But we will also see the return of Khamzat Chimaev as he takes on Gilbert Burns in a bout that UFC president Dana White has admitted will serve as a title eliminator bout in the welterweight division.
The following week will see another welterweight clash serve as the main event in the Apex, as Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad at UFC Vegas 51.
Down at 135-pounds at the end of April we’ll see a top contender bout between Rob Font and Marlon Vera battle in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, before UFC 274 takes place from Phoenix, Arizona.
Originally scheduled to be in Brazil, we’ll now get the 155-pound title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje in the headline slot in Gaethje’s home state, while Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza will meet in their long-anticipated rematch for the strawweight title in the co-main event.
We’ll also see an amazing lightweight bout between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson on that card, as well as a stack of other amazing fights.
The following week the UFC is targeting the rescheduled main event from the UFC Columbus card in the light heavyweight division between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic, as well as a fun fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas.
Then at UFC 275 the delayed light heavyweight title fight between Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka will take place, while ‘Bullet’ Valentina Shevchenko will fight Taila Santos for the flyweight championship in the co-main event.
We’ll also see the return of Robert Whittaker at that event, as he is scheduled to take on Marvin Vettori in the middleweight division to get back on the title trail once again.
Dana White has also confirmed that the organisation are expecting welterweight champion Kamaru Usman to return in the summer, and he has promised the next title fight to British fighter Leon Edwards with the target aimed for international fight week in July.
It’s a great year coming up, so keep your eyes on Tap Ins & Tap Outs for coverage of all these events coming up.
Maxim Grishin def William Knight via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Slow start to this one, with Grishin attacking the body with kicks in the first minute and landing a nice low kick too. Grishin just misses with a front kick to the face, then Knight responds with a body kick attempt of his own. Grishin has a huge reach advantage and is staying on the outside, then lands a huge head kick! Knight doesn’t go down but he’s hurt, Grishin stays patient though and doesn’t go for the kill. Grishin lands a low outside kick and then goes for another head kick that misses. Knight throwing next to nothing so far, as Grishin just touches him from the outside and avoids all the damage coming his way. Grishin backs Knight against the cage but both guys are lacking with their output through the first round. 10-9 Grishin.
Similar start to this round as Grishin takes the centre and uses his kicking game to maintain distance, while Knight not doing much. Grishin lands a low inside kick and follows it with a right hand, then a hard low kick that gets a big reaction from Knight. Knight trying for a few kicks of his own but not landing anything, then Grishin lands another right hand and Knight goes in for a takedown. Grishin defends it well but Knight chain wrestling and eventually gets Grishin on his shoulders and slams him down! Knight goes for the back but Grishin fights out and ends up on top himself, landing two good elbows and taking side control. Knight powers his way back up to his feet but Grishin does well to separate and get back to his jab and kicking game from range. 20-18 Grishin.
Final round and Grishin lands a hard low kick early on, who reacts in pain but spins into a spinning back fist and gets a clinch. Knight goes for a takedown and gets the single leg to put Grishin on his backside, but he immediately switches and gets back up. He gets separation and lands a nice left hand and low kick combo, but Knight responds with a left hand too. Knight goes for another takedown and Grishin defends it well, but then he throws a kick that Knight catches and he trips Grishin to end up on top. Grishin is able to get back to his feet relatively quickly though and pushes Knight back against the cage. Knight goes for a flying knee and misses then gets another takedown, but Grishin defending well and lands a hard right hand followed by two low kicks. Knight goes for a big right hand but Grishin lands a left that drops him and he ends the round in full mount. Solid performance from Grishin. 30-27.
Wells sprints around the outside of the octagon and slips in the opening seconds, so Blood Diamond moves in quickly. Wells immediately gets a clinch and starts looking for a takedown, but Blood Diamond defending it really well so far 90 seconds in. Wells trying to use strength to get the takedown and eventually is able to lift him and puts him on the mat, then falls into mount! Wells looking for a choke but Diamond fighting the hands, so Wells starts landing heavy ground and pound. Diamond trying to get up but Wells is on his back heavy with hooks in and is throwing heavy shots on the ground. Wells slides the arm under the chin and tries to go for a choke again but Diamond looks to be defending well. Suddenly the referee stops the fight and we can see that Diamond is out cold! What a submission win!
Douglas Silva de Andrade def Sergey Morozov via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:34)
Both guys looking to take the centre early as Morozov lands a jab and Andrade lands two nice calf kicks. Morozov lands a nice right hand that wobbles Andrade and he follows it up with two hooks that drops him! Morozov goes into top position and starts working him with heavy ground and pound strikes. A huge elbow from Morotoz and he slices Andrade wide open and that is a nasty cut over the eye. Andrade tries to get back up but Morozov drops him down and then allows him up and lands a big knee to the head. Morozov lands a lovely one-two and Andrade is still hurt. Morozov lands a nice knee to the body, then Andrade explodes with a heavy left hook that lands. Spinning body kick from Morozov lands clean and then he shoots for a double leg takedown and gets it to end the round on top. Huge round for Morozov. 10-9.
Fast start from Andrade who knows he’s down a round early on. Morozov being backed up against the cage and Andrade lands a heavy strike that wobbles him! Big right hand and Andrade drops him! He goes for a finish but Morozov defends the position well and is able to grapple his way to safety. Andrade looking for haymakers and just missing. Andrade throws the same combination and drops Morozov again! Morozov in survival mode, but Andrade landing heavy strikes and a big knee connects. Andrade hurts him and moves for a choke! Morozov defending it well but Andrade changes the grip and secures it. Morozov refuses to tap but he goes out unconscious! What a comeback win!
Jacob Malkoun def AJ Dobson via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
Super quick punching combination from Dobson early on causes Malkoun problems. Malkoun trying to get close, but Dobson lands a nice short right hand that hurts him! Malkoun goes for a takedown to recover but he defends it well and starts looking to strike again. Malkoun changes levels again and is in deep, but once again Dobson defends it despite being lifted into the air. Dobson lands a hard knee to the body, and then both fighters exchange strikes to the chin. Malkoun catches a kick and tries for another takedown but Dobson again stays on his feet and defends it. Malkoun lands a nice right hand but Dobson responds with a lovely combo. Hard one-two from Dobson but Malkoun finally gets himself a takedown with ten seconds of the round remaining. 10-9 Dobson.
Malkoun and Dobson going after it early on in this second round. Malkoun lands a nice right hand and shoots for a takedown, but Dobson denies him and fires a knee up the middle that misses. Malkoun shoots in again and this time gets the trip and gets him down, then looks to move to his back but Dobson is able to get up quickly. Malkoun swings him down to the mat again and is landing some hard ground and pound strikes, hurting Dobson. Lots of ground strikes landing and Dobson is trying to find a way back to his feet but Malkoun controlling him well. Hard strikes and Malkoun continuing to control as he allows Dobson up for the final ten seconds to end the round. Could easily be a 10-8 round. 19-18 Malkoun.
Final round and Malkoun is back in with a takedown early on and gets it. Straight back to the same position on the back of Dobson, landing ground and pound strikes once again. Malkoun switches the position and gets to half guard with Dobson flat on his back and he’s controlling the position and landing good, solid ground and pound strikes. Dobson is trying to kick off the cage to get out from under Malkoun, but he blocks it and gets some big shots off again. Malkoun postures up and lands some heavy strikes. Malkoun throwing some elbows too as we enter the final 30 seconds and he’s dominated this final round again too. 29-26 Malkoun for me.
Ronnie Lawrence def Mana Martinez via Unanimous Decision (29-27 x2, 29-28)
Cagey start to this fight early on as Lawrence lands a few low kicks, while Martinez takes the centre and feints to try and set up his strikes. Lawrence steps forward and shoots with a beautiful takedown and gets it immediately, looking to control Martinez although he’s not doing much damage yet. Martinez fights the hands and is able to get back up to his feet, then lands a hard low kick of his own. Lawrence back to moving on the outside and then steps in with a low-kick, right hook combination that drops Martinez! Lawrence jumps on top for a finish and lands some good ground and pound strikes, and Martinez scrambles to survive. Lawrence in full guard looking for elbows as we enter the final 15 seconds. Good round. 10-9 Lawrence.
Martinez trying to land some strikes from range early on in this round, but Lawrence moving well and avoiding. Big right body shot and left hook to the chin from Lawrence lands and Martinez gets knocked down again! Lawrence goes back to top position and fires in some ground and pound and wrestles for control as he takes the back. Martinez gets to the cage and battles his way back up to the feet, but then Lawrence lands another huge right hook that drops him again! He misses with some ground and pound but then gets the hooks in and takes the back to look for a rear-naked choke. Martinez is able to reverse it and get up to his feet but then Lawrence shoots for a takedown again and takes control again. Lawrence gets another takedown to end the round, pure dominance. 20-17 Lawrence.
Martinez coming out in this final round knowing he needs a finish and pressing forward. Lawrence staying very calm on the feet but Martinez lands a couple of nice right hands. Hard low kick from Martinez and then Lawrence goes for a head kick. Lawrence goes for a takedown but Martinez stuffs it, then lands a nice right hook. Martinez stuffs a takedown attempt again and then lands a huge spinning back fist that drops Lawrence! He lands some huge follow up strikes but Lawrence just about survives and shoots for a takedown. Martinez goes for a triangle and then goes for an armbar but Lawrence rolls through it and defends it well, then ends the round in top position. So close to a comeback. 29-27 Lawrence for me.
Carlos Ulberg def Fabio Cherant via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Relatively slow start to the round for both guys as Ulberg takes the centre and backs Cherant up against the cage. Hard low kick from Ulberg lands and then goes for a body kick but lands low and pauses the action. Cherant is mad now and blitzes out when the action resumes, landing a big left hand and then clinching. Ulberg denies him and then gets a takedown of his own, before letting him up quickly. Cherant flies in for a big left hand but Ulberg fires a low kick that drops Cherant but then he lets him stand up again. Nice work from Ulberg but he looks quite cocky right now and Cherant is dangerous. Big left from Cherant lands just before the buzzer and drops Ulberg, but he’s not really hurt at all. 10-9 Ulberg for me, but a weird round.
Cherant more aggressive early on in this round and backing Ulberg up with his left hand. Ulberg lands a low kick and then counters Cherant’s left hand with a beautiful left hook that opens up a cut over his eye. Ulberg goes to the body with his kicks and is landing his jab well, while Cherant continues to look for that left hand explosion. Ulberg landing some nice kicks to the body and his jab getting through, plus his check-left hook is doing well. Easy round for Ulberg. 20-18.
Ulberg using nice footwork inside the opening 90 seconds of this round to stay away from Cherant, who knows he needs a finish to get anything from this fight. Very slow pace to this one with neither man really doing much to win the fight yet. Ulberg lands two nice body shots, but Cherant just standing in front of him and not throwing anything at all. Cherant steps forward and swings a big left hand but Ulberg ducks under and takes his back, then secures a takedown with a minute to go. Cherant fights his way back to the feet with ten seconds to go and this one fizzles out. 30-27 Ulberg, but not the most entertaining fight by any means.
Blistering start to this fight as Phillips throws a huge leg kick and then lands some big combinations on Rojo. Rojo steps forward and lands a nice combo to the body himself, before Phillips lands a nice straight right hand. Flying knee from Phillips and then another hard leg kick drops him. Phillips lands another lovely combination, but Rojo still coming forward and lands a nice right hand himself. Phillips lands a good right hand as the clinch, then gets a takedown and moves to the back of Rojo very quickly. He gets the hooks in and takes him down to the mat, then transitions to mount but Rojo quickly gets half-guard back. Hard knee from Phillips but Rojo gets back to his feet. Rojo continues to come forward and looking for combinations, but Phillips seems to have him beaten everywhere. A lovely trip sees Phillips end the round on top too. 10-9 Phillips.
More of the same early on in this second round as Rojo tries to take the centre, but he’s just a step behind the lightning quick Phillips. Phillips lands low kicks and his jab well, but Rojo is trying to push forward and land blitzes. Overhand right misses by Rojo, and Phillips steps in with a nice combo and flying knee attempt. Rojo keeps coming forward though and looking for combinations, but Phillips’ leg kicks are doing lots of damage now. Rojo denies a takedown attempt but Phillips eventually gets him in a clinch position against the cage and sees the round out in control. 20-18 Phillips.
FInal round now and Rojo is suffering with some severe damage on his lead leg, but he is soldiering through it. Phillips goes for a takedown but Rojo stuffs it, only for Phillips to chain wrestle and secure a different position on top. Phillips pushing for a submission and gets into full mount. He goes for an inverted mounted triangle, then synches in an armbar too. Rojo tries to get out but taps out before he rolls through to a belly down position and Phillips secures the victory! What a performance!
Modafferi coming forward with lots of pressure early on and is landing her jab well, but O’Neill countering well with her right hand. Nice left hook from O’Neill as she starts to work her own jab and force Modafferi backwards. Both women land a left hook at the same time, then Modafferi lands a right hand behind it too. Hard one-two from O’Neill lands over and over again but Modafferi continues to come forward with pressure. O’Neill comes forward and just misses with a big elbow, but she’s still landing well with her punches. O’Neill landing hard and heavy shots but Modafferi eating them all and firing back herself to end the round. 10-9 O’Neill, but it’s competitive.
Lots of forward pressure from Modafferi once again early on but O’Neill without doubt has the advantage all over in the striking battle. O’Neill landing big shots on her counters and they’re starting to take an effect on Modafferi. O’Neill starting to up the pressure now and looking for big strikes, but Modafferi responds with a forward blitz and then separates from a clinch attempt. O’Neill is landing her one-two and her overhand right at will now, and is starting to mix in some kicks to her attacks too. Modafferi still marching forwards though. Modafferi goes for a knee but just misses and O’Neill starts screaming while she’s striking. Modafferi changes levels and gets the takedown with seconds remaining to end up on top, but that’s O’Neill’s round. 20-18.
O’Neill coming out very aggressive in the final round looking for a finish, as Modafferi once again looks to blitz her way into a successful striking battle. O’Neill is very sharp though and is landing first and hardest in these exchanges. O’Neill lands a hard right but Modafferi responds with two nice knees to the body. Modafferi still stepping forward and lands a big spinning back fist, but O’Neill eats it and then lands a lovely combo of her own. Modafferi clinches up and lands some knees but O’Neill again lands her right hand freely. Modafferi goes for a takedown but O’Neill sprawls, then throws a kick and sees it caught by Modafferi who pushes her to the ground. O’Neill gets up quickly and is attacking the body lock that Modafferi has wrapped around her, while she throws knees looking to do damage. Modafferi pushing for a takedown but O’Neill defends it all the way to the buzzer and should take a dominant decision win.
Andrei Arlovski def Jared Vanderaa via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
Hard low kick from Arlovski to open up the fight and then a lovely combination of strikes to the head lands on Vanderaa. Arlovski moving a lot on the outside and bursting with speed and precision to land. Vanderaa backing Arlovski against the cage, but he’s not really throwing much yet. Arlovski lands a big right cross and then Vanderaa just misses with a right uppercut. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa looking for trips, but Arlovski is able to separate. Arlovski throws a spin kick to the body and then a hard right hand follows which rock Vanderaa. Arlovski stays patient and throws a spinning back fist that just misses and that’s the round. 10-9 Arlovski.
Vanderaa goes for a low kick and Arlovski lands a beautiful combination that sends Vanderaa backwards. They clinch against the cage and Vanderaa lands some solid knees to the body and thighs before Arlovski is able to separate and get away. Hard right hand lands again from Arlovski and he follows it up with three more clean strikes with his overhand, but Vanderaa is still there. Another hard right hand lands from Arlovski and Vanderaa is just eating them now. Vanderaa gets a body lock against the cage but Arlovski defends it easily and lands his right hand a couple more times for good measure before the round ends. 20-18.
Final round and Vanderaa is coming out with more kicks. Lots of leg kicks followed by a heavy body kick and then they clinch up, with Vanderaa throwing some knees against the cage too. Lots of stalling and then Arlovski finally steps away and then lands a nice right hand, but Vanderaa is still coming forward. Nice counter strikes from Vanderaa and a good left hook lands as Arlovski is backing up against the cage. Final 20 seconds and they clinch again, before Arlovski lands a big right hand as the round ends. 29-28 Arlovski for me.
Bobby Green def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
Good start to this one from Green as he takes the centre early on and starts looking to implement his jab. Haqparast accidentally pokes him in the eye to cause a pause in the action, then he misses with two wild hooks as Green showboats. Green coming forward with his hands very low, while Haqparast has a very high guard and is trying to counter. Hard low kick from Haqparast, but then Green responds with more jabs. Green is very confident and is landing well in the centre and Haqparast is struggling to get any sort of offense going. 10-9 Green.
Haqparast trying to apply more forward pressure in this round from the off but Green slipping and countering so well to land his jabs. Green is striking through the high guard well and busting up Haqparast’s face, but he’s still coming forward. Nice left hand from Haqparast lands as Green tries to chip away at the guard. Both guys land with a stiff jab, then Haqparast lands a hard low kick to go with it. Haqparast throws another left overhand that connects, but Green rolling with the shots for the most part. Big straights and crosses from Green busting up the face of Haqparast at this point as we enter the final minute. Big overhand left again from Haqparast lands and he’s starting to land more by keeping Green backed up against the cage. Green still landing too with double jabs and straights. What a great fight. I give it to Green, but could be Haqparast’s round. 20-18 for me.
Haqparast comes out firing in the final round, but Green catches a kick and then lands some more straight shots to the nose through the high guard. Green’s boxing has been excellent, with body shots mixed in now. Haqparast trying to apply forward pressure, but Green is doing so well to land combinations at speed through the guard and mix his attacks up. Green dominating the exchanges now and he lands a couple of big strikes to end the round and claim a huge career victory. 30-27 Green.
Renato Moicano def Alexander Hernandez via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)
Hernandez opens up with some hard low kicks, but Moicano lands the first big strike of the night with an overhand right to the chin. Hernandez landing those low kicks well, but Moicano slipping shots well and countering. Moicano looks to change levels and go for a single leg takedown, but Hernandez defends it well. They clinch against the cage and Moicano gets him down, but Hernandez scrambles back up to his feet immediately. Moicano holds on to the body lock though and eventually does throw Hernandez down and ends up in half guard after another scramble. Hernandez uses his strength to get up and goes straight back to striking, throwing jabs and hooks with a high pressure. Hernandez stalking him around the cage now, but Moicano responds with a lovely right hand down the pipe. Fun round, 10-9 Moicano, just.
Hernandez trying to weaponise his cardio in the second round, coming out very aggressively. Moicano lands a beautiful left hand, right uppercut combination to slow him right down. Hernandez goes to clinch and Moicano avoids it and lands a beautiful combination that rocks him! Moicano follows up with a knee that drops Hernandez! He goes for the finish but Hernandez gives up his back, so Moicano takes it, sinks in a choke and gets the tap! What a performance!
Jared Cannonier def Derek Brunson via Knockout, Round 2 (4:29)
Interesting start to the fight as Cannonier comes out looking for big strikes early on, while Brunson looking to stay away from those striking exchanges to wrestle. Brunson shoots in and Cannonier defends it, but Brunson switches to a single leg and lifts it high to secure the takedown, but Cannonier gets up relatively easily. Brunson looking to wear on him using clinches and takedown attempts, making Cannonier miss. Brunson shoots in again and after battling he gets the trip and ends up on top, looking for an arm triangle. Cannonier gets back up and misses with a kick, then Brunson lands a huge right hook that drops him! Brunson takes the back immediately and locks up a rear-naked choke but the buzzer goes and saves him. Close. 10-9 Brunson!
Brunson opens the round with an immediate takedown attempt in the centre of the octagon and gets it. He tries to secure position but Cannonier scrambles up to his feet and looks much fresher than Brunson. Brunson lands a couple of left hands but Cannonier is fresh and can see Brunson tiring. Brunson goes back in for a takedown but it’s denied. Big right hook from Cannonier lands and then an uppercut lands too. Hard jab from Cannonier and then a combination misses. Brunson looks very slow right now but he shoots in for a takedown anyway. Cannonier denies it easily and as they clinch he lands a huge short elbow and a back fist. Brunson is hurt badly and Cannonier drops him again. He gets on top position and lands huge elbows to put him out cold and that’s enough for the referee! What a win!
Tai Tuivasa def Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 2 (1:40)
Tuivasa comes out with feints and some hard low kick attempts inside the first minute as they look to feel each other out. Lewis goes for a right hand but Tuivasa ducks under it and gets a clinch against the cage, landing knees against his thighs. Lewis goes for a head kick that gets blocked then a flying knee that misses, before a right overhand lands and they clinch up again. Lewis drops down for a single leg but Tuivasa defends it well. Lewis gets an outside trip and ends up on top then as he postures up to land big strikes Tuivasa starts to get up too. Lewis lands four or five flush shots but Tuivasa gets up and starts swinging back before they clinch up again. Lewis gets another takedown but Tuivasa gets back up too and the round ends. Wild round. 10-9 Lewis.
Tuivasa looks for a low kick once again to open the round, but Lewis just misses with a big right hand. Lewis looks to blitz him with big strikes but Tuivasa evades him and they clinch up against the cage once again. Lewis tries to blitz him again but Tuivasa swings with him and lands a few of his own! Lewis is hurt! Tuivasa swinging big shots and Lewis is in trouble. Tuivasa lands a huge elbow and Lewis faceplants! He’s out cold! Tuivasa with the biggest win of his career! Wow!
Israel Adesanya def Robert Whittaker via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)
Very methodical start from both guys as they miss with several low kicks each and lots of fakes and feints. Adesanya finally lands a hard low kick and then another about halfway through the round. Whittaker lunges in for a left hook but misses and Adesanya lands a left hand that drops Whittaker! He gets back up quickly and then looks to shoot a takedown, but Adesanya sprawls well and goes back to the centre. A hard low kick again from Adesanya and then a check left hook lands, before Whittaker shoots for another takedown and misses it. Whittaker checks a low kick but then eats on to the body and that’s the round. 10-9 Adesanya.
Whittaker just misses with a head kick early in the second round but then eats a heavy low kick. He swings overhand with his right hand and Adesanya lands another hard right hand. Whittaker moving backwards a lot but then he moves forward for a double jab and Adesanya counters with a right uppercut. Whittaker lands a nice left hand that gets a reaction but Adesanya evades a high kick. Whittaker shoots in for a takedown and gets Adesanya to the ground, but the champion immediately gets his back to the cage and stands back up before separating. A hard low kick from Adesanya again, followed by a head kick that’s partially blocked and a body kick. Low kick from Whittaker lands with a minute to go, then Adesanya returns fire with one 30 seconds later before the round ends. Close round that could go either way, but I probably lean towards Whittaker there. 19-19.
Adesanya taking the centre again in the third round and doing well to close of the octagon. Whittaker trying to use double jabs to close the distance, while Adesanya is using his low kicks well. Whittaker lands a jab and Adesanya responds with a hook, but neither man is hurt by it. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it perfectly and lands a nice knee before they break. Adesanya goes for a head kick but Whittaker ducks under it and goes for a takedown. He gets a body lock but Adesanya gets back to his feet well and then uses a kimura trap to force the break. Hard low kick from Adesanya gets a big reaction, before Whittaker steps in with a jab that gets countered by a hook. Round ends, 29-28 Adesanya for me.
Whittaker opens the round with a big right hand that lands flush and stuns Adesanya. He returns with two hard low kicks before they miss with big hooks. Whittaker goes for a takedown again and gets it and ends up in the backpack position against the cage looking to get a choke in! Adesanya fights the hands and gets him off relatively quickly, and they return to the centre. Adesanya lands another low kick and then misses with a big hook. Hard low kicks again from Adesanya, and Whittaker comes forward with his jabs again. Big hook from Adesanya just misses and then Whittaker just misses with his own as the round ends. 39-37 Adesanya.
Whittaker steps in with his double jab again as Adesanya misses a right hook. Hard low kick from Adesanya again, then another jab from Whittaker. Hard body kick from Adesanya and then a stiff jab from Whittaker does get a reaction, but he sits off him again. Whittaker shoots for a takedown but Adesanya defends it well. Whittaker shoots for a takedown again and gets it, but once again Adesanya bounces back to his feet and fights the hands of the body lock to try and separate. Adesanya goes for a knee, then Whittaker throws a big left hook that lands. Final 90 seconds now and Adesanya lands a nice low kick again. Whittaker goes for another takedown but Adesanya’s defence is impeccable again. They clinch against the cage and the fight ends, it should be #AndStill.. 48-47 Adesanya.
Bobby Green (28-12-1) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-4) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A very fun lightweight banger to open up the main card between two impressive fighters. Green is a veteran in the UFC and earned his first KO victory since 2013 last time out when he beat Al Iaquinta at UFC 268. Haqparast is a hot prospect who is struggling to live up to his skillset, having been comfortably beaten by Dan Hooker at UFC 266 in his last bout.
Green is a great all-rounder who has great boxing and some decent takedowns in his weaponry too. His pressure is relentless and he makes every fight competitive, arguably putting in his best performances in during his most recent fights. Haqparast is also a terrific boxer, arguably one of the best in the UFC, but his power has seemingly deserted him since coming to the UFC. His wrestling is decent too, but he was completely undone by Hooker in his last fight who isn’t known for his grappling at all, and that is worrying.
Haqparast has got the boxing ability to win this fight, because he’s probably better technically. But Green is going to make this a dirty fight with plenty of clinching and wrestling mixed in with the striking exchanges. It’s bound to be an entertaining fight to open the card up, but I think Green’s ability to mix it up more will be able to drag him to a victory. PICK – Bobby Green via Decision
Alexander Hernandez (13-4) vs Renato Moicano (15-4-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really fun bout in the lightweight division between two experienced pros in the UFC. Hernandez is 3-2 in his last five bouts, with a KO over Mike Breeden in his last bout as expected. Moicano on the other hand is 2-3 in his last five, with a knockout loss to Rafael Fiziev at UFC 256 being followed up by a submission win over Jai Herbert at UFC Vegas 30.
Hernandez is a pressure fighter, with great striking and lots of power and volume to follow it. His body kick is solid too and he will always come forward. Moicano alternatively is a similar fighter to champion Charles Oliveira, he’s just several levels below. Moicano has got good striking and even better jiu-jitsu with eight submission wins in his career, but zero knockouts.
This is a tough fight to predict, because both guys are at different points in their careers and match up quite evenly despite having their primary strengths in different areas. The difference in their ground games though is significant and it makes me lean towards Moicano. If he’s getting outdone on the feet then he has the ability to take the fight down to turn it around, whereas Hernandez doesn’t have the option. For me, that makes it Moicano’s fight to lose. PICK – Renato Moicano via Decision
Jared Cannonier (14-5) vs Derek Brunson (23-7) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A middleweight title eliminator up next. Cannonier was on a three-fight win streak before suffering a loss to Robert Whittaker at UFC 254, but has since bounced back with a decision win over Kelvin Gastelum. Brunson on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak having stopped Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC Vegas 5 and Darren Till most recently. He also dominated Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 22 in between those bouts.
Cannonier is a power puncher, full stop. He has got some of the heaviest hands in the division and knows it, so looks to walk forward and use hard low kicks to set up his overhand right. Brunson on the other hand is a heavy wrestler, who looks to use his striking just enough to close the distance and grab you. Cannonier’s wrestling isn’t the best, but defensively he will be looking to hold out being taken down so he can land the big strikes.
Brunson has shown, even in his most recent wins, that he doesn’t take punches very well. Holland and Till both hurt him, but then he used his wrestling to stifle their attacks. Cannonier hits much harder than them, so it’s unlikely he’ll get that chance if he eats a big shot. That said, Cannonier isn’t as quick so I think Brunson will be able to get his takedowns in early in the rounds and control the fight on the ground for 15 minutes for a victory. PICK – Derek Brunson via Decision
Derrick Lewis (26-8) vs Tai Tuivasa (14-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
A heavyweight smasher that is highly unlikely to go the full 15 minutes here. Lewis has won five of his last six fights, bouncing back from a KO defeat to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 for the interim title by knocking out Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 45. Tuivasa has won four in a row, all by knockout, with the most recent coming against Augusto Sakai at UFC 269 via second-round knockout.
Both of these fighters are brawlers who look to land a clean punch, because it will put you to sleep. Whoever you are, if you get caught clean, you’re going to sleep. Unfortunately for Tai Tuivasa though, Lewis hits far harder and has the better chin of the two. He is also a good leg kicker, has flying knees and has been at the highest level for a long time.
Tuivasa got rocked and hurt by Greg Hardy, but recovered to hurt him back and win by knockout. Lewis will stay patient and know that when Tuivasa rushes in to blitz with his strikes, he will leave himself open to land a huge strike and end this one early doors. PICK – Derrick Lewis via Knockout, Round 1
Israel Adesanya (21-1) vs Robert Whittaker (24-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The two best middleweight fighters in the world, and two of the best ever, go head-to-head for the world title once again. Adesanya is undefeated in the middleweight division, with a win over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 most recently following the first-and-only defeat of his career to Jan Blachowicz up at light heavyweight. Whittaker has gone 3-0 since losing to Adesanya, with decision wins against Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and most recently Kelvin Gastelum.
Adesanya is a world-class kickboxer, with the best striking in the entire UFC in his weaponry. He’s also shown incredibly improved wrestling takedown defence in recent fights, while his range and distance management remain at the top of the division. Whittaker is a top level Muay Thai fighter, with brilliant wrestling and top level striking too. Neither man is particularly known for their power and finishing ability, but they usually just outclass their opponents throughout.
Whittaker has made his game plan clear, stating that Blachowicz gave him the blueprint for victory, meaning he’s going to look to wrestle more and mix in his takedowns. Adesanya will likely perform in a similar way; defend takedowns, land kicks and counter with hooks to do damage. While Whittaker is better since the first fight, so is Adesanya. I don’t think this one ends in a finish like the first did, but Adesanya has all the skills to nullify Whittaker’s new game plan, as he has done with everyone else, and earns an exciting decision win. PICK – Israel Adesanya via Decision
When you think about the best fighters to ever compete in the middleweight division in the UFC, there are three names that should jump to the top of everyone’s list.
One is the long-time UFC champion of yesteryear Anderson Silva, who to this day holds the record for the longest undefeated run in the organisation’s history at 16.
The other two are once again headlining a card with the belt on the line this weekend; Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker.
When these two men fought for the first time back in October 2019 at UFC 243, it was long-reigning champion against number one contender and interim champion.
On that occasion it was the challenger, Adesanya, who came out on top with a vicious second-round knockout in what was seen as a relatively flawless performance.
Since that fight ‘The Last Stylebender’ has gone 3-1 in the UFC with wins against Yoel Romero at UFC 248, Paulo Costa at UFC 253 and Marvin Vettori most recently at UFC 263.
That defeat, which is the only one of his professional MMA career, came when he moved up to light heavyweight to try and become a double champion against Jan Blachowicz.
Whittaker on the other hand has gone 3-0 since that fight, earning himself unanimous decision victories against Darren Till at UFC Fight Island 3, Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 and Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.
He has never dropped below number one in the rankings and is the rightful contender to the title.
Now not much has changed since their first fight, and thus many are expecting the same result. But now that they’ve been in there with each other and have evolved further, things are bound to be a bit different.
Whittaker has openly stated that he believes Blachowicz laid the blueprint on how to beat Adesanya when the fought at UFC 259, suggesting that he could look to wrestle more in the rematch.
Izzy on the other hand is adamant the outcome will in fact be the same, claiming that Whittaker’s most recent wins have been blown out of proportion.
But it’s impossible to ignore just how evenly matched these two fighters are on paper. Both have got excellent striking techniques, knockout power, great movement and a brilliant fight IQ.
Anyone who tells you they’re completely writing either man off is a liar, because it’s just impossible to do so.
If Adesanya is to claim a second victory over Whittaker, then he undoubtedly jumps ahead of him in that list of memorable and great middleweights that was mentioned earlier.
There is even a case that he tops it, considering he holds a win over Silva too and has done everything in such a short period of time.
A win for Whittaker though pits them closer than ever before in the legacy rankings, which means a third and final deciding fight will be needed to separate them and decide who the best really is.
Adesanya is undefeated at 185-pounds, defending his title three times successfully against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa at UFC 253 and Marvin Vettori at UFC 263. He suffered the first defeat of his career against Jan Blachowicz when he looked to move up to light heavyweight and become a double champion at UFC 259.
Whittaker on the other hand has won three-in-a-row since losing his title to Adesanya, easing to decision victories against Darren Till at UFC Fight Island 3, Jared Cannonier at UFC 254 and then Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.
This fight is between the two undisputed best middleweights in the entire world, with their performances in the division putting them far and away ahead of the rest of the weight class.
It’s now been revealed however that Adesanya and Whittaker will instead meet at UFC 271 in February following the booking of Ngannou vs Gane.
According to Brazilian outlet Combate, the UFC have moved the middleweight title fight to the following month in order to spread their title fights out a little bit for the new year.
Adesanya’s gym, City Kickboxing, are expecting to essentially relocate to the United States between now and the end of the year due to New Zealand’s quarantine rules, with several fighters desperate to fight but stuck with certain dates.
With the champion planning on moving to the USA he will be more readily available to fight and it seems the UFC are rewarding that by giving him a little extra time to prepare, while Whittaker won’t say no to that either.
The champion has a professional record of 21-1, with middleweight title fight wins over Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori. The only defeat of his career came at UFC 259 earlier this year when he was beaten by light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz as he moved up to try and become a double-champ.
Whittaker is 23-5 professionally but since moving to middleweight in 2014 is 11-1, with his only defeat coming when he lost the title to Adesanya in 2019. Since then he has gone 3-0, beating all of Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum via decision.
UFC 271 is scheduled to take place on February 12th 2022, although a location has yet to be confirmed.
The UFC is set to announce a double header of title fights for the opening pay-per-view even of 2022, headlined by a heavyweight title fight.
The heavyweight division has seen a new champion crowned and then an interim title created too in 2021, despite the champion being available but the belts will be unified on January 22nd 2022 when Francis Ngannou looks to defend his title for the first time against former teammate Ciryl Gane.
The event will be co-headlined by another of the company’s African champions, as Israel Adesanya will face off against the man he won the belt against in 2019 Robert Whittaker in a hotly anticipated rematch.
Francis Ngannou started the year in fantastic fashion, avenging a defeat to Stipe Miocic with a brilliant performance at UFC 260 which ended in a vicious second-round knockout.
Ngannou then went on a tour of his homeland with the belt, before looking for a potential date in September to defend his title – ideally against Jon Jones or Derrick Lewis.
However when the UFC insisted on an August date and Ngannou couldn’t do it, they instead pitted Lewis against the undefeated Gane in Texas for an interim title.
Gane picked Lewis apart and eventually secured a brutal knockout in the second-round of their UFC 265 main event to move the Frenchman to 3-0 in 2021 and 7-0 in the UFC.
The two former teammates will go head-to-head in the main event, with French outlet La Sueur reporting that a deal is close to being finalized.
It’s been widely reported also that in the co-main event Adesanya and Whittaker will once again do battle for the 185lbs title, a little over two years on from their first meeting.
The first time around Adesanya put in a dazzling performance to secure a second-round knockout win over the then undisputed champion. ‘Izzy’ has continued his excellent record at middleweight since, beating all of Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettorri most recently at UFC 263 in the division although he suffered the first and only defeat of his career to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 when he challenged for the light heavyweight title.
Whittaker has been flawless since the defeat to Adesanya, going 3-0 with wins over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and Kelvin Gastelum to secure himself a shot and set up a fight between the two best middleweight fighters in the world today.
UFC 270 will take place on January 22nd 2022, with Las Vegas expected to be the host location although that is not confirmed yet.
Israel Adesanya will return to the middleweight division this summer to defend his 185lbs title in a rematch against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263.
Adesanya suffered the first taste of defeat in his professional career last time out, moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz in a bid to become a simultaneous champion. He found the step up too tough though as the legendary Polish power was able to stifle him and use his size to nullify him on the mat for a unanimous decision win.
The two will go head to head in a rematch from 2018, where Adesanya claimed victory in a split-decision bout that Vettori was grossly unhappy about.
The Italian protested the decision in the cage and hasn’t lost a fight since, while forever maintaining that he felt he won the first fight and is better than Adesanya. ‘The Last Stylebender’ would go on to beat Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson, Anderson Silva, Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa at UFC 253 after the first bout to be recognised as one of the best middleweights ever.
According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani and UFC president Dana White, the organisation did offer Whittaker the fight first but the timings didn’t quite work out. Whittaker must quarantine for two weeks before he is able to go back to his family, and with the date being just eight weeks away he deemed it too short.
Adesanya was reportedly adamant about fighting in June to make amends for his March defeat at UFC 259 and thus Vettori was offered the fight instead. White has confirmed that Whittaker will get the next title shot as he is recognised as the number one contender and this would’ve been his fight had he been available.
Robert Whittaker confirmed his status as the number one contender and best of the rest in the middleweight division with a dominant win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24.
‘The Reaper’ controlled the fight throughout landing 150 significant strikes and four takedowns in the 25 minutes, to waltz to a 50-45 unanimous decision win across the board.
It marked three wins in a row for Bobby Knuckles, who’s only defeat in the middleweight division thus far has come against the current champion Israel Adesanya when he lost the title in 2019.
But the version of Whittaker we have seen since that bout against The Last Stylebender is arguably the best one, with three dominant decision wins in which he’s taken minimal damage and managed to nullify three top ten contenders in succession.
He looks light on his feet, sharp in the striking, is mixing his game up tremendously and most importantly avoiding damage. Prior to his fight with Jared Cannonier at UFC 254, Whittaker had been knocked down five times in three fights and was getting himself into wars.
He was burnt out and needed a break, so after losing his title he did just that. While he got caught with a flush elbow from Till in his return, that can happen against a world class striker that. But he came back and dominated the fight for the most part to win comfortably, then completely strolled through the Cannonier and Gastelum fights.
After the bout he made it clear that he does want a rematch with Adesanya for the title, and called on the UFC to make it happen in a sold-out stadium in Australia in September time. Speaking in his post-fight press conference, Whittaker said directly to Adesanya;
“I think we should talk mate, I think it’s about time we crossed paths once again and I think we can get a sold out stadium, they might even open up the borders for Australia in September. Lets make that happen, lets see if we can get a stadium back home.”
Adesanya tweeted out after Whittaker’s impressive win “good job my son” in response, and Whittaker admitted he’s entitled to trash talk after winning the first fight between them. He did say however that he believes he’s got the tools to win a rematch.
“I’m going to work hard. I think I’ve got some tricks he hasn’t seen yet and I’ll give him a good run I think.”
The win means that Marvin Vettori is likely to need to wait for his title shot, meaning he will likely take another fight in the mean time. Vettori was rallying for a shot after beating Kevin Holland in the main event at UFC Vegas 23.
The Italian was at cageside for the UFC Vegas 24 main event and afterwards admitted that he feels he’d give Whittaker trouble with his pressure style, but that fight is unlikely to happen with Adesanya’s response essentially accepting that a rematch between himself and Whittaker is inevitable.
Vettori could fight Derek Brunson next, who also beat Kevin Holland just last month to move into the top five of the rankings. That fight could happen around the same time as Adesanya-Whittaker 2 or even on the same card in case someone was to drop out, or would set up the next contender immediately.
Pena is a great striker with a good submission game too, while Munhoz is a strict wrestler who if he can’t get the fight down to the ground will undoubtedly struggle. Pena has all the tools to put a good run together, but it just never seems to click for him in the cage. Munhoz suffered a first defeat last time out against one of the better boxers in the division last time out.
It’s a one-sided fight, it’s just hard to know which way it goes because of the weaknesses both men have leading in to the opposite numbers strengths. As it stands though, I think Munhoz is likely to get the takedowns needed to grind out a decision win. PICK – Alexander Munhoz via Decision
Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-3) vs Jacob Malkoun (4-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Both guys are violent strikers with power that puts people to sleep, but Alhassan is by far the more experienced man in the cage. Malkoun’s record is short and a bit stodgy and his biggest claim to fame is that he’s a training partner of Robert Whittaker’s. Both guys have the power to put the other to sleep, but I can’t see past Alhassan getting back on the winning trail with a big, violent stoppage. PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1
Andrei Arlovski (30-20) vs Chase Sherman (15-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The legendary former world champion makes a quick turnaround to take on a big prospect in the heavyweight division. Andrei Arlovski had won two in a row beating Phillipe Lins and Tanner Boser at UFC Vegas 13, before being submitted by Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 19 earlier this year. Sherman has won four in a row including his UFC return against Isaac Villanueva back in May 2020.
Arlovski is a legendary kickboxer with tremendous punching power and great technique, while Sherman is a bit more of a traditional boxer with great power in his hands. Sherman is a specialist knockout artist, but considering he’s mainly a boxer he gets hit an awful lot.
It’s a tough fight to call, because both men have had questionable chins in the past and while Sherman has more power now Arlovski is the better all-round fighter. Despite that, Arlovski has lost a step in age at 42-years-old now and I think Sherman should be able to get enough volume going to get a win. PICK – Chase Sherman via Decision
Jeremy Stephens (28-18 1NC) vs Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An intriguing lightweight bout in the co-main event as ‘Lil Heathen’ makes a return to 155lbs for the first time in nine years to take on the highly rated Drakkar Klose. Stephens was a contender at featherweight for a while but then went 0-4 (1 NC) in his last five to send him on a spiral back up to lightweight, while Klose had won three in a row before getting knocked out in a crazy fight against Beneil Dariush just over a year ago.
Stephens is a well rounded fighter who often relies on his heavy hands and steady boxing for big wins and it’s come up trumps more often than not. While his recent record is horrendous, he’s only been beaten by the elite of the 145lbs division so it’s hard to see how far he’s fallen if at all. Klose on the other hand is fantastic wrestler who has heavy hands of his own, but usually looks to take fights to the mat and work his ground and pound.
This is a really fun fight, but I can’t see it going particularly well for Stephens. Klose is the more technical fighter of the two, and while both men are durable Stephens was getting hurt by smaller guys than Klose. I think Klose will threaten the takedown and throw his hands too to be able to secure a decision win. PICK – Drakkar Klose via Decision
Robert Whittaker (23-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (17-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
Whittaker is an elite level kickboxer who is a master of range, with heavy hands and great footwork. Gastelum on the other hand is a heavy-handed wrestler who has good submission skills too. Whittaker is one of the best middleweights of all-time but he does get hit and rocked quite often. Gastelum has the power to hurt Whittaker with his hands, but he needs to get close enough and land clean to do it and I can’t see that.
‘Bobby Knuckles’ is better in every aspect of MMA and while Gastelum has a remarkable chin that will likely hold out, I cannot look past Whittaker waltzing to a decision win once again. PICK – Robert Whittaker via Decision