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8 March 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


In the wake of the biggest card of 2019 so far, Saturday’s (Sunday morning SA time) UFC Fight Night is flying somewhat under the radar. Fight fans shouldn’t sleep on the event taking place at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita though.

The main event between top 10 heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Junior dos Santos is set to be a slugfest, while household names like Tim Means, Ben Rothwell and Tim Boetsch are also on the card.

The judges won’t be needed for this heavyweight headliner. As far as predictions go, this one’s a nightmare, but as for the fight itself, it promises to produce plenty of fireworks.

Both are big, aggressive knockout artists, third-ranked Lewis boasting 18 KOs and eighth-ranked Dos Santos 14. The charismatic “Black Beast” is playing mind games with “Cigano”, calling him his “weakest” opponent in years.

Granted, Lewis fought for the title in his last Octagon appearance, suffering a second-round submission loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 in New York in December. Prior to that, he’d racked up consecutive wins over Alexander Volkov, Francis Ngannou and Marcin Tybura.

That said, underestimating former champion Dos Santos, who won the title with a first-round stoppage of Cain Velasquez in 2011, would be extremely dangerous on Lewis’ part. The resurgent Brazilian has won two in a row and at 35, it’s a must-win fight for him if he’s to keep his title hopes alive.

Dos Santos has more tools and avenues to win the bout than the throwback, one-dimensional American. This is the perfect time for the black belt to fight clever and utilise his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, although I don’t see him going that route. I’m expecting both behemoths to come out swinging for the fences, with the more technical Dos Santos getting off first similar to his knockout of Gilbert Yvel back in 2010.

Prediction: Dos Santos via first-round KO.

The co-main event is a clash of red-hot welterweights, with Dos Santos having won six straight, while Millender is a perfect 3-0 in the UFC. Dos Santos is a flashy, unpredictable striker who stopped Sean Strickland with a wheel kick and Luigi Vendramini with a flying knee in his last two fights.

Millender’s a much more calculated kickboxer who has a knockout of former title challenger Thiago Alves on his record and is coming off back-to-back decision wins. At 6’2” and with a 78-inch reach, he’s a big welterweight and knows how to maximise his natural gifts. I see him winning on the judges’ scorecards.

Prediction: Millender via unanimous decision.

This should be an entertaining scrap as both fancy a good brawl. Means is a super-tough veteran and a dangerous finisher coming off a first-round knockout win over Ricky Rainey in November. Price is the personification of excitement – a wild man who lives and dies by the proverbial sword, similar to Cody Garbrandt as of late. It didn’t go his way last time out, but Price is poised to bounce back here.

Prediction: Price via first-round TKO.

Both men lost to headliner Dos Santos in their previous bouts, but that’s where the similarities end, as it was Ivanov’s UFC debut, last July, while Rothwell last fought in 2016 due to injury and a failed drug test. As the older of the athletes by five years, the time off certainly won’t do the 38-year-old Rothwell any good. At 6’4”, the veteran will tower over the 5’11” Ivanov, but it’s one of the rare occasions that this might be a disadvantage as the shorter Bulgarian is a combat sambo savant.

Prediction: Ivanov via first-round KO.

A difficult match-up for Dober as two of his defeats in the Octagon have come by submission, which his opponent happens to specialise in. Of Dariush’s 15 career wins, six were by submission and six by decision. To me, the real question is which of these results will be read out this time.

Prediction: Dariush via second-round submission.

Both fighters have been out of action for quite some time. Boetsch, who boasts over a decade of experience in the UFC, last fought Antonio Carlos Junior in April of last year, losing by submission in the first round. Akhmedov, meanwhile, hasn’t fought since being outpointed by Marvin Vettori in December 2017. Boetsch has fought and beaten better guys, including ex-welterweight champion Johny Hendricks by TKO, so he should see off “Wolverine”.

Prediction: Boetsch via second-round TKO.


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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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