Getting prepared for UFC action this Saturday? Here’s everything you need to know in our Guide to UFC 275: Teixeira vs. Prochazka.
Date: June 11, 2022
Location: Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore
Start Time: 10:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN+ PPV
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: (C) Glover Teixeira vs. #2 Jiri Prochazka
Overall Records: Teixeira 33-7, Prochazka 28-3-1
UFC Records: Teixeira 16-5, Prochazka 2-0
Last Fight: Teixeira def. Blachowicz (title fight)–R2 SUB–UFC 267 (10/30/21), Prochazka def. Reyes–R2 KO–UFC On ESPN 23 (5/1/21)
Last Five Fights: Teixeira 5-0, Prochazka 5-0
Betting Odds: Teixeira +170, Prochazka -200
Background: The main event of UFC 275 sees the unlikely 42-year-old champion in the middle of a career resurgence making his first title defense against arguably the most dangerous fighter in the division as Teixeira defends the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Prochazka. Teixeira’s story could easily be made into a movie, as he was once destined to be a lock to become the champion at 205 lbs., but a man named Jon Jones stood in the way. Teixeira came up short in his shot against Jones, and then looked on his way to a career ending on not the greatest of terms, as he went on a 5-5 stretch that started with that loss to Jones. He turned the clock back and has since won six straight fights, including a second-round submission of Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 in October to become the new champion. He has a tough task for his first defense against Prochazka, a dangerous striker who is on a 12-fight win streak. Prochazka has just two appearances inside the Octagon, but they’ve both been finishes, including a memorable one in his last outing, when he knocked out Dominick Reyes with a spinning elbow in May 2021, which was one of the best knockouts and best fights of 2021. Prochazka has 28 career wins, which is just five less than Teixeira despite being 13 years younger, and 25 of those wins have come by knockout.
How they match up: Prochazka brings a type of chaos into the cage that both pushes fights way into his favor and leads to possible hindrance for him, and it’ll be up to Teixeira to rely on his veteran instincts to weather the storm Prochazka is going to bring to him. Prochazka is an exceptional athlete with a wild and messy style and you just don’t know what kind of attack he is going to bring to you. He has vicious knockout power in his hands, but he can just as easily finish you with any part of his body. Teixeira’s chin had been a question during his down slide, but it has held up well during his current run. Teixeira is going to have to know that Prochazka is going to bring the pressure to him and should expect that he is going to spend most of his time on the feet having to look for counter shots. Teixeira should be looking to get this to the mat early as that will be his best path to victory. Prochazka is not unskilled on the mat, but he hasn’t fought someone who will bring the ground pressure that Teixeira will. If Prochazka makes a mistake on the ground, should he find himself there, it could be the opening Teixeira needs to lock in a fight-ending choke. However, that is all dependent on Teixeira being able to get Prochazka down, and that is far from a given. Which brings this fight back to the feet, where the crazy style of Prochazka is going to end up being too much for Teixeira to handle. It’s a quick rise, but I see Prochazka getting the finish inside the first two rounds, ending the miracle run Teixeira was on and bringing stabilization to a light heavyweight title that has been a hot potato since the Jon Jones era ended.
What’s at stake: The UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and the spot as the best light heavyweight in the world is what’s at stake here. Teixeira wants to keep his unlikely run going, and this run might be his last shot at staying on top. Prochazka seems destined to be at the top, and Saturday very well could be his night, and, even if it doesn’t go his way, he’ll be back there. I still think he’s coming out on top on Saturday, which would be a sad ending to an amazing run for Teixeira. There are also plenty of challenges awaiting the winner.
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship: (C) Valentina Shevchenko vs. #4 Taila Santos
Overall Records: Shevchenko 22-3, Santos 19-1
UFC Records: Shevchenko 11-2, Santos 4-1
Last Fight: Shevchenko def. Murphy (title fight)–R4 TKO–UFC 266 (9/25/21), Santos def. Wood–R1 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 56 (11/20/21)
Last Five Fights: Shevchenko 5-0, Santos 4-1
Betting Odds: Shevchenko -630, Santos +450
Background: The UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship is on the line in the co-main event with one of the most dominant champions in UFC history looks to continue her reign at top as Shevchenko makes her seventh title defense against the fast-rising Santos. Shevchenko is coming into this fight undefeated at 125 lbs. with eight straight wins, and five finishes during that streak, which has seen her vault to the top of the women’s pound-for-pound rankings. She’s coming off a fourth-round finish of Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 in September in a dominant showing, and has shown no signs of letting up as the top of the flyweight division. She’s been flirting with the idea of going back up to bantamweight and trying to become a two-division champion, but Santos is looking to stop that from happening and end the dominance Shevchenko has shown. Santos comes into this fight with an impressive 19-1 record. She started her career with 15 straight wins to lead to her signing a UFC deal after scoring a win on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil. Her debut inside the Octagon didn’t go as planned, as she dropped a split decision to Mara Romero Borella in February 2019, but she’s rebounded with four straight wins. She earned this title shot on the heels of a first-round submission of Joanne Wood in November.
How they match up: Shevchenko is probably the most dangerous female striker in the world, but she is also arguably the most cautious one, which makes the danger factor in fighting her even worse for foes. She is incredibly patient, but when she pulls the trigger, it can lead to dangerous happenings. With all of her skill on the feet, where Shevchenko might be the most dangerous is with her clinch work and her wrestling. She likes to grab the clinch and get quick takedowns from there, and being on the mat with her tends to not end well. Santos does have strong takedown defense, but she has yet to fight anyone even close to the skill level of the champion. Santos does have decent skills on the feet and on the mat, but the fighters she’s faced just haven’t had the athletic level that can even come close to being equal to Shevchenko, and this feels like a matter of just seeing how much she can hang with the champion and learning for a potential rematch in the future. Shevchenko is just going to pick her apart on the feet, and when she takes it to the mat, it’ll likely be some brutal ground-and-pound, especially in a crucifix position, that ends it. Shevchenko is going to eventually lose the title, but now doesn’t feel like it’ll be the time.
What’s at stake: It’s hard to pick against Shevchenko, and I don’t see any reason her reign of dominance would end here. Santos is a legitimate challenger, but her win streak hasn’t had impressive wins outside of the Wood win. There’s some solid challenges waiting in the wings for Shevchenko should she win, and the thought of going for the bantamweight title is going to be there as well. If Santos pulls off the massive upset, I’m sure there will be an immediate rematch, but I just don’t see it happening.
Women’s Strawweights: #2 Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Overall Records: Weili 21-3, Jedrzejczyk 16-4
UFC Records: Weili 5-2, Jedrzejczyk 10-4
Last Fight: Namajunas def. Weili (title fight)–SpDec–UFC 268 (11/6/21), Weili def. Jedrzejczyk (title fight)–SpDec–UFC 248 (3/7/20)
Last Five Fights: Weili 3-2, Jedrzejczyk 2-3
Betting Odds: Weili -160, Jedrzejczyk +140
Background: Arguably the best women’s fight in UFC history, and one of the all-time great fights in company history, gets run back here with rounds six, seven and eight as former strawweight champions Weili and Jedrzejczyk meet in a rematch more than two years in the making. These two fought with the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship on the line at UFC 248 in March 2020 in an epic five-round battle that saw Jedrzejczyk grow another forehead and Weili escape with a split decision win to remain the champion. Things haven’t gone well for her since as she dropped the title to Rose Namajunas in her next fight just over a year later at UFC 261 in April 2021, then lost the rematch to Namajunas by split decision at UFC 268 in November. She’s looking to get back into the win column and has scored 17 of her 21 wins via a finish. Jedrzejczyk hasn’t fought since that fight in March 2020, but she comes into this bout with a new contract and renewed focus on making a run at regaining the strawweight title she once held. She was the queen at 115 lbs. for years, racking up a perfect 14-0 record. She beat Carla Esparza at UFC 185 in March 2015 to win the strawweight title and made five title defenses before losing it to the aforementioned Namajunas in November 2017. Jedrzejczyk is just 2-4 in her last six fights, but a win gets her right back in the mix.
How they match up: I really doubt the rematch lives up to the level of the original, but, if it somehow does, we are in for something special. Even though it’s been 27 months since she’s fought, at her best, Jedrzejczyk is a high-volume striker who mixes everything well. She lands sharp combinations and has solid leg kicks. That high-volume style assures that Weili is going to have her moments to land. Weili is a very solid technical kickboxer with power in her hands, and she has some decent wrestling and underrated submission skills. Jedrzejczyk doesn’t really rely on any sort of wrestling, but she has always been decent at it when need be, and she has a strong 80% takedown defense rate. Jedrzejczyk is the better kicker and Weili should let her kick whenever she wants as it will leave her open to shots from Weili. Jedrzejczyk is going to have to give Weili some different looks and hope that she can confuse Weili on the feet. This is a very close fight on paper and a fight that could still go either way. Jedrzejczyk’s time off could be either a good thing or a bad thing. If she shows no rust and that she’s a fresh fighter, I do see her squeaking out a decision win. I think the motivation is there, especially with the new contract. This is a real toss-up fight, but I like Jedrzejczyk to get the decision.
What’s at stake: Dana White has already confirmed that the winner would get the next title shot at new UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza. It makes sense due to the fact that both of these women are former champions who are marketable. I always figured Jedrzejczyk would get a shot with a win, especially given the circumstances of Esparza now being the champion once again, seeing as she beat Esparza for the title the first time they fought. Weili has the China influence behind her, and it would be quick getting her back into a title fight, but it makes sense, and poor Marina Rodriguez at that. This is a fight with major stakes involved.
Flyweights: #8 Rogerio Bontorin vs. #14 Manel Kape
Overall Records: Bontorin 17-4 2 NC, Kape 17-6
UFC Records: Bontorin 2-3 1 NC, Kape 2-2
Last Fight: Royval def. Bontorin–SpDec–UFC On ESPN 32 (1/15/22), Kape def. Zhumagulov–R1 TKO–UFC On ESPN 31 (12/4/21)
Last Five Fights: Bontorin 1-3 1 NC, Kape 3-2
Betting Odds: Bontorin +185, Kape -225
Background: A flyweight bout featuring one fighter trying to end a winless skid against a fighter trying to break into the title picture takes place here as Bontorin tries to get back into the win column against Kape. Bontorin comes into this fight officially winless in his last four fights dating back to August 2019. He has three losses and a no contest during that time frame, which the no contest was originally a win until he tested positive in a pre-fight drug test. He’s coming off a split decision loss to Brandon Royval in January. 14 of his 16 wins have seen Bontorin score a finish. Kape comes into this fight looking to break into the title picture on the heels of two straight wins. He was expected to be a title contender the moment he signed his UFC deal, but he started off with two straight losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau that could’ve gone his way. He’s bounced back with first-round finishes over Ode Osbourne and Zhalgas Zhumagulov. He was supposed to fight in April, but some issues with USADA forced him out, and he’ll be looking for his 17th finish in this one.
How they match up: Kape is kind of an enigma but his rise is something to keep an eye on. He is explosive, but at the same time, he often has a low-volume approach. He lands nearly five significant strikes per minute, though, which is almost double the amount of Bontorin. Bontorin is strong and fast and likes to fight at a quick pace, but he won’t be able to match the striking of Kape, especially the technical striking. Bontorin tends to continue to march forward during his fights while eating shots from his opponent, but an approach like that is going to cost him in this one, as it has in the past. Bontorin does have good wrestling and a good submission game, but Kape is plenty capable as a wrestler and defends 80% of takedowns attempted on him. Kape also has the ability to catch Bontorin with a hard punch off a clinch break or a scramble. Bontorin’s best path to winning is to hope Kape simply doesn’t show up to the fight. This has all of the makings of another first-round finish for Kape.
What’s at stake: A loss for Bontorin wouldn’t be good and could signal the end of his time on the roster, for now at least. It would be five fights without an official win, and not many get to hang around on a skid like that. Luckily, for him, they would all be to ranked competition, which may get him an extended leash. He needs a win here. Kape was expected to fight for the flyweight title some day, and the hopes had a speed bump with the two losses to start his UFC run. He’s bounced back nicely and would like to keep the momentum going, and a loss could end any hopes he has for a UFC title run.
Welterweights: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev
Overall Records: Maddalena 11-2, Emeev 20-5
UFC Records: Maddalena 1-0, Emeev 5-2
Last Fight: Maddalena def. Rodriguez–R1 TKO–UFC 270 (1/22/22), Roberts def. Emeev–SpDec–UFC On ESPN+ 53 (10/16/21)
Last Five Fights: Maddalena 5-0, Emeev 3-2
Betting Odds: Maddalena -155, Emeev +135
Background: A welterweight bout takes place here featuring a solid prospect that is getting the promotional machine behind him in Maddalena as he takes on tough veteran Emeev. Maddalena started his professional career with two straight losses, but he’s since scored eleven straight wins. He earned his UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in September, and backed that up with a first-round knockout of Pete Rodriguez in his UFC debut at UFC 270 in January. Ten of his eleven wins have been stoppages with nine wins coming by knockout. Emeev is looking to get back into the win column in this one. He started his career with a solid 18-3 record, which included wins in his first three UFC outings. However, he’s just 2-2 over his last four, with losses to Anthony Rocco Martin and Danny Roberts sandwiching wins over Niklas Stolze and David Zawada. The Roberts loss was the last time he was in action, which was in October. Emeev has gone the distance in all seven of his UFC outings as he looks for his first finish in over six years.
How they match up: Maddalena is an exciting fighter and Emeev, well, is not an exciting fighter. Emeev has strong wrestling and is a solid kickboxer but he’s not going to be able to match Maddalena’s skill on the feet. Emeev does have good footwork and kicks, and if he uses his feints right, he could lure Maddalena into throwing something that leads to a takedown. Maddalena’s wrestling defense seems to be the biggest concern for him and is something that is going to have to improve if he’s going to compete in the welterweight division. The good thing for Maddalena in this one is he’s all action and is constantly on offense on the feet, while Emeev will clinch and have long periods of doing nothing. Maddalena should look to control the striking, as if he’s able to, Emeev’s wrestling will become less of a threat. Emeev has the chance to land some powerful strikes as Maddalena tries to turn it into a brawl, but it’ll be the aggression and volume of Maddalena that makes the difference as he wins the decision.
What’s at stake: This is a tough match-up for Maddalena, especially in just his second UFC fight, but if he can get past this one, he’ll be rising up the welterweight rankings pretty quickly. He has a lot of potential and often has exciting fights, though that may be hard to pull off against Emeev. Emeev doesn’t feel like a threat to contenders right now, and he might only best be used as a card filler. He is good enough to end hopes of prospects, something Maddalena has to avoid here. There is definitely more at stake for Maddalena.
Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN2 & ESPN+
Middleweights: Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun
Overall Records: Allen 18-5, Malkoun 6-1
UFC Records: Allen 6-2, Malkoun 2-1
Last Fight: Allen def. Alvey–R2 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 58 (2/5/22), Malkoun def. Dobson–UDec–UFC 271 (2/12/22)
Last Five Fights: Allen 3-2, Malkoun 4-1
Betting Odds: Allen -320, Malkoun +250
Background: A middleweight bout caps off all of the preliminary action and it features a fighter in Allen who is trying to get himself into the rankings and against stiffer competition, but against an opponent he shouldn’t overlook in Malkoun. Allen came into his UFC deal after earning it with a win over Aaron Jeffery on Dana White’s Contender Series in July 2019 and he’s won six of his eight UFC outings thus far. He started off with three straight wins, putting his win streak at seven straight, before suffering a second-round knockout loss to Sean Strickland. He bounced back with two straight wins before another second-round knockout loss, this time to Chris Curtis in December. He made a quick turnaround and won a decision over Sam Alvey in February in a fight he took on just a few days’ notice. 15 of his 18 wins have come by a finish. Malkoun is a teammate of Robert Whittaker and generally only fights when Whittaker does. Whittaker was supposed to fight on this card, but was forced out, but Malkoun and his team decided to remain on the card here as he looks to score his third straight win. He debuted inside the Octagon in October 2020 with a loss to Phil Hawes, the only blemish on his record, but has come back with two straight wins over Abdul Razak Alhassan and AJ Fletcher.
How they match up: Allen is going to have a solid five inches in height and two inches in reach over Malkoun, which will come in handy. Malkoun has some decent boxing, but he’s seemed to abandon it and rely on takedowns and working on the mat in his recent fights. He has 14 takedowns in his last two fights. Allen has an effective grappling game and I just don’t see Malkoun being able to keep him down for long periods of time even if he’s able to score the takedown. Allen’s chin has been a question mark but he isn’t as hittable as Malkoun is and I don’t see Malkoun landing the same kind of shots on Allen as Chris Curtis did. Allen will likely control the pace with his reach on the feet and keep himself upright and away from Malkoun’s takedowns. It ends up going the distance, but Allen’s hand will be raised at the end of the night.
What’s at stake: Allen has the veteran experience since he has more UFC fights than Malkoun has career fights. Allen was wanting on this card and got his wish, even if against a lower-ranked opponent, but Malkoun is a tough opponent regardless. Allen needs a win her if he’s going to remain in the title picture. A third straight win and a win over Allen might feel like an over achievement for Malkoun, but he’s got the potential to back up his skills. He’s still only 26, so there’s plenty of upside towards him.
Featherweights: Seungwoo Choi vs. Josh Culibao
Overall Records: Choi 10-4, Culibao 9-1-1
UFC Records: Choi 3-3, Culibao 1-1-1
Last Fight: Caceres def. Choi–R2 SUB–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21), Culibao def. Nuerdanbieke–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 46 (5/22/21)
Last Five Fights: Choi 3-2, Culibao 3-1-1
Betting Odds: Choi -235, Culibao +190
Background: A featherweight clash between two men looking to move up the rankings takes place here as Choi looks to get back into the win column against Culibao. Choi comes into this fight looking to erase the sting of a disappointing loss in his last fight. He had a point taken away for an illegal knee during the fight, but it didn’t matter in the end as he was submitted by Alex Caceres in the second round in October. That ended a three-fight win streak that put him close to being ranked, and he looks to start a new run here. Culibao fights for the fourth time since his UFC signing, and his first three fights have seen a little bit of everything. He debuted with a perfect 8–0 record, but suffered the lone loss of his career in his debut, a second-round knockout at the hands of Jalin Turner in February 2020. He then fought to a split draw with Charles Jourdain in his next fight in October 2020 before finally getting into UFC’s win column with a decision win over Shayilan Nuerdanbieke in his last fight in May 2021. After more than a year off, he looks to get a win streak going.
How they match up: This should be an entertaining fight, and one that I expect to play out on the feet. Choi has shown marked improvement in his striking, especially in his last fight against Caceres, but he still lacks in the grappling department. Luckily for him, he has a dance partner willing to trade on the feet in Culibao. They’re pretty even when it comes to landing on the feet with Culibao being a little more accurate. Culibao also has better striking defense, though he does get hit more often than Choi does. Even though Culibao has yet to score a takedown during his three UFC outings, it would be wise for him to shoot for them and work the wrestling with it being the weakness for Choi. However, I don’t see it happening and Choi’s tendency to head hunt will see him tag Culibao with a hard shot early on and get the early finish.
What’s at stake: This is a pivotal bout for the future of both men. While Choi did enjoy that three-fight win streak recently, he’s only 3–3 during his UFC run, and a loss could signal the end of it, or put him close to the chopping block. A win guarantees his future. The same can be said for Culibao, who likely enters the final fight of an original four-fight deal. A win guarantees his future, but a loss would see him with just one win in four UFC outings, and that might not be enough to secure a new contract with the upcoming influx of new talent.
Lightweights: Hayisaer Maheshate vs. Steve Garcia
Overall Records: Maheshate 6-1, Garcia 12-4
UFC Records: Maheshate 0-0, Garcia 1-1
Last Fight: Maheshate def. Estremadura–UDec–Dana White’s Contender Series 46 (11/2/21), Garcia def. Ontiveros–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN+ 52 (10/9/21)
Last Five Fights: Maheshate 5-0, Garcia 4-1
Betting Odds: Maheshate +155, Garcia -180
Background: A lightweight contest featuring a debuting Chinese fighter with a lot of hype takes place here as the debuting Maheshate looks to kick start his UFC career in good fashion against Garcia. Maheshate earned his contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in November after scoring a decision over Achilles Estremadura, which put his win streak at six straight following a loss to start his career. He’s only seven fights into his career, but he’s 22-years-old and an exciting fighter and just the type of Chinese prospect they’ve been looking for. Garcia is a veteran who will be making his third appearance inside the Octagon. He’s 1-1 during his first two outings, with his debut being a decision loss to Luis Pena, but he rebounded with a second-round knockout of Charlie Ontiveros in his most recent fight in October. Garcia has been around the sport for some time, including a seven-fight stint with Bellator, and nine of his 12 career wins have come by knockout.
How they match up: Garcia has the experience edge in this one, and he will also enjoy a nice reach advantage to go along with an aggression edge. Maheshate is a raw prospect who has shown he can overcome early adversity, but I don’t think he has the durability that Garcia has. Garcia doesn’t have the one-punch finishing power, but instead he relies on wearing opponents down with volume to score the finish. Maheshate has good counter striking, but he also doesn’t have much in the way of finishing power. Garcia also has the ability to mix it up and look for the takedown and we don’t know how Maheshate is going to fair in the wrestling department, just because he hasn’t had to show it off yet. It’s a big step up in competition for Maheshate, and it likely won’t work out for him as the size and aggression of Garcia will see him finishing Maheshate off in the middle of the fight.
What’s at stake: The hope is for Maheshate to get an impressive win so they can start building him as their next Chinese star. He doesn’t have an easy task in front of him as Garcia has plenty of experience, but a win for Maheshate would be a big deal and show he’s UFC ready. They do need to be careful in booking him as he gains experience, though, regardless of outcome. For Garcia, he wants to be the first to derail the Maheshate hype train, and his UFC future could depend on it. He’ll likely get a new deal with a win, but a loss would put him in a must-win situation for his next fight.
Welterweights: Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews
Overall Records: Fialho 16-4 1 NC, Matthews 17-5
UFC Records: Fialho 2-1, Matthews 10-5
Last Fight: Fialho def. VanCamp–R1 KO–UFC 274 (5/7/22), Brady def. Matthews–R3 SUB–UFC 259 (3/5/21)
Last Five Fights: Fialho 4-1, Matthews 3-2
Betting Odds: Fialho -145, Matthews +125
Background: Arguably the busiest fighter on the roster, at least as of right now in the time of June 2022, returns quickly to action as Fialho looks to continue his winning ways against tough kid Matthews in this welterweight bout. Fialho is fighting for already the fourth time in 2022 as he looks to score his third straight win. He debuted on short notice in January, dropping a decision to Michel Pereira at UFC 270. He then made a quick turnaround on a short training camp as a replacement against Miguel Baeza in April, where he scored a first-round knockout. He then fought less than a month later, scoring another first-round knockout, this time of Cameron Van Camp at UFC 274 in May. He asked to fight again on this card, which will be his third fight in eight weeks. Matthews is fighting for the first time since UFC 259 in March 2021, where he suffered a third-round submission loss to Sean Brady, which ended a three-fight win streak. For comparison, Fialho has fought six times since the last time Matthews fought. Matthews has been fighting inside the Octagon since he was 19, and even though he’s been around since June 2014, he’s still just 27-years-old, and looked to be at his best when he had a run of six wins in seven fights before the loss to Brady. Matthews has scored eleven of his 17 wins by finish.
How they match up: Fialho’s activity will catch up to him, it’s just a matter of if this is the fight. He has vicious knockout power in his hands but he can also be cracked as VanCamp showed. Matthews isn’t known for his power, but he is very good at avoiding being hit on the feet and could lure Fialho into throwing some crazy punches that set up a takedown. Fialho is going to have to neutralize the wrestling of Matthews. Matthews is also very durable and Fialho tends to fade pretty quickly, and with fighting so often, his cardio and gas tank is going to need to be watched. He might not be able to go much past the first round. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Matthews. If this fight ends inside the first five minutes, it’s very likely it will be with Fialho’s hand raised. However, anything going past the first round starts to swing things in the favor of Matthews, and a 15-minute fight should see Matthews getting the nod on the scorecards. I see Matthews weathering the storm with his durability and gassing Fialho out with having to defend takedowns as Matthews scores the decision.
What’s at stake: Fialho wants to keep his impressive run going, and if he wins, he likely will be talking about wanting to fight again in July. There’s nothing wrong with that, and UFC brass love when fighters want to constantly fight, but there’s going to come a time when the constant fighting and training catches up to a fighter—there’s been too many cases of it happening. This could be the fight where it all catches up to him. Matthews had shown that he was ready to finally breaking into that upper echelon at 170 lbs. prior to the Brady loss, but a win here gets him back on track and would be a quality win. He isn’t going anywhere with a loss, so he has nothing to really worry about on that end. This should be a very good fight.
Early Preliminary Card
Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. PT
Where to watch: ESPN+
Bantamweights: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Danaa Batgerel
Overall Records: Kang 17-9 1 NC, Batgerel 12-3
UFC Records: Kang 6-3 1 NC, Batgerel 3-2
Last Fight: Yahya def. Kang–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 56 (11/20/21), Gutierrez def. Batgerel–R2 TKO–UFC On ESPN 33 (3/26/22)
Last Five Fights: Kang 3-2, Batgerel 3-2
Betting Odds: Kang +120, Batgerel -140
Background: A bantamweight bout between two Asian fighters takes place here as Kang fights replacement Batgerel in this prelim bout. Batgerel is taking this fight with an abbreviated training camp as he stepped in for Saimon Oliveira in late April after Oliveira was forced out of the bout. Kang is fighting for the 11th time inside the Octagon and is looking to get back into the win column. He started his UFC career off with two wins in his first four fights before having to serve his mandatory military service in South Korea, and has gone 4–2 in his six fights since his return in January 2018. He’s only fought once since December 2019, which was a decision loss to Rani Yahya in November. Kang has scored 13 of his 17 wins by stoppage, with eleven by submission. Batgerel is making a quick turnaround after being knocked out in the second round by Chris Gutierrez in late March. That ended Batgerel’s three-fight win streak, which saw him score first-round knockouts of Guido Cannetti, Kevin Natividad and Brandon Davis. Batgerel has scored ten of his 12 wins via a finish, with eight coming by knockout.
How they match up: This should be a fairly entertaining battle between two aggressive fighters. Kang has been hampered by inactivity, which has slowed all of the momentum he’s gained during his UFC tenure. Batgerel comes out blitzing with his striking and has shown to be a potent finisher early in fights, but if he can’t get the finish in the first, he slows down and is able to get picked apart. Kang is a guy who can go the full distance with no issues and he has strong wrestling, which is an area Batgerel has struggled in. Kang will have to eat some shots, but he has some good durability and he can walk through the shots while using them to set up his wrestling and grappling. Kang hasn’t been finished with strikes in over a decade, and I don’t see that changing here. I see Kang winning a decision after a grinding affair.
What’s at stake: Neither fighter wants to go on a two-fight losing skid, so getting back into the win column is what’s mainly at stake here. I don’t see either going anywhere with a loss, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if something happened there. This is just a standard prelim bout between two Asian fighters on a card in Asia that has no real significance to much in the division.
Women’s Strawweights: Liang Na vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez
Overall Records: Na 19-5, Juarez 10-4
UFC Records: Na 0-1, Juarez 0-2
Last Fight: Carnelossi def. Na–R2 TKO–UFC 261 (4/24/21), Demopoulos def. Juarez–R1 SUB–UFC 270 (1/22/22)
Last Five Fights: Na 4-1, Juarez 3-2
Betting Odds: Na +120, Juarez -140
Background: A strawweight bout featuring two women both in search of their first UFC win takes place here as Na returns from a long layoff to battle Juarez. Na is fighting for the first time since her UFC debut at UFC 261 in April 2021. She suffered a second-round TKO loss at the hands of Ariane Carnelossi in that fight, which was one of the more entertaining fights on the card. It ended her five-fight win streak, and she looks to get back on track here. Of her 19 career wins, 17 have been by stoppage, with six knockouts and eleven submissions. Juarez is making her third UFC appearance as she searches for her first win. She’s suffered first-round submission losses, both by armbar, in her two outings against Lupita Godinez and, most recently in January, Vanessa Demopoulos. Juarez has scored eight of her ten wins by finish, with six knockouts and two submissions.
How they match up: Na’s game is entirely about approaching quickly and looking for a takedown to set up a submission. With that, this looks like an entirely favorable match-up for her considering Juarez’ first two UFC outings have seen her submitted in the first round. Juarez needs to keep it standing and let her power take it over. Na is accurate with her striking but she does tend to get hit a lot and has not shown much striking defense. Na does have questionable conditioning as well and if Juarez can avoid being submitted inside the first five minutes, this becomes a winnable fight for her as it goes on. However, I don’t see Na having any issues getting Juarez to the ground, and Na’s best submission has proven to be Juarez’ downfall, and that being the armbar. I see another first-round submission loss coming for Juarez and Na picking up the win.
What’s at stake: A first UFC win is at stake in this one, and someone will walk away with their hand raised for the first time inside the Octagon. Juarez kind of needs it to be her as a third straight loss could signal receiving her release papers. A win would get her that fourth UFC fight. Na might not need a win as badly as she’s Chinese and they want Chinese fighters, but an 0-2 start wouldn’t be good for her. She could really use the win at the end of the night.
Women’s Featherweights: Ramona Pascual vs. Joselyne Edwards
Overall Records: Pascual 6-3, Edwards 10-4
UFC Records: Pascual 0-1, Edwards 1-2
Last Fight: Nunes def. Pascual–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 60 (2/26/22), Clark def. Edwards–UDec–UFC On ESPN+ 54 (10/23/21)
Last Five Fights: Pascual 4-1, Edwards 2-3
Betting Odds: Pascual +135, Edwards -155
Background: The opening bout on the card is a rare fight that takes place in the women’s featherweight division and features two women who are in need of a win for their futures as Pascual searches for her first UFC win against Edwards. Pascual is fighting for the second time inside the Octagon, but for the first time with a full training camp. She is coming off a decision loss to Josiane Nunes in her UFC debut in February, a fight she took on very short notice. This will already be her third fight of 2022, and that loss ended a four-fight win streak she was on. She has scored five of her six wins via a finish. Edwards is fighting for the first time in 2022 after fighting three times in 2021, all of which came inside the Octagon. She made her UFC debut in January 2021, scoring a decision over Wu Yanan, but has dropped her last two fights, losing decisions to Karol Rosa and Jessica-Rose Clark. Eight of her ten professional wins have come by stoppage.
How they match up: Edwards is going to have four inches in reach on Pascual, and that will be something she needs to utilize. She’s going to need to use that reach to keep Pascual away from her wrestling game, which is her best path to winning. Pascual has an all-offense approach, but she tends to get hit way more than she lands, and she doesn’t have the best gas tank in the world. Edwards has good speed and technique on the feet, is more accurate and has better defense. It’ll just come down to if she can defend the wrestling of Pascual. Edwards only has a 47% takedown defense rate and has been taken down ten times during her three UFC fights. I’m not expecting a great fight, or even a very good one, but I see Edwards being too tough for Pascual to take down, and Edwards winning it on the feet.
What’s at stake: Both of these women could be fighting for their UFC futures here. With this one taking place at featherweight, and the fact the division is basically non-existent, it becomes even more imperative for a win for both. Pascual hasn’t fought at bantamweight in years, while Edwards’ entire UFC run has been at bantamweight. A loss for Pascual would likely see her gone, while a win leaves a question mark. Edwards is likely on the final fight of her first UFC deal, and a loss would be three straight and a 1–3 record. It would be hard to see her getting a new deal without a win.