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X-Factor! Check out some UFC Vegas 56 main card predictions

UFC 265: Kowalkiewicz v Penne Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

This weekend (Sat., June 4, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will remain in Las Vegas, Nevada, and its Apex facility for UFC Vegas 56. We rebound from a rare off week with classic UFC Apex fare: a Heavyweight main event, fun and relevant co-main scrap, then good mix of prospects and relative unknowns underneath. Consider this weekend’s action an appetizer for UFC 275 around the corner, which has more of the marquee match ups and divisional implications.

There’s quite a few debuting athletes on the main card, so let’s take a closer look at these match ups:

LIVE! Stream UFC San Diego On ESPN+

PIVOTAL BANTAMWEIGHT CLASH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to San Diego, Calif., on Sat., Aug. 13, 2022, for the first time since 2015 with a pivotal battle between top-ranked Bantamweight contenders that will see No. 5-ranked Marlon Vera take on former champion and No. 8-seeded Dominick Cruz. In San Diego’s co-main event, Nate Landwehr and David Onama will collide in a Featherweight showdown between dynamic 145-pound hopefuls.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Featherweight: Michael Trizano vs. Lucas Almeida

Best Win for Trizano? Luis Pena For Almeida? Italo Trindade
Current Streak: Trizano came up short last time out, whereas Almeida debuts having won his last bout
X-Factor: Potential UFC jitters for Almeida
How these two match up: This should be a pretty fun Featherweight scrap.

Trizano is one of those well-rounded fighters who doesn’t necessarily standout in any one area. Nevertheless, he’s solid everywhere, tough and well-conditioned — all the necessary ingredients for a successful UFC fighter. Still, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champion has yet to really make his mark in a deep division.

Almeida came up short on Contenders Series, but picking up the Jungle Fight Lightweight strap earned him a contract anyway. The Brazilian has fought most of his career at 155 pounds, finishing a majority of his wins by both strikes and submission.

I’m not predicting a title run or anything, but I’ve always been impressed by Trizano’s quiet competence. He’s already outperformed expectations on a few occasions, and even when faced with genuinely top-tier competition like Hakeem Dawodu or Grant Dawson, he’s managed to make the fights competitive.

Trizano has a comparative wealth of UFC experience, and he’s fully comfortable at Featherweight. Though Almeida is the more dangerous finisher, I like Trizano to mix up his distance kickboxing and takedowns to earn the decision nod.

Prediction: Trizano via decision

Women’s Flyweight: Poliana Botelho vs. Karine Silva

Best Win for Botelho? Lauren Mueller For Silva? Qihui Yan
Current Streak: Botelho has lost two in a row, whereas Silva rides a five-fight win streak into her UFC debut
X-Factor: UFC jitters, part two!
How these two match up: Both women score more finishes than the average 125-pounder, so maybe this one ends before the bell?

Botelho is a physically gifted fighter who hits pretty damn hard with her fists and kicks alike. Her grappling defense has let her down a few times, however, particularly since she’s moved to 125 pounds. That’s an unfortunate flaw versus Silva, who wins a majority of her fights via tapout. “Killer” is a rather strong fighter herself, but she uses that physicality to force her foe to the canvas and wrangle up a limb.

This reads like a catastrophically bad match up for Botelho. She’s been out-wrestled several times already, and against Cynthia Calvillo in particular, she gave up her neck rather quickly. Silva has the strength and skill to get on top and capitalize in similar fashion.

Unless Botelho rips a liver kick early and sends her foe to the canvas, a successful debut for Silva seems rather likely.

Prediction: Silva via submission

Light Heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield vs. Askar Mozharov

Best Win for Menifield? Ed Herman For Mozharov? Konstantin Linnik
Current Streak: Menifield lost his last bout, while Mozharov has won three in a row
X-Factor: Both men have considerable knockout power (also UFC JITTERS PART THREE!)
How these two match up: Expect a first-round finish, absolute chaos ... or both!

Menifield is not the most technical man on the roster, but he hits damn hard! He’s won 10 out of 11 fights via stoppage, mostly via his fists. Still, Menifield has proven himself willing to wrestle a bit, though he sometimes has problems managing his gas tank.

Mozharov is the top-ranked Ukrainian Light Heavyweight outside of Nikita Krylov. Mozharov is an aggressive scrapper with 22 finishes on his record, though the level of competition varies wildly from fight-to-fight. “No Mercy” has also competed as a bareknuckle boxer.

From the footage I’ve seen on Mozharov, he’s wild and powerful, accustomed to blowing through opponents quickly. I’m not labeling Menifield some type of defensive mastermind, but he’s likely durable and tougher than a majority of the iffy records that fill up Mozharov’s resume. Given that Menifield has heavy hands himself, it may not be the typical easy victory for Mozharov.

At the same time, if Mozharov gasses in pursuit of the finish, well ... Menifield will probably be tired, too! Menifield hasn’t yet shown the skills necessary to really outlast an aggressive puncher and make him pay, so I’ll tentative side with the newcomer.

Prediction: Mozharov via knockout

Women’s Strawweight: Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz 2

Best Win for Herrig? For Kowalkiewicz?
Current Streak: Herrig has lost three in a row, and Kowalkiewicz has lost FIVE straight fights
X-Factor: The mental implications of all these consecutive losses are rough
How these two match up: These two first fought in 2018, and just four years ago, it was a much better fight.

Simply put, times have been tough for both ladies. Herrig lost two in a row, including the first Kowalkiewicz fight, before shredding her ACL. As a result of that injury, the 37-year-old veteran only fought once in the last three years, quickly getting submitted by Virna Jandiroba in her return to action.

Kowalkiewicz’s 2018 win over Herrig is her most recent victory, but the slide since has been far worse. The former title challenger hasn’t only been losing, she’s been getting destroyed and looking non-competitive. To be frank, it hasn’t seemed like Kowalkiewicz is mentally prepared to fight for quite some time.

Do I trust either fighter at the moment? No, not at all. However, getting submitted by a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert after a long layoff is at least pretty understandable. Neither woman may be winning fights at the moment, but at least Herrig still resembles a fighter actively trying to win most of the time.

Kowalkiewicz has looked ready to retire for a long time. Unless there’s been a dramatic mental shift for the Polish fighter, Herrig seems too tall a task in 2022.

Prediction: Herrig via decision

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2022: 28-14

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 56 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 56: “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.