UFC San Diego Main Card Predictions: Vera vs. Cruz

The UFC is back on the road this weekend, traveling to San Diego, California for a twelve-bout Fight Night card!

In the main event, all-action Bantamweight Marlon Vera takes on former champion Dominick Cruz in his hometown with a top-ranked spot on the line. The co-main pits Alexa Grasso against Viviane Araujo in a clash of ranked Flyweights looking to make a statement.

Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz (BW)

Marlon Vera (21-7-1, 13-6 UFC) made headlines by scoring a stoppage victory over Sean O’Malley, taking his undefeated record in the process. Though he suffered a decision loss to Jose Aldo in his next bout, “Chito” has rattled off three straight, most recently winning a five-round decision over Rob Font. Vera is a finisher by trade, with eighteen stoppages including ten on the mat. He has a diverse striking attack and loves to brawl, but displayed his technical acumen against Font over twenty-five minutes. Chito is dangerous from top or bottom on the mat, but does favor submission over position and can put himself in risky situations. Vera’s defense does present holes, absorbing a high number of strikes with decent takedown defense.

After losing his title to Cody Garbrandt, Dominick Cruz (24-3, 7-2 UFC) did not appear in the Octagon for over three years. He returned as a short-notice replacement against Henry Cejudo but suffered a knockout loss in the second round. “The Dominator” secured two straight decisions since, most recently over Pedro Munhoz after suffering an early knockdown. Cruz is as well-rounded as they come with excellent bases in both boxing and wrestling. On the feet, he has iconic footwork, managing distance expertly while constantly changing angles. He is a potent wrestler, chaining takedowns together with great scrambling. Cruz has eight career stoppages, with seven by way of knockout.

We are in store for an excellent matchup in the main event, between two all-action fighters with great cardio. Vera is on a surge as of late, showing sensational striking technique in recent performances. Cruz has been on the wrong end of the injury bug in recent years but displayed great durability and fight IQ against Munhoz. I give Chito an edge striking, especially as Cruz gets up there in age. However, the wrestling of Cruz is being slept on here. He has excellent takedown entries and maintains top position well, staying active with ground and pound. That looks poised to exploit the porous takedown defense of Vera, who is too content looking for submissions off his back. The pick is Cruz to win a close decision, edging out narrow striking exchanges with top control.

My Pick: Dominick Cruz via Decision

Nate Landwehr vs. David Onama (FTW)

Nate Landwehr (15-4, 2-2 UFC) came to the UFC with some fanfare as the M-1 Global champion but suffered a first-round knockout in his first appearance opposite Herbert Burns. He went 1-1 in his next two, defeating Darren Elkins before suffering another knockout loss to Julian Erosa. He picked up his first UFC stoppage in his last outing, scoring a third-round arm-triangle over L’udovit Klein. “The Train” has a fast-paced striking style but not much regard for defense, absorbing his fair share of punishment when rushing into the pocket. He has wrestling in his back pocket but prefers to keep the fight standing.

David Onama (10-1, 2-1 UFC) impressed in his short-notice UFC debut, though he dropped a competitive decision to Mason Jones. He rebounded with two straight stoppages, knocking out Gabriel Benitez before submitting Garrett Armfield. Fighting out Glory MMA under James Krause, “Silent Assassin” has a number of skills in his arsenal. His striking is technical and powerful, and he moves his head off the center line well. On the mat, he has powerful takedown attacks and a good body lock, with a powerful top game. Onama has stopped all of his pro wins, with six by knockout.

I am super excited for this bout as it promises to be madness for however long it lasts. Landwehr is not a fighter who put a lot of emphasis upon defense, and will rush into the pocket in order to trade hands. He keeps a high volume and can deal real damage but his path to victory here is on the mat. Onama has massive advantages in strike selection and power, and I expect him to find the chin of Landwehr if the fight stays on the feet. Nate has some nice wrestling, but the takedown defense and scrambling of Onama should keep this on the feet. Expect a wild striking affair before Onama finds the kill shot.

My Pick: David Onama via Knockout

Yazmin Juaregui vs. Iasmin Lucindo (SW)

We have an odd booking here, with two debuting fighters in our featured bout. Yazmin Juaregui (8-0) has surged through the Mexican regional scene, claiming the Combate Global Strawweight title. She trains out of Entram Gym with the likes of Brandon Moreno, bringing in a well-rounded style. Boxing is the focus of her game, with excellent combos and six knockout wins to her name. Iasmin Lucindo (13-4) is also a finisher, scoring ten stoppages and eight knockouts in her pro career. Lucindo has precise Muay Thai and mixes up her attack well with a jiu-jitsu threat. I expect this fight to stay standing and for Juaregui to hold a clear striking advantage, especially inside the pocket, taking over down the stretch for a decision win.

My Pick: Yazmin Juaregui via Decision

Devin Clark vs. Azamat Murzakanov (LHW)

Devin Clark got back on track this year, scoring a knockout win over William Knight, his first UFC stoppage to date. “Brown Bear” is a powerful wrestler with dominant top control. He also brings in a high pace on the feet, though his striking defense presents a number of holes. A Contender Series stoppage brought Azamat Murzakanov to the UFC. He looked poised to take home a decision win over Tafon Nchukwi, before knocking him out with a flying knee. “The Professional” has a Combat Sambo base with a diverse attack, dominant from top position or on the feet. I expect this bout to play out standing, as Azamat has the takedown defense to deny Clark’s typical path to victory. While Azamat’s volume could be higher, he has the power and precision to put the lights on on the exposed chin of Clark.

My Pick: Azamat Murzakanov via Knockout

Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira (BW)

Note: This bout was postponed from last week’s card and has been moved up to 135 pounds.

Ariane Lipski (14-7, 3-4 UFC) came to the UFC with a decent amount of hype from Polish organization KSW. Though she dropped two decisions in her first two Octagon bouts, she rebounded with a decision over Isabela Padua before snatching up a bonus-winning kneebar on Luana Carolina. She suffered two consecutive TKO losses to Antonina Shevchenko and Montana De La Rosa, but got back on track with a decision victory over Mandy Bohm last September. “Queen of Violence” has a hard-charging style, with constant output, though her defense is lacking. While she can threaten with submissions on the mat, her offensive and defensive wrestling leave much to be desired. Six of her nine stoppages have come by knockout.

After a 0-3 start to her UFC tenure, Priscila Cachoeira (11-4, 3-4 UFC) looked to be on her way out. Un deterred, she picked up two straight knockout victories, including a forty second demolition of Shana Dobson, to secure her place in the promotion. “Zombie Girl” is 1-1 since, last seen taking home a unanimous decision over Ji Yeon Kim. Her nickname is a fit descriptor, as Cachoeira marches forward with little regard for the damage she is taking. She dishes out heavy strikes, holding six wins by knockout. Her grappling is quite limited, offering little to no offense off of her back.

These fighters may not be the cream of the crop at Flyweight, but this looks to be a wild, if not sloppy, back-and-forth. Both fighters prefer to swang and bang with little regard for defense, and I would not be surprised to see this fight end in a knockout. While Cachoeira keeps a higher volume, she absorbs way more strikes, and I expect the technical superiority of Lipski to have a clear volume advantage if she can keep her back off the cage. Lipski also has the much more aggressive grappling offense and holds an edge on the mat. With a technical advantage and more paths to victory, I expect Lipski to either snatch up a submission or clear decision win.

My Pick: Ariane Lipski via Decision

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bruno Silva (MW)

Gerald Meerschaert (34-15, 9-7 UFC) has become a fan favorite as of late with his penchant for comeback submissions. He scored three straight stoppage wins in 2021 before suffering a decision loss in his last outing to Krzysztof Jotko. GM3 has slick jiu-jitsu and can latch onto a submission from anywhere, though his striking defense is quite porous. Bruno Silva (22-7, 3-1 UFC) had his UFC debut delayed following a failed drug test, but quickly picked up three knockout victories before suffering a decision loss to Alex Pereira. “Blindado” has an aggressive Muay Thai style, constantly looking for a knockout blow. He has good defensive wrestling and great strike diversity, holding nineteen wins by knockout. This is a stout stylistic clash, with GM3 certainly looking to get the fight to the mat and Blindado trying to stay standing. Meerschaert’s wrestling entries are limited, and I see Blindado keeping space and closing the show early.

My Pick: Bruno Silva via Knockout

The card kicks off at 4 PM EST on EST, with twelve fights currently set for the ESPN+ card!

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