After unsuccessful title bids against division monarch Israel Adesanya, Middleweight powerhouses Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori look to re-establish their bona fides at each others’ expense this Saturday (Oct. 23, 2021). UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, will also host an intriguing Lightweight clash between Ricky Glenn and Grant Dawson, as well as the return of Jessica-Rose Clark opposite Joselyne Edwards.
UFC Vegas 41 was looking at eight “Prelims” undercard bouts as recently as last week; however, some late-notice mishaps have cut them down to six at the time of writing. Let’s check out of the first half ...
155 lbs.: Khama Worthy vs. Jai Herbert
Khama Worthy (16-8) was appropriately explosive in his first two UFC appearances, shocking Devonte Smith with a bonus-winning knockout and tapping Luis Pena 10 months later. Recent efforts weren’t quite as successful, and “The Deathstar” enters the cage this Saturday on the heels of two knockout losses in a combined 2:19.
He stands two inches shorter than Herbert and gives up three inches of reach.
Jai Herbert (10-3) entered his 2020 UFC debut with a six-fight win streak at his heels and the Cage Warriors Lightweight title around his waist, only to suffer a comeback knockout loss to Francisco Trinaldo on “Fight Island.” He didn’t find much more luck against Renato Moicano, who used his strong ground game to tap Herbert late in the second.
“The Black Country Banger” has knocked out eight professional foes and submitted one other.
I believe the correct phrase here is “don’t blink.” While the universe delights in turning guaranteed slugfests into bizarre slogs (as we saw in that Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker main event the other week) it’s hard to envision this fight lasting very long.
And that’s not good news for Worthy.
The man’s a far better fighter than I often give him credit for, but he’s still by far the glassier and less polished of these two cannons. Indeed, Herbert’s got a clear edge in overall kickboxing craft, especially since he won’t have to worry about stopping takedowns this time around. Herbert could still run face-first into something nasty like he did against Trinaldo, sure, but it’s likelier that he catches Worthy and puts him down in the first few minutes.
Prediction: Herbert via first round knockout
125 lbs.: Jeff Molina vs. Daniel Lacerda
Jeff Molina (9-2) extended his win streak to seven with a decision over Jacob Silva on “Contender Series”, earning himself a contract despite the lack of a finish. This set up an April 2021 UFC debut against Aoriqileng, which Molina won by “Fight of the Night” decision after three exceedingly brutal rounds.
“El Jefe” has scored five submissions and two knockouts as a professional.
Daniel Lacerda (11-1) “Miojo” got off to an undefeated (7-0) professional start before a shoulder injury prematurely ended a bid at Shooto Brasil gold. He has since won three straight, including a first round technical knockout of Rodrigo Sarafian in July 2021.
All of his wins have come inside the distance, six of them by submission.
Impressive as he is on tape, Lacerda still has a lot to prove at 25 years old. He’s never gone past the second round, has somewhat iffy wrestling, and has yet to graduate beyond mid-tier opposition. I’ve still got him winning this one, though I’ll admit it’s as much a gut pick as anything else. He looks to have far more stopping power on the feet than Molina, whose movement-heavy style leaves him vulnerable to Lacerda’s power kicks. Molina’s also struggled with takedown defense in the past, giving Lacerda the chance to bring his potent submissions to bear and further set up his kickboxing.
This is all moot if Lacerda’s only got five minutes of gas, of course, but I like to be optimistic sometimes. In short, he catches Molina cold sometime in the first.
Prediction: Lacerda via first round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Livinha Souza vs. Randa Markos
Livinha Souza (14-3) — who once held the Invicta FC Strawweight title — started her UFC career strong by tapping Alex Chambers and out-lasting the hulking Sarah Frota soon after. “The Brazilian Gangsta” is 1-2 since, most recently suffering her first-ever stoppage loss to Amanda Lemos.
Her 10 professional finishes are split 8-2 between submissions and knockout.
Randa Markos (10-11-1) — one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 standouts — spent her first five years in the Octagon without ever winning or losing two consecutive fights. The pattern finally broke in 2020, and she now finds herself in the midst of a four-fight losing streak.
She stands an inch shorter than Souza at 5’4”, though she’ll have a slight reach advantage.
An interesting clash here between the underachieving Souza and the formerly overachieving Markos. The former’s lack of size and weird reticence to use her strong takedown game has resulted in rough losses and painfully narrow wins, while Markos is no longer able to keep up with the contenders and prospects the UFC brass insists on chucking her way.
I’ve got Souza here, though she excels at throwing away fights. Markos’ takedown defense has repeatedly failed her in recent efforts, and Souza has a top-notch top game if nothing else. So long as Souza remembers that she’s a judo black belt and doesn’t insist on trading hands, she’s got the skills to either grind out a decision or snatch up a submission. In the end, expect her to pointlessly trade anyway, but still hit enough takedowns to get the win.
Prediction: Souza via split decision
Three more UFC Vegas 41 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a featured clash between two strong Middleweight up-and-comers. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 41 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET.
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