One of the Light Heavyweight division’s scariest fighters meets one of its most promising this Saturday (March 12, 2022) when Thiago Santos looks to halt the rise of Magomed Ankalaev. UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, also hosts a must-win Bantamweight bout pitting the free-falling Marlon Moraes against devastating youngster, Song Yadong, plus the return of Sodiq Yusuff opposite Alex Caceres.
UFC Vegas 50 features eight “Prelims” undercard bouts this weekend. which we’ve split into two bite-sized portions for your convenience. Let’s begin ...
125 lbs.: Sabina Mazo vs. Miranda Maverick
Sabina Mazo (9-3) capped off a three-fight win streak by choking out Justine Kish in Sept. 2020. She hasn’t tasted victory since, dropping a decision to Alexis Davis and suffering a club-and-sub loss to Mariya Agapova in sequence.
“Colombian Queen” is the taller woman by four inches and will have a 4.5-inch reach advantage.
Miranda Maverick (11-4) lived up to her name with impressive UFC victories over Liana Jojua and Gillian Robertson, but wound up on the wrong end of some horrific judging against Maycee Barber. There was nothing controversial about her next outing, however, dropping a wide decision to fast-rising Erin Blanchfield.
She replaces Mandy Bohm on short notice.
To say Mazo has underperformed in the Octagon would be an understatement. Even her victories were awash in red flags — she was fortunate to get the split decision over J.J. Aldrich and was arguably on her way to losing a decision to Kish before finishing her off late in the third. Though she’s just 24 and has time to live up to the considerable potential she once showed, the prognosis looks grim.
Maverick’s had her own issues, to be fair, but dropping a bogus decision to Barber and falling to a blue-chip prospect like Blanchfield aren’t particularly damning. The style match up is definitely in her favor, too. Indeed, Davis showed that Mazo is vulnerable to the sort of wrestling-heavy offense Maverick employs, and Maverick’s aggressive enough to find success on the feet despite the height and reach discrepancies. In the end, she overpowers Mazo on the mat for 15 grueling minutes.
Prediction: Maverick via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Dalcha Lungiambula vs. Cody Brundage
Former LFA double champ, Dalcha Lungiambula (11-3), followed his UFC debut knockout of Dequan Townsend with a loss to blue-chip prospect, Magomed Ankalaev. This prompted a drop to Middleweight, where he out-lasted Markus Perez before falling to Marc-Andre Barriault over three rounds.
He gives up four inches of height to Cody Brundage (6-2), but will enjoy a four-inch reach advantage.
Brundage rebounded from his unsuccessful Contender Series bid by choking out Joseph Kropschot in his LFA debut. His efforts led to a short-notice UFC debut against Nick Maximov, who out-grinded the grinder to hand him his second loss in three fights.
His five finishes are split 3/2 between knockouts and submissions.
To Lungiambula’s credit, he showed flashes of improvement against Barriault, landing more significant strikes than in his three prior UFC appearances combined. He still showed a lot of his usual bad habits, though, namely his tendencies to put too much behind his punches and willingly back himself to the fence. This should give an athletic, fundamentally sound wrestler like Brundage plenty of opportunities to get in on his hips, especially since Lungiambula’s takedown defense isn’t as ironclad as his judo pedigree would suggest.
The big concern here is Lungiambula’s power, as Brundage can leave his chin exposed when rushing in. So long as Brundage stays patient and picks his opportunities, though, he’ll exploit Lungiambula’s terrible cage awareness to rack up takedowns and top control.
Prediction: Brundage via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Kris Moutinho vs. Guido Cannetti
Kris Moutinho (9-5) rode a two-fight win streak into his Octagon debut, a late-notice clash with Sean O’Malley at UFC 264. The bout saw him absorb an ungodly 230 significant strikes before suffering a highly controversial stoppage in the last 30 seconds.
He stands one inch taller than “Ninja” at 5’7.”
Guido Cannetti (8-7) started his UFC career at 2-2 after an unsuccessful bid on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, defeating fellow TUF veterans Hugo Viana and Diego Rivas. He enters Saturday’s bout winless in his last three, most recently dropping a split decision to Mana Martinez.
He’s ended six professional fights inside the distance, three each by knockout and submission.
On the one hand, Moutinho has no striking defense to speak of and Cannetti both throws heat and can wrestle. On the other, Cannetti’s got one round of gas and is way too easy to bully to the fence. After way more agonizing than a match between two bottom-of-the-barrel Bantamweights merited, I think I’m going with Moutinho.
If there’s one thing Moutinho showed against O’Malley, it’s persistence. He’s got great cardio and never stops advancing, meaning Cannetti’s definitely going to wear down before he does. “Ninja” might swipe the first with top control and looping bombs, but Moutinho should snowball before long, even if his lack of stopping power may force a trip to the judges.
Prediction: Moutinho via third round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Tafon Nchukwi vs. Azamat Murzakanov
Tafon Nchukwi (6-1) kicked off his Middleweight run by beating Jamie Pickett in his Octagon debut, but couldn’t do the same to Jun Yong Park in his second effort. His return to 205 pounds proved successful, dominating Mike Rodriguez for a comfortable victory.
“Da Don” will have two inches of height and nearly half a foot of reach on Murzakanov.
After a 2.5-year layoff brought about by a run-in with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Azamat Murzakanaov (10-0) took his talents to Brave CF, where he defeated Mohammad Fakhreddine and Guto Inocente. This set up a Contender Series bid opposite Matheus Scheffel, whom Murzakanov demolished in three minutes to win a contract.
All eight of his professional finishes have come in the first round.
Nchukwi’s lack of speed won’t be as big of an issue at Light Heavyweight as it would have been if he’d stayed at 185 pounds, but it’s still going to be a big problem here. Murzakanov’s hands and feet are faster than the average 205er’s and downright blazing next to Nchukwi’s. On top of that, he’s as good as or better than Nchukwi in the wrestling thanks to his sambo background, meaning he can recreate Park’s efforts and take Nchukwi to the mat if the latter’s power becomes an issue.
Murzakanov just seems to have a technical edge in most areas, bolstered by the aforementioned speed advantage. In short, he runs circles around Nchukwi for a successful debut.
Prediction: Murzakanov via unanimous decision
Four more UFC Vegas 50 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the debuts of two unbeaten 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 50 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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