UFC Vegas 56 Main Card On ESPN+:

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265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – The main-event comes in the Heavyweight division, as Alexander “Drago” Volkov takes on Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik. Coming off losses in two of the last three fights, Volkov returns the octagon needing to get back on track. Still ranked seventh in the division, Volkov has an opportunity to keep his name in the mix with a victory. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik steps into his fourth main event looking to rebound. Having traded wins and losses over the past six fights, Rozenstruik will need to find consistency if he were to ever contend for the belt.

Anytime Heavyweights step inside the octagon, more likely than not, you’re expecting a finish. While both men combine for thirty-six stoppages, they’ve been two of the more durable Heavyweights on the roster. In fifteen fights, Rozenstruik has only been stopped once via strikes to the current Champion, Francis Ngannou. As for Volkov, in forty-four fights, the Russian has only been stopped five times. With only two of those five coming via knockout. Which is more relevant, given Rozenstruik is a pure striker with zero submission victories in his career.

As for a prediction, I have Volkov winning. One of the best Heavyweights on the roster, Volkov, despite his recent stumbles, has largely been a consistent fighter. His four losses in the UFC have only come to the best, as evident by the fact that they all rank within the top six of the Heavyweight division. A striker, who doesn’t possess knockout power like Rozenstruik, Volkov leans on his volume and cardio to break fighters down over time. While his takedown defense has failed him numerous times, against a pure striker in Rozenstruik, the towering Russian won’t have to worry about being taken down. Obviously durability is key in a fight against a heavy handed foe, which I believe Volkov has proven time and time again that he can endure punishment. Another reason why I like Volkov in this fight, is that Rozenstruik is a hesitant striker. Aside from his fight against Alistair Overeem where he landed 89 significant strikes in roughly 25 minutes of action, the next highest strike total the Suriname native landed was a mere 42. A number that Volkov has eclipsed in ten of his twelve fights inside the octagon. With that said, I predict that Volkov will outpoint Rozenstruik, winning via decision.

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145 lbs.: Movsar Evloev vs. Dan Ige – The co-main event comes in the Featherweight division, as Dan “50k” Ige takes on Movsar Evloev. Making his first appearance in 2022, Ige will look to put a halt to a two-fight skid. Still ranked tenth at 145 pounds, Ige remains in a good position to stake his claim as a contender. Meanwhile, Evloev comes into this fight a perfect 15-0. Having turned aside all five opponents thrown at him in the UFC, Evloev has been given an opportunity to not only crack the division’s top ten, but also elevate himself into a contender.

Since joining the UFC in 2018, Ige has fought eleven times. While he may be on a two-fight skid, Ige has won seven fights inside the octagon. Never in a boring fight or one to relent to competition, Ige is a tough opponent for anyone. However, I believe that Evloev will win this fight. The Russian is a well rounded fighter, who is cerebral and changes his style up to whatever the opponent is weak in. Ige, notably has had issues with takedown defense. Something in which I expect to be attacked by Evloev, who has already secured twenty takedowns in five fights inside the octagon. With that said, behind a heavy dose of wrestling, I predict that Evloev will win via decision.

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145 lbs.: Lucas Almeida vs. Michael Trizano – We have a clash in the Featherweight division, as Mike “The Lone Wolf” Trizano takes on promotional newcomer Lucas Almeida. Returning to the octagon for the for the second time in 2022, Trizano comes into this fight looking to rebound. Having traded wins and losses in the past four fights, Trizano will need to find some consistency should he want to progress in a stacked Featherweight division. Meanwhile, Almeida comes into UFC debut off a submission victory in November of 2021. Having fought on Dana White’s Contender Series previous to the victory, despite losing, Almeida clearly was on the UFC radar. With a 13-1 record, the Jungle Fight Lightweight Champion appears ready to fight under the bright lights.

As for a prediction, I have Trizano winning. An under the radar fight, this one could be exciting. Almeida is a pure striker, who is very active and likes to press forward. Having won all thirteen of his fights inside the distance, eight of which have come via strikes, Almeida can be a handful to deal with. However, there are a few problems in Almeida’s game. For one, his striking defense is not very good. In the Brazilian’s fight on DWCS, he absorbed 115 significant strikes. With a tendency to drop his hands, Almeida has made it easy on opponents looking to get off their offense. Another few problems Almeida has had trouble with, is grappling and takedown defense. While Trizano tends to lean on his striking, he has shown wrestling and grappling abilities. With Almeida being a more active striker than Trizano, I’m going to venture to guess, Trizano is going to mix in some takedowns. Not that I don’t think he can outduel Almeida, but it would be wise not to play with fire too long. With that said, I predict that Trizano will win via decision.

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125 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Karine Silva – We have a showdown in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Poliana Botelho takes on UFC newcomer Karine “Killer” Silva. A loser of two straight and three of the last four, Botelho comes into this fight urgently needing a victory. Fighting for the first time in 2022, Botelho will look to the new year to right the ship. Meanwhile, Silva comes into her UFC debut on a five-fight win streak. Known for her finishing prowess, Silva enters the octagon with all fourteen of her wins coming via stoppage. Only once in her eighteen fights, has Silva been to the scorecards.

Despite what the odds say, this is a difficult fight to predict. Botelho may be on a tough skid, but she has an overwhelming advantage on the feet. Armed with knockout power, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Botelho notch her seventh stoppage via strikes in this fight. However, Silva is a physically strong grappler. Always looking to get the fight to the mat, even pulling guard, Silva is dangerous on the ground. With five of her last eight victories coming via submission, it would be wise for Botelho to avoid the ground.

As for a prediction, I’m going with Silva. While I recognize the threat that Botelho offers on the feet, she has had issues avoiding being controlled. In the last two fights alone, Luana Carolina had nearly five and a half minutes of control time, while Robertson controlled Botelho for nine and a half minutes. Silva being the ground specialist that she is, can and will likely exploit this vulnerability. With that said, I predict that Silva will win via submission.

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After putting out this prediction, Sherdog has released an article regarding Askar Mozharov record isn’t what it seems. Literally, losses are being notched on by the day. Due to this, while I’m not one to change predictions after writing them, I’d throw caution tape on this!

205 lbs.: Alonzo Menifield vs. Askar Mozharov – We have a scrap in the Light Heavyweight division, as Alonzo “Atomic” Menifield takes on newcomer Askar “No Mercy” Mozharov. Returning to the octagon for the first time in 2022, Menifield will look to rebound from a decision defeat in his most recent fight. Having won two straight prior, Menifield had seemed to turn the corner. Yet this recent stumble was another speedbump. Meanwhile, Mozharov steps into his UFC debut on short notice. A winner of three straight, Mozharov brings forth a kill or be killed style. With twenty-one wins in his twenty-nine professional fights, he’s been the hammer more often than the nail.

As for a prediction, I have Mozharov winning. In seven fights in the UFC, Menifield has not progressed the way I thought he would. Entering the UFC, as a knockout artist, Menifield hasn’t quite been as menacing of late. In fact, in the last five fights, Menifield has only scored one finish – via submission. Mozharov is buzzsaw on the feet, and will certainly bring the fight to Menifield. While his style has led him to being stopped eight times, I still like his chances to win this fight. With heavy hands, solid leg kicks and excellent speed, Mozharov is the type of fighter to light you up before you even knew what hit you. Nineteen first round finishes would back me up on that notion. So with all that said, I predict Mozharov to win via knockout.

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115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz – We have a rematch in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Felice “The Lil Bulldog” Herrig takes on Karolina Kowalkiewicz. After nearly two years away from the octagon, Herrig returns looking to erase a three-fight losing streak. Having not won a fight since 2017, and at 37 years old, Herrig’s UFC tenure may hang in the balance. Meanwhile, Kowalkiewicz comes into this fight on a horrid five-fight skid. Looking less like the once title challenger, Kowalkiewicz will have to dig deep to find her competitive spirit.

This fight is essentially a crapshoot. Herrig, began her UFC career with an excellent 5-1 record. At one point, she had rattled off four straight wins. Then she faced Kowalkiewicz, who defeated her via split decision. Herrig would go on to lose two more fights in a near four year span, bringing the losing streak to three. As for the aforementioned Kowalkiewicz, the last time she won a fight, was against Herrig. Which was a little over four years ago. Since that fight, Kowalkiewicz has lost five straight.

As for a prediction, I have Herrig winning. While her inactivity is certainly a red flag, there is something to be said about Kowalkiewicz being a shell of herself. In fact, during this five-fight losing streak, Kowalkiewicz has not won a single round. No longer a feared striker, Kowalkiewicz at this point, may only threaten with submissions from guard. Given Herrig has only been submitted once in twenty-three fights, with her last bout being the one, I’m pretty certain her submission defense will hold up. A kickboxer, with good wrestling, Herrig’s ability to mix up her attack should fair well in this fight. With that said, I predict Herrig exacts revenge, winning via decision.

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UFC Vegas 56 ‘Prelims’ On ESPN+:

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155 lbs.: Alex Da Silva vs. Joe Solecki – We have an intriguing fight in the Lightweight division, as Joe Solecki takes on Alex “Leko” da Silva. Coming off his first loss in the UFC, Solecki returns to the octagon looking to rebound. Previous to the defeat, Solecki had rattled off six straight wins, three of which came in the UFC. Meanwhile, da Silva comes into this fight on a near two-year layoff. Having lost two of his three fights inside the octagon, da Silva will need to shake off any rust and snag a victory. Otherwise, the Brazilian could find his UFC tenure cut short.

As for a prediction, I have Solecki winning. While da Silva has an impressive record, and nearly defeated Brad Riddell, his takedown defense, grappling and cardio are vulnerabilities that will come to play in this fight. A talented striker, with finishing power, da Silva is at his best on the feet. Having some offensive wrestling to fall back on, the Brazilian has proven that if needed, he can mix in some takedowns. However, da Silva may want to avoid taking this fight to the ground. Solecki is a BJJ wizard, who has won seven of his eleven victories via submission. Having defeated Jim Miller prior to his most recent fight, Solecki has proven that he is not to be taken lightly on the ground. An area where he looks to get the fight to early and often. Given da Silva’s takedown defense and cardio woes, I see Solecki having very little issues doing just that. So with that said, I predict that Solecki wins this fight via submission.

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125 lbs.: Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ode Osbourne – We have a clash in the Flyweight division, as Ode “The Jamaican Sensation” Osbourne takes on Zarrukh “The Lion” Adashev. Coming off a win over C.J. Vergara, Osborne will look to keep the good times rolling. Having traded wins and losses for the past five fights, Osborne has an opportunity to secure his first winning streak since 2019. Meanwhile, Adashev returns to the octagon for the first time in 2022. Coming off his first UFC victory, which halted a two-fight skid, Adashev will look to capture his first winning streak in the UFC.

As for a prediction, I have Osbourne winning. While Adashev is the more credentialed striker, notably fighting for Glory Kickboxing before entering the UFC, his experience hasn’t quite translated to mixed martial arts. A 4-3 record would back me up on that notion. However, Adashev is improving, especially with his a takedown defense. An important aspect needed against certain styles and verse the upper echelon of the division. Osbourne though, isn’t exactly a wrestler. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if he attempts a takedown. A striker at heart, Osbourne boast speed, high activity and aggressiveness. Most of the time, he also carries a significant reach advantage. In this particular fight, it’s seven inches. An aspect in which will be very telling, as I believe Osbourne will be able to get off the majority of his attack – while avoiding Adashev at the same time. With that said, I back Osbourne to win the fight via decision.

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170 lbs.: Benoit Saint Denis vs. Niklas Stolze – We have a clash in the Lightweight division, as Benoit “God of War” Saint-Denis takes on Niklas “Green Mask” Stolze. Coming off an unsuccessful UFC debut, which happened to be his first professional debut, Saint-Denis returns to the octagon looking to secure his first UFC victory. Prior to the defeat, Saint-Denis was 8-0, with all his wins coming inside the distance. Meanwhile, Stolze will hope that the third time’s the charm. Looking to halt a two-fight skid, and presumably keep his UFC tenure in tact, Stolze comes into this fight desperately needing a victory.

As for a prediction, I have Saint-Denis winning. While Stolze has faced some tough competition in his first two UFC fights, I haven’t seen much of the kickboxer that entered the UFC. Obviously getting starched in 68 seconds in one fight and having to fend off takedowns in another aren’t exactly going to show me much. However, that’s more on his abilities. One’s that coming into the UFC, showed a lack of takedown defense and a hands low approach that could lead to problematic striking defense. At the highest level in the UFC, more often than not, you’ll get exposed.

The same could be said about Saint-Denis, who absorbed an absurd 149 significant strikes in his debut defeat. A fight that should of been stopped, but instead showed Saint-Denis may in fact be a zombie. Regardless, Saint-Denis lacks as a striker and it showed. His bread-and-butter is his grappling, where he won seven of eight victories via submission. Seeing that Stolze struggled to fend of Ramazan Emeev and was controlled for nearly seven minutes, leads me to believe that Saint-Denis could see some success. Not that he’s on par as a wrestler with Emeev, but that Stolze’s takedown defense has largely been a vulnerability. One that I believe Saint-Denis will attack. With that said, I predict that Saint-Denis will win via submission.

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135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Johnny Munoz Jr. – We have a showdown in the Bantamweight division, as Tony Gravely takes on Johnny “Kid Kvenbo” Munoz Junior. A winner of three of his last four, Gravely comes into his sixth UFC appearance with momentum. Known for his wrestling, Gravely has landed an astonishing twenty-eight takedowns in five fights. Eleven of which came in his most recent victory over Saimon Oliveira. Meanwhile, Munoz returns the octagon for the first time in 2022. Rebounding from an unsuccessful UFC debut, which happened to be his first professional defeat, Munoz showcased his excellent grappling abilities in a submission victory over Jamey Simmons.

As for a prediction, I have Munoz winning. An excellent fight to open the card, I expect this to be a grind. Gravely, being a wrestler, has shown that he will not be denied in getting the fight to the ground. Landing twenty-eight takedowns at a 55% clip, Gravely already ranks among the top ten all-time in both categories. Remarkable, given Gravely has only fought five times inside the octagon. However, the reason I’m not siding with Gravely, is simply his submission defense. Of his seven professional defeats, five have come via submission. Munoz being an excellent grappler with slick submissions, is definitely someone who Gravely will have to be wary about. A spam takedown artist, perhaps Munoz can even penetrate Gravely’s 50% takedown defense. Regardless, in what I expect to be a hectic grappling affair, I liken Munoz’s grappling and submission prowess over Gravely’s wrestling and porous submission defense. So with that said, I predict that Munoz will win via submission.

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145 lbs.: Damon Jackson vs. Dan Argueta – We have a fun fight in the Featherweight division, as Damon “The Leech” Jackson takes on newcomer Daniel “The Determined” Argueta. A winner of two straight and four of the last five, Jackson looks to be a fighter who’s confidence is building. Making the most of his second stint in the UFC, with a few more wins, Jackson may be nearing cracking the Featherweight division’s top fifteen. Meanwhile, Argueta steps into this fight on just over a week’s notice. Putting his undefeated record on the line, the former TUF contestant will finally get an opportunity to grace the octagon. Having won the LFA Bantamweight title less than a month ago, we’ll see if Argueta can make a successful turnnaround.

As for a prediction, I have Jackson winning. While Argueta looks to be UFC ready, this opportunity comes on short notice and up a weight class. Also, against an opponent in Jackson, who is looking better than ever and is a grappling wizard. Argueta being a solid wrestler with excellent BJJ, certainly may have his moments. However, the weight advantage and grappling of Jackson is something that may be a tall task to overcome. Even on the feet, Argueta will be at a disadvantage. Not to say Jackson is a superb striker, but he has vastly improved. In this particular fight, he may even look better than ever given Argueta’s not the most well verse striker. In the end, I believe Jackson will get it done via submission.

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125 lbs.: Jeff Molina vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov – We have a showdown in the Flyweight division, as Jeff “El Jefe” Molina takes on Zhalgas “Zhako” Zhamagulov. A winner of nine straight, two of which have come inside the octagon, Molina heads into this bout with excellent momentum. Having been involved in a “Fight of the Night” in his debut, then a dominant stoppage victory, Molina has been both entertaining and impressive. Meanwhile, Zhamagulov comes into this fight seeking consistency. Dropping three of his four fights inside the octagon, Zhamagulov urgently needs a victory to stave off a potential pink slip.

As for a prediction, I have Molina winning. While I was very high on Zhamagulov when he entered the UFC, he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations. Facing stiff competition throughout, it doesn’t get easier for the Kazak against Molina. A talented fighter, who has showcased his endless cardio and relentless activity. Landing 11.36 significant strikes in two fights, Molina hasn’t had many issues out landing his opponents. Something in which I believe he will do here, as Zhamagulov isn’t nearly as active nor has the wrestling to keep Molina grounded. So with that said, I predict that Molina will swarm Zhamagulov, eventually finishing the Kazakh via TKO.

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170 lbs.: Rinat Fahretdinov vs. Andreas Michailidis – We have a scrap in the Welterweight division, as Andreas “The Spartan” Michailidis takes on UFC newcomer Rinat “Gladiator” Fakhretdinov. Returning to the octagon for the first time in 2022, Michailidis will look to get back in the win column. Having lost two of his three fights in the UFC, Michailidis enters his fourth appearance potentially needing a victory to hold off the prospect of his UFC tenure coming to a close. Meanwhile, Fakhretdinov comes into his UFC debut on a fourteen fight win streak. A known finisher, Fakhretdinov has won eighteen of his twenty victories via stoppage. Coming off a 55 second knockout over fromer UFC veteran Eric Spicely, Fakhretdinov appears ready for the bright lights.

As for a prediction, I have Fakhretdinov winning. Despite not having the strongest of resume’s, Fakhretdinov has tested himself of recent. Defeating two former UFC veterans in the last three fights, Fakhretdinov has proven that he is ready for the step-up in competition. A wrestler, with solid ground skills and cardio, Fakhretdinov is the type of fighter that can and has broken fighters over the course of the fight. With awkward striking, which involves some powerful looping strikes and sharp leg kicks, Fakhretdinov can also be problematic on the feet. While I’m not sure his area of success in the UFC will come on the feet, I will say that it could in this fight. Not to say Michailidis isn’t a good striker, but he’s been stopped on the feet in two of his three fights in the UFC. Quite frankly, I believe Michailidis is yet again, being used as a stepping stone. With that said, I predict that Fakhretdinov will win via TKO.

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125 lbs.: JJ Aldrich vs. Erin Blanchfield – We have a pivotal fight in the Women’s Flyweight division, as Erin “Cold Blooded” Blanchfield takes on JJ Aldrich. A winner of five straight, two of which have inside the octagon, Blanchfield looks every part of a future contender. Having dominated thus far in the UFC, Blanchfield has opportunity to potentially jump into the division’s top fifteen with a victory. Meanwhile, Aldrich too could be cracking the rankings with a victory. A winner of three straight and four of the last five, Aldrich comes into this fight with excellent momentum. No longer having to deal with tough weight cuts, and after a slight adjustment period moving up a weight class, Aldrich appears to be locked in.

As for a prediction, I have Blanchfield winning. Since joining the UFC in 2021, Blanchfield has been nothing short of exceptional. A talented ground specialist, with wrestling and evolving striking, Blanchfield has the potential to be a Champion. While that notion won’t come to fruition anytime soon, for now, Blanchfield will continue grow her abilities as she climbs up the totem. Facing the stiffest test of her young career, Blanchfield will have to crack the takedown defense of JJ Aldrich. One of which, in the last nine fights, has turned aside seventeen of twenty takedown attempts. Aldrich being a talented striker, has often leaned on her takedown defense to keep the fight in her wheelhouse. With a 7-3 record in the UFC, more of than not, she has been successful in doing just that. However, Blanchfield has the best wrestling that Aldrich will have faced in the octagon. And seeing how Blanchfield has yet to be hit with resistance in that regard, I’m in the belief that she won’t in this fight either. So with that said, I predict that Blanchfield leans on takedowns, ground control and ground-and-pound en route to a decision victory.

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