UFC 270 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IIJanuary 20, 2022

UFC 270 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks

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    UFC 270, the promotion's first pay-per-view of 2022, goes down Saturday in Anaheim, California, and it feels like a big one.

    That's probably because the card will be topped by a heavyweight title fight between undisputed champ Francis Ngannou and unbeaten interim champion Ciryl Gane. It's a showdown between the hardest puncher in MMA and the slickest striker in the heavyweight division. They also happen to be estranged former training partners, which adds a layer of drama to an already riveting matchup.

    That's not all UFC 270 has to offer. In the evening's co-main event, flyweight champion Brandon Moreno will attempt to defend his belt against the division's former king, Deiveson Figueiredo. It'll be the third time the two flyweights have met. Their first fight ended with a draw, and Moreno won the second by third-round submission.

    Beyond those two title fights, the UFC 270 main card is a little sparse, but it could produce some great action. Before Moreno and Figueiredo run it back, Brazilian whirlwind Michel Pereira will take on streaking knockout artist Andre Fialho at welterweight, and Cody Stamann will battle Said Nurmagomedov at bantamweight.

    From the early vantage point, it looks like the kind of card that could be full of surprises, but the B/R combat sports crew has you covered for pre-fight predictions.

    Keep scrolling to see who we're picking on the UFC 270 main card.

Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane

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    Scott Harris: Could this really be Francis Ngannou's last time in the Octagon? It's a fascinating subplot, and one that deserves its own column. But in the meantime, he has the toughest test of his career in Gane. Gane is getting play for his well-rounded, intelligent game and rightly so, but Ngannou is more than the slugger he's made out to be. His grappling and takedown defense were on full display in his UFC 260 win over Stipe Miocic. Gas tank will always be a concern, but Ngannou is nevertheless a force of nature. I'll ride with him until the wheels fall off.

    Ngannou by KO, Rd. 2


    Tom Taylor: As I said in my breakdown for this fight, Gane seems like he has the perfect skill set to give Ngannou fits—and I still can't pick him to dethrone the champion. Ngannou simply hits too hard for me to ever pick against him again. I've learned my lesson. Gane might have some success early as he looks to frustrate Ngannou with kicks at range and elbows in close, but eventually he's going to get hit with the big one. In other words, I'm with Scott on this one.

    Ngannou by KO, Rd. 2


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Both Scott and Tom have gotten to the brink of picking Gane to upset the champ, and I'll take the extra step and plunge over the cliff with it. Could he get hit with a bomb at any point across 25 minutes? No question. But unless that happens, everything else goes the challenger's way. The longer it goes, the better he'll lookand I think if anyone ultimately gets finished, it'll be Ngannou.

    Gane by TKO, Rd. 4

Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo III

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    Scott Harris: I think their most recent meeting last year at UFC 263 made Moreno a clear favorite in this trilogy matchup. Moreno was masterful as the challenger, dominating Figueiredo 47-24 in significant strikes and 4:49 to 1:30 of control time before choking him out in the third round, per UFC Stats. Figueiredo is a great fighter and will have his days. Saturday will not be one of them.

    Moreno by unanimous decision


    Tom Taylor: Scott couldn't have summed it up better. The first time Moreno and Figueiredo met, they seemed to be pretty evenly matched—hence the draw. The second time, Moreno made Figueiredo look like he was stuck in slow motion. It was a lopsided performance and one that, to me, negated any need for a trilogy—at least, for the moment. But here we are. 

    I just don't think Figueiredo has done enough to close what looked like a widening gap between his skill and the champ's.  

    Moreno by unanimous decision


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: I loved the first fight, and if pressed I'd have leaned Moreno's direction. In the second fight, Figuereido had a moment that quickly went away. As the esteemed gentlemen have suggested, there's every reason to believe the momentum continues. But I'm riding my contrarian wave here. The ex-champ harnesses what he had intermittently over the first two fights and evens the series at 1-1-1. On to No. 4.

    Figuereido by split decision

Michel Pereira vs. Andre Fialho

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    Scott Harris: It's pretty well documented that the quality of this card falls off a cliff after the two title fights, but in fairness those two title fights are pretty rock-solid. As for this matchup, this is a showcase fight for the pyrotechnics of Pereira. His creative, even reckless standup game will win him the fight and plenty of new fans. Fialho is making his UFC debut after a checkered career in Bellator and most recently the United Arab Emirates. So, yeah.

    Pereira by TKO, Rd. 1


    Tom Taylor: Pereira is incredibly fun to watch, but I don't see him as a future UFC champion or even a title challenger. However, he should be able to take out Fialho, who is making his UFC debut on short notice, replacing Muslim Salikhov. Fialho is definitely on a roll, with knockout wins in his last four fights, but he was also knocked out by the two best guys he's fought: Chris Curtis and Chidi Njokuani. Those are the hallmarks of a glass cannon, and you don't want to be anything but cast iron against a berserker like Pereira. 

    Pereira by KO, Rd. 2


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Annnnd, we're back to Fight Night co-main quality material here. I like Pereira as much as the others do, and I don't see a whole lot of reason to believe he doesn't win here and look memorable doing it. It may be a pretty good action bout while it lasts, but it won't go past halfway to 15 minutes.

    Pereira by TKO, Rd. 2

Cody Stamann vs. Said Nurmagomedov

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    Scott Harris: This Nurmagomedov is not as accomplished as his lightweight GOAT namesake, but he's still a solid favorite here. But I say hold the phone. The Dagestani hasn't competed in over a year, and while Stamann has lost two straight, ring rust is real, and Stamann has the power wrestling game to give Nurmagomedov fits. Stamann hits some crucial takedowns that help him dictate the fight. Sound the upset alarms.

    Stamann by unanimous decision


    Tom Taylor: I'm done picking against fighters from Dagestan—at least, for now. It feels like I watch a Dagestani fighter effortlessly smash somebody into oblivion every weekend. Last weekend, it was Saygid Izagakhmaev in ONE Championship. This weekend, I suspect it will be his countryman Nurmagomedov in the UFC. These guys have simply got it down to a science right now. 

    Stamann is good, like Scott said, but I think this will be Nurmagomedov's coming-out party. 

    Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: As far as picks on this card go, this one has me particularly perplexed. There's plenty of reason to think Nurmagomedov is skilled enough to continue a run that's seen him win three of four in the UFC, but I'm not quite impressed. Stamann has beaten a far better grade of foe, and even his recent losses are of a higher ilk than his opponent's wins. Says here he circles the wagons for a main card surprise.

    Stamann by split decision

Trevin Giles vs. Michael Morales

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    Scott Harris: The UFC is doing all it can to add one more fight to the card. Rodolfo Vieira vs. Wellington Turman was canceled as quickly as it was made. Maybe this one will have better luck. I think Giles' experience will win the day over Morales, an undefeated bonus-hunter making his proper UFC debut. This may be viewed as a showcase for Morales—a common outcome for those who shine on Dana White's Contender Series—but Giles will spoil the party.

    Giles by unanimous decision


    Tom Taylor: Ecuador's Michael Morales is making his UFC debut after earning a contract on Dana White's Contender Series last year. Trevin Giles is dropping from middleweight to welterweight after a tough knockout loss to Dricus Du Plessis. There are a lot of questions about both guys heading into this fight, but I like Morales' range and versatility to beat Giles' power. He might even be able to score a knockout, but a decision is probably the more likely outcome. 

    Morales by unanimous decision 


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Dropping weight always feels like a roll of the dice. Some guys make it look easy and remain successful, while others never get the benefit they were seeking. I liked Giles well enough at middleweight, and it's making me think he'll be capable enough here against a newcomer. A dangerous newcomer who could end it inside of five minutes, for sure. But that's not the vibe here.

    Giles by split decision