Rafael dos Anjos and Rafael Viziev cross paths at just the right time.
Saturday’s UFC Vegas 58 doesn’t have just two of the best light weightlifters in the world – “RDA” being the first. Seventh place in the world rankings for MMA Fighting, Fiziev No. 10 – But two contenders who could knock on the door for the title shot with an unforgettable performance.
Dos Anjos, the former UFC champion, has always maintained that even as his 38th birthday approaches, he hasn’t given up yet again to compete for the belt. After a 170-pound run that saw him vie for the interim gold medal, the veteran Brazilian went 2-0 since dropping in weight. If he tackles Fiziev, he will line up for a higher-ranked challenge in the near future.
The dangers that Physiev faces are clear. Last December’s stunning knockout Brad Riddle gave him a featured victory over the top 15 opponents and high-quality names like Bobby Green and Renato Moicano were also part of his five-fight winning streak, but toppled a fighter who had already held the title in the deepest MMA division? You can only mark it in the top 5 discount after that.
In another key card move, promising middleweights Caio Boralho and Armin Petrosyan meet in a clash of styles, bloated blueweight Said Nurmagomedov faces his biggest challenge yet at Douglas Silva de Andrade, Jared Fandera and Chase Sherman look to stop their slide, Cynthia Calvillo welcomes Nina Nunes is in the flyweight division, and Michael Johnson appears for the 26th time in the UFC when he fights Jamie Mullarkey in a lightweight bout.
what or what: UFC Vegas 58
where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
when: Saturday 9 July.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael dos Anjos. Rafael Viziev
Few of the fighters in the game are more perfect than Rafael dos Anjos, but will that be enough to defuse the dangerous Rafael Viziev?
“RDA” would not shy away from spare scrap, even given Fiziev’s well-deserved reputation as an infinitely creative striker. The former lightweight champion has a great boxing himself, and it is not possible to outsmart Viziev on his feet. However, as most people expected, Dos Anjos is best served confused in his grappling on the top shelf to prevent Fiziev from getting into his comfort zone.
From what we’ve seen, Fiziev has the takedown defense to keep this fight where he wants it, even though he’s never faced an opponent with a combination of Jiu-jitsu’s experience and expertise. Not only does he have to prove he can stay upright, but he can scramble and come back in case Dos Anjos takes him down.
There’s an eight-year age gap here, which also translates to a math gap in Physiev’s favour, which is why I like his chances. It has yet to be tested in a pentathlon, but the early damage he does in this fight should make up for any heart advantage that dos Anjos might have in later rounds. It would be a converging – and possibly controversial – set of scorecards, but De Viziev won the decision.
Cayo Boralho vs. Armen Petrosyan
Let’s not overthink: This is the classic gladiator vs. match striker.
Cayo Boralho is a Dimian Maya-tested Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt with a ground game that focuses equally on damage and position. Armin Petrosyan is an accomplished striker (as his name suggests, although he’s not actually related to the famous Petrosyan brothers in kickboxing Giorgio and Armin) and showed great poise in his UFC debut against Gregory Rodriguez, which was just his eighth MMA match.
If this guy stays on his feet, it will be fun as Borralho has the magic of hacking flashy hits even if it means deviating from his platform. You have to lean towards the more technical Petrosian in this scenario.
Petrosyan’s defense wasn’t great against Rodriguez and he may have been lucky to get out of that confrontation with a divided gesture. Had Rodriguez mixed martial arts more, Petrosyan would not have made the judges’ decision. Don’t expect Borralho to make the same mistake.
Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Said Nurmagomedov
Said Nurmagomedov has not shown many significant weaknesses in his UFC career so far, but he has struggled to fight from the back foot. This is something that aggressive Douglas Silva de Andrade could benefit from.
In defense, Nurmagomedov is able to land devastating counters, but once the distance is completely closed, he can get rough on the inside. Fortunately for him, he also has strong wrestling so he can change the look of the fight in this way if Silva de Andrade makes this person a mess. And if Nurmagomedov keeps Silva de Andrade in his net, he will come to a decision.
Silva de Andrade only lost to the high-quality 135ers, a list that includes none other than Petr Yan and Rob Font. Nurmagomedov’s talent is on par with those names, but additional equipment must appear to deal with offensive minds Silva de Andrade.
My expectation for this convincing bantamide weight rivalry is that Nurmagomedov is showing more of his wrestling to keep Silva de Andrade in check and fatigue, setting him up for a late submission.
Jared Vandera vs. Chase Sherman
Jared Fandera and Chase Sherman standing on the walls.
In his past five matches, Vandera has been 1-4. On the flip side, Sherman lost four fights in a row and was recently released before being promptly reinstated to serve as short-term rival to fearsome Alexander Romanov last April. In short, these guys need to win.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the more thorough Vanderaa could gain the decision by jabing and threatening Sherman with takedowns. But conventional wisdom is boring, so I choose chaos. Sherman chose to throw caution to the wind and let his hands go to turn this fight into festivities.
At this point, being such a heavyweight, it’s been neglected, but Sherman is the most proven knockout artist and I expect the combo to be solidified on Saturday. It could happen 30 seconds into the first round or with 10 seconds left in the third, all I know is I have a feeling Sherman surprises the skeptics with a big header.
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Nina Nunes
This is a lightweight fight where the fighters didn’t put themselves through the rigors of extreme weight reduction and more power to them for it.
Cynthia Calvillo was a legitimate competitor at 115 pounds, but she repeatedly tripped over the scale and made the wise decision to jump to 125 pounds. Nina Nunes made her UFC debut at 125 pounds after a solid straw run that included victories over Claudia Jadeleha and Angela Hill, as well as a competitive loss to Tatiana Suarez (who has not fought since) in June 2019.
I’ve always believed in the possibilities of Calvillo. She brings an aggressive wrestling style to the cage and has decent pop in her hands even if her amazing style doesn’t quite stack up to the best in any of the divisions she’s competed in. This includes Nunes, which have always been sharp in the feet and difficult to get rid of. You’ll frustrate Calvillo by controlling the distance and raising the volume in the second half of the fight.
However, I don’t see Nunes stopping Calvillo’s takedowns for three rounds. Calvillo is a busy fighter on the ground too, so you’ll collect tons of points in your scorecards on the way to winning your much-needed decision.
Michael Johnson vs. Jimmy Mullarkey
Fight Michael Johnson and beat the best players. On Saturday, he had a sophisticated stout standing up to him, the kind of challenge he hasn’t faced since he was positioned as the first opponent of Justin Gaetje in the UFC. Jimmy Mullarkey is known for his constant pressure and will try to beat Johnson.
The more experienced Johnson always has quick hands and good knockout power, but I’m curious to know his reaction if his best shots don’t drive away Mularkey early. Molarkey makes excellent use of head movement to move the target point as he walks forward, then knows when to smell blood. The longer this fight lasts, the more you can expect Molarkey to gain confidence and walk away.
Look for Mularkey to beat Johnson’s strong start and find the finish in the third round.
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