The UFC is back in action in at the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event is former Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, as he returns to to Lightweight against the card saving Paul Felder. I say card saving because Felder was supposed to call the fights. Instead, he will be entering the octagoon in the main event on five days notice to take on one the best fighters in the UFC. If you ask me, for a guy who mulled retirement and has a secured desk job – this is a legendary moment. Should Felder prevail, it would be really some story. Either way, this is going to be a fun fight, so don’t blink.
UFC Vegas 14 Main Card On ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Rafael dos Anjos – You have to admire Paul Felder for saving the day and the willingness of Rafael dos Anjos to take on anyone. Now as for this fight, I’m conflicted. Given that this is a short notice fight for Felder and the rather big weight cut, it’s tough to side with him. RDA also boots a skillset that is tough to defeat, especially if you don’t offer anything in the form of wrestling or grappling. Now, we should also caution the fact that RDA is returning to Lightweight – a weight class in which he reigned, but suffered from horrid weight cuts. However, that never hurt RDA’s durability, as he’s only suffered one stoppage loss in over nine years.
While everything point’s to RDA taking this fight, I’m so consumed over the fact that Felder enters this fight with nothing to lose. He’s taking this fight on short notice, isn’t in the mix in a stacked Lightweight division currently and is locked and loaded as a UFC broadcaster. The pressure isn’t on him remotely and I know the volume of RDA might consume him, but he’s dog. This fight is going to have it moments for both men, and I’m envisioning Felder having some big moments. So with that, on a limb, give me Felder to win via decision.
170 lbs.: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Khaos Williams – This bout is your candidate for fight of the night, however long it may last. Khaos Williams has massive power, but outside of his blitzkrieg over Alex Morono, his resume lacks anything notably to speak of. Abdul Razak Alhassan too is a power striker, but is coming off a shocking loss – in which the debuting Mounir Lazzez ate every punch and dished it back. Prior to that, Alhassan had quickly knocked out Niko Price, as well as Sabah Homasi twice. While Alhassan suffered a setback, I do believe it was against a promising fighter. I also believe he rights the ship here, knocking out Williams in an absolute slugfest.
115 lbs.: Miranda Granger vs. Ashley Yoder – This fight is a coin flip and I’m not sure what side to be on. I guess Yoder, although she lacks fight IQ and consistency. She has all the tools and is well rounded. I just question sometimes her ability to realize a close fight, and to do more than your opponent. Especially when you’re the fresher fighter come round three. Regardless, Yoder desperately needs a victory. Knowing her job is on the line, I hope she brings it. So with that, give me Yoder via decision.
195 lbs.: Brendan Allen vs. Sean Strickland – Before fighting Kyle Daukaus, I thought Brendan Allen was going to be force in this division. My expectation’s are a little tempered, but a bad weight cut or simply that Daukaus is better than we though shouldn’t push me off my initial thoughts. With well rounded abilities, and notably a solid ground game – Allen has all the tools to beat anyone. That includes Sean Strickland, who recently fought and defeated Jack Marshman two weeks ago. The former massive Welterweight made a successful move up 15 pounds, which I believe the lack of excessive weight cut will aide future performances. Given this is a catchweight, both men should be at their best.
As for a prediction, give me Sean Strickland. ‘Tarzan’ has notably solid takedown defense, even stuffing Kamaru Usman six times out of eight attempts. While that bout was at Welterweight, 15 pounds lower, Strickland has the size and strength to keep foes from taking him down. While Allen can strike, Strickland is the more technical and rangy fighter. I see Strickland using his jab to outpoint Allen on the feet, ultimately winning via a decision.
115 lbs.: Kay Hansen vs. Cory McKenna – Another coin flip, as I think Kay Hansen is just a little green still. I believe the potential is there and she did win her UFC debut. However, at 21 years years of age, the fight IQ is is slowly developing. Meaning, lapses can happen. In the end, give me Hansen though to edge this fight out via decision.
UFC Vegas 14 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Kanako Murata – While Kanako Murata seems to have a few decent wins, she hasn’t fought anyone of late on the level of Randa Markos. Now, that’s not a death sentence by any means. Markos is one of the most inconsistent fighters and her last fight against McKenzie Dern showed a real lack of IQ. Against a ground specialist as decorated as Dern, one would advise against jumping into her guard. Markos did that, and ultimately paid dearly for it. While she doesn’t have to necessarily worry about that, she will have to fend off the wrestling of Murata. Her 58% takedown defense does gives me pause for concern, but ultimately I thing it holds up and allows her to get the better of Murata on the feet- ultimately winning via decision
135 lbs.: Geraldo de Freitas vs. Tony Gravely – This is yet again another coin flip. Of Tony Gravely’s six losses, five have come via decision. Also to note, five of the six losses have come to fighters who happen to have fought for the UFC or Bellator in the last year. Now, I point out the glaring issue of Gravely because Geraldo de Frietas happens to have five of twelve wins coming via submission. Both men liken the bout to hit the mat, with Gravely using his wrestling to control and ground-and-pound foes. Meanwhile, de Frietas likens to lock onto a submission. While I’m not sure what happens here, I’m going to ultimately side with de Frietas. Gravely has only lost to tough opponents, but I’m alarmed that 83% of his losses come via submission. On a limb though, give me Gravely’s wrestling to aide him in a decision victory.
170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. Rhys McKee – While Alex Morono got starched in his last fight against Khaos Williams, the notion that he has no chin is a little unfair. In his last fifteen fights, he has only been knocked out twice. Now, I know that Rhys McKee got the short end of the stick in his debut against Khazmat Chimaev. I also know that he’s a touted knockout artist out of Cage Warriors, but his resume really lacks that signature win to make me believe. Morono has ten UFC bouts under his belt, with good wins to boot. So with that, give me the veteran and more proven Morono to use his octagon experience to outpoint McKee via decision.
265 lbs.: Don’Tale Mayes vs. Roque Martinez – While Roque Martinez showed durability and toughness in his debut, that was about it. Upon furth review of his resume too, he’s literally fought a bunch of forty year old’s – some of which who came from kickboxing. Now, I’m not going to sit here and act like Don’Tale Mayes is anything home to write about either. He’s been submitted in both of his UFC fights, and his takedown defense is real iffy. However, Mayes has fought more relevant fighters within the Heavyweight division and he’s got some pop. I’m going to say, while I wouldn’t put it past Martinez to win via knockout – It’s Mayes via knockout that is my prediction.