The UFC remains at the Apex in Las Vegas for UFC 255. Two titles are up-for-grabs as Valentina Shevchenko takes on Jennifer Maia and Deiveson Figueiredo faces Alex Perez. Early prelims and prelims will be broadcast live on ESPN 2 at 5:00pm CST and 7:00, respectively, and the PPV main card kicks off at 9:00. Follow along as we break down each of the main card matchups for this Saturday’s event, and give our picks and predictions for how we see each of those fights going down.
Maurício Rua (27-11-1) vs. Paul Craig (13-4-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 11/18/20: Craig (-175), Rua (+145)
Their first bout on November 16th of 2019 ending in a draw, the main card of UFC 255 kicks off with the rematch between former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua and Paul Craig. After amassing a 16-2 professional record, including 12 wins in PRIDE, Mauricio Rua joined the UFC roster as an exceptionally highly-touted prospect. Since joining the UFC in 2007 however, Rua has gone 11-9-1, having garnered only 1 three-fight win streak, and only 1 two-fight win streak with the promotion. Rua did eventually fight and defeat some of the more prominent names in UFC lore, including Lyoto Machida, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, and Forrest Griffin. Paul Craig joined the UFC in 2016, and since then, he’s gone 5-4-1 with the promotion. All 5 of Craig’s UFC wins have come by way of submission, and Rua has only been sub’d thrice in his career – most recently back in 2013. Craig is currently a -175 favorite, but I think Rua is a great underdog to bite on. Although Rua’s career with the UFC has been tumultuous, it’s been on a bit of an uptick lately, going 5-1-1 in his last 7.
Our pick: Rua, decision
Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 11/18/20: Calvillo (-265), Chookagian (+205)
In our first female fracas of the main card, Women’s Flyweights Katlyn Chookagian and Cynthia Calvillo are set to square off. Katlyn Chookagian will be making her 12th walk to the Octagon since mid-2016. She’s coming off of a brutal body shot TKO loss to Jessica Andrade, but she is 3-2 in her last 5. Only 2 fights removed from her crack at the title, Chookagian enters this one a sizeable +205 underdog. The favorite, Cynthia Calvillo will be entering the Octagon for the 9th time on Saturday night, and all but 3 of her professional fights have been with the UFC. Calvillo is on a 4-fight unbeaten streak, and her only career loss came at the hands of Carla Esparza at UFC 219 back in December of 2017.
Our pick: Calvillo, decision
Mike Perry (14-6) vs. Tim Means (30-12-1, 1NC)
Bovada betting odds as of 11/18/20: Perry (-150), Means (+120)
In the third act of the main card, Mike Perry faces Tim Means. Mike Perry will be making his 14th UFC appearance. He’s 7-6 with the UFC, and he’s coming off of a win over Mickey Gall back in June. Even though Perry enters this one a -150 favorite, he is still not training with an official gym, and he will be cornered by his girlfriend and longtime friend Alex Nicholson. Although victorious against Mickey Gall, the lack of training and corner-expertise might play a larger factor against a veteran like Tim Means. Means is a long-time UFC vet, with 22 UFC appearances since early 2012. Apart from a 6-1, 7-fight stretch from 2014-2016, however, Means’ UFC career has been very inconsistent. He’s currently 12-9-1 with the UFC, and he’s 3-4 in his last 7 dating back to November of 2017.
Our pick: Means, decision
Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs. Jennifer Maia (18-6-1)
Bovada betting odds as of 11/18/20: Shevchenko (-1400), Maia (+750)
Our pick: Shevchenko, 1st-round KO/TKO
Just kidding, we are going to talk about this one – but our pick stays the same. Valentina Shevchenko enters this matchup as one of the largest betting favorites that I’ve ever seen for a title fight, a whopping -1400. She’s 8-2 in the UFC, and she’ll be defending the Women’s Flyweight title for the 4th time Saturday night. Shevchenko’s 3 career losses consist of a doctor’s stoppage in 2010 (that was later avenged) and 2 decisions to Amanda Nunes (1 of which was a split). Shevchenko is on a 5-fight win streak (3 finishes) and she has looked absolutely unstoppable since winning the belt. Jennifer Maia will be making her 6th walk to the Octagon. She’s 3-2 in the UFC, and she’s coming off of a first-round finish over Joanne Calderwood back in August of this year. That being said, this is a huge step-up in competition for Maia, and Vegas is probably spot on with this exorbitant line.
Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) vs. Alex Perez (24-5)
Bovada betting odds as of 11/18/20: Figueiredo (-310), Perez (+240)
In the main event, Deiveson Figueiredo will attempt to defend the Flyweight title for the first time against Alex Perez. Figueiredo will be making his 10th walk to the Octagon since mid-2017. He’s 8-1 with the promotion, and he’s on a 4-fight win streak. Figueiredo is coming off of back-to-back wins over Joseph Benavidez, and he enters this fight as a safe -310 favorite. Alex Perez will be making his 8th UFC appearance, by way of the Contender Series. He’s 6-1 with the UFC, and he’s coming off of a ‘Performance of the Night’ 1st-round stoppage over Jussier Formiga back in June.
Our pick: Figueiredo, 2nd-round submission
Tell us what you think! Where do we have it right, and where do you think we got it wrong? Comment with your picks, and don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more predictions and fight coverage. If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @fightsportfocus. Also, subscribe to the Fight Sport Focus podcast on Anchor.fm, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!