UFC Vegas 57 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+:Embed from Getty Images
155 lbs.: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Mateusz Gamrot – The main-event comes in the Lightweight division, as Arman “Ahalkalakets” Tsarukyan takes on Mateusz “Gamer” Gamrot. A winner of five straight, Tsarukyan enters this fight with an opportunity to stamp his name among the contenders. Currently eleventh in the rankings, with a victory, Tsarukyan will find himself in the top ten of a stacked Lightweight division. Meanwhile, Gamrot has rebounded nicely since dropping his UFC debut by split decision. A winner of three straight, all of which came inside the distance, the former KSW Champion has found his stride. Checking in at twelfth in the rankings, Gamrot has a chance to crack the divisions top ten with a victory.
This fight is low-key amazing, as we have two rising stars battling for the chance to elevate themselves into contender status. Tsarukyan is a gifted fighter, who possesses excellent wrestling and grappling. Not one to be discouraged in a failed takedown attempt, Tsarukyan will often chain wrestle until he gets his foe to the ground. Thus far, he’s had little trouble doing such – landing sixteen takedowns in six UFC fights. At 25 years old and with only one loss in the last eighteen fights, which was to Islam Makhachev, Tsarukyan is a name that will be synonymous with the Lightweight division for years to come. As for Gamrot, he too is a wrestler and grappler. Landing a takedown in each of his four UFC appearances and twelve total, Gamrot has had little resistance in getting the fight to his world. Evolving in the striking department, Gamrot is starting to look more comfortable. However, it’s definitely an area where he can be outmatched.
As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Tsarukyan. A hard prediction to make anyway you slice it, this fight has the makings to be a barnburner. Given both men are proficient in both wrestling and grappling, it’s possible that we may see several scrambles and submission attempts. However, Tsarukyan is the more well rounded of the two and has shown that he can win on the feet. An area where I highlighted that Gamrot is most vulnerable. So with that said, in an excellent fight, I see Tsarukyan stopping Gamrot via TKO in the Championship rounds.Embed from Getty Images
170 lbs.: Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov – In the co-main event, we have a pivotal fight in the Welterweight division, as Neil “Haitian Sensation” Magny takes on Shavkat “Nomad” Rakhmonov. Often overlooked, Magny comes into his twenty-seventh UFC fight looking to continue his climb up the division. Checking in at tenth in the rankings, and with wins in five of the last six fights, Magny has an opportunity here to potential earn a top five fighter with a victory. Meanwhile, Rakhmonov has been nothing short of spectacular. Unbeaten in fifteen fights, the Kazakh comes into his fourth UFC appearance looking to knock off his first ranked foe. Should Rakhmonov prevail, the sky is the limit for the uber talented former M-1 Champion.
This is an excellent co-main event. Magny is a true veteran, who has fought whomever, whenever. This fight isn’t any different. A striker, with endless cardio, Magny can be one of the more difficult fighters to stand across from. With excellent durability and some good offensive wrestling too, Magny’s has several ways to win. However, his patented way to victory is simply outlasting opponents. With pressure, non-stop activity and a hard fifteen minute pace, Magny has broken down many fighters. In fact, eighteen of his nineteen wins have come after round one. As for Rakhmonov, he is evolving in front of our eyes. An excellent grappler, who has solid submissions and cardio, Rakhmonov is not someone you want to be on the ground with. While his striking is good, it’s still evolving.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Rakhmonov. If there is a route to victory against Magny, it’s by neutralizing him with wrestling and grappling. Something in which Demian Maia and Michael Chiesa successfully did. Also, it helps to have good cardio. Given Rakhmonov checks off all those markers, I’m in firm belief that he can get the job done. So with that said, give me the Kazakh finisher to win via submission.
265 lbs.: Alan Baudot vs. Josh Parisian – We have a potential pink slip fight in the Heavyweight division, as Josh Parisian takes on Alan “The Black Samourai” Baudot. Joining the UFC in 2020, Parisian has struggled to find consistency. Losing two of his three fights with the promotion, with his only win coming against someone no longer in the UFC, Parisian urgently needs to win this fight. Otherwise, he could be out of the promotion in less than two years. Meanwhile, Baudot has yet to taste victory in the UFC. Hoping his fortune’s change in this fight, Baudot’s UFC tenure hangs in the balance. Unfortunate, as the UFC is headed to France and the Frenchman would be a perfect candidate to be on the card.
This fight is a crapshoot, as quite frankly, these are two of the bottom barrel Heavyweight’s. Parisian is a striker, who’s got good volume and cardio for a Heavyweight. Lacking power, Parisian looks to break down opponents over the course of the fight. With twelve of his fourteen wins coming via finish, more often than not, Parisian is doing just that. As for Baudot, he too is an active striker. Landing 5.12 significant strikes per minute, Baudot looks to swarm opponents output. However, there is something to be said about Baudot’s last six fights. He is 2-3 with one no contest. On the surface, that seems not too bad. When digging into it, you realize that Baudot has only one legitimate win in that span. The second victory was a result of Baudot’s opponent testing positive for Marijuana. A fight in which Baudot was stopped in, yet somehow was awarded a DQ win later on. Then there is the no contest. A fight in which Baudot was stopped in, but saw the result overturned due to a positive drug test by Rodrigo Nascimento. In other words, Baudot could very well be 1-5 in that stretch, with four of the losses coming via stoppage. Not to discredit the man, but I just don’t think he is UFC caliber. So with that said, I predict that Parisian will win this fight via TKO.
155 lbs.: Christos Giagos vs. Thiago Moises – We have a pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, as Thiago Moises takes on Christos “The Spartan” Giagos. Having never lost back-to-back fights in his career, Moises comes into this fight in unknown territory. Formerly ranked in the top fifteen, Moises has shown that he has the talent to be a contender, he just needs to prove it. Meanwhile, Giagos saw his best stretch in the UFC come to an end, as Arman Tsarukyan defeated him. Looking to rebound quickly, Giagos is presented with a nice opportunity at knocking off a name in the division.
This should be a relatively interesting fight, as in order for Giagos to win, he must be willing to grapple with Moises. Something that only Beniel Dariush and Islam Makhachev have successfully done. Considering they are two of the top six ranked fighters in the division, I’d give Moises a pass. Giagos though is a wrestler, who’s game plan revolves around takedowns and control time. The only problem aside from his serviceable striking, is his suspect gas tank. If you ever back Giagos, you know in advance, should the fight get to a third round, he will be tired and in survival mode. Not exactly a recipe for success, but with the right matchup, it can be. This fight though isn’t that right matchup. Along with grappling and submission skills, Moises is an effective striker. If he can manage to stay upright or use submissions threats to get the fight back to the feet, he should easily take this fight. At worst, Moises will have the third round to rally. So with that said, I predict that Moises will win via decision.Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Nate Maness vs. Umar Nurmagomedov – We an intriguing Bantamweight contest, as Umar Nurmagomedov takes on Nate “Mayhem” Maness. Undefeated and with no signs of slowing down, Nurmagomedov looks to extend his unbeaten streak to fifteen. Unchallenged since entering the octagon in 2021, Nurmagomedov looks to be a bright prospect and future contender in a stacked Bantamweight division. Meanwhile, Maness comes into this fight with four straight wins, three of which came inside the octagon. Having most recently defeated Tony Gravely via knockout, Maness showed that he is ready for bigger fights. Presented with this opportunity, Maness can create a lot of buzz for himself with a victory.
As much as Maness has impressed each fight out, and has shown off impressive takedown defense, Nurmagomedov is a whole different animal. One that has seen very little resistance thus far in the UFC. While it’s feasible to believe Maness can thwart off a few takedown attempts, I simply can’t see it for the entirety of the fight. Him just thinking about the takedown, opens up Nurmagomedov’s striking alone. It’s hard to dismiss a fighter, especially one coming off an impressive performance against Tony Gravely. However, it’s harder to visually see Nurmagomedov losing. With that said, I predict that Nurmagomedov will win via decision.Embed from Getty Images
185 lbs.: Chris Curtis vs. Rodolfo Vieira – To kick off the main card, we have an exciting bout in the Middleweight division, as Chris “The Action Man” Curtis takes on Rodolfo “The Black Belt Hunter” Vieira. After retiring several times, Curtis’ unlikely road to the UFC has been nothing short of exceptional. Having won back-to-back fights inside the octagon over top Middleweights, Curtis enters this fight with a chance to crack the division’s top fifteen with a victory. Meanwhile, Vieira bounced back from his first professional defeat, with a submission victory over Dustin Stoltzfus. The submission was Vieira’s seventh in his eight victories.
Even though Curtis has fought up and down weight classes before joining the UFC, I was critical of him fighting at Middleweight. Thus far, he has proven me wrong. In two fights against filled out Middleweight’s, he has scored two knockouts and has shrugged off six takedown attempts. An important aspect to note, as Vieira’s whole game revolves around taking his opponent down. An accomplished BJJ black belt, Vieira is one of the most dangerous fighters to be stuck on the ground with. Having never won a fight via decision, Vieira is a pure finisher. However, on top of Vieira not being a striker, his cardio is awful. It’s an area of his game that will truly plague him. Especially in this fight, as Curtis has thus far showed off stout takedown defense and has only been submitted once in thirty-six fights. So with that said, I believe that Curtis will thwart off Viera’s grappling attempts, eventually seeing the Brazilian tire. At that point, Curtis will strike and pick up yet another knockout victory.
UFC Vegas 57 Preliminary Card On ESPN2/ESPN+:Embed from Getty Images
205 lbs.: Tafon Nchukwi vs. Carlos Ulberg – We have a clash in the Light Heavyweight division, as Tafon “Da Don” Nchuwki takes on Carlos “Black Jag” Ulberg. Since joining the UFC in 2020, Nchuwki has failed to win two consecutive fights. Even worse, Nchuwki has dropped two of his last three. Needing a victory, Da Don comes into this fight with some urgency. Meanwhile, Ulberg is coming off his first UFC victory. A fight that wasn’t visually as exciting as his debut, but a victory none the less. With only five MMA fights, Ulberg’s experience isn’t vast, but he is certainly skilled enough to damage in this Light Heavyweight division
In what should be a striker’s delight, I’m going to give the edge to Nchuwki. Despite having to overcome a four inch height disadvantage, Nchuwki shouldn’t see his offense effected much. One to be an active striker, the Cameroonian does a good job landing combinations and attacking the body. Adding wrestling to his game, Nchuwki has the ability to mix it up. What he has lacked however, is the power he was labeled as having when entering the UFC. As for Ulberg, the former Kickboxer is a solid striker and comes out of the City Kickboxing gym. Having seen him brawl in his debut, to then being a patient and jab heavy fighter in his second appearance, shows the evolution in game. The only concern, other than inexperience, is Ulberg’s takedown defense. An area which has been largely untested. It’s part of the reason why I believe Nchuwki is going to win this fight via decision.
145 lbs.: TJ Brown vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke – We have a clash in the Featherweight division, as TJ “Downtown” Browns takes on Shayilan “Wolverine” Nuerdanbieke. After dropping the first two fights in the UFC, Brown has bounced back with two straight wins. The most recent being impressive, as he defeated a veteran in Charles Rosa. Staring at a three-fight win streak, bigger fights are on the horizon should he prevail. Meanwhile, Nuerdanbieke comes into this fight on the heels of his first UFC victory. A fight in which Nuerdanbieke started out slow, but took over during the last two rounds. The victory was Nuerdanbieke’s thirty-sixth as a professional, which at only 28 years old is pretty remarkable.
I feel like a broken record, but this card is full of close fights that hinge on a certain aspect. Brown is a wrestler and a dangerous submission threat. Not one to go to the scorecards often, Brown has won thirteen of his sixteen victories via stoppage. He has also been stopped in six of his eight losses, as his durability and cardio are major red flags. Coincidentally, Nuerdanbieke suffers from a lack of durability himself, as he has been stopped in eight of his ten losses. With six of them coming via submission, Brown certainly is licking his chops at testing Nuerdanbieke’s submission defense. Besides that flaw, Nuerdanbieke is a strong wrestler, who looks to grind down opponents. Not one to mix it up on the feet too long, Nuerdanbieke isn’t shy about spamming takedown attempts.
As for a prediction, I have Brown winning. In a fight between two wrestlers, Nuerdanbieke is the one who is more reliant on takedowns as a path to victory than Brown. And seeing how Nuerdanbieke struggled early in the fight against Sean Soriano, who’s takedown is abysmal, I’ll take Brown to scramble his way out of any attempts Wolverine throws his way. With better striking, I expect Brown to keep this fight upright and to inflict the most damage – leading to a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Sergey Morozov vs. Raulian Paiva– We have an important fight in the Bantamweight division, as Raulian Paiva takes on Sergey Morozov. Coming off a loss to Sean O’Malley, Paiva saw not only his two-fight win streak halted, but his spot on the Bantamweight rankings taken. Looking to rebound and get back in position to make a run, Paiva comes into this fight with an opportunity to potential earn a ranked foe with a victory. Meanwhile, Morozov comes into this fight needing to find consistency. Going 1-2 in his first three UFC fights, a third loss could spell the end of his tenure.
This is another fight on the card, that is likely to be close. Paiva is a striker, who doesn’t often utilize leg kicks. Despite that, Paiva does a relatively good job landing with volume. His main strengths come from his cardio and durability, which have aided him in outlasting opponents in the later rounds. The main focal point of his game that will be tested is his takedown defense, as Morozov has wrestling and grappling skills worthy of taking over of a fight. No slouch on the feet either, Morozov is quick and is a pretty good counter striker. What he lacks however, is the durability and cardio necessary to be a top Bantamweight. If fights were a round long, Morozov would be among the top fifteen.
As for a prediction, I have Paiva winning. This fight is in his wheelhouse, as we can expect Morozov to look good early. Perhaps landing a few takedowns and even threatening with a finish. However, as the fight wanes, Paiva’s cardio will begin to show it’s teeth. Being the fresher fighter, Paiva will begin to win the grappling battles and land the more effective strikes. While a late finish is plausible, Paiva isn’t exactly known for his finishing prowess. With that said, give me Paiva to win via decision.
125 lbs.: JP Buys vs. Cody Durden – We have a showdown in the Flyweight division, as Cody Durden takes on JP “Young Savage” Buys. Coming off a 58-second defeat, Durden returns to the octagon looking for better results. In four UFC appearances, Durden has gone 1-2-1. Needing to find consistency, Durden’s UFC tenure may hang in the balance in this fight. Meanwhile, Buys has yet to taste victory in two UFC fights. Urgently needing a victory to avoid a pink slip, this will be Buys most important fight of his career.
In what I expect to be a fight between two fighters looking to do everything possible to win, I’m going to have to side with Buys. A grappler, who has faced two tough opponents thus far, Buys striking defense and takedown defense has been porous to say the least. Being knocked down seven times in the two fights, and controlled for ten minutes by Montel Jackson most recently, an outsiders perspective may see him as a hard pass. Especially considering Durden is a wrestler. However, his cardio and submission defense are problematic. Two areas in which I believe will be his downfall, as Buys is a submission threat who has good cardio. With that said, I expect Durden to come out hot early and land some takedowns. By round two, Buys scrambling abilities and cardio will see him gain advantageous positions – eventually leading him to a submission victory.Embed from Getty Images
135 lbs.: Mario Bautista vs. Brian Kelleher – We have a scrap in the Bantamweight division, as Mario Bautista takes on Brian “Boom” Kelleher. A winner of three of the last four, including a recent victory over Jay Perrin, Bautista comes into this fight looking to knock off a veteran. Only five years into his professional career, as Bautista continues to evolve, he may be someone to keep an eye out for in the future. Meanwhile, Kelleher comes into this fight looking to rebound from a defeat to Umar Nurmagomedov. A fight that Kelleher would like to put in his rear mirror, as it wasn’t his finest performance. Prior to the loss, the Long Island native had rattled off two consecutive victories.
This should be a relatively tight contest, and could even see a split decision decide the victor. On the feet, Bautista has the edge. Backed by excellent cardio, Bautista is an active striker. Not one to settle for one strike at a time, Bautista has the ability to swarm opponents. He’s aggressive and a willing brawler too, which has seen him vulnerable to getting cracked. No slouch on the ground either, Bautista has a skill set worthy of making a run at Bantamweight. However, Kelleher is a solid grappler, who has utilized his wrestling more of late. Landing nine takedowns in the last three fights, it’s clear that Kelleher isn’t afraid to fight to his strengths. Not too shabby on the feet, Kelleher possess some good pop. He just isn’t technical nor active.
As for a prediction, I have Kelleher ever so slightly winning. While I believe that Bautista’s striking could carry him, Kelleher has the power to be disruptive. He also has the wrestling and grappling to land important takedowns. One’s in which may steal a round or two. With that said, I predict that Kelleher wins via decision.
115 lbs.: Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Jinh Yu Frey – We have an intriguing fight in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Jinh Yu Frey takes on Vanessa “Lil Monster” Demopoulos. After dropping her first two UFC bouts, Frey has rallied to win back-to-back fights. A former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion, Frey looks to be fully adapted to fighting at Strawweight. With a third straight victory in sight, it would be feasible to believe a big fight could be on the horizon for Frey. Meanwhile, Demopoulos comes into this fight fresh off her first UFC victory. The fight itself wasn’t easy, but Demopoulos overcame early adversity and mounted a comeback, stopping Silvana Gomez Juarez via an armbar. The victory was her seventh professional, and fifth via stoppage.
After four fights in the UFC, Frey comes into her fifth appearance as a favorite, for the first time. A well rounded fighter, who has looked better than ever in her last two fights, Frey has a plethora of ways to win. A patient technical striker with excellent takedown defense and good grappling skills, Frey has shown an ability to adapt based on her opponent’s weakness. However, her low output can be problematic at times. In Frey’s last fight though, she landed 88 significant strikes. Twelve more than she had in her previous three fights combined. Needing to avoid being hesitant, Frey will have to neutralize Demopoulos. An aggressive and creative grappler, who looks to find various ways to sweep and finish opponents. With five stoppages, four coming via submission, it’s wise to avoid being on the ground with Lil Monster.
As for a prediction, I have Frey winning. If she wasn’t so stout with her takedown defense, I’d possibly consider Demopoulos. She is scrappy, has no back-down in her and can catch someone in a submission at anytime. However, Frey has a significant advantage on the feet. Behind her technical striking, and three inch reach advantage, I see Frey keeping Demopoulos at bay. With good cardio, I don’t expect Frey to slow down either. So with that said, I predict Frey to win via decision.