X factor! Some UFC Vegas 46 main card predictions

This weekend (Saturday, January 15, 2022), the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC Vegas 46. It’s been almost a month since the UFC hosted a event, and the return to action is… well, it should be considered more of an appetizer before UFC 270 than a full meal. Sure, multiple cancellations over the past two weeks haven’t helped matters, but ultimately, there are still a few fun fights to enjoy before Giga Chikadze’s main event clash against Calvin Kattar.

Let’s take a closer look at these main card donnybrooks:

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 46 on ESPN+

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off the new year with a thrilling fight between featherweight contenders that will see the No. 5 ranking Calvin Kattar face the No. 8 seed Giga Chikadze inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on Jan. 15, 2022. The UFC Vegas 46 co-main event will feature former No. 2-ranked female Flyweight title challengers Katlyn Chookagian and No. 4 seed Jennifer Maya, seeking to get back into the championship race at each other’s expense.

Don’t miss a single second of face-smacking action!

Women’s Flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maya

Best win for Chookagian? Viviane Araujo For Maia? Joanne Calderwood
Current series: Chookagian has won back-to-back wins, while Maia returned to the win column last time out
X factor: Will Maia look to strike or grapple?
How these two match: My first instinct regarding this match was: “I have the impression that it has already happened.” Down and behold, the two fought back in 2019 with Chookagian making the decision.

Either way, Chookagian is one of the most consistent contenders at 125 pounds. She’s a high-volume kickboxer with a solid ground game, and she’s only lost to the absolute top in her division in recent years. Maia was recently pulled from a title loss, but the well-rounded Brazilian is perhaps best known for her physique.

Frankly, this doesn’t sound like a rematch that really needs to happen. I went back and watched the first fight – which I’d certainly seen before but couldn’t remember due to its totally mundane nature – and the result was decisive. Chookagian was fairly consistently able to land her jab and low kicks from range, and she was largely successful in denying her opponent’s takedown attempts.

Maia threw a lot, but she didn’t land too often. Considering the original fight wasn’t that long ago and neither woman seems to have improved dramatically, it’s hard not to bet on a repeat.

Prediction: Chookagian via decision

Flyweight: Brandon Royval vs. Rogerio Bontorin

Best victory for Royval? Kai Kara-France For Bontorin? Raulian Paiva
Current series: Royval has lost two in a row, while Bontorin picked up a win at bantamweight last time out
X factor: Royval has promised to fight smarter and Bontorin faces a severe 125-pound reduction.
How these two match: Ah, here’s a fun scrapbook!

Royval is chaos inside the cage. “Raw Dawg” boasts incredible pace, throwing cluster punches as well as dangerous kicks and spins. Whenever his fights hit the mat, Royval isn’t shy about throwing submission attempts and remains very dangerous in the scrambles.

Luckily for fight fans, Bontorin isn’t one to slow down either. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is aggressive on the feet, but his main focus is on winning first place. Often, Bontorin does this with high amplitude slams and big takedowns.

There are really two results here. On the one hand, Royval is simply the most dangerous and damaging fighter. He has a great gift for opportunism, as he is able to land big shots in wild exchanges that can turn the tide. Even if nothing huge connects, Royval is likely to do more damage more consistently and win on the feet.

However, none of this matters if Bontorin manages to ground him. Last time out, Alexandre Pantoja endured Royval’s mayhem until he was able to grab his back and quickly strangle him, undoing all the good work before. Bontorin will surely look to this fight for inspiration, as all of Royval’s activity definitely provides opportunities for his opponents.

Both men are likely to have their moments, but overall I trust Royval’s scrambling to get him out of a few bad positions and allow him to keep the momentum going in his corner.

Prediction: Royval via decision

Heavy weights: Jake Necklace vs. Chase Sherman

Best payout for Collier? Gian Villante For Sherman? Damian Grabodwski
Current series: Collier lost his last fight, while Sherman failed twice in a row
X factor: Sherman’s face serves as a punch magnet
How these two match: BANGFEST low-level heavyweight coming soon!

Collier deserves credit for its originality. Originally, the Missouri “prototype” was a scrappy middleweight. Over the years he moved up to light heavyweight and now heavyweight, where Collier reappeared after a three-year layoff. Throughout his UFC career, Collier has alternated wins and losses.

Sherman is unlikely to grow up to be a contender, but the man can be trusted to provide some “Fight of the Night” type remains. He’s durable, hits hard and can knock opponents down with his low kicks, but the former bare-knuckle boxer gets hit so often…

Would a Collier knockout shock me? No, he is quite aggressive and carries pop in his hands. At the same time, the man is not a real heavyweight, he is just in poor physical shape and is content to scrape with bigger men.

It’s not a long-term recipe for success, and a single win over Gian Villante isn’t going to convince me otherwise. Sherman is a flawed brawler, but he’s a real heavyweight, and his low kicks can dull the punches of Collier who are always sure to land.

Prediction: Sherman via KO

Lightweight: Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito

Best gain for Algeo? Spike Carlyle For Brito? Diego Lopez
Current series: Algeo fell short last time out, while Brito will make UFC debut on 11-fight win streak
X factor: UFC Tremors
How these two match: This should be a great fight…

Algeo is a player. His technical game is a fun combination of Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, but Algeo tends to end up in absolute trash. On the other hand, Brito is an aggressive and powerful athlete. He’s happy to jump into the fray and throw big shots, but he’s also got some skill on the mat.

While a fun fight is seemingly guaranteed, this one could go in a few different directions, as it’s the classic battle of technique versus physique. Algeo has a lot of talent in his game, but he’s definitely suffered losses to stronger men like Brito over the years. He’s got a good chin, but he’s likely to be tested here…but at the same time, if this one lasts long, he’s likely to favor the more experienced and technical man in Algeo.

Until we see Brito against proven UFC opponents, it’s hard to be overconfident. Still, he’s done a terrific job on the regional scene against great opposition at just 26, so I’m going to side with “Tubarao” to keep the ball rolling for his UFC debut.

Prediction: Brita via Decision

remember that MMAmania.com will provide live, round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 46 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Preliminary” matches, which are due to start at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining balance on the main card (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

For all the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 46: “Kattar vs. Chikadze” news and notes, be sure to check out our full event archive here.

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