The next Heavyweight title challenger could be decided this Saturday (June 26, 2021) when unbeaten phenom Ciryl Gane trades hands with long-time contender, Alexander Volkov, at UFC Vegas 30, which takes place inside the promotion’s APEX venue in Las Vegas, Nevada. The afternoon will also see Ovince St. Preux take on late-notice replacement Tanner Boser, Danilo Marques take on Kennedy Nzechukwu in a clash of rising 205-pound hopefuls, and Andre Fili slug it out with Daniel Pineda at 145 pounds.
Before that, though, we’ve got seven “Prelims” undercard bouts to dig through. Let’s get cracking:
205 lbs.: Marcin Prachnio vs. Ike Villanueva
After assembling an eight-fight win streak, Poland’s Marcin Prachnio (14-5) had what you’d call a rough Octagon start, suffering three consecutive first-round knockout losses. He came up big with his back against the wall, however, defeating Khalil Rountree in Jan. 2021 to keep his UFC run alive.
He stands two inches taller than Ike Villanueva (18-11) at 6’3.”
“Hurricane” blew into UFC on the heels of four consecutive first-round knockouts and a reign as Fury FC Light Heavyweight Champion. Though he fell short against Chase Sherman and Jordan Wright, he finally entered the Octagon win column by stopping Vinicius Moreira.
He has scored 15 professional victories by form of knockout.
Not to diminish their accomplishments, but I don’t put a lot of stock in either man’s recent success. Rountree borked his weight cut and was completely gassed halfway through the second, while Moreira was one of the worst strikers in the modern UFC era. While I have zero faith in either man’s ability to execute, I have to grudgingly lean towards Villanueva.
While they’ve combined for five knockout losses in the Octagon, Sherman was a Heavyweight and Wright finished him via cut. Prachnio essentially got knocked cold three times and was inches away from a fourth against a spent Rountree. I trust Villanueva to stand firm in a slugfest a lot more than I do Prachnio, so expect him to deck the Pole sometime in the first.
Prediction: Villanueva via first round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Julia Avila vs. Julija Stoliarenko
These two were supposed to fight in March before Julija Stoliarenko (9-4-1) botched her weight cut (details here), so here’s the original write up ...
Julia Avila (8-2) smashed her way into Bantamweight contention with dominant UFC victories over Pannie Kianzad and Gina Mazany, stopping the latter in just 22 seconds. Then came Sijara Eubanks, who used an aggressive wrestling attack to neutralize Avila and pull off the upset.
“Raging Panda” has knocked out four professional opponents and submitted one other.
Stoliarenko returned to the regional circuit after falling to Leah Letson on the TUF 28 Finale, winning four straight before taking a split decision in her Invicta debut. She returned to the Octagon in August 2020, dropping a unanimous decision to contender Yana Kunitskaya.
All nine of her professional stoppage wins have come by armbar.
Even if the Eubanks debacle tempered my expectations, I’m still high on Avila, who remains one of the more entertaining and destructive fighters in the division. She should be way too much for Stoliarenko, at least; the Lithuanian is badly outgunned on the feet and lacks the wrestling to drag Avila to the mat, making her submission skills a non-factor.
To her credit, Stoliarenko is likely durable enough to withstand Avila’s power and her various armbar transitions could play a factor should Avila get overeager and leave herself open to a guard pull. Still, expect “Raging Panda” to overpower her in a standup war, avoiding Stoliarenko’s signature technique in the process.
Prediction: Avila via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Charles Rosa vs. Justin Jaynes
Charles Rosa (13-5) has alternated losses and wins since his 2014 Octagon debut against Dennis Siver. “Boston Strong’s” current 2-2 stretch has seen him upset Manny Bermudez and Charles Rosa while falling to Bryce Mitchell and Darrick Minner.
All but two of his wins have come inside the distance, eight via submission.
Justin Jaynes (16-7) stepped up on short notice to meet Frank Camacho at UFC APEX, stopping the durable veteran just 41 seconds into the first round. He’s yet to recapture that form and now enters the cage this Saturday having suffered three consecutive stoppage defeats.
“Guitar Hero” gives up two inches of height and 1.5 inches of reach to Rosa.
I think it well-established by this point that Rosa can’t handle strong wrestlers. Outside of tapping Bermudez, which was admittedly a hell of an achievement, his jiu-jitsu has struggled to save him off of his back. Luckily for him, Jaynes is usually more interested in taking people’s heads off than taking them to the mat, and Rosa’s brick slab of a chin should prove its value here.
Rosa holds notable advantages in striking technique and cardio; as long as he can survive the early rush, which his durability suggests he can, he’ll find more and more success as the fight progresses. Plus, he’s coming off a loss, so history says he’s due for a dub. Rosa survives some early trouble to take over the striking as the fight progresses.
Prediction: Rosa via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Yancy Medeiros vs. Damir Hadzovic
Wrote this up when they first got the call to fight, so I figured I might as well use it again ...
A move from Lightweight to Welterweight paid immediate dividends for Yancy Medeiros (15-7), who scored three consecutive finishes and a “Fight of the Night” bonus for his war with Alex Oliveira. He has since struggled to recapture that form, dropping three straight to Donald Cerrone, Gregor Gillespie and Lando Vannata.
His 12 professional finishes include eight by form of knockout.
Damir Hadzovic (13-6) put a UFC debut loss to Mairbek Taisumov behind him to win three of his next four, including a bonus-winning comeback knockout of Marcin Held. Later efforts proved less successful, as he dropped a decision to Christos Giagos before tapping to a rear naked choke from Renato Moicano.
“The Bosnian Bomber” gives up nearly half a foot of reach to Medeiros.
I’ve been hard on Medeiros in the past, but it’s worth remembering that he’s only lost to very capable fighters in the Octagon. Indeed, he’s still got power and remains tough as nails. Hadzovic doesn’t figure to test his wrestling the way Gillespie did and lacks the technical flair that Cerrone and Vannata used to overwhelm the Hawaiian. He’ll give Medeiros a straight fire fight, which Medeiros presumably still has the tools to win.
Even if Medeiros never panned out, he’s at least capable of dealing with a mid-tier bruiser like Hadzovic. In the end, expect him to overwhelm the Bosnian down the stretch for either a late finish or unanimous decision.
Prediction: Medeiros via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Vegas 30 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including some A+ prospects at Welterweight and Bantamweight. See you tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 30 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.
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