With Holly Holm out of commission (details here), Aspen Ladd will make her Featherweight debut this Saturday (Oct. 16, 2021) against Norma Dumont atop the latest card to pop off inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Up at Heavyweight, Andrei Arlovski attempts to keep his improbable resurgence alive against hard-hitting Carlos Felipe, while Manon Fiorot squares off with Mayra Bueno Silva in a clash of top Flyweight prospects.
Three more UFC Vegas 40 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the first batch here); therefore, no need for more preamble, is there?
185 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez vs. Bruno Silva
Andrew Sanchez (12-6) went from suffering two consecutive knockout losses to winning three of his next four, including a bonus-winning knockout of Wellington Turman. The momentum wasn’t to last, as he fell short against Makhmud Muradov five months later.
“El Dirte” stands one inch taller than Bruno Silva (20-6) at 6’1.”
“Blindado” entered UFC on the heels of consecutive upsets over Alexander Shlemenko and Artem Frolov, only for a failed drug test to delay his debut by two years. He made up for lost time in said debut last June, battering Wellington Turman into submission for his fifth consecutive knockout.
He’s scored 17 knockouts as a professional.
This is something of a repeat of Silva’s fight with Turman. Like Turman, Sanchez is a well-rounded ground specialist with the toolset to exploit Silva’s limited takedown defense and sloppy striking offense. Also like Turman, Sanchez lacks the durability to actually pull off the win; Silva needs only the slightest opening to drop the hammer, and Sanchez has a storied history of falling apart as fights progress.
If Sanchez wins this, he does so by establishing his wrestling early and often without getting clipped on the feet or swept into position for Silva’s horrifying ground-and-pound to take over. I don’t see him pulling it off for 15 minutes; on the contrary, Silva pounds him out somewhere around the midpoint.
Prediction: Silva via second round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Danny Roberts vs. Ramazan Emeev
Danny Roberts (17-5) saw a 2-0 Octagon start give way to a 3-4 slump, though he did take home two Fight of the Night bonuses for his wins over Dominique Steele and David Zawada. “Hot Chocolate” was last seen breaking a two-fight skid with an upset knockout of Zelim Imadaev in Moscow.
This marks his first appearance in 23 months.
While he hasn’t been terribly active during his UFC tenure, fighting just six times in the past four years, Ramazan Emeev (20-4) made up for quantity with quality. He presently sits at 5-1 in the world’s largest fight promotion, including a split decision over David Zawada in Jan. 2021.
“Gorets” stands three inches shorter than Roberts and gives up nearly a half-foot of reach.
Cliche though it may be, Roberts has always seemed like less than the sum of his parts. His quality striking is offset by shaky durability, while his ground game is held back by limited takedown defense. He could have conceivably gone some way toward those things over the past two years, sure, but his inability to do so during his first four years in the Octagon make it unlikely.
Emeev’s a bit simpler: either he can consistently take you down, in which case he wins, or he can’t, in which case he doesn’t. Roberts looks like someone who can grind out, so while “Hot Chocolate” has a considerable edge on the feet, it won’t matter much when he can’t stay there. In the end, Emeev’s usual top control carries him to another clear, but not particularly engaging, win.
Prediction: Emeev via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Sijara Eubanks vs. Luana Carolina
Eubanks — The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 finalist — went 2-4 as a UFC Bantamweight, ultimately returning to Flyweight after a loss to Pannie Kianzad. She not only conquered the scale, but scored her first Octagon stoppage by pounding out Elise Reed late in the first round.
She steps in for Maryna Moroz on around three weeks’ notice.
Luana Carolina (7-2) followed her “Contender Series” victory over Mabelly Lima with a decision over Priscila Cachoeira in her UFC debut, only for Ariane Lipski to halt her momentum in its tracks with a grotesque kneebar (see it).
After nearly one year on the sidelines, she returned to action in May 2021, surviving a rough early round to upset Poliana Botelho by split decision.
As with the Reed fight, Eubanks’ greatest foe here is the scale. Carolina’s ground game is sorely lacking, which allowed Lipski to damn-near tear her leg off and the striking-focused Botelho to dominate from top position. Eubanks is miles ahead of her on the mat, and if she shows that same level of killer instinct again, it won’t take her long to put the Brazilian away.
That’s assuming, of course, that Eubanks can best the weight cut on short notice. I believe she can, but even if she doesn’t, an impaired “Sarj” is still more than enough to dominate on the ground.
Prediction: Eubanks via first round technical knockout
UFC Vegas 40 is ... well, you’ve already got the ESPN+ subscription, so you might as well use it. See you Saturday, 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.