Two former Light Heavyweight title contenders will look to claim first dibs on new champion Jan Blachowicz this Saturday (Nov. 7, 2020) when Thiago Santos returns from injury to face Glover Teixeira in UFC Vegas 13’s main event. Up at Heavyweight, Andrei Arlovski attempts to halt the rise of Tanner Boser, while heavy-hitting Khalid Taha faces fellow Bantamweight up-and-comer Raoni Barcelos.
We’re presently sitting at a half-dozen “Prelims” undercard bouts to go along with the five-fight main card. Let’s get the first chunk out of the way.
135 lbs.: Sarah Moras vs. Vanessa Melo
Sarah Moras (6-6) battled her way to a semifinal finish on TUF 23, then emerged victorious in two of her first three Octagon appearances. “Cheesecake” is just 1-4 since, most recently falling to fellow TUF veteran Sijara Eubanks in May.
Three of her five professional finishes have come by form of knockout.
Vanessa Melo (10-8) put a 5-5 professional start behind her to win five straight, ultimately joining UFC after a decision over veteran Jan Finney. She’s yet to taste victory in the Octagon, going 0-3 against Irene Aldana, Tracy Cortez, and Karol Rosa.
She gives up two inches of height and reach to Moras.
Even in a weight class as talent-starved as Women’s Bantamweight, this looks like a loser-goes-home matchup. Moras’ inability to support her submission prowess with competent wrestling and Melo’s lack of power or striking output have left them near the division’s bottom rung.
Moras will never have a number next to her name, but she should be too much for Melo. She’s got the stronger ground game of the two and even if Melo is potentially the better striker, she’s so lackadaisical in her approach that Moras can win on the feet through sheer activity. “Cheesecake” outworks “Miss Simpatia” to a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Moras via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov
I wrote this fight up the first time these two were booked to fight and my opinion hasn’t changed, so I’ll be reusing that prediction with some slight adjustments.
After missing the Light Heavyweight limit twice in a row, Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-6-1) returned to Heavyweight for the first time since his UFC debut and made up for lost time with a decision over Adam Wieczorek. Though he failed to capitalize on a strong first round against Stefan Struve and ultimately tapped, he got back in track last February with a faceplant knockout of Ben Sosoli in Auckland.
“Pezao” owns 12 professional wins by form of knockout and another three via submission.
Moldova’s Alexander Romanov (11-0) started his professional career with nine consecutive first-round finishes before requiring three rounds to put away Sultan Murtazaliev in 2018. After scoring a slam knockout the next year, he joined UFC, ultimately debuting with a submission of Roque Martinez after fights with Raphael Pessoa, Marcin Tybura, and the aforementioned de Lima fell through.
“King Kong” has finished six opponents in less than two minutes apiece.
I haven’t gotten to use the phrase “two-true-outcome fight” in a while, so forgive me for busting it out here. de Lima, despite being an undisciplined Light Heavyweight cosplaying a Heavyweight, packs truly horrific power the likes of which Romanov has ever seen. On the other hand, “Pezao” is embarrassingly helpless off of his back and has appalling fight IQ. Recall how he dropped Struve, dominated the rest of the round, and then initiated the grappling in the second instead of just smashing the division’s easiest target. If Romanov gets on top, he’ll have little to no difficulty getting the finish.
There’s your outcomes: either de Lima clips the former rikishi in the opening minutes or gets rag-dolled and demolished on the mat. Considering Romanov’s size advantage, I favor the latter. “King Kong” forces him to the fence, slams him down, and either pounds or chokes him out soon after.
Prediction: Romanov via first-round submission
145 lbs.: Giga Chikadze vs. Jamey Simmons
Giga Chikadze (11-2) has proven one of the busiest UFC fighters this year, racking up a 3-0 record after his 2019 debut. Though his March victory over Jamall Emmers came down to the wire, he was dominant in decisions over Irwin Rivera and Omar Morales, the latter of whom he defeated less than a month ago.
He is seven inches taller than “The Afro Samurai.”
Jamey Simmons (7-2) went 6-0 with five finishes as an amateur before making his professional debut in 2017. A five-fight 2019 campaign saw him go 4-1, three of those wins coming by knockout in under four combined minutes, and he scored a submission win just two weeks ago.
Four of his five professional finishes have come by form of knockout.
According to Chikadze, he attempted to step in for the injured Jeremy Stephens against Arnold Allen, resulting in this matchup when “Almighty” declined. That explains why they’re pitting the Georgian, who’s really found his groove in the Octagon, against an unproven debutant. Simmons has some wrestling skills, but raw standup and potential cardio issues make this an ostensible blowout in Chikadze’s favor.
Simmons might have had a shot against the Contender Series incarnation of Chikadze, who had yet to develop any sort of counter-wrestling. Unfortunately for him, the current Chikadze is good enough to keep it standing and has a plethora of tools with which to punish Simmons’ overextension. Chikadze scores his first Octagon finish before long.
Prediction: Chikadze via first-round technical knockout
Three more UFC Vegas 13 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the latest from Darren Elkins. Same time tomorrow Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 13 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN2 / ESPN+ 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 13: “Santos vs. Teixeira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.