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X-Factor! Some UFC Vegas 32 main card predictions

UFC Fight Night: Elkins v Garagorri Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

This weekend (Sat., July 24, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will remain inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 32. In the main event, T.J. Dillashaw will attempt to make his return to the title mix opposite hot-shot knockout artist Cory Sandhagen — there’s no way that fight won’t deliver! Plus, there are some really quality prospects leading up to that bout, so it should prove a really fun night of scraps.

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

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 74 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES FLYWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 3, 2023, with No. 3-seeded contender, Kai Kara-France, face rising No. 7-ranked Amir Albazi. In UFC Vegas 74’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, an exciting Featherweight bout sees No. 15-ranked contender, Alex Caceres, lock horns with all-action Daniel Pineda.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Bantamweight: Kyler Phillips vs. Raulian Paiva

Best Win for Phillips? Song Yadong For Paiva? Zhalgas Zhumulgov
Current Streak: Phillips is 3-0 inside the Octagon, while Paiva has won two straight
X-Factor: Paiva is at 135 lbs. after struggling to make the Flyweight limit
How these two match up: Expect a striking battle.

Phillips is a very slick outside kickboxer. He moves well and walks his foes into counters, but he’s also able to close the distance with shocking speed. Oh, and he’s got a strong wrestling background with a jiu-jitsu brown belt for good measure.

It’s not hard to see why people are excited about the 26-year-old.

Of course, Paiva is a year younger and has 20 professional wins! The Brazilian is a scrapper, an aggressive combination puncher who knows no other way to fight than to advance forward.

This is likely to be a really fun and competitive match up, but it’s hard not to feel that Phillips has the edge. Paiva perhaps hits harder, but Phillips’ evasiveness will likely keep him safe, whereas Paiva’s activity will create openings for the American. Plus, if the striking isn’t going well at any point, Phillips is likely the superior takedown artist.

Unless Paiva lands a one-hitter quitter, Phillips’ volume likely sways the judges.

Prediction: Phillips via decision

Featherweight: Darren Elkins vs. Darrick Minner

Best Win for Elkins? Mirsad Bektic For Minner? Charles Rosa
Current Streak: Elkins returned to the win column last time out, whereas Minner has won two straight
X-Factor: Minner has improved a lot under the tutelage of James Krause
How these two match up: A pair of Midwest wrastlers will throw down!

Elkins is a legend. The grinder is willing to walk through hellacious punishment in pursuit of the takedown, and he’s made a career out of out-lasting opponents. Meanwhile, Minner is all aggression. For a man with 22 submission wins on his record, Minner has also showed surprising power in his hands.

Now, I have to admit bias here: I’ve trained with Elkins for years, and I greatly admire his work ethic and mental toughness. That grain of salt aside, however, this reads like a truly terrible match up for Minner.

Elkins is damn near impossible to submit. In a 14-year professional career, Elkins has been submitted a single time nearly a decade ago ... and it was by Charles Oliveira, UFC’s all-time submission ace! Ryan Hall couldn’t do tap out the veteran, and submissions represent Minner’s usual path to victory.

I am confident, at some point, Minner will lock up a gnarly guillotine that will appear set in stone. Then, Elkins will somehow escape, be in top position, and the tide will soon turn as “The Damage” drowns his foe in deep waters.

Prediction: Elkins via submission

Women’s Flyweight: Maycee Barber vs. Miranda Maverick

Best Win for Barber? JJ Aldrich For Maverick? Gillian Robertson
Current Streak: Barber has lost two in a row, while Maverick won two straight inside the Octagon
X-Factor: Has Barber’s takedown defense improved?
How these two match up: Talented young 125-pounders will collide.

Barber rose up the ranks quickly thanks to her physicality and power, but perhaps that backfired, as her technical skills failed her a bit against more experienced opposition. Fortunately, “The Future” is still just 23 years old, so it would be foolish to write her off just yet.

Maverick is in the midst of her own quick rise. The 24-year-old Invicta FC veteran is a ground specialist, quite good at dragging her foes down to the mat and then overwhelming their defenses.

Ah, the problem that so often arises: a fight solely determined by whether or not the takedown lands. If Maverick is consistently able to score takedowns. she’s very likely going to control the fight without much issue. However, should Barber stuff a shot or two, her close range power is a definite fight-ender.

Ultimately, I still like Barber’s upside. Her losses are understandable enough: youth and an ACL tear cost her against a crafty veteran (Roxeanne Modafferi), then she faced a genuine top-tier contender (Alexa Grasso) in her return.

Barber can do damage given small openings, and she’s likely to find some this weekend.

Prediction: Barber via knockout

Welterweight: Mickey Gall vs. Jordan Williams

Best Win for Gall? Sage Northcutt For Williams? Gregory Rodrigues
Current Streak: Both men lost their last bout
X-Factor: Will Gall’s cardio hold him back?
How these two match up: This might be a “loser goes home” battle.

Gall meme’d his way onto the UFC roster, and to his credit, he’s managed to stick around for another few years. While his kickboxing has been progressing well to match his grappling skill, Gall’s conditioning has continued to be an issue.

Williams is still searching for his first win inside the Octagon. The California-native is well-rounded, capable of slinging power punches and wrestling along the fence.

This will be his first bout at 170 pounds.

I just do not trust Gall past the first round. Williams may not be as established as the men who have beaten Gall, but he can match the submission fighter’s size, and he has yet to tap out as a professional.

Williams may face some early adversity, but if he survives, he’ll get on top and ride out the win.

Prediction: Williams via decision

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2021: 15-13-2 (1)

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 32 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 32: “Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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