It’s UFC Fight Week, and UFC 191 has much in store for their fans with a title fight and potential title shot opportunities in the heavy and light heavy weight divisions.
UFC 191 will be at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday.
Let’s breakdown the card:
Nazareno Malegarie (23-3) vs. Joaquim Silva (7-0)
Both Malegarie and Silva were TUF Brazil 4 cast members and will be making their UFC debut in the evening’s opening bout. Malegarie is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, fighting out of Argentina. Of his 23 wins, Malegarie has used his grappling skills to accumulate 15 submission victories, and has also won five of his fights via TKO. Malegarie has never been finished in a fight. Silva is entering with an undefeated record and is also a black belt in BJJ as well as a decorated Muay Thai fighter. Silva has never allowed a fight go to the judges, with four wins via TKO and three via submission. Malegarie is the more experienced fighter and may have the edge on the ground, however Silva is no stranger in that department and may hold the edge with the striking.
Joe Riggs (40-16, 1 NC) vs. Ron Stallings (13-7)
Joe “Diesel” Riggs has been fighting for 15 years and entering his 58th fight, a very seasoned veteran. In his return to the UFC however, Riggs has struggled losing his last two fights to Ben Saunders and Patrick Cote. Ron Stallings earned Dana White’s (and many fans) respect when he stepped in on days notice to take on Uriah Hall in January 2015’s UFC Fight Night in Boston. Stallings would come up short, however return to the UFC with a full camp and earn his first UFC win over Justin Jones at UFC Fight Night 63 on April 4. Riggs will need to use his wrestling and heavy right hand to avoid a potential third loss in a row, and a possible roster cut.
Tiago dos Santos e Silva (19-5-2) vs. Clay Collard (14-6)
Silva and Collard both had previous performances they would love to forget and turn their luck around in this match. Silva suffered a first round knockout loss to Mike de la Torre at UFC Fight Night 61 while Collard lost a unanimous decision to Gabriel Benitez at UFC 188. Both fighters are good strikers but Collard has a wrestling background as well which he will try to utilize and control Silva and dominate on the ground and grind out a unanimous decision.
Jessica Andrade (13-4) vs. Raquel Pennington (5-5)
Andrade will look to make it back-to-back wins and continue her climb in the women’s bantamweight division when she faces Raquel Penington for a second time in the UFC. During their first encounter at UFC 171, Andrade (#13 bantamweight) got the split decision nod over Pennington. Pennington has been on a roller coaster in the UFC, winning one, losing one, several times over. If the pattern continues, Pennington will win this fight, but alas, that is not always the case, and Andrade holds the edge in this match with having the win from the first encounter and knowing what to expect.
Fransisco Rivera (11-4) vs. John Lineker (25-7)
This is a bantamweight brawl between two good strikers, both with success in their previous fights. Rivera needed only 21 seconds to put Alex Caceres away with strikes. Rivera (#12 bantamweight) overcame back-to-back losses against Takeya Mizugaki and Urijah Faber with his win over Caceres, and will look to put together a winning streak again and climb the bantamweight rankings. Rivera however will be facing Lineker, who will be now mandated to fight at bantamweight because of his previous failed weigh-ins at flyweight (last missing weight against Ian McCall). Lineker is also a great striker, having won 12 of his 25 fights via TKO. Lineker has won his last two fights Alptekin Ozkilic and Ian McCall, improving to 6-2 in the UFC. This will be a big fight for both fighters and a climb in rankings for the victor.
Paul Felder (10-1) vs. Ross Pearson (17-9)
Felder and Pearson look to return to their winning ways in this lightweight matchup. Felder was 10-0 until his last fight at UFC on Fox 16, when he lost to Edson Barboza via a controversial unanimous decision. Prior to his loss, Felder won a split decision in his UFC debut over Jason Saggo, followed by an impressive highlight reel-worthy TKO victory over Danny Castillo with a spinning backfist. Pearson is well rounded, having seven wins via TKO and five sumbission victories. Pearson lost his last bout to Evan Dunham by decision at UFC Fight Night 72, with his fight prior to that being an impressive TKO victory over Sam Stout. Neither fighter is in the top 15 lightweight as the division is quite stacked, however a win here could potentially place them in it.
Paige VanZant (5-1) vs. Alex Chambers (5-2)
The second women’s bout of the night is a strawweight bout between seventh ranked Paige VanZant and Alex Chambers. Chambers made an impressive UFC debut with a submission vitory (arm bar) over Kailin Curran at UFC Fight Night 65. VanZant has been on a tear in the UFC as well, winning all three of her fights, with her last victory over Fellice Herrig at UFC on Fox 15. VanZant looks to make it four straight wins with a potential title shot looming. Chambers will not be a walk-through however and could play spoiler and pull off an upset. This will be a a very technical fight and could go the distance.
Corey Anderson (5-1) vs Jan Blachowicz (18-4)
Both Anderson and Blachowicz will look to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time in their careers. Anderson suffered his first professional MMA loss to Gian Villante by TKO at UFC on Fox 15. Anderson was undefeated until that fight, including a 2-0 record in the UFC. Blachowicz (#12 light heavyweight) made a very impressive UFC debut by scoring a TKO victory over Ilir Latifi at UFC Fight Night 53. Blachowicz had a six-fight winning streak at hand until falling to Jimi Manuwa via decision at UFC Fight Night 64. Blachowicz is very well rounded with his jiu jitsu and muay thai experience, and will need to fend off Anderson’s wrestling skills and look for the TKO and continue his climb in the light heavyweight rankings.
Anthony Johnson (19-5) vs. Jimi Manuwa (15-1)
This will be a potential fight of the night between two nightmarish strikers in Johnson (#1 ranked light heavyweight) and Manuwa (#7 ranked light heavyweight). Johnson has 13 TKO victories over a very impressive list of fighters, including Alexander Gustafsson and Antonio Rogerio Noguiera. Johnson last fought for the light heavyweight title against newly crowned champion Daniel Cormier, losing via submission in the third round. Johnson didn’t seem to let his fists fly as much, as he was concerned with Cormier’s takedowns and wrestling abilities. Manuwa has 13 of his 15 victories coming by way of TKO, an his sole loss is to Alexander Gustafsson. Manuwa rebounded from that loss with his win over Blachowicz. This fight could potentially have a TKO highlight reel spot for 2015, and the winner will most likely inch closer to a title shot. If Johnson wins, he may get another shot quicker, Manuwa may need one more win.
Andrei Arlovski (24-10) vs. Frank Mir (18-9)
The co-main event of the night is between former UFC heavyweight champions with a similar story: The rise, to the fall, to the resurrection of their respective MMA careers. At one point, Frank Mir suffered four straight UFC losses, and it seemed that retirement was imminent for the 36 year BJJ black belt. That would change over the course of Mir’s last two fights, as he would score vicious back-to-back highlight reel TKO wins over Antonio Silva and Todd Duffee. With his last two impressive wins, Mir is now the #10 ranked heavyweight, and putting together one last hurrah for a UFC title contention. Arlovski was once champion in the UFC as well, later going on to lose the title and eventually depart the UFC. He would suffer some big losses outside the UFC while he struggled. Not long thereafter he would rebound, and is currently on a five-fight winning streak, including a 3-0 run in his second UFC stint. What is more impressive is who he has defeated in his last two fights; TKO victories over Antonio Silva and Travis Browne. Arlovski is now the #4 ranked heavyweight and a win for him over Mir could land him a title shot. Both Mir and Arlovski are no strangers on the ground, with Arlovski a Sambo expert and Mir a BJJ blackbelt, and both fighters have very heavy hands. This fight could potentially end with a vicious TKO, or go the distance. Either way, this will be a fun fight to watch between two legends of the game.
Demetrious Johnson (22-2-1) vs. John Dodson (17-6)
The main event is for the flyweight title between familiar foes in the champion Johnson and contender Dodson. Johnson has been unstoppable and the king of the flyweights, no losses since 2011 when he fell to a decision against Dominick Cruz. In his reign, Johnson also defeated Dodson (#1 ranked flyweight) via decision back in 2013 at UFC on Fox 6. Since their last encounter, Dodson has won three in a row and has expressed his desires to have a rematch against the reigning champ. Dodson will try to use his speed and wrestling to get to Johnson, who is just simply well rounded. Johnson however is not undefeated, and like many other fighters who were dubbed “immortal” at one point in their career, eventually suffer to defeat. Will Dodson be the next to defeat a UFC champion? Can Dodson do what Weidman did to Anderson Silva? Or T.J. Dillashaw to Renan Barao? This is a crucial fight for Dodson because another loss could potentially hold Dodson back from another title shot if Johnson remains the champion, as there is not much interest in a trilogy fight if one fighter loses the first two fights.