Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Las Vegas, Nevada tonight (Sat., February 6, 2016) as the MGM Grand Garden Arena will play host to the UFC Fight Night 82: "Hendricks vs. Thomspon" event, live and free on FOX Sports 1.
Catch all the action LIVE with a main card start time of 10 p.m. ET (for up-to-date UFC Fight Night 82 results click here).
Below is everything you need to know to stay on top of the Fight Night event.
Who: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
What: UFC Fight Night 82
When: Sat., February 6, 2016, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
How To Watch: Main card at 10 p.m ET on FOX Sports 1; FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" under card at 8 p.m. ET; and UFC Fight Pass early "Prelims" at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Live UFC Fight Night 82 results: Play-by-play coverage stream right here
Why It Matters: Even with the UFC 196 pay-per-view (PPV) event being changed to UFC Fight Night 82 after the loss of the Heavyweight title scheduled for the main event, the newly formed Welterweight main event holds major consequences for both men.
Johny Hendricks was once sitting atop the Welterweight division prior to Robbie Lawler taking away the title at UFC 181 in December 2014.
In his very next fight, Hendricks had the opportunity to earn another shot at UFC gold by defeating Matt Brown, but after a lackluster decision, UFC brass opted to have the former champ fight rising contender Tyron Woodley at UFC 192.
Unfortunately for "Bigg Rigg," poor dietary management and a rough weight-cut forced UFC brass to scrap the fight just hours before the official weigh-ins.
About four months later, Hendricks returns to the cage against No. 8 ranked Stephen Thompson, now gifted a main event slot and a chance to stake his claim as the No. 1 contender.
As for Thompson, a five fight winning streak dating back to 2013 has "Wonderboy" on the cusp of a UFC title shot. With a win over a former champ at UFC Fight Night 82, Thompson could very well be next in line to battle Robbie Lawler.
What's Hot: Not too much outside of the main event.
While I would usually get excited for a Roy Nelson fight, his opponent Jared Rosholt has consistently put in less than stellar performances.
Who knows, maybe Nelson will earn a savage knockout over "The Big Show," thus pleasing the MMA masses watching on FOX Sports 1.
The only other meaningful fight on the card is the Flyweight bout pitting former Bellator Champion Zach Makovsky against former two-time UFC title challenger Joseph Benavidez.
While I am not certain either man would get a crack at Demetrious Johnson's belt with a win in Las Vegas, there is no question it is a very important fight in the grand scheme of the Flyweight division.
What's Not: Just about everything else on this card.
Losing the Heavyweight title fight that was supposed to be the main event of UFC 196 was a massive blow to this already weak event, and thankfully UFC brass agreed enough to not go forward with the PPV.
While it is hard to bash a free card on television, the truth is this event was never constructed to be a great PPV anyhow, and now it will go forward as a mediocre UFC Fight Night.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
As you may have already noticed, UFC Fight Night 82 went through some major changes over the last several weeks, including changing the event from UFC 196 to Fight Night 82.
The reason for the change was spurred by Cain Velasquez pulling out of his main event title rematch against Fabricio Werdum just about two weeks ago.
UFC brass tried to salvage the card by having Stipe Miocic step up on short notice to fight for the title, but then Werdum opted to pull out of the fight citing his own injuries.
With no title fight scheduled, UFC scrapped the PPV and changed the event to UFC Fight Night 82: "Hendricks vs. Thompson."
Ironically, no other changes occurred in the lead up to this event.
Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson: CM Punk's first UFC opponent will be determined tonight on UFC Fight Pass, when UFC newcomers Mickey Gall and Mike Jackson square off in a Welterweight affair. Gall is a Dead Serious MMA veteran who was found on Dana White's "Looking For a Fight," while Jackson is a 1-0 amateur in MMA making his pro debut inside the Octagon.
Alex Nicholson (vs. Misha Cirkunov): "The Spartan" will make his UFC debut tonight following five straight finish victories on the regional MMA scene. Nicholson has finished all six of his professional MMA victories, and could be an intriguing prospect in the Light Heavyweight division moving forward.
Damian Grabowski (vs. Derrick Lewis): At 35-years old, Damian Grabowski will make his Octagon debut in the Heavyweight division. "The Polish Pitbull" is 20-2 in his career, finishing 11 fights via submission, and another six via knockout.
How The "Prelims" Look: If you have to miss the UFC Fight Night 82 "Prelims" live, it certainly wouldn't be a travesty.
The only fight that provides intrigue is the Flyweight affair pitting Justin Scoggins against Ray Borg. Both fighters have a penchant for putting on exciting shows, and truly could be top five contenders over the next several years.
Outside of that fight, there is slim pickings.
The "Prelims" main event pitting Josh Burkman against KJ Noons could potentially be an exciting fight, but both men are essentially irrelevant in the Lightweight division for now.
Who Needs A Win Badly: This portion is reserved for fighters who could be fighting for their jobs today, rather than contenders or title challengers needing victory. Let's take a look at those who need to pull it together:
Artem Lobov (vs. Alex White): To be honest, I am stunned "The Russian Hammer" was given a second UFC opportunity after his dismal showing at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 22 Finale last December. Lobov is 11-11-1 in his MMA career, and his prospects moving forward are not all that bright. A loss to Alex White will undoubtedly result in him being cut from the promotion.
Mike Pyle (vs. Sean Spencer): While I am not certain UFC brass would cut fan-favorite Mike Pyle with a loss tonight, a two-fight losing streak has "Quicksand" drowning fast. The 40-year old needs to prove he can still compete against elite competition, or he will have to hang up his gloves for good.
Josh Burkman (vs. KJ Noons): After a fruitless stint in the Welterweight division that saw "The People's Warrior" lose two straight fights, Josh Burkman could be fighting for his UFC roster spot in the main event of the "Prelims" on FOX Sports 1. At 35-years old, it will be interesting to see how the weight cut affects Burkman on fight night.
Rafael Cavalcante (vs. Ovince St. Preux): The former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight kingpin Rafael Cavalcante has struggled mightily since joining UFC in 2013. "Feijao" is 1-3 in his four Octagon bouts, including two straight losses to Patrick Cummins and Ryan Bader. If the Brazilian can't right the course this evening, he likely won't be fighting for UFC much longer.
Interest Level: 5/10
It is hard to muster up any interest for UFC Fight Night 82 after losing the Heavyweight title fight, but there are still a handful of fights that make this event worth watching.
The main event is an extremely intriguing bout pitting a great wrestler against one of the most savvy strikers in the division, and if we are treated to a similar bout as Hendricks vs Condit, we could be in for a classic.
The two Flyweight contests are the other noteworthy fights, and with a couple Heavyweight battles planned as well, we could be in for some wild finishes.
Check out the full UFC Fight Night 82 fight card right here:
FOX Sports 1 Main Event:
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rafael Cavalcante
125 lbs.: Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson
170 lbs.: Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer
FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons
265 lbs.: Damian Grabowski vs. Derrick Lewis
125 lbs.: Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
145 lbs.: Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (7 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson
145 lbs.: Artem Lobov vs. Alex White
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 82 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the main card start time of 10 p.m. ET.
For more information on UFC Fight Night 82, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.