Two of the fiercest Featherweight strikers in the game do battle this Saturday (Nov. 13, 2021) when Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez headline UFC Vegas 42, which will take place inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. ESPN+ viewers will also get to see Ben Rothwell trade hands with Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Song Yadong face Julio Arce in a terrific-looking Bantamweight battle.
Three UFC Vegas 42 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be analyzed (check out the first batch here), so get out your microscopes and let’s begin ...
155 lbs.: Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez
A head kick finish of Gleidson Cutis on “Contender Series” punched Thiago Moises’ (15-5) ticket to the Octagon, where he bounced back from a 1-2 start with three straight wins. This set up a main event slot opposite Islam Makhachev, who choked Moises out midway through the fourth round.
He gives up six inches of height and 6.5 inches of reach to “El Fenomeno.”
Joel Alvarez (18-2) got thrown right into UFC’s deep end in his debut, which saw Damir Ismagulov snap his 10-fight winning streak with a one-sided decision. Three consecutive submission wins followed, including an armbar finish of Alexander Yakovlev in his most recent effort.
He has ended all of his professional wins inside the distance, 16 of them via submission.
I’ll admit to regularly underestimating Alvarez. I was convinced that his, “march forward and use subs from guard instead of developing wrestling” strategy was obsolete in modern mixed martial arts (MMA), but he’s done quite well for himself of late. Moises will definitely put it to the test, though; the Brazilian is an ace grappler in his own right who’s seemingly grown past his early-career allergies to pressure, and he’s presumably skilled enough to exploit Alvarez’s zero percent takedown defense without getting his neck or arms wrenched off.
Again, Alvarez regularly exceeds my expectations, but so does Moises. The man’s only losses came to two Top 5-ranked Lightweights and a guy who also dominated Alvarez, and he’s got the skillset to punish Alvarez’s throwback game. In short, regular takedowns should carry Moises to victory.
Prediction: Moises via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee
The 5-1-1 Strawweight run for Cynthia Calvillo (9-3-1) came to an end in 2021, when she had her second Octagon scale fail ahead of a draw with Marina Rodriguez. Her Flyweight tenure has been more mixed, as her debut decision over Jessica Eye gave way to losses to Katlyn Chookagian and Jessica Andrade.
She steps in for Eye on less than one month’s notice.
Andrea Lee (12-5) lived up to the hype early in her UFC career with three straight wins, but proceeded to lose three consecutive close decisions to Joanne Calderwood, Lauren Murphy and Roxanne Modafferi. “KGB” finally got back on track in May, tapping Antonina Shevchenko with a triangle armbar.
That win marked her fifth professional submission and seventh professional stoppage overall.
This is a last-chance fight for both women, who will see any chance at all of a Flyweight title shot vanish with a loss. Neither has yet fought up to their potential, but while Lee is the more consistent of the two, the stylistic match up is too weighted in Calvillo’s favor. Every single Octagon opponent who’s tried to takedown Lee has done so at least once, and Calvillo’s top game is strong enough that she only really needs one takedown per round to cinch this up.
That’s assuming that Calvillo follows the right gameplan, of course. That’s because we’ve seen her fall in love with her striking before, and that’s an area where “KGB” has a clear edge. Still, Calvillo’s wrestling looks like too potent a weapon for me to pick against her, so expect her to grind out a comfortable decision win.
Prediction: Calvillo via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams
Though he failed to find the finish on “Contender Series,” Miguel Baeza (10-1) got back to ending things early in the Octagon itself, stopping his first three foes and racking up two post-fight bonuses along the way. Then came Santiago Ponzinibbio, who survived “Caramel Thunder’s” brutal low kicks to take over late and claim victory in their “Fight of the Night.”
He has scored seven pro wins by knockout and one by submission.
Khaos Williams (12-2) immediately set the tone for his UFC run by knocking out Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in a combined 57 seconds to earn two “Performances of the Night” awards. “The Oxfighter” failed to do the same to Michel Pereira in his next effort, but returned to the win column in June 2021 with a decision over Matt Semelsberger.
He stands one inch shorter than Baeza, but sports a 2.5-inch reach advantage.
I simply do not understand why UFC brass elected to bury this fight on the “Prelims” when the likes of Felicia Spencer vs. Leah Letson got main card billing. This is an immediate frontrunner for “Fight of the Night” between two immensely dangerous strikers, neither of whom is particularly concerned with defense. Indeed, it’s as volatile a match up as they come and Williams tends to make me look stupid, but I favor Baeza.
Between Baeza’s size, better overall striking technique, and game-changing leg kicks, I don’t see Williams’ berserker offense holding up for long. “Caramel Thunder” is durable enough to survive the early blitz, and once he starts compromising Williams’ footwork, “The Oxfighter’s” tendency to leave his chin out while he throws will prove his undoing. In the end, Baeza ends a brutal firefight around the midway point.
Prediction: Baeza via second round technical knockout
UFC Vegas 42’s actual fight order may be bizarre, but this figures to be an enormously entertaining card. And we hope you’ll join us for it. See you Saturday, 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.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2021: 164-78-2 (2 NC)
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