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Fights To Watch Before UFC Phoenix

Look Back At Eight Stand-Out Fights From The Stars Of UFC Phoenix

If you're a fan of big-time finishes and exciting fights then UFC Phoenix is the card for you.

Former UFC heavyweight champion and Cain Velasquez makes his return to the Octagon against one of the most thrilling fighters in the division, Francis Ngannou. In addition, James Vick and Paul Felder meet in what is sure to be an explosive co-main event.

There are plenty of other impressive fighters and exciting match-ups throughout the entire card. Get ready for UFC Phoenix by watching the past performances of some of the card’s biggest stars and top prospects. Here’s the collection of fights to watch before the action begins in Arizona: https://www.ufc.tv/category/ufc-phoenix-fights-to-watch

Francis Ngannou vs Alistair Overeem
UFC 218 – December 2nd, 2017
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 2: Francis Ngannou (R) punches Alistair Overeem during the UFC 218 event at Little Caesars Arena on December 2, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 2: Francis Ngannou (R) punches Alistair Overeem during the UFC 218 event at Little Caesars Arena on December 2, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

On the path to UFC 218 Ngannou put together a streak of five straight emphatic finishes, quickly established himself as one of the most explosive and dangerous fighters on the planet. In Overeem, “The Predator” faced his toughest challenge yet and would go on to deliver the signature moment of his career so far.

Cain Velasquez vs Travis Browne
UFC 200 – July 9th, 2016
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 09: An overhead view of the Octagon as Cain Velasquez kicks Travis Browne during the UFC 200 event on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 09: An overhead view of the Octagon as Cain Velasquez kicks Travis Browne during the UFC 200 event on July 9, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After a disappointing showing at UFC 188, Velasquez looked to bounce back in a big way against Browne. The fans did not have to wait long to see the legend return to form, as Velasquez reminded the world that he is one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time.

James Vick vs Francisco Trinaldo
UFC Fight Night 126 – February 18th, 2018
AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 18: James Vick (R) lands a head kick against Francisco Trinaldo of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Frank Erwin Center on February 18, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 18: James Vick (R) lands a head kick against Francisco Trinaldo of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Frank Erwin Center on February 18, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa L

With three straight impressive finishes, Vick made his way into the lightweight rankings. Awaiting him was a top-15 match-up with Trinaldo. “The Texecutioner” made the most of the opportunity by using his dynamic stand-up game and toughness to earn a win over the resilient Trinaldo.

Paul Felder vs Charles Oliveira
UFC 218 – December 2nd, 2017
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: (L-R) Paul Felder punches Charles Oliveira of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC 218 event inside Little Caesars Arena on December 02, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: (L-R) Paul Felder punches Charles Oliveira of Brazil in their lightweight bout during the UFC 218 event inside Little Caesars Arena on December 02, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty I

Back-to-back victories over Alex Ricci and Stevie Ray earned Felder a showdown with submission specialist Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira at UFC 218. Felder was able to avoid falling victim to the slick ground game of Oliveira and get a big win.

Aljamain Sterling vs Cody Stamann
UFC 228 – September 8th, 2018
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Aljamain Sterling kicks Cody Stamann in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 228 event at American Airlines Center on September 8, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Aljamain Sterling kicks Cody Stamann in their bantamweight fight during the UFC 228 event at American Airlines Center on September 8, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sterling and Stamann talked a big game in the lead-up to UFC 228. But if was Sterling that followed through on fight night. Sterling completed an incredible knee-bar submission, just the second time the submission has been completed from back mount in UFC history.

Jimmie Rivera vs Uriah Faber
UFC 203 – September 10th, 2016
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: (R-L) Jimmie Rivera punches Urijah Faber in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 203 event at Quicken Loans Arena on September 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: (R-L) Jimmie Rivera punches Urijah Faber in their bantamweight bout during the UFC 203 event at Quicken Loans Arena on September 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Making the jump from prospect to contender is never easy. For Jimmie Rivera, it was a fight against the legendary Faber that offered him that chance. And Rivera made the most of his opportunity, earning the biggest victory of his career.

Vicente Luque vs Jalin Turner
UFC 229 – October 6th, 2018

Luque continued his rise in the welterweight division by submitting Niko Price and finishing Chad Laprise. But it was Luque’s devastating knockout of last minute opponent Jalin Turner that put an exclamation on his great year.

Bryan Barberena vs Jake Ellenberger
UFC Fight Night 125 – August 25th, 2018
LINCOLN, NE - AUGUST 25: (R-L) Bryan Barberena punches Jake Ellenberger in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pinnacle Bank Arena on August 25, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NE - AUGUST 25: (R-L) Bryan Barberena punches Jake Ellenberger in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pinnacle Bank Arena on August 25, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Coming off a decision loss against the surging Leon Edwards, Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena made the trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on hometown hero Jake Ellenberger. The welterweight prospect took care of business putting himself in the limelight and sending Ellenberger into retirement.

Watch the full UFC Phoenix collection on UFC Fight Pass: https://www.ufc.tv/category/ufc-phoenix-fights-to-watch

The UFC Phoenix early prelims begin at 5:30pm/2:30pm ETPT on ESPN+, followed by the UFC Phoenix prelims on ESPN at 7pm/4pm ETPT.

The UFC Phoenix main card will air live on ESPN at 9pm/6pm ETPT.

Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews