UFC Vegas 63 Preview and Predictions
The UFC is back in Las Vegas, Nevada, with UFC Vegas 63 after taking a trip to Abu Dhabi for UFC 280. This card is stacked with fun fights which should be entertaining scraps. The best example of this is the main event between elite featherweights Calvin Kattar and Arnold Allen. I am joined by Garrett Burroughs, Chris Chick and Jerry Walker to break down and predict each fight on the main card.
- James: 41-30
- Garrett: 43-28
- Chris: 22-12
- Jerry: 12-9
No. 13 Dustin Jacoby vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. — Light Heavyweight
James: Dustin Jacoby is currently the No. 13 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC, making him the only ranked fighter competing at UFC Vegas 63 not in the main event. Jacoby is currently on his second stint in the promotion and has been terrific since rejoining — he has gone 6-0-1 in the span. His opponent will be light heavyweight veteran Khalil Rountree Jr. Rountree has had 11 of his 15 fights come in the UFC octagon and has gone 6-4 with one no-contest in those bouts. As of late, Rountree has won his last two fights which have made people forget about his two-fight losing skit that came prior to that.
Jacoby and Rountree are both solid strikers that get most of their work done on the feet. Jacoby is a very technical kickboxer that is strong offensively and defensively. Rountree is less technical, but he is a violent finisher that has a lot of power. Another important detail is that Jacoby has better cardio out of the pair. Unless Rountree is able to get an early knockout this fight should lean in Jacoby’s favor. I will take Jacoby via decision.
Garrett: Jacoby via decision
Chris: Rountree via second-round knockout
Jerry: Rountree via knockout
Josh Fremd vs. Tresean Gore — Middleweight
James: Josh Fremd and Tresean Gore are two fighters that had a decent amount of hype upon entering the UFC. Fremd was signed to the promotion after an impressive string of finishes on the regional scene which was capped by a rear-naked choke finish on Dana White: Lookin’s for a Fight. Meanwhile, Gore was a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter Season 29. Gore made it to the season finale but was forced to pull out of the fight due to an injury. Despite that, Gore was still rewarded with a UFC contact.
Both fighters are winless in the UFC as Fremd dropped his short-notice debut to Anthony Hernandez while Gore lost to Bryan Battle and Cody Brundage. Fremd does have more experience in his career as he has a 9-3 record in comparison to Gore’s 3-2 record.
This fight is easy and tough to predict at the same time. Thus far into their careers, Fremd has looked better than Gore. The issue for Gore is that he has a lot of solid striking skills, but he strikes with very low output — likely due to his lack of experience. Meanwhile, Fremd is a more well-rounded fighter and has more experience. The breakdown makes it seem like Fremd is the easy pick. The issue is that Gore can easily win this fight if he puts his skills together and begins to reach his potential. I am not confident that will happen so I will take Fremd by decision.
Garrett: Gore via TKO
Chris: Fremd via decision
Jerry: Gore via decision
Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Jared Vanderaa — Heavyweight
James: Waldo Cortes-Acosta and Jared Vanderaa are each at very different stages in their careers. On the one hand, you have Cortes-Acosta who is making his UFC debut after earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series. Cortes-Acosta has impressed thus far in his short career as he has accumulated a professional record of 7-0.
On the other hand, Vanderaa seems to be on the downswing of his UFC career. In total, Vanderaa is 12-9 in professional MMA, but he has gone 1-5 with four of those losses coming by submission in the UFC. If Vanderaa does not get a win at UFC Vegas 63 there is a good chance that he gets cut from the promotion. Interestingly, despite being at vastly different points in their careers Vanderaa is one year younger than Cortes-Acosta as the pair are 30 and 31, respectively.
I have one question about this fight, will Vanderaa use his grappling? I would love to know the answer to that question. In theory, Vanderaa should be able to utilize his Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt to control or submit Cortes-Acosta. This would help neutralize the boxing of Cortes-Acosta. However, in Vanderaa’s last fight against Chase Sherman, he was facing a similar stylistic challenge and he opted to stand and trade with Sherman. If he does the same with Cortes-Acosta, it will be a long night for Vanderaa as Cortes-Acosta is a powerful boxer. If Vanderaa did not utilize his grappling in the past, I doubt he does in this fight. I will take Cortes-Acosta by first-round knockout.
Garrett: Cortes-Acosta via decision
Chris: Cortes-Acosta via first-round knockout
Jerry: Cortes-Acosta via knockout
Tim Means vs. Max Griffin — Welterweight
James: The co-main event of UFC Vegas 63 will feature a bout between Tim Means and Max Griffin. This bout is set to be a scrappy fight between two tough fighters. Means is an established UFC mainstay since joining the UFC in 2014. In that time, Means has gone 12-8 with one no-contest. Meanwhile, Griffin is 6-7 in the UFC. Recently, both fighters have been successful as they have gone 3-1 in their last four.
Both of these fighters are tough and durable boxers. Means deviates from boxing more often as he works well from the clinch. However, while the two are in boxing exchanges Griffin will have far more power. That is concerning to me as Means did not look great in his loss to Holland. I think it is getting to the point where Means is beginning to slow down. If that is the case, Griffin should be able to land a powerful strike that takes Means out. I will take Griffin by second-round knockout.
Garrett: Griffin via TKO
Chris: Griffin via second-round knockout
Jerry: Griffin via decision
No. 5 Calvin Kattar vs. No. 6 Arnold Allen — Featherweight
James: The main event of UFC Vegas 63 is incredible. Ranked featherweights Calvin Kattar and Arnold Allen are set to clash in a bout that has fight of the night written all over it.
On top of that, this exchange will greatly affect the UFC featherweight rankings. Kattar and Allen are currently ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. The winner will be looking at potential fights against top-five featherweights as they near closer to the title while the loser will be forced to fight a member of the up-and-coming featherweights.
For Allen, this bout will be the biggest opportunity of his MMA career. Allen, 28, has worked his way to an 18-1 MMA record, including a 9-0 UFC record with wins over Dan Hooker, Sodiq Yusuff and others. In this stretch, Allen has displayed the skills of a future title challenger.
Meanwhile, Kattar has fought some of the toughest fighters in the featherweight division. This has yielded mixed results as Kattar lost in dominant fashion against Max Holloway while dropping decisions to Josh Emmett and Zabit Magomedsharipov. At the same time, he defeated Giga Chikadze, Dan Ige and Jeremy Stephens. Overall, Kattar sits at 23-6 professionally and 7-4 in the UFC.
This fight is very intriguing and hard to call as the majority of it will take place on the feet. This is natural as both fighters are terrific strikers. Kattar is a tremendous boxer who throws a lot of different combinations that are all effective in attacking both the head and body of his opponent. Kattar’s striking is led by his jab which is possibly the best in the division. He can follow that jab with his long and powerful straight right. Outside of those strikes, Kattar throws above-average hooks, overhands, and uppercuts. Plus, Kattar throws vicious elbows that deliver a lot of damage.
Despite Kattar’s tremendous striking, Allen is just as good on the feet. Allen too has great boxing combinations, but he is slightly different than Kattar. The key to Allen’s offense is his lightning quick hands that hurt his opponents. Plus, Allen often finds success by blitzing his opponents with a lot of strikes. Lastly, Allen will work in a variety of kicks which are not flashy, but typically effective.
This fight is tough to predict. I could see both fighters being very successful in this fight. The major difference in my eyes is Kattar’s five-round experience. Kattar has been in four five-round UFC fights while this is Allen’s first. In addition, Kattar’s power may limit Allen’s ability to enter the pocket with long combinations. I will take Kattar by decision. I would like to emphasize that I expect this bout to be close and competitive. Do not be surprised if this is on the shortlist for fight of the year.
Garrett: Allen via decision
Chris: Allen via second-round knockout
Jerry: Kattar via decision