The UFC returns to the APEX Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 53 on Saturday night.

Headlining the event are two exciting bantamweight contenders in Rob Font and Marlon Vera who are looking to move up the ladder of a deep division.

Font is currently ranked 5th in the division and looked like he was headed to a title shot with four straight wins before losing his last bout to Jose Aldo. Meanwhile, Vera has moved up to 8th after back-to-back wins against Davey Grant and Frankie Edgar.

In the co-main event, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski will look to continue another career resurgence with a fourth straight win. Facing Arlovski will be Jake Collier who is coming off a win over Chase Sherman.

Let’s take a look at the UFC Vegas 53 main card bouts and make our predictions.

“Fighting" Rob Font vs Marlon Vera

Rob Font is the no. 5 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 34-year-old from Leominster, Massachusetts is a former CES MMA featherweight champion. Font joined the UFC in 2014 and after a decent 5-3 start to his UFC career, he won four straight bouts against Sergio Pettis, Ricky Simon, Marlon Moraes, and Cody Garbrandt. In his last bout, however, he lost to Jose Aldo at the main event of UFC Vegas 44 last December 4th.

Font is 19-5 with 8 knockouts and four submission wins. He stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 71 inches.

Marlon Vera is the no. 8 ranked bantamweight in the UFC. The 29-year-old from Chone, Ecuador was a competitor at The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America where he made it to the semifinals before being forced out of the tournament with an injury. He joined the UFC in 2014 and opened his Octagon career with a 9-4 record. He lost two of his next three bouts but has won back-to-back fights including a front kick KO of Frankie Edgar at UFC 268 in his most recent bout.

Vera is 18-7 with seven knockouts and eight submission victories. He is a switch hitter who stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 70 inches.

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Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Font has the ability to set the pace early and keep it consistent throughout the fight gives him the edge in this striking battle. He also has that laser-sharp jab which he builds nicely off. He throws pretty good combinations and is hard to stop when he gets going early in the fight.

Vera is as tough as they come and as we saw against Sean O’Malley and Frankie Edgar, he can keep up with the best strikers in the division with his grit, toughness, and heavy hands. However, he has a tendency to blow hot and cold with his punches and against a consistent striker like Font, Vera cannot take breaks in this fight.

I think Font keeps Vera off his game with his jab. He’s going to keep Chito from getting going and put him outside his range. Vera will be hard to put away, even with Font’s striking prowess. But in the end, the consistency of Font’s attacks will give him the nod from the judges in this entertaining striking battle. Prediction: Rob Font

“Fighting" Andrei Arlovski vs Jake Collier

Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion. The 43-year-old Belarusian Pitbull is one of the longest-tenured fighters in the UFC. He’s fought for promotions like Strikeforce, WSOF, Affliction, EliteXC, ONE FC, and M-1 Challenge. He holds the UFC record for most bouts 37 and most wins 22 in the UFC heavyweight division. He’s been in trouble of losing his spot on the roster several times but has always produced a winning streak to keep his UFC career alive. He is 6-2 in his last eight bouts including wins in his last three bouts.

He is 33-20 with 17 knockouts and 3 submission victories. Arlovski is 6-3 with a reach of 77 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Jake Collier is a former RFA heavyweight champion who also fought for promotions like Rumble Time Promotions, Fight Me MMA, and Cage Championships. He joined the UFC in 2014 and has alternated losses and wins in 10 UFC bouts. Collier is coming off a win over Chase Sherman last January 15th in a Performance of the Night winning display.

Collier is 13-6 with five knockouts and four submission victories. He stands 6-3 tall with a reach of 78 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

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Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Arlovski is way past his prime but somehow, every time he looks like he’s headed to retirement, he finds a nice groove and puts up an impressive winning run. That’s what he’s having right now with three in a row. He’s no longer the feared Belarusian Pitbull but he fights smart. Arlovski sticks a consistent jab, land counters nicely, and occasionally throws a flurry of punches.

Collier is fast and is a good finisher. However, he’s not beaten anyone notable in the division. He also carries a lot of additional weight which he doesn’t use to his advantage with his style of fighting.

It looks like Collier is the kind of opponent tailor-made for Arlovski to beat on points. Well, that is if Collier doesn’t starch Arlovski early. If Arlovski survives the initial flurry from Collier, he’ll settle down and find his rhythm. Once he does, he’s going to beat Collier with his kickboxing game. Prediction: Andrei Arlovski

“Fighting" Andre Fili vs Joanderson Brito

Andre Fili is a veteran who has been fighting since 2009. The 31-year-old from Federal Way, Washington fought under Gladiator Challenge, Rebel Fighting, CCFC, KOTC, and Tachi Palace Fights before joining the UFC in 2013. Fili only has three wins in his last seven bouts and is coming off a no-contest against Daniel Pineda last June 26, 2021.

Fili has a record of 21-8 with 9 knockouts and three submission wins. He is 5-11 tall with a reach of 74 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Joanderson Brito began his career in the Brazilian regional circuits, fighting for promotions like Big Way Fights, Revelation FC, Araca Fight Combat, Arena Fight Combat, and Thunder Strike. He also appeared for LFA before joining the Contender Series where he defeated Diego Lopes to earn a UFC contract. Brito lost to Bill Algeo in his UFC debut last January 15, 2022.

Brito has a record of 12-3 with five knockouts and five submission wins. He is 5-8 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Fili has picked up notable wins over Artem Lobov, Dennis Bermudez, Myles Jury, and Charles Jourdain. However, he has been unable to win more than two consecutive bouts in the UFC and has almost always lost against better opposition. Fili though has improved his game over the years and his kickboxing is good enough to match against ranked opponents.

Brito found success in the regional scene but lost to Bill Algeo in his UFC debut. He has straightforward Muay Thai skills and has produced a good amount of finishes. But he lost to Algeo who on paper is a less accomplished fighter than Fili. Algeo took Brito down twice in that bout and controlled him for five minutes, which was really why he won that bout.

Fili has the same takedown ability and looks like the better kickboxer between the two. Fili likes to move a lot and throw his strikes from different angles which should be a problem for the not-so-mobile Brito. Unless Brito connects with a big bomb early that changes Fili’s game plan, the latter is going to control the pace of the fight and pick him apart. Prediction: Andre Fili

“Fighting" Jared Gordon vs Grant Dawson

Jared Gordon is a former Duelo De Giagantes lightweight champion in Mexico and a former Cage Fury Fighting Championships featherweight champion. The 33-year-old from Queens, New York joined the UFC in 2017. After opening his UFC career with a 3-3 record, Gordon has won three straight bouts including a split decision win over Joe Solecki in his most recent outing

Gordon is 18-4 with six knockouts and two submission victories. He is 5-9 tall with a reach of 68 inches.

Grant Dawson began his career with Omaha Fight Club, Shamrock FC, Victory FC, Titan FC, and Kansas City Fighting Alliance before appearing in the Contender Series where he submitted Adrian Diaz to earn a UFC contract. Dawson won his first five UFC assignments before figuring in a majority draw with Rick Glenn in his last bout at UFC Vegas 41 last October.

Dawson is 17-1 with four knockouts and 11 submission wins. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 72 inches and is a switch hitter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Gordon isn’t an expert in one field but he is relentless in his attack and never lets up. When his hard-nosed approach starts to slow down his opponent, that’s when he begins to control the fight. Between the two, Gordon is the better striker and he looks to have more pop in his punches. However, he has to be ready for a 15-minute wrestling battle.

Dawson meanwhile has excellent chain wrestling, although his kickboxing has improved over the years. If he can get to the top position, he’s good at pinning his opponents on the ground and forcing them into submission positions. However, since moving up in weight, he’s had a harder time doing that to naturally bigger opponents.

I think Gordon has some success early with his striking but once Dawson gets the fight to the mat, the problem is if he can take it back up. I believe he can but not after Dawson picking up points with top control and submission attempts. It’s going to be Gordon early but Dawson climbs back to win the fight via decision. Prediction: Grant Dawson

“Fighting" Darren Elkins vs Tristan Connelly

Darren Elkins is a former C3 Lightweight champion who also fought under Total Fight Challenge, Bourbon Street Brawl, and Hoosier FC before joining the UFC in 2010. He is one of the longest-tenured featherweights in the UFC and is tied with Max Holloway for most fights in the division at 23. Elkins is just 2-5 in his last seven bouts and is coming off a loss to Cub Swanson.

He is 26-10 with 9 knockouts and five submission wins. Elkins is 5-10 tall with a reach of 71 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

Tristan Connelly began his fighting career at AFC, Deep, and Battlefield League Fight. The 36-year-old from British Columbia, Canada also fought under Unified MMA and CageSport MMA before joining the UFC in 2019. After defeating Michel Pereira in his debut, Connelly lost to Pat Sabatini at UFC 261 in April 2021.

Connelly has a record of 14-7 with four knockouts and nine submission wins. He is 5-10 tall with a reach of 68 inches and is an orthodox fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Elkins is a grinder who willingly walks through shots to get his wrestling going. He’s a fighter whose grit and grind tires his opponents before he takes over fights. He’s already 37 but even at this age, he still presents a difficult matchup for any opponent in the division.

Connelly also loves to fight on the ground but he is more of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu type. He’s a very experienced fighter but in the regional scene. In the UFC, he only has two previous trips to the Octagon.

Against Elkins, Connelly’s best chance of winning this fight is to hurt him on the feet and avoid getting tangled in a wrestling match. But with Connelly being a grappler first, I think it will be hard for him not to get lured into a scrambling match and end up wrestling against the veteran.

Elkins is deep in his career and maybe even past his prime. However, his wrestling is still a problem for opponents. He just doesn’t stop until getting to the top position and won’t mind eating elbows or punches to get the takedown. He’s an exhausting customer when it comes to getting those takedowns and not only is it frustrating but also mentally wearing. Once his opponents give in, Elkins takes over. Prediction: Darren Elkins

“Fighting" Gerald Meershchaert vs Krzysztof Jotko

Gerald Meerschaert is a former RFA middleweight champion who also fought under Titan FC and King of the Cage. The 34-year-old from Racine, Wisconsin joined the UFC in 2016 and won four out of his first five bouts before losing five of seven, including a 17-second KO loss to Khamzat Chimaev. GM3 has bounced back with three straight wins, all via submission.

Meerschaert has a record of 34-14 with six knockouts and 26 submission wins. He is a 6-1 southpaw who owns a reach of 77 inches.

Krzysztof Jotko is a veteran who began his fighting career in Poland under promotions like Black Dragon, ZSSC, and MMA Attack. He joined the UFC in 2013 and had a fast start with six wins in his first seven bouts. Jotko then lost three straight fights but has recovered and is 4-1 in his last five including a split decision win over Misha Cirkunov in his most recent outing.

Jotko is 3-5 with six knockouts and one submission win. He stands 6-1 tall with a 77-inch reach and is also a southpaw fighter.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 04/29/2022

Meerschaert proved he still has it. After losing badly to Khamzat Chimaev, he’s bounced back with three straight wins and has even looked better than in his previous bouts. GM3 like to tire his opponents with his powerful kicks and once their movement is impeded, he goes for the takedowns and works his way to a submission.

Jotko is a technical wrestler and a good kickboxer. He may not be as powerful as Meerschaert but he’s a guy who can push the pace for 15 minutes and not let up. There’s nothing extraordinary about his game but because he has a very good fight IQ, he’s been able to pick up wins and extend his UFC career.

Meerschaert is the fighter who has the tools to finish this fight. However, Jotko is good at avoiding getting caught in submissions or hit with big punches. This one’s a tough call for me but I’ll give it to GM3 because, in his last three wins, he’s shown the patience when the submission doesn’t come early. I think this fight will go the distance but GM3 will land the more telling blows and score with several submission attempts.

Prediction: Gerald Meerschaert

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