Before unbeaten boxers Jose Ramirez Jr. and Josh Taylor duke it out for undisputed Super Lightweight supremacy on ESPN+, Bantamweight bruisers Cody Garbrandt and Rob Font will headline UFC’s return to the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 27 will also see former women’s Strawweight champ Carla Esparza attempt to halt Yan Xiaonan’s violent rise and David Dvorak meet Raulian Paiva in an under-the-radar Flyweight slugfest.
Four “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (check out the first batch here), and luckily, we’ve done the hard part for you. Read on ...
145 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Bill Algeo
“Lookin’ for a Fight” veteran Ricardo Ramos (14-3) went 4-1 as a UFC Bantamweight before returning to 145, where he finished Eduardo Garagorri with a bonus-winning rear-naked choke. He started strong against Lerone Murphy his next time out, only to succumb to ground-and-pound late in the first.
His 10 finishes are split 7/3 between submissions and (technical) knockouts.
Less than three weeks after returning to the win column under the Cage Fury banner, Bill Algeo (14-5) made his short-notice UFC debut against Ricardo Lamas, falling short but walking away with “Fight of the Night” honors. He returned to action just three months later with an upset decision of Spike Carlyle to improve his current run to 6-2.
He stands three inches taller than Ramos at 6’0.”
This has the potential to be a sleeper “Fight of the Night” contender. Algeo’s high-octane attack and disregard for defense make him a consistent entertainer, while Ramos is capable of some incredible feats of violence on both the feet and the mat. All signs point to 15 minutes of dynamic action with Ramos standing victorious.
Though Algeo is an excellent scrambler, the consistency with which Carlyle managed to force the clinch bodes ill for him, as Ramos makes up for his relative lack of brute strength with excellent back takes. With the striking mostly even, it’ll come down to the ground exchanges, which Ramos figures to win comfortably. In the end, lengthy stretches of top and back control seal the deal for “Carcacinha.”
Prediction: Ramos via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Ben Rothwell vs. Chris Barnett
Four consecutive finishes — including stunning stoppages of Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett — had Ben Rothwell (38-13) on the brink of Heavyweight contention back in 2016. It’s all been downhill since, as he’s gone 2-4, while missing two years because of a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.
All told, 34 of his 38 professional wins have come inside the distance, 22 of them by form of knockout.
Chris Barnett (21-6) started his professional career 13-1 before hitting a 2-5 skid, capped off by a knockout loss to UFC veteran Alex Nicholson. He’s since put together a six-fight win streak, most recently scoring a sub-minute knockout in Sept. 2020.
“Beast Boy” replaces Askar Mozharov, himself a late replacement for Philipe Lins, on short notice.
Rothwell’s only wins in the last five years came against Stefan Struve, who was beating “Big Ben” before a number of gruesome low blows turned the tide, and a natural Light Heavyweight in Ovince St. Preux. Still, I’m just barely leaning his way here. That’s because he’ll have massive height and reach advantages over the 5’9” Barnett and his chin remains impregnable, giving him the tools to win a slugfest. In addition, Barnett last competed at Openweight, so there’s a non-zero chance the cut to 265 pounds gives him issues.
Barnett does figure to be a much better mover than the lumbering Rothwell, so he could potentially potshot his way to a decision, but his willingness to mix it up figures to work against him. In sum, Rothwell lands the heavier blows in an incredibly close affair.
Prediction: Rothwell via split decision
170 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Claudio Silva
Now nearly 11 years into his Octagon career, the going’s been rough for Court McGee (19-10), who has lost five of his last six bouts. His current three-fight skid has seen him fall to Dhiego Lima, Sean Brady and Carlos Condit, though none of them managed to put him away.
“The Crusher” will enjoy a 4.5-inch reach advantage over “Hannibal.”
Though constantly plagued by injury, Claudio Silva (14-2) amassed a perfect Octagon record (5-0) over the span of five years, defeating the likes of Leon Edwards and Nordine Taleb along the way. His unbeaten Octagon run finally came to an end in Oct. 2020, when James Krause survived some grappling trouble to win a unanimous decision.
He has submitted 10 professional foes and knocked out one other.
McGee’s slow slide into obsolescence has been hard to watch — his vaunted pace simply isn’t sufficient to make up for his lack of overwhelming physicality and finishing ability anymore. That’s going to cost him dearly against Silva, as while McGee might be able to outlast the one-note Brazilian if he can avoid the early tap, he can’t dish out enough damage to offset Silva’s lengthy stretches of top control.
This is McGee’s last chance. If he can’t get past Silva — who’s vulnerable to decent wrestling and a deep gas tank — his time as a noteworthy Welterweight is over. I’d love to see him defy the odds one more time, but odds are that Silva banks the first two rounds and survives the third to secure the decision.
Prediction: Silva via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Bruno Silva vs. Victor Rodriguez
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Brazil” veteran Bruno Silva (11-5-2) got tossed right to the wolves in the Octagon, falling short against Khalid Taha, David Dvorak and Tagir Ulanbekov. Then came South African prospect J.P. Buys, whom Silva beat down less than two months back to earn “Performance of the Night.”
He steps in for the injured Denys Bondar on around three weeks’ notice.
“Vicious” Victor Rodriguez (7-3) cut his teeth in Alaska FC, where he claimed the Bantamweight title with a knockout of Jared Mazurek. This set up a late-notice UFC debut against Adrian Yanez, who handed Rodriguez his first loss since 2014 with a brutal head kick.
All seven of his professional wins have come by form of knockout.
If anyone deserves a layup at this point, it’s Silva, who’s had to fight prospect after prospect after prospect during his time in the Octagon. With all due respect to Rodriguez, he’s a considerable step down from Silva’s recent competition, offering little more than wild power-punching. Silva seemingly has him outclassed everywhere, and considering the sorts of punches he survived from Taha, Rodriguez’s puncher’s chance is minuscule.
Silva can finish this on the feet or the ground with equal ease, making his method of victory a much greater mystery than his chances of victory. I say he once again shows off the counter-striking that felled Buys for a quick finish.
Prediction: Silva via first-round technical knockout
UFC Vegas 27’s main event is pure fire — if you’ve got an ESPN+ subscription, there’s no reason not to tune in. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 27 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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