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UFC Denver: Namajunas vs Cortez - Jul 13 🇺🇸


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Posted (edited)

The Octagon returns to Denver, Colorado with this…

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ESPN MAIN CARD
Rose Namajunas vs Tracy Cortez 

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Muslim Salikhov 

Drew Dober vs Jean Silva 

Gabriel Bonfim vs Ange Loosa 

Christian Rodriguez vs Julian Erosa 

Cody Brundage vs Abdul Razak Alhassan  

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Joshua Van vs Charles Johnson

Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Fatima Kline  

Montel Jackson vs Da’Mon Blackshear

Luana Santos vs Mariya Agapova

Andre Petroski vs Josh Fremd

Evan Elder vs Darrius Flowers


 

OK, it’s not a great card, far from it, but we’ve definitely had way worse. At least it’s not at the Apex! I’m not a fan of the main event but Dober vs Silva, C-Rod vs Erosa and Van vs Johnson in particular should be belters. When it comes to Fight Nights, as long as there’s 3 or 4 good fights, I don’t expect much more than that. Seen fans shitting all over this one but it’s not even the worst this year. I think a lot of fans judge these cards solely off the headliner, which I get to a degree, but there’s some really good fights on this. Let’s hope they stay intact. The way things are going lately, I’m fully expecting this card to get absolutely shagged up the arse dry over the next two weeks.

 

 

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Rose Namajunas vs Tracy Cortez headlines. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it much. This was originally supposed to be Namajunas vs Maycee Barber which I was a little bit more into because I think Barber was due the step up and I’m sure I read something about her and Rose having a bit of beef. Barber’s out with some ongoing health problems though. Cortez had been scheduled to fight Miranda Maverick on the Apex card a week later so she was in camp anyway. All things considered, Namajunas vs Cortez was the best of a limited number of options, I guess. Rose is currently ranked #6 in the Flyweight division, so this is a big opportunity for Cortez who’s ranked #11 as I type this. We’ll see how it goes but I’m not expecting much out of this.

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Rose is coming off a 5 round decision win over Amanda Ribas in their Apex main event back in March. My memories of that one aren’t good. And I remember actually being fairly positive about the matchup going in. If nothing else I thought Ribas fighting so goofy and reckless might make her the ideal showcase opponent for Rose. It was shite though. Watching that fight, it was almost hard to believe Rose was the same woman who ended the reign of prime Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a first round knockout and also put Zhang Weili away with a headkick in about a minute. On the strength of those two wins alone, she’s one of the greatest female fighters in MMA history. To then see her going to a lifeless decision with Ribas and not even look that impressive, I think it’s clear she’s on the decline. She’s not looked great for a while really, has she? That terrible rematch with Carla Esparza in 2022 seemed to mark the end of her prime and then losing to Manon Fiorot in another lacklustre fight in her Flyweight debut didn’t help. The Ribas win was her first victory at Flyweight so maybe she can start rebuilding now. But I don’t know, she’s just had the look of a fighter who’s mentally checked out for a while now to me.

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OK, I know it’s shallow as fuck but, sadly, there’s really not much else to talk about where Tracy Cortez is concerned. She’s 30 years old, has a record of 11-1 with only 2 finishes and her best wins to date are Melissa Gatto and Jasmine Jasudavicius. She also has a split decision win over Erin Blanchfield on an Invicta card back in 2019 but Blanchfield was only 19 and green as grass at the time, plus I’ve read a few times it was a bit of a dodgy decision. Don’t know, never seen it. Just never been particularly impressed, or entertained, by Cortez in any of her fights that I’ve seen so far. Maybe she’ll be the type who rises to the occasion and levels up against stronger opposition but that’s pure speculation until we see it. And I’m not convinced there’s much more to her game than what we’ve already seen. To be fair, I remember thinking her last fight against Jasudavicius was probably her best showing in the UFC yet but that’s not saying much really. If prospects were rated on bumcheeks, yeah, she’d be up there. But based on what we’ve seen bell to bell, I’m really not convinced she’s got the potential some are hoping she has.

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There you have it. Before Rose’s last fight with Ribas, I was saying I thought she should school Ribas and it was a fight that she should really shine in. And if we were getting the best version of Rose here, I’d be saying the same thing about this Cortez fight. My confidence in Rose is shot at this point though. Going purely on skills, I think she’s leagues ahead of Cortez but I felt the same about the Ribas fight and she still somehow went the distance and put in a really uninspiring performance. When she had that rotter against Esparza, at the time I thought that was just a blip. She’d never been boring before that. I was quite excited about her moving up to Flyweight but her going 1-1 with Fiorot and Ribas in crappy fights has just convinced me she’s not the same fighter who went 2-0 over both Jedrzejczyk and Zhang. I don’t know if it’s a physical thing or what. I get the feeling it’s more mental and her heart just isn’t fully in it anymore. So yeah, she should be winning this, I reckon. But I’m at the point where I really don’t know anymore. If she doesn’t look impressive here, and especially if she loses, it might be time to call it a day. Seems mad saying that when she’s only 32 but she seems to have a foot in and a foot out of MMA to me and that’s a dangerous game to play.

 

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Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Muslim Salikhov could be fun, although it’s one of them that probably would’ve been better a few years ago before they both clocked so many miles on their chins and bodies. When I saw they’d been matched up I was almost certain they’d fought before but they haven’t. Apparently they were set to fight back in 2021 though, Salikhov pulled out due to COVID related health issues. Maybe that’s what I was vaguely remembering. Ponzinibbio’s gonna be 38 in September, he’s 29-7 and has lost 3 of his last 4 fights. We last saw him in April 2023 getting knocked out by Kevin Holland. So a run of bad form and a year plus layoff. Not the best. Salikhov just turned 40, is 19-5 and has also lost 3 of his last 4. He got chinned in a round by Randy Brown in his last fight in February. So neither guy is a spring chicken now and both have had their durability dented in their more recent fights. Salikhov’s also got nearly 200 Kickboxing bouts under his belt as well so maybe it’s all starting to catch up to him. I still expect an entertaining enough fight out of these two, could be one of those fights that’s over on the first solid connection though now.

 

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Drew Dober vs Jean Silva sounds like an absolute dogfight on paper. Love this pairing. It was initially scheduled to be Dober against Mike Davis, which I was really looking forward to, but a bicep injury took Davis out. I was gutted about that until Silva was announced as the replacement. As good as Dober vs Davis was, I actually like this even more! Dober’s a known scrapper. He’s built up a reputation over the course of his decade on the UFC roster as someone who brings it. His fights in recent years with Brad Riddell, Terrance McKinney, Rafael Alves, Bobby Green and Matt Frevola were great fun. And those 5 fights were consecutive! He’s coming off a rare dull fight here in his points loss to Renato Moicano back in February at the Apex. I’m blaming the Apex. This should be a return to his usual slobberknocking form though.

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Jean Silva’s 13-2 with 12 finishes and he’s on a 10 fight winning streak. He literally just fought at UFC 303, knocking out Charles Jourdain with a vicious uppercut, which he set up with horrible elbows to the body. And now here he is jumping in just 2 weeks later against a granite tough bastard in Dober. He’s going up in weight for this one as well. He’s usually a Featherweight but obviously it wouldn’t be the best idea to cut to 145lbs twice in fortnight so he’s up at Lightweight for this. Can’t say enough how happy I am with the matchmaking here. I haven’t seen a lot of Silva but I’ve seen enough to know he’s gonna make for some fireworks with Dober. Can’t see anything short of total mayhem out of this one.

 

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Gabriel Bonfim vs Ange Loosa might be alright. Not really grabbing me though. My main interest is to see how Bonfim looks. He’s coming off his first career loss here. He got stopped by Nicolas Dalby on the São Paulo card in November. It was a good fight and Bonfim’s only 26, he’s not exactly on the scrapheap. But you never know how or if a previously undefeated fighter is gonna handle that first setback mentally. Bonfim’s 15-1 with all 15 wins coming inside the distance and had made short work of Mounir Lazzez and Trevin Giles in his first couple of UFC fights, subbing both in around a minute. That Dalby loss could be a valuable learning experience for him. Bonfim was giving him hell early but Dalby being the tough veteran, he was able to weather the storm and rally with the finish himself later on. We’ll see if Bonfim’s made any adjustments. Loosa I’m neither here nor there on. He’s 10-3-1 with 6 finishes and coming off a weird No Contest with Bryan Battle in March. Loosa got poked in the eye, it looked relatively tame as far as eyepokes go, but he said he couldn’t see so the ref stopped it. Then Loosa kicked off at Battle and suddenly wanted to fight him after the fight had been stopped. Just odd stuff. I’d like to see Bonfim rebound with a win here.

 

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Christian Rodriguez vs Julian Erosa could be a cracking fight. I’ve liked what I’ve seen of Rodriguez so far. He’s 26 years old and 11-1 with 7 finishes so far but it almost feels like the matchmakers saw him as a stepping stone for their favourite prospects early on because he’s been thrown in there with Raul Rosas Jr, Cameron Saaiman and Isaac Dulgarian in his last 3 fights. I think he was probably expected to lose all 3 but he came away with wins in all of them. Good fights as well. Remember loving the Saaiman fight. The last fight with Dulgarian was mega close and the decision was hotly debated but Rodriguez got the win officially and it was another tremendous fight. Erosa’s had some exciting scraps himself over the years as well. He has wins over Nate Landwehr, Charles Jourdain and Hakeem Dawodu and just subbed Ricardo Ramos in 2 minutes in his last fight in March. He’s the older man though at 34, and had been stopped in back-to-back fights before the Ramos win. Timing-wise, Rodriguez should be winning this. It’s the classic example of a young fighter on the way up against an ageing veteran on the way down. There’s still some ammo left in the tank for Erosa but, unless Rodriguez fucks up big, I expect he’ll get the W here. Should be a fun one to watch though.

 

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Cody Brundage vs Abdul Razak Alhassan isn’t doing it for me. It’s the Brundage effect. Just can’t be arsed with him. Even his powerbomb KO on Zach Reese in December didn’t win me over. He’s 10-6 and has a loss to Sedriques Dumas. Enough said really. My main memories of him are that Dumas loss and him going for a load of failed guillotines. I know Poirier did it as well but Poirier’s also actually, you know, good. We last saw Brundage at UFC 300 where he was fed to Bo Nickal. I’m hoping Alhassan clobbers him back to the minor leagues here. He should, he’s certainly got the capability. He’s a big hitter to say the least. He’s 12-6 with all 12 wins coming by knockout, 11 in the first round, 7 in less than a minute! He is about to turn 39 though and he’s coming off a surprisingly dull points loss to Joe Pyfer. Not sure what Alhassan’s got left but the combat sports logic has always been that power is the last thing a fighter loses so hopefully he’s still got enough of a whack to get rid of Brundage the bum.

 

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Joshua Van vs Charles Johnson is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** this time. Buzzing for this. I’ve been high on Van since his debut last year and, while Johnson’s had a real up and down run, he’s grown on me too and I’ve become a fan of his over his last couple of fights especially. This is pretty much perfect matchmaking, in my opinion. The fight wasn’t added to the card until quite late as well. Charles Johnson started campaigning specifically to get on the Denver card against Van…

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😂 Ask and you shall receive! Love this. This card was looking very thin but this was a big shot in the arm. Van had originally been booked to fight Tatsuro Taira at UFC 302 in early June, a fight I absolutely loved the sound of, but it got scrapped. Then he was supposed to fight Tagir Ulanbekov at the Apex in mid June but Ulanbekov missed weight badly and the fight got binned at the eleventh hour. Johnson was obviously paying attention and saw his opportunity, knew Van was without a dance partner and swooped in. Makes perfect sense. Van was dying to fight, Johnson stays active and seems to want on every card and both had a gap in their calendar on July 13th. It all lined up.

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Van’s been ace to watch in the fights I’ve seen so far. Seriously, if you haven’t seen him fight yet, get that fixed immediately. One of my favourite additions to the roster last year easy. Definitely one to keep an eye on in the Flyweight division going forward. He’s only 22 years old and has a record of 10-1 with 8 of his wins not requiring judges. He made his UFC debut on short notice last June and put a beating on Zhalgas Zhumagulov in a really exciting but one-sided fight…

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Really gave the 5th Beatle a right hiding. He followed that up by taking a decision off Kevin Borjas in a fantastic fight on the MSG card in November. Then in January this year, he stepped in again on short notice and stopped Felipe Bunes in another fun sprint. He’s class. He was saying after the Bunes win that he wanted “6 or 7 fights this year”, which would surely be a UFC record? Unfortunately, opponents pulling out on him has meant that target isn’t gonna be met now. But hopefully he can get at least a couple more fights in by the end of 2024.

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Johnson’s 33 years old and has a 15-6 record with 9 wins inside the distance. He was brought into the UFC in 2022 basically as cannon fodder for Muhammad Mokaev but, while he did lose to Mokaev, he fought well and had his moments. He’s already fought 8 times in just 2 years on the roster. He’s gone 4-4 in the UFC but I don’t care. He’s been great to watch. He’s got some momentum coming into this one as well. He’s coming off back-to-back wins over Azat Maksum in February and Jake Hadley in May. Both bangers as well. Really good fights, if you never saw them they’re both worth going back to. Can’t see any way this won’t be another one. Both are at different points in their careers but both seem really motivated to make a statement. Van’s the young prospect coming up who’s trying to make a name for himself and Johnson’s a 33 year old Flyweight who’s probably fully aware he’s got limited time left fighting at his current level and wants to make the most of it. Quality fight. I know these two don’t have the ‘name value’ but I’d have much preferred to see this get top billing over Namajunas vs Cortez myself.

 

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Jasmine Jasudavicius vs Fatima Kline is a late change. Jasudavicius was all set to fight Viviane Araujo on this card but Araujo withdrew 2 weeks out. Fair play to Jasmine for taking this switch of opponents because she’s gone from fighting Araujo who’s a 37 year old journeywoman with a 12-6 record to fighting Kline who’s 23 years old, undefeated and on the rise. Couldn’t be more opposite to Araujo really.

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So yeah, Kline is making her Octagon debut here. Didn’t know anything about her, never heard of her until now but she might be worth a look. She’s 6-0 with 3 finishes and, from what I’m reading, she was supposed to be on the next DWCS in September but she’s obviously bypassed that now. From bits I’ve seen she’s more of a grappler. And despite only having 6 fights so far, she’s already won both the Flyweight and Strawweight belts in the Cage Fury promotion. She won the Strawweight strap in her last fight in February in a fight that went 4 rounds. Canadian Jasudavicius is 35 years old with a 10-3 record. She hasn’t had a great UFC run but she did batter and submit cheating shithouse Priscila Cachoeira in her last fight in January so she’s good with me. I never gave a shite about the original Araujo fight but I’m slightly more interested now.

 

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Montel Jackson vs Da’Mon Blackshear isn’t a fight anyone’s gonna be counting the days to but it’s OK prelim fodder. Jackson’s been on the roster since 2018 but I can’t say I remember much about him. He’s 13-2 and coming off 4 wins on the trot though. In his last couple of fights he beat Julio Arce on points and knocked out Rani Yahya. There’s a good chance I saw those fights but I have no recollection of them. Blackshear has stuck in my memory though. For this reason…

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In August last year, he joined a very short list of names to win a fight in the UFC via twister. Korean Zombie did it first way back in 2011. Bryce Mitchell was the second to do it in 2019. Then Blackshear pulled it off in 2023. Always cool to see on the rare occasions it happens. If not for that, I’d probably have no memory of Blackshear either, to be honest. He’s 14-6-1 with 11 finishes and he’s gone 2-2-1 in the UFC so far. 

 

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Luana Santos vs Mariya Agapova is a nothing happening fight. Haven’t been impressed with either so far. Brazil’s Santos is 24 years old with a record of 7-1 and 4 finishes. She’s gone 2-0 in the UFC so far. In her debut last August, she stopped Juliana Miller in a round. But Miller looked terrible and, even in victory, Santos looked very sloppy. She then won a decision off Stephanie Egger in a fight I only saw bits of but it looked awful. Maybe there’s better to come. She’s still young. But first impressions weren’t the best. Agapova though…

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😬 I forgot all about that but that’s how we last saw her. Back in September 2022, she got choked out by Gillian Robertson and almost chewed her bastard tongue off! She’s not fought since. She’s from Kazakhstan, still only 27 but she’s 10-4 now, coming off back-to-back losses and hasn’t fought in almost 2 years. Not ideal. I read a post from her fairly recently that was doing the rounds on social media and she was saying she might be homeless soon and even said she couldn’t trust the people around her and that someone (don’t know if she meant her coaches or what) tried to sell her into “sex slavery”. Fucking hell. Hopefully she’s out of that situation now.

 

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Andre Petroski vs Josh Fremd is just there. Nowt more than a filler fight that I have no real opinion on. Petroski is 10-3 and was on a nice little win streak until recently. He won his first 5 fights in the UFC and took a decision off Gerald Meerschaert last August. It’s been downhill since though. He ran into Michel Pereira in October and got blitzed in a minute. Then in March this year he got stopped by Jacob Malkoun in really weird fashion…

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Yep. He basically knocked himself out, and split his melon open in the process, shooting for a takedown. That was a first on me. Apparently his head collided with Malkoun’s hip. Malkoun pounced on the opportunity and added to Petroski’s pain by booting his ribs in for the TKO finish. A shit night all round for Petroski that. Fremd is 11-5 with 8 finishes but the only thing I remember about him is his last fight in September last year, when Roman Kopylov folded him with a brutal body shot. No real expectations for this but maybe they’ll surprise us.

 

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Evan Elder vs Darrius Flowers has been thrown on this one just a few days before the show for some reason. Doesn’t add anything to the card really and it seems odd throwing it together so close to fight night but whatever. Nothing much makes sense anymore. They’re both Lightweights usually but with the last minute notice this fight will be at Welterweight. Elder hasn’t fought since July last year when he beat Genaro Valdez on points at the Apex. He’s 8-2 and had lost his first couple of UFC fights before clawing a win back against Valdez. Flowers is 12-7-1 and has gone 0-2 in the UFC so far with losses to Jake Matthews and Michael Johnson. Not a clue on this. Not exactly familiar with these guys as it is but chucking them out there on like 3 days notice?

 

 

Tracy Cortez fight week… 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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13 minutes ago, Egg Shen said:

I'm here for Jean Silva

Yeah, quickly becoming a fan myself. It was a tossup to be honest between Dober vs Silva and Van vs Johnson as my ‘one to watch’. Love both fights. 

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