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UFC 273: Volkanovski vs Zombie - Apr 9 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

So we’ve got 272 in a matter of hours but I thought I’d bang this one up now. Jacksonville, Florida hosts this beauty.

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PPV MAIN CARD
Alexander Volkanovski© vs Korean Zombie - Featherweight Title

Aljamain Sterling© vs Petr Yan© - Bantamweight Title

Gilbert Burns vs Khamzat Chimaev

Mackenzie Dern vs Tecia Torres

Vinc Pichel vs Mark Madsen 

ESPN PRELIMS
Ian Garry vs Darian Weeks

Anthony Hernandez vs Josh Fremd

Aspen Ladd vs Raquel Pennington 

Mickey Gall vs Mike Malott

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS 
Alexey Oleynik vs Jared Vanderaa

Piera Rodriguez vs Kay Hansen

Julio Arce vs Daniel Santos

 

What a card that is! As usual, that bout order isn’t final. I’ll update it as it takes shape. But yeah, beast of a card. There’s stuff of interest throughout but I’ll be happy if those top three fights just stay intact. Cross everything and maybe they will.

 

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Alexander Volkanovski vs Korean Zombie sits atop this stacked card. Good stuff. You might remember this was originally supposed to be Volk vs Max Holloway 3. It was announced in January but almost as soon as it was reported, Holloway had to withdraw after re-aggravating an injury. Literally days after the fight was made official. Shame but the third booking of Volk vs Max was getting mixed reactions anyway. I was fine with it myself but I kind of understand why some don’t wanna see it again just yet.

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Alexander Volkanovski is one of the very best in the game right now. I try not to get into the silly pound-for-pound talk because most of the time it just descends into a ‘who’s your favourite champion’ discussion. It’s pointless. But if we’re talking the best fighters in the world currently, regardless of weight class, I think you have to put Volko right up there. Him and Usman might be top of the list for me right now. We’ve said it before but he’s also one of the more under-appreciated champs I can remember as well. Which is crazy. For as great as he is, on the whole I don’t think he quite gets the credit or respect he deserves. Probably the most under-appreciated UFC champion there’s been since Demetrious Johnson. Volk’s 23-1 now, on a 20 fight winning streak, hasn’t lost since 2013 and has beat Brian Ortega, Max Holloway twice, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes consecutively in his last 5 fights. He’s a fucking stud. A little tank. I’ve said it a few times on here but if you want proof of how good Volkanovski is, watch the two Max Holloway fights. Not that they’re FOTY calibre barnburners or anything but just watch those fights, then watch Holloway’s fights against Ortega, Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez. There’s a reason Max was able to absolutely blister those three with about a zillion strikes yet could never fully get going against Volkanovski. Even if you had Max winning the second fight with Volk, as many did, it wasn’t anywhere near the same as Max looked in those other fights where he was like a tornado of punches. Volk’s last fight was class as well.

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He beat Brian Ortega in a tremendous fight at UFC 266 in September. I still don’t get how he survived that mounted guillotine. It’s pretty much a death sentence to be in that position against someone as lethal on the ground as T-City, but somehow Volk got through it and put a beating on Ortega for the bulk of the rest of the fight.

But yeah, as stacked as the Featherweight division is, when Holloway dropped out of this third fight there weren’t a lot of options that really made sense timing-wise. Volkanovski just beat Brian Ortega, Calvin Kattar vs Giga Chikadze was already booked, Yair Rodriguez was coming off the loss to Holloway, Zabit Magomedsharipov has been on the shelf forever. There was one name that stood out.

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Chan Sung Jung AKA ‘The Korean Zombie’. It‘s still not ideal. Zombie’s 1-1 in his last couple of fights and hasn’t been that active the last few years. But under the current circumstances, with everyone else either booked or coming off a loss, it was the best option available. He’s coming off a solid win over Dan Ige last June which, yeah, ordinarily wouldn’t have bagged him a crack at the gold but he’s been fortunate with timing. And who’s gonna complain? Zombie’s one of the most entertaining and popular fighters on the roster and it’s a fresh fight for Volkanovski. Love the Zombie. I don’t like his chances much here but he’s at least a different and unique challenger for Volk. He’s got a good dig on him so there’s always that puncher’s chance where he’s concerned. And he brings that unpredictable factor. He can be a bit awkward and erratic at times in how he moves and throws strikes, and even how he grapples. He’s one of those fighters who doesn’t fight how a coach would probably tell you to fight, but it’s mostly served him well over the years. And while I’m fully expecting Volkanovski to retain the title here, I’m interested to see how he tackles this one. I think Holloway and Ortega are better overall fighters than the Zombie, and Volk beat them both. But while Zombie’s not as technical as those two, maybe that’s what could potentially give Volk some issues here. Volk can nullify and outwork conventional strikers and grapplers all day, but Zombie being so wild and unorthodox could be his biggest asset here. Maybe. I’d be surprised if the Zombie pulled it off but, as we know, stranger things can and will happen in MMA. And in a mad twist, I read recently that Holloway is now offering to be the backup incase one of these two pull out! Got to be a first that, a guy ending up as the backup for a fight he pulled out of originally? How does that work?

 

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Aljamain Sterling vs Petr Yan 2 then. Hopefully it actually happens this time. Feels like it’s taken forever and they haven’t stopped bickering and having digs at each other for a solid year now. It’s time it was settled. The seeds for this rivalry were actually planted back when Henry Cejudo retired and vacated the Bantamweight title. Yan then beat Jose Aldo in July 2020 to become the new champ and Sterling was fresh off a stunning 90 second submission over Cory Sandhagen. Yan vs Sterling was originally supposed to go down in December 2020 at UFC 256 but ended up getting postponed until March 2021.

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It finally happened at UFC 259 in Las Vegas. And for 4 and a bit rounds, it was an action packed, engrossing battle. Sterling had come out on fire and set a ridiculously fast pace right away and Yan seemed a bit flummoxed by it early on. As the rounds wore on though, Aljo wasn’t able to keep it up and Yan was getting into the fight big time. I’ll have to rewatch it to refresh my memory but by the 4th round, I’m sure I had Yan ahead on points and in control of the fight. Then, for reasons known only to Yan…

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It baffled me then, it still does now. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why Yan did this. It wasn’t like he was losing and threw the knee out of desperation. Like I said, the momentum was with him at this point in the fight. It wasn’t even like it happened during a wild, frantic exchange and he mistakenly threw the knee in the heat of the moment. That happens from time to time and it’s an honest mistake. This wasn’t that. You could hear the referee warning Yan that Sterling was technically ‘a downed opponent’, Yan paused, had a few seconds to think about it and just blasted him anyway. Sterling couldn’t continue, the fight was over. There was no grey area here. It was blatantly intentional. Again, in a fight Yan was in control of. Talk about stealing defeat from the jaws of victory! Somewhere, Andrew Golota was watching on, nodding his head in approval. Yan was rightly disqualified and Sterling was declared the winner and the new UFC Bantamweight champion.

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Just a shite situation for all involved. Winning a title on a DQ is cack but I’m not sure what else could’ve been done. Yan’s knee was about as cut and dry as it gets as far as intentional fouls go. The fallout was ugly. Sterling copped a load of criticism for celebrating with the belt despite ‘not legitimately winning it’. They were supposed to do an immediate rematch but it took a while to get booked due to a nagging neck injury for Sterling. This just fuelled the fire of the dislike between the two and they were giving each other shit every chance they got in interviews and on social media. It finally got confirmed for UFC 267 on Fight Island in October. But once again, Sterling had to pull out because of his neck.

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Cue more shit talking back and forth. It’s gone on and on and on. Yan wound up fighting at 267 anyway, Cory Sandhagen stepped in and they fought for the Interim title. They had a cracking fight that went the full 5 rounds but, ultimately, it was Yan’s hand that got raised at the end.

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One of the best fights of 2021 that. And Yan looked fantastic. Again, he was a tad slow to get going and Sandhagen was giving him all he could handle early. But Yan got stronger as the fight went on and there was no doubt who the winner was when it was all over.

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Now the rematch is finally back on. Champ vs Interim champ. I really hope it happens. I hate to be glass half empty on this but I’ll believe it when I see it. Especially with the current situation going on with Russia. If it goes ahead it should be a hell of a fight. I really think there’s a classic to be had between these two. The first fight was shaping up to be something special before Yan went all Pride rules on him. And now with all the delays, the backstory and the bad blood, it’s even better. I’m a big fan of both in the cage but I’d like to see Sterling get the W here. It would legitimise him as champ plus as awesome as Yan is bell to bell, he seems a bit of a cock. Either way, whatever the result you get the feeling they’ll meet again after this as well. Feels like a rivalry that could go on and on. Buzzing for this fight.

 

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Gilbert Burns vs Khamzat Chimaev is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and it was an easy as fuck choice. What a fight this is. Ever since Chimaev burst on the scene, we’ve been waiting for someone to test him. Well if Gilbert Burns can’t test him then I don’t know who can. There’d been rumblings of this matchup since the start of the year. Both had said they were up for it but there was no official announcement and it had all gone a bit quiet. Then this past week, out of nowhere the fight was confirmed. It’s on.

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Gilbert Burns has been one of the top Welterweights in the game for some time now. He came into MMA back in 2012 having already established himself as a world class grappler. He’s a BJJ black-belt, won gold at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in 2011, won a bunch of other medals in countless grappling competitions over the years. Just a beast on the mats. He won his first 10 fights in MMA and was already making his UFC debut by his 8th fight. He hit a bit of a wall competing at 155lbs though and lost a few fights along the way, most notably a quick knockout loss to Dan Hooker in 2018. He moved up to 170 a couple of fights later and hasn’t looked back. I think where he first really started turning heads was around 2019 when he just started jumping in on short notice against any fucker. He beat Alexey Kunchenko (who was undefeated at 20-0 previously), then he beat Gunnar Nelson, knocked out Demian Maia and dominated Tyron Woodley in consecutive fights. That got him a shot at the title last year but he got stopped by Usman. He’s since bounced back with an impressive win over Wonderboy last July.

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That was a fight I thought he might struggle in but he looked great. The bollocks on him as well. You wouldn’t get many guys coming off a loss in a title fight turn right back around and take on someone as tricky as Wonderboy in their fucking rebound fight. Then if that wasn’t ballsy enough, he’s the first of the elite level Welterweights who’s stepping in with this bastard…

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Khamzat Chimaev. 10-0, 10 finishes, 7 of them inside a round. Has won basically every second of every fight he’s had so far. Barely been hit. And still only 27! He made his UFC debut in the summer of 2020. Right at the height of the initial COVID madness, this sod just popped up for a Fight Island card. I’d never seen him, never heard of him but he came in on short notice and just schooled John Phillips. OK. Then information started coming out and stories being told that got my attention. Most significantly, his training partner Alexander Gustafsson talking about what a killer this guy was, videos of him dropping Gus in sparring etc. Then Chimaev went in 10 days later and just smushed Rhys McKee. He looked a handful but Phillips was never the best and McKee was making his debut. The question was how would he do against someone who was seasoned and coming off a full training camp? So they threw him in with Gerald Meerschaert. This was no short notice fight or inexperienced debuting guy. Meerschaert was a veteran of over 40 fights, a BJJ black-belt and an all around tough sod. Sorry to post this again but…

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Poor Gerald. And 17 seconds is all it took! Needless to say, the hype on Chimaev was off the charts after this. Dana was already practically wanking himself off every time Chimaev’s name got brought up anyway, after this Meerschaert fight it got crazy. People talking title shots and all sorts. Unfortunately for Chimaev, COVID stopped his momentum dead in its tracks. He had it bad as well. To the point that he was even talking about retiring at one stage. He kept trying to return to training and was actually booked against Leon Edwards a bunch of times but it kept getting cancelled. He missed over a year of action but finally, he was able to return at UFC 267 in October. They did him no favours with his return opponent. He was thrown straight in with Li Jingliang, who wasn’t championship level or anything but still a hard fight on paper coming off the layoff and health issues. Needn’t have worried. He completely ragdolled Jingliang with ease. Literally picked him up and walked across the cage with him, like a Dad picking up a small child and carrying him to bed. Legs dangling, feet kicking, the lot. The most demoralising thing about the whole thing though, was he was having a conversation with Dana White at cageside the whole time!

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Who says men can’t multi-task? Seriously, it was mental. Up there with Max Holloway’s “I’m the best boxer in the UFC” bit in the Kattar fight. He then choked Jingliang completely unconscious for another first round finish.

There’s been a lot of strong opinions on Chimaev, from MMA fans and media. Extreme opinions in both directions. The hype on him has been a bit silly at times, although kind of understandable. And his detractors had a point as well in arguing that we needed to see him against better competition. That was true until he did what he did to Meerschaert and Jingliang anyway. Now I think it’s clear we have something very scary on our hands. And this is why this Burns fight is so fascinating. It’s not so much just who Chimaev has beat so far, it’s the way he’s done it. A 17 second KO over someone like Meerschaert is impressive. And Meerschaert’s won and submitted 3 in a row since so it’s not like Khamzat caught him on the decline. And the performance against Jingliang was just ridiculous. For him to be that dominant at that level, you wonder how he’ll do against the top guys. And now we get to find out. On paper Burns absolutely has the grappling skills where he should be able to at least hang with Chimaev, if not better him there. And he’s heavy handed enough on the feet that he’s a threat there as well. And we really haven’t seen Chimaev’s chin tested yet. Add in the experience advantage, the level Burns has been competing against etc and there’s no reason Chimaev should be just bulldozing through Gilbert Burns like he has everyone else so far. But…what if he does?

 

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Mackenzie Dern vs Tecia Torres. OK fight, not crazy about it or anything but it’s decent enough. It’s the Torres factor for me. Just can’t really get into her fights. Hopefully Dern can drag something watchable out of her. She’s looking to get back in the win column here after dropping a decision against Marina Rodriguez in their 5 rounder in October. It was a good fight and she had a strong start but she faded as it wore on and Rodriguez was able to get the better of her down the stretch. Before that loss, Dern was on top form and coming off 4 straight wins, including 3 POTN bonuses. She’s 11-2 now and still the right side of 30 years old. With her grappling credentials, if she can build on her overall skillset then there’s no reason why she can’t still become a player in the division down the line. She needs to be beating people like Torres to get there though. And for all my indifference to Torres, she’s pretty good at what she does. Which is usually to nullify and spoil her way to lacklustre decision wins. She’s 13-5 and coming off 3 wins. She’s never been finished and if Dern can’t get her down and sub her, becoming the first to finish her, I fear it’s gonna be another dull points win for Torres.

 

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Vinc Pichel vs Mark Madsen. I remember when this fight was announced, Marcel Dorff used the two pictures above and someone in the comments said it looked like the same bloke but in one pic he’s wearing a disguise 🤣 I can’t unsee it now. Anyway, nice piece of matchmaking here. Pichel’s not well known and he’s 39 years old now, he’s one of those guys who’s been on the roster forever and nobody really notices. Me included. But he’s actually on a very solid little run. He’s 14-2, has won 7 of his last 8 and his only losses are to Gregor Gillespie and Rustam Khabilov. No shame there. He’s won his last 3 and I remember thinking he looked really good in his win over Jim Miller especially. Nothing flashy about him but he’s a hard nosed scrappy type. Madsen’s unbeaten at 11-0 but he got a late start in MMA. He’s 37 now. His peak physical years were spent on the amateur wrestling mat, where he went as far as winning a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. His wrestling has served him well in MMA as well.

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If he gets hold of you, especially the upper body, you’re going for a ride. He made his UFC debut in 2019 in front of a rabid home crowd in Denmark, and looked like a bit of a star blasting through some jabroni in a minute. He followed that up with a points win over Austin Hubbard in a fight he mostly dominated, but he did get rocked badly with a knee late in the fight. That knee wound up leading to all kinds of hassle as he suffered a broken jaw, which then got infected and he needed a second surgery. Then he got COVID. Then his wife was diagnosed with MS. I mean, fucking hell! He finally returned in August, taking a split decision off Clay Guida. As much as I like Clay, I was happy to see Madsen get that win after the shite he’d been through. You could see the relief on his face during his post-fight interview. I can’t see his undefeated streak lasting much longer but he’s gonna be a hard night’s work for anyone who can’t force him into a standup fight.

 

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Ian Garry vs Darian Weeks. Here we go then. Our second look at Garry since he signed with the UFC. He’s from Dublin, 24 years old, former Cage Warriors champ and he’s 8-0 with 6 finishes. He made his UFC debut in November and couldn’t have asked for a bigger card to make his entrance. He was on the undercard of Usman vs Covington 2 at UFC 268, held at the legendary Madison Square Garden. He fought Jordan Williams and scored a beautiful counter right KO in the last second of the first round.

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As I recall, he didn’t have it all his own way in the fight but the finish was about as good as he could’ve dreamed of and his post-fight interview wasn’t bad either. Weeks is 5-1 with 5 finishes. He stepped in on very late notice for his UFC debut in December and went the distance with Bryan Barberena in a losing effort. They probably see a bright future ahead for Garry and this is the typical steady matchmaking you’d expect but Weeks might be better than he showed in his debut. Like I said, he was 5-0, all finishes, before that and he did jump in last minute. Could be a tough one for Garry.

 

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Anthony Hernandez vs Josh Fremd. As said, a late change in direction. Hernandez was meant to tangle with Dricus Du Plessis here but shit got jumbled up. Hernandez is 8-2-0-1 and coming off the biggest win of his career to date. A shock submission win over BJJ gorilla Rodolfo Vieira. That was over a year ago now though. Not sure why he’s been inactive since, or why the fuck his nickname is ‘Fluffy’ either. Fremd makes his Octagon debut here. Never heard of him. He’s 28 years old, fighting out of Factory X in Colorado, which is where Anthony Smith and Brandon Royval train. He has a record of 9-2 with 7 finishes.

 

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Aspen Ladd vs Raquel Pennington. Not massively into this but it might be alright. It was supposed to be Ladd against Irene Aldana but Aldana is out. Not sure how this one plays out. I’m really unsure about Ladd. There was a time when I thought she was a good prospect but the knee injury and subsequent layoff a couple of years ago derailed her and she hasn’t looked the best of late. The weight cutting problem really isn’t helping either.

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She’s looked like death weighing in a few times now, had a few fights cancelled because she couldn’t make 135lbs etc. She’s only 11 fights into her career and there’s been so many issues with the weight. She was supposed to fight Macy Chiasson in October but came in heavy again and the fight got binned. She was then booked against Norma Dumont (in a main event for some reason) up at 145lbs. It was shit, she lost a decision and the main talking point coming out of it was her coach/boyfriend repeatedly bollocking her between rounds. So here we are. And…it’s at sodding 135 again! Will they never learn? I’m talking about the UFC and Ladd’s team. She might’ve looked crap at 145 last time but she’s gonna be trembling on the scale and looking like a corpse again here and she’ll probably still only scrape 137lbs and get fined again. What’s the point? It’s not helping her career and, more importantly, it’s dangerous as fuck for her health. People talk about one day seeing the ‘first Octagon death’ and how awful it would be but the first UFC death is more likely gonna be a result of stupid and reckless weight cutting like this than from a bad knockout or something. Pennington steps in on short notice. Always game. She’s been a bit patchy in form over the years but she’s been doing alright for herself lately, to be fair. She’s won her last 3 on the trot, and submitted Macy Chiasson last time out in December. She also has notable career wins over Miesha Tate, Jessica Andrade and Ladd’s original opponent Aldana. A tough fight for Ladd this, especially if she gets the weight cut wrong again and comes in flat.

 

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Mickey Gall vs Mike Malott. Not really arsed. We’re long past the point of seeing Gall as some big prospect. He’s not awful but getting old manned and stopped by 2019 Diego Sanchez pretty much killed off any of that talk for good. The Mike Perry loss didn’t help either. Sadly, at this point, it’s looking like beating up CM Punk is actually gonna go down as his career peak when it’s all said and done. Never seen this Malott chap but I wish his parents named him Timmy. Sherdog tells me he’s Canadian, 7-1 with 7 finishes and he’s coming off a 39 second submission win on DWCS in October.

 

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Alexey Oleynik vs Jared Vanderaa is a late change. Was supposed to be Oleynik against Ilir Latifi but Latifi’s dropped out. That one’s been booked a few times now and gone down the pan. Vanderaa steps in. The end seems to be getting very near for Oleynik at this point. This’ll be his 77th MMA fight! He’s 44 years old now, coming off 3 straight losses and was stopped in 2 of them. Last legs stuff. He’s had a good old run, in fairness. Wins over Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Travis Rousey and Jeff Monson are scattered throughout his vast record. Not to mention the fact that he’s probably got more wins via Ezekiel choke alone than Vanderaa has wins full stop! Vanderaa’s the much younger man at 29, but he’s got a less than stellar record of 12-7 and is coming off back-to-back losses to Alexandr Romanov and Andrei Arlovski. Tough sod, seems to bleed buckets pretty much every fight, but I don’t particularly rate him. Purely on skills, Oleynik should win this all day but I’m really not confident he’s got much left at his age and after such a long career. Nothing even against Vanderaa but it’d be nice to see Oleynik come out with a W here.

 

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Piera Rodriguez vs Kay Hansen. Never heard of Rodriguez but looking her up I see she’s undefeated at 7-0 with 5 by knockout. She won a fight on DWCS in October to get in the door and here we are. Hasn’t beat anyone you’d know yet but can’t argue with the results so far. I’m starting to think someone at UFC headquarters doesn’t like Hansen very much. She’s 7-5 and coming off back-to-back losses so they chuck her in with an unbeaten finisher who’s also an unknown? I’m sure her last two opponents were making their debuts as well. She had a strong UFC debut herself, armbarring Jinh Yu Frey, but it’s been downhill all the way since. Still only 22 years old but she’s gonna have to start turning things around and sharpish.

 

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Julio Arce vs Daniel Santos. I’ll give it a look. Always got time for some Arce. He’s coming off a TKO loss to Song Yadong in November and he’s probably never gonna climb much further up the ladder but he’s fun to watch and usually a highlight of the prelims for me. He’s had his moments as well. He’s got a decision win over Dan Ige and a headkick KO over Julian Erosa. He’s no world beater but he’s also nobody to sleep on. Don’t recall seeing Santos before but he’s 8-1 with 5 finishes and he’s a Chute Boxe guy apparently! Might be a lively one.

 

And that is 273. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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I know the bout order is probably slightly off but I fully expect Ian Garry to be on the PPV.

Nothing else needed though, those top 3 fights are all that's required.

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Yeah, I like that. Just updated the opening post with the latest changes.

As well as Gastelum vs Du Plessis being made, the Oleynik vs Latifi fight that got scrapped from the Blaydes vs Daukaus show on Saturday has also been rescheduled for this card.

Also, Irene Aldana is out of the Aspen Ladd fight, Raquel Pennington steps in. And Anthony Hernandez (who was Du Plessis’ original opponent) is now fighting newcomer Josh Fremd. 

Bout order will still likely change a few times in the next couple of weeks though.

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Sometimes the UFC make no sense in their bout order. Why is an undefeated Olympic silver medalist on the early prelims? I would much rather see him get on a main card of a fight night.

And then you have #8 vs #10 at HW in the prelims and then two unranked heavyweights who aren't exactly up and comers on the main card, it makes no sense sometimes. I would get it if one of them was a hot prospect or ex champ or a frequent main eventer, but neither of them are.

Also I know Micky Gall isn't well liked but he has some name value and I would much rather see him prop up a weak fight night and add some name value rather than be buried on fight pass.

Speaking of Gall. From order of most recent first, his last 8 fights currently look like this.

Loss
Win
Loss
Win
Loss
Win
Loss
Win

So going by that, I would expect to see a Gall victory next week.

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On 3/30/2022 at 11:05 PM, Zebra Kid Mark said:

Sometimes the UFC make no sense in their bout order. Why is an undefeated Olympic silver medalist on the early prelims? I would much rather see him get on a main card of a fight night.

With Gastelum vs Du Plessis off, you get your wish. Latest bout order…

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Im really surprised they haven't put Garry on the PPV. They've done this before though where they've bumped an early prelims to the main card and left the ESPN portion in tact. Has to be a contractual thing.

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