Bantamweight contention is on the line in San Diego, Calif., this Saturday (Aug. 13, 2022) when Marlon Vera puts his three-fight win streak on the line against division legend, Dominick Cruz, inside Pechanga Arena. The co-feature sees fast-rising Featherweight, David Onama, take on fellow brawling enthusiast, Nate Landwehr, while Devin Clark attempts to shut down Contender Series graduate, Azamat Murzakanov, at 205 pounds.
We’ve got three more UFC San Diego “Prelims” undercard bouts to examine before that, though (check out the first batch here), so let’s dive right back into it …
120 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Lupita Godinez
After a 3-5 skid, Angela Hill (13-12) battled her way into contention with three consecutive victories, two of them via stoppage. She now sits at 1-5 in her last six, though three of those defeats came by split decision.
She’s ended five professional fights via (technical) knockout.
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) champion, Lupita Godinez (8-2), got off to a slow UFC start, sandwiching an armbar finish of Silvana Gomez Juarez between decision losses to Jessica Penne and Luana Carolina. She’s since battled her way into contention with dominant victories over Loma Lookboonmee and Ariane Carnelossi.
She gives up 3.5 inches of reach to Hill.
I genuinely feel for Hill. That’s because on my scorecards she beat Claudia Gadelha, Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Amanda Lemos; however, she’s officially 1-5 instead of 4-2. She’s so much better than her record suggests and I do hope she’s remembered as a genuine contender.
Unfortunately, I just do not like her chances here. Even acknowledging that Godinez isn’t immediately a contender for crushing Carnelossi’s historically poor ground game, she’s a sufficiently powerful wrestler to neutralize Hill the way Virna Jandiroba did in “Overkill’s” most recent effort. While “Loopy” is prone to some bizarre decision-making in the cage, her bread and butter looks potent enough to earn her my confidence regardless. In the end, she smothers Hill for 30-27s across the board.
Prediction: Godinez via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Martin Buday vs. Lukasz Brzeski
Heading into Contender Series, Martin Buday (10-1) had won seven straight since a 2017 loss to future The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner, Juan Espino, and he kept the momentum going by stopping Lorenzo Hood with knees. His UFC debut was a little shakier, as he was forced to settle for a technical decision against Chris Barnett after landing an illegal strike.
He stands one inch taller than “The Bull,” but gives up an inch of reach.
Lukasz Brzeski (8-1-1) entered Contender Series on the heels of a two-year layoff and a six-fight unbeaten streak, which featured a decision over UFC veteran Ednaldo Oliveira. He wound up overpowering Dylan Potter to secure a UFC contract, only to see that victory overturned because of a failed drug test.
All but one of his professional wins have come inside the distance, five of them by form of knockout.
Outside of the ranked Heavyweights, this is among the worst match ups Brzeski could have gotten for his UFC debut. “The Bull’s” style revolves around punching his way inside and mauling opponents from the clinch and top position, but Buday excels on the inside and will likely be at least 30 pounds bigger than Brzeski on fight night. He’s not a man Brzeski can bully, and Brzeski’s limited cardio means things will only get worse for him as the fight progresses.
Brzeski just lacks the gas tank or technical acumen to overcome the strength difference. While he could do some early work with his flurries, expect Buday to slowly grind the life out of him for a late finish.
Prediction: Buday via third round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. Charlie Ontiveros
Gabriel Benitez (22-11) — who began his UFC career 5-2 — now finds himself with just one win in his last five fights. “Moggly” was last seen suffering a wild comeback knockout loss to David Onama in his first bout since a ground-and-pound stoppage loss to BIlly Quarantillo in July 2021.
His 18 professional stoppage wins include 10 via submission.
Charlie Ontiveros’ (11-8) UFC debut saw him move up to Middleweight to challenge Kevin Holland on short notice, resulting in a slam knockout loss midway through the first. He dropped all the way down to 155 for his sophomore effort, in which he dropped Steve Garcia twice, but ultimately succumbed to ground-and-pound.
He’ll enjoy six inches of height and five inches of reach on Benitez.
At time of writing, Benitez is anywhere from a -345 to a -440 favorite, and I’m not sure I agree. Ontiveros’ power and penchant for bizarre strikes look like a real tripping hazard for a fighter who has been, with all due respect, something of a choke artist of late. It would be far from shocking to see Benitez once again run headlong into something nasty for yet another stoppage loss.
Still, the rest of Ontiveros’ game is so underdeveloped that it’s hard to pick him against anyone but the absolute dregs of the division. Benitez is still plenty skilled, if nothing else, and odds are Ontiveros’ kill-or-be-kill style gets him knocked out or choked out in the first few minutes.
Prediction: Benitez via first round submission
UFC San Diego’s main- and co-main events promise chaos, so be sure you’re there to experience it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Prediction Record for 2022: 118-56
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC San Diego fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC San Diego: “Vera vs. Cruz” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.