*** UPDATE: Curtis Blaydes has tested positive for COVID-19 and his fight against Derrick Lewis has been postponed. Read more. ***
This weekend (Sat., Nov. 28, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will remain in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 15. It’s something of a tradition for the event directly following Thanksgiving and “Black Friday” to be a weak, usually held in the middle of the night in Asia and filled with largely unknown combatants. Well, the bouts may take place in UFC APEX this year, but even hardcore fight fans are unlikely to know most of the names filling it up.
Still, there are some known factors, and hopefully a couple new talents will emerge. Let’s take a closer look at some main card fights:
Heavyweight: Josh Parisian vs. Parker Porter
Best Win for Parisian? Chad Johnson For Porter? Dirlei Broenstrup
Current Streak: Parisian has won six straight (including his most recent on “Contender Series”), whereas Porter recently lost his Octagon debut
X-Factor: UFC jitters for Parisian?
How these two match up: Low-level Heavyweight action at its finest (or worst).
Parisian isn’t the usual Heavyweight. Despite weighing in at 265 pounds, Parisian has some speed, and he uses it to throw flashier techniques like spinning back fists. If he’s able to gain top position, he’s dangerous with both submission and ground strikes. Porter also tops the scales at the Heavyweight limit, but he’s the more predictable mix of winging hooks and takedowns along the fence.
Are my expectations particularly high for either man? No, not really. Between the two, however, Parisian is simply more impressive. He’s younger, a better athlete, has wins over a high caliber of competition — the works. Porter, meanwhile, was utterly blown out of the water in his UFC debut.
I have no reason to believe the sequel will go differently.
Prediction: Parisian via knockout
Women’s Flyweight: Gina Mazany vs. Rachael Ostovich
Best Win for Mazany? Wu Yanan For Ostovich? Ariel Beck
Current Streak: Mazany came up short last time out, while Ostovich has lost two straight
X-Factor: Will Mazany make weight at 125 lbs.?
How these two match up: I fully expect a sloppy grappling match.
Mazany, 32, brings a 1-4 UFC record into this contest. She faces an unfortunate situation where better athletes are often able to overwhelm her quickly and end the fight in an instant. When not outmatched physically, Mazany does have a decent boxing and jiu-jitsu game.
Ostovich’s overall record is 4-5, so this is not exactly a wash (nor should it be a main card fight). She has something of an opposite issue to Mazany, as Ostovich is a pretty talented athlete, but the Hawaiian has run into struggles against more technical opponents.
These two will throw hands right away, and perhaps Ostovich can take Mazany out immediately. More likely, neither can maintain boxing distance, and they instead crash into the clinch, where someone starts scoring takedowns.
My money is on Ostovich. Even if she is put on her back early, it’s unlikely that Mazany can maintain pace with Ostovich. Eventually, Ostovich is going to gain top position, and once that happens, she’s likely to stay ahead.
Prediction: Ostovich via decision
Welterweight: Miguel Baeza vs. Takashi Sato
Best Win for Baeza? Matt Brown For Sato? Ben Saunders
Current Streak: Baeza is undefeated at 9-0 with two wins inside the Octagon, while Sato returned to the win column last time out
X-Factor: Will one of the strikers mix it up with a takedown?
How these two match up: Finally, a good f—king fight.
Florida’s Baeza is a smooth kickboxer with considerable power in his hands. Seven of his nine victories come via knockout, including his most recent counter striking performance against Brown, which saw Baeza overcome adversity before gliding around the cage and picking the veteran apart.
Sato is another Welterweight puncher, and he’s stopped 11 of his past opponents. Sato is in a strange situation where he’s pretty easily stopped two foes who are not exactly UFC caliber, but his only loss inside the Octagon came to a ranked opponent.
So, he can beat weak opposition and lose to top-tier foes ... which probably describes most UFC Welterweights.
At any rate, we have a kickboxing match on our hands! Both athletes have very nice footwork, as Baeza manages range well, and Sato excels at suddenly closing the gab with a powerful one-two combination. Since this is likely to be a competitive battle at distance, I like what I’ve seen from Baeza’s movement, and his advantages in height and reach are also helpful.
The younger “Caramel Thunder” remains undefeated inside the Octagon.
Prediction: Baeza via decision
Light Heavyweight: Anthony Smith vs. Devin Clark
Best Win for Smith? Volkan Oezdemir For Clark? Alonzo Menifield
Current Streak: Smith has lost consecutive bouts, whereas Clark has won two straight
X-Factor: Can Smith rebound from some brutal losses?
How these two match up: This is one of the most important fights on the card.
Smith was an unlikely contender at 205 pounds, then reality came crashing back down in the form of dominant losses to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic. Smith was ejected from the title mix as a result, but now the veteran will look to start climbing his way back up.
Smith is a Muay Thai specialist with some crafty jiu-jitsu.
Clark is an example of a fighter brought to the big show by physical gifts. He’s a tremendous athlete with a good wrestling background, but Clark’s inexperience saw him struggle a bit against more established 205-pounders. Perhaps that’s turning around though, as Clark has now won three of his last four.
Has Clark developed enough to survive dangerous positions against a veteran finisher like “Lionheart?” Has Smith slipped enough to get dominated by a fairly one-note wrestler? One of those two things must be true for “Brown Bear” to pick up the win.
If this fight happens again in two years, I may feel differently. At the moment, however, Smith’s recent struggles are not enough to suggest that he cannot punish Clark’s straight-forward striking or catch him exhausted in the fight with a knee or strangle.
Prediction: Smith via knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 15 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN2 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 15: “Blaydes vs. Lewis” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.