UFC Vegas 66 Preview and Predictions
The UFC’s final fight card of 2022 is upon us. Thankfully, the UFC is closing the year out strong with a solid card. UFC Vegas 66 is a very good fight night card. It has a handful of ranked fighters, fights that will be entertaining, some prospects, and most importantly, a good main event. This main event is a middleweight clash between top contenders Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland as they each look to get back in the win column after dropping fights to the division’s elite. Vendetta Sports Media’s UFC preview team is here to break down and predict each fight on the main card. Our prediction records are listed below.
Cody Brundage vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk- Middleweight
James: The UFC Vegas 66 main card will open with a middleweight bout between Cody Brundage and Michal Oleksiejczuk. To be honest, I can not believe this fight is on the main card. The prelims feature a handful of far more interesting bouts. Nonetheless, we are here to break down the fight.
Brundage is coming off the best fight of his career where he landed a first-round knockout over Tresean Gore. That pushed his UFC record to 2-1 and his MMA record to 8-2. Meanwhile, this will be Oleksiejczuk’s second fight at middleweight since dropping down from light heavyweight. In his first middleweight bout, he earned a first-round knockout over Sam Alvey. In total, he has gone 5-3 in the UFC and 17-5 in MMA.
I think this fight is a tough one to predict. This is mainly because I would like to know what Brundage’s game plan is. I think he has a far better chance if he looks to take this fight to the ground. Oleksiejczuk is the better striker. His boxing is far better and he will be quicker. I think Brundage could be able to utilize his wrestling to expose Oleksiejczuk’s flaws in grappling defense. If Brundage wrestles I think he will win. I’ll take Brundage by decision.
Garrett: Oleksiejczuk via decision
Jerry: Oleksiejczuk via KO/TKO
Anthony: Brundage via KO
Drew Dober vs. Bobby Green- Lightweight
James: Drew Dober and Bobby Green are set to get into a brawl at UFC Vegas 66. This fight seems like the clear front-runner for the fight of the night. Dober and Green are both skilled lightweights that excel at putting on entertaining fights. This one should not be any different.
Dober is on a two-fight win streak with wins over Rafael Alves and Terrance McKinney. In both fights, he walked away with finish victories. These types of performances have become a regular from Dober as he has worked his way to an 11-7 UFC record. In the majority of those seven losses he either lost to elite competition or was on the wrong side of a war.
Meanwhile Green has just as much UFC experience as he is 10-8-1 in the UFC. In his last bout, he stepped in on short notice against Islam Makhachev which resulted in a knockout loss from ground and pound. An additional note with Green as that will be his return from his six-month PED suspension which came after he ingested a tainted over-the-counter supplement.
This fight will likely be incredibly close. Both fighters are solid strikers and I expect the majority of this fight will take place on the feet. These two do strike very differently though. Green will look to drownd his opponents with volume and look to outpace them. Dober has good cardio, but his attack is far less focused on volume. Instead, he will have a power advantage and will need to rely on that to win rounds. The footwork of each fighter will be the difference-maker in this bout. Green excels at staying on the outside and utilizing his strong footwork to stay out of danger. As far as grappling goes, if we see any, Dober will have the advantage. Overall, I like the power and wrestling of Dober. I will take Dober by decision.
Garrett: Dober via decision
Jerry: Dober via KO/TKO
Anthony: Dober via decision
No. 15 Alex Caceres vs. Julian Erosa- Featherweight
James: Julian Erosa is looking to break into the top 15 at UFC Vegas 66 as he fights Alex Caceres. This is Erosa’s third stint in the UFC and it is by far his more successful. Since rejoining the promotion he is 5-1. That is a massive improvement in comparison to his first two UFC stints where he went 1-4. Caceres is coming off a loss to Sodiq Yusuff, but prior to that, he was on a career run as he won five fights in a row. All in all, Caceres has spent more than 10 years in the UFC and has accumulated a 14-11 record.
Erosa and Caceres are both well-rounded fighters. Erosa has solid striking that consists of a handful of good tools. On the ground, he has solid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Caceres has begun to round out his skill set later in his career. At the beginning of his career, he proved to be a long and flashy kickboxer that excels at fighting on the outside. Later in his career, he rounded out his game with slick submission skills. In this fight, the biggest difference will be that Erosa will look to pressure with forward movement while Caceres looks to stay on the outside. I think Erosa will be able to get in Caceres’ face and land the better strikes. I will take Erosa by decision.
Garrett: Erosa via TKO
Jerry: Erosa via decision
Anthony: Erosa via decision
No. 8 Amir Albazi vs. Alessandro Costa- Flyweight
James: The next bout on the UFC Vegas 66 main card is an unusual one. In this fight, the No. 8 ranked flyweight, Amir Albazi, will fight UFC debutant, Alessandro Costa. Costa was not Albazi’s original opponent. He stepped in on short notice after Albazi had multiple fighters withdraw due to an injury. Nonetheless, Costa is being given a massive opportunity in his UFC debut.
Albazi is one of the best up-and-comers in the flyweight division. Thus far into his UFC career, he has gone 3-0 with two finishes. The most recent was his impressive rear-naked choke finish over Francisco Figueiredo. On the flip side, Costa did not get signed after his win on Dana White’s Contender. He has added another win to his resume since.
Costa is coming into this fight with a skillset that largely revolves around his BJJ. He is at his best when he is able to get the fight to the ground and control the fight. The same can be said for Albazi. The difference is that Albazi focuses more on wrestling than BJJ. He is very good at finding the takedowns needed to control a fight. The issues with Albazi are largely in his striking as there are elements of his defense that are lacking. Costa is not the type of fighter to exploit those weaknesses though. In this fight, I think the dominant grappling of Albazi will out weight Costa’s grappling. I will take Albazi by second-round submission.
Garrett: Albazi via submission
Jerry: Albazi via submission
Anthony: Albazi via submission
No. 9 Arman Tsarukyan vs. No. 12 Damir Ismagulov- Lightweight
James: The co-main event of UFC Vegas 66 between Arman Tsarukyan and Damir Ismagulov may be the best fight on the card. Despite neither being near the top of the rankings, they are each one of the better fighters in the lightweight division. Tsarukyan lost his last fight against Mateusz Gamrot by decision. I am not going to say that was a bad decision, but it could have gone either way as it was one of the closest fights of the year. Tsaruykan’s only other UFC loss came to Islam Makhachev. In total, Tsarukyan is 5-2 in the UFC. Meanwhile, Ismagulov is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC with his most impressive win coming against Guram Kutateadze.
There should be a ton of grappling in this bout. Both of these fighters are tremendous wrestlers. I expect the grappling exchanges to be incredibly close. We should see a lot of scrambles and transitions and each fighter will find success at times. On the feet, Ismagulov will be better from a distance. This is due to his jab and body kicks. Tsaruykan should be better on the inside and has more power. I think Tsarukyan will slightly edge out the grappling exchanges and land the more powerful strikes. I will take Tsarukyan by decision.
Garrett: Ismagulov via TKO
Jerry: Tsarukyan by decision
Anthony: Tsarukyan by decision
No. 3 Jared Cannonier vs. No. 7 Sean Strickland- Middleweight
James: In the main event of UFC Vegas 66 Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland are looking to get back in the win column. Cannonier and Strickland are each coming off losses at UFC 276. Cannonier lost in a championship bout against Israel Adesanya and Strickland lost against Alex Pereira. Outside of those results, each fighter has performed well. Cannonier has an 8-6 UFC record, but he is 5-2 at middleweight. The losses came against the aforementioned Adesanya and Robert Whittaker. Meanwhile, Strickland is 12-4 in the UFC and was on a six-fight win streak before his last loss.
This fight will be crucial for each fighter. Simply put, the winner will remain at the top of the middleweight division. Hopefully, this means they could get another big fight and work their way back to a title fight. On the flip side, the loser will begin to slide down the middleweight rankings. This may lead to gatekeeper status in the near future. Between the two, this would be a worse fate for Cannonier as he is 38 while Strickland is 31.
This fight will largely take place on the feet. This two are very different strikers though. Strickland is better on the outside and will look to land straight punches and teeps. This helps him manage distance and out-strike his opponent. Cannonier relies more on power and is more effective when he is able to close the distance and land powerful strikes. In this fight, the most likely outcomes are that Strickland out-lands Cannonier on his way to a decision victory, or Cannonier will land the knockout blow. I think Cannonier will be able to crash the distance and land a big shot that finishes Strickland. I will take Cannonier by second-round knockout.
Garrett: Strickland via decision
Jerry: Cannonier via KO/TKO
Anthony: Cannonier via KO