UFC on ESPN+ 20: Maia vs. Askren

Preview and Predictions for UFC on ESPN+ 20: Maia vs. Askren by Danny Rourke and Darell Garner 

The UFC heads to Asia this week for UFC on ESPN+20: Maia vs. Askren LIVE from Kallang, Singapore 🇸🇬. The time zone difference means that we get UFC for breakfast on Saturday morning beginning with the Prelims at 5:30AM/ET and the Main Card at 8:00AM/ET, with all the fights available on ESPN+. 
UFC Singapore Main Card Predictions 
Muslim Salikhov (-170) vs. Laureano Staropoli (+150)
To kickoff the Main Card, the “King of Kung Fu” Muslim Salikhov (15-2-0) takes on Laureano “El Matador” Staropoli (9-1-0) in a battle of exciting Welterweight prospects riding two fight win streaks. Muslim Salikhov has rebounded quite nicely from suffering a letdown in his promotional debut with stunning back to back knockouts of Ricky Rainey and Nordine Taleb. Both of Salikhov’s pro losses have come by Submission, but the King of Kung Fu has a highlight reel that includes fourteen stoppage wins. Laureano Staropoli is off to a 2-0 start to his UFC career with Unanimous Decision wins over Hector Aldana and veteran Thiago Alves extending his current impressive winning streak to seven. I expect these two to put on a show, but I expect the King of Kung Fu to eventually land a fight ending blow. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Salikhov via First Round KO 
D’Bo’s Picks: Salikhov via Second Round TKO 
Ciryl Gane (-350) vs. Don’tale Mayes (+290)
Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane (4-0-0) puts his perfect record on the line as he collides with “Lord Kong” Don’tale Mayes (7-2-0) in a Heavyweight contest. Born in Paris, France, Ciryl Gane started his pro MMA career last year by compiling a 3-0 record competing for TKO Major League MMA based out of Quebec, Canada. In his promotional debut at UFC Uruguay in August, Ciryl  Gane earned a First Round Submission victory over Raphael Pessao and has prematurely finished all four of his professional wins. Also on a four fight win streak, Don’tale Mayes earned his UFC contract in July  by knocking out Ricardo Prasel on Season 3 of Dana Whites Contender Series.  At 6’6 Mayes is a little too one dimensional in his approach but is dangerous opponent nonetheless, with TKO stoppages in five of his seven professional wins. This should be a fun Heavyweight fight, and I give the more dynamic Gane a good chance to get his hand raised and to remain undefeated. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Gane via First Round Submission 
D’Bo’s Picks: Mayes via Decision 
Beneil Dariush (-155) vs. Frank Camacho (+135)
Beneil Dariush (16-4-1) looks to keep the momentum rolling as he faces on Season 16 TUF alum Frank “The Crank” Camacho (22-7-0) in a Lightweight matchup. Despite a 2-3 record to begin his career with the UFC, Frank Camacho earned Performance of the Night bonuses in his first three Octagon appearances against Li Jianliang, Damian Brown and Drew Dober and is coming off of a dominant Second Round TKO win against  Nick Hein at UFC Stockholm in June. Beneil Dariush has dealt with adversity and met it head on with consecutive wins over Thiago Moises and Drew Dober to improve his UFC record to 10-4-1. Both Camacho and Dariush are very active and aggressive fighters, Dariush has a clear edge in the grappling department but Frank Camacho is tough and has seventeen wins by knockout under his belt to make this a very even matchup. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Dariush via Decision 
D’Bo’s Picks: Dariush via Decision 
Michael Johnson (-300) vs. Stevie Ray (+250)
Michael “The Menace” Johnson (20-14-0) boomerangs back to the Lightweight division as he meets Stevie “Braveheart” Ray (22-9-0)in the UFC Singapore Co-Main event. Stevie Ray and Michael Johnson have been seriously struggling as of late and their shared determination for a win should make this a pretty interesting contest, regardless of their recent track records. Stevie Ray is coming off of a tough KO defeat to Leonardo Santos in June at UFC Stockholm to fall to 6-4 inside the Octagon. Stevie Ray would like nothing more than to turn things around in his second stint with the UFC, and picking up a win over an established veteran like Michael Johnson would give a world of confidence to the scrappy Scot. In his return to 155 pounds Michael Johnson has promised a return to the Menace of old, but after losing four of his last six and following back to back stoppage losses to Darren Elkins and Josh Emmett at Featherweight, I don’t know if I am convinced that Johnson has another chapter left at Lightweight, or in the UFC for that matter. A lot is on the line in this matchup for both fighters in terms of fighter confidence and the maintaining a spot on the roster and expect Ray and Johnson to leave it all in there and to see how it all shakes out. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Ray via Second Round TKO
D’Bo’s Picks: Johnson via First Round TKO 
MAIN EVENT   #10 Demian Maia (+160) vs. #11 Ben Askren (-185)
In a grappler’s delight ,“Funky” Ben Askren (19-1-0) will look to use his wrestling to lead him to victory against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Demian Maia (27-9-0). In his first UFC Main Event, Ben Askren will be tasked with shaking a foreign feeling after suffering his first professional loss to in devastating fashion to Jorge Masvidal in July at UFC 239. Demian Maia consecutive wins over Tony Martin and Lyman Good have been a testament to the BJJ practitioner’s fighting spirit and suffering three straight losses to UFC Welterweight elites Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, and Kamaru Usman. Oddsmakers list Askren as a near 2-1 favorite, but it is stuff to imagine any Welterweight grappler or wrestler having an edge over Maia on the ground. This is a tough one to predict, but I have to believe Askren will find a way to victory to prevent suffering consecutive losses and to remain relevant in the always competitive 170 pound division. 
Danny’s Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Askren via Decision 
D’Bo’s Picks: Maia via Second Round Submission 

Next weekend, the UFC returns to the Empire State  in it’s third trip to Madison Square Garden for UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz. Share your thoughts and picks with us in the Comments section below, and enjoy the fights!! 

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