Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is right back at it with another event just four days removed from UFC 251 (recap), as UFC on ESPN 13 goes down later TONIGHT (Weds., July 15, 2020) on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The event will be headlined by a pivotal Featherweight showdown between Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige. In the co-main event, Tim Elliott faces Ryan Benoit in Flyweight action.
Alexander Volkanvoski retained his Featherweight title at UFC 251 this past weekend (Sat., July 11, 2020) at UFC 251, defeating Max Holloway a second time and eliminating one more contender for Kattar and Ige to worry about on their way to the title. While “Blessed” isn’t done — not by a long shot — it will probably be a while before he gets another title shot in the division after losing two straight to “The Great” ... regardless of controversy. Kattar is currently ranked No. 6, while Ige is sitting pretty at No. 10. That means a win for either man here drastically changes his spot in the rankings come next week, moving him closer to a future title shot. Kattar is looking to build off his momentum following a blistering knockout win over Jeremy Stephens at UFC 249 a few months ago (see it again here). At 5-2 in the division, Kattar is a legit threat to anyone standing in front of him. Against Ige, though, he is facing a young and very hungry contender who doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
After coming up short in his official UFC debut at UFC 220 following a win on “Contender Series,” Ige has racked up six straight wins in just two years. Among his notable victories is a big win over hard-hitting Edson Barboza, whom he defeated at UFC on ESPN 8 just a few short months ago (controversy notwithstanding). Ige has had a pretty rapid rise thus far, as there are some fighters who still can’t crack the Top 15 after five, six or seven straight wins. A win over Kattar would be huge for his stock because he can very well break the Top 5 in the blink of an eye, especially with Frankie Edgar gone, Jeremy Stephens coming off four losses and Josh Emmett on ice for the next year. Indeed, if Ige or Kattar want to make a big leap at 145 pounds the time is now!
It’s pretty hard to complain about the card because it was a pretty good line up when it was initially put together. But after several positive COVID-19 tests surfaced, bouts were reconstructed or flat-out canceled, taking some of the air out of the event. But there’s no need to pout, we just had a stacked UFC 251 event, and we have two more events coming up in the next 10 days.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
COVID-19 hit this event pretty hard. The event was set to feature a co-main event pitting Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz in what was set to be “The Answer’s” long-awaited Bantamweight debut. But after Munhoz tested positive for the coronavirus, the fight was canceled and ultimately rescheduled for UFC 252 next month. A women’s Strawweight bout between former division champion, Carla Esparza, and Marina Rodriguez was canceled after one of Rodriguez’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.
Also, Anderson dos Santos and Vinicius Moreira were removed from their respective bouts against Jack Shore and Modestas Bukauskas after both men tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, Shore will now face Aaron Phillips, while Andreas Michailidis steps in to face Bukauskas. Plus, UFC newcomer Timo Feucht, was set to face off against Kenneth Bergh but was released by the promotion last week after his past ties to Neo-Zazi groups surfaced. Jorge Gonzalez was set to take his place, but after Bergh was ruled medically unfit to compete by UFC doctors following a tough weight cut, the bout was canceled altogether.
There weren’t any injuries to speak of other than the multiple canceled bouts because of COVID-19, but several combatants did fail to make weight. Aside from Bergh’s woes, Abdul Razak Alhassan came in at 174 pounds for his Welterweight bout against Mounir Lazzez, while Chris Fishgold came in at 149 pounds for his Featherweight showdown against Jared Gordon. Both men will now have to forfeit 20 percent of their fight purses to their respective opponents.
Mounir Lazzez will make his official UFC debut when he takes on Abdul Razak Alhassan — who is in search of his fourth straight win — in Welterweight action. Winner of two straight, Lazzez can already look ahead to some extra coin ahead of his debut, as Alhassan will have to give him 20 percent of his fight purse for failing to make weight. At 9-1, Lazzez will look to make a statement, though he has a very stiff test ahead of him.
Khamzat Chimaev will look to stay undefeated (6-0) when he takes on John Phillips in his debut. Chimaev has won all six of his professional fights via stoppage, while Phillips recently got back in the win column in Sept. 2019 after losing his first three attempts under the UFC banner.
Modestas Bukauskas will look to keep his momentum going by earning his seventh straight win ahead of his UFC debut against Andreas Michailidis, who will also be making his short-notice UFC debut after stepping in for Vinicius Moreira.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Jared Gordon will look to get back on track after getting knocked out by Charles Oliveira in Nov. 2019. And he will attempt to do it with a makeshift team behind him. That’s because all of his original team is back home after they tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily for “Flash,” his good friend Paul Felder just so happens to be on “Fight Island” to serve a commentator for UFC on ESPN 13. But, UFC will allow “The Irish Dragon” to come off the booth to corner Gordon, alongside Xtreme Couture head coach, Erick Nicksick, when he faces Chris Fishgold.
Aaron Philips got a late call up to replace Anderson dos Santos against Jack Shore. Winner of five straight, Philips has four first-round finishes during his win streak. If you recall, Philips has already competed for UFC, going just 0-2 in his short four-month stint back in 2014. Hopefully, he will have better luck this time around.
A Featherweight showdown between Ricardo Ramos and Leon Murphy is one to watch for, as both men crack hard and are eager to climb the ranks. Ramos is currently on a two-fight win streak, going 6-1 in his last seven bouts with his loss coming to Said Nurmagomedov 1.5 years ago. Murphy, meanwhile, is 8-0-1 and failed to make a successful UFC debut last September, fighting to a draw against Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 242, also in Abu Dhabi.
To learn more about these and the rest of the “Prelims” undercard matches click here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Elliott recently revealed that he inked a four-fight contract extension with the promotion that paid him more than his old contract, even though he is on a three-fight skid. Still, while he has his UFC future locked down for another year or so, Elliott needs to score a win after dropping three straight. That’s because the promotion has the right to cut him at anytime, so if he can’t defeat Ryan Benoit, his new UFC deal could disappear as quickly as it was signed.
Interest Level: 5 of 10
Okay, so it’s not one of the best cards ever, but again, we will give UFC a pass here because the event was rocked pretty bad by several COVID-19 positive results. Plus, there’s not much else the promotion can do as far as replacement fights go because trying to ship a combatant all the way to “Fight Island” — as well as expect them to pass several pre-fight COVID-19 tests and take part in a mandated 48-hour quarantine — is simply too much to ask for in a short amount of time.
Jimmie Rivera and Cody Stamann got the late call up to make their way to “Fight Island” to engage in fisticuffs at 145 pounds just last week in an effort to make up for several lost bouts. Despite the short notice nature of the bout, it is still an intriguing one. Stamann made his successful return to Featherweight in his previous bout, defeating Brian Kelleher at UFC 250 a little over a month ago. Since making his UFC debut a couple of years ago, Cody is 5-1-1 and has emerged as a legit threat. The problem is, he won’t find much momentum if he keeps switching divisions. Rivera, meanwhile, is currently on a two-fight losing streak and has lost three of his last four fights inside the Octagon. He needs a win pretty badly here in order to prevent falling further down the hole.
Molly McCann is looking to score her fourth straight win under the UFC banner when she faces off against Talia Santos in women’s Flyweight action. Santos, meanwhile, is looking to get back in the win column after having her previously-undefeated record of 15-0 snapped by Mara Romero Borella 1.5 years ago in what was Talia’s UFC debut.
Enjoy the fights!
Full Fight Card:
UFC on ESPN 13 Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
145 lbs. Calvin Kattar vs. Dan Ige
UFC on ESPN 13 Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Tim Elliott vs. Ryan Benoit
145 lbs.: Jimmie Rivera vs. Cody Stamann
125 lbs.: Molly McCann vs. Talia Santos
170 lbs.: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Mounir Lazzez
UFC on ESPN 13 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: John Phillips vs. Khamzat Chimaev
145 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Lerone Murphy
205 lbs.: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Andreas Michailidis
145 lbs.: Jared Gordon vs. Chris Fishgold
125 lbs.: Diana Belbita vs. Liana Jojua
135 lbs.: Jack Shore vs. Aaron Phillips
Kenneth Bergh vs. Jorge Gonzalez Scratched
***Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to drastic change because of the various global quarantine restrictions.***
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 13 fight card TONIGHT right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 13: “Kattar vs. Ige” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.