UFC Vegas 42 Main Card On ESPN+:Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez – This is one of the more anticipated fights of the year, as both men are two of the more exciting fighters not only in the Featherweight division, but the UFC. Since signing with the promotion in 2012, Holloway has accumulated eighteen wins. At only 29 years old, and five wins away from the all-time win leader Jim Miller, one could expect Holloway in due time will take that record. First things first though, getting back his UFC Featherweight title. With some of the best striking in the UFC, Holloway is the all-time leader in both significant and total strikes landed. With an average of 7.26 significant strikes landed per minute, Holloway looks to break opponents with his volume, pace and cardio. Meanwhile, Yair Rodriguez is a dynamic striker that looks to stay at range and pick apart opponents from the outside. More often than not, Rodriguez has done such. While he technically should have lost against Chan Sung Jung, only Frankie Edgar’s wrestling has truly stifled him. If Rodriguez can implement a heavy leg attack, there is a chance he can slow Holloway down and get in his offense.
As for a prediction, I have Holloway. While I believe Yair Rodriguez is an incredible talent, there are levels to this game. Holloway happens to be at the highest of levels. An incredible striker, with excellent takedown defense and an iron chin, Holloway is the complete package. In this particular fight, I foresee Rodriguez having his moments, but Holloway’s ability to pressure and throw volume is eventually going to overwhelm El Pantera. In the end, the accumulation of strikes and damage is going to put a halt to this fight, as Holloway wins via late TKO.Embed from Getty Images
265 lbs.: Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima – The chances of this fight going the distance are slim. Of Ben Rothwell’s thirty-nine victories, thirty-five have come via stoppage. With legitimate power and sneaky submissions, Rothwell isn’t one to let the judges decide his fate. The same could be said about Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Of the Brazilian’s eighteen wins, fifteen have come via stoppage. With power in his hands and maybe five minutes of cardio, de Lima looks to end fights early more often than not. In fact, thirteen of the fifteen stoppage victories have come in round one. Not to one up de Lima, but Rothwell has won twenty-eight of his thirty-five stoppages in the opening round. If I were to make a bet, given all the data, there is a good chance this one ends early.
As for a prediction, I have Ben Rothwell winning. While this fight can end in a heartbeat, there are too many factors that favor Rothwell. Not only does he have better cardio, but he boasts better durability, takedown defense and submissions. Another reason I believe Rothwell gets it done is because of his pressure. Often pushing forward, Rothwell is somewhat like the terminator. Despite resistance, Rothwell will break opponents with constant activity and pace. Given de Lima has about five minutes of cardio, I don’t see the Brazilian lasting that long under Rothwell’s pressure. So with that said, I predict that Rothwell wins via TKO.
145 lbs.: Felicia Spencer vs. Leah Letson – Despite Felicia Spencer’s struggles, she remains one of the more talented Featherweight’s on the roster. Perhaps that’s not saying much given the current state of the division, but she’s been around long enough to show her skills. Spencer is primarily a wrestler, who is a good positional grappler. Her faults though have come within her takedown defense and perhaps falling in love with her serviceable striking. In a fight against Norma Dumont, Spencer chose not to attempt even a single takedown, but to try and outstrike a striker. Given Leah Letson is a striker, she would welcome Spencer to go toe-to-toe with her. With three of her five professional wins coming via knockout, Letson may be one of the more powerful women in the Featherweight division.
As for a prediction, I have Spencer winning. With her back up against the wall, Spencer needs to right the ship immediately, otherwise she could find herself cut from the promotion. That means, Spencer will need to go back to her bread-and-butter wrestling. Given Letson is a striker, I believe Spencer will do just that. I also favor Spencer simply off activity. Letson being out for three years brings a real unknown as to how she will perform. So with all that said, I predict that Spencer wins via decision.
135 lbs.: Song Yadong vs. Julio Arce – This is an excellent fight and good test for both, as they climb up the Bantamweight ranks. Song Yadong, who is only twenty three years old, has done a magnificent job. With six wins inside the octagon, three of which come via finish, Yadong isn’t your average prospect. Having started fighting at sixteen years old, Yadong has already accumulated twenty three fights. Yadong is primarily a striker, who has power and does a good job of throwing volume. In eight UFC fights, only once has Yadong been outstruck. Then there is Julio Arce, who boasts excellent takedown defense and striking. Having defeated Dan Ige, who is currently 9th in the rankings, Arce is more than capable of making some noise in the Bantamweight division.
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As for a prediction, I have Yadong. While I expect this fight to be close, I believe Yadong is the better striker of the two. However, if Arce can get off a heavy leg attack, which he is capable of doing, things could get dicey. Ultimately I believe the volume and slightly better precision of Yadong is going to eke him out at least two rounds over Arce. So with that said, I predict that Yadong wins via decision.
170 lbs.: Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams – Initially this fight was buried on the prelims. However, after a fight on the main card was scrapped, this fight was the obvious choice to be elevated. In my opinion, it’s the second best fight on the card and deserved this spot before the opening. Before facing Santiago Ponzinibbio, Miguel Baeza had run through the competition, finishing three straight opponents. While he looked excellent in round one against Ponzinibbio, ultimately the pace and the Argentinian’s constant output broke him. Regardless, Baeza’s stock didn’t fall. A devastating striker, with a blend of power and volume, Baeza looks to systematically break opponents with leg kicks and overall technique. Khaos Williams on the other hand can be a bit of a wildcard. With legitimate knockout power, Williams isn’t afraid to brawl or blitz opponents. Obviously abandoning striking defense, Williams opts to take one to give one.
As for a prediction, I have Williams. While his deficiencies on the defensive side are noted, he has proven to be extremely durable. Dating back to his amateur fights, Williams has yet to be finished in twenty nine combined fights. The reason that I favor Williams though, is that while he carries power, he also does a good job being a high output striker. Landing 5.2 significant strikes a minute, as long as Williams isn’t being wrestled, you can expect him to explode inside the pocket and throw multiple punches. The only concern I have in this fight for Williams, is Baeza’s leg kicks. It’s a game changing element to the fight, that if Baeza can implement, he could slow-down Williams and pick him apart. In the end however, I expect a wild fight, one in which Williams wins via TKO.
UFC Vegas 42 ‘Prelims’ Under Card On ESPN+:Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez – One of the more underrated fighters, who has evolved each time out in the UFC, has to be Thiago Moises. With losses to the wolves of the division, and wins over some solid fighters like Bobby Green, Alexander Hernandez and Michael Johnson, Moises certainly has proven to be top fifteen Lightweight. In what I can describe as a stylistically tough fight for Joel Alvarez, it’s not out of the realm he can once again surprise. It’s just hard seeing a style that relies on marching forward and dropping to guard working on the upper echelon of the division. No less against an excellent grappler himself in Thiago Moises. Who am I to say though. Alvarez has eighteen wins, all via stoppage and sixteen coming via submission. Clearly, he’s a specialist.
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As for a prediction, I have Moises winning. While his striking isn’t anything special, it’s important to note that it has improved each fight out. However, Moises’ bread-and-butter is his grappling. Given Alvarez’s zero takedown defense and his willingness to drop down to guard, I don’t see Moises having any resistance in getting this fight to the ground. The only concerns are Alvarez’s submissions and his ability to reverse position. Given Alvarez wants this fight on the ground and has made a career there, I am wary of the situation. I just believe that Moises, being an excellent grappler, should be able to thwart any submission and reversal attempts. In the end, I believe Moises uses a steady diet of takedowns and top control to win via decision.
125 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee – When Cynthia Calvillo moved up to Flyweight, it was a wise move, as a combination of weight issues and lack of depth at 125 pounds presented an opportunity. In her Flyweight debut, she defeated a former title challenger in Jessica Eye. Instantaneously, the victory brought Calvillo to contender status and on the cusp of a title shot. However, back-to-back losses to contenders have dampened her positioning in the Flyweight division. A wrestler at heart, Calvillo has more often than not, fallen in love with her striking. In many instances, it has cost her fights. Then there is Andrea Lee. A fairly well rounded fighter, who does a good job of maintaining a high output and mixing in takedowns. The problem for Lee has been an inability to avoid close fights and her shotty takedown defense. Given two of her three defeats came via split decision, it would be wise for Lee to do more of what she displayed against Antonina Shevchenko to avoid the judges fate.
As for a prediction, I have Lee winning. I believe that she is the better overall fighter and should Calvillo once again prefer to strike rather than wrestle, she will be severely outpointed on the feet. However, if Calvillo implements a wrestling heavy approach, there is a possible path to victory for the 5th ranked Flyweight. I just need to see it to believe it though. In the end, Lee’s high output, pace and cardio shine through and earn her a hard fought decision victory.
145 lbs.: Sean Woodson vs. Collin Anglin – This should be an excellent fight, as both men have been fairly entering inside the octagon. Sean Woodson is a pure striker, who is massive for the weight class. Standing at 6’2 and with a 78′ reach, Woodson is the biggest Featherweight since Will Chope, who was 6’4. Using distance and his obvious reach advantage, Woodson looks to pepper opponents from the outside. While Woodson lacks power, he makes up for it with volume. Colin Anglin however, has a mix of power and volume. Anglin is also a solid wrestler, which might be his angle for attack in this fight. Especially considering, Julian Erosa had success and Youssef Zalal nearly edged Woodson out with two takedowns.
As for a prediction, I have Woodson winning. While I expect Anglin to wrestle, I do believe that Woodson has improved his takedown defense and his ability to avoid being held down. While upright, Woodson’s towering frame and seven inch reach advantage should aid him to outclass Anglin on the feet. Things could get dicey should Anglin back up against the cage, but his toughness and Woodson’s lack of power suggest this goes fifteen minutes. So with that, I predict that Woodson wins via decision.
125 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Liana Jojua – Both fighters have struggled of late, but there is a glaring difference in each’s struggles. For Cortney Casey, it’s not being able to separate herself from her opponent in the fight. In her last four decision losses, three have been split. For Liana Jojua, it’s being unable to adapt to the competition. Perhaps fighting nine opponents with a combined record of 13-7 didn’t exactly set her up for UFC caliber competition. Given that both have struggled, this is an excellent fight for one of them to get out of the proverbial dumpster.
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As for a prediction, I have Casey winning. Having fought some of the best fighters since signing with the promotion in 2015, Casey has an abundance of experience. She’s also the better fighter. Jojua may have grappling chops and submissions, but her striking isn’t anywhere near serviceable. As long as Casey keeps this fight upright and forgoes wrestling, she should batter Jojua on the feet. However, as has been the case with most of her career, keeping this fight upright is a big if. In the end though, I predict that Casey will win this fight via TKO.
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Alves – This feels to me like a fight to wake up Marc Diakiese. When he first arrived in the UFC in 2016, there was a lot of hype surrounding him. Three straight UFC victories, two of which came via knockout, solidified that hype. However since then, Diakiese has lost four of his last six and has been relegated to fights against lesser competition. Not to discredit Rafael Alves, but with a 19-10 record heading in, he’s not exactly in good standings in the Lightweight division. However, Alves is a live by the sword, die by the sword type fighter. In twenty-nine fights, Alves has only been to the scorecards five times. If Diakiese can’t get up for this fight, Alves is going to overwhelm him.
As for a prediction, I have Diakiese winning. Despite the inactivity and disappointing tenure in the UFC, Diakiese has fought better opponents and is the overall better fighter. In fact, one can argue, Alves represents the ‘easiest’ fight for Diakiese since taking on Teemu Packalen in 2017. Regardless, Diakiese should be able to avoid the wild spurts of Alves, and technically pick him apart on the feet. Diakiese may also mix in some of his newfound wrestling, as he’s worked in a combined seven takedowns in his last two victories. In the end, I believe Diakiese wins via decision.
205 lbs.: Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung – This is an intriguing fight to open the card, as both men are young and are entering this fight with momentum. Due to the shallowness of the Light Heavyweight division, the winner of this fight could very well become ranked. Kennedy Nzechukwu is a striker, who has excellent size and one of the longest reaches in the division. With an 80% takedown defense and an iron chin, Nzechukwu could be something special should he shore up his striking defense. Absorbing a little more than five significant strikes a minute, Nzechukwu is being overly reliant on his durability. Then there is Da Un Jung, who other than his fight against Sam Alvey, has dominated thus far in the UFC. With well rounded abilities, Jung has done an excellent job of game planning and executing inside the octagon. In Jung’s most recent fight, he neutralized William Knight by taking him down eight times.
As for a prediction, I have Jung. While I expect this fight to be very competitive, it’s Jung’s ability to mix in his wrestling that I favor in aiding him to victory. Nzechukwu’s takedown defense has been tested often, as he shrugged off thirty one of the thirty eight takedown attempts against him. However, when taken down, Nzechukwu has shown he can be controlled for lengths of times. Given Jung just controlled the physically strong Knight for twelve of the fifteen minutes of the fight, I’m going to say he should, in some capacity, do the same against Nzechukwu. So with that said, I predict that Jung wins via decision.