Finally, we have MMA back.
After eight weeks of no sporting events in the United States, the UFC returns with one of the biggest and best cards (on paper) of all time.
After tons of controversy involving fighters pulling out, undisclosed fight locations, and a global pandemic, the UFC has finally prepared a card to entertain the masses.
Whether you are a fan of MMA or not, if you enjoy sports, you should be interested in this card. There will be two title fights, a title eliminator, the returns of major title contenders, and big-name after big name.
This is simply a fight card you cannot miss. The world will be watching UFC 249 on Saturday, May 9th, 2020, and here is what we have to look forward to.
The early prelims kick off with Ryan Spann riding a seven-fight win streak into a bout with UFC veteran Sam Alvey in the Light Heavyweight division. This will be a particularly interesting fight for Alvey. Alvey turned 34 this week and is looking for a birthday present in the form of victory, which would snap a three-fight losing streak. If Alvey were to lose this bout, it’s very possible he may be on the UFC’s chopping block for potential cuts so a win will be crucial for him.
This fight is followed by a Featherweight bout pitting Charles Rosa against the undefeated Bryce Mitchell. With a win here, Mitchell would not only move to 13-0 for his career but could also begin angling to crack the top 15 of the UFC’s 145-pound division.
The early prelims wrap up with a Welterweight bout where Vicente Luque will face Niko Price. This will be the second time these two meet inside the octagon with the first meeting going in favor of Luque back in 2017. This first meeting was Price’s first professional loss. Price, coming off of a beautiful upkick knockout of James Vick, will no doubt look to avenge that loss on Saturday.
The ESPN prelims will begin with Jacare Souza returning to Middleweight to face number 10 ranked Uriah Hall. After an unsuccessful attempt to move to Light Heavyweight, Souza will look to bounce back from a two-fight skid and make a late push to ascend back up the 185-pound rankings. At 40 years of age, it will certainly be interesting to see how Souza fairs. His opponent, Uriah Hall, is currently on a two-fight winning streak and would love to extend it to three with a win over the former Strikeforce Champion.
Following this is the only female bout on the card pitting number seven ranked Strawweight contender, and former UFC Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza against number eight ranked Michelle Waterson. The winner of this bout could begin to ascend up the Strawweight rankings and, after another win, potentially challenge the Champion Weili Zhang. There are some absolute monsters at the top of the 115-pound division but a win here could put either fighter in position to make a run.
After this, we will see the return of the former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum. Werdum called out 72 fight veteran Alexey Oleinik to be his return fight. Werdum has been out for two years after failing a USADA drug test and at 42 years old, Werdum’s best years may be behind him. The rest of the Heavyweight division will be keeping a close eye on the former champion in his return fight.
The prelims wrap up with two household names as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on Anthony “Showtime” Pettis for the second time. Both lost their last fights on the same night at UFC 246 and now they will both look to get back on the winning track in the Welterweight division. These two Lightweights-turned-Welterweights are sporting losing streaks entering this fight, so both will be looking for a big win on Saturday night. Pettis was able to get the victory in their first bout back in 2013 which should give him a definite mental advantage heading into the fight.
The main card begins with former NFL veteran and Dana White’s Contender Series alumni Greg Hardy taking on the undefeated Yorgan De Castro. With 11 combined wins between the two and 10 of those victories coming by way of knockout, the fans will be in for a treat when these two behemoth Heavyweights go at it.
This is followed by a Featherweight bout between Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar. Kattar comes into this fight after being just edged out on the scorecards by Zabit Magomedsharipov in his last bout. Stephens enters coming off of defeats from former Featherweight king Jose Aldo, Zabit, and Yair Rodriguez. Both of these ranked contenders will look to enter the win column and begin a run to eventually challenge for the UFC Featherweight Championship against Alexander Volkanovski.
After this is the most anticipated Heavyweight bout since Stipe Miocic rematched Daniel Cormier. Francis N’Gannou will take on Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a fight to surely determine the next contender for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. There is a mythic power that these two possess in their hands. Much like the Hardy-De Castro bout earlier in the night, the fans will be in for a real treat here.
The first of two title bouts are up next as Henry Cejudo puts his UFC Bantamweight Championship on the line against former Bantamweight king Dominick Cruz. After Jose Aldo was forced to pull out due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, Cejudo called out Cruz to further his legacy within the UFC. Cruz will look to regain the throne after battling so many injuries throughout his career in the co-main event.
Finally, the main event is not the one the fans planned on, but it may be just as entertaining. Tony Ferguson will face Justin Gaethje for the Interim Lightweight Championship and stake their claim as number one contender for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Lightweight Championship. Ferguson enters this fight with the longest winning strictly in UFC Lightweight history at 12. Gaethje, a strong wrestler with heavy hands, will try to unseat Ferguson as the number one contender in the Lightweight division. Gaethje will try to utilize his wrestling to keep the fight standing and avoid Tony’s guard as Tony will look for any openings in Justin’s game.
This should be a very entertaining card from top to bottom. This comes at the perfect time for sports fans in desperate need of a distraction.
It will be nice to have that distraction on Saturday night as the UFC will return to entertain us all.
Who do you think will win these bouts? What fights are you most looking forward to?
Featured Image: @UFC