UFC’s residency in Las Vegas, Nevada, continues inside its APEX facility this Saturday (Sept. 17, 2022) when Cory Sandhagen faces Song Yadong in a pivotal Bantamweight battle. The latest ESPN+-streamed offering will also feature a potentially dynamite Middleweight battle between Chidi Njokuani and Gregory Rodrigues, as well as a Heavyweight tussle pitting Tanner Boser against Rodrigo Nascimento.
UFC Vegas 60 features a hefty nine “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, five of which we’ve dissected for you below. Shall we?
115 lbs.: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Denise Gomes
Loma Lookboonmee (6-3) bounced back from a decision loss to Angela Hill with consecutive victories over Jinh Yu Frey and Sam Hughes. Her fifth UFC bout initially pitted her against Cheyanne Vlismas, but late replacement Lupita Godinez stepped in and out-wrestled Lookboonmee for a unanimous decision win.
She gives up one inch each of height and reach to Denise Gomes (6-1).
More than three years after an unsuccessful professional debut, Gomes returned to the cage and racked up four knockouts in her first five wins. She couldn’t put away Contender Series foe, Rayanne Amanda, inside the distance, but still impressed enough to punch her ticket to the Octagon.
She replaces Diana Belbita on less than two weeks’ notice.
This will be a test of Lookboonmee’s ability to execute under pressure. She’s the superior overall striking technician, especially when it comes to defense, and her top game is sufficient to let her control entire rounds if she can find her usual trips away from the fence. The counterpoint is Gomes’ raw aggression and power, which combine with an impressive gas tank to let her pressure from bell to bell.
If Lookboonmee gets caught up in a slugfest, Gomes will land the more damaging and eye-catching strikes. If she gets lazy in the clinch, Gomes will tear up her body with knees. That said, Lookboonmee’s craft and versatility should be sufficient to land quality counters, disrupt Gomes’ offense with takedowns, and ultimately walk away with the win.
Prediction: Lookboonmee via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Trey Ogden vs. Daniel Zellhuber
Trey Ogden (15-5) claimed both the Fury FC Lightweight title and a UFC contract by choking out J.J. Okanovich on Lookin’ For a Fight. This set up a UFC debut against Jordan Leavitt, who out-worked the Glory MMA product to earn a split decision victory.
He’s ended 11 professional fights inside the distance, 11 of them by submission.
Less than six years after debuting at age 17, Daniel Zellhuber (12-0) claimed a spot on Contender Series opposite Lucas Almieda. Though he had to weather some early damage, he took over down the stretch to secure a unanimous decision and spot in the Octagon.
He’ll have two inches of height and nearly half a foot of reach on Ogden.
There have been weirder UFC debuts, more one-sided UFC debuts, and more disappointing UFC debuts, but Ogden’s fight with Leavitt still sticks out in my mind. It was downright surreal to watch him stand there and let Leavitt kick him in the legs more than 50 times without so much as an attempted counter. While Zellhuber obviously isn’t the grappling threat “The Monkey King” is, it sure looks like Ogden will have a hell of a time trying to get through Zellhuber’s quick feet and crushing kicks.
As long as they’re on their feet, Zellhuber is going to run circles around Ogden, tearing up his legs and midsection as he goes. Ogden needs to score regular takedowns to win, and between Zellhuber’s length, footwork, cardio and defensive grappling skill, that’s going to be difficult from the get-go and get harder as the fight progresses. In the end, Zellhuber hobbles him with low kicks and puts him away late.
Prediction: Zellhuber via third round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Mariya Agapova (10-3) vs. Gillian Robertson (10-7)
A meteoric UFC rise gave way to an equally dramatic fall when Mariya Agapova (10-3) suffered one of the biggest numerical upsets in UFC history at the hands of Shana Dobson. She got back on track by choking out Sabina Mazo one year later, but couldn’t do the same to Maryna Moroz in March 2022.
She boasts a one-inch height advantage and 5.5-inch reach advantage over “The Savage.”
An unimpressive The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 26 run didn’t stop Robertson from putting together a 6-2 UFC start, five of those via stoppage. She’s since lost three of four, including a decision defeat to J.J. Aldrich in March 2022.
Seven of her eight professional stoppages have come via submission.
It’s become clear that Robertson’s one-note grappling attack just doesn’t hold up at higher levels. Struggling with powerhouses like Taila Santos and Miranda Maverick is one thing, but she really should have been able to find more wrestling success against Aldrich. The lack of development in her stand up and her weird reticence to consistently shoot takedowns seem destined to keep her from ever being a true contender.
She should have enough to get past Agapova, though. The latter’s loss to Moroz showed that the grappling issues that cost her on Contender Series and against Dobson have yet to be addressed, so while she’ll have little issue battering Robertson on the feet, keeping it there will be a problem. In short, Robertson lands her signature rear-naked choke sometime in the second.
Prediction: Robertson via second round submission
135 lbs.: Tony Gravely vs. Javid Basharat
Contender Series graduate, Tony Gravely (23-7), opened his UFC career 2-2, wins over Geraldo de Freitas and Anthony Birchak sandwiched between stoppage losses to Brett Johns and Nathan Maness. He enters the cage this Saturday in the midst of a two-fight win streak that saw him crush Johnny Muniz Jr. in 68 seconds last time out.
He is the shorter man by four inches.
Javid Basharat (12-0) successfully pleaded his case for a UFC contract with a dominant finish of Oron Kahlon on Contender Series in Oct. 2021. His Octagon debut 4.5 months later pitted him against Trevin Jones, whom Basharat out-worked in entertaining fashion for his first decision victory.
His 11 professional finishes are split 6/5 between submissions and knockouts.
While Basharat is unquestionably a top-notch prospect, this seems like too much, too soon. Between his excellent wrestling pedigree and powerful hands, Gravely is one of the more underrated Bantamweights, one with much more experience against UFC-caliber competition. He’s without question the strongest takedown artist Basharat has ever faced, and Jones’ moments of success on the front foot suggest that Gravely will also be able to get his hands on Basharat.
If “The Snow Leopard” can make his usual movement-heavy, pot-shotting style work against someone of Gravely’s caliber, he’s ready to be fast-tracked into contention. As of now, though, I like Gravely’s wrestling to shut down Basharat’s flow and secure a decision win.
Prediction: Gravely via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Nikolas Motta vs. Cameron VanCamp
Nikolas Motta (12-4) followed his CFFC-title-winning decision over Juan Gonzalez by overpowering Joseph Lowry on Contender Series. Various misfortunes delayed his UFC debut until Feb. 2022, suffering a knockout loss to Jim Miller inside the APEX.
He faces a five-inch height disadvantage and a four-inch reach disadvantage.
A 7-1 (1 NC) run marred only by a loss to UFC and Strikeforce veteran Bobby Voelker carried Cameron VanCamp (15-6-1) to the Octagon in 2021. After a planned debut against Motta fell through, VanCamp took on Andre Fialho, who slept him with a left hook midway through the first round.
Nine of his 13 stoppage wins have come by submission.
The question here is where Motta’s head is at. His counter-bully style demands a lot of confidence and mindfulness, and if he’s rattled by that knockout loss to Miller or the fact that Miller was winning the stand up even before the finish, he could have a lot of issues with VanCamp’s wonky stand up.
Seeing as Motta’s been knocked out before, though, I think he knows how to bounce back. That’s not great news for VanCamp, especially since Motta is sharp enough and hits hard enough to exploit the same defensive liabilities that Fialho did. Assuming he’s firing on at least most of his cylinders, Motta chins VanCamp with a counter in the first few minutes.
Prediction: Motta via first round technical knockout
Four more UFC Vegas 60 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict, including a super intriguing clash of Featherweight submission aces. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 60 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+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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