The big boys are back on show in the main event at UFC Vegas 25 as Dominick Reyes takes on Jiri Prochazka in the light heavyweight division.
After back-to-back title fight defeats, Reyes looks to get back to winning ways to show he is still a contender at light-heavyweight. Elsewhere on the card, Cub Swanson makes a return to the octagon too as he takes on Giga Chikadze in the co-main event in what should be an absolute banger in the featherweight division.
Last time out at UFC 261 we had a great night, going 10/13 in our predictions with two perfect picks to move to 294/462 (63.64%) with 129 perfect picks (43.88%). Lets see if we can improve on that here, starting with the prelims of this 12 fight card.
Luke Sanders (13-4) vs Felipe Colares (9-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An interesting fight in the featherweight division as both men look to get back into the winning column after defeats last time out. Sanders was submitted by Nate Manness at UFC Vegas 15 last time out, while Colares was on the wrong end of a war against Montel Jackson and suffered a decision loss in January 2020.
Sanders is an okay grappler with good jiu-jitsu skills, but in recent fights has looked to use his power punching more. He rocked Manness in their fight before eventually getting rocked himself, while Colares is a striker himself with good durability and speed. Neither man are any good fighting on their back foot and defensively they both have gaping holes in their game, with Sanders’ defensive wrestling in particular woeful.
It’s a fight in the perfect spot on the card as they’re two of the not-so-good fighters performing on the night, but I trust Sanders’ power to come through and get a stoppage as they both go for it on the feet.
PICK – Luke Sanders via Knockout, Round 2
Andreas Michailidis (12-4) vs KB Bhullar (8-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very fun middleweight bout between two impressive newcomers who lost their UFC debuts in 2020. Michailidis had a strong first round against Modesta Bukauskas back at Fight Island 2, but some elbows to the side of the head saw him unable to make his corner when the buzzer went and the referee waved it off. Bhullar made a short-notice debut against Tom Breese at UFC Fight Island 5, getting knocked out in the first round.
Michailidis is a decent wrestler who throws great kicks and has good powerful hands too, while Bhullar tends to throw fancy kicks but doesn’t really land and can sometimes blow his load too early. Bhullar tends to keep his hands quite low because of the way he throws kicks, but Michailidis just seems to be the better martial artist.
Good grappling skills, great kicking game and good cardio, Michailidis should be able to start fast and put it on Bhullar enough for an early win.
PICK – Andreas Michailidis via Knockout, Round 1
Loma Lookboonmee (5-2) vs Sam Hughes (5-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
One of the best muay-thai fighters in the strawweight division, Lona Lookboonmee makes her return to the UFC to make it back-to-back wins for the first time in her octagon career against Sam Hughes. Lookboonmee bounced back from a defeat against Angela Hill with a comfortable win over Jinh Yu Frey at UFC Vegas 9. Hughes’ debut was on short-notice against Tecia Torres and her corner stopped the fight after round 1 after an eye injury at UFC 256.
Lookboonmee is a tremendous striker with great kicks and clinch work, with her grappling defence improving with every fight. Hughes is a classic wrestler style fighter who works for submissions once she gets the fight down to the ground. Hughes has a decent size advantage physically, but she is more than hittable on her feet and that’s dangerous against Lookboonmee.
Ideally both women want to be marching forward and forcing their opponent backwards, and I think Lookboonmee is able to use her kicks better to keep distance and earn a decision win.
PICK – Lona Lookboonmee via Decision
Poliana Botelho (8-3) vs Luana Carolina (6-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight bout to open up the main card as both women look to bounce back from defeat to get back in the win column in the UFC. Botelho was well beaten by Gillian Robertson at Fight Island 6 in a unanimous decision, while Carolina returned from a spine injury to get knee-barred by Ariane Lipski at UFC Fight Island 2 last summer.
Both women are preferential strikers with decent ground game to back themselves up, but you’d expect the fight to go the way of a kickboxing match. Both women have better offensive takedowns than defensive and if they find themselves getting pieced up on the feet, they may shoot. If that happens, Botelho seems like the more physical of the two and I’d back her to be able to keep Carolina down.
It’s a close fight but I think Botelho has slightly more paths to victory and therefore she gets the nod.
PICK – Poliana Botelho via Decision
Kai Kamaka III (8-3) vs TJ Brown (14-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A fun featherweight bout again on this card as Kai Kamaka III looks to bounce back from defeat when he takes on TJ Brown, who has lost his last two in a row. Kamaka defeated Tony Kelley at UFC 252 in his UFC debut but was knocked out against Jonathan Pearce at UFC Vegas 15. Brown is yet to win in the UFC, being submitted by Jordan Griffin in February 2020 before a decision defeat against Dany Chavez at UFC 252 too.
Kamaka is a great striker who looks like he hits with a lot of power, but he has just one knockout win in his career so far with the rest coming via decision. Brown is a good wrestler with great scrambles and decent power of his own, but he also has some very good cardio too. Kamaka’s cardio has been a huge issue in his career and if Brown can push the pace you could see Kamaka wilt as the fight goes on.
Brown is at a disadvantage on the feet but only just, while the gap in cardio and wrestling is much bigger, so I think the underdog takes the win here.
PICK – TJ Brown via Decision
Gabriel Benitez (22-9) vs Jonathan Pearce (10-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs) One of the best kickers in the sport looks to make it back-to-back wins when he takes on ‘JSP’ in the featherweight division. Benitez had lost two in a row before stopping Justin Jaynes via a knee to the body and strikes at UFC Vegas 16, while Pearce beat Kai Kamaka at UFC Vegas 15 in his last fight. Benitez is a remarkably powerful kicker, using distance well and throwing them in combination with his punches too. Pearce is a good wrestler with good power in his hands as eight knockouts from his ten career victories show. Benitez will undoubtedly look to stay at range and use his leg kicks and body kicks to stop Pearce from trying to close the distance to use his wrestling to get this fight to the ground. Benitez is very good at getting back up to his feet when he does get taken down and with Pearce’s lead leg an obvious target, I think he should be able to earn a competitive decision win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Decision
Randa Markos (10-10-1) vs Luana Pinheiro (8-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
The featured prelim bout is a strawweight fight between UFC debutant Luana Pinheiro as she takes on the veteran Randa Markos. Markos has lost four of her last five and each of her last five, getting tapped out by Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 11 before dropping a decision to Kanako Murata at UFC Vegas 14. Pinheiro has won six-in-a-row with six finishes, including four submissions and two knockouts.
Markos is a wrestler who likes to lay in top position and look for openings either through strikes or submissions, but is entering the twilight of her career now. Pinheiro though is a beast of a prospect. She is a black belt in judo and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and is so aggressive when looking for a finish in her fights. Markos isn’t a bad fighter, lets be clear, all her recent defeats have been against top fighters, but Pinheiro is better right now.
Despite a slight disadvantage in size, I think Pinheiro can use her massively improved striking to hurt Markos before eventually grabbing hold of her neck and earning a huge submission win.
PICK – Luana Pinheiro via Submission, Round 2