UFC Fight Night 221 Picks: Petr Yan vs Merab Dvalishvili, Alexander Volkov vs Alexander Romanov, plus 3 more
For the fourth time in as many weeks, the UFC is in Las Vegas for an adroit bantamweight matchup occurring at The Theater at Virgin Hotels this Saturday, Mar. 11.
At UFC Fight Night 221, former champion Petr Yan takes center stage of the octagon, aiming to get back in the win column for the first time since 2021. Yan faces a worthy contender, while the rest of the card is sprinkled with compelling contests, including a re-scheduled main event now set for the middle of this main card.
Continue reading for picks and a preview of UFC Fight Night 221. In 2023, my picks are 20-6-2.
UFC Fight Night 221 Main Card
Bantamweight: Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Heavyweight: Alexander Volkov vs. Alexander Romanov
Catchweight: Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann
Featherweight: Ricardo Ramos vs. Austin Lingo
Bantamweight: Said Nurmagomedov vs. Jonathan Martinez
UFC Fight Night 221 Prelims
Light heavyweight: Vitor Petrino vs. Anton Turkalj
Heavyweight: Karl Williams vs. Lukasz Brzeski
Bantamweight: Raphael Assunção vs. Davey Grant
Middleweight: Sedriques Dumas vs. Josh Fremd
Bantamweight: Mario Bautista vs. Guido Cannetti
Flyweight: Ariane Lipski vs. JJ Aldrich
Bantamweight: Victor Henry vs. Tony Gravely
Flyweight: Tyson Nam vs. Bruno Silva
Welterweight: Carlston Harris vs. Jared Gooden
Petr Yan (16-4) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (15-4)
In what may be the toughest, deepest division in the company, Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili headline the card in a battle of brutal bantamweight brawlers.
Yan, a former bantamweight champion, enters the fight in the toughest stretch of his career, compiling a 1-3 record over his last four fights. Yan is yet to recover from his first title defense when he notably kneed a downed opponent, disqualifying himself, making Aljamain Sterling the first fighter ever to win a belt by disqualification. Since, Yan has lost the rematch to Sterling and was defeated in a tough split decision victory in October against the “Sugar Show,” Sean O’Malley. He needs a win now more than ever, and earning a victory over the number three-ranked Dvalishvili would be a fabulous bounceback.
On the other hand, Dvalishvili enters the fight in the best stretch of his career on an eight-fight win streak. The Georgian is looking to add another former champion to his win resumé after defeating Jose Aldo in August. Dvalishvili is willing to stand but has superb wrestling and takedown skills. Dvalishvili is tenth all-time in UFC history with 63 takedowns landed. The only issue with Dvalishvili is his power, with seven of his eight victories coming by decision.
Look for Yan to fend off Dvalishvili’s takedowns, and if he does, he has superior striking talent.
My pick: Petr Yan
Alexander Volkov (35-10) vs. Alexander Romanov (16-1)
Alexander Romanov is looking to crack the top ten in this heavyweight clash against Alexander Volkov.
Just two years older than Romanov, Volkov has 28 more professional fights and has faced much loftier fighters. Romanov is returning to the octagon after the first loss of his career, and a win against Volkov would be his largest to date. In Romanov’s first six UFC bouts, he’s managed at least two takedowns in all appearances.
Volkov has a five-inch reach advantage, weighs 15 more pounds, and has significantly more experience inside the cage. Romanov can close the gap with his ground game, but one punch can shut a fighter's lights out, especially in the heavyweight division.
My pick: Alexander Volkov
Nikita Krylov (29-9) vs. Ryan Spann (21-7)
Scheduled to headline UFC Vegas 70 two weeks ago, Nikita Krylov is now healthy after pulling out with an illness to take on Ryan Spann in what’s set to be an exciting bout between two top ten light heavyweights.
Krylov has been with the company since 2013 and has faced worthy opponents on his way to the top of the ladder, including Magomed Ankalaev and former light heavyweight champions Jan Blachowicz, Glover Teixeira, and Alexander Gustafsson. In July, Krylov put together a dismantling performance facing Gustafsson, finishing him in just over a minute.
Spann is a fan's delight. In his last five appearances in the octagon, all have failed to exit the first round. Former champion challenger Dominick Reyes was the latest victim, getting knocked out with a brutal one-two combination. Spann’s a finisher, with five out of seven fights finished via stoppage. Since joining the UFC, he poses a 7-2 record.
My pick: Nikita Krylov
Ricardo Ramos (16-4) vs. Austin Lingo (9-1)
Featherweight Ricardo Ramos eagerly awaits Austin Lingo for their matchup after a nearly two-year layoff for Lingo.
Lingo will look for his third straight victory since last fighting in the summer of 2021, while Ramos is making his first appearance since his marvelous spinning back elbow finish of Danny Chavez last summer. Ramos owns two of five spinning back elbow knockouts in UFC history and is a versatile finisher.
Both men are offensively oriented and can finish each other in a multitude of fashions, but time off could be the deciding factor.
My pick: Ricardo Ramos
Said Nurmagomedov (17-2) vs. Jonathan Martinez (17-4)
The main event isn’t the only enthralling bantamweight matchup on the main card as Said Nurmagomedov and Jonathan Martinez duel in a battle of explosive contenders looking to earn a fifth straight victory.
Despite widespread rumors, Nurmagomedov is not related to Khabib Nurmagomedov. The Russian has only lost once in his first seven outings in the UFC but proved vulnerable in his last fight until finishing his opponent with a guillotine choke. Martinez is 8-3 in the UFC, putting together a two-fight win streak three times in his career. This is the best Martinez has ever looked, coming off a win against veteran Cub Swanson where he repeatedly battered his leg, forcing a stoppage. Nurmagomedov and Martinez are both willing fighters, each making three appearances in 2022.
Both fighters have a wide range of techniques and have been very active, making this a very competitive matchup.
My pick: Said Nurmagomedov
You can watch both the prelims (3 PM EST) and main card (6 PM EST) on ESPN+.