It’s business as usual for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), for now, as UFC Fight Night 170 will indeed go down later tonight (Sat., March 14, 2020) inside Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil, despite the coronavirus outbreak. In the headlining act, Kevin Lee will tango with Charles Oliveira in lightweight action, while Demian Maia and Gilbert Burns collide in a welterweight bout in the co-main event.
Despite other major sports organizations such as the NBA, MLS, MLB and NHL postponing or delaying their current seasons because of the coronavirus plaguing the entire planet, UFC decided that the show must go on. With a few adjustments, of course, such as some events relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada, where the promotion owns its very own venue to stage fights. For UFC Fight Night 170, the event will go still go down in Brazil, but fight fans will not be allowed to attend in order to prevent any potential spread of Covid-19. Of course, disaster still nearly struck the event after Lee missed weight for the fight, coming in 2.5 pounds heavy. But after some negotiating, Oliveira agreed on a payout from Lee’s fight purse and the fight will go on as planned.
Barring a last-minute cancelation such as this one, of course.
As for the bout itself, it’s an interesting one to say the least, as Lee and Oliveira both have a lot riding on it for different reasons. For Lee, a win is crucial here as it will give him his first consecutive win streak since 2017. In his last outing, “The Motown Phenom” knocked out Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244, snapping his two-fight losing streak. Over his last four bouts, Lee has gone a sub-par 1-3. Slump aside, Lee is still a dangerous opponent for anyone, and since he is still determined to fight for a world title and possibly score big fights against Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, he will come in highly-motivated. And he will have to, as all Oliveira has done since mid-2018 is win, earning six straight victories inside the Octagon. By the way, despite “Do Bronx’s” impressive win streak and Lee’s struggles, “The Motown Phenom” is still ranked five spots above the Brazilian bomber, proving once again that UFC’s official rankings are nothing more than a popularity contest. Because if you don’t believe Oliveira is a Top 10 fighter, you’re crazy.
Both men come to scrap, but when it comes to the standup department, I’ll give the edge to Lee, as well as the wrestling advantage. Once on the ground, however, it’s all Oliveira, who has five submissions over his last seven wins. Can he strike? Yes. But against Lee, his best bet is to try and take the fight to the ground, which is easier said than done given the wrestling Kevin possesses. While the Detroit native is simply trying to string together a few wins to stay relevant in the division, Oliveira has something bigger going for him, as he can finally break the Top 10 and inch himself closer to a title shot which at one point seemed impossible to get.
I can’t complain too much here, as the card is pretty well-balanced for a Fight Night event. Plus, while the world is reeling and adjusting due to the current pandemic affecting literally everyone, UFC went against the grain and decided to proceed with the card. As a result, it will be one of the few sporting events going down this Saturday around the world. While some don’t agree with the move I, for one, welcome it if fighters want to willingly compete. If they had united and decided that fighting at this time simply isn’t the right thing to do, then I’d agree with that, as well.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Paige VanZant and Amanda Ribas were all set to throw down at this event, but after “12 Gauge” suffered yet another health setback, Randa Markos was pegged as a replacement for the women’s strawweight bout.
Aside from VanZant’s setback, Brad Tavares was forced out of his scheduled middleweight bout against Antonio Carlos Junior with an injury. After UFC booked Junior to take on Makhmud Muradov, he bowed out of the fight weeks later with an injury of his own and Muradov was taken off the card altogether.
For this event, only one person is set to make his Octagon debut, and that is David Dvorak, a flyweight contender looking to pump some new blood into the division. Yes, the 125-pound weight class is still chugging along. Dvorak has been on a tear over the last seven years, winning 13 straight fights, last tasting defeat in 2012. Which begs the question: What took UFC so long to sign him if the weight class needs all the talent it can get? Nevertheless, he is here now and looking to make a splash on the biggest MMA stage of them all. What’s even more impressive about the win streak, is that he has finished every single one of his opponents during that span, with no one making it past round two. Standing in his way is Bruno Silva, who failed to make a splash in his debut after coming up short against Khalid Taha at UFC 243.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard features a couple of intriguing match ups, including the 125-pound showdown between Jussier Formiga and Brandon Moreno. Brandon has looked good since returning to UFC, defeating Kai-Kara France at UFC 245 last December. Formiga, meanwhile, had his four-fight win streak snapped by Joseph Benavidez, so he will be fired up to get back to his winning ways in order to get back in the championship hunt.
Alexey Kunchenko is desperate to get back into the win column after suffering the first loss of his career to Gilbert Burns last October. Prior to the defeat, Alexey had won 20 straight fights. His foe, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, is also looking to get back on track after having his seven fight win streak snapped last August.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Renato Moicano was at one time considered to be a legit title contender. But after back-to-back knockout defeats to Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung, the Brazilian bomber’s stock took a huge hit. Like many other struggling fighters have done in the past, moving up a weight class wasn’t an option for Renato, who will continue to fight at 145 pounds for the foreseeable future. But if he can’t get a win over Damir Hadzovic on Saturday, expect him to pack on some pounds for his next fight.
Interest Level: 7/10
It’s a pretty good lineup to be honest. In the co-main event, Demian Maia will battle Gilbert Burns. Demian has enjoyed a nice little career resurrection as of late, winning three in a row including scoring an impressive win over Ben Askren. His run is preceded by a horrid three-fight win streak that had the jiu-jitsu ace wondering if retirement was around the corner. But after stringing together his latest win streak, the former title contender has found a new lease on his combat life. Trying to get win number four will prove to be a tough task, as Burns is also on his own run, winning four straight in the highly-competitive welterweight division.
Also, Randa Markos will look to earn her second straight victory as she faces off against Amanda Ribas, who is flying high after handing Mackenzie Dern her first loss, which also earned her consecutive win number three.
We also have a pretty good light heavyweight scrap between Johnny Walker and Nikita Krylov to compliment the main card. Walker is looking to get back into the win column after suffering a knockout loss to Corey Anderson at UFC 244 last November, which ended his nine fight win streak. It won’t be an easy task, as Krylov is a talented individual with his own skills to get the job done inside the cage. While he is only 1-2 in his last three fights, he’s still a formidable foe and it would behoove Walker to take him seriously come fight night.
Enjoy the fights ladies and gentleman, as it will be slim pickins’ for your sports entertainment this weekend.
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 170 Main Event on ESPN/ESPN+:
155 lbs.: Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira
UFC Fight Night 170 Main Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Demian Maia vs. Gilbert Burns
115 lbs.: Amanda Ribas vs. Randa Markos
155 lbs.: Renato Moicano vs. Damir Hadzovic
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov
125 lbs.: Bruno Silva vs. David Dvorak
UFC Fight Night 170 Prelims Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi
170 lbs.: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Aleksei Kunchenko
135 lbs.: Enrique Barzola vs. Rani Yahya
125 lbs.: Jussier Formiga vs. Brandon Moreno
125 lbs.: Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Maryna Moroz
135 lbs.: Veronica Macedo vs. Bea Malecki
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 170 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 170: “Lee vs. Oliviera” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.