The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first card of 2022 offers a solid slate of prelims on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. In the featured slot, recent Dana White’s Contender Series standout Joseph Holmes will make his UFC debut when he takes on Jamie Pickett in a middleweight battle with some action potential. UFC on ESPN 32 also carries some name value, with the likes of Court McGee and Brian Kelleher looking to hold serve against relatively fresh-faced opponents. Meanwhile, Charles Rosa tackles T.J. Brown in another thrown-together pairing to round out the four-fight slate. Excitement seems to be the name of the game for the UFC’s first handful of fights in the New Year.
Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 32 “Kattar vs. Chikadze” prelims:
MiddleweightsNR | Joseph Holmes (7-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. NR | Jamie Pickett (12-6, 1-2 UFC)
ODDS: Holmes (-145), Pickett (+125)
It was nice to see Pickett pick up his first UFC win in October, but he is still one of the more frustrating fighters on the roster in terms of talent versus results. It took Pickett three attempts on Dana White’s Contender Series to earn a UFC contract, and his contract-clinching win over Jhonoven Pati basically told the story for “The Nightwolf.” When he pulls the trigger, good things happen for Pickett—such as his second-round knockout of Pati—but he is much too often undone by his hesitancy to spring into action. Even his October win over Laureano Staropoli was a slow-paced grind in which Pickett leaned on his strength and athleticism, but hopefully that has given Pickett enough momentum and confidence to look in better form here against a UFC newcomer. A surprising snub after a second-round win on the Contender Series in October, “Ugly Man” quickly finds his way onto the UFC roster after one more regional victory and looks like a prospect to watch. Holmes uses his long frame to keep opponents at range before closing distance to implement a surprisingly solid grappling game that has gotten him most of his wins. There is still a lot to smooth out—transitioning from one phase to the other often sees Holmes getting hit, and it is not a lock that he can overpower higher-level opponents—but in terms of tools and the improvements he has shown to date, he figures to have a bright future. Pickett has the ability to take advantage of the holes in Holmes’ game, as he has knockout power when he chooses to throw and has the type of physicality that could stall him out in his takedown attempts. However, he is unreliable to the point that Holmes being able to take over the fight is the much safer bet. The pick is Holmes via second-round submission.
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