The UFC heads to San Diego, California for a bantamweight banger in the main event between Marlon Vera and former champion Dominick Cruz.
A 13-fight card that has got plenty of fire match ups on it is headlined by the two contenders in the 135-pound division, where a win could put them firmly in title contention for early 2023.
Last week a UFC Vegas 59 we went 7/10 with one perfect pick, moving to 690/1069 (64.55%) with 292 perfect picks (42.32%). 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 picks.
Gabriel Benitez (22-11) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very interesting lightweight scrap up next. Benitez has lost four of his last five, with a KO win over Justin Jaynes sandwiched between losses to Sodiq Yusuff, Omar Morales, Billy Qurantillo and most recently David Onama. Ontiveros on the other hand lost a short notice debut to Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 12, before being KO’d to Steve Garcia most recently.
Benitez is a very tidy striker on the feet with excellent boxing combinations, and he’s also a decent grappler too on his back. Ontiveros is an absolutely huge man standing at 6ft 2 and previously fighting at middleweight, but his striking is decent and he’s the more powerful guy. This is a really weird scrap in reality, but Benitez is clearly the more skilled of the two.
The intangibles in Ontiveros’ game are in his favour for sure, with his size and unorthodox style causing problems for a lot people. But against someone who is a better striker and comfortable on the mat, he can dictate wherever this fight goes and his body work could pay dividends later in the fight to a diminished Ontiveros to claim a stoppage win.
PICK – Gabriel Benitez via Knockout, Round 3
Cynthia Calvillo (9-4-1) vs Nina Nunes (10-7) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight bout up next in the final women’s bout of the night. Calvillo started her flyweight career with a win over Jessica Eye (UFC Vegas 2), but has since lost three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian (UFC 255) via decision and then getting KO’d by Jessica Andrade (UFC 266) and a corner stoppage at the end of the second round against Andrea Lee most recently. Nunes on the other hand has lost her last two, with an armbar defeat to Mackenzie Dern most recently in her first bout since becoming a mother.
Calvillo tends to use her striking to set up her wrestling, using her top game to stay heavy on the opponent and land ground and pound strikes. Nunes is an all-rounder who is capable of striking and using her grappling to win fights, but she lacks power and isn’t a natural grappler either.
With that said, Calvillo has really struggled in this weight class. Nunes’ footwork and speed is something that has caused Calvillo problems in previous bouts but Nunes was outwrestled most recently and Calvillo is a strong wrestler. Despite that though, I expect a Nunes win. Her strengths outweigh her weaknesses in relation to her opponent and she should be able to bounce around the cage enough to nullify the wrestling and land some solid strikes to earn the win.
PICK – Nina Nunes via Decision
Martin Buday (10-1) vs Lukasz Brzeski (8-1-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
An absolute banger at heavyweight up next. Buday has won nine in a row including a TKO win over Chris Barnett back in April, while Brzeski has won six of his last seven although the most recent was overturned to a no contest on appeal.
Buday is a powerful striker with good combinations on the inside, as well as some good takedown defence to go with his own good wrestling skills. Brzeski on the other hand is someone who likes to push forward and use volume to close distance, before getting a clinch and trying to get top control to work his ground and pound. The big problem for Brzeski is that he’s going to be outweighed by about 30-pounds on fight night.
“Badys” is far bigger, and technically is the more superior striker. Add to that the issues that Brzeski has had with his cardio in the past and the huge size discrepancy I expect Buday will be able to do enough damage to earn a stoppage later in the fight.
PICK – Martin Buday via Knockout, Round 2
Angela Hill (13-12) vs Lupita Godinez (8-2) – (Catchweight/120lbs)
A fun catchweight scrap at 120-pounds in this one for a short-notice scrap. Hill has lost five of her last six, including getting out-grapple by Virna Jandiroba last time out to make it three in a row. Godinez on the other hand has won her last two in a row, earning decisions over Loma Lookboonmee and Ariane Carnelossi most recently at UFC 274.
Hill is a Muay-Thai fighter with great kicks and volume, who is best known for her relentless pressure and the amount she fights every year. Godinez is a grappler who has good wrestling and judo skills and tends to try and smother her opponents on the mat, something Hill has notoriously struggled with in the past.
That makes it a long night for Hill. Godinez will trade on the feet, knowing that Hill doesn’t really have the power to hurt her and will eventually change levels for the takedown then control the fight on the mat from that point. Expect no more than five takedowns over the course of the fight, but plenty of top control for “Loopy” for a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision