UFC 292 Preview and Predictions
The UFC brings its last big summer card to the TDGarden in Boston, MA for UFC 292. This card features two high-profile title fights and a promising young fighter looking to continue his ascension within the sport. This card promises to deliver the action early on in the night, as this card also boasts quite a nice undercard as well, headlined by the return of a former UFC Middleweight champion. Joining me in this week’s staff UFC 292 preview and predictions are James Herrick, Anthony Miranda, and Jerry Walker. Below are our records so far this year.
No. 6 Marlon Vera vs. No. 10 Pedro Munoz (Bantamweight Bout)
James: The UFC 292 main card kicks off with a fun fight between ranked bantamweights Marlon Vera and Pedro Munhoz. Vera is looking to get back in the win column after losing a one-sided decision to Cory Sandhagen. Although, before that, he was on an impressive four-fight win streak that saw him closing in on a title fight. Munhoz is at a completely different point in his career. The 36-year-old veteran is coming off an impressive win over Chris Gutierrez in his last bout, but he is 2-3 with one no-contest in his last six.
From a stylistic perspective, Vera is one of the most unique fighters on the roster. It is interesting how he manages to throw with low volume while winning fights with his power. That is not a style that is common at bantamweight. That said, it works for Vera because he has lands clean powerful straights, and has a great left hook. In the kicking game, he throws to all three levels and mixes in unorthodox attacks.
Munhoz is a tough and durable fight that will strike for long periods. His striking game is centered around his leg kick and is supplemented with solid boxing skills.
As for any Vera fight, this is tough to call. I am leaning toward Vera because of his size advantage, however. I think his length will allow him to go kick-for-kick with Munhoz while keeping his hands involved. If he begins to flow, he could be the first man to ever finish Munhoz. I will take Vera by third-round knockout.
Garrett: Vera via decision
Anthony: Vera via decision
Jerry: Vera via decision
Da’Mon Blackshear vs. Mario Bautista (Bantamweight Bout)
James: At UFC 292, Da’Mon Blackshear will earn ‘‘BMF’ status with his bout against Mario Bautista. Blackshear took this fight on less than a week’s notice. That is not it, Blackshear made history at UFC Vegas 78 last weekend after becoming the third fighter in UFC history to win via twister. That’s right, he is fighting in back-to-back events after pulling off an ultra-rare after submission. On top of that, he has turned a corner in his UFC career after winning his last two bouts. Bautista is in a similar position, as he enters this bout on a four-fight win streak. The winner of this bout should put themselves in a great position as one of the top bantamweight prospects.
Blackshear and Bautista are both respectable grapplers. Bautista has good takedowns but excels once he gets in the top position. This can be seen in how he controls opponents and advances to a dominant position. Blackshear is more than capable of landing takedowns of his own. The main difference is that he works much harder to take his opponents. As far as striking goes, both fighters are more than capable in exchanges which helps round out their skillsets.
This bout should be fun for fans that love grappling scrambles. In that type of fight, I lean towards Bautista. I think he should be able to rack up more control time which will help him win rounds. The fact that Blackshear has to cut weight twice in two weeks certainly does not help anything. I will take Bautista via decision.
Garrett: Bautista via decision
Anthony: Blackshear via TKO
Jerry: Bautista via decision
No. 11 Neil Magny vs. No. 13 Ian Machado Garry (Welterweight Bout)
James: Ian Machado Garry considers himself the star of UFC 292. While that is up for debate, the budding superstar will look to impress the Boston crowd and continue the growth of his hype train. At a perfect 12-0 in MMA and 5-0 in the UFC, Garry has consistently grown his following while showing off his skills and solidifying himself as a top prospect in the sport.
The man in the octagon with him will be Neil Magny, who is the ultimate definition of a veteran. With a UFC record of 21-9, it is tough to find fighters with more experience. In fact, he is tied for the most fights in welterweight history and has the most wins in the division.
Garry is a great striker at using distance management to control fights. This allows him to beat his opponents with jabs and kicks while setting up powerful shots. Once he sets up powerful shots, he can land powerful strikes the finish the fight.
Magny is the definition of a grinder, largely done through clinch work. Magny is more than capable of controlling a fight up against the fence while hitting them with knees and elbows. Plus, he can use his length to stay on the outside while throwing jabs.
Garry and Magny rarely fight an opponent that can match their length. In this bout, they have similar sizes. I do believe that will favor Garry because his striking is much more advanced and he should adapt to the unique matchup better. Additionally, Garry has a judo background that will help in clinch scenarios. I will take Garry via second-round knockout.
Garrett: Garry via second-round TKO
Anthony: Garry via TKO
Jerry: Garry via TKO
(c) Weili Zhang vs. No. 5 Amanda Lemos (Women’s Strawweight Championship)
James: The UFC 292 co-main event features women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang who is looking to defend her title against Amanda Lemos. Zhang has looked practically unbeatable in her UFC tenure against anyone outside of Rose Namajunas. At 7-2 in the promotion, she has only lost to Namajunas. Outside of that, she has dominated legends and had an all-time great fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Meanwhile, Lemos has used her finishing skills to go 7-1 at strawweight and earn a title opportunity.
Zhang has a unique athletic profile for the strawweight division. The weight class simply does not have another fighter with the combination of size, strength, speed and cardio as Zhang. On top of that, she is extremely skilled. In the pocket, she is more than willing to exchange leather. Plus, she is great at using her hands to set up kicks. The biggest flaw in her game was her defensive grappling, but she has shown a lot of wrestling improvements in her last two bouts.
Lemos is a pure finisher. On the feet, she has one-punch knockout power with both hands. While her grappling is flawed, she has a great guillotine and can lands submissions.
In this fight, I like Zhang for several reasons. To start, she is much more well-rounded. I believe she can use her offensive wrestling to control Lemos in the early rounds. If it goes late, Zhang has proven five-round cardio while Lemos has suspect cardio. The only concern is that Zhang gets over-aggressive and provides Lemos the opportunity to counter a strike or find a submission in a scramble. That is not enough for me to pick her, however. I will take Zhang via third-round knockout.
Garrett: Zhang via fourth-round TKO
Anthony: Zhang via TKO
Jerry: Zhang via TKO
(c) Aljamain Sterling vs. No. 2 Sean O’Malley (UFC Bantamweight Championship)
James: In the UFC 292 main event, Sean O’Malley gets a crack at UFC gold as he fights bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. O’Malley has worked his way to a title shot after going 8-1 in the UFC with one no-contest. Ultimately, he defeated Petr Yan in a close decision to earn this title opportunity. Despite the controversial scorecards, O’Malley put his skills on full display and proved to be one of the best fighters in the division. Meanwhile, Sterling has established himself as a dominant champion with three title defenses.
As for every UFC title fight, the stakes are high, but this bout is crucial. As for O’Malley, this bout is an opportunity to take his stardom to another level. On the flip side, Sterling is looking to improve his bantamweight legacy while preparing himself for his future at featherweight.
O’Malley is a dynamic striker with great movement. In total, his toolbox of strikes and combinations is extremely deep. O’Malley is capable of throwing just about every strike in the book and he can string long combinations together. On the outside, he can stick and move while hitting his opponent with stiff straight strikes. The power and speed of his kicks present a threat as well. On the inside, he can string together combinations with straights, hooks and uppercuts. All things considered, his striking skillset is elite.
Sterling is one of the best grapplers in the UFC. This is because he has a great combination of wrestling and BJJ. This allows him to land takedowns at a high rate and control opponents with an elite body triangle. On the feet, he is a funky and unorthodox striker that usually outperforms expectations in exchanges.
The UFC 292 main event previews to be a typical striker versus grappler matchup. On the feet, O’Malley’s length will give Sterling fits and he should be able to land a lot of powerful shots. If Sterling lands takedowns, his finishing ability on the ground could end the fight. O’Malley will be a threat to land a knockout from bell to bell, but the grappling disadvantage is too much to ignore. I expect O’Malley to have bright spots on the feet until Sterling lands a takedown that finishes the fight. I will take Sterling by third-round submission.
Garrett: O’Malley via third-round TKO
Anthony: O’Malley via TKO
Jerry: Sterling via Submission
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