After a fun UFC 259 card, the UFC returns to APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada with a light, but intriguing card. Headlining the event is an important welterweight showdown between […]
After a fun UFC 259 card, the UFC returns to APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada with a light, but intriguing card. Headlining the event is an important welterweight showdown between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad. Edwards enters this fight a winner of his last eight fights, but hasn’t fought since defeating Rafael do Anjos in July of 2019. Muhammad too enters this bout on fire, winning four consecutive and eight of his last nine fights. This is a main event is a perfect one in that Muhammad deserves a top ranked foe like Edwards and at the same time, Edwards with a win over Muhammad deserves a title shot. Either way, the winner of this is in for better days.
UFC Vegas 21 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad – This is an excellent fight and I really believe we are in for a treat here. Both men are well rounded mixed martial artist. Edwards being the technical striker whom is a solid wrestler. While Muhammad is workhorse who strikes with volume and likes to grind foes against the cage – working for takedowns occasionally. When it comes to cardio, it’s hard not to give Edwards the advantage given he’s gone five rounds with Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone – defeating both of them. However pace-wise, Muhammad easily takes it. Using pressure and volume striking, Muhammad is a tough one to outpoint for three rounds. Can he do it for five? We’ll see.
As for a prediction, give me Edwards. While I like Muhammad’s work rate better, the technical Edwards should land the cleaner strikes. As far as wrestling, I lean Muhammad, but as the rounds wane – that advantage goes to Edwards in my opinion. My thoughts are that Muhammad doesn’t have the cardio to push a pace like he does for five rounds. I could be wrong, but I’m going with that notion and Edwards to win via decision.
205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Ryan Spann – This fight goes two ways. Either Spann knocks out the chinny Cirkunov or the Canadian gets Spann down and submits him. Given Spann failed to knockout Devin Clark and Sam Alvey, it gives me more hope for Cirkunov to survive long enough to get the fight where he wants it. So with that, give me Cirkunov to win via submission.
145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker – If Tucker fights like how he did against Billy Quarantillo, expect this fight to be fireworks. Ige is all business and with a win over Edson Barboza, has proven he can go toe to toe with a fearsome striker. However, Tucker’s willingness to mix in volume striking and takedowns has me leaning towards the Canadian. Ige definitely has the power edge and a granite chin, but his takedown defense has been iffy at times. If Tucker can exploit it, the route to victory becomes clearer. Given all that, give me the upset minded Tucker via decision.
135 lbs.: Davey Grant vs. Jonathan Martinez – I have a feeling that between Grant’s willingness to brawl and search for takedowns, that this fight is going to be sloppy at times and a real grind. Martinez realistically should win, as his takedown defense and striking should be enough for him to edge Grant. However, give me the feisty Grant to turn this into a sloppy fight and edge it out via decision.
125 lbs.: Matheus Nicolau vs. Manel Kape – We didn’t see the real Kape in his debut against Alexandre Pantoja. He looked flat and tentative, which is far from what he was in RIZIN. While Nicolau is a stiff chest, his chin has been somewhat of an issue. I believe Kape will find it at some point, let’s say round three.
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart – I like Anders, but I really don’t like him jumping up and down from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight. That’s a twenty pound difference. In a fight like this, which is going to feature heavy strikes, I get nervous for Anders cardio. Meanwhile, Stewart is a tank, who throws absolute leather and has shown a grasp in the wrestling department. It had been something that cost him fights, but he’s evolving with the times. As for a prediction, I’ve got Stewart. Once Anders tires, he’s going to get cracked and finished by Stewart.
UFC Vegas 21 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder – Hill offers volume striking and the will to win, while Yoder just seems to love close fights and doesn’t seem to ever put the pedal to metal. While Yoder might succeed in taking Hill down, when Hill does pop back up – she will dominate Yoder on the feet. In the end, Hill get’s her hand raised via decision.
145 lbs.: Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo – While I do see holes in Jourdain’s game, I believe his technical work should hold off the Argentinian knockout artist Rojo. In Rojo’s last five, he’s lost twice via submission. Perhaps Jourdain takes him down? Regardless, give me Jourdain to win via decision.
135 lbs.: Ray Rodriguez vs. Rani Yahya – Someone is getting finished here. Either Yayha gasses and gets finished or Rodriguez’s lack of submission defense fails him. I’ll go with the latter, as Yayha does what he does best – submits people.
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Nasrat Haqparast – While Garcia may be undefeated, a short notice fight against a young talent like Haqparast is not ideal. Expect Haqparast to land with his usual high volume, winning via decision.
125 lbs.: J.J. Aldrich vs. Cortney Casey – This fight is a toss up, partially because I believe Casey is the better fighter, but her weight disadvantage has shown to be apparent in her last two fights. Given Aldrich is a striker though, Casey realistically should be able to out strike her. You know what, let’s go with Casey via decision.
115 lbs.: Gloria de Paula vs. Jinh Yu Frey – From everything I hear, de Paula is a fierce striker. If she can muster of an ounce of volume, than Frey has nothing for her. So with that, give me de Paula to win via decision.
170 lbs.: Matthew Semelsberger vs. Jason Witt – While Semelsberger’s debut was solid, it was against someone who might not be UFC caliber. Witt isn’t going to be a pushover, as he has the experience edge and a UFC win under his belt too. While I expect Witt to implement a heavy wrestling game, I also expect him to tire at some point. That will open the door for the volume striker Semelsberger to pile it on the veteran, finishing him via TKO.