UFC Vegas 31 is slated to go down this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the co-main and main event will be supercharged following the chaotic night at UFC 264.
UFC Vegas 31 will air on ESPN+ and take place within the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Islam Makhachev will fight Thiago Moisés in a pivotal lightweight affair. But before we get to the headliner, let’s take a closer look at the co-main event of the evening.
After an extended hiatus from the sport of MMA, one of the pioneers of women’s MMA is back, as former bantamweight champion Meisha Tate returns to action against a fellow veteran in Marion Reneau. Despite the show not being a pay-per-view, this card is stacked top-to-bottom, so fight fans are scoring big this week.
CO-Main Event Preview + Prediction
Former champion Tate hasn’t fought in over four years since leaving the sport. Following a decision loss to former title challenger, Raquel Pennington, Tate and the promotion parted ways. Either way, “Cupcake” always brings good fight IQ and will never abandon her game plan or title aspirations—especially as a mother.
“… I’m not here for anything less than gold. I want to be the best in the world. I’d love to say I’m doing this because I’m a mom, and I want to inspire my kids and all this. That’s all cherry on the top.” Meisha Tate said when speaking on the UFC broadcast.
Before leaving the organization, Tate lost her title to the ever-dominant double champ Amanda Nunes but left on the heels of a subsequent loss to Raquel Pennington. At the time, it seemed like the staple bantamweight was just burned out from the game and had intentions to start a family.
Facing Tate is the 44-year-old Reneau, who admittedly stated that this is more than likely her last UFC fight. Reneau divulged that all signs are pointing to this being her last fight in UFC competition. Reneau’s last win in the Octagon came in 2018, where she submitted Sara McMann with a triangle choke.
While some might think this is a ‘layup’ fight for Tate, the level of competition she faced must be taken into account. Despite losing to Cat Zingano and UFC title challenger Yana Kunitskaya, Reneau’s strength of schedule is downright impressive.
I see the inactivity of Tate causing a very slow and tentative first round, and then I expect fans to see a wrestling clinic that results in Tate getting her hand raised in a fight that was not closely contested. I don’t think Reneau’s striking will be enough to stop the game plan of “Cupcake.”
Prediction: Miesha Tate
UFC Vegas 31 Main Event Preview + Prediction
First known as one of Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s training partners, Islam Makhachev had yet to really make a name for himself. Then, a coming-out party per se occurred when the Russian systematically broke down Drew Dober with a submission finish victory earlier this year. With a single blemish on his record, the Dagestan native is currently on a seven-fight win streak.
In Makhachev’s way, is Brazil’s Thiago Moisés, who enters UFC Vegas 31 on a three-fight win streak. Moisés has six submission wins on his record, and he’s extremely dangerous because of his durability and, most importantly, because he is more than willing to fight off his back aggressively. With leg-lock submissions and a couple of triangle-choke submissions wins to his name, Moisés has various paths to victory that may be flying under the radar.
Thought to be the next Nurmagomedov, certainly, Makhachev has big shoes to fill as so many around him believe he is destined to become champion. However, the lightweight needs to string together a couple of wins against ranked opponents first.
As it stands, Makhachev is notched at #9 in the lightweight rankings, with Brazil’s Moisés sitting right outside the top 15 with a #14 ranking. There is little doubt this fight will be pivotal in the development of the lightweight landscape in 2021.
This fight will be more competitive compared to the one above, and I believe it will be a showcase Makhachev’s skills. Since he is so highly regarded, and at such a young age, he will continue to improve fast. At times, he seems chinny, but his tactical awareness and shot selection are easy reasons for why I’m picking him against Moisés this weekend.
Prediction: Islam Makhachev
Which fight do you think has the makings to be more exciting at UFC Vegas 31 this weekend?