Top Welterweight contender Belal Muhammad will look to avenge one of his most destructive losses this Saturday (April 9, 2022) when he faces lethal finisher Vicente Luque on ESPN from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 51 will also hosts a clash of elite Middleweight prospects between Caio Borralho and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev, as well as a potential slugfest between Mayra Bueno Silva and Wu Yanan.
We’ve for four more “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), which we have prepared for your enjoyment below.
265 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. William Knight
Devin Clark (12-6) — the first-ever graduate of Lookin’ for a Fight — put together a solid 3-1 run after suffering a wild knockout loss to Aleksandar Rakic. Consistent success once again proved elusive, though, and he enters the cage this weekend on the heels of consecutive defeats.
He boasts two inches of height and reach on “Knightmare.”
William Knight’s (11-3) second Contender Series knockout led to a 2-1 UFC start, including a bonus-winning, one-punch knockout of Fabio Cherant. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly against Maxim Grishin, as Knight came in 12 pounds heavy before dropping a unanimous decision.
Eight of his nine finishes have come by knockout.
I’ve given this match up more thought than it probably merits. On one hand, Knight’s technique is as atrocious as ever and he’s throwing away his one asset — his raw physical strength — by moving up to Heavyweight. On the other, Clark got absolutely manhandled by Ion Cutelaba last time out.
This is more of a gut pick than anything, but I think I like Knight here. Clark is more than happy to tie up, and if there’s one thing Knight does well, it’s reverse overeager takedown artists and smash their faces in with ground-and-pound. In the end, he prevails in a battle of deeply disappointing sluggers.
Prediction: Knight via first round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Lina Lansberg vs. Pannie Kianzad
Lina Lansberg (10-5) — who had the misfortune of welcoming Cris Cyborg to the Octagon — alternated losses and wins before finally putting together a two-fight win streak in 2019. That’s as far as it went, however, as Sara McMann dominated her on the mat her next time out.
She fights for the first time in nearly 27 months.
Pannie Kianzad (16-6) worked her way into the Bantamweight picture with four consecutive victories, among them an upset of Sijara Eubanks. She couldn’t quite do the same to Raquel Pennington, who controlled her on the fence to hand Kianzad her first loss in two years.
“Banzai” has knocked out three pro foes, though none since 2014.
If every intangible was going her way, Lansberg would have a real shot here. Though not quite as destructive in the clinch as her moniker would suggest, she’s skilled enough to potentially recreate Pennington’s efforts and neutralize Kianzad against the fence.
Unfortunately for Lansberg, she’s 40 years old, coming off a long layoff and already lands half as many significant strikes per fight as Kianzad. All signs point to Kianzad simply out-working her with high-volume boxing. At this stage in Lansberg’s career, I’m not convinced she can stop her from doing just that.
Prediction: Kianzad via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Drakkar Klose vs. Brandon Jenkins
Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) barreled his way into contention with wins in five of his first six Octagon appearances, including upset decisions over Marc Diakiese and Lando Vannata. This led to a clash with fellow standout Beneil Dariush, who put Klose to sleep with a huge left hand in one of the wildest fights of 2020.
This marks his first appearance in more than two years.
Brandon Jenkins (15-8) lived up to his moniker by blasting Jacob Kilburn with a flying knee, extending his winning streak to three in the process. Three weeks later, he stepped up on short notice to face Rongzhu, showing admirable boldness but succumbing to ground-and-pound late in the third.
He has knocked out 10 professional foes and submitted another three.
While I can definitely understand giving Klose a soft touch after a long layoff and injury, this seems a bit excessive. He seems to out-class the sporadically dangerous Jenkins in every category — he’s free to rough the latter up on the feet or just maul him on the ground the way Rongzhu did. Without a strong technical base to support his more outlandish techniques, Jenkins basically needs to catch Klose cold if he wants to win this.
And barring an absurd amount of rust on Klose’s part, that’s not happening. In short, he mauls Jenkins before the second bell.
Prediction: Klose via first round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Jesse Ronson
Former Combate champ, Rafa Garcia (13-2), struggled to find his footing in UFC, dropping consecutive decisions to Nasrat Haqparast and Chris Gruetzemacher in his first two appearances. Undaunted, he managed to right the ship in Nov. 2021, edging out Natan Levy at the APEX.
He’s ended eight professional fights inside the distance, seven of them via submission.
Jesse Ronson (21-10) had one of the unluckiest UFC runs you’ll ever see, losing three consecutive split decisions to Michel Prazeres, Francisco Trinaldo and Kevin Lee. “The Body Snatcher” fought his way back into the Octagon six years later and stunned Nicolas Dalby upon his return, but soon saw that victory overturned due to a failed drug test.
This marks his first appearance in nearly two years.
I expected that loss to Haqparast, but Garcia’s performance against Grutezemacher really put a damper on my expectations for “Gifted.” His cardio and attrition style were his greatest weapons on paper, so seeing his cardio give out and his stand up prove ineffective was alarming.
Still, based on the Levy fight, he should be able to get past Ronson. “The Body Snatcher” has consistently struggled with persistent wrestlers, and Garcia proved that he can fire off takedowns well past the point where his gas tank empties. Ronson’s stronger on the feet and that eponymous body attack could be an issue, but expect Garcia to rack up just enough top control to edge out a win.
Prediction: Garcia via split decision
Even if UFC Vegas 51’s supporting cast ain’t much, that main event looks like a guaranteed banger. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 51-23
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 51 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 8:30 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 51: “Luque vs. Muhammad 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.