The final UFC event of 2021 is upon us and will be headlined by heavyweight bangers in Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
The two are at different ends of their career realistically and are fighting to carry the torch of the division into 2022.
In the co-main we’ll see welterweight contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson enter the last chance saloon for title contention when he takes on Belal Muhammad, who is looking to break into the top five of the rankings for the first time.
Last time out at UFC 269 we went 9/14 on the night in a fantastic card to move to 500/779 (64.18%) with 211 perfect picks (42.2%).
We’ll look to end the year on a high here, starting with the early prelims on this 14-fight card.
Jordan Leavitt (8-1) vs Matt Sayles (8-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight fight opens the card here. Leavitt started his UFC run excellently with slam KO just 22 seconds into his fight against Matt Wiman at UFC Vegas 16, before he dropped a decision to Claudio Puelles at UFC Vegas 28 in his last fight. Sayles hasn’t fought since 2019, where he was beaten by Bryce Mitchell via twister submission.
Leavitt is a solid wrestler with great slams and very crisp submission skills on the mat, while Sayles is a power striker with limited grappling skills. This is a tough return to action for Sayles, who is coming into a fight where his weaknesses are likely to get violently exposed.
Sayles is a natural featherweight making just his second professional appearances as a lightweight, while Leavitt is big for the division. That size will pay dividends when Leavitt goes in search of his takedown, gets it, keeps him down and eventually works his way to the back for a choke victory early on.
PICK – Jordan Leavitt via Submission, Round 1
Don’Tale Mayes (8-4) vs Josh Parisian (14-4) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights up next as they look to steal the shine early doors. Don’Tale Mayes suffered a heel hook defeat to Ciryl Gane in his UFC debut before getting submitted by Rodrigo Nascimento in May 2020. He finally earned a win when he gained a decision against Roque Martinez most recently at UFC Vegas 14. Parisian on the other hand bounced back from defeat to Parker Porter with a decision win against Martinez himself at UFC Vegas 29.
Both fighters are primary strikers with limited grappling techniques, which means this is likely to become a straight up kickboxing match. Mayes isn’t a great kicker, but he has a size advantage that means his strikes are likely to have a bit more of an effect. Parisian often struggles to maintain distance and finds himself with his back against the fence, which could give Mayes the chance to tee off.
Parisian is the more powerful fighter though who has more experience and he uses leg kicks well to try and keep opponents off him. He’s the busier fighter in the in between moments of the fight and in a fight that I expect to go the difference, that’s usually the difference.
PICK – Josh Parisian via Decision
Raquel Pennington (12-9) vs Macy Chiasson (8-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger between two ranked bantamweights fighting at featherweight on short-notice. Pennington is on a two-fight win streak after earning decision wins against Marion Reneau and Pannie Kianzad. Chiasson on the other hand is also on a two-fight win streak having defeated Shana Young and Reneau via decision also at UFC Vegas 21.
Pennington is a wrestle-boxer with good combinations who is very good at getting on the inside to help with her small size and stature to affect distance. Chiasson on the other hand is a very tidy kickboxer with good clinchwork and decent KO power too.
This is a 50/50 fight because if Pennington can make it ugly, she has the advantage. She’s extremely well rounded and confident, but the fact this is happening at 145lbs plays into the bigger fighter’s hands. Chiasson will use range, land the bigger shots and make a bigger impression on the judges for a decision win.
PICK – Macy Chiasson via Decision
Charles Jourdain (11-4-1) vs Andre Ewell (17-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A brilliant featherweight encounter up next. Jourdain is 1-1-1 in his last three, with a draw against Josh Culibao followed up by a KO win over Marcelo Rojo at UFC Vegas 21 and then a defeat to Julian Erosa via submission at UFC Vegas 36. Ewell on the other hand has lost each of his last two fights via decision to Chris Gutierrez at UFC 258 and then Julio Arce by knockout at UFC Vegas 32.
Jourdain is a powerful striker with some good wrestling skills too and excellent kicks, while Ewell is a primary boxer who is starting to learn to check kicks. For a fighter with such a huge reach, Ewell doesn’t use it nearly enough or nearly well enough. Against someone like Jourdain who is a great kicker, a natural 145er and a power puncher himself with a great gas tank, this is an uphill battle for Ewell.
Ultimately, this is Jourdain’s fight to lose. He has the edge in power, size and grappling if he chooses to use it and while Ewell is the better boxer it’s easily countered with kicks and wrestling so he should claim a decent win here.
PICK – Charles Jourdain via Decision