After two weeks away from the cage, the Octagon will make its triumphant return to the UFC Apex with UFC Vegas 37.
This Fight Night event is filled to the brim with fifteen fights, topped off with a ranked Light Heavyweight bout between Anthony Smith and Ryan Spann. The co-main also features 205 pounders, as Devin Clark faces off with the always aggressive Ion Cutelaba.
Anthony Smith vs. Ryan Spann (LHW)
Anthony Smith (35-16, 10-6 UFC) has gotten back on the right track in recent performances, scoring first round stoppages over the likes of Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute. These victories interrupted two straight losses to future title challengers such as Glover Teixeira and Aleksander Rakic. “Lionheart” is no stranger to the knockout, with an astounding nineteen’s wins in that fashion on his record. Two of his LHW wins came through knockouts within the first two minutes of the match. On top of dangerous striking, Smith has great submission potential, although not always carrying the wrestling threat to get it there. Smith has shown issues with his pacing and striking defense, but always presents a dangerous offensive threat, particularly in the first two rounds.
After choking out PFL Light Heavyweight champion Emiliano Sordi on the Contender Series, Ryan Spann (19-6, 5-1 UFC) blasted into the UFC rankings with four straight victories, only to be knocked out after a strong start against Johnny Walker. He got back on track in his next outing, knocking out Misha Cirkunov in just over a minute. “Superman” has finished all but three of his wins, with eleven submissions on his record. His specialty is certainly his guillotine, which has earned him seven of those submissions and serve as an excellent counter to the wrestling and takedowns. His hulking 6’5″ build is best used when Spann can keep the fight at range and he has proven to have technical boxing, as well as improved power and cardio since his move up to 205 pounds. Spann has been against top competition for a while and his cardio issues have been on the table for a while, plaguing him in his bout against Sam Alvey when he was able to be lulled into pocket exchanges.
This is a fantastic clash of well rounded and efficient finishers, who can find success on the mat or while standing. I find Smith to take the advantage on the feet, with a higher strike versatility and slightly better striking defense, though neither is particularly adept in that arena. In fact, that is precisely why this bout makes for such a great fight, as one of them is bound to hit the canvas with the relentless output of offense from both sides. On the mat, Spann claims the advantage in wrestling while Smith poses a more various submission threat. I expect this fight to be a wild scrap, and I honestly have no clue what will happen, but I expect Smith to take the advantage through his durability and experience.
My Pick: Anthony Smith via Knockout
Ion Cutelaba vs. Devin Clark (LHW)
Ion Cutelaba (15-6-1, 4-5-1 UFC) has long been one of my favorite fighters in a fun division, as he is always down for a brawl. Before coming to the UFC, he had only seen one fight go to the second round and he has replicated that success in the world’s greatest proving ground, earning three of his four UFC wins by violent first round knockout. He has unreal power at Light Heavyweight and great foundational wrestling, especially in scrambles. He has a Greco-Roman and Combat Sambo background and is immensely powerful on the feet and the mat. However, his chief issue has consistently been his gas tank and wearing himself out too early with his surging pressure. If you can withstand a furious first round, you have a good shot to win against Cutelaba.
Coming off a first round submission loss to headliner Anthony Smith, Devin Clark (12-5, 6-5 UFC) is looking to push himself into the rankings with a win over a fan favorite. His control-based wrestling front takes center stage in his victories, as he is yet to earn a finish in the UFC. His striking is primarily a setup for the takedowns, as Clark seeks to dominate the fight from bell to bell and grind his opponent down. “The Brown Bear” has shown some striking improvement in recent bouts, hurting Alonzo Menifield in their back-and-forth battle. Clark’s primary issue is his lack of immediate danger compared to others in the Light Heavyweight division, lacking the explosive power or finishing chops to quickly turn the tide when losing.
These match is basically a steamroll in my eyes. Clark’s best wins have come through hi being able to engage with his wrestling and dirty boxing, dragging the fight into a gritty area. With that said, his durability has been a weakness as of late, with his striking defense being a consistent downside to his game. Not only does Cutelaba has the freakish punching power to take advantage of the lapses in Clark’s chin, but he also brings the Greco-Roman background capable of keeping the fight on the feet. In short, Cutelaba marches forward slinging bombs and defending takedowns until Clark falls.
My Pick: Ion Cutelaba via Knockout
Mandy Bohm vs. Ariane Lipski (FLW)
My Pick: Mandy Bohm via Knockout
Christos Giagos vs. Arman Tsarukyan (LW)
My Pick: Arman Tsarukyan via Decision
Nate Maness vs. Tony Gravely (BW)
My Pick: Tony Gravely via Decision
Joaquin Buckley vs. Antonio Arroyo (MW)
My Pick: Joaquin Buckley via Knockout
Before the main card kicks off at 7 PM EST, there are seven prelim fights to get into, all broadcast on ESPN+!
Categories: UFC Predictions