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X-Factor! Some UFC on ESPN 15 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Sato v Witt Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

This weekend (Sat., Aug. 22, 2020), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will continue its stay at the UFC APEX for UFC on ESPN 15 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A pivotal Bantamweight clash headlines the night, as Frankie Edgar will make his long overdue drop to 135-pounds against divisional bulldog Pedro Munhoz. Truly, this card is not the best overall, but I’m expecting some knockouts, which really makes up for the lack of divisional relevance. Somewhat relevant: My x-factor picks are on the best streak in the history of these posts at 12 straight correct picks! That may be because I don’t write them for pay-per-view (PPV) events (who saw Daniel Pineda out-grappling Herbert Burns?!?), but it still counts, so let’s keep the dice rolling and break down some main card fights!

Remember, we’ll be back later this week to preview and predict the biggest fights of this weekend’s event.

Light Heavyweight: Marcin Prachnio vs. Mike Rodriguez

Best Win for Prachnio? Gilberto Galvao For Rodriguez? Adam Milstead
Current Streak: Prachnio has lost both of his UFC bouts via knockout, whereas Rodrgiuez came up short last time out
X-Factor: Prachnio’s recklessness
How these two match up: I’ll be honest, I kind of assumed these two were no longer on the roster.

Prachnio is a Kyokushin karate specialist, and he knocked out some very talented fighters in One Championship. I don’t know what happened when he jumped shipped to the Octagon, as Prachnio has rushed into sloppy exchanges and paid the price. Getting knocked out by Sam Alvey does not excite fans about one’s potential ...

As for Rodriguez, the “Contender Series” product has yet to find consistent success, as he currently sports a 1-2 (1) record inside the promotion. “Slow” is a deceptively explosive striker, one who tends to time counter punches rather well.

I do not like trying to pick this fight. It is not fun. On one hand, Prachnio has faced and defeated a much higher level of competition. In defense of his losses, Alvey’s counter right hook is deadly, and Magomed Ankalaev is the division’s best prospect. Rodriguez is definitely a step back from the latter.

He was just so sloppy, though.

On the whole, I like what I’ve seen better from Rodriguez. His technique has been cleaner, but he’s also been fighting a lower level of opponent, which has to be considered.

Ultimately, Prachnio is the more proven hitter, and it’s not like Rodriguez is really a defensive master. Just because a fight can go either way, doesn’t mean it’s likely to last long ...

Prediction: Prachnio via knockout

Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez vs. Takashi Sato

Best Win for Rodriguez? Tim Means For Sato? Ben Saunders
Current Streak: Rodriguez has won two straight inside the Octagon and seven total, while Sato returned to the win column last time out.
X-Factor: which fighter can set the pace?
How these two match up: Once more, we have a clash of knockout artists.

Rodriguez carries seriously heavy power in his hands. In his debut opposite Means, Rodriguez really impressed from his back foot, timing Means straight punches with simultaneous looping power shots and getting his head off line. His second fight was a better sloppier, but he still got the job done and threw some heat.

It’s still tough to get a read on Sato. He’s clearly a pretty skilled striker, but the two men he knocked out in UFC were not amazingly high-level. His loss, on the other hand, came to Belal Muhammad, who is very arguably a top 10 Welterweight.

Major difference in competition, major difference in result.

This is likely to be a very competitive fight between skilled strikers. Rodriguez is seemingly the more durable man, but Sato has a speed advantage. Rodriguez could time him coming in, but barring a perfect counter connection, I like Sato’s punch and pull game to draw out his opponent’s counters and land further punches.

Sato’s jab-pull-jab cross lands at some point and ends this one.

Prediction: Sato via knockout

Women’s Strawweight: Amanda Lemos vs. Mizuki Inoue

Best Win for Lemos? Miranda Granger For Inoue? Yanan Wu
Current Streak: Lemos scored her first UFC victory last time out, while Inoue did the same to extend her win streak to two
X-Factor: Can the former Bantamweight out-muscle her opponent?
How these two match up: My man Patrick Stumberg has written about this fight prior to a previous booking and cancelation, is much more knowledgable about Invicta FC veterans than me, and came to the same conclusion regarding the prediction, so here’s his write up:

Lemos’ Octagon debut couldn’t have gone much worse for her, as a technical knockout loss to Leslie Smith was swiftly followed by a two-year suspension because of a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation. She dropped from 135 to 115 pounds for her return in Dec. 2019, which saw her choke out the favored Miranda Granger in less than four minutes.

She has knocked out five opponents and submitted another two.

Inoue entered the world’s largest fight promotion with wins in six of his previous seven fights, the only loss a split decision to Invicta standout Virna Jandiroba. In Aug. 2019, she made her long-awaited debut a successful one by taking a decision over Yanan Wu in Shenzhen.

This will be her first fight in almost one year, as the coronavirus scrapped a planned March bout with Tecia Torres.

It’s hard to get an exact bead on Lemos when she’s only fought for four minutes in the last three years. She clearly does have skill, as demonstrated by her first-round success against Smith and successful grappling of Granger, but it remains to be seen whether she’s fixed her cardio. For her own sake, she’d better have — Inoue is a high-volume striker whose technical boxing looks equal to or better than Lemos’ own standup attack.

Inoue just seems to have at least a slight edge wherever the fight goes, whether it be her in-and-out striking or oft-underutilized submission skills. Unless Lemos has some unseen tricks up her sleeve, Inoue comfortably outworks her for a decision.

Prediction: Inoue via unanimous decision

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 15 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 15: “Munhoz vs. Edgar” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2020: 36-11