UFC 275 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IJune 9, 2022

UFC 275 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 08: UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Texeira (2L) of Brazil and Jiri Prochazka (2R) of the Czech Republic face off ahead of their title bout as UFC Senior Vice President Kevin Chang (C) looks on during UFC 275 Media Day at Mandarin Oriental on June 08, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
    Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

    UFC 275 will go down Sunday in Singapore—that's Saturday night for those of us in North America. It will be the first UFC pay-per-view in Southeast Asia, and the promotion has put together a nice card.

    It's headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between ageless champion Glover Teixeira and challenger Jiri Prochazka. It will mark the 42-year-old Teixeira's first title defense after he won the belt with a submission against Jan Blachowicz last year. The 29-year-old Prochazka will compete for a UFC title for the first time after scoring highlight-reel knockouts in his first two bouts in the Octagon, and many more before he signed with the promotion.

    Co-headlining honors will also go to a title fight, as dominant flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will look for a ridiculous seventh title defense against Brazilian knockout artist Taila Santos.

    The card also features a high-stakes rematch between former strawweight champions Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Weili won the pair's first fight, which is regarded as among the best in UFC history, via a split decision. We'll see if the three-round sequel lives up to the original, but the stakes couldn't be higher, as the winner has been promised a crack at new strawweight queen Carla Esparza.

    The rest of the main card is rounded out, finally, with a flyweight bout between Manel Kape and Rogerio Bontorin and a welterweight contest between Ramazan Emeev and Jack Della Maddalena—two excellent matchups on paper.

    Keep scrolling to see who the B/R combat sports squad is picking in the five fights that compose the main card.

Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 01: (R-L) Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic reacts after his knockout of Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    Tom Taylor: Teixeira's late-career title win was incredible to behold, but I suspect his fairy tale will come to a grim conclusion. I'll keep it brief. To avoid being knocked out by Prochazka, arguably the most venomous finisher in the UFC, the champion will need to be absolutely perfect for 25 minutes. At 42 years old, I just don't think he can walk that tightrope.

    Prochazka by KO, Rd. 1

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: A 42-year-old champion is a great story, particularly for the buzz it provided fans of a certain age. But there's a reason it doesn't happen every day. And when you match up Teixeira with Prochazka, it looks a lot less like a fairy tale and a lot more like a succession. A brutal one.

    Prochazka by TKO, Rd. 2

    Scott Harris: Tom and Lyle are ready to throw dirt on the Teixeira era. Like when the Kansas City Royals won the World Series. Hey, that was fun! Now for the real fighters to come back. But I'm not jumping off the boat just yet. I love the way Prochazka fights, but he's quite the berserker in there. Teixeira will do that he does: weather the storm and inflict damage in slow motion. Sorry, but we've got an "and still" situation.

    Teixeira by unanimous decision

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos

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    JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - APRIL 24: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan reacts after defeating Jessica Andrade of Brazil in their UFC women's flyweight championship bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Taylor: Shevchenko might be the most dominant champion in the UFC, but her reign is in jeopardy, as a new crop of contenders have arrived in the flyweight division. Santos is the first of this generation to get a title shot and perhaps the most credible threat to Shevchenko of the bunch. Still, I think Shevchenko is good enough at striking to avoid her challenger's power, and she should be able to control the action with her takedowns and grappling if things get dicey on the feet.

    Shevchenko by unanimous decision

    Fitzsimmons: Now that Amanda Nunes has been toppled, Shevchenko steps into her space among the sport's most dominant champions. And while I won't argue that Santos and her generation of challengers may indeed be legitimate, I will argue against the idea that she's got a real shot. Survive five rounds? Maybe. Win the fight? Not so much.

    Shevchenko by unanimous decision

    Harris: Shevchenko may not be an ungodly -1000 favorite, as she was at one or two points in her previous career. The line is a relatively slim -630, per DraftKings. That's giving Santos only a modicum of respect, but it's more than Shevchenko will give her.

    Shevchenko by unanimous decision

Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk II

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    SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 08: Zhang Weili (L) of China and Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland shake hands ahead of their strawweight bout during UFC 275 Media Day at Mandarin Oriental on June 08, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
    Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

    Taylor: Weili won her first fight with Jedrzejczyk by split decision, and she expects a knockout in their rematch. That's possible, but I expect another close fight, and Jedrzejczyk, reinvigorated after a two-year hiatus, will win it. Maybe that's wishful thinking—a close Jedrzejczyk victory would almost guarantee a trilogy bout—but that's my pick. One way or the other, I can't wait to watch it.

    Jedrzejczyk by unanimous decision

    Fitzsimmons: I'm with Tom. I'd love to see Jedrzejczyk win the kind of fight that'd give us a popular demand trilogy. But the two-plus years of inactivity scare me a bit. Neither fighter has won since they met, but Weili has been more active, and I think that'll help. She'll set the pace, and while I don't expect a KO, I do think she'll earn a clear verdict.

    Weili by unanimous decision

    Harris: I'm torn! But ring rust is just too real in my mind. Not everyone gets it, but a lot of people do. I'm sure Jedrzejczyk will look sharp, but Weili will muscle her around enough to pocket two rounds before Jedrzejczyk finds her stride and pours it on in the last to make it another close one.

    Weili by unanimous decision

Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 04: (L-R) Manel Kape of Angola punches Zhalgas Zhumagulov of Kazakhstan in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 04, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

    Taylor: Kape's UFC run got off to a bumpy start, with a pair of decision losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau, but he's turned things around with a pair of highlight-reel knockouts over Ode Osbourne and Zhalgas Zhumagulov. He is once again looking like the fighter he was in Japan's Rizin Fighting Federation, wherein he won the bantamweight title with a knockout win over Kai Asakura. That alone is enough for me to pick him over Bontorin, who is winless in his last four fights.

    Kape by KO, Rd. 2

    Fitzsimmons: When most other things are equal, momentum matters. So the mere fact that Kape has won two straight by KO over quality opponents Osbourne and Zhumagulov while Bontorin is winless in four fights makes this one academic. Call it three straight KOs one way and five straight non-wins the other.

    Kape by KO, Rd. 1

    Harris: Tom and Lyle have it just right. This is a showcase fight for a potential showcase fighter in the thunder-fisted Kape.

    Kape by TKO, Rd. 2

Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev

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    ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: (R-L) Jack Della Maddalena of Australia punches Pete Rodriguez in their welterweight fight during the UFC 270 event at Honda Center on January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
    Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

    Taylor: Emeev entered the UFC with a lot of hype and looked like he could be a future welterweight contender when he won his first three bouts. But the Russian is 2-2 in his last four, including a split-decision loss to Danny Roberts—hardly a world beater—in his last appearance. Della Maddalena, meanwhile, has tons of momentum on his side. He's won 11 in a row, including 10 by stoppage. That includes a stunning knockout win over Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut in January. Give me the fighter who's winning all his bouts impressively over the one who's winning some by the skin of his teeth. All the Aussie needs to do is stay off his back. That shouldn't be a problem against someone from Dagestan, right?

    Della Maddalena by KO, Rd. 1

    Fitzsimmons: You know that thing I mentioned about momentum? It fits here, too. Della Maddalena lost his first two fights as a pro and hasn't lost since. And because "since" in this case means 11 fights over nearly six years, it's about as impressive as it gets. I'll concede that the Dagestani thing scares me a little bit. But Khabib and Co. didn't lose to fighters like Roberts.

    Della Maddalena by KO, Rd. 2

    Harris: Della Maddalena became a minor sensation among MMA's hardcore Twitter fanbase after flattening Rodriguez. But I'm giving in to the Dagestani siren song and sounding the upset alarms. He'll find a way to make it slow and gross and unappealing, and then he will win.

    Emeev by split decision