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X-Factor! Some UFC Vegas 13 main card predictions

UFC 239: Jones v Santos Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

This weekend (Sat., Nov. 7, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 13. After much delay, Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira will meet in the main event in a likely title eliminator match up (admittedly complicated by Israel Adesanya’s Light Heavyweight move). Before those two men trade haymakers, however, we have some very solid and exciting fights to dig into.

Let’s take a closer look at some main card fights:

Middleweight: Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen

Best Win for Heinisch? Antonio Carlos Junior For Allen? Kevin Holland
Current Streak: Heinisch returned to the win column last time out, while Allen has won three straight inside the Octagon and seven overall
X-Factor: Which man better implements the gameplan?
How these two match up: This is likely to be a rather high-paced fight for 185 pounds.

Heinisch jumped into the deep end of Middleweight competition quickly and almost immediately did well. He has a solid wrestling background and has proven tremendously difficult to hold down, which aided him greatly against jiu-jitsu players. He’s struggled more with opponents who opt to strike with him, though his recent knockout win suggests some growth in that realm.

Meanwhile, Allen is off to a perfect (3-0) start, having already picked up some high-quality wins in his young UFC career. The former LFA champ is pretty well-rounded, but he primarily looks to drag opponents to the mat and dominate in scrambles.

Allen is an ultra talented up-and-comer, but this fight will test a different aspect of his game: Fight IQ. If Allen goes out determined to grind his opponent into the dust and win the wrestling battle constantly, there’s a real chance Heinisch rolls his way to another excellent display of defensive wrestling and picks up the win.

If, instead, Allen trusts his overall skill set rather than just his grappling background — a difficult task for many young fighters — he’s likely to do real well. He’s the much smoother striker and seems to carry more pop in his hands. Plus, when flowing well, Allen kicks rather effectively and sets up his shots really well.

If Heinisch is getting picked apart, the takedown is more likely to land anyway.

Prediction: Allen via decision

Women’s Strawweight: Claudia Gadelha vs. Yan Xiaonan

Best Win for Gadelha? Karolina Kowalkiewicz For Xiaonan? ... also Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Current Streak: Gadelha has won her last two, while Xiaonan has picked up five consecutive UFC wins
X-Factor: Gadelha’s cardio
How these two match up: Grappler vs. striker in the best women’s division!

Gadelha has seen some ups-and-downs as of late, but when she’s at her best, Gadelha is a title threat. Gadelha has pretty solid hands for a jiu-jitsu ace, and her blast double is no joke — it’s really her ability to maintain a consistent pace that has proven an issue.

On the other side, Xiaonan is a really active kickboxer. She throws a snapping 1-2 and puts together combinations quite well. In addition, her wrestling has proven quite solid, as she’s stuffed a solid majority of the shots that come her direction.

At some point, everything may click for Gadelha. She’s at a great camp in New Jersey under the tutelage of Mark Henry, and her kickboxing seems to be improving, yet she continues to slow down in the latter half of the fight. If she ever fixes that flaw, it’s game over for most Strawweights.

Yet, this is a known problem, and it’s remained as such for several fights. Is there any reason to believe this one will be different?

On the flip side, Xiaonan has been consistently impressive, and her pace is ridiculous even considering the division. Plus, she’s spent the last month or so training at Team Alpha Male, which is a solid place to be for shoring up any defensive grappling deficiencies.

Xiaonan survives some compromising spots in the first and takes over from that point.

Prediction: Xiaonan via decision

Bantamweight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Khalid Taha

Best Win for Barcelos? Said Nurmagomedov For Taha? Boston Salmon
Current Streak: Barcelos has now won four straight inside the Octagon, while Taha comes off a “No Contest” and victory.
X-Factor: Taha’s power
How these two match up: Bantamweights rarely fail to deliver a high-paced action fight.

I’ll be honest, Barcelos deserved a higher ranked name. He’s been spectacular so far and picked up some quality wins, demonstrating a really well-rounded and dangerous game. Barcelos has been largely finishing opponents, but at 33 years old, it’s time to give the guy a chance to break into the title mix.

None of this is to say that Taha is a pushover. He’s got serious knockout power and can cover a surprising amount of distance quickly. Plus, the German is a pretty physical force at 135 pounds.

I am a believer in Barcelos, perhaps not as a future champion, but as a top contender. The Brazilian has been grappling and wrestling for pretty much his entire life, combining for excellent fluidity on the mat. Plus, he has knockout power, and his counter striking game is legit.

Beating Nurmagomedov should have earned him a step up. As it is, expect Barcelos to style on another unranked foe and hopefully avoid getting overlooked again.

Prediction: Barcelos via submission

Remember that 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.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 51-22

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