UFC FIGHT NIGHT DENVER PREVIEW
By LEIGH DENT
In the fashion that we have come to expect, the main card for this Saturday’s UFC card in Denver has underwent somewhat of a transformation; firstly, in the widespread disappointment brought about by Frankie Edgar’s injury, leading to this week’s announcement of the total absence of a flyweight bout between Ray Borg and Joseph Benavidez (which in even more recent news, we have discovered we may never see.)
However, a ‘Fight Night’ always hold promise in showcasing up and coming talent, as well as providing a platform for fights that are, well…simply fun. Here’s a rundown of who’s who on the card.
Trizano vs Pena
This should be an interesting bout, if not for the fact that both Michael Trizano and Luis Pena were both ‘cast members’ on the recent TUF27. For any readers who may not have followed the show, Pena had to make an unfortunately premature exit from the competition, due to an injury which cut his run short. Despite Trizano actually winning the competition, it is ‘Violent Bob Ross’ which seems to have captured the imagination of fight fans, if not for the moniker alone. Both undefeated to date, and both with a great deal to prove, this could potentially be one of Denver’s ‘hidden gems.’
Barber vs Cifers
Another of Dana’s DWTNCS finds is Maycee ‘The Future’ Barber. At only 20 years old, she has five professional bouts to her name, with submissions and KOs in equal measure. This Saturday, it will be Hannah ‘Shockwave’ Cifers facing her in the octagon. Cifers is the slightly more experienced fighter with an additional 5 fights under her belt, but with both ladies making their UFC debut, I would imagine that both women will be eager to make their mark on the strawweight division. Again, this could be another ‘one to watch,’ both figuratively and literally.
Dariush vs Moises
With two wins and a draw from his last three fights, Beneil Dariush is a lightweight with something to prove. He faces Thiago Moises this weekend, another of Dana’s Contender Series alumni. With UFC debuts comes anticipation; could this be a new lightweight to get behind or will they somewhat fade into the background? This is an interesting matchup however, in telling the tale of a more experienced fighter needing to return to the W column against an up and coming ‘rookie’ who wants to make his mark on the division and make his name known.
Pennington vs de Randamie
After what many cited as a lacklustre ‘run’ in the always- striving featherweight division, de Randamie makes her return back down to 135lb. Perhaps not a fan favourite after her bout with Holly Holm and accusations surrounding fighting ‘dirty,’ coupled with her blatant reluctance to ‘defend’ against Cyborg (which isn’t too difficult to empathise with), it will be interesting to see the reception she receives.
Her opponent in Denver will be bantamweight staple Raquel Pennington. With a record of 9-6, Pennington is a prime example of how a fighter’s record only tells half a story, with her only recent losses coming off bouts against the ‘big cats’ (namingly ‘The Lioness) of the division. Speaking of Nunes, with her upcoming ‘superfight,’ and the fact that both Raquel and Germaine are now both in the top 5 rankings, it’s time to step up and hopefully carve a path to a top contender spot.
Cerrone vs Perry
The Denver card has the potential to bring us some unremarkable decision wins, but a Cowboy/ Platinum matchup surely promises anything but. A seasoned veteran of the sport, Cerrone has a score to settle after a disappointing 2017. Cowboy somewhat turned it around with his impressive round 1 KO against Yancy Medeiros in February of this year, but conversations circulating whether Cerrone has entered his ‘twilight’ years are inevitable.
With a KO rate of 92%, Mike ‘Platinum’ Perry will undoubtedly be looking to end this fight and with both fighters not making too much of a mark on the welterweight rankings, it will be an all-out brawl…but more importantly, it will be fun. The longer this fight goes on, the more potential it has to be one of those fights that will stay in our memories and our conversations for some time.
Sung Jung vs Rodriguez
When ‘Zombie’ was announced to face Frankie Edgar, it was a fight that immediately caught my attention. I would imagine I speak for most when I say that Edgar’s injury struck disappointment in us all, but fear not, this may still be a superb fight. ‘Zombie’ earned his moniker from his ability to push forward regardless of threat or damage, and it is this which fans will be eagerly looking to see on Saturday. A Sung Jung fight is a treat for MMA fans, in that although we see it far more rarely than we would like, it rarely disappoints.
His opponent this Saturday is Yair Rodriguez, who after his mysterious release/almost instant reinstatement within the company, will make an interesting return after a lengthy lay off. With some notable wins and a 6-1 run in the UFC so far, Rodriguez will be looking to cement his place in the featherweight division, and hopefully reassure Mr. White that he made the right decision in his bizarre reinstatement. Politics aside, this should be an excellent ending to the card, Frankie or no Frankie.