Kicking off the PPV main card of UFC 296 is a fun featherweight matchup that was originally supposed to be the featured prelim. Former interim title challenger Josh Emmett (18-4) will look to get back on track as he takes on “Thug Nasty” Bryce Mitchell (16-1).
Originally, Emmett was supposed to take on elite striker Giga Chikadze. However, Chikadze tore his groin and that opened the door for the UFC to seek a replacement. Mitchell volunteered and that’s how we got here in terms of this fight.
For Josh Emmett, he’s looking to snap his two-fight losing streak. A five-fight winning streak carried him into 2023 and earned him an interim title shot. However, he’s been dominated in back-to-back fights by Yair Rodriguez and Ilia Topuria. He really needs a big win tomorrow.
Speaking of Topuria, last December, he handed Bryce Mitchell his first professional loss. After taking some time to heal, Mitchell returned in September where he took on Dan Ige. Mitchell was able to use his wrestling and won a decision. Tomorrow at UFC 296, he’ll go for one of the biggest wins of his career on short-notice.
When you look at the situation, you’d think that Emmett would be at a disadvantage here. He’s much older than Mitchell and he’s been preparing for an elite striker. Now, he takes on one of the best grapplers in the division in a drastic change in terms of style.
However, Emmett has some of the best takedown defense in the sport. He’s also got an incredible amount of power in his hands, arguably the most in the featherweight division. If his takedown defense is on point, I think it’s going to be a really rough night for Bryce Mitchell.
If Emmett’s takedown defense isn’t ready to go, I think Mitchell can take him down and win a decision at UFC 296. However, I don’t see that happening. I see Emmett keeping this fight standing and his power is going to be too much. I think Emmett stops Mitchell in this one.
Prediction: Josh Emmett by TKO – Round 2