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X-Factor! Some UFC Vegas 41 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Covington v Woodley Photo by Todd Lussier/Zuffa LLC

This weekend (Sat., Oct. 23, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will remain inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 41. After a pair of pretty dismal cards, this weekend’s event features a genuinely intriguing main event that also promises heavy-handed action between Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori. The rest of the night is a bit of a step up in quality, too, featuring some reasonably well-known names prior to the biggest showdowns of the night.

Let’s take a closer look at these main card donnybrooks:

LIVE! Stream UFC San Diego On ESPN+

PIVOTAL BANTAMWEIGHT CLASH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to San Diego, Calif., on Sat., Aug. 13, 2022, for the first time since 2015 with a pivotal battle between top-ranked Bantamweight contenders that will see No. 5-ranked Marlon Vera take on former champion and No. 8-seeded Dominick Cruz. In San Diego’s co-main event, Nate Landwehr and David Onama will collide in a Featherweight showdown between dynamic 145-pound hopefuls.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Women’s Bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Joselyne Edwards

Best Win for Clark? Paige VanZant For Edwards? Yanan Wu
Current Streak: Clark won her last bout, whereas Edwards came up short
X-Factor: Clark is coming off an ACL surgery
How these two match up: This reads like a kickboxing battle.

If, however, one woman were likely to switch it up and try some takedowns, it would be Clark. The Australian is a well-rounded fighter with good range kickboxing, clinch work, and a solid grappling game. She’s struggled a bit to find her home weight class, but Clark’s performance in his return to Bantamweight last time out was excellent.

This will be her first fight in 13 months.

Panama’s Edwards is a rangy striker. She does the majority of her work with long, straight punches, but the high-volume kickboxer has struggled a bit with her opponent’s takedowns inside the cage.

Provided Clark returns to action in similar form, the 33-year-old veteran has all the tools to win this fight on the feet or the mat. Her combination of movement and power kicks should allow her to navigate Edwards’ range advantage, and the takedown option is likely there if need be. Finally, Clark can probably win this fight in the clinch also, with her dirty boxing and knees!

Were it not for her injury, Clark’s destruction of Alpar would have put her on the fast track at Bantamweight. This is her chance to make up for it and regain that path.

Prediction: Clark via decision

Featherweight: Alex Caceres vs. Seung Woo Choi

Best Win for Caceres? Sergio Pettis For Choi? Julian Erosa
Current Streak: Caceres has won four straight (!!!), while Choi has put together three wins
X-Factor: Caceres is known for his inconsistency
How these two match up: This Featherweight clash should result in some fun exchanges.

Caceres grew from scrappy up-and-comer to composed veteran inside the Octagon, but he did so without sacrificing his unique flair and style. “Bruce Leeroy” has done well since returning to Featherweight, shucking off takedowns with good consistency and maintaining a bit more pop in his strikes.

Early in his UFC career, Choi was held back by his wrestling defense. Since he’s shored up that hole a bit, however, Choi has been able to put together combinations and find a home for his power punches far more effectively, resulting in his current win streak.

Both of these men spend more time defending takedowns than pursuing them, so this has the makings of a stand up scrap. In particular, all of Caceres’ recent victories came against grappling specialists, and that reads like a problem here. Choi is not going to be diving for legs and getting tired in the process; he’s going to be swinging for Caceres’ chin. Even after all these years, Caceres still gets caught leaning back with his hands low, and Choi has the skills to capitalize.

Choi is coming off a pretty brutal win over a lanky, defense-second volume striker; expect another here.

Prediction: Choi via decision

Welterweight: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Dwight Grant

Best Win for Trinaldo? Paul Felder For Grant? Alan Jouban
Current Streak: Trinaldo came up short last time out, whereas Grant returned to the win column
X-Factor: Trinaldo is 43 years old
How these two match up: I am cautiously optimistic about this one.

Trinaldo is awesome. “Massaranduba” is a big star in his home country of Brazil, a star of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) who parlayed the show into a long, successful stint inside the Octagon. A veteran kickboxer, Trinaldo carries big power and is plenty capable of delivering big shots from top position too.

American Kickboxing Academy’s Grant is an odd fighter. He’s got a gigantic reach and major power, but he struggles to pull the trigger often, resulting in strange, low-volume fights.

A few years ago, a match up like this would have read as a clear victory for Trinaldo. However, times have changed. At 170 lbs., he’s without the size advantage that was so helpful at Lightweight. Plus, he’s gotten a bit slower and less durable with age, meaning the chance of Trinaldo walking into a heavy shot and getting lamped have increased considerably.

I am not ready to give up on the Brazilian yet, however. Grant is not that much younger at 37 years of age, and he’s nowhere near as accomplished as Trinaldo, nor is he likely to push the pace.

Trinaldo has the skill to outpoint Grant, and if the two do trade wildly on occasion, he still packs a punch.

Prediction: Trinaldo via knockout

Light Heavyweight: Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Ike Villanueva

Best Win for Negumereanu? Aleksa Camur For Villanueva? Vinicius Moreira
Current Streak: Negumereanu won his last bout, whereas Villanueva lost
X-Factor: Negumereanu has fought a low-level of opposition throughout his career
How these two match up: This is not a great fight, but it might be fun!

Romania’s Negumereanu is more physical talent than technical skill. Despite some submission wins on his record, his work inside the Octagon suggests that he prefers to trade strikes than wrestle. On the flip side, Villanueve also likes to trade, but his gifts fall more in the realm of toughness and experience than athleticism.

What to do in a fight between unproven prospect and underwhelming veteran? Truthfully, neither man is particularly great at anything. With technique up in the air, however, I like to side with toughness.

“Hurricane Ike” has power, and he’s no quitter. Maybe he gets overwhelmed early on by his younger foe, but if not, the odds that Negumereanu wilts a bit when faced with an opponent who won’t go away seem high.

Prediction: Villanueva via knockout

Remember that 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.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 41: “Costa vs. Vettori” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2021: 27-19-2 (1)