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UFC Vegas 89 predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Namajunas vs. Ribas


Rose Namajunas’ quest to conquer a second weight class looks to finally gain some ground this weekend (Sat., March 23, 2024) when she meets two-time bonus winner, Amanda Ribas, atop UFC Vegas 89, which will take place inside (you guessed it!) UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The co-feature pits Contender Series graduate, Karl Williams, against Aussie slugger, Justin Tafa, while Cameron Saaiman looks to bounce back from his first-ever loss at undefeated Payton Talbott’s expense.

Three UFC Vegas 89 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (checkout the first batch here), so let’s see what ESPN+ has in store for us …

UFC Fight Night: Ogden v Motta

155 lbs.: Kurt Holobaugh vs. Trey Ogden

Despite seeing his 2017 Contender Series beatdown of Matt Bessette overturned because of unapproved IV use, Kurt Holobaugh (21-7) got his Octagon shot one year later, only to leave the organization winless (0-3). After a pair of get-well wins in XFC, he joined the cast of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 31, finishing Lee Hammond and Jason Knight in the house before choking out Austin Hubbard at the Finale (watch highlights).

Seventeen of his professional wins, including all of them since 2016, have come inside the distance.

Trey Ogden (16-6) followed his controversial UFC debut loss to Jordan Leavitt with an upset of Daniel Zellhuber, only to fall short against another towering Latino prospect in Ignacio Bahamondes. “The Samurai Ghost” was well on his way to evening up his UFC record after two dominant rounds against Nikolas Motta, but had to settle for a “No Contest” after the referee prematurely called off the bout (see it).

He’ll enjoy a two-inch reach advantage.

Holobaugh’s weakness is and always has been his takedown defense. Thiago Moises and Raoni Barcelos combined to take him down seven times and the two he gave up to Hubbard suggest that he’s yet to fix the issue. A fighter who compensates for technical deficiencies with raw aggression can’t afford to give opponents such a consistent escape route.

Though Ogden is nobody’s idea of an overpowering wrestler — boasting a shiny 16 percent takedown accuracy in the Octagon — he’s willing and able to just keep shooting over and over until it works. That cardio — combined with a rapidly improving standup game, make me think he can consistently blunt Holobaugh’s momentum with takedowns and rack up enough top control to claim victory.

Prediction: Ogden via unanimous decision

UFC Fight Night: Fiziev v Gamrot

145 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Julian Erosa

After joining UFC via Lookin’ for a Fight, Ricardo Ramos (16-5) kicked off his Octagon tenure with a 5-1 run, notably beating Michinori Tanaka, Aiemann Zahabi and Kyung Ho Kang along the way. He’s since alternated losses and wins, most recently succumbing to a Charles Jourdain guillotine in Sept. 2023.

He faces a four-inch height disadvantage and a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.

Julian Erosa (28-12) initially washed out of UFC on an 0-3 skid, but made the most of his second chance with a 5-1 run that saw him earn two post-fight bonuses. The momentum wasn’t to last, as he enters the cage this Saturday on the heels of back-to-back knockout losses.

Twelve of his 23 professional finishes have come via submission.

In the interest of full disclosure: I really struggle to get a bead on Erosa. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve picked at least three of his last five fights incorrectly. Just keep that in mind when I say that I can’t see Ramos losing this without a truly spectacular brain fart. Erosa’s career-long durability issues are back in the spotlight after a brief remission and Ramos is the superior grappler besides.

To be clear, that brain fart is very possible — I still remember Ramos boogering his way to a ground-and-pound loss against Lerone Murphy and he somehow bumbled into Jourdain’s only good submission. Erosa’s chin still seems like the more pressing issue, especially since Ramos also has his ground game to rely on. I say he chins “Juicy J” sometime late in the first frame.

Prediction: Ramos via first round knockout

UFC 292: Katona v Gibson

135 lbs.: Miles Johns vs. Cody Gibson

Miles Johns (14-2) — who claimed Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) gold in 2018 with a split decision over Adrian Yanez — dominated Richie Santiago on Contender Series to claim a contract in 2019. He currently sits at 3-2 (1 NC) in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion after a failed drug test overturned his Sept. 2023 decision over TUF veteran, Dan Argueta.

He steps in for Davey Grant on little more than two weeks’ notice.

The first UFC tenure for Cody Gibson (20-9) saw him 1-3 in the span of 12 months before leaving the promotion in 2015. An 8-2 surge brought him to The Ultimate Fighter eight years later, but after dispatching Mando Gutierrez and Rico DiSciullo in the house, he fell short against Brad Katona on the Finale. He stands three inches taller than Johns and boasts a five-inch reach advantage.

Pace seems like the deciding factor here. Though Johns has a strong gas tank, as seen when he shut down Argueta’s wrestling onslaught, he’s prone to baffling bursts of inactivity at times. That’s an awful problem to have against Gibson, a merciless pressure fighter who — unlike Argueta — is an actual threat on the feet.

Gibson admittedly ran out of steam against Brad Katona, but Johns rarely throws even a third as many strikes as Katona did that night. Without the offensive wrestling to punch through Gibson’s takedown defense or the consistent output to slow him down on the feet, it seems inevitable that Gibson walks him down and out-works him for the win.

Prediction: Gibson via unanimous decision

Well, at least UFC leaves its APEX venue next week. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current Prediction Record for 2024: 45-17

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 89 On ESPN+

FLYWEIGHT FISTICUFFS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to its APEX venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 16, 2024, with a titanic tilt between Australian power puncher and master of the Shoey, Tai Tuivasa (14-6), and longtime 265-pound keeper of gates, Marcin Tybura (24-8), across five rounds of heavyweight action. In UFC Vegas 88’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, Tar Heel “Butcher” Bryan Battle (10-2) looks to win his third straight at the expense of Congo “Ninja” Ange Loosa (10-3) in a high-stakes Welterweight scrap.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 89 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 89: “Namajunas vs. Ribas” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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