Two of the most devastating strikers in the Light Heavyweight division lock horns this Saturday (Feb. 19, 2022) when Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill headline UFC Vegas 48 in an ad-hoc main event. The rest of the card, which will take place inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, features a Middleweight battle between Kyle Daukaus and Jamie Pickett, plus Jim Miller in a crossroads bout with Nikolas Motta and some fun Heavyweight shenanigans pitting Parker Porter and Alan Baudot.
We’ve got three more UFC Vegas 48 “Prelims” undercard bouts to be examined (check out the first batch here). Let’s get cracking ...
145 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. David Onama
Gabriel Benitez (22-10) — an original The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Latin America alum — snapped a two-fight skid in 2020 by crushing Justin Jaynes with a bonus-winning knee to the body. Then came Billy Quarantillo, who overwhelmed “Moggly” with pressure and ground control before pounding him out late.
He gives up three inches of height and reach to David Onama (8-1).
Glory MMA’s Onama went undefeated (10-0) as an amateur on his way to the professional ranks, where he racked up five finishes in under a half-round. Just two weeks after a win in FAC, he stepped up on short notice to face Mason Jones in his UFC debut, which saw him go toe-to-toe with “The Dragon” en route to a competitive decision loss.
All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, five of them by knockout.
I really do want to see Benitez succeed; the man kicks like a mule and is capable of some horrific feats of violence. Unfortunately, that loss to “Billy Q” doesn’t give me much hope. Quarantillo was able to get inside and land his looping punches far too easily, and the fact that he managed to drop Benitez early raises real questions about “Moggly’s” ability to withstand damage.
Those are both serious red flags against someone with Onama’s power. Benitez needs to keep the taller, longer man on the end of his kicks, which he doesn’t seem capable of doing if Onama commits to closing the distance. Prediction? Benitez’s kicks and Onama’s jab battle for dominance at range before a booming right from the latter ends things in the first.
Prediction: Onama via first round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Stephanie Egger
Jessica-Rose Clark (11-6) opened her UFC career with consecutive victories over Bec Rawlings and Paige VanZant, only to drop her next two to Jessica Eye and Pannie Kianzad. She’s since returned to form by stopping Sarah Alphar and grinding out Joselyne Edwards, the latter on the heels of a 13-month layoff.
She gives up one inch of height and 3.5 inches of reach.
Stephanie Egger (6-2) rode a three-fight win streak into the Octagon, where she dropped her debut to rising grinder Tracy Cortez. Her second effort proved more fruitful, pounding out Shanna Young in Oct. 2021.
That victory was her third via (technical) knockout and fifth overall inside the distance.
“Jessy Jess” has the right style to win this, though it could get hairy if she’s as one-note as she was in the Edwards fight. Egger showed in the Cortez fight that despite her judo pedigree, she’s very vulnerable to getting taken down in return, which plays right into Clark’s grind-happy hands. If Clark gets too predictable, on the other hand, Egger’s sharp enough to toss her around while she tries to work against the fence.
Between Clark’s experience and the fact that she’s never been finished, I like her to power through any rough moments and grind out Egger from guard. She’ll have to stay composed, but expect her wrestling to carry the day.
Prediction: Clark via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Chas Skelly vs. Mark Striegl
Chas Skelly (18-3) bounced back from a UFC debut loss to Mirsad Bektic by winning six of his next seven, including a 19-second anaconda choke of Maximo Blanco that earned him “Performance of the Night.” He’s 1-1 (1 NC) since, most recently scraping past Jordan Griffin in Vancouver.
He fights for the first time in more than 29 months.
Mark Striegl (18-3) followed his brief stint in ONE with a championship run in URCC, capped off with a low-blow-induced No Contest against UFC veteran Shunichi Shimizu. His Octagon debut wasn’t quite as successful, suffering a 51-second knockout loss to Said Nurmagomedov in Oct. 2020.
All 14 of his stoppage wins have come by submission.
Even if Skelly peaked lower than I thought he would, he’s more than capable of winning this. He’s ostensibly superior to Striegl in their mutual wheelhouse, the wrestling, and his cardio issues are offset by “Mugen’s” own. Without the pace or striking to wear down Skelly, Striegl’s at the mercy of a more proven and effective ground artist.
Skelly’s layoff is obviously a huge concern, and it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see his gas tank drain before Striegl’s. More likely, though, he slowly pulls ahead in a grinding slog before wrapping up a choke.
Prediction: Skelly via second round submission
Losing “The Battle of Rafaels” sucks, but there’s some solid violence to be found here. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 17-8
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 48 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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