FIGHTER PREDICTIONS: UFC stars offer verdict on UFC 295 main event

UFC 295 FIGHTER PREDICTIONS: Israel Adesanya and Jamahal Hill both back Jiri Prochazka to beat Alex Pereira… but Anthony Smith and welterweight star Stephen Thompson tip the Brazilian to claim gold in New York

  • Alex Pereira is a slight favourite to beat Jiri Prochazka at UFC 295 this weekend
  • The Brazilian comes into the fight off the back of a win against Jan Blachowicz
  • Anthony Joshua is the Emma Raducanu of boxing: Listen to why on The Hook 

Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira will go head-to-head in a mouthwatering showdown at UFC 295 for the vacant light-heavyweight title.

Prochazka, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury for over a year, comes into the bout off a win against Glover Teixeira.

Pereira defeated Jan Blachowicz in a back-and-forth contest on his light-heavyweight debut at UFC 291. 

They say styles makes fights. It is fair to say that Saturday’s main event between the two knockout specialists will have MMA fans on the edge of their seats. Many fighters have had their say on how this weekend’s bout will play out.

Pereira’s bitter rival, Israel Adesanya, who defeated the Brazilian in devastating fashion earlier this year, is unsurprisingly backing Prochazka to get it done in New York. 

Jiri Prochazka (left) and Alex Pereira (right) will go head-to-head at UFC 295 this weekend

Prochazka comes into the fight off the back of a win against Glover Teixeira last year 

Pereira defeated Jan Blachowicz on his light-heavyweight debut at UFC 291

Speaking on his official YouTube channel, the former middleweight champion broke down the main event this weekend.

‘I’ll say (Alex) Pereira is a special human being,’ Adesanya said. ‘Not just a fighter, a special human being and I’ll say that because I’ve been in there with him many times. A special human being and he’s got a special ability when it comes to putting people to sleep.

‘He can do it to anyone. His story is very impressive. What he’s done in kickboxing, then coming to the UFC and hunting me down, getting hunted and then going up to 205 [pounds] now and looking to claim a second belt.’

‘It’s a hard fight for both men, but it’s a hard fight for Jiri (Prochazka) because of that time bomb,’ Adesanya explained.

‘You can diffuse the bomb, that’s the thing. You have to find out how to diffuse the bomb. It’s exciting, but regardless, I’m going with Jiri Prochazka.’ 

Former light-heavyweight champion, Jamahal Hill, also broke down how this weekend’s fight will go down. 

Jamahal Hill officially vacated his title back in July after sustaining a ruptured Achilles tendon. 

It is likely that he will face the winner of the UFC 295 main event – with Hill backing the Czech-born star to get it done.

Israel Adesanya (left) and Jamahal Hill (right) are both picking Jiri Prochazka this weekend 

Former bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo is also backing the Czech-born star

Speaking to James Lynch, Hill said: ‘I think it’s a good fight between two high-level competitors.

‘I think Jiri has more ways to win, but I think Alex is more deadly and precise.’

When told Prochazka is the favourite to get it done, Hill said: ‘I can see why Jiri is the favourite.’ 

Former bantamweight world champion Henry Cejudo is also predicting the Czech to secure a huge win at UFC 295.

‘Both of these guys are super active! But I would say, striking for MMA it does change! Just because he (Pereira) is a glory champion doesn’t mean he is the best striker in the world,’ Cejudo said on his official YouTube channel.

‘In MMA with takedowns if you play that game right it does make the difference.’

‘So, when I look at this fight I think these are two giants, man! There is one guy who has power ability and that’s very basic and very conventional, it’s nothing out of the norm against a guy who is super creative and you don’t actually know from where things are actually coming. If there’s a kryptonite for both of these guys it’s this, they both have power, and they both will take chances.’

‘But, who’s more likely to win? Jiri has been out for a long time, but I coached him and I do think he has self belief! I believe if he brings the wrestling in and covers distance, stay away from that left hook, stay away from that leg kick, use some of that wrestling that he did against Glover Teixeira, I could see him winning.’

Top 10 light-heavyweight contender Anthony Smith is confident that Pereira will win in New York

UFC lightweight contender Matt Frevola, who faces Benoit Saint-Denis on the same card this weekend, also tips the No 1 ranked 205lbs contender to beat Pereira.

‘I love Jiri. I think he’s got a hunger coming back from that injury,’ he said.

‘He never officially lost the title. So I think coming back from that injury, you’re just going to see the best version of Jiri and I think he’s going to get it done.’

While many big names in the roster are confident that Prochazka can get it done against the knockout sensation, there are still a few who think that the former middleweight champion can claim yet another UFC title.

Top contender at 205lbs, Anthony Smith recently told Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour that the Brazilian will secure a big win at the MSG.

‘I do,’ Smith said when asked if he believed Pereira would come out on top.

Smith also revealed that he is hoping the former GLORY kick-boxer will call him out after the bout.

‘I obviously hope so. That would be ideal, but he doesn’t seem like he’s the type of guy that always has his next move planned. He seems a very in-the-moment kind of person. The best part about being fighters and me still competing is I can say whatever I want. If you’re mad about it, then come do something about it. I’m not hard to find.’

Welterweight legend Stephen Thompson is also picking the Brazilian this weekend

Former UFC welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson, like Smith, is also backing Pereira this weekend. 

‘I think he (Pereira) can get it done. Prochazka likes to keep the fight standing and Alex is very dangerous, he’s got five striking titles behind him and his striking is on another level,’ he told James Lynch.

‘Wonderboy’ believes that Prochazka needs to get the fight up against the cage and chip away at the Brazilian. 

‘If Prochazka is to win, I feel like he’s going to have to try to hit him up against the cage, use his knees, use his elbows or maybe even to try to get him to the ground. If he doesn’t, I got Alex winning that fight.’

Featherweight submission specialist Bryce Mitchell is also confident in ‘Poatan’.

Featherweight contender Bryce Mitchel believes Pereira is more technical than Prochazka 

UFC 295 also sees the return of Tom Aspinall when he takes on Sergei Pavlovich for the interim heavyweight title 

‘I really do think that Pereira does have an edge there. Anything can happen, but Pereira is more technical, he’s hard to hit and he hits very hard,’ he said.

While welterweight contender Rinat Fakhretdinov is a huge fan of Magomed Ankalaev in the 205lbs division, he is backing Pereira to win this weekend and hopes for a future fight between the two.

‘I support Magomed Ankalaev in this weight class. But if I have to pick, I’ll pick Pereira because I want to watch Pereira vs Magomed.’

UFC 295 also sees England’s finest Tom Aspinall take on Sergei Pavlovich. While the Brit faces a tough test, he will be looking to become only the third fighter from the United Kingdom to win a title in MMA’s biggest promotion. 

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