Cannonier vs. Gastelum

Six Under-The-Radar Storylines For UFC on ESPN: Cannonier vs. Gastelum

After a week off, the UFC returns to the UFC Apex, and they are bringing a big middleweight fight. We were originally supposed to have Jared Cannonier vs. Paulo Costa. But, unfortunately, Costa pulled out. It is what it is because now we have Kelvin Gastelum vs. Cannonier, which should be fun. However, if you look past the main event, there are some under-the-radar storylines.

Mark O. Madsen is back

The former Olympian is back in the octagon this weekend after a somewhat lengthy layoff. He was last seen at UFC 248, the last pay-per-view with fans before the global pandemic. Madsen is 2-0 in the UFC and will be fighting a UFC legend in Clay Guida in the co-main event of the evening. At 36-years old, the clock may not be on his side, and it is a shame he didn’t make it UFC a little sooner but let’s enjoy him while he’s still here because he is a former silver medalist in the Olympics, something only a handful of MMA fighters can boast.

The Return of Ramiz Brahimaj

Another returning fighter is Ramiz Brahimaj, who hasn’t been in action since his ear was almost detached from his head last November. The Fortis MMA product has a 100% finish rate with eight submissions. He faces Sasha Palatnikov, who is looking to bounce back from a loss himself. This fight kicks off the UFC Vegas 34 fight card and should be entertaining as both fighters are hungrier than ever.

Factory X vs. Elevation Fight Team

Two of the most prominent Colorado gyms will be going at it this weekend. The Ultimate Fighter season 15 veteran Vinc Pichel of Factory X takes on Austin Hubbard of Elevation Fight Team. Both gyms have some of the most talented fighters in MMA, and there is always tension when they go up against each other. Pichel is riding a two-fight win streak with wins over Roosevelt Roberts and Jim Miller while Hubbard got back into the win column in his last fight against Dakota Bush.

Banger of the Week

The best fight on the fight card is also the banger of the week. The No. 3 ranked flyweight Alexandre Pantoja takes on No. 6 ranked Brandon Royval. The winner of this fight could easily fight for the title next. Both Pantonja and Royval have a history with the champion, Brandon Moreno as well. Pantoja defeated Moreno in 2018 via unanimous decision, and Royval fought Moreno in his most recent fight, losing via TKO. This is also Royval’s first fight back since injuring his shoulder, which required surgery.

Welcome to the UFC

Josiane Nunes makes her debut against Bea Malecki. The Brazilian is riding a six-fight winning streak with five of those wins by stoppage. She is coming to make a statement. We were supposed to see her make her debut in April against Zarah Fairn; however, the fight was scrapped when Fairn missed weight by 11 pounds. Yes, 11 pounds. Saidyokub Kakharamonov also makes his UFC debut on short notice as he replaces Mana Martinez and will fight Trevin Jones. The Uzbekistan fighter is 8-2 with five finishes and is riding a two-fight win streak. He was the first man to defeat prospect Askar Askar when he knocked him out in 39 seconds. Kakharamonov vs. Jones could have easily been another choice for banger of the week.

Must Win

There is only one fighter on this weekend’s card on a two-fight losing streak and possibly fighting for his job, Roosevelt Roberts. After starting his UFC career 2-0 in 2018-19, “The Predator” has fallen on hard times. He fought three times in 2020, going 1-2, with both losses coming in the first round by submission. While he is only 27-years old, the dreaded 0-3 in your last three fights usually gets you cut.

Quick Hits

  • Brian ‘Boom’ Kelleher is back
  • Second UFC appearances for Ignacio Bahamondes and Luis Saldana
  • New England vs. New England – William Knight vs. Fabio Cherant



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