UFC Vegas 51 is set to go down later tonight (Sat., April 16, 2022) from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Headlining the event will be a Welterweight rematch between top-ranked contenders Vicente Luque and Belal Muhammad. Co-headlining the event will be a Middleweight fight between Caio Borralho vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev.
Luque defeated Muhammad more than six years ago in the first round at UFC 205 (see it here), and since then, both men have gone on a tremendous run in the stacked Welterweight division. Luque (No. 5) has gone 8-2, while Muhammad (No. 6) is 10-1-1 since the crushing defeat. With the Top 5 already booked or having recently competed, it only made sense to run it back. The winner will be in good position to inch closer to a shot at the title, and following the barn-burner between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns, they will have to win — and win impressively — to get in the mix.
As for the match up itself, Luque is the favorite here and it all has to do with his push-the-pace, in-your-face style that has earned him nine finishes in his last 10 wins. And he can do it in any manner, submission or knockout. His technique is superb, too, which means there is no wasted motion in his attack. And he’s exciting as all heck, too, though he doesn’t get the love and appreciation of most other combatants who are always full speed ahead. Another emphatic win over Muhammad — especially a finish — would help his cause.
Muhammad, meanwhile, has quietly become one of the best 170-pounders in the game thanks to wins over Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Dhiego Lima, among others. But, Luque is the mountain he must climb if he wants to crack the Top 5 and get into serious championship consideration. He has improved leaps and bounds since losing to Luque, but now he has to put it work against the man himself. Unlike Luque, Muhammad doesn’t exactly possess the knockout power that scares his foes. That’s not to say that one clean hit right on the button won’t get the job done, but Luque’s always on the move, so that’s going to be a tough method of victory for “Remember The Name.” Muhammad will have to be perfect in both aspects, offense and defense, if he wants a win here.
The card is severely lacking with name value that will attract a lot of eyeballs. While I’m not trying to bag on Borralho and Moragadhiev, I don’t see how this is the co-main event. They are both making their UFC debuts coming in from Contender Series, so how they took the spot over other veterans on the card is beyond me.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Brandon Jenkins stepped in to fight Drakkar Klose after Nikolas Motta was forced out of the match up for undisclosed reasons. Also, Dhiego Lima was in line to face Miguel Baeza, but Lima abruptly announced his retirement from the fight game and was replaced by Rafael Fialho. A Middleweight bout between Uriah Hall and Andre Muniz was scrapped after Hall bowed out for undisclosed reasons. With the promotion unable to find a suitable replacement, Muniz was yanked, too. And finally, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos withdrew from his fight against Mounir Lazzez, and was ultimately replaced by UFC newcomer, Ange Loosa.
No injuries were reported for this event.
Borralho is currently on a seven-fight win streak and punched his ticket to the big dance after back-to-back wins on Contender Series. At 29 years of age, Borralho — who specializes in judo and kickboxing — has only competed 11 times in his eight years career, but he’s done enough to catch the eyes of UFC officials.
He will be taking on fellow newcomer and Contender Series alum, Gadhi Omargadzhiev, who is undefeated (13-0). He is a remarkable athlete who relies on his grappling to get the job done, and it has worked well for him throughout his career, obviously. But, he is no one-trick pony. He has a versatile striking attack that has earned him eight (technical) knockout wins.
Loosa came up short in his opportunity to shine on Contender Series, but he still eventually made it to UFC after a decision win over former UFC veteran, John Howard, agreeing to step in on short notice to face off against Lazzez, who is looking for a big win after coming up short against Warlley Alves in his previous bout.
Winner of eight straight, Martin Buday will get the chance to show his stuff on the big stage when he takes on Chris Barnett in Heavyweight action. Buday is coming off a first round knockout win on Contender Series, his eighth straight finish (seven by way of strikes). He will have a tough first draw in Barnett, who captured fight fans’ hearts following his knockout win over Gian Villante in his first UFC win. Not only was the spinning wheel knock knockout impressive, but so was his post-fight celebration (see it here).
Trey Ogden has won three straight fights via submission, and now he will look to continue that streak in his first fight inside the Octagon. The 32-year-old will make his debut against Jordan Leavitt, who is coming off a win over Matt Sayles. Ogden has a strong wrestling base, but has shown to have great striking. He has been on the sidelines for more than 12 months, so it will be interesting to see if ring rust is a factor.
How The ‘Prelim’s” Look:
We’ve discussed most of the undercard action in sections prior, so let’s cover the ones we have yet to give love to.
Devin Clark and William Knight will collide in a Heavyweight brawl in what will be the featured bout of the “Prelims” undercard. Knight is hoping to bounce back after his two-fight win streak came to an end after losing to Maxim Grishin at UFC 271. As for Clark, he is currently on a two-fight losing streak.
It’s been more than one year since Drakkar Klose last competed, sitting on the sidelines as a result of injuries he suffered after he was pushed hard by Jeremy Stephens during their weigh-in staredown in April 2021. Facing surgery down the road, Klose hopes to bounce back into the win column when he battles Brandon Jenkins, a late replacement. Jenkins is also coming off a loss after he was knocked out by Zhu Rong seven months ago. As for Klose, he was last seen in action at UFC 248 two years ago, losing to Beneil Dariush via first round knockout.
In Lightweight action, Rafa Garcia will battle Jesse Ronson, while Pannie Kianzad will face off against Lina Lansberg, who hasn’t competed in more than two years, losing to Sara McMann in Jan. 2020. Kicking off the card will be a Bantamweight scrap between Kevin Croom and Heili Alateng. Croom is currently on a two-fight losing streak and has yet to pick up a win inside the Octagon in three tries. As for Alateng, he is 0-1-1 in his last two fights after starting off his UFC career with two straight wins. They have a way to go before they start sniffing the Top 15, so a win is big for either man here, for other obvious reasons.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Currently on a three-fight losing streak, Sam Hughes needs a win in the worst way if she wants to keep her spot on UFC’s roster. Hughes has yet to pick up a win inside the Octagon as she gears up to face Istela Nunes, who hasn’t won a fight under the UFC umbrella, either. In her first fight for the promotion, Nunes came up short against Ariane Carnelossi. In fact, one could say Nunes needs a win here, too, if she wants to remain a UFC fighter.
Interest Level: 5/10
Lets face it, it’s not the most stacked card. While it’s to be expected from “Fight Night” events, this one falls extremely short with name value and intriguing match ups. We’ve already discussed the main- and co-main events, so let’s take a look at the rest of the line up.
Miguel Baeza started off his MMA and UFC career on a tear, winning his first seven fights in the sport (six via stoppage) before racking up three straight stoppage wins inside the Octagon, including victories over Takashi Sato and Matt Brown. Over his last two fights, however, Baeza has fallen on hard times, losing two in a row to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Khaos Williams. He needs a win badly against Andre Fialho, who had his four-fight win streak snapped in his UFC debut by Michel Perreira.
In women’s Bantamweight action, Mayra Bueno Silva will face off against Yanan Wu. Silva is coming off a loss to Manon Fiorot, while Wu is winless (0-2) in her last two fights inside the Octagon. A win is of the utmost importance for both ladies to prevent digging themselves a deeper hole.
In men’s Featherweight action, Pat Sabatini will attempt to go for his sixth straight win, fourth inside the Octagon, when he takes on T.J. Laramie, who came up short in his Octagon debut against Darrick Minner. Prior to the loss, Laramie was on a four-fight win streak. Both men are promising prospects, and showing out here will be huge for their stock moving forward.
UFC Vegas 51 Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
170 lbs.: Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad
UFC Vegas 51 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (8:30 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Caio Borralho vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev
170 lbs.: Miguel Baeza vs. Andre Fialho
135 lbs.: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Yanan Wu
145 lbs.: Pat Sabatini vs. T.J. Laramie
170 lbs.: Mounir Lazzez vs. Ange Loosa (not Elizeu dos Santos)
UFC Vegas 51 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (5:30 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. William Knight
135 lbs.: Pannie Kianzad vs. Lina Lansberg
155 lbs.: Brandon Jenkins vs. Drakkar Klose
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Jesse Ronson
265 lbs.: Chris Barnett vs. Martin Buday
155 lbs.: Jordan Leavitt vs. Trey Ogden
115 lbs.: Sam Hughes vs. Istela Nunes
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Kevin Croom
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
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.