Big boys helm the Octagon’s return to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday (June 4, 2022) when Alexander Volkov and Jairzinho Rozenstruik attempt to battle their ways back into contention at each others’ expense. In UFC Vegas 56’s co-main event, Dan Ige faces Movsar Evloev in a Featherweight crossroads match, while Alonzo Menifield takes on UFC newcomer, Askar Mozharov, in a potential Light Heavyweight banger.
We’ve got four UFC Vegas 56 “Prelims” undercard bouts to still be examined (check out the first batch here), and now’s as good a time as any …
155 lbs.: Joe Solecki vs. Alex da Silva
Joe Solecki (11-3) followed his Contender Series graduation with three straight victories, including a decision over the resurgent Jim Miller. His fourth Octagon effort saw him start strong against Jared Gordon, only to struggle down the stretch en route to a split decision loss.
He gives up 2.5 inches of reach to “Leko” despite being one inch taller.
Though he couldn’t overcome Alexander Yakovlev’s ground game in his UFC debut, Alex da Silva (21-3) got back on track with a decision over “Kazula” Vargas. A year-long layoff followed, which he ended with an entertaining and hard-fought decision loss to Brad Riddell.
All but one of his wins have come inside the distance, 13 of them via knockout.
I genuinely believe da Silva has a lot more potential than he’s shown in the Octagon. He’s certainly got Solecki beat on the feet and can theoretically hold his own in both the wrestling and submission games. The upset’s feasible, but “Leko’s” cardio keeps me from pulling the trigger. He faded badly against Riddell despite largely dominating the first round, which suggests that even if he can shut down Solecki when he’s fresh, he can’t do so for long.
Prediction: Solecki via second round submission
145 lbs.: Damon Jackson vs. Daniel Argueta
Damon Jackson (20-4-1) announced his return to the Octagon by stunning Mirsad Bektic on short notice, only to fall to Ilia Topuria his next time out. He’s since won two straight, out-lasting Charles Rosa and submitting Kamuela Kirk in successive efforts.
Fifteen of his 18 stoppage wins have come by submission.
Daniel Argueta (8-0) — Brian Ortega’s first pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 29 — put on one of the season’s best fights, but ultimately fell short in his quarterfinal clash with eventual winner, Ricky Turcios. He has since bounced back by winning and defending the LFA Bantamweight title.
He steps in for Darrick Minner on short notice and makes his second appearance in less than one month.
Even putting aside the fact that Argueta took quite a bit of damage in a five-round war just a few weeks back, this is just a bad match up for him. His style relies on wrestling opponents to the mat and mauling them from top position, which he’ll find incredibly difficult against a far larger man in Jackson who’s a very capable ground artist in his own right. Argueta doesn’t figure to fare much better on the feet, either, as he’s defensively inept and a fair bit less rangy than “The Leech.”
None of this is to say Argueta can’t win — he’s definitely the better wrestler of the two pound-for-pound and his grit is not to be underestimated. Between the short notice, the size difference and the clash of styles, though, I see this going poorly for him. In short, Jackson physically overwhelms him to a decision win.
Prediction: Jackson via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Ode Osbourne vs. Zarrukh Adashev
Ode Osbourne (10-4) defied the odds to submit Armando Villareal and claim a UFC contract on Contender Series’ 2019 season. “The Jamaican Sensation” has alternated wins and losses in the Octagon proper, most recently turning aside a late surge to beat C.J. Vergara by decision.
He has submitted five foes and knocked out another three.
Zarrukh Adashev (4-3) Adashev had the misfortune of facing Tyson Nam and Sumudaerji in his first two UFC bouts, resulting in a winless (0-2) start in the promotion. With his back against the wall, he out-struck Ryan Benoit to secure a spot in the UFC win column.
He stands two inches shorter than Osbourne and gives up eight inches of reach.
I won’t lie and say that Osbourne’s lived up to the promise he appeared to show on Contender Series, but this sure looks winnable for him. Adashev has had real issues navigating reach disparities during his Octagon tenure, and eight inches is significant enough that even a flawed striker like Osbourne should be able to keep him at a distance without issue. Plus, if Adashev does manage to get inside, Osbourne has enough functional wrestling skill to at least disrupt the pure striker with takedown attempts.
The only major concern is Osbourne’s cardio, which should hold up long enough to bank at least two rounds. Expect a repeat of the Vergara fight as he controls the early and middle portions with long-range offense before hanging on to survive a rally.
Prediction: Osbourne via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Niklas Stolze vs. Benoit Saint Denis
Niklas Stolze (12-5) joined the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) on the heels of four consecutive wins, three of them inside the distance. “Green Mask” is still looking for his first UFC victory, however, dropping consecutive bouts to Ramazan Emeev and Jared Gooden.
He’ll enjoy two inches of height and an inch of reach on Saint Denis.
France’s Benoit Saint Denis (8-1) made his name in the Brave CF promotion, racking up four stoppage wins and defeating UFC veteran Luan Santiago along the way. “God of War” wasn’t quite as successful in his UFC debut, which saw him absorb an ungodly amount of punishment from Elizeu “Capoeira” for his first-ever defeat.
All of his wins have come by stoppage, including seven submissions.
Both of these men have a lot to prove after some disastrous performances, but while getting sparked in 68 seconds is never a good look, Stolze actually raised fewer red flags. It’s not just that Saint Denis showed zero defensive skills against Zaleski dos Santos, he couldn’t consistently take or hold down “Capoeira” despite the latter’s historically shaky takedown defense and his own grappling pedigree.
Stolze has a clear edge in speed and technique on the feet and generally does a good job of stopping takedowns and/or getting back to his feet. Even if Saint Denis wasn’t reeling from the beating of a lifetime, it’s just a bad style match up. Once the dust settles, Stolze pieces him up for his first UFC win.
Prediction: Stolze via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 56’s main- and co-main events aren’t half bad and there’s a gem or two to be found among the rest. Not the worst way to spend an afternoon. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2022: 77-37
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 56 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 56: “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.