On Saturday September 9, the UFC returns to Edmonton with an exhilarating line up of fights. Headlining the card is pound-for-pound king Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson and top flyweight contender Ray Borg, while the highly anticipated rematch between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko takes the co-main slot. Other eye-catching matchups include Rafael dos Anjos’ second fight at welterweight when he faces off with Neil Magny while Gilbert Melendez’s will make his featherweight debut against Jeremy Stephens. But before you sit down to enjoy this weekend’s stacked card, here are five fights that you must watch to get yourself excited.
Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez
No matter how avid a fan you are, there is a greater chance than not that if you have heard of mixed martial arts, you have seen this fight. In just his second fight in the UFC, Melendez entered UFC 166 with a target on his back. The man who wished to eliminate the former Strikeforce champion from the lightweight title picture was veteran Diego Sanchez. What ensued was one of the greatest brawls in UFC history, with both men planting their feet on the canvas, biting down on their gum shields and putting on an enthralling war of attrition for the fans. The fight needs little explanation – it is a prime example of why this sport is the greatest live entertainment available in the world today, and why ‘El Nino’ is a fan-favorite amongst the MMA community.
Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko 1
Taking place at UFC 196 in March of 2016, this bantamweight showdown taught us the meaning of ‘a game of two halves.’ However, this fight was more of a tale of two-thirds, as current champion Nunes dominated the early proceedings, taking the first two rounds in a display of her dominance at 135 pounds. However, history repeated itself late on, as Shevchenko rallied a comeback and put the pressure on Nunes. The fight was action packed from start to finish, with swings in momentum and plenty of exciting moments. The Brazilian took home the victory that night, but the contest was far closer than she would have wanted. Considering these two women are to rematch for the world bantamweight championship on Saturday, this is a fight well worth watching again to remind yourself what the pair are capable of inside of the octagon.
Jeremy Stephens vs Dennis Bermudez
If you have never seen Stephens fight, then this is the perfect introduction. UFC 189 was host to many unbelievable fights, but it is difficult to talk about the event without mentioning this ferocious battle. Both desperate to elevate their careers and rise to the highest level, Stephens and Dennis Bermudez entered the cage on July 11th of 2015 with bad intentions weighing heavily on their minds. The fight ended up being of the best in the UFC featherweight division’s short history, with the pair coming within inches of earning knockouts throughout the fight. Stephens was the one who would achieve this, as he knocked out his fellow American with a flying knee to cap off an exhilarating performance that left viewers on the edge of their seats. When you see that Stephens is next up on the card this weekend, it will be time to get truly excited. His fights are always entertaining, and Saturday night will be no different.
Demetrious Johnson vs John Dodson
While you wait for ‘Mighty Mouse’ to appear and work his magic at UFC 215, make sure to go back and analyse his earlier fights. This is one that took place in 2013 and was one that was later brought back to a rematch due to the original’s excitement. In a close fight, Johnson came out on top in spite of the fact that he was knocked down twice early on. The contest showed us that DJ has the heart and resilience of a champion, and it showcased his other-worldly combat skills. Being granted Fight of the Night honors, there is no denying that these two put on one of the greatest flyweight bouts of all time. It proved to us that the current pound-for-pound number one is, in fact, capable of being finished at any moment, which is an interesting thought to carry into Saturday, whether you can imagine it happening or not.
Rafael dos Anjos vs Anthony Pettis
When you realize that Dos Anjos competed in this fight with a torn MCL, you will be even more amazed at the Brazilian’s showing, which earned him a Performance of the Night accolade at the UFC 185 event in Dallas, Texas. This fight is a must-watch for those who underestimate RDA’s capabilities. For 25 minutes, the former lightweight champion comprehensively shut down the offense of the highly dangerous striker Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. He showcased his extraordinary grappling throughout and used vastly improved standup skills to win every round in this championship bout. Coming in against a taller man in Magny this Saturday, one could look to this fight for evidence on how Dos Anjos will approach his next welterweight bout. It may also convince you that, with a win, he may be the next deserving title challenger at 170 pounds in the UFC.
Each of these five fights are extremely entertaining and provide compelling insights into the showdowns that we can expect to see this weekend in Edmonton. But for those of you still on the fence over whether or not you will purchase this pay-per-view; Saturday night’s card is packed with intriguing matchups and is sure to provide bloodbaths from top to bottom. The eagerly awaited rematch between Nunes and Shevchenko is destined to be a fight to remember. Whatever type of fan you are, there is something on this card for you.
You can find David’s personal predictions on his Twitter page
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