The UFC is back in action, as they return to the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event is two Light Heavyweight contenders in Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka. A win for either men could very well catapult them to a title shot. So with that on the line, expect this fight to be a very contested one. Either way, these two finishers will put on a show, so don’t blink.
UFC Vegas 25 Main Card on ESPN2/ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka – Gosh this is a tough fight to call. On one hand, you have Dominick Reyes, who many thought dethroned Jon Jones. The following fight against Jan Blachowicz for the vacant Light Heavyweight belt, he got starched. Reyes, a solid striker and overall athlete, rose up the UFC ranks quickly. With power and speed, Reyes is a tough out for anyone. Meanwhile, Jiri Prochazka is an absolute madman. With speed and dynamic striking abilities, Prochazka is a buzzsaw on the feet. Not afraid to throw flying knees or lunge into foes, Prochazka has knocked out 24 of his 27 opponents. In fact, only one opponent he hasn’t finished. His one downfall is wildness, which this far, has really only cost him in his fight against King Mo. However, that was four years ago and Prochazka has won eleven straight since. As for a prediction, give me Prochazka to do what he does best, and win via TKO.
145 lbs.: Giga Chikadze vs. Cub Swanson – This is a true test for Giga Chikadze, as only Omar Morales presented himself to be a tough fight on paper for the Georgian. Chikadze would crush Morales, showing himself to be the very feared kickboxer we knew. I however am not completely sold yet, as four of his five opponents thus far have been not very good. Cub Swanson, while old in the tooth, is still a solid fighter. He’s insanely durable, has solid cardio, is a talented striker and fights with a high IQ. The last being detrimental for this fight, as I believe Swanson will mix in a takedowns at some point in the fight. It’s the one area of concern for Chikadze, who has been taken down by lesser wrestlers than Swanson. In the end, my prediction is that the veteran extends his win streak to three – winning via decision.
205 lbs.: Ion Cutelaba vs. Dustin Jacoby – While I initially had Ion Cutelaba winning via knockout in this fight, I’m switching to the late replacement Dustin Jacoby. It’s not even because I believe Jacoby is the better fighter, it’s more so because Cutelaba fight IQ and wild card fighting style is highly unpredictable. His willingness to brawl puts him in danger often and I foresee it causing him to lose via TKO.
185 lbs.: Krzysztof Jotko vs. Sean Strickland – I like this fight, but I see Sean Strickland coming out the victor. Between his striking volume and power, he holds advantages on the feet that I don’t believe Krzysztof Jotko can overcome. Throw in the stout takedown defense of Strickland and Jotko has little path to winning this fight in my opinion. So with that, I see Strickland continuing his rise up the Middleweight ranks, winning via knockout.
135 lbs.: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann – This is going to be fun fight, and it really depends on if Cody Stamann can consistently stuff takedowns for fifteen minutes, get off his striking and have the gas tank for the pace of Merab Dvalishvili. I believe Stamann can partially do all those things, but won’t win simply because Dvalishvili activity trying for takedowns for fifteen minutes – winning on cage control alone. In my opinion though, Dvalishvili will get some takedowns and some strikes, which will be good enough to win via decision.
UFC Vegas 25 Prelims Card on ESPN2/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Luana Pinheiro – Randa Markos career is on the line, as she’s dropped three straight fights and four of her last five. Throw in the fact that another loss would put her record under .500, and there is a lot to be concerned with. The one thing going for Markos however, is the fact that Luana Pinheiro has yet to really be tested by anyone. Throw in octagon jitters, and I see Markos taking advantage, winning with her jab via decision.
145 lbs.: TJ Brown vs. Kai Kamaka III – This is a toss-up. Neither have show exceptional gas tanks, which could make this a sloppy fight should it go long. My concern for TJ Brown is his durability, as he’s been finished in six of his eight losses. My concern for Kamaka III is his dreadful striking defense and takedown defense. Given Brown can wrestle, I expect him to exploit Kamaka’s weakness. Throw in the fact that while Kamaka throws exceptional volume on the feet, he lacks power. It’s that x-factor that should give Brown’s durability a better chance of holding up long enough to get the fight to the ground each round. So with that, give me Brown to win via decision.
125 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Luana Carolina – I really don’t trust Poliana Botelho, but she should be the better overall striker, albeit Luana Carolina bringing forth more volume on the feet. If Carolina proves to be stronger than Botelho, I could see Carolina push her against the cage. If not, and my prediction, Botelho eeks out a decision victory.
115 lbs.: Sam Hughes vs. Loma Lookboonmee – Sam Hughes got fed to wolves in her debut, fighting the resurging Tecia Torres. It doesn’t get any better, as she has to take on a tough volume striker in Loma Lookboonmee. I don’t see this going any better than her debut, other than I guess not getting finished. So with that, give me Lookboonmee to win via decision.
185 lbs.: K.B. Bhullar vs. Andreas Michailidis – While a debut against Tom Breese isn’t ideal, neither was K.B Bhullar’s resume heading into that debut. Minus fighting Matt Dwyer, Bhullar’s previous opponents didn’t shout out to me that he was UFC ready. Throw in the fact that Bhullar had a five year gap at one point in his career and I’m not entirely bullish on him. So with that, give me the experienced hard punching Andreas Michalidis to win via decision.
135 lbs.: Felipe Colares vs. Luke Sanders – Look for Luke Sanders to come out strong early and then fade the later the fight goes. If Sanders can’t secure a first round finish, then I fully expect the iron chinned Felipe Corales to turn the tide after round one. Given Sanders gas tank and countless woes after round one, give me Corrales to win via decision.