UFC 252 Staff Picks and Predictions

The UFC returns to Pay Per View on Saturday with a massive heavyweight main event. The title is on the line, but in reality, there is much more. For a full preview of the match-up between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, check out this awesome piece from our own Josh Thomas.

As for the entire show, it features “The Suga Show” Sean O’Malley returning against the tough Chito Vera plus a heavyweight showdown between Junior Dos Santos and Jair Rozenstuik!

It’s the first UFC Pay Per View since Fight Island and we’re pumped! Here is the Baseline MMA’s staff picks and predictions for UFC 252.

UFC Heavyweight Championship: Stipe Miocic (Champion, 19-3) vs. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)

Gabe Lewis: While some believe Miocic’s first loss to DC was a result of damage from the Ngannou fight, the second fight left no doubt who the better fighter was. For Cormier to win the third, he must control Miocic on the ground with his world-class wrestling. DC is on the wrong side of 40, but still has the skills to wear down the champion. Cormier ends his MMA career on top. Cormier by Split Decision

Josh Thomas: I’m truly torn on this fight. On one hand, I’ve never not pulled for Stipe, but I also would love to see DC go out on a win and ride into the sunset. I feel Cormier will be a lot more reserved and patient on the feet in this bout compared to the previous two. I also see DC utilizing much more grappling in this fight. For the first time, I can’t pick just one. I’ll take Miocic by 2nd Round TKO or Cormier by 3rd Round Submission. Pick ‘Em

Cody Guinn: The winner of this fight will likely be named the UFC’s heavyweight GOAT, but I feel neither man is retiring after this one. I believe this time around it’s back and forth. Rounds 1 and 4, Stipe outboxes Cormier on the feet. Rounds 2, 3 and 5, Cormier gets the fight to the ground leading to a DC decision. Cormier may put on a retirement show post-fight, but there’s too much money on the table with a potential Cormier-Jon Jones heavyweight match-up down the road. Cormier by Unanimous Decision

Sean O’Malley (12-0) vs. Marlon Vera (15-6-1)

Gabe: O’Malley has had some tough luck with drug test debacles and setbacks just getting to a fight. Following his walk-off KO of Eddie Wineland, O’Malley is sipping his own Kool-Aid. I would love Vera to humble O’Malley, but Sean has finished 10 of his last 12 opponents so that would be throwing money away. O’Malley by 2nd Round TKO

Josh: I believe Chito surprises many on Saturday. I’m not a “Suga” Sean hater at all, but think this is a huge step up in competition compared to previous opponents in the UFC. Vera by 3rd Round Submission

Cody: I truly believe O’Malley is a future superstar, but I really hope he isn’t looking past Chito Vera. Vera’s last five finishes have all been spectacular and his fight with Song Yadong was a classic that many though Vera should’ve won. Vera will give O’Malley a run for his money, but I’ll still buy in to the “Suga Show” on Saturday. O’Malley by Split Decision

Junior dos Santos (21-7) vs. Jair Rozenstruik (10-1)

Gabe: I tend to favor the up and coming fighters over veterans past their prime and this one is no exception. I see both men trading shots early and often, but Rozenstruik pulling out the KO against the former champion. Rozenstruik by 1st Round KO

Josh: dos Santos is a long-time top five heavyweight and has some great boxing for the division, but against a man with over 80 professional kickboxing bouts, JDS’ striking may not hold up. While this could be a repeat of dos Santos’ fight against Tuivasa, I believe we see “Bigi Boy” shut the lights off on dos Santos. Rozenstruik by 1st Round TKO

Cody: This fight could go a few different way. Dos Santos could try to grapple where he would have an advantage against the stand-up style of Jair…or Dos Santos could test his boxing against the powerful kickboxer. One of these game plans could get someone knocked unconscious in a scary way. Rozenstruik by 2nd Round KO

Herbert Burns (11-2) vs. Daniel Pineda (26-13, 2 NC)

Gabe: This is a classic grappler match-up with this bout. Both men have slick submission skills and the potential to end the fight early. I have Burns as the favorite with more consistency and a bit sharper executing his game plan. Burns by 2nd Round Submission

Josh: Close fight here on paper with two guys who are on hot streaks. I’ll go with Burns in a close bout. Burns by Unanimous Decision

Cody: Pineda is returning to the UFC following a conversational run in PFL. Pineda has looked outstanding since leaving the UFC in 2014 after a 3-4 run and is undefeated since 2018. Burns is on a five-fight winning streak all by finish. This is my favorite for Fight of the Night and I’ll give a slight advantage to the experience of Pineda. Pineda by Split Decision

John Dodson (22-11) vs. Merab Dvalishvii (11-4)

Gabe: Decision is likely in this one as both men have struggled in recent memory putting opponents away. I’ll side with Merab in this decision. Dvalishvii by Unanimous Decision

Josh: Two big statistics standout when looking at this fight: Dodson’s 80% takedown defense rate against Merab’s 8.67 takedowns per round in the UFC. Something has to give and I’ll take Dvalishvii’s game plan to eventually wear down Dodson. Dvalishvii by Unanimous Decision

Cody: This fight will cover the entire Octagon whether it’s from Dodson using his fast feet to keep distance from Merab or if it’s Dvalishvii shooting repeatedly to drag Dodson into deep water. While Dodson doesn’t have the same speed he had in his top ten days, he’s still never been finished in his MMA career. Dodson will likely need to be the one to get a finish in this one to pull out a win. Dvalishvii by Split Decision

Cody’s Quick Prelim Picks
Jim Miller over Vinc Pichel
Virna Jandiroba over Felice Herrig
TJ Brown over Danny Chavez
Livia Souza over Ashley Yoder
Chris Daukaus over Parker Porter
Kai Kamaka III over Tony Kelley

Join us next week on the Baseline MMA Podcast to recap UFC 252 and see how we did with our picks!