The UFC was supposed to be in London this weekend, but with COVID still around, back to Vegas they go. With that being said, UFC is back at the Apex; they are bringing us a big fight in the middleweight division. No. 5 ranked Derek Brunson fights No. 7 ranked Darren Till. The winner of this fight could quite possibly be on the brink of a title shot. However, if you look past the main event, there are some under-the-radar storylines.
Loser likely goes home
Modestas Bukauskas and Khalil Rountree Jr fight this weekend, and they are both in a must-win situation, with both fighters on two-fight losing streaks. Bukauskas and Rountree also could have easily won their last fight as well. (I personally think they won their last fights) Bukasuskas was victorious in his UFC debut but then was knocked out by Jimmy Crute and then lost a split decision to Michal Oleksiejczuk. In his interviews, the former Cage Warriors light heavyweight champion has said that he is in a ‘kill or be killed’ mindset. After putting on a master class performance against Eryk Anders in 2019, Rountree got knocked out by Ion Cutelaba and then lost a decision to Marcin Prachnio. For Roundtree, he is back at Syndicate MMA, with a team he desperately wanted. He flirted with retirement, but now he seems to have found his passion. This is a critical fight for both fighters as this could be their last fight in the UFC.
Paddy The Baddy
While this isn’t an under-the-radar storyline as Paddy Pimblett’s UFC debut will be one the most anticipated since Michael Chandler, he still is relatively unknown. Pimblett is a former Cage Warriors featherweight champion and has been a staple of that promotion since his fourth professional fight. He is a very entertaining fight and is fantastic on the mic, something the UFC always loves. While he is not Conor McGregor skill-wise, but trash talk? “The Baddy” is right up there. Pimblett has a tough test in his UFC debut, which will answer some questions. He faces Luigi Vendramini, who has a 100% rate and is very good on the feet. If Pimblett goes out and puts on a good performance and cuts a good promo, the UFC rocketship will be strapped to his back.
Now to someone who is criminally underpromoted, Jack “Tank” Shore. Shore is undefeated 14-0 and is 3-0 in the UFC. He went to the judge’s scorecards for the first time in his career in his last fight when he defeated Hunter Azure. Shore was originally scheduled against Said Nurmagomedov – a fight that would have really boosted him up in the eyes of the American fans and even the UFC, however Visa issues forced the bout to be scrapped. Instead, he now welcomes Liudvik Sholinian to the UFC. I said it last time I wrote about Shore, but this should be the last time he is featured on the prelims. He has a rabid following in the UK, a rabid following on Twitter and Instagram, and is one of the most talented fighters in the stacked bantamweight division. I believe the UFC knows what they have with Shore; they just have to promote him properly, something that should happen when he gets a ranked opponent in his next fight.
Banger of the week pt.1
Two fights will be absolute fireworks. Charles Jourdain vs. Julian Erosa is a ridiculous fight. Between the two of them, they have 33 finishes. Jourdain has a 100% finish rate and is coming off one a Fight of the Year contender. Canada has been kind of dry the past few years when it comes to MMA stars; Jourdain is their man-plus; he is only 25 years old. His opponent Erosa has been must-watch television since his return to the promotion. He burst onto the scene with an upset submission win over Sean Woodson and then knocked out Nate Landwehr in his next fight. Erosa was finished in his last fight against surging Seung Woo Choi. Jourdain vs. Erosa is bananas and will not be going to the judge’s scorecards.
Banger of the week pt.2
Marcelo Rojo vs. Jonathan Martinez kick off this 10-fight card. Rojo has never been in a boring fight. It is literally impossible. He has a 92% finish rate, only going to a single unanimous decision. Rojo was the second half of Jourdain’s Fight of the Year contender. The Argentinan fighter will be looking for his first UFC win, and if he does, he has one of the most unique celebrations in all of MMA. Martinez had his two-fight win streak snapped in his last outing as Davey Grant knocked him out. “The Dragon” brings it every single time and is very fun to watch. This fight should start the card out in a violent fashion.
Aspinall is coming off the biggest win of his career as he returns for his fourth UFC fight. He submitted MMA legend Andrei Arlovski when they fought in February. Aspinall is riding a six-fight win streak and has a 100% finish rate. He is currently ranked No. 13 in the heavyweight rankings. His opponent is Sergi Spivak, an opponent he has wanted for a while- he actually called him out in his UFC debut. It took 14 months, but he has got him. Aspinall is one of the biggest and brightest prospects in the heavyweight division. Everyone is very high on Ciryl Gane right now, deservedly so, but Aspinall is a name that people should start looking at as the next big thing.
MMA and Entertainment Journalist. Graduated from CSUN with a B.A in Journalism. I love MMA and have been watching consistently since 2004.