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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Vegas 15: Blaydes vs. Lewis - Prelims preview

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Get all the bare essentials for the early fights of this week’s UFC VEGAS 15 card, featuring fan favorite Rachael Ostovich welcoming Gina Mazany to the flyweight division.

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Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UPDATE: Blaydes vs. Lewis has been cancelled due to Blaydes testing positive for COVID-19, is is presumed Anthony Smith vs Devin Clark will be elevated from the Co-Main and become the new headliner for the event.

It shouldn’t be a surprise there isn’t a whole lot of quality to this week’s UFC VEGAS 15 event. After all, who in the hell wants to be cutting weight during the week of Thanksgiving? Those who were willing to sacrifice a hearty turkey dinner were hardly prominent names. However, one has to give many of those who did so even further credit as they will be making further cuts down to new weight classes. Even if they aren’t the biggest fans of turkey, they’re passing on pie, stuffing, potatoes… all the vittles. Even if it’s hard to care about these fights, the participants deserve a fair amount of respect.

  • It’s pretty apparent the UFC wants to turn Rachael Ostovich into a mainstay of the roster. The organization has a soft spot for Hawaiian competitors and Ostovich has the added advantage of sex appeal. Unfortunately, her work in the cage has yet to prove she deserves her roster spot. It isn’t that the tools aren’t there. A strong wrestler with good pop, Ostovich has been her own worst enemy with mental lapses. There’s a good possibility her personal life was affecting her mental state, but she appears to have that in order at this juncture. Her wrestling ability will be put to the test by Gina Mazany as wrestling is not only Mazany’s base, she will have a definitive size advantage as she drops down to 125 from bantamweight. However, despite her recent progress in her standup, Mazany doesn’t have any other real strengths to fall back on. This isn’t a gimme for Ostovich by any means as Mazany may very well be able to overwhelm her smaller opponent with her size, provided it doesn’t compromise her gas tank. However, I’m inclined to believe having a bigger tool bag should allow Ostovich to spoil Mazany’s flyweight debut. Ostovich via decision
  • For those of us who’ve followed her career, it isn’t much of a surprise to see Ashlee Evans-Smith returning to the bantamweight division. While she was larger than just about every other competitor at flyweight, she was also incredibly compromised by the massive weight cut she was making to get to 125, coming across as slow and lumbering, unable to effectively take advantage of being the larger competitor. While she’s never been a shining example of defensive prowess, it was a rare occurrence when Evans-Smith made her opponent miss a strike. Her speed should increase with better hydration, along with her energy levels. Throw in the fact that Norma Dumont can’t hope to match the speed of Evans-Smith’s flyweight opponents and things look pretty good for her. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a path to victory for Dumont. A skilled BJJ practitioner, Dumont abilities on the mat coincide with Evans-Smith’s tendency to put herself in compromising positions. Unfortunately for Dumont, that’s about the only edge she has as she is still very early in her MMA career, the rest of her skills far from being polished. Evans-Smith has been willing to stand and trade, but it’s been rarely said she had a definitive advantage on the feet. There’s no doubt she does this time around. Evans-Smith via decision
  • There’s no other way to describe the contest between Martin Day and Anderson dos Santos as an attempt to avoid the chopping block. Both are without a UFC win under their belts despite multiple attempts and neither appears to be worth investing a lot of resources into. That doesn’t mean the UFC doesn’t likely have a preference. At 35 with nearly a decade worth of experience, dos Santos is closer to the end of the line than the beginning. A hard-charging veteran who doesn’t give much weight to defense, dos Santos makes up for his lack of athleticism with enthusiasm and toughness. Day is a skilled striker with a lanky frame. He hasn’t parlayed his length into much defensive success, but he has an impressive arsenal of strikes stemming from his days as a kickboxer. What the Hawaiian lacks is power. Dos Santos has a greater killer instinct, but he has less tools to work with. Day should be able to outpoint his Brazilian counterpart. Day via decision
  • To say Malcolm Gordon’s UFC debut didn’t go well would be an understatement. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to put his athleticism on display as he was taken down and kept down by Amir Albazi. It isn’t like he’s a major threat on the feet, but Gordon is a smart fighter who uses his outside attack to setup his attempts to get the fight to the mat, where his bread is truly buttered with a deep arsenal of submissions. Fortunately for Gordon, that’s the exact issue that Su Mudaerji has struggled with throughlut his career. Mudaerji is a fun striker who has a wide variety of kicks and showed progress with his boxing, though it was against a compromised Andre Soukhamthath. While Mudaerji isn’t much of a positional grappler, he is an excellent scrambler, which might be enough to survive the attack on the mat Gordon is likely to pursue. On the feet, Gordon has some major holes on defense that Mudaerji could expose, especially if Gordon’s shaky wrestling doesn’t get the job done. I’m not confident picking either combatant, but I have to admit a path to victory is available for both. I’ll go with Gordon as I’m not confident in the ability of Mudaerji’s power to translate when he cuts down to 125. Mudaerji via TKO of RD2
  • It’s hard to get a feel for Jonathan Pearce. Though he had a promising performance on DWCS – pushing a very hard pace and mixing in takedowns with his striking – he was blown away by a long-past-his-prime Joe Lauzon. It had been several years since Lauzon won a contest and it has now been a year since Pearce competed. At the very least, the potential to be a fun action fighter is still there. With a deep gas tank and a lack of attention to defense, he could become a favorite of Uncle Dana. Kai Kamaka has several of those same characteristics: deep gas tank, hard pace, sound wrestling. Kamaka isn’t quite as diverse in his attack, but his combination boxing appears to be a bit more technical than that of Pearce. However, there are a couple of X-factors that need to be balanced. Kamaka may be taking the contest on short notice, but Pearce will be cutting down to featherweight for the first time. If the cut goes well, Pearce ground game should be much more effective. If not, expect his typically high-energy performance to suffer. I know Kamaka can push a hard pace at 145. I don’t know that about Pearce. Kamaka via decision
  • While he may have won his UFC debut against Johnny Munoz Jr., Nate Maness may have hurt his stock more than helping it, turning in a lackluster victory that went in his favor due to pitty-patty action in the clinch. About the only positive taken out of it was Maness stuffed a LOT of takedowns, proving his lanky frame – he stands 5’10” with a 72” reach – won’t be too much of a hindrance when it comes to keeping himself vertical. Now if only he could have used it to keep Munoz from getting inside his range…. Nonetheless, he’ll have a different type of challenge from Luke Sanders, a longtime resident of the roster who just doesn’t fight very often. Now on the cusp of his 35th birthday, Sanders appears to have lost a step and his confidence has been hit and miss. If Sanders is locked in, he has a hell of a killer instinct. However, even when he’s on, he has very little attention towards defense. Plus, it’s been 21 months since Sanders stepped into the cage. Maness isn’t a finishing machine, but I don’t’ have a lot of confidence in Sanders at this point. Maness via TKO of RD3