This weekend (Sat., Sept. 17, 2022), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 60. It’s never great when an event loses its co-main event just a couple weeks out from the big night, but fortunately, UFC Vegas 60’s main card still looks like a lot of fun! The main event Bantamweight war between Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong is absolutely sure to deliver, and all the bouts leading up to that slugfest really seem to promise action.
Let’s take a closer look at these main card match ups:
185 lbs.: Chidi Njokuani vs. Gregory Rodrigues
Best Win for Njokuani? Marc-Andre Barriault For Rodrigues? Jun Yong Park
Current Streak: Njokuani has started his UFC career off with two huge knockout wins, whereas Rodrigues won his last bout
X-Factor: Njokuani is riding a serious surge of momentum
How these two match up: BANGFEST!
Njokuani entered UFC as a fully-formed product, highly experienced from well over a decade of fighting quality competition all around the world. As a result, he’s sparked his early opposition, showing off the Muay Thai talent he’s known for by quickly landing power shots and overwhelming his foes.
Rodrigues — a former LFA champion — has impressed to start his UFC career as well, building up a 3-1 record and reputation for exciting brawls. “Robocop” is a crisp striker with a solid jawline, and he’s very willing to make it ugly if that’s what victory requires.
Similar to his fight with Armen Petrosyan, Rodrigues faces a problem here. He’s fighting a rangier and more technical striker than himself, and one who statistically hits harder, too. Rodrigues’ typical gameplan of being the better striker isn’t going to be applied easily, meaning “Robocop” has to switch it up and lean more on brawling tactics and takedowns.
Against Petrosyan, Rodrigues waited too long to make that switch, and it cost him the up-in-the-air split-decision. The problem here is that Njokuani is more experienced than Petrosyan by a considerable margin, meaning that he’s like more prepared to handle clinch warfare and sudden level changes anyway.
Experience, reach, power — that’s a lot for Rodrigues to overcome in an already less than ideal style match up. I really like “Robocop,” and I trust him to absolutely go for it, but that still doesn’t seem like enough.
Prediction: Njokuani via decision
145 lbs.: Andre Fili vs. Bill Algeo
Best Win for Fili? Dennis Bermudez For Algeo? Herbert Burns
Current Streak: Fili lost his last bout, whereas Algeo has won two straight
X-Factor: Algeo is short-notice replacement after Lando Vannata pulled out
How these two match up: Similar to the match up above, I see no way in which this fight is boring.
Fili is a really slick striker, rangy and skilled at placing his shin upside his opponent’s neck. His “No Contest” with Daniel Pineda actually showed off the best striking form of his career prior to the eye poke, and “Touchy” has proven himself more than capable on the canvas in his nearly 10 years on UFC’s roster.
Algeo joined UFC as a short-notice replacement against Ricardo Lamas, immediately living up to his regional reputation as a very willing scrapper. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is quite skilled on the canvas, but he still ends up in striking battles more often than not.
That sounds like a bad fit against Fili.
Algeo genuinely has some nice Muay Thai himself, but he’s just nowhere near as big of a hitter as Fili. If he tries to play the distance game, Fili is going to kick him much harder, and trying to press Fili likely means walking into some major counter shots. Grappling is perhaps a better path to victory for “Señor Perfecto,” but he’s never really shown the wrestling necessary to get through Fili’s defenses.
Likely, the fight is competitive until Fili connects clean on a high kick or counter hook. Algeo has one heck of a chin, but even so, a few big exchanges can really change the tempo of a fight.
Prediction: Fili via decision
185 lbs.: Alen Amedovski vs. Joe Pyfer
Best Win for Amedovski? Ibrahim Mane For Pyfer? Ozzy Diaz
Current Streak: Amedovski has lost all three of his UFC appearances, whereas Pyfer debuts on two-fight win streak
X-Factor: Amedoverski’s back is very clearly to the wall
How these two match up: I’m not quite sure how Amedovski is still on the roster after three losses spread across four years, but that makes him a reasonable debut foe for an unproven Contenders Series product.
Macedonia’s Amedovski is all about power. His takedown defense and grappling on the whole aren’t great, but it is hard to argue with eight knockout wins in eight victories. Pyfer is known for his punching power as well, finishing all but one of his professional victories. He’s shown some crisp boxing and good patience — valuable skills for a young fighter with heavy hands.
This reads like it could be a trap fight for the well-regarded Pyfer. Amedovski has twice been out-wrestled inside the Octagon, but that’s not exactly Pyfer’s usual game plan. In the other loss, he got sparked by John Phillips. That’s a bad loss, but hell, “The Welsh Wrecking Machine” does hit like a truck, so it’s understandable. Pyfer is probably going to trade with Amedovski, and that’s a dangerous proposition regardless of the loss streak.
As such, this pick is as much about upside and trust than any technical striking breakdown. Pyfer is the better, younger athlete with more ways to win, and that is very often enough in MMA.
He just has to be careful of getting chinned in the first five minutes.
Prediction: Pyfer via knockout
265 lbs.: Tanner Boser vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Best Win for Boser? Ovince Saint Preux For Nascimento? Don’Tale Mayes
Current Streak: Boser won his last bout, whereas Nascimento’s most recent contest was a victory overturned due to a drug test failure
X-Factor: It’s been over a year since either man last fought
How these two match up: Striker vs. grappler at Heavyweight!
Boser is a cut above the average unranked Heavyweight. Alberta’s “Bulldozer” doesn’t actually run over his opponents terribly often. Instead, he makes solid use of foot work, feints, and low kicks to break his opponents down at range, then he lines up the big overhand right.
Nascimento is very much a grappler. His takedowns are not unstoppable, but when the Brazilian does drag his foe to the canvas, he tends to end them quickly with strikes or strangles.
Is Boser an elite defensive wrestler? No, not quite. He’s pretty good at avoiding the shot, however, and pretty good is more than likely good enough to keep this fight standing. On the feet, Nascimento just doesn’t bring anything special to the table. He should be easy pickings for Boser’s usual strategy, provided the Canadian is wise enough to stay off the fence and keep this fight upright.
I don’t mean to repeat myself, but Tanner Boser is a cut above the average unranked Heavyweight, and Nascimento has yet to prove himself beyond that rank and file.
‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2022: 37-24
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.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 60: “Sandhagen vs. Yadong” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.