UFC Vegas 35 Preview And Predictions
The summer for the UFC has been absolutely flying by with banger card after banger card, and the train doesn’t stop here. Live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas is UFC Vegas 35, headlined by Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze. This entire card from top to bottom is littered with gems. Does Barboza continue his tear through the Featherweight division, or does Chikadze prove he truly is among the rising contenders at 145 lbs? We break down the main card for you here.
Makhmud Muradov (25-6) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (32-14) – Middleweight
It’s a shame that somewhere along the line, Gerald Meerschaert’s body kind of stopped caring about itself, and his durability walked right out the door. At his peak, 2017-2018, he could take your best shot and continue to walk you down with ferocious striking and wicked grappling. But I guess after 46 professional fights, that’s what happens to you. Makhmud Muradov is simply the better wrestler, the better striker, and has superior punching power. This fight shouldn’t last too long. Muradov demolishes Meerschaert with something brutal and does it early. Muradov via 1st round TKO.
Andre Petroski (5-1) vs. Micheal Gillmore (6-3) – Middleweight
In case you missed out on TUF this season, let me give you a brief recap on Micheal Gillmore. While training for a fight with Gilbert Urbina, Team Ortega’s Miles Hunslinger tore his MCL. He tried to power through the injury but wisely decided that it would be best for his health to drop out. Dana White lied to the fighters and the coaches about the injury, telling them the injury wasn’t too bad and he was punking out of the show. He brought in Micheal Gillmore, who impressed the boss when he told him he quit his job to pursue MMA. What a story.
None of that matters here.
Gillmore is not good. I mean, he is bad. His three pro losses are by submission, and it’s ugly. While Petroski might not have an elite gas tank, he should have no problem getting this fight to the ground and tapping Gillmore. A cakewalk. Petroski via 1st round submission.
Kevin Lee (18-6) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (15-2) – Welterweight
One of the most intriguing fights on the UFC Vegas 35 main card.
It has been a rough few years for “The Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee. He has lost 4 of his last 6 fights and has torn his ACL twice during that span. Once thought of as one of the best 155lbs in the world, he has seemingly come crashing back down to earth. The move to Tristar Gym, one of the best gyms in the world, just hasn’t seemed to pay off for Lee. With Daniel Rodriguez, you have a guy who has looked quite good during his UFC run, going 5-1, including a win over Mike Perry. I am rooting for Kevin Lee, I am, but the size difference and the pace put on by Rodriguez might be too much for Lee to handle. On the record, I want Lee to win, but for these picks, I must go against my heart. I’m sorry, little one. Rodriguez by unanimous decision.
Ricky Turcios (10-2) vs. Brady Hiestand (5-1) – Bantamweight
Both of these men put on absolute clinics during their time in the TUF house. Ricky Turcios’ relentless pace and offensive output made him a matchup nightmare, while Brady Hiestand showed tremendous heart and an ability to preserve all while being barely old enough to drink. This fight will be decided on two fronts. One, can Turcios turn his tremendous cardio into a weapon and find a way to utilize it in a game plan to wear out Hiestand? Two, can Hiestand find a way to drag Turcios down to the mat and grind out a win or find a submission? I actually like Hiestand here. While writing this, I was going back and forth, but give me the upset. Hiestand via split decision.
Bryan Battle (5-1) vs. Gilbert Urbina (6-1) – Middleweight
For those who are wondering, this wasn’t the original TUF Finale. Team Volkanovski’s Battle was originally supposed to fight Tresean Gore before tearing his knee up. Urbina, who lost to Battle to get to this spot, gets the call to fight in the Finale. I don’t think there’s a lot to preview here. We have a guy who Volk predicted would win the entire show in Battle and a guy who lost during the show. Next. Battle via unanimous decision.
Edson Barboza (22-9) vs. Giga Chikadze (13-2) – Featherweight
God, I hate 6 fight main cards. Have I ever said that before? UFC Vegas 35 tortures me.
If you have never seen Giga Chikadze fight before, I urge you to watch some highlights of his, especially his fights with Omar Morales and Cub Swanson. The depth of his striking pedigree is world-class, dare I say some of the best in the division. We all know the title of best boxer in the UFC belongs to Max Holloway, but Giga is up there. You could make the case that Guga could walk Edson Barboza down for 25 minutes and absolutely batter him. There’s just one problem with that:
Edson Barboza is a hell of a lot meaner and a hell of a lot tougher than anyone he has ever fought before. Few fighters have gone through hell and back inside the octagon in the manner in which Barboza has gone through. He simply refuses to fight. We know Barboza can walk through fire and escape the other side, but can Giga? We haven’t seen him tested quite like that before. I think that if Giga can keep the pace and find his range early on, it will be a slugfest with Giga getting his hand raised at the end. Chikadze via 5th round TKO.