Don’t let Dana White’s matchmaking machinations fool you, there’s still plenty at stake during Saturday’s event.
Yes, the next light heavyweight title fight appears to be unfolding as current champion Jan Blachowicz is set to meet middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in a superfight being negotiated. This news leaves Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira out in the cold as it emerged once their clash in the main event at UFC Vegas 13 was certain to determine the No.1 contender at 205 pounds.
Now the best the two veterans can hope for is to hold onto their places, with Teixeira on an impressive four-game winning streak and Santos coming back from injury for the first time since July of last year when it came to a Judges scoreboard to defeat Jon. Jones. Maybe a dominant performance or a highlight finish will push one of them back to pole position, especially if the Blachowicz-Adesanya match doesn’t come to fruition for some reason, but at the very least we should be in an entertaining brawl between the Brazilian. stars.
Speaking of retaining a spot, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski makes his 33rd appearance in the Octagon when he meets Tanner Boser at the main co-event of the night. Boser would have been 13 when Arlovski won a UFC title, and now he can add the veteran’s name to his roster as he seeks to climb into the top 10. A few months away from his 42nd birthday, Arlovski must prove a once again that the next generation of heavyweights will not use it as a stepping stone.
In another main card action, bantamweight Raoni Barcelos looks to go 5-0 in the UFC when he takes on Khalid Taha, Ian Heinisch and Brendan Allen meet in a middleweight fight that guarantees action, and Claudia Gadelha, a strawweight title contender, turns to give Yan Xiaonan her first UFC loss.
What: UFC Vegas 13
Or: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday November 7th. The six-fight preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN +, with the five-fight main card starting at 10 p.m. on ESPN + and ESPN2.
Thiago Santos contracts Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira has had problems with fast and athletic opponents in the past, which is why Thiago Santos is a logical choice here. Even in the face of stronger, heavier competition at 205 pounds, there are few fighters who can face Santos’ stand-up for 25 minutes. This includes Jon Jones, who was pushed to the limit by Santos in a tight kickboxing duel.
There are, however, a few factors that make me lean towards Teixeira. First, he’s the best all-around fighter, with a powerful jiu-jitsu game to complement his powerful knockout power. Unlike Jones, he is more likely to use all of his tools to fight “Marreta”. Teixeira is well past the point in his career where he feels compelled to prove something. He just wants to win.
Second, the athleticism gap between the two needs to be narrowed somewhat by the injuries Santos is coming back to. He tore just about everything in his left leg and partially tore a ligament in his right leg in Jones’ fight and although you can assume he did everything in his power to rehabilitate and regain its full strength, it has limits. Santos is human and he is almost 37 years old. He might start well, but if it comes to tactics and skill, Teixeira will get him beat.
So not being knocked out in the first round would be my advice for Teixeira. High level coaching, I know. The opening will be there to take Santos to the ground as the fight progresses and from there Teixeira will tire him en route to a submission victory.
To choose: Teixeira
Andrei Arlovski vs. Tanner Boser
Andrei Arlovski has a way of dragging his opponents into some unlucky fights, so his clash with the mobile and devious Boser will lead to a style clash. Weighing in just a shade of over 232 pounds on Friday, Boser appears to be a candidate to potentially move up to light heavyweights given his speed and tactics.
For now, he should be happy to dance with the bigger boys, especially an old man like Arlovski. As skillful and tough as Arlovski still is, he lost the ability to consistently pull the trigger a long time ago. There is a chance he is frustrating and ahead of Boser. It’s even more likely that Boser will make the most of a sentiment process and figure out how to penetrate Arlovski’s defenses.
Arlovski hasn’t beaten an athlete like Boser in a while. I don’t see that changing this weekend. Boser can attack from unorthodox angles and eventually he’ll grab Arlovski and knock him down.
To choose: Boser
Raoni Barcelos against Khalid Taha
Raoni Barcelos is doing himself a disservice with this return booking. The Brazilian is understandably anxious to get back into action after the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of an event in which he was supposed to fight Cody Stamann, and as he is, he had to wait almost a year to extend his streak of eight consecutive wins. .
At Khalid Taha, he faces a dangerous good-sized slugger at 135 pounds. He has a slight arm-reach advantage over Barcelos despite Barcelos being two inches taller than him. These little details could be important as most of this fight should be a stand-up affair. Barcelos is a nimble and springy kickboxer, but Taha also has speed to complement his raw power. He’s still looking for a finish and Barcelos will need to be at his peak to outperform Taha. It is a tall order after such a long layoff.
The x factor here is Barcelos’ grappling, which on paper should be higher than Taha’s. Barcelos prefers kickboxing, so it remains to be seen how much he decides to mix it up. Taha is a living dog of course, but I’ll go with Barcelos to have a smart fight and win on points.
To choose: Barcelos
Ian Heinisch vs. Brendan Allen
What a middleweight match between two potential top 10 contenders with high engines and aggressive attitudes. The old adage “be the first” will be the key here.
There’s a reason this is a choice on most betting sites because it’s not easy to separate these two when you consider what they bring to the table. Heinisch has the advantage in wrestling, but Allen is better at jiu-jitsu. Heinisch appears to have more power behind his punches, but Allen is a high volume striker who will make the most of his five-inch reach advantage. I love Heinisch’s explosiveness, but I also love Allen’s ability to win lousy.
America, I can’t lie. I have no idea of this one. My gut says Heinisch doesn’t have enough offensive juice to sideline Allen early and it’s the younger Allen who comes in strong in the later laps.
Allen by decision in what should be a big fight.
To choose: Allen
Claudia Gadelha vs. Yan Xiaonan
Why this fight is not the co-main event is a mystery. Claudia Gadelha and Yan Xiaonan are both worthy to challenge strawweight champion Zhang Weili in the future with another win and it’s a shame they are no longer featured.
There is nothing fancy about what Yan wants to do. She’s hitting at a fast pace, constantly looking to apply pressure, and she’s going to want to keep that action on her feet the entire fight. Her ground game hasn’t really been tested at UFC level and against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu beast like Gadelha I’m not convinced she can stick with her on the mat for an extended period.
Gadelha has some pop in her hands, but she won’t want to trade with Yan for three rounds. Her gas tank has betrayed her on occasion and the way Yan gets rid of, she will drain quickly. Gadelha has shown a lot of maturity throughout her career. We will see how much she will have to deal with an opponent like Yan who will face her from the first minute.
There is such a mean side to Yan, I have to favor here here. I think she controls the distance enough to force Gadelha to work for her eliminations, then retreats to the maps in turns two and three.
To choose: Yan
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