Destructive champions meet fearsome challengers inside Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., this Saturday (May 7, 2022) when Charles Oliveira and Rose Namajunas defend their respective titles against Justin Gaethje and Carlos Esparza. UFC 274 will also see Michael Chandler trade hands with Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone take on Joe Lauzon in a clash of Lightweight veterans.
UFC 274 features four “Prelims” bouts on ESPN that set the stage for the pay-per-view (PPV) main card (check out the ESPN+ portion here). Shall we have a look?
170 lbs.: Randy Brown vs. Khaos Williams
Lookin’ for a Fight graduate, Randy Brown (14-4), started his UFC career 3-1 before a 1-2 skid saw him fall to Belal Muhammad and Niko Price. He’s since won four of five, three of them inside the distance.
He stands three inches taller than Khaos Williams (13-2) and sports a one-inch reach advantage.
“The Oxfighter” dispatched Alex Morono and Abdul Razak Alhassan in a combined 57 seconds to announce his arrival in UFC’s Welterweight division. Though he came up short against Michel Pereira, he got back on track by beating fellow finishers Matt Semelsberger and Miguel Baeza.
Six of his eight professional finishes have come via knockout.
I’m leaning toward Brown in this battle of fighters I regularly underestimate. “Rude Boy” has developed into fine striker over the years, one who hypothetically has the composure to avoid getting caught up in Williams’ brutal flurries. He’s also shown the ability to match Williams’ output, and the sort of brutal shots it’s taken to put him away in the past suggest he can survive even if Williams manages to clip him from time to time.
We’ve seen Williams short-circuit enough opponents to know that he can end a fight in an instant even when compromised, so Brown will be walking a tightrope the whole time. After a dozen UFC appearances, though, I think he’s got the experience to do so. In the end, he potshots his way to a competitive win.
Prediction: Brown via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Macy Chiasson vs. Norma Dumont
Macy Chiasson (8-2) followed her dominant run in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 house by winning four of her first five in the Octagon. Then came a late-notice fight with Raquel Pennington, which saw Chiasson miss the Featherweight limit before tapping to a second round guillotine choke.
Her professional finishes are split 4/2 between knockouts and submissions.
Norma Dumont (7-1) got a rough welcome to the Octagon courtesy of Megan Anderson, who knocked her out less than four minutes into her debut. She enters the cage this Saturday in the midst of a three-fight win streak, including a main event victory over Aspen Ladd last time out.
“The Immortal” stands four inches shorter than Chiasson and gives up five inches of reach.
Chiasson’s definitely got some things going for her in this match up: greater stopping power, more variety in her stand up, and a more effective ground game. Unfortunately for her, Dumont seems to have exactly what she needs to come out on top anyway: the careful, effective boxing to exploit Chiasson’s poor striking defense the way Pennington did. She can win this fight behind her jab, especially since Chiasson ostensibly won’t have the size advantage she enjoyed at 135 pounds.
If Chiasson can reach even half of her ostensibly potential, she can out-slug Dumont to victory. Considering her historical inability to do so, however, expect Dumont to edge out a boxing match.
Prediction: Dumont via split decision
125 lbs.: Brandon Royval vs. Matt Schnell
Brandon Royval (13-6) started his UFC career with submission wins over Tim Elliott and Kai Kara-France, both of which earned him “Fight of the Night” bonuses. He proceeded to suffer stoppage losses to Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja, but returned to the win column by edging out Rogerio Bontorin in his most recent effort.
That decision win was just his second as a professional, scoring eight submissions and three knockouts.
Matt Schnell (15-5) put a winless (0-2) UFC start behind him to win his next four, including a bonus-winning, 83-second submission of Jordan Espinosa. “Danger” now sits at 1-2, a win over Tyson Nam sandwiched between losses to Pantoja and Bontorin.
This marks his first fight in nearly one year, as three different planned meetings with Alex Perez fell through.
While Perez was likely the more toxic match up for Schnell, Royval figures to present his fair share of problems. Royval’s struggles have come against overpowering takedown artists. Indeed, he excels in the same sort of scrambles Schnell does, and he’s got the submission offense and defense to avoid getting caught on the mat.
More critically, his wild striking offense seems well-equipped to crack Schnell’s historically shaky chin. Without the smothering wrestling to keep Royval honest, expect Schnell to get clipped and overwhelmed early.
Prediction: Royval via first round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-8-1) kicked off his UFC Heavyweight run with a 2-2 stretch, continuing a streak of alternating wins and losses that began in 2015. “Pezao” has since snapped that streak by cruising past Maurice Green and destroying Ben Rothwell in quick succession.
His 17 pro finishes include 14 by knockout.
Blagoy Ivanov (18-4) rebounded from a UFC debut loss to Junior dos Santos by scoring decisions over Ben Rothwell and Derrick Lewis. He now finds himself winless since 2019, proceeding to drop consecutive decisions to Derrick Lewis and Augusto Sakai.
He gives up two inches of height and reach.
He may be older and larger than before, but I think Rogerio de Lima is the same old “Pezao” underneath it all: ungodly powerful, possessed of surprisingly decent offensive wrestling, and completely helpless off of his back. He needs an early finish to avoid Ivanov’s grinding top game, and I just don’t see that happening. Ivanov’s exclusively fought power punchers since joining the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion and none of them have managed to drop or visibly hurt him.
That’s not to say Rogerio de Lima can’t be the first, of course. Rothwell hadn’t been stopped with strikes in more than one decade and he got demolished in seconds. Still, I like Ivanov to survive the early blitz, tie up and ruin the Brazilian’s day on the mat.
Prediction: Ivanov via second round submission
UFC 274 features two great title fights and a bevy of tussles seemingly guaranteed to end in violence make for a worthy PPV. Hope you’ll join us for it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 64-29
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 274 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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