After a couple of more throwaway events, the UFC returns to Las Vegas' Apex facility this weekend for a much more intriguing-looking Fight Night card.
UFC Fight Night: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera features a clash of highly-ranked bantamweights in the main event. Elsewhere on the card, a number of fascinating fights have been put together.
Whether the event will produce the goods inside the octagon, of course, remains to be seen, but overall, hopes should be high for a strong show here.
With this in mind, here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera.
#1. UFC bantamweight division: Rob Font vs. Marlon Vera
With the rivalry between reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and former titleholder Petr Yan done for now, it’s likely that every ranked 135lber in the promotion will now be looking at making a run towards a title shot of their own.
That means that plenty is at stake here when No.5-ranked Rob Font takes on No.8-ranked Marlon Vera. It’s unlikely that either man will be granted a shot at Sterling with a victory, but if they’re impressive, they could well be just one more step away from that.
Interestingly, this is a rare bout that sees a fighter coming off a loss facing one coming off two wins. The last time we saw Font in action, he was well beaten by Jose Aldo, who snapped a four-fight streak of victories that had the Boston native dreaming of title glory.
Vera, meanwhile, also lost to Aldo, but since then he’s beaten Davey Grant and Frankie Edgar, knocking the latter out in impressive fashion with a violent front kick to the face. So how do these two match up?
Whenever Font is discussed, the first thing that comes to mind is his height, length and reach. At 5’8”, he’s one of the taller bantamweights on the roster, and his 71.5” reach means that he can pick at most of his opponents from behind his jab, using it to set up his bigger strikes.
Font isn’t a fantastic finisher per say, as despite stopping six opponents in the octagon, his bigger wins have tended to go to a decision. However, if he does get an opponent hurt, he’s more than capable of taking them out.
Vera, on the other hand, is probably less technically sound than Font, but he does possess a scary killer instinct. Essentially, if ‘Chito’ hurts an opponent, they’re probably done. The native of Ecuador also doesn’t discriminate between striking and submissions, as he’s more than happy to close out a fight with either.
The big question here, then, is whether Font can keep Vera at the end of his strikes, while also avoiding something nasty coming at him in return. Font has perhaps beaten better opponents than ‘Chito’ during his UFC tenure, but there’s no denying who the more dangerous fighter is.
The X factor might be the fact that while he doesn’t fight behind a jab as well as Font, Vera is actually a surprisingly tall 135lber. He’s the same height as Font and will only be giving up half an inch of reach to him. He’s arguably the better kicker of the two as well.
With that in mind, it’s likely that unless he gets overly wild in an attempt to take Font out early, Vera will probably eat a few jabs, but eventually catch his opponent with a nasty strike, and use that to finish him off.
The Pick: Vera via second-round TKO
#2. UFC heavyweight division: Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier
To say it still feels surprising to see Andrei Arlovski on a UFC main card, let alone in a co-headline bout, in 2022 would be a massive understatement. We’re now not only almost two decades past his run as heavyweight champion, but more than a decade past the point most observers considered him finished.
‘The Pitbull’ is of course past his prime now, which makes sense given he’s 43 years old. However, he’s still in fantastic shape for a fighter of his age, has maintained a strong cardio base, and is technically sound enough on the feet to pick apart more plodding foes.
Arlovski can definitely be beaten, as we saw when Tom Aspinall and Jairzinho Rozenstruik took him out. However, it takes an explosive, quick fighter to do that, and right now he’s on a three-fight win streak.
So can Jake Collier join that list of fighters who’ve been able to dispatch ‘The Pitbull’, or is he more of a Jared Vanderaa or Chase Sherman?
While ‘The Prototype’ did defeat Sherman via rear-naked choke in his most recent outing, the truth is that he’s probably closer to that kind of level than he is to Aspinall (who stopped him in 2020) or Rozenstruik.
A former middleweight, Collier bulked up and became almost unrecognizable after three years away from the octagon between 2017 and 2020. Since then he’s picked up wins over Gian Villante and Sherman, while dropping fights to Carlos Felipe and Aspinall.
At 6’3”, he isn’t the smallest heavyweight on the roster, but it is safe to say that he possesses a far smaller frame than Arlovski. In turn, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the smaller frame and added weight makes him somewhat plodding on the feet.
Collier probably does possess the punching power to take out ‘The Pitbull’, but then so did Vanderaa and Felipe, and both men were simply too slow to catch the veteran cleanly. With that considered, there’s no evidence to suggest that Collier is any quicker or better than them, and so the pick is Arlovski via decision.
The Pick: Arlovski via decision
#3. UFC Fight Night: The Main Card
In a UFC featherweight clash, Andre Fili faces Joanderson Brito. Brazil’s Brito entered the UFC for the first time back in January, but despite a fearsome reputation, flattered to deceive somewhat in a losing effort against Bill Algeo after gassing out.
This fight is likely to be a little wilder, as Fili is reckless to a fault and is likely to come at Brito with everything he’s got. Quite how that’ll fare ‘Touchy’ remains to be seen, though, as he isn’t as durable as he once was and ‘Tubarao’ is a dangerous finisher from all areas.
Despite this, Fili’s UFC experience should give him the edge, meaning the pick is ‘Touchy’ via decision – but Brito is a very live underdog in this one.
In what could be an excellent lightweight bout, Jared Gordon takes on Grant Dawson. Both of these men are on lengthy unbeaten streaks, with Gordon winning his last three bouts, while Dawson has actually never lost in six visits to the octagon.
Gordon’s reputation as a brawler seems to have garnered him more attention, but Dawson is definitely the more proven fighter in all areas. ‘KGD’ will be hopeful of hurting and finishing ‘Flash’ off here, probably via TKO.
At 145 pounds, Darren Elkins takes on Tristan Connelly. An octagon veteran of well over a decade, Elkins is past his best now, but his wins over Darrick Minner and Luiz Garagorri showed that he’s still got a bit left in the tank, particularly against lower-level opponents.
Connelly, meanwhile, has only fought once at featherweight before, being outpointed by prospect Pat Sabatini last April. ‘Boondock’ has shown skills before, most notably weathering a storm to defeat Michel Pereira in his octagon debut, but Elkins’ grappling makes him a difficult test, and so the pick is ‘The Damage’ via decision.
Finally, UFC middleweight veterans Krzysztof Jotko and Gerald Meerschaert face off. This is an interesting one as Jotko is probably the more proven fighter, but Meerschaert is almost definitely the more exciting man to watch and has far more finishes to his name.
Given that Jotko is not the most durable fighter and has been finished on a number of occasions in the octagon, including two recent losses, the pick is Meerschaert via KO.
#4. UFC Fight Night: The Prelims
Picks in bold
Flyweight division: Daniel Lacerda vs. Francisco Figueiredo
Welterweight division: Gabriel Green vs. Yohan Lainesse
Lightweight division: Natan Levy vs. Mike Breeden
Women's flyweight division: Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young
Flyweight division: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario