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X-Factor! Some UFC Vegas 16 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Evloev v Grundy Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This weekend (Sat., Dec. 5, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will remain in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 16. Headlining match ups are taking dives like Bob Sapp to the point that I’m hesitant to write about any of these fights more than 24 hours in advance. Nevertheless, we’re going to do our best to take a look at some main card fights, and hopefully at least a couple of them will actually happen on Saturday night.

Let’s take a closer look:

Women’s Flyweight: Montana de la Rosa vs. Taila Santos

Best Win for de la Rosa? Mara Romero Borella For Santos? Molly McCann
Current Streak: De la Rosa has lost her most recent fight, while Santos won her last bout
X-Factor: high level experience vs. overall experience
How these two match up: I predict a pretty fun grappling match.

De la Rosa has fought several of the top talents at both Flyweight and 115 pounds, though she lost to most of the high-profile foes. All the same, “Monty” is a talented wrestler with tight top control and an active submission game.

Eight of her victories come via tapout.

Conversely, Santos spent a lot of time crushing cans on the regional scene in Brazil, but she proved herself both on “Contender Series” and in two UFC fights. Santos has a solid Muay Thai game, but she’s done a lot of her work in the Octagon on the mat, scoring five takedowns in her recent upset opposite McCann.

Despite the MMA math advantage (de la Rosa out-wrestled Borella, who managed to split Santos), this seems like a rough match up for the Texan. Santos seems the more physical fighter, which will go a long way in nullifying de la Rosa’s wrestling experience. Plus, the Brazilian is the better, more powerful striker, which means de la Rosa has to navigate those dangerous waters before finding the shot.

Most likely, the striking and strength advantage for Santos allow her to deny or reverse takedowns, at which point de la Rosa cannot implement her excellent top game.

Prediction: Santos via decision

Light Heavyweight: Roman Dolidze vs. John Allan

Best Win for Dolidze? Khadis Ibragimov For Allan? Alexandre Silva
Current Streak: Dolidze is undefeated (7-0) and recently won his UFC debut, while Allan comes off a “No Contest” due to a short-notice upset win ... followed by a drug test failure
X-Factor: Allan’s been on the sidelines since July 2019
How these two match up: Two big lads will step into the cage looking to throw hands and prove themselves.

Dolidze’s debut was pretty simple but impressive. Against Ibragimov, he circled, switched stances, and threw hard kicks to the head and body. Ibragimov grew frustrated, prompting Dolidze to go high for the first time and walk his opponent into the knockout.

All six of his victories come via stoppage.

A professional since 2012, Allan really impressed in his own debut, pressing Rodriguez to the fence with combinations, mixing in body shots and elbows to great effect. He wore his opponent down well and did so on short-notice, but it will remain to be seen what the Chute Boxe product looks like given a full camp and falling his suspension.

Call it a hunch, but I like Allan here. Though Dolidze is likely the deadlier finisher, he seems to prefer a distance striking battle. Allan, meanwhile, is happy to pressure forward and force an ugly brawl, at which point the distance changes.

Fighting chest-to-chest and trading strikes from the dirty boxing range is exhausting, and it makes it difficult to release power kicks. If Allan keeps the pressure on, he stands a real good chance at fatiguing his foe and prevent any huge strikes from landing.

It helps that the Brazilian has yet to be stopped by strikes.

Prediction: Allan via decision

Featherweight: Movsar Evloev vs. Nate Landwehr

Best Win for Evloev? Mike Grundy For Landwehr? Darren Elkins
Current Streak: Evloev is undefeated at 13-0 (three wins in UFC), while Landwehr scored his first UFC victory last time out
X-Factor: Landwehr’s aggression
How these two match up: This is a technician vs. wildcard battle between former M-1 champions and could prove to be one of the night’s best.

Evloev is really good. The 26-year-old Russian Featherweight seems destined for the Top 10, because he’s a top-tier athlete whose game is so well put together already. He moves and strikes well for as long as needed, but once Evloev changes level and gains entry on the hips — typically with excellent timing — his opponents have a miserable time getting loose.

Landwehr made his name as the M-1 Challenge Featherweight champ, traveling across the globe to fight a bunch of badass Russian talents ... and winning. He’s a bruiser, a man who walks forward and puts together punches in bunches until his foe falls down.

This is a closer fight than the betting odds imply. Evloev is a former Bantamweight, and Landwehr has spent quite some time shucking off the takedowns of talented Featherweight wrestlers. If Evloev’s wrestling is fully stuffed, he may be in for real trouble.

However, that doesn’t appear likely. Landwehr is too straightforward with his offense, and Evloev is too mobile from the outside. Even if Evloev cannot keep him down easily, at least the occasional takedown will be there, and at that point, his striking to wrestling transitions — and vice-versa — are likely to keep him a step ahead.

Landwehr swings to the final bell, but he only has three rounds to make something crazy happen.

Prediction: Evloev via decision

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 16 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 16: “Hermansson vs Vettori” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 55-25

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