UFC Picks & Predictions Fight Night: Allen vs. Curtis 2

VSiN Primetime producer Britton Hess has some strong takes on the UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Curtis 2 card and put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard) to hammer out his thoughts on every fight on the docket.

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Last Week: 5-3 (+4.52 Units)

Article History: 20-16 (+11.47 Units)


Last Week Pick’em Recap: 8-5 (61.5%)

Article History: 36-27 (57.14%)


Brendan ‘All In” Allen (-225) versus Chris “The Action Man” Curtis (+185)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-166) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+180)

Allen is one of the hottest fighter’s in the UFC’s middleweight division. He has put together six wins a row, with 5 of those victories coming via rear naked choke. He has 11 wins inside the octagon with just two defeats and has finished 8 of those opponents. He is also peaking physically at just 28 years old. His age combined with his octagon experience means that he has to be on the short list of 185 pounders to be in the title conversation one day.

Although Allen has made a name for himself in the UFC with his submissions, he has successfully out-struck 8 of his 13 UFC opponents. He lost two of the bouts in which he was out-struck (Both via KO). He has a solid significant strike accuracy number at 54%. And if you remove his losses from the equation, he is landing 38% more significant strikes than his opponents which is quite dominant. That said, it is important to look at his body of work with every opponent included, because the two fighters that beat him in the UFC are of a similar breed, they are teammates at Xtreme Couture, Sean Strickland and Chris Curtis.

What are some defining characteristics of top Xtreme Couture middleweights? Crisp hands, and great takedown defense. When Allen and Curtis first fought in December of 2021, Allen was 0/3 on takedown attempts. Through his UFC career, Curtis boasts a 92% takedown defense rate.

However, now Curtis is on the wrong side of 35, and “The Action Man” certainly has seen some action since they last fought. He won a high paced war versus Marc-Andre Barriault in January where both fighters landed 120+ significant strikes. He also went the distance versus Kelvin Gastelum in a decision loss. Chris Curtis has a 5-2, 1 NC record in the UFC and has never been finished in MMA’s top organization. The only opponent to successfully take Curtis down was Nassourdine Imavov in a fight that was called a no contest due to an accidental clash of heads. Brendan Allen does not have wrestling, or the striking to set it up, on Imavov’s level.

A wildcard for this bout will be how each fighter deals with a five round fight. Chris Curtis has not been past round three since 2020 on the regional circuit. Allen’s last fight was scheduled for five rounds, but he beat Paul Craig early in the third. His last foray into championship rounds was in 2019 while fighting in LFA. In that organization he had a 2-2 record in fights that went 25 minutes, with both losses coming to current active UFC fighters Anthony Hernandez and Eryk Anders.

When looking at both fighter’s striking metrics, It is clear who has the upper hand on the feet, Curtis. Throughout his octagon career he has landed 2.09 more significant strikes per minute than Allen. He has also been hit with almost three more significant strikes per minute. But that may have more to do with his opponents than his ability to defend. His striking defense rate is 53% where Allen’s is just 46%. When these guys fought before both were able to find the target, but Curtis did it more often with more power.

Everything about this fight tells me Curtis is undervalued, and he still has the blueprint for defeating Allen. Curtis’s strength of schedule since they last met has been tougher than Allen’s. Curtis’s age is a concern, as is the length of this fight. But age alone is not enough to get me off Curtis. And regarding the length of the fight, Curtis has shown a gas tank in all of his decision fights in the UFC. He was the scorecard winner of the third round in all four, despite two of them being decision losses. He outstruck his opponent in the third round in three of his fights that went the distance.

Fight Winner: Chris Curtis

Bet: Chris Curtis (+185), 1 Unit to Win 1.85

Fight Does Not Go Distance (-200), 2 units to Win 1


Alexander “The Great Ape” Hernandez (-205) vs Damon “The Leech” Jackson (+170)

Over 2.5 Rounds (+130) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-166)

Six years ago, Hernandez entered the UFC with a first round knockout victory over Dariush as a +350 underdog. He followed that up by beating the now 2-time PFL world Champion, Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Since those two statement victories Hernandez’s career has been up and down, with more down recently as he is 1-3 in his last four fights. His first nine fights in the UFC were at 155 pounds, but for his last three he has cut down to 145. This fight is now a catchweight set at 147.5 pounds because during weigh-ins Hernandez split the lightweight and featherweight limits, coming in at 150 pounds. A weight miss that significant definitely raises some red flags, especially after he made the cut successfully his last three times out. I’m not sure if the missed weight was due to injury or lack of interest, but either way it is not a good look for a fighter who hasn’t won a fight as less than a -235 favorite since his second octagon appearance in July 2019.

Jackson has a very specific fighting style. 61% of the minutes he has spent in his 10 UFC fights have been in the clinch or on the ground. He is a grappler and a jiu-jitsu ace that always wants the fight to take place where he is most comfortable. He can be outclassed with regards to striking, and usually is. He boasts an abysmal 40% accuracy when it comes to significant strikes, and coming back, half of his opponents shots land.

Hernandez possesses more power and attacks with more volume than Jackson, especially in early rounds. But, in the past, we have seen Hernandez gas out and be bested in fights where he is ahead on the scorecards. The problem with handicapping this fight is the unknown regarding Hernandez’s health and the weight cut. If both fighters came in clean, the picture of this fight would be much clearer.

Fight Winner: Alexander Hernandez

BET: Pass

Morgan “The Last Pirate” Charriere (-142) versus Chepe “Machine Gun” Mariscal (+120)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-220) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+160)

Although these fighters are new to the UFC (three combined fights), they are rich in MMA experience. Charriere is a veteran of notable European organization Cage Warriors, and fought in the UFC at last September’s fight night card in Paris. Mariscal also has a Cage Warriors victory to his name, and has also racked up wins in LFA and Cage Fury. Although discerning the differences in fighter’s pre-UFC resumes can be a bit ambiguous, it is clear Mariscal saw elite competition in the minor leagues. Eight of his pre-UFC opponents have been, or currently are, on the UFC roster.

Charriere’s octagon debut was against another Europe based fighter in Manolo Zecchini. Charriere was a big step up for his opponent and ended up finishing the fight with a body kick in Round 1. Overall he has a 19-9-1 record with 11 KO victories and three subs. He has only been finished once, via ankle lock. Chepe Mariscal is 15-6 with two wins as an underdog in the UFC. Five of his six losses have come from guys who have seen the bright lights of the UFC, and the other has a Bellator victory under his belt.

Situations like these are usually pretty straightforward to me. The fight is about a pick’em and I think one fighter has a vastly superior resume. Mariscal can muck up this fight and prevent comfortably finding the range for Charriere’s power strikes. Additionally he has proven to be adept at securing takedowns and keeping his opponents on the ground when they get there.

Fight Winner: Chepe Mariscal

Bet: Chepe Mariscal (+120), Risk 1 Unit to Win 1.2

Ignacio “La Jaula” Bahamondes (-340) versus Christos “The Spartan” Giagos (+270)

Over 1.5 Rounds (-180) | Under 1.5 Rounds (+270)

At 6’3” tall and with a 76” reach, Bahamondes is an outlier at the 155 pound weight class. He uses his size to keep the distance and attack his opponents when they are not in a position to strike back. He is 3-2 in the UFC with two KO victories and a decision win versus Trey Ogden. He lost his UFC debut to veteran John Makdessi via split decision,and was bested by fellow striker Ludovit Klein via decision in his last time out. Despite being predominantly a striker, he boasts a solid 85% takedown defense rate. He lands 6.97 significant strikes per minute in the octagon, and avoids 57% of the strikes his opponents throw back at him.

Giagos is a UFC veteran with a 6-7 UFC record. Generally he wins fights when he is able to secure takedowns and control his opponents. Bahamondes was taken down three times in his last fight so on the surface it appears that a path to victory will be available. But Klein is a much more crisp striker which meant Bahamondes could not pay as much attention to takedown defense. Additionally, Giagos’s significant strike defense is 51% which is not ideal when he is facing a younger, and longer fighter who is constantly active on the feet.

Fight Winner: Ignacio Bahamondes

Bet: Parlay Piece, see below

Lukasz “The Bull” Brzeski (+185) versus Valter “The Clean Monster” Walker (-225)

Over 1.5 Rounds (-180) | Under 1.5 Rounds (+140)

Brzeski entered the UFC with a solid regional MMA record of 7-1-1. He won a Contender Series fight that was eventually overturned due to testing positive for a banned substance. He has three fights in the UFC and they have been humbling. He went the distance versus both Martin Buday and Karl Williams but saw the wrong side of the decisions. Most recently, he gave Waldo Cortes-Acosta his first UFC KO. The split decision loss to Buday was a bit controversial because he outstruck his opponent 118 to 66, however over half of his strikes were to the body and legs; Buday was much more active and accurate with head strikes. But regardless of the results, he has for the most part shown he is a tough fighter that does not struggle to remain active in later rounds. Additionally, he is a small heavyweight, weighing in at 236 pounds.

Walker is entering the UFC with a perfect 11-0 record. Seven of his victories have come via finish, and he also has a UFC pedigree as the brother of ranked light heavyweight, Johnny Walker. Additionally he comes from a strong camp, GOR MMA, which recently had two fighters secure their first UFC victories, Shara Magomedov and Bogdan Guskov. And he is huge, at 6’6” and 264 pounds.

But when watching film on Walker, it’s hard to not notice his record may be better than his resume. Five of his opponents had two or fewer professional fights under their belts when they met Walker. His last opponent was for a Titan FC heavyweight championship vs. someone who once fought in the UFC (as a LHW and middleweight), Alex Nicholson, but as of late has mostly been focused on non-traditional martial arts formats. Before that he fought the 40 year old, and extremely undersized Cassio de Olviera who last took a fight at 170 pounds. Before that he fought Ramadan Mohammed, who is an MMA journeyman in his 40s currently holding a 6-5 record as a pro. Walker overpowers his opponents with grappling and ground control. From there he lays on the ground and pound and more often than not gets the finish. However he is hittable. He does not move his head well and is a bit robotic on his feet.

I think Brzeski is intended to be a relatively soft landing for Walker in the UFC due to the size discrepancy and his recent results. That said I don’t think it will be an easy night of work for Walker, especially if Brzeski can maintain space and land his signature leg kicks. All of Brzeski’s UFC opponents (including Martin Buday!) are much more fluid on their feet than Walker on film.

Fight Winner: Lukasz Brzeski

Bet: Lukasz Brzeski (+185). 1 Unit to Win 1.85

Trevor Peek (+140) versus Charlie “The Cannibal” Campbell (-166)

Over 1.5 Rounds (+120) | Under 1.5 Rounds (-150)

The UFC matchmakers gave the fans a gift with this fight between two exciting prospects in the lightweight division. Peek was 7-0 before seeing his first defeat, it was his second UFC fight and a decision loss to Chepe Mariscal. Prior to that fight, he had won every trip into the cage via KO in the first or second round. After that fight he went on to defeat Mohammed Yahya via decision while out striking, and more surprisingly out grappling his opponent. He has a reputation for always being on the gas and always in his opponent’s face, willing to eat a strike in hopes of returning one that is much harder.

Campbell is a product of the Longo and Weidman MMA gym. He has an 8-2 record with six of those victories coming via KO. He lost in the Contender Series to Chris Duncan via KO but was still given an opportunity in the UFC. He fought 36 year old veteran Alex Reyes who was coming off a six year injury break.Campbell showed excellent striking accuracy and touched his opponent with the end of his punches routinely. He is definitely the cleaner and more fluid striker in this matchup.

That said, Reyes was still able to find openings in Campbells defense. He just didn’t have the power to match his opponent, or the chin to withstand his return strikes. If nothing else, and he may not have any other exemplary MMA traits, Trevor Peek has a chin, and he has power. Peek also showed development in his last fight. He didn’t gas himself out chasing the finish and won the 2nd and third round on each of the judges’ scorecards. I think Peek has leveled up his game after his last three trips to the octagon versus real UFC competition. Campbell’s first UFC win came relatively easy. That will not be the case when the doors close on him and Peek. If Campbell can maintain distance and try to point fight, he should win, he has the reach advantage and the more sophisticated striking game. If he lets Peek inside, he is in for a long night. And if he invites the brawl he is playing right into Peek’s game.

Fight Winner: Trevor Peek

Bet: Trevor Peek (+140), 1 Unit to Win 1.4

Court “The Crusher” McGee (+245) versus Alex “The Great White” Morono (-310)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-135) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+105)

McGee is 10-11 in the UFC. Morono is 12-6. Rarely will you see this much experience in both corners of the cage. At age 39, McGee’s best days are long gone, he has a 2-5 record dating back to 2019. His strength of schedule has been excellent, but the results just haven’t been there. He has been KO’d in the first round of his last two fights, including last year when he faced the “The Immortal” Matt Brown who hadn’t had a first round KO victory since 2017. Despite the chin issues, throughout his career he has put together solid striking defense numbers, avoiding 60% of what his opponents throw at him. In all 10 of his UFC victories he has landed more takedowns than his opponents.

Alex Morono is only 33, but has already been in the UFC for 8 years. He stays active and never turns down an opportunity to perform. This will be his 5th trip to the cage in under two years. Eight of his 12 UFC victories have gone to the scorecards, with two KOs and two submissions. Four of his losses have gone to the scorecards, with the other two coming via KO; versus Khaos Williams, and up a weight class versus Santiago Ponzinibbio. He doesn’t have immaculate takedown defense, but he will be the much more fluent striker and he has good enough jiu-jitsu to stay out of trouble on the ground.

Fight Winner: Alex Morono

Bet: Parlay Piece, see below

Norma “The Immortal” Dumont (-135) vs Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie (+114)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-315) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+230)

De Randamie is making her return to the octagon after a 3.5 year layoff that was prolonged due to injury. She is now 39 and a long way from 2017 when she beat Holly Holm to win the UFC Women’s Featherweight strap. She opted to not defend that title versus Cris Cyborg due to Cyborg’s repeated PED offenses. She moved down to 135 pounds, put together two more wins, and faced Amanda Nunes in a title fight. She lost to Nunes (who also beat her in 2013). To this day, the woman’s GOAT, Amanda Nunes is the only person to defeat de Randamie in the UFC. Prior to committing to MMA, she was a 46-0 Kickboxing champion.

Dumont is also a former UFC Women’s Featherweight, but now that the division is gone she is back at 135. She is on a four fight win streak and has a 6-2 UFC record. She has excellent striking defense and hardly ever gets hit because she is adept at controlling opponents in the clinch and on the ground. She attempts more than one takedown per round and averages securing 1.39 per 15 minutes in the octagon.

This fight has seen a huge shift in the odds. Dumont opened as a -205 favorite but we have seen a steady stream of de Randamie money. I agree with the move. Germaine de Radamie is a unique opponent to face and no one besides Amanda Nunes has been able to solve the puzzle in the UFC. De Randamie has definitely aged, but she has also been inactive. I think she should be the favorite in this fight.

Fight Winner: Germaine de Radamie

Bet: Germaine de Randamie (+114), 1 Unit to Win 1.14

Pedro “Pedrinho” Falcao (+114) versus Victor “Striker” Hugo (-135)

Over 2.5 Rounds (+105) | Under 2.5 Rounds (-125)

Hugo’s original opponent, Alatengheili Alateng, became sick earlier this week and had to withdraw from the fight. Enter Falcao who won his Contender Series fight in 2021, but was not immediately signed to the promotion. He took a break from MMA before appearing on the regional scene last year and winning via submission versus a UFC alum in Leonardo Morales. He is riding a five-fight win streak and has an 8-1 record in the Shooto Brazil promotion. His loss coming via shoulder injury in 2018. With that fight removed, he has not lost since 2015. He is better than your baseline late replacement level fighter, and has a long history of success in the sport.

Hugo won via kneebar in the Contender Series last October. He is on a 13-fight win streak dating back to 2015. He is a big bantamweight and is making the cut down to 135 for the first time since 2017. He will have a five-inch reach advantage versus Falcao. Despite the long winning streak, his opponents have not been all that pedigreed, predominantly veterans of C-tier MMA organizations. It is hard to have a strong opinion on this short notice fight with two newcomers to MMA’s biggest stage.

Fight Winner: Pedro Falcao

Bet: Pass

Dan “The Determine” Argueta (+145) versus Jean Matsumoto (-175)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-245) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+185)

Argueta’s UFC career has been plagued with false starts. In 2021, when he was on the Ultimate Fighter TV series, he lost his bout via decision to Ricky Turcios who ended up winning the whole thing. Then in 2022 he took a late-notice fight up a weight class versus Damon Jackson. He was all game and quite determined to get a result, but ultimately lost on the scorecards. He then took care of business as a big favorite versus replacement fighter Nick Aguirre (Isaac Dulgarian was the original opponent). After that he was an underdog to Ronnie Lawrence and sunk in a submission in the first round. It looked clean, but ultimately video review determined it was a premature stoppage and the bout was ruled a no contest. After that he lost a decision to Miles Johns, but that fight too was ruled a no contest after Johns was popped for a banned performance enhancing drug. That is a lot of asterisks on five fights involving Argueta and the UFC. But Argueta is still determined and will have his hands full versus an undefeated prospect.

Matsumoto won his Contender Series bout via decision and is riding a 13-fight winning streak. Like Argueta, Matsumoto’s highest level before entering the octagon was LFA. He was 2-0 in that organization (Argueta was 5-0). In the Contender Series, Matsumoto’s opponent landed 99 significant strikes and three takedowns. If he cannot avoid getting taken down by Argueta he is likely to be in trouble. His safest path to victory should be on the feet as Argueta is not much of a threat in a point fight. This fight opened with Matsumoto as the -205 favorite and there has been considerable line movement towards Argueta. I have a feeling there will be even more by the time the fight begins.

Fight Winner: Dan Argueta

Bet: Dan Argueta (+145), 1 Unit To Win 1.45

Dylan “The Mindless Hulk” Budka (-142) versus Cesar “Cesinha” Almeida (+120)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-180) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+140)

Almeida is 36 years old with a 4-0 MMA record. He is here because he is a decorated kickboxing champion who went 1-2 in a trilogy with 2x UFC Champion Alex “Poatan” Perreira. He won a Contender series fight in August of last year via decision. In the Contender Series, his opponent attempted 10 takedowns and was successful on just three. His three prior UFC bouts were via knockout, and were intermixed with his kickboxing career. If he can stay on his feet, he will be dangerous, as the more accurate, more voluminous striker with better defense.

Budka better not be a mindless hulk versus Almeida. He has a 7-2 professional record and has never been knocked out. Four of his last five fights have come via decision. He has two victories via submission, and one via knockout (nine seconds into the first round versus a 2-10 fighter). He is only 24 years old, so it is understandable that his pre-UFC resume is not all that impressive. He has seen two opponents with double digit fights and a winning record and has split those results. Azamat Bekoev defeated him via split decision for the LFA interim middleweight championship and he beat Chad Hanekom in Contender Series. Outside of those two opponents he has not seen anyone with meaningful experience. But that is still more experience than Almeida has faced in MMA.

This is a tough task for Budka. He is still early in his martial arts career and is fighting someone who has decades of success versus high level competition. But this isn’t kickboxing, there are a lot of unknown variables in this matchup, but I lean towards the older fighter. The only thing I am willing to bet on is randomness with so many unknowns present. Budka has never seen a striker like Almeida, and Almeida has never seen a UFC caliber fighter with multiple submission victories.

Fight Winner: Cesar Almeida

Bet: Under 2.5 Rounds (+140), Bet 1 Unit to Win 1.4

Melissa Tonya “No Mess” Mullins (-355) versus Nora “Wonder” Cornolle (+280)

Over 2.5 Rounds (-215) | Under 2.5 Rounds (+165)

This fight is unique for two reasons, it is a clash of two Europeans at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and both fighters missed weight by about two pounds. Mullins is 6-0 with three KO finishes, including one versus Darya Zheleznyakova who won her UFC debut two weeks ago. Mullins won her UFC debut via decision as a -150 favorite. She kept that fight standing and dominated the clinch. She outstruck and was more accurate than her opponent. She was unsuccessful on her one takedown attempt and was taken down once, but still managed to have 3:06 of control time in that round.

Cornolle made her UFC debut last fall in her native France at Accor Arena in Paris. She beat Joselyne Edwards in a near pick’em fight. Edwards had 8:42 seconds of control time,because she landed five of her eight takedown attempts.. But Cornolle out-significant-struck her 40 to 18.

The odds in this fight are the result of Mullins’ dominant pre-UFC performance of Zheleznyakova and the fact she can win fights while striking and grappling simultaneously. This fight opened with Mullins at -250 and significant money has been on her side.

Fight Winner: Melissa Tonya Mullins

Bet: Parlay: Bahamondes/Morono/Mullins (+118), 1 Unit to Win 1.18


Chris Curtis (+185), 1 Unit to Win 1.85

Allen/Curtis: Fight Does Not Go Distance (-200), 2 units to Win 1

Chepe Mariscal (+120), Risk 1 to Win 1.2

Lukasz Brzeski (+185). 1 Unit to Win 1.85

Trevor Peek (+140), 1 Unit to Win 1.4

Germaine de Randamie (+114), 1 Unit to Win 1.14

Dan Argueta (+145), 1 Unit To Win 1.45

Budka/Almeida Under 2.5 Rounds (+140), Bet 1 Unit to Win 1.4

Parlay: Bahamondes/Morono/Mullins (+118), 1 Unit to Win 1.18