The plethora of UFC holiday riches continues this Saturday on FOX with yet another stacked card headlined by Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The penultimate UFC event of 2017 will go down in the capital city of Manitoba, Canada, and while the temperatures outside are crisp and frosty, there are plenty of fighters in town bringing some heat.
Here are the reasons to watch Fight Night Winnipeg.
More ruthlessness from Robbie Lawler
Simply stated, Robbie Lawler fights are never dull. With his signature stand-and-bang style that almost never goes to the mat, both his wins and losses are a product of fealessly marching downhill on his opponents. His left hooks border on lethal, and unlike too many others, Lawler goes to work when his opponents are against the fence. A former champ in the division, the southpaw seems to be fighting with an extra fire in his belly since losing the belt, which is unenviable to anyone standing across The Octagon from him.
Rafael Dos Anjos cruising at welterweight
Lawler's brawn is only half the reason this is an excellent main card matchup. Rafael Dos Anjos brings the ferocity that made him a former lightweight champion to the welterweight division, where the increase in weight obviously suits him. Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny were on the losing end of his return to form, and he looks to the fight with Lawler (a bout he has wanted for ages) as his ticket to another title shot. He attributes the move to 170 for his resurgence. As he recently told Tom Gerbasi: "I can have a normal life, I can enjoy my life and my training and put a hundred percent of the work into my technique and training and not just losing weight and being stressed out." Dos Anjos even more focused on his technique? Look out.
When a finish is almost a certainty
Just a quick glance at the Winnipeg card would reveal an glaring frontrunner for Fight of the Night with the main card matchup between Mike Perry vs Santiago Ponzinibbio. Perry's 11 MMA wins were all by finish, and he has a particular skill for sustaining damage while he's busy dishing it out with a brutal, mayhemic style. One person unconcerned with Perry's record or hype is Santiago Ponzinibbio. The Argentinian is riding a five fight win streak of his own, most recently shutting off Gunnar Nelson's lights in Glasgow back in July. Ponzinibbio shares Perry's thirst for the finsih, and regardless of who wins this one, an early stoppage is a virtual lock.
The UFC debut of "The Cuban Missle Crisis"
Julian Marquez's head kick KO of Phillip Hawes brought Dana White to his feet and immediately went viral following his bout in the first season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series. Without hyperbole, it was one of the most devastating head kicks in the history of the sport, and it capped off a dominant performance that earned him a UFC contract. What shouldn't be forgotten in the excitement of that moment is that Marquez immediately dropped to his knees, and waitied until Hawes regained consciousness and was safely on his feet before any kind of celebration. It was a stirring show of respect central to martial artists.
Light heavyweights with the future on the line
There's no particular shame in losing to a stud like Volkan Oezdemir, it happens to a lot of guys. But the single punch that sent Misha Cirkunov to the canvas just :28 seconds into the first round of their bout felt enough like an anomaly that it continues to frustrate the Latvian native. He had controlled the fight until that moment, just as he had in his previous eight consecutive wins. He looks to channel that frustration into a return to the win column against veteran Glover Teixeira, a fighter also busy trying to wash away the taste of frustration following a KO from Alexander Gustafsson.
Steve Latrell is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TheUFSteve