Ranking the fights at UFC 275: Can Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk deliver once again?


We frequently hear fighters say that it is the punch you do not see coming that knocks you out. It is smart. Fighters practice for months forward of a bout to tune up their abilities and put together for his or her opponent’s tendencies. So when one thing sudden comes flying in, it may be a stunner.

Followers expertise a pain-free equal of that on combat nights, at any time when expectations are upended. Fights assured to be slugfests play out as Viennese waltzes. Unsung early prelims steal the highlight. Moments that knock us out, metaphorically talking, can come anytime within the night, not simply when the headliners take the stage.

So, what are we in for on Saturday? The marquee for UFC 275 (Saturday, 10 p.m. on ESPN+ PPV) options two title fights. One pits a strong, resilient champion in opposition to a artistic power on an irresistable rise, and the opposite showcases maybe probably the most dominant champ in blended martial arts. And simply earlier than these showstoppers for gold is a extremely anticipated rematch of the 2020 combat of the yr.

Past that? There aren’t a whole lot of recognizable names in the remainder of the lineup for Saturday in Singapore, making it tempting to belittle this as a three-card card. However the savvy amongst us know higher. You’ll be able to by no means low cost the likelihood {that a} pair of “who’re they?” fighters would be the ones offering the weekend’s viral KO or breathtaking throwdown.

Here is a rating of the highest fights at UFC 275, from the apparent to the obscure.

Three must-see fights that you simply’re unlikely to overlook

1. Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka

Teixeira is 42 years outdated, and final October he turned the UFC’s oldest first-time champion. It occurred for him on his second strive, eight years and 15 fights after the primary time he went for gentle heavyweight gold. In 2014, Teixeira carried a 20-fight profitable streak into his large shot, however Jon Jones outclassed him. Sitting cageside in Baltimore that night time, I keep in mind considering Teixeira had reached his ceiling. He was a troublesome man who, it appeared, was merely not champion materials.

1 Associated

That was a merciless perspective on one of many sport’s good guys, however my opinion was buoyed by the a number of years of ups and downs that adopted for Teixeira. Then, round three years in the past, issues began wanting up, up and up. That Teixeira’s twisty plot line finally carried him to 6 straight wins and a late-career championship solely added to the feel-good plotline of the person’s inspiring narrative.

Teixeira’s first title protection comes in opposition to the flip aspect of his document (he is sufficiently old to get that out of date reference). Whereas the burly Brazilian is powerful and expert, with a floor sport to be feared, Prochazka is wiry and fluid, a menace at each second the combat is standing. However their distinction runs deeper than that. Teixeira is meat and potatoes, getting the job performed with brawny effectivity. Prochazka is adventurously artistic delicacies, his in-the-moment fury typically veering into recklessness. The 29-year-old Czech, competing in simply his third UFC bout, might swamp Teixeira or be drowned by his personal ill-advised slipup.

2. Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

I am not going to disclaim that there was a robust urge to rank this one on the high, above each title bouts. In any case, we have seen what these two ladies are able to once they dance collectively. It is probably the most violent mosh pit ever. However I will violate the Thrilla in Manila Rule right here and make the unsteady presumption that the sequel will not upstage the unique. I imply, of their 2020 assembly, each Zhang, then the strawweight champ, and ex-champ Jedrzejczyk landed almost 200 strikes apiece in an unrelenting back-and-forth basic gained by Zhang by break up resolution. That is quite a bit to dwell as much as.

The enchantment of this rematch has been not too long ago ramped up considerably, although, due to Carla Esparza. Previous to Esparza upsetting Rose Namajunas final month to yank away the title, this combat was to be a gathering of two fighters in limbo. Each Zhang and Jedrzejczyk misplaced twice to Namajunas and, even with a masterful win on Saturday, would have been a tough promote as a title challenger. Now, with “Thug Rose” having been got rid of the highest of the mountain, this seems to be a transparent No. 1 contender showdown. That is what boosts it above the co-main occasion title bout in my e-book. And late Saturday night time we’d all be shaking our heads in amazement that these ladies have produced one other combat of the yr candidate.

3. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos

A small voice inside tells me to not hassle being attentive to yet one more overmatched challenger making a futile try and wrest the flyweight title away from Shevchenko. And after I hear that voice, I whisper again two phrases: “Julianna Peña.” In December, she was seen as having no probability to place up a aggressive combat in opposition to Amanda Nunes, the GOAT of girls’s MMA. After which there was Peña choking out the champ and strolling away with the bantamweight belt.

Can Santos pull off a equally unlikely feat? She’s 19-1, only a break up resolution in her 2019 UFC debut away from proudly owning an ideal document. And Shevchenko is 34 and has to decelerate in some unspecified time in the future, proper? However relatively than attempt to persuade myself that this would be the night time when the explosive “Bullet” will flip right into a clean, perhaps I am higher off merely acknowledging that I will be watching simjply as a result of I am hooked on witnessing greatness. It was a pleasure to observe Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Demetrious Johnson and Georges St-Pierre rule their weight courses for years. A Shevchenko win would give her probably the most UFC title defenses of any girl, breaking a tie with Ronda Rousey. Why not watch historical past within the making?

Three under-the-radar fights to not lose sight of

4. Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape

Thirty-four months. That’s how way back it was that Bontorin final gained a combat. Since then, he has misplaced three and seen what would have been a victory get overturned to no contest due to a drug check failure. However these most up-to-date 4 fights have been in opposition to the metal of the 125-pound division, together with a former champion. Consequently, Bontorin continues to be within the ESPN flyweight rankings. Kape is a reliable opponent however perhaps a step down from what Bontorin has confronted recently, so he’ll function a measuring stick for the way good Bontorin is true now. The cageside judges can take a espresso break throughout this one, as 16 of Kape’s 17 wins have been by end, and Bontorin has 14 finishes amongst his 17 wins.

5. Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews

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This shall be Fialho’s eighth combat within the 16 months for the reason that starting of 2021. He has gained all however one of many seven to this point, and each victory got here by end. The person is on a run. Can he maintain it going in opposition to Matthews, who was on his personal run of success not way back? Earlier than shedding to undefeated Sean Brady in March, Matthews had gained six of seven. This can be a assembly of welterweights who’re used to getting their arms raised and know easy methods to make it occur.

6. Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev

That is the principle card opener, making the pay-per-view portion of the night 5-for-5 in making these rankings. Della Maddalena has not misplaced in six years. Since dropping the primary two fights of his profession in 2016, the Aussie has reeled off 11 straight wins, all however one by end. Emeev, winner of 9 of his previous 11 fights, ought to present a stiff check — and an entertaining kickoff to the principle card.

The total UFC 275 combat card:

ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET

ESPN2/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET

ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET

(c) = defending champion

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