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UFC Kansas City predictions: Late ‘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 continues the UFC Kansas City “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight division faces a potential changing of the guard this Saturday (April 15, 2023) when Arnold Allen looks to extend his lengthy win streak at former champion Max Holloway’s expense. T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo., also hosts a deliciously volatile clash between Edson Barboza and Billy Quarantillo, as well as Tanner Boser vs Ion Cutelaba and a leg kick festival pitting Pedro Munhoz against Chris Gutierrez.

UFC Kansas City features four more “Prelims” undercard bouts to check out before all that, though (check out the first batch here). Let’s get cracking ...

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!

145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. T.J. Brown

An upset decision over Joanderson Brito and subsequent beatdown of Herbert Burns — the latter of which earned Bill Algeo (16-7) his second post-fight bonus — pushed “Senor Perfecto’s” UFC record back over .500. It wasn’t to last, as his next appearance saw him drop a short-notice split decision to Andre Fili in Sept. 2022.

He stands three inches taller than “Downtown” and boasts a one-inch reach advantage.

T.J. Brown (17-9) rebounded from a winless (0-2) UFC start by winning two straight over Kai Kamaka III and Charles Rosa. Though he failed to get past Shayilan Nuerdanbueke, he bounced back six months later with a bonus-winning arm triangle finish of Erik Silva.

That win marked his tenth via submission and fourteenth inside the distance.

That win over Silva was a reminder of what Brown can do when he’s firing on all cylinders. The talent and skills are clearly there, just held back by suspect durability and questionable decision-making. If everything goes right for him, his wrestling and boxing are enough to carry him past Algeo’s offbeat offense.

While Algeo is easy to hit and take down, though, he’s also very adept at getting right back into the fight. Brown is always on the brink of disaster, so someone like Algeo who’s difficult to neutralize and always in position to end the fight presents a unique challenge. Expect Brown to build up an early lead with takedowns and clean right hands before inevitably getting clipped.

Prediction: Algeo via second round technical knockout

125 lbs.: Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau

Brandon Royval’s (14-6) red-hot Octagon start gave way to two straight losses, one a shoulder injury against Brandon Moreno and the other a submission defeat courtesy of Alexandre Pantoja. He got back on track by edging out Rogerio Bontorin in a rare trip to the judges, then choked out Matt Schnell to secure his third “Fight of the Night” bonus in six appearances.

Nine of his 12 professional finishes have come by submission.

Matheus Nicolau (19-2-1) racked up a perfect (3-0) UFC record before leaving the promotion on the heels of a knockout loss to Dustin Ortiz. He ultimately returned more than two years later and hit the ground running, claiming victory in his next four appearances to claim a spot in the Flyweight Top 5.

He gives up three inches of height and two inches of reach to “Raw Dawg.”

He may not be the most exciting Flyweight in the game, but Nicolau strikes me as a natural foil to Royval. “Raw Dawg” thrives in chaos, using relentless pressure and high-risk techniques to provoke opponents into overextending and leaving themselves vulnerable to submissions. Unfortunately for him, Nicolau is extraordinarily patient and composed; neither the power of Manel Kape nor the nonstop takedown onslaught of Tim Elliott were enough to throw him off his game.

Considering that Nicolau is the heavier puncher and a sufficiently stout wrestler to keep it standing, that’s bad news for Royval. Expect Nicolau to hold his own in a fire fight until Royval gets a bit too greedy and eats a counter down the pipe.

Prediction: Nicolau via second round technical knockout

205 lbs.: Zak Cummings vs. Ed Herman

Former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 competitor, Zak Cummings (24-7), quietly assembled a 6-2 UFC Welterweight record before a narrow loss to Michel Prazeres sent him back to 185 pounds. The move appeared to work out, as he won three of his next four and claimed upset decisions over Trevin Giles and Alessio Di Chirico along the way.

He fights for the first time in nearly 32 months and makes his first Light Heavyweight appearance in more than one decade.

A successful UFC Light Heavyweight debut saw Ed Herman (27-15) stop Tim Boetsch with a bonus-winning knee, only to fall short in his next three bouts. That slump gave way to a three-fight winning streak, which ended in August 2021 at the hands of Alonzo Menifield.

He’ll enjoy one inch of height and two inches of reach on Cummings.

Cummings’ size, sneaky power and potent submissions made him a headache for most at 170 and 185 pounds. Things don’t figure to go quite as smoothly at 205, where the takedowns and knockdowns he needs to compensate for his low output will be harder to come by. Luckily for him, Herman’s another undersized veteran who lacks the footwork to out-maneuver Cummings and the wrestling to hold him down.

Herman could definitely still out-work Cummings in a gritty, slow-paced striking battle, but Cummings is the younger man and has much less mileage on him, which suggests that he’ll hold up better down the stretch. I say Cummings’ left hand does enough damage to secure a decision.

Prediction: Cummings via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Gillian Robertson vs. Piera Rodriguez (9-0)

Gillian Robertson (11-7) went from winning six of her first eight UFC bouts to losing two straight against Taila Santos and Miranda Maverick. “The Savage” has since won two of three, a loss to J.J. Aldrich sandwiched between submission wins over Mariya Agapova and Priscila Cachoeira.

This will be her first Strawweight appearance since 2017.

Piera Rodriguez (9-0) followed her Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) title-winning stoppage of Svetlana Gotsyk by out-classing Valesca Machado on Contender Series to earn a UFC contract. She’s made the most of the opportunity with two straight wins, the most recent of which saw her survive a late surge to beat Sam Hughes by decision.

All five of her professional stoppages have come via (technical) knockout.

I’m generally skeptical when veterans go down in weight, but the fact that Robertson’s doing so after a win makes me think she and Din Thomas know what they’re doing. That’s bad news for Rodriguez. That’s because even though a better striker than Robertson, “La Fiera” has leaned on her wrestling of late and appeared to fade down in the third against Hughes. Against a dedicated takedown artist like Robertson — who for once won’t have to compensate for a lack of size — that spells trouble.

Robertson does admittedly have a lot of lingering questions, both in terms of the weight cut and her historical inability to get over the hump. Still, there’s enough going her way in this match to earn the nod. In the end, she steadily overpowers Rodriguez before locking up her signature rear-naked choke in the home stretch.

Prediction: Robertson via third round submission

Crossroads bouts are always interesting, especially when both participants are known to put on a show. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current Prediction Record for 2023: 51-24-1

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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