UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Early prelims predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here, starting with the early prelims for the night.

Nick Maximov (8-0) vs Andre Petroski (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun bout to open up the card from two Ultimate Fighter alumni. Maximov is 2-0 in his short UFC career, earning a decision win over Cody Brundage at UFC 266 before a split decision over Puniahele Soriano in his last bout. Petroski is also 2-0 in the UFC, getting a KO win over Michael Gillmore in his debut before a submission win over Yaozong Hu at UFC 267.

Maximov is a grinder, using his excellent wrestling to take opponents down and just control position enough to stay safe and land some damage where he can. He is a long time training partner of the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate. Petroski is a grappler too, but he is more offensive and explosive with it and constantly looking for dangerous moments. With that said his striking isn’t great despite his power and in grappling, they’re pretty evenly matched.

Petroski has got some difficulty holding a fast pace and his cardio has let him down in the past. Maximov tends to push a steady pace and uses his physicality to work his opponent without leaving himself open. This won’t be the most exciting fight int he world, but with Maximov’s preference for position over submission, I expect a decision win and for him to remain undefeated.
PICK – Nick Maximov via Decision

Tatsuro Taira (10-0) vs Carlos Candelario (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun fight between two debutants in the UFC, that was originally scheduled to take place two weeks ago. 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


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