Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is all set to stage UFC on ESPN+ 9, taking place this Saturday night (May 4, 2019) inside Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The event will be headlined by a pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, as Al Iaquinta faces off against Donald Cerrone. In the co-headlining act, Derek Brunson takes on Elias Theodorou in Middleweight action.
Donald Cerrone has given up on his pursuit of scoring a big-money showdown against former UFC champ-champ Conor McGregor because idle hands (and feet) don’t get paid. That’s why “Cowboy” — who is not accustomed to taking long layoffs in between fights — opted to sign on the dotted line to headline UFC Ottawa against Al Iaquinta.
It’s a fight that could prove to be as -- if not more — challenging than “Notorious.” Iaquinta has long been one of the toughest outs in the UFC, winning six of his last seven fights, with his only loss coming at the hands of current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
McGregor isn’t in the title picture at the moment, and once “The Eagle” and Dustin Poirier take care of business later this year, it will leave a clear path for either “Raging Al” or “Cowboy” to go in for a shot at the strap. Tony Ferguson is always hanging around, but he hasn’t been active in some time. Plus, he’s got more important issues to take care of. Indeed, the stakes are high in this fight, even if it isn’t billed as such.
I am a bit confused at the pairing between Shane Burgos and Cub Swanson. Cub has dropped three straight, while Shane is 4-1 in his last five UFC fights, so the matchup is a bit odd when you look at it that way. I’m just not a big fan of booking a rising contender against a struggling veteran.
But I can see why Burgos would sign on for this fight, as Swanson is a big name in the game and has been around the block a few times. Plus, he’s ranked No. 10, while Burgos isn’t even in the top 15. So perhaps Shane’s thinking he can get a bit more shine if he can take out a longtime vet.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Leah Letson was removed from her fight against Sarah Moras due to a mysterious medical issue and was ultimately replaced by Macy Chiasson. Brian Kelleher and Mitch Gagnon were set to throw down on this card as well, but “Boom” was forced out with an injury and replaced by UFC rookie, Cole Smith.
Aside from Letson and Kelleher, Siya Bahadurzada was struck down with the injury bug, which forced him out of his matchup against Nordine Taleb and replaced by Kyle Prepolec.
Undefeated (9-0) Heavyweight prospect Sergey Spivak will look to keep it going in his Octagon debut. The big man has won all but one of his fights in the very first round, so the man can pack a punch and has submissions to go with it. In his way is Walt Harris, who recently got a slap on the wrist from USADA. Believe it or not, Harris has been fighting for UFC for around five years now, he just hasn’t been able to get a good streak going to get into the spotlight. A win over Sergey would be huge here.
Undefeated Bantamweight Cole Smith — who has had only one fight go the distance — will look to make a splash inside the Octagon when he faces off against veteran Canadian Mitch Gagnon. Gagnon is a hard-nosed combatant who has fallen on hard times, losing his last two fights. Breaking his skid won’t be easy, as Smith is a tough out, even if he’s a UFC rookie.
How The “Prelims” Look:
I’ll be honest with you, the underbelly of the event isn’t anything to go crazy over. Aiemann Zahabi, younger brother of famed trainer Firas Zahabi, will look to score his second win inside the Octagon when he faces Vince Morales, who laid an egg in his UFC debut.
Plus, Nordine Taleb will look to avoid a three-fight skid against UFC newcomer Kyle Prepolec. Headlining the “Prelims” is a women’s Bantamweight showdown between Sarah Boras and Macy Chiasson. To get a better look at the “Prelims” click here and here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Cub Swanson has dropped three in a row, which is odd because prior to this lengthy losing streak he had won four straight and was on the cusp of challenging for the Featherweight title. Brian Ortega, though, halted his momentum by choking him out.
Two more losses later, and Cub is need of a win if he wants to remain on the roster. His opponent Shane Burgos is no joke, as he has only lost once in his entire MMA career, racking up an impressive 11-1 mark so far. Four-straight losses won’t look good on Swanson’s resume and there is no telling what direction UFC will take should he come up short again.
Interest Level: 6/10
While the headlining bout between “Cowboy” and Iaquinta is going to be fire and could very well produce the next title contender at 155 pounds, the co-main event between Derek Brunson and Elias Theodorou could be just as interesting. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that Brunson was facing the likes of Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker and Ronaldo Souza. But his slump as of late has taken him out of the running for big time bouts. Elias, meanwhile, has been on quite the hot streak as of late, winning three straight, with his last win coming against Eryk Anders at UFC 231. Brunson, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row and will be coming out firing.
Plus, former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner Brad Katona will look to keep his undefeated streak (8-0) alive when he faces Merab Dvalishvili. And of course, Swanson will look to break his slump against a tough Shane Burgos. For Swanson, getting a win is of the utmost importance if he wants to face a dreaded pink slip. While not the most stacked event, it could very well exceed expectations, as most events such as this usually do.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC on ESPN+ 9 Main Event:
155 lbs.: Al Iaquinta vs. Donald Cerrone
UFC on ESPN+ 9 Main Card (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Derek Brunson vs. Elias Theodorou
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Cub Swanson
135 lbs.: Merab Dvalishvili vs. Brad Katona
265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Sergey Spivak
185 lbs.: Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Andrew Sanchez
UFC on ESPN+ 9 Prelims (5 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Macy Chiasson vs. Sarah Moras
135 lbs.: Vince Morales vs. Aiemann Zahabi
170 lbs.: Nordine Taleb vs. Kyle Prepolec
145 lbs.: Kyle Nelson vs. Matt Sayles
265 lbs.: Juan Adams vs. Arjan Bhullar
135 lbs.: Mitch Gagnon vs. Cole Smith
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
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