UFC Vegas 6’s ESPN+-streamed main event features five possible rounds this weekend (Sat., Aug. 8, 2020), but they probably won’t be necessary when Derrick Lewis and Aleksei Oleinik lock horns. UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, will also host former champ Chris Weidman’s do-or-die Middleweight tussle with Omari Akhmedov and a quality Lightweight scrap pitting Beneil Dariush against Scott Holtzman.
Three UFC Vegas 6 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict (check out the batch here). On we go …
170 lbs.: Tim Means vs. Laureano Staropoli
Recent sailing has not been smooth for Tim Means (29-12-1), who finds himself 3-5 (1 NC) since an impressive 6-1 run. His most recent effort pitted him against late-notice foe Daniel Rodriguez, who hurt Means in the second round before finishing him with a guillotine choke.
“The Dirty Bird” has knocked out 19 pro foes and submitted five others.
Laureano Staropoli (9-2) got off to a red-hot Octagon start in 2018, brawling his way past Hector Aldana and Thiago Alves to establish himself as a credible Welterweight threat. The momentum failed to carry him past Muslim Salikhov, resulting in a decision loss in Singapore.
“Pepi” gives up an inch of height and 3.5 inches of reach to Means.
This fight is essentially a referendum on how much Means has left in the tank. He has a clear technical edge on Staropoli on top of his reach advantage, but falling to an ostensibly far lesser striker in Daniel Rodriguez is cause for concern.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that Staropoli’s only UFC wins came over Hector Aldana — who’s 0-3 in the Octagon — and a thoroughly shot Thiago Alves. “Pepi” was decisively outclassed by Salikhov, even surrendering three takedowns to the Kung Fu specialist. That should give Means plenty of confidence, as he’s got some wrestling in his back pocket alongside the Muay Thai. His length, technique and versatility get him back in the win column.
Prediction: Means via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Nasrat Haqparast vs. Alex Munoz
A loss to Marcin Held in his short-notice UFC debut didn’t stop Nasrat Haqparast (11-3) from punching his way into title contention with three consecutive wins, among them a bonus-winning knockout of Joaquim Silva in Newark. The run wasn’t to last, as the surging Drew Dober put Haqparast down just 70 seconds into their fight.
The Tristar-trained product has scored nine professional wins by form of knockout.
Team Alpha Male’s Alex Munoz (6-0) received a “Contender Series” headlining slot against Nick Newell in 2018, beating the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) standout but failing to secure a contract. He would not fight again until almost 15 months later, when he took a unanimous decision over Troy Lamson in Honolulu.
He was originally slated to debut against Luis Pena in February, only to withdraw because of injury.
Losing to Dober — who’s 6-1 in his last seven and really coming into his own as a contender — isn’t cause to write Haqparast off. He remains a blue-chip talent with some of the most vicious hands in the Lightweight division and certainly has the tools to dispatch Munoz. Though the Alpha Male product is a very capable wrestler and has developed a solid counter-striking game, Haqparast’s speed and power look like far more than he can handle.
Munoz’s best chances lie in using his smothering top control to grind out long stretches of the fight on the mat, but Haqparast has proven difficult to wrangle since the Held defeat. The way Munoz appeared to fade down the stretch against Lamson last time out suggests that he might not have the gas tank to keep up with Haqparast’s high-volume offense, so even if he does find some early grappling success, expect Haqparast to wear him down for a finish late in the second or early in the third.
Prediction: Haqparast via second-round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez vs. Wellington Turman
Andrew Sanchez (11-5) enjoyed a dominant run through The Ultimate Fighter 23, beating the touted Phil Hawes and Khalil Rountree en route to tournament victory. It’s been a rougher road in the Octagon itself, as he’s lost three of his last five and been stopped twice.
“El Dirte” will have one inch of height and four inches of reach on Wellington Turman (16-3).
Brazil’s “Prodigy” entered the UFC on short notice, replacing John Philips against Karl Roberson and fighting his way to a narrow split decision loss. He entered his sophomore bout against Markus Perez as the underdog, but came on strong to take a decision over the former LFA champ in Sao Paulo.
Seven of his professional wins have come via submission.
The great tragedy of Andrew Sanchez is that he has some genuinely elite skills: heavy hands and quality wrestling combine to make what should be a contender-worthy game. Unfortunately, he’s held back by painfully shoddy cardio.
Luckily for him, this is the sort of fight in which he’ll excel. The three men who beat him in the Octagon, Anthony Smith, Ryan Janes and Marvin Vettori, are all known for their pace and striking volume. Turman, on the other hand, isn’t. Indeed, he’s a grinder to the core, attempting a combined 16 takedowns in his last two appearances. Against Sanchez — who has never been taken down in UFC — that’s not going to cut it. “El Dirte” figures to land the better punches on the feet and control the wrestling to take a wide decision.
Prediction: Sanchez via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 6 features big dudes with a habit of scoring memorable finishes at the helm, which makes for a solid weekend of entertainment. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 6 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 6: “Lewis vs. Oleinik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.