MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main card for UFC on ESPN 34.
UFC on ESPN 34 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN+.
Last event’s results: 3-2
Overall picks for UFC main cards in 2022: 31-11
Welcome to MMAJunkie’s Quick Picks and Prognostications, where I’ll be giving brief, fight-day breakdowns for UFC main cards.
With that in mind, I hope these write-ups don’t come off as curt or dismissive. My goal here is to offer quick picks and analysis in a digestible format. All odds listed are provided by Tipico Sportsbook.
If you’d like more detailed analysis from me, then feel free to check out my weekly show, The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.
So, without further ado …
Matchup: Mounir Lazzez(-210) vs. Ange Loosa (+160)
Kicking off the main card on ESPN should be an all-action affair between Mounir Lazzez and Ange Loosa.
Even though Loosa is stepping in on short notice for Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, money has been coming in on the Sanford MMA product to tighten this betting line. Loosa has a lot of experience training with high-level fighters and is well-rounded to boot, but I still suspect that Lazzez’s length and activity will fill in the spaces that Loosa usually uses to reset.
Loosa also appears to get hurt a lot in his contests, as that could be the difference in what I suspect will be a close call on the scorecards.
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Matchup: Pat Sabatini (-540) vs. T.J. Laramie (+360)
In one of the best matchups outside of the main event, Philadelphia’s Pat Sabatini takes on Canada’s T.J. Laramie.
Laramie is a well-rounded and well-respected talent from the Canadian circuit, but I suspect that Sabatini will be a tough ask to come back to off of a long layoff. Sabatini is the more accoladed submission grappler and wrestler, as I believe both of those skills will translate and serve him well in this matchup.
I don’t think Laramie will go away easily, so I’ll pick Sabatini to get it done by decision.
Matchup: Mayra Bueno Silva (-520) vs. Wu Yunan (+350)
Despite the betting lines seeming oddly inflated on this card, I can’t disagree with Mayra Bueno Silva being favored over Wu Yunan.
Part of me always roots for Chinese athletes to do well given their traditional treatment in western sports, I just have a hard time seeing Wu succeed here with her raw and disjointed style. Wu may offer some frustrating looks to Silva early, but I suspect that the Brazilian’s potent power and aggressive nature eats up the Chinese fighter from both boxing and clinching ranges for the win.
Matchup: Miguel Baeza (-180) vs. Andre Fialho (+140)
In one of the more interesting offerings on this card, Miguel Baeza meets Andre Fialho for a potential welterweight war.
Although Baeza’s stock may be down off of two tough losses, he’s still a young talent who I believe has a lot of fun fights in front of him on the UFC stage. The MMA Masters product isn’t beyond getting hurt, but I still suspect he is more durable than Fialho (who appears to slow as the fight wears on).
Fialho also appears to struggle with both kicks and pressure grappling, as I’ll pick Baeza to bounce back here by using the multiple methods available to him.
Matchup: Ciao Borralho (-102) vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev (-125)
The co-main event in Las Vegas will feature a middleweight matchup between two products of Dana White’s Contender Series, Ciao Borralho and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev.
Seeing Omargadzhiev open as the favorite didn’t surprise me in the slightest, especially considering his wrestling background and undefeated record. That said, Omargadzhiev seems to have a propensity to either needlessly spin or shoot nakedly (without setup), as I see the Russian setting himself up for an emphatic knockout loss somewhere down the line.
I’m not sure if Borralho can land the flying knee he kept gunning for in his initial debut on the Contender Series, but I’ll take a flier on the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to survive Omargadzhiev’s initial storms en route to an upset win.
Matchup: Vicente Luque (-180) vs. Belal Muhammad (+140)
As stated in my in-depth breakdown, the main event on ESPN features a rematch between two fighters who are familiar with the cost of counters.
Although I’m usually the one who is reminding MMA fans that we seldom see the same fight play out between two fighters, I still suspect that the matchup dynamic – despite their improvements since their first meeting – still largely remains the same: If Vicente Luque can’t find a finish within the first half of the fight, then expect Belal Muhammad to steadily take over the steering wheel.
I think that we’ll see a more competitive affair with a cautious start, but ultimately believe that Luque’s front-choke threats and counter hooks help him fit the bill of a bad stylistic matchup for Muhammad.