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UFC Kansas City predictions: Early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Holloway vs. Allen

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN/ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., April 15, 2023) when UFC Kansas City: “Holloway vs. Allen” takes over T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.’s Patrick Stumberg kicks of the UFC Kansas City “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

After a third, decisive defeat to Alexander Volkanovski, former Featherweight roost-ruler, Max Holloway, looks to prove he still belongs among the elite when he battles the surging Arnold Allen inside T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. ESPN’s show this Saturday (April 15, 2023) also sees Edson Barboza look to right the ship against Billy Quarantillo and Dustin Jacoby attempt to halt the rise of undefeated Light Heavyweight prospect, Azamat Murzakanov.

Eight “Prelims” undercard bouts join UFC Kansas City’s main card on ESPN/ESPN+. Let’s check out the first batch ...

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 74 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES FLYWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 3, 2023, with No. 3-seeded contender, Kai Kara-France, face rising No. 7-ranked Amir Albazi. In UFC Vegas 74’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, an exciting Featherweight bout sees No. 15-ranked contender, Alex Caceres, lock horns with all-action Daniel Pineda.

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

155 lbs.: Lando Vannata vs. Daniel Zellhuber

The debut war for Lando Vannata (12-6-2) with Tony Ferguson and subsequent wheel kick knockout of John Makdessi seemingly put him on the fast track to stardom, only for him to go winless in his next four. Dropping to 145 pounds produced a 3-3 run that most recently saw him choked out by Charles Jourdain in April 2022.

“Groovy” faces a four-inch height disadvantage and a six-inch reach disadvantage against “Golden Boy.”

Daniel Zellhuber (12-1) survived a vicious opening round to hand Lucas Almeida his first professional defeat and claim a UFC contract on Contender Series. Nearly a year later, he debuted against Trey Ogden, who capitalized on Zellhuber’s uncharacteristic lethargy to outwork him en route to a unanimous decision win.

His nine professional finishes include seven via knockout.

I genuinely believe Zellhuber is a far better fighter than he showed against Ogden. Flawed, certainly, but gifted and still young enough to turn the corner. While this may just be my optimism talking or an attempt to save face after hyping him up in New Blood, I think he’s got what it takes to win this. So long as he actually lets his hands go, his length and durability present real issues for the eternally inconsistent Vannata.

I acknowledge that Zellhuber completely beefed it last time out and I have no concrete evidence to suggest he’ll put it all together here. Against someone who eternally struggles to make all his gears mesh, though, I’m willing to bank on the physically superior athlete. Prediction? He pieces up Vannata for his first Octagon victory.

Prediction: Zellhuber via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Bruna Brasil vs. Denise Gomes

Bruna Brasil (8-2-1) defied the odds to hand Yasmin Castanho her first-ever defeat in the former’s Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) debut. This set up a shot on the Contender Series, where she stopped Marnic Mann via head kick to extend her winning streak to seven and claim a UFC contract.

Her five professional stoppages are split 3/2 between knockouts and submissions.

A comeback knockout of Milana Dudieva earned Denise Gomes (6-2) her first Invicta victory, after which she punched her ticket to the big show by beating Rayanne dos Santos on the Contender Series. Despite some solid stretches of back control, she proved unable to overcome Loma Lookboonmee on a three-week turnaround, resulting in her first loss since 2017.

She stands four inches shorter than Brasil and faces a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.

Range is the deciding factor here. Brasil has Gomes badly outclassed at a distance; her deep kicking arsenal and heavy counters make the most of her height and reach advantages. It’s a different story in close, where Gomes’ aggression and grappling skills serve as great equalizers. The uglier it gets and the more Gomes can smother Brasil’s kicks by either catching them or retaliating with punches, the better it’ll go for “Dee.”

Brasil just seems a bit too sharp for that, though, especially since she’s got takedown chops of her own to exploit Gomes’ poor defensive wrestling if things get too hairy on the feet. “The Special One” tears up Gomes’ legs, plugs her with counter punches, and racks up top control to claim a decisive win.

Prediction: Brasil via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Aaron Phillips vs. Gaston Bolanos

Nearly six years after washing out of the Octagon on an 0-2 skid, Aaron Phillips (12-4) returned in July 2020 to face the red-hot Jack Shore. Victory once again proved elusive, as he succumbed to “Tank’s” rear naked choke midway through the second round.

He fights for the first time in 33 months.

A highly successful Nak Muay and kickboxer, Gaston Bolanos (6-3) has spent the entirety of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career in the Bellator cage. He last saw action in April 2022, knocking out Daniel Carey to end a two-year layoff and avenge one of his three defeats.

All six of his MMA wins have come by knockout.

I can’t say with any certainty what Phillips will look like on Saturday night. As underwhelming as he’s been in his pro career, I’ve seen worse fighters make more dramatic turnarounds over shorter periods of time. It’s not like Bolanos is some unstoppable force, either; his defensive grappling remains a major Achilles’ heel and he can get weirdly sloppy when engaging at long range.

All that said, Phillips failed to make huge strides between his first and second UFC stints, and though you could attribute a lot of that to the fact that he fought a stylistic nightmare in Jack Shore, it doesn’t bode well for his chances here. Like a monkey paw, UFC finally gave Phillips a willing striker, but it’s one who will tear him apart with blistering boxing combos in the pocket..

Prediction: Bolanos via first round technical knockout

135 lbs.: Joselyne Edwards vs. Lucie Pudilova

More than two years after unsuccessfully battling Sarah Alpar for LFA gold, Joselyne Edwards (12-4) claimed her first UFC victory with a decision over Wu Yanan. Though she went on to lose her next two, she enters the cage this Saturday on a two-fight win streak, both of which came in the span of less than two months.

She has knocked out five professional foes and submitted three others.

After leaving the world’s largest fight promotion in an 0-4 freefall, Lucie Pudilova (14-7) rebuilt herself with a 5-1 OKTAGON run. She ultimately made her UFC return in August 2022, pounding out Wu Yanan for her first promotional victory since 2018.

She faces a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.

This one comes down to whether Pudilova can keep her foot on the gas. She proved against Irene Aldana that she can throw heat for three rounds and showed off some improved takedown skills last time out that Edwards figures to struggle with. Despite her pedigree of violence, though, she was unusually passive for long stretches of the Wu fight, which won’t serve her well against Edwards’ high-volume pitter-pat style.

Even with that caveat, Pudilova strikes me as the likely victor. Edwards struggled with the incredibly limited Ramona Pascual and has historically proven vulnerable to determined takedown artists, suggesting Pudilova can hold her own on the feet and take it to the mat as necessary.

Heavier strikes and strong top control carry the day for Pudilova.

Prediction: Pudilova via unanimous decision

Four more UFC Kansas City “Prelims” bouts remain to preview and predict tomorrow, including a potentially electric Flyweight showdown. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Las Vegas fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 8:30 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Kansas City: “Holloway vs. Allen” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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