UFC On ESPN 15 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar
Edgar is dropping down another weight class to fight at bantamweight at a time when there have been signs that the ageing process has finally been catching up to the 38-year-old, with the first two losses of his career due to strikes having come in the last couple of years, and both in the first round.
By no means does that mean Edgar is now shot though as he’s still in great shape and has the well-rounded skill-set primarily based on volume boxing and very good wrestling that’s helped him stay at the top-end of whatever division he’s been fighting in for the majority of his 13-year run in the UFC.
Despite now being two divisions down from lightweight, where he was once champion, Edgar is still likely to find himself outgunned in terms of sheer power in this fight as Munhoz has finished the likes of Cody Garbrandt and Bryan Caraway in the recent past via strikes, though in general it’s submissions that have been his biggest route to a finish over the year.
I can’t see Munhoz having any joy tapping out Edgar though as he’s too well versed and experienced of a grappler to fall for his opponent’s favored guillotine choke submission.
An interesting extra wrinkle to this match-up is that Munhoz had Covid-19 last month, and though it might not have had much of an effect on him, it does leave question marks about how his cardio will shape up if this ends up being a hard fought five rounder.
I think Munhoz may be able to get the job done before that even becomes an issue though. Even at his very peak, Edgar wasn’t immune to getting rocked in big fights – his two battles with Gray Maynard in particular spring to mind – so with his chin now a bit more fragile and after undergoing another significant weight cut for the first time, I think Munhoz may well end up securing a second round stoppage here.
Pedro Munhoz wins by TKO in Rd2
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield
OSP’s curious career continued last time out when he stepped up to heavyweight for a single fight and lost in a dull split-decision verdict against Ben Rothwell, and now he’s back down to light-heavyweight to fight a short-notice opponent in Menifield.
Saint Preux will welcome the fact that he’s got a 3″ height and 4″ reach advantage here, but he’s the kind of fighter who’s never fully brought his physical and athletic gifts to bear and instead has opted for a low-output approach from range that’s mostly based around kicks. His ground game is more solid and his knack for delivering von-preux chokes will always be a feather in his cap, giving the sense that it’s his grappling that he should be focusing on more often.
Menifield is someone who fights with much more purpose and he’s a big hitter, with all nine of his victories to date having come in the first round. However, as is often the case with that type of fighter, he can start to fade and become less of a threat if he doesn’t secure an early stoppage.
With that in mind I think OSP’s slower paced approach could pay dividends here as he’s not easy to put away and could capitalize on his opponent’s depleted energy reserves later in the fight, either to edge the action on the feet to get a decision victory, or to take him down and find a submission.
Ovince Saint Preux wins by submission in Rd2.
Marcin Prachnio vs. Mike Rodríguez
Given that both fighters here are on the verge of being cut after struggling to find wins in the UFC its hard to understand why they’ve landed such a prominent spot on tomorrow night’s card.
Both men are strikers who have proven in the past to have finishing power, and on this occasion, despite there only being an inch in height between them, Rodriguez will have no less than 8.5″ in reach over his opponent.
That could spell trouble for Prachnio as he has serious defensive lapses at times and has also been finished in the first round in his last two bouts, so he’ll have to be very wary about how he closes the distance here.
Rodriguez suffered a 69 second KO last time out too, but generally speaking he’s more defensively sound than his opponent and that big reach advantage will help him to keep Prachnio at the end of his punches, and I think that could lead him to an early KO victory here.
Mike Rodriguez wins by KO in Rd1.
Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson
In all honesty this is far from a stellar main card and is not helped by mismatches like this, which sees a promising 23-year-old prospect Agapova, whose on a three-fight winning streak, going up against a fighter in Dobson who is hanging onto her place on the roster by a fingertip after losing her last three fights, including being KO’d in 40 seconds in her last Octagon outing.
In fact, Dobson has only mustered a 3-4 career record overall, while Agapova is currently 9-1, so it should come as no surprise that I expect Agopova to be holding all the aces here, whether on the feet or on the mat as she overwhelms the out-of-her-depth Dobson and taps her out in the opening round.
Mariya Agapova wins by submission in Rd1.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Takashi Sato
Rodriguez heads into this one riding an eight-fight winning streak, including two wins in the Octagon so far, but Sato has a solid record too, so this should be a good competitive match-up.
I’d expect this one to largely play out on the feet and of the two D-Rod should have the greater one-punch power, but Sato is perhaps a little slicker on the feet with good counter-striking and should be quicker to the punch too.
Sato has a lot of stoppages on his record too, and while it remains to be seen whether he can maintain that at a higher level, I think his measured approach could give him the edge here and will end a very competitive scrap in the second round via TKO.
Takashi Sato wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Amanda Lemos vs. Mizuki Inoue
Austin Hubbard vs. Joe Solecki
Ike Villaneuva vs. Jorge Gonzalez
Timur Valiev vs. Mark Striegl
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Carlton Minus