Former women’s Bantamweight queenpin, Holly Holm, looks to derail another contender this Saturday (July 15, 2023) when she takes on Mayra Bueno Silva atop UFC’s latest show inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC Vegas 77 will also feature a Middleweight showdown between Albert Duraev and Jun Yong Park and a rare — genuinely interesting — women’s Featherweight clash pitting Norma Dumont vs. Chelsea Chandler.
Three UFC Vegas 77 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the first batch here), filleted and presented for your perusal below ...
145 lbs.: Tucker Lutz vs. Melsik Baghdasaryan
Tucker Lutz (12-3) went 2-0 on Contender Series before cruising past Kevin Aguilar in his UFC debut. The success wasn’t to last, as he dropped back-to-back decisions against Pat Sabatini and Daniel Pineda.
“Top Gun” stands one inch shorter than Baghdasaryan but enjoys a two-inch reach advantage.
The striking skills of Melsik Baghdasaryan (7-2) carried him to victory on Contender Series and in his first two Octagon bouts. A 15-month layoff followed, after which “The Gun” suffered his first loss since his pro debut at the hands of Joshua Culibao.
Five of his seven professional wins have come by knockout.
I can understand losing to Sabatini — an extremely adept grappler — but Lutz looked downright awful against Pineda. He was hesitant to throw and, more importantly, completely unable to take down a notoriously weak wrestler. He’s seemingly condemned to trading strikes with a much more dangerous kickboxer in Baghdasaryan, which can’t end well.
While Baghdasaryan will never evolve into a real contender without leaving Edmond Tarverdyan, what he’s got should still be enough if Lutz comes out flat again. He clips Lutz sometime in the second to return to the win column.
Prediction: Baghdasaryan via second round technical knockout
115 lbs.: Viktoriia Dudakova vs. Istela Nunes
Viktoriia Dudakova (6-0) went from 6-0 amateur to 5-0 pro before joining Contender Series in 2022. There, she fought through a gnarly knee injury to hand Maria Silva her first career defeat and walk away with a UFC contract.
Her four pro submission wins include three by rear naked choke.
Istela Nunes (6-4) started her career 6-1, including a 2-1 stint in ONE, en route to a 2021 UFC debut. She’s still chasing her first Octagon victory, having lost three straight to Ariane Carnelossi, Sam Hughes, and Yazmin Jauregui.
She gives up one inch of height and reach to Nunes.
If Nunes could just put it all together, she’d be a menace. She has genuinely great striking and monstrous power in her right hand, but between her shaky cardio and limited grappling, she excels at finding ways to lose. While she unquestionably has the means to smash Dudakova, who can be a bit of a lay-and-pray artist and struggles to consistently hit takedowns, Dudakova just seems far more reliable.
I fully expect to see Nunes put on a clinic for at least a few minutes. If Dudakova’s still standing afterwards, though, she’s skilled enough to claw her way back into the fight once Nunes inevitably falls apart. Dudakova survives an early mauling to grind out a narrow decision.
Prediction: Dudakova via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Austin Lingo vs. Melquizael Costa
Austin Lingo (9-2) bounced back from an unsuccessful UFC debut with wins over Jacob Kilburn and Luis Saldana. He spent the next 17 months on the sidelines before returning to action in March 2023, when he suffered a submission loss to Nate Landwehr in San Antonio.
He faces a three-inch reach disadvantage.
Melquizael Costa (19-6) put together a 7-1 run before stepping up on short notice to face Thiago Moises in January 2023. His results failed to match his boldness, as “Melk” succumbed to a rear-naked choke late in the second round.
His professional finishes are split 7:6 between knockouts and submissions.
Costa just seems to have a few too many weapons for Lingo. Though Lingo hits hard, he doesn’t have a terribly deep toolbox outside of decent power and boxing fundamentals. Costa’s superior kicking game should work well for him, as Lingo struggled to get past Saldana’s kicks before the latter suffered an injury.
Though Costa is far from impossible to hit, he ostensibly has the tools to out-strike Lingo at a distance and hasn’t shown any durability issues that Lingo’s heavy swings could exploit. He takes home a competitive, but clear, decision win.
Prediction: Costa via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 77 is essentially garbage — not even going to try and sell it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current Prediction Record for 2023: 91-61-1 (2 NC)
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 77 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
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