After a red-hot PPV card to kick off July, we are back at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas with a fun Fight Night card!
In the main event, top-ranked Lightweights Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev will battle it out in a clash brewing violence, while Caio Borralho and Armen Petrosyan face off in a match of Middleweight prospects!
Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev (LW)
Rafael Dos Anjos (31-13, 20-11 UFC) returned to the Lightweight division where he secured gold after going 1-4 in his last five bouts. He put on a five-round showcase, scoring a decision over Paul Felder. When Fiziev fell out of their UFC 272 fight, Dos Anjos faced off with Renato Moicano, winning another decision. RDA has amazing striking, great jiu-jitsu, and the cardio to keep those elements of his game going as long as needed. He has gone to many five-round decisions and can easily keep that pace, but I think his submission skills are seriously underrated, having taken home ten wins with various subs in his arsenal. He is able to control position on the mat or finish the fight, as well as having slick boxing and leg kicks.
Kyrgyzstani Rafael Fiziev (11-1, 5-1 UFC) emerged in the UFC with a perfect 6-0 record, only to have it quickly ended by a Magomed Mustafaev spinning kick. “Ataman” rebounded with two decisions over Alex White and Marc Diakese, proving he has the chops for the world’s top organization. He then knocked out Renato Moicano in the first round and emerged victorious over Bobby Green in a Fight of the Night war to extend his win streak to four. His most impressive victory came in his last appearance, knocking out former teammate Brad Riddell in the third round with a spinning wheel kick. As the striking coach at the renowned Tiger Muay Thai camp, Fiziev is about as elite of a Muay Thai striker as you can get, moving forward while hopping and feinting to provide no shortage of looks for his opponents. Fiziev has fantastic head movement and shot evasion, but can really on that too much at times. His grappling is primarily used to keep it on the feet, but he has shown glimpses of offensive skill there, but there isn’t much tape on that with six of his wins coming inside the first round.
This is great matchmaking, with the well-rounded veteran in RDA taking on a certifiable specialist in Fiziev. RDA has the more proven skillset in the Octagon, with hours of fight time to draw on. Meanwhile, Fiziev takes home the most clear advantage of the fight with his striking technique and power. His Sambo background also leaves me believing this will play out on the feet, where he has an advantage. His gas tank is still unproven, so I expect RDA to start taking over in the latter half if Fiziev cannot find the finish. For my money, he does.
My Pick: Rafael Fiziev via Knockout
Caio Borralho vs. Armen Petrosyan (MW)
Caio Borralho (11-2, 1-0 UFC) emerged as one of the stars of Contender Series 2021, claiming two victories and a first-round knockout to secure his UFC contract. He continued that success with a unanimous technical decision over Gadzhi Omarghadziev in his UFC debut. Borralho is immensely well-rounded, with technical striking and positional grappling. His defense is most impressive, with a 65% strike absorption rate. “The Natural” holds seven stoppages to his name, with four by way of knockout.
Armen Petrosyan (7-1 1-0 UFC) immediately drew eyes when added to the Contender Series roster, and delivered with an emphatic knockout of Kaloyan Kolev. Brother of elite kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan, Armen has a similar striking specialty. He has a wild offensive volume and thunderous power, landing over 120 strikes in his UFC debut opposite Gregory Rodrigues. However wild he may be on the feet, he is defensively sound as well, with slick head movement. He is most susceptible on the mat, with middling takedown defense.
The UFC brass is pitting up two Contender Series products, and it is an amazing test for both fighters. Borralho is a different beast, as well-rounded as they come. Meanwhile, Petrosyan is truly a striking elite, with the ability to catch anyone with a knockout shot. While Petrosyan may be more dangerous with one shot, Borralho’s technical resume far exceeds the Armenian. Expect Borralho to dominate on the mat en route to a quick tap.
My Pick: Caio Borralho via Submission
Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Said Nurmagomedov (BW)
Douglas Silva de Andrade (28-4, 6-4 UFC) made his Octagon debut on the heels of a 22-fight unbeaten streak over under qualified competition. That said, he has gone up against some real killers in his UFC tenure, proving that his high octane striking can yield positive results. He is currently riding a two-fight win streak, claiming finishes over Gaetano Pirrello and Sergey Morozov. “D’Silva” has twenty career knockouts, including a highlight reel spinning backfist over Henry Briones.
Said Nurmagomedov (15-2, 4-1 UFC) made an immediate impact in the UFC with two straight wins including a bonus-winning knockout over Ricardo Ramos. He suffered a decision loss to Raoni Barcelos but rebounded with two first-round stoppages. His most recent outing saw him snatch up a guillotine against Cody Stamann in just over forty-five seconds, showcasing his offensive threat. “Cousin” to Khabib, Said has a Sambo background but does his best work on the feet. He is a dynamic striker with a love for spinning takedowns, along with mixing in beautiful trip takedowns. He has finished eight of his pro wins, evenly split between knockout and submission.
While this will certainly be an action-packed fight, Nurmagomedov holds nearly all the advantages, save power. His striking is more accurate and technical, while holding a superior defensive rate. On the mat, Andrade is also outgunned, with the slick trips and positioning of Said giving him the upper hand in offense and defense. I expect Andrade to storm forward and try to land power shots in the pocket, but the volume and footwork of Nurmagomedov to edge out on the judges’ scorecards.
My Pick: Said Nurmagomedov via Decision
Jared Vanderaa vs. Chase Sherman (HW)
I am unsure why this bout received the main card billing, with contracts on the line for both fighters. Chase Sherman (15-10, 3-9 UFC) is winless in his last four and only resigned with the UFC because he was willing to take a short-notice bout. Jared Vanderaa (12-8, 1-4 UFC) found about the same middling success since making his way to the UFC, dropping his last three appearances. Both fighters are wild strikers without much regard for defense. However, Sherman remains the crisper boxer and has superior one-shot power. Meanwhile, Vanderaa has dominant top control and certainly holds the edge on the mat. This is a tough fight to predict, as both fighters have similar holes in their game. However, I think Vanderaa uses superior grappling to take home a ground and pound stoppage.
My Pick: Jared Vanderaa via Knockout
Michael Johnson vs. Jamie Mullarkey (LW)
We have an exciting clash of strikers kicking off the main card. Michael Johnson (20-17, 12-13 UFC) came up with his back against the wall, scoring a highlight reel KO over Alan Patrick. The TUF Season 12 finalist is a high-level striker, with great speed and one-shot knockout power. However, his grappling defense is lacking and he often lacks the consistency to put together a win streak. Jamie Mullarkey (14-5, 2-3 UFC) stumbled out the UFC gate with decision defeats to Brad Riddell and Fares Ziam, the former earning Fight of the Night Honors. He rebounded with two knockout victories but was finished in the second round by the surging Jalin Turner in his last outing. Mullarkey is durable and aggressive, willing to bang it out in the pocket. While he is well-rounded and has stopped all but one of his victories, he finds his most success standing. This is an early candidate for Fight of the Night, as both are likely to stand and bang. While inconsistent, Johnson has advantages in speed, power, and experience. Unless he shoots himself in the foot, I expect him to cruise to a one-sided decision standing.
My Pick: Michael Johnson via Decision
The card kicks off at 6 PM EST, and don’t miss the live coverage on Fight Night here on FightFreaks.com!
Categories: UFC Predictions
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