Wake yourself up bright and early, or just don’t sleep at all, for this weekend’s UFC event because it will start bright and early in North America. UFC Fight Night 162 or UFC on ESPN+ 20 will be held in Singapore on October 26. It will be a 5:30 a.m. start in the Eastern Time Zone for the prelim card and the main card will go off at 8 a.m. At least you can make it a full day of sports with college football after that.
In any event, we’ll break down this card with a main event of Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren and 10 additional fights. We usually see a lot of local fighters on UFC cards, but that really isn’t the case this week.
Heavyweights Raphael Pessoa and Jeff Hughes get underway, with Hughes the -250 favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Pessoa is coming off of his first career loss, which came at the hands of Ciryl Gane, who will be a rapidly rising prospect in the heavyweight division, if he isn’t already. Hughes, a Dana White Contender Series find, seems like a big favorite here, given that he’s 0-1 with a Could Not Continue in his official UFC fights. Pessoa is a live dog here.
In the strawweight division, Aleksandra Albu and Loma Lookboonmee make up one of the two women’s fights on the card. Lookboonme hails from Thailand and is 3-1 in her career. At the age of 21, it would seem like she’s giving up some experience to the 29-year-old Albu, but Albu only has four official MMA fights on her resume. She lost to Emily Whitmire earlier this year in her first fight in 18 months. She’s technically 2-1 in UFC. This is a really hard fight to call, with little to go on with each girl. Lookboonme is a -125 favorite.
Maurice Greene is +195 to Sergei Pavlovich’s 13-1 in another heavyweight fight. Pavlovich is giving up four inches to Greene, but his long limbs could serve him well as he still maintains a reach advantage. Greene, who was on cycle 28 of The Ultimate Fighter, lost in the semifinals, but impressed enough to get a contract. He’s won all three fights since then. Pavlovich beat Marcelo Golm earlier this year after a loss to Alistair Overeem to start his UFC career. It is best to look to the dog in fairly even heavyweight fights and that’s true of this one as well.
Undefeated Movsar Evloev is a -175 favorite against Enrique Barzola at 145 pounds. Barzola is 17-4-1 in his career and has fared well of late with wins in four of his last five. The 25-year-old Evloev had a nice win over Seungwoo Choi and is now stepping up in class a bit as he tries to keep his perfect 11-0 record in tact. He was a titleholder with several defenses in M-1 and looks like a good parlay piece here.
Alex White is +170 and Rafael Fiziev is -200 in this lightweight matchup at UFC on ESPN+ 20. The 31-year-old White has suffered all five career losses in UFC since joining the promotion in 2014. He is coming off of a nice win over Dan Moret to snap a two-fight winning streak. For Fiziev, this is his second career UFC fight after getting knocked out in 86 seconds my Magomed Mustafaev. He’s a big favorite to bounce back here, deservedly so, and looks like a good pairing with Evloev in the previous fight.
The main event of the prelim card is the only other women’s fight on the docket with Randa Markos against Ashley Yoder. Markos was originally scheduled to face Yan Xiaonan, but Yan pulled out of the fight about a month ago due to injury. Markos is -155 in this one as she looks to avoid falling to .500 in her pro career. She’s 2-2-1 in her last five fights, including a win over Angela Hill and a loss to Claudia Gadelha this year. Yoder lost three straight decisions before beating Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo in her last two fights. She’s on an upswing, but Markos is just the better all-around fighter.
Laureano Staropoli (+155) vs. Muslim Salikhov (-175)
The entire card is on ESPN+, but this is the first fight of the main card between Laureano Staropoli and Muslim Salikhov. This is the third fight in the UFC for Staropoli, as he has wins over Hector Aldana and Thiago Alves, both by unanimous decision. Staropoli is 9-1 in his career and has a little bit of a height advantage here. His reduced striking ability in his first two UFC fights could be the reason for the underdog line here, as it’s hard to fault most of what he’s done in his career. That being said, this is the first time he’s fought twice in a year since 2015.
Muslim Salikhov has showcased the punching and striking power in the UFC. Salikhov has back-to-back knockout wins after suffering his second career loss in his UFC debut. Salikhov’s most recent knockout, a first-round win over Nordine Taleb, came at UFC 242. That makes this a quick turnaround for him of less than two months, but he didn’t take any punishment in that Taleb fight.
Pick: Muslim Salikhov
Don’Tale Mayes (+300) vs. Ciryl Gane (-360)
Ciryl Gane is a big prospect in the heavyweight division and it’s extremely difficult to see him losing anytime soon until steps up in class a little bit more. Don’Tale Mayes was very impressive in his third try on the Dana White Contender Series. He’ll get his chance here to really prove himself, but the 27-year-old will likely be outgunned here by Gane.
Pick: Ciryl Gane
Frank Camacho (+140) vs. Beneil Dariush (-160)
Frank Camacho scored his first knockout win in nearly three years with his second-round victory over Nick Hein back in June. He’ll try to do the same here, but it won’t come easy against Beneil Dariush. Camacho had lost three of four fights before the matchup against Hein.
This line seems light with that in mind, doesn’t it? Maybe Dariush hasn’t been the fighter that everybody thought he’d be earlier in his career. He’s just 2-2-1 over his last five fights. But, he’s still an extremely talented fighter, just one that hasn’t lived up to his potential as of yet. Dariush is riding wins over Drew Dober and Thiago Moises, so he hasn’t beaten good fighters, but he’s gotten some confidence back and maybe that will be enough.
Pick: Beneil Dariush
Stevie Ray (+250) vs. Michael Johnson (-310)
Stevie Ray has dropped three of his last four fights and it looks like he is very likely to drop another one in this bout. He’s a +250 underdog in this matchup against Michael Johnson. Ray has lost to Leonardo Santos, Kajan Johnson, and Paul Felder, with a decision win over Jessin Ayari in his last few scraps. He hasn’t been impressive.
Johnson’s record is unimpressive, but the 33-year-old has lost to the likes of Justin Gaethje and Nate Diaz in his career. He’s just 3-5 in his last eight fights, with losses to Dariush and those aforementioned losses to Gaethje and Diaz. This is a step down in class for him, as the line suggests. He’s an open parlay piece or something to pair with some of the lesser fighters on the undercard.
Pick: Michael Johnson
Demian Maia (+160) vs. Ben Askren (-185)
How does Ben Askren respond from his first career loss? The One Championship champion made his UFC debut and beat Robbie Lawler. Then he lost in five seconds to Jorge Masvidal. He’ll get a chance to get back on the right track against Demian Maia. Maia, who is 41 years old now, is fighting for the third time this year. He’s actually won both of his previous fights over Lyman Good and Anthony Martin. Before that, Maia was losing to quality fighters like Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and Tyron Woodley.
It is interesting to see how Askren will do here as he gets another chance. Askren spent a lot of time being a champion in smaller promotions. He’s 1-1 in UFC and seems to have a big head about his ability and has been very selective with who he wants to fight. It seems he wants Maia, who had his time in the spotlight and is now on the downside of his career, despite the two wins. In all honesty, looking at Maia here does make some sense.
Pick: Demian Maia