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UFC 295 predictions — Jiri Prochazka vs. Alex Pereira: Fight card, odds, preview, prelims, expert picks

Due to a Jon Jones injury, the UFC’s annual trip to Madison Square Garden in New York City is lacking its typical marquee headliner. Still, UFC 295 is an intriguing fight card headlined by a pair of well-matched championship bout on Saturday.
The main event sees Jiri Prochazka looking to recapture the light heavyweight championship he never lost in the cage when he takes on former middleweight champion Alex Pereira. Prochazka won the belt in 2022 with a dramatic last-minute submission of Glover Teixeira in one of the best fights in years but was forced to vacate after suffering a shoulder injury in training.
Pereira won middleweight gold with a knockout win over Israel Adesanya only for Adesanya to strike back in the rematch with his own knockout. Pereira moved up to 205 pounds and scored a win over Jan Blachowicz to earn his shot at the vacant belt.
As a result of Jones’ injury scrapping his planned main event title defense against Stipe Miocic, the UFC booked an interim heavyweight championship bout between Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich. The two men are tremendous finishers and every second of the fight will be tense as it can end in a flash.
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With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.
UFC 295 fight card, odds
Alex Pereira -125 vs. Jiri Prochazka +105, vacant light heavyweight title
Tom Aspinall -120 vs. Sergei Pavlovich +100, interim heavyweight title
Benoit Saint-Denis -225 vs. Matt Frevola +185, lightweights
Mackenzie Dern -205 vs. Jessica Andrade +170, women’s strawweights
Pat Sabatini -115 vs. Diego Lopes -105, featherweights
Steve Erceg -250 vs. Matt Schnell +205, flyweights
Loopy Godinez -175 vs. Tabatha Ricci +150, women’s strawweights
Nazim Sadykhov -150 vs. Viacheslav Borschev +125, lightweights
Mateusz Rebecki -165 vs. Nurullo Aliev +140, lightweights
Jamal Emmers -265 vs. Dennis Buzukja +215, featherweights
Jared Gordon -210 vs. Mark Madsen +175, lightweights
John Castaneda -135 vs. Kyung Ho Kang +115, bantamweights
Joshua Van -230 vs. Kevin Borjas +190, flyweights
With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).
UFC 295 picks, predictions
Campbell Brookhouse Mahjouri Mormile Wise Prochazka vs. Pereira Pereira Prochazka Prochazka Pereira Prochazka Pavlovich vs. Aspinall Aspinall Aspinall Aspinall Pavlovich Pavlovich Saint-Denis vs. Frevola Frevola Saint-Denis Frevola Frevola Saint-Denis Dern vs. Andrade Dern Dern Andrade Dern Dern Sabatini vs. Lopes Sabatini Sabatini Lopes Lopes Lopes Records to date (2023)
38-21 36-23 37-22 37-17 39-20
Prochazka vs. Pereira
Campbell: For as explosive as Prochazka has been through just three UFC appearances, it’s hard to overlook what the former light heavyweight champion will be forced to overcome on Saturday: a 17-month layoff, recovery from reconstructive shoulder surgery and a dangerous opponent in Pereira, who no longer needs to make such a drastic cut down to 185 pounds. But the biggest obstacle for Prochazka might be his own wild demeanor. For as explosive and unpredictable as Prochazka can be, he’s there to be hit consistently thanks to his sometimes reckless style. Pereira is simply the wrong counter puncher to make mistakes while standing in front of. Becoming a two-division champion is far from an easy task and this fight has all the makings to be a war. But it’s a fight “Poatan” can and should win, especially given that Prochazka likely won’t try to bring the fight to the ground.
Mahjouri: There is no pick I’m less confident about than Pereira vs. Prochazka. The former light heavyweight champion is prone to errors. I’d actually be more comfortable picking him in a rematch against Pereira. Prochazka requires well-rounded offense and thoughtful decision-making to overcome the technically superior striker. It’s the unknowns in Pereira’s game that give me pause. The former middleweight champ’s split decision win over Jan Blachowicz at elevation did not satisfy my curiosities. How well does Pereira’s power translate at 205 pounds? How well can he take a punch? Will his grappling defense hold over five rounds? These questions were explored in Pereira’s light heavyweight MMA debut but not thoroughly dissected. I’m voting with my heart, saying Prochazka has rounded out his game enough to win. He’ll require a diverse approach and controlled chaos to get the win.
Pavlovich vs. Aspinall
Campbell: Let’s face it, this fight isn’t going the distance. Both have been known throughout their brief UFC runs for being first-round finishers, which makes the idea of Aspinall accepting the interim title bout on less than three weeks’ notice not as severe. Not only is Aspinall more well-rounded and dynamic than the powerful Pavlovich, who possesses an insane 84-inch reach, he’s also much quicker as a combination puncher. While no UFC fighter would be advised to stand in range and slug it out with Pavlovich, including Aspinall, establishing the threat of a takedown could be key for Aspinall to set up a breakthrough knockout finish by beating his hulking opponent to the punch.
Brookhouse: “This one definitely ends before the final bell” is a cursed phrase in mixed martial arts, especially at heavyweight. Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou is one of the most classic examples of this. Still, this one definitely ends before the final bell. Both of these men are too good at closing the show once they have an advantage. Aspinall is just the better all-around fighter and so long as he doesn’t get caught by a Pavlovich blitz, it feels like Aspinall will eventually start to take over and make things uncomfortable for Pavlovich before finding a finish on the feet or the floor.
Mahjouri: Aspinall and Pavlovich are the best fast starters in UFC history, ranking No. 1 and No. 3 respectively all-time for shortest average fight time in any weight class. Despite Aspinall holding a slight lead, the general consensus is that Pavlovich is more dangerous early. Aspinall might be the most well-rounded heavyweight alive and is brimming with confidence since recovering from knee surgery. It’s imperative that Aspinall minds Pavlovich’s six-inch reach advantage, particularly when pulling back. Pavlovich isn’t purely a power puncher. He makes small, sneaky alterations to the angle of his punches to break through his foes’ guards. If Aspinall can be defensively sound and patient without trepidation, his well-roundedness and technical refinement should give him the edge.
Dern vs. Andrade
Campbell: While the betting odds remain close, likely due to Andrade’s one-punch power, it’s hard to look at this as anything more than a potential showcase bout for Dern. Yes, Andrade is a former 115-pound champion. But the 32-year-old has lost three fights, all by stoppage, since February and remains a poor style matchup for Dern’s strength, which is her grappling and submission skills. Even with Dern’s recent stretch of alternating wins and losses over her last four fights, she remains a valuable commodity that UFC would likely allow to cut the line for a shot at Weili Zheng’s strawweight title. Dern might be still a work in progress from the standpoint of her technique, but she has the type of chin to fight through the kind of adversity that Andrade’s power could produce and she has the motivation to realize that her window to maximize her potential is right now.



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