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We have an intriguing battle in the Bantamweight division, as Khalid Taha takes on promotional newcomer Cristian Quinonez. Coming into this fight off back-to-back losses and with only one win in five fights inside the octagon, Taha urgently needs a victory. Otherwise, his four-year UFC tenure could come to an end. Meanwhile, Quinonez comes into his UFC debut on a four-fight win streak. Having been out of action for nearly a year after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series due to Visa issues, Quinonez is undoubtedly chomping at the bit to debut under the bright lights.
When analyzing this fight, it’s hard not to notice that Taha has failed to fight twice in a calendar year since 2019. At 29 years old, time is on his side, but his prime is arguably wasting away. Regardless, Taha returns to the octagon for the first time in 2022. Known for his striking, Taha certainly packs a punch. Where he lacks though is within his activity and precision, as he is landing a mere 2.69 significant strikes per minute at a 33% accuracy. Also lacking with his defensive wrestling, Taha has been taken down sixteen times in five fights. Given Quinonez is well rounded, I see problems for Taha. With solid leg kicks on the feet and a knack for taking the fight to the ground, Quinonez should see his grappling and ground-and-pound shine. While I will credit Taha for never accepting bottom position, he still has ended up there too often and with only one win in five fights, the proof is in the pudding. So with that said, I predict Quinonez to win via decision.