An absolute banger of a main event headlines the UFC Vegas 53 card live from the UFC Apex centre in Las Vegas this weekend.
Two top ten bantamweights go head-to-head as Rob Font takes on Marlon Vera in a five-round clash, while Andrei Arlovski takes on Jake Collier in a heavyweight co-main event too.
At UFC Vegas 52 last weekend we had a hot and cold night with our picks as we went 7/11 with zero perfect picks (for the first time since UFC Vegas 40) to move us up to 608/940 (64.68%) with 255 perfect picks (41.94%).
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims here, we finish off our prelims picks now.
Gabe Green (10-3) vs Yohan Lainesse (8-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very interesting welterweight bout up next between two excellent prospects. Green lost his UFC debut to Daniel Rodriguez before returning nine months later and defeating Phil Rowe back at UFC 258 last time out. Lainesse is an undefeated prospect with a 97 second knockout on Dana White’s Contender Series earning him a contract.
Green is a solid all-round fighter with some decent striking on the feet and decent grappling defensively, but he is also regularly hittable and that’s not great news. Lainesse is a very explosive fighter who starts fights at 100mph. He has six knockout wins in his career, with five of them coming in the first round while his superior wrestling usually helps him as his cardio starts to fail him in the second round. In the second round though, that will allow Green to move forward and start applying his own pressure to pick Lainesse off with leg kicks and body attacks.
Defensively, Green is absolutely a hittable target. Lainesse has the power and the aggression to walk forward and cause a lot of trouble for Green in the first round, but beyond that he tends to slow and that gives Green a big opportunity. It’ll be very close, and very entertaining, but I think Lainesse will be able to use his wrestling in the later rounds to eek out a fun decision.
PICK – Yohan Lainesse via Decision
Alexandr Romanov (15-0) vs Chase Sherman (15-9) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
Big heavyweight bout up next, as Sherman returns to the organisation just days after initially being released by the company. Romanov is an undefeated monster with relentless grappling skills, beating Jared Vanderaa most recently via knockout back in October. Sherman is on a three-fight losing streak, getting submitted by Jake Collier at UFC Vegas 46 most recently in January. This fight was scheduled for last week, but illness to Sherman saw it moved.
Romanov is an exciting grappling machine, who uses amazing suplexes and takedowns to get the fight down before using a suffocating top game to blast his opponents with ground-and-pound as well as submissions. Sherman on the other hand is an old school heavyweight fighter, who stands quite flat footed and throws out jabs and low kicks one at a time before looping hooks as he looks to land a killer blow.
This is a shocking stylistic match up for Sherman and shy of landing a stunning one-punch KO there is only one direction that this fight is going in. Romanov will put him on his back and absolutely light him up until the referee pulls him off or the opportunity for a choke shows itself and he takes it. This won’t be a warm welcome back for Sherman and I’d be shocked if it gets out of the first round.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1
Daniel Lacerda (11-2) vs Francisco Figueiredo (12-4-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Flyweight never die in the featured prelim bout of the card in a very fun fight. Lacerda suffered a knockout defeat in his UFC debut back in October when Jeff Molina put him out in the second round, while Figueiredo is the brother of the champion and has gone 1-1 in the UFC so far. He claimed a debut win over Jerome Rivera at UFC Fight Island 8 before Malcolm Gordon toppled him via a unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 31.
Lacerda is a very exciting fighter, using his kickboxing skills to push forward and do as much damage as possible. He uses his kicks well usually and is a decent grappler too, with six submission wins in his career. Figueiredo is a very steady fighter, using kicks from range and punches in short combinations, but he doesn’t have great output and that could cost him here.
This is Lacerda’s fight to lose in reality. He’s more powerful, he’s faster, he’s a better grappler and he’s far more aggressive. His cardio has been an issue in the past but even if it does start to fail him, the lack of output from Figueiredo is a problem and I struggle to see how he can avoid trouble. So long as Lacerda doesn’t get carried away and does his job smartly, he should win this comfortably.
PICK – Daniel Lacerda via Knockout, Round 2