UFC Vegas 31 takes place this weekend at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, as Islam Makhachev faces Thiago Moises in his first-ever promotional main event.
Makhachev is on a seven-fight win streak, with his most recent victory coming against Drew Dober by third-round submission at UFC 259. Moises is on a three-fight winning run, most recently defeating Alexander Hernandez by unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 20.
UFC Vegas 31 also features a co-main event fight between Marion Reneau and former bantamweight queen Miesha Tate, who will be returning to the Octagon after a five-year hiatus. ‘Cupcake’ retired from the sport following her defeat to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in 2016.
The main card also features a lightweight bout between Jeremy Stephens and Mateusz Gamrot, a middleweight fight between Rodolfo Vieira and Dustin Stolzfus, and a featherweight fight between Gabriel Benítez and Billy Quarantillo.
Islam Makhachev vs Thiago Moises
Islam Makhachev currently sits at the number 9th spot in the rankings, but he will surely be looking at someone in the top five should he beat Moises, who’s an extremely talented young man.
They are both primarily grapplers, but their skill set is very diverse. Makhachev is very explosive and unpredictable on the feet, but also very calculated at the same time. He doesn’t throw a lot of strikes and absorbs even less. Moises isn’t a high-volume striker either, but he does absorb a lot more strikes than Makhachev, who will probably have the better of the striking exchanges come fight night.
That being said, the fight won’t stay on the feet unless both fighters throw their gameplans out of the window. Makhachev is one of the finest grapplers in the UFC right now and will be looking to take the fight to the ground at the first chance he gets, but like all BJJ black belts, Moises has a very tidy submission game and will land Makhachev in trouble if he’s not careful.
It’s going to be a very exciting fight, and we should expect a lot of grappling action.
Marion Reneau vs Miesha Tate
Miesha Tate hasn’t fought for five years and has spent a significant amount of time outside of the gym, therefore, nobody knows what version of her will show up at UFC Vegas 31. But assuming that the best versions of Tate and Marion Reneau show up this weekend, we are in for some really exciting action.
Tate is primarily a grappler and a very aggressive one, but so is Reneau. They both love taking the fight to the ground and finishing it there. Both fighters have multiple submission wins to their name, so if the fight goes to the ground, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Tate will still have the edge as her grappling skills are elite. however.
Reneau has the edge in the striking department as she’s more active and willing to exchange. She mixes her strikes up really well and is faster than Tate. Reneau is also very durable as she has never been finished. If the fight stays on the feet, Reneau will have the edge.
Jeremy Stephens vs Mateusz Gamrot
This will be Jeremy Stephens first fight at lightweight since 2012. He’s a veteran of the sport and has spent most of his career fighting at featherweight, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in his new weight division, without having to cut down to 145lbs. He will surely have more power with the same sort of aggressive brawling style that he possesses.
But standing in his way is the highly-touted prospect from Poland, Mateusz Gamrot, who’s 18-1 (1-1 in the UFC). Gamrot has crisp boxing and mainly targets his opponents’ heads. Both men are similar in the way they headhunt their opponents, which means we are in for an exciting fight at UFC Vegas 31. Don’t be surprised if this one takes the FOTN award.
Rodolfo Vieira vs Dustin Stolzfus
After a shocking submission loss at the hands of Anthony Hernandez, BJJ world champion Rodolfo Vieira will be looking to rebound against Dustin Stolzfus, who’s a smart submission grappler in his own right.
While neither fighter is world-class when it comes to striking, Stolzfus has more to offer in a standup contest against Vieira, who’s still new to the sport of MMA, despite his decorated BJJ resume. If Stolzfus keeps the fight standing, he will have it a lot easier, but Vieira has the skills to take the fight to the mat and submit his opponent.
It’s going to be a really intriguing matchup.
Gabriel Benítez vs Billy Quarantillo
Gabriel Benitez was originally scheduled to fight Herbert Burns, but the fight was canceled after Burns suffered an injury. He was replaced by Billy Quarantillo, who’s not as recognizable a name as Burns, but he’s still a tough matchup.
Both fighters are very well-rounded as they have a number of knockout and submission wins to their name. But ‘Moggly’ has a lot more experience compared to Quarantillo. Both fighters are also high volume strikers as they land nearly 5 significant strikes per minute on average. In the grappling department, Quarantillo is more efficient as he averages nearly 2 takedowns per 15 minutes. Benitez doesn’t grapple as much but he’s not a slouch on the mat. Expect an action-packed 15 minutes.
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