The UFC heads to its APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 23 on Saturday, April 10, 2021. Headlining the event are Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland who stepped in on short notice for the injured Darren Till. Sodiq Yussuf takes on Arnold Allen in the co-main event while Sam Alvey faces Julian Marquez in a three-round affair.
Preceding the show is a loaded prelims undercard that will feature some grizzled veterans and up-and-coming fighters who are looking to prove their worth in the promotion. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s prelims undercard and make our predictions.
Jim Miller owns the record for most wins in the UFC’s lightweight division. The 37-year old is one of the longest-tenured fighters in the promotion, having been with the UFC since 2008. Miller however is just 4-7 in his last 11 bouts and is coming off a loss to Vinc Pinchel. He is 32-15 with four knockouts and 18 submission wins. Miller is a southpaw who is 5-8 tall with a reach of 71 inches.
Joe Solecki campaigned at CFFC and ROC before joining the Contender Series where he earned a UFC contract. This 27-year old won his first two UFC bouts, defeating Matt Wiman and Austin Hubbard in consecutive bouts. Solecki is 5-9 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. He has a record of 10-2 with one knockout and seven submission wins.
Miller is still tough as nails but he is no longer the fighter who can push the pace for a full three rounds. Against the younger Solecki, he needs an early finish to win this bout but unfortunately for him, Solecki is just too solid on the ground for Miller to find the submission. I think this will be an even fight early on, with Miller even having the edge after the first round. However, he’s going to tire out before he gets the submission or
Prediction: Joe Solecki
Scott Holtzman is a former Xtreme Fighting Championship lightweight champion. This 37-year old from Knoxville Tennessee joined the UFC in 2014 and won five out of his first seven UFC bouts. He’s been 2-2 since then and is coming off a KO loss to Beneil Dariush last August. Holtzman has a record of 14-4 with five knockouts and two wins via submission. He stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 69 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Mateusz Gamrot was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in Europe as he won two weight classes at the KSW promotion. The 30-year old entered the UFC with an unbeaten record but lost to Guram Kutateladze in his UFC debut last October. Gamrot is a southpaw who stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 70 inches. He has a record of 17-1 with five knockouts and four wins via submission.
Holtzman has vastly improved since the first time we saw him but despite that, he is still vulnerable to the takedown-heavy attack that is Gamrot’s specialty. Gamrot also has decent striking which is going to help him hold his own against Holtzman’s offense. For as long as Gamrot’s confidence remains intact after suffering his first loss, he should win a 15-minute grind against a straightforward boxer with little scrambling skills.
Prediction: Mateusz Gamrot
John Makdessi entered the UFC with an unbeaten record from Canada. But he’s struggled since joining the UFC, going 10-7 inside the octagon. The 35-year old from Nova Scotia head to this bout coming off a loss to Francisco Trinaldo. Makdessi has a record of 17-7 with nine knockouts. He is 5-8 tall with a reach of 68 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Ignacio Bahamondes fought for Titan FC, Square Ring Promotions, and LFA before joining the Contender Series where he won a UFC contract. The 23-year old Chilean has a record of 11-3 with 8 knockouts. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-3 tall with a reach of 75 inches.
Bahamondes has too much advantage in height and reach in this fight. He also has more power in his hands and feet. Of course, he still has so many defensive holes which a striking genius like Makdessi can take advantage of. However, Bahamondes has too much advantage compared to Makdessi’s edge over him. I think Bahamondes is smart enough to fight from a distance and outpoint Makdessi.
Prediction: Ignacio Bahamondes
Norma Dumont joined the UFC after posting a 4-0 record in Brazil. The 30-year old known as The Immortal lost to Megan Anderson in her UFC debut. Dumont bounced back with a win over Ashlee Evans Smith in her second UFC bout. She has a record of 5-1 with two submission wins. Dumont is 5-7 tall with a reach of 67 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Erin Blanchfield is a former Eddie Bravo Invitational BJJ champion. This 21-year old fought for Invicta FC where she posted a 4-1 record. Blanchfield will be making her UFC debut in this bout and she is on a three-fight winning streak. Overall, Blanchfield is 6-1 with two knockouts and one win via submission. She is 5-4 tall with a reach of 66 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Blanchfield is taking this fight on short notice but other than that, she’s got plenty going for her in this matchup. She has fought better opposition, has a clear edge on the ground, and has improved her striking to the point that she can hold her own if the takedowns don’t work. Dumont has a significant size advantage here but I’ll take my chance on Blanchfield’s BJJ and striking to pull off the upset here.
Prediction: Erin Blanchfield
Yorgan De Castro fought for CES MMA and had a 4-0 record when he was invited to joining the Contender Series. The 33-year old from St. Vincent, Cape Verde defeated Justin Tala in his UFC debut but has since dropped back-to-back fights against Greg Hardy and Carlos Felipe. De Castro has a record of 6-2 with five knockouts He is an orthodox fighter who stands six feet tall with a reach of 74 inches.
Jarjis Danho fought in Jordan before coming over to the UFC. This 37-year old from the Syrian Arab Republic is still looking for his first Octagon win with his UFC debut against Daniel Omielanczuk ending in technical decision loss and his most recent bout against Christian Colombo ending in a majority draw. Danho is 5-1 with five knockouts and he stands 6-3 tall with a reach of 74 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
This is Danho’s first bout in four and a half years and even before his long layoff, he was in the bottom of the heavyweight pack. He leans on raw power and functional wrestling and doesn’t have technique or cardio. I think he’s easy picking for De Castro who, despite his bad habits, has the tools to beat Danho rather easily. All De Castro has to do here is to let his hands go and mix them with some low kicks. Unless Danho incredibly transformed during his hiatus, De Castro pummels him in the first round for an early stoppage.
Prediction: Yorgan De Castro
Hunter Azure was the Fusion Fight League featherweight champion. He also fought for LFA before joining the UFC via the Contender Series. This 29-year old won his first 8 bouts before getting knocked out by Brian Kelleher in May of last year. Azure is coming off a win over Cole Smith. He is 9-1 with 3 knockouts and one win via submission. Azure is 5-8 tall with a reach of 69 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Jack Shore is a former bantamweight champion from Cage Warriors. The 26-year old from Wales joined the UFC in 2019 and has picked up two submission wins inside the Octagon. Shore is 13-0 with four knockouts and 8 submission victories. He stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Shore is the kind of wrestler that Azure is, but he is better on the feet with crisper striking and more dangerous on the mat with submission skills. That said, Azure’s clear path to victory is to drag Shore down and grind him out from the top position. That may be easier said than done as Shore is too skilled and experienced to let that happen. I really like Shore a lot and I think he’s got the skills to be a contender in the UFC. I think he shows his true worth against Azure. Give me Jack Shore to win this fight with experience, skill, and versatility.
Prediction: Jack Shore
Luis Saldana started his career with a mediocre 10-6 record. But he’s won his last four bouts, the last being a victory over Vince Murdock at the Contender Series that won him a UFC contract. The 30-year old has a record of 14-6 with seven knockout and seven submission wins. He is 5-11 tall with a reach of 73 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Jordan Griffin is a former KOTC, RFO, and Dakota FC featherweight champion. The 31- year old known as The Native Psycho is 1-3 in the UFC and is coming off a loss to Youssef Zalal. He has a record of 18-8 with five knockouts and nine submission wins. Griffin stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 74 inches while fighting as a southpaw.
Griffin has a one-and-a-half-inch reach advantage but is the shorter fighter. Saldana’s takedown defense isn’t proven and Griffin can grind him out with his takedown offense. However, Saldana is such an impressive technical boxer and we’ve seen Griffin struggle on the feet in his previous bouts. His long-range striking should keep Griffin at bay and neutralize his wrestling. Griffin should have his moments and should be durable enough to go the distance. But he should be easy picking for Saldana.
Prediction: Luis Saldana
Da Un Jung is a former HEAT light heavyweight champion. The 27-year old South Korean is undefeated in the UFC with two wins and one draw. Jung is 13-2 with 10 knockouts and two submission wins. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-4 tall with a reach of 78 inches.
William Knight is a veteran of CFFC and CES MMA. He appeared twice in the Contender Series, winning both times, and earning a UFC contract after his second win there. Knight is 9-1 with 8 knockouts. He stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 73 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Knight is taking this fight on short notice, replacing Shamil Gamzatov. He is six inches shorter and faces a 5.5-inch reach disadvantage against Jung. Knight is also a terrible striker and just an okay wrestler. However, Knight has the uncanny ability to engage his opponents in grappling exchanges where he will look to scramble and take the fight to the mat where he can position his ground and pound attack. But he’s at the mercy of a longer and taller striker who can beat him easily from afar with pinpoint strikes. For as long as this fight stays on the feet, there’s no question Jung wins.
Prediction: Da Un Jung
Kasanganay is a product of the Contender Series and he entered the UFC unbeaten in 8 fights. However, he suffered his first defeat during his Octagon debut where he was sensationally knocked out by Joaquin Buckley. Kasanganay is 8-1 with two submission wins. He stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 75 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Sasha Palatnikov is a former AFC middleweight champion. The 32-year old from Hong Kong has a record of 6-2 with three knockouts. Palatnikov scored 3rd round knockout win over Louis Cosce in his UFC debut. He is a switch hitter who stands 6-1 tall with a reach of 72 inches.
Palatnikov is a very limited fighter who relies heavily on his takedown-heavy style. He also has decent striking and an above-average gas tank. However, Kasanganay looks better in all departments. His mix of wrestling and power punching should be more than he needs to beat Palatnikov. For as long as he doesn’t have problems making weight, Kasanganay is the easy pick to make here.
Prediction: Impa Kasanganay
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