As the centrepiece of the UFC’s thirtieth anniversary, Madison Square Garden will play host to the stacked UFC 295 card this weekend. The main event will see former champions sqaure off for the vacant light-heavyweight title bout. Czechia’s Jiri Procházka returns after a year-long layoff, hoping to reclaim the title he never lost in the ring. Stood in his way will be Brazil’s Alex Pereira, who looks to pick up his second championship in just his second year with the promotion.
Gold will also be up for grabs in the co-main event. Stepping up on just two weeks notice, Russian powerhouse Sergei Pavlovich and English finisher Tom Aspinall will throw down to crown a new interim heavyweight champion.
Let’s take a closer look at this card!
Note: all odds were taken from ESPN and are accurate, as of the time of writing.
(#1) Jiri Procházka (29-3-1) vs (#3) Alex Pereira (8-2) – vacant UFC light-heavyweight championship bout
A title showcase of epic proportions will close out UFC 295, with two former champions battling for the 205lb championship.
After a stunning comeback victory in Singapore, it seemed like Jiri Procházka was poised to have one of the most exciting reigns in modern history. A nasty shoulder injury, however, forced him to relinquish the title before ever defending. Now healthy, the former champion is ready to reclaim his title. Procházka’s erratic fighting style makes him a must-watch competitor. An unorthodox blend of traditional striking arts, his attacks often involve spinning and jumping strikes, while his defense cannot be explained with words – seriously, it’s something I can’t describe. His last win against Glover Teixeira also showcased that he has decent submission ability when the fight hits the mat. Whether his unique approach brings victory or not this weekend, I speak for everyone when I say that I’m happy to see ‘The Czech Samurai’ return to action.
Saturday night will mark Alex Pereira’s third promotional fight at Madison Square Garden, his two prior being his debut against Andreas Michaildis and his title victory against Israel Adesanya. In just two years, the Brazilian has reached feats that seemed unaccomplishable to many. He picked up the middleweight championship within just a year, and despite losing it, he is now poised to put another belt on his mantelpiece. Pereira’s aura of intimidation comes from his patented left hook, deemed to have some of the most power of any one strike in the UFC. The influence of his long kickboxing career, which saw him pick up two GLORY titles, is evident in all of his appearance. He holds a somewhat unorthodox upright posture, but this allows him to strike with speed and accuracy that make him a threat to everyone. ‘Poatan’ is a small favourite ahead of this bout; considering the sheer power he possesses, it’s easy to see why.
ODDS: Prochazka (+105), Pereira (-125)
(#2) Sergei Pavlovich (18-1) vs (#4) Tom Aspinall (13-3) – interim UFC heavyweight championship bout
A new interim champion will be crowned, as a pair of heavy hitters will square off in the co-main event.
Initially booked as a backup for a bout between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic, Sergei Pavlovich now finds himself in the first title opportunity of his UFC career. The heavy-handed Russian enters this bout on the back of a streak comprised of six straight first-round knockouts. He has been tapped by many as the greatest threat to the heavyweight title picture in years. It’s clear to see why. The speed and power behind his punches have left all but one opponent on the canvas. He consistently finds the mark with his shots and, when you’re fighting a man with his kind of power, it doesn’t take many to stop a fight. Pavlovich enters this bout as a marginal underdog, but it’s foolish to count him out of any fight.
Just a few short months ago, it was unclear if Tom Aspinall would return to the Octagon with the same vigour that he carried before his knee injury. Now, he is poised to become the first ever British heavyweight champion. The Wigan native made a triumphant return to competition with a speedy decimation of Marcin Tybura in July, showcasing the hand speed and finishing ability that he is known for. On just two weeks notice, he will need to bring that skillset to the cage in order to acquire the gold he has been fighting towards. A key aspect of Aspinall’s game that he cannot overlook is his grappling; Pavlovich’s lone career loss to Alistair Overeem saw him overpowered in the clinch and on the mat. The Englishman’s grappling is nothing to scoff at, holding submission wins over Alexander Volkov and Andrei Arlovski. ‘Tommy Two Legs’ feels like he’s in the prime of his career, but only time will tell if it’s enough to win UFC gold.
ODDS: Pavlovich (+100), Aspinall (-120)
(#5) Jessica Andrade (24-12) vs (#7) Mackenzie Dern (13-3) – strawweight bout
An all-action former champion looks to get back in the win column against a submission ace looking to climb the ladder.
Times have been tough for Jessica Andrade recently. The former 115lb titleholder has fallen into a skid of three losses, albeit to elite competition. Undeterred, the Brazilian is keen to get back to winning ways and make another run at gold. This is a feat that is certainly not out of reach for Andrade, given the power than she packs behind every punch. She is perhaps the hardest hitter in the strawweight division, boasting nine career knockouts and brutalisations of many more. She does also hold eight submission wins to her name, should the fight hit the mat. ‘Bata Estaca’ comes into the bout as an underdog, though the ultimate equaliser of power could change the tide in a flash.
On the back of a blowout win against Angela Hill, Mackenzie Dern is ready to add another victory to her resumé in New York City. The jiu-jitsu black belt has long been hailed as one of the division’s finest talents, though she has struggled to break through to title contender status. She feels that now, however, she is ready to make a true run at the belt. As a former ADCC world champion, Dern’s strongsuit is on the mat. Her four promotional wins by submission are the most in the division’s history. In short, don’t give her your neck or any of your limbs; if you do, it’s a wrap. Simple as.
ODDS: Andrade (+160), Dern (-190)
(#14) Matt Frevola (11-3-1) vs Benoit Saint-Denis (12-1, 1 NC) – lightweight bout
An explosive New Yorker looks to continue his streak of upsets, but France’s finest lightweight finisher is ready to spoil the homecoming show.
A trio of first-round knockout wins have injected Matt Frevola into the rankings at 155lbs, despite the odds being stacked against him. His latest stoppage against the iron-chinned Drew Dober, in particular, displayed that the New Yorker has the power to put anyone at lightweight to sleep. Within the UFC, Frevola has showcased much in the way of his grappling, but there hasn’t been any need to. His ability to put the opponent down and out has been enough to earn him five promotional wins. Like in his two most recent bouts, ‘The Steamrolla’ is the underdog coming into this fight.
Aside from a lone short-notice loss in a higher weight class, Benoit Saint-Denis has hade a near perfect run in the big show. He currently rides the back of a four wins, mostly recently a TKO over Thiago Moises in the former’s home of France. Saint-Denis has showcased a capable striking arsenal, but his best work comes on the ground. His wrestling allows him to handle his opponents with ease, before setting up a submission attempt or pounding down from top position until the referee steps in. It would be ideal for Saint-Denis to bring Frevola to the mat early. ‘God of War’ enters at just over 1/2 odds.
ODDS: Frevola (+175), Saint-Denis (-210)
UFC Austin – Weigh-In Results
With UFC Austin just a day away, all fighters competing tomorrow night have taken to the scales.
Let’s see who weighed in!
Main card (12am GMT – TNT Sports)
(#4) Beneil Dariush (156lbs) vs (#8) Arman Tsarukyan (155.5lbs) – lightweight bout
(#12) Jalin Turner (156lbs) vs (#13) Bobby Green (155lbs) – lightweight bout
(#8) Rob Font (135lbs) vs (#2 – FLW) Deiveson Figueiredo (135lbs) – bantamweight bout
(#9) Sean Brady (170lbs) vs (#11 – MW) Kelvin Gastelum (170lbs) – welterweight bout
Joaquim Silva (156lbs) vs Clay Guida (156lbs) – lightweight bout
Punahele Soriano (185.5lbs) vs Dustin Stoltzfus (185.5lbs) – middleweight bout
Prelims (9pm GMT – TNT Sports/UFC Fight Pass)
(#12) Miesha Tate (135.5lbs) vs (#13) Julia Avila (135.5lbs) – bantamweight bout
Zach Reese (185lbs) vs Cody Brundage (185lbs) – middleweight bout
Drakkar Klose (155.5lbs) vs Joe Solecki (155lbs) – lightweight bout
Rodolfo Bellato (205.5lbs) vs Ihor Potieira (204lbs) – light-heavyweight bout
Wellington Turman (171lbs) vs Jared Gooden (171lbs) – welterweight bout
Veronica Hardy (125lbs) vs Jamey-Lyn Horth (125lbs) – flyweight bout
ONE Championship To Spotlight MMA In 2024 With 60 Events Scheduled
ONE Championship’s goal for 2023 saw them place a spotlight on the greatest fighters in Muay Thai fighters on its roster through its weekly ONE Friday Fights series. But 2024 will see the organization adjust its focus back to MMA.
In an interview with South China Morning Post this week, ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong discussed the outcomes of the martial arts giant’s commitment to Muay Thai over the last 12 months, and he spoke of the exciting plans ONE has for 2024 & for MMA.
“You’re going to see MMA back in full force. We have our US stadium shows, we have Qatar, Japan. In the Philippines, we have one or two shows,” Sityodtong announced to the South China Morning Post.
“ONE Friday Fights and the Muay Thai product are very much on a firm footing now. We’ve laid the groundwork and feel very comfortable it’s running on autopilot, and now we’re able to scale up. We’ve firmly established we have the No. 1 striking property on the planet. The focus will be sharply back onto mixed martial arts.”
Arguably, the most-anticipated date on ONE’s calendar next year is its debut event in the Middle East.
The organization was scheduled to put on an event in Qatar in December 2023, but plans were rearranged when conflict broke out nearby.
But with 2024 looming, Sityodtong has confirmed that the show will go on in mid-spring.
“First and foremost, it is the right decision, given the sensitive circumstances in the region. Also, the war broke out right in the middle of our execution,” the ONE co-founder said.
“The good news for fans and athletes is that March 1st is 100 percent happening in Doha. Thank you to all of the stakeholders in Qatar for making it possible.”
Along with confirming the news of ONE’s first-ever show in the Middle East, Sityodtong also hinted at an event in Europe in the coming 12 months.
While the location is still under wraps, it would make sense for the promotion to bring its exciting live show to a European country, given the amount of talent from the continent that ONE has on its roster.
“Yeah, knock on wood, I think in the next couple of weeks I will be making a major announcement for Europe, our biggest for Europe in our history,” Sityodtong teased.
“It’s very exciting.”
Roberto Soldic, Stephen Irvine, and Nico Carrillo have all been introduced to the global fanbase this past year. And with Jonathan Haggerty’s rise to two-sport stardom in the bantamweight division, there is a seemingly endless amount of firepower from the region that could feature on ONE’s debut card there.
Can Abdisalam Kubanychbek end the curse of BRAVE CF’s Lightweight world title?
One of the most devastating fighters to ever grace the BRAVE CF arena, Abdisalam Kubanychbek has finally earned the world title he worked hard for: he`s the undisputed BRAVE CF Lightweight champion of the world. But ahead of his first defense against Lucas ‘’Mineiro’’ Martins at BRAVE CF 77, on December 5, a curse rears its ugly head once again. In total, BRAVE CF has had seven titleholders, and none of them have been able to defend their belt.
The Lightweight world title has traveled the world, being contested in Bahrain (3 times), Brazil (2 times), Jordan, Poland, Uzbekistan, and Serbia. Each time, the champion failed to defend, losing the fight – and the belt- immediately after winning it.
The belt has been in possession of Ottman Azaitar (Morocco), Lucas Martins (Brazil), Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady (Jordan), Luan Santiago (Brazil), Cleiton Silva (Brazil), Amin Ayoub (France), Ahmed Amir (Egypt), and is now with Kubanychbek, widely regarded as the number one fighter from Kyrgyzstan.
On December 5, he will have a golden opportunity to break one of the biggest curses in MMA today. In front of him, lies a former victim of the curse, who’s now eager to keep it alive – Lucas ‘’Mineiro’’ is more determined than ever to regain the belt, and make history as the first-ever BRAVE CF two-time Lightweight champion of the world, and only one of two men to hold the same belt twice, after Jarrah Al-Silawi at Super Welterweight.
For Abdisalam Kubanychbek, this is a chance to stake his claim as the most feared man on the roster and keep his undefeated BRAVE CF record alive. A chance Omok is eager to take and has prepared his whole life to achieve – from the boogeyman of the Lightweight division to its king and destroyer of curses. On December 5, it’s all to play – and fight – for.
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