Bantamweight finisher Rob Font makes his third consecutive main event appearance this Saturday evening (April 30, 2022) when he takes on all-action Marlon Vera inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 53 will also see Jake Collier look to finally halt the heretofore unstoppable resurgence of Andrei Arlovski and Andre Fili take on Joanderson Brito in what could be an absolute banger.
Before all that, though, we’ve got a half-dozen “Prelims” undercard bouts to get through. Let’s take a gander at the first batch:
125 lbs.: Shanna Young vs. Gina Mazany
Though her Contender Series bid didn’t pan out, Shanna Young (7-4) got her Octagon opportunity by stepping up on short notice to face Macy Chiasson, who grinded out a unanimous decision in Feb. 2020. She was similarly unsuccessful against Stephanie Egger almost 20 months later, falling via ground-and-pound midway through the second stanza.
She stands one inch taller than Mazany, but gives up almost four inches of reach.
After washing out of UFC thanks to a 1-3 start and falling to Julia Avila just 22 seconds into her Octagon return, Gina Mazany (7-5) returned to the win column by pounding out Rachael Ostovich at the APEX. She then took on Priscila Cachoeira, dominating early but running out of steam on her way to a second round technical knockout loss.
“Danger” has knocked out four pro foes and submitted one other.
Even acknowledging that Mazany’s early UFC defeats came against very capable opposition, there’s no excuse for her performance against Cachoeira. She folded at the first sign of adversity and gassed out despite being in total control from top position. That said, Young’s history of issues on the mat bodes ill for her, especially considering the way she waltzed right into the clinch against a decorated judoka in Egger.
Young’s less of a layup than Cachoeira in the sense that she has actual stand up skills, but she also lacks the Brazilian’s relentlessness and stopping power. Without those tools to keep Mazany honest, there’s not much stopping “Danger” from powering her way into the clinch, dragging Young to the mat, taking dominant position, and dropping punches until the referee intervenes.
Prediction: Mazany via first round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario
Japan’s Tatsuro Taira (10-0) made his amateur debut at 16 years old, racking up a perfect (9-0) record in the unpaid ranks before turning professional in 2018. He’s been similarly successful there, amassing seven first-round finishes among his victories.
His professional stoppage wins are split 5/3 between submissions and knockouts.
Carlos Candelario’s (8-1) victory on Contender Series gave way to a four-year layoff, which he ended in Aug. 2021 with a decision over Miguel Restrepo. Less than four weeks later, he returned to Contender Series, where he lost a borderline robbery decision to Victor Altamirano.
He stands one inch taller than Taira at 5’8.”
At the time of writing, Taira is the second-biggest favorite on the card behind Alexander Romanov. I’m not sure I agree. That’s because while the 22-year-old is clearly extremely promising, Candelario’s technically sound, well-rounded game could turn him into an unexpected speed bump. Taira has been a little too passive in the past, meaning Candelario has a real shot at outworking him on the feet and potentially burning clock from guard if he decides to risk ground engagements.
Still, Candelario’s left enough openings in past grappling exchanges that it’s easier to picture Taira latching onto his back at some point and closing the show from there. In the end, Taira skips past a potential minefield with an early finish.
Prediction: Taira via first round submission
265 lbs.: Alexander Romanov vs. Chase Sherman
Alexander Romanov (15-0) mauled his way to dominant finishes in his first two UFC appearances before narrowly escaping Juan Espino via split decision. “King Kong” returned to his finishing ways six months later with a two-round beatdown of Jared Vanderaa at the APEX.
His 14 professional finishes include nine by submission.
Nearly two years after first washing out of the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, Chase Sherman (15-9) announced his return by battering Ike Villanueva into submission. He has since lost three straight, most recently tapping to a Jake Collier rear-naked choke in January.
“The Vanilla Gorilla” replaced Tanner Boser on short notice last weekend, only to withdraw because of an undisclosed medical issue on fight night.
The raw version of Romanov that first entered the Octagon in 2020 would have been more than sufficient to overpower Sherman with little resistance. Now consider what the fitter, more technically sound version of recent times will do to him.
The only weapon of Sherman’s that poses any sort of threat is his low kick, which he can’t stay standing long enough to actually utilize. He has decent punching power, sure, but the same issue applies. In short, Romanov takes him down and either chokes or pounds him out at his discretion.
Prediction: Romanov via first round submission
Three more UFC Vegas 53 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the debut of an undefeated Welterweight knockout artist. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 53 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN2/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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