Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 42.
UFC On ESPN+ 42
Date: February 6, 2021
Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+
Heavyweights: Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
Overall Records: Overeem 47-18 1 NC, Volkov 32-8
UFC Records: Overeem 12-7, Volkov 6-2
Last Fight: Overeem def. Sakai, R5 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 34 (9/5/20), Volkov def. Harris, R2 TKO, UFC 254 (10/24/20)
Last Five Fights: Overeem 4-1, Volkov 3-2
Rankings: Overeem #5, Volkov #6
Betting Odds: Overeem +155, Volkov -190
Preview: Overeem and Volkov will square off in the main event in a fight that many have been expecting to take place for several years, but now feels like an appropriate time for it to happen. Both men are right on the cusp of entering what is now a crowded title picture in the heavyweight division, with the winner inching closer, and the loser could find themselves completely out of the picture for a long time, and possibly ever.
Overeem has fought for the title once before, in a losing effort to Stipe Miocic in 2016, and every time he’s started to build momentum and get two wins put together, he’d lose. He’s now on his third separate two-fight win streak since that title fight, so a win here would be three straight and wins in five of his last six, and for a guy who is about to turn 41 and whose only goal is fighting for a title again, this is pretty much a must-win for him. Volkov looked on his way to fighting for the title when he started his UFC career off with four straight wins, but he’s gone just 2–2 over his last four, and another loss could mean the end of his dream of ever fighting for a UFC belt.
Both men have tons of experience, as they have a combined 106 professional fights between the two of them, so they’ve been around the block and seen just about everything to say the least. Both have twenty-plus knockout wins in their career, with Overeem having 25 and Volkov with 21, plus Overeem also has 17 wins by submission. Overeem has also been on the bad end of knockout losses 14 times, while Volkov has only been finished four times in his career. Volkov is the taller of the two, but the reach will be the same.
Volkov lands slightly more strikes per minute, while Overeem is more accurate with his volume, and they are both good with their defense and countering. Overeem mixes up his stances quite often and is known for his footwork and coming from different angles, and his kicks hard as hell too. Both men have the ability to take fights to the ground, but this fight screams a striking battle. I feel Overeem is slightly better there. This should be a very interesting fight and a significant one for both. I like Overeem just a little more here.
Bantamweights: Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar
Overall Records: Sandhagen 13-2, Edgar 24-8-1
UFC Records: Sandhagen 6-1, Edgar 18-8-1
Last Fight: Sandhagen def. Moraes, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN9+ 37 (10/10/20), Edgar def. Munhoz, SpDec, UFC On ESPN 15 (8/22/20)
Last Five Fights: Sandhagen 4-1, Edgar 2-3
Rankings: Sandhagen #2, Edgar #4
Betting Odds: Sandhagen -450, Edgar +325
Preview: Sandhagen and Edgar square off in what is the most important bout on the card, and it’s a surprise it’s the co-main event on this card when it could easily be a main event or a highly-placed fight on next weekend’s pay-per-view card. The winner of this fight could very well be the challenger to whomever wins the UFC Bantamweight Championship bout between champion Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling at next month’s UFC 259 event.
Edgar is a sure-fire hall-of-famer who is looking to taste UFC gold once again, and a win here would likely lead to him challenging for a title in a third different division. Sandhagen is one of the young guns of the division, and though he once faltered at the hands of Sterling, he bounced back in a huge way by finishing Marlon Moraes in October. This is probably going to feel like an old-school fight for Edgar as he’ll be fighting someone who is taller and bigger physically than he is. Edgar is used to being undersized, and he tends to fight better when he has that chip on his shoulder.
Edgar is at his best when he’s using his footwork to move around, create angles and land combos. Sandhagen is a pressure fighter who lands a lot of strikes, and he’s very accurate as well. He does absorb more than Edgar, who is good at avoiding shots, but the power edge also sides with Sandhagen. Edgar could look to mix in his wrestling, which is still at a high level, and Sandhagen does have suspect takedown defense. Edgar’s peak might have come years ago, but he’s shown to still be very competitive, and this is a fight he can win.
Sandhagen is the favorite, but also a rather large favorite, so it would be a big upset if Edgar wins. The path to victory is there for Edgar, though I still favor Sandhagen in this fight. I really feel this should’ve been the main event, as it has a lot of implications on it, and is a much more interesting fight than the headliner. This should be a good one.
Flyweights: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape
Overall Records: Pantoja 22-5, Kape 15-4
UFC Records: Pantoja 6-3, Kape 0-0
Last Fight: Askarov def. Pantoja, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 30 (7/18/20), Kape def. Asakura, R2 TKO, RIZIN 20 (12/31/19)
Last Five Fights: Pantoja 3-2, Kape 4-1
Rankings: Pantoja #5
Betting Odds: Pantoja -135, Kape +105
Preview: An interesting flyweight bout finds itself on the card as Pantoja welcomes the Kape to the Octagon for the first time. Pantoja has been on the cusp of fighting for the flyweight title, but has yet to break through for a title shot. He started off his UFC career with two wins, then suffered a loss. He then won three straight before losing to now-champ Deiveson Figueiredo, then won his next fight before losing to Askar Askarov in his last bout, which could’ve gotten him a shot had he won.
Kape didn’t get a chance to compete in 2020, as he signed with UFC during the year but saw two scheduled fights fall apart due to injuries and COVID to his opponents, one of whom was Pantoja in December. Kape is coming into UFC with a fair amount of hype and momentum, and he’s an exciting signing who could make significant noise in the division. He last fought in December 2019, knocking out Kai Asakura, and he also holds wins over UFC veterans Takeya Mizugaki and Ian McCall. 14 of his wins have come via a finish, with nine wins by knockout, so expect some fireworks from him.
Pantoja is a very exciting and active fighter who does everything well, and he has eight wins by both knockout and submission on his record, and he has also never been finished. This is a fight you aren’t going to want to miss, and don’t blink during this. There will be lots of striking, lots of moving quick, and lots of action. This very well could end up being the best fight on the show.
Featherweights: Cody Stamann vs. Askar Askar
Overall Records: Stamann 19-3-1, Askar 11-1
UFC Records: Stamann 5-2-1, Askar 0-0
Last Fight: Rivera def. Stamann, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20), Askar def. Wirth, UDec, LFA 92 (10/2/20)
Last Five Fights: Stamann 2-2-1, Askar 4-1
Rankings: Stamann #13
Betting Odds: Stamann -380, Askar +315
Preview: Stamann finds himself matched up against a third separate opponent in this fight as he will now welcome the debuting Askar Askar to UFC. Askar will be entering this fight on less than a week’s notice, but he enters UFC having won eleven of his twelve career fights. Stamann knows all about starting off a career with a perfect record. He went 17-1 to start his career, with three of those wins coming in his first three UFC bouts.
He found himself going from a non-UFC fighter to a ranked UFC fighter in less than a year, and he had cemented himself as a bright prospect in the bantamweight division. However, he has since won just two of his past five fights, with losses coming to Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera on top of a draw with Song Yadong. Durng all that time, he’s found himself undergoing a training camp change, and he’s now found a solid new foundation at the Xtreme Couture camp in Las Vegas, and he’ll get back to action over six months from his last fight.
Stamann fights from a strong wrestling base and he does yield some power in his hands. He isn’t an overbearing striker, but that is due to generally giving up a lot in the reach department in fights. Askar will have a five-and-a-half inch reach edge in this bout, but, at the same time, he hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of Stamann. Stamann will be looking to drag Askar into deep waters, wearing him out against the fence and on the mat. Stamann averages over three takedowns a fight, but something tells me he’ll get more. He should get the win here, as an Askar win on this notice would be a massive upset. Despite all of the changes, this looks to be a fight Stamann needs to bounce back.
Lightweights: Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush
Overall Records: Ferreira 17-2, Dariush 18-4-1
UFC Records: Ferreira 8-2, Dariush 12-4-1
Last Fight: Ferreira def. Pettis, R2 SUB, UFC 246 (1/18/20), Dariush def. Holtzman, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Ferreira 5-0, Dariush 5-0
Rankings: Ferreira #10, Dariush #13
Betting Odds: Ferreira -125, Dariush -105
Preview: A fight that deserves way more love and attention than it is getting opens the main card as Ferreira and Dariush both put their long win streaks on the line in a rematch between the two. It’s been over six years since Ferreira and Dariush first squared off, as they met at UFC 179 in October 2014. Dariush won that fight by unanimous decision, but it should be noted that Ferreira did take that fight on just a few weeks’ notice, and this time both men will come in off a full training camp.
Both men are coming into this fight on a roll as Ferreira has won six straight fights while Dariush has won five straight. Dariush has become a little bit of a star over the past year, as in 2020, he had two knockouts that went viral, especially his comeback win over Drakkar Klose in March which became meme material due to the reactions from Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier. He also had the impressive spinning back fist knockout of Scott Holtzman, and four of his five wins during his streak have been by a finish. Ferreira’s win streak has seen him score three finishes, but he has faced some real stiff competition of late, and has shown a ton of improvement.
Both men are way better than they were during that 2014 meeting, which saw Dariush use his wrestling to control Ferreira throughout. The striking has improved a lot on both, and both are more willing to stand-and-trade. They’re both black belts in jiu-jitsu, and each have a good amount of submission wins, but they’ll probably negate each other on the mat. That is where the striking comes back into play. Dariush has been on the wrong end of a knockout several times, but his chin has gotten better, and his power is better compared to Ferreira. While Ferreira does land more, but is also more wild with his strikes while Dariush is the better technical striker.
This is a real close fight on paper, and the odds are it will be better than the first time they fought. Both have tons of momentum, and the winner will find themselves in that muddled mess that is the lightweight title picture. This should be a very good fight.
Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+
Lightweights: Michael Johnson vs. Clay Guida
Overall Records: Johnson 19-16, Guida 35-20
UFC Records: Johnson 11-12, Guida 15-14
Last Fight: Moises def. Johnson, R2 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 29 (5/13/20), Green def. Guida, UDec, UFC On ESPN 11 (6/20/20)
Last Five Fights: Johnson 2-3, Guida 2-3
Betting Odds: Johnson -225, Guida +175
Preview: It’s kind of incredible that two lightweights who have a combined 52 fights in UFC have never squared off, but we have that here as Johnson and Guida find a perfect opportunity to finally go toe-to-toe. Both men are looking to end losing skids, as Johnson has lost his last three fights and Guida has dropped back-to-back fights. Both men have also had a rough last ten fights, as Johnson is just 3–7 and Guida 4–6 over their last ten.
With both of them having storied records and wins over lots of notable names, their recent history shows both are on the downswing of their careers, as age and the battles have caught up to them. Johnson has been a member of UFC’s roster since 2010, while Guida made his UFC debut in 2006- not a lot of fighters on the roster have the longevity of both. It is still amazing that despite all of that time in UFC, Johnson is still five years younger than Guida, and is just 34. He certainly should be hitting a peak right now, but he has struggled to get it all together. In his recent fights, such as against Josh Emmett and Thiago Moises, he was winning both of those fights before making mistakes that led him to being finished.
In the case of Guida, he’s beaten guys he should have beaten, but his losses have come to better fighters. Johnson is still a great striker and Guida can’t take a punch like he used to, so Guida will need to use his wrestling to win this. Johnson has struggled when being pressured, and is suspect to being submitted, as he has nine career losses by submission. This is a weird fight to predict what will happen, as the betting odds favor Johnson, and he should be the one to pick in this one.
The one thing you can say with Guida is to never count him out, and he can still turn back the clock. This fight will determine the futures for both men, as the loser could very well be gone from UFC afterwards. This fight pumps some life to this card and should be entertaining.
Light Heavyweights: Mike Rodriguez vs. Danilo Marques
Overall Records: Rodriguez 11-5 1 NC, Marques 10-2
UFC Records: Rodriguez 2-3 1 NC, Marques 1-0
Last Fight: Herman def. Rodriguez, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 35 (9/12/20), Marques def. Ibragimov, UDec, UFC 253 (9/26/20)
Last Five Fights: Rodriguez 2-2 1 NC, Marques 4-1
Betting Odds: Rodriguez -250, Marques +195
Preview: Rodriguez looks for rendemption when he gets back in the Octagon to welcome Marques to the UFC APEX for the first time. Rodriguez is coming off a disappointment in his last UFC bout, a third-round submission loss to Ed Herman in a very controversial fight. Rodriguez looked to have Herman beat, but the referee called a clean strike a low blow, and Herman took the full five minutes to recover, and then made his comeback. Dana White said Rodriguez was screwed in that fight, and he was awarded his win bonus, and they’ve treated him as he won. He’s struggled to get momentum going, as he has just two official wins in six UFC bouts, but he’s shown good flashes.
Marques is coming off a successful UFC debut, defeated Khadis Ibragimov in September in an absolutely terrible fight. It was a return from a long layoff for Marques, who has some talent and has finishes in eight of his ten wins. Marques isn’t going to scare anyone on the feet, as while he is accurate, he just doesn’t stay active. He likes to look to take down his foes, as evidenced by his 16 takedown attempts in his last fight. He only scored four of them, and Rodriguez does have good takedown defense.
Rodriguez likes to keep it on the feet as he lands often and with power, and nine of his eleven wins have been by knockout. Marques is going to need to get this fight on the mat, as he will lose a striking battle with Rodriguez. This feels like a bounce back fight for Rodriguez, and he should succeed in this one.
Featherweights: Martin Day vs. Timur Valiev
Overall Records: Day 8-5, Valiev 14-2 1 NC
UFC Records: Day 0-3, Valiev 0-0 1 NC
Last Fight: Dos Santos def. Day, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN 18 (11/28/20), Valiev NC Jones, UFC On ESPN 15 (8/22/20)
Last Five Fights: Day 2-3, Valiev 4-0 1 NC
Betting Odds: Day +265, Valiev -350
Preview: A fight that was put together late sees two men in Day and Valiev looking to each score their first UFC triumph in this bout. Day enters the fight as the short-notice replacement for Julio Arce, and he’s looking to end the three-fight losing skid he finds himself on that has started his UFC career. He was last seen in October suffering a submission loss to Anderson Dos Santos. Valiev is fighting for the second time in the Octagon. He was looking good early on in his debut against Trevin Jones, but Jones scored an incredible comeback win, knocking Valiev out in the fight. However, Valiev caught a break months later as the loss was overturned into a no contest after Jones failed a drug test in Nevada for marijuana. That is good news for Valiev, who has now officially lost only once in his last eighteen fights, and he’s got a lot of potential to make some noise.
He’s normally a bantamweight, but this will be a featherweight bout due to the late notice for Day. That should give Valiev even more of an edge, and Valiev is someone who likes to be on the offensive from the onset of fights. He landed a lot of strikes against Jones, more than nine per minute, and he was very active with his striking. Day struggles with pressure, which is what Valiev will bring. Valiev has more ways to win, and he has tons of talent. You have to give Day some credit for taking this fight on short notice, but he may be in over his head in this one. Valiev is a big favorite, and this should be a good showcase for him to score his first UFC win.
160-lbs. Catchweights: Devonte Smith vs. Justin Jaynes
Overall Records: Smith 10-2, Jaynes 16-6
UFC Records: Smith 2-1, Jaynes 1-2
Last Fight: Worthy def. Smith, R1 TKO, UFC 241 (8/17/19), Benitez def. Jaynes, R1 TKO, UFC On ESPN 19 (12/5/20)
Last Five Fights: Smith 4-1, Jaynes 3-2
Betting Odds: Smith -280, Jaynes +240
Preview: Another fight that underwent a change this week sees lightweights Smith and Jaynes do battle in what could be an exciting fight. Smith is fighting for the first time since August 2019. He was going into that fight with lots of hype as a prospect, but it didn’t end well for him as Khama Worthy knocked him out in the first round at UFC 241. Shortly after, Smith tore his achilles, which put him on the sidelines for a long time, and then a sad situation of his sister being murdered was also something he had to deal with. He’s gotten through all of that and has been eager to return.
Jaynes took this fight on Monday, marking the second time in four UFC bouts he’s taken a fight the week of the event. The first time, it worked out, as he knocked out Frank Camacho in just 41 seconds. His last two fights haven’t gone as well, as he’s been finished by Gavin Tucker and Gabriel Benitez, so he finds himself in need of a win. A lot of the hype around Smith is due in part to having proven himself to be a finishing machine during his young career. All ten of his wins have come by a finish, with nine wins coming by knockout. He throws all sorts of different strikes, and he’s coached by one of the best striking coaches in the sport.
Jaynes is the type of opponent that Smith could have a field day with, as Jaynes is always coming forward and looking to strike, and he does have eight wins by knockout himself. Jaynes is going to be giving up eight inches in the reach department, which Smith is assuredly going to use to his advantage. Jaynes gets hit a lot, and Smith will be mixing it up there. I don’t expect this to go to the mat at all. The hope is Smith can get back in the win column and start to capitalize on his potential, and this is a tailor-made match-up for him, even though it was put together just this week. This could be very entertaining.
Women’s Bantamweights: Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards
Overall Records: Rosa 13-3, Edwards 10-2
UFC Records: Rosa 2-0, Edwards 1-0
Last Fight: Rosa def. Melo, UDec, UFC 251 (7/11/20), Edwards def. Yanan, UDec, UFC On ABC 1 (1/16/20)
Last Five Fights: Rosa 4-1, Edwards 4-1
Betting Odds: Rosa -235, Edwards +185
Preview: Like many of the fights on the card, this one underwent a late change. Rosa was preparing to face Nicco Montano, but Montano had to be removed from the fight due to suffering from lingering effects of a concussion she suffered when she was rear-ended. In stepped Edwards to replace her, and Edwards is making a quick turnaround after fighting just three weeks ago in Abu Dhabi. Edwards also took that fight on short notice, and it worked out well for her, as she scored a decision win in her UFC debut over Wu Yanan. Rosa has also been successful in both of her UFC fights, scoring wins over Lara Procopio and Vanessa Melo.
As far as how this match-up squares off, I’m honestly not expecting much from it. Edwards has been the more impressive fighter over her career, and has the more potential of the two. Rosa has looked decent in her two fights, but that came against competition not as polished as Edwards. Rosa is a striker who does land a lot, but she also absorbs a lot of strikes as well, and if she takes one to land one against Edwards, it might not work out for her as well. Edwards is more of a proven finisher, as Rosa is likely to try and push the fight the full fifteen minutes. It’s a fight, it could be alright, or it could be dull, and I like Edwards to get the win here despite being the betting underdog.
Women’s Flyweights: Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio
Overall Records: McCann 10-3, Procopio 6-1
UFC Records: McCann 3-2, Procopio 0-1
Last Fight: Santos def. McCann, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20), Rosa def. Procopio, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 15 (8/31/19)
Last Five Fights: McCann 3-2, Procopio 4-1
Betting Odds: McCann -160, Procopio +130
Preview: This is a women’s flyweight fight that hasn’t undergone any sort of changes so far, and it has landed on the prelims here, with both McCann and Procopio look to get back into the win column. McCann is a very likeable fighter who has a solid fanbase fighting out of the UK, and she has a great personality to back it up. She was on a three-fight win streak before suffering a loss to Taila Santos on Fight Island in July. She looks to get back on the horse against Procopio, who is fighting for the second time in the Octagon as she drops to the 125-lbs. division. Procopio lost a decision to Karol Rosa in her lone UFC appearance in August 2019 in a fight where a lot of strikes were thrown. Both landed a lot in that fight, but both ate a lot in that fight, too.
It showed Procopio has the striking ability to compete, but McCann is a different kind of striker and more of a gritty opponent. Procopio is going to have a reach advantage, which she will need to use as McCann likes to clinch and hunt for takedowns, and really grinds opponents out on the mat. Procopio didn’t have a chance to show her grappling in her fight with Rosa, as Rosa didn’t try a takedown, and Procopio missed on her five takedown attempts. McCann will be looking to take the fight to the mat, and that is where she will dominate this fight. This feels like a bounce back fight for McCann, and I really like her chances in this one.
Featherweights: Seungwoo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal
Overall Records: Choi 8-3, Zalal 10-3
UFC Records: Choi 1-2, Zalal 3-1
Last Fight: Choi def. Mokhtarian, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 23 (12/21/19), Topuria def. Zalal, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/10/20)
Last Five Fights: Choi 3-2, Zalal 4-1
Betting Odds: Choi +195, Zalal -250
Preview: Another fight that has undergone a lot of changes is this one, as Choi finds himself matched up against a third different opponent. He was originally slated to fight Steven Peterson, then Collin Anglin, and now he gets Youssef Zalal on about a week’s notice. That shouldn’t deter Choi, who hasn’t fought since December 2019 and has been waiting to get back to work. His UFC stint started out with two tough fights that he lost, to Movsar Evloev and Gavin Tucker, but he bounced back with a win over Suman Mokhtarian in his last fight.
Choi and Zalal were actually supposed to fight in October, but Choi had to pull out of it and was replaced by Ilia Topuria. That didn’t work out so well for Zalal, as he suffered his first UFC loss in that fight after winning his first three fights. Zalal looked great in his wins, but Topuria’s style stifled him, and Choi is a good foe to bounce back against. Zalal is a guy who likes to grind his opponents against the fence and take them down to work from the top. Choi’s takedown defense needs to be on point in this one, and he is pretty good at defending takedowns. On the feet, Choi has the edge, as he has five wins by knockout compared to two by Zalal. Zalal has never been finished in his career, while Choi has, including in his UFC bout against Tucker.
Despite all of the changes and Zalal taking this fight on short notice, this has the makings of what could be a really exciting fight. Despite the change, both men should be familiar with preparing for each other due to their previous booking. This feels like a fight where Zalal will get back in the win column, but Choi is a very good fighter, and those South Korean fighters are tough. This could be a very exciting fight early on the card.
Featherweights: Ode Osbourne vs. Jerome Rivera
Overall Records: Osbourne 8-3, Rivera 10-2
UFC Records: Osbourne 0-1, Rivera 0-2
Last Fight: Kelleher def. Osbourne, R1 SUB, UFC 246 (1/18/20), Figueiredo def. Rivera, UDec, UFC On ESPN 20 (1/20/21)
Last Five Fights: Osbourne 4-1, Rivera 3-2
Betting Odds: Osbourne -220, Rivera +185
Preview: The fight opening the show is another one that was made on Tuesday of fight week as Osbourne and Rivera will meet in a featherweight bout. Both men normally fight at lower weight classes, as Rivera is a flyweight and Osbourne was working his way down towards the flyweight division, but with the late change, it looks like they are just going to fight at their natural weight. These two were supposed to square off at a January 30 UFC event, but that event was decided against happening, and Rivera opted to fight on January 20 in Abu Dhabi, where he lost a decision to Francisco Figueiredo. Osbourne was put on this card against Denys Bondar, who had to pull out early this week, so they opted to get Rivera to replace him and rebook the original match-up.
Osbourne is fighting for the first time since UFC 246 in January 2020, and he is more known for his outlandish comment that he would one day be a bigger star than Conor McGregor. It’s going to be tough to accomplish that, especially since Osbourne lost his UFC debut in the first round. Rivera is also winless in his first two UFC fights, so he’s in a must-win situation. When it comes to this fight, Osbourne is the slightly better striker, but both prefer to grapple. Osbourne is the better takedown artist, but both have slick submission games, as Osbourne has five wins by submission and Rivera has seven. With the late change and Rivera not having a training camp, I’m don’t expect a blow-away fight, but this one could still be fun. I lean slightly in favor of Osbourne in this.