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UFC 275 predictions, preview, and analysis

More than seven months after capturing the 205-pound strap from Polish power puncher Jan Blachowicz, newly-crowned light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira will make his first division title defense against well-traveled veteran slugger Jiri Prochazka. The action headlines the UFC 275 pay-per-view (PPV) event this Sat. night (June 11, 2022) inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

But that’s just the tip of the championship iceberg.

LIVE! Watch UFC 276 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

BLOCKBUSTER CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLEHEADER! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) International Fight Week returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 2, 2022, capped by a stacked card headlined by a blockbuster championship double header. In UFC 276’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, reigning Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, defends his crown against No. 2-ranked contender, Jared Cannonier. In the co-main event, Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, has his sights set on successfully defending his title once again against No. 1-seeded contender, Max Holloway, for the third (and likely final) time.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Women’s pound-for-pound sensation Valentina Shevchenko shoots for her ninth straight win in the 125-pound weight class. Standing in her way is fast-rising flyweight terror Taila Santos, who cut her teeth on Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in summer 2018. In addition, the 115-pound title chase will send one former champion to the back of the line when Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk run it back on the UFC 275 PPV main card.

Who wins and who loses? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Before we get started breaking down the five-fight main card, which also features Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape at flyweight, as well as Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev at 170 pounds, take a closer look at our comprehensive preview and predictions for all the UFC 275 preliminary card action by clicking here and here. The latest UFC 275 odds and a complete betting guide for the “Teixeira vs. Prochazka” PPV event can be located here.

Let’s get to work.

205 lbs.: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira (33-7) vs. Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (28-3-1)

Glover Teixeira has over-performed for an athlete who is past 40 and competing in the most brutal sport on the planet. I can’t help but think of that Katt Williams joke about Roger Clemens but I don’t want that to be misconstrued as some sort of thinly-veiled accusation about performance-enhancing drugs. To be honest, I think Jan Blachowicz completely shit the bed at UFC 267, one of the more pathetic title defenses in recent memory. Prior to that, the heavy-handed Brazilian finished Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith, which doesn’t sound that impressive on paper, but it’s a feat former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was unable to pull off. That rules out any argument that Teixeira had an easy path to the title. He did manage to avoid Aleksandar Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev, two formidable fighters ranked in the Top 5, but they still have some work to do at 205 pounds. The real question heading into the UFC 275 main event is how well Teixeira will fare against a taller, more powerful striker. Based on what happened against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Stockholm, I think G-Tex fans have a right to be concerned.

Prochazka has 28 wins and 25 of them have come by way of knockout. That includes his back-to-back maulings of Dominick Reyes and Volkan Oezdemir, two former light heavyweight title contenders who at separate points in time were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively. His defense isn’t perfect — both “The Devastator” and “No Time” were able to dish out as much damage as they absorbed. I’m sure it helps that Prochazka is only 29 years old and hasn’t faced a younger fighter since his destruction of Karl Albrektsson under RIZIN banner roughly five years back (a span of nine fights). Is Teixeira his toughest test to date? He certainly poses a unique set of challenges and already faced a who’s-who of light heavyweight killers. It would be foolish to count him out regardless of the physical disadvantages. That said, I’m going to pick with my head and not my heart. The Brazilian had an amazing run and earned his spot in Valhalla. I just can’t feel confident about picking an older, slower champion to defeat a bonus-bagging striker when Teixeira has already been knocked out twice under the UFC banner — both times in his athletic prime.

Final prediction: Prochazka def. Teixeira by knockout

125 lbs.: UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (22-3) vs. Taila Santos (19-1)

Now that Amanda Nunes has been knocked from her 135-pound perch, the idea of the invincible champion has waned, sort of like it did when Ronda Rousey was exposed by Holly Holm back in late 2015. A shift in consciousness doesn’t do anything to improve an underdog’s chances which is why Taila Santos remains a +450 underdog against the mighty Valentina Shevchenko. Since dropping down to 125 pounds — a decision that followed her second loss to the aforementioned Nunes — the 34 year-old “Bullet” has looked nearly invincible, racking up eight straight wins and finishing five of those contests by way of knockout or submission. That doesn’t exclude her from the occasional stinker, like the “Fight Night” snoozefest opposite Liz Carmouche back in summer 2019, but the outcome (and pace of the fight) is usually up to Shevchenko. Striking is her bread-and-butter but the former Muay Thai mauler is also a ferocious ground fighter. Just ask newly-crowned bantamweight champion Julianna Pena, who had her arm repossessed at the UFC on FOX 23 event roughly five years back. Without sounding like a fanboy, I don’t think we can find a 125-pound fighter who boasts a more complete package, male or female. “Bullet” is perfect across the board and that includes her championship cardio, mostly because she commits to the martial arts lifestyle and lives every day like she’s in fight camp.

Santos boasts a 19-1 record including four straight inside the Octagon. Sounds great on paper, but I’m not breaking out the party hats for knockout wins over the 2-7 Geisyele Nascimento, or the 0-5 Wellen Taynara Sobrinho. Recylcing cans on the Brazilian regional circuit is great for building up a pro record but does little to tell us about what kind of fighters Santos is (or will be against Shevchenko). For that we look at her 4-1 record for UFC and we can’t overlook the fact that her last two victories came over popular (but mediocre) veterans who are a combined 0-6 over their last three. Remember, we’re not trying to establish Santos as a viable contender — she’s done that well enough on her own. We’re trying to build a case for her dethroning one of the most dominant champions in any weight class. Decision victories over Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson, neither of whom are ranked in the division Top 15, are not exactly the best argument for a bookie-busting upset. Is this a fight Santos can’t win? MMA has taught us better than that. Santos will need to keep the hammer down and hope Shevchenko takes the night off or believes she’s so far up the cards that she mails it in for the championship rounds. I usually lay a finsky on heavy underdogs in case they hit, but I’m thinking in this case maybe I’ll just keep the five bucks and get a Dave’s Double from Wendy’s.

Final prediction: Shevchenko def. Santos by technical knockout

115 lbs.: Zhang “Magnum” Weili (21-3) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4)

One of the greatest (if not THE greatest) fights in the history of women’s MMA will get a sequel but unlike the movies, this part two is about more than just cashing in on the success of part one. The winner of this featured strawweight bout is expected to earn the first crack at newly-crowned division champion Carla Esparza, who went up two-zip on Rose Namajunas just last month. It doesn’t really matter if you agree with how that fight was judged because it’s already in the books and the promotion has moved on, so “Thug Rose” fans will have to wait and see if “Cookie Monster” loses against Zhang Weili or Joanna Jedrzejczyk, depending on how things play out at UFC 275. If we take a look at how the first fight was scored, you can make an argument for either combatant. Weili took home the split decision while Jedrzejczyk went home with a hematoma so large it was nearly signed to the fourth Basket Case movie. Joking aside, the Polish piston out-struck “Magnum” in both significant and total strikes and was more accurate with her punches. So how did she lose? Well, there’s more to championship fights than just statistics. Weili had more control time throughout their 25-minute war and landed the bout’s only takedown.

I don’t expect that to change in their strawweight rematch, though I do wonder how long it will take Jedrzejczyk to find her rhythm. She hasn’t competed since falling to Weili and a two-year layoff will extend her adjustment period, at least in the first two rounds. There’s also the fact that “Magnum” lost her only two fights since getting past Jedrzejczyk but I’m not going crazy over those results. True, Weili got smoked by Namajunas at UFC 261 but she nearly reclaimed the crown in their UFC 268 rematch — which almost half a dozen media outlets scored in favor of Weili. Technically, I’m not sure we’ll see a much different version of the Chinese bruiser this weekend in Singapore. Her offense relies more on power than precision and she excels when the fight gets physical either against the cage or on the ground. She’ll lose — quite convincingly — if she allows Jedrzejczyk to keep this a kickboxing match at range. Weili will have to follow the blueprint laid by Claudia Gadelha and Valentina Shevchenko; namely, setting up takedowns and executing when her opponent takes the bait. She didn’t have a tremendous amount of success at UFC 248 (one for eight) and I don’t believe she’ll do much better here. That has more to do with fight I.Q. than her opponent’s defense, so expect a more patient and composed Jedrzejczyk to rely on her counterpunching and turn this highly-anticipated rematch into a five-round shooting gallery.

Final prediction: Jedrzejczyk def. Weili by unanimous decision

***Note: The Bontorin vs. Kape bout has been scratched following weight-cutting issues from the Brazilian (full details here).

125 lbs.: Rogerio Bontorin (16-4) vs. Manel “Starboy” Kape (17-6)

Manel Kape was poached from RIZIN back in early 2020 because UFC, thanks to the dogged persistence of matchmaker Mick Maynard, was rebuilding the 125-pound weight class. The flyweight division was left for dead when Demetrious Johnson was “traded” to ONE Championship, not long before Henry Cejudo jumped to bantamweight and retired. Kape was one of the few exciting flyweights on the international circuit and his highlight-reel knockouts came with him to the Octagon. “Starboy” is coming off back-to-back finishes over Ode Osbourne and Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Kape also brought with him a tendency to be inconsistent, dropping his first two UFC fights by way of decision. There’s also that recent USADA dustup that may or may not be a violation, depending on who you ask, but those distractions won’t change the Angola import’s skill set or his thirst for violence. Still 28, there’s an opportunity for Kape to insert himself into the 125-pound title picture now that Deiveson Figueiredo — still sour over the creation of an interim strap — is contemplating a move to bantamweight.

Whether or not the promotion is trying to remove any speed bumps on the road to the promised land is unknown, but I can’t help from wondering how a fighter coming off consecutive knockout victories was paired with an opponent who’s dropped three of his last four while also serving a drug-testing suspension for hydrochlorothiazide. Like Kape, the 30 year-old Brazilian was snatched from the international fight circuit at a time when flyweights were few and far between. Unlike “Starboy,” Bontorin was put through the “Contender Series” litmus test, which he passed with flying colors. Back-to-back victories over Magomed Bibulatov and Raulian Paiva would soon follow, bright spots that promptly went dark in the long shadow of his current skid. Bontorin has 11 submission victories in 16 wins and will need to work his wrestling to neutralize Kape, which is easier said than done. Kape is an explosive striker with power not often seen at flyweight and more importantly, a takedown defense of nearly 80 percent. Based on what we’ve seen from both combatants over their last few fights, momentum is everything. Simply put, Kape is on his way up while Bontorin is on his way down. An early finish by the fast-fisted “Starboy” would not surprise me.

Final prediction: Kape def. Bontorin by knockout

170 lbs.: Jack Della Maddalena (11-2) vs. Ramazan “Gorets” Emeev (20-5)

The UFC 275 main card will open with a battle of welterweight prospects at a time when we need them most. I don’t want to speak for anyone else but reigning 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman will be fighting Leon Edwards later this year in a bout that marks the third consecutive rematch for the “Nigerian Nightmare.” The welterweight division has gotten stale over the last few years and no disrespect to “Wonderboy” or “Durinho” but it’s time for some fresh faces. I know it’s a bit of a stretch to call Ramazan Emeev a “prospect” considering he turned 35 last month, a full decade older than Aussie import Jack Della Maddalena, but his 5-2 record has established him as one to watch at 170 pounds. I also don’t think it’s a secret that he’s being used as a measuring stick for Maddalena, who graduated from Dana White’s “Contender Series” with a unanimous decision win over Ange Loosa before toe-tagging Pete Rodriguez at UFC 270 earlier this year. The Scrappy MMA product has 10 finishes in 11 wins — nine by way of knockout — and will need to keep that momentum going if he wants a spot in the official rankings. Shavkat Rakhmonov is currently ranked No. 15 to give you an idea of what’s doing in the bottom half of the 170-pound ladder.

Emeev has yet to score a finish in seven appearances under the UFC banner which is not surprising when you consider he spends most of his fights hunting for takedowns. He’s already got 16 under his belt and will undoubtedly be looking for more against Maddalena, who shucked off three of four against Ange Loosa on “Contender Series.” I wish I had something more complex to say about this fight but we’re looking at a fairly simple formula. “Gorets” is going to try to wrestle his way to the scorecards and the Aussie is going to try to stop him. He will and he won’t, so it’s just a question of how much damage Maddalena can do in between trips to the floor. I know matchmakers want this to be a showcase fight for the 25 year-old dynamo and I do think his future is bright. I also think Emeev will be able to do enough with his wrestling to steal two rounds from the judges’ scorecards because 15 minutes is not a lot of time to work, especially when most of it is spent on your back.

Final prediction: Emeev def. Maddalena by unanimous decision will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by 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+.

For more UFC 275 news and notes click here.