Former light heavyweight title challenger Thiago Santos will attempt to put a halt to the rise of Magomed Ankalaev in the UFC’s 205-pound division. Santos and Ankalaev are featured in the main event of UFC Vegas 50 on Saturday night at the UFC’s APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The event also features veteran Marlon Moraes taking on the up-and-coming Song Yadong in a bantamweight contest. Meanwhile, Sodiq Yusuff will return to UFC action to take on Alex Caceres in another main card bout.
UFC Vegas 50 also features an interesting prelims undercard which features new fighters looking to break into the ranks and grizzled veterans looking to keep their tenure in the promotion.
Let’s take a look at the UFC Vegas 50 prelims undercard bouts and make our predictions.
Matthew Semelsberger began his career fighting for Shogun Fights and Strike Off while also making appearances for CFFC, Maverick MMA, and Art of War Cage Fighting. He joined the UFC in 2020 and picked up back-to-back wins over Carlton Minus and Jason Witt. In his third UFC bout, he dropped a decision to Khaos Williams last June 19, 2021, but bounced back to beat Martin Sano via first round knockout at UFC 266.
Semelsberger is 9-3 with six knockouts and one submission victory. He is a switch hitter who is 6-1 tall with a reach of 75 inches.
A.J. Fletcher was a mainstay of Atlas Fights who also appeared for Friction Fighting Championship, Fury FC, Bayou FC, AKA, and iKon Fighting Federation. He appeared in the Contender Series last year where he scored a flying knee KO win over Leonardo Damiani to earn his UFC contract.
The 25-year old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana has a record of 9-0 with four knockouts and four submission victoria. He stands 5-10 tall with a reach of 67 inches and is a switch hitter.
Fletcher’s best asset is his wrestling should make this fight interesting because Semelsberger’s takedown defense has not been tested in the UFC. However, Semelsberger’s cardio and Fletcher’s inability to hold down opponents suggest that Semelsberger will be able to get up if he gets dragged down.
No question that Fletcher is gifted and has good potential. However, Semelsberger has the tools to punish Fletcher’s open kicks and reckless entries. And if Fletcher can’t keep him down on the mat, this is going to be a bad matchup for him. Fletcher gets a takedown or two but Semelsberger should be able to get back on his feet and clip his opponent with a big right hand and get another finish.
Prediction: Matthew Semelsberger
J.J. Aldrich fought under Invicta FC and FCF before she joined the UFC in 2016. After losing her UFC debut against Juliana Lima, Aldrich has won six out of her last eight bouts and heads to this contest with back-to-back wins against Cortney Casey and Vanessa Demapolous. The 29-year old from Denver, Colorado was supposed to fight Arianne Lipski but the latter was removed from the bout due to undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Robertson.
Aldrich is 10-4 with two knockouts. She is a southpaw who is 5-5 tall with a reach of 67 inches.
Gillian Robertson is a veteran who has fought under Square Ring Promotions, Atlas Fights, Global Knockout, and Next Level Fight Club before joining the UFC. The 26-year old from Ontario, Canada was a contestant at The Ultimate Fighter 26 but lost in the preliminary rounds. She was still signed by the UFC and she opened her Octagon career with a record of 6-2 but she has dropped two out of her last three bouts. In her last bout, Robertson submitted Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 269 last December.
Robertson is 5-5 tall with a reach of 63 inches and is an orthodox fighter. She is 10-6 with 1 knockout and seven submission wins.
Although she is taking this fight on less than three weeks’ notice, Aldrich is the much better fighter in the stand-up and she also has the 4.5-inch reach advantage. However, Aldrich will have to deal with an opponent who loves to wrestle. And if Robertson gets her wrestling going, she usually wins.
If Aldrich can keep this on the feet, I think she has the edge. But I’m not sure if she can handle Robertson once the latter changes levels. Once she gets on top of Aldrich, there may be no getting back up. Barring any unfortunate incident, Robertson’s top game caries her to a decision win here although I’m not discounting the possibility that she shocked out Aldrich late in the fight.
Prediction: Gillian Robertson
Trevin Jones is a former PXC bantamweight champion who also fought under Top FC, ACB, and Deep Impact before joining the UFC. The 31-year old from New Orleans knocked out Timur Valiev in his UFC debut but that win was overturned to a no-contest after he failed a drug test. Jones heads to this bout after getting submitted by Said Yakub Kakhramonov last August 2021.
He has an overall record of 13-7 with three knockouts and four submission wins. Jones is a southpaw who is 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches.
Javid Basharat is a veteran of Rise of Champions, UC MMA, Celtic Gladiator, FightStar Championship, and Oktagon MMA. The 26-year old from London, England appeared in the Contender Series last year and picked up a guillotine choke submission win over Oron Kahlon to earn his UFC contract. This will make his first bout under the UFC.
Basharat is 11-0 with five knockouts and six submission victories. He stands 5-9 tall with a reach of 69 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Basharat has the tools to win this fight. In the striking department, he is elusive enough when he fights from long range. Jones has good grappling and a big right hand but can’t get himself in a spot where he can initiate the grappling exchanges or land that big punch.
You can’t count out Jones because of his punching power and his barrage of comeback punches. However, if Basharat doesn’t lose his composure and gets lured into a brawl, I think he will be able to pile up the points with his long-range striking. For as long as he sticks to his game plan, Basharat should punish Jones’ body with scoring strikes that earn him a comfortable unanimous decision.
Prediction: Javit Basharat
Damon Jackson is a former interim featherweight champion at Legacy Fighting Alliance and featherweight champion at LFC. The 33-year old from Durant, Oklahoma also fought under Bellator MMA and King of Cage. Jackson joined the UFC in 2020 and defeated Mirsad Bektik in his UFC debut. He would suffer a first round knockout loss to Ilia Topuria at UFC Vegas 16 but bounced back to beat Charles Rosa via decision in his most recent bout last October 9, 2021.
Jackson has a record of 19-4 with three knockouts and 14 wins via submission. He is a switch hitter who is 5-7 tall with a reach of 71 inches.
Kamuela Kirk is a veteran of Rage in the Cage, World Fighting Federation, Victory Fighting Championship, and LFA. The 27-year old from Arizona entered the Contender Series in 2019 but was knocked out by Billy Quarantillo. Kirk returned to LFA and after back-to-back wins, he got signed by the UFC in 2021 and defeated Makwan Amirkhani in his UFC debut last June 5, 2021.
Kirk has the edge in striking here and he also has the takedown defense to prevent Jackson from implementing his impressive top game. Sure, Kirk is taking this fight on short notice but I think he has the edge anywhere this fight goes: better striking, better wrestling, and good enough submission and takedown defense.
In short, Jackson won’t be able to find Kirk’s neck and record another submission by choke win. Depending on how Kirk decides to fight, he’s either going to outstrike Jackson on the feet or dominate him on the mat. Either way, this should be a not-so-difficult fight to win for Kirk.
Prediction: Kamuela Kirk
Sabina Mazo is a former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. The 24-year old from Medellin, Colombia joined the UFC in 2019 and won three out of her first four assignments. Mazo then lost on points to Alexis Davis in a bantamweight bout last February 2021 and was then submitted by Mariya Agapova in her return to flyweight last October 8, 2021.
Mazo has a record of 9-3 with two knockouts and one submission win. She is 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Miranda Maverick spent most of her early career at Invicta FC but also made an appearance for Shogun Fights. The 24-year old from Tunas, Missouri joined the UFC in 2020 and picked up back-to-back wins over Liana Jouja and Gillian Robertson. Maverick struggled last year as she lost a close split decision to Maycee Barber at UFC Vegas 32 and was beaten via unanimous decision by Erin Blanchfield at UFC 269.
Maverick is 9-4 with one knockout and five submission wins. She is a southpaw who stands 5-3 tall with a reach of 65 inches.
Mazo has been underwhelming in the UFC. Even her wins weren’t as convincing as she beat J.J. Aldrich via split decision and was losing on points to Justin Kish before coming up with a finish. No question that at 24, the potential is there but that’s not going to be enough against her next opponent.
Maverick has had her share of issues. However, Mazo’s style looks tailor-made for Maverick to exploit. Maverick has a wrestling-heavy attack that Mazo has been vulnerable to in her previous bouts. Maverick also has more than enough aggression to carry this fight on the feet. In the end, I’m seeing Miranda overcoming the discrepancy in height and reach. She overpowers Mazo and picks up the victory.
Prediction: Miranda Maverick
Dalcha Lungiambula is a former EFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. The 34-yea old Congolese fighter joined the UFC in 2019 and is 2-2 in four UFC bouts, going 1-1 as a light heavyweight and also 1-1 as a middleweight. In his last bout, Lungiambula lost on points to Marc-Andre Bariault last September 4, 2021.
Lungiambula has a record of 11-3 with five knockouts and one submission win. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 76 inches.
Cody Brundage fought at Lights Out Championship, Motor City Cagefights, and Caged Thunder. He made an appearance at the Contender Series in 2020 but was knocked out by William Knight. After losing to Knight, he made an appearance for LFA where he beat Joseph Kropschot which earned him a UFC spot. Brundage lost to Nick Maximov in his UFC debut at UFC 266.
Brundage stands six feet tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter. He has a record 6-2 with three knockouts and two submission victories.
Lungiambula looked better in his last bout as he was more active and landed more strikes in that fight than he did in his previous bout. However, his tendency to put everything in his punches and his inability to stop his opponents from forcing him to the fence are two things that Brundage can take advantage of.
Brundage is more athletic and has good wrestling fundamentals. Lungiambula’s style will give Brundage several opportunities to get in on his opponent’s hips, especially with Lungiambula not having the best takedown defense in the business. For as long as Brundage doesn’t get careless here, he should be able to expose Lungiambula’s weaknesses while picking up points on takedowns and top control.
Prediction: Cody Brundage
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