UFC Vegas 71 Preview and Predictions
UFC Vegas 71 is set to be one of the best fight night cards of 2023. The main event features an outstanding bantamweight fight between Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili. Not to mention, ranked fighters Alexander Volkov, Alexandre Romonov, Nikita Krylov, Ryan Spann, and Said Nurmagomedov are featured on the main card. That is a lot of ranked talent for a non-pay-per-view event. The card is also heading to the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada instead of the UFC Apex which will allow more fans to attend the event.
The Vendetta Sports Media preview team is here to preview and predict each fight on the main card. Our 2023 preview records are listed below.
Vitor Petrino vs. Anton Turkalj- Light Heavyweight
James: UFC light heavyweights Vitor Petrino and Anton Turkalj are set to open the UFC Vegas 71 main card. Petrino and Turkalj are both relatively inexperienced prospects. This will be Petrino’s UFC debut after he earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS). At 25, he has the potential to string together and lengthy UFC career. Meanwhile, this will be Turkalj’s second fight in the UFC. He dropped his debut against elite prospect Jailton Almedia, but I will not shame him for that.
In this fight, Petrino will be miles better on the feet. He has quick hands, throws a lot of powerful hooks, and mixes shots to the body on occasion. I do have some concerns about him being a little sloppy, but Turkalj is not the type of fighter to expose that. Turkalj’s offensive striking is not quite up to par with Petrino’s and his defensive striking is more concerning. That means he will need to out-grapple Petrino if he wants to win this fight. I have a hard time seeing that though. Petrino has shown solid defensive grappling and has physical strength that will be useful as well. In this fight, I think Petrino will land powerful shots on the feet while defending against the grappling until he finishes the fight. I will take Petrino by second-round knockout.
Garrett: Petrino via TKO
Jerry: Turkalj via KO/TKO
Anthony: Petrino via dec
#14 Said Nurmagomedov vs. Jonathan Martinez- Bantamwieght
James: In the second fight on the UFC Vegas 71 main card Said Nurmagomedov will fight Jonathan Martinez. Nurmagomedov and Martinez are two of the top prospects in the UFC’s bantamweight division. With each fighter entering this fight on a four-fight win streak, the winner is in a prime position to see their stock skyrocket.
This is a really interesting matchup as Nurmagomedov and Martinez are both known for their elite kicks. They both throw a variety of kicks and can mix the attacks to all three levels. Traditionally, each fighter excels at staying on the outside and blasting their opponents with kicks. It will be very telling if either fighter is able to outkick the other, but that is tough to predict before the fight. The biggest difference between these two is that Martinez is better at mixing in punches to his combos while Nurmagomedov has better grappling. Although, Nurmagomedov’s grappling prowess is not as elite as those that he shares a last name with. Still, he has some offensive wrestling ability and great front chokes.
In this fight, I expect these two to throw a lot of kicks on the feet. I expect this to play out at a distance so Martinez will not see many opportunities to use his hands. I expect these exchanges to be very close. With that being said, I think Nurmagomedov’s grappling will come in handy. I would not be surprised to see him land a takedown or two to help him win a close round. Overall, I think this fight will be very close; however, I will take Nurmagomedov by decision.
Garrett: Nurmagomedov via decision
Jerry: Nurmagomedov via submission
Anthony: Nurmagomedov via decision
#6 Nikita Krylov vs. #8 Ryan Spann- 215-Pound Catchweight
James: This bout between Nikita Krylov and Ryan Spann was originally scheduled to take place at UFC Vegas 70, but it was canceled and rebooked for UFC Vegas 71. The cancellation came after Krylov became ill on fight night. Additionally, the fight became a catchweight along with the date change.
I am glad we got this fight back. Simply said, Spann and Krylov are both on two-fight win streaks and are knocking on the door of the division’s elite. Plus, this is an intriguing stylistic matchup that should make a close fight.
I think we are destined for a finish in this fight. Spann has very technical boxing combinations that carry fight-ending power. At times, he will leave his technique behind and opt to throw wild looping shots. The submission skills in his repertoire could come in handy against Krylov too. With that being said, it takes two willing participants to make a fight and Krylov will likely entertain a fast-paced bout. Krylov has good boxing as well. He is not as quick or powerful, but he can get the job done with his hands. As far as striking goes, the biggest difference between the two is that Krylov will mix kicks into his combinations. On the ground, Krylov will have better wrestling that he could use if this fight gets hectic.
It is also important to note that each fighter has defensive flaws. That only makes it harder to predict this fight though as Krylov has proven to be the more durable of the pair while Spann has proven to be the more powerful. If this two get into heavy exchange I am more confident that Spann’s power will be the deciding factor. I will take Spann by first-round knockout.
Garrett: Krvlov via decision
Jerry: Spann via KO/TKO
Anthony: Spann via TKO
#8 Alexander Volkov vs. #14 Alexandr Romanov- Heavyweight
James: The UFC Vegas 71 co-main event features a bout between Alexander Volkov and Alexandr Romanov. Usually, fight night cards have a least one fight between unranked heavyweights so it is nice to finally see ranked heavyweights instead. Albeit, I doubt this fight is super entertaining, at least the stakes will be a little higher.
Volkov and Romanov are each in different spots in their UFC careers. Volkov is an established UFC veteran with a promotional record of 9-4. Despite a win in his most recent fight, according to the rankings, Romanov will be a step down in competition. Still, Romanov is an interesting prospect that was on the upswing of his career before losing his most recent fight to Marcin Tybura. That loss pushed his UFC record to 5-1.
This fight will be a grappler versus a striker. The grappler will be Romanov while Volkov will be the striker. Romanov is a great grappler that looks to finish fights with submissions or ground-and-pound. Meanwhile, Volkov is a long striker that tries to stay on the outside and land kicks and straight punches.
In this fight, I think Romanov will be able to land takedowns and control this fight on the ground. In the past, Volkov has struggled against elite grapplers like Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall. That is not to say that he has never beaten a grappler, but he struggles against the best grapplers. The biggest issue for Romanov will be his cardio which failed him in his most recent loss to Tybura. Although, I do not think Volkov can survive long enough to make that a factor in this fight. I will take Romanov by first-round submission.
Garrett: Romanov via decision
Jerry: Romanov vis submission
Anthony: Volkov via TKO
#2 Petr Yan vs. #3 Merab Dvalishvili- Bantamweight
James: The UFC bantamweight division is on display in the UFC Vegas 71 main event as Petr Yan and Merab Dvalishvili share the octagon. Typically, in the main event previews I like to explain why I fight is important and what could happen if each guy wins. That is nearly impossible for this fight as there are a bunch of questions surrounding each fighter. The most confusing part about this fight is that Yan has lost three of his last four fights. In fairness, the first was a disqualification against Aljamain Sterling while the second two came in suspect decisions against Sterling and Sean O’Malley. Despite the losses, Yan’s talent is evident. Meanwhile, the talent of Dvalishvili is evident, but it is tough to predict what his future in the division looks like since he and Sterling, the current champion, are close friends.
This fight is a tough one to call as there are a ton of reasons to love each fighter. Yan is an incredible striker that has fight-changing power. More importantly, he has the skill to land those powerful strikes. In the grappling department, he has terrific takedown defense. Yan also has a ton of five-round experience. In five-round fights, Yan has the cardio to go 25 minutes and his power carries through the entire fight. Meanwhile, Dvalishvili is an elite wrestler who can control fights on the ground or up against the cage. Historically, he has insane cardio over three rounds. The question is if he can fight at the same pace in the championship rounds.
In my mind, I have been going back and forth on this prediction. My first thought was that Dvalishvili, Sterling’s main training partner, would be able to copy Sterling’s game plan and out-grapple Yan on his way to a decision victory. However, the key factor in that fight was that Sterling was able to utilize a body triangle to control Yan on the ground. The issue is that Dvalishvili’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not as strong as Sterling’s which makes that gameplan tougher to execute. So, in this fight, I expect Yan to defend against the grappling more efficiently. If he can do that, he should easily out-strike Dvalishvili. I will take Yan by decision.
Garrett: Dvalishvili via decision
Jerry: Yan via decision
Anthony: Yan via decision
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