The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a big women’s flyweight main event between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos.
The two ranked contenders will be looking to earn victory in the five-round headliner with an eye on a future title shot in 2023.
There are other big names on the card including Neil Magny, Daniel Rodriguez and Miranda Maverick.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 63 it wasn’t the best card, but we went 7/11 with two perfect picks to move to 760/1177 (64.57%) with 319 perfect picks (41.97%). You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, then moving on to the rest of the prelim section of the card, here are our main card picks.
Grant Dawson (18-1-1) vs Mark O Madsen (12-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
Very interesting lightweight scrap up first on the main card. Dawson is unbeaten in his last ten with a record of 9-0-1, earning a submission win over Jared Gordon last time out following a majority draw with Ricky Glenn in his prior bout. Madsen is an undefeated MMA fighter, having transitioned from Olympic wrestling in a dominant fashion with victories over Clay Guida and Vinc Pichel as his last two opponents.
Dawson is a super talented wrestler with world class jiu-jitsu skills and great power in his hands, making him a real threat for any opponent. Madsen is an Olympic wrestler as already mentioned, and he has shown his qualities in that field throughout his short MMA career to date. He’s got decent kickboxing to go with it, but the wrestling is his bread and butter. This is a very interesting match-up between two guys looking to earn a ranking next to their name.
Madsen has the edge in Olympic wrestling, but that’s very different to MMA wrestling and you could argue that Dawson has the edge there. Mix in his advantages in the striking and submission game, he could claim a win here but the short-notice nature of this bout makes it a hard call that could go either way.
PICK – Grant Dawson via Decision
Tagir Ulanbekov (13-2) vs Nate Maness (14-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Super fun flyweight scrap up next. Ulanbekov was on a five-fight win streak before he ran into Tim Elliott last time out, dropping a decision at UFC 272. Maness on the other hand was on a four fight win streak before he ran into Umar Nurmagomedov in his last outing back in June.
Ulanbekov is your typical Dagestani fighter, with incredible chain wrestling and sambo skills to go with a unique striking style that is deceptively effective. Maness is a well-rounded fighter too, showing great ability to take the fight to his opponent wherever it goes and a great durability and toughness too. But just like his bout against Nurmagomedov, this seems like a nasty match-up for him in his new weight division.
Hitting the weight won’t be easy, and if he does make it then expect Ulanbekov to use his pressure an kicks to the body before making him wrestle for 15 minutes in what could be a really long night for Maness.
PICK – Tagir Ulanbekov via Decision
Chase Sherman (16-10) vs Josh Parisian (15-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Heavyweights collide next. Sherman has lost four of his last five fights, but claimed a knockout win over Jared Vanderaa in his last outing back in July. Parisian alternatively is 2-2 in his last four, alternating wins and losses with defeats to Parker Porter and Don’Tale Mayes and victories over Roque Martinez and Alan Baudot most recently.
Both of these guys are your typical heavyweight scrappers, with a decent low kick and incredibly powerful overhands and hooks with little else to their game. Parisian has more wrestling in his arsenal too, but he does struggle to get fights to the ground. When he does though, he’s quite dominant in top position.
Sherman has got a decent takedown defence and is the better striker by a decent margin. Both fighters are susceptible to being stopped, but in this one it seems far more likely that Sherman lands big than Parisian does. It won’t be fun while it lasts, but hopefully it won’t last too long anyway.
PICK – Chase Sherman via Knockout, Round 1
Neil Magny (26-10) vs Daniel Rodriguez (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
Big time scrap between two ranked welterweights up next. Magny saw a two-fight winning streak after victories over Geoff Neal and Max Griffin snapped by the imperious Shavkat Rakhmonov last time out. Rodriguez made it four wins in a row with a controversial decision win over Li Jingliang at UFC 279 last time out, after the crazy situation that saw three bouts put together on 24 hours notice.
Magny is a solid wrestler. He uses his excellent length and footwork to get his opponents moving and then uses his great wrestling to gain control and tends to ride fights out in that manner. Rodriguez on the other hand is a terrific boxer with some of the best combinations in the division, and his defensive wrestling is pretty good too. His last showing against Jingliang was cause for concern though, because he looked way off it only two months ago.
Magny has the skillset to stifle Rodriguez no doubt, but he’s also struggled against the better opposition in the division. Rodriguez believes he’s up there and his striking should cause Magny big problems if he’s performing the way we know he can. It’s a tough call, but I think D-Rod’s jab and defensive wrestling should be enough to claim victory, but don’t be surprised if Magny outwrestles him for 15 minutes either.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision
Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2) vs Amanda Lemos (12-2-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Women’s strawweight main event up next between two specialist strikers. Rodriguez has won each of her last four in a row with the most recent being a split decision over Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272. Lemos alternatively has won six of her last seven, with a loss to Jessica Andrade the only flaw in the run. She bounced back from that with a submission win over Michelle Waterson most recently.
Rodriguez is a fantastic boxer with terrific combinations and a really nice, long jab. Lemos is far more of a power puncher than Rodriguez, but her technical skills are still there although not quite as refined as Rodriguez’s. Rodriguez’s abilities to work from distance could really work in her favour here, and that’s why she’s my pick.
She’s already proven that going the full 25 minutes is something she can do, and she keeps her gas tank in check and holds her power throughout. Lemos isn’t a grappler despite the submission last time out, and that’s Rodriguez’s biggest weakness. With the match-up as it is, I expect Rodriguez to strike her way to a decision and claim an impressive win and potentially seal the next title shot in the division.
PICK – Marina Rodriguez via Decision