The UFC is back at the Apex this weekend with another action-packed card headlined by veteran fan favorite Holly Holm -185 taking on Mayra Bueno Silva +144 in a huge matchup in the wide-open Bantamweight division. The main card opens with a Lightweight firefight between fan favorite Terrance McKinney +120 and Nazim Sadykhov-154, see my prediction for that and every other matchup on the card below.
Odds Provided by Stake.com Accurate as of 7/14/2023 2:30 PM EST
The Bantamweight main event could determine who is next in line for the newly vacant title. Holly Holm is a veteran of the game who has used her elite kickboxing and, recently, her well-developed grappling game to remain near the top of the division for years. Mayra Bueno Silva enters this matchup having finished two straight wins; she has an aggressive submission game, although she has never gone five rounds and has been picked apart at a distance by good kickboxers.
I’ll pick Holm here as I think she will have a significant edge in striking and cardio, although I’m not very interested in betting this price against a dangerous finisher at her age.
Pick: Holm O/U: Over 4.5 -208
Short notice fight at Welterweight takes the co-main spot here as JDM finally has a fight. Jack Della Maddalena is a top-rated prospect with boxing that is enjoyable to watch, although his defensive grappling still needs to be tested at the UFC level. Bassil Hafez steps in here; he is a wrestler with a good submission game and power in his hands, although he came in late in the week and missed weight looking rough in the process.
This may be the first time we see JDM’s wrestling defense tested, but I think he will be fine, as his striking advantage should be massive to overcome on such short notice.
Pick: Della Maddalena O/U: Under 1.5
Well-rounded Middleweights test each other in this one. Albert Duraev may not be the biggest for the weight class, but he has very strong grappling, and his striking fundamentals are enough that he is comfortable standing for a round if need be. Jun Yong Park is a well-paced boxer with a high fight IQ, as he has shown the desire to attack his opponents’ weaknesses.
I’m picking Park here as I think he has the cardio advantage, and his striking will be enough to edge the scorecards, although my bet for this fight is it to go the distance as I believe both men are durable, and we may see a lot of clinch time killing the clock.
Pick: Park O/U: Over 2.5 -139
A critical fight for the Women’s Featherweight’s future occurs here. Norma Dumont enters, having won five of her last six showing decent hands and wrestling skills. Chelsea Chandler got the stoppage in her UFC debut, although she was taken down with relative ease early, which gives me concern as she steps up in competition.
I’ll lean with Dumont here, although this could easily be a split decision type fight where it’s better to have the underdog or no money down at all; I’ll pass.
Pick: Dumont O/U: Over 2.5 -244
Interesting clash of Lightweights looking to get on track. Ottman Azaitar is a very powerful puncher, although he generally throws one shot at a time and is not very fast. Francisco Prado is a very young prospect with fast hands and a solid wrestling attack; he lost his debut on short notice against Jamie Mullarkey but was able to show his hands and decent cardio there.
I’ve got Prado here as I think he has way more upside in the grappling and cardio departments and is much faster than the inactive Azaitar.
Pick: Prado O/U: Over 1.5 +137
Fast finishers start the main card off at Lightweight. Terrance McKinney has become known for his crazy athleticism that has led to some very quick and dominant showings; however, as the fight goes on, it is clear McKinney fades, and he is very hittable. Nazim Sadykhov is a high pace forward-pushing striker with a solid ground game and a chin.
I took Sadykhov here as I think this fight is even early, but the farther into the fight it goes, the more likely it becomes that Sadykhov will take over.
Pick: Sadykhov O/U: Under 1.5 -192
Clash of styles here at Featherweight. Tucker Lutz is a good grappler, although he is not the most physical fighter, which can look bad. Melsik Baghdasaryan is a fast kickboxer who has greatly improved his grappling over his career; despite his last loss being a submission, he looked good before an odd mistake.
The odds have thinned out a bit, and I like Baghdasaryan here; his grappling defense is pretty good, and I think he has a clear advantage on the feet.
Pick: Baghdasaryan O/U: Under 2.5 +110
Tough matchup for an unbeaten debutant at Strawweight. Istela Nunes has had a rough run in the UFC, hindered by her early high pace that leads to her being drained after one round. Victoriya Dudakova enters this undefeated but also relatively untested, with several submission wins on her resume.
At these odds, this fight is absolutely a dog or pass situation, and I’m going to pass, although I don’t blame anyone for taking a chance on Nunes or her early finish props at these numbers.
Pick: Nunes O/U: Under 2.5 -104
Fun, Lightweight matchup that features a clash of styles. Austin Lingo is a solid boxer with good power and pace, although his grappling defense is suspect. Melquizael Costa is a finisher with power in his hands and a good submission attack, although his defense is questionable, and his cardio seems inconsistent.
I’ll pick Lingo here as I think he has a striking advantage, and at these odds, I favor him to defend the submission attack of Costa and keep a higher pace.
Pick: Lingo O/U: Over 2.5 -122
Lightweight finishers look to meet in the center in this exciting matchup. Genaro Valdez is a wild brawler who swings heavy, but he leaves himself very open to punches coming back which has cost him; he also has questionable cardio. Evan Elder returns off an impressive showing against Nazim Sadykhov, where he lost due to a cut after dropping his opponent and looking very sharp in the process.
Elder is one of my more confident picks on the card, as he looked great his last time out, and I am not very high on Valdez.
Pick: Elder O/U: Under 1.5 +119
A fun Flyweight matchup will see an intriguing test for a fresh face in the division. Tyson Nam is a hard-hitting veteran who has still proven dangerous through the late stages of his career. Azat Maksum is an intriguing newcomer who enters with a mix of knockout and submission finishes and has also proven he can go the distance and get a decision.
I like Maksum here as I believe he finishes a nearly forty-year-old Nam in this one.
Pick: Maksum O/U: Under 2.5 -145
Two Lightweights looking for their first UFC win battle here. Carl Deaton III is a rather small Lightweight with solid striking behind a nice lead hand, although he was dominated in the grappling in his UFC debut against Joe Solecki. Alex Munoz has limited experience for someone his age, although he has competed with solid-level competition showing a solid wrestling attack, although he can lunge in during the striking.
I think Munoz should be able to use his wrestling to control enough of this fight to get his hand raised.
Pick: Munoz O/U: Over 2.5 -227
The card opens with a Women’s Bantamweight clash. Ashlee Evans-Smith returns from a long layoff here, losing four of her last five against rather unimpressive competition. Ailin Perez looks to bounce back after a disappointing debut here; she has shown solid finishing ability outside the UFC, although her cardio is not great.
I’ll pick Perez here as she is much younger and has been a much more active fighter.
Pick: Perez O/U: Under 2.5 +150
Albert Duraev vs. Jun Yong Park Fight Goes The Distance