UFC Vegas 58 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+:

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155 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev – The main event comes in the Lightweight division, as Rafael dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev. Returning to the division he once conquered, dos Anjos has rattled off back-to-back wins. Currently ranked seventh, the former Champion is inching closer and closer to a title shot. With a victory over a surging Fiziev, dos Anjos could realistically find himself in a number one contender’s fight next. Meanwhile, Fiziev comes into this fight on a five-fight win streak. Having rattled off four straight bonuses to go along with the wins, Fiziev is becoming must watch tv. Co-headlining his first main event, the tenth ranked Lightweight has a chance to knock off a former Champion and firmly put himself in the title mix.

Despite this being the third attempt to pair these two up, it’s a blessing that we get to finally see it. A former champion for a reason, dos Anjos is one of the most well rounded fighters on the roster. Backed by an endless gas tank, dos Anjos is very active. Whether it’s on the feet or wrestling, dos Anjos is always working to score points. Extremely durable, the Brazilian has only been stopped three times in forty-four fights. Looking to challenge that durability is Fiziev. A dynamic striking, who is precise and powerful, Fiziev can put away anyone. Excellent in distance management, Fiziev often chops down opponents with leg kicks and picks them apart on the outside. In brief, he’s a handful to deal with on the feet. Not easy to takedown either, in six UFC fights, Fiziev has shrugged off twenty-two of twenty-three takedown attempts. The only vulnerability the Kyrgyz has shown is gas tank may be problematic.

As for a prediction, I have dos Anjos winning. In what I expect to be a barnburner, I’m banking on the well rounded and cardio machine dos Anjos to take Fiziev into deep waters. Knowing the Kyrgyz may slow down the later the fight goes, dos Anjos should see his game shine in the later rounds. I believe he will even penetrate the stout takedown defense of Fiziev. In the end, I predict that dos Anjos outlasts Fiziev, winning via decision – his thirteenth in the UFC, which would tie him with Neil Magny for the most all-time with the promotion.

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185 lbs.: Caio Borralho vs. Armen Petrosyan – The co-main event comes in the Middleweight division, as Caio Borralho takes on Armen Petrosyan. Coming off a successful UFC debut, Borralho finds himself featured in a rare opportunity. A winner of ten straight, the Brazilian with an impressive performance, could very well see himself fast-tracked into fighting a big name next. Meanwhile, Petrosyan too comes into this fight with a huge opportunity. With all eyes on him and the chance to create buzz, the Armenian will look to continue his rise up the Middleweight division. Having defeated Gregory Rodrigues in his UFC debut, with a victory here, there is a possibility that Petrosyan could jump into the top fifteen.

While I’m surprised that this is the co-main event, it’s a big opportunity for two men who would likely be buried on the prelims. Borralho was solid in his debut, showing off his excellent grappling abilities to the tune of ten minutes of control time. With solid cardio, and good striking, the UFC may have found something special at 185 pounds. The same could be said about the former Kickboxer Petrosyan, who defeated a top Middleweight in Gregory Rodrigues in his debut. Only eight fights into his career, Petrosyan finds himself closing in on a big fight.

As for a prediction, I have Barralho winning. While Petrosyan is the better striker and proved his toughness in his UFC debut, he still is vulnerable to being taken down. Rodrigues, who is a solid grappler, for whatever reason waited until later in the fight to take Petrosyan down. There was little resistance when he did such either. Given Borralho’s grappling and ability to control foes on the ground, I believe the Brazilian has a significant edge in the fight. So with that said, I predict that Borralho will win via decision.

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135 lbs.: Said Nurmagomedov vs. Douglas Silva de Andrade – We have a pivotal fight in the Bantamweight division, as Said Nurmagomedov takes on Douglas Silva de Andrade. Since dropping his first fight in the UFC back in 2019, Nurmagomedov has rattled off two straight wins. Looking as impressive as ever in each fight, Nurmagomedov stopped both opponents within 51 seconds. Eyeing the division’s top fifteen, with a victory, don’t be surprised to see Nurmagomedov with a number next to his name. Meanwhile, de Andrade has won two straight and three of the last four. Weathering an early storm in his most recent fight, the Brazilian dug deep and pulled off an exceptional comeback over Sergey Morozov. Formerly a Flyweight, de Andrade has adjusted well at Bantamweight and with a victory, could fins himself fighting a top fifteen foe next.

Despite the odds heavily favoring Nurmagomedov, de Andrade has never been an easy out. In thirty-two professional fights, de Andrade has only lost four times. Of those four, his opponents have combined for a 47-6-1 record. A striker, with legitimate power in his hands, de Andrade has won by knockout in twenty of his twenty-eight wins. With excellent takedown defense, physical strength and top notch durability, de Andrade has the ability to give anyone fits. However, Nurmagomedov is beginning to evolve into a future contender. Over the past two fights, Nurmagomedov has stopped both foes under a minute. That includes Cody Stamann, who had only been stopped once in twenty-five fights. An impressive striker, with a dynamic skillset, Nurmagomedov has largely been one to outpoint opponents. With this recent string of finishes, Nurmagomedov is one to watch out for.

As for a prediction, I have Nurmagomedov winning. Aside from his iffy cardio, Nurmagomedov is the better of the two on the feet. Obviously de Andrade packs a bigger punch, but he can often be very inaccurate. Given Nurmagomedov is defensively sound, those woes will be enhanced this fight. Over the course of fifteen minutes, I expect Nurmagomedov to outpoint the Brazilian to a decision victory.

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265 lbs.: Jared Vanderaa vs. Chase Sherman – A pair of struggling fighters clash in the Heavyweight division, as Jared Vanderaa takes on Chase Sherman. A loser of three straight and four of the last five, Vanderaa comes into this fight with his UFC tenure hanging in the balance. Given an opportunity after a third straight loss is a gift enough, but being on the main card is a huge chance for Vanderaa to prove he belongs under the bright lights. Meanwhile, Sherman is flirting with another UFC exile. Technically on his thirst stint in the UFC, Sherman will have to halt a four-fight skid. Having never really found his footing inside the octagon, Sherman is sporting a disastrous 3-9 record with the promotion. With one more chance presented to turn things around, Sherman urgently needs to win.

This is an utter crapshoot, as both men are at the bottom of the barrel in the Heavyweight division. If anything is certain, given both men are strikers, this fight should take place for the majority of the time on the feet. When analyzing both men, Sherman appears to have an output and power edge. Neither man is particularly durable, but Vanderaa has the better chin of the two. He also has the better cardio, as Sherman is known to fade as the fight wanes on. In what I anticipate to be anyone’s fight to win, I’ll go with Vanderaa knowing that if he wins any of the first two rounds, he should be able to nab round three. So with that said, I predict Vanderaa to win via decision.

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125 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Nina Nunes – A Women’s Flyweight contest is spotlighted on the main card, as Cynthia Calvillo takes on Nina Nunes. On a brutal three-fight skid, Calvillo comes into this fight urgently needing a victory. Once a contender and within one victory from a title shot, Calvillo’s fall from grace has seen her drop to eleventh in the rankings. At 34 years old, the time is now for Calvillo to turn things back around. Meanwhile, Nunes comes into this fight on a two-fight losing streak. Having only fought once in the past three years due to becoming a mother, Nunes will look to the Flyweight division to rejuvenate her career.

This is solid matchmaking, as both former Strawweight’s desperately need to get their careers back on track. Calvillo is a grappler, who has often dismissed that part of her game, electing to strike instead. While Calvillo can hold her own on the feet, it’s her ground game that has been at the center of her success. Hoping Calvillo abandons grappling is Nunes, who is a striker by trade. An active on at that, as she is landing 4.64 significant strikes per fifteen minutes. Still working on her defensive wrestling, Nunes sports a pretty good 76% takedown defense.

As for a prediction, I have Nunes winning. While Calvillo may finally grapple and see success, I can’t trust her to actually do so. Time and time again, Calvillo has abandoned her strength and instead decides to get into a firefight on the feet. Nunes being the better in that aspect gives me hope that she will prevail for the first time in over three years via decision.

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155 lbs.: Michael Johnson vs. Jamie Mullarkey – A Lightweight contest kicks off the main card, as Michael Johnson takes on Jamie Mullarkey. Coming off his first victory since 2018, which also ended a four-fight skid, Johnson will look to keep the good times going. Closing in on twelve years with the promotion, Johnson will make the walk for the twenty-sixth time. Having fought the majority of those fights in the Lightweight division, with three more knockdowns, Johnson will tie Melvin Guillard for the most all-time in the Lightweight division at thirteen. Meanwhile, Mullarkey comes into this fight off a tough defeat to rising star Jalin Turner. The loss halted a two-fight win streak and put the Aussie under .500 in the UFC. Needing to get back on track, Mullarkey enters this fight knowing his positioning in the Lightweight division could take a severe blow with another loss.

Despite snapping the four-fight skid, I’m not ready to jump back in on Johnson. He’s still the same guy that dating back to 2015, has only won four of thirteen fights. The same guy who is a winning a fight, and then collapses at any point. A salty 20-17 professional record would suggest how volatile Johnson is. Against a well rounded finisher like Mullarkey, I don’t see things going well for Johnson. Of course if the Aussie decides to stand and trade, Johnson’s chances of winning improve. However, if Mullarkey resorts to wrestling, Johnson is 2-7 when taken down. And given his vulnerability to being submitted, one could expect Mullarkey to capitalize on that. Regardless though, Mullarkey is the better all around fighter and boast the durability and cardio that will outlast Johnson. So with that said, I predict Mullarkey to win via TKO.

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UFC Vegas 58 ‘Prelims’ Under Card On ESPN/ESPN+:

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135 lbs.: Ricky Turcios vs. Aiemann Zahabi – The preliminary card headliner comes in the Bantamweight division, as Aiemann Zahabi takes on Ricky Turcios. After stumbling in back-to-back fights, Zahabi pulled out an impressive knockout victory over Drako Rodriguez. The victory was Zahabi’s second inside the octagon and first in over five years. Having been inactive for much of his UFC tenure, Zahabi will need to ramp it up if ever wants to become a champion. Meanwhile, Turcios is making his first appearance since defeating Brady Hiestand to become the Ultimate Fighter 29 winner. The victory was his second straight and only fourth since September of 2016. Needing to fight often and live up to the hype, luckily at only 29 years of age, Turcios has time on his side.

This should be an entertaining scrap, as both men are fairly well rounded. The difference, which leans me towards Turcios, is he slightly better in several aspects. For starters, Turcios is way more active. In his last fight, he landed 100 significant strikes, which is roughly 6.67 significant strikes per fifteen minutes. You’d have to have to add up four fights worth of significant strikes for Zahabi to even eclipse 100. Also, Turcios is the more effective and powerful striker, which in part is aided by the activity. What Zahabi may have an advantage in, is offensive wrestling. Especially considering Turcios seems most vulnerable to being taken down. The only issue is, Turcios isn’t one to stay on his back. He’s constantly scrambling for position, threatening with submissions and popping right back up. In the end, while this fight might be close, give me the activity of Turcios to trump Zahabi via decision.

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125 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Antonina Shevchenko – A fight in the Women’s Flyweight division, pits Antonina Shevchenko against Cortney Casey. A loser of two-straight and three of the last four, Shevchenko is creeping into a dangerous territory. One in which could see her UFC tenure hang in the balance. At 37-years old, Shevchenko is running out of time to prove that she is one of the very best Flyweight’s. Meanwhile, Casey comes into this fight with a rare opportunity to string together two wins. Something in which has eluded Casey since 2016, as she has only won six of her fourteen fights inside the octagon. Needing to find consistency if she were ever to elevate herself into a contender, perhaps the rise of Casey begins now.

Despite failing to ever establish her presence in the UFC, Casey can be a tough out for anyone. A striker by trade, who lands with volume, Casey is at her best when she doesn’t have to worry about the threat of a takedown. If brought to the mat though, Casey is very active and has a dangerous submission game. Something in which I doubt she will have to utilize much in this fight, as Shevchenko is a pure striker. A technical one at that, who is very accurate. Hampered throughout her career by her lack of takedown defense, Shevchenko has seen all four of her UFC losses come when she was taken down three or more times. Given Casey has landed three takedowns in fourteen fights inside the octagon, I highly doubt Shevchenko will have to worry about that.

In what I consider to be a toss-up, I’m going with Casey. Armed with grit, Casey isn’t afraid to fight dirty and brawl. Active on the feet, even if Shevchenko finds success being more accurate, Casey has a clear volume edge. While I’m not expecting this fight to hit the mat, if it does, Shevchenko may have the size, but Casey has a threating submission game. With everything lining up for Casey to nab her first win-streak since 2016, I predict her to win this fight via decision.

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185 lbs.: Cody Brundage vs. Tresean Gore – The Middleweight division see’s a pair of fighters looking to carve out their name in the UFC, as Cody Brundage takes on Tresean Gore. Nearly staring at a two-fight skid, Brundage weathered a troublesome start, eventually nabbing a submission win. The victory was his first in the UFC, and second in the last two fights. Meanwhile, Gore is coming off an unsuccessful debut. A fight where he clearly had the power edge, but lacked the volume to keep pace with Bryan Battle. Hoping to hone in his abilities in his second appearance, Gore finds himself in the most important fight of his young career.

Given both men are relatively green in this sport, this should in essence, be a competitive fight. Brundage is a D-2 wrestler, who’s transitions while on the ground are solid. Still evolving his ground skills, Brundage has seen his last three wins come via submission. Capable on the feet, but vulnerable, Brundage can be a mixed bag striking. An area in which Gore will look to get the better of Brundage, as he is a solid striker with legitimate power. Athletic and a good wrestler too, Gore is fairly well rounded and more refined than your usual four-fight pro.

This fight could go either way, but Gore’s wrestling is the x-factor. If he can utilize it to keep the bout upright, his striking and power are going to takeover the fight. Seeing how Brundage nearly was stopped in his last fight, it gives me more assurance that Gore is going to finish the job that Dalcha Lungiambula could not. So with that said, I predict that Gore will win via knockout.

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145 lbs.: David Onama vs. Garrett Armfield – A late addition to the card in the Featherweight division will see David Onama take on a familiar foe in Garrett Armfield. A fight that is a rematch in a sense, as both men fought each other as amateurs – with Onama winning via unanimous decision. After notching his first UFC victory via knockout, Onama returns to the octagon looking continue his rise. Known for his ability to halt fights, Onama carries a perfect 100% finishing rate. With six wins since 2020, Onama in not only an active fighter, but a legitimate prospect to watch at Featherweight. Meanwhile, Armfield will make his UFC debut on short notice and up a weight class. A winner of three straight and six of the last seven, Armfield comes into this fight surging. A known finisher as well, Armfield has won seven of his eight victories inside the distance.

When Onama debuted in the UFC, I said that he seemed to be one of the more UFC ready talents I’ve seen in quite some time. Obviously his debut didn’t go his way, but he looked excellent for fighting on short notice and up a weight class against a very solid Mason Jones. The second time around, Onama got hit way more often than I thought he would, but he got the job done via a first round knockout. With good grappling to go along with his durability, striking and power, Onama is going to be a threat in this Featherweight division in short order. Obviously Armfield isn’t some sacrificial lamb in this fight, as he’s scrappy, durable and evolving as a grappler. However, eventually his willingness to brawl and be aggressive, is going to see him pay. Up a weight class and on short notice against a finisher like Onama, this may just be the spot. So with that said, I predict that Onama wins via knockout.

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205 lbs.: Karl Roberson vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu – The Light Heavyweight division features a potential pink slip fight, as Kennedy Nzechukwu takes on Karl Roberson. Looking to halt a two-fight skid, which the first of his young career, Nzechukwu comes into this fight needing to right the ship. Having won three straight previous to the losing streak, the potential is evident, Nzechukwu just needs to harness it. Meanwhile, Roberson is in a nightmare tailspin. A loser of three straight, all of which he’s been stopped in, Roberson heads into this fight with UFC tenure likely on the line. Despite being more successful at Middleweight, weight issues have forced him up to Light Heavyweight. A division in which he is 2-2 in his career.

This is Nzechukwu’s fight to lose. Massive for the weight class, and facing a former Middleweight in Roberson, Nzechukwu carries a significant four inch height and nine inch reach advantage. Having to worry very little in regards to wrestling, Nzechukwu should be at his best against a fellow striker in Roberson. Using his reach, expect Nzechukwu to land first early and often. Averaging 5.13 significant strikes per fifteen minutes, Nzechukwu offers up excellent volume. He also has some solid power, as evident by six of his nine victories coming via knockout. Not entirely concerned by Roberson’s striking, which is pretty good, but lacks the disrupting power. I believe that Nzechukwu should win this fight fairly dominantly. Let’s say via KO.

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135 lbs.: Ronnie Lawrence vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov – The curtain jerker comes in the Bantamweight division, as Ronnie Lawrence takes on Saidyokub Kakhramonov. A winner of five straight, two of which have come inside the octagon, Lawrence comes into this bout with excellent momentum. Known for his wrestling abilities, Lawrence has landed an astonishing twenty-six takedowns at a 78% accuracy over his last three fights. With one more victory, Lawrence could find himself in a main card spot. Meanwhile, Kakhramonov returns to the octagon looking to replicate his successful debut over Trevin Jones. A fight that Kakhramonov took on short notice and won via submission with twenty-one seconds remaining in the fight. The stoppage was his seventh in nine victories.

This is an excellent fight and probably should of been featured on the main card. Lawrence is a solid chain wrestler, who as I mentioned previously, has landed twenty-six takedowns in his last three fights. Backed by a solid gas tank, Lawrence is relentless in his pursuit to ground his opponent. While he lacks a submission game, his ability to control foes and land ground-and-pound have aided him to victory. Where Lawrence’s concerns lie, is on the feet. Despite being able to hold his own, it’s an area where opponents have seen success. In Lawrence’s last fight, he was dropped twice by Mana Martinez. Something in which Kakhramonov probably is eyeballing. A well rounded fighter, with a Judo background, Kakhramonov is a bright prospect in this Bantamweight division. With good pop in his hands and a menacing submission game, Kakhramonov is dangerous wherever the fight goes. Needing to shore up his striking defense, Kakhramonov sometimes has taken more punishment than necessary.

As for a prediction, I have Kakhramonov winning. In what is bound to be an exciting fight, I believe that Kakhramonov can withstand Lawrence’s wrestling. Backed by Judo, grappling and a dangerous submission game, Kakhramonov has several avenues to escape positions and give Lawrence fits. While on the feet, Kakhramonov is not only the more dynamic of the two, but has the power to disrupt the fight. With that said, I predict that Kakhramonov wins via knockout.

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