This weekend at UFC Vegas 24 prelims, fighters will look to make their names heard and set themselves apart from the rest of their division. Many of the smaller weight classes are showcased, and these fighters seek to put on a show for their peers in the division to keep an eye on. The card features several talented fighters and prospects expected to make waves in the promotion, and it is sure not to disappoint.
Following the Action at UFC Vegas 24 Prelims
Tracy Cortez vs. Justine Kish (women’s flyweight bout)
Tracy Cortez (8-1-0 2-0-0 UFC) is riding an eight-fight win streak that saw her earn her first two UFC wins against Stephanie Egger and Vanessa Melo by unanimous decision. Another win against a tough opponent in Justine Kish will likely get Cortez that top-15 spot that she is coveting. Cortez needs to impress, though, as she has the majority of her professional wins by decision, and finishing fights sells seats in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
Five-year UFC veteran Justine Kish (7-3-0 3-3-0 UFC) faces yet another bounce-back fight on the top slot in the prelims. She has fought big names in the past including Randa Markos and Ashley Yoder but looks to make a statement in her next fight. For her to do this, she needs to get the fight to the ground – she has not had a knockout in her pro career, and decisions have tended to go in her opponent’s favor. To save her UFC career, she needs to impress at the UFC Vegas 24 prelims.
Alexander Romanov vs. Juan Espino (heavyweight bout)
Undefeated Moldovan heavyweight Alexander Romanov (13-0-0) captured the attention of the MMA world after his forearm choke of Marcos Rogerio de Lima catapulted him near contender status. Romanov has never fought to the judges’ scorecard, and he doesn’t look to slow down against Espino. He needs to look for a knockout – Espino has been finished quick by punches before, and Romanov has the power to do it. The UFC Vegas 24 prelims are packed with good fights, and this grappling match seems to be one of them.
TUF 28 winner Juan Espino (10-1-0, 4-0-0 UFC) is one of the more interesting grapplers in MMA. He won his last fight by scarf hold choke and has reeled off seven straight wins. This is the first time Espino has faced a high-level grappler like Romanov, and so his submissions might not be available. He must get to the ground and grapple, though, because Romanov can put him away on the feet early, and Espino has the grappling skills to wrestle his way to a victory at the UFC Vegas 24 prelims.
Jessica Penne vs. Lupita Godinez (strawweight bout)
38-year old Jessica Penne is coming off three straight losses to Joanna Jedrzejcyzk, Jessica Andrade, and Danielle Taylor. Two of her previous opponents are former champions, but she needs a win to save her career. She has not fought in four years, and four straight losses would do all but send her packing. Penne must get the fight to the ground – the majority of her finishes have come by submission, and her last finish was six years ago. Without an impressive performance, her career is in jeopardy.
UFC debutant Lupita Godinez (5-0-0 0-0-0 UFC) makes the walk on the biggest stage in martial arts for the first time, and she is riding high off a unanimous decision main event win at LFA 94. The UFC Vegas 24 prelims are the first time she gets to enter the octagon, and she is looking to make the most of it when she faces Penne.
The nerves will likely be an issue, but Penne is fighting for her career, while Gomez is on a hot streak of decisions. She does have one submission win to her name, yet Penne is likely to head for the mat early. If Gomez can keep the distance, control range for 15 minutes, and pick Penne apart, she should have a happy debut on the UFC Vegas 24 prelims.
Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bartosz Fabinski (middleweight bout)
Gerald Meerschaert (31-14-0 6-6-0 UFC) seeks to rebound from his crushing loss to MMA sensation Khamzat Chimaev where he got dropped in the first 20 seconds, and previously also stopped in the first against Ian Heinisch. Meerschaert looks to take this fight to the mat early, as he has 23 submission wins in his pro career.
If he has time to work, there’s little stopping GM3 on the ground. His opponent, as well, has suffered three of his four pro losses by submission, and Meerschaert needs to win this fight to stay on the UFC roster – three straight losses won’t cut it, and he has his opportunity on the UFC Vegas 24 prelims to prove he belongs.
Polish fighter Bartosz Fabinski (15-4-0 3-2-0 UFC) wants to make the most of his second stint in the UFC, and his fight against Meerschaert provides the best chance to get the ball rolling. Even though he lost his last fight against Andre Muniz by armbar, he owns a winning record in the UFC, even on his second time around.
His last win came against Darren Stewart in Cage Warriors, and almost all of his losses have come via submission, which poses a problem against a high-level grappler like Meerschaert. He must stay on the feet and throw combos, or it will be a long night on the canvas against GM3. That’s just as well, as the UFC Vegas 24 prelims give Fabinski the spotlight he needs to shine.
Austin Hubbard vs. Dakota Bush (lightweight bout)
Austin Hubbard (12-5-0 2-3-0 UFC) faces a new opponent on short notice, but this doesn’t change his preparation – he seeks to break .500 in the UFC after a loss by rear-naked choke to Joe Solecki. Hubbard looks to do anything he can to get a win, as this fight at the UFC Vegas 24 prelims could be a career-defining moment. He is as sharp on the feet and the ground offensively, but his submission defense needs work. A win here could save his UFC career, but another loss would not look good on his record, to say the least.
Dakota Bush (8-2-0) steps in on short notice after Natan Levy dropped out of his fight due to injury, and he looks to make his mark on the promotion during the UFC Vegas 24 prelims. He is riding a two-fight win streak, both finishes at LFA. He possesses finishes on both the feet and the ground, and so this matchup with Austin Hubbard makes more sense than a late-replacement fight should. It is going to be fireworks, for sure.
Zaira Fairn vs. Josiane Nunes (women’s bantamweight bout)
Zaira Fairn (6-4-0 0-2-0 UFC) looks to rebound from consecutive losses at women’s featherweight to eventual title challengers Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson and make a name for herself in a division ten pounds lighter, but much deeper in terms of talent. Fairn looks to keep the fight on the feet, as she is vulnerable to being finished on the mat – her last two losses have come via ground and pound and triangle choke. With a strong performance at the UFC Vegas 24 prelims, she should become a hot prospect quickly.
Josiane Nunes is riding four straight finishes on the feet in Brazilian regional circuits, and she wants to prove she’s legitimate at 135 pounds. A win at the UFC Vegas 24 prelims over Fairn would do just that – five straight wins (and at least four knockouts) is incredibly impressive, and she looks to finish the fight via ground-and-pound or flush knockout. She has the power, and the UFC Vegas 24 prelims give her the spotlight she needs to put that on display.
Tony Gravely vs. Anthony Birchak (bantamweight bout)
American bantamweight Tony Gravely (20-6-0 1-1-0 UFC) is coming off a razor-thin split decision win against Geraldo de Freitas in his second UFC fight, and he looks to present an impressive showing if he is to cement himself as a legitimate fixture on the UFC roster. His first UFC fight ended in a loss. Gravely will need a win here, as all of his losses have come against current UFC and Bellator fighters. His submission defense will be key – five of Gravely’s six pro losses have come by way of submission, and his opponent possesses a high-level ground game. For Gravely to come out on top, he will need to control the fight on his own terms.
Anthony Birchak (15-7-0 2-3-0 UFC) is a veteran of the fight game, and he has seen many different promotions all across the world. The UFC isn’t new to him, though, as this fight officially marks his second stint in the promotion after fights in Rizin and other regional promotions. He remains a top-tier grappler, and that should pose massive problems for his opponent Gravely. Birchak is known for his submissions, and so expect a quick takedown and submission attempt from the Arizonian.
If Gravely is able to keep the fight on the feet, it could be far rockier for Birchak, as he lives and dies by jiujitsu. This should be a fantastic fight and is still one to watch out for on the UFC Vegas 24 prelims.
This weekend looks to be a fantastic fight card from top to bottom, and so every minute of the UFC Vegas 24 prelims should be full of fun fights. Make sure not to miss it!
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