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UFC Vegas 33 preview, ‘Hall vs Strickland’ predictions

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UFC Fight Night: Rockhold v Branch Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will send middleweight striker Uriah Hall into “Prime Time” battle opposite 185-pound “Tarzan” Sean Strickland atop the UFC Vegas 33 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, booked for this Sat. night (July 31, 2021) on both ESPN and ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 38 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Oct. 2, 2021, with a thrilling Light Heavyweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5-ranked Thiago Santos battle No. 10-seeded Johnny Walker. In UFC Vegas 38’s co-main event, No. 3-ranked women’s Bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd squares off with No. 11 Macy Chiasson.

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

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, head over to the UFC Vegas 33 preliminary card breakdown expertly deconstructed by effervescent analyst Patrick Stumberg here and here. Resident MMA champ Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 33 main card right here.

For the latest “Hall vs. Strickland” odds and betting lines be sure to check out the updated numbers right here.

Let’s break it down ...

185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland

Uriah “Prime Time” Hall

Record: 17-9 | Age: 36 | Betting line: +175
Wins: 13 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.34 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.54 | Striking Defense: 53%
Takedown Average: 0.67 (38% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 69%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Chris Weidman

Sean “Tarzan” Strickland

Record: 23-3 | Age: 30 | Betting line: -225
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’1“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.14 | Striking accuracy: 39%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.64 | Striking Defense: 67%
Takedown Average: 1.14 (60% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 82%
Current Ranking: No. 11 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Krzysztof Jotko

Uriah Hall is a gifted striker who’s been able to parlay his natural talent into a respectable MMA career, though it would be difficult to find a victory that holds up well under scrutiny. Chris Weidman broke his leg in their UFC 261 rematch and Anderson Silva was already 45 by the time they finally met. Outside of that I guess you can point to his knockout over Gegard Mousasi in late 2016, when “The Dreamcatcher” was competing in his combat sports prime. Hall reminds me of a speedy NFL running back who can only gain yardage when the lane is clear because like pro football, there is more to this sport than just speed and athleticism. Hall can impress when fighters give him space to work — afraid of the flashy kicks (and rightly so) — or meet him in the middle with something to prove. Both cases work in favor of “Prime Time,” who boasts 13 knockouts in 17 wins.

Strickland is something of a mixed bag. After getting pushed around at welterweight — which includes a decision loss to Kamaru Usman — “Tarzan” bounced back from a devastating motorcycle accident to make his mark at 185 pounds. The result is three straight wins with a highlight-reel knockout over Brendan Allen at UFC Vegas 14. Can he replicate that performance against Hall?

“If they ask me my game plan, (I have) no game plan,” Strickland told UFC.com. “Shut the cage, you either knock me out or I’m going to knock you out. That’s it, or, most likely, you’re going to try to fucking take me down and cuddle me.”

Hall is not the type to initiate takedowns. In fact, “Prime Time” hasn’t dragged anyone to the floor in nearly six years across a span of 10 fights. That’s just fine by Strickland, who gives up three-inches in reach. Expect him to get in Hall’s face and make it ugly, which based on history, will likely send the former TUF runner-up into meltdown mode, leading to a swift and somewhat brutal end. Let’s face it, there’s a reason Hall has nine losses — seven of which came inside the Octagon.

Prediction: Strickland def. Hall by technical knockout

135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Rani Yahya

“Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang

Record: 17-8, 1 NC | Age: 33 | Betting line: -135
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 11 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 5 DEC, 1 DQ
Height: 5’9“ | Reach: 73” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.52 | Striking accuracy: 44%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.43 | Striking Defense: 58%
Takedown Average: 2.53 (59% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 71%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Split decision win over Pingyuan Liu

Rani Yahya

Record: 27-10-1, 1 NC | Age: 36 | Betting line: +115
Wins: 0 KO/TKO, 21 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 7 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 67” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 1.57 | Striking accuracy: 37%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.70 | Striking Defense: 50%
Takedown Average: 2.89 (33% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 24%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Ray Rodriguez

Note: The following prediction was made by Andrew Richardson prior to the promotion’s main card shuffle, which previously featured the recently-scratched welterweight battle between Mounir Lazzez and Niklas Stolze.

Best Win for Kang? Michinori Tanaka For Yahya? Mike Brown
Current Streak: Kang has won three in a row, Yahya is unbeaten in his last two
X-Factor: Yahya is older for a Bantamweight (36) and has been fighting since 2002
How these two match up: Grappler’s delight!

Kang has been on the sidelines since Dec. 2019, but it’s great to have “Mr. Perfect” back. Kang is one of those fun wrestlers that doesn’t just content himself to control opponents. Instead, he constantly forces scrambles, hoping to advance past the guard and create opportunities for submissions.

With Demian Maia on his way out, is Yahya the last older jiu-jitsu guy still wrangling tough opposition? Yahya is pretty single-minded in his pursuit of the takedown, at which point his top pressure and strangles are really top-notch.

I don’t know how much Yahya has left in the tank. He’s long in the tooth, and it’s been some years since he defeated a ranked foe. Much like Maia, Yahya is a liability in the second half of fights, even if he’s getting the grappling match he desires.

Unfortunately, I am a man who picks fights largely based on style match ups, and it is impossible to ignore how perfect this fight is for Yahya! Kang may be the better striker, but he cannot help himself to leap into fire on the mat. Yahya has the skills to secure dominant positions, and if the submission doesn’t emerge, he’ll rack up long periods of time controlling his foe.

Prediction: Yahya def. Kang by unanimous decision

Holland’s two cents: Yahya has been competing for nearly 20 years and has yet to score a single knockout across 39 professional fights. Don’t expect that to change here and don’t expect restless Just Bleed’rs to appreciate the chess match on the ground. Kang is no spring chicken himself and I think a reckless transition costs him the fight.

Prediction: Yahya def. Kang by submission

Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 33 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.

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+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 6 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 33 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the revised, reworked, and retooled “Hall vs. Strickland” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ lineup click here.