Following UFC 258 last weekend, this Fight Night between No. 2 heavyweight Curtis Blaydes and No. 4 Derrick Lewis is expected to end in fireworks and leave a lasting impact on the weight class. Here are our picks for that event on Saturday, Feb. 20 in Las Vegas.
All odds via Fanduel Sportsbook as of Feb. 16. Please gamble responsibly.
Last event’s results:
Mike Donius: 5-2, +0.79 units
Kirien Sprecher Katzmarek: 5-2, +0.51 units
Drew Pierce: 2-5 -3.93 units
Sean Lennon: 2-5, -4.07 units
Running totals for 2021:
Mike Donius: 12-9, -1.83 units
Drew Pierce 10-11, -3.01 units
Sean Lennon 9-12, -5.37 units
Kirien Sprecher Katzmarek: 9-12, -8.98 units
Curtis Blaydes (-450) vs. Derrick Lewis (+330)
O/U 3.5 rounds (+150/-210)
Drew’s pick- Blaydes/Under 3.5 rounds
Although Lewis is on a hot streak right now, Blaydes is just going to be too much to handle. He is a huge threat in all aspects of fighting, so look for him to get a win in the first or second round.
Kirien’s pick- Blaydes/Over
Blaydes is the superior fighter but Lewis is playing with house money. I expect Lewis to be aggressive early and for Blaydes to weather the storm to earn a victory via decision.
Mike’s Pick- Blaydes/ Under
While I am surprised to see Blaydes being such an overwhelming favorite, this matchup favors him all day. Blaydes has been able to effortlessly takedown and control nearly every opponent he’s faced, and with Lewis having just over 50% takedown defense, I see this one playing out the same way. I think Blaydes will control him before an eventual ground and pound TKO.
Sean’s Pick- Blaydes/Over
Blaydes game plan is no secret; I think Blaydes will weather any early onslaught to secure multiple takedowns en route to Unanimous Decision Victory.
Ketlen Vieira (-280) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (+220)
Drew’s pick- Vieira
I am a little surprised about how much Vieira is favored here, but I do see her getting the job done. It is probably because of the 11-1 record, but regardless, Kunitskaya is no easy opponent. I see this one going the distance with Vieria on top.
Kirien’ pick - Kunitskaya
I have Vieira on upset alert in this one. Kunitskaya comes out aggressive, but can she maintain it? I think Vieira plays too passive and loses in a close decision.
Mike’s Pick- Vieira
I think Vieira is one of the tougher and well-rounded fighters in the women’s bantamweight division at the moment. I believe she will use her superior grappling early to keep the fight on the ground and earn the victory.
Sean’s Pick - Vieira
Vieira was previously undefeated and at one point considered a challenger to Nunes, but recently suffered her first loss due to a nasty KO at the hands of Aldana. Later she was able to come back with a victory over Eubanks. However, Kunitskaya has also come off a big victory over Stoliarenko, which to me proves that both are capable of coming out on top against some tough competition. I'll give it to Vieira by a finish in the 2nd or 3rd Round.
Charles Rosa (-184) vs. Darrick Minner (+148)
Drew’s pick- Minner
Minner is very new to the UFC and has a lot to prove. Rosa has been in the promotion since 2014 but has a 4-4 record in that span. Plus, he hasn’t won back-to-back bouts in seven years. I have Minner with the underdog victory.
Kirien’s pick- Rosa
Rosa is relentless and Minner is tactical. Which strategy will prevail? I think this will be a bloody match with Rosa emerging victorious.
Mike’s Pick- Rosa
Pretty close matchup here, but I think Rosa will fight it out to the end. Minner is a phenomenal submission artist, with 22 of his 25 wins coming by way of submission, including his last 13 wins. I lean Rosa because he has never been submitted and showed off some really impressive submission defense against Bryce Mitchell.
Sean’s Pick- Rosa
Rosa has come through some tough competition to get to this point. Minner has shown he can stop opponents by submission, but Rosa will be the most seasoned opponent he's taken on thus far. I see Rosa taking advantage of his gas tank and tiring out Minner on route to a submission win.
Aleksei Oleinik (+146) vs. Chris Daukaus (-180)
Drew’s pick- Daukaus
The fact that Oleinik has 74 professional fights is insane, but the 43-year-old is coming off a loss and facing a much younger, fresher opponent in Daukaus. This one will be close, but I can see Daukus outlasting the vet.
Kirien’s pick- Oleinik
The wily veteran Oleinik isn’t going to retire off a loss. I expected him to bounce back from a big win against the younger Daukaus.
Mike’s Pick- Daukaus
I have been thoroughly impressed by Daukaus in his 2 UFC appearances. We've seen him win by knockout and display extreme speed and accuracy, especially for a heavyweight. At 43, I just don’t see Oleinik being able to keep up and believe he will likely be knocked out.
Sean’s Pick- Oleinik
Oleinik had a great year defeating Maurice Green and Fabricio Werdum by a split decision. While he could claim that as his biggest win to date, a loss to Lewis however was not what he wanted to finish 2020 on. Daukus has won his last two fights due to Knockouts, but I feel the veteran will test him. I don’t see a finish, but look for Oleinik to take down his opponent and score ground and pound points and submission attempts en route to a decision.
Phillip Hawes (-110) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (-110)
Drew’s Pick- Hawes
There is a reason why this is a complete toss-up by Vegas’s standards. Both fighters are fresh into the UFC and have a lot to prove on the big stage. In addition, both can strike with fury and grab a submission, and both are at 9-2. I will go with Hawes because he has been slightly more active.
Kirien’s pick- Hawes
Coin flip. Hawes' reach negates Imavov’s height advantage and finds a way to get Imavov to the ground.
Mike’s Pick- Imavov
Phillip Hawes is on fire right now, with five consecutive first-round finishes. Despite this, I am going with Imanov. Imanov is on a 6-fight winning streak of his own and has displayed impressive durability. Additionally, Imanov does well in later rounds, so if he can avoid an early finish then he’ll likely have a clear path to the win.
Sean’s Pick - Imavov
This is a matchup between two hungry fighters trying to build a streak of wins, both have tasted victory inside the octagon and want to get their hands raised again. I see Imavov and Hawes in a war early on, with Imavov seizing victory by submission if he can get Hawes down. Hawes's path to victory is at KO Finish, but that seems highly unlikely here.
Andrei Arlovski (+210) vs. Tom Aspinall (-265)
Drew’s pick- Aspinall
This is yet another case of new vs. old blood. Arlovski is 42 and hanging on to his passion by a thread. Despite winning his last two fights, he's also lost nine of his last 15. It is admirable to still get in the Octagon in his position, but I am going with Aspinall as the fresher, better fighter in this one.
Kirien’s pick - Arlovski
Aspinall has Arlovski beat in height, weight, reach and he is younger. For some reason though, I am riding the old vets as underdogs this weekend. Hopefully, a few of them hit.
Mike’s Pick- Aspinall
Tom Aspinall is a very exciting young Heavyweight prospect, and I see him confirming the hype that surrounds him on Saturday. Although Aspinall has yet to face top-caliber Heavyweights and Arlovski has won two straight, I believe Aspinall’s speed and momentum will be too much.
Sean’s Pick - Aspinall
It’s hard to count out Arlovski, who has made substantial progress, even late in his career. Aspinall hails from the UK has had success early on in 2020 as he went 2-0 in both finishes. Although Pitbull is no rollover, I don’t see him posing much of a threat to Aspinall at this point. Aspinall may use this fight to work on his endurance if he builds a lead in the first 2 rounds. Look for him to use the last round to show off his yet-to-be-seen ground game.