Tag Archives: UFC Vegas 54

UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Main card predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night, and moving on to the rest of the prelims section of the card, we finish off with the main card picks here.


Jake Hadley (8-0) vs Allan Nascimento (18-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A grapple-heavy affair coming up to open the main card here. Hadley is an undefeated former Cage Warriors champion, who earned his UFC debut with a submission win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Nascimento on the other hand was defeated in his UFC debut back at UFC 267, dropping a split decision to Tagir Ulanbekov.

Both Hadley and Nascimento are grapplers by nature, but they’re different in their approach. Hadley is a brilliant wrestler, who looks to smother his opponents with his takedowns and work for submissions by taking the back as quickly as possible. Nascimento looks to stand and use his kicking game, unafraid to be dragged into a scrap because he knows if he’s on the ground his submission game is excellent too. This is a super evenly matched fight and very hard to call.

One advantage that Hadley has is that he’s comfortable whether he’s on top or on the bottom, while Nascimento does not look comfortable when he’s underneath someone else. They will contest takedowns against the cage without a doubt and it will be finely contested, but in these matches it’s those fine margins that make the difference and I think Hadley claims the win.
PICK – Jake Hadley via Decision

Frank Camacho (22-9) vs Manuel Torres (12-2) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting lightweight bout between a veteran likely on his way out and an upcoming talent from Mexico. Camacho has lost four of his last five stretching back to 2018 and was KO’d in just 41 seconds by Justin Jaynes in his last fight at UFC Vegas 3. Torres is making his UFC debut here on a three-fight win streak after victory on Dana White’s Contender Series back in October last year.

Camacho is a veteran of the sport despite being only 32 years old as his record shows. ‘The Crank’ is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s more known for his slugfest style where he brawls and entertains. Torres is a very physical and aggressive fighter, with great power in his hands and a killer instinct with 11 finishes in 12 fights. This is a real test to see where Camacho stands in his career.

Both men have the power to really hurt the other, but whether Camacho’s chin can still stand up after his latest knockout is a big worry. There is the fact that he has a lot more experience, and if he mixes up his attacks to include some ground game then he has a great chance of victory. With that said though, it’s not often that he leans on his grappling as his initial game plan, so I expect a hungry Torres to claim a big stoppage win.
PICK – Manuel Torres via Knockout, Round 1

Katlyn Chookagian (17-4) vs Amanda Ribas (11-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two women’s flyweights looking to get into title contention in a division dominated by one queen. Chookagian has already fought for the belt and got dominated, but she has gone 4-1 since then, including wins in each of her last three against Cynthia Calvillo (UFC 255), Viviane Araujo (UFC 262) and Jennifer Maia (UFC Vegas 46) all by decision. Ribas saw her hype reach an all-time high when she submitted Paige Van Zant at UFC 251, but she was brutally stopped by Marina Rodriguez next time out at UFC 257. She bounced back with a great decision win over Virna Jandiroba at UFC 267 in her last bout.

Chookagian is a karate fighter who uses her range really well and volume strikes to dominate her opponents. Her body kicks are excellent while she has good boxing too and often just completely outworks her opponent. Ribas is a pretty rubbish striker on the feet, but on the ground she is a terrifying prospect with her submission skills. The problem here is that she may not be able to get the fight to the ground.

‘Blonde fighter’ is very good when it comes to ensuring fights go the way she wants, unless it’s against Valentina Shevchenko. She dominates the range, has good takedown defence and is the better striker as well as having the size advantage. Expect her to put in a vintage performance to claim yet another decision win.
PICK – Katlyn Chookagian via Decision



Davey Grant (13-6) vs Louis Smolka (17-8) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Very fun 135-pound scrap coming up in this one. Grant has lost his last two in a row, dropping decisions to Marlon Vera and then Adrian Yanez respectively. Smolka has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, being on the wrong end of a knockout finish to Vince Morales at UFC Vegas 44 in his most recent outing.

Grant is a terrific grappler who has completely transformed his game in recent years to start chasing knockouts with nasty combinations and wild hooks to the head. Smolka is another entertaining fighter, who uses his cardio as a weapon while throwing good combinations and threatening with chokes when the opportunity presents itself. When you match them skill for skill, Smolka seems to be in a world of trouble with this one.

The Brit is bigger, stronger, the better grappler and hits harder. His cardio is more than good enough to really go the distance at a good pace too and he is by far the more durable of the two fighters. This one will likely turn into a war, and that means Grant clips him midway through the fight for the finish.
PICK – Davey Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Ryan Spann (19-7) vs Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The big boys take up the co-main event slot in this one as light heavyweights collide. Spann has lost two of his last three, including getting absolutely squashed by Anthony Smith in the first round in his last bout. Cutelaba overcame a three fight winless run after KO losses to Magomed Ankalaev and a draw with Dustin Jacoby at UFC Vegas 25, by earning a decision win in his last bout against Devin Clark.

Spann is a tidy grappler on the mat with 11 submission wins to his name in his career. His wrestling is decent, while his striking on the feet is okay, but anything outside of his comfort zones is a huge problem for him. Cutelaba on the other hand is a super aggressive fighter who charges forward and threatens with constant takedowns by landing huge power punches in combinations. Spann needs to be able to get this fight down with himself on top to win this, because he’s outmatched by Cutelaba.

‘Hulk’ will look to put Spann on his back foot regularly and will try for takedowns against the cage before swinging huge combinations to try and take his head off. Spann won’t be comfortable with that, and when that happens he tends to just kind of melt away. That’s not ideal against someone so aggressive, so Cutelaba could claim a violent finish early on.
PICK – Ion Cutelaba via Knockout, Round 1

Jan Blachowicz (28-9) vs Aleksandar Rakic (14-2) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A fight that could easily have been contested for the 205lbs title at some point last year now takes place as a contender bout in the division. Blachowicz was dominated in his last outing by Glover Teixeira as he lost the belt at UFC 267, bringing to an end his five fight winning streak. Rakic on the other hand has won his last two, with just one defeat since losing his pro debut. He dominated Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos (UFC 259) in his most recent bouts.

Blachowicz is a brilliant fighter who is very well-rounded. He has got the legendary ‘Polish power’ in both hands where his boxing combinations score him knockout wins, while his wrestling is also good as he showed against Israel Adesanya back at UFC 259. Rakic’s wrestling has been shown to be brilliant too, while he also has scary power in his hands earning him nine career KO wins. This is a super hard fight to call, because both guys match up so well.

Rakic is nine years younger and the fact that Teixeira was able to take Blachowicz down so easily and control him on the mat will be of big encouragement to him. It shows that he is capable of being controlled and Rakic is very good at that. I think Blachowicz is now going to start a steady decline as age catches up to him, and Rakic is going to pile on the misery for a huge win and secure himself the next title shot.
PICK – Aleksandar Rakic via Decision

UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Prelims predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here and after starting with the early prelims for the night we move on to the rest of the prelims section of the card.


Virna Jandiroba (17-3) vs Angela Hill (13-11) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A banger at strawweight between two fighters going through rough patches recently. Jandiroba has 1-2 in her last three, beating Kanako Murata via TKO (UFC Vegas 29) in between decision defeats to Mackenzie Dern (UFC 256) and Amanda Ribas (UFC 267). Hill has gone 1-4 in her last five, with a decision win over Ashley Yoder (UFC Vegas 21) sandwiched in the middle of decision defeats to Claudia Gadelha, Michelle Waterson (UFC Vegas 10), Tecia Torres (UFC 265) and Amanda Lemos (UFC Vegas 45).

Jandiroba is a tremendous grappler with some excellent wrestling and nasty ground and pound, while her submission game is top notch having earned her 13 wins in her career. Hill is a striker, with excellent Muay Thai skills and some decent defensive wrestling skills but she regularly leaves fights in the judge’s hands by giving one to take one. This one seems like an unfavourable match up though because her recent performances have seen her struggle against top wrestlers.

Hill could easily have won three of her four recent defeats with different judges, but when you leave it open like that you’re asking for trouble. Jandiroba has had cardio problems in the past and Hill will go strong for the full 15 which could help in the latter rounds, but I expect Jandiroba’s wrestling to be enough to claim at least two rounds and another judge’s decision.
PICK – Virna Jandiroba via Decision

Michael Johnson (20-17) vs Alan Patrick (15-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A bit of a retirement bout in the lightweight division here as Michael Johnson takes on Alan Patrick at 155-pounds. Johnson hasn’t won since 2018, losing four in a row, with defeat to Clay Guida most recently at UFC Vegas 18. Patrick is winless in his last three after defeats to Scott Holtzman and Bobby Green, before an accidental eye poke saved him from another defeat to Mason Jones at UFC Vegas 28.

Johnson is a striker, with great power in his hands and nasty body kicks as well as some solid wrestling in his back pocket too. Patrick is a powerful wrestler who wants to use his top game to dominate position , but his wrestling to get the fight there isn’t good. These are two fighters who probably shouldn’t be in the UFC at this point, but here we are.

Patrick just isn’t very good, to put it plainly. If he manages to get the fight to the ground he will have success, but his cardio means he probably has about a round and a half in him before Johnson takes over. Overall, Johnson should be able to stay at range and piece him up on the feet while avoiding the takedowns to secure a win.
PICK – Michael Johnson via Decision



Viviane Araujo (10-3) vs Andrea Lee (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun women’s flyweight fight sits as the featured prelim bout in a highly competitive affair. Araujo saw a run of seven wins in eight bouts snapped last time out when Katlyn Chookagian claimed a decision win against her at UFC 262. Lee on the other hand has earned consecutive wins after a run of three defeats in a row, defeating Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 262 via submission before a TKO win against Cynthia Calvillo at UFC Vegas 42.

Araujo is a brilliant athlete, with great on-punch power as well as a gruelling top game from wrestling. Her big undoing however is her cardio, as she tends to only be able to go for two rounds or so before she fades away and rapidly. Lee on the other hand has improved her ground game well, while her striking game stands out among the contenders in the division although she struggles with wrestling defensively.

If the Brazilian has improved on her cardio then she should win this with her aggression and power. But if she hasn’t, it smells like a potential upset in ‘KGB’s favour with her effective striking and pace. The likelihood is that she hasn’t, because it’s always been an issue, so expect Lee to overcome a tough opening round to take over and claim the decision win.
PICK – Andrea Lee via Decision

UFC Vegas 54: Blachowicz vs Rakic – Early prelims predictions

A huge light heavyweight main event with title implications headlines the UFC Vegas 54 card this week after a brilliant card last week.

Former champions Jan Blachowicz returns to the octagon for the first time since losing his title to take on the highly rated Aleksandar Rakic, with the winner hoping it will take them towards a title shot.

In a sneaky good card, we’ll also see the likes of Davey Grant take on Louis Smolka and Katlyn Chookagian taking on Amanda Ribas to give you plenty to get your teeth into.

Last week at UFC 274 we went 9/14 with six perfect picks, taking us to 622/965 (64.46%) with 265 perfect picks (42.6%). You can check out our complete record here.

We’ll look to improve on that record here, starting with the early prelims for the night.


Nick Maximov (8-0) vs Andre Petroski (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun bout to open up the card from two Ultimate Fighter alumni. Maximov is 2-0 in his short UFC career, earning a decision win over Cody Brundage at UFC 266 before a split decision over Puniahele Soriano in his last bout. Petroski is also 2-0 in the UFC, getting a KO win over Michael Gillmore in his debut before a submission win over Yaozong Hu at UFC 267.

Maximov is a grinder, using his excellent wrestling to take opponents down and just control position enough to stay safe and land some damage where he can. He is a long time training partner of the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate. Petroski is a grappler too, but he is more offensive and explosive with it and constantly looking for dangerous moments. With that said his striking isn’t great despite his power and in grappling, they’re pretty evenly matched.

Petroski has got some difficulty holding a fast pace and his cardio has let him down in the past. Maximov tends to push a steady pace and uses his physicality to work his opponent without leaving himself open. This won’t be the most exciting fight int he world, but with Maximov’s preference for position over submission, I expect a decision win and for him to remain undefeated.
PICK – Nick Maximov via Decision



Tatsuro Taira (10-0) vs Carlos Candelario (8-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun fight between two debutants in the UFC, that was originally scheduled to take place two weeks ago. Taira is a perfect 10-0 at just 22-years-old, while Candelario was 8-0 before a defeat on Dana White’s Contender Series that the boss disagreed with and signed him because of anyway.

Taira is an excellent grappler with some solid grappling skills and excellent top pressure, where he works for submissions regularly. Candelario is an experienced fighter himself with some decent ground game too, although he looks more for ground and pound rather than submissions. On the feet Candelario is also a more active striker than Taira and technically is good enough to cause problems.

With that said though, Taira is so quick to latch on to any sort of mistake and if he gets an advantageous position on the mat he rarely lets it slip. Candelario tends to leave limbs hanging and uses his knees to get back to his feet which could allow Taira to take his back and sink in a nasty choke for a big win.
PICK – Tatsuro Taira via Submission, Round 2