Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., Feb. 24, 2018) for UFC on FOX 28 from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., featuring a Featherweight scrap between Josh Emmett and Jeremy Stephens. In the co-main event, Tecia Torres will face on Jessica Andrade in an interesting women’s Strawweight bout.
Josh Emmett made a huge statement in his last fight, knocking out Ricardo Lamas in the first round last December (see it again here). While getting two straight wins was great for Emmett, getting the “W” against a long-time veteran like “The Bully” put him on the map and also gave him his first-headlining duties. Now, he will have to live up to it and prove he deserves his newfound attention by tying to take out another UFC OG in “Lil Heathen,” who is coming off two impressive wins over Gilbert Melendez and Doo Ho Choi. This will be Stephens’ second straight headlining card, so another win will only keep giving him that many more opportunities.
I am really liking the co-main event, as Andrade and Torres are known for bringing it night in and night out (see here for proof). Andrade is coming of a dominant win over Claudia Gadelha, while Torres has been on a hot streak, winning three in a row and was last seen rag-dolling Michelle Waterson. In fact, Torres’ lone loss ever came against current division champion Rose Namajunas. If she can get a win over Andrade she could be in line for a rematch against “Thug Rose” in a title fight, assuming Namajunas can make it two-for-two against Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
The event was originally set to be headlined by a Middleweight throw-down between Yoel Romero and David Branch. But, after Romero got the call up to face Luke Rockhold at UFC 221 in an interim title fight, Branch was left off the card altogether.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz was initially slated to face Andrade in the co-main event, but she was ultimately replaced by Torres. Yana Kunitskaya was originally set to face Sara McMann, but she was also removed from the card and replaced by Marion Reneau. But don’t fret, as a consolation prize Yana was given a women’s Featherweight title fight against Cris Cyborg, which will serve as the main event for UFC 222 on March 3, 2018. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for Yana.
Jake Collier had to pull out of his fight against Marcin Prachnio with an injury, while Gadzhimurad Antigulov also had to bow out of his scheduled bout against Aleksandar Rakic with an injury. A few days prior to fight night, Gilbert Burns was forced out of the card after UFC officials declared it would be unsafe for him to continue his weight-cutting process. As a result, his fight against Olivier Aubin-Mercier was scratched.
Marcin Prachnio will make his Octagon debut against long-time veteran Sam Alvey on the “Prelims” after Marcin inked a deal with UFC following his impressive eight-fight win streak and is coming over from ONE Championship. Undefeated (10-0) Manny Bermudez will make his UFC debut when he faces off against the struggling Albert Morales. Bermudez had gone on a tear under the Cage Titans FC banner, which was good enough to get a call up to the big leagues.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard has a few interesting fights on it, starting with the headlining bout that will see former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao take on Brian Kelleher. Speaking of Barao, has there ever been a faster fall from the top than this guy? One day he’s considered one of the top pound-for-pound best fighters in the world, a 135-pound champion, and the next he’s trying to fight his way out of the undercards after losing four of his last six fights.
Also, Sara McMann will face off against Marion Reneau, while Ben Saunders looks to hand Alan Jouban his third straight defeat inside the eight-walled cage in Welterweight action. “Smile’n” Sam Alvey also returns in search of the winners circle when he welcomes promotional newcomer Marcin Prachnio in a Light Heavyweight bout.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Albert Morales has lost two in a row and has only managed to rack up a 1-3-1 record during his stint with the promotion after coming in with a perfect record (6-0). Should he suffer his third straight defeat against Manny Bermudez, I wouldn’t be surprised if UFC decides to let him go back to the regional circuit where he enjoyed all of his success.
Interest Level: 7/10
It’s a pretty decent night of fights, as the next women’s 115-pound title contender could be crowned, and we get to see whether or not Emmett can keep his “real deal” theme going against a hard-nosed veteran who packs an equal amount of power in his fists.
Furthermore, Ilir Latifi will make his return to face off against former Light Heavyweight title contender Ovince Saint Preux. I really like this fight, as a win for “Sledgehammer” could be what he needs to start getting a bit more love when it comes to handing out big fights in the divisions. For “OSP,” it’s a chance to collect his fourth win in a row and continue his ascension up the division ladder. Plus, the always-boisterous Mike Perry will make his return after getting schooled by Santiago Ponzinibbio last December to face Max Griffin, who is a sub-par 1-2 thus far inside the eight-walled cage.
We should be in for an interesting night of fights!
Full UFC on FOX 28 Fight Card:
UFC on FOX 28 Main Event:
145 lbs.: Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens
UFC on FOX 28 Main Card (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Jessica Andrade
205 lbs.: Ilir Latifi vs. Ovince Saint Preux
170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Mike Perry
UFC on FOX 28 Prelims (6 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Renan Barao vs. Brian Kelleher
135 lbs.: Yana Kunitskaya vs. Sara McMann
115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Maryna Moroz
170 lbs.: Alan Jouban vs. Ben Saunders
UFC on FOX 28 Prelims on Fight Pass (4 p.m. ET):
O livier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns(Canceled - Details Here)
205 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Marcin Prachnio
135 lbs.: Russel Doane vs. Rani Yahya
125 lbs.: Alex Perez vs. Eric Shelton
205 lbs.: Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Aleksandar Rakic
135 lbs.: Manny Bermudez vs. Albert Morales
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