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 we move on to the rest of the prelims here.
Joanderson Brito (13-3-1) vs Lucas Alexander (7-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Another fun fight up next, this time in the featherweight division. Brito has won 11 of his last 12 fights, with his only loss coming in his UFC debut at UFC Vegas 46 against Bill Algeo on the first card of 2022. He since bounced back with a huge 41 second KO over Andre Fili last time out. Alexander has won his last five fights in a row and makes his UFC debut in this bout, stepping in less than one week’s notice.
Brito is a real all-round threat in the UFC featherweight division and has the qualities to potentially be a title contender in the future. The Brazilian is a legitimate jiu-jitsu black belt who is aggressive with his powerful striking because he’s not afraid of going to the ground. Alexander is a boxer with a great check-left hook, but he tends to keep his hands low and has been backed up against the cage several times so far in his young career.
If any of that happens here, then expect Brito to eat him alive. It’s a chance for “Tubarao” to make a statement, so expect him to land a heavy shot early doors and then follow him to the mat before strangling him for an easy night’s work.
PICK – Joanderson Brito via Submission, Round 1
Nick Maximov (8-1) vs Jacob Malkoun (6-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Nick Diaz Army stand up! Maximov returns to the UFC octagon after suffering the first defeat of his career last time out, when he got caught in an anaconda choke by Andre Petroski and tapped in just 76 seconds. Malkoun on the other hand saw a two-fight win streak snapped after wins over Abdul Razak Alhassan and AJ Dobson (UFC 271) when he got dominated by Brendan Allen at UFC 275 most recently.
This one won’t be the most entertaining fights of all time, because both fighters tend to wrestle and prioritise position over submission meaning whoever is on top tends to stay there. Malkoun is the better boxer of the two, but both have found success with takedowns and safe ground and pound and whoever the stronger wrestler is will go back to the well as often as they need to.
I lean towards Malkoun in this instance. He’s got more experience in the octagon under the bright lights and has fought a better level of competition, while Maximov has shown far more issues against credentialed wrestlers too. Expect Malkoun to land jabs and low kicks before shooting and staying on top for 15 minutes.
PICK – Jacob Malkoun via Decision
Raphael Assuncao (27-9) vs Victor Henry (22-5) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A very fun fight in the bantamweight division between two veterans at the opposite end of their UFC careers. Assuncao is on a four-fight skid, getting submitted by Marlon Moraes in 2019 and then getting dominated by Cory Sandhagen at UFC 241. A KO of the year contender saw him lose to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 250, before Ricky Simon stopped him at UFC Vegas 45 at the end of 2021 in his last fight. Henry on the other hand made his UFC debut on short notice at UFC 270 against Raoni Barcelos and earned a surprise decision win.
Assuncao’s best days saw him as a counter striking machine who was a constant threat, who is also more than capable of holding his own on the ground too. Henry is a volume heavy striker who steps forward constantly and has his own decent counter striking skills. A prime Assuncao probably beats Henry quite comfortably, but he’s 40 now and it has been a long time since he showed any hint of that former glory.
Henry had the ability to shut down Barcelos almost entirely in their bout, and Barcelos would likely dominate this version of Assuncao, so it’s hard to see Henry not doing the same. His pressure will be constant and he can mix in his wrestling takedowns too to earn another big win on the scorecards.
PICK – Victor Henry via Decision
Mana Martinez (9-3) vs Brandon Davis (14-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
Featured prelim bout comes from the bantamweight division once again. Martinez was on a three-fight win streak heading into his last fight, winning his UFC debut with a split decision against Guido Cannetti, but was beaten handily by Ronnie Lawrence last time out. Davis on the other hand was on a four-fight win streak himself in GCMMA before his UFC debut saw him KO’d by Batgerel Danaa in the first round almost exactly a year to the day of this bout.
Martinez has been hugely underwhelming in his two octagon appearances so far, but his one-punch power is absolutely not in question. He’s got a crazy hard left hand and his explosiveness means he can land it at any moment, but his wrestling is fairly poor. That’s where Davis’ window opens, because he’s never been the best technical fighter but his durability had been second to none prior to his last fight. That’s a big problem.
We don’t know how that knockout affected him, but if Martinez lands flush it’s highly unlikely he just eats it. If Davis can wrestle and keep Martinez defensive or on his back, then he has a good chance. But with that said, it seems unlikely that the left hook doesn’t land clean at least once, so I have to side with the power of “Manaboi” on this one.
PICK – Mana Martinez via Knockout, Round 2