Women’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strawweight standouts Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson take center stage this Saturday (May 8, 2021) in a makeshift ESPN main event (also streaming on ESPN+), headlining the latest card from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, Neil Magny squares off with Geoff Neal in a clash of top Welterweights and prospects Kyle Daukaus and Phil Hawes duke it out in an ultra-intriguing Middleweight matchup.
We’ve got two UFC Vegas 26 “Prelims” undercard bouts that remain to be examined (check out the first batch here), so let’s get to it …
125 lbs.: Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev
Ryan Benoit (10-7) began his UFC career by alternating losses and wins, amassing a 3-3 record and taking home a post-fight bonus for his debut bout with Josh Sampo. “Baby Face” has since dropped two straight, losing decisions to Alatengheili and Tim Elliott.
His nine professional finishes include eight by form of knockout.
Though he fell in his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, former kickboxer Zarrukh Adashev (3-3) went on to win three straight under the Bellator banner, two of them inside the distance. He’s yet to taste victory in the Octagon itself, though, falling short against knockout artists Tyson Nam and Sumudaerji.
He gives up 3.5 inches of reach to Benoit.
Losing to the likes of Nam and Sumudaerji is nothing to be ashamed of, and now that he’s fighting someone closer to his own height, I expect a much better showing from Adashev. Though Benoit has serious power, his standup never quite developed enough to properly deliver it, and his offensive wrestling isn’t particularly potent.
Adashev has Benoit out-classed in a pure striking battle, which Benoit’s underdeveloped takedown game is insufficient to prevent. A fast-paced slugfest sees Adashev land the cleaner, more telling blows to seal the deal.
Prediction: Adashev via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
Despite falling to eventual winner Juan Espino in the second round of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28, Maurice Greene (9-5) emerged as one of the show’s biggest personalities, and a perfect (3-0) Octagon start certainly helped raise his profile. He’s just 1-3 since, however, most recently falling to Greg Hardy in Oct. 2020.
He’ll have six inches of height and seven inches of reach on “Pezao.”
Brazil’s Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1) spent six fights as a UFC Light Heavyweight before two consecutive weight misses sent him back to Heavyweight. His latest stint at 265 pounds has seen him defeat Adam Wieczorek and Ben Sosoli amid submission losses to Stefan Struve and Alexander Romanov.
He has knocked out 13 professional foes and submitted another three.
Rogerio de Lima is and always has been a massive underachiever with one of the worst ground games in the entire organization, but damn if the guy can’t thump. Even when he’s fighting above his ideal weight, there are very few fighters capable of trading leather with him, and Greene doesn’t number among them. “The Crochet Boss” isn’t particularly adept at using his reach to the fullest, meaning “Pezao” will inevitably find his way into the pocket and start dropping hammers.
In addition, Rogerio de Lima’s functional offensive wrestling looks sufficient to take the fight to the ground if things get hairy on the feet. He also hasn’t won or lost consecutive fights since 2014, so history is on his side. Though he’s incredibly adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, expect Rogerio de Lima to lamp Greene in the first round.
Prediction: de Lima by first-round knockout
Well, at least UFC Vegas 26 is not a pay-per-view (PPV), right? See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 26 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 26: “Waterson vs. Rodriguez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.