(#8) Ketlen Vieira (11-2) v. (#15) Miesha Tate (19-7)
Returning from a four-and-a-half-year layoff, former UFC Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate handily won in her return to the Octagon in July earning a third-round finish of veteran Marion Reneau. While that fight seemed to be a perfectly tailored comeback for Tate, 35, against an opponent on a then four-fight losing streak, Ketlen Vieira will prove to be a far more difficult task for Tate. A once highly touted undefeated prospect before her run-in with Irene Aldana at UFC 245, Vieira corrected the ship against Sijara Eubanks a little more than a year ago before dropping a decision to Yana Kunitskaya. Neither fighter is too proficient of a striker, with each having a negative significant strike differential, so I anticipate this fight taking place on the ground for a good portion. With Vieira just entering her prime and Tate hitting an age where not many Bantamweights have a great deal of success, I believe the Brazilian Vieira will win this fight
Prediction: Vieira def. Tate via decision
(#7) Michael Chiesa (17-5) v. (#11) Sean Brady (14-0)
In what surely is the People’s Main Event (and should have been the actual Main Event), undefeated Philadelphia prospect turned contender Sean Brady gets a real bump up in competition in the form of The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner Michael Chiesa. While betting lines have Brady in the ballpark of a -160 favorite, this fight is a coinflip in my head. The steam surrounding the physically imposing Brady is palpable, but the step up from fighting unranked opponents to someone who potentially would have gotten a title shot if he beat Vincente Luque just three months ago is daunting. Chiesa has won against the likes of former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos, Beneil Dariush, Neil Magny, and Carlos Condit among others. While Chiesa is a solid grappler, he has been submitted four times in the UFC and with Brady being a dangerous striker, I believe this fight will be forced to the ground at some point where Brady will submit “The Maverick”.
Prediction: Brady def. Chiesa via submission
Rani Yahya (27-10-1) v. Kyung Ho Kang (17-8)
In what may be the trickiest fight to pick all night, two relatively unsung elder Bantamweights get some shine here in the featured main card slot. Kang, 34, is riding a three-fight winning streak against lesser competition while Yahya, 36, has one loss in his last six outings. Both fighters if they are to win are likely to win via submission as they hold extremely high submission win percentages (Yahya 78%, Kang 65%).
Prediction: Yahya def. Kang via submission
(#5) Joanne Wood (15-6) v. (#8) Taila Santos (18-1)
This matchup will prove to have significant implications for who gets a crack at the Flyweight title next. Wood has been flip-flopping wins and losses since 2019, but with a win over one of the hotter prospects in the division could prove to earn a shot at Valentina Shevchenko’s title due to the fact that she is the highest ranked fighter in that division without a loss to the champ. Santos, by that logic and accounting for the jump in rankings for beating Wood, would have that same claim plus being on a then four-fight winning streak in a division severely lacking in win streaks. I think we have seen the ceiling for Wood and Santos will get the job done. While striking exchanges may prove to be interesting, Santos is the superior grappler and will grind her way to a UD.
Prediction: Santos def. Wood via decision
Adrian Yanez (14-3) v. Davey Grant (11-5)
I’m not breaking any news when I say this fight is the clear frontrunner for Fight of the Night. In the most stacked division in the UFC we have two great unranked strikers going at it in the main card opener. While “Dangerous” Davey Grant doesn’t have the most impressive overall record, he has proven to be a handful in his three-fight winning streak leading up to his last loss to Marlon Vera, viciously knocking out the likes of Martin Day and Jonathan Martinez. Adrian Yanez on the other hand is just entering his prime at 27, holding on to a seven-fight winning streak that has seen finishes in all four of his UFC/Contender Series appearances. Yanez ran into a little trouble against Randy Costa back in July of this year but turned the ship around in the second round before earning the finish. I would be shocked if this fight goes to decision, and I think Yanez will end up on top.
Prediction: Yanez def. Grant via second-round knockout
Tucker Lutz (12-1) v. Pat Sabatini (15-3)
Another close fight according to the sportsbook odds, Lutz and Sabatini is another difficult fight to pick. Lutz looked fine in both of his Contender Series outings in 2020 before officially making his debut at UFC 262 with a win over Kevin Aguilar. Sabatini has won his last four fights, two of which were in the UFC. Lutz seems absolutely massive for Featherweight and if he can impose his frame on Sabatini, I think he will wind up victorious.
Prediction: Lutz def. Sabatani via decision
Rafa Garcia (12-2) v. Natan Levy (6-0)
In this lightweight fight we have two fighters trending in opposite directions. Garcia, 27, may very well be fighting for his job in this fight as he tries to avoid an 0-3 start to his UFC career, which would likely mean getting a pink slip at some point in the very near future. Levy is an undefeated Israeli prospect who enters this fight following a year-long layoff nearly to the day since earning his contract back on the Contender Series. I always hate picking debuting fighters because of how difficult the UFC debut can be for even great fighters, but I have to side with Levy on this one.
Prediction: Levy def. Garcia via decision
Loma Lookboonme (6-2) v. Lupita Godinez (6-2)
In a clash of 6-2 fighters, strawweight’s Lookboonme and Godinez look to gain some traction on Saturday and climb closer to a relatively shallow top-fifteen. Thailand’s Lookboonme, 25, entered the UFC with very little professional MMA experience but has remained unblemished record-wise in the promotion save for a wild matchup against Angela Hill in early 2020. An eager Godinez gets set to fight for the third time in 42 days, overall making her fourth appearance for the promotion. With Godinez having gone 1-1 in the month of October, I am not sure that making another extremely quick turnaround is such a good thing for her.
Prediction: Lookboonme def. Godinez
Terrance McKinney (11-3) v. Fares Ziam (12-3)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better UFC debut than Terrance McKinney’s back at UFC 263, where he knocked out Matt Frevola in just seven seconds. While I don’t think he’ll dispose of Ziam as quickly, I think McKinney is certainly someone to watch for at 155.
Prediction: McKinney def. Ziam via third-round knockout
Cody Durden (11-3-1) v. Aoriqileng (18-8)
While sportsbooks have Durden around a -165 favorite for this bout, I am uncertain about who will win this fight. The only thing I do know is that this matchup with be an absolute scrap. Durden is looking for his first win in the promotion but has already given us a supremely interesting draw against Chris Gutierrez in August of 2020. The same is true for Aoriqileng, who proved a fight of the night deserving war in a losing effort to Jeff Molina at UFC 261. I anticipate this fight being tremendous and if Aoriqileng can even remotely clean up his historically bad defense (albeit in one outing) against an opponent who isn’t exactly known as being the Stephen Thompson of the Flyweight division, I think his sheer willpower will win him this fight.
Prediction: Aoriqileng def. Durden via decision
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (19-7) v. Sean Soriano (14-7)
Yet another coinflip of a fight to pick here in the second fight of the night. Sean Soriano makes the drop down to Featherweight to take on China’s Nuerdanbieke. While Soriano showed heart in his last fight against Christos Giagos, he is a hard to look past 0-4 in the UFC. “The Wolverine” is also winless in the UFC so somebody’s “O” has got to go!
Prediction: Soriano def. Nuerdanbieke via decision
Luana Pinheiro (9-1) v. Sam Hughes (5-3)
Kicking off the prelim opener we have the biggest favorite on the card according to many sportsbooks in Luana Pinheiro. Both fighters are nearly identical in age, reach, and height, but it is the Brazilian Pinheiro who has a win inside the Octagon. With both fighters not having a ton of fights inside the promotion, there isn’t much tape to go on for this one, I’ll side with the sports betters on this one
Prediction: Pinheiro def. Hughes via decision