UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi staff picks and predictions
See who we're picking for this weekend's UFC APEX show.
The UFC is in the comfy confines of the UFC APEX this weekend for an event headlined by two men who were made for the smaller cage: flyweights Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi.
The BE staff have looked over the match-ups and come up with who they think will win every fight on the card (other than the Jim Miller vs. Jesse Butler bout, since that fight was set up yesterday and there wasn’t enough time to get everyone’s picks in for it).
For the main event, most the staff think that Kara-France has what it takes to beat Albazi and get himself back into the UFC flyweight title picture. There’s only four of us picking Albazi, who is making his main event debut. However, that includes Dayne who is currently leading our 2023 staff picks leader board.
In the co-main all but one of us expect ‘Bruce Leroy’ Alex Caceres to style on Daniel Pineda.
You can see the rest of our picks below! Tell us yours in the comments.
Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi
Anton Tabuena: Albazi has looked good, but I’m going with Kai Kara-France here. He’s well rounded and has showcased those skills against far better opposition. If Albazi is really as good as he is, it should be close, but Kai can still bank on that big fight experience to get him through rough spots and carry him over. Kai Kara-France by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: This is probably where Albazi hits his ceiling, because I’m not sure his cardio and striking will be on the same level here. He’s clever and great on the inside, but I just don’t see it. Kai Kara-France by TKO.
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Zane Simon: Amir Albazi has been looking great in the UFC so far. The question is, however, how high a level is the competition he’s been looking great against. For the most part, Albazi’s opponents are exactly the kind of fighters that will tend to fold under his persistent pressure and wrestle-boxing combination. The last time he had someone in the cage who could match his toughness and take a serious, extended brawl to him was Jose Torres, and Torres won that fight. It may be that Albazi’s wrestling and grappling are good enough to snag a sub or just ground Kara-France repeatedly, but I’m more of the mind that Kara-France’s recent improvements in both those areas will shine and that he’ll put Albazi on the retreat where I’m not convinced he can fight effectively. Kai Kara-France by TKO, Round 3.
Staff picking Kara-France: Lucas, Stephie, Anton, Kristen, Victor, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Albazi: Bissell, Jack, Dayne, Chris
Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda
Anton Tabuena: Weird how I still don’t really confidently know what to expect in Caceres’ fights all these years into his career. I think he should be good enough to win this though and continue that pretty good run he’s had in the last couple of years. Alex Caceres by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Alex is super tricky and keeps catching guys off-guard. That veteran savvy could pay off big here if Daniel doesn’t mind his Ps and Qs. Pineda’s got the pressure game and heavy strikes, and Alex could capitalize while remaining active and not allowing Pineda to get comfortable in any situation. That includes Caceres being on his back. Alex Caceres by submission.
Zane Simon: One of those times where I really don’t like how unilateral our picks are. Caceres and Pineda both have huge amounts of trouble controlling the flow of a fight. For Caceres, he’s slicker and more dynamic pretty much everywhere, but Pineda is the bigger hitter and better finisher and more naturally aggressive man in the cage. I can easily see a scenario where Pineda lands huge shots early that either knock Caceres out or effectively take him out of the fight. His low kick game is particularly brutal. But, when faced with an opponent who can move well laterally, Pineda’s striking game tends to get busted wide open and his defensive flaws get badly exposed. Given Caceres’ general toughness, I’ll take him to ride out the rough spots and start taking over once Pineda’s first big flurries are done. Alex Caceres via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Caceres: Bissell, Jack, Stephie, Anton, Kristen, Dayne, Victor, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Pineda: Lucas, Chris
Tim Elliott vs. Victor Altamirano
Anton Tabuena: I’m really hesitating on this pick because of all the shit going on in his personal life and issues with teammates, but Tim Elliott by decision.
Zane Simon: At his best, Tim Elliott just seems to be a huge step above Altamirano—who has found the bulk of his success in the UFC just by being durable and down to scrap at all times. Altamirano’s own willingness to wrestle and grapple and lack of consistent clean striking should put him into the heart of Elliott’s wheelhouse over and over again. That said, when Elliott’s at his worst, he tends to run himself out of fights with over-anxious over-wild offense until his cardio runs dry. I’ll still take Elliott here, but... he may be in the exact wrong place to win if Altamirano can just survive a rough first round and pour it on late. Tim Elliott by decision
Staff picking Elliot: Anton, Kristen, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Altamirano: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Dayne, Chris
Karine Silva vs. Ketlen Souza
Victor Rodriguez: Submissions are Silva’s bread and butter, and this is primo butter and top-line bread. The difference in opposition is also something to consider. Silva’s performed better against better opponents, and that’s why I have to pick her here.
Zane Simon: Two very slow paced, one-at-a-time strikers who have some legit, solid power and athleticism, but don’t fight at an elite tempo. Karine Silva seems the better schooled fighter, especially when it comes to wrestling and grappling. Assuming nobody gets KO’d I think Silva will find more chances to take Souza out of the fight than Souza will to land bigger shots. Karine Silva by decision.
Staff picking Silva: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Anton, Kristen, Dayne, Victor, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Souza: Chris
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Muhammadjon Naimov
Victor Rodriguez: I forgot Naimov was even in the UFC. Jamie Mullarkey by TKO.
Zane Simon: He wasn’t in the UFC until a couple days ago. I like Naimov and his sharp, inside brawling style. But his best offense always seems to come in 50/50 exchanges where he’s getting hit just as much as his opponent, and in this case he’s fighting up a division on short notice. I think Mullarkey can keep things rangy and/or get Naimov down when the pocket closes, then he can likely work his way to a solid decision win. Jamie Mullarkey via decision.
Staff picking Mullarkey: Bissell, Stephie, Anton, Kristen, Dayne, Victor, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Naimov: Chris
Elizeu Zaleski vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Victor Rodriguez: Lord help me, I’m gonna go with a solidarity pick against a Nurmagomedov. Why? Because I love Zaleski and have no shame. You better believe I don’t care how stupid I look. Elizeu Zaleski by decision.
Zane Simon: Not only am I picking up what Vic is putting down, I also just think that Zaleski is the much more dangerous fighter between these two men. Nurmagomedov very easily might just wrestle him into oblivion, but one of the things I’ve noticed from him over the years is that even his own grappling success makes him pretty tired. Add to it that Zaleski is a very difficult fighter to control or break from round to round, and I could easily see a scenario where Nurmagomedov starts hot and fades late in front of a dangerous dynamic striker with a lot more tools than other opponents to beat him. Elizeu Zaleski via TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Zaleski: Bissell, Victor, Zane, Eddie
Staff picking Nurmagomedov: Lucas, Jack, Stephie, Anton, Kristen, Dayne, Chris
John Castaneda vs. Muin Gafurov
Victor Rodriguez: Yup, another personal sympathy pick. John Castañeda by TKO.
Zane Simon: If this fight were made on a full camp, I’d probably pick Gafurov automatically. His style of patient pressure striking into high control wrestling seems like it could play hell with Castaneda’s feet-planted counter-striking attacks. But it wasn’t made on a full camp. It was made on just a couple days notice. And despite having a few losses to his name, Castaneda is usually a fighter that has to be really soundly out-fought round after round after round for someone to get the win over him. I’ve seen Gafurov flag before, on DWCS. I’ll pick Castaneda, just for likely having a better chance to prepare. John Castaneda via decision.
Staff picking Castaneda: Bissell, Lucas, Stephie, Victor, Zane, Eddie, Chris
Staff picking Gafurov: Jack, Anton, Kristen, Dayne
Andrei Arlovski vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Victor Rodriguez: What the hell is this match? Who is booking this shit? And to what possible fucking end? Jesus Christ. Andrei Arlovski by decision.
Zane Simon: We’ve seen Arlovski fight a lot of lower tier heavyweights lately. And even some higher tier ones. The consistent story seems to be that if his opponent is a truly dynamic athlete and/or a more consistently technical striker, they can beat him, or potentially even run him over. But if it’s just a big guy who has scrappy brawls?