The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns with its first event of the new year and it will be a massive fight night event. Sean Strickland will face Nassourdine Imavov after Kelvin Gastelum had to withdraw from the main event. But besides the big fight of the evening, the main card of UFC Fight Night 217 is stacked with massive fights and we have prepared predictions for the most significant ones.
UFC Fight Night 217 Predictions: Main Card & Prelims
Punahele Soriano vs Roman Kopylov
Punahele is a 29-year-old American fighter. He started his professional career in 2017. Before moving to the UFC, Soriano played in second-rate promotions in North America, where he beat a mediocre opposition to a professional record of 5-0.
In June 2019, Soriano came to Dana White's Contender Series show, where he defeated Jamie Picket on points and received a contract with the UFC. Punahele's debut in the strongest league in the world took place in December of the same year in a duel against Oskar Piechota, whom he knocked out in the 1st round.
After his debut success, Soriano missed a year. In 2020, the fighter was supposed to enter the octagon twice, but both times during training he received a concussion and was removed from the scheduled fights. The return of Punahele took place in January 2021 in a fight against Dusko Todorovic, whom he knocked out at the end of the 1st round.
Soriano is a versatile fighter. In the standing position, the athlete is distinguished by knockout power, good combinations, and good footwork. On the ground, he is strong in positional combat, due to which he dominates the opponent and is looking for an opportunity to enter the painful hold.
The main disadvantage of Soriano is cardio. In pursuit of the finish line, he completely swings to the equator of the battle. Punahele's fatigue was visible in the Dana White Candidates Series fight, when in the 2nd five-minute period he lost concentration and began to miss a lot, because of which he had to dry the battle.
Roman is a 31-year-old fighter from Russia. In November 2019, Kopylov made his UFC debut with a perfect record at a tournament in Moscow. His opponent was Karl Roberson. Kopylov lost by submission in the 3rd round.
After the defeat in the debut, Roman was out for 2 years and returned in October 2021 in a duel against Albert Duraev, whom he lost by unanimous decision. This was Kopylov's last performance.
Roman is most effective in the standing position. He competently mixes the levels, breaking the opponent's head and body in turn, and prefers to work at medium and long distances. I note the presence of knockout power in Roman. 8 out of 9 victories he got by KO/TKO.
But Kopylov is not at all friendly with wrestling. He may well defend against takedowns, but when he is transferred to the ground, Roman gives himself and loses positions, he can easily launch an opponent behind his back or into a mount and is given to painful submissions.
Punahele Soriano vs Roman Kopylov
Soriano is dangerous in the stance, where he can outshoot Roman, constantly dealing damage to him and leaving the line of attack. Considering that Punahele has dynamite in his fists, he can at least shock his opponent with one accurate hit, knock him down and finish him on the ground.
Roman Kopylov defends well against takedowns but if Soriano puts him down, there will be no escaping for Kopylov and this is another way Soriano can win this match.
Priscila Cachoeira vs Sijara Eubanks
The 34-year-old Brazilian athlete nicknamed “Zombie Girl” has been a professional since 2016. Priscila is from Rio de Janeiro, and trains at the MMA MASTERS gym, before the UFC she performed exclusively in Brazil. Kashoira made her debut in the strongest organization on the planet in February 2018, she performed on short notice against Valentina Shevchenko and lost by knockout in the second round, taking a “ton” of damage in less than 10 minutes.
At the moment, the Brazilian professional record is 12-4, in the UFC 4-4. Priscila is on a two-win streak, defeating Ji Yong Kim by a controversial decision and surprisingly knocking out Ariana Lipsky in 65 seconds. Kachoira has a knockout punch, but her tongue does not turn to be called technical, she has a poor defense in the stance, and she is helpless on the ground. Seven of her 12 pro victories have come by knockout.
The 37-year-old UFC veteran returns to the octagon with a 7-7 record. Eubanks was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. She began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Lloyd Irvine in 2008. Later, Sijara won the Women's No-Gi Advanced Absolute division in the 2011 Grapplers Quest World Championship final and the IBJJF World Championship as a brown belt in 2014. Eubanks has long been a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu.
In 2017, Sijara performed on The Ultimate Fighter season 26, where she was on the team of Eddie Alvarez. After scoring three victories and reaching the final of the show, Eubanks was forced to withdraw due to health problems after the weight race. She did make her UFC debut in 2018, but things haven't been going well for Eubanks lately, as she's now lost five of her eight and three of her last four fights.
Priscila Cachoeira vs Sijara Eubanks Prediction
On paper, Eubanks should really win with no problems, she is a great grappler while Cachoeira doesn't know what to do when she is on her back. At the same time, Eubanks has proven to give up mentally when she misses a lot or gets very tired physically. As we saw when Cachoeira fought Gina Mazani, the Brazilian is more than capable of capitalizing on any sign of weakness. I see two scenarios of a fight, Eubanks easily translates and dominates the ground, which leads to a victory in the grand and pound, perhaps by a reception, or Sijara remains on his feet and sooner or later suffocates, after which he again refuses to fight.
Umar Nurmagomedov vs Raoni Barcelos
Umar Nurmagomedov Preview
Umar Nurmagomedov is the cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. In June, the 27-year-old Russian fighter defeated American Nate Maniss by unanimous decision. The 27-year-old Russian won 15 victories and did not suffer a single defeat in MMA. He is ranked 11th in the UFC bantamweight rankings.
Raoni Barcelos Preview
Raoni Barcelos is no longer a young fighter. The Brazilian turns 36 this year. He has 17 wins (seven by knockout) and two losses. In October, Barcelos defeated Trevin Jones of Guam. However, before that, he lost two fights in a row, losing to American Victor Henry and Russian Timur Valiev.
Umar Nurmagomedov vs Raoni Barcelos Prediction
Analysts of bookmakers consider Nurmagomedov the undisputed favorite of the upcoming fight. It's hard to disagree with them. He is younger than his rival but no less experienced. Umar is a supporter of the wrestling style. He received good training at his brother's school. The fight is unlikely to end in a knockout. The fight will go the whole distance and end with the victory of the Dagestan.