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 after starting with the early prelims and then picking the rest of the undercard, we move on to the main card picks here.
Misha Cirkunov (15-8) vs Alonzo Menifield (12-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)
Big boys open up the main card. Cirkunov has lost four of his last five fights, being finished in three of them. He got KO’d by Johnny Walker at UFC 235, before submitting Jimmy Crute later in 2019. Since then though he got KO’d in 71 seconds by Ryan Spann at UFC Vegas 21, before dropping a decision to Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Vegas 38 and then being submitted by Wellington Turman 89 seconds into the second round. Menifield has won three of his last four, submitting Fabio Cherant at UFC 260 and dominating Ed Herman at UFC 265 before losing to William Knight at UFC Vegas 44. He returned to the win column in June, dominating the controversial Askar Mozharov and earning a first round KO.
Cirkunov made his name as a brilliant grappler with decent striking, but his decline in recent years has been hard to watch and he’s a shell of his former self now. Menifield on the other hand looks at his physical peak and as powerful as ever with his striking, while his defensive grappling has improved somewhat too.
Cirkunov on paper has the skills to claim a win here, but his performances in recent times mean it’s hard to be sure he can still go at this level. With Menifield’s power in his hands, it’s very possible that he lands hard early on Cirkunov and completely scrambles his brain, which then allows him to land an early finish as the faster and stronger fighter.
PICK – Alonzo Menifield via Knockout, Round 2
Jordan Wright (12-3) vs Dusko Todorovic (11-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Middleweight banger next and someone is going to sleep. Wright has never gone the distance in his career and has been finished in three of his last four getting KO’d by Joaquin Buckley (UFC 255), Bruno Silva (UFC 269) and most recently Marc-Andre Barriault. He did beat Jamie Pickett with a first-round KO at UFC 262. Todorovic’s last four have gone a similar way, going 1-3. He was KO’d by Punahele Soriano at UFC Fight Island 7 and then dropped a decision to Gregory Rodrigues at UFC Vegas 28. He beat Maki Pitolo at UFC Vegas 44 with a first-round KO, but was stopped by Chidi Njokuani most recently back in May.
Wright has an unorthodox karate style and charges forward with reckless abandon, knowing that if he lands flush he can put you out. But he also leaves himself wide open and isn’t the most durable. He’s kill or be killed and we love it. Todorovic is a well-rounded fighter alternatively, with good grappling and pacing but also with the power to end a fight too.
“Thunder” tends to start a little slowly and that tells me Wright could take advantage. If he steps forward and lands one of his nasty elbows or knees when Todorovic is coming in for a takedown it could end the night early. The longer it goes the more it leans in Todorovic’s favour, but I think Wright gets the upset win here with a big KO with his early blitz catching Todorovic cold.
PICK – Jordan Wright via Knockout, Round 1
Askar Askarov (14-1-1) vs Brandon Royval (14-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Fight of the night right here in the flyweight division. Askarov was unbeaten and set for a title match before his last fight, but he ran into Kai Kara France and couldn’t get the job done so comes into this off his first career loss. Royval lost back-to-back bouts to Brandon Moreno (UFC 255) and Alexandre Pantoja but has since bounced back with big wins over Rogerio Bontorin (UFC Vegas 46) and most recently submitted Matt Schnell at UFC 274.
Askarov is a wrestler, plain and simple. He looks to get hold of your legs, drive you to the mat and keep you there while landing some ground and pound to keep the referee happy. He’s also got some decent kickboxing in his pocket, but he’s primarily a grappler looking for control. Royval is an absolutely wild fighter who looks to do the opposite of whatever his opponent wants because he’s so well-rounded. He is a genuine submission threat on the ground but is also an excellent scrambler capable of keeping the fight standing if needs be.
Royval likely needs a finish to win here, because if it goes the distance it’s because Askarov has been able to hold him down and win rounds. If he’s able to scramble up and strike, he’s by far the bigger finishing threat in this fight. The blueprint to beat Askarov is there now, but Royval’s takedown defence isn’t as good as Kara France’s and if you keep getting taken down it doesn’t really matter how often you get up, so expect the Russian to earn another decision win.
PICK – Askar Askarov via Decision
Cub Swanson (28-12) vs Jonathan Martinez (16-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
An absolute banger of a co-main event here. Swanson has won three of his last four, bouncing back from being KO’d by Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 25 to KO Darren Elkins himself at UFC Vegas 45. Martinez on the other hand has won three in a row, earning decision wins over Zviad Lazishvili, Alejandro Perez and most recently Vince Morales.
There is no doubting that Swanson is all about controlled chaos. He’s very powerful on the feet and also a very big ground threat too, while his wrestling has always been good enough to cause problems to opponents. Martinez on the other hand is a great striker with some of the most powerful kicks in the UFC, while his boxing combinations are solid and his takedown defence good enough to keep the fight where he wants it the majority of the time.
Swanson dropping down a division at this stage of his career is a weird move, and I don’t think it pans out too well for him here. Martinez is very quick and powerful, but he also has the footwork to keep opponents at distance and control range. Swanson likes to swing heavy and if he misses that is sure to affect his cardio. With Martinez whipping that vicious left body kick in constantly too, he could match Chikadze with a body kick finish, but I think an entertaining decision win is more likely for “Dragon”.
PICK – Jonathan Martinez via Decision
Alexa Grasso (14-3) vs Viviane Araujo (11-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Main event in the flyweight division up next. Grasso has won each of her last three fights, claiming decision wins over Ji Yeon Kim and Maycee Barber (UFC 258), before submitting Joanne Wood back in March in the first round. Araujo has won three of her last four, defeating Montana De La Rosa and Roxanne Modafferi (UFC Fight Island 8) before losing to Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 262. She got a decision win over Andrea Lee last time out.
Grasso is a great striker with solid boxing combinations and nice low kicks. Araujo on the other hand is a specialist kickboxer and striker, with some great Muay Thai skills too but she struggles to mix in any sort of grappling with her game. She is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and has four submission wins on her record, but she very rarely is able to do anything on the ground. Grasso will be comfortable on the feet, knowing she is unlikely to need to defend anything.
Both fighters are far more likely to go the distance than get a finish, and with their skillsets matching up the way they do this is unlikely to be a super entertaining, back and forth bout. Someone is going to get blown away most likely. Araujo’s cardio is alarmingly bad, and Grasso’s never been in a five round fight before either but she’s never given out before the buzzer. Araujo’s power may be more eye catching early on, but the steady pressure and constant buzzing of Grasso should see her claim the decision win.
PICK – Alexa Grasso via Decision