UFC 264 has a few hidden gems
The UFC is back on pay-per-view this week, and it is a big one. You could say it’s the biggest fight of the year thus far as Conor McGregor is back, and he is fighting Dustin Poirier in the trilogy. In the co-main event, Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns fight in a very important in the welterweight division. However, if you look past the main and co-main event of UFC 264, there are some under the radar storylines.
Dricus Du Plessis’ second fight
Du Plessis returns for his second UFC fight against Trevin Giles. The South African made his UFC debut last year on ‘Fight Island’ against Markus Perez, and it took him less than four minutes to finish him. Du Plessis has a 100% finish rate – nine submissions and six knockouts. In fact, he has never seen a judge’s scorecard; he finishes you or gets finished. He is a former EFC and KSW champion and is must-watch television. A win over Giles would be a great addition to his resume.
Michel Pereira vs. Niko Price
The UFC matchmakers have been on absolute fire this year, and every single card, there has been a fight that you circle and think, “Man, this is going to be violent.” Well, this is that fight. Both Pereira and Price are absolute madmen. They have 31 finishes between them. Pereira is riding a two-fight win streak with wins over Khaos Williams and Zelim Imadaev. Price is coming off a draw that was overturned to a no-contest because…weed. The other huge factor in this fight is that they will be in front of a crowd, and both fighters feed off the live crowd’s energy. I have no idea who will win but just know; it will be violent.
The Return Of The Wizard and El Matador
Ryan Hall is finally back. He has not competed in almost two years. The last time he was in action was a unanimous decision win over Darren Elkins. Injuries have plagued Hall. He was scheduled to fight Ricardo Lamas last yea and then and Dan Ige in March. The man that he is fighting is a young, hungry, very talented Georgian fighter. Ilia Topuria is the real deal. Topuria went to his first decision last year against Youssef Zalal. Before that decision victory, he had a 100% finish rate with eight submissions and one knockout. While Hall will be the best submission artist the young fighter has ever fought, Topuria is no slouch on the ground. This is one of the most intriguing fights on the card.
Top Five Women Bantamweights
The second fight on the PPV is between the No. 4 ranked bantamweight Irene Aldana and No. 5 Yana Kunitskaya. The bantamweight title picture is a sloppy mess right now; however, a dominant win by either of these fighters could move them to the front of the line because champion Amanda Nunes is fighting Juliana Pena, who is coming off a single win. Aldana is coming off a dominant loss to former champion Holly Holm, and Kunitskaya is riding a two-fight win streak. A win for either woman will definitely put them in line to fight Nunes.
The first four fighters on the prelims are fighting for their job and must get a win. Alen Amedovski and his opponent Yaozong Hu are riding a two-fight losing streak. They both did not compete in 2020, and Yaozong is coming off a 10-month suspension. Jerome Rivera is getting the rare special treatment as he is riding a three-fight losing streak going into his fight with Zhalgas Zhumagulov. Rivera has been the ultimate company man, as he stepped up on short notice for two of his three UFC fights, thus why he is still in the promotion. His opponent Zhumagulov is riding a two-fight losing streak, losing both times on ‘Fight Island.’ The losers of these fights will be cut, so a lot is riding on the line.
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MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.