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.
We’ll look to improve on that this week with this 12 fight card and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelim picks here.
Terrance McKinney (11-3) vs Fares Ziam (12-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight here. McKinney made his UFC debut at UFC 263 on very short notice and secured the quickest KO in lightweight history, putting Matt Frevola’s lights out in just seven seconds. Ziam on the other hand has earned back-to-back wins in the UFC, beating Jamie Mullarkey via decision at UFC Fight Island 6 before a majority decision over Luigi Vendramini at UFC 263.
McKinney is a super powerful striker on the feet, with some great boxing skills and a nasty low kick to go with it. He’s also got very good wrestling and some decent submission skills, earning six tap-out victories. Ziam on the other hand is a technical striker who fights at a slow pace and looks to counter-strike on the outside. That slow pace however could be a big problem for him in this fight, with McKinney a very fast starter.
‘T-Rex’ will likely come out hard and fast and look to put Ziam against the fence and land big strikes before moving on to his wrestling and trying to drag the fight to the ground where he has the edge. Ziam has every chance of countering those blitzes with powerful shots of his own, but I think McKinney’s ability to wrestle and grapple earns him a victory here.
PICK – Terrence McKinney via Decision
Loma Lookboonmee (6-2) vs Lupita Godinez (6-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Another fun strawweight bout on this card as Lupita Godinez steps in for her third outing in a little over a month. A win over Silvana Gomez Juarez at UFC Vegas 26 was followed up the following week with a defeat up a weight class against Luana Carolina. Lookboonmee is on a two-fight win streak, beating Jinh Yu Frey and then beating Sam Hughes at UFC Vegas 25 most recently.
Lookboonmee is a brilliant kickboxer with great Muay-Thai skills and some much improved wrestling too, as shown in her last fight. Godinez is a decent wrestler herself with some okay striking on the feet, but ultimately it’s her wrestling that has got her this far. Unfortunately for her, Lookboonmee is very good when it comes to takedown defence and on the feet there is a very wide gap between the two.
Godinez has very good pressure early on and Lookboonmee is small even for this division, but her wrestling has improved to the point where there isn’t much of a difference between them. That means the fight will be tight and because of the edge on the feet, I think Lookboonmee can earn the victory.
PICK – Loma Lookboonmee via Decision
Rafa Garcia (12-2) vs Natan Levy (6-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight in this one between two fighters looking for their first UFC wins. Garcia is 0-2 in the organisation with decision losses to Nasrat Haqparast at UFC Vegas 21 and then Chris Gruetzemacher at UFC Vegas 33. Levy is making his UFC debut as an undefeated fighter, winning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series a year ago with a submission win.
Garcia is a solid wrestler with some excellent submission skills, earning seven of his 11 career wins via tap-out. Levy will stand opposite him also a decent wrestler with good submission skills once he’s on top, earning three of his six wins via tap-out. On the feet, Garcia has a big advantage in this fight though and that is what is leaning me towards this pick. Levy is a natural featherweight with a slight reach and heigh advantage, but he has really struggled with pressure in the past.
Garcia has previously gone five rounds in the past with a high pace and his ability to mix up the striking and wrestling should see him earn a victory against the smaller man. With that said though, Garcia’s cardio crumbled last time out and Levy is talented enough on the mat to secure a submission, but I think Garcia should be able to correct those issues and earn a win.
PICK – Rafa Garcia via Decision
Pat Sabatini (15-3) vs Tucker Lutz (12-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A featherweight banger is the featured prelim bout on this card. Sabatini is on a four-fight win streak with wins over Tristan Connelly at UFC 261 and a submission win over Jamall Emmers at UFC Vegas 35. Lutz meanwhile is undefeated since losing his pro debut, earning a decision win over Kevin Aguilar in his UFC debut at UFC 262.
Sabatini is a ground specialist, with amazing submission skills earning him 10 of 15 wins coming via tap-out. He’s a decent wrestler too to get the fight to the ground while he’s not scared to trade strikes on the feet to open up his chances. Lutz however is a very well-rounded fighter, with good striking on the feet and some efficient wrestling skills to be able to dictate where he wants the fight to take place.
Lutz’s performance against Aguilar was excellent and while he seemed to get tired in the third round, Sabatini has also struggled with his cardio in the past. Lutz is comfortably the better fighter on the feet and with his good wrestling, he should be able to keep the fight standing and avoid Sabatini’s brilliant submission grappling to earn a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Tucker Lutz via Decision