The UFC returns to the Apex once again for UFC Vegas 41 this weekend as Paulo Costa takes on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division.
The Brazilian is looking to earn some respect back following his excuses and defeat to Israel Adesanya, while Vettori is looking to finally get that marquee name on his resume following his most recent defeat to… Israel Adesanya.
It’s not the most stacked card this week in name value, but there are some very fun fights on the card that we’ll look to predict.
Last week at UFC Vegas 40 we struggled at went 5/10 with zero perfect picks, moving us to 439/689 (63.72%) with 187 perfect picks (42.6%) since June 2020.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Jonathan Martinez (13-4) vs Zviad Lazishvili (13-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A super short notice fight to open up the card as an undefeated champion makes his UFC debut. Martinez has done well in the UFC but was beaten by knockout last time out against Davey Grant at UFC Vegas 21, while Lazishvili earned a submission win in his last bout in September 2020.
Martinez is a technical boxer with a great jab and some heavy low kicks, but he has a lot of issues with his weight at these smaller divisions. Lazishvili is a grappler extraordinaire who uses his excellent wrestling to get the fight to the ground and work for his submissions.
Lazishvili will look to close the distance, wrestle Martinez to the ground and hold him there until a submission shows itself or the referee brings the round to an end. Martinez is good in the grappling himself but he won’t want to find himself under Lazishvili. It should be a banger, but I have to go with the undefeated fighter for his ability to dictate where the fight goes.
PICK – Zviad Lazishvili via Decision
Livinha Souza (14-3) vs Randa Markos (10-12-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun strawweight bout is scheduled for the card here between two fighters coming off defeats. Souza got a win against Ashley Yoder at UFC 252, before she lost via TKO to Amanda Lemos at UFC 259 most recently. Markos on the other hand has lost four straight, including a submission to Mackenzie Dern at UFC Vegas 11 and then via DQ last time out at UFC Vegas 25 for an illegal up-kick.
Souza is a good wrestler with some really strong takedowns in her arsenal, but she is one of the best when it comes to poor game plans and throwing away fights. Markos on the other hand is a good striker, who has seen her takedown defence exposed in recent fights. Souza has a habit of trading strikes with opponents even when it’s their strength and her weakness.
If she remembers that she’s a judo black belt and has a huge advantage on the ground in this fight, she would win relatively easily. If she chooses to strike, which she almost certainly will, she gives Markos a chance. Unfortunately for Markos though, the takedown is always there against her and I expect Souza will use it at some point to earn a decision win.
PICK – Livinha Souza via Decision
Jeff Molina (9-2) vs Daniel Lacerda (11-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A banger at flyweight in this one between two hot prospects. Molina in on an eight-fight win streak, winning his UFC proper debut via decision against Qileng Aori at UFC 261. Lacerda in the other corner is on a three-fight win streak, all coming in the first-round and he makes his UFC debut.
Molina is a technical boxer on the feet with great volume and good cardio, while Lacerda is a violent kickboxer with some brilliant submissions off his back and in his back pocket. Molina has a great jab, good low kicks and his takedown defence is probably average which sets up a brilliant fight. Lacerda has insane power in his legs with kicks and scary power in his hands, never going beyond the second-round in his career.
Lacerda’s only defeat came via an injury to his shoulder, but the fact he has never gone into deep water is a worry. We don’t know how good his cardio is and we know that Molina can control the pace for a full 15 minutes. With that said, Lacerda has a brilliant killer instinct and because of his submission game the kickboxing could potentially open up for him to score a finish.
PICK – Daniel Lacerda via Knockout, Round 1
Khama Worthy (16-8) vs Jai Herbert (10-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight scrap between the veteran Worthy and the newbie fighting for his UFC career in Herbert. Worthy has lost each of his last two via knockout, getting stopped by Ottman Azaitar at UFC Vegas 10 before Jamie Mullarkey KO’d him at UFC 260. Herbert has also been stopped in his two UFC outings, getting KO’d by Francisco Trinaldo at UFC Fight Island 3 before a submission defeat to Renato Moicano at UFC Vegas 30.
Both of these guys have got genuine knockout power in their strikes, with Worthy earning nine KO wins in his career and Herbert earning eight KO wins in his career. Both guys are kickboxers at their core, but Worthy is far more power-based rather than technical, while Herbert is tidy striker with the power to match.
Worthy is likely to try and close distance and land one heavy shot to turn the lights out, but if Herbert can stay long and use his range well he will have an edge. The longer the fight goes, Herbert has more advantages under his belt and I think Herbert’s power and technique together mean he can stay in there to do enough damage and save his UFC career.
PICK – Jai Herbert via Knockout, Round 2