UFC Predictions: UFC Fight Night: Song Yadong vs. Chris Gutierrez

Song Yadong faces Chris Gutierrez in this weekend
Song Yadong faces Chris Gutierrez in this weekend's headliner

The UFC returns to the APEX facility in Las Vegas this weekend for the latest Fight Night event.

UFC Fight Night: Song Yadong vs. Chris Gutierrez lacks in name value, but there are definitely some fun fights on tap here.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night: Song Yadong vs. Chris Gutierrez.

#1. UFC bantamweight bout: Song Yadong vs. Chris Gutierrez

Chris Gutierrez will be hoping for a big win this Saturday [Image Credit: @el_guapo_mma on Instagram]
Chris Gutierrez will be hoping for a big win this Saturday [Image Credit: @el_guapo_mma on Instagram]

While neither of these two men will claim a title shot outright with a win this weekend, this is still a key fight in the bantamweight division.

Right now, Song Yadong is the higher ranked fighter, and it’s for good reason. ‘The Kung Fu Kid’ sits at the No.7 spot and holds wins over the likes of Ricky Simon, Marlon Vera, and Marlon Moraes, with his only recent loss coming to Cory Sandhagen.

An explosive striker with excellent wrestling to fall back on, it’s hard to pinpoint any weaknesses for Song. Sure, he got outworked by Sandhagen, but ‘The Sandman’ is a remarkably dynamic striker who is difficult to handle for most.

Essentially, if Song isn’t at his best, he can be outworked, but these days, that’s largely rare.

Chris Gutierrez, on the other hand, hasn’t had the best 2023 overall. Considered a top prospect after he retired the legendary Frankie Edgar in 2022, he then fell to Pedro Munhoz in what could’ve been a breakout fight for him.

And after stuttering in his last bout against Alatengheili, this is his chance to rocket back up the list of contenders in what could be the UFC’s most talent-packed division overall.

While both of these fighters stand at 5’8” and possess an identical reach of 67”, Gutierrez tends to fight at the greater distance. This means that to win, Song will need to get inside him to work that sharp boxing game. It isn’t a safe scenario by any means, but if he can pull it off, the fight should be his.

Where the X-factor could be, though, is on the ground. Gutierrez is the lesser wrestler and doesn’t tend to go to the ground often, but he is a dangerous grappler and his length could give Song problems on the mat.

Overall, this is a very tricky fight to pick. Gutierrez’s style is somewhat similar to Vera’s, and it’s arguable that Song should’ve lost that fight on the scorecards.

Over five rounds, however, Song has slightly more experience, and more importantly, he’s headlined a show before, something Gutierrez has yet to experience.

Sure, it’s only an APEX show with a smaller crowd, but we just don’t know how Gutierrez will react under the brightest lights. This one could go either way, but the pick is Song via tight decision.

The Pick: Song via decision

#2. UFC light heavyweight bout: Anthony Smith vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.

Khalil Rountree will be looking for a big win over Anthony Smith [Image Credit: @khalilrountree on Instagram]
Khalil Rountree will be looking for a big win over Anthony Smith [Image Credit: @khalilrountree on Instagram]

This light heavyweight bout should be a lot of fun to watch. Both Anthony Smith and Khalil Rountree Jr are limited fighters if we’re frank, but they’re also highly dangerous and are both wildly aggressive.

So which one of these ranked fighters will pick up what would be a key win this weekend?

Of the two, Rountree has actually been on the better run. Always seen as a very dangerous striker with weak points in durability, on the ground and in the clinch, ‘The War Horse’ has won his last four bouts, three by KO.

Interestingly, though, it was his split decision win over Dustin Jacoby that might’ve been his most impressive win. Faced with a skilled kickboxer, Rountree showed more poise, patience, and toughness than he usually does to gut out a victory.

Smith, on the other hand, is largely past his best at this stage, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less dangerous. A brutal finisher both standing and on the ground, ‘Lionheart’ possesses incredible durability, although he can be stopped, as both Glover Teixeira and Magomed Ankalaev showed.

Basically, this one should come down to whether Rountree can take out Smith in a wild, early rush before ‘Lionheart’ settles into a groove. Smith probably can’t afford to strike with Rountree, but if he can get inside ‘The War Horse’, wear him out in the clinch, and drag him down, then it’s a winnable fight.

The issue, though, will be getting inside. Rountree has improved hugely in recent years, and while he was once a berserker, he now possesses some decent movement that could well frustrate Smith.

If Smith were in his prime, he’d be the easy pick here. It’d be easy to imagine him weathering an early storm before taking Rountree down to dispatch him.

However, ‘Lionheart’ is no longer as durable as he once was, and even with his range, he might find it hard to close Rountree down. Given the brutal power of ‘The War Horse’, that’s a very dangerous prospect for him.

This one should be a difficult fight to call, but the pick is Rountree, probably by first round stoppage.

The Pick: Rountree via first-round KO

#3. UFC Fight Night: The Main Card

The talented Nasrat Haqparast features on this weekend's main card [Image Credit: @nasrat_mma on Instagram]
The talented Nasrat Haqparast features on this weekend's main card [Image Credit: @nasrat_mma on Instagram]

In a flyweight bout, Sumudaerji faces Allen Nascimento. Given the former's previous bouts in the octagon, this should be a fun one to watch.

‘The Tibetan Eagle’ hits like a truck, is aggressive to a fault, and last time out, he produced a stone-cold classic in a losing effort against Matt Schnell. Nascimento has a lot of experience and has a solid octagon record of 2-1, but can he really hold up to the power of Sumudaerji?

That’s highly debatable, and so the pick is Sumudaerji via knockout.

At lightweight, Nasrat Haqparast takes on Jamie Mullarkey. Both of these fighters are strong, capable, and hit hard, and so this one should be very watchable.

Of the two, it’s arguable that Haqparast is more proven in the octagon. He’s been in with the likes of Dan Hooker and Bobby Green in losing efforts, and holds strong wins over the likes of Joaquim Silva and John Makdessi.

Mullarkey may well be the better kickboxer overall in this one, as he’s very skilled and possesses an excellent sense of timing, but he also doesn’t quite have the power of his German foe, nor is he quite as well rounded.

With that considered, the pick is Haqparast via decision.

In an intriguing middleweight contest, grappler Andre Muniz faces Junyong Park. This one should be simple enough to call, and it’ll come down to whether Muniz can get Park to the ground and work his ace jiu-jitsu.

‘Sergipano’ is not quite the perfect fighter. He struggles with takedowns at times, can get complacent on the ground, and doesn’t have the best gas tank. However, anyone who can submit Jacare Souza has scary skills.

Park is riding a three-fight win streak, meanwhile, but he has submitted three of those foes and appears to be more at home on the ground. With that considered, if he goes to the ground with Muniz, he could be in trouble. The pick, therefore, is Muniz via submission.

Finally, Kenan Song faces Kevin Jousset in a welterweight tilt. Song has never quite developed into a contender at 170 pounds, but he does have a lot of experience and tends to win more often than he loses in the octagon.

Jousset, on the other hand, won his octagon debut in September, but remains somewhat of an unknown quantity. This one is tough to pick, but the best bet seems to be Song via decision.

#4. UFC Fight Night: The Prelims

Picks in bold

UFC flyweight bout: Park Hyun-Sung vs. Shannon Ross

UFC lightweight bout: Steve Garcia vs. Melquizael Costa

UFC bantamweight bout: Luana Santos vs. Stephanie Egger

UFC catchweight bout: Daniel Marcos vs. Carlos Vera

UFC flyweight bout: Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Hernandez

UFC strawweight bout: Rayanne dos Santos vs. Talita Alencar

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Edited by Harvey Leonard