Ageless veteran Alistair Overeem will attempt to derail yet another rising Heavyweight this Saturday (Sept. 5, 2020) when he takes on Brazilian bruiser Augusto Sakai at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The latest ESPN+-streamed card will also see a rebooked Light Heavyweight tussle between Ovince Saint Preux and Alonzo Menifield alongside a Bantamweight crossroads match pitting The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) finalist Sijara Eubanks against fast-rising Karol Rosa.
Because of COVID-19 and other shenanigans, we’re down to just five official “Prelims” undercard bouts at the time of writing. Let’s do the first couple and save the rest for later:
125 lbs.: Montana De La Rosa vs. Viviane Araujo
Despite going 1-1 on TUF, Montana De La Rosa (11-5) has made her mark in UFC’s Strawweight division, racking up four wins in five Octagon appearances. Her most recent effort saw her rebound from a decision loss to Andrea Lee with a three-round victory over Mara Romero Borella in February.
Nine of her professional wins, including four of her last five, have come by decision.
Viviane Araujo (8-2) had one of the more impressive women’s MMA debut in recent memory when she moved up two weight classes to knock out Talita Bernardo, then settled at 125 pounds for her decision over Alexis Davis. Unfortunately for “Vivi”, her cardio wasn’t quite there against Jessica Eye, resulting in a decision loss as “Evil’s” volume took over down the stretch.
She’s the shorter of the two by three inches, though their reaches are identical.
I’ve almost certainly mentioned it before, but just to reiterate: De La Rosa’s key weakness is that she lacks the takedown chops to make the most of her excellent top control. That’s more than a little worrisome here, as Araujo has her out-classed in both power and striking technique and has also handily denied all eight takedown attempts sent her way in the Octagon. So long as “Vivi’s” gas tank holds up, she’ll be able to run circles around De La Rosa as the latter struggles to tie up and bring it to the mat.
That’s a qualifier that shouldn’t be ignored, though. That’s because Araujo has visibly slowed in her last two bouts, and De La Rosa’s submission chops are such that she could very easily get the finish after a single completed takedown. Still, even a tired Araujo looks like more than De La Rosa can handle. Araujo takes the first two rounds and fends off a late surge to seal the deal.
Prediction: Araujo via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Alexander Romanov
After missing the Light Heavyweight limit twice in a row, Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-6-1) returned to Heavyweight for the first time since his UFC debut and made up for lost time with a decision over Adam Wieczorek. Though he failed to capitalize on a strong first round against Stefan Struve and ultimately tapped, he got back in track last February with a faceplant knockout of Ben Sosoli in Auckland.
“Pezao” owns 12 professional wins by form of knockout and another three via submission.
Moldova’s Alexander Romanov (11-0) started his professional career with nine consecutive first-round finishes before requiring three rounds to put away Sultan Murtazaliev in 2018. After scoring a slam knockout the next year, he joined UFC, only for the coronavirus to scratch planned debuts against Raphael Pessoa and Marcin Tybura.
“King Kong” has finished six opponents in less than two minutes apiece.
I haven’t gotten to use the phrase “two-true-outcome fight” in a while, so forgive me for busting it out here. de Lima, despite being an undisciplined Light Heavyweight cosplaying a Heavyweight, packs truly horrific power the likes of which Romanov has ever seen. On the other hand, “Pezao” is embarrassingly helpless off of his back and has appalling fight IQ. For example, recall how he dropped Struve, dominated the rest of the round, and then initiated the grappling in the second instead of just smashing the division’s easiest target. If Romanov gets on top, he’ll have little to no difficulty getting the finish.
There’s your outcomes: either de Lima clips the former rikishi in the opening minutes or gets rag-dolled and demolished on the mat. Considering Romanov’s size advantage, I favor the latter. “King Kong” forces him to the fence, slams him down, and either pounds or chokes him out soon after.
Prediction: Romanov via first-round submission
Three more UFC Vegas 9 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including Hunter Azure’s return from his first career defeat. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 9 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 9: “Overeem vs. Sakai” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.