UFC Vegas 32 is primed to be a card full of fan favorites. While the main event welcomes back TJ Dillashaw from his two-year USADA suspension against surging kickboxer, Cory Sandhagen, the preliminary card is chock full of interesting match-ups, with a few good prospects mixed in. Let’s get right into breaking down these exciting fights!
Diana Belbita (13-6) vs Hannah Goldy (5-1)
Diana Belbita comes into this matchup winless in the UFC in her two appearances. Hannah Goldy lost her only UFC fight after getting her contract through Dana White’s Contender Series.
Belbita has seemingly faced a higher level of competition, with losses to Liana Jojua, Molly McCann, and Ariane Lipski on her record. The concern is that she has been prone to submission losses when unable to get a finish of her own. Against Hannah Goldy, who has zero career submission victories, Belbita should get a chance to showcase her three-inch height and seven-inch reach advantage to win on the feet, and if not, should be able to go to her own wrestling to win by top control given that Goldy is not an active submission threat. Official Pick: Diana Belbita by Decision
Sijara Eubanks (7-6) vs Elise Reed (4-0)
Elise Reed makes a short-notice UFC debut, up a weight class at 125 pounds, against Sijara Eubanks, returning to flyweight, after dropping three of her last four fights to fall to 4-4 in the UFC. Eubanks is a decorated grappler, with a solid wrestling base, who also swings bombs on the feet. Her issues come from a lack of striking nuance and the inability to dominate her opponents physically.
When facing an adept grappler or striker, Eubanks struggles to implement her game plan effectively. Elise Reed seems to have success working on the feet, and is improving her defensive grappling. She should be the quicker fighter, and much fresher, with Eubanks making a tough weight cut that she went away from in the past. Reed might be able to catch Eubanks with a head kick or overwhelm her with pressure. Eubanks would need to stick to a wrestling game plan, but her cardio back down at 125 pounds might not support that strategy for more than one round. Eubanks seems to have taken a step back, and Reed is an exciting young prospect who could surprise UFC fans with a hard-earned victory this Saturday. Official Pick: Reed by Decision
Julio Arce (16-4) vs Andre Ewell (17-7)
Julio Arce makes the move back down to bantamweight, after a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu, to take on Andre Ewell, who is coming off a disappointing decision loss to Chris Gutierrez. Ewell will have an inch height, and a five-inch reach advantage on Arce, however, Ewell has struggled with kickboxers who attack his heavy lead leg. Arce doesn’t seem to provide the same type of threat to Ewell, as Arce mainly focuses on attacking the body and head, with only six total leg strikes in his five UFC fights. Andre Ewell’s biggest drawback beyond leg kicks, is his lackluster cardio, given that he is a tall, rangy fighter making a big weight cut, it isn’t too surprising he has run out of gas late in fights.
Regardless, Arce dropping back down weight might provide cardio issues on the other side of the octagon, so Ewell’s two weaknesses might not be as accentuated in this specific match-up. Arce and Ewell have both been finished by submission, and each has four and five submission wins on their record respectively. While this could be a pure striking battle, if it gets to the mat, don’t be surprised to see either guy scoop up the neck in a scramble. Ewell should be able to use his range and jab, along with his work to the body, to break down Arce over the distance, most likely winning by decision. Official Pick: Andre Ewell by Decision
Adrian Yanez (13-3) vs Randy Costa (6-1)
Stuck on the prelims, Yanez and Costa are starring in the people’s main event, and are promising to bring a show. Normally, hot prospects don’t get matched up so early in their UFC trajectory, but these two worked together on Twitter to get the UFC to book a super fun fight. It’s the battle of Dr. Pepper vs Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, stick your flag in the ground, and get ready for a super fun matchup where we probably won’t see a lot of grappling!
Adrian Yanez has been open to counters off his own counter opportunities in the pocket, and susceptible to leg kicks in the past. Luckily, Costa doesn’t use leg kicks proficiently, and Yanez seems to be the quicker striker in this fight. Both guys are predominantly boxers, and Yanez has shown smoother timing on his combinations and precision on counters. Costa comes forward well and has shown high output and solid defense. There is no reason to believe Costa will get knocked out early, but if this fight doesn’t go to the grappling realm, where Yanez should also have the advantage, Costa may eat too many strikes and get hurt in the later rounds. Official Pick: Adrian Yanez R3 KO
Nassourdine Imavov (9-3) vs Ian Heinisch (14-4)
Nassourdine Imavov is a long, rangy striker, who has a well-rounded wrestling game, and solid front-choke attempts in sprawls. Ian Heinisch is a wrestling-heavy Muay Thai practitioner, who has an iron chin.
Heinisch came off of The Contender Series to make a splash early in his UFC career, before losing to tough names such as Derek Brunson, Omari Akhmedov, and Kelvin Gastelum. Imavov is a solid prospect, who has shown an all-around skill set, but also a questionable gas tank and fight IQ. Heinisch should be able to implement a grinding game plan if he can’t keep up from distance, and I see him winning the wrestling exchanges as the fight goes past the first round. Official Pick: Ian Heinisch by Decision
Punahele Soriano (8-0) vs Brendan Allen (16-4)
Punahele Soriano enters the octagon an undefeated prospect, recently making a successful return, knocking out Dusko Todorovic, after missing over a year due to concussion symptoms. Brendan Allen followed up a brutal TKO loss to Sean Strickland with an impressive all-around performance, earning the round one submission victory over Karl Roberson. Allen should possess the grappling advantage in this fight, also holding a three-inch height and reach advantage over Soriano. However, with the lack of subtlety in the striking of Allen, paired with Soriano’s one-punch KO power and slick sprawling hips, we could see Soriano providing a lot of problems for Brendan Allen.
Punahele Soriano has proven to have patience and timing, setting up his striking to coincide with his wrestling, with safe defensive tendencies. Allen throws less volume, with higher accuracy, but eats almost double the significant strikes per minute than Soriano does. Allen also has a poor 50% takedown defense, where Soriano has 66% accuracy on 2.6 takedowns per 15 minutes. Soriano seems well equipped to be defensive from range, and land the bigger shots, forcing Allen to shoot desperately. I predict a finish for whoever wins this fight, the more likely outcome being Soriano by KO, as opposed to Allen by submission. Official Pick: Punahele Soriano by Decision
Prelim Prediction Record: (8-1) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
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