The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 61 this weekend with a strawweight contender main event headlining.
Brazilian bombshell Mackenzie Dern looks to bounce back from defeat when she takes on Yan Xiaonan in a five-round bout at the top of the card, with some decent support acts too.
The likes of Randy Brown, Randy Costa, Sodiq Yusuff and Raoni Barcelos are all on the card too, so it should be a sneakily good card.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 60 we went 8/13 with three perfect picks to move to 731/1132 (64.58%) with 308 perfect picks (42.13%). You can see our full picks history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here, starting with the early prelims.
Guido Cannetti (9-7) vs Randy Costa (6-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An interesting 135-pound scrap to open the card with a top prospect involved. Cannetti earned a KO win last time out when he finished Kris Moutinho to snap a three-fight losing streak in the cage, while Costa has lost each of his last two against Adrian Yanez and Tony Kelley (UFC 269) via knockout.
Cannetti is a well-rounded striker with decent takedown defence in his pocket, while Costa on the other hand is a fantastic power puncher and boxer who has had trouble with his cardio in the past. After going toe-to-toe with Yanez and struggling to maintain the pace, he went the compete other way against Kelley and suffered. If he finds the balance here, he should win.
He’s more powerful, quicker, strong, more durable, bigger and has a big point to prove at just 28-years-old. If he loses this fight he probably gets cut, so with all those advantages and the added kick that he must win, expect him to claim a knockout win early on.
PICK – Randy Costa via Knockout, Round 1
Julija Stoliarenko (10-7-2) vs Chelsea Chandler (4-1) – (Catchweight/140lbs)
A fun catchweight bout between two women at different stages of their career. Stoliarenko snapped a three-fight losing streak last time out when she submitted Jessica-Rose Clarke inside 42 seconds with an armbar at UFC 276. Chandler makes her UFC debut on a four-fight win streak including one knockout and one submission.
Stoliarenko is a very good submission artist with a nasty armbar that has earned her all of her nine submission wins in her career, with pretty poor defensive striking and wrestling defence. Chandler on the other hand is an exciting prospect out of the Nick Diaz Army with genuine knockout power and some solid wrestling as well as her decent jiu-jitsu skills from Cesar Gracie.
There is no doubt that Stoliarenko will go for the armbar again, and it’s whether or not Chandler is able to avoid it. On the feet she is by far the more skilled fighter and has the power to get a finish, and with her better wrestling she should feel comfortable in top position too. If she can stay calm and composed, the win is there for her to claim and I think she’ll be able to do it.
PICK – Chelsea Chandler via Knockout, Round 2
Maxim Grishin (32-9-2) vs Philipe Lins (15-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Interesting fight up next in this one. Grishin claimed a win last time out with a decision over William Knight at UFC 271, while Lins returned from a two-year layoff to beat Marcin Prachnio back in April.
Both of these fighters are strikers with decent power, output and good footwork too but cardio has been a big problem for Lins in the past. Lins dropped down from heavyweight and it’s hard to see if this is his best division, but he has got a speed advantage in this match-up, although his shaky chin certainly leaves Grishin a big window to climb through and claim a win.
Lins is more of a killer when it comes to finding a finish, but Grishin is more technical and durable having only ever been finished by Magomed Ankalaev since 2016. Grishin’s leg kicks will be a good way of keeping the distance and I think he lands the more eye-catching shot in a rather dull affair to claim the win.
PICK – Maxim Grishin via Decision