The UFC heads to the PNC Arena in North Carolina this weekend, where the heavyweight clash between Curtis Blaydes and Junior dos Santos takes centre stage.
The pair have both taken down big names in previous years, with the Blaydes’ biggest win coming against Alistair Overeem, back in 2018. Meanwhile, the Brazilian veteran made light work of title contender Derrick Lewis of March last year, so the two are no strangers to being underdogs. This matchup is sure to be a slug-fest, with both men winning 2 out of their last 4 contests by KO/TKO. Dos Santos is known for his longevity and being able to produce late on within fights, so it’s a case of who will deliver the biggest blow first. With his impressive 12-2 record in the octagon, I’m backing “Razor” to make it 13 wins with a TKO finish of his counterpart. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the two fighters taking it easy the first couple of rounds, just to get a feel for one another. But be sure to see some fireworks in round 3 onwards.
The co-main event provides viewers with a tasty competition, as Welterweights Rafael dos Anjos and Michael Chiesa make their long-anticipated returns to the octagon. Both men last entered the cage back in July 2019, with the Brazilian falling short against Leon Edwards, whereas the American Chiesa came out on top in a decision victory against Diego Sanchez. Both fighters are technically great on the floor, but dos Anjos likes to keep the pace up, so be sure to see him walking his opponent down. In the past, we have seen Chiesa tire out in the latter rounds of fights, so I think this matchup is best suited to the Brazilian. I’m not sure on the sort of stoppage he will produce, so for him to win the fight outright seems a safe bet.
Flyweight prospects Alex Perez and Jordan Espinoza lock horns in what should be a tight affair. With both fighters making appearances on Dana White’s Tuesday night contender series, we are bound to witness an entertaining special, as we know the boss is only into fights that catch the eye. Perez edges it for me, despite not having the best striking game, his fast pace style will hopefully set up a few takedowns for him to capitalise on. With both men having well-rounded submission games, this fight will surely be taken to the ground.
Hannah Cifers makes her return to the octagon, in a Strawweight matchup against Angela Hill. For me, there’s only one outcome. Cifers has shown she can drain her opponents over 3 rounds, where her last two performances produced comfortable decision victories. Despite having the height and reach advantage, I believe that Hill will not be able to keep up with the movement and combinations produced by ‘Shockwave’ Cifers.
The first fight on the main card sees Jamahal ‘Sweet Dreams’ Hill make his UFC debut, after an impressive 6-0 start to his professional career. Where the American takes on Darko Stosic. The Serbian is on a two-fight losing streak and doesn’t seem to be living up to the expectations set for him in the Light Heavyweight division. I’m hoping to see Hill start off his UFC career with an emphatic TKO win, against an out of form fighter who needs this win desperately to state relevant, otherwise his career inside the UFC octagon will be cut short. This makes the matchup one to watch out for, as both men will be hungry for victory on Sunday morning.