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X-Factor! Some UFC Vegas 29 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Aldo v Vera Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

This weekend (Sat., June 19, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 29. After last weekend’s major pay-per-view (PPV) event, UFC will return to ESPN with an action-packed card. From violence veterans like Matt Brown to up-and-coming sluggers like Marlon Vera, there is a major promise of excellent fights.

Let’s take a closer look at these main card donnybrooks:

Bantamweight: Marlon Vera vs. Davey Grant

Best Win for Vera? Sean O’Malley For Grant? Jonathan Martinez
Current Streak: Vera came up short opposite Jose Aldo last time out, whereas Grant has won three in a row after years of struggling with injury
X-Factor: Grant does not understand the idea of caution
How these two match up: I have yet to see either men in a boring fight.

Interestingly, both athletes started as grapplers before moving more into the striking realm. Vera started as something of a wild man with a jiu-jitsu black belt, but he’s developed into a brutal Southpaw kickboxer who really breaks opponents down across 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Grant came up on the regional scene in the UK double-legging and strangling his opponents, but his last two fights have seen him show an entirely different hand: gigantic, winging hooks that have nastily stopped two opponents in a row.

It’s easy to forget, but these two actually battled back in 2016 (Grant pretty easily out-wrestled his foe for a decision nod).

Realistically, Grant has just knocked out two opponents with better technical striking than himself. Hell, Martinez was a MUCH better striker than Grant, but that didn’t stop “Dangerous” from blitzing him in the second round. Vera finds himself in that same precarious position: being a better striker than Grant.

Fortunately, Vera has a granite chin, and his takedown defense has shored up majorly since their first contest. Plus, Vera does his best work while marching forward, which should prove a considerable antidote to Grant’s lunging punches, which rely on his opponent backing up to land perfectly.

Vera doesn’t take backwards steps. Instead, he breaks Grant down and punishes him late to earn revenge (probably after losing the first round).

Prediction: Vera via knockout

Middleweight: Wellington Turman vs. Bruno Silva

Best Win for Turman? Markus Perez For Silva? Alexander Shlemenko
Current Streak: Turman came up short last time out, whereas Silva will make his UFC debut following an excellent win streak in M-1 Global
X-Factor: Turman is just 24 years old
How these two match up: A pair of very talented Middleweights will throw down.

I like athletes like Turman. In a division of specialists who gas at the six minute mark, Turman is well-rounded, tough, and can push a solid pace for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the 24 year old is definitely a bit hittable, which came back to bite him against Andrew Sanchez in his previous bout.

Silva, meanwhile, rebounded from a rough career start at 5-5 to win 14 of his next 15 bouts! The former M-1 champion is a bit wild on his feet, swinging wide, powerful punches en route to the clinch, where he can often muscle foes around.

This is real, real interesting. On one hand, Silva is not immune to takedowns or being controlled in the clinch, which is typically how Turman likes to grind foes down. At the same time, Silva throws hard, and Turman cannot afford to take shots to chin until his opponent gets tired.

I get burned fairly often on picking prospects whom I like for long term upside, but I’m not about to start learning from my mistakes now! Turman survives a scare or two to get his takedowns going and control his foe en route to a clear-cut win.

Prediction: Turman via decision

Welterweight: Matt Brown vs. Dhiego Lima

Best Win for Brown? Erick Silva For Lima? Court McGee
Current Streak: Brown has lost two in a row, while Lima came up short in his last bout
X-Factor: Brown does not like body shots
How these two match up: As with all Matt Brown fights, someone is going down hard.

Brown’s skills are still there. The “technical brawler” still carries major power in his hands and lots of clinch trickery in close. However, he’s definitely lost a bit in the way of durability and conditioning, which previously were huge assets for “The Immortal.”

Lima, meanwhile, has really come into his own in the last couple years. He’s still vulnerable to being bullied by power punches and/or takedowns, but he’s refined his counter punching a great deal, and Lima’s offense generally just looks more dangerous.

Is there a chance Lima kills Brown with a single shot, be it a counter left hook or liver kick? Certainly, and it grows with each day that Brown pushes passed the age of 40. However, I am not fully ready to write Brown off yet, and this match up is really custom-made for classic Brown violence.

Lima does not like to be backed up, nor does he have the chin to take serious power shots. If nothing else, Brown can still walk a motherf—r down and drop the hammer. If and when Lima backs into the fence, expect Brown to tee off with an increasingly nasty salvo of elbows, knees, and right hands until his opponent folds.

Prediction: Brown via knockout

Remember that 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.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 29: “Korean Zombie vs. Ige” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2021: 9-11-2

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