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UFC Fight Night: Dern v Hill Predictions

Strawweight submission specialist Mackenzie Dern and veteran striker Angela Hill meet in a main event clash of styles at UFC Vegas 73 on Sunday morning.

UFC Vegas 73 Dern Hill

Strawweight submission specialist Mackenzie Dern and veteran striker Angela Hill meet in a main event clash of styles at UFC Vegas 73 on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

Middleweights fill the co-headliner slot at the UFC APEX with Edmen Shahbazyan squaring off against Anthony Hernandez. Emily Ducote and Lupita Godinez go toe-to-toe in a catchweight contest and Andre Fialho faces Joaquin Buckley at welterweight.

Plus, two lightweight tilts are on tap with Maheshate and Viacheslav Borshchev battling it out after the main card opener between Diego Ferreira and Michael Johnson.

MAIN CARD (from 1 AM Sunday SA time): 

Mackenzie Dern (1.58) v Angela Hill (2.45) (Strawweight)

The weekend’s marquee match-up scheduled for five rounds is a classic striker versus grappler battle in which Hill hopes to keep it standing and Dern will do everything in her power to take it to the ground. 

Eighth-ranked Dern (12-3) is in a class of her own when it comes to the ground game in women’s mixed martial arts. A former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, she plays 3D chess while the rest play checkers when it comes to grappling. 

She subsequently boasts the most submission wins in strawweight history with four and has tapped out a total of seven opponents in all. Her jiu-jitsu wizardry makes her a special attraction, one who’s headlined two previous cards, and a tough stylistic test for anyone in the 115-pound division. 

She’s won five of her last seven but dropped a five-round decision to top contender Yan Xiaonan in her last fight. 

Hill (15-12) is a stalwart of the strawweight division. While she never broke through into the true elite at 115 pounds, she’s been a staple in the top 15 with her educated hands and feet and finds herself in 14th position following back-to-back decision wins.

“Overkill” isn’t the most apt nickname for her. Not blessed with heavy hands (she only has five knockouts to her name), the veteran instead relies on high-volume technical striking and smooth combinations. 

At 38, Hill’s not as fast and evasive as she was in her prime. That’s a big concern for the American in what’s essentially a cat-and-mouse game against 30-year-old Dern. As mentioned, she also doesn’t have one-punch knockout power to keep the Brazilian at bay.   

Furthermore, she’s struggled to work her way back to her feet once taken down by top grapplers in the past, so it’s just a matter of time before Dern drags her into her world and forces her to tap. 

Prediction: Dern by submission.

Best Bet: Dern by submission at 2.75.

Alternative Bets: Dern to win in rounds 1-2 at 4.00, under 4.5 rounds at 2.20 or Dern at 1.58.

Edmen Shahbazyan (2.95) v Anthony Hernandez (1.43) (Middleweight)

Middleweight danger men meet in the co-main event. 

A hard-hitting, versatile striker, Shahbazyan (12-3) scored his 10th knockout over ex-EFC standout Dalcha Lungiambula last December to snap a three-fight losing streak. “The Golden Boy” had an excellent start to his career, going 11-0, which included four wins inside the Octagon, and is out to start a similar run. 

Hernandez (10-2) is on a roll, having rattled off three straight wins. An excellent grappler and high-level submission artist, his latest win over Marc-Andre Barriault was his seventh by tap out, while another of his submission victims is multi-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Rodolfo Vieira.

Shahbazyan has been guilty of gassing out early and has suspect takedown defence, vulnerabilities that play into Hernandez’s strengths, so “Fluffy” looks set to continue his hot streak. 

Prediction: Hernandez by submission.

Best Bet: Hernandez by submission at 2.65.

Alternative Bet: Hernandez by decision at 3.50.

Emily Ducote (2.35) v Lupita Godinez (1.64) (Catchweight)

The pair of strawweights square off at a 120-pound catchweight after Ducote’s initial opponent, Polyana Viana, was forced to withdraw earlier this month. Both fighters are well-rounded, so this should be a keenly contested clash. 

Ducote (12-7) is the more experienced fighter and is a former Invicta champion. She also faced high-level competition in Bellator, including Ilima-Lei MacFarlane for the title back in 2017. She’s split her first two UFC fights, defeating Jessica Penne in her debut before losing to this weekend’s headliner Hill last December. 

Godinez (9-3) has momentum on her side, having beaten Cynthia Calvillo by split decision in April. The Mexican-Canadian is a fierce competitor, solid in all areas and tough as nails, with all three of her losses coming by decision.

Look for this fight to go to a decision with the strength and momentum of “Loopy” giving her the edge. 

Prediction: Godinez by decision.

Best Bet: Godinez by decision at 1.90.

Alternative Bet: Godinez at 1.64.

Andre Fialho (2.95) v Joaquin Buckley (1.43) (Welterweight)

What we have here is a welterweight war destined to finish inside the distance. 

Fialho (16-6) is a fearless striker who’s willing to take serious damage to inflict some of his own. It’s not the smartest or most technical style and certainly shortens a career but man is it fun to watch and has yielded him 13 knockouts. 

Buckley (15-6) is a muscle-bound beast of a welterweight bursting with power and flair. While he, like Fialho, will probably never climb into title contention, he’s assured himself of a place in UFC history with his all-time great jumping spinning back kick knockout (one of 11 career KOs) of Impa Kasanganay back in 2020. 

“New Mansa” is the more athletic and technical striker and throws the type of heat that crushes opponents. Fialho, who absorbs a sky-high 6.22 significant strikes per minute (while landing just 3.17 in return), simply won’t be able to withstand the powerful blows he’s set to endure.  

Prediction: Buckley by knockout.

Best Bet: Buckley by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.00.

Alternative Bet: Buckley at 1.43.

Maheshate (2.40) v Viacheslav Borshchev (1.60) (Lightweight)

Hoping to get back on track, these two lightweights will engage in a striking duel.   

Maheshate (9-2) was on a seven-fight win streak before he ran into Rafa Garcia last December. A young, fast striker full of potential, he’ll move forward and take the fight to his Russian foe with controlled aggression. 

After being neutralised by the grappling of Marc Diakiese and Mike Davis in his last two outings, Borshchev (6-3) will welcome this match-up with a fellow striker. With all but one of his wins coming by knockout, “Slava Claus” has the heavier firepower, which sees him enter as the favourite. 

However, I’m backing the speed and superior athleticism of Maheshate. The 23-year-old is eight years Borshchev’s junior and should prove to be a hard target to hit. With that in mind, I’m tipping the Chinese prospect to cash as the underdog. 

Prediction: Maheshate by decision.

Best Bet: Maheshate at 2.40.

Alternative Bet: Maheshate by decision at 5.00.

Diego Ferreira (1.64) v Michael Johnson (2.35) (Lightweight)

Veterans with elite skills promise to get the main card off to an exciting start. 

Ferreira (17-5) is a third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with 10 finishes to his name. Seven of those are by submission, none more impressive than his rear-naked choke win over former champion Anthony Pettis back in 2020. That happens to be his last win, with the Brazilian dropping his last three and hasn’t fought since December 2021.

Johnson (21-18) has 11 finishes to his credit, nine of them coming by knockout including a 2016 stoppage of Dustin Poirier. In his prime, “The Menace” was a tough out for the best at 155 pounds and has a victory over Tony Ferguson, too, while he also welcomed Justin Gaethje to the Octagon in a legendary war in 2017.  

Johnson’s remained active and has won two of his last three, including outpointing Marc Diakiese last time out. He’s the younger fighter by two years and has more left in the tank, so he should be able to stuff Ferreira’s takedowns and keep on rolling. 

Prediction: Johnson by decision.

Best Bet: Johnson at 2.35.

Alternative Bet: Johnson by decision at 4.50.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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