UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, hosts a battle of fearsome Flyweights this Saturday (Oct. 15, 2022) that sees Mexican star, Alexa Grasso, take on Brazilian finisher, Viviane Araujo. UFC Vegas 62 will also see Jonathan Martinez welcome Cub Swanson to the Bantamweight division, Askar Askarov square off with Brandon Royval in a potential sleeper hit, and Dusko Todorovic face Jordan Wright in a clash of Contender Series graduates.
Three UFC Vegas 62 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (check out the first batch here). No time like the present ...
205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Alonzo Menifield
Misha Cirkunov (15-8) entered the Octagon with high expectations for his future, which he lived up to with four consecutive dominant finishes. He’s just 2-6 since, including a submission loss to Wellington Turman in his last effort.
He’ll have one inch of height and three inches of reach on Menifield.
Two consecutive first round knockouts gave way to two straight losses in the Octagon for Alonzo Menifield (12-3), a two-time Contender Series winner. He now sits at 3-1 in his last four, most recently smashing Askar Mozharov for his ninth career first round victory.
Eleven of his professional wins have come inside the distance, eight via knockout.
It’s been genuinely depressing to watch Cirkunov’s decline. Those back-to-back losses to Volkan Oezdemir and Glover Teixeira seem like they broke something in him. It’s not like he’s losing to terrible fighters, but his grappling and striking look like shadows of their former selves. Though he has the skills on paper to beat Menifield — who remains a middling grappler — I can’t trust him to use them properly. Hell, he had the skills on paper to beat Ryan Spann, Krzysztof Jotko and Turman ... and look how that turned out.
It wouldn’t be too surprising to see him find some early takedown success, to be fair. It just doesn’t figure to last against the faster, more powerful Menifield, and Cirkunov’s history of collapsing under fire suggests that “Atomic” only needs one good connection to kick off the end. In short, Menifield blasts him out inside the first five minutes.
Prediction: Menifield via first round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Mana Martinez vs. Brandon Davis
Nearly 1.5 years after falling to Drako Rodriguez on Contender Series, Mana Martinez (9-3) secured his first UFC victory with a split decision over Guido Cannetti. Then came Ronnie Lawrence from Contender Series, who survived a Hail Mary knockdown to out-strike and out-wrestle “Manaboi” to a decision win.
He has scored eight knockouts as a professional, five of them in the first round.
Brandon Davis (14-9) punched his ticket to UFC with an impressive decision on Contender Series, only to leave the promotion on a 2-5 skid. After four wins on the regional scene, he returned to the promotion to face Danaa Batgerel, who handed “Killer B” the first knockout loss of his career.
He’ll enjoy a two-inch reach advantage.
Davis’ best attribute has always been his durability. He was never a heavy hitter or a technical marvel, but he could at least turn in a solid effort for the full 15 minutes. That knockout loss to Danaa is a bad sign. Indeed, even though Martinez has underwhelmed in two UFC appearances, the guy has ludicrous one-punch power that’s felled even the inordinately resilient Ricky Turcios. If he lands flush, Davis is going down.
If Davis wants any hope of victory, he has to wrestle, and he’s done so before against Giga Chikadze. With his historically shaky defense and Martinez’s ability to carry his power late, however, it seems inevitable that Martinez’s left hand will find the mark and turn the lights out.
Prediction: Martinez via first round knockout
145 lbs.: Joanderson Brito vs. Lucas Alexander
A Contender Series decision over Diego Lopes earned Brito (13-3-1) a UFC debut against Bill Algeo, who outstruck “Tubarao” to snap a 12-fight unbeaten streak. Things worked out a bit better for him his next time out, as he smashed Andre Fili in just 41 seconds to win Performance of the Night. He’s submitted six pro foes and knocked out another five.
Alexander (7-2) started his professional career 2-2 before embarking on his current winning streak. He’s ended his last three fights inside the distance, including a 2022 stoppage of Jacob Kilburn that saw him injure the UFC veteran’s arm with a body kick. He replaces Melsik Baghdasaryan on less than a week’s notice.
There are UFC Featherweights that Alexander has a shot at beating, but Brito isn’t one of them. Recent opponents have enjoyed plenty of success backing Alexander to the fence and scoring takedowns, and none of them offered the level of aggression and overall grappling skill that Brito brings to the table. Alexander also tends to keep his hands low, which is incredibly ill-advised against someone who throws with this much heat.
Alexander’s best chance lies in his check hook, which he’ll have plenty of opportunities to land. Between the short notice and Brito’s toughness, however, it’s far likelier that “Tubarao” physically overwhelms him and finds his neck around halfway through.
Prediction: Brito via second-round submission
185 lbs.: Nick Maximov vs. Jacob Malkoun
Nick Maximov (8-1) — who grappled his way to victory over a Heavyweight on Contender Series — defeated fellow Contender Series veterans Cody Brundage and Punahele Soriano in his first two UFC appearances. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran, Andre Petroski, proved a step too far, however, finishing Maximov with an anaconda choke in just 76 seconds.
His professional finishes are split two-three between knockouts and submissions.
A disastrous UFC debut saw Jacob Malkoun (6-2) folded with punches just 18 seconds into his clash with Phil Hawes. Two straight decision wins followed, though a narrow June 2022 loss to Brendan Allen knocked his Octagon record back down to .500.
He gives up three inches of height and reach to Maximov.
I think we all know how this is going to go: either Maximov is going to lie on Malkoun for 15 minutes or Malkoun is going to lie on Maximov. Neither man has shown off the submission prowess needed to tap the other, and though Malkoun does possess some solid boxing, I doubt they’ll spend long enough at striking range for it to be a factor.
I give the edge to Malkoun. He can match Maximov’s pace, is the more active ground-and-pounder, and has the aforementioned striking advantage. The issues Maximov had with Petroski and Soriano, at least before the latter suffered an injury, also suggest that he might not be able to handle similarly credentialed grapplers. In the end, Malkoun emerges victorious in a deeply boring battle.
Prediction: Malkoun via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 62 should produce some entertaining scraps, at least, even if it is short on divisionally meaningful fights. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Prediction Record for 2022: 143-71-2
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 62 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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