Two weeks after watching a match up dissolve because of missing weight (details here), Aspen Ladd will play heroine this Saturday (Oct. 16, 2021) by stepping up on short notice against Norma Dumont. In UFC Vegas 40’s co-main event, rising Heavyweight Carlos Felipe takes on the ageless Andrei Arlovski, while Jim Miller attempts to snap a two-fight skid at the expense of promotional newcomer, Erick Gonzalez.
UFC Vegas 40 features six “Prelims” to get through first (at the time of writing), so let’s get cracking ...
145 lbs.: Nate Landwehr vs. Ludovit Klein
Nate Landweher (14-4) — who entered UFC as the M-1 Featherweight champion — rebounded from an unsuccessful UFC debut by beating Darren Elkins in an absolutely wild slugfest. “The Train” returned to action nine months later, succumbing to a flying knee from Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year (watch it).
He is the taller man by two inches, though he gives up a bit of reach.
Though he missed weight beforehand, Ludovit Klein (17-3) lived up to his “Mr. Highlight” nickname in his UFC debut, scoring his third consecutive head kick knockout at Shane Young’s expense. He wasn’t quite as successful his next time out against Michael Trizano, who rode a late surge to a narrow decision victory.
He has knocked out and submitted eight professional foes apiece.
This fight goes one of two ways: either Klein puts the ever-hittable Landwehr down for the count in the first five minutes or Landwehr powers through the beating, wears him down and takes over down the stretch. Even if Klein did underperform against Trizano, the former seems a lot more likely to me. Klein’s strikes — particularly his head kick — aren’t the sorts of blows one can overcome with sheer willpower, and he’s shown the ability to fight off the back foot.
I just don’t trust Landwehr’s chin to hold up after those destructive losses to Herbert Burns and Julian Erosa, especially not against a kickboxer this skilled. In the end, Klein plants a shin against his dome before too long.
Prediction: Klein via first round knockout
135 lbs.: Danaa Batgerel vs. Brandon Davis
Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel (9-2) may not have come out on top in his UFC debut against Alatengheili, but he did walk away with a “Fight of the Night” bonus after three wild rounds.
He has been more successful and efficient since, brutally stopping Guido Cannetti and finishing Kevin Natividad both in the first round.
Though he impressed on “Contender Series,” Brandon Davis (14-8) went just 2-5 in the Octagon before his promotional release. He has since won four straight, most recently stopping Josh Huber for the Gulf Coast MMA Bantamweight title in Aug. 2021.
He stands three inches taller than Danaa and boasts a two-inch reach advantage.
Even acknowledging that he fought some pretty tough customers during his first UFC tenure, from Zabit Magomedsharipov to Giga Chikadze, Davis really didn’t show much besides top-notch durability and solid volume. Beating four low-level guys on the regional circuit isn’t enough to convince me that he’s corrected those flaws, at least not to the extent that he can beat a well-rounded bruiser like Danaa.
Danaa only loses this fight if he goes crazy looking for the knockout. Indeed, if he stays patient, picks his spots and mixes in his underutilized wrestling game, he’s got all the tools to win this easily. He’s not finishing Davis anytime soon, but he doesn’t have to. When the dust settles, expect Danaa to show all facets of his offense to cruise past a game but out-classed Davis.
Prediction: Danaa via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Istela Nunes vs. Ariane Carnelossi
Istela Nunes (7-1) punched her ticket to a ONE title fight by beating Mei Yamaguchi in her promotional debut, only to succumb to champion Angela Lee’s grappling in the second round. Undaunted, she got back in the win column 13 months later by beating promotional mainstay Gina Iniong.
She fights for the first time in more than three years, having withdrawn from scheduled UFC debuts against Angela Hill and Jinh Yu Frey.
Ariane Carnelossi (13-2) brought a 12-fight win streak into her UFC debut, which saw her war it out with Angela Hill before bowing out due to a cut. Then came a 19-month layoff, which “Sorriso” ended in April 2021 by pounding out La Niang in a chaotic tussle.
Her 10 stoppage wins include nine via (technical) knockout.
The Nunes of 2018 loses this match up fairly consistently. Though taller and the more technical kickboxer overall, she’s far less effective off of her back foot, which bodes ill against someone as aggressive and powerful as Carnelossi. Carnlossi marching forward and overpowering her seems a fair bit more likely than Nunes keeping her at a distance.
This fight, then, will come down to Nunes’ improvements during her time away. She’s still just 29 and looked like she learned from her first professional defeat, so it’s not out of the question, but Carnelossi isn’t going to give her room to get comfortable. In short, Carnelossi outworks her to a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Carnelossi via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Vegas 40 “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict, including the latest from Brazilian knockout machine Bruno “Blindado” Silva. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 40 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 40: “Ladd vs. Dumont” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.