Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley returns for the first time since his dismissal this Saturday (May 30, 2020) when UFC Apex staged a titanic 170-pound clash between “The Chosen One” and Gilbert Burns. The UFC on FOX 9 also presents a Heavyweight scrap pitting Blagoy Ivanov against Augusto Sakai and the return of Mackenzie Dern against Hannah Cifers.
Three more UFCs on FOX 9 “Prelims” undercard bouts still need to be reviewed before that (check out the first batch here), however, let’s not be dead.
125 lb: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Antonina Shevchenko
A 4-1 UFC flyweight race – marred only by a split decision loss to Jessica Eye – led Katlyn Chookagian (13-3) to a title shot against Valentina Shevchenko. “Blonde Fighter” would ultimately fail like so many, succumbing to earth-and-pound in the third round.
It will be an inch tall and will reach Shevchenko.
Antonina Shevchenko (8-1) mishandled Jaimee Nievera on “Contender Series” to win a contract, then followed with a large decision on Ji Yeon Kim in his debut. A massive loss to Roxanne Modafferi ended her unbeaten record, but returned to the win column four months later with a “Fight of the Night” submission by Lucie Pudilova.
“La Pantera” eliminated two opponents alongside this singular tapout.
Don’t expect a repeat of the Chookagian title fight – the main difference between Antonina and her sister is the lack of fight from the first. Without this threat, Chookagian is free to strike hard, even if the same can be said of Shevchenko.
This can be summed up from a distance. If things stay within strike, Chookagian’s volume theoretically gives it the edge. Melee, on the other hand, is Shevchenko’s world, especially since she won’t have to worry about changes in the level of “Blonde Fighter”. Looking at their relative prowess in each other’s wheelhouse, Chookagian’s potential advantage in combat is not as important as Shevchenko’s advantage in combat, and we have seen shorter fighters than Shevchenko penetrate with success on Chookagian. Shevchenko rule it point blank so it’s two in a row.
Prediction: Shevchenko via unanimous decision
150 lbs: Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle
Although his race The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 22 was not entirely successful, Billy Quarantillo (13-2) finally hit his Octagon ticket four years later when he stopped Kamuela Kirk on “Contender Series”. He was to make his debut against Chris Fishgold, but instead faced Jacob Kilburn, whom he maimed on the carpet on the way to a submission in the second round.
He will have an advantage of three inches tall the night of the fight.
Spike Carlyle (9-1) entered the UFC on a four-game winning streak, including two by knockout in the first round. “The Alpha Ginger” debuted three times in a row, swinging and stopping “Contender Series” veteran Aalon Cruz in just 85 seconds.
His eight save wins include five by knockout (technique).
I don’t know if it’s just me subconsciously overestimating Carlyle to compensate for her underestimation against Cruz, but I really think he has that. The concern I had in this fight was that Carlyle, a formidable grappler, would not be able to reduce the distance against such a long fighter. Quarantillo, meanwhile, is a pressure attacker who will be happy to climb into Carlyle’s grill and open up to demolition.
Although Quarantillo has the gas tank to get back on its feet and melt people with volume, Carlyle only really needs to go up once to finish things off. He hammers Quarantillo or snatches a submission in transition.
Prediction: Carlyle via technical knockout in the first round
205 lb: Jamahal Hill against. Klidson Abreu
Jamahal Hill (7-0) fought his way to a UFC contract on “Contender Series”, only for visa problems in order to abandon a scheduled start in August 2019 in front of Da Un Jung. “Sweet Dreams” finally got its shot in the Octagon in January and took advantage of it, fighting through six takedowns to make a decision on Darko Stosic.
It will benefit from two inches of height and five inches of range.
Klidson Abreu (15-4) earned the nickname “Russian Terror” for his impressive exploits on the European circuit, although he was unable to repeat the effort against Magomed Ankalaev of the Dagestanese in his debut at the UFC. He won his first Octagon victory five months later with a decision over Sam Alvey, but was the subject of a questionable judgment against Shamil Gamzatov.
Ten of his 14 save wins were submitted by submission.
It’s easy to underestimate Abreu – beyond being officially 1-2 in the Octagon, he’s reluctant to use first-rate grappling that makes him such a threat across the pond, instead of counting on his intermediate strike. If he tries this here, it will end badly, because Hill is much more varied and more versatile on the feet. If Abreu is really fighting with a minimum of sense, however, Hill’s underdeveloped struggle is an incredibly tempting target.
Unless Hill has made great strides since his last fight, Abreu should be able to take him down without too much trouble, and getting out from under is exponentially more difficult than the song against Stosic. As long as Abreu doesn’t try to swap strikes, he confronts Hill on the carpet and chokes on him in a hurry.
Prediction: Abreu via the submission of the first round
Tyron Woodley against Gilbert Burns is a great game and there are scattered gems like Tim Elliott against Brandon Royval. Not bad for a quarantine card. See you Saturday, the fools!
Don’t forget that MMAmania.com will offer live, turn-based, turn-by-turn coverage of the entire UFC on the ESPN 9 combat map this weekend, starting with ESPN /ESPN + “Preliminaries” which must start at 6 pm. AND, then the remaining main map part which will be broadcast on ESPN /ESPN + 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and best UFC on ESPN 9: “Woodley vs Burns”, news and notes, be sure to check out our full event archive on the right here.