The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas once again for a women’s strawweight main event between Amanda Lemos and Jessica Andrade.
In a sneaky card that lacks real star power, the top of the division at 115-pounds could either find a brand new contender making waves or the return of a former champion into contention.
There are some pretty decent scraps on this card too, and we’ll break them all down.
Last week at UFC Vegas 51 in a largely disappointing card we managed to go 8/14 with three perfect picks on the night to move us to 601/929 (64.69%) with 255 perfect picks (42.43%).
We’ll look to improve on that percentage here and after starting with the early prelims here and picking the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card.
Lando Vannata (12-5-2) vs Charles Jourdain (12-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Banger at featherweight to open up the main card in this one. Vannata claimed a split decision win back at UFC 262 in his last outing against Mike Grundy, while Jourdain earned a decision win over Andre Ewell at UFC Vegas 45 in his latest bout.
Vannata is a very talented kickboxer with great power in his hands and a sniper-like right hand, who absolutely loves a scrap and is more than willing to trade strikes for a knockout win. Jourdain on the other hand is also a brilliant kickboxer with great technique and power, but as a more regular featherweight we know he pushes the pace hard and eventually breaks opponents with his cardio as well as his striking. All of that equals a potential fight of the night bout between these two men.
Jourdain is the crisper striker from distance and while Vannata is a good wrestler, Jourdain is no scrub if the fight goes to the mat either. The early exchanges will undoubtedly be close and violent, but as the bout goes on I expect Jourdain to be able to carry it on further and with more weapons, he should claim a wild decision win.
PICK – Charles Jourdain via Decision
Alexandr Romanov (15-0) vs Chase Sherman (15-9) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big short notice heavyweight bout up next, as Sherman returns to the organisation just days after initially being released by the company. Romanov is an undefeated monster with relentless grappling skills, beating Jared Vanderaa most recently via knockout back in October. Sherman is on a three-fight losing streak, getting submitted by Jake Collier at UFC Vegas 46 most recently in January.
Romanov is an exciting grappling machine, who uses amazing suplexes and takedowns to get the fight down before using a suffocating top game to blast his opponents with ground-and-pound as well as submissions. Sherman on the other hand is an old school heavyweight fighter, who stands quite flat footed and throws out jabs and low kicks one at a time before looping hooks as he looks to land a killer blow.
This is a shocking stylistic match up for Sherman and shy of landing a stunning one-punch KO there is only one direction that this fight is going in. Romanov will put him on his back and absolutely light him up until the referee pulls him off or the opportunity for a choke shows itself and he takes it. This won’t be a warm welcome back for Sherman and I’d be shocked if it gets out of the first round.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1
Sumudaerji (16-4) vs Manel Kape (17-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs) Another contender for fight of the night in this flyweight bout. Sumudaerji is on a three-fight win streak in the UFC defeating Zarrukh Adashev most recently at UFC Fight Island 8 last January, while Kape has won his last two fights after KO’ing Ode Osbourne (UFC 265) and Zhalgas Zhumagulov (UFC Vegas 44) in the first round. Sumudaerji is a very talented striker who has earned 11 knockout wins in his career. He uses his length excellently, with great kicks and very good punches down the middle and has got a decent grappling game too. Kape is a very solid wrestler but his flashy striking is the stand-out attribute in his game, using flying knees and his amazing hand speed to counter his opponents. He fires off good combinations, but recently his output has come into question and is the reason for his two defeats in the organisation. Both guys have got real knockout power and insane hand speed and this is a really close fight. The grappling is a good avenue to victory for Kape, but he doesn’t tend to use it much without his wrestling shoes in the UFC. Neither guy has ever been knocked out before, but if Kape can get the fight down his five submission wins and Sumudaerji’s four submission defeats are worrying. I expect a banger, but Kape has more paths to win and I think he takes one of them.
PICK – Manel Kape via Decision
Maycee Barber (9-2) vs Montana De La Rosa (12-6-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very fun women’s flyweight bout sees ‘The Future’ return to the octagon. Barber ended a two-fight skid by claiming a split decision against Miranda Maverick back at UFC Vegas 32, while De La Rosa claimed a KO win over Ariane Lipski at UFC Vegas 28 in her most recet outing.
Barber is a fighter who strikes well, closes distance with kicks and has good wrestling to control her opponent and use aggressive ground and pound. Her takedown defence is excellent too, and she uses elbows and knees well in the clinch too. De La Rosa uses her jab well and her heavy-handedness to hurt but her head movement is really lacking. Her takedown game has improved in recent years, but she’s not amazing yet and it will be difficult to see her claim repeated takedowns in this fight. If she does though, her jiu-jitsu is very good as her eight submission wins show.
Ultimately, this seems like Barber’s fight to lose though. She has a huge power advantage on the feet, she’s more aggressive and physically stronger too. If De La Rosa can get a takedown then it changes things, but I think she gets put out before that happens.
PICK – Maycee Barber via Knockout, Round 2
Clay Guida (37-18) vs Claudio Puelles (12-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Grizzly veteran vs hot prospect in this co-main event. Guida is a legendary name in the sport and earned a submission win in his most recent fight against Leonardo Santos most recently back in December. Puelles on the other hand is on a four-fight win streak, earning a kneebar submission win against Chris Gruetzmacher most recently on the same card.
Guida is a grinder who uses his amazing cardio to constantly apply pressure on his opponents and wrestles them relentlessly. Puelles on the other hand is a lengthy fighter who uses kicks well but ultimately tries to get fights to the ground to use his amazing jiu-jitsu skills. He has some decent Muay-Thai skills too, using knees in the clinch well.
This fight is almost sure to take place largely against the cage with both guys working for control and trading shots on the inside. That screams like a Guida-style fight to me and there may be nobody better than him at this type of bout. Puelles on paper is likely to secure a submission, but he’s hittable on the feet and he doesn’t have better cardio than Guida so I have to go with the veteran here.
PICK – Clay Guida via Decision
Amanda Lemos (11-1-1) vs Jessica Andrade (22-9) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A fun strawweight main event between two fighters who are lacking star power but should still produce a great fight. Lemos has put together a five-fight win streak in the UFC, with a split decision win over Angela Hill most recently at UFC Vegas 45. Andrade took a trip to flyweight beating Katlyn Chookagian (UFC Fight Island 6) and Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 266) via first-round knockout either side of a title-fight defeat to Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261.
Lemos is a very good striker, with good kicks and great counter-striking down the middle. Andrade is a powerful unit with brilliant knockout power and some really good takedowns and slams in her arsenal. Lemos likes to open quickly with a blitz of strikes and forward pressure, which is something that Andrade has struggled with in the past. She has great experience though and her cardio is something that is a big advantage for her here.
Andrade is able to weather storms and keep pushing forward, while Lemos is considerably slower in the third round than she is in the first. So with this fight set for five rounds, Lemos could be in trouble if she doesn’t get it done early. I don’t think she will either and Andrade will eventually slam her down and do enough damage on the mat to get a referee stoppage late on.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 4