UFC on ESPN 42: Quick picks and prognostications

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC on ESPN 42.

UFC on ESPN 42 takes place Saturday at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. The card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.

Last event’s results: 3-1

Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2022: 114-69-1

Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.

With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive, as my goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by Tipico Sportsbook.

If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.

So, without further ado…

Eryk Anders (+175) vs. Kyle Daukaus (-220)


With Joe Silva-style openers seemingly being a thing of the past (as the current crop of UFC matchmakers seems to relegate the majority of lighter-weight fights to the prelims), the main card on ESPN opens with a middleweight bout between [autotag]Eryk Anders[/autotag] and [autotag]Kyle Daukaus[/autotag].

Despite not disagreeing with who is favored here, I have a hard time being confident in Daukaus due to his quick turnaround from multiple facial fractures that he received this past June. That said, Anders has traditionally struggled against fellow southpaws (officially standing at 2-4) and will be at a grappling disadvantage on paper.

For that reason, I’ll tentatively take Daukaus to conservatively grapple his way to a decision win.

Jack Hermansson (-180) vs. Roman Dolidze (+155)

Serving as more main card filler is a middleweight matchup between [autotag]Jack Hermansson[/autotag] and [autotag]Roman Dolidze[/autotag].

Even though I hold a stated bias toward Xtreme Couture fighters that are cornered by the great Eric Nicksick, I have a hard time backing Dolidze in this spot. The Georgian is a wildman who knows how to capitalize inside of chaos, but I’m not sure how prepared he will be considering that he is stepping in on short notice.

I obviously wouldn’t mind being wrong, but I’ll take the more proven product in Hermansson to grind out a decision win on the scorecards.

Tai Tuivasa (+180) vs. Sergei Pavlovich (-230)

Death, taxes, and the current crop of UFC matchmakers forcing heavyweight affairs onto Fight Night main cards.

That said, this bout between [autotag]Tai Tuivasa[/autotag] and [autotag]Sergei Pavlovich[/autotag] should be a banger for as long as it lasts.

Tuivasa has been good to me as an underdog (as I suspect that his leg kicks and clinch striking make him lively here), but I’m not sure where his motivation or mindset is when looking at everything from the risk to the reasonings for this matchup.

Even though my heart will be with “Bam Bam,” I’ll semi-reluctantly pick the human refrigerator that is Pavlovich to knock out Tuivasa in the first round.

Matheus Nicolau (-370) vs. Matt Schnell (+290)

I know I give Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby a lot of crap for UFC card structures in this column, but I have to commend them for rightfully putting this fantastic flyweight fight between [autotag]Matheus Nicolau[/autotag] and [autotag]Matt Schnell[/autotag] on the main card.

Schnell is a fun action fighter whose been delivering bangers since his days on the regional scene, while Nicolau is a Nova Uniao product that offers technical counters in almost every department.

Although grappling stanzas should be fun for as long as they last, the bulk of this contest will likely be decided in the boxing realm.

Schnell is the longer fighter who has a slight edge in experience with his Golden Gloves accolades, but I suspect that Nicolau’s left hook will prove to be problematic for the American. The pick is Nicolau to score a knockout by the end of the second frame.

Bryan Barberena (+425) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (-575)

In another southpaw versus southpaw offering, [autotag]Bryan Barberena[/autotag] welcomes [autotag]Rafael dos Anjos[/autotag] back to the welterweight division.

Despite typically having a good beat on Barberena as an underdog (picking him opposite Warlley Alves, Sage Northcutt and Robbie Lawler), I have a hard time justifying a shot on him here.

Barberena may have fewer miles on him than dos Anjos does, but the Brazilian warhorse has shown little signs of slowing – even at this stage of his career. And whether you’re citing dos Anjos’ experience against southpaws (currently standing at a competitive 5-4 as opposed to Barberena’s 1-2) or the fact that he’s 14-4 when able to secure a minimum of just one takedown, the stats seems to support his projected odds.

More importantly, dos Anjos has been a consistent bodyworker, which should serve him particularly well in this matchup when looking at past Barberena fights. Even though I love myself a classic Barberena upset, I’ll officially pick dos Anjos to force a stoppage off of a body shot in the second round.

Stephen Thompson (+150) vs. Kevin Holland (-175)

The main event on ESPN features an interesting welterweight matchup between [autotag]Stephen Thompson[/autotag] and [autotag]Kevin Holland[/autotag].

As stated in my in-depth breakdown, this fight has all the intangibles for some strange stanzas given each fighter’s tendency – albeit in different ways – to playfully look for counters.

Although I was tempted to lean into my Kenpo karate bias and take Thompson to style in this spot, I could not get around the fact that counter-right hands seem to be the common culprit in all of his knockdowns.

Holland may not have a dependable process, but I’ll reluctantly pick him to score an abrupt knockout between rounds two and three and will be happy if I’m wrong.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie