UFC Utica is a special Friday night fight card, and while the event is coming a day early, Cageside Press has submitted their picks.

Staff WriterAlvey vs. VillanteArce vs. TeymurEllenberger vs. SaundersHarris vs. SpitzGillespie vs. PichelRivera vs. Moraes
Heath Harshman (58-28)
Paarth Pande (58-28)
Dan Doherty (54-32)
Mike Straus (54-32)
Jay Anderson (48-38)
Mike McClory (44-42)

The main event of UFC Utica features top-five bantamweights Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes vying for title contention. Rivera has not lost in nearly a decade, including five wins in the UFC. Marlon Moraes is looking to rule another bantamweight division after dominating WSOF’s for years. So far, he is 2-1 in the Octagon with wins over John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling. Cageside Press unanimously picked Jimmie Rivera.

Gregor Gillespie has the makings of a future fan favorite, and looks to stay undefeated as a pro while keeping his three-fight finish streak in the Octagon alive. He’ll be taking on the revived Vinc Pichel, who is 2-0 after a multi-year layoff, and has not lost in his last four fights. All but one writer sided with Gillespie.

Heavyweights hit the stage before the headlining bouts, with Walt Harris taking on Daniel Spitz. Harris has had a rough go in the Octagon, going 3-4 and losing by DQ in his last bout. Daniel Spitz is 6-1 in his MMA career and knocked out veteran Anthony Hamilton in just 24 seconds in his last appearance. Four writers went with Harris as opposed to two for Spitz.

Jake Ellenberger is hunting for that elusive win, losing in seven of his last nine appearances. He’ll battle Ben Saunders, who has lost two straight but has a 4-3 record on his current UFC stint. Four writers picked Saunders over the struggling Ellenberger.

Julio Arce is one of the more promising fighters to come out of the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series, owning a 14-2 career record, putting on a show in his promotional debut at UFC 220. Daniel Teymur will be against him, looking for his first Octagon win after being on the wrong side of a Fight of the Night in July. Arce was unanimously picked by the staff.

Two hit-or-miss fighters open up the main card, with Gian Villante fighting Sam Alvey. Villante stopped a two-fight losing streak in his last appearance, winning a split decision over Francimar Barroso. Alvey has committed to light heavyweight knocking out his first 205-pound opponent in February. Cageside Press unanimously picked Alvey.

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