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UFC San Diego predictions: Early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Vera vs. Cruz

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN/ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., Aug. 13, 2022) when UFC San Diego: “Vera vs. Cruz” storms Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California. MMAmania.com’s Andrew Richardson kicks off the UFC San Diego “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

UFC Fight Night: Krylov v Gustafsson Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

One of the Bantamweight division’s most violent men takes on one of its elder statesmen in San Diego, Calif., this Saturday (Aug. 13, 2022) when Marlon Vera takes on the incomparable Dominick Cruz inside Pechanga Arena. Also on tap for UFC San Diego’s main card is a dollop of Featherweight mayhem pitting Nate Landwehr against David Onama, as well a clash of top Strawweight prospects in Yazmin Jauregui and Iasmin Lucindo.

UFC San Diego features seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, bolstered by the late-notice addition of two canceled fights from UFC Vegas 59 last Saturday. We’ve got four of them prepared for your perusal below ...

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 61 On ESPN+

STRAWWEIGHT SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Oct. 1, 2022, with an exciting women’s sStrawweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5-ranked Mackenzie Dern clash with No. 6-seeded Yan Xiaonan. In UFC Vegas 61’s action-packed co-main event, exciting Welterweight veterans Randy Brown and Francisco Trinaldo will hook ‘em up inside the Octagon.

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

125 lbs.: Ode Osbourne vs. Tyson Nam

Ode Osbourne (11-4) went from scoring a first-round armbar on Contender Series to suffering a first round submission in his UFC debut opposite Brian Kelleher. “The Jamaican Sensation” has gone onto win three of four, including a bonus-winning, 61-second knockout of Zarrukh Adashev in June 2022.

His nine professional finishes are split 5/4 between submission and knockouts.

The Octagon run for Tyson Nam (20-12-1) began with consecutive losses to Sergio Pettis and Kai Kara-France, only to segue into a pair of vicious knockouts over Zarrukh Adashev and Jerome Rivera. This set up a clash with fellow contender Matt Schnell, who out-worked Nam to a split decision victory.

He fights for the first time in nearly 19 months.

We’re 16 years into Nam’s professional career and he’s as binary as ever. Indeed, either he scores a knockout or he lets opponents out-work him to decision wins. He’s made just two successful trips to the judges in the last decade and still refuses to increase his volume. That’s more than a slight problem against the rangy, elusive Osbourne, who’s both far younger than Nam and boasts a five-inch reach advantage. All signs point to Osbourne staying mobile and picking his shots to cruise to victory.

Nam’s power is admittedly always a threat, and his stout takedown defense should take Osbourne’s wrestling off the table. I just can’t trust him not to let another fight slip away, especially after he failed to put down the historically fragile Schnell. In the end, Osbourne potshots to a comfortable decision.

Prediction: Osbourne via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Youssef Zalal vs. Da’Mon Blackshear

After a highlight-reel flying knee finish under the LFA banner, Youssef Zalal (10-5) burst onto UFC’s scene with three victories in the span of six months. The momentum wasn’t to last, and he’ll look to end a three-fight losing streak come Saturday.

The bout ends a 14-month layoff.

After previously failing to claim regional gold against Pat Sabatini and Danny Sabatello, Da’Mon Blackshear (12-4) claimed the CFFC Bantamweight title with an upset submission finish of unbeaten DeAndre Jordan. Six months later, he successfully defended his new hardware by choking out Josh Smith.

He replaces Cristian Quinonez, who ran into visa issues, on less than two weeks’ notice.

With the benefit of hindsight, it becomes clear that Zalal’s early success came in large part because of limited opposition. Only one of his three victims remains on UFC’s roster, and while there is zero shame in losing to a monster like Ilia Topuria, he looked downright pedestrian against Seung Woo Choi and Sean Woodson.

Even if he’s nowhere near what we thought he was, though, this is very winnable. Blackshear has struggled badly with persistent takedown artists in the past and is middling on the feet, giving Zalal various avenues to victory. If the drop in weight doesn’t fry Zalal, he returns to the win column with a grinding performance.

Prediction: Zalal via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira

Ariane Lipski (14-7) brought the KSW Flyweight title into the Octagon, only to drop four of her first six in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. She got back on track in Sept. 2021, dropping newcomer Mandy Bohm twice en route to a decision victory.

She was slated to face “Zombie Girl” at UFC Vegas 59 last weekend, but was forced out after missing weight and being declared medically unfit to compete.

Priscila Cachoeira (11-4) stumbled her way to a winless (0-3) UFC start, most notably suffering a brutal stoppage loss to Valentina Shevchenko in her promotional debut. Undaunted, she went on to win three of her next four, though her recent decision over Ji Yeon Kim is considered one of the year’s bigger robberies.

All six of her stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

If both women enter the Octagon at their best, Lipski demolishes Cachoeira. That’s because Cachoeira’s usual approach of absorbing triple-digit significant strikes is a death sentence against a puncher as fast and powerful as the “Queen of Violence,” who’s got the gas tank to avoid a rope-a-dope comeback. Plus, she can always make it easier on herself by just taking down Cachoeira if things get hairy.

The concern is that Lipski reportedly struggled with COVID throughout camp and badly flubbed her weight cut just a few days ago. That sounds like an issue that can’t be resolved in a week’s time, even with a more generous weight allowance. Still, there’s too much going Lipski’s way for me to change my pick. In short, she brutalizes Cachoeira early.

Prediction: Lipski via first round technical knockout

170 lbs.: Jason Witt vs. Josh Quinlan

These two were supposed to fight last weekend before Quinlan failed a drug test, so I might as well re-use what I already wrote ...

Jason Witt (19-8) scored the biggest win of his career with a “Fight of the Night”-winning decision over Bryan Barberena that upped the former’s UFC record to 2-2. Unfortunately, “The Vanilla Gorilla” got knocked right back under .500 soon after, falling to a lengthy barrage of punches from Philip Rowe in Feb. 2022.

He faces two-inch height and reach disadvantages.

Wand Fight Team’s Josh Quinlan (5-0) put together a perfect amateur record (6-0) to earn a spot on Contender Series. There, he demolished Logan Urban in 47 seconds, only to see the win overturned because of a failed drug test.

He’s yet to see the judges as a professional, scoring three knockouts and two submissions.

I think we all know what to expect from Witt by now — he’s a genuinely solid wrestler and top control artist who disintegrates if you so much as breathe on him too hard. Quinlan’s power is more than sufficient to turn out Witt’s lights, and he’s got the Muay Thai prowess to deliver it accurately.

Any prolonged exchange on the feet will end with Witt unconscious.

Witt’s potential saving grace is that Quinlan doesn’t fight well off the back foot, meaning the former has a shot if he can establish his takedowns early and keep Quinlan from settling into a groove. Between Quinlan’s movement, cardio and ability to get off of his back, though, he’ll have plenty of time to work his striking and stop Witt in his tracks.

Prediction: Quinlan via first round knockout

Three more UFC San Diego “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a debuting Heavyweight out of Poland. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC San Diego fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC San Diego: “Vera vs. Cruz” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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