The first meeting between UFC 211 headliners Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos in 2014 was an epic one. Will the rematch follow suit? Stylistically, the odds are in our favor, especially with Dos Santos going all-in again with his striking game. But will he be looking for a knockout from the start, or will this be the disciplined JDS that scored an impressive five-round win over Ben Rothwell in his most recent bout? Either way, “Cigano” will be in tough with a fighter who is confident and seemingly getting better with each bout, and at this point, Miocic looks like a tough man to beat.
JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK VS JESSICA ANDRADE
Being a world champion in the UFC means that there is no rest. There are no “easy” title defenses or time to take a breath. So strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk goes from tough five-rounders against Claudia Gadelha and Karolina Kowalkiewicz back into the fire to face Jessica Andrade. The Brazilian challenger has looked like a new fighter at 115 pounds, and she will be charging after Jedrzejczyk from the start. But that kind of pressure may work in the champion’s favor, as she will be able to unleash her striking in short bursts and then get out of range. On a card full of Fight of the Night candidates, don’t be surprised if this is the fight that earns those bonus checks.
DEMIAN MAIA VS JORGE MASVIDAL
Demian Maia has been a revelation in his move from middleweight to welterweight, and Saturday night might be when he finally puts the stamp on a world title shot. Of course, Jorge Masvidal has the same intention, and the no nonsense veteran is more confident than ever that he’s found the formula to erase his history of close decision losses and dominate each and every foe. Maia is not one to be dominated though, and if he can avoid Masvidal’s crisp strikes and get this to the mat, it’s a whole different ballgame.
FRANKIE EDGAR VS YAIR RODRIGUEZ
Who would have thought that the matchup between two of the nicest guys in MMA would be producing the most pre-fight heat? Well, at least from the side of Yair Rodriguez, who feels disrespected by Edgar, the former UFC lightweight champion and current featherweight contender. And hey, this is a big step up for “El Pantera,” but give him his just due for being willing to take that step so soon in his UFC career, and give the same to Edgar for taking the chance of losing his high ranking to the young gun from Mexico. Stylistically, this should be a fun one, as Rodriguez uses his flash against Edgar’s blue-collar attack, with the fighter who wants it more likely to get his hand raised. And these two both want it.
KRZYSZTOF JOTKO VS DAVID BRANCH
With a Henry Cejudo injury forcing him out of his bout against Sergio Pettis, this middleweight bout between Krzysztof Jotko and David Branch moves to the main card, and deservedly so. Jotko, at 19-1, is one of the most underrated fighters in MMA, let alone the middleweight division, but this is his chance to get the spotlight to himself, and you can expect him to pull out all the stops in order to take advantage of it. As for Branch, the New Yorker reinvented himself after his first UFC stint, and the results have been impressive to say the least, as he’s gone 12-1 outside the promotion. Now he’s back, and he’s strap hunting, but he’ll have a tough first hurdle to get over in Jotko.
EDDIE ALVAREZ VS DUSTIN POIRIER
I said it before and I mean it – this fight between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier could have been a main event on any other night. A former world champion (Alvarez) returns from the loss of his title against a hungry contender who always shows up to throw down (Poirier). If that doesn’t get you excited, you have stumbled on to the wrong website.
CHAS SKELLY VS JASON KNIGHT
Speaking of great fights that could have at least been on a main card any time other than May 13, featherweight up and comers Chas Skelly and Jason Knight collide in a bout that should land the winner in the top 15. So the stakes are high, but the action should follow suit, especially since some fans and pundits have started calling Knight “Mississippi Diaz.”
JARED GORDON VS MICHEL QUINONES
How did a couple of kids from Queens, NY wind up in Dallas? That’s the wild world of MMA for you, but you can rest assured that neither Jared Gordon or Michel Quinones care about the location of their UFC debut, only that they get a chance to display their skills in the Octagon and get a win on Saturday night. And both will be charging hard to get that victory.
JAMES VICK VS POLO REYES
Texas’ own James Vick is a helluva fighter who has not taken that next step into the public eye yet, but that could change on Saturday night should he score a big win over Marco Polo Reyes, another fighter who has been quietly and patiently making his name in a tough lightweight division thanks to an unbeaten (3-0) UFC slate.
JESSICA AGUILAR VS CORTNEY CASEY
More often than not, seeing Cortney Casey on a fight card causes groans from her fellow fighters, because “Cast Iron” has a way of taking Fight of the Night bonuses, and if she’s not engaging in three-round wars, she’s a threat for a Performance bonus because when she wins, she finishes. That’s why this fight with the returning Jessica Aguilar is a great reason to sign up for UFC FIGHT PASS if you don’t already have a subscription, because it’s a meeting of two of the best strawweights in the game in a matchup that almost guarantees fast-paced action. Who wins? Too close to call, so I’m not going near a pick on this one.
CHASE SHERMAN VS RASHAD COULTER
I have to say this for every Chase Sherman fight, so “Don’t blink” when this Mississippi KO king is in the Octagon. And this time, I’ll double it up, because Texas’ Rashad Coulter is no stranger to quick finishes either. So expect some leather slinging from the start, with one of these gentlemen adding to his list of knockout victories.
GABRIEL BENITEZ VS ENRIQUE BARZOLA
TUF Latin America alums meet in the Octagon Saturday night, and while Gabriel Benitez and Enrique Barzola have shown the talent to cement their place on the UFC roster, even more notable is the fire to win both have displayed. A war could break out in the Octagon on Saturday night, and these two might just be in the middle of it.
JOACHIM CHRISTENSEN VS GADZHIMURAD ANTIGULOV
If his debut win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima was any indication, Gadzhimurad Antigulov may just be the next fighter to shake up the light heavyweight division. But it’s the job of Joachim Christensen to slow his opponent’s ascension and make his own name at 205 pounds.