UFC Vegas 54 Predictions – MMA Fights

UFC Vegas 54 Predictions – MMA Fights

Jan Blachowicz is arguably the most unlikely champion in UFC history. Is it possible for him to make an even more unlikely run back to the top?

The No. 4 light heavyweight in MMA Fighting’s global rankings gets his chance to prove he’s still a contender when he takes on No. 6 Aleksandar Rakic ​​in Saturday’s UFC Vegas 54 main event. This is Blachowicz’s first fight since losing his championship to Glover Teixeira in October and while it would be easy to count him at the age of 39, he has made a career of taking chances and those wins over Israel Adesanya, Dominick Reyes and Corey Anderson aren’t that far away in the back view.

Not that Blachowicz’s résumé should mean even an iota to Rakic. Aside from a questionable split-decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir, the Austrian 205er has looked like a surefire title challenger around the world, and a dominant performance against Blachowicz will cement his case, next in line for the winner of the upcoming UFC 275- Title fight to be Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka. Rakic ​​has already defeated previous title challengers and now he gets the opportunity to take down a former champion.

Other main action sees light heavyweights Ryan Spann and Ion Cutelaba clash in the penultimate bout of the night, veteran bantamweights Davey Grant and Louis Smolka clash, former UFC title challenger Katlyn Chookagian meets strawweight Amanda Ribas in a flyweight bout, Frank Camacho returns from a nearly two-year layoff to fight lightweight newcomer Manuel Torres, and flyweight Jake Hadley makes his UFC debut against Allan Nascimento.

What: UFC Vegas54

From where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas

When: Saturday May 14th. The preliminary five-fight card begins on ESPN and ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by a six-fight main card on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET.

(Numbers in parentheses indicate standing MMA Fighting Global Rankings)

Jan Blachowicz (4) vs. Aleksandar Rakic ​​(6)

Jan Blachowicz can certainly not shock us all again.

I’m notoriously bad at judging Blachowicz fights (of his last six games, I only correctly predicted he would beat Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza), but once again I’m confidently voting against him. In Rakic ​​​​he has an opponent nine years his junior who is at his peak physically and playfully.

Rakic ​​has worked hard to show how well rounded his game is after joining the UFC with a reputation as a batting specialist. He uses his impressive 6’5 frame to create advantageous grappling situations while still posing the threat of landing a knockout shot at any moment. Fans might not like the more methodical style he employs as he works his way through the division’s top 10, but Rakic ​​wins fights and doesn’t take much damage in the process.

I think Rakic’s maturity is just what he needs to get past Blachowicz, an equally versatile fighter who enjoys a good fight. Blachowicz knows his best shot at beating the younger Rakic ​​is to drag him into his fight, push him out of his comfort zone and test if he’s truly a master.

I’m optimistic that Rakic ​​will be in contention for a title sooner rather than later, so I expect him to get over that particular hump and do so impressively. Rakic ​​by knockout in the second round.

Choose: rakic

Ryan Spann vs. Ion Cutelaba

First off, let’s be clear that this is not an Alexander K. Lee sanctioned co-main event. Neither fighter has a rank (Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas really should have gotten that spot based on merit), there are no implications for a title contender, and neither marquee name is far from the imagination. That said, a fun fight to take us into the main event!

The reason Ryan Spann and Ion Cutelaba were booked in this plum spot is the potential for sweet, sweet mayhem, and I expect them to deliver. Spann will hit Cutelaba in the middle and throw his hands out, so keep an eye out for both men to eat some hard shots. Cutelaba will draw first blood and rock Spann, but “Superman” should have the steel to stay in the fight.

I don’t usually like to get so specific with predictions, but I can’t shake the image of Cutelaba pursuing a target, charging headfirst into Spann’s arms, and being delivered by a guillotine choke. It would be a very sweet way for him to lose this fight.

Choose: span

Davey Grant Ludwig Smolka

This one will either end up in the first or be a frontrunner in the fight of the night, and I’m leaning towards the former. There’s a good chance that Davey Grant and Louis Smolka will add another bantamweight barnburner to a list that’s growing exponentially every year, but I actually like it when Grant hits the bottom here.

It cannot be said enough how talented Smolka is and how disappointing his results can be at times. He’s an elite finisher whose aggression can get the best of him, and we’ve seen him suffer some ugly first-round losses over the past few years. Grant is a great matchup for him, but also another opponent that could quickly take him down.

It’s been a pleasure to watch Grant since he’s embraced a free-swinging style, but I expect he’ll break out his dormant submission skills for this one. As great as clubbing is, clubbing is even more fun and under So look for Grant to calm the fight after a frantic opening and catch Smolka in the standup. From there, he’ll grab a neck and force a first-round tap.

Choose: Grant

VfL Bochum versus 1. FC Union Berlin Amanda Ribas (8, SW)

It’s cool that Amanda Ribas decided to take this as a diligent fight after missing a chance to face Michelle Waterson in March, but it’s no fun fighting Katlyn Chookagian like the ever-cheerful Brazilian soon will find out. She gives Chookagian a lot of size, which will make it difficult for her to grapple and find her best way to create an upset.

Chookagian faced a similar circumstance a few years ago when she welcomed Jessica Andrade to flyweight, but Ribas doesn’t have the terrifying power of Andrade nor the sheer physicality needed to bully Chookagian. I see this a lot more like the typical Chookagian fight as she uses her reach to frustrate Ribas and outpoint her.

Whether Ribas can keep this fight to the ground for an extended period of time is another story, but Chookagian has faced many strong grapplers and, apart from the inimitable Valentina Shevchenko, none of them have imposed their will on her in this way. This should be another crucial win for the top gatekeeper in the 125-pound division.

Choose: Chookagian

Frank Camacho vs Manuel Torres

Round of applause for Frank Camacho, who is returning from a UFC 263 duel with Matt Frevola after a car accident last June. It’s been almost two years since we saw “The Crank” throw down and it’s always fun to watch.

It’s a tough decision as Camacho has a huge experience advantage over 27-year-old Manuel Torres, who was recently eliminated from the Contender Series from Mexico. However, Torres has looked legit throughout his recent three-fight win streak and has shown that he knows how to use his slim frame effectively when hitting and engaging his opponents for submissions. He’s also deceptively strong, which will help him when he decides to implement a wrestling-oriented game plan.

Camacho will be the first to tell you that he is offensive and often abandons any pre-fight strategy once his opponent is within range of his heavy hands. He could overpower Torres early on as he’s more battle hardened than anyone Torres has faced to date. But I trust Torres to keep his composure, control the distance and eventually spin Camacho before he goes down.

Choose: torres

Jake Hadley vs Allan Nascimento

UFC President Dana White stretched his neck to bring Jake Hadley after the former Cage Warriors champion lost weight and allegedly rubbed officials the wrong way ahead of his Contender Series appearance last October. Now it’s time for Hadley to reward that belief.

There’s a reason undefeated Hadley is one of Britain’s most touted candidates. Hadley has good wrestling, unorthodox punch defense, and a powerful engine, the latter of which is essential to surviving in the UFC’s often-overlooked flyweight division. For him it’s pressure, pressure, pressure against Allan Nascimento.

Nascimento brings great size to the flyweight division and tricky submission skills. Defending from his back didn’t result in a win for him in his last game against Tagir Ulanbekov, but he put Ulanbekov to work to make a split decision and he can easily catch Hadley, capturing the UFC rookie slips .

As long as Hadley is smart and consistent with his approach on Saturday, he can match Ulanbekov’s performance. You’d love to see him do some damage to his feet before forcing the action to the ground, but Nascimento might not give him that option. Still, I like it when Hadley makes a convincing decision, even if it doesn’t turn out to be an absolute showcase for his talents.

Choose: Hadley


Andrea Lee (13) defeated. Viviane Araujo (12)

Alan Patrick defeated. MichaelJohnson

Angela Hill (13) defeated. Virna Jandiroba (14)

Defeated Tatsuro Taira. Carlo Candelario

Nick Maximov defeated. Andre Petroski

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