UFC 293 is all set for Saturday night, with five fights on the main card and seven preliminary bouts taking place.
The event is headlined by Israel Adesanya’s Middleweight Championship defence against Sean Strickland, while other intriguing contests include Tai Tuivasa vs Alexander Volkov and Austen Lane going up against Justin Tafa.
All the action is set for the Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, with UFC 293 being the promotion’s sixth visit to Australia’s largest city, but the first return there since UFC Fight Night: Werdum versus Tybura in November 2017.
Here we preview some of the bouts on the main card, including picks for the Tafa-Lane showdown, the match-up between Tuivasa and Volkov, and the main event itself – Adesanya against Strickland.
Adesanya to beat Strickland via KO, TKO or Disqualification @ 6/5
It’s not a shock prediction to start with as Adesanya is the heavy favourite to successfully defend his Middleweight belt against American outsider Strickland.
This should be a fairly routine win for the Nigerian fighter. The 34-year-old is the current two-time Middleweight UFC champion and is expected to see off #5 challenger Strickland without too many issues.
Adesanya regained his UFC Middleweight Championship belt when beating Alex Pereira in their rematch in April following a disappointing loss to the Brazilian in November of last year.
The favourite, who has recorded 13 UFC wins with just two defeats on his record so far, could well get the job done early on Saturday.
He has the majority of the stats all in his favour – height, striking accuracy, career record, ranking and experience – as he goes up against his US opponent.
Strickland, who has a UFC record of 14 wins and five losses, has won his last two bouts, beating Russian Nassourdine Imavov in January and then Dagestan’s Abusupiyan Magomedov in July, but this represents a big step up.
The 32-year-old is likely to be dogged and determined as he attempts not to waste his shot at Middleweight glory, but significantly hurting Adesanya looks too big an ask.
Volkov to beat Tuivasa @ 4/9
Another favourite tipped to come out on top on the main card is Russian Volkov, who is set to have too much for Tuivasa in their heavyweight clash.
Second on the bill, there will be plenty of attention on this fight and Volkov appears to have all the tools to come out on top, despite being the #7 contender taking on his #6 rival.
Volkov beat Alexander Romanov by TKO in March and is the taller, heavier and more experienced of the pair.
He also boasts a significantly better striking accuracy (57% compared to Tuivasa’s 49%) and is sharing the octagon with an opponent desperately trying to get his UFC career back on track after losses to Ciryl Gane and Sergei Pavlovich last year.
Lane to beat Tafa @ 15/8
Finally, the Lane-Tafa heavyweight match-up between two unranked rivals looks set to be a much closer scrap than the previous two featured bouts, with Lane taken to defy his odds of 15/8 to win.
This is a rematch after their previous meeting in June was declared a no-contest when Lane unintentionally poked Tafa in the eye less than half a minute into the fight.
Lane, a former NFL player for the likes of Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, is the more experienced, with 12 pro career wins and three losses on his record, compared to just six wins and three losses for Tafa.
Before their first bout was ended prematurely, Lane had won his previous six fights and, although Tafa will be a very tough opponent, Lane is taken to claim a statement UFC win.