UFC Vegas 56
Alexander Volkov vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
This matchup is perfect, because I think it pits two guys who’ve essentially reached their respective ceilings in the UFC against each other. Let’s face it, neither of these men were ever going to win the belt, they’re potential gatekeepers, and even that is getting behind them now. Over Volkov’s last 4 bouts, he’s traded wins/losses, so he’s 2-2, and 3-2 over his last 5. The wins have come over Walt Harris, a washed up Alistair Overeem, and Marcin Tybura, whose also more than likely plateaued. The 2 L’s have come to two of the divisions best in Gane (whose challenged for the belt once so far), and Aspinall, another candidate soon to get a shot pending the outcome of his next bout. Similar numbers for Rozenstruik, with a 2-3 record over his last 5. With a loss to Gane, as well as Curtis Blaydes. This particular matchup screams Volkov vs Lewis 2.0, except Rozenstruik doesn’t have the one shot power Lewis has, but he does indeed have good power. But in that bout, Volkov was easily able to frustrate Lewis the entire portion of 14+ mins before a Hail Mary shot lands flush within the last 15 seconds of the bout. Had that not happened, it was likely 30-27 across the board for Volk. He’ll have the same success here, but with 25mins to avoid danger from the stalking Rozenstruik. Volkov lands 4.83 SS/m, whereas Rozenstruik only lands 2.8 SS/m, while absorbing 3.07 SS/m. The biggest advantage Volkov has is his huge frame for the division, standing at 6’7, he’ll often have the reach/height over most everyone. He should be able to comfortably keep this at kickboxing range for the better part of 25mins, as Rozenstruik likely doesn’t try to resort to any type of wrestling approach. Rozenstruik’s single path to victory is by way of KO/TKO, and I just don’t see it. Volkov should rack up 120+ SS landed on his way to a clear 50-45 unanimous decision. Making him a decent play on both sites.
PICK: Alexander Volkov $19 FD ($8600 DK)
Jairzinho Rozenstruik $17 FD ($7600 DK)
Co Main Event
Movsar Evloev vs Dan Ige
The undefeated Evloev gets to continue his quest at looking for UFC gold here, he’s 15-0 overall, and 5-0 in the UFC, on the back of an elite skill set in the wrestling/grappling department. A win here, and he probably gets 1 more matchup before the UFC gives him a shot. It was conceivable that Ige was on his way to a shot had he won his bout vs The Korean Zombie. Heading into that one, he has won 7 of his prior 8 bouts and was in a groove. But since the TKZ bout. He’s 0-2, and has lost 3 of 4. And in a seemingly uphill battle, is likely looking at a loss in 4 of his last 5, effectively ending any chance at a title fight unless he reels off another 4-5 winning streak. Ige has a really nice technical jab, he can get it from point A to point B very cleanly when he’s on his gm. He lands 3.9 SS/m with 46% accuracy. On the other side, an underrated aspect of his gm, Evloev lands 4.32 SS/m with 44% accuracy, and only absorbs 2.79 SS/m, that in large part to him being able to shoot for TDs and find success. Evloev lands an average of 4 TDs per 15mins. He was able to get 9 his last bout vs Hakeem Dawodu. I don’t think that number is that high this time around though, because Ige’s ability to get back to his feet won’t be so frequent. TKZ was able to rack up 10mins of control time in his bout with Ige, albeit in a 25min battle, but the optics there don’t look great because Evloev is another step up in that department and could very well rack up the same amount of time with only 15mins given. Ige is defensively aware enough that I think he can avoid being subbed, but he’ll be in trouble as long as it stays on the mat. On FD, I think Evloev’s ceiling is tied to if he can get the sub, which is completely hard to gauge in matchups like this, and I lean that he doesn’t get it, but instead cruises to a clear decision. Probably getting 4-6 TDs, with 7+ mins of control. Making him a much more desirable play on DK for me.
PICK: Movsar Evloev $21 FD ($9400 DK)
Dan Ige $9 FD ($6800 DK)
Michael Trizano vs Lucas Almeida
Trizano is 5 bouts into his UFC career and sits 3-2, with his most recent bout being a L to Hakeem Dawodu. He’s a decent well rounded fighter, and likes to stay at range. He doesn’t move all too well in and out of the pocket though, which leaves him open to counters. He’s accurate with his own striking though, landing at 53%. Generally his issue is up and down volume, he won’t get 80+ SS in any given fight, or at least he hasn’t shown that to this point. Almeida is making his UFC debut here, and dropping down to Featherweight from Lightweight to do so. But Almeida is all action, he’s 12-1 professionally, and has 12 finishes. He’s a pressuring style fighter who gets it going from the opening bell, his issue was recently seen to be his cardio if he can’t get the finish in RD 1. He starts to slow down considerably, but still throws good power and with fight ending intention. He lands 6.4 SS/m, but absorbs 7.67 SS/m in return as a result of his high pace brawling style. Trizano doesn’t seem to have the power that’ll really cause Almeida trouble either unless he just absolutely gasses himself after RD 1. If he’s able to ever manage his cardio better, he could be an issue for this division down the road. I think this is a winnable enough debut to get things going for himself. I’m taking the dog here, and I think he gets a finish in RD 2 or 3. Trizano is tough, so I’m thinking he survives the RD 1 onslaught, but if he doesn’t, even better. In a decision scenario, Almeida should see north of 100 SS landed, which could still result in a nice score from the dog.
PICK: Lucas Almeida $11 FD ($7100 DK)
Michael Trizano $20 FD ($9100 DK)
Karine Silva vs Poliana Botelho
This matchmaking is perfect for these two. Silva is making her UFC debut, while Botelho is trying to find her footing and get some consistency going. She’s 3-3 in the UFC thus far. Silva participated on DWCS this past October and got a submission win. Silva is known for her power on the regional scene, as she has several KO/TKO wins on her record. Her issue becomes her cardio completely failing her after about 7mins if she hasn’t gotten her opponent out of there. Her striking accuracy isn’t that great at all because she loads up on her punches, making it easy to telegraph and avoid. She also absorbs 4.01 SS/m, but only lands 1.78. Botelho will have the clear advantage on the feet, she’ll be much more technical, and will land at a much higher clip. She lands at 57% accuracy. Landing 2.83 SS/m, and absorbing just 2.75 SS/m. Those numbers being said, the back half of this fight will likely play out on the mat. Silva’s fatigue will cause Botelho to find success with clinch work against the fence, and she’ll likely get it grounded. Silva will then try to pull a submission out of her hat again, but Botelho should be hip to it and avoid it. Botelho has struggled mightily against good grapplers, but the cardio flaws of Silva will help her tremendously in this matchup, and I don’t consider Silva to be on the level of Gillian Robertson or Luana Carolina in that department just yet. This has ugly written all over it, and I’m likely avoiding on FD altogether and living with the result if it ends in a finish for either woman, which I don’t see. I see the first RD being relatively close, then Botelho should start to takeover when her physical advantages get her ahead in the grappling exchanges. This is a very appealing bout on DK for me at their price points. I think Botelho wins a unanimous decision 29-28, possibly 30-27 on someone’s card.
PICK: Poliana Botelho $15 FD ($8,000 DK)
Karine Silva $16 FD ($8200 DK)
Ode Osbourne vs Zarrukh Adashev
Both these men are young in their UFC careers, Osbourne is 2-2 to start, and Adashev is 1-2. So both men need a win here. Adashev is a frustrating fighter to watch, he’s largely a counter striker, and is seemingly fine with kind of running from his opponents I’d like to call it. That was on display in his win over Ryan Benoit, as he was trying to avoid the power shots. Adashev does land 3.54 SS/m, but as mentioned most of those seem to be counter shots. On the flip side, Osbourne lands 4.74 SS/m, but absorbs 4.92 SS/m. Osbourne wants to get after it, and he’ll most certainly be fine with backing Adashev up throwing his offense. He’ll have to not be so eager and get caught with something, which I think with his 2’ inch height and 7’ inch reach advantage, he’ll do just that. Adashev will likely try to chip away at Osbourne’s lead leg to detour his approach, but not sure how much it’ll help. Osbourne’s left hand is something to reckon with and he’ll find success with it. I think he finds a 2nd RD KO/TKO. Benoit was able to find Adashev’s chin with such few success and was still able to drop him, just couldn’t get the finish afterwards. Osbourne will have even more power to offer.
PICK: Ode Osbourne $19 FD ($8900 DK)
Zarrukh Adashev $11 FD ($7300 DK)
Alonzo Menifield vs Askar Mozharov
This matchup took an interesting twist this week. Mozharov’s record at the beginning of the week was like 25-7, it got adjusted to 19-12 by weigh-ins, he had apparently did some work to try and make his career seem better than it obviously was. He’s making his UFC debut here, and despite the outcome of this bout, I’d personally like to think the UFC doesn’t want that type of fighter on roster and he likely won’t be offered another moving forward, but that’s my opinion. Looking at the matchup, Mozharov is a finish or be finished fighter, 26 of the fights haven’t left RD 1. He throws powerful overhand strikes, and as a result, can either find success, or gas himself and get in trouble. His biggest detriment is when things hit the mat, he’s got several submission losses, and seems to panic at times if he’s on his back or gets his neck taken. So that’d seem like the last thing he’d want in this matchup, as Menifield is solid anywhere this fight goes. I personally had higher hopes for Menifield upon his arrival to the UFC, he was an undefeated prospect with tons of potential coming in, he just couldn’t put it together it seemed and has had up and down results. He’s got power in his striking, and as I mentioned is well versed if things hit the ground, and he should be better anywhere this fight goes. I’d like to think he’s well aware of Mozharov’s approach and will do his best to avoid the clean shots coming and look for the TDs instead. The further this fight goes, the more it favors Menifield, if Mozharov is going to have a chance it’s RD 1, taking shots on him isn’t a bad thing if doing mass entry, but other than that I’d stay away from him. The pick is for Menifield to find a late finish in RD 1. Can do it either on the feet or submission.
PICK: Alonzo Menifield $18 FD ($8700 DK)
Askar Mozharov $13 FD ($7500 DK)
Felice Herrig vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This is a rematch of a 2018 affair that saw Karolina take it via decision. Not sure what prompted this rematch but here we are. Both women are seemingly on the back end of their career, and presumably may only have a couple fights left each. Felice is approaching 38 yrs old, and Karolina will be 37 later this year. Nonetheless both could use a win. Karolina has lost 5 straight bouts, so a loss here could effectively end her UFC run anyway, and Felice has lost 3 straight, and 2-3 in her last 5. Felice thrives off of being able to dominate wrestling/grappling exchanges, and that’s what she’ll look to do here. She only averages basically 1 TD per 15mins, but she won’t go without trying, and at worst will try to get some control time against the fence. She’s got decent striking/output and lands 3.63 SS/m, but absorbs 4.84 SS/m. On the other side, Karolina lands 5.16 SS/m and absorbs 5.56 SS/m. So the striking defense is lacking on both sides, but Karolina definitely prefers a striking match. She’s slightly more accurate/cleaner in her strikes, and can win RDs if she’s able to keep it standing. Both have about the same in terms of TDEF, and neither is really good at setting up actual TDs, so this could actually play out mainly on the feet, and if that’s the case, then it’ll look very similar to the first matchup between them 4yrs ago, and that’s Karolina getting ahead on the scorecards and doing enough in the first two RDs to get the win. I don’t have faith in either of these women that they’ll find themselves in optimal on either site, so this fight is a fade for me. The pick is Karolina via decision.
PICK: Karolina Kowalkiewicz $15 FD ($7900 DK)
Felice Herrig $16 FD ($8300 DK)
Joe Solecki vs Alex da Silva Coelho
Grappler vs grappler matchup here. Solecki is 3-1 to start his UFC campaign, while Silva Coehlo is just 1-2 and in need of a win. Solecki is a nonstop offensive wrestler, he pressures forward and closes distance with strikes before he’ll ultimately shoot for the TD, once in top control, he’s nonstop in terms of his approach on the mat, he’s looking for different ways to find submissions. Both men average roughly the same amount of TDs per 15mins, Solecki sits at 2.85 and Silva is at 2.75. On the feet, Solecki’s stats show he’s the more accurate of the two in terms of numbers, but I think Silva is more technical and will have the better power, so should he find success in stuffing TDs, that could be his avenue to steal this one. His cardio starts to fade a bit once we get to the 8+ min mark, so he’ll be wise to keep it standing as long as possible to avoid that. Silva’s wrestling/grappling is also really solid though, and one thing Solecki doesn’t do well is fight to get off of his back consistently, so if he’s down there, he accepts position too much. He’s got to advance and get better at that part of his gm if he really wants to make moves in a deep division. What this ultimately boils down to for me is cardio, because I think Solecki will find his success with TDs, and the longer this plays out, the better it is. This is another I likely avoid on FD, but will take chances on both sides of this matchup on DK, as the ground control time could be pretty significant on either side. I favor Solecki to take this via decision though, hard to see Silva getting submitted here but never know. Silva will be a dog I take a couple shots on on DK. Avoiding on FD.
PICK: Joe Solecki $18 FD ($8800 DK)
Alex da Silva Coehlo $13 FD ($7400 DK)
Damon Jackson vs Dan Argueta
Jackson is getting a late replacement in Argueta here who’s making his debut. Jackson has started to try and put things together. He’s won 3 of his last 4, with the L being to Ilia Topuria, not a terrible loss by any means currently. Argueta fought in the LFA and mainly used jiu jitsu as a means to his offense. He likes to get in the pocket to close distance. His striking is ok, and will need to improve mightily if he’s going to sustain any type of real success in the UFC. He’s 8-0 on the regional scene, but that doesn’t always translate to immediate success, especially on short notice. His grappling could give Jackson issues, but the size difference will be something to keep note of as it should favor Jackson. Jackson’s striking will also be much better, and should allow for him to keep range and dictate where the fight goes. He’ll have a 4” height advantage and 3” in reach over Argueta. Jackson shouldn’t have much trouble here, even if it goes to a decision, but when it hits the mat, he’ll constantly be looking to find positions to get the sub, and I eventually think he gets it. But I’ll say it happens RD 2 after wearing Argueta down for a bit. I think I’m avoiding on FD for sure though @ $23, and possibly DK as well just because I think there are better ways to go.
PICK: Damon Jackson $23 FD ($9500 DK)
Dan Argueta $8 FD ($6700 DK)
Benoit Saint Denis vs Niklas Stolze
If it’s one thing Saint Denis showed in his UFC debut in October of last year it was toughness, in a bout that would’ve been stopped by almost any other ref in the arena that day, he weathered an absolute beating from Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. That should serve him well moving forward. He’s dropping down to Lightweight here, as previous bouts were Welterweight. Stolze is looking for his first UFC win and sits at 0-2, his last bout being a quick KO loss to Jared Gooden in RD 1. Stolze is a slow paced striker that can fall back on a solid wrestling gm if he can manage to close distance enough to shoot for TDs etc. On the other side though, Benoit is also a solid wrestler with good TDEF, so that could prove to be an uphill battle. Benoit averages 2 TDs per 15mins. And on the feet, Benoit will be the aggressor and will likely dictate the pace. He lands 4.47 SS/m, and absorbs 9.93 SS/m, yes, that number is correct, but skewed from having the one match with Santos. That’ll mellow out a bit as his career goes, but striking defense is obviously a concern against solid strikers. Simply put, I haven’t seen much to be excited about with Stolze to this point, his approach won’t find much success in such a deep division. Benoit should get whatever type of fight he wants. And honestly has a chance to find the chin and get a TKO/KO. Either way, Benoit is a nice piece to add to LUs this weekend.
PICK: Benoit Saint Denis $17 FD ($8500 DK)
Niklas Stolze $14 FD ($7700 DK)
Tony Gravely vs Johnny Munoz
This should be another solid matchup. Munoz is another prospect that’s coming into the organization highly rated. In his debut he got a submission win over Jamey Simmons in RD 2. He likes to use his jiu jitsu when it’s all said and done. His striking is solid, but again, he hopes to close distance to look for a TD and start his work from there. He’s getting a much stiffer test in his sophomore fight with Gravely. Gravely has won 3 of his last 4, and is coming off of a win vs Saigon Oliveira, another highly touted jiu jitsu guy, who had several opportunities at locking up a submission, was credited with 4 attempts, he just couldn’t get it done. Gravely’s striking is much more solid than Munoz’s in this matchup, and he’ll actually want to use it to set things up. He also surprisingly likes to lean on his wrestling, he had 11 TDs vs Oliveira. Munoz has tougher times throwing up submissions off of his back vs being the offensive grappler. In Munoz’s fight vs Maness, you could see when he wasn’t able to get the positions he’d gotten earlier in the fight as the fight went longer due to cardio/fatigue. This is another fight I think he’ll go into deep waters, and Gravely won’t change much of what he does. I can see him getting at least 5-6 TDs, with roughly 50 SS. Munoz is submission or bust, and I’m just not willing to say comfortably that I think he can get it. Oliveira is probably just as skilled in jiu jitsu as Munoz currently is. I like Gravely to get a decision win here. Munoz is a Hail Mary play, if at all in LUs. He’s a solid option for DK, assuming he racks up solid ground control, Gravely is too scrappy to stay in any one spot off of his back, so will be hard nonetheless.
PICK: Tony Gravely $16 FD ($8400 DK)
Johnny Munoz Jr $15 FD ($7800 DK)
Jeff Molina vs Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Molina returns after a solid start to his UFC campaign. His debut was last April vs Aori Quileng at UFC 261, in which he landed over 200 strikes (189 SS), and his follow up was a 2nd RD KO/TKO over Daniel da Silva this past October. So simply put he’s been very DFS friendly to start things off in his career. Zhalgas hasn’t had the same fortune, he’s 1-3 to start his UFC career and could use this win in a big way, but another solid test for him. On the regional scene Zhalgas was able to use a pretty solid wrestling/grappling gm, but to this point hasn’t translated over to the UFC level of comp. He’ll try to do the same here, but Molina is scrappy and doesn’t accept positions and should get back to his feet, I think Aori Quileng is much better in terms of grappling, and he got Molina to the ground 3 times and it didn’t matter, he got up without too much push back each time, and was still able to put up those numbers. Molina doesn’t necessarily have crazy power, it’s just the fact he puts together combinations so well that he can get KD’s & potential KO’s. He’s going to be the one dictating this one, and that isn’t a good thing for Zhalgas, especially once the wrestling becomes a non factor. Molina could certainly find another finish in this one, but if he does, it’ll come latter parts of RD 2 or 3. Manel Kape was able to blitz Zhalgas with unreal speed and his power is there. Molina has gotten better each 2 times he’s been in there, this’ll be no different, and he’ll be a solid cptn piece for FD until proven otherwise.
PICK: Jeff Molina $18 FD ($9000 DK)
Zhalgas Zhumagulov $12 FD ($7200 DK)
Rinat Fakhretdinov vs Andreas Michailidis
Rinat is getting his shot after now winning 17 straight, and sits 18-1 overall in his professional career. He’s solid anywhere the fight is, but primarily likes to dominate in wrestling with TDs until he wears on his opponents. On the feet he’s got really solid power, and will definitely dish out more volume than Michailidis in this one. Rinat just doesn’t move all too well on the feet, he’s fine kind of marching you down throwing strikes. Michailidis hasn’t impressed me at all to start his UFC campaign, he’s 1-2 overall, and seems like UFC throws him tough prospects to see where he’s at. He’s a lower volume striker, and will mix in his kickboxing as a means to that approach. Most guys he’s faced to this point have been willing to just stand and trade with him, so this’ll be his real first test with someone who’s willing to do everything. It was sort of impressive that he survived being KO’ed in RD 1 vs Alex Pereira, but it didn’t take much once Pereira landed cleanly. Rinat isn’t anywhere near Pereira in terms of technical striking though. Michailidis has shown that once he gets hurt, it’s almost the beginning of the end as opposed to weathering the storm to fight back etc. Rinat will probably get 3-4 TDs before he’ll eventually find the finish in this one. I’m not trust Michailidis with any highly touted prospects until he beats one. 2nd RD KO/TKO for Rinat incoming.
PICK: Rinat Fakhretdinov $20 FD ($9200 DK)
Andreas Michailidis $10 FD ($7000 DK)
Erin Blanchfield vs JJ Aldrich
This is a solid matchup to start the day. Blanchfield has been a problem in her first two UFC bouts and sits 2-0 as a result. I’m a big Miranda Maverick fan, so it was tough to see her get handled the way she did by Blanchfield, but also let me know that Blanchfield is ready to make her rise. She’s nonstop action, whether on the feet, or getting TDs and utilizing wrestling/grappling. Aldrich has been in the UFC since 2016, and sits 7-3 overall and is another solid test for Blanchfield. She likes to utilize TDs/wrestling as well, so will be interesting to see that part of her gm offensively if she finds success and how Blanchfield reacts. On the feet this fight is closest IMO though, and Aldrich would be wise to try and keep it there, but even so, Blanchfield will put up nice total strike numbers as well as SS. Could see minimal 80-90 SS for Blanchfield if this stays standing for the majority. She’ll get you 4-6 TDs too. I think she puts up another solid DFS outing with overall peripheral stats, because it’s tough to finish a girl like Aldrich.
PICK: Erin Blanchfield $22 FD ($9600 DK)
JJ Aldrich $8 FD ($6600 DK)
by: Chris Joseph (cmj0009)