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UFC Vegas 67 preview: Javid Basharat looks like a future star

Get the dirt on the preliminary action of UFC Vegas 67, featuring a plethora of young talent, highlighted by Javid Basharat, one of the top prospects in the UFC.

Javid Basharat punching Tony Gravely at UFC Vegas 60
Javid Basharat punching Tony Gravely at UFC Vegas 60
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

While there was some good MMA action while the UFC took its annual turn of the calendar break, it’s good to have the UFC back in action. No disrespect to other organizations — they do provide solid MMA action – but the UFC’s depth is undoubtedly unrivaled, meaning they do put forth the most consistently good action. While the UFC’s first card of 2023, UFC Vegas 67, does have several good fights, just about all the depth is confined to the main card. That isn’t to say the prelims don’t have some fighters worth keeping an eye on – Javid Basharat in particular looks like a big player in the near-future – but the competitive fights are between fighters with limited ceilings. In fact, it feels more like an episode of DWCS. Given there are seven alumni – none of them established as contenders yet – only adds to that feeling.

  • If the opponent of Abdul Razak Alhassan is there to be hit cleanly, it’s very likely Alhassan will put them to sleep. Of course, if they can simply find a way to avoid that, they are most likely to find their way to victory given the limitations of Alhassan’s attack. Granted, Alhassan changed camps to Team Elevation last year and displayed a willingness to do more than just stand and trade, but it’s hard to see that being a long-lasting change as he enters his late 30’s. Nevertheless, he’s likely to get the fight he wants out of Claudio Ribeiro as the Brazilian has secured each of his wins before the final bell on the strength of his punching power. Ribeiro has good instincts and natural power, but he doesn’t have the cleanest technique. Alhassan isn’t always a model of technical prowess himself, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see Ribeiro pull off the upset. After all, Alhassan’s durability does appear to be in decline. That said, Alhassan’s punchers are cleaner, making it more likely he lands first. Thus, the most likely scenario appears to be the veteran doing what he does best when someone stands in front of him: putting them to sleep. Alhassan via KO of RD1
  • Mateusz Rebecki isn’t the typical prospect that comes through DWCS. Whereas most come into the series early in their careers looking to fast track their road to the UFC – perhaps foolishly – Rebecki already has 19 professional fights underneath his belt. It isn’t a padded record either. Rebecki is ready to be thrown into the fray, no need to slow track him at all. Granted, Rebecki doesn’t look like he’s going to be title challenger as he’s a limited athlete and is an undersized lightweight. Despite those restraints, Rebecki should have more than enough within his toolbox to do what he wants to Nick Fiore. Fiore is very much a wild card. Yes, he has looked impressive, securing first round finishes in all six of his professional fights, but they’ve also come against career cans. The combined record of his opposition when he faced them: 61-234. Fiore has good size and has looked dominant on the mat, but I’d be worried if he didn’t look dominant against those opponents. Plus, while Rebecki doesn’t have a major weakness anywhere, the wrestling and grappling aspect of fighting is where he’s most comfortable. It looks like it will be a rough welcome for Fiore. Rebecki via submission of RD2
  • I really like Mateus Mendonca as a prospect. He’s young, athletic, explosive, and has a fantastic BJJ base. He looks like he’s got a very bright future ahead of him. What I don’t love is how the UFC is throwing him to the wolves right away after winning his way onto the roster via DWCS. Perhaps some might disagree with me given Javid Basharat was signed off DWCS himself just a year previous. However, Basharat looks like a top-flight prospect himself with far more meaningful experience under his belt than Mendonca possesses. I’ll admit Mendonca appears to be the more physically gifted product, but Basharat is by far more polished in addition to showing an impressively high fight IQ. Throw in that Mendonca has plenty of defensive holes – as most youngsters do – and I very much expect Basharat to identify and expose the holes of the young Brazilian. Basharat via TKO of RD3
  • I’m not sure if Allan Nascimento will be able to continue making the flyweight limit too much longer. Massive for the weight class and already on the wrong side of 30 in a division where aging out tends to happen rapidly, there’s an expectation he’ll bump himself up to bantamweight sooner rather than later. As it stands, so long as he can make it to 125, he’ll be a physical force other flyweights would rather not deal with. Not that he’s a great wrestler or much of a power puncher, but he’s very economical with his offense. Most comfortable on the mat, he tends to employ a smothering style that tends to frustrate his opponent. Carlos Hernandez is going to have his work cut out for him to avoid Nascimento’s controlling efforts. Sure, Hernandez has proven difficult to keep down thus far, but he also hasn’t faced someone with the experience and savvy of Nascimento. If Hernandez can keep the fight standing, he’s easily the more effective striker, throwing crisp punches at a pace Nascimento will find hard to keep. Hernandez has the higher upside by a significant factor and should be improved from his most recent outing. Despite that, I’m not sold that Nascimento is sliding backwards yet and he’s easily the craftiest opponent Hernandez has faced in his career. I think the Brazilian teaches the American a thing or two on his way to a razor thin victory. Nascimento via decision
  • I have no doubt Nick Aguirre thinks he’s ready for the big show. After all, it takes an insane amount of confidence to reach the pinnacle of any sport, often overlapping into cockiness. Not that I’m say Aguirre is cocky, but the youngster probably should have started fighting some recognizable veteran names on the regional scene before jumping to the UFC. To be fair to Aguirre, he certainly looks the part. He’s got a solid wrestling base, good speed, and a dogged submission game that’s sure to catch any opponent who lets their guard down. But jumping in with the likes of Daniel Argueta is a BIG step up from what Aguirre has been facing. Argueta hasn’t even proven himself in the UFC either. Granted, the TUF alumnus turned in a strong showing against Damon Jackson, showing all sorts of grit and heart to survive the notoriously wily submission expert’s best attempts to put him away. Both men are ground based with shortcomings in their striking, but Argueta has at least held his own against credible opposition standing. Should they neutralize one another on the ground – a distinct possibility – that will count for something. That Aguirre is taking the fight on just several days notice doesn’t help his prospects either. Argueta via decision
  • No one is sure what to make of Jimmy Flick. The lanky flyweight earned his way onto the UFC roster with a gritty performance on DWCS, then wowed everyone with a flying triangle choke in his UFC debut. Even if he didn’t have the look of a future contender, many were excited by his submission abilities. Leading up to his sophomore effort, Flick suddenly retired before he could step into the UFC cage for a second time. Now, he’s back, as most first retirements in MMA tend to be temporary. Regardless of Flick’s toughness and submission prowess – his most notable traits – his heart has to be questioned if he retired in his prime. Charles Johnson isn’t an easy matchup for him either. Not that Johnson is another level above Flick, but he’s a difficult stylistic contest. Johnson is resilient as hell, pushes a hard pace, and is the superior striker. Most tellingly, he’s proven difficult to hold down and even harder to submit. I would lean towards Johnson and his outside striking attack even if I knew Flick’s heart was into it. I will acknowledge money can be a hell of a motivating factor – the reason Flick is coming back to the sport – but there seems to be enough reluctance in Flick’s return that I feel very comfortable in picking Johnson. Johnson via decision
  • There was a time when many considered Priscila Cachoeira to be the worst fighter on the UFC roster. After dropping her first three UFC contests, she has reeled off four wins in her last five appearances. Her detractors will point out she has received several favorable matchups, but that argument can be applied to most fighters. Cachoeira has learned to better avoid takedowns, allowing her insane durability and prodigious punching power to shine. However, she has the biggest challenge in front of her in Sijara Eubanks. At flyweight, Eubanks was good enough to have earned her way to a title shot, only to blow that due to weight cutting issues. However, it has been diminishing returns for her as she continues to struggle to make the weight class as she missed weight in her last contest. Given her success is dependent on her being the bully, that better prove to be the case for her if she hopes to be successful. There’s no guarantee that will be the case as Cachoeira is a big flyweight herself. If the fight becomes a slugfest, Eubanks does have some pop, but not quite on the level of Cachoeira. If Eubanks opts to return to her roots and ground out Cachoeira, she’s likely to win... provided she has the gas tank to do so. Given how poor her cuts to 125 have been, I don’t trust she will. For all her grappling accolades, Eubanks has never secured an official submission victory in her pro career. At 37, I don’t see a resurgence for Eubanks. Cachoeira finishes off a fading Eubanks late. Cachoeira via TKO of RD3