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FeatherweightsNR | Mike Grundy (12-2, 1-1 UFC) vs. NR | Lando Vannata (11-5-2, 3-5-2 UFC)
ODDS: Grundy (-120), Vannata (+100)
Five years on, Vannata is still searching to recapture the magic of 2016, which saw him have one of the more impressive starts to a UFC career in recent memory. That was mostly on the back of his late-notice debut, where he took on then-top contender Tony Ferguson and nearly broke the Californian’s winning streak before falling in the second round. Vannata rebounded with a beautiful wheel kick knockout of John Makdessi that ranked among the best finishes of the year, and so “Groovy Lando” headed into 2017 as one of the most promising prospects in the sport. From there, Vannata has mostly plateaued as the weaknesses in his style have been made apparent. His loose and flashy striking style results in some impressive moments, but Vannata is both defensively open and prone to tiring if he cannot score a finish. There was some hope that Vannata had turned a corner in February 2020, when he had a relatively measured performance against Yancy Medeiros, but those improvements went away against Bobby Green in August. Now, he makes a surprising cut to featherweight. Grundy showed some impressive new wrinkles in his UFC debut two years ago. A decorated wrestler for his native England, Grundy mostly leaned on those skills in his career prior to touching down in the Octagon, but he showed some solid pressure striking to help put away Nad Narimani. Grundy was then put into a relatively unwinnable fight against elite prospect Movsar Evloev, but despite already being 34 years old, there is the chance for the Englishman to make a surprising run up the ladder. Vannata’s move down in weight does not give off the best vibes. While he may have more of a power and size advantage, Vannata’s style hinges a lot on speed and dynamism; and the extra weight cut does not figure to help his cardio issues. As was the case before, it is probably up to Vannata to score an early finish or get worn out by his opponent. The pick is Grundy via decision.
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