The UFC returns to its APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 14 which will be headlined by the return of Rafael Dos Anjos to the lightweight division. Dos Anjos was supposed to fight Islam Makhachev who pulled out of the bout with less than a week to go. Thankfully for the UFC, Paul Felder stepped in and took the fight on five-days notice, saving the main event. But before Dos Anjos locks horns with Felder, the event will open with an interesting prelims undercard that will feature veterans and newcomers who are trying to make their name in the UFC.
Let’s take a look at the prelims undercard of UFC Vegas 14 and make our predictions:
Kay Hansen has fought the majority of her professional MMA career for Invicta FC. She joined the UFC earlier this year and submitted Jinh Yu Frey in her octagon debut last June in a Performance of the Night winner. She is 7-3 with two knockouts and four wins via submission. Hansen is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-2 tall with a reach of 63 inches.
Cory McKenna posted a 4-1 record under Cage Warriors before she joined the Contender Series last August and picked up a win over Crystal Demopolous. The 21-year old from Essex, England is 5-3 tall with a reach of 58 inches and is an orthodox fighter. She has a record of 5-1 with two knockouts and one win via submission. This will be McKenna’s first fight under the UFC promotion.
Hansen has a 4.5-inch reach advantage but has poor striking and a tendency to get herself into bad positions. However, she is a very strong wrestler. McKenna is a terrific striker who has good submission moves but whose wrestling is suspect. These two are good enough to exploit the other’s weaknesses. However, I think Hansen’s takedown game will be the key to this fight. Once she takes McKenna down, she has great control. For as long as she plays it safe and avoids getting submitted, I think she’s got this.
Prediction: Kay Hansen
Ashley Yoder fought for Gladiator Challenge, BAMMA, and Invicta FC before joining the UFC in 2016. After losing her first three UFC assignments, she won back to back fights. However, she’s dropped two in a row since then. Yoder is a southpaw who stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 69 inches. She has a record of 7-6 with four wins via submission. All of her losses have been by decision and two out of her last three defeats were via split decision.
Miranda Granger fought under COGA and Cage Fury Fighting Championships before heading to the octagon. The 28-year old from Everett, Washington is 1-1 under the UFC and is coming off a submission loss to Amanda Lemos. Granger is is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-7 tall and has a reach of 68 inches. She owns a record of 7-1 with one knockout and five wins via submission.
Don’t let Yoder’s UFC record fool you. She gave Markos, Souza, Dern, and Angela Hill all they could handle before losing. Granger is vulnerable to strong grapplers and Yoder is skilled and determined to exploit that weakness. Granger could win this if she keeps it up and fights at a distance. However, I think that Yoder will be able to take this fight down to the mat where she will work her way to a submission or win with top control.
Prediction: Ashley Yoder
Alex Morono is a former Legacy Fighting Championship welterweight champion. The 30-year old from Houston, Texas joined the UFC in 2016 and has struggled inside the Octagon. Morono is 6-3-1 under the UFC banner although he’s lost just once in his last four bouts. He was knocked you by Khaos Williams in his last bout last February. Morono is 17-6 with five knockouts and six wins via submissions overall. He stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Rhys McKee is a veteran from BAMMA and Cage Warriors. The 25-year old from Northern Ireland was knocked out by Khamzat Chimaev in his UFC debut last July. McKee is 5-2 in his last seven bouts with all his wins during that period via stoppage. Skeletor stands 6-2 with a reach of 78 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. McKee has a record of 10-3 with 7 knockouts and three wins via submission.
Morono packs enough pop in his punches to hurt McKee who doesn’t have the best striking defense in town. McKee is the much better offensive striker and has better boxing but the difference in power and strength may be too much for him. If this bout goes to the ground, Morono also has the better wrestling. I think this will be a slugfest but without the stopping ability, McKee will be at a disadvantage here.
Prediction: Alex Morono
Jose Alberto Quinonez was one of the contestants at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 1 tournament where he lost to Alejandro Perez in the finals. Since that loss, he’s won five out of his last seven bouts. However, the 30-year old Mexican is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Sean O’Malley last March. Quinonez is a southpaw who stands 5-8 tall and has a reach of 69 inches. His record stands at 8-4 with two knockouts and one win via submission.
Louis Smolka is a former flyweight champion from California Xtreme Fighting and Pacific Xtreme Combat. He also fought for Destiny MMA and King of Cage before arriving in the UFC in 2014. He was released by the promotion after four straight losses but returned to the UFC in 2018. Smolka is 2-2 inside the octagon and is coming off a submission loss against Casey Kenney last May. Smolka is 5-9 tall with a reach of 68 inches and is an orthodox fighter. He has a record of 16-7 with seven knockouts and seven wins via submission.
Quinonez is the bigger fighter here and although he’s not fared well against quality opposition, I think he has enough abilities to beat Smolka. Smolka needs just one opportunity to get on top of Quinonez to record a submission or win with control. However, to do that, he will have to absorb damage. I’m not a fan of Smolka’s durability and I don’t think he can outstrike Quinonez on the feet. Quinonez keeps this fight in the stand-up and wins a striking battle.
Prediction: Jose Alberto Quinonez
Randa Markos is a former Provincial Fighting Championship strawweight champion in Canada. The 35-year old from Baghdad, Iraq joined the UFC in 2014. She heads to this bout with only one win in her last four bouts and she’s not won back to back fights in the UFC. Markos is coming off back to back losses to Amanda Ribas and McKenzie Dern. She is 5-4 tall with a reach of 63 inches and is an orthodox fighter. Her record is 10-9 with four submission wins.
Kanako Murata is a veteran who has fought for DEEP, Pancrase, and Rizin. She moved to Rizin where she won the strawweight title in her last fight with a split decision win over Emily Ducote. She will be making her UFC debut here and was supposed to fight Livia Renata Souza who pulled out of the bout for an undisclosed reason. Murata is 11-1 with 2 knockouts and four wins via submission. She stands 5-1 tall and has a 62-inch reach while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Markos may be the better striker here but she has struggled with her takedown defense in the past. Murata may be the best wrestler in the women’s strawweight division. She is a former amateur wrestler who once beat Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis on the mat. Murata has four submission wins including two by von flue choke which speaks a lot about her submission skills. I think Murata is going to be relentless with her takedowns and she will beat Markos in her octagon debut.
Prediction: Kanako Murata
Geraldo de Freitas started his career at Shooto and Jungle Fight. The 29-year old from Minas Gerais, Brazil joined the UFC last year and is 1-1 inside the octagon. He is coming off a split decision loss to Chris Gutierrez in April 2019. That defeat is his only loss in his last eight bouts. De Freitas is 12-5 with four knockouts and five wins via submission. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 72 inches.
Tony Gravely fought for CFFC, Elite Warriors, KOTC, ROTC, and CES MMA. He joined the Contender Series in 2019 where he defeated Ray Rodriguez via knockout. The 29-year old from Radford, Virginia was submitted by Brett Johns in his UFC debut last January. Gravely is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-5 tall with a reach of 69 inches. His record is 19-6 with eight knockouts and three wins via submission.
Gravely held his own against a legit Top 15 fighter in his Octagon debut. Against Freitas, I think he has a favorable matchup. He is better in the wrestling department and may be able to outclass him on the feet as well. Gravely has been submitted before and de Freitas can take advantage of that. However, I think Gravely will use a sprawl and brawl approach here and use some top control to win on points.
Prediction: Tom Gravely
Don’Tale Mayes is a veteran who fought for LFA, RFA, Hoosier Fight Club, and Victory Fighting Championship. Mayes has appeared thrice in the Contender Series with two knockout wins. The 28-year old from Louisville, Kentucky is 0-2 inside the octagon with two submission losses. Mayes is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-6 tall with a reach of 81 inches. In his last bout, Mayes was submitted by Rodrigo Nascimento Ferreira via rear-naked choke. His overall record is 7-4 with four knockouts and one submission.
Roque Martinez fought for PXC, DEEP, Top FC, and Rizin. He was choked by Alexander Romanov in his UFC debut. The 34-year old from Guam has been fighting since 2007 and his last six wins have come via stoppage. Martinez has a record of 15-6 with 8 knockouts and 3 wins via submission. Martinez is 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Mayes’ grappling continues to be a weakness but I don’t think that is going to be a problem here. Martinez likes to fight on the feet and he has better striking technique than Mayes. However, Mayes is a powerful brawler and this fight could turn into a slugfest. Martinez will try to use his skill to beat Mayes. But the difference in technique isn’t as much as the difference in power. Mayes likes to swing wildly and when he does, he’s going land one that hurts Martinez.
Prediction: Don’Tale Mayes
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