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Preview: UFC on ESPN 55 Prelims

Yahya vs. Henry


The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s post-UFC 300 return to the UFC Apex offers typical undercard fare with UFC on ESPN 55 this Saturday in Las Vegas. A featured bantamweight prelim pitting American Top Team’s Rani Yahya against former Deep champion Victory Henry ranks as the clear gem of the bunch, with each man looking to get back into the win column. Beyond that, it serves up the usual mix of Dana White’s Contender Series graduates hoping to carve out niches in the promotion, with the most compelling fights coming at lightweight. There, Gabrial Benitez takes on Maheshate Hayisaer in a veteran-versus-prospect showdown, and Peruvian newcomer James Llontop looks like a potential person of interest ahead of his organizational debut opposite Chris Padilla.

Now to the preview for the UFC on ESPN 55 prelims:

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Bantamweights

Victor Henry (23-6, 2-1 UFC) vs. Rani Yahya (28-11-1, 13-5-1 UFC)

ODDS: Henry (-520), Yahya (+390)

Yahya has become a bit of a forgotten man in recent years, but the Brazilian has put together a particularly underrated career. A World Extreme Cagefighting standout before coming over to the UFC in 2011, Yahya got by with an old man’s game long before turning his current 39 years of age. Never a standout athlete, Yahya has been at his best getting in on his opponents and dragging them into an ugly wrestling and grappling match, neutralizing their offense at worst and finding a submission at best. That approach has led to multiple winning streaks over the last decade and a half under the UFC banner, but Yahya has had a knack for suffering ill-timed losses, preventing him from every really getting a chance at a signature win. The last few years have been rough for Yahya, as he has had constant injury issues since a 2021 win over Kyung Ho Kang. He has made only one trip to the Octagon in the time since, and that saw him get quickly knocked out by Montel Jackson. He gets a chance at a potential rebound against Henry, though it is not a particularly soft matchmaking touch.

A decade-plus vet before his UFC debut in 2022, Henry has expectedly held his own immediately upon entering what might be the UFC’s deepest division. “La Mangosta” can hold his own on the ground but typically makes his hay with a volume-heavy striking game that has worked well in the UFC thus far, even if a loss to Raphael Assuncao showed he can be stalled a bit against a practiced counterpuncher. Henry’s last fight ended in rather notorious fashion, as a particularly damaging low blow from Javid Basharat led to a no contest, but this looks like a solid opportunity for a win. If nothing else, Yahya will need to wade into close range and give Henry the opportunity to pour on offense. Yahya might succeed in turning this into an ugly affair, but Henry should land the more effective offense throughout while staving off submissions. The pick is Henry via decision.

Jump To »
Yahya vs. Henry
Figlak vs. Hubbard
Machado vs. Mayes
Souza vs. Mann
Llontop vs. Padilla
Petrovic vs. Liang
Maheshate vs. Benitez

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