Two top Middleweights in the midst of unexpected resurgences lock horns this Saturday (July 31, 2021) when The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Uriah Hall meets Sean Strickland inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. Meanwhile, 80 pounds north, Chris Daukaus welcomes Shamil Abdurakhimov back to the Octagon in a rescheduled Heavyweight tussle (bout canceled), while TUF graduates Gloria de Paula and Cheyanne Buys look to bounce back from unsuccessful debuts at each others’ expense.
UFC Vegas 33 boasts a hefty line up of nine “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around; therefore, let’s have a gander at the first five below:
115 lbs.: Jinh Yu Frey vs. Ashley Yoder
Jinh Yu Frey (10-6) — the former Invicta Atomweight champion — stumbled out of the UFC gate with consecutive losses to Kay Hansen and Loma Lookboonmee. With her back against the wall, she managed to survive some rough spots to beat Gloria de Paula in March 2021.
She is the shorter woman by four inches and gives up as much reach.
Ashley Yoder (8-7) snapped a three-fight skid with consecutive decisions over Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo, only to lose her next two. She managed to get back on track by beating Miranda Granger, but once again fell short against old rival Angela Hill in March 2021.
“The Spider Monkey” has scored four submissions as a professional, though none since 2016.
This isn’t what you’d call a prediction-friendly fight. If both women fight at their best, Frey’s definitely got the edge, as Yoder’s wrestling and striking have yet to catch up to her jiu-jitsu game. The thing is, Frey never fights to the best of her abilities; she’s one of the most self-destructively passive fighters I’ve ever seen in the sport, often failing to do even the bare minimum to sway the judges.
Yoder’s got a real chance to win this by simply doing more than Frey. Even if her takedowns fail and her strikes don’t find their mark, she’ll at least be making an effort, which is more than you can say about Frey. On the other hand, Frey’s left hand by itself is more potent than Yoder’s entire stand up arsenal and she’s not too shabby a wrestler herself. Combine that with a history of winning razor-thin decisions and I say Frey ekes it out.
Prediction: Frey via split decision
135 lbs.: Ronnie Lawrence vs. Trevin Jones
Though he failed to find the finish in his “Contender Series” bout with Jose Johnson, Ronnie Lawrence’s (7-1) wrestling clinic impressed Dana White enough to earn him a contract anyway. “The Heat” rewarded this faith by routing Vince Cachero in his “Performance of the Night”-winning UFC debut.
He’s ended four professional fights with strikes.
Trevin Jones (13-6) authored one of 2020’s biggest upsets by knocking out top prospect Timur Valiev, only for a failed drug test to turn it into a “No Contest.” Undaunted, he got in the UFC win column proper with another impressive knockout against Mario Bautista in Feb. 2021.
He was previously slated to face Tony Kelley last Saturday, but now steps in for John Castaneda.
It’s hard to figure out exactly how good Jones is — he was losing both of his UFC fights before he, well, wasn’t. No such ambiguity exists for Lawrence, whose excellent wrestling makes him stand out in a division absolutely choked with talent. That said, Valiev is also enormously talented and we all saw how that worked out for him.
That’s really the long and short of it. Lawrence will dominate on the mat and is skilled enough with his in-and-out striking to hold his own on the feet. Jones needs to find that one-hitter quitter again, which is admittedly more feasible than it sounds. Still, expect Lawrence to put the pace on him and wrestle his way to another Octagon victory.
Prediction: Lawrence via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Philip Rowe vs. Orion Cosce
Philip Rowe (7-3) rode a six-fight win streak into his 2019 turn on “Contender Series,” where he battered the favored Leon Shahbazyan into submission to earn a spot in the Octagon. A series of cancelations pushed his debut back until Feb. 2021, when he dropped a decision to Gabe Green for his first loss since 2015.
“The Fresh Prince” stands four inches taller than Orion Cosce (7-0) and boasts a nine-inch reach advantage.
Less than two years after his professional debut, Cosce found his way onto “Contender Series” against blue-chip prospect Matt Dixon. After struggling with his foe’s wrestling in the early going, Cosce’s pressure turned the tide and secured him both a last-second finish and a UFC contract.
He’s knocked out six foes and submitted one other.
While the 27-year-old Cosce is far from a finished product, he’s perfectly equipped to win this. Rowe’s massive height and reach advantages are offset by his vulnerability to pressure, which the hard-charging Cosce is more than happy to exploit. To make matters worse for Rowe, Cosce’s too adept a wrestler for Rowe to bail himself out of bad spots with takedowns like he did against Green.
Don’t expect the sort of critical cardio failure that sank his brother Louis, either — “Galaxy” is more than capable of going three hard rounds. Even if the early finish isn’t there for Cosce, he’ll be in Rowe’s face and testing his chin all night. In short, attrition and toughness carry him to a dominant debut victory.
Prediction: Cosce via unanimous decision
Four more UFC Vegas 33 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a great clash of Featherweight “Contender Series” graduates. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 33 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 33: “Hall vs. Strickland” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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