The UFC is back in action, as a pair of Light Heavyweight’s in Anthony Smith and Alexander Rakic face off in a rather more important fight than it was two weeks ago. For those of you who don’t know, the Light Heavyweight King, Jon Jones has vacated his belt. He will make his long awaited move up to Heavyweight. The newly vacated belt already will be fought for, but with a win, Smith and Rakic could find themselves within grasp of a title shot.
UFC Vegas 8 Main Card on ESPN+ (9 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Aleksandar Rakic – This is a fun fight, but give me Rakic here. I believe Smith is truly a contender at Light Heavyweight, but between the beat down he took against Glover Teixeira and coming back a little more than three months since draws my concerns. He’s shown time and time again that he can endure punishment and even come back from it. His striking is evolving by each fight and his grappling, especially on top is tough to escape. Rakic though offers athleticism, cardio and solid striking. He’s got a nice blend of volume and power on the feet, which ultimately I see getting the job done. I believe Smith should of taken more time, as I see Rakic winning via TKO.
170 lbs.: Robbie Lawler vs. Neil Magny – On one hand, I see Magny fairly easily pushing Lawler to the cage early and neutralizing his striking and power. As the fight wanes, Magny will have ripe pickings against a tired and hesitant Lawler en route to a decision victory. On the other hand, I could see Lawler finding the spark against a lesser foe than what he’s faced for a long time. Power is the last thing to go and Lawler is notoriously a fast starter. As for my prediction, I’m going with Ruthless Robbie Lawler to win via knockout.
125 lbs.: Alexa Grasso vs. Ji Yeon Kim – This could be a close fight, as Grasso debuts up a weight class. I’m not sure how much success she’ll find here, but in this particular fight, I believe her hand speed gets it done. Kim is notably the bigger fighter, but she doesn’t wrestle whatsoever. She would be smart to put this fight against the cage and use her size, but I doubt that happens. The fight is going to take place on the feet, and I believe the striking volume of Grasso should be able to get her a decision nod.
145 lbs.: Ricardo Lamas vs. Bill Algeo – Unfortunately, Ryan Hall pulled out of this fight and in stepped yet again another short notice foe. The opportunity is fortunate for Algeo, but a tough one to debut against a veteran and former title challenger in Lamas. While Lamas has had a somewhat iffy chin of late, Algeo isn’t a big enough power puncher to threaten that avenue. Algeo looks to take fights to the ground, which isn’t going to work against a grappler like Lamas. Im not sure if Lamas is going to just leg kick his way to a decision victory or bring this fight to mat and wrap up a submission victory. Given the nature of this being a short notice fight, give me the later.
UFC Vegas 8 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Maki Pitolo vs. Impa Kasanganay – I want to lean Kasanganay, due to his ability to get this fight to the mat and keep it there. That’s notoriously been Pitolo’s kryptonite, as he’s mainly a boxer who looks to batter the body. The toughest part of this fight, is that both men fought less than three ago. That means, a second weight cut and potential cardio issue. Pitolo was submitted in his fight in the first round, meanwhile Kasanganay won a three round decision. In the end, I feel like Pitolo is going to go after the body often. Kasanganay is going to land his takedowns. Come the third round, Pitolo is going to put it on a tired Kasanganay and win via TKO.
185 lbs.: Alessio Di Chirico vs. Zak Cummings – Honestly, this is a tough fight to call. Both men are well rounded, but perhaps if there is any edge, it’s the power of Di Chirico. Then again, Cummings is very durable and has a pretty good chin. The one notable thing is, Cummings is fighting at his more natural weight class, but he isn’t the bigger guy anymore. At welterweight, Cummings would use his size to wrestle and grind foes. At Middleweight, the physical advantage is no longer a real threat. In what I expect to be a back and forth fight, give me the Di Chirico to erase his two fight losing streak and nab a very tight decision.
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Austin Springer – I’m not sure what to make of this fight. Caceres is always a curious fighter to predict. He has glimpses of what appears to be a complete mixed martial arts game. Then he doesn’t, especially when fighting lesser opponents for whatever reason. As for Springer, the former Contender Series alum makes his UFC debut on two days notice. He notably missed weight and I don’t blame him. Springer brings a decent striking game, but he is more of a wrestler. That could work for him, but I’m not sure how his cardio will fair if he can’t get the finish early. Due to the short notice nature and missed weight cut, give me Caceres to win this fight via decision.
170 lbs.: Sean Brady vs. Christian Aguilera – Brady seems to have a bright future in the UFC, as his wrestling, cardio and volume striking can catapult you up in any division. Aguilera though, has a bright future too, but in bringing forth exciting finishes and memorable fights. He’s a wild man, but a finisher. Against someone like Brady, I see Aguilera’s striking being neutralized instantly by Brady’s wrestling. Eventually, Brady’s top control and ground and pound wilts Aguilera, and I see the ref stopping this one via TKO.
115 lbs.: Polyana Viana vs. Emily Whitmire – Since entering the UFC, Viana’s scary ground game hasn’t exactly shown up and three consecutive losses have her on proverbial ropes. On the other hand Whitmire is coming off a loss to Amanda Ribas, which is no shame. Before that, she was starting to gain momentum with two consecutive wins. I believe Viana has the more dangerous skill set, but it’s hard to rely solely on that. Whitmire is the better overall fighter and if she can keep this on the feet, she’ll have an easier time grabbing the win. So with that, give me Whitmire to win via decision.
125 lbs.: Mallory Martin vs. Hannah Cifers – I’ve got Martin here. Cifers has fought some tough competition of late, but has been thoroughly dominated. She’s purely a striker who throws volume, but her size and lack of ground game have halted her ability to win fights. Also through in the fact that Cifers has porous striking defense and I really don’t like her odds here. I expect Martin to use her more well rounded game to strike and grapple when needed. In the end, Martin gets it done via decision.