Two elite Bantamweight grapplers in very different positions do battle this Saturday (Nov. 20, 2021) when Miesha Tate attempts to keep her comeback going against Ketlen Vieira, who looks to snap a 1-2 skid. Also on tap inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, are a crossroads match between Michael Chiesa and Sean Brady and what could be absolute fire between Adrian Yanez and Davey Grant.
We’ve got three more UFC Vegas 43 “Prelims” undercard bouts to examine (check out the first batch here); shall we have a look?
145 lbs.: Pat Sabatini vs. Tucker Lutz
He had to survive a dicey third round, but Pat Sabatini (15-3) claimed victory in his April 2021 UFC debut by beating Tristan Connelly in Jacksonville. Then came Jamall Emmers, whom Sabatini put away with a gnarly heel hook less than two minutes into the first round.
That win marked his eleventh submission win and twelfth finish overall.
Though he failed to find a finish in either of his “Contender Series” appearances, Tucker Lutz (12-1) impressed Dana White enough to earn a contract. He made the most of it by turning aside a late surge from Kevin Aguilar in his debut to make it 12 consecutive wins.
He’ll have a two-inch reach advantage.
Sabatini is unquestionably one of the best ground artists outside the Featherweight Top 10, and he’s shown the full breadth of his abilities in the Octagon. That said, I don’t like his chances here. Lutz is the sharper striker of the two and figures to be a sufficiently stout wrestler to dictate where the fight takes place.
I said the same things about Emmers before Sabatini damn-near tore his leg off, but Emmers had that fight won before diving into Sabatini’s wheelhouse unprompted. Lutz is far less prone to self-destruction; he fought Aguilar, a very dangerous customer, just about perfectly. Plus, while Lutz did fade late in that fight, Sabatini had his own struggles against Connelly in the deep waters. Lutz’s clean boxing carries him to a comfortable sprawl-and-brawl win.
Prediction: Lutz via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Natan Levy
Rafa Garcia (12-2) saw his unbeaten record come to an end in his UFC debut, a late-notice clash with Nasrat Haqparast. He looked poised to finish Chris Gruetzemacher in his sophomore effort, but faded down the stretch en route to a unanimous decision defeat.
“Gifted” has scored seven professional victories by submission.
Following an undefeated (4-0) amateur career, Natan Levy (6-0) spent the first five fights of his pro career under the LFA banner before stepping up on short notice to meet Shaheen Santana on “Contender Series.” While he secured a contract with a late arm triangle, injury has kept him out of the cage for little more than one year.
He’ll enjoy two inches of height and four inches of reach on Garcia.
Before the Gruetzemacher debacle, I’d have picked Garcia in a heartbeat. He’s the more experienced fighter, the naturally larger one, and has shown the gas tank to fight five hard rounds. The way he imploded against Gruetzemacher makes me much more hesitant, though I’m still leaning “Gifted’s” way. Levy simply doesn’t respond well to pressure and has a far less attrition-based style than “Gritz,” which should allow Garcia to grind him down.
As bad as Garcia looked last time out, he’s still a natural Lightweight fighting a career Featherweight with ostensibly inferior wrestling. In short, he bullies Levy on the feet and racks up top control to finally enter UFC’s win column.
Prediction: Garcia via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Lupita Godinez
After claiming her second victory under the Invicta banner, Loma Lookboonmee (6-2) made the move to the Octagon, where she split a pair of bouts with Aleksandra Albu and Angela Hill. She’s since won two straight, most recently defeating Sam Hughes in May 2021.
She’ll have a rare one-inch reach advantage over Godinez.
Lupita Godinez (5-3) rebounded from a debut loss to Jessica Penne by running over Silvana Gomez Juarez, locking up her first pro submission late in the first round. She then stepped up in weight on a one-week turnaround to face Luana Carolina, who survived a rough first round to outstrike Godinez down the stretch.
“Loopy” steps in for Cheyanne Buys on less than two weeks’ notice.
I was extremely high on Godinez going into her UFC debut, and she hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations. Incredibly poor game-planning doomed her against Penne, and she looked completely ineffectual against Carolina when her takedowns stopped working. I just don’t trust her to execute against Lookboonmee, who figures to outwork her by a huge margin on the feet.
Lookboonmee’s not impossible to take down, so Godinez is definitely capable of winning this if she takes the proper approach. Her inability to consistently do so thus far in her career, however, means I can’t pick her. In the end, Lookboonmee’s volume and strong clinch work should carry her to victory.
Prediction: Lookboonmee via unanimous decision
Whatever you think of UFC Vegas 43’s main event, fights like Brady vs. Chiesa and Yanez vs. Grant make this a card worth watching. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2021: 166-83-2 (2 NC)
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 43 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 43: “Tate vs. Vieira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.