This Sat. night (Aug. 1, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to UFC APEX for UFC Vegas 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Another positive COVID-19 test shook up the main event, which will now feature top prospect Edmen Shahbazyan against veteran wrestler Derek Brunson. Prior to that middleweight clash, several exciting fighters will square off, so let’s analyze some main card fights!
Remember, we’ll be back later this week to preview and predict the biggest fights of this weekend’s event.
Welterweight: Vicente Luque vs. Randy Brown
Best Win for Luque? Belal Muhammad For Brown? Bryan Barberena
Current Streak: Luque won his last bout, whereas Brown has put together two straight
X-Factor: Brown’s rapid improvement
How these two match up: This is going to be all-action.
Luque is one of the sport’s most potent offensive forces. His Muay Thai is brutal, his counter punches pack serious heat, and Luque jumps on the neck when given the slightest opening. He’s also damn tough and plenty durable, which means even elite foes that have out-maneuvered “The Silent Assassin” took damage in the process.
Alternatively, Brown is just now really coming into his own. “Rude Boy” is finding better success making the most of his lanky build, sticking his opponents with powerful straight punches as well as slamming home clinch knees.
I expect Brown to perform well here until he gets finished. His distance kickboxing has improved considerably in recent fights, which says he’s likely to land some big shots as Luque pressures. Unfortunately, Luque has no qualms about getting punched in the face; it does not deter him, and his chin has yet to fail.
Regardless of strikes absorbed, Luque will push forward until he’s in the pocket. Suddenly, Brown’s height and long jab will appear a liability, as Luque slips inside and counters with a nasty left hook or overhand.
Prediction: Luque via knockout
Lightweight: Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green 2
Best Win for Vannata? Yancy Medeiros For Green? Josh Thomson
Current Streak: Both men have won their last bout
X-Factor: Who adjusts better in this rematch?
How these two match up: The first bout won “Fight of the Night,” and I expect the sequel to live up to the hype.
Historically, Vannata is all about offense, dealing major damage with some creative kicks, quick entries, and an accurate right hand. However, his inability to pace himself cost him several fights, and he tried out a more conservative approach in his last bout to out-point Medeiros.
Green is a true veteran. Skilled everywhere, he usually likes to stand and trade, employing a nice shoulder roll and snapping counters to get the better of foes. However, Green is an underrated wrestler and grappler, and he’s generally tough as an old shoe.
Though he did earn the decision, I’ll admit that Vannata’s most recent performance opposite Medeiros did not really amaze me. He pretty much circled and threw kicks against an opponent who refused to cut off the cage. A win’s a win, but Green is a bit smarter and more varied in his offense.
There are two key factors in this bout for me. First and foremost, can Vannata out-duel Green without relying on athleticism and sapping the gas tank? It seems unlikely, as Green’s own slick boxing will not let him coast.
Secondly, I like the recent consistency I’ve seen from Green. His last three fights have all seen Green fighting tough opposition and performing well, even if the judges haven’t always agreed. Vannata is still finding himself, and while he is dangerous, that’s not ideal against a well-rounded veteran like “King.”
Prediction: Green via decision
Middleweight: Kevin Holland vs. Trevin Giles
Best Win for Holland? Gerald Meerschaert For Giles? James Krause
Current Streak: Both fighters won their most recent bout
X-Factor: Holland is a giant x-factor
How these two match up: It’s Middleweight, so expect some weirdness!
Holland is an unpredictable man. He has skills everywhere, and sometimes he shows it, like his recent body shot knockotu in just 39 seconds over Anthony Hernandez. Other times, he’ll get lackadaisical, rest at weird times, and willing compete with his opponent in their strongest area.
Opposite him will be Giles, once looked at as one of Middleweight’s hottest prospects. “The Problem” is a quality athlete with solid wrestling and a sharp left hand. Like Holland, Giles is building a reputation for making strange in-fight decisions.
This is tough. I could see Holland being too willing to grapple with Giles, resulting in Giles simply beating him up from top position. On the flip side, I could see Giles actively looking to strike rather than wrestle, in which case the most likely end result would be Giles hitting the canvas.
Both men are 27 years old, so both questionable decision-making and rapid growth are to be expected to a certain degree. Ultimately, Holland has proven himself more consistently against a higher level of competition, and he seems more comfortable wherever the fight goes.
I say it without confidence, but nevertheless ...
Prediction: Holland via submission
‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 31-11
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 5 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the main card portion that also streams on ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 5: “Brunson vs Shahbazyan” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.