UFC Vegas 62: Grasso vs Araujo – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 62, headlined by two women’s flyweight contenders looking to stake their claim as the next challenger to the throne.

Alexa Grasso takes on Viviane Araujo in a five-round main event on a sneaky good card, which includes the likes of Cub Swanson, Raphael Assuncao, Nick Maximov and Joanderson Brito all competing.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 61 we went 6/11 with two perfect picks on a rather poor night to move to 737/1143 (64.48%) with 310 perfect picks (42.06%). You can see our full picks history here.

We’ll look to improve on that here and start with our early prelims picks.

Mike Jackson (1-1) vs Pete Rodriguez (4-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An interesting bout to open the card. Jackson is 1-1 professionally, but that doesn’t include his dominant win over CM Punk that was overturned due to marijuana. His other win came over Dean Barry due to DQ after som eye gouges. Rodriguez on the other hand was on a four-fight win streak to earn a spot in the UFC, but he got flattened by Jack Della Maddalena at UFC 270 in his last bout back in January.

Jackson is your average guy who trains MMA, but somehow people claim that he’s a professional fighter when in reality he’s a photographer and member of the press. Rodriguez on the other hand is a terrifying prospect with insane punching power and good technique, but he must temper his aggression as he’s never gone past the ten minute mark and could gas out.

The reality of this situation though is that it’s a set up fight for Rodriguez to get going in the UFC. He’s a legit punching threat and will step forward to dominate, before landing a killer blow early in the first round to make a statement.
PICK – Pete Rodriguez via Knockout, Round 1

Tatsuro Taira (11-0) vs CJ Vergara (10-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A real scrap up next in the flyweight division. Taira is an undefeated fighter who earned a UFC debut win over Carlos Candelario back in May, while Vergara lost his UFC debut to Ode Osbourne at UFC 268 after a win on the Contender Series just to months earlier. He claimed a split decision win last time out, defeating Kleydson Rodrigues at UFC 274.

Taira is a grappling wizard who has earned five of his eight finishes in his career via submission, but he does have a tendency to forego those skills and instead stand and strike because of his evolving skillset. That gives Vergara a route to victory, because the 31 year old is a veteran striker who uses his aggression to catch the eyes of the judges. He has won six of his ten victories via knockout.

If Taira chooses to stick to what he’s best at and grapple then he should dominate this fight. He’s by far the better wrestler and submission artist, so using Vergara’s aggression against him will be helpful. If he chooses to stand and bang though, Vergara could potentially swing it in his favour. It’s unlikely he lets the fight get away from him though with his superior grappling, and eventually he takes the fight down to control and maybe even find the neck later on.
PICK – Tatsuro Taira via Decision

Piera Rodriguez (8-0) vs Sam Hughes (7-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

Fun women’s fight up next in the strawweight division here. Rodriguez earned her way into the UFC with a win on the Contender Series, before defeating Kay Hansen via decision at UFC 273 in her debut. Hughes lost her first three fights in the organisation but has since fought back to win two in a row, defeating Istela Nunes back in April before KO’ing Elise Reed a month later in her last outing.

“La Fiera” is a powerful striker who likes to stay at range and use her long jab and fast cross to put her opponents on the back foot, but she showed against Hansen that off her back she struggles. That’s perfect for Hughes, whose winning run has coincided with her abandoning strikes and reverting to her reliable wrestling base more often.

On the feet Rodriguez is capable of hurting Hughes, but “Sampage” hunted down Reed last time out and mauled her on the mat. The likelihood here is that she does similar, so expect her to grind her way to a dominant decision win if she nullifies the initial early blitz from the Venezuelan.
PICK – Sam Hughes via Decision


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