Tag Archives: UFC Vegas 37

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Joaquin Buckley (12-4) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very interesting middleweight bout to open the main card as Buckley and Arroyo look to get back into the win column in this one. Buckley had the world at his feet after his mind-blowing KO over Impa Kasanganay and then Jordan Wright at UFC 255, but he got starched with a head kick by Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7. Arroyo came into the UFC very highly-rated, but suffered back-to-back defeats to Andre Muniz and Deron Winn most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Buckley is a pressure fighter with lots of power in both his hands and feet, but he’s only 5ft 10′ and in the middleweight division that’s not the biggest. Arroyo on the other hand is a good striker who has seriously struggled with wrestling since coming to the UFC. Buckley moves a lot and has a considerable athletic advantage, but Arroyo is better when he’s allowed to stand and Buckley can prove to be pretty predictable sometimes with his timing.

With that said, Arroyo hasn’t shown me anything that gets me excited about his future yet. We saw Buckley come back from getting KO’d by Kevin Holland in the past and I think he’ll come back in this one with a bang once again.
PICK – Joaquin Buckley via Knockout, Round 2

Nate Maness (13-1) vs Tony Gravely (21-6) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at 135lbs in this one between two highly-rated potential future contenders. Maness has won both his UFC bouts so far, cruising past Jonny Munhoz Jr before a submission win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 15, while Gravely has also won his last two with a split decision over Geraldo De Freitas before a KO over Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 24.

Maness is a good all-rounder, with good striking and good wrestling to be able to compete everywhere the fight could possibly go. Gravely on the other hand is a spectacular wrestler with good power in his hands and a nasty finishing instinct if he gets an opponent hurt, shown in his 12 stoppage wins. Gravely is arguably better at everything in this fight, but has had issues in the past with cardio and that’s where he could find himself in trouble.

If he goes too hard, too early then Maness could stay in there and cause him big issues in the later rounds. If he starts too slowly then the same could happen also. If he however paces himself properly, boxes his way to the inside and secures some top control then it’ll be a long night for Maness.
PICK – Tony Gravely via Decision

Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) vs Christos Giagos (19-8) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An absolutely brilliant bit of match-making in this one as one highly rated prospect takes on an up and coming veteran at lightweight. Tsarukyan has won three-in-a-row with his most recent win coming against Matt Frevola at UFC 257, and his only defeat since 2015 coming against Islam Makhachev. Giagos has won his last two fights, including a submission win over Sean Soriano at UFC 262 last time out.

Tsarukyan has a brilliant freestyle wrestling background as well as tremendous cardio and a good kickboxing arsenal to go with it. Giagos on the other hand is a tidy kickboxer himself who is also at his best when he’s coming forward and securing takedowns on his opponent. Giagos has had issues with his cardio in the past and Tsarukyan showed some terrific takedown defence against Makhachev, which spells bad things for Giagos.

Unfortunately for Giagos, Tsarukyan seems to have the advantage in the wrestling world and on the feet they’re pretty evenly matched. Both prefer the grappling world, which makes me lean towards the Russian in a decision victory.
PICK – Arman Tsarukyan via Decision

Ariane Lipski (13-7) vs Mandy Bohm (7-0) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun fight in the women’s flyweight division between two big strikers at 125lbs. Lipski is 2-2 in her most recent fights, losing her last two-in-a-row to Antonina Shevchenko and then Montana De La Rosa via knockout at UFC Vegas 28. Bohm on the other hand is a very highly rated undefeated fighter coming over from Bellator, winning her most recent fight via decision just under a year ago.

Lipski’s nickname is ‘Queen of Violence’ for a reason. She is a nasty striker who loves to use knees and elbows and has some good striking and clinch control. Bohm on the other hand has a beautiful jab and will look to drag her opponent down to the ground, take their back and synch up some submissions. Lipski’s defeats all generally have come against top level fighters but she does struggle on the ground and that could be a problem here.

Lipski will without a doubt look to maintain distance, use her kicks and stay away from the mat. But where she loves to clinch up for knees and elbow strikes, she puts herself into danger. With that said, Bohm hasn’t fought anyone at Lipski’s level or with her experience yet. It’s due to be a fascinating fight that could go either way but when it’s grappler vs striker, I tend to lean towards the grappler.
PICK – Mandy Bohm via Decision

Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1) vs Devin Clark (12-5) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A very intriguing light heavyweight scrap between two ranked fighters among the big men in the company. Cutelaba is winless in his last three fights, getting knocked out twice by Magomed Ankalaev before a split draw against Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25. Clark was beaten in the main event at UFC Vegas 15 by Anthony Smith last time out but won his last two before that.

Cutelaba is a fighter who straight up likes to brawl. He’s a power puncher who throws with reckless abandon and solid technique with some good accuracy and a good chin of his own. Clark on the other hand is a fighter who puts W’s above entertainment with his style, generally trying to wrestle his opponent to the ground and keep them there. Clark is a great wrestler but he’s not among the top fighters in the division, and while Cutelaba isn’t either I think he’s still a level above Clark.

The power in the hands means he will land and likely hurt Clark but it’s whether or not Cutelaba can either prevent the takedowns or stop Clark from holding him down. He has a wrestling background and has shown an ability to be able to do that in the past, so I believe Cutelaba can land and keep it standing enough for a win.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Decision

Anthony Smith (35-16) vs Ryan Spann (19-6) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A big light heavyweight main event sees former title challenger ‘Lionheart’ Smith take on first-time main eventer Ryan Spann. Smith bounced back from a dominant defeat against Aleksandar Rakic to cruise past Devin Clark and then Jimmy Crute in his last bout at UFC 261. Spann on the other hand has won nine of his last ten fights, losing to Johnny Walker before bouncing back with a win via violent knockout against Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vegas 21.

Smith is a former golden gloves boxing champion with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to go with over 50 professional fights worth of experience. Spann is a powerful striker in his own right, but he doesn’t really throw combinations and his gas tank is absolutely a worry in a five-round fight. Smith has a solid chin and is incredibly well-rounded and ultimately here, Spann’s tool box just isn’t that deep.

‘Lionheart’ has multiple paths to victory in this fight and while he may look to be wary early on because of Spann’s power, he will take over and show that there are levels to this mixed martial arts game to secure a third straight victory.
PICK – Anthony Smith via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Montel Jackson (10-2) vs JP Buys (9-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A very interesting fight as the highly-rated Montel Jackson takes on JP Buys, who moves up from flyweight after defeat in his debut with the UFC. Jackson has got a 4-2 record in the UFC including a big KO win over Jesse Strader last time out at UFC Vegas 22. Buys was highly rated outside the UFC and joined in March on the same card and got starched by Bruno Silva.

Jackson is a super powerful striker with brilliant submission skills on the mat too. He’s got a vicious right hand and has six knockdowns in the bantamweight division to show just how powerful he is. Buys had excellent wrestling outside the UFC and was tipped for big things, while his kickboxing is pretty decent too.

This is a weird match-up because Jackson is more powerful, a better submission threat and a far bigger man naturally. Buys needs to show some real improvements and get a bit of luck to be successful here and I just don’t see it, because Jackson is very good.
PICK – Montel Jackson via Knockout, Round 2

Nikolas Motta (12-3) vs Cameron VanCamp (15-5-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A double UFC debut in this one in what should be an exciting fight in the lightweight division. ‘Iron’ Motta steps in for his first official UFC fight after a win on the Contender Series at the back end of 2020 and on a three-fight win streak. VanCamp is a short-notice replacement for the veteran Jim Miller and makes his debut on a four-fight win streak.

Motta is a Muay-Thai striker with great knees, kicks and a powerful right hand. VanCamp is more of a grappler, with nine submission wins from 13 career stoppage victories but he does like to stand and strike a fair bit. VanCamp likes to switch stances in order to get a better chance on a single leg takedown, but Motta is so incredibly powerful and is happy to throw good combinations and take chances.

Motta’s takedown defence isn’t rubbish and VanCamp’s takedown offence isn’t quite sensational. But with Jim Miller the original opponent, I’m confident in saying he’s not more dangerous on the mat and that will help Motta. Motta will be able to stay away from VanCamp’s takedown and he will land heavy shots in order to get himself a big KO win.
PICK – Nikolas Motta via Knockout, Round 1

Rong Zhu (17-4) vs Brandon Jenkins (15-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A super-short notice bout at 155lbs as Rongzhu takes on the incoming Brandon Jenkins from the PFL on less than a week’s notice, after Dakota Bush withdrew. Rongzhu went on a ten-fight win streak before joining the UFC, winning his promotion’s lightweight title but he was beaten in his debut by ‘Kazula’ Vargas at UFC 261. Jenkins won his most recent fight last month against Jason Kilburn via flying knee.

Rongzhu is a very powerful striker with an impressive 11 knockouts inside 15 stoppage wins. He’s so aggressive and his experience for a 21-year-old is incredibly impressive. Jenkins also has some powerful striking, with ten knockouts from 15 career wins while he has decent wrestling in his back pocket also and some decent Muay-Thai.

If this fight was set up in advance, it would be sensational. But because it’s on short-notice, it’s hard to go against someone like Rongzhu. He’s got stoppage power, great cardio and submission skills too. This could potentially be a fight of the night, but I’m backing Rongzhu to get a spectacular KO.
PICK – Rongzhu via Knockout, Round 2

Pannie Kianzad (16-5) vs Raquel Pennington (11-9) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

An interesting bantamweight bout at the top end of the 135lbs women’s division. Kianzad has won four-in-a-row, racking up victories over Jessica Rose-Clark, Bethe Correia, Sijara Eubanks and Alexis Davis most recently at UFC 263. Pennington on the other hand is 2-3 in her last five, but secured a dominant win over Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 3.

Kianzad is a solid kickboxer with really sharp hands and good takedown defence, while Pennington will be looking to secure a clinch against the cage, slow the momentum and volume down before looking to make the fight very boring and just control positions rather than too much damage.

Kianzad will need to use her volume and power in this fight and Pennington will be keen to ensure that doesn’t happen. It’ll be a fight that won’t have many moments to look back on but in all honesty I think Kianzad has the ability to use her footwork and land enough to scrape a close decision.
PICK – Pannie Kianzad via Decision

Mike Rodriguez (11-6) vs Tafon Nchukwi (5-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

Featured prelim bout between two interestingly rated light heavyweights. Rodriguez is 1-3 and 1 no contest in his last five fights, losing his last two to Ed Herman and Danilo Marques at UFC Vegas 18 via submission. Nchukwi started well in the UFC, beating Jamie Pickett at UFC Vegas 17 before moving down to middleweight and getting absolutely dominated by Jun Yong Park at UFC Vegas 26.

Rodriguez is a good boxer with solid cardio and good power, but his striking is in keeping with his ‘Slow’ moniker. Nchukwi is an incredibly powerful kickboxer, but he has shown tremendous cardio issues whenever asked to grapple and seemingly just gets completely lost on the mat. That doesn’t really help Rodriguez in this one, who’s ideal path is in the striking realm where he is realistically outmatched here.

Nchukwi has scary one-punch power and is patient despite his lack of experience. Nchukwi will stay patient from range and land short strikes, before exploding at some point in the first round and turning Rodriguez’s lights out and likely ending his UFC tenure.
PICK – Tafon Nchukwi via Knockout, Round 1

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs Spann – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns to our screens this weekend after a two week break with a huge 15-fight card, headlined by light heavyweights Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith and Ryan Spann.

The 205lbs division is top heavy right now, with lots of guys vying for title contention and that includes former challenger Smith. A win for Spann however in his first ever main event would be a huge deal for him and mean he has no easy fights in his future.

Elsewhere on the card there is a hotly anticipated match-up between Ariane Lipski and debutant Mandy Bohm in the women’s flyweight division, while the likes of Joaquin Buckley, Nate Maness, Raquel Pennington, Impa Kasanganay and Arman Tsarukyan all fight too.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 36, we had a decent run going 6/9 with three perfect picks. That moved us to 402/633 (63.51%) with 177 perfect picks (44.03%) since we began.

A huge card, we’ve split our picks up into three this week so we’ll start with the opening four early prelim bouts.


Emily Whitmire (4-4) vs Hannah Goldy (5-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A start to the card with two women who have each lost their last two fights in the UFC. Whitmire was submitted by Amanda Ribas and then Polyana Viana in her two bouts, most recently at UFC Vegas 8, while Goldy dropped decisions to Miranda Granger in 2019 and then Diana Belbita in July.

Whitmire is a pressure fighter with decent striking in her arsenal, and her ground game isn’t as bad as the two defeats against elite competition made it look. Goldy is a striker who looks to overwhelm her opponent from distance with lots of volume, but defensively she is poor and she has a horrible tendency of backing herself up against the cage.

Neither of these women are the greatest and the loser will likely get cut from the company. Whitmire has the advantage in the sense that her style almost perfectly suits a fighter who hates pressure like Goldy does. Whitmire’s grappling and pressure should be enough to see her sail through to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Emily Whitmire via Decision

Gustavo Lopez (12-6) vs Alateng Heili (14-8-1) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The super exciting Lopez makes his return to the octagon to take on ‘Mongolian Knight’ Heili in the bantamweight division. Lopez submitted Anthony Birchak at UFC Vegas 13 before a fight of the night defeat to Adrian Yanez in March at UFC Vegas 22. Heili was on a four-fight win streak before stepping into the octagon against Casey Kenney in August 2020 last time out.

Lopez is a brilliant all-round fighter with really good jiu-jitsu skills on the mat but some electric striking too. Heili is a very solid wrestler with a powerful right hand to fall back on if needed and that could be big in this fight. Lopez has fallen in love with his hands recently despite his great ground game but it could help him against Heili who is a really low output fighter with poor cardio.

Heili will have the wrestling edge, meaning he could rack up top control in the early rounds and he’s powerful enough to keep Lopez worried about his striking. But my gut tells me Lopez is able to scramble back to his feet if he gets taken down and do plenty of damage on the feet with his hands to secure a late stoppage.
PICK – Gustavo Lopez via Knockout, Round 3

Impa Kasanganay (9-1) vs Carlston Harris (16-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A very interesting bout at 170lbs sees two relative newcomers to the UFC go head-to-head. Kasanganay has fought three times in the UFC, winning his debut before being on the wrong end of one of the greatest KO’s ever against Joaquin Buckley. He returned at welterweight and secured a submission win over Sacha Palatnikov at UFC Vegas 23. Harris made his UFC debut in May at UFC Vegas 26 and defeated Christian Aguilera via submission in the first-round.

Kasanganay is physically bigger and likes to try and lean on his wrestling for wins, but his punching power for his size isn’t impressive at all and his striking is relatively stiff. On the other side of the cage will be Harris, who is a lethal submission artist with great punching power and good wrestling to glue it all together.

Ultimately, this is a tough match up for Kasanganay. His strongest attributes aren’t as good as Harris’ abilities in those fields and his weaknesses play into Harris’ strengths too. Unless there has been lots of improvement, I expect Harris to just be a step too far and to be able to control the fight and potentially secure a submission on the ground.
PICK – Carlston Harris via Decision

Erin Blanchfield (6-1) vs Sarah Alpar (9-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A UFC debut for a very highly-rated fighter in Blanchfield as she takes on Alpar, who is yet to win in the UFC. Blanchfield has won her last three in a row but hasn’t fought for over a year, while Alpar lost her UFC debut against Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC Vegas 11 last time out.

Blanchfield is a brilliant grappler with true submission skills to go with some great kickboxing and solid wrestling too. Alpar is a bantamweight who is moving down to flyweight for this fight so she will be the bigger fighter, but her wrestling being her biggest strength puts her in a world of danger against a top prospect.

It’s a lose-lose for Blanchfield to be honest. There’s plenty of expectation on her shoulders and if she wins then it’s what she’s supposed to do, but if she loses then it’s a worry because Alpar isn’t the greatest fighter. With that said, I expect a good performance and a big win for Blanchfield.
PICK – Erin Blanchfield via Submission, Round 2