The main card of UFC 256 will get underway on December 12 at 10 p.m. ET (3 a.m. GMT), featuring four highly anticipated matchups in preparation for the main event.
AmericanGambler.com breaks down each fight and provides results predictions for each bout, complete with moneyline odds provided by United States sportsbooks.
The main card of UFC 256: Predictions
Renato Moicano (+135) vs. Rafael Fiziev (-160)
One of the fights that’s helped this UFC 256 card garner so much attention, Renato Moicano will face Rafael Fiziev just prior to the two ‘main events’ getting underway.
Originally scheduled to fight in November before Moicano (14-3) tested positive for COVID-19, this pair will meet in a bout that promises to propel its victor straight up in the UFC lightweight rankings.
It will be only the second time “Mohawk” has fought at 155 pounds, owing to him entering as the +135 moneyline underdog at William Hill NJ. Fiziev (8-1) has won two in a row—both by decision—since losing his UFC debut to Magomed Mustafaev, and he comes back as the -160 odds leader.
We’re set for a classic clash of styles as 31-year-old Moicano—who suffered back-to-back knockout defeats at featherweight before moving up a division—looks to enforce his submission skills. However, the old adage dictates that every fight starts off standing, and Fiziev, 27, has deservedly drummed up a lot of interest due in large part to his movement and striking talents.
All three of Moicano’s career defeats have been finishes (two knockouts, one submission), and despite having a slight height and reach advantage, it’s here that the move up to lightweight may become more telling.
Fiziev has yet to collect a KO win in the UFC but knocked out five of his six opponents prior to joining the promotion, and grappling specialist Moicano could make the ideal target.
Prediction: Fiziev via KO/TKO (+250)
Kevin Holland (-115) vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (-105)
Kevin Holland is gunning for the rare achievement of winning five UFC fights in a calendar year when he faces Jacare Souza at UFC 256 on Saturday (Dec. 12).
This fight sits on a knife’s edge, and the close margins are represented by the sportsbooks, with Holland a -115 moneyline leader at Pointsbet, a neck in front of Souza at -105. It’s easy to imagine the result going in either direction with so many factors in play, one of which is the fact “Trail Blazer” will be coming back from a short respite due to the coronavirus:
Kevin Holland received word this evening that his latest COVID-19 test came back negative, per his manager @ko_reps. He will travel to Las Vegas tomorrow. Holland is scheduled to fight Jacare Souza at UFC 256 this Saturday. @Trailblaze2top— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 8, 2020
It’s unknown what effect, if any, that run-in with COVID-19 will have on Holland’s performance, but one factor that can’t be altered is his massive eight-inch reach advantage over “The Alligator.” That’s the kind of cushion that can help Holland keep Jacare and his elite-caliber grappling at bay for the duration if his strength in the speed department also holds up.
Souza is one of the most celebrated Brazilians in mixed martial arts, but at 41 years of age, his conditioning and ability to match up across the board should come into question. He’s lost four of his last six fights—each of which came against high-level competition—but Holland could be a bad matchup in terms of pace and output over three rounds.
It’s easy to forget Holland is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt considering three of his past four wins have come via KO/TKO. That’s not to say he’s at the same level as Jacare, arguably his toughest opponent to date, but it will help him defend the takedown and steer clear of the area in which Souza is undoubtedly at his best.
The favorite should just abut deliver on his odds and wins the stand-up battle if he’s able to keep it there, though we fancy Holland to win via the judges’ scorecards, priced at +200.
Prediction: Holland via decision (+200)
Junior dos Santos (+340) vs. Ciryl Gane (-440)
Ciryl Gane will look to announce himself as title-worthy when he opens the UFC 256 main card in a heavyweight head-to-head opposite a legendary figure in Junior dos Santos.
“Bon Gamin” (Good Kid) is 6-0 as a professional and was prevented from taking the finish for the first time in his career last time out, when he took a unanimous decision win over Tanner Boser. Dos Santos (21-8) is older (36), slower and on a torrid run of three straight knockout defeats, resulting in him being the biggest underdog on the card at +340 with William Hill for New Jersey customers.
Gane, 30, on the other hand doesn’t pose a lot of value as the -440 favorite, but the same can’t be said for the method betting. Despite his run of knockout losses and the fact Gane holds a five-inch reach advantage, we expect this to be a result where the former showcases his grappling.
It’s not often a heavyweight of Gane’s build counts submissions as their speciality, but former the Muay Thai champion can brag as much considering that’s how he’s collected three of his six wins to date. MMA By The Numbers illustrated how Gane attempts almost five times as many takedowns as Dos Santos on average, though his striking stats still match up in most sectors:
Here's a first look at the stats for— MMA By The Numbers (@NumbersMMA) December 8, 2020
Junior Dos Santos vs Ciryl Gane#UFC256 pic.twitter.com/zdPwss9drG
For his first fight in the United States, one can expect Gane to put on a show and showcase his talents. A victory for the Frenchman by submission is priced at huge odds of +700, with Dos Santos’ black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu perhaps playing too heavily on some minds.
“Cigano” has lost by submission once already in 2007 before he joined the UFC, but Gane’s sizeable frame and skills to boot could see him conquer a great of the division where he’s best.
Prediction: Gane via submission (+700)
Preliminary Card UFC 256 Predictions
A shortened preliminary card will feature just three fights at UFC 256 and begins on December 12 at 8 p.m. ET (1 a.m. GMT). We take a look at each fixture and consider who will emerge on top, with moneyline odds provided by some of the most trusted sportsbooks in the United States.
Cub Swanson (+135) vs. Daniel Pineda (-160)
Daniel Pineda made a victorious return to the UFC by getting the TKO win over Herbert Burns in August, and he’ll be back as the favorite when he faces Cub Swanson on Saturday (Dec. 12).
Unbeaten in his last seven bouts (if we include two no-contest results in the Professional Fighters League), “The Pit” (27-13) comes in at -160 on the moneyline with betMGM, but that may only encourage us further to move in the direction of +135 underdog Swanson.
“Killer” (26-11) is in almost the opposite vein of form and ended a streak of four losses when he beat Kron Gracie with a conclusive decision in October 2019. He’s had more than a year off since then, but that respite could work in his favor after a run of nine fights in a little more than three years.
That result in particular showed us the kind of traits that put Swanson in good stead for Saturday. Pineda is a finishing machine and has got the stoppage in each of his 27 victories, 18 of which have been decided by submission. Swanson boasts some of the best takedown defense in the featherweight division and repelled everything a specialist like Gracie had to throw at him, not to mention we’ve seen him stand up well in the striking department over the years.
One can expect this to be a close contest, but Swanson has every chance at the upset if he can frustrate Pineda in the opening rounds. He’s taken each of his last six wins by decision and looks worthy of investment at +225 odds to convince the judges.
Prediction: Swanson via decision (+225)
Mackenzie Dern (-190) vs. Virna Jandiroba (+160)
A grappling showdown of epic proportions will take place at UFC 256 on Saturday (Dec. 12) when Mackenzie Dern (9-1) tests her mettle against fellow strawweight Virna Jandiroba (16-1).
Two of the best Brazilian jiu jitsu combatants on the women’s roster will put their skills to the test in a battle where it’s difficult to pick the two apart. That being said, the temptation is to side with +160 underdog Jandiroba given she holds the edge in experience and conditioning.
Dern’s price looks complimentary at -190 with William Hill—she has six submission wins to Jandiroba’s 13, while each fighter has three decision victories and no knockouts to speak of:
Neither combatant will (or should) be overly eager to keep this fight standing, and Jandiroba’s best route to the win appears to be ground control for as much as the bout as possible. Her BJJ is nothing to be taken lightly, either, considering she claims to have beaten UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes in two of their three grappling matches.
Each of these fighters have a single defeat on their records, both of which came in 2019. Dern and Jandiroba will each be forced to show they have more than grappling in her arsenal, but it’s the latter who looks better equipped to score points should Plan A fail to bear fruit.
Prediction: Jandiroba via decision (+240)