While the top Featherweights busy themselves on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29, two of the division’s most violent finishers will duke it out this Saturday (June 19, 2021) when “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung takes on the surging Dan Ige. In UFC Vegas 29’s co-headliner, ageless wonder Aleksei Oleinik looks to halt his recent skid against Serghei Spivac, while Tim Means meets Danny Roberts in a clash of dangerous Welterweight finishers.
We’ve got seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around, all of which join the main card on ESPN2 / ESPN+. Let’s have a gander:
155 lbs.: Joaquim Silva vs. Rick Glenn
Despite falling to eventual winner Glaico Franca in the opening round of TUF: Brazil 4, Joaquim Silva (11-2) warred his way to wins in four of his first five UFC appearances, including a “Fight of the Night” stoppage of Jared Gordon. Fellow slugger Nasrat Haqparast proved a tougher nut to crack, finishing “Netto BJJ” with second-round strikes in Aug. 2019.
He gives up four inches of height to the 6’0” Rick Glenn (21-6-1).
After an unsuccessful UFC Lightweight debut against Evan Dunham, Glenn returned to Featherweight to win three of his next four, among them an absolute mauling of Gavin Tucker. He went on to face late-notice UFC debutant Kevin Aguilar in an entertaining (but unsuccessful) battle at TUF 28 Finale.
This will be his first fight in more than 2.5 years.
Considering both men’s lengthy layoffs, it’s hard to make a definitive statement on who will come out victorious. All I can say with certainty is that it’ll be incredibly entertaining: both of these men are sluggers to the core, interested in little more than beating the life out of their opponents.
Though Glenn has the edge in durability, I find myself leaning towards Silva, both for the lesser amount of rust he’s dealing with and the fact that Glenn won’t have the size and strength advantages he enjoyed at 145 pounds. In short, Silva out-slugs him in a 15-minute fire fight.
Prediction: Silva via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Casey O’Neill vs. Lara Procopio
Casey O’Neill (6-0) cut her teeth on the Australian circuit before joining UAE Warriors, where she picked up a second-round finish to set up a shot at the Octagon. She made the most of the opportunity by pounding out the resurgent Shana Dobson in Feb. 2021.
She boasts two inches of height and 1.5 inches of reach on her Brazilian foe.
Nova Uniao’s Lara Procopio (7-1) claimed double champ status in Shooto Brasil en route to the Octagon, where she battled countrywoman Karol Rosa to a narrow defeat in her debut. Then came a 17-month absence, which she ended by grappling her way past Molly McCann in February.
She has tapped two professional opponents and knocked out one other.
For my money, this is the closest fight on the “Prelims,” a functional mirror match between two extremely promising young women with top-notch grappling and effective striking. I’ve got O’Neill by a hair; she’s the more likely of the two to do noteworthy damage if she ends up on top and theoretically has the technical skills to hold her own on the feet and scramble out of danger if she ends up on her back.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Procopio lean on the conservative top control she used to beat McCann; as good as O’Neill’s looked on the ground, she’s yet to test her grappling against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist of Procopio’s caliber. Still, I like “King’s” ground-and-pound to win her a narrow decision.
Prediction: O’Neill via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Nico Negumereanu vs. Aleksa Camur
Romania’s Nico Negumereanu (9-1) was nothing if not efficient during his pre-UFC career, dispatching all of his foes within two rounds. Debut foe Saparbeg Safarov was made of sterner stuff, however, and handily outclassed Negumereanu over the course of 15 minutes.
“Nicu” fights for the first time in 27 months.
He had to make his first trip to the judges to do it, but Aleksa Camur (6-1) successfully followed his “Contender Series” victory by edging out Justin Ledet in his first UFC appearance. He then took on fellow DWCS graduate William Knight, resulting in Camur’s first professional defeat as “Knightmare” racked up long stretches of top control.
All five of his pro knockouts came in less than two rounds.
One of the things that makes this sport so fascinating is how quickly fighters can improve. For Negumereanu’s sake, that better be the case here. Even acknowledging that Camur’s a bit of an underachiever, he has “Nicu” badly outgunned on the feet. If Negumereanu can’t consistently put him on his back, he’s going to get torn apart.
This isn’t to say that Camur can’t find a way to lose this fight — he fought Knight in the most self-sabotaging manner imaginable and paid the price for it. Barring an inhuman level of improvement on Negumereanu’s part during his time away, though, Camur dominates at range and in the clinch.
Prediction: Camur via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Matthew Semelsberger vs. Khaos Williams
Matthew Semelsberger (8-2) battled back from a 3-2 professional start to earn a spot in UFC, where he out-dueled Carlton Minus in his professional debut. Seven months later, “Semi the Jedi” took just 16 seconds to flatten Jason Witt and earn “Performance of the Night” in the process.
Five of his wins, including three of his last four, have come by form of knockout.
Khaos Williams (11-2) lived up to his moniker in his first two Octagon appearances, stopping crushing Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in a combined 57 seconds. He then made a quick turnaround against Michel Pereira, resulting in his first professional defeat since 2018.
He’ll have two inches of reach on Semelsberger despite being the shorter man.
I’m not entirely sure why a guaranteed war like this is stuck as the opening Prelim, but the early viewers are being richly rewarded. Semelsberger’s relentless aggression and versatile striking attack figure to mesh brilliantly with Williams’ power-punching onslaught, creating a fight that could end at any moment.
The outcome here boils down to Semelsberger’s durability — he’s the better combination striker and looks to have a significant edge in volume, so if he can stay conscious, he figures to back Williams up and rack up damage. I’ll go ahead and believe in his chin. In the end, aggression and output carry him to a mid-round stoppage.
Prediction: Semelsberger via second round technical knockout
Three more UFC Vegas 29 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a clash of elite Strawweight grapplers. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 29 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN2 / ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN2 / ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
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