The first pay-per-view of the year brings us two huge title fights in the smallest and biggest weights available to the men.
In the main event of the night Francis Ngannou will take on former teammate and interim champion Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title of the world, while the co-main will see the trilogy between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title.
Both Ngannou and Gane will be fighting for more than just the title though considering the back story to the bout, while the 125-pound belt will see the two best in the world in their final form go head-to-head.
Last weekend at UFC Vegas 46 we went 6/10 with three perfect picks to move to 514/802 (64.09%) with 217 perfect picks (42.22%).
We’ll look to improve on that in this 11-fight card, starting with the early prelims here.
Kay Hansen (7-4) vs Jasmine Jasudavicius (6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A women’s flyweight fight opens the card up for the fans in California. Hansen lost her last fight at UFC Vegas 14 with a decision to Cory McKenna, while Jasudavicius makes her UFC debut on a two-fight win streak following a win on Dana White’s Contender Series back in September.
Hansen is a strong wrestler with some good submission skills on the ground, with four of her victories coming via tap out. Jasudavicius is a fighter who has little MMA experience outside of her record, but has an excellent pressure game and is super aggressive although her striking isn’t particularly great. This is a tough fight for the debutant, who struggled in her Contender Series fight to really shine despite earning the contract.
Jasudavicius’ strengths lie in the same place as Hansen’s and that means that experience becomes quite important. Jasudavicius has a natural size advantage in this bout, but ultimately it feels like Hansen should have too much for her and claim the victory.
PICK – Kay Hansen via Submission, Round 2
Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-3) vs Vanessa Demopoulos (6-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
An interesting women’s fight to kick off the year in the strawweight division. Juarez got smoked in her UFC debut against Lupita Godinez, getting submitted via armbar in round one at UFC Vegas 39. Demopoulos also suffered defeat in her UFC defeat, losing a unanimous decision to JJ Aldrich at UFC Vegas 35.
Juarez is a crisp, fast and powerful striker on the feet, with some decent grappling skills that are usually enough for her to at least try and keep a fight standing. Demopoulos on the other hand is a terrific grappler, but outside of that she tends to struggle big time in her opponents wheelhouse because her wrestling is pretty average at best. If she can’t get the fight down, she leaves herself open to problems which explains her pretty poor record.
As mentioned already, Juarez has the ability to generally keep the fight standing against non-wrestlers and if she can do that here she should be able to strike her way to a comfortable decision win. If Demopoulos is able to get her down though, this could end quickly. Unfortunately, I see Juarez standing firm and earning the victory.
PICK – Silvana Gomez Juarez via Decision
Matt Frevola (8-3-1) vs Genaro Valdez (10-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very intriguing lightweight fight up next between two relative prospects. Frevola has lost each of his last two in the UFC, dropping a decision to Arman Tsarukyan at UFC 257 before getting starched by Terrence McKinney at UFC 263 last time out. Valdez on the other hand comes in undefeated for his UFC debut, with a KO win on the Contender Series earning him this spot.
Both of these fighters are always interested in ‘swangin and bangin’ against their opponents, with big power punches leaving themselves open to takedowns. Frevola has the edge in wrestling and boxing, just, but Valdez is very good at pushing the pace and has considerably more durability. Both guys are very similar stylistically but they each have different advantages over the other.
Valdez is more likely to get the finish here and he’ll be hyped for it undoubtedly, but if he doesn’t land clean early on then I expect Frevola to be able to time his takedowns and get some good control on the ground to earn a decision win.
PICK – Matt Frevola via Decision