After two weeks away, the Octagon returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday (Nov. 6, 2021) for its latest “Fight Night”-themed event. Stylish strikers Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez duke it out in UFC Vegas 42’s five-round main event, while Heavyweight sluggers Ben Rothwell and Marcos Rogerio de Lima battle in the co-feature. Also on tap are a women’s Flyweight fight between Felicia Spencer and Leah Letson, plus Kyle Daukaus takes on late replacement Roman Dolidze at Middleweight.
UFC Vegas 42 features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around; therefore, let’s have a look at the first batch:
145 lbs.: Sean Woodson vs. Collin Anglin
Sean Woodson (8-1) parlayed a flying knee knockout of Terrance McKinney on “Contender Series” into an Octagon career, debuting with a wide decision over Kyle Bochniak. Though he fell victim to a comeback submission from Julian Erosa in his second effort, he bumped his record back over .500 by beating Youssef Zalal one year later.
“The Sniper” stands five inches taller than Anglin and sports an eight-inch reach advantage.
Collin Anglin (8-2) survived a brutal first round to beat Muhammadjon Naimov by decision on “Contender Series,” earning a UFC contract in the process. He wasn’t quite as successful against fellow series graduate Melsik Baghdasaryan, who snapped Anglin’s seven-fight win streak with a brutal second-round head kick.
He has scored four (technical) knockouts as a professional.
Though he usually prefers to fight it out on the feet, Anglin would be well-served leaning on his solid wrestling background. Woodson makes up for his lack of punching power with high volume and a crafty boxing attack that makes excellent use of his towering frame. Unfortunately for Anglin, Woodson seems to have evolved past the point where Anglin could control him on the ground, as both Erosa and Zalal struggled mightily to keep him down.
That said, Erosa did admittedly manage to finally get his wrestling going late in their fight, and Anglin is nothing if not persistent. If he can keep Woodson uncomfortable and sap his gas tank, he’s got a chance to take over. More likely, Woodson racks up another triple-digit striking performance en route to a comfortable decision.
Prediction: Woodson via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Liana Jojua
Cortney Casey (9-9) ended her 4-5 UFC Strawweight run on a loss to Cynthia Calvillo, but started her Flyweight tenure strong with an armbar finish of Mara Borella. The momentum wasn’t to last, as she went on to suffer consecutive losses to Gillian Robertson and J.J. Aldrich.
She’ll have three inches of height and five inches of reach on Jojua.
Liana Jojua (8-4) entered the Octagon on a five-fight win streak, capped off by an upset decision over unbeaten Marina Mokhnatkina. “She-Wolf” is 1-2 since, a comeback submission of Diana Belbita sandwiched between technical knockout losses to Sarah Moras and Miranda Maverick.
Six of her seven professional finishes have come in the first round.
Underwhelming and prone to bizarre judges’ decisions though she may be, There’s more to like about Casey’s UFC run than Jojua’s. The Georgian got mauled in her two defeats and was getting lit up by Belbita before “Warrior Princess” threw the fight away by diving into Jojua’s wheelhouse. Even a striker as technically limited as Casey should take Jojua apart on the feet, and I don’t trust Jojua to replicate the wrestling success Robertson and Aldrich enjoyed against “Cast Iron.”
Casey could absolutely still throw this away or get screwed by the judges, as four of her last five decisions have been split, but her size and raw horsepower should let her batter Jojua standing to the point where not even the most skeptical of judges could take the win from her. Provided she doesn’t foolishly initiate the wrestling on her own, expect an awkward demolition job.
Prediction: Casey via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Alves
An undefeated (3-0) Octagon start — highlighted by a 30-second “Knockout of the Night” of Teemu Packalen — carried Marc Diakiese (14-4) into contention, only for three straight losses to knock him back down the ladder. He got back on track with consecutive decisions over Joe Duffy and Lando Vannata got him back on track, though he fell short against Rafael Alves in his most recent effort.
This will be his first fight in almost 16 months.
Rafael Alves (19-10) entered the world’s largest fight promotion with the Titan FC Featherweight title around his waist and a dominant finish on “Contender Series” behind him, but grievously missed weight ahead of a planned debut against Pat Sabatini. He would not step foot in the Octagon until May 2021, when he dropped a decision to division dark horse Damir Ismagulov.
He has knocked out and submitted seven opponents apiece.
Looking back, they really did throw Diakiese to the sharks, didn’t they? Drakkar Klose, Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast are a hell of a sequence, and Rafael Fiziev’s a scary bastard in his own right. I still think “Bonecrusher” is a solid fighter, and he’s definitely a more reliable one than Alves.
Beyond giving up height and reach, Alves lacks what you might call a “neutral game,” staying passive between his explosive bursts instead of working more traditional techniques in the interim. While he’s waiting for his opportunity to step in with spinning shenanigans or wild flurries, Diakiese will be taking his lead leg apart, and the Brazilian’s lack of set ups will make it difficult for him to actually get into firing range. So long as Diakiese doesn’t shoot headfirst into a guillotine, Diakiese picks him apart at range to re-enter the win column.
Prediction: Diakiese via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung
It took him two tries, but Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) finally graduated from “Contender Series” with a head kick knockout of Dennis Bryant, only to suffer a comeback submission loss to Paul Craig in his Octagon debut. “African Savage” has since won two straight, respectively claiming “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night” for his finishes of Carlos Ulberg and Danilo Marques.
He’ll enjoy 4.5 inches of reach on “Sseda.”
Da un Jung (14-2-1) went from starting his pro career 1-2 to rattling off a 10-fight winning streak, which earned him a spot in the Octagon in 2019. He now sits at 3-0-1 in the world’s largest fight promotion, the sole blemish a split draw with Sam Alvey.
His 12 finishes are split 10/2 between knockouts and submissions.
Nothing like throwing two very fun, very flawed fighters at each other and seeing what happens. Nzechukwu continues to win through raw gas mileage, while Jung’s gameness and physicality have thus far made up for his general awkwardness. I don’t see either of them getting through some of the monsters lurking at the top of the division, but I’ll happily tune in to watch either of them go at it.
I like Nzechukwu here. The guy just never stops punching, and though the takedown game Jung showed against William Knight could give him issues, “African Savage” tends to get stronger as the fight goes along. It’s worth remembering that Jung got pieced up by and arguably lost to Sam Alvey despite a massive size advantage, so while he has the firepower edge, Nzechukwu’s going to have a clear edge in significant strikes. In the end, Nzechukwu weathers early trouble like he did against Ulberg and Marques, snowballing to victory through volume punching.
Prediction: Nzechukwu via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Vegas 42 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including what looks like absolute violence between Miguel Baeza and Khaos Williams. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 42 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 42: “Holloway vs. Rodriguez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.