The ultra-competitive Bantamweight division offers yet another quality match up this Saturday evening (April 30, 2022) when Rob Font attempts to rebound from defeat against the ever-dangerous Marlon Vera in UFC Vegas 53’s main event. Also on tap inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, are a Heavyweight tussle pitting Jake Collier against Andrei Arlovski and a battle of Lightweight grappling aces between Jared Gordon and Grant Dawson.
Before all that, though, we’ve got three more “Prelims” undercard bouts to be examined (check out the first batch here). No sense wasting time ...
125 lbs.: Daniel Lacerda vs. Francisco Figueiredo
Three months after knocking out Rodrigo Sarafian under the Shooto banner, Daniel Lacerda (11-2) entered the Octagon to face Jeff Molina. Despite a quick start, he ultimately succumbed to Molina’s power early in the second for the first non-injury loss of his career.
All of his wins have come inside of two rounds, six of them by submission.
Francisco Figueiredo (12-4-1) wasn’t as destructive as his brother in his Octagon debut, but he nonetheless emerged victorious with a decision over Contender Series graduate, Jerome Rivera. Then came Malcolm Gordon, who survived a rough start to out-last Figueiredo and claim a unanimous decision.
He gives up an inch of reach to “Miojo.”
The million-dollar question here is whether Lacerda learned from the Molina debacle. He’s a lot faster than Figueiredo and a much better finisher — even his lingering cardio concerns are offset by the fact that Figueiredo can’t land more than 30 significant strikes per fight without gassing. If he plays it smart, leans on his kicks and ignores the urge to go all-in on low-percentage submissions, he’s got what it takes to piece up the elder Brazilian.
Even if the maturity isn’t there for Lacerda, “The Sniper’s” poor gas tank and complete lack of dynamism make it hard to have any faith in the lesser Figueiredo. In the end, Lacerda out-works him to his first-ever decision win.
Prediction: Lacerda via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Gabe Green vs. Yohan Lainesse
Gabe Green (10-3) rode a six-fight win streak into his late-notice Octagon debut, which saw him drop a decision to Daniel Rodriguez in which the pair landed more than 300 combined significant strikes. “Gifted” was a bit more successful against Philip Rowe, battering “The Fresh Prince’s” lead leg en route to his first-ever decision victory.
This marks his first appearance in 14 months.
After starting his professional career in Quebec’s venerable TKO promotion, Yohan Lainesse (8-0) took his talents to CFFC, ultimately winning their Welterweight title with a July 2021 technical knockout of Evan Cutts. This earned him a spot on Contender Series, where he wiped out Justin Berlinson in 97 seconds to claim a UFC contract.
All six of his professional finishes have come via knockout.
This has the potential to be the most entertaining fight on the “Prelims,” and it’s also the fun sort of match up where each fighter has the tools to exploit the other’s shortcomings. Lainesse is the more technically sound striker of the two and the superior wrestler, but tends to lose steam after the first round, giving the ultra-persistent Green a real shot at victory if he can survive the early going.
It seems clear that Lainesse will win the first round comfortably. The question is whether his takedown game can keep him in the lead against someone this active and difficult to finish once the athleticism starts to peter out. Regardless, I’ve got Green by a hair. As long as he stays active with the leg kicks and doesn’t hand Lainesse takedowns on a silver platter, he should do just enough to edge out the latter two rounds.
Prediction: Green via split decision
155 lbs.: Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden
Natan Levy (6-1) followed a perfect (5-0) LFA run by choking out Shaheen Santana on Contender Series to earn a UFC contract. Injury kept him out of action for the following year, after which he dropped a narrow decision to Rafa Garcia in his Octagon debut.
He is the shorter man by an inch but sports a two-inch reach advantage.
Mike Breeden (10-4) fell short in a Contender Series bid against Anthony Romero, only to win his next two and step up on short notice to meet Anthony Hernandez in the Octagon. It wasn’t the triumphant debut he wanted, though, suffering a knockout loss just 80 seconds into the first round.
“Money” has scored eight knockouts as a professional.
Though he may have gotten utterly pasted by Hernandez in his Octagon debut, Breeden still represents a good test for Levy. Levy’s fight with Garcia showed that he’s still vulnerable to getting tagged when opponents get past his preferred kicking distance and Breeden’s excellent takedown defense figures to give him some issues if Levy tries to lean on his wrestling.
Still, Breeden’s lack of offensive wrestling should allow Levy to use his kicks more than he did against Garcia. Seeing as Romero demolished Breeden’s lead leg, that gives Levy a clear path to victory. So long as Levy can keep his back off the cage and avoid mixing it up in the pocket, he potshots his way to victory.
Prediction: Levy via unanimous decision
Does a brilliantly matched main event make up for an overall uneven roster? That’s for you to decide. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 61-27
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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