The UFC resumes action this weekend with UFC Vegas 37 scheduled for Saturday night at the APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the main event former light heavyweight title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith takes on Ryan Spann in a battle of 205-pound fighters looking to get into the title mix. Fighting in the co-main event are heavyweights Ion Cutelba and Devin Clark in a rescheduled bout.
Former KSW women’s flyweight champion Arianne Lipski will also be making an appearance in the main card as she takes on Mandy Bohm.
But before the big names come out to fight, an interesting prelims undercard will open the show in Vegas. Let’s take a look at the bouts in the main event of UFC Vegas 37.
Mike Rodriguez fought under Cage Titans and CES MMA before joining the UFC via the Contender Series. The 32-year old from Boston joined the UFC in 2018 with an 8-2 record. Since then, Rodriguez has won just two of seven bouts and heads to this contest with back-to-back losses.
Rodriguez has a record of 11-6 with 9 knockouts and two submission wins. He is 6-4 tall with an 82-inch reach and fights out of the southpaw stance.
Tafon Nchukwi fought a total of three fights under CFFC and Shogun Fights before joining the Contender Series where he knocked out Al Matavao to earn a UFC contract. Nchukwi is 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off a majority decision loss to Jun Yong Park at UFC on ESPN 24 last May 8th.
Nchukwi has a record of 5-1 with four knockouts. He is an orthodox fighter who stands six feet tall and has a 77-inch reach.
Rodriguez is the taller and rangier fighter between the two as he is taller by four inches and has a 5.5-inch reach advantage. The latter should come into play here as Nchukwi has so many obvious flaws as a striker and Rodriguez could use his range to outstrike his opponent.
Nchukwi’s best chance here is to take Rodriguez down and grind him out because the latter’s wrestling is obviously not UFC-caliber. However, Nchukwi loves to fight on the feet which should favor Rodriguez. Either Rodriguez catches him with something big in the pocket or he dissects him from range.
Prediction: Mike Rodriguez
Kianzad is the no. 12 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC. The 29-year old Iranian-born Swedish fighter is a former Cage Warriors women’s bantamweight champion who also fought under Invicta FC. Kianzad heads to this fight with five wins in her last six bouts including a current four-bout winning streak.
She has a record of 15-5 with three knockouts. Kianzad is 5-7 tall with a 66-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Raquel Pennington was a competitor at The Ultimate Fighter 18 tournament where she made it to the semifinals. The 33-year old from Colorado Springs, Colorado is a former UFC bantamweight title challenger. But since losing to Amanda Nunes at UFC 224, Pennington is just 2-2 in her last four bouts/
Pennington is 5-7 tall with a reach of 67 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
While Kianzad isn’t at the elite level, she has the skills to win this fight. Her takedown defense is much improved and her ability to get back on her feet should serve her well here. Kianzad is also the more active striker and has cleaner boxing so she should win the exchanges on the feet.
Pennington cannot be underestimated because she is strong enough to pin Kianzad to the cage and control her en route to an ugly win. But the recent improvement in Kianzad’s game should be enough to give her the advantage she needs to win this fight.
Prediction: Pannie Kianzad
Nate Maness fought under HRMMA and TKO promotions among others before joining the UFC last year. He’s won his first two bouts, defeating Johnny Munoz and Luke Sanders. The 30-year old from Morganfield, Kentucky won his first 10 MMA bouts before suffering his first defeat.
Maness has an overall record of 13-1 with four knockouts and three submission losses. He is 5-10 tall with a 72-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Tony Gravely is a former King of Cage and CES MMA bantamweight champion. The 29-year old from Martinsville, Virginia lost his UFC debut against Brett Johns but has won two in a row since then. In his last bout, Gravely knocked out Anthony Birchack.
Gravely has a record of 21-6 with nine knockouts and three wins via submission. He is 5-5 tall with a reach of 69 inches and he fights out of the orthodox stance.
Gravely is a good wrestle with a good submission game and solid stand-up. For as long as he’s fighting opponents outside the Top 10, he’s tough to beat. One issue here could be his gas tank but if he can bring the fight for 15 minutes, he’s going to be too much for Maness.
Maness struggled with Munoz’s grappling before the latter faded late, allowing Maness to win the fight. If Gravely can wrestle and scramble for three rounds, I don’t see how he does not win this fight.
Prediction: Tony Gravely
Brandon Jenkins fought under KOTC, Savage Entertainment, and LFA among other promotions. The 29-year old from Prior Lake, Minnesota joined the UFC this year and most recently fought at PFL 9 playoffs where he knocked out Jacob Kilburn inside one round.
Jenkins is 15-7 with 10 knockouts and three submission wins. He is six feet tall with an undisclosed reach and is an orthodox fighter.
Zhu Rong won 10 straight bouts at Wollongong Wars before joining the UFC on short notice earlier this year. The 21-year old from Sichuan, China suffered a unanimous decision loss to Rodrigo Vargas in his UFC debut last April 24th.
Zhu Rong has a record of 17-4 with 11 knockouts and four submission wins. He stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Zhu Rong has the cleaner striking and has more dangerous punches. He also has decent wrestling that will prevent Jenkins from beating him on the mat. However, if he gets tentative was we’ve seen him do before, Jenkins could outwork him and beat him on points.
But I still think that Zhu Rong’s got more than what we saw the last time. Unless he puts up another lackluster effort, this will be a fight that he dominates. He just needs to up the tempo a bit and he should be good with sprawl and brawl win here.
Prediction: Zhu Rong
Montel Jackson started in the regional circuits of the Pacific Northwest before joining the UFC in 2018 via the Contender Series. The 28-year old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin lost to Ricky Simon in his UFC debut but has won four out of his last five bouts and is coming off a win over Jesse Strader last March.
Jackson is 5-10 tall with a 75-inch reach and is a southpaw fighter. He has a record of 10-2 with six knockouts and one submission win.
Jackson is one of the biggest and most powerful bantamweights on the roster so if Buys decides to trade with him as he did against Silva, it’s going to end in a disaster. But Jackson has struggled with defending takedowns in the past so if Buys takes this fight down, he should have a chance.
However, Buys looked tentative in going for takedowns the last time out. Any resemblance of that here, Jackson puts him away in a hurry. While I would like to think that Buys has a chance to win a striking battle, Jackson’s power alone makes this his fight to win.
Prediction: Montel Jackson
Erin Blanchfield was the former Eddie Bravo Invitational champion. The 22-year old from New York fought under Invicta FC and Cage Fury and will be making her UFC debut in this fight. Blanchfield won back-to-back Performance of the Night bonuses in her last two bouts.
Blanchfield is 6-1 with two knockouts and one submission victory. She is 5-4 tall with a 66-inch reach and fights as an orthodox fighter.
Sarah Alpar is a veteran of SCS, Titan FC, and KOTC. She joined the Contender series in 2019 and earned her UFC contract by submitting Shane Young. Alpar was knocked out by Jessica Rose-Clark in the UFC debut.
Alpar is 9-5 with two knockouts and two submission wins. She is 5-4 tall with a 63-inch reach and fights out of the southpaw stance.
Blanchfield is a good prospect. She has excellent ground game and her striking and wrestling continue to develop. Blanchfield is the superior striker here and has the edge in jiu-jitsu.
On the other hand, Alpar is a bantamweight who is fighting at flyweight and she should have the size advantage here. She has a limited striking game and relies heavily on her wrestling to carry her to victory. Blanchfield catches Alpar with something big or gets her in a compromising situation for the submission.
Prediction: Erin Blanchfield
Impa Kasanganay fought for Island Fights, LFA, and KOTC before joining the Contender Series where he picked up two victories. Kasanganay signed with the UFC last year and lost to Joaquin Buckley in his debut. He bounced back to defeat Sasha Palatnikov in his second UFC Bout.
Kasanganay is 9-1 with three submission victories. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-11 tall with a 75-inch reach.
Carlston Harris is a veteran of XFCI, Immortal FC, Brave FC, Shooto Brazil, and UAE Warriors. Harris defeated Christian Aguilera in his UFC debut last May 8th and he has won four straight bouts, all via stoppage.
Harris is 16-4 with four knockouts and five submission victories. He is six feet tall with a 76-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Although Kasanganay has enough experience, Harris stands as the better wrestler, harder puncher, and the more dangerous submission artist between the two. I’m not sure if Kasanganay can take this fight to the ground where he can make it dirty. Nor am I sure if he hits hard enough to pose a threat on the feet.
Kasanganay is extremely gifted but he’s still young and has a lot to learn. I won’t be surprised if he wins this bout but I’m going with the more proven fighter.
Prediction: Carlston Harris
Emily Whitmire was a contestant at TUF 26 where she lost to Roxanne Modafferi in the quarterfinals. The 30-year old from Portland, Oregon won her first two UFC bouts but has lost her last two, including a submission defeat against Polyana Viana.
Whitmire has a record of 4-4 with one submission win. She is 5-5 tall with a reach of 63 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Hannah Goldy fought under Square Ring Promotions and Premier FC before joining the Contender Series where she earned a UFC contract. Goldy is 0-2 inside the Octagon and heads to this fight coming off a decision loss to Diana Belbita.
Goldy has a record of 5-2 with one knockout. She stands 5-4 tall with a 61-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Goldy likes to pepper her opponents with volume strikes from range. However, she has poor striking defense and has a tendency to back straight up. If Whitmire can push Goldy to the fence, the latter will be less effective.
Whitmire’s striking and grappling should be more than enough to win this fight given Goldy’s weaknesses. She forces her way through Goldy’s long-range striking and beats her with clean striking and top control.
Prediction: Emily Whitmire
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