A classic Russia vs USA takes place as our UFC Vegas 71 Predictions headliner – a match-up that movies are made of. Heavyweight contenders, Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes, will test each other’s chin within the snug confines of the UFC Apex.
Both fighters have enjoyed a streak of success ahead of their meeting and will be keen to lay down a marker for the next crack at the title. Current HW Champion, Jon Jones, may have impressed against Ciryl Gane – but 265lbs remains a ticking timebomb for any fighter.
UFC Vegas 71 may be light on starpower, but the Apex always seems to draw a highlight reel or two. Enjoy a whistle-stop tour through all the MMA Predictions ahead of Saturday’s action.
Where is UFC Vegas 71 taking place?
The event will take place at the UFC Apex in Nevada, United States, on April 22, 2023.
What time does UFC Vegas 71 start?
The UFC Vegas 71 Main Event is scheduled to start at 7PM ET in the US and 12AM GMT in the UK. Meanwhile, UFC Vegas 71 Prelims are scheduled to start at 4PM ET in the US and 9PM GMT in the UK.
Where can I watch UFC Vegas 71?
The UFC Vegas 71 event can be streamed on ESPN+ in the US and BT Sport in the UK. You are advised to use official streams and avoid buffstreams, crackstreams or Reddit streams.
Sergei Pavlovich vs Curtis Blaydes
Big bad Sergei Pavlovich kickstarted his career in March 2022, following a three-year gap, and has not looked back since. Three first-round finishes have built up a fearsome highlight package for casuals to eat up. To be fair to the 6’3″ giant, he cuts an imposing figure in the octagon. Still, we are yet to see if Pavlovich has solved his defensive grappling deficiencies since being mauled by a faded Alistair Overeem.
It is a major red flag when considering Curtis Blaydes’ sole game on Saturday will be to take Pavlovich down. Sure, the American’s hands have improved over the past couple of years – but he is far too savvy to risk his chin standing. Blaydes has been stopped early in the past – but that was by the freakish one-shot power of Francis N’Gannou while Pavlovich’s threat stems more so from his swarming volume. Expecting a glorious G’n’P peppering.
Pavlovich vs Blaydes Prediction: Blaydes TKO Round 2
Brad Tavares vs Bruno Silva
Long-time Middleweight gatekeeper, Brad Tavares, is as consistent as they come in the octagon. The Hawaiian owns a delightfully well-rounded skillset but without shining in any particular area. As such, his striking defence and TDD are both tight enough to prevent Bruno Silva from diving head-first into his power punching or serpent-like submissions.
Tavares has to be favoured as the more experienced fighter in picking up rounds, but I feel that Silva’s penchant for a surprise power punch could flip the script in this fight.
Tavares vs Silva Prediction: Silva TKO Round 3
Bobby Green vs Jared Gordon
As a Bobby Green fanboy, I would be fine if he were to hang up his gloves – win or lose – after Saturday night. The knockout loss to Drew Dober isn’t a major red flag as Green’s style invites pressure and inevitably lends itself to occasional punishment. Rather, at 36 years old, the King’s body is starting to show the miles of a long career.
Not that Jared Gordon represents the fighter best set to exploit Green’s athletic decline. Flash was robbed against Paddy Pimblett but it has inflated his stock. Gordon is a strong control wrestler but he will struggle with Green’s sprawl while failing to hold his own on the feet.
Green vs Gordon Prediction: Green Decision
Iasmin Lucindo vs Brogan Walker
21-year-old prospect, Iasmin Lucindo, put up a hell of a fight in her debut loss to Yazmin Jauregui. The Brazilian is a crafty boxer on the inside and is surprisingly adept in the clinch – but she will want to keep her striking long against Brogan Walker’s wrestling threat. The Bear also lost her UFC debut, a painful third-round G’n’P KO to Juliana Miller. Walker will bite down on her gumshield and attempt to walk down Lucindo – which could well prove to be enough on the night considering the quality of Women’s Flyweight.
Lucindo vs Walker Prediction: Lucindo Decision
Jeremiah Wells vs Matt Semelsberger
It would be foolish to explore this fight in too much depth. Both men hit very hard on the feet with single strikes, with Semelsberger edging Wells with a considerable height and reach advantage. Wells, however, has a power wrestling base that could force Semelsberger to change his striking approach. Semi the Jedi’s deep gas tank is the ace in the hole that will swing the pivotal third round.
Wells vs Semelsberger Prediction: Semelsberger Decision
Ricky Glenn vs Christos Giagos
After nearly two years on the sidelines, Ricky Glenn and his relentless pace return to the octagon. Christos Giagos’ aggressive early output and wrestling-centric game plan are the x-factors in this match-up. The Spartan hasn’t dropped 10 losses throughout his career willy-nilly, however. Giagos fades fast and will struggle to keep up with Glenn’s exhaustless stamina.
Glenn vs Giagos Prediction: Glenn Decision
Rani Yahya vs Montel Jackson
Rani Yahya is a BJJ wizard and a UFC legend in his own right. Even at the ripe old age of 38, the Brazilian has been holding his own in the octagon against the likes of Ricky Simon and Enrique Barzola. After a two-year MMA layoff, however, it feels like cruel match-making to pit him against a resurgent prospect. Montel Jackson has not reached the heights many expected since his humbling loss to Brett Johns. Yet, Jackson is strong enough to avoid the early threat on the mat to later punish Yahya on the feet.
Yahya vs Jackson Prediction: Jackson TKO Round 2
Karol Rosa vs Norma Dumont
Karol Rosa makes the jump to Featherweight after scraping a decision victory over Lina Lansberg. A strange move after struggling with the veteran’s physicality but the division does offer a shorter route to the title. It’s a coin-flip as to whether Norma Dumont will find her timing on the night – but when it clicks together, she is a surprise counter-striking package.
Rosa vs Dumont Prediction: Dumont Decision
Mohammed Usman vs Junior Tafa
Simply put, Mohammed Usman is entirely reliant on his one-shot knockout power. The Nigerian struggles with the decrepit pace of Heavyweight, has faced lukewarm competition throughout his career and appears to be riding his family name. As a fair counter, this is also Heavyweight – a division where such a skillset is seen as a plus rather than a negative. Junior Tafa debuts on Saturday after hoovering up a four-KO streak to kickstart his professional career. The Kiwi is far more consistent in laying down his power, which is levels above what Usman has to offer.
Usman vs Tafa Prediction: Tafa TKO Round 1
Francis Marshall vs William Gomis
Can anyone, hand on heart, remember Francis Marshall’s debut victory over Marcelo Rojo last December? Upon rewatch (and a reread of my notes), Marshall has all the freak athletic trimmings to emerge as a chain wrestling machine, as long as match-makers can bleed him in properly. Frenchman, William Gomis, may own the power to stop Marshall’s party early, however. Jaguar is a slick mover on the feet but it is always far safer to back the superior wrestler.
Marshall vs Gomis Prediction: Marshall Submission Round 3
Batgerel Danaa vs Brady Hiestand
Staring down the barrel of a three-fight slide, Batgerel Danaa is banking on his stunning power to thwart TUF alumni Brady Hiestand. Despite the low-quality nature of the fight, it should provide an engaging stylistic match-up. Hiestand will relentlessly pursue takedowns from the opening bell, with the fight result banking on Danaa landing a shot on the button at the start of the three rounds.
Danaa vs Hiestand Prediction Hiestand Decision
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