Johnny Munoz Jr. (10-1) stepped up to fight Nate Maness on short notice in Aug. 2020. Though he managed to dominate the opening round on the mat, he ultimately ran out of steam, allowing Maness to turn the tables and walk away with the decision.
His professional finishes are split 6/2 between submissions and (technical) knockouts.
Simmons’ first UFC fight pitted him against a significantly larger and exponentially more seasoned striker. His second pits him against a world-class submission artist with some wrestling chops of his own.
Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail.
To Simmons’ credit, he’s fighting someone closer to his size this time and has a shot if Munoz’s cardio issues flair up again. Unfortunately for him, it’s unlikely this even lasts long enough for that to come up. In the end, Munoz wraps up his neck in the opening round.
Prediction: Munoz via first round submission
Four more UFC 265 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a clash of Bantamweight finishers and an intriguing Lightweight tilt pitting Bobby Green against fast-rising Rafael Fiziev. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 265 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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