Middleweights helm UFC’s first event of 2022 this Saturday (Jan. 14, 2022) when fast-rising Nassourdine Imavov squares off with super short notice replacement, Sean Strickland, inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 67 will also see Dan Ige look to get back on track at Damon Jackson’s expense, knockout punchers Punahele Soriano and Roman Kopylov collide at Middleweight, and Ketlen Vieira battle Raquel Pennington.
Seven “Prelims” undercard bouts will set UFC Vegas 67’s main stage, and we’ve got four of them prepared for you below ...
125 lbs.: Allan Nascimento vs. Carlos Hernandez
More than three years after suffering an agonizingly close decision loss to Raulian Paiva on Contender Series, Allan Nascimento (19-6) came up just short once again in his UFC debut opposite Tagir Ulanbekov. He would not be denied again, upsetting Jake Hadley to return to the win column 6.5 months later.
All but one of his 15 pro finishes have come by submission.
A narrow decision over Daniel Barez proved sufficient to earn Carlos Hernandez (8-1) his Contender Series graduation papers. He then took on fellow alumnus Victor Altamirano in his debut, which resulted in another split decision victory.
He faces a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.
The term “dark horse” gets thrown around too much, but there’s no other way to describe Nascimento. Now that his striking and wrestling have caught up to his terrific jiu-jitsu game, the Flyweight division has a problem on its hands.
As does Hernandez, of course. Nascimento has a huge edge on the mat and has shown off enough takedown skills to drag Hernandez into his world as needed. While Hernandez might be able to stay competitive on the feet, his decent striking is handicapped by a tendency to advance and retreat in straight lines, which should allow Nascimento to get him to the fence or time level changes as he comes in. Nascimento puts on a ground clinic for his second UFC win and, in all likelihood, his first Octagon finish.
Prediction: Nascimento via second round submission
135 lbs.: Isaac Dulgarian vs. Dan Argueta
Isaac Dulgarian (5-0) racked up four first-round finishes as an amateur ahead of his 2021 pro debut. He’s yet to miss a beat from the transition, likewise dispatching all subsequent foes in under five minutes each.
His five finishes include three by submission.
Dan Argueta (8-1) — Brian Ortega’s first pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29, went one-and-done in the house thanks to an opening-round upset courtesy of Ricky Turcios. After picking up three wins and a Bantamweight title in LFA, he stepped up on short notice to fight Damon Jackson, who out-grappled him to a unanimous decision victory.
He’s racked up four submissions and two knockouts of his own.
It’s tough to get a bead on Dulgarian, as he wins too quickly to show off things like cardio, striking technique, or ability to power through adversity. What I have seen, though, has me smelling upset. Argueta got Big Brother’d by Jackson, and while you could reasonably argue that the short notice played a part, I’m just not convinced 145 is the right weight class for “Determined.” Combine a potential lack of size with Dulgarian’s impressive wrestling pedigree and you get some rough rides in Argueta’s future.
Again, Dulgarian is far less proven and far less tested than Argueta. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I’ve overestimated him; I am not immune to big flashy finishes of low-level guys. I just feel that based on Argueta’s struggles with Jackon, Dulgarian’s takedown prowess and vicious ground-and-pound will pay quick dividends.
Prediction: Dulgarian via first round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Charles Johnson vs. Jimmy Flick
Charles Johnson (12-3) saw his four-fight win streak snapped in his UFC debut, a one-sided loss to rising phenom Muhammad Mokaev. He looked poised to be 0-2 in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion after getting out-hustled by Zhalgas Zhumagulov, but wound up the beneficiary of some highly questionable scoring.
He steps in for Jeff Molina on around five weeks’ notice.
The Jimmy Flick (16-5) grappling clinic on Nate Smith proved impressive enough to earn him a Contender Series contract. He was even more impressive in his UFC debut, which saw him tap Cody Durden with a bonus-winning flying triangle.
This will be the first fight for “The Brick” in more than two years, as he originally retired in 2021.
Whether or not you think something’s fishy with the betting lines, it’s clear that Flick shouldn’t be a 3:1 underdog in this match up. He’s an absolute wizard on the mat, and Johnson’s incredibly slow start against Zhumagulov suggests that an early Flick submission isn’t out of the question.
But man, it’s still an uphill battle for “The Brick.”
Johnson is incredibly difficult to hold down and a very effective striker once he gets into gear. Even if he does come out flat again, he’s got the tools to survive a rough start and really pour on the hurt in the later rounds. The heart wants another Flick grappling masterpiece, but the head says Johnson buries him in power shots in the latter half.
Prediction: Johnson via third round technical knockout
135 lbs.: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Sijara Eubanks
Priscila Cachoeira (12-4) shambled her way to a 2-4 UFC start, including three straight losses to kick off her Octagon tenure. “Zombie Girl” has since bounced back with a pair of wins, a controversial decision over Ji Yeon Kim and a decidedly uncontroversial 65-second beatdown of Ariane Lipski.
Seven of her professional wins have come by form of knockout.
Sijara Eubanks (7-7) bounced back from her unceremonious weight-cut-induced exit from TUF 26 by winning her first two UFC bouts via decision. The fun wasn’t to last, as she’s now lost five of eight and three of her last four.
She gives up three inches of height to Cachoeira, but will enjoy a two-inch reach advantage.
On paper, Eubanks really should win this without issue. Cachoeira is not a difficult woman to take down and, if nothing else, Eubanks still has great top control. At the same time, Eubanks has proven prone to late collapses, and as we saw when Cachoeira fought Gina Mazany, the Brazilian is more than able to capitalize on any sign of weakness.
For what I think is the first time in her entire UFC tenure, I’m picking Cachoeira. Eubanks has had years to fix all of the issues keeping her from living up to her potential, and now that she’s approaching 40, I think the time might be up. Eubanks demolishes Cachoeira on the mat for about a round and a half before “Zombie Girl” batters her into submission.
Prediction: Cachoeira via third round technical knockout
Three more UFC Vegas 67 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the Octagon debuts of two Contender Series standouts. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 67 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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