UFC Vegas 73: Dern vs. Hill Main Card Predictions

Tomorrow night, the UFC returns to Las Vegas, Nevada for a twelve-bout Fight Night card out of the UFC Apex facility.

Ranked Strawweights throw down in the main event as jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern faces off with the always-game Angela Hill. In the co-main event, Edmen Shahbazyan and Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez are set to meet in a Middleweight contest unlikely to see the final bell.

Elsewhere on the main card is Joaquin Buckley’s debut at Welterweight along with Michael Johnson returning against Carlos Diego Ferreira.

Mackenzie Dern (12-3) vs. Angela Hill (15-12) (SW)

While I was devastated to not see this live on the UFC Charlotte card, it is a fantastic stylistic battle for a five-round main event. Dern, an ADCC and IBJJF world champion, had repeatedly demonstrated her elite grappling skills while showing her heart and improving striking in largely stand-up affairs with Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan. Hill is on a two-fight win streak, claiming back-to-back decisions over Lupita Godinez and Emily Ducote. “Overkill” is an elite Muay Thai practitioner with a ridiculous output of nearly six significant strikes per minute in the Octagon and will be looking to keep the fight standing. Hill has the speed, timing, and striking variety to comfortably a fight if it stays standing, but Dern will not need long to finish this fight if he hits the mat, as Hill has been submitted twice in her pro career and can get stuck in bottom position. While Dern is certainly as good as they come of a BJJ practitioner, she does not have those same credentials in wrestling and it shows in her 11% takedown accuracy. Hill has displayed clear improvements in her wrestling and submission defense in recent bouts, even in a losing effort to BJJ ace Virna Jandiroba (who is much more of a TD artist than Dern). I see Hill sprawling and withstanding an early surge from Dern before landing volume in the later rounds for a dominant decision victory.

My Pick: Angela Hill via Decision

Edmen Shahbazyan (12-3) vs. Anthony Hernandez (10-2) (MW)

We have a barn burner of a Middleweight match here in our co-main and I would be pretty surprised to see it go to the scorecards. Edmen Shahbazyan’s hype train was well off the rails after three straight losses including two G&P TKOs, but rebounded in his last outing with a flying knee knockout of Dalcha Lungiambula after changing training camps. Hernandez, meanwhile, is on a three-fight tear with two submission victories, scoring sixteen combined takedowns in just his last two bouts. I expect a chaotic first round, as Fluffy pursues takedowns and pocket exchanges with reckless abandon, while Edmen’s quick kickboxing is deadliest in the opening round. While Hernandez has a path to victory on the mat, I see Shahbazyan’s improved defensive wrestling keeping this on the feet, where he takes advantage of Hernandez’s durability issues for another quick finish.

My Pick: Edmen Shahbazyan via Knockout

Emily Ducote (12-7) vs. Lupita Godinez (9-3) (120-lb. Catchweight)

We have a close matchup here and a fun stylistic clash to go along with it. Ducote displayed her high-level striking in her debut against Jessica Penne, keeping a high volume and even going toe to toe with Angela Hill on the feet in her subsequent loss. Godinez has sharp boxing but really shines with her top-notch wrestling, averaging almost four takedowns per fifteen minutes in the cage. This fight likely comes down to how well Godinez can implement her top control and keep Ducote from getting ahead on the striking numbers. However, I expect Ducote’s top-notch takedown defense and recovery to keep this bout primarily on the feet, with Ducote edging a narrow decision.

My Pick: Emily Ducote via Decision

Andre Fialho (16-6) vs. Joaquin Buckley (15-6) (WW)

Expect fireworks here. Both of these knockout artists love being in a bar room brawl and have seen a decision just eight times across their combined 43 pro MMA fights. Buckley is dropping down to Welterweight here and is now in a division more suited to his frame, previously facing stark reach disadvantages in his Middleweight tenure. I expect Fialho to come out fast and heavy as he usually does, with Buckley’s technical striking and shot selection at range finding more and more success the longer the fight goes. I could see this going much like Buckley’s fight with Curtis with Buckley landing the better combos before getting floored but a big shot, but I see Buckley staying at range and avoiding the early storm for a late finish.

My Pick: Joaquin Buckley via Knockout

Michael Johnson (21-18) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (17-5) (LW)

While I wouldn’t call this a smash spot for the 38-year-old Ferreira, he has all the tools to get his hand raised here. He is the much more consistent takedown artist and has excellent scrambling ability on the mat. Even on the feet, Ferreira is sharper with his leg kicks and keeps a high defensive rate, piecing together long combos in the pocket. Although there is a chance for Johnson to find the KO shot, I like CDF to find a late submission or dominant win on the scorecards.

My Pick: Carlos Diego Ferreira via Decision

Click right here to check out the prelims predictions!

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