UFC Vegas 19 picks
The UFC returns to the Apex as we are treated to a top heavyweight headliner. Number two ranked Curtis Blaydes will face off against the “Black Beast” Derrick Lewis, who is currently ranked at number four. We’ve been made to wait longer than expected for the top contenders to clash due to its cancellation in December.
This UFC Vegas 19 Fight Night card is more than just a main event. With plenty of potential fireworks throughout the card, we’re going to give you the important details ahead of the fights on Saturday’s main card.
Curtis Blaydes (14-2-1NC) vs Derrick Lewis (24-7-1NC) – Heavyweight
In their last 5:
Curtis Blaydes background: Despite falling victim to the deathly power of Francis Ngannou, Blaydes has looked his best since. Four dominant victories in a row has him as the number two contender in the heavyweight division.
Blaydes has good boxing, and can threaten on the feet. Although his best work is definitely done on the canvas. He is a suffocating presence in wrestling exchanges. Great cardio allow him to maintain this over long distances.
Derrick Lewis background: After his failed title challenge against Daniel Cormier, Lewis suffered another defeat to Junior Dos Santos. He has since bounced back and now has eyes on the title once again. Lewis, on a three fight win streak, will become a top contender should he overcome Blaydes on Saturday.
Derrick Lewis has been known as a boxer most of his fighting career. However in recent bouts, Lewis has switched it up. From head kicks to flying knees, the American has become quite unpredictable. He has also seemingly made great improvements in his wrestling, which should aid him against Blaydes.
My pick: Blaydes
Ketlen Vieira (11-1) vs Yana Kunitskaya (13-5-1NC) – Bantamweight
In their last 5:
Ketlen Vieira background: Viera has been a threatening force and a rising contender in the women’s bantamweight division. She seemed to be steam-rolling her way to a title shot before being stopped by Irene Aldana at UFC 245. She has since gotten back to winning ways and will look to make her way back up the rankings with a win on Saturday.
Viera is a well balanced fighter with good kickboxing. She tends to look to close the distance early and work off the clinch. She also has a good submission skillset which have seen her to victory on four occasions.
Yana Kunitskaya background: When it comes to UFC debuts, they don’t get more challenging than Kunitskaya’s. Her introduction in March 2018 saw her challenge Cris Cyborg for the bantamweight strap. Since then she has looked to get back to that title challenger position. The Russian looks to make it two wins in a row. Her decision victory last August over Julija Stoliarenko put her back in the win column.
Kunitskaya is primarily a striker. She likes to stay active in the clinch with her muay thai. She has good strength which helps her keep the fight where she wants, on the feet.
My pick: Vieira
Charles Rosa (13-4) vs Darrick Minner (25-11) – Featherweight
In their last 5:
Charles Rosa background: Charles Rosa is no stranger when it comes to stepping into the UFC octagon. Since making his debut back in 2014, Rosa will be making his 9th walk on Saturday. He will look to make it back-to-back wins following his win over Kevin Aguillar last June.
Rosa is an excellent BJJ artist. Whether it be off his back or in control, Rosa can threaten with submissions. He is more than capable of handling himself on the feet however. He fights out of a narrow karate-like stance to compliment his kick heavy approach.
Darrick Minner background: Darrick Minner is a relatively new face in the UFC, making his debut just under a year ago. His first outing wouldn’t be ideal for him as he picked up a loss via submission. Minner has since bounced back. Earning his own submission victory over TJ Laramie in September.
Minner is also heavily skilled in terms of Jiu-Jitsu. 22 of his wins come by way of submission, 20 coming in the very first round. He is relentless with submission attempts and looks to end the fights early on the ground.
My pick: Rosa
Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1) vs Chris Daukaus (10-3) – Heavyweight
In their last 5:
Aleksei Oleinik background: Aleksei Oleinik is quite truly the definition of veteran. The Russians professional MMA career spans over 20 years and has 61 bouts. Despite his age (43) Oleinik still finds himself to be a top 10 heavyweight. Two of Oleinik’s last four defeats were dealt by this fight card’s headline pair, Lewis and Blaydes.
There’s no guessing when it comes to what way Oleinik will fight. But that doesn’t make it easy to stop. He tends to throw his right overhand to close distance. Always looking to that the fight to the mat, he is dangerous from every angle with his submissions.
Chris Daukaus background: Chris Daukaus made his UFC debut on short notice back in August of 2020. Daukaus is now 2-0 in the organization, with two first round knockouts under his belt.
Daukaus is, as heavyweights go, an extremely sharp and fast boxer. His combinations and precision are the elements that helped the policeman have such a successful start in the UFC.
My pick: Oleinik
Phil Hawes (9-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (9-2) – Middleweight
In their last 5:
Phil Hawes background: Phil Hawes was awarded his UFC contract following an impressive display on Dana White’s contender series. Out of his 9 wins, Hawes has 9 finishes (7 KO, 2 submissions). He made a flawless start to his life in the UFC as he got a KO victory over Jakob Malkoun at UFC 254. Hawes will look to continue his good form and start establishing himself as a contender in the middleweight division.
Phil Hawes has a strong wrestling background and is often relentless with takedowns. He is no one trick pony however. The American has good boxing with vicious knockout power. He likes to press forward and back his opponent up against the cage where he can mix up his striking and wrestling.
Nassourdine Imavov background: Frenchman Imavov is in formidable form also. His six-fight win streak stretches back to early November 2017. His last outing would see him make his UFC debut, in which he got the judges decision over Jordan Williams. Imavov has not been finished since his first professional MMA fight in early 2016.
Imavov trains out of the MMA Factory in Paris, alongside UFC heavyweight contender Ciryl Gane. Similar to Gane, Imavov is a well balanced fighter. He has a good set of boxing skills as well as good wrestling fundamentals. As a striker, he is light on his feet and very patient.
My pick: Phil Hawes