UFC Fight Night 218 takes place on Saturday night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Spivak Main Card
Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak
Lewis comes into 2023 with a lot to prove, having lost three of his last four fights, while Spivak is looking to make a push for a spot in the top 10 after winning five of his last six bouts.
Lewis is best known for his ferocious, fight-ending punching power that’s won him many a fight over the years, even when he appeared to be on the verge of defeat. However, while he’s dismantled many a chin, his own durability has now become an issue as he’s been finished via strikes in all three of his recent losses.
Lewis was actually supposed to fight Spivak back in November, but on the night of the fight had to withdraw after suffering from Covid, leading to him being taken to hospital. According to Lewis, he had to deal with it for a further three weeks after that, and though it’s not clear if there’s any link, it’s worth noting that he’s now visibly leaner than he was back in November as he heads into this rescheduled fight.
Almost a decade younger than Lewis, Spivak brings a more well-rounded set of skills to the Octagon. He’s capable on the feet, but he’s not the kind of heavy-hitter that’s been troubling Lewis’ chin lately. However, he does have solid takedowns and a very good ground game, with assured grabbling and technical submission ability operating alongside effective ground-and-pound.
Lewis tends to just rely on brute strength to get himself out of danger when he’s grounded and so Spivak will fancy his chances of using his superior technique to make the most of his advantage on the mat, as he did successfully against another heavy-handed slugger in Tai Tuivasa back in 2019.
The fact that Spivak has been TKO’d a couple of times in the first round against Tom Aspinall and Walt Harris will be a cause for concern here as he looks to close the distance, but nevertheless, I do feel he’ll be able to implement his game plan here, bringing Lewis down and submitting him in the second round.
Da Un Jung vs. Devin Clark
Jung went five fights unbeaten to start his UFC run, but suffered a first round KO loss last time out against Dustin Jacoby and now looks to rebound against Clark, who has lost three of his last four bouts and is coming off a TKO defeat.
Jung has a 4″ height and 3.5″ reach advantage here and he serves up a mix of good boxing and damaging elbows, capable wrestling and solid takedown defense. He’s certainly the more potent finisher here too, with 11 T(KO)’s from 15 career wins in addition to a couple of submission finishes. He has shown some inconsistency at times in his UFC run though, most notably struggling to make headway for much of his fight against Sam Alvey back in 2020, leading to a split-draw verdict.
Clark is a fairly decent all-rounder, but has never really managed to make a significant impact in the UFC, going 7-7 so far. He has a low-volume approach on the feet and isn’t a notable finisher, with only 4 TKO’s to his name from 13 career wins. He takes a fair amount of damage at times, but he can switch things up by going for takedowns and is the better wrestler of the two.
I think this is a fight where Jung should be able to keep the action standing though and use his higher volume and more impactful boxing to get the better of Clark and secure a third round TKO finish.
Marcin Tybura vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Another heavyweight encounter sees a clash of veterans as the 37-year-old Tybura looks to build on a solid 6-1 run over the past three years against the 36-year-old Ivanov, who has been far less active over the same period, going only 1-1.
Both men have a level of comfort wherever the fight goes. Tybura has a 4″ height and 5″ reach advantage and is the more active of the two in terms of his striking and movement, though he is slowing down as he gets older. Despite his small, squat stature, Ivanov is the more durable fighter though, having never been stopped by strikes in his career and only once by submission.
Both men are happy to operate in the clinch for extended periods, while Tybura will also look to utilize his wrestling and has solid ground-and-pound. In the past Ivanov was also a robust wrestler and grappler too, but it’s something we’ve not seen him really focus on for a number of years.
I don’t like Ivanov’s long period of inactivity, and while his chin is as sturdy as ever it feels like other aspects of his game are eroding, so I’m picking Tybura here. Age is catching up with him too and he’s not as durable as his opponent, but he still feels the fresher of the two overall and the fact he’s more active with his striking and more willing to use his wrestling should enable him to edge out a close and potentially not very exciting fight by decision.
Doo-Ho Choi vs. Kyle Nelson
Despite a strong start to his UFC career ‘The Korean Superboy’ Choi comes in to this fight after a long absence following three losses in a row, while Nelson has fared even worse, losing four of his five UFC fights so far.
It’s actually been three years since the now 31-year-old Choi last fought due to various injuries including knee surgery, a broken arm and an eye condition, so it’s hard to say how he’s going to perform on Saturday. We do know however is that before his lengthy absence he was a very exciting fighter to watch with his high-octane striking and serious knockout power in his punches. Choi was no stranger to getting hit in return though and that started to cause problems for him in his last couple of fights, which saw him TKO’d by both Jeremy Stephens and Charles Jourdain.
Unlike Choi, there’s been few bright spots for Nelson in his UFC run and he’s had a couple of losses due to strikes and one via submission along the way. He does have some power, but it’s hard to see him matching up well with the faster, harder-hitting, more active ‘Superboy’ on the feet, but he can wrestle so he may try to get something on the mat instead.
Despite concerns about Choi’s long layoff and injuries it just feels like he’s the significantly better fighter here on the feet and I think this match-up will offer him a great opportunity to serve a reminder of what he can do as he delivers a second round KO finish.
Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt
A TKO win on the Contender Series last year earned Kinoshita his spot in the UFC and in his debut he’ll be going up against Fugitt, who suffered a 69 second TKO loss in his own short-notice UFC debut last summer.
Kinoshita has looked promising in his career so far and is still only 22-years-old. He’s a good boxer with fast hands, considerable power, he works well on the counter too.
Fugitt has a solid muay thai background and has a very significant 5.5″ reach advantage to work with here, though while he likes to operate on the outside it’s his kicks that might be his most effective weapon here.
Fugitt can also wrestle, but I think this fight may be won and lost on the feet and feel Kinoshita has the speed and craft with his boxing ability to get the better of the exchanges and deliver a second round TKO finish.
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Spivak Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Ji Yeon Kim vs. Mandy Bohm
Jeka Saragih vs. Anshul Jubli
Zha Yi vs. Jeong Yeong Lee
Jun Yong Park vs. Denis Tiuliulin
Toshiomi Kazama vs. Rinya Nakamura
Seung Guk Choi vs. Hyun Sung Park
Tatsuro Taira vs. Jesus Santos Aguilar