A jampacked crowd is expected at the Toyota Center in Houston this Saturday night for UFC 262 where former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler looks to win UFC gold when he battles Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title in the headliner.
Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson will try to end his skid against Beneil Dariush while Jack Hermansson and Edmen Shahbazyan look to get back on track against each other in the main card.
Before the big fights, however, an exciting prelims undercard will open the show in Space City. Let’s take a look at the prelims bouts and make our predictions.
Jacare is a former Strikeforce middleweight champion and one of the best grapplers to ever fight in the UFC. The 41-year old Brazilian owns win over three former UFC champions in Chris Weidman, Robbie Lawler, and Vitor Belfort. Souza has lost three straight bouts, and five out of his last seven overall. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-1 tall and has a reach of 72 inches.
Andre Muniz won twice in the Contender Series before earring his UFC contract. He is 2-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Antonio Arroyo and Bartosz Fabinski. The 31-year old Brazilian has a record of 20-4 with 13 submission victories and four knockout wins. He is a southpaw who stands 6-1 tall and has a 78-inch reach.
Jacare is no longer the top-level fighter he used to be. He’s even had troubles against mid-level fighters. However, we haven’t seen him fight guys that are slightly below the middle of the pack like Muniz. But given his considerable edge in power, and his grappling skills, he should still be able to take care of a grappling artist like Muniz. Souza has the superior wrestling and still has that big right hand. Unless his gas tank fails him again, Jacare should survive and win this fight.
Prediction: Jacare Souza
Schnell is a former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. The 31-year old is the 8th ranked flyweight in the UFC. Schnell lost his first two UFC bouts but has gone 6-2 since then. He has a record of 15-5 with two knockouts and eight submission wins. Schnell is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Rogerio Bontorin is the 9th ranked flyweight in the UFC and a former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion. The 29-year old appeared in the Contender Series Brazil 1 and won his first two UFC bouts but has lost his last two. Bontorin has a record of 16-3 with 3 knockouts and 11 submission wins. He is an orthodox fighter who is 5-5 tall and has a reach of 67 inches.
Schnell has a questionable chin and limited wrestling defense. While the chin may not be too much of an issue, the wrestling will be against Bontorin who is a very good wrestler and an excellent submission artist. Schnell also doesn’t have the technical striking or power to offset his disadvantage on the ground. I see Bontorin ending his skid with lots of scrambling and top control.
Prediction: Rogerio Bontorin
Andrea Lee is the 11th ranked female flyweight in the UFC. The 32-year old was the inaugural LFA women’s flyweight champion and a former amateur kickboxing champion. Lee won her first three Octagon assignments but has dropped her last three bouts, two via split decision. She is 11-5 with two knockouts and four submission wins. Lee is 5-6 tall with a reach of 69 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Antonina is the sister of flyweight queen Valentina and the 12th ranked flyweight in the UFC. The 36-year old Shevchenko is a former Muay Thai champion and an alumnus of the Contender Series. She is 3-2 inside the UFC Octagon and has an overall record of 9-2 with three knockouts and one submission win. Shevchenko stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 67 inches while fighting out of the southpaw stance.
Lee has more than enough to beat Shevchenko. She has good takedown offense which she can rely on if Shevchenko gets things going on the feet. Unless Shevchenko has fixed her wrestling issues that cost her bouts against Modafferi and Chookagian, Lee has the edge here. Shevchenko doesn’t have anything to offer from the bottom and that’s something Lee can exploit. This should be a pretty even fight on the feet but the moment Lee takes it down, it’s an easy out for her.
Prediction: Andrea Lee
Lando Vannata competed for Pancrase and RFA before joining the UFC in 2016. The 29-year old was a former Top Shelf Entertainment lightweight champion. Vannata has two wins in his last eight bouts with two draws and four losses during that span. His overall record is 11-5 with four knockouts and five submission wins. Vannata is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 71 inches.
Mike Grundy is a former freestyle wrestler from the U.K. The 34-year old is a former Aspera FC featherweight champion. He joined the UFC in 2019 and won his Octagon debut. He was beaten by Movsar Evloev in his last bout. Grundy is 12-2 with one knockout and eight submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 72 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Dropping one weight class lowed might help Vannata do better in the brawls that he loves to engage in but has come up short most of the time. However, unless he’s added lots of punching power, his poor cardio and defensive mistakes will still put him in danger here. Plus, Grundy is a decorated wrestler who will dominate Vannata on the mat. Unless Vannata produces a quick finish or he is able to defend multiple takedown attempts, Grundy is going to get top control and grind out a win here.
Prediction: Mike Grundy
Mazany is fought for King of Cage before joining the UFC. The 32-year old from Alaska was a competitor at The Ultimate Fighter 18 where she lost to Juliana Pena. Mazany was 1-3 to start her UFC career but has won two out of her last three bouts. She is 7-4 with four knockouts and one submission win while standing 5-6 tall with a 68-inch reach and fighting from the southpaw stance.
Cachoeira fought in Brazil before joining the UFC in 2018. She lost her first three UFC assignments before finally getting into the win column with a win over Shana Dobson. She has a record of 9-3 with five knockout victories. The 32-year old Brazilian is 5-7 tall with a reach of 62 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Mazany’s performance in her 125-pound debut proved that she was previously fighting in a weight class that was too big for her natural weight. I think she will be too much, physically, for Cachoeira and has the wrestling tools to dominate this fight. Cachoeira has the edge in striking and punching power but those would be meaningless unless she can keep the fight standing up.
Prediction: Gina Mazany
Wright fought under AFC and LFA before joining the Contender Series where his lone appearance ended in a draw. The 29-year old from California is 11-1 with six knockouts and five submission wins. Wright is coming off a knockout loss to Joaquin Buckley last November. He is an orthodox fighter who is 6-2 tall with a 77-inch reach.
Jamie Pickett is a veteran of the LFC and the Next Level Fight Club. He joined the Contender Series twice, going 1-1 in both fights. Pickett lost on points to Tafon Nchukwi last December. He has a record of 11-5 with eight knockouts and one submission victory. Pickett is 6-2 tall with an 80-inch reach while fighting as an orthodox fighter.
These are two fighters who have historically struggled when they are under pressure so this could easily go down to who blitzes who first. Pickett is a fighter who can’t stay off the fence when he is backed up. So Wright should have not many problems pushing forward while landing his big kicks. Pickett may be too durable to get stopped here but Wright’s big punches will get the judges to notice them and score points.
Prediction: Jordan Wright
Aguilar is a former LFA featherweight champion. The 32-year old joined the Contender Series, earned a UFC contract, and then won his first two UFC assignments. However, Aguilar has lost his last three bouts. Overall he is 17-4 with 10 knockouts and one submission victory. Aguilar stands 5-7 tall with a 73-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Tucker Lutz is a veteran of Shogun Fights who joined the Contender Series last year and earned a UFC contract. The 26-year old has won his last 11 bouts and is 11-1 with six knockouts and two submission wins. He is 5-8 tall with a reach of 72 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Lutz’s lack of head movement could lead to a dramatic stoppage for Aguilar, given his ability to knock out opponents. But given his current form, it’s hard to trust him with my money. Lutz is a well-rounded fighter who is fundamentally sound. Lutz also has a good wrestling game to bank on if things don’t work on the feet. Lutz will use occasional takedowns to get Aguilar off his game and win this fight on points.
Prediction: Tucker Lutz
Giagos is a former RFA lightweight champion who joined the UFC in 2018. He lost to Charles Oliveira in his UFC debut but has won three out of his last four Octagon assignments. Giagos is 18-8 with seven knockouts and three submission losses. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 71 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Soriano is on his second tour of duty with the UFC. A veteran of CES MMA, and Legacy FC, he went 0-3 in his first stint with the UFC. He has won five out of his last six bouts and is coming off a win over Noah Lahat at UAE Cage Warriors 18. He is 14-6 with seven knockouts and four submission wins. Soriano is an orthodox fighter who is 5-9 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Giagos has improved his game to address his wrestling issues. He’s leaned on his takedown game in his recent bouts. Soriano has the edge in the stand-up game but he’s not done enough to better his wrestling defense. Giagos is the bigger man here and he has the skillset to take advantage of Soriano’s main weakness. I don’t think Giagos is getting the submission here but he should do enough damage on the mat to earn a decision.
Prediction: Christos Giagos
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