On Saturday night the UFC roadshow will wind its way back to the mile-high city that is Denver, Colorado. With UFC 150, Henderson v Edgar II, being the last occasion that the UFC machine rolled into town, Saturday’s Fight Night event at the Pepsi Center features an interesting main card.
Valentina Schevchenko (13-2) #1 v Julianna Pena (9-2) #2
The main event sees the number 1 and 2 ranked Bantamweights clash, with the winner inevitably taking on Amanda Nunes next. Number 1 ranked Schevchenko would relish the chance of another meeting with Nunes following her unanimous points defeat at UFC196 last year.
Pena on the other hand comes in to this fight on a 4 win streak dating back to 2013. Victory for Pena would mean another potential champion prospect in the ever changing world of the Bantamweight division. However, with Amanda Nunes convincingly defending her title against Ronda Rousey, the landscape is starting to settle in the division. Beating Schevchenko would be an achievement. Beating Nunes would be a career defining achievement, and one that would catapult either fighter into the limelight.
Donald Cerrone (32-7) #5 v Jorge Masvidal (31-11) #12
As fights go, Cerrone vs Masvidal is one that will have the full attention of MMA and fight fans. With a combined 63 fights between them, Cowboy and Gamebred are two born fighters with a bag load of experience.
Cerrone comes into this fight on the back of a sensational head kick KO over Matt Brown at UFC206 and is currently on the best run of his career. With one defeat (to RDA at UFC Fight Night: Indianapolis in 2013) in his previous 13, Cerrone will be a worthy opponent for the winner of Woodley v Wonderboy II. However, in Jorge Masvidal, Cowboy faces a tough test.
With a street fighting background from an early age, 32 year old Masvidal has been fighting professionally in MMA since 2003 and comes into this fight following his bizarre victory over Jake Ellenburger at TUF Finale in December last year.
As with most fighters motivation isn’t an issue but for Masvidal, the thought of beating Cerrone is all that is on his mind. In a recent interview on the UFC: Unfiltered podcast, Masvidal said “I want to hurt him on a personal level” due to having two agreed fights taken away from him and given to Cerrone.
Whether this is true or not, this one should be one hell of a battle, a battle that under circumstances should be missed.
Andrei Arlovski (25-13) #7 v Francis Ngannou (9-1) #11
Staying on the experienced fighter theme, Belarusian heavyweight Andrei Arlovski faces a pivotal fight in his UFC career when taking on the Predator that is Francis Ngannou. With defeats to Josh Barnett, Alistair Overeem and current heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic, in his last three fights, Arlovski will surely have to settle for nothing less than a win against the 30 year old Frenchman.
In contrast, Ngannou will arrive in the octagon full of confidence and vigour as he looks to continue his unbeaten run in the UFC. With 3 KO/TKOs and a submission under his belt, the heavy hitting Ngannou will see this fight as a stepping stone in his progression up the heavyweight rankings.
Alex Caceres (12-9) v Jason Knight (18-2)
First up on the main card is the featherweight clash between the unranked Alex Caceres and Jason Knight. With neither fighter known for their striking, this could be one for the submission and grappling fans.
With his unpredictable and unorthodox style, Caceres is back in action for the first time since the Fight of the Night with Yair Rodríguez back in August last year. Fighting for the UFC since early 2011, Caceres is certainly an entertaining fighter but will face a durable opponent in 24 year old Jason ‘The Kid’ Knight.
In what will be his 4th fight in the UFC, Knight has gone the distance in all 3 of his previous fights (2 wins and 1 defeat). How he copes with the exuberance of Caceres is the big question but should this one go the distance, I can’t see many shaking their heads in disbelief.