The UFC returns to the Apex centre in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 55, headlined by women’s bantamweight contenders Holly Holm and Ketlen Vieira.
In a rather underwhelming card, there is a banger of a co-main event on display though in the welterweight division when fan favourites Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira clash in a ranked bout.
Last week at UFC Vegas 54 we went 6/11 on the night with three perfect picks, moving our total to 628/976 (64.34%) with 268 perfect picks (42.68%). You can check out our total picks chart in detail here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims section of the card.
Elise Reed (5-1) vs Sam Hughes (6-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
The smallest women on the card open the event. Reed bounced back from a debut defeat to Sijara Eubanks last year with a split decision win over Cory McKenna at UFC London back in March in her last outing. Hughes on the other hand snapped a three-fight losing streak by picking up a big majority decision over Istela Nunes just last month at UFC Vegas 51.
Reed is a decent striker who uses her reach and length well, while having great footwork and being able to use a variety of strikes. Hughes is a fighter who uses her cardio as a weapon and looks to wrestle her opponents to the mat before fishing for submissions. She got a win last time out over Nunes by wearing on her and bringing the cardio issues to the fore, but that’s not something she can do with Reed.
If Reed is able to move as well as usual and keep the fight standing for the first few minutes at least, she should be able to pick her off with her striking to claim a decision. If Hughes can get the takedown though, then it’s a whole new problem. With that said, I expect the former to take place, so I’m picking Reed.
PICK – Elise Reed via Decision
Chase Hooper (10-2-1) vs Felipe Colares (10-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A very fun featherweight scrap up next. Hooper started well in the UFC but going 1-2 in his first three, with a heel hook submission win over Peter Barrett at UFC 256 for a comeback win. But last time out at UFC 263 against Steven Peterson saw him take some time away from the cage. Colares on the other hand has alternated losses and wins since joining the UFC, with a split decision loss against Chris Gutierrez last time out.
Hooper is a submission beast with nasty jiu-jitsu on the ground, but his wrestling is pretty poor and he often struggles to get the fight there. His striking is bang average too, proving just how good his submissions are considering his record. Colares on the other hand though is a very aggressive striker who likes to swing for the fences and take heads off, but his ground game is pretty solid too and he’ll be confident of holding his own.
This is a fight with all the signs of a mauling. Colares will march forward looking for big strikes and his ground game should be good enough to hold Hooper off. With that said, Hooper will go until the bell sounds and if he makes any mistakes, ‘The Dream’ will be ready to take advantage.
PICK – Felipe Colares via Decision
Jonathan Martinez (15-4) vs Vince Morales (11-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger in the bantamweight division up next between two guys who love to bang. Martinez has won each of his last two fights via decision, defeating Zviad Lazishvili and Alejandro Perez, while Morales claimed a decision win over Drako Rodriguez at UFC 265 before knocking out Louis Smolka last time out at UFC Vegas 44 in the first round.
Martinez is a boxer, with traditional stance helping his fast hands to fly, but he also has developed his kicking game excellently since joining the UFC and that could have a big say on this fight. That’s because while Morales has great power in his hands, he is very prone to kicks to leg as shown by Gutierrez and Martinez has all the skills to be able to replicate that.
There is always a chance that Morales simply smashes Martinez with his weighty right hand and puts his lights out, but more likely in my eyes is that Martinez stays at distance and lands enough damage to secure a relatively comfortable decision win.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Decision