After the excitement of Fight Island, the UFC returns to the Las Vegas for their fifth card at the Apex Centre where Derek Brunson headlines against top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan in the middleweight division.
This is a considerably smaller card than the last one we saw, with just 9 fights on this card rather than the 15 we saw last weekend. I’m going to break down the 4 preliminary fights here and make my picks for each bout.
Last time out, I got 11/15 correct with 7 of those 11 absolutely perfect (winner, round, method). Lets see if I can do any better this time around.
Chris Gutierrez (15-3-1) vs Cody Durden (11-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
After a defeat in his UFC debut, Gutierrez has bounced back to win his last three in a row including a TKO via leg-kicks in his last outing. Durden steps in on just six-days notice for his UFC debut off the back of a seven-fight win streak. The big difference in this fight is the level of opponent they’ve each fought prior. This will comfortably be Durden’s biggest test to date and Gutierrez should really prove too much for him. Durden is a solid wrestler with decent striking, but Gutierrez has different level hands in comparison. His leg kicks are violent and his right hook is crisp and accurate. That should be enough to keep Durden’s wrestling at distance for a decision win.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Unanimous Decision
Jamall Emmers (17-5) vs Vincent Cachero (7-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Vincent Cachero has stepped into this fight on less that two days notice after Timur Valiev dropped out prior to the weigh-ins. Emmers is a very good wrestler who’s top control and positions are very good while Cachero isn’t really excellent at anything. He’s 1-2 in his last three fights and Emmers should be a whole level above him here. In reality, Emmers lands an early takedown and pummels Cachero into a finish but knowing Emmers’ history he’ll likely stand with Cachero to polish his skills and take a decision win instead.
PICK – Jamall Emmers via Unanimous Decision
Johnny Munhoz Jr (10-0) vs Nathan Maness (11-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Straight up… this fight got announced overnight and I don’t know enough about either of them to really make a genuine pick. So it’s a stab in the dark. Nathan Maness just because he’s actually been training.
PICK – Nathan Maness via Knockout, Round 3
Frankie Saenz (12-6) vs Jonathan Martinez (11-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
This is your typical two-outcome fight. Either Frankie Saenz uses his wrestling expertly for a decision win or he gets knocked out by the superior striker in Martinez. Saenz is 2-4 in his last 6 and was knocked out in his last fight against Marlon Vera in the first round 16 months ago. Martinez on the other hand won two in a row before poor judging saw him lose his last bout to Andre Dewell via split decision. Martinez has a reach advantage and will use his youthfulness to constantly move away from Saenz’s wrestling and strike from range. He has good power and Saenz is coming to the end of a good career but this is old school vs new school and the new school should have too much power for him.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Knockout, Round 2