Two of the more fearsome members of Lightweight’s “new generation” duke it out this Saturday (Sept. 23, 2023) when Rafael Fiziev and Mateusz Gamrot headline UFC’s latest APEX show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bryce Mitchell looks to rebound from his first-ever defeat against Dan Ige in the co-feature, while Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson-Gomez try to snap their recent losing streaks at each others’ expense.
Six “Prelims” undercard bouts set UFC Vegas 79’s main card stage this weekend, three of which we’ve broken down below. Take a look at your leisure …
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265 lbs.: Mohammed Usman vs. Jake Collier
Mohammed Usman (9-2) defied the odds to claim victory on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 30, capping off his run with a dramatic knockout of Zac Pauga at the Finale. “Motor” then welcomed kickboxing veteran, Junior Tafa, to UFC, surviving some brutal punches to grind out a unanimous decision.
He’s the shorter man by one inch, but boasts a slight reach advantage.
Jake Collier (13-9) went from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight amid a 3-3 UFC start, then spent nearly three years on the sidelines before returning as a Heavyweight. He’s 2-5 in his newest weight class, including three straight defeats.
He’s knocked out five professional foes and submitted three others.
I’m not asking Collier to juice himself back down to 205 pounds, but weighing in at the Heavyweight limit clearly isn’t working for him. Twice in a row he’s dominated his opponents in the first round, only to steadily fall apart down the stretch. He can’t afford to be in such poor shape against Usman. That’s because bereft of what you or I would call “functional technique,” Usman has the toughness to shrug off huge haymakers and the gas tank to keep grinding well into the third round.
This really just seems like a repeat of the Buday fight, though Usman is certainly weaker than “Badys.” In short, expect Collier to dominate early with his superior striking craft before fatigue allows Usman to consistently tie up and neutralize him for a narrow decision win.
Prediction: Usman via unanimous decision
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
115 lbs.: Mizuki Inoue vs. Hannah Goldy
Mizuki Inoue (14-6) made the jump from Invicta to UFC in 2019, announcing her arrival with a narrow decision over Wu Yanan. Then came Amanda Lemos, who out-muscled Inoue en route to a one-sided decision win.
This marks her first fight in three years.
A decision over Kali Robbins earned Hannah Goldy (6-3) her fifth straight win and a UFC contract in 2019. She’s 1-3 in the Octagon, the lone win an upset armbar against Emily Whitmire.
She stands one inch taller than Inoue, but gives up three inches of reach.
As dazzling as Inoue could be, her lack of size and shaky takedown defense kept her from utilizing her rapid-fire boxing to its full potential. While there’s no telling if she fixed those issues during her time away (though one would hope so under the tutelage of Ray Longo), even the 2020 incarnation of her is too much for Goldy. “Queen of Sparta” was decisively out-struck in her three UFC defeats and I’d deem Inoue a better boxer than at least two of those women.
I just don’t see what Goldy has to offer in this matchup. And as yoked as she is, I don’t believe I’ve seen her actually use that strength to physically overpower people like previous Inoue opponents. In the end, Inoue should be just too fast and sharp for her, so expect a one-sided victory.
Prediction: Inoue via unanimous decision
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC
135 lbs.: Tamires Vidal vs. Montserrat Rendon (5-0)
Wins over Martina Jindrova, Ailin Perez and Queila Braga brought Tamires Vidal (7-1) to the Octagon in 2022. There, she announced her arrival by stopping Ramona Pascual with a flying knee for her first-ever (technical) knockout win.
Her two other stoppage wins came via submission.
After picking up wins in Combate Global and Freedom Fight Night, Montserrat Rendon (5-0) made the move to Invicta in 2022. Her lone appearance in the promotion saw her narrowly edge out Brittney Cloudy for a split decision win.
“Monster” stands two inches taller than Vidal at 5’8.”
I’m not sold on Vidal quite yet. She had nothing for Perez when they fought, only emerging victorious thanks to Perez’s insistence on fouling at every opportunity, and Pascual was darn close to the bottom of the barrel. That said, I’m flat-out not impressed with Rendon, a woman 10 years Vidal’s senior who’s seemingly still in her developmental phase. Vidal is the more powerful woman and seemingly holds an edge in Rendon’s preferred clinch; given “Monster’s” lack of finishing skills, that leaves her precious few options with which to claim victory.
What Rendon does have, however, is a knack for winning questionable decisions thanks to her high-volume striking. That could be enough to win the day if Vidal can’t consistently get hold of her, but I like Vidal to exploit Rendon’s wonky footwork, find the clinch, and grind her out from the top for a wide decision win.
Prediction: Vidal via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Vegas 79 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including what could be a banger between Tim Means and Andre Fialho. Same time tomorrow.
LIVE! Stream Noche UFC On ESPN+
INAUGURAL NOCHE UFC EVENT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing an action-packed card to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Sept. 16, 2023, to celebrate Mexican Independence Day with a thrilling women’s Flyweight championship rematch between champion Alexa Grasso and No. 1-ranked contender, Valentina Shevchenko. In Noche UFC’s co-main event, all-action Welterweight standouts, Jack Della Maddalena and Kevin Holland, will hook ‘em up in a fun 170-pound showdown.
Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 79 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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