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UFC 271 predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN and ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022) when UFC 271: “Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2” storms Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 271 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Just about 2.5 years and three impressive wins apiece since first locking horns, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and former 185-pound kingpin, Robert Whittaker, are set to run it back this Saturday evening (Feb. 12, 2022) at UFC 271, which will take place inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Local fan favorite, Derrick Lewis, sees action in a volatile pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event against Tai Tuivasa, while Kyler Phillips meets Marcelo Rojo in what could be an absolute cracker at Bantamweight.

Four “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined on ESPN (check out the first batch here), so grab your magnifying glasses and let’s get analyzing ...

LIVE! Watch UFC 281 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE-DIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to “The Fight Mecca,” Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2022, featuring two highly-anticipated championship showdowns. In UFC 281’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, will look to settle the score with former kickboxing foe and No. 5-seeded contender, Alex Pereira. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV co-main event, women’s Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, intends to defend her newly-won title for the first time against former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Zhang Weili.

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

265 lbs.: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jared Vanderaa

Andrei Arlovski’s (32-20) return to the Octagon after seven years away saw him win four straight before hitting a 3-9 (1 NC) slump. He now finds himself on his best run since 2015, however, beating four of his last five and falling only to fast-rising Tom Aspinall.

He gives up three inches of reach to “The Mountain.”

Jared Vanderaa (12-6) — two fights removed from an unsuccessful LFA main event — pounded out Harry Hunsucker to graduate from Contender Series with contract in tow. Stoppage losses to Sergey Spivac and Alexander Romanov followed, though he did squeeze in a “Fight of the Night” decision over Justin Tafa in between.

That win was just his second by decision, knocking out seven and submitting another three.

I genuinely think Vanderaa is better than his UFC record suggests and capable of holding his own on the feet with his much-improved striking. Still, Arlovski’s got this down to a science: if you can’t take him down or knock him out, he’ll drag you into his methodical style of fight and beat you with experience.

That’s not to say Vanderaa can’t necessarily do those things, of course. He’s a very large man who throws a very high number of strikes, and if he does manage to get on top of Arlovski, he’ll Donkey Kong him through the canvas. I’ll split the difference and say Vanderaa gives a good account of himself, but falls just short in a purely stand up affair.

Prediction: Arlovski via split decision

125 lbs.: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Casey O’Neill

Two-time The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) hopeful, Roxanne Modafferi (25-19), spent three years and nine fights alternating losses and wins in the Octagon, notably handing Antonina Shevchenko and Maycee Barber their first professional defeats. The streak finally ended in Sept. 2021 when Taila Santos cruised past her for a unanimous decision victory.

She stands one inch taller than “King Casey” at 5’7.”

The Scotland-born Casey O’Neill (8-0) cut her teeth on the Australian circuit before punching her ticket to UFC with a dominant finish in her UAE Warriors debut. She’s amassed three consecutive finishes in the Octagon, most recently pounding out the aforementioned Shevchenko in Oct. 2021.

Four of her seven stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

Without the power of the streak behind her, I just don’t see how Modafferi wins this. O’Neill ostensibly matches or surpasses “The Happy Warrior” in most areas of the game — great striking, much-improved wrestling and a lethal ground game. The only way Modafferi wins this is if she can consistently rack up top control, but considering she’s given up nine takedowns in her last two fights, odds are that any grappling exchanges will be on O’Neill’s turns.

The big question for me is whether Modafferi can last the distance. Even if O’Neill proves unable to submit her, her ground-and-pound can end a fight just as easily. I’ll be an optimist and say Modafferi survives to hear the bell in her farewell fight.

Prediction: O’Neill via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Alex Perez vs. Matt Schnell

Alex Perez (24-6) went from dominating on Contender Series to winning six of his first seven Octagon bouts and taking home two post-fight bonuses along the way. His efforts set up a late-notice title shot against Deiveson Figueiredo, who caught him in a guillotine less than two minutes into the first round.

This marks his first fight in nearly 15 months.

Matt Schnell (15-6) put an 0-2 UFC start behind him to win four straight, including an 83-second triangle choke of Jordan Espinosa that earned him “Performance of the Night.” He’s since dropped two of three, a split decision over Tyson Nam sandwiched between losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Rogerio Bontorin.

Nine of his 11 stoppage wins have come via submission.

For those keeping score, this is the fourth time these two have been booked to fight in the last nine months. Perez pulled out of the first one, the second one got rescheduled, and a trigger-happy commission pulled Schnell from the third one because of an elevated heart rate after weigh-ins.

In all that time, my prediction hasn’t changed. As I’ve said before, Perez has the wrestling edge and enough output on the feet to crack Schnell’s shaky chin. Indeed, the only real shot for “Danger” is to land a submission off of his back, and while Perez’s submission defense has failed him in the past, it’s a far less likely outcome than Perez piecing him up. In the end, Perez racks up leg kicks until Schnell’s stationary enough to eat a finisher.

Prediction: Perez via second round technical knockout

205 lbs.: Maxim Grishin vs. William Knight

Maxim Grishin (31-9-2) started his mixed martial arts (MMA) career 12-6 before putting together an 18-1-2 run, the only loss coming to top prospect Magomed Ankalaev. He currently sits at 1-2 in the Octagon, suffering a Heavyweight defeat to Marcin Tybura and a narrow decision loss to Dustin Jacoby while stopping Gadzhimurad Antigulov.

He’s ended 16 professional fights by knockout and another six by submission.

Two-time Contender Series winner, William Knight (11-2), upgraded his contract from developmental to UFC by pounding out Cody Brundage in his second appearance. He went on to win three of four in the world’s largest fight promotion, including a narrow decision over Alonzo Menifield just one month ago.

He steps in for the injured Ed Herman on around two weeks’ notice.

On paper, Grishin should win this easily. Despite some improvements, Knight’s standup still consists entirely of hard low kicks and the occasional winging bomb; if Grishin is his usual methodical, technical self, there’s really not much “Knightmare” can do to him. Knight can’t even lean on his genuinely dangerous ground-and-pound, as Grishin’s defensive wrestling is too stout for him to crack.

Knight should have lost a good chunk of his fights “on paper,” to be fair, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him finagle his way to another unexpected victory. Still, expect Grishin to piece him up on the feet for a wide decision.

Prediction: Grishin via unanimous decision

There’s no question that we’re in for some quality violence ... hope you’ll be there to watch it with us. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 9-7


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 271 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV. Bet on UFC 271 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 271: “Adesanya vs. Whittaker 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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