Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business today (Sat. Sept. 2, 2017) after a four-week hiatus for UFC Fight Night 115, which is set to go down from inside Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The UFC Fight Pass card will feature a Heavyweight fight between Alexander Volkov and towering striker Stefan Struve. In the co-main event, Siyar Bahadurzada takes on newcomer Rob Wilkinson.
The good thing is mixed martial arts (MMA) is back in your lives after a month-long hiatus to make way for the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. Stefan Struve will look to climb the 265-pound ladder as he eyes his third straight win against Alexander Volkov, who has won four in a row.
The bad thing is there isn’t much of a card to get excited about aside from the main event, unfortunately. How bad is the card? The co-main event is Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Rob Wilkinson. No disrespect to those two talented men, but the lack of talent on the card shows by the placement of this fight.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Abu Azaitar was expected to face Siyar Bahadurzada in his UFC debut at this event, but pulled out and was replaced by fellow newcomer Rob Wilkinson. Islam Makhachev pulled out of a scheduled bout against Michel Prazeres and was replaced by Mads Burnell. Marcos Rogerio de Lima was pulled from his Saparbek Safarov fight after he was notified of a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.
After Marcos Roferio de Lima was flagged by USADA, Saparbek Safarov was also forced off the card with a rib injury. Nick Hein was set to face newcomer Zabit Magomedsharipov, but pulled out on Aug. 21 because of an injury. Hein was replaced by promotional newcomer Mike Santiago. Ex-UFC Women's Featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie was expected to faced Marion Reneau at the event, but pulled out of the fight with an injury and replaced by Talita Bernardo. Talk about getting bit by the injury bug.
All of the countless injuries allowed many newcomers to make their unexpected debuts at this event. Rob Wilkinson, Mads Burnell, Mike Santiago, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Talita Bernardo will all fight inside the Octagon for the first time. Also making their debuts for the promotion are Aleksandar Rakic and Abdul-Kerim Edilov.
How The “Prelims” Look:
Just ... dreadful. With a bunch of newbies making their way onto the card, it’s really hard to get excited about the underbelly of an event that was already lacking in star power.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Thibault Gouti, yes, that Thibault Gouti, is riding a three-fight losing streak, dropping all of his fights inside the Octagon since entering the promotion back in 2016. Should he lose his fourth straight fight against Andrew Holbrook, don’t be surprised to see him get his walking papers shortly thereafter.
Interest Level: 3/10
I really, really, really cannot get excited about this event ... at all. Call me a hard critic if you’d like, but in a day where people want excitement, and fast, you have to start with big names and good matchmaking. Now, the event could turn out to be fireworks, but getting people interested in it is half the battle, and it’s a battle UFC lost. Plus, it’s not like too many people are thrilled with UFC’s digital platform at the moment. And once again, overseas fight fans get stuck with an event the promotion hopes to sell tickets to based on the UFC brand alone. That said, the Heavyweight bout could prove to be fireworks, as Volkov — the former Bellator MMA champion — looks to put a stamp on his current run inside the Octagon and perhaps punching his way up the ladder with a win over season veteran Stefan Struve. Indeed, it could end early — don’t blink!
Full UFC Fight Night 115 Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 115 Main Event:
265 lbs.: Alexander Volkov vs. Stefan Struve
UFC Fight Night 115 Main Card (3 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Marion Reneau vs. Talita de Oliveira
185 lbs.: Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Rob Wilkinson
170 lbs.: Bryan Barberena vs. Leon Edwards
UFC Fight Night 115 Prelims (11:30 a.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickovic
155 lbs.: Felipe Silva vs. Mairbek Taisumov
155 lbs.: Mads Burnell vs. Michel Prazeres
155 lbs.: Desmond Green vs. Rustam Khabilov
205 lbs.: Francimar Barroso vs. Aleksandar Rakic
145 lbs.: Mike Santiago vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov
205 lbs.: Abdul-Kerim Edilov vs. Bojan Mihajlovic
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