Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to invade Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, this morning (Sat., Oct. 26, 2019) to stage UFC Fight Night 162, which streams exclusively on ESPN+. Headlining the event will be a Welterweight match up between two of the best grapplers in the game, as Demian Maia takes on Ben Askren. In the co-main event, Michael Johnson will face off against Steve Ray in Featherweight action.
Askren’s stint inside the Octagon has been rather peculiar to say the least. In his debut, he weathered a beatdown early on from Robbie Lawler to score a highly-controversial submission win over “Ruthless” at UFC 235 (see it). Four months later, “Funky” suffered the first loss of his career in record-setting fashion, getting knocked out by Jorge Masvidal in just five seconds at UFC 239 (see it again here). Now, Askren will look to right his ship when he embarks on what is a sure-fire grapplefest with one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners on the planet. Askren has always been known to be one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world, but his first few months inside the Octagon have many wondering if Askren was only excelling because he was fighting competition outside of UFC.
Maia, meanwhile, has turned it around as of late, winning two straight fights against Lyman Good and Anthony Rocco Martin, snapping his three-fight skid against three former and current world champions. At 41 years of age, there is no telling how much longer Maia has in the fight game, but over his last two contests, he has proven that he still has plenty left in the tank to hang with the best. If he can score a win over Askren, it will provide further evidence that the submission wizard isn’t ready to go anywhere and could be a legit threat to the division title.
Let’s face it, the card isn’t all that stacked. But in UFC’s defense, it didn’t start out that way. The removal of Greg Hardy and a fight between Ian Heinisch and Brad Tavares hurt the card’s interest level just a bit. We will discuss that a bit further down.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Hardy was all set to face Jarjis Danho in the co-main event, but the fight was scrapped and Hardy was booked to face Ben Sosoli at last week’s UFC on ESPN 6 event on Boston, Mass., which he won via unanimous decision. Of course, that result was overturned to a “no contest” after Hardy’s use of his asthma inhaler was deemed illegal by the athletic commission. Furthermore, a fight between Heinisch and Tavares fell through after the former was pulled for undisclosed reasons.
Yan Xiaonan was set to face Ashley Yoder on this card, but she suffered a foot injury and was replaced by Randa Markos. Karol Rosa and Julia Avila were set to tango in a women’s Bantamweight showdown, but the bout was scrapped altogether after Rosa came down with an injury.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard isn’t anything to write home about. Headlining the “Prelims” will be a fight between Randa Markos and Ashley Yoder, both of whom are looking to raise their respective stocks in the women’s Strawweight division.
In Lightweight action, Alex White looks for his first back-to-back wins since 2014 when he takes on Rafael Fiziev, while big men throw down at Heavyweight as Sergei Pavlovich (13-1) faces Maurice Greene, winner of three in a row.
There are two newcomers scheduled to make their Octagon debuts at this event, including Heavyweight contender, Don’Tale Mayes. Coming in with a record of 7-2, “Kong” is currently the proud owner of a four-fight win streak. He also has four knockout wins on his resume, so the man can pack a punch. Mayes earned his shot at the big leagues by scoring a first round knockout over Richard Prasel with one second remaining in the opening frame. He will look to keep his momentum going against undefeated (4-0, 1-0 UFC) Ciryl Gane, who has won all of his fights via stoppage.
Loma Lookboonmee may only have four professional MMA fights under her belt, but she has over 300 Mauy Thai fights to her credit. So to say she’s a seasoned fighter would be an understatement. Loma has two wins under the Invicta FC banner, and now she is looking to make a splash on the biggest MMA stage of them all. The kickboxer will have the obvious striking advantage over her foe, Aleksandra Albu, who is 3-1. 2-1 UFC. Albu suffered the first and only loss of her pro MMA career in her last outing, getting choked out by Emily Whitmire at UFC on ESPN+ 1 this past February.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Ben Askren isn’t in any danger of getting cut with a loss to Maia, but he needs a win in order to erase the horrible memory of his five-second knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal. That defeat just so happened to be his first-ever setback after going 19-0 in his previous bouts. That said, his win over Robbie Lawler is still controversial to some, so if the script was flipped, Askren could easily be 0-2 inside the Octagon.
A loss to Maia will further add to the critics who long believed Ben was beating lesser competition into the shows, and he wouldn’t have the same success inside the Octagon. A win over Maia silences those critics.
Interest Level: 5/10
Other than the main event, the rest of the card really doesn’t do much for me. I mean, you have fights like Ciryl Gane vs Don’Tale Mayes and Muslin Salikhov vs Laureano Starpoli rounding it out. The co-main event, though, may be one to steal the show, as Johnson and Ray love to bang it out on the feet and are entertaining to watch.
Johnson is coming off a brutal knockout loss to Josh Emmett (see it), snapping his two-fight win streak. Johnson has competed 21 times for the promotion over the last nine years, but he has failed to win on a consistent basis to get him close to a shot at the title. As for Ray, he hasn’t made enough noise to put him into contention, though his fight against “The Menace” will be his first co-main event. If he can score a win over the long-time veteran, it could be what he needs to gain some momentum. He has lost three of his last four, so he needs a win here in order to fall further down the totem pole.
All in all, the card is lacking, but don’t fret, the promotion is primed to close out the year with star-studded events, including the upcoming UFC 244 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which may or may not be in danger of losing a lot of its own star-power. And of course, UFC 245, which will feature a trilogy of title fights as well as two thrilling Bantamweight bouts (more on those here and here).
Nevertheless, this event has a very early start time stateside, so it’s not like there will be millions of viewers scrambling to their mobile devices to check out all the action before the main event starts to begin with.
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 162 Main Event:
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren
UFC Fight Night 162 Main Card on ESPN+ (8 a.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Michael Johnson vs. Stevie Ray
155 lbs.: Frank Camacho vs. Beneil Dariush
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Don’Tale Mayes
170 lbs.: Muslim Salikhov vs. Laureano Staropoli
UFC Fight Night 162 Prelims Card on ESPN+ (5 a.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Randa Markos vs. Ashley Yoder
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Alex White
145 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Movsar Evloev
265 lbs.: Sergei Pavlovich vs. Maurice Greene
125 lbs.: Alexandra Albu vs. Loma Lookboonmee
265 lbs.: Jeff Hughes vs. Raphael Pessoa
*Fight card, bout order and number of matches subject to change.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 162 fight card this weekend right HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 a.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 162: “Askren vs. Maia” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.