Two of the women’s Strawweight division’s most destructive knockout artists square off this Saturday (April 23, 2022) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Amanda Lemos and Jessica Andrade headline UFC Vegas 52. The ESPN+-streamed card also features a Lightweight crossroads bout between Clay Guida and Claudio Puelles, as well as a clash between rising Heavyweight Alexander Romanov and veteran spoiler Tanner Boser.
UFC Vegas 52 features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around, all of which join the main card on ESPN+. Let’s get cracking on that first batch ...
205 lbs.: Tyson Pedro vs. Ike Villanueva
Tyson Pedro (7-3) burst onto the UFC scene with dominant first round finishes of Khalil Rountree and Paul Craig in his first two Octagon bouts. Subsequent sailing proved less smooth, dropping three of his next four and suffering two stoppages along the way.
He fights for the first time in more than three years because of injury.
Ike Villanueva (18-13) punched his ticket to the Octagon by scoring four consecutive first round knockouts, including finishes of UFC veterans Roger Narvaez and Rashad Coulter. He’s since struggled to find his footing in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, entering this Saturday’s bout with knockout losses in four of his last five fights.
All but three of his professional victories have come via (technical) knockout.
Pedro may have hit his ceiling a lot earlier than we anticipated, but said ceiling is still a damn sight higher than Villanueva’s. “Hurricane’s” only UFC victory came over the hilariously inept Vinicius Moreira, and even then he took longer to fell “Mamute” than any of the Brazilian’s other three UFC conquerors. Whether on the ground or the feet, the Pedro of 2018 figures to have an easy time of it.
There’s obviously the question of whether that Pedro still exists after multiple knee surgeries and three years on the sidelines, but I’m not sure there’s any amount of rust that could drop him below Villanueva’s level. I short, Pedro returns to the win column via quick mauling.
Prediction: Pedro via first round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Aoriqileng vs. Cameron Else
Aoriqileng (18-9) put together a career-long, six-fight win streak to land a spot in UFC. Though he’s yet to taste victory since, he did take home “Fight of the Night” for his debut slugfest with Jeff Molina.
“The Mongolian Murderer” gives up two inches of height and reach to “Camchida.”
Cameron Else (10-5) — who owns a 2013 submission win over Paddy Pimblett — rode six consecutive first-round finishes into UFC. Debut foe Kyler Phillips proved a tougher nut to crack, knocking out Else with elbows early in the second.
This marks his first appearance in 18 months.
If Aoriqileng was ever going to beat someone in the Octagon, it’s Else. “Camchida” hasn’t beaten a competent foe since the aforementioned Pimblett and is nowhere near as adept a striker as his moniker would suggest. Indeed, Aoriqileng’s usual death march approach should work wonders here, and he’s got a decent wrestling game to back it up.
Else’s best chances are to either keep his relentless foe at range for the full 15 minutes or bully him into a panic shot so Else can use his front choke series. Neither seems likelier than Aoriqileng walking him down and battering him with power punches until the referee on duty intervenes.
Prediction: Aoriqileng via second round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Marcin Prachnio vs. Philipe Lins
Three consecutive first-round knockout losses left Marcin Prachnio’s (15-5) UFC career teetering on the brink. He came up clutch, however, beating both Khalil Rountree and Ike Villanueva while picking up a post-fight bonus along the way.
He has knocked out 11 professional opponents and submitted one other.
Though his Bellator run ended poorly, Philipe Lins (14-5) enjoyed plenty of success in the PFL cage en route to the Octagon. The same can’t be said about his time in UFC proper, as “Monstro” has dropped consecutive bouts to Andrei Arlovski and Tanner Boser.
This will be his first fight in nearly two years, as six separate match ups fell through in the interim.
This is a deeply unfriendly match up for would-be prognosticators. Beyond Lins’ layoff and the fact that he’s making his first cut to 205 pounds — which I still say is a terrible idea — both men are incredibly fragile — a stray shot could end things at just about any moment.
Even with all the intangibles working against him, I think I have to take Lins. Outside of Magomed Ankalaev, Prachnio’s UFC defeats came against far lesser opposition than “Monstro’s,” and the Pole got badly hurt even in his wins. I’ll risk the foot in my mouth and say Lins clips him with a punch early on.
Prediction: Lins via first round technical knockout
170 lbs.: Dean Barry vs. Mike Jackson
Undaunted by a shock upset loss to Anthony Taylor, Dean Barry (4-1) rattled off a pair of quick finishes to earn a shot in the Octagon. When initial debut plans fell through, “The Sniper” stayed busy in Dec. 2021 with a 21-second wipeout under the Titan FC banner.
All four of his wins have come by first round knockout.
Mike Jackson’s (0-1) audition to welcome C.M. Punk to the Octagon ended in 45 seconds courtesy of a Mickey Gall rear-naked choke. “The Truth” did eventually get his chance to face Punk, but though he emerged victorious via unanimous decision, a failed drug test struck the win from the record.
This marks his first appearance in nearly four years.
Jackson is an excellent photographer. He is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a UFC-worthy fighter. Barry has his fair share of issues — namely a seriously underdeveloped ground game — but Jackson isn’t equipped to exploit any of them.
All “The Truth” has is an okay striking game, and Barry’s blows his out of the water. It’s hard to picture any outcome other than Barry torching him in the first few minutes.
Prediction: Barry via first round technical knockout
Three more UFC Vegas 52 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a Catchweight slugfest between Jordan Wright and Marc-Andre Barriault. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 52 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 52: “Lemos vs. Andrade” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.