Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., May 19, 2018) to stage UFC Fight Night 129 from inside Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, and airing on FOX Sports 1. The event will feature a welterweight showdown that will see Kamaru Usman challenge Demian Maia, while Alexa Grasso faces Tatiana Suarez in the co-main event of the evening.
Kamaru Usman has slowly been climbing the ranks in the welterweight division. The problem, according to him, is that none of the top contenders want to see him inside the cage. The No. 7 ranked fighter in the division, however, finally got his man as he was paired up against Demian Maia after Santiago Ponzinibbio was forced out with an injured hand.
Usman has been calling for a bout against Demian since 2016, so now it’s time to put up or shut up and deliverer on the first-round finish promise he made. As for Maia, the long-time veteran and all-around class act who never chirps and only fights, he recently declared that his combat career could be coming to an end after his next four fights. He isn’t looking at the finish line just yet, as he still wants to prove he can hang with the best of them, recently striking a new deal with UFC. That said, taking out “The Nigerian Nightmare” would be huge for the submission specialist.
The rest of the card is not the most enticing, but it’s the best the promotion could do after the main and co-main event slots that were originally planned took a hit, which we will discuss below.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
This card was screwed over royally after a headlining bout between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Usman was axed after Ponzi came down with an injury, forcing the promotion to turn to Maia on a few weeks notice. Plus, an intriguing co-main event showdown between Mauricio Rua and Volkan Oezdemir was cancelled and rescheduled for a later date due to “No Time’s” legal issues.
Furthermore, Ray Borg was forced to withdraw from his showdown against Brandon Moreno to care for his newborn son, who has been battling like a little warrior after a couple of brain surgeries. We’re praying and pulling for you baby Anthony!
Aside from Ponzinibbio’s unfortunate setback, there were no other major injuries reported for this event. Whether they are reported afterward, remains to be seen.
Andrea Lee will finally maker her UFC debut after a few delays when she steps into the Octagon for the first time to take on Veronica Macedo. “KGB” is currently riding a four-fight win streak and is expected to bring a lot to the women’s flyweight division.
How The Prelims Look:
They’re decent, but nothing to write home about. The underbelly of the event will be spearheaded by a welterweight showdown between Zak Cummings vs. Michel Prazeres. In women’s strawweight action, Poliana Botelho and Syuri Kondo will look to climb the rankings as both are riding impressive win streaks ahead of their clash. Brandon Moreno, meanwhile, will finally get to scrap after his fight against Ray Borg was cancelled at UFC 223 due to Conor McGregor’s rampage. And after Borg was forced out of this event, UFC officials did Moreno a solid by bringing in Alexandre Pantoja to fill the void.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
If we’re going by strictly wins and losses, Henry Briones needs a victory in the worse way as he has dropped three in a row. And since the bantamweight division has a pretty full roster, losing four straight won’t do him any favors when it comes time to thin the herd.
Interest Level: 5/10
I get it, due to unforeseen circumstances this card took several hits. And with the promotion focusing most of its attention to the upcoming slate of pay-per-view (PPV) events this summer, there isn’t much more left to go around.
That said, I am highly-interested in the main event of the evening, as “The Nigerian Nightmare” will have to put up or shut up after talking quite a game over the last year. For Maia, he has the opportunity to start his possible retirement tour with a bang.
Alexa Grasso was seen as the next rising contender and potential star, but her momentum was halted after running into Felice Herrig early last year. She managed to get back on the winning track, but she did so by barely scratching out a split-decision win over Randa Markos.
Now she will have the chance to prove she has what it takes to be a legit star and contender if she can take out the undefeated (5-0. 3-0 UFC) Suarez, who is looking to make a name for herself, too.
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 129 Main Event on FOX Sports 1:
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Kamaru Usman
UFC Fight Night 129 Main Card on FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez
205 lbs.: Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes
135 lbs.: Guido Cannetti vs. Diego Rivas
125 lbs.: Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee
170 lbs.: Chad Laprise vs. Vicente Luque
UFC Fight Night 129 Prelims on FOX Sports 2 (8 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Michel Prazeres vs. Zak Cummings
125 lbs.: Brandon Moreno vs. Alexandre Pantoja
115 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Syuri Kondo
145 lbs.: Gabriel Benitez vs. Humberto Bandenay
UFC Fight Night 129 Prelims on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Brandon Davis
135 lbs.: Henry Briones vs. Frankie Saenz
155 lbs.: Claudio Puelles vs. Felipe Silva
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