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.
Nicolae Negumereanu (10-1) vs Ike Villanueva (18-12) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A 205lbs stepping stone bout between a prospect and a veteran. Negumereanu returned from over two years out to earn a split decision win over Aleksa Camur at UFC Vegas 29, while Villanueva has lost three of his last four with a KO defeat to Marcin Prachnio last time out at UFC Vegas 30.
Villanueva is a decent boxer with good power, preferring a hook to a straight and looking to take someone’s head off. Negumereanu on the other hand is a powerful striker himself with good wrestling to dictate where the fight goes. He’s incredibly aggressive and physical, with a pretty decent gas tank too.
For Negumereanu the game plan should be simple; do what you do well, and you’ll win. If he uses his wrestling, his aggressive and avoids the big punches that Villanueva can threaten with, then this should be a relatively comfortable win for ‘Nick’.
PICK – Nicolae Negumereanu via Knockout, Round 2
Francisco Trinaldo (26-8) vs Dwight Grant (11-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An interesting welterweight bout set up here between the 43-year-old Trinaldo and the man with the biggest back in MMA. Trinaldo was defeated by Muslim Salikhov at UFC Vegas 28 last time out, while Grant earned a split decision win at UFC 261 against Stefan Sekulic.
Trinaldo is a powerful striker with one of the best left hands in the division, with good boxing skills. Grant is a good mover with explosive power too, using his jab and length. He tends to throw his strikes just one at a time though and the lack of volume can often be an issue.
Grant doesn’t really set his knockout shots up well, but when he lands he hurts his opponents. Trinaldo tends to plant his feet and throw bombs too, so it comes down to durability. At 43-years-old, I think Trinaldo’s chin will likely give out first and Grant can grab a win.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2
Alex Caceres (18-12) vs Seungwoo Choi (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight clash between ‘Bruce Leeroy’ and ‘Sting. Caceres has won his last four-in-a-row with a big decision win over Kevin Croom last time out at UFC Vegas 20, while Choi has won his last three with a KO against Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 29 in his last outing.
Caceres is a really well-rounded fighter, with good striking and a great pace to go with some good grappling too. Choi will be opposite him with a pure boxing stance with great power in his hands and improved takedown defence over recent performances.
For Choi, he needs to avoid takedown attempts and use his physicality to slow Caceres down. He has solid knockout power, works the body well and is constantly improving. For Caceres he must use his speed to get in and out, but I see Choi doing enough to secure a big career win.
PICK – Seung Woo Choi via Decision
Jessica-Rose Clarke (10-6) vs Joselyne Edwards (10-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A decent bantamweight bout that seems way too high up on the card for me. Clarke returned from two straight defeats to earn a KO win over Sarah Alpar at UFC Vegas 11, while Edwards won her UFC debut against Yanan Wu at UFC Fight Island 7 before a defeat to Karol Rosa a month later at UFC Vegas 18.
Clarke is a proper grinder. stepping forward with good takedowns and willing to take strikes to close the distance. Edwards on the other hand is a brilliant kickboxer with decent takedown defence but with a definite preference to keep the bout standing. For Clarke, she needs the bout on the ground and her pressure will likely get it there.
Edwards will need to show an improved takedown defence to keep it standing, where she has a clear edge and the ability and power to potentially score a finish. You’ll know after the first takedown attempt who wins this fight, but I think Clarke will just be able to scrape a victory.
PICK – Jessica-Rose Clarke via Decision
Grant Dawson (17-1) vs Ricky Glenn (22-6-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun co-main event in the lightweight division as the mightily impressive Dawson takes on Glenn. ‘KGD’ is on an eight-fight win streak with a KO victory against Leonardo Santos at UFC Vegas 22 last time out, while Glenn secured a first-round KO win over Joaquim Silva at UFC Vegas 29 in his last fight to get back to winning ways.
Dawson is a pressure fighter with some decent striking defence and a brilliant grappling background that has helped him secure 11 submission wins in his career. Glenn on the other side of the cage is a technical striker with good combinations and power, with a comfortable enough level on the ground where he’s not completely outmatched.
This is a great match up and stylistically Dawson has a big edge. His pressure and pace is relentless and when he gets a fight to the ground his striking and submissions are really good, while his cardio has held up a lot recently since his move to 155lbs. Glenn has stopping power, but the longer it goes the more I lean to Dawson.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Submission, Round 3
Paulo Costa (13-1) vs Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
A BANGER of a main event, which has been switched to a light heavyweight fight at 205lbs after Costa admitted he couldn’t make weight during fight week. Costa was unbeaten before he clashed with Israel Adesanya at UFC 253 and got KO’d and has had plenty of professionalism problems since. Vettori was on a five-fight win streak with wins over Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 and Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23, before a defeat to Adesanya himself at UFC 263.
Costa is an absolute powerhouse, with bricks for hands and a stellar physique as well as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Vettori on the other hand is a fighter who steps forward, closes the distance with dirty boxing before taking his opponents down and dominating with ground and pound. Costa will come forward and look to take Vettori’s head off with each and every strike, with a violent body kick in his arsenal.
Vettori though has the advantage with taking the fight to the ground and the weight issues that Costa has been having this week can’t be a good thing. Vettori’s chin has held up throughout his career, with zero defeats by finish and while Costa has other-worldly power that becomes useless if he’s on his back. I expect Vettori to press forward, clinch against the cage and work for takedowns to control on the ground for a decision win in an entertaining fight.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision