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 and after starting with the early prelims picks, we complete our prelim picks here.
Jamie Pickett (11-6) vs Laureano Staropoli (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A very fun middleweight scrap continues the prelims of the card here. Jamie Pickett has lost his last two, dropping a decision to Tafon Nchukwi at UFC Vegas 17 before getting stopped by Jordan Wright at UFC 262. Staropoli has lost his last three via decision, with the most recent coming against Roman Dolidze at UFC Vegas 28.
Pickett is powerful puncher with some decent kicks, but he struggles to use his length to its maximum potential. Staropoli is a brawler who likes to march his opponents down and use his strong boxing and decent power on the inside to overpower opponents. The issue for the Argentine however is that he’s a natural welterweight and was way undersized at middleweight last time out.
His last five fights have gone the distance, but stylistically he is a nightmare for Pickett. ‘The Night Wolf’ likes to take his time to pick his shots and fight on the front foot, but Staropoli will come forward and force him onto the back foot with his pressure. For that, I think Staropoli can outwork him and earn a late finish.
PICK – Laureano Staropoli via Knockout, Round 3
Tabatha Ricci (5-1) vs Maria Oliveira (12-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
An interesting fight in the strawweight division between two women looking for their first UFC wins. Ricci fought Manon Fiorot in her UFC debut on super short notice and got KO’d at UFC Vegas 28, while Oliveira makes her organisation debut on a two-fight win streak.
Ricci is a jiu-jitsu black belt with really good submission and grappling skills, but obviously we haven’t seen it at the elite level. Oliveira on the other hand is an okay striker on the feet but is very lengthy, with a non-existent ground game.
It’s a much nicer match-up for Ricci in this one than her debut and while Oliveira is talented, her record is as padded as they come. She doesn’t really have the greatest of KO power and Ricci should be confident enough to come forward and tie her up to get her to the mat. Once it gets there, it’s all about survival for Oliveira and I don’t think she lasts too long.
PICK – Tabatha Ricci via Submission, Round 1
Mason Jones (10-1) vs David Onama (8-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really exciting fight between two prospects at 155lbs on short notice in this one. Mason Jones bounced back from his first defeat against Mike Davis at UFC Fight Island 8 with a great performance against Alan Patrick, where an accidental eye-poke made it a no contest. Onama on the other hand is an unbeaten fighter with all eight wins coming via finish and steps in on less than a week’s notice.
Jones is a phenomenal athlete, who likes to stand and strike with his opponent but also with great grappling to fall back on too while Onana is an absolute powerhouse of a man with power and good fighting instincts on the ground too. Despite his short career, he looks ready for this step up and with more time and a better match up he’d have a great chance of making an impression.
Unfortunately for him, his debut comes against someone who is relentless and more experienced. Jones will look to overwhelm Onama and with his experience, wrestling and power of his own he should prove too much for the debutant as the fight goes on.
PICK – Mason Jones via Decision
Junyong Park (13-4) vs Gregory Rodrigues (10-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Another fun middleweight scrap is the featured prelim bout on the card. Park is on a three-fight win streak with a dominant grappling and ground and pound display against Tafon Nchukwi last time out at UFC Vegas 26. Rodrigues on the other hand has also won his last three, with a decision win over Dusko Todorovic in his debut at UFC Vegas 28 most recently.
Park is a well-rounded fighter, with tight striking and some solid wrestling to go with his violent ground and pound. Rodrigues is a supremely powerful fighter with brilliant wrestling and jiu-jitsu too, boasting four submissions and four knockouts in is career.
Rodrigues has the power to finish, but Park is very good at defending himself and pushing forward. Unfortunately, he hates being on his back and being out-matched in the wrestling department doesn’t bode too well for him. Both guys have the power to land and hurt the other, but I think Rodrigues’ control from the top will earn him a decision win.
PICK – Gregory Rodrigues via Decision