The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas this week for a card that has been littered with changes on short notice.
Originally scheduled to be headlined by Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev, that fight was forced to be moved to UFC 272 due to visa issues and will now be headlined by Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill.
It’s not the greatest of cards, with the only ranked fighters scheduled to compete in the main event but there are some decent fights expected to take place.
Last week at UFC 271 we had a great night, correctly predicting 11/14 fights with seven perfect picks which takes our picks totals to 539/840 (64.17%) with 231 perfect picks (42.86%).
Lets see if we can improve that here, starting with the early prelims.
Mario Bautista (8-2) vs Jay Perrin (10-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A short notice bout put together this week in the bantamweight division. Bautista saw a two-fight win streak snapped last time out when Tevin Jones KO’d him in the second round at UFC 259, while Perrin makes his UFC debut on a run of seven wins in eight fights.
Bautista is a pressure fighter who uses kicks to close distance and likes to chop at the legs. He’s also a good counter puncher with decent power and is well rounded. Perrin on the other hand is also a solid striker, with good leg kicks and always looking to extend his combinations to catch an opponent off guard.
Both fighters will be willing to shoot for takedowns as well as stand and bang, so the short-notice nature of the bout makes me lean towards Bautista. He’s never had an issue with his cardio and I’d argue he’s probably got the edge over Perrin in most, if not all, areas so he should be able to implement his game and score the win.
PICK – Mario Bautista via Decision
Jonathan Pearce (11-4) vs Christian Rodriguez (7-0) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A banger at featherweight between two very interesting fighters in yet another short-notice bout. Pearce is on a two-fight win streak having beaten Kai Kamaka III and Omar Morales most recently via submission at UFC 266. Rodriguez is undefeated and has split his wins 3-3-1 by knockout, submission and decision.
Pearce is a solid wrestler who uses a suffocating pace to wear on his opponents with some really decent striking too. He’ll be coming up against a really talented striker in Rodriguez, who has crisp boxing, a lovely one-two and lovely knees too. He’s a good grappler himself, but there is a big gap between himself and Pearce in that department and that’s a big problem.
Rodriguez is undoubtedly a superstar in the making, with lots of talent and potential, but this looks to be too big a step too soon – especially on short notice. Pearce will suffocate him with pressure, look for takedowns against the cage and throw big combinations to get the fight down and eventually get a finish via ground and pound.
PICK – Jonathan Pearce via Knockout, Round 3
Chad Anheliger (11-5) vs Jesse Strader (5-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A potential fight of the night at 135-pounds between two very talented fighters. Anheliger makes his UFC debut on a nine-fight win streak following his win on Dana White’s Contender Series back in September, while Strader got slept in his only UFC bout to date by Montel Jackson at UFC Vegas 22.
Anheliger is a tidy fighter, with great technical striking and counter punching, a deep gas tank and a granite chin. Strader on the other hand is an explosive fighter who looks to take his opponent out early with a blitz, before his cardio inevitably lets him down later in the fights. Strader is a great wrestler too, but almost never uses it. If he did use it then we’d see a very different fight, because all of Angeliger’s defeats have come via submission.
With that said though, Strader isn’t the best submission artist and I don’t see him wrestling for prolonged periods of time. With that, Anheliger will trade with him on the feet and look to use his counter strikes to pay dividends on the fading chin of Strader as we approach the end of the second round. It’ll be a fun fight while it lasts, but I don’t expect it to go the full 15 minutes.
PICK – Chad Anheliger via Knockout, Round 2