UFC Vegas 53 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera – The Main-event comes in the Bantamweight division, as Rob Font takes on Marlon “Chito” Vera. Coming off a tough loss to Jose Aldo, Font will look to rebound in short order. Having previously strung together four straight wins, Font was nearing a title shot. Still in the mix, Font has an opportunity to put his name back in the mix with a victory here. Meanwhile, Vera comes into this fight a winner of two straight and three of the last four. Having most recently defeated Frankie Edgar via a spectacular front kick knockout, Vera heads into his first main event with momentum.
As for a prediction, I have Font winning. This is going to be an excellent and exciting main event, as both men are two of the very best Bantamweight’s. Font is a excellent boxer, who is among the top ten in several striking categories. A wrestler too, Font isn’t afraid to mix in a takedown or two throughout a fight. Perhaps other than his elite striking, is his durability and cardio. Having been in back-to-back five round fights, Font pushes a hard pace and seemingly never slows down – which is also guided by the fact that in twenty-four fights, he been stopped only once via submission. Vera though won’t be an easy foe to get by, as he has the most finishes in the Bantamweight division at nine and most submission attempts. A striker to the core, Vera looks to break down foes with volume and eventually put them down. However, if taken down, Vera has a dangerous guard. Willing to throw up submissions, Vera isn’t someone that can be easily controlled. The reason though I believe Vera falls short is that he hasn’t gone five rounds, even though he’s got solid cardio, and his activity level is slightly less than Font’s. Either way, this is going to be an eventful fight. One that I believe Font will win via decision.Embed from Getty Images
265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier – The Co-Main event of the evening comes in the Heavyweight division, as Jake “The Prototype” Collier takes on Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski. Having traded wins and losses for the past eleven fights, Collier has an opportunity to break that trend and win two straight for the first time since 2013/2014. A former Middleweight and Light Heavyweight, the current Heavyweight Collier has impressively won in each weight class. Something which very few have ever done. Meanwhile, Arlovski comes into this fight a winner of three straight and five of his last six. When Arlovski enters the octagon, it will the 38th time – which will put him one behind Jim Miller for most in the UFC. However, should Arlovksi win. He will find himself ties with said Miller for the most wins in UFC history.
As for a prediction, I have Arlovski winning. This fight honestly can go either way, but the veteran has been getting it done of late and I can’t help but to side with him. The worries I do have, are that Collier is the more active fighter, has better cardio and does a nice job attacking the legs. However, of late, Arlovski has been more active than usual. Landing a combined 252 significant strikes over the last three fights, Arlovski is averaging 84 strikes per fifteen minutes. That’s nearly two more significant strikes per minute over his average. While I expect this fight to be close and wouldn’t be surprised if Collier won, I liken the fifty-three fight veteran to weasel his way to a fourth straight win. So with that said, I predict Arlovski to win via decision.
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Joanderson Brito – We have a scrap in the Featherweight division, as Andre “Touchy” Fili takes on Joanderson “Tubarao” Brito. Returning to the octagon for his first appearance in 2022, Fili will look to put behind his most recent fight that ended in a no contest due to an accidental poke. A fight in which Fili was dominating and well on his way to winning. With only one win since 2020, Fili will need to start picking it up if he were to get back in the mix at 145 pounds. Meanwhile, Brito comes into this fight off an unsuccessful UFC debut. One in which snapped an eleven-fight unbeaten streak. With the octagon jitters aside, Brito gets a second crack at a UFC victory against a very tough foe.
As for a prediction, I have Fili winning. This is a tough draw for Brito, who is a good striker with legitimate power. He even boast good wrestling and cardio. However, Brito lacks takedown defense and is a bit inept off his back. Two area’s in which he will likely find himself needing to overcome to win this fight, as Fili has excellent wrestling to go along with with striking. Landing 2.5 takedowns per fifteen minutes at a 50% clip, I expect Fili to avoid striking as much and get straight to wrestling. So with that said, I predict that Fili wins via decision.
155 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Grant Dawson – We have an pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, as Jared “Flash” Gordon takes on Grant “KGD” Dawson. Heading into this fight on a three-fight win streak, Gordon has certainly put behind a stretch that saw him get knocked out in three of four fights. Having had struggles making weight at Featherweight, Gordon has permanently moved up Lightweight. A choice in which should aide his durability. Meanwhile, Dawson will be making his first appearance in 2022. Having drew in his most recent fight against Ricky Glenn, Dawson still maintained eight-fight win streak – five of which have come in the UFC.
As for a prediction, I have Dawson winning. While there is a stark contrast in cardio, being that Gordon can go a hard fifteen minutes and Dawson seemingly fades after two rounds, there is also a wrestling and size edge that will help “KGD” get it done. Seeing that Gordon had issues fending off Joe Solecki to the tune of four takedowns and six minutes of control time, I don’t see Dawson struggling to get this fight to where he wants it – the mat. As a spam takedown artist, Dawson has landed seventeen takedowns in only five fights. The only concern is cardio. However, despite Gordon having that cardio edge and good grappling, his takedown defense of 50% leaves him vulnerable to Dawson taking him down and controlling him. So with that said, I predict that Dawson wins via decision.Embed from Getty Images
145 lbs.: Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly – We have an intriguing fight in the Featherweight division, as Darren “The Damage” Elkins takes on Tristan “Boondock” Connelly. Seeing a two-fight win streak snapped in his most recent bout, Elkins will look to rebound in short order. Known for his ability to withstand punishment, the recent knockout defeat to Swanson was only the second time Elkins has been stopped in his last seventeen fights. Meanwhile, Connelly returns to the octagon for the first time in a year. Having signed with the promotion in 2019, and defeating Michel Pereira, Connelly has seen injuries and inactivity halt any momentum.
As for a prediction, I have Elkins winning. While normally I’d write that I expect Elkins to get hurt at some point and weather the storm, Connelly doesn’t possess the power to put Elkins in that position. Connelly does have some decent striking abilities, but his bread-and-butter is his grappling. Having won nine of his fourteen victories by submission, Connelly is a major threat anytime the fight hits the mat. However, Elkins is a solid wrestler who in thirty-six professional fights, has only been submitted once – to the current Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira. With a grinding style, I believe Elkins can more or less smother and neutralize Connelly like Pat Sabatini did. So with that said, I predict that Elkins wins via decision.
185 lbs.: Krzysztof Jotko vs. Gerald Meerschaert – We have a pivotal fight in the Middleweight division, as Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert takes on Krzysztof Jotko. A winner of three straight, all via submission, Meerschaert comes into this fight with excellent momentum. Currently not ranked, one would think with a win over Jotko, there is a possibility Meerschaert could see a number next to his name. Meanwhile, Jotko has won four of his last five fights. The most recent victory against Misha Cirkunov was his tenth in the UFC, an impressive feat. With another victory, Jotko should assuredly be eyeballing a ranked fight next.
As for a prediction, I have Jotko winning. While Meerschaert is currently on his best win streak since joining the UFC in 2016, I believe that Jotko’s game can neutralize the submission specialist. Starting with Jotko’s takedowns defense. Sitting at 83% in the UFC, Jotko has proven to be tough to take down. And while Cirkunov managed to get Jotko down five times, the Pole stuffed twelve other takedowns and was only controlled for four minutes of the fifteen minute fight. Meerschaert being reliant on getting this fight to the ground, is going to have to work hard for it. Otherwise, on the feet, Jotko is the more technical and defensively sound fighter. Meerschaert is tough and isn’t afraid to brawl, but doesn’t quite have the technique of Jotko. Lastly, Meerschaert has made a living off weathering storms and taking over as his opponent’s cardio wanes. Jotko however has no cardio issues and has won via decision in nine of his ten UFC victories. Make it ten, as I believe Jotko gets it done once again via decision.
UFC Vegas 53 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN2/ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):Embed from Getty Images
265 lbs.: Chase Sherman vs. Alexandr Romanvov – We have a clash in the Heavyweight division, as Alexandr “King Kong” Romanov takes on Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman. Returning to the octagon for the first time in 2022, Romanov will look to continue his climb up the Heavyweight division. Undefeated and 4-0 in the UFC, Romanov continues to prove that he is a force to be reckon with. Meanwhile, Sherman steps into this fight on short notice. Having been recently cut for the second time by the UFC, Sherman answered the call to get a third chance to make things right. A loser of three straight, the time is now for Sherman to make a statement.
As for a prediction, I have Romanov winning. While I give Sherman props for stepping up, I don’t think he stands much of a chance in this fight. Having lost to Parker Porter and Jake Collier in back-to-back fights, Sherman just doesn’t exude UFC quality. With good striking abilities, if Sherman can’t hurt his opponent, he becomes a human punching bag as the wades on. Something in which he may not have to worry about, as Romanov should finish this fight relatively quickly. Landing thirteen takedowns in four fights, Romanov is going to get this fight down to mat early and ground-and-pound his way to a quick TKO victory.
125 lbs.: Daniel Lacerda vs. Francisco Figueiredo – We have a good one in the Flyweight division, as Daniel “Miojo” Lacerda takes on Francisco “Sniper” Figueiredo. Coming off an unsuccessful UFC debut, Lacerda returns to the octagon seeking to right the wrong. Before joining the promotion, Lacerda had rattled off three straight wins, all via stoppage. Meanwhile, Figueiredo will look to rebound from his first defeat since 2017. Having been involved in two close UFC fights, Figueiredo will need to do a better of implementing his game and avoiding the judges deciding his fate.
As for a prediction, I have Lacerda winning. While the odds are relatively close in this fight, the lack of striking and cardio from Figueiredo is going to be a major factor in every fight. With good grappling, Figueiredo has had a relatively easy time getting the fight to mat. However, he’s had some issues maintaining positioning and is a whole different fighter as the fight wanes on. In fact, in both UFC fights, he lost round three due his cardio woes. On the other hand, Lacerda is a karate based striker who is simply a buzzsaw. Using his full arsenal, which includes spinning and flying attacks, Lacerda looks to put his foe down early. While his wrestling needs work, he’s shown on the regional scene that he has a dangerous guard game. Something which will be important in this fight, as Figueiredo seeks to get this fight to mat. The only concern I have for Lacerda is his unknown cardio. Having only seen a round two only twice, there is a possibility Lacerda may have nothing in the tank. Nevertheless, I believe Lacerda gets Figueiredo out of there before that’s a factor. So with that said, I predict Lacerda to win via TKO.Embed from Getty Images
170 lbs.: Gabe Green vs. Yohan Lainesse – We have an early contender for ‘Fight of the Night;, as newcomer Yohan “White Lion” Lainesse takes on Gabe “Gifted” Green. Undefeated and coming off an excellent knockout victory on Dana White’s Contender Series, Lainesse will look to prove that he isn’t a flash in the pan. Known for power, Lainesse has stopped six of his eight fights via knockout. Meanwhile, Green returns to the octagon for the first time in a little over a year. Looking to build off his first UFC victory over Phil Rowe, Green will have to shake off any rust early in what is likely to be an all out brawl.
As for a prediction, I have Green winning. While Lainesse has immense power and his offensive wrestling abilities look good, his striking in general is very awkward. Not saying that is a bad thing, however being aggressive with looping strikes is eventually going to expose you to a clean shot. Obviously, it hasn’t happened yet, but I believe Green can be that first. Also defensively not sound, Green make’s up for with a cast iron chin, solid striking, good cardio and a dangerous ground game. On the feet, Green is volume based. Landing combinations with the entire arsenal, Green looks to pressure and engulf opponents over time. While it’s feasible to worry about the two knockout defeats on the resume, Green has yet to be dropped despite absorbing 7.23 significant strikes per minute in his two UFC fights. So with that said, in a wild one, I predict that Green wins via TKO.
155 lbs.: Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden – We have a showdown in the Lightweight division, as Mike “Money” Breeden takes on Natan Levy. Coming off an unsuccessful UFC debut on short notice against Alexander Hernandez, Breeden will look for a full camp and lesser opponent to aid him in winning his first fight in the UFC. Previous to the defeat, Breeden has won two straight and five of the last six fights. Meanwhile, Levy too is coming off an unsuccessful UFC debut. A fight in which was a wrestling heavy affair, and saw Levy constantly trying to fend off takedowns. Unfortunately Levy wound up losing, seeing his undefeated record shattered in the process.
As for a prediction, I have Levy winning. While Breeden is a good offensive striker, he has shown poor striking defense and takedown defense. Two area’s where I see Levy capitalizing. A karate based fighter, Levy likes to keep distance and pick apart his opponents. However, in his UFC debut and despite being taken down seven times, Levy showed that he some wrestling chops. Landing three takedowns himself, Levy still remains as the only fighter to take Rafa Garcia down in the UFC. Seeing that Breeden has vastly struggled against wrestlers, I expect Levy to mix in takedowns at some point in the fight. So with that said, I predict that Levy will win this fight via decision.Embed from Getty Images
125 lbs.: Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young – We have an intriguing fight in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Gina “Danger” Mazany takes on Shanna “The Shanimal” Young. Coming off a tough loss to Priscila Cachoeira, Mazany will look to rebound here. Currently on her second UFC stint and with a 3-5 record with the promotion, it’s pertinent for Mazany to win. Otherwise, she may once again find herself fighting on the regional scene. Meanwhile, Young is hoping that the third time’s the charm. Having yet to taste UFC victory, dropping two straight, Young comes into this fight desperately needing a victory.
As for a prediction, I have Mazany winning. While Mazany’s durability and striking are problematic, her wrestling abilities are solid. Having landed eleven takedowns in the past two fights, it’s evident that Mazany’s game plan is to wrestle early and often. Against a striker in Young, I see that approach being effective. With a 58% takedown defense, Young has been susceptible to being taken down. In fact, in Young’s two UFC fights, she has been taken down five times and controlled for 11:01 of the 22:22 minutes she’s been in the cage for. Something which Mazany definitely will add onto. So with that said, I predict that Mazany wins via decision.
125 lbs.: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario – We have an intriguing fight in the Flyweight division, as newcomers Tatsuro Taira and Carlos “The Cannon” Candelario clash. Having fought solely in Japan, Taira will come to the US looking to prove that he is the best Flyweight on the planet. A perfect 10-0, Taira has impressively defeated four opponents with over ten victories. Meanwhile, Candelario comes into his UFC debut having most recently suffered his first professional defeat via split decision on Dana White’s Contender Series. Despite the loss however, Candelario earned a contract and finally will get a chance to fight under the brightest lights.
As for a prediction, I have Taira winning. From the tape I’ve seen on the Shooto Flyweight Champion, he’s very well rounded. Light on the feet, Taira likes to chop down foes with leg kicks and barrage them with quick strikes. Where his game is at it’s best though, is on the mat. With solid takedowns, devastating ground-and-pound and excellent submissions, Taira is not someone you want to be grappling with. If given even the slightest opening, he will be on you back with a locked in Rear Naked Choke. While Candelario looks UFC ready and could give Taira some fits, ultimately his lack of takedown defense and suspect cardio are going to be factors in this fight. So with that said, I predict Taira will win via submission.