Let's look at the best of the cards scheduled for October 2021 in Boxing and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), the most notable fights on them, and who the favorites are.
October 4th: (BOXING) Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos, Jr.
October 9th: (BOXING) Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 3
October 15th: (BOXING) Joet Gonzalez vs. Emanuel Navarrete
October 23rd: (BOXING) Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson
October 2nd: (MMA) Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker
October 16th: (MMA) Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate
October 30th: (MMA) Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
October 4th: Teofimo Lopez vs. George Kambosos, Jr.
Now THIS is a title fight. Two sharp, fast, dangerous punchers going to war, both coming off wins against solid opposition. Let's first take a look at the champion, Teofimo Lopez.
Teofimo Lopez: Lopez (16-0,12 KO), at 24, has achieved an incredible amount, and his last fight was undoubtedly his crowning jewel. He didn’t just beat Lomachenko, considered by many to be the best technical boxer currently active, he beat him on points. Doing so showed that he not only has power and speed, he’s got something that the best fighters all have: a ring IQ. Lopez proved he was smart enough to devise a strong game plan and stick to it against an elite-level technician in Vasyl Lomachenko. Preferring to set up strong, deadly attacks behind a stiff jab, Lopez is known as a destructive finisher. Look for him to fight a cerebral but aggressive game, moving on angles and setting traps before stepping in the pocket when he’s ready to really let his power go.
George Kambosos, Jr.: Kambosos, 28, is an aggressive, violent puncher that has unparallelled self confidence. With a granite chin and solid defensive technique, Kambosos is a wrecking ball in the ring at 135 pounds. He has superb conditioning, is able to come forward with lightning quick hands for 12 rounds, and is a skilled counter puncher in the pocket who is more than willing to trade shots. Sitting at 19-0 with 10 knockouts, it’s not hard to see why he’s willing to bet on his power and heart, even against a bigger man in Lopez. Look for him to press the action all fight long and never let off the gas.
Prediction: Teofimo By UD. While I don’t imagine Teo knocking Kambosos out (though anything is possible in a fight) I also don’t see Kambosos knocking Teo out, and I think Teo will outland him pretty comfortably. While Kambosos does have solid defense, his pressure is very head first, and he has shown a lack of use of his jab against Lee Selby. He won that fight, but Lopez is bigger and more importantly smarter than Selby. I think that unless something significant changes in George’s game or he lands a shot to end the fight, this fight will be a barn burner but a comfortable win for Teofimo Lopez.
October 9th: Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 3
This fight is the closing act to the heavyweight saga between powerful puncher Deontay Wilder and WBC Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury. Between Deontay’s and Fury’s bombastic personalities and tastes for flair, this should be an entertaining fight.
Deontay Wilder: Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO) is a highly athletic fighter, and carries perhaps the greatest single knockout power in the sport today. He has always been criticized for a lack of high-level technique, but until recently he has silenced those critics by simply annihilating every opponent put in front of him with his absolute wrecking ball of a right hand. Tyson Fury, however, has proven that that will not be enough to beat him, knocking out Wilder in their rematch after a questionable draw in the first fight. Recently, Deontay Wilder has employed former opponent Malik Scott as a head trainer, in order to patch up some of the technical deficiencies in his game. And in the footage, he looks good! The question is, how much of this much cleaner, new style will he be able to apply when he’s getting hit in the face? Look for Wilder to box for a round or two, and then start winging massive power shots, hunting for a knockout.
Tyson Fury: Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KO) is an incredibly agile boxer for his size, with excellent head movement and very long arms that he combines with an awkward style which makes it very difficult for opponents to engage cleanly with him. His footwork and ring generalship are deceptively high-level, and while he isn’t an exceptionally powerful puncher, he is still a heavyweight and can therefore knock out just about anyone given the opportunity. In fact, he knocked out Deontay Wilder in their last match. His self confidence is also incredible, and I cannot personally recall a time I’ve ever seen him shaken in a fight. Look for him to come forward just as he did last time and pressure Wilder’s suspect defenses.
Prediction: Tyson Fury by TKO. No disrespect to Deontay Wilder, but my guess is that as great as it is that he’s finally learning to box, he won’t be able to utilize most of the new tools he’s gaining in an actual fight. Learning a skill in the gym and being able to apply it on the split-second basis required in a fight are two very, very different things. I think we will see an improved Wilder, I just don’t think we’ll see enough of an improvement to change the outcome. Though Wilder, of course, has that “puncher’s chance.”
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ PPV on Saturday, October 9th at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
October 15th: Joet Gonzalez vs. Emanuel Navarrete
This one is going to be a hidden gem, you’ll just have to trust me. Two brave, all action fighters, one a rising star in the featherweight division and the other a solid challenger who is no stranger to being the underdog? It’s going to be a barn burner while it lasts.
Joet Gonzalez: Joet Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KO) is the perfect underdog to brawl with the meteoric Emanuel Navarrete. No stranger to big fights, he has fought with Shakur Stevonson before--his one pro defeat. However, he came back from that loss with a win over Miguel Marriaga to earn his world title shot against a true killer in Navarrete. A classic come forward pressure fighter with a responsible defense, expect Gonzalez to come forward constantly and fight behind a high guard to try and bully his way inside.
Emanuel Navarrete: Emanuel Navarrete (34-1, 29 KO) is a rising star in the featherweight division and is characterized by his signature left uppercut, dynamic combinations, and rangy style. His last fight against tough Puerto Rican contender Christopher Diaz highlighted his power at range and his ability to strike and fade against a powerful puncher. His dangerous power combined with his skilled, rangy style has spelled danger for everyone he’s faced. Look for him to do much of the same against Gonzalez, stepping in and out with rangy shots until he can crack him with an uppercut and tricky combinations.
Prediction: Emanuel Navarrete by late TKO. I think Joet is a good fighter, but the reason I have him losing by TKO is simple: Joet utilizes a high guard and Emanuel’s signature punch, which has won him the majority of his knockouts, is a lead uppercut. Because of the way a high guard affects visibility, I don’t think Gonzalez will be able to see Navarrete’s lead uppercut, and I think it’s going to eat Joet alive due to his come forward style. He’s tough, so he’ll hang on and have success, but it’s only a matter of time unless he finds a way to predict the uppercut or changes his guard.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on Friday, October 15th at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT.
October 23rd: Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson
Herring vs. Stevenson is a classic Old vs. New fight. Stevenson is 11 years younger than Herring, but with age comes experience. Herring has been in with high-level opponents before, but Stevenson has never been in with someone at the level of Herring. Will that gap in experience be enough for Herring to turn back the clock?
Jamel Herring: Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KO) is a tall and rangy Southpaw. He’s a counter puncher that can do so on the front foot, and has a solid, if awkward defense, utilizing an active guard and small pivots to be constantly slightly off angle. At 35, he’s at the tail-end of his career but has looked good in his last few fights, including his knockout of Carl Frampton. The question is, does he have enough in his gas tank to put together a win against Shakur Stevenson? Look for Herring to try and keep the fight at long range and at a slow pace. He’ll attempt to utilize his long range and his counter punching ability to keep Shakur at bay.
Shakur Stevenson: Shakur Stevenson (16-0, 8 KO) is a slick and lightning-fast southpaw rising star. Herring will be the highest-quality opponent that he’s fought in his young career, and at 24 this is the perfect time for him to step it up. He’s quick, defensively solid, and can put together some nasty combinations using his blistering hand and foot speed. He thrives in the open angles of the southpaw-Orthodox matchup, which is part of what makes the Herring fight (a fellow southpaw) an interesting one. How will Shakur fare against a skilled opponent in a mirrored match up that closes off many angles he’s used to exploiting? Look for Stevenson to leverage his speed, youth, and quick reflexes to attempt to work his way in on the taller Herring where he can win out with superior hand speed.
Prediction: Stevenson by UD: Frankly, this is Shakur’s fight to lose. Herring simply isn’t of the class necessary to turn back the clock enough to beat a young fighter like Stevenson at his age. It's a fight, so anything can happen, but I imagine Shakur cruises to a decision just like he always does.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on Saturday, October 23rd at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT.
October 2nd: (MMA) Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker
This will be a good fight between a veteran in Santos and a late bloomer rising contender in Walker. Both have power with high knockout rates, and both are more or less attempting comebacks: Santos attempting one last run at gold, and Walker attempting to continue his comeback momentum after going 1-2 in his last 3 fights.
Thiago Santos (21-9): While he is at a disadvantage in height and reach, Santos brings far more experience against high-level competition than Walker, with a competitive fight against Jon Jones, and fights against other top contenders in Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz (Current Light Heavyweight champion). This could mean he’s bringing a much deeper toolbox than Walker is, and that makes this an interesting contest. Look for Thiago to hunt for big shots and try and leverage his veteran status over the greener fighter.
Johnny Walker (18-5): After a meteoric start in the UFC, Walker hit a roadblock with back-to-back losses to Corey Anderson (KO) and Nikita Krylov (UD). He has recently changed camps and won his comeback fight against Ryan Spann, and now seeks to take a step up once again facing Thiago Santos, a respected and storied veteran with heavy hands and a wily technique. He’s the longer fighter by far, with a 4-inch height advantage and a 6-inch reach advantage. As a dedicated striker, he will likely leverage this as much as possible, staying behind a long jab and check kicks to keep Santos at bay until he can find an opening to finish.
Prediction: Can’t call it. I really do think this is going to come down to one or two punches putting the other man down. Both men have been knocked out before, and Santos is vulnerable to submissions, something Walker has been vocal about working on since his own weakness in takedown defense was exposed. I can see it going quite a few ways in either direction, and for that reason, I am calling this one too close to make a decision on (though mob wisdom has Santos as a favorite, I just don’t agree with either man being a favorite by more than a point or two).
October 16th: (MMA) Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate
Fan favorite fighter Miesha Tate continues her comeback run against up-and-comer Ketlen Vieira in what promises to be a very entertaining bout between two grapplers who can also strike when they need to.
Miesha Tate (19-7): Miesha Tate is a UFC and MMA legend, one of the most prolific fighters on the women’s side of the sport. Having been in the ring with Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Amanda Nunes, and Raquel Pennington, she’s proven time and time again that she isn’t afraid to fight the best. After coming out of retirement and running through her tune-up fight with flying colors, she’s set to return against fellow grappling ace Ketlen Vieira. Look for her to show no fear and attempt to bully her way inside on the taller fighter with smart striking and accurate takedowns to force a fight.
Ketlen Vieira (11-2): Ketlen Vieira started off very well in the UFC, sprinting through her first 10 opponents in impressive fashion. However, she’s lost 2 of her last 3 fights, both of which she was listed as the favorite to win. In facing Tate, she is also facing by far her most elite opponent, at least on paper. Tate is highly skilled but father time is cruel, and there is always the chance that the battles of the past start to wear on Tate. As for Vieira, she’s a tall, long, well-rounded grappler. Look for her to play patiently, seeking submission opportunities while biding time striking at range.
Prediction: Tate by submission. I simply think Tate is too high of a level for Vieira to take on right now. I could easily be surprised, I am a boxer and not an MMA fighter after all, but from where I stand, Tate still has more than enough left in the tank to leverage her wealth of experience and sheer class over the still green Vieira.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on Saturday, October 16th at 6:00 p.m. ET.
October 30th: (MMA) Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
Blachowicz and Teixeira are both very well-rounded fighters, with plenty of wins by both KO and submission to their names. They are also both good at forming and executing gameplans mid-match. While Jan is slightly younger and longer, this still looks to be a very technical and fascinating chess match.
Jan Blachowicz (28-8): The reigning UFC light heavyweight champ has been on a tear, winning his last 5 fights, all of them against truly elite-level talent. With an extremely well-rounded game and a solid mindset, Blachowicz is starting to look like a household name in the making for the UFC. Look for him to leverage his range advantage and attempt to bait and catch Teixeira reaching, and kicking to the body early to sap his opponent’s strength.
Glover Teixeira (32-7): The perennial challenger of the light heavyweight division and well used to being an underdog, Teixeira is a very well-rounded and smart fighter with solid striking and takedowns complimented by a shrewd and cunning ring intelligence. It will be very interesting to see him clash with someone who is almost his foil. While they have similar toolsets and styles, Blachowicz is very ‘new school’ MMA: Don’t get hit, don’t give them a chance, pick your shots. Teixeira, on the other hand, is very ‘old school’ MMA: Force the issue, don’t back down, win exchanges and control the pace through aggression. Look for him to use his dynamic offense to try and press his way inside on his longer opponent and trick him into fighting a rigged game on the inside.
Prediction: Blachowicz by UD. I think Blachowicz’s more defensively-oriented style is going to pay dividends here and let him control and corral the offensively-minded Teixeira. And if Glover does manage to force a fight, Blachowicz has plenty of power and skill to match him there, too. Glover is wily and crafty, so there is definitely more than a puncher’s chance in his favor, but I still give the edge to Blachowicz just because he has more ways to win.
Note: All information is accurate as of September 21, 2021.