Once considered the future of the Light Heavyweight division, Dominick Reyes looks to snap a two-fight skid this Saturday (May 1, 2021) when he takes on surging prospect Jiri Prochazka in UFC Vegas 25’s main event. The ESPN+/ESPN2 broadcasts also see Cub Swanson attempt to halt Giga Chikadze’s growing momentum and Ion Cutelaba meets Dustin Jacoby in what looks like a guaranteed firefight.
Thanks to some late-notice withdrawals, we’re down to just six “Prelims” undercard bouts, three of which have been dissected for your perusal below:
115 lbs.: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Sam Hughes
After edging out Aleksandra Albu in her UFC debut, Loma Lookboonmee (5-2) took a step up against Angela Hill that proved too much, too soon, resulting in her second career loss. Undaunted, she got back on track eight months later with a dominant performance against former Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey.
She is the shorter of the two by four inches and gives up 2.5 inches of reach.
Sam Hughes (5-2) put together a perfect professional start (4-0) to set up an LFA title fight against Vanessa Demopoulos, who hit a comeback submission in the championship rounds to end “Sampage’s” unbeaten run. A buzzer-beater submission of Danielle Hindley put her back in the win column three months later, but she failed to overcome Tecia Torres in her late-notice Octagon debut.
She has tapped three professional foes and knocked out one other.
While I do want to be cheeky and just say that Hughes is set to go 0-2 against 5’1” striking dynamos, I think y’all deserve a bit more explanation than that. Hughes is a capable boxer in her own right, but she’s extremely one-note on the feet compared to Lookboonmee, relying almost entirely on jabs, crosses, and low kicks. Lookboonmee is adept enough to get inside of Hughes’ longer strikes and get to work in the clinch, where she ostensibly has Hughes badly outgunned.
That said, Hughes does figure to have a notable size advantage, and Lookboonmee will be much easier to get a hold of than Torres. If she can bully Lookboonmee inside and/or somehow keep her at the end of her reach, she’s got a shot. More likely, though, Lookboonmee tears her up at point-blank for a wide decision.
Prediction: Lookboonmee via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Felipe Colares vs. Luke Sanders
Though an Octagon debut loss to Geraldo de Freitas knocked Felipe Colares (9-2) from the ranks of the unbeaten, “Cabocao” made his way onto the UFC scoreboard with a split decision over Domingo Pilarte. Despite a heroic effort, he couldn’t keep the momentum going, dropping a decision to Montel Jackson in a slugfest.
This will be his first appearance in 15 months, as COVID-19 scratched a planned Nov. 2020 clash with Gustavo Lopez.
Luke Sanders (13-4) entered the Octagon with the RFA belt and a 10-0 record, which he promptly improved by choking out Maximo Blanco in his debut. He’s just 2-4 since, most recently tapping to a Nate Maness rear-naked choke in Nov. 2020.
He initially stepped in for T.J. Laramie against Damon Jackson, but got this match up when both Jackson and Colares’ original foe, Journey Newson, withdrew.
I really do think Sanders is better than his UFC record suggests; three of those four losses came via comeback stoppage in fights he was decisively winning. If he can just keep his head on straight for a full fight, he’s got the skills to run roughshod over Colares, who got eaten alive by another powerhouse southpaw in Jackson last time out.
Sanders may not have Jackson’s downright unfair physical gifts, but his aggression figures to pay similar dividends, and Colares seemingly lacks the punching power that Andre Soukhamthath and Nate Maness used to turn the tables. So long as he keeps Colares on the back foot, avoids getting his back taken, and doesn’t have another brain fart, he buries Colares in power punches for a second-round finish.
Prediction: Sanders via second-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Andreas Michailidis vs. K.B. Bhullar
Andreas Michailidis (12-4) brought a 7-1 run into the Octagon, where he stepped up on short notice to face Modestas Bukauskas at Light Heavyweight. Though the opening minutes were competitive, Michailidis’ attempt at a late takedown resulted in a technical knockout loss because of elbows.
He has gone the distance just once as a professional, knocking out six.
When the “Contender Series” bout for K.B. Bhullar (8-1) against Bruno Oliveira fell through, he joined UFC proper to take on talented Englishman Tom Breese. “The Bengal” proved unable to capitalize on the opportunity, falling to a stiff jab and subsequent ground-and-pound in 102 seconds.
He stands four inches taller than Michailidis and boasts a three-inch reach advantage.
It’s safe to say that neither man particularly impressed in his Octagon debut, but I’d still tab Bhullar as the better Middleweight despite getting knocked out more quickly. Michailidis just strikes me as a fundamentally flawed fighter, held back by low-level boxing and a consistently poor gas tank. Flawed as Bhullar is, particularly in terms of his striking defense, he’s still got the size and cardio to outlast Michailidis.
While Michailidis could just knock Bhullar’s block off in the first few minutes, he’s orders of magnitude worse than Breese. Bhullar survives an aggressive start to polish the Greek off late.
Prediction: Bhullar via third-round technical knockout
Three more UFC Vegas 25 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a debuting Strawweight prospect coming off of two brutal knockout victories. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 25 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 25: “Reyes vs. Prochazka” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.