A fun light heavyweight card at the UFC Apex this weekend as former title challenger Thiago Santos takes on hot prospect Johnny Walker in the main event of UFC Vegas 38.
Santos previously fought Jon Jones for the 205lbs title and many thought he won, before ultimately falling to a decision defeat. He blew out both knees in that fight and has since returned to face Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic, where he was dominated and now looks to get back to winning ways. Walker went on a tear before suffering a small skid himself, but after getting back in the win column he is hoping to make a push for the top five.
Elsewhere on the card two hot prospects at women’s bantamweight clash as Aspen Ladd takes on Macy Chiasson, while Antonina Shevchenko takes on the undefeated Casey O’Neill and Kevin Holland takes on Kyle Daukaus in the co-main event.
Last week at UFC 266 we went 10/13 with five perfect picks on the night to move us up to 421/659 (63.88%) with 183 perfect picks (43.47%). We’ll look to improve that here, starting with the early prelims.
Alejandro Perez (22-8-1) vs Johnny Eduardo (28-12) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A banger at bantamweight to open up the card in the APEX. Perez hasn’t fought since 2019 but lost each of his last two bouts, dropping a decision to Cody Stamann before getting KO’d by Song Yadong. Eduardo on the other hand hasn’t started since 2018, where he was stopped by Nathaniel Wood by submission.
Perez is a fairly well-rounded fighter, with good striking and movement and a considered ground game defensively too. Eduardo however is a powerful Muay Thai striker, as the big tattoo across his stomach says, with great crisp shots and decent head movement. The problem Eduardo has in this match up isn’t really stylistic, it’s more that he seems to shoot himself in the foot a lot.
Eduardo has the better skillset but at 41 years old and no action in over three years, it’s hard to know how he’ll turn up. Perez has good movement, decent jabs and some good low kicks. So long as he can avoid the early blitz or a big shot, I think he can secure himself a judge’s decision.
PICK – Alejandro Perez via Decision
Stephanie Egger (5-2) vs Shanna Young (8-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Another fun bantamweight fight but this time in the women’s division. Egger lost a unanimous decision on her UFC debut to Tracy Cortez back at UFC Fight Island 5, while Young also lost her debut back in February last year to Macy Chiasson.
Egger is a judo fighter and has shown a great range of skills in the past before her UFC tenure. She has great throws from the clinch position and really good submission skills too. Young on the other hand is a clean, crisp striker with great hand speed, volume and fluidity. If Young keeps the fight at a distance, then she should piece Egger up on the feet and dominate. If Egger can get into clinch positions and grappling, then she’d expect to have the edge.
The issue for Egger however, is that in her last fight she got out-grappled by someone isn’t classed as a grappler in her debut. That tells me that while she is clearly skilled, maybe she’s not quite evolved enough in MMA just yet and with Young’s striking on the feet being a clear advantage, I expect she’ll be able to get the win.
PICK – Shanna Young via Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (26-4) vs Gaetano Pirrello (15-6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
We stick around at 135lbs for the final fight of the early prelims in a really fun fight. Andrade has alternated wins and losses since 2016, with wins over Enrique Briones, Marlon Vera and Renan Barao while he was defeated by Rob Font, Petr Yan and most recently Lerone Murphy at UFC Fight Island 8. Pirrello lost his UFC debut to Ricky Simon via submission on the same card Andrade lost to Murphy.
Andrade is a total powerhouse in the striking world, with great hand speed and really good power with 19 knockouts in his professional career. Pirrello is also a tidy striker, with 14 finishes in 15 professional wins and this will almost certainly be a striking battle. Pirrello is the better technician, with good straight punches and a lovely jab but he’s largely out-punched by Andrade when it comes to power.
The Brazilian has speed and power on his side and Pirrello has been knocked out before so if he lands clean then it could be a wrap. Pirrello will land his jab well and pivot, with some combinations to go with but with Andrade’s forward pressure and power this could be a short night.
PICK – Douglas Silva de Andrade via Knockout, Round 2