The UFC is back in action at the Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unfortunately the world’s pandemic has taken a chunk of this card, as two fight were cancelled on fight night. However, there is a card still and it’s being headlined by Heavyweight’s Alistair Overeem and Augosto Sakai. Overeem is veteran of 65 mixed martial arts fights and at age 40 years old, is clamoring to the “one last run” notion towards the one thing he’s missing – UFC Gold. Sakai has other plans, as he looks to add a legend to his resume and catapult himself into contention. This should be a good one!

UFC Vegas 9 Main Card on ESPN+:

265 lbs.: Alistair Overeem vs. Augusto Sakai – This is an intriguing fight. For me, it really comes down to the durability of Overeem. The man can take a punch no doubt, but it’s no secret that all seven of his UFC losses have come via knockout. At Heavyweight, there’s just a smaller chance for mistakes, as the punches being thrown are heavier.

Sakai enters this fight on the heels of a six fight win streak, winning four of those inside the octagon. Sakai offers volume striking, cardio and good takedown defense. The only knock perhaps of Sakai is that while he does have power, it’s not exactly one-punch power. It’s more of an accumulation of strikes power. For me, that gives Overeem a better chance of avoiding being knocked out.

Overeem is a technical striker, who throws the most devastating knees in the game. Over the years, Overeem has become more patient and has really mixed in his wrestling, as well as grappling into fights. His cardio is better than most in the division too. I really believe that despite Overeem’s “durability” concerns, that Sakai’s lack thereof one-punch knockout power aids him tremendously. Overeem is good at keeping distance as well, so I can see him avoiding the volume Sakai throws. In the end, I believe that Overeem is going to hurt Sakai and finish this on the mat via TKO.

205 lbs.: Alonzo Menifield vs. Ovince Saint Preux – This is a tough fight to call. On one hand, I could see Menifield coming out of the gate with power shots and cracking OSP. You have to remember that OSP just last fought at Heavyweight, combined with his already iffy cardio and this being the second weight cut down to Light Heavyweight in two weeks – and there’s every reason to be concerned.

However, Menifield’s last fight proved that he is more or a less, a one round fighter. He simply does not have the cardio to throw power shots over the course of 15 minutes. Given OSP has fought the who’s who, and has only been knocked out once in his twenty one UFC fights – gives me pause to believe he can weather the storm, get this fight to mat in the later rounds and win via submission.

170 lbs.: Zelim Imadaev vs. Michel Pereira – This fight could only last a round, but it probably takes “Fight of the Night”. Pereira is a human highlight reel, doing cartwheels and flips inside the octagon. His cardio suffers from his unpredictability, but I feel like it did improve in his last fight against Deigo Sanchez. Imadaev is a striker, who has decent takedown defense. Max Griffin was able to take him down six times, whereas Danny Roberts only landed on one of eight attempts. Imadaev would lose both of those fights, with the Roberts fight being a knockout defeat.

As for a prediction, give me Pereira. I think striking-wise, he has the edge. Then again, his unpredictability puts him in troubling spots to get hit. However, Pereira has sneaky good wrestling and I could very well see him getting this fight to mat at some point. I could also see him landing vicious ground and pound, opening up the submission – which is my prediction.

185 lbs.: Bartosz Fabinski vs. Andre Muniz – I’m not going to discredit Muniz in this fight, but from what I’ve seen is, he’s not that hard to take down. Given Fabinski is a pure wrestler who establishes top control and stays there – I’m not really seeing how I don’t pick the specialist landing just a shade over 7 takedowns a minute. So with that, give me Fabinski to do what he does best and win this fight via decision.

UFC Vegas 9 Prelims Card on ESPN+:

145 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Ray Rodriguez – Jeez, Kelleher has been given his third opponent in a one week span. It’s hard to even break this fight down, given the real short notice of it. I mean, Rodriguez seems like a submission specialist. It’s hard though to gauge what his conditioning is going be like, but at least he made weight. Oh, who am I kidding. Enough talking. Kelleher is going to win this fight, most likely in the later rounds via TKO.

125 lbs.: Viviane Araujo vs. Montana De La Rosa – I really like the grappling and overall craftiness of De La Rosa. At any time, she can pull of a submission. However, her striking is just serviceable at best. Against a striker like Araujo, whom lands over 4.5 strikes per minute and has power – the need to get this to the ground is going to be necessary. That however is going to be a tall task, as Araujo has stuffed all eight takedown attempts she’s faced in the UFC. Given Araujo has faced the likes of Jessica Eye, Alexis Davis and Talita Bernardo, the 100% takedown defense is even more impressive.

In the end, De La Rosa is outmatched here. She could throw up a wild submission attempt and get it, but Araujo is a BJJ black belt. On the heels of her glaring advantages, give me Araujo to win this fight via decision

135 lbs.: Hunter Azure vs. Cole Smith – Azure suffered his first professional setback, as Brian Kelleher knocked him out with a well timed right hand. Despite the knockout, I wouldn’t consider Azure “chinny”. He got caught and he simply failed to go to his bread and butter – wrestling. In this fight, Smith is outgunned. He’s a wrestler with good grappling. His strengths are neutralized by Azure, and on the feet, give me Azure has the better grasp. In the end, I feel Smith’s durability and toughness aide him in this going the distance. Unfortunately for him, Azure will be the one with his hand raised via decision.

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