Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw makes his highly-anticipated return to the Octagon against no. 2 ranked Cody Sandhagen in the main event of UFC Vegas 32 on Saturday night at the APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But before Dillashaw and Sandhagen lock horns, an interesting prelims undercard loaded with newcomers and veterans will open the show in Vegas. Let’s take a look at the fights that precede the main show and make our predictions.
Nassourdine Imavov fought for TFL and Ares MMA immediately before joining the UFC in 2020. The 26-year old from Paris, France scored a unanimous decision win over Jordan Williams in his UFC debut but lost in a close majority decision against Phil Hawes in his last bout.
Imavov is 6-1 in his last seven bouts and has an overall record of 9-3 with three knockouts and four wins via submission. He is 5-11 tall with a 72-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Ian Heinisch is a veteran of the WSOF and a former interim middleweight champion at LFA before joining the UFC. The 32-year old from Denver, Colorado has dropped three out of his last four bouts and head to this encounter after losing to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 258 last February.
Heinisch is 14-4 with five knockouts and two submission wins. He stands 5-11 tall with a 72-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Heinisch is a fighter who has the tools to be a player in the middleweight division. He has a wrestling pedigree, punching power, and great physicality. However, he’s struggled in the UFC while facing top-caliber opposition.
Imavov has a four-inch advantage in height and a three-inch advantage in reach over Heinisch. However, he struggles in maintaining his range and is easily controlled against the cage. Those are things that Heinisch can very well take advantage of in this bout.
I think this is a very winnable fight for Heinisch and while I don’t think this will be pretty, Heinisch will be able to smother Imavov and get back in the win column.
Prediction: Ian Heinisch
Punahele Soriano fought under Titan FC and LFA before joining the Contender Series where he beat Jamie Pickett on points. Soriano made his UFC debut against Oskar Piechota and won via KO. He also scored a TKO win over Dusko Todorovic in his most recent outing at UFC on ABC 1.
Soriano has a record of 8-0 with five knockouts and two submission wins. He is a southpaw who stands 5-11 tall and has a reach of 72 inches.
Brendan Allen is a former Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight champion. This 25-year old from Beaufort, South Carolina submitted Aaron Jeffry at the Contender Series 20 and then also choked out Kevin Holland in his UFC debut.
Allen is 4-1 in the UFC with 3 stoppage wins. Overall, he has a record of 16-4 with five knockouts and nine submission wins. He stands 6-2 tall with a 75-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter.
On paper, Allen has the tools to put Soriano to the test. Allen is a very good striker and he can turn this fight into a technical striking match or a grueling grind and test Soriano’s cardio which was an issue in his fight against Pickett.
However, Allen is so easy to hit and Soriano has a murderous left hand that could carry him to victory. Allen has shown a solid chin and good durability in his previous bouts but I’m not sure if he can shake off the heavy punches from the Hawaiian. I’m looking for Soriano to win with a quick finish.
Prediction: Punahele Soriano
Adrian Yanez is a veteran who has fought under LFC, LFA, Fury Fighting, and Bellator before joining the UFC via the Contender Series. He knocked out Victor Rodriguez in his UFC debut and went on to stop Gustavo Lopez in his most recent Octagon outing.
Yanez has a record of 13-3 with 8 knockouts and 3 submission victories. He is 5-7 tall with a 70-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Randy Costa fought under Cage Titans before joining the UFC where he has a 2-1 record. The 27-year old from Taunton, Massachusetts is coming off a head kick TKO win over Journey Newsom.
He has a record of 6-1 with six knockouts and all his victories coming in the opening round. Costa is a switch-hitter who stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 73 inches.
There’s no doubt that this is going to be an absolute barn burner of a slugfest and I think that the most important factor in this fight is Yanez’s chin. Yanez is a terrific counter puncher but with Costa’s free-swinging style, there’s a good chance he will land some big shots before Yanez can tag him. If Yanez survives those punches, this is an easy win for him.
But while Costa hits like a truck, Yanez should be able to take his punches. As much as I like Costa’s power, I think that Yanez boxing is too sharp for Costa to find holes in. Despite that, Costa should come out swinging here and score with his big bombs. However, once Yanez catches him clean.
Prediction: Adrian Yanez
Julio Arce is a former featherweight and bantamweight champion at the Ring of Combat promotion. The 31-year old from Miami, Florida is a former Golden Glove 2011 champion. Arce picked up a KO win over Peter Petties at the Contender Series but did not earn a contract. However, he got the call to replace an injured Charles Rosa at UFC 220 and defeated Dan Ige.
Arce is 4-2 under the UFC and has a record of 16-4 with four knockouts and five submission victories. He is a southpaw fighter who stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Andre Ewell is a former CES MMA bantamweight champion. The 33-year old from Anaheim, California joined the UFC in 2018 and won his UFC debut against former bantamweight champion Renan Barao. However, he is only 3-3 since that bout and is coming off a loss to Chris Gutierez.
Ewell has a record of 17-7 with seven knockouts and four submission victories. He is a southpaw fighter who stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 75 inches.
Ewell has a one-inch height and five-inch reach advantage over Arce. When he puts together those punch combinations, he can be very impressive on the feet, especially with his length. However, he has not been able to be consistent enough with his offense to control the fight on the feet. Nor has he been successful in preventing his opponents from taking him down.
Arce isn’t the best of strikers but he is good enough to hold his own on the feet despite having the reach disadvantage here. He is also skilled enough as a grappler to drag Ewell to the ground and grind out a victory. With his versatile kickboxing and decent grappling, Arce’s well-rounded skillset should help him pick up the win here.
Prediction: Julio Arce
Sijara Eubanks is the no. 13 ranked women’s bantamweight in the UFC. The 36-year old from Springfield, Massachusetts was a finalist at the TUF 26 tournament but did not fight in the final after suffering an injury. Eubanks is just 2-4 in her last six UFC bouts and is coming off a decision loss to Pannie Kianzad last December.
She is 6-6 with two knockouts. Eubanks is 5-4 tall with a reach of 67 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Elise Reed was a strawweight champion at Cage Fury FC. The 28-year old from Princeton, New Jersey also had a one-fight stint with Bellator. Reed scored a second-round TKO win over Hilarie Rose at CFFC 97 in her most recent bout.
Reed is 4-0 with two knockouts in her short but impressive MMA career. She is listed at 5-3 tall with an undisclosed reach while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Reed is taking this fight on less than one month’s notice. She has terrific striking offense and real punching power but owns a shaky takedown defense which Eubanks should be able to take advantage of here.
Moving down to flyweight doesn’t solve Eubanks’ issues. Her striking has developed to compliment her punching power and her wrestling is too inconsistent to help her top-notch ground game to compete against the top fighters in the promotion. However, Eubanks’ size should be her advantage here. With it, she will take Reed to the mat and grind her out to victory.
Prediction: Sijara Eubanks
Diana Belbita fought most of her career at RXF but she also had stints at KSW and Superior FC before joining the UFC in 2019. She’s fought just twice under the promotion, losing to Molly McCann and Liana Jojua.
Belbita is 4-2 in her last six bouts and she has an overall record of 13-6 with six knockouts and four submission losses. She is 5-7 tall with a reach of 68 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Hannah Goldy fought under Square Ring Promotions and PFC before coming over to the UFC via the Contender Series. She’s fought once inside the Octagon, losing to Miranda Grander in August 2019.
The 29-year old Goldy has a record of 5-1 with one knockout. She is 5-4 tall with a reach of 61 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Goldy has high-volume striking but she can be suddenly gun-shy and easily bullied into the fence. If the ultra-active version shows up, there’s no question that Goldy will run circles around Belbita in this fight. If she refuses to let her hands go, however, Belbita’s raw aggression will help her look more impressive in this fight.
One issue I have with Goldy is that she hasn’t fought in nearly two years. But between that and Belbita’s lack of consistency, I will side with Goldy’s issues. I think that even a rusty Goldy will have more than enough to pick Belbita apart. I like Goldy to stick and move here and pick up the win on points.
Prediction: Hannah Goldy
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