After last week’s rousing sold out pay-per-view event at the Toyota Center in Houston, the UFC Fight Night returns to Las Vegas this weekend. There are some fights on the main card with the potential to be very entertaining. While the atmosphere won’t be as electric as it was for last week’s title fight, there will still be plenty of action to keep fight fans entertained. Let’s get into it.
Jack Hermansson vs. Eden Shahbazyan
Jack Hermansson is almost ten years older than Eden Shahbazyan. He’s got more than double the professional fights to prove it. Affectionately known as “The Joker,” the 32 year old Hermansson hasn’t fought in almost six months when he lost to Marvin Vettori in a unanimous decision. Since entering the UFC in 2016, he is yet to get a shot at the middleweight title. If he’s going to get his chance, he must make sure the current streak he is on does not extend to two losses in a row.
Until he suffered a knockout defeat at the hands of Derek Brunson last August, Eden Shahbazyan was undefeated and considered a rising star in UFC. The good news for him is he’s still just 23 years old and his best days in the octagon are presumably ahead of him. If “The Golden Boy” wants to once again become one of the top contenders for the middleweight championship, he’ll have to get back to his winning ways.
David Dvorak vs. Raulian Paiva
David Dvorak has won 15 fights in a row. However, he is a relative newcomer to the majority of fans; he made his UFC debut in March of last year. After impressive runs in organizations like Oktagon and Gladiator Championship Fighting, Dvorak is hoping to establish himself as one of the best flyweights in the most widely viewed mixed martial arts platform in the world.
Raulian Paiva had two very impressive wins last year and he’s looking to extend his winning streak to three in a row. He is, however, coming off of a long layoff and it will be interesting to see how the time off has impacted his skills. He was scheduled to face Amir Albazi in October of last year but pulled out of the fight due to a knee injury. He hasn’t been in the octagon in an official capacity since July of 2020. He’ll have to have had a great camp if he’s going to have a shot at beating a hungry fighter like Dvorak.
Felicia Spencer vs. Norma Dumont Viana
At UFC 250, Felicia Spencer got the chance she’s always wanted when she faced Amanda Nunes for the featherweight title. Unfortunately for Spencer, the night belonged to Nunes; she lost by unanimous decision. That fight took place eleven months ago. Spencer must bounce back from that epic disappointment and return to her winning ways if she’s ever going to get another shot at the title.
For Dumont Viana, he next bout will be her third fight in the UFC organization. She’s one and one in her previous two. If she wants to make a name for herself beating a fighter like Spencer, whose already had a shot at the title, will do the trick.
Justin Tafa vs. Jared Vanderaa
Justin Tafa first grabbed the attention of sports fans when he signed with the Melbourne Storm in Australia’s rugby league. However, after a series of injuries, he decided his talents were better served as a fighter. In January, he lost a split decision to Carlos Felipe. He’s hoping to get back to his winning ways against Jared Vanderaa this weekend.
Jared Vanderaa suffered a second round stoppage at the hands of Sergey Spivak in February. While he’s not yet considered a contender for the heavyweight title, Vanderaa is respected as one of the most powerful men in the division, who can end a fight with just one shot. Beating a well rounded athlete like Tafa would do wonders for his overall fighting reputation.
Yan Xiaonan vs. Carla Esparza
Since her UFC debut in November of 2017, Yan Xiaonan has won six consecutive unanimous decisions. While she’s not known as an exciting fighter capable of scoring a stoppage, he legitimate martial arts background makes he a respected technician in the octagon.
Carla Esparza’s background is more heavily concentrated in wrestling; she was a two time All-American in the sport at Menlo College. She formerly held UFC’s women’s strawweight championship, but lost her first attempt at a title defense. Beating a fighter with the universal respect of Xianonan would be a great step towards another title shot.
Rob Font vs. Cody Garbrandt
The last time we saw Rob Font inside the octagon, he was awarded the “Performance of the Night” for his first round knockout of Marlon Moraes. He’s entering this weekend’s event on an impressive three fight win streak. While he knows he can’t overlook the opponent in front of him, his ultimate focus is on Aljamain Sterling, the current bantamweight champion. Font is ranked third in the division; an impressive performance at the Apex in Las Vegas could see him catapult to number one contender status.
After winning the UFC bantamweight championship in December of 2016, Cody Garbrandt lost his first attempt at a title defense to T.J. Dillashaw. He was granted an immediate rematch; unfortunately for Garbrandt the results were the same. He is yet to get another title shot after suffering those back to back defeats. Garbrandt is a proud man who published his autobiography at the age of 27. He desperately wants another shot at the title and impressive performance against Font would do wonders for those aspirations.
This week’s UFC Fight Night will take place at the Apex Center in Las Vegas. It is available to viewing audiences on BT Sport in the United Kingdom and on ESPN Plus in the United States.