The UFC returns to the Apex arena for another UFC Vegas card, headlined this time by huge lightweight contenders as Rafael Dos Anjos takes on Rafael Fiziev in the main event.
The number seven ranked 155-pounder takes on the number 11 ranked 155-pounder, but they’re backed up by a solid card this weekend including one UFC debutant and a list of experienced talent too.
Last time out at UFC 276 e went 8/11 (we don’t count no contests) with two perfect picks, moving us to 649/1009 (64.32%) with 279 perfect picks (42.99%). You can check out our total picks history here.
We’ll look to improve on that here and after starting with the early prelims, we move on to the prelims of the card here.
Cody Brundage (7-2) vs Tresean Gore (3-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A big middleweight banger up next. Brundage is 1-1 in his UFC career, dropping a decision to Nick Maximov in his debut at UFC 266 before claiming a first-round submission win against Dalcha Lungiambula last time out. Gore on the other hand was forced out of the TUF 29 finale with injury but had his debut against Bryan Battle eventually, dropping a decision for his first career loss.
Brundage is a solid wrestler with a super tight guillotine that he is never afraid to pull for if he feels it’s possible. He’s got okay striking too, but his bread and butter is definitely the grappling. Gore on the other hand is a powerful and aggressive striker with decent wrestling too, but it’s his power that is a real game-changer.
Gore has a habit of waiting for the perfect strike and thus his volume is low at times, but if he can pick it up in this fight then he can cause Brundage trouble. However Brundage will look to be pressuring Gore and threatening with takedowns constantly, and we saw in his debut that Gore is not at his best if he’s not the one coming forward. It’ll be close and tough, but Brundage has the skillset to make it ugly and after wearing down Gore he could secure a submission late on in the fight.
PICK – Cody Brundage via Submission, Round 3
Antonina Shevchenko (9-4) vs Cortney Casey (10-9) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
First women’s fight of the card has the champ’s sister involved. Shevchenko has lost three of her last four including each of her last two, getting submitted by Andrea Lee at UFC 262 before getting KO’d by Casey O’Neill most recently. Casey on the other hand lost two in a row before getting back in the win column with a decision win over Liana Jojua at UFC Vegas 42 most recently.
Shevchenko is a budget version of her sister, with a solid all-round game but one that isn’t impenetrable by any stretch of the imagination. Casey however is a fighter whose best attribute is her heart and desire. Her striking is okay and her takedown defence is shocking, but her volume and durability keep her in fights she has no right to be in. That trend continues here.
“La Pantera” is by far the better technical striker on the feet, and if she can’t get the finish and Casey keeps coming forward, then she has the ability to get the takedown and control the fight on the ground too. It would be a huge shock if this went any other way, so back Shevchenko for a dominant win.
PICK – Antonina Shevchenko via Decision
Aiemann Zahabi (8-2) vs Ricky Turcios (12-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
A really fun bantamweight fight closes out the prelims section of the card here. Zahabi struggled in his opening UFC bouts, going 1-2 before then earning a huge KO win over Drako Rodriguez most recently. Turcios was a fan favourite on TUF 29 and claimed the trophy with an entertaining win over Brady Hiestand via split decision in the finale.
Zahabi is a great grappler with solid submission skills, but his poor wrestling game makes it tough to get fights down and his striking isn’t the best despite his KO win last time out. Turcios is a true mixed martial artist, with a wild offense on the feet with his strikes as well as solid wrestling and some great grappling skills too. He’s not the best defensive wrestler but his scrambling is great and his bottomless gas tank means it’s unlikely he stays on the bottom for too long anyway.
With that said, Zahabi faces a tough night at the office. With just three minutes of cage time in the last three years, he needs to have used the time outside the cage to make grand improvements. If he hasn’t, Turcios should win this one comfortably. His volume will see him march Zahabi down, use his unorthodox techniques on the feet and his scrambling skills to keep the fight where he wants it and claim victory on the cards.
PICK – Ricky Turcios via Decision