The UFC is back in action, as they bring forth an exciting card to the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the card is two Heavyweight contenders in Derrick Lewis and Alexey Oleinik. The two couldn’t be more opposite, as Lewis knocks his opponents out, while Oleinik prefers to choke the, unconscious. This fight should be fast and furious from the start and it certainly ain’t going five rounds. So don’t blink!
UFC Vegas 6 Main Card On ESPN+ (9 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Derrick Lewis vs. Aleksei Oleinik – I honestly don’t know what to make of this fight. On one hand, I can see Derrick Lewis landing a power shot that puts Oleinik out cold. It should be noted, the man is 42 years old and has three knockout defeats in his last seven fights. On the other hand, I can see Oleinik taking Lewis down and submitting him. Lewis has notably poor takedown defense, albeit he can pop back up with sheer power. Lewis also doesn’t throw enough, so Oleinik just has to be patient.
As for prediction, give me Lewis. I believe Oleinik will come out striking and throwing power shots. Hell, he might stun and force Lewis to backpedal. He will get too complacent and not shoot nearly in time, as Lewis cracks him with a power shot and finished him nasty ground pound. So with that, I have Lewis winning via knockout.
185 lbs.: Omari Akhmedov vs. Chris Weidman – It’s easy to write-off Weidman, the former Middleweight king. He’s 1-5 in his last six fights and has been finished in every loss. However, in this 1-5 skid, it should be noted he’s faced nothing but the best of the division. In fights against Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza, Weidman was arguably winning until being cracked with fight ending shots. I also would like to note during this skid, that Weidman took down each opponent.
Akhmedov gets his due here, as he’s neared seven years in the UFC and his recent string of success has elevated him to facing a former Champion. Akhmedov has a pretty well rounded game, but he excels with his wrestling. If he can take you down, his top control is smothering and hard to get up from. Striking-wise, he’s rather inaccurate, but he does have solid striking-defense. Akhmedov has some iffy cardio too, which is especially concerning in a fight against a cardio machine like Weidman.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Weidman. He’s the far superior wrestler and striker in this contest. This will be the first time he’s fought a lesser foe in quite some time. I worry about his durability, but given his talent and the intangibles of his height and significant reach advantage, I suspect he will be just fine. Akhmedov has some power, but he telegraphs his strikes often. So with that, give me Weidman via submission.
185 lbs.: Maki Pitolo vs. Darren Stewart – I realize Pitolo throws bombs, but his takedown defense is awful. And while Stewart too is striker with power, he’s sneakily added a pretty good wrestling game. Stewart’s mainly used it to keep the fight standing, but I suspect he will use it in this fight to control it on the ground. So with that, give me the “Dentist” to the win via decision.
135 lbs.: Yana Kunitskaya vs. Julija Stoliarenko – I’m not familiar with Stoliarenko, but Kunitskaya is a solid Bantamweight. She’s got a well rounded skill set and should be noted for her solid durability. I mean, she can take punishment. I see no reason for her to lose this fight, other than a quick armbar or something. So with that, give me Kunitskaya to mix in striking volume and takedowns to take decision victory.
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Scott Holtzman – If I’m being honest, Dariush may very well just grab a hold of Holtzman and submit him. He is the better striker, wrestler and grappling. What Dariush is iffy with is cardio and durability. Both in which are strengths of Holtzman. While my initial thought is Holtzman can whether the storm and take over late in the fight, I’m not banking on it. Dariush has cling-wrap like grappling and is one of the best submission hunters in the UFC. So with that, give me Dariush via submission.
UFC Vegas 6 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Laureano Staropoli – It’s easy to question the durability of Means, as he’s been finished several times of late. However, he’s still an effective striker and as long as he keeps distance, he should be fine in this fight. Staropoli is a good striker too, bringing forth volume and power. While I wouldn’t be surprised if he caught Means, I believe the only way he can win this striking contest, is by getting past the jab and inside the pocket. Then again, Means has standing elbows if he chooses too. I also like that Means has some decent wrestling chops and isn’t afraid to toss in a takedown now and then. So with that, give me Means winning via decision.
185 lbs.: Joaquin Buckley vs. Kevin Holland – I’m not familiar with Buckley, but kudos to him stepping up to the plate here on short notice. While the fight isn’t ideal, it’s not like it’s not winnable. Holland is a talent, who’s very well rounded. Problem is, he has real iffy fight IQ and often puts himself in disadvantageous positions. That’s problematic against the upper echelon. Fortunately Buckley isn’t in that class. So with that, I have Holland winning via TKO.
155 lbs.: Nasrat Haqparast vs. Alex Munoz – Haqparast was building a bit of momentum heading into his fight against Drew Dober, but that was halted as Dober finished him. However, Haqparast is still a talented prospect in the Lightweight division. I believe this match-up is a bounce back fight. Munoz is a talented wrestler, but Haqparast has notably good takedown defense. On the feet, it’s all Haqparast. Throw in the fact that Munoz hasn’t fought in a year and is taking this fight on short notice and you have the ingredients of a disaster of a debut. So with that, I have Haqparast winning via Knockout.
185 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez vs. Wellington Turman – If UFC fights only lasted one round, Sanchez would be a title contender. His wrestling and ground and pound are exceptional. His gas tank however, is abysmal. On at least two separate occasions, Sanchez stormed out of the gate earlier and by the later part of round two, the tides changed. By round three, Sanchez was finished. Regardless of this, I believe Sanchez is a better wrestler and grappler than Turman. Given that is Turman’s bread and butter, I’m not likening his chances. I mean, he can’t even fall back on his striking because it’s serviceable at best. So with that, Ihave Sanchez winning via decision.
145 lbs.: Gavin Tucker vs. Justin Jaynes – I’m not sure what think of Jaynes yet. He’s aggressive and he’s got power for sure. The way he blitzkrieged a brawler like Frank Camacho was perfect. Outside of the power, I’m not sure what his gas tank looks like. I know Tucker hasn’t exactly shined thus far in the UFC, but he’s got technique and hand speed on the feet. His takedown defense is problematic, but he’s got some good grappling and submissions. In the end, I favor Tucker to outpoint Jaynes on the feet for a decision victory.
145 lbs.: Youssef Zalal vs. Peter Barrett – I like the way they are building up Zalal. He seems to be a young prospect at Featherweight, whom is fairly well rounded. He mixes his wrestling in well with his striking, which goes a long way. I expect very few issues here, as Zalal comfortably gets a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Irwin Rivera vs. Ali Al-Qaisi – I’m not too familiar with Al-Qaisi, but Rivera showed durability and heart in his debut up a weight class against Giga Chikadze. Now, back at his weight class, I expect the power shots he displayed in his debut to factor more into his fights. So with that, give me Rivera winning via TKO.