The UFC returns to its APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday for UFC Vegas 31 with up-and-coming lightweight Islam Makhachev and Thiago Moises taking center stage in the main event after the original headliner between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez was called off due to injury suffered by Holloway.
In the co-main event, former Strikeforce and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate returns to the Octagon against veteran Marion Reneau in a women’s bantamweight showdown. Jeremy Stephens, Rodolfo Vieira, and Bill Quarantillo will face separate opponents in the main card.
But before these big names take over the show, an interesting prelims undercard precedes the show. Let’s take a look at the fights and pick the winners.
Daniel Rodriguez competed for Bellator, King of Cage, and Combate before joining the UFC last year. A former Smash Global welterweight champion, D-Rod won his first three UFC bouts before dropping a unanimous decision against Nicolas Dalby. Rodriguez bounced back with a win over Mike Perry in his last outing.
D-Rod is 6-1 tall with a 74-inch reach and is a southpaw. He has a record of 14-2 with seven knockouts and four submission wins.
Preston Parsons has fought for Titan FC and most recently had a 4-0 with four submission wins stint at the Combat Night promotion. The 25-year old will be making his UFC debut here and he enters this bout having won seven out of his last eight bouts.
Parsons has a record of 9-2 with all of his wins coming by way of submission. He is an orthodox fighter who is 5-11 tall with a 71-inch reach.
Parsons heads to this bout on a mean streak but he took this fight on one week’s notice. He’s looked good during his current run but has not been anybody noteworthy so it’s hard to decipher his ceiling.
On the other hand, Rodriguez has not faced a good wrestler inside the Octagon and Parsons could take advantage of his impressive grappling and violent clinch game. However, I think that Rodriguez is too experienced and tested to lose here.
A change of opponent can catch one off guard but since Rodriguez was preparing to fight a wrestler anyway, I think there won’t be a problem adjusting here. D-Rod sprawls and brawls his way to victory.
Prediction: Daniel Rodriguez
Amanda Lemos is the no. 14 ranked strawweight in the UFC. The 34-year old Brazilian was the former Jungle Fight bantamweight champion before joining the UFC in 2017. Lemos lost to Leslie Smith in her UFC debut and then wasn’t seen in two years. She returned in 2019 and since then is 3-0 with a win over Livina Renata Sousa in her last bout.
Lemos is 9-1 with six knockouts and two submission victories. She stands 6-4 tall with a 65-inch reach and fights out of the southpaw stance.
Montserrat Ruiz is a former MAX Fights and XFL strawweight champion. The 28-year old Mexican also fought twice at Invicta FC before making her UFC debut last March where she defeated Cheyanne Buys.
Ruiz is 10-1 with three knockouts and two submission wins. She is a southpaw fighter who stands five feet tall with a 61-inch reach.
Besides her occasional punching flurries, Ruiz leans a lot on her head-and-arm-throw. The takedown and ground attacks are the best part of arsenal and if you can deal with that, you win.
Lemos has good enough defensive wrestling to get back on her feet if she is taken down. In the stand up, this is a mismatch in favor of Lemos because of her reach advantage and punching power. Lemos outguns Ruiz to pick up the victory here.
Prediction: Amanda Lemos
Khalid Taha fought in the European Circuit before heading to Japan where he made it to the quarterfinals of the Rizin FC bantamweight grand Prix in 2017. He joined the UFC in 2018 but the 29-year old German is just 1-2 with one no contest in four UFC appearances. In his last bout, he was impressive but lost to Raoni Barcelos in a Fight of the Night winner.
Taha is 13-3 with nine knockouts and two submission wins. He is 5-5 tall with a reach of 69 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Sergey Morozov fought mostly for M-1 Challenge where he won five consecutive bouts immediately before joining the UFC. The 32-year old from Kazakhstan made his UFC debut of UFC Vegas 20 last January but lost to Umar Nurmagomedov via a rear-naked choke.
He is 5-6 tall with a 67-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance. Morozov has a record of 16-5 with 8 knockouts and three submission wins.
Taha’s power and aggressive fighting style appear to be a problem for Morozov who doesn’t fight well when put under pressure. However, he has the takedown skills to take advantage of Taha’s wrestling issues.
I think there are two ways how this ends. It’s either Taha batters Morozov to submission or Morozov grinds him to a decision on the mat. This could go either way and I’m leaning with Morovzov because Taha isn’t too hard to takedown. Morozov wins this fight with dominant top control.
Prediction: Sergey Morozov
Francisco Figueiredo fought in Brazil’s regional promotions for 10 years before finally getting a break in the UFC. He made his debut last January and defeated Jerome Rivera via decision. Figueiredo has lost just once in his last nine bouts with one no-contest and a draw.
He has a record of 12-3 with three knockouts and seven submission wins. Figueiredo is a southpaw who is 5-6 tall and has a reach of 68 inches.
Malcolm Gordon is a former HFC flyweight champion and PMMA bantamweight champion. The 31-year old Canadian joined the UFC as a bantamweight last year and he’s lost his first two Octagon appearances both via first round stoppage.
Gordon is 12-5 with four knockouts and six submission wins. He is a switch hitter who stands 5-7 tall with a 71-inch reach.
Figueiredo has the crisp boxing and solid wrestling that has troubled Gordon inside the Octagon. He’s going to counter Gordon easily on the feet and dominate him with top control on the mat.
However, Gordon has a dangerous submission game and if he can get on Figueiredo’s back, he can work to a submission. Figueiredo also has questionable cardio so Gordon might want to test that as well. There’s a chance that Gordon is able to implement either but it’s more likely that Figueiredo catches Godon clean with a big left hand and ends the night early.
Prediction: Francisco Figueiredo
Mile Johns fought for XKO and LFA before joining the third season of the Contender Series in 2019 where he defeated Richie Santiago and extended his unbeaten record to 9-0. Johns is 2-1 inside the UFC Octagon and is coming off a TKO win over Kevin Natividad.
The 27-year old from Kansas is 11-1 with three knockouts and two submission wins as a professional MMA fighter. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 66 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Anderson dos Santos is a grizzled veteran who has fought under Jungle Fights, Titan FC, and KOTC before joining the UFC in 2018. The 35-year old Brazilian lost his first two UFC bouts but won his most recent one against Martin Day last November 2020.
He has a record of 21-8 with five knockouts and 12 submission victories. Dos Santos is an orthodox fighter who is 5-5 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Dos Santos has an impressive ground attack that could pose a problem for Johns. But Johns has elite wrestling that will enable him to dictate the engagements on the ground.
Johns also has the laser jabs that can neutralize Dos Santos’ hook-heavy striking attack. For as long as Johns doesn’t get passive here, he potshots his way to victory.
Prediction: Miles Johns
Alan Baudot most recently fought for TKO and EFC. The 33-year old Frenchman joined the UFC last year and lost to Tom Aspinall in his UFC debut. Baudot is just 2-2 in his last four bouts with both losses coming via knockout.
He has a record of 8-2 with seven knockouts. Baudot is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-3 tall with a 79 inches reach.
Rodrigo Nascimento is a veteran of Full House Fight Night and BH Sparta before joining the Contender Series season 3 where he scored a submission win over Michal Martinek. After submitting Don’Tale Mayes in his UFC debut, he was knocked out by Chris Daukaus in his second Octagon appearance.
Nascimento is 6-2 with an 80-inch reach and fights as an orthodox fighter. He has a record of 8-1 with two knockouts and six submission wins.
Baudot is exciting and fun to watch on his feet but boy has he looked helpless on the ground inside that Octagon. He’s wild and aggressive enough to catch Nascimento with something hard and puts him away.
However, Nascimento is a known grappler, and its likely that he will take down Baudot at will and slowly wear him down. After several takedowns, he’s going to be ready for the picking. A few more minutes on the ground and Nascimento strangles him to submission.
Prediction: Rodrigo Nascimento
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