Smith and Rakic are looking to bounce back from their recent setbacks and only one of them will move up in the rankings. The event will also host the return of former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler against Neil Magny. It will also feature the long-awaited rematch between 205-pound finishers Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev.
Before we get to the main card though, an equally exciting prelims undercard opens the show in Vegas. Let’s take a look at the prelims undercard and make our predictions for the bouts:
Maki Pitolo is the former Victory FC welterweight champion. The 29-year old from Honolulu is a product of Dana White’s Contender Series and he is also a former Bellator Fighter. Pitolo has a record of 13-6 with seven knockouts and three wins via submission. He stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 75 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. In his last bout, Pitolo was submitted via guillotine choke by Darren Stewart at UFC Vegas 6 earlier this month.
Impa Kasanganay opened the Contender Series’ Week 2 show with a win over Anthony Adams. Not only did he earn a UFC contract with the victory, but he also got booked to his first bout on 11 days’ notice. The 26-year old from Charlotte took his unbeaten record to KOTC and LFA before landing in the UFC. He has a record of 7-0 with two wins via submission. Kasanganay stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 75 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Pitolo has impressive boxing who has vicious body shots. But since his stint in the Contender Series, he has struggled when he has been put on his back. That said, he is the best opponent that Kasanganay has ever fought. The latter has fought low-quality opponents and he is going to struggle with Pitolo’s experience. I think that Pitolo has enough wrestling chops to hold his own on the ground. On the feet, his boxing should overwhelm Kasanganay and lead him to a points win here.
Prediction: Maki Pitolo
Mallory Martin fought for Legacy Fighting Alliance and Invicta FC before coming over to the UFC last year. She won her fight against Micol di Segni at the Contender Series 25 but returned Invicta before she was finally signed by the UFC. The 26-year old from Denver, Colorado stands 5-4 tall with a reach of 63 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. She has a record of 6-3 with two knockouts and one win via submission. Martin was submitted by Virna Jandiroba in her UFC debut last December.
Hannah Cifers is a veteran of XFC, Fight Lab, and Titan FC. The 28-year old from Oxford, North Carolina joined the UFC in 2018 and is just 2-4 inside the octagon. Cifers stands 5-1 tall with a reach of 62 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. She has a record of 10-6 with five knockouts and is coming off three consecutive stoppage losses.
Martin is the much bigger fighter here, with two inches in reach and three inches in height over Cifers. The latter has a powerful right hand which could end this fight in a hurry but between her advantage in power and Martin’s edge in wrestling, the latter is more glaring and should help Martin walk away with a win here. Unless she comes up with a one-punch knockout ( I don’t want to bet on that one shot ), I think that Martin is going to maul Cifers on the mat and gut out a rugged decision win.
Prediction: Mallory Martin
Alessio Di Chirico fought in Europe and had an unbeaten record when the UFC signed him in 2016. The founder of the GLORIA Fight Center in Rome is 3-4 inside the octagon and is coming off back to back losses to Kevin Holland and Makhmud Muradov. He stands 6-0 tall with a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. Di Chirico is 12-4 with five knockouts and four wins via submission.
Zak Cummings has been fighting since 2007 and he has appeared for Titan FC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. The 36-year old from Irving, Texas is a former MCC middleweight champion. He joined the UFC in 2013 and has a record of 8-4 inside the octagon. He has a record of 23-7 with five knockouts and 12 wins via submission and has won four out of his last six bouts. Cummings is a southpaw who stands 6-0 tall with a reach of 75 inches.
Fighting at 170 is good for Cummings as his size and power will be more prominent here. When it comes to skill, I think that he has the edge over Di Chirico in all departments. Cummings has heavier hands, better wrestling, and superior submission skills. Sorry, but I can’t say much about Di Chirico’s chances here but I think that he doesn’t have the power to catch Cummings’ attention nor does he have the grappling outwork him on the ground. Give me Zak Cummings here.
Prediction: Zak Cummings
Alex Caceres appeared at The Ultimate Fighter 12. The 32-year old from Miami, Florida has been in the UFC since 2011 and has fought the likes of Urijah Faber, Francisco Rivera, Sergio Pettis, Jason Knight, and Kron Gracie. He has struggled in the UFC but has won four out of his last six bouts. Caceres is a southpaw who stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 73 inches. His record is 16-12 with three knockouts and five wins via submission.
Giga Chikdaze fought for WSOF and Gladiator Challenge before he signed with the UFC in 2019. Chikdaze is 3-0 inside the UFC octagon with two wins coming via split decision. The 32-year old from Georgia has a record of 10-2 with six knockouts and one win via submission. He stands 6-0 tall with a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Caceres has the submission skills to beat Chikdaze and the latter is still susceptible to aggressive wrestling and pressure. However, Bruce Leroy doesn’t have the takedown ability to put Chikdaze on the ground. Moreover, Caceres’ fast-moving style falls into the hands of Chikdaze whose kickboxing is a key in this bout. If Caceres can take the fight to the mat, this will be exciting but if not, the taller and rangier Chikdaze is going to tear him apart from a distance.
Prediction: Giga Chikdaze
Polyana Viana is the former Jungle Fight strawweight champion. The 28-year old Brazilian won her UFC debut against Maia Stevenson but has lost her last three bouts inside the octagon. Viana is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-5 tall with a reach of 67 inches. She has a record of 10-4 with four knockouts and six wins via submission. She is coming off a submission loss to Veronica Macedo in August 2019.
Emily Whitmire fought at TUF 26 but lost to Roxanne Modafferi in the second round. The 29-year old from Portland, Oregon has a record of 4-3 with one submission win. Whitmire stands 5-5 with a reach of 63 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. She is coming off a submission loss to Amanda Ribas last June 2019.
Viana has all the tools to win this fight but we also said that when she fought J.J. Aldrich, Hannah Cifers, and Veronica Macedo and she lost all bouts. To cut the story short, she’s a very talented fighter who hasn’t lived up to expectations. Against Whitmire, Viana’s wrestling and grappling should be the key. I won’t blame you if you won’t agree with me here because Viana is such a frustrating fighter to bet on. But I think she finally gets back on track with a submission victory here.
Prediction: Polyana Viana
Sean Brady fought for CFFC and LFA before making his UFC debut in 2019. The 23-year old from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches. He has a record 12-0 with three knockouts and two wins via submission. Brady is 2-0 inside the octagon and is coming off a win to Ismael Naurdiev.
Christian Aguilera fought for BAMMA, LFA, and KOTC before joining the UFC earlier this year. The 28-year old from California stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is a switch hitter. He is 14-6 with 11 knockouts and is coming off a TKO win over Anthony Ivy.
Aguilera was quick to pounce on Ivy during his octagon debut and that prevented his opponent from taking him to the ground where Aguilera isn’t comfortable. However, he won’t be able to do the same against Brady who is much better on the feet. Brady has more than enough wrestling skills to keep Aguilera off his game. I think Aguilera is the more powerful hitter here but Brady looks durable and won’t be knocked out with a single punch. Brady should outclass Aguilera on the feet or outwrestle him on the ground. Either way, I like Brady here.
Prediction: Sean Brady
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