The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for a women’s bantamweight main event bout between Ketlen Vieira and former champion Miesha Tate.
Tate will be looking to keep the UFC’s dreams of a potential rematch with Amanda Nunes alive with a win in the main event, while Vieira is hopeful of killing off her comeback plans.
In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa will be looking to fight off gatekeeper claims in the welterweight division when he takes on the undefeated prospect Sean Brady.
Last week at UFC Vegas 42 we had a poor showing with our picks, earning jut 5/11 correct with three perfect picks to move to 476/741 (64.24%) with 200 perfect picks (42.02%) since June 2020.
Davey Grant (13-5) vs Adrian Yanez (14-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Absolute banger to open the main card in my pick for fight of the night. Grant earned a KO win over Jonathan Martinez at UFC Vegas 21, before defeat to Marlon Vera at UFC Vegas 29 most recently. Yanez, dubbed ‘baby Masvidal’, is undefeated in the UFC and earned stunning KO victories against Victor Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 12, Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 22 and then Randy Costa at UFC Vegas 32.
Grant is a solid wrestler who has recently developed his hands to be able to knock people out cold with his looping hooks. Yanez on the other hand is a super tidy boxer, with great power and footwork and the ability to mix up body and head attacks brilliantly. This is a fight that seems highly unlikely to go the distance, because both guys don’t know how to step backwards. Grant has fallen in love with his hands recently and if he wants to trade strike-for-strike with Yanez, he’s probably going to sleep.
If Grant opts to use his wrestling more though, he could use his experience to be able to grind out a win and slow Yanez’s output down entirely. With that said though, Yanez has shown decent takedown defence in the past and because of how much Grant loads up with his strikes I can see Yanez countering with a nice combination and scoring a huge knockout win.
PICK – Adrian Yanez via Knockout, Round 2
Joanne Wood (15-6) vs Taila Santos (18-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Formerly Joanne Calderwood, Wood debuts her new surname after marriage to return to the octagon against a super hot prospect. Wood is 4-4 in her last eight, with a win over Jessica Eye at UFC 257 being followed up by a loss to Lauren Murphy at UFC 263 last time out. Santos on the other hand has lost just once, on her UFC debut, and has won each of her last three fights against Molly McCann at UFC Fight Island 1, Gillian Robertson at UFC Vegas 17 and then against Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 266.
Wood has got some solid kickboxing skills, good wrestling and a decent submission threat on the ground too despite just one tap-out win in her career. Santos has shown throughout her career that she is also supremely well-rounded, with some great takedowns and jiu-jitsu skills as well as crisp kickboxing on the feet. This is a very tough fight to call, because it’s experience against the uprising talent.
Santos has proven to be too physically strong for all her opponents so far and has got the power to make fighters try to take her down, where she has been able to control everyone else too. Wood has got lots of experience and good footwork too, but ultimately Santos will likely just be hungrier and more active to earn a close decision win.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision
Rani Yahya (27-10-1) vs Kyung Ho Kang (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A submission battle beckons in this one in the bantamweight division. Yahya is 1-1-1 in his last three, suffering defeat to Ricky Simon and drawing with Enrique Barzola before finally returning to the win column against Ray Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 21. Kang on the other hand has won each of his last three fights, but steps into the cage for the first time since December 2019 after injury.
Yahya is a jiu-jitsu black belt with all 21 of his stoppage victories coming via submission throughout his career, while Kang is an excellent wrestler who also looks to secure submissions rather than just simply control his opponents. Both these guys will be desperate for the fight to hit the ground as soon as possible, and that only fits to suit Yahya’s style as much as possible.
If he gets taken down he is very good at getting back to his feet quickly, and if he ends up on top then the likelihood of Kang getting back to his feet are slim unless the round ends or the referee is waving the fight off. Ultimately, this is the perfect stylistic match-up for an ageing bantamweight and I think Yahya will likely be able to transition on the ground to get Kang’s neck and secure another stoppage win.
PICK – Rani Yahya via Submission, Round 2
Michael Chiesa (18-5) vs Sean Brady (14-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
An absolute banger at welterweight between two ranked fighters. Chiesa was on the brink of a title shot with four wins in a row against Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8, before defeat last time out to Vicente Luque at UFC 265 pushed him down to number six in the rankings. Brady on the other hand is undefeated in his career and 4-0 in the UFC with decision wins over Court McGee and Ismail Naurdiev before submissions against Christian Aguilera at UFC Vegas 8 and Jake Matthews at UFC 259.
Chiesa is a brilliant wrestler with unbelievable grappling and jiu-jitsu skills, with his back control being among the best in the entire company. Brady is also a stud wrestler, with good stand-up skills and decent boxing while on the mat he is more than capable of locking up a couple of submissions too. This is a stylistic clash, because it’s two primary grapplers but both are also capable of holding their own in the opposite world.
Whoever is on top in the grappling exchanges will be the dominant one and on the feet they’re both pretty even. Ultimately though I think this level is a bit too big of a jump for Brady and I think Chiesa should be able edge it on the feet and eventually control on the ground to secure a decision victory and hand Brady his first defeat.
PICK – Michael Chiesa via Decision
Ketlen Vieira (11-2) vs Miesha Tate (19-7) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Main event time in the women’s bantamweight division to round off what looks to be a very fun card. Vieira is 1-2 in her last three, with a win over Sijara Eubanks at UFC 253 sandwiched between defeats to Irene Aldana at UFC 245 and Yana Kunitskaya at UFC Vegas 19. Tate returned from a near four-year retirement to score a third-round TKO win over Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31 in the summer.
Vieira is a decent wrestler with some excellent jiu-jitsu, with a brilliant heavy position from the top where she can flatten her opponents out and just dominate. Tate on the other hand is also an excellent wrestler, using a powerful double-leg takedown and some good jiu-jitsu from the mat to secure seven submission wins in her career.
This is a fight that doesn’t really have any place being a main event, but it is. Vieira has struggled with weight issues in the past, missing weight in her defeat to Kunitskaya and does not having any previous five-round experience. With Tate likely to push the pace and gain top position at some point, it’s hard to see how she may lose this fight because stylistically that goes against everything Vieira stands for. It won’t be the most exciting main event, but Tate should be able to control with her wrestling and cardio to earn a decision win.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision