A huge welterweight main event is the main attraction at UFC Vegas 51 this weekend as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad in a rematch from 2016.
The two top six 170-pounders will go head-to-head looking to extend their winning streaks here, knowing that title contention won’t be far behind.
Last week at UFC 273 we saw a great card that was lacking a little bit on finishes, but we still managed to go 8/12 with four perfect picks to go to 593/915 (64.81%) with 252 perfect picks (42.5%).
You can view our complete pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we finish off our prelims picks here.
Rafa Garcia (13-2) vs Jesse Ronson (21-10) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Another fun lightweight fight opens up this section of the card. Garcia finally got into the win column in the UFC after defeats to Nasrat Haqparast (UFC Vegas 21) and Chris Gruetzmacher, besting Natan Lewy on the scorecards last time out. Ronson on the other hand comes back into the UFC for a fifth bout, having had a no contest with Nicolas Dalby in a short-notice bout back in 2020 in his last fight.
Garcia is a wrestle-boxer, using his cardio as a weapon and his stinging right hand to cause his opposition problems. Ronson has the nickname ‘the body snatcher’ because of his impressive body work when striking, although his wrestling defence leaves a lot to be desired and that screams problems in this fight.
Garcia’s cardio had always been great for him up until his fight against Gruetzmacher where it gave way, but his striking against someone like Ronson should open up plenty of takedown opportunities. That should find the 27-year-old in a position to dictate the fight’s direction and claim a big win.
PICK – Rafa Garcia via Decision
Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) vs Brandon Jenkins (15-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
More lightweights up next. Klose makes his first appearance in the octagon since his highlight reel knockout defeat to Beneil Dariush back in March 2020, while Brandon Jenkins returns following his debut defeat to Zhu Rong back in September last year.
Klose is a brawler with some decent takedowns and ground and pound in his game, with terrific power in his strikes and explosive speed. Jenkins is a wild fighter too, who walks forward and looks to land big techniques to secure knockouts. In short, this is as close to a tune up fight you’ll see in MMA.
Klose has got a huge advantage in every area of this fight and will likely be able to finish it in whichever way he assumes necessary. My guess is he walks Jenkins back to the cage and then lands a huge strike before following up with more shots to earn a big first-round knockout.
PICK – Drakkar Klose via Knockout, Round 1
Lina Lansberg (10-5) vs Pannie Kianzad (16-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Two of Sweden’s greatest MMA exports go head-to-head in the women’s bantamweight division next. Lansberg got well beaten by Sara McMann last time out back in 2020, while Kianzad saw a four-fight win streak snapped by Raquel Pennington in her last outing back in September 2021.
Lansberg has the nickname the ‘Elbow Queen’ for a reason. She is a terrific striker with great clinch work, that she tends to try and break from with heavy elbows to the temple. Kianzad is a very crisp and clean boxer, who tends to use volume and speed to outwork her opponents and that seems like a great avenue to victory here against her 40-year-old countrywoman.
At her peak, Lansberg’s style would be great for her to try and grind Kianzad against the cage and frustrate her, but it seems unlikely. Her output is considerably lower than Kianzad’s and after a lengthy layoff, it’s unlikely to change much here so expect Kianzad to simply be too much for her.
PICK – Pannie Kianzad via Decision
Devin Clark (12-6) vs William Knight (11-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A featured prelim bout in the heavyweight division should be a banger. Clark has lost his last two, getting submitted by Anthony Smith before dropping a decision to Ion Cutelaba in his last fight. Knight claimed impressive wins over Fabio Cherant and Alonzo Menifield (UFC Vegas 44) before losing his last bout to Maxim Grishin at UFC 271.
Clark is a wrestler who looks to get into top position and land some solid ground and pound and control the position, while Knight is a brawler with horrendous technique but brutal ground and pound himself if he finds himself in top position. After a 12-pound weight miss last time by Knight, this fight takes place in a division above Clark’s natural weight class and that means Knight should have an advantage.
He is already incredibly powerful and explosive, so not having to cut weight means he should be really fresh for this match up. That said, it’s unlikely to be a fun bout. Neither guy has great cardio or output, so expect Knight to land the bigger strikes throughout the 15 minutes and muscle his way to a win.
PICK – William Knight via Decision