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UFC 261 predictions: ‘Usman vs Masvidal 2’ early ‘Prelims’ undercard preview – MMA Root

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to ESPN + pay-per-view (PPV) with a revenge this Saturday (April 24, 2021), bringing three title fights to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the main event of UFC 261, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will face rematch rival Jorge Masvidal, who enters the fight with a full training camp after previously falling on short notice. Additionally, women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili faces former champion Rose Namajunas and flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko faces former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade.

We have nine “Prelims” undercard games this time, five on ESPN + / Fight Pass and four on ESPN + / ESPN. Let’s dive into that first batch …

135 pounds: Batgerel Danaa vs. Kevin Natividad

Mongolia’s Batgerel Danaa (8-2), who defeated future UFC contender Kai Kara-France in his third pro fight, saw a three-game winning streak come to an end in an entertaining but unsuccessful Octagon debut against Alatengheili. His next effort proved to be slightly more successful, as he tied The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Latin America” veteran Guido Cannetti with a brutal left hook.

It measures an inch taller than “Quicksand” at 5’7 “.

Kevin Natividad (9-2) put together a five-game winning streak to earn a spot in the Octagon, knocking out three of his opponents in the process. Although a COVID-19 diagnosis ruled out a planned debut against Brian Kelleher, he made his first UFC walk a month later against Miles Johns, who knocked him out with an uppercut.

He has knocked out five professional enemies and subdued another.

This is a true sleeper contender for Fight of the Night, a showdown between two thugs at close range with enough fighting skills to mix things up if need be. This is likely to come down to durability, which seems to be on Batgerel’s side. In fact, the Mongolian is as tough as he sounds, while Natividad is coming off a nasty knockout loss and was once stopped in nine seconds.

Natividad has a chance if he can make his takedowns continue steadily, but Batgerel isn’t far behind to keep him on his feet, so Natividad will likely be forced to change hands. Expect an outright fight with an abrupt ending when Batgerel turns off the lights.

Prediction: Batgerel by second round TKO

155 pounds: Rodrigo vargas vs. Zhu rong

Rodrigo Vargas (11-4) capped a 7-1 run with an 18-second knockout kick to the head over UFC veteran Mike De La Torre to secure a spot in the Octagon. However, “Kazula” continues to pursue her first promotional win, dropping a decision to Alex da Silva and illegally kneeling for a disqualification loss against Brok Weaver.

All but one of his professional victories have come within range, seven by knockout.

China’s Zhu Rong (17-3) enters the cage this Saturday after winning 10 in a row since the 2018 loss to Guilherme Cadena. He last saw action in January 2021, knocking out Bideliya in the ninth stoppage of his current streak.

You will enjoy three inches of height and a bit of reach over Vargas.

I regard Rongzhu as the most promising of the new Chinese signings – he is remarkably refined and dangerous at only 21 years old. That being said, this is far from a step backwards, as his tendency to back away against the fence seemingly opens the doors for takedowns from Vargas. While Rongzhu has a solid takedown defense and knows how to get off his back, it’s not unworkable that Vargas could run out of time with a conservative top control.

It is true that this is a pessimistic view; However, at the end of the day, Rongzhu is still the far more dangerous striker and has the tools to take down Vargas’ offense. Rongzhu’s power and drive allow him to control an increasingly one-sided strike party as his expansion and fight brings Vargas down.

Prediction: Rongzhu by unanimous decision

125 pounds: Qileng Aori against Jeff Molina

Qileng Aori (18-6) enters the cage this Saturday after winning 10 of his last 11 and avenging the only loss in that span. His current six-game win streak also saw him claim the WLF WARS bantamweight title in 2019.

The “Mongolian Killer” fights for the first time in 15 months.

Jeff Molina (8-2) went from 1-2 as a professional to 7-2 in the span of three years, resulting in a Contender Series opportunity against Fury FC champion Jacob Silva. Molina would beat Silva in three impressive rounds to secure a contract with the UFC despite the lack of an ending.

“The Boss” has subdued five professional rivals and knocked out two others.

Unfortunately for my analytical attempts, I couldn’t find any footage of Aori’s fights since 2018. From what I’ve seen, he looks like a stalking puncher with a habit of throwing from the hip, which should make the Molina highly mobile. many opportunities to land your counters. While Aori is the biggest hitter, his defensive flaws make Molina likely to hit the hard hitters.

Aori may well have made considerable strides in recent years, so ruling it out is a bad idea, but the stylistic mix is ​​too much in Molina’s favor for me to pin my hopes on that possibility. In the end, Molina pushes him away to a long distance to make a comfortable decision.

Forecast: Molina by unanimous decision

115 pounds: Liang Na vs. Ariane Carnelossi

China’s Liang Na (15-4) ran into future standouts like Liliya Shakirova, Juliana Velásquez and Mariya Agapova before assembling her current 6-1 streak. The last time he saw action in January 2021, he surprised compatriot Liu Mengnan with the fifth arm of his professional career.

Twelve of his 13 professional finals came in the first round.

Ariane Carnelossi (12-2) left behind a debut loss to Amanda Ribas with 12 consecutive victories, eight of them by knockout. Her efforts created a UFC clash with Angela Hill, who defeated the Brazilian via a stoppage cut.

This will be “Sorriso’s” first fight in 19 months.

Like Aori, I couldn’t find any more recent fights of his than 2018, but Liang seems to be one of the most determined submission artists you’re likely to see in the modern era. Shoot in seconds, even pulling the guard if necessary, before chasing after bracelets, chokes, and heel hooks with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, his style has fallen short against capable opponents, and the ultra-violent Carnelossi definitely fits the bill.

Liang surprising “Sorriso” with a quick death submission isn’t totally impossible, but between Carnelossi’s power and knockdown defense, she’s much more likely to get hit on the feet or hit from guard while searching for bracelets. Either way, Carnelossi will polish it up early.

Prediction: Carnelossi by TKO in the first round

135 pounds: Jamey simmons vs. Johnny muñoz Jr.

Jamey Simmons (7-3), who had won five of the next six, took a three-week turn to face Giga Chikadze on short notice. Though bold, the move didn’t pay off, as Chikadze put him away with a kick to the head and a grounder late in the first round.

Replaces Mark Striegl one month in advance.

After nearly a year on the sidelines, Johnny Munoz Jr. (10-1) stepped up to fight Nate Maness on short notice in August 2020. Although he managed to dominate the first round on the mat, he ultimately stayed. without strength. allowing Maness to turn the tables and make the decision.

His pro results are split 6: 2 between submissions and (technical) knockouts.

Simmons’ first fight in the UFC pitted him against a significantly larger and exponentially more experienced forward. His second pits him against a world-class submission artist with some wrestling skills.

Sometimes you are the hammer, sometimes you are the nail.

To Simmons’ credit, this time he is fighting someone closer to his size and he has a chance if Munoz’s cardiovascular problems recover again. Unfortunately for him, this is unlikely to last long enough for it to emerge. In short, Muñoz wraps his neck in the first round.

Prediction: Muñoz via first-round submission

Four more bouts of the UFC 261 undercard remain to be anticipated and predicted, including the UFC debut of CFFC featherweight champion Pat Sabatini. Tomorrow at the same time, Maniacs.

Remember it will offer LIVE coverage round by round, blow by blow of the entire UFC 261 undercard right here, starting with the first ESPN2 /ESPN + Online “preliminary” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 pm ET, then the remaining balance of the card on ESPN /ESPN + at 8 p.m. ET, before the main PPV card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN + PPV.

For the latest and greatest news and highlights from UFC 261: “Usman vs. Masvidal 2,” be sure to visit our comprehensive event archive. right here.

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