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Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 63: Lemos vs. Andrade

Getting prepared for UFC action this Saturday? Here’s everything you need to know in our Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 63: Lemos vs. Andrade.

UFC on ESPN+ 63
Date: April 23, 2022
Location: UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada

Main Card
Start Time: 9:00 p.m. ET, 6:00 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN+

Women’s Strawweights: #10 Amanda Lemos vs. #1 (WFLY) Jessica Andrade

Overall Records: Lemos 11-1-1, Andrade 22-9
UFC Records: Lemos 5-1, Andrade 13-7
Last Fight: Lemos def. Hill–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 57 (12/18/21), Andrade def. Calvillo–R1 TKO–UFC 266 (9/25/21)
Last Five Fights: Lemos 5-0, Andrade 2-3
Betting Odds: Lemos +175, Andrade -210
Background: The main event is an interesting strawweight battle as Lemos looks to stamp herself as a title contender as she welcomes former UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Andrade back to the division. Lemos didn’t get off to the best start for her UFC career, as she debuted on short notice as a bantamweight and lost a one-sided fight to Leslie Smith, who finished her in the second round in July 2017. She then had to serve a two-year USADA suspension due to a drug test failure. She returned in December 2019, coming back at 115 lbs., and has since rattled off five straight wins. She’s coming off a split decision win over Angela Hill in December, which moved her into the top ten of the division. She’s scored three finishes during her win streak. Andrade is moving back down to the division she was once at the top of as she looks to regain the strawweight title. She won the title from Rose Namajunas in May 2019, but lost in her first defense to Zhang Weili a few months later. She lost a rematch to Namajunas, prompting a move up to the flyweight division. She scored a first-round knockout of Katlyn Chookagian, earning a quick title shot in her new division. However, she was finished by Valentina Shevchenko during their title match in April 2021. After scoring a win over Cynthia Calvillo, she opted to move back down as she looks to become a two-time champion in the division. Andrade does hold the distinction of being the only female to score wins in three different UFC weight classes.

How they match up: Lemos is going to have a three-inch height and reach advantage over Andrade, but that is something Andrade is accustomed to by now. Both are high-volume strikers and both have knockout power in their hands. Lemos doesn’t tend to land quite as much as Andrade, but she is more accurate, plus she tends to get hit less and has better striking defense. Lemos does tend to start at a slow pace, but she’s always dangerous and can find the openings to explode with an offensive attack. She’ll be able to match the power and strength of Andrade. Andrade could look to take it to the mat as she has a strong takedown game, but Lemos does have strong takedown defense. If it hits the mat, I do favor Andrade as she boasts a better submission game. All-in-all, I’m expecting a war on the feet and both women to be on the attack from the get-go. If Andrade can push the pace early and get Lemos uncomfortable, I like her chances. If Lemos can avoid the slow starts she tends to have, that would be ideal because Andrade is always strong inside the first two rounds. This is a toss-up to me, but Andrade has more experience in these headline situations. I’m taking Andrade to score a finish in a fun fight.

What’s at stake: The winner is going to get themselves into the title picture in the strawweight division. The title picture is a little heavy in the division, so the winner will likely be at least one more win away. In the case of Andrade, it could take a couple of wins to get another shot. Lemos would be a fresh contender, but Andrade has long been one of the best female fighters on the roster. Lemos is about to turn 35, so her time for contending is right now. Even with all of Andrade’s UFC experience, she is still just 30-years-old, and will remain a contender for years to come. This is a big fight for both, but the immediate stakes look higher for Lemos.

Pick: Andrade

Lightweights: Clay Guida vs. Claudio Puelles

Overall Records: Guida 37-21, Puelles 11-2
UFC Records: Guida 17-15, Puelles 4-1
Last Fight: Guida def. Santos–R2 SUB–UFC On ESPN 31 (12/4/21), Puelles def. Gruetzemacher–R3 SUB–UFC On ESPN 31 (12/4/21)
Last Five Fights: Guida 2-3, Puelles 4-1
Betting Odds: Guida -110, Puelles -110
Background: One of the most popular and exciting fighters in UFC history is back at it as he keeps his career going when Guida takes on rising contender Puelles in the co-main event. Guida will be making his 33rd appearance inside the Octagon, which will tie him with Demian Maia for fifth-most all-time in UFC history, and even at the age of 40, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He comes in looking to score his second straight win after scoring a second-round submission win over Leonardo Santos in December. It was his tenth post-fight bonus, his 21st win by finish, and his 37th overall win. Guida has won two of his last three following a stretch where he went just 4-6 over his previous ten fights. Puelles entered the Octagon following season three of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3. He suffered a loss to Martin Bravo in the finals, but has since won four straight to put himself in the hunt of a spot in the rankings should he score another win or two. He’s coming off a third-round submission win over Chris Gruetzemacher. Puelles has scored eight of his eleven wins by stoppage.

How they match up: As good as Puelles has been in his recent outings, this is a huge step up in competition and experience for him. Guida may be 40, but he’s still plenty durable and brings the high energy into the Octagon with him still, and his footwork that leads to a crazy striking style that sets up takedowns is still there. Puelles doesn’t have the best takedown defense, and that is going to be an issue if he doesn’t show improvement there, because that is what Guida is going to try to do- take him down and grind him away. Puelles is improving on the feet and it’s possible he could find a spot where he rocks Guida, but Guida’s durability is still there as is his ability to recover quickly. Puelles likely won’t match the gas tank of Guida, either, so it’s going to come down to if he can find a submission on the mat. Guida is tough to submit, but he still can be, though this is a fight where 33 fights of UFC experience will prevail over six fights of UFC experience. Puelles will put up a fight, but the veteran controls with his wrestling on his way to a decision.

What’s at stake: Guida is going to be with the promotion until the day he decides to retire, so win-or-lose, it doesn’t really matter to him. His days of being a title contender are likely gone, barring some incredible late surge, but he’s someone they want fighting as much as he can due to his popularity and his willingness to always try to have a fun fight. A win over Guida would be big for Puelles’ career, and a fifth straight win would put him in the hunt to fight a ranked opponent. He’ll need more wins to get into the title picture, because the lightweight division is tough, but this is a big chance for him to add a big name to his resumé.

Pick: Guida

Women’s Flyweights: #14 Maycee Barber vs. Montana De La Rosa

Overall Records: Barber 9-2, De La Rosa 12-6-1
UFC Records: Barber 4-2, De La Rosa 5-2-1
Last Fight: Barber def. Maverick–SpDec–UFC On ESPN 27 (7/24/21), De La Rosa def. Lipski–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 47 (6/5/21)
Last Five Fights: Barber 3-2, De La Rosa 2-2-1
Betting Odds: Barber -180, De La Rosa +155
Background: A fight that was originally planned to take place in December until injuries forced some shuffling takes place here as Barber and De La Rosa battle in this flyweight contest. They were scheduled to fight at UFC 269, but De La Rosa had to pull out due to an injury. Barber was matched up against a replacement, but she ended up being forced out as well, so both women are returning for the first time since the summer. Barber is looking for her second straight win after scoring a split decision over Miranda Maverick in July. She started her career with a perfect 8-0 record and a stated goal of becoming the youngest champion in UFC history, but two losses and a long layoff due to a knee injury derailed those plans. She’s still just 23, and seven of her nine wins have been via a finish. De La Rosa is coming in looking for her second straight win after scoring a second-round knockout of Ariane Lipski in June. De La Rosa has suffered just two losses in her eight appearances inside the Octagon, and the 27-year-old has scored finishes in nine of her 12 professional wins, including eight wins by submission.

How they match up: Barber is going to want to keep this on the feet while De La Rosa is going to want to get this to the mat. De La Rosa is improving on her feet, especially if she is able to keep the fight at a pace she likes. Barber has historically underperformed, at least in her recent outings. She has switched training camps a lot, probably too much for someone her age and with her lack of experience, which has always raised a lot of questions as to whether she’s truly coachable or not. She is a better athlete than De La Rosa, and De La Rosa tends to struggle when that is the case. Barber’s takedown defense is going to have to be strong as that is what De La Rosa is going to pressure her with. It’s been nearly a year since either lady fought, so improvements in that time could play a clear factor. I think Barber is good enough to where she can get by De La Rosa, but an upset wouldn’t surprise me here.

What’s at stake: Barber’s goal of being the youngest UFC champion in history won’t happen, but if she has any aspirations still of becoming a champion, this is a must-win for her. Despite her age, a loss here would be losses in three of her last four, and with her constant changing of teams, that would likely end any title aspirations and she would be labeled a bust. She has to win this fight to avoid that. De La Rosa has been improving and she’s still young as well. I don’t know if she’ll reach the title contender level as she has a little less upside than Barber, but a win here could change all of that. The stakes are much lower for her than Barber, and this is a big chance for her to score the upset.

Pick: Barber

Heavyweights: Alexandr Romanov vs. Chase Sherman

Overall Records: Romanov 15-0, Sherman 15-9
UFC Records: Romanov 4-0 Sherman 3-8
Last Fight: Romanov def. Vanderaa–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 52 (10/9/21), Collier def. Sherman–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22)
Last Five Fights: Romanov 5-0, Sherman 2-3
Betting Odds: Romanov -1375, Sherman +800
Background: This wasn’t the original fight, and this was a fight that didn’t even come together until Monday of fight week, but a heavyweight showdown is upon us between Romanov and Sherman. Romanov was originally slated to fight Tanner Boser, a fight he took on about a month’s notice as a replacement. However, a late injury forced Boser out, and Sherman steps in on a few days’ notice. Sherman actually wasn’t even under a UFC contract at the time, as his deal wasn’t renewed following his last fight, so he’s back under a new deal. Romanov is looking to remain undefeated as he comes in with a 15-0 record, including a 4-0 mark during his UFC tenure. He’s coming off a second-round finish of Jared Vanderaa in October. He’s scored 14 of his 15 wins via a finish. Sherman is looking to end a three-fight losing skid. He’s coming off a second-round submission loss to Jake Collier in January. It’s been almost two years since Sherman had his hand raised. 14 of his 15 wins have come by stoppage, but he’s been finished in five of his nine losses.

How they match up: Props to Sherman for stepping up and getting another UFC contract out of this when he was back on the outside looking in, but this isn’t going to be a fun night for him. He’s durable, but he gets hit a lot and doesn’t have knockout power. Romanov is a big heavyweight, and he’s agile for his size. He’s got power in his hands, but his real strength is his wrestling and dominance on the mat. He’s scored multiple takedowns in each of his UFC fights, scoring 13 total overall. His conditioning is also good, and his finishing rate is extremely high. Sherman just lacks the overall skill to be able to hang with the level of Romanov, though Sherman can still compete with the low-level UFC heavyweights. Romanov is a big betting favorite for good reasons, and I see him taking Sherman down and ending it early.

What’s at stake: Romanov’s perfect record is at stake, but it feels like a pretty safe bet that it will remain in tact. Of course, anything can happen in this sport, but it’s favorable for him to win. After this, it’s probably time for him to fight a ranked opponent, or at least someone who is right there. He’s got the potential to be a title challenger, and if he moves to 5-0 as a UFC heavyweight, it’s time to test him against the higher level competition. Sherman is taking advantage of an opportunity that may have never came again, and while it’ll likely not end in his way, he’s going to get at least another fight after this one, and likely four fights.

Pick: Romanov

Featherweights: Lando Vannata vs. Charles Jourdain

Overall Records: Vannata 12-5-2, Jourdain 12-4-1
UFC Records: Vannata 4-5-2, Jourdain 3-3-1
Last Fight: Vannata def. Grundy–SpDec–UFC 262 (5/15/21), Jourdain def. Ewell–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 57 (12/18/21)
Last Five Fights: Vannata 3-2, Jourdain 2-2-1
Betting Odds: Vannata -110, Jourdain -110
Background: In what might be the most exciting fight of what is left on the card, if it wasn’t already, the main card kicks off with featherweight fireworks between Vannata and Jourdain. Vannata is fighting for the first time in nearly a year as he’s coming off a decision win over Mike Grundy at UFC 262 in May. It got Vannata back into the win column, and he’s had one of the more unique UFC careers. He debuted on short notice in July 2016 as an undefeated fighter, and had a war with Tony Ferguson, though he came out on the short end. In Vannata’s eleven UFC outings, he has four wins, five losses and two draws. Nine of his 12 wins have come by stoppage. Jourdain makes his 2022 debut after having a short-notice appearance fall by the wayside in January, but he’s had a full training camp to prepare for this one. He’s coming off a decision win in December over Andre Ewell, which also got him back into the win column. Like Vannata, he’s had a unique UFC career thus far, as his seven Octagon appearances have seen him score three wins, three losses and a draw. Eleven of his 12 career wins have come by stoppage.

How they match up: This should be explosive wherever it goes, whether it stays on the feet or it goes to the mat. Both are high-volume strikers who mix everything well on the feet. You can expect spinning attacks from both men. Jourdain tends to land slightly more and has slightly better accuracy on the feet, and his striking defense is also slightly better, though both have good defense on the feet. When it comes to the takedown, Vannata is more likely to score them as Jourdain has yet to score a takedown inside the Octagon, and he’s been taken down in five of his seven fights and only has a 48% takedown defense rate. Both men tend to get out to quick starts, but Jourdain is better at pushing the pace. Jourdain also, traditionally, gets stronger as the fight goes on, and he has the conditioning to easily go the full 15 minutes. Vannata should look to lean on his wrestling edge in this one, especially as Jourdain pushes the aggression on the feet during the fight. This will be an absolute war that goes to the scorecards, but I lean Vannata slightly.

What’s at stake: If this fight lives up to expectations, it will get the “Fight Of The Night” bonus and be wild and exciting. It will also be one of those fights you wish was in an arena full of fans instead of the quiet UFC Apex, because it would get big reactions. The upside to both men is great and the winner is going to get a great match-up next, and the loser isn’t likely to lose much momentum with a loss. Both are still young enough to make runs towards title contention, and the winner being on a win streak starts their run here. This should just be tons of fun.

Pick: Vannata

Preliminary Card
Start Time: 6:00 p.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN+

190 lb.-Catchweights: Jordan Wright vs. Marc-Andre Barriault

Overall Records: Wright 12-2 1 NC, Barriault 13-5 1 NC
UFC Records: Wright 2-2, Barriault 2-4 1 NC
Last Fight: Silva def. Wright–R1 TKO–UFC 269 (12/11/21), Njokuani def. Barriault–R1 KO–UFC On ESPN+ 58 (2/5/22)
Last Five Fights: Wright 3-2, Barriault 2-2 1 NC
Betting Odds: Wright +155, Barriault -180
Background: A fight that came together just about ten days ago takes place here as Wright takes on short-notice replacement Barriault. Wright was originally scheduled to fight Roman Kopylov in this bout, but medical issues forced Kopylov out, and Barriault stepped in and the fight was made into a catchweight of 190 lbs. due to the short notice. Wright is looking to get back into the win column after suffering a first-round knockout loss to Bruno Silva in December. He started his career undefeated in his first 12 fights, with eleven wins and a no contest, but he’s since lost two of his last three. All 12 of his wins have come by stoppage, with eleven of those coming inside the first round. After getting a win streak going, Barriault is looking to bounce back into the win column after suffering a 16-second loss to Chidi Njokuani in February. Barriault signed his UFC deal on the heels of an 11-1 record to start his career, but his UFC run got off to a rough start as he went winless in his first four bouts, though one of those was a win overturned into a no contest due to a failed drug test. He bounced back with two straight wins in 2021 before the recent setback. He’s scored nine of his 13 wins by knockout.

How they match up: Wright is traditionally someone who either finishes a fight quickly or sees himself getting finished quickly. He’s only been out of the first round twice in his career, and he’s only gone past the two-minute mark four times in his 15 fights. Barriault’s chin is going to be a question following the loss to Njokuani, but he is far more durable than Wright. Wright does land with a lot of volume, but that’s typically because of the quick fights, and he gets hit a lot. Wright does fight with a karate style that can be hard to prepare for, and Barriault is the one coming in on short notice. However, Barriault is the more well-rounded fighter of the two, and both have power. I like Barriault to weather an early storm and get a late first-round finish.

What’s at stake: Both men really could use a win in this one. Wright has shown flashes of potential but another loss would put him at 2-3 during his UFC career, which might just set him at a level that he’ll never get out of. The jury is still out whether he can be a title contender, and this fight will answer some questions. Barriault is coming in on short-notice, so this is essentially a free roll type of fight for him. He does want to get back into the win column and shore up his UFC future, so a win would do wonders for that.

Pick: Barriault

Welterweights: Dwight Grant vs. Sergey Khandozhko

Overall Records: Grant 11-4, Khandozhko 27-6-1
UFC Records: Grant 3-3, Khandozhko 1-1
Last Fight: Trinaldo def. Grant–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21), Khabilov def. Khandozhko–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 21 (11/9/19)
Last Five Fights: Grant 3-2, Khandozhko 3-2
Betting Odds: Grant +100, Khandozhko -120
Background: A welterweight battle featuring two 170 lbs. fighters looking to get back into the win column takes place here as Grant welcomes Khandozhko to the Octagon for the first time in quite some time. Grant is looking to get back into the win column after suffering a decision loss to Francisco Trinaldo in October. Grant started his career with an 8-1 record and earned his UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. He debuted with a decision loss to Zak Ottow in December 2018, but then won three of his next four fights before suffering the loss to Trinaldo. Seven of Grant’s eleven wins have come by knockout. Khandozhko returns to action for the first time since November 2019 as injuries, battles with COVID-19 and travel issues caused by the pandemic have kept him from competing. He’s coming off a loss to Rustam Khabilov, which ended a three-fight win streak that included a win in his UFC debut. Khandozhko has scored 19 of his 27 career wins by stoppage.

How they match up: Grant has shown flashes of his brutal knockout power, but he has yet to truly put everything together during his UFC run. Khandozhko is kind of an unknown since he hasn’t fought in 30 months and there’s no telling if he’s improved or not. In the past, he’s been a creative striker with some decent wrestling, but wrestling that can be neutralized by a strong grappler. That is something Grant isn’t, though Grant has completed all of his takedown attempts inside the Octagon and has solid takedown defense. Grant doesn’t throw with a lot of output on the feet, but he throws trying to finish fights. Khandozhko is much younger than Grant but has lots more experience, and I see him utilizing the wrestling to grind out a decision.

What’s at stake: Grant is 37-years-old and his opportunity to become a title contender has likely passed. However, a win here would secure his immediate UFC future and give him some chances to make some more pay days before it’s time to hang up the gloves. Khandozhko is just 29 and has upside, and he wants to be more active going forward. A win will help him go a long way, but a loss would be two straight and he’d be in a must-win position next time out.

Pick: Khandozhko

Light Heavyweights: Tyson Pedro vs. Ike Villanueva

Overall Records: Pedro 7-3, Villanueva 18-13
UFC Records: Pedro 3-3, Villanueva 1-4
Last Fight: Rua def. Pedro–R3 TKO–UFC Fight Night 142 (12/1/18), Negumereanu def. Villanueva–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21)
Last Five Fights: Pedro 2-3, Villanueva 1-4
Betting Odds: Pedro -650, Villanueva +460
Background: This light heavyweight bout sees a former bright prospect making a return from a very long layoff as Pedro returns to take on Villanueva. Pedro is fighting for the first time since December 2018, back in a time when UFC fights were still airing on the FOX networks, and he’s looking to end a two-fight losing skid. Pedro started his career with a 6-0 record, which included UFC stoppage wins over Khalil Rountree and Paul Craig. However, he’s just 1-3 over his last four fights and is coming off back-to-back losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Mauricio Rua. Pedro has scored finishes in all seven of his wins, with two knockouts and five submissions. Villanueva comes into this fight with his back against the wall as he’s trying to end a two-fight losing skid and a UFC run that has seen him lose in four of his five appearances. He’s coming off an October loss to Nicolae Negumereanu. Villanueva has scored knockouts in 15 of his 18 wins, but he’s also been finished in 12 of his 13 losses.

How they match up: This is a fight to see where Pedro stands after his layoff. It’s been mostly injury related as he had reconstructive knee surgery, but three years off is a long time. He does have a two-inch height advantage and a six-inch reach advantage over Villanueva. Villanueva is going to want to keep this standing and turn it into a brawl, and there’s more ways for Pedro to win this fight. Pedro does like to land kicks from a distance and he’ll be looking for the calf kicks. Villanueva does get hit a lot but he’s going to return fire whenever he has the opportunity to do so. Pedro does have a good ground game, and I expect him to just find a way to get Villanueva down and for Pedro to get an early submission.

What’s at stake: This does seem like a fight designed for Pedro to return and get back into the win column, but it’s also a fight to see where he stands after the lengthy layoff due to the knee surgeries. This is a pivotal fight for him in the sense it’ll determine how much of a UFC future he has. I’m surprised Villanueva is still with the promotion with his 1-4 record, but he’s a perfect opponent for someone in the position of Pedro. He’ll get another fight should he score the upset, but a third straight loss and a 1-5 record for Villanueva, should he lose, would likely spell the end of his UFC career.

Pick: Pedro

Bantamweights: Aori Qileng vs. Cameron Else

Overall Records: Qileng 20-11, Else 10-5
UFC Records: Qileng 0-2, Else 0-1
Last Fight: Durden def. Qileng–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 56 (11/20/21), Phillips def. Else–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Qileng 3-2, Else 4-1
Betting Odds: Qileng -240, Else +195
Background: Much like a lot of fights on this card, this bantamweight bout features two men vying to get back into the win column as Qileng makes his bantamweight debut against Else. Qileng is moving up from the flyweight division as he’s in search of his first win inside the Octagon. He’s lost his first two UFC bouts, dropping decisions to Jeff Molina and Cody Durden. Those losses ended a six-fight win streak he enjoyed prior to his signing. He’s looking for his eighth finish. Else is making his second walk to the Octagon in this one as he fights for the first time since his October 2020 debut. He was finished in the second-round by highly-touted prospect Kyler Phillips in his debut, which ended a six-fight win streak he was enjoying prior to his signing. All ten of Else’s wins have come via a finish, with five knockouts and five submissions.

How they match up: Bantamweight might be a more suitable division for Qileng as he was having tough weight cuts to make flyweight. He should retain his power and he’s been very durable during his career. Else’s career highlight is a win over Paddy Pimblett early in their careers, but Else hasn’t really capitalized much on it. Qileng has solid conditioning while Else generally fades about halfway through a fight. Qileng is a high-volume striker who tends to get hit a lot, but that is due to his constant forward pressure. I see him marching forward and walking through any Else offense, then utilizing his wrestling throughout three rounds to get a decision.

What’s at stake: The first UFC win for both men is what’s at stake the most here, and their UFC futures could be at play as well. Qileng may get more of a leash due to being a Chinese fighter, but he must avoid going 0-3 to start his career if he wants a solid future. Else has been the victim of a long layoff and an 0-2 start to his UFC run wouldn’t be the best for him. He’ll get another fight regardless, but this is still a must-win bout for him.

Pick: Qileng

Welterweights: Preston Parsons vs. Evan Elder

Overall Records: Parsons 9-3, Elder 7-0
UFC Records: Parsons 0-1, Elder 0-0
Last Fight: Rodriguez def. Parsons–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN 26 (7/17/21), Elder def. Andrusia–R3 TKO–FAC 11 (12/10/21)
Last Five Fights: Parsons 4-1, Elder 5-0
Betting Odds: Parsons -125, Elder +105
Background: A fight that came together during fight week sees a welterweight match-up as Parsons makes his second UFC appearance against the debuting Elder. Parsons was slated to fight Louis Cosce in this bout, but Cosce was forced out after testing positive for COVID-19, and Elder took this fight on Tuesday in signing a UFC deal. Parsons is looking to rebound from a loss he suffered in his UFC debut, a first-round knockout to Daniel Rodriguez in July. He took that fight on short notice, so he gets a full training camp here. All nine of Parsons’ wins have come by submission. Elder makes his debut and comes in with a perfect 7-0 record. He’s moving up a weight class to debut and he was targeted to compete on the upcoming edition of Dana White’s Contender Series prior to this short-notice call. Five of his seven career wins have come by stoppage.

How they match up: Parsons likes to pressure his opponents as he tends to land early and look for the takedowns. He has a stellar submission game, as evidenced to the fact that he’s only ever won by submission, and he should have a size edge over Elder. Elder does have knockout power and is a good striker, plus he has a solid takedown game. He might not be fully prepared for this, plus he’s moving up a weight class. That power might not translate from lightweight to welterweight, and his takedown defense is going to need to be at a high level. The best bet for this fight is that Parsons gets Elder down early and finds a submission, and I think he’s going to do just that.

What’s at stake: These are two low-level welterweights looking to make a name of themselves inside the Octagon. Parsons wants to avoid an 0-2 start, which would put him in the danger zone of being near the chopping block. Elder is getting his UFC run without having to go through the Contender Series, and he’d like to get off to a good start and avoid suffering his first career loss.

Pick: Parsons

Light Heavyweights: Marcin Prachnio vs. Philipe Lins

Overall Records: Prachnio 15-5, Lins 14-5
UFC Records: Prachnio 2-3, Lins 0-2
Last Fight: Prachnio def. Villanueva–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 48 (6/26/21), Boser def. Lins–R1 KO–UFC On ESPN 12 (6/27/20)
Last Five Fights: Prachnio 2-3, Lins 3-2
Betting Odds: Prachnio -125, Lins +105
Background: A light heavyweight battle takes place here as Prachnio looks to get a win streak going while Lins drops down from heavyweight looking to end a losing skid as both men return from long layoffs. Prachnio is fighting for the first time since January 2021, where he scored an upset decision win over Khalil Rountree in Abu Dhabi. That ended a three-fight losing skid Prachnio was on to start his UFC career and gave him some confidence. He’s scored 12 of his 15 wins by finish. Lins is moving back down to 205 lbs., where he started his career, after a run at heavyweight. That run saw him win the 2018 PFL Heavyweight Championship, but also saw him start his UFC career with two straight losses. He hasn’t fought since a June 2020 knockout loss to Tanner Boser as injuries and other issues have kept him from returning to action until now. 12 of his 14 wins have come via a finish, but he’s also suffered knockout losses in four of his five losses.

How they match up: Prachnio is a high-volume striker who has solid knockout power, and he’s better than his 1-3 UFC record indicates. He does have a questionable chin that can see him be finished, as all three of his UFC losses have been by first-round knockout. We’ll see if Lins brings some power with him from heavyweight, but the weight cut might not have been the best idea for him. Prachnio might have a speed advantage, especially with his footwork, and he’s going to need to use it to keep out of punching range. I don’t expect this one to last long, and it’ll come down really to who gets hit first as neither are all that durable. I’m saying Lins connects and puts Prachnio’s lights out, but I’m not all that confident.

What’s at stake: The futures of both men in the promotion are on the line here. Prachnio likely got a new deal after his win in his last outing, but a loss here could signal the end of his UFC run. Lins has been a disappointing signing thus far, but a win would turn that around. A loss, though, and Lins could find himself being released from his deal. This is a must-win fight for both.

Pick: Lins

Welterweights: Dean Barry vs. Mike Jackson

Overall Records: Barry 4-1, Jackson 0-1 1 NC
UFC Records: Barry 0-0, Jackson 0-1 1 NC
Last Fight: Barry def. Lipton–R1 KO–Titan FC 73 (12/17/21), Jackson NC Punk–UFC 225 (6/9/18)
Last Five Fights: Barry 4-1, Jackson 0-1 1 NC
Betting Odds: Barry -1125, Jackson +700
Background: This is a welterweight fight that’s kicking off the card, and, honestly, it has no business being on a UFC card. However, Barry is making his debut and he gets the return of Jackson, who is fighting for the first time in nearly four years. This is a fight they tried to make twice in 2021, but both men pulled out. Barry ended up fighting once more on the regional scene, picking up a win in December, which was his third straight win. All four of his professional wins have been by knockout in the first round. Jackson is fighting for the third time in his career, and all three have come under a UFC deal. He’s winless, though he did score a win in his last fight, which was later overturned after a failed drug test for marijuana. It was over CM Punk at UFC 225 in June 2018, which followed a 45-second submission loss to Mickey Gall in his MMA debut.
How they match up: Jackson does have some kickboxing and Muay Thai experience, but he doesn’t belong here. Barry really doesn’t belong here as well, at least not yet. Barry does have power in his hands but is still quite unproven. Jackson doesn’t like being hit and has no ground game to speak of, though Barry doesn’t have much of a ground game, either. There’s not much to say here- Barry will blast Jackson on the feet and end this one early.
What’s at stake: The less said about this the better. This is the least interesting fight that I can ever remember taking place in the 20-plus years I’ve been watching and covering UFC, and a completely meaningless fight. Barry is going to get more fights, but he’s not ready for the competition here. Jackson will be back to shooting photos at UFC events after this one.
Pick: Barry

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