Bear in mind what we mentioned final week concerning the heavyweight roster having to attend and see what occurs with Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, and Jon Jones? Sadly, that’s nonetheless the case this week and the truth dealing with UFC Vegas 20 headliners Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane.
For the primary time in ages, the heavyweight division feels prefer it has a recent set of contenders and doubtlessly future champions (simply have a look at final Saturday’s winners Chris Daukaus, Tom Aspinall, and Serghei Spivac). However there’s a logjam on the high that must be resolved and till it does, the UFC’s heaviest weight class goes to proceed shifting at a glacial tempo.
Derrick Lewis’ knockout of Curtis Blaydes didn’t clear up the state of affairs a lot and there’s no method to inform how a lot nearer Rozenstruik or Gane get to a title shot with a win. The nice factor for the followers is none of that issues as a result of we get to observe two of the UFC’s most intriguing heavyweight contenders throw down in what may very well be a extra tactical battle than anticipated.
Within the co-main occasion, rising mild heavyweight contender Magomed Ankalaev brings a 6-1 UFC file into his matchup together with his hardest opponent but, veteran finisher Nikita Krylov. Ankalaev is poised to assert a top-10 spot, however Krylov has confronted the higher competitors within the UFC thus far and has expertise on his aspect.
Elsewhere on the principle card, Montana De La Rosa meets Mayra Bueno Silva in a duel of flyweight submission specialists, bantamweight contenders Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera conflict for a second time, always-busy strawweight Angela Hill appears to get her 2021 marketing campaign off on the correct foot when she rematches Ashley Yoder, and featherweight veteran Alex Caceres appears to carry off the unpredictable Kevin Croom.
What: UFC Vegas 20
The place: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, Feb. 27. The four-fight preliminary card begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+, with the six-fight principal card beginning at 8 p.m. ET additionally on ESPN+.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane
When it comes to placing, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane are positively extra of the tactical persuasion than the brawl-for-all kind so (gulp!) there may be some Lewis-Ngannou potential right here. I don’t imply to place that evil on this matchup, I simply wish to warn those that this may not present the type of prompt satisfaction you hope to see in a heavyweight headliner.
Neither Rozenstruik nor Gane are the kind to simply blitz, relying extra on the aggression of their opponents to create openings for counters. When these openings reveal themselves although, be careful. Rozenstruik is an correct striker with misleading hand pace, whereas Gane is likely one of the most athletic heavyweights on the earth. Both man might simply finish the combat with a single blow.
It’s the athleticism of Gane that has me selecting him to not simply win this combat, however to be a future champion. “Bon Gamin” simply strikes with a fluidity you don’t see north of 185 kilos and he has nice instincts that make up for his lack of in-cage expertise. He’ll should be at his most evasive to take care of Rozenstruik’s kickboxing experience.
This combat may take some time to ramp up, however I nonetheless anticipate to see a giant KO, and it’s Gane who will ship it within the second or third spherical.
Nikita Krylov vs. Magomed Ankalaev
How do you gauge the menace degree of Nikita Krylov? The guide on him is well-read at this level. He’s the last word glass cannon, having gone to a call twice in 33 fights, although they had been each in his two most up-to-date outings. We may very well be seeing a wiser, extra methodical “Miner.”
Nonetheless, the poor wrestling protection of Johnny Walker that Krylov exploited in March is not going to be current in his matchup with Magomed Ankalaev. Ankalaev is a robust grappler and it’s extra doubtless that he places Krylov on his again than the opposite means round. I favor him on the toes as effectively, each for his technical capability and potential to finish the combat early.
You’ll be able to by no means rely out Krylov, after all. He has a nostril for chokes and if Ankalaev is careless on the toes, it might simply as simply be Krylov who places Ankalaev down for the rely with kick or knee upside the top. This can be a traditional “don’t blink” matchup.
I like Ankalev to manage the motion early and land a ending blow someday earlier than the third spherical.
Montana De La Rosa vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
This one will come all the way down to who’s the higher grappler and that’s Mayra Bueno Silva.
Montana De La Rosa retains making advances within the standup and her floor recreation is robust, she’s simply not on the extent of Silva relating to jiu-jitsu. There’s the choice of sprawling-and-brawling as effectively for De La Rosa as she brings a stable wrestling background to her fights, however I’m not even certain that’s the correct path to take. Silva has an efficient muay Thai assault and he or she might reap the benefits of De La Rosa’s placing protection deficiencies.
Outdoors of De La Rosa grounding Silva for 3 rounds, I don’t see the place De La Rosa beats her. “Sheetara” by submission or determination.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera
Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera are higher fighters than they had been after they fought over 5 years in the past, so we are able to’t assume that the bout will unfold in the identical means. That mentioned, it was Rivera who gained on factors the primary time round and his type is tailored for defusing harmful fighters like Munhoz.
We all know what a killer Munhoz may be when he will get going. He’s blessed with a vise-like guillotine choke (which Rivera managed to evade of their first combat) and the type of punching energy that makes him a menace to complete anybody at 135 kilos. That’s in distinction to Rivera’s ability set, which revolves extra round irritating his opponents and profitable on factors.
One way or the other, I predict that Munhoz will get the job performed this time. I’m factoring within the smaller cage at UFC APEX, which is able to give Rivera just a bit much less wiggle room to work with. If Munhoz doesn’t should work as laborious to shut the space and do harm, he will get the sting this time.
Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder
Not like Munhoz vs. Rivera, I’m anticipating Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder to go very similar to the primary assembly. As enjoyable as Yoder’s aggressive grappling may be to observe, she’s not robust sufficient in that space to impose her will on Hill. And even with higher standup than earlier than, it’s nonetheless Hill’s recreation to lose on the toes.
It’s laborious not to have a look at this as a keep busy combat for Hill, who together with Yoder signed a UFC Vegas 20 combat settlement barely every week in the past. Hill needs to get again within the win column after a pair of powerful break up determination losses, Yoder needs to avenge the loss from their first assembly and steal a spot within the top-15. The motivation is there for each fighters, however Hill’s expertise with the next caliber of opponents carries her to a win right here.
If Hill can cling with the likes of Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadelha, then a pointy efficiency needs to be greater than sufficient to take care of Yoder.
Alex Caceres vs. Kevin Croom
Kevin Croom goes to shock everybody once more.
“Crash” f.ok.a. “The Arduous Hitting Hillbilly” performed the spoiler in his first UFC combat towards Roosevelt Roberts, sniping him with an overhand punch earlier than snagging a guillotine choke for the win. That was no fluke. Croom gathered loads of professional expertise previous to his UFC debut and that issues if you’re paired up with a fighter who has seen all of it like Alex Caceres.
Twenty-four fights into his UFC profession, Caceres finds himself on a uncommon profitable streak. He’s at all times been mature past his years and that has manifested itself in a tangible means in his latest performances as he’s outclassed his previous three opponents, whose mixed octagon expertise pales compared to that of Caceres.
My fear for Caceres is that he can’t match the ferocity of Croom, a confirmed finisher that’s going to make issues uncomfortable for Caceres and quick. On paper, Caceres has all of the instruments wanted to maintain Croom from getting his offense off, however there’s an urgency that Croom fights with that I feel makes the distinction right here.
Search for Croom to implement a wrestling-heavy recreation plan right here and finally faucet out Caceres.
Alexander Hernandez def. Thiago Moises
Alexis Davis def. Sabina Mazo
Ronnie Lawrence def. Vince Cachero
Dustin Jacoby def. Maxim Grishin