Jacksonville, Florida will play host to UFC 273, one of the year’s most stacked MMA cards. In the main event, reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will look for his third straight title defense. Looking to spoil the show is perennial contender Chan Sung Jung, better known as ‘The Korean Zombie’.
That’s not it, however. The title unification rematch we’ve all been waiting for will finally go down; bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and interim champion Petr Yan will settle the score, after their controversial 2021 fight.
To add more to this stacked card, a welterweight title shot is hanging in the balance. Surging phenom Khamzat Chimaev looks to prove his elite status at 170lbs when he fights former title challenger Gilbert Burns.
Let’s take a closer look at this card!
(c) Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) vs (#4) Chan Sung Jung (17-6) – UFC featherweight championship bout
An epic title clash between the undisputed king at 145lbs and one his hardest-hitting foes is set for the marque of UFC 273.
Wollogong’s Alexander Volkanovski currently sits in the top-3 of the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings, and for good reason. The Aussie’s promotional tenure thus far has seen him go unbeaten, with wins over Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. A technical striker of the finest order, there aren’t many who can do it quite like Volkanovski is doing at 145lbs. ‘The Great’ looks poised for a long and dominant title reign.
It’s been almost a decade since Chan Sung Jung’s last UFC title opportunity. Since that time, ‘The Korean Zombie’ has gone 4-2 in the Octagon, proving he is more than capable of still hanging with the best after a storied career. Renowned for his granite chin, Zombie brings an aggressive style and power-punches into every fight he is. A perfect storm scenario could see Zombie finally claim a UFC title for Korea at UFC 273.
(c) Aljamain Sterling (20-3) vs (ic) Petr Yan (16-2) – UFC bantamweight championship unification bout
Two bantamweight rivals will finally get the chance to run it back for the undisputed title.
Despite his disputed status as champion, there is no doubt that titleholder Aljamain Sterling is one of the very best at 135lbs. The New Yorker has used a combination of unorthodox striking and slick submissions to climb the ranks, en route to his title win. A persistent neck injury now dealt with, ‘Funkmaster’ feels like he is ready to put on his best performance to date. This fight serves as a chance at redemption for Sterling, given the ending of their UFC 259 bout.
One illegal shot in 2021 cost Petr Yan his undisputed bantamweight title. Due to the controversial nature of the bout, Russia’s finest has been dubbed the ‘people’s champ’ at 135lbs. Yan’s unrelenting striking has brought him to the top spot he is currently in, including an interim title win against Cory Sandhagen in his last outing. For ‘No Mercy’, this is simply an opportunity to prove that he is the true top dog in his division.
(#2) Gilbert Burns (20-4) vs (#11) Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) – welterweight bout
A potential shot at tbe 170lb title is on the line between a rising star and an elite jiu-jitsu practitioner in the featured bout.
Sanford MMA’s Gilbert Burns has spent the past few years establishing his status at the top of the welterweight division. The only man to have stopped Burns’ lethal submission game and KO power has been champion Kamaru Usman. To earn a rematch with the champ, ‘Durinho’ will have to put on another stellar performance that he is known for.
In the words of Dana White, there has not been a prospect in the UFC like Khamzat Chimaev. The Swede has used his national wrestling pedigree to completely destory every opponent he has faced. Should he choose to keep it on the feet, one-punch power can see Chimaev end the fight in a flash. A win at UFC 273 could catapult the fan-favourite ‘Borz’ into a title fight in the near future.
(#5) Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs (#7) Tecia Torres (13-5) – strawweight bout
A chance at strawweight title contention will be up for grabs in this stylistic dream matchup at 115lbs.
For many years now, Mackenzie Dern has been considered the future of the UFC’s strawweight division. The jiu-jitsu champion’s grappling ability has made her a nightmare for almost all of her oppisition inside the Octagon. At 29 years old, it seems as though Dern is beginning to enter her athletic prime. If she can get back on track with a win this weekend, she’ll be looking like a real contender for the strawweight title.
The ‘gatekeeper’ term was loosely attached to #7 ranked Tecia Torres after a string of losses. Three wins on the spin for ‘Tiny Tornado’ has seen her firmly re-enter the title picture. She brings a very talented blend of black-belt in karate and tae-kwon-do & aggresive wrestling to make every fight she’s in a tough one. A fourth win for Torres could absolutely line her up for her first every UFC title opportunity.
Mark Madsen (11-0) vs Vinc Pichel (14-2) – lightweight bout
The top 15 at lightweight is ripe with talented contenders, but these two are looking to keep winning and add their names to the title mix.
Three fights deep into his UFC run, Denmark’s Mark Madsen looks to be everything that his reputation built him up to be. ‘The Olympian’ has used his wrestling to hustle all of his pro opponents thus far, and he has no desire to stop now. At 37 years old, the time for Madsen is now if he’s hoping to make a real run at the title. A win over Pichel could absolutely be the catalyst for a high-profile fight in the future.
Losses to Rustam Khabilov and Gregor Gillespie have been the only career downfalls for California’s Vinc Pichel. The talent of the Factory X fighter was known since his pro debut in 2009, but injuries sidelined him and he seemed to be fighting inconsistently. Now, however, Pichel has been putting grappling talent to good use, currently riding a three-fight win-streak. A fourth win notched onto the streak good give ‘From Hell’ Pichel the recognition he deserves.
Ian Garry (8-0) vs Darian Weeks (5-1) – welterweight bout
A pair of welterweight standouts are hoping to climb further up the ladder in the featured prelim of UFC 273.
Ireland’s best hope for a second UFC title returns for his sophomore appearance. Ian Garry claimed his first promotional win back in November, scoring a first-round KO over Jordan Williams. Preceeding that performance, ‘The Future’ claimed the Cage Warriors welterweight title with a gritty decision win. At only 24 years old and standing at 6’3″, there could be things down the line for the Dublin native if he continues to win.
A 5-1 start to his pro career hasn’t been half bad for Darian Weeks. Before that, Weeks came up through the IMMAF circuit, going 15-4. Bringing the fight to the ground is likely the plan in mind, hoping to score a fifth TKO win. Hungry for his first UFC win, this will be no “gimme” fight for Garry.
(#8) Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3) vs (#10) Marcin Tybura (22-7) – heavyweight bout
Redemption is on the minds of Suriname’s and Poland’s top heavyweights coming into this weekend.
The hype behind Jairzinho Rozenstruik has not died, but it has come to a halt following mixed results. Coming into UFC 273, ‘Bigi Boy’ is hoping to get back to winning ways and climb back to title contention. A pro kickboxing career has honed Rozenstruik’s technical ability, as well as his knockout power. It’s clear that a twelfth career KO is going to be on Rozenstruik’s mind on Saturday.
An opportunity to challenge for a UFC title has alluded Marcin Tybura. The talent and skill is absolutely there for the Pole, however. He has gone 5-1 in his last six, only dropping a close decision to Alexander Volkov. His speed for heavyweight, coupled with his mauling grappling, make him a tough outing for anybody in his division. This is a very winnable fight for Tybura.
Who are you picking this weekend? Who will be the champions as of Sunday morning? Let us know in the comments!
Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson
Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.
Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.
His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 Founder, Adam Newsome:
“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.
So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”
Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to fight and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.
However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”
Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!
Sumo | Summer Tournament wide open after 10 days
The Sumo Summer Tournament has a surprise joint-leader after 10 days, but many Rikishi are in with a shout of glory with only 5 days to go.
So far, only two have managed to achieve a guaranteed winning record, with M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto and M4 Takanosho posting 8-2 records 10 days in to the basho. It remains to be seen if he can keep up his championship challenge, but Ichiyamamoto is bringing back memories of the January 2020 basho when the M17 ranked Tokushoryu took home the title in a huge surprise. Whatever happens, Ichiyamamoto should see himself catapulted up the rankings for the next tournament if he can keep up this form. It is a welcome return to form for Takanosho who has previously been a Sekiwake.
Despite his patchy form, Terunofuji has scrapped himself to a 7-3 record, which puts him 1 behind the leaders in a large chasing pack. On day 10 he managed to get by a spirited Hoshoryu who is improving all the time. The Mongolian giant will be hopeful of taking home his first championship of the year. Others in the pack on 7-3 are Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi and Aoiyama. With NINE more wrestlers on 6-4, only two behind the leaders and with an outside shot, there will be an amazing 16 Rikishi who may be dreaming of lifting the Emperor’s Cup come Sunday 22nd May. The chances of there being a playoff for the win for the second tournament running are looking pretty high.
Down at the other end of the table, it has been another tournament to forget for March’s playoff runner-up, Takayasu, who has posted a losing record of 2-8 so far. After doing so well to get himself back to M1 rank, he will find himself going down the rankings ahead of the July tournament. Ozeki Shodai has continued his poor form and one more defeat will once again see him staring down the possibility of losing his rank come July. March winner Wakatakakage, alongside fellow Sanyaku ranked competitors Abi, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi, are all fighting for winning records having gone 5-5 so far.
Keep an eye out for the next update after Saturday’s day 14 when I will be recapping the standings and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting final-day’s action.
Remember to check out the VMTV Sumo introduction and guide here if you need a refresher of the rules and some of the words used in these articles.
You can find the full rankings and results of the tournament so far at the Japan Sumo Association’s page here.
UFC London | Aspinall vs Blaydes Staff Predictions
The UFC will take centre stage once again in London as they return to UK shores for a second time this year on July 23rd. Following the immense success of the previous show in March, the O2 Arena will again play host to another stacked night of fights.
Headlining the card is surging heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall who will be looking to cement his name amongst the top ranked in the division with a win over #4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. It’s do or die for Darren Till when he faces Jack Hermansson in the co-main event as he aims to get his first win since 2019.
Leading up to the event, VMTV have teamed up with MMAPlay365 and our writing staff will be giving their predictions for each fight on the card as there announced. You can view details on the partnership between VMTV and MMAPlay365 here.
Tom Aspinall vs Curtis Blaydes
- Cauley – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R4
- Matt – Tom Aspinall via decision
- Jamie -Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
- Jake – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
- Darragh – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R3
- Harry – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
- Colin – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R2
Darren Till vs Jack Hermansson
- Cauley – Jack Hermansson via decision
- Matt – Darren Till via KO/TKO, R2
- Jamie – Darren Till via decision
- Jake – Darren Till via decision
- Darragh – Jack Hermansson via submission, R3
- Harry – Jack Hermansson via decision
- Colin – Darren Till via decision
Nikita Krylov vs Alexander Gustafsson
- Cauley – Nikita Krylov via decision
- Matt – Nikita Krylov via KO/TKO, R1
- Jamie – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
- Jake – Nikita Krylov via submission, R1
- Darragh – Nikita Krylov via decision
- Harry – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
- Colin – Nikita Krylov via decision
Paul Craig vs Volkan Oezdemir
- Cauley – Paul Craig via submission, R1
- Matt – Paul Craig via submission, R2
- Jamie – Paul Craig via submission, R2
- Jake – Paul Craig via submission, R2
- Darragh – Paul Craig via submission, R1
- Harry – Paul Craig via submission, R2
- Colin – Paul Craig via submission, R2
Muhammed Mokaev vs Charles Johnson
- Cauley – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R2
- Matt – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1
- Jamie – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R2
- Jake – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
- Darragh – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R1
- Harry – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
- Colin – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1
Molly McCann vs Hannah Goldy
- Cauley – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R3
- Matt – Molly McCann via decision
- Jamie – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R2
- Jake – Molly McCann via decision
- Darragh – Molly McCann via decision
- Harry – Molly McCann via decision
- Colin – Molly McCann via decision
Mandy Bohm vs Victoria Leonardo
- Cauley – Victoria Leonardo via KO/TKO, R2
- Matt – Mandy Bohm via decision
- Jamie – Mandy Bohm via decision
- Jake – Mandy Bohm via decision
- Darragh – Mandy Bohm via decision
- Harry – Mandy Bohm via decision
- Colin – Mandy Bohm via decision
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