The UFC returns to the Apex arena for another UFC Vegas card, headlined this time by huge lightweight contenders as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev in the main event.
The number seven ranked 155-pounder takes on the number 11 ranked 155-pounder, but they’re backed up by a solid card this weekend including one UFC debutant and a list of experienced talent too.
Last time out at UFC 276 e went 8/11 (we don’t count no contests) with two perfect picks, moving us to 649/1009 (64.32%) with 279 perfect picks (42.99%). You can check out our total picks history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims and picking the rest of the prelims, we move on to the main card here.
Michael Johnson (21-17) vs Jamie Mullarkey (14-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A banger at lightweight. Johnson snapped a four-fight losing streak with a huge knockout win over Alan Patrick in his most recent bout, while Mullarkey saw a two-fight win streak snapped when he was KO’d by Jalin Turner at UFC 272.
Johnson is a power puncher who has got an excellent wrestling background, but he uses speed and low kicks to set up his big overhand right and boxing combinations. Mullarkey alternatively is a brawler with incredible power and good combinations, but he also has the ability to mix in takedowns in his fights too. They’re similar stylistically, but at very different places in their careers.
Mullarkey should be very confident coming into this fight. Johnson is still a super powerful fighter but he’s not as quick as he once was and nowhere near as durable as he was. That means when they get into the exchanges in close quarters, Mullarkey will land flush and likely put Johnson down. From there I expect him to get the finish and likely put an end to The Menace’s career.
PICK – Jamie Mullarkey via Knockout, Round 2
Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs Nina Nunes (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight bout up next in the final women’s bout of the night. Calvillo started her flyweight career with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 2), but has since lost three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255) via decision and then getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade (UFC 266) and a corner stoppage at the end of the second round against Andrea Lee most recently. Nunes on the other hand has lost her last two, with an armbar defeat to Mackenzie Dern most recently in her first bout since becoming a mother.
Calvillo tends to use her striking to set up her wrestling, using her top game to stay heavy on the opponent and land ground and pound strikes. Nunes is an all-rounder who is capable of striking and using her grappling to win fights, but she lacks power and isn’t a natural grappler either.
With that said, Calvillo has really struggled in this weight class. Nunes’ footwork and speed is something that has caused Calvillo problems in previous bouts but Nunes was outwrestled most recently and Calvillo is a strong wrestler. Despite that though, I expect a Nunes win. Her strengths outweigh her weaknesses in relation to her opponent and she should be able to bounce around the cage enough to nullify the wrestling and land some solid strikes to earn the win.
PICK – Nina Nunes via Decision
Jared Vanderaa (12-8) vs Chase Sherman (15-10) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights on losing streaks clash in this one. Vanderaa has lost his last three, getting KO’d by Alexandr Romanov, dropping a split decision to Andrei Arlovski (UFC 271) and getting submitted by Aleksei Oleinik (UFC 273). Sherman on the other hand has lost his last four, dropping decisions to Arlovski and Parker Porter before getting submitted by Jake Collier (UFC Vegas 46) and Romanov.
Vanderaa has a good mixture of grappling and striking, but it’s not at a high level. He tends to use volume more than power, while Sherman is your typical heavyweight who has a big right hand and does all he can to set it up. This won’t be an entertaining fight and I’d be surprised if it didn’t go the full 15 minutes.
Sherman will look to counter with his boxing and land his big right hand, but Vanderaa moves better and should be able to pick him apart from range while mixing in and threatening with takedowns too. Vanderaa should earn the win on the cards in a fight nobody will remember in the morning.
PICK – Jared Vanderaa via Decision
Douglas Silva de Andrade (28-4) vs Said Nurmagomedov (15-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An unbelievable fight in the bantamweight division up next. Andrade is on a two-fight win streak after KO’ing Gaetano Pirrello and then submitting Sergey Mozorov last time out. Nurmagomedov has also won his last two fights, KO’ing Mark Striegl (UFC Fight Island 6) before submitting Cody Stamann (UFC 270) most recently.
Andrade is an unbelievably powerful striker with brilliant technique and also excellent grappling skills to fall back on too, although he does prefer to get into a war and turn his opponent’s lights out. Nurmagomedov is a super well-rounded fighter too who uses his brilliant technique to mix up striking and grappling attacks, making him dangerous no matter what.
Nurmagomedov’s biggest advantage in this fight is his speed and his cardio. He is capable of going at full tilt for the full 15 minutes, while Andrade tends to fade away as the fight goes on. Of course Andrade could catch him with one of those heavy strikes and end the night early, but I expect Nurmagomedov to be able to use his length to land big and piece Andrade up to claim a massive victory.
PICK – Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Caio Borralho (11-1) vs Armen Petrosyan (7-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A banger between two prospects in the middleweight division next. Borralho is on an eight-fight win streak including a technical decision win in his UFC debut last time out, while Petrosyan has won his last three in a row including a split decision win over Gregory Rodrigues in his UFC debut last time out.
Both of these guys are excellent strikers, with Petrosyan having supreme technique and excellent power with six of his seven career wins coming via knockout. Borralho on the other hand is also a talented grappler, who will look to time the strikes of Petrosyan to get under him and use his jiu-jitsu skills to control the Armenian.
Neither of these guys really deserve to be in a co-main event at this point of their career, but it’s a really fun fight for sure. On the feet Petrosyan has the advantage with technique, speed and power, but eventually Borralho will need to use volume and pressure to close distance and try to get the fight to the ground. Once there Borralho should be able to control him and work his way to the neck to claim a big submission win.
PICK – Caio Borralho via Submission, Round 2
Rafael Dos Anjos (31-13) vs Rafael Fiziev (11-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Absolute banger of a main event finally takes place at the third time of asking. Dos Anjos has won his last two since returning to lightweight, beating Paul Felder (UFC Vegas 14) and Renato Moicano (UFC 272) via decision in dominant performances. Fiziev has won his last five, with a spinning wheel kick KO over Brad Riddell most recently at UFC Vegas 44.
Dos Anjos is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the entire division, with excellent wrestling and grappling to go with his solid boxing combinations and incredible cardio. Fiziev is as pure a striker as they come, but his takedown defence is pretty good and his ability to scramble to his feet when he does go down is good too. Fiziev is the favourite in this bout, but stylistically this could be a tough bout for him.
The Brazilian has a big advantage in the grappling areas, but he’s also capable of holding his own in the striking realm. He’s still sharp despite his age and he’s been fighting five-round fights for a lot of his career, while this is Fiziev’s first ever five-round bout. RDA will use trips, grappling and experience to slow down the striking ability of Fiziev and I think he’ll be able to control him on the mat to earn a win as the underdog.
PICK – Rafael Dos Anjos via Decision