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UFC on ESPN 36 predictions: Can ex-champ Jan Blachowicz get back on track vs. Aleksandar Rakic?

By Matt Erickson
Blachowicz
vs.
Rakic
Cutelaba
vs.
Spann
Grant
vs.
Smolka
Chookagian
vs.
Ribas
Camacho
vs.
Torres
Hadley
vs.
Nascimento
MMA Junkie readers’
consensus picks
79-38
blachowicz2022
Blachowicz
(56%)
spann2022
Spann
(53%)
grant2022
Grant
(80%)
ribas2022
Ribas
(52%)
torres2022
Torres
(73%)
hadley2022
Hadley
(81%)
Abbey Subhan
@kammakaze
78-40
blachowicz2022
Blachowicz
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Ken Hathaway
@kenshathaway
77-41
trophy copy 2018 Champion
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Mike Bohn
@MikeBohn
76-42
trophy copy 2014 Champion
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Matt Erickson
@MMAjunkieMatt
76-42
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
camacho2022
Camacho
hadley2022
Hadley
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
75-43
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
smolka2022
Smolka
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Matthew Wells
@MrMWells
74-44
blachowicz2022
Blachowicz
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Nolan King
@mma_kings
74-44
rakic2022
Rakic
cutelaba2022
Cutelaba
smolka2022
Smolka
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
73-45
trophy copy 2017 Champion
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Farah Hannoun
@Farah_Hannoun
72-46
rakic2022
Rakic
cutelaba2022
Cutelaba
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
George Garcia
@MMAjunkieGeorge
68-50
rakic2022
Rakic
spann2022
Spann
grant2022
Grant
chookagian2022
Chookagian
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley
Danny Segura
@dannyseguratv
59-59
blachowicz2022
Blachowicz
spann2022
Spann
smolka2022
Smolka
ribas2022
Ribas
torres2022
Torres
hadley2022
Hadley

The UFC is back in its Las Vegas home base this week with a former champion at the top of the bill.

UFC on ESPN 36 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN2 and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN2/ESPN+.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, former light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz (28-9 MMA, 11-6 UFC) takes on Aleksandar Rakic (14-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC). Rakic is a 2-1 favorite at Tipico Sportsbook; the comeback on Blachowicz is +150. Our 11 editors, writers, radio hosts and videographers are taking Rakic at a pretty high 8-3 clip.

In the co-feature, Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1 MMA, 5-5-1 UFC) meets Ryan Spann (19-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in another light heavyweight bout. Cutelaba is a -240 favorite, but it’s underdog Spann with a big 9-2 picks lead.

Also on the main card, Davey Grant (11-6 MMA, 4-5 UFC will go after his fifth straight post-fight bonus award when he takes on Louis Smolka (17-8 MMA, 8-8 UFC) at bantamweight. Grant is more than a 3-1 favorite and has a big 8-3 edge in the picks from our staff members.

Former women’s flyweight title challenger Katlyn Chookagian (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) will go after her fourth straight win when she meets Amanda Ribas (11-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC). Chookagian nearly is a 2-1 favorite and only one of our pickers is taking Ribas in an upset.

Frank Camacho (22-9 MMA, 2-5 UFC) returns after a hiatus of nearly two years to take on Manuel Torres (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at lightweight. Torres is a modest -130 favorite – the smallest favorite on the main card. But he’s a near-unanimous pick at 11-1.

And to open the main card, we have our only unanimous pick: -230 favorite Jake Hadley (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is an 11-0 pick against Allan Nascimento (18-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in their flyweight bout.

In the MMA Junkie reader consensus picks, Blachowicz (56 percent), Spann (53 percent), Grant (80 percent), Ribas (52 percent), Torres (73 percent) and Hadley (81 percent) are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

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Dive Deeper:
UFC on ESPN 36 results: Jan Blachowicz gets TKO win over Aleksandar Rakic when Rakic’s knee buckles
Former light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz is back on track and hoping to be next in line – though it…
UFC on ESPN 36 video: Jan Blachowicz, Aleksandar Rakic on weight for main event
The UFC on ESPN 36 headliner between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic is official.
Video: Jan Blachowicz, Aleksandar Rakic go nose-to-nose at UFC on ESPN 36 faceoff
Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic are locked in for Saturday's UFC on ESPN 36 main event.
Twitter reacts to Jan Blachowicz’s injury TKO win over Aleksandar Rakic at UFC on ESPN 36
See the top Twitter reactions to Jan Blachowicz's win over Aleksandar Rakic in the UFC on ESPN 36 main event.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Aleksandar Rakic predicts breakout win over Jan Blachowicz at UFC on ESPN 36, long title reign
Aleksandar Rakic says the world is looking at the next long-term UFC champ when he steps in the octagon at…
UFC on ESPN 36 weigh-in results and live video stream (noon ET)
Check out the results from the official UFC on ESPN 36 fighter weigh-ins.
Get all your news in one place