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UFC 215 - Fight by Fight Preview

 

DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON VS RAY BORG
Saturday’s UFC 215 card is filled with intriguing matchups, but if you had to give a buddy one reason to tune in, it’s this: history. Whether Demetrious Johnson makes it or Ray Borg breaks it, something special is going to happen in Edmonton. Of course, any chance to see “Mighty Mouse” in action is an opportunity to be reminded why you’re an MMA fan, but now he’s on the verge of setting a new record for championship excellence while a hungry challenger attempts to shock the world and start his own reign. This can turn into edge of your seat stuff in rapid-fire fashion considering everything that’s on the line here.


AMANDA NUNES VS VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO
Round four. It’s the question everybody has about the first meeting between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko in March 2016. If there was a fourth round, would Shevchenko continue to surge ahead and finish Nunes, or would “The Lioness” get her second wind and build off her early lead? We’ll never know, but with both fighters getting better since that first meeting while building a nice rivalry, the one guarantee is that this championship rematch will determine once and for all who the better bantamweight is.

NEIL MAGNY VS RAFAEL DOS ANJOS
With the revelation that Rafael Dos Anjos was willing to face UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley earlier this summer if Demian Maia didn’t take the shot at the crown, it speaks volumes about where RDA is at this point of his career. He’s clearly not here for the paychecks or to make up the numbers, but to actively pursue becoming a champion again. That means we will see his best against the criminally underrated Neil Magny. And while we’ve been describing Magny as such for years, with a win over Dos Anjos, maybe he will start getting his just due.

ILIR LATIFI VS TYSON PEDRO
Unbeaten Aussie phenom Tyson Pedro gets a big step-up fight against Sweden’s Ilir Latifi, and this one isn’t likely to go the distance. Pedro has seemingly got it all in the Octagon, but Latifi wasn’t dubbed the “Sledgehammer” for his construction skills. It’s more for his destruction skills, and he can turn Pedro from prospect to suspect with one punch.


JEREMY STEPHENS VS GILBERT MELENDEZ
Bless the matchmaking firm of Shelby & Maynard for putting this one together, because not only is it a great action fight, but it lets us know where Gilbert Melendez is in his career as he returns to the featherweight division after three losses at 155 pounds. If Gil is in “El Nino” form, we’re going to see a vintage performance from him against an opponent who will not be hard to find. If he’s slipped, then Stephens is the kind of guy who will find that out almost immediately. A bonus check (or two) should be produced by this fight.

SARA MCMANN VS KETLEN VIEIRA
Brazil’s Ketlen Vieira is unbeaten with two UFC wins under her belt, but it would be hard to pick anyone to beat Sara McMann based on the former Olympian’s recent form in which she’s beaten Jessica Eye, Alexis Davis and Gina Mazany. Plus, she’s recently been training with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, which can only help her elevate her game to the point where another big win puts her in the discussion for the winner of Saturday’s co-main event.

HENRY CEJUDO VS WILSON REIS
One of the most intriguing matchups this weekend pits two former world title challengers against each other, with Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis both intent on making a statement on the same card in which Johnson and Borg battle it out for the 125-pound crown. Cejudo looked better than ever in his close decision loss to Joseph Benavidez, so it will be interesting to see how his game has evolved since then, but Reis is always dangerous and always able to sneak up on an opponent and leave them with a loss before they even know what happened. Good fight right here.
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SARAH MORAS VS ASHLEE EVANS-SMITH
Former TUF competitor Sarah Moras returns from a long layoff to face Ashlee Evans-Smith this weekend, and Moras has the talent to give anyone in the bantamweight division trouble. But Evans-Smith has been staying active, and in an evenly matched fight, the one who can keep pushing for 15 minutes usually gets the nod, and that should be the Californian.

GAVIN TUCKER VS RICK GLENN
Gavin Tucker seemingly came out of nowhere to score a big win over Sam Sicilia earlier this year, and while he’s back in his home country for his second UFC bout, he will get an even tougher challenge in Rick Glenn, another newly-minted member of the Team Alpha Male squad who is primed for battle with no qualms about playing the bad guy and beating Tucker in Canada.

MITCH CLARKE VS ALEX WHITE
Alex White and Mitch Clarke have both displayed moments of brilliance in the Octagon over the last couple years, but to stay in the mix in a tough lightweight division, they have to put it all together on Saturday night and then carry that momentum into a long winning streak. The potential is there, but now’s the time to fulfill it.

LUIS HENRIQUE VS ARJAN BHULLAR
A member of the 2012 Canadian Olympic team in freestyle wrestling, Arjan Bhullar comes to the UFC with an unbeaten record and plenty of pressure on his shoulders to succeed not just for himself, but for the millions of Indian fans supporting him. In talking to him, he seems like he’s up for that challenge, and he’ll need to be, as he’s in tough with 24-year-old heavyweight prospect Luis Henrique, who has shown flashes of the talent that should have discerning fight fans looking past his current 2-2 UFC slate.

KAJAN JOHNSON VS ADRIANO MARTINS
It’s been almost two years since the last time we saw Kajan Johnson in action, so as a quick primer, “Ragin’ Kajan” is a TUF Nations veteran who has won two in a row in the Octagon after a debut loss to Tae Hyun Bang that still earned him Fight of the Night honors, and he always shows up looking for a fight. In Adriano Martins, he meets another fighter plagued by inactivity, as he’s only fought three times in the last 31 months. So could ring rust be an issue? Yes. But odds are that when the fists start flying, these two will remember what got them to the dance in the first place.

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