Tag: khabib nurmagomedov

PREVIEW | UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor – Full card and predictions

THE UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2021 sees its biggest draw return to the octagon atop a stacked main card to be hosted at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Fighters littered up and down the card will be keen to latch onto the attention garnered though the highly-anticipated main event, with plenty of statements to be made on the famed Fight Island.

>> SCROLL for the full card and predictions

Just over a year removed from his spectacular showing at UFC 246, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor steps into the octagon for a second time against Dustin Poirier, but much has changed since their first meeting in 2014.

Both have gone on to claim UFC gold in the lightweight division but will be out to impress current title holder, Khabib Nurmagomedov and potentially earn rematches against the undefeated Dagestani champion.

They won’t be the only 155-pounders eager to claim their contendership status, with the co-main event pitting vicious New Zealand striker Dan Hooker against UFC newcomer Michael Chandler.

Hooker’s last bout saw him edged by Poirier in a five-round war, while Chandler has held brass in Bellator’s lightweight division and now makes the long-awaited move to MMA’s leading promotion.

Another title eliminator of sorts takes place as women’s flyweight contenders Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood lock horns, with both eager to climb back into the top five and claim challenger status.

Another women’s bout slots into the main card as Brazilian prospects Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas do battle, both on hot streaks and holding the potential to rise steeply with an impressive outing.

A potential banger between two men with some of the best monikers going around rounds out the main card action, as Matt ‘The Steamrolla’ Frevola meets Ottman ‘Bulldozer’ Azaitar. The undefeated Azaitar has shown plenty during his short time in the UFC, but comes up against a tough Long Island favourite in this bout.

FULL CARD AND PREDICTIONS:

FOTN: Hooker vs. Chandler
POTN: McGregor, Ribas, Azaitar
Prelim banger: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast

MAIN CARD

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Conor McGregor [4]
Prediction: McGregor by T/KO

Lightweight | Dan Hooker [6] vs. Michael Chandler
Prediction: Chandler by decision

W. Flyweight | Jessica Eye [6] vs. Joanne Calderwood [7]
Prediction: Eye by decision

Lightweight | Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
Prediction: Azaitar by T/KO

W. Strawweight | Marina Rodriguez [8] vs. Amanda Ribas [10]
Prediction: Ribas by submission

PRELIMINARY CARD

Lightweight | Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Prediction: Tsarukyan by decision

Middleweight | Brad Tavares [14] vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Prediction: Tavares by T/KO

W. Bantamweight | Julianna Peña [7] vs. Sara McMann [9]
Prediction: McMann by decision

Light Heavyweight | Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Marcin Prachnio
Prediction: Rountree Jr. by T/KO

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD

Middleweight | Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov
Prediction: Muradov by T/KO

Catchweight (150lbs) | Nik Lentz vs. Movsar Evloev
Prediction: Evloev by decision

Flyweight | Amir Albazi [15] vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Prediction: Albazi by submission

Image Credit: UFC – (Retrieved via) Main Event

State of Play: 10 UFC fights to book before the end of 2020

WITH over half the year already behind us and the leading mixed martial arts promotion back into the swing of things, we put on our matchmaking hat to bring you 10 fights the UFC should make before the end of 2020.

Having done the same before Conor McGregor famously head-kicked (or shouldered) the year off in style, we know there are plenty of variables to play out yet, but think these are the matchups which will take fans’ minds most off the shambles we are currently experiencing amid a global pandemic.

Note: The proposed fights are ordered by weight class, working down from heavyweight.

>> UFC Rankings
>> UFC Pound-for-pound

Heavyweight | Stipe Miocic [C]/Daniel Cormier [1] vs. Francis Ngannou [2]

No, we’re not already looking past the trilogy fight between Miocic and Cormier, pegged as the UFC 252 headliner in August, but this is rather a point to say that Ngannou deserves a second title shot. The scarily powerful Cameroonian has been on a tear since late-2018, embarking on a four-fight run of first round KO/TKO finishes. Of his victims, former champion Junior dos Santos lasted longest – 71 seconds.

The guy is nuts, but if his latest victory (a 20-second KO over Jairzinho Rozenstruik) is anything to go by, the questions surrounding his technique, maturity, and avenues to victory remain. Miocic managed to thwart Ngannou last time out to retain his heavyweight belt, and Cormier didn’t seem overly impressed by his wild combinations while on comms, but we’re sure the number two ranked fighter has a point to prove. He only needs one shot, and hopefully doesn’t have to wait too long to get the chance to land it.

Middleweight | Israel Adesanya [C] vs. Paulo Costa [2]

Has it been made yet or not? Many media outlets have gone with the story, but UFC president Dana White insists the dotted lines remained unsigned. Even before dispatching of Yoel Romero in one of the more forgettable title fights of all time, Adesanya’s most worthy next opponent has long been Costa. Injury has kept the Brazilian on the sidelines for a while, and he has made no secret of the fact he is chomping at the bit to be given a shot at UFC gold.

It is the fight that makes the most sense, despite the UFC bizarrely querying on social media whether the winner of Robert Whittaker and Darren Till‘s Fight Island bout should be next in line for a crack at ‘Stylebender’. In an interesting quirk, which only adds to the intrigue of the matchup, it would be only the second UFC title fight between two undefeated men since Rashad Evans took on Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009. Make it happen.

Middleweight | Robert Whittaker [2]/Darren Till [5] vs. Jack Hermansson [6]

This one has only piqued the interest of late, and promises to keep things moving at middleweight. While Whittaker and Till will have their focus firmly fixed on coming out on top in their bout at the weekend, Hermansson has already made it known that he has eyes on the winner.

It makes sense too, with ‘The Joker’ fresh off a first round submission victory over former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, while the remaining pair in question are arguably the most deserving title contenders after Costa (see above). Hermansson’s grappling prowess promises to test the two polished strikers, with both also boasting terrific takedown defence. A good test all-round, but with parts still moving.

Welterweight | Colby Covington [2] vs. Jorge Masvidal [4]

MMA fans have an almost perverse obsession with the old ‘friends-turned-enemies’ storyline, so this fight promises to give all you sickos a fix. After ‘Gamebred’ stepped in on late notice to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight belt, his stocks are as high as ever, even in defeat. Covington has a lot less admires, including former teammate and best buddy, Masvidal, but is right up there with the world’s best 170-pound contenders.

Both now have a common defeat on their records, and it narrative aside, need to bounce back from those losses. With the likes of Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards also looming as fresh and worthy adversaries for Usman, these two will need to again prove that they belong in the title conversation. Of course, they could be playing us all with an act, but we’d still like to see them go toe-to-toe.

Lightweight | Khabib Nurmagomedov [C] vs. Justin Gaethje [IC]

Arguably the fight which seems most certain on this list is the one to unify the lightweight championship. The only factor which could possibly derail the plan of Gaethje earning his shot at undisputed glory, and rightly so, is the unexpected passing of Khabib’s legendary father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. While the champ deserves all the time in the world to mourn and get back on track, if he decides to do so, this bout has been pitched for UFC 253 in September. Gaethje has also been offered Conor McGregor in the meantime, but… no.

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Tony Ferguson [3]

We’re all for keeping divisions moving, and what better way to produce the next lightweight contender than to have these two go at it. The two never produce boring fights, period, and have both been so close to the undisputed crown having held the interim strap at varying points in time. Remarkably, the perennial contenders have yet to meet in the octagon.

Poirier has made it clear that he wants either a big name or a title shot having edged Dan Hooker via decision last month, and Ferguson deserves the same treatment having only just had his 12-fight win streak broken by Gaethje in May. Of course, the pair could wait for the Khabib-Gaethje matchup to pan out, but the best way to stake your claim is always to add a big name to your resume. Fans will always yearn for Ferguson to fight Khabib, too, so this may provide an avenue to that bout at long last.

Featherweight | Brian Ortega [3] vs. Chan Sung Jung [4]

While these two seemed cordial in the build-up to their proposed bout in December of last year, it would be no surprise to hear them both quote Uncle Dana in saying the other “was never (their) friend”. Things turned sour between the pair after Ortega pulled out of that main event dig with a knee injury, and was only made worse after ‘T-City’ slapped up Zombie’s translator.

They have been going back-and-forth for a while now and, pandemic permitting, should settle the beef this year in what would be an incredible fight. The featherweight title was only recently put on the line, and Aussie champion Alexander Volkanovski needs a new number one contender. Both may thing they are worthy, but arguably remain a win off that honour alongside Zabit Magomedsharipov.

Bantamweight | Petr Yan [C] vs. Aljamain Sterling [2]

Alright, we understand if Yan wants to spend some time with his belt before even thinking of his first defence, but it seems as if the decision has already been made for him. The Russian himself even acknowledged Sterling as the clear, undeniable contender, and it would only makes sense to finally give ‘Funkmaster’ a well-earned shot at the belt. In reality, this should have been the matchup made at UFC 252 for the vacant title, but alas we may get to see it soon enough. Let’s have it, that 135-pound division is stacked.

Bantamweight | Cody Garbrandt [3] vs. Sean O’Malley [14]

We just told you the bantamweight division is stacked, and a matchup between these two would only confirm that. This potential bout already has some wheels, with the two indirectly going back-and-forth over social media. The former champion has been there and done that, but only now looks like returning to his former glory after a redemptive win over Raphael Assuncao last month. The undefeated ‘Suga’ Sean is fresh of an equally devastating KO victory on that same June night, and looks to be the next big thing among the 135-pound shark tank. The fans love it, and it seems both fighters will too.

W. Strawweight | Weili Zhang [C] vs Rose Namajunas [1]

Another fight which looks extremely likely to eventuate is that between these two strawweight queens. It’s the only female matchup on our list, but man is it a corker. Zhang is still riding the wave of her maiden title defence in what was a fight of the year contender against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and has already acknowledged the skillset of ‘Thug’ Rose.

The respect is clearly mutual, with a rejuvenated Namajunas enjoying the sound of this billed fight for the 115-pound strap, right after her entertaining decision win over Jessica Andrade. While Rose is arguably the most well-rounded fighter in the division, Zhang is a scary-good athlete with enormous power – a factor which wore on Namajunas in her most recent bout. It makes for an interesting stylistic matchup, and one we’re so keen to see.

UFC Rankings update: May-June 2020

THE UFC has resumed full-time operations and with it comes the ever-changing rankings landscape. Four events have gone down since the promotion’s emphatic return at UFC 249 on May 9, with the only belt to change hands that of the interim lightweight strap belonging to Justin Gaethje. Among the big winners have been Gilbert Burns, Glover Teixeira, and Alistair Overeem, while their opponents all suffered drops down the rankings. The full, updated UFC rankings can be found here, and pound-for-pound list, here with changes soon to come after the weekend’s event.

HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265lbs)

Augusto Sakai ⬆️ [10]
Blagoy Ivanov ⬇️ [15]

Sakai’s co-main event decision victory over Ivanov saw him jump three places into 10th spot, while the Bulgarian slid the same amount to number 15 as the last of the ranked heavyweights. A random shuffle saw former champion Junior dos Santos move down to fifth, leaving Derrick Lewis clear in the number four spot. Those ranked 11-14 also moved around the two active men, with the MMA community now eagerly awaiting a trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier at the top.


WELTERWEIGHT (170lbs)

Gilbert Burns ⬆️ [1]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [4]

The big story to come out of the welterweight division was Burns’ rise to number one contendership, leapfrogging his opponent in former champion, Woodley, and the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, and Leon Edwards. The Brazilian earned a title shot against Kamaru Usman with his dominant decision victory, and it remains to be seen whether Conor McGregor, who swapped places with Anthony Pettis down to number 15, will be removed upon his shock retirement.


LIGHTWEIGHT (155lbs)

Justin Gaethje ⬆️ [IC]
Beneil Dariush ⬆️ [14]
Drew Dober ⬆️ [15]

The big risers at 155 pounds were Darisuh and Dober, who each earned berths in the rankings of late. Most recently, Dober’s eye-catching TKO of former ranked lightweight Alex Hernandez earned him a spot, while stretching his win streak out to three. Random shuffles saw the aforementioned pair land at 14 and 15 respectively, while Donald Cerrone swapped places with Islam Makhachev to move to 12th, and the McGregor situation makes for some confusion at the top. Of course, Gaethje earned a title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov after defeating perennial contender, Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.


FEATHERWEIGHT (145lbs)

Calvin Kattar ⬆️ [6]
Dan Ige ⬆️ [11]
Arnold Allen ⬇️ [12]

A couple of rising prospects made the most significant leaps at featherweight, with Kattar moving to number six after defeating Jeremy Stephens at a 150-pound catchweight, while Ige continued his impressive run by defeating former lightweight contender, Edson Barboza via split decision. Allen, whose last fight was in January, was level with Ige in 11th spot, but moved one down to 12th in a random restructuring. A rematch between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway has also been marked for UFC 251.


BANTAMWEIGHT (135lbs)

There will soon be some division-defining movement at 135-pounds, with three massive bantamweight fights going down on the UFC 250 main card. Number two ranked Aljamain Sterling made yet another claim for his long-awaited title shot by submitting Cory Sandhagen in quick time, but it seems Jose Aldo [6] and Petr Yan [3] will scrap for the vacant belt. Former champ Cody Garbrandt [9] got back to winning ways with a massive knockout of veteran contender Raphael Assuncao [5], while Sean O’Malley pushed his case for a ranking with his own statement KO on the same night.


FLYWEIGHT (125lbs)

Brandon Royval ⬆️ [11]
Tim Elliott ⬇️ [12]
Mark De La Rosa ⬇️ [NR]

Royval is the new prospect on the block, debuting at number 11 in the flyweight rankings after defeating former title challenger, Elliott in a fight of the night scrap on the Woodley vs. Burns undercard. Numbers 12-15, including Elliott were shuffled down, with De La Rosa pushed out of his number 15 spot and thus, the rankings altogether. Alex Perez [9] will also be a big mover having defeated Jussier Formiga [4] on the latest card, with Joseph Benevidez and Deiveson Figueiredo set to rematch for the vacant title.

MENS POUND-FOR-POUND

Francis Ngannou ⬆️ [14]
Dominick Reyes ⬆️ [15]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [NR]
Henry Cejudo ⬇️ [NR]

WOMEN’S POUND-FOR-POUND

Nina Ansaroff ⬇️ [15]


WOMEN’S DIVISIONS

There has been no movement in any of the women’s divisions, but that may be soon about to change as flyweights Jessica Eye [1] and Cynthia Calvillo [10 SW] headline the promotion’s upcoming Fight Night. Amanda Nunes of course successfully defender her featherweight belt against Felicia Spencer in the latest PPV event, while number two flyweight Katlyn Chookagian dismantled Antonina Shevchenko [12] in their bout, and Angela Hill was denied a berth in the rankings after losing a tight decision to Claudia Gadelha. Carla Esparza and Sijara Eubanks were other ranked winners, and Mackenzie Dern may find herself among the strawweight numbers after submitting Hannah Cifers in quick time.

Card preview – UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje

FROM Brooklyn New York, to a short-lived secret fight island, and its eventual home in Jacksonville Florida, UFC 249 is finally set to go down this weekend – albeit with an improvised starring cast. The long-awaited Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson fight may have been scrapped for a fifth time, but fans are set to be treated to a barn-burning headliner as Justin Gaethje steps in for a shot at the interim lightweight title, capping off what is set to be the most stacked UFC event in some time. Combat will once again carry the sporting world on its shoulders with this 11-fight showcase, despite one of the scheduled athletes, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza testing positive for COVID-19. The show must go on.

Check out the full card below, as well as our predictions from top to bottom in our UFC 249 card preview.
Spoiler, there are no boring fights on this card.

MAIN CARD:

Lightweight [IT] | Tony Ferguson [1] v. Justin Gaethje [4]

The wait for a Khabib-Ferguson bout continues after the undisputed champ revealed he would not be able to leave his homeland amid the current global pandemic, but we get an absolute belter in the meantime as Gaethje squares off with El Cucuy for his first shot at UFC gold.

Many bouts have had all the promise of fight of the year contendership, but this is one which should truly deliver with the pair in question two of the most entertaining fighters on the roster, period. Ferguson’s endless weapons and unique flow meet Gaethje’s knockout power and perennial forward movement, making for an interesting clash of styles.

The former WSOF champion is most dangerous in the early stages and Ferguson has been known to get hit much more often in the early rounds, meaning the challenger will have to strike while the iron is hot. Ferguson cuts up his opponents as they wilt in the later rounds, which has hardly been the case for Gaethje in his fights, but he’ll want to get it done quickly nonetheless.

While Gaethje is deserving of recognition as one of the world’s best, fans would largely agree that Ferguson should be next in line for a shot at the undisputed throne given his UFC-record 12-fight winning run. It won’t be easy, though, with his submission game pending on Gaethje’s underrated grappling prowess. We still back El Cucuy.

Prediction: Ferguson via submission.

Bantamweight [T] | Henry Cejudo [C] v. Dominick Cruz

Legacy is on the line as Cejudo defends his bantamweight strap against former champion, and the greatest 135’er of all time, Cruz. The bout will stand as Cejudo’s first 135-pound title defence since capturing the vacant belt at UFC 238 against Marlon Moraes, while Cruz steps back into the octagon he once dominated for the first time since losing the belt to Cody Garbrandt in December, 2016.

Those who see this as a one-sided, hand-picked fight are mistaken, as Cruz’s credentials need no introduction, and the lay-off period clearly has not impacted him in the past. His unlikely title victory over TJ Dillashaw in January, 2016 should be all the proof anyone needs, it is just a question of whether the 35-year-old still has what it takes and if his body can hold up.

Cejudo will test every bit of it with his heavy hands and dominant wrestling as he looks to take out another legend of the game. Cruz’s movement makes him almost impossible to hit, though Garbrandt managed to of late, and he is a high-level wrestler himself. That means the champ’s key strengths will be answered to, but he has proven before that he is capable of working through adversity to come out on top, even against the seemingly unbeatable. The new age wins again here.

Prediction: Cejudo via decision.

Heavyweight | Francis Ngannou [2] v. Jairzinho Rozenstruik [6]

A match-up between two hard hitting heavyweights jerks the curtain for the main and co-main events, as Ngannou and Rozenstruik look to push their case for entering the championship frame. Both men have achieved the feat of knocking out legendary striker Alistair Overeem in brutal fashion, and come in off incredible win streaks.

In the red corner, Ngannou has won three-straight bouts via first round KO after suffering the only two consecutive defeats of his professional career, while Rozenstruik has left it a touch later in two of his four promotional finishes. The Surinamese contender sits at a formidable 10-0, a winning run which his opponent had also previously managed – albeit after a loss.

For that extra bit of experience both in the octagon and cage overall, it seems that Ngannou should have the edge in this one. But either man can win at any time with just one blow, it will just be about who lands it first, or better. We doubt there’ll be much grappling, but keep our fingers crossed to avoid a Ngannou-Lewis repeat.

Prediction: Ngannou via T/KO.

Catchweight (150.5) | Jeremy Stephens [7] v. Calvin Kattar [9]

Stephens may have missed weight for this would-be featherweight match-up, but fans should forgive the veteran given the circumstances. This ranked bout between two terrific stand-up combatants should be an instant fan-favourite, and is an underrated choice for fight of the night.

Neither man has been known to take a backwards step, and have earned their notoriety among the world’s best having brought it to some of the greatest contenders of the time. That being said, both men come in off losses, with Stephens’ 0-3-1 run in his last four bouts reading worse than Kattar’s 2-2. With the chance to challenge for top five status and latch onto some winning momentum, this one should bang.

Prediction: Kattar via T/KO.

Heavyweight | Greg Hardy v. Yorgan de Castro

Another highly-anticipated bout between two (massive) heavyweights with serious power opens the main card, as Hardy and de Castro look to crack the rankings. Somewhat still on a quest to fully win fans over, Hardy has nonetheless made waves every time he has fought, not afraid to take on more seasoned opponents. Scary as de Castro may be, the 6-0 fighter lays claim to one-less professional fight than Hardy, and the American also has the edge in terms of dealing with the promotion’s bright lights.

That may not help him when he meets de Castro though, with the Cape Verde native putting away four of his six opponents within the first round. Hardy has tasted defeat within the octagon, and that sometimes puts fighters in better stead should the deep waters arise. It is difficult to split the pair, but their raw talent should deliver a good show in a test of their true credentials.

Prediction: Hardy via T/KO.

PRELIMINARY CARD:

Welterweight | Anthony Pettis [15] v. Donald Cerrone [6 LW]

Two men who are no strangers to headlining shows this time spearhead the undercard, as Cerrone continues his welterweight dabble against Pettis. ‘Cowboy’ is of course coming in off his loss to Conor McGregor and two more before that, but there is no reason to doubt the promotion’s winningest fighter given he has faced the stiffest of competition.

Pettis has also had a difficult time of it of late, losing three of his last four bouts to similarly tough opposition while finding it hard to consistently find his form of old. ‘Showtime’ does boast a win over Cerrone though, back in 2013 via a body kick, so may look to test the veteran in a similar fashion given his susceptibility in that area.

Both men can win the fight in a multitude of ways, with terrific, crisp striking combining with their high-level grappling talent. Given Pettis’ recent loss via submission, Cerrone may look to exploit him on the mat, but every bout begins on the feet. If Cerrone can avoid Pettis’ power and respond in due course, it will be a tough night for the former champ.

Prediction: Cerrone via submission.

Heavyweight | Aleksei Oleinik [12] v. Fabricio Werdum

This bout between two veteran heavyweight grapplers and mixed martial artists is somewhat of a sleeper on the prelims, with former champion Werdum making his long-awaited return to competition against submission extraordinaire Oleinik.

Both men are 42 years old, but Oleinik’s 72-fight career is no mean feat, especially given someone as credentialed as Werdum only lays claim to 32 professional MMA bouts. There is no questioning the talent and experience of these two competitors, and it should prove a good test of just how ready the Brazilian is as Oleinik poses many threats on the ground.

But Werdum may look to gain the ascendancy on the feet despite his BJJ prowess, with an underrated striking game and some solid power behind him. This kind of step-up in competition has often proven one too far for Oleinik, and he will need to get the fight to the mat as quickly as possible to stand any chance. The two may cancel each other out on the ground, however.

Prediction: Werdum via decision.

W. Strawweight | Carla Esparza [7] v. Michelle Waterson [8]

The sole female fight on the card poises two strawweight contenders against each other in inaugural champion, Esparza, and women’s MMA staple, Waterson. The ‘Karate Hottie’ is a fan favourite, but fell short in her run to the 115-pound strap after going down to Joanna Jedrzejczyk last October.

Of course, it means both women have a loss to Joanna on their records, but can still lay claim to sharing the octagon with some fantastic fellow contenders. A revamped Esparza looks to be on the right track having lost her belt in 2015 and since embarked on a patchy run. Now an experienced member of the rankings, she will have to be at her best against an absolute OG of the game. Wrestling seems her most viable avenue, but Waterson is crafty on the ground and maintains distance well with her kicks.

Prediction: Waterson via decision.

Welterweight | Vicente Luque [13] v. Niko Price

This absolute gem of a fight, hidden at the bottom of the prelims is set to kick off a stacked card in style. Two of the most dynamic welterweights in Luque and Price face-off as they look to secure their status as ranked fighters, with the Brazilian currently locked in among the top 15. Price is not far off, especially after his vicious upkick victory over James Vick.

The enigmatic American has had just one of his 18 fights go to decision, and he has shown he can win the fight from just about anywhere. But Luque has already beaten his next opponent, in 2017, and possesses a slightly more consistent UFC record. His six-fight losing run was brought to an end by Stephen Thompson, and the top 10 kind of opponent has often tested him.

There are nine ‘of the night’ bonuses between the pair, and neither man will take a backwards step here. it should be another fun fight, and an interesting clash of unique styles. It could end in absolutely any way, so do not count out the fighter who may seem to be losing at any point.

Prediction: Luque via submission.

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD:

Featherweight | Bryce Mitchell v. Charles Rosa

One of the most highly-touted promotional up-and-comers in Mitchell faces one of the toughest tasks of his young career as he looks to take out an experienced foe on the early prelims. Rosa, a six-fight UFC veteran has competed against some solid names while returning three fight of the night performances. Mitchell has been similarly entertaining in his three-fight UFC career having pulled off a twister, and boasts an undefeated professional record at 12-0. It’s tough to split them, but it’s always great to see the new age shine.

Prediction: Mitchell via decision.

Light Heavyweight | Ryan Spann v. Sam Alvey

A fun light heavyweight bout is set to open the show altogether, as the unranked Spann and Alvey go toe-to-toe at the bottom of the card. Spann is undefeated since earning a UFC contract via the Contender Series, showing a great all-round game along the way. ‘Smiling Sam’ has long been a promotional staple, but comes in having lost his last three bouts despite his notable experience.

Prediction: Spann via T/KO.