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UFC Vegas 23 Fallout: Vettori dominates, calls out Adesanya

UFC Vegas 23 went pretty much to plan for ‘The Italian Dream’ as Marvin Vettori wrestled his way to a dominant decision win over Kevin Holland in the middleweight main event.

Vettori was due to fight Darren Till as he looked to break into the top five, but when the Scouse fighter broke his collarbone less than two weeks out in training it was ‘Trailblazer’ who stepped in on short notice to keep the bout alive.

Holland started the fight well, with fast hands and an aggressive striking approach, but once Vettori was able to get hold of him he used his physicality and technique to drag the fight to the ground and dominate.

It was an approach we saw just three weeks prior when Holland was last in the cage against Brunson, and the result was exactly the same as he was dominated for five rounds and lost every one of them.

Despite that though, it was an improved performance. Holland’s striking was fast and accurate and on the ground he showed far more ambition to get back to his feet than he did in the Brunson fight. Vettori just happened to be too good and there wasn’t enough time between the fights for him to work on his weaknesses between bouts.

He’ll come back in the future and be stronger off the back of these two defeats, but for Vettori all he sees in his future is a world title shot.

The victory made it five wins in a row for the 27-year-old and means he hasn’t tasted defeat since the split decision loss to current champion Israel Adesanya back in 2016. It’s a fight that most people agree he lost, but he believes he won and says that meeting with the champ has convinced him that he is the better fighter.

After the result, Vettori made it clear that he feels he deserves the next title shot and called Adesanya out for a bout in October.

“I want Adesanya next. October, I want to fight him. I think I deserve it. I have the longest win streak right now. I put on winning performances. Dominant performances. I want this title.โ€

His claims are certainly true but the state of the division is up in the air. Adesanya has beaten the top contenders already, including Vettori, and opted to go up to light heavyweight rather than fight Robert Whittaker once more recently.

Defeat to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 means Adesanya has to return to 185lbs to defend his throne and the options are limited. He had told Till that a win over Vettori would earn him a title shot, despite him currently being 1-1 in the middleweight division and losing his last fight.

But with Till not fighting and Vettori winning anyway, there is a very real claim that a rematch could be on the cards. With Whittaker fighting Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Vegas 24 next weekend, a third win in a row for ‘The Reaper’ would likely get him the title shot since he’s the number one contender in the rankings.

If that were to happen it could see Vettori paired up with Paulo Costa, who was originally supposed to be fighting Whittaker but withdrew after complications with COVID-19.

The champ will ultimately get the final say in who his opponent is going to be, but Vettori is adamant he deserves the chance to not only avenge his 2016 defeat but also become the middleweight champion of the world.

UFC Vegas 23: Vettori vs Holland – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Impa Kasanganay def Sasha Palatnikov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (0:26)

Great start to the fight for Kasanganay as he comes forward to close the distance early and lands a nice right hand. Palatnikov throws a kick which Kasanganay catches and then he lands another big right hand before getting a body lock and taking Palatnikov down to the ground. Kasanganay using heavy top pressure but not landing much damage and Palatnikov is able to get back to his feet. Kasanganay goes for another takedown but Palatnikov defends it well and they clinch against the cage now. Palatnikov starts teeing off against the cage but Kasanganay does well to avoid any strikes and clinch up again. Nice left hand lands from Palatnikov at the end of the round but should be 10-9 Kasanganay.

Kasanganay comes out quickly in the second round and lands a big right hand that drops Palatnikov! He forces the takedown with pure power and scrambles to take his neck. He locks in a rear-naked choke and squeezes, forcing Palatnikov to tap out! Big win for Kasanganay!

Da-Un Jung def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Reserved start from both fighters as Knight comes out throwing low calf kicks to prevent Jung from letting his jab fly. Knight goes in for a takedown and lifts Jung but he defends it well, switches the position and is able to get a throw perfectly to end up in top position. Knight is landing some nice right hands from the bottom as he holds Jung in place, but Jung fires back with a couple of right hands of his own to shut that down. Jung passes into half guard and tries to move into side control but Knight sweeps him really well and explodes back onto his feet. Knight clinches up once again and Jung is able to get the same trip once more to get back in top position. Some decent ground and pound from Jung as Knight looks quite tired now but he’s able to explode to his feet again as the round ends. 10-9 Jung.

Knight comes out throwing lots of low kicks once again, but Jung is backing him up to the cage and looking to hunt him down. Both guys land a nice right hand each before Knight shoots in for a takedown. Jung defends it, clinches up and then lands the same outside trip once again to take top position and starts landing ground and pound against the cage. Knight tries to get to his feet but Jung stays heavy and drags him down to the mat once more, then takes his back and sinks in both hooks. Jung starts raining down punches and Knight is trying to explode out again rather than use technique. Knight is just surviving right now and Jung continues to smash him up from his back on top. Lots of damage but Knight survives the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 20-17 Jung.

Jung comes forward early in the final round and Knight has abandoned the leg kicks and is throwing bombs. Jung lands a nice uppercut, then switches levels and gets a big takedown! Knight explodes to his feet again but Jung is able to drag and throw Knight back to the mat with relative ease. Jung floats through the positions and ends up in side control, landing knees to the body and just completely dominating all the exchanges in this fight. Jung stays busy from top position on the ground landing damage for the rest of the fight for a very comfortable win. 30-26 Jung.

Luis Saldana def Jordan Griffin via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Really good start to the fight for Saldana as he comes out with his hands low and is throwing quick kicks to the legs and body. Saldana throws a night three punch combo that clips Griffin, who shoots in for a takedown and gets it but Saldana gets back up very quickly. More leg kicks from Saldana take Griffin off his feet but he keeps coming forward and lands two big punches as he rushes forward and goes in for a takedown again. Saldana defends well against the cage and they break, but Griffin stays in his face and keeps throwing big punches. He keeps pouring punches and then eventually gets the takedown, but Saldana is able to roll through and escape before Griffin gets a headlock and looks for some sort of bulldog choke. Saldana is able to escape and Griffin charges once again and just misses with a big head-kick before the round ends. Very close, but I go 10-9 Griffin.

Slower start to the round from both guys as Saldana comes out again looking for low kicks and front kicks to the body, but Griffin pressures him again. Saldana slips as he throws a kick and Griffin jumps on top. Saldana looks for an armbar and then switches to a heel hook to create space which gets both guys back up. Saldana jumps on the neck of Griffin looking for a guillotine, but Griffin is calm and escapes before getting the fight back down. He starts looking for a bulldog choke again but Saldana escapes it only for Griffin to continue with his pressure and get back into a dominant position. Griffin starts floating and then takes the back and sinks in a rear naked choke deep but he runs out of time so we’re going to the final round. 20-18 Griffin.

Saldana comes out in the final round and knows he needs a finish. He’s trying to stay out of wrestling range, using punches rather than kicks to avoid being taken down but he looks exhausted. Griffin isn’t exactly fresh himself but he’s coming forward still but doing enough to stay out of range. Saldana looks to kick off the cage with a superman punch but just misses with that and the follow up hook, before Griffin shoots in for a tired takedown against the cage. Saldana defends it well and switches the position around but Griffin gets his arm under the chin and looks for a rear-naked choke! Saldana stays calm and escapes and ends up on top with 90 seconds to go. Saldana is able to take the back of Griffin for a split second, but Griffin then switches around and finishes the round on top looking for a submission. Probably a Saldana round but should be a win for Griffin. 29-28.

Jack Shore def Hunter Azure via Split Decision (30-27 x2, 28-29)

Composed start to the bout from both men as they feel each other out with jabs and low kicks before they both clinch up against the cage. Shore looking like the stronger fighter as they battle for position and he gets a body lock in nicely and picks Azure up and sweeps the legs for a takedown. Azure gets back up quickly but Shore keeps the hands locked and continues to drag Azure around. Shore tries to take the back but Azure drops to his knees and counters by turning into Shore’s guard. Shore kicks off the hips to get back to his feet quickly before Azure can do any damage and they clinch against the cage again before separating. Both men throw a simultaneous kick that makes for a big thud before a nice high kick lands from Shore. Azure looks for a takedown against the cage but Shore defends and the round ends. 10-9 Shore.

Fast start from Azure in the second round as he goes straight in for a clinch against the cage and lands some nice knees to the body and thighs. Shore is patient and eventually gets back up and catches a kick from Azure and lands a right hand that drops Azure. Azure gets back up quickly though and Shore looks for a clinch against the takedown before going for a takedown of his own. He shoots in and Azure looks for a guillotine which forces Shore to abandon and go to his back to escape, but Azure ends up on top in half guard. Shore uses his long legs and hips really well to get back up to the feet and the clinch continues against the cage once again. Accidental low blow from Azure causes a short pause in the action but they clinch again when they resume. Azure lands a nice right hand when they separate and then lands a good right hook but Shore starts landing some strikes of his own too. Azure lands a big right hand clean but Shore responds with an uppercut as the round ends. Very close round, probably in Azure’s favour. 19-19.

Azure goes straight in for a takedown at the start of the third but Shore stuffs it well and starts working off his jab from the outside. Azure changes levels to avoid a right hand and goes for a single leg, but Shore defends it brilliantly once again against the cage. Stiff low kick from Shore and then a nice left hook lands that stings Azure, who shoots for a takedown quickly after but is denied. Shore stuffs another attempt and then takes Azure down himself, landing some short punches against the cage and leaning all his weight on Azure to drag him back down. He looks to take Azure’s back and then moves into mount, switching between both positions. Azure is able to get back to his feet but Shore keeps hold of him and is able to take him down once again as we enter the final 90 seconds. Azure scrambles and rolls through to escape Shore’s grip and ends up on top and looks to land ground and pound but Shore defends brilliantly and then escapes a rear naked choke attempt to see out the round. Should be a win for Shore, 29-28.

PRELIMS

Jarjis Danho def Yorgan De Castro via Knockout, Round 1 (3:02)

Slow start to the fight for both guys as they throw some leg kicks and circle each other. Danho throwing more and more leg kicks but not much action in the first two minutes. Danho looks to clinch up but De Castro throws him off and lands a big left hand that wobbles Danho! He comes forward with more punches but Danho avoids and goes for a takedown. The two separate and De Castro continues to come forward, then both men throw big right hands and Danho lands on the side of the head and puts De Castro’s lights out!! He lands one more on the ground but it’s all over! What a knockout!

John Makdessi def Ignacio Bahamondes via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

Bahamondes using his length well very early on, with long jabs and front kicks. Bahamondes doing really well to mix up his attacks, landing leg kicks, jabs, straight rights, body shots and kicks while changing up his stance constantly. Makdessi just can’t get a read right now as Bahamondes keeps moving. Makdessi lands a big right hand that makes Bahamondes do the chicken dance and he pushes on for the finish, but Bahamondes clinches up to try and recover. Bahamondes now is trying to stay away and land from range but Makdessi continues to pour on the pressure. Bahamondes goes for a takedown against the cage but Makdessi defends it well. Bahamondes lands a couple of elbows on the break and they exchange strikes again as the round ends. That’s a really close round could go either way. I go Makdessi for the damage.

Bahamondes seems to have recovered now as he comes out popping his jab once again and circling on the outside. Makdessi taking the centre and looking to catch Bahamondes on his way in, but it’s not working too well for him just yet. Three jabs in a row land for Makdessi who returns with a big left hand of his own. Bahamondes lands a big straight left then misses with a few kicks before shooting in for a takedown, but Makdessi defends it with ease. Bahamondes starts throwing some knees against the cage before they separate and go back to trading straight punches. Both guys trading jabs and straights and landing, then Bahamondes lands a huge spinning heel kick to the head but Makdessi eats it. Makdessi responds with two body shots and a short left hook to the chin then lands a clean one two. Another super close round, I’ve got it even.

Third round following the pattern of the previous two, with Bahamondes landing from range but Makdessi standing firm in the middle and popping him back too. Bahamondes lands some nice jabs but Makdessi keeps landing the straight right and left jab in response. Bahamondes looks for a big knee that just misses and then he shoots in for a takedown to mix it up. Makdessi stuffs it and lands a nice right hand, before Bahamondes starts pouring on pressure and lands a big one-two. Bahamondes lands another nice left hand that sends Makdessi backwards but they continue to stand in a phonebox and trade for the remainder of the round in what was a brilliant fight. Another very close round, I don’t know how to call it. 29-28 either way, I lean to Bahamondes.

Mateusz Gamrot def Scott Holtzman via Knockout, Round 2 (1:22)

Good start to the round from both guys, with Gamrot looking to land from range to set up his takedowns while Holtzman is looking to counter with heavy punches. Gamrot steps in for a takedown and grabs the leg and tries to go for a heel hook but Holtzman defends it well. Gamrot lands a nice left but Holtzman responds with a huge left hand on his way in! Gamrot responds with a couple of left hands again and then goes for single leg again and transitions to a double leg to get the takedown against the cage. Gamrot allows him back up and throws a huge elbow to the ear that wobbles Holtzman towards the end of the round. 10-9 Gamrot.

Holtzman comes out very aggressive and starts walking Gamrot down, but he’s loading up his attacks with big uppercuts and overhands. Gamrot moving side to side to stay out of the way and he throws a big one two down the middle which folds Holtzman! He jumps on and lands a couple more shots before the referee gets in and waves it off. Huge win for Gamrot!

Joe Solecki def Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Very positive start from Solecki as he looks to be first in the striking exchanges between the two, but Miller just misses with his big left hand. Nice calf kick lands from Miller but Solecki is coming forward and landing nice short flurries of punches. Big right hand lands and forces Miller to think twice but then the veteran lands a nice body kick. Solecki shoots in for a takedown but Miller stuffs it and ends up on top, so Solecki goes into full guard and starts defending. Miller is landing some nice short elbows from the top position and stacking Solecki up to prevent him from being able to get back to his feet easily. Miller misses with an elbow as the rounds ends, probably a Miller round because of the top control. 10-9 Miller.

Solecki comes out aggressive in the second round and lands a nice right hand before shooting in for the takedown. Miller looks to defend it but Solecki takes the legs from under him and moves into full guard. Now it’s Solecki looking to stack Miller against the cage and throw some ground and pound, but Miller is staying busy from his back too. A few body shots from Solecki as he looks to wear Miller down heading into the final 90 seconds of the round. Not much action in this round but Solecki controlled it and takes the round. 19-19 going into the final round.

Both men see the route to victory as being on top and so immediately they both move into a clinch position. Solecki the physically stronger guy right now and gets a body lock, which Miller tries to roll through from but Solecki holds on and ends up on top once again. Solecki throwing short shots on the ground from half guard but Miller is trying to get back to his feet now rather than accepting the position. Solecki doing really well to control the position now and just doing enough damage to stop the fight from being stood back up. Solecki maintains the position for the rest of the round to secure what should be a straight forward decision win.

MAIN CARD

Daniel Rodriguez def Mike Perry via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Tense start to this one with both men respecting the power of their opponent early on. Perry throws a few le kicks and Rodriguez is throwing his jab well and has already busted up the nose. Rodriguez throws a big one-two down the middle that staggers Perry but he continues to come forward to look for a finish. Rodriguez is landing big one-twos at will and Perry is getting pieced up, so he changes levels and powers through with a takedown. He lifts Rodriguez up and slams him down but Rodriguez holding on for a guillotine which Perry does well to defend against and avoid. Perry stays in top position and works for some ground and pound to see the round out. Perry still in it, but that’s a Rodriguez round for me. 10-9.

Second round and Rodriguez is doing really well on the feet, with his jab landing at will and the left hand following up behind it cleanly too. Perry is throwing some nice leg kicks and is just struggling to be first with the punches because of the range difference. Perry gets a body lock and looks for a takedown which he gets, then tries to transition onto Rodriguez’s back, but Rodriguez does well to stay strong and get back up pretty quickly. Rodriguez continues to land the jab and left straight at will, but Perry is still standing in front of him and throwing shots of his own. Big right hook, left hand from Rodriguez lands clean. Perry comes forward looking for a takedown with 20 seconds to go but Rodriguez defends it well to claim the round again. 20-18 Rodriguez.

Final round and the pattern continues, as Rodriguez lines up the jab and takes the centre of the cage. Perry is struggling to land anything of note because he keeps getting pummelled every time he tries to go first. Perry shoots for a takedown but Rodriguez denies it again and shrugs him off in the clinch. Rodriguez throws three huge left hands in an exchange but Perry is still taking the punishment and trying to come forward. Perry’s face is so busted up right now and at this point it’s just about not getting finished as Rodriguez shoots in for a takedown but Perry stuffs it to see the round out with a big exchange. 30-27 Rodriguez, excellent performance.

Mackenzie Dern def Nina Nunes via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (4:48)

Fast start to the fight from Dern as she charges forward throwing big punches with a couple landing but Nunes responds with a couple of her own. Dern charges forward again and lands a nice left hand, but Nunes throws a good right hand to counter it too. Dern shoots in for a takedown against the cage and lifts the leg high then sweeps the standing leg and dumps her down. She immediately works to advance the position and threatens with a leg attack to pass into half guard. From half guard she quickly moves into mount and starts raining down elbows from the top. She transitions into an armbar position and despite Nunes’ best attempts to defend it, Dern extends the arm and gets the tap out.

Julian Marquez def Sam Alvey via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (2:07)

Pretty tame opening to the round as Marquez takes the centre early and looks to figure out his range by flicking out his lead hand. Neither men throw anything really for the first two minutes barring a couple of missed hooks. Alvey is loading up big with his left hand and it’s allowing Marquez to avoid it well. Marquez lands a big right hook clean and Alvey is hurt. Marquez goes in again and lands two more that drops Alvey but he falls into Marquez and quickly recovers. Two more big right hands land from Marquez but Alvey just about stays standing and now throws a huge left of his own. Alvey is all the way back against the cage and just trying to hit Marquez on his way in but he’s missing wildly. 10-9 Marquez at the end of the round.

More of the same in the second round as Marquez backs Alvey up and lands a nice body shot, but Alvey explodes forward and lands a nice right hand of his own. Marquez throws an overhand right that lands clean on Alvey’s chin but he’s still there throwing his own heat. Marquez lands a huge right hand that drops Alvey and he goes all in for the finish with big strikes. Alvey looks to defend with a takedown but he’s eating big shots. Marquez abandons the strikes and goes for a rear-naked choke and puts Alvey to sleep for the win. Great performance.

Arnold Allen def Sodiq Yusuff via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Good start for Allen as Yusuff comes forward and throws a body kick which he catches and immediately gets a takedown. Yusuff does well to defend well against the cage and hooks up a guillotine choke that forces Allen to roll to his back and abandon the takedown attempt. Yusuff comes forward and is chopping away at the leg of Allen, but both men are throwing heat. Allen lands a big left hand but Yusuff keeps coming and clinches up. Allen lands a big left hand that drops Yusuff and he moves in to take top position but Yusuff does well to recover and avoid further damage. Allen goes for a takedown against the cage but it’s defended well and the round comes to an end with a nice exchange in the centre. 10-9 Allen.

Yusuff continues to push the pace and pressuring forward, but Allen is threatening with the big left hand once again. Yusuff lands some nice chopping leg kicks again and Yusuff is starting to land with his jab. He’s starting to touch Allen more and more, then Allen throws a huge head-kick that rocks him! Allen slips as it lands but he jumps back up and goes to land some ground and pound, but Yusuff recovers well once again and they get back to competing in the middle. Clinch against the cage and Allen is physically stronger and able to dictate the position more, and he sees out the round in control. 20-18 Allen.

Good start from Allen as he looks to back Yusuff up to the cage with his physicality and shoot for takedowns, but Yusuff refusing to accept it and defending really well. He switches the position on the cage and lands some nice knees to the body of Allen before they separate and go back into the centre. Lots of short exchanges and clinch work against the cage for the rest of the round as Yusuff arguably takes the round but it won’t be enough for a win. 29-28 Allen for me, very competitive fight.

Marvin Vettori def Kevin Holland via Unanimous Decision (50-44 x3)

Holland makes a fast start throwing some leg kicks and big right hands but early on he lands a low blow to cause a pause in the action. Vettori comes in tight for the clinch after the action resumes, but Holland is striking from range and lands a heavy right hand. Vettori finally gets a body lock and clinch against the cage to start wearing on Holland, but he defends the attempted trip well which forces Vettori to change to a double leg. Holland defends it well again and Vettori separates, but he’s right in Holland’s face and applying lots of pressure. Vettori is able to drag Holland down to the ground, but Holland starts throwing up-kicks to try and create space to get up to his feet. Vettori is able to get full guard and starts applying lots of pressure and looking to land ground and pound. Holland is able to roll through and gets back to the feet, but then eats a big left hand. Good first round from both, very close to score. 10-9 Vettori for me but could go either way.

Holland comes out fast once again and lands some sharp punches and straight kicks but Vettori is trying to close the distance earlier this time. Holland lands a big one-two but Vettori eats it, slips a shot and then shoots in for another takedown against the cage. He gets him down quickly this time and avoids the guillotine attempt to go into full guard and land big ground and pound strikes. Vettori starts stacking Holland against the cage and raining down strikes, completely dominant. Holland tries to kick out of it but Vettori controls the position well and gets right back to work with the ground and pound from the top position. More strikes from Vettori opens up a cut on Holland’s face and he tries to scramble out but Vettori just controls his position even once Holland gets back to his feet to end the round. 20-17.

Holland’s left eye is closing up but he’s battling on and Vettori comes out like a freight train and looks to go straight for the takedown again. He gets it quickly and then moves into mount almost immediately. He looks to set up an arm triangle submission and locks it in tight, but Holland doesn’t tap and is able to escape from the bottom to get back up to his feet. Vettori goes straight back for the takedown again but Holland does well to avoid it. Holland lands a couple of nice strikes standing but then once again Vettori changes levels, clinches against the cage and controls the position. Holland lands a couple of huge strikes that seem to wobble Vettori a little but the buzzer goes. 30-26 Vettori.

Big early left hand lands at the start of the fourth for Vettori, but Holland responds with a couple of big hooks of his own. Vettori shoots in for a takedown and gets it down pretty easily once again and goes straight into full guard to land some ground and pound. Vettori looks to stack Holland who rolls through to avoid it and gets back to full guard. Holland is able to get back to the feet after a short scramble but very quickly Vettori is able to drag him back down and goes straight into mount. He looks for the arm triangle submission again, but Holland stays calm and takes it back to half guard. Vettori lands some heavy strikes and then goes back into full guard before passing into half guard again. Vettori tries to stack him and Holland starts throwing up-kicks again but Vettori is just too strong and sees out the round on top. 40-35 Vettori.

Holland still looks fresh and lands a bomb of a right hand that gets Vettori’s attention, so the Italian changes levels and gets the takedown immediately and goes into full guard. Holland kicks off the cage and finds a way to get back to the feet but once again Vettori just locks his hands, finds an angle and drags him back down to the mat. Vettori steps over into half guard and starts throwing some more ground and pound with Holland fighting off his back. Vettori steps over into mount once again looking to set up the arm triangle choke, but Holland explodes back up to his feet. Vettori holds the body lock once again though and drags the fight to the mat again with 40 seconds to go and he sees the round out in control. 50-44 Vettori, pure domination.

UFC Vegas 23: Vettori vs Holland – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex after a short break for a short-notice middleweight main event bout that looks to clear up the top of the division.

Marvin Vettori was scheduled to fight Darren Till, but a training injury for the Brit means Kevin Holland has stepped in just three weeks after his last fight to take another chance at the main event. A win for Vettori will go a long way to him proving he deserves a title shot and rematch against Israel Adesanya, but Holland has his own point to prove after his defeat to Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Elsewhere on the card, Nina Nunes (formerly known as Ansaroff) makes her return to the octagon after giving birth last year when she takes on another new mother in Mackenzie Dern in a fight high up on the strawweight rankings too.

Last time out at UFC 260, we went 8/10 on the night to improve our record to 270/426 (63.38%) with 121 perfect picks (44.81%).

With a belting 14 fights on the card, we’ve split it up into three sections and having already predicted the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we now move onto the main card.


Mike Perry (14-7) vs Daniel Rodriguez (13-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The ever colourful Mike Perry makes his return to the octagon after losing three of his last four, when he takes on Daniel ‘D-Rod’ Rodriguez in the welterweight division.

Perry bounced back from a two-fight losing streak with a dominant win over Mickey Gall at UFC Vegas 4 before getting outstruck by Tim Means at UFC 255, while Rodriguez had won nine in a row including a stunning knockout over Dwight Grant at UFC Vegas 7 before dropping a decision to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 also.

‘Platinum’ is a striker with powerful punches and a pretty decent wrestling game, but despite being naturally talented when it comes to fighting he just doesn’t care. He’s had issues with alcohol and dieting in the past and now he comes up against a man who hits harder and is taking this game very seriously.

Rodriguez has crazily heavy hands but Perry has an iron chin and both guys have got some deficiencies in their cardio but it’s hard to pick Perry when you don’t know which version will turn up. He hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2017 and I think Rodriguez does enough to get a decision win.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision

Nina Nunes (10-6) vs Mackenzie Dern (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A battle of the mothers in the strawweight division as Nina Nunes (formerly Ansaroff) returns from child birth to take on Mackenzie Dern.

Nunes has won four in a row in the build up to her last fight before getting outworked by Tatiana Suarez back in June 2019, while Dern has won three in a row by submitting Hannah Cifers and then Randa Markos at UFC Vegas 11 before beating Virna Jandiroba in a decision at UFC 256.

Nunes has tremendous wrestling and cardio and throws some really good combinations with her hands, while Dern is a jiu-jitsu master who has started working on her kickboxing game. The striking still needs work and she will need to get the fight to the ground to stand a chance of winning and I back Nunes to be able to keep the fight standing for the longest period because Dern’s takedown attempts are awful. If the fight goes down it’s Dern’s to lose.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

Sam Alvey (33-14-1) vs Julian Marquez (8-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

‘Smilin’ Sam Alvey returns to the middleweight division to take on the man who gave Miley Cyrus a shoutout last time out Julian Marquez. Alvey is winless in his last five, losing four in a row before a draw with Da Un Jung at UFC 254, while Marquez returned after nearly three years out with a memorable submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 earlier this year.

Alvey has good takedown defence and a good right hook counter, but other than that he tends to just wait for a chance to land it and is hilariously bad to watch in the cage. Marquez on the other hand loves absolute chaos and throws big punches in bunch with wild aggression, who has pretty decent submissions too.

The likelihood is that Alvey will land his big right hand at some point, but with 20lbs of less power behind it against a young fighter with a sturdy chin, I don’t think it gets the job done. That means Marquez can go crazy as he loves to and I think he’s able to get a stoppage win.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 1

Arnold Allen (16-1) vs Sodiq Yusuff (11-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

An absolute banger of a featherweight bout between England’s Arnold Allen and another hot prospect in Sodiq Yusuff. Allen has won nine in a row including wins over Gilbertz Melendez and Nick Lentz most recently while Yusuff is on a six-fight win streak himself. Both make their first appearances since January 2020.

Yusuff is a tremendously powerful striker, who has great calf kicks and a very solid overhand right while Allen is a really good, well-rounded fighter who has split his knockout and submission wins at 5/4. Allen is a really good pressure fighter and opts for volume over power, using those combinations to close distance and get takedowns.

Yusuff is one of the most powerful fighters in the division and he does a good job of landing accurate strikes, so if he can take Allen’s takedowns away from him he has a great chance of landing those heavy strikes and moving into the rankings with a big win.
PICK – Sodiq Yusuff via Knockout, Round 2

Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) vs Kevin Holland (21-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

The main event is between one very underrated middleweight contender in Marvin Vettori against the ‘big mouth’ of Kevin Holland, who steps in just 21 days after his last fight. Vettori stepped in on late notice against Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 to outwork him for a decision win, while Holland went 5-0 in 2020 before being dominated by Derek Brunson just three weeks ago at UFC Vegas 22.

Vettori has good power in his hands but his best work comes when he gets hold of you, takes you down and lands ground and pound from top position. Holland has got genuine one-punch knockout power on the feet, or his back if you ask Jacare Souza, but he struggles against wrestlers who know how to control him from the top.

Vettori is one of those fighters, who has a good chin but is just efficient in all his movements. If Holland comes in with the same antics he did against Brunson where he plays up to the camera then he will get punished, but if he comes in focused and with a solid game plan he could land big punches on Vettori’s way in to put him out.

That seems highly unlikely to me though, because Vettori just doesn’t waste any chances and knows exactly how to get the job done. Vettori gets takedowns, beats Holland up for 25 minutes and then calls out Israel Adesanya for a rematch.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision

UFC Vegas 23: Vettori vs Holland – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex after a short break for a short-notice middleweight main event bout that looks to clear up the top of the division.

Marvin Vettori was scheduled to fight Darren Till, but a training injury for the Brit means Kevin Holland has stepped in just three weeks after his last fight to take another chance at the main event. A win for Vettori will go a long way to him proving he deserves a title shot and rematch against Israel Adesanya, but Holland has his own point to prove after his defeat to Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Elsewhere on the card, Nina Nunes (formerly known as Ansaroff) makes her return to the octagon after giving birth last year when she takes on another new mother in Mackenzie Dern in a fight high up on the strawweight rankings too.

Last time out at UFC 260, we went 8/10 on the night to improve our record to 270/426 (63.38%) with 121 perfect picks (44.81%).

With a belting 14 fights on the card, we’ve split it up into three sections and having already predicted the early prelims here we move onto the rest of the prelims now.


Yorgan De Castro (6-2) vs Jarjis Danho (6-1-1 1NC) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

The big boys are in action on this card as Yorgan De Castro looks to snap a two-fight losing streak against Jarjis Danho, who makes his first appearance in a cage fight in almost five years.

Castro dropped consecutive decision defeats to Greg Hardy and Carlos Felipe, while Danho lost and drew his last two fights but hasn’t fought since September 2016 for no reason in particular. Both guys are heavy punchers who have a sledgehammer of a right hand and are completely one dimensional when it comes to a game plan.

Neither man has ever been finished before but combined they have got ten wins by stoppage, with nine knockouts and a single submission in Danho’s favour. Both guys are going to trade swinging their right hand and whoever’s chin holds up the most will get the win but this will not be the most exciting fight the longer it goes.
PICK – Yorgan De Castro via Knockout, Round 1

John Makdessi (17-7) vs Ignacio Bahamondes (11-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Striking technique meets striking power in this lightweight bout as John Makdessi takes on debutant Ignacio Bahamondes. Makdessi lost his last bout to Francisco Trinaldo and then tore his ACL, making this his first fight in just over a year while Bahamondes has won his last two fights coming into this debut.

Makdessi is as pure a striker as they come in the UFC, landing ZERO takedowns in his 17 previous UFC fights while Bahamondes is a powerful striker who stands at 6ft 3 and has a tremendous reach advantage. He has a few defensive lapses still, which Makdessi can absolutely take advantage of, but with a 12 year age gap and a 7.5 inch reach advantage it’s hard to see this going the Canadian’s way.

Bahamondes has the power advantage with hands and even legs, so I think Bahamondes can use the reach and power to get a win in a fun back-and-forth fight.
PICK – Ignacio Bahamondes via Knockout, Round 2

Norma Dumont (5-1) vs Erin Blanchfield (6-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An exciting debut for Erin Blanchfield as one of the biggest prospects in women’s MMA enters the UFC to take on Norma Dumont in the bantamweight division.

Dumont has gone 1-1 in her two-fight UFC career so far, losing at featherweight to Megan Anderson before winning a decision against Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC Vegas 15 and will fight Blanchfield in a short-notice fight. Blanchfield is a natural flyweight fighting up a division in her debut due to the short notice.

Dumont will have a considerable size advantage, but Blanchfield is a really exciting jiu-jitsu practitioner. Her ground game is stunning and her striking is only improving as her last knockout win via head-kick showed, but Dumont is a good wrestler on her own accord. While Blanchfield is brilliant, it’s hard to overlook the size disparity especially considering ‘Cold Blooded’ uses her physicality so well at flyweight. It will be a tough debut for her, I think Dumont gets the win.
PICK – Norma Dumont via Decision

Scott Holtzman (14-4) vs Mateusz Gamrot (17-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun lightweight bout between ‘Hot Sauce’ Holtzman and ‘Gamer’ Gamrot. Holtzman has had a fun run in the UFC but lost his last bout, getting knocked out by a Beneil Dariush spinning back-fist at UFC Vegas 6. Gamrot on the other hand suffered the first defeat of his career at UFC Fight Island 6 when he dropped a decision to Guram Kutateladze.

Gamrot is a very wrestling heavy fighter, whose bread and butter is to close distance and get the takedown to dominate from top position. Holtzman is more of a striker with good boxing skills and while his takedown defence is horrible, I can’t see him being able to hold off Gamrot’s attacks for long periods.

Holtzman has had wars in the past so his cardio isn’t really in question here, but those wars came against sub-par opposition which just adds to the concerns around the 37-year-old. Gamrot gets him down and grinds him out for a wide decision win.
PICK – Mateusz Gamrot via Decision

Jim Miller (32-15) vs Joe Solecki (10-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

The featured prelim bout plays host to some history this weekend as Jim Miller becomes the fighter with the most octagon appearances when he takes on Joe Solecki in the lightweight division.

Miller got a submission win over Roosevelt Roberts back at UFC Vegas 3 before losing a decision to Vinc Pichel at UFC 252, while Solecki is on a five fight win streak including a beautiful first-round submission win over Austin Hubbard at UFC Vegas 7. Both these guys are absolutely insane submission artists with 25 submission wins between them throughout their careers.

Miller is now 37 and his explosiveness has depleted, which gives Solecki a big advantage if they get to the ground. The issue for both is that usually when two grapplers meet the fight will stay on the feet, where Miller probably has a slight edge. But with his cardio problems, the longer the fight goes the more it swings in the younger man’s favour and while Miller is probably good enough to avoid getting tapped out, Solecki is likely to dominate the majority of the bout for a decision win.
PICK – Joe Solecki via Decision

UFC Vegas 23: Vettori vs Holland – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex after a short break for a short-notice middleweight main event bout that looks to clear up the top of the division.

Marvin Vettori was scheduled to fight Darren Till, but a training injury for the Brit means Kevin Holland has stepped in just three weeks after his last fight to take another chance at the main event. A win for Vettori will go a long way to him proving he deserves a title shot and rematch against Israel Adesanya, but Holland has his own point to prove after his defeat to Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

Elsewhere on the card, Nina Nunes (formerly known as Ansaroff) makes her return to the octagon after giving birth last year when she takes on another new mother in Mackenzie Dern in a fight high up on the strawweight rankings too.

Last time out at UFC 260, we went 8/10 on the night to improve our record to 270/426 (63.38%) with 121 perfect picks (44.81%).

With a belting 14 fights on the card, we’ve split it up into three sections and start with the early prelims section here.


Impa Kasanganay (8-1) vs Sasha Palatnikov (6-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

After being on the wrong end of the 2020 knockout of the year, Impa Kasanganay returns to the octagon and moves down to welterweight to take on Sasha Palatnikov.

Kasanganay had won his UFC debut against Maki Pitolo at UFC Vegas 8 before a stunning flying spin kick KO defeat to Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Island 5, while Palatnikov won his UFC debut against Louis Cosce at UFC 255 by knockout.

Palatnikov’s win was impressive for sure, but it largely came thanks to his opponents completely running out of gas in their bout allowing him to take over. He will not get that joy against Kasanganay, who can fight hard for 15 minutes with no issues. Palatnikov has a good kickboxing style but also has good takedowns, something that Kasanganay has the wrestling skills to shut down. He’s yet to win a fight in his career via knockout despite good power in his hands, but Kasanganay has all the tools to get back on the winning trail here.
PICK – Impa Kasanganay via Decision

Da-Un Jung (13-2-1) vs William Knight (9-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fun light heavyweight bout between two prospects in the division looking to remain unbeaten in the UFC.

Jung fought to a draw last time out against Sam Alvey at UFC 254, in a fight many people felt that he lost, while Knight has seen several fights fall apart in recent weeks so he steps in here on short notice off the back of three straight wins including in his UFC debut at UFC 253 against Aleksa Camur.

Knight is an okay wrestler and a not-so great striker, while Jung is certainly a better stand-up fighter of the two. Jung has tremendous power as he has shown with ten KO wins in his career and good takedown defence. Knight is very physical and is able to wear opponents down, but Jung has a size advantage and is the better striker so I think he is able to get the finish by catching Knight at the end of his strikes.
PICK – Da-Un Jung via Knockout, Round 2

Luis Saldana (14-6) vs Jordan Griffin (18-8) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A UFC debut for Saldana as he takes on Jordan Griffin in the featherweight division. Saldana has won his last four fights in a row to earn this opportunity, while Griffin has lost three of his last four including his most recent fight against Youssef Zalal at UFC Vegas 4 back in June.

Saldana and Griffin are both very good, well rounded fighters who have lots of submission wins on their records. Saldana is arguably a better striker of the two, but he has a habit of jumping for submissions which could end up with Griffin on top which is where he’s at his best. Saldana has a great jab and some good kicks, but Griffin is a vet who knows all about grinding out wins if needed.

Griffin will look to close distance and get a takedown to work his top game, but Saldana will take lots of encouragement from Zalal’s joy against Griffin back in June. It’s a super close fight and both are evenly matched up, but I expect Griffin to use that vital experience just to grind out a close decision win.
PICK – Jordan Griffin via Decision

Hunter Azure (9-1) vs Jack Shore (13-0) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight between two hot prospects as Hunter Azure looks to make it consecutive wins against the undefeated Jack Shore.

Azure bounced back from the first defeat of his career to Brian Kelleher with a unanimous decision win over Cole Smith at UFC Vegas 9, while Shore continued his unbeaten run with a submission win over Aaron Phillips at UFC Fight Island 1.

Shore is a tremendous grappler coming out of Wales, with eight of his 13 career wins coming by submission. Azure is a great wrestler himself, with fantastic top control which makes him very hard to move once he gets on top of you. Both guys will come forward to lock up, but for as long as the fight is on the feet it’s Azure who has the advantage. Because of that, Shore will have the edge when it comes to getting the bout to the ground which means he has a huge edge.

Azure has suspect cardio and with Shore’s gruelling style designed to tire an opponent out before choking them out, I can’t see anything but exactly that happening again.
PICK – Jack Shore via Submission, Round 3

Kevin Holland gets second chance to shine in main event at UFC Vegas 23

Three weeks ago the Kevin Holland express came to a quick and sharp halt and his main event status imploded as he let the lights get to him.

He stepped into the octagon at UFC Vegas 22 to take on Derek Brunson after a record equalling 5-0 run in 2020, with all eyes on him. A win would’ve seen him elevated into the top five discussion with a potential title fight looming with another big win, but instead he let his ‘big mouth’ gimmick run amok and he was easily beaten.

Now, on just ten days notice, he gets a chance to run it back after stepping in on short-notice to take on Marvin Vettori in his second main event of the year.

The first was supposed to see him prove whether or not he was a legit threat to the division but he never really did. The first round against Brunson saw him slip almost immediately and then get beaten up on the ground, while in the second he managed to hurt his opponent and then failed to put him away.

The rest of the fight saw Holland looking more for viral moments via talking to Brunson and even Khabib outside the cage. He let the biggest opportunity of his career pass him by to keep up an image that he had created to garner attention on his come up.

But he’s now been given a second chance to make that impression, something that the UFC wouldn’t usually give up so easily.

With Darren Till’s broken collarbone injury opening up a spot in the main event of a middleweight bout in the top of the division, it couldn’t have gone any better for ‘Trailblazer’. Now he must take it.

No more of letting the nerves get to him and acting weirdly in the middle of a fight, no more giving himself excuses for if he is beaten. He has serious skills too as he’s shown in the past, with great hand speed and knockout power as well as a jiu-jitsu black belt.

Against Brunson, his footwork let him down and he let takedowns happen far too easily. Against Vettori he has a chance to correct that and quickly, because the Italian will undoubtedly look to close distance and secure takedowns also in order to use his smothering top game.

It’s a chance to show Dana White and fans across the world that he is serious about his craft and making it to the top of the 185lbs weight class.

A win will allow him to put the past behind him and prove that it was just the lights and the occasion that got to him last time out. Another defeat though will only solidify claims from many that he’s not serious enough to be at the top end despite his talents, especially if it comes in a similar manner.

He claimed after the fight that he never said anything about becoming champion and just wants to enjoy himself. That’s not enough to warrant a place in main event positions in the UFC, especially if that enjoyment gets in the way of victory or even putting up a valiant effort.

Losing at the top end of the division is never a bad thing in the UFC because the quality level is that high. But if you never even give it your all then why should anyone including fans, media, match-makers or even fighters take you seriously?

This main event is make or break for the man with the big right hand and the even bigger mouth. He needs to make this one count, but he’s got a trojan in front of him who won’t make it easy.

Marvin Vettori looking to prove he deserves a title shot at UFC Vegas 23

Lets go back to April 14th 2018 at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs Gaethje in Glendale, Arizona. The lightweight division took a step forward as ‘The Diamond’ sent ‘The Highlight’ to a second consecutive defeat in his career with a fantastic main event fight.

However earlier in the night, the middleweight division had a similar moment in it’s rankings as the undefeated Israel Adesanya fought against the Italian stallion that is Marvin Vettori.

It was a very closely contested fight and one that took the now middleweight champion of the world Adesanya to the judges scorecards for the first time in his entire career. It was the first time too that ‘The Last Stylebender’ had been seen to have lost a round, with one judge even scoring the fight in Vettori’s favour.

Overall the fight went Adesanya’s way, but it was the only time it had even been under consideration that he’d lost a fight until UFC 259 saw him convincingly beaten by light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

That night Vettori left the octagon in disgust at the decision, believing he had done enough to claim a win. He then took a year away from the cage following a positive drug test, although it was proven that it wasn’t intentional and instead came from a contaminated supplement.

Since his return in July 2019, Vettori has claimed four straight wins including a submission win in a grudge match against Karl Roberson at UFC Vegas 2 and then his first main event win over Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 in December.

The win over Hermansson was particularly impressive, as he stepped in on short notice to replace Kevin Holland after he tested positive for COVID-19 a week out from fight night.

Vettori stepped in and dominated Hermansson in all facets of the fight, winning grappling exchanges and landing the much firmer strikes en route to a unanimous decision win. He proved he can go all five rounds, showing a vast improvement from his cardio issues in his earlier UFC career and seemed physically strong enough to go with one of the best in the middleweight division.

After originally being scheduled to fight Darren Till, he now faces Holland in an interesting twist of events. Till broke his collarbone in training and it was Holland who stepped in on short-notice once again, although this bout will come just three weeks out from his last fight where he was soundly beaten by Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.

The game plan for Vettori will be similar to what it would’ve been against Till, push forward to close the distance and look to get the fight down to use his suffocating top game. He has excellent grappling, with nine submission wins in his career and his chin is unblemished with all his defeats only coming via the judge’s scorecards.

With Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum battling the week after, Vettori knows a win will put him right in the conversation for the next title shot and a rematch against Adesanya.

Currently ranked at number six, a win will surely shoot him into the top five at least and that would see him just one win away from the promised land. Whittaker will surely earn himself a rematch with a win against Gastelum which would leave Till, Vettori, Brunson and Paulo Costa to battle it out in a mini-tournament for the next fight.

If Vettori wants to prove to everyone what he has been saying for a while, that he is better than Adesanya, then a win over Holland at UFC Vegas 23 will take him one step closer to being able to prove it once and for all.

Darren Till vs Marvin Vettori cancelled at UFC Vegas 23

UFC Vegas 23 has lost its main event as Darren Till vs Marvin Vettori has been cancelled just 11 days before fight night.

Till and Vettori were scheduled to meet in the middleweight division, with the winner expected to be in line for a future title shot as the division’s top rankings take shape following Israel Adesanya’s failed attempt to become a two-weight world champion at UFC 259.

That plan is now on the back-burner as England’s Till has been forced to withdraw from the bout, according to Vettori himself and ESPN’s Ariel Helwani who broke the news.

According to Helwani, Till was forced to withdraw from the bout after suffering an injury in training. The Brit released a statement on Instagram revealing he had broken his collarbone. Unfortunately this is not the first time he has withdrawn from a bout in recent times.

After losing his summer showdown on Fight Island to Robert Whittaker, Till was forced to undergo knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL during the fight. He accepted to fight Jack Hermansson later in the year, but after failing to recover from the injury in time he withdrew from the bout and it was Vettori who stepped in to the main event slot after original replacement Kevin Holland was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Vettori would go on to dominate Hermansson to a five-round unanimous decision win and move into the top five to set up this fight with Till.

As it goes in the world of MMA, Ariel Helwani is reporting that Kevin Holland has accepted an offer to step in on short notice once more and is just waiting on the bout being signed off by all relevant parties.

Holland main evented UFC Vegas 22 against Derek Brunson on March 20th and was well beaten in a five-round decision where he failed to take advantage of the position he put himself in following a 5-0 run in 2020. A quick turnaround in another main event could potentially put him right back in the hunt for a higher ranking, although Dana White’s criticism of him after that bout could make the road a longer one than usual.

Vettori commented on the withdrawal of Till via Twitter, calling the Liverpool fighter out for pulling out of the fight. Holland was quick to respond on Twitter also, before the Italian seemingly agreed to the bout online.

The middleweight clashes that were due to take bout have taken a big hit in recent weeks, with Kelvin Gastelum stepping in to replace Paulo Costa to fight ‘Bobby Knuckles’ Whittaker on April 17th also.