This weekend (Saturday, December 18, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 45. After the excellent pay-per-view (PPV) from last week, the promotion will return to the comfort of its own facilities for one final ‘Fight Night’ event. It might not be the biggest event ever, but what fan would miss a main event led by Derrick Lewis?
Before the big men jump in, let’s take a closer look at these main map donnybrooks:
Straw weight woman: Amanda lemos vs. Angela Hill
Best win for Lemos? Mizuki Inoue For Hill? Loma Lookboonmee
Current series: Lemos has won four in a row, while Hill failed the last time
X factor: Hill has a lot more experience against high level opponents
How these two match: One of the most promising players in the division faces his most active veteran.
Lemos is on fire. Since falling to 115 pounds, she has won four straight fights, stopping three of her opponents in the process. Really what separates Lemos from his peers is pure athleticism and physique; the Brazilian cracks with a different level of intensity.
After breaking through the title mix with a string of solid performances, Hill has now failed on three of his last four trips to the Octagon. Despite recent struggles, Hill still looks pretty sharp with his movement and Muay Thai, and his struggle has come a long way.
Skill for skill, Hill is arguably the best fighter. It is a little more varied in its attack and subtle in its movement. What isn’t subtle is Lemos’ power advantage, which is really obvious and will surely influence the judges… if the fight lasts that long. In order to outsmart Lemos, Hill will need to double his opponent’s strikes, and that level of volume could hurt Hill in the process.
In general, Hill is a fighter who thrives on her own athletic gifts, but that’s a problem compared to a more athletic opponent.
Prediction: Lemos via decision
Bantam-weight: Ricky simon vs. Raphael Assuncao
Best victory for Simon? Merab dvalishvili For Assuncao? Police Rob
Current series: Simon has won three in a row, while Assuncao has lost three in a row
X factor: Assuncao is almost 40 years old
How these two match: These two are opposite in terms of styles and recent results, but it should be a big fight nonetheless.
Simon is not a complicated fighter to understand, but he plays his role well. A fierce wrestler with a mule, Simon is as tough as advertised, has a deep gas tank, and can create rip suits as well. He is an athlete who tends to thrive in the second half of fights, when his pace and courage have worn the opponent out.
Conversely, Assuncao is one of the more veteran fighters on the list. Professional since 2004, Assuncao earns his salary through cunning. His kickboxing timing is staggered, as he gets counter rights that really surprise his opponents, and he’s a great wrestler and grappler to start.
If this match had taken place 18 months ago, I would have sided with the Brazilian with confidence. He’s the much sharper forward, and trying to wrestle with Assuncao has always been a wild ride. Over the years, Assuncao has kicked the asses of many promising wrestlers in Simon’s mold.
Sadly, this is bantamweight, where it’s pretty darn hard to survive 39. Assuncao might be better at the start, but Simon is tough enough to avoid finishing, and he won’t let go at any point.
Prediction: Simon via decision
Lightweight: Mateusz Gamrot against Carlos Diego Ferreira
Best win for Gamrot? Jeremy stephens For Ferreira? Anthony Pettis
Current series: Gamrot has won two in a row, while Ferreira has lost his last two. I feel a model!
X factor: This is a big step forward in the competition for Gamrot
How these two match: Lightweight excellence on display.
Gamrot entered the UFC with a lot of hype, and although he stumbled in his debut, the Polish “Gamer” bounced back in style. He’s a hell of a technician: an ultra smooth wrestler, a decorated black belt in jiu-jitsu and a real threat of knockout.
Yet he has never fought someone like Ferreira. Third degree black jiu-jitsu is itself well balanced, but it has the added benefit of many years of competing against elite lightweight weights. Ferreira may not have burst into the headline mix, but he came very close before failing to Beneil Dariush earlier this year.
This is a gigantic task for Gamrot. It’s not going to end early; it will be fiercely fought every step of the way. Hell, several of Ferreira’s best wins – i.e. Rustam Khabilov – came when the Brazilian turned his opponent’s pullout attempts against them and beat them in the process as well.
It could happen here. If Gamrot takes a bad shot or is lazy in a scrum, he will be punished. At the same time, Ferreira has been edged out by top grapplers in his last two fights. The outcome of this fight will essentially prove whether or not Gamrot belongs to this elite class, and is therefore a real contender for lightweight gold.
Either way, we’ll find out.
Prediction: Gamrot via decision
Lightweight: wolf cub swan vs. Darren elkins
Best win for Swanson? Dustin Poirier For Elkins? Mirsad Bektic
Current series: Swanson lost his last fight, as Elkins won two in a row
X factor: The two fighters went through many wars
How these two match: This should be a really fun fight!
Swanson is now 38 and recently returned from a full ACL tear, but “Killer Cub” doesn’t seem to have slowed his body roll yet! Swanson has only really lost to top contenders in recent years, and he’s also had some solid wins. Even so deep in the game, Swanson is a powerful and delicate attacker.
Meanwhile, “The Damage” is a legendary grinder. Elkins doesn’t care about his opponent’s offense as he will do his best to maintain his wrestling game. When it comes to a battle of wills, Elkins has never been outdone.
This is a pretty clear attacking versus grappler match. With both men in their late 30s, a wrestling chore seems more likely than an always crisp technical battle. In general, Elkins does a great job forcing his opponents to adopt his grueling grappling style of match, even if it is in their best interests to do something else.
He’ll likely take a few hits in the process, but once Elkins hits the top spot, he’ll stay there.
Prediction: Elkins via decision
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 45 fight map here, starting with the ESPN + ‘Preliminary’ matches, which are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining primary card balance (also on ESPN +) at 7 p.m. ET.
For the latest and greatest news and ratings from UFC Vegas 45: “Lewis vs. Daukaus,” be sure to check out our full event archive. here.