ROXANNE MODAFFERI VS NICCO MONTANO
What a Cinderella story it will be for either Roxanne Modafferi or Nicco Montano to walk away with the UFC women’s flyweight title in tonight’s main event. Modafferi as the beloved vet who finally has her chance to pick up UFC gold after a twist of fate landed her in this fight, and Montano as the underdog who fought the odds all season long to get here after she was pondering hanging up the gloves. Of course, they have to fight first, and Modafferi has to enter the bout as the favorite, but Montano has been taking down favorites from the start, so if there is a live underdog on this card, it’s her.
SEAN O’MALLEY VS TERRION WARE
After a spectacular showing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Sean O’Malley gets to bring the “Sugar Show” to an even wider audience when he makes his UFC debut against Terrion Ware. Ware is a veteran who acquitted himself well in his short-notice UFC debut against Cody Stamann, but O’Malley looks like he has the potential to do big things in the Octagon, and that all starts tonight.
LAUREN MURPHY VS BARB HONCHAK
The original matchup between Barb Honchak and Roxanne Modafferi was a good one, but when Modafferi got upgraded to a title fight and Lauren Murphy stepped in, I think this bout has Fight of the Night potential. A favorite to win TUF 26, Honchak got upset by Montano, but with the show and a full camp behind her, the former Invicta FC champ should be in prime form against the gritty Murphy, another former Invicta titleholder determined to get a new start in the UFC as a flyweight.
ERIC SPICELY VS GERALD MEERSCHAERT
A strong Fight of the Night candidate takes place at 185 pounds, with submission specialists Eric Spicely and Gerald Meerschaert locking horns. You might say the two are evenly matched on the ground and that’s not far off the mark offensively, but defensively, Meerschaert’s willingness to take risks leaves him open for subs himself, and capitalizing on mistakes is where Spicely shines.
DEANNA BENNETT VS MELINDA FABIAN
Good friends on and off TUF 26, Bennett and Fabian will have to put that friendship aside for 15 minutes or less tonight, and after a full camp with Mark Henry and the gang in New Jersey, Bennett is coming in well prepared to make a statement that she’s back in her natural weight class and ready for the best in the world.
JOE SOTO VS BRETT JOHNS
A top prospect at 135 pounds, Brett Johns has been workmanlike in winning his first two UFC bouts against Kwan Ho Kwak and Albert Morales. That’s good, because Joe Soto is going to force him to put his hard hat on once again. Showing the best form of his UFC career with three consecutive wins, Soto is the truth machine who will find out whether the unbeaten Welshman is ready for prime time.
CHRISTINA MARKS VS MONTANA DE LA ROSA
Into the world of striker vs grappler we go, and the game plans for Marks and De La Rosa should be simple – Marks needs to keep it standing and De La Rosa needs to get it to the mat. Wherever it stays, that’s likely going to let you know who wins.
ANDREW SANCHEZ VS RYAN JANES
Interesting bout in the middleweight division between Sanchez and Janes. Former TUF winner Sanchez is coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Smith, so he’ll be hungry to pick up a win by any means necessary, even if that means swarming Janes and keeping him grounded for three rounds. But after an 0-2 start to his UFC career, Janes will be just as hungry, if not more so, so expect to see him show off some of the tricks he learned with the Roufusport gang to keep it standing.
KARINE GEVORGYAN VS RACHAEL OSTOVICH
Weight issues plagued Armenia’s Karine Gevorgyan and cost her 30 percent of her paycheck for tonight’s bout against veteran Rachael Ostovich, which means she’s going to be more determined than ever to make sure she leaves with a win bonus. But Ostovich, who impressed on TUF 26, may have too much experience everywhere the fight goes to let Gevorgyan sneak in and score the upset.
ARIEL BECK VS SHANA DOBSON
Close one to call between TUF 26’s Beck and Dobson. Dobson is a raw talent who may wind up making noise in the Octagon once she gets more experience, and this fight against Beck will be a good barometer of how much more seasoning she needs.
GILLIAN ROBERTSON VS EMILY WHITMIRE
TUF 26 flyweights Robertson and Whitmire open the show in Las Vegas, and while Whitmire is the more experienced of the two, when the bout hits the mat, Robertson can give anyone fits, and getting it to the ground has to be the game plan for “The Savage.”