The Octagon’s oldest champion and one of its most dominant defend their respective belts this Saturday (June 11, 2022) when Glover Teixeira and Valentina Shevchenko square off with Jiri Prochazka and Taila Santos inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. UFC 275’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card will also feature an excellent rematch between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, as well as top prospect Jack Della Maddalena’s toughest test to date against Ramazan Emeev.
Four UFC 275 “Prelims” undercard bouts still remain to be dissected (check out the first batch here), so get your gloves on, grab your scalpel and let’s get cutting ...
185 lbs.: Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun
Brendan Allen (18-5) followed his successful Contender Series appearance by winning five of his first six Octagon appearances, the lone loss coming to the surging Sean Strickland. Though a short-notice upset defeat to Chris Curtis slowed his momentum, he returned to the win column in Feb. 2022 with a dominant submission finish of Sam Alvey.
His 15 professional finishes include 10 by submission.
The Octagon debut for Jacob Malkoun (6-1) debut proved brief and disastrous, as Phil Hawes knocked him stiff just 18 seconds into the first round. Undeterred, he went on to prove himself a legitimate addition to UFC’s roster, beating Abdul Razak Alhassan and A.J. Dobson.
He gives up five inches of height and two inches of reach to “All In.”
He may be 2-1 in the Octagon, but it’s fair to say that Malkoun hasn’t lived up to the potential his pedigree promised. His boxing’s been a non-factor of late and he’s been content to use that ADCC-caliber ground game to hold down opponents instead of chasing submissions or ground-and-pound. While it’s been sufficient against one-dimensional fighters like Alhassan and underdeveloped ones like Dobson, it doesn’t seem like the sort of approach that’ll carry him past the well-rounded and experienced Allen.
Those height and reach advantages should pay dividends for Allen considering the issues Malkoun had with Dobson’s length, and “All In” has historically been difficult to hold down. Not saying another Malkoun grind is out of the question, but it seems a fair bit more likely that Allen controls the striking with his reach and at least keeps pace with Malkoun’s wrestling en route to victory.
Prediction: Allen via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Seung Woo Choi vs. Josh Culibao
Seung Woo Choi (10-4) rebounded from a winless (0-2) UFC start with three consecutive wins, among them an upset of Youssef Zalal and a 97-second knockout of Julian Erosa that earned him “Performance of the Night.” He looked poised to make it four straight after dropping Alex Caceres early, but ultimately succumbed to “Bruce Leroy’s” submission attack late in the second round.
“Sting” stands two inches taller than Josh Culibao (9-1-1) and boasts a 1.5-inch reach advantage.
“Kuya’s” short-notice UFC debut proved brave, but ill-advised, resulting in a submission loss to Jalin Turner in Auckland. Things have worked out a bit better for him in his proper weight class, fighting Charles Jourdain to a highly entertaining draw and out-classing Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in successive efforts.
He fights for the first time in more than one year.
The Caceres fight showed that while Choi has clearly improved since first joining the promotion, he’s still got some kinks to iron out. He headhunts too much, lacks variety in his combinations, and his submission defense still isn’t quite up to snuff.
Luckily for him, I’m not convinced that Culibao’s equipped to exploit all that. Those height and reach disadvantages look like real problems for him on the feet, and the fact that he couldn’t land a single takedown on seven attempts against a striking specialist in Jourdain suggests that he can’t take it to the ground if the stand up stops going his way. In the ende, Choi out-works him in a fun 15-minute stand up battle.
Prediction: Choi via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Maheshate vs. Steve Garcia
Maheshate (6-1) — one of several Chinese standouts to appear on the most recent Contender Series season finale — entered the main event as a massive underdog to unbeaten Achilles Estremadura. Though he suffered an early knockdown, he proceeded to take over the fight en route to claiming both a decision win and a UFC contract.
He faces a 3.5-inch reach disadvantage.
Missing the Bantamweight limit on Contender Series kept Steve Garcia (12-4) from claiming a UFC contract, and his subsequent LFA debut saw him miss the Featherweight limit as well. He’s now settled at 155 pounds, where he’s dropped a decision to Luis Pena and battered Charlie Ontiveros into submission.
All nine of his stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
I won’t pretend that Garcia has set the world ablaze during his Octagon tenure. Indeed, he failed to produce a single memorable moment in his loss to Pena and nearly became the first UFC fighter ever stopped via axe kick in the Ontiveros fight. Still, I think he’s got the right skillset here. Beyond being far more experienced than Maheshate, his equal height, superior reach and aggression should keep the former from finding his usual long-range groove. He also showed off some wrestling skills against Ontiveros that, though not particularly elite, are likely more than Maheshate’s dealt with during his brief career.
Maheshate’s best weapons here are his sharp counters, which Garcia proved vulnerable to against Ontiveros. Garcia managed to survive all of those shots, though, and Maheshate isn’t that heavy a puncher. In short, expect Garcia to bully him and mix in takedowns for a wide decision win.
Prediction: Garcia via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews
Four consecutive knockouts earned Andre Fialho (16-4) a UFC debut against Michel Pereira, who pieced him up at a distance to secure a unanimous decision victory. Fialho’s been quite a bit more successful since, stopping Miguel Baeza and Cameron VanCamp in bonus-winning fashion to up his career knockout total to 13.
He fights for the third time in less than two months.
The return to Welterweight for Jake Matthews (17-5) paid immediate dividends, resulting in an impressive 6-1 run. This led to a clash with fellow rising contender Sean Brady, who handed Matthews the third submission defeat of his career.
“The Celtic Kid” gives up one inch of height and reach to Fialho.
While both men do have well-rounded skillsets, this one boils down to where it takes place. Matthews’ top game is as fearsome as ever, and if there’s one question Fialho hasn’t yet answered in his three Octagon appearances, it’s how he deals with high-level takedowns and works off of his back. Conversely, Fialho’s sheer power gives him an edge on the feet that Matthews’ steady technical improvement can’t overcome.
I’m leaning toward Fialho. We haven’t seen much of his grappling lately, but he did shut down Stefan Sekulic’s wrestling four fights back, and Matthews showed a vulnerability to left hooks in the Brady fight that Fialho is more than equipped to exploit. When the dust settles, he clips Matthews in the first few minutes.
Prediction: Fialho via first round knockout
UFC 275 boasts some can’t-miss match ups this weekend, so be sure you don’t. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 83-39
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 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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