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, we move on to the rest of the prelim section of the card.
Mario Bautista (10-2) vs Benito Lopez (10-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very intriguing bantamweight fight up next. Bautista is on an impressive run in the UFC right now, winning four of his last five bouts including a submission win over Brian Kelleher most recently back in June. Lopez beat Vince Morales in his last UFC bout, but that was way back in 2019.
Bautista is a very well-rounded fighter with good wrestling and decent power in his strikes, and an excellent gas tank to go the full 15 minutes. Lopez was a very quick starter with incredible dynamism and athleticism but a lack of cardio. Obviously though, we haven’t seen him for three years and it’s very possible those things have all improved since then.
We don’t know for sure though and nobody does, so based off what we know this seems like a relatively comfortable win for Bautista. Lopez’s wins in the past were all close and/or controversial and Bautista has the ability to grind on him and take over the longer the fight goes on, so that’s what I expect he does.
PICK – Mario Bautista via Decision
Miranda Maverick (12-4) vs Shanna Young (8-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A very intriguing women’s flyweight bout up next. Maverick suffered tough back-to-back defeats against Maycee Barber and then Erin Blanchfield (UFC 269) before finally getting back in the win column against Sabina Mazo via submission most recently. Young on the other hand lost to Macy Chiasson and then go KO’d by Stephanie Egger (UFC Vegas 13) before getting a win last time out against Gina Mazany back in April.
Maverick is a really well-rounded fighter who excels in the grappling, with some solid wrestling and good striking too. Young is a striker who struggles for power, and has been taken down by every opponent she’s faced in the UFC who has attempted to take her down. This seems like a big setup for Maverick to garner some more momentum, because I can’t see how Young wins this.
Maverick is bigger, stronger, more powerful and has the perfect skillset to become a real contender in this division. She’ll likely toy with Young on the feet to test herself before shooting for a takedown early and dominating, before eventually taking the back and sinking in a tight choke for the win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Submission, Round 2
Darrick Minner (26-13) vs Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (38-10) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Featured prelim bout comes from the featherweight division this week. Minner is on a two-fight losing streak, getting KO’d by Darren Elkins before dropping a decision to Ryan Hall last time out. Nuerdanbieke alternatively is on a two-fight winning streak, beating Sean Soriano and TJ Brown via decision most recently.
Minner is an incredible grappler with 22 wins via tap-out throughout his career, while his striking is much improved in recent years too. “Wolverine” is a grinder, with great power on the feet but very little grappling game either defensively or offensively and that is a big problem for him in this match up.
Considering the expertise of Minner lean into where Nuerdanbieke’s weaknesses are, he should win this. There’s every chance he empties his tank chasing a finish and Nuerdanbieke is able to take over, but I don’t think his defence is good enough to hold out if that is the case so I expect Minner to get back to winning ways here.
PICK – Darrick Minner via Submission, Round 2