The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a strawweight main event that could decide the next title contender for the division.
Mackenzie Dern looks to continue her win streak when she goes up against Marina Rodriguez in the main event, with both women aware that a win could pit them against the winner of Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 at UFC 268 next month.
Elsewhere on the card is a fun welterweight clash between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while there is also an exciting flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau as well as the return of heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.
Last week at UFC Vegas 38, we went 7/11 on picks with just one perfect pick to move us up to 428/670 (63.88%) with 184 perfect picks (42.99%).
We’ll look to improve on that here on this ten-fight card, starting with the prelims.
Steve Garcia (11-4) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting fight to start off the card as two fighters who lost their UFC debuts clash here. Garcia made his UFC debut in February 2020 against Luis Pena, while Ontiveros is a previous welterweight who made his debut at middleweight and got slammed to defeat by Kevin Holland last year at UFC Vegas 12.
Garcia is a natural featherweight who has decided to stick around at lightweight for now, with good striking volume and decent power. Ontiveros is another with great strength in the striking department. Both have been absolutely battered on the ground in the past and that means this should be a fun, stand-up affair.
With that said though, it’s unlikely to last very long. Between them they have had 33 professional fights and only one of them has taken place at lightweight before but further to that, Ontiveros has been KO’d SEVEN times in his career. This doesn’t stand to go better for him, with Garcia powerful enough to fold him early.
PICK – Steve Garcia via Knockout, Round 1
Lupita Godinez (5-1) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A short-notice strawweight bout here as ‘Loopy’ takes on debutant Silvana Gomez Juarez. Godinez suffered a split-decision loss on her debut to Jessica Penne back in April, while Juarez is on a three-fight win streak as she makes her UFC debut.
Godinez is a striker first with some decent grappling in her back pocket too, but lots of volume and a great gas tank. Juarez is a brilliant striker on the other hand, with a brilliant boxing stance and even a 4-0 professional boxing record. She is a cardio machine with good power and great cardio too, even though she is 37.
Juarez has the edge on the feet and Godinez really needs to make this an ugly fight to get the win. Short-notice helps her, but Juarez was due to fight next week anyway on the Contender Series so it’s not a massive factor. However the grappling is a big factor for Godinez and I think she’ll be able to control from the top to grind out a decision.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision
Charles Rosa (14-5) vs Damon Jackson (18-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very interesting grapple-heavy bout in the featherweight division up next. Rosa has alternated wins and losses ever since joining the UFC in 2014, beating Justin Jaynes most recently at UFC Vegas 30. Jackson is 1-1 in the UFC, beating Mirsad Bektic at UFC Vegas 11 before defeat last time out against Ilia Topuria at UFC Vegas 16.
Rosa is a solid submission artist with eight tap-out wins in his career but some really poor takedown defence. Jackson is also a brilliant grappler and one of the premiere back-takers in the UFC, with 14 submission wins in his career. His top control game is really, really good and if Rosa leaves any limbs dangling then Jackson will take them.
Jackson has been KO’d three times in his career and Rosa is a decent enough striker to land some clean shots and hurt him, but overall the defensive takedown struggles of Rosa lead me to believe that Jackson will be able to get on top and control for a win.
PICK – Damon Jackson via Decision
Alexandr Romanov (14-0) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight banger coming up as the undefeated Romanov returns to the cage to take on Vanderaa. Romanov has run through opponents in the UFC until he came up against Juan Espino, with the fight ending in a technical decision after a low blow saw the fight ended early. Vanderaa got a win the last time out when he beat Justin Tafa back in May, taking his UFC record to 1-1.
Romanov is an absolute monster with the wrestling, who just charges forward with a takedown and dominates on the ground with pure aggression. Vanderaa is a fighter with decent striking and some good cardio, but considering he’s a heavyweight he doesn’t have the most power in the world. He is the cleaner and more technical fighter in this bout, but Vanderaa likes to clinch up and get inside on his opponent which plays into the strengths of Romanov.
Unfortunately for Vanderaa, that is just not ideal. Romanov will find a way to get the fight down to the ground early and do plenty of damage with strikes and submission attempts, before probably getting a finish.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1
Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2) vs Felipe Colares (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Banger in the bantamweight division steps into the place of the featured prelim bout in this one. Gutierrez is unbeaten in his last five with four wins and a draw, beating Andre Ewell at UFC 258 most recently, while Colares has alternated wins and losses in his last four with a win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 25 last time out.
Gutierrez is a decent wrestler who is one of the best leg kickers in the entire company, with a large percentage of his strikes in all his fights being leg kicks. Colares on the other hand is a solid striker with some decent jiu-jitsu, but his takedown defence is lacking and often his weakness. Gutierrez is often someone who works at quite a slow pace, which could work against him in this one because Colares is quick and super durable.
That said though, Gutierrez has the advantage in the wrestling and has the advantage in the striking which means Colares will need to catch a kick to get him down. That’s unlikely and I think Gutierrez will be able to piece him up from range and do lots of damage with the leg kicks for a decision win.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Decision