UFC on ESPN 5 is right around the corner. Michael Groke gives his picks for every fight on the card.
The UFC is back in the States this Saturday for UFC on ESPN 5. The event will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The main event takes place in the welterweight division where Colby Covington takes on Robbie Lawler.
Colby Covington will look to solidify himself as the number one contender for the welterweight championship with a win over Lawler on Saturday afternoon. Covington comes into the fight riding a seven-fight win streak. The last time the thirty-one-year-old failed to get his hand raised was at UFC 194 where he lost via submission to Warlley Alves. Covington’s most recent victory occurred at UFC 225 where he defeated Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision. Fifty percent of the American Top Team fighter’s fourteen career wins went the distance.
UFC veteran and fan favorite Robbie Lawler will make the walk for the forty-third time when he steps into the octagon opposite Covington on Saturday. After defeating Donald Cerrone at UFC 214, Lawler now finds himself amid a two-fight losing streak. His most recent loss was at UFC 235 where he got subbed by Ben Askren in the first round. Prior to that, Lawler dropped a unanimous decision to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 26. Of the former UFC welterweight champion’s twenty-eight career victories, twenty-one of them ended inside the distance.
In the co-main Clay Guida goes up against Jim Miller in a welterweight battle between two UFC veterans. Clay Guida’s first UFC fight was against Justin James at UFC Unstoppable in 2006. Saturday’s bout against Jim Miller will be the thirty-seven-year-old’s fifty-fourth professional fight. Guida’s most recent fight took place at UFC 237 where he beat BJ Penn via unanimous decision. Of his thirty-five pro victories, seven are via (T)KO with thirteen ending by submission.
Jim Miller has lost five of his last seven fights dating back to UFC 208 in February of 2017. His most recent fight was at UFC Fight Night 150 where he defeated Jason Gonzalez via first round submission. At thirty-five-years-old, Miller will make the walk for the forty-fifth time on Saturday. Twenty of his thirty career wins ended inside the distance.
The third fight on the main card takes place in the lightweight division where Joaquim Silva takes on Nasrat Haqparast. Thirty-year-old Brazilian born fighter Joaquim Silva is 4-1 in the UFC. His last fight was at UFC on FOX 31 where he finished Jared Gordon in round three. All but two of his eleven career wins ended inside the distance. This will be his thirteenth pro fight.
Nasrat Haqparast comes into his fight on Saturday riding a two-fight win streak. His most recent victory occurred at UFC Fight Night 138 where he decisioned Thibault Gouti. Prior to that he beat Marc Diakiese at UFC Fight Night 134, also by decision. The twenty-three-year-old Tristar product has eight wins via stoppage in his ten career victories.
Also, on the main card Trevin Giles will look to get back in the win column after suffering the first loss of his career at the hands of Zak Cummings at UFC Fight Night 152. He faces Gerald Meerschaert who is desperate for win after dropping his previous two.
Scott Holtzman faces off against Dong Hyun Ma in a battle of lightweights and in the light heavyweight division Darko Stosic vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu.
UFC on ESPN 5 Broadcast Information
The prelims will air on ESPN beginning at 11:00 AM (CST) with the main card starting at 2:00 PM (CST) also on ESPN.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all my official bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
UFC on ESPN 5 Main Card
Colby Covington (14-1) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-13, 1 NC) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Covington -225; Lawler +180
Pick: Covington by decision.
I expect Lawler to come out hot and let his hands go just like he did against Askren. Lawler doesn’t have good defensive striking and while that wasn’t a problem against Askren, it might be with Covington. Granted, Covington isn’t the most accurate striker but he’s better at it than Askren.
It’s no secret Covington is an excellent grappler with cardio for days so the longer the fight goes, the more it favors him. I think his relentless pace over five rounds will be too much for Lawler. That said, Lawler will have opportunities. Colby must be careful with distance and shooting in for takedowns because the knees from Lawler could be there.
If Lawler is going to win the fight, I think it will be within the first three rounds. If Covington doesn’t get clipped early in the fight, I see him grinding out a unanimous decision. But, with Lawler’s one-punch ability to finish anyone, I’ll be passing on this one.
Jim Miller (30-13, 1 NC) vs. Clay Guida (35-18) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Miller -150; Guida +120
Pick: Miller by submission.
My official pick is Jim Miller, but Guida by decision is a very possible outcome. Although Miller is the more technical striker, he might struggle with Guida’s movement. So, if the fight plays out primarily on the feet it could lead to a very boring Guida decision.
I also favor Miller if the fight goes to the ground. Sure, Guida is known for his wrestling but he gives up submission opportunities far too often. Half of Guida’s eighteen losses are via submission. I’m banking on the fight going to the ground and Miller subbing Guida for the tenth time. While I’m picking Miller to win, there is some value on Guida at + money.
Joaquim Silva (11-1) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (10-2) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Haqparast -260; Silva +200
Pick: Haqparast by (T)KO.
Silva is always moving forward looking to unleash the power he has in his hands. Haqparast is the quicker, more efficient striker, but Silva can sleep anyone. I can see Haqparast putting on a quicker pace and out-voluming Silva, but Silva’s power makes me want to stay away from this one.
Trevin Giles (11-1) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (28-11) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Giles -175; Meerschaert +140
Pick: Giles by (T)KO.
Both fighters have clear paths to victory. Meerschaert will want to get the fight to the ground early and often. Giles is faster, stronger and the better striker. If Meerschaert has success taking Giles down, don’t be surprised to see him get the submission win. Twenty of twenty-eight wins are via submission. However, if Giles can stuff the takedown attempts and keep the fight standing it’s going to be a long night for Meerschaert. I lean to Giles here.
Scott Holtzman (12-3) vs. Dong Hyun Ma (16-9-3) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Holtzman -450; Ma +325
Pick: Holtzman by (T)KO.
Holtzman is just better than Ma regardless of where the fight goes. Holtzman ITD might be worth a look.
Darko Stosic (13-2) vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu (6-1) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Stosic -130; Nzechukwu +100
Pick: Nzechukwu by decision, but with little confidence.
This is Nzechukwu toughest challenge to date. Stosic might want to take the fight to the ground, which can be a problem for Kennedy. As long as he doesn’t allow Stosic to hold him down for long periods of time I think Nzechukwu will be the busier fighter on the feet and will out-volume Stosic to a decision win.
UFC on ESPN 5 Prelims
Mickey Gall (5-2) vs. Salim Touahri (10-3) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Touahri -125; Gall -105
Pick: Touahri by decision.
Touahri is the better fighter on the feet. Gall will probably look to get the fight to the ground, and if he does it could be a short night for Touahri. Gall will immediately try to take the back and work for a rear-naked choke. Until I see Gall put it all together though, I can’t back him. Touahri isn’t a world beater either, so this is a fight I will continue to keep an eye on. The odds have flipped on this one and if they continue trending in the same direction, Gall might start looking more appealing.
Antonina Shevchenko (7-1) vs. Lucie Pudilova (8-4) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Shevchenko -120; Pudilova +110
Pick: Shevchenko by decision.
Both fighters are primarily strikers. I think Shevchenko is quicker and the more efficient striker. While Shevchenko has terrible takedown defense, I don’t think she’ll have to worry because Pudilova rarely, if ever attempts them.
Jordan Espinosa (14-5, 1 NC) vs. Matt Schnell (13-4) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Espinosa -125; Schnell -105
Pick: Schnell by decision with no confidence.
Lauren Murphy (10-4) vs. Mara Romero Borella (12-5, 2 NC) – Flyweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Borella -200; Murphy +160
Pick: Borella by decision.
Claudio Silva (13-1) vs. Cole Williams (11-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Silva -475; Williams +350
Pick: Silva by submission.
Once the fight goes to the ground, it’s over.
Hannah Goldy (2-0) vs. Miranda Granger (4-0) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Goldy -130; Granger +100
Pick: Goldy by decision.
Enjoy the fights!
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