UFC Action switches back to the APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 51 featuring a rematch between top welterweight contenders Belal Muhammad and Vicente Luque.
Muhammad and Luque previously fought at UFC 205 at the Madison Square Garden in New York. In that bout, Luque stopped Muhammad via knockout at the 1:19 mark of the very first round. Since then, Muhammad has lost just once and is now the no. 6 ranked welterweight contender in the UFC. Meanwhile, Luque has gone 10-2 since that bout and is the no. 5 ranked welterweight in the promotion.
A matchup between middleweight prospects Caio Borralho and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev will also be featured in the event. Meanwhile, an exciting slugfest is expected when Mayra Bueno Silva takes on Yanan Wu on the main card.
Before the big names take the Octagon, an exciting prelims undercard precedes the show. Let’s take a look at the UFC Vegas 51 prelims undercard and make our predictions.
Devin Clark is a former Ressurection Fighting Alliance middleweight champion. The 32-year-old from Sioux Falls, Dakota also fought under Knockout Events and Total Fight Challenge. Before joining the UFC in 2016, Clark was scouted by no less than UFC President Dana White in the latter’s Dana White Looking for a Fight series. He has an even 6-6 record inside the UFC Octagon and is coming off back-to-back losses against Anthony Smith and Ion Cutelaba.
Clark has a record of 12-6 with three knockouts and one submission victory. He stands six feet tall with a reach of 75 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
William Knight is a former Premier FC light heavyweight champion. The 34-yea old from Manchester, Connecticut also fought under Reality Fighting, Premier FC, and CES MMA. Knight made two appearances at the Contender Series where he picked up wins over Herdem Alacabek and Cody Brundage. The win over Brundage earned him a UFC deal and he has posted a 3-2 record under the UFC. Knight lost to Maxim Grishin on points in his last bout at UFC 271 just last February 12th.
Knight is 11-3 with nine knockouts. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 73 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Clark owns a two-inch advantage in height and reach over Knight. But he isn’t a fighter who is going to use his length to win a fight. Clark would rather tie up and take his opponents to the mat where he hopes to land some big punches from the top position. On his feet, he is also a willing slugger but doesn’t have good technique or consistency.
Knight doesn’t have good stand-up technique either. However, he has raw physical strength that could control Clark whom we’ve seen get manhandled before.
Knowing that Knight just moved up to heavyweight, look for Clark to actively chase the takedown, perhaps becoming overly committed to it. That should leave Knight and his strength the possibility of reversing Clark’s attempts and getting on top of him where Knight should have no trouble pounding out his opponent.
Prediction: William Knight
Lina Lansberg is the no. 11 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC. The 40-year-old from Karlstad, Sweden is a former world amateur Muay Thai champion and the inaugural Superior Challenge women’s bantamweight champion. The “Elbow Queen” also fought for Cage Warriors, Trophy MMA, and Heroes FC before joining the UFC in 2016. Lansberg is 4-4 inside the Octagon and is coming off a decision loss to Sara McMann way back in January 2020.
Lansberg has a record of 10-5 with four knockouts. She stands 5-7 tall with a reach of 65 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Pannie Kianzad is the no. 12 ranked female bantamweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old Iranian-born Swedish fighter previously fought at Invicta FC and Cage Warriors, holding the women’s bantamweight belt in the latter promotion. Kianzad was the runner-up at The Ultimate Fighter 28 where she lost to Macy Chiasson in the finale. Since that loss, she’s picked up a 5-2 record but is coming off a loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC Vegas 37 last September 18, 2021.
Kianzad is 15-6 with three knockouts. She is 5-7 tall with a reach of 66 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Lansberg is skilled enough to do what Pennington did to Kianzad and win this fight. As her monicker says, she is the Elbow Queen and she liked to throw those when she pins her opponent against the fence. Unfortunately for Lansberg, she is already 40 years old and has not fought since 2020. She also doesn’t throw too many strikes and statistically, Kianzad almost doubles her output in the striking department.
I think that the younger Kianzad will outwork Lansberg in this fight with her high-volume striking. I don’t see this fight going to the mat so Kianzad should be able to outpoint Lansberg on the feet. Lansberg losing steam after the first round is a possibility given her age and long layoff, that could open up the possibility of a stoppage for Kianzad. Either way, Kianzad wins this.
Prediction: Pannie Kianzad
Drakkar Klose is a former Rage in the Cage lightweight champion. The 34-yea old from South Haven, Michigan is also a veteran of World Fighting Federation, Duel for Domination, and Tachi Palace fights before joining the UFC in 2017. Klose has a decent 5-2 record inside the UFC Octagon but is coming off a second-round knockout loss to Beneil Dariush at UFC 248 way back in March 2020.
Klose has a record of 11-2 with four knockouts. He is 5-9 tall with a reach of 70 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Brandon Jenkins is a veteran who has fought for promotions like Warrior Promotions, Savage Entertainment, Shine MMA, KOTC, Midwest Fight Series, Driller Promotions, LFA, and Caged Aggression. The 30-year-old from Prior Lake, Minnesota also appeared at the PFL 9 tournament before joining the UFC last year. Jenkins lost his UFC debut again Zhu Rong via 3rd round knockout.
Jenkins is 15-8 with 10 knockouts and three submission wins. He stands six feet tall with a reach of 71 inches and is a switch hitter.
Jenkins lost his short-notice UFC debut against Zhy but prior to that, he defeated Jacob Kilburn via flying knee knockout. However, he could be in for a treat against a high-quality opponent in Klose who is coming from a long layoff.
Klose seems to outclass Jenkins in every department. He has the striking skills to punish Jenkins on the feet and the ability to maul him on the ground as Zhu did. While Jenkins lives up to Mr. Highlight Reel monicker, he doesn’t have a solid base he can rely on when he is in trouble. That said, he may need another sensational KO to beat Klose, which won’t be the case here. Unless the ring rust is too much for Klose, he mauls Jenkins after the first round.
Prediction: Drakkar Klose
Rafa Garcia is a former Combate Americas lightweight champion. The 27-year-old from Brawley, California also appeared for Extreme Full Contact, Warrior Fighting Championship, and Fight For Glory before joining the UFC in 2021. After losing his first two UFC assignments against Belal Muhammad and Chris Gruetzemacher, Garcia defeated Nathan Levy last November 2021 for his first UFC win.
Garcia has a record of 13-2 with one knockout and seven submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 70 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Jesse Ronson has been a professional MMA fighter since 2009 and has fought under promotions like Aggression FC, Score Fighting Series, and TKO Major League MMA in Canada where he was a former lightweight and welterweight champion. The 36-year-old from Ontario, Canada is also a former kickboxer and amateur boxer. He went 0-3 under the UFC in 2014 and was released. Ronson re-joined the UFC in 2020 and submitted Nicolas Dalby in his first fight back. However, the win was overturned to a no-contest after Ronson failed a drug test.
Ronson has a record of 21-10 with 10 knockouts and seven submission victories. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 70 inches and is a southpaw fighter.
Ronson’s best weapons are his cardio and attrition style. But given that he has not fought since 2020, it’s unsure what’s left of both. On paper, he provides a good fight against Garcia but in reality, I’m not sure what is left of him after a long layoff.
Ronson has struggled with persistent wrestlers and Garcia is a fighter who chases them until his gas tank runs out. I think Garcia is able to take Ronson down here and racks up enough top control to earn points. On the feet, Ronson is the better fighter but he can’t fight thee unless he defends the takedowns.
Prediction: Rafa Garcia
Heili Alateng began fighting for Real Fight MMA Championship, Ranik Ultimate Fighting Federation, Kunlun Fight, and Road FC before heading to the UFC in 2019. Heili won his first two UFC bouts against Danaa Batgerel and Ryan Benoit but was beaten by Casey Kenney in his next bout. In his most recent Octagon appearance, Heili figured in a unanimous draw against Gustavo Lopez last September 18, 2021. Heili was deducted a point in round 3 for grabbing the cage.
The 30-year-old from Mongolia is 14-8 with four knockouts and three submission victories. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 5-5 tall with a reach of 66 inches.
Kevin Croom is a former Fighting Alliance Championship featherweight champion and Shamrock Fighting Championship bantamweight champion. The 34-year-old from Columbia, Missouri also fought for LFA, Bellator, CES, and Fighting Alliance Championship before joining the UFC in 2020. Croom defeated Roosevelt Roberts in his UFC debut but the win was overturned to a no-contest after he failed a drug test. He would go on to lose his next two bouts against Alex Caceres and Brian Kelleher.
Croom is 21-14 with six knockouts and 10 submission victories. He stands 5-11 tall with a reach of 73 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Heili has the wrestling skills to out grapple Croom the way Kelleher did. He also has powerful right hooks that could take Croom off his striking game. However, the Mongolian Knight doesn’t fight with a lot of urgency and looks timid at times. Statistically, he has been outlander on the feet almost 2-1.
Croom can’t seem to find his luck in the UFC. This fight won’t be any easier. If he can fight with an increased output, he can outpoint Heili. The problem is he doesn’t have much to offer in his striking arsenal. Heili doesn’t throw too much but whatever volume he has looks like it’s enough to outpoint Croom in a close bout.
Prediction: Heili Alateng
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