MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC 291.
UFC 291 takes place Saturday at Delta Center in Salt Lake City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Last event’s results: 3-3
Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2023: 68-55-4
Welcome to MMA Junkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.
With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by FanDuel.com.
If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.
So, without further ado…
Kevin Holland (-148) vs. Michael Chiesa (+120)
Tony Ferguson (+310) vs. Bobby Green (-420)
Derrick Lewis (+180) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-225)
Jan Blachowicz (-115) vs. Alex Pereira (-105)
The co-main event in Utah features a battle between former champions, Jan Blachowicz and Alex Pereira.
Although I initially didn’t like his matchup for Pereira, I believe it’s a much more winnable fight for him after watching the tape.
Blachowicz definitely has the edge in experience and on the ground, but he’s not typically one to enforce grappling fights given that most of his takedowns come in the form of counters by nature. Add in the fact that the former light heavyweight champion also tends to struggle with his stamina when forced to grapple, and I suspect that Blachowicz will have to fight against type if he means to exercise his on-paper advantages in this spot.
Otherwise, on the feet – Blachowicz will be left to deal with a dangerous striker who also knows how to use his jab.
Already submitted my #UFC287 breakdown for this week, but couldn’t help throw this video together after hearing @TeddyAtlasReal talk about the jabbing dynamic between Alex Pereira and Israel Adesanya.
Tacked on George Foreman-Gullick to help illustrate his Pereira comparisons: pic.twitter.com/Clws9Re94N
— Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) April 4, 2023
Blachowicz’s kick defense should serve him well in his standing efforts, but I ultimately believe that his cage positioning and propensity to blitz in response to pressure will cost him this Saturday.
I’ll take a flier on Pereira to survive the best of Blachowicz in Round 1 in order to knock him out in Round 2.