MMA fighting styles

UFC Vegas 51 Predictions – MMA Fighting

Belal Muhammad is about to experience a great deja Luque.

“Remember the Name” has only been completed once in his career, five and a half years ago at the hands of Vicente Luque, the man he reunites with in the UFC main event on Saturday. Vegas 51. At the time, both fighters were just starting to make a name for themselves in the always crowded welterweight division; now they are legitimate contenders to spit out a title shot from afar.

The two have 20 combined wins since the first fight and yet they are both still searching for the signature victory that will make them an undeniable challenger for the title. Even though they left marquee names like Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia in their wake, a convincing win in tonight’s rematch could be just what either fighter needs to prove. that it deserves primary consideration.

At the very least, fans will be treated to a clash between two suitors who have been grinding the old fashioned way and if Muhammad avenges his loss, we could consider this the second leg of a compelling trilogy.

In other main card action, Contender Series middleweight signings Caio Borralho and Gadzi Omargadzhiev make their UFC debuts, Miguel Baeza battles Andre Fialho in a welterweight forward duel, Mayra Bueno Silva returns to weight cock to fight Wu Yanan, Pat Sabatini looks to go 4-0 in the UFC when he fights featherweight prospect TJ Laramie, and Mounir Lazzez welcomes Contender Series welterweight Ange Loosa to the UFC.

What: UFC Vegas 51

Or: UFC APEX in Las Vegas

When: Saturday April 16. The eight-fight preliminary card begins on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by a six-fight main card on ESPN+ at 8:30 p.m. ET.


(Numbers in parentheses indicate that World MMA Fight Rankings)

Vicente Luque (5) vs Belal Muhammad (6)

After calculating the numbers using the insanely expensive MMA Fighting MMA Math calculator, this choice should be pretty easy: Stephen Thompson beat Vicente Luque + Belal Muhammad beat Stephen Thompson = Belal Muhammad beat Vicente Luque.

To the right?

Well, maybe it’s not that simple. “Wonderboy” is a nightmare for many welterweights and Luque was no exception. He landed several hard shots, but was never able to corner Thompson for long enough to put on a game-winning performance. There aren’t too many fighters like Thompson, so drawing comparisons between Luque and Muhammad’s respective performances against him isn’t particularly helpful (again, the math proves pointless).

Looking at Luque-Muhammad 1 probably isn’t very helpful either, although the two developed on a linear path, so it’s not like they’re different fighters as far as potential strategies go. They are just higher versions of themselves. If so, it is not good for Muhammad.

“Remember the Name” is all about the pressure game and he’s great at it, but in Luque he has an opponent who also likes to show up and close the distance and land big shots at all costs. Rhythm is not a problem for Muhammad. Firepower is.

The possibility of this one going five rounds could tip the action in Muhammad’s favor as it gives him more time to weather and recover from an early storm from Luque. I don’t trust him to match the kind of damage Luque can inflict no matter how long the fight takes.

Luque won the first fight in less than 90 seconds, which I’m not expecting this time around. Muhammad will push Luque however, until Luque overwhelms him with a flurry and finishes on the ground with a submission.

To take: Luque

Caio Borralho against. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev

Considering my recent crusade against billing fights as the “co-main event” simply because they’re second to last on the card, this feels like an attack.

Respectfully, there’s nothing about Caio Borralho vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev worth calling it a co-main event. It’s a big fight. This is the penultimate fight of the evening. God willing, we can even watch their walkouts on TV. But it’s not a co-main event and we don’t have to pretend that’s because the UFC and ESPN say so.

Go wild.

What we have here is a great opportunity for a few talented fighters to immediately announce themselves as Contender Series impact signings. In Borralho, you have a fun fighter with a solid takedown defense; in Omargadzhiev we have the next man on the seemingly endless treadmill of mighty Russian grapplers.

In principle, I have to favor Omargadzhiev because I don’t think Borralho can stay on his back for 15 minutes. Omargadzhiev is also comfortable on the feet, using combinations to score and not just to set up takedowns. That said, when it’s time to defeat Borralho, you can bet he’ll do it with frightening efficiency.

Borralho is no duck sitting in front of a wrestler as he has both a solid takedown defense and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Omargadzhiev will have to work to sever that guard. However, even if he can’t, expect him to remain patient in the lead position and dust him with dirt-and-pill when the opportunity arises. He will either fight his way to a decision or submit a tiring late Borralho.

To take: Omargadzhiev

Miguel Baeza vs Andre Fialho

Matchmakers, I see what you’ve done here.

On a map with no starpower, sometimes you just have to throw stuff at the wall until it sticks and the fans are lucky that this match ended up on the board. Miguel Baeza against Dhiego Lima was a good game, but once Lima made the surprising decision to retire, the door was left open for Andre Fialho to step in and really create chaos.

Baeza is one of the best offensive welterweights in the UFC. He can be very technical at first and has no problem brawling late. This raised questions about his defense, which is perfect for Fialho. The former PFL fighter wants to stand up and rally, especially if his opponent has a respectable striking pedigree.

So look for Baeza to take the lead on lap one, then settle into a fight on laps 2 and 3. Fialho has some serious punching power, but I still prefer Baeza to break his skid here.

Baeza wins a decision after some thrilling touch-and-go moments.

To take: Baeza

Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Wu Yanan

Mayra Bueno Silva and Wu Yanan are ready for a fight that steals the show. It might get ugly, but when you have two aggressive fighters who need a head-to-head win on a main map, you know you’re going to put in the maximum effort.

There’s a lot to love about Wu’s game and she’s shown how competitive she can be against more experienced competitors. But you also get the feeling that the 25-year-old’s UFC career was too much, too soon, and Silva is another name that fits into that narrative. “Sheetara” is constantly on the attack with his muay thai and submission skills and I favor here to get the better of Wu in a blow-for-blow contest. I like Wu’s speed, but Silva hits harder and will have the advantage on the ground.

Silva by submission.

To take: silva

Pat Sabatini vs. TJ Laramie

In a battle of wrestlers, give me Pat Sabatini’s fuller grappling game of TJ Laramie’s untapped potential.

Laramie has that classic fire hydrant build, which means he’ll be at a disadvantage to most featherweights, but a ground load for anyone he can put on his back. He’s got some raw power on his feet, but he’s still under development. Sabatini will want to initiate wrestling exchanges and wear Laramie down with a clinch against the fence before launching into takedowns.

There will be some entertaining clashes and scrambles, but I like that Sabatini gets the most out of the majority of these exchanges. He’s not just going to sit in first place either, he’ll beat Laramie with ground strikes and attack with submissions en route to a decision victory.

To take: Sabatini

Mounir Lazzez vs. Ange Loosa

We open with a potential banger here as Mounir Lazzez and Ange Loosa bring exciting striking styles to the octagon. For Lazzez, technique and precision is the name of the game and when locked in, he looks as good as anyone in the welterweight division on the feet. For debutant Loosa, there would be no better way for him to make a first impression than by handing Lazzez a second straight knockout loss.

Loosa uses a lot of feints and fakes to set up his combinations and he has shown blistering hand speed in his recent fights, although finishes have eluded him. He’ll also shuffle takedowns and while his wrestling skills aren’t exactly Division I caliber, he’s shown he can use raw power to finish a shot.

It’s tempting to go with the lesser-known Loosa here, but he can get predictable with his approach and that’s the last thing you want to be when fighting Lazzez. “The Sniper” feasts on the competition getting stuck in a rhythm and I see him tearing Loosa apart for three rounds. It’s a tough outing for Loosa taking this fight on just days notice and while I expect him to put in a spirited effort, it won’t be enough to win the cards.

To take: lazz

Preliminaries

Devin Clark beats. William Knight

Pannie Kianzad (13) def. Lina Lansberg

Drakkar Klose defeated. Brandon Jenkins

Jesse Ronson beats. Rafa Garcia

Chris Barnett won. Martin Buday

Trey Ogden vs. Jordan Leavitt

Istela Nunes defeats. Sam Hughes

Heili Alateng defeated. Kevin Croom