An absolute banger of a main event headlines the UFC Vegas 53 card live from the UFC Apex centre in Las Vegas this weekend.
Two top ten bantamweights go head-to-head as Rob Font takes on Marlon Vera in a five-round clash, while Andrei Arlovski takes on Jake Collier in a heavyweight co-main event too.
At UFC Vegas 52 last weekend we had a hot and cold night with our picks as we went 7/11 with zero perfect picks (for the first time since UFC Vegas 40) to move us up to 608/940 (64.68%) with 255 perfect picks (41.94%).
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Tatsuro Taira (10-0) vs Carlos Candelario (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun fight between two debutants in the UFC opens up the card for us in this one. Taira is a perfect 10-0 at just 22-years-old, while Candelario was 8-0 before a defeat on Dana White’s Contender Series that the boss disagreed with and signed him because of anyway.
Taira is an excellent grappler with some solid grappling skills and excellent top pressure, where he works for submissions regularly. Candelario is an experienced fighter himself with some decent ground game too, although he looks more for ground and pound rather than submissions. On the feet Candelario is also a more active striker than Taira and technically is good enough to cause problems.
With that said though, Taira is so quick to latch on to any sort of mistake and if he gets an advantageous position on the mat he rarely lets it slip. Candelario tends to leave limbs hanging and uses his knees to get back to his feet which could allow Taira to take his back and sink in a nasty choke for a big win.
PICK – Tatsuro Taira via Submission, Round 2
Gina Mazany (7-5) vs Shanna Young (8-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Two women’s flyweight veterans go toe-to-toe in this one. Mazany is on a 3-5 fun, with a knockout defeat to Priscilla Cachoeira back at UFC 262 her last outing. Young on the other hand has lost her only two UFC bouts, dropping a decision to Macy Chiasson back in 2020 before getting KO’d by Stephanie Eggar at UFC Vegas 13 in her most recent bout.
Mazany is a striker who likes to use the clinch game to take her opponents down to the mat so she can change their face with vicious ground and pound, but has had issues in the past with her cardio skills. Young alternatively is also a striker, but she lacks power in her attacks and has little-to-no takedown defence. Her fight IQ is questionable too, considering she waltzed into clinches against talented judoka Eggar last time out.
This is Mazany’s fight to lose stylistically. She has the power advantage, is the better grappler and has got a good size advantage. She is however moving down to flyweight for the fight and that’s a problem considering her cardio problems. Young needs to avoid being taken down at all costs because she can hold her own on the feet, but I expect Mazany to get this down quickly and call it a night with a statement.
PICK – Gina Mazany via Knockout, Round 2
Natan Levy (6-1) vs Mike Breeden (10-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Two men looking for their first ever UFC win after defeats in their debuts last year. Levy was beaten up by Rafa Garcia en route to a unanimous decision loss at UFC Vegas 43, while Breeden got KO’d viciously by Alexander Hernandez in the first round at UFC Vegas 38.
Levy is a stand-up fighter who tends to use kicking range as his preferred distance, and has some good wrestling to lean on also. Breeden is more of a boxer who likes to pressure forward and get into the pocket before firing off powerful shots, which have earned him eight knockout wins so far in his career. With that said, Levy will be confident of being able to replicate Breeden’s defeat to Anthony Romero.
Using a karate stance he should be able to keep out of that pocket and with Breeden very heavy on his lead leg, he will allow Levy the opportunity to kick the crap out of it like Romero did on the Contender Series. If Breeden gets past that distance he certainly has the power advantage, but Levy is a dangerous counter striker and his takedown offense is a good way to mix it up and claim a decision win.
PICK – Natan Levy via Decision