На эти выходных UFC вернётся в Канаду, и на этот раз в стране кленового листа пройдет большой номерной турнир. Главные роли этого события отданы представителям полулёгких дивизионов – женского и мужского. Сначала в октагоне встретятся местная любимица, претендующая на статус восходящей звезды, Фелиша Спенсер и легендарная Крис Сайборг. В главном бою вечера свой пояс будет защищать Макс Холлоуэй. Корону дивизиона в третий раз в своей карьере будет оспаривать Фрэнки Эдгар. Предлагаем подробнее рассмотреть эти и другие поединки на турнире UFC 240. И там есть, что обсудить.
MAX HOLLOWAY VS. FRANKIE EDGAR
Holloway and Edgar have been booked to fight for the featherweight title twice before, first at UFC 218 and then again at UFC 222. The first time around, it was Edgar who suffered an injury, leading to Holloway’s rematch with Jose Aldo, and the second time, it was “Blessed” who was sidelined, resulting in Edgar squaring off with Brian Ortega.
Now they’re finally going to share the Octagon together in the main event of this weekend’s return to Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The champion enters off his first loss in more than five years, having landed on the wrong side of the cards in his bid to claim the interim lightweight title in an entertaining rematch with Dustin Poirier at UFC 236. But when fighting at featherweight, Holloway has been unmatched, rattling off 13 consecutive victories, including twin stoppages of Aldo and a masterful performance against Ortega to close out 2018.
A fixture in the title picture across two divisions for nearly a decade, Edgar rebounded from his loss to Ortega with a polished, professional effort against Cub Swanson last April in Atlantic City. The 37-year-old former lightweight titleholder has gone 8-2 over his last 10 fights dating back to his featherweight debut and looks to become just the seventh fighter in UFC history to hold championship gold in two divisions.
CRIS CYBORG VS. FELICIA SPENCER
The last time Cyborg lost, she rattled off a 13-year, 21-fight unbeaten streak. While the 34-year-old is unlikely to still be competing when she’s 47, a return to the form that made her one of the most feared fighters in the sport is not out of the question as she looks to rebound from her first-round stoppage loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 by handing Spencer the first loss of her career.
Born in Canada and fighting out of Orlando, Florida, Spencer went 6-0 under the Invicta FC banner, closing out her run with a fourth-round submission win over Pam Sorenson to claim the vacant featherweight title. In her UFC debut, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt quickly submitted the previous titleholder, Megan Anderson, and on Saturday night in Edmonton, she’ll look to continue her run of success by knocking off the only other woman to previously hold the belt.
With Nunes having just successfully defended her bantamweight title earlier this month against Holly Holm, there is a very real possibility that the winner of this one could line up opposite “The Lioness” in December with the featherweight title hanging in the balance.
GEOFF NEAL VS. NIKO PRICE
Last week when the UFC Vancouver main event between Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje was announced, fans everywhere started salivating at the guaranteed crackerjack of a fight headed to Canada’s West Coast in September.
This is the indie version of that fight — same potential for fireworks, just there are far less people who know about these two proven hitters as they head into the third bout on Saturday’s pay-per-view main card.
All Neal has done since punching his ticket to the UFC with a first-round stoppage win on Season 1 of the Contender Series — up a division and on short notice, I might add — is rattle off three straight victories to push his overall winning streak to five. The Fortis MMA product submitted Brian Camozzi in his debut, head kicked Frank Camacho into defeat in his sophomore showing and outworked resilient welterweight Belal Muhammad last time out.
Price is a “kill or be killed” competitor who is allergic to boring fights. All eight of his UFC fights to date have ended inside the distance and he’s only gone to the cards once in his entire 15-fight career. “The Hybrid” is willing to put himself in harm’s way in order to connect with something forceful and showed last time out against Tim Means that even when you have him on the ropes, he’s still capable of putting you out.
This fight is going to be bonkers; trust me.
OLIVIER AUBIN-MERCIER VS. ARMAN TSARUKYAN
Once pegged as the top Canadian prospect on the UFC roster, Aubin-Mercier has climbed to within arm’s reach of the Top 15 in the lightweight division, but hasn’t been able to make the leap to the next tier.
Still just 30 years old, the quirky judo player put together a quality four-fight winning streak that included wins over Drew Dober and Anthony Rocco Martin that carried him into the second half of 2018, but back-to-back losses to Alexander Hernandez and Gilbert Burns now have him eager to get back into the win column.
When Tsarukyan was paired off with Islam Makhachev in his promotional debut back in April, it felt like a cruel introduction to life in the UFC for the Armenian. Though Makhachev emerged victorious, Tsarukyan showed he’s more than capable of hanging with the elite class of emerging talent in the 155-pound weight class, giving the surging grappler all he could handle in Saint Petersburg.
MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT VS. KRZYSZTOF JOTKO
A two-division champion under the TKO MMA banner, Barriault had his eight-fight winning streak snapped in his first appearance in the UFC Octagon earlier this year against Andrew Sanchez. But now that he’s gotten the first one out of the way and gotten a taste of what the competition is like in the big leagues, the 29-year-old French-Canadian will look to showcase the talents that carried him to this stage in his main card debut.
After climbing into the rankings on the strength of a four-fight winning streak, Jotko dropped three straight against veteran middleweights over the course of the next two years. Earlier this spring, the Polish veteran got back into the win column with a patient, composed effort against Alen Amedovski in Russia and now he looks to build on that success in Saturday’s pay-per-view opener against Barriault.
UFC 240 Embedded: Episode 1
UFC 240 Embedded: Episode 1
ALEXIS DAVIS VS. VIVIANE ARAUJO
Davis began her career with a loss to Sarah Kaufman and she’s been fighting tough, established competition ever since. Since moving down to flyweight, the Port Colborne native has established herself as a veteran presence in the middle of the rankings, posting a split decision win over current top contender Liz Carmouche and going the distance in close battles with both Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia.
The 34-year-old Canadian is the perfect measuring stick for Araujo, who made her UFC debut on incredibly short notice, up two divisions back in May, posting a third-round stoppage win over Talita Bernardo. Displaying fluid striking and excellent footwork, the Brazilian looked at home inside the Octagon and immediately established herself as one to watch going forward.
If she can build on that performance with a victory over Davis, Araujo will put herself in the thick of the title chase in the 125-pound weight class, setting herself up for a potential date with a Top 5 opponent as 2019 heads towards the finish line.
HAKEEM DAWODU VS. YOSHINORI HORIE
An impressive run under the World Series of Fighting banner sent Dawodu into the UFC with a ton of hype and buzz, but a rapid submission loss in his debut halted his momentum. Since then, the intense kickboxer from Calgary has registered back-to-back wins over Austin Arnett and Kyle Bochniak, showcasing the quick, powerful striking game that earned him acclaim on the way up the ranks and rebuilding his status as one of the top Canadian prospects on the roster.
Saturday night in Edmonton, Dawodu welcomes the 24-year-old Horie to the Octagon for the first time.
Training out of the Alliance gym headed by Tsuyoshi Kosaka, the Pancrase standout brings an 8-1 record to the UFC. Horie rebounded from his loss to former UFC competitor Issei Tamura with consecutive first-round stoppage wins and if he can roll into Edmonton and up-end Dawodu, the Japanese newcomer will send a lot of Albertans home unhappy while making an impressive statement in his first foray into the UFC cage.
GAVIN TUCKER VS. SEUNGWOO CHOI
It’s been a tale of two fights for Tucker in the UFC thus far. In his debut, the Newfoundlander styled on Sam Sicilia, sticking and moving his way to a unanimous decision win that pushed his record to 10-0. Seven months later, Tucker was on the wrong side of one of the most hellacious beatings of the last few years when he ran into Rick Glenn at UFC 215.
He’s back at the scene of his first professional setback this week, looking to exorcise some demons and get back into the win column with a victory over South Korea’s Choi on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Choi made his promotional debut earlier this year in Saint Petersburg, Russia, landing on the wrong side of a decision loss to intriguing featherweight prospect Movsar Evloev. The former Top FC featherweight titleholder had gone 7-1 prior to his UFC debut, avenging his only defeat with a second-round stoppage win.
His loss to Evloev was his first appearance in 16 months, so now that Choi has shaken off the rust, don’t be surprised to see a much more complete effort on Saturday night in Edmonton.
ALEXANDRE PANTOJA VS. DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO
Tucked in as the first fight on the televised portion of the preliminary card, this is actually a crucial clash in the flyweight division.
Figueiredo arrives looking to rebound from the first loss of his career, a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Jussier Formiga back in March. Prior to that, “Deus da Guerra” (God of War) had won 15 straight, including back-to-back second-round stoppage wins over Joseph Morales and John Moraga.
The top seed in the flyweight tournament on Season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter, Pantoja has gone 5-1 in the Octagon and enters Saturday’s all-Brazilian showdown on a three-fight winning streak. After finishing Ulka Sasaki to close out his 2018 campaign, “The Cannibal” kicked off 2019 with a first-round stoppage win over former title challenger Wilson Reis in April.
The 125-pound ranks are experiencing a resurgence, which makes this a key bout when it comes to sifting through the collection of talent jockeying for position in the title chase behind undisputed No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez.
GILLIAN ROBERTSON VS. SARAH FROTA
Robertson has been a pleasant surprise since coming off Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter. After entering the house with a 3-2 record and getting bounced from the competition by Barb Honchak in the opening round, “The Savage” has earned three wins in four starts, all by submission, while stamping herself as one of the top young talents in the 125-pound weight class.
Just 24, the American Top Team product has faced tough competition from the jump and continues to show improvements each time out. As she continues to gain experience, Robertson has the potential to blossom into a dangerous addition to the flyweight division.
Frota’s UFC debut was a bit of a nightmare. First, the Brazilian veteran missed weight by a considerable margin and then she suffered the first loss of her career, landing on the unhappy side of a split decision verdict in a showdown with former Invicta FC champ Livia Renata Souza.
The Astra Fight Team member has now relocated to flyweight in hopes of avoiding any further misses on the scale and if she can get back into the win column in Edmonton, the 32-year-old will put herself in position to potentially challenge a Top 15 opponent next time out.
UFC 240: Max Holloway - Top 5 Finishes
UFC 240: Max Holloway - Top 5 Finishes
ERIK KOCH VS. KYLE STEWART
Koch’s UFC career has been a strange odyssey that includes a featherweight title fight that never came together, more fight cancellations than actual appearances in the Octagon, and numerous injuries and issues that have limited him to just three fights in the last five years.
Despite all that, the Roufusport product is still only 30 and returns to action this weekend in Edmonton, looking to halt a two-fight skid. The former featherweight and lightweight is now competing at welterweight and while it’s difficult to know what to expect from the “Phoenix” at this point, his game used to be built around a diverse striking arsenal with strong grappling to back it up.
It will be interesting to see if Koch can tap into the skills that once made him a rising star in the sport.
Standing across the cage will be fellow 30-year-old Stewart, who earned a victory on Season 1 of the Contender Series, but failed to secure a contract. He returned to the regional circuit, where he posted three wins in four fights, then jumped at a short-notice opportunity in January, which resulted in a submission loss to underrated welterweight Chance Rencountre.
The military veteran has faced tough competition throughout his career and is the kind of stout jack-of-all-trades who should give the returning Koch all he can handle on Saturday night.
TANNER BOSER VS. GIACOMO LEMOS
The night kicks off in the heavyweight division with a pair of newcomers looking to start the night in explosive fashion.
Boser has long been considered one of the top prospects in Canada and the heavyweight division, but his arrival to the UFC stage has taken longer than many anticipated. “The Bulldozer” has spent the last couple years battling experienced competition on the regional circuit and makes his debut with just one loss in his last six starts.
A native of Bonnyville, Alberta, this is a hometown fight for Boser, who will be looking to get the night off to a good start for the Canadian side on Saturday.
Looking to spoil his debut and hand the first of eight Canadians scheduled to compete a loss will be Lemos, an unbeaten Brazilian 30-year-old who has never seen the scorecards through six professional appearances.
Fighting out of Florianopolis, Lemos earned his last two victories competing in Seoul, South Korea, where he won and then successfully defended the Angel’s Fighting Championship heavyweight title with twin second-round stoppages.