There’s history to be made, scores to be settled, and action all around as Rogers Place gets set to hold the latest UFC pay-per-view this weekend. With two titles on the line and plenty of marquee names on the card, it’s time to breakdown what fights we think are bound to shake the room at UFC 215.
3 - Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez
Any fight fan that tunes into UFC for a good old-fashioned brawl will be hard pressed to miss this fight come Saturday. Former lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez is coming back from a string of losses to Edson Barboza and Eddie Alvarez at 155, so the change of scenery at featherweight will be a new test for the seasoned veteran. But life at 145 won't be any easier for 'El Nino' as he faces yet another lethal finisher in Jeremy Stephens
For all the memes and mockery that has followed the career of 'Lil Heathen' Stephens as of late, there is no denying his ability in the octagon as a true knockout artist. After a less than stellar run at featherweight so far, boasting a 3-5 record, albeit against top tier competition, the pressure will be on Stephens to show up and put on another highlight reel performance to keep his name in the running. And as Melendez gets set to make 'history' in the octagon this weekend, we can be sure to keep an eye on the action as these two opponents get set for war.
2 - Neil Magny vs Rafael Dos Anjos
As previously mentioned in the 'Top 10 fights of 2017' list, Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos has all the makings of a 'Fight of the Night' calibre match up. All of the size and strength questions regarding Dos Anjos at welterweight will sure to be answered this weekend as he faces a formidable welterweight standout in Magny. For Dos Anjos, this will be a continued step in the right direction as he looks to capitalise on his latest win against Tarec Saffiedine earlier this year, and further justify his move to welterweight as Magny looks to do the same after his dominant performance against Johny Hendricks this past year.
Styles make fights, and that phrase couldn't be more applicable for this bout. Both Dos Anjos and Magny excel in the same areas with their high volume of striking, slick grappling and elite jiujitsu. This matchup of strengths, as well as their shared weaknesses, will beg many questions as to who exactly will reign victorious on fight night.
1 - Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg
Few fighters in any era of MMA can tout the same kind of success that Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson has enjoyed in his UFC career. To this day, he is the UFC's sole owner of the flyweight belt since its inception back in September of 2012. Now, five years on from the first time he strapped on that gold around his waist, he finds himself on the brink of history this weekend as he is just one title defence away from breaking Anderson Silva's record of 10 defences. 'Mighty Mouse' has demonstrated his ability time and time again by taking out number one contender Joseph Benavidez on multiple occasions and laying waste to the entire upper half of the flyweight division. With a win this weekend, DJ will further solidify his legacy as the greatest flyweight of all time. Before he can think about breaking history, he has to get through yet another contender working tirelessly to crack the code on what makes Demetrious Johnson the pound-for-pound king of the UFC.
Many hardcore fans scoffed at the announcement of Johnson's 11th defence against Ray Borg, but the negative backlash has been fuel for an upset for 'The Tazmexican Devil,' as he gears toward 'shocking the world' this weekend in Edmonton. The Jackson-Wink product has been developing at a rapid rate since his debut four years ago, and after two impressive wins over names like Jussier Da Silva and Louis Smolka, Borg became the next logical opponent for Johnson to face in the octagon. Borg's instinctual ability in the cage to strike and move and win scrambles with ease has been a hallmark of his success in recent fights. With the constant pressure that DJ will be exerting to make Borg slip, the ability to punish those openings will be the exact kind of moment that the Jackson-Wink camp will be looking for, to truly shock the world and possibly crown a new champion for the illustrious camp. Regardless of gameplan, it will take more than one or two lucky moments to take out 'Mighty Mouse' at his game. The arsenal of skills and relentless pace DJ possesses has been the difference maker in all of his bouts thus far, but Borg's belief in turning that tide will be an element to look out for as fight day draws near.
Obviously, the rematch between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko will be a huge talking point of the night, but given the build-up and lack of execution for the last scheduled bout at UFC 213, and the fact that these two entities have fought before, make the outcome a little more predictable. With that said, it will be interesting to see the adjustments made by Shevchenko as she looks to dismantle the 'Lioness' over the course of five rounds.
Gavin Tucker, Henry Cejudo, and Ilir Latifi are all important names to keep an eye out for as they face their opposition this weekend. Tucker will yet again be the hometown hero in his native state of Canada, after enjoying a co-main event victory over Sam Sicilia in Halifax this year. Tucker's return to the octagon will beckon all the attention to the former musician turned fighter as he looks for a finish in Edmonton.
Cejudo will be looking to redeem his past two losses to the elite competition at flyweight with a tough bout against former title contender Wilson Reis. With a dominant win and some smooth talking on the mic, he can be sure to put his neck out there for a title rematch if the stars align.
After a disappointing loss to Ryan Bader in Hamburg last year, Latifi is coming back from some well-deserved time off as he looks to regain some steam at light heavyweight. The Swedish international has been an impressive force at 205 but will have a tough test in front of him against the undefeated Aussie Tyson Pedro.
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