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Guide to UFC On ESPN+ 43: Blaydes vs. Lewis

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+ 43.

Date: February 20, 2021
Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Main Card
Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+

Heavyweights: Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis

Overall Records: Blaydes 14-2 1 NC, Lewis 24-7 1 NC
UFC Records: Blaydes 9-2 1 NC, Lewis 15-5
Last Fight: Blaydes def. Volkov, UDEC, UFC On ESPN 11 (6/20/20), Lewis def. Oleinik, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Blaydes 4-1, Lewis 3-2
Rankings: Blaydes #2, Lewis #4
Betting Odds: Blaydes -450, Lewis +325
Preview: The main event of this show, which was originally scheduled to happen in November until it was cancelled the week of the fight after Blaydes caught COVID-19, is a doozy and a pivotal fight in the heavyweight division when it comes to the title picture. With UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defending against Francis Ngannou in a little over a month from now, the winner of this fight could find themselves in line to challenge the winner of that fight. Both men will need to make a statement, though, as Jon Jones is lurking in the shadows of his move up to the division.

Blaydes is coming in the winner of four straight fights, while Lewis is on a three-fight win streak. Blaydes’ strategy in fights is always clear from the onset of the start- he wants to take his opponent down and smother them on the mat. It doesn’t make for pretty fights at times, but Blaydes is focused on winning by whatever means necessary. Lewis is one of the most entertaining personalities in the sport, and he’s always guaranteed to give some memorable moments inside the Octagon.

He is a heavy, heavy hitter and has some underrated wrestling and finds unique ways to get up if he’s on the bottom. It is no guarantee that Blaydes is going to be able to keep him down, and Blaydes may be weary to stand-and-trade with Lewis. Lewis, at times, doesn’t fight up to his ability and Blaydes will exploit it. This is a really strong main event fight and a very interesting one at that and should provide some fireworks, or it has the potential to be a dull fight depending on how both men show up.

Blaydes is a sizeable favorite, and a bad match-up for tons of fighters, so unless Lewis can catch him with that right hand, this should be Blaydes rolling to a decision win.

Women’s Bantamweights: Ketlen Vieira vs. Yana Kunitskaya

Overall Records: Vieira 11-1, Kunitskaya 13-5 1 NC
UFC Records: Vieira 5-1, Kunitskaya 3-2
Last Fight: Vieira def. Eubanks, UDec, UFC 253 (9/26/20), Kunitskaya def. Stoliarenko, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Vieira 4-1, Kunitskaya 3-2
Rankings: Vieira #6, Kunitskaya #7
Betting Odds: Vieira -280, Kunitskaya +220
Preview: A pair of female bantamweights looking to put themselves in the title picture take the co-main event slot here as Vieira and Kunitskaya also look to get into the top-five at 135 lbs. Vieira looked like she was going to be a future champion until a major knee injury sidelined her for nearly two years, and she suffered her first loss when she came back from it. She bounced back with a win over Sijara Eubanks in September, getting her back on track to challening for a title one day. Kunitskaya is a rare fighter who fought for a title in her UFC debut, losing to Cris Cyborg in a women’s featherweight title fight, but she’s won three of four since going back down to 135 lbs.

Vieira is a black belt in both jiu-jitsu and judo, and she likes to show off her good submission and ground skills. She isn’t the striker the caliber of Kunitskaya, who lands around 4.5 significant strikes a minute. Vieira tends to get hit often, but she doesn’t mind it if it allows her to clinch and grind. Both women are good at takedowns, but Vieira has excellent takedown defense, while Kunitskaya, well, doesn’t. Kunitskaya has been submitted twice in her career, so she’ll look to keep it on the feet, where she has seven wins by knockout.

This fight does feel like it will go the distance and come down to who implements their game plan better. Vieira is a pretty big favorite in this one, but it could really go either way, so it will be an interesting fight.

Featherweights: Charles Rosa vs. Darrick Minner

Overall Records: Rosa 13-4, Minner 25-11
UFC Records: Rosa 4-4, Minner 1-1
Last Fight: Rosa def. Aguilar, SpDec, UFC On ESPN 10 (6/13/20), Minner def. Laramie, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20)
Last Five Fights: Rosa 3-2, Minner 3-2
Betting Odds: Rosa -190, Minner +155
Preview: Rosa and Minner compete in a battle of submission specialists in the featherweight division as the winner looks to get their second straight win while the loser looks to impress enough to remain part of UFC’s roster. Rosa has been with the company since 2014, and has battled numerous injuries, but he was able to fight twice in 2020. He has eight fights in UFC, and has rotated wins-and-losses during those fights, and his last result saw him get a win. He’s hoping to buck the trend and go on his first UFC win streak as Minner looks to avoid going back into the loss column.

Rosa is a good wrestler who likes to get fights to the mat, but he can also be taken down and dominated if his opponent shows up and is just better on fight night. Rosa has more natural talent of the two, but he also might want to avoid going to the mat with Minner. While Rosa has eight wins by submission, Minner has scored 22 of his 25 wins by submission. Minner also has eight losses by submission, so it kind of already paints a picture on how this fight will go.

It almost doesn’t matter who is better on the feet, though that edge goes to Rosa. Rosa is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and trains with a lot of tough guys at American Top Team. That alone should favor him in what could be a fun grappling battle.

Heavyweights: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Chris Daukaus

Overall Records: Oleinik 59-14-1, Daukaus 10-3
UFC Records: Oleinik 8-5, Daukaus 2-0
Last Fight: Lewis def. Oleinik, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 32 (8/8/20), Daukaus def. Nascimento, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/10/20)
Last Five Fights: Oleinik 2-3, Daukaus 4-1
Rankings: Oleinik #10
Betting Odds: Oleinik +155, Daukaus -190
Preview: A battle pitting a long-time veteran of the sport against a surging prospect gets the main card treatment as Oleinik will be fighting for the 75th time in his career, while Daukaus will be fighting for only the 14th time in his career. Oleinik, who is nearing his 44th birthday has been around for so long that Daukaus was only 7-years-old when Oleinik had his first fight. You could say Oleinik has seen it all, but he hasn’t done it all as he still has the desire to compete and hopes to make a run at the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Oleinik is an incredible submission fighter, as 46 of his 59 career wins have come by submission, and he throws out all kinds of different techniques on the ground. He is best known for being able to find the ezekiel choke or scarf holds, which are submissions that rarely occur. Daukaus’ sample size in UFC is small, as he’s only had two fights inside the Octagon that have lasted just a combined over five minutes, and he’s never had to defend a takedown attempt in UFC, so he’s going to need to show that he can defend those here. When a fighter starts getting older, the thing you question most is their chin, and you can start to question Oleinik’s. Despite just eight knockout losses during his 74-fight career, his last four losses have come by knockout. Nine of Daukaus’ ten wins have come by knockout, and he’s only been the distance once in his career.

Daukaus has scored two knockdowns in each of his UFC bouts, including in the fight that lasted just 45 seconds, so he has a ton of power in his hands. If this fight stays standing, Daukaus will win it. If it goes to the ground, Oleinik has to be in control here. Daukaus is the slight betting favorite, and I really like him in this one.

Middleweights: Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov

Overall Records: Hawes 9-2, Imavov 9-2
UFC Records: Hawes 1-0, Imavov 1-0
Last Fight: Hawes def. Malkoun, R1 KO, UFC 254 (10/24/20), Imavov def. Williams, UDec, UFC On ESPN 16 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Hawes 5-0, Imavov 5-0
Betting Odds: Hawes -125, Imavov -105
Preview: A fight that was scheduled to take place on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in January, but was cancelled just a few hours before that event, and ended up being re-scheduled for this card. After struggling to live up to his potential early in his career, Hawes enters this fight against Imavov riding a five-fight win streak that has finally seen him put everything together. He is coming off an 18-second destruction of Jacob Malkoun in October in a fight he couldn’t look any more impressive in. Imavov is also making his second UFC appearance as he is coming off a decision win over Jordan Williams in October.

You really know what you’re getting when it comes to Hawes; he is either going to finish you or he’s going to find himself on the wrong end of being finished himself. Imavov is a fighter that likes to get the takedown and hunt for submissions, and he is good at keeping opponents down on the mat. Hawes is a former junior college national champion in wrestling, so he should be able to negate any takedowns from Imavov.

Imavov has never been knocked out in his career, but he’s never faced someone with the power of Hawes. This feels like a fight set up for Hawes to get another win, but Imavov is a tough opponent. I like Hawes in this fight.

Heavyweights: Andrei Arlovski vs. Tom Aspinall

Overall Records: Arlovski 30-19 2 NC, Aspinall 9-2
UFC Records: Arlovski 19-13 1 NC, Aspinall 2-0
Last Fight: Arlovski def. Boser, UDec, UFC On ESPN 17 (11/7/20), Aspinall def. Baudot, R1 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/3/20)
Last Five Fights: Arlovski 3-2, Aspinall 5-0
Betting Odds: Arlovski +200, Aspinall -260
Preview: Another battle between a long-time veteran and rising prospect at heavyweight takes place here as former UFC Heavyweight Champion Arlovski looks to extend a two-fight win streak against the hotshot Aspinall. Arlovski will be competing in his 52nd career fight, while Aspinall will be appearing in his 12th career fight. Aspinall’s early career mirrors Arlovski’s early career, and this could be a passing of the torch of some sorts. Aspinall has nine wins in his young career, and all of them have come by stoppage, with seven by knockout and two by submission. His wins have been quick, too, as his longest win was in just 1:35, and five of his nine wins have come in less than a minute.

The only time Aspinall has been past the 95-second mark in a fight, he lost, with both of them coming in the second round. Arlovski definitely has the experience advantage, as he made his professional debut two days before Aspinall’s sixth birthday. Aspinall may be the most impressive heavyweight with three or less UFC bouts on their record, as he can hit hard and has a solid ground game to go with it. His sample size in the Octagon is small, but he lands over eleven strikes per minute at a whopping 74% accuracy rate.

Arlovski’s chin is still a question, and though he hasn’t been on the receiving end of many bad knockout losses lately as in the past, Aspinall’s power may change that. Arlovski’s striking defense is still suspect, so Aspinall could finish it quickly if he comes out aggressively. Aspinall is a sizeable favorite, and this should be his breakthrough win.

Preliminary Card
Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+

Featherweights: Jared Gordon vs. Danny Chavez

Overall Records: Gordon 16-4, Chavez 11-3
UFC Records: Gordon 4-3, Chavez 1-0
Last Fight: Gordon def. Fishgold, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20), Chavez def. Brown, UDec, UFC 252 (8/15/20)
Last Five Fights: Gordon 2-3, Chavez 4-1
Betting Odds: Gordon +115, Chavez -145
Preview: A pair of featherweights looking to string together a UFC win streak compete here as Gordon and Chavez both look for their second consecutive UFC win. Gordon started his career with an impressive 14-1 record, which included two wins to start his UFC career. He has since dropped three of his last five fights, but is coming off a win over Chris Fishgold in Abu Dhabi in July. Gordon is a tough out, as two of his three losses came to Charles Oliveira and Diego Ferreira, so he’s really only losing to top competition. Chavez will be making his second UFC appearance, and is riding a four-fight win streak overall after scoring a decision win over TJ Brown in his UFC debut in August.

Gordon’s story in the world has been well documented, overcoming drug issues in the past, and he’s carved out a nice career for himself thus far. He does need to win this fight to keep on UFC’s roster, and Chavez will be a tough out. Chavez is a good striker and grappler, but he tends to go to a decision and keep it close. Gordon is more of a high-volume striker with good takedown defense. His chin can be suspect, as all four of his losses have been by knockout, but he will bring a tough fight to anyone. Chavez is a slight favorite in this one, but I actually like Gordon in this fight. This should be a fun little bout.

Lightweights: Drakkar Klose vs. Luis Pena

Overall Records: Klose 11-2-1, Pena 8-3
UFC Records: Klose 5-2, Pena 4-3
Last Fight: Dariush def. Klose, R2 KO, UFC 248 (3/7/20), Worthy def. Pena, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN 12 (6/27/20)
Last Five Fights: Klose 3-2, Pena 3-2
Betting Odds: Klose -170, Pena +140
Preview: Klose gets a short-notice replacement for this fight as Pena takes it on less than two weeks’ notice as a replacement for Jai Herbert to make for an interesting prelim battle. Both men are coming off losses in their last fights, as Klose was knocked out by Beneil Dariush in an incredible moment last March, and Pena was submitted by Khama Worthy in June. Both are coming in having taken a little more time between fights that they’re used to. Klose’s loss to Dariush was actually the first time he’s had a UFC bout not go the distance, while Pena is split in his UFC bouts between having a finish and going the distance. Pena is going to have a six-inch height edge and a five-inch reach advantage, and he likes to utilize his reach to keep opponents outside the pocket.

Pena does land more than he gets hit, but he doesn’t land quite as much as Klose. While Klose has some good striking, he is more of a takedown and grind fighter. He doesn’t get many takedowns, but he tends to have a lot of control time. However, if Pena can take Klose down, he might have the edge in this one. It is hard to tell if Pena will be fully prepared with the short notice, and this is a must-win for both. It’s a more dangerous fight for Pena, and I tend to favor Klose in this one.

Bantamweights: Eddie Wineland vs. John Castaneda

Overall Records: Wineland 24-14-1, Castaneda 17-5
UFC Records: Wineland 6-8, Castaneda 0-1
Last Fight: O’Malley def. Wineland, R1 KO, UFC 250 (6/6/20), Wood def. Castaneda, UDec, UFC On ESPN 14 (7/25/20)
Last Five Fights: Wineland 2-3, Castaneda 2-3
Betting Odds: Wineland -105, Castaneda -125
Preview: A veteran who has been a WEC champ and a UFC title challenger looks to get back in the win column against a young fighter look to score his first UFC win. Wineland makes an attempt to be a little more active in 2021 as he gets his year started earlier than normal, as he’s someone who has fought just once in each of the last four calendar years. It might be fair to say he’s passed his peak at age 36, but he is still eager to show he can go against this young competition. Castaneda makes his second Octagon appearance, and is looking to rebound from a decision loss to Nathaniel Wood in that first fight. He did take that fight on short notice, and he will compete here on a full training camp.

Both men have lost three of their last four, so this is a definite must-win for both. Wineland has a ton of experience- his first fight came in April 2003. He’s fought a who’s-who of competition during his career, and has had a great amount of success. He needs to lean on that experience to get the win here. Wineland does have some heavy hands and fifteen wins by knockout. Castaneda does have twelve stoppage wins, but also tends to get hit a lot, and is on the lower end of UFC bantamweights. This fight will show how much Wineland has left. It feels like a fight he should win, but it is close on the betting odds, and it really could go either way.

Featherweights: Nate Landwehr vs. Julian Erosa

Overall Records: Landwehr 14-3, Erosa 24-8
UFC Records: Landwehr 1-1, Erosa 2-4
Last Fight: Landwehr def. Elkins, UDec, UFC On ESPN 8 (5/16/20), Erosa def. Woodson, R3 SUB, UFC On ESPN 12 (6/27/20)
Last Five Fights: Landwehr 4-1, Erosa 2-3
Betting Odds: Landwehr -110, Erosa -120
Preview: A battle between two fun featherweights takes place here as Landwehr and Erosa both look to score their second straight win. Landwehr is coming off an exciting decision win over Darren Elkins in May, where he bloodied Elkins up and was screaming at Dana White during the fight asking him if he was enjoying it. Erosa is on his third stint with UFC. He was on season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter, but was cut after going 1-1. He scored some wins in regional promotions, then got a shot on the Contender Series. Though he won on the show, he didn’t earn a contract, but was later signed to a deal. He went 0-3 and was cut again, but picked up one win and was brought back as a late-notice replacement in June, where he scored a thrilling come-from-behind win over Sean Woodson. Erosa feels like he’s found his footing in UFC now and is eager to show he’s better than that prior 1-4 UFC record shows.

The one thing Erosa needs to be aware of against Landwehr is that Landwehr is an actual madman inside the Octagon. He will throw lots of strikes, is not afraid to get hit, and you rarely have to ever worry about him going for a takedown. Landwehr is also very durable, something that Erosa sometimes neccessarily isn’t. Erosa only has four knockout losses, but three of them have come in UFC. Landwehr also has good takedown defense, so Erosa better be prepared for a battle on the feet. That doesn’t spell good news for Erosa. This should be entertaining and Landwehr is unpredictable, but this seems like a good spot for him to get a strong win, and I like him a lot in this fight.

Featherweights: Rafael Alves vs. Patrick Sabatini

Overall Records: Alves 19-9, Sabatini 13-3
UFC Records: Alves 0-0, Sabatini 0-0
Last Fight: Alves def. Flores, R2 SUB, Dana White’s Contender Series 30 (8/25/20), Sabatini def. Stirn, R2 SUB, CFFC 91 (12/18/20)
Last Five Fights: Alves 5-0, Sabatini 4-1
Betting Odds: Alves -200, Sabatini +160
Preview: A pair of featherweight prospects making their UFC debuts is showcased here as Alves debuts against the late-notice replacement debut of Sabatini. Alves makes his debut following earning a contract on the Contender Series in August, and is riding a five-fight win streak coming into this fight. Sabatini takes this fight on just over a week’s notice as a replacement for former TUF winner Michael Trizano, and makes his debut riding a two-fight win streak. Alves is a wild fighter with a good amount of experience, and he’s really turned a corner as of late as he works his way into UFC. He has seven wins by knockout and seven by submission, and his last three wins have come by stoppage.

Sabatini is a strong ground fighter, with ten of his thirteen wins coming by submission, and he can find them quick, with many of those coming in the first round. Alves does have six losses by submission, and his other three losses have come by knockout. Both men are young, hungry and exciting fighters. Alves comes into the fight as the betting favorite, as he should since he’s had a full training camp, but Sabatini is going to be a game opponent. This has the potential to be the best fight on the card, and hopefully both men show they can become contenders in the future.

Women’s Flyweights: Shana Dobson vs. Casey O’Neill

Overall Records: Dobson 4-4, O’Neill 5-0
UFC Records: Dobson 2-3, O’Neill 0-0
Last Fight: Dobson def. Agapova, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN 15 (8/22/20), O’Neill def. Stelliou, R2 TKO, UAE Warriors 13 (9/25/20
Last Five Fights: Dobson 2-3, O’Neill 5-0
Betting Odds: Dobson +115, O’Neill -145
Preview: Dobson looks to keep her UFC run going as she welcomes newcomer O’Neill to the Octagon in this prelim bout. Dobson found herself in a must-win situation in her last fight in August, and she ended up not only picking up the win, but also in comeback fashion as she finished Mariya Agapova in the Upset Of The Year for 2020. It ended her three-fight losing skid and gave her another shot to show improvement inside the Octagon. O’Neill is making her UFC debut in just her sixth professional fight, but she’s scored wins in all five of her prior fights. She scored an impressive knockout win in September in Abu Dhabi in front of Dana White and the matchmakers, and she was signed right after. She’s the top-ranked female prospect in all of Australia and New Zealand, and she is still just 23-years-old, so she has plenty of time to develop.

She gets a favorable match-up in this one, as, no shot to Dobson, but this is a perfect opponent for O’Neill to showcase herself. Dobson does have some power, and both of her UFC wins have been by TKO, but she’s not someone who will end it with one punch. Dobson also gets hit more than she lands, and O’Neill is a strong muay Thai fighter. O’Neill has more options on offense, and Dobson will give her a tough fight, but this fight is tailor-made for O’Neill to score an impressive debut win, which she should do here.

Featherweights: Chas Skelly vs. Jamall Emmers

Overall Records: Skelly 18-4, Emmers 18-5
UFC Records: Skelly 7-4, Emmers 1-1
Last Fight: Skelly def. Griffin, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 16 (9/14/19), Emmers def. Cachero, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 31 (8/1/20)
Last Five Fights: Skelly 3-2, Emmers 4-1
Betting Odds: Skelly +190, Emmers -240
Preview: Skelly gets back to action for the first time in over 17 months when he handles the challenge of Emmers in this prelim bout. Skelly is looking to score his second straight win, and injuries have limited him to just two fights since May 2017. He’s been wanting to get back to action and this marks the first chance he’s had to get back, and the fight was actually pushed back from when it was originally going to take place. Emmers is looking to score his second straight win after getting a decision over Vince Cachero in August. This is the second time that Emmers has had a full training camp for a UFC bout, and the first time paid off with great rewards.

Skelly is a tough match-up, even with his limited action, but he has a style that is easy to prepare for. If you prepare for your opponent constantly going for the takedown, you could have success against Skelly. Skelly is going to be looking for the takedown as often as possible, and he likes to grind on the mat. He’s got ten wins by submission, but also three by knockout, and he is very tough to not only beat, but to finish. Emmers does have an impressive win on his resume- he is the only other man besides Aljamain Sterling to hold a win over Cory Sandhagen, and he also has a pre-UFC win over Alexander Hernandez.

Emmers is also a grind fighter, as eight of his 18 wins are by decision, and he’s been finished three times in his career. He does land more than Skelly and has yet to be taken down in his two UFC bouts. This one will come down to whether Skelly can get it on the mat. Both men are strong fighters, and this one should be closer than the odds show. I actually like Skelly to win this fight, and I feel he’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder with a lot to prove.

Bantamweights: Aiemann Zahabi vs. Drako Rodriguez

Overall Records: Zahabi 7-2, Rodriguez 7-1
UFC Records: Zahabi 1-2, Rodriguez UFC Debut
Last Fight: Morales def. Zahabi, UDEC, UFC On ESPN+ 9 (5/4/19), Rodriguez def. Martinez, R1 SUB, Dana White’s Contender Series 32 (9/8/20)
Last Five Fights: Zahabi 3-2, Rodriguez 4-1
Betting Odds: Zahabi +150, Rodriguez -185
Preview: A second fight that was pushed back from another card finds its way onto this show, as Zahabi and Rodriguez see their December bout that was postponed due to Zahabi catching COVID-19 moved here. Zahabi is a guy with his back on the wall, entering this event on a two-fight losing streak on the potential last fight of his contract, so he is in a must-win situation as he welcomes newcomer Rodriguez to UFC. Zahabi hasn’t fought since May of last year, which was a decision loss to Vince Morales to give him back-to-back losses.

Zahabi came to UFC with a lot of hype, scoring six first-round finishes in six fights, and he did have a successful Octagon debut, but this will be just his second fight in the last three years. Rodriguez was signed off the Contender Series in September, where he scored a submission win over Mana Martinez, submitting him with a triangle choke from the bottom. He’s still young in his career, as this is just his ninth career fight, but he has proven to be a finisher in his early fights. Zahabi is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and likes to take the fight to the mat, but he’s had trouble getting opponents down in UFC.

Neither man is an overwhelming striker, but they can both finish a fight with their striking. This is an interesting fight between a couple of prospects, but Zahabi, despite being the underdog, should be the favorite as long as he comes in hungry to win.

Heavyweights: Serghei Spivac vs. Jared Vanderaa

Overall Records: Spivac 11-2, Vanderaa 11-4
UFC Records: Spivac 2-2, Vanderaa UFC Debut
Last Fight: Spivac def. Felipe, MDec, UFC On ESPN+ 30 (7/18/20), Vanderaa def. Hunsucker, R1 TKO, Dana White’s Contender Series 34 (11/4/20)
Last Five Fights: Spivac 3-2, Vanderaa 4-1
Betting Odds: Spivac -250, Vanderaa +195
Preview: A third fight that was scheduled for another card but moved to this card opens the show. Spivac and Vanderaa were scheduled to fight in November, but Vanderaa tested positive for COVID-19, and it ended up finally being re-scheduled here. Vanderaa will be making his UFC debut in this fight with Spivac. Vanderaa was seen on the Contender Series in October, scoring a knockout win over Harry Hunsucker (that’s a real name) with some brutal ground-and-pound. Vanderaa knew he was getting a contract the moment he finished the fight as Dana White was impressed, and he immediately started calling his shot, asking for Spivac for his first UFC bout. Spivac’s attention was captured and he quickly accepted the fight before it ended up being postponed.

Spivac has bounced between wins-and-losses in his four UFC bouts and will be looking for consecutive wins for the first time inside the Octagon. Vanderaa has won five of his last six fights and has improved more as he’s started working with UFC legend Dan Henderson. Vanderaa has scored ten of his eleven wins by stoppage, with seven wins by knockout, with six wins coming inside the first round. Spivac also has scored ten of his eleven wins via a finish, with six wins coming by submission.

Vanderaa is likely the better fighter on the feet while Spivac is definitely the better fighter on the ground. Spivac’s UFC tenure hasn’t been flashy thus far, and Vanderaa is wanting to make a statement right away, and I tend to favor him in this fight. This could be fun, or it could be sloppy, but I’m going with it ending up being fun.

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