Rafael dos Anjos returns to the division he once ruled this Saturday evening (Nov. 14, 2020), headlining UFC Vegas 14, which once again will take place inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, against late-notice replacement Paul Felder. The ESPN+-streamed main card will also see Abdul Razak Alhassan slug it out with Khaos Williams and a trio of Middleweight bouts that feature some very promising talents.
Three UFC Vegas 14 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (check out the first batch here). Follow me below and we’ll fix that ...
115 lbs.: Kay Hansen vs. Cory McKenna
The 21-year-old Kay Hansen (7-3) enjoyed mixed success under the Invicta banner, but managed to win her last two bouts in the promotion before jumping ship to UFC. Her June debut pitted her against former Atomweight champ Jinh Yu Frey, whom Hansen submitted in the third round to claim “Performance of the Night.”
She’ll have a 4.5-inch reach advantage over “The Hobbit.”
McKenna (5-1) went undefeated (7-0) as an amateur before joining Cage Warriors, where she scored three finishes in four victories. Her efforts led to an August “Contender Series” bout, wherein she out-grappled Vanessa Demopoulos in a contract-winning effort.
She’s knocked out two professional opponents and submitted one other.
I really, really like this matchmaking. Both women look perfectly equipped to exploit the other’s weaknesses. In particular, Hansen has poor striking and a tendency to end up in bad positions, but is an overpowering wrestler. Meanwhile, McKenna’s wrestling is largely unproven, but she’s a slick striker with excellent opportunistic submissions. This looks like a perfect learning opportunity for two very promising young women.
Hansen’s takedowns look like the deciding factor. That’s because she’s a strong enough top control specialist to shut down McKenna’s grappling attack as long as she plays it smart and doesn’t try anything fancy. McKenna’s still likely to put her in submission danger at least once, but expect Hansen’s control time to carry her to an entertaining decision.
Prediction: Hansen via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Ashley Yoder vs. Miranda Granger
Ashley Yoder (7-6) — who won her first bout on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 23 before falling to Kate Jackson — snapped a three-fight losing streak with consecutive decisions over Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo. “The Spider Monkey” has since lost two straight, dropping competitive decisions to Randa Markos and Livinha Souza.
All four of her professional submission wins have come by armbar.
A 41-second guillotine choke of Heloisa Azevedo earned Miranda Granger (7-1) the CFFC Strawweight title, her sixth consecutive finish, and a spot in the Octagon, where she defeated Hannah Goldy in her promotional debut. She couldn’t do the same to Amanda Lemos, however, tapping to a rear naked choke four months later.
She’ll enjoy a 1.5-inch reach advantage.
Yoder’s Octagon record doesn’t accurately reflect her abilities; she gave Markos, Souza, MacKenzie Dern and Angela Hill everything they could handle in defeat, and I’ve got her beating Granger. “Danger’s” recent loss to Lemos showed that she’s vulnerable to strong grapplers, and Yoder is more than skilled and relentless enough to exploit that shortcoming in similar fashion.
That said, Yoder isn’t the most potent offensive wrestler in the world, so Granger could win this if she maintains range and picks her off. Still, I favor Yoder to wrangle her to the mat for either a submission finish or comfortable decision.
Prediction: Yoder via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Alex Morono vs. Rhys McKee
Alex Morono (17-6) put a 1-2 skid behind him to win three straight, among them a “Fight of the Night” decision over Song Kenan and a first-round technical knockout of Zak Ottow. The streak cemented him as a massive favorite against Khaos Williams in February, only for “The Great White” to suffer a 27-second knockout loss.
He gives up three inches of height and half a foot of reach to Rhys McKee (10-3-1).
“Skeletor” avenged a knockout loss to Tim Barnett to claim the BAMMA Lightweight title in 2018, and though he lost the belt to Terry Brazier in his first defense, he bounced back with three consecutive finishes. He then had the misfortune of debuting against Khamzat Chimaev, who smashed him into submission halfway through the first round.
Each of his 10 wins has come inside the distance, seven of them by form of knockout.
Unless McKee has put on some much-needed mass and actually figured out how to use his ridiculous reach, he’s in for a bad time. Morono, while nobody’s idea of a striking technician, packs enough heat in those wild swings to hurt the defensively inept “Skeletor” and could find success with his ground game as well. McKee’s superior offensive boxing isn’t sufficient to overcome the disparity in strength and stopping power.
I’m just not convinced McKee can make his game work against capable Welterweights. Without the firepower to budge Morono, expect him to spend 15 minutes or less on the wrong end of a slugfest.
Prediction: Morono via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 14 ... at least the fights look to be plenty violent? See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 14 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 7 p.m. ET.
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