Will Dean kicks off our coverage of the latest UFC Fight Night with a strong fancy for the prelims.
- By Kieran Cobley
UFC Vegas 15 takes place this weekend with a card headlined by former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos in his return to lightweight against Paul Felder.
In the under card, Cory McKenna has her first fight as a UFC contracted fighter as she takes on Kay Hansen at strawweight.
Before we come to that, Paul Felder steps in on short notice to take on Rafael Dos Anjos after the Brazilian’s original opponent, Islam Makhachev, pulled out of the contest earlier this week.
This is Dos Anjos’s first fight back at lightweight after a string of eight fights at welterweight, and it looks like the former lightweight champion has ambitions of climbing back into the top rankings at 155lbs.
Felder will be a tough test for the Brazilian; he has only ever been finished once, and his cardio is fantastic, with 10 of his 22 fights going the distance.
Dos Anjos’ versatility is his biggest weapon, with five knockout wins, 10 submission wins and 14 coming by the way of decision, but Felder is equally as versatile and his ability to take damage while still coming forward is impressive to say the very least.
With 34 decisions between the two, it’s no surprise to see the bookies have priced the fight going the distance at odds-on, but in a fight where the two competitors are equally matched, it remains a good bet at 8/13.
McKenna looks magic
Cory McKenna is one of the best female talents the UK has produced and I am so excited to see her make her official UFC debut this weekend.
McKenna is well known to European fans thanks to her time in Cage Warriors where she went 4-1, and world audiences were exposed to her talents after her break through performance on Dana White’s Contender Series.
The Hobbit has moved her training camp to Uriah Faber’s Team Alpha Male gym in California, and this is a very smart move on her part. Talented fighters will surround her, and in a gym full of great wrestlers, her takedown offence and defence will have progressed leaps and bounds.
Kay Hansen will be a tough opponent for McKenna, as she holds a 7-3 record, with six wins coming within the distance. Her game plan is very straightforward: get the fight to the ground and hit hard while looking for a submission.
But McKenna can stop that initial takedown and take the dominant position, she can then introduce her own ground offence and loom for a win. At 7/4, she’s my pick for the best underdog bet on the card.
- By Will Dean
Rhys McKee’s UFC debut saw him play the role of the sacrificial lamb to surging prospect Khamzat Chimaev on Fight Island. Whilst there is no shame in that loss, the Northern Irish fighter will feel he has something to prove on Saturday night, against an opponent that will allow him to showcase his skills.
Skeletor has finished all 10 of his career wins, with seven knockouts and three submissions on his record. He has only gone to a decision once, proving that he is an entertaining fighter who is always looking for a stoppage victory.
Alex Morono is also coming off a first-round knockout loss, lasting just 27 seconds in his last bout. This was the 15th in a 24-fight career to end inside the distance, and I think we will see another finish this weekend.
The UFC veteran has a reputation for being a brawler who likes to get in close and throw wild hooks with venomous power. His attitude towards this fight should be no different, given the six-inch reach advantage of his opponent. Fortunately for the fans, McKee also likes to be the aggressor, meaning both men will likely stand in the middle and trade blows.
From a more analytical perspective, I think the reach of McKee will be a focal point of this match up. Although having that advantage will grant him the higher output and ability to accumulate more damage on his opponent, it could also be his undoing. He tends to overextend with straight punches and be overzealous when marching forward, leaving his chin exposed to a counter strike.
Both fighters are primarily strikers with knockout potential, but they also possess finishing ability in the grappling. I do not expect much of this fight to be contested on the mat, but the knowledge that one mistake from either man could result in an opportunistic submission further reinforces my confidence that we could see a finish here.
Posted at 1345 GMT on 12/11/20
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