UFC Vegas 22 Prelim Predictions

Flyweight: JP Buys vs. Bruno Silva

JP Buys (9-2, 0-0 UFC) is a 24-year-old prospect fighting out of Fortis MMA. The South African-born Buys is the former flyweight and bantamweight champion in the South African promotion EFC. We last saw him in action getting a first-round submission win on week 10 of the Contender Series 2020 season. While the result wasn’t without controversy, it went in the books as a win, and Buys captured a UFC contract. In terms of skills, Buys has shown some fantastic wrestling and top control. He is excellent at flowing from position to position and mixing in ground and pound to advance position. He is currently on a five-fight win streak, all finishes.

Bruno Silva (10-5-2, 0-2-1 UFC ) is a Brazilian fighter training out of Fight Ready MMA. He has had a rough start in the UFC, coming up winless in three showings. It’s not for lack of trying, though. Silva usually comes out quick, throwing heat with his punches and kicks. He’ll even throw some spinning shit. His skillset is unusual for a flyweight because he is a power striker in a division based on activity and technique.

This contest should be a good fight to get JP Buys’ foot in the door to the UFC. He will have to be cautious when this bout is on the feet because Silva’s power will be a clear and present threat. That said, wrestling continues to be a weak point in Silva’s game, and that’s precisely the area where Buys has earned his current five-fight win streak.

Pick: JP Buys.

*Bantamweight: Julia Avila vs. Julija Stoliarenko

Jula Avila (8-2, 2-1 UFC) is an athlete out of Oklahoma Martial Arts Academy. Her base art for MMA is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but she has put together some formidable striking. Avila has some great power for the weight class, and she isn’t afraid to swarm if she feels her opponent is hurt. Avila’s jab/cross is particularly effective. A common issue for Avila is crowding her punches and getting caught up in a clinch when her opponents retreat to the fence. Her clinch striking is pretty solid as well. Avila can often fit in sharp elbows and impactful knees when she has her opponents against the cage. On the floor, Avila is powerful on top, but she also has a pretty slick guard. Looking to her most recent showing against Eubanks, Avila threw up numerous submissions, and she came close a few times.

Julija Stoliarenko (9-4-1, 0-2 UFC) is a Lithuanian fighter who trains out of Fighter House. Stoliarenko is a rare breed as she is willing to pull guard in modern MMA, and she does it with regularity. It makes sense, though, because she has armbar finishes in six of her nine wins. Her striking game is pretty good too, but Stoliarenko would never be mistaken for a power-striker. She is good at throwing combinations and mixing in kicks as well. She’s tough too, having competed in Luthwei (look it up and be amazed).

While Avila will have to stay wary of the submission threat of Stoliarenko, I think she’ll win this one. She is the bigger, stronger athlete. Her striking is better and more impactful. Avila will need to avoid being pulled into the clinch if she hurts Stoliarenko. All in all, Avila is the favorite for a reason.

Pick: Julia Avila.

*This bout has been cancelled due to Stoliarenko weight cutting issues.

Bantamweight: Montel Jackson vs. Jesse Strader

Montel Jackson (9-2, 3-2 UFC) is an athlete out of Pura Vida BJJ/MMA in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has a wrestling base, but he has steadily worked on his striking game throughout his almost three-year UFC stint. Jackson has some long punches, and he can wing some uppercuts and hooks along the fenceline. That said, he gets a bit reckless in a brawl. Make no mistake, though; he will be looking to wrestle at some point. He doesn’t possess the most outstanding ground control, but he can be grindy when he needs to. He’s a talented young fighter, and he’s a hell of a test for the debuting Stader. Jackson is tall for the weight class and constantly developing his game.

Jesse Stader (5-1-0, 0-0 UFC) fights out of SoCal Fight Factory and is making his UFC debut. He is coming off of a pair of knockout finishes in the Combate Americas cage. Strader has decent wrestling, but the star of the show is his boxing. Strader has some tremendous hand speed, and he is excellent at throwing hooks to the body and then coming up to the head. His last stoppage was a result of just that kind of work. He will have a tough out on Saturday if he allows the fight to get away from him. He will have to be aggressive and forward-moving against his taller opponent, Jackson.

Montel Jackson should win this bout. He is longer, more experienced in MMA in general, and has five bouts at the UFC level under his belt. If the two men start exchanging in boxing range, that is exactly what Strader is looking for. Jackson will have to stay either at his maximum boxing/kicking range or all the way in to use his wrestling, an area Strader is not used to being pushed in inside the cage.

Pick: Montel Jackson.

Middleweight: Trevin Giles vs. Roman Dolidze

Trevin Giles (13-2, 4-2 UFC) is a mixed martial artist out of W4R Training Center in Houston, Texas. He is riding a two-fight win streak, and he is looking to make it three against a highly hyped prospect in Dolidze. Giles is good everywhere but is known to fade late and be vulnerable to submissions. Of his two professional losses, both are submissions, and both are in the third round. That said, he seems to have fixed his conditioning issue, and he looked as quick and powerful as ever in his most recent bout against Bevon Lewis. Giles’ best weapons are his jab, his cross, and his overhand hooks. His boxing is crisp, and his head movement is fantastic.

Roman Dolidze (8-0, 2-0 UFC) is a Ukrainian martial artist who has seen a very positive start to his UFC career. This undefeated combat athlete is a finisher, with three submissions and four knockouts. His last UFC showing was a split decision over John Allan, where we saw some possible holes in the game of Dolidze. The primary issue for Dolidze is his conditioning. While being a finisher is excellent (especially when successful), constantly looking for a finish will wear most fighters out throughout a fight. To be successful against the more experienced Giles, Dolidze will need to stay patient and avoid gassing out. That said, his specialty, his grappling, is where Giles has faltered.

Pick: Roman Dolidze.

Lightweight: Grant Dawson vs. Leonardo Santos

Grant Dawson (16-4, 4-0 UFC) is an athlete out of Glory MMA and Fitness. He has been perfect inside the UFC Octagon thus far, and he’s done it with a heavy grappling style supported by decent striking. That said, whatever striking he does possess is in service of his grappling, which he looks to implement as soon as possible. This bout against Santos should prove to be an exciting test because Santos is an experienced submission threat inside the Octagon. Hopefully, Dawson is prepared to strike in this one, but if he can out grapple Nova Uniao’s Santos, it would be a clue as to just how great Dawson can be.

Leonardo Santos (18-3-1, 7-0-1 UFC) is also perfect in the UFC or undefeated. The 41-year-old Brazilian athlete has been a dark horse of the lightweight division since his failed run on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 2. Santos has put together a fantastic overall game that has caused him to be as much a threat on the floor as he is on his feet. He is equipped with the skills to derail the hype train of Dawson. Santos has shown solid boxing, accurate clinch striking, and a world-class grappling game. It will be interesting to see if age has finally caught up with Santos. The major flaw in his game is that he fades throughout the fight, and he is often willing to accept the bottom position to rest.

Call me crazy, but I’m going with experience over youth. Santos hasn’t given me any reason to doubt him thus far in his UFC run, but Dawson is talented, and it should be a tough fight either way.

Pick: Leonardo Santos.

Bantamweight: Marion Reneau vs. Macy Chiasson

Marion Reneau (9-6-1, 5-5-1 UFC) is a fighter out of Visalia, California, with Team Rhino Elite. She is winless since 2018 and has lost three in a row. She needs a victory here if she wants to continue to be employed by Dana and the Gang. Reneau is also fighting to keep her top-10 ranking. While Reneau is in a tough spot career-wise, she should prove a good test for Chiasson, who may have difficulty striking in this bout. Reneau is a good striker when it comes to power and combinations. Her jab is good, and her kicks are better. She struggles in wrestling, especially in the clinch.

Macy Chiasson (6-1, 4-1 UFC) is an athlete out of Fortis MMA in Dallas, Texas. She has turned an Ultimate Fighter championship into a budding UFC career that has only seen her falter once. Chiasson is tall for the weight class at 5’11”, but she likes the fight in close so she can use her knees and elbows. Either in the open or against the fence, Chiasson is looking to use these clinch strikes. If she can, Chiasson likes to take opponents down, but she doesn’t need to due to her aforementioned clinch striking. Her striking from the outside has been a bit sloppy, and she hasn’t shown the best head movement or striking defense.

Pick: Macy Chiasson.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights! Check out the main card predictions by clicking here!

If you’d like to keep up with me outside of the predictions, you can catch me on the Sparring Partners Podcast, either on YouTube or Spotify.

Feel free to reach out in the comments below!

Categories: UFC Predictions

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